Monday, June 30, 2008


News just broke--at least here--that Barack Obama is going to walk in our 4th of July parade.

Here. In Butte, Montana. In our parade.

In which I am going to be dressed in Huck Finn-ish clothes and riding on a truck.

Hmmmm. *wild emotion swings*


And yay, made my monthly goal on MELODY. Now I may eat cake.

Okay, a second piece of cake. Stolen from the kitchen. The end piece. :)

The winner!!

And the winner of a signed copy of My Lord and Spymaster, through the services of, is...

Lori Benton!!

Congratulations, Lori! Send me an email at susan dot, and we'll get your copy to you!
Are you ready? Are you? Are you?

Drawing in 5 minutes.

RANDOM drawing, Beth and Stephanie. {cough}

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Dates, argh.

As someone pointed out, my date for Monday is incorrect--Monday is actually June 30th. AND I've got an appointment Monday morning, so I wouldn't be able to draw for a while.

So, we'll push it back, but only a tiny bit. I'll do the draw at NOON Monday JUNE 30. See ya then!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Joanna Bourne: Interview! Contest!

Joanna Bourne writes excellent books. You don't have to take my word for it--check out just about any review of The Spymaster's Lady. And then read it yourself, if you haven't already. You'll thank me.

Jo's new book, My Lord and Spymaster, is officially coming out on Monday, though the sneaky booksellers have been filling the shelves with it early. To celebrate the fantabulous release, I roped Jo into an exclusive (somewhat wacky) interview, and we're giving away a Signed Copy! Check the end of this post for contest details. First, the interview:

Susan: Congratulations on the wonderful reception of The Spymaster's Lady, and the release of My Lord and Spymaster! I can't wait to get my hands on it.

JO: Thank you so much.

Susan: Now, the interrogation. Annique, the heroine of TSL, was a strong, crafty--but somewhat naïve--French spy. Tell us about Jess, the heroine of MLS.

JO: Jess is a slum-born Cockney. Guts, luck and brains got her out of the grim rookeries of London and a life of crime.

Now she's headed back to those mean streets. They're more dangerous than ever. She left unfinished business behind her, and dangerous enemies, and chunks of her soul.

Guess she still needs the guts, luck and brains.

If Annique is juggling the fate of nations, Jessamyn is fighting on a different, more intimate, scale. She has to save her father, and the man she's falling in love with. Maybe that soul, too.

Susan: The rumor is (and I am totally making this up) that you love to write about spies because you were, in fact, a spy. True/False? (or if you answer, will they send someone to wipe my computer after?)

JO: Oh, good heavens, no. You would have to see me. I'm this dumpy, little round woman with glasses.

I am perfectly willing to pretend to be a spy, though, if that lends authenticity to the series.

Jess is a master merchant. I'm not actually a merchant.
(Jo tries to assume the mien and demeanor of commercial genius.)

Susan: Over at the Compuserve Books & Writers Forum you're renowned--some might say worshipped--for your detailed posts about the craft and mechanics of writing, featuring Myrtle the Vampire. Any chance Myrtle could come out and play for a minute? (question for Myrtle: illustrate the difference between show and tell with an example)

JO: Worship like with incense and chanting, or worship as in turning me upside down like Ganesh?
Ah well.


Myrtle pretended to be a spy, a sensual Mata Hari, a vamp, instead of a vampire.

She'd hope Bond would think she was interested in death rays, instead of corpuscles. Maybe he'd lock his secrets up safe and bare his neck.

Bad choice for him, if he did.


"Tell me about the MS-27." Myrtle unhooked the back of her dress and let it slither to the ground. Then she did some slithering herself, approaching. "You know you want to."

"I think not." Bond considered her cleavage. He was shaken, but not stirred. "Shall we discuss the weather instead? I'm British."

She licked his sternocleidomastoid. Yum. Yum. "Have you ever made love to a dead woman?"

"Not that I know of."

Susan: Perfect!! Seriously, thank you for the massive hours you must have spent over the years teaching and mentoring other writers. Who do you consider your mentors?

JO: Diana Gabaldon is endlessly helpful and supportive to everybody at Books and Writers. Darlene Marshall and Pam Patchet are beautiful comedic voices. I've learned a lot from them.

Susan: I know you've been at this crazy writing business for a while now. What has your journey to publication been like?

JO: When I was six, my mother took all five of us kids and drove through Mexico in an old woody-sided stationwagon. It had a bullet hole in the side (but that's another story), and was not entirely reliable in the radiator and oil pan departments. One time, we drove off and left my little sister behind at the border crossing. Once, we got stopped by what was either a zealous community watch organization or bandits, and I got amoebic dysentery.

Oh. Flat tires. Lots and lots of flat tires.

That's what my journey to publication has been like.

Susan: {recovering from belly-laugh} Hokay. Serious Face. Is your approach to the writing any different now that your books are on the shelves? How?

JO: The major difference is that now I have deadlines. That appalls me and fills me with dismay. I do not think deadlines make me write any faster. They just make me miserable.

I also have book reviews. The bad ones confound and devastate me. Or puzzle me. The good ones always feel like they must be about somebody else's book.

Susan: Any final bits of advice for aspiring writers?

JO: Write what you love. Love it so much you don't care whether you get published or not. Listen carefully to advice. Ignore most all of that advice.

Ah, Jo, you rock. Thank you again.

The CONTEST: Add a comment to this post, including your name somewhere. You have until MONDAY JULY 1st! Monday morning whenever I get into work, I'll do a random drawing and select one winner. The winner will receive a Jo-signed copy of My Lord and Spymaster. Ready? GO!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Impending Contest Alert!

Guess what??

My esteemed friend and inestimable writer Joanna Bourne has a new book coming out--and to celebrate, tomorrow I'm going to post an interview with Jo and host a contest for a signed copy of her new book, My Lord and Spymaster.

Yay! Jo is an amazing person and one of my mentors. I am so happy to help get this book in more people's hands.

Viewer/Reader Satisfaction: The Story Arc

Last night I finally got to see Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

I. Loved. It. Several times during the movie I said "YES!" to myself (under my breath). I walked out grinning like an eedjut.

But being an aspiring storyteller myself, I couldn't let it go at just enjoying it. I had to analyze WHY. Why was the film so satisfying? I've been an Indiana Jones fan since the beginning (well, except for #2--but did anyone like #2? Really? The monkey brains and all?), but it wasn't that simple. This one had to be Really Good, to succeed. And it was. It left me with a feeling of completion, that satisfied sigh of closing the last book in a good series.


Because George Lucas and Stephen Spielberg know how to do a story arc.

(warning: SPOILERS)

If you look at the whole series (which I intend to, once this comes out on video), this fourth movie picks up themes and bits that were touched on throughout (friendship and betrayal, fathers and sons, the folly of greed, love) but it is most closely tied to the first one.

Most obviously there's the reappearance of Marian, Indy's love interest in #1. I hoped hoped hoped it was her when they mentioned a "Mary" in the beginning, and I was thrilled when it was. Indy's never had a connection with any other woman--on screen--like Marian (and he says so). Tie-in to problem set up in first movie, resolution. Bing! Viewer satisfaction.

There was the reappearance of the warehouse from the end of #1, and the tantalizing glimpse of the Ark (ha). There was the reference to Indy's famous not-swordfight ("don't bring a knife to a gunfight") and a parallel with the Russians seeking world domination here, through an artifact, just like the Nazis did in #1. The ending also mirrored the theme of that original movie: too much knowledge, the greed for knowledge, is a dangerous thing. In #1 Indy and Marion survived because they kept their eyes closed. Here the Russian woman was destroyed because she kept her eyes open. At one point she tried to shut them, but couldn't. Reference to first movie, resolution. Bing!

There was the tie up and passing on of the baton, from father to son. In #3 we saw Indy's relationship with his father, and here we see him relating to his son. There is a clear implication at the end that the story is not over, really, but will pass to the next generation (when Mutt almost tries on Indy's hat). Bing!

(Oh, and I love the reference with Mutt's name. Anyone else remember "Indiana was the dog"?

Okay, so I think you get the point that the Indy movie was satisfying. But how does this relate to your book, or series, as an author? How do you get readers to feel that same satisfaction?

  • Play on their inside knowledge. Readers will feel knowledgeable, and special, when you throw in little references to things they've seen throughout your book or series. If it's a series, readers who haven't read the whole series may not get those references--but your devoted readers will. And will feel a kinship to the story and to you when they get them.

  • The final chapter of a series, or even just a book, should tie in to the first chapter. Yes, your character's been through a heck of a lot, and hopefully they're not at all the same person. But for that emotional satisfaction there needs to be a tie-in, a resolution, to the first problem. That gives readers an "aha" moment, and a feeling that the story is complete.

  • If you're doing a series, and you've covered a lot of themes, the primary theme resolution in the final book should be the same or similar theme as the first book. Emotional satisfaction.

  • Bring up long-lost characters. Resolve long-forgotten threads. Show the reader that it was important to pay attention all the way through your book or series, and reward them for it. Use a detail you planted in Book 1 or the first chapter and never used.

  • Watch the Indiana Jones series. And take notes.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Today's conversation

Angel on shoulder: Oh, goodie, it's almost lunchtime. You can crank out your wordcount on Melody.

Devil: The Lee Child book is in your backpack, right there, only a zipper away...

Angel: No, no. You must spend your hour on your own writing. Otherwise, how will it ever get done? Slacking does not a novel finish.

Devil: Just for a little while. You can read some while you eat.

Angel: You know it doesn't work that way. Crack that puppy and you're gone for the hour. Hmm, crack. Lee Child books are like crack. Resist!

Devil: C'mon, it's summer. Prop your feet up. Relax.

Angel (stern): You have not been making your wordcounts lately.

Devil (waggling a little pseudocopy of Lee Child over my head): You know you want this.


Winner to be determined momentarily...

And the winner was Angel--got my wordcount in. Though I also got 15 minutes at the end to read. :)


I'm playing with Twitter.


(a) because I can
(b) because I'm supposed to be doing something else.

Of course.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Okay, I have to do one of these, just because of the RANDOM searches people have been using to find my blog. These are actual phrases people used in google. I'm glad they came here (welcome!) but poor people, most of them were likely sadly disappointed.

belle underwear

what? How on earth does a "belle underwear" search land on my site?

george collen thomas the tank engine

Carlin. It's George Carlin. But cool that you're looking him up.

how the brain works while driving

Um. The same way it works when you're not?

pixie dust stencils

Well, that's cool. I'd like pixie dust stencils too. Sorry, I'm no help with that, though.

what does ribibe mean

I had to look back on this one--apparently this was one of my medieval words of the day. (Medieval Word of the Day: ribibe: An opprobrious or abusive term for an old woman.) Hey, now I'll get more hits for that.

last name Friday

Like Robinson Crusoe? Wait, that was "only name Friday", right?

model in bikini

Yeah, that one is totally my own fault for talking about America's Next Top Model AND bikinis. I deserve all the searches I get for that one.

Picture Tuesday!

Evidence that I wasn't lying about Spring. Oh wait, Summer! Well, it still looks like Spring around here--these are from our yard this weekend. (with the good camera! yay!)

Monday, June 23, 2008

I loved ya, George.

Because not only were you funny as hell, but you were willing to ALSO read stories for Thomas the Tank Engine. You rocked.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Now that's what I'm talkin' about. Much better.

After Child understood that I required a crown for this morning's "discussion", she crowned me and took my picture. Aaaahh.

A nomination! Gasp!

I was nominated for an award this morning.

It's not the first time--in fact, I think this is the third--but it's a shock every time. The emotion of it, the surprise, is a kick in the gut. There was a lot of screaming going on this morning.

That's right, folks: I was nominated for Worst Mother Ever.

I think the direct quote from the nomination was "You are the Worst Mother EVER! You never let me do ANYTHING!" After that it sort of drifted off into a howl, so I didn't get it all down.

She's six, not thirteen. {sigh}

Fortunately, twenty minutes later I was nominated for Best Mother Ever. Hey, you take what you can get.

Speaking of which, can I get a crown over here? A sparkly one with gems? Surely one of the nominations deserves a crown?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


I appear to be having one of those weeks when I can't post anything of substance. Snips of thought are all I have, so snips are what you get.

Snip: There was a moose in my mom's back yard yesterday. A MOOSE. Just a-sittin' on the lawn. The rangers had to come shoot it in the butt and haul it away. It was most amoosing. (sorry)

Snip: Child is getting a new tooth...behind the baby teeth, with the baby teeth still in place. They call 'em shark teeth, apparently. We went to the dentist today fully expecting that he was going to pull the two bottom front teeth, but were reprieved for a couple of months. Whew. However, we had x-rays done, and the size of her permanent teeth are astonishing. Dentist predicts either she will be much taller/bigger than we expect, or we will have friendly relations with the orthodontist.

Snip: My goal is to have 3000 words on Melody by the end of this week, 5000 by the end of this month. Finished draft by end-of-year. I can do that.

Snip: Finally, it's summer. 80 degrees. I have a tank top on. Yay.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Today I am...

writing MELODY. And it's already completely shifting, but that's okay.

And I went to look at a page of JENNA, and I totally got sucked in and read 40 pages like I didn't write them and didn't know what was going to happen, which was full of awesomeness.

And then I went to read GHOST GIRL to see if I could do that again, and I did.

So I guess that means I like my own writing, at least. Some days. Hee hee! I love this job.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Friday linkage!

Melody has a last name! Poor thing. It's Ziditor.

Our family name--Dad's name--is Ziditor. It's Romanian for maker, or creator, and that's what we are. It's just my bad luck that it also sounds awfully like "zit".
--Last night we saw a wonderful TV show. I know, it's like an oxymoron, but it really was. This American Life, a PBS radio show, is now in its second season on Showtime, and we've been watching them on demand. The one we saw last night was a study of 6 men named "John Smith" at different ages: 11 weeks, 8, 23, 36, 46, 70, and 87. Wow. It was beautifully done, a real glimpse of this weird Life thing. See it if you can. Link about the show here:

--Editorial Anonymous is guest-blogging today at Editorial Ass about Rosemary Well's The Bunny Planet, one of my favorite kid's books, and about what it's really like to be a kid. Hubby and I were just talking about how you forget, as a grown-up, how little control kids have. Great post.

--And finally, THIS was in my head when I woke up this morning--we just watched the 2006 revival of COMPANY on video, and of all the songs this one stuck. {shrug} Still there, too.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The winner is...

MM, aka The Author Known as Jenna Riley. :)

Congratulations, and thanks to everyone who entered!! I lurve my blog readers.

MM, email me at susan dot adrian @, and we'll get critting.

In Montana news, it's NOT snowing this morning, just raining. We got a couple of inches yesterday. But we're predicted for 70 degrees and sunny this weekend, so I'm holding out for that...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

500 posts! Day-am, I am a blabbermouth.

My first post on this blog was March 9, 2006. I was still banging away then on a certain medieval book, The Murderess's Tale. I'd never finished a book, much less queried one--my writing was for no one but me, and maybe my little group of compatriots.

Since then I've switched genres completely, finished THREE books, got myself a kick-ass agent, and made a bunch of truly kick-ass friends. And due to the wonders of the internets, it's all here. The ups, the downs, Life, and my own ideas about craft. (okay, I admit I need to label better. I'm working on it.) Five hundred frigging posts! I love that.

In a splash of good timing, I started writing Book 4--Melody--yesterday, and I'm thrilled about it. This weird job of mine is still so much fun that I can't imagine doing anything else.

Thank you, my new friends and old friends, for sharing this ride with me. I'd be nothing without you.

To thank you properly, I'm going to give away a critique of your first chapter, or first 5 pages. I can't promise niceness, but I can promise good line-edits, and a good eye. (I hope, since that's what they pay me for.) :)

If you're interested, leave a comment to this post! Winner will be selected by random draw and announced tomorrow!*

assuming we get more than one entry. {g} Linda and Vic, don't enter. Your crits are already slotted. :)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Post #499

That Janet Reid is a clever, clever woman. And no, I'm not saying that just to suck up because I know she has a Google alert on her name.

Read here.

And I'm still not sure what I'm going to do for my 500th post yet. I guess you will have to check back tomorrow and be surprised...

Monday, June 09, 2008

Wahoo Woohoo Woot

And Vicki's book THE TOUCH OF TWILIGHT hit the NYT Bestseller list this week at #27!!

A big woo-hoo for my girl: Woo-HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!

In other news, my big rush-rush work project is done, so now I can catch up on everything I had to put off to get it done. And I've gotten GG back from 3 beta-readers, with good feedback. One more to go, and it's off to NY! 2 more posts I will hit my 500th post. I want to do something to celebrate, but am coming up with nothing original. Any good ideas? No more book mailings for a bit, and I don't have any more NYT-bestselling author interviews up my sleeve for the time being. Hmmmm. Think, think, think.

Friday, June 06, 2008


Inspired by Pam:

Our tulips finally opened! In June!

A flock of cedar waxwings comes through and rests in our yard this time every year--they're such pretty birds. I didn't have the good camera with me, so this is the closest I could get.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Join me on the rollercoaster

Random mood swings...

UP: We did it! We gave Obama the final boost, and he really got the nomination! Woot!

DOWN: It's. Freaking. Snowing.

UP: {looks at computer, at the news reports} Woot!

DOWN: {looks out window}

UP: In 5 more posts, I will be at 500 posts! I must celebrate.

DOWN: *work program flashing at me insistently*

UP: *Life Stuff*

DOWN: *Life Stuff*

I think I need some drugs. Or some more coffee. Or some other sort of mellowing the chocolate and peanut butter Ghirardelli bar I hid in my bag this morning! YES! {rummaging}

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


One of my guidelines for this blog, discussed here, is not to post negative reviews. The flip side of that is that I do post, volubly, when I finish a book I love.

I LOVED A Field of Darkness, by Cornelia Read.

I'm a little too wiped by work and such to come up with a coherent summary of WHY I loved it, but I can say it was the plot--and the characters, and the voice, and the writing. And the suspense.

Go read it. You will enjoy it. :)

Monday, June 02, 2008


We had a great weekend! Mostly sunny and fun, enjoying the outdoors. Everything is finally green and blooming, and it's glorious!

Currently I am buried under my pile of work. However, I did get to spend some time during lunch starting my writing journal for the next book, working title MELODY. Oh yeah, baby. I'm hopping with all the possibilities. This looks like a fun one.

And now I'll go take my Mary Sunshine self off back to work, before anyone is suffocated by my cheerfulness.