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Sun, Mar. 27th, 2016, 08:32 pm
A piece of my childhood

Faygo pop was made in Detroit.

Mon, Mar. 21st, 2016, 07:17 pm
Changing borders

This a very cool animation showing the changing borders in Europe over the last 1000 years.

Mon, Mar. 14th, 2016, 10:38 am
My name is daw, and I'm a "Hamilton" addict

What has happened to me? I haven't felt this dazzled since the first time I saw LOTR.

Sun, Mar. 13th, 2016, 02:50 pm
Baby elephants climbing into your lap!

Baby Elephants Who Want To Be Lap Dogs

Lap elephants!

Posted by The Huffington Post on Thursday, March 10, 2016

Sat, Mar. 12th, 2016, 08:24 am
You're welcome

Turns out that if you have Amazon Prime, you can stream the sound track from "Hamilton" for free. I listened to it yesterday and was blown away. First, it doesn't sound anything like you expect a Broadway musical to sound. Then it shows you a group of brilliant, ambitious men at a crisis moment in history. And it blends in Hamilton's private life, which was rich with highs and lows. Enjoy!

Also, Leah Bardugo's Six of Crows is a fantastic YA fantasy. It's Scott Lynch with teens. Additionally, I'm almost done with Adrian McKinty's latest Sean Duffy novel, set in Belfast during the troubles. Great voice, great setting. Enjoy!

Fri, Feb. 26th, 2016, 08:09 pm
Kids reading to shy dogs

Tue, Feb. 16th, 2016, 08:44 pm
Dogs vs. Stairs

Sat, Feb. 13th, 2016, 02:30 pm
Reading and writing

Reading: I'm reading J. Michael Neal's BECOMING PHOEBE about a girl playing collegiate hockey and figuring out the person she wants to be. Lots of hockey details that resonate with the sounds I heard coming from the TV as my Canadian father cheered for the Maple Leafs. In the car, I'm listening to Gantos's DEAD END IN NORVELT, a middle grade novel set in a New Deal Homestead community, a program Eleanor Roosevelt supported that I'd never heard of before.

Writing: Mostly today, I'm thinking about the fun I had writing fanfic. There's something so freeing about writing just for fun, trying things out, sharing an interest with other people. God bless the internet for making it easy.

Thu, Feb. 4th, 2016, 10:41 am
Reading and Writing

Reading: I've had trouble finding things to read, so I've gone to various award sites and looked for books that sound like I'd enjoy them. At least that way, I know the book will be well written.

At the moment, I'm reading Ben Fountain's BILLY LYNN'S LONG HALFTIME WALK which was a finalist for the National Book Award. I'm about 10% into it. It was hard for me to get into because there are many characters and dense detail, so it felt overwhelming. I'm cautiously enjoying it more now.

Writing: Revising really. One question I've asked myself over and over is it someone read just this one page, would they be able to tell who the POV character is? If they wouldn't, that's a problem. I find it's not enough just to show only what the POV character would see or hear. I need that character's reactions to pretty much everything.

Tue, Jan. 26th, 2016, 12:38 pm

Here's the problem with the revision I'm currently doing. This book was written over several years in fits and starts. With each draft, I changed things, added a second POV, added a second plot thread to go with that POV, etc. Also, as I worked with the characters, I got a better sense of what they were like.

So these previous drafts live like archeological layers in the one I'm revising. There are secondary characters or small scenes that are there because I needed them for a plot or character element that's since been deleted or altered. My editor is like a guided missile pointing at those places and asking what I'm doing there. Or more accurately, what the character is doing there. What does he think and feel? How about everyone around him? How are they reacting?

And that's what I'm working on. In the chapter I'm working on now, the POV character often seems to have no attitude toward events, probably because those events have a different significance now than they did the first time I drafted this scene.

Sat, Jan. 23rd, 2016, 10:19 am
Playing in the snow

The National Zoo in DC posted a fun video of a panda frolicking in the snow. Apparently the east coast blizzard is good for something.


Tue, Jan. 19th, 2016, 09:19 am
Reading and writing

Reading: I'm reading Bujold's new book, GENTLEMAN JOLE. One of the things that's always interesting in Bujold is her handling of reproductive technology in particular, and more generally of gender, sexual orientation, and variation in choice of partner(s). She's not interested in erotica, just in pushing the norms for how people can establish caring relationships.

Writing: I miss my fanfic characters, but I feel like I've said everything I have to say about them. Maybe if I reread my own work, gaps will make themselves visible? OTOH, I have some original stuff I should be revising.

Thu, Jan. 7th, 2016, 08:50 am
Movies, reading, writing

Movies: Over vacation, we saw Star Wars (loved it) and also The Big Short, which is about the Wall Street mortgage manipulations that contributed to the 2008 crash. Has anyone else seen it? They were aware of how obscure some of this stuff is, so rather then trying to work explanations into dialogue or something equally awkward, they did a clever thing. They broke the fourth wall and had celebrities give explanations, often with little demonstrations. It was very effective. Too bad writers can't do that sort of thing with backstory or world building.

Reading and Writing: Also over vacation, I read the second book in Jemisin's Inheritance Trilogy. I'm in the middle of revising, and I find I'm helped by reading well-written stuff. This book does such a good job of staying in the moment, close to the POV character, which is something I sometimes struggle with.

Mon, Dec. 21st, 2015, 02:10 pm
Shameless Self Promotion

FINDERS KEEPERS is now enrolled in the Amazon Prime and Kindle Unlimited program, meaning you can read the e-book for free if you have a Prime account. I'm flinching but the email I just got from my publisher says to tell you this:

"If you have anyone in your circle of friends or family, that has not yet bought 2 copies (one to carry around with, and one to keep at the office or home) then you need to sit them down and ask them why they don't love you anymore"

It's true that even page views help and reviews affect whether Amazon includes a book in its promotions. I'm not earning my living from this (thank god, because I'd starve) but I would like people to read about and love my characters.

Apologies for the Shameless Self Promotion. I'll may announce this again when people have settled down after the holiday, but other than that, I'll try not to wear on your patience.


Mon, Dec. 21st, 2015, 01:01 pm

Five minutes of painful awkwardness. The host apparently read the wrong name as winner. Crowning ensues, accompanied by tears, flowers, cheers, jubilant music. Then the host comes back and makes the correction. Crown is removed. I'm cringing.

Thu, Dec. 17th, 2015, 10:31 am
Turning chronology into plot

I have a guest post on Middle Grade Ninja, talking about how you can tell you have a plot rather than a series of events, and how that relates to calendar change panics like the end of the Mayan calendar or the events in Finders Keepers.

Tue, Dec. 15th, 2015, 02:27 pm
Ten favorite reads of 2015

Inspired by the year's best lists that come out this time of year, here's a list of my ten favorite reads of 2015. I mostly stuck to new reads, though I did slip in one reread. Also I twice cheated a little by counting a series as one read.

There's a wide range of stuff here. Maybe you'll find something you like. They're in no particular order.

Redeployment, Phil Klay. A set of short stories about American soldiers sent to Iraq and Afghanistan. They range from a returned vet in college to a mortician to a company clerk to a frontline grunt. Beautifully written human stories. Won the National Book Award.

The Martian, Andy Weir. A book that's no doubt familiar to everyone by now. I was surprised by how interesting the technical stuff was, probably because of the voice Weir created. Also I like the story of how this book came to be. Weir first posted chapters on his blog, where readers got into the act and provided technical information. When they asked for all the chapters together, he put it on Amazon for 99 cents. Within a month, he sold 10K copies. At that point, a big publisher picked him up, but essentially he wrote the story because he wanted to.

The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison. A compelling central character who under-estimated himself because everyone else does. Cheering him on was very satisfying.

Jinx, Sage Blackwood. A middle-grade book that made me laugh. Blackwood does that thing the Muppet Show used to do where she provides jokes the adult reader is going to get even though they go right over a kid's head. Jinx is an appealing kid who's abandoned in the forest, taken in by a wizard, and learns he had magic. One of the things he can do is see the color and maybe shape of people's thoughts. So, for instance, he sees a girl thinking "pink fluffy thoughts" at a boy.

Big Little Lies, Liane Moriarty. This Australian author writes about a group of women whose kids all start kindergarten at the same time. The tales of competitive PTA moms are funny, and among many other delights, the story of modern kids trying to make a family tree for homework. (Ziggy's mom doesn't know his father's name. A classmate has two dads. Another has divorced parents who've remarried and her father's stepchild is in the same class.) Moriarty is particularly good on dialogue.

The Outsiders, S. Hinton. I know everyone else read this in high school, but I'd never read it before. I love brother stuff anyway, and Pony Boy's voice is so real and emotionally deep.

All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize. A WWII story that shows how evil touches the innocent. The book takes place in Brittany which we visited in September, including a tour of a German submarine base from which U-boats patrolled the Atlantic.

Misery, Steven King. Again, I know everyone else probably already read this, but not me. It was horrifying. I'd squeak and tell my husband, "OMG, he woke up to find her standing over him with an ax." But beyond that, King says a lot about writing, about what it's like to "fall into" a book you're working on, about the way "the boys in the basement" keep working even when your conscious thoughts fail you.

Dublin Murder Squad series, Tana French. I read all five. The books are tied together by the way French takes a minor character from the previous book and makes them the MC of the current one. Wonderful writing. Clear and specific. I'm sad that I've now read them all.

My reread: Seven Realms series, Cinda Chima. I reread the four books already on my shelf because she has a "next generation" continuation starting this spring. I like the street patter that Han Alister uses. And I like the world building. The books are strong enough that I enjoyed them just as much even though I knew how things would come out.

Mon, Dec. 14th, 2015, 03:00 pm
Reading and Writing

Writing: I finished working through the first 6 chapters of editorial feedback on my YA book. Now I need to enter them in my file and let them sit for a bit until I can judge if they made the book better or just different (and possibly incomprehensible) (and stupid).

Reading: I finished the last Tana French book, which makes me sad because those books are so good. Now I'm reading Liane Moriarty's The Hypnotist's Love Story, a title so cheesy that I feel the need to wrap the book in a brown paper cover. I really liked Moriarty's Big Little Lies. I haven't decided how I feel about this one.

Sun, Dec. 13th, 2015, 06:33 am
Review of Finders Keepers

Here's a nice review of Finders Keepers from Readers' Favorites.

Reviewed by Melinda Hills for Readers' Favorite

Stumbling across a beautiful stone in the mud by the local water pump, Cade thinks it will be the perfect gift for his mother. At home, though, it becomes the catalyst for major changes in their lives. In Finders Keepers by Dorothy A. Winsor, the heart stone is a rare and valuable gem that shows itself as special only to those gifted as Finders. Cade never knew he had this ability which he inherited from his mother and now both Cade and his mum face grave danger. After his mum’s arrest, Cade does everything he can to rescue her, but the first step is for his older brother, Roth, to get him out of town. If he is discovered, he could end up in the mines with the other Finders who are worked to death to make the miners and jewelers rich. Cade becomes involved with a girl, Shan, who is trying to track down heart stones to bring to the ancient altar in an attempt to prevent the destruction that is supposed to mark the beginning of the year 4000. When Cade inadvertently causes Shan’s friend, Jem, to be arrested, he has to take Jem’s place helping Shan locate the necessary stones. This leads them through a variety of scary encounters, but will it be enough to save them from the wrath of the gods?

Finders Keepers by Dorothy A. Winsor is a wonderful story combining great adventure and common social issues that challenge the characters to fight for their survival. To a large degree, it is a coming of age story in that Cade has to think beyond his own immediate needs and activities and make decisions based on the common good. The action is brisk, emotions are deep, and the moral message is subtle but strong, providing excellent depth for all readers, young and not so young. Great story - I loved it as an adult and think it is a wonderful book for older kids and young adults.

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