Archive for December, 2010

Joy to the wooooorld!!!!

The prizes are heeeere!!!!

…and despite the fact that I am achy, my throat is on fire, and I can’t talk (some people may find this an improvement), I’m not letting a little Cold from H-E-double hockey sticks keep away my Christmas Spirit!

Thanks so much to everyone who entered the Day 1 giveaway with Rosy Thornton! If you haven’t had a chance to enter yet, never fear! I’m keeping entries open until Dec.24th.

Today, I want to ask you something reflective: How did your writing year go? Did you accomplish what you set out to do? Did you make it through the first two weeks of January and then discover that staying on task was a little more difficult than you’d planned?

Well, my friends, I want to help one of you out in some small way. I want to help you stay organized in the writing year ahead, so that one of these days, I’ll click open your blog and go “Omigosh! Lookit that!” because of all the wonderful things you accomplished.

So today, I have a little prize pack for you! It’s made up of a few cute little things that I’ve collected over the past few months here and there, all Very Important Things for keeping a writer organized:

Botanica Sticky Notes


Click here for an inside view!

There are 3 normal-sized sticky note pads inside, one large-sized with lines to write on (perfect for jotting down ideas or quotations), and four lovely tab-sized sticky pads.

I don’t know about you, but I keep stickies with me at all times in my purse! You never know when you’ll get a moment of inspiration or need to write an important reminder to yourself.



Chocolate-Scented Calculator!


(Just one… I’d love to give you a whole box, but alas, that would be one hefty shipping fee!)

Ever need to calculate the amount of words you have to write per day to finish that novel by the end of the month? Or how about when you’re in the bookstore with a coupon and want to know what the price will be with discount? Or how about when you’re craving chocolate like a madwoman/man and there’s none to be found?

Ah-HAH! You’ll have a chocolate-scented calculator to help you out. Isn’t it just what you always wanted?



Two Helpful Notebooks for Different Moods!


Ah, yes… these poorly lit pocket notebooks say “Really Good Ideas” and “Ramblings”… so no matter what comes to mind, you’ll have a place to scribble it down!

I don’t know about you, but I always have a notebook in my purse, just in case. You never know when inspiration is going to strike!



And with that… who wants to win?! You’ll get the fancy stickies, the calculator, and two little notebooks. Admittedly I’d meant to break this up into two giveaways, but the sickness has dictated that one post is better than two, so one of you will get it all!

How to Enter:

  • Leave a comment telling me how your writing year went, or how you plan to stay organized in the New Year
  • Your Name
  • Email address (don’t worry, it’s just for contacting the winner)
  • If you feel like sharing the contest somewhere, mention it in your comment! I’m not giving extra entries for Twitter/Facebook/etc. this time, but if someone wins who shared the contest, well… I just might throw in some extra stickers or something ;)

Contest is International and Entries are open until Dec. 27th.

Thanks for entering, and happy writing!


In My Mailbox (18)

   Posted by: Faith    in Rye Thoughts

Whoo-hoo, it’s the Weekend Before Christmas IMM… what does that mean? That means I expect there will be LOTS of exciting new books on everyone’s posts next week!!! Or maybe you’ll all still be celebrating and the books won’t go up until the week following (which may be the case for me), but still… exciting!

And while you’re here, why don’t you pop down to the post below and enter to win another book for your shelves? I have a great interview with author Rosy Thornton and a giveaway that’s open internationally (until Dec.24th) along with plenty of other giveaways coming up in the week ahead… so stick around!!!

But, on to the books for this week (er, and last week…)!

FYI: In My Mailbox is a weekly meme started by The Story Siren to showcase books you’ve received for review, bought, borrowed, or swapped. Anyone can participate, and it’s a great way to showcase new books and encourage blogger/commenter interaction!

archaeologyofhome goodnews brandnewemily cinderellacleaners

nosuchthing speak fleshfire

unholyghosts omen

So many books to read… so little time!!!

…am I glad it’s the holidays tomorrow or what… how about you?





What came in your mailbox/shopping bag recently? Anything you’re particularly looking forward to reading this week? I think I might start with ‘Brand New Emily’, it looks absolutely adorable… :)

That’s right, lads and lassies… it’s one week until Christmas! And I have 100 followers! So that means:

Giveaway Tiiiiiiime!!!

I have a number of nifty little things lined up for you, so come back all week to see what’s up next on the List ‘o Goodies.

To start us off, I have an interview (and giveaway, yes) with UK author and law professor Rosy Thorton, who was kind enough to offer a copy of her latest book, The Tapestry of Love, for one of you, dear readers! Haven’t heard of Rosy’s work before? Well, never fear! Read on below…

My questions are in bold, and Rosy’s answers follow!


Look, it's Rosy! Hello there! Hi, Rosy! Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions today, and allowing my readers to get to know a little bit more about you. I have a number of North American readers who, I suspect, may not be familiar with your work, so it’s wonderful to be able to learn a little more about an author ‘across the way’, if you will! Let’s start off with an easy one:

F: How long did it take you between realizing you wanted to write a novel, to actually sitting down and writing it?

R: No time at all. To quote Mr Darcy completely out of context, “I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun”. I started by writing fanfic, and I thought I’d just try a few experimental chapters, with no idea of carrying on further – and before I knew it I had written a complete novel.

F: So have you always wanted to be an author, or did the urge simply smack you upside the head one morning?

R: I never wanted to be a novelist, or to write fiction at all (although writing non-fiction is a large part of my day job as a legal academic). But then I watched the BBC’s adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell’s classic novel, ‘North and South’ on television at the end of 2004. I had loved the novel as a teenager, and now as a 40-something adult I fell head over heels in love with actor Richard Armitage who played the lead rôle of millowner John Thornton. I went online to chat about the series – and discovered the world of internet fanfiction.

Why not have a bash myself, I thought? And three months later I found I had completed a full-length pastiche sequel to Gaskell’s novel! It was utter tripe, of course – but by now I had caught the writing bug, and went straight on to write my own first independent novel, ‘More Than Love Letters’, which was published in 2006.

F: Speaking of previously published novels… the Tapestry of Love is your fourth published novel (congratulations on that, by the way), but where did your inspiration for this novel in particular come from?

R: The inspiration was a place I went on holiday – Mont Lozère in the Cévennes region of France. I only spent two weeks there, back in 1990, but the place was so beautiful that it somehow got under my skin, and twenty years later I found I had to write a book about it. Take a look for yourselves, and you’ll see why:

F: You’re not kidding about it being a beautiful place! It can’t be easy to draw on memory from so long ago – I’d be scouring travel books to try and remember what went where! But description has always been my weakness. What have you found to be the biggest challenge in writing?

R: Plotting. I find the process of writing comes easily and naturally, and characters seem to emerge and develop almost by themselves. But I am terrible at plots – simply terrible. That’s the part I really have to work at.

F: How about your greatest joy, or the thing that has made it all worthwhile?

R: The best thing is when people tell me that my books have given them pleasure. It can be friends and family, or complete strangers who get in touch via my website – but it is always a fillip. The urge to write, after all, is the urge to communicate – and it is wonderful when I can feel I’ve made a connection through my books.

A colleague of mine who has had a difficult time in her family life recently told me that reading ‘The Tapestry of Love’ had been an escape for her when things were tough. That was very special – feeling that my book had made a difference to her.

This is where she's talking about! Click her link to see more! F: How wonderful! And do you have a writing schedule? Or a special location where you feel particularly inspired?

R: I have a full-time job and a family, so writing fiction has to be squeezed into borrowed time. My usual pattern is to work on my novels in the early mornings before I get the children up – say from 5.30 to 7am. When you’re trying to fit in so much, there’s no time for the luxury of waiting to feel ‘inspired’ – you have to seize the chance to write when you can!


F: 5:30am!!! Yikes! I know what I’d be drinking at that hour, but what is your writing food and/or beverage of choice?

R: Coffee – I invariably have a cup of coffee at my elbow. My brain wouldn’t function at 5.30am without a good dose of caffeine! Food, though, is generally a mistake – it usually ends in raspberry jam gumming up the keyboard.

F: Ahh… coffee… the writer’s lifeblood. What are you reading right now?

R: Lorrie Moore’s ‘A Gate at the Stairs’ – and I’m loving it. It’s the first one of hers I’ve read, and I’m entranced by the fresh, sharp, witty voice.

F: And finally, any advice for the writers reading this interview?

R: Keep writing. Write a little every day, and try not to listen to that voice in your head (which all writers have) telling you it’s self-indulgent rubbish. Write for yourself, for enjoyment – and meanwhile read and read and read a wide range of good quality fiction, because that’s the best way to learn how it’s done.

F: Great advice! Reading great fiction can make all the difference in a writer’s own work. What’s next for Rosy Thornton? Are you working on anything right now that you can give us a sneak hint about?

R: I have one more completed novel which is currently with my agent. I don’t want to say anything about it for fear of jinxing it! And I have some preliminary ideas for the one after… but I am not writing anything right now.

F: Fair enough! Thanks Rosy!


Isn’t she sweet? I’m so grateful that she contacted me, and I’m really happy to be able to share this interview and her work with you. I highly recommend that you check out her website and read her bio and take a look at the books she’s written. There are some excellent testimonials for each book if you’re interested, and links to places where you can purchase each book.


But, you might be able to receive a copy of her latest book right now! Okay, not this minute, exactly, but Rosy has offered a copy to one lucky reader of this interview… so what are you waiting for?

Leave a comment below with your thoughts or questions for Rosy (or let us know if you’ve read one of her books before!), and include your name and email address (use a format that spammers can’t grab!). Yes, I’m really making it that easy to enter!

Contest is open Internationally, and I’ll leave entries open until December 24th. Then I’ll draw a name and, once I have your address, Rosy will send you your book!

**Good luck, and Merry Christmas… and come back later this week for more

Christmas Week/100 Followers giveaways!**


Crazy Happenings!

   Posted by: Faith    in Rye Thoughts

So, I had a crazy thing happen this past week… it was rather unexpected, but at the same time, something I’d been hoping for…

This fall (and last winter), I’ve been TA-ing for two professors at the college where my father works (he’s the Dean of something-something, I honestly don’t know anymore because the title keeps changing as he makes administrative changes to the school). I do TA work because it’s a little extra cash on the side, and though it always takes longer than it should to do marking, I figure it’s good experience.

I’ve always harbored a secret hope that one day, possibly, doing a good job as a TA would turn into something else… I’ve taken classes at the college & seminary level there, so I know how things work, and I’m familiar with the faculty and staff because my father works there and I’ve been in and around the school for the past ten years for various reasons…

This week, I went in for a quick meeting with a prof that I’m doing TA work for next semester, and as I walked up to the school, I thought to myself: “Why am I doing this? It’s too much work, it takes too long… but maybe someday someone will let me teach something, so here I go again…”

Ahem. Well. Turns out that the woman who was supposed to teach the English Composition class next semester – who is very pregnant – will need to have a C-section, which is going to put her out of commission for the first six weeks of the winter semester (at minimum). And the first guy they asked to fill in for her wasn’t able to commit. And – here’s where it gets really weird – the class is to be held on Monday nights, the only night of my schedule I hadn’t filled up yet.

Soooo… as of yesterday, I’m officially an English Professor! For one semester, anyway. But whaddaya know, my random TA-ing has paid off!!!

Yes, it’s a mandatory class of first-year students who failed their English competency exam (there’s one for grammar and one for essay-writing, and they’re required to take it and pass in the first year) and who absolutely do not want to be there, let alone on a Monday night…

So, it’s going to be a tough class. And I don’t know yet if I’m teaching the full course or half, but either way, talk about an unexpected blessing and work paying off…!

And there’s a moral of the story here: Take the opportunities that come your way, and do your best… because you never know when that opportunity could turn into something else. I know, it seems like common sense, but that little critique you’re working on? Or that workshop piece you edited? Or that information you passed on to a journalist friend? That could be where an unexpected, great opportunity comes from in the future.

Treat every job, every task, no matter how big or small, with the attitude that doing your best is the only way to complete it. And as you do this, be willing to build relationships with the people around you, who will see that you’re working hard and that you care about what you’re doing, and then will be more likely to give you more responsibilities in the future.

As writers, we often think that it’s only what’s on the page in front of us that counts or makes the difference. In reality, it’s our work and our relationships with others that make the difference, and doing our best in both, even when the task seems tedious or difficult.

Now, share with me! I want to know: What wonderful and/or unexpected opportunities have come your way in the past, due to your good work or good relationships with others?


Book Review: ‘Hex Hall’

   Posted by: Faith    in Rye Thoughts

I read this one awhile ago, but I enjoyed it so much that I couldn’t resist sharing, just in case you haven’t read it yet…

Hex Hall

by Rachel Hawkins

YA Paranormal

Release Date: March 2010

Description (from Amazon):

hexhallThree years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It’s gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie’s estranged father—an elusive European warlock—only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it’s her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.

By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire on campus.

Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect. As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.

My Thoughts:

School for magical types… hmm… sound familiar? We’ve seen this theme before, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if readers passed over this book based on the cover copy description. Unfortunately, they’ll be missing a wonderful read if they do!

This is a strong debut to a series, with realistically developed characters and non-contrived subplots. Sophie, the main character, is likable, flawed, and logical: When she develops a small crush on a guy at school, she doesn’t fall head over heels for him, but the feelings grow over time in a way that’s so natural I found myself reminiscing about my own time as a 16-year-old. I don’t know how Hawkins did it, but she captured the spirit of an intelligent, funny, and realistic 16-year-old inside this book. Hmm, maybe Hawkins went to Hex Hall herself…

I also found myself a little surprised at how mystery-oriented the book was, but this wasn’t a bad thing. When students start being murdered, Sophie suspects there’s a plot surfacing to kill off Prodigium, but when no one believes her (as you might expect), she decides to do something about it and solve the problem on her own. A significant portion of the book is given to this, and makes the story feel a bit more like a YA mystery than a YA paranormal at times, but as I said, it isn’t a bad thing.

These will make sense if you've read the book... :) As for secondary characters? A vampire roommate who loves the color pink and who experiences severe discrimination is one of the strongest secondaries, and the primary "bad guy" (another female student) is the kind who you feel sorry for at times, because she’s not your typical evil character — she’s just another teen trying to get by at school, doing what she thinks she needs to do to survive.

Of course, the big issues aren’t resolved in this book, and there’s a huge reveal at the end of the book that I didn’t see coming. The second book in the series releases this February, and I’m definitely looking forward to it.

(I should also mention, I won my copy of this book on author Tera Lynn Childs’ blog, so if you haven’t read any of her books before either, go take a look!)

About the Author


Rachel Hawkins is a high school English teacher. She lives with her family in Alabama, and is currently at work on the next book in the Hex Hall series.


Happy December!

   Posted by: Faith    in Rye Thoughts

It’s December… how did your NaNo-ing or projects go in November? Well, whether they went as planned or flopped, you’re still here, reading this blog, which means: You made it through the month, and that’s something to celebrate!

Here, have a cookie:

And while you’re munching away, why don’t you tell me what your goals are for December? Anything fun or exciting planned? I have a couple non-writing related things happening for these next few weeks, so my goal is to get through those without perishing, and then get back to the writing goals… though I still hope to participate in storypraxis as much as I can!

Anything else…?

*squints at Google Friend Connect*

It’s my understanding that in the blogosphere (also, I’m torn on whether I like that word or hate it with a passion), it’s tradition to hold a 100 Followers Contest… and seeing as how I am almost there…

Heck, I like tradition (usually), so a contest it is! Next week, keep your eyes peeled for a contest/giveaway/blog party to celebrate YOU, my readers, and also to contribute to the holiday spirit by giving away PRESENTS. Who doesn’t like presents? Crazy people, that’s who.

Also, anyone submitting these days? I know things start to slow down in December, but there are still lots of open markets and anthology calls! I sent something to The Vestal Review and Tesseracts 15 at the end of November and have been refreshing my mailbox obsessively ever since.

And, that’s my update for today! Helpful posts will resume at some unscheduled point, but in the meantime, keep checking back for a giveaway or two. *w00t w00t*

(…er, if this post seems rather scattered, I *did* have two coffees this morning, and not quite enough sleep over the weekend…)


In My Mailbox (17)

   Posted by: Faith    in Rye Thoughts

It’s been over a month since I did one of these! But that’s okay, I didn’t get a whole lot in November anyway, comparatively speaking, of course. I’m really looking forward to a lot of these… I just have to make it through all the reading for the course I’m taking (and get my final paper written) first!

FYI: In My Mailbox is a weekly meme started by The Story Siren to showcase books you’ve received for review, bought, borrowed, or swapped. Anyone can participate, and it’s a great way to showcase new books and encourage blogger/commenter interaction!


My Dearest Husbando also had a birthday in November, and he received these books that I can’t wait to read :


So, that’s my November on a bookshelf! How have your November mailbox adventures been?

Received anything that you just can’t wait to snuggle up with as the holidays approach? :)