Laura Howard: 2011


A-Z Fail

So here it is... A week since my last letter post, which incidentally was only the second letter of the alphabet... I'm amazed at myself. Now I could blame the fact that I have been sick with the flu this week, along with my family. But I won't. I could also blame the virus on my PC, but I don't think I should do that either. I could have easily picked up my iPhone and, even though it's annoying and typed up a post like I am right now.

But, let's just move forward! I have been working on some fun things this week from my couch- first thing is a guest blog over at Ashley's blog which I'm pretty excited about. She and Misty will be collaborating for Fairytale Fortnight starting April 17. I jumped on the opportunity to get involved because I love fairytales and I wanted to talk a little about the difference between Fairytales vs Faerie Tales. Confused? Well, come check it out!!

The next thing I'm excited about is I received a copy of my friend Terri's new book, In Leah's Wake... And she's so sweet that she sent me an extra copy to give away! More on that to come...


B is also for Bookplate

I am just browsing the web on this lovely Sunday and I found this article on Squidoo that features printable bookplates available on various sites on the web. I am so in love with the cute ones here. I know I'll be printing up a bunch on the books I lend out! I'm always happy to loan a friend a book, but let's be honest- it can be annoying when our friends forget where they came from... Lol


B is for Belated

So tonight I'm just getting around to posting B for the A-Z challenge. Not exactly a stellar start for me. But, with two sick little boys, that's the way it goes. I hope everyone else was able to be more punctual with their posts and visits. I did, at least visit my new friends who stopped by to say Hi to me! So thanks for coming and I'll be back Monday for C!


A is for Angst

Today is day 1 of the A-Z challenge! What did you choose for your A word?

So let's talk about Angst!! I read alot, and over the years I've discovered that no matter what genre I'm reading in, one thing that keeps me interested in a book is the level of angst the author achieves. It's an amazing skill, in my opinion, to raise the stakes throughout a novel to the point where the reader can actually feel the tension in their chest.

No matter your opinion of the Twilight series, it's a great example of some serious teenage angst.. And it was the book that got me into the YA genre, even though I was 29 when I read it- haha.

What's a book that keeps you up at night with the angst and tension rising to the boiling point?


Blogging From A-Z Challenge

Have you signed up for the Blogging From A-Z Challenge yet? If not... Get to it!
Started last year on Arlee Bird's blog Tossing it Out, this challenge is back and better than ever! This challenge is for bloggers to blog 26 days (A-Z) in April and the posts are in, you guessed it, A-Z order! Here are he deets, so hurry and sign up, we'll have Fun!!

             The premise of the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge is to post something on your blog every day in April except for Sundays.  In doing this you will have 26 blog posts--one for each letter of the alphabet.   Each day you will theme your post according to a letter of the alphabet.

            Last year was nearly overwhelming for me to administrate the ongoing challenge by myself.  There is no way I can expand this Challenge to 300 or more participants and expect to do it alone.  That is why I've joined up with three of the most successful bloggers and blog event organizers that I know. 
            Just in case you don't know these great bloggers and writers, let me introduce them to you:

Star blogger Alex J. Cavanaugh, author of the popular science fiction novel CassaStar.  We met in last year's A to Z and he'll swear by the Challenge.  He's already organized events such as the Movie Dirty Dozen, The Top Ten TV Shows Blogfest, and the current Top Ten Music Countdown-- each one of these an unqualified success.    Alex is determined to see A to Z go to 500 participants and with him on board I think we can do it. 

Power-blogger  Jen Daiker from Unedited  jumped right into blogging last April by joining up in the A to Z Challenge.   In her short span of blogging she has amazingly passed the 1000 follower mark--I still am flabbergasted by that feat.  Blog events she has hosted or co-hosted are the Guess That Character Fest, The Great Blogging Experiment (with Alex Cavanaugh and Elana Johnson), and The Be Jolly By Golly Blogfest.   If only all 1059 of her followers blogged from A to Z with us!

Talli Roland from her self-named blog and the author of The Hating Game , her recent novel which is still doing hot business.  When Talli did her Web Splash to coincide with the release of The Hating Game, there were hundreds of fans who helped kick off the campaign with their own blogs.   She'll be in charge of our international affairs since she currently lives in London, England.   And Jen is already building her army of followers while Alex is taking control of CassaStar and the universe--it's a busy crew here.

           And if you're a regular reader of my blog then you probably know something about me, Arlee Bird--there's plenty written about me in my blog pages.    I encourage you to click on the above links to three blogs and give your greeting and, if not one already, become a follower of each of their blogs!


Writing Magic

Today I'm in a blog hop at Tessas Blurb called The Nature of Magic. We're sharing our magic with the world, and checking out what others think of magic and giving them some comment love

Fantasy books, whether they be urban fantasy, science fiction or paranormal, involve different types of magic. It's always fun to learn how magic plays a part in different worlds, and it's usually vastly different from one story to the next. In many of the urban fantasy series I've read, magic is an energy source that offers the wielder a sort of give-and-take... using the magic has many advantages, but you must pay the price for it. I've seen insanity play a big part... ie if you use magic, the trade-off is to lose a little of your sanity with each spell. I've also seen magic described in one of my favorite fantasy series as a sort of layer around the atmosphere that you can gather to yourself and use at will.

In the manuscript I'm working on, which is an adult fantasy, magic is based in the mind or in the blood. I wanted to have a unique format because I feel like my story has a lot of unique characteristics and wanted it to stand out when it is published. Now, I have certainly heard of blood magic being done before- and I have no doubt mind magic exists in books. However, I have not read anything with it, so I'm hoping mine will be a unique twist... :)  Until I'm done writing the ms, I won't be reading either of these in hopes of avoiding any confusion.

OK, so on to the fun stuff. How MY magic works ;)

The supernatural or fantastical beings in my story have several abilities. As with humans, they all have some abilities that are stronger than others. Some are able to see the future, by focusing on threads of time they see in their mind's eye. Others have strong coercive talents. They are able to control those with weaker minds then theirs. This skill also allows them to change the way other's perceive them, which they refer to as "cloaking" themselves or some objects. My favorite talent is the ability to communicate mind to mind, as either mind-reading or mind-speaking. Imagine how handy that would be IRL!! It would be so easy to have an adult conversation with my husband if I could just talk straight into his mind... The last talent they possess is telekinesis, they are able to use their minds to move things without physically touching them. Another super-handy ability. I sometimes feel like I have this ability since I had kids... it's so nice to be able to say "Honey, would you mind running upstairs to get the baby wipes?" Haha, sometimes it works better than others.

In my world, blood magic is forbidden. It's considered "Old Magic" because it is no longer allowed. This type of magic is obtained by using the blood of another living creature to strengthen the mind magic the wielder already possesses. When my creatures use blood from humans it allows them to walk in this realm, which normally makes them sick and weak. There are definite disadvantages to blood magic, though. It corrupts their minds, like poison. But, like a drug addiction, it becomes increasingly difficult to stop.

I'm excited to check out everyone else's magic stories on this blog hop. If you're not in the hop, you should check it out here!


Computer Virus

My PC has been bitten by some kind of Google redirect virus!! Ever heard of it? First, every time I used Google (my best friend) I'd get redirected to some lame site I had no interest in, and had assuredly malignant content. Now, all Google products- including this blog and my ability to sign in to comment on other blogs, are completely defunct!! How mad am I??? Just a little... Grr


Why people?? Why do you do this to me??

So blogging from my iPod is not a huge deal... But I don't love typing on this little bugger!
So, until I can fix my issues, please bear with me!!!


Follow Friday Bloghop

Book Blogger Hop

In the spirit of the Twitter Friday Follow, the Book Blogger Hop is a place just for book bloggers and readers to connect and share our love of the written word!  This weekly BOOK PARTY is an awesome opportunity for book bloggers to connect with other book lovers, make new friends, support each other, and generally just share our love of books!  It will also give blog readers a chance to find other book blogs to read! 

This week's question comes from Somer who blogs at A Bird's Eye Review (her blog design is ADORABLE - check it out!):

 "Do you read only one book at a time, or do you have several going at once?"

Answer: I will only read one book at a time. The only time I break this rule is when I'm reading a book to my kids. I find it confusing to keep up with two stories at once, and not at all fun. But, I know alot of people enjoy reading a multitude of books at once- it just doesn't work for me.

Anyone have a different opinion?


Flog your Blog

This is your opportunity to FLOG YOUR BLOG! I thought it would be nice if my followers had a chance to show off what their own blog was about and gain some new followers through my blog here.

When you make a comment, don’t just put in your link, tell us a little bit about your blog. Do you write mostly book reviews? Talk about writing angst? Discuss current events? What’s your own writing genre? Are your published? This will help people decide if they want to follow you.

To be completely clear, this is not a contest, you won’t win anything by making a comment, but I am hoping that you will gain some new followers (me too) by participating in the FLOG YOUR BLOG throw down. The only rules are-

1. You must be following this blog to make a comment and . . .
2. You must do this on your blog too in order to give your followers a chance to gain new people.

My hope is that more people will not only get active here by commenting and participating but that my followers will get the same thing on their blogs. I think this sounds like a good idea, let’s see how it works.


Congratulations Carolina!!

I'm new to this amazing blogosphere of writers and readers, but am just so in love with all the sweet people paying it forward to one another! Over the last few weeks I watched the amazing Talli Roland and her tremendous following bring it home on her release day for her new (new in paperback anyway) book The Hating Game. Prizes were given and the happiness was literally contagious!

Today, another bloggie fiend, Carolina Valdez- Miller, announced her signing with the wonderful agent Vickie Motter! So many things going on in the writing life, I just wish I had found all these super folks sooner.

If you want to join in the infectious wave of paying it forward, I highly recommend signing up for the A-Z challenge in April so that you can see first hand all the ways these writers and readers are supporting each other!

For now go to Carols blog and congratulate her, she's making it well worth the trip with so many rad giveaways your head will SPIN!

Carolina Valdez Miller: So, I Have Some News (and a Mega Giveaway of a Kindle and More)


Weekend Creation

To spark my week's creativity, I joined this group hop! The key is to link with other creative blogs and get inspired/ inspire others. I love that!

I have a hard time talking about my writing with the people in my life; it feels like I'm a big pretender, or a wannabe.

But, the truth is that I love to write. So, here I am admitting it.

Hi. My name is Laura, and I am a writer.

I just recently told my family about my current WIP. It felt so odd sharing something that for me is so intimate. It was like I was stripping myself for them to see.

I guess I expected to be laughed at, because it is such a pipe dream to want to be a writer.

Nobody laughed at me. At least not out loud.

It really feels good to put it out there, and to be able to talk about it when things are going well. It's still really hard, but I'm working on it.

So... my contribution to the weekend creation is my story of admitting that I like to create. I have had occasions where people have looked at me like I was joking when I said I like to write, but it's not been everyone. And I have my family's support, which is all that really matters.


Crazy for Books!

Book Blogger Hop

I found this cool weekend bloghop and decided it would be lots of fun to play along.
The question is:
If someone gave you $80 and sent you into a bookstore, what would be in your basket?

First I'd like to say that would be Awesome!!!

Here we go!

Rivermarked by Patricia Briggs

Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

The Hating Game by Talli Roland

Possession by Elana Johnson

So that's my list even if some aren't out in print yet! How about you? What's up next on your TBR list?


Being a Daughter

We all wear different "hats", sometimes a handful, on any given day. Sometimes I feel like I am so many different things at once, it's hard to categorize myself. Mother, daughter, sister, wife...

Today, I'm a daughter. My dad is buying a new house in an adult (55+) community. My mom passed away in November and it's time to down-size, start looking forward. They'd been married for 38 years, and I'm amazed and inspired by my father's strength. Some days I want to curl up into a ball and cry for my mom, and I think my dad maybe has those days too. But, he has told me many times that he's not ready to give up on this life. Getting through the loss of my mother would have been impossible if it weren't for his show of strength.

I'm so lucky to have this man for a father, just as I was so lucky to have my mom. They both inspire me, and I'm proud today that I'm their daughter... it's a hat I love to wear.

So, what hat are you wearing today? And, more importantly- who inspires you?


Check out this Contest at DNA Writers!

There is a contest of EPIC proportions going on at this site I just discovered, DNA writers, which stands for Dumbledore's NaNo Army. Here are the deets:
* Free $25 Amazon gift card.
* Free book from the Book Depository under $15.
* Free book from the Book Depository under $15.
* Free 10 pg MS critique or 4 pg synopsis critique ($35 value).
*Free $15 Starbucks e-gift card.
*SIGNED paperback of Lisa McMann's WAKE.
GRAND PRIZE: Full substantial edit of 80k or less (MG or YA only) from Kari!
Must be a follower of this blog.
Fill out the form below.
Contest ends at midnight EST March 6th


We Have a Winner!

This morning I tallied up my comments and followers and chose a winner for the $15 Barnes & Noble giftcard from my List & Giveaway!

And the winner is...Carolina Valdez Miller!!!!

Congrats Carolina!

Today is an exciting day for me, because I'm going to my first ever book signing right here in Massachusetts. The lovely Kim Harrington will be signing copies of her new release Clarity, and I'm so thrilled to get my own signed copy.


Gone But Not Forgotten

Today's blogfest is about TV shows that are not on the air anymore, but will forever be remembered ...

#1 My So-Called Life Ah... memories of waiting each week to get a glimpse of Jared Leto. Angela was the snarky woe is me heroine who landed the hottest guy EVER! Why did it only last for one season,this was gold to my teenage self!

#2 Friends This one is like a no-brainer. Even my husband watched this show with me back before we were married. Who didn't watch Friends???

#3 Beverly Hills 90210 The Original. The drama, the intrigue. Somehow my entire family would clear the living room while I delighted in my weekly 90210, blessed alone time for me.

#4 Party of Five Sweet biscuits, I had such a crush on Bailey... and then on Griffin. I even tolerated Claudia's annoying nasal voice week after week. I don't think I missed a single episode!

#5 Will & Grace Some of my best material is from W&G, I swear it. Sometimes I think it should have been Jack & Karen... Every word that came out Jack's mouth is GOLD baby. And, Karen ain't too shabby neithah!


Read Across America Day

Today is the 14th annual Read Across America Day honoring the amazing Dr Seuss' birthday. The idea behind this fun celebration is to actively get a child in your life to pick up a book to read. It doesn't matter if that child is 2 months or 16 years old, either. Reading to your baby or talking to your teenager about a favorite book is a perfect way to inspire reading habits that will last.

Sponsored by the National Education Association, this program provides parents, caregivers, and children the resources and activities they need to keep reading on the calendar 365 days a year.
In May 1997, a small reading task force at NEA came up with a big idea. "Let's create a day to celebrate reading," the group decided. "We hold pep rallies to get kids excited about football. We assemble to remember that Character Counts. Why don't we do something to get kids excited about reading? We'll call it 'NEA's Read Across America' and we'll celebrate it on Dr. Seuss's birthday." And so was born on March 2, 1998, the largest celebration of reading this country has ever seen.

Need some ideas for fun activities to make reading an extra special part of your day today?

Check out these links:

Dr. Seuss Activities for Kids of All Ages

NEA's Read Across America


A List and a Giveaway

I found this great list on Nicole's page and thought it might be fun to challenge people to give a litte of themselves, really put it out there with a fun questionnaire. Please copy & paste in the comments!! I will choose a winner from all who comment before March 5 for a $15 Barnes and Noble giftcard And everyone who follow me get two entries!

Anyone who's watched Inside the Actor's Studio will be familiar with the questionnaire. The show's host, James Lipton, asks it of every celebrity guest at the close of the interview. The questionnaire was originally created by Bernard Pivot, a French journalist, for the cultural series he hosted on French television from 1991-2001, called Bouillon de Culture.

What I love about the questionnaire is you can either answer the questions with all the truth in your heart, or you can approach them with creativity and cleverness -- finding answers or deliveries no one else has ever come up with. But which ever way you go, each of your answers will be revealing, telling us interesting things about you.

What is your favorite word? Shimmer
What is your least favorite word? Cancer
What turns you on creatively or emotionally? Seeing beautiful art of any kind
What turns you off? People who are negative and say "I can't" too much
What is your favorite curse word? Shizzat
What sound or noise do you love? My kids'laughter
What sound or noise do you hate? My kids Fighting
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Graphic design
What profession would you not like to do? Gynecology

Please help me spread the word!!


Whacky Wednesday

Today I'm thinking about... words. Not just any words, you see. Oh no- I'm thinking about
Whacky Words.  Today is a Wordy Whacky Wednesday. I adore words- I love reading
words, I fancy saying words. I don't know about you, but I get a thrill when I see an
author put together a string of wicked awesome words.  I cherish jotting down these strings
and I even have a file on my computer for quirky quotes, another for vivid verbs...
don't forget my astonishing adjective/adverbs file. By now you are, no doubt, thinking I'm a nerd, but I could have told you that.
Half the time people laugh at my peculiar choice of words, because they have no idea what they
mean, or cause I just plain made 'em up!
Do you know one of the most fantastic word sources is Harry Potter?  How many wonky words did you get from reading those stupendous books/seeing the sensational movies??  Blimey, Neville!
Do you have a most favoritest word that nobody else uses/understands?  Share!  Partake my clever crackerjacks!   


Motivational Monday

I love blogs. And  since I'm a huge fan of books, one of the biggest pieces of news I've been reading on my blogroll is about the 200 Borders stores closing.  I don't know about anyone else, but I've always loved local bookshops.  When I was a kid, every month I would make a pile of all the books I'd read and bring them down to the store in town to get credit for NEW books (new to me anyway).  So, I find that the news of Borders closing, while awful for the thousands who've lost jobs, gives me hopes that independent book sellers will have a chance to pick up the slack.  Ever since the movie You've Got Mail, I've been saddened by huge chains shutting down the book store in my hometown as well as so many others.  So, my inspiration this week for Motivational Monday is from a blogpost on by Edward Champion.  Here he lists alternatives for local booksellers near the closing Borders stores.  Great idea, right?  I feel like communities need to band together to keep these bookstores alive.  Sure, sometimes it might be "easier" to buy a book from Amazon, but think of the impact on your community if you support your local store!  Hey, why not go buy a book?


Friday Free For All

I love Fridays!  As a stay-at-home mom, it doesn't really make sense for me to love them, but I guess I never got over the whole TGIF thing. 
Today is the first day I've gotten out of the house for quite awhile, with the kids being sick and all. It got me thinking.  Strange, but it does happen...
During the winter months, I find that I like to just stay home alot of the time, it just seems easier...especially this year since my youngest is only 9 months old.  And, of course I end up stuck in a rut.  So, I decided that I need to get some motivation!  I'm wondering what other people do to get out of the winter doldrums?  More specifically what do you do?  Do you ever get caught up in wanting to stay home rather than go out in the cold?  And after being inside for an extended period, do you end up with cabin fever?  Leave me a comment and let me know!


Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday is a weekly event hosted by Take Me Away
Throwbacks can be:
a book you've read and loved, or a book you've always wanted to read
a book that brings back memories for you
from as far back as your childhood, or just from last year
a classic or a hidden gem
My choice is my all time Favorite Book from my childhood:
The Witch of Blackbird Pond
I first read this book for a summer reading list when I was about 10 years old.  Even at such a young age, I had visions of being swept away by a fine, young sailor named Nat.  But, seriously this book was unforgettable!  It's about a young, free-spirited girl named Kit who was raised by  her grandfather in Barbados.  When he dies, she is sent to live with her religious aunt in America.  When she arrives,she seems to always do the wrong thing, causing suspicion and fear.  She finds a friend in the local outcast Hannah and before long   people are suspecting that her impulsive ways are those of a "witch".  This book introduced me to reading and I think inspired me to be a life-long reader! 
What was your favorite book as a child/teenager?  Leave a comment and let me know!


Whacky Wednesday

Today is Whacky Wednesday at our school. The kids get to dress as whacky as they wanna, sounds like something I would have LOVED as a kid. My 8 yo is especially fond of this day, and had a hard time sleeping last night trying to come up with a really whacky hairstyle... I've been thinking about her excitement since she left this morning, and I guess it's contagious. I started this blog yesterday after much hemming and hawwing. But, I know that I enjoy reading other people's blogs, so maybe a few people will like mine, right? So, in order to keep it simple and fun I am going to stick with interesting themes. Since Whacky Wednesday is today, it shall be forever on Finding Bliss. I'm going to find some really fun and crazy things that make ME go Hmmmm. And then I'll share them! Ideas and suggestions are welcome...


Finding Bliss

I love that title. After all, isn't that what life is all about? It's not about making money or cleaning the toilet once a week... But shouldn't we at least sometimes allow ourselves a little bliss? I know what my idea of true happiness is... What's yours?