Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Trick or Treat?

I don't know about you, but I love tricks and treats equally as well! (Though I'm happy my candy corn t-shirt says "I AM THE TREAT", not trick. Then I'd have a lot of explaining to do!) And since I've been bouncing back and forth about what to post on this most auspicious occasion, I decided to mix in a little of both.

As a treat, I'm dishing up a book I'm totally absorbed in called PHOENIX UNRISEN by Kathleen Nance.

It's perfect for a Halloween read (and far better than my suspenseful story) with unexplained hocus pocus, mystical mages, not to mention a hint of Jason, Freddy and Michael Myers in New Orleans. Then there's Ramses, the hunky pet vet that connects this to the Djinn series, and Natalie Severin, the hot-headed reporter heroine. (Is it me, or does her surname bring to mind slasher/methodical person with a scalpel)?


I may be partial, but RT gave it ½! Here's their take: Highly versatile author Nance adds another genre to her belt by spicing up her latest thriller with a touch of magic. An excellent storyteller, she never skimps on the characterization or adventure, so you can expect a first-rate novel every time.

And now the trick. If you read my previous post, you know I'd planned to be Ugly Betty. Care to see the efforts of my hard work? If so, take a gander at
http://maseysplace.com/Betty. I didn't paste the shocker here because I didn't want to scare anyone (kids or otherwise) with my braces! (Would you guess they're beads and paperclips?) Unfortunately my impersonation didn't wow my co-workers (even enough for 3rd place), but hopefully I'll have better luck next year. (The "cereal killer" is going down for swiping my 200 Franklins!)

*Sigh* I hope you all have better luck finding/confiscating/buying your own candy!
_________________________
Last Halloween I gave blog readers a special treat--an excerpt from JUST ONE LIFE. How could I not reprise Trick or Treat, Give Me Something Good to Read? So this year, enjoy a snippet from the follow up CRASH INTO YOU.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Guest - Meagan Hatfield

Please join us in welcoming guest blogger, Meagan Hatfield. I know you'll enjoy her post.

__________________________________________________________________________________

Hi everyone! My name is Meagan Hatfield and I write fantasy, historical, paranormal, contemporary and erotic romances for a couple of different houses. If you’re interested in learning more about my books, or me you can find me at my website - Meagan Hatfield, Myspace, my Blog or my Yahoo! Group - A Little Bit of Magic. First, I want to give big thank you hugs to the wonderfully talented Star-Crossed Romance gals for having me today. You ladies rock and I’m very excited to be here!

Okay now, what to blog about? Hmm. I was thinking of shamelessly promoting the upcoming release of my debut full-length fantasy romance, A MAGICAL ENCOUNTER about an Elfin warrior who’s neither known or craved a woman’s touch in over a century, yet finds he cannot keep his thoughts or his hands of a promised human he’s sworn to protect. Then, I thought I could show off some eye candy with the cover of my hot-historical coming soon from the Dark Castle Lords, THE MARQUIS & THE MISTRESS, featuring previous Mr. Romance, Andrei Claude. Or maybe even making you hungry in more ways than one with scrumptious snippets of my Torrid Teasers #43 – THE WHOLE ENCHILADA & LUST DESSERTS.

But instead I decided that since it’s just around the corner, I would chat about my favorite obsession…er, holiday – Halloween! Now, if you lived in my town, you would already know it’s my favorite holiday. We live on a main street, right on the corner and not a day goes by where someone doesn’t comment on my “spooky” house. What can I say? I go nuts! I have three fog machines, 7 foot scary guys looming around the porch, skeletons, strobe lights, a graveyard scene complete with skulls, gravestones and an inflatable hearse, creepy cloth hanging from bloodied windows – you name it. Naturally, everyone thinks I go just as crazy with the Christmas décor, but I don’t. I have a tree and that’s about it. So, I thought I’d take this opportunity to blog about the top ten reasons why I think Halloween is better than Christmas. *getting ready to dodge the flying tomatoes* LOL!

10.) There is no snow to shovel. At least in my neck of the woods there isn’t.
9.) Your kids don’t wake you up at the butt crack of dawn to open presents you’re still paying credit card payments on come summer vacation.
8.) Role-playing with your honey in Pirate/Wench or Aragorn/Arwen costumes is sexier than donning Santa/Mrs. Clause frumpy duds.
7.) Fog Machines are way cooler than spray snow.
6.) It’s the one-day a year where you can’t get in trouble for scaring the pants off the neighborhood kids.
5.) Although you still have to dress up for the parties, the Halloween outfits are not
only more fun, they are more comfortable because you haven’t gone through the
holiday gorge fest otherwise known as Thanksgiving.
4.) The TV is jam packed with scary movies like The Shining, Sleepy Hollow and
the Sixth Sense instead of endless, mind-numbing re-runs of It’s a Wonderful
Life. (Which I love, but come on - do they have to show it everyday?)
3.) Did I mention my hubby in pirate clothes? *winks*
2.) Duh! Free chocolate!
1.) {{drumroll}} And the number one reason Halloween is better than
Christmas…Better contests! Okay, that was a cheesy segue, but starting today and going until the 31st – author romance author, Sam Cheever is sponsoring a Trick or Treating Bash on a street near you! The street is inexplicably filled with your favorite Fantasy and Paranormal Authors and we will be waiting by the door with tricks and treats. All you need to do to play is visit Sam’s Halloween Page: http://www.samcheever.com/Halloween%20Contest.htm anytime between today and October 31st and select an item from the goodie bag posted there. Then send a note off to Sam with your selection and move on to the next “house” on the list, where another Author will be waiting with a goodie bag for you to choose from. The Contestant who selects the most correct items from the goodie bags will win a Halloween Bag that’s just bulging with wonderful donations from the Authors who live on Sam’s street. (Only one trip down the street per contestant!)
So, come and join the fun and play for a chance to win a bag of goodies. You might be surprised to learn who lives on Sam’s street! I know I was shocked to see Jade Lee, Lori Foster, Rowena Cherry and many other talented ladies living on my street. 

So, what is your favorite of the two holidays? Halloween or Christmas?
_______________________________________________________________________________

I hope everyone has enjoyed Meagan's post. Make sure you comment and let us know. -- Lynda

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Autumn

Okay, I know at least one member of our little merry band here is experiencing the exact opposite, but bear with me. I happen to love autumn, so I thought I'd go ahead and blog about it. Especially since I had a blog post that got eaten when my poor computer suffered CHuDD - Catastrophic Hard Drive Death. I spent much of my weekend frantically backing up files, and in some cases, only thinking I'd backed 'em up. Yes I suck sometimes, and I have only myself to blame. But the other parts of the weekend, I spent outside (doing hard labor building an Irish wall over the culvert under my driveway, but it was still fun), and I couldn't help but let my mind wander between plot points into the dreamy realm of how much I love fall.

The veil between the worlds is thin at this time, and you don't have to be a Wiccan to sense it. There's something about the harvest, the shortening of days, the thinning of the sunlight, that gives character to the shadows. The textures of the leaves as they fall from the trees, and the way the earth seems to burst into flame with vivid reds, oranges, yellows, and golds in leaves and late-season squashes just amazes me. The way the tiny plants I put out in the spring have matured into broad-leaved, vegetable-bearing full-grown harvest plants astounds me--how could something so little grow so fast?

I ask the same thing when I look at the little weeds I planted. And by weeds, I mean kids. How in the world do those pants that flopped around their ankles, dragging through the mud in the spring now look like shorts? Or as Mr. Xandra calls them, "man-pris" (man+capri=man-pri. Yeah, I know). When did the turtlenecks become belly-shirts? And for the record, I am not dressing either of my kids like Britney Spears, they just seem to do their growing before the season-end sales at Old Navy.

Fall reminds me that time passes. And passing time means I'd better get back to busting pumpkins on that WIP of mine...

Monday, October 22, 2007

Taking Names

While watching UGLY BETTY last Thursday, I was struck by Betty's rapport with her dad. She was talking about her writing professor being a “Simon Cowell” type with a Pulitzer, but that wasn’t the important part. She said, “I can’t just be Jordan Sparks good. I have to be Kelly Clarkson, Ms. Independent good.”

Immediately my mind segwayed to American Title, the writing contest (now in its fourth year) designed to mimic American Idol. Hosted by Romantic Times Magazine and Dorchester Publishing, it encompasses a contest on a grand international arena with the ultimate prize of a publishing contract. I have attempted to be good enough three out of the four years (since I didn’t have a historical tucked away anywhere that one year). Unfortunately this year, JUST ONE LIFE (the book I sampled last Halloween) didn’t have enough X-factor to make the cut. However, I do have a friend who got the spectacular news that she is a finalist!

Each month the contest takes on a new topic of battle. This month it’s the First Line. After the entries are put on show, the three guest judges weigh in with their two cents worth. However, the readers hold the power, because they vote (via e-mail) for who they think is the best. Those messages are tallied (much like Idol’s phone calls) and the entrant with the lowest score is booted. On it goes until there are two left standing, with the winner to be announced at next year’s RT Convention in Pittsburgh, PA.

This year’s field spans the borders of paranormals with entrants that are traditional, mixed in with a couple futuristics, some fantasies, and a dash of western elements as well as suspenseful mystery. The contestants are just as diverse and hail from across the USA and United Kingdom. If you want to learn more about the authors, go to http://www.sylviaday.com/blog/2007/ which provides a more candid intro than the ones at the American Title page. (Thanks again Sylvia!)

If you want to jump right in and read the First Lines, then vote go to http://www.romantictimes.com/news_amtitle3.php . Just make sure to get there by the 28th to make your choice heard for Round One! Only you can help the author you think is the best advance to the next round. So vote, vote, vote (though padding the e-mail count isn’t allowed)!

Are you wondering why I started this post with Betty Suárez and how she’s related to Halloween, which is fast approaching?


I was wasting writing time to study my target. I’m borrowing Betty’s name and character this year as my Halloween pick. What sense of style I have (thanks Tim Gunn) still shudders at my zany outfit. I’ve nailed the wig and the glasses (almost to a T), but I’m still working on those braces! How perfect a choice is Betty, since she’s getting serious about her writing? (And no, it isn’t all due to the $200 prize, though that mullah could enrich my RT fund.)


What/who are you impersonating this Halloween? Or are you rooting for a Title finalist, if so you can spill here (just not blood)?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Real Things That Go Bump In The Night

Ever since I was a very little kid, I've loved scary movies and books that make your heart race and your blood pressure rise. I've probably seen every 'monster' movie from the 50's and 60's -- you know the ones I mean, they were black and white and on late night TV. Most often they moralized about the danger of radioactivity, which I suppose was natural since that was the 'new' technology of the time. By today's standards, these movies are laughable, the special effects cheesy and not at all believable.

Even then, while I was still young and naive and watching these 'scary' movies long after my parents went to bed, I wasn't really scared. I might have felt a bit of tension wondering if the hero or heroine was going to die that horrible death but that was pure empathy for the character, not fear of The Thing.

Which leads to the movie, The Thing From Another Planet, one of my favorite all time space monster movies with James Arness starring as...The Thing. I haven't seen it for awhile now but I recall the rapid patter of the characters, the rising tension as their danger became clear, the seemingly unstoppable monster who fed on blood. It was terrific. Then I read the short story it was based on, Who Goes There. I was floored! The short story and the movie had very little in common except being set in an frozen wasteland. Years later, I saw the remake of The Thing starring Kurt Russell and was delighted to find that it did indeed follow the original short story and that it was even scarier than either the short story or the old movie.

I love when that happens :D

Well, most of the time I do. When I was first dating my future husband, I remarked that I'd never seen the Exorcist. I'd read the book, certainly, but had never seen the story in its wide screen grandeur. So my sweetie took me to see this movie. In the middle of the week. When we both had to be up bright and early the next day for work. I didn't mind because I was finally going to see the movie that I'd heard so much about. Imagine my delight when I discovered that, although it didn't follow the book exactly, the movie was indeed a scary thing. But, as happens, the movie ended. It was late so he dropped me off at my apartment instead of taking us both for a bite to eat at our favorite restaurant.

I rushed inside, undressed on the fly (I had about 4 hours before I had to be up and off to work) and hit the bed, images of rotating heads and demonic faces rattling through my head. Then I noticed the eerie moaning noise coming from my window. Of course, it was the wind. The apartment complex where I lived had the buildings sort of staggered in a line and I'd left the window open just a smidgen. Just because it was kind of spooky and just because I could hear a soft rustle every now and then, didn't mean I was scared. Not at all. Heck, I'd cut my teeth on monsters and ghouls, on witches and night terrors. No little moaning wind or rustling, dried up leaves were going to scare me.

So I determinedly closed my eyes and ignored what I was hearing.

Then something heavy slammed onto my bed.

I didn't move. Didn't scream. I won't say I was frozen in terror but my heart was hammering like a pile driver. In one of the books I'd read, the heroine had had a scary thing happen to her and she pretended to be asleep or unconscious. She counted to 100, then to 100 again before she cracked her eyes open to see what kind of danger she was in. I did the same all the while using my other senses to determine if I was alone or if Something was in the room with me.

When I opened my eyes, I realized it was too dark to see anything. I counted to 100 again. Still nothing except the ever present wind moaning and leaves rustling. Finally, I reached for the lamp beside my bed, flipped it on and saw...

The mirror from my dresser, situated beside the window, had fallen off. It sat with one edge on the bed.

As my heart began to slow, I realized what had happened. When I'd moved into the apartment, I'd had to dismantle the mirror and when I set it up, I found I couldn't reattach it to the dresser. It hadn't seemed to be a problem because it sat seemingly secure where it was supposed to. Apparently, the moaning wind -- which wasn't even ruffling the window drapes -- had pushed it off balance and it fell.

It didn't even break the glass.

So I got up, put the mirror back in place, closed the window...and turned every light on in my apartment. I spent the remainder of the night sitting in my livingroom. I wasn't scared. Really.

And I never did figure out what had caused that mirror to fall.

-- Lynda

Sixth Sense or Overactive Imagination?

I'm not one to get easily spooked and tend to dismiss stories of hauntings and ghost sightings as thrilling imaginative stories. Don't get me wrong, I love listening to them, I shudder in horror in all the right places and make sure the lights are all on when I get home - but in 'real life', I say to myself, these things don't happen. And honestly, I don't believe they do.

And yet, I do believe in a sixth sense. Have you ever gone past a house and shivered? Ever get introduced to a person and know that there was something 'not right' about them? Ever feel your neck prickle while walking alone at night and glance constantly behind, sure that someone was following? When I was younger I used to get these feelings all the time, though I dismissed it as "mother's fear" - the fear and borderline paranoia your mother instills in you to make sure you keep yourself safe. But I wonder now whether it was actually my sixth sense at work.

Some things just freak you out for no reason. The first time I remember experiencing this was when I was about seven. The house behind ours had a huge gaping hole in the wall, and was empty. For a long time, the hole in the house gave me nightmares. My seven-year-old self knew there was something wrong about it. One boring evening, a gang of us neighbourhood kids stood solemnly before the hole and, predictably, dared each other to go in an explore. Now, I was petrified, but I was curious. I volunteered - to go in second! We crept into the hole and emerged into a furnished room. Cobwebs everywhere. A journal was lying on the table,a pencil dropped over the open spine holding the ink-blotted pages open. It looked as though someone had just up and left, leaving everything behind. Spiders and ants had taken over. It was the spookiest place I'd ever been in. Mostly, though, I was relieved that my sense of uneasiness and fear everytime I looked at the house had been confirmed. Something had happened here, something urgent or bad enough to make the person leave everything behind. Murder, my childish mind whispered, not knowing exactly what that meant but knowing it was something aweful that happened in TV shows.

The next anecdote is a little more gruesome. A friend of mine had moved to a new house in a far-flung remote suburb of London. I trudged there after work in winter, when it's dark at 4pm, prepared to spend the night. It was about 7pm, pitch black, the train station deserted. I walked down cold, deserted streets trying to find her road on my London map. Suddenly, I was overcome by a feeling of horror, petrified by fear. I hurried to my friend's house, and spent all night feeling a deep unease. Three other friends and I spent the night camped out in the spare bedroom, and everyone fell asleep except me. I could hear a small group of teenagers hanging around outside. I was stiff and petrified all night, much more than merited by the sounds of half-drunk, amorous teenagers. I was never so glad to leave anywhere as I was to leave that house the next morning.

Two days later I read in the paper that a horrific rape had happened in that suburb near the train station that night - almost the same time I'd been walking through it.

I used to berate myself for my overactive imagination but after this incident, I finally learned to believe in my sixth sense. And to trust it.

Anyone else believe?

Things that go bump on TV


I've been on a blogging sabbatical of late, but I had to drop in to talk about this week's topic, Things That Go Bump in the Night.


I'm not one of those people that usually likes to be scared. I turn lights on wherever I go and I've been known to dive under the covers if I hear a strange noise in the middle of the night.

Unfortunately, while I have a liberal dose of chicken in my DNA, I also have some cat, which leads me to be eternally curious. Not a good combination.

Recently I've been watching Ghost Hunters every Wednesday night on the Sci-Fi Channel. My son loves the show, but it spooks him a bit. I have to admit, it spooks me a little too.

Now, I'll be the first to admit, the show does a lot of teasing. Special effects in the sound track played just as the investigators hear a strange noise or utter the whispered, "What the heck was that?" and clever cutting of the takes can make one of the TAPS investigations seem a lot scarier than it is. Nine times out of ten, the Ghost Hunters don't find anything unexplainable, even after spending the entire night in pitch blackness in a haunted location.

Nevertheless, by 10:00 pm on Wednesday nights, I'm turning on lights and checking out shadows as I make my way to bed. I think for Christimas I'm going to ask Santa for my very own thermal imaging camera just so I can check out hot spots and I may start leaving a digital recorder running in dark, empty rooms just to see if any passing spirit has anything to say.

Do you like to be spooked? Or like me, are you mostly mostly chicken?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Boos & Bumps in the Night

The soft hiss of air engulfed her like a warm shroud, wrapping her in folds of heat that thawed her icy heart. Her exhale whooshed out shallow…fear stealing her breath. Fingers fluttering over the keyboard like a bat’s wings, she stared at the monitor glowing white in the pitch-dark room. A lone bulb battled the night like a lone warrior against an enemy onslaught garbed in black.

“Kate’s hand clasped the handle, her heart pounding out the pulse in her throat. ‘Why can’t I be brave?’” The whispered words floated, bodiless on the air. A hiss slithered past her lips, indecision the culprit barring her way. The door was right here, but what lay behind it was…the cincher. It could make her reader’s groan, laugh or click the novel closed.

She’d die if it were the later. “I can answer that. Because you’re a woos. And you’re afraid of what you’ll find inside.” Like me. She leaned in, her eyes inches from the screen to re-read the last page. Tension formed a knot between her shoulder blades, the eeriness of her set up like a magic spell that could be brought to fruition. All she needed was to whisper the magic words…so she could downspiral into wickedness.

Her mind reaped the only thread hanging on and coerced her fingers to do its bidding. “Dru groaned, ‘All I need is an extraordinary word to give me the power.’” She sighed, wanting to groan herself over the dreadful dead end.

“Shazam.” Nah, she couldn’t see that written in blood on the wall or as part of a collaged ransom note. One hand lifted from the mouse and the other shied away from palming the keyboard to delicately. Together they perched around the heart-shaped plastic game piece. A clear center reflected the ornately lettered board underneath.

Her heart turned cold, the breath in her lungs trapped and threatening to choke her. She had to decide. Do it her way or the spirit way.

A scrape screeched against the glass, worse than nails on a blackboard. Her body jerked to the side, away from the intrusion. Her old chair grumbled, the leather creaking a warning. Was this a sign? Her eyes turned to slits, her vision tunneling on what lay outside. Twin green eyes stared back, a wet nose stuck to the barrier as if pleading to come in from the cold.

Her breath puffed out, the mouthful a white cloud that hung in between them. Her smile shrunk, disappearing as fast as her sense of comfort.

The game piece drug her hand, eeking out a first letter—G. Then came another in slow motion. Horrified, yet curious she couldn’t lift her hand. A shiver tripped across her nerves, shaking her limbs like the trees outside buffeted like skeletons to the elements. Creeped out, her trembling index finger pecked out the message.

Meow! Casanova’s nails scratched again, his cries banshee shrill. He wanted…needed in.

If I go to the door, I’ll miss out on the end of the message. Kneading her lip with her teeth, two twin shots of steamy air burst out from her nose. A tendril of hair sliced across her nape, sending her straight up to her feet. A cold sweat bubbled atop her skin.

Thunk! A pounding wham sounded against the front door. Short but not sweet. If she hadn’t risen, she’d have popped up at the noise that could’ve woken the dead.

She o-ed her lips and exhaled a long trail of air. Clear as plastic wrap. Whoever had been here was long gone. Her fingers lifted from the now warm plastic. She’d only gotten half of what she needed—Got to….what? Great, now she had to fill in more blanks.

Pulling her satin robe closer, she cinched the belt tight. Her bare feet caressed the thick carpet, tickled enough to wiggle her toes in deeper. She stopped at the end of the hall, her hand immediately going to the light switch.

A shadow heralded across the shade, outlined like a face in profile. Her heart stopped, her mind accessing options for another vantage point to see the lurker. No…the stoop was a blind spot. Her incisor nipped her lip. The salt of blood registered to her taste buds. She’d rather have a spoonful of ice cream pooling there.

No rattle came from the window to her right, nor did eyes peek in through the slats to pin her in place. Should she leave her safe haven? Her eyes flicked to the kitchen’s counter. That would make a sizable shield. As fast as the thought processed, her muscles bunched for the jump.

She landed soft as a ballerina, her fingers tracing the edge of the sink to find the utensil tray. A handle arched like a podium grave marker. Black handle, steel blade. That oughta work in a tussle…if she could muster the guts. With a deep breath, she knelt and peeked around the wooden cabinets. No silhouettes arced across the front door’s cover.

She crawled forward on all fours, then inched up beside the barrier. The fuzz on the back of her neck rocketed up. She sucked in her breath, raising her hand to the shade. One, two…three. She jerked it forward to find Casanova perched on the railing. Winded from anxiety, she slumped forward for a second before she twisted the lock.

A mew greeted her as withered orange leaves scuttled inside, scratching against the tile floor. Casanova didn’t follow. He stared down at the landing, his paw outstretched as if to say, “It did it.”

A fat yellow envelope lay there.

With a suddenly calm hand she plucked it up and turned the package over to find WRONG ADDRESS scrawled across the corner in red. Mr. Cross’ block letters again. She sliced open the end with glee, the fibers flying like dried mummy wrappings. Inside lay a stack of typed pages and a single crummy letter.

More food for her power shredder. Or perhaps she should splurge on an elaborate ceremony with flames, that little black dress in the back of her closet and a few scented candles. She slipped the knife into her pocket, tucked the envelope under her arm and picked up Casanova like a big, furry baby. “Gotcha.”

The black cat’s hum started loud and strong…rumbling like pocket-sized thunder. Lightening struck her to the core. That one word made every spooky situation frighteningly right. “Shall we open Dru’s fridge and see what’s lurking inside?”

Her foot landed on something wet with a little give. She looked down. A tapering tail stuck out. Ew! She wiped her foot across the concrete, smearing a short arc of blood beside the dead mouse. “What have I told you about bringing your kills home to mom?”

___________________________________________________

This was a little something I cooked up from stuff I’d rather not hear or see go bump in the night. I do believe in ghost stories and always get a little freaked watching anything to do with the supernatural. (I don’t watch Ghost Whisperer!) Once when I slept over at my bf’s parent’s house, I stayed awake all night...and not for the fun of it. They’d decided to watch a show about true ghost stories in Southern plantations, which seriously weirded me out.

I still recall the night my sister, my cousin and I used a Ouija board to talk to a dead relative. We didn’t get him, instead we got a spirit who was mean and liked to cuss. Just remembering that night still gives me the heebie-jeebies. I haven’t touched a board since.

On the off chance that I watch a horror flick, I always tune in during the day. And I don’t do slasher/hack `em up movies. Yeah, I’m a woos. Therefore, it’s no surprise my heroine in the short story above is too:0) And yes, I really use to hide in the hall like her when I was a lock-key kid...sans the knife.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

new books, new worlds





Today a bag of new books arrived. I tell you, I'm like a little kid at Christmas! I get soooo excited! Man, I just can't wait to rip that post bag open and cut through the bubble wrap and see what I bought.

Yes, sad fact is that I often forget. I know when I order them, I'm not that bad yet ROTFL, but I do tend to forget....luckily, my book lady is aware of it and doesn't mind when I email her with the query..."Did I order such-and-such in my last order?"

But new books are just an adventure waiting to be opened and lived. New characters, new settings, new side characters, a new take on a theme...new cover . Today I'll be laughing, tomorrow crying, the next day I'll shiver in fear and the day after I'll sigh romantically. I'll marvel at the world of urban fantasy and sigh over a Navy SEAL. I'll think my own thoughts over the hunky neighbour next door, and lust after the space squadron captain. I'll guffaw at the wise-cracking heroine and admire the one who never gives up. And I'll be thinking - don't go down there alone! when I'm reading a new horor book.

So much to see, so much to do, so much to feel, and all by opening up a new book and entering yet another new world! It's magic!

It is so exciting!

My problem is trying to choose which to start first. I now have about 30 books in my To Be Read pile...and I can't seem to stop buying more. A book catches my eye and...hopeless.

Angela *hopeless and loving it!*

Monday, October 08, 2007

Peter Panning It

Getting older is a bitch.

Not just a small nagging one either, but a big raging hormone fest of a bitch. I'm speaking of the aging physcial body of course. In my mind, I'm in my early to mid-twenties. Not to say that I don't act my age, but I like to think young. I still love to learn new things and experience things I haven't before.

I believe as writers we are behooved to cast off our adult roles on occasion and become the wide-eyed kids of our youth. By questioning the world and how it works, and seeking out unfamiliar concepts we continue to grow and change as writers. I know during these excursion into learning I've come across ideas that coalece before my eyes into almost complete story plots. Also as we grow in knowledge our writing becomes richer and deeper, the characters more complex. However, adding in a dash of brash youth is still attractive in a hero or heroine.

Don't you find a hero irresistable when he turns a joking smile to the heroine and you know there is just enough mischeivious Pan in him to rattle her cage? This scene is usually followed by the writer telling the reader about the telling glint in his eyes.

What about the heroine that doesn't act her age - much? I see this frequently in Regency novels for some reason. Heroines who are funny and irreverant and have that pannish side of their character. Generally they leave the hero confused and at a loss, and totally in love. They are like a breath of fresh air in the heroes stuffy life. Something they (the hero) are missing from themselves. Something they lost to adulthood. An ability to laugh and joke, have fun and to dream.

Personally, I love not acting my age. I like to laugh loudly...roar with it if I can. I like to be goofy and silly and sing at the top of my lungs for no other reason than I feel like it.

Yep, getting older is a bitch. But why be a bitch?

-Kat

Friday, October 05, 2007

Banned Books...Keep Your Fire to Yourself

Rebel isn’t my middle name, but I do on occasion like to push the envelope. So why would I have been any different in my youth…other than the fact that I wasn’t quite a nerd, nor quite a jock and yet had an affinity for English. So in other words when book reports were dished out my junior year of high school I decided that I didn’t want a lame book (most likely cause I’d already read it) so I picked a book off the banned list, which meant I had to get permission from my parents (as in my mom, who I remind you isn’t a reader). So I got the legalities straightened out and stood holding the CATCHER IN THE RYE by J.D. Salinger in my hot little hands. Now I honestly couldn’t tell you what the book was about, but I do still recall being shocked at some of the situations and language. But what I recall the most is how achingly sad I felt for the hero, Holden.

Since then I’ve read some of the other “hot” titles including: THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN by Mark Twain (I soaked in every word in Lit class in college), THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK (which I tackled way back in middle school), AWAKENING by Kate Chopin (the subject of one of my most brilliant papers in college), CANDIDE by Voltaire (which was required for my European Lit class), I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS by Maya Angelou (a “requirement” for Southern Women’s Lit), MADAME BOVARY by Gustave Flaubert (another title from English Lit that intrigued me), MOLL FLANDERS by Daniel Defoe (which I think we touched on in a class, but I liked so much I picked up the DVD), LADY CHATTERLEY’S LOVER by D.H. Lawrence (sometime in college during my 3rd year), LORD OF THE FLIES by William Golding (which we debated for weeks in high school), and THE SCARLET LETTER by Nathaniel Hawthorne (I never forgot the imagery of Hester bearing that A).

As I look at the recent BANNED lists I see one called GOSSIP GIRLS ranked in the top five and has just hit the small screen as a must-watch for teens. I gave #4 (THE EARTH, MY BUTT, AND OTHER BIG ROUND THINGS) to my sister for a birthday present. No that wasn’t a silent joke about her rear-end :0) But I guess I was spreading the anarchy.

For a while, I thought I’d talk about Harry Potter’s prevalence in the “challenged books” list, but have since decided that my explanation to my friend (whose hubby thinks the whole franchise will destroy her Christian beliefs) is sufficient venting on that topic. Besides lots of other writers have already weighed in with their 2 cents worth, so you don’t really need mine to add to the penny pile.

But I will say that the whole subject of banned books boils down to perception. Anyone can find something wrong with any book if they work hard enough at it. If you’re prejudiced about certain topics, you’d be at a higher risk to dislike a book that focused on those issues (especially if the author’s views didn’t follow your own). And then there are the books adults think are brainwashing kids to be “weird”. I couldn’t believe CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS was on the list, because my sister has mentioned countless times how her 1st and 2nd grade students love the adventures. I think it’s ironic schools don’t want to stock the books in their libraries, yet display them on Book Fair shelves, knowing they’ll be bought. Seems like a sordid tactic by the powers that be to me.

Another thing I don’t understand is how people judge a book, but never read it. In most instances it’s better to know what you’re standing for, than to simply be part of the pack. Since I have “universal” blood, I attended a blood drive that happened to be at a church. While I was sitting in the canteen, discussion began about Dan Brown’s book THE DAVINCI CODE. It seems someone was coming to the church to talk about it, and the man sitting across from me asked the preacher (who was beside me) whether he planned to attend. The preacher railed that he wasn’t (mind you where I come from religion means fire and brimstone). Then the man asked the preacher if he’d read the book. The preacher didn’t hesitate in saying no, and that he wouldn’t. What troubled me was that he’d condemned something that he hadn’t experienced, and to top that off he’d let society’s (and the church’s) prejudice guide him in his beliefs and actions.

Reading fiction doesn’t make a person bad. Books are simply words on a page that touch the reader’s heart and mind. If the reader is compelled to act, then those actions should be corralled by social mores of right and wrong. The words shouldn’t be banned, yet books still pay the price years after the practice became “accepted”. If anything is the culprit, then pin the trouble on inspiration.

I truly hope our present never degrades into the version of futuristic society I watched play out on cable during my high school years. I remember a gritty setting, almost apocalyptic, where the government controlled/corralled everyone. Books were brought out by the lot and tossed into huge, mountainous bonfires to deter any unrest…to make sure no one learned or knew history. What a tragedy it would be to lose something so precious and to make writing an entirely black-listed vocation.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Celebrating Banned Books

"Part of living in a democracy means respecting each other's differences and the right of all people to choose for themselves what they and their families read." Judith F. Krug, director of the ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom.

I'm a firm believer in taking personal responsibility for what I do, read or think. Therefore to me, banning books is just wrong. So I'd like to take a moment to celebrate two books that have created controversy. I'm sure you'll all recognize them :D


I’m sure I’m not alone when I list the Harry Potter books, by J. K. Rowling, as favorites (I’ve purchased and read all of them.) These books have rejuvenated interest in reading among many school children and adult alike. The Harry Potter books did more to promote reading among the younger generation (and the older for that matter!) than any other books. They are works of fiction just the same as any other work of fantasy or SF. These books are geared for the younger reader with simple, easy to read and understand text. If there’s any underlying message, it’s again a simple one to understand – Good will win over Evil.


Then there’s Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley, one of the first SF oriented books I’d ever read. Good social SF will always raise a question or two and make you think. Is that a bad thing? Not in my opinion. In fact, most fiction will pose a question and answer it according to how the author sees the universe or world. It’s up to us to decide if we agree or not.


But we shouldn’t be forced to limit either our entertainment (as in the Potter books) or our world view (as in the Huxley book) based on someone else’s fears or prejudices. As Kat said in her post, we need to take personal responsibility for what we read, what we do, how we think, how we live. If we abrogate this responsibility by letting the government or any other vocal groups of protestors decide these things for us, then we shouldn’t be surprised if we end up living in a true Big Brother Society.

Even though it’s 2007, the world of 1984 can still come true.


-- Lynda

Monday, October 01, 2007

Times Haven't Really Changed - Have They?

For me, banned books have always had the opposite effect. It just makes me want to read them all the more, even if I've never shown an interest in the title before. What is so controversial about it? I have to find out. I need to know.

I remember back in the late 80's in my hometown of Panama City, Florida the Bay County School Board met to issue a list of books they were banning from the schools. On the list of course was Huckleberry Finn, everyone's favorite love/hate book when it comes to banning. There were others, too. The Outsiders I believe was one of them. I remember distinctally one teacher getting up before the board and ripping their criteria for banning to shreads. We had this hardware store in town called Scotty's. Their logo was "With the helping hand of Scotty's you can do it yourself." - She told the school board that under their criteria, even Scotty's would have to remove their sign from public streets. Oh, how I laughed. As did the rest of the packed meeting room. The school board however, didn't seem to think it was funny. Go figure.

Now as we go into yet another round of Book Banning Week, I see the same arguments posted on articles. The same moral thumpers thinking they know what's best for everyone. When I went back to college a few years ago to get my English degree, I dabbled with the thought of changing careers from medicine to teaching. I decided instead to devout my time to writing and stay in the health field - but I digress. While doing a student survey of schools where I had to spend all day at a high school in varying English classes, most of them were reading their required books (the literature portion of the cirriculum). I was very surprised to find in one senior classroom the required reading was "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." I told the teacher I was shocked by how progressive that seemed. It never would have been allowed in my high school. Let alone as part of the reading program. I was actually proud of my local schools. Shocked, but proud.

As I look at the list of books banned from libraries that made this year's list. I shake my head. Just as with everything else, it seems as though parents want someone else to police their children's behavior so they don't have to. When will people learn that the best barometer of what your kid reads is what YOU as the parent will let them? If the schools were to take out the books that could possibly offend every race, creed and religious affliation, there would be no more school libraries. Because, quite frankly, with this American melting pot, no one can possibly anticipate what every single person will have an objection to. Sure, there are the big taboos that we all know about, but what about the smaller ones that are just objectionable to someone's personal taste? Where do the libraries and schools draw the line and say.."No, this one is staying in." How do they stand firm without offending someone else. The way I look at it, it's a no-win situation for the schools. They want to protect children - fine, I applaud that - but let's also show a bit of discretion on our own parts.

-Kat