Monday, May 31, 2010

Non-sparkly aMUSEment

Until this weekend, I'd kind of forgotten about the hotness of Ethan Hawke. I can hardly remember a movie I've seen him in, and despite the fact I have heard he's written a book or two, I've never read them.

But then I watched Daybreakers with my handsome husband on Saturday night and now I'm definitely back on the Hawke bandwagon.

In Daybreakers, Ethan plays a non-sparkly vampire named Edward. He's a blood scientist in a society where there are more vampires than humans - in fact, the human race is on the verge of extinction. Edward's superiors want him to find a blood-substitute. Edward would rather find a cure.

I loved the movie, even though it hasn't had great reviews. In a vampire-saturated marketplace (no complaints here), Daybreakers offered something different. A bit of dark, a bit of fun.

The movie also reminded me of how much I love Ethan Hawke. Which is why I've cast him in the role of muse avatar for the week. It's been a while since I've checked out his work ethic, but he does possess some of those material characteristics I require... Hopefully he'll provide enough inspiration to push me to completion. Again.

Sidenote: Paul Bettany was also in the running for muse avatar this week. But then I watched Legion. Really. Bad. Movie. So bad not even the sexy Paul could save it. So sad.

Seen either movie? What did you think? Any flicks on your list this past weekend?

The Book In My Bag Today: Dead Frog on the Porch, Jan Markley

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Book 31 - Imitation in Death

Somebody get me a bucket of ice water - Nora Roberts (J.D. Robb) sure can write a love scene.

I'm pretty sure I've read Imitation in Death before but it's been a while, and after finding a treasure trove of In Death books at a recent used book sale, I'm giving up on trying to go in order - I can never remember where I left off in the series.

Not to worry, though. If you're familiar with this series (and I'll go on record to say you should be), you know exactly what I mean when I say that Roarke is an amazing male specimen. The chemistry between him and Eve is extraordinary - something I never fail to note with each of the books in this series. And of course, Eve is a brilliant character. Sigh.

But then, you'll notice I tend to gush over Nora a lot. She's such a smooth writer, and her grasp on human relationships is wonderful. Whether it's her J.D. Robb books or her straight up romances, Nora knows how to evoke intense emotion. No surprise several parts in this novel brought tears to my eyes.

The In Death series is set in the future where Pepsi comes in tubes and people commute in hovercrafts. Real food (and coffee) is reserved for the rich and planet hops are as common as taking a vacation to Hawaii. In Imitation in Death we're transported back in time - though not physically. The villain is imitating famous historical killers, starting with Jack the Ripper.

The thriller writer in me is fascinated with the methods of muderers (famous or not), and most of the killers imitated in this book are somewhat familiar to me. Still, I loved the modern twists. (And Karen, darling, if you have NOT read this one, you need to...)

There's a (small) piece of me that would love to try my hand at a police procedural, but I doubt I have the skill to weave together the parts of the puzzle with any kind of authenticity. Luckily, there's enough books in this series to quench my need.

The Book In My Bag Today: Dead Frog on a Porch, Jan Markley

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Shuffling the soundtrack

My muse wanted to write last night. Honest.

The file was open on my desktop (step one). The radio played softly in the background. I'd just poured a fresh Diet Coke with a splash of whiskey, and handsome hubby was finishing off the last of dinner's dishes (yeah, I'm lucky like that).

Prime. Writing. Time.

Then wham! A familiar Goo Goo Dolls song filtered through the living room and somehow infected my muse with an insatiable urge to watch a movie. Not just any flick, but City of Angels - the very movie featuring the very song playing on my stereo.

I fought the urge, albeit with little enthusiasm.

Handsome husband was drying the last plate when I turned to him and asked: Hey, have you seen City of Angels? He scrunched his nose a bit, shook his head - and I read his mind. Chick flick? I softened it with: It's got Nic Cage in it.


And just like that, the laptop lid is closed, I'm downing the drink, my radio's off, there's a box of Kleenex at my side, and the City of Angels DVD is plugged in and ready.

Oh how easily my muse is distracted.

As I tossed and turned before succumbing to sleep last night, I thought about the power of that Goo Goo Dolls song. The lyrics are powerful and obviously perfect for the movie: I'd give up forever to touch you. (swoon) My reaction upon hearing them was instant.

This isn't the first time music has compelled (or distracted) me. When I hear Goodbye Horses by Q Lazarus I think of Silence of the Lambs. If I hear a Ramstein song, I want to watch XXX - though, a picture of Vin Diesel will do that as well. And I've watched Twilight a couple of times after hearing the soundtrack echo from my stepdaughter's room. One of my favourite movies is Streets of Fire, partially because I love Diane Lane, partially because I love Michael Pare, and mostly because I love, love, love the music. It's a rock and roll fable! How cool is that? (Also, it reminds me of my youth, because my sister and I watched it every year when we were kids. That and Hot Dog. I was a crappy babysitter...)

When I write, I listen to music. But it's often my character's soundtrack. Jagger, for instance, loves Audioslave and I think I'd be hard-pressed to sing a single line from an Audioslave song. Mario likes Madonna - and, um, Marilyn Manson. I know, he's eclectic. And although Nico has probably never heard a Muse song, that's what is playing in the background when I'm pushing through the confessional scenes.

Sometimes I wonder if later, when the novel is complete and hopefully on the shelf, will certain songs remind me of its creation? Is there a single song that will become the song?

How about you? Do you write/work to music? Do any songs make you want to dance? sing? watch a specific movie? What are the songs that make up the soundtrack of your life?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Muse packing it in

It's a sad day for me, folks.

After eight seasons of 24, Kiefer Sutherland is packing it in - no more 24-hour ticking time bombs, no shuddering plot twists, no agonizing love scenes with women who just die anyway, no more shouting, torturing and shooting.

No. More. Jack Bauer.


Sexy Ian had his hands full last week as my muse after the mishap (linked here for you because hey, I like torture) and while he honestly came through, I need an avatar with a bit more aggression if I want to see these revisions across the finish line (again).

I figure after tonight, Kiefer's going to be bored. That post-24 feeling - a little lost, a little sad, a little stir crazy. I have no doubt I'll be able to relate.

So, maybe Kiefer and I could help each other out.

He's been my muse avatar a few times (much to my handsome hubby's head shaking dismay) but he does such a good job. He's hard on me, like he is with terrorists. He knows just how to break me - right before the breakdown. And well, yeah, I'm kind of crushing on him.

No writing tonight, though. You'll find me with a box of kleenex on the couch watching my modern-day MacGyver bring closure to eight seasons of ridiculous and brilliant television. It's ok if you don't agree - I'm not likely to share him :-)

The Book In My Bag Today: Imitation in Death, J.D. Robb

Friday, May 21, 2010

Book 30 - Thirsty

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: You want to go here today. Creepy Query Girl has an awesome interview with Harry Bingham on her blog.

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming:

When my BF and I started this whole 100 Books in 2010 challenge, we laid down a few ground rules.

For one, picture books didn't count. Short story collections were fair game, and YA definitely qualified.

We vowed to genre hop. We promised to peek outside our comfort zones, even if just a little. Fair rules, don't you think?

But since I'm also a writer - and thus read a considerable amount of first draft material from my amazing writerly friends - I made one more rule for myself: I couldn't count any of their unfinished, unpublished material.

I first broke that rule with Margaret Macpherson's truly awe-inspiring literary novel Body Trade. Although unpublished, I have little doubt it will be: this isn't her first book and she has many pub credits to her name. Plus, Body Trade was, essentially, complete, so really, I was only breaking the "unpublished" part of my rule.

Not even halfway into the challenge, I'm bending the rule again, this time after finishing a thorough read of Thirsty (tentative title), a (pretty much complete) young adult novel by Edmonton author-extraordinnaire Rita Feutl.

Set in a dystopian future where water usage is tightly-controlled (and limited), Thirsty is the story of four quirky children who use MacGyver -like thinking to protect Earth from completely losing it's most precious resource. The underlying message is subtle, but clear;  the theme of "what if water disappeared forever?" flows through the text with utter brilliance - and without preaching. Rita has some serious writing chops.

In Thirsty, Rita has created four amazing kids, each with their own talent (like Fern's ability to "speak" to birds and Xiphoid's ability to crack any lock). Their personalities are distinct, and each character is sympathetic, interesting and smart. One of them reminds me so much of my youngest nephew I couldn't stop picturing his cute little face the entire read.

The story takes place on Earth, but also on Gork, a technologically-advanced planet and the essential control centre for the world Rita has created. Maybe it's the geek in me, but I loved all of the great inventions - like PedGones for travel, and Viewphones for communication, and interesting foods that would likely NOT pass your country's safety protocols but would rank high on your teenager's want list.

Rita is a crisp, clean writer with a strong handle on craft. There isn't room for fluff, but I admit, there are some paragraphs of description that take my breath away. I'm not a fan of overwriting - and have seen the bloodbath that can sometimes happen after the ruthless slice of an editor's red pen - but Rita gives just enough descriptive flow to remind you of her incredible talent. She's a tough chick to critique :-)

Together, we worked through a couple of kinks she'd discovered, small fixes that shouldn't take long to iron out. And then it's off to her editor, who I'm certain will drink it up with enthusiasm. I know I did - I started it in early evening and stayed up almost all night to quench my thirst.

I'm looking forward to spending time with Rita this weekend as we tackle our works in progress in the comfort of her basement. I think our muses will get along just fine.

The Book In My Bag Today: Imitation in Death, J.D. Robb

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The perfect cup

My husband makes the perfect cup of coffee.

I was reminded of this in my groggy pre-caffeinated state when as I wandered up one flight of stairs from the laundry room he handed me a jolt of java to ensure I had enough energy to make it up the second staircase without tripping over our sleeping bull mastiff.

Today it might have been Maxwell House, or even Folgers. I'm not the coffee-buyer in our house, unless we're splurging on Italian espresso grounds, so I can't pinpoint a specific brand. What I do know is this - it wouldn't matter. My hubby knows how to fix it just right.

In the past two years, he's mastered the sensitive balance of required sweetness. He understands that Southern Butter Pecan creamer eliminates the need for sugar, and that if we're out of creamer, I'd rather go...gulp...without. It's not so much the taste of coffee I enjoy but rather what it does for me.

And he knows, like he knew this morning, that after a long evening of writing, a perfect cup of coffee will right my world. For many reasons - his mad coffee skills included - I love that man.

So, Starbucks for you? Does coffee inspire your mojo?

Oh yeah. Have you entered yet? Deadline is TOMORROW.

The Book In My Bag Today: Imitation in Death, J.D. Robb

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Book 29 - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Hi bandwagon, thanks for letting me catch up.

For months I stared at the cover of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, debating whether or not to take the plunge.

It's an intimidating book. In size alone. At more than 800 pages, Stieg Larrson's novel weighs about three pounds. The chapters are long-ish, the type small-ish. I admit, I wasn't sure I could commit.

The year is dwindling away and I'd only completed 28 books in my 100 Books in 2010 challenge. Could I realistically fit this tome into my schedule?

Fate intervened.

At a giant book sale, I found a perfect copy of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for a $1. Somehow, it then landed at the TOP of my TBR pile. I read the first chapter - and more than a week later, I'm proud to say I've completed all 835 pages.

Though not without struggle.

That isn't to say the book isn't good. Larrson created cmemorable and compelling characters, not at all cardboard-cutouts. Of particular note, of course, IS the girl with the dragon tattoo, who kind of reminds me of Lara Croft without the cliche. She's a tough chick with a crappy past and some mad skills, though somewhat illegal.

Lisbeth Salander is (eventually) paired up with Mikael Blomkvist, a disgraced journalist who is hired by an eccentric Swedish businessman to try and solve the mysterious disappearance of his niece 40 years earlier. There are several other story lines as well - and happily, they're woven together in a way that makes sense.

Although I enjoyed the book, the strength of its success (in my opinion) is Lisbeth. Near the end of the book, I found myself wanting to skip through Blomkvist's point of view so I could see what happens to Lisbeth next - and sadly, I found the final scene with her a bit disappointing. That being said, I understand the second book in the series is primarily about her, an equally as intimidating novel, but one I will definitely some point.

After finishing the book last night, I thought "sleeping on it" would help me decide how I truly feel about it. I'm still undecided.

The first 100 pages or so were difficult - the book was translated from Swedish and it took some time to get used to the names (long and difficult to pronounce), the word choices, the spelling. And in the first few chapters, there are large paragraphs about a Swedish financial conspiracy that are important but make for rather dry reading.

But then there were giant portions of the book that mesmerized me. Rich character development, exciting twists of plot, and a unique writing style propelled me through the middle of the novel. To be honest, I even dreamed about Lisbeth and Mikael on more than one occasion.

And then...things teetered off again. I struggled through the last 200 pages.

I can't even say the book should be "X" number of pages shorter because I wouldn't even know where to cut. And while there doesn't seem to be any padding to the text, many scenes lack the sensory detail that would help to provide a better sense of place. Could I describe Sweden to you? No. But I could tell you the innermost secrets of Lisbeth and Mikael as though I'd known them my whole life.

Which is why I couldn't have stopped reading the book if I'd tried.

The Book In My Bag Today: Imitation in Death, J.D. Robb

Monday, May 17, 2010

Don't try this at home

On the season finale for Vampire Diaries last week, Damon (Ian Somderhalder) almost died, which, for a vampire is rather "final."

I almost died this weekend, too.

Physically, I'm doing much better than Damon, who barely escaped a fire that would have turned his (awesome) undead body to ash. But mentally? I admit it was a rough couple of days.

Let me explain.

I'm a deadline girl. Always have been. And so it should surprise no one who understands me that I'm *on* deadline for a couple of projects. Like my book. I'd been working diligently on final edits, tweaking every sentence, flushing out the text (indeed, adding an extra 15,000 words). I had planned to complete the document this past weekend and celebrate by attending the carnival with my family.

I'm also on deadline at work. Our year is up, and the audit was to take place this past weekend as well. Since I often work on my book during my lunch hour, I thought it best to erase all personal files from the work computer. I used the *find* function, surprised to see so many word docs with my writing on them. And so, I deleted them. Then deleted them again. And for added measure, I called our work tech guys and REALLY deleted them.

Which would have been responsible had the *find* function not also been scanning documents saved on my USB.

And had my USB not been the only place I'd saved the revised copy of my book - and pretty much everything I've ever written. (Including Jack of Hearts, the first book I wrote - I was 16.)

I'm not going to lie. I broke down and cried. Then beat myself up for a few hours. And then called my friend Ashley, who is a tech God. Rather than shame me (as others had been), he immediately drove to my house and retrieved the now-empty USB, offering some hope that the files contained on it could be recovered.

Sadly, some were. But not all, and certainly not the two of most import.

Kill me now.

But like Damon, I did not die. After his near-death experience, my hunky muse (in the past and most definitely this week) rose from the fire with a new perspective on life. Lessons learned and all that jazz. I'll have to wait until next season to see how long he lasts in this new role as "good guy" (and given my pension for bad boys whether I'll still swoon when I see him...), but until September, I figure he has some time to devote as my muse.

And let's be honest. I really need him. More than Elena does, that's for sure.

He began his new job on Saturday. In addition to letting me cry on his shoulder (wait, no, that was handsome husband...), he's helped me assess what needs to be done. I'm recreating a new version of the book (after much groveling and sniveling) based on the last version I saved somewhere other than on my USB. So far, it's going well-ish.

Perhaps more important than the craft and technical help, though, is that my muse whispers a lot in my ear. Not the kind of sweet nothings I'd love to hear from him, but something equally as spine-tingling: Back up your files. Every day.

Yeah, he's helpful like that.

P.S. Have you entered my first contest yet? Deadline is Friday.

The Book In My Bag Today: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larrson

Friday, May 14, 2010

Happiness is...And a contest!

There's a lot of cool stuff going on for writers in the blogosphere these days. Fabulous networking. Mind blowing contests. And awards galore.

Like the one below, passed on to me by the fabulous Slushpile Slut - whose blog name alone speaks volumes about her very fabulous-ness. Seriously, SS, you rock.

In acceptance of this beautiful award, I'm required to list 10 things that make me happy. Well, okay then. (This is not an exclusive list, because to be honest, my life is pretty freaking amazing...)

1. My handsome husband and beautiful stepdaughter. I love them with all my heart - and they both have the power to turn my frown upside down with a simple embrace. 

2. My pets - who fall into the family category because I love them with a fierceness that is hard to explain. Unless of course you have these *kids* of your own - then you know just what I'm talking about. So, much love to Kona and Jynxy,, and even my stepdaughter's pet mouse, Casper. 

3. My friends. I couldn't ask for a more supportive, amazing network of people who put up with  support me. I'm truly lucky to have *besties* (to steal a term from the awesome Tahareh) from around the world.

4. Writing. Nuff said?

5. Donna. My CP is the best, but what makes me happiest is watching her discover her amazing writing voice. Her transformation is like the butterfly pictured in this award - stunning.

6. Fast cars. Not that I have one (anymore) but I still dream of Eleanor.

7. My family - my own, and the ones I was gifted when I married handsome hubby. They may not always *get* me, but I know I'm loved. I miss you all!

8. Ice cream. It's a family addiction - thanks Grandpa. Pretty much any flavour makes me happy, but I'd have to say Rolo and Tiger have the ability to stretch my grin from ear to ear. (And wow, I am cliche queen tonight!)

9. Christina Lake, BC. Our family has had a cabin there for as long as I can remember. I spent summers there as a kid, my husband proposed to me in a rowboat in front of our cabin, and I married him on the sandy beach of my favourite place in the world. Yes, definitely happy-inspiring.

10. My blogging buddies. I've met some amazing writers and friends through this blog. My favourite time of day is first thing in the morning when I sit back with my coffee and read the witty, inspiring, and amazingly-written blogs in my list. For your daily smiles, I encourage you to check them out.

And now I pass the happiness torch to five fabulous blogging pals (only 5? Gulp. Hard to choose):

Rocky (Congrats on your new blog, Rockstar)
Adventures in Candyland
Suzanne Casamento
B. Miller

But wait! There's more.

B.Miller has chosen *me* as one of the blogs to highlight in her "Pay It Forward" post - which accounts for the spike in my followers today ;-) Thanks B - and I want to pay it forward. So, to steal (no, literally, I'm stealing quite a few) of B's words, I offer my first contest.

If you're a writer with published work available for purchase, I will buy your novel/story collection/etc up to a value of $25. I'll read it and plug it on my Twitter and Facebook pages, as well. (And not that my review means much, but if you want that, I'll do that as well.)

Not a writer? Ok, I'll send you a $25 GC for the bookstore of your choice.

Here's the rules (which are pretty standard in the blogosphere right now):

1. Comment on this post (+1)
2. New follower (+1)
3. Old follower (+2)
4. Tweet or post on Facebook about this contest (+2)
5. Follow me on Twitter (@dawnmius) (+2)

But this is called "Pay it Forward" - so here's the addendum. I want to support my fellow bloggers/writers anyway I can. So, for every one of the following blogs you follow, add an additional 7 points to your tally.

Creepy Query Girl
I know, write?
Rambles and Randomness
Hilary Wagner

Note: Be sure to add up your points and note it in the comments section.

But wait, there's MORE!

I mentioned there are some killer contests going on out there. If you write, these prizes will ROCK YOUR WORLD. Check them out. Fast!

Jaydee Morgan
Creepy Query Girl
B. Miller
Misadventures in Candyland
The Alliterative Allamorph

Whew. If you stuck this post out until the end, I REALLY hope you score on one of the amazing prizes offered by the fabulous bloggers above.

The Book In My Bag Today: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Men don't read? Bah! Rubbish.

Spurred by an initial post by thriller writer Jason Pinter (who I love), an interesting discussion about men's reading habits is underway at the Dystel and Goderich Literary Management blog.

In his Huffington Post article, Pinter suggests that the number of men who actually read is rapidly declining - primarily, he feels, because the publishing industry is alienating half the market. DGLM staffer Stacey begs to differ. (Stacey offers some compelling points...)

I'm inclined to agree. My dad, stepdad and father-in-law are avid readers - and the fact that they are all fans of the same-ish authors makes Father's Day, Christmas and Birthdays fun. (Yes, Steve Berry, I have bought three copies of The Paris Vendetta this hard cover...) Many of my male friends are readers, too.

And... is that this week's muse avatar? In a book store? Grasping a book with the same enthusiasm he's putting into providing my daily inspiration? By golly, it is. Well done, Brad. Bravo!

Unconvinced? Just this morning, an Edmonton radio station advertised this highly under-publicized blog. Ahem...Need I say more?

The Book In My Bag Today: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Book 28 - Savor the Moment

Not too long ago, I read an article indicating that the best writers understand relationships - both good and bad. How characters interact with one another, the emotional tug and pull that allows us to relate, to live the story rather than *read* it.

I'd heard that before, but it was once again re-enforced after finishing Savor the Moment, the third book in Nora Roberts' bride quartet series.  If anyone understands the importance of relationships, it's Nora.

I'm proud of the vast and eclectic selection of books I've read during this 100 books in 2010 challenge. There's been a few misses - and plenty of hits.

For me, Nora is almost always a hit. I can get lost in supernaturals, find beauty in literary brilliance, race through a heart-pounding thriller, and even trudge through a western. But Nora? I savour every word.

At least when it comes to her straight-up romances. Which is what Savor the Moment is.

Few authors have the ability to make me tear up in the first chapter. Nora does - and did. She introduces Laurel effectively, creating immediate sympathy, and a quick hook. Truthfully, I couldn't have stopped reading if I'd wanted to.

Laurel is the cake decorator for Vows, a wedding planning company comprised of four long-standing friends. The relationship between partners is wonderful - the concept inspiring. Having dabbled in photography and interior design, planned my own wedding, dreamed of a large flower garden and now begun *creating* desserts, Nora makes it easy for me to relate to all levels of the company. And yeah, I'm green with envy.

I loved Mac in the first book, enjoyed Emma in the second, and adored Laurel in the third. Like the rest of her partners, she's a smart, sassy, and fun career girl. I love how they interact, the depth of their relationships is amazing. Nora does an excellent job of establishing Laurel's competency in the kitchen. I could absolutely visualize the designs, taste the flavours, smell the aromas. I wanted to be in Laurel's workspace and suck up her teachings.

I think, on some level,  I even picked up some hints for my new hobby. Er...baking. (No, I am not becoming domestic. I just enjoy learning new things...)

I always expect to fall for Nora's heroes, the way I absolutely fell for Roarke in the "In Death" series. But I'm actually hard pressed to remember any of the men from her romances, and it's likely I'll forget Del as soon as I start a new book.

That isn't to say I didn't feel the chemistry. As I've said, Nora is amazing at relationship building. I have little doubt Del and Laurel will get married, just as Emma and Carter or Jack and Mac will (yikes, I hope I've paired them properly...) live happily ever after. I totally bought into their romance, and for 325 pages, I liked Del. A lot.

But I admit, I am most looking forward to Parker and Malcolm's story. Mal is a mechanic. And rides a motorcycle. He seems a little rougher around the edges. Much more my type.

Damn bad boys.

The Book In My Bag Today: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson

Monday, May 10, 2010

Repeat performance

Ah, Brad. You've become such a nurturing soul.

Still sexy, obviously. But your very *hotness* isn't what makes the tabloids these days, but rather your commitment to Angelina and your nine (?) children.

I can understand.

In the past, you've shepherded my babies along as well. I love how you guided Cait to a deeper sense of her role. And Jagger is grateful you've taught her how to properly fire her weapon. Alas, Aeryn is still hanging out on construction sites, but seems to be staying out of trouble. You'd be impressed with Avery's new stilettos.

You see, something magical happened in that week you took on the role of muse avatar. I wrote a record number of words - one day topping the 35-page mark. You even managed to coax me into Genius Mode, where I stayed for the entire five days.

I'll be honest Brad, I need a repeat performance.

I'm on deadline again - you know how I procrastinate - and to make things more complex, I've added a couple more children to my brood. I'd love for you to meet them. After, of course, you help Cait become...unstuck.

I think she's in limbo.

She's had to change - again - and she's resisting. You remember how stubborn she can be, right? But you were able to crack her once.

So I'm asking for this favour in hopes you can do it again. Just one more week of your time. Consider it another chance to demonstrate your excellent parenting skills.


Oh - and I know this goes outside the boundaries of muse avatar, but my throat is still killing me, my head is pounding, and my tummy feels unsettled. I could use a bit of nurturing myself... I'm sure Angie won't mind. She seems like the understanding type.

The Book In My Bag Today: Savor the Moment, Nora Roberts

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Book 27 - Industrial Magic

The trouble with a groaning TBR pile is that my mind has a tendency to wander to the next book before I'm finished the one I'm currently reading.

Although Kelley Armstrong is fast becoming one of my favourite authors, the new Nora Roberts kept shouting at me, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is like a constant whisper in my ear.

Sadly, that meant I probably didn't give Industrial Magic the attention it deserved.

As always, Armstrong hooked me with the opening chapter. There's something so...familiar... about her writing. Like I'm reconnecting with an old friend.

Somehow, she makes me believe in magic.

I've lamented in the past, Nora's witch series - and the classic movie Practical Magic - kind of ruined me for all other witchcraft-inspired series. As far as supernaturals go, I'm more impressed by demons, vampires, and (recently) werewolves.

But I like Paige. She's a down to Earth witch with real-life problems - and I can totally relate to her role as new "guardian" for young Savannah. I still couldn't quite connect with Lucas - Paige's sorceror love-interest - but after reading Bitten, I'm still pining for Clay. (Fortunately, Clay made a brief, but effective, appearance in Industrial Magic.)

Actually, many characters are introduced in this book, and for the most part, I'm excited to learn more about them. Especially Jaime Vegas, the necromancer. My BF might have heart failure at this confession but... this was my first encounter with a necromancer. I'm hopeful Jaime is the subject of Haunted, the next book in this series.

But I also hope she's given a fabulous plot. While I almost drool with envy over Armstrong's brilliant style, I found myself wandering through Industrial Magic - sometimes even, gasp, skimming. It's a big book (500 pages) - and some slower parts in the middle made it seem longer.

That being said, I'll probably read it again at some point - and although Savor the Moment, the third book in Nora Roberts' bride quartet, will likely beat out Armstrong's Haunted, I suspect I won't be able to hold out for long. I'm hooked on Armstrong.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Tagged...and an award!

Normally I shy away from these kinds of blog games - not because I'm a snob, but because my memory sucks and I don't want to offend anyone by not playing along.

But I heart Creepy Query Girl and since she tagged me, I'll play. Just this once :-)

So...five questions. Five answers. 

Question 1: Where were you five years ago?
1. Hiding my new puppy from the landlord at my crappy apartment complex - no dogs allowed.
2. In Edmonton.
3. Talking turkey with Alberta consumers - my first "official" communications job.
4. Still searching for my soul mate.
5. Hanging out three times a week in a dingy basement gym learning to box. (Thanks, Barry!)

Question 2 - Where would you like to be five years from now?

1. Touring Italy - for longer than two weeks, and without the "work" mandate.
2. Living on an acreage in BC with my family and writing from my renovated barn-style office.
3. Watching Jagger on the big screen, preferably with a bucket of popcorn and an ice cold Coke Zero.
4. Signing books in a New York bookstore.
5. Completing the Taj Mahal marathon - yes, in India.

Question 3 - What is (was) on your 'to do' list today?

1. Complete accounting work for the day job.
2. Write "tagged" blog post. (check)
3. Watch Vampire Diaries with my stepdaughter and Supernatural with handsome hubby.
4. Book hotel for my sister's wedding in June. (check)
5. Write 10 pages or revise 20.

Question 4 - What snacks do you enjoy?1. Popcorn. With butter and salt.
2. Big Turk chocolate bars.
3. Pistachio nuts.
4. Cookies! (Especially 'cowboy cookies' made by handsome hubby)
5. Cheese chips, or salt and vinegar, and sometimes sour cream and onion. Never All Dressed or ketchup. Or anything spicy.

Question 5 - What five things would you do if you were a billionaire?

1. Stock my handsome husband's sports memorabilia cache (and maybe buy him a sports team).
2. Buy a 1967 Shelby GT 500 and name it Eleanor. (Bonus: Invite Nic Cage to show me how to drive it.)
3. Give substantial annual donations to a literacy charity. I'll start with my current workplace .
4. Adopt several children.
5. Learn a new hobby. Or two.

And so now I'm tagging 5...

1. The awesome MissV.
2. The amazing Random Thinker .
3. Miss sassy and sweet Laurie.
4. The super cool Tahereh.
5. The inspirational Meaghan.

You're it!

And while I'm at it, a super thanks (again) to Creepy Query Girl again for honouring me with my first blogging award:

I'm passing it on to these 5 fabulous bloggers:

Confessions of a Zombie Mom (aka: BF Karen)
Jan Markley
Kyle W. Kerr
B Miller
Tiffany Young


The Book In My Bag Today: Industrial Magic, Kelley Armstrong

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Zen by design

Every couple of years I have an itch to go back to school. It's been - ahem - some time since I graduated with a Journalism degree, but my quest for knowledge hasn't dampened in the slightest.

Maybe that's why I love the research part of any new novel, or why I scour the pages of magazines like Mental Floss or BBC Knowledge. Amazing the things you can learn.

A few years ago, I turned a love of learning into a part-time hobby. Interior design.

It's a perfect complement to my literary creativity. Not only do I have a better grasp on scene setting, but studying (and practicing) interior design has helped tremendously with my other creative pursuits. I can't draw worth crap (that's my handsome hubby's forte), but I love crafts, and photography, and graphic arts. Give me a glue gun and I'll make you a gorgeous Father Christmas. Put me in Hawaii and I'll capture the island's most spectacular sunsets.

And if you put me in front of a white wall, my mind starts buzzing with ideas. When my stepdaughter decided to spend a year with us, I dragged my hubby along for a redecoration project that began with good intentions but suffered some chaos along the way. Don't try and paint very old stippo ceiling, my friends. Just saying.

After some cursing, and a lot of beer, she ended up with a room complete with giant Tinkerbell images painted onto the wall (projected and then traced, because like I said, I can't draw...). I even found a "goth Tink" to cater to her "darker" side.

This was not my first bedroom renovation, and I can guarantee it won't be my last. Already she's hinted that Tink is a little juvenile for 13 (but Goth Tink can stay) and has suggested glow in the dark might be the way to go. Perfect. I'm up for the challenge.

And frankly, I miss it. I've scored a couple of interior design side jobs in the past few months and it's been great reconnecting with my dusty class notes. I'm too busy to look at it as a full time job - so I've been using those skills with something a little closer to home.

Fish tanks.

We have...a couple of them. Handsome hubby is a bit obsessed with fish, and now that I have...a few...I'm learning to love them almost as much. I cried (don't mock me!) when my larger Oscar (Groucho) welcomed Oskarella into his humble home - and scolded him when he pushed out Mr. Jack Dempsey. My heart blooms when my Angels take food from my hand. And I've fallen asleep more than once watching my shark tank buzz with activity.

But most of all, I've loved building their homes. Creating colour schemes that fit with the room the tank will be housed. Learning about each fish and determining the plant life that will work best, or how many hiding spots I'll need to make sure each has its own safe place. I've learned that the Raphael Striped Catfish doesn't like to come out during the day, but loves his driftwood log for cover. Monty and Vervain (my gorgeous and playful bala sharks) are fast swimmers and prefer not to treat the plant life like obstacle courses, but Pocahontas (a tiny green barb) loves to play in the bubbles of her bubble-blowing dragon, and hides from Cleo, Jet and Jagger (rainbow sharks) in the tall branches of a fake tree.

I don't own a home, but I do enjoy my creature comforts - the large yard for our gorgeous dogs, the garage, an office space to call my own, and a kitchen where I can stumble through learning to cook. I think my fish appreciate comforts as well - and I'm happy to use some of my interior design training to make them as happy as watching them makes me.

PS - No, the tank pictured is not in my home, but if I had unlimited funds, it would be. I suppose that tells you a lot about *my* interior design preferences, huh?

The Book In My Bag Today: Industrial Magic, Kelley Armstrong

Monday, May 3, 2010

Muse came across time for me, too

While blog hopping last week, I saw a post by Rosemary Clement-Moore on the Genreality blog about famous "All is lost moments" - you know, the moment you think: There is NO way the character can get out of this.

Reading through the suggestions, I was reminded of cliffhanger books and movies that made me think: Wow. All IS lost.

Terminator ranks near the top. I've always loved that movie, but my admiration for it strengthened when at 2008 Thrillerfest Dr. D.P. Lyle deconstructed the movie, scene by scene, calling it a prime example of a perfect thriller.

I won't get into the details here - though, the plus / minus / neutral scene ranking (based on how much kaka Sarah Conner is in) is fascinating. Dr. Lyle would argue many current thrillers would show a similar +/- chapter structure. Something to think about while tweaking my manuscript.

There's certainly other reasons to remember Terminator though. The dialogue rocks, the "oh crap!" moments are legendary, and the characters are amazing. Expecially Kyle Reese.

To echo Rosemary's sentiments: Kyle Reese ruined me for all other men.

Consider this quote from the movie:

"John Connor gave me a picture of you once. I didn't know why at the time. It was very old - torn, faded. You were young like you are now. You seemed just a little sad. I used to always wonder what you were thinking at that moment. I memorized every line, every curve. I came across time for you Sarah. I love you; I always have"


In my (highly active) imagination, Kyle is over Sarah now and has come across time this week to be my muse avatar.

That's right. Be jealous.

The Book In My Bag Today: Industrial Magic, Kelley Armstrong