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A Successful Author Talk with Debut Author Brandy Colbert

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 08 May 2012 · 192 views

[url="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-qbLibAiYBUc/T4LqV8O8FTI/AAAAAAAAAd8/mtrQ9bTsFfw/s1600/0.jpeg"][img]http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-qbLibAiYBUc/T4LqV8O8FTI/AAAAAAAAAd8/mtrQ9bTsFfw/s1600/0.jpeg[/img][/url]Today's guest for the SAT (Successful Author Talk) is my fellow [url="http://thelucky13s.blogspot.com/"]Lucky 13'er[/url] Brandy Colbert, author of [url="http://A%20ballet%20prodigy"]A POINT SO DELICATE[/url], in which a ballet prodigy's life begins to unravel when she is forced to admit to the role she played in her childhood friend's abduction. Brandy grew up in the Missouri Ozarks and graduated Missouri State University with a Journalism degree. Fifteen days later she moved clear across the country to Los Angeles. Brandy has been writing since she can remember and has the many, many spiral-bound notebooks with her childhood stories to prove it. A POINT SO DELICATE will be available from Penguin Fall, 2013.

[b]Writing Process:[/b]
[b]BBC: Are you a Planner or Pantster?[/b]

BC: I’ve always called myself a pantser, but now I’m not so sure. I don’t stick to a detailed outline – never have – but I do outline in my head. Before I start a novel, I spend several days thinking about the characters, their struggles, and even specific scenes. I start an email draft once ideas begin coming together so I can keep track of everything, in case I forget. The notes are very haphazard (they rarely contain full sentences and they’re not written in chronological order) so I don’t quite consider it outlining. But I suppose that means I’m not exactly a pantser, either.

[b]BBC: How long does it typically take you to write a novel, start to finish?[/b]

BC: I’ll usually spend about eight to 12 weeks on a first draft. That one is almost always just for me. I write pretty fast, but a lot of things change in the second draft. Revising is more rewarding, but it’s also very difficult, so I prefer drafting. I think the fast pace allows me to be a little freer. My first drafts are messy in terms of plotting and they need a lot of work, but I love them.

[b]BBC: Do you work on one project at a time, or are you a multi tasker?[/b]

BC: One project at a time is all I can handle. I get so involved with the characters and their world that it’s hard for me to switch back and forth between two projects. That being said, I don’t always finish a project in one pass. I’ll often start a draft, set it aside for a while, and pick it up again when I’ve figured out how to move forward.

[b]BBC: Did you have to overcome any fears that first time you sat down to write?[/b]

BC: I’ve been writing since I was about seven years old, but I started writing for publication six years ago, in 2006. My main fear was not finishing, as I’d had trouble with that in the past. I wrote my first novel during NaNoWriMo; I finished the first 50,000 words within the month of November, and then finished the novel a few weeks later. I’ve gotten to the point now where I’m always working on something, but NaNo was great motivation for that first book.

[b]BBC: How many trunked books (if any) did you have before you were agented?[/b]

BC: Three. All YA novels. All were queried and rejected so many times I lost count. I actually signed with an agent for that first novel, but we parted ways after six months, due to incompatibility. (It really is all about the right fit!)

[b]BBC: Have you ever quit on an ms, and how did you know it was time?[/b]

BC: Like I said earlier, I’m never afraid to set aside a manuscript if the story isn’t working for me at the moment. But I’ve picked up and reworked manuscripts after they were sitting on the back burner for years. Even if I only use a few elements from the original version, I still consider it incredibly helpful.

[b]Querying and Agent Hunt Process:[/b]
[b]Who is your agent and how did you get that "Yes!" out of them? [/b]

BC: I’m represented by the amazingly fabulous Tina Wexler of ICM, who pulled my query from the slush pile (!). I know that referrals can be helpful and a lot of people have success pitching at conferences, but I didn’t know any other writers when I was querying and I’d never attended a conference, so I always assumed I would get an agent through the traditional query route. I emailed my query to Tina early one morning and she’d requested the full by lunchtime. She got back to me in a couple of weeks with the kindest words about my writing and a revise-and-resubmit request. I was absolutely on board with her suggestions to make the book better, turned in a revised manuscript six weeks later, and signed with her a couple of weeks after that. Best decision ever. Tina is my Dream Agent to a T.

[b]BBC: How long did you query before landing your agent?[/b]

BC: I queried for four years before I signed with my agent. I don’t know if I was ever very good at figuring out how to target my queries. I extensively researched the agents I queried, but the ones I assumed would like my work (based on the clients they represented) were rarely interested, and the ones I never assumed would request pages were the most enthusiastic. (Fun fact: I queried Tina with my first manuscript and received a rejection upon query. Just because one of your books isn’t right for an agent, that doesn’t mean they won’t be interested in your subsequent work.)

[b]BBC: Any advice to aspiring writers out there on conquering query hell?[/b]

BC: All of this has been said before, but it’s worth repeating. Don’t give up. Start another project while you’re querying so you don’t drive yourself crazy with the waiting. Only query agents who represent what you write and follow their submission guidelines. Be polite. Be professional. Trust your gut. And remember that this is a job and if you want it to be yours someday, treat it as such before you even have an agent.

[b]Social Networking and Marketing:[/b]
[b]How much of your own marketing do you? Do you have a blog / site / Twitter? [/b]

BC: It’s a tad bit early for marketing, as my book won’t be out until fall of 2013. But I do have a [url="http://www.brandycolbert.wordpress.com)"]blog[/url] and a [url="https://twitter.com/#!/brandycolbert)"]Twitter [/url]account. I’ll build an official website and set up a Facebook author page closer to publication.

[b]BBC: When do you build your platform? After an agent? Or should you be working [/b][b]before?[/b]

BC: One thing Tina mentioned during The Call was that she couldn’t find a lot about me online. I was surprised at first and then realized she was right—at the time, all I had was a locked-down Facebook account and a Twitter account that I’d had for a few years but was just starting to use regularly. I think it’s smart to build a platform before you sign with an agent, but I don’t think it’s necessary when you’re writing fiction. The quality of writing is the most important part; building an online presence can come later.

[b]BBC: Do you think social media helps build your readership?[/b]

BC: In my case, it’s too early to tell, but I certainly think it can’t hurt. Personally, if I enjoy talking to an author on Twitter/blogs/Facebook/etc., I will most likely want to read their books. To be honest, I struggle with social media sometimes. I’m not shy, but I am a fairly private person by nature, so it can be difficult to open up to people I don’t know in real life. In addition to the privacy factor, I worry that no one will care about my journey/ what I’m working on/what I think is the smartest show on television right now. But at the same time, I’m friendly and truly enjoy meeting new people, especially those who have the same interests or career path. I’ve met so many wonderful people through Twitter— authors, writers, and readers alike—and hope to meet many more along the way!
[img]https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/121295651954516717-3165841915092623762?l=writerwriterpantsonfire.blogspot.com[/img]

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Last Call At The Oasis

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 07 May 2012 · 334 views

[url="http://www.takepart.com/sites/default/files/styles/tp_campaign_cover/public/oasis_150x221_1.jpg"][img]http://www.takepart.com/sites/default/files/styles/tp_campaign_cover/public/oasis_150x221_1.jpg[/img][/url]Obviously the topic of this documentary is very close to my heart. I think the graphics I have included here don't need much more explanation from me. Take a look, then have a drink. And be grateful for it.

After you do that, check out [url="http://www.takepart.com/lastcall"]Take Part [/url]and support Trevor's Law by signing the petition to increase assistance to areas affected by disease clusters caused by water contamination.

Tweet it. Share it. Talk about it.

<a href="http://www.takepart.com/lastcall">

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Monday MORP

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 06 May 2012 · 158 views

When I was in high school we had a dance called the MORP dance. Yeah, that's "prom" backwards. The idea of the MORP dance was that you came looking like crap, danced badly, and made a fool of yourself on purpose.

Really, MORP wasn't that different from prom for someone like me, but you get the point.

I mention it because I'm going to reshare my vlog that I posted last Friday on the [url="http://fridaythethirteeners.blogspot.com/"]Friday the Thirteeners [/url]blog. Just so you're not wondering why the hell I did what I did in this vlog - the Thirteeners take Truth or Dare's every Friday from our lovely followers. Mine was to share a video from high school or share pictures of yourself as a teenager.

I decided to talk about boobs a little bit too, but that's just to make it more of a human interest story. Enjoy!




[img]https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/121295651954516717-5110629677261659925?l=writerwriterpantsonfire.blogspot.com[/img]

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The Saturday Slash

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 04 May 2012 · 363 views

Meet the BBC Hatchet of Death (or, some other colorful description RC Lewis and I come up with at any given moment). This is how I edit myself, it is how I edit others. If you think you want to play with me and my hatchet, shoot us an email.


[center][url="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-MAvrORptKTc/T4xRk0x9XQI/AAAAAAAAAeM/G_WLmt8stog/s1600/UseSaturdaySlash.tiff"][img]http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-MAvrORptKTc/T4xRk0x9XQI/AAAAAAAAAeM/G_WLmt8stog/s200/UseSaturdaySlash.tiff[/img][/url][/center]
We all know the first line of a query is your "hook." I call the last line the "sinker." You want it to punch them in the face, in a nice, friendly kind of way that makes them unable to forget you after having read the 300 other queries in their inbox. Also, at the end, I'm going to tell you what I think your story is about, based on your query. I know how hard it is to get your ideas across succinctly, and how easy it is for your author's brain to fill in the blanks and not see the gaping holes that the average reader may very well fall into.


Also, for my brave Saturday Slash volunteers I will gladly do follow-up slashes (each more kindly than the next) on your query if you post them on the Query Critique board over on AgentQuery Connect. You'll get advice from me, and also people who are smarter than me. If you do post on AQ, be sure to follow the guidelines and let me know you posted so that I can follow up!


Today's volunteer took an interesting approach, addressing me as if I were the agent in question. I'm flattered, I may have even quirked a smile.


And now for our next brave soul. For clarity, my comments are in [color=yellow]yellow[/color].

An avid reader of your blog, I enjoy your nothing is sacred sense of humor and straight-to-the-point approach to writing and editing. I understand you're interested in quirky, character-driven picture books, and I'm pleased to submit for your consideration Pippa Blackpool and the Mystery of the Disappearing Mansion, my 900-word picture book written for ages 4-8. [color=yellow]This is a good intro. I didn't take the time to personalize all my queries, as personalization can be one heck of a time consumer. In this case though, it's flattering without groveling, and if the author can get this same style injected into a query to an agent, it's a good foot forward.[/color]

Pippa Blackpool loves pretending. [color=yellow]Meh - what 4-8 year old doesn't? [/color]Whether she's a maiden in peril, locked in a castle tower, an acclaimed [color=yellow]I'd strike "acclaimed" for pacing[/color] archaeologist on the hunt for ancient [color=yellow]same with "ancient." Artifacts are by nature, ancient.[/color] artifacts, or a renowned detective investigating an important case, nine-year-old Pippa's always [color=yellow]I'd do a slight rephrase here. Try saying the 5 words before this aloud and you'll see why.[/color] looking for mystery and adventure. [color=yellow]Your hook is okay, I like the examples you give but the very first sentence isn't hooking me the way it should. However, I'm not the end-all be-all of picture book querying so this could be perfectly acceptable.[/color]

The only thing she loves more than pretending is pretending in her spooky old house, with its rickety rafters and cobweb-covered ceilings. [color=yellow]AHA! Okay this sounds like the crux of your story here. She lives in a creepy house? GREAT! That's cool, and puts a new spin on her "pretending."[/color]But when her modern-minded parents decide to redecorate and fail to ask her opinion, a series of curious events prompts her to investigate. [color=yellow]I like it, again I think that this is where your hook is - a re haul of the house is causing issues - that's your story, not that Pippa likes to pretend. [/color]She observes the work crew hauling dilapidated door latches, streaky stained-glass windows, and other bits of her beloved home into the backyard. She can't see what is happening [color=yellow]This feels a little awkward as you just said "she observes" but then are following up with "she can't see." Even though you're talking about two different things (one observed, one not) the reader doesn't get the division of the two until later in this sentence.[/color], but there are mysterious noises emanating from behind the high hedges. Plus, her parents are acting suspicious and strictly forbade [color=yellow]tense issue with forbade? [/color]her to play there. What's happening in her backyard? This is, perhaps, the biggest mystery Pippa's ever investigated. [color=yellow]EXACTLY - so let's toss it out there first![/color]

A former newspaper reporter, I currently work as a magazine freelance, and am an active member of The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. I earned my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English, and focused much of my attention on British literature of a mysterious and spooky nature. Like Pippa, I possess a particular fondness for the peculiar. [color=yellow]Nice bio, very good.[/color]

This is a multiple submission. [color=yellow]Not need to clarify that, They assume so.[/color]

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

[color=yellow]The writing here is solid, with the exception of a few rephrases and nits for flow, but your main issue is that you need to get that spooky house, an unwanted remodel and disembodied voices out there first thing. Re-evaluate that first sentence and take what you absolutely need out of it, then dribble those little drops throughout that second para. Get your hook out there! What makes you original ? Why is Pippa's situation different from any other curious kid.[/color]
[color=yellow]And lastly, I'd really question some of your word choice in the query. Observes, dilapidated, emanating... it feels wordy, and it might make the agent question whether your use age-appropriate language in your picture book.[/color]
[img]https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/121295651954516717-1828461685141880232?l=writerwriterpantsonfire.blogspot.com[/img]

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BBC Book Talk - PRECIOUS BONES by Mika Ashley-Hollinger

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 03 May 2012 · 224 views

[center][url="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-62TitrfqSp4/T1kHY4FyGeI/AAAAAAAAAb8/CAINwdgQDY4/s1600/12394095.jpg"][img]http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-62TitrfqSp4/T1kHY4FyGeI/AAAAAAAAAb8/CAINwdgQDY4/s320/12394095.jpg[/img][/url][/center]I won't be the last person to compare Mika Ashley-Hollinger's amazing debut novel, [url="http://www.amazon.com/Precious-Bones-Mika-Ashley-Hollinger/dp/0385742193/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1331232953&sr=8-2"]PRECIOUS BONES[/url] to Harper Lee's iconic TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD.

Raised in the isolated swamplands of 1948 Florida, ten-year-old Bones sees nothing odd about her name, the fact that she has a pet pig who sleeps in her bed, or the various items belonging to other people that her father, Nolay, brings home because they don't seem to be using them.

Bones asks a lot of questions about her world, not understanding why some people look down on her because her mother is white and her father is a Miccosukee Indian, why her black neighbors have to sit in a different part of the train when they go into town, or why people don't appreciate the wisdom of a brain-damaged war veteran who takes note of everything that passes by from his bench in front of the gas station.

The real world penetrates into Bones' swampy haven when one of the Yankee land-grabbers that Nolay ran off his property turns up dead. Her father is under suspicion and living in the shadow of the electric chair unless someone can prove he wasn't involved. Bones would rather take matters into her own hands than leave everything up to the local sheriff, who moves slower than pond water.

Together with her best friend Little Man, Bones braves the swamp, the folktale fears of her childhood and the wandering gators in order to find the evidence that will make her father a free man.
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Thursday Thoughts

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 02 May 2012 · 177 views

Those thoughts, they keep on coming. Pesky little pests.

1) The CDC should use Sneezies to illustrate how an epic virus could wipe out the entire population. It's a kid's game, but it's also one heck of an apocalyptic teaching tool.

2) Flying is an odd, odd thing when you really think about it. You're 30,000 feet in the air, sitting next to a total stranger. Take the plane away and... odd.

3) When you whistle in public and all are by yourself, people move away from you. Humming has the same effect.
[img]https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/121295651954516717-7652821695033585563?l=writerwriterpantsonfire.blogspot.com[/img]

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An SAT with Debut Author K.A. Barson

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 30 April 2012 · 211 views

[center][url="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-dgxuvu4WZBM/T5_X-4LgXWI/AAAAAAAAAfI/o0Rto_i5i0o/s1600/kelly_2.23_uvtj.jpg"][img]http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-dgxuvu4WZBM/T5_X-4LgXWI/AAAAAAAAAfI/o0Rto_i5i0o/s200/kelly_2.23_uvtj.jpg[/img][/url][/center]It's back to life as usual for yours truly, which means you guys get an interview today! Today's SAT guest is a fellow [url="http://thelucky13s.blogspot.com/"]Lucky 13[/url], author K.A. Barson. She graduated from Vermont College of Fine Arts with an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults. She can usually be found in her messy office sporting no make-up, bed head, and sweats. Her YA debut, [url="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13424250-45-pounds"]45 POUNDS[/url], is about Ann, a sixteen-year-old girl who doesn’t fit—not in her blended family and certainly not in Snapz! clothes—is convinced that if she could only lose 45 pounds, her life would be perfectly normal. She soon learns that is nothing perfect about normal. 45 POUNDS will be available from Viking Children's Books, Summer 2013.

[b]Writing Process:[/b]
[b]BBC: Are you a Planner or Pantster?[/b]

KB: I’m both. I start with a plan, but it inevitably goes awry while writing. After I write a draft, I re-plan—with better understanding of my characters and story—and write again.

[b]BBC: How long does it typically take you to write a novel, start to finish?[/b]

KB: My first novel, which is really bad and hidden away, took about a month. Lately, it’s taken a lot longer: between six months to a year for a draft. Revisions are another story. I haven’t finished those yet, so as of now, they take forever.

[b]BBC: Do you work on one project at a time, or are you a multi tasker?[/b]

KB: I have several projects in various stages of completion, but in general, I focus on one at a time.

[b]BBC: Did you have to overcome any fears that first time you sat down to write?[/b]

KB: No, when I first sat down, I thought I could write anything. I was fearless and stupid. The fear didn’t come until I realized how much I didn’t know. Now I have to conquer it daily. What I wouldn’t give for a few more fearless, stupid writing sessions!

[b]BBC: How many trunked books (if any) did you have before you were agented?[/b]

KB: About three. One will never come out of from the trunk. One will need to be dismantled, re-visioned, and started fresh—someday. One is being revised right now. Another is newly revised and out on submission now.

[b]BBC: Have you ever quit on an ms, and how did you know it was time?[/b]

KB: Yes, once, but only because there was nowhere else to take it. It was a weird combo of fiction and non-fiction based on a family hobby. The potential audience was too small, the plot was weak, and the writing wasn’t very good. Not much to work with, so I let go and focused on other things. I have other books that I’ll come back to revise later with fresh eyes and better skills though.

[b]Querying and Agent Hunt Process:[/b]
[b]BBC: Who is your agent and how did you get that "Yes!" out of them?[/b]

KB: Sara Crowe of Harvey Klinger, Inc. It’s a pretty traditional story. I queried. She asked to read the full. A couple weeks later, she offered to represent me.

[b]BBC: How long did you query before landing your agent? [/b]

KBL I queried two other agents and got rejected almost immediately. After six months of research and talking to people, I put Sara Crowe at the top of the list. When I revisited my query, I realized that I hadn’t mentioned two really important things—the title and what made it different from other books. I revamped and queried Sara exclusively because I really wanted to work with her.

However, I queried a few agents years ago—way before I should have—with that now-and-forever-trunked piece. (I don’t count those.)

[b]BBC: Any advice to aspiring writers out there on conquering query hell?[/b]

KBL Yes. Finding an agent or editor is like finding the perfect mate. You want someone who wants you as much as you want him/her. (Think Cheap Trick.) Don’t just look for any agent. Look for the one who enthusiastically wants to rep you. If you get a rejection, don’t take it personally; it only means that agent is not your match.

If you constantly get rejected at the query, the problem might be the query. If you get a lot of rejections on the work, take another look at it, and never submit until you’ve had other readers—the more brutal the better—vet it first.

Finally, don’t give up. You might be one query away from a yes.

[b]Social Networking and Marketing:[/b]
[b]BBC: How much of your own marketing do you? Do you have a blog / site / Twitter? [/b]

KBL Since my book won’t be out for over a year, I haven’t done much yet. I joined a couple groups of other debut authors for support and group promotion and have participated in some blogs (like this one, for instance). I have a [url="http://www.kabarson.com)"]website[/url], I’m also on Twitter (@kabarson), [url="http://www.facebook.com/kabarson.author"]Facebook[/url], and [url="http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5555591.K_A_Barson"]Goodreads[/url].

[b]BBC: When do you build your platform? After an agent? Or should you be working before?[/b]

KB: I built my initial website before the agent/book deal and am adding to it as I go.

[b]BBC: Do you think social media helps build your readership?[/b]

KB: I hope so. It definitely helps get the word out.
[img]https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/121295651954516717-6400903302766275389?l=writerwriterpantsonfire.blogspot.com[/img]

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Being A Bitch Is Just Bitchy

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 29 April 2012 · 119 views

So, I ended up in Albuquerque a little longer than expected. Self-edit... I ended up in the ABQ airport a little longer than expected. Like, a whole day.

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that crit partner extraordinaire, Rachel Lewis, came to my rescue. Not only did she pick me up to begin with, let me crash at her place, drove me to the airport in the morning... she then came back 8 hours later to take me BACK to her place. And Monday morning she will get up and take me to the airport yet again, and at an obscenely early hour.

So obviously my post title isn't directed at her.

Actually, it's not directed at anyone. The vast majority of my fellow passengers were well-behaved considering we were penned into the failed aircraft for an hour and a half, directed to get our luggage from the carousel, then informed at the baggage claim that our luggage had never come down, and had instead gone on to our final destinations, and that we had to go back through security in order to get to the ticketing gates to get re-routed (or not)... You get the idea.

Sure, some people said four-letter words, some were crappy to the gate workers (as if they had broken the plane to spite us), some were even crappy to their own traveling companions. But most of us just sat down in an empty chair, cracked open our books, phones, Nooks, Kindles and iPads, and prepared to wait. Because we knew that bitching would just make us look stupid on top of being late.

So remember aspiring writers, getting bitchy and shaking your fists at the person/people that you believe may be responsible for what's going wrong today... try playing Sneezies for an hour before you say something you might regret.
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BBC Book Talk - Book Pregnant Friday!

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 26 April 2012 · 137 views

I've mentioned before that I'm a member of an excellent group of debut writers. [url="http://bookpregnant.blogspot.com/"]Book Pregnant [/url]is a cross genre group that covers everything from intense autobiography, heart-wrenching literary fiction, historical fiction and well... me. I've already talked about three of my fellow members in previous book talks, so backtrack a little if you're interested in historical fiction by checking out Nancy Bilyeau's [url="http://writerwriterpantsonfire.blogspot.com/2012/03/bbc-book-talk-crown-by-nancy-bilyeau.html"]THE CROWN[/url], Sophie Perinot's [url="http://writerwriterpantsonfire.blogspot.com/2012/02/bbc-book-talk-sister-queens-by-sophie.html"]THE SISTER QUEENS,[/url] and Anne Clinard-Barnhill's [url="http://writerwriterpantsonfire.blogspot.com/2012/03/bbc-book-talk-at-mercy-of-queen-by-anne.html"]AT THE MERCY OF THE QUEEN[/url].

Today I'm going to give you a quick rundown of three more Book Pregnant books, all three well worth your time!

[url="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-SVJPo2M_7dI/T5b16Dwpn2I/AAAAAAAAAec/3elBArbTfi0/s1600/417m7iO4RTL._SL110_.jpg"][img]http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-SVJPo2M_7dI/T5b16Dwpn2I/AAAAAAAAAec/3elBArbTfi0/s1600/417m7iO4RTL._SL110_.jpg[/img][/url]THE LOST SAINTS OF TENNESSEE Amy Franklin-Willis does a fantastic job delivering the story of the Cooper family over a period of many years, following the main character - Ezekiel - through different parts of his life that illuminate each other without being in chronological order. His mother's rejection of his twin brother once it was clear Carter had suffered brain damage from a high fever as an infant, how much it pained Zeke to leave his brother and closest friend behind mentally as they matured, and socially as he went on to marry and have children.

The relationships between Zeke, his mother and sisters, his wife at all stages of their relationship, and his alienated teen daughters is harrowing in it's honesty, as the entire book is delivered in tight first-person.

[url="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-9Hwy_cEeD34/T5b1_5EJTxI/AAAAAAAAAek/wzLPdt1p-D4/s1600/418TBnbUt6L._SL110_.jpg"][img]http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-9Hwy_cEeD34/T5b1_5EJTxI/AAAAAAAAAek/wzLPdt1p-D4/s1600/418TBnbUt6L._SL110_.jpg[/img][/url]THE UNDERSIDE OF JOY by Sere Prince Halverson I loved The Underside of Joy for so many reasons - do you ever truly know someone, no matter how much you love them? Can you find your only purpose through giving to others? How much can one woman bend before she breaks?

When childless Ella Beane ends up in northern California, both literally and figuratively lost, she has no idea that offering to help a single dad who has his hands full locking up his grocery store while dealing with an infant and a toddler will change the course of her life. His sudden death only a few short years later leaves her as a single parent of children not her own, yet they are her only anchor in her grief. When the long-absent biological mother shows up at the funeral, demanding to see her children and insisting she's tried to be a presence in their lives all along, Ella faces the real possibility of losing what she had finally gained - a family.

The complex relationships between the deceased husband and grieving wife who discovers he may not have been the perfect man she imagined, the glamorous ex who may not be the evil witch she was painted to be, and the children who are torn between everyone they have left, is quite amazing.

[url="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-zxRRuEuO_C0/T5b2FEMwJCI/AAAAAAAAAes/3PvKRhhAAAI/s1600/41C14CXy-8L._SL110_.jpg"][img]http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-zxRRuEuO_C0/T5b2FEMwJCI/AAAAAAAAAes/3PvKRhhAAAI/s1600/41C14CXy-8L._SL110_.jpg[/img][/url]THE RULES OF INHERITANCE Claire Bidwell Smith has written a heartbreakingly honest and gritty memoir that takes a hard look at her own choices viewed through the lens of grief. Claire's tale of how she coped with the death of both her parents from cancer while she was only in her twenties is eloquently written, yet sparsely told with a deft touch. Highly recommended, amazing writing, an honest voice.
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Thursday Thoughts

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 25 April 2012 · 292 views

More from the Mind of Mindy...

1) I tweeted earlier this week that I wish our bladders were exterior organs, and detachable. This way when we leave a room in a hurry, people understand. People would know better than to sneak up on you to scare you, and if you rejected an offer to get on a trampoline, no would have to ask you why.

2) The detachable part is self-explanatory. It'll be the new, "Grab me a beer." Hey, are you going to the bathroom? Can you take my bladder with you?

3) I'm on a plane (probably as you read this), and that situation has made me rethink the exterior bladder scenario.
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