Thursday, February 28, 2008


BTT: Heroine

Okay, folks. Quick grammar lesson here: When there's an E at the end of the word, we ain't talking street drugs. Okay?

I had a few students back in my college instructor days who struggled with that. Sort of like breath/breathe.

Now, to the question at hand, compliments of Booking Through Thursday:

Who is your favorite female lead character? And why? (And yes, of course, you can name more than one . . . I always have trouble narrowing down these things to one name, why should I force you to?)

The first one who came to mind was, of course, my own Kerri Voss. Follow the link in her name back to her character sketch page. At the bottom of the page, you'll see links to outtakes in which she's appeared. Check her out. Kerri's cool.

Maybe, if you ask nicely, I'll write more outtakes featuring her.

As for what's already in fiction, my immediate answer was Lessa. Yes, that's right. From the Dragonriders of Pern series. She's got many of the same qualities that Kerri's got and is darn cool. I was always sorry we didn't see more of her. She seemed to always be overshadowed by the men in those books.

Other great women... wow, there are a lot of them, and we can generally thank the mystery writers for them. Alex Cooper. Sharon McCone. I think mystery and Science Fiction/Fantasy brought us great heroines before general fiction did.

Althea. Oh, yeah. I really dug her and was sorry that trilogy ended. Not to mention I was very sorry when the scene shifted and she wasn't in it.

And, of course, no list would be complete without Scarlett O'Hara. Gotta love Scarlett.

Notice anything about all these women? Yup, they all face problems, some on a daily basis and some not. But they all find ways to be strong, to overcome, and to win in the end.

I know. You're shocked I don't do the victim thing.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Thursday Thirteen #68 -- Bands Abound

Good thing I finished this early this week; the week's sports news (scroll down) has me bummed out.

Thirteen Bands I've Created

1. ShapeShifter, obviously. And admit it, you're a ShapeShifter fan even though you don't like heavy metal.

2. Deadly Metal Hatchet. The fledglings around here. They suck, but they're fun and sometimes, you need fun.

3. Walter Cicewski. He's one of those guitar guru-types whose backing band is a revolving door. Many of his backing musicians go on to huge musical careers, thanks to what Walter taught them. He's never had huge success, but it's been huge enough for him.

4. Hammerhead. You'll meet them when you get to read Trevor's Song. You'll never forget them. If you can find the few passing mentions of them on this blog, more power to you.

5. Tech Support. The ShapeShifter roadies got together during a band hiatus and decided to make some music.

6. Carrion. I haven't done much with them yet, but stay tuned. They have a part in a current WIP.

7. Bitterness. Same thing.

8. Temple of the Book. If you're too rushed to read the whole blog about them, here's what Chelle has to say: They're not all acoustic, they don't wear ponytails and the only glasses were the ones they were drinking their beer out of. And they rock. Hard. Geoffrey, the guitarist, might be able to out head-bang some of you regulars, and that's no joking on Chelle's part.

9. The Gathering Rising. I created The Gathering Rising in response to literary agent Nathan Bransford's blog about the many books he'd been seeing queries for that involved those two words in their title. I asked Nathan what kind of music he liked to listen to, and created this band in his honor. I think his tates lean too literary for him to represent me well, so this wasn't a kiss-up on my part. It was just something fun to do.

10. Nerdvana. I created them around the same time as The Gathering Rising.

11. Vanessa Kontempt. You guys haven't met her yet and I'm not sure when you will. She's a girl from Riverview, the only band on this list to be from there other than ShapeShifter (which is funny, given what a musical mecca Riverview becomes). Cross Britney with Courtney Love, throw in some Susan magic, and you've got Vanessa. The woman's a disaster.

12. Jim Shields. A guy sort of like Ozzy. ShapeShifter was touring with him (and his latest backing band) when Mitchell's hair turned green. (You mean you missed Green Hair Week? The shame!)

13. Jock La Feet. Another New Orleans band; Chelle's review of them was her first appearance here on the blog.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will try to link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Go check them out, or come back and check them out. Let me know if there's anyone you want to see more of around these parts; you may have noticed lately that I'm itching to expand the world, get into some new things. Since I aim to please (although I believe that if I please everyone, I'm not being honest somewhere along the line), if you continue to inspire me the way you have in the past, I'll strive to bring you bigger and better all the time.

Labels: , , ,


Susan's Sport Talk!

Like other Pittsburgh sports fans, I'm reeling today. First, the Pens go and trade away two of my favorite players, Colby Armstrong and Erik Christensen. ColbyJack, as we sometimes call him in my house, is a heck of a great dude. Funny as hell. And a good foil for Sid the Kid.

Christensen, by all reports, would be a ShapeShifter fan. The man likes my music. And he's got a wicked wrist shot.

I hope they both come back during the off-season and return to the nest as free agents.

And a huge and warm welcome to Marion Hossa and Hal Gill (Hal Gill!) and the other guy no one's paying much attention to, winger Pascal Dupuis.

Hockey players have the best names.

While I'm sighing, let my happy sigh turn into one of sadness. Man, we lost an institution today. Myron Cope gave up the good fight this morning. I've got chills as I'm typing this. Myron was one of my heroes; when I protested that a voice like mine would never be broadcast over the airwaves, Myron was held up as an example of how voice doesn't matter, content does.

And did Myron know sports. Yoi! That man knew so much, it wasn't funny. Whenever a transplant would tell me they just couldn't stomach listening to Myron, I'd tell them to get past the voice and listen to what he had to say. He was so much more than a squeaky voice and a reason to drink (the Myron Cope drinking game: do a shot every time he says Yoi. Do two for a Double Yoi, and three for a triple Yoi); you couldn't help but learn from him.

Like most Pittsburghers, I grew up on a winter diet of Steelers and Myron. Because of that, I might know more about football than the average fan -- and believe me, while I'm a fan of the Steelers, I'm not a huge football fan. I'll watch hockey games 'cause it's hockey, but I won't watch football because it's football.

Over the past few years, after Myron retired, I've missed him in the broadcast booth. Yeah, Tunch brings a ton to the game. And Billy Hillgrove remains his steady self. But ... it's not the same without Myron.

So there's three guys who've left the city. I hope two of them come back.

And the third?

I don't think he'll ever truly leave us.

Rest in peace, Myron. You made my world a better place and I thank you for it.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Tagged! The Birth Month Traits Meme

Evil, Evil Julia. Making me tell you things about myself. I've dragged my heels over this for a month now. Maybe it's time to fess up.

Well, I figure you probably know all this already anyway, so ... the rules.

1. Mention the person who tagged you and create a link back to them.
2. Copy-paste the traits for all the twelve months (see below).
3. Pick your month of birth (see below).
4. Highlight the traits that apply to you.
5. Tag 12 people and let them know by visiting their blogs and leaving a comment for them.
6. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve done it!

First off, I'm not tagging 12 of you. If you do this, let me know and I'll link to you. I can't think of twelve people right now; I'm supposed to be writing fiction and researching agents to query, or you guys will never get to hold a copy of Trevor's Song. I know you'd rather do that than hear me blather about yourself.

Thus, does it surprise anyone to hear I'm an April baby?

Active and dynamic. Decisive and hasty but tends to regret.

Stop right there. Yes, I jump in both-feet-first too freaking often. (that sort of explains why I'm now a Girl Scout Leader. Oh, stop snorting coffee out your nose at that revelation!) But there's very little in my life I regret. Not even having #2, who destroyed parts of my orthopedic makeup forever. Then again, if you knew #2, you'd understand how and why I'm willing to live with the pain and frustration.

Attractive and affectionate to oneself.
How on Earth does one show affection to oneself? Do they mean that the way I *think* they mean that?

Strong mentality. Loves attention. Diplomatic. Consoling, friendly and solves people’s problems. Brave and fearless. Adventurous. Loving and caring. Suave and generous.
Yes, I generally describe myself as suave.

Emotional. Aggressive.

Uhhh... maybe. Let me think about it.

Good memory.
Not anymore!

Do you know how many years I've spent house-hunting? I'm not moving anywhere so fast. Although if I do, I hope it's to land outside of Yellowstone.

Motivates oneself and others.

Sickness usually of the head and chest.
Sickness? Not counting the never-ending orthopedic problems?

Sexy in a way that only their lover can see.

Ask the Tour Manager. In deference to that showing affection to self thing, I ain't answering.

Birth Month Traits:

JANUARY: Stubborn and hard-hearted. Ambitious and serious. Loves to teach and be taught. Always looking at people’s flaws and weaknesses. Likes to criticize. Hardworking and productive. Smart, neat and organized. Sensitive and has deep thoughts. Knows how to make others happy. Quiet unless excited or tensed. Rather reserved. Highly attentive. Resistant to illnesses but prone to colds. Romantic but has difficulties expressing love. Loves children. Loyal. Has great social abilities yet easily jealous. Very stubborn and money cautious.

FEBRUARY: Abstract thoughts. Loves reality and abstract. Intelligent and clever. Changing personality. Attractive. Sexy. Temperamental. Quiet, shy and humble. Honest and loyal. Determined to reach goals. Loves freedom. Rebellious when restricted. Loves aggressiveness. Too sensitive and easily hurt. Gets angry really easily but does not show it. Dislikes unnecessary things. Loves making friends but rarely shows it. Daring and stubborn. Ambitious. Realizes dreams and hopes. Sharp. Loves entertainment and leisure. Romantic on the inside not outside. Superstitious and ludicrous. Spendthrift. Tries to learn to show emotions.

MARCH: Attractive personality. Sexy. Affectionate. Shy and reserved. Secretive. Naturally honest, generous and sympathetic. Loves peace and serenity. Sensitive to others. Loves to serve others. Easily angered. Trustworthy. Appreciative and returns kindness. Observant and assesses others. Revengeful. Loves to dream and fantasize. Loves traveling. Loves attention. Hasty decisions in choosing partners. Loves home decors. Musically talented. Loves special things. Moody.

APRIL: Active and dynamic. Decisive and hasty but tends to regret. Attractive and affectionate to oneself. Strong mentality. Loves attention. Diplomatic. Consoling, friendly and solves people’s problems. Brave and fearless. Adventurous. Loving and caring. Suave and generous. Emotional. Aggressive. Hasty. Good memory. Moving. Motivates oneself and others. Sickness usually of the head and chest. Sexy in a way that only their lover can see.

MAY: Stubborn and hard-hearted. Strong-willed and highly motivated. Sharp thoughts. Easily angered. Attracts others and loves attention. Deep feelings. Beautiful physically and mentally. Firm Standpoint. Needs no motivation. Easily consoled. Systematic (left brain). Loves to dream. Strong clairvoyance. Understanding. Sickness usually in the ear and neck. Good imagination. Good physical. Weak breathing. Loves literature and the arts. Loves traveling. Dislike being at home. Restless. Not having many children. Hardworking. High spirited. Spendthrift.

JUNE: Thinks far with vision. Easily influenced by kindness. Polite and soft-spoken. Having ideas. Sensitive. Active mind. Hesitating, tends to delay. Choosy and always wants the best. Temperamental. Funny and humorous. Loves to joke. Good debating skills. Talkative. Daydreamer. Friendly. Knows how to make friends. Able to show character. Easily hurt. Prone to getting colds. Loves to dress up. Easily bored. Fussy. Seldom shows emotions. Takes time to recover when hurt. Brand conscious. Executive. Stubborn.

JULY: Fun to be with. Secretive. Difficult to fathom and to be understood. Quiet unless excited or tensed. Takes pride in oneself. Has reputation. Easily consoled. Honest. Concerned about people’s feelings. Tactful. Friendly. Approachable. Emotional temperamental and unpredictable. Moody and easily hurt. Witty and sparkly. Not revengeful. Forgiving but never forgets. Dislikes nonsensical and unnecessary things. Guides others physically and mentally. Sensitive and forms impressions carefully. Caring and loving. Treats others equally. Strong sense of sympathy. Wary and sharp. Judges people through observations. Hardworking. No difficulties in studying. Loves to be alone. Always broods about the past and the old friends. Likes to be quiet. Homely person. Waits for friends. Never looks for friends. Not aggressive unless provoked. Prone to having stomach and dieting problems. Loves to be loved. Easily hurt but takes long to recover.

AUGUST: Loves to joke. Attractive. Suave and caring. Brave and fearless. Firm and has leadership qualities. Knows how to console others. Too generous and egoistic. Takes high pride in oneself. Thirsty for praises. Extraordinary spirit. Easily angered. Angry when provoked. Easily jealous. Observant. Careful and cautious. Thinks quickly. Independent thoughts. Loves to lead and to be led. Loves to dream. Talented in the arts, music and defense. Sensitive but not petty. Poor resistance against illnesses. Learns to relax. Hasty and trusty. Romantic. Loving and caring. Loves to make friends.

SEPTEMBER: Suave and compromising. Careful, cautious and organized. Likes to point out people’s mistakes. Likes to criticize. Stubborn. Quiet but able to talk well. Calm and cool. Kind and sympathetic. Concerned and detailed. Loyal but not always honest. Does work well. Very confident. Sensitive. Good memory. Clever and knowledgeable. Loves to look for information. Must control oneself when criticizing. Able to motivate oneself. Understanding. Fun to be around. Secretive. Loves leisure and traveling. Hardly shows emotions. Tends to bottle up feelings. Very choosy, especially in relationships. Systematic.

OCTOBER: Loves to chat. Loves those who loves them. Loves to take things at the center. Inner and physical beauty. Lies but doesn’t pretend. Gets angry often. Treats friends importantly. Always making friends. Easily hurt but recovers easily. Daydreamer. Opinionated. Does not care of what others think. Emotional. Decisive. Strong clairvoyance. Loves to travel, the arts and literature. Touchy and easily jealous. Concerned. Loves outdoors. Just and fair. Spendthrift. Easily influenced. Easily loses confidence. Loves children.

NOVEMBER: Has a lot of ideas. Difficult to fathom. Thinks forward. Unique and brilliant. Extraordinary ideas. Sharp thinking. Fine and strong clairvoyance. Can become good doctors. Dynamic in personality. Secretive. Inquisitive. Knows how to dig secrets. Always thinking. Less talkative but amiable. Brave and generous. Patient. Stubborn and hard-hearted. If there is a will, there is a way. Determined. Never give up. Hardly becomes angry unless provoked. Loves to be alone. Thinks differently from others. Sharp-minded. Motivates oneself. Does not appreciate praises. High-spirited. Well-built and tough. Deep love and emotions. Romantic. Uncertain in relationships. Homely. Hardworking. High abilities. Trustworthy. Honest and keeps secrets. Not able to control emotions. Unpredictable.

DECEMBER: Loyal and generous. Sexy. Patriotic. Active in games and interactions. Impatient and hasty. Ambitious. Influential in organizations. Fun to be with. Loves to socialize. Loves praises. Loves attention. Loves to be loved. Honest and trustworthy. Not pretending. Short tempered. Changing personality. Not egotistic. Take high pride in oneself. Hates restrictions. Loves to joke. Good sense of humor. Logical.

Sunday, February 24, 2008


Fiction Outtake: Pam's Perfume

This post is R-rated!! Come back later if you're under 18, please!

So we're there in my bed, me and Trevor Wolff, and he sniffs the back of my knee. I die; it's like being touched with that feather he likes so much.

"What the fuck is this?" he asks, sitting back on his heels and giving me this look like I've totally let him down or something. It's almost enough to ruin the whole moment or something.

I prop myself up on my elbows and stare at him. I have no idea what's wrong.

"You girls are supposed to go all weak at the knees," he says. He's pouting and it's cute.

"Oh, I am," I tell him. I can barely get the words out, in fact.

"Yeah, well, you smell like flowers back there. What the fuck's that about?"

I shrug. Come on. The guy's got to know about perfumes and body sprays. It's not like I'm the first girl he's ever met.

"You really think it's a turn-on?" he asks.

"It turns me on," I tell him, shimmying a bit so the girls shake. My leg, still propped up on his shoulder, does too. It rubs against his ear and he shakes his head like it's annoyed him.

He gets annoyed way too easy.

"And what turns you on should turn me on?" he asks and turns away, holding my leg as he lets it down. I'm bummed; this probably means the end of it, but he lights up and turns back. "I hate to break it to you girls, but us guys like you girls to smell like you. Yeah, that natural smell you're always trying to cover up. Now that, that is a turn-on." He nods like it's all settled and I've learned my lesson and won't ever put perfume behind my knees again.

"It's a horrid smell," I tell him, and he grins.

And I'm not going to tell you what happened next, but it was proof that he didn't mind the perfume so much.

As for wearing it next time… well, catching up with him tonight wasn't exactly planned, and I'm not dumb enough to change the way I live my life for him.

For Mitchell, maybe I would, yeah. But not for Trevor.

This weekend's Weekend Wordsmith prompt was the unneeded puzzle piece. This seemed to fit -- at least in my little brain.

Want more of Pam? Forgotten who she is? Click on this link and it'll take you to her bio page and links to other, older posts.

No Sunday Best this week. Sorry for that; I was too busy with the family. And the agent hunting. And the writing. And the...

Labels: , , , , , ,

Thursday, February 21, 2008


BTT: Format

Once again, I spent a good chunk of my Thursday (especially since I'm locked out of the Thursday Thirteen hub by some DNS problems) pondering today's Booking Through Thursday.

All other things (like price and storage space) being equal, given a choice in a perfect world, would you rather have paperbacks in your library? Or hardcovers? And why?

In my library, huh?

Honestly, I don't care.

No, not true. To put in my library, I want hardbacks. They look good, although the lack of standardized sizing makes them hard to pile books on top of.

Now, to expand on the question and take it beyond its borders, to read, I like trade-sized paperbacks. I just like them. I like the size, I like the way they fit in my hand, I like that they aren't too heavy like hardbacks can be, I like that they stay open in my lap. I especially like that they aren't the goofy new mass market size that costs a few bucks more for a few inches taller. Bite the bullet; put them in trade size, people!

And finally... many authors dream of being published in hardback. For them, it's a prize to be won. But to be honest, I buy very few hardbacks. I don't like to spend that much money on a new hardback. Not when I can have more books for the same amount. Heck, I went to a book signing about a year ago and spent $50 and came home with ... two books. TWO.

Me, I want to be published in Trade Paperback. Given my choice -- and let's face it, unless I self-publish, I won't have a choice -- I'll pick that size.

But ultimately, what format doesn't matter. What matters is the experience I have reading it. A great book is a great book and ... yeah, I gotta say it. Size doesn't matter.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Thursday Thirteen #67 -- Bits about Deadly Metal Hatchet

I've been on this Deadly Metal Hatchet kick lately, wanting to make the time to explore them more, learn their back story, bring more of them to you.

Thirteen Things about Deadly Metal Hatchet

1. Deadly Metal Hatchet is four guys who have created a gimmick for themselves that works. Think Iron Maiden's Eddy, only more gruesome.

2. That gimmick is the Deadly Metal Hatchet, their mascot.

3. Here's links to other DMH posts. The first. An earlier Thirteen. Chelle and the Hatchet. The perils of being a baby band. And meeting a groupie.

4. Fozzy, the lead guitarist, is the only known survivor of a Hatchet attack. That's why the Hatchet lives with him now.

5. Fozzy founded the band as a better way to cope with a bad motorcycle accident. The alternative was to crawl into a bottle. Which he tried.

6. Lido's the singer.

7. He figured that being in a band would take him out of town and away from the woman he loved -- and who loved him back.

8. Scott's bass drum was a Hatchet victim. Thankfully, Scott wasn't playing it at the time.

9. Unfortunately, though, the Hatchet did its work before a show. Scott's tech was one busy man, but it wasn't enough and the band had to take the stage without the drums. They returned in the second song. Thankfully.

10. By that time, the audience was booing. It was an ugly show.

11. It took them awhile to get booked again after that. And when they did, they had to play the frat of one of Lido's friends.

12. Fozzy and the Hatchet had a long talk about desecrating the band's equipment.

13. Notice how there's nothing about Gecko yet? Like I said, I'm still working on these guys.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will try to link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Labels: , ,

Sunday, February 17, 2008


Fiction Outtake: Time Travel? (The Trevor's Song Era)

The movie ended. The band and Kerri sat, unmoving, staring at the tiny screen as the credits rolled into black.

"Wow," Daniel said at last.

"No shit." Mitchell dropped the handful of Kerri's hair he hadn't realized he'd been holding. "That was … some intense shit."

"So," Eric said from his spot down by Mitchell and Kerri's feet, "if you could travel through time, where would you go?" He stood up and fiddled with the TV suspended over Trevor.

"I'd go be the famous Daniel. Daniel in the Lion's Den."

Mitchell tipped his head backwards, trying to see the drummer. The only thing in view was the roof of the bus. "Didn't he die or something?"

"Eventually, yeah, but who cares? The story's immortal," Daniel said before Eric could jump in and correct things. Or, worse, preach.

"So's ShapeShifter."

Eric cocked his head like he had to consider that. "But Daniel's story was worthy of immortality because he was pious. Why are we worthy of immortality?"

"Because we're ShapeShifter," Mitchell said. Like they needed to ask?

"Time travel, M," Kerri said. "Where would you go?"

He didn't need to think about it. "I'd go work with Les Paul in the early days. I'd be a guitar master."

"Some say you already are," she said.

"Yeah, but I'd be more of one. I'd be more than just a player."

She looked at him and rolled her eyes.

"Me, I'd go back and meet Jesus," Eric said.

Mitchell hoped no one would ask the guitarist to elaborate. Every now and then, the guy went on these religious tears; clearly, the movie had awoken a new one in him. He'd have to make sure their copy of the flick disappeared somewhere. Maybe some fan would want it.

"What about you, Rusty?" the supposedly-sleeping Trevor asked. "Want to go back and be the hot, passionate woman who made Van Gogh cut his ear off? Want to inspire someone to do something even dumber?"

"Do you have any idea," Kerri started, vibrating with a sudden passion that Mitchell hadn't expected, "how women artists were treated back then? If -- and that's a huge if -- they were allowed to paint, they were outcasts. Usually, they were told to forget about any ambitions they had for themselves. Go be a wife, they were told. Have babies. Run a house. Be invisible."

Mitchell grabbed at her as she stood. He wasn't sure which was worse, a religious sermon from Eric or a rant from his wife.

"So what the fuck do you think I'd gain from going back in time?" Kerri shrugged off Mitchell's hands and stepped away, closer to Trevor. Who still hadn't opened his eyes or moved. "Do you really think I'm dumb enough to think that this isn't the best time in world history to be a woman? Do you really think I'd trade in everything I've got for that?"

"For a day?" Eric said. "Just one day, Kerri, and then you could come back."

"I'm not going to work with Les Paul for just one day!"

"Mitchell, please. And no, Eric, I wouldn't, and don't start in on that bit about how I'll better appreciate the here and now. I appreciate it plenty, believe me."

"Funny," Trevor said. "I thought you only appreciated Mitchell."

Kerri left the front lounge at about the same instant that Mitchell lunged for Trevor. There'd be no sleeping for the bass player for awhile yet. Which was, of course, why Trevor had put on the whole sleep show in the first place.

But it didn't change the outcome.

How many prompts can one piece of fiction cover? We've got Sunday Scribblings, Writer's Island and, of course, Rhian's Poetry Train. No Weekend Wordsmith this week; the prompt wasn't for me.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Saturday, February 16, 2008


Sunday Best: A Day of Small Beginnings

So in this week's Booking Through Thursday post, I promised you talk about a great read I'd just finished.

Here it is, a definite Sunday Best.

The book is called A Day of Small Beginnings, and it's the debut novel by Lisa Pearl Rosenbaum, who seems very nice from the very small e-mail exchanges we've had. (Notice how we're back to the debut novel thing? I can't get away from them, can I?)

A Day... is the story of three generations of Liebers, a Jewish family from Poland whose history is changed by a single act of courage -- and stupidity, all rolled into one. We begin with Itzik and then spend some time with his son and finally, the family's redemption is at last complete through the acts of his granddaughter, Ellen. (Notice how it takes a woman for redemption to happen? Hmm?)

The tale's more subtle than this. It's also hard as hell to explain; there's a ghost involved, named Friedl. She's an interesting ghost, as she tells us many things but never really lets us, the reader, see for ourselves. Do we take her at face value? There's no reason not to, but ...

Now, I believe in the possibility of ghosts like this. While Friedl bothered some of the members of my book club last Thursday, she didn't bother me. In fact, I liked her. And she sings better than I do, too. Brownie points for that.

Okay, so we've got Itzik, his son, and his granddaughter. And a ghost. Time to throw in three more elements and you'll have the essence of this complex story: the country of Poland, which becomes a character in and of itself; anti-Semitism; and Raphael, the last Jew in the fictional town of Zokof.

(Have you ever heard of a Polish Jew named Raphael? Do you know how long it took me before I connected the idea of this fictional Raphael to the idea of the Angel Raphael? I am going to ask Rosenbaum if that's the proper leap. But back to my rave about the book.)

For me, what makes this book isn't that redemption is Ellen's to deliver. In fact, that might be the most obvious part of the book -- that the redemption happens at last and how, in fact, Ellen arrives at it. I figured it out very quickly, and groaned, "No, we're NOT going there." But we did. And it worked better than I'd hoped, too, which is a huge prop to Rosenbaum.

Rather, what made this book for me was the character of Raphael, Zokof's Jew. Yes, he was the town's own personal Jew. And he was the last one, having returned after the War and deciding to tend to Friedl the ghost. His mission is to find her eternal peace, and Itzik's family is the key to that (and the reason she's not at peace in the first place. She is, after all, dead, and the dead should rest in peace. Right?).

At once pious yet willing to question religion and its rules and dogma, at once serious and mischievous, Raphael is one of those characters we readers desire in our fiction: the kind who lives and breathes, the kind you wish you could sit down and have dinner with.

This book really makes you think about religions, about how we view people who are other than us. It makes you question God right along with Itzik, Nathan, and Ellen -- and some of the various other supporting cast, such as Ellen's love interest, who was also an interesting character. Rosenbaum bucks the trends and gives us some really great men in this book.

It's a huge book smooshed into a small package, but it doesn't feel squished. It's sort of like a clown car: you can't believe how much Rosenbaum packed in. And yet, unlike a clown car that never seems to end, you're never overwhelmed by what's happening. Things are moving and changing, yet we wind up exactly where we're supposed to, all the pieces fitting nicely.

Really. Don't miss this one. Use my link above and get your own copy; you won't regret it. (What? You want MY copy? Well, take that up with my Mom, okay? I gave it to her.)

Also, don't forget that there are only a few more days for Scribbit's February Write Away contest. Get your entries in and check back on Friday for the list of participants. Oh, yeah, and the winner. Can't forget about that; it's a contest, not a carnival. Still, I'm eager to read what others have written. Hope you'll visit some, too. And mine, of course. (although some of you may have done so already. Visit again, okay?)

Happy reading! May you all find such neat gems in your TBR pile as A Day of Small Beginnings.

Labels: , , ,


...And the winner is!


Congratulations to my fellow Blue Ribbon Blogger, Paula, for being chosen as the winner of my copy of State of the Onion, the first in Julie Hyzy's great new mystery series.

Thanks to everyone who entered -- and especially to those of you who jumped over to Front Street Reviews and read my review. I hope you'll hang around there more often and find other great things to read.

And, of course, if you'd like to read State of the Onion anyway, use my handy-dandy links here in this post and pick up a copy of your very own.

More later, including my attempt at this week's Writer's Island prompt. Gulp!

Labels: , , , , ,

Friday, February 15, 2008


Giving You... State of the Onion

I love giving books away, especially when they are companions to a new review I wrote for Front Street Reviews. But I especially love doing it when it's a book I want to keep, but that I want to spread the word about even more.

This time, it's Julie Hyzy's State of the Onion, a great entry into a new mystery series. Come on into the secure world of the White House Kitchen. Just be prepared for mayhem, chaos, backstabbing and a murder or two -- thankfully not inside the kitchen. Join White House Assistant Chef Olivia Paras as she tries really hard not to meddle in an affair she finds herself smack in the middle of.

Go on and read my review over at Front Street Reviews. See why I liked this book so much. Then come on back and enter your name to win my reviewer's copy. Please note; this is an advance reader copy. If you don't know what that means, Google it. Decide if this is the sort of book you want in your collection; some people are totally opposed to ARCs. I hope you're not one of them.

Here's the fine print:
1. Contest is open to anyone in the universe. Hey, when you live West of Mars, you gotta think this way. Anyone includes past winners. However, it does not include meanies or spammers. Or Trevor, but I'm not so sure he reads, anyway.

2. In the comments on this post, leave your name and some form of contact -- either an e-mail or a web address that'll take me to a way to reach you. If you don't do this, I can't give you the book.

3. On Saturday morning, February 16, I'll let my kids pick a winner and I'll contact that lucky soul by e-mail. So make sure you leave me contact information!!!

Gotta thank the Blue Ribbon Bloggers, Laura Williams, my Thirteener friend QTPies, The Parenting Diaries, A Book Blogger's Diary, and Prizey for helping spread the word!

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Booking Through Thursday: After the Honeymoon

Whoa. I don't like saying not nice things about books or authors here. I want you all to think I'm not this perpetually grumpy woman, you know. (I really am. Ask my kids!)

Here's the BTT question:

Have you ever fallen out of love with a favorite author? Was the last book you read by the author so bad, you broke up with them and haven’t read their work since? Could they ever lure you back?

Yes, of course. And there are some authors who have multiple series, but I'll only read one of them. Janet Evanovich. Sharyn McCrumb. Anne McCaffrey (and now Todd, too.)

But on a happier note, I think that falling out of love with an author is a good thing. It means that there's now room on your TBR for new authors and new discoveries.

Yes, that gives you a bit of a fickle air, but given the sheer number of books published these days, I prefer to think of it as an opportunity gained.

Come back over the weekend, so I can rave about one of those opportunities that have been gained. Boy, did I finish a doozy of a read! A real shayna maidel, to borrow the Yiddish phrase.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Thursday Thirteen #66 -- Love Songs

In honor of Valentine's Day, I bring you...

Thirteen Reasons Why ShapeShifter doesn't write Love Songs

C'mon. Every good band out there writes love songs in one form or another. Some artists make their entire career about love songs.

And then there's ShapeShifter. It's probably a good thing they're fictional, because, in honor of Valentine's Day, here are thirteen reasons why they don't do that lovey-dovey thing with their music.

1. Love songs make Trevor gag. While that's usually fun to watch, it's not so fun during a show. The guy needs to concentrate, not gag.

2. Love songs make Mitchell all swoony. Which makes Trevor gag. (see #1)

3. Love songs make Daniel get all sappy and start talking about the little things about Val that he loves so much. This doesn't just make Trevor gag; it gives him the dry heaves. IF you're lucky enough to catch him between meals.

4. Love songs are best when they are slow. There's nothing slow about ShapeShifter's music. Except for love from the critics. That is very slow, indeed.

5. During a show, all those lighters held aloft blind Eric.

6. Trevor gets jealous when he looks out into the audience and sees couples making out. Those girls should be his, dammit! And the guys? They should be basking in the glory that is ShapeShifter.

7. While love songs bring about the girls, they tend to bring about the girls who whine about the lack of pink ShapeShifter t-shirts.

8. ShapeShifter's all about saying Fuck You to the world. When you bring love songs into the mix, that takes on a whole new meaning. Not a bad one, but it loses some of its rebellion.

9. Having love songs in your catalog means you can't conveniently forget about Valentine's Day.

10. Guys who sing or write love songs are perceived as being tender. The only person Mitchell wants to come across as tender to is Kerri. Nope, not even his mom gets to see that side of him.

11. Ever notice how you think someone can sing until they sing a love song? Well, Mitchell doesn't want them to feel bad. (So much for hiding that tender side, eh?)

12. Trevor believes love is for the birds and if the band were to do a love song, he'd be a hypocrite. Trevor Wolff is not a hypocrite.

13. We love ShapeShifter as they are, all prickly and speedy and thrashy. We don't want them to change; we want them to improve.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will try to link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Labels: , , , , , ,

Monday, February 11, 2008


Fiction Outtake: Hot

I don't know how many of you guys read Edittorrent and their neat blog. All you writers, you should be.

But anyway, someone other than me offered up the first three lines of a manuscript for their comments and a discussion ensued. A question arose: how can you create heat visually? Short of just posting a picture of Mitchell, this is what I wound up with. While it doesn't fully answer the question, I like it. Hope you do, too.

Mitchell slid his sunglasses into place and waited for Charlie's nod. The first car had left without him and Daniel when Charlie had decided to play Papa Tour Manager and order them back upstairs to change into shorts. Now, they were stuck waiting for a lift.

The same car pulled up, easily recognizable by its sun-faded red, and Mitchell went outside first, understanding immediately why Daniel kept dawdling. It was like walking into a wall of heat, a studded one that attacked every pore on his face so that they constricted, more parched than the worst hangover. He was suddenly all too aware of every single last eyebrow hair -- including the ones the makeup people had waxed off three weeks ago for that damn photo shoot. And he swore the cleft in his chin got deeper as it, too, sought the shade of his sunglasses.

His arms were instantly slick with sweat that didn't cool, the small of his back turned into a puddle, and his legs tried doing the same shrinking thing as his face. His lips felt like dried-out glue: fragile, brittle, and broken.

All in the two steps it took to get into the car's front seat.

"Holy fuck," he said, leaning toward the vent and adjusting it so it blew directly on his face. He gasped at its nominal coolness, alerted to the fact that he hadn't been able to breathe at all while out there. "You live here?" he asked the driver, lifting his sunglasses so they'd stop sliding away. Fuckers just might dangle from his ears if he wasn't careful.

Daniel and Charlie slid into the back seat. Daniel pulled a ponytail holder out of his pocket and peeled his curls away from his face.

"M, want one?"

Mitchell slid his hand underneath his hair and encountered a swamp. It wasn't a bad idea, but who knew who'd see him? No one had ever seen him with his hair off his face. Maybe Kerri, but if she did, she was the one who'd shoved it away.

"I think I want to be in Europe already," Mitchell said, leaning away from the air and angling it more toward the back seat. "We are idiots for touring the States in the summer."

"We'll be there in two weeks."

"If we don't fucking melt first."

"Is it supposed to cool off by showtime?" Daniel asked.

Mitchell reached for his lip balm and looked over his shoulder at Charlie. Who was squirming.

It was going to be a brutal show, Mitchell thought. One of those nights where he took the stage in shoes, shorts, and guitar and spent most of the two hours wishing he could take even more off. At least he'd be slick with sweat and his skin wouldn't try to shrivel up again. That had sucked.

And they still had to get out of the car and into the backstage area.

Talk about things that sucked.

Labels: , , , , ,

Sunday, February 10, 2008


Sunday Best: Me!

Wow. What a week. I'm laid up with The Plague that's going around and you guys are... handing out awards to me. Is this your way of telling me to feel better?

If I've forgotten to list you and the award here, please let me know. We can blame it on a fever delirium. Really, it probably was.

Leeanne, who is one of the coolest chicks around -- and who I hate to bug for WordPress advice (yes, I'm flirting with it) -- gave me a new award: The Blogger of the World award. She says I take her to places she's never been and that I make her feel wordly. Well, how is THAT for high praise?

And then there's my collecting friends, who gave me this one. I mean, come on. How can you NOT use the words Yum Yum the right way?

Robin, bless her heart gave me this one:

Megan was kind enough to pass this along. Have you met Megan yet? She's cool.

Whew. All these accolades... for me to sift through the almost 300 blogs in my reader (yes, I've culled a few; this is why it pays to delurk from time to time!) and pass along each one as justly as possible would probably take a few days. And while I'm feeling better, I'm still worn out and need a nap today (not to mention the Penguin game this afternoon).

If you're a regular around here, if you know who Mitchell's favorite person on the planet is, consider yourself rewarded. Be sure to let me know you've taken it so I can make a big fuss over you. It'll be well-deserved.

If you don't know who Mitchell's favorite person on the planet is, you should hang out here more often and check out the archives.

And finally, here's the deal. Bunnygirl is hosting a Valentine's Day themed Flash Fiction carnival. With the big red day fast approaching, why not whip up some fiction and shoot Bunny the url? You know you want to -- and saying, "But I'm not as good as you, Susan. My stuff sucks next to yours" will only accomplish one thing: me spitting my water at the computer screen before I collapse in peals of laughter.

What a dumb reason to hold yourself back. Trevor does not approve. Then again, neither does anyone else who hangs around this joint. Except for maybe Springer, but he's another story (hopefully to be developed into a novel of his own).

If you're not the carnival type, check out Scribbit's Write Away contest. Michele is cool. Actually, she's probably cold this time of year, but you get the idea. She's giving away Alaskan yummies this time around and her theme is love. How can you resist? Two places to share your writing for the single theme of love.

Love makes the world go 'round. Unless you're Trevor; then it makes your bill at Lyric's place higher.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, February 07, 2008


Booking Through Thursday: Enough About Books

Susan rises from the couch (and the food Mitchell fed her at the end of yesterday's Thursday Thirteen) to answer this week's Booking Through Thursday.

WHAT? How can there ever be enough about books?

Yet that is the question asked of us. More specifically, What else do you do with your leisure to pass the time?


Well, clearly, I keep Trevor and the ShapeShifter boys in line. I do this usually by sending them on new adventures, most of which you get to read about right here on this very blog, in the form of fictional outtakes.

When I'm done with that, there are other fictional friends to bring to life.

Yes, writing is leisure. True passions are like this.

So you get me away from things literate and ... I have a family. Two cats. All five of them need me to wrangle them; how else do you think I got so good with the ShapeShifter boys?

Then there are the little things. The scrapbooks. The bikes, one of which I dream of riding 100 miles around Lake Tahoe, although right now, I'd settle for being able to get up this daunting-looking hill near the house. The hours spent at the gym. And oh, yeah, somehow, I became a Girl Scout leader. Don't ask. I can't believe they approved me; didn't they Google me and wind up here?

Yet that's just another notch on my belt of volunteer work. I love to go in and help out at school. I love to get involved with people. I run my book club (but oops, that's books again). I hate to say no... but I do. 'Cause, baby, in Susan's world,

It's all about the books.


Wednesday, February 06, 2008


Thurday Thirteen #whatever

Yo. Trevor still here. This blogging gig sucks, but Susan's sick. Really fucking sick. Not getting off the couch sick.

So I'm gonna make fun of her this week.

Thirteen Comments from the Peanut Gallery

1. Mitchell: Look! She's a shadow of herself!
Trevor: Who let you in here? Did that woman of yours wise up and throw your ass out?

2. Remember this whiny post? Ha. It's got nothing on that blob parked on the couch.

3. We all know she writes book reviews over at Front Street Reviews.
Mitchell: That's why over on her sidebar, it's listed under "byline." Which is a play on Chelle, in case you hadn't noticed.
Trevor: Like I give a fuck? Let me get back to the story.

4. Beats the shit outta us where or how it happened, but these Bostick Communications people picked up Susan's name. Not a bad idea, except their oh-so-researched targeted marketing has her deleting about five e-mails a day.
Mitchell: Stays silent.
Trevor: Gets mad that Mitchell won't play the straight guy.

5. They're all for Christian lit and non-fiction! Why the fuck would you send a Jewish novelist an offer to review your Christian lit or non-fiction?????

6. Mitchell: She reviewed LL Cool J. And that Brian Wilson book. And White Bicycles. Those weren't fiction.
Trevor: They were about music.
Mitchell: LL Cool J's book was not about music. It's a workout book.
Trevor: You ought to know. You're sleeping with it under your pillow, in the hopes you'll wake up and look that good.
Mitchell: Actually, I loaned it to Daniel. I think he's using it.
Trevor: He would.

7. Now, here's a good one to show you how out of it Susan is. The Tour Manager called to tell her that this new doohickey showed up.
Mitchell: It's a trainer, for her bike. You need that part to make the joke work.
Trevor: Yeah. Her trainer. It was waiting at the office for him. And Susan's first thought? What's she doing there?
Mitchell: I think it works better if you know that Susan's got a personal trainer. Or if you hear her tell it. She's got the space cadet thing down the past few days.

8. Eric: Oh, hi guys. Want to practice when Daniel gets back?
Mitchell: Where is he?
Eric: Off driving Susan's car. He wanted to know why it's won Best Car awards a bunch of times.
Mitchell: I can't believe she's letting him.
Eric: I was right there. She said, "Mmm-hmmm." Didn't even open her eyes or anything.
Trevor: Is that how #2 got permission to play on the computer for a few hours?
Mitchell: Hours?
Trevor: Hours.
Mitchell: Damn, she is out of it.

9. Trevor: We suck at ragging on Susan, know that?
Mitchell: Yep.
Eric: Everyone's giving her awards again, too.
Mitchell: The two things have got to be related.
Trevor: Ya think, Super Brain?

10. Eric: She'll have to catch up on the awards when she's feeling better.
Trevor: At this rate, that'll be in another week.
Mitchell: Think I ought to call Amy again? She's awfully out of it.

11. Trevor: This sucks. You can't rag on someone when she's this pathetic.

12. Eric: Oh, look! She's up!
Mitchell: I think she's hungry. Since Val's not here, I'll go see if I can help.

13. Trevor: Yum Yum.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will try to link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, February 03, 2008


Byline: Chelle LaFleur -- ShapeShifter fans

Now, you may not have heard this here first, but you're hearing the truth here first. That counts for a lot in Chelle's book.

I just got off the phone with my favorite rocker, Mitchell Voss, and this is what he had to say:

For some reason, we couldn't take the bus from the hotel to the arena, so the promoter sent a limo for us. It should have been a twenty-minute drive. An hour later, our tour manager gets out of the limo and walks up the side of the road to see what's going on.

Turns out, a car broke down. They can't even move it off to the shoulder, it's the middle of rush hour. Traffic's a disaster. Our tour manager comes back to the limo and says the car's driven by three girls on their way to … you guessed it. Our show.

Trevor, Daniel, and Eric aren't stupid. They're also lonely. Or, they were.

That's right, girls and boys. Those ShapeShifter boys smelled opportunity and they didn't let anything stop them. Those girls with that broken-down car got the star treatment on their way to the show. They got to watch the show from the special VIP section with Mitchel's wife, the most amazing Kerri Voss, and they got to be the after-show party, as well.

Chelle here knows how many of us dream of this happenin' to us, even you guys out there. Like any good music reporter, I tried to find those girls and get their take on the night, but that handsome Voss man wasn't coughing up any names.

So girls, if you're out there and reading this, drop me a line, will ya? You just went and lived yourselves a dream and the rest of us, we want to know all about it.

You heard it first, and you heard it here. ShapeShifter loves their fans.

Labels: , , , , ,

Saturday, February 02, 2008


Sunday Best: Reading Challenges

The Tour Manager was kind enough to give me, an asthmatic, his upper respiratory infection. So I feel lousy and am keeping this week's Sunday Best simple.

WAY back in November, I joined this challenge. The idea was to read five books from your To Be Read pile between November and January 30.

I thought I'd let you know how I did.

Here is my last post, checking in and talking about what I'd read so far.

And check out what I did between December 15 and the end of January.

The Sex Club -- LJ Silvers (read my review at Front Street Reviews!)

The Garden of Eve
-- KL Going

Spin Some More -- Red Garnier

White Bicycles -- Joe Boyd (read my review at Front Street Reviews!)

The Historian
-- Elizabeth Kostova

The Loop -- Joe Coomer

Aunt Dimity Beats the Devil -- Nancy Atherton

Visions of Sugar Plums -- Janet Evanovich

The Reluctant Swordsman -- Dave Duncan (no link because Powell's only links to the e-book version and I did not read this version.)

July 7th -- Jill McCorkle

State of the Onion
-- Julie Hyzy (watch Front Street Reviews for my review!)

A couple of cool things of note:
1. There are NO books in here that I disliked and refused to finish. This is a super-long stretch for me. Maybe I'm finally getting better at picking books.

2. That said, I don't get what all the fuss over The Historian was about.

3. Pleasant surprises? The Reluctant Swordsman, a fantasy novel from the 80s. The Loop, a quirky read that had been on my Wishlist since my Grad School days. See? Patience does pay off.

3. Lots of reviews, possibly more than I intended. Yes, reviews keep me from writing, but it's also good to stretch and discipline my brain, which likes to be about as disciplined at times as Trevor's. (and yes, he's yowling a protest at me for that dig.)

4. I really like Nancy Atherton's Aunt Dimity series. They are fun, smart, and just right. I really like KL Going, too. Even though The Garden of Eve is aimed for a younger audience, it still kicks. I've got a few more of each of these authors' books on the Mountain Range that is TBR.

5. I'm already eager for the next in the new Julie Hyzy series that was kicked off by State of the Onion.

6. Despite this list, it's still not enough. In fact, one more book arrived in January than I was able to read. At this rate, I'll be caught up in 2011. Maybe.

7. I've begun reading for the Jewish Lit challenge. Just wait to see what I'm about to blitz you with.

See ya later for the Poetry Train. And keep an eye out for Trevor. He's escaped my grasp and is leaving comments on the blogs owned by friends of mine. I think he's going to take this getting-his-story-published business into his own hands. Watch out!

Labels: , , ,