Wkly Brief – A Year of Twitter Authors

FYSAOver the past year, my Twitter Authors page has spot-lighted more than 60 titles written by authors that follow me on Twitter.  The books that I have read from the list have been entertaining, informative, and enjoyable. It has been a wonderful experience to read the works from many of these lesser-known authors. Among my favorites were:

  • Mystery: Live Free or Die: A Granite State Mystery by Jessie Crockett (@JessieCrockett)
  • Women’s Fiction: Equilibrium by Lorrie Thomson (@LorrieThomson)
  • Thriller: Dangerous Denial by Amy Ray (@WriterAmyRay)
  • Novel: After by Kristin Waterfield Duisberg (@KristinDuisberg) –  See July 2014’s Book Review
  • Memoir: Funny You Should Ask: A Diary of One Woman’s Breast Cancer Journey by Tracy L. Matteson (@tlmatteson77)
  • Historical Fiction: Secret of the Sands by Sara Sheridan  (@sarasheridan)

I have more than 150 more titles queued up for you.. This month, there are five new titles on my Twitter Author page. Please consider selecting one to read.

If you are an author, follow me on Twitter (@brathhoover) and at some point in the future, you will be mentioned on this web-site.

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My First Edition Harry Potter Book

elfhavenTonight I judged a book: not only by its cover, but also by the author’s one sentence elevator pitch.Then I purchased the book, Thomas Holland and the Prophecy of Elfhaven by K.M Doherty, in Kindle format. The book promises a bit of magic mixed with science, in a Chicago setting. Could it be the U.S. answer to Hogwarts? And if it is, will I come to regret my Kindle version, wishing I had waited for the first edition book to arrive by mail? We shall see. But tonight, as I listened to the author, I was reminded of a book purchase made in December 1998 in Lebanon, NH.

My job had sent me to the far side of NH in the weeks leading up to Christmas. While my family prepared for the holidays at home, I was stuck in a conference room, seventy miles away, digging through piles of paperwork, as my boss and I conducted an operations audit. Good times.

One evening, we decided to buy books for our kids. Within moments I found My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss, a book that fully described my little girl. In fact, she and I both loved the book so much, that for her high school graduation, I made her a scrapbook of her High School journey, based on the Dr. Seuss’s story. My daughter’s book in hand, I started searching for a book for her older brother. For the next thirty minutes I read one jacket after another, seeking the perfect book for my son.

My son, just short of ten years old, had already powered through Phillip Pullman’s Dark Materials Series and through J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. We had read The Lord of the Rings together. Also read: Watership Down by Richard Adams, and every Goosebumps book created. I was running out of options for my voracious, but very young reader. Christmas was weeks away and stories were his favorite gift. That night, the books I found had plots that were too mature, writing that was too simplistic, or if the plot and writing was appropriate, he had already read the book.

Finally, giving up, I went to the counter with my Dr. Seuss book. As a last-minute thought, I shared my dilemma with the saleswoman. “You might want to try this one,” she said, holding up an expensive hardcover book with a skinny dark-haired, lightening-scarred boy on a broomstick. “I’ve been hearing good things about it.”

I responded with the 1998 equivalent of ‘whatever’, added the book to my pile, and bought my son a classic children’s tale and an all-time family favorite, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling.

Christmas came and my son opened his gift and buried himself in the Hogwarts’ adventure. Then my husband read the book, and I read it. Then we read it to our daughter while my son listened in. On that day, early in December 1998, when Harry Potter was just a gleam in America’s eye, my purchase placed our little family on the bleeding edge of a new phenomena. According to ArtBeat, Harry Potter “crept quietly onto the bottom of the hardcover fiction list on Dec. 27, 1998,” several weeks after our purchase.  I have been grateful to that bookstore salesperson ever since, for having introduced us to this delightful series.

So now, having purchased the Kindle version of K.M. Doherty’s book, and I have to wonder, should I have purchased the real deal? Only time will tell.

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Ice, Water, Steam (DP Challenge)

2006-06-15 sunset on lakeAbove my head, the plastic white clock in its green plastic frame, ticks away the seconds. No second-hand to visually warn me of passing time. When all is quiet, only then do I hear the tick-tick-tick of my days, endless days, passing by. I shall surely die under this endlessly ticking clock.

It is dark and cold outside. I have no window to see the stars, but my clock tells me all others have left. They have burrowed into parkas and gloves and hurried to their homes for warm stews with home-baked breads. I bury my head in numbers, pouring the digits into my brain, sifting them into order. I spit them onto electronic spreadsheets, divide the results among the masses; create unwanted bills for unwanted services. The numbers dark on white, freeze on the page, even as I remain frozen in the comfort of the known.

When I was child, my body flowed among rural suburban streets, in and out of woods and fields, flow and ebb in yards turned football fields. One moment I was king of Four Square, the next a young girl in love, and yet the next, defensive tackle, intercepting and running for the end-zone. Never to be beaten; never to be caught or caged.

Twenty years with ten to go, the plastic clock tells me. Hold on; you are almost there. Stay still, stay put, stay still, stay put. The clock ticks and my days slip away.

The child calls to me: run to me, before it’s too late.

The child ripples and skips over pebbles in its way; her freedom burns hot like the mid-summer sun. Too hot for my weary body. My path lies ahead. But the child’s warmth blows over frozen limbs, reawakening desires from long ago.

My head lifts from binders; my fingers reach for a pen. I drag a single sheet of blue-lined paper and tilt it to the left. Black ink to white; sentences trickle. I trip over lost words, meander from thought to thought. Until with time, a rolling river carves the way, and the heat brings to boil all that has been waiting.

I neither run back, nor stay put.

I soar on warm breezes above endless frozen lakes.

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DP Challenge: Ice, Water, Steam

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Wkly Brief – 2014 in review

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Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,900 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Unfulfilled Promises

Once again, I eagerly signed up for a task. This time it snow shoveling. Once again, tired and bored, I had not fulfilled my promise. My mother, washing dishes at our sink in Fairport, New York, wears a vivid red, short-sleeved shirt, damp kitchen towel over one shoulder.  Her long hair, gray strands woven through black, is smoothed back with a flowing scarf. Paraphrasing St. Bernard (the person, not the dog), she says, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

What is worse, I wonder? Having good intentions and leaving them unfulfilled? Or never having the good intention in the first place? I like to think it is the former. Having good intentions, even unmet, means that there is hope and potential. Thus I opt for the good intentions and at times, I surprise myself and follow through.

There are two good intentions I had in December. One was to do a shout-out for New Hampshire authors that follow me on Twitter. I was to do this early in the month in honor of NH Writers’ Week, but to use a different cliché ,  better late than never.  Please visit my Twitter Authors page to see who’s who in NH Writing. If you are an author and you don’t see your name on my list, follow me on Twitter and let me know you write for NH.

My other good intention was to finish my first draft of my first-ever novel by December 15th. For writers, this is a hurdle that must be accomplished to move forward.  While I missed the deadline, I did finish on December 20th at 9:10 AM.  Just in time to open my eyes and realize Christmas was only five days away.  I blinked several times, figuratively set my pen down, and dove head first into the holiday season. Seven days later, the hard work of revision begins.

For those who have been following my journey, here’s a list of what’s in store for this novice author for the months of January and February:

  1. Read my story as a reader. Does it make sense? Is it interesting? Would I want to read it? What longing does it fulfill in the reader? Why does this story exist?
  2. Writing is a craft. It’s time to sharpen the tools that I need for the craft.  To do that I need to reread books about writing. I have a stack, but having never read Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, I have chosen to start there.Writer Tool Kit
  3. Start a list of where my novel falls short of the craft. I have included:
    1. Tense, grammar, punctuation.
    2. Don’t hint at where you won’t go. For example, I have a bridge slashing shadows across a face. Do I really want to go there? If not, remove the imagery. If so, get brave and write the scene.
    3. Are my characters being too safe? Even though I have grown to love these characters, they need to make poor choices.
    4. Write the hard scenes.
  4. Know my characters. What makes them act the way the do? Write character sketches for the main characters. For all others, at a bare minimum, know what does he/she wants. Every character needs to want something.
  5. Reread my novel as a writer. Keep a list of where it falls short and where it sings.

Within weeks I will begin my revisions. I am overwhelmed and excited. My goal: to keep this novel in the category of fulfilled good intentions and to avoid the plague of unfulfilled promise. I’ll keep you posted.

If you are a writer and have any advise on how to revise a novel, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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