Tag Archives: Stephen King

Whatcha Reading?

Hey, Scribesters! Suze here, coming to you from deep in the cave (the writer’s cave and its next-door neighbor, the editor’s cave).

Whatcha reading these days? Me, I’ve got a couple of books going.

Doctor_Sleep[1]Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep. Ever wonder what happened to Danny Torrance, the little Red-rum kid from The Shining? Well, he’s ba-a-a-ack! (I know, I’m mixing movies here) And honestly things are not so great for him. This is classic Stephen King–beautiful writing about horrifying stuff. I don’t want to put this down. I wish I had a couple days of uninterrupted reading time, but, like a fine wine, I need to sip, not guzzle this book. So far, I adore it!

9780062192356_p0_v1_s260x420[1]I’m also reading a YA book, Slither, Book 11 in The Last Apprentice series by Joseph Delaney. This is scary stuff! Think Grimm’s fairy tales with every myth and monster you can think of (and some new ones too) putting our hero, Tom Ward, and the rest of the world into ever-increasing danger. While the prose reads like a middle grade book, in my opinion these stories are not for anyone younger than 6th grade. And the illustrations are gorgeous–done in the style of old woodcut drawings. There’s one more book in the series coming out next year, and while I can’t wait to see if Tom defeats The Fiend once and for all and if Alice can save herself, I’ll be sad to see this series end.

How about you? Are you on a horror kick like I am? What are you reading these days?  

The Presence Unseen

Thea Devine today ruminating on fiction and life. I’ve been watching Under the Dome, which has become of particular interest because in some of the promo Stephen King has done for the series, he’s been pictured in the small Maine he says was the model for the small town in under the Dome.

Bridgton, Maine. It’s a really pretty town, with antique homes, antique shops, a book store, a find-everything-here department store. There’s a lake and a movie theater, and what more do you need in summer?

It’s about ten miles down the road from where we’ve summered for an untold number of years.

John just came back from opening up the house. He said it was good to be back in Maine, to see and catch up with our neighbors and friends. And yet — and yet … there is a presence — of friends who’ve left, friends who have died.

And, as John said , the presence not there is still a presence.

I feel it myself. I’m sure I’ve written before that Maine, for me now, is full of ghosts. I love being there, but I resist going because I know I’ll feel the presence of those I love and miss.

I am, as it were, under the dome. There are monsters in the lake, ghosts hovering in the branches. I shudder to go out at night in the deep darkness where there are no lights, where nothing can be seen, only felt and heard.

I imagine a lurking presence — familiar and unknown.

I’m in Stephen King territory now — in real time, in real life — and thus influenced, I dream up mysteries that haunt the woods behind our house, secrets buried for generations in the attics and cellars of abandoned farms that dot the hills, heroines returning to their roots, running from their bad decisions, heroes who are local, hard-bitten and wise.

The question is, do I write those stories in Maine– or as far away as I can get from the presence of the ghosts?

Or will I still be haunted by the presence unseen?

What would you do? How would you feel?

Thea Devine is currently working on her next erotic contemporary romance. She will be attending RWA and speaking at the NJRWA Put Your Heart in a Book Conference in October.

What is in a name?

Hello Scribblers!  J Monkeys coming atcha from inside a snow globe.  Or at least that’s how it looks from my office window.  A fresh batch of snow fell last night and everything in view is covered – trees, roofs, even the sky is white, matching the gently falling flakes.  Quite a contrast from the book I’ve been reading this morning.

How do you select a book at the store?  Usually, it’s one of two things that prompts me to pick something up – either a cover that attracts my attention, or the author’s name.  When it comes to authors, naturally, it’s repeat business for me – I’m buying books by authors I’ve read before and enjoyed.  Lynn Kurland, Julia Quinn, Julie Garwood, Jude Deveraux.  Sometimes it’s a new book written by a friend or acquaintance – especially when they are written in a genre that isn’t typically my cup of tea, but where I know from experience that I’ll enjoy the ride – Kristan Higgins’ contemporary romances, Katy Lee’s inspirational romances or Casey Wyatt’s urban fantasies, for example. 

This morning, I’m reading a book that I chose based on the author, but it isn’t an author whose work is familiar to me.  In fact, the book I’m reading is his debut novel.  Nor was the book/author recommended to me by a friend.  I’m reading Dracula the Un-Dead written by Dacre Stoker – great grand nephew of Bram Stoker.

dracula-the-un-deadI’m almost exactly to the half-way point in the book and it’s a delight!  It’s not scary, which is a good thing for me because I do NOT like scary stories.  Mr. King’s The Shinning still haunts me 25 years after I read it!  While I loved The Stand, there were parts that I found creepy – I remember reading it while sitting in a corner, hidden from any ghouls lurking in the ether.   But Dracula the Un-Dead seems more like a drama than horror as I think of it today.  It’s written as a sequel to the original book.  In truth it’s co-authored by Dacre Stoke and Ian Holt apparently written (according to Wikipedia) “Because of the Stokers’ frustrating history with Dracula’s copyright, Dacre with encouragement from screenwriter Ian Holt, decided to write “a sequel that bore the Stoker name” to “reestablish creative control over” the original novel.”  What an interesting idea.  I don’t know the extent to which it would reestablish copyright – but hey.

But if you’ve enjoyed the rise in vampire stories in the last decade or so, you might want to take a look at this homage to the original.  It’s well done (at least the first half!) and worth a few of your hard earned dollars.  And, again according to Wikipedia, they wrote it based on Bram’s original notes and stuff pulled out of the original novel.  Again, a cool idea. 

Today’s secret: Dracula is Un-Dead and available at the bookstore once again.  :)  Oh and by the way, they have begun filming season 6 of True Blood, speaking of popular vampires.  The delightful Mr. Skarsgard has revealed a spoiler-ish something from filming.  Click here to find out what.

Today’s question: how do you decide to buy a book?  What changes you from a browser to a buyer?

Welcome, Author Joy Smith

Hello, my lovelies! Suze here. Today I’m thrilled to bring you something different for the Scribes–an interview with nonfiction author Joy Smith. Welcome, Joy!

Thanks for having me here today, Suze. Please let your readers know I am open to any questions, especially about my newest book.

Oh No, They’re Engaged! is not just another wedding planner. It’s written especially for the mother of the bride or groom. Tell us about it.

Suze, like my other non-fiction books, Oh No, They’re Engaged! was born from a combination of practical experience and research. As the subtitle says, it’s really a sanity guide. While I loved the fluff of helping our children, a son and two daughters, plan their weddings, those years were trying–with a ton of emotional and logistical traumas (and pleasures) I could’ve never predicted. My book helps moms guide their “babies” toward making smart decisions about expenses, vendors, rituals–and issues related to their intended mates. For more information, your readers might want to check it out on Amazon or Barnes & noble websites. (Here’s a link)

You are known for your non-fiction books (The Empty Nest Cookbook, Kitchen Afloat, The Perfect First Mate). Are you also trying your talented hand at fiction writing? What are you working on?

“Trying” to write fiction is a good word for it, but frustrating is better. Fiction writing didn’t turn out to be the piece of cake I first thought it. POV, show don’t tell…you get the drift. I’ve completed a couple of manuscripts, but I feel only the latest–a romantic suspense about a gigolo and an ex-nun set in Colombia, SA—has all the right stuff to make it sell. At CTRWA’s Fiction Fest last month, I received four submission requests, so I’m crossing my fingers. At the moment I am plotting my next novel and procrastinating fixing two needy (but completed) MSs so the many, many hours I labored over them won’t have gone to waste.

How do you battle the doubt monster? Doubt Monster: the nagging feeling that your work is terrible and no one in her right mind would read this drivel, let alone buy it.

The doubt monster sits on my shoulder all the time, but I do my best to ignore him (it’s got to be a man). If I believe in my book, in my story, I keep at it until it is right–this could mean picking at an MS for several years. I learned from my non-fiction days to not ever submit a first draft until I’ve edited it to death. An important part of the process is gaining objectivity by allowing the piece to rest unread and untouched for as long as possible. Stephen King, in his fab book On Writing says to put first drafts in a drawer for six months.

Is there a project, non-fiction or fiction, that you want to tackle but haven’t yet? What is holding you back?

Suze, the only thing holding me back is time—and sometimes motivation. I spend much of my time aboard a sailboat. When cruising, it’s hard to stay focused even though I keep a laptop aboard and have no excuse when we’re at dock. On the ocean, my mind goes to mush.

What is the most surprising thing that has happened in your writing career?

At age 50+, I had three non-fiction books published within a three year period and built a reputation as a freelance nautical writer. I never planned to be a writer, but I had always been creative.

They say that every author has a partially completed, quite-possibly-terrible half a manuscript shoved in a drawer somewhere. What is yours? What is it about? What makes it terrible? Would you ever consider picking it up and finishing it?

Last week, I re-read my first real MS, a paranormal romance I had set aside for a year or so, and was appalled. My characters were stereo-typed, my opening sucked, and the plot needed a diet. I WILL fix it because it has potential—no way am I going to let all the research I did to make the story authentic go to waste. This winter I took a fix-your-book-in-a-month class on-line, based on James Bell’s Revision and Self-editing, which helped me get my newest book ready for market. Now that I know the procedure, all I need to do is carve out some serious focus time and apply what I learned to the paranormal. Maybe I’ll dig into it once I get going on the NEW book. Oops. Am I procrastinating?

Do you have a word-related pet peeve?

No, but overly descriptive passages make my eyes glaze over.

What is your junk food of choice?

Ice cream-any kind, any flavor. Put it near me and no matter what diet I’m on, I can’t resist.

What’s the most dangerous or risky thing that you’ve done?

Oh, let me think. I’m a basic chicken, but through my dearest captain, I’ve been drawn into scary situations so many times that I finally told him, no more. I’ve survived the “perfect storm”—20 foot waves and 60 knot winds for two days with a failed engine–and crossed the widest part of the Gulf Stream. In all, I’ve  sailed over 5000 miles on the open ocean—and I’m a lousy swimmer.

Eeek! You spend a lot of time traveling by boat. Where’s the most interesting place you’ve been?  Where haven’t you been that you’d like to go?

Years ago, we chartered a sailboat and cruised the Tahitian islands. The people were gracious, and every island was like a mini Garden of Eden with luscious fruits dripping from trees. We watched while men spearfished for our supper, visited a vanilla farm, and wore hand-dyed pareos–like the natives.

I’ve never been to England, and I’d love to go back to Thailand to visit my brother-in-law.

Would you like to share a recipe with us?

I thought you’d never ask. I created this quick-to-make chicken recipe aboard our boat using ingredients I had on hand. It tastes yummy. Find mango chutney with the condiments in the supermarket. Use the chutney as a sandwich spread for deli meat, to give zing to a chicken salad, or over cream cheese for an hors d’oeuvre.

Mango Chutney Chicken (Serves 4-6)

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon mild curry powder

6 chicken breast quarters, boned and skinned

2 tablespoons butter, separated

1 small yellow onion, cut in half and sliced thin, separated

1 fresh mango, peeled, pitted, and cut into bite sized chunks

1/2 teaspoon fresh minced ginger root, or 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger (more if you want it spicier)

1/3  cup chicken broth

1/3  cup prepared mango chutney (the chunkier the better)

Combine the salt, pepper, and curry powder in a small cup. Rinse chicken and pat dry. Sprinkle each side of all pieces with the curry mixture. In a large skillet on medium high heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter until sizzling. Place three chicken pieces in bottom of pan, and then distribute 1/2 of the onion in spaces between chicken. Brown chicken on both sides, and sauté onions. Remove to a platter and set aside. Add the remaining butter to the pan. Brown the remaining chicken with the onion in the same manner.

When all chicken and onion are browned, return mixture to the hot pan. Stir in the diced mango and the ginger. Reduce heat to medium. Cover and cook about 10 minutes, or until chicken is done and mango softens. Remove the solid pieces to platter and keep warm.

Make chutney sauce: To the juice at the bottom of the pan, add the chicken broth and the mango chutney. Stir well. On medium heat, bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and become syrupy. Return the chicken mixture to the pan. Stir to coat with sauce. Serve over cooked rice with a salad or green vegetable.

What is your guilty pleasure? {Remember: this is a PG rated blog! :) }

Awk! I’m not putting THAT in writing.

Thanks for being here today, Joy!

Joy Smith is the author of several nonfiction books, including The Empty Nest Cookbook, Kitchen Afloat, The Perfect First Mate, and her latest, Oh, No, They’re Engaged! When she’s not cruising the world in some exotic location, you can connect with her through her blog (click here!).

The Author Goddess is a Tall Poppy

Hello all.  J here.  Happy Saturday.  I’m writing today about the newest milestone we Scribes have sailed past.  After only 5 months of blogging, we have had our first bit of hate mail.  I guess we have arrived!  :)

One author friend recently told me that she had received an email from a “fan” in which this fan asked her to stop allowing crappy books to be ghost written in her name and go back to writing the good stuff that she built her reputation on.  Or something to that effect. Evidently (according to this fan) everybody hates the books this New York Time Bestselling author writes.  I guess that would be everybody but the tens of thousands of people who continue to buy them, putting the books on the aforementioned Bestselling list. 

I’ve heard tell of another well-known author who got equally constructive criticism from a fan.  “I hate you,” the email said.  Helpful, no?  I guess we don’t have to wonder where Stephen King got the inspiration for his book Misery.

But apparently there is even a name for this phenomenon.  Tall Poppy Syndrome (or TPS) occurs when “people of merit are criticized because their talents distinguish them from their peers”. (Wikipedia – Tall Poppy Syndrome)  One can understand how an Author Goddess (see our earlier post for definition) can be considered a Tall Poppy in need of being taken down a peg. 

So I guess it’s exciting to receive hate mail.  It means we have “merit” and maybe we are even “talented”.  All right, well, ours wasn’t really hate mail so much as it was complaint mail, but still – that counts for something, right?

Today’s Secret: The glass is half full, people.  Like everything in life, hate mail is only important in the way you look at it.  When you get some, remember it means that you have merit and you are talented.  At least according to Wikipedia.

Today’s Question: Have you received hate mail?  Destructive criticism from a “fan”?  Share your story of misery with us…

 

Fall in the House of Urine

Hi!  J here.  I bet you took a look at that title and thought to yourself…What!?  This is supposed to be a blog about writing…  Fear not, intrepid readers, fear not. 

Let me show you a tiny snapshot of my life: I have a house, children and pets.  The other day, after a stretch of damp rainy days, I noticed that my house stinks.  Like pee.  We have a puppy, an Alpha dog and twin boys who’ve been potty training for months.  Welcome to Fall in the House of Urine. 

As torturous as being in the House of Urine is, I thought the phrase had a nice ring to it, but couldn’t think of why that might be so.  A bit later it dawned on me.  Fall in the House of Urine sounds kinda like The Fall of the House of Usher…at least in my head.  And that got me to thinking about the classics.  Good ones and bad ones.

As an English major in college, I read a lot of literature, but most of it was crap.  Or at least not stuff I liked.  George Elliot – phbfft.  Hawthorne – love the ideas, can’t get past the language.  Dickens – love the stories but too many Victorian Era pop culture references… I have to keep a finger in the end notes just to follow along.  And don’t get me started on Mary Shelley – I had to read that stinking book in no fewer than 4 different classes!  (I’m not even linking to it!)  Seriously, all you English professors out there…out of 4000 years of writing, why do you all pick Frankenstein?!  It’s a terrible tale…a doctor builds a guy out of dead parts, reanimates it and then is happy the monster runs away for 1/2 the story.  I hated that book; the movies were better. 

But for all the crap, I found a lot of stuff that I did like.  Beowulf, Chaucer, Shakespeare’s comedies and histories (loathed the tragedies!), Louisa May Alcott, Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, O. Henry.  And of course, Edgar Allen Poe.  I’ve never actually read The Fall of the House of Usher (the PBS movie scared the piss out of me as a kid!) but I’ve read lots of his other stuff.  Creep-o-saurus Rex!  That guy was seriously ahead of his time.  Poe is like Alfred Hitchcock, just born 100 years earlier.  Can you imagine if Poe was alive today?  Stephen King‘s empire might be in trouble!

But for all my rantings, of course we have to be exposed to lots of stuff to find the things we like.  And as somebody pointed out to me a few posts back, we don’t all like the same things.  There’s probably one of you reading this thinking, what does this Monkey girl know?  George Elliot Rocks!

Today’s Secret: Everything ties back to a good story.  Put your stories out there because you might be my next George Elliot or my next Poe.  Somebody will love what you wrote and somebody will hate it.  And that’s OK.

Today’s Question: What’s your favorite classic?  What do you like about it?

My, My, My . . . Dell-ilah

Hello, Scribe Friends, Suze here.  Last week we had a great discussion about e-readers.  Let’s take it a step further and talk about computers, shall we?

Like virtually every writer out there, I do my writing on a computer.

Meet Dell-ilah, Suze's Laptop

Now I know there are still a few people who write longhand.  In fact, I just read somewhere that writing longhand provides a brain/hand connection that enhances creativity and intelligence.  (I can’t find that article right now, but when I do I’ll post it). Stephen King wrote Dreamcatcher, nearly 900 pages long, with a fountain pen.  Whatever Mr. King is doing seems to be working, and I’m not arguing.  And of course, most of the great literature of the world was written without electronics.  Somehow, I just can’t picture Jane Austen, little frilly cap on head, pecking away at a keyboard by candlelight.  Kind of takes away the romance, don’tcha think?

Me, I’ve been typing for so long, it’s a real effort for me just to fill out an occasional check, though I do make most of my to-do lists by hand in a spiral bound notebook.

My little laptop, Dell-ilah, and I have been friends for a long time. She’s very low tech as far as computers go — her CD drive is external, her Wi-Fi antenna is external (can’t use both of those things at the same time unless I buy a splitter of some kind, which I haven’t bothered with), and she can’t play a DVD at all.  Which, if you think about it, is all kind of a good thing when you’re writing.  Because you’re just supposed to be writing, right?  Not watching marathon episodes of True Blood and drooling over Alexander Skarsgard.

Gratuitous Hunk Picture

But I know Dell-ilah cannot live forever.  Her case has a crack.  Her hinges and some of her keys are loose.  Her processor brain is still pretty sharp, though.  (Even so, I back up my work on a flash drive after every writing session, and periodically I e-mail my WIP to myself.)  She and I have discussed it, and she’s given me the Do Not Resuscitate order.  When her time comes, I will need to let her go.  Right now, I’m researching with what I will replace her.

Dell-ilah is a PC.  I’ve always worked on PCs, but I’m open to exploring the Mac option if somebody can convince me that it really is worth the price differential.  Should I get another laptop?  A sweet little netbook?  What about a tablet with a wireless keyboard?  That might be fun.  Oooh, how about an iPad?

What kind of computer do you use, and what do you love/hate about it? This inquiring mind would love to know!