A Writer’s Best Friend

So, I’ve found my best writing friend, again.

And it’s my writing group.

My group comprises around a dozen women who represent different genres, different approaches, different histories, different states… even different countries. One is a college professor, the bulk of whose writing is academic in nature; the rest of us, moms and job-holders by day, fiction writers by night, write mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, erotica, and amazing combinations of the above.

Each of us – and our writing – is celebrated for who she is and what she does. Each of us receives support in spirit and in craft. Each of us is encouraged and critiqued and emerges from our annual retreat knowing that there are people invested in making sure her story is as good as it can possibly be.

Each of us is treasured.

This has been 2013′s Retreat Week. We’ve come together by the shores of Lake Michigan to laugh, sing, and embrace. To cook and to dine. To read and to write.

And on Friday, when we reluctantly return to our lives, we’ll do so renewed and ready to press forward with our writing. At home, with our families, our jobs, and all the distractions of everyday life, we’ll also carry in our hearts this lovely space that’s filled with words and laughter and acceptance.

And we’ll return here, every time we sit down to write.

Already, I can’t wait until next year!

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WWW Wednesday (September 26, 2012)

I’ve wantonly borrowed this meme from Should Be Reading.

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

What I am currently reading:

I’ve just started to read Elizabeth Lowell’s Beautiful Sacrifice, in the romantic suspense genre. So far, I’m enjoying it! So, even though I’ll put it down briefly to read J.K. Rowling’s new book (“What I’ll read next”), I’ll be sure to come back to it post haste!

 

 

What I have recently finished reading:

I’ve just finished reading Patricia Burroughs’ Some Enchanted Season, a reissue of a Loveswept she published over twenty years ago. It’s a Kindle book on Amazon, and it can be purchased in other formats on Book View Cafe. It’s a contemporary romance between two troubled souls: an artist with a challenging disability and a football player who never quite realized his potential. I remember loving this story when I first read it, and this new, slightly tweaked version was wonderful!

 

 

What I’ll read next:

J.K. Rowling has a new book! J.K. Rowling has a new book! I’ll be waiting at the bookstore at nine a.m. tomorrow morning, cash in hand.

Ummm… So… I think I’ll read The Casual Vacancy next. What do you think?

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Review: Some Enchanted Season by Patricia Burroughs

Some Enchanted SeasonSome Enchanted Season by Patricia Burroughs
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a revised version of an old favorite… The story of Kevyn, an artist with a difficult limitation, and Rusty, a football player nearing the end of a surprisingly mediocre career. They meet when she’s seeking a god, a man to model for her latest cover illustration, and he’s half killing himself, trying to win a bet.

Sparks fly almost immediately, when she kidnaps him (or rescues him from his foolishness, depending on your point of view). They part, but can’t forget one another.

Each seems courageous in the lives they’ve chosen. But to be together, each must reach beyond the boundaries of their comfort zones and risk never being the same again.

I love this book. Not surprising – I love everything Burroughs writes!

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Review: Delusion in Death by J.D. Robb

Delusion in Death (In Death, #35)Delusion in Death by J.D. Robb
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As you can tell, I really like series. But there can be a down side; some authors begin to repeat themselves in really unfortunate ways, becoming their own cliches.

Fortunately, Robb (Roberts) is too good a storyteller for that. In fact, she really hits the latest installment of her enormously popular In Death series out of the park.

There are always two arcs to these stories. The first is the obvious: the murder of the week, as it were. The second is the personal: where Eve is in her personal journey.

Only the murder of the week is even more diabolical than ever. It’s indirect… a chemical is released in enclosed, crowded areas, which induces hallucinations, paranoia, and violence. The ensuing riots result in many deaths and terrible injuries.

We watch the investigation unfold, always aware of a ticking clock in the back. When will this person strike again? How can they be stopped? And, now that this very, very dangerous cat is out of the bag, can it ever be put back in?

As always, there is tragedy, there is humor, and there are the cameos from old friends. All in all, this is an excellent story, wonderfully told.

I highly recommend it!

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Review: The Lost Night, by Jayne Castle (Jayne Ann Krentz)

The Lost Night (Rainshadow, #2, Harmony, #9)The Lost Night by Jayne Castle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I liked this. Prolific series authors have formulas, and Castle (Krentz) is no exception. But I almost always just sink into her books like they’re the comfortable reading chair in the corner of my room. I know I’ll encounter likeable characters, interesting problems (often with a paranormal edge), fun secondary characters (sometimes non-human), and a well-earned HEA.

The reason this book didn’t get five stars, though, was that, in the beginning, it felt way too much like its predecessor, the first in the series, crossed with the opening of another, older story. I even checked the publication date, just to be sure I hadn’t picked up the wrong book! But that aside, once it got going, I had a great time reading it.

I’ll always buy a Castle/Krentz/Quick novel the day it comes out. And the reason for that is I love her writing, I adore her characters, and I know exactly what I’m going to get. After all, I’ve been reading her since “The Gentle Pirate”, a gazillion years ago! And I’ve loved every word!

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Prince SPaGhetti Day – Independence Day Edition

I’m back after a long absence… My family’s issues appear to be resolving, freeing me to focus on my own goals and passions.

Today, I’m celebrating two men in American history – men whose lives became intertwined and who were alternately friends, enemies, and colleagues for more than fifty years.

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were, in many ways, differentiated by geography.  They were from different parts of the Colonies; Adams was a Boston lawyer and Jefferson a lawyer, landowner, and Burgess in Virginia.  Each was a man of great intellectual curiosity.  Each believed passionately in the Rights of Man. 

Together with Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston, Jefferson and Adams were appointed to a Committee by the Continental Congress on June 11, 1776 to draft a Declaration to explain  the reasons for the Colonies’ separation from the King and Parliament.  Adams lobbied within the committee for Jefferson to write the first draft, which he subsequently produced.  There were some changes made by the committee as a whole, and then the document was submitted to the Congress on June 28,1776.  Congress debated Jefferson’s Declaration and made many alterations, striking entire sections and heavily editing others.

What they agreed upon became, as Jeffersonian biographer John Ferling called it, the “majestic document that inspired both contemporaries and posterity.”

The vote for Independence was taken and carried on July 2, 1776.  The document proclaiming and explaining this radical move was first read to the assembled crowds in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776.  And the world changed forever.

This document came to life under the pen of Thomas Jefferson, but it owes every bit as much to Adams, Franklin, and the others.  These are the founding fathers, the men who transformed the ideals of the Enlightenment into a nation.

In the ensuing thirty years, the two men’s conflicting views and ways of life made them adversaries.  Jefferson unseated Adams to become the third President of the United States.  However, as they aged, they found fewer and fewer minds to match their own, and they began a long correspondence.  The men whose shared ideals and conflicts had formed a nation became friends once more, brothers in experience and purpose.

On the morning of July 4, 1826, Thomas Jefferson breathed his last at Monticello.  That afternoon, as the Nation celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the first reading of the Declaration of Independence, John Adams died in Quincy, Massachusetts.  His last words, fittingly, were “Thomas Jefferson survives.”

He does, indeed.  They both do.

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Prince SPaGhetti Day – Faramir, Son of Denethor, Steward of Gondor and Prince of Ithilien

This week’s prince is the character I crushed on most in The Lord of the Rings.  Yes, Aragorn was the ultimate alpha male, but he wanted a trophy wife.  He couldn’t see past Arwen to recognize the value of Eowyn.

And Eowyn almost made the same mistake.  She couldn’t see past Aragorn to recognize the value of Faramir.

But we – the readers – were more fortunate than she.  Rather than encountering Faramir injured, drained, grieving the twin losses of his father and his brother, we met him at his strongest.  And he was a man to admire.  Fair, virtuous, courageous, loyal, a leader of men… all those things that marked Aragorn were present in Faramir, as well.  And he was wise – a man of honor.  His encounter with the hobbits showed us so much of his character that we were stricken with terror when it appeared he might fall victim to Denethor’s madness.

I don’t know whether you remember meeting him, on your first reading.  I do… he was mysterious.  I feared for Frodo and Sam, when they fell into his hands.  And yet he was a man of honor, with more strength of will than his brother.

Here is what Tolkien said of him:

I am sure I did not invent him, I did not even want him, though I like him, but there he came walking into the woods of Ithilien.

There are characters like that.  Essential characters who insert themselves into the story because they’re needed.  The men of the hour.

Faramir is not the star of the trilogy.  He’s not even a main character.  But he is a character without whom all would have been lost.  And, because of him, we see for ourselves that Men are worth all the trouble the hobbits, elves, dwarves, and wizards are put to in their defense.  They are not merely easily corrupted (Boromir), jealous (Denethor), or easily broken (the Theoden we meet initially), but noble to the end.

My kind of man.

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