Top Ten Tuesday: Things that can be found on my desk right now

1-My Starbucks coffee cup. It’s red. It has “love” scrawled in loopy letters on the side. It’s filled with French Vanilla roast Starbucks homebrew. Heaven.

2-A silver heart shaped box given to me by SFARWA via Sophie Littlefield. I received it after being a member of the chapter for a year. It’s looking a little stained, but the inside is deep blue velvet, soft and warm. There’s nothing in it, but it doesn’t stop me from peeling the lid and peeking inside every now and again.

3-Three notebooks. There’s a pink one with papers sticking out all over for SFARWA meetings. There’s another worn pink one with white spots containing messy notes for Book2 in the Crimson Bay Series. It’s falling apart and I love it. There’s a blue and green spotted one for Book3. That one is less messy, but it’s new. Give it time.

4-A fake orchid. I have a black thumb. The plant is perfect because it’s always pretty, it’s always green, and because I don’t have to worry about watering it, I can focus on my WIP.

5-The board book “Five Silly Monkeys”. Tank wanted me to read it to him over and over again yesterday. Here it sits, just in case he asks again.

6-A box of Tangled party invitations. Princess‘ 7th birthday is coming later this month and I have to send those puppies out to family and friends.

7-Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola bar wrapper. Breakfast. What can I say?

8-A rectangular straw box holding my thumb drives and pens…for my work and note taking.

9-A picture of Tank at a high school track meet wearing too-big sunglasses. His “girlfriend” let him wear her RayBans. He thought he was too cool. He’s even got his tongue out and his eyebrows up.

10-Bronze hair clip. Because for some reason I slept with it in my hair and when I sat down at the computer this morning my head hurt like hell. I must’ve slept on it until my scalp was raw and didn’t even know it. Ouch.

So that’s what is on my desk. What’s on yours?

Top Ten Tuesday: Things I’m loving right now while I plow through Book 3 in the Crimson Bay Series

10-How long this freakin’ blog post title is. Yowzer. Guess my brain is so fried I can’t come up with anything more concise.

9-Ben Harper

8-Devil’s Food chocolate cake.

7-Last week of school for my munchkins=no early morning alarms

6-While I’ve gained 3-5 pounds writing each of my books, this one is different. I’m LOSING weight while writing. No, I don’t have one of those treaddesks. I’m writing in the mornings and spinning in the evenings. Seems to be working.

5-Early summer rain. My muse is flowing even though everyone is grumbling about the rain sticking around later than normal.

4-I can’t stop thinking about RWA National. It’s in New York City at the end of June and I’M GOING. I didn’t think I’d be able to make it this year. Finances got a little tight. My daughter’s birthday lands smack dab in the middle of the trip. We’ve resolved those issues–albeit with a lot of mommy guilt. Wanna know what I’m most excited about? Traveling alone. Last year I went with critique partner Lisa Sanchez and had a BLAST. But there’s nothing quite like showing up to the airport, checking in, finding a corner to sit and read or write all by your lonesome. Very freeing feeling not knowing anyone. It’s like taking yourself on a date–dinner and a movie. LOVE it.

3-Deadliest Catch. It’s my all-time favorite show and the season just started.


My obsession over the show is no surprise to those who know me well. I love the ocean. I’m fascinated with ice, ice fields, ice bergs. I love anything and everything revolving around ships. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with adding a little gruff in the form of crabbing alpha males.

2-Finding The First Book Ever Written. Yup. I cleaned out my desk yesterday and found Nine Days in Joliet, the first book I ever wrote. I laughed, combed through it, Ooh’d and Aah’d. I can’t believe how far I’ve come in a few years. No wonder I received rejections from everyone in the business. Sheesh. Needless to say, that manuscript is now lining the burn barrel in our backyard. (I have a thing for burning old work–very liberating. The day of my college graduation I went to the beach with friends, lit a massive bonfire, and tossed in all my notebooks.)

1-I got the cover for Book 1 in the Crimson Bay Series! Can’t share it yet, as I’m not sure if the image they shared is the final cover. As soon as I get the go-ahead, I’ll post it here. *grin

Ten Rules for Writing Fiction

I’m not an expert by any means–I’ll be the first to admit it. (In fact, most times I feel much more amateur than every other writer in the business.) I don’t have hardfast rules I live or write by. I’ve struggled through four novels in two years. In that time I’ve acquired an agent, lost one, then acquired another. I’ve flown through chapters. I’ve trudged through paragraphs. But since I started writing there are certain “rules” I’ve come to write by:

Don’t have easy dialogue. By that I mean don’t always have the hero/heroine’s questions answered. How many times have you really wanted the answer to a question and, instead of relieving you of your stress by answering simply, the other person in the convo gives you the run-around? Or goes off on their own line of questioning? Or stares at you like there’s no way in hell I’m telling you *that* Make your characters squirm. Don’t make things easy for them, even when it’s a simple question. (And of course, everything in moderation, right?) Now that I think of it, I may just like to torture my darlings.

Carry around a notebook. Always. Record the tiny things that strike a cord in your own life. Jot down some dialogue from people sitting next to you on the bus. Take notes about the daily things that bring a smile to your face. And the ones that bring you down. Don’t necessarily use those things word for word, but figure out WHY you wrote them down and WHY that particular scene elicited the type of emotion it did.

Once you *think* you’ve finished your manuscript (and I’m talking about the edited THE END not the first draft THE END) read it backwards to edit some more. Then read it aloud. Print it out and read it again. Then download it to your e-reader and read it again. I can pretty much guarantee you’ll find something to change every single time (and probably even once it’s published!)

Be hopeful and open, but expect the absolute worst. It’d be great to wish for NYT Bestselling status with your first sale…but that’s probably not going to happen. It’d be great to think you could sell one book, make it big, then write whatever you want and have that be big too…but it doesn’t work that way. It’s easy to feel down when rejection hits (believe me) but you can’t let it pin you to the mat. Get up and fight for your dreams some more.

Are you writing for business, pleasure or both. If you never plan on pursuing publication that’s fine. Write for you and you alone. Ignore all rules–including these. If you’re writing to make a career of it, treat it that way. Write every day. Edit on days you don’t. Be *IN* the world you created, even when you detach from the computer. If you write for both business and pleasure I believe you’ve chosen the right path!

And for my final five rules, I’m going to pick and chose my favorites from an article in guardian.co.uk titled “Ten Rules for Writing Fiction”.

“You know that sickening feeling of inadequacy and over-exposure you feel when you look upon your own empurpled prose? Relax into the awareness that this ghastly sensation will never, ever leave you, no matter how successful and publicly lauded you become. It is intrinsic to the real business of writing and should be cherished.”–Will Self

“Description must work for its place. It can’t be simply ornamental. It ?usually works best if it has a human element; it is more effective if it comes from an implied viewpoint, rather than from the eye of God. If description is coloured by the viewpoint of the character who is doing the noticing, it becomes, in effect, part of character definition and part of the action.”–Hilary Mantel

“Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.”–Neil Gaiman

“Let your work stand before deciding whether or not to serve.”–Andrew Motion

And last but not least…

“The nearest I have to a rule is a Post-it on the wall in front of my desk saying “Faire et se taire” (Flaubert), which I translate for myself as ‘Shut up and get on with it.'”–Helen Simpson

So there you go. Now shut up and get on with it.

Top Ten Tuesday: Things I’m Loving Right Now

I give you another Top Ten Tuesday! Top Ten Things I’m Loving Right Now:

10-This beautiful gloomy morning! I know, I know, it’s contrary to what most people believe…but I’m absolutely glowing in this muggy California weather. I love the rain. The drizzle. The mist. I’m floating around the house, lighting candles and fixing up a scrumptious dinner in the crock pot. Loving it.

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9-Because of #10, my muse is refreshed. I’m writing up a storm. Good thing too, because at the rate I’ve written the first eighty pages, it’ll take me six months to write this book. I need to cut that time in half. The rain will help.

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8-I’m absolutely in love with my Droid Incredible. I can access my email in two seconds. I hardly check in on my computer anymore. Who wants to be bothered with the whole “sign in” process anyway? Not me…I tend to not respond to emails as quickly, but that’s okay…right? The speedy Droid apps are too handy…especially since I check my email for agents/editors every fifteen minutes or so…

7-The Biggest Loser. It’s on tonight. I’m in love with Jillian Michaels. I think I may design a heroine after her in my next book.

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6-The promise of a vacation on the horizon! In a few months the Miller fam is heading to Disneyland! Tank and Princess are beyond excited. We don’t make the trip to So Cal very much, so when we do it’s a big deal. Mickey here we come!

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5-Kiersten White’s Paranormalcy, Allison Brennan’s Carnal Sin, and J.R. Ward’s Lover Enshrined. For the first time in my life I’m reading more than one book at a time. I’m a little scattered, but I’m liking the variety. YA, suspense with a paranormal feel, and a hot-and-heavy paranormal. Great combo.

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4-Chocolate. Simply because I’ve officially sworn myself off it starting yesterday and I’m craving it something wicked. Hello. My name’s Kristin. I’m a chocoholic.

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3-Scarfs! This one’s a little odd, I know. But I don’t wear scarfs when my hair is long. And later this month I’m cutting my hair Shirley Temple short. I’ll post pictures of all the purty scarfs I buy to celebrate my new hair-do!

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2-Christina Perri’s “Jar of Hearts”. I don’t know why, but this book is totally written on that song. I have a huge playlist to write to (see down below on right), but every time another song comes on I click it back to “Jar”. I guess my muse is particular as of late.

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And the number one thing I’m Absolutely, Positively Loving Right Now is THIS:

It’s Twilight’s Eclipse in a Minute! And it’s HILARIOUS! If you can’t laugh at this, I’m afraid you might have lost a bit of your sense of humor…

Top Ten Romance Writing Cliches

As I started writing the sequel to Enemy, Beloved, I realized I wanted this book to be different. I wanted it to stand out from the other vampire, shapeshifting, otherworldly books out there. I’ve heard from agents/editors countless times, “Bestselling novels are the same, but different. A unique twist on a stable, selling platform.” Great advice, but you wouldn’t know how to make your novel different unless you first know about all the others out there, right?

Obviously, that means you have to read what you write. A lot. *As a side note, you should also read things from other subgenres as well. I learned so much from Monica McCarty’s The Chief and The Hawk it’s mind-spinning. Historicals are much different from paranormals (and that’s probably a blog post all its own), but the point is to read, read, read, then write something unique.

I’ve been reading a ton lately and the more I read, the more I notice similar slogans, familiar story lines, dialogue that the author was using to beat a dead horse…well, okay, you get where I’m going.

In the spirit of putting different spins on the stories you write, I give you “Top Ten Romance Writing Cliches.”

10-The use of “Running his fingers through his hair…” at every turn. I have to be careful for this one. When I picture my hero frustrated, pacing a tight circle, the first thing I see is him scrubbing his hands across his head. But do you see that too? Haven’t you read that a million times? I have. It’s beginning to get to me. In my next book I’m going to toss all the “fingers through the hair” and come up with something different…as long as he’s not picking his nose. Heh-heh.

9-Big busted heroines with tiny waists, bright doe eyes, full lips, flowing mahogany hair…and no self-esteem. Why would the hero want her? She’s not worthy of love. She’s a virgin, cast aside by society. Really? How many women in our society are like that? Do you really think Kim Kardashian, Salma Hayek, or Fergie make themselves victims in that way? Or do they use their beauty to get what they want? I’m not saying they don’t have low self-esteem–they might–I’m just saying the “stunning woman with low self-esteem who has never gotten attention from a man until the hero comes around” is a little played out.

8-The only person who sees the heroine as breathtakingly beautiful is the hero. Something to watch for: If your heroine is as strikingly gorgeous as you say she is…and there’s other beta-heroes in your novel, how do they react to her? Wouldn’t they have some sort of a reaction resembling your hero’s? How does she respond to that attention?

7-The evil ex-wife. The malicious woman who spoiled the hero for other women. Because of this baggage, he believes all women are evil, treats the heroine like garbage…until she proves to him that she’s different. The ex-wife doesn’t even have to be on the page. Once again, if you haven’t read Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca, you need to. Rebecca manages to terrorize Maxim’s new wife from the grave the entire novel, but instead of getting stuck in that cliche, DuMaurier makes Maxim stronger for the loss and keeps the past-dwelling at an absolute minimum. Good stuff.

6-Meeting in bars. I don’t know what it is, but lately every book I open has something to do with the hero and heroine meeting in a bar-type setting. A club. An after-hours lounge. A bar at a prestigious restaurant. They’re all the same. Mix it up a bit. I don’t care for bars–never have. Give me somewhere else to connect with your lead characters.

5-The sexually charged hero who refuses to settle for one woman…until he meets the virginal heroine, of course. She challenges him, making him lose his mind before changing it. I think if this one is done right, it works. (*Read McCarty’s The Hawk) However, sometimes I feel like if the hero was the Casanova the author painted him to be, why would he be choosing this naive woman to settle down with? Why does he want to settle down at all? Not fifty pages earlier the author wrote that the hero LOVED his playboy ways. What does the heroine have that’s so special? Maybe that’s the fault. What makes the heroine “special” doesn’t off-set the hero’s “desire” to be a player.

4-Avoid phrases like: all walks of life, give the devil his due, never a dull moment, behind the eight ball, hook, line, and sinker, nipped in the bud, bitter end, by hook or crook, calm before the storm in the nick of time. You get the idea.

3-Stipulations in Wills. Loved one dies, forcing two people together from the grave. Usually, one person has to marry before a certain date or work with someone on a project on a strict timeline (forcing them to work nicely together and fall in love). Maybe it’s just me, but I’m a say-it-like-it-is type of gal. If my grandmother had a stipulation in her will that I had to marry a guy I despised (granted I was single), I would simply get a really good lawyer and fight it. My first reaction would not be to bitterly fight for the money alongside a “hero” who also greedily wants the money. See my problem?

2-Shadowed eyes. Oh, there’s something behind them. But what? Is it a secret? Does the vampire hero want to drink from your vein? Does he have to use the restroom but is too embarrassed to say something? Okay, okay, I’m being a tad ridiculous. But the cliche is ridiculous when it’s overused.

And the Number One Cliche in Romance Writing is…

1-The evil other woman. You all know who I’m talking about. She’s the hero’s gorgeous co-worker with the hips that won’t quit. He pays no interest. (Of course, right, because what man would????) Every time she enters the scene, the heroine feels insecure and jealous, the hero is oblivious, co-worker flirts before leaving the room, and the hero and heroine fight. Played. Out. I’ve read versions where the evil other woman purposefully tries to split up the hero and heroine. I’ve also read versions where the evil other woman is a current or past mistress, trying to sink her claws back into her man before the heroine can. Here’s an idea…what about the co-worker who’s smoking hot and is actually, I don’t know, NICE? Why does she have to be evil and assertive to balance the heroine’s meekness? How about making the heroine strong and confident in herself?

These are just my opinions, of course. I realize the reasons we find these everywhere are because they really do work. We like reading the familiar. We enjoy twists and turns an author throws at us. We like reading about “the same, but different.” So now go and write it.

Top Ten Things I’d Like to See on ‘Bachelor Pad’

Hello. My name is Kristin. I’m an all-things ‘Bachelor’ addict.

Last night, as I watched yet another spin off called ‘Bachelor Pad’, Husband asked me what I like about the show so much. It got me thinking…

Why on earth do I watch shows where people put their best foot forward, turn their best face toward the camera (as contestants often have two), and go on ridiculous “reality” dates that are FAR from reality.

The answer is the Promise of Love.

It’s fun to watch people fumble around on first dates (as opposed to being the one fumbling). I get to experience a couples beginning with them…and I can judge all I want with no tension and no expectations. I can sit back in my PJs with a bowl of popcorn while the girls get all dressed up and taken out on wild excursions that leave you wondering “how couldn’t a girl fall for this guy?”

Yet every season the couples flounder once they are whisked from La-La land back to real “reality”. It’s the same ole thing. Guy meets hot girl. Guy also meets semi-hot girl. (Oh no! What to do!?!) Guy likes semi-hot girl better, but can’t leave hot girl behind until after fantasy dates. Guy picks hot girl, breaks semi-hot girl’s heart. Hot guy hot girl break up. The end.

So in partial jest, I give you Top Ten Things I’d Like to See on ‘Bachelor Pad’.

10-I’d like to see a fight. Oh, I know the contestants get kicked off the show if they throw the first blow, but come on…they’re not really there for the girl anyway. Stop with the puffing chests and tests of masculinity and just nail the guy in the jaw. Become my real hero. If I were the Bachelorette I just might look you up after the show. (Granted there’s no one hotter than you, of course.)

9-I’d like to see a “real reality date”. How about grocery shopping in Food-4-Less where the clerks are grumpy and there’s kids screaming everywhere and you’ve got to bag your own shit, cart it home, unload it into a packed refrigerator, then make dinner from scratch and do the dishes afterward…and all that after working a 9-5. How’s that for reality? My heart’s swooning already.

8-The uber-hot guy fall for the geeky girl. Wait…that might be my reality.

7-I’d like to see contestants without makeup. It might be a test of true beauty, don’t you think? If you’re watching this season, you have to know Tenley. She’s absolutely stunning. Thin. Tone. Long blonde hair. Bright blue eyes. But she wears about 10 tons of makeup. I wonder what she’s hiding underneath that plaster…

6-Someone actually fall in love. I know there have been a few shows where the couples move on and get married and have kids. (*See Trista Sutter and Jason Mesnick) But isn’t this supposed to be a show where people leave their baggage behind to find love? Or is it an excuse for hot singles to lounge in the sun while stabbing each other in the back? The answer, sadly, is obvious.

5-I want to know how old Gwen is. Did you notice when they streamline her name, occupation an age, the age section shows this: ?? I have two theories. She’s either a really good looking 50 year old woman who has invested in Botox and the best plastic surgery around and doesn’t think anyone will pick her if they know her true age. Or she’s a vampire and wouldn’t want to tip anyone off by saying she’s five hundred years, eleven months, and twenty eight days old. I’m rooting for the second option.

4-I’d like to see someone pick Chris Harrison. He’s got to be the hottest host around. Wouldn’t that be great if one of the women in the house decided she’d rather go with someone more mature…more in touch with his emotions…someone whose salary could make all her worries disappear with the swipe of his VISA.

3-Follow up with the contestants who’ve been kicked off. I just wonder if the producers could get clearance into their mental hospitals…

2-I’d like to see the producers take away the cash prize half way through and watch them scatter like rats leaving a sinking ship in order to expose how shallow they really are. Unless you’re Elizabeth who “is not shallow, but doesn’t know what shallow means”.

And the number one thing I’d like to see on ‘Bachelor Pad’ is…

1-I’d like to see someone in one of the couples (ie: Tenley, Kiptyn, Elizabeth, Kovacs, Dave, Natalie) go all the way to the end. I’d like to see them in love. I’d like to see them promise to spend the money together. EXCEPT…I’d like them to be upfront about the game. Wouldn’t that be great if, up until the finale, you thought the couple was madly in love, only to find out that it was IN FACT a game to win $250,000? I could see Tenley now: “Kiptyn, I love you! Omigosh, we won the money? You’re giving it all up for me? Wow! You must really love me…is the game over yet?” *looks to producers and gets the thumbs up while cameras still roll* “Great.” *looks back to Kiptyn* “I have to tell you something. I came here to win the money. Now that I have, I’m going home the same way I came. Alone. Thanks for making this partnership stronger by investing your feelings…but now I’m going to invest your money.” *kisses Kiptyn on the cheek and leaves, waving the cash in front of her face like a fan*

See? Wouldn’t that make a great ending? Like I said. The reason I watch these shows is the Promise of Love. But the reality is that these relationships hardly ever work. We all know in the back of our minds that these couples will split faster than BPs executives after the gulf oil spill.

It’s just fun to watch the contestants suffer through the process.

Top Ten Tuesday: Pinky and the Brain edition

Top Ten Things I should not be doing on a sweltering summer morning, but find myself doing anyway.

10-Checking facebook, twitter, my email and every blog I can get my grubby little fingers on. Except my fingers aren’t grubby because all I’ve eaten for breakfast is a granola bar and a lukewarm cup of Folgers.

9-I SHOULDN’T BE DRINKING FOLGERS! I should be drinking Starbucks or Seattle’s Finest or something iced and fancy yet oh so fattening but I won’t be squeezing into a bikini any time soon so the last part should be mute, shouldn’t it?

8-Watching grass grow out my kitchen window. Seriously. Husband and I are lucky enough to have a gardener who pays attention to our huge yard on Tuesday mornings. Only he hasn’t been paying nearly enough attention for the money we pay him. Last week he was a no-show. He’s about to be one house short of a burrito truck run. Meanwhile the grass blades are reaching boldly for the sky like they’re up for re-election.

7-I shouldn’t still be in my PJs. It’s well past the “acceptable grown-up hour” for lounging around and has now officially skid into the “loser-get-your-ass-in-gear hour.” I’d go on and on about how the internet sucked me in, but you all know how that goes…or maybe you have better things to do on a Tuesday morning. Man, I really need to get my ass in gear.

6-Listening to “Pinky and the Brain”. Husband has decided there’s nothing funnier than a “I’m Going to Take Over the World” Brainiac ringtone. Just in case you were in a coma for the 1990’s, here’s a snippet from “Pinky and the Brain”.

5-Okay, really? I shouldn’t get that much enjoyment out of watching a kids cartoon. Makes me think I should go back to watching Sunday morning cartoons with my kids…come to think of it, all I’d watch now is Dora and her square head deny any animalistic attraction to Boots and his boots even though we know what’s really going on.

4-Sitting at home. I should be out swimming (or at the very least getting more pool estimates). I should be at the park with the kids before the temperature reaches unbearable levels. I should be visiting aquariums and museums (and sucking off their air conditioning). I should be shopping for more outfits and accessories to wear to RWA National in Orlando. I should be…sleeping.

*Oh, bonus! I hear the lawn mower man! My day just got better.*

3-I shouldn’t be stalking this website like it actually means anything. Nobody can predict earthquakes, right? RIGHT? All I know is I’ve been checking updates for a week wondering when we’re gonna feel the big one. For those of you who don’t want to click on the link, the site reports “a 6.0-7.0 earthquake is likely to hit the San Francisco Bay Area July 26-28 with possible epicenter locations in San Jose or Fremont.” No need to get all frantic (Oakland’s had enough of that with the riots), but I’ve found there’s nothing wrong with taking down high-flying china and gathering flashlights and batteries for radios.

2-I shouldn’t be worrying about things I can’t control. This one happens to me a lot. I shouldn’t worry about the manuscript on submission. It’s out of my hands. I know editors have a lot on their plate and will give Enemy, Beloved the read and consideration it deserves, but damn it…my mind won’t rest. At night I go over the manuscript thinking of ways I could’ve made it better. Every book I read gives me new, fresh ideas and I’m beginning to think my stalking of the quake-site is just me trying to have monitoring control over other things I can’t.

And the number one thing I should not be doing on this sweltering summer Tuesday but find myself doing anyway is…

1-Thinking of ways to make the gardener’s life more complicated. He just left, people…with half the lawn mowed! That’s like eating half an ice cream cone! Or shaving half of your head! Unless you’re Sinead O’Conner on some radical “only eat half of everything” diet, that isn’t going to fly. I’m thinking Husband and I should go sit out on the back porch, in our PJs, drink a Tecate, eat some ice cream after a hefty burrito, and plot How We’re Going To Take Over the World!!!–thereby making his life a giant headache in the process!
*insert wicked evil laugh here

Top Ten Tuesday Teasers! Answers!

Tomorrow! Ha!

Seriously folks, I didn’t realize the Top Ten would be so difficult. I kinda thought I’d get flooded with comments about knowing one or another or all of them and the Top Ten Challenge would be over. Nope. Instead I got a few emails about how difficult it was and how I should have watered it down.

Maybe I just scared you all off with my No Cheating buzz.

Either way, I’ll give you another day just in case. Here’s the ones correctly answered with their amazon links in case you wanted to read the complete blurb or buy the book for yourself–these really are great (I wouldn’t know about #4 yet because I haven’t read it, but it comes highly recommended from a great friend)…

10-Twilight: Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer

9-Magic in the Wind by Christine Feehan

8-Northern Lights by Nora Roberts

5-Morrigan’s Cross by Nora Roberts

4- Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind

3-Dark Lover by J.R. Ward

1-A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Devereaux

The ones left to answer with a hint:

7-“In their youth Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza fell passionately in love. When Fermina chooses to marry a wealthy, well-born doctor Florentino is devastated, but he is a romantic.” –HINT: This is a classic that was made into a 2000-something movie. The book also made an appearance in the movie “Serendipity” as the book Sarah wrote her name and number in then sold to a local bookstore for him to find.

6-“Scouring the darkest corners of the Highlands and Western Isles, Robert the Bruce handpicks ten warriors to help him in his quest to free Scotland from English rule. They are the best of the best, chosen for their superior skills in each discipline warfare–to lead his secret Highland Guard, Bruce chooses the greatest warrior of all.” –HINT: This is the book I started Saturday and finished yesterday. Yes, it’s that good. I’m sure if you’re really clever you could find me mention it in a previous post.

2-“In the California coastal town of Angel’s Bay, an old legend says that sometimes, when they’re needed, angels from an old shipwreck appear and good triumphs over evil.” –HINT: The book was released in June of 2009. However, when you put the title into Amazon’s search bar, two big hits pop up. One for this book by an author with the initials B.F. and the second for a psychedelic record that shares the same name. The record was released in 1968 by J.K. & Co.

Happy Guessing and hope you’re having a great Wednesday!

Top Ten Tuesday Teasers!

Here’s how this Top Ten Tueday’s gonna work. I’m going to pick ten books from my bookshelf. (Hint: I’m an eclectic reader and collect classics as well as modern romances.) I’m going to turn to the back cover and write a little snippet–two sentences should cut it. And you are going to tell me which book it’s from. I’ll try to post the painstakingly obvious blurbs first and move to harder ones. Ohhh, this should be fun! I need to have an award or something don’t I? Other than just the fantabulous knowledge that you’re a gung-ho reader and super good at guessing books from their blurbs.

A blurb award! That’s it! The person who wins is, like, the Blurb Queen! Ha! What a title!

Oh, and absolutely, positively, NO CHEATING. Whatever that means to you to keep you honestly guessing.

And awwwaaaaay we go!

10-“In the dead silence, all the details suddenly fell into place for me with a burst of intuition. Something Edward didn’t want me to know.”

9-“‘Sarah’s come home.’ Ever since Damon Wilder sought refuge in Sea Haven, he’s heard the same breathless rumor pass the lips of nearly every local in the sleepy coastal town.”

8-“Lunacy was Nate Burke’s last chance. As a Baltimore cop, he’d watched his partner die on the street–and the guilt still haunts him.”

7-“In their youth, Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza fall passionately in love. When Fermina eventually chooses to marry a wealthy, well-born doctor Florentino is devastated, but he is a romantic.”

6-“Scouring the darkest corners of the Highlands and Western isles, Robert the Bruce handpicks ten warriors to help him in his quest to free Scotland from English rule. They are the best of the best, chosen for their superior skills in each discipline warfare–to lead his secret Highland Guard, Bruce chooses the greatest warrior of all.”

5-“As a storm rages, the tale begins…of a powerful vampire’s lust for destruction-and that of the circle of six charged by the goddess Morrigan to stop her.”

4-“In the aftermath of the brutal murder of his father, Richard Cypher encounters a mysterious woman, Kahlan Amnell, in his forest sanctuary. She seeks his help…and more.”

3-“In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there’s a deadly turf war going on between vampires and their slayers. There exists a secret band of brothers like no other–six vampire warriors, defenders of their race.”

2-“In the California coastal town of Angel’s Bay, an old legend says that sometimes, when they’re needed, angels from an old shipwreck appear and good triumphs over evil.”

And the number one Top Ten Teaser is…

1-“Once upon a time…as a fair maiden lay weeping upon a cold tombstone, her heartfelt desire was suddenly made real before her: tall, broad of shoulder, attired in gleaming silver and gold, her knight in shining armor had come to rescue his damsel in distress…”

So there they are! Seriously, try not to cut and paste the quotes into google. Where’s the fun in that? Make as many guesses as you want. If you comment I’ll let you know if you’re on the mark or far from it and all answers will be revealed in tomorrow’s post.

Thanks for playing! Should be fun!

Top Ten ways to wake up your muse

Top Ten Tuesday is back again! I’m beginning to really like Tuesdays…

I’ve heard some authors say the muse doesn’t exist. Inspiration dries up and what’s left is the hard work ethic that got them published to begin with. I can see that. Others say their muse is the reason they write and that without their creative juices flowing every day they’d be a useless brain sitting at the computer, checking twitter a gazillion times instead of creating something new. I can see that side too. Pardon me for a moment as I tweet this blog. Heh.

Before I delve into ways to shake life into your muse, you should know where they come from. Wikipedia reads, “The Muses in Greek mythology, poetry, and literature are the goddesses or spirits who inspire the creation of literature and the arts. They were considered the source of the knowledge, related orally for centuries in the ancient culture, that was contained in poetic lyrics and myths.”

So how can you get those darn sprites to behave and keep your ideas rolling? Here’s Top Ten ways to wake up your muse:

10. Dance! Nothing beats shaking the cobwebs out of your brain by shaking your groove thang. The music should put you in a better place (emotionally and mentally) and rejuvenate you. And it’s good to laugh at yourself every now and again.

9. Exercise. I don’t know about you but after 45 minutes on the bike or treadmill, the ideas are flowing like the sweat from my pores.

8. Eat some chocolate. Okay, okay, so I may be a little of a chocoholic. Seriously though, some studies suggest dark chocolate stimulates brain functioning. It may hurt your waistline, but your story lines will improve.

7. Wash your car. Or the dog. There’s something about the rush of a water hose and the hard use of my hands that makes my brain zone. During those when times I’m not really thinking of anything at all, inspiration squeaks through.

6. Free write. I’m sure you’ve heard of this. Sit down with a pad of paper and a pen and set a timer for fifteen minutes. Write about absolutely nothing at all. Grammar doesn’t matter. Story doesn’t matter. The point is to not stop writing for a single second and bypass the logical side of your brain. Think of it as a mini-lesson in nanowrimo.

5. Do nanowrimo! Follow the link above for all the info. Loads of published novels were birthed from that insanely freeing month including Rachael Herron’s How to Knit a Love Song. (Which is one of my absolute faves written by one of my absolute faves!)

4. Garden. Or, in my case, kill plants that would’ve lived had they stayed at Orchard Supply. I have a black thumb. I can’t keep cactus alive. Seriously people, look at my plants.

They’re hanging on for dear life. BUT I’ve heard gardening on a daily basis releases endorphins that stimulate creativity. Something to think about…

3. Head to your special place for some quiet time. Whether it be the beach, the mountains, your bedroom, just go. By quieting your brain and infusing a sense of calm, that idea you’ve been struggling to pull out of nowhere may hit you like a ton of bricks.

2. Read. Read. Read. Books are gasoline that set your own ideas on fire. Light them up by reading everything and anything within reach.

And the number one thing you can do to wake up your muse is…

1. Talk it out with a critique partner or fellow writer. Find a writing group online. Yahoo! Groups search engine is one way to start. Plug in writing group to the search field and start chatting. I’d be careful who you share ideas with at first, but once you find someone you can trust there is nothing more valuable than bouncing ideas back and forth. Join writing groups in your local area and reach out to others in your position. Lisa Sanchez, author of Eve of Samhain, is my critique partner and I can’t tell you how many times we’ve met for coffee after a grueling writing session. Every single time she got my brain moving again.

So there you have it! Ten ways to kick start your muse back into gear. So what works for you–any of the above? Or do you have your own little muse rocking secret? Care to share?