Monday, July 31, 2006

The Roller Coaster of Life

Life changes on the toss of a coin. Those in the fate biz reminded of that particular point this week while I was in Atlanta. Twelve hours after hearing over-the-moon-good news at National, I called home to share my joy and learned devastating news about a close family member.

The bad news has thrown me off-kilter and I will not be able to appear at my first library talk this week. However, some very good friends and chapter-mates of mine will be there. So if you'd love to learn How to Get Your Work Published and you're in the Long Island area, come to the Great Neck Library on Wednesday, August 2nd at 2:00 pm. You won't be disappointed.

Monday, July 24, 2006

I'm Stormin' Atlanta!

"The time has come, the walrus said..."

Well, no walrus, but RWA's National Conference is this week! I'm flying to Atlanta Wednesday morning for five fun-filled days of workshops, meetings, greetings, booksignings, and general merriment. This year I'm stunned by my overly filled dance card. The President's Retreat is all day Wednesday with a training seminar on Wednesday night after the Literacy Booksigning. I've volunteered to serve at the Book Fair on Thursday and moderate a friend's workshop Friday night. In between those two events I'll do some sightseeing, spend time with friends, attend workshops of interest, meet with an agent, and even attend the Avalon Authors' private party! Then, Saturday is a dinner party hosted by a very dear writer friend from the area. (Hi, Chris! See you soon!)

Yes, it promises to be an event-packed trip. I plan to bring the old laptop so I'm hoping to check in with details (and maybe photos) during a rare moment of downtime.

In the meantime, if you're in the Long Island area, circle the date: August 2. That's the date of my very first library talk. Details later, so stay tuned...

And don't forget the contest over at Romance Junkies. My excerpt hasn't shown up yet, so it's not too late to check in and figure out which mystery submission is mine!

If you'll be in Atlanta, look for me. I'll be EVERYWHERE! If not, I'll see ya when I get home again!

'Til then, friends. Happy Reading!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Looking For Fresh Reading Material?

At long last, Romance Junkies posted the first excerpts for their writing contest. Normally, I'm not a contest person: I've routinely found my contest scores to range from truly pitiful to raves. My most memorable contest scored me a 47 (?) and a 150 out of a possible 150. Not so coincidentally, that was my very last contest. I'm told this kind of span in scores means I have a strong voice; it connects with some readers, yet turns others off. However, it also means I'll never win, so I don't spend money entering the many chapter contests available.

But that's me. My fellow LIRWer, Dawn Thompson, won several contests, including the one that launched her publishing career. So lightning can strike. Just not in my household.

With that in mind, I decided to enter the Romance Junkies contest for the fun of it. It cost nothing and the prize is a new AlphaSmart (mine has seen way too many days at the beach and the keys are starting to stick.) Plus, readers get to judge the entries. I can't tell you when my entry will pop up or give you any information about my entry that will disqualify me. Still, I've read this week's entries and saw one or two that I really liked. Why not pop over once a week, read a few, and vote for your favorite? And while you're at it, see if you can figure out which one is mine.

Once the contest is over, I'll 'fess up, win or lose. And we'll see if my voice connected with you or turned you off.

Wednesday, July 5, 2006

My Own Top Thirty

Miss Snark linked to a list provided by British librarians on the Top Thirty Books to Read Before You Die. I won't post the list here; you'll have to click over to Miss Snark's site to find it. Suffice it to say, I disagree with many of those on the list and thought I'd list my own. Sit back, this could be a while.

I'll be listing these in the order they pop into my head, not necessarily by my ultra-ultra favorite first, my mere ultra-favorite second, etc. My criteria for these choices is simple. These are books that I consider memorable: stories that have stuck with me over the years. I may not have read the story since high school, but for whatever reason, give me the title and a key scene will pop into my head. I also limited myself to one book per author. So that, while I love a lot of Dickens's works, I only listed my favorite: A Tale of Two Cities.

I guess that's as good a place as any to start so:

1. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
3. The Bastard by John Jakes
4. A Long Fatal Love Chase by Louisa May Alcott
5. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy
6. Wuthering Heights by Charlotte Bronte
7. The Good Earth by Pearl Buck
8. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
9. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
10. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
11. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
12. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
13. Skye O'Malley by Bertrice Small
14. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
15. The Bone Collector by Jeffery Deaver
16. The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris
17. The First Wives Club by Olivia Goldsmith
18. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
19. The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
20. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
21. The "In Death" series by J.D. Robb (can't pick just one!)
22. The Vendetta Defense by Lisa Scottoline
23. The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen Woodiwiss
24. Sick Puppy by Carl Hiassen
25. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
26. Remembrance by Jude Deveraux
27. Harvest by Tess Gerritsen
28. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
29. Kane and Abel by Jeffrey Archer
30. Along Came a Spider by James Patterson

So there you have it. Remember, this was what I came up with in a two hour time span, based on books I loved to read and re-read.

Which ones have you read? Which books would you add to your own list?

Saturday, July 1, 2006

A "Friendly" Story

I took the kids to our local Friendly's yesterday and saw something I'd never seen before. There was a woman at the "Claw" machine. You know, those games with all the stuffed toys in the bottom of the cage and you have to position a steel claw to drop down and grab one? Well, this lady, easily in her early 70's had a fistful of dollar bills and just kept playing the game. We were there for over an hour and watched her the entire time. At one point she ran out of singles, so she went to the register, broke a fifty dollar bill and kept playing the machine. By the time she finished, she had a large shopping bag (one of those Friendly's bags customers use to carry the sheet cakes out) filled with stuffed animals.

We finally asked our waitress who told us she comes in EVERY DAY, spends a hundred dollars at a clip at the machine, then donates all the toys she wins to the local hospital pediatric ward.

The writer in me isn't satisfied with this information. I need more. Why does she do this? My latest theory is that she's independently wealthy, but lonely. Her family ignores her, so she's spending their inheritance in the most wasteful way she can without heading to Atlantic City in the hopes there will be nothing left when she dies. Mind you, that's a theory. (And I did use it to threaten my kids into promising to take care of me in my old age, so it worked temporarily.) But I need to know the real story here. Why does she do it? Where does she get the money? Wouldn't it be easier to go to Toys R Us (two blocks away) and just buy a bunch of stuffed animals for the hospital?

I have a feeling I'll be taking a ride to Friendly's one afternoon in the near future. Just me and an old lady at the Claw machine, drinking coffee and talking.