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Pay It Forward

Author Shelli Johannes is having a contest in order to pay back to the writing community. 
You can read about it on her website http://www.faeriality.blogspot.com/
It's a fabulous idea for a fabulous community. I am amazed every day by publishing professionals.
Whether its editors and agents who offer critiques to raise money for charity or published and agented authors who reach out to those struggling amid the slush pile, the writing community gives back.

I've blogged before about Denise Jaden, author of Losing Faith. I met her at first conference I attended. I was nervous, naive and fairly ignorant about the publishing industry. She and I were waiting in line to get agent appointments. We were both writers of YA fiction, pitching to the same agents; yet, she was encouraging and willing to share all the knowledge she had gained with me. Though she got an agent and became busy with revisions and promotions, she never stopped encouraging other writers. It was through Denise's tweet that I heard of Shelli's contest. So thanks to Denise and Shelli. Here's hoping I'll be able to give back some day. 

What I Read in 2010

This year started exactly as last year did with a Dunnett discussion at Shamrock and Stones  http://www.voy.com/202493/ Falling back in love with Nicholas of NIccolo Rising, I vowed to finish the series this time. (I'd stopped at book 6 because I got sooo mad at something in it- how's that for writing characters who leap off the page?) I got through four.
New Year's Resolution: finish the House of Niccolo.

For writing research, I did a fave first pages re-read. Two of them lead to me re-read the entire book.
The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien (it was also Emily's summer reading)
Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver (wonderful, tightly written, sexy book- so much better than Poisonwood Bible)

Keeping up with the kids: I read Secret Life of Bees with Emily (Freshman Pre AP English)- loved it, so did she. 
The Mailbox with Duncan- sixth grade summer reading- it was allright. (he hated it)

From a post on The Rejector's blog http://www.therejectionist.com/  I ran out and bought Villette by Charlotte Bronte. I was so excited. I'm a girl who loves the classic but now I know why I'd never heard of that one. An entire page of tiny font to raphosidize on the joy of getting a letter. I know the chick was lonely but egads! Stick to Jane Eyre.

From editor Cheryl Klein's blog, http://chavelaque.blogspot.com/ I sought out Marcello in the Real World. The cover is gorgeous and Duncan has an autistic friend; so I really got it for him but ended up reading it first. I'm glad I did. I like it alot until one rather yucky, foul- mouthed scene toward the end that went on a bit too long and spoiled the story for me.

Duncan begged me to read Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson. I am currently at the fourth and loving it.
Lightening Thief is SO MUCH BETTER THAN THE MOVIE. Battle of The Labyrinth is my fave of the series, so far.
Speaking of thiefs, I read The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner which was rec'd by fabulous book blogger, Angie http://angieville.blogspot.com/  I really liked it.  Liked Queen of Attolia too and King of Attolia, though neither of them were as good as Thief. (but that's the usual for me and a series, I like the first one best)

That proved true with Juliet Marillier's Daughter of the Forest, also rec'd by Angie. Fantastic! Seriously loved this retelling of Swan Lake set in ancient Ireland. Son of the Shadows was good but just couldn't compete with Daughter.

A friend gave me Mennonite in a LIttle Black Dress. It's NON FICTION but I loved it. Just like last year, a non-fiction turned out to be one of my fave books of the year. It's LOL funny.

Another friend gave me Cry of the Icemark by Stuart Hill. I had to force myself to get past the second chapter. It got much better but though the friend gave me the others in the series, I haven't been reaching for them.

Another disappointment was the second of the Jack Absolute series. Both David and I read it because we liked The Blooding of Jack Absolute; however. I'm sad to say, because author CC Humphreys is a neat guy, (I met him at Surrey) but I'm done with that series.

Speaking of Surrey http://www.siwc.ca/  Denise Jaden's book, Losing Faithhttp://www.denisejaden.com/losingfaith.html came out this year and it is a wonderful. (So is she.) It's tale of a family black sheep making sense of her perfect big sis' suicide and her own doubts of faith, told in a pitch perfect teen voice.

I picked up Water for Elephants in the airport and stayed mesmerized through a 3 hour plane trip.

I walked into Borders on impulse one Friday night and bought Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo. It's so beautiful I read it all that night and read it again the next day. Simply gorgeous writing and a heartwrenching story.

Writer-friend, Cindy Brandner (who turned me onto Dunnett) http://www.exitunicorns.com also loves Salmen Rushdie. I tried Enchantress of Florence. It started out great, sumptious, funny; about a third of the way through it went into backstory. And never came out!

My wonderful beta reader gave me The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, a completely compelling and often quite hilarious read from a wonderfully French voice. It lead me to re-read Anna Karenina and that's where I am right now and I only have 300 pages to go!



Tribute to Rowlings

The James family isn't one for amusement parks. We're scared of heights, dislike being held upside down or twirled so hard we want to barf. We don't care for crowds or standing in line. But we love books, particularly fantasy books. Everyone of us is a Potter fan so we went to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter with the rest of the record breaking crowds on the day before Thanksgiving.

It was FANTASTIC.  Our photography skills are pitiful but our smiles are sincere.

Butterbeer is yummy!

And how cool is it to walk by and see this??

Honeydukes was awesome. In it, we were pleased to adopt Penelope, the pigmypuff.

Ollivanders was fun and our wands are cool; but I'm not sure the full 1 hour and 45 minute wait to get inside was worth the 10 minute show. If you ever go, get in line here first thing. We went on the Forbidden Journey ride first and it was amazing but with single choice riding you can do it in 20 minutes. And don't let my impatience ever stop you from going- the food in The Three Broomsticks was tasty; the bathrooms were clean and full of moans from Myrtle, the crowds of  Potter fans were fun to watch and the castle was incredible.

Positive Outlook

Well, I didn't get into Authoress' fabulous contest. http://misssnarksfirstvictim.blogspot.com/ First attempt I was too slow on the Send button, and my second attempt was too quick. However, I still feel like a winner because the contest motivated me to work on my logline. And my logline attempts sent me to Holly Bodger's awesome blog for writers. http://hollybodger.com/ So win/win all around. Here's the latest rendition of my logline, a whittling of a 110k story into 100 words.

Halfblood Rose Woodman is the key to the future of Faerie, and she couldn't care less. Raised in the mortal world, she resents her unknown father and the stigma of her mixed-blood until it allows her to meet Edan, the fascinating and drop-dead gorgeous leader oft he Clan of the Stars. Rose suddenly emphathizes with her late mother's choice and realizes that her father's legacy allows her another option. Now, Rose is determined to tear down the barriers that keep the races apart, and that's exactly what the human-hating Clan of the Snake has been hoping for.

At last, my Logline

Thanks to the fabulous Authoress and the incredible contest she's holding, I've been working on my logline. I didn't get it down in time to post during any of her crit sessions but I got it done due to her inspriration and Holly Bodger's help. http://hollybodger.com/?p=446

So here goes-ALL crit welcome.

YA Fantasy

All the Fae know that the half-blood, Rose Woodman, is the key to the future of Faerie; unfortunately, none of them know exactly what that means and Rose couldn’t care less. Raised in the mortal world, she resents the mixed-blood that sets her apart until it allows her to meet Edan, leader of the Clan of the Stars. Their love weakens the barriers that keep the races apart, which is exactly what the human-hating Clan of the Snake has been hoping for.

Contest details here http://misssnarksfirstvictim.blogspot.com/2010/11/announcing-bakers-dozen-agent-auction.html

Contest Alert

Writer's Digest is at it again with the Seventh Lucky Agent Contest.
This month features Tamar Rydzinksi of the Laura Dail Literary Agency.
Tamar is seeking Young Adult fiction.
Fabulous prizes as always, so check it out and spread the word.

Proud Mama

My kids have always been the inspiration for my writing. I loved books my entire life, but I began writing for my kids.
The passion in their joys, hopes and fears re-opened my eyes to all the wonders in the world. The flip side of that is that my kids are often the reason I become too busy to write. Sometimes, I get very grumpy about that, so today, I'm taking a moment to remember all they've given me. First school dance: I think the smile on her face says it all.

Writer's Block: Do you remember?

What is your earliest memory?

Going to the library with my mother. The memory is in black and white and hazy around the edges like a faded old photo, but its full of detail. The library was in a wonderful old building with marble columns and steps and the bust of someone important in the front lobby. My mom would leave me seated on the floor of the children's aisle while she looked for her own books. She didn't have to worry about me wondering off. She'd return and I'd have a big pile of books on my lap. Funny thing is, I remember the books in color. But who could think of Dr. Zuess in black and white?

Musing on the Moon

Mooncake and Moonday Festivals are trending on twitter. I love holidays and learning about other cultures.
But all this talk of the moon makes me think of a line from my manuscript:

Fickle moon will wax and wane and leave us in the dark again,
but I will raise my eyes to see that steadfast starlight shines for me.

Of course, in my tale, the heroes are the Fae Clan of the Stars and fertility is a theme and source of conflict within the story. Female fertility is tied to the moon, you know.

Post Your First Page

The lovely, friendly and agented ellestrauss  is having a Blog Fest.
And she's got Mr. Linky's Magical Widgets!
Check it out at  Monday Musings— FIRST PAGE BLOGFEST INFO


susan b. james

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