Monday, August 30, 2010

My First Love

A friend called this morning and asked if I wanted to go riding today. Horseback riding. You know - horses - my most favorite thing? And it's the perfect day - cool, feels like fall weather with just a hint of sun. Excellent riding weather. So what did I tell her?

"I've set aside today to work on my manuscript."

What? I'm saying to myself. Are you nuts? It's the perfect day for riding.

But I haven't worked on my story for three days, and it's calling me, calling me, with an urgency more important than riding. I need to get this finished, need to get it out there, and I guess I just realized that writing is my most important priority right now.

Things have changed. Writing is my first love. Wow. I guess even I'm a bit shocked. Over and out - back to my story.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


I am a birdwatcher. I have two pairs of binoculars on the shelf next to my writing desk - at the ready whenever I need to check out a flutter of wings in a tree outside my window. I've also been know to drop everything in the middle of a conversation, dash to the bookshelf for a bird book, and flip through pages trying to correctly identify which bird just flew past. Yeah, I know. A Certifiable Nutcase. A Bird Nerd.

I've identified most of the common birds and seasonal visitors we have around our place, and my newest favorite hobby is to identify them by sound. Some are a bit secretive and hard to spot, but have an easily recognizable song or call (like the Swainson's thrush which I wrote about here.)

So for the last few weeks, I'd been mystified by a weird nasal noise that I could not identify. It sounded like it came from high in the treetops, and I heard it early in the morning, and again at dusk. I expected some kind of fledgling crying for its mother, but I couldn't find it. I grabbed my binoculars and noticed birds flapping and darting over the big valley across from us (which used to be timber until they logged last year.) They were dark birds, smaller than a hawk, bigger than a swallow, bigger than bats, but what?

I spread five different bird books out and madly roamed the pages, flipping between swifts and flycatchers, and nightjars and nighthawks. Taking the binocs back down to the road, I caught a flash of white on the undersides of the wings. Yes! I pumped my fist. I've got it now! Common Nighthawks!

These birds nest on the ground, and when not in flight, pretty much camouflage themselves and are nothing to look at. Oh, but to see them dart and swoop, they are quite eloquent in flight, and they eat up to 300 mosquitoes a day. They are here in our north country for just the summer, and will leave soon for the southern hemispheres. Here's a site that tell more about them:

I am so thrilled to identify another bird. I will watch for them next Spring, when they return to raise their babies.

As writers, we need to keen in on the small details in life, whether it be nature, or people's gestures or facial expressions, or even the detail of buildings or a city street. Writers pay attention to details. But everyone should, don't you think? It makes life so much more interesting.

Have you noticed anything lately that you never knew before? Some sudden discovery that made you excited about life? Please share.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Winners Announced!

Thanks to everyone who entered my giant Book Giveaway!

So, without further ado, here *drum roll please* are the winners:

Grand Prize winner of 1st choice of two books: Beth.

Winners 2-5 in order, are: Hilary, Lisa, Amy, and Carol.

Please contact me: linda (at) lindabenson (dot) net so we can decide which books you'll receive, and where you'd like them shipped.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Birthday - Let's Celebrate!

Today my blog is one year old!

Yay! Let's Celebrate! Let's Give Away Books!

In fact - let's give away six books! And let's have five different winners.

And since we established in my last post that people have all kinds of different reading tastes - here's how it will work. Six books are available (descriptions and pictures follow.) One grand prize winner will get their choice of two books. I'll pick winners 2-5, and each one (in order, will get their choice of the remaining books.)

And it's super easy to enter, just leave a comment at the end:

Here, then, are the books:

FAITHFUL, by Janet Fox, Penguin Group, 2010

This yummy historical novel follows sixteen year old Maggie, raised in luxury on the East Coast, as she begins a new life in the beauty of Yellowstone Park.

PIECES OF SKY, by Kaki Warner, Berkley Publishing, 2010

A sweeping historical romance set in New Mexico Territory and England, featuring a hero and heroine you won't soon forget.

STORY OF A GIRL, by Sara Zarr, Little, Brown, and Company, 2007

National Book Award Finalist, this wonderful YA novel tells the story of a girl and her struggle to escape from one mistake in her past.

GOING, GONE, by Laura Crum, Perseverance Press, 2010

A Gail McCarthy Mystery, with great horse details and California scenery.

FINDING CHANCE, by Linda Benson, Mondo Publishing, 2007

My first novel. Alice's mother keeps moving her around. Will she ever find a place to call home?

THE HORSE JAR, by Linda Benson, Mondo Publishing, 2009

My second novel. Annie dreams and schemes for a horse of her own. Just when she finds her "most perfect horse" - tragedy strikes.

Okay, here are the details. To enter, just leave a comment about your favorite place to read. On the beach? Under the covers? Let us know.

For extra points:

Followers of this blog, and any new followers, will all get an extra entry.

Spread the word: Retweet this contest, repost on facebook, or repost on your blog for two more points. Let me know where.

Contest is open until midnight, Pacific Time, August 22, 2010. Books shipped to U.S. addresses only. Winners will be chosen and notified in random drawing. First four book are almost new, gently read copies - last two are new copies.

Ooh, which books do you want to win??

And in the interest of history, click here to read my post from one year ago, that started this blog.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Different Strokes for Different Folks

Sometimes I read book upon book that I love, and sometimes I can't find anything I like! Recently I've been struggling to finish a couple of well-received, high-concept YA books that I'd heard about, with fascinating plotting techniques. One of them I decided not to read, and I just dragged myself through the other one, skimming over the last third to get to the end.

And I realized what different tastes we all have in books that we like and love. And isn't that grand?

For me, I love books about animals, adventure, places and times I've never been. I like to get swept up in grand dramas, follow the hero or heroine through jungles or deserts or up onto mountaintops, feel their pain through growing up, or losing a loved one, or any number of different scenarios that take me somewhere I've never been. I love to lose myself in a book.

What I don't really like (I've recently discovered) is revisiting the cliquey days of high school, complete with sex, drugs, alcohol, and perhaps even suicide. Huh-uh. Doesn't get it for me.

In high school, I was the ultra-smart, late-blooming, shy girl, who never ran with the popular crowd because I rode the bus almost one whole hour to the very last stop on the route. Ah, but there I had everything I wanted. Horses. Cats. Dogs. Chickens. Hiking to friend's houses. Country life, which I truly believe kept me grounded in reality and away from a lot of the petty drama of the "town" kids, with not much to do. High school dramas did not interest me much then, and apparently they still don't.

Ah, but for those of us that are writers, isn't it wonderful that tastes are all so different? Books and movies, and tastes in literature, are so subjective, that we need to take comfort in the fact that some people will like our writing, and some people won't. And vive la difference!

What kind of books do you like to read? Anything you don't care for? What are your favorites?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Making Time to Write

In our busy day to day lives, it's really hard to carve out time to write. I'm trying hard to keep my eye on what I really want - to finish this set of revisions and get my newest manuscript back to my agent.

But there are so many distractions. Here is what's nagging at me at this particular moment:

Beds to make
Loads of laundry to put in washer (one started)
Figure out dinner tonight and see if we have all the fixings (done, I think)
Blog posts to write (for two blogs, done, and working on it)
Checking e-mail, facebook, twitter for new links, responses, and comments. (constant)
Run to front yard to grab baby bird from clutches of my cat (bad cat)
Cut back overgrown shrubs in back garden.
Fertilize all potted and hanging plants.
Clean barn.
See what cool things they have at garage sale around the corner (done :-))
Checking the time to see how many hours until the great race horse Zenyatta runs tonight (6:15 Pacific Time -Yay!)

I'll quit right there, so I don't drive myself nuts with my things-to-do list.
So, sometimes I just have to pick a time - hopefully in the morning, when my brain is fresh, and stop everything else around me. Forget about the housework, the cooking, the yard work, the social media, because that will still be there when I'm done.

Right now, for me, I have opened my manuscript, and I'm going to WRITE.
Everyone - SHHH!

Do you struggle with multi-tasking, too? Do you have a hard time carving out time to write? How do you shut off your brain?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Bachelorette

Okay, I admit it. I stayed up last night and watched Ali choose Roberto on The Bachelorette finale. I'm such a sucker for this kind of thing. Do I really believe they have a chance of making it? Well, the odds are rather slim for this show.

In the first place, even though some of us might have this dream of finding our Prince Charming or our Princess on a show of this type - in reality, it must be awful to have your every word and move on camera. I mean, how can a person really open up to someone and be themselves with the presence of a camera crew in the same room?

Roberto puts a ring on Ali's finger. I kept waiting for her to learn to say "Roberto" with an actual Hispanic pronunciation, and it plain bothered me that she didn't.

So what actually happens is the show favors people who do well in the limelight. People who can actually speak (or act) with the thought of millions of viewers watching. And the sad part is that lots of possibly good contestants, or matches, with a lot to offer might be let go early, before anyone really got to know them, because they were a bit shy, awkward on camera, or just slower to open up and show their feelings for someone they just met.

So the show ends up catering to limelight huggers (not to mention a few insincere cads) and when two of those kind of people decide to fall in love it's often a mismatch made in television land.

Still, I have to admit *gasp* that I've watched almost every single show (of both the Bachelor and the Bachelorette) from the very beginning. Hey - I was raised on Walt Disney. I'm a sucker for Cinderella stories and happy endings. So there.

Do you watch this drippy show? Who was your favorite couple? And what chances do you give Ali and Roberto?