- A Little Sisterly Advice
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- Gunner Marnee's Blog
- J.K. Coi: Living with Immortals
- Just Janga
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- Kimberly Killion
- Maggie Robinson
- Maureen O. Betita
- Megan Kelly
- Pam Clare
- Renee Lynn Scott
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- Scapegoat's Blogspot
- Smartass Romance
- Terri Osburn Writes Romance
- Tessa Dare
- Vauxhall Vixens
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To Scape, may revisions be sweet and the story pour out like the smoothest splash of rum. (I'm expecting Q to come up with a better toast.)
Raise your glass. Let's give a group HUZZAH!!!
When Keely reappears in his life, Colin Quinn’s fairie blood threatens to gain the upper hand. Compelled to assist the lovely Halfling, he agrees to help her break the curse on their families, but he'll do it on his terms—as the black wolf.
I don’t want to give away the ending, but everyone knows that together, two Halflings can stand against any power. Since GIFT OF THE REALM is a romance, you might enjoy reading it with one of your wenches. Your ladylove will surely wonder if Keely will be doomed for eternity, or if love is enough to break the curse. While you *winks* will no doubt relate to Colin’s arrogant plan to outwit the King of the Fairies.
But conventions are fabulous and I want to talk about why every writer, unpubbed or pubbed, needs to attend them. Why?
1) For the connections. Not just professional, but the friendships, the support, the chance to talk about everything! Submission, pitching, query, marketing, critiques, rejection, request.
2) For the fun. No kidding. It was…a blast! I invited a pirate to show up on Saturday and he was such a hit…even Susan Elizabeth Phillips took a pic with him and posted it on her FB page… Bluebeard, what a lovely man. At the end of the time I paid him for, he said it was such a blast! Where was the event next year? (Oh, love, if I had the money, I’d bring you to Kansas City!)
3) For the inspiration. Nothing like talking to writer after writer, after editor after agent about what is going on. Who is looking for what, what is selling, what might sell, what you write, what they write. Bouncing ideas off each other. I don’t know how many people ended up in their rooms, at night, late…and wrote.
(I didn’t. I slept. Or put together swag or stayed in the bar or drank with new friends in their room – who ordered deep dish Chicago style pizza and handed me a drink called a Dirty Girlscount. Which tasted like a thin mint cookie. Christine Merrill and Corrina Lawson are…awesome!)
I made notes on a few stories. For me, the inspiration came in getting home and waking three mornings in a row with dreams. One of which…no, two of which, have been recorded and made note of for future stories. A new steampunk pirate that is set in the world I created with my two scifi erotic shorts and a new little short story.
What a writer shouldn’t do?
Do not put off going to conventions because you don’t have a MS finished. Do not decide you can’t go because you:
A) Don’t have anything to pitch. Trust me, you have things to pitch. Maybe not to an agent or an editor, but pitching isn’t always about getting the deal. Sometimes it’s about learning how to talk about your story by sharing it with other writers.
B) Don’t know anyone. Yes, you do. Through FB, through Twitter, through blogs. Authors you read want to meet you and talk to you. (Okay, this may not be true at the RWA Nationals, because a lot of them are there to do a lot of professional meet ups with editors or agents.) But it is so true at other conventions.
C) Can’t afford to go. Uh huh. There are cons everywhere and for most every price range. And it’s amazing how cheap a hotel can be if you put enough people in a hotel room. Food? Hey, I had cereal three times instead of eating in the pricey hotel restaurant.
RT, where I heard Renee Bernard present a loving tribute to Judi McCoy at the opening ceremonies. (Cried and laughed.) I sat in Club RT with Joanne Fluke and chatted about cinnamon rolls. At a party that evening, I scored two wine coolers.
The next day, I played Mad Libs with a bunch of panel attendees, tossing pirate rubber duckies, and made Katharine Ashe wear a tam-o-shanter perched on a headband. I announced my awesome costume shopping kharma at the Gaslight Social, on stage, introducing myself as 2nd Chance, the bartender on the Romance Writers Revenge blog! I harassed an erotic author sitting next to me at the E-Book and Indy Published Book Fair. (She took it well.) I convinced Jane to compete in the costume contest at the Faery Ball and she won two awards! One of which was the big one!
I played hooky on Friday and went to Chicago. And posed with THE BEAN!
Saturday? Bluebeard and the RT Bookfair. Where I harassed Renee Bernard and sold/signed books. (I spent a lot of time harassing people. Ah, the freedom of a pirate hat! Turns me into…someone who feels free to harass!) I gave away pirate rubber duckies at the Fan-Tastic Day Party, then pitched to Angela James that night at the Carina Press Cocktail Party. What’s not to love about conventions!?
So, what is your excuse for not going to cons? If you’ve gone to cons, what was your favorite part? If money and time were yours to spend freely, what con would you go to? Is it your dream to be a Guest of Honor? To speak? To present a panel? (Anyone know a good source for pirate rubber krakens? I’d like to try something new…)
I'm not usually a pat yourself on the back kind of person but you probably need it. So take a deep breath, de-stress yourself from the ball of anxiety you've become after realizing you're not doing as well as you wanted to do and reward yourself. Writing shouldn't be punishment.Writing is supposed to be fun. It's supposed to be an extension of our imagination onto page.
One of the exercises of NaNoWriMo is to just write. It doesn't matter if it has nothing to do with the story you're writing, the point is that you're writing. Your brain is thinking creatively. So if you're stalled on your story don't sweat it. We all go through these spells. Stressing about it will make it worse and then we start to stress that we're stressing over our writing. It's a vicious cycle.
So the goal for the rest of the month is to just enjoy it. Enjoy the time you do get to sit down in front of your computer or the time you get to pull out your notebook and jot down your thoughts and snippets. Remember how much you love to write scenery or dialogue and just write for the hell of it. I want you to succeed. You want to succeed. And you can do this. I have faith in your ability to create. Just have fun.
Go out enjoy the sun. Enjoy the wind buffering against your face. Smell the sweet flowers blooming. Go for a walk. Take a nap. Read a book. Do anything else but sit there and stare at your computer screen for hours.
Music Influence- a band called Hurt. If you don't know them, find them, love them, stalk them to a concert near you. Seriously. You won't regret it.
“Cold on the inside. In phases my lights die. Staring through ardent eyes. I love you, but I lied. Cold on the inside. In faces a smile dies. Staring through ardent eyes. I loathe you, but I lied.”
Cold Inside- Hurt (Vol. 1, 2006)
The first time I knew I wanted to write, it wasn't a story. I didn't have a story to tell. Or at least I didn't think I had a story to tell. I felt all this pressure inside me welling up. My brain was a jumbled mess of nothing and everything. My fingers itched to do something but I wasn't sure what. I didn't know it was the urge to create. To write.
I was a child who spent my energy running outside from dawn to dusk. If I was inside, I poured over books. I lived in my imaginary world. I lived inside others imagination, showing me things in the world I didn't know existed, or possible.
I ran through fields of overgrown grass and weeds, Black-Eyed Susans, dandelions and clover sweetened the breeze even on the hottest days. I lived in my makeshift world where I had a stable of unicorns and a winged unicorn was my personal best friend. The clouds always held shape and was easy for my eyes to make out the obvious faces staring down at me. The first summer after my eyes no longer had innocence and couldn't find the simple wonders in the world, my fingers learned a new world. My words painted what my eyes no longer saw. Short strokes on a blank notebook page. The only sound was the pencil scratching furiously. The sentences held no format. Punctuation was nowhere to be found, but I found something I had been missing. All that had pent up inside me in those years of pretending and wandering manifested into... something. I wasn't sure what it was. What I'd carved out of my heart sat roughly on this page. My handwriting wasn't neat. Nor my sentences witty and clever. But for a brief second I felt that little piece of happiness I'd been missing and hadn't known it was truly gone.
I saw a way on that page to truly live again.
But this had to remain my secret. No one could know of this. Read this. Discover this. This- manifestation of what was in me. No one could know but me. I just wanted my life back. The life of running carefree through the fields and staring up at the clouds. Of wishing on stars and believing the magic in the stories I read. If I could only exercise out what stopped me from believing, I could have it all back.
So I wrote. And I kept writing. I had pages filled with thoughts and fears burned into my mind. The loss and the pain and uncertainty poured out until I knew there was nothing left. My tears smeared the pen and wrinkled the paper and yet I woke up the next day filled with the same feelings. I'd never have it back- the innocence I lost. I'd never be the little girl running through the field and chasing butterflies, believing they were faeries guiding me into the faerie kingdom. I'd never be the little girl wishing on stars and believing the one that fell was the unicorn I'd dreamed for. The writing showed me I wasn't a little girl. I was never going to be that girl again. If I wanted to dream, I had to find a way to bring it to life.
And that is how I learned to write.
Do you remember the first thing you ever wrote that meant something to you? What does writing (or reading) mean to you?
Just a side note: The song above I reference was written by the lead singer of Hurt, J. Loren Wince, when he was just 13 years old. Reading lyrics, to me, is a lot like reading poetry. My first words were manifested into free form poetry. I think this is why I've always loved music and lyrics.
Blame It On Bath--TERRI
The Tattooed Duke--MARN
Next week, up for grabs will be: UNDER A VAMPIRE MOON, by Lyndsay Sands (which I read over the weekend and can't wait to blog about it! Funny, sexy, charming! A must-read!)
And the week after, THE LYON'S BRIDE (CHATTAN CURSE) by Cathy Maxwell, which I'm reading now and am loving. There will also be a copy of this up for grabs...so tell your friends to come back and comment. If you really want a copy, comment twice!
Apparently this series--aside from Tolkien's--was his favorite when he was a kid. (At least this time, I didn't say, "You read?"--I learn my lessons. This time I said, "God, you're such a geek. I never would have guessed.") He's lucky I don't make him read the books I found formative in my teens, like Sylvie Somerfield's Autumn Dove (and probably yet another reason why I wanted to have red hair). Or that Janelle Taylor "First Love Wild Love" with the blond Texas Ranger. *faraway look*
So I read this book, Dragons of Autumn Twilight. I found it infinitely more readable than Tolkien. INFINITELY.
I also have to thank all my fantasy-paranormal reading I've done in the last ten years or so, because that is the only reason why I've become halfway tolerant of names that are not pronounceable...and town names that are even less so. I also want to thank the ladies who wrote the book for having approximately 1/3 of the long, boring songs that Fellowship of the Rings had. I also was relieved that the women featured in the books were not only good when they were dead (i.e. a la Conan and the Tree of Woe). Though the good woman in the story DID have a death scene of sacrifice. There's no escaping that in the Hero's Journey, I guess.
Overall, though, a decent read. Can't say I'm going to run out and start reading fantasy novels hand over fist. I spent a lot of my time reading this book, identifying the things that didn't work for me as a reader. This is good practice for writing, I believe. I may not always know what I want to say, but I can tell you what I don't want to. Like--I don't like the Point of View writing they use. It's almost like an author omniscient. It makes the story about the plot and not about the story of the characters (i.e. emotional journey, structure.) In fact, the scenes I liked most about the book were the emotional scenes. There was a character I could not stand--the mage, Raistlin (pretty sure none of us should like him)--but there was a scene between him and a gully dwarf, where he's genuinely kind, where you almost understand his behavior. The rest of the time, I wanted to beat him with a baseball bat.
The thing is--fantasy are all about that author omniscient stuff. Are there any books (fantasy) that are 1st person? I would like to read one of those. But I don't believe it's the norm and it's not the expected. It's not the comfort read fantasy novel. I think the reason these books probably stand out is that--it's still primarily plot and action, but there's enough emotional stuff there to really make the story a stand out for readers. It's just different enough for fantasy fans to be a standout.
The male characters are interesting. I think perhaps they are probably some very real male characters. You have the one who can't accept himself and doesn't know where he belongs (I call him the Hamlet character; he's the leader and noble of sorts, but he irks the shit out of me with his indecision and pantywaist crap.) There is the knight who lives, breathes, and dies honor. Honor has been stripped away from his life, but he wants to pay penance and restore it--honor is life. (And God knows men can be batshit crazy about honor--the war, brotherhood kind.) The mage who has been weak and repressed all his life who wants to be the most powerful wizard in the Universe, like some sort of medieval Pinky from Pinky and the Brain. He literally wants to be like god. (This character I understand least of all. Anyone who wants to be God is an idiot, imo. But I've been on plenty of dates with these kinds of guys.)
I do find the Knight possibly my favorite of the characters--I like the consistency; and if you're going to have a flaw, I think I may prefer you to be too honorable rather than a god-hungry egotist or a indecisive whiner who can't decide which woman he wants. That was very impressive about this story. The men were definitely men (even if they were dwarves.) They were flawed men with no apologies--not fantasy romance novel men who are so sensitive they ask how you're feeling. None of that crap. These men are confused. They have real issues on their minds--like honor. Or in Kender's case, Adventure.
Okay--so what's the book about? It's a trilogy--because it's illegal for a fantasy writer to write only one book of a fantasy world. I think it's in their contract or something. A trilogy is the minimum you can commit to. In the story, the end of the world is nigh--isn't it always?--and the half-elf, mage, knight, warrior, kender, wizard, and dwarf meet up in a bar to pool their notes from their travels to see just how imminent the end of the world really is. It's so imminent, there's a fight and they end up taking on two more companions--strangers, of course--and are sent on a journey. They need to take a staff to a city...and find out how to save the world...or something to that effect. (It's a fantasy novel--it's always a ring/staff/necklace/sword/child--that has to be taken to the worst city possible where Death is so likely they fill out your death certificates before you leave and you have to restore peace and prosperity in the lands. On the journey, you'll meet someone nice in some woods, you'll go through some elven woods (though the elves are fleeing like rats off the Titanic), and you'll fight some weird looking evil creatures (Dragonians, Orcs, Deatheaters, et al).) Oh, don't get disgruntled. You know it's true. It's the same sort of same-old-same-old romances provide: boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy screws girl...blah, blah, blah. Fantasy novels follow their own beats, and we all know what they are.
The point is: if you like the hero's journey of this nature, you'll love this book. It's a nice comfortable read. Me, it took two weeks to read. It was readable; and I was able to discuss it with Deerhunter throughout, but I'm no convert. The fact is if I can read it and enjoy it--which I did--it means that this book must be pretty phenomenal to actual Fantasy Fans.
Apparently there is a fourth book of the trilogy (proving another theory that fantasy writers can't actually add) called the Dragons of Summer--basically it covers the last season--this one was the Dragons of Autumn Twilight--and basically it destroys all the HEAs that occur at the end of the trilogy (the Spring one) originally. This also proves theory that fantasy novelists can't stand HEAs and must destroy them as soon as possible. I am convinced Nicholas Sparks suckled at the breasts of many a fantasy trilogy.
So...fantasy readers, I have questions 1.) do you know any first person fantasy novels that are really good? 2.) what is it you like about fantasy novels? 3.) what made you cross over to romances and what was the hardest thing to get used to in reading romance novels?
I started ApriWriMo with high hopes...or well, hopes. I'm rarely high. I would succeed at the challenge and write my 50 pages, a mere 12 pages a week, plus four pages for those last two days. I could do that. Anyone could do that?
The first few days, I seemed to be doing well, much like I would on a new diet regimen. I had the writing equivalent of a stocked fridge of veggies and fruit, a set time to meet with my personal trainer every day, and daily affirmations posted everywhere to keep me on the path.
Then after day three, I got a little nervous ("Terri! I don't know what I'm going to do! My BFF is in town and I haven't seen her since 2003! I won't be able to write my pages these three days! I'll be SOOOO behind!"), but after Terri talked me off the ledge, I went to bed most nights, scribbling longhand and at least had some pages if they weren't ALL the pages I needed to make my monthly quota. I felt, well, not good about it, but resigned. Some was better than nothing.
My friend went home on Friday, and I had the weekend to myself, which I chose to spend recuperating. This is Hellion Shorthand for "Sleeping", which I honestly wish I could be paid for. I'd make so much money. I was also struggling through a Dragonlance book that I promised my Deerhunter I would read since "it was the best book ever...well, excluding Tolkien, but since you won't read that..." and to which I lovingly replied, "God, you're such a geek." (Said the Harry Potter fan as she hurled the first stone.) But weekends are for recovering from work, and this is the busy time of year for applications, and it's so draining. I frequently fantasize about working somewhere else. Somewhere where I'm paid for sleeping. Also because I was lazing around, visiting with friends I hadn't seen in an eon, and skipping the gym (which has contributed to shoulder pain, more sleeping, and an alarming amount of laziness.)
I'd get it back together come Monday, I thought. I'll have the creativity night with Pam...and I'll go to the gym. I promise! No dillydallying!
At 3 a.m. the phone rang.
I don't know what it is for you in your part of the world, but in mine, a 3 a.m. is never good news. I glanced at the number and saw it was the friend I had just seen last week. I answered--and she sobbed into the phone, "Arthur just died." Arthur is the husband I just met last week, whom she brought home for all of us to meet. She'd married him less than a year ago. He was 36. He'd had a heart attack. There is nothing more helpless than being 1000 miles away from someone you can't hug or hold as she cries on the phone.
Monday was a bit of a loss where sleep was concerned, as you might imagine. But I did have my creativity night with Pam. I penned a couple pages and we called it a night. Tuesday I crashed early from the Monday episode; Wednesday had my normal long night of Weight Watchers meeting and then also a run to the farm to pick up Dad for a doctor's appointment on Thursday. Thursday was a 7 am-8 pm day of running and worry, and when I got home, I pretty much crashed. Then Friday through Sunday turned into a repeat of last week: recovering from the stress of the week before.
It's not like I couldn't make time. I can carve it out. It's not like other writers don't go through family crises of children and aging parents, have other personal crises that may crop up in their own lives or their friends, or even have another day time job that sucks out their energy and drive like some kind of vampire. Writers deal with this crap all the time.
As usual a lot of this inertia is stemming from my PERFECTIONIST gene. Which doesn't exist because you can't have perfection in anything. As a clever little line in a writing book I read recently (I think it was Wabi Sabi for Writers), "Perfection is PURE FICTION." I want to have huge hunks of time; I want to write 10 pages at a sitting; I want the pages to be the best freaking pages ever, so much that Shakespeare would be jealous; I want to feel refreshed as I'm writing pages--not exhausted, brain-dead, stressed, or depressed.
But in the end I arrive at the conclusion I always circle back to. There is no perfect time to write. You just do.
I think the other half of this month is going to be dedicated to finding Hellion's groove back for one. I have a list of remedies, but need to add them back one at a time. Adding them all at once will only doom me to failure. Clearly though I need to figure out out some ways to de-stress first to contribute to my overall well-being.
But I'm really going to have to kick this Perfection Habit. Or Perfection "Need". I'm sure it's a mental ailment, so you can't really get rid of it; you can only live around it. But I need some better ways to live around it. De-stressing is the first cure, though, I'm pretty sure.
So I'm sorry this blog isn't clever or witty...or even deep or revelational. It is what it is. A confession. I'm still mired in my own head and my own problems--and I'm going to have to figure out a way out of the first because problems never go away. :) Knowing my therapist, I'm sure the witch would tell me I should give up writing because I clearly wasn't any good at it and find a new hobby that was less stressful.
Yes, that's exactly what she'd say. And I'd have to write to prove her wrong--because it's what I did the last time she gave me that sort of advice. But while I'm doing it, I'm going to do some meditation and a few yoga stretches first.
How do you find balance in your life? Do you ever stress out from your normal everyday activities and wonder how you'll make writing really work? Does it ever feel to you the moment you begin working on something in earnest, the Universe conspires to throw extra things your way to deal with?
A thought occurred to me. I wondered what would happen if our Undead Monkey started texting us. Here's what I think Jack would say:
Sin: You mean the loot? We're kinda low right now. I'll stop at Loot Be Us on my way home.
But my days in the car aren't back to back, so sometimes I go a few days in between being able to listen. I've been listening to romantic suspense and thrillers, and let me tell you, with a couple days lag, it's easy to get lost in a complex plot when your listening rather than reading.
I listened to a Lee Child book this week (Killing Floor, the first of the Jack Reacher series, which was AWESOME!). He had 10 bad guys that had to be caught. TEN! That's a lot of names and relationships to keep straight, especially when I'm swerving in and out of traffic through downtown Baltimore, chugging on cigarettes to keep my blood pressure down (ha!) and only listening with half an ear.
So invariably, the name of a super-bad villain would be mentioned, and I'd be going, "Who's that? Wait! What?" What really impressed me with Lee Child's writing is that just about the time I found myself lost, he'd provide a handy 1-2 sentence recap. Just a little reminder to tweak the reader's (or listener's, in this case) memory as what we were supposed to know.
Then a few times throughout the book, he'd provide a full recap of the plot. This particular plot was smashed into a one-week span, so he did it chronologically. Something like:
I'd been arrested on Friday, out of prison by Sunday, got hammered with Joe's death on Tuesday, and by Thursday, we'd taken out four of the ten guys involved. It'd been a hell of a week.
It's simple, it's in the hero's voice and style of speaking, and it's just enough organization to keep readers (or listeners) on track. It's also very short, which lets it fit seamlessly into the narrative.
Anybody else listen to books on tape and find themselves needing quick recaps? Any authors who do a particularly good job of keeping their plot organized for the reader? Do you prefer books on tape or books on paper? Ever thought about how your book might sound if read on tape, and what kind of recaps your readers might need?
Here’s an accident every writer and publisher wants to have happen. I bought a book thinking it was the next in a series written by someone else.
This is humorous really because I’m usually a bit better with names; however, the cover looked right, the premise sounded a bit similar, the first page or so of writing seemed intense, fast, and humorous like the other book. It must be the same person. I bought the book and read it: AN AFFAIR WITH MR. KENNEDY.
About five pages or so into the book, I became a little confuzzled. Why? Because when I looked at the author’s blurb, it said this was her debut novel. I said to myself, “No, it isn’t! She wrote that Smith book! I know she did! It’s why I bought this book!” Still, it niggled and finally I went in pursuit of the original book on my shelves and realized I am a bit of an idiot. Like a total and complete idiot. The author names weren’t even remotely the same. I’m surprised they were both female names honestly.
AN AFFAIR WITH MR. KENNEDY is by Jillian Stone. It is set in 1887, and it put the HISTORICAL in historical romance. The detail is so rich, it’s not something that can be plucked out of its structure and launched elsewhere. No. The story and the structure are indelibly entwined. But this is not to suggest it’s boring (since I am afraid every time I drone on ad nauseum about the importance of historical accuracy and not wallpapering, this is what everyone’s thinking) because Ms. Stone certainly pushes the envelope of accuracy, possibility, and plausibility.
And before I forget: BEST. MOTHER. EVER. Seriously, I’m not kidding. This book should be read for the secondary character of the heroine’s mother alone. That woman is a piece of work. Absolutely hysterical. Not in a prim horrified Victorian way, but in a free-love, don’t-forget-to-protect-yourself-during-sex-dear kind of way. She’s horrifying.
Our heroine takes her mother in stride though, and she’s not a prim-and-proper missish creature either. She’s daring, but she’s reasonable about it. It feels plausible, as if these characters could have existed at some point.
The story keeps up a rather break-neck pace, but easy to follow and loathe to put down. It’s character-driven AND plot-driven AND tension-driven all rolled up at the same time. I honestly want to hunt down this woman and beg her to write a blog for us, but I couldn’t begin to decide what I’d want her to focus on most.
For those of you a bit leery of the “historical” aspect I’m so thrilled with, it has a bit of the shiny, fun, clever Steampunk elements that show up now and again in the Victorian era. I cannot wait to see what Ms. Stone does next with her books of Scotland Yard and what newfangled machine she will put to the test.
So let’s recap:
Is it historical? YES.
Is it romantic? YES, YES.
Is it sexy? Hells, yes.
Is it fun and edgy? Do bears poop in the woods?
Does it have steampunk for Mo? This woman has everything, man.
Will Q like it? He’d be crazy not to!
Emotional. Sexy. Actiony. And hilarious. What more are you wanting? Free? Well, you can’t have everything. Go buy this woman’s book so she’ll write more. Rafe is up next on the docket and I don’t want anything getting in the way of his debut. Yummo!
Read it, thank me, and then figure out how to learn her brilliance so you can implement her tricks into your story and make it better. We all aspire to be this detailed, emotionally structured, and well-paced. Well done debut, Ms. Stone!
And for full disclosure let me add: I bought my copy (as I said above, when I thought she was someone else!) and it's going on my keeper shelf. No one has compensated me for my unbiased opinion. :) I give it away for free.
Divulge: What's the happiest accident you've found in reading a book? Thought you were reading one novel and found out you were reading something else instead? Thought one thing was going to happen but the author surprised you in a good way? And if those questions don't work for you this Tuesday--what's next on your TBR pile. I could use some suggestions for next week!