September 28, 2007

Favorite Book Friday

I’ve kept a record of books I’ve read for the past five years. Each year, I average about fifty books.

This past year, one book from my list stood out.

Although long, this novel left me wishing it wouldn’t end. I lingered over language, so beautifully rendered. The narrator of this book was Death.

With wisdom beyond his years, Markus Zusak created a phenomenal piece of literature in The Book Thief.

You can see an interview with Mr. Zusak here.

This weekend, I’m looking forward to reading one of his earlier novels – I am the Messenger.

What’s on your reading list for this weekend?

September 26, 2007

We Have a Winner!!!

This past weekend, when our son said he wanted to shave, my hubby left the room and returned with these . . .


“Hold still, son. I’ll get those hairs on your chinny, chin, chin.”

“What’s this thing for, and why doesn’t it come with an ipod?”

“Oh, please, don’t let us be next!”

I’m delighted to announce that our winner is: ENA! She posted the winning answer a mere three hours after the contest began.

Thank you all for your funny, creative (Did I mention funny?) and clever responses. They were so much fun to read . . . when I should have been reading my work-in-progress and making revisions. (Ah, the little elves in my head will get to that later.)

Ena will win a book of short stories compiled by the inventive folks at McSweeney’s, with, what I believe, is the longest title ever created.

Noisy Outlaws, Unfriendly Blobs, and Some Other Things That Aren’t as Scary, Maybe, Depending on How You Feel About Lost Lands, Stray Cellphones, Creatures from the Sky, Parents Who Disappear in Peru, a Man Named Lars Farf, and One Other Story We Couldn’t Quite Finish, So Maybe You Could Help Us Out. (Stories by Nick Hornby, Neil Gaiman, Jon Scieszka, Jonathan Safran Foer, and more.)

*No animals or teenagers were hurt in the making of this blog.

September 25, 2007

Better, Shorter, Faster Contest

To everyone who called, e-mailed and commented about the addictiveness of Wordy, I apologize. But it is a fun word game, isn’t it?

Since no one commented about beating my score by the deadline, I’ve got ANOTHER CONTEST for you. This one requires about fourteen seconds of your time. (And that’s only if you type slowly.)

I’ve still got a prize, people, and I want to give it away.

So, here’s the new and improved better, shorter, faster contest:

This past weekend, our teenage son told hubby he wanted to shave for the first time. So exciting. I found our camera to record the big event.

Instead of grabbing a razor (for our son to trim the few hairs on his chin), my comedian hubby left the room and returned with _______.

Fill in the blank with your guess. It’s like The Match Game Show with Gene Rayburn, except with better hairstyles.

The first person who posts the correct answer in the comments section of this blog wins the prize.*

The prize still consists of paper and words (and is not a restraining order). The title of the prize is actually much longer than the title of my novel. (You can guess what the prize is, too, if you’d like. But there’s no extra prize for guessing the prize. Hmm. I’ll announce the prize the same time I announce the winner.)

*This offer void for those with psychic ability and those in my Sunday critique group because, well, I already told you guys!

Okay, people – start guessing!

September 21, 2007

Favorite (Food) Book Friday

In Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, Barbara Kingsolver intelligently chronicles her family’s foray into eating more thoughtfully. In an effort to reduce their carbon footprint, they commit to either growing their own food or buying it locally for a year. Throughout the book, her husband writes about important global food issues, and her older daughter provides insights and recipes.

Last night, using one of the recipes, I made “Eggs in a Nest.”

That recipe, and several others, can be found at

And for a great list of favorite books, "Books That Linger," check out Cynthia Lord's blog here.

Finally, for those of you whom I’ve managed to addict to, I apologize. Sort of. But keep at it, fellow word nerds! There are still two days remaining to break my record and win a prize. I’m not Joe King.

September 19, 2007


Warning: This contest may cause carpal tunnel syndrome, severe word nerdiness and cause you to lose time from more important activities, like writing, reading, communicating with other human beings and playing other word games like Scrabble.

If you’re foolish enough to continue, your mission is as follows:

(Hint: These are the rules.)

1. Go to

2. Play the game. (It’s fun! And free!)

3. Submit your score with the name: JOE KING

4. No, I’m not Joking.

5. The first person to beat my score (155,580) and post that score as a comment on my blog will win a prize.

6. Yes, an actual prize. (Hint: It will involve words and paper, but not be my latest utility bill.)

7. You must live in the United States to collect the prize (because I’m too cheap to mail overseas).

8. You must be under 143 years of age to enter this contest.

9. You must like reading silly rules.

10. Deadline (because we creative types LOVE deadlines) is this Sunday, the 23rd at 6 p.m. Eastern time.

Have fun . . . and don’t say I didn’t warn you!!!

September 14, 2007

Creatively Connected

We writers often create in isolation.

But, in many ways, we are not alone . . .

We have our characters to keep us company while at our keyboards.

Or, if writing in a coffee shop or library, other patrons.

Our writing groups inspire us and gently guide us along our writing paths.

There are conferences to provide spark to our creative batteries and remind us of others creating in rooms of their own.

If all goes well, we have our readers – with whom we connect, entertain, inform, delight and keep company, so they, too, feel less alone.

And when none of that is available at the moment, we can connect via the Internet.

Here are two Web sites you might want to explore:

1. Patricia Newman interviews children’s book authors. On her Web site, you’ll find profiles of dozens of children’s book authors.

2. Claire Cook, author of books for adults, offers this advice to aspiring writers.

And Lisa Bullard’s YOU CAN WRITE A STORY! (a Story-Writing Recipe for Kids) -- a how-to book for budding authors in the form of a cookbook -- is now available.

Because we are all connected and in this together, I wish you a wildly creative weekend and the happiest of writing trails,


September 12, 2007

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

While walking our dog, Lady, I noticed a car slow and steer around a small dark lump in the road. Upon closer inspection, I saw that lump was a baby turtle.

Since developers plowed through our area with a vengeance about five years ago, we’ve seen a lot of animals in the road – opposums, raccoons, snakes, turtles and squirrels – usually dead or seriously injured. (And no, they did NOT die of natural causes, unless getting run over by someone driving a Hummer while chatting on the cell phone is considered a natural cause.)

So, I was happy to see this baby turtle’s head poking around, exploring its environment.

I tied Lady to a post just outside the Greenway – a small fenced area full of grass and pine trees and creatures (who couldn’t, despite numerous signs, figure out where their natural environment ended and massive new home construction began).

I picked the turtle up and watched it duck its head inside its shell.

Intending to place it several yards inside the Greenway, I made it only a few steps when I felt something stab at my ankle. I brushed at it. Then again, a sharp pain.

With turtle in hand, I looked down to see dozens of fire ants swarming up my sneakers, pink socks and ankles.

Sorry turtle.

I put that baby down fast and slapped the biting ants off my ankles. I ran out of the Greenway to the sidewalk and stripped off sneakers and socks faster than you can say, “Yeowch!”

Cars passed, but if the drivers were from around here, they knew exactly what I was doing. Most people in this part of South Florida have had at least one unpleasant mishap with an innocent-looking sand pile that turned out to be home to swarms of mean, biting ants.

While I was smacking ants off my skin and socks, I noticed Lady picking up first one paw then another. Strange behavior for her. I grabbed one of her paws, and my hand came away covered with fire ants.

With both of us being bitten, I stood in bare feet and worked the knot out of her leash so I could get her away from the area. She and I had been standing on top of a fire ant nest, but the ground was so wet it looked like an innocent pile of dirt.

I worked at each of Lady’s paws until I wasn’t pulling off anymore ants, just bits of loose fur.

Lady seemed no worse for the wear, and I was already mentally composing a story about the incident, so I knew we were both okay. It was then, we walked into the Greenway, picked up the baby turtle and moved it farther into the grass.

Lady is napping beside me now. And I’ve got only a few bite marks on my feet and ankles. And somewhere, there is a baby turtle happily poking it head around the grass instead of lying in the middle of a road with Hummer tire tracks on its shell.

September 10, 2007

Motivation on a Monday

“Nothing worth doing is completed in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope. Nothing true or beautiful makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore, we are saved by love.”

Reinhold Niebuhr, American theologian, 1892-1971

September 7, 2007

Birthdays and Monkey Brains

My favorite person in the universe turns 41 today . . .

No, not our dog, Lady. My hubby extraordinaire -- Dan the Man. He’s the guy who supports my crazy writing habit. He’s also the guy who keeps me sane while parenting teenagers. He makes me laugh, but is always there if I need to cry. He’s the punniest, funniest, most interesting guy I know. And I’m so lucky to be married to him. Even when he’s not playing his guitar, he rocks!

So, if you get a moment, drop him birthday greetings at dangephartathotmaildotcom. Even if you don’t know him, drop him a quick note. Heck, especially if you don’t know him. It’s more fun that way.

You could also send birthday greetings to Lady. She has a September birthday as well. But she doesn’t have an e-mail address.

And now for something completely off topic . . .

Because I’m a very mature and responsible adult, I started my morning by eating something practical and good for me – oatmeal. Of course, this tasty treat came in this box:

Yes, I ate MONKEY BRAINS for breakfast. Ha ha. Take that, Selwyn! How many people can say that? Monkey Brains – what a cool way to get kids to want to eat oatmeal?! Thankfully, they didn’t call it something like, um, PELICAN POOP or DINOSAUR DROPPINGS.

I think I’d better go now. I’m getting completely out of hand. Besides, there’s a birthday to be celebrated!!!

Hugs and happy weekend,