Thursday, December 30, 2010

Resolution Time

Here comes another new year. I usually don’t make New Year's Eve resolutions. Instead, I try to fix as I go. However, for the last few months, I’ve been too involved in revising a first draft of a novel. I have neglected any and all necessary changes (a.k.a resolutions). So, this New Year's Eve, I’m going to break away from my own tradition and set forth a few resolutions for 2011. Here they are (and no, they have nothing to do with diet or exercise):

To begin with, I'm going to clean up my email boxes. Ugh, this is what I call “a project,” meaning a time consuming pain in my tail. Am I the only one who keeps an email in the box until the event or whatever the email is about has been completed or resolved? For the last few months, I haven’t deleted anything. And I have four email addresses. Imagine the fun.

Next, I really must pay more attention to my Facebook pages (one for me and one for each of my novels). I’ll admit it: I've been focusing on Twitter and neglecting Facebook. I need to get back in the Facebook game.

Also, I resolve to finish the novel in progress. I’m not sure completing this project counts as a true resolution since this has always been my plan, but listing this goal inspires me. After all the chaos of the holiday season, I’ll take all the inspiration I can get.

I will read more wonderful books, too. Once again, because I’ve been all about the work in progress, the height of my To Be Read pile is starting to rival the Empire State Building. I really miss snuggling up with a great book. This resolution should be easy to keep.

Okay, I think that’s about it for me. How about you? Do you make new years resolutions? Care to share one or two?

Happy, happy new year to you all!

Cheers to 2011!

Let’s make it a great year!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Holiday Quotes

The holiday chaos in the Willis household is shifting into a high gear. So, today I will leave you with a few wonderful holiday quotes before I disappear for a few days. Enjoy!

“Summer fading, winter comes—

Frosty mornings, tingling thumbs,

Window robins, winter rooks,

And the picture story-books.”

~ Robert Louis Stevenson

“I heard the bells on Christmas Day,

Their old, familiar carols play,

And wild and sweet

The words repeat

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”


“I will honor Christmas in my heart, 
and try to keep it all the year.”

~Charles Dickens

From Home to home, and heart to heart, from one place to another. The warmth and joy of Christmas, brings us closer to each other. 

~ Emily Matthews

I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and

to all a good-night!"

~ Clement Clarke Moore

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas! Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, I hope your day is merry and bright.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Few Favorite Things

Raise your hand if you’ve been hearing festive holiday music everywhere. I crawled out of my car the other day to the tune of “My Favorite Things” wafting through the parking lot. Yes, the parking lot. Kind of cool. You know this Rodgers and Hammerstein song, right?

“Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens

Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens

Brown paper packages tied up with strings

These are a few of my favorite things

Cream colored ponies and crisp apple streudels

Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles

Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings

These are a few of my favorite things

Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes

Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes

Silver white winters that melt into springs

These are a few of my favorite things

When the dog bites

When the bee stings

When I'm feeling sad

I simply remember my favorite things

And then I don't feel so bad”

This song always inspires me to consider a few of my favorite things. And yes, I adore whiskers on kittens and cream-colored ponies (any ponies, really), but here are a few more things that lift my mood when, say, a bee stings:

Books (I know, what a shocker). Some of my treasured holiday reads include The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore and A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. A Christmas Carol might be my most favorite holiday story EVER. I’m a little embarrassed to share that I read this story almost every year. I should have it memorized by now.

Christmas cookies. Here is one of my favorite recipes--Russian Teacakes (cookies, really):

1 cup butter (or margarine) softened

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup finely chopped nuts

1/4 teaspoon salt

powdered sugar (to coat cookies)

caramel cubes cut into quarters

Heat oven to 400 degrees

Mix the butter, the 1/2 cup of powdered sugar and the vanilla. Stir in the flour, the nuts and the salt until the dough holds together. Roll dough around each piece of caramel to form a small ball. Place these balls about 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake them for 10-12 minutes, or until set and a very light golden, but not brown.

Roll each cookie in powdered sugar while still warm. Let them cool. For those with a sweet tooth, roll cookies a second time in powdered sugar.

Seeing DOG GONE and BUCK FEVER out in the world. Spotting my books here, there, and everywhere still rocks my world. Here’s DOG GONE at a book fair in Virginia.

Writing I’m pretty sure that writing books is the greatest job in the world, at least for me.

Last but not least: family, friends, all creatures great and small (except, maybe, bedbugs and spiders), and chai lattes also belong on this list of my favorites.

What about you? What are some of your favorite things?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Reminiscing, a Contest, AND an Event

Deer season is here again. Where I live, trucks are parked in the middle of fields and pushed up along the sides of roads. I’ve passed more than one person pulling on a florescent orange vest over a camouflage jacket. This takes me back to when I was immersed in research--interviewing hunters, expanding my knowledge of deer, and deepening my understanding of all the issues that surround hunting and deer hunting in particular.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year since BUCK FEVER came out into the world. A year full of wonderful interviews, school visits, and bookstore events. In the interviews as well as at the functions, I’m often asked the same question: How did you come up with the idea for BUCK FEVER? I love this question. It gives me the opportunity to talk about how the many different viewpoints about deer hunting inspired the premise of the story. Because I found all of these perspectives fascinating, the story was born. So, happy belated birthday, BUCK FEVER.

Speaking of happy, I am thrilled to share that there is a contest going on at If you or someone you know would you like to win a signed copy of DOG GONE or BUCK FEVER, head on over to Linda Benson’s blog.

Also, authors (including me) from the KidLit Authors Club will be in the Exton, Pennsylvania Borders Express this coming Sunday, December 12th, from 1 pm until 3pm. Come on by! We'd love to see you!

Good luck, happy reading to all, and to all a good night!

Monday, December 6, 2010

An Elf or Two

Raise your hand if you’ve written your letter to Santa. You know, that letter requesting what you might like from the big guy and his elves at this time of year. Since I don’t believe there is an age limit on these requests, I thought I’d share the first draft of my letter:

Dear Santa,

I hope you are well. I’d love to tell you that I’ve been very good this year, but that would be a lie. Okay, I have been pretty awesome in terms of working hard-- on the new novel as well as promoting Dog Gone and Buck Fever. But as you probably know from those spying elves that work for you, my language during the blood, sweat, and tears of the first draft has been, well, somewhat creative and flamboyant at times behind the closed door of my office. Sorry, but writing can be frustrating. And yes, I did almost throw my laptop out a window a few times. But I didn’t, so that should count for something, right?

Anyway, unless you’ve already decided that I am getting coal in my stocking, I’d like to put in a request for something I could really use this year. If it’s not too much trouble, I’d love to borrow one of your elves until the new year. What better gift than to have someone to assist with the holiday shopping, errands, decorating, gift-wrapping, holiday cards, cookie baking, etc. (phew, I’m worn out just listing the things to do). If I had a helper, I’d get more revising done in addition to more reading, blogging, tweeting, and promoting. I might even finish my work-in-progress with less fluorescent language and without Frisbee-throwing my laptop. A finished manuscript under the tree would be awesome!

I’ll leave cookies (store-bought since I’m short on time these days) on the table in case an elf or two arrives while I’m writing at my favorite cafĂ©.

Thanks, Santa. You’re the best! Even if you can’t spare an elf.

Very truly yours,

Cynthia Chapman Willis

I’m guessing that I’m not the only one who could use an elf or two at this time of year.