Ann Rand

Which Fellow Scribe would you invite to dinner?

Here’s something for all you NaNoWriMo writers to contemplate when you need to take a break from your frantic writing schedule.

Last month, Erica Wagner, a columnist for the Wall Street Journal, asked J.K. Rowling “…which fellow scribe, living or dead, she would most like to meet and have dinner with.” After considering, among others, P.G. Wodehouse and Jane Austen, Rowling chose Charles Dickens. (See link at the conclusion of this post.)

So, while you’re frantically trying to complete your novel in a month—one you hope will be the next best seller—take a quick break and choose which fellow scribe, living or dead, you would have dinner with. (Think of it as a celebratory dinner once you’ve completed your 50,000 words)

Neil Gaiman for dinner

Neil Gaiman (for dinner)

My choice, hands down, would be Neil Gaiman. He’s pleasing on the eyes and he has that great British accent. Plus, he’s funny. Although…it is too bad he’s married. (Then again, so am I.)


Mark Twain...that nasty cigar

Mark Twain and his cigar

Hummm, Mark Twain would be amazing to dine with. He’s funny, he’s fascinating and I probably wouldn’t have to talk at all…although I might have to pay for our dinner. Then there’s his nasty smelling cigar. Never mind.


Ann Rand

Ann Rand – INTENSE!

What about Ann Rand or Ursula Le Guin! Can you imagine the deep conversations we’d have? Oh dear, I’m exhausted just thinking about it.


Clive Barker with Horns

Clive Barker (I think those are real)

Okay… I can say with complete certainly I do NOT want to have dinner with Clive Barker. Love his writing—He terrifies me. I can also cross Stephen King off my list. Stephenie Meyer too. (Please, no coffee or wine with our meal!)

Apparently, I’m going to have to get back to you later. Got to go—more words to write!

(Find out more about J.K. Rowling’s choice HERE)


Social Networking with Triberr

Original depiction of fictional anthropomorphi...

Original depiction of fictional anthropomorphic rabbit from the first chapter of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Journal Entry: 3.29.12

Spent the day trying to learn how to be a better social networker. (I can just imagine some mom of the future saying, “Johnny, no girl is ever going to date you unless you expand your social network. No one wants a guy with only 50 followers.)

Anyway, this means I spent the day staring at my computer, googling, reading, scrolling, clicking, and trying to decipher what social plan of action to take. This is what I learned: If you google, How to increase your following on twitter, it’s like jumping down a virtual rabbit hole. “Ahhhhh” T.M.I., Google! Way too much information!

About 4:30 p.m. my dog, Henry, plopped his little furry behind beside me, looked up, and gave me that look that said I’d been ignoring him, I was bad dog owner, and I better take him for a walk or he’d call the Anti Cruelty Society. Woof, woof! So I did. I took him for a walk. Henry is so smart.

The walk cleared my mind and reminded of  my goal:

I’d like to spend a half hour in the morning on social networking.

  • Tweeting and scrolling through twitter to see what’s up.
  • Checking out interesting websites and links, people’s books and such
  • Posting on Pinterest.
  • Glancing at Facebook
  • And Triberr? (See more about this below)

Then, one half hour at the end of the day doing the same thing.

Is that unreasonable? I know-I know…if I don’t use a timer there’s no way that half hour plan of action will stick. However, as an author, whether you’re picked up by one of the big publishing houses (like I was for my first picture book) or a self-published eBook author (like I’m contemplating becoming in the near future), unless you’re one of the lucky .01 percent, the marketing falls on your shoulders. And, in today’s world, that means social networking. So… how to do it and still have time to write? I don’t know. However, today, I did take a baby step: I joined Triberr.

That’s I like the concept…I think? If it is what I think it is, by joining so-called “tribes” you add power to your tweets by having them automatically reposted by your tribe mates; thus, expanding your twitter exposure.

I’m still learning. In fact, right now I’m a bit overwhelmed. That said, if you want to join my tribe (is this sounding a bit like social gang talk?) comment on this post, adding your twitter account, and I’ll send you an invite.

By the way, my Triberr group is “Middle-Grade/YA Sci-fi and Fantasy Books and Writing” We’re all about: Writers and Readers who love everything from Tolkien and J.K. Rowling, to Clive Barker and Neil Gaiman…and more, so many, many more! Let’s talk about books we love, share writing tips, give support, blog about each other’s books, and maybe add a few laughs along the way. Go ahead, be a nerd, join our tribe–may the force be with us!

That’s it. I’ve had enough of staring at a little glowing screen for one day. Check out the links below if you want to learn more about Triberr. Also, comment. Tell me what works for you. Point me in the right direction. Better yet, invite me to join your tribe!

The Last Werewolf (Part 2 review)

I admit, I’m one of those readers who gets about ten pages into a book, and then flips to the last page to read the ending. I realize this must say something negative about me psychologically, but I can’t help myself— and I don’t want to!

That said, when the urge arrived while reading The Last Werewolf, I couldn’t flip to the ending. I didn’t want to know. It took me awhile to figure out why. I finally realized I didn’t want to know because I didn’t have a clue how it was going to end. I usually have a clue, and because I have a clue, I need to see if I’m right…especially if I’m worried that it’s not going to turn out well. But I really had no idea where The Last Werewolf was going.

Taken out of context, that last sentence would certainly sound negative. I didn’t mean it to be. It is a rare writer who can create enough mystery to drive the plot and yet, give little hint as to the outcome. Duncan knew exactly what he was doing. Just one more page, the reader thinks, and the options will become clear. Then it’s simply a matter of which plot will win out. But not so, dear reader, because Duncan very artfully throws in a twist here, a surprise there, and it’s all a reader can do to put the book down, stop reading, and go to sleep. Just one more page, one more. . .

True, Duncan’s style can sometimes feel verbose, his descriptions a bit thick with imagination, and sometimes too graphic (for my taste, anyway. Yet, it is a novel about a werewolf, after all. Passion and blood are a given.). While I might have slipped over some of the descriptions, I could hardly wait to find out what was going to happen next to Jake Marlowe (a.k.a. The last werewolf).

If you like mystery, fantasy, a little horror and. . . Well, given my delight in letting this story unfold, that’s all I’m going to say. Read The Last Werewolf. Have fun. And keep your eyes pealed for the sequel. (There has to be one.)

Next up on my bookshelf, Abarat: Absolute Midnight by Clive Barker. Book three in The Books of Abarat series and one I’ve put off reading because I don’t want it to be over.  I’m going to take my time. I’m going to savor it. . .so it may be a few weeks before I write my next review. Until then, Happy Reading!

Check out the soundtrack to The Last Werewolf
(Yes, there really is a soundtrack!)

Listen HERE

Find out more about the soundtrack

What’s On My Bookshelf: The Last Werewolf

Last week I was 75 pages, give or take a few on my iBook, from finishing The Magicians, by Lev Grossman. I won’t give away the ending, but I will say while, thus far, there was much to like and dislike about the book, the last 75 pages were worth the wait. I wrote the review before the very best part of the book (Sorry, Lev Grossman). Did Quentin redeem himself? Well, not exactly, but the action was great and Grossman threw in some interesting curveballs to tie everything together. I admire Grossman for taking Harry Potter and the world of Narnia, turning them sideways, if not totally upside down, and creating a very “human” magical adventure. I might even read the sequel: The Magician King—but not yet, because now I’m reading The Last Werewolf, by Glen Duncan.

I’m not very far into this book, only 85 pages to be exact. (I’m reading an old-fashioned paper book this time), but I’ve already been furiously highlighting favorite passages. I love Duncan’s style, a sort of dark, twisted, Victorian humor/horror with a modern-day twist. Here’s an example of how the protagonist and coincidentally, the last living werewolf, Jake Marlowe, thinks:

“There’s a reason humans peg-out around eighty: prose fatigue. It looks like organ failure or cancer or stroke but it’s really just the inability to carry on clambering through the assault course of mundane cause and effect. If we ask Sheila then we can’t ask Ron. If I have the kipper now then it’s quiche for tea. Four score years is about all the ifs and thens you can take. Dementia’s the sane realization you just can’t be doing with all that anymore.”

The story is told from Jake’s slightly morose point of view and it’s definitely an interesting one. Both human and wolf intermingle to give you a violently, empathetic character. At this point in the story Jake is more than ready to die; he’s lived (without love) long enough. Some people want him dead and some, surprisingly, are ready to do whatever it takes to keep him alive! More on The Last Werewolf next week.

Before I go, I want to thank Shawn Wickersheim for recommending The Last Werewolf. Be sure to check out Shawn’s blog at: Also, for you persnickety ones, Yes, I said my next book would be Abarat, Absolute Midnight, by Clive Barker—and I seriously can’t wait to read it—but hey, what can I say? I changed my mind.

The Magicians

This week I’m reading The Magicians by Lev Grossman. Before I go on, let me state that I only read books I like. If after a few chapters I’m bored, I won’t finish the book. Given that, the books I discuss on this blog, are books I like. (Even if it doesn’t always seem like it.)

I was intrigued when I heard The Magicians described as a Harry Potter for adults—and I would certainly agree, it’s not for children. What’s my take on it? Well…

In The Magicians, Quentin, the main character, is invited to attend Breakbills, a college for magicians. At Breakbills, Quentin, along with other extremely bright students, learn that magic is more about hard work and technique, than talent. Although, only that spark (that unknown quality) allows them to become real magicians. Like other good fictional protagonists, Harry Potter among them, Quentin doesn’t fit in. At least, he feels like he doesn’t. He’s fixated with a Narnia-like series of books about a magical place called Fillory. If only, Quentin thinks, he could live in Fillory, he would be happy. So, when he’s invited to attend Breakbills, it seems like the next best thing. A college for magicians. Real magicians—not your David Copperfield variety. And if only that was the answer. But it isn’t. Grossman does his best to take the magic out of magic (at least, that was my impression). Breakbills is hard work, and in his sophomore year when Quentin joins a group of kids called the Physicals, it also becomes a place of hard liquor, drugs and sex. Your typical college adventure. Somehow, Quentin and the rest of the Physicals, even though they seem to be wasted ninety percent of the time, manage to graduate from Breakbills. They head off into adulthood, back into the real world and with Quentin still managing to hang on to the hope that if only he could live in Fillory, he would be happy—since Breakbills didn’t do it for him. Well, low and behold, Fillory is a real and Quentin and his still wasted pals manage to find their way in. Quentin is in Fillory, he’s even given a quest, but he still isn’t happy.

And that’s as far as I’ve gotten. I’m 75 pages from the end, give or take a few (I’m reading this on my iPad, so pages remaining depends on font size), and Quentin is still a sniveling, whiney, unlikable lead character. Which is what his girlfriend, Alice (the least often inebriated Physical kid in the group) finally points out. Basically, she says (and I’m not quoting), I love you, Quentin, but stop being such a boob! The world’s not waiting to hand you happiness on a silver platter. You’re in Fillory; if you can’t be happy now, you never will be. And, if I’m not mistaken, that’s the moral of Lev Grossman’s story. Don’t spend your life thinking you’d be happy if only… Rather, be happy right now (or at least, choose not to be so miserable). I couldn’t agree more!

That said, I don’t think I’ve ever both liked and hated a book so much. I don’t like any of the characters, but I keep reading because I want to see them redeemed. Or, from my antiquated point of view—grow up!

As I said, I’m not finished with the book. Quentin still has 75 pages to redeem himself. I’m not sure he’ll be able to do it. Frankly, I don’t see what Alice see’s in him. I kind of wish Grossman had given us a few glimpses of what Quentin could be. Maybe he did. Maybe I missed them.

One more thing, there is a creature called The Beast in the story. The Beast pops us somewhere midway through Quentin’s college days. The Beast is supposed to be important and scary. Well, so far he’s not that scary and with only 75 more pages to go, having shown up only once, he doesn’t seem to be that important either. We’ll see.

Next week I may tell you what I think of the ending. For now, what’s next on my bookshelf? Abarat, Absolute Midnight, by Clive Barker. This is book three in the series and I absolutely loved—no, adored—the first two. In fact, Clive Barker’s Abarat could be my favorite fantasy series of all time. Looking forward to book three.

Happy Reading!