Saturday, 26 January 2013

I am the puppet master

There's one thing I really like about being a writer. I get to be a master manipulator.

I know what you're thinking. It's all about the characters. He gets to choose which ones live or die. He gets to decide which ones have happy endings and which ones don't. He has complete control over every aspect of their lives.

Well that's all true, and it is rather good. But it's not exactly what I had in mind. When I was talking about manipulating people, I meant you out there - all you readers.

To me, a big part of engaging with an audience is making a direct connection with their emotions. Their are times when I try to make them happy - times when I want to make them laugh. And other times when I want them to feel sad. Basically, I'm trying to pull their strings, to control how they feel. And the best thing is when you get feedback from a reader that confirms you've been able to achieve what you planned.

There's a funny kind of flip side to this though. You start to become more aware of when other writers are doing it to you. Sometimes you don't mind, and you just give into it - that's part of the joy in being a reader or a viewer. But other times I've rebelled, and I've said flat out "I know what you're trying to do and I'm not going to be your puppet."

The first time I really remember it happening was watching the movie Forrest Gump. I sat through it, feeling that the whole thing was incredibly contrived, and I could really feel the emotional manipulation it was attempting. Needless to say, I've hated the movie ever since.

So, the next time you're reading a book, or watching a movie, think about us writers, sitting in the back with our hands pulling on the strings. Yes, that's us, hidden away in the shadows, with the crafty smiles on our faces. More powerful than you ever could imagine - we are the puppet masters.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

What was I thinking?

I have an interesting problem at the moment.

As I mentioned last week, I just finished a first draft of my latest novella - volume three in the strange and unexpected adventures of Neville Lansdowne. That's a good thing.

This leaves me in a situation where I now have three WIPs - all at first draft stage. Apart from the (as yet untitled) Neville Lansdowne story, I also have the fantasy (sort of) YA/MG (sort of) novel I finished late last year, which still needs an awful lot of work to be made presentable to the world.

So what do I decide to do? I decide to go right back to my old, old writing, and dig up one of my early attempts at a novel. It's kind of a comic/fantasy/detective story (what good is a novel if you can't mash-up at least three different genres into it?) which I completed a first draft of many, many years ago. I thought, what the heck, chucked it onto the kindle and had a read. And I was quite pleasantly surprised. It's pretty rough and needs heaps of work, but I thought there was something there. I surprised myself a few times. Even made myself laugh. I suppose that's got to be a good thing.

So here's the problem - which one of these WIPs do I get on with first?

The detective story began to intrigue me. I decided to dig up the old notes I had made about it -  being the anal type, as I write I make lots of notes about how things can be tidied up and improved the next time around.  Amazingly, I actually managed to find them buried at the back of the filing cabinet. Then came the hard bit. Reading them.

I'm not the most organised person. I tend to scribble down notes on any scrap of paper I can find. So here I was, trying to decipher my scrawl from well over ten years ago. Did it make sense? - not much. Did it give me lots of ideas on how to progress the story? - not really. I could make out very little about what I was thinking about that story at the time. Is that going to dissuade me? Probably not.

At the moment, this is the story that is most exciting me. Sure, I plan to get back to Neville sooner rather than later, but I'm happy to put him on the back burner for a bit.

I reckon it's going to be fun. 

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Raining Cats and Dogs - Vickie Johnstone

Today I'm happy to introduce the second author participating in the Raining Cats and Dogs tour, Vickie Johnstone, talking about how she wrote her story, 3 Heads & a Tail.

Don't forget to check out the tour homepage for great prizes.

NaNoWriMo and chasing my tail: writing 3 Heads & a Tail


I view 2011 as the year that I really started writing. That’s a long story, for another post on this blog hop, but I think that’s when this big adventure started. That year I self-published a book for the first time (Kiwi in Cat City, written in 2002) and found my first reader. I was ecstatic, as a long-held dream had come true for me. I met a lot of writers in the writing groups on Facebook, all helpful, inspiring, talented and fun, but, most importantly, determined. They seemed to have a determination that I lacked and would even get up in the middle of the night to write; they had saying power. This post is about NaNoWriMo, without which my novel 3 Heads & a Tail would not exist.

One indie writer mentioned how he did NaNoWriMo every year. I thought this was some holiday camp or Japanese game. I soon found out that it wasn’t – it was a writing competition. There was no prize as such, except the sheer relief of finishing. The challenge was to write 50,000 words in 30 days – that is, in November. For some reason, I decided to try. I’d never written a book that long or one for adults. The first Kiwi book had taken a couple of weeks or so, but I wasn’t working at the time; the other two had taken about six weeks a piece, typing away around my job. Thirty days seemed impossible, but I crazily decided to give NaNo a go, egged on by the other participants.

One of my worst habits is Laziness. Chuck in a big lump of Procrastination. They’re my babies, along with Forgetfulness. I used to sleep for 12 hours at the weekend and laze around doing sweet FA until I went out in the evening. On weekdays, I’d come home from work after a long commute on a packed, sweaty Tube train, and only be capable of eating, watching TV, maybe reading, and popping to bed early. NaNoWriMo meant that I had to change my habits, which had been many decades (I’m not saying how many) in the making.

On November 1, as soon as I got home from work, I got out my laptop and aimed to type at least 1700 words. I would try to do this every day. At the weekends I found that I actually wanted to get up earlier than usual, open my laptop and see what emerged, just because of the challenge I’d set myself. I guess it was a bit like an after-Christmas detox or training for a marathon (me run? never!) – you force yourself to do it, thinking that it will all be worthwhile in the end. 

In the past, except for writing Kiwi in Cat City, my excuse for not finishing any story was that I had writer’s block. After Kiwi, I had this major road block for about ten years, apart from scribbling poems. They were short and didn’t demand an attention span of more than five minutes. I now know that it was all in my mind. NaNoWriMo showed me that ‘writer’s block’ was something I had used as an excuse to be bone idle in the creativity department. It was a sort of blanket that stopped me taking a risk on writing something that I might hate, being my own worst critic. It also meant that I didn’t have to try to make time for it.

I’d tell myself that I’d start writing sometime in that endless tomorrow when the muse took me. But what was that muse? It wasn’t a person, an object, a feeling or anything else majestic – the muse was me. I just hadn’t reached far enough into myself or tried hard enough. I hadn’t stuck at it. I started to realise that this had been a big failing – I never finished anything. If anything got too difficult, I just walked away. I guess I didn’t want to fail.

And so... I started NaNoWriMo. Back in my 20s (a long ago, in a time far, far away) I’d had this idea about three guys sharing a house. One guy would be super confident, one would be shy and love his guitar, and the other would be an aspiring actor whose hero was Kevin Spacey. I also kept thinking about a dog. The guitar man would have a pooch, but I wanted to make him a real, thinking character. At the time, I loved Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury, with four POVs in separate sections, written in different, recognisable voices. Of course, I wrote a few chapters, never got to making the dog real, and somehow never continued. For NaNoWriMo, I started to rethink this idea. It was my starting point.

The first thing that came into my head was the title: 3 Heads & a Tail – representing the main characters, who would be two guys, a girl and that dog. The furry one had to be in it. He was the hero. He would be the most intelligent and moral character, who saw everything, and whom the whole book would slowly begin to revolve around. He would become its centre. One guy would be nice and cute, one would look like a model but be a total ass, and the girl would be cool and sweet. She’d be the one moving into this house that the others shared, and there would be a romantic triangle. I started writing with this idea. Apart from that, I just had the end scene in my head (can’t tell you what it is, but it was there).

And so I started writing, not knowing where the plot would go, what would happen, and how the end scene would be reached. For some reason, this time I didn’t think of it as being scary – it actually turned out to be fun, and it didn’t matter to me if I didn’t finish. What mattered was that I wrote a full-length book for grown-ups and kicked my lazy, procrastinating self up the arse.

It all began well, and I had a good sprint in the first week. My characters were buzzing in my brain, leaping out on to the page, whispering in my ear and doing funny things in my head. I decided to organise the book so that it was a game of two halves – the humans and the mutt. The chapters with the humans would be in the third person, past tense and the pooch’s bits would sneak in here and there, written in the first person and present tense, with the aim of getting the reader into the dog’s head. It sounds mad, but I loved writing those doggie bits. I named him after my first pet, Glen, even thought I couldn’t remember much about him. I looked forward to writing these bits and even though I’m a cat person, I started to love that dog. I felt that I could write anything in this book. I was writing for NaNo after all and I didn’t expect to finish, and I didn’t think the book would be publishable.

The doggie was voofing like crazy as I typed his thoughts, feelings and ambitions. Gradually, he took over a larger chunk of the book. Suddenly he was chasing a Frisbee all over the page and wagging his tail and I think mine was going too. NaNoWriMo was freeing up my creativity like nothing before. I’d found the key to writing – plonk yourself down in front of your laptop, don’t think too hard, don’t worry, don’t judge what you’re writing, don’t panic – just write. Whatever came out could always be changed later. Or I could always hit ‘Delete’.

Cue week two. It wasn’t too bad, but it wasn’t as gung-ho as week one, but hey, I was doing okay. I was still hitting the keys every night after work, and it was still fun and the characters were still living in my own personal Funny Land. My boyfriend would come home, see me typing away, smile, and make the dinner, so I got away with not having to help with that for a while.

Midway through week three, I started to wonder what day it was. My brain had become addled by NaNo. No-No, No-No, I started to think, while having flashbacks to Mork and Mindy. I started to feel the pressure. Would I really finish? More to the point – what the hell was I going to do with these characters? I’d hit a wall. I’d run out of plot, inspiration, everything. I was dog tired, as was Glen. I did the only sensible thing – I took a couple of days off.

Then it was Saturday – the luxury of an entire writing day. There I was, all prepared: laptop, sofa, cat trying to sneak on my lap and... a big blank screen, which just seemed to get bigger. Mmm. What to do? I had no idea. The blank screen stared back, as if challenging me, but I gritted my teeth and started typing. I wrote anything – literally anything – the first stupid thing that came to mind. Who cared if it didn’t make sense – I had to make that finishing line. I was off… wee heeeee… but, oops, I fell at the hurdle. I think I managed 300 words. That was it.

So much for my plot bunnies – where were they? Nibbling grass somewhere? Munching carrots? Or had they just sprinted away, trying to escape the golden Labrador I had woven into my story… come back doggy, I haven’t finished with you, but he was gone too. He’d run off on the trail of the cabbage-munching plot bunnies. As for the other characters, I think they’d disappeared down the pub for an ale or two. I closed my laptop and did something different.

However, it seems that I just got tired. It wasn’t the Big Block. All I needed was a break – a four-day one. Lying in bed, various scenes suddenly popped up in my head. The story was back! I woke refreshed and started again. That week I finished the story, but I’d been used to writing children’s books of about 30,000 words. With a few days left to go, my story seemed to naturally end at 40,000 words, but I needed about 10000 more. What to do? I couldn’t extend the story as it had ended, so I went back and inserted some fresh scenes at different points. I wasn’t sure if they would make sense, but the joy of NaNo is that you write without editing or thinking too much. You just get that first draft down. I could edit it later. And I finished. Horrah!

I was so happy. I’d kicked my excuses up the butt, given procrastination a run for its money, and completed the longest book I’d ever written... and for grown-ups. Apart from those four days when my brain was too tired to think, I’d had fun. The NaNoWriMo experience helped me to write more books afterwards, and gave me some faith in myself (although I still get the wobbles after a bad review!). I really hope I never have another ten-year gap in writing novels, but I know now that it had nothing to do with writer’s block. It was to do with me, and how I viewed the process of writing. If you just sit down and hover your fingers over the keys, and just start typing the first thing that comes into your head, you’ll be surprised. I can’t say whether you’ll be pleasantly surprised or just damn horrified (I’ve been there), but you’ll definitely be smiling.

3 Heads & a Tail was published in June 2012. I edited it in December, and then Susan Bennett, an editor, saw it and gave some very good advice, and then I re-edited it again. The thing that worried me the most was that readers might not find it funny. I let out a big ‘phew’ when my first reviewer said they laughed. I was worried they would just think I was crazy. I’m not sure what genre the book fits into. I guess it isn’t mainstream romance. It’s a comedy-romance-general fiction-quirky-fantasy- doggy thing.

Maybe NaNoWriMo forces you to write in a way that isn’t mainstream. You’re flying by the seat of your pants and you’re not really thinking too much about what you’re writing. I think NaNo could be a thing that makes people kick writer’s block up the ass, break a rule or two when writing, and find their inner faith. And that can only be a good thing, surely.

An excerpt from Chapter 30 and Glen’s bit, cos he’s my favourite 

Now that Ben’s fast asleep, I’m making my doggy move. Here I go. Pawtoe to the door, I’m standing on my back legs, dipping the handle with my nose... ooompf... come on, come on... ooomfff, ah... back on the ground. Poking the door open with my paw, slowly, quietly padding out into the corridor. Don’t worry about closing the door... too much trouble. It’s all a bit dark out here. No sounds. Voofing good. So it’s a pawtoe down the stairs and to the front door.

Next is the tricky bit, but it should be soon; always around the same time on a Sunday night. Just need to wait, keep my voofing cool and stay hidden. That’s it. Good. Don’t pant too hard. That’s it. I’m holding back the panting. I hear footsteps. They’re coming up the path, up the steps, up to the front door... oompf... try not to pant. Tail, stop wagging on the floor! 

Voomph... the front door is opening... away we go... whoosh! I’m sprinting for the door as fast as I can go, my ears flapping, my tongue lapping. I can see David is surprised... he’s wobbling and his guitar case smashes up the door. Oops, I banged into his legs... hey, asshole, move it! Flop! I think I almost knocked him over. His hand flies out and he’s trying to grab my collar. My ears flap past him. See ya!

Oomph, I’m slipping, I’m sliding, but I’m steadying... and now I’m running. I’m bounding down the steps. I can hear David shouting. I hope Ben doesn’t hear because he’d be sprinting down the street after me, but I know David won’t run. I’m not his dog and he’s too lazy. I’m running down the pavement as fast as my paws can carry me, my ears blowing in the breeze. But it’s warm out here, still mid-summer. 

It’s a nice, cool run. I can’t hear David any more. He’s probably gone into the house. But as Ben isn’t talking to him, I wonder what’s going to happen. Ben might be like a volcano erupting. Wish I could see that, but I’ve got to keep on running. I can’t stop. I’m crossing the road, going round the corner, on and on. Should I take a shortcut straight across the park? Nope, it’s too dark and there are dodgy fellows in there at night-time. I’ll take the longer route. Glen, don’t be a chicken! Time is of the essence here! 

Right, “voof”, I’m skidding round and charging back the other way, and into the park. I’m racing past dodgy man number one – he’s sitting on the grass singing. Keep on running. On and on, past dodgy man number two. He’s sitting on a bench, waving a beer can at me, cursing and calling me Charlie. I keep on running, past dodgy man number three. He’s staggering around with his trousers around his ankles singing. Not sure what he’s doing. He must be hot and just airing his bits. Keep on running Glen, but maybe go a bit faster. And I’m sprinting past dodgy man number four. Luckily, he’s just asleep. You’re snoring a bit, mate. 

Then I’m out of the park and running across the road, down the pavement. I take a few turns, followed by a few more, and I’m there. I can see the house. I can almost smell the roses. But now I have to be quiet. I bow my head and sneak along the corner of the street. I daren’t go up the pathway to the front door, so I’m heading round the back where I’ve gotta jump the fence. Whoa! That’s higher than I remember. Whoosh, bump, and I’m over. Voof. Can’t bark, can’t bark. I must be quiet. Just think the voof. 

And now I wait behind this big bush. I can hear something but I’m not sure what it is. Something is moving in the house, but the lights are off so I can’t make anything out. I slink my body close to the ground and move closer to the back door. I can see the outline of a shadow. It’s her! The door handle moves down and the door slowly opens. A pink nose is the first thing I see. My ears perk up and I can feel my tail gaining a life of its own. I try to stop it going too fast. Suddenly, her amazingly bright brown eyes are in front on me and she’s panting. 

“I think we better go,” she whispers, her ears perking up. I know she’s never done anything this crazy in her life and she’s relying on me to guide her.
I nod, and slink slowly and quietly out of the back garden, hiding behind the bushes. She follows. I don’t look back, but I can hear her breathing behind me. We wander out into the street and for the first time we’re actually alone. It feels wild and unsafe, but good. 

“Ready?” I ask her, certain that she’s scared out of her wits. 

She looks at me quite calmly and just nods.

3 Heads & a Tail – a comedy romance with walkies

Book blurb:

When nature lover Josie moves into a house share with two pals, dreamer Ben and model man David, she sees it as a short stop and doesn't bank on an attraction developing with one of them. Meanwhile, Ben's dog, Glen, has the hots for Miss Posh, the beautiful golden Lab in the park. When dog meets dog it's puppy love, but a complication leads to Glen taking matters into his own paws. In this comedy of errors, romance and walkies, it's anyone's guess who is going to win the girl/dog and live happily ever after.

Buy links:

Ebook price: $2.99/£1.99
Paperback price: $9.99/£5.40

Amazon US ebook

Amazon UK ebook

Barnes & Noble

Author bio


Vickie Johnstone lives in London, UK, where she works as a freelance sub-editor on magazines and an editor on indie books. She has a thing about fluffy cats and also loves reading, writing, films, the sea, rock music, art, nature, Milky Bar, Baileys and travelling.

Vickie has self-published the following books: 

Kaleidoscope (poetry); Travelling Light (poetry); Life’s Rhythms (haiku); 3 Heads and a Tail (comedy romance); Kiwi in Cat City (magical cat series for middle grade readers); Kiwi and the Missing Magic; Kiwi and the Living Nightmare; Kiwi and the Serpent of the Isle; Kiwi in the Realm of Ra; Kiwi’s Christmas Tail; Day of the Living Pizza (comedy detective series for middle grade readers), and Day of the Pesky Shadow. The Kiwi Series has illustrations by Nikki McBroom.

Author links

Twitter: @vickiejohnstone
FB author page:
FB Kiwi Series page:
FB poetry page:
FB editing service page:

Thank you for the opportunity and for taking part in the hop.

Thank you for reading.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Raining Cats and Dogs - David M. Brown

Well I'm done hopping for now. Over the next couple of days, I'm reverting to touring  mode. Not me this time, but I'm pleased to be opening Dag-Lit Central up for David M. Brown and Vickie Johnstone for their Raining Cats and Dogs tour. And make sure you check it out, as there are some great prizes to be won.

Today, David is here, telling us about the truth behind the writing of his book, Man vs Cat.

Exposing the Truth

Back in my university days I once considered being a journalist, thirsty for the next story and being one of the decent writers in search of the truth rather than relying on lies or fabrication. As things turned out I opted to write fiction instead, straying further from the truth than some journalists do, but in 2010 I found myself inexplicably becoming that journalist I had once thought would never happen. I use the term journalist loosely, of course. I think war correspondent is more appropriate.

One day my wife decided to open our house to cats. We started with two but today are the owners of six. Now, let’s pause for a minute and consider that. Six cats. That’s six. Between five and seven or half a dozen. That’s almost the Magnificent Seven or the Seven Dwarves, but not quite, more the Wild Bunch and that’s me being fair. I’d never owned cats before but I’d heard stories. Oh, dear reader, I’d heard many blood-curdling tales of these felines things and suffice to say their sudden arrival instilled in me the highest degree of apprehension. Things began calmly. I even suspected for a time that all would be well but I was so wrong, dear friends, how wrong I was.

As I write these words, I am sheltered in a bunker, safe from the planes that drop empty tins of tuna and used cat toys that are now surplus to requirements. Like Skynet in the Terminator films, it was as if the cats suddenly became self-aware and they sought to build on their already superior complex, a state of arrogance we can blame the Ancient Egyptians for. No longer content to be worshipped as gods, our six cats wanted to be gods and their primary target in this new and epic war was me. I am the leader of the resistance. It’s an impressive army comprised of just me but I’m hopeful others will join. They get a free fridge magnet if they do. 

To ease my fear, I blogged about the cats. I watched them from a distance and made painstaking notes before braving the firewalls (literally a wall of fire the cats set up) to go online and tell the world the truth. My wife and I had separate blogs at the time. She posted cute pictures of the cats and said how great they were. I shared my observations and also typed up the minutes from meetings they had about us, the world, everything, even Justin Bieber. 

Soon the cats were onto us. My wife’s cute blog they deemed exploitative and a serious breach of their feline rights, while my blog they condemned as scandalous, puerile and all lies, apart from that incident with the jigsaw. They couldn’t deny that one. The two blogs were shut down and though we were able to have a joint blog, any derogatory posts about the cats i.e. cuddly kitten pictures or admonishments that they’re trying to kill us were made taboo. I still needed the world to know the truth so I turned to this book.

Written through months of sleepless nights, ducking to avoid sprays of used cat litter from the guns of tanks and listening to Buggles’ exclamations that the Twilight series is awesome sauce, I gathered all my notes and coupled them with fresh material to deliver my first chronicle of our six cats, who they are, what they want and how they’re trying to kill me. This is meant as a warning to all mankind. Remember Planet of the Apes? Well, that’s where we’re heading if we don’t do something about it now. Listen to my words and join with me in the resistance. I’ll be waiting in my bunker till then. 


History has known many famous cats - Garfield, Mr Bigglesworth, Simon's Cat, the Aristocats, the Cheshire cat and the Keyboard Cat on YouTube.

In recent years these feline things have replaced man's best friend as the most popular pet in the U.S. while the Ancient Egyptians once worshipped them as gods. This was a mistake and I'm here to tell you why.

Man vs Cat is the story of one man, one woman and the six cats that changed their lives forever. To the woman they brought love and affection, to the man they brought sleepless nights, fear, paranoia and even ruined his jigsaw. Need I say more?

Man vs Cat on Amazon US:
Man vs Cat on Amazon UK:

About the author

David Brown could be considered a fantasy fanatic, especially since he has spent the last 10 years developing a 47,000-year history for his fictional world of Elenchera. When converting his obsession into literary form, David commits himself to a rigorous writing and editing process before his work can meet his approval. Combined with the critical eye of his wife and a BA Hons in History and English, David's dedication leads him to his goal of inspiring readers through heartfelt stories and characters.

Twitter: @elenchera

Saturday, 12 January 2013

When it's almost done

I'm getting that excited kind of feeling again.

I've almost finished a first draft of my third Neville Lansdowne adventure.

I can't quite believe I've done it so quickly. Barely three months ago, while I was frantically working to get Neville volume 2 released, volume 3 was little more than a throwaway line and a couple of rough ideas for characters. Now, I've actually got to the point where I only have one chapter to go. And if I'm able to make a bit of time this weekend, I should be able to knock that one over.

And then comes the scary bit.

Writing a first draft is fun. I tend to relax a bit and just let the ideas flow. Sure, I do try to take a bit of care as I write. I like to make sure my spelling and grammar are as sound as they can be from an early stage. But generally, I'm not so over-concerned. The most important thing is to just keep the ideas coming, and keep the story moving forward, sometimes with a rough plan in mind, but often with no idea what will happen next.

Once it comes to rewrite time, that's when it gets serious. I've got the rough outline of a story - bits of it are good but bits still need a lot of work. Characters have been developed as I went along, so in early chapters, they're only half formed - this means I have to go back and make sure these characters emerged fully-formed right from the beginning.

The whole process is a bit like taking a messy room and cleaning it up, making sure everything you need is in the right place, and throwing out all those things you don't need.

But the really scary thing is knowing that by the end of the process, I have to take something that is good in bits and not so good in other bits, and make it good all over. Can I do it? Can I get the ideas I have in my head out onto the paper? Is the basic story idea strong enough? And can I find answers to all those questions I posed while writing that first draft, to which the answer at the time was "I'll figure it out later"?

I guess I'll see how I go. Once a first draft is done, I find the best thing is to leave it for at least a month, and then come back to it with fresh eyes.

In the meantime, I've got a more serious dilemma on my hands. I've still got no idea what this new Neville story is going to be called.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Classic reads bloghop - what makes a classic?

Happy new year and welcome to 2013 from Dag-Lit Central.

Or maybe I should be saying hoppy new year, because I'm starting the year by participating in another one of these blog hop thingies. I'm quite the twinkle-toes by now.

The event I'm participating in is the Classic Reads Blog Hop sponsored by Terri Giuliano Long, Rachel Thompson, Molly Greene and Christine Nolfi. There are some great prizes to be won, including a $200 Amazon gift card.

So, the big question to be answered today is what makes a classic?

Being the anal type of soul that I am, I thought I might begin by looking for a definition of what classic actually means - and this is what I found:
  1. Belonging to the highest rank or class.
  2. Serving as the established model or standard.
  3. Having lasting significance or worth; enduring.
There were a few additional meanings - actually there were quite a lot of additional meanings - but I figure that this gives me enough to go on.

So what can this mean when it applies to books?

Let's start with definition one. I suppose it means that any book which belongs to the highest rank or class must be a classic. But what does that mean? Who decides what the highest rank or class is? Is it open to anyone, or should we be relying on experts - and if the latter, who decides who these experts are? I reckon definition number one is getting a bit problematic, so lets pass on it for now.

Okay, how about definition two? Any book that serves as an established model or standard is a classic. I suppose that refers to books like Lord of the Rings, which set the template for epic fantasy. But does that mean that once the standard has been set, any book that follows it can't be a classic? And what about a book that doesn't follow these standards, in effect creating new ones - does that become a classic - or do we need to wait until other writers start following this new template before deciding that we have a new classic on our hands? Oops, I think we're struggling with definition two as well.

So how about we try definition three. A book that has lasting significance or worth. I reckon this is the best definition so far. A book that stands the test of time, that people in subsequent generations come back to again and again - that must be what a classic is. But hang on a second - what if a book is really popular for a couple of generations and then disappears - is that no longer a classic? Or what about one that is rediscovered - does that now acquire classic status it didn't previously have? Now that I think about it, definition three isn't so clear either.

See, this is the problem with being me - I have a terrible tendency to overthink things - to the point where I end up being unable to figure anything out. Looks like that's the case with classics as well. I don't think I'll ever figure out which books are classics and why. Then again, I'm not sure it matters. I like to read a mix of books - old ones that have been around for a while and new ones that look exciting. And as a writer, well I don't know if anything I write is a classic or not. I just write what I want to write.

Once you are done with my obfuscations, be sure to visit the other participants in this blog hop, and go to the event home page to enter the prize draw.

And here's a little info about the books of the event sponsors:

Mark of the Loon - Molly Greene


Synopsis: What happens when a workaholic serial remodeler falls in love with an old stone cottage built by an ornithologist and his eccentric Irish wife? If you’re Madison Boone, you kick your budding romance with handsome Psych Professor Coleman Welles to the curb and lose yourself in a new project.

Madison renovates distressed homes in addition to her busy real estate sales career. When she hears about a quaint house on a private tract of land overlooking Lake Sonoma, she climbs in the window for a private tour and falls in love with the place. Good fortune enables her to purchase the Blackburne’s property, but far more than a new home and lush gardens await discovery during this renovation.

As Madison works on the remodel, she’s drawn into an old love story with dangerous consequences. She unearths buried secrets and discovers herself in the process. Good thing she has three wise, hilarious friends to advise her along the way! Mark of the Loon is the skillful combination of history, mystery, and romance in a novel that explores deep friendship, choices, and how individuals cope with loss.

In Leah's Wake - Terri Giuliano Long


Synopsis: A Story of Love, Loss, Connection, and Grace

At the heart of the seemingly perfect Tyler family stands sixteen-year-old Leah. Her proud parents are happily married, successful professionals. Her adoring younger sister is wise and responsible beyond her years. And Leah herself is a talented athlete with a bright collegiate future. But living out her father’s lost dreams, and living up to her sister’s worshipful expectations, is no easy task for a teenager. And when temptation enters her life in the form of drugs, desire, and a dangerously exciting boy, Leah’s world turns on a dime from idyllic to chaotic to nearly tragic.

As Leah’s conflicted emotions take their toll on those she loves—turning them against each other and pushing them to destructive extremes—In Leah’s Wake powerfully explores one of fiction’s most enduring themes: the struggle of teenagers coming of age, and coming to terms with the overwhelming feelings that rule them and the demanding world that challenges them. Terri Giuliano Long’s skillfully styled and insightfully informed debut novel captures the intensely personal tragedies, victories, and revelations each new generation faces during those tumultuous transitional years.

Recipient of multiple awards and honors, In Leah’s Wake is a compelling and satisfying reading experience with important truths to share—by a new author with the voice of a natural storyteller and an unfailingly keen understanding of the human condition…at every age.

Second Chance Grill - Christine Nolfi


Synopsis: Dr. Mary Chance needs a sabbatical from medicine to grieve the loss of her closest friend. But when she inherits a struggling restaurant in Liberty, Ohio she isn’t prepared for Blossom Perini. Mary can’t resist falling for the precocious preteen—or the girl’s father. The bond they forge will transform all their lives and set in motion an outpouring of love that spreads across America.

Welcome back to Liberty, where the women surrounding the town’s only restaurant are as charming as they are eccentric.

Second Chance Grill is the prequel to Treasure Me, 2012 Next Generation Indie Awards Finalist, which The Midwest Book Review calls “A riveting read for those who enjoy adventure fiction, highly recommended.”

Broken Pieces - Rachel Thompson


Synopsis: Welcome to bestselling author Rachel Thompson's newest work! Vastly different in tone from her previous essay collections A Walk In The Snark and The Mancode: Exposed, BROKEN PIECES is a collection of pieces inspired by life: love, loss, abuse, trust, grief, and ultimately, love again.