Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Book and first ever (and probably only) Music Album Review

I will do my book review first because, well, that's how I roll (of course, of course). ;)

I recently finished reading two books actually. The first one was...

Here's the blurb from Amazon...

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages--not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out.

When one of the strangers--beautiful, haunted Akiva--fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

This book was named one of Amazon's Best Books of 2011 for good reason. Laini Taylor creates a world that will entrance you from the very first chapter. Her words are like brush strokes of a painting, igniting your imagination with color and life as you follow Karou through the story. The concept of the book is exciting and unique. I've read a lot of fantasy and science fiction in my time and I haven't come across anything like this.The story is otherworldly and yet so familiar. We see Karou's loneliness, her desire to know who she is and her love for those she considers her family. I just loved the book and was sorry it came to an end. Well, I was exasperated really because I KNOW the story continues. How do I know? Here's how...

I was lucky enough to meet Laini herself at a book signing in West Hollywood! She talked about her book and her process and yes, the coming of a sequel to DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE! I'm so excited!

So, read Laini's new book! You will not be disappointed. This is a young adult novel and I recommend it highly for kids 13 and over who love urban fantasy and a damn good read!

Did I mention we are co-contributors to FRACTURED FABLES by Shadowline Comics? I remember paging through my contributor's copy and my excitement to see her name listed sorta near mine. Unfortaunately, I forgot to bring it with me to the book signing. :( Oh well, maybe next time.

The second book I finished was...

Connie Willis is one of my all time favorites. I found this little gem after listening to another book of her's entitled BELLWEATHER. D.A. is basically about a teen named Theodora who receives the completely unexpected and unearned honor of select admission to the highly acclaimed International Space Academy. What happens next is comedy, Willis style, as you watch Theodora attempt to figure out why she was selected. I loved the theme she wove into this story on the need for catalysts for change. It's a fun short read for any scifi fanatic out there. You know who you are. :)

On to my music review. Music isn't something I normally review but I LOVE this album so much I just have to say SOMETHING about it.

This is their latest album. IT WILL ROCK YOUR SOCKS OFF. Let me just say that I haven't stopped listening to it since I ripped the cd (it belongs to my daughter hehe) onto my Ipod. The whole album is rock heaven. It is, that is, if you like hard rock. But it's so much more than just hard rock. It's atmospheric, symphonic, love-filled, heart-wrenching music. Amy Lee's voice and lyrics take you places in your mind and heart that you forgot were there or may not have discovered. Some of my very favorites are Made of Stone, My heart is Broken, The Other Side, Lost in Paradise and Swimming Home. Like I said, rock heaven.

Come on, give it a listen.

Rock on.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Book Review!

Last September, I received an ARC of Kathleen O'Dell's recently released book, THE AVIARY (Thank you, Kathleen!) I was in the middle of revisions when she sent the book to me and didn't begin reading it until October. It was well worth the wait.

Here's a little summary from

Twelve-year-old Clara Dooley has spent her whole life in the Glendoveer mansion, where her mother is a servant to the kind and elderly matron of the house. Clara has never known another home. In fact, she's confined to the grand estate due to a mysterious heart condition. But it's a comfortable life, and if it weren't for the creepy squawking birds in the aviary out back, a completely peaceful one too.

But once old Mrs. Glendoveer passes away, Clara comes to learn many dark secrets about the family. The Glendoveers suffered a horrific tragedy: their children were kidnapped, then drowned. And their father George Glendoveer, a famous magician and illusionist, stood accused until his death. As Clara digs deeper and deeper into the terrifying events, the five birds in the aviary seem to be trying to tell her something. And Clara comes to wonder: what is their true identity? Clara sets out to solve a decades-old murder mystery—and in doing so, unlocks a secret in her own life, too. Kathleen O'Dell deftly weaves magic, secret identities, evil villians, unlikely heroes, and the wonder of friendship into a mystery adventure with all the charm of an old fashioned classic.

This was an amazing read! I’m a huge fan of historical fiction because I enjoy being transported to different times and places. I feel like an invisible time-traveler, able to visualize a certain period of time through an author’s storytelling. This book was no exception! I was drawn into Clara’s world from the very first page. The mystery and magic of the Clara’s life, of the Glendoveer house and the birds keep you turning the page until you reach the story’s satisfying ending.

Go on, check it out!

Read on.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


I’m at home today nursing a sore throat with chicken soup, lemon juice and of course, a good book. I just finished listening to book four in the Harry Potter series, THE GOBLET OF FIRE. Why listen to the book instead of reading it, you ask? I’ve wanted to read the HP series for a long time now and my hubby suggested that I listen to the books instead. I resisted at first, but relented when I looked at my towering stack of TO READ books on my bedside table (and in my Kindle). So he uploaded the first four books onto my IPod …

I WAS HOOKED. The story, the writing, is amazing, of course, but the NARRATION is SUPERB.

JIM DALE is the genius behind the many voices that inhabit the world of Harry Potter. He makes the story come alive in the most incredible way. The voices he uses for each character (and there are many!) are believable and true. He will keep you riveted to the story until the very end.

If you have never experienced the magic of listening to a story, you must try this one out. I listen to it in the car going to and from work. I listen to it while sweeping the floor (oh, it puts me in such a good mood to do chores!), and even while I cook (sometimes). I finished listening to book four today while I crocheted and rested my sore throat.

Listening to the series also frees up some time to read the books in my stack. I usually read whatever catches my eye whether it resides within the genre I write for or not. You can say that I took Stephen King’s advice for writing well and that is to read EVERYTHING. So I do. What I want to talk about today is a YA book I read recently, LIKE MANDARIN by Kirsten Hubbard.

It’s a story about a girl named Grace Carpenter, who lives in a small dusty town in Wyoming with her little sister Taffeta, and their beauty pageant obsessed mother. Grace longs to break free from her small town with its cowboy dances, its penchant for animal head trophies and the Little Miss Washokey pageants. She longs to be like Mandarin Ramey, a beautiful girl who does whatever she likes and doesn’t care what people think of her. When they unite for a school project, they strike an unlikely friendship and soon, Grace learns there is much more to Mandarin than meets the eye.

The story is beautifully written and wonderfully imagined. Grace and Mandarin’s friendship is both heartwarming and heartbreaking as it unfolds. The author shows with clarity and grace how presumptuous we can be about people we perceive as cool or popular or easy or slutty and how the truth can change us. Most importantly though, this story shows us how two girls from different backgrounds can learn about themselves by learning about each other. It’s a wonderful book. Read it. You won’t be disappointed.

On Knitty news, I abandoned my knitted sweater project because, well, it was turning out bad. My calculations were off and my choice of yarn didn’t suit the design after all. So I switched gears. I’m making a crocheted summer sweater now. I will post pictures of the completed project soon since I plan to wear the sweater at my nephew’s baptism in July. I always work better when I have a deadline in sight.

On writing news, I’ve completed the first round of revisions on my book, Pathos. I’ve sent it out for a read and am waiting (in mild terror) for her feedback. Then it’s revision time again. This first round was hard because of the number of cuts and rewrites that had to happen to deepen the characters and fix any plot issues. There will be more tweaking to do after I receive her critique but I hope it won’t be too terrible. The process is fun but the work can be migraine-inducing.

Well, the waiting game still continues for me … I’m still waiting to hear from an agent on my first novel, from a publisher on my picture book, from someone critiquing my second novel … but not for my short story submission! At the end of May, I received great news! My short story was accepted for publication in an anthology that will be released in the UK! I’m thrilled because it’s my first venture into this art form and in dark fiction. My lovely critique friends gave me the encouragement to give short story writing a try. With their thoughtful comments on the piece and my family’s patience (daddy had to make dinner), I sent in the story just before the submission deadline, in early April. I will share more details about the anthology and it’s release when I know more. 

Have a great day, everybody!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Feeding My Knitty Passions

I'm a firm believer in doing whatever makes you happy so long as it doesn’t involve hurting people, animals or Mother Nature (just sayin’).

My passions have always involved textile crafts such as embroidery, quilting, crochet and knitting.  I also have a passion for books, reading them and now, of course, writing them.  The focus for this post will be my latest textile obsession – knitting.

When I was a little girl, I used to watch my mom crochet.  I used to watch, fascinated, as she pulled loops through other loops to make something pretty.  At the time, my mother wouldn’t let me hold her steel crochet hook (the size used for lace work) because, well, she thought I would poke my eye out or worse.  So I improvised.  I took a pencil and some yarn and played around until I could mimic my mother’s movements and pretend I was “making something”.  And it looked like this …

I would cast-on until I ran out of yarn then pull it all off.  I did this over and over again until eventually, I got tired of it since it never actually "became" anything.  What I didn’t know, at the time, was that I was performing a technique called a Backward Loop Cast-on!  What this is, for all you non-knitters, is the method you use to create the base stitches of a knitting project.  I guess you could say I was born to knit but I didn’t actually LEARN how to knit until five or so years ago.

Flash forward to middle age (yikes!) – I taught myself how to knit using those kits you can buy from Micheal’s.  I practiced the basics and churned out a bunch of scarves, a pair of socks, hats, a couple of baby sweaters, a baby blanket, pencil cases and fingerless gloves.  I did knit a couple of sweaters for myself and both ended up completely unwearable.  The first of which was an aqua spring top, a size too small and the second, a charcoal colored cardigan a size to big (I looked like King Kong when I put that monstrosity on!)  I loved making all these things but if I had to choose a favorite, it would be – fingerless gloves (FGs).

There is something so comfortable and cozy about these knitted projects.  I guess I like them because, not only are they quick to make, they are also very useful.  I made some FGs for my awesome critique group last Christmas because, as everyone knows, warm hands are necessary for writing!  These were made with Malabrigo Rios yarn, a luscious, hand-dyed, superwash merino wool (yummy yarn!)  I ordered online.  Nothing’s too good for my girls!  Here are their nice, toasty hands ...

Well, now that it’s Spring time, my fingers are itching for another project.  I saw a really cute top in Interweave Knits Spring 2011 issue.


Cute, right?  It’s called a Ruched Yoke Tee.  I know, I know, I’m risking yarn and time and may end up with another disaster (another monster sweater?)  but I think I can pull this one off because, for one, it has no sleeves (yayy! Less work!) and two, well, I have to make one because it's just too darn cute!  The trouble with this pattern, though, is that the recommended yarn is a bit out of my price range so I’ve had to substitute it with something more affordable.  In order to recalculate the pattern to suit my yarn, I had to consult this …

It taught me how to do this …

Looks nasty, huh?  Sorry, it's a little hard to see.  It isn't complicated at all.  You just do a little math and viola!  You have a customized pattern!  BTW, this book and The Knitter’s Handbook by Debbie Stoller are a must have for both beginning and experienced knitters.

So, my new knitting journey begins …

This is how I feed my passion for knitting.  With beautiful yarn and exciting projects!  Next post will be about feeding my writing and book passion.  I’ll also share my progress on my knitting project.

Till next time. 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

New Blog Name

I changed the name of my blog.

I had originally wanted to blog about my thoughts on writing, its process and the benefits it has on my creative mind but I find that my posts have been mostly about books I've read, music, knitting projects I've completed, and not much about my writing.  Only a very little on my writing, though I'd like it to have more.  So I decided the blog title or name should reflect the two creative endeavors I am most passionate about but not an absolute expert in.  Knitting and writing.

So KNIT WIT WRITER it is .... or until I can think of something better.

 On recent Knit Wit news, I did knit a pair of fingerless gloves for my niece.  She truly loves them and wears them ALL THE TIME!  I gave them to her for Christmas and according to her mom, she wears them at all times except at school and church (though I think it's probably okay to wear it there). Isn't that adorable?

On writing news, I finally finished the first draft of my second novel!  My manuscript is all printed out on my desk awaiting revision which I will begin (actually, I've already revised chapter one) as soon as I finish drafting a short story project I decided to do.  More on that later.  My hands are itching to continue revising but first, I must consult with .... the Plot Whisperer ...

I bought this ebook by Martha Alderson a couple of months ago and was so excited to dig into it only to be told in the introduction that I should have a finished draft of my novel before I begin taking the "26 Plot Steps to Revision".  At the time, I had written only about 75% of the book so I closed my copy of Blockbuster Plots (it was hard to do!) and got back to work.  So here I am, letting my book sit a little so I can tackle it with fresh eyes and hopefully, with the help of the Plot Whisperer, make it a better book than it is now.  AND my good friend and author, Erin Fry, highly recommends it. :)

So that's it for now.  It's past midnight and it's raining buckets outside so I better hit the sack.