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Archive for December, 2011

Soon we will all be singing Auld Lang Syne as that mighty crystal ball drops in New York City ushering in the New Year with all of its chances, goals and mystique. That is the moment. That is the second on this earth every year when you are looking ahead to another three hundred and sixty-five days and thinking about all the amazing things that could occur. At that one moment in time, everything is still fresh and new, and absolutely anything is possible. If you’re an entrepreneur, perhaps this is the year that you will open that long-awaited business and become bigger than Trump, himself. Perhaps you will write the next bestselling novel and your name will be mentioned by the media in the same sentence as, Jane Austen, Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and the beloved J.K. Rowling. Perhaps you will sing out the words to Auld Lang Syne so loudly and with such perfection that the whole wide world will stop to listen, because you’ve just proven that you are the next Justin Bieber. That’s the moment of sheer nirvana – where you look forward to being the ‘best of the best’ in 2012.

But there is something that also happens at that moment, and is the basis of the song you will be singing; the rhetorical question of whether or not it is right that ‘old times be forgotten.’ The answer? Absolutely not. This old song is a call – a shout out to the ones you love. These lyrics remind you of the friends who have stood beside you during your toughest times, and the family members that were so precious in your life who have now been taken up to Heaven – to run free in the fields with St. Francis and his animals. The losses that 2011 brought to many were difficult – more than a few hearts were broken. But those ‘days gone by,’ and the people who graced us with their presence and left our world far too soon, should most definitely be remembered and coveted for all time. Here are just a few…

Elizabeth Taylor: Her heart gleamed brighter than her jewels.

Jack LaLanne: Attempted to get the world off fast food and onto his workout machines.

Betty Ford: A woman who struggled with her own illness while fighting for the best that this country had to offer

Steve Jobs: The heart of a warrior, the soul of an angel, and the mind of a genius

Elliot Handler: Without him – no Barbie, no Hot wheels, no childhood.

Clarence Clemons: He was ‘The Boss’ – even Springsteen will agree.

Amy Winehouse: A spirit that was too late to save, but a voice that will live on forever

Al Davis: Go Raiders!

Andy Whitfield: Spartacus!

Arch West: Life without Doritos would’ve ‘sucked cheese.’

Arthur Laurents: West Side Story, Gypsy, La Cage Aux Folles – a true writer!

Bill Keane: Taught us what a ‘circus’ a family can be in every newspaper across the globe.

Bubba Smith: Moses Hightower in Police Academy. The laughs kept on coming…

Cliff Robertson: An Academy Award didn’t stop him from standing up for what was right!

Dan Wheldon: He went out in a blaze of glory doing what he loved, and sped quickly through Heaven’s gate.

Dorothy Emma Howell Rodham: a strong woman who brought the rest of the world one of the strongest women we will ever meet…and we NEED her!

Duke Snider: The Brooklyn Dodgers were lucky.

Harmon Killebrew: The ‘Killer’ who could hit a home run with his eyes closed.

Heavy D: The kindest man that anyone had ever met…and the most talented.

Jane Russell: Stunning…

Joe Frazier: An icon in the ‘ring’ and out.

Jerry Robinson: Without the Joker, Batman just wouldn’t have been Batman.

Michael Gough: A slew of films and the ‘watcher over Batman’ – again, the ‘Caped Crusader’ took the hit.

Anne McCaffrey: The science fiction writer who went out with pen in hand and imagination flowing.

Peter Falk: There will never be ANY detective as good as Columbo. There is just NO chance!

Harry Morgan: M.A.S.H. said it all, and Colonel Potter was the one we all wanted as our grandfather.

Yes…there were more. In all aspects of life – political, social, music, movies, directing, writing music, sports – people touched our lives on so many levels that they will never be forgotten. As people, we have had our own personal tragedies, as well. And we will never forget our own families and friends who are now in those fields with St. Francis watching over us and making sure that we do not join them before our time.

This writer’s saddest loss of 2011 was the great, Andy Rooney. The wit, the charm – from the writing to the delivery – he knew what life was about, what was going wrong, and didn’t apologize. An inspiration and a voice that is sorely missed.

This year marked the 10th anniversary of 9/11: Nothing to say…silence…

And our men and women who fought courageously: Thank God for them…

Everyone has their story of loss – some quick, some tragic, some a slow, final bow as they move on to reunite with their loved ones who have gone before. But the memories of each day, each second that we had with them, need to never be forgotten. They need to be cherished; stories need to be told of the person they were; the wisdom they offered needs to be passed down to the next generation; and the humorous moments that we were lucky enough to be a part of, as well as the sheer spirit that they brought into our lives, has to be remembered.

So as this New Year comes to pass and we gear up for a 2012 that we hope will be filled with luck, light, and laughter, we must always remember the beauty of the people who touched our lives and shared with us the ‘gifts’ that God gave to them.

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne…

We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.

We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine;
But seas between us broad have roared,
since auld lang syne.

And here’s a hand my trusty friend!
And give us a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne.
We’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

Have a Safe and Blessed New Year

 

Until Next Time, Everybody.

Amy

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See the new cover for the YA series to be released in February!  Tell me what you think!

 Image

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Is there a new book series that could star Robert Pattinson?  It seems so…

Leah Tallent is in love. She’s in love with the New York Public Library. The young librarian loves everything about the library – the building, the history, the two lion statues guarding its entrance and the books. Oh, those glorious books! Leah lives for the days when she can spend time with her beloved books and has a talent for absorbing their knowledge like a sponge. In fact, she’s read, and remembered, so much that she is truly a walking/talking card catalog who can extract a myriad of information from all the books she’s read at the drop of a hat.

What Leah Tallent doesn’t love are the hoards of obnoxious students who come trashing through her beloved library on a daily basis. These kids don’t appreciate the amazing history found within the walls of the library – do they even read? – and Leah hates nothing more than having to spend time with the bratty school children. So when a hunky substitute teacher walks in with his class, Leah wants to run the other way. She quite happily lets her colleague Skylar go in for the kill. But Gareth Lowery, the gorgeous, blond-haired, green-eyed teacher is apparently only interested in Leah. Leah, however, gladly leaves him and his hoard to concentrate on her work.

Leah, alas, has not seen the last of Gareth Lowery. Next, he shows up at a Library fundraiser as a very important, very rich, benefactor. Leah’s boss enlists her help to give the donor a VIP tour, which she reluctantly agrees to. While she doesn’t particularly care for Gareth, his friend Donovan Barker truly makes her flesh crawl. After giving Gareth the brush off yet again, Leah comes face-to-face with him in a rather unexpected place – the basement of the library.

The unexpected meeting in the library basement, in which Leah finds herself tied up and seething with anger at Gareth, slowly turns into a heated, and intense, discussion of Heaven and Hell. Gareth insists that he is in the midst of solving the world’s greatest puzzle and by finding twelve keys based on the twelve astrological signs, will soon find the entrance to Heaven. Leah’s curiosity is slowly piqued and, against her better judgment, she agrees to help Gareth.

As Leah delves further into Gareth’s quest, she learns that there are twelve orbs, hidden around the world, that represent the twelve astrological signs. Six of the orbs represent the good of Heaven, and six represent the evil of Hell. All twelve are required to solve the puzzle. Gareth has already found six of the orbs, but he needs Leah, and her card catalog mind, to find the remaining orbs. Together they embark on a quest that takes them to California to Sarah Winchester’s mansion, said to be haunted by the spirits killed by Winchester rifles. From California, the pair head to England to explore the spot where Jack the Ripper killed his last victim and then on to Loch Ness to the house of Aleister Crowley, the founder of a rather odd religious philosophy. Through each search, the clues and the orbs’ hiding places are all connected to the number 13. What is the meaning of “13” and will it lead somehow, to finding the entrance to Heaven?

This first in a planned seven book series is an absolutely must read thriller. The action starts within the first few chapters and doesn’t let up until the very end. The really fun part is that the author has used real places in her story, and if she hasn’t visited each one, it sure reads like she has. Details were so perfect that you could heard the creak of the floorboards in Sarah Winchester’s home and smell the musty dankness in Aleister Crowley’s basement. Be sure to keep your computer handy as you’ll want to look up each of these places and learn more about their creepy history.

Lignor keeps the pace moving at a brisk rate, helped along by the snappy dialog that brings the characters to life. Leah was a standout and while she hated Gareth from the get-go, you could feel the heat building between the two. It added a bit of spice to an already great mystery.

Tallent & Lowery: 13 has it all – suspense, mystery, action, a little history, hot and sizzling romance, and great characters. Read this book before the movie comes out because if a studio doesn’t pick it up, they’re missing a great one.

Maybe it’s time for Robert Pattinson to give up the fangs and head into an Indiana Jones-esque mode!

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Hey everyone.  I was just informed that I am a winner of the Goodreads Writing Contest and I wanted to take the time to say thank you!  Below is the story that brought home the win!  I hope you enjoy!

The Reaper

I always said I would die in snow. God, I hated that stuff. Pounds and pounds of icy-cold crap that everyone in town called ‘pretty’ and ‘lovely.’ There was nothing pretty about it. And that old adage about sitting in front of a roaring fire with the one you love, looking out at the beautiful deer standing in the Norman Rockwell snowfall, is a bunch of crap that some writer made up to set a romantic scene. Frankly, a palm tree, an island, a hot guy, and a margarita with one of those fun little umbrellas would’ve been far more romantic.

But…here I am. The motorcycle underneath me is sputtering; even the metal body is sick and tired of being out here in the cold, not to mention the middle of nowhere. This is my hometown – a speck on the butt of humanity. Talk about small and boring. Besides the cars rusting, there’s not a whole lot of adventure to be found in these woods.

I glance over and see the little orange balls – the pumpkins sitting in their patch waiting for the kids to come and choose. Yup. Not even Halloween yet and the little would-be jack-o’-lanterns are already being covered with a blanket of snow that is SUPPOSED to wait for at least Christmas to get here. The graveyard is on the other side of me. The old, broken rock wall sits there, a sad bit of protection for the bones. The 19th century headstones are falling apart, lined up like an army just waiting to be summoned from their graves to take the rest of us out. Of course, even they don’t want to come out in this.

It’s too bad I wasn’t looking ahead of me instead of at the souls who were supposedly resting in peace. If I had, I might’ve seen the black sheen of ice peeking up from underneath the white blanket. I also would’ve seen the headlights come around the corner doing eighty miles an hour. But…all I ended up seeing was the tree – the big old oak that’d been the site of many accidents over the years. Hell, even some of my high school friends had bit the big one on this curve. And now…I was going to join them.

The impact was brutal. Now I know what a quarterback feels like when nine of those big guys sack him. Oddly enough, I stood up, and tried to get the helmet off that was now caved in and stuck to my head. I watched the car careen across the road and slam into the rock wall. The door opened with a squeal that sounded like my mother’s scream when I hadn’t taken the garbage out like she asked me to do six times in a row – it was that harsh. A body rolled out. Talk about long, flowing hair. If he stood up, he’d probably look like one of those Grecian soldiers ready for battle. But he stayed there, in the snow, curled up in a little ball. He looked like he had made a comfortable bed in the wintry slop, and was resting until the dawn. I walked a bit closer to see. Of course! Turns out my murderer WAS the star quarterback.

When the sky lit up it wasn’t with fire from the smoking car, or a bright light from up above – it was blue. A dark blue that seemed to shimmer and turn the bright white snow into an ice-cold ocean. The figure that suddenly appeared just stood in the graveyard looking around. The robe was black and tattered; the face was nonexistent, except for a pair of yellow eyes that seemed to go back and forth between the long, flowing blond hair resting in the snow bank, and me.

I struggled to get the helmet off, but I couldn’t. I tried to run, but it was like my feet were stuck in the ice. The creature’s scythe shone in the blue light. Yup. This was him. I always thought it was just another writer’s imagination, but it seems that the Grim Reaper I had heard so much about was real. Of course I knew he wasn’t here for me. After all, I was seventeen and, except for my bad attitude, I hadn’t done anything really sinful yet. So I waited for that burst of white light everyone always talked about. I figured if the dark dude was real, there must be some kind of angel waiting to take me up.

The Reaper looked at the figure covered in white and the mess of blond hair, and then marched right over to me. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t get the damn helmet off. Grabbing me by the arm, I just…disappeared. The darkness surrounded me and I was simply no longer a part of life.

Too bad I didn’t get to stay for a couple of seconds. Only then would I have known that the angel did exist. Apparently he was just new on the job and went to the wrong place. Of course, when we met later on I didn’t blame him – everything looks the same in this town so it’s easy to get confused. He had looked at the blonde hair, too, thinking it was ‘the female’ in the snow, and reached out to bring ‘her’ up. Unfortunately, he had the wrong one…and so did The Reaper. And you will not believe how pissed off his boss was.

But, let’s just say, my world got a whole lot more exciting!

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As all readers and movie goers know right now – of any age, guys and gals – young adult books, television and movies are the end all and be all of entertainment. When you look back, it really was Mr. Potter with his owl sidekick and two best friends who turned the literary world upside down. In 1998, there certainly was no big ‘cry out’ in the world for a boy whose Aunt and Uncle loathed him enough to make him sleep in a cupboard underneath the stairs, but when you look back over a decade, you can certainly see that this one character WAS needed to offset a world that constantly talks about war, economic horrors, job deprivation, and other equally hideous subjects. We needed a hero! And we still need them.

Harry Potter was the ‘best of the best,’ and even though the last five or six years have gone from wizard to vampire, every reader can thank Ms. Rowling for opening the door to some of the richest, most delectable characters in fiction.

The end of the year lists are coming out – a totality of what 2011 brought to us all – and YA fiction is on the top of that list. The best heroes of all the books this year that sucked readers in and made them dream of the dark and mysterious; as well as the wounded ones needing a girl to understand them, or needing to save said girl so that their hearts could be full. (Although, no one has explained to this author quite yet why vampires would have such huge hearts considering they’re dead and their hearts don’t beat anymore.) BUT, that’s the world of fiction. Are Edward and Jacob classified as heroes. Well…seems that old Bella ended up doing a lot more than they did – but…it is what it is. (Although, you do have to give the chick props for pushing out that baby. Talk about a horrendous pregnancy, to say the least.)

But there are many others that have gone to the top of the heap. And today, we will look at them all. Some are coming to your screens – some may be coming to screens soon – and there is one, put out at the end of this year, that is quickly becoming the most talked about ‘new’ YA fiction on the market. And, boy, Raighne is one of the best heroes this YA novel lover has ever read about. And, frankly, Ian Somerhalder was born to bring this fantastic YA hero to the big screen.

This writer sat down with a group of young ladies and young men ranging in age from sixteen to twenty-one (but, trust me, there were Mom’s there as well who had input, seeing as that these YA titles are just as important to them). The conversation was beyond interesting, as they narrowed down their list to what they feel were the best heroes written A couple I’m sure you were ready for, but a couple, perhaps not. But above all, these are the characters that got to them. Without Edward, who didn’t materialize, there were a few other fanged ones for your enjoyment.

Michael Glass has a huge following. From the series, The Morganville Vampires, which is a HUGE series of YA novels written by Rachel Caine, the story concentrates on Claire Danvers and her housemates, who live in the vampire-controlled city of Morganville, Texas. Michael Glass, is a native of this ‘odd’ town. The owner of the Glass House, he is Shane Collins’ best friend and Eve Rosser’s boyfriend. When we began, Michael thought of Claire as a little sister when she arrived in town and joined the other three as their fourth roommate. Soon readers were a part of Michael’s mysterious disappearances during the day and learning that he had basically become a ghost – vanishing by day and corporeal at night. In this state, Michael could draw power from the house itself, but he couldn’t actually cannot leave the house to protect his friends. What to do? He became one of the fanged ones, and this tremendously responsible, mature and charming young boy captured many a female heart.

Hush, Hush, written by Becca Fitzpatrick is another that was talked about A LOT! Written from the perspective of Nora Grey, this young girl finds her life in danger when she becomes involved with Patch – a fallen angel with a dark connection to Nora. Her quest for answers lands her in turmoil after turmoil, finally leading her to the stunning revelation that Patch fell from Heaven and was meant to kill her, explaining why he was in her school to begin with. This is one of those heroes that is the heart throb, yet he is often described as a boy scout and his kind and noble manner definitely makes readers swoon.

City of Bones was the first in The Mortal Instruments series written by Cassandra Clare. Set in New York, this series has received some considerable praise from all the major bestseller lists and literary magazines, and a big reason why is Jace Wayland. Jace is a Shadowhunter, orphaned at a young age by the murder of his father, who now lives with the Lightwoods and Hodge Starkweather at the Institute. He is said to be the best Shadowhunter his age, and is described as having golden hair, eyes, and skin, making him popular with girls. Yes, he is a bit arrogant, to say the least, but is a very kind and thoughtful person underneath. Clary Fray is the ultimate heroine in this set of novels, but Jace is the one who really gets hearts a-pumpin’.

This one may come as a surprise to some, but during the meeting, The Underland Chronicles was still spoken about as having a hero that no one, as yet, has beaten. A five-part series of fantasy novels that were published between 2003 and 2007 by the ultimate writer – Suzanne Collins. The critical acclaim and awards were huge for Gregor, and this eleven-year-old hero became a true literary figure for girls and boys. With his two-year-old sister, Boots, Gregor appears in the Underland that offers giant spiders, rats, and cockroaches living in harmony with humans. Because a prophecy foretells it, Gregor’s arrival is treated as no accident. And when he learns his father’s disappearance has something to do with the Underland, Gregor reluctantly embarks on life-changing adventures. (If you haven’t read them – read them). This is really no surprise being as that this writer also went on to create the hugely popular Hunger Games series!

Ahh…those darn vampires. Dimitri Belikov came from the mind of Richelle Mead and her Vampire Academy series. Dimitri is known as a ‘Russian god’ to readers – dedicated, loyal, and a fierce warrior, this six-foot-seven hero is sent to Portland to bring Princess Lissa and Rose Hathaway back to St. Vladimir’s Academy. He is a twenty-four year old guardian, and with a slight Russian accent, he is also a lover of western novels, and a duster is most definitely part of his wardrobe. Although first being described as an anti-social god because of his preference for being alone, he captured females hearts and the film rights have been sold. It has even been rumored that Ben Barnes will take on the leading role, however, that is all still up in the air.

And the newest hero to come into our world? He comes from a place called Vaalbara, and the amazing locales and plot that author, Michelle Horst, has put together are blowing people’s minds out of the waterfall (so to speak). Beginning with a new student named Ryan coming to a school that is inhabited by a shy, sarcastic young girl named Aislinn, this particular hero speaks as if he’s from another time and place. It doesn’t take long for the readers to learn that Ryan is actually Raighne – a guardian sent to bring Aislinn (real name Alchera) back to her home of Vaalbara. Stepping through a waterfall is how Alchera finds herself back home and learns her destiny of having to retrieve the Ten Chosen Ones from Earth. The immortals on Vaalbara must train this long lost girl but for fans, the heart throb Raighne by her side is what has readers riveted to the page

Raighne must deal with a lot when it comes to the woman he loves – even when she begins to find the ‘bad guy’ slightly charming. This, too, is a series that all YA readers are beginning to ‘attach’ themselves to, and with the slight rumor (and rumor only, people) that the author wants no one else besides Ian Somerhalder to head through that waterfall, fans are chomping at the bit to see this happen!

What’s up next, you ask? Readers are looking for those angels – and not just the fallen ones. What many people are hearing around the campfire is that Tribute Books is about to release a series in 2012 that will produce an angel/warrior team that all ages will love. A smoking romance, trials, tribulations, history, and plot twists that don’t follow anything that has been seen before. Want a hint? The Angel Chronicles (and, no, we’re not talking about Buffy’s beau). The first in the series is scheduled for February titled, Until Next Time, and there are many in the industry already calling this series a ‘fresh’ piece of YA fiction. Although the fanged ones are still beloved, the conversation amongst this group turned to discovering some real angels out there who simply want to fight for the rest of us. God knows…we all need them! Perhaps even Mr. Radcliffe can drop the wand and don the wings for this one.

So from a wizard who had to battle Voldemort comes fanged ones, an Overlander, a Shadowhunter, a stunning hero named Raighne who sparks the internal fires – and a world of angels that is about to commence. Old Mr. Potter did a darn fine job!

Until Next Time, Everybody!

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