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?


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!)

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.


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.


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.


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.


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

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.


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..."


"This is FUCKING awesome!"



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...

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday

Well. It's the end of November which also means it's the end of the I Love Dark YA Blogfest hosted by the YAtopia crew. Today's topic is "Waiting On Wednesday" where participants are asked to blog about the dark YA books they're most looking forward to. I'm looking forward to hopping around to see what everyone else writes because I love suggestions on books that I should read. Not that I'm ever running low on books to read (my goodness, you should see the number of books I bought at the Borders going out of business sale. I should really have no need to buy another book until 2013 but hell, I couldn't even make it until the end of 2011. I am what I am.) but I still like to add to that TBR pile.

Yesterday, as I prepared for this blog, I was looking over my Amazon wish list and there are a lot of exciting titles coming out in 2012 (get 'em out now before the world ends, kids!) but these are the three dark YA titles over which I am near breathless with excitement:

Have you ever read anything by John Green? I first read his novels this year after reading so many great things about him on so many blogs that he could no longer be ignored. If you haven't read his stuff, you MUST check out Paper Towns, Looking For Alaska and Will Grayson, Will Grayson (co-authored with David Levithan. In an aside, my personal copy of Will Grayson, Will Grayson seems to have gone missing. This REALLY doesn't make me happy.) The Fault In Our Stars will be released on January 10th. Reserve your copy today!

This novel by Lauren DeStefano is the second in the Chemical Garden Trilogy. I read the first in the series, Wither, this year. I honestly didn't think I would enjoy it as much as I did. There was something in the way DeStefano created this story (especially the three sister-wives) that just grabbed me and I really want to know what happens next. Fortunately, on February 21st, I'll get my chance.

Black Heart
is the third novel in Holly Black's Curse Worker series. I read the first two offerings this year and knew instantly that I'd have to read any and all installments that followed. This woman is a master at world building and creating characters whom I just can't help but fall in love with. Black Heart will be available on April 3rd.

Well, that is going to do it for me today. Before I start my bloghop, I just want to thank our hosts for this fabulously fun blogfest:

Kelley York, Heather McCorkle, Christa Desir, and E.R. King.

Thanks for giving me a much needed NaNoWriMo distraction! Happy reading, all.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Holiday Weekend Wrap Up

Well, I survived another holiday weekend at The Store. And this time (to the marked disappointment of my fellow co-workers who hovered every time I answered the phone), I even managed to remember where I worked. I also managed to disappoint a customer (yes, just the one) with the following conversation:

Him: Do you sell shoe laces?
Me: I'm sorry, we don't. But if you go down to the other end of the mall—
Him: How long are these?
Me: Your shoelaces?
Him: Yeah.
(customer sticks out his foot so I can see his shoelaces. I have no idea how long they are.)
Me: I'm sorry but I really can't tell just by looking at them.
Him: You're useless.
(customer walks away)
Me: Thanks for coming in today.

But really the highlight for me, personally, besides the lady who gave me permission to look down her pants (for real) so I could find out what size and style jean she was wearing (for real), was the following conversation with my co-worker and actual friend, Ruthie:

I'm quitting next year.
(fantasy #1). I'm publishing my book (fantasy #2) and it's going to sell a million copies (fantasy #3) and I won't have to work here anymore.
No! No, you can't quit! You can't leave me here alone!
I'm sorry but it's going to happen. (fantasy #4)
Nope. Nope. If you publish your book, you know what I'm going to do?
Buy a copy?
Nope. I'm going to protest. I'm going to get one of those sandwich board signs and protest in front of bookstores and tell everyone not to buy your book because it's terrible and they won't enjoy it.
It's adorable how you think my book would actually be found in bookstores.
Well, where will it be found?
Fine. Then I'm going to make one of those YouTube videos and tell everyone not to buy your book because it's terrible and they won't enjoy it. And then your book won't sell any copies and you'll never be able to quit.
Wow. This is the kind of support of which every aspiring novelist dreams.
Hey, will you help me make a video?
You bet.

So that was my holiday weekend. Exhausting and painful (my face still hurts from all that fake smiling) but it's done now and that's all that matters because now I have the rest of the month off (by special request and yes, my phone is off so they can't call me) to focus on winning NaNoWriMo.

I'm close. I'm so close. I'm (checks left hand sidebar) sitting at 47,312 words. That means I have 2,688 left to write. I have vowed not to sleep again until I hit 50,000. Or until Thursday rolls around. Whichever happens first. But let's face it, I'll just fall asleep at my desk again (I've been doing that a lot this month) and wake up later with an imprint from my spiral notebook across my forehead. And no, I won't take a picture of that for you.

But sleep or no sleep, I will finish. I won't have finished back on the 25th like I had hoped, but I will finish. I'm just not very excited about it. At this time last year, I was positively giddy with the prospect of reaching the finish line. I had a real feeling of accomplishment.

But not this year.

Nope, this year I'm more along the lines of "is this thing over yet?" I just want to write the last 2688 words and then go in the other room and shred them all because this is Not. A. Good. Story.

I like the beginning. I like the ending. I just hate the middle.

But I've left it because December is for rewrites, after all. Or, in my case, December is for complete and total obliteration.

Not exactly the NaNo experience I'd been hoping for but, hey, it happens.

So congratulations to my NaNoWriMo Writing Buddies who have already finished their projects. I salute you (even if I am slightly green with jealousy).

And to my writing buddies who, like me, are thisclose to finishing, KEEP GOING!

See y'all on the other side...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

YA Saves

Today is week four of the I Love Dark YA Blogfest hosted by the Yatopia quartet. It's #YASAVES week in which participants are asked to blog about how a dark YA book made an impact in your life.

But I don't really want to.

See, it's true that YA saves. It's true that certain books can make a huge impact in a person's life (a young adult or even a older one). It's true that they can bring eye opening understanding and I want people to know this.

It's just that talking about my personal experience tends to get me a little... emotional, shall we say and me getting emotional usually leads to me being either (a) super surly as I attempt to deny the fact that I have feelings that occasionally makes salt water leak from my eyes or (b) super sad wherein I have to fight the urge to retreat to my bed, crawl beneath the covers and not come out until one of my dogs tells me they have to pee (I have very smart dogs.).

And since I have to go to work today, I can't really do either of these things.

But I will tell you the two novels. I've mentioned them in this blog before. Twice in the last month, both in connection with this particular blogfest. But I mention them a lot anyway because not only are they a master class in how to construct a story and create characters, they had a huge impact on me personally. They are:




Both novels are by the amazingly talented Laurie Halse Anderson. If you've read them then you know what they're about (and you should also maybe know that I didn't have these experiences. Someone very close to me did.). If you haven't read them, you really should. Even if you don't think you like YA.

You hear so much about dark YA ( It wasn't all too long ago that Speak came under fire) and how it's bad for kids to read stories that don't involve sunshine and candy hearts or whatever (though I suppose candy hearts should be considered dangerous...too many of them will lead to cavities after all.) and picture perfect teens who've never been led off (or pulled off) the straight and narrow.

But you know what? Sometimes, bad things happen to good people. All too often does that happen and we need to be able to understand and deal with these things and sometimes the written word can help.

Shit. I'm getting emotional. Time to wrap this up.

I feel very strongly about this. Which is why, back when I was teaching, a miracle on the order of loaves and fishes occurred: I was given the opportunity to order new books for my classroom. I immediately asked for Speak (I don't think Wintergirls had been released yet). My boss asked what it was about and so I told him. Afterward, he was a little reluctant to order the books and was even more reluctant to have me teach it to a group of students.

"Something like that," he said. "You just don't know what it'll lead to..."

"If me teaching that book leads to even one kid coming forth about something that's happened to them," I said (as I was getting a little emotional), "then it's absolutely worth it. If it leads to one kid to have a better understanding what's happened to a friend then it's absolutely worth it."

Because YA Saves.

Monday, November 21, 2011

News, Notes and NaNo

Hey there, Hi there, Ho there. You're as welcome as can be!

And I'm obviously running on very little sleep so if this post has sort of a manic feel to it, you'll know why. Stayed up last night through the wee hours of the morning to work on my NaNoWriMo novel. I had intended to spend most of the day Sunday doing the same thing but I spent it lost in a book that was already written (so much easier, mind you) and so I didn't really knuckle down to work until after I'd watched The Walking Dead and knew I was in no danger of falling asleep any time soon.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Zombie shows are terrifying and gross (Note #1). And also, I hope a walker eats Andrea because she's irritating me (Note#2).

Moving on...

Somewhere this morning, I managed to limp across the 40k line on the NaNo thing (News. Definitely News). No, really. If you look over to the sidebar on the right left (Note#3: must remember to make "L" with hands), you can see that I'm not lying! Go ahead. Look. I'll wait...I'd been doing word wars with a writer friend of mine on and off during the night. She kicked my ass all night long but I still managed a small milestone of my own. The big 4-o. (Still News.)

It's surprising, really. I mean, I didn't start on time. My first few NaNo days were spent not writing. There's really no way I should now be so close to finishing, especially when one considers how pathetic my overall writing production has been all year long. And yet.

It's a Thanksgiving miracle! (news...please inform your local media outlets)

So my goal today is to write the remaining 10,000 words because today is my last day off until after the holiday weekend. Veterans' Day Weekend was another HUGE shopping weekend and that one left me pretty wrecked afterwards. I did, however, manage to get the "most memorable moment" award (News. Of the pathetic variety) when I answered the phone at The Store like this:

"Thank you for calling... [insert rather long, awkward pause as I try to remember where exactly it is I work]...Shit, where do I work? Oh! The Store! I work at The Store! This is MJ and how I can help you?"

In addition to making everyone within earshot delirious with laughter, I may also have gotten a slap on the wrist for my word choice. I'm positive it'll become a line on next year's performance evaluation.

I really need a new job. (Note#4 because this is definitely NOT news to anyone.)

So what was I writing about before I took y'all through another completely unrelated detour through the inner workings of my mind (sorry if I scared anyone)? Right. NaNoWriMo.

The Man has been great this month given all the turmoil. He's nearing his transformation into a NaNoWriMo widower. There are just one small, tiny habit we need to stamp out:


Hey honey, just thought you should know the house is on fire.


Hey honey, they just changed the free song of the day on the new Google music service!

But other than that small transgression (which ended with me glaring at him until he said, "Oh. Did you want me to stop talking to you now?"), he's been great. Seriously, I give The Man a lot of crap (Note #7 because again, that shouldn't be news to anyone. I am a horrible person with which to live) but he's actually a pretty decent guy. But if you tell him I told you that, I'll deny it...

Anyway, I'm going to get back to work. I can't help but feel like there was something else I was going to tell you about (more news, now slipped through the cracks) but I can't remember what and those last 10,000 words are not going to write themselves. Wishing you all a happy and productive Monday.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I Still Love Dark YA But...

Well, it's a Wednesday in November and so that means it's time for another installment of the I Love Dark YA Blogfest hosted by the folks over at YAtopia. Today's theme is Music and Movie Fun where participants are asked to create either a soundtrack or a potential movie cast for a favorite dark YA novel.

Right up my alley, right?


But there's a thing.

I'm having kind of a hard time of it lately and while I did set out yesterday to create a soundtrack for Laurie Halse Anderson's novel Wintergirls, I didn't quite get there. Something had to give and it turned out it was this blogfest.

I thought I'd post a few songs anyway. These are some of my current obsession songs and one or more of them likely would've found their way into my soundtrack because, like I said, I'm obsessed with them. Happy listening...

Shelter by Birdy

We Don't Eat by James Vincent McMorrow

These Words by Jed Whedon (yes, as in the brother of Joss) and the Willing

Seven Devils by Florence + The Machine

So that'll do it for me today. I'd like to apologize to the other participants who may be stopping by here today. I really do hate not coming through on commitments. As always, I'll try to do better the next time...

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Noughties Blogfest (The part with the actual post...)

Today's blogfest is hosted by Dave over at Dave Wrote This. The idea is that participants choose one thing from each year from 2000 to 2009, be it a film, a TV show, a radio show, a particular episode of a TV or radio show, a piece of theater, a book, a comic, a piece of artwork, something online or something else entirely, and then tell us what you love about it.

And since there's really nothing more that I like to blog about than television and movies and other aspects of pop culture, I decided to sign up.

And yeah, in staying true to myself, I might have a slight problem with that whole "one thing per year" part.

Consider yourselves warned...

Here's my list:


Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
by J.K. Rowling: Read this on a plane from Manchester, NH to Oakland, CA. Finished it before we landed.

The West Wing's episode "Celestial Navigation": Anyone out there love this show? Well, I loved the first few seasons of it and then it kind of lost me completely but this particular episode as long remained one of my favorites. Notable for CJ's root canal and Josh's secret plan to fight inflation.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer's episode "Restless": An atypical season finale for this amazing show but a pretty kick ass outing all the same. There were thrills and chills, laughter, foredshadowing (be back before Dawn), some guy with some cheese and Giles singing at the Bronze. Try not to bleed on my couch, I just had it steam cleaned...

Gilmore Girls: This is the year this amazingly awesome show with the wildly appropriate tag line "life's short, talk fast" premiered.


Buffy The Vampire Slayer's episodes The Body and Once More With Feeling: Episodes from seasons five and six respectively, these two episodes rocked. The Body centered around the (SPOILER ALERT) death of Buffy's mom and contained no underlying score while Once More With Feeling was a freaking musical masterpiece. The video below is from "The Body" because none of them for "OMWF" was good enough.

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring


Firefly: Every single second of every single episode. C'mon. You didn't really think anything else would be listed here, did you? This is the best gorram show in the 'verse and I mourn for its loss every single day. One of these days, I am going to build a time machine out of a Delorian and go back in time and stop the Fox execs for cancelling this show. I might do other things too. Oh, the video below is a little over seven minutes long so feel free to skip it!

Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers: Still awesome.


Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling. Hmm... is my list getting a mite predictable?

Lord of the Rings: Return of the King: Betcha didn't see that coming!


Angel season five episodes "Smile Time" and "A Hole In The World": This first is the episode where Angel is turned into a puppet. It's pretty hysterical. The second is the episode where (SPOILER ALERT) Fred dies. God, that episode is heartbreaking. A prime example of how Joss makes you laugh until you cry and then makes you cry until you sob. And I love him for it.

Battlestar Galactica: This reboot of the classically cheesy sci-fi series kicked some serious ass.


Serenity: Raise your hand if you're surprised to see this movie listed here! The Big Damn Movie had to make this list. River Tam's bar fight scene is frakking awesome! I wanted to post a video of it here but the embedding was disable. You can click HERE to see it though.

Supernatural: I heart the Winchester boys and this is the year when it all began.

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling: The day this book was released, I was at the bookstore before the people who actually worked there.


Veronica Mars season two episode "Donut Run": The one where Veronica takes on the sheriff and Xena Warrior Princess in order to help Duncan escape with his daughter.

Psych: This is the year the little show about a fake psychic hit the airwaves. Who knew it would last so long or do so well? I'm glad it did though because I find it hysterical.

Stranger Than Fiction: Love this movie. I'm not generally a Will Farrell fan but this movie is the definite exception (that, and Elf). It's amazing and if you haven't seen it, I think you're missing out.

The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory: My goodness, this was a gorgeous book. The end just gave me chills.


Long May She Reign by Ellen Emerson White: This was the fourth book in a series I first read (and fell in love with) waaaaay back in middle school. Just seeing this book made my year. Reading it made it even better.

How I Met Your Mother episodes "Something Borrowed" and "Something Blue": Also known as the episodes where Marshall and Lily get married. It's truly a hysterical hour of television, especially the part where Lily's high school boyfriend, Scooter, puts in an appearance and Marshall shaves his head after he gets his cool guy tips.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling: This book was released pretty much on my birthday. It was a hell of a gift, Ms. Rowling. Thanks for everything!


Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog: The best musical blog really almost ever.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: I know it's been, like, a week since I've brought up this book so I figure I'm due for another mention. BY the way, the first full trailer for the movie is now out for public consumption...


Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater: Oh, I love this book. I love the snark of the main characters. Maggie knows how to write a hell of a story and this is the novel that proved that (Scorpio Races cemented it).

The Vampire Diaries: The TV show, not the books. Yes, the first season is rather silly but DAMN, this has become an awesome show. The bonus is the Salvatore brothers are hot and don't sparkle. Laugh at me all you want. My love for this show has become eternal.

Well, I didn't even blog about music or half the books I'd written down...maybe another time. Thanks to everyone for stopping by... Oh, and I apologize for the wonky formatting happening in parts of this blog. No matter how many times I try, I just can't seem to fix it. Until next time...

The Noughties Blogfest...

Today, Dave over at Dave Wrote This is hosting The Noughties Blogfest...

where participants are invited to say what their favorite things (i.e. film, book, music, tv, youtube video, whatever) from each year of that decade were. Since anything revolving around pop culture is something I want to be a part of, I signed up.

And then I forgot about it until A Daft Scots Lass stopped by to find nothing here... Oops.

And when I say I forgot, I mean, I didn't forget forget. I have a list written out. It's just not in blog form yet. And I would be writing that right now instead of this explanation blog but I have to go to work. Again. It was a uber busy holiday weekend for The Store and today is recovery day. But as soon as I get out of work, I'll be back and posting my list.

So if you care to, please stop back by later. And if you don't care to, just know that Joss Whedon will figure prominently on this list.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I Love Dark YA Blogfest, Day Two

Oh hey, before we get to the blogfest portion of this post, I want to say that today just happens to be my favorite brother's birthday. Sure, some of you out there may be saying to yourself, "but isn't he your only brother?" And yes, while that is technically accurate, the fact remains that I am wildly fond of my brother and I'd like to wish him the hap-hap happiest birthday a boy could have.


(We now return to our regularly scheduled blogging...)

The I Love Dark Ya Blogfest is sponsored by the some of the lovely ladies at YAtopia. Last week, participants blogged about some of their favorite dark YA novels.

Today happens to be Flash Fiction day and, I'll be honest with you, I completely forgot about it until this morning when I was getting ready for another action packed day at The Store (the action, in case you were curious, was me beating my head against the wall and crying "why are we listening to Christmas music?"). But I didn't want to not participate so I took my paltry fifteen minute break and scribbled something down. It's not much. It's not anywhere near the five hundred words it's supposed to be. It runs about 150 words but that's all. If I had had a longer break today, maybe I could've hit the five hundred mark. Well, maybe not.


Here is the source of our inspiration:

Here's what I wrote:

The sun is swaddled in clouds but still her light is blinding bright. I think her determined to burn away my flesh. She would tear down the girl to reveal the truth hidden beneath a visage of innocence. She would show all that I am one of the creatures of darkness the priests spent years of my childhood warning me against. How ironic that I am what I am and more ironic still that they do not know. They see only the girl on the outside but not the devil within. For certain I must be a demon gone undetected these sixteen years. How else to explain the workings of my mind? Thoughts so wicked they twist and writhe inside me like eels caught in a barrel. And the spark where my soul should be is nothing more than a pit of ash.

But the sun knows me for who I am. What I am.

I lower my hands from my eyes and gaze at her. Let her do her worse. We shall see who lasts the day.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

In Which I Review Books (October 2011)

Here's what I read last month:

Baby Proof
- Emily Giffin- What a terrible, awful book. I can’t believe I read the whole thing. There was nothing to like about the main character. There was nothing to like about the supporting characters. The ending smacked of Deus Ex Machina and I HATE THAT. The only thing I liked about the whole entire thing is that it did, in fact, end. Just— Ugh. Not a good book.

Anathema- Megg Jensen- An ebook I downloaded for free or for 99 cents from Amazon. Not very good. Entirely too much tell and not nearly enough show. Really more no show. There’s nothing behind the words. Just nothing. There’s no depth to be found in this story. I knew where it was going long before the characters knew where it was going. I knew what the MC’s big secret was before she did. A lot of reviews on Amazon talk about how great a story this is which makes me wonder if we were reading the same book. One said this was a great first draft and while I wasn’t sold on the ‘great’ part, I agree with the ‘first draft’ part.

Lady of the English- Elizabeth Chadwick- Not my favorite but not bad either. In general, I end up liking the male characters more than the female characters because I really like how Chadwick writes them. They possess the same sort of qualities and mannerisms I like in my own male characters. But I found the opposite to be true in this book because I really did like Matilda more than anyone. But then, I’ve always liked Matilda. She’s always been an historical figure of interest for me. I waited the entire novel for her escape from Oxford because I just think that’s a damn cool story.

The Next Door Boys- Jolene B. Perry- A very nice book, telling a very nice story. And I’m not just saying that because the author occasionally graces this blog with her presence. And while the truth is that I don’t usually go for such nice stories with nice characters, I liked this one. And while I want to maintain my tough guy image, I have to admit, the Thanksgiving scene with Leigh and her family got me a little teary-eyed. Maybe even more than a little but you can’t prove it… There were parts I struggled with because I’m not well versed in the Mormon faith. I know the author wrote a blog post about this and so I want to say that while there were parts I struggled with, I liked the fact that the main character didn’t explain things because why would she? I may not be well versed in the tenets of her religion but she is. There are a lot of books, I think, that try to preach certain religions but this novel uses religion as a setting (character trait?) and not a soap box (I hope that makes sense) and that's something I can get behind. I loved the MC’s line “overly perky people made me surly” because they make me surly too. Looking forward to reading more by this author. And I’m not just saying that either.

Silence- Becca Fitzpatrick- Though I generally like this angel themed series more than Lauren Kate’s Fallen series, they’re far from the best written books I’ve ever read. And, like the Fallen series, I was under the impression that it was a trilogy, right up until the end where it didn’t. End, I mean. Yeah, the book ended but not the story. Whatever. Stop lying to me, books. If you start out writing a trilogy, write a trilogy. The first two books were best sellers? Let’s write three more to make more money! Story be damned! I don’t know if that’s what happened here or if I’m just popping off because I’m awake in the middle of the night with a sleepless German shepherd battling a double infection but that’s what it feels like. But who knows. Maybe she just neared the end of the third and realized the story wasn't done being told yet. I get that. That's happened to me. But parts of this book are just really lame. Three books and there’s a definitely lack of character development going on. Actually, I think the characters might be moving backward instead. There’s also a whole Homecoming detour that doesn’t even fully play itself out that I found to be particularly irritating. But I don’t know. Maybe it’ll be taken care of in the next book. Maybe it won’t. Oh, and then there’s this line: “We walked the rest of the way on foot” which seems to be a real sticking point for me because how else would they have walked? It would be an important detail were the two characters in question circus acrobats prone to walking on their hands or something but they weren’t. It’s a dumb sentence. That’s all.

Outlaw- Angus Donald- A novel of Robin Hood. Somewhere is a review written of this book that states, “this is not your smiling, singing Robin Hood” and BOY were they right. I was at the end of the first chapter when I realized just how much of an anti- Errol Flynn (or anyone else who’s played this famous character) I was dealing with when Robin had some guy’s tongue cut out. In front of an audience. Talk about making an impression. And you should see (read?) what Robin does to a guy who REALLY pisses him off. Whoa. Still, this book told from the POV of Alan Dale, is quite good. Really, really good. I highly enjoyed it and I look forward to reading the next in the series.

The Scorpio Races- Maggie Stiefvater- 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.

Overbite- Meg Cabot- This is the sequel to her novel, Insatiable, that I read last month. It was an easy read, meaning the story just was what it was. Which is fine because not ever novel has to be multi layered and deep. But it helps. That said, I’d read the next in the series if there is one.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I Love Dark YA Blogfest, Day One

First, a bit of Housekeeping... yesterday was the first of the month which means I was scheduled to post my monthly book review. But I didn't because sometimes, shit happens and yesterday, shit happened to the oft-mentioned (The)Heather so I was away helping her deal (or trying to, at any rate. I never think I'm very effective at these types of things). She's having a hell of a hard time right now so if anyone out there has any positive energy and/or good vibes to spare, please send some her way. Thank you... The book review, for all those who are interested, has been bumped to Thursday, work schedule permitting. I apologize for any inconvenience.

Today on My Pet Blog, there would normally be a post for Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group as it is the first Wednesday of the month. So, if you're here for that, I certainly appreciate you coming out but I'm taking a pass this month. I had a great post written— well, I had a post written but things are getting jammed so I'll just save it for next time.

So that leaves what I'm actually posting today... Today is the start of the I Love Dark YA Blogfest, brought to us by the ladies of YAtopia. This is a perfect blogfest for me because I do happen to love dark YA.

The first day, today, is all about our personal favorite dark YA novels so here are some of mine:

The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins- This should be a no-brainer for anyone who has read these novels. And if you haven't read these novels, what are you waiting for?

Speak and Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson- Again, another no-brainer for anyone who has read these novels. And if you haven't read these novels, what are you waiting for?

Long Live The Queen by Ellen Emerson White- The third novel in her President's Daughter series, this story takes a very dark turn when the main character (my favorite literary character of all time) is kidnapped. Seriously awesome novel by a seriously awesome writer. If you want to know how to create great characters, read this series.

Looking for Alaska by John Green- This book is heart breaking but oh so gorgeous. If you haven't read it, you should do so immediately.

White Cat and Red Glove by Holly Black- These titles are the first two books in her Curse Workers series. I love the story but I love the characters. She writes amazing characters.

Anything by Ellen Hopkins- Holy hell, this woman writes amazing novels.

All right, that's going to do it for me today. I know I'll think of another book I wanted to mention and then spend days kicking myself for it. But that's another post for another day. Tune in on November 9th for part two of the I Love Dark YA blogfest where I attempt to write some flash fiction.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Out of the Frying Pan...

...and into the fryer.

ends today. Just in time to give me time to shovel out a path to my door for the trick-or-treaters (True story) before the madness that is NaNoWriMo begins.

I think most of you out there in the blogosphere know what NaNoWriMo is but here's a brief recap, just in case:

30 days has November and in those thirty days, I am going to attempt to write a 50,000 word novel. That's 1,667 words a day for you math geeks. I started doing this in 2009 when I wrote a chick lit novel. In 2010, I wrote a YA urban fantasy. And both years I started off with nothing more than my intended genre and a name for my main characters. With the help of my leftover Halloween candy, (some say I overbought on purpose but I say you can't prove it. Unless you actually saw all the bags in which case... shut up.) I stayed up all night so that I could begin writing promptly at midnight. I typed my main character's name into my word processing program and then went, "okay. Now I just need 49,998 more words!"

Or main characters with much longer names...

This year I had originally intended to write a suspense novel. I even blogged about it earlier this year. Maybe in September. I don't know; it doesn't really matter. The point is, I felt even less about that proposed story than I did my previous NaNoWriMo projects so I've stuck that idea on the back back burner and instead have decided to write the next installment of my wildly popular (with the two people who have read it) fantasy series, The Coileáin Chronicles.

So I'm feeling good. I'm feeling very excited because for the first time, I'm going into NaNoWriMo (13 hours and counting!) with more than just a genre and main character. I have a title that will stick (unless I think of something I like better). I actually know where I want the story to start. I actually know where I want the story to end. Of course I have no idea what's going to happen in between those things or if, once I get going with the writing part, if the story will actually end where I thought it would because sometimes it doesn't.

But I can't wait to find out.

Are you NaNoWriMo-ing this year? Did you write an outline or are you just winging it like me? Looking for NaNo buddies (and thank you to the people who have added me! I'm very excited to have NaNo buddies!!)? You can find me using the very clever handle "M.J. Fifield." You can view my profile HERE.

Good luck to everyone!!

Oh, and just one last thing before I go... one of my Facebook friends posted this picture on her profile and since I found it (slightly naughty) hysterical and timely, I stole borrowed it to post here:

I'm guessing it works for New Hampshire too... Now, I'm off to shovel that path! Happy Halloween, all. Be safe.