Thursday, December 29, 2011

Cold River Book Review

Warm up winter reading with Liz Adair's romantic suspense, Cold River.
From the back cover:
Mandy Steenburg thinks her doctorate in education has prepared her to run any school district - until she tangles with the moonshine-making, coon-dog-owning denizens of a tiny district in Pacific Northwest timber country. She's determined to make a difference, but the local populace still looks to the former superintendent for leadership. When Mandy lands in the middle of an old feud and someone keeps trying to kill her, instinct tells her to run. And though she has to literally swim through perilous waters, she finds a reason to stay and chance the odds.

The plot for this book holds general appeal because we get to watch someone who thinks she's going to take on a challenge and come out making a difference for those over whom she has charge. Haven't we all hoped for something similar? Of course it isn't that easy but we want Mandy to succeed. Her tenacity had me rooting for Mandy, even though she occasionally reacted as cold as her reception in Limestone. The politics within the town and school board took me into an interesting world. And the setting! I wanted to be there. Adair adds interesting characters and writing that skillfully flowed. I did wish for a bit more  suspense but found it an enjoyable, clean read with a satisfying end.    

You can purchase Cold River HERE  OR Visit Liz Adair's blog HERE 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Right Brain, Left Brain Rehashed

  I hope you all had a wonderful holiday! On Thursday I will post a review of Liz Adair's Cold River so y'all be sure to come back for that. Today my brain is going to take a holiday so I'll give a repost of my first blog post ever that you might even find comment-worthy. Hope you enjoy it. 
  I followed some writers’ comments showing variance in their answers to such questions as “Do you listen to music when you write?” or “How do you get the creative juices to flow?” Someone gives a tip that I really like and another time I think I would never try that. We are all so different and that is a beautiful thing. We need to find out what works and doesn’t work for us and balance that with a willingness to try something new that could potentially enhance our craft.
  This got me to thinking that maybe there is no right way to write. Maybe it’s a Right Brain/Left Brain thing.
  I've heard that a first draft should flow by letting whatever you are thinking come as fast as it can. Editing and cleanup comes later. Just get it down. Okay. Am I doing that when I type a couple paragraphs that seem to flow, but then I stop and reread them before I can go on with the next flowing sequence? I'm not spending time figuring out a better word or structure, but if something glares at me I will fix it right then. It feels creative to improve upon it. When I get to the end of reading the section I've written, I’m ready to go again. But only for a section. I don’t understand someone who can write the whole thing from start to finish without going back over what they've written. It’s as if my left brain's organization and structure wants to keep inserting herself into my right brain’s creative flow. Is this normal? Perhaps it is for me. Perhaps it’s only lack of experience.
  Try this for fun: Clasp your hands together with fingers interlocking. Which thumb is on top? Now fold your arms. Which arm crosses on top? Chances are they are the same. Right thumb or arm on top leans toward being left brained and vice versa. I should say here that everyone uses both sides of the brain but that we have a tendency toward favoring one side to some degree. The amount of favoring can change, especially before adulthood.
  Out of curiosity, I took a couple online brain quizzes. The shortest one pegged me as right-brained. Laugh out loud! I really do enjoy the editing process as much as the writing, music distracts me, and I look at a scene sequentially in parts that make up a whole. Very left-brained. Another had me almost totally left-brained and another put me as 58% left to 42% right. Go figure.
  In reality, it takes a mixture of left- and right-brained thinking to be a writer. Upfront, one can see the imagination it takes to dream up the story. Underneath, logic is used to figure out the path a character would take or which word is best. The trick is to play our strengths and become a more balanced thinker in the weak areas while we use our whole brains to write. That is when what we write becomes truly satisfying. 
Do you agree? So, which side dominates for you and how does it affect your writing?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Holiday Wishes

However you celebrate this season, here's my list to wish you a happy holiday. Enjoy!

Making the most of memories
Everyone you love around you
Reading the scripture story of Christ’s birth
Resting after rushing around
Yummy treats to share

Choirs singing carols
Hope for the upcoming year
Readying the tree with decorations
Iridescent lighting
Snow football or making snowmen
Traditions of cookies and hot chocolate
Mistletoe kisses
Asking what Santa might bring
Special feelings through service

Monday, December 12, 2011

Book Review

View The-Assas...jpg in slide showRod Miller's The Assassination of Governor Boggs is a fascinating read.
From the back cover: After an attempted assassination, Governor Lilburn Boggs couldn't prove who'd taken a shot at him, leaving the identity of his assailant a mystery. Twenty-five years later and after the passing of Gov. Boggs, Detective Calvin Pogue has been hired by the Boggs family to open this cold case and find out the truth about the assassin. From Missouri to California and into the heart of the Utah Territory, Detective Pogue relentlessly seeks clues that lead him to the legendary Mormon gunman Porter Rockwell--who still isn't making things easy for anyone! Join Detective Pogue as he steps into this hair-raising mystery and tracks down Gov. Bogg's enemies and friends to a finale you won't believe.
  This historical novel is not a quick, easy read. Miller packed so much information into these pages that it took considerable focus. The purpose of teaching Mormon and political history during the time frame through story form hits its mark with so many spoonfuls of fact and opinion that lead the reader to draw his own (though somewhat slanted) conclusion. The investigative nature of the book lends itself well to fact-finding events.
  What I liked: The historical elements, of course. I enjoyed the contrast of Rockwell's rough storytelling woven between the proper detective's fact-finding. Miller's writing added the flavor of the times and occasional verb inventions taken from nouns. Pogue stiff-legged his way somewhere, thumbed his button into place, or paged through his notebook.
  What I didn't like: The unsettling feeling of murder condoned by righteous indignation or by church leadership. The times were definitely different, but it's hard to wrap my head around this concept. If you like happy-ever-after endings, you'll find some trouble here--though more to the fault of history than the author. There was also a place or two where it felt like a fact info dump, but was easily forgiven. Overall, I believe many readers, especially western and history buffs, would enjoy this novel.
  Here is the purchase link:

Monday, December 5, 2011

Genres—deciding where to fit

  I used to think my historical novel, The Seventh City, targeted the adult audience. Hardly any sixteen-year-old young adult stories included widows dealing with mature themes. Then I got some feedback that the voice of my story felt YA. My next project, Perception, stars a high school senior. Maybe I am a YA author. I’m setting out to ascertain what young adult includes. Obviously it means more than wizards, vampires, and high school crushes. It’s time to start reading younger, learn the YA secret language, and figure out the guidelines.
  Whatever the genre, people read for entertainment and escapism. Readers want to be taken away from their own life or world. This doesn’t necessarily mean fantasy or sci-fi, but could be why they are so popular. Genres and subgenres have evolved with time and we are seeing the product of creative imagination.
  What do you like to read and why? And if you write YA, maybe you could leave a guideline or tip for me. I'd love to read your comments.