Rhonda Parrish Shades of Green Giveaway and Visit

Posted in Event, Giveaway at 11:39 pm by Amber

On Monday I’ll have a review up for Rhonda Parrish’s Shades of Green.  Then on Tuesday you can read an interview with her about the novellette.  In the meantime, between now and February 1st Rhonda’s holding a contest giving away a copy of Shades of Green.  It’s easy to enter so don’t miss your chance to win it.


Writing Advice: Learning From The Masters

Posted in Writing at 7:02 am by Amber

In October 2009 I was fortunate to meet, very briefly, one of the smartest and prolific authors of my time, Francine Prose.  She was in town to talk about her latest book, Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife.  The format for her visit, she said, was different from her other stops to talk about it.  She would discuss the book and research for it, read some passages, and then take questions.  Honestly, it felt like a master class to me and I envied her students.

Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife is not the book she originally set out to write at all.  Prose wanted to write a novel with a teenager as the main character and what better source could there be but Anne Frank? (I’ve had Prose’s Reading Like A Writer on my TBR pile for years but I promise this is the year I will read it!)  From there she got so caught up in Anne Frank as a writer that she wrote a different book altogether.  Many multiple published authors believe if you want to write well that it’s good to know why or how other writers were able to pull off an idea or theme successfully.

The last week or so I’ve been taking mental notes on Kate Atkinson’s One Good Turn. I know this will not be my first reading of it.  Back in November 2006 I wrote over 15,000 words of a novel originally titled Untitled 2006 for lack of a better name.  As always, I thought an appropriate title would spring up along the way.  In One Good Turn Atkinson has one event happen seen from multiple points of view and then slowly all the people who witnessed the event are tied together.  They’re strangers so they don’t know they’re connected.  In Untitled 2006 I had one event happen and then began writing a chapter about each key person who witnessed or was part of the event but overlooked the extraordinary thing about it.  But I ran out of steam after a while mainly because I didn’t know what that extraordinary thing was.  After several years I still don’t know but that doesn’t mean the day won’t come when I will have that answer.

Mailbox Monday – January 25th

Posted in Event at 12:56 am by Amber

Mailbox Monday

A big thank you to Marcia at The Printed Page for hosting Mailbox Monday. Until the end of January 2009, Marcia is donating 50 cents to Book Wish Foundation’s holiday campaign for every link left for Mailbox Monday.

My mailbox has been empty.  I’ve used the time for reading and have added to my pile of undone reviews.

What arrived in your mailbox this week?


Interview with J.R. Tomlin

Posted in Event at 1:42 am by Amber

It’s my pleasure to share an interview with J.R. Tomlin conducted via email earlier this month.  Author interviews are always interesting  because you never know what they have to say about their work or their work style.  Here’s my review in case you want to know more about A Warrior’s Duty before reading the interview.  You can visit Ms. Tomlin online at http://jeannetomlin.blogspot.com/.

Amber: Do you have any writing practices or rituals? 

J.R. Tomlin: Not really. I spend two hours a day writing new material and aim for at least 2000 words a day, but can’t say I’m always successful at the word goal. For me, it’s just, as they say, BIC at the keyboard.

Amber: I understand you’ve written short stories in addition to your novel, A Warrior’s Duty.  Did you change your writing practices for novel writing and editing?

J.R. Tomlin: I don’t feel that I’m very good at short story writing although I’ve had four published. I mainly concentrate on novels. The practices are the same, but all my short stories tend to get the same reaction from readers: That’s nice as the first chapter of a novel!  *sigh*

Amber: What was the inspiration for A Warrior’s Duty?

J.R. Tomlin: I have wondered about that. Maybe it’s that as a country we’ve spent so much of my life at war. We tend to not think about the costs and I often question when war is justified and when we really do have a “warrior’s duty”. But it wasn’t anything straightforward either since I tend to start my stories with a character. The first time I met Tamra was when she was in bed with Jessup–what was at one time chapter one. It soon became obvious that they had a story I wanted to tell.

Amber:  Several characters journey on horseback to get from one destination to another.  Did you have a sketch or a geographical map as reference when writing those scenes?

J.R. Tomlin: Yes, I did map the world. It’s hard for me to keep things right if I don’t do that. I don’t make as detailed maps as some writers, but distances and time of travel is important.

Amber: Did you have a playlist or listen to specific music when writing Warrior’s Duty?

J.R. Tomlin: I almost always listen to music when I write. It helps keep me in my “writing mode”. I can’t listen to anything with lyrics though. I listen to the LotR soundtrack and the Soundtrack to Last of the Mohicans among others.

Amber: Tamra, the warrior referenced in the title, is a pragmatic lady.  Why do you think she lets herself fall in love?

J.R. Tomlin: Interesting. I never thought of her as pragmatic. She experiences a lot of emotion in the terrific losses she goes through. But I suppose she is in that she tackles what she has to do. I’m not sure “letting herself” was quiet how she thought of it. She always knew that she shouldn’t love Jessup–he is such a classic bad boy in many ways. I had several beta readers who suggested (rather strongly) that he should be killed.

Amber: Was there one character you identified with the most?

J.R. Tomlin: Oddly enough, I don’t think I identify very much with my characters. I can frequently feel their emotions when I’m writing from their PoV but they aren’t “me”. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt I wrote a character that was based on me.

Amber: Your battle scenes are detailed but still easy to follow.  Do you have any experience with swordplay or archery?

J.R. Tomlin: Thank you. That pleases me more than I can say to hear.

I’ve done both, as a matter of fact. I strongly advocate at least trying out any weapon you write about using. So many people get it totally wrong–the concept that swords are very heavy is one that annoys me as a reader. Swords are not particularly heavy –although they feel it after you swing if for a few minutes. But the typical long sword only weights about 3 pounds!

Amber: When you’re not writing what do you enjoy most?

J.R. Tomlin: I’m an omnivorous reader, not surprisingly. I think that’s typical of writers. I hike also and do horseback riding when I can which isn’t as much as I’d like since I no longer own a horse.

Amber: Are you working on any new projects?

J.R. Tomlin: Well I co-authored a novel (Talon of the Raptor Clan from E-press Online) with C. R. Daems that is out and he and I have a novel which will be published by Double Dragon Press later this year. I also have another solo novel that is being “pitched” by my agent in a different genre. Meantime I’m working on two new novels. Well, three if you include the one that is finished but needs to be edited. ~chuckle~

I try to stay busy.

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

J.R. Tomlin: I just hope people enjoy my work. For writers out there, I recommend reading and abiding by Heinlein’s rules. It’s a tough market but worth the struggle.

Pleasurable reading to everyone.


A Warrior’s Duty by J.R. Tomlin

Posted in Review at 3:40 am by Amber

Title: A Warrior’s Duty
Author: J.R. Tomlin
Publisher: Swimming Kangaroo Books
Source: E-book from Author

A Warrior's Duty


When war comes to Wayfare Keep, Tamra has to fight, in every sense, to survive.

Tamra is the Captain of the Guard of Wayfare Keep and nothing can distract her from her duty — which is why she has joined her forces with those of Sir Cedrian and the army of the city of Madrian to defend their land against invading enemies. When their army is routed and her lover, the scout, Jessup, is lost, she is shattered.

Even worse lies ahead as the secrets of her past come to light. Each death in battle only makes their enemy stronger, allowing the enemy priests to summon invincible demons called ixich. Yet in their darkest hour, haunted by loss and with defeat imminent, Tamra and her allies call upon their deepest strengths to survive and triumph.

A Warrior’s Duty has adventure, romance and secrecy contained within its pages.  Tamra is the title character who puts duty to her family and the people of Wayfare Keep before her own survival.  J.R. Tomlin’s novel combines plot with a character arc which can be sorely lacking in fantasy novels.  

The plot is not laid down with a heavy hand.  It has a natural progression that doesn’t make the reader think the characters have to travel from one place or event to another before something else can happen.  There is an urgency created by the compressed timeline that makes this a fast read. 

The adventure begins with Jessup sighting the Faragund army on the move.  The romance between Tamra and Jessup is revealed early but does not overshadow the remainder of the story.  Tamra’s companions experience a lot of emotions together in a short amount of time.  Secrets are revealed that propel the characters and the action forward.  No single character is perfect which is refreshing.  Overall this is a well written fantasy novel.

Return tomorrow for my interview with J.R. Tomlin!

Mailbox Monday – January 18th

Posted in Event at 1:53 am by Amber

Mailbox Monday

A big thank you to Marcia at The Printed Page for hosting Mailbox Monday. Until the end of January 2009, Marcia is donating 50 cents to Book Wish Foundation’s holiday campaign for every link left for Mailbox Monday.

If you’re off work today for the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. I hope you’re doing something fun… like reading a book!

This week I received a copy of Bleeding Heart Square by Andrew Taylor.  I won it in LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer January 2009 batch.  It seems something happened to all of the books that were sent out and they were re-sent late last week.  I was surprised when it arrived because I was expecting the next book that arrived in my mailbox.

The Ticking is the Bomb: A Memoir by Nick Flynn is a book I won in the LibaryThing Early Reviewers December 2009 batch of books.  I saw Nick Flynn a few years ago when he was out promoting Another Bullshit Night in Suck City which is a memoir about working in a Boston shelter and his run-ins with his homeless father.  He read some of his new poetry and talked about the book.  His new book tries to make sense of being a new father in post 9/11 America.

What arrived in your mailbox this week?


Bloggiesta Finish Line

Posted in Event at 3:00 pm by Amber

The Bloggiesta Finish Line!

Pedro and his friends are done with Bloggiesta!  I’m not sure how they made it across the finish line with the weekend we had. 

Friday was the giveaway for Liza Palmer’s A Field Guide to Burying Your Parents.  I also listened to her radio interview and called in with questions.  That afternoon I completed the mini-challenge from Jackie of Farm Lane Booksfor backing up blog content.  I already have a WordPress plugin that does this for me on a weekly basis.  Now I know how to do it manually.  And I created a folder for all the pictures on my blog for easy retrieval.  I did begin writing two reviews that were on my to-do list but I did not finish them. 

Saturday I slept in.  Later in the day, I did sign up for the comment challenge hosted by Pam from MotherReader.  The goal is to leave five comments on book blogs a day through January 28th.  This is really harder than it sounds.  A blog may have an interesting name but when I read the content I’m not moved to make a comment.  Other than the content that’s being reviewed, I haven’t figured out why that’s the case.  

My meals had a distinctive Latino flair to them.  Lunch was chicken soft tacos from Chipotle, dinner was red chile enchiladas with chicken and cheese (prepared according to the instructions given in Rick Bayless’ cookbook, Mexican Everday) and my snack was baked scoops tortilla chips with salsa. 

Protecting blog content can be a headache but it’s easier if it’s copyrighted.  I completed the copyright mini-challenge hosted by Pam from Bookalicio.us.  The evening was finished up by sending out  interview questions to one author and starting a second set of questions for a second author. 

Sunday was spent wrapping things up.  I created a cheat sheet for some common posts for the mini-challenge hosted by Danielle from There’s a Book.  Included were html and SEO settings that don’t vary from one post to the next.  It’s been uploaded to my Google docs account.

I didn’t get to do everything I planned but it was time well spent.  All in all I spent about 6 hours on Bloggiesta.  Big thanks to Natasha for Bloggiesta hosting duties.

Mailbox Monday – January 11th

Posted in Event at 7:34 am by Amber

Mailbox Monday

A big thank you to Marcia at The Printed Page for hosting Mailbox Monday. Until the end of January 2009, Marcia is donating 50 cents to Book Wish Foundation’s holiday campaign for every link left for Mailbox Monday.

Nothing new arrived in my mailbox this week.  I returned a book to Amazon that was a duplicate gift.  And today I mailed out a board book titled La oveja Rizos for someone’s first birthday.

What showed up in your mailbox this week?


December 2009

Posted in Status Report at 7:17 pm by Amber

These statistics are all for short stories, poems, or contest entries. Book reviews are not included.

  1. Sales in December: 0
  2. Rejections in December: 0
  3. Submissions sent out in December: 0
  4. Total stories/poems/contests pending responses: 3

Nothing new or old went out in December.  I did get two surprises.  The first was an email from an Ohio museum. 

Last year I entered their poetry contest and they invited me to submit again for this year’s contest.  It’s appears to be an annual thing and though the invite was a form letter it was nice to get the email about it.  They only accept submissions through snail mail so someone had to go through the submissions and enter all of the contact information into a database.  The people running the contest were certainly thinking ahead about future contests.

The second surprising thing was I stumbled upon an editor’s post from a market I had sent a submission to in May 2009.  It’s a market specializing in letters and as far as I know of, it’s the only one of its kind.  The editor currently has 219 submissions pending reading and is caught up to April 2009.  The editor apologized for how long it is taking to read the submissions and explained when the call went out for submissions the response was overwhelming.  Top off the overwhelmed feeling with events happening in work or family and it’s easy to see why someone would not want to read submissions or run out of steam in a short while.  I suppose it was the honesty of the post that was most surprising.  It seems a lot of editors who are doing it all themselves just put their heads down and ignore anything writing/submission related to their magazine or site.  While I have very little hope of ever hearing from this editor it’s good to know my email is probably lost in the inbox somewhere.  Markets that don’t acknowledge receipt of submissions cause writers much hand wringing and worrying.


Starting Bloggiesta

Posted in Event at 11:17 am by Amber

Last night I made a list of all the things I want to accomplish during Bloggiesta.  They fall under three different categories: Book Reviews, Interviews and Story of the Month.


I have the day off work and it started with sleeping in until 8am.  The Resident Corgi was not an early riser this morning.  Now I’m ready to start my day and start Bloggiesta

Looking over the new mini-challenges there are some great ones.  In fact, I’ve already started one hosted by Jackie of Farm Lane Books about backing up your blog.

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