Thursday, September 30, 2010

Banned Book Week

I read tons when I was in elementary school. I loved biographies. I loved learning about Helen Keller and the Wright Brothers. I read fiction but most of it was Judy Blume who made me uncomfortable. Ironically, one of her books taught me to think for myself.

When I was in high school I couldn't figure out why anyone parent would come in to the principal and ask to have a book removed from the library. I was pretty sure there were no "bad" books in my school. then again, I wasn't big into books. I read what was forced and to this day can't stomach ANIMAL FARM, UNCLE TOM'S CABIN, LORD OF THE FLIES, THE GREAT GATSBY and MOBY DICK.

After one year of college I went with friends to Asia to teach English and make scads of money (I came back with one nickel). It was on a tiny island that I started reading again for enjoyment. The first book I bought was JANE EYRE. I love that book. I read TALE OF TWO CITIES and GONE WITH THE WIND next. Loved those books.

I got married, had children, read to them and now they read books. We love to read A LIGHT IN THE ATTIC and other silly books by Shel Silverstein.

Now I know why concerned parents ask books to be removed. I don't agree with removing books, but I understand better now.
My daughter wasn't much of a reader. She couldn't find anything that interested her and she didn't want to waste time reading something she wasn't going to like. Along came TWILIGHT. She devoured that book! Read it in two days. She read the whole series at age 12. I asked her to wait. She wanted to read what her friends were gaga over. So she read and we talked about it.

My son has a totally different dilemma. He loves to read but has a hard time finding books for boys. He read all the HARRY POTTER books. I'm always on the look out for great boy books. (Have any suggestions? Email me or leave them in the comments! THANKS)

Now that I write, I read. And read. And read. I consider reading part of my job as a writer (best. job. ever.).
I have returned books to the library and told them the YA rating should be adult.
I have shut books after a few chapters because the content offended me.
I have asked my children not to read certain books that were for more mature readers.
I will stand by my child if they think a book on the reading list is not one she wants to read for content.

I will not ban a book. 
All the books highlighted in this color have been banned for various and sometimes silly reasons. Check out American Library Association for more surprises on which books have been banned.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

WINNERS of Fall Giveaway

WOW! What a ride! Thanks to everyone who popped over here and participated and THANKS to all the new followers! I gained over 70 new friends this week! I tried to return the favor by following all of you.

Onto the winners:

DANYA (who is a chocoholic)


CAROL M (who has mittens)

Congrats to the winners!

There will be another contest next month and one over Thanksgiving so check back. Or just come and hang out anytime. I love havin' ya!

Monday, September 27, 2010


This was not the post I had scheduled for today. The post I had was brilliant, brilliant I tell ya. (Not.)
I'm taking a page from Dasher's blog and making a list:

1. My jump drive with over 60 edited pages of my WIP got fried by my new laptop. I had no idea that could happen! So learn from my stupid mistake (AGAIN!) and back up your stuff!

2. I had a "leaking" filling (isn't that a funny adjective for a filling?) and now half of my nose and upper lip are numb. I'm also starving. Eating with a numb mouth is awkward. I'm waiting until the numbness wears off before I eat so I don't eat my cheek.

3. I. Love. Castle.

4. I have writers AND editors block; I don't want to do either.

5. I just finished LINGER. Not sure what I think about it. I'll put up my review on my Book Addict blog in the next few days.

6. I'm going on tour! Walking tour, that is. With second graders. To see the working life of my great town. Should be fun trying to keep 28 kids on the sidewalk and off the street. Wish me luck!

7. My nose and lip are tingling. I hope to eat soon.

Stop by Wednesday to see who won the Fall Giveaway!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Writing Characters & Foto Friday

I'm on Elana Johnson's blog hop today.

I've pictured a house just like this in so many books I've read.
Does this house remind you of a book you've read?

I think an interesting story is when one of the characters is an inanimate object, like, say, a house.  To pull off that creativity, as with any character, the author has to write a strong voice. There aren't pictures in most of the books I read (except Calvin & Hobbes), so the voice is what sets the characters apart the most. Sometimes, without even seeing the name, I "hear" the character by the way they are talking or the slang they use, even if it's a house speaking.

What voice would you give this house?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Paul Stephens has it all--a wonderful job at the FBI, a new girlfriend, and a great apartment. Even when Jimmy, a friend from his past, unexpectedly ends up on his couch, Paul has no worries. But when arresting a corrupt judge puts his girlfriend's life in danger, Paul and Jimmy will do anything to save her. How far will Paul go to protect the ones he love? Filled with suspense and action, Defensive Tactics shows just how much the bonds of friendship can endure.

I was totally engaged in the book from the beginning.
I liked Emily, who was cute, smart and unsure of herself in her private life but not in her professional life. There are a few men who find themselves wanting more than a friendship. One in particular is scummy and I wanted to slap his egotistical face a few times throughout the book. But the other men who worked with Emily protected her from him. And you just know that one of them has to be on the wrong side, right? 

Emily has to help bring down an untouchable judge who is smart and has protected himself from those who can bring him down. But can a person ever be safe from the same kind of actions that made them king of the mountain without making someone mad?

The book was well written and plenty intriguing to keep me reading. I told my dad I would send it to him to read because I think he would really enjoy this book. 

The only, small detail that took me out of the story was a bit of head hopping at the very end. But not noticeable. Sometimes words or sentences were repeated within the same paragraphs but again, not bad. 
The story is quick paced and exciting with a few twists. The characters are well crafted as is the storyline. Keep up the good work, Steve!

Rating: PG
V: Tiny bit. It is a thriller with bad guys
S: No
L: No

Want to buy it?
Here's the Amazon link.

Page 69 test:
"Emily's head snapped up. The perpetual dabbing motion with the napkin stopped. How did he know my name? she wondered. She sat in silence, her moth open slightly, looking to the assistant manager and then at the Judge.
"Thank you, Marcus. I will let you know if we need anything further." Judge Craven stared coldly at Emily while Marcus walked away. Emily sat in stunned silence, her mind racing, evaluating the gravity of her situation. She opened her mouth as if preparing to speak but nothing came out.
"Emily, you are exquisite. Since we will be working closely together, your loveliness will be a much appreciated perk." Judge Craven's glare intensified. "But I am disappointed. You have not been honest with me, have you? Maybe now we can speak candidly."
Emily's heart races as she watched the Judge with dumbfounded alarm.
Judge Craven smiled broadly. "Keep smiling," he reminded Emily. "Your associates many not be able to hear, but they can still see us. Believe me, you do not want them to be suspicious. If you do your part, they will remain sage in the can down the street and in the car at the rear of the building. Please, act like everything is going according to your original plan."
Emily's eyes narrowed. Was she feeling fear or merely contempt? The plastered smile on her face was not persuasive, but the Judge seemed to appreciate the effort.
"Listen closely, and I will explain how this will work. all you need to do is listen and look like you are having a pleasant conversation. Surly you can accomplish this simple feat."
Emily nodded. "What do you want from me? You must know I won't help you, whatever it is."
"You  do not listen well, do you? This deficit must be a real challenge for you at the FBI. For your sake, I hope your skill improves dramatically. Now be quiet," he said firmly. "When you leave here, you will report to your friends that you were able to make a real connection with me despite the unfortunate accident with your transmitter. You will tell them we have another casual date here, Tuesday evening. I wold have liked t meet again sooner, but unfortunately your team acted more quickly than I expected, and I have a meeting I must attend tomorrow."

I received this book for free but it no way affected my review.

Welcome The Fall Giveaway!

I love fall! I love the colors, smells, sweaters and hot cocoa.
And in my happiness I want to giveaway a few books.
I decided to try a blog hop with Good Choice Reading.
I have three (gently read once) books I want to pass along which means I'll have three winners! The first winner gets their first pick, etc.

These are the books:
 SIGNED The Unwritten Rule 
Girl likes boy; boy likes girl but is boyfriend to said girls BFF.

Love Your Body
Great book with positive body image motivators, stories and tools.
Queen in Exile
 A princess, a handsome knight and magic.

Leave a comment on which book you'd like to win. 
Make sure I have your email so I can notify you if you win.

That's it! Easy!
I'll pick a winner on the 29th.

There are over 50 blogs participating in this blog hop. Check out their giveaways too!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Making Friends Monday

 Tristi is an amazing asset to the writing community. She teaches, shares and pays it forward. She is such a positive influence to those around her. I'm grateful to know her.

Now you get to know a little about her too:

Tristi Pinkston has been blogging since 2006. 
On her main blog, she covers everything from writing tips and the life of a published author to kid funnies, spiritual thoughts, and embarrassing moments. 
She also has a weight loss blog, one for writing challenges, another for her fictional characters … and she lost count of how many others she has.  You can find the links for them on her sidebar.

Tristi is the author of five published novels and a whole kit ‘n caboodle of unpublished novels.  Right now she’s focusing on cozy mysteries, although she has written historical fiction in the past and plans to write more in that genre. 
She works as a freelance editor and a virtual book tour coordinator. 
She loves taking long naps, being charmingly annoying, and watching good movies. 
She’s a Mormon, a homeschooler, a Cubmaster, and most of the time, a headless chicken.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Writing Quote

I really like this quote by Elizabeth Gilbert who wrote EAT PRAY LOVE. I lifted the quote right off Valerie Ipson's post from today (I like her t-shirt. I think a certain writing group should make and sell them)(just sayin').

"One day, when I was agonizing over how utterly bad my writing felt, I realized: "That's actually not my problem." The point I realized was this-I never promised the universe that I would write brilliantly; I only promised the universe that I would write. So I put my head down and sweated through it, as per my vows."

Scripture Heart

Monday, September 13, 2010

Thursday, September 9, 2010

I Am Not Going To Educate Myself No More

Here's the deal.
I LOVE to read posts/stories/anything that makes me a better writer.
Thanks to Valerie's post here, I found myself looking at another way to see my story. Then I went followed a link from Valerie's post to Alexandra Sokoloff's blog.
People, if you haven't seen this blog, you must get over there! She has so many amazing posts like: Story Structure, Elements of Act I, Visual Storytelling and so much more.

Story Elements Checklist is the one I want to talk about right now. Because it is the one that pushed me over the edge. The one that made me bang my head on my (closed) laptop.
The one that might just make my story better!
And it did!
But the problem is I'm getting ready to query this story.
Which means I'm done.
(I am finishing up editing. But I figure by the time I get my query good enough to send out then start getting the rejections fights over my book, the editing will be finished.)
But the stupid Story Elements Checklist made me see my characters need more depth. Which means I need to add a few more details, or layer more, in each chapter.
And a few scenes need changed around.
But I'm finished.
I started on the next story.
And I'm outlining one I want to do in November with NaNoWriMo.
Then I have three more stories to go through my critique group.
And the first five books from an author aren't as good as the sixth, right?
Fine. I'll rework this book and make it even more betterer.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Contests Around the Web

Wordbird is having a Megalodon Giveaway. She's giving away quite a few YA books. One that I want to read is IRON DAUGHTER.

Reading Teen is giving away a YA book a lucky winner can choose like, HALO, MOCKINGBIRDS, DUFF, and more.

And still more YA books! Carol's Prints is also giving away ARCS. You have to see it to believe it. Head on over.

Another HUGE YA book giveaway is being held @ In Which A Girl Reads. Check it out! By the time you enter all these awesome contests AND win, you'll be set up with new YA books to keep you busy all winter!

Fire and Ice is celebrating 600 followers with a give away of YA books so stop over here.

Starting next week, My Silly Monkeys is hosting Smart Chicks Kick It tour and giveaway with more YA books! Check it out here.

Did you think I was done with YA? OH NO! Babbling Flow is finishing up her contest for ARCs. Hope over there and see what's up for grabs.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Dragons & Have A Great Writing Weekend!

If you are writing a book starring dragons or really like dragons or just want to see some great illustrations, head over to 50 legendary Dragon Illustrations.

I put a few of the illustrations here to give you a taste of what you'll find.

Love this Picture! Have a Great Weekend

She walked through the city, coat hanging off her shoulders, unaware of the bite of cold or life streaming around her. Pain was her companion.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

My Query Critique

Dear Ms. Messenger,

18 year-old Mandy McAllister can’t wait to shake the sagebrush dust off her clothes and leave Holding behind when she goes to college. (Okay, this sentence is a bit too long and doesn’t feel like much of a hook. The one thing CJ drilled into me during her query workshop is that your hook should be one sentence that tells the agent the most special part about YOUR book. So saying Mandy can’t wait to get out of her town to go to college isn’t really setting your book apart. There’s hundreds of books where the main character can’t wait to escape her small town. What makes yours different? That’s your hook. It will be the hardest sentence you ever write, but you’ll be so glad when you’re done. And as an example—and I HATE using myself as an example, so I apologize--my original hook, which wasn’t actually a hook, was: Sophie Foster knew she didn’t belong. But a million kids don’t belong. I had to dig deeper. After hours of tweaking and brainstiroming, I finally came up with Sophie Foster doesn’t know she’s not human. THAT’S a hook. It instantly tells them something special about my book: my character isn’t human—and doesn’t know it. And it gets them curious. Well…what is she? And how does she not know? I always get compliments on that hook, and it was not easy to write. But I’m glad I pushed myself to get it.) She has one last English paper to finish before she graduates from high school and it involves researching and interviewing subjects better left silent. Unknown to her, (saying stuff like ‘unknown to her’ just SCREAMS backstory. You want to avoid giving backstory as much as possible in a query. They want to know your plot. If she doesn’t find that out till later, reveal it to us when she learns it. the English teacher has given out the same topic for years and no student has completed the paper. No one finishes because no one wants to be the cause of another boy disappearing in the mines.

But none of this is her problem until her perfect boyfriend, Jake, disappears, which seems to be in direct correlation with the progress of her English paper. As she continues with her research she learns a truth she isn’t ready to face: her mother, Kyrene, is an alien leader. (Okay…whoa. THIS is where your hook should come from. This is where your query should start. It definitely sets your story apart, and I think it will help you avoid the cheese factor. Throwing the word ‘alien’ out there when everything has been normal and non sci-fi feeling can feel like jigga-what???? She’s an ALIEN? But if you start there, it won’t feel like an out of the blue curve. It’ll feel like, okay, cool, so this is a sci fi. Awesome. Now I know what to expect from the plot. She is the one who has been kidnapping all the boys in a desperate attempt to repopulate her planet. (Why only the boys? And how does she get them back to her planet? Where is she storing them in the meantime. These are the kind of questions you need to explain, so that the agent understands your plot.) As Mandy searches the mines for Jake, (how does she get to the mines? Does she have to sneak in? What dangers does she encounter along the way?) she becomes her mother’s next abduction victim. (How? And wait…if her mom’s an alien, isn’t she one too? Why would her mom need to abduct her then? Why wouldn’t her mom just be planning on taking her daughter back with her when the time comes? Or is this a body snatching kind of thing…

A sci/fi for young adults, STANDING ASLEEP is complete at 40,000. If you would like to consider this story, I would be happy to forward the complete manuscript. (This feels a little clunky. I went with something like STANDING ASLEEP is a YA Sci/Fi complete at 40,000 words. Then I followed with a sentence about myself and a sentence about why I was querying that agent specifically. Usually they also want you to paste in some pages, so my last sentence was always: Pasted below are the first (3? 5? 10?) pages. I look forward to hearing from you)

Thank you for you time.

Taffy Lovell

My email is (delete)

I also blog at (delete) and (delete, move line down)

A few of my favorite things I'm doing

I'm reading: Fiction: The Light After the War by Anita Abriel  It is 1946 when Vera Frankel and her best friend Edith Ban ...