04.30.09

Abiding Hope and Love Winner

Posted in Giveaway at 11:52 pm by Amber

I’m happy to announce the winner Connie Arnold’s poetry collection, Abiding Hope and Love, is Brenda LaVelle!!  I’ve emailed Brenda about where to send her autographed copy of Abiding Hope and Love.

If you didn’t win this giveaway, I’m sure Connie will be touring again for her poetry collection and you’ll get another chance.  You can keep up with Connie’s news on her web site – Inspirational Poetry of Connie Arnold.

If your taste leans towards fantasy, you may want to meet author Rhonda Parrish whom I interviewed earlier in the week.  She also wrote a guest blog post about secondary characters that is worth reading.

04.29.09

Secondary Characters = <3 - Guest Post by Rhonda Parrish

Posted in Event, Writing at 1:15 am by Amber

Have you ever fallen in love with a character in a story? How often is it a member of the supporting cast?

It happens to me all the time. When I read “Breathers” by S.G. Browne my favorite character wasn’t the main character Andy, but his best friend Jerry. In Neil Gaiman’s “The Graveyard Book” Silas was my favorite, and if I may pick another Gaiman title, in “Neverwhere” I thought the Marquis de Carabas was made of win.

Even with all that being true, I was still shocked when people fell in love with one of my secondary characters.

Shocked in a good way, of course.

“Sister Margaret” is narrated by Michael, a vampire hunter with a fair bit of baggage, especially about how he treated his friend Charmaine when they were kids. He’s a pretty interesting guy and I had a lot of fun writing from his point of view and giving him a voice.

I could never have guessed at the wonderful reception my story would have, reactions have been more positive than I ever could have anticipated. However, if I could have guessed and were asked to pick which character people would like best, I would have picked Michael. He’s a vampire hunter for goodness sake, that’s pretty cool. Plus, it’s his story.

I would have been wrong. Dead wrong.

Bayne is a swordsman with ghostly blue eyes, long bone-white hair, a giant sword and incredible combat skills. He’s pretty awesome, in my opinion, and in many others as well. Bayne’s job in the story is to help Michael by taking care of some vampire minions. He’s a supporting character. And he is also the one everyone asks for more of.

People love Bayne, there is no question.

I’m not sure why everyone adores him exactly, but he’s a pretty popular guy just the same.

I’ve been asked over and over to write more about Bayne, to give him his own story. I’ve written several in response, none of which are published yet…but soon, I hope. Soon.

For a chance to win a copy of “Sister Margaret” and check Bayne out for yourself, please leave a comment. I’ll be making a draw to give away a free copy. If you’re stuck for something to comment on, why not tell me who your favorite literary supporting character is?

Thank you so much for having me here Amber, it’s been a pleasure.

Rhonda Parrish

http://www.rhondaparrish.com

04.28.09

Sister Margaret by Rhonda Parrish

Posted in Review at 10:20 am by Amber

sistermargaret

Here’s a summary of “Sister Margaret”, a Coffee Break selection released by Eternal Press earlier this month.

Michael has always felt bad about the way he treated his friend Charmaine when they were younger, even going so far as to blame himself for her becoming a prostitute. Now she’s a priestess to Rakkir, the god of secrets and lies, and he is given a chance to make up for mistakes of the past when she calls him to deal with a problem for her. A vampire problem. But the more involved Michael gets, the more he realizes Charmaine may not be telling him the whole story… and she may have changed even more than he suspected.

It’s a succinct summary that pulls in the reader.  At just over 4200 words “Sister Margaret” is easy to read while on a break at work, set aside for a few days and then re-read it.  On an initial read the reader is left speechless by the ending.  With each successive reading, the reader picks up more details and sees how Rhonda Parrish has provided clues to the ending.  The truly amazing part is that even knowing how it ends, the tone of regret still comes through in Michael’s closing thoughts each time.

One thing I particularly enjoyed is the descriptive detail.  The story has a fantasy setting but the descriptions give enough detail that it seems familiar to the reader without being tiresome.  (In contrast, some fantasy stories I’ve read do such a poor job of describing the characters that it isn’t until nearly the end that I realize the figurative pig snout on a character is literal.)  One favorite line that jumps out at me is about Bayne – a memorable character who isn’t around the action for very long.  “He moved the sword as though it were an extension of himself, each movement calculated to destroy as many of his foes as possible.”  Doesn’t that sentence bring up the image of a trained athelete or warrior who is more than proficient in his field?  Reading it is nearly as breathtaking as it would be to see it on the silver screen.

The only thing lacking in “Sister Margaret” is that it’s not enough!  I know Rhonda has written more stories and a novel with some of these characters.  I’ve been purposefully staying away as a beta reader so I can be surprised like everyone else when they get published.  🙂

Hopefully I’ve peeked your interest in “Sister Margaret”.  It is available through Fictionwise and Rhonda is giving away a copy (or two) based on comments left here on her interview and her guest post.  Stop by tomorrow to read Rhonda’s guest post about secondary characters.

Meet Rhonda Parrish!

Posted in Event, Giveaway at 12:05 am by Amber

I’ve known Rhonda Parrish for several years and am always amazed by her latest accomplishments.   In addition to inspiring other writers through an online writing community, she edits Niteblade and somehow manages to find the time to write original material.  Her story, “Sister Margaret“, was recently published by Eternal Press.  In celebration of the occasion, Rhonda allowed me to interview her.  She’s got a little surprise for you at the end!

Amber: Congratulations on your recent Rhysling Award nomination.  You write in many formats and genres.  Is there a specific piece you’re most proud of?  Or one you have a funny story about?

Rhonda: I am very proud of “Lovers” which is my Rhysling nominated poem. It’s a haiku, which I think is one of those poem formats which is easy to learn and difficult to master. I’m a very long way from mastering anything, but I think I have a very solid poem in “Lovers”. That someone else felt that way too makes me exceptionally happy.

 
Lovers
By Rhonda Parrish

Where river meets bank
We linger, yet again, with
Your fin in my paw

Interestingly, I read “Lovers” at the World Fantasy Convention’s open mic poetry event and was quite surprised when people laughed. The story behind the piece in my mind wasn’t a funny one, it was a very sad one. I think that message got lost when I changed the title from “Cursed Lovers” to “Lovers”. That’s one of the reasons I adore that poem so much, it can be interpreted in many different ways.

I’m also incredibly pleased with “Sister Margaret”. It turned out exactly how I envisioned it and has been getting positive reviews, which makes me happy because I’m pretty much just an ego with legs 🙂

 

Amber: Do you have any writing rituals or superstitions?

Rhonda: I don’t. I kind of wish I did because that could make for more interesting writing sessions (and a better answer to your question). Really, I just sit down and write.

Maybe I should make up a ritual! 😉

 

Amber: Have you noticed an evolution or style change in your writing since you began writing fulltime?

Rhonda: Oh, absolutely. When I wrote my first novel for NaNoWriMo in 2005 I used then and than interchangeably, had no idea what active voice was and over used ellipses. Really, really overused them. And commas? Don’t even get me started on them.

I’ve come a long way since then, but I’ve still got loads of room for improvement.

I guess that sounds like the mechanics of my writing as opposed to style, but the two are related to one another. Without the ellipses, passive voice and misspellings my writing style is hugely different. The drawback of that, of course, is that sometimes when I go back and read things I wrote even a few months ago it can take a lot of willpower not to revise it. Again and again. LOL What stops me is knowing that if I kept doing that, I would never write anything new again LOL

 

Amber: “Sister Margaret” could have worked well in a contemporary setting.  Would you say Dungeons and Dragons has influenced your work in the fantasy genre?

Rhonda: Without question. The vampires in “Sister Margaret” are far more of the monster variety than the sexy or even the sparkly/sexy variety, and I think that’s a direct reflection of the roleplaying I used to do. In addition, one of the main characters, Bayne, is the child of my favorite Dungeons and Dragons character.

I know one of the unwritten rules of RP and writing is ‘No one else will ever think your roleplaying character is as cool as you do’ but surely writing about their offspring doesn’t fall into that category right? Right? 🙂

 

Amber: Did the story for “Sister Margaret” appear fully formed or did it take a few revisions to get to where it is today?

Rhonda: Both of the above. The skeleton for “Sister Margaret” appeared fully formed in my brain, but it took several revisions to get it where it is today. Heck, I had to do one revision solely to take out extraneous ‘thans’. Apparently I was very fond of the word than when I wrote the first draft LOL Just another example of how my style has developed I suppose.

 

Amber: In “Sister Margaret”, the narrator mentions dwarves, elves, half-humans, and incubi as some of the species that can be found in Haven.  What other species might be found in the city of Haven?

Rhonda: There are several different elvish races, and a few different varieties of demons in addition to the incubi. The demons, including full-blood incubi, aren’t welcome in Haven any more than undead are, though. There are several flavors of them too, zombies, vampires, lichs…

 

Amber: Will your readers get to explore Haven or other places with Michael and Bayne in future publications?

Rhonda: I hope so LoL.

I’ve written a few other stories set in Haven, or Aphanasia (the world in which Haven is set). I’m currently looking for publishers for the shorter pieces which feature Bayne, his sister and a few other very interesting characters. I’ve also written a novel called “Shadows” that is sort of a sequel to “Sister Margaret”. It features Michael, Bayne and a whole host of other characters. I’m seeking agent representation on that one. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

 

Amber: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Rhonda: I’d just like to thank you for having me here today and for this wonderful interview Amber. As a way to show my gratitude I’d like to give out a copy or two of “Sister Margaret” to your readers. Anyone who comments today or on my guest blog post tomorrow will have their name entered into the draw to win an e-book copy of “Sister Margaret”. I will hold the draw on May 2nd to give people a chance to pop by and enter, and if there are more than 15 comments (not counting mine) I’ll give away two copies.

Thank you again for having me here Amber. You rock!

04.27.09

Follow Me by Joanna Scott

Posted in Review at 11:18 am by Amber

 followme_1681x2544

The cover to Follow Me is intriguing.  Is the female running to or from something?  The first paragraph of the book jacket doesn’t answer the question but it pulled me into the story.

On a summer day in 1946, Sally Werner, the precocious daughter of hardscrabble Pennsylvania farmers, accepts her cousin Daniel’s invitation to ride his new motorcycle.  Like so much of what follows in Sally’s life, it’s a decision driven by impulse and a thirst for adventure, a decision with dramatic and far-reaching consequences. 

The story of Sally Werner and her various incarnations is told by her granddaughter and namesake.  Most of the story is told in Sally’s words and follows Sally from the age of 16 until her death.

One of the great pleasures of reading is discovering a new voice.  Joanna Scott’s work is new to me but she’s certainly not a beginning writer.  While most of Sally’s story is told in a straight forward manner, Scott is not afraid to mix things up a bit.  She’ll combine narrative, internal thoughts, comprehension of the situation and snatches of conversation for some passages.  In less skillful hands those passages could be a mess.  Scott knows when to hold back.

Some books are easy reads that don’t require much attention and can be finished in an afternoon.  When I read a book I often compare it to a loaf of bread or a meal trying to think of how to describe it.  Follow Me is like a long lunch with many flavors incorporated into the dishes.  It requires thoughtful attention and it’s so delicious you can’t help but get through it quickly.  Some of Scott’s descriptions made me laugh because they are so unique.  For example, “Uncle Mason’s whittling knife made a sound that reminded her of her younger brothers when they slurped soup.”

Follow Me is currently in the top 5 books I’ve read this year.  It was an absolute pleasure (except for the sorrowful passages) from beginning to end.  Thank you, Miriam, of the Hachette Book Group for introducing me to Joanna Scott.

04.26.09

Joanna Scott Blog Tour

Posted in Event at 12:15 am by Amber

Joanna Scott is the author of four novels, including 1997 Pulitzer Prize finalist The Manikin, and a short story collection, Various Antidotes, which was a finalist for the 1995 PEN/Faulkner Award.  She has received a MacArthur Fellowship and a Lannan Award.  She lives in Rochester, New York.

On Monday she is on a blog tour for her newest book, Follow Me, which is on my shortlist for the top five books I’ve read this year.  I’ll have my review available on Monday.  You may be able to win one of her books on a few of the tour stops so feel free to see what everyone has to say about Follow Me.

A very big thanks to Drey of Drey’s Library for putting together this list of tour stops.

  1. Peeking Between the Pages
  2. Write for a Reader
  3. Bermudaonion’s Weblog
  4. A Book Blogger’s Diary
  5. The Review from Here
  6. Bookopolis
  7. caribousmom
  8. Radiant Light
  9. A Bookworm’s World
  10. ~Redlady’s Reading Room~
  11. Wendy’s Minding Spot
  12. The Tome Traveler’s Weblog
  13. drey’s library
  14. A High and Hidden Place
  15. Stephanie’s Confessions of a Book-A-Holic
  16. A Circle of Books
  17. The Novel Bookworm
  18. Books Ahoy!
  19. Marta’s Meanderings
  20. Dan’s Journal
  21. Cafe of Dreams
  22. worducopia
  23. Cindy’s Love of Books
  24. 2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews
  25. Darby’s Closet
  26. My Friend Amy
  27. S. Krishna’s Books
  28. The Epic Rat
  29. A Novel Menagerie
  30. danys
  31. Jenn’s Bookshelf
  32. T.V and Book Addict
  33. literary menagerie
  34. Medieval Bookworm
  35. The Book Chick
  36. Amber Stults – Book Reviewer and Author
  37. Allison’s Attic
  38. Diary of an Eccentric
  39. Seaside Bookworm Blogger
  40. Linus’ Blanket
  41. Morbid Romantic
  42. Kylee’s 2009 Blog
  43. Savvy Verse & Wit
  44. B&b ex libris
  45. Bookin’ with Bingo
  46. http://www.xanga.com/bravehsgirl
  47. So Many Books, So Little Time
  48. The Burton Review
  49. Donna’s Book Reviews
  50. The Reading Staycation

04.23.09

Abiding Hope and Love Giveaway and Excerpts

Posted in Giveaway at 12:45 am by Amber

Abiding Hope and Love

Connie Arnold has graciously provided a signed copy of Abiding Hope and Love for one of my lucky readers.  All you have to do to enter is leave a comment between now and Wednesday, April 29th at 11:30pm Eastern to let me know of your interest.  This is open to international postal addresses.  The winner will be picked using the randomizer available at random.org. 

Here are two poems from the collection – “Melody and Harmony” and “Love Can”.

Melody and Harmony

Melody
Hope filled
Joy is spilled
Calming, insightful, creative, delightful
Melody

Harmony
Love unites
Thrills and excites
Pleasant, blending, never ending
Harmony

  Read the rest of this entry »

Interview with Connie Arnold

Posted in Event at 12:05 am by Amber

Connie Arnold is the author of two poetry collections – Beautiful Moments of Joy and Peace and Abiding Hope and Love.  She lives in North Carolina with her husband Tom, and they have two children and three small grandsons.  Connie lives with the daily challenges of lupus, and the pain and weakness it causes.  I was fortunate enough to interview her via email while she is on her blog tour for Abiding Hope and Love.  Her web site is at Inspirational Poetry of Connie Arnold.

Amber: I read on your site that you began writing poetry as text for choir music.  Do you remember having an “ah ha!” moment where you thought to yourself, “I’m writing poetry!”?

Connie: No particular “ah ha!” moment comes to mind as such, but looking back it’s obvious that the text of many of the songs I wrote could stand alone as poems. Usually the words would come to me first, and I would compose music that fit with the words. When I first drew a blank on attempting to come up with a melody to fit what I wanted to say, that might have been the turning point where I was writing poetry and occasionally would compose music for a certain poem that seemed to sing to me.

 

Amber: Do you write in the same place such as an office or coffee shop?

Connie: Not all the time. One place I write most often is at the dining room table. That’s where I get my best start on poems often, when I’m eating. I guess food fuels my brain to be more receptive to inspiration and think more creatively!

 

Amber: You have two published books of poetry.  How do you decide which poems to include or leave out?

Connie: The first book, Beautiful Moments of Joy and Peace, includes my earliest poems and other more recent ones that fit with the theme. The second book, Abiding Hope and Love, has various poems on different themes, that when putting together I realized could be grouped into six categories of Hope, Love, Children, Music, the Bible, and Nature, with hope and love being the dominant themes throughout.

 

Amber: How do you feel your style has changed or developed?

Connie: My style has developed to include more different forms of poetry. There is more variety in the second book than in the first one.

 

Amber: Do particular themes keep appearing in your poetry?

Connie: Yes, in earlier poems the themes were of beauty, joy and peace which changed to an emphasis on hope and love for the second book.  Since then I have two more collections in the works, one with themes of grace and comfort, and the other poems of seasons with an emphasis on music. Beauty and joy are probably the most commonly recurring themes in all the poems.

 

Amber: Are you doing anything special to celebrate April as National Poetry Month?

Connie: This two week blog book tour was planned to be a part of National Poetry Month. It also comes at a great time before Mother’s Day in May, which is a popular time for giving beautiful poetry gift books!

 

Amber: Anything else you’d like to share?

Connie: I’d like to thank you, Amber, for helping me to share about my poetry books, and to invite the readers to visit my website, www.freewebs.com/conniearnold for further information and to read some poems. I look forward to reading and responding to the comments!

04.16.09

Upcoming Visitors

Posted in Event at 10:59 pm by Amber

I have some guests stopping by the next two weeks.  Please come back and make them feel welcome.

04.15.09

Tax Day

Posted in Event at 7:35 am by Amber

It’s Tax Day in the United States but there are a few places offering treats.  Starting at lunchtime McDonalds offers a Quarter Pounder or Big Mac for 15 cents with the purchase of another at full price.  MaggieMoo’s is offering a free scoop today.  Diners can get 15% off their bill at P.F. Chang’s.  The Refectory Restaurant and Bistro has been offering an April Tax Relief menu all month.  However you spend today, I hope you enjoy it.

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