Thursday, July 16, 2009

And the Winner Is...

Thank you, writers who submitted ideas for the "Writers' Silly Contest. We're a creative bunch, indeed, and I received some very imaginative suggestions, including the following:

  • A slush of writers; Natalie Bray
  • Wordies; Christina Berry, who says, "Similarly to how people who help rockstars on the road are roadies, I believe we should be called wordies." (
  • A ream of writers; Andee Davis.
  • An imagination of writers; Kathi Linz.
  • A fantasy of writers; Kathi Linz.
  • A brainstorm of writers; Grace Bridges.
  • A block of writers; Grace Bridges.
  • A warp core of sci-fi writers; Grace Bridges.
  • A scriptorium of writers; Grace Bridges.
And the winner is.................................................................................

[drum roll, please]


The winner was drawn by Eli, age 4, who cannot read yet.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Book Review: ISLAND OF SAINTS by Andy Andrews

Island of Saints
A Story of the One Principle That Frees the Human Spirit
by Andy Andrews

Published by: Nelson Books, a division of Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee, 2005.

239 pages

"You must read this book."

I took the book from my friend's hand. "Is it fiction or non-fiction?"

He smiled. "Read it and decide."

This is one of the most unusual books I have ever read--and one of the best. Andrews breaks many of the rules that contemporary writers are warned against. Perhaps his most serious infraction is that he head hops; that is, he shifts point of view among the paragraphs within a scene. Such a technique keeps the reader on her toes and occasionally causes her to pause. A writer would have to be very skilled to do this well, and Andrews is quite proficient at his craft. He knows the rules, and he knows how to break them skillfully, intelligently.

It is early summer as I sit at my desk and finally begin the process of sorting what I know to be true from what I merely suspect.

Thus begins the book. The first person narrator is Andrews himself. Does that indicate that the book is non-fiction? It would seem so. But wouldn't it be an interesting twist for the writer to use himself as narrator in a work of fiction? The hook is a good one. My mind began to fill with the questions Andrews intended, questions that would propel me into the meat of the story.

While World War II figures prominently in the story, it is not the central focus. The people are. Each one has his or her own set of challenges.

Helen Mason is emotionally crippled by the untimely death of her husband and her hatred toward Germany. Josef Landermann, a U-Boat sailor, washes up onto the beach and into Helen's life, bringing with him his own set of hatreds and losses. When Helen discovers him bleeding badly from two gunshot wounds and wearing a waterlogged German sailor's uniform, she is torn between walking away, leaving him to die, and helping him to her cabin, which is nearly a mile away. Ruefully, she chooses the latter. At first, she refuses even to dress his infected wounds. But neither does she turn him over to the authorities.

Eventually wounds heal, both physical and emotional. Billy and Margaret Gilbert, proprietors of The Hungry Mullet Cafe where Helen works, know a great truth about life and how it should be lived, a truth that they share with Helen. By Christmas, Helen and Josef are considering marriage. Their lives have settled into a comfortable routine.

One day, as the two leave a store after doing some gift shopping, Josef bumps into Ernst Schneider, the Nazi spy who had tried to murder Josef. He and Helen make it to her truck and out of town, but now Schneider knows that the bullets he fired into Josef's shoulder and leg had not killed him, nor had he drowned when he fell into the Gulf of Mexico from the U-Boat. Schneider determines to finish the job, killing Helen and anyone else who dares to get in his way.

Back to the original question: is it fiction or non-fiction? Read it and decide. Andrews is a master storyteller, indeed.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Book Review: DOG GONE by Eileen Key

Dog Gone
A Feather Duster Mystery
by Eileen Key

Published by: Heartsong Presents (2008), an imprint of Barbour Publishing, Inc.

252 pages

Dog Gone is a fun read on several levels. First, it is not about a 20-something svelte blond. Belle Blevins is a 50-something cleaning lady with a penchant for snooping. When her friend Ginnie's business, Pampered Pooch doggie hotel and spa, is in jeopardy because of a missing dog, Belle gets on the case. Her investigation leads her from the elite world of registered dog shows into the nefarious underworld of dognappers.

This cozy mystery is made all the more cozy when Belle's nephew introduces her to Franklin Jeffries, who, as a member of a kennel club, knows something about expensive show dogs. It doesn't hurt that he is tall, tan, handsome, courteous, single, and about Belle's age.

Getting personal:
Key did a great job of keeping me guessing right up to the reveal. I hated to see the book come to an end because I like Belle. In fact, I'd love to sit down with both Key and Belle over a cup of coffee and chat. Franklin Jeffries, on the other hand, is a wee bit too perfect. I think he might intimidate me a little, at least at first.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Silly Writers' Contest . . .er . . .uh . . .Make That "Writers' Silly Contest"

A group of apes is a shrewdness.
A group of barracudas is a battery.
A group of kittens is a kindle. (Be careful what you ask for this Christmas; you just might get it. Meow!)
A group of owls is a parliament.

Got the idea?

What might one call a group of writers? Please think beyond the obvious. Venture into the ridiculous.

By submitting ideas, you grant me permission to include said ideas in an entry for this blog. Names of contributors will go into the nifty little straw hat that I wear in my profile picture, and one of my precocious grandchildren will draw the winner's name. Submit several different entries and increase your chances of winning. In the case of duplicate suggestions, the first one received will be entered.

What is the prize, you ask. Since I'm pre-published, I can hardly offer you a copy of my latest best-selling novel, but I will send you a package of genuine Ticonderoga No. 2 pencils, and you can write your own. (Rumor has it that more "great American novels" have been written with Dixon's Ticonderogas than with any other pencil, and it gets top billing in Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine.) All entries must be received by midnight 15 July 2009. The winner will be announced right here shortly thereafter. Enter by email, with the subject line of "Silly Contest," or by commenting to this blog entry.