Guest Blog Post

Javelina Sydney

December 27, 2014

Our guest blogger is Sydney Paige McCutcheon author of Henry.

Javelina Sydney

Back in middle school my scientist teacher had a yearly project she subjected called, “The Phylum Fashion Show”. All the science teachers do this, actually. It’s where the teachers assign each student with an animal and that student has to study the animal, do a research paper, and also make a mask. Then on a particular day all the students assigned the project will go to the library where a stage is set up with curtains and a draw-bridge (or so I call it). 
They have to wear their mask and say what their animal is, etc, in front of other students from their grade not in the class. 

Three days in correlation to this event I remember in particular. The year before I got this assignment and I would see other students modeling their masks as they spouted out facts – I hoped I would get that class because it looked awesome, especially the ones who got the tigers or the panthers (the coolanimals). The second day is when I am sitting in my biology class awaiting to reach my hand in the bowl filled with tiny strips of paper with an animal name on each of them. Everyone is excited to see what they will get, and soon my turn comes. 

I reach a hand in the bowl and take my strip of paper – something you can’t undo. Once you get your animal, you can’t pick another. That’s the rule. So unfair. 

While other girls got the tigers, panthers, leopards, and other graceful creatures. I got the opposite. 

The Javelina. 

A large rodent masked as a pig.

What was my first reaction? Read more »

Keeping Kindle

December 26, 2014

Our guest blogger is Ginger Marcinkowski author of The Button Legacy: Emily’s Inheritance (4.9 stars, 24 reviews).

Keeping Kindle

I’ve got a confession to make. I like the oldies, but goodies. I still hum the Beach Boys, Ba Ba Ba, Ba, Barbara Ann, to my year-old grandson. I put gravy and vinegar on my French fries like I did as a kid. I love vintage jewelry and classic-cut clothes. Change is not hard for me, and I love watching technology move along…but I can’t help liking nostalgic kinds of things. So it seems to not surprise anyone when I pull out my original pristine white Kindle. It was here that I downloaded my debut novel, Run, River Currents, to my Kindle—a thrill for any first-time author.

I remember that day so vividly; I was lying on a white beach in Mississippi, the day a summer-south kind of hot that made you sweat in air-conditioning. The day was bright, but it was no match for the clarity the Kindle gave me in the full sunlight, something my iPad cannot match. I was perched under a big, colorful umbrella, letting the sun bounce off my brilliant white legs while I read my latest download, Grace Unexpected. My cell phone rings, and I recognize the number—my book manager. “It’s up!” she gleefully tells me. “The book?” I cry. “Yes!” I slam the phone down, and within 30 seconds I am reading MY book!

So, it is no wonder that, when I returned a few weeks later from a business trip and pulled my now-famous Kindle (because I was an author and downloaded there) from my briefcase to charge it, I was horrified to see a small black square in the upper right-hand corner of my device. “NOOOOOOOOOO,” I screamed. “Not my Kindle!” My husband rushed to my side, thinking I had crushed a foot or broken my arm. Examining my Kindle, he declared it to be broken.

I slumped into my office chair and placed my left hand over my eyes. “What am I going to do now?” “Get a new one, honey!” he cheerfully offered. “I can buy you one for Christmas!” Now I have been married to this man for over 40 years. You’d think by Read more »

For Adults Who Read YA Fiction

November 24, 2014

Our guest blogger is Jordan Rivet author of Seabound.

For Adults Who Read YA Fiction

A few weeks ago, I had a drink with a new acquaintance whose job involves organizing literary festivals. I wanted to impress her. I was participating in the upcoming festival to promote the book I wrote under another alias, but I was under no illusions about where I stood in the hierarchy of literary talents being featured.

As we got to know each other, I told Lit Fest Person that I write post-apocalyptic novels set at sea under my other name.

“Is it YA?” Lit Fest Person asked.

“No,” I said, rubbing at the condensation on my glass. “I mean . . . it’s an adult book, but it would appeal to the kind of adults who like to read YA, especially dystopian YA.”

Lit Fest Person nodded sagely.

“Actually,” I continued, “I’m sorry, but I love to read YA. No, I shouldn’t apologize. Those books are awesome. Hunger Games, Divergent, Shatter Me . . .”

I trailed off, waiting for the judgment. (I’ve read Salon; I know how some people in the literary community view YA fiction.)

But then . . . Lit Fest Person set down her glass, leaned forward, and said something along the lines of “OMG, have you read Brandon Sanderson’s YA series?! It’s called Steelheart. It’s soooo good!”

We proceeded to gush over the joys of YA fiction, science fiction and fantasy–basically every type of fun (dare I say commercial) genre book you’d expect a literary festival coordinator to deride. It was a real icebreaker when we got past the polite, high-brow conversation to the fact that we both just love reading.

Later (after our second rum cocktail), I got to thinking about why I’d felt the need to apologize for liking YA books in front of a Serious Literary Person, even if it was only for a moment. Why should I be ashamed of reading anything? YA fiction has some of the best world-building and most engaging plots out there right now. There are some cool concepts and great storytelling going around, and the target audience doesn’t change that. Read more »

How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways

September 29, 2014

Our guest blogger is Evy Journey author of several books including Hello, My Love! (4.3 stars, 21 reviews, FREE on Sept 29-Oct 3).

How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways

If Àlain Badiou, greatest living French philosopher—according to his compatriots—writes a book called In Praise of Love, wouldn’t you pay attention?

I did. After all, aren’t the French also famed as some of the world’s greatest lovers (after the Spaniards, Italians, and Brazilians, maybe)? Besides, he’s in his late 70s—which means he’s wise—and he’s a writer/novelist and a sometime actor—which means he’s in touch with his feelings. Don’t all those add to Monsieur Badiou’s credibility as an authority on love?

In any case, I had to read this profound little book, dense with meaning and implications in its 90 pages. The title was borrowed from a movie released in 2001 by famous French director Jean-Luc Godard in which Badiou did a turn that might have been cut out of the final film. I have read the book twice, but still have not fully grasped all that it’s trying to say. Maybe, the vagaries of love are too complex to contain in any one book. It was also originally in French (Éloge de l’amour, published in 2009 by Flammarion, in hardcover) so something might have been added, lost, or reimagined in the English translation (2012). Or, maybe, it’s just the way of the philosopher to sound deep and abstruse.

But I am with Monsieur Badiou. I believe in love and agree with his thinking on it. Love is at the heart of the books I write—as one of the themes and as a necessity for the work that goes into creating books.

We are all, in our idiosyncratic ways, preoccupied with love issues—either as firm believers or as skeptics for whom love is, at best, an illusion that doesn’t last. Or, worst, as atheists for whom love is merely a veneer for sexual desire and who, therefore, Read more »

Why I chose Books Over A Boyfriend by Lauren Clark

September 22, 2014

Our guest blogger is Lauren Clark author of several books including Pie Girls (4.9 stars, 24 reviews).

Why I chose Books Over A Boyfriend

A few weeks ago, my boyfriend and I were having an animated discussion about free time. During our talk, I made this sweeping statement:  “If I had an extra hour every day, I’d spend it reading books.”

No brainer, right?

I added that I’ll read any genre—literary, dystopian, humor, romance, suspense, and thrillers. I’ll read on my iPhone, my iPad, my Kindle, hardcover, or paperback. I listen to audiobooks, too, and have been known to sit in the carpool line or my own driveway in order to finish the next chapter of a gripping novel. And when I’m not reading books, I’m thinking about writing, storyline, plot, and characters.

All of this was met by…a blank stare.

Now, let me clarify. My (ex) boyfriend is super smart. An engineer. Can multiply a quadrillion numbers in his head and divide by the square root of Pi. (What?) Can fix broken electrical stuff. Occasionally cooks me spaghetti. Yep. He’s a good guy.

But when it comes to books, there’s no real connection for him. No excitement about reading the first chapter of a long-awaited sequel. No late night, stay-up-until-you’ve-finished-the-best-novel-in-the-world moments. No imaginary cartwheels when a favorite author releases a new book.

And definitely no understanding of falling into total-groupie mode when meeting Fannie Flag, Joshilyn Jackson, Chris Bohjalian, and Bella Andre in person. (All awesome, BTW!)

So, fellow book lovers, for a girl with little free time on her hands, it came down to this.

My books. Or my boyfriend.

And…you guessed it. I’m spending my extra time with Jennifer Weiner, Sophie Kinsella, Emily Giffin, Mary Kay Andrews, and the dozens of other authors I adore.

Besides, who says that book-loving boyfriend isn’t around the next corner?

What do you think? Deal breaker or not?

How To Get Your Workout And Reading In At The Same Time

September 16, 2014

Our guest blogger is Deirdra Eden author of Knight of Light (The Watchers Book 1).

How To Get Your Workout And Reading In At The Same Time

 Leg Lifts
Crunches. Or get in this position and hold.
One handed push-ups

Read more »

Please Save the Puppies

September 15, 2014

Save The PuppiesOur guest blogger is Suzanne Vince author of The Many Lives of June Crandall.

Please Save the Puppies

A few years ago, in order to quell the tedium of my 110-mile round-trip commute, I began listening to audio books. It quickly became an addiction. Though I write romance books, my supplier prefers murder mysteries, so that’s what I listened to. And hey, as expensive as audio books are, who am I to argue.

But then I listened to a book where the antagonist (bad guy) beat a poor, defenseless puppy to death. I stopped listening to the book immediately and got my own subscription to so I could listen to my own kind of books. Ones that do not involve the savage murder of innocent animals. I mean, seriously, who would want to listen to listen to such a book? More, what kind of person actually writes that kind of book?

And so I began listening to women’s fiction and romance novels, and listening to books on tape became safe again.

But recently, my friend and author Jansen Schmidt posted a blog entitled,Sometimes You Just Have to Kill ‘Em. In the post, Jansen talks about how upset her husband was when one of his favorite characters in a book he was reading was killed off. She argues that sometimes it’s necessary to kill off a character (for various reasons), and asks if any of us (writers) have ever killed off a character.

My reply? No, none of my characters have ever ticked me off enough. Read more »

Writing is an Endurance Sport

September 9, 2014

LV Marathon LegsOur guest blogger is Suzanne Vince author of The Many Lives of June Crandall.

Writing is an Endurance Sport

I started running in 2001. The first time I ran, I huffed and puffed my way to the corner and back and wondered what in the heck I was thinking. The next day wasn’t much better. But then, Rome wasn’t built in a day. And I was not a quitter (except when I tried to golf).

In 2003, I ran my first marathon. In the two years since I’d begun running, I’d logged over a thousand miles, gone through a dozen pairs of running shoes, incurred at least seven of the ten top running-related injuries, and experimented with every imaginable form of nutrition.

I read every magazine made for runners and triathlete’s, and scoured Mental Training for Peak Performance for tips on how to avoid hitting The Wall (also known as the 20-mile marker).

I was as prepared for Race Day as one can be.

Or rather, I should say that I was prepared in all the ways a runner could be prepared. And then, everything that could go wrong, did:

Two days before my husband and I were scheduled to leave for Las Vegas, my father had a heart attack. He’d been battling esophageal cancer for a year at that point, and the doctors said he wouldn’t last the day. My father did make it through the day, and the next, and he encouraged me to do the marathon.

Three days before the marathon, I came down with a bad head cold and a nasty cough. I bought some Dayquil and sucked it up.

The night before the marathon we watched the weather report for the Big Day. Forecast called for 35mph sustained winds with gusts up to 50 mph. Read more »

Are We Honest or Overboard About Obscenities?

September 8, 2014

Our guest blogger is Bonnie McCune author of several books including Falling Like a Rock (4.9 stars, 12 reviews).

Are We Honest or Overboard About Obscenities?

While watching a 50′s Western on television, I chuckled to be reminded of the extremes the media used to reach to avoid censorship or offending their audiences. One character, a rancher, was married to a Native American woman; and two of the townsmen launched a sexist tirade to get his goat, stating, “We’ve heard she’s some pumpkin.” To update the scene, replace “pumpkin” with the profanity of your choice.

At the same time, I was rereading a science fiction classic, The Stars My Destination,” by Alfred Bester. (The teleporting hero seeks revenge for his abandonment on a wrecked space ship and causes havoc all about him.) Published originally in 1956, the version I perused made special note twice of the lack of complete rape and sex scenes, claiming that had the author been writing more recently, he wouldn’t have been stifled and we could have been treated to vivid renderings.

I was thankful I’m not limited in my writing the way people were sixty years ago. I have more freedom, I thought. But then I wondered why that was my reaction. I didn’t miss the violence and sex in the book; the plot certainly raced Read more »

The Thoughtfulness of Fiction

September 2, 2014

Our guest blogger is Bonnie McCune author of several books including Falling Like a Rock (4.9 stars, 12 reviews).

The Thoughtfulness of Fiction and How It Impacts Our Mental Acuity as Well as Ideas, Beliefs, Perceptions, Even Behavior

Have you ever read a novel and felt as if you’ve left your surroundings for a new world? This is one of the ways I use to decide if a book’s made a major impact on me. The process by which this happens isn’t simple, not a matter of exciting action or steamy love scenes. A combination of writing style and language, plot, compelling characters, and an unfathomable mixture of interesting ideas old and new are some of the qualities that go into what’s called “willing suspension of disbelief.” In essence, although I know what I’m reading is imaginary, I react as though it’s real. And it changes me in ways I haven’t measured, provides knowledge, even, dare I claim?, wisdom.

Some of the books that have done that for me are Pride and Prejudice, A Tale of Two Cities, Hunger Games, Main Street, Caramelo, Doomsday Book, Revolutionary Road, and The Things They Carried. These probably aren’t your choices, but you might have your own favorites.

Or you might not read fiction. I know people who refuse to on the grounds that it’s not real, not for serious-minded people, it’s fluff. Stop and think a minute though: fiction is more truthful than nonfiction because it allows us entry into other people’s minds and emotions. It presents thoughts in action and practice. It’s the closest thing we have to eternal life since every eon, each individual can be represented.

As usual with slap-your-face obvious information, this perspective, known for centuries to readers and writers, now is being substantiated through various studies. Yes, reading fiction stimulates and strengthens certain areas in your Read more »



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