When I opened up my email from Borders this morning one of the first things that caught my eye was a new release, THE GIVEN DAY, by Dennis Lehane.


Now, there are a few things that will always suck me into a story. The first is that "catch your eye" thing. Very vague, I know. But it can be any number of things that will bring me to the point where I investigate a book further, especially since it has to be something quite intriguing to get me read outside romance. Usually, it's something that has a bit of history that I'm interested in, and if it includes a bit of Boston history, all the better.


In the case of THE GIVEN DAY, it's set in 1919 in Boston. Around that time, my family was living in Medford, Mass. So, I was hooked when I read the following blurb:


Set in Boston, the book revolves around the police strike of 1919 and its ramifications for two very different main characters. Capturing the maelstrom of a city—and a nation—at the crossroads, the book is a fascinating portrayal of race, politics, family, and greed.


The second draw was the video interview with the author. (if you want to see his interview, click here)I've bought a lot of books based on author interviews. Dennis Lehanes interview sealed the deal for me. Not because I thought he was well versed, or even comfortable in front of the camera... Heck, half the time he looked like he'd rather be doing something else. It was the passion with which he talked about his love of Boston, it's neighborhood's, triumphs, struggles, and even mistakes. This was what sucked me in. Anyone who has that kind of passion into their story will bring me in as a reader everytime. I don't want the rehearsed speech, the designer clothes and the vocabulary that goes over my head. I want passion. I want purpose. And I want someone who cared so much about a story that they couldn't help save write the book. As an author, I'd hope that when a reader reads my story they'll get just a little of that passion that I try to infuse in my own stories.


Mr. Lehane... I'm off to reserve your book. I can't wait to read it.

Inspiration...


We had dinner tonight at a diner up the street from my home. They have old 45's (think compact disk before compact disk) hanging on the wall. One of them was for Electric Light Orchestra's All Over the World. And in one moment I was a teenager again.In 1980, I was 13 (again, please don't do the math) and I was a wanna be writer with a huge imagination and a teenager's thirst for the romantics and a quest for identity. Along came the movie Xanadu, featuring the beautiful Olivia Newton John (shortly after her fame with Grease) and the movie highlighted all the things that my 13 year old self loved.It was the 80's and there were an awful lot of us roller skating. Even my mom took up roller skating. There was great music, lots of fun and cool guys who knew how to do all the fancy tricks. (But I digress). I was never an expert at skating, but I could go forward and backward and earned myself quite a few blisters. I never looked as cool as Olivia did in those long flowy dresses, but chances were quite good that if I'd worn them I'd have ended up on the floor with the skirt up around my neck. I did however have a couple of pairs of nifty leg warmers in rainbow colors that I used to wear. That was the year that the movie Xanadu was released. For those of you who have never seen it, I can assure you that it can still be found. It can actually be downloaded or rented from iTunes. And in case you haven't seen it, then this is a spoiler alert


*******Don't read more if you don't want to know the storyline***********





The movie starts when a record album artist, Sonny, played by the dreamy Micheal Beck, is asked to paint a cover and finds that the girl in the picture is the same one who kissed him earlier and then skated away on the boardwalk. He knows that somehow he has to find her and he traces the picture to an old art deco auditorium (the Pan American building?). There he meets Danny, played by none other than Gene Kelly as an aspiring night club owner. Now, for anyone out there saying Gene who? Shame on you! I'd been half in love with him since the first time I saw Singing in the Rain. No one could dance like he could and make it look so effortless. (Except maybe for Danny Kaye). Together, they decide to open the nightclub of their dreams. Then along come Olivia's character, Kira. She's beautiful and soul awakening. But Olivia's character, Kira had a secret. She was a daughter of Zeus and one of the legendary Muses. She has come to earth to inspire until the time she recalled. But she falls in love with Sonny, Beck's character. Her parents are angered, but it's her impassioned plea that convinces them to let her stay with him for a moment or forever. Unfortunately, their idea of time is not the same as ours and they recall Kira. Sonny is depressed and convinced that his dreams are nothing with Kira. Opening night and the place is packed. Everyone loves it and Sonny is still upset about Kira. But he is surprised when she suddenly reappears. And... sigh... all is well in the end. All the songs were dreamy and romantic and I played them so much that they began to skip. Somewhere I may still have my copy of All Around the World. And if ELO is still out there... Thank you. So, what does this have to do with a 13 year old girl who wanted to be a writer? O-So-Much! That story had all the things that I dreamed of and inspired me to put my pen to paper and start me on my path. It wasn't the only inspiration, but it was a strong one. Many would say that the movie was nothing more than sappy fairy tale on roller skates... And I say... We all need a good sappy fairy tale on roller skates at some point in our lives. I may even go dig out a pair of skates!

I visited Paulo Coehelo's blog and was amazed at the amount of time and effort he puts into both his writing and his promotion. The man is incredible (not to mention he's a international jetsetter and bestselling author). Anyway, he mentioned that he posts regularly on his Amazon blog and this shamed me into going back to post something on mine.

Want to read it? Check it out here! And I'm making a promise to be much better about keeping up with it. I even went and updated my BookTour page. Of course, I just sent out my postcards for Obsidian's upcoming rerelease!

I was part of a workshop this past week given through Paranormal Workshops, a yahoo group. This months workshop was from Jennifer Dunne and the topic was Abundance Thinking. It talked about clearing your blockages to change your thinking and to attract those things you desire to your life.
Though I didn't participate much, I did read the entries with interest. And they got me to thinking about attracting those things in our life that we need most. Notice that I didn't say "the things we WANT most". Because frankly, a lot of the things we think we need we really don't. I really want a new car and enough money to do all the things that I'd like. What I need is a healthy body and a to feel confident in my abilities enough to attract those around me who can help me. Does this make sense? Want and need. Those are concepts that so many people confuse. We tend to obsess on the things we want. I want to win the lottery. I'm going to buy tons of tickets with the hope of winning. I'm going to go without something else to take bargain for something I want. I see it a lot in my job. People who spend exorbitant amounts of money on scratch tickets and lottery tickets, all in the hopes of being that one in a million. Now, I'm not trying to preach here. I buy my own share of lottery tickets and I've even been known to tell them at work that if I win the lottery I won't be in the next morning. But I do know the difference between want and need.
I need to stay healthy so that I can be there for my kids in the future. I know this, and there are a lot of times when I get off track and forget that this is a need that I can't ignore. This week I got another wake up call. I'm okay, but it was a strict reminder that I need to take care of myself. I'll be a little better about it... at least for awhile.
One other example happened about a little over a year ago. When it comes to September I always have a hard time because it was during this time that my mom became really sick and died. Anyway, I was missing her a lot and I was sitting by self wondering if she had any idea of where I was in my life. I was a bit depressed, missing my best friend. I went about my day, did my job, put on a good face for everyone and at the end of the day, when I was finally leaving work I was going out the door when I happened to meet up with my mom's friend, Brenda. She'd worked with Brenda for years. We had a short conversation and during that time I mentioned that I had my first book was coming out. Brenda smiled and told me how proud my mom was of me. Not... would be. But was. This was one of those things that I needed. I asked and I got. Does make one think that there is something to it. Doesn't it?

Did you know?

Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States when men and women are considered separately, and the second leading cause when both sexes are combined. It is expected to cause about 49,960 deaths (24,260 men and 25,700 women) during 2008.

http://www.cancer.org/docroot/CRI/content/CRI_2_4_1X_What_are_the_key_statistics_for_colon_and_rectum_cancer.asp
or the Tiny url...


http://tinyurl.com/6f8jow


In 2004 (the most recent statistics available)
 73,997 men and 71,086 women were diagnosed with colorectal cancer
 26,881 men and 26,699 women died from colorectal cancer

http://www.cdc.gov/CANCER/colorectal/statistics/

 Each year, more than 50,000 people die from colorectal cancer.

 Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of death due to cancer for men and women combined. (Lung cancer is the first.)

 Someone dies from colorectal cancer every 9.3 minutes.

 More lives are lost each year to colorectal cancer than to breast cancer and AIDS combined.
Colorectal cancer is one of the most common, and yet preventable, cancers.

To learn more about colorectal cancer prevention, please read Top 10 Colon Cancer Prevention Tips.

http://coloncancer.about.com/od/cancerstatistics/a/US_Death_CRC.htm

These are all staggering statistics. I've given credit for the places where I got the information and there is more on their sites. Read these statistics and take it to heart. No history of it in your family? It has to start somewhere.


For more information on Colorectal Cancer and the preventions... please check out the links I've provided. If you think you may have a problem, please be tested now... the sooner the better your chances.

Plebes vs Patrician

Ann DeFee did an interesting blog over on Tote Bags and Blogs on Plebes and Patricians. (http://authorsoundrelations.blogspot.com/2008/09/plebe-or-patrician.html) These terms caught my eye as I haven't thought about those particular terms since I took a college history course. But the idea intrigued me. They talked about the differences in our personalities. The more refined of our traits versus... shall we say... our more earthier tendencies. Ann admitted to a fetish for fancy china and it being offset by her love of reality shows. To me, she's found a great way to balance out the two. But this had me thinking about how I balance my own plebe and patrician sides.

Patrician side: Believe it or not, I actually come from a couple of rather well distinguished shipping families. Peleg Merriman, and yes, that was his name, was a Captain who managed to accrue himself a nice home and a lovely family. His descendants had one of the first cars in Harpswell an had done quite well for themselves. That is until the homestead burned and most of the Merriman legacy was lost. On the upside, my grandmother was in the house and the time and she managed to escape which is most fortunate for me. The other side were the Gott's of Mt. Desert Island. Most people would say Gott who? But for anyone who has seen a history of the island then you know that they were among the first settlers of the area that now encompasses Acadia National Park and the beautiful islands beyond. If there was a fortune there it's well past being passed along, but the legacy is still there.

My Plebeian side is certainly my more pronounced. Though I have long since learned to speak without the Maine accent, but there are times when it does become more pronounced. Usually, this involves a small amount of alcohol or a conversation with someone who has a strong Maine accent. I also drive way too fast and have a love of trucks and large vehicles, especially when I combine the driving too fast with the large vehicles. I had a truck for awhile, but now go the softball mom route with a nice Durango that satisfies it all. I never miss an episode of Ghost Hunters and I've been known to cry over Deadliest Catch. I love country music or even Irish Rock, especially heavy Irish Rock. And, I can swear like the best of them.

Is my Plebeian side more interesting than my Patrician side? No doubt. But neither of these alone would be a complete picture of me. The same as my characters that I write it takes both sides of myself to make me whole. Another interesting part is that there have been times in my life when I fall back on this more Plebeian side of myself. When my confidence wavered I fell back on the more unrefined part of me as a way to protect myself. I can surely imagine a character doing the same thing. Falling back on what they think people's expectations of them are as a way to protect them from the chance of being let down.

These are the things that make us human. These are the things that make our characters believable.

Twilight No More?



Stephenie Meyers has a real dilema. One that could affect all writers. Her work was stolen before publication and put out on the internet for all to see.

Any writer who reads this should be afraid. Not just the ones that garner the huge amount of marketing dollars that a book as popular as the Twilight series. Any author who is working toward publication should be watching the way this plays out. Unfortunately for Stephenie this is a saga that is playing out to national attention. Want to know more about it? Check out this link:


http://tiny.cc/m8WSi



As a writer, I can only imagine what it feels like to know that something that you've worked so hard on, something that has taken two other books to get to... has been pulled away from her. I don't know about any other writers, but if it were me I'd be heartbroken. The choices she has in front of her must seem impossible. I know that when I work on a book, the idea that I might have to change it in it's entirety, a manuscript that I had put so much into, I'd find it impossible. The characters become so real, their heartache, their struggles, their lives are real. To have that pulled away is an insult.

I know that there are any number of young women (and young men) out there who are going to go and read the unedited last book online. They've been given the go ahead by Stephenie to do so. But something has been stolen from them as well. So much happens to a book within the final stages. Things that even as writers we can not predict. Every writer should be just a little more cautious in how they handle their own work.

After all, how much more than just a book was stolen from not just Stephenie, from her readers? Shame on you, whoever did this...
The last few days have been busy with the few remaining things that we had to do before school started. My son got off to school fine on Tuesday and is already into the swing of things. My daughter had an extra day, but already I can see that some of the habits are continuing. It looks like it's going to be another sleepless year.
Anyway, my daughter had a project to do for school over the summer that required her to do a family tree. The great part is that I'd done a lot of the genealogy for it years ago. I've got boxes of the stuff. But it had never really been organized. She took on the task of putting it all together and actually putting the information on the family tree chart that I bought years ago. The project was interesting and it netted a few things that surprised us both and some that truly didn't.

Didn't:
I knew that my family for the most part came from the British Isles. Not a big surprise when the majority of them immigrated from England, Scotland and Ireland.

Did: What did surprise us was that there was one lone lady that somehow made it onto the family tree. She was reportedly from Switzerland. This is what I attribute my love of chocolate to... or at the very least, I can say that it's in my genes.

Didn't:
Most of my relatives come from either the Midcoast area of Maine or the Mt. Desert Island area. This is two different sides of the family, mind you. The Mt. Desert side were granted land in the 1700's to settle Mt. Desert and the surrounding islands (probably to get ahead of the French, who also wanted the land). The Midcoast Maine relatives all seemed to stay within the area that was reachable by boat. Even as recent as when my great aunt was growing up, did they go to town by boat instead of by car. Both were very sheltered island communities and the further back you go the more muddy the waters get. It must have been pretty remote with a very small pool of people to pick from when you came of marrying age. That would explain some of the twisted branches on the family tree.

Did: What was surprising was that there were connections between the two sides of the family. My mother's and my father's side shared at least one relative about five generations back. No doubt, it was the shipping industry that brought them into contact. Still, it was interesting to note. I also have Morgan blood on both my grandmother and grandfather's side. They are a bit harder to trace and they were decidedly more recent additions to the family tree. But there is a connection there of sorts.

Regardless of the findings, I am glad to know that the information will continue on. The stories that my grandfather and grandmother told me will continue with my kids and their kids. And through them, they will live on...

Featured Post

Writing from the Dark Side

Heh! I started out calling this blog post "Blogging from the Darkside" and then went to "Writing from the Darkside" ...