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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Clear Your Shelf Blog Hop Giveaway Results

Thank you so much to everyone who stopped by and entered the giveaway! It was a resounding success and I'm so excited to have so many new followers, both on GFC and email. I appreciate it so much. I hope I can come through for you with more good content. Next week, there will be another giveaway, so I guess that's a pretty good start!

Both winners have been notified and their books will be sent to them in the net couple of days. I hope they enjoy The Longings of Wayward Girls and Accidents Happen as much as I did!

Monday, August 26, 2013

When You Can't Explain It, Sing It!

I'm loving this song right now because it expresses poetically the way my husband is feeling. Here's my inadequate translation:

"Provincia de Río Negro" 
Manolo García

I’ve seen the province of Río Negro reflected
in your lake system gaze.
I’ve seen the flight of the white shadow,
a chain that moors a traveler who doesn’t want to go home.
Your Basque grandfather was a shepherd in Patagonia.
I’ve touched your meadow hair,
I’ve held your copper-colored thatch hands.
Hung up on sheepskin fleeces,
trembling tendrils on golden fields,
on the windy, soft afternoon of the earth.
Like foam on the crests of some earthen waves
shimmering in your sea of pampas grass.
Ooh, I’m leaving now. Ooh, here I am.

When I come back, I find myself frozen stiff with nostalgia
on this impossible highway.
Under the private smoke from the thousand chimneys
of the new development on the edge of the city,
we move along at infernal speeds
on machines with wheels — and I can’t get used to it —
to come together like a plague of locusts
at the same times, in the same places.
So I feel I’m wasting my life here,
that I only want to hold
your copper-thatch hands in mine.
Ooh, I’m leaving now. Ooh, here I am.
Hung up on sheepskin fleeces,
Trembling whiteness on golden fields
on the windy, soft afternoon of the earth.
Like foam on the crests of a few eternal waves
shimmering in a sea of pampas grass.
Ooh, I’m leaving now. Ooh, here I am.
Ooh, I’m leaving now. Ooh, here I am.

Put simply: my husband knows there's something better out there. Even more simply: he's fed up.

Call it a mid-life crisis. Call it 30 years of bouncing around doing work that vexes his soul. Whatever it is, I think we're on the verge of a life-changing decision. I'll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, the Clear Your Shelf giveaway hop is still going on, so get your entries in there while you can! 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Clear Your Shelf Giveaway Hop — Books Galore!

This hop is hosted by I Am a Reader, Not a Writer and Bookhounds. I have two wonderful books in my possession that I need to clear away because there's just not enough space in this hotel room. (Yes, we're still in the hotel!) They were both highly enjoyable publisher ARC's.

The first book is The Longings of Wayward Girls by Karen Brown. I did a review in the last post. Both my mother and I read this, so it has a couple of signs of wear, but it's still suitable to keeping forever on an attractive shelf (if you're into that kind of thing).

The second book is Accidents Happen by Louise Millar. It has a little bumping on the front, but just a little.


1. Enter by leaving a comment on this blog including your email (written out to avoid spam if you desire). Email will be used for winner notification only.

2. Extra entries can be earned by following this blog by Google Friend Connect or email (see sidebar); by liking my Facebook author page; or by following me on Twitter. Let me know in your comment so I'll be sure not to miss it!

This giveaway is open to US residents. Entries begin now and end August 27th at 11:59 pm EDT. Two winners will be drawn and notified on August 28 and prize books will be shipped on August 31.

There are a lot of other books that need new homes! Check out all the other blogs on this linky list to enter their drawings — you could get quite a library going!

The Longings of Wayward Girls

The Longings of Wayward Girls by Karen Brown

This book made me uncomfortable for long stretches. The discomfort came from the terrible decisions of some of the characters. I could hardly bear to read about what they were doing, and at the same time, I couldn't bear to put the book down, in the hope that they would come to their senses soon. Whether or not you agree with some of the things Sadie, for example, gets herself into, the masterful writing will make you turn the pages again and again. The novel is crammed with characters, so their development is done with small details that only suggest their full stories. More or less what the author has done is build an entire world full of mystery, and I'm in awe.

The novel's complex layers reiterate the theme of loss or disappearance. People who vanish out of their loved ones' lives for no known reason, people who disappear because they're searching for something they already have, others who run away to escape secret horrors no one would guess at, most who lose something and then lose their way... Everyone in the book is just as haunted as the scary forest presentation, "Haunted Woods," the children put together every summer. Debating the reasons everyone acts they way they do could fill a lively book club session, and makes me think this book is a prime example of the way reading fiction can train readers in empathy.

Aside from all that heavy stuff, this book may help people who grew up in the '70's remember some details of daily life. I'm not the same age as the main character (close), but I was amazed at all the small things the author included to make the readers feel they've really gone back in time. A memorable book for so many reasons.

Tune in tomorrow (or later today, depending on your time zone) for the start of my giveaway of this great title!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Rhino Calendar Madness!

It's coming straight at you!
The 2014 Rhino Conservation Calendar! 
This year, my husband and I submitted photos to the International Rhino Keepers Association calendar. Please go to the preliminary survey and vote for your ten favorite rhino pictures! Our snapshots are numbers 30 and 31. All the photos are so great, it's hard to decide on just eight others!

After the survey, no one will bother you again unless you voluntarily sign up for calendar updates.

There are pictures of all the species except one: the Javan rhino is missing, that rarest of creatures. I would probably vote for a blurry camera trap photo of one of them, just to include them with their relatives.

The twelve most popular photos from the survey will find their way to the months of the calendar. Voting has started already and ends August 25, so hurry!

All calendar sales will support the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary, and it will become available for pre-order September 1 at the IRKA website.

Remember: you especially like 30 and 31...

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Carolina Writers' Networking Luncheon

On Sunday, my husband and I drove for two and half hours to a spot in North Carolina that only took my Loose Leaves colleague Jan an hour and half to get to from South Carolina (why does that happen every time?). There, we met a large percentage of active writers and editors in the Carolinas at the Carolina Writers' Networking Luncheon, which was put on by editor and author of Don't Sabotage Your Submission, Chris Roerdon.

Here's the always necessary book table. The Boxcar Grill didn't anticipate so many wonderful offerings, and many authors sat with their books all afternoon, which was a more personal experience. Notice the Loose Leave mini-catalogue flier standing up at left.

Loads of networking and good fun took place before and after a delicious lunch in the cramped quarters.

Chris Roerdon ends the afternoon with acknowledgments. I don't know if I'm the only one, but I left with the feeling that I'm not alone as a writer in the South. We're everywhere! The gentleman on the right is editor and proprietor of Pisgah Press, A. D. Reed.

And a moment of glamour. We have to mark whenever the disparate members of Loose Leaves manage to occupy the same space. They used a swamp cooler at the restaurant, so my hair is frizzing out, so it's just as well the picture is blurry!

I hope all the attendees found this luncheon as interesting as I did! I love a chance to get out and mix with other writers and editors!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Five Fascinating Facts about Spain's History as a Melting Pot

Today I have a post at Unusual Historicals about just five of the countless cultures that have criss-crossed Spain's land throughout history. As they say, En lo puro no hay futuro — There's no future in purity. Mix it up!


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

More Rhino News

It's my birthday on Friday, and my husband and I have saved up to eat at a Spanish restaurant in the area.

I really don't feel I ask for a lot, but here's an example of what I would have wished would NOT happen, if I'd been able to imagine it at all. Why do these things have to be so complicated? Either save the animals or don't. Saying you're helping conservation by allowing slaughter and gaping loopholes in idiotic, illegal horn trade is hypocritical, at least.

Why would hunters want to shoot at fish in a barrel, anyway? That seems to be the way this works. As I've mentioned, I like a gentle approach, but sometimes you just have to call stupidity stupid.

In happier rhino news, I've entered the rhino calendar photography contest at the International Rhino Keeper Foundation. I'll let you know when you can vote for my photo at the North Carolina Zoo!

And keep enjoying the happy rhinos in my post from Monday! It's your personal birthday present to me. Thank you!

Monday, August 5, 2013

"Enjoyable": Rhinos Are Back!

Have you been missing the rhinos on this blog? I have, to the point that I think I've started a novel about rhinos! More on that later, I'm sure. Otherwise, I've been keeping up with all kinds of social media on rhinos, including the excellent Rhino Girl's blog. It's an easy way for people who aren't in the thick of the problem (i.e., Americans) to keep up with the politics and the changing tides of an all-out war. This is getting really urgent! My approach has always been to ease people into education while entertaining them through zany tales. But I wonder if my stories are soon to become historical — evidence of a lost time when rhinos once existed.

Anyway, World Rhino day is coming soon in September and I have no idea what to do! In the meantime, my Rhinoceros Dreams anthology somehow garnered the attention of a reviewer at Wise Grey Owl. I really appreciate anyone making the investment of money and time to read the stories, so thanks to one Dorothy Johnson!

She rated the book "Probably Recommend" and "Very Well Edited" — I love that last one, since my non-writing profession is as an editor.

The review spends some time talking about the limitations of short stories. They are, after all, short stories, so there's only so much a writer can cram in. I won't leave anything out of my nascent novel, I promise!

My favorite part of the review: "One aspect of the story which I did enjoy was the physical description of rhinoceroses, their beauty, and the dangers that they face from poachers. The second story, ‘Not Extinct Yet’, turns around the idea that non-human animals can speak. The cruelty of the poachers is more detailed and horrific, and the campaign fought against poaching by the protagonist, Suzanne is one with which I have every sympathy. ... An enjoyable aspect of all three stories is their humour and lightness of touch when dealing with a tragic subject." 

I've been told before that I have a "light touch." That person was British, too. Maybe Americans aren't so sensitive to that aspect of my writing? I'm not actually sure we have that concept in my country, now that I think about it. Are any of my American readers scratching your heads? ;)

Thanks again to that reader. This kind of feedback for a writer is like an oasis in a lonely desert.

See the full review here.

And please, get Rhinoceros Dreams before the subject of these short stories is extinct forever! At all these retailers:
Kindle | Kindle UK | Nook | Kobo | Diesel | Sony | Smashwords