Thursday, February 24, 2011

Ignoring that stuff to the right...

Going to bed early seems to be conducive to my creative writing brain. This morning I was able to actually get a couple of paragraphs written. Here's a quickie excerpt in all of its first draft roughness:

Going down the short flight of steps that led to the VIP lounge was like traveling down Alice’s rabbit hole. As soon as my feet touched the first step, the world upended itself. My stomach plummeted with that same shivery twinge you get as a kid on the swing set when you’re going too fast and my vision narrowed to a tunnel. A half second later the world snapped back into place. I grabbed the hand rail and took a couple deep breaths, steadying myself.
Gone was the short flight of steps with the roped off entry. I couldn’t see the bouncer any more. Instead, I found myself standing on a long flight of rough stone stairs with inky blackness at my back. Every twenty feet or so torches burned, giving off acrid smoke. Dank smelling water glistened on the walls and the ceiling arched above me like an ancient Roman tomb. With a shiver, I started down.
 I have a list of several agent and writing blogs over in my blog sidebar that I follow, which is just a tip of the iceberg. I follow various blogs via email as well. However, lately I find my heart hasn't been in it. By that I mean, I find it both defeatist and depressing to read all the publishing industry blogs about agents and what to do, etc. Not only does it take my time away from writing, I'm so far from the querying stage on my novel that it only leads to thoughts of failure and second guessing myself. I read writing advice, and then apply it to my fledgling manuscript which shouldn't be judged and critiqued yet, just allowed to vomit itself out of my brain in all it's hideous stinky glory. So I'm trying to ignore the business side of writing until I have something to send out.

I was going to go forth this evening and try to hurl up a few hundred more words, but another winter storm is due to hit tonight and I really don't want to be out driving in it. So at home I'll stay. Can I just say for the millionth time that I am definitely OVER winter?

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Couple of Cozy Mystery Reviews

A street in Old Town Scottsdale, Arizona, USAA Street in Old Town Scottsdale, Arizona - Image via WikipediaJust a quickie update, and a couple book reviews for ya.

While I haven't been working on my novel due to lack of time and winter blahs, I have been reading and I started a new picture book, so there has been some wordy creativity over here.

I've been reading Cozy mysteries lately. Very quick, light reads, with a nice happy ending. They've perfectly suited my mood. Here's what I've recently read, with a mini-review about each one. As always, please take my reviews of cozies with a grain of salt. You might have a different reading experience than I do.

(Disclosure, the Amazon links below are affiliate ones, so if you purchase something through Amazon via these links, I would get a small commission.)

Fatal Flip by Peg Marberg

Strengths - The little town in Indiana which this story was set was well conceived, and I really enjoyed the relationship that the main character had with her husband and pet. For the most part her characters were very well drawn. I liked how plucky the main character was, and her bad smoking habit, and the way she had to sneak her sleuthing so that her husband and cop son-in-law didn't find out about it.

Weaknesses - As usual with these cozies, I really disliked how the main character, an ameteur sleuth, questioned her subjects. Basically like she was a cop, or a card carrying PI. Real people wouldn't talk like this in my opinion, but I'm beginning to suspect it is a trope of the genre. Also, this wasn't a first book in the series, so the character's sluething habit was already well established, and probably so was her interrogation methods.

Sprinkle With Murder by Jenn McKinlay

I thought this book was terrific. The first in a series, this book centered around two friends who owned a cupcake store in Scottsdale, AZ. When their best friend Tate's fiancee is murdered, Melanie, the main character becomes a prime subject.

Again, I didn't totally buy the amateur sleuthing (too many references to terms only cops would use, not cupcake bakery owners) but the childhood friendship between the characters, the easy-to-hate personality of the victim, plus the interesting secondary characters kept this a nice fun read. I definitely recommend this one if you like cozies. I might even try the sequel, Buttercream Bump Off (Cupcake Bakery Mystery).

Lastly, since I lived in Mesa, Arizona, I really enjoyed the setting of Old Town Scottsdale and the references to places I've actually been, such as the Arizona pizza chain, Oregano's. YUM. I do miss their food! Especially their Roasted Garlic Chicken Lasagna. Totally recommend it if you're out that way.

There was a third cozy that I recently tried, but I hated it so much I couldn't finish it, and I think I've blocked the title from my memory. If I can remember it, I might talk about it later. In the meantime, I've got a library bag full of books I need to get to, including a couple YA's and a memoir that our county library is recommending as their spring read. Hopefully I can get to all of them before they're due. I've already renewed them once.
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Friday, February 4, 2011

Trying to figure it all out

This winter has been harsh. Lake effect snow storms, followed by blizzards and arctic temps that have left 2 feet of snow on my lawn and counting. I've definitely got the winter blahs, and it's affected my writing, as in, I haven't done any.

But it's not just the weather. I've been blocked, with this giant, messy, wreck of a plot confounding me. It's too big, I can't do it, I don't know how, all these things kept swirling around in my brain. But this morning I think I had an epiphany, and I realize that this minor subplot character that had come out of nowhere as a rival to my main character should actually be the Big Bad.

And of course, the scene that I'm stalled on is the one where I introduce this minor-now-big-bad-character. I knew he needed a bigger role subconsciously, and I couldn't move forward until I figured out what his deal was.

You know, the title of my mss should have clued me in to what the real drama was in this story. This whole time what I thought was my main plot, wasn't. Well, okay, it is the driving force of the book, but the real stuff is between this rival and my MC, and the choice she has to make......I think...

See? I'm still a bit muddied, but oh, heck. I'll figure it out. But I think I'm moving in the right direction.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

New Year: Reading instead of Writing

The Lost HeroImage via WikipediaHave I really not blogged about my writing since before Christmas? Sadly, I have not, which really shouldn't be a surprise, because I haven't really worked on my writing since before Christmas. Bad Karyn!

Instead, I've been reading and dealing with various colds in the house (my own included), and working on art. My writing group meets this week so I hope I'll be energized by the other writers' offerings, and get back in the writing swing.

I have been reading more lately, and as a result, I'm trying to be better about updating my Goodreads account.

I hate to be critical to any author, but this was my biggest disappointment out of all the books I read in 2010:

Fatally Frosted (Donut Shop Mystery #2)Fatally Frosted by Jessica Beck

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I was looking for a quick, cozy mystery and loved the premise of this book, so I snagged it at the library.

But everything disappointed me in this book, from the way the main character unrealistically jumped to the conclusion of murder before anyone had even examined the body, to the way she interviewed and annoyed all her neighbors in her small town.

There was no tension, just a huge snooze.

However -- this writer showed competence in her writing and in the way she thought up her characters, and I wonder if I would have enjoyed this book more had I started with the first of the series. Perhaps it just wasn't to my personal taste.

View all my reviews

This writer has several positive reviews, however, so please read all reviews before you take mine as the final word.

In other reading news, yesterday at the library I checked out A Sick Day for Amos McGee, which Erin is the 2011 Caldecott Medal winner, and I'm interested to read it, since I've heard nothing about it previously. Also, this week I finished Rick Riordan's latest books, The Lost Hero and The Kane Chronicles, Book 1, and as usual, he knocked them out of the park. LOVE HIS BOOKS. LOVE.

Lastly, I quite enjoyed two new urban fantasies: Deadtown and Hellforged by Nancy Holzner. They're books 1 and 2 of a series, and I quite enjoyed them. Tough heroine, interesting world building, and the second book was better than the first. Demons, zombies, Welsh mythology and shape changers. How can you go wrong?

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

December Snows

Well, we're now almost midway through December. Nano has come and gone, and I didn't make my goal, which means I lost my Nano wager and I'll be doing some art for a writing buddy.

But I'm happy that I tried. November was one of my most productive months yet, and I'm now midway through chapter three of my current paranormal fantasy. I haven't done much writing since November wrapped up. But I'm reading, and plotting my book.

As I sit here, fat snowflakes continue to fall outside, and after lunch my son and I will bundle up and shovel another three inches of snow (rather, I'll shovel, and he'll pelt me with snowballs). This holiday season is definitely feeling very Christmas-y, with the daily Lake effect snow we've for several days now.

Things are slow with my writing groups as well as we all try to juggle work, family, holidays and writing, which ends up being a good thing, since the snow has firmly put me in hibernation mode.