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Friday Favorites – A Little Night Magic and Writing Links

Before I get to my mash-up of awesome links this week, I want to tell you about a book I just finished: A Little Night Magic by Lucy March. If any of you have read my Friday Favorites posts, you know that I’ve talked about Lucy March (AKA Lani Diane Rich) before. She’s a great writer and an excellent teacher. I was intrigued by this book when Lucy posted an excerpt of an earlier draft on her blog.

Here’s the blurb, taken from Lucy’s web site:

Olivia Kiskey needs a change. She’s been working at the same Nodaway Falls, NY, waffle house since she was a teenager; not a lot of upward mobility there. She’s been in love with Tobias the cook for the last four years; he’s never made a move. Every Saturday night, she gathers with her three best friends – Peach, Millie, and Stacy – and drinks the same margaritas while listening to the same old stories. Intent on changing her life, she puts her house on the market, buys a one-way ticket to Europe, and announces her plans to her friends… but then she meets Davina Granville, a strange and mystical southern woman who shows Olivia that there is more to her small town life than she ever dreamed. As her latent magical powers come to the surface, Olivia discovers that having an interesting life is maybe not all it’s cracked up to be. The dark side of someone else’s magic is taking over good people in town, and changing them into vessels of malevolence… including Millie, who has been a shining example of sweetness for Liv since they were kids. Unwilling to cede her home to darkness, she battles the demons of her familial past and her magical present, and learns that the important things in life – friendship, love, magic and waffles – can get a girl through almost anything the Universe can throw at her.

I really like this book. It is phenomenally crafted and will keep you involved every step of the way. There are no parts to skip here. As you can tell by the blurb, the book is about Liv. This story is all about her growing and changing. It is also a romance and you do get the requisite HEA.

I have a small confession to make: I fell in love with Tobias long before this book was near publication. As I said, Lucy posted an excerpt and I was gone.(FYI – the scenes are still up on her blog and they’re NOT in the book. It’s like the out takes from a really good movie) Anyway, my one and only complaint about this book, and it’s not even really about the book, is that there’s not enough Tobias in it.

The book is told in first person and I love Liv’s voice, but in general, I’m a third person kind of gal. Being in first person fits with Liv’s journey, but I wanted more time with Liv and Tobias. Granted, there’s a lot of bad shit going on in the story that needs to be dealt with, but the romance lover in me wanted more time with them. Don’t get me wrong, the scenes between Liv and Tobias are unbelievably emotional and charged with tension (the good kind). I just personally wanted to get inside Tobias’s head.

That’s enough blathering on about Tobias. Go get the book; you won’t be disappointed. And I’m obviously not the only one that feels that way since it went for its second printing after only being out for a day.

On to my weekly mash-up. This week all of my links are writing related, but even if you’re not a writer, you’ll enjoy them:

Music as inspiration:

Catie Rhodes did a great post about how music can inspire us. I listen to the radio all the time and the lyrics to songs have helped me create many characters.

Lucy March is back with Jennifer Crusie and Anne Stuart and they talk about using a soundtrack and creating a collage for your novel. I never did either of these things until I took a Discovery writing class with Lucy (Isn’t it weird how when we know people on line, we refer to them as friends, even if we’ve never really met?). First, don’t get discouraged by looking at Jennifer Crusie’s collages. They are works of art. You don’t need to be that talented. I struggled with doing both the collage and the soundtrack, but I’m really glad I did. Now, when I’m away from my WIP because I’m revising and editing other projects, I have the collage and music to pull me back into the story. At some point, I’ll post my stuff that I did for the class. I really wish I’d made them for the book I’m revising now. I have no doubt it would help the whole process.

On perseverance:

Tawna Fenske talks about pushing through the crap to find success in her post “Taking One Mouthful at a Time

Over on the Wordbitches site, Elena Aitken talks about finding the time to write. It’s a question that a lot of people ask writers, especially those with small children. My answer: write when the kids are busy. I am the master of pounding out 1000 words during any practice for any sport or activity. You’d be surprised at how quickly those words add up.

Kristen Lamb talks about what it takes to become a career author, which is the ultimate goal for most of us. It’s more than just pounding out the words, but we have to maintain a balance or it won’t work.

Finally, just for fun, Marcy Kennedy has a post for the Geek in all of us. What Star Trek Race Are You? I thought I would’ve been Spock, but it turns out, I’m Borg, like Seven of Nine (if only I could look that good too 🙂  )

Who are you most like?

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Friday Favorites – Resolutions, Writing, and Inspiration

Resolutions–

Since this is the first week of the new year, most bloggers have talked about resolutions. I’ve said lots of times that I’m not a resolution kind of person. I’m a goal setter, which is something I do throughout the year. So, in looking at the posts out there this week, I chose the ones that are the most realistic (I think):

Kristen Lamb writes about planning for success in the new year. These are resolutions I can get behind. I agree with the entire list, but of the items, #3 is the most difficult for me. I am a member of an RWA chapter and I attend meetings regularly. We are a critique chapter, so there is so much to learn, even when it’s not my stuff being critiqued. The hard part is finding critique partners who fit with you: you write at about the same pace and are at about the same place in the journey toward publication. I know people who are already published and are dealing with issues related to that and people who are somewhere behind me, like just finishing their first manuscript. Finding the right fit is hard.

Ginger Calem, who is a fitness trainer in addition to being a writer, is issuing a challenge to writers to become more fit. WritersButt will appear on her blog weekly with a plan to increase your exercise. I found this post late because I was behind (no pun intended) in reading this week, so I haven’t started, but plan to. For the first week, Ginger wants us to drink 100 oz of water a day and do 10 squats every time we go to the bathroom. That sounds easy enough. It’s not taking lots of time away from other stuff, so I might actually follow through.

Writing Advice–

E.J. Wesley talks about the 5 things we can do to become better writers in 2012. Not really resolutions, but things we should be doing anyway (like reading). For me, I think I’ve got these covered. I read a book per week on average, I’ve finished writing 5 1/2 books in the last 4 1/2 years (not all revised, but they’re written), I take at least 1-2 craft classes a year, and I haven’t given up despite the rejections I’ve received. The one I skipped over was to quit being hard on myself. I don’t walk around thinking that I suck as a writer (or I probably would’ve given up long ago), but I am hard on myself. It’s how I push myself to do all the other things on the list.

Jenny Crusie and her friend Krissie (Anne Stuart) have started a new blog called Re-inventing Fabulous. They both have some major life changes they’d like to make and are journaling on the blog for both accountability and support. Now, if you read Jenny Crusie’s books or her author blog, you know that she is a phenomenal writer. She could write her grocery list and I’d pay money to read it (she’s that good). Not only is she funny and great with words, but she’s so damn smart and educated that I always learn from her. This particular post is about not being able to write, as in being stuck, and how pushing harder isn’t necessarily the answer. She ends with:

image taken from Re-inventingfabulous.com

Something that a lot of writers do before they begin the first draft of a manuscript is create a playlist of songs that go with the book. I did it for the first time for my current WIP and I love it. Whenever I’ve been away from my book, I can play the songs and get right back into my characters. The problem for me is finding appropriate music. Although I love music and listen to it all the time, I don’t seek out new stuff. I’m the kind of person that can put on one radio station and never change it — like for years. When creating a playlist for a book, you don’t want to choose songs that have a personal connection for you (or you’ll be bringing up your own memories instead of focusing on the book) and you don’t want something that’s going to be overplayed when you’re not focusing on your book. Angela Peart did a great post on music that inspires her. I had a lot of fun listening to the different bands and songs. It gives me a place to start looking for new music when I need another playlist.

As writers, words are everything. We all have what is known as our “echo” words. Words that we overuse because they’re just part of our everyday vocabulary. (one of mine is just). Julie Glover did a fun post on words that should be banished because of overuse or misuse. Most of these are words or phrases that become popular and then become embedded in everything we read and see. It’s an interesting list. I don’t think I’m too guilty of those.

Just for Fun–

I wanted to include this link because the artwork is amazing (one of Julie’s overused words). I’m not an artist and I love seeing what some people can do with something that seems so simple – chalk. Myndi Shafer posted this on her blog and the art will take your breath away because it looks so real. It reminded me of the scene in Mary Poppins when Mary, Burt, and the children jump into the sidewalk painting.

How is the first week of the new year treating you? Are you following your goals/resolutions?

Friday Favorites – Mash-up of Fun

I’ve had a busy couple of weeks, especially with the holiday in there, but I did manage to find some awesome gems to read in my downtime. I hope you enjoy.

Since I didn’t do any kind of mash-up last week, I know I missed out on a bunch of Thanksgiving-related blogs.

Thankfully, Angela Peart did a Thanksgiving mash-up that offered me much to read.

Writing advice for the week —

Catie Rhodes talks about how to build characters through small traits. Great ideas. I think it’s the small things that make characters interesting and memorable.

Tawna Fenske describes how music lends itself to a writer’s process. I recently took a class with Lani Diane Rich that focused on the Discovery part of writing. The beginning stuff, where we get to know our characters. One of the assignments was to create a soundtrack for our WIPs. It wasn’t easy to create, but it definitely helps get me focused while writing. When listening to music does it influence how you writer?

Merry Farmer offers the only writing advice you’ll ever need. Mostly common sense, but we all need to hear it when we’re bombarded with conflicting advice daily.

Food and Drink–

With the holidays upon us, lots of food and alcoholic concoctions are consumed. Personally, I’m a baker. I cook for my family out of necessity, but I bake out of love.

Myndi Shafer offers her family’s cream cheese cookie recipe that I think I’m going to try.

To go along with those cookies, Jillian Dodd gives us the recipe for holiday-themed cocktails.

Just for Fun–

Over on the Bettyverse, Nan writes about the importance of childhood dreams and how they can have a lasting impact on our lives.

Tiffany White does a weekly roundup of good TV on her Worth a Watch Wednesday. As a fellow TV lover, I read her post every week. This week she talks about Unforgettable, yet another new show I tune into. Check out her previous weeks’ posts for recommendations and critiques.

Jenny Hansen has a great post on creative swearing. When my children were smaller, I tried not to swear, but I’ve pretty much abandoned that attempt. By child number 3, my thought is that I can do what I want because I’m an adult. Of course, that means that she can swear better than anyone.

Here’s a little blurb that shows the power of social networking and Twitter. Artists gather to record a song to raise money for charity.

And finally, a friend of mine had a book release this week. Marilyn Brant’s book A Summer in Europe is now on sale. To celebrate, she’s taking readers on a virtual European tour. Check her web site to follow her blogs on the journey.

Thanks for checking out my blog. Have fun visiting the sites I’ve linked to. With all the great advice I’ve listed, it’s hard to choose a favorite, but I think Jenny Hansen wins with her creative swearing. Between the list she gives and reading the comments, I had a heck of a laugh. How about you? How do you curb your potty mouth?