Thursday, December 20, 2007

Thursday Thirteen: Memorable Books I've Read This Year (Good...and Bad)

13 Memorable Books I've Read This Year

(Good...and Bad)

Okay, so I'm probably about to alienate a few people. But...hey! We don't all have the same taste. And what works for me might not work for another reader. And by the same token, what works for another reader might not necessarily work for me. So, here they are. Thirteen books I've read this year that made an impression, some because they wowed me; some because they left dents in my wall where I threw 'em.

1. The Smoke Thief by Shana Abe: A major winner! So much so that I intend her sequel, The Dream Thief, to be my first TBR in the New Year. If you haven't read it, do so. Rich in history and sensuality, this book breathed new life into my interest in both historicals and paranormals.

2. You've Been Warned by James Patterson: Okay, so now you've been warned! This is a morality play gone bizarre and I have to wonder if Mr. Patterson even read it before signing his name to it as co-author. The heroine is unsympathetic, the plot line is muddled and unrealistic, and I'm amazed I kept going 'til I reached the end, hoping for some kind of reasonable conclusion. Skip it.

3. Natural Born Charmer by Susan Elizabeth Phillips: SEP's back in a big way with this chuckle-fest! I loved Dean Robillard in Match Me if You Can, and he's now found his own match in the ornery, feisty, and all too human Blue. A perfect follow up to the Chicago Stars stories.

4. Weekend Warriors by Fern Michaels: Where do I begin with the faults I found in this book? Take a great plot (a group of women screwed by the justice system banding together to get their revenge), add stupid characters and poor research. Mix well. What makes this train wreck worse is that it's part of a series. And optimistic sucker that I am, I will probably check out the second in the series, just to see if it gets better. Wish me luck.

5. Dearly Devoted Dexter by Jeff Lindsay: Need I remind you of my love for this quirky serial killer with a razor wit and a few sharp cutting instruments? The second book in the series left me gasping almost as often as the season finale on Showtime did. And strangely, the two stories are entirely different!

6. The Guy Not Taken by Jennifer Weiner: I really wanted to like this group of short stories about women dealing with life and love after tragedy. But, I found these tales unfinished and disjointed, with heroines who were like bad imitations of Cinderella. Pass.

7. A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore: I waited a year to read this book. Mainly because I made the mistake of letting my daughter read it first. After she devoured it on a trip to Hilton Head last year, she lost it somewhere in the Black Hole she calls a bedroom. Definitely worth the wait. A dark romp in the land of Death somewhere in San Francisco.

8. True Evil by Greg Iles: My first book by this author, but definitely not my last. The ending went on a little too long, but the plot (murder by natural causes) was intriguing and kept me hooked all the way through.

9. High Noon by Nora Roberts: I always said I loved J.D. Robb books more than Nora Roberts books because Nora doesn't write kick-ass heroines like J.D.'s Eve Dallas. Well, Phoebe MacNamara comes close enough. Loved it, loved it, loved it.

10. Just Like Heaven by Barbara Bretton: I might have liked this book...if I'd been warned in advance that the hero was a recovering alcoholic reverend. Unfortunately, the back blurb only mentioned a guy in a Grateful Dead t-shirt. (Imagine my surprise!) Since I wasn't prepared for gospel with my romance, it just left a bad taste in my mouth. Sorry.

11. Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie: My fourth and final attempt to read a Crusie book. I don't know. Maybe it's me. I mean, it must be me. I love her as a public speaker, but just cannot get into her writing. Problem is, I don't like her characters. They do things I wouldn't do, say things I wouldn't say (and no one I know would do or say) so I find it hard to connect with them. And if I don't like the characters, I can't like the book.

12. Born in Death by J.D. Robb: At last! Mavis and Leonardo have their baby. Complete with everyone's favorite cop and her uber-studly hero in the delivery room for the blessed event. Sigh!

13. Shoe Addicts Anonymous by Beth Harbison: Another story I really wanted to like. But, for me, the characters weren't sympathetic (one who's in major debt but still buys expensive designer shoes, another who attempts to shoplift expensive designer shoes when her husband denies her credit card...) and a too-pat ending left me empty.

There you have it. Please don't throw tomatoes if you disagree. The reason there are so many books in a store is so that we can all find our favorites! What stuck with you this year?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Roar for Powerful Words

With thanks to Chumplet for awarding me the above honor from The Shameless Lions Writing Circle. It means that someone reads the drivel I post here. So, in accordance with the rules, I have to list three things necessary to make writing good and powerful, followed by awarding five writers whom I admire for their powerful words. Ho-kay. Here we go...

1. A NEED TO SAY SOMETHING: Self-explanatory, yes? If you've got nothing to say, you've got no reason to write. 'Nuff said.

2. COURAGE: Despite the wisdom of those who've come before me, I don't see writing as little drops of blood on your forehead or draining your vein onto a page. For me, writing is my brain stealing pieces of my heart, placing them in a public venue, and waiting for the reviews. It's hard, scary, and oftentimes devastating. But it's also exhilirating, cathartic, and as necessary to me as oxygen. Starting my first story set me on an adventure that I now can never quit. If I didn't write for a publisher, I'd still write for me and my friends.

3. A LOVE OF THE WRITTEN WORD: You can't do justice to anything you don't love wholeheartedly. Before I wrote, I loved words and played word games or puzzles all the time. And I was always pretty darn good at 'em. (The family is constantly trying to stump me at Hangman. So far, they've had no luck. Even when dh cheats by using coworkers' very ethnic names!) With writing though, I've taken my love to a new level, a place of neverending plots, storylines, and characters. It's my world. That old saying, "I live in my own world, but it's okay. They know me here." Yup. Too true.

And now, the harder part. Between Chumplet and the RWU crew, lots of people have already been tagged. But how about Tempest, Heather, Dawn, Adelle, and Babe. Congratulations, ladies of the plume! I dub thee all WRITERS OF POWERFUL WORDS!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Thursday 13: Thirteen Writing Quotes

13 Writing Quotes
Between the holidays and my last round of edits on "A Little Slice of Heaven," (yay!) I don't have time for a full-out Thursday 13 words of wisdom written by me. So enjoy these bits of sagacity from other writers:
1. "I think I did pretty well, considering I started out with nothing but a bunch of blank paper."--Steve Martin
2. "A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit."--Richard Bach
3. "Pen, paper, perseverance, and proficiency."--Duane Alan Hahn
4. "You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club."--Jack London
5. "What I like in a good author isn't what he says, but what he whispers."--Logan Pearsall Smith
6. "When I sit down at my writing desk, time seems to vanish. I think it's a wonderful way to spend one's life."--Erica Jong
7. "If you can't annoy somebody, there is little point in writing."--Kingsley Amis
8. "Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing."--Benjamin Franklin
9. "To write what is worth publishing, to find honest people to publish it, and get sensible people to read it, are the three great difficulties in being an author."--Charles Caleb Colton
10. "The first draft of anything is sh*t."--Ernest Hemingway
11. "I love being a writer. What I can't stand is the paperwork."--Peter De Vries
12. "Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind."--Rudyard Kipling
13. "I was once being interviewed by Barbara Walters in three segments, all at once, though they were to be run on three separate days. In between two of the segments, she asked me how many books I had written, and I told her. She said, "Don't you ever want to do anything but write?""No," I said."Don't you want to go hunting? Fishing? Dancing? Hiking?"And I said, "No! No! No! and No!"She said, "But what would you do if the doctor gave you only six months to live?"I said, "Type faster."--Isaac Asimov

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Product Placement?

We all know that advertisers pay movie producers to get their products on the big screen. But what about in the pages of a book?

Recently, I finished a story (don't ask...I won't tell) wherein a character shops for a new car. Now, most authors do try to choose a car that reflects the character's personality. Lots of heroines buy Miatas for some reason while heroes gravitate toward the big SUV, truck, or high-end, high-speed engine revvers. That in itself doesn't bother me. But in this particular case, the car's make, model, and special features were mentioned time and time again. For no real reason. Paragraphs like (and I'm paraphrasing protect the innocent): "He drove the xxx, with its xxx of trunk space and roomy leather seats to the meeting place. The whole family loved riding in the xxx. It was roomier than a sedan and smoother than an SUV..." Now, one scene like this I can handle, especially while the character is shopping. But a dozen? Throughout the course of the book? The book began to read more like a brochure for this particular car company than a story.

Has this particular author sold out? Or am I behind the latest craze--marketing your story with a product? Has anyone else noticed this phenomenon?