Friday, June 28, 2013

Celebrate the Small Things - The end is near edition

It's Friday!  Time for another edition of Celebrate the Small Things!

Flickr Creative Commons
This week, I'm celebrating the fact that I am almost done teaching summer school!  I am 3 classes away from my summer break, and I couldn't be more excited.  It's been a whirlwind of a session, but there is light at the end of this particular tunnel, and I'm finally able to see it.

What are you celebrating this week?

Photo Friday - Candle edition

I like to have a candle burning while I'm working.  I generally go through them pretty quickly, since I let them go for hours at a time.  That's okay though, because part of the fun is picking out new scents to try.

I started a fresh candle today. This one smells like roasting marshmallows--perfect for summer!

Do you enjoy candles?  What's your favorite scent?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Tools of the Trade

This past weekend, I bought a new keyboard.

Nothing was wrong with my laptop keyboard, but I did notice that if I typed for any length of time, my hands would start to ache.  Nothing major, but since I type a lot at work and then come home to type even more, it was clear this whole 'aching hands and wrists' thing was a potentially serious problem.

I'd seen those ergonomic keyboards, the ones that are supposed to keep your hands and wrists in a more 'natural' position as you type.  I'd even used one a time or two, and while the experience was initially odd, I did enjoy it.

So when I found myself at the electronics store this weekend, buying my mother a new computer, I decided to get a little something for me, too.  I purchased this beauty:

Note the gently sloping wave design--aesthetic and practical!
I've only been using it for 2 days, but wow!  What a difference!  Both nights, I've written for two hours straight, only stopping because it's the wee small hours of the morning and I have to work the next day.  My hands and wrists don't hurt, and my productivity in terms of words written has really jumped.

I don't think this sudden spurt of progress is totally due to the wonders of a magical keyboard, but I do think that having the right tools helps to unlock creativity, and allows us to reach our potential.  Have you had a similar experience?  What tools or tricks do you use to boost your writing?

Monday, June 24, 2013

Books Go To The Movies - World War Z

I just finished reading World War Z by Max Brooks a few days ago.  I'm one of those people who likes to read the book before seeing the movie (strange, I know).  Incidentally, my Gentleman Friend is the exact opposite--he likes to go into the movie with no preconceived ideas about the characters or plot.  He claims he enjoys the movie more if he hasn't read the book yet.  I guess I can understand that, but still...

Anyway, back to the point of this post.  There is really no reason to compare the book and movie versions of World War Z, as about the only things they have in common are a title and zombies.

The book was an enjoyable spin on zombie mythology, and I liked the Studs Terkel-esque style.  I had wondered how they were going to take a multi-perspective, episodic narrative and adapt it for the screen, and it turns out they didn't really try. Some of the incidents described in the book are loosely adapted for the movie, but much is lost.

The movie is a decent zombie flick, but it doesn't really stand out for me.  There are a lot of loose ends that needed to be resolved, and the final solution felt a bit too contrived and easy.  Overall, I enjoyed the movie, but the book is so much better.

Has anyone else seen World War Z?  What did you think?  Did you read the book, and if so, which did you prefer?  And please tell me I'm not the only one out there who likes to read the book before seeing the movie adaptation!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Celebrate the Small Things - Girls' Night edition!

Got something to celebrate this week?  Head on over to VikLit's blog to sign up and join the hop!

This week, I'm celebrating the girls' night planned for Saturday.  We're going to rent movies, eat chocolate, and drink wine, while wearing the girls' night uniform of pajama pants and comfy shirts.  It should be a lot of fun, and I'm really looking forward to it!

What good stuff happened to you lately?

Photo Friday - Zoo edition

I went to the zoo a few weeks ago for the first time in years.  I'd forgotten what a nice zoo we have, and it was great to see all the animals out and about before the heat of summer gets to be too much.  While I enjoy seeing them all, I have a soft spot for the big cats.

What's your favorite zoo animal?

Monday, June 17, 2013

Zombie spiders!

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No, this is not a new horror craze. Unfortunately, zombie spiders are all too real, and I have found several in the house over the past few days.

You should know that I'm a fan of nature. I'm a biology professor, for crying out loud! I like other living things, and I'm very much a live-and-let-live kind of gal.  I recognize that spiders play an important role in the circle of life, and I appreciate the job they do.

I just want them to do it outside.

When I find a spider inside, my preference is to shoo them out. Sometimes though, they manage to go undetected for so long that they up and die, and then I dispose of their mortal coils.

Except for the zombie spiders.

These guys look dead.  They lie there, completely still, with their legs curled under in the universal 'I am a dead spider' pose.  It's only when you scoop them up to toss them that they suddenly re-animate, stretching out those legs to a ridiculous length, revealing that they are, in fact, alive and so much bigger than you initially thought.

It's enough to make a person scream like a tweenager at a Justin Bieber concert.  Not that I would do that or anything.  I'm just saying, I wouldn't judge a person for having that reaction.

Have you ever encountered a zombie spider, or are they confined to Texas?

Friday, June 14, 2013

Celebrate the Small Things - Baby steps edition

It's time to celebrate!  This is a fabulous blog hop, hosted by the great VikLit over at Scribblings of an Aspiring Author--be sure to stop by and sign up to join us!

This week, I'm celebrating the fact that I'm making progress on my edits for book 2.  My agent had some great suggestions, and I feel that the changes I'm incorporating are making the story a lot stronger.  I hope to have the edits finished by the end of the month, so keep your fingers crossed for me!

What are you all celebrating this week?

Photo Friday - Fruity Drink edition

Summer is here!  Maybe not according to the calendar, but you wouldn't know that by the temperatures we've been experiencing lately.  What better way to cool off than with a frosty beverage and some friends?

What's your favorite summer drink?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Best Books Ever Giveaway Winner!

Congratulations go to...

Brynna Nelson!

You're the winner of the Best Books Ever Giveaway Hop!  Please email me your mailing address, and I'll get your book in the mail right away!

Thanks to all who entered, and come back next month for another giveaway!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Friday, June 7, 2013

Celebrate the Small Things with a Guest Post by Jodi Thomas!

I'm so excited to welcome NYT and USA Today bestselling author Jodi Thomas to the blog today!  I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Thomas at DFW Con two years ago, and I very much enjoyed her class.  She's dropping by the blog today to talk about her latest release, Can't Stop Believing.  Without further ado, let me turn it over to Jodi!

When I began writing CAN’T STOP BELIEVING, I wanted to write a story about second chances.  Like they always do, characters began to dance in my head, jumping up and down wanting to tell their stories.  Some authors develop characters with long outlines and background studies.  I pretty much just wait around for them to drop by, sit down and tell me their stories.

Cord McMillan did just that.  He’d completely destroyed his life one night just before he turned eighteen.  Seven years later no one in Harmony wanted to talk to him, much less be his friend.  If he hadn’t inherited his parents little farm, he’d have had nothing and the farm was in so much trouble he had to work in town to keep from losing it. Nevada Britain had rich land and money, but her reputation was worse than Cord’s.  Neither trusted anyone but a need to survive brought them together and they formed a bond no one could break.

I’m over my ‘after the book’ blues that always hits when a book is finished.  I’ve moved on to another story, but these characters will always be in the back of my mind like old friends.  I hope for all of you they will be that as well.

So, now it’s your chance to step into my Harmony, Texas.  You’ll find love and lose love while you laugh and cry at the turns in life for the people of Harmony.  And, it is my hope that you’ll care about them all as dearly as I have. 

Welcome, step on in and meet the folks,

Jodi Thomas

Jodi's books always have great covers, don't you think?

Cord McDowell gave up his freedom at eighteen when he went to jail for a crime he didn’t commit. Now, ten years later, he’s about to give it up again for a piece of land. Nevada Britain, his neighbor, has just made him an offer he can’t refuse: If he’ll marry her, she’ll sign over a section of property that their families have been fighting over for a hundred years. Nevada refuses to explain why, but Cord knows the bargain is in his favor. He just has one condition—she has to sleep in his bed every night for as long as their doomed marriage lasts. Nevada only wants to maintain her family’s legacy—and redeem herself for a wrong she did Cord years ago. But as she spends more time with her husband of necessity, she discovers something unexpected—a love so deep it takes her breath away.

I don't know about you, but I just love marriage of convenience stories!

I hope you've enjoyed Jodi's guest post.  I always love having visitors drop by the blog, and it's one of the things I'm celebrating this week!  Be sure to stop by VikLit's blog for the sign up list so you can join us on this great hop!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

IWSG - June edition

Welcome to the June edition of the Insecure Writer's Support Group!  This is the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh, and I encourage you to check out his blog and join the list.  Baring your insecurities in public has never been so fun!

Here's a question for you: has anyone ever made you feel bad about what you write (and yes, I know the Eleanor Roosevelt quote that says no one can make you feel inferior without your permission, but still...)?  I've had this experience several times, usually at a conference.  I'll meet another writer, ask them about their work, and when they find out I write romance, the conversation tends to shut down.

"Oh," they'll say, their eyes casting about for someone else to talk to.  "I don't really read _those books_."  Insert a smirk and a scoff, and a remark about 'real' writing.

Why do we do this to each other?  Why do we try to make other authors feel that their work is somehow 'less,' whatever that means?  Can't we support each other, and celebrate the fact that there is diversity and limitless creativity in the writing world?

Maybe that's a little too kumbaya of me, and maybe I'm being naive, but I don't think of writing and publishing as a zero-sum game.  Rather, the success of other writers, regardless of genre, will only serve to help the community as a whole.  Haven't we seen time and again that the runaway success of one book will boost sales of others in that genre?  People find something they like to read, and it causes them to explore other options. Everybody wins.

So what's your response when someone dismisses what you do?  How do you keep their scorn and negative attitude from getting you down?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Meanwhile, in a bookstore...
Gentleman Friend: "Hey, did you find anything?" Pauses, looks at my collection.  "I was only gone for a few minutes--how did you get so many books in such a short amount of time?"

Me: "I don't understand the question.  Did you find anything?"

Gentleman Friend: "Sure did--check it out!"  Holds up one book.

Me: "Is that all?"

Gentleman Friend: "Yeah.  I already have a stack of books at home, so I don't want to get too many."

Me: *blinkblink*

Monday, June 3, 2013

Best Books Ever Blog Hop!

The Best Book Ever Hop
I'm excited to participate in this blog hop, hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and The Best Books Ever.  Click on the picture above to be taken to the full list of participating blogs!

This is a fun hop, because all the prizes fit into the posted categories of Best Books Ever.  I encourage you to explore the list and see if you agree with some of the choices.

As the prize this month, I'm giving away a copy of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander.  I think it fits several of the Best Book Ever categories: Strong Female Leads (Claire... check!), Male Main Character (Jamie... swoon!), Best Love Story, Love Triangle, International Setting, Debut, Heroes (seriously, Jamie!), Time Travel, Historical Fiction, Emotional Stories, Books You Wish You'd Written, Books to Live In...  Well, you can see why I think Outlander qualifies for this giveaway.

Here's the back cover blurb for this awesome book:

Claire Randall is leading a double life. She has a husband in one century, and a lover in another...

In 1945, Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon--when she innocently touches a boulder in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach--an "outlander"--in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of our Lord...1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire's destiny is soon inextricably intertwined with Clan MacKenzie and the forbidden Castle Leoch. She is catapulted without warning into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life ...and shatter her heart. For here, James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a passion so fierce and a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire...and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.
Her husband is two centuries away, she is related to her lover's mortal enemy, and her neighbors think she's a witch. In this unforgettable novel of time travel, Diana Gabaldon fuses wry, modern sensibility with the drama, passion, and violence of eighteenth century as she tells the story of one daring woman and the man who loves her.
This giveaway will run until Monday, June 10, and is open to US readers. On Tuesday, June 11 I'll post the winner's name.  To enter, use the Rafflecopter form below.
Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Goodreads Author Profile!

I'm excited to announce that I have an author page at Goodreads!  I'd love to see you guys over there, so please add me to your reading friends list! :-)