Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008: The Year in Reading

Clock Hands
My initial reading goal for 2008 was simply to read more books than I had in 2007. I read 17 books in 2007, the fewest I've read in one year since the fourth grade. When it became apparent in January that I would easily top my 2007 total, I reset my goal to 75 and hoped that I would not only achieve that, but perhaps break 100.

I ended the year with 125 books by 105 different authors, a total of 28,591 pages; and a monthly average of 10.42 books with an average of 228.73 pages per book. December was my best month with 21 books, while April was the only month I read fewer than 6 books.

January - 11 Books; 2,914 Pages
1. Doctor Who: The Clockwise Man by Justin Richards
2. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
3. The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper
4. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
5. Buried Fire by Jonathan Stroud
6. Magyk by Angie Sage
7. Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne
8. The Tenth City by Patrick Carman
9. War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells
10. Doctor Who: The Stone Rose by Jacqueline Rayner
11. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
12. Doctor Who: The Resurrection Casket by Justin Richards

February - 7 Books; 1,769 Pages
13. Doctor Who: The Deviant Strain by Justin Richards
14. Doctor Who: The Feast of the Drowned by Stephen Cole
15. Doctor Who: I Am a Dalek by Gareth Roberts
16. Doctor Who: The Nightmare of Black Island by Mike Tucker
17. Emma by Jane Austen
18. Doctor Who: Winner Takes All by Jacqueline Rayner
19. Doctor Who: The Monsters Inside by Stephen Cole

March - 6 Books; 2,024 Pages
20. The Doctor's Guide to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome by David S. Bell, M.D.
21. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling
22. Doctor Who: The Price of Paradise by Colin Brake
23. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
24. Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie
25. Torchwood: Another Life by Peter Anghelides

April - 2 Books, 470 Pages
26. Torchwood: Slow Decay by Andy Lane
27. The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie

(I wish I had been blogging in April. I can't remember why I read only two books this month.)

May - 7 Books; 1,696 Pages
28. Doctor Who: Only Human by Gareth Roberts
29. The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs
30. Doctor Who: The Stealers of Dreams by Steve Lyons
31. Doctor Who: The Art of Destruction by Stephen Cole
32. Torchwood: Border Princes by Dan Abnett
33. Strategies: A Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia Journey by Tami Brady
34. Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman

June - 9 Books; 1,901 Pages
35. Torchwood: Something in the Water by Trevor Baxendale
36. The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett
37. The Moving Finger by Agatha Christie
38. Doctor Who: Sting of the Zygons by Stephen Cole
39. Bikeman by Thomas F. Flynn
40. You Learn by Living by Eleanor Roosevelt
41. Truth and Consequences by Keith Olbermann
42. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
43. Torchwood: Trace Memory by David Llewellyn

(The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy as #42 was completely unplanned but incredibly appropriate.)

July - 12 Books; 2,940 Pages
44. Doctor Who: Wetworld by Michael Michalowski
45. The White Mary by Kira Salak
46. Tan Lines by J. J. Salem
47. Aberrations by Penelope Przekop
48. Kaimira: The Sky Village by Monk and Nigel Ashland
49. What the Dormouse Said by Amy Gash
50. The Ruby in the Smoke by Phillip Pullman
51. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
52. Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
53. The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton
54. A Murder is Announced by Agatha Christie
55. The Silent Gondoliers by William Goldman

August - 9 Books; 2,777 Pages
56. First Daughter by Eric Van Lustbader
57. The Joy of Spooking: Fiendish Deeds by P.J. Bracegirdle
58. The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent
59. The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd
60. Coraline by Neil Gaiman
61. The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
62. One Bad Apple by Sheila Connolly
63. Freeze Frame by Heidi Ayarbe
64. Creepers by Joanne Dahme

September - 10 Books; 2943 Pages
65. The Keepsake by Tess Gerritsen
66. The Lost Diary of Don Juan by Douglas Carlton Abrams
67. Nefertiti by Michelle Moran
68. The Case of the Missing Marquess by Nancy Springer
69. Midwife of the Blue Ridge by Christine Blevins
70. Run by Ann Patchett
71. A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George
72. The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury
73. When We Were Romans by Matthew Kneale
74. Torchwood: The Official Magazine Yearbook by Titan Books

October - 14 Books; 2,252 Pages
75. Tethered by Amy MacKinnon
76. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
77. The Field Guide by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black
78. Ladybug Girl by David Soman and Jacky Davis
79. Torchwood: Pack Animals by Peter Angelides
80. Belly of the Whale by Linda Merlino
81. Hillary Rodham Clinton: Dreams Taking Flight by Kathleen Krull
82. Bats at the Library by Brian Lies
83. The Darker Side by Cody McFadyen
84. Doctor Who: Forever Autumn by Mark Morris
85. Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
86. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
87. The Seeing Stone by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black
88. Goodnight Goon by Michael Rex

November - 16 Books;
2,989 Pages
89. Listening for Lions by Gloria Whelan
90. Doctor Who: The Doctor Trap by Simon Messingham
91. My Dad, John McCain by Meghan McCain
92. Barack by Jonah Winter
93. Dead Ringer by Mary Burton
94. The Darkness Under the Water by Beth Kanell
95. Inside the Hub by Stephen James Walker
96. Birdie's Lighthouse by Deborah Hopkinson
97. The Lighthouse Children by Syd Hoff
98. Grit for the Oyster by Suzanne Woods Fisher, et al.
99. The House on Tradd Street by Karen White
100. Doctor Who: The Forever Trap by Dan Abnett
101. Doctor Who: Pest Control by Peter Anghelides
102. Billowing Sails by Debora M. Coty
103. Oblivious by Cyndia Depre
104. The Book of Names by D. Barkley Briggs

December - 21 Books; 3,916 pages
105. Blood Island by H. Terrell Griffin
106. Rowan of the Wood by Christine and Ethan Rose
107. Into the Mist by Patrick Carman
108. Santa Clawed by Rita Mae Brown
109. Doctor Who: Ghosts of India by Mark Morris
110. Doctor Who: Shining Darkness by Mark Michalowski
111. Kinnakeet and the Lighthouse by Jon, Valeska and Jean Fripp
112. Lighthouse Dog to the Rescue by Angeli Perrow
113. Sirius: The Dog Star by Angeli Perrow
114. Captain's Castaway by Angeli Perrow
115. Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos by R. L. LaFevers
116. Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott
117. Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out by The National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance
118. Doctor Who: Snowglobe 7 by Mike Tucker
119. Sisters of Scituate Light by Stephen Krensky
120. The Lighthouse Keeper's Lunch by Ronda and David Armitage
121. The Lighthouse Keeper's Breakfast by Ronda and David Armitage
122. The Light at Tern Rock by Julia L. Sauer
123. Torchwood: Skypoint by Phil Ford
124. Night of Flames by Douglas W. Jacobson
125. Mythology by Edith Hamilton

Guest Blogger: Karen Harrington, Author of Janeology

I'm very pleased to host Karen Harrington, author of Janeology, as the final guest blogger of 2008. She chose a very thought-provoking topic -- a writer's view of book reviews. Enjoy, and feel free to leave comments or questions for Karen!
-- Ruth

One Writer’s Review of Reviews
By Karen Harrington, author Janeology

I’m just going to say it – From this author’s point of view, there’s no such thing as a bad book review. Oh, there are negative ones. There are reviews that point out the plot holes, wooden dialogue, meandering story-line or poor editing. In fact, I will often read a book precisely because it got a bad review to see if I agree with the reviewer. So for my money, there are no bad reviews. If a writer has gone to the trouble of writing a book, chances are, she wants someone to read it. And from this exchange, there will be an opinion. So isn’t it better to have been read and reviewed and gain an opinion that not to have been read at all?

Still, being reviewed can have discouraging or even confusing effects on the writer. I offer into evidence, two reviews of my debut novel that came out within ten days of each other. Read through them and see if you can tell why I was confused.

Booklist - Issue: February 15, 2008
Janeology.
Harrington, Karen (Author)
College professor Tom Nelson has it bad in the wake of a devastating tragedy: the death of his son at the hands of his own wife, Jane, who evaded punishment by being declared insane. Tom, on the other hand, might not get off so easy. The prosecutors, believing that Tom should have known his wife’s tendencies and shielded his children, are charging him with “failure to protect.” As Tom wallows in his misery, his mother hires him an attorney, Dave Frontella, who adopts some unusual defense strategies, arguing that Jane’s genealogy is to blame for her problems and that no husband could have predicted her actions. He even goes so far as to hire for his defense team a woman with "retrocognition," that is, the ability to use a person’s belongings to re-create their past. Although the psychic-powers element might turn skeptical readers off, Harrington begins with a fascinating premise and develops it fully. In addition, Tom and his wife emerge as compelling, complexly developed individuals. This debut novel is as much a character study as a legal thriller.

Publishers Weekly, 2/25/2008
Janeology Karen Harrington. K√ľnati
Tom Nelson, a Texas academic, is devastated when his wife, Jane, drowns their two-year-old son and almost kills the boy's twin sister in Harrington's uneven debut. To Tom, Jane's violent act was inconceivable and impossible to predict, but after she's found not guilty by reason of insanity, he becomes the object of vilification and, eventually, criminal prosecution for child endangerment and neglect. The novel alternates between Tom's trial and flashbacks that include the efforts of Jane's clairvoyant relative, Mariah Hernandez, to recover the events in Jane's past and in her ancestors' lives that may have predisposed her to kill. Mariah's visions—flashbacks within flashbacks—distract from the main plot, while those interested in the legal issues may be put off by such amateurish mistakes as the prosecutor calling Tom to the stand in apparent ignorance of the Fifth Amendment. At her best in conveying Tom's despair, the author fails to do full justice to the complex and fraught subject of maternal filicide. (Apr.)

Okay, are you done? Great. Thanks for staying with me. As you can well read, these are two very different reviews. These were the first two reviews of my career, both from publications that can make or break an author’s debut. They are both highly sought after and less than 10% of all books published are reviewed in these journals each year. Still, even a "bad review" is tantamount to going home empty from the Academy Awards and thinking "Well, it was just nice to be nominated."

So I say, reviewers of the world, it was just nice to be reviewed.

I won’t say that the conflicting responses to my book didn’t give me pause. And of course, I started to give the negative review too much emphasis, as if this was a sign that I could not write and that the book shouldn’t be out in the world. I stewed over this until I remembered one very essential fact that I wish all authors who are bruised by reviews would remember: I was a reader (read: critic) before I was a writer and I haven’t liked every book I’ve ever read. The fact that I wrote a book in the first place gives me satisfaction. The fact that it was actually published and people have read it at all is a miracle of sweat and timing not unlike conception. And, if someone read it and didn’t like it, well, that’s fine, too. It was one opinion which may, or may not, turn out to be the majority. In fact, my advice to those with allergies to criticism (read: those who like to berate and argue with book reviewers) is to stay away from the whole writing business. The criticism will only make you like the artist who runs in front of his canvas and attempts to explain to the viewer what he should see. Who wants to be that guy? Instead, take the criticism – all of it – and go forward. It might even inspire you to do better. I know it has for this writer.

--

Karen Harrington is the author of Janeology, a psychological suspense about one man’s quest to understand the wife he thought he knew after she snaps and commits murder. Critique an excerpt of her novel at www.karenharringtonbooks.com – Visit her blog – www.scobberlotch.blogspot.com - All reviews heartily welcome.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Baker Street Challenge

I've been hooked on Sherlock Holmes ever since an 8th grade English assignment. With Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's 150th birthday, a new Mary Russell book, and a new Sherlock Holmes movie (although I must admit to some reservations regarding casting), 2009 is going to be a fun year for Sherlockians. There will be a lot of Holmes-related events in the coming months at Bookish Ruth. The first of these, The Baker Street Challenge, kicks off on January 1st. It's a year-long challenge and participants can join at any time before the end of 2009. If you're interested in participating, click here for more details.

I'll be reading seven books for the challenge:
  1. The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King
  2. A Monstrous Regiment of Women by Laurie R. King
  3. The Mysterious World of Sherlock Holmes by Bruce Wexler
  4. The Valley of Fear by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  5. The Science of Sherlock Holmes by E.J. Wagner
  6. The Case of the Left-Handed Lady by Nancy Springer
  7. The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets by Nancy Springer

The Tales of Beedle the Bard Winners

Many thanks to everyone who participated in the giveaway for The Tales of Beedle the Bard. This was by far the biggest contest I've had since I started blogging. I had a lot of fun reading through all the responses. It's no surprise, but there are a lot of self-identified Ravenclaws who love to read.

And now, for the winners:

Natasha from Maw Books
shelburns of Write for a Reader
MJ from Creative Madness

Congratulations to all three of you! Please e-mail me at ruth at bookishruth dot com with your address so I can send your books.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas
"It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child himself."
-- Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tuesday Thingers: Holiday Gift-Giving

Tuesday Thingers
This week's question:
Do you give books for the holidays? Did you participate in LT's SantaThing, either this year or last, or in other blogging gift exchanges? Were you happy with what you received?

This will be the last Tuesday Thingers hosted by Marie at The Boston Bibliophile. Wendi at Wendi's Book Corner will be taking over next week. Thanks, Marie, for strengthening the bonds of the LT blogging community. Thanks as well to Wendi for keeping this alive!

I love giving books as gifts, and they're my absolute favorite gift for children. I loved getting books as a kid and still have many books from my childhood Christmases.

This was my first year participating in SantaThing. I had a lot of fun looking through different libraries and offering suggestions. I'm not sure if I knew about it last year or not, but if I did, I didn't participate.

My SantaThing gift arrived yesterday, but I'm not opening it until tomorrow. It's a long-standing tradition in our house that no gifts are opened until Christmas Eve. On Christmas Eve, you can open one gift. I'm dying to know who my Secret Santa was, and, of course, what's in that cute little Amazon box...

Monday, December 22, 2008

Mailbox Monday: December 22nd

I missed posting my Mailbox Monday entry last week, so this is a double batch of bookish goodness. I received several new advance reading copies, a couple of great BookMooch finds, and two early Christmas gifts for myself during the past two weeks.


The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling
I went back and forth on my decision to splurge for the Collector's Edition of The Tales of Beedle the Bard several times since it went up for pre-order before firmly deciding that this would be my "big" Christmas gift to myself this year. I'm very happy that I went ahead and picked it up. The book is absolutely beautiful. It looks like it would be perfectly at home in the library at Hogwarts.

The Shining Darkness by Mark Michalowski
More Doctor Who goodness. (Have I mentioned that I love this show? I have? More than once, you say? Oh.) These books are always so much fun. I read this over the weekend and enjoyed it quite a bit. I'll have a review up soon.




Impossible by Nancy Werlin
I've read several great reviews for Impossible, so I was delighted to see a copy pop up on BookMooch a couple of weeks ago. I'll be focusing on middle grade and young adult fiction a lot in 2009, so Impossible will fit in nicely with my plans for this blog.



Tennyson by Lesley M. M. Blume
Jen Robinson's review of Tennyson by Lesley M. M. Blume sold me on this book. Another great middle grade fiction title that I'm looking forward to reading. Many thanks to Kelly at Random House for sending me a copy to review.




Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
Proof that watching television actually makes me read more: After a fascinating interview with author Malcolm Gladwell on The Rachel Maddow Show last month, I knew I needed to read Outliers. (Please don't get me started on how many books I've read because of Masterpiece Theater and Masterpiece Mystery!) I have a feeling I'll be looking for Blink and Tipping Point after I finish this book.


The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran
I won a signed copy of Michelle Moran's latest novel, The Heretic Queen, in a contest hosted by Meghan at Medieval Bookworm. I absolutely adored Michelle's first book, Nefertiti, so I'm thrilled to have a signed edition of The Heretic Queen. Thank you, Michelle and Meghan!



The Dracula Dossier by James Reese
Another great BookMooch find, courtesy of Suzi at Fashionista Piranha. It's been years since I've read Dracula by Bram Stoker, so I'm planning to re-read it in early 2009. (Can anyone share an opinion on The New Annonated Dracula?) The Dracula Dossier will be the perfect follow-up.



Simple Wishes by Lisa Dale
There's something wonderful about receiving a book with such a lively, summer-inspired cover in the midst of the cold Pennsylvania winter. If I could, I'd jump into this cover Mary Poppins style, just to savor the warmth of the sun and the fragrant aroma of the sunflowers.



Have any new books have come into your house this week?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

In Hindsight, It Makes Perfect Sense

Book with FlowerToday The New York Times is featuring an interesting essay by Henry Allford about strange items found inside books.

"We may never fully understand what prompts people to leave unusual objects inside books. I speak of the slice of fried bacon that the novelist Reynolds Price once found nestled within the pages of a volume in the Duke University library. I speak of the letter that ran: 'Do not write to me as Gail Edwards. They know me as Andrea Smith here,' which the playwright Mark O’Donnell found some years ago in a used paperback. I speak of any of those bizarre objects — scissors, a used Q-tip, a bullet, a baby’s tooth, drugs, pornography and 40 $1,000 bills — that have been discovered by the employees of secondhand bookstores, according to The Wall Street Journal and AbeBooks.com. Mystery surrounds these deposits like darkness."
-- Henry Allford, "You Never Know What You'll Find in a Book"

I am guilty of this rather frequently, although I've never stuffed a pair of scissors or a tooth into a book. (If someone wants to give me forty $1,000 bills, I would be more than happy to find a home for them in one of my books.) Despite a sizable collection of bookmarks, I will often grab whatever is most convenient to mark my place in a book. Usually it's a receipt, a greeting card or a photograph, but occasionally I'll use something a little more unusual or important.

This past summer, my debit card went missing. After a minor identity theft freak-out, I discovered that there were no questionable charges on my account, so I was fairly certain that I had lost the card somewhere in my house. After a thorough search of the house, I had the bank cancel my card and I received a new card a few days later. I figured that the original card would turn up eventually, but I gave it little thought after the hassle of switching my recurring payments over to the new card was completed.

Last week I pulled my copy of The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King from its shelf, and nearly laughed myself silly when my debit card came tumbling out of it. It had been marking one of my favorite passages -- one that I had typed up and sent to a friend over the summer. I frequently keep my wallet by the computer for online purchases, and I suppose I used my debit card as an impromptu bookmark that day.

Note to Self: Next time you lose something, search your books first.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tuesday Thingers: Home Sweet Home

This week's question:
The LT Home Page feature. How are you liking it? Or not? Do you go here when you log into LT or do you use your profile page more?

I wasn't sure about the Home Page feature when it was launched, but I absolutely love it now. I love being able to see everything at a glance, and I use it each time I log into LT. I especially like the Connections and Recently Added features. (Connections because I'm inherently curious and Recently Added because I'm a little more forgetful than I'd like to admit.)

Marie has announced that after next week, Tuesday Thingers will have a new host. I'd like to take a moment to say thanks, Marie, for all your hard work and creativity!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Review: The Book of Names by D. Barkley Briggs

Haydn and Ethan Barlow lost their mother to cancer a year ago. Both boys are still struggling to come to terms with life without her. After their mother’s death, their father moved the teen boys and their 9-year-old twin brothers to a secluded farm in Newland, Missouri. While clearing a large briar patch at the edge of their property, Haydn and Ethan discover an ancient stone arch covered with mysterious runes. The arch acts as a portal between worlds. Ethan and Haydn find themselves transported to Karac Tor, a world in crisis.

In Karac Tor, a person’s name is their greatest treasure. The names and deeds of each person who will ever live in Karac Tor are recorded in the Book of Names, but recently names have been disappearing from the book. Children from all over Karac Tor have gone missing – simply vanishing into the night.

The boys just want to find a way home, but some in Karac Tor believe that Hadyn and Ethan are an answer to prayer; that the boys are Champions to deliver them from the growing evil. The brothers quickly find themselves pursued by the evil forces that they’re being asked to fight.

The Book of Names starts out rather sluggishly, but once Hadyn and Ethan arrive in Karac Tor, the book is difficult to put down. Ethan and Hadyn are both extremely likeable and believable characters. They’re very scared when they arrive in Karac Tor, and I found this to be refreshing. Neither brother jumps right into a hero’s role. They’re regular teenagers who find themselves in extraordinary circumstances, and their reaction to this is quite appropriate.

I thought that the book peaked a little too soon. There is a very exciting battle towards the end of the book, and this is then followed by several chapters of traveling. While the book ultimately ends with a great cliffhanger, I felt the lull in between disrupted the flow of the story a little.

The Book of Names is provides a promising start for this new young adult fantasy series. It also conveys an excellent underlying Christian message, but at no time does it feel preachy. This would be an ideal choice for teenage boys, as they will probably relate to one or both of the main characters.

Rating: 8/10.

Buy The Book of Names:
Indiebound | Powell's | Amazon

Sunday Salon: 6 Month Blog Anniversary

Last night, I was looking through my archives for a review and I was surprised to learn that today is the six month anniversary for Bookish Ruth. (Yes, the picture to the right is me at 6 months old. It seemed appropriate.) It seems like just yesterday when I tentatively stepped foot into the blogosphere. At the same time, it also seems so much longer than just six months -- in a good way. I've had the opportunity to interact with some of my favorite authors, develop growing friendships with other book lovers, and add a new, enriching dimension to my reading.

When I started Bookish Ruth, I was writing for myself. I didn't think anyone else would be interested in my opinion about the books I'd read. I just wanted to get more out of my reading experience. I was reading a lot but found that a few months after finishing a book, I had difficulty remembering what I thought about it, other than the vague feeling of like or dislike. So the blog was born, and much to my surprise, I soon found that I had readers.

While I probably would have kept at this even if I had been the only person to read my reviews, meeting other readers and interacting with the book blogging community has been a wonderful experience for me. I've discovered so many great books and new authors that I probably wouldn't know about if it hadn't been for other review blogs.

To celebrate my sixth month anniversary, I've decided to add two more copies of The Tales of Beedle the Bard to my giveaway, for a total of three copies to be given away on December 18, 2008.

Do you have a blogging milestone coming up? How has blogging impacted your reading?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Interview with Christine Rose, Co-Author of Rowan of the Wood

I'm delighted to welcome Christine Rose to Bookish Ruth. Christine co-wrote Rowan of the Wood with her husband, Ethan. Be sure to check out their site for great contests, and please feel free to leave comments and questions for Christine and Ethan. They will both be available to answer your questions today and tomorrow.

What inspired the two of you to write Rowan of the Wood?

It really is a culmination of a lifetime of inspiration. I had the idea after spending a very magical Christmas with my nephews. They were really into Harry Potter and Batman/Spiderman, so I started thinking about what made those characters so internationally loved... and then it hit me: a magical superhero whose ultimate alterego is a young boy.

Writers are often told to write what they know. Both of you drew upon your life experiences with this book. Could you tell us a little about that?

Cullen is loosely based on Ethan's childhood. He was a ward of the court and lived in foster care in the redwood forest, just like Cullen does. However, that's pretty much where the similarities end. The characters took on a life of their own.

Could you describe your writing process? Do you think it was easier or more challenging to co-write with your spouse than it would have been to write a book with someone else?

It was much easier writing with my spouse than it would've been with anyone else. I'm not easy to deal with, and Ethan is infinitely supportive and patient. We worked very well together, and we truly respect each other's input. The story and characters were originally mine, so if there was ever a difference of opinion or vision, it deferred to my vision. Ethan brought so much to the project, and it certainly wouldn't be as good of a book without him. As for our writing process, I hammered out the first draft in 30 days (after the story swam around in my head for about a year), and then Ethan took the manuscript and embellished my story. I took it back for the 3rd draft and did the same: embellishing and editing, etc... after the fourth or fifth draft, we sat down together and read it cover to cover making more detailed changes.

Rowan of the Wood features many great characters, but I was especially fond Cullen's blind friend April. Did you need to do any special research in order to write a blind character?

I am rather empathic in nature, and when I'm in my writing zone, I can begin to feel the characters just through my imagination. There certainly was some research done on what it's like to be blind. Since I'm so immersed in the internet, the biggest question came after the book was written while I was creating the character blogs. I was doing it as if it were an English assignment from Mrs. MacFey at first, and then it dawned on me that April couldn't participate in the blog! It really opened up a lot of questions that we'll be dealing with in future books.

If Rowan of the Wood were made into a film, who could you see playing Rowan, Cullen and Fiana?

Oh! I'm so happy you asked this! My dream for Rowan is the magnificent Scottish actor Kevin McKidd! While writing the character, I had James Marsters (Buffy's Spike) in mind for Rowan, but after I found Kevin through Rome, I knew I had found my true Rowan. Cullen will be an unknown actor, and as for Fiana, my illustrator Ia Layadi thinks that Rachel Weiss would make a perfect Fiana. I think she would be great as well.

Books are a big part of Cullen's life. What are some of the books you've read and enjoyed recently? Feel free to recommend old favorites as well.

I've recently read BREAKING DAWN, but I can't say I really enjoyed it. I couldn't even finish it. I liked the first three books much better. The series as a whole is a beautiful love story. Of course I adore the Harry Potter series. I really enjoyed the first half of Laurel K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series, but the second half really became too erotic for me. It was more like reading porn, and that's just not my cup o' tea. I'm looking forward to reading THE HOST, the Vampire Diaries, and DEAD UNTIL DARK. I love the vampires! There are so many great books out that I'm wanting to read. I look forward to going on tour in January, as it will force me away from the computer and give me more time to read and write!

Ethan is currently reading SINGER FROM THE SEA by Sheri S. Tepper. She's one of his favorite authors along with Tove Jansson and Terry Pratchett.

Will we be seeing more of Rowan and Cullen in future books? What's your next project?

You absolutely will be seeing much more of Rowan and Cullen in future books. ROWAN OF THE WOOD is the first in a series of five books. We're halfway through writing the second which is currently titled WITCH ON THE WATER, but that might change by the time it's published. In the second book we're introducing a new adult character as an alternate love interest for Mrs. MacFey, and we'll also be meeting a new teen character that could really set things ablaze!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Mailbox Monday: December 8th

I didn't receive any new books the week before last (hence the lack of a Mailbox Monday post last week), but this past week definitely made up for it. Honestly, it was like Christmas came early. I received nine books for review, and one book that I purchased as early Christmas gift for myself.

Rowan of the Wood by Christine and Ethan Rose
I'm participating in Christine and Ethan's blog tour for their YA fantasy novel, Rowan of the Wood. Click here for an earlier post with more information about the book. Be sure to stop by tomorrow for an interview with Christine Rose.

Mistress Shakespeare by Karen Harper
Was Anne Whateley simply a clerical error, or did William Shakespeare love someone other than Anne Hathaway? The speculation over the Shakespeare marriage licenses -- one issued the day after the other, each naming a different woman -- has always interested me, so I'm eager to dive into this one. This will be a rare foray into Elizabethan historical fiction for me. Most of the historical fiction I read is set in either Victorian England or colonial America. It's been a long time since I've read a book about the Tudors -- too long, probably.

Doctor Who: The Writer's Tale by Russell T. Davies
If you're buying gifts for a Doctor Who fan this holiday season, buy them this book. Trust me, you couldn't pick a better gift. When my copy arrived, I meant to give it a quick look and then pick it up again later in the day. I ended up spending a good hour completely oblivious to the outside world as I paged through this book. It's wonderful. Wonderfully honest and personal. It's also massive -- over 500 pages -- so I will be a very happy Who fan for quite some time.

The Last Nightingale by Anthony Flacco
A few weeks ago, I posted part of my Christmas wish list. One of the books I mentioned was The Last Nightingale by Anthony Flacco, a suspense novel that takes place during the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Within minutes of my post, Mr. Flacco's literary agent had arranged for me to receive signed copies of not only The Last Nightingale...

The Hidden Man by Anthony Flacco
...but also a copy of Anthony Flacco's newest novel, The Hidden Man. This book takes place ten years later and features the same characters as The Last Nightingale. Many thanks to Sharlene Martin and Anthony Flacco for generosity.

White Christmas Pie by Wanda E. Brunstetter
I've lived near Amish Country all of my life, but have read very little in the way of Amish fiction. I'm looking forward to including White Christmas Pie in my holiday reading this year. (Is it just me, or is December absolutely flying by?)


Rain Song by Alice J. Wisler
This book caught my attention a few months ago when it was offered as part of the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program. I wasn't picked for this book, so I was very pleased to be able to get a review copy from another source. I think the cover ranks as one of my favorites for the year. It's simple, yet elegant.


Until We Reach Home by Lynn Austin
The reviews of Until We Reach Home on Amazon are positively glowing. I saw quite a few positive reviews in the blogosphere when this toured with the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance as well. The book follows three Swedish orphans who immigrate to America just before the turn of the twentieth century. This one looks very promising.

The Distant Shore by Debora M. Coty
I enjoyed Grit for the Oyster so I'm very pleased to be reading more of Debora's work. Billowing Sails, the sequel to The Distant Shore, comes out next week. I read an ARC of Billowing Sails first and loved it. It will be fun to go back and see how the story got its start. (Look for my review of Billowing Sails soon.)

Arms of Deliverance by Tricia Goyer
I love stories set during World War II, but I don't think I've ever read any Christian fiction set in that time period. Tricia has recently launched a wonderful campaign to keep WWII veterans' stories alive. Check it out here.


So, to sum up: I have a lot of great reading ahead of me and I'm probably responsible for giving our mailman a hernia.

What showed up in your mailbox this week?