The Bag of Bones – Vivian French

Posted in Review at 6:53 pm by Amber

Title: The Bag of Bones
Author: Vivian French
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Source: Columbus Metropolitan Library

The Bag of Bones Book Cover This author was recommended to  me by a Columbus NaNoWriMo’er.  She thought I’d be interested in French’s work based on my 2008 NaNo project in which a widow finds out her husband was keeping a magical secret before his death and she must continue his work.

This is the second book in a series that takes place in the Five Kingdoms.  Witches are commonplace but only do good magic that provide cures.  Witches who live outside of the Five Kingdoms can perform Deep Magic which is done for selfish or vengeful reasons.  Deep Magic has been outlawed within the borders of the Five Kingdoms.  Deep Magic witches, werewolves and sorcerers were banished years before this story takes place.

Queen Bluebell is ready to announce the female heir to the kingdom but her daughter ran off while still young.  Only a male baby with one of her royal shoes was ever found.  Meanwhile, a witch who performs Deep Magic has crossed into the Five Kingdoms decides she wants to be named the next heir. 

This book has rats, bats, a troll and orphans.  The black and white drawings add to the story.  This book is geared towards young adults and I would have enjoyed it more if I were closer in age to the intended audience.  It has humor to lighten things up.  This is heavily plotted with enough character development to get the reader to like or dislike some characters.  My favorite books make me feel something for the characters too.


Interview for Niteblade

Posted in Published, Writing at 12:38 am by Amber

I keep forgetting to mention… I conducted an interview with Frick Weber earlier this month for Niteblade.  He’s one of the talents behind The Field on the Edge of the Woods.  The interview has been posted.  Enjoy!


Muse Online Writers Conference

Posted in Event, Writing at 6:43 pm by Amber

2010 Muse Online Writers Conference

Each October, Lea Schizas and friends pull off an amazing online conference.  This will be the fifth year and I can only see it getting better.

I’ve attended the past few years and each one improves on the last one.  Bigger chat rooms, forums, and editor pitch sessions are some of the changes I’ve seen. 

My first year I was so overwhelmed with access to people who could speak on such interesting writing topics I wanted to sign up for nearly every chat.  And I think I did.  I attended many chats and participated in the forums.  There were a lot of handouts to read.  As the conference has gotten bigger the workshops have gotten more intense. 

The workshops last the entire conference and if there is one day you fall behind, it is difficult to catch up.  These are extremely hands on and some people are known to take vacation time to make sure plenty of time is available.  Even the presenters take time off! 

There is still time to sign up for the conference if you want to do a writing boot camp.  You will definitely be put through your paces.


Mailbox Monday – May 17th

Posted in Event at 1:59 am by Amber

Mailbox Monday

A big thank you to Marcia at The Printed Page for hosting Mailbox Monday. 

Nothing arrived in my mailbox this week and I am happy about it!  I’ve read two books in the last week which is distracting me from getting my writing and reviews done.

What arrived in your mailbox this week?


Update on Annie’s Ghosts by Steve Luxenberg

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:34 pm by Amber

Tonight I received an email from Steven Luxenberg about Annie’s Ghosts.  It’s ready to be released in paperback tomorrow with a new cover.  My review of Annie’s Ghosts from July 2009 is still available for view.

Isn’t this a nice cover?

Annie's Ghosts Paperback Cover

Mailbox Monday – May 10th

Posted in Event at 1:48 am by Amber

Mailbox Monday

A big thank you to Marcia at The Printed Page for hosting Mailbox Monday.  A lot of new books flew into the house this week courtesy of the Ohioana Book Festival.  This is the fourth year of the festival in which Ohio authors are featured. 

May 10th Mailbox Monday Books

Starting from the top of the stack is Don of the Dead by Casey Daniels.  This is the first in a series of mysteries featuring Pepper Martin, an heiress whose family fortunes has turned sour.  She must get a job.  The only job she can find is that of a cemetery tour guide.  Through an on the job accident, she finds she can communicate with the dead.  In this first book she helps a deceased mafia boss hunt down his killers.  Each book in the series focuses on a ghost from a different decade.  Casey said the series is a light read.  Sounds perfect for porch reading.  Casey currently lives in the Cleveland area.

Next is Embers by Laura Bickle.  Anya is an arson investigator in Detroit by day.  At night she’s part of a ghost hunting team.  Anya is a psychic medium who believes a supernatural arsonist is setting fires to summon a fiery being.  Time is running out before the spell will be complete.  Laura lives in Ohio.

Linda Robertson‘s Vicious Circle is next.  Persephone Alcmedi is a tarot card reading witch.  Witches don’t mix with werewolves but Persephone’s best friend is one.  Life is piling up for Persephone – her grandmother gets kicked out of her nursing home, her best friend is murdered, and she’s been asked to kill a vampire.  The little thing at the top of the pile is the cedar and sage soap with a tag on it.  It represents what Persephone smells when she puts on the leather jacket of Johnny, a werewolf she’s attracted to.  Both Persephone and Linda live in Cleveland.

Spellbent by Lucy A. Snyder.  One of my favorite books so far this year and not just because it’s set in Columbus.  Jessie Shimmer is a magic student trying to summon up a rain storm to end a drought.  During the spell she loses her teacher (and lover) into a portal and a demon is on the loose.  Lucy lives in a suburb about 15 minutes away from me.

All the Way Home by David Giffels is a memoir about finding (and repairing) the perfect home in Akron, Ohio with his wife and infant son.  At one time, Akron employed over 35% of the production workers involved in the rubber industry.  The home David finds is a challenge.  Once the home of a rubber executive it’s fallen into disrepair of the worst kind.  Animals live inside the house and the roof has more holes than shingles.  David lives in Akron.

Under Glass: The Girl with a Thousand Christmas Trees by Jen Hirt is a memoir about the family greenhouse business.  Her family life has been turned upside down and the greenhouse land has been sold to a nationwide pharmacy.  The greenhouses are torn down but her family won’t.  Jen grew up in Valley City, Ohio and currently teaches in Pennsylvania.

Sparks and Shadows (two copies) by Lucy A. Snyder are at the bottom of the pile because they’re the largest.  Contents include poems, short stories and essays.  The one with the tan colored spine is the second edition and the contents are nearly the same as the first, limited edition.  It has a new introduction and one poem swapped out for another.  At Lucy’s suggestion I bought the second edition as a future giveaway for my readers.  I’ve already read a few of the stories from when they were available on her web site a few years ago but I want to get more read before doing the giveaway.

What arrived in your mailbox this week?


Ohioana Book Festival

Posted in Event at 10:23 am by Amber

  Ohioana Book Festival  

It wasn’t until May 2008, the weekend of the Ohioana Book Festival, that I first heard of it.  Friday was the opening night for Jeff Smith’s exhibit at the Wexner Center for the Arts.  Both Harvey Pekar and Joyce Brabner were in attendance.  The next morning they were off to the Ohioana Book Festival.  The Jeff Smith festivities kept me busy all weekend.  Last year I didn’t attend because I knew it would be a madhouse.  How else would some of these kids get Jeff Smith’s autograph?  

I finally made it this year.  First I looked at the list of authors and made a preliminary list of the books and authors I wanted to meet.  After a while I stopped really reading the information and began to skim it.  My list was getting quite long.  

The State Library of Ohio is about nine minutes from my house.  First I stopped off at Barnes and Noble to pick up the books I wanted but I could not find a single one.  I asked on Twitter and was told there would be a Barnes and Noble shop on site.

The lobby area was turned into a cafe of sorts with food for attendees.  Beyond the circulation desk were tables and chairs in front of a podium for readings.  Beyond the library stacks was the main festival area.  It was an extremely large room.  Tables were setup for the sponsors and partners around the perimeter.  Barnes and Noble had several  long tables with books and a cash wrap area.  They were even able to honor my member card for a discount on my purchases.  One corner had a podium and chairs.  I imagine this was for the panel discussions.

In the middle of the room were tables groaning under the weight of books with authors behind them.  I know readers like pictures but I didn’t take any.  Because it was lunch time, a lot of authors were eating at their tables – I didn’t want to have them worried about food in their teeth and I thought it might be inconsiderate of the other authors who didn’t get their pictures taken.  Call me an odd bird.

First I stopped to see Lucy A. Snyder.  I was of course, my babbling idiot self, when I introduced myself.  (I’m fine with award winning filmmakers but authors in person are another story.)  Several years ago I went to see her husband at a reading and when she was chatting with people I used that as my excuse not to introduce myself.  She and I have been friends on LiveJournal for years.  I bought a copy of Spellbent (one of my favorite books this year) and a limited edition of Sparks and Shadows, one of her short story collections.  We talked a little bit about Spellbent and I completely overlooked the Stoker Award on her table.  (Bad me.)  Lucy was one of the featured authors at this year’s festival.

Next I saw Linda Robertson, the rocking and rolling author of the Persephone Alcmedi series.  I picked up a copy of Vicious Circle, the first in the series.  She shared a story about the time she had a book signed by an author and the author misspelled her name.  Linda had two sets of soaps at her table and I took one of the cedar and sage soaps.  It’s supposed to be what the main character smells when she puts on the leather jacket of Johnny, a werewolf.

Seated at the same table as Linda was Laura Bickle, the author of Embers.  When I was telling Linda and Laura about all the Ohioana authors I hadn’t heard of, Laura joked she was a noob.  Embers was released last month and in June she’s releasing another book titled Dark Oracle under the name Alayna Williams.  Want to hear something funny?  Laura’s been doing blog tours and I left a comment on one of last month’s stops.

Lastly I was able to meet Casey Daniels.  I picked up a copy of Don of the Dead, the first in the Pepper Martin Mysteries.  Pepper is a cemetery tour guide who solves ghosts problems.  There are six books so far with a seventh on the way.  Casey let me know each ghost is from a different decade.  This mystery series sounds like a unique concept and the ghosts from different decades are bound to keep things fresh.

I picked up books from Jen Hirt and David Giffel but they were away from their table doing readings and I imagine getting some lunch.  Jen Hirt’s book is fairly new.  It’s a memoir about her family’s greenhouse business.  I heard of David’s book from The Thurber House author series but didn’t get a chance to go to the reading.  It’s about restoring an old house that needs a large amount of work.  Think of the house the Bouvier Beale women (of Grey Gardens fame) lived in and you have an idea of what he was up against.

I’m looking forwarding to reading all of these books and going to the Ohioana Book Festival in 2011.


Writo de Mayo

Posted in Event, Writing at 11:44 pm by Amber

Way back in 2007 a LiveJournal community I belong to decided they wanted to tackle a writing project similar to NaNoWriMo.  And thus in January of 2008 the month of May became Writo de Mayo.  The idea was to pick a writing goal and stick to it for a month.

The NaNoLJers community is still holding Writo de Mayo.  The first year I decided to write a short story each day based on a prompt.  Not all of the stories were complete first drafts but I got a lot of writing done.

In 2009 I decided to start a second draft of my 2008 NaNo project.  It’s an urban fantasy and I did not finish the second draft.  I recognized some big holes in the flow of the novel.  It was only two months ago that I figured out the main one.

This year I’ve decided to add another 10,000 words to my unfinished 2007 NaNo project.  That first week in November was when the current Resident Corgi came to join our family.  I had honestly forgotten how disruptive adding a new member to the household could be.  Towards the end of the month I made some big writing pushes but didn’t get anywhere near the 50,000 mark.

Glancing through what I have so far has convinced me I’m a better writer than I was at that time.  The opening scene I thought would be dramatic will work better as a flashback.  But I’m not allowing my inner editor out.  No way.  This month is for writing.

Mailbox Monday – May 3rd

Posted in Event at 5:09 am by Amber

Mailbox Monday

It’s Monday once again.  A big thank you to Marcia at The Printed Page for hosting Mailbox Monday.  In case you’re not familiar with Mailbox Monday, it’s a meme that can make your TBR pile bigger.  Participants note which books arrived in their mailbox (or email box) during the week.  Then we all look at the other entries and figure out which books we want to read.

The Unnamed Book CoverThis week I unexpected received a copy of The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris.  I don’t keep a list of which books I’m expecting but I generally have a good idea of what is on the way.  Since most of my books come from the publisher or publicist there is usually a trail of emails.  In this case, it took me about a day to remember.  I won this as part of Bloggiesta!

What arrived in your mailbox this week?


April 2010

Posted in Status Report at 2:45 pm by Amber

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

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

So the poetry contest winner reading came and went around tax day.  Guess who wasn’t there? 

I did send an entry this week for a Writer’s Digest 10th Anniversary contest.  The contest was to write an opening sentence based on a picture incorporating the number 10.  One of the difficulties was the 35 word limit.  Entries were due by May 14 (I submitted early!) and the winners will be published in the September issue.

One thing I learned this month was to finish what I start.  I have several essays and stories begun for contests or themed submissions.  Once the deadline passes, the piece usually gets dropped.  Sounds a little bit like my exercise regime.  One essay and one short story would have been perfect to polish off and submit this past month.  The essay wasn’t finished and the short story didn’t have the rewrites completed to make it better.

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