Thursday, July 26, 2007

Patricia Wood's LOTTERY a sure bet

Thousands of debut novels are launched every year. Some shine, others don't, and many leave you shaking your head that they were published at all. Here's one you're gonna love. Patricia Wood's debut novel Lottery will be released six days from now on August 2nd. Do yourself a favor and go buy a copy. You’ll be glad you did.

Lottery is a tender, uplifting story that makes you want to stand up and applaud. There is a wonderful imagination at work here with touches of narrative magic that truly make this book ‘unputdownable’. I read my copy over lunch, in the bathtub, and when I should have been working on other things. And I finished the last page with regret.

The protagonist is Perry Crandall, a universally likeable character with
an IQ of only 76. You can’t help but
root for him, especially when his grandmother dies and he's left an orphan at the age of thirty-one.
Then he wins $12 million in the lottery and every imaginable sort of buzzard lands on his doorstep determined to screw him over.

But don’t misunderstand.

This story isn’t about the money.

It’s a compelling tale about friendship, love, greed and the resilience of the human spirit, the sort of novel I predict will seduce millions of readers around the world because, simply put, it makes you feel good inside. More importantly, Lottery speaks to all of us, not just an intellectual few, and for that reason alone, this debut novel deserves all the accolades it
will inevitably receive for years and years to come.

Predicting the future with a cat?!

If you haven't already read this article, take a minute and do so. Can you imagine living in this nursing home?! I'd be diving into closets to avoid this cat every time I saw it meander around a corner. Maybe others would like to know the end is near, but I think I'd panic and start making fast-paced phone calls to everyone I could think of to say good-bye. And yet, I also see the benefit in being able to notify family of a loved one's impending death. Either way, this is eerie!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Heart tugging post

It would be hard not to like Kim Stagliano. She's a tiny dynamo of a woman who takes on more every day with her three beautiful autisic daughters than many people could even begin to imagine. She's also a writer, a good one who can flatten you with a few well put paragraphs. Read her post from today and I'm sure you'll quickly find your heart in your throat just as I did.

Monday, July 23, 2007

From 'vacation' back to revisions

I'm back from vacation, which is worthy of a post about two adults and two kids in a tent plus a wet 165 lb Newfoundland dog who won't stay out of the lake, is terrified of thunder, and sleeps on top of us where he
feels safer!
Yes, by the way, he does have his own boat, which my husband had custom built for our last Newf years ago (her name is stenciled on the other side, and as you can see, Sullivan's is on this side).

Oh, and when it comes to that nifty tent of ours on vacation, throw in upwards of 50 mosquitoes every night, 75-80 degree heat, an 8 year old who cannot understand why sneaking a frog inside at bedtime is such a big deal and NOW you've got a pretty good visual of our glamour filled week away visiting family.

Needless to say, I'm happy to be back at work on revisions, with a fresh set of ear plugs and duct tape stretching across the chasm of my office with a Do Not Disturb sign hanging from it.

Hope you're having a good summer, too.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Final cover for The Silver Compass

Here's the final cover for The Silver Compass, scheduled for publication April 1, 2008. On the back, my publisher will put all of the copy in the same font (not the italicized font shown on that one separate line in the middle), but otherwise, this is it.
I think it suits the story well, and a friend of mine in advertising explained that these simple, clean covers appeal to readers.
I hope she's right.

Now I'm back to work on revisions before leaving with my family on
a brief vacation.
I will be away all next week, returning July 23rd, and won't have access to email or my blog, so talk to you then :)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Moose on the loose

I live near a hamlet where a TV series called Northern Exposure was once filmed.
I rarely watched the show, but I know the opening credits featured a moose wandering down main street. Until today, I'd never seen one myself, but early this morning a moose walked out in front of my SUV in the hamlet and stared at me as I screeched to a halt in front him.
He was... stunning, and when he turned and slowly ambled off down the road as though he owned it, I decided it was a sign
of good luck. I know. I know. He's a lot bigger than a dragonfly, but I'm okay with that.

Monday, July 9, 2007

What every writer MUST have...

I did a phone interview last month for a regional paper about The Penny Tree and at the end, the reporter asked, "In your opinion, what's the one characteristic every writer must have, published or not?" There are many obvious answers: tenacity, a passion for writing, natural storytelling ability. But I was in a punchy mood (probably too much espresso) so I said, "A sense of humor, for many reasons."

For those of you rolling your eyes, I actually believe this, by the way. Take a look at the photo above: I can't look at these nuns without smiling. Can you? And as I do, my mind wanders and I catch myself wondering: Was it a staged photo? Or did someone take a snapshot walking by? What are their lives like? What made them choose to become nuns in the first place. And then, finally, I think to myself, I'll bet there's a good story here.

Also, as a writer facing the often endless hurdles that exist in this business, you will need a sense of humor (not to mention a network of supportive friends) or you'll eventually find yourself folding your tent and trudging off to Nepal to join a quiet group of Sherpas who know nothing about the world of publishing.

When I'm a few hundred pages into writing what originally felt like "the golden story idea" and I hear a tiny voice whisper, "Ack! Burn it already and start over," it's usually humor, more than anything else, that kicks in
at my end and nudges me
across the finish line.

This said as I sign off to unfold 52 intricate paper airplanes my son and his friend spent most of the afternoon building on the floor of my office using my freshly printed manuscript
*big tight humor-filled smile*

Saturday, July 7, 2007

The passion of whittling vs. writing

Until today, I thought I had nothing in common with my father's father.

My printer cartridge died this afternoon and I thought I had a backup downstairs in the basement. I never found it, but I did find this, a carving of a deer (or elk?) made by my grandfather in 1969. He was born in Norway in 1899 and died in Canada in 1978. I didn't know him well. He was a quiet, reclusive man (at least, that was my impression). Often when we visited, he'd spend most of his time in his little workroom, carving a variety of pieces like this one, singularly focused as he soldered metal antlers and such for each of them. He was polite. He'd say hello and ask how we were, but it was only when I snuck a look into his workroom later (when he thought he was alone) that I'd see his eyes light up with passion as he whittled and carved -- not unlike how mine do when I'm at my desk, surrounded by my 'things', deep into the creation of a story.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Manuscript revisions mess with your mind

The mind is an interesting piece of work. Consider the chart to your left. Wouldn't it be nice if an author could somehow embed a few cryptic words into his/her novel on the 1st page so when it gets picked up in a book store, potential readers not only move towards the cashier in a zombie-like state to buy it, but feel the pressing need to call everyone they know and insist they grab a copy, too?

Of course, this would create a chain reaction of sales, which would kill any need for co-op placement (or friends and family covertly moving your novel to the 'Hot Fiction' table all over the country). Wasn't something like this done years ago in movie theaters, by the way? Where they flashed 'buy popcorn' messages at lightning-like speed between the previews?
Or was that just an urban legend?

Okay, then. I'm off to work on manuscript revisions. Here. Watch me roll up my sleeves, toddle out onto the diving board, and take a leap into all of those pages spread out neck-deep around my office. As my editor and agent always say, there
are no short cuts and nothing works better than a sound
story and strong writing.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Happy birthday Canada!

Today was Canada Day, aka Canada's birthday, which means tomorrow is a stat holiday for the average Canadian (unless *ahem* you're an author working on manuscript revisions).

I love that my kids get to celebrate in a small town atmosphere where the local firetruck leads the parade and a gaggle of kids who've spent hours decorating their bikes follow. I love that the floats are home grown too, with kids riding in the back playing drums.

I rode my bike down to the main party area to check on my kids a few times. Otherwise, though, they came and went all day,
waving flags and dragging their friends through the house. For some reason, though, the noise didn't get on my nerves today
the way it sometimes does.
Happy birthday Canada!