Friday, January 28, 2011
If you're looking for some books to really sink your teeth into, try these recommended by my favorite ABD.
She will explain why:
I have no time for fun reading, but with the justification that they are "postcolionial" in nature, I reread Tayeb Salih's Season of Migration to the North and J. M. Coetzee's Waiting for the Barbarians. Both are gripping and chilling in their depictions of the type of deprivation that happens to certain oppressed groups of people and how many people adjust to their roles within these systems - becoming victims or bullies - while others find the strength to rebel, even if just in quiet ways.
Even better, I am rereading Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses. I understand (again) why he is so acclaimed: layers upon layers of allegory all wrapped up in an intense narrative with characters you care about, roller coaster twists, and a surprising sense of humor.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
However, the Mojito Literary Society strives to keep that happy buzz going. We love you and understand you. We think your art and writing is fabulous. We invite you to our parties and sit on the kitchen floor with the bowls of tortilla chips and guacamole dip that we stole from the hors d’oeuvres table and listen with rapt attention as you talk about your book, your art, your craft. You are fascinating. We think you are our coolest friend. We sing your praises all over Goodreads and Amazon and the blogsphere. We will set upon your enemies like killer bunnies (sorry, had to throw in some Monty Python).
In other words, we’re not assholes.
So sure, go off to other blogs which tell you what you need to be a better writer, artist, mother, father, friend, pet owner, etc. Blogs who criticize your work and other’s and spew their catty witticism like acid rain. We are not as smart as they. We are the Pooh Bears of the literary world. Here, at our thinking spot/blog with our jars of honey and glasses of mojitos, we love you and your work and want you to be happy.
Monday, January 24, 2011
UPDATE: After an outpouring of reports identifying the review as abusive and inappropriate, Amazon removed the offending post. Many thanks to everyone who took the time to step on this nastiness.
Friday, January 21, 2011
I'm having a virtual cocktail party over at my blog! Come join! There are plenty of virtual drinks and yummy appetizers. Let's dish about your week! Read any good books? See any great movies? Win the lottery?! The sky is the limit and the drinks don't have any calories. What's not to like?
Come join! Click here.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Though Ms. Leigh is known for erotica, this one is not an erotica novel. My friend and occasional co-writer Linda Campbell recommends this one. She says it is a multi-layered fantasy/sci fi. According to Linda, although this novel stands on its own, her only regret was that Ms. Leigh made her name and career in another genre before she ever wrote book two of this series.
Here is the book blurb from Cerridwen Press, the publisher:
He is the king of a winged race steeped in honor and tradition. His blood runs fierce and pure with his Eagle Clan heritage. She is the general of a clan that should not exist. Her blood is diluted, tainted by that of the reviled Vulture breed. Now Dearn and Matte will come together, each fighting for the existence of their people and peace between them. But first, they must defeat not just the Vultures, but also the demented dreams of a human king and the merciless vengeance of Cinder, the demonic god he follows.
Snowfires By Caroline Clemmons
Take a stubborn woman and a determined man, each plagued with self-doubt and past issues but strongly attracted to each other, throw together on a trip to Dallas, stranded in a blizzard and mix well, in bed, until they turn into molten lava. These two keep the heat up when the heat doesn't work and make you keep turning the pages to see how they'll rectify their differences and save a corporation.
I enjoyed this book. This is Ms. Clemmons' forst foray into indie publishng. She really got down the cold windy conditions of the northern panhandle in winter. Her sex scenes aren't bad either!!
Available at Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/36055
Books By Terry Campbell
I would be remiss to not take the opportunity to let folks know my backlist is now up on Kindle. All short screwball romantic comedies, look for these three books under my pseudonym, Terry Campbell.
Monday, January 17, 2011
Last summer, as I was perusing the new book section at my local public library, I came across a book in non-fiction whose spine declared it was Between the Sheets. I was intrigued enough to pull it from the shelf and read its entire title: Between the Sheets: The Literary Liaisons of Nine 20th-Century Women Writers by Lesley McDowell. Though I had no time to read it that week, or even that month, I added the title to my Must Read list. It’s my first read of 2011, and I couldn’t have chosen better.
Though the writing is sometimes choppy, McDowell’s argument is flawless. She brings a new perspective to the motivation and consequences of liaisons that have long been seen as only detrimental to the women involved in them. She dares to suggest that these nine women: Katherine Mansfield, H.D., Rebecca West, Jean Rhys, Anaïs Nin, Simone de Beauvoir, Martha Gellhorn, Elizabeth Stuart, and Sylvia Plath are not the victims scholars and biographers have painted them to be these many years. She even goes so far as to posit that they knowingly entered into these relationships, aware of the almost certain consequences in order to further their own writing in a time when women were still not being taken seriously as authors without an established male author to recommend them. Her research is thorough and extensive. She offers alternate explanations along the way, as well. She has no qualms about disagreeing with the standing interpretation of anything related to these women. If you are interested at all in 20th Century literature, you should read this book. If you are feminist, or care about feminism, you should read this book. If you enjoy a well-written, for the most part, engaging argument, read this book.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
More and more, I want to have only people in my life who are good for me and things that help with the positive forward motion I so need. I have begun to sort the good for me people from the not so good for me, and I am purging the latter. The older I get, the less willing I am to spend time, effort, or energy on people who do not have my best interest at heart. The good Southern girl in me wanted to balk at this idea, initially, but then I realized that what Southerners do the very best is authentic hospitality and friendliness. Yes, we will bless your heart all day long before we’ll say something outwardly rude, and we might even invite you to our parties out of a sense of obligation instead of true desire. But, both of those instances can be written off to manners, good raising, I think. They aren’t actually about friendliness. Sorting not worth it to me people out of my life leaves me much more time to enjoy the people I love and who love me. It helps me focus my energies on being a better friend and a better person, which helps set my soul to order, which makes me smile. We’d all rather I were smiling.
Since the 5s’s are really about revision, it occurred to me that I could apply them to my writing as well. Again, I can do without people who want to just criticize to tear me down. I can send them to the recycling bin as easily as that empty Ben and Jerry’s pint container from last night. Maybe someone else can remake them into something more useful. I can also separate my words from myself, realizing that a just because I’ve written a beautiful sentence, it doesn’t have to be the sentence for that paragraph or poem or paper. I can sort it away, too. I can standardize my writing practice, bring more discipline to it. Once I see it begin to shine, I know I will be able to sustain it. After all, I love shiny things.
So, readers dear, what do you need to revise? How can the 5s’s help you?
Monday, January 10, 2011
This Christmas, I was excited to find a deck from my engineer hubby under the tree. Even better, it was a deck that managed to combine the awe and wonder of the material universe with the mystery and magic of the Tarot. I am having a great time reading about the creation of The Science Tarot, but an even better time working with the cards.
The key to making this combination of seemingly contradictory systems work is structure. Both science and tarot are highly organized, orderly collections of information. Both involve a progression that feels linear, but which is actually a series of cycles. The difference between the two is the main perspective lens -- science uses logic and rationality (left brain stuff) and tarot uses intuition and subconscious processing (right brain stuff). That's a bit reductive as an explanation, but as the Ace of Scalpels (Swords) points out, reductionism is a valid method for comprehension. It's part of the seeker's toolkit. It's just not the ONLY part.
Like traditional tarot, the Science Tarot is broken into the major arcana and the minor arcana. Likewise, the minor arcana are broken up into four thematic suits, which each contain numbered cards ace through ten, plus four court cards. The difference is in the nomenclature. For example, in traditional tarot, these suits are called Wands (Energy), Cups (Emotion), Swords (Intellect) and Pentacles (Physicality). The Science Tarot uses Bunsen Burners (Creation -- astronomy and cosmology), Beakers (Integration -- biology and ecology), Scalpels (Observation -- physics and math) and Magnifying Glass (Exchange -- geology and chemistry).
For example, the Nine of Pentacles (represent in this deck by the Magnifying Glass) is Aurora, the stream of energized particles accelerating along Earth's magnetic lines that cast off excited electrons in the upper atmosphere, creating the mythic glow of the Northern Lights.This card in both decks represents the release of outdated things and ideas, leaving only the refined and cultivated newness behind. This process often entails sacrifice, but it is worth it for the end result.
Instead of Pages, Knights, Queens, and Kings, the Science Tarot present Explorers, Innovators, Storytellers, and Visionaries. For example, Carl Sagan is the Queen of Wands, the Storyteller whose intelligence and empathy welcomed others into scientific discovery.
By honoring the connection that science and myth share -- the wonder and awe that occur as we try to explain this universe and who we are within it -- the Science Tarot creates a bridge for skeptics who might dismiss the power of this ancient divination tool. Plus, it's just gorgeous, with each five sections rendered by a different artist, providing continuity within each suit and creating a tapestry of lush imagery overall.
I highly recommend this deck for both tarot beginners and more experienced readers. And it's especially useful for introducing someone whose maybe a little weirded out by tarot's "woo-woo" reputation to the power of their own subconscious. I'd pair it with a shot of high-end vodka, straight up -- a very utilitarian way to get a warm fuzzy feeling,
To read more about the Science Tarot -- or to order it -- visit the website: http://www.sciencetarot.com/cards.html
Sunday, January 9, 2011
Here's to mystery--because mystery happens,
Saturday, January 8, 2011
I had a little fun on my blog yesterday, showing off my new digs. Okay, there's no cool ocean view, but my home office works for me and it does have its own lava lamp! Bringing it into the 21st Century doesn't hurt either.
So, where do you write? Does the look, feel, location, even smell of the place matter?
Show me yours. Or tell me about it. Yeah, I'm that nosey.
Thursday, January 6, 2011
Ack! I’m late getting recommended readings posted. Once again, I have consulted my mother, the wonder librarian and my cousin H, the world’s best bookstore manager. Both women are incurable book addicts. Here are their latest finds. All the blurbs come from www.goodreads.com. Happy reading!
Snakewoman from Little Egypt, by Robert Hellenga
On the morning of her release from prison, Sunny, who grew up in a snakehandling church in the Little Egypt region of Southern Illinois, rents a garage apartment from Jackson. She's been serving a five-year sentence for shooting, but not killing, her husband, the pastor of the Church of the Burning Bush with Signs Following, after he forced her at gunpoint to put her arm in a box of rattlesnakes.
Sunny and Jackson become lovers, but they're pulled in different directions. Sunny, drawn to science and eager to put her snake handling past behind her, enrolls at the university. Jackson, however, takes a professional interest in the religious ecstasy exhibited by the snakehandlers. Push comes to shove in a novel packed with wit, substance, and emotional depth.
The First Assistant: A Continuing Tale from Behind the Hollywood Curtain, by Clare Naylor and Mimi Hare
In The First Assistant, Clare Naylor and Mimi Hare have again joined forces to take a wry and hilarious look at the wheeling, dealing, schmoozing, and snubbing that make Hollywood the cutthroat capital of the world. Readers are hungry for more-and The First Assistant is just the romp into the red-carpet world that they crave.
My mother says if Bridget Jones worked in Hollywood agency she would Lizzie Miller.
A Madness of Angels: Or The Resurrection of Matthew Swift, by Kate Griffin
H liked the book better than she expected to, and she expected to like it a lot.
Two years after his untimely death, Matthew Swift finds himself breathing once again, lying in bed in his London home.
Except that it's no longer his bed, or his home. And the last time this sorcerer was seen alive, an unknown assailant had gouged a hole so deep in his chest that his death was irrefutable...despite his body never being found.
He doesn't have long to mull over his resurrection though, or the changes that have been wrought upon him. His only concern now is vengeance. Vengeance upon his monstrous killer and vengeance upon the one who brought him back.
A Companion to Wolves, by Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear.
H read this book five times.
A Companion to Wolves is the story of a young nobleman, Isolfr, who is chosen to become a wolfcarl -- a warrior who is bonded to a fighting wolf. Isolfr is deeply drawn to the wolves, and though as his father's heir he can refuse the call, he chooses to go.
The people of this wintry land depend on the wolfcarls to protect them from the threat of trolls and wyverns, though the supernatural creatures have not come in force for many years. Men are growing too confident. The wolfhealls are small, and the lords give them less respect than in former years. But the winter of Isolfr's bonding, the trolls come down from the north in far greater numbers than before, and the holding's complaisance gives way to terror in the dark.
Isolfr, now bonded to a queen wolf, Viradechtis, must learn where his honor lies, and discover the lengths to which he will to go when it, and love for his wolf, drive him.
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Still, the very idea that anyone would ever publish anything I write has always been a far fetched one. I mean, why would anybody care what some girl from Vidalia writes, right? Luckily, other people in my world don't believe that and have encouraged and prodded and insisted. Lucky me! Today, one of my poems, "My Muse's Bidding" was published by a new fabulous online literary journal based here in Charleston--Pluff Mud Mag.
Wade over here to have a look
Here's to an unimaginably amazing 2011 for us all!
Potential clients are often surprised when they hear that I don't consider what I do "fortune-telling." It's not as if I'm some cosmic fisherperson, dangling my bait, waiting for your future to bite so that I can pull it up and deliver it to you for your supper.
I don't believe in shrink-wrapped destiny. This isn't my tarot philosophy. I believe in the power of choice and free will. I believe the tarot shows us our options, and by doing so, allows us to make informed decisions about what's happening right now. It's a simple formula -- the only way to change the future is to change the present. Consequence follows cause. And tarot does an excellent job of showing the forces in play at the time of a reading so that you can decide whether you want to go with the flow . . . or swim upstream.
Knowledge changes the flow of events. Understanding puts the rudder firmly in your hand.
Of course, some forces are larger than the individual. Hurricanes. Recessions. The breaking dawn. Tarot shows this aspect too. It's actually two decks within a deck: the Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana. The former refers to big universal energies, archetypal powers, huge forces (like Strength, at right, which references the times when soft but firm control is required). The latter are the personal energies, the day-to-day ways that we make our choices manifest in the world. It is the interactive tension between these two that makes our lives so interesting. Sometimes we can turn the tide, and sometimes we can only ride it out. Tarot shows us these forces at work in our lives, so that we can act in wisdom and truth and love.
Or not. My job is to help each client interpret what the cards mean to them, not tell them what to do about their situations. I work with each person in a very give-and-take manner, so that each person can access their own inner guidance. That way the control rests not with me, but with my client, so that each individual can keep what works and change what doesn't.
The cards don't reveal your future -- they reveal your present moment. And that is the more valuable gift.
Monday, January 3, 2011
First the non-fiction:
What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures
By Malcolm Gladwell
Malcolm Gladwell is back! I received this book for Christmas, and it didn’t disappoint. I’d read The Tipping Point, also by Gladwell, a while back. I liked it, but this one surpasses that, as I believe it has a much easier conversational quality. So tip a glass of white zinfandel and have fun. The topics are hilarious.
This quote sums it up:
"This evidence of a Gladwell effect helps to predict something larger: that Mr. Gladwell's new book will be as successful as his first three...This book full of short conversation pieces is a collection that plays to the author's strengths. It underscores his way of finding suitably quirky subjects (the history of women's hair-dye advertisements; the secret of Heinz's unbeatable ketchup; even the effects of women's changing career patterns on the number of menstrual periods they experience in their lifetimes) and using each as gateway to some larger meaning." (New York Times Janet Maslin)
Even if you’re not a big non-fiction reader, I think you’ll like this one.
By Jennifer Johnson
In the mood for a sweet contemporary romance with a lot of sexual tension and no actual sex? Did I mention it’s all Southern with a dash of down-home humor? Then, this is the book for you.
Here’s part of the blurb:
“Sitting in front of her parents’ house in a U-Haul truck at midnight, Amy Mann decides it’s time to break it to them that she’s divorced from her husband and moving back home with her seven-year-old son, Toby. As Amy settles into her hometown, she has a plan to get out of debt, get her college degree, and put her life together.
Enter Captain Riley Pennimon, local firefighter and superhero to Amy’s son. Riley is kind, brave, and civic-minded. The captain does not fit into Amy’s putting-her-life-together plan, and yet he is way too good looking without a shirt. Much to Amy’s chagrin, Toby decides that Riley is just what they need for a happily-ever-after.”
Published by Turquoise Morning Press, www.TurquoiseMorningPress.com, Rescue Me is one of those books to enjoy while sipping on a glass of hot Irish coffee. Well-crafted, Ms. Johnson’s book makes you feel for the complicated plight of each lover, thrust together by a father who wants to see his little girl happy and a son who thinks the sun rises and sets with the gorgeous hunky local firefighter. You’ll cheer and sigh as these two battle their inner demons to face a better future in love.
By Richard Brawer
“Teenager Eileen Robinson lives in an ideal, middle class African-American family in Houston, Texas. Through a careless act she causes the deaths of her two younger sisters.
Tormented and alienated from her mother, she moves in with a drug dealer. At twenty-one she is a single mother of two falsely convicted of killing a state senator’s son and sentenced to death. At thirty-two she is executed. Or is she?”
This is the blurb for this legal/medical thriller published by L&L Dreamspell, www.lldreamspell.com. The heroine is a woman who has spiraled down a deep dark path to self-destruction. She ends up as a pharmaceutical company’s guinea pig in human trials on a remote island. These trials involve nanotechnology—something which exists presently (My husband even had one of those little robotic nano cameras travel through his body and take pictures of his digestive tract and intestines). At the core of this novel are two moral questions: how far will we go for cures to diseases and should the lives of human beings be risked, even if they are guilty of crimes?
Eileen goes on a fast-paced chase full of twists to prove her innocence and get her family back. What Southern drink should you have with this one?--One that’s not too potent. Otherwise, you won’t realize how much you’ve consumed as you’re zooming through the pages.