Sunday, January 29, 2012

Book Preview from Newsweek

The Daily Beast gives this preview called "12 Titles for 2012."

Just as an FYI to some of the more voracious readers out there.

(Personally, while I love to read, I'm a slow reader. I know, I know,--how can you be a slow reader if you're a writer? Maybe it's a touch of ADHD, but when I get into a passage, it's too easy to forget what came before it. And for the record, I'm also a horrible Scrabble player. While my old journalism school buddy, K, is coming up with words like "loquacious" and "ineptitude," I 'm hitting the boards with words like "cat," "it" and "butts.")

Here's the link:
Book Preview: 12 for 2012

Friday, January 20, 2012

Ten Thousand New Year's Eves will be FREE this Sunday

Because Amazon has this way cool KDP promotional tool, my novel, Ten Thousand New Year's Eves, will be FREE this Sunday, January 22.

You can find out more about the novel by clicking on the yellow book cover on the left.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The wonder of black and white photography

I love black and white portraits.
I've been tempted to go back into my files and pull up some old photos I did way back when in Journalism School.

SIDEBAR:  Believe it or not, my concentration was in photojournalism, not in writing. I had already completed two writing internships, and figured it was time to try something new. It was an unbelievable amount of work, but I've never regretted the decision....even if black and white darkroom skills are become obsolete for all but the most artsy endeavors, it is still a useful skill to have. Kind of like researching in the old card catalogues in the library and pulling up microfilm. A pain? Sure. Do I love Google? If Google were a man, I 'd marry it. But still, "grunt" research work is always a good skill to have. Always.

Anyway, I came across these great portraits on Time magazine. I love the black and white work, and I love the portraits. There's a gritty, unrehearsed realness to black and white photography.

My favorite portraits in the works are those of George Clooney and Tilda Swinton. (or is it Swanton?)
Anyway, enjoy!

Coming of Age in America: Portraits

Time's Best Portraits of the Past Year

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The first digital camera I ever saw...

I am definitely dating myself by doing this---but the first digital camera I ever saw was when I was in journalism school in the early 90s. It was a bulky contraption that actually took a 3.5 floppy disk (remember those? We were so fascinated with them because they were "hard" and so much smaller than those even older TRULY floppy disks that were like a small 45 rpm record...but I digress...)

The camera actually recorded the image on the disk. Then you could eject the disk in a similar way to the Macs at that time.

And it cost roughly $3,000 to $5,000.

Our professor said that newspapers everywhere would be turning toward digital cameras. That soon film would be obsolete. That we would no longer have to work in the black-and-white darkroom, our hands covered in chemicals (that I later wonder did God-only-knows-what to us), struggling to get the perfect contrast and "fix" the photo print before deadline.

And doing color in a darkroom? Forget that. Temperature of chemicals could easily cause the picture to tint red or yellow, and while spending too much time in a poorly ventilated darkroom is never a good idea (Disclaimer: our darkroom was well-ventilated at the journalism school, but one at an internship I had one summer was NOT), the worst that could happen for black and white development was maybe a bit of nausea, a feeling like you'd been on a bad carousel. But chemicals in color development were more corrosive.  Burning stuff. That's why the drug stores had a machine that regulated all the developing chemicals' temperature, etc.

Digital cameras? I remember thinking, that'll never happen. Like a newspaper (or even myself, for that matter) is ever going to pay $5k for a camera. Come on.

I think my last digital camera cost $40.

Anyway, this is a cool article that talks about the demise of film, the need for innovation, and the first huge, honking digital camera ever invented...and it also asks the question: can we be victims of our own innovation?
The First Digital Camera

Monday, January 9, 2012

So... is this the most relaxing song of all time?

According to an article in Time Magazine (and the UK Daily Mail it is).
Time actually said the song lowered the heart rate and reduced stress by 60 percent. It may even be the sleeping pill of the future.

The artists: Marconi Union, a UK band.
The song: "Weightless."

Judge for yourself:

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

And the winner is...

...drumroll....of course, you'll have to watch the video.
Special thanks to I Am a Reader, Not a Writer and Bab's Book Bistro.

Enjoy, and thanks for coming by. I hope you have a wonderfully carpe diem 2012.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Last Day on Blog Hop: Testing My Video Camera-- PLUS funny stuff you might have missed

This is only a test...
I just wanted to be sure my video came through okay on this BEFORE I actually tried to do a video drawing. Don't worry, I don't charge extra for the Eastern North Carolina accent.

It's not too late to place a comment for a FREE copy of my latest novel: "Ten Thousand New Year's Eves."
Details, and other cool linky links are here--- special thanks to "I am a Reader, Not a Writer" and "Bab's Book Bistro" (seriously, I love that name) for sponsoring this. Links to all the details, free drawing, yada, yada, yada, is here.

Also, some time this month (possibly the 14th, but we'll see how it goes) I'm going to have a special promo for another book of mine for FREE on Kindle. I know, it's a sneaky way to get you to follow my blog, but as I mentioned earlier, I really am THAT insecure :)

I thought newcomers to this blog may want to review some of the posts I got the most comments on:
1-- Aussie August--a series of guest posts by my friend, an Australian poet. He tells us the TRUTH about koalas. Be sure to look at all of his posts for August, as I had to double check to be sure I knew what "knickers" were.

2-- Reasons I'm glad I'm single. I wrote this for Feb. 14 one year, because every time I told people I was okay with being single, they looked at me like I had three heads or something.

3--The free online video game that kept me from leaving my house for days.

4-- My sister's EVIL CAT (who is, ironically, named Baby) who I am convinced is trying to kill me. BTW, this year my blog will have followups on Baby, as well as delving into his troubled kittenhood (i.e. pictures of my niece dressing him up in doll clothes.). Just the look on that cat's face in the picture is enough to tell you...he's thinking "you got to sleep sometime."

okay... let me see if this video works---I was having trouble with the sound earlier....

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year's Blog Hop Continues---and guess how I spent New Year's Eve? PLUS another freebie!

WOW. Thanks to all of you who have left comments on the blog for your FREE copy of my book. It's also GREAT to know there are others who enjoy reading Max Lucado as much as I do.

And---anyone want to guess how I spent New Year's Eve? Did I :

a) spend a low-key night hanging with friends
b) go to one of the celebrations in Raleigh (closest major city to me)
c) watch re-runs of Law and Order: Criminal Intent
d) clean my closet

I know. Some of these are absolutely yawn-worthy. I think it's safe to say some of my New Year's are more social than others. I'm one of those people who enjoy being with others, but then also enjoy some alone time.

The answer is : C. But in my defense, Vincent D'Onofrio is the most talented, underrated character actor alive today. I'm very fascinated by murder mysteries. I may even attempt to write one---a "cozy"---nothing overtly graphic....
D'Onofrio's character (which, I think we all agree could probably not exist in "real life") is based on Sherlock Holmes. Also, the show follows the crime heavily from the criminal's perspective. As a writer, I find this fascinating because the motive is never what you'd really expect....

Anyway, I now have ANOTHER book being offered for free as a part of an Amazon promo.
It is a collection of my short stories (written as a part of my creative writing master's thesis).
The link is here--the book is "Welcome to Shangri-La, North Carolina."

And now, a quick recap of how to get your FREE book, prizes, etc.

Here's the 4-1-1 and tips on how you can WIN free stuff.
First, everyone who leaves a comment on this blog will get a coupon code for a FREE electronic copy of my latest novel, "Ten Thousand New Year's Eves" (what better for the new year?) You can read a bit more about it--including a sample chapter--- here.

Second, all of those who leave a comment will be entered into a drawing to win a FREE hardcover copy of "Traveling Light" by Max Lucado OR "Love" by Toni Morrison. (winner's choice). I am giving the winner a choice because, in the interest of full disclosure, "Traveling Light" is a religious book. I love Max Lucado (particularly his "Applause of Heaven") and while I make no apologies for my beliefs, I do NOT want anyone to think they were being "back-door evangelized," so if you'd prefer (or if you've already read the Lucado book) you can have a hardcover copy of "Love" by Toni Morrison. I think both authors write with an intense sense of imagery and emotion---so please feel free to pick the one you wish. (Though please be aware that the Morrison book is PG-13).

Not trying to offend anyone, just keeping it real.

So in short:
1. Leave a comment to get a FREE e-copy of "Ten Thousand New Year's Eves"
2. When you leave a comment, please leave your e-mail addy OR, if you prefer to send it privately, you can send it to me at
3. All those who comment will be placed in a drawing to win a hardcover book: either "Traveling Light" by Max Lucado OR "Love" by Toni Morrison (winner's choice).
4. I will post a video of me drawing the name of the winner from a hat (I know it's hokey, but I love the theatrical) .
5. I will contact that winner via e-mail to get his/her snail mail addy and send the book of his/her choice.

Also, I do NOT send your e-mails, addresses, etc. to some kind of spam list, because 1) that is just not cool 2) I wouldn't know how to do that anyway and 3) that is totally rude. the sample chapter of my "Ten Thousand New Year's Eves" right here if you want to see if it's your cup of tea (I've had a blast writing it and I really do think you'll enjoy it). Hang around a bit. I'll talk about some of my favorite characters I created for the book, and I'll talk to you about HOW I came up with the characters.  So have some coffee. Have fun. Chill out. Follow my blog because I'm insecure and need validation...
But last, and CERTAINLY not least, PLEASE visit the other blogs on this list to get other chances to win cool free stuff.
And on behalf of writers everywhere---thank you. Writing can be a solitary profession, and it's great to connect with readers.