I'm the first to admit that I'm really really bad when it comes to passing on awards. One of the reasons for this is that, other than Musical Stories on Fridays, I only post once a week and something always seems to come up when I'm planning an award post. This is partly why I'm planning to post an extra day a week. I probably won't start doing this until December because of NaNo, but I've got so much great stuff that I find, and want to share, that it's something I need to do.
That was all a long-winded introduction to tell you about a really special award that I received a while ago. Julie at rosewood pencil box gave me an award that she and J at Concrete Pieces of Soul had designed. (Well technically J's talented fiancé designed it, but you know what I mean). They've named the award 'The thumbs up from Skunk award' since “we all feel like stinky, stinky skunks some days” and there are people who “make us feel (and smell) a lot better”. I don't know about the smelling part, but there are definitely people who make me feel better :-)
Thank you so much to Julie, and I'll let her explain the award:
Since the Random-Things-About-Yourself trope is getting a little tired, J and I decided to make this award different. Of course, still thank and link back to the person who gave it to you. Thumbs Up from Skunk is about confidence, believing in yourself, so we think it'd be great for you to list one Thing About Yourself That Pleases You, one thing you LOVE. It could be anything, from your writing, to a good meal you had, a conversation with a witty cut-up... something good. To get the ball rolling, J and I are passing the award onto five people a piece, but you can give it to as many or as few as you like. You can even hold onto it, if you'd rather, until a particularly uplifting something occurs, and then pass it on accordingly. Or, as J says in her post, “until someone comes along and changes your universe.” I love that.
Okay, something about myself that pleases me? Fifteen days ago (not that I'm counting!), I started a diet, and I have stuck to a sensible eating plan instead of some get-skinny-quick crash diet. There's a long way to go, and it's not something I'm going to bore you all with by blogging about (although I might, occasionally), but right now, it's something I'm proud of.
Now for the hard bit. Obviously, there are so many people I would like to pass this on to, so I decided to pass it on to people who either inspire me, or make me feel good, without knowing that they do so. Feel free not to display it or pass it on if you choose not to, (at least one of these people doesn't display awards), I just wanted you to know that you make a difference. I managed to narrow the list to six, so in no particular order:
E. R. King at Get Busy Writing and
Vic Caswell at hairnets and hopes
Emily and Vic, thank you for being my friends. Your emails cheer me up, and you both have the ability to make me laugh even when you don't know that's exactly what I need :-)
Margot Kinberg at Confessions of a Mystery Novelist
Margot, you write a fabulous crime fiction blog and I've expanded my knowledge of this genre so much since I've been reading it. More than that though, you are kind and patient and you never mind when I make stupid comments. Your kind emails have stayed with me, thank you.
Denise at L'Aussie Writing
For making me feel that you believe in me, and for having faith that one day I might be able to write a decent romantic scene :-)
Michelle at Hot Pink Combat Boots
For your sense of humour and fun blog, (the name of which suits you perfectly), in the face of constant moves and a difficult job. I admire the way that you get on and do things that others only think about.
Brooke Busse at Paper Mountain
Because every piece of flash fiction you write makes me want to know more about the characters. I think you are incredibly talented and I cannot wait for the day I can buy something published by you. Your writing inspires me.
You six, you inspire me, and make me feel good. So now you know :-)
I apologise for the weird spacing, font size and everything else. I've typed this post three times. Blogger hates me.
I know I'm a day late with this week's Musical Stories, but I wanted to give you all a chance to enjoy my awesome selections for the Pay It Forward blogfest. That's my story anyway! Talking of the blogfest, welcome to all my new readers and visitors that have found their way here. I'm well and truly over the two hundred readers mark now, so thank you!
This week is Chick Lit and I'm going to start with one that I was in two minds about posting. It has a very definite story line with a woman protagonist but I wonder how many of you would be able to warm to an MC like this. I think she could be made into a sympathetic character, but it might take some skill. This is one of those times when the plot triumphs over the characters, I think!
I had a hard time at school, and a wise person once told me that I should think kindly of those Queen Bees giving me grief, because their popularity at school was the best things were ever going to be for them. I didn't understand then, but the second song explains it perfectly.
My final song of the week epitomises our strong chick lit heroine. It also demonstrates that a happy ending can take more than the obvious form!
Don't worry if this is all a bit too girlie for you, next week's genre is War :-)
If you're looking for this week's Musical Stories, they'll be up later. For now, I wanted to take part in the Pay It Forward Blogfest that Alex Cavanaugh, and Matt from the Quintessentially Questionable Query Experiment have devised. The idea is that we each choose three blogs to introduce you to, blogs that we love, and if you don't already know them, feel free to check them out.
Once you've done that, Click on Matt or Alex's list above for a full list of blogs taking part if you fancy finding plenty more great new blogs.
If you're taking part in this, then you'll know how hard it is to pick just three. I've finally managed, and I hope you love them.
Linda G at Visiting Reality is funny and smart and has plenty of sass. Also, every week on hump day there are camels. How can you resist?
Michael Offutt from SLC Kismet is a man with opinions, which he's more than happy to share. I don't always agree with him, but he often makes me think. Plus, he has excellent taste in TV programmes :-)
Roland Yeomans of Writing in the Crosshairs writes the most beautiful prose, and has a wonderful imagination. On top of that, he's kind and supportive and will reach out a helping hand to anyone in the blogosphere who needs it.
So there you go, three out of hundreds. Please go and say hello if you get the chance.
I'm absolutely thrilled today to be bringing you an interview with Elliot Grace of So close, but ... This is the fourth stop on Elliot's tour for his wonderful book South of Charm.
This is an excerpt, courtesy of Goodreads:
We're huddled in the far corner of my bedroom. Arms wrapped around our knees in the dark. The approaching footsteps grow louder. Ominous thuds. Our mother, but somehow not. She's standing outside my door. We listen to the creak of the hinges. My sister clenches my arm. "She's coming," she whispers. "She's broken."
You can buy the book from Amazon UK Kindle edition
Now let's see what Elliot has to say.
Describe South of Charm in your own words
While South of Charm doesn't really fit into the general selection of genres available, (something I'm actually proud to admit), I liken it to a coming of age story in the mold of King's Stand By Me, or McCammon's A Boy's Life. This is a story of small town innocence, of the drama surrounding a young boy and his sister, fallen victim to personal tragedy, and of a certain magic that only happens in neighborhoods where last names aren't necessary, and front doors are left unlocked after hours.
From starting to write, to getting published, how long did the process take?
I began South of Charm while laid off from my day job at that time, then continued on after being called back to work, for fear of losing the “groove” as my wife likes to call it. It took me three years to complete a manuscript worthy of speaking of. After signing with Wooster Books, revisions, rewrites, and final edits burned up another eighteen months, followed by six months of waiting. Needless to say, in this biz, patience is an absolute virtue.
Why was this the story you had to tell? It can't have been an easy one.
While I've played around with other story ideas, this was the one with the strongest character drama, the one I felt carried the best message of hope. This was the story that made my wife cry, which was most convincing of all.
Which character was the hardest to write?
Danny's mother proved the most difficult simply because her character demanded the most attention to detail. It took several re-rewrites to figure out her illness, her thought processes as her family crumbled around her. She's been the most challenging character I've dealt with to date.
Were there any favourite parts to write?
Growing up surrounded in athletic ventures, and now as a youth ball coach, penning the baseball scenes were a blast to write. I've since begun work on several new projects involving sports related themes, and enjoying every minute of it ;)
What, if any, advice would you give Danny?
What a great question! To be quite honest, following the end of Danny's struggles, and the respect demanded of him upon the final decision he makes, I think perhaps it would be me going to him for advice, as opposed to the other way around.
Being a regular reader to Elliot's blog, I expected this book to be well written and I expected it to tell a great story. I also expected it to be a cute MG book that would while away a few undemanding hours. You know what they say, two out of three ain't bad. This is not an easy book, but it is a rewarding one, and the characters will stay with you long after you've read the last page. I thoroughly recommend it. I also recommend this wonderful review from Anne Gallagher at Piedmont Writer.
Elliot's also holding a contest with some great prizes. Go here to find out how to enter and what you can win. The details are below his tour itinerary.
Thank you so much to Elliot for allowing me to share the fun of his book tour, and also for being my first ever