jump to navigation

Fall Into Fantasy book giveaway! October 18, 2013

Posted by philangelus in The Wrong Enemy, writing.
1 comment so far

My fellow QueryTracker blogger Ash Krafton is hosting a giveaway of 50 different books and two “swag” baskets. (It’s one winner per book, not one person winning fifty books, so how cool is that?) Entering is as easy through a Rafflecopter box, and you can increase your chances by following the different authors on Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook, or their own blogs.

To all who are newly-following me here — welcome! I hope you enjoy it here. We’re purveyors of sarcasm, philosophy, writing/books, humor, opinions on music and food, and the occasional political snark.  Also some forays into knitting and running. Some of my knitting ended up in Ash’s swag basket, too. (There’s only so many bookmarks anyone truly needs.)

At any rate…WordPress won’t allow me to load the Rafflecopter giveaway, so I apologize and would ask you to please go to Ash’s website to enter it there.

I’m giving away a copy of The Wrong Enemy through the giveaway, but if the person who wins it would prefer The Boys Upstairs, I’m fine with substituting.

And now…look at the pretties! Don’t you want one?

Screen Shot 2013-10-18 at 7.31.49 AM Screen Shot 2013-10-18 at 7.32.12 AM Screen Shot 2013-10-18 at 7.31.43 AM

Good luck!

Kiddo3 writes for a spell August 20, 2013

Posted by philangelus in kiddos, writing.
1 comment so far

As I type, I’m being interrupted every minute or so to spell a word.

It started this morning when I set the breakfast table. “Who’s reading Howl’s Moving Castle?”

Howl’s Moving Castle is an amazing book and I’ve read it a few times. So has Kiddo2. So has my Patient Husband (aloud, to Kiddo 1 and Kiddo 2.) So it could have been anyone, really. Anyone other than me because I was pretty sure I hadn’t begun reading it again.

One at a time everyone denied reading it, until finally Kiddo 3 said, “Oh, I took it out. I needed to figure out how to spell CHAPTER.”

Kiddo3 is writing a book, and I think that was pretty resourceful of him. He told his teacher he wanted to be a professional writer, and when the teacher sent this to me in an email, I wrote back, “Please tell him that if there’s anything else that will make him happy, anything else in the world, he should do that instead.”

She laughed. I’m serious.

Anyhow, he’s sitting beside me trying to write an epic tale of love and loss, set in the world of Wizard 101. And because he can’t spell things like “Krokotopia,” I am being recruited to spell all of them for him.

He’s learning, though. He began by writing in sweeping epic style, “The Mander race started in Krokotopia,” and I suggested that for his second sentence, he should introduce a character. Because reading about the Kroks enslaving the Manders is a history lesson. But reading about a Mander boy named Boo whose father goes to give aid to the Kroks and then his father gets enslaved? That’s a story.

Kiddo3 said, “Oh! And then he goes on a quest to save his father!”

He’s got the idea.

I just hope he learns to spell a bit better. Or to be comfortable with misspellings. And soon.

Book Review: Sacred Games by Gary Corby May 19, 2013

Posted by philangelus in writing.
Tags: , , ,
1 comment so far

Gary Corby’s Sacred Games was SO much fun!

For starters: I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. The copy I read was an Advanced Reader Copy, and I believe I’m posting this review just before publication date.

My recommendation: HIGLY recommended! Although this is the third book in Gary Corby’s series, you do not have to have read the previous two books in order to understand what’s going on. So if you haven’t read The Pericles Commission or The Ionia Sanction, just pick this up now and dive in anyway. You can go back and read the other two later.

(Off-topic: Last year I told my daughter about ARCs, and how in the publishing industry they use them to drum up some advance reviews, but mere mortals like us don’t ever get our hands on them. She was excited when I won this copy, but we’re still mere mortals. Oh, and although she wanted to read it too…no. Parents will want to excercise discretion in whether they allow their children to read it; this is an adult book with some hints at sexual situations and one graphic death. But I’ll still photograph her holding the book.)

IMG_2429

The setup, with no spoilers: It’s the Olympic Games of 460BC and one of the top athletes from Athens is accused of murdering one of the top athletes from Sparta. The already-tense political situation has been even further upset by this crime, so if Nico can’t solve the murder by the last day of the Olympic games, his friend Timo will be executed…and most likely Sparta and Athens will go to war.

What I really liked: Nico has a great personality. He’s in over his head, but he’s earnest and smart, and he’s very relatable. His wife is brilliant, and he treats her with respect (plus, they just have a great rapport.) Nico’s younger brother is Socrates (yes, the Socrates) and some of my favorite scenes involve Socrates as a brilliant and somewhat geeky annoyance to his older brother. I also really liked the depiction of Markos’s character, but I’m not going to say why because it’s spoiler-y. Although the mystery itself is serious, there’s plenty of humorous moments, and they all arise naturally from the interplay of the characters.

Go ahead and read Sacred Games without reservation.

“Where have you been, young lady?” April 1, 2013

Posted by philangelus in sarcasm, The New Novel, writing.
7 comments

Where have I been? I’ll get you up to date.

1) I’m going to call PerNoWriLent an unreserved success. Although there were several times I wanted to take a day off (which would have turned into several days, which would have turned into a stall) I managed to nail my word count on just about every day of Lent. (Well, after I resolved to do Personal Novel Writing Lent, that is.)  The upshot is I think I managed to do 35,000 words, and I’m now in the penultimate scene. The final scene will be easy to write, but the one I’m in kind of has me stuck. I may just slap something together and rewrite it when I get back to it during the editing phase.

Overall, I really think this book is good. I’m still in that ♥♡♥♡My Book♡♥♡♥ phase, not yet in the phase where I want to drop-kick the manuscript into the ocean but refrain for fear its foulness will slaughter the fish.

2) I finished knitting a pair of socks. The color scheme and pattern are based on Hobbits. Do these remind you of hobbits?

IMG_2327
3) After some back-and-forth, Lee Jeans finally settled on jeans they thought would answer all my complaints in my Dear John letter. I honestly believe the cutomer service rep when she says they don’t want to lose a customer who’s been brand-loyal for 20 years. I believe them. I even told them I would trust their judgment and that if they had 98% cotton / double-seamed jeans, I’d be delighted to try them again. They picked them out for me, and mailed them, and guess what? Single seams up the inseam.

But yes, it’s all-cotton, so maybe that makes a difference. I don’t know. I’m honestly sick inside about that. They just don’t make the product anymore, and they want me (us) to like them, but the fact is, the product that worked when they made it correctly just doesn’t work when they make it the way they do now. One set of stitches up the inside isn’t the same as two, and what gets me is that they don’t even know it, and yet they still make the men’s jeans the same way they always did.

I wasn’t sure if I should just send them back. People here are telling me no, just give them a try. Maybe the all-cotton will make a difference in whether they tear themselves apart during regular walking-around.

4) I’m still working toward being able to jog a 5K by June. I don’t think I’m going to succeed, but I’m going to fail trying rather than just failing. I’m tired of failing because I gave up at things, you know? So now I’m just going to fail all the way.

Currently, I can jog 1 mile at speeds that would make your great-great-grandmother want to push me out of the way, after which I walk for a little while and then do another mile. Apparently the Couch To 5K program thinks we’re supposed to be able to do a 10 minute mile, though (hahahahahaha!!!!!!  I mean, um, hahahahaha!!!) so I’ve started introducing brief sprintlets at 6mph into my standard one-mile jog at “glacial.” I’m up to 2.75 miles for the total workout, with over half a mile of that at walking speed.

In other words, don’t sign me up for any races yet.

PerNoWriLent March 4, 2013

Posted by philangelus in religion, writing.
Tags: , ,
4 comments

Lent is a superb time to get fed up with yourself.

I’m a writer who’s got a novel-in-progress since, oh, forever. I blogged about it, and everyone liked the idea. I told my agent about it, and eventually she admitted she liked my idea too (she doesn’t want me to get too cocky). Best of all, I liked the idea.

But that was months ago, and it’s not done.

Now to be fair, I’ve been doing other things. I did edits and suchlike on two other novels, one of which you all went out and bought last November (right? RIGHT?). But you know…come on. It should take me 100 days to write a novel. Three months. And then another three months to edit. Nine months? A year? That’s nonsense.

Now when Lent came around, I wasn’t sure what to do, and nothing felt right. Sometimes God will give me a kick in the pants as to what it is I need to be doing, but nothing presented itself this year, and I entered Ash Wednesday with three ideas, none of them front runners. Eventually I punted and went for the no-brainer: I’d read An Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales.

A few days into Lent, I was talking to my agent, and I realized: I just need to buckle down and get the book done. The problem is lack of discipline. I’m losing my will to go on.

Discipline. Oh, right, yeah.

God gave me two vocations: writer and mother/wife. If I’m not writing, I’m failing a vocation God gave me. And when is a better time to get back to doing what God wants than a time of year set aside by the Church to get closer to God’s will for your life?

So I’m doing a Lent-version of NaNoWriMo (National Novel-Writing Month.) I can’t sustain a NaNoWriMo pace without burning out, but I can and have sustained a slightly lower pace for indefinite periods of time.

We’ll call it my Personal Novel-Writing Lent. PerNoWriLent.

A thousand words a day. Few excuses. (Sorry, but I already had one child-related emergency, and as I was packing supplies for what I thought would end up as an ER trip, I told God, You don’t get your words today.) That should get me about 40,000 words by Easter Sunday (on top of the 35K I already had) and if I can’t just whack off an ending after that, then my agent needs to buy a train ticket up to the Swamp and roundhouse kick me in the head.

But she won’t need to do that. Because this is scrupulosity central, and I don’t want to have to tell God I didn’t write enough. Besides, I love ♥My Book♥. It deserves better than to sit neglected. It’s time to be a writer again.

If writers wrote every scene like a sex scene January 10, 2013

Posted by philangelus in sarcasm, writing.
16 comments

She shut the washing machine door with a gentle click, then extended her slender arm to the shelf where the detergent awaited. For two days now she’d hungered to tackle the clothes heap in the closet, her days filled with a longing to cast them into the laundry.

The linen-scented blue liquid only just filled the base of the screw-cap, but this would be enough. Wasn’t this after all a high-efficiency front-loader? But she didn’t need an instruction manual to tell her what her heart knew, unlike years past when in her youth she would splash out a whole cup of detergent.

Its glistening glory dripped into the detergent compartment, and she shut it with a gentle push of her fingertips.

And with determination, she turned the dial to “Normal Load.” At that point there was no return. With a soul filled with anticipation, she pushed the button marked “Start.”

Writing The Next Big Thing November 27, 2012

Posted by philangelus in The New Novel, writing.
Tags: , ,
10 comments

I got tagged by Ash Krafton, fellow blogger over at QueryTracker.net, for The Next Big Thing meme.

The object of the meme is to pretend I am the next big thing….and I’m being interviewed by Rosemary DiBattista.

JANE LEBAK: THE NEXT BIG THING? 

What is your working title of your book? 

Titles are the bane of my existence. They either pop up or else they never come. We didn’t have the new title for “The Wrong Enemy” until the cover artist said, “Guys? I can’t design a cover until you come up with a title,” so at that point the publisher and I narrowed down the list of 45 titles to the one final title. Two of my own children were unnamed for the first 24 hours until we actually had to make a decision between our final two candidate names.

For this one, I picked “Domino Hearts.” Why? Because I think it’s an awesome title —  for someone else’s book. I like the feel of hearts breaking like dominos going down in a long row, but it has nothing to do with my story. I’m using this title because the more ill-fitting a working title I choose for this novel at this stage of the game, the better my perfect title will look when it presents itself. No, really.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

When I was twelve, my Great Aunt Millie told us about someone she knew — maybe a relative, but I don’t recall — who was watching the news on vacation and saw someone who looked just like her daughter. The woman had always sworn she’d given birth to twins, so seeing this woman on TV was a huge shock. This story came back to me decades later as an amazing setup for a novel.

The main character is inspired by two separate women: one woman I was helping to polish her resume, and I saw one of her previous jobs had involved testing burn-site specimens for accelerants related to arson. And the other was in grad school after a tragedy had changed everything she thought she would end up doing.

What genre does your book fall under?

Contemporary fiction.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I average one movie every three years, so I can’t begin to guess. When choosing actors, though, it’s not just how they look — it’s more their mannerisms, their bearing. Some people look just like your character but could never be them because of their delivery or their approach.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Amber Brickman never realized she was separated at birth from her twin, but even worse, neither did her mother.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Assuming my agent likes it, it will be represented.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Still working on it. I’ve taken several breaks during the writing in order to take a whack at the other projects in my life. In general it takes me three months of solid writing to turn out a 95,000 word manuscript, but I haven’t been doing this solidly.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Jennifer Weiner’s later work, for example “And Then Came You,” with its emphasis on multigenerational questions of parents, relationships, and motherhood. “The Unfinished Work Of Elizabeth D” by Nicole Bernier is similar in tone and reach, in terms of how secrets shape families. And I’ll also add Claire LaZebnik’s “The Smart One And The Pretty One,” with its emphasis on sisterhood and a career-minded character who resists romance.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

It was time. Amber needed to be written.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

There’s a mystery driving the storyline, but the characters are the backbone of this story: how each woman arrived at the place she’s at now, how she thinks this is the way things have to be — and yet how each of them could have more if they could resolve the pain in their past.

There’s humor in the characters’ interactions, and the would-be romantic couple have an amazing chemistry supported largely by their banter. You’re going to laugh out loud at times, but the story itself is driven by needs buried so deep some of the characters aren’t even aware, and I think the humor supports it without overshadowing it, and that will keep the reader remembering the story afterward.

Include the link of who tagged you and this explanation for the people you have tagged.

Ash Krafton tagged me. You can find her at her own blog and at the QueryTracker blog.

I’m tagging BR Myers because she’s my agency sibling and cheerleader, and she’s publishing her short fiction on Wattpad right now, with a novel coming up next year.

Also tagging Amy Deardon, whose book “The Story Template” we reviewed on this blog earlier this year, and whose book “A Lever Long Enough” I helped edit. She’s one of my critique partners, and she’s been working on a project for NaNoWriMo. Maybe she’ll tell us about it.

Also tagging Normandie Fischer, editor for Wayside Press and my critique partner, whose novels (two of them!) will be coming out next year.

ebooks at 40% off for CyberMonday November 26, 2012

Posted by philangelus in writing.
add a comment

The publisher decided to knock 40% off both my titles for Cybermonday! 

The Boys Upstairs is about a jaded cop and a disabled priest who are brothers but have been estranged because of their differing beliefs in God. They have to come together at Christmas time because they’re trying to save three homeless children. It was given the “Seal of Approval” by the Catholic Writers Guild. If you put CYBERMONDAY in the discount box at checkout, it’ll be $2.70.

The Boys Upstairs

The Wrong Enemy is about Tabris, a guardian angel who killed the child he was supposed to be protecting — and then for some reason none of the angels can comprehend, God gives him a second chance, another child to guard. He’s co-guarding her with an angel who really doesn’t want him around, and all the other angels constantly regard him with suspicion and disgust, but there is one who wants him: a demon who won’t stop at anything to bring Tabris with him into Hell. If you put CYBERMONDAY in the discount box at checkout, it’ll be $3.60

The Wrong Enemy

And since I’m not totally self-centered, Karina Fabian’s fabulous “Live And Let Fly” is also available from MIU for 40% off (same discount code) — about a dragon and a nun who fight crime and make bad puns. I really loved this book. 

AAAAAND…  If you’re more into space opera, MIU sells my friend Pauline Griffin’s “Star Commandos” series, about two soldiers and an exiled war prince special-operations team. The series is up to book 4, and I really love it.

They sell all ebook formats, including Kindle (.PRC) and for the rest of November, I think 10% of their sales will be donated to Hurricane Sandy relief. You can buy gift certificates for Christmas if you don’t want to buy yourself a book.

Baby goats! And Heifer International! October 12, 2012

Posted by philangelus in kiddos, writing.
Tags: , , , ,
2 comments

Time to make good on my offer to donate $1 to Heifer.org for every copy of The Wrong Enemy preordered.  (And it’s also over at Amazon.com now! That makes me feel more official.)

And…{drumroll}…they’re getting a goat!

Heifer International tells us that goats are the most effective livestock for getting a family out of poverty. Goats are easy enough for an eight-year-old to maintain a small flock, and they’re able to eat scrub plants in locations most other animals can’t get to. Two dairy goats can provide a gallon of milk a day, which increases a family’s protein intake, and then the family can sell the extra for a source of income. Plus, it’s easy to pass along other goats to another family within the five year pay-it-forward timeframe.

I don’t have a picture of the actual goat, of course, but I a few weeks ago, I got to see baby goats at a local farm. The first time we visited, we saw a baby goat just an hour old, but I didn’t have a camera. The next week, we got pictures of all the new little ones. I think this is the newest of them. He was still having trouble walking around.


This one was also fairly new.

And these guys were in the older batch.

Out in the parking lot was the escape artist goat. She’s been getting loose all summer, but she doesn’t seem to know what to do with herself once she gets out. So she played with Kiddo3.

He didn’t have any food for her, so she decided to investigate my car. And found something.

Goat, what are you doing?

Goat? STAHP!

Fortunately a goat is (as Heifer reassures us) easy to manage, and I was able to get her out of the car before she took the keys and headed down to Sprouts R Us.

Thank you everyone for your pre-orders, and I hope you enjoy The Wrong Enemy!

Another blog interview! October 8, 2012

Posted by philangelus in The Wrong Enemy.
2 comments

Last week I had a Halloween-themed blog interview with author Cate Masters. Check it out!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 141 other followers