Monday, June 14, 2010

Diary of an Eccentric Has Moved! Please Update Your Feed Readers/Subscriptions!

After a frustrating weekend of login and weird redirect issues in Blogger, I decided to finally take the plunge and move to Wordpress.

Check out the "new" Diary of an Eccentric!

You should be automatically redirected, but if not, just click the link.

I hope you will update your feed readers and subscriptions!  I'd hate to lose contact with all my loyal readers from the past three years. **I think the move should be seamless since I updated my Feedburner feed, but since I'm not very tech savvy, I can't be sure it worked.**

It seems as though all the posts and comments have been transferred, except for the few comments I received between the time I completed the import and the time I post this.

Please excuse the dust on the new blog, as it'll take me a bit to get things where I want them.

Review: Heart of Lies by M.L. Malcolm

Within seconds the laws of physics ruthlessly eviscerated the expectations of humanity. The first floor of Sincere's was obliterated. One side of Wing On collapsed.  A thousand people died instantly, or bled quickly to death.  The hysterical survivors, insane with fear, screamed and stampeded through the forest of broken glass and dismembered bodies.  Outside the corpse of the traffic policeman dangled from the electric wires overhead, like a gruesome marionette, directing the dance of death beneath him.  A broken water main sent a bloody waterfall cascading into the street.  (from Heart of Lies, page 222 in the ARC)

In Heart of Lies, inspired by her husband's family, M.L. Malcolm spins a morality tale of sorts centered on Leo Hoffman, a Hungarian whose ear for languages and desire to become a success in the aftermath of World War I cause him to get tangled in a web of crime.  By agreeing to go on an errand for the chief of police of Budapest, Leo unintentionally gets involved in an international counterfeiting scheme that leaves one man dead and forces him to flee to Shanghai, where it is said that people in trouble can start again.  He has to leave so quickly that he can't say goodbye to Martha, the young German woman he'd just met and with whom he immediately fell in love.

With the help of a stolen necklace, Leo becomes a very wealthy man, and soon he is able to send for Martha.  The two rub elbows with the most important people in Shanghai, yet they have eyes only for each other.  But Leo's newfound wealth is tied to some shady people, and his past threatens to ruin the seemingly wonderful life he has built.  The Japanese invasion of Shanghai and Hitler's increasing power in Europe leave Leo and Martha wondering where to turn when everything comes crashing down.

Heart of Lies is an exciting novel that takes readers on an adventure to Hungary, Paris, Shanghai, and New York from the post-World War I period to the early days of World War II.  I enjoyed Malcolm's writing style and found the book hard to put down.  Although the criminal aspect early on wasn't very developed, the story picked up when Leo began to amass his fortune in Shanghai.  Leo is far from saintly, but I empathized with him as he struggled to do what was best for his family and keep himself alive at the same time.  Martha seemed a bit flighty and I felt that her character could have been fleshed out a bit more, but her unconditional love for Leo was touching.

Even though I really enjoyed Heart of Lies, there were a couple of things that didn't work for me.  The point of view would shift for a couple of paragraphs, then shift back, with the thoughts of a character not in the scene suddenly interjected before focusing once again on the character who is the subject of the scene.  Also, there were a few scenes that weren't necessary, particularly the section told from Martha's point of view after Leo leaves for Shanghai without warning.  Since the book mostly is about Leo and doesn't focus as closely on Martha anywhere else in the book, these scenes seemed out of place and the events that transpire within them could have been inserted elsewhere.

Nevertheless, Malcolm does an admirable job of both telling Leo's story and setting it in the midst of war and the struggle to survive on all fronts.  Heart of Lies is a captivating novel about a man who can't seem to outrun his past mistakes, and readers will find themselves shaking their heads at Leo's predicaments and feeling his pain.  The interview with Malcolm at the back of the book suggests that a sequel is in the works, and while I don't believe one is necessary, it would be interesting to see what comes next for these characters.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for allowing me to participate in the Heart of Lies tour.  To check out the rest of the tour dates, click here.

Disclosure: I received a copy of Heart of Lies from HarperCollins for review purposes.  I am an Amazon affiliate.

© 2010, Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not copy or reproduce content without permission.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Interview: Stuart Lutz, Author of The Last Leaf

Today, I'm pleased to welcome Stuart Lutz to Diary of an Eccentric.  Lutz is the author of The Last Leaf (click here to read my review), a collection of interviews of the last eyewitnesses to some of history's most important events.  I want to thank him for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions about the book and his future projects.

What inspired you to interview the last survivors and/or witnesses to historical events?

When I was a boy, my older relatives would come and tell me the great stories about their lives.  One cousin was in the Flying Tigers during World War II, and he told me about how his plane was shot down over China.  His parachute tangled in a tree and he spent two weeks up there, surviving on rainwater, until the Chinese underground cut him down.  Similarly, my great-grandparents, married for 77 years, would visit and tell me about growing up in Russia before 1900, coming to America, seeing a plane for the first time, and all these other great stories about their encounters with modernity, and what we take today to be mundane.  So I always had an interest in oral history.  As I got older, I would read newspaper articles that someone who was the final survivor of an event was still alive, and it often shocked me.  For example, I was surprised to see in 2000 that there was still an escapee from the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911.  The last Bolshevik died in 1991, just as the Soviet Union was disintegrating.  I thought a book that collected all these final stories would be an interesting concept, and one that had never been done before.

What do you hope readers will take from The Last Leaf?

Two things, one macro and one micro.  The macro is that even though we think of long-ago events as "history," they are frequently still in the memories of participants and survivors decades after the event.  There are numerous examples of this in The Last Leaf.  For example, Bob Halgrim worked with Thomas Edison (who died in 1931), whom Life magazine voted as the most influential man of the past 1,000 years.  Until Mr. Halgrim's death in 2005, he could tell me what it was like to work for the greatest inventor ever, and he remembered seeing a film with the inventor of the movie projector (what an awesome life experience!).  Another example is a man who just died last month, Lt. John Finn.  He was the final Medal of Honor recipient for heroic actions on Pearl Harbor Day.  Until his passing, he could tell someone what it was like to fight on Pearl Harbor Day and be wounded twenty times by shrapnel.  To sum up the macro, I often think of the famous William Faulkner quote, "The past isn't dead; in fact, it's not even past."

On the micro level, we all have stories to tell, and I think the best of them are worth writing down for your future generations to read.  My grandmother, who was a wonderful author, wrote down her memories of escaping Russia after the Revolution (including saying farewell forever to her dear grandparents, knowing she would never see them again once she left for America) and being carried through the streets on New York City by her father, whom she had never met.  I try to re-read her book once a year.  I keep a journal, and many years from now, my descendents can read about how I stayed up until 3AM on the night of the contested Bush-Gore election (and I wrote in my journal throughout the night) and my immediate reactions to September 11th after I went out and watched the attack from the Jersey City heights.

How did you choose whom to interview?  Did you encounter any resistance to being interviewed or discussing the past?

The hard part was not choosing people to interview, but finding them in the first place.  They had to be the final (or one of the final) survivors of, or last eyewitnesses to, historically important events.  Some of the well-known people and events in the book include the Scopes Monkey Trial, Harry Houdini, Babe Ruth, and the Iwo Jima flag raising.  I also wanted to find events and people that were unfairly lost in the greater American historical consciousness and put them in the book so readers could learn about some of our more neglected history.  Thus, The Last Leaf has stories of Philo Farnsworth (the long-forgotten inventor of television) and the 1904 General Slocum fire (the worst blaze in New York City history prior to September 11th, 2001).

I did not encounter any resistance to discussing the past.  After all, if the "Last Leaf" did not want to be interviewed about history, I would not have been invited over in the first place.  I did find a few people, especially among the World War II crowd, that did not tell their families of their personal history for many years afterwards.  One example was Frank Holmgren, the final sailor of the USS Juneau, the Navy ship that held the five doomed Sullivan Brothers.  There were 725 men on the ship, and only ten were pulled out of the water.  After World War II, he did not mention the sinking to his wife and children until 1987, when he was invited to Juneau, Alaska, to dedicate a monument to the ship.  Once his story was out, however, he was willing to share it with me and other historians.  He was one of the kindest and most gracious people I met when doing interviews.

What was your most memorable interview?

I interviewed thirty of the thirty-nine Last Leaves in person, and the sum experience was one of the most unusual and awesome experiences of my life.  Some of the most memorable experiences include watching Robert Lockwood, Jr., the last bluesman to play with the legendary Robert Johnson, give a concert at a Cleveland blues club; seeing Hal Prieste, the final participant in the 1920 Olympic Games, with the original Olympic flag that he stole in 1920 (he gave it back to the Olympics at the 2000 Games in Sydney); listening to Slim Bryant, the last musician to play with country legend Jimmie Rodgers, play guitar for me; getting a guided tour of the ENIAC (the first electronic computer) from Dr. Arthur Burks, the final living designer; and visiting Frank Buckles, America's last World War I soldier. 

With that said, if I picked one experience that really, really stayed with me, it would be Gertrude Grubb Janeway, the last Union Civil War widow who died in 2003. Even though her husband fought for the North, she was completely Southern, living near Knoxville, Tennessee. Until her death, she received a $70 monthly check from the Federal government for her husband's service one hundred forty years previous. To summarize her story, she was a teenager when she married an octogenarian Civil War veteran, John Janeway in 1927. They were married for a decade; she never remarried, since Mr. Janeway was the true love of her life. But this is what I found to be so interesting and unique. She flatly rejected all modernity, and essentially lived a 19th Century existence, even into the 21st Century. She lived in a small cabin that she and her husband bought in the 1920s. She did not get electricity until the 1980s, and she finally acquired a television in the 1990s. She never drove, instead, she walked eight miles each way to church on Sunday morning. She never traveled. I found her choice of a fading American, and specifically Southern, way of life to be memorable. I'll never see that again.

How did you locate the Last Leaves, and how did you go about confirming that they indeed were the last survivor or the last witness to an event?

There were a few methods I used to locate the Last Leaves.  For example, McKinley Wooden was the final soldier from Battery D, which was led by Captain Harry S Truman during World War I.  I had wondered if there were any soldiers left from Battery D, so I called the Truman Library in Kansas, and they gave me Mr. Wooden's name and the town he lived in.  I dropped him a note and secured an interview.  I have also used government resources, so the V.A. confirmed who were the last Union widow (the Confederate widows never got Federal pensions) and the final American World War I soldier.  Historical societies have also been a great help.  When I wanted to find out if there were any survivors of the 1904 General Slocum fire, I typed it into Google, and was pleasantly surprised to find there was a historical society dedicated to the General Slocum.  I dropped the president an email about my project, and he told me there were two survivors left; one of them lived twenty minutes away, so I arranged with Mrs. Wotherspoon to have an interview.  Likewise, Bryan College in Tennessee does annual recreations of the Scopes Monkey Trial, so I called the head of the event, and he told me that there was still one participant left who lived in Chattanooga.  This man was the honored guest at the yearly gathering. 

What do you do when you're not gathering stories from the Last Leaves or writing?

I care for my sixteen month old son three days a week, and I own a firm that buys, sells, authenticates and appraises historic documents, letters and manuscripts.

What projects are you working on now?

I have to paint my garage before the end of the month, or else I will get a fine from the town.  That's my most pressing project right now.

I have started interviews for The Last Leaf, Volume II.  Next week, I am meeting with a 104 year old man who is the last living person to have worked on Wall Street on the day of the 1929 Crash that led to the Great Depression.  I have a list of about six or eight final survivors of other important events that I would love to interview.  I would also like to do a book on the aftermath of the Vietnam War here in America.

Thanks, Stuart!  I wish you much success with The Last Leaf, and I'm looking forward to reading the next installment.

I have one copy of The Last Leaf to offer to my readers.  If you'd like to be entered, please leave a comment telling me what intrigues you most about the book.  Please include your e-mail address.

This giveaway is open to readers with U.S. and Canada addresses and will end on Sunday, June 20 at 11:59 pm EST.  The winner will be chosen randomly.

Disclosure: I am an Amazon affiliate.

© 2010, Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not copy or reproduce content without permission.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Review: The Last Leaf by Stuart Lutz

When a significant event occurs, many people are often privy to it, and we read accounts in the newspaper the next day -- 'Journalism is the first draft of history.'  Death's scythe slowly removes the eyewitnesses and participants until there is but one left.  The Last Leaf.  When that final person passes away, no one can challenge our thinking about that particular occurrence.  No witness can give a new perspective to old events or recount anecdotes no one else knows.  Once this Last Leaf dies, the story enters a new realm, one occupied by academic historians fighting over the meanings of the event and ignoring the larger and often more interesting narrative.  (from The Last Leaf, page 24)

Although unintentional, it's fitting that I'm posting a review for a book about the last survivors of some major historical events on my grandmother's 92 birthday.  My gram has a lot of interesting stories to tell.  She lived through the Great Depression, ended her education in the 6th grade to care for her numerous siblings, lost a brother in World War II, and watched her only child leave home to fight in the Vietnam War.  She has outlived her son and all but one of her siblings, but she's twice experienced the joy of becoming a great-grandmother.

I've always been interested in hearing the stories of people who've lived long lives and witnessed many things.  I took two gerontology courses as part of my degree in sociology, and I spent my weekends in high school and college working as a waitress in a retirement home, where I was well liked simply because I listened.  Unlike many of my co-workers who listened only to be polite, I listened because I truly was interested and loved it when they would share old photos with me.  I was devastated when I'd come to work and learn that I had one less place setting to put out.

In The Last Leaf: Voices of History's Last-Known Survivors, Stuart Lutz captures the stories of more than three dozen individuals through extensive interviews.  The book is divided into four parts:  Witnesses to Great History, Survivors, Witnesses to Technological Innovation, and Athletes and Entertainers.  Lutz provides his observations and adds historical information where appropriate, but mostly he lets these "Last Leaves" tell their stories in their own words.  There are photos of each of the Last Leaves, both from the past and at the time of the interview, as well as pictures of important documents and memorabilia.  Unfortunately, most of the Last Leaves passed away during the more than 10 years it took Lutz to complete the book, and this information is included at the end of each profile.

The Last Leaf is a fascinating book, and I applaud Lutz for taking the time to interview these individuals and create a permanent record of their experiences before it was too late.  While I found the entire book interesting, the Witnesses to Great History and the Survivors sections were the most captivating.  A few interviews stood out from the rest:  the stories of the last Civil War widows, women who when they were barely out of their teens married elderly Civil War veterans decades after the conflict; Esther Raab, who survived the escape from the Nazi death camp Sobibor with the help of a message her late mother gave to her in a dream; Adella Wotherspoon, who was only 6 months old when she went for a ride on the General Slocum, an excursion ship that caught fire in New York City's East River in 1904; and Budd Schulberg, who in 1939 worked on a screenplay with F. Scott Fitzgerald, who during his lifetime could not replicate the success of The Great Gatsby.

The one interview that really made understand the importance of the Last Leaves' stories was that of Charles Lindberg, the last man to raise the American Flag on Iwo Jima in 1945.  Lindberg was one of the original flag raisers, but most people don't realize that the famous photo of the Iwo Jima flag raising that was used to create the monument depicts a second flag raising that occurred just hours after the first.
"'Corporal [Chandler] Johnson was worried about our flag that was up there on Suribachi,' he explains.  'He didn't want someone to steal it for a souvenir.  After all, it was the first American flag to fly over Japanese home territory in World War II, and he wanted to preserve it.  So he ordered another flag up.'  (pages 173-174)
The Last Leaf preserves the true stories of people who witnessed well-known historical events or worked with some of history's most influential figures.  Not only does Lutz provide an important contribution to the historical record, but he also teaches us an important lesson -- one that he learned during the course of the interviews.  Most of the Last Leaves were in their 90s or over 100, and some of them continued to lead active lives and even used e-mail.  It just goes to show that people can live full, productive lives at any age and that younger generations have a lot to learn from those who came before them.

Disclosure: I received a copy of The Last Leaf from publicist Diane Saarinen for review purposes.  I am an Amazon affiliate.

© 2010, Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not copy or reproduce content without permission.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

And the Winners Are...

Congratulations to the winners of my most recent giveaways:

JHS. and Nancye are the winners of Rumor Has It by Jill Mansell.

Donna, Bons, and edmontonjb are the winners of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman.

Happy reading!

© 2010, Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not copy or reproduce content without permission.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Review: Skinny Is Overrated by Danielle Milano, MD

The point is to forget about the BMI chart.  Don't worry about what the Department of Health wants you to weigh.  There are more important questions:  Can you walk up and down a flight of stairs?  If there were a fire in your building, how many firemen would it take to carry you out?  If it would take more than one fireman to save you (all right, two at the most), it's time to take action!  Let's get motivated and do something about it! (from Skinny Is Overrated, page 9)

In Skinny Is Overrated: The Real Woman's Guide to Health and Happiness at Any Size, Danielle Milano, MD, says it's more important to focus on becoming healthier, not reaching an "ideal" weight as spelled out in a chart.  She offers some tips to get motivated, and while focusing on a goddess is not my cup of tea, it might work for someone else.  More useful tips include setting goals, getting on a schedule, and exercising.

Milano writes in a conversational tone, like you were having an informal chat with a friend who cares about you, isn't afraid to tell it like it is, and just happens to be a doctor.  She brings in stories from years of working with patients struggling with both obesity and diabetes, and even if you don't fit into either category, the book offers some valuable information -- and there's a lot of it, despite having only 243 pages.

Among other things, Milano breaks down the different kinds of exercise (aerobic and resistance), but the most helpful chapters for me where those that explain what kinds of foods we should eat , what kinds of foods we should avoid, and why.  Much of the information is well known (for instance, how soda and high fructose corn syrup are bad for you), but the lists of do's and don'ts really opened my eyes.  By explaining exactly why trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, and fast food are bad for you, Milano makes it easier to start on the path toward improved health and weight loss.  When I read parts of this book aloud to my husband, he shook his head and asked only half jokingly, "We're not allowed to eat anything, are we?"  But Milano provides lists of replacements for the junk food and even several healthy recipes (which I haven't yet tried but don't sound half-bad).

I don't usually read books like Skinny Is Overrated, but I've struggled with weight issues for years and have been looking for a plan that doesn't involve a diet that won't work for the long term.  Milano doesn't offer a diet plan but a plan for a healthier lifestyle that involves changing how we think about eating and learning to accept our bodies even if skinny isn't healthy for us.  Milano's advice makes sense, and I appreciate that she provides detailed descriptions about the nutrients our bodies need and why junk food doesn't cut it.  The kinds of changes Milano encourages readers to make aren't made overnight, so I can definitely see myself turning to the recipes and food recommendations down the road.  The most important thing readers should take from Skinny Is Overrated is that one's goals for exercising and weight loss should be reasonable and eating a balanced, healthy meal doesn't mean starving yourself or spending a lot of money or time in the kitchen.

Disclosure: I received a copy of Skinny Is Overrated from Phenix & Phenix for review purposes.  I am an Amazon affiliate.

© 2010, Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not copy or reproduce content without permission.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Mailbox Monday -- June 7 (The BEA Edition)

Welcome to my first Mailbox Monday post in over a month, as I took a break from organizing my books after my sister-in-law passed away and then I was busy preparing for the NYC trip.  Mailbox Monday is the weekly meme hosted by Marcia from The Printed Page, where book lovers share the titles they received for review, purchased, or otherwise obtained over the past week.

I'm sure you're all wondering which books I took home from BEA.  I had a great time wandering the aisles and checking out all the new books, but I didn't take too many home with me, partly because I didn't want to pay to ship a lot of books and also because there's no shortage of reading material in my home.  Here's what I got:

The Year of Goodbyes by Debbie Levy (signed)
Draw the Dark by Ilsa J. Bick
The Kulak's Daughter by Gabriele Goldstone (signed)
Ghost Hunt: Chilling Tales of the Unknown by Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson (bound sample chapters, signed)
Annexed by Sharon Doger
The One That I Want by Allison Winn Scotch (signed)
The Forgotten Highlander: My Unbelievable True Story of Survival by Alistair Urquhart
Sourland by Joyce Carol Oates
Sense and Sensibility (Marvel comic, Issue 1) by Nancy Butler and Sonny Liew (signed)

I also brought home a few books for Jerry:

Farscape comic (signed)
Pariah by Bob Fingerman (signed; I finished this one already and will be posting a review soon!)
Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry (signed)
I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore (Wendy grabbed an ARC for The Girl, but due to some adult language, we decided to let Jerry read it first)
The Enemy by Charlie Higson (signed)

And The Girl's BEA stack:

from the Scholastic tour:

The Best Teen Writing of 2009 edited by Virginia Lee Pfaehler
11 Birthdays by Wendy Mass
This Totally Bites! by Ruth Ames
The 39 Clues: The Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan
The 39 Clues: One False Note by Gordon Korman
The 39 Clues: The Sword Thief by Peter Lerangis
The 39 Clues: Beyond the Grave by Jude Watson
The 39 Clues: The Black Circle by Patrick Carman
The 39 Clues: In Too Deep by Jude Watson
The 39 Clues: The Viper's Nest by Peter Lerangis

from BEA:

Arteo by Kaitlyn and Sandy Brannin (signed)
I, Emma Freke by Elizabeth Atkinson
Ripley's Bureau of Investigation: Secrets of the Deep
Goop Soup by David Lubar (signed)
Horrid Henry and the Abominable Snowman by Francesca Simon and Tony Ross
Ghost Hunt: Chilling Tales of the Unknown by Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson (bound sample chapters, signed)
Fear: 13 Stories of Suspense and Horror edited by R.L. Stine (signed)
The Zombie Chasers by John Kloepfer (signed)
Big Nate: In a Class by Himself by Lincoln Peirce (signed)
Big Nate Strikes Again by Lincoln Peirce (preview chapters)
Reckless by Cornelia Funke

Books I received over the last month but didn't have a chance to post (some of these are not in the picture):

How to Be an American Housewife by Margaret Dilloway (from Penguin for an upcoming TLC Book Tour)
Therefore Choose by Keith Oatley (from Goose Lane Editions)
SOS! The Six O'Clock Scramble to the Rescue by Aviva Goldfarb (contest win from Savvy Verse & Wit)
Skinny Is Overrated: The Real Woman's Guide to Health and Happiness at Any Size by Danielle Milano, MD (from Phenix & Phenix)
Heart of Lies by M.L. Malcolm (from HarperCollins for an upcoming TLC Book Tour)
Watership Down by Richard Adams (from a co-worker)
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith (contest win from My Life in Not So Many Words)
Poor Little Bitch Girl by Jackie Collins (contest win from Booking Mama, which I gave to my mother)
Darcy's Voyage by Kara Louise (from Sourcebooks)
Darcy's Little Sister by C. Allyn Pierson (from Sourcebooks)
How to Never Look Fat Again: Over 1,00 Ways to Dress Thinner -- Without Dieting! by Charla Krupp (contest win from Metroreader)
Far Bright Star by Robert Olmstead (from Algonquin, unrequested)
War on the Margins by Libby Cone (from the author)
Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok (contest win from Bookfan)
My Rotten Life by David Lubar (recent purchase by The Girl)
NERDS: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society by Michael Buckley (recent purchase by The Girl)
Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives by Josie Brown (given to me by Serena)
The Map of True Places by Brunonia Barry (given to me by Serena)
I Am Ozzy by Ozzy Osbourne and Chris Ayres(given to me by Serena)
Shooting the Moon by Frances O'Roark Dowell (from a friend at The Girl's school)

And books I received this week:

Mr. Darcy's Obsession by Abigail Reynolds (from Sourcebooks)

The Calligrapher's Daughter by Eugenia Kim (from Henry Holt)

The Arabs and the Holocaust by Gilbert Achcar (from Henry Holt)

Phew!  Having to type all that into one post makes me NEVER want to take another hiatus from Mailbox Monday!

What books did you add to your shelves recently?

Disclosure: I am an Amazon affiliate.

© 2010, Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not copy or reproduce content without permission.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Guest Post: Marla Martenson, Author of Diary of a Beverly Hills Matchmaker

While I recover from my recent vacation and work on some book reviews, I'm happy to have Marla Martenson, author of Diary of a Beverly Hills Matchmaker, as a guest on Diary of an Eccentric today.  Please give Marla a warm welcome as she offers some advice to aspiring authors (and stay tuned for information on how to win a copy of her latest book):

As the author of three books I am often asked, “Marla how do you do it? How do you find the time to write?” I wrote all three of my books while still working full time at a matchmaking company, so my writing time was all over the place. Sometimes I would write a chapter on my lunch hour, sometimes I would write after work, which was difficult because I didn’t get home until 7:30 pm and my energy was drained, so I mostly wrote on the weekends. Some people have the idea that to write a book one has to sit down all day everyday writing for months upon months to finish their masterpiece but actually if you make a habit of writing something everyday, even a couple of pages, a few months later, you’ll have an entire book. That is what I did with my second book, Good Date, Bad Date and it felt almost effortless; there was no pressure or deadlines because I was consistently putting something onto the page.

It all comes down to priorities and goals. If your goal is to become a published author, then go for it. Laser in on that goal and take a step in that direction on a consistent basis. I have a small desk in the corner of our living room where I write. I open the door to the balcony and listen to the birds sing, it’s very inspirational.  The times that I do write in the evenings, I like to sit in bed with my laptop; it’s very cozy.

Truman Capote, the author of Breakfast at Tiffany’s and In Cold Blood, claimed to be a “completely horizontal author.” He said he had to write lying down, in bed or on a couch, with a cigarette and coffee. The coffee would switch to tea, then sherry, then martinis, as the day wore on. He wrote his first and second drafts in longhand, in pencil. And even his third draft, done on a typewriter, would be done in bed — with the typewriter balanced on his knees.

Stephen King, in his book On Writing, says that he writes 10 pages a day without fail, even on holidays. That’s a lot of writing each day, and it has led to some incredible results. I have not managed that kind of discipline yet, but maybe one day....

Find what works for you, what is comfortable and what inspires and excites you about the process and the routine, and you are sure to be a success!

Marla Martenson is the best selling author of three books, Excuse Me, Your Soul Mate Is Waiting, Good Date, Bad Date and her latest, Diary of a Beverly Hills Matchmaker. She also works as a professional matchmaker, life coach and motivational speaker. You can find more info on Marla at

Thanks, Marla!  I wish you much success and look forward to reading your work in the future.

Marla would like to offer one of my readers a chance to win a copy of Diary of a Beverly Hills Matchmaker, in which Marla details her oftentimes hilarious dealings with eccentric clients.

To enter, please leave a comment detailing the most bizarre date you've been on.  Marla will be selecting the winner, so if you don't include this information, you will not be entered.  Also, please leave an e-mail address so I can easily contact the winner.

This giveaway is open to readers with U.S. addresses only and will end Friday, June 11 at 11:59 pm EST.

Disclosure: I am an Amazon affiliate.

© 2010, Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not copy or reproduce content without permission.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The BEA Post, or I Need Another Vacation to Recover From This Vacation!

I'm still in post-vacation recovery mode, and I'm not sure I'm coherent enough to recap the trip to NYC for BEA, but I'll do my best.  The Girl and I traveled with Serena, leaving on the morning of Saturday, May 22.  We took the Amtrak out of Washington, D.C., and as you can see by the picture to the left, The Girl was very excited to show Bob the Penguin the cafe car.  (Let's not talk about how many stuffed animals she packed or how she bought 2 monkeys with Velcro hands and feet as souvenirs and how they attached themselves to my pajamas in the middle of the night.)  Once in the city, we dropped our bags off at the Paramount Hotel and walked around the Times Square area while we waited for our room to be ready.

The Girl was in awe, just staring at the bright lights while I was trying to keep hold of her hand in the crowds.  While I loved the years I spent in Boston during college, I think I'm a country girl at heart.  NYC is an interesting place, but it really is too crowded for my tastes.

Anyway, we wandered and saw Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Center, and St. Patrick's Cathedral; visited random stores, like Hershey's, M&M World, and American Girl Place (obviously all chosen by The Girl); ate at Ted's Montana Grill; and even saw SpongeBob.  (There was an assortment of characters on one block assembled for picture-taking purposes, complete with their tip bags.) 

By Sunday morning, my feet already were killing me, but we had another day of sightseeing ahead of us.  We took a water taxi out of South Street Seaport and saw the Brooklyn Bridge, Ground Zero, Ellis Island, and the Statue of Liberty.  But the highlight for The Girl was driving the water taxi!  After a quick lunch of Chinese food, we made our way back to Times Square and visited Madame Tussaud's.

Although The Girl was fascinated by the wax statue of Robert Pattinson, my favorite picture is of her fluffing Ozzy Osbourne's hair.  We entered the darkened hallways of the SCREAM exhibit, which may or may not have been lame...we have no idea, as The Girl dug her fingernails into us and dragged us through there real quick!  The best part of Madame Tussaud's was the SpongeBob 4-D movie, which was a 15-20 minute 3-D movie complete with bubbles, mist, vibrating seats, and the smell of pickles (which made Serena hungry for more pickles from Ted's Montana Grill).

On Monday, we woke up early to see some of Central Park and have a hot dog from a street vendor, then made our way to Scholastic for a tour.  We had a blast meeting up with several other book bloggers and viewing the archives (I forgot how much I loved the Sweet Valley High Saga books).  The Girl even had a chance to meet authors Rick Riordan and Ruth Ames (a.k.a. Aimee Friedman)!

Right after the tour, we hurried to The Strand to meet Amanda, Amy, and Trisha, but we were late and they were pretty much done shopping by the time we arrived.  It was still nice to chat for a few minutes.  We had just enough time to meet the wonderful Lisa Roe for dinner.  The Girl absolutely loved her...and of course, the cheese curds and kringle she brought from Wisconsin.  Thanks again, Lisa!

Although we picked up our BEA badges on Tuesday and attended one panel session on copyrights, much of the day was spent browsing the city.  But on Wednesday morning, the real fun began.  While we didn't run into too many bloggers, we had a chance to chat with Wendy and her husband, Kip, Heather, and Lilly and her daughter.  We were a bit disappointed to have waited in line in the early morning for tickets to the Joyce Carol Oates signing, only to be given an unsigned book and be told that she might not make it at all.  But we didn't let that ruin our day, and we had fun meeting up with publicists we've worked with, such as Paul Samuelson from Sourcebooks and Caitlin Summie from Unbridled Books.  I also had a chance to meet Allison Winn Scotch, which was my must-do for BEA.  The highlight for The Girl was meeting the Ghost Hunters, Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson, who signed bound sample chapters of their new book for kids (more on that in my upcoming Mailbox Monday post).  That evening, we went to the Algonquin Hotel for the Celebration of Book Bloggers held by HarperCollins, where we mingled for about an hour before deciding to go back to the hotel before we fell asleep standing up.

Many of you know how much The Girl loves R.L. Stine, especially his Goosebumps series of books.  Well, Thursday was her favorite day of the trip because she had a chance to chat and have her picture taken with him.  They told us he wasn't personalizing the books, but The Girl was pleasantly surprised when he personalized hers after telling him that she has about 60 of his books on her shelf.

We ended our stay in NYC with dinner at Tony's DiNapoli, where we met up with Amanda, Natalie, and Amy.  It was a great evening that ended much too soon, but The Girl and I had to catch an early train on Friday morning.  Unfortunately, we were unable to attend the Book Blogger Convention, but we had a great time with our family in CT and MA, ending with the wedding of my brother-in-law on Sunday.

I'm sure you're all curious about what books we snagged at BEA, so stay tuned for my upcoming Mailbox Monday post.  (It'll be a big one, since I haven't posted books since my sister-in-law's passing at the end of April.)  Now that my brain is tired, I'm going to fall asleep on the train during my afternoon commute and hope that I can get back into my regular routine soon.

I'm really behind in reading blogs (sorry!), so to those of you who posted BEA recaps, feel free to include the links to your posts in the comments so I won't miss them!  Also, I'd like to thank Serena for providing the photos in this post, as I didn't have a camera with me on the trip.

© 2010, Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not copy or reproduce content without permission.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

We're Back (Plus, Some Giveaway Winners)!

The Girl and I are back from vacation, and despite being exhausted, we're back to work and school today.  After spending six days in New York City, we met Jerry in CT to visit with my family (my 19-month-old nephew is absolutely gorgeous!) and some friends for two days before heading to MA for my brother-in-law's wedding.  We flew home yesterday morning, and I spent the entire day napping and doing laundry.

I hope to be back to blogging tomorrow, but I'm sure it'll take me several days to catch up with you all.  I'm still awaiting the books I shipped from BEA, so you'll see those in my next Mailbox Monday post, and I hope to post all about our trip later this week.  I really enjoyed being unplugged for the entire trip, but you can imagine the avalanche of e-mails that hit me this morning!

In the meantime, I probably should announce the winners of the giveaways that ended right before I went away.

Sandra K321 is the lucky winner of Letter to My Daughter by George Bishop.

Debi and Mystica are the lucky winners of On Folly Beach by Karen White.

I've passed your addresses on to the publicists, so you should receive your books shortly.  Congratulations and happy reading!

Now I'm counting the hours until I can go home and crash on the couch...

© 2010, Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not copy or reproduce content without permission.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Off to BEA!

The Girl and I are leaving for NYC tomorrow morning with Serena to do some touristy things and to attend Book Expo America on May 25-27.  We have a good idea of the things we want to see and do, but we're also playing it by ear so we don't get overwhelmed.  The Girl has never been to a big city on vacation before (she's been to D.C. and Baltimore, of course, but she considers those home), so she's been so excited she's had a hard time sleeping these last few nights.  I'm excited, but I'm also sad that Jerry isn't coming with us.  (However, I'm sure he's glad to have the house to himself so that no one complains when he watches ESPN or the same movies over and over again.)

Preparing for an entire week off from my job takes a lot of time and effort, and I've been really exhausted this week.  So I apologize for not stopping by all of your blogs and for failing to pre-schedule some reviews while I'm gone.  I will be completely unplugged until May 31, so I hope you all don't forget about me!

Since this post will be up during my break, I want to thank any new visitors to Diary of an Eccentric for stopping by.  To get an idea of what I like to read, feel free to browse my book reviews, which you can access from the navigation bar at the top of the page.  The Girl also reviews books here, and you'll find links to those on the same page.  Additionally, check out the Authors page for links to interviews and guest posts and the War Through the Generations page for information on the yearly war-related reading challenges I co-host with Serena.

And to those of you attending BEA who would like to trade contact information, feel free to e-mail me at diaryofaneccentric at hotmail dot com.  I'd love to meet you!

© 2010, Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not copy or reproduce content without permission.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Review: Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman

"...Mark my words, one day all the wicked deeds Violene Hobbs has done will gather together and form a big black boomerang of karma that will spin through the sky and strike her down."  Miz Goodpepper closed her eyes and sighed.  "I only hope I'm around to see it."

I stared at my hands, not knowing how to respond.  I'd never heard of a holy man named after a llama, I'd never heard of a great gaping vagina, and I didn't know a thing about the black boomerang of karma.  All I knew for sure was this:  I had been plunked into a strange, perfumed world that, as far as I could tell, seemed to be run entirely by women.  (from Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, pages 90-91)

After seeing so many rave reviews of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, I was worried my expectations might have been set too high, but I tried to push all that out of my mind when I opened the book and was carried along as 12-year-old Cecelia Rose Honeycutt journeys out of grief into a better life.  Beth Hoffman had me from the first page, and I enjoyed the book so much that I didn't want it to end.

At a young age, CeeCee is forced to care for her mentally ill mother while her father, a traveling salesman, drifts in and out of their lives.  Despite CeeCee's pleas, her father does little to help her mother -- who wears prom dresses and a tiara as she relives her crowning moment as the 1951 Vidalia Onion Queen.  Stuck in Ohio, her mother longs to move back to her home in Georgia, which is where CeeCee winds up when her mother dies and her father sends her to live with her great-aunt Tootie.

Saddled with guilt and hit hard by grief, CeeCee immediately takes comfort in Tootie's Savannah mansion and becomes fast friends with Oletta, who came to work for Tootie many years ago and is considered family.  CeeCee also meets a cast of eccentric characters, from Thelma Rae Goodpepper, who flings slugs over the hedge into her neighbor's yard and takes baths in the backyard, to Violene Hobbs, whose escapades in a see-through nightgown with feathers are hilarious.  CeeCee learns a lot about life from these women, helping her heal and find the self that had been hidden by hurt for so long.

Hoffman does a wonderful job balancing the heaviness of the family burden CeeCee carried with light moments, all due to the creation of quirky, loveable characters.  I love novels set in the South with strong female leads -- the descriptions of mouth-watering food, the architecture, the hospitality.  The book took me on an emotional roller coaster, from feeling CeeCee's loneliness and pain, understanding her love of books as an escape, and wanting to slap her father silly to laughing out loud at the women's antics and some of the stories they told.

Set in the 1960s, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt touches upon such weighty topics as mental illness, racism, and the definition of family.  Sprinkle in some humor, and you have the perfect recipe for a book that will make you laugh, tear up, and learn something about not letting past hurts stop you from living a full life.

Disclosure: I received a copy of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt from Inkwell Management for review purposes.  I am an Amazon affiliate.

© 2010, Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not copy or reproduce content without permission.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Interview: Beth Hoffman, Author of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

Tomorrow, I will be posting my review of Beth Hoffman's Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, a novel about a young girl from a troubled family whose life is upended when her mentally ill mother dies.  She is forced by her father to leave their home in Ohio and move to Savannah to live with a great-aunt she doesn't remember.  Saving CeeCee Honeycutt is an emotional Southern fiction novel about healing and love, and it's chock-full of eccentric characters (which you all know I love).

Meanwhile, I am thrilled to welcome Beth Hoffman to Diary of an Eccentric today, and I want to thank her for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions.  I just love getting to know the authors behind the books I enjoy.

What's the best thing to have happened to you as a writer, aside from being published?

There have actually been two things. The day my publisher called to inform me that Saving CeeCee Honeycutt hit the New York Times bestseller list is a day I will always remember. And equally wonderful is the feeling I get when people come to my author events. When I stand at the podium and look out at all their faces, I feel enormously grateful; it's such a privilege to be in my position. My book tour has taken me all over the country, from Massachusetts to Florida and from Georgia to California, and everyone has been enormously kind and supportive.

Do you have a writing routine or a particular space devoted to writing?

Yes. I live in a circa 1902 Queen Anne that I fully restored. It's in a quaint historic district that's loaded with old world charm and shrouded by magnificent 100-year-old trees. I have what I call a writing library on the second floor of my home. Though the room isn't very large, it has three soaring windows in an ashlar-cut stone bay that opens to a view of the front gardens. Morning light floods into the room, and it has a large fireplace that I keep burning throughout the winter. My kitties love the room and spend the majority of their time lounging on a windowsill or curled up at my feet.

I'm a very disciplined writer and I usually spend at least six hours a day either writing, researching, or thinking. Sometimes when the muse is with me, I'll write well into the night.

What authors or books have influenced you the most?

Though I can't say that any one author has influenced me per se, I have always loved the writings of Truman Capote, Reynolds Price, Laurie Lee, and Bailey White. The first time I read Capote I was spellbound. His writing encompasses the senses and emotions so fully without falling into sentimentality. Roxanna Slade by Reynolds Price is one of those rare books that I've read twice due to its richly developed characters and remarkable sense of place. In Cider With Rosie, Laurie Lee brilliantly captures a child's view of rural English life during and after WWI. His prose is stunning. Everything Bailey White has written delights me no end. And, I read a collection of short stories by Pamela King Cable called Southern Fried Women that I absolutely adored. She's a wonderful writer.

Are there a few books you've read that you find yourself recommending over and over to other readers?

Yes, the books I've recommended the most are Illusions by Richard Bach, The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy, and A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote. And when it comes to short stories, I always recommend the writer I mentioned previously—Pamela King Cable.

What do you do when you're not writing?

In the spring and summer months I spend quite a bit of time working in my flower gardens, reading, and browsing through bookstores and antique shops with my best friend. I'm also involved in animal rescue. For all my life I've always been a quiet, introspective person. I call myself a home girl, and I happiest when I'm surrounded by what I love most—my husband, my kitties, books, and gardens.

Are you working on another novel? Any hints?

Oh, how I wish I were working on a novel. I've just completed a major author tour and I don't yet have my energy in alignment with my creativity. During the last several months I've had over a thousand emails, and the majority of the people ask that I write a sequel to CeeCee's story. I really miss writing full time, and though I have a few ideas and several new characters have arrived in my imagination, nothing has quite gelled. So, I'm writing character sketches and small scenes while I wait for the meat of the story to reveal itself. But one thing I know for certain is that I will definitely write another novel.

Thanks, Beth!  I wish you much success and can't wait to read more of your work!

Penguin is offering copies of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt to 3 lucky readers.  Just leave a comment telling me why you want to read the book, along with your e-mail address.

Because the publisher is shipping the books, this giveaway is open to the U.S. and Canada only.  The giveaway will close on Sunday, June 6 at 11:59 pm EST.  The winners will be chosen randomly.

Disclosure: I am an Amazon affiliate.

© 2010, Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not copy or reproduce content without permission.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Review: Rumor Has It by Jill Mansell

She let out a squeak of dismay.  'That was your car?'

'My brand new car,' Jack emphasized.  'Only two days out of the showroom.  You left grease marks all over the window.'

'I said I was sorry.  It was an accident.  Unlike you,' Tilly added pointedly, 'splashing me when you drove through that puddle.  You did that on purpose.'

'Semi on purpose,' Jack conceded.  'It was only meant to be a little splash.  Hey, I'm sorry too.  But look on the bright side, at least now you know I wasn't spinning you a line.'  His eyes glittered good-humoredly.  'I knew I remembered you from somewhere, I just didn't know it was from the night you ended up spread-eagled across my new car.'  (from Rumor Has It, page 45 in the ARC)

I love Jill Mansell's romantic comedies for her easy writing style and their quirky characters, and Rumor Has It didn't disappoint.  Mansell's latest U.S. release focuses on Tilly Cole, who decides to move from London to small town Roxborough after her boyfriend unexpectedly moves out and leaves her with an apartment she can't afford on her own.  Tilly isn't too upset about his leaving; she has commitment issues that prompt her to withdraw or act so horrible she forces her boyfriends to leave her first so she doesn't have to leave them.

She accepts a Girl Friday position for wealthy interior designer Max Dineen, helping him on the job and taking care of his teenage daughter, Lou.  Through Max, Tilly meets the irresistibly gorgeous Jack Lucas, who has a reputation for bedding every woman in town.  Tilly is attracted to him but determined to remain friends, especially with everyone warning her not to fall for Jack's charms.  Like most romances, Rumor Has It is pretty predictable, at least where Tilly's story is concerned, but that never detracts from my enjoyment of her novels.  I couldn't help but fall for Jack myself, and even though I liked Tilly and found her endearing, there were several times that I wanted to reach inside the book and slap her silly.

Mansell is brilliant at creating secondary characters whose stories are so compelling that they just have to share the stage with the main character.  There's a lot of humor in Rumor Has It, and a lot of sadness as well.  Tilly's best friend, Erin, has finally found love, but she must deal with an angry, arrogant, and downright bitchy ex-wife.  Lou is teased by classmates because of her father's sexuality, and her actress mother, Kaye, feels the world come crashing down when she becomes the subject of a scandal played out in the public eye. At first I wondered if there was a tad too much going on in this novel, but I soon became so invested in each of the characters and their stories that it almost felt like I knew them in real life. Mansell perfectly balances the drama and humor to create a fun book that is impossible to put down.

Disclosure: I received a copy of Rumor Has It from Sourcebooks for review purposes.  I am an Amazon affiliate.

© 2010, Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not copy or reproduce content without permission.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Guest Post: Jill Mansell, Author of Rumor Has It

I don't read too many chick lit novels, but you can bet that when I hear about a newly released Jill Mansell novel, I'm all over it.  Mansell's novels are chick lit at its best.  Her books are humorous romances with quirky characters, and Rumor Has It is no exception.  You'll have to wait until tomorrow for my review, but you can read my reviews of An Offer You Can't Refuse, Miranda's Big Mistake, and Millie's Fling.

Today, I'm thrilled that Jill Mansell has stopped by Diary of an Eccentric to talk about her journey toward publication.  Please give a warm welcome to Jill Mansell.

My Road to Writing and What’s Next!

Hi there, and thanks for inviting me back to your lovely blog!  And what a great question too, because I know exactly where my road to writing started. I was in my early twenties, just married and very poor. Working in a hospital meant I was never going to earn a fortune. Then one day I happened to pick up a magazine in our hospital waiting room and inside was an article about women like me who had transformed their lives by becoming best-selling writers. Well, as you can imagine, I was enthralled by this idea. I decided to give it a try and started writing that very same day. OK, I was a bit unfocused for a while, basically not even knowing what I wanted to write, but I joined a local evening class in creative writing and it was a thrill to meet other people with the same goals. I settled on trying to write Harlequin/Mills and Boon books and wrote several. The publishers were lovely and said I could write, but that my style was too jokey, too lacking in emotional depth for them. So I made the decision to write the kind of book I would be interested in reading myself, with drama and quirky likeable characters and plenty of humour too.

I wrote the whole novel and sent it off to an agent, who said it wasn’t publishable because too much happened in it. A second agent then rejected it, saying that not enough happened in it. The price of posting the parcel and enclosing an SAE was a drain on my finances so the third agent was going to be my last. Luckily she loved my book and sold it within weeks to a great publisher. It was the most exciting time of my life. I have to say, people talk about the difficulty of writing the second book but I was so thrilled to have been accepted that the second novel flowed out of me in record time. That was the easiest one I’d ever written.

So that’s how it all started. I found my style, my writing niche, and twenty years later I’m still going strong. I don’t have ambitions to write a great literary novel – I’d far rather entertain people, make them laugh and cry and cheer them up. I have lovely readers and just hope I’ll never run out of ideas. My other hope is that I don’t die in the middle of a book. If I could just quietly keel over and pass away moments after writing those magic words The End, that would be perfect!

Thanks, Jill.  I wish you much success and look forward to reading more of your work in the future.


About the Jill Mansell

UK bestselling author Jill Mansell has written nearly twenty romances and women’s fiction novels and sold over 4 million books.  A master of romantic comedy, her smart, sassy style has an irresistible appeal for women of all ages.  A full-time writer, Ms. Mansell worked for many years at the Burden Neurological Hospital, Bristol. She lives with her partner and their children in Bristol, England. For more information, please visit or follow Jill on Twitter at


Rumor Has It -- In Stores May 2010

Would you be tempted?

Newly single, Tilly Cole impulsively accepts a job offer in a small town as a “Girl Friday.” Fun job, country house, fresh start, why not? But soon she finds herself in a hotbed of gossip, intrigue, and rampant rivalry for the town’s most desirable bachelor—Jack Lucas.

Rumors of Jack’s “love ’em and leave ’em” escapes abound, and Tilly decides to do the mature, sensible thing...avoid Jack at all cost. But the more time Tilly spends with Jack, the more the rumors just don’t make sense. Tilly doesn’t know what to believe...and Jack’s not telling.


If you're interested in reading Rumor Has It, you're in luck.  Sourcebooks is offering copies to 2 lucky winners!  Just leave a comment with your e-mail address.  Because the publisher is shipping the books, this giveaway is open to U.S. and Canada addresses only.  This giveaway will end Sunday, June 6 at 11:59 pm EST.  The winners will be chosen randomly.

Disclosure: I am an Amazon affiliate.

© 2010, Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not copy or reproduce content without permission.