Saturday, December 31, 2011

Goal Tending 2011


Yikes. Is it really the end of the year already? It seems like just yesterday I was working off the worst hangover of my entire existence (for anyone not in the know, I really, really hungover last New Years Day. White wine is an evil, evil thing.) and trying to cobble together a list of quality goals for myself in the year 2011.

And now, here we are. Judgment Day. I'm kind of afraid to look. But I guess I'll just have to treat this thing like a band-aid. Just rip it off and get it over with.

So without any further stalling, here's the list of goals I set for myself last January. The goals will be in italics. My analysis of my success of each goal will follow.

1. First things first, I need a writing goal and that goal should be to come up with a game plan or a business plan or whatever it should be called. I am going to come up with a strategy to get myself and my work to the next level. I am going to research the possible paths. I am going to pick a path and I am going to stick with the path.

I am going call this goal a moderate success. I did come up with a game plan. I'd love to tell you all about it too but it's kind of a big part of tomorrow's post and I don't want to spoil anything for you ahead of time. And no, this is not just me stalling for more time. At least I don't think it is.

2. Train to run a 5K. I don't necessarily want to run a 5K but I'd like to know I'm capable of running a 5K. I have absolutely no idea how to go about doing this but I'll Google it. Or something.

Again, another completed goal. I worked very hard on this goal for the first half of the year (well, maybe not 'very' hard but still, I put forth a good amount of effort) and, at the end of May, I actually ran a 5k. Not a road race with other competitors and spectators but yes, I did in fact, run a 5k. And then spent the next seven months limping every where I went because of my shin splints. Whatever.

3. Read books I haven't read before. I am notorious for re-reading books but this year I am not going to do that. I am only going to read new-to-me books. The only exception to this rule will be the re-reading of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows this July before I go see the second half of the movie.

Done and done-er. Even if this goal is a huge reason (a reason? More like the reason) I have yet to read A Dance With Dragons (I really want to re-read the first four books before I start the fifth). Just an FYI, this goal will not make a re-appearance. It was a stupid goal to set in the first place. I blame the white wine.

4. Participate in NaNoWriMo 2011. I know my 2010 project was not what I had hoped it would be but I will not let that stop me from trying for a three-peat.


Yep. I did this one too. I didn't really announce this but I earned my three-peat. NaNoWriMo 2011 made NaNoWriMo 2010 look like a masterpiece but quality isn't really the name of the game, is it? Oh hey, just as a quasi-related aside, all NaNoWriMo winners are eligible to receive five free print copies of their novels from CreateSpace. A pretty awesome deal. I look forward to taking advantage of that offer. Sure, I'm not crazy about the project but it's free. And it'll be a good experience. You know, for future plans. The kind I'm not talking about until tomorrow. And Wednesday.

5. Continue to work on that de-cluttering project, starting with the walk-in closet that has just become a catch all for things we no longer wear. I will follow it up by trying to solve my lack of book shelves problem. And then, after that, who the hell knows.

Oh hey. Look at that. A project I just did not do at all. The Man tried to solve the book shelf problem with a Kindle. It didn't help. I can't help it that there are so many awesome books out there that I need to own.

6. Do NOT usher in 2012 with four bottles of wine of any color. Or three bottles of wine. Or two bottles of wine for that matter.

Now I know New Years Eve is still rather young and I have almost a good twelve hours to not make good on this promise but trust me. There is no way in hell that I will cracking open even one bottle of wine. Not even a little one. Count this lesson learned.

So, overall, I think I did all right, goal-wise, in 2011. Five out of six is not bad at all. Tomorrow I'll be posting my goals for 2012.

Have a Happy New Year, everyone. And please, if you're going to drink, do so responsibly.

Until next year...

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Best of 2011



Welcome, all, to my end of year special in which I review the best pop culture had to offer in 2011. All right, the best of pop culture that I managed to stumble across which, let's face it, isn't all that much. And, all right, also it's just stuff I managed to stumble across this year. Some of the items on my list have been around for a while but the cave in which I live occasionally prevents me from finding these things earlier.

But whatever. I'm making a list of my favorite books, movies, music and television from the past year. And, as a special treat, I will find a way NOT to mention my shiny Jayne hat or my eternal love for all things Whedon.

Oh. Well, never mind that last part...

Shall we start the list?

Books

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. Here's a reprint of my review of this novel: There are no words to express just how goddamn beautiful this book is. It’s magical and gorgeous. I love her characters, I love the setting, I love how Stiefvater’s words weave together this tapestry of… I want to saw ‘awesomeness’ but to use that word is just not right because I think this book transcends awesomeness. It’s the kind of book that inspires me to write and I shall read it every year from now on. Maggie Stiefvater, I bow down to your brilliance. Oh, and one more thing: Apparently, this novel will be made into a movie. Please, movie people, do it right. Otherwise, I might have to kill you with my brain.

Where She Went- Gayle Forman. The sequel to her novel “If I Stay”. I wasn’t sure where this novel was going to go but I’m so glad I picked up it and went along for the ride because I really did love it. It was simply a fantastic read. I always love emotions when they’re raw and messy and that was definitely the case with this book. Of course, I thought the story dragged just a bit in the middle when Adam and Mia were reunited. Too much chatter and I wanted to get back to the internal messy emotions. But still, a wonderful, wonderful novel that made me swoon.

A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin. All right, so technically I haven't even read this book yet but still, I know it deserves a place on this list. I hope to be reading it in the coming year. Please, if you have read it, no spoilers in the comments. If you do, I may have to kill you with my brain... (by the way, I hear Martin has posted the first chapter in the next book on his site. And I hear it's around 6,000 words. Yowzah!)

ANYTHING
by John Green- I know his books have been around for a while but I just started reading them this year. If you haven't read this author, I highly recommend you remedy that NOW. Right now. Go ahead. I'll wait. His latest novel, The Fault In Our Stars, will be released on January 10th and I can't wait.



Music

Adele- Specifically her album '21', specifically the tracks "Rolling In The Deep" and "Someone Like You". Not very original, I know, as this album as appeared on just about every Top 10 list this year but I still love it.

Florence + The Machine- Specifically the album "Ceremonials", specifically the tracks "Seven Devils", "Leave My Body" and "Shake It Out"

The Black Keys- Specifically the album "El Camino", which technically I haven't yet listened to but come on. It's the Black Keys and they're awesome. Ergo, so will this album.

Birdy- Specifically her debut album "Birdy", specifically the tracks "Shelter", "Skinny Love" and "Without A Word". I've already listed videos for the other two songs in this blog so today, I'll feature "Without A Word." It's really lovely.



Movies

Ryan Gosling in "Crazy. Stupid. Love."

I didn't see very many movies this year but here are some I did see and loved enough to put on this list:

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part Two.


Come on. This cannot be a surprise. I waited for months to see the movie and on the day of its release, I went and sat in a very long line for hours just to get into the theater. All right, so yes, I found the epilogue a little cheesy but this is a great wrap up to an awesome film series.

Bridesmaids.

Again, maybe not my most original selection but this was one funny movie. I heart Kristen Wiig.

Crazy Stupid Love.

I loved this movie. And not just because Ryan Gosling took off his shirt. A very funny, touching movie.


Television

The Walking Dead- I don't even like the horror genre. I mean, not even a little bit and yet, I can't get enough of this show. It is freaking terrifying and I seriously can't watch it before I go to bed because I have zombie nightmares all night long. And yet, I can't get enough. The only thing that would make it better is if Andrea was eaten by Walkers and Darryl got his own show.

Community's "Remedial Chaos Theory" episode. This was the ep where the gang hangs out in Troy and Abed's apartment and order a pizza. It doesn't sound very awesome, I know, but it's the roll of a die that makes this episode great. The Glee themed episode, The Apocalypse Redux episode and the one where Jeff and Shirley play a lot of foosball also deserve a shout out. Very mad at NBC for taking this show off the schedule.

How I Met Your Mother's "Bad News" episode. This was the countdown episode that led to the news of Marshall's father's death. Hilarious and heartbreaking.

Happy Endings- My god, I love this show. I think "Secrets and Limos" is one of my favorite episodes (love Jane's line "I'm not entirely sure I'm not the universe") but the one where Megan Mullally shows up as Penny's mother is pitch perfect. Big shout out to my brother and sister-in-law for introducing me to it!

Parks and Recreation- Pretty much any episode. There is so much hilarity to be found in this half hour. I'd like to give a special shout out to the episode where Donna and Tom take a depressed Ben shopping for a Batman costume as well as the End of the World episode.


What were some of your favorite things from this past year? Oh, and be sure to tune in tomorrow when I take a look back at my goals and resolutions from 2011 and see just how well I did...

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Hat They Call Jayne's

Well, hello world.

I know I've been a terrible blogger of late. Lazy and remiss. I have excuses, of course. There's the typical holiday hijinks (unfortunately, gifts never do buy themselves) and some last minute unplanned shifts at The Store (some days, being the only associate capable of performing certain tasks is a blessing. Other times, not so much) and a bronchitis-esque cold that took a detour into laryngitis land (which was nice. It gave me a chance to brush up on my miming skills...). Then there was that whole computer virus my desktop caught that shut me down for a few days while The Man sorted it all out.

But I'm back now and virus free.

I hope everyone had a pleasant holiday season. I did. And I'm not going to lie. The highlight for me came early Christmas morning, wrapped in a sheet of tissue paper. Inside was contained a hat that, when worn, would tell all passers-by that the wearer isn't afraid of anything.

I refer, of course, to the hat they call Jayne's...

This picture was taken by The Man with some fancy smancy app he downloaded for his smart phone. Pretty cunning, huh?

I haven't much taken it off since. I'm wearing it now, as a matter of fact. And it's awesome.

Oh, and I have some good news... some time after the holidays, my mother has agreed to make another Jayne hat. That hat will be used as My Pet Blog's very first giveaway. I have no idea when this will take place but please, stay tuned...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Yarn Yarn


Welcome to Part Two of my Undomestic Goddess series. Today's installment is subtitled "In Which I Go to the Craft Store."

Let's begin.

I don't know if you know this about me but I am a huge Joss Whedon fan and ever since 2002, I have been obsessed with dedicated to the best gorram space western to ever be unfairly cancelled by a group of really stupid Fox network executives.

So now you might be wondering what exactly Firefly has to do with a trip to the craft store. I like to think if you're as obsessive dedicated a fan as I happen to be, you might already know and you might already be tingling with excitement. But, in case you aren't...

This year for Christmas, my mother is making for me a Jayne hat (as seen in the previously unaired episode "The Message"). If you don't know what the Jayne hat is, here's a picture:

Pretty cunning', don't you think?


Of course, my mother had no idea what a Jayne hat was or why just saying the phrase 'Jayne hat' made me jump up and down, clapping my hands with glee while giggling like someone who's been into the nitrous oxide. But because it made me jump up and down, clapping my hands with glee while giggling like someone who's been into the nitrous oxide, she agreed to make me one (and mittens to match. Yes, I know Jayne didn't get matching mittens but my mother makes some seriously kick ass mittens. You'd be stupid not to want a pair).

All I had to do was get her the pattern and pick out the yarn.

Hence the trip to the craft store.

And as you know, I live in the Mount Washington Valley where outlets are plentiful but craft stores are not. So I headed off to Large Mart to buy yarn. The pattern calls for three skeins of three different colors. Large Mart only had two of the colors. But I picked up three skeins each. One for my hat, one for my niece Jupiter's hat (who decided she wanted a Jayne hat when I told her about them because Jupiter is the coolest kid ever on the face of the anywhere) and one for the mittens. Here's the conversation I had with the cashier:

Him: Wow. Look at all this yarn. What are you making?
Me: Me? Nothing.
Him: What's with the yarn then?
Me: Oh, my mother knits and she's knitting me a hat for Christmas.
Him: It takes this much yarn to knit a hat?
Me: I don't know. No. Yes? Maybe? She's making more than one hat. And mittens.
Him: Oh. Well, won't that be nice.

A couple days later, I drove an hour and a half to the closest craft store to pick out the missing color. I don't do well in craft stores. I don't really feel comfortable there. I'm very out of place and I think the employees can tell that just by looking at me. I always feel like the second I walk through the door some kind of intruder alarm will go off because I don't sew. I don't knit. I don't crochet. I don't quilt. I don't arrange flowers. I don't scrap book. I don't paint or draw. I don't really do anything that would necessitate a trip to the craft store so I only go there if I have a very specific list written out for me by someone else... kind of like when I send The Man to the grocery store with a list that says "buy the jug of milk with the light blue cap."

The Jayne Hat pattern told me exactly what I needed so I was able to pick out the three skeins of the missing color and then, because there was a yarn sale going on and they had so many interesting colors (so much more than Large Mart), I picked out some other colors because hey, I love hats and I really need a solid navy hat. And maybe a green one too. And oh look! That teal is really nice. And maybe that purple too...

When I was finished, I took my basket full of yarn (and I do mean full) and proceeded to the cash registers. Now this next thing doesn't really relate to my yarn yarn but I just want to say that that store was chock full of screaming kids. There were kids everywhere all screaming and running up to their mothers with something in their hands saying, "Mom! Can I buy this?" and then when she said no, they'd run away, find something new, run back and scream, "How about this? Can I buy this?" I know I must have been the same way when I was a kid (and god bless my mother for having four of us and living to tell the tale) but WOW, was it scary. And annoying. It made me glad that my kids are the furry four legged variety and when I bring them into a store (many of the stores in the MWV are dog friendly), they do not run around screaming and asking to buy things.

Wow. Just wow.

The mother (of four screaming and skulking children) in front of me took pity of me and the look of absolute terror on my face and let me go ahead of her in line. That's when I had the following conversation with the cashier:

Her: Oooh! And what will you be making?
Me: A dent in my credit card?

After I escaped the craft store with my second rather large bag of yarn, I drove out to my mother's house to drop off everything. My sister was there. Here's the conversation I had with her:

Her: What's with the yarn?
Me: Mom's making me a Jayne hat.
Her: How much yarn do you think it takes to make a hat?
Me: She's making me mittens too.
Her: Uh huh.

I was starting to feel like Diane Keaton's character in the 1987 movie Baby Boom. Have you ever seen that one? If you haven't, you should. It's pretty good. Anyway, this city dwelling career woman who has just moved out to the country decides to pick apples to bake a pie. They show her on a ladder just having filled one basket with apples. She says, "I think that's enough for a pie" and the camera pans away to reveal a massive numbers of baskets on the ground all overflowing with apples.

My family's had a jolly good laugh at the influx of yarn in the household. Especially my mother who, when she came home that evening, looking at the sea of yarn and said, "What is all this?"

But you know what? I will take whatever teasing and ribbing they want to send my way because pretty soon I am going to have a hat that, when I walk down the street wearing it, people will know I am not afraid of anything.

Damn straight.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I suddenly have this overwhelming urge to have a Firefly viewing marathon.

Have a shiny day.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Undomestic Goddess

This weekend was my mother's annual holiday cookie swap party. If you're unfamiliar with a cookie swap, here's how it goes: each guest brings two dozen of two different kinds of cookies. Then trays are passed around and around until everyone goes home with a giant tray (and I do mean giant) of a wide variety of holiday treats.

This is just a sampling of what I brought home. I have two more trays just like it.


And every year when the cookie party invites come out, I am filled with a sense of dread because I. Do. Not. Bake. I mean, not even a little. I'm pretty sure I failed my seventh grade Home Ec class. If I didn't fail it, I came damn close. I do, however, specifically remember failing the egg unit. Turns out that was a prime example of foreshadowing because I now have an irrational— yet entirely valid— fear of eggs.

Yes, that's right. Eggs.

I won't eat them. I won't bake with them. I won't buy them. I don't like them in the house. I can sit at the same table as someone eating them but if the eggs are over easy, I spend a lot of time not looking at the person with whom I'm eating breakfast.

So, as you can imagine, this makes baking difficult.

But the cookie party kind of necessitates it. I brought store bought cookies once and received a massive teasing so the last few years, I recruited a designated baker with whom I later shared the bounty (she was invited to attend, just never could). Unfortunately, this year, my designated baker has moved on which left me on my own.

I paged through my cookie recipe book (people used to buy me cookbooks. They thought maybe my whole lack of cooking was due to a lack of recipes. It's not.) looking for recipes that did not involve eggs. And there were some. But then those recipes involved other things like roughly chopped culinary lavender and the creaming together of butter and sugar so eventually I put the book away and headed to the store for some lovely break and bake cookies.

Break and bake cookies. The cookies of champions. And people with an irrational— yet entirely valid— fear of eggs.

I bought break and bake sugar cookies. I also bought some delightful red and green sugar crystals because I thought if I sprinkled the cookies with the delightful red and green sugar crystals, it would help sell the Christmas cookie angle. That decision led to the following conversation between me and The Man:

Me: When do I put the sprinkles on? Before or after I bake them?
The Man: How the hell should I know?
Me: I guess I'll just experiment.
The Man: Why don't you Google it?
Me: You want me to Google 'when do I put sprinkles on sugar cookies?'
The Man: Sure. Why not?
Me: Well, it's kind of pathetic.
The Man: Because this conversation isn't?

The Man may have had a point but I still didn't Google it (but if you do, the first few results say 'after'). I just decided to sprinkle them beforehand and see what happened. And they turned out just fine. Well, they would have if I hadn't burnt them to a crisp.

Apparently, oven timers do not set themselves. Just a little tip from me to you.

The second batch turned out better. It would've been hard not to turn out better. And the third batch was just fine. Until I dropped them on the floor.

Here's another little tip from me to you: baking sheets are often times really frakking hot when first removed from the oven. The use of some kind of mitt (and not one's bare hand) is advisable.

Really I'm smart in other ways.

Eventually I did end up with twenty four festively sprinkled sugar cookies. But that only gave me one kind of cookie. And I needed two. So this was me at 9pm on Saturday night:

Me: I have peppermint patties in the cupboard. Do you think I could just unwrap twenty four of those and pass those off as cookies?
The Man: You betcha.

I ended up making soft ginger cookies. From a mix. It only requires the mix, two tablespoons of butter and a little hot water. Oh, and some sugar in which to roll the little balls of dough. That led to this conversation:

Me: Does sugar go bad?
The Man: How the hell should I know?

For the record, Google tells us that sugar does not expire, not like how other foods do (see, kids? This blog is educational!). However,
if kept too long or in a non-airtight container where humidity can get in, it WILL become a solid, unreasonable block (courtesy of answers.com).

Fortunately, unreasonable blocks fit right in here.

That does it for me today... be sure to tune in next time (tomorrow, if I'm really on top of things...which means probably more like Wednesday) when I tell you the tale of my trip to the craft store.

Cheers.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Tale of Four Betas


It's the first Wednesday of the month which means that it's time for another installment of Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group. Some of you may recall that I missed last month's post. Don't worry— I'm still just as insecure and neurotic as ever. Probably even more so.

Definitely even more so.

So I'm posting this month. And because I missed last month and also because this is the last IWSG post of 2011 (ponder that for a minute. Where did the year go?), I've decided to bring a little extra crazy to the mix.

That's right... I am going to talk about what has become my greatest insecurity as a writer. I am going to talk about the elephant sized chip on my shoulder and, in the process of unburdening my soul, I suspect I will be unforgivably wordy and whiny.

And, for that, I am sorry. Please consider yourselves warned and please feel free to just head on over to the next blog on the list. I really won't be offended.

So. Without any further ado, please allow me to present A Tale of Four Betas...

First off, I want to say I love this blogging community. I love reading about other people's writing journeys. It's nice to know others have the same struggles I do but I'm also genuinely excited for them when progress is made. When they have a breakthrough in that WIP that was causing them trouble or when they find an agent or a publisher. When their first books become available for public consumption. All of it, really.

And even though I'm personally not anywhere near any of those milestones (and, let's face it, probably never will be. I just can't seem to get out of my own way) I don't feel any sort of pang of jealousy over it. Well, maybe when I read about someone's WIP breakthrough. My own are just so few and far between that it causes me to wonder if my life would be better spent asking customers if they'd like to supersize their lunch order. But what really gets me jealous is when I read about everyone's awesome beta readers and CPs.

I've not had the best of luck in that particular area.

Now I feel this is the point where I should point out that when I do ask someone to read chapters for me, I will accommodate them in any way I can. Want an e-copy? Sure thing. Want a paper copy? You bet. Want a special red pen? I'll supply you with one. Want a package of post-it notes and a highlighter? No problem.

I know you're doing a favor for me. I know I'm not the center of the universe. I know you have jobs and hobbies and children (should children have been listed before the hobbies?) and any number of other things that require your attention. I understand that I am encroaching upon your precious free time and I am appreciative of that.

Which is why I always offer my betas the following out: If, at any point, you find you no longer have the time or the desire to continue reading my manuscript, please just tell me and I will understand. I do not expect that you will read my entire manuscript over night. I do, however, expect you to read the manuscript in the same calendar year.

That said, this has been my beta reader experience:

Beta #1

She used to read a lot of stuff for me. Then, in 2005, I had the brilliant (stupid?) idea to rewrite Effigy. At one point, I asked her to read the first fifteen chapters because it was so very different from the previous draft. She agreed. A couple of days later, we had a discussion about the first chapter. I haven't heard anything since.

Beta #2

He asked me if he could read the now completed Effigy. I jumped at the chance because why wouldn't I? That was in 2008. A little over a year later, he'd made it half way though the manuscript. Despite countless efforts on my part to just cut my losses (translation: me sending emails saying, "you really don't have to read any more. I know how busy you are..."), he always responded with, "No, I really like the book and I really want to read it! I just don't have a lot of free time!" But then one day, he sent me an email telling me about the writers' group he'd started with a co-worker of his and asked if I would mind reading his work. This turned out to be the straw that broke the camel's back. We traded a few strongly worded emails in which I told him I couldn't handle his apathy toward me and my work anymore and he told me I was a— well, he told me I was a lot of things. None of them flattering. I admit I did not handle the situation with the grace and maturity I could have but hey, my feelings were hurt. Really hurt. And still are. You know, in case you didn't pick up on that.

Beta #3

It took me a long, long time to work up the nerve to ask B3 to be B3. She was a fellow aspiring writer and I thought for sure it would be a good thing. She would know how hard it is to ask someone to read and how hard it is to wait and wait and wait. So I sent her the first three chapters in April 2011. In May, she read the prologue and wrote me a very lovely note about how she's dying to read the rest. And that's the last I heard from her.

Beta #4

(Just so you know, reliving this is really depressing.) B4 received 14 chapters in June of this year. In October, I received an email from B4 apologizing for the lack of critiquing going on. He didn't want to pull a B2 so he promised to remedy the situation. I have heard nothing since.

And thus ends my beta reader sob story.

I know I'm not the nicest person on the face of the— anywhere. I'm moody. I'm sarcastic and passive aggressive. I'm occasionally rather irrational and sometimes downright mean. I have a carefully cultivated bad attitude. I swear like a sailor with a bad case of Tourette's Syndrome and, from time to time, drink like a fish who can't hold its liquor. I'm an incurable book snob with some kind of gross grammatical god complex. I eat too much junk food and not nearly enough fruits and vegetables. I am also pathologically incapable of putting away the laundry. And after years of trying, I'm still splashing around in the shallow end of the writing pool.

So maybe I shouldn't be surprised that my once mighty group of readers (beta and the like) has dwindled to the point of non existence. They got tired of waiting, I imagine, for the day that I might make something happen. I'm getting tired too but I'll keep going because that's what I do. I shouldn't expect them to do the same.

But here's the thing: Beta readers are vital to the process. You need a test audience to point out the mistakes you don't notice because you're too close to the work because you know what it's supposed to say. You need someone to say things like, "I don't know what you were smoking when you wrote that scene but you should probably not do that again" or "Wow. That's a plot hole big enough to drive a semi though."

And I want that. I'm just having a hard time putting myself out there now. I've had a couple of offers for readers since the Great Exodus but I just can't bring myself to say 'yes' because it sucks when you go from comments like:

"I finally got a moment to sit down and open up the Prologue.......... and I am pretty excited to read the rest. I mean, I don't even LIKE this genre. I never READ this genre. I don't GET this genre. But after reading the opening to this book, I actually want to keep going..."

OR

"This is FUCKING awesome!"

OR

"YOU CAN'T END IT THERE!!! YOU ARE NOT TO GET UP FROM THAT COMPUTER UNTIL YOU HAVE FINISHED THE NEXT CHAPTER AND SENT IT TO ME!!"

to the sound of crickets. Very, very quiet crickets. Hard not to assume that you've written a terrible, terrible book and no one wants to be the one to tell you. Hard not to take it personally. Being ignored by a publisher is one thing. Being ignored by friends is quite another. So it's hard to know on whom to take a chance. It's made me not want to take chances anymore because honestly? I just can't be brought down any lower.

Yeah, yeah, I know. Pity? Party of one? Your table is ready...

On that note, I'm out of here. Gonna go get some cheese to accompany my whine. See you next time...if I haven't permanently frightened you away that is.

P.S... if you made it through this whole thing, thanks for listening/reading. And if you didn't, well, thanks for trying.

***P.S.S... It's come up in comments that perhaps I am not willing to read/critique for other people and I can understand how the "straw breaking the camel's back" line would have lead readers to that conclusion. I wrote it badly, I think. But I always have and always will be willing to read/critique for others. When I do so, the story in question moves straight to the top of my to-do list and if a particular day only offers me a half hour of free time, then that half hour is spent on the critique. The straw that broke the back was more related to the timing of the request than the request itself. I wasn't thrilled about being mostly ignored for a year and then asked for a favor. Probably petty, I know. But I already coped to that event as not my finest hour. Anyway, carry on.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

In Which I Review Books


Here's what I managed to read during the month of November (holy crap, I can't believe it's now freaking DECEMBER!) , in between endless shifts at The Store, Thanksgiving and writing a NaNoWriMo novel:

The Spellman Files- Lisa Lutz- A while back, I asked for suspense/thriller book recommendations and a few of you mentioned this writer. I found her books in the library and took a chance. You weren’t wrong. This was a very fun and funny read and I highly enjoyed it. I thought the mystery was a little on the light side (had it almost figured out before the actual reveal) and the end a little too crammed with stuff (the Snow mystery plus the sister’s disappearance) but overall, this is a great read. I love Lisa’s writing style. I love how she crafts a character. I loved the use of footnotes and I really got a huge kick out of the author’s acknowledgements at the end of the book. Too funny, really. Look for the follow up novels to show up here soon.

Curse of the Spellmans- Lisa Lutz- I love Isabel and I have a serious crush on Henry Stone. However, Rae is a pain in the ass and because of this, her parents (on occasion) are too. Still, I’m loving this series.

Revenge of the Spellmans- Lisa Lutz- Isabel goes to therapy. Still loving this series even if Rae and her parents continue to irritate.

Robert B. Parker’s Killing The Blues- Michael Brandman- The most notable thing about this novel is that it’s a Jesse Stone novel NOT written by Robert B. Parker. It's written by Michael Brandman who has written the screenplays (teleplays) for the Jesse Stone tv movies starring Tom Selleck. There's even a quote from Tom saying how Michael is the perfect guy for the job for continuing on this series. I just wish he'd done it by not trying to emulate Parker's trademark style. This fact that Parker does not write this book is right there on the cover and becomes blatantly apparent on the very first page. I shouldn’t expect anyone to be able to write like Parker and I really didn’t expect it when I picked up this novel. I was just curious to see what it would be like and it was, to be honest, kind of annoying. The first thing Brandman has Jesse do is move out of his condo and into the house where Jesse lives on the TV movies. Irritating. Also, there were too many things going on, plot-wise. There was the car jacking plot, the high school mean girls plot, the ex-con seeking revenge on Jesse plot, the Jesse sleeps with a girl who’s way to young for him plot (which does ultimately and hysterical help tie up the revenge plot) and (let’s not forget) the Jesse makes friends with a stray cat plot. Way too much. Next time, Brandman should try writing like himself. It would probably work out better.


Read anything interesting lately? Reeling from the fact that it's freaking DECEMBER? Tell me about it...