It's about adventure! Life, Scouting, Family, writing what else is there?
UPDATED INTRO 4 JULY 2019:
Just a little about me. I've been married for 27 years and currently live in Southern California, but I grew up in New Hampshire.
I've got 2 kids, a 17 yrs old and a 12 yr old. Both are boys. Nuff said.
I work as a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. I enjoy my job a lot.
I love to write, but since I've been so involved with the Boy Scouts program since 2015 (now Scouts BSA since girls were invited to come on board) I haven't written much. I hope to get back to more writing soon, as I'm scaling back my BSA commitment.
I like to get out in nature, take walks around Castaic Lake, drink coffee and watch football.
Here's a little bi about my zodiac.
GEMINI: Gemini, the sign of the Twins, is dual-natured, elusive, complex and contradictory. On the one hand it produces the virtue of versatility, and on the other the vices of two-facedness and flightiness. The sign is linked with Mercury, the planet of childhood and youth, and its subjects tend to have the graces and faults of the young. When they are good, they are very attractive; when they are bad they are more the worse for being the charmers they are. Like children they are lively, and happy, if circumstances are right for them, or egocentric, imaginative and restless.
Their good qualities are attractive and come easily to them. They are affectionate, courteous, kind, generous, and thoughtful towards the poor and suffering - provided none of the activities resulting from expressing these traits interferes too greatly with their own lives and comforts.
Geminians can be successful in many walks of life though their general characteristics tend to make them unreliable. They are often skilled manipulators of language, in speech and writing, and may be: debaters, diplomats (though in politics they are more interested in theory than practice), orators, preachers (brilliant rather than profound), teachers, authors, poets, journalists, or lawyers.
This is me. I am a Gemini. Pure, Raw, passionate.
The NEW focus of this blog is to share my adventures, scouting adventures, book reviews, thoughts, opinions, and writing adventures from actual writing, writing/editing tips, marketing, research. I'll get there.
Find me at:
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Previous GRATITIOUS Warning, that I decided to keep in case I post about something that might offend.
I intend to be open, honest, and forthright. No topic is off limits from religion to you name it, I'm going there. If you think you might be offended...back up now - this blog isn't for you. For those who "dare" check out the "Gemini Rising..."
|I just got done reading this international romance and I enjoyed it! Here's my review...
Book Review for: “To Love A Hero”
Written by: Mona Risk
Risk crafts a sharp, international romance with “To Love A Hero.” Set in contemporary Belarus, Risk draws on the exotic locale to paint a modern romance between two highly driven people who crash into each other head long, sending sparks all over Minsk.
Dr. Cecile Lornier is hired to help establish a chemical lab to aid the Belarusians in cleaning up their environment. As soon as she steps off the plane in Minsk, she’s awed by the majestic setting and nearly crashes into the Major General of Belarus, Sergi Fedorin. Sergi is immediately taken with Cecile, and she with him.
As Cecile embraces the project, eager to prove her worth to the Belarusians, Sergi makes his interest known. Despite her better judgment, Cecile falls for Sergi’s charms and mixes business with pleasure. After a night of passion, the new lovers realize they’ll have to keep their affair a secret if they want the clean-up project to succeed. It’s a secret that isn’t easy to keep as Sergi’s nemesis hounds him and Cecile to the point of breaking. Pressure builds not only from outside forces, but from internal sources as Cecile believes her and Sergi’s worlds might be too far apart to make things work between them. Can Cecile and Sergi embrace the flames of love they’ve ignited, or will they be forced to put their relationship aside to keep their project from failing?
Risk writes a sharp, contemporary romance that grabs the reader as soon as Cecile sets foot off the plane. “To Love A Hero,” is an apt title; the hero, Sergi Fedorin, is admired by the people of Belarus and he desperately desires to clean up the county’s environment.
The plot is solid. The international setting is intriguing. The pacing is pitch perfect, slowing down at the right intervals so the reader can get a deep breath before accelerating again.
Risk’s love scenes are graphic and tasteful, capturing the deep feelings Cecile and Sergi have for each other. Cecile is a likable heroine and her flaw is her biggest strength – her dedication to those things she believes passionately in. Sergi is a man who captures a certain nobility even though he isn’t.
“To Love A Hero,” has a nice, original twist in that it’s set in Belarus, a country that isn’t heard of much. This romance is an exotic escape that will have the reader breathless as they turn the page.
|The Golden Gate Bridge. Scenic. Wide. Beautiful. Gateway to California Wine Country. These are some words that come to mind when I think of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Mind you, I'm not native to California. I first saw the Golden Gate Bridge when my husband and I took 13 month old Andrew up to visit his aunt who had a house in Lake County, in Lakeport, just north of the California counties, Sonoma and Napa. I can't begin to describe it. It was BIG. LARGE. Awe inspiring. It seemed to span FOREVER. It stood tall and proud, majesticly over the bay it watched, keeping silent vigil and inspiring...romance.
Juliet, my muse, whispered in my ear. Write. I envisioned a tale that took place right before World War II, in Napa. A young 18 year old man, heir to his family's well respected winery, falls in love with an exotic woman and then is drafted into the war. His love story with her unfolds in the last halycon days before the war. They have a passionate affair and then he's gone, leaving her to deal with his reluctant family.
Damn it, I didn't have a thing to write on. No napkin, no paper, no iPhone to put notes on. I still may write the story in the near future.
The Golden Gate Bridge is a wonderful setting for a romantic story. The view from one end of the bay to another is wonderful. And it really is the gateway to California wine country. Once you pass the bridge, in 10 minutes you're in Sonoma country. And what's more romantic than wine? **wink**
Just a little history:
Joseph Strass designed the bridge. He saw the site in 1919 and was inspired. Between 1919 and 1933, he drafted designs and went through the political processes to get the money to build the bridge. Golden Gate Bridge construction commenced on January 5, 1933 and lasted four and a half years.
For me, the Golden Gate Bridge embodies California romance.
|Ah, the smell of fresh lilacs - crisp, sweet, clean. I miss them.
Did I ever mention that my favorite flower is the lilac?
Growing up in New Hampshire, every April/May/June the lilac bushes would grow and bloom, sending their sweet smells into the air. I found them soothing, and reassuring. Yes, things changed throughout the year, but always in the springtime, the lilacs would come out and bring a small smile to my face.
My grandmother had several bushes in her backyard, both purple and white, but mainly you find purple. Lilacs grow in the spring months. Their blooms only last about a month and then they go away to come back the following year. I loved growing up with lilacs. Surprisingly, I don't use them much in my writing.
Flowers are very inspirational in romance writing. I like using roses, jasmine (do they count?) gardenias, and lavender. I don't use lilacs simply because they are seasonal and very rarely do one of my romance stories take place in the spring.
I think flowers help to highten the romance of a story. They express sweet sentiments, like "I care about you," and of course, "I love you." The muse always challenges me to find a place to put flowers in my writing. Do you use flowers in your writing? How so? I What context?
There's inspiration all around us. Flowers can mean so many things. For me, lilacs remind me of home and of the fun times playing in my grandmother's back yard. Find inspiration in the small things around you.
|Nothing sets a romantic scene like wine. My husband and I used to sit on our porch at our little table and sip a glass, just hanging out, enjoying the company. It was relaxing. Two kids later we rarely get a chance to do that!
Wine has been around since, well forever. The earliest wine production was in Georgia and Iran, if you can believe that, dating back to 6000 BC. Since, wine has been found from Egypt to China and soon took a role in most ceremonial events.
Not surprising, wine was predominant in classical Greece and Rome. It was probably safer to drink than the water as it underwent some type of purification. The Catholic church came to use it in their early rituals and they still do today, however it was frowned upon in medieval Muslim society.
The French, of course, have turned wine making into an art. They have a rich history of blending grapes varietals. Germany also produces wine, but mostly sweet Rieslings and ice wine. Just recently I had an ice wine from Canada that was very good.
In America, specifically, in California, most vintners don’t mix varietals, keeping a bottle wine the same grape. Everyone has their own technique, and pairing wine with food can be as much as drinking it.
I prefer red wines myself. I find them more full bodied. I’m picky about my chardonnay, but I do enjoy a good Riesling and Gewürztraminer.
What makes wine special in writing? Wine is relaxing. People drop their guard a little when enjoying a glass. Their more prone to open about themselves. A scene in a story where a man and woman have a glass can be made into a good character driven scene where they find out something about the other they didn’t know.
When working on character scenes, including a glass of wine could be fun. It’s a good for a writer to connect with readers and characters to connect with each other.
In a future post, I’ll take a look a German white wines and how much fun they can be. I hope this inspires your muse to have a glass during your next project!
|Alison Weir is a historical author that I really enjoy. She infuses her writing with little behind the scenes happenings that make history fun!
Book Review for “The Children of Henry VIII”
Written by: Alison Weir
Weir weaves a haunting tale of lost innocence in demanding times as Henry VIII’s heirs to his legacy make their way through persecution, intrigue, and deception. Weir tells each heir’s story with honesty and compassion against the conflicting religious backdrop and fanaticism of their father’s making. Edward VI embraces the new Protestant religion, but because of his minority, has to deal with a regency council. His sister, Mary, daughter of Katherine of Aragon, believes Catholicism is the true religion. She’s just as passionate about her religion as Edward is of his. Then there’s Jane Grey and Elizabeth Tudor, heirs to a Protestant religion which could prove their downfalls. Weir examines each of their actions and gives the reader a fascinating look into this dark period of Tudor history.
When Henry VIII dies, his son, Edward, who is nine, ascends to the throne. A regency council and Lord Protector, his uncle, Thomas Seymour, rule for him until he’s of age to rule for himself. Edward is well educated, but cold and aloof in his personality. He embraces the new Protestant religion founded by his father, and institutes reforms that are well received by England’s citizens. His relationship with his thirty-year-old sister, Mary, is strained since she embraces Catholicism. Edward is fifteen when he begins to assert himself, but just when he’s primed to take over the reigns of kingship, he’s felled by what appears to be consumption. His Protector, now John Dudley, appears to have poisoned him, worsening his condition. Edward dies before the promise of his reign can be realized.
John Dudley, fearing Mary’s stanch Catholicism is bad for the country, makes Edward name Lady Jane Grey as his heir. She is the oldest daughter of Francis Brandon, who is in turn, the daughter of Mary Tudor, Henry VIII’s younger sister. In Henry’s will he named Mary Tudor and her heirs in line for the throne after his heirs.
Unfortunately, the tide of support is against Jane. Mary claims her right of queenship behind the will of the English people. A reluctant queen, Jane is sent to the tower. John Dudley is executed and Mary assumes the throne.
The affairs of the realm had been neglected since Edward’s death. Mary forms a council and looks for a husband, realizing she has a duty to produce an heir for England. She promises no major changes in worship, but brings back Catholicism to the court. Soon, Mary is wedded to Phillip of Spain. It is the first of many faux pas committed by her. Her subjects don’t approve of their Spanish bridegroom. Phillip stays long enough to believe she’s with child, and then leaves to attend to his other affairs. Mary reinstates the old hearsay laws from the 1400’s and begins burning Protestants at the stake. This earns her the nickname, “Bloody Mary.” Weir notes the nickname is ironic since Mary is quite agreeable in person.
Unfortunately for Mary, she proves not to be with child. After a long separation from Phillip, he returns, only to leave weeks afterwards. Mary believes she’s with child again, but she’s not. Her ill health takes a toll on her, and she dies in November 1558. Her sister, Elizabeth, ascends to the throne.
Elizabeth has had a troubled life up to this point. Well educated, she also receives life lessons that sharpens her intuition. After her father dies, she goes to live with Katherine Parr and her new husband, Thomas Seymour. Thomas’s advances toward Elizabeth are inappropriate and force Elizabeth to leave her step-mother’s care. Elizabeth is devastated by this. During Edward’s reign, Elizabeth is left alone, but when Mary comes to the throne, Elizabeth must celebrate mass to keep her head. Like a skilled manipulator, Elizabeth avoids intrigue that would harm her. After stints in the tower and house arrest under her sister’s rule, Elizabeth comes to the throne. She immediately stops burning Protestants at the stake.
Weir’s writing never lingers. The books moves at a fast pace as she reveals little tidbits into Henry’s heirs. History comes alive under her storytelling. The Tudor children were never so passionate, compelling, or alive as they are in Weir’s skilled hands.
|Well this Wednesday, I'm a bit all over the place, reassessing my priorities and getting in touch with my romantic. Thanks for putting up with my ramblings.
Here's some items from the Writing/Publishing World.
From Publisher's Weekly:
Ebooks are picking up. "Books on Board" has grown into one of the largest independent e-book retailers in the country, offering more than 400,000 e-book titles. Both Amazon and Barnes and Noble have gotten back into the eBook business and with the Kindle growing in popularity, so are eBooks.
eBooks are green. No paper waste. With some readers you can set the font. Readers are easy to carry. You can get an ebook instantly.
From Publisher's Weekly
Dan Sinker—founder, editor, Web designer and chief technologist of CellStories.net, a new digital reading venture that offers short narrative content to readers via their cellphones—believes that companies like Amazon and Sony have it all wrong. The future of digital reading, says Sinker, is the cellphone, not dedicated reading devices like the Kindle and the Sony Reader.
I"d be curious to see how this is. There's an Amazon Kindle App for the IPhone - does anyone have it?
What's trending right now? Taken from Literary Agent Rachelle Gardner's Blog.
Memoir is out unless you're famous.
Chick lit is dead.
Literary fiction doesn't sell.
Nobody wants books over 100k words.
Chick Lit had a good run and I don't think it's that dead, but quite honestly, I never read it. I do know a bunch of literary agents are sticklers for word counts. Especially with new authors who aren't so proven or tested. I can't comment on Memoir writing, it is simply not my forte.
I'm getting in touch with my romantic roots. So what inspires my romantic muse? My Juno? I like international settings. I think that's why I enjoyed Mona's book so much. My book, "The Wolf's Torment" is setting in Constanta, which is in Romania on the coast of the Black Sea. My current novel I'm working on takes place in Budapest Hungary. I'm getting a flash a inspiration. Most all know how to write, so I'm going to back off tips and stragetries, per se, and look for inspirational posts. And inspiration can be found anywhere - the sea, a river, a gently running brook, flowers, wine, stars, a castle, music, yes, inspiration can be found in some of the most obvious places and some not so obvious places.
|Plan on writing an action/adventure short story or a novel? Here are some elements to consider when drafting your story together.
When one hears "Action/Adventure," the pulse- pounding James Bond cames to mind. Ian Fleming's novels are fast paced, plot driven, and give Bond a "quest" for him to prove his worthiness. All these are essential elements to telling an action/adventure story. Other notable action/adventure authors include Janet Evanovich and Pat Cornwall.
PLOT Most action/adventure stories have a plot that's based on events and action, as opposed to a character driven plot. (Where the character is motivated to learn something about his/herself.) Plots should be unpredicable, making the readers guess as to what is coming next.
PACE Action/Adventure stories are fast paced, moving from event to event quickly, hardly leaving the reader time to breathe.
SETTING Settings (time and place) are clearly established. Usually adventures take place in an exotic type setting. You can have historical settings, as well. The better researched and defined, the easier it is to picture the story's setting in the reader's mind.
HERO/HEROINE The action/adventure hero is not confined to being a man anymore, but the goal of the hero/heroine is the same: to go a quest to prove their worthiness. The hero has a moral code they won't compromise. For example, they won't kill unless in self defense.The hero has a least one exceptional skill. They may be an expert marksman, or run real fast. They may have exceptional vision. This skill helps them along their quest.
COMPLICATIONS The main complications to the hero is the immediate threat of physical danger. This heighens the action.
SUPPORTING CAST The hero has a good cast in support of the story. Everyone has a "defined" role. There's a best friend, a villian, an informant. The stronger the supporting cast, the stronger the story.
DESCRIPTIONS What embodies action is the description of it. What's a more effective description:#1 - Bond ran toward the helipad?#2 - Bond raced toward the helipad?
One word - one descriptive word choice can make the difference when it comes to action. Let's expand on this:#1 - Bond ran toward the helipad, his eyes on the helicopter.#2 - Bond raced toward the helipad, blood pounding in his veins.Which sentence captures the sense that it's imperative for Bond to reach the helipad? #2.
The description in an action/adventure story shouldn't be lengthy, but it should be enough to picture the sense of urgency behind the action.
For me, I think setting is important. It really gives the reader the "flavor" of the story they're reading. Just to bring up Mona again, her story, "To Love a Hero" is set in Bellarus. It's a little dark, a little exotic, hinting of pride. That's setting. You don't need a lot. Just give the reader the taste of it and the imagination will do the rest!
|I just became a member of the Classic Romance Revivial and I thought I'd share a link to their website.
My first love was being a romance writer and it's something that I'm getting back to. What I love about romance is that usually it has a happy ending. It's a very "uplifting" book. Romances are usually easy to read and they take you different places.
The CRR is the heart of Judah Raine who is also a published romance author. The website has "affliate" authors where other romance authors can come together and share their work. There's a great blog that talks about romance and other writers and how to explore the genre on the Internet.
With the dawn of the internet books and reading have gotten a bigger audience. Ebooks in the romance genre seem to have taken off and the CRR takes full advantage of it. How many have a Kindle? A Sony Reader? Ebooks are picking up in popularity due to these devices.
CRR exposes readers to a variety of subgenres in romance from Western to Paranormal. They also review romances which is nice because it helps readers guide them toward books in the genres they want to explore.
I like historicals, regencies, time travel and paranormal romance. I'm not much for a western, but I'll read it if it's well written.
As a romance writer, I like to read other romances to help keep me fresh. One author I'm reading now is Mona Risk. She's published with Cerridwen Press and I'm reading "To Love A Hero." What I really like about Mona is that the story takes place in Bellarus - an exotic location. That appeals to me. The characters are very likable and the plot is something modern and different. I'm not much for contemporary romance but Mona makes it fresh by going to Bellurus.
As for my own contemporary romance, I wrote them in 2002/2003. "All That Remains" and "Are Your Dirty Little Secrets" are set in modern Manchester, NH where Darrin and Kristina have a bunch of challenges to overcome as they grow as a couple. After Secrets, I wanted to branch out and began exploring more paranormal stories.
My next project is a paranormal romance called "The Hungarian" which will be published by Desert Breeze Publishing in May 2010 and I'm very excited about it. Like Mona, I travel to another place - Budapest, Hungary. Ahhh.. the romance of Central Europe.
If you get a chance, check out CRR's website. It's a GREAT resource for Romance on the web and a great place to meet and connect with other romance authors. Also, check out Mona's website. It's plenty of fun.
Have a romantic day!
|Ah, Portsmouth! I have fond memories of this little town, but not from my childhood, from my years as a 20 something. hehe.
One place I visited was of the Isle of Shoals. This set of islands are off the coast of NH and Maine. There are 9 island and 4 belong on NH and 5 belong to Maine. Cpt. John Smith of Ponchahotas fame introduced the islands to the Western World in 1614. One lives year-round on the islands. A famed double-murder took place on Smuttynose Island in the 1800s (the basis for the book and movie "The Weight of Water"), and New Hampshire's most famous poet of the 19th Century, Celia Thaxter, was raised there, the daughter of lighthouse keeper Thomas Laighton.
I had a chance to visit the islands when I was younger, about 20 something. I had just married my husband. ( I was young when I got married - 23) and I wanted to show him the rich variety of my New Hampshire home, so with my friends, Idgy, Karen, and my sister, Christine, we set off. I remember we caught the boat in Portsmouth and sailed right on over. It was a lazy summer day with not much to do but enjoy the view. I did get to see a bridge where it lifted up between the two towers and I enjoyed watching that. I had never seen that type of bridge before.
One of my most treasured personal pics is of me, Brent, Idgy, Alyssa, and Christine on the island looking out. If I can span it, I'll post it a little later on.
As a side note: I think the isles would make a great romantic setting for a story.
I never visited Portsmouth when I was a kid. Portsmouth has a rich history, though. I didn't actually getting around to visiting it until I was older. I would come home from military leave and go up with my friends, Idgy, Karen, or Alyssa. I remember one time, Idgy and I explored Strawberry Banke, an old neightborhood that was a reinactment from colonial days. Very cool.
Portsmouth has a rich history of being a "navy" town. It also was the home of Pease Air Force Base which has since been closed.
Interesting Historical Note: Paul Revere rode to Portsmouth from Boston to tell the residents that "the British were coming."
Portsmouth even has a bewery which I visited. I love the local/regional beweries. The beer is always so much fresher, but I can't remember the name of it. Redhook, I believe?
I haven't been to Portsmouth in years, but I have fond memories. Anyone else have a thought on Portsmouth?
I hope you've enjoyed learning a little about this NH gem.
|The following questions came from "The Fiction Writer's Connection." Here's a link: http://www.fictionwriters.com/tips-query-letters.html
My responses are in red. I'll be posting thoughts on tradtional and self publishing options.
Who needs a query letter?
If you are working on a novel and intent to venture into tradtional publishing, you need a query letter to attract an agent. If you are going the self publishing route, you don't really need one.
Who wouldn't use a query letter?
Poets and short story writers generally don't need them. It depends on the requirements of the publisher.
What is the purpose of the query letter?
It is to entice literary agents to represent you to traditional publishers. If a literary agents agrees to represent you, you've got your foot in the door in the tradtional publishing market.
Do I really need an agent?
If you want to approach small press publishing without one, that's fine. Small press publishers are generally more open to writer's without literary representation. There are numerous romance small press publishers who will accept you without representation. You have to research the publisher to find out what they need.
What is a query letter?
A query letter should tell an agent what your project is, interest them, in fact HOOK them, so they will ask to see your project in your entirety.
You want to keep a query letter about one page length, single space. That doesn't leave much more for you to HOOK them.
Keep this mind: Summarize your novel in one-two paragraphs. Hook. Hook. Hook. Focus on the conflict of the novel. Note the theme. Next, if you have credits, liste them. Don't forget to put your word count in the query letter. Words counts are important to agents. Most competitive books have word counts between 75,000-125,000. Don't go over that. Especially if you're a first time author who is unproven.
Be polite. Be humble. Don't sound arrogant. A little humility goes a long way. If you have a brisk attitude in your letter, it will come across. Do a little homework. Google that literary agent to see if they have a blog. Hang out on the blog for a little bit and see what they're like. Is someone you want to pitch your story to? Find out what their requirements are for submitting. A little homework goes a long way.
Any thoughts, comments, suggestions? Do you need a query letter? A literary agent? No, but it helps, especially if you want to be published by the "big" tradtional publishers.