My Favorite Book Today

Guess why.

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You can buy it here or get free last minute advice on the author’s website here.

Good luck!

Escape Reading

I am and always will be a reader first, then a writer. Yes, that means it’s Reading Friday.

Despite the fact that my intention is to talk about reading and not writing, it’s difficult to separate the two. I am reminded of the time when I first started writing romance novels. Again and again I heard people say, “I read so many bad books, I finally decided even I could do better than that,” or, “If somebody sold this piece of crap, I could sell a book, too,” and variations on that theme.

I understand having a target that’s approachable, and that is certainly one way to find one. But I was never, ever inspired by what I perceived as bad books and bad writing. If anything, they just frustrated me and sometimes even depressed me until I felt ground down into the hot tar asphalt street under some successful “bad” writer’s stiletto heel.

The only thing that ever inspired me to write was reading something wonderful.

Still is, for that matter.

I read to escape. I read to feel. I read to be inspired. I read to be relieved of the moment’s stresses and pains.

gwtw1When I was overwhelmed to the point of tears by being a young mom of three young boys, in the middle of a move to a new house, buried under mess and boxes–in both houses, old and new–and I was given a few hours alone in the old house to make sense of things while somebody else took care of the boys? I spent two hours with my head buried in Gone With the Winda book I’d found in one of those boxes, that I’d forgotten I even owned.

And when the clock finally told me it was time to get moving or else my truancy from adult responsibility would be discovered, I flew through those boxes with a soaring spirit, my imagination in a different place and a different time, looking forward to the next stolen hours. (I am compelled to say that the next time I attempted to read Gone With the Wind I read it with new eyes, and was not able to keep going, but that’s another story for another day.)

When I’ve been under similar pressures to meet writing deadlines, again, if I can find a wonderful book to read, nothing gets me in that zone so well. The book may have nothing to do with what I’m writing–in fact, it shouldn’t have a connection to what I’m writing. It has to be a different world. When I’m writing, a well-turned phrase, a passionate kiss, a blood-curdling murder, a soul-searing sacrifice–these things inspire me to write harder, write better, write more.

To keep writing.

What about you? Does reading provide you an escape, or when you’re overburdened is the only way to deal with it to shove aside distractions like books and dive in and get things done?

 

 

 

WWW Wednesday 4-9-2014

WWW Wednesday. This meme is from shouldbereading.

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 are you currently reading?

Klasky-PerfectPitch200x300I’m about to start Mindy Klasky’s Perfect Pitch. It’s only .99, and is the first in a nine-book series that will all be published this baseball season! I have a lot more about them here, and am very excited to start reading them for myself.

Reigning beauty queen Samantha Winger is launching her pet project, a music program for kids. All she has to do is follow the pageant’s rules—no smoking, drinking, or “cavorting” in public.

That’s fine, until D.J. Thomas—God’s gift to baseball—throws her a wild pitch. He slams her in an interview, and the video goes viral. Sam’s no shrinking violet. She parlays D.J.’s apology into a national T.V. appearance—and a very unexpected, very public kiss.

And then things really get interesting…

• What did you recently finish reading?

612PynVz9bL._SL300_I just finished listening to Mary Jo Putney’s The Bargain, and what a delight it was.

Forced to wed to keep her inheritance, independent Lady Jocelyn Kendal finds an outrageous solution: she proposes marriage to Major David Lancaster, an officer dying from his Waterloo wounds. In return for making her his wife, she will provide for his governess sister. But after the bargain is struck and the marriage is made, the major makes a shocking, miraculous recovery. [Of course he does.] Though they agree to an annulment, such matters take time. . .time enough for David to realize he is irrevocably in love with his wife.

And that’s just the surface story. The backstory and the reason why Jocelyn is convinced she doesn’t want passion or a marriage [even though she's more than eager to have an affair with a certain playboy Duke] is unexpected and believable. If you like historical romance, you’ll love this one. I mentioned before loving a new writer [to me, at least], Emma Newman, and her Split Worlds series.  Emma Newman was also the reader for Putney’s, The Bargain, and I love her voice and style.

• What do you think you’ll read next?

common demonimatorCommon Denominator by CE Wolff. I’m so excited about this one! It was written by one of my former students, and has some great reviews.

Art can be messy. Art can get your ear cut off. Art can be deadly. Jess Freeman sees the painting on the wall but best friend, Paul Noland, finds a work of art beyond exquisite. When Paul falls for a young museum curator, he puts himself and Jess in the middle of a forgery scheme that could kill them both.

Sounds fun, eh?

What about you? What have you been reading lately? Put the link to your WWW Wednesday entry in comments, or just tell me!

 

Guest Post: How a Baseball Virgin Becomes a True Fan

Hint: It involves hot guys, both the girlhood-crush kind, and the one-you-marry kind.

Today I welcome Mindy Klasky to planetpooks.

Mindy is a friend, a fellow member of Book View Café, and an inspiration as a writer and a promotions goddess. I’m thrilled to be part of her blog tour to launch the first book in her Diamond Brides series, a series of nine romance novels involving the players on her fictitious team, the Raleigh Rockets.

Take it away, Mindy!

Mindy KlaskyIF I CLOSE MY EYES, I can still see the scene:  Me, in a hideous green and white uniform, standing at the plate.  We’re in ninth grade gym class and it’s baseball season.  My team is behind by three runs, the bases are loaded, there are two outs, and I’m at the plate.  (For people who don’t play baseball, that all adds up to:  The entire game depended on me.  Which was seriously unfortunate, because I hadn’t managed to get my bat on the ball for the entire semester.)

We had a new gym teacher.  Mr. Harrison was drop-dead gorgeous – tall, blond, with a killer smile and a glint in his eye.  Every girl in ninth grade was in love with him, myself included.

Mr. Harrison stood behind the plate.  He told me to choke up on the bat.  He instructed me to keep my eye on the ball.  He told me to balance on my back leg.  He gave me a hundred and one different instructions, and I did my best to follow them.

Strike one.  Strike two.  Strike three.  I was out, and my team lost the game.

What?  You were expecting some miracle ending?  Mr. Harrison was a miracle to look at, but that gym class was very much rooted in the real world.

But as I walked back to the locker room, Mr. Harrison said, “Good try.  Next time.”  And he smiled at me.  And to a fourteen-year-old girl with a monster crush, that smile was enough to get me to suit up the next day, to pick up the bat the next time, to try again.

Okay, I never hit a game-winning home run.  But I did eventually get the bat on the ball.  And Mr. Harrison said, “I knew you could do it!”  And I floated for days after that vote of confidence.

At the end of the year, I moved away from that town. At my new school, we spent more time cross-country skiing than playing baseball.  (I wasn’t any better on skis than I was at the plate.)  Mr. Harrison was replaced by Coach Anastos (and that was definitely not an improvement.)

Decades went by.  I dated a bunch of guys who were wrong for me.  I found one guy who was right for me, even though he was a baseball fan.  I married that guy. I learned a lot about baseball (originally as a matter of self-defense, so that I could talk with my husband about the pastime he loves so much, then as a matter of honest independent enjoyment.)

I watched a lot of baseball.  We’re talking dozens of games a season, all nine innings of every game (because who would ever stop watching a game before the end?)

And I started to put together an idea for a romance series, building it around the (imaginary) Raleigh Rockets baseball team.  I knew I wanted to write nine novels – nine innings in the game, nine position players on a team.

I came up with nine heroines.  I figured out conflicts for each of them, plots to wrap around them.

And then I began to focus on my heroes – who they were, how they played the game.  And I was as surprised as anyone that Mr. Harrison resurfaced in my mind.

Sure, he was transformed a bit when he became DJ Thomas, the hero of PERFECT PITCH.  DJ was nowhere near as supportive of his son as Mr. Harrison had been of me.  But the drive to succeed?  The belief that we can each live up to our full potential?  The killer smile that made a naïve schoolgirl melt?  That was Mr. Harrison, through and through.

Inspiration surfaces in the strangest places.  If you’re a writer, what’s the oddest inspiration you ever used in your work?  If you’re a reader, what’s the oddest link you ever made with a book, the strangest connection that just twanged and let you know that was the right book for you at that precise moment in time?

~~~

Klasky-PerfectPitch200x300Reigning beauty queen Samantha Winger is launching her pet project, a music program for kids. All she has to do is follow the pageant’s rules—no smoking, drinking, or “cavorting” in public.

That’s fine, until D.J. Thomas—God’s gift to baseball—throws her a wild pitch. He slams her in an interview, and the video goes viral. Sam’s no shrinking violet. She parlays D.J.’s apology into a national T.V. appearance—and a very unexpected, very public kiss.

Soon, paparazzi catch the couple in a steamy make-out session, and Sam’s music program is on the block. The blazing hot relationship is threatened even more when D.J.’s son begs to trade in Little League for music class.

Can Sam and D.J. sizzle past the sour notes and find their perfect pitch?

Available for purchase here: Perfect Pitch  (Amazon Kindle | Amazon Print | B&N Nook | B&N Print | Book View Cafe | Createspace Print | Kobo)  More links to come!

Tonight, In Tempe, Arizona…

If you’re in the neighborhood, drop by! [Click poster for details.]

 

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Guest Post: A taste for writing Or Why I blame my writing career on two kittens

Today I welcome Billye Johnson to my blog to tell us about her life of reading.

492px-Color_KittensLittle Golden Books provided inexpensive books with delightful stories so most children could have books to keep and love. I had a charmed childhood in a family that read – incessantly. That’s how I met the two green-eyed kittens, Brush and Hush, in The Color Kittens. Of all the Little Golden Books in my house, this was my favorite. While others might be drawn to The Saggy Baggy Elephant or The Pokey Little Puppy, I was true to my artistic kittens.

They poured paint from their buckets and created streams of green from mixing yellow and blue, purple emerged from blue and red. The colors were endless. If they could create colors on paper with paint, I knew I must be able to do that too. My mother, in an age before healthy snacks, would make vanilla buttercream frosting then recreate the colors with drops of food dye and spread the concoction on graham cracker squares. A tastier lesson is art there never was.

Most of all, I loved the words. Oh, the glory of the story that I could curl up with time after time. Soon I was reading on my own. Like my mother reading to me, I traced each word that I had memorized. Someone named Margaret Wise Brown had given me words in my favorite book.

I wanted to do the same.

I pretended to write stories, mere scribbles on paper. I would “read” these to the children in the neighborhood when we played school. Books were more than stories to me. They were a source of such delight. I could sit quietly and read (or pretend to). I reveled in the colors and adored the placement of the words. I would press my face into the pages and inhale the scent of ink and paper. I loved my books so much that I knew they must taste as good as they looked. Experimentally, I touched my tongue to the slick cover of The Color Kittens, hoping that it was as delicious as the frosting. And it was TERRIBLE.

I understand that we remember taste more clearly than other senses. To this day, I can remember the sharp taste of the ink and gloss from the cover. No amount of Juicy Fruit gum could take that flavor away.

“Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.”
Francis Bacon

Obviously, Sir Francis Bacon had never had a Little Golden Book to munch on.

 

After that experience, I confined my book sampling to reading. I want to travel with The Bobbsey Twins. I wanted Danny Dunn to be my best friend. I wished I could have my own boxcar like The Boxcar Children (and a bit of fun without grownups). As I got older, I wanted to be Iola, the lone girl in The Hardy Boys adventures. I even wanted a flivver like Nancy Drew had.

Most of all, I wanted to be a writer. My first rejection letter came from Jack and Jill Magazine for a piece I had carefully written on my Big Chief tablet with my fat no.2 pencil. It was a typewritten response on their letterhead, encouraging me to continue writing. I wish of all the pieces of paper my parents saved over the decades, that one letter could be found.

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To the best of my knowledge, Billye no longer eats books. But I wouldn’t swear to it.

My high school English teacher, Greta Crooks, took me aside on the last day of my senior year and told me that I needed to become a writer. I tried for years to be someone with a sane career and a regular paycheck but I was always happiest to be the writer.

And it all started with two little kittens named Brush and Hush. Thank you, Margaret Wise Brown, for planting the first seeds.  Bless you, Greta Crooks, for watching them sprout and encouraging me to nurture them.

Billye Johnson has been writing professionally for over 25
years. In addition to freelance writing for
national and international magazines, her writings include co-authoring books,
ghostwriting business articles, and forays
into the world of children’s books and
romance novels. She is an editor for LL
-Publications, an independent publisher based in Scotland.

Guest Post: Steal This Blog Post!

Okay not really but I thought the title was funny.

Um.  Link this blog post.  Link!

This post is really about reading.  And Patricia said write whatever I want so here we are, you are my captive audience while I write whatever I want about reading.  Yay!

Okay, it could be trouble.  But stick with me, it could also be fun.

IRONY

The irony of being a writer/teacher/sometimes competition reader is the reason I became a writer in the first place was love of reading.  But now, I have so much “assigned reading,” it’s hard to make time to read just for love of reading.

But I still do it.

71v6jO4RTrL._SL1024_I’ve called reading-I-have-to-do-because-it’s-the-job “assigned reading” ever since college.  Then, too, there was such a heavy reading load, it was hard to steal time for just me to just read for just fun instead of for an assignment or grade or test or class.  I made the time, though, then.  [Like a crack addict, I’d be huddled under a desk sneaking Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine.]  And I still make the time now.

Somehow, somewhere, in the middle of everything, I give the assigned reading pile the finger and steal time for just me to read just for fun.

It keeps me sane.  [Yes, I said “sane,” no cracks.]

 

TODDLERS ON CRACK TEXT

I’ve been reading since before I actually could read.  I come from readers.  And writers.  And two grandparents were English teachers.  All of the adults around me read.  A LOT.  And my mother read to me each night before bed when I was a little kid.  As in really little, a toddler.

My mother didn’t have a lot of patience for “The Little Train That Could” so at night, at bedtime, when she pulled out books to read, they’d be The HobbitThe Chronicles of NarniaMary PoppinsPeter PanPinocchioThe Jungle Book.

Reepicheep

Reepicheep!

Not the Disney versions.  The original hard bound books.  And we had them all.  Not because there was a lot of cash in the house for big book collections.  But we found them all at second hand shops.  It was a hunt when we hit those shops, and a treasure find when we’d find entire collections of hard bound books and take them home.

[I was probably the only five year old on the block who knew the books and had never seen the movies.]

[I’m also still madly in love with Reepicheep.]

 

LOVE AND LETTERS

I learned to read following the letters on the pages of those books as my mother read them out loud to me at night before sleep.   She ran her index finger below the sentences while she was reading.  And I listened, watching that index finger pointing out the words and sentences each night until I dropped into asleep.

[This would later seriously piss off first grade teachers who didn’t approve of a’s with little flags on them.]

There are so many books that left impressions on me.  My first experiences with a second language would be trying to read Tintin in French.  I can’t get on an elevator without remembering Babar’s spats.  I fell in love in a bookstore with The Violet Fairy Book and was so stuck on it, the parents bought it for me new instead of second hand.

But when I remember all those books, the one that stands out still is From The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler [E.L. Konigsburg].

 

9780689711817_p0_v4_s260x420FROM THE MIXED UP FILES OF MRS. BASIL E. FRANKWEILER

From the Mixed Up Files is a story about a young girl who runs away and takes her little brother with [he has a cool radio and some saved up allowance so it’s worth the added responsibility] and they live secretly in a museum.  If you want to make big points with a seven year old, put it on the Christmas list.  That book was a gift from my second father’s mother.  Grandmother was always suspicious of me because I was not her son’s biological daughter, but she still had the kindness of heart to hand me that book as a gift and I’ll always be thankful to her for that.

[She also is one of the English teacher grandmothers and when I have to speak “proper,” boy howdy can I.  I just like to cheat.  Sorry, Grandmother, maybe you were right to be suspicious.]

Later I would discover science fiction and scream through the genre with an intensity that scared hell out of the local librarian.  Discover Conan and Red Sonja comics.  [My second father’s wife Bunny had the entire series in trunks.]  And when I hit puberty fall in love with romance novels.  Which a friend’s mother ordered by the crate so I would carry home paper grocery bags of books and rip through five a day.  This appalled my mother who, if you caught her reading list above, had a serious thing for UK writers and also considered romance novels “trash.”

 

THIS IS YOUR BRAIN:  THIS IS YOUR BRAIN ON ROMANCE NOVELS

My mother told me those romance novels would rot my brain.

I told her romance novelists made a boatload of cash and I was studying them to write them and make boatloads of cash.

This was a seat of the pants lie, [I was a manipulative child and fast on my feet] but it sounded good at the time and was enough to make her hopeful, even if I was “rotting my brain,”  it might pay off in the end.  I got to read romance novels without objection after that.  And hey, I did become a writer in the end.

 

TODAY

I still love romance.  I’ve read most, probably all, of Patricia’s early novels.  And for fun you might check out Bonnie K. Winn and Karen Rigley too.  I still love science fiction.  C.J. Cherryh is my favorite science fiction author.   Merchanter’s Luck still rips my heart out every time I read it and I’ve read it five times  – and the Cyteen series is the smartest best science fiction series ever written if you ask me.  Also if you haven’t read Ursula K. LeGuin’s Left Hand of Darkness, well, you don’t know science fiction.  I still love the UK classics I absorbed before I hit kindergarten.  I love contemporary fiction, read Bobby Faye’s Very (very, very, very) Bad Day if you haven’t.  It’s freaking hilarious and wonderful and written by Toni McGee Causey – who swears her problematic heroine is in part based on me but I can tell you on a stack of bibles I never once triggered a bank robbery just by walking into a bank.  [Leaving, okay, but no just by walking in.  Sheez.]

Outlander_Cast_Jamie_420x560_v2

Jamie!

Also, I fell in love all over again and totally cheated on Reepicheep when I met Jamie in the Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldan.  Don’t tell Reepicheep.

 

GEORGE R.R. MARTIN MAY HAVE SAID THIS

Someone once said — it might be George R.R. Martin but I do not remember it could have been Samuel Clemens too internet quotes are highly problematic also I have to paraphrase here because I do not remember the quote exactly but someone once said –

A person who does not read lives one life.  A person who reads lives many.

I have lived a million lives.

I wish to you a million lives.

max with dogs

Max with pups!

Bio:  Max Adams is an author and award winning screenwriter. She has written professionally for Columbia Pictures, Hollywood Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, Universal Pictures, Walt Disney Studios, and Tri-Star Pictures. She has lectured and taught at University of Southern California, Squaw Valley Community of Writers, Film Arts Foundation, New York Film Academy, Gotham Writers, University of Utah, and the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences. She is a former Writers Guild of America online screenwriting mentor, is the founder of two international online screenwriting workshops, The Left Door and 5150,  is the author of The New Screenwriter’s Survival Guide;  Or, Guerrilla Meeting Tactics and Other Acts of War, is a University of Utah associate professor and is the founder of the The Academy of Film Writing. Her produced feature film projects include Excess Baggage, The Ladykillers, and One For the Money.