Thursday, December 6, 2012

from John Sandford

I have a few "favorite authors" - those that I will read absolutely everything they write that I can get my hands on.  Dennis LeHane is one, I've mentioned him many times.  So is Jennifer Haigh.  And then there are writers that I read regularly, not necessarily because they're my favorite writers but maybe because I'm following their character thru a series (Sue Grafton's Kinsey Malone) or because I started with their first book & am numbly making a collection (John Grisham), or because I enjoyed one of their books & am hoping I'll enjoy more (but haven't quite yet, as would be the case with Scott Turow).  There's more, many more but amongst the collection is a stand-out.  This writer has had my heart from the first opening line I read and I've followed him & his characters (yeah, he has more than one), through book after book after book, and I've stalked him on Facebook, repeatedly check his website and joined his forum.  He is the writer I hold high above the rest.  He is not just my favorite of my favorites, he's THE BEST storyteller I've ever read, and if I thought about it, I'd have to say, he's the writer I respect the most (Stephen King would be a close second).

Who is this highly regarded phenomenon?  None other than...

I met him, in the literary sense, when my flight attendant roommate brought home "Rules of Prey," a paperback a passenger gave her as he exited her plane.  I picked it up & didn't put it down until I turned the last page.  I immediately went to the bookstore - Waldenbooks - and picked up his next two novels - same main character, same series, all have the word "Prey" in the title - already out in paperback.  I read them both within a few days and said, "when's the next book coming out?" 

Ahhhh, herein lies the problem: because I'm quirky (I admit it), I can't buy the hardbacks because I started my series collection in paperback.  Yeah, really.  Soooo, not only do I have to wait for the new books to release, I have to wait for them to be released in paperback!!!  That's, like, forever!

But I've made it through, and have even included his spin-off series in my reading collection.  I harbor every word, I covet every book.  I think this man humbly walks on water.  Such an inspiration to me (he started out as an investigative journalist), I'm in awe of him - and the reason I'm posting all this about him now is because this is what he posted today on

I've got a complete draft of Silken Prey, but it still needs a lot of work. I'll spend the next month doing that, the editing, take a week or so off, and then get started on the next Virgil Flowers novel. I think one problem that beginning writers have is that they try to make the first draft perfect -- and perfection is tough. I don't work that way. I try to get a decent first draft, then really bear down on the rewrite. A rewrite's a lot easier to get done when you know the whole arc of the novel. In the first version of this novel, for instance, the personality of the chief villain, a woman whose name is Taryn Grant, is a little too vague. I need to punch her up a bit, but really, that only takes a few hundred words, and because I now know all of her appearances in the novel, I can spread those words out to the appropriate places. (A novel has a certain pacing, which is damaged if you put in big blocks of description ...or characterization. You can take all the information from those blocks, break it up, spread it around, achieve the same end, and nobody notices.)

Feel like that is written just for me!  He's saying, "you can do it, but ya gotta just do it."  Damn.  He's not just a great storyteller, he's a great writing coach, too.

Saturday, October 27, 2012


image from Wikipedia

OMGosh...  humored my son & let him drag me to see this movie.  Sinister.  The name says it all.

A true crime writer, in hot pursuit of his next "big thing" that will re-put him on the map - his "In Cold Blood" as he himself tries to explain to his reluctant & fed up wife, stumbles upon a wealth of information about horrific,gruesome,  ritualistic entire-family deaths, including the death of the family that lived in his house before he and his family moved in... 

His immediate reaction is to contact the police, but then he realizes the information is his & his alone - this could be "it" for him.  He decides to continue his research on his own.  Eventually, his research leads to history repeating itself.

Once you know the story in it's entirety, you can't help but wonder if it would have made any difference in the end if he had brought the police in...  And you ponder if his situation - his "secret" knowledge - was unique to the fact that he was a true crime writer.  Had you or I stumbled upon the information, most likely, we wouldn't have kept it to ourselves - we would have called the police immediately.  So, the previous victims that were stalked...  did they have knowledge of the previous crimes??? 

Just curious.

The ending leads to alot of post-thought, which means it's pretty good, right?  If it was "silly" or "stupid" we'd dismiss it right away.  But this one keeps me thinking, has me wondering, "what happens next???" 

Was the film worth the $62 we spent for the 3 of us to go (three tickets + food & drink) and me losing my phone (we found it!)?  Uh, yeah, I think it was.

A good creep-me-out for Halloween is always welcomed!


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Leo, Leo, How Far Out Thou Are, Dear Leo

If you asked me if I was a Leonardo DiCaprio fan, I'd say, "no, not really."  But the truth is, I do appreciate his work.  I realized some of my favorite movies are "Leo Movies."

I'm coming to realize I'm a romantic & Titanic is a truly romantic move.

This movie had me on the edge of my seat.  I still think about it.

Totally bizarre, totally unrealistic, but I was totally mesmerized.

My favorite book by my favorite author.  The movie followed it almost exactly, so I completely "got it."  From what I understand, not everyone did.  Their loss.

Upcoming:  The Great Gatsby.  I think he's PERFECT for the role.  Cannot wait.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

did I sell out???

When I got Kindell the Kindle, I immedately bought a cover to keep him safe.  Of course, I went to Amazon, my all time favorite store!  I picked a beautiful red one - my favorite color.  The day after I placed my order, I got a confirmation email that my item had shipped already - how exciting!!!

So, I spent the next two weeks running to the mailbox everyday:  did it come today?  Is it here yet???  Well, it never was...  After such huge daily disappointments, I went back to my order confirmation and then the shipping notice.  There was nothing to suggest any kind of delivery delay, but I did notice there was no tracking information.  Hmmm....  what's up with this, I wondered...

After a few more weeks of it not arriving, I tried to contact the vendor.  There was a long distance (of course) phone number, and not toll free, but when I called all I got was a recorded message advising that packages travel from overseas and often take weeks to arrive!  This is the FIRST I was hearing of this!  Just to make sure, I went back & reverified the information I had, includiing researching other items for sale by the same vendor & can find NOTHING to let the buyer know it's an international purchase.  Even more frustrating is that once the recorded message ran its course, the call is disconnected - there is no opportunity to leave a message or any additional information on how to reach the vendor.  So frustrating!!!

I can be tenacious and after I researched the seller online outside of Amazon in search of some contact information, I sent a message to the seller through Amazon's "contact seller."  I never heard back.  My last recourse was to reach out to Amazon.  They were soooo helpful but said they could not get involved until 3 months had passed.  At this point, I only needed to wait 2 weeks to hit that mark.  Incredibly, after 3 months, the package had still not arrived, and I still had no further information from the vendor.  True to their word, Amazon stepped in on my behalf and contacted the vendor through their means.  They confirmed the package had been shipped, but there was no tracking information because the vendor sent it regular mail.  Aaarrrggghhh!  So... if it's lost in the mail there's no recourse?  There's no way to find out where it is right now???  How close, how far?  Delivered, mis-delivered, left with a neighbor, sent to a wrong address, waiting @ a post office in another state or right around the corner?  Better yet, if it finally arrives but I say it didn't, then the vendor cannot prove otherwise?  You know, this really just doesn't seem like good business (common) sense to me!

But, you know, about a week later, it did arrive!  Finally, and I was a happy girl, but this customer service faux pas just didn't sit well with me.  When I got the email request for feedback, I gave it.  Yep, my honest opinion.

A few days later, the company emailed me and asked me to remove my negative feedback.  I refused.  They apologized but I said, "not good enough."  I explained that while I would never do business with them again, they needed to make some changes for their other customers, namely, identifying themselves as an international company,  to send their packages via a trackable method AND to provide a means for customers to contact them directly, not just some bogus state-side message that asked for continued patience!  They promised to make changes, now would I please retract my negative feedback.  Um, nope!  So, they appealed to my logical side.  My pocket book.  They offered to refund me in full.  I declined, again.  They offered AGAIN.  I asked them if they'd make the changes I requested.  They promised they would.  I pondered it for a few days, then relented.  Yeah, I sold out and deleted my feedback.  Before you can do that, Amazon wants to confirm the retraction is of your own free will and not because of pressure from the seller.  I just hate to lie!  I didn't know what to do...  I wanted Amazon to know that the seller had pressured me, but I had given my word to the vendor that I'd delete the negative comment.  My inner conflict was decided by posting a blog about the whole thing.

I don't feel good about my decision, even though I ended up getting the cover for free.  I think I'd rather have spent the money and had an honest transaction.  Blogging about it doesn't help me feel any better.  Yeah, to answer my own question, I did sell out.


Monday, April 30, 2012

Where Am I?

Let's see...

I finished rearranging my bookshelves and I set aside probably 2 of the hundreds of books to give away.  Despite my rant & my renewed enthusiasm to cut back & cut down, I cannot pry these beauties off my shelves.  ~sigh~

I've discovered, unfortunately, two websites that give me DAILY links for Kindle freebies.  Yeah, really.  Like I need that.  I try to be very selective with what I download (the majority of my Kindle libray is freebies).  'Tis not easy - they all sound good...  My idea to have a quarterly Kindle Update blog post has fallen to the wayside, huh?  Kinda afraid to do that, cuz, well, it might freak me out.  But THANK YOU freebie-notification-websites for contributing to my continued over-indulgence!  YOU ROCK!!!  

In the past few months, I've read two more books off my Kindle!  That's a total of 4 since I got it for Christmas 2010.  (yay, me.  ~sign again~)  Oh, and did I mention I got a Fire for Christmas 2011?  I love it!!!  I can play Words with Friends in between chapters.  Who know technology could be sooooo fun?

First up:  Design on a Crime by Ginny Aiken

Product Details

Decorating AND a mystery?  Who could resist???  It was a freebie - and it was silly.  Not to spoil anything but WHY would you eat something laced w/poison just because someone is holding a gun on you?  They are going to kill you anyway, Dumbass.  Just say no.  Then run like hell.  I mean, really.

Second up:  Stuck in the Middle by Virginia Smith (Holy Cow!  Check out that price - $30.95???  WTHeck?  And I got it for free????  Wow.  Thanks!)

Product Details

Super cute & had me hooked before long, despite it being ChickLit, specifically Christian ChickLit, but I loved it & can't wait to read more.  Thought it was GREAT.

161 Project is 4 books down, one on the nightstand.  Enjoying the Kindle Fire too much to pick it up.  Hmmm, should I share what's got me so distracted???  Well, that would be "Fifty Shades of Gray."  (Don't tell anyone, but I'm not exactly impressed, but then I'm only 30% done.  It's supposed to floor me by the end.  We shall see.)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

161 Project: #5 - The Given Day

Honest to goodness, I don't know how long it has taken me to read this book.  It has been slow going, but I did it - I finished all 704 pages, including 2 of acknowledgements, because...  because... because I just could not stop reading.

Plain and simple.

The Given Day: A Novel

There is nothing, nothing, plain & simple about this book.  First off, Dennis Lehane (I make no bones about this) is one of my favorite authors and it was this respect for him that pushed me on to not leave one word behind.  It's what propelled me through the tough times of this book, which were probably the first 350 pages...

I thought about shutting it down more than once.  As much as I love Dennis Lehane, this was different from what I've read of him in the past.  His McKenzie-Gennaro series reveals a dark, gritty Boston full of sinister evil that I can only take in small doses - after a few novels I need a break & cavort towards "chick lit" to clear my mind, and heart, of those distressing images his words conjure up.  But this novel, The Given Day, wasn't his usual.  It went deep into the soul and twisted through history, brought tears to my eyes and pain to my heart, filled me with pride and flooded me with shame. 

At the end, I had a single thought:  Wow.

I am walking away with so much more from this novel than I brought of me to it.  I'm a little overwhelmed, actually.  My mind is reeling with thoughts of who I am as a writer (well, who I hope to be), the turbulent times our country went through being born and growing through its infancy, the sanctuaries we think we have but then cease to be, the hard realities of this world - the fear, the pride, the illusions, the misunderstandings, the deceptions, the tidal waves of change and yet that neverending glimmer of hope through it all...

As always, I fail to do justice here.  I can't get the words down.  I can't describe what I'm feeling.  I can only  hope that somehow the message does come across, although, I honestly don't know how it ever can.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

testing, testing, 1-2-3 testing

I am TRYING to auto post blog updates to Twitter.  Is it working????


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Step One... the new library

A bookshelf is as particular to its owner as are his or her clothes; a personality is stamped on a library just as a shoe is shaped by a foot.  ~Alan Bennett

Finally.  A niche carved out in the basement for my volumes of books (ignore the exposed ceiling, please).  Nine feet wide and eight feet tall - and still not finished with stocking these shelves!  I'm filled with a mix of melancholy wistfulness:  a combo of elation, excitement, depression, fear, apprehension, disgust.


Yep...  elation, excitement, depression, fear, apprehension, disgust.

Elation & Excitement:  finally, finally, FINALLY, the books are released from storage & set free to live & breathe on the shelves!  What joy to see book lined shelves - absolute joy!!!

Depression: sure are a lot of books on here that I've had for years... years!... and haven't even cracked the spine of...

Fear & Apprehension:  so many books, so little time...  what if I can't read them all?  What if there is something really important in here that I should have known before now?  What have I missed out on?  How come there are 2 copies of this same book???  Grrr...  What on earth do I read next?  How do I decide???  What about my ever-growing list of "books to be read"?  How will I ever stay current with the "hot list" if I'm stuck in time reading what I should have read 10, 15 years ago???  What happens to these beloved books if I die?  Will my family treasure & appreciate them as much as I do?  Will they keep them or give them away?  What if, what if, what if???

Disgust:  what the hell is wrong with me that I've invested so much money over the years & then not read these books?  Why did I buy some that I did?  Was I thinking I would learn something from this topic?  Was "everybody reading it" so I had to buy a copy, too?  Did I buy it for a true internal purpose or for show?  Just who am I trying to impress anyway???  Am I really going to read this, I mean, really???


OK, doom & gloom rant over!  I'm either going to jump in with both feet or throw in the towel.  That's a decision for another day, tho.  Because today I'm going to finish unpacking these books & stocking these shelves.  Then the slow, painful process of honest elimination can begin. 

~double sigh~