Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Truth: What You Must Know Before December 21, 2012

Review: The Truth: What You Must Know Before December 21, 2012 by Stephen Hawley Martin

Blurb from Barnes&

"Has the Tribulation begun? Will the world as we know it end on or before December 21, 2012? The Mayan calendar says so, as does the ancient I CHING and the Web Bot, a computer program that taps into the collective planetary unconscious. Some think a meteor or other global disaster will strike, others that a dynamic shift in consciousness will occur. Or perhaps, they say, both will happen and only those who have made the shift will survive. No one knows -- but one thing is certain. You cannot make the shift to higher awareness if you do not know The Truth. Fortunately, the Internet's number one talk show host for seekers, award-winning author Stephen Hawley Martin, has written The Truth for you and those you love. He has done so in a way anyone can understand, accept and thoroughly enjoy. If you read only one book between now and 2012, make it this one. End of the world or not, then you will know The Truth. And The Truth will set you free. "

So here's my secret confession: I love books like this. Perhaps it's latent rebelliousness from my conservative Baptist upbringing, but if it's about alternative, quasi-religious worldviews, I'm all over it. I still remember the book I found at Goodwill when I was in junior high that explained how Adam and Eve were actually aliens from an extraplanetary Garden of Eden sent down to populate the earth with their offspring. Seriously, this is good stuff. About 90% of the time, it's laughable but entertaining. Occasionally, one of these books comes along that is written well enough to make you stop and think. The Truth is one of the latter.

Hawley explains that most of scientific thought today is based on an erroneous assumption: that intelligence came about due to evolution. The Truth (THE TRUTH) is that the brain does not create mind - humans, and all matter, are the "focal points of awareness within the larger awareness often called the Universal Mind" - basically, all is one. We are all connected to the great, singular intelligence that created everything, and is everything.

Throughout the course of the book, he uses many illustrations to explain his thesis, including how beliefs produce physical changes, the scientific basis of collective memory, and why prayer literally works. What differentiates Hawley's book from many other new-agey, self-help type volumes is his extensive use of current scientific study to substantiate his ideas. His bibliography at the end of the book includes citations of Stephen Jay Gould, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, and Henry P. Strapp. Hawley has clearly done his research, and it shows in his thoughtful, approachable work. His engaging writing style takes difficult scientific and philosophical ideas and makes them accessible to the everyday reader. Besides his significant scientific analysis, Hawley also utilizes personal anecdotes and stories, giving the reader insight into his own life. He is clearly writing about something that he believes deeply, which makes his book more all the more powerful.

I won't say that he has converted me to his line of thinking, but he certainly gives one a lot to think about. If you enjoy good, informative writing about a fascinating topic like this, I would encourage you to give Hawley a try. Perhaps we can all use a shift of consciousness before 2012 rolls around.

Finished: 8/31/08
Source: Oaklea Press Inc.
Rating: 7/10

Couch Potato Challenge

Amy, over at My Friend Amy, is hosting the Couch Potato Challenge -

Basically, you have to make a list of 4-8 movies you want to watch, including one from the Entertainment Weekly new top 100 list, and one from the list of Oscar Winners for Best Picture, and then watch those movies by September 20. The alternate way to participate is to watch the first season of one of the following TV shows; Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Veronica Mars, Lost, The Closer, or 24.

Well. Since my husband just acquired the entire Buffy series, I am TOTALLY in. I've been looking for an excuse to veg out and watch this fabulous series, and now I have it. Hooray! If you want to join us, head over to My Friend Amy's blog and sign up. I think there were prizes involved, but I'm pretty sure I missed the deadline, so now I'm just joining for the joy of having a reason to sit and watch the entire first season of Buffy.

Scrumptious Sunday

When I found this weekly meme, I knew I would have to participate - seriously, who doesn't want a little mealtime inspiration? And also, the word scrumptious just is not used nearly as much as it should be any more. It's a great word. So here goes my first Scrumptious Sunday, hosted by Mercedes Rocks:

Sunday, August 31, 2008
Theme: Frozen Treats

This is a weekly meme for Sundays. A theme is given each week. You can include a list of the foods, original pictures, pictures you find, stories, how-to’s, recipes…Participants can also add what kind of scrumptious dinner they had on that/or previous Sunday. Please link to this site (this post) in your post and come back here and leave a comment that includes the link to your post so other participants can come visit your Scrumptious Sunday. Thanks.

Of course, since my husband manages the Dairy Queen, frozen treats are popular at my house. The Peanut Buster Parfait is one my my favorites - just such a classic bit of frozen goodness. Recently, I also enjoyed the Thin Mints Blizzard - I'm not usually a Thin Mint fan during Girl Scout Cookie time, but crunched up in a blizzard, it was a winner.

I think this is my favorite ADULT frozen treat:
Not Your Kids' Root Beer Float
Submitted by: Ssharp
Rated: 5 out of 5 by 3 members
Prep Time: 5 Minutes
Ready In: 2 Hours 5 Minutes
Yields: 1 servings
"A slushy sweet root beer treat. Very decadent and VERY good!"
1 cup root beer
1/2 cup root beer schnapps
1 scoop vanilla ice cream
1. In a pint glass, stir together 1/4 cup of the root beer and the root beer schnapps. Place in the freezer for 2 hours, or until ready to drink. Leave the remaining root beer at room temperature.
2. When ready to drink, scoop the ice cream into the pint glass, and top off with the room temperature root beer.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © 2008 Printed from Allrecip

Yummy, Yummy goodness. It's like dessert with a kick. What's your favorite frozen treat? We need to hurry, since summer is almost over and we don't have much time to enjoy them before the weather starts working against us....

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tuesday Thingers

Today's topic: LibraryThing authors. Who are your LibraryThing authors? What books of theirs do you have? Do you ever comment on an author's LT page? Have you received any comments from an author on your LT account?

I have quite a few LibraryThing authors:

Elizabeth Bear
Dave Boling
Meg Waite Clayton
Sylvia Louise Engdhal
Sandra Gulland
Emmett James
Patrick Rothfuss
Brandon Sanderson
J. Scott Savage

I've had comments from Meg Waite Clayton and Sandra Gulland on my LT page, and had nice conversations with both. I'm still so incredibly starstruck about authors that it made my all bubbly inside for weeks. I've been lucky enough to participate in Scott Savage's blog tour for his most recent book, Farworld: Water Keep, and have emailed back and forth with him several times. All of the contacts I've had with authors have been very positive - they are all really cool people, which makes me even happier that I like their books!

Monday, August 25, 2008

At my house, we call this irony...

I just got off the phone with my sister - since you don't know her, you should know that she is a feminist who doesn't ever plan to have kids, and voted for Hillary Clinton. I'm fairly apolitical, and would adopt as many as Brad & Angelina if I could.

Here's the funny part - she's watching Jon & Kate Plus 8, and I'm watching the Democratic National Convention.

It's like bizzaro world around here lately.....=)


Am I the only one glad the Olympics is over? Don't get me wrong - I LOVE the Olympics. I even love the weird sports - handball, anyone?? But I know I've spent more hours in front of the t.v. over the past 16 days than probably the rest of the summer combined. And I am SO TIRED!! Evil NBC and its all night coverage.....Boy, am I glad to get back to my regular life. The stack of books I have to read is out of control - time to get busy!

Mailbox Monday

And so once again it is Monday, and time to take a look at what the book gods sent my way this week....

Once again I have a bumper crop - I think partly because my street was torn up for about 8 days, so when the mailman could get to my house again I got A LOT of stuff at once. I'm pretty sure he hates me.

(sorry, no pictures this week, as my camera is currently being held hostage at my in-laws, but links will be fun too, right?)

The Garden of Ruth
, The Song of Hannah, and The Triumph of Deborah, all sent to me incredibly graciously by the author, Eva Etzioni-Halevy. Biblical fiction - yea!! I can't wait to get started on these.

Midwife of the Blue Ridge
, also sent by the author, Christine Blevins. This one is a historical novel which looks fantastic. AND the author signed it - extremely cool. This is going to the top of the stack as well.

From various publicists: Seeing through the Lies: Unmasking the Myths Women Believe, by Vonda Skelton, and The Truth: What You Must Know before December 21, 2012 by (award winning author) Stephen Hawley Martin. The first one I am a little bit sketchy about - it sounds a little bit self-help-ey, which I don't really enjoy that much, but we'll give it a shot. The second is mostly for my husband - he loves conspiracy theories and the like, so we'll both enjoy that one. (I hope.)

Descartes Bones: A Skeletal History of the Conflict Between Faith and Reason
by Russell Shorto is an ARC from the publisher. I can't wait to read this one - it sounds like just my type of nonfiction. The Spiritualist by Megan Chance came from something I signed up for online, forever ago - I don't think I ever expected to receive anything, so it was a fun surprise. And Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri came from Bookins - I have loved her previous work, so can't wait to get into this one.

So there you have it - my haul for the week. Anything good come into your mailbox lately??

Friday, August 15, 2008

And the winner is......

After tossing all the entries in a hat, and making my totally disinterested husband pick one out, I can now declare the winner is:


Ruth, as soon as I get your snail mail info I will send it to the publisher and you will get your book. Congrats! I hope you love it!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher - Book Award Challenge

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale - Samuel Johnson Prize

(blurb from Barnes & Noble)

The dramatic story of the real-life murder that inspired the birth of modern detective fiction.

In June of 1860 three-year-old Saville Kent was found at the bottom of an outdoor privy with his throat slit. The crime horrified all England and led to a national obsession with detection, ironically destroying, in the process, the career of perhaps the greatest detective in the land.

At the time, the detective was a relatively new invention; there were only eight detectives in all of England and rarely were they called out of London, but this crime was so shocking, as Kate Summerscale relates in her scintillating new book, that Scotland Yard sent its best man to investigate, Inspector Jonathan Whicher.

Whicher quickly believed the unbelievable—that someone within the family was responsible for the murder of young Saville Kent. Without sufficient evidence or a confession, though, his case was circumstantial and he returned to London a broken man. Though he would be vindicated five years later, the real legacy of Jonathan Whicher lives on in fiction: the tough, quirky, knowing, and all-seeing detective that we know and love today…from the cryptic Sgt. Cuff in Wilkie Collins's The Moonstone to Dashiell Hammett's Sam Spade.

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher is a provocative work of nonfiction that reads like a Victorian thriller, and in it Kate Summerscale has fashioned a brilliant, multilayered narrative that is as cleverly constructed as it is beautifully written.

My thoughts - I really didn't like it all that much. It's certainly an interesting story, but the writing style felt more like someone's thesis paper than an actual published book. The author spent a lot of time comparing Whicher to popular detective novels of the time, and showing how this case created the detective novel genre, and those asides really detracted from the narrative, for me. It was alright, but not one I will be recommending to my reading friends.

And because I know everyone has been wondering...

I finished Breaking Dawn. My thoughts? Meh. I'm actually somewhat disappointed, but I don't think for the same reason as the thousands of screaming teen fans. (And by the way, I am going to try to do this without spoilers, so if you haven't read the book, it will probably make no sense.) Halfway through, I was IN LOVE. Meyer threw in a twist that I had not seen coming, but I felt like it was taking the book in a fantastic direction. I felt like the tension was going to build into something amazing. And then - it was done. It just felt so.....anticlimactic. I realize she wrote pages and pages of the great confrontation scene, but it just seemed so EASY for the result.

Okay, maybe spoiler here..................................


Seriously, Bella has a power, and she can perfect it in two weeks, and that will save everyone? And maybe it makes me morbid, but I felt like someone needed to die. Not necessarily a main character, but how can they be faced with the biggest evil vampire horde in the entire universe and come away with NOT EVEN A SCRATCH?? I realize this is part of my own personal bias, but all the great fantasy novels that have really moved me have included a death, and I think that is part of what makes them great. Fantasy is such an amazing venue to explore emotions, and I think the really good stuff explores ALL emotion, not just the happy parts. I know this is written for a YA audience, but come on - it just ended so incredibly happily-ever-after-ish. And I really felt like Meyer had the potential in the middle of the novel to do something that would blow my mind. Instead, it was just okay. Don't get me wrong - I was entertained. I was just hoping for more than I found.


I am still, however, firmly on Team Jacob, and would love a spin-off series featuring him! *grin*

Tuesday Thingers

And now it's time for Tuesday Thingers, hosted by The Boston Bibliophile.
Today's question: Favorite bookstores. What's your favorite bookstore? Is it an online store or a bricks-and-mortar store? How often do you go book shopping? Is your favorite bookstore (or bookstores) listed as a favorite in LT? Do you attend events at local bookstores? Do you use LT to find events?

What bookstore isn't my favorite? *grin* The one I visit the most is Half-Price Books. It's a great chain, with a pretty eclectic selection of used books and remainders. The staff at the one in my town is fun, too, so it makes for a good shopping experience. And based on the conversations I've had with them, they are serious readers like me, so I feel very comfortable each time I leave with a gigantic sack full of books. Also, they have recently started offering reusable shopping bags to purchase for $0.99, which I love, because then I don't have to figure out what to do with more of those darn plastic things. I also do quite a bit of shopping online, with Amazon and Barnes & Noble being me two favorite locations of choice. I really haven't had much luck with the LT local feature, so I don't pay a whole lot of attention to it - apparently there aren't enough of us in Des Moines yet to make it worthwhile.

Teaser Tuesday

It's Teaser Tuesday, hosted by Should be Reading. Here's the idea:

TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:

  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
  • Please avoid spoilers!
  • So here's my teaser, taken from How Far is the Ocean from Here by Amy Sheern.

    "The truth of it was that he had asked his parents about his biological mother - you had to say biological, not real - when he'd been a teenager, when he was told what he'd always suspected....If he and Kit were to adopt a child, raise it as their own, like a little foundling, knowing all along that the kid would someday ask about its real parents, to whom it would have some deep, mostly imagined bond - well, it was precisely why they had gone to such great measures to have one themselves." (page 128)

    Monday, August 11, 2008

    Mailbox Monday

    It's that time again - time for me to report on my inability to stop acquiring books. It was a rather successful week in my quest to own every book in the world - here's the haul:

    These are all ARC's I apparently requested, although there are a couple I honestly don't remember. Sweetsmoke is a LibraryThing Early Reviewer Book, so I will try to get to it fairly quickly. Acedia and Me by Kathleen Norris and The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell are very exciting - they are two of my favorite non-fiction authors, and I've read a lot of their work already.
    When We Were Romans has been getting a lot of buzz, so I'm excited to get into that one. The last three - The Necklace, The Shiniest Jewel, and The Terminal Spy, I don't actually remember requesting, which leads my to believe I might be getting a little out of control with this whole process. We'll see what happens with those - I'm a little skeptical about whether or not I will actually enjoy them. And now for the second round:

    These are all from one of the bookswapping sites that I am addicted to. I actually do excercise a little bit of self-control there - I only request books that I've already read and loved, or books that have been recommended to me that my library doesn't carry. However, they do seem to be stacking up as well. I think I might truly be addicted to acquiring more books - thank heavens it's not dangerous to my health, because I don't think I'm going to be able to stop!

    Thanks to Marcia at The Printed Page for hosting this again this week. What did you get in your mailbox? Share with us - it's almost like therapy!

    Saturday, August 9, 2008

    Confessions of the girl with no impulse control

    So, I caved. I was completely prepared to wait until my friend Becky had read the final book in the Twilight series, and then borrow it from her. I knew it would be hard to wait, but I had my plan, and I was ready. Until I stopped by Target last night, and there is was, all pretty and shiny, and ON SALE. I swear, I heard it call my name.

    So now, less than 24 hours later, I've just finished part 2, the Jacob section, and all I can say is WTF??? In the best possible way. I will admit to feeling a little smug after part 1 - I knew something crazy was going to go down, and before I started reading, I had a couple of ideas - and part 1 was EXACTLY one of my ideas. So I was all proud of myself, and a little let down, that I had figured out the big twist. And then came part 2. HOLY CRAP!! Seriously, I had to give myself a breather, because I was so completely caught off guard. What a brilliant path for Meyer to take. I am so loving this......

    Thursday, August 7, 2008


    I am still choked up - yep, I'm that much of a dork. But much love and congratulations to Joshua Allen, the winner of So You Think You Can Dance. *cue cheers and applause!*
    The top four were all such beautiful dancers that any of them could have been the winner, and I was happy they gave a prize to the top female dancer, Katee. It was such an amazing season - I really can't imagine another group of dancers that will grab my heart the way these kids have. I almost don't want to watch next season - but I'm sure I will, because I can't help myself.

    Now it's on to the Olympics, and here in Des Moines we are awfully proud of our two hometown girls, Shawn Johnson and LoLo Jones, who will be competing for gold this year. The last time I watched the Olympics, my husband and I were in St. Lucia on our honeymoon - the view was considerably better there than from my couch, but I think Olympic season will always be special for us because of those memories.

    On a personal, and completely sappy note, today is my fourth wedding anniversary. I've never had a moment of regret for marrying the man I chose, and I'm proud of that. Of course we aren't perfect, but we sure are good together, and I can't imagine loving anyone more. Happy Anniversary, hon!

    Monday, August 4, 2008

    Mailbox Monday

    Ladies and Gents, it's officially Monday again (boo!), and time for another installment of Mailbox Monday, hosted by Marcia of The Printed Page.
    Actually, at this point Monday is basically over, so I don't really have that much reason to be boo-ing, and I did get some great books to share with you this week, so let's get to it. Here's the haul:

    Three were from Bookins, my newest obsession (thanks, Marcia!) - Kleopatra, by Karen Essex, Ysabal, by Guy Gavriel Kay, and The Raj Quartet, by Paul Scott. I'm most excited about Ysabal, since Guy Gavriel Kay is one of my all-time favorite authors.

    Then I got 3 new ARCs - Rune Warriors, by Jennewein and Parker, First Daughter, by Eric van Lustbader, and Swimming with Strangers, by Kirsten Sundberg Lunstrum. First Daughter is even signed by the author - how fun is that??!

    The other two - The Grift, by Debra Ginsberg, and How Far is the Ocean from Here, by Amy Shearn, were scored by a website I am going to be a new reviewer for, Bookloons. I am very excited for both these books - I tried to get an ARC of the Grift on my own but failed, so I am so happy I managed to snag a copy!

    So that's my weekly report - who else got some mailbox love this week? Do tell!!

    Saturday, August 2, 2008

    Fantasy Book Spot

    To file under the "This is pretty cool" section of my life -

    I'm currently on a month-long trial to see if I can be a contributor at - yep, my reviews on an actual, real live webpage. I am pretty nervous about it - I mean, nobody actually reads my blog, so this is a whole new world. It could be fun, though, and I should get exposed to a lot of fantasy stuff I've never seen before, which I will love. So, we'll see what happens - for now, I have my first review on the website. It's of what is one of my favorite novels, The Lions of Al-Rassan, and you can read it right here if you are interested.

    Find Your Magic!

    I have the great delight of being a participant in the Farworld 2008 Blog Tour for J. Scott Savage's upcoming book, Farworld: Water Keep. It is a great book, and I am excited to help get the world out. First up, my review:

    13-year-old Marcus is an outsider - orphaned, friendless, with disabilities to his arm and leg that require the use of a wheelchair, the new boy at school facing a group of relentless bullies. His only escape is Farworld, the place he has created in his mind where magic abounds. When a menacing stranger appears threatening to take him away, Marcus finds himself suddenly pulled out of his normal life - and into Farworld. His rescuer is Kyja, herself an outsider in Farworld - in a land where magic abounds, she possesses none. The pair is guided by Master Therapass, who knows the true link Marcus has with Kyja. The Dark Circle has discovered the secret that can be the undoing of Farworld, and only Marcus and Kyja can convince the elusive Elementals to work together to make a path between the two worlds.

    Savage has a wonderful, visual style of writing that enables the reader to see exactly how this new, magical world appears. Several times I found myself re-reading paragraphs, not because I was confused but because I loved reading Savage's descriptions of the world he has created. I believe he does a good job of allowing the reader to sympathise for his two main characters withouth making them seem weak. Both Marcus, with his physical limitations, and Kyka, with her insecurities, are often pitied by the people around them. Savage, however, never feels sorry for either of them, but allows them to discover how strong they can become when they work together and believe in themselves.

    As a woman, I am thrilled to see a young girl in a novel who is written as a true equal to the young man. Too often, the girl is the sidekick - plucky and cute, but watching as the boy gets to be the hero. Savage gives Kyja just as much importance as Marcus, and allows her to be heroic in her own right. And the bad guys are truly scary - I found myself anxious several times when the kids were in danger.Trust me, you don't want to mess with the Thrathkin S'Bae!

    I really enjoyed this book. Because this is the first in a series, Savage has to spend a lot of time explaining and introducing , which can at times slow the pace of the novel. However, he has created several characters - Master Therapass and Bonesplitter especially, that I can't wait to read more about. This series has a lot of potential, and I am very exited to read the continuing adventures of Marcus and Kyja. I can't wait for the next installment!

    Finished: 6/9/08
    Rating: 8/10
    Source: ARC from author

    Next on the agenda, a fun Q & A with author J. Scott Savage. He asked us to come up with a fun location for our virtual intervew - I, alas, am not very creative. However, when I found out that he is a fellow border collie owner, I thought we could take our dogs to a virtual dog park and see if they would make friends. Here's what happened:

    E-I thought it would be fun to take our dogs to a dog park - I have a spastic border collie as well, so maybe our dogs can make friends. (or herd each other around in the grass.)

    S -Definitely lots of herding going on. Small children and stray sheep beware!

    E -Thanks for coming to Des Moines to hang out with Kadie and I. Luckily the dog park is empty today, so my badly behaved dog will hopefully not freak out too much. She's not really that good with crowds. Here, I will toss a ball into the trees for her to sniff out, and we can get started.

    S -Excellent! Nothing like a good game of slobberball.

    E -On your blog you made a comment about your belief that an author needs to know the end of the story before they begin to write. (And p.s., I wish a lot of TV shows would adopt this rule - do you hear me Lost??) Anyway....did you have the end to the whole series in mind when you began Farworld:Water Keep, or just the first book? Did you initially envision the story as a series? A trilogy? A stand-alone? If you originally though your story would contain fewer books, at what point did you realize it would have to expand?

    S -That’s a great question. The problem a lot of authors (and TV show script writers) have is that they don’t know up front how many book/shows they will have to work with. Unless you are a big name or have a really amazing idea, it’s hard to get a publisher to commit to a series up front. Fortunately I had a pretty good idea where this series would go and SM was very open doing a five book series. I’m not sure I could have moved forward with this otherwise. About midway through the first book there is a very major clue to what happens in book five. It’s subtle enough that I don’t expect anyone to catch it. But obvious enough that in looking back, people will go, “Ohhh, cool. He planned that all along.” I could never have done that if I didn’t know the ending. I also learned a lot more about the story though as I wrote book one. There were many things that I went back and changed.

    E -Uh-oh, it looks like Kadie is in herding mode - let me toss the ball again.

    S -It’s okay. That homeless man didn’t want to be over there anyway. Look Kadie sent him over to a nice comfortable bench. Good dog.

    E -Okay, next question. How much of the series do you actually have completed? Are all the books ready to go, or are you just starting to get things sketched out?

    S -Only the first book is actually written. The second book is underway.

    E -Kadie, stop sniffing that dog's behind! Sorry about that.

    S -So what do you think? Is there a possible market for dog rear cologne? Probably don’t want to know what smell would appeal to other dogs though.

    E - RIght, that would just be gross. Anywhoo..I'm always curious how fantasy writers come up with their world's language. How do you come up with words like ishkabiddle and Thrathkin S'Bae. Are they based on an actual existing language, or do you just play fruit basket upset with the Scrabble pieces?

    S -A little from column a. A little from column b. Some names are made up or taken from other sources. For example while I was in New York earlier this month I saw a bridge called the Throggsneck bridge. Instantly I pictured this blobby little creatures with big feet and really long necks. So don’t be surprised if Throggs show up in a future book. But I wanted to the Thrathkin S’Bae to really feel different. They have their own language, their own hierarchy. I’ve actually plotted out quite a bit of their language. There’s a lot more to them than I get to show in the first book.

    E -Do you have a favorite character in the series? Or do you, like my mom, love all your children the same?

    S -My favorite character is usually whoever or whatever I am writing at the time.

    E - my mom, whose favorite kid is whoever hasn't crayoned the walls that day. Makes sense.Oops - pooper scooper time. Okay, now that I've cleaned that mess up......It seems like young adult literature often has a message to impart to its readers. Do you think your books have a message? Do you find it easier or harder to impart that message using the fantasy genre?

    S -If you want to write a good story, you can't set out to provide a certain message, but in all good stories the inherent messages bubble to the surface. I hope my story is one of those. I do think that fantasy lends itself to messages more than some other genres. There is a lot of focus on good vs. evil and seeing our world through the eyes of other civilizations.

    E - Every author has other writers that influence their writing. Do you have any writing influences that are NOT other writers? Songs, movies, etc?

    S - Oh yeah. Music and movies both. Certain scenes or songs just your pulse pounding and make you want to create something that powerful. There are several scenes from LOTR for example that are just so strong, you can’t watch them without getting pumped.

    E -What are some of your favorite fantasy books - both for adults and younger readers?

    S - Gosh, there are so many. Of course there are some of the older classics. A Wrinkle in Time, The Thomas Covenant series. I’m really impressed with Brandon Sanderson’s stuff. I recently read the Bartimaeus Trilogy. Very good, but a little older. Nightmare Academy had a great first book. Definitely something even younger readers can enjoy.

    E -Fantasy writing is all about convicing your readers that your world could actually exist. In your real life, what do you believe is true even though you can't prove it?

    S - Okay, this is going to get me in trouble, but I believe in magic. Not the witchcraft or voodoo kind of thing per se, but the kind of magic that makes you gasp when you see a perfect orchid or see a painting that is so beautiful it could not have been made by human hands. One day scientists are going to go, “Well look at that! I guess there is magic.”

    E -As a fellow border collie owner, how many consecutive hours would your dog play ball if you allowed it? And how many balls can your dog fit into it's mouth at once? (Mine can fit two - she's an overachiever.)

    S - I don’t know if she would ever quit playing ball. But now I’m going to have to go try the ball thing. Are we talking tennis balls?

    E - Yep, she can stack two tennis balls on top of each other in her mouth. She's pretty talented! Okay, my dog has officially lost all seven of the balls I brought to play with, so it looks like it is time to go home. Thanks so much for spending the afternoon with us! I know Kadie had a great time, even if she did display apallingly bad manners.

    S -Are you kidding? With that smile how could you possibly accuse her of bad manners? Thank you. I had a ball. Pun intended.

    Thanks so much to Scott for that interview, and for being such a good sport. And now for the coolest part of the blog tour - I get to give away a book!! Shadow Mountain (Farworld's publisher) is supplying a FREE copy of Farworld: Water Keep for me to give away to one lucky blog reader - that means you!! If you leave me a comment on this post, you will get one entry. If you take some extra time and give me a list of your favorite YA books, or fantasy books, I will give you another entry. If you link to this post on your blog, I'll give you another entry. Remember, this book doesn't come out until September 12, so this is a fun opportunity to read a great book before anyone else you know! (Except me, of course.) This contest will run until Midnight Central Time on AUGUST 14, with the winner chosen on August 15. So what are you waiting for - enter already!!