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Zombie Chicken Award

I have to say that the idea of Zombie Chickens disturbs me. However, I’ve received this award from Marie at The Burton Review and from Iliana at Bookgirl’s Nightstand. I am honored nonetheless, especially since Iliana seems to think the little celebration for National Poetry Month here at the blog would stop the zombie chicken attacks.

“The blogger who receives this award believes in the Tao of the zombie chicken – excellence, grace and persistence in all situations, even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. These amazing bloggers regularly produce content so remarkable that their readers would brave a raving pack of zombie chickens just to be able to read their inspiring words. As a recipient of this world-renowned award, you now have the task of passing it on to at least 5 other worthy bloggers. Do not risk the wrath of the zombie chickens by choosing unwisely or not choosing at all…”

Here are my 10 nominees, since I was given the award twice:

1. Suey at It’s All About Books
2. Janel at Janel’s Jumble
3. Jo-Jo at Jo-Jo Loves to Read
4. Carolyn Jean at The Trillionth Page
5. Lenore at Presenting Lenore
6. Alea at Pop Culture Junkie
7. Louise at Lous_Pages
8. April at Cafe of Dreams
9. Caribousmom
10. Kittling Books

***GIVEAWAY REMINDER***

I have 1 copy of Jill Mansell’s An Offer You Can’t Refuse; get two entries, comment on my review and my interview. Deadline is April 11 at Midnight.

Poem #8, PAD Challenge 2009

Today’s Prompt is to write about a specific routine or routines. This was another tough one for me, but here’s my attempt:

Exercise

Get up, get down
Step up, step down
Hike up, walk down
Moving in this motion
Just to get the heart pumping.
There must be a better way.
Aerobics for an anaerobe.
Dressed in sweats, ready for the afternoon
sweat pours down
as my feet hit the floor or the plastic mold.
Techno music with drum beats
in time with my steps:
Up, down, up, down, up.
Too bad the fat doesn’t sloth off with water.

What did you write today?

For more information about the challenge, go here.

***GIVEAWAY REMINDER***

I have 1 copy of Jill Mansell’s An Offer You Can’t Refuse; get two entries, comment on my review and my interview. Deadline is April 11 at Midnight.

Poem #7, PAD Challenge 2009

The prompt for Day 7 fell on Tuesday, April 7. Poetic Asides has two prompts on Tuesday–Two for Tuesday. I was tasked with writing a poem about clean or dirty. So here’s my rough draft for this prompt:

Shave

Swift horizontal swipe
cuts down dark trunks
fall quicker than the lead
in my pencil broken on the page.

A nail scratching up my chalkboard leg,
dry and cracked from winter kiss.
Clear-cut forest
with scattered stumps among cracked earth.
My hands run along
carrying water to the earth,
moisture covers skin seamlessly
absorbed deeply by pores
free of radicals
free of conservatives
free to be.

What did you write today?

For more information about the challenge, go here.

***GIVEAWAY REMINDER***

I have 1 copy of Jill Mansell’s An Offer You Can’t Refuse; get two entries, comment on my review and my interview. Deadline is April 11 at Midnight.

Book Lovers Recommendations

Today’s my day over at Ramya’s Bookshelf for her weekly spotlight on Book Lovers Recommendations.

I was honored to be asked, and I hope you like my selections. I did change a few after I noticed what Anna at Diary of an Eccentric recommended. Here’s her recommendations in case you missed them.

We seem to think alike. I had originally selected Galway Bay by Mary Pat Kelly and Sea Glass by Antia Shreve as well, but I figured I had some other great selections too. I also liked her selection of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

But anyway, if you want to see what I selected, here are my recommendations.

***GIVEAWAY REMINDER***

I have 1 copy of Jill Mansell’s An Offer You Can’t Refuse; get two entries, comment on my review and my interview. Deadline is April 11 at Midnight.

Richard Currey at Writer’s Center

Richard Currey Booktable
On April 5, I dragged my hubby down to the Bethesda, Md., Writer’s Center for a reading with Richard Currey, author of Fatal Light, which was re-released for its 20th anniversary through the Santa Fe Writer’s Project.


Sunil Freeman, assistant director of the center, listed a number of awards and achievements for Richard’s friend, Robert Aubrey Davis who works at Sirius Satellite Radio on The Village. Robert joked about how Richard wrote him notes about what to say when he introduced him at the reading. Robert talked about Richard’s early work as a poet and quoted from a poem that his friend wrote.

Richard stepped up to the podium, thanked his nephew for helping him get Fatal Light republished. Richard haggled with the original publisher of Fatal Light to obtain the rights to the work for republication. He’s working with Operation Homecoming, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts, to help today’s veterans see writing as a way to deal with their demons through writing workshops and other programs on bases across the United States and abroad.

Fatal Light was written in Richard’s early 20s, and depicts soldiers plucked from the innocence of their lives and dropped into the confusion of war, leaving them to pick up the pieces of their own lives when they return home. The events in the novel are based upon experiences he had as a naval corpsman and medic. He hopes the novel speaks to the current Afghanistan and Iraq generation.

Coming from a background in poetry writing, Richard said he had to focus on the structure of the novel, though Fatal Light is not written in chapters and is much more like a puzzle. As Richard read, his somber tone lulled the listeners quickly, but there was a anxious atmosphere as we waited for the other shoe to drop.

I noticed that while Richard was reading, he seemed entranced by the words he read from on the page, as if he were drifting into older memories. Whether those had to do with Vietnam or other memories related to the writing of Fatal Light, I don’t know. The passages he read were very poetic. Richard was humbled by the applause and reiterated that the characters are fictionalized and an amalgamation of two or three people within a fictionalized plot.

Richard indicated during the question-and-answer session that he was influenced by Faulkner, Carson McCullers, Flannery O’Connor, and he enjoyed the contemporary works of Raymond Chandler, Tom Franklin, William Gay. He called himself an undisciplined reader.

It was a fantastic reading, and it was great to chat with Richard Currey afterward and get my copy of Fatal Light signed. I can’t wait to read and review this quintessential work of Vietnam War literature, and hopefully, Richard will be amendable to an email interview.

And here’s another special treat, my husband and I remembered to get the camera battery charged and we took these great pictures, including one of Richard and I.

Check out the new introduction from the 20th Anniversary edition, here.

Want to hear more about The Writer’s Center event, click on over to Art & Literature.

About the Author:

Born in 1949 in the small town of Parkersburg, West Virginia, Currey’s literary ambitions started early—and were fueled by his grandfather.

Currey’s family moved to Washington, D.C. in 1961—where he was drafted in 1968. In an effort to avoid the Army, Currey enlisted in the Navy. Ironically, he was trained in jungle warfare and special operations, and saw service as a medical corpsman attached to the Marine Corps’s Fleet Marine Force. By his 20th birthday Currey was, as he has since written, “sewn into a new skin.” His military experiences were not to emerge as literary themes for some time, however—Currey started his writing life with poetry, and published many poems before the first version of Crossing Over: The Vietnam Stories was picked up by a small Boston publisher in 1980. The book became a cult hit, and was named a “Best Title of the Year” by Library Journal.

But it was the novel Fatal Light that would establish Currey’s international reputation, with widespread critical acclaim and 20 different editions published in 11 languages. The book was nominated for the PEN/Hemingway Award, and brought its author the Vietnam Veterans of America’s Excellence in the Arts Award and a Special Citation from the Ernest Hemingway Foundation.

***GIVEAWAY REMINDER***

I have 1 copy of Jill Mansell’s An Offer You Can’t Refuse; get two entries, comment on my review and my interview. Deadline is April 11 at Midnight.

Interview With Jill Mansell, Author of An Offer You Can’t Refuse


I want to provide a warm welcome to Jill Mansell, who is stopping by Savvy Verse & Wit as part of her tour with Sourcebooks. I had an opportunity to interview her, and she was gracious enough to answer a few questions. If you missed my review of An Offer You Can’t Refuse, check it out.

1. On average from the first word on the page to publication, how long was the process? What tips could you offer aspiring authors about the process?

I spent a while finding my genre, but once I’d decided to write the kind of books I liked to read myself – contemporary women’s fiction with drama and humour – it was fairly straightforward. I was working full time in a hospital and had a hectic social life, so writing was confined to an hour or two whenever I could squeeze it in. It took me two years to write the whole book, about 160,000 words. It was rejected by the first agent I sent it to, who said that too much happened in it. The second agent turned it down, saying that not enough happened in it! The third agent phoned me up and told me she loved the book and knew she could sell it. That was one of the happiest moments of my life and twenty years later she is still my agent.

Tips for writers – experiment with different writing styles until you find the one that suits you best. I’ve tried so many times to write in the first person, but it just doesn’t work for me and I’ve now accepted that I am a third-person writer. Experiment with genres too. I tried to write straight romance but found I couldn’t keep the comedy out of my novels, which was why they were rejected time and time again. My biggest tip is to use a time-line when plotting out your novel. This keeps characters and events under control and stops you getting to the end of the book then realising you’ve left some vital aspect or character out!

2. Most writers will read inspirational/how-to manuals, take workshops, or belong to writing groups. Did you subscribe to any of these aids and if so which did you find most helpful? Please feel free to name any “writing” books you enjoyed most (i.e. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott).

Gosh, I can’t now remember the names of all the how-to-write books I devoured – most of them, probably! We’re always searching for the one that will answer the unanswerable questions, aren’t we? And cast its magic spell! But I attended a local evening class in creative writing and loved it, especially for the camaraderie and the sheer relief of finally meeting other people who had the same urge to write that I did. This was in the days before the internet so I’d never known any other writers before that. We supported each other when the rejection slips arrived and celebrated each other’s successes. Twenty-odd years later, several of us are still in touch and we meet for lunch. Four of us are now published novelists.


3. How do you stay fit and healthy as a writer?

Fit and healthy? Yikes! I’m lucky in that I don’t do much at all but so far I seem to be surviving. I eat a lot of junk while I’m writing (by hand, with my Harley Davidson fountain pen, in big writing pads.) I sit on my sofa with my feet up on the coffee table and the TV on (for research purposes.) I joined a gym a couple of years ago but never found it enjoyable and ended up making more and more elaborate excuses as to why I couldn’t get there.

4. Do you have any obsessions that you would like to share?

Writing obsessions? Or general ones like: Can’t eat two biscuits, it has to be three? OK, I plan my books initially in beautiful leather-bound decorative notebooks and my handwriting while I’m doing this is completely different to my normal handwriting. I don’t plan the whole book in advance, just a certain amount, enough to start the ball rolling. I have several beautiful fountain pens I use for my novels. My mum used to type my books for me and now my daughter is doing it. (Not out of love, I hasten to add. I have to pay her.) I can’t compose fiction onto a screen – it has to flow out of the end of the pen for me. I write the story first and divide it up into chapters afterwards. Oh, and there’s still nothing lovelier than starting a fat, pristine, brand new writing pad!

5. Please describe your writing space and how it would differ from your ideal writing space.

I write in our living room when I have the house to myself. Big room, red painted walls, French windows leading out onto the garden with sports fields beyond, so I can hear the sports being played while I’m working. If the kids are home from school they banish me upstairs to the bedroom, which is also rather beautiful. There, I sit up in bed to work and have an uninterrupted view of the sportsmen playing soccer, tennis, and cricket in the sports fields over our fence. It’s a tough job, this writing business.

What kind of view would I choose if I could have anything? Exactly the same, but with snow-capped mountains in the distance. I love mountains but sadly we don’t have any in this corner of England. A surfing beach would be pretty cool too. With plenty of fit surfers. Could you arrange that for me? Thanks so much!

6. What current projects are you working on and would you like to share some details with the readers?

I’ve had twenty books published here in the United Kingdom, but I’m just starting out in the United States. The next one to come out over in America is one of my absolute favourites – it’s called Miranda’s Big Mistake and has made more readers laugh and cry than almost any of the others. (I do love making people cry!) Set in London, England, this book features a hairdresser, a journalist who passes himself off as a street beggar, and the world’s most irresistible racing driver. Miranda’s Big Mistake will be in stores in June!

So this has been me. I do hope you’ll look out for my book, An Offer You Can’t Refuse. If you enjoy sparky, feel-good fiction, give my work a try. Fingers crossed, you might like it. I do hope so!

Thanks again, Jill, for stopping by Savvy Verse & Wit, and sharing your thoughts with us about your writing process and obsessions. Good Luck with your U.S. publications.

***Giveaway***

Sourcebooks has offered 1 copy of Jill Mansell’s An Offer You Can’t Refuse to one lucky U.S. or Canadian reader.

All you have to do is comment on this post with something other than “pick me” or “enter me.”

If you missed the review, you can leave a comment there for another entry.

Deadline is April 11, Midnight EST.

Poem #6, PAD Challenge 2009

Today’s poem prompt is to write about something that is missing, whether that is a physical object, a feeling, or an idea. Here’s my feeble attempt at this prompt:

Missing Something

There it is in your touch,
a slow burn on my skin
it trails down my neck and across my cheek.
It’s a love I cannot understand.
Slams into my supple cheek,
harsh as the morning light after a long night.
You say you love me,
caress me, press all the right buttons in bed.
But when I have things to do,
places to be, work to take care of,
it’s a different story.
A story that takes a deep, heated turn
like the argument we have over the coffee.
It’s too strong, too bitter, and too burnt.

What did you write today?

For more information about the challenge, go here.

An Offer You Can’t Refuse by Jill Mansell

I received my ARC of Jill Mansell’s An Offer You Can’t Refuse from Sourcebooks for review.

An Offer You Can’t Refuse is witty, charming, engaging, and Chicklit to the max.

“‘I didn’t know reading could be like that, I had no idea. I’ve just never been a booky person. All these years I’ve been missing out.’

‘Ah, but now you’ve seen the light.’ . . . ‘You’ve become one of us. Welcome to our world; you’re going to love it here.'” (Page 100)

For a reviewer this was a treat to find in a book, this is definitely how many of us feel about books and reading, and reading these lines instantly cemented my attention to this book.

Lola is a young girl in love with a boy, Dougie, whose family is wealthy and whose mother hates her guts. His mother makes her an offer that she can’t refuse, so she takes it and says goodbye to the love of her life in a “Dear John” letter. Fast-forward to the present day and we find Lola has grown up physically, but still wears the same teenage, low-cut clothes and finds herself being mistaken for a prostitute when she walks into London bookstore after living in Majorca for about a decade. Eventually, Lola becomes more grounded and is the bookshop manager, but just as she thinks her life is stabilizing and in a good place, things get all topsy-turvy again.

This novel starts off in Lola’s past, but readers may find that more background is necessary, particularly where her relationship with Dougie is concerned. The only drawback of this novel, which really isn’t one, is that Lola’s story is pushed to the sidelines quite a bit as the Sally’s story takes center stage. However, Mansell carefully weaves the narration back to Lola and the resolution of her story. Readers may want to see more of Dougie, since he is one of the main characters but does not share equal narrative footing with the other narrators: Lola, Sally, and Lola’s friend Gabe.

“Aloud she said, ‘I’m guessing you don’t go into many bookshops.’

‘Me? No way.’ Proudly the boy said, ‘Can’t stand reading, waste of time. Hey, fancy a drink?’

‘No thanks. Can’t stand drinking, waste of time.’

He looked shocked. ‘Really?’

‘Not really. But drinking with you would be a huge waste of time.’ Lola excused herself and made her way over to the bar where Gabe, whose leaving party it was, was chatting to a group of friends from work.” (Page 37, 38)

Mansell’s writing is engaging, and though some of her characters, like Lola and Dougie’s sister Sally, are shallow at first, the complications in their lives force them to look beyond their own lives and come to terms with themselves, their families, and their love lives. Mansell’s An Offer Your Can’t Refuse is recommended for readers who love British humor, chicklit, and are in need of summer reading.

About the Author:

Jill Mansell lives with her partner and children in Bristol, and writes full time. Actually that’s not true; she watches TV, eats fruit gums, admires the rugby players training in the sports field behind her house, and spends hours on the internet marvelling at how many other writers have blogs. Only when she’s completely run out of displacement activities does she write.

***Giveaway***

Sourcebooks has offered 1 copy of Jill Mansell’s An Offer You Can’t Refuse to one lucky U.S. or Canadian reader.

All you have to do is comment on this post with something other than “pick me” or “enter me.”

Deadline is April 11, Midnight EST.

Come back tomorrow for my interview with Jill Mansell and another opportunity to enter the giveaway!

Also Reviewed By:
A Bookworm’s World
Diary of an Eccentric
Booking Mama
Book Escape
Reading Adventures

Mailbox Monday #24

Hello! Welcome to another edition of Mailbox Monday, sponsored by Marcia at The Printed Page. Ok, I know it’s Sunday, but I have a tour on Monday, so here you go. . . a day early.

Here’s what I got in my mailbox:

1. Midnight Voices by Deborah Ager, which I ordered from the author who also administers the 32 Poems blog and published 32 Poems.

2. Green Bodies by Rosemary Winslow, which I received from the author for review.

3. Becoming the Villainess by Jeannine Hall Gailey, which I received from the author for review.

Poem #5, PAD Challenge 2009

Today’s poem prompt was to write about a landmark, which could mean Mt. Rushmore or the Sphinx or something as mundane as a local water tower.

Ready for a really rough draft? OK, well you better get ready because here it is:

Asa Waters Mansion, Millbury, Mass.

In a small mill town of less than 1,000 people,
a gunsmith built his home with columns and white.
The large mansion stood atop a hill
in the center of town with wrought iron fence.
Beneath the house run tunnels
deep under the dirt and lawn
dank with musty smells.

Dark and huddled beneath the mansion,
waiting for an escape
along the Blackstone River bank
under cover of night.
There are no railroads here,
though the train has moved on the embankment
winding northward under starlit skies.

Today, next to the local post office
atop the river mount, it still stands.
Proud, pristine, and manicured
and the rail zooms on the opposite bank
between Providence and Worcester,
much more efficient than the canal and barge
and the roaming slaves under cover of night.

What did you write today?

For more information about the challenge, go here.