Tuesday, January 31, 2012

In Which I Review Books

Here's what I read last month:

Holy Warrior- Angus Donald- A novel of Robin Hood and the sequel to the novel Outlaw that I read last year. Although there were parts of this novel I highly enjoyed, overall I just didn’t love this book as much as the first one. I thought the novel would chronicle Robin and Alan’s adventures in the crusades but it took them two thirds of the book to get there. Still, Alan (a) Dale is a great narrator and I love the idea of a such morally ambiguous Robin Hood as is portrayed here. He makes for a very interesting character. Apparently, there’s a third novel in this series. I just can’t seem to get it in the US.

The Future of Us- Jay Asher and Carolyn Maclker- Two teens in 1996 get an AOL CD-ROM and install it to find a magical website called Facebook where they see themselves fifteen years into the future. This is an easy, fun read. It took me about six or seven hours to get through it and I enjoyed it. Parts of it made me laugh and parts of it made me go, “why doesn’t she just look that up on her phone?” and then I remembered the story takes place in 1996. In 1996, I was in my sophomore year of college and I remember telling my friend Ben that I didn’t need email. Or the internet. And now I’m a social media addict.

The Fault In Our Stars
- John Green- Heart breaking. Devastating and really damn beautiful. It's a book about kids with cancer, for crying out loud (something I also did while reading this novel) so I knew it would contain its share of sadness but after finishing the first chapter, I had to put the book down and go find a box of tissues to keep at my side while I read the rest of the story. Damn your brilliance, John Green. And no, I don't mean that. I love it when books hurt so good.

The Seventh Month- Lisa Gardner- A short story that chronicles the end of D.D. Warren’s pregnancy. I like Gardner’s books and I’ve really come to like D.D. Warren’s character. At the end of her last outing, she found out she was pregnant and I think in Gardner’s next book, D.D. is back on the job, having had the baby and her maternity leave and all that, so this story just tells us about the night the baby was born. And I know that that’s all it’s supposed to do but I was left disappointed because it was rushed. I know it’s a short story but there needed to be more to it.

Beyond The Gate
- Susan Gourley- This book, the second in a series of four, surprised me. I thought I knew what arc the story would take. I thought it would center around Cage and Sabelline’s quest to reset the seals, right? So imagine my surprise when I’m only about twenty five percent of the way through the novel and they’re doing just that. I spent the rest of the book not knowing what the hell was going to happen. I’m very curious about Cage Stone. He remains an interesting character. One drawback is that there are a fair number of typos in this, including one misspelling of a MC’s name.

Outlaw- Susan Johnson- Yep, we’ve reaching the bodice ripping portion of the month. I want to read something but don’t have a lot of brain cells so reading romance novels is a good fit for me.

The Queen’s Man- Sharon Kay Penman- The start to a medieval mystery series featuring one of my favorite characters, Justin de Quincy. There’s a lot of info dumping in this story as Penman’s trying to educate her readers on life in the late 1100’s but I don’t much care because I love Justin de Quincy. I think he’s a great character and this is the story where I got to meet him.

Cruel As The Grave
- Sharon Kay Penman- The second in her Justin de Quincy series. A very short novel and again, there's a fair number of info dumps, but I still love it because I love the main character.

Dragon’s Lair
- Sharon Kay Penman- The third in the Justin de Quincy series. This book is my favorite of the series probably because Justin’s still Justin and he also gets to hang out with Llewelyn ab Iorwerth, a historical figure with whom I’ve been long obsessed.

Prince of Darkness
- Sharon Kay Penman- And that wraps the Justin de Quincy series. I love this book for the scenes that show Justin’s interactions with his infant daughter. They’re just really sweet. The rest of the book is all right, again, I love it because Justin’s in it. He really is one of my favorite characters and I desperately want there to be more books. I hear that the publisher isn’t all that interested in publishing more Justin de Quincy books which makes me sad. Please, Ms. Penman, could you self publish more Justin stories? Or maybe just send them to me directly?

Monthly Recap:

Goal for the year: 60 books
Books read this month: 10
Books Remaining: 50

Monday, January 30, 2012

Dazed and Confused

A friend of mine passed away this weekend.

It was sudden. Unexpected. A freak accident. I mean such a freak accident that I'm still surprised I'm writing this sentence. One day we were standing in the grocery store where she worked talking about German shepherds and god knows what else and then the next day, I'm finding out via Facebook (of all places) that she's gone.

And she shouldn't be. She really shouldn't be.

It's left me— understandably I guess— in a weird place. I'm trying very hard to do what I need to do, to continue living my life or whatever because I can and I should but I keep getting distracted. The kind of distracted where you sort of just start staring off into space because your head's figuring out that everything's changed but maybe the rest of you hasn't quite caught on yet.

So please, bear with me and please, if you can spare prayers and well wishes, send some her family's way.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Scene It

Before I begin, I just want to say that the notebook pictured on the left was made especially for me by my beautiful and talented goddaughter. Isn't it awesome?

And now, I present today's blog...

I am a visual learner. I'm absolutely lost in lecture style classes because I cannot stay focused on the speaker. No offense, speakers of the world. It's just if I'm left sitting with nothing to do but listen, chances are I'll soon be drifting off to Planet M.J. where the sky is a lovely lilac, the sun always shines and the faucets dispense hot and cold running chocolate.

In order for something to stick with me, in order for my brain to work something out, I need to see it. I need to read it or write it or touch or some combination of all of the above.

So this week (before The Store hijacked my existence... more on that in a minute) when I endeavored to find a place to stick those new scenes I've been working on (oh so many jokes...so little time), I had to commandeer my dining room table to get it done. This meant displacing my very rude and unsociable cats. They were not pleased which means that later they'll extract vengeance but hey, I needed the space and while I do loathe to make my cats irritable, some times you just have to do what you have to do.

I first tried out this story board technique a couple of summers ago when I was trying to write a synopsis for Effigy. I had some great stuff written but the transitions were crap so I printed out a copy of the synopsis and cut it up into paragraphs and spread it out on the dining room table (it's the only surface large enough because while I do have a six foot bulletin board in my office, it's covered with maps and calendars and mock cover "art"). Then I took blank strips of paper and placed them in between the transition-less paragraphs. And for some reason, this actually worked. I was able to better see where the holes in my synopsis were and how to fill in those holes.

And there was much rejoicing.

Here's what the dining room table looked like earlier this week:

Fat Cat, waiting for me to leave long enough to reclaim her table.
The dark blob in the lower left hand corner is Big. He's never met
a table he didn't like to lay under.

Each slip of paper is an über brief description of a scene that probably wouldn't make sense to anyone who isn't me (but let's be honest...there's a good chance the finished product won't make sense to anyone who isn't me). My task was to arrange them into an order that made sense. I like flow in storytelling. I like one scene to lead into the next with a great line that might tie them together. It doesn't always work out that way but I always aim for it.

And I think I just may have figured it out (Except for that one scene that doesn't quite fit anywhere and yet is kind of vital to the rest of the damn book). Of course, the solution involves the creation of an entirely new freaking chapter. It also involves the creation of two (maybe three. Or four...) other scenes. I know these scenes need to be in the book. I'm just not exactly sure what those scenes need to be yet.

Yeah, I don't get it either.

But puzzling that out has had to take a spot on the back burner as I've spent most of this week not writing but rather working at The Store. It's my fault. I was the one who (a) answered the phone and (b) thought, "I guess a paycheck wouldn't be the worst idea ever."

I really need to quit my day job. Preferably before Superbowl Sunday.

Wishing you all a productive end to your work weeks...

Monday, January 16, 2012

Falling Behind

It was inevitable, I suppose. After all, I'd just written a blog post on how damn productive I'd been so naturally that's when I start falling behind.

My original plan was for me to have edited Effigy's first eleven chapters by the end of Saturday. I came close, damn close (well, maybe not damn close) but then the Patriots game started and I was distracted.

So here I am, on Monday morning, with two more chapters to edit before I can get caught up with last week's goals. And then there are this week's goals. This week's goals are to edit chapters 12-17 which, on first glance, doesn't look like that much until you know that I had the brilliant idea to insert a trio of new scenes into chapters 12-17. I don't have a more specific place for these scenes as I haven't yet figure out where exactly they're going to go. Oh and none of these scenes are fully written yet (details...) but even so, they're already having that ripple effect on the rest of this section.

I should really stop doing that.

And I should really get back to that grindstone. Pages to go before I sleep and all of that...

Oh, one last thing...

Stephen Tremp's new book, Opening, was released today. It's now available for download on Amazon and Smashwords (softcover editions to be available later). Head over to his site for all the details...

Congratulations, Stephen, and best of luck to you!

Friday, January 13, 2012

In Which Things Get Serious

The other morning, my oh so brave German Shepherd, Big, crammed himself under my desk so that he might lay at/on my feet. If you know Big, you know we call him that for a reason and it isn't irony. Big doesn't really fit under the desk (he usually sleeps on the daybed) but he did it anyway, shoving all 130 pounds into a teeny tiny little space so that he might look up at me with his big reddish brown eyes (he has an eye disease) as if to say, "Where the hell have you been, lady?"

The answer is here. I've been here. Sitting at this desk, firmly ensconced in the land of the endless edits. I'm working my way through Effigy as I work toward that publication goal.

My level of enthusiasm for this project has been doing the ebb and flow thing since the start of the year. One minute, I'm totally psyched and positive and feeling groovy (I've been listening to some Simon and Garfunkel) but if you checked back ten minutes later, you'd find me under my desk crying into a pint of Ben & Jerry's (Phish Food, in case you wondered...).

I assume such mood swings are normal because the alternative is to assume they're not normal and I don't really have time to have a sit down in depth conversation with myself to ascertain my exact level of insanity.

Because I have work to do. Because I'm thinking I might be serious about getting this project done and out into the world.

We're coming up on that time of year (yeah, I know we're only two weeks into the year) when I start backsliding on that whole "resolutions" gig. I make excuses why I can't go running (my shin splints hurt) or why I can't clean the clutter out of the hall closet (my shin splints hurt). I make excuses for why I must eat my weight in chocolate chip cookies or some other form of chocolaty junk food goodness (my shin splints hurt?) instead opting for a healthier choice.

And I usually start backsliding in my writing goals too. Only this year, I haven't. I've been working with the laser focus of a slightly less distracted person. I'm playing far less Minesweeper and solitaire. I'm doing far less laundry and housekeeping (I think clean clothes are overrated). I even cut out watching television. I mean, not completely. Let's not get crazy. I'm still watching The Vampire Diaries. (I'm publishing a book; I'm not dead.)

So yes, it would seem I've turned my family into a group of orphans (Let's just hope I get this project done before they turn to pickpocketing.).

But I think, when it's all said and done, it'll be worth it.

I hope the rest of the fam thinks so too.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Above And Beyond

I went to The Store yesterday (which is always my first mistake, I know) but I really needed to check my schedule for next week. I used to be able to call in and have someone tell me my schedule but some of the associates were using that tactic to miss shifts and use the "Well, so and so didn't tell me I had to be there" excuse so now all of us have to make the trek in. As it was, the Store Manager (SM from here on out) hadn't posted it yet so I'm still in the dark about next week and have to make yet another trip to The Store on another day off.

But here's what I did get out of my visit:

Confusion and bemusement.

Wanna know why?

Well, let me back up a bit first. I've made it absolutely no secret that I can't stand my job and if you've read this blog for any length of time, you'll know this. I'm a retail drone. I empty boxes of shipment and I fold jeans. I open fitting rooms for people. I occasionally will help them find their sizes but only if I was headed in that direction anyway. I occasionally spend more time writing haiku about my work day than actually working the work day. I don't work night or holidays and only condone to working two weekends the entire year. I'm not really all that interested in customer service. I refuse to sell credit cards or membership cards or whatever other card they decide we should push. I refuse to learn the register. I flat out don't participate in store incentives and the only reason I didn't heckle the last staff meeting was because I was too busy sitting in the back watching the Patriots game on my smart phone.

And my visit before this one (to pick up a paycheck because I still refuse to get direct deposit even though the company keeps harassing me to do so), I learned that our stupid, stupid annual inventory will be held on Superbowl Sunday. This led to a rant of which I am especially proud in which I may have called everyone in the corporate office a bunch of American hating communists because why else would they schedule something so stupid as inventory on Superbowl Sunday. I say 'may have' because of course it can't be proven.

I just may have to quit my job. And no, that's not a joke.

So, as you can see, I'm very much the motivational poster pictured above.

And yet...

Ruthie, my long suffering stockroom companion, told me that she'd been brought into the office for a sit down meeting with the SM. I don't remember the original topic of conversation but somehow it came around to how Ruthie needs to be more like me.

Me: You mean surly, sarcastic and uncooperative?

Because honestly, I'm flabbergasted. I'm totally the main character in Office Space and just like that character (whose name I honestly can't remember), it seems the more surly, sarcastic and uncooperative I am, the more well received I become.

The SM claims that Ruthie doesn't go above and beyond for her job the way I do.

Me: Well, that's true. I do tweet way more unflattering things about this place than you do.
Ruthie: I don't even know what 'tweeting' is!
Me: Maybe you should.

The SM told Ruthie that I always come early and stay late whereas she punches in on time and leaves on time.

Me: So she's angry that you show up on time? Doesn't she realize that you're one of three employees who actually do that?
Ruthie: I know, right!

And then the SM said I don't take my breaks (which is sometimes true but not always. Some times I take extended breaks but the SM doesn't seem to know about that) whereas Ruthie always takes her breaks. And again, always punches back in on time.

Me: But I get yelled at when I don't take my breaks.
Ruthie: I know!

But then came one of the SM's more well developed examples of how I go above and beyond. It happened just before Christmas when The Store was in the midst of a massive product transfer (nothing makes me happier than sending massive amounts of product to another store just before inventory prep starts.). I just so happened to wander in to check my schedule and saw Ruthie in a bit of a time crunch. So I helped her out by printing shipping labels and putting them on the boxes. I didn't help The Store. I helped Ruthie. Sure, The Store benefited as the boxes made it to the delivery truck on time but that's not why I did it. This is what the SM had to say that day:

SM: What, are you gunning for employee of the month?
Me: God no. I have a reputation to maintain after all.

Yep. Sure sounds like a team player to me.

So let this be a lesson to you, kids. If you're going to be a surly, sarcastic pain the ass at work, make sure you show up early.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

It's Here!

It's here! It's here! It's here!

And look... it's a signed copy. I didn't realize I'd be receiving a signed copy. Apparently, I am the only person on the face of the earth who didn't realize I'd be receiving a signed copy because I don't spend nearly enough time on the Internet. Or, more accurately, I don't spend nearly enough time on the right websites.

But whatever the reason, it's here now and I can plant myself on the couch and get this reading party started.

The editing can wait.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Just Another Moody Monday

Today I am sad.

Don't worry. I'm not going to get into the hairy details over why I am sad. It's nothing anyone wants to hear about (including me) so I'm going to have a nice internal conversation about it and then move on (or as close as I ever get to moving on). I'm just stating it here and now as a fact, as a way to frame my mood.

Today I am sad.

But I really shouldn't be. Apart from the one sadness making thing, I seem to be doing all right. Here's the positive:

1. The furnace is fixed and the basement floor is completely dry. This means the only thing keeping me from sleeping now is the chronic insomnia. Going out today to track down some Melatonin. It can't hurt to try it, right?

2. I cleaned out the walk-in closet in my house and packed six trash bags full of donations for the local thrift shop which is a HUGE step toward that whole de-clutter goal. Now I just have to remember to put the bags in the car and take them TO the thrift shop. That would be an even bigger step.

3. The Steelers lost to the Broncos last night in a wildly entertaining game (any playoff season that doesn't contain the Colts, the Jets or the Steelers is a good one). Say what you will about Tebow, it's a free country after all but the kid's a wildly entertaining quarterback and I enjoy watching him play. That said, next weekend I hope to watch him lose.

4. My shoulder and...uh, upper thigh bruises from last week have healed. Of course last night I slept with my neck in the wrong position and am now having trouble turning it properly but at least that's not on top of everything else. See, this is why I normally don't sleep...

5. John Green's novel, The Fault In Our Stars, will be released TOMORROW and my copy should be arriving TOMORROW.

6. I made progress, real progress, in my Effigy rewrites. Back in December, I decided I had to introduce a new character to the series because I needed him in Effigy's sequel, Second Nature. The best place to make such an introduction was the very first scene in the first chapter so back to the rewriting board I went. And as rewrites are sometimes wont to do, they snowballed and I've been struggling with the opening chapter since. It's been very discouraging but last night— well, maybe this morning. It was about 1am after all— I think I finished it. I haven't yet looked at it this morning but I went to bed feeling good and optimistic about it. This, I believe, will snowball into other good things. I fully intend to have the first eleven chapters (Effigy is written in three parts. Chapter eleven is the end of that first part) all edited up with a nice neat bow by the end of the week. Which means that next week they can go into the hands of my shiny new betas unless I have since scared the shiny new betas away with my alarming lack of self-confidence.

I guess I'll find out.

Hope everyone out there enjoyed their weekend. See you next time...

Friday, January 6, 2012

Sleep Deprived

I have had approximately six hours of sleep over the past three days. Some times this happens because I am, after all, an insomniac and not sleeping is kind of the definition of that. But this time around, the blame falls on my furnace.

The problem started Tuesday when we had our routine maintenance. Ironic, right? I mean, routine maintenance is supposed to prevent stupid problems but for whatever reason (I have been since told this was just an unlucky coincidence. I don't believe them), not long after the furnace technician left the house after the routine maintenance, my furnace started to leak. Water, that is. And a lot of it.

So a technician came back out to the house on Wednesday to look at my very wet furnace in my very wet basement. At first he had a little trouble locating the leak until I pointed the very obvious leak out to him (not really feeling very confidant here). I shouldn't give him such a hard time, I suppose. It was, after all, very cleverly concealed right in plain sight on the front of the damn furnace. But whatever. He looked at the leak and said, "Yep. Your coil's busted. Gonna need a new one."

Of course the new one wasn't in stock and had to be ordered. It wouldn't arrive until Thursday afternoon at the earliest. Until then, I was told, I'd just had to let it leak because there was nothing he—nor anyone else— could do. I told him I actually believed that. He didn't get the sarcasm.

So after he left me with an estimate that started at $600, I broke out the oldest towels I have and started mopping. I broke out my broiler pan (finally found a use for it!) and stuck it under the leak because it was the only thing I had that was shallow enough to fit. It still doesn't catch all the water (the leak splits off and leads to somewhere not pan friendly) but it certainly helps. Of course, I have to stop what I'm doing every two hours to go down to the basement and empty said pan but I figure it'll be better than letting the water just continue to fill my basement. Because, again, it's a lot of water.

And when I say every two hours, I really do mean it. Hence the non sleeping thing. The Man takes one of the morning pan emptying shifts before he goes to work so I can string together a little more sleep but it's all good because today I received a call that my coil has arrived and shall be installed. Some time between 9 and 5.

This means I'm home bound all day long. I don't mind so much because, let's face it, I shouldn't be driving. The no sleep thing is catching up with me. Wednesday night I wrote myself a note about Effigy— a solution for a problem I've been having— only when I woke up three hours later, this is what it said:

"That was a problem for another day, another time. What really mattered was"

And that was it. Anyone spot the problem with my solution?

If you said, "there's no solution in your solution," you'd be correct.

Unfortunately, I was reading this note and coming to this conclusion whilst on the stairs (that's right. I used 'whilst'... don't you wish you were that cool? Or tired?). After said realization, I slipped and fell the rest of the way. Now my shoulder is out of whack and my ass is bruised. My ever sympathetic friend, Teri, told me that if I had a fatter ass, it wouldn't have hurt so much.

Sounds like a good reason to eat more Ben and Jerry's to me.

On the plus side of things, I have really taken advantage of my waking hours the past few days to lower my best times on Minesweeper get a lot of writing done. Well, a lot for me at any rate.

I guess there always is a silver lining. And I used it to stop my basement from flooding.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Insecure Writers Unite!

Morning all and welcome to the January edition of the Insecure Writer's Support Group (brought to you by Alex J. Cavanaugh). I have a lot to ramble— I mean talk about today so let's just jump right into it, shall we?

Only, where do I begin?

Well, let's start with my physical face-to-face writers group. There's approximately one such group in my area (if there are others, you are hiding yourselves extremely well) and I've been a member of it for the last seven or eight months. And every month until last night's meeting, it's been me and my publishing aspirations in a room with a group of five or six older ladies mostly looking to write their memoirs. And talk about quilting. Still, it was fun and I always left each meeting feeling energized and enthusiastic about writing (quilting not so much. I am a true Undomestic Goddess after all). This, as I'm sure you'll agree, is awesome.

Then last night's meeting happened. Our membership doubled all of a sudden and among the newbies were a pair of insufferable egomaniacs (this coming from me, mind you) who sucked up all the time and all the oxygen. Apparently they are both the world's foremost experts on everything so I suppose I should be fortunate they have hijacked my sweet little writing/quilting group but I'm not. I'm a little sad. And by 'a little', I mean 'a lot'. I came home from the meeting irritated and drained and ranting (which delighted The Man to no end, I'll tell you) because absolutely nothing got done and the only person who got to share any writing with the group was one of the egomaniacs.

Things took an interesting turn when, during a discussion about critiquing each others' work (critiquing? In a writers group? That's craaaazy!), that same egomaniac said he was not going to critique other writers' work because he wasn't going to submit his own to be critiqued. So I'm not really sure what he's looking to get out a writers group except a captive audience onto which he can pontificate about how awesome both he and his books are (almost an exact quote. True story.). And that irritates me. You know, in case I wasn't clear about that.

But I'm going stick with the group. At least for another month. Maybe two. Because it has been fun and, with a little more structure, it could be so again. We've been spoiled before now and could get away with a very lax structure but that's not going to happen anymore. So I guess we'll see. As awful as it sounds, if things don't calm down, I'll just have to secede from the group and start my own. Or maybe just stick with the online version.

Because life is too short to be irritated and drained. I have big goals (note: we're now transitioning into my next topic) this year and I don't have the time nor the energy to waste upon it.

As some of you may know from my 2012 goal post (goal post... hehehe), I have set the potentially very bold goal of publishing my fantasy WIP, Effigy some time this year (provided I can get out of my own way). My initial target date has been set for sometime between April and June. I know that's crazy specific but that's just how I roll.

I'm doing it on my own. I don't know if this is a smart decision but it's the one I think is right for me. I like the idea of having control over every aspect of this project because, above all, I want to be happy with the final product. I mean, if anyone else out there ends up liking it too, that would be super sweet but even if the only copy that ever gets sold is the one that sits on my personal bookshelf, it better be one I'm head over heels in love with.

So I'm in the hunt for all those things a self publishing author needs. I've been reading books and articles. The Man has been doing the same (he's been wonderfully supportive). I have a couple of new betas— people who took pity on me after my last sob story— by the way, I just have to say that you all are wonderful bunch of people and this is a fantastic community. I was supremely touched by all the kind comments and offers I received last month— waiting patiently for me to send them some chapters. I have a copy editor in mind. I have a book cover idea; I just need an artist to make it look like a book cover and not an elementary school art project done by the kid who ate too much paste. I probably have other things too. I just can't think of them at this time...

But, in addition to all that, I'm curious about others' experiences. So, if you're a self pubbed author with a tale to tell, please tell it to me. Good, bad or in between, I'm curious about it all. You can leave me a comment below. You can email me direct (mjfifield@gmail.com). Whatever you'd care to do.

Oh, and one last thing before I sign off for the day...

Susan Gourley has a new book out called Beyond The Gate. I wanted to post a picture of the book cover here but I apparently am doing something wrong. Anyway, her name's a link to her site so you can hop on over and see it for yourself. And you should. It's available on Kindle through Amazon and I believe it's also up on Smashwords (or will be soon). It's the second installment in her fantasy series (The Keepers of Sulbreth is the first and is also available as an eBook). I'm reading it right now. Be sure to check them out...

See y'all on the flip. I'm outta here...

Monday, January 2, 2012

In Which I Review Books

Here's what I read in December...

Become- Ali Cross- One of the best eBooks I’ve read this year. Most of the eBooks I’ve read this year have been marred and— in one particular case— made unreadable by bad, bad grammar. Not the case here. A weird thing to start with, I know, but I care about proper grammar (or at the very least not obviously horrible grammar) and if you’ve read a lot of these reviews you know that that’s a dealbreaker for me— me, the girl who will read anything, regardless of how terrible it may be. But again, that didn’t happen here. Hooray for good proofreading! In addition to the grammar, there is an awful lot to like in this story. Desolation Black is, first of all, a kick ass name for a heroine who does, in fact, kick ass. The fight scenes are very well done. I also enjoyed Cross’s way of smooching certain phrases together for emotional impact— i.e., she heldmeheldmeheldme. Very nice.

The Spellmans Strike Again
- Lisa Lutz- These books make me deliriously happy and this is my favorite of the entire series so far. One of the quotes on the cover says this book is “hands down the most hilarious, thrilling and moving book” of the series and I wholeheartedly agree. Rae gets what she deserves (finally). Isabel gets what she deserves. There’s even a part when Isabel gets chocolate croissant from a no name bakery located on None of Your Business street because she doesn’t want readers to know about it because then we’d all go there and the already too long lines would become even longer. Oh, how well she knows me. I know I’m on the east coast and not anywhere near San Francisco (and not anywhere near planning a return visit…not because I didn’t like San Francisco. It’s just not in the cards right now) but still when I read this part my first thought was, “There’s a place that sells awesome chocolate croissants? I love chocolate croissants!” Pathetic much? Why, yes, I am. Thanks for noticing. Anyway, I highly recommend this series.

Explosive Eighteen
- Janet Evanovich- I don’t even want to dignify this book with a review because it’s that bad. The only good thing is I had sense enough to borrow the book from the library instead of shelling out money for my own copy. Stephanie, you are a whore. And if Morelli hasn’t figured out by now that he’s far too good for you, I don’t think he ever will.

Heads You Lose- by Lisa Lutz and David Hayward- Because Lisa Lutz is my new literary obsession, I am required to read everything she’s written. This is a novel she co-wrote with David Hayward. She wrote the first chapter and all odd numbered chapters while David wrote the rest. Neither was allowed to change what had come before. They could only build upon what they had been given. In between chapters were the notes written between the two authors. Honestly, the best part of this book were those notes. Oh, and chapter fourteen which literally made me laugh out loud for a good long while before I’d even read a word of it (just ask The Man. He was trying to sleep at the time…). I really, really wanted to adore this book as much as I adore Lutz’s Spellman series, but I just didn’t. It was too disjointed and tiresome. I was glad when it ended and that’s never a good sign.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer- Michelle Hodkin- This book is insane. In all the right ways. I didn’t know what to expect from it and I was left very pleasantly surprised. Though there were parts that were far too Twilight-esque for my taste (I’m sorry but I really hate that series), the novel overall is very well written with good characters, great dialogue (that is, on occasion, rather hysterical dialogue) and a mystery that’s just bursting with intrigue. It’s also the first volume. I didn’t know this book was part of a series. I thought it was a stand alone. It became ever clearer as I read though that this book wasn’t going to wrap up with a nice neat bow. And while I am delighted to have the chance to read more, I kind of want to read the more now because I really want to know what’s going to happen next.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

I Hereby Resolve (the 2012 Edition)

Happy New Year, one and all. I hope everyone had a great time celebrating last night. I personally brought in 2012 with a Firefly marathon and a box of chocolates. It was shiny. And the best part about it is that I am not even the slightest bit hungover this morning.

This means that when my beloved Patriots take the field in a few hours, I'll be able to jump up and down, scream, holler, root, shout and do as many touchdown dances (Yes, I have a touchdown dance. No, I will not film it and post it on this blog for you.) as I want.

Oh happy day.

But this isn't really about that. This blog is all about goal setting. My list of goals and/or resolutions for the coming year. It looks to be another 'go big or go home' year (translation: none of my goals involve eating donuts or cookies or cake) for me which is both thrilling and terrifying. Let's take a look and see why, shall we?

1. Publish Effigy.

Wow. There it is. Just sitting there like that. Excuse me for a moment while I track down a paper bag in which to breathe... Okay. See what I mean about thrilling and terrifying? Yes, I am going to publish Effigy this year. (Effigy, in case don't know or maybe just forgot, is my fantasy WIP that I've been working on since time began.) Sure, I'm pretty sure I said that last year but I mean it this year. And yeah, I'm sure I said that last part last year too but I mean it this year. I figure if the world's going to end, I'm going out with a book (instead of a bang...get it?). I'll be talking more about this goal this coming Wednesday. That's either a teaser or a warning. Feel free to take it any way you'd like. And if you're one of my shiny new betas, please get ready for an influx of chapters. Just as soon as I finish re-writing that first one...

2. Participate in NaNoWriMo 2012.

This goal seems kind of pathetic compared to the first one. The first one is rather ginormous in scope (at least to me. I'm really freaking out about it but more on that Wednesday) so I suppose anything that followed it would be lacking in comparison. But there it is. I plan to participate in NaNoWriMo again this year. Unless I've completely gone crazy from trying to make the first goal happen. Then all bets are off.

3. Read 60 books.

This goal seems a little insane, given what else I have planned for the year but in 2011, I read around 70 books and I wasn't even trying. I view this goal as something to help me relax as I try to navigate my way through Goal #1. If you come across any hysterically bad books, please send them my way. I imagine I'll need the laugh.

4. Walk (or run or bike) at least 500 miles.

This goal is designed to make sure I do not spend the next 365 days in front of my computer driving myself insane over Goal #1. This comes out to a little over 41.5 miles a month. Piece of cake, right?

5. De-clutter.

Yes, I know this is the third year running that this goal has made the list. Maybe the third time will be the charm... I've decided to take the following approach: if I get rid of clutter, perhaps I shall find room for more books. My back up plan involves inviting my sister-in-law up for the weekend and stocking the fridge with wine coolers. If you don't get that joke, you can click HERE. Alison, I love you!

So there they are. My five goals for the year 2012. I hope that come next December, I am writing about my rousing 100% completion rate. And I hope that if I drop the ball on any of these, it's the last one. All in all, it's looking like it'll be an interesting year.

Did you set any goals for yourself? If you did, I wish you all the best with them. And now, if you'll excuse me, I have a Pats game to prep for.

Happy New Year!