Tuesday, November 25, 2008

"The very best time of year!"

One of my favorite things about the holidays is the time. I do my best to get whatever grading I plan to do over the break, and finish it before I go. That leaves me time to do two things: Read, and Write. I plan to spend most of the free time I have over this break doing both of those things.

I've taken a sufficient enough amount of time away, and am now ready to tackle those revisions for my WIP. At the same time, I have some reading to catch up on. Marcus Sakey's THE BLADE ITSELF, Alexandra Sokoloff's THE HARROWING, Jeffery Deaver's THE BODIES LEFT BEHIND, Lori G. Armstrong's HALLOWED GROUND, and Jason Pinter's THE MARK are sitting atop my TBR pile.

And I await Christmas time (and J.D. Rhoades, and Sean Chercover, and Toni McGee Causey, and Louise Ure, and Robert Crais, and Laura Lippman, and....) for the same reason, as I will be asking almost exclusively for books this year. Hey, any small boost I can give to the publishing biz, I plan to.

So, what are you planning to read over the break, and is your writing getting some time on the docket as well?

Rescue of the Week

As I said, I'm a dog person, because I'm allergic to cats, but it's a lot of fun just to watch them all lounging or playing in the room together, and this guy is young and full of energy. He'll need lots of care and supervision if you want to make sure your home isn't destroyed, because he isn't old enough to know what's okay and what isn't yet. Still, he'll be a lot of fun to play with, and I sure hope you'll love him and give him a good home! He's K-PAC!

*****EDIT*****: WONDERFUL NEWS!!! K-PAC has been adopted!!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Wolfpack whips Heels in Chapel Hill

Okay, I'm well aware that this has nothing to do with writing or rescued pets. I can't help it. This was a very good day to be an N.C. State Wolfpack fan, and I'm flat out enjoying every moment of it that I can.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Rescue of the Week

This lovely young lady has been named NEIA by the wonderful folks at the Wake County SPCA Adoption Center. She is cute as can be, and the perfect "medium dog" size at around 45 lbs. or so.

*****EDIT*****: WONDERFUL NEWS!! Neia has been adopted!!!

Please, if you're looking for a forever friend and you DON'T live in Wake County, please consider adopting a shelter pet before you go and buy an animal. I don't know how, but shelter pets KNOW they've been rescued. I'm convinced of it. And because of this, they are the most loving and loyal animals you'll ever find. Just think about it...

Friday, November 14, 2008

"And I, I want to thank you..."

Last night was very cool for me. I met one of all-time favorite authors last year; a man whose work I hope mine might one day be compared favorably (it ain't there yet, I know that for sure). For those who don't know of Jeffery Deaver, you are missing out. Go out and read one of his books. NOW. I'll wait.

Back? Okay, good.

So anyway, I met him at the Barnes & Noble in Chapel Hill while he was on book tour for THE SLEEPING DOLL. I told him how encouraging it was to have read THE EMPTY CHAIR, because it told me people would buy thrillers based in North Carolina, which is what I hoped to write. He gave me some encouraging words and signed my copy of his book. I went home happy and, of course, loved the new book immensely. I also went to see Michael Connelly a few days later, another great writer to whom I would love to someday be compared, and he gave me encouragement and a metaphor for writing that I'll never forget. Both were great experiences for me personally.

Flash forward to last night. Mr. Deaver's on book tour again, this time for THE BODIES LEFT BEHIND, and I went to get his latest and have him sign it (this time the Raleigh B&N, btw). And he recognized me.

Let me say that again: A NYT Bestseller I met and spoke to for less than five minutes recognized me a year later.

Now, let's be honest here. I said it was nice to see him again, and when he said, "I thought I recognized you," I sorta filled in the gaps (eager dork that I am). So he could have been playing it off just to be nice.

Doesn't matter. That was still a very cool thing for him to do, and I will always remember it. He congratulated me on the story (yep, I told him. couldn't help it). It was just a great experience.

Which brings me to my point, if you couldn't figure it out. I'm not asking a question today, I'm just giving you guys an opportunity. I am routinely amazed and humbled by how open and friendly and helpful and encouraging the Mystery Communmity is to its readers (aspiring writer or no). And that goes for the mid-list authors and the big name bestseller alike. They are all even more gracious and giving than you could ever imagine.

So, this post, and the comments section, is for anyone who'd like to to say thanks...be it readers to writers or writers to readers. Mystery Community Group Hug, I s'pose.

Monday, November 10, 2008

New Weekly Feature!!

Okay, while I want this blog to bring readers and other writers together, I also want it to do some other good. You may (or may not) have noticed that there is a distinctly non-writer link on the blog-roll to the left. It's for the Wake County SPCA.

My wife and I are HUGE believers in rescue pets. Both of our girls were rescues, one from the Harnett County shelter, and the other from the Wake SPCA.

I admit, I'm a dog lover, and I'm allergic to cats. Cats seem to know this, and seek me out whenever they can to nuzzle me and make me sneeze and get whelts and such. Still, I am an animal lover in general, so I will try to help the kitties out too.

Here's what I'm going to do:

We go by the shelter now and again, and play with the puppies and dogs for a little bit, because the dogs seem to like the attention. But we can't afford another one, so we always have to leave them (and we're heartbroken every time, trust me).

So, I'm going to post one lovable, tender, you-can't-possibly-ignore-this-face rescue pet each week, in the hopes that I can help people find that friend they may not even know they need. It's so much more humane than buying a puppy because they are already spayed or neutered and have already experienced being abandoned in some way. Giving them a loving home is one of the greatest things you can do for these wonderful and loving guys and gals.

So without further ado, this week's Rescue Pet of the Week is a two-fer:

For more information about Buttercup, call:SPCA of Wake County at (919) 772-2326 Ask for information about animal ID number A034646

At the shleter they have named her Buttercup. She is adorable! Her Buddy, Brutus, is also sweet as can be. They have a real bond, and would do better going home together. Here's Brutus:

For more information about Brutus, call:SPCA of Wake County at (919) 772-2326 Ask for information about animal ID number A035850

I don't care who you are, you spend some time in a room with those two lovable (and gentle) giants, your heart will melt.

Friday, November 7, 2008

"Another [Great] one gone...."

I'm posting twice today (okay, this week) because I didn't get around to yesterday, and this is one that needs to be said.

I've never met Michael Crichton. And I'm really, really going to miss him.

I can still remember lying in bed in Avery Dorm at Lees-McRae College with this new book, AIRFRAME, thinking, "I'll read for an hour or so, then go to bed...early class tomorrow."

Noon the next day, I finished it and went, "WOW." I mean, the building of airplanes? Seriously, the man can make the politics behind the building of airplanes so entertaining that I physically can't put the book down???

Yep. And now he's gone.

I read over in the comments section of The Kill Zone that Mr. Joe Moore believed the things in JURASSIC PARK were possible after reading the book. I'm here to tell you, Mr. Crichton has me convinced, thoroughly, that Global Warming is never going to be the issue Gore makes it out to be, simply because of STATE OF FEAR.

Yes, he's that good a writer. Don't believe me? Fine.

Read it. You'll see. Farewell Mr. Crichton, Ms. Flinn, and Mr. Hillerman. The mystery community is hurting from the recent loss of you three, but we will miss you and all of your unrealized/gone-too-soon works most of all. God Bless.

"Do you remember that day?"

Stephen King once gave a lecture on writing, and someone was nice enough to put it up on Youtube for the rest of us. I watched a portion of it the other night, and he said something that stuck with me. I'm paraphrasing, but it was something to the effect of, "We all remember that first time, when we were reading something that had been published, and we went, 'Wow. That is truly awful...I can do better than that!'"

You know why that stuck with me? Because I can remember exactly where I was, and what I was reading. I had just finished two books I really liked, THE TWELFTH CARD and DECEPTION POINT. And then I read this third one, which I won't name, by a different author, who I won't name, and I thought, "Geez, this is from a NYT Bestseller? Hell, I can do better than that."

I know how arrogant that sounds. And I'm also smart enough to realize that I just finished my first novel while this writer is still hitting that NYT list consistently. Doesn't matter. I still think I can do better (although I've now realized that I couldn't do better my first time around...I think it's good, but I can do better than it, too).

So I guess my question to all of you is this:

1) If you're a writer, did you ever have that moment? I don't want you to name the book or author, but can you remember which specific book you were reading that made you say ,"Yep, I can do better"?

2) If you're a reader, have you ever hit one by a NYT Bestseller and thought, "Man, they mailed it in on that one"? Have you, even if you never intend to write anything, ever read a published novel from a respected and/or famous author and figured you could do better than that effort?

PS - Yes, I'm well aware that I am as yet unpublished, that someone will read this, then see my first published short story in Spinetingler and think, "Pfft, I could do better than that." And should I ever get a book deal, there will be aspiring writers out there who read it and think the same thing. I won't be upset or embarrassed. I'll just be excited to read what they have to write, because my thinking that is what finally got me to do it, and frankly I just think the world needs more good books.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

"I dunno man. That sounds like...a lotta work!"

NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month. Every year, from November 1st to November 30th, people across the country will sit down and endeavor to write 50,000 word novels in one month. It's a phenomenal feat, because you have to write every day. All across the blogosphere over the next few days, you will read of people challenging one another, encouraging one another, cheering for one another.

I think it's great. I'm not doing it.

Please understand, I'm not taking some weird stand against NaNoWriMo. I really do think it's great, and I really would love to do it. But I'm not. I just finished my first draft of my first novel (you know, the one I think is great that agents will probably tell me was good training for future writings). I'm letting it breathe before going back and attacking the revision process. Perfect time to get started on the second in NaNoWriMo, yeah?


And here's why: 50,000 words and a complete storyline requires two things...AIC and the ability to fly by the seat of your pants.

AIC (ass in chair) I can do. "Pantsing" I can't.

I am a plotter through and through, and I just can't do the pants thing. I think those of you that can are far more creative than I. The sheer emotional stability to hang on breakneck as you trail yur protagonist, weeping as the sorrowful times hit, elated as your heores succeed, and all of this while cataloguing what happens to someone only you know and love. I can't do it. I'm too emotionally invested. I gotta know what happens, and when. If I don't, I'm all to pieces with concern, or guilt, or something.

As I said, you'll see lots of posts where people are encouraging each other to do NaNoWriMo. This isn't one of those. This is to console those of you who look at it and say, "Man, I really want to, but I don't think I can do it this time around."

HOWEVER...I've given you my reason (and it's not, "But I don't WANNA!!!"). If you aren't doing NaNoWriMo, tell me why. Those of you who are doing it are also more than welcome, btw. Tell us why you love it, and maybe it'll spark some of the I-can'ts to become I-wills.