Monday, April 23, 2012


I'm happy to announce our the winner of my first giveaway on this blog! Jenni Merrit. 

Jenni is a friend of mine, and an incredibly talented woman! She's an author, a blogger, a photographer, and a Mommy. I'm not sure how she juggles it all, but she does an amazing job at it! Make sure you visit her main blog, her photography blog (the typewriter picture below is hers), and if you haven't read it yet, go buy her book Prison Nation! It's an awesome book.

Didn't win this time? Don't worry about it! I have more reviews planned for the upcoming months, including some hand crafted jewelry, book marks, and of course, some books!

~ Ruthie ~

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Noticing a Trend - ROW80 update

I just realized that I have mentioned ROW80 several times this round...and never explained it. ROW80 is a writing challenge that is designed around the fact that we are each at different places in our writing and lives, and lets each participant set their own goals accordingly! I think it's fantastic because I'm the kind who needs some sort of outside accountability in order to get anything done, but I also need to be able to set my own goals when it comes to writing and life. This gives me the chance to have both of these key ingredients in one.

You can find more information about ROW80 on their page and I encourage you to join if you want a great way to be held accountable to your goals. They are a wonderful group and nobody minds if you join in mid-round, so it doesn't matter that we are already a few weeks in!

Now on to my goals. I'm not going to go through each of them one by one today like I usually do, simply because there isn't much to report since Wednesday. This is that trend I mentioned in my blog title. I seem to have a habit of starting out strong and finishing weak. I know this week part of the problem was that I ended up spending hours working on a laptop my hubby brought home before we realized that we just weren't going to be able to fix it's fatal flaw. This was rather depressing because my laptop is edging towards antique status, but the upside is that I finally organized all my files, deleted files and programs that are no longer needed, and I'm positive that everything important is backed up now!

Because I was working on the computer stuff (and a few other things that came up) I didn't get much else done in the latter half of the week, but I'm ok with that, because at least I was being productive! My overarching goal for this week is going to be to stay consistent through out the week if at all possible.

The one thing I did really well with this week was commenting on other blogs! I not only visited some bloggers I haven't checked in with in awhile, I also visited blogs almost every day. I think I'm finally getting into a routine, and that's making me happy! I'd really like to build readership to this blog and I know that is one of the ways to do it. I'm also interested in joining in on some blog hops, so if you know of any good ones coming up just let me know!

It's the last day to enter to win the book Hush Money by Chuck Greaves, so if you haven't already, make sure you go visit the post and enter! It's quick and easy and I'd really love to have more entries before it closes.

~ Ruthie ~

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Creative Nudge #9 - Taste

 Before I get started on the Creative Nudge for today I just wanted to let you know there is only one day left to win the above book!! Hush Money was a great read that reminds me of John Grisham's work, only written with a younger and edgier tone. Go enter to win it!  There are very few entries so far so you have a good chance of being the winner.

Now onto today's Creative Nudge! As I explained last week, I am going to spend the next few weeks focusing on the different senses as a device to help add descriptive flavor to my writing, and hopefully yours! I'll be posting what I write up (this is what I wrote for the smell prompt) and I would love to read what you have to write as well.

Isn't that picture cute? It's cake....but it sure looks like a cup of coffee! Perfect picture to start out my discussion of taste. Make sure you check out the artist. 

I decided to follow smell up with taste because the two are very connected, in fact 80% of what you taste is because of the smell, which explains why food tastes so bland when you have a cold and your nose is all plugged up.

When I think of taste I primarily think of food, which is normal, there aren't a lot of other things that adults taste, although tooth paste and the lips of a significant other come to mind. Food is a very important part of most cultures, and I've always found it fascinating that people have such a wide variety of interests in food, and that what I think of as comfort food you might find completely gross.

Here's some fun facts about taste thanks to this site and this site:

  • Hypogeusia is a diminished sense of taste. 
  • Dysgeusia is a persistent taste, usually an unpleasant one.
  • What we perceive as "flavor" is actually a combination of smell, taste, spiciness, temperature, and texture. So yes, it really does taste better cold, or hot, or whatever. Goldilocks knew what she was talking about!
  • That "taste" I mentioned in the last fact? It is made of up of taste groups sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami (a savory taste).
  • You know those bumps on your tongue? Those aren't your taste buds, rather, they contain your taste buds, and each one has an average of 6 taste buds inside it. 
  • The average adult has between 2,000 and 10,000 taste buds, "super tasters" have even more!
  • Your flavor preferences change over time and can be very affected by social queues. For example, if the first time you see someone eat something they react badly, you are less likely to like the taste of it yourself.

So how does the Creative Nudge work? Read on...

The Creative Nudge:
Theme: The sense of taste.
Genre: Any
Other requirements: Try to make the sense of taste central to whatever you write!

How it Works:
Take a few minutes to write a short response (any format or genre) to the prompt.
Post it on your blog.
Come back here and leave me a link in the comments so I can read it!
I'll post my own response on Tuesday for you to read.
Check back next Saturday for another Creative Nudge!

Need some ideas to get you started?

1. Write about your favorite food and a memory associated with it.
2. What's the worst thing you've ever tasted? Write about it!
3. Send your main character to a restaurant. What would they order? What do they think about the food? How does it make them feel? 
4. Go to a World Food Store, pick something you've never tasted, try to describe it.
5. Pretend to describe your favorite dish to someone totally unfamiliar with the cuisine. So describe macaroni and cheese to an African tribesman. Or Thai food to someone who grew up on Southern home cooking.
6. Describe a taste none-food related. Someone's lips, medicine, toothpaste, or even blood if you write about vampires!

Have fun!
~ Ruthie ~

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Yellow Room Conspiracy by Peter Dickinson - Book Review!

Don't forget to enter my Giveaway for a Free Book!

Peter Dickinson is one of Britain's most celebrated mystery authors, and it shows. In "The Yellow Room Conspiracy" we find a tale as complex and confusing as anything Agatha Christie or Sir. Arthur Conan Doyle ever wrote. 

This mystery is written in the form of a memoir written by two of the main characters in the mystery. Through their notes about the events they lived through we learn that Paul and Lucy are now elderly. Lucy is rapidly succumbing to a disease that sounds a lot like Parkinson's, although it's never actually named, and she finally asks Paul about what happened when they were much younger. The police had never solved the murder, and they have lived and loved for years each assuming they knew what happened, and coming to different conclusions.

As they individually recount their memories of the events leading up to the murder of Gerry, we are taking deep inside their lives; through the deprivations of World War II, inside Lucy's family of five sisters, and their hopes, dreams, and loves. 

I found the story enthralling. Dickinson does a good job of explaining how each of the characters in his large cast behaved and thought, and how they changed over time. The actual murder doesn't take place until nearly the end of the book, and by that time the motivations and confusion behind who done it, is both clear and confusing. In the end Lucy shares with us what she thinks really happened, and while she says it with certainty, the reader is left wondering if she's right or if there is yet another conclusion that we'll never know

~ Ruthie ~

Ps. Love a good mystery? The book I'm currently giving away is a great one! 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Hey, Hey Good Lookin' - Whatcha Got Cookin'?

One of my goals right now is to cook more often, and so when I sat down to write this goals post the only I could come up with was this song. So of course I had to look it up...

Bring back memories for anyone? I'm not that old (not calling you old, calling me young :P) but my Daddy used to ask my Mom that question all the time, and even sing from time to time!

So how am I doing on my goals? Well...

1. Five hours editing a week. I'm at 3:10 right now! I'm very happy with that. I'm actually ahead of the game! Granted, it's only by 10 minutes, but I was behind schedule last week, and never reached my goal, so this is super fantastic.

2. Blog on a regular basis. Monday: Giveaway post (go enter!), Tuesday: Creative Writing Post, Today: your reading it!

3. Write book reviews and post on Four so far! I'm not caught up yet, but at least I'm up to writing about the books I read this month! One of the reviews is in Monday's post... in fact it's the book I'm giving away! (hint, hint)

4. Read and comment on at least 5 other blogs. Check!

1. Put more variety in our diets. That above picture is last nights dinner. Left over burrito meat cooked up with some scrambled eggs and cheese, topped in salsa and olives, served on a tortilla (and rolled up, but this is prettier)! Super yummy. Tonight's dinner was a newish recipe (old favorite ingredients, new combination) but of course I forgot to take a picture of that!

2. Clean/Organize the house. I cleaned! A little bit. The house is still a mess in general, but the bathroom is clean! And a little bit of the mess is gone.

3. Exercise! I've been doing more stretching, and the cleaning is counting as exercise this week. Believe me, my knees are feeling it.

4. Take more pictures. I think the above picture of dinner is the only picture of any worth I've taken this week so far (the one's of my husband when I was picking on him don't count) but hey, that's one good picture. I'll take it.

See that pretty picture? Ok, so maybe it doesn't look so pretty to everyone else. Especially since I have gone through and blurred the text in the center. But that my friends, is the ready to go file for the second draft of Misfits!


I finally finished the overly long process of taking all the changes I made on the paper copy and putting them in the new digital copy. This required lots of copy and pasting text, putting it in a different order (in many cases) than I wrote it, typing up the outline I created, typing notes into the text and highlighting them, and lastly, making sure all my references pages were in the new work-from file. Oh and for the heck of it I alphabetized, color coded, and labeled everything.

My OCD side was very happy when I was done.

It took way longer to do all this than I expected, but I figured out some more things about my story along the way, and I know the next phases of the the process are going to be much easier because of this phase, so I'm happy.

So what is next? Well I was going to tell you rewriting is next, but I realized yesterday that I need to do some more world building and character building before I tackle the rewrite. I started in on that today, and I'm not sure how long it's going to take me, but I know the book will be better for it in the end, so I press on!

How is your writing going?
~ Ruthie ~

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Way the World Smells

Like free books? Check out my giveaway!

The following piece is my response to the Creative Nudge I posted on Saturday - taking the sense of smell and making it central to a short piece. I used the characters in my current WIP and wrote a totally new scene for them, that I might just include somewhere in the book (or unwritten sequel).

“How does the world smell to you Levi?”

Levi looked up at Alina from his bowl of Keava’s stew, and just stared, confused, with out a clue how to respond to this strange question.

Seeing his confusion Alina tried again, “I mean, I know you are a Wolf, and that Wolves are very scent orientated, and I’ve noticed that even when you are shape-shifted into human form you tend to sniff at things. For instance, you just took a deep whiff of that stew you’re holding, and while I do that too because Keava’s stew is fantastic, I’m just wondering what the world smells like to you.

“Like … the world?” Levi wasn’t trying to make a joke, he still was completely lost, and unsure of what Alina was trying to get out of him. She asked the strangest questions sometimes, and right now he’d rather just go back to his bowl of stew.

“Well, yeah, of course, but what does that smell like? Does it smell different when you are a Wolf versus when you are in human form?”


“Really? I’ve always wondered about that, what stays the same when you shape change that is.” Alina wanted to figure out her friend, well, honestly, she wanted to figure out everything, but right now she was focused on this strange, black haired Wolf that fate had thrown her together with.

Levi sighed and put down his stew. “My abilities mostly stay the same, except I’m not as strong as a human. I can still see everything through scent, hear better than you can although not quite as good as I can as a wolf, and use my mental abilities of course.”

Alina rolled her eyes. “I knew you could use your telekinesis and telepathy, and those make sense to me, it’s just seems strange that your physical abilities change so little.”

“Well think of it this way, I’m in charge of the shape change, it’s not like I’m casting some spell that does the work for me. I mean yeah, there is a spell involved, but I still have to put the intent into forming the shape. So what can stay the same, and that gives me an advantage, does.”

“Ah, that makes sense.” Alina looked thoughtful, “Do you think you could ever teach someone else to shape-shift?”

Levi just shook his head.

“Why not?”

“I’m not that good of a teacher!”

Alina laughed, thinking he was wrong about that, but letting it rest for now, she still wanted an answer to her earlier question. “So what does the world smell like to you?”

“You aren’t going to give that up are you?”


“It smells… like information. I can tell that you and Keava were collecting herbs earlier because your clothes still smell like rue and lavender, and I could tell you what spices Keava used in the stew, and that there was a herd of deer through this clearing earlier. The fire smells like a bouquet of the different woods we used in building it, I can smell the different flowers growing around us, and a whole bunch more.” Levi ended awkwardly, not sure if this is what she wanted to hear, but then, looking back up at her and seeing the wonder on her face, deciding that it was.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Giveaway - Hush Money by Chuck Greaves (with review)

I received “Hush Money” by Chuck Greaves as a part of the come giveaway program. I received an ARC copy (Advanced Reader’s Copy) which typically means that not everything about the book is finalized, typically things like the cover. I hope this is the cover it’s published with though, because I think it does a great job of fitting the story inside!

Now I know that most of the books that I talk about on my blog (or my Good Reads account) are fantasies, but I’ve been reading mysteries for a lot longer, and I still really enjoy picking them up from time to time. “Hush Money” reminded me of John Grisham’s work, a mix of the law, mystery, and thrilling action. In fact, this biggest difference from Grisham’s work is that “Hush Money” is written with a slightly younger feel to it.

Normally socialite Sydney Everett’s insurance claims would be handled by Jared Henley, a lawyer who only has his position because his Daddy is was one of the people who started the firm, and he’s therefore had everything handed to him on a plate. Jared seems to be allergic to work though, and since he’s off doing who knows what, the file for Sydney’s dead show horse is handed to Jack MacTaggart. There’s no love lost between Jack and Jared, but Jack doesn’t mind handling the case too much. Well at least not until he’s framed for murder.

What starts out as an apparent equine death from natural causes soon spirals into multiple murders, cover ups, and attempts on Jack’s life. He handles it all with a wry look at life that often left me chuckling, and a “never give up” attitude that is probably the only reason he ever gets to the bottom of the whole mess. Especially considering the cop who is investigating the murders hates him.

I’d give this book a solid 4 stars. It’s a good mystery that kept me guessing the whole way through, and I really enjoy it when I don’t see the solution coming from chapters in advance! I’d definitely recommend it to any mystery lover, and in fact I’m going to give away my copy to one lucky blog reader! Just use Rafflecopter below to earn multiple entries. Winner will be announced in next Monday's blog post.

*Note* I received this copy for free through, I am not affiliated with Good Reads, and all they request as part of the program is that you write an honest review.

~ Ruthie ~

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Starting Strong and Finishing Weak

Cool house I see regularly :)

Time for a goals check in! How did I do this week? Well the title of the blog post says it all, I started strong and finished weak...

Writing Goals:

1. 5 Hours Editing: I haven't made any progress on this since Wednesday so I'm finishing out the week at 1:30. 

2. Blog Consistently: Monday - Setting the Goals; Tuesday - Updated my blog and posted; Wednesday - Midweek Goals Check-in; Thursday - None (but it's a day I'm allowed to skip if not inspired); Friday - Book Review; Saturday - Creative Nudge (go participate!); Sunday - this post! I'm really happy that I've managed to stay so consistent this week with blogging, especially because I've had really low focus this week.

3. Continue to write and post book reviews on - 2 book reviews written, not enough, I'm really behind on these! 

4. I'm adding one - I need to visit and comment on at least 5 blogs every time I post a blog post. We'll see how it goes doing so this week! 

Awesome re-purposed type-writer - check out the source!
Life Goals:
1. Put more variety in our diet, try new recipe's and cook more often - I didn't do as well as I wanted on this one as I wanted, but I still did really good! I tried two new recipes this week (I wanted to try a third but ran out of steam) and I only fell back on making sandwiches one night this week. Woohoo!

2. Clean/Organize the house - I completely failed at this goal, but it was more important to take care of myself emotionally this week, so I'm ok with that.

3. Exercise! Not as consistent as I'd like, but I did do quite a bit this week, so I'm happy! Plus my physical therapist was really happy with my progress when we met on Monday, so that makes me really happy.

4. Take more pictures - This is another goal I did really good the first part of the week and not the second half, oh well, tomorrow is another day!

I'm a sucker for soundtracks - picked up Coyote Ugly's soundtrack this week for $5 - and listening to it right now!

So as you can tell if you actually read through all of that - it was a mixed week. I would have liked to do better, but like I said in one section, I needed to take care of myself emotionally this week, so I'm ok with not meeting at all my goals. I'm just happy I had enough presence of mind to meet any of them! I'll keep trying, one day at a time, and we'll see what this next week holds. I know one thing it'll definitely hold a giveaway, so check back for that tomorrow! 

~ Ruthie ~

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Creative Nudge #8 - Smell

(I love the smell of coffee!)

Senses are what allow us to connect with the world around us, and with our own bodies. Lose just one of those sense and the world loses some of it's richness, and might even become very challenging, just think about what would happen if you permanently lost your sense of balance! As writers our goal is to create a rich environment for our readers, without drowning them in detail of course. One of the ways we can do that is by providing sensory descriptions.

Over the next few weeks I'm going to do a series of Creative Nudges based on the different senses. I'll start with the traditional five (smell, touch, hearing, sight, and taste) and move on to some that we all know about but don't hear as much in school, such as balance and temperature.

Did you know that the sens of smell is scientifically referred to as Olfaction? Or that an inability to smell is called Anosmia? Here's some other fun facts about the sense of smell - thanks to the Sense of Smell Institute. Who would of guessed such a thing even existed...?

  • A year later - people will still recall smells with 65% accuracy.
  • Most of the things that we smell fly "under the radar," that is, we aren't aware of them.
  • Our sense of smell is directional, which is probably why we have the expression "follow your nose."
  • The sense of smell is responsible for about 80% of what we taste.
  • The average human can smell 10,000 different scents. Dogs can smell about 20 times that.
  • Everybody perceives scent differently. So what I think smells fantastic you might think utterly stinks.
  • Every single person smells different, and this scent is always changing based on things like what we have eaten, our mood, and even the weather!

Scent also has a powerful impact on mood and memory, which is why it is used so commonly in aroma therapy, and why I think it is very important to include (when appropriate) in writing. When you include this sense in your writing you have created opportunities to evoke powerful connections in the minds of your reader, so don't forget to use it! 

The Creative Nudge
Theme: The Sense of Smell
Genre: Any
Other requirements: Try to make the sense of smell an integral part of whatever you are writing.

How it Works
Take a few minutes to write up a short story based on the prompt.
Post it on your blog.
Come back here and leave me a link in the comments so I can read it!
I'll post my own response on Tuesday.

Stuck? Here's a few ideas to get you started!

1. Describe your favorite scent and a memory it brings.
2. Kidnap, blindfold, and stuff ear plugs into your character's ears and have them guess where they are at based on the smell alone.
3. Describe a smell you hate.
4. Write a scene based on the inability to smell (be it a temporary thing or more permanent condition).
5. Put your character in a situation where they are assaulted by new smells.

And of course - have fun!

~ Ruthie ~

Ps. My first giveaway is coming on Monday - you don't want to miss it!

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde - Book Review

Jasper Fforde is the author of the bestselling Thursday Next series, and now, in this book, he starts a new series, Nursery Crime. If you haven’t read his Thursday Next series, and love the old classics, you’ll love that series. It starts with The Eyre Affair and I highly recommend it! I was able to really enjoy it even though I haven’t read all of the classics he references in the series (although I have read a pretty big chunk of them).

If you aren’t a fan of the classics, but still enjoy literary humor, then Ffordes new series is perfect for you. Its based in the same alternate England as his Thursday Next series, but instead of meeting characters from classics like Jane Eyre, we get to meet people from the nursery rhymes we grew up with.

Jack Spratt is the head of the Nursery Crime Division in Reading, England. If the crime involves a nursery rhyme, he’s the one who investigates it, along with his understaffed motley crew of a department. Now you might think that these type of crimes would be rare, but all your old favorites have lives in the real world, although they usually don’t realize that they are from nursery rhymes. In fact neither Jack Spratt himself, nor his new partner Mary Mary, realize that they have their origins in nursery rhymes, despite the fact that they investigate them.

In The Big Over Easy Jack Spratt and Mary Mary are called on to solve the murder of Humpty Dumpty. Mary is new to the Nursery Crime Division (NCD) and it’s all still a bit strange to her, and she couldn’t have had that much stranger of a first case to tackle! Not that it seems that way at first, when you find an egg shattered at the base of a wall the apparent cause of death would seem to be death by falling right? Then they find the bullet hole. Then, over the course of the investigation, multiple people come forward to confess, each convinced they really did it, and things just get stranger from there.

I give this book 5 out of 5 cups of coffee. I was laughing the whole way through and I love how Fforde brings our old friends from nursery rhymes to life, and gives them a whole new twist! It was also fun to see some characters from his other series get mentioned and one even plays a pivotal part. I can hardly wait to read the next book!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Skyrim Anyone?

I have a confession to make - one of the many things that distracts me from writing lately is Skyrim! My brother-in-law bought it for us last week and I've been a bit addicted. Nowhere near as much as my husband though. Of course since we only have one gaming-capable computer I only play when he's at work, so that could be part of it. I'm doing my best to be a good girl though. I do honestly need some downtime right now because I've got a lot I'm working through emotionally, but I'm making sure I get some writing time too!

Here's where I'm at on my goals for this week so far:

Writing Goals:

1. Five Hours Editing a Week (Ideally an hr a day M-F) Currently at an hour and a half of editing. Not quite the 2-3 hr mark I'd like to be at, but considering I had no time to write at all on Monday (other than getting my blog post up) and didn't really sleep Monday night so I was exhausted Tuesday... Well, I'm happy with where I'm at!

2. Blog on a regular basis:
Monday - Posted about these goals
Tuesday - Finally updated my blog (long over due) and posted about it.
Today - Duh :P

3. Continue to write and post reviews both here and on - Two book reviews done!

Life Goals:

1. Put more variety in our diets, try new recipes and cook more often. Done! 

2. Clean/Organize the house. First get things organized, then get on top of doing weekly chores. No progress.

3. Exercise! I actually have really good news on this front! I saw my physical therapist for the first time in a month and she was really happy about my progress. Of course this means she gave me harder exercises ... which are very uncomfortable for now... but it's still good to hear.

4. Take more pictures. Done!

All in all I'm happy with where I'm at right now at the mid-week point. I feel like I'm making good progress on most things, and considering other factors in life the last few days, I'm ok with not making progress in other areas.

Best of all? I'm very, very close to starting re-writes of Misfits! In fact, if all goes according to plan I should be starting tomorrow or Friday on the rewrites. Yay! I'm both excited and a little nervous...

How are you doing with your goals?

~ Ruthie ~ 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Just a quick post today - I wanted to let you know that all the various pages at the top of this blog (like the Reviews page) are finally up to date! With how crazy life has been these last few months it's been all I could do just to get blog posts up and review books, so updating the various extra pages was overlooked. They looked vary sad and barren, but they are now chock full of all the appropriate links!

You might notice on the Books Read page that the Good Reads goal bar and the actual list of books show different numbers. This happens whenever I fall behind on my reviews - like right now! I still have books from last month to write up reviews on, and I'm already four books (almost five) into this month. Oops. I'm working on catching up though, so hopefully the numbers will be at least close to matching very, very soon.

Have you ever checked out I should do a web-site review on it (I'll make that a goal for next week) but for now let me just say it's an awesome site for readers! I post reviews on there for nearly every  book I read, way more than I end up sharing on the blog, so if you want to find out about any of the books on my Read list, but haven't seen them on the blog, you can find the reviews there! Feel free to friend me over there as well, I'd love to know what your reading as well.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have books to review, editing to do, and, um, my taxes >_> (can I just say oops again?)

~ Ruthie ~

Monday, April 9, 2012

Can't Focus - But Still Setting Goals

Doesn't that look yummy? Among the many things going on in my life right now I'm trying to cook more. Tonight's successful experiment was a Boboli crust, Jack Daniel's BBQ sauce, chicken (fried up using a little pan spray, garlic, and oregano), minced garlic, diced green onions, and diced red onions. I love it! Mo even gave his approval, although he said he'd prefer a garlic alfredo sauce to a bbq.

Anywho... As you may have noticed from my sporadic posts lately, I'm having an awfully hard time focusing lately. There's some life stuff that has just made it hard to stay focused, and unfortunately there's nothing I can do about the "stuff" except give it time. What I can do is work on how it's affecting me.

For now, I'm working on spending a few minutes each day meditating, finding my center, that seems to help me focus and get done what I need to do. At least it did today :P We'll see how much it helps moving forward! I finally sat down today and made my ROW80 goals (a week late) so hopefully having those set will help with staying on track as well. I'm sure I'll mess up, but I'll keep trying, and that's what's important right?

You can see the goals I've set for myself on my goals page but I'll also post them into today's post. They are all pretty self explanatory, but feel free to tell me in a comment below if you have any questions :) I'll be talking more about each of the goals when I do my check in posts. 

Writing Goals:

1. Five Hours Editing a Week (Ideally an hr a day M-F)

2. Blog on a regular basis:
Saturday: Creative Nudge for the week
Sunday: Row80/Goals Post
Monday or Tuesday: My piece for that week's Creative Nudge
Wednesday: Row80/Goals Post
Friday: Book review
Any other posts are bonus!

3. Continue to write and post reviews both here and on

Life Goals:

1. Put more variety in our diets,
try new recipes and cook more often.

2. Clean/Organize the house.
First get things organized,
then get on top of doing weekly chores.

3. Exercise!

4. Take more pictures. (like the two in this post!)

I originally just was going to share my writing goals, but that's not who I am. I mean, yes, I am a writer, but every writer is so much more than just a writer, and each of those goals I posted are important to me, and the pursuit of each affects the amount of time and energy I have to spend on the others. So, as the weeks go by, I hope to keep sharing my love for writing and my progress on my book, but I'll also share some of my life, because after all, whether you write fiction or fantasy, every writer's life affects their work.

~ Ruthie ~ 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

My Phone has Changed the Way I Read

I remember being a home-schooled kid and asking my Mom what a word meant in the book I was reading. Every time she’d tell me to go pull out the dictionary and, depending on how curious I actually was, I’d go hunting for that worn, pale red volume. It seemed to get put back in a different place every time, which was probably my fault, but that never occurred to me back then.

Once I found our old dictionary I’d flip it open, at first looking straight for the specific word, and finding my fingers going slower at an exponential rate as they became trapped in the wonder of words.

Somewhere along the way I lost a touch of that wonder. I’m not sure what happened, I still loved to tell stories, but since I could usually follow most stories without figuring out the occasional word I didn’t know, I wouldn’t spend the time. That recently changed.

Why? My cell pone of all things! Last year I received a hand-me-down Android phone from my brother. On it’s home screen it has this nifty little google search bar. Since my phone is always right next to me, whenever I’m reading a book and find a word I don’t know, I type it in, and presto, knowledge!

I’ve learned all sorts of nifty words like:
Callipygian = Having shapely buttocks.
Cordwain = Archaic word for shoe maker.
Saturnism = Archaic word for lead poisoning.  
Quotidian = Of or occurring daily.  
Bdellium = Fragrant resin produced by a number of trees related to myrrh, used in perfumes.
Isn't that fun? I'm not sure when I'll use most of those words, (except callipygian, I taught my husband that one) but I don't care! My fun fantasy reading just became educational. All because of my cell phone.

~ Ruthie ~

Ps. Do you have a favorite word? What is it?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Spring Cleaning and Various Sundries

I'm not a big fan of cleaning. I'm just not. I mean, I know it's important, and I don't really enjoy being in a dirty environment, I just always have something better to do. You know, something to make, someone to talk to, and of course, writing. Then there's always the problem of the "Ooo...shiny!" rule. The "Ooo...shiny!" rule states that any time I clear my plate and try to get serious cleaning done I will find something to distract me. It's inevitable. Like death, or taxes, or garlic being in whatever I cook. (ok, that last one's not entirely true, I do leave garlic out of things like... deserts.)

There's also, for a long time, been the problem of having constant migraines. Those things are major energy suckers, and it's hard to find the motivation to clean when pain is making you dizzy. I also have several other health issues that add in their own challenges to the prospect of picking up that sponge or tackling a pile of miscellania. 

Combine the fact I don't enjoy cleaning with the health issues - and my house has never been super clean. I do try, but we live in a constant state of disorder. 

I'm determined to change that to at least some degree, and I have reason to think I can. Want to know why? Meet R2-02:

What? An Oxygen tank? That's right folks. Apparently I'm one of the few migraine sufferers that receives significant relief from huffing on oxygen. I'm ECSTATIC about this. Seriously. I can't even begin to tell you how happy I am! Oxygen is cheaper than many of the meds I've tried... and it's natural. I'm discovering that there are still a few migraines that I need to combine oxygen therapy with pain meds for, but I don't care. This is significantly reducing the amount of medication I'm taking, and I'm functioning! I've had the tanks since Friday and I haven't had a single day where I'm down with a migraine, and trust me, several of those days should have been lost to migraines based on symptoms prior to treatment.

This means I'm having a much easier time getting things done, so I've declared this week spring cleaning! I'm still having some problems with the "Ooo...shiny!" rule, but I'm doing my best to take notes on whatever's distracting me and get back to work. Spring cleaning means I'm not really writing this week (although I have at least one book review I have to do so I can return the book) but I plan to be hard at work on editing again next week.

Speaking of writing... time to report on last month's progress and talk about ROW80!

I love this piece!
And the title ties in perfectly with the story I'm working on... so...

March was a roller coaster month with some really good days and some really bad days. I ended up with 15,795 words for the month - which considering everything is something I'm really proud of. Obviously I'd love to have written more, but getting that took some real effort, so I'm happy. Plus, I'm up from last month's 10,233 :P 

I read a TON last month. 27 books. That's crazy. In my defense I was really, really sick for part of the month so literally all I did was read. I still think that's crazy. I seriously doubt I'll come anywhere close to that this month, especially since I've been working on the same book for three days because I'm not spending much time reading so far. 

As for ROW80 - I know I'm supposed to have specific goals, but I really don't right now. I might come up with something more specific next week when I'm done with spring cleaning and more focused on writing again, but for now I'm just going to say editing. Editing, editing, and more editing. Oh, I should try to blog fairly regularly as well. We'll see how far I get!

Now I need to go clean something...

~ Ruthie ~ 

Friday, March 30, 2012

Another Fine Myth - Book Review

“Take the Universe as it is. Add devils, dragons, and magic. Then stand back… Skeeve was a magician’s apprentice, until an assasin hired by an ancient enemy struck and his master was dead. Skeeve suddenly found himself alone with Aahz, a purple-tongued demon the old magician had summoned from another dimension as a practical joke just before he was killed. Aahz had lost his powers. Skeeve had just lost his job. So, together, they set out through a universe populated by Deveels, Imps, dragons, unicorns, and more, look for a way to get even…” (from inner book jacket)

I would actually disagree with the book jacket, they aren’t really out to get even exactly. Skeeve is terrified when he first meets Aahz. After all, he has just seen his master killed by assassins, and Aahz is the first demon he’s met. Aahz quickly sets the record straight, he’s not some scary monster, he’s merely a magician from another dimension, and he had a deal with Skeeve’s master that they could summon each other to scare the unwary. Unfortunately his magic’s gone for unknown reasons (they suspect Skeeve’s master did something) but he still decides to take Skeeve on as an apprentice.

They soon discover that the person behind the murder of Skeeve’s master is someone that Aahz has grappled with before, and that he wants to take over not just Skeeve’s dimension, but eventually, all of them. That’s why I say they aren’t really getting even (which the book jacket said) but on a quest to save everyone from this crazy magician, and to get Skeeve’s powers back if possible. Along the way Skeeve begins to take off in leaps and bounds as a magician, they use trickery and magic to fool first a demon hunter and then some demon assassins, and Skeeve gets his first taste of inter-dimensional travel.

I give this book 4 out of 5 cups of coffee, it is a great read, and the only thing that’s holding it back from that five is that while I loved this book I’ve read others recently that inspired me more to say “Go buy it, now!” However, if you love fantasy, and like some good humor mixed in, definitely put it on your to-read list!

~ Ruthie ~

Thursday, March 29, 2012


Apparently I'm a versatile blogger! What does that mean? Well first of all it means that I won this award!

Out of random curiosity (cuz I'm like that) I looked up the word "versatile" on to see what the actual meaning is because I know that sometimes I have a good idea of what a word means but don't know the precise meaning. What I found was:

1.capable of or adapted for turning easily from one to anotherof various tasks, fields of endeavor, etc.: a versatile writer

Isn't that awesome? They linked versatility with writing and my award is for being a versatile blogger...which of course means I write! And, I suppose, I do have some versatility in my blogging. I do try to keep this blog related to the writing and books, but within that I have some randomness and versatility. 

Now here's the rules for this award:

· Thank and link to the blogger that bestowed the award (see above)
· Share seven random facts about yourself (see below)
· Spread the love by passing the award to five other bloggers and to let them know

1. I'm currently wearing a skirt for the first time this year O_O
2. I have 6 piercings, three in each ear, on the lobes. 
3. I had a cartilage piercing but it closed and that's a long story. 
4. I got to help design my wedding dress.
5. I used to swing dance.
6. I got to help teach dance lessons at two different weddings.
7. My wallet (like so many other things) is purple.

Want to know more random facts about me?

Who wins next?

I have a confession to make...
I haven't been following other blogs very well >_>
So I'm not going to pass this award on this time.
Please nobody stone me.

~ Ruthie ~

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

WIP Wednesday - Moving Right Along

I'm still working away on my editing. Now that I have things reorganized in paper form I've been taking the digital copy and rearranging it, as well as inserting my notes, and copying the outline from the 3x5 cards into a single sheet. And I'm not done...

At first when I thought about writing this post I was a little embarrassed. I've had a couple of days - how long does it take to reorganize a file and type in notes? And isn't that a little OCD to do it all at once instead of as I go while editing?

That's when I had to sit back and remind myself that I am my own harshest critic. For one, I have at least worked on my book every day that it's been feasible since we last talked, which is nothing to sneeze at. For two, the reorganizing in digital form is taking a lot longer than I thought I would, so my original guess that it'd be done with an hour of two of work wasn't accurate and I shouldn't hold myself to it. Lastly, I've already seen this as being useful.

There are a lot of plot holes that I'm going to need to fill in this edit. Things where I just "made it happen" and now I need to go back and make it make sense. As I've been copying the old text into a new file, in the current "proper" order, I've come up with some of the solutions to filling those holes. It still feels like I'm being a little OCD about it - but as long as it's helping with the edit - I shouldn't complain right?

I've signed up for round 2 this year of ROW80! Round 1 went nothing like I expected, but that's ok, life does that some times. I don't have definite goals yet for this round, but the official start date isn't until the 2nd, and I should have something by then (maybe).

Don't know what ROW80 is? Check out the website! 

~ Ruthie ~

Ps. How's your writing going?

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Night Circus - a Book Review

“The Night Circus arrives without warning.” The Night Circus is more fantastical than you’d ever imagine. The Night Circus is the Circus as you’ve always hoped it would be.

In “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern we meet Celia and Marco. Each raised by a different magician to follow in their legacy, and to participate in a strange challenge that neither of the participants really understands until the end. All they know is that their skills are being pitted against each other.

The arena for this challenge is the Night Circus. The Circus starts as a dream by those who have a love for the incredible, and who have a burning passion to create the ultimate reactions from the audience. Marco joins in the production as the assistant to the man orchestrating it all. Celia joins when she auditions for the part of the Illusionist and shocks everyone with her skill.

The imagery in this book is incredible. I felt as if I was swept up in the magic as I read, and I lost all track of time and what was really going on around me. I was, for a time, transported to the Night Circus, where dreamers are welcome.

Honestly? I don’t think I can adequately describe this book for you. The best thing I can do is to say GO READ IT. This is one of the best books, possibly the best, that I have read in the last year or so. I’m giving this 5 out of 5 cups of coffee and I’ll be anxiously waiting to find out what else Erin Morgenstern does.

For all of your writers out there, especially the Wrimos, guess what? Erin is one of us. This novel came into being because of her participation in NaNoWriMo. I don’t remember the whole story, but if she ended up with an incredible gem like this? Well, I’d say there’s a lot of hope for the rest of us! Dreamers who happen to write.

~ Ruthie ~

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Hunger Games - Minimal Spoilers

I've had several people ask me about the Hunger Games book trilogy lately, along with the frequently stated, "They sound kinda disturbing." Since I saw the movie yesterday I thought I'd take a few minutes to explain why I like the books so much, and of course, tell you what I thought of the movie!

First of all, yes, the concept behind the Hunger Games Trilogy is disturbing. For those of you who still know nothing beyond the title, the Hunger Games takes place in an undefined future in which the land has been divided up into districts after a great war. Each district is responsible for one aspect of industry, and they are all ruled from the Capitol. Seventy-four years ago District 13 revolted and was destroyed, and now in order to keep the rest of the districts cowed the Capitol hosts an annual Hunger Games. Each district is required to provide one boy and one girl, ages 12-18, to participate in a contest to the death, with the winner being rewarded with unbelievable riches, and their district receiving many important benefits as well. The books follow one girl, Katniss Everdeen, who competes in the Hunger Games after volunteering to take her little sister's place.

These Hunger Games are incredibly barbaric, and made even more so by the fact that the citizens of the capital see them as the highlight of the year, placing bets and throwing parties and generally having a great time while children die. Honestly? When I first heard about the books and saw them showing up all over the internet I was pretty sure I wasn't going to like them, but I picked the first book up because I was seeing them all over the place and I didn't want to join the internet discussion without having an informed opinion.

I was blown away by the books. They are very well written and not at all what I was picturing. Yes, there is violence and parts that are horrible, but the focus of the books isn't on the violence, it is on the girl, Katniss Everdeen, and actually? Considering the topic, they are no where near as violent as they could be.

I loved the books because they are about people. People that you get to know and love. The author uses the Hunger Games, which are horrific, to highlight how valuable human life really is, which is something missing from a lot of the media today's teens are exposed to. That's not the only good message in these books either. They highlight how ridiculous the obsession with fashion can become, talk about staying true to who you are when others try to change you, and the importance of friendships and family.

Having said how much I like the books, I have to admit I have really mixed feelings about the movie. I did enjoy it, don't get me wrong! I think they got a lot of things right. There were a few things they left out, but most of it wasn't that big of a deal, and I think they did a good job at maintaining the integrity of the story. They managed to maintain the important messages in the book, they did a great job with the costumes and bringing to life the images in the book, and the actors did a great job.

Still, I think they could have done a better job with it, the most important thing being that it was a better movie for the fans than it was for people who've never read the books. There were things that I understood, knowing from the books what was going on, that left my husband completely confused.

I also really didn't like the camera work. They used a shaky "realistic" style of camera work in many places that was designed to make you feel like you were looking at the scene in first person. I haven't seen Saving Private Ryan, but my husband tells me it was a lot like that style. I would have been fine with it if they only used that technique a little bit, but I think they over did it. It also left me with a horrible migraine, which is just no fun.

Bottom line? It's was better done than Twilight but not as good as the later Harry Potter movies. If you love the books (and don't get migraines easily) by all means, go see it! You will probably really enjoy it. If you haven't read the books, well you might not like it as much, but it's still not a bad movie.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Luck of the Irish - Creative Writing

This week's Creative Nudge was:

Theme: The Luck of the Irish
Genre: Any
Other Requirements? None

Here's what I wrote up :)

Patrica Ann O'Conner (Patty to her friends) was Irish to the core, and her parents would never let her forget it.

Neither would her friends.

Patty supposed that she would have liked being Irish if things had been a little less, well, Irish in her life, but there was no hope of that. First there was her red hair. It was actually a good shade of red, but her friends never got tired of making jokes about how she was the most Irish person they had ever met, and if she got grumpy, teasing her about the inevitable temper that an Irish red-head was bound to have. She also kinda hated how badly she burned in the sun.

Neither of those was as bad as her parents though. They weren’t just Irish, they were Irish and they reveled in it. Her house was done in a thousand shades of green. Green grass that was fertilized to keep it's healthy color. Green plants. Never a flower in the flower bed because, well, they weren't green. Light green paint with darker green trim on the outside. Paler green on the walls inside, accented by the furniture, the dishes, the carpet, the pillows, the nick-nacks, and even her parents, all in shades of green.

The sole exception to this green paradise was her room. Patty did her room in purples when she was 12 (much to her parents dismay, but they had let her pick out the paint) and accented it with silver, white, and black. She owned green clothing, but only because her parents bought it for her, and she shoved it to the back of the closet so that the only time green ever really invaded her home was when her parents would come in to talk to her.

Don't even get Patty started on St. Patricks day. Seriously. Don't.

If an unfortunate person were to make the mistake of asking her about the quintessentially Irish holiday they would be subjected to a lengthy rant about the improbability of St Patrick actually having anything to do with snakes, let alone eliminating all of them from an entire island, how society currently used it as an excuse to get drunk (and if that wasn't a stereotyped way of portraying the Irish she didn't know what was), and her parents. Her parents, you see, took the holiday as an excuse to throw open the doors of their home to any reveler passing by who might like a pint of guiness in the most Irish household in Sacramento. It was embarrassing really.

Her friends didn't get of course. They thought her parents were weird but cool (especially around the holiday not to be mentioned) and loved how her Mom showed up at school every year with green cupcakes for Patty's birthday. This tradition lasted until Patty's first year of high school when Patty threw a legendary tantrum in which she threatened to dye her hair black if her Mom ever crossed the threshold of her school for anything but a parent teacher conference or otherwise normal reason. Her friends didn't understand why she fussed about it (and why anyone would reject cupcakes) and it was about this time that Patty decided she might need new friends. Not coincidentally, she also began introducing herself as Ann and refused to answer to anything else.

Others might thinking Patricia Ann O'Connor was lucky for being born with into her heritage, but honestly? Sometimes it sucked being Irish.

I had a lot of fun writing this! It was definitely influenced by all the young adult fiction I've been reading lately, and it was fun to try something that I haven't done before! I might try more of it in the future. We'll see.

Did you write up a response to this week's Creative Nudge? Leave me a comment and tell me about it! 

~ Ruthie ~

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

WIP Update - Constructive Destruction

***Warning, today's blog is full of pictures, but worth it!***

Thursday I posted about finishing the outlining process for my current WIP. I had gone through, marked each scene, and created flash cards to go with them. This is what happened next:

That's my book! Laid out scene by scene! All 91 scenes originally written! The reason there are some gaps is that some scenes did not contain complete pages. While this looks pretty, I quickly discovered it took up too much space to be practical. The goal was to lay out the book in order to contemplate the order of scenes and chapters, and while I might have been able to do that if I had laid it out on a bunch of tables (maybe set up in a square with me in the middle?), my floor just wasn't cutting it. So I gathered them back into a pile,  but I was still thinking the floor, so I spread them out a few scenes at a time around my knees.

That didn't last long. My joints don't like the floor that much, and I realized that I only needed to look at a handful of scenes at a time, so a table would do. Gathering up my supplies, I moved again.

A few scenes laid out to work on.
Like the card table? It's probably from the 70's... 

I used my tray table to put the manuscript piles. 
On the right, scenes to work on, on the left, completed ones paper clipped into chapters.
I loved watching the second pile grow!

In the middle of moving things around.

Since I don't outline first, I found this process really helpful. Especially because I wrote the first draft using alternating points of view (POV). It worked well at first, but by the time I had added in the rest of the adventurers, it just wasn't working well. I also realized, as I was reading through it, that I changed POV way too frequently. It felt like good long breaks in between each character as I was writing it, but reading? I'd change almost every page! That's just too confusing! 

I'm switching to using an omniscient narrator for at least the majority of the book, and that means I need to reorganize the order of some of the early scenes (where my characters were in two different places) and there was a little bit of shuffling through out the rest as well. Mostly in the chapter breaks. I kept my chapters at a pretty consistent word length during writing (it helped me to set goals and meet them) and had some horrible breaks as a result. I know that these might not be the "final" chapter breaks, but I think how I have them divided up currently will make the editing process much easier. Want too see how the final chapters look?

Isn't it pretty? Each chapter is marked with a sticky note in the top right, and has the 3x5 cards that matched the scenes in the top left corner. I'm currently working on taking the original draft and copying it into pages in a new Scrivener file in the order that I've rearranged things. Then I'll edit it chapter by chapter, with the old text and the new text in side by side windows. I have a list of things I want to remember in this edit, and I'll include those the best I can while changing the point of view. It'll be challenging, but it's also fun to watch the book evolve!

I'll probably do this with future WIP's as well, although hopefully they will need a little less work between first and second drafts! It still helped a lot with chapter and flow, and I liked being able to pick things up and move them around. I think a longer table would be nice though. Maybe I'll get a study room at one of the libraries next time!

~ Ruthie ~ 

Ps. How are your WIP's going?