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Showing posts from 2012

Screw it. I'll just be myself. (A New Year's Resolution)

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Realizing that I've made pretty much the same five resolutions every New Year's Eve for the past three decades, I've decided to exit 2012 - one of the worst years of my life - with a single guiding principle: Screw it. I'm just going to be myself.

My Top Five Retired Resolutions archive:
#1 Stop using bad words. Yeah. Fuck that. Sorry.

#2 Lose weight. Based on 35 years of empirical study, I can conclude with some certainty that dieting, self-loathing, guilt and constantly talking about my weight is not going to make me a size 7. I am a size 14. Bam. Weight problem solved.

#3 Work smarter, not harder! This too often translates into trying to do what works for other people. Practicality is the enemy of exploration. I have to do what feels right to me as an artist and works for me as a sole proprietor, and so far, working insanely hard seems to have yielded the most fruit. Plus I like working hard. I'm a disorganized, "method in the madness" workaholic. In size …

No "Stairway to Heaven"! Unless you're Heart. Then it's okay.

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AN ACCIDENT WAITING TO HAPPEN book review

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My review of a compelling and beautifully written novel by Adrian White.

Inspiration in Motion: Mylene Dressler

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Sneak Peak: Cheetapants Condensed Classics

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Coming from Stella Link Books in 2013: Cheetapants Condensed Classics. Great books debulked so you don't have to pretend to have read them. "We preserve the author's original voice, leaving important storytelling passages intact, nutshelling lengthy/ boring/ obsolete yada yada you get the idea."

My Christmas card to friends and readers: THE LATE GREAT SANTA CLAUS (Of course it's free!)

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Seems like events of the past week have made this a very somber holiday. Joy and peace are precious natural resources. I hope your heart and home will be filled with both.

Please enjoy this little story about the moments in which we lose our innocence and unexpectedly find it again. I put it up free on Kindle this week as my Christmas card to all the friends, writers and readers who persistently restore my faith in human kindness.

Download The Late Great Santa Claus FREE all this week on Kindle.


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, everyone! 

THE LATE GREAT SANTA CLAUS: a Christmas Story #FREE4Kindle

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Please enjoy this little story about the moments in which we lose our innocence and unexpectedly find it again. I put it up free on Kindle this week as my Christmas card to all the friends, writers and readers who persistently restore my faith in human kindness.


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, everyone!

With peace and love ~
Joni

HIPPIE BOY by Ingrid Ricks

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Here's my review of HIPPIE BOY: A GIRL'S STORY, a wonderful coming of age memoir by the very talented Ingrid Ricks.

LADY LIMBO by Consuelo Roland

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Beautiful writing, complex plot, breathtaking twistsAmazon Verified Purchase(What's this?) This review is from: Lady Limbo (Kindle Edition) Highly, highly recommending this excellent book by Consuelo Roland, who won me over earlier this year with her extraordinary debut novel, THE GOOD CEMETERY GUIDE. Everything I loved about that book - impeccable craft skills, dry wit, full-bodied characters, lovely turns of phrase - is present in LADY LIMBO, but Roland has taken it to the next level with a more complex, suspenseful plot. The international intrigue and a fast-paced story kept me engaged without detracting from Paola's journey, the emotional core of the book, as she searches for her husband and ultimately for herself.

I can't come up with a thing to fault about this book. Beautiful writing. The plot works. The characters are engaging. Even the cover is gorgeous. I think the international flavor with a touch of mysticism will appeal to fans of Ann Patchett and Paul Coelho. …

George Harrison "Give Me Love"

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CASUAL VACANCY by JK Rowling

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My review of JK Rowling's THE CASUAL VACANCY. I liked it a lot! Wonderful dry wit, edgy storyline, and amazing craft skills.

Harlequin Romantic Suspense Party Clue #1

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HRS Holiday Party Clue #1: It was a terrible day for a race, with the dark sky rumbling, shoes sloshing, and rain soaking every runner to the skin. With everything else she had to contend with, why did today of all days have to bring with it a thunderstorm? For more information on how you can win enough autographed books to fill your stocking, click to learn all about the Harlequin Romantic Suspense Killer Christmas Contest! Photo attribution: U.S. Air Force photo by Edward Aspera Jr. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Barbara Taylor Sissel's THE NINTH STEP

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Moving, emotional novel from a beautiful writer

Barbara Taylor Sissel crafts a sure-handed, beautiful garden of a novel on ground tilled by Jodi Picoult and Anita Shreve. Firmly confronting issues of human frailty, redemption, and letting go, The Ninth Step is a story about what is, but it aches with the stories of what might have been as one man's quest for forgiveness leads him to the impossible task of forgiving himself, and the lives of the people he's wronged are drawn into a shattering spiral of events. Sissel's vibrant voice, rich characters, and deft plotting draw the reader in and keep pages turning to the gripping, unexpected end.

Originally posted on Amazon.com as Joni L. Rodgers.

MANLESS IN MONTCLAIR by Amy Holman Edelman

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Funny, poignant, delicious writing. Second read and still loved it. Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?) This review is from: Manless in Montclair (Kindle Edition) I first read this book when it came out in hardcover a few years ago. I loved Edelman's previous book LITTLE BLACK DRESS, so I had high expectations and wasn't disappointed. She's a terrifically funny and intelligent writer. Her sense of humor is urbane, sarcastic and classy without going over the edge to snotty or acidic. Her storytelling skills are so sharp; the first half of the book deftly weaves between the death of her husband and the story of their love from the very first date. So very, very well done and such a smart choice to unspool the joy and sorrow in tandem.

The second half of the book takes a sort of "Sex and the City" turn, which worried me for a moment, but it works surprisingly well, even though it's not as beautifully written as the first half. The book still holds together as…

BLUE MERCY book review

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Here's my review of BLUE MERCY by Orna Ross. Highly recommending this intense family drama. (Think WHITE OLEANDER with a twist.) An excellent selection for smart book clubs and lovers of strong contemporary literary fiction.

Happy 12/12/12!

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BLUE MERCY by Orna Ross

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Here's my review of BLUE MERCY by Orna Ross. Highly recommending this intense family drama. (Think WHITE OLEANDER with a twist.) An excellent selection for smart book clubs and lovers of strong contemporary literary fiction.

UPDATE: Why did these four established authors go indie? (And where are they now?)

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In July 2011, we ran this post about why four established authors were going indie on some projects. Where are they now? Here's the original post with a brief update.

We have four very different writing styles and four completely different publishing journeys behind us. What these four BoxOcto authors have in common is an enduring love and respect for books and an unwavering dedication to the art and craft of writing. And we've all made the decision to self-publish.

There's a pervasive perception that people only self-pub when they've been rejected by "traditional" publishing. That's not the case here. We all plan to continue and expand our endeavors in print publishing. We're not burning any bridges. And we're mindful of the reality that traditional publishing is not about ink, paper and royalty negotiations; it's about a zeal for excellent writing, respect for thorough editing and joy in thoughtful presentation.

So why have we gone over to t…

RIP Dave Brubeck. "Take Five" live in Germany 1966

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THE SALT MAIDEN, my favorite Colleen Thompson novel is now on Kindle!

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Lush landscaping, rich characters, and a spine-tingling story

What I love about Colleen's style is her knack for landscaping -- a powerful sense of place that makes the setting as vibrantly alive as the characters. Add to that a great story, zingy dialogue, and two engaging lead characters and you've got an all-nighter.

Check it out!

Originally posted on Amazon.com as Joni L. Rodgers

It's Going to Be a Killer Christmas--Dec. 14th Contest News

Can you follow the clues provided by Harlequin Romantic Suspense authors to solve a mystery? On December 14th, come join the party at the Harlequin Community Forum because the Harlequin Romantic Suspense Authors have a killer event planned. From 11:00am to 3:00pm EST A worthy hero, a brave heroine, a dastardly villain…come chat with other Romantic Suspense readers and authors about the elements of the series that keep you at the edge of your seat. Throughout the party, HRS authors will be giving away prizes and revealing clues you can use to solve A Killer Christmas–a mystery devised exclusively for the Harlequin Community Open House. Once you have all the clues, you’re eligible to enter the HRS GRAND PRIZE Book Bundle Giveaway below. See you at the party! And see you back here soon, where one of the contest clues will be posted.

THE CASUAL VACANCY book review

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My review of JK Rowling's THE CASUAL VACANCY. I liked it a lot! Wonderful dry wit, edgy storyline, and amazing craft skills.

Trailer Park: THE LONG DRUNK by Eric Coyote (Kirkus Best of 2012!)

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A hilariously raunchy hardboiled story of a homeless reprobate who uses Raymond Chandler as his guide while trying to solve a mystery and save the life of his best friend.

The League of Extraordinary Authors

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Book Review: My Memories of a Future Life

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Reading FEAR OF FLYING at 15 and 50 (Jong holds up beautifully.)

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I first read FEAR OF FLYING in 1977. I was 15. My algebra teacher nicked it from my hand, threw it in the trash can and told me it was pornographic garbage, but I was already halfway through the book and smart enough to know that wasn't true. I rescued the book and spent a few weeks in detention, but it was well worth it. FEAR OF FLYING blew my tiny mind on several levels.

Because of the open discussion of sex in FEAR OF FLYING, some of the other important themes get back-burnered. For me, having been raised in the 1960s attending Wisconsin Synod Lutheran churches and schools that were dominated by German culture, the greatest impact of the book was how it made me rethink everything I'd been taught about Jews. (Unscrupulously greedy. Killed Jesus. Automatically going to Hell.) Here was the fresh antidote to the heartbreaking guilt of Anne Frank and Corrie ten Boom, along with an electric cattle prod of enlightenment for a child indoctrinated with the party line about how Jews …

FEAR OF FLYING by Erica Jong

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Fear of Flying at 15 and 50: Still one of my favorite booksAmazon Verified Purchase(What's this?) This review is from: Fear of Flying (Isadora Wing) (Kindle Edition) I first read FEAR OF FLYING in 1977. I was 15. My algebra teacher nicked it from my hand, threw it in the trash can and told me it was pornographic garbage, but I was already halfway through the book and smart enough to know that wasn't true. I rescued the book and spent a few weeks in detention, but it was well worth it. FEAR OF FLYING blew my tiny mind on several levels.

Because of the open discussion of sex in FEAR OF FLYING, some of the other important themes get back-burnered. For me, having been raised in the 1960s attending Wisconsin Synod Lutheran churches and schools that were dominated by German culture, the greatest impact of the book was how it made me rethink everything I'd been taught about Jews. (Unscrupulously greedy. Killed Jesus. Automatically going to Hell.) Here was the fresh antidote to the…

Dwight Okita's THE PROSPECT OF MY ARRIVAL

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Genius idea, complex journey, beautifully delivered

I loved this book. The premise is genius, and the beautiful writing totally delivered the goods.

I was intrigued when I saw the trailer. It sounded like "Benjamin Button" meets "What Dreams May Come"; could the author actually pull that off? You're in some very dicey territory, endowing the unborn with a persona. I suspect a lot of editors and agents would look at that and glaze over instantly. Not gonna touch that with a vaccinated cattle prod.

This book is not a no-brainer. It's quirky and delicious. Like ice cream with bacon. But it's also profoundly uncomfortable in places. One moment two loving parents are tucking their child in under a magical lit up ferris wheel mural, the next moment something incredibly dark unfolds. (And here the editor who hoped for an easy trip to the acquisition committee coughed coffee and hit "delete"...) What keeps you reading is the austerely lovely writing and …

The fabulous Mavis Staples: "Hard Times Come Again No More" ('Nuff said.)

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Vissi d'arte (I have lived for art)

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Barbara Taylor Sissel's THE VOLUNTEER

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If you love Jodi Picoult and Anita Shreve, read Barbara Taylor Sissel

Another richly told story from a wonderfully talented author. Barbara Taylor Sissel weaves beautiful novels from fine, unexpected threads. Characters are complex and thoughtful. Places are fragrant and real. Conversations ring true and meaningful. Plots unfold with startling but graceful turns. This is a terrific author I want everyone to discover. She does an amazing job of first making us care about these people, pinging curiosity just enough with the mystery surrounding the codex, then pretty much tearing our hearts out with the beautifully written final chapters.

THE VOLUNTEER is a satisfying read, and that's enough in itself, but I think book clubs will find a whole additional dimension for discussion. Beyond the big questions that gray the core topic of capital punishment, there's the complicated realm of family relationships, the definition of "the honorable thing" and whether or not it's …

Eric Coyote's THE LONG DRUNK (Kirkus Reviews Best of 2012)

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Fear and Loathing meets Ironweed - a hilarious heroic journey on the skids

I hardly know where to begin. The most off-putting first chapter you'll ever be hooked by? The most offensive protagonist you'll ever love? The most revolting cast of wretches you'll ever stand up and cheer for? I just finished reading THE LONG DRUNK, and I honestly don't know which of us is more appalling: Eric Coyote for writing this bodily-fluid-soaked misadventure or me for loving it.

Coyote very wisely opens with a poetically vivid glimpse of Venice's underbelly before plunging us into the unfiltered conversations and filthy hand to mouth existence of Murphy, the damaged anti-hero, and his fallen crew. If I hadn't had that preface - that initial assurance that, yes, this is an incredibly talented writer - I wouldn't have made it through the first chapter. Not a punch is pulled, not a frack is given, not a politically correct construct is spared. Murphy is on a noble quest, but wha…