Thursday, February 25, 2010


Dear Muse:

I will not succumb to my desire for brilliance today. If the words do not string together in perfect succession, I will not beat myself up, threaten to throw in the towel, or resort to childish tantrums.

If I do not complete my projected word count, I will not brand myself a failure.

I will not sit by the phone waiting for "the call" or obsessively refresh my e-mail inbox. And I will certainly not be distracted by temptation, or deem February 25 a day for procrastination disguised as research.

I will write without judgement.

I will write with passion.

And I will give myself permission to write crap.

Issues? Take them up with me tomorrow.

The Book In My Bag Today: Ceremony in Death, J.D. Robb

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Pant pant, gasp gasp, woot!

I might as well face it, I'm addicted to Spin.

I'd forgotten how much I once liked it, back when She-Ra was my mentor and my friend and I were in training for a 1,000 km trek across Alberta and British Columbia. (Packing 100 pounds of camp gear in a trailer on one bike, and in the other 75-pound dog, Jynx.)

I can get so caught up in the adrenaline rush of mimicking rolling hills, the climb of a steep hill and the wind brushing my hair back as I spin my way down. An hour cruises by. If I close my eyes, I can even pretend I'm in Hawaii, where Rockstar and I will be doing the stunning Road to Hana on bikes this year. Not scooters. Bicycles.

I'm looking forward to the training almost as much as the actual adventure. Whether it's the perky blond cheerleader, or the less than enthusiastic dude in short shorts guiding the class, I'm hooked. Within minutes I'm sweating, perspiration dripping from me as I sit / stand / hover to the beat of my new favourite rhythm.

I've sung this song before and know it's melody well - it's the beautiful, and addictive, tune of my body getting in shape. I really do love that sound.

And on that note, I'm off to do Body Rock.

The Book In My Bag This Week: Ceremony in Death, J.D. Robb

Monday, February 22, 2010

Patriotic muse

Jon Montgomery makes me proud to be Canadian.

Tears streamed down my face when I watched the gold medal skeleton racer leap to the podium after one of the most exciting event finishes of the 2010 Olympics - at least that I've seen. His enthusiasm was infectious - and so was his Canadian pride.

I've spent a lot of time across the border, honing my skills as a writer and networking with some amazing people in the publishing world. I can get caught up in it, you know, and sometimes dream of living in New York. But then I come home and I'm reminded of what it really means to live in the "true North strong and free."

Jon Montgomery is a patriot, and in all of his interviews, I've felt connected to him, somehow, as though the country has shrunk and he might have been my neighbour at some point. When he talks about Canada and what this gold medal means to him, his sexy eyes twinkle. He's easy-going, confident, friendly, a team player. And an excellent representative for this country. (Not to mention, easy on the eyes.)

His dedication - and patriotism - make him an easy choice for this week's muse, but it is perhaps another characteristic of familiarity, however unorthodoxed, that sealed the deal for me.

One of my critique partners is writing an incredible book featuring a sexy, laid-back, earthy guy by the name of Sebastien. She's an incredible writer, and when she finishes her novel I have no doubt women all over the world are going to tumble head over heels for Sebastien.

Every time Jon Montgomery came on my TV screen or popped up in the visual media, I couldn't shake this powerful feeling of familiarity - until it hit me: Jon Montgomery reminds me of Sebastien. The physical details aren't quite right, but even my crit partner admits his mannerisms are "spot on."

So as tribute to a hero - for this country and my crit partner's book - I'm thrilled to cast Jon Montgomery in this week's role of muse. Almost as excited as I am for my next crit meeting.

The Book In My Bag Today: Ceremony In Death, J.D. Robb

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Book 15 - Ash

Ash is not your typical fairy tale - though at first blush, you'd assume so.

Instead, Malinda Lo has taken a page from Anne Rice's book and turned a classic fairy tale into something...unique. But for young adults, so if you assumed I meant something akin to Rice's erotic version of Sleeping Beauty, your pulse can return to normal.

Ash is similar in structure to Cinderella - the evil stepmother and her two spoiled daughters, Ash (Aisling) forced to tend to their every whim, the Prince's hunt for a bride, the great ball... But there is no glass slipper or fairy godmother, per say. There is Sidean, and a huntress, and both have interesting - and complex - roles in Ash's life.

Though I finished Ash is almost one sitting, I'm weirdly undecided about whether I actually liked the book. The writing in some places is beautiful and poetic - and ironically, similar in style to Anne Rice. I often call my friend Rocky the "King of Metaphors." Malinda Lo could be crowned the queen. Many of the descriptions allowed the images to pop from the page and I enjoyed the wordplay. Lo can write, that's for sure.

I wanted to love Sidean - but so few words were devoted to him that other than a first introduction to his beauty (which was oddly reminiscent of an Avatar character), I didn't have an opportunity to really get to know him. Similarly with Kaisha, the huntress. My sympathy for Ash was not a result of Lo's character development, but rather the similarities between her and Cinderella.

At the end of each chapter, I told myself to stop reading - but something would compel me to turn the page. I'd begin each scene with hope - something must happen, right? - but felt disappointed in almost every instance, particularly at the end, which left me unsatisfied.

There's so many great young adult books out there that I wanted this to be one of them. The cover sparked my interest, the write-up drew me in - but the author lost me after the few pages and it was a concerted struggle to make it to the finish. Aside from my promise to complete every book I start this year, part of me pushed onward with the hope of a larger-than-life, redeeming finale.

No such luck.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Book 14 - Evil at Heart

I've officially entered a mourning period.

No, really. It seems silly when I think about it, but when I turned the last page of Chelsea Cain's third in the Gretchen Lowell serial-killer series, Evil at Heart, I couldn't stop the pang of emptiness that filled my chest. Yikes - a bit dramatic there, huh?

It isn't that I'll never see Gretchen again. As Karen pointed out, Gretchen is Cain's "money maker" and though the other characters have important and compelling roles, the star of the show is Gretchen. I'm confident she'll be recast in Cain's next book - though I'm not sure when I can expect its release.

Maybe that's the issue. Because whenever it is, isn't soon enough.

I'm not alone in my obsession, as Evil at Heart can attest. Several people in the book are wearing the very same "Run Gretchen" t-shirt I'm begging my handsome husband to buy for me, and, gasp, some of them are sipping their daily java from the I'd kill for a cup of coffee mug I think every thriller writer should own.

But at least I haven't started my own Gretchen fan site (aside from several blog posts about a fictional serial killer) - and in Evil at Heart, there are more than four hundred web links devoted to an unhealthy adoration of one of fiction's creepiest - and most beautiful - killers. These sites, naturally, inspire some copycat killings and lure (still) tortured cop Archie Sheridan from the loony bin and back into the field. He's accompanied, of course, by Susan, whose hair is now purple. It must be her colour of power because she's less passive in this book, and Cain's Nancy Drew influences are seeping through.

I can't divulge much of the plot - I wouldn't want to ruin your experience. But in essence, Cain makes a powerful statement about pop culture and society's obsession with celebrities, even those who should not be celebrities. Making stars out of criminals isn't new - I have several movies on my DVD shelf excusing a variety of illegal behaviour - but Cain makes it seem new. Gretchen's face is on billboard posters, on bus advertisements, on TV commercials for the next episode of America's Sexiest Serial Killers (is that a real show?) - it's no wonder Archie can't get her out of his heart, and why the world seems smitten by the Beauty Killer.

As with Heartsick and Sweetheart, there is an apt amount of blood and gore throughout the novel, and some truly amazing parts near the end. Cain has a knack for horror. The subplot is strong, particularly since the "other" murders are executed with Gretche-esque flair. There are the trademark twists that never cease to amaze me, and the beautifully constructed sentences that make me weep with envy. The ending is crisp. The emotions are brilliantly evoked. In short, it's spectacular.

The whole series is incredible.

And now it's over. Finished. Kaput.

For only Cain knows how long. Sigh.

I'm struggling with what to read next. I know that Cain is not the only writer in the world to inspire such literary passion, but after reading all three of her books so close together, I'm trying to decide whether to switch genres altogether or stick with thriller - especially since I've absorbed so much about thriller writing craft just from reading about Gretchen. (My Mario seems like such a pansy by comparison...)

To say Cain's novels are perfectly written would be a lie - what book is? But to suggest they are written with brilliance simply isn't saying enough.

So, RUN Gretchen. As fast as you can.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Feeding the muse

As I gear up for my critique group meeting tonight with my two amazing critique partners, I'm feeling a tad guilty about my lack of productivity as of late. The pages I'm diligently sending each week are not fresh pieces from either of my series' in progress, but rather the revised and edited chapters from a middle grade book I wrote years ago.

In fact, other than this blog, I've done no actual writing for quite some time.

The truth is, the final push on Absolution left me a little burnt out and it seemed easier to block out the voices than to listen to them whine. So, instead of churning out those obligatory daily word-counts, I've been feeding my muse - which has provided inspiration and, perhaps predictably, new-found desire to write.

So what does a muse eat? I'm not sure about yours, but the following diet seems to satisfy mine, no matter what avatar face he's wearing this week.

1. Reading. Not just any books, though. Books written by authors who make me go "I want to write like that!" Or better still, books that make me fall in love with characters - do I need to remind you of my Gretchen Lowell obsession? (Uh, Karen, did you drop that little "Run Gretchen" t-shirt hint to my hubby?) My current favourite author is Chelsea Cain and when I'm not cursing her talent, I'm ordering my muse to eat up that talent. Rawr.

2. Exercising. I admit I've gone a tad loco in this regard. Between spin classes, aquasize adventures, and strength training with Karen, and boxing and racquetball with Sue, I've also been doing Body Rock, that crazy program I blogged about the other day. It's an exhausting schedule, but unlike when I worked out at Curves, I have energy. Lots of energy. Enough to share with my muse - which fuels creativity, inspiration and productivity. Woot!

3. Family time. Apparently my muse does not always want to be alone. Me either. Writing can be a solitary activity, but there are times, like now, I'm not content to hide in my dungeon (even though my husband built me a very nice dungeon). We had an excellent Valentine's Day - swimming, heart-shaped pizza, ice cream cake, movies. My muse liked that. Me too. We might have to try that more often, sans the ice cream cake though.

4. Jack Bauer and the Winchester Boys. Ahem. Okay, maybe the eye candy is for my benefit, but in truth, I consider both shows (24 and Supernatural in case you have no idea (gasp) of the aforementioned Adonis'...ah, men) to be well scripted and inspirational. My muse appreciates the sudden plot twists and character development. I appreciate...oh yeah, you already know that.

5. Diet Coke / Coke Zero. Without the whiskey, yes. Old habits die hard. Besides, my muse likes it. Sorry Sue.

6. Music. Stephanie Myers was on to something when she found the band Muse (pictured above) for inspiration. I'm kind of partial to Adam Lambert these days, but when the muse isn't in the mood to dance, or sing, Muse is excellent for background noise.

7. Plotting. I know, right? Last month, heck, even last week sometime, I would never have admitted to this, but creating an outline for my book has provided my muse with a "loose" roadmap. I've been researching key plot points, writing description lists, and developing characters - and my muse is just gobbling all of that up. So much so, he's almost full.

And wouldn't you know, with his inspirational hunger now satisfied, my muse is starting to stir again. Actually, with all this new creative energy, he can barely sit still. Which means, sigh, I should be back on writing track any day now. I'm excited to start scratching that itch.

Are you taking care of your muse?

The Book In My Bag Today: Evil at Heart, Chelsea Cain

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Just this side of creepy

Did you know that if a crow - yes, the bird - doesn't trust you, it won't forget your face?

Am I the only one creeped out by that?

According to recent studies, as published in New Scientist magazine, January 2010, wild crows can recognize individual human faces and hold a grudge for YEARS against people who have first treated them badly.

And to think, my Mom used to tease me for naming the crow my favourite bird! At least I know there won't be any bird attacks in my near future.

The Book In My Bag Today: Evil at Heart, Chelsea Cain

Monday, February 15, 2010

Book 13 - Sweetheart

Gretchen escapes. Nuff said.

Okay, not enough said. Not nearly enough.

In Heartsick, the book where I first met serial murderess Gretchen Lowell, and if I'm to be honest with myself began my obsession with Gretchen Lowell, Chelsea Cain introduces a creepy relationship between a tortured cop and a beautiful killer. In that book, Gretchen is behind bars, their banter reminiscent of Starling/Lecter in Silence of the Lambs.

In Sweetheart, Gretchen's out.

Oh. My. God.

If Chelsea Cain were teaching a writing course on character development, I'd move mountains to get to it. I assumed that with Gretchen "out there" killing people, doing her thing, I'd move from loving her to being disgusted. Not the case. My obsession with her has only deepened. That's testament to Cain's skill.

As with Heartsick, Gretchen and Archie's codependency is only one thread of a complex story line and it is also the most compelling. But Cain also gives more depth to the supporting cast of investigative reporter Susan, her unique mother Bliss, Archie's ex-wife Debbie, and fellow cop Henry. Since Gretchen isn't interested in any of them, it would be tempting to ignore them as well - if not for the smooth infusion of each of their crisis points into the overall plot.

To divulge more of the story would spoil the book and I offer the usual disclaimer: there's swearing and there's sex, there's gore and torture. And there's Gretchen. Sweetheart is not for the faint of heart.

Cain has fast become one of my favourite authors, and Sweetheart now ranks among my top books. I have no doubt I'll be reading it again and again, not just because I'm obsessed with Gretchen, but also to study how Cain creates amazing characters and has an awe-inspiring ability to draw out emotions I shouldn't have.

But first, I need to read Evil at Heart, the last (for now) installment of Gretchen and Archie's tragic love story.

PS - Sorry for the lack of "hot muse Monday" but if I could have found a picture of a woman I though would do Gretchen justice, I might have used her as my muse avatar. Instead, I've asked last week's muse to start channeling Chelsea Cain's talent.

The Book In My Bag Today: Evil at Heart, Chelsea Cain

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Book 12 - Deeper Than the Dead

First, a disclaimer. I love Tami Hoag. My Mom introduced me to her years ago and I've read every book she's written, always satisfied.

Unfortunately, Deeper than the Dead didn't quite do it for me.

The concept was cool. As the author note explains in the first couple of pages, the book is set in history - 1985. I'm an 80s kid, so the references to pop culture were a welcome addition to the story line. Also interesting, was the lack of forensic technology, forcing the characters to solve the crime with old fashioned police work.

Maybe that's why parts of the novel seemed to drag on. In today's world, we're used to gadgets and gizmos that help the police understand the crime scene faster, often resulting in a more efficient resolution. DNA technology, fingerprint databases and a whole host of other CSI-style tools were not yet fully developed in 1985 - which slowed the police work, and the pacing, considerably. Hoag did do a great job of infusing some of that technological gap into the story, though.

My primary issue has to do with character development - and in this book, there are many people to keep track of. Four kids, one with evil tendencies, a teacher, an FBI agent, a rogue cop, several parents, each with their own oddities and motives, a few missing women, and a sidekick for the protagonist. Several of these characters had point of view scenes (more than 6) and I found myself getting lost and never actually connecting with any of them. In particular, the youth point of view scenes seemed unrealistic, especially for the mid 80s.

The romance thread was also weak, and in my opinion, not believable. The relationship between Anne and Vince developed quickly and because the author had to tend to so many points of view, I never had an opportunity to feel their love blossom, let alone grow into what it ends up being.

Maybe I've been spoiled by Gretchen Lowell (the incredible serial killer in Chelsea Cain's book, HeartSick) but as far as serial killers go, the See-No-Evil murderer didn't get my heart racing. He was also a bit predictable - as was much of the plot. I had a good idea of the killer's identity early in the book, despite a whole rash of red herrings. And many of those sub plots were never actually resolved, which kind of ticked me off.

For the most part, Deeper than the Dead is a smooth read. Hoag can write, to which a list of #1 New York Times bestselling titles can attest, but there were some point of view violations that pulled me right out of the story, and the novel's climax wasn't nearly climactic enough. I raced through the final pages, mostly because I just wanted to finish the book and move on to something new.

Like Sweet Heart, the second book in Chelsea Cain's series about Gretchen.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Huh...who would have thought?

Plotting is fun!

Not just brainstorming and writing it down, but actually sharing ideas with like-minded peeps who genuinely want you to put your best foot forward. No ulterior motives. No expectations. No spaz outs when an idea is rejected.

No strings attached.

Huh. I love it.

I've never considered myself a plotter. I fantasized about my characters leading the way, getting themselves into their own predicaments and saving themselves with just the slightest polishing touch of penmanship from me - author intrusion is a bad thing, no? In fact, despite several successful novelists steering me towards the "plot" vs "freeflow" method, I'd resisted its charm.

Perhaps because it never had any (charm that is) - until recently.

I think it's about the peeps. And wow, am I surrounded by some excellent ones. Not only have my writerly friends allowed me to spread my plotting wings, but they've jumped on for the full ride - filling my brain with endless, fabulous possibilities.

I'm having a blast.

And there's stationary. Lots and lots of stationary. Pens and highlighters, index cards, journals filled with research notes, pencils and erasers and paperclips...oh my!

I'm resisting the urge to plunge into the actual narrative just yet. The ideas are flowing and there's a few minor logistical details to iron out, but the scenes are (almost) writing themselves and the research to support and flush them out is falling into place.

Is this what I've been missing? Will plotting divert the evil writer's block at the 100 page mark? Or will this roadmap steer my muse off course?

Too early to tell - but it's been one heck of a fun ride so far.

PS - Hey Rockstar, recognize the road in this image? Just a few months away, my friend...

The Book In My Bag Today: Deeper than the Dead, Tami Hoag

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


I'm cursing Meaghan right now. It's probable I'll continue cursing her for the rest of the day and for the better part of tomorrow.

I read her blog, because in addition to a long list of talents, Meaghan can write. She has an uncanny way of laying things on the line - about babies, nutrition, striving for personal achievement, giving back to the community...about life.

She also has an incredible physique - yes, even after giving birth to freaking adorable twins. So, when the former Crush girl (ahem, cheerleader for the Edmonton Rush lacrosse team) posted a blog about Body Rock, I couldn't help but follow the link. (You just did, too, didn't you?)

And now I'm hurting.


I've worked out with my own personal She-Ra before. Tara the Terrific helped me shed many unwanted pounds before my friend and I set off on our 1,000 kilometer bike trek. She made me work hard, to the point where I frequently threw up. Even that did not prepare me for THIS.

The name kind of says it all, doesn't it?

Thanks Meaghan.

PS - In case there's any confusion, those are NOT my abs.

The Book In My Bag Today: Deeper than the Dead, Tami Hoag

Monday, February 8, 2010

Superbowl aMUSEment

I love underdogs.

Almost as much as I love football. Being a Canadian and all, I'm partial to the CFL (Go Ti-Cats!) but the Superbowl has always been a big part of my growing up. My Mom - a Redskins AND a Bears fan - used to say she could tell which team was going to win based on how fired up they came out of the shoot.

I always placed my bet on the underdog - except if the Dolphins were playing. Marino and I had an "understanding."

Admittedly, I didn't think the New Orleans Saints were going to win the Superbowl last night. They were clearly the underdogs, and after the first quarter, the Colts appeared to have a firm grasp on the trophy.

But in the end, it comes down to who wants it more. The Saints were hungrier. They weren't afraid to take risks (what a way to start off the second half of the game), and as the clock wound down, Drew Brees stepped up to the plate and led his team to victory.

Fiction is often all about the underdog. We're taught to create sympathetic characters and to allow, in most cases, good to triumph over evil, and to create a "happily ever after." After beating the obstacles, the protagonist will almost always get the girl, the trophy, the promotion...the "end."

With Brees' performance last night (woot for the underdog), I'm excited to sign him up for this week's muse duty. When it mattered, he led his team to a climactic, entertaining and perfect conclusion. I have little doubt he'll lead some of my works in progress to their own happily ever after.

The Book In My Bag Today: Deeper than the Dead, Tami Hoag

Friday, February 5, 2010

Book 11 - Heart Sick

I have an unhealthy obsession with Gretchen Lowell.

She's a serial killer, and a few nights ago, she led a class for me and a couple of my friends on how to follow in her footsteps. Kind of like Serial Killing 101.

As vivid as that dream was, my obsession is quite real. Which is testament to the powerful writing of Chelsea Cain. Heart Sick is not polished in the traditional sense. The author flips from past to present tense, often slips out of point of view, and leaves some loose ends. But maybe that's part of her brilliance.

Cain's style is raw and gritty and somehow real. So real, in fact, I have deep sympathy for Archie Sheridan - Heart Sick's tortured cop - and am thinking about dying my hair pink. It seems to work for the book's unassuming heroine, Susan.

To say Heart Sick "affected" me would be a gross understatement.

When we meet Archie Sheridan, he is already tortured. He is the "last victim" of serial killer Gretchen Lowell, a beautiful and manipulative woman whose list of victims is 200 innocent long. Instead of killing Archie, she kidnaps and tortures him - and at one point carves a heart into his torso, a permanent imprint of her power over him. And then, after killing Archie, she brings him back to life and turns herself in.

That's where this story begins - with Gretchen in jail, Archie popping pills to survive, and a new serial killer on the loose. Added to the mix is Susan, a quirky journalist tasked with profiling the tortured cop. She comes to him with pink hair and a lot of baggage - and to say much more would spoil it for you.

By far, the most compelling - and ingenious - parts of this book are the conversations between Gretchen and Archie, both while he flashes back to captivity, or during his weekly Sunday visits to her prison cell in Hannibal / Clarice style. Heart Sick isn't as well done as Silence of the Lambs, of course, but what book ever could be? Still, Gretchen is a formidable antagonist - beautiful, intelligent, perfectly poised, ruthless...and somehow, I'm in love with her.

Heart Sick is peppered with gruesome descriptions of death and torture, enough to make even my BF Karen grin. Except it wasn't the "gore" that disturbed me, or even the predictability of the plot, but rather Cain's ability to get under my skin. In the final scenes between Gretchen and Archie, my skin scrawled with disgust, but also awe. Few books have left me with such a lasting impression.

Cain keeps Gretchen's back story close to her chest, ensuring I'll buy the next book in this series, Sweetheart. The tag line for it is: Gretchen escapes. Nuff said. Yep, I'm "running" to the book store tonight to buy it.

Right after I place my order on Cain's website for my "I'd kill for a cup of coffee" mug and a blood red "Run Gretchen" t-shirt.

The Book In My Bag Today: Deeper Than The Dead, Tami Hoag

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Spoken word artist left me speechless

Throughout my career, I've had the honor of interviewing a wide range of interesting and compelling people. But every once in a while, I stumble across someone who leaves me speechless.

Such was the case with Canadian spoken word poet Moe Clark. Though she lives in Montreal, Moe made a trip to Edmonton this past weekend to offer inspiration to 40 young writers at WordsWorth 2010. The kids, all talented writers in their own right, had spent an entire day learning tricks of the trade from authors Margaret Macpherson and Katherine Holubisky. But from the moment Moe breezed through the door, they were swept up in her whirlwind of beauty, inspiration and mesmerizing talent.

They weren't the only ones.

Until this weekend, I was a spoken word virgin. The technology alone - have you ever seen a looping pedal? - amazed me, but more than that was the energy Moe brought to the stage. With a smile that electrified the room, Moe explained the tools of her trade, her rise to recording artist status, the source of her inspiration, and perhaps most importantly, what it really means to be an artist.

Doing what she loves means a considerable amount to Moe. She's toured the globe with her beautiful voice and ethereal beauty, and recently released her first album. This CD has now replaced Adam Lambert in my vehicle. This year, a book of her poems will be published and I have no question I'll be one of the first in line to snag it. Her voice - both written and oral - has given me another reason to reflect on the beauty of literacy.

I could, I suspect, go on at nauseam, about her talent but without actually witnessing her energy, I can't possibly string together the words to convey how her performance, no, her very presence left me utterly speechless.

The Book In My Bag Today: Heart Sick, Chelsea Cain

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Book 10 - Smash Cut

Those familiar with the film industry will know that a smash cut is a technique in film and other visual media where one scene abruptly cuts to another without transition, usually meant to startle the audience. (Thanks Wikipedia)

It's also the title of another amazing book by Sandra Brown.

I love Sandra - I've read just about everything she's written, including the straight romances that launched her career. Even then she demonstrated she was a cut above the rest. While many of her peers succumbed to "safe" and formulaic romance genre style, Sandra created characters that were edgier and sexier, and the plots far from run of the mill.

With Smash Cut, the latest bestselling title in a long list of romantic suspense greats, Sandra has once again cemented in my mind why I can't get enough of her stories. She never lets me down.

Creighton Wheeler, the novel's antagonist, is remarkable. Seemingly with the world at his fingertips, this rich boy has a dark side and his actions and dialogue are straight...well, straight from a movie. I loved trying to identify from which movie Creighton quoted as his mastermind "horror" plot played out in the book. The technique, meant to demonstrate a particular character trait, could have been overdone, but Sandra is a master storyteller and Smash Cut is peppered with just the right amount of well-placed film references.

As usual with Sandra's writing, the protagonist, is a strong-willed, determined and beautiful woman. In the first scene, Julie watches a man she loves gunned down by a masked robber, and then is subsequently terrorized, accused of murder, and almost killed. But she's far from a wallflower. She boldly enlists the "help" of Derek, and their chemistry is as graphic as a beautifully directed motion picture. By the end of the book, I wanted to invite them over for dinner.

Smash Cut had me at hello (grin) and took me on a roller coaster journey ending in not one, but two, beautiful twists. And like always, I am saddened my Sandra Brown adventure has come to a close.

Smash Cut not only provided a great read, the book also reinforced why Sandra Brown remains my idol.

The Book In My Bag Today: Heart Sick, Chelsea Cain

Monday, February 1, 2010

Bending it like Beckham

Many women I know have long ago gotten off the David Beckham bandwagon. In a recent Internet poll of the Top 10 sexiest sports stars, Becks has slid almost to the bottom of the "hot" scale.

I spent a good portion of my Monday morning looking through his competition. Meh. Becks is still number one as far as I'm concerned, though some recent pictures of Cristiano Ronaldo could have swayed me if I hadn't stumbled across David in his tightie whities.

Ahem. Distractions all around. Just like last week. And the week before that. And pretty much all of January.

So, I celebrate the beginning of a new month (woot, February!) with a new muse avatar, who is almost guaranteed to get me back on track. After all, he isn't just another pretty face.

David's pure athleticism requires the kind of focus and discipline any professional might admire. And his dedication to training is something I should really aspire to achieve. When he isn't playing, he's practicing - nobody ever became a better athlete by being told how good they, or something like that.

But perhaps the second - uh - biggest reason I've chosen Beckham for this week's muse avatar is credit to his competitive nature. It's a dog-eat-dog world out there, folks. I'm all about playing fair, but when the gauntlet of challenge is thrown down (and after my critique partners pick me off off the floor), I know when it's time to pull up my sports socks and bend it like Beckham.

Okay David, let's play ball.

The Book In My Bag Today: Smash Cut, Sandra Brown