Mailbox Monday – November 29th

Posted in Event at 12:22 am by Amber

Mailbox Monday

A big thank you to Julie of Knitting and Sundries for hosting Mailbox Monday during November.

From Lisa Roe, Online Publicist, I received a copy of Muslim Women Reformers: Inspiring Voices Against Oppressionby Ida Lichter.  It’s an anthology profiling women and men who are activists for Muslim women rights.

On NetGalley from Carina Press, I received a copy of Winter Wishes which includes three stories from Moira Rogers, Vivi Andrews and Vivian Arend.  It’s set for publication on 12/6/2010.

What arrived in your mailbox this week?


NaNoWriMo 2010 Check-In #3

Posted in Writing at 12:34 am by Amber

I’m a few days late in my NaNoWriMo check-in.  Sorry!

I had Friday off work and that was my best writing day this year.  In the afternoon I went to a write-in at Colin’s Coffee.  It’s a long space with a counter and several tables.  Shopping center employees and other regulars came in for their coffee fix.   We had one person visiting from Cleveland who was in town and wanted to get some writing done.  My noveling fuel was tomato soup and a frozen hot chocolate. 

In the evening was a second write-in at the Chocolate Cafe.  Apparently they have an all you can eat chocolate fondue special from 5pm to 10pm on Fridays for $6.99.  My noveling fuel was lobster bisque soup and (free refills) coke.  Surprisingly, I didn’t touch the chocolate at all.

On Friday alone I wrote 6034 words.  Not bad by my count.  It brought me up to 28234 words total.

One of the neat tools for NaNoWriMo is the Excel report card I’ve been using for as long as I can remember.  I was able to look back at my writing stats and my best day ever was on 11/30/2008 on the first version of this story.  I cranked out 8270 words in 7 hours.  Tonight I read some of those words.  Other than the last few paragraphs I have no recollection of what I wrote.  It was interesting to see how I tied up the main plot line.

How has your writing week been?


Katie Up and Down the Hall by Glenn Plaskin

Posted in Review at 4:03 pm by Amber

Title: Katie Up and Down the Hall
Author: Glenn Plaskin
Publisher: Center Street – Hachette Book Group
Source: ARC from Anna at Hachette Book Group

Katie Up and Down the Hall

A personal memoir by bestselling author and celebrity journalist Glenn Plaskin, KATIE is a moving story about a man who discovers the true meaning of family after adopting a cocker spaniel puppy. Through the magnetic personality of his mischievous dog, the author soon makes powerful connections with several of his down-the-hall neighbors his apartment building: a warm-hearted elderly couple Pearl and Arthur, John, a single dad, and his rambunctious young son, Ryan.

All of their lives are profoundly changed as they are transformed from neighbors to friends to family. Set in New York City, we witness nearly sixteen years of antics and family adventures spanning Hollywood high times, bad health, accidents, blustery winters, even the terrors of 9/11. Through it all, the family clings to each other, sharing a deep bond that give each comfort, support and security.

Katie was named for the actress, Katherine Hepburn, Plaskin’s all-time favorite movie star.  He interviewed her several years before buying Katie and later become a frequent luncheon date of Ms. Hepburn.  Katie’s brown eyes and demeanor often made her a hit with everyone.  Katherine Hepburn was the exception.  That’s okay though – Katie was obviously loved by the people who mattered in  her daily life.

Overall, this was a pleasant read but I never connected with the stories about Katie.  It’s written in the past tense so this may create distance between the reader and events in the book.


Dog Books Reviewed This Month

Posted in Review at 4:47 pm by Amber

My plan was to have all of the reviews written before November started so a new one could post each week.  I didn’t get any of them done (most of them have the basic template filled out) so don’t be surprised by a rush of book reviews published over the next week.

There are one or two older books but most of them are newer ones.


NaNoWriMo 2010 Check-In #2

Posted in Writing at 5:23 pm by Amber

Today my husband will arrive home from work after I do.  Tonight’s plan is to get dinner on the way home, take the Resident Corgi for his evening stroll, eat dinner and get down to business.

The current word count is at 12048 which almost 15k below where I should be to stay on target for the month. In years past I’ve done 5k days which often result in my right hand looking like a claw.  I don’t want that.  This year I’m taking two days off work so I can spend the day writing and that will help with my word count.

Since my last check-in a new character inserted himself into my novel.  It’s primarily populated by Caucasians with Irish names.  This new character is a coroner with the Franklin County Coroner’s office.  His surname is McGee but he’s a portly, short Asian.  Coroner McGee wasn’t in the 2008 version but is having a good time in this one.  I think he’s going to even make a few more appearances even though there’s only one dead body in the book.

Have you had any unexpected characters come in and try to steal the show?


NaNoWriMo 2010 Check-In #1

Posted in Writing at 6:45 pm by Amber

I decided this year to do another draft of my 2008 project titled Three Girls, a Corgi and a Dead Body.  The new working title, which I’m not so crazy about, is The Fairy Book Guardians.  It makes me think of Guardian by Katie Hines and The Storm Guardians.

I’m about to start my writing for the day and I’m woefully behind where I should be.  Using a slow and steady pace, I should be just over 15000 words to be on target for finishing on November 30th.  Instead I’m at 6254 words – I think it’s because my inner editor has been telling me this should be a second draft and I’ve been listening.

So I gave her a smushing last night.  I pointed out that this is still a first draft. After all, it’s not smart to rename some of your characters so you end up with Marty, Mari, Mark and Missy in some of the same scenes but because it’s a first draft it’s okay.  And that guy who was the dead husband’s best friend in the 2008 version – he’s now the antagonist.  He’s really selfish too.  Last night was my second highest daily word count.  I think my word count is going to be better from here on out.

Any roadblocks to your writing success?

Green Books Campaign: American Salvage by Bonnie Jo Campbell

Posted in Review at 1:00 pm by Amber

Title: American Salvage
Author: Bonnie Jo Campbell
Publisher: Wayne State University Press
Printed on: Alkaline paper

This review is part of the Green Books campaign.Today 200 bloggers take a stand to support books printed in an eco-friendly manner by simultaneously publishing reviews of 200 books printed on recycled or FSC-certified paper. By turning a spotlight on books printed using eco- friendly paper, we hope to raise the awareness of book buyers and encourage everyone to take the environment into consideration when purchasing books.

 The campaign is organized for the second time by Eco-Libris, a green company working to make reading more sustainable. We invite you to join the discussion on “green” books and support books printed in an eco-friendly manner! A full list of participating blogs and links to their reviews is available on Eco-Libris website.

American Salvage

American Salvageis a short story collection by Bonnie Jo Campbell set in rural Michigan. The people are (mostly) scrappy. They’re either trying to make their lives better or escaping from the harsh realties of their lives. I can’t relate to the circumstances and situations of the characters but it’s easy to empathize with their feelings.

Each story is unique.  The point of view varies which helps to keep the reader interested and makes one story not blend in with the other.  Several of the stories resonant weeks later.

One of my favorites is “Boar Taint”. It features a newlywed wife, named Jill, who is married to a farmer ten years her senior.  The farming lifestyle would drive any city person crazy but she enjoys it.  Jill fully embraces her new life and wants to add to the family income by raising hogs for hog roasts.  She answers an ad for a $25 boar hog.  The boar is less than she expects and so much more.

About The Author
Bonnie Jo Campbell is the author of a collection of stories, Women & Other Animals, and a novel, Q Road. She is the winner of a Pushcart prize, the AWP Award for Short Fiction, and Southern Review’s2008 Eudora Welty Prize for “The Inventor, 1972,” which is included in this collection. Her work has appeared in Southern Review, Kenyon Review, and Ontario Review.


Mailbox Monday – November 8th

Posted in Event at 12:26 am by Amber

Mailbox Monday

A big thank you to Julie at Knitting and Sundries for hosting Mailbox Monday during November 2010.  It’s a meme that’s known to greatly increase the TBR piles in reader’s homes so be careful!

Dogs Don't Lie book cover

I received an ARC of Dog’s Don’t Lie by Clea Simon via NetGalley from Poisoned Pen Press.

Pru Marlowe isn’t your ordinary animal psychic. A tough girl on the run from her own gift, Pru left the big city to return to her picturesque Berkshires hometown looking for a little peace. Too bad that her training as an animal behaviorist got her mixed up with Lily-a  rescue dog-and Charles-Lily’s person. Now Charles is dead, and Lily looks good for it. After all, Lily is a pitbull, a fighting ring dropout, and way too traumatized to give Pru a clear picture of what she has witnessed. But Pru knows something about bad girls trying to  clean up, and, with a sense of justice strong enough to overcome her dislike of human society, she takes the case. Listening to the animals, Pru picks up clues-and learns there are secrets in the  pretty little town that make murder look simple. Unable to tell anybody about her psychic abilities, uncertain at times about her own  sanity, Pru comes to realize that if she clears Lily, she’ll likely become the prime suspect-or the next victim. While the only creature she can totally trust is her crotchety tabby Wallis, Pru’s got to uncover the real killer-and find a way to live with her gift-before the real beasts in the town savage her and those she has come to love. The first in the Pru Marlowe “pet noir” series.

The EOS Reader 2010 book coverThe second ARC I received was the EOS Reader 2010 with various authors via NetGalley from HarperCollins. HarperCollins shares 25 excerpts from this season’s best supernatural thrillers, paranormal romance, epic fantasy, and action-packed SF!

What arrived in your mailbox this week?


Out of the Transylvania Night by Aura Imbarus

Posted in Review at 10:12 pm by Amber

Title: Out of the Transylvania Night
Author: Aura Imbarus
Publisher: Bettie Youngs Books
Source: Aura Imbarus coordinated by Susan M. Hein
Out of the Transylvania Nights by Aura Imbarus

Under the Communist regime of Nicolae Ceausescu, Christmas was outlawed and not recognized as an official holiday, yet it was still celebrated.  On December 21st, 1989, Aura Imbarus went shopping with her parents.  First they went to the government sanctioned grocery store hoping for exotic bananas and oranges.  Their next stop was the town square to find a new black market connection for chocolate.

Imbarus and her parents found gunfire and foreign mercenaries instead.  This was the event that led Imbarus to believe (and hope!) her country could be different than what she’d known all of her life. Microphones and eyes were everywhere to eavesdrop and inform on neighbors.  Rationed items such as gas, electricity and food were part of her daily life. 

The information about the revolution was sparse but the Imbarus family tried to get the most reliable information they could from the international radio broadcasts and eyewitnesses.  It was difficult to know if the revolutionists were making headway.  After it became clear Nicolae Ceausescu was no longer in power, the new government began rewarding revolutionists with extra rations but the system was flawed.  Non-revolutionists were claiming a hand in the victory so they could get more.

Ultimately Imbarus left Romania to have a life that was more within her control.  But she went to extremes – by working several jobs and continuing her education to the point she had no extra time, her marriage became a joyless one.  The continued connection to her family made her look at her new life and where she had missteps.

The story of Imbarus is a timeless one.  People will always want a better life than what they have but not everyone has the courage to start over in a new country.  She paints a truly bleak picture of her economic situation and living conditions in Romania.  The joy and love her family brought to her life was obvious but it wasn’t enough to keep her happy forever.  From the beginning to the end of Out of the Transylvania Night, Imbarus drives home the importance of choice in life. 

Aura Imbarus, PhD, is a former popular journalist in Europe, university professor, speaker, and award-winning educator. She is co-founder and ambassador of the Romanian-American Professional Network (RAPN) and the president of its Los Angeles chapter. She is also president of EuroCircle’s Los Angeles chapter.

Aura was born in Sibiu, Romania. Educated at the famed Octavian Goga High School, she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in English and Modern Languages and an MA in English Literature at Lucian Blaga University in Sibiu, Transylvania, Romania. She earned her PhD in Romance Languages-Philology under the tutelage of Professor Dumitru Cicio-Pop, PhD, who writes the Foreword for her book. (Dr. Ciocoi-Pop is the former president of Lucian Blaga University. A popular activist for human rights, he was imprisoned for two years for speaking out against the Communist regime.) Aura lives in Los Angeles.


October 2010

Posted in Status Report, Writing at 9:54 pm by Amber

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

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

My host has experienced some problems the last day so I haven’t been able to get here for more than a minute or two to do some updates.

I have begun writing my post about the World Fantasy Convention but it’s not ready to go live yet.

With two exceptions this month, all of my book reviews here will be about books that feature dogs. Call it “dog-tired month from doing NaNoWriMo” or call it a “Gotcha Monthlong Celebration” about the special place dogs have in our lives.

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