Wednesday, November 19, 2014 | By: Taffy

NaNoWriMo pep talk from Brandon Sanderson

I LOVED this writerly pep talk from Brandon Sanderson! I totally needed this today. Now go flame the spark...


Pep Talk from Brandon Sanderson (2014)

The toughest moment in my writing career came in 2002. I had just finished my 12th novel, but so far hadn’t been able to sell a single one of the things. Earlier that year, I had been rejected by all 13 MFA programs I’d submitted to.
I’ve had my fair share of ups and downs since—including books that topped the bestseller list and others that crashed and burned—but no moment in my life has been more poignant than sitting with the latest in what seemed like an endless stack of unsold novels, wondering what I was doing with my life.
What I didn’t know was that the process had already begun—the spark had dropped onto the grass, and a fire was smoldering that would change my life forever. A year earlier, in 2001, I’d submitted my sixth book to an editor. Eight months had passed with no communication, other than a short follow-up I’d sent about three months after the submission. (The editor replied that he’d gotten the manuscript, but said nothing else.)
That book, Elantris, was still sitting on the editor’s desk. He hadn’t looked at it. He wouldn’t until April 2003, after which he’d call me in a frenzy after reading all night, demanding to know if the manuscript was still available. He made an offer on the spot.
But in 2002, I sat there, contemplating my future with despair, completely unaware that within months I’d have a major book deal. Ultimately, I shook off the discouragement and started work on my thirteenth novel. But I do sometimes wonder what my life would be like if I’d given up, moved on, then gotten that phone call eight months later with an offer from an editor.
You could be writing the book that changes your life. You could have already submitted it, or self-published it. The spark could be starting a fire for you as well. You don’t know, and you can’t know. That is the thrill of being an artist, of working for yourself, and of telling the stories you want to tell.
Don’t give up. Keep your eyes on the project you’re working on right now, and make it the best that it can be. More importantly, love that process. In the end, that’s what made me stand up and get back to work on book thirteen: the realization that I loved telling stories. No stack of unpublished novels, no matter how high, would change my enjoyment of this process—no more than a finished set of dives would make a scuba enthusiast feel discouraged about diving again.
Maybe that fire has been sparked for you, and you don’t know it. But even if it hasn’t been, you should write as if it has. Because this thing you’re doing isn’t about publication, bestseller lists, or reviews. It’s about you, your story, and the victory inherent in completion.
Wednesday, November 5, 2014 | By: Taffy

Christmas in Snow Valley REVIEW

I. Love. Christmas. All things Christmas make me happy. I love the food, smells and lights. And I love a good Christmas book. And when there is romance involved, my holiday happiness is complete. This fun, romantic box set is worth the read. Put on your slippers, grab a mug of cocoa and enjoy reading each story!
(At the end of the post, I've included an excerpt from one of my favorites.)




Christmas in Snow Valley
Christmas in Snow Valley is packed with six wonderful Christmas novellas sure to bring romance into your holiday season.
Snow Valley, Montana, is a small community with the tradition of doing Christmas big. Festivities begin with tree lighting in the town square the day after Thanksgiving and continue until the culminating romantic Christmas Ball. From the Polar Express to a Winter Carnival, there’s something for every wonder-filled  child—and every couple who’s in love—or about to be.

An Unexpected Kiss by Cindy Roland Anderson
Lucy Phillips doesn’t want to spend her Christmas vacation dodging her ex-boyfriend, so when he turns up at the airport to give her a ride home, Lucy panics and asks a complete stranger to kiss her. Although the kiss is incredible, Lucy never expects to see the guy again. Is it bad luck or destiny when Lucy comes down with a sore throat and the new doctor in Snow Valley is none other than the guy she kissed at the airport?

Feels Like Love by Jeanette Lewis
Christmas in Snow Valley is the perfect way for April Winston to introduce her city slicker fiancĂ©, Scott Mecham, to life on a farm. If only Wade Hadley, hometown boy and high school sweetheart, will cooperate! But Wade has no intention of letting April go without a fight. This Christmas, Wade is determined to overcome their painful past and show April that she already has what she’s been seeking all along.

Full Court Devotion by Cami Checketts
Kazlyn is too busy with her schooling and future plans to enjoy life, let alone fall in love with a man who has heartbreak written all over him. Tyrese Hamilton, a college basketball star and major heartthrob, is intrigued when Kazlyn doesn’t pursue him or even seem interested. Ty’s career is in jeopardy, and he needs a miracle and Kazlyn to save him.
The Christmas Eve Kiss by Taylor Hart
When Molly O’Hare gets a prediction that she will kiss her true love on Christmas Eve, she thinks it’s utterly ridiculous. But when she gets teamed up with Kevin Snow, aka her ex-boyfriend, to decorate a Christmas tree, things start to change. Too bad getting over the past is hard and seeing him kiss another girl is even harder. Now Molly is left with a choice—run away from home and heartbreak or let Christmas work out a miracle all of its own.

Risking it all for Love by Award-Winning author, Kimberley Montpetit
Succumbing to family pressure, Jessica Mason reluctantly comes home for Christmas. Ever since her high school boyfriend’s death from a car accident three years earlier, Jessica and religion have not been compatible. So, when she visits Michael’s grave, she’s surprised to meet the handsome James Douglas, Pastor John’s nephew, who’s studying for the ministry. James can not only dish back Jessica’s finely-tuned sarcasm but understands grief all too well, turning Jessica’s world upside down. Is she ready to take another risk on love?

Blue Christmas by Lucy McConnell:
As head of Snow Valley hospital’s fundraising effort, Paisley Hackett barely has time to organize the craft show, cookie decorating party, and the annual Christmas Ball. What she doesn’t have time for is falling in love with Clay Jett, the incredibly handsome bass player who sweeps into town. She’s been burned by a tourist romance before and, with everything going on, Paisley will have to work overtime to protect her heart from Clay and his swoon-worthy ballads.


An Unexpected Kiss by Cindy Roland Anderson
Unlocking her door, Lucy opened it and slid in behind the wheel. She closed the door, knowing Cole probably wondered what was wrong with her. Just as she started the car, a knock on the driver’s side window made her jump.
Cole stood there watching her, his face reflecting both a mixture of confusion and amusement. Lucy lowered the window, and he leaned down so they were eye level.
“Are you running away from me?”
Why did he have to be so direct?
“Yes.”
He grinned. “That’s the second time you’ve done this. I’m beginning to think you don’t like me.”
She snorted an unladylike laugh. “Right.”
“Don’t laugh. I’m getting a complex.”“
If it’s any consolation, it’s me not you.”
That earned her another perplexed look. “That’s a little clichĂ©. I’m sure you can do better than that.”
Yeah, she could, but she didn’t dare blurt out how much she liked kissing him, and admit that that was what scared her.
Inadvertently, her gaze dropped to his mouth. She noticed the faint shadow of dark whiskers along his jaw, and she suddenly wanted to kiss him again.
 “Aren’t you freezing?” she asked, hoping to distract him as much as herself.
“Yes.” He unexpectedly rounded the car, opened the door and took the passenger seat. “That’s better.” He held out his bare hands in front of the vent, which blew mildly warm air.
The scent of his cologne permeated the air, and having him so close started a slow burn inside Lucy’s belly. Who needed heating systems with this man around?
“What are you doing?”
“Trying to get warm.” He looked her way, that smile back on his face. “And trying to get a straight answer out of you about why you keep running away from me.”
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Is it about that kiss we just shared?” His blue eyes twinkled. “Or about the ones in the airport?”
Both. “I said I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Okay. What do you want to talk about?”
She laughed. “I never said I wanted to talk about anything.”
Cole studied her silently, like he was really trying to figure her out. Lucy felt the intensity of his gaze, and was unable to pull her eyes away. The interior of the car seemed to shrink, and the air pulsed with an electrical energy that prickled her skin with goose flesh.
As if a giant gravitational force was at work between them, she felt herself leaning toward him. Cole slanted closer until she felt his warm breath mingle with hers. She should move away, make some wisecrack…anything to stop this crazy attraction.
Instead, her eyes fluttered closed as their lips connected. Slowly, he moved his mouth against hers, and like a beautifully choreographed dance, she returned the kiss. Heat infused every part of her, leaving her limbs languid.
Her heart thumped wildly, and a sigh escaped as he deepened the kiss. Barley cognizant of her surroundings, Lucy was both relieved and frustrated when Cole ended the kiss and edged slightly back.
“Lucy, I’m coming to pick you up tomorrow.” His voice was rough with emotion, his eyes serious.

She swallowed, and knew it was pointless to argue. “Okay.”
Monday, November 3, 2014 | By: Taffy

Good Monday morning!

Good, morning! Where the week starts out fresh, you're not behind on your to-do list yet and pumpkin spice bagels are in the stores. :)  Hopefully, you find yourself writing today!

Today, I present 6 tips on writing from John Steinbeck.


  1. Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day, it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised.

  2. Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on. It also interferes with flow and rhythm which can only come from a kind of unconscious association with the material.

  3. Forget your generalized audience. In the first place, the nameless, faceless audience will scare you to death and in the second place, unlike the theater, it doesn’t exist. In writing, your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person—a real person you know, or an imagined person and write to that one.

  4. If a scene or a section gets the better of you and you still think you want it—bypass it and go on. When you have finished the whole you can come back to it and then you may find that the reason it gave trouble is because it didn’t belong there.

  5. Beware of a scene that becomes too dear to you, dearer than the rest. It will usually be found that it is out of drawing.

  6. If you are using dialogue—say it aloud as you write it. Only then will it have the sound of speech.
If there is a magic in story writing, and I am convinced there is, no one has ever been able to reduce it to a recipe that can be passed from one person to another. The formula seems to lie solely in the aching urge of the writer to convey something he feels important to the reader. If the writer has that urge, he may sometimes, but by no means always, find the way to do it. You must perceive the excellence that makes a good story good or the errors that make a bad story. For a bad story is only an ineffective story.”

Wednesday, October 22, 2014 | By: Taffy

AS YOU WISH: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Joe Cary Elwes and Joe Layden

From actor Cary Elwes, who played the iconic role of Westley in The Princess Bride, comes a first-person account and behind-the-scenes look at the making of the cult classic film filled with never-before-told stories, exclusive photographs, and interviews with costars Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, and Mandy Patinkin, as well as author and screenwriter William Goldman, producer Norman Lear, and director Rob Reiner.

The Princess Bride has been a family favorite for close to three decades. Ranked by the American Film Institute as one of the top 100 Greatest Love Stories and by the Writers Guild of America as one of the top 100 screenplays of all time, The Princess Bride will continue to resonate with audiences for years to come.

Cary Elwes was inspired to share his memories and give fans an unprecedented look into the creation of the film while participating in the twenty-fifth anniversary cast reunion. In As You Wish he has created an enchanting experience; in addition to never-before seen photos and interviews with his fellow cast mates, there are plenty of set secrets, backstage stories, and answers to lingering questions about off-screen romances that have plagued fans for years!

With a foreword by Rob Reiner and a limited edition original poster by acclaimed artist Shepard Fairey, As You Wish is a must-have for all fans of this beloved film.


Intriguing look into the making of The Princess Bride from inception to finish told by Cary Elwes, or Wesley, with memories from the actors sprinkled throughout the book as well as the director and author. I was fascinated with the stories and had a hard time putting the book down, though at times I rolled my eyes at the overly sweetness and goodness of Elwes view of each actor. But I understand that this was a big part of Elwes life, a jumping off point for his career and it will always have a special place in his heart. And really, the movie has a special place in many, many hearts. While reading this book, I wanted to watch the movie but I found I didn't own a copy! I aim to fix this oversight immediately!

Fans of The Princess Bride will enjoy the behind-the-scenes stories from the making of the iconic movie.

Thanks to netgalley for the chance to read it!

4 1/2 STARS


Monday, October 20, 2014 | By: Taffy

Good Monday Morning

I'm not sure why, but this advice hit home today.



Hilary Mantel, winner in 2012 for Bring Up the Bodies and in 2009 for Wolf Hall.











“Concentrate your narrative energy on the point of change. This is especially important for historical fiction. When your character is new to a place, or things alter around them, that’s the point to step back and fill in the details of their world. People don’t notice their everyday surroundings and daily routine, so when writers describe them it can sound as if they’re trying too hard to instruct the reader.”