Deeeeeeeeez are a Few of my Favorite Things

Trish had a fun post the other day about 10 things she loved that started with the letter O. It’s a meme and to play along, I had to leave a comment and wait for Trish to bestow me with my very own letter. She bestowed me with the letter D. At first I thought, could she have picked a harder letter?? Then I thought, yeah, I guess she could have given me X or Q or U and I’d be stuck talking about x-rays or Quantum Leap or underwear. So Trish, thanks for D. It’s not so bad.

Now I get to bestow others. I’m liking the word bestow.. it makes me feel royal and powerful. Bestow, bestow, bestow. Would you like me to bestow a letter on you, my dear? If so, leave a comment and I’ll bestow you with one (Oh, crap! My tiara just fell off!)

guy-fieri_med1. Diners, Drive-ins and Dives

I love this Food Network show and it’s host, Guy Fieri! He’s a blast! He’s a dude who loves good, real food and isn’t worried about calories and presentation so much as taste. Guy was the 2007 winner of The Next Food Network Star (kind of a foodie American Idol).

images-32. David Cook

Speaking of American Idol, I love last year’s winner, David Cook! I find his voice so raw and sexy- there, I said it! And I’m old enough to be his, er, um, older sister! Or aunt! (Yeah, that’s it!) Click HERE to watch his latest video for Light On, a song I’ve been enjoying a lot lately on my iPod (the embed feature is disabled or I’d show it here).

3. Diet Coke

I’ve been on and off the wagon many times over the years, but this magical elixir is what gets me moving in the morning and keeps me going all day. How many do I drink each day? Roughly a 6 pack. I know- it’s bad. I have read all the emails about how you can clean toilets with it and remove rust and etc. and yet, I still partake. My insides are probably all rotted- or perhaps iron-clad.

4. DUDE

This word has inserted itself into my everyday conversation. I blame her. And her. I realized it was bad when I caught myself oooing and ahhhing over a baby at my daughters’ school and found myself saying to his mother, “Aw, dude, he is so cute!” Last night I said to my daughter, “Dude, I can’t take anymore whining. Just finish your homework” and my daughter said, “Dude?” Ok, perhaps it’s time to remove this too-hip word from the vocabulary of my non-hip self. But dude, have you seen this T Mobile commercial? I love it.

images-15. Dunder Mifflin

I’m a HUGE fan of The Office!! HUGE! My husband is from Scranton, PA and we spend 3 weeks there every summer, so we chuckle over local references. But I watch because the writing is brilliant, and I find it hysterical. I have friends who don’t get it, but to them I say- Dude, don’t call me on Thursday nights! I completely clear my schedule to get my JimandPam fix!

6. Dawn

I like dawn- as in morning’s first light. It’s dark when I get up and I love to watch the sunrise. I do it almost every day from an east-facing upstairs window. It’s peaceful to spend that time alone before the rest of the family starts moving around. It calms me and makes me happy. I also like Dawn– as in awesome, well known book blogger.

Jasmine meets PorkChop the guineau pig

Jasmine meets PorkChop the guineau pig

7. Dogs

Ok, truth be told, I don’t love ALL dogs, but I do love MY dog. Jasmine is a sweet, loving golden retriever who sheds like crazy but wants nothing more out of life than to be near me. What’s not to love? Oh, and Sheri? I respect the leash laws!

8. Denim

I’m a girl who loves her jeans and can be found in them just about every day. They are so versatile. I wear them everywhere, and why not? You can dress them up or down. I’ve got my skinny jeans, my fat jeans, my baggy jeans, my dressy jeans. I’ve got jeans with a dark wash and jeans that are super faded. I’ve worn them all my life and will always and forever be on the search for the perfect pair.

9. Dark Chocolate

I have a bowl of Dove dark chocolate hearts sitting nearby, but not too close. I actually have to cross the room to get to them, otherwise they would be way too dangerous. I’d eat them all! I love all those studies that say dark chocolate is good for you. I’m sure they mean in very small doses, right? Not 10 or 12 pieces at a time?

images-210. Daisies

Of the Gerbera variety. They are my favorite.

Review: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

imagedbcgiFuku. Call it bad karma, bad luck, legend, curse, or a Dominican ‘F-you’, but the family in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz cannot get away from it.

The family is doing a balancing act between two cultures. Oscar is an obese, sci-fi loving, nerdy teen living in New Jersey with his mom (who fled the Dominican Republic as a young adult) and his brilliant volatile sister, Lola. He wants nothing more than to be understood and to someday lose his virginity. He has high hopes for getting a girl to talk to him in college, but alas nothing changes there and the nerdy boy becomes a broken-hearted, socially awkward man when a girl he idolizes wants to be “just friends”. Fuku has followed his mother from the islands to New Jersey- mom has breast cancer, Oscar can’t get laid, and Lola’s relationships are doomed.

However, the book isn’t really about Oscar or his tragic family so much as it is about politics in the Dominican Republic, a place where you can get the snot beaten out of you for making a joke, where falling in love with the wrong person can get you killed, where defending your daughter from being raped by a public official can land you in jail for 18 years. No wonder the people believe in Fuku. How else to explain the atrocities inflicted on them by a corrupt government and a treacherous regime?

The book skips around from present day to the past. There are many fascinating stories being told, which gives a solid foundation and back story to Oscar and his family.

Let’s talk about footnotes. I HATE THEM anywhere outside of a research paper, and this book has a ton of them. They were informative and interesting, sometimes funny, yet lengthy, disruptive and annoying to me.

The narrator of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao speaks in a hip, edgy ghetto voice peppered with tons of slang and expletives in both English and Spanish. It was a powerful, interesting voice, but I have to admit that my white bread suburban soccer mom ears didn’t catch all of it. As someone said in the comments HERE, I had to let the book and it’s language wash over me, and while there were words on every single page that I didn’t know- Spanish words, Dominican place names, cultural references, and many English words, too- I believe I caught the gist of the book.

The narrator, Yunior, is himself a character in the book (my favorite character, actually), but doesn’t become a part of the story until about halfway through. He tries to help Oscar socially, but when you are cursed, who can really help you? Oscar is who he is.

So. Did I like this book? I did. It was really different and I can safely say that I’ve never read anything like it. It is powerful. It is deep. It made me feel ignorant and insulated in my little American bubble. Would I recommend it? Absolutely.  But for another take on it, see Sheri’s review from A Novel Menagerie HERE.  She’s just joined my real life book club and we’ll be discussing it next weekend.

Here’s a video of author Junot Diaz at the Sydney Writer’s Festival, talking about Oscar (totally entertaining and worth watching if you’ve read this book or if you intend to):

Junot Diaz is a professor at MIT and won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao in 2008.

Discussion questions for reading groups can be found HERE.

Brendan Fraser is HOT

Before the movie:

Mom, can we go to the movies?

What movie do you want to see?

Journey to the Center of the Earth in 3-D.

Sounds interesting.. who’s in it?

I don’t know, let me check (click click click).  Ok it says Brandon Fraser.

Do you mean Brendan Fraser?  

B-R-E-N..  ok, yeah.  I guess.

Sure, let’s go!  I love Brendan Fraser.  He’s hot.

EWWW Gross!  Mom!  He’s old!

Old?!?  He’s younger than I am!

Oh.  (giggle, giggle).  Well.  It’s still gross to say he’s hot.  Geez, Mom.

Whatever.

(more giggles)

After the movie:

Hey, Mom, you were right about that guy.

What guy?

The old guy in the movie.

Brendan Fraser?

Yeah.  He’s pretty cool and he’s got muscles and stuff.

Um hmm.

And he was nice and really smart.  I mean, he was a scientist and they’re smart.  And his eyes were..

Gorgeous?

NO!!  Geez, Mom.

Brown?

No.  

What then?

I don’t know the word.  But you knew what he was thinking just by looking at his eyes.

Expressive?

Maybe that’s it.  Anyway, you were right.

That Brendan Fraser is hot?

(giggles) Mom, he’s not hot like HOT, but he’s hot for an old guy.

Yeah, I think you’re right.

Guest Post: Do Book Trailers Sell Books? by Cheryl Kaye Tardif

Do Book Trailers Sell Books? by Cheryl Kaye Tardif

There’s been a lot of discussion about book trailers on this blog and elsewhere on the ‘Net, and the question is: Do book trailers sell books? As an author who has no access to knowing where book buyers come from or whether they bought because of a trailer, I am very interested in the answer to this question. 

Personally, some trailers have led to me buying a book. I bought Mothering Mother by Carol D. O’Dell based on her book trailer and info. The info drew me in, the trailer sold me. I’ve seen awesome trailers and some that are just not that well done. 

Derek Armstrong and Kam Wai Yu, of Persona Corp fame and now Kunati Books, were the original creators of the book trailer. That was years ago. Technology has changed and trailers have become more complex, more attractive to readers and far more acceptable. 

Book trailers vary in style. Some are text only with dramatic music. Those can definitely be appealing, since nothing else distracts the viewer. Other trailers are live video—and showcase actors. Unfortunately, many look like amateur videos and the acting can be…well, let’s say, uninspired. 

Recently I watched Dean Koontz’s Odd Passenger “webisodes” (or Internet movie chapters) on YouTube. It is basically four short book trailers that, combined, tell a creepy story. The acting won’t win any Academy Awards; however, it’s solid enough and the camera shots are professional enough that I was hooked. Reel me in, Odd! I’ve ordered the latest Odd book because of these webisodes. 

So now, I’ll be brave and share with you the book trailer that Kunati Books made for my latest novel…Whale Song. I hope you enjoy, and please leave a comment and tell me what you think. Does this video intrigue you, tease you, leave you wanting more? Does it make you want to order Whale Song? Have you ever bought a book because of the book trailer? Enquiring minds (mine!) wanna know. 

 

Buy Whale Song on Amazon.com.

 ~Cheryl Kaye Tardif, author of Whale Song, The River, and Divine Intervention

http://www.whalesongbook.com

http://www.cherylktardif.com 

Kandide and The Secret of the Mists

Our book club has taken an odd turn–

This fall we will read Kandide and the Secret of the Mists, a book meant for 9-12 year old readers (let’s just say we are all a wee bit older than that).  It’s all faeries and magical worlds and enchanting adventure, not my usual interests!  But one of our members is a friend of Diane Zimmerman, the author, and she will be attending our meeting in person.  That’s a rare opportunity and one we did not want to pass up.  Ms. Zimmerman is also a professional magician at the Magic Castle in LA- pretty cool! Several of us (myself included) have children that fall into the 9-12 age range, so we’re going to ask them to read the book along with us and include them in our meeting.

The trailer is quite good!  Check it out:

 

 

Click HERE for a Promo Code to save 25% on Kandide!

Has your book club ever read something completely different like this?  If so, how did it go?  

Guest Post and Giveaway: Phyllis Zimbler Miller, author of Mrs. Lieutenant

Author Phyllis Zimbler Miller talks about her book, Mrs. Lieutenant, and how she’s had to become proficient at online marketing and html! Please leave a comment here by June 30th for a chance to win a copy of Mrs. Lieutenant. Oh, and that is the real Mrs. Lieutenant at a Coronation Ball in 1967. What a lovely up-do!

I’m reading Stephanie Chandler’s new book “The Author’s Guide to Building an Online Platform” with the subtitle “Leveraging the Internet to Sell More Books.” It’s one of several such books I’ve read as well as numerous teleseminars I’ve listened to along with attending John Kremer’s two-day marketing event 10 Million Eyeballs.

All the advice is excellent – and if I could replicate into 4 to 6 copies of myself, I’d be able to follow all this terrific advice in the next, say, two to three years.

And yet the truth remains that an author has to self-promote or get completely overlooked. In 1992 when the Jewish holiday book SEASONS FOR CELEBRATION that I co-wrote with Rabbi Karen L. Fox came out, she and I had to do all our own marketing. At least now, thanks to the internet, this is easier to do – as well as harder because there are many more opportunities to chase.

Just the “simple” question of my blog for MRS. LIEUTENANT: A SHARON GOLD NOVEL: How do I attract people to the blog? Where else can I post the blog? Is what I’m writing on the blog of any interest to anyone else? And, oh, could I somehow magically learn html so I could add fancy “things” to my blog?

Yet I do believe that authors self-promoting through blogs is very important. Only perhaps very important on other people’s blogs – blogs that have been around longer and have a loyal following. In fact, I’m on a virtual book tour this month through Pump Up Your Book Promotion – and I’m really enjoying writing guest posts and being introduced to some great blogs.

In addition, I’m co-sponsoring “Tell-Your-Own-Story,” a contest for military spouses in connection with season 2 of Lifetime Channel’s ARMY WIVES television series. The contest is HERE, and Lifetime is contributing prizes.

MRS. LIEUTENANT is told from the point of view of four women (read a chapter from each HERE. These women in the spring of 1970 come together because their husbands report for Armor Officers Basic at Ft. Knox, Kentucky, during the Vietnam War.

I wrote the novel because of the experiences I had as a new army officer’s wife – I wanted to share this specific time in women’s social history. And, yet, I do think the novel has much relevance for today, especially as the U.S. heads into a Presidential campaign in which race will undoubtedly be an issue as well as the current unpopular war.

I’m hoping book clubs will discuss MRS. LIEUTENANT, and for that reason I wrote book group discussion questions and provided these as a download off the home page of my website. (SPOILER ALERT: Skip question 7 until you’ve read the book.)

Recently on a podcast interview I was asked what I hope to achieve with my book. The answer: besides entertainment and a window into a past era, the opportunity for people to consider their own prejudices from the safety of a book’s pages.

A former Midwesterner and “Mrs. Lieutenant,” Phyllis Zimbler Miller lives in Los Angeles with her husband. She got a B.A. in Journalism from Michigan State University and an M.B.A. in Finance from The Wharton School. She’s the co-author of the Jewish holiday book SEASONS FOR CELEBRATION and, besides working on the sequel to MRS LIEUTENANT, she currently writes three blogs: www.mrslieutenant.blogspot.com, the teen and young people advice blog www.flippingburgersandbeyond.blogspot.com, and her newest blog www.dogooderscrooge.blogspot.com. She’s on an intense self-directed course to learn internet marketing, and her biggest addiction is clicking the “buy now” for books she sees on Amazon.


Note from Lisa, Books on the Brain: I haven’t read this book yet, but check out the reviews at Fizzy Thoughts and Planet Books.

Janeology by Karen Harrington


It’s strange the way books come into our hands sometimes.  There was no way I was NOT going to read this book, because the author has the same name as my sister!  I ran across Karen Harrington’s name at Pump Up Your Book Promotion where she did a virtual book tour in May, and before long I was emailing the author to tell her of this odd coincidence with her name and wish her well with the tour.  She offered to send me the book, which I’ve been referring to as JANE-ology (Jane is the mother’s name in the book), but perhaps it’s Jay-Nee-Ology, which is more similar to geneology and would also make sense for this story.. I’m not sure.  Anyhoo, I started it yesterday and whipped through the first 60 pages-  let’s just say I *think* the kids had dinner and took baths before going to bed!  

Janeology has a book trailer, much like a preview for a movie.  Is this a new thing, or am I just stupid? Don’t answer that.  Let me rephrase it:  Am I simply the last to know about book trailers??  Anyway, it’s quite dramatic– check it out!

We’ll Return to Book Discussion After This Message..

This is so stinkin’ cute!  ALMOST as cute as THIS!

He Is Awesome

Wow.  Just wow.

My Idol Favorite

David Cook is amazing with this mesmerizing version of Billie Jean.