Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day

"...It is for us, the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
--President Abraham Lincoln, the Gettysburg Address (November, 1863)

150 years later, the words still ring true and still carry a deep meaning to all Americans. Today is Memorial Day, the day to recall our honored dead and celebrate the freedoms we enjoy because of their sacrifices. I'll spend the day relaxing, taking a walk in the sunshine, going to the movies. But each time I see the flag flying outside my front door, the one I put out on national holidays, it'll remind me of why this day is special, why we pause to remember.


Review--The Martian

The MartianThe Martian by Andy Weir
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the kind of science fiction I don't read often enough--people using courage, education, mad science skills and duct tape to save the day.

Mark Watney is the Martian--one of a handful of Earth astronauts to walk on the surface of Mars, and now he's going to be the first human to die there. A freak storm battered him and damaged his telemetry to where his life signs flat-line, and his crewmates (rightly) presume him dead and head back for Earth.

He's not dead. Now Mark has to figure out 1. how to survive 2. how to let NASA know he's survived. Fortunately, Mark is both an engineer and a botanist (each astronaut had to bring expertise in two fields to the flight)and will use his skill set to stay alive, one day longer.

He will also learn to appreciate 70s sitcoms and loathe disco.

I loved the movie Apollo 13 for the same reason I liked this book--if you start with the premise that failure is not an option, then you begin thinking differently and figure out how to fit the square peg into the round hole.

I really enjoyed The Martian, and I'd love to see it get made into a movie.


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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Some general updates

I've been tweaking the website at darlenemarshall.com, and today added "Should I Read Your Books In Order?" on the "About" page. The answer is, "You don't have to, but here's how various books connect."

All my books are now available in NOOK editions. This makes me happy, and I hope Kobo will catch up soon.

The Goodreads Giveaway is still running through May 31. I'm giving away four signed copies of The Pirate's Secret Baby, and it's easy to enter to win.

I've been blogging quite a bit this month. You can read my post on "Bad Girls" at Heroes and Heartbreakers, and on "Bad Boys" at All Romance Cafe.

In addition to all of that, I'm working on book #8, "Mattie's Story". More on the WIP as it develops.

Whew! Busy month. I'm hoping to take some time Sunday to attend the Florida Folk Festival, then it's back to work after Memorial Day.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

"The food's so-so, but the entertainment is amazing!"

I was eating lunch on my back porch, as I do most pleasant days here in North Florida, when two red-tailed hawks began tussling over what appeared to be a squirrel. They dive-bombed each other with a great deal of squawking before perching and glaring at one another. Their lunch seems to have taken it on the lam.

The "chickenhawk" nesting season runs through June, so it's possible these were two dads each competing for lunch for the brood. I'll tell you one thing though--while these raptors sat there having a pissing contest there was a marked absence of songbirds and rodents in the yard. When our diva dachshund was a pup in the range of 5-7 lbs., I'd accompany her out in the back yard and do some glaring myself up at the trees. I had no doubt that from the air she looked like she had a large bull's-eye painted on her back. Fortunately, she outgrew the danger within a few months. I wouldn't mind if the raptors put a dent in the rodent population now that the dog's past her mouser days, but I'd hate to see them scare off the songbirds.


Sunday, May 11, 2014

Review--Saga, Vol. 3

Saga, Volume 3Saga, Volume 3 by Brian K. Vaughan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another winner for Saga, the best graphic novel I've read in years. The story continues as our star-crossed lovers attempt to find safety in a universe conspiring against them. There are lots of lovely little moments, but the one that moved me most is when child sex-slave Sophie is confiding her dreams to Lying Cat (Lying Cat is most amazing side-kick ever, btw).

I can't wait for Saga, Volume 4!


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Monday, May 05, 2014

Two steps forward, one step back

Today was a horrible writing day. I had excellent intentions, but my brain felt like tapioca, and nothing was working. I did get about 1,000 words ahead in Mattie's Story, the WIP that's a follow-up to The Pirate's Secret Baby, but it wasn't nearly as productive as I'd hoped it would be.

Then I went for a walk this afternoon. Somewhere in the daily two mile constitutional, my brain kicked into gear, and suddenly I had an important piece of Mattie's backstory. Of course I had my small notepad and pen with me, so I paused to make notes (which I just put in the computer) and resumed walking.

Now I have a great starting point for tomorrow's work and more importantly, I feel psychologically recharged!



Sunday, May 04, 2014

Review--Dreams of the Golden Age

Dreams of the Golden Age (Golden Age, #2)Dreams of the Golden Age by Carrie Vaughn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this follow-up to After the Golden Age, dealing with the aftermath of Celia's marriage and the breakup of the Olympiad. The book's focus is on her teenage daughter, and the difficulties all teens have figuring out who they are. In Anna's case, this is complicated by her potential superpowers and what that means to her and to her family.

The interweaving of real life, ordinary family situations, and spandex clad supies in capes was thoughtful and well done. I hope there will be more books in this series by Ms. Vaughn.


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Review--In Want of a Wife

In Want of a WifeIn Want of a Wife by Jo Goodman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jo Goodman is on my shortlist of best authors writing western historical romance. Each book of hers that I read convinces me of this, and In Want of A Wife is definitely a keeper.

Morgan Longstreet and Jane Middlebourne are the kind of quiet characters who make a huge impression on a reader. Their love story unfolds in a rational and mature fashion as they get to know one another, despite their unromantic beginnings when Morgan sends for Jane as a mail order bride.

The drama at the end builds beautifully, and the secondary characters (many of whom are familiar from other Goodman westerns) add to the richness of the story.

I'd give this 4.5 stars if Goodreads offered that option.


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Walk your way into a novel

One of the questions I'm asked most often is, "What do you do when you're writing, and you get stuck?"

The answer is simple. I take a walk.

Each day I try to fit a two mile walk into my routine. I don't listen to music or chat on the phone. I do carry a small notepad and pen with me, because the walking helps churn ideas and create new dialogue. Now a new study supports what I've known for years: walking helps keep your creative juices flowing.

We've known for years that walking is good exercise for your body, now we have confirmation that it's good for your mind and your creative soul as well.

So what are you waiting for? Push yourself away from the screen, lace up your shoes and get out there! Who knows? You might have pirates lurking in your unconscious, just waiting for a little creative opportunity to be unleashed from your mind and onto the page.