Quote of the Week: J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Rings

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.

“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

~    J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

In this scene, Frodo is lamenting all that has transpired: Bilbo’s discovery of the ring, his unwelcome possession of it, the threat of rising evil, and the burden he must bear  to destroy it.

Gandalph wisely points out that we do not get to choose the time we are born into or even how long we stay on this earth, but we do have control over how we spend the time we have.

To say this quote is one of my favorites would not come close to describing the profound effect it had on me. Some of you may know that I was given a second chance at life and since that day I have contemplated my own existence. Why am I here? What is my purpose? Why did I live? How do I want to spend the time that I have?

It inspires me to focus on what matters and throw everything else to the wayside. I added it to my blog’s header as a reminder to spend my time wisely.

How will you spend the time that is given to you?


Day 1 is here for Free Download

Free download of Rise of a Queen by JS Riddle

J.S. Riddle

Weeeeee and the promotion kicks off.  Go ahead and download Rise of a Queen, you know, cause you love me and want to give me warm virtual hugs, and get something free for the big 3 day weekend about to come up (in the US that is).  If you’re outside the US, no worries, your Amazon has the ebook available there also.

You could always download it to give me a big virtual hug or check out my previous ANNOUNCEMENT  on the upcoming promotion.  I would say it would be a good post to see all my happiness, well wishes, and wisdom but we know the wisdom part is a lie.  All things wise in my word turn into wisea……..anyway.  check it out and check  out the  free book while you’re at it


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Teaser Tuesday: 1984 by George Orwell

photo credit: creativereview.co.uk
photo credit: creativereview.co.uk

Yeah, I know it’s not Tuesday, but I couldn’t sleep (damn RLS), so I thought I’d go ahead and do the post I didn’t get around to yesterday.  This week’s teaser comes from another book on the Modern Library‘s Top 100 list: the dystopian novel 1984 by George Orwell.

“There was a link of understanding between them more important than affection or partisanship. ‘We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness,’ he had said. Winston did not know what it meant, only that in some way or another it would come true.”

George Orwell wrote the novel while ill with tuberculosis. The book was published in June 1949. Orwell died seven months later at the age of 46.


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Musical Monday: Demons by Imagine Dragons



When the days are cold
And the cards all fold
And the saints we see
Are all made of gold
When your dreams all fail
And the ones we hail
Are the worst of all
And the blood’s run stale
I wanna hide the truth
I wanna shelter you
But with the beast inside
There’s nowhere we can hide
No matter what we breed
We still are made of greed
This is my kingdom come
This is my kingdom come
When you feel my heat
Look into my eyes
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide
Don’t get too close
It’s dark inside
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide
When the curtain’s call
Is the last of all
When the lights fade out
All the sinners crawl
So they dug your grave
And the masquerade
Will come calling out
At the mess you’ve made
Don’t want to let you down
But I am hell bound
Though this is all for you
Don’t want to hide the truth
No matter what we breed
We still are made of greed
This is my kingdom come
This is my kingdom come
When you feel my heat
Look into my eyes
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide
Don’t get too close
It’s dark inside
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide
They say it’s what you make
I say it’s up to fate
It’s woven in my soul
I need to let you go
Your eyes, they shine so bright
I want to save that light
I can’t escape this now
Unless you show me how
When you feel my heat
Look into my eyes
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide
Don’t get too close
It’s dark inside
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide

A Short Tour of My Hometown

As many of you know, Belinda over at Busy Mind Thinking is ill. Since she can’t travel, she has asked in the post Project – Travel that her blogger friends take her on a virtual vacation by posting pictures of their hometown. I am more than happy to take her on a tour of Austin, Texas. Ready, Belinda?

austin capitol

Texas State Capitol

The capitol building in Austin is taller than the nation’s capitol. Didn’t you know? Everything is bigger in Texas 🙂


Downtown Austin and a view of Town Lake, also known as Lake Austin, and recently renamed Lady Bird Lake in honor of Lady Bird Johnson. It’s not a natural lake, but a reservoir formed when a dam was constructed on a portion of the Colorado River. I worked in the white stone building topped with a black pyramid (background, right), for 10 years.

townlake-hike and bike

Town Lake Hike and Bike Trail

This trail consists of a 10-mile loop around Lady Bird Lake. I’ve probably run hundreds of miles here over the years.

Lake Travis

Lake Travis

Another reservoir formed from the Colorado River. Most of my summer days were spent here as a youth.

UT Tower

The UT Tower

The University of Texas is located in Austin. The UT Tower is illuminated in orange and white to mark academic achievements, sports victories, and other events. The picture above marks a National Championship. From the corner, it is said to resemble an owl. UT legend indicates that it was designed by an architect from a rival school, Rice University.


The Frost Bank Tower

This is my son’s favorite building (he wants to be an architect). It is also rumored to be designed by a Rice graduate, but neither story about the UT Tower or The Frost Bank building is true. Do you see the owl?


Corner view of Frost Bank Building. Do you see the owl now?


Mexican Free-tailed Bat Colony

Austin is home to the largest urban bat colony in North America (about 1.5 million bats). Watching them emerge at dusk is quite a sight. They nest under the Congress Avenue bridge and an overpass on I-35 during the summer months and then migrate to Mexico in the winter. Don’t stand underneath the bridge to watch unless you want to leave smelling like bat guano.

hamilton pool -907

Hamilton Pool

A natural pool formed by the collapse of the roof of an underground river. I came here often as a teen. You may have seen it in the movie The Tree of Life (if you hadn’t fallen asleep yet).


The Oasis on Lake Travis

I worked here as a teen. This was my first place of employment (that two-week stint at Taco Bell doesn’t count). I got quite a workout running up and down the multiple levels and countless decks as a  hostess. The views are spectacular, especially at sunset.

 Zilker Tree

The Zilker Tree

The Zilker Tree is lit each December. It stands 155 feet tall and holds over 3,000 lights. I remember standing underneath this tree as a child and twirling around in awe.


The Pennybacker Bridge

This bridge was completed when I was a teen. When I saw the large steel structure in the distance for the first time, it didn’t seem real. It’s also known as the 360 bridge because it connects the northern and southern sections of Loop 360, also known as the Capital of Texas Highway (It seems Austinites have several names for just about everything). I crossed this bridge on my way to and from work (my last place of employment). It’s a good thing I had that beautiful sunrise to help me face the day.


Texas Longhorns

This tour wouldn’t be complete without a picture of a Texas Longhorn. My sister raises them, and I snapped this photo from her back yard. I apologize for the poor photo quality. It was taken from an iphone that was later drenched in water, causing the photo to fade.

I could go on and on, but I think I’ll stop there. I hope you enjoyed the tour, Belinda and thanks for the break from editing 🙂

Why don’t you join in with a tour of your hometown? I know Belinda would love to see it.

Quote of the Week: Stephen King

stephen king“When your story is ready for rewrite, cut it to the bone. Get rid of every ounce of excess fat. This is going to hurt; revising a story down to the bare essentials is always a little like murdering children, but it must be done.”
—Stephen King

I’ve been trimming the fat in my manuscript. I just hope I don’t nick an artery somewhere and watch helplessly as it bleeds out all over the floor.

Life, The Twitterverse and Everything: Why Should You Use Twitter And How?

Helpful advice on Twitter for those who are still unsure how to use it.

Andy English


It has been kindly suggested to me by my fellow writing blogger Lara Chase that not everyone on here may be familiar with or confident in using the magnificent phenomenon that is Twitter and it may be a good idea to share my experience in how to use it and get the best from it. But to begin with, why would you want to use yet another social networking / blogging site? Well, let me explain why I feel Twitter is a great thing to have at our fingertips before I look at how it can more specifically help us writers.

1: Information Will Arrive On Your Timeline As It Happens.


I follow a guy who lives in Japan, no particular reason other than we share a love for the Terry Gilliam film Brazil. He can hardly speak English and I speak no Japanese at all. But when the awful…

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Musical Monday: Glitter in the Air by P!nk

I’ve had several tunes running through my head and couldn’t decide which one to highlight for this belated post so I reviewed my iTunes in search of one. It turns out the song with the most plays is Glitter in the Air by P!nk, aka Alecia Beth Moore.

She began writing songs when she was a teen as an outlet for her emotions. Sound familiar, writers? She writes/co-writes almost all of her own lyrics.  Plus, she doesn’t conform to society’s ideal of beauty. She’s not stick thin with pumped up lips and other body parts. Some say she’s not very feminine with her short hair and muscular build but she’s true to herself and that’s what makes her beautiful in my opinion.

If you didn’t see her performance of Glitter in the Air at the Grammys a few years ago then you must watch the following video. It is still one of the most mesmerizing performances by a musical artist I’ve ever seen.

“Glitter In The Air”

Have you ever fed a lover with just your hands?
Closed your eyes and trust it, just trust it?
Have you ever thrown a fistful of glitter in the air?
Have you ever looked fear in the face and said, “I just don’t care.”?
It’s only half past the point of no return
The tip of the iceberg, the sun before the burn
The thunder before the lightning and the breath before the phrase
Have you ever felt this way?
Have you ever hated yourself for staring at the phone?
Your whole life waiting on the ring to prove you’re not alone
Have you ever been touched so gently you had to cry?
Have you ever invited a stranger to come inside?
It’s only half past the point of oblivion
The hourglass on the table, the walk before the run
The breath before the kiss, and the fear before the flames
Have you ever felt this way?
La La La La La La La La
There you are, Sitting in the garden,
Clutching my coffee,
Calling me sugar
You called me sugar
Have you ever wished for an endless night?
Lassoed the moon and the stars and pulled that rope tight?
Have you ever held your breath and asked yourself will it ever get better than tonight?

Quote of the Week: Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl

“I don’t care if a reader hates one of my stories, just as long as he finishes the book.”
~ Roald Dahl

Friday I published a review of The Sun Also Rises in the post The Importance of Being Ernest Hemingway. I finished the book even though I didn’t enjoy it. I read every last word.

Why would I finish a book if I didn’t really care for it? Because I know how much work is involved in the process. It’s a labor of love.  It is out of respect for that great achievement and the courage it takes to put yourself out there that I felt compelled to finish it.

So what about you? Do you read a book you don’t like to the end or toss it once you get bored with it? Post your answer in the poll below.


“The first draft of anything is shit.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

Hemingwaysun1I was comforted by those words as I started to revise my manuscript. See. You’re not that bad. Even the greats admit to serving up some real crap. I read The Sun Also Rises a few months ago and was left wondering how often Hemingway took his own advice. It seems to me that the book could have used another round of edits. {GASP!}

There, I said it. I just lambasted one of the greats of American literature. I had a hard time reading it.

Why, you ask? Well, for several reasons. The following “rules” kept swirling in my head, rules that Hemingway obviously didn’t care for.

Hook the reader with the first line.

“Robert Cohn was once middleweight boxing champion of Princeton.”

What do you think? Were you hooked? I wasn’t. What kept me reading was that it was written by Hemingway.

Don’t introduce too many characters too quickly.

There were so many characters introduced at the beginning and with little or no distinguishing characteristics I kept getting them confused. I had to reread passages just to get them straight in my head. My view of many of the male characters was fuzzy at best. Wait, which guy is Brett? Oh that’s right, Brett is a female, Lady Brett. Well, then who is Lady Ashley? Oh…Lady Brett Ashley. After my initial confusion she became quite clear in my head, though, which leads me to the next rule.

Create characters that are likeable, characters that readers will root for (or at least one, please).

Yeah, I know we don’t have to like all the characters in a book. The antagonist is one we love to hate but you need at least one character to root for and I tried. I really tried but I found them all to be self-absorbed. The friendships, if you can call them that, were superficial, even two-faced. I hoped for some wonderful character arc, at least for the main character, Jake Barnes, but by the end of the book I was left disappointed.

Brett was, for lack of a better word, a “ho.” She claimed to love Jake but flaunted her relationships with other men in his face, even enlisting his help in “hooking up” with a bullfighter. She was incredibly vain, and used the poor schmucks around her to feed her own vanity. They were fawning all over her when they should’ve kicked her to the curb. What was Hemingway saying about the male population? As long as a woman is beautiful and “built like the hull of a boat” (Hemingway’s words, not mine), then she could be utterly despicable. They’d keep following on her heels like a lovesick puppy.

Set the right pace to keep the readers engaged in the story.

My mind kept wandering. Was this book ever going to go anywhere? There were points where I lost myself in the story because I was expecting something. I started to get interested around page 112. I remember, because I took note of the page and thought, “Here we go. This is where it’s going to get good.”

At this point in the book Jake is going fishing with a buddy and that’s all that really happens. Have you ever been fishing? It can be thrilling if the fish are biting or excruciatingly mundane if they aren’t. Cast. Wait. Wait some more. Reel it in. Repeat.  I might find it relaxing if it weren’t for the anticipation of catching a big fish, any fish really. You might start drinking to fight the boredom. And that’s precisely what the characters did. They drank…A LOT. Maybe they were bored, too? I imagined them saying, “Hemingway, I say ol’ chap, give us something interesting to do!”

So Hemingway broke a few rules, but I suppose he accomplished what he set out to do and that is worth some praise. The theme of the story is the destructive nature of war, and not just that which can be seen by war-torn cities and lost lives but the emotional effects on those that survive. It wasn’t meant to be a “feel good” story. War is often romanticized, portrayed as the ultimate display of masculinity with acts of heroism and bravery. But Hemingway’s story reveals it as a lie as he shows that war is emasculating in more ways than one.

It’s a story about the Lost Generation; those poor souls left to pick up the pieces of a broken life after World War I. Trust, honor, decency, and morality have all been upended.  Their aimless wanderings, superficial relationships, and propensity to drink to excess speaks volumes about the effects of war. When you’ve been through something so horrendous how do you find meaning in anything?

The following quotes hinted that the characters were aware of the lack of purpose in their lives and left me hopeful for some bright spot at the ending.

“Don’t you ever get the feeling that all your life is going by and you’re not taking advantage of it? Do you realize you’ve lived nearly half the time you have to live already?”

“Perhaps as you went along you did learn something. I did not care what it was all about. All I wanted to know was how to live in it. Maybe if you found out how to live in it you learned from that what it was all about.”

Maybe Brett would change her ways or Jake would have a Rhett Butler moment and tell Brett where to go but sadly that didn’t happen. While the ending dialogue is in the context of the relationship between Brett and Jake it hints at a broader range: humanity. The acceptance of the things as they are left me feeling utterly hopeless and I guess that’s why it didn’t appeal to me. I believe there is always hope.

3 out of 5 stars. Although I liked parts of the book and can appreciate the message I believe Hemingway was trying to convey, it was just okay.

I’ve been reading the Modern Library’s Top 100 Novels to see what I can learn from the masters of literature and this one was on the list. So what did I learn from reading this book?

  • The masters broke the rules and still managed to create art that is highly praised.
  • I’m no Hemingway so I should probably stick to the rules if I don’t want readers to toss my book after the first sentence.
  • No matter how well written a book is, not everyone is going to love it.
  • You can appreciate the literary merits of a book and still not like the story.
  • I’ll probably never drink absinthe. Apparently it tastes like black licorice which is at the top of my list of the most disgusting things I’ve ever tasted.