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Viewing Blog: So many books, so little time, Most Recent at Top
Results 26 - 50 of 4,182
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Author of the young-adult thriller Shock Point, as well as five other mysteries and thrillers.
Statistics for So many books, so little time

Number of Readers that added this blog to their MyJacketFlap: 37
26. Haven't I seen you someplace before? Yet another dueling cover with a suitcase


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leaving unknownthe best of times
Unknown-1the girl she used to be
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27. Haven't I seen you someplace before? Yet another dueling cover of creepy woods



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28. Haven't I seen you someplace before? Dueling covers of picture frames

I think the picutre frame idea is particularly attractive if you are writing about events that shape a family.

I am paricularly interested in Inside the O'Briens because 10 years ago I wrote a book about Huntington's that unfortunately didn't sell. The fact that it wasn't a mystery might have had something to do with that. In writing that book, I came to know a lot of families with Huntington's. It's a terrible disease that strikes you down in your prime. There's no cure, and each of your children has a 50-50 chance of inheriting it.

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29. Risks and rewards

2015 is my year for risks.  I have risked speaking up.  I have risked grappling in a tournament with people who were 20-40 years younger than me.  And last week I took an Urban Escape and Evasion class in Los Angeles.  It was amazing/scary/fun.

The first day, we learned how to get out of duct tape, zip ties, rope, and even handcuffs.




If you're duct-taped, hold your arms close together, then bring your hands high over head and and hit your elbows hard across your own ribs.  I learned the hard way that if your arms are too far apart, this doesn't work. This trick also works for zip ties, although it can hurt your wrists (which is why the instructor made "Wonder Woman" bracelets out of duct tape first).  If that fails, try rubbing your bound hands on a sharp edge like a door..  Above, author Hannah Jayne demonstrates the correct technique for breaking duct tape, as well as how you can use paracord (a lot of preppers replace their shoelaces with paracord, or wear it as a bracelet) to saw through paracord by bicycling madly in the air.  Later, we practiced shimming or picking our handcuffs using bobby pins or broken off barrettes with pillow cases over our heads.



Here's what happens if you get handcuffs/duct tape/zip ties etc. wrong:



We also learned how to pick locks and steal cars, although we didn't practice that last one.



We learned how to figure out if you are being followed and how to weaponize anything.  We learned that most people think they are in a survival situation if they miss lunch.

The last day, we were kidnapped, hooded, stun gunned (I still have marks!), and then your captors go for a “smoke break” and you have to use everything you just learned to make your way to a certain point, collecting information and photos along the way.

We learned that if you are full of adrenaline, you dont feel as much.  At the start of the exercise, we got caught in a parking lot surrounded by 10 or 11 foot high chain link fences.  And we were being chased by a real-life security guard.  Hannah started climbing the fence, which meant I had to, too.  At the top, the chain links had been cut off, forming a pointy barrier.  I have some crazy bruises, one for each point, on one leg.

But we made it. We had been to GoodWill the night before and cached some outfits. (It is very hard to cache anything in Los Angeles and then go back and find it the next day. You always have eyes on you, and cacheing arouses curiosity).  First I was a nurse (I even looked like a nurse even though it was just a plain pink Tshirt layered over a white Tshirt, and Hannah was a goth girl.  Then Hannah was pregnant with some of her previous clothes, and I was her churchy-looking mom.  Finally, we were both tourists.



Even though we were hunted by 10 people who had our picture, and we had to stay with proscribed boundaries, we were not caught!

I'm so glad I took this risk.  I turn 56 in two weeks and I'm pretty pround of myself.

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30. Haven't I seen you before? Yet another dueling cover of a girl with a suitcase


Check out some more suitcase toting girls here.

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31. Haven't I seen you someplace before? Dueling covers of suns

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32. Haven't I seen you before? Dueling covers of ladies with suitcases

Just saw the cover for the first one, but it reminded me of so many other books.  And Jennie Shortridge's book shows a guitar, but I believe it was originally the exact same image as the one on Jennifer Lauck's book - until she pointed out that her character says she has never owned a suitcase. (Edited to add Illegally Blonde - looks like all they changed was the color of the suitcase and oddly the bows on her shoulders. Note that Leaving Unknown shows the exact same road.)
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leaving unknownthe best of times
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33. Haven't I seen you before? Dueling profiles, fonts, color schemes in Jackaby and Burial Rites

Noticed these sitting side-by-side in my ebooks library on my iPad.

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34. Haven't I seen you someplace before? Not just dueling covers, identical covers

I feel that often the covers that Amazon puts on its book are unoriginal, but seriously, couldn't they have done better than to use the EXACT SAME image as another book?

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35. A distinctive voice: The County of Ice Cream Star and The Bullet

I am an excellent plotter. I'm pretty good with characters. But voice? I never really feel like I have one.

Two new books have recently come to my attention that are excellent examples of voice.

AR-AI698_ICECRE_DV_20150203133630One is The County of Ice Cream Star by Sandra Newman. It's post apocolyptic and begins:
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My Trouble Its Beginning: Tober 2
My name be Ice Cream Fifteen Star. My brother be Driver Eighteen Star, and my ghost brother Mo-Jacques Five Star, dead when I myself was only six years old. Still my heart is rain for him, my brother dead of posies little.

My mother and my grands and my great-grands been Sengle pure. Our people be a tarry night sort, and we skinny and long. My brother Driver climb a tree with only hands, because our bones so light, our muscles fortey strong. We flee like a dragonfly over water, we fight like ten guns, and we be bell to see. Other children go deranged and unpredictable for our love.
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Beautiful use of langugage, but also a bit of a struggle to understand. You have to decide if you are willing to read that for 400-plus pages. It helps once you translate a few of her basic words, such as bell = beautiful.

I decided it was worth it and am really liking the book.

UnknownThe other is The Bullet by Mary Louise Kelly (a name you may recognize if you are a long-time NPR listener).
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The Bullet
One

My name is Caroline Cashion, and I am the unlikely heroine of this story. Given all the violence to come, you were probably expecting someone different. A Lara Croft type. Young and gorgeous, sporting taut biceps and a thigh holster, right? Admit it.

Yes, all right, fine, I am pretty enough. I have long, dark hair and liquid, chocolate eyes and hourglass hips. I see the way men stare. But there’s no holster strapped to these thighs. For starters, I am thirty-seven years old. Not old, not yet, but old enough to know better.

Then there is the matter of how I spend my days. That would be in the library, studying the work of dead white men. I am an academic, a professor on Georgetown University’s Faculty of Languages and Linguistics. My specialty is nineteenth-century France: Balzac, Flaubert, Sten­dhal, Zola. The university is generous enough to fly me to Paris every year or so, but most of the time you’ll find me in the main campus library, glasses sliding down my nose, buried in old books. Every few hours I’ll stir, cross the quad to deliver a lecture, scold a student requesting extra time for an assignment—and then I return to my books. I read with my legs tucked beneath me, in a soft, blue armchair in a sunny corner of my office nook on the fourth floor. Most nights you will also find me there, sipping tea, typing away, grading papers. Are you getting a sense for the rhythm of my days? I lead as stodgy a life as you can imagine.
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Hm, not sure the voice works as well as this one.  "I have long, dark hair and liquid, chocolate eyes and hourglass hips." It's hard for me to imagine liking anyone who would describe themselves like that. On the other hand, good reviews, including a star from PW, and I love a good thriller.

Have you read a book lately with an interesting voice?

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36. Haven't I seen you someplace before? Dueling covers of paper cutouts

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37. Two months into 2015: my year of risk

My resolution for 2015 is a single word: risk. I'll be turning 56 this year. The opportunities I will have to take physical risks are narrowing.  I also want to take social risks, and emotional risks, and risks with my writing - all kinds of risks.

So far, I've had a frank conversation with someone I respect but who also used an exaggerated campy "gay" voice to make some points.  I think it was eye-opening for both of us.

And in three weeks, I'm signed up to do that Urban Escape and Evasion class, which includes a day spent trying to elude pursuers after you are "kidnapped."

This past weekend, I competed in a Brazilian Jiujitsu (grappling tournament).  In this tournament, we were split up by gender, but in my grappling classes I grapple with men, usually only with men since none of the other women in my school regularly take BJJ class.  One of my regular partners is 228 pounds, which let me tell you is a lot of weight when someone centers it and pins you.

For a long, long time, I said there was no way I would grapple past what I needed to do for whatever color of sash I was working on in kung fu. It felt too ob-gyn-y. Too rape-y. You couldn't tell me that one of the best positions was on your back with your legs wrapped around some guy's waist.  It seemed too vulnerable and weird.

Guys will often grow up wrestling with their friends.  None of the girls I know ever did that.

But then my kung fu school started offering BJJ classes four times a week and I started going to them. I am still don't have a very good offense. And at  my gender and my age and my weight compared to many of my partners, I mostly play defense.  But I have a damn good defense.
BJJ Tournament april looks dominant
BJJ Tournament April refuses tap
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BJJ Tournament Syd
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38. Haven't I see you someplace before? Dueling misty forested mountains

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39. Do you live in the South? Can you help me find Clem and SLY?

back of $5front of $5
Isn't this amazing! A writer in Cummings, Georgia (Meghan Harker, http://exquisitelyodd.com/) found it in her till at work. She posted it on Twitter and a friend alerted me. I traded her $5 bills - only mine was in a copy of Girl, Stolen.

Can you help me find Clem & her friend SLY? I would guess Clem and SLY are in middle school. I originally thought Clem was short for Clementine, but a librarian in Georgia says Clem is a pretty common boy's name there.
April and Jenny KOIN Clem Sly
After I put it up on Twitter and Facebook, I heard from KOIN-TV. Reporter Jenny Hannson and her photographer Ole interviewed me Monday for a story that will run on Friday (and be online) about the $5 bill found in Georgia with instructions that it be used to buy a copy of Girl, Stolen. There's a chance the story may air in Georgia as well.

April and Ole KOIN Clem and Sly croppedI would love to find Clem and SLY and give them and their school library some books!  And if you could help, I'd give you books, too!

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40. Haven't I seen you someplace before? Dueling typefaces plus black and white and red all over

Both are YAs. I think it was those loopy Ls that caught my eye. I wonder how long it will before teens won't be able to read cursive?  Note the similiarity between the hands, and that all the art looks like paper cutouts.
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41. Haven't I seen you someplace before? Dueling covers of neon signs

Must have been something in the air...
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42. Haven't I seen you someplace before? Ever more dueling covers of scary woods

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43. Haven't I seen you someplace before? More dueling covers of colorful dots

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44. Being a writer is a great job for a naturally nosy person

My vanity license plate reads

TUVWXY:

In California, where you can have up to 8 characters, it would read:

RSTUVWXY

So do you know what it means?

I'm nosy!

Although I like to think of it as "genuinely interested in people."

I'm starting on a sequel to Girl, Stolen. When I wrote that book, which is about a blind girl who is accidentally kidnapped when someone steals her step-mom's car, I was working full time and had a kid in middle school. I had zero free time. So I read books about what it's like to be blind and did research on the Internet.

Now I have the freedom to talk to people. Today I'm interviewing someone who is blind and here are some of the questions I want to ask:


  • Do you know Braille? How important is it? How many blind people really know Braille?

  • What apps do you use/what do you they do? Can you show me?

  • How has your life changed in the last five years in terms of technology?

  • Do you cook? How do you see how fine the pieces are when chopping or know if things are done?

  • Open the freezer - how do you know what’s in it?

  • How do you sweep or keep floor clean and know it is?

  • How would you walk in straight line across crosswalk without the cues of the sidewalk?

  • How would you find the bathroom in a strange building?

  • How would you find your locker at school and spin it?

  • Do you do any sports?

  • What smells do you notice the most?

  • Are there sayings people say all the time, like Love Is Blind or getting embarrassed about “see”?

  • What’s one thing people always get wrong about what it's like to be blind?

  • What’s one thing people don’t realize?

  • What would scare you the most?

Anything you think I should add?

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45. Where did you come from, Martha?

Martha Bond Henry 1881 This is my great grandmother Martha L. Bond Henry. Family lore has it that before she married my great grandfather she was married to a man named Carroll. There was a daughter named Sarah, a baby who died. Mr. Carroll died. Marha married my great grandfather.  Sarah shows up in one census and is gone by the next. That same family lore has it that she went back to her father's people.

After my mom died in the fall of 2013, I found this tintype of Martha in the photos my parents had kept. My dad had written a little bit about his family, but Martha died before he was born and he knew nothing about her past.  He quoted part of an old note of my grandmother's saying "She was a beautiful woman, but she had no liberty to express her personality. She could not read. She was gentle and sweet in her disposition and did as she was told."

(i'm pretty sure Grandma Effie would never have called herself a feminist, but she was one all the same. My dad used to talk about a job his dad had in the 1920s. When he felt called to preach, my grandmother took over the job. For half the salary. Because she was a woman. Even though my grandfather wasn't making any money.)

After I found the tintype, cue months of obsessive Ancestry.com searches. I spent months chasing a Martha Jane Bond born in the same year, but it turned out she wasn't my grandmother. On the other side of the country, a woman was researching her husband's relatives from the mid-1800s - including a family named Bond. Thanks to Ancestry's DNA tests and a lot of joint sleuthing of places and names, DNA and records, it seems very likely we share great-great grandparents.

I'm not sure why, but it's very satisfying to have solved this 15-month puzzle.  

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46. 2015: the year of risk

I used to make elaborate New Year's Resolutions with 20, 30, even 40 things I was going to change, do, fix.  I would be thinner and a better friend, run faster and pray more.

Often, the only thing that changed on that list was the year at the top.

This year, my resolution was a single word: risk. I'm increasingly aware of my own mortality. Time is flying by and I don't want to say "If only I had."

I got a chance to act on my resolution only a few days into the new year. A man I don't know well but respect often uses a series of funny accents as he makes his points:  New York.  Russian.  Etc.

And one is a big campy gay voice.

That day, I looked around the room, trying to see if it made anyone else as uncomfortable as me. But I felt like I was alone. Still, I waited until everyone else had gone and told him how I felt.

The conversation took some interesting turns I hadn't expected. I think it was eye-opening for both of us.

And afterward I was glad I had taken that risk.

Screen Shot 2015-01-19 at 4.19.04 PMIn a few months I'm going to be taking a class called Urban Escape and Evasion (I snagged the photo from their web site). You spend two days learning how to survive in a dangerous chanotic urban environment (say after a terrorist attack or being kidnapped in a foreign country), then on the third day you are  “kidnapped: hooded, cuffed and taken somewhere dark and uncomfortable to start your day. You will be expected to escape, find your own transportation legally using your social engineering skills, and make your way to the first cache location, where directions for a series of tasks using all your new skills await.Meanwhile, expert trackers will be hunting you down, and if they catch you, you will have to start again from a more distant location."

I know this is going to stressful. As a writer, I'll be an outlier, surrounded by preppers and ex-military.  My guess is I'll be older and one of very few women.

But for the risk, I'll have the reward of having so much amazing writing material. So it will be worth it.

Are you taking any risks this year?

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47. Haven't I seen you someplace before? Dueling covers of girls in red coats leaving

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48. Haven't I see you someplace before? More dueling nape covers

There is something so alluring about the nape of the neck and a bun. Just begs to be taken down.
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49. Haven't I seen you someplace before? Dueling covers of paper on blue background

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50. What I learned from Darcy Pattison's Novel Revision Retreat

I've written over 25 books. Seventeen have been published, with two more coming out this year and three more in the works.

You'd think I'd have this whole novel-writing thing down. You would be wrong.

In January, I took Darcy Pattison's Novel Revision Retreat Workshop. It lasted three days and there was a lot of pre-work. Before it even started, you had to read two books on writing, and read three manuscripts from people you would be in a small group with during the conference. And of course you had to have your own book done so you could finish it with them.

Girl I Used to Be Deal
cropped Nora FBI hatsI took the manuscript for The Girl I Used to Be, which I sold last Memorial Day and I finished writing the day I needed to turn it in to my partners. The book is super important to me, not just for all the usual reasons, but because I put my mom, Nora Henry, in it. I gave the character the name Nora, and she looks, acts and talks like Nora. Her house, her beliefs, her favorite things - they are all in the book. I have no idea if this is a good idea or not, but my desire is that people will fall in love with the Nora in the book and realize a bit what a loss it is that she is no longer in this world.

I learned so much at the workshop. One was that there was a decided lack of conflict in the early chapters. In the book, the main character is mainly trying to figure out who killed her parents. It's not a thriller (which is what I usually write) where she is on the run, but rather a mystery where she tries to collect clues. So in the last two weeks, I worked to put conflict in those spots - or cut them.

I also realized I needed to call out emotions more.

And that I had an opportunity for a symbolic object - in this case, a necklace that Nora gives the main character - and I didn't use it at all.

I realized my final scene did not make it clear that the character had come full circle, even while she had changed internally. Now her epiphany is there on the page.

All this and I haven't even talked about Darcy's most famous idea for revision - the shrunken manuscript.

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 10.32.34 AMYou don't even need to go a retreat to use Darcy's methods. You could/should buy this book. And yes, I know I look a little crazed, but I mean it!

But if do get a chance to go, take it!
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