Monday, October 21, 2013

Apologies

Due to an unexpected development, I won't be posting at all this week. Sorry for the short notice.  I'll be back with a new post on Monday, 10/28/13.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

What I'm Reading Wednesday

Welcome to newly revamped "What I'm Reading Wednesday" post and the first review of what I hope will be many posted here on Wednesdays.

The Last Kiss Goodbye by Karen Robards  (2nd in the Charlotte Stone series)


Blurb: Dr. Charlotte “Charlie” Stone has dedicated her career as a psychiatrist to exploring the darkest territory of all: the hearts and minds of serial killers. It’s a job she’s uniquely suited for, thanks to the secret talent that gives her an uncanny edge—Charlie can see dead people, whose tormented spirits cry out to her for the justice only she can provide. This blessing—or curse—gives Charlie the power to hunt down and catch madmen and murderers. It’s also turned her love life upside down by drawing her into a hopelessly passionate relationship with the lingering ghost of charismatic bad boy Michael Garland.

But there’s little time for romance with her supernatural suitor when murder comes pounding at Charlie’s door in the form of a terrified young woman fleeing a homicidal maniac. Saving her life places Charlie squarely in the cross-hairs of a sadistic predator nicknamed “the Gingerbread Man,” notorious for manipulating his victims like pawns in a deadly chess game. And now the queen this psychopath’s bent on capturing is Charlie. Refusal to play will only put more innocent lives in danger. Matching wits with this cunningly twisted opponent will require all of Charlie’s training and expert skills. But even with her devilish “guardian angel”—not to mention her favorite flesh-and-blood Fed, Tony Bartoli—watching her beautiful back, the Gingerbread Man’s horrifying grin might be the last thing Charlie ever sees.

Review:  This is a great follow up to the first book in the series, The Last Victim. It actually takes place a few days after the end of The Last Victim.  From the very first page to the last, this book is a page turner. I stayed up too late because I couldn't put the book down and got up too early just so I could read it before I went to work.

I was captivated by the relationship between Charlie and Michael. They are perfect foils for each other. Michael keeps Charlie from burying herself in her work. Charlie brings out the best in Michael, though he resists when he realizes what she's doing. Michael may be a convicted serial killer, but things he says and does makes Charlie start to question the verdict that found him guilty. Michael has always maintained his innocence but the evidence was overwhelming, resulting in him being sent to jail.

I also enjoyed the budding relationship between Charlie and FBI agent, Tony Bartoli. Tony is a dedicated agent who cares a great deal for Charlie. Charlie feels Tony is someone she could love, if only Michael would stop interfering in her love life and telling her Tony isn't for her.

The serial killer storyline was fantastic, carefully plotted and very believable. I was sure I knew who the killer was and was completely surprised (not in a bad way) when the killer was revealed.

Rating:  5 Stars

Monday, October 14, 2013

Please Welcome My Guest...

Please welcome my guest, romance author Brenda Whiteside.

Thanks for having me on your Thought of the Day, Katherine. I’ve been asked where I got my idea for Amanda in the Summer. Sometimes, a story comes as a thought…

Three generations of women…and the secret that strengthens their love.

One summer day, a couple of years ago, I opened an envelope I’d received in the mail. Mail nowadays usually consists of advertisements, bills, credit card offers and coupons. How fun to receive something personal. This envelope contained a wedding invitation printed on 8 ½ by 11 inch stationery. The way it was folded crunched together words from different sentences and the phrase “Amanda in the Summer” jumped out at me. I had the title for a story.

Images came to mind of a young woman, sitting on a beach writing a letter to a dear friend. She was pregnant. Don’t ask me why. Sometimes those details are just there. Letters are a form of communication rarely used today. It seemed perfect to set my young woman in the 1940’s when the art of the handwritten letter still existed. Once she wrote that letter and spoke of her unborn child, the story took off. Amanda would give birth to Amanda who would give birth to yet another Amanda and the letters would tell their stories.

Normally, I hate research but for this story which spans fifty-seven years and three generations, I had a bit of fun with it. The first letter is written in 1947 and the last in 2004. My research covered a wide range of topics: astrology events, the G.I. Bill, when sunscreen was invented, the Beat Generation, Columbia University protests of 1968, 1960’s shopping and eating in New York to name a few. Getting the right tone to the letters and using the correct slang for the era was a challenge I enjoyed.

BlurbA line of women, all named Amanda, stretches back for generations. Each with her hopes, her joys, her pain—each pouring out her heart in correspondence with a dear family friend who shares their lives, understands their loves, and joins in their sorrows.

But within the correspondence lies a secret. And as the youngest of the Amandas retraces the journey through the years—beginning in post-war America and following through to modern day—the letters reveal, layer by layer, the Amandas who came before her. Soon, the truths and lies hidden in the letters lead her down a path of self-discovery that forges a bond between her past and future.

Excerpt:
August 24, 1968

Dear Tilly,

A few days of bliss with no one to talk to but the
seagulls. I have you to thank for this. I’m so glad you
popped back after Amanda, Robert, and Mother left. The
strain I put on all of us while you were here would’ve
dragged on for who knows how long if you hadn’t
returned. Once again, Tilly, you read the tea leaves and
righted things.

My moods have been so ragged of late. Jealousy of
all things. Jealous that you could talk to my daughter,
get along so lovely with her, which I’ve had difficulty
doing these last few months. Jealous of your longer
running friendship with Robert than with me. I’m not
sure if I was jealous of him or you. You’re both mine.
And angry that the two of you are uncomfortable around
each other after so many years and not making sense of
that. When Robert left, I tried to give him the blue
swimsuit you had left behind and asked him to drop in
on you to return it. He said no, I could do it when I got
back. This was so unlike him and did more to unsettle
me...

Amanda in the Summer is exclusively at Amazon until December.

Visit Brenda at www.brendawhiteside.com.
She blogs on the 9th and 24th of every month at http://rosesofprose.blogspot.com 
She blogs about prairie life and writing at http://brendawhiteside.blogspot.com/ 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Romance Lives Forever

Today I'm being interviewed on the Romance Lives Forever blog. I hope you'll stop by and perhaps learn something about me and/or my writing that you never knew before.  Link: http://romancelivesforever.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

What I'm Reading Wednesday

Starting next Wednesday, 10/16/13, I'm making a change to my "What I'm Reading Wednesday" posts. Instead of telling you what I'm reading currently and including the blurb and in most cases, the book cover, I'll be posting a review of the book I read in the previous week.

I'll be using the following rating system:
5 Stars -- Fantastic book. Definitely a keeper.
4 Stars -- Great book. A page turner.
3 Stars -- Good book. An enjoyable way to spend some time.

I will not be posting any reviews below a 3 star rating. The reason I decided to start posting reviews is to help spread the news about books worth reading, not to criticize an author's work. That being said, I will give the reason(s) why I gave a book a certain number of stars.

If for some reason, I'm unable to read an entire book in the previous week, I'll be posting some of my family's favorite recipes instead. I will also continue to host guests on Wednesdays as they occur.

I hope you like the new change.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Revise, Rewrite, Repeat

Barring any unexpected items that creep into my writing time, I should have the first draft of my current work in progress (WIP) finished by the end of this week. It's a long time coming. I've been working on this manuscript for approximately eight months, though not consistently which is why it's taken so long to complete.

Yet I know when I finally type "The End," it still isn't really completed. The revision/rewriting process begins. It usually takes me two, sometimes three, revisions/rewriting passes of the whole manuscript to get it ready for a beta reader to look at it. Then there is another round of edits cleaning up things the beta reader(s) remarked on.

Some people prefer the initial writing process over doing revisions, but I'm the opposite. An author is quoted as saying, "You can't revise a blank page." I'm paraphrasing here because I don't know the exact quote or the author. But in any case, I completely agree. It's easier to change what's already been written than it is to get the words down on paper in the first place.

Some of my favorite authors have said they write really crappy first drafts. It makes me wonder how much revision/rewriting they do once they finish that first draft because their books are so well written, so engrossing that I get lost in the story and usually hate to see it end. (Or we have vastly different definitions of what a crappy first draft is. :o) )

One thing is for certain, anyone who writes for publication whether it be a novel, short story, essay, poetry etc. knows that revision and rewriting is a huge part of the process. Some people look at as a necessary evil, something to be dreaded but done. I look at it as an opportunity to make a good story a great story. And when you finish a book I've written, I hope you'll think "great book" as you close the back cover.

Friday, October 4, 2013

This I know for sure...

"The antidote to a thousand enemies is one good friend." ~ Aristotle

I came across the above quote a few days ago and thought how true those words still are today. I know if I'm having a bad day, I have a friend who will let me vent, complain, or just whine about that bad day. She always listens. Sometimes she'll offer words of advice, but most of the time, she does what I need her to most. She commiserates with me. Of course, she's there in the good and fun times as well. 

Here's to good friends. I can't imagine my life without mine.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

What I'm Reading Wednesday

This week I'm reading Fifth Grave Past The Light by Darynda Jones. It's the fifth book in the Charley Davidson series. I enjoy this series and wish the books came out more than about one a year sometimes a little less.

Blurb:
Charley Davidson isn’t your everyday, run-of-the-mill grim reaper. She’s more of a paranormal private eye/grim reaper extraordinaire. However, she gets sidetracked when the sexy, sultry son of Satan, Reyes Farrow, moves in next door. To further complicate matters, Reyes is her main suspect in an arson case. Charley has vowed to stay away from him until she can find out the truth…but then dead women start appearing in her apartment, one after another, each lost, confused, and terrified beyond reason. When it becomes apparent that her own sister, Gemma, is the serial killer’s next target, Charley has no choice but to ask for Reyes’s help. Arsonist or not, he’s the one man alive who could protect Gemma no matter who or what comes at her. But he wants something in return. Charley. All of her, body and soul. And to keep her sister safe, it is a price she is willing to pay.