Thursday, February 28, 2008

news and reviews

Got a phone call on Monday from the editor of a quarterly magazine published by the big city paper near our small town. She asked me to write an article promoting our bookstore for their spring edition. I quickly did a poll of the other volunteers involved with the store to gauge what qualities about the store, beyond our low prices, best appeal to the magazine's target audience, folks aged 50-65. Sent off the finished product yesterday, she emailed back within an hour, declared it 'perfect' and said the photographer will contact me soon. I'm so excited.

I finished two YA books this week, both were parts of a series. The first, "The Sweet Far Thing" is the third book in a trilogy from Libba Bray. I loved this series....and even though the third book plodded a bit in spots, I don't think readers of Gemma Doyle's adventures in the Realms will be dissappointed. I'm looking forward to more from Libba Bray. What a lovely strong YA voice for young women.

Another strong YA voice for teens is Catherine Murdock. I adored her first book, "The Dairy Queen," as did boatloads of other readers. It made the ALA list the year it debuted. Her sequal, "The Off Season" continues DJ Schwenk's journey. Murdock writes a sentimental book, but never falls into the sappy swamp trap. She keeps it real all the way through. I'd love to see more of DJ, but the book seemed to tie things up in such a way that I doubt she'd write a third. I will investigate to see what her next project might be.
So, good news all the way around for a Thursday. Yeah!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

labour of love

More years ago than I want to admit, on this date, I gave birth to my first child. As she looked me eye to eye this morning in the kitchen, I realized, not for the first time, what an amazing kid she is. So amazing that she even wanted me to bring her lunch and then stay and eat with her and her friends. One of them proclaimed me the coolest most awesome mom ever...and that was without a Lofthouse cookie bribe.

The kid and I are off in the freezing weather for the first soccer game of the season tonight. So, to my fierce, bright, lovely girl. Happy Birthday, dolly. Love, Mom

Friday, February 22, 2008

friday recap

Short week with the holiday starting it off, but it was a pretty productive after all. I did manage to edit my way past page 300 in Maddy Blue. I also opened up the Lani wip and did a bit of reading, tweaking and started rethinking the first two chapters. I had two versions I was playing with and may have hit upon a way to combine the best of both.

Not sure what the weekend will bring beyond some painting, some music, some lounging and some good eating at a local Italian place we haven't tried yet.

Enjoy the weekend, whatever it brings you.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

the bookstore model

Rumors are swirling at our local library about a coming change in how libraries are arranged. Some nonacademic libraries are moving to what is called a bookstore model. What this means is that books are not arranged in typical library fashion according to a dewey classification. I'm not sure how this will impact fiction, as those books are in alpha order, but for nonfiction, this will be a major change.

My problem with this trend is it does nothing to teach younger students how to use an academic library. Librarians already fight the battle of lazy patrons in local libraries. Once those patrons move on to college, their laziness will morph into ignorance.

What will this mean for library organization? Will nonfiction books creep into the fiction section? Will clear distinctions start to blur?

I'm guessing the motivation behind this rethinking of public libraries is the pandering to our shopping culture. Folks know how to shop in Barnes and Noble. They don't know how to find a 'how to draw' book in the nonfiction stacks because they don't or won't use the computer catalog. The catalog will become a dinosaur. What sort of road map will patrons use?

For me, this is yet again, a dumbing down of our society.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

flavor of the week

I'm not a very trendy person. Not that I'm stuck in 1987 or that I long for my teen years, but I just don't hop on board with whatever trend is now rolling into town.

That being said, I do enjoy finding a nice pair of jeans and did sneak into Aeropostale before Christmas and nab a pair of jeans from that trendy teenager shopping mecca. They were on sale. They fit. I liked the way they made my rear end look. So does the hubby, by the way.

Did something yesterday I haven't done in quite a while. Before I left to run errands, I visited the CD tower up in the attic and selected three of them to put in the van. My choices were Billy Idol's 'Vital Idol', Cheap Trick 'Live at Budokan' and INXS...the album title escapes me. Need more coffee.

Why are jeans and old rock music rolling around in my head? Well, because, I've been thinking about the YA book I started months ago. Haven't touched it in weeks. The whole book was inspired by Billy Idol...which is a bit odd and scary, but true. I may have to open the Lani wip up and see what hits me upside the head. That is after I do a round of edits on Maddy.

Yes, the flavor this week is getting back to work. I've procrastinated long enough. I have a free day today and tomorrow and I mean to get some serious work done. No excuses.

Monday, February 18, 2008

holiday, recap, book and a blog

I started the holiday with a trip to the doctor's office, middle child in tow. Yes, yet another ear/sinus infection with some ginormous tonsils. Looks like the ENT doctor gets to take another tropical vacation courtesy of us.

The weekend was filled with sporting activities.....two basketball losses and one soccer victory. We bailed on church and instead spent the morning sleeping, drinking coffee and reading the paper. It was nice not to have to hustle to church, sad to say.

We have also begun the major redecorating effort on the master bedroom....long overdue. Told the oldest, it is good to either marry a man with money or one who knows how to do shit. I married the later.

No writing, yet again. I did, however, listen to the oldest outline a storyline she's been toying with for a bit. Not too bad, told her to get it written down. How fun is that?!

Started reading a Lee Child book. I needed a good dose of Reacher and my latest fix is "The Hard Way." Pretty fun stuff.

Up for tomorrow, the bookstore beckons. Short weeks always screw with my routine. If you have a chance, check out my bud Kim's latest blog effort. She's joined forces with three other mystery writers. Looks like a winning combo.

Friday, February 15, 2008

friday recap

I ventured over to the library today and picked up a movie for the weekend and scoped out the required summer reading list from last year. Yes, the oldest offspring is going to slog through a selection of literary gems during June and July. On her plate, a choice of two titles from the following list of of four: Cold Sassy Tree, Mythology by Edith Hamilton, A day in the life of Ivan D., and The Ditchdigger's Daughters.

Quite the eclectic mix for her to choose from and write either a character study or an essay on the themes of forgiveness in the stories. Where did I put that Strunk and White's?? Where's the box of wine??

On other fronts, the ancestral research has ground to a halt as far as finding an American Revolutionary soldier goes. I'm striking out on every branch I've tried. I've founded uncles, cousins, etc., but no direct line. I have found a boatload of names though...way back to merry olde England and Scotland. Lots of Howards, Sinclairs, McKenzies, Crosses in the ancestry. I need to purchase a program to start recording the lineages.

Up for the weekend, my favorite bisexual character, Capt. Jack Harkness on BBC America's Torchwood is back for season two of the sci-fi drama. I caught up on episodes 1-3 via On Demand. We also have a plethora of sporting activities to attend and I hope to sneak in a few moments of reading time. Stumbled across a reprint of an old Fred Saberhagen novel...think it originally came out in the late 70's. Should be fun to reread that.

I have ordered up two new YA books from another library, so when they arrive and I have time to devour them, look for reviews on Libba Bray's latest and Holly Black's "Ironside."

That's it....enjoy the weekend:)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

black holes and other obsessions

I must be the queen of avoidance via becoming obsessed with new hobbies. I started to mess around with some genealogical research and have become hooked on the high associated with finding an ancestor's death certificate. Scary.

There is a method to my madness, namely, finding an American Revolutionary War ancestor so I can wiggle my way into the DAR and nab some scholarship money for the daughters. Every little bit will help. Especially after I sat with hubby last night in the high school auditorium and listened to the college advisor lecture us on honors/AP classes, college costs etc. as it applies to our current middle school students. Scary, again.

Needless to say, the wip is languishing due to my inattentiveness. I have, however, a boatload of census records, death certificates and family tree stuff to print off today. Yes, I've been sucked into the black hole of and see no way out.

Not much else to report here...February is a crazy busy month in our house with birthdays and such.

On the writing front, I'm just not expecting much from myself right now.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I like it, hey mikey

After the dissappoint of the weekend's book, I snuggled down with Melissa Marr's debut novel "Wicked Lovely" and read the whole darn thing in one sitting.

Not quite as dark as Holly Black's urban faery stories and not quite as light as the O.R. Melling novels, Marr delivers a 'just right' story complete with an evil villainess, amoral faeries and a tough girl trying to balance her humanity with the other-worldliness she knows is seeping into her life.

The book has a nice romantic touch, it may be a bit much for some middle grade readers, but for older YA it should be fine. Her main heroine, Aislinn, is well developed and authentic. The supporting cast is well drawn, except for Aislinn's grandmother. I was left a bit curious about her after a big plot 'reveal' in the last third of the book. The positives far outweighed the negatives in this novel, I'd read more from Marr.

Monday, February 11, 2008

I really wanted to like it

I almost put this book down for good before I finished it. I was close. It sat on my nightstand for a good couple of days after I first cracked the cover and slogged through the first fifty pages. You see, I really wanted to like it. What is not to like? Girls in fancy dresses, the whole 'upstairs-downstairs' motif, rakish young men, looming poverty, scheming frenemies...this is the stuff to read on rainy days with a box of chocolates and a warm blanket.

Instead I looked for laundry to do because I just didn't like it. It had all the elements, but it never soared. Too many points of view, too many cliches, too few plot twists, too much inane dialogue. I could go on....but it is too painful. YA really needs a good historical chick-lit series, but folks, this isn't it. It makes a brave attempt, but falls way short of the mark. Don't believe all the reviews on B&N etc.....bypass this one. And yes, I did finish

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

sound the alarm

We actually had some bad weather in our county yesterday, but as the storms moved across, our town was spared the worst of it. Other folks weren't as lucky. Nothing really happened until well after all the kids were home from school and with some of the schools dismissing midday, they were home well ahead of even the first rain drop. Several tornadoes crossed over and made it as far east as Nashville. So, the weathermen were right, but they really need to tone down the hype early on. It makes folks numb to it. One of them actually came on the tv and told everyone in his audience to calm down. When you have to say that, something is seriously out of whack.

I think we've become so use to the alarms sounding that we are nearing tone deafness. The whole fear factor thing sets my teeth on edge.

As my state was one of the Super Tuesday participants, I've been treated to phone calls from both parties asking for my vote. Because my hubby likes to yank chains, we've had everyone from McCain to Obama calling plus anyone else running, including the candidate for local dog catcher. That's what happens when you answer the first few polling calls with not quite honest answers. We both voted early and split our support. By the time the calls started in earnest, it was a mute point.

I don't even want to tell you the number of calls that said the words 'islamofascist' or some other hot button phrase. Frankly, I lost track. I'd be interested to know if the politics of fear were targeted to my state's contest or if it is the national tactic of some campaigns.

Fear is an amazing motivator. Which leads me to writing. Enough politics. I find I'm experiencing a bit of fear when it comes to finishing this round of edits on the wip. I've been doing the nut and bolts sort of stuff and should finish this week. Then comes the big tweaking, the slash and burn of several sections I know need an overhaul. I fear the whole 'making it worse before it gets better' thing because I fear I will make such a mess I'll never be able to whip it back into shape. Make sense or are my neurosis showing?

I think this fear has held me captive and kept me in nuts and bolts land instead of in major rewrite land......not a good thing. I need to get over it.

On a totally different note, I checked out "The Luxe" from the library. It is a YA historical/chicklit book that hit the NYT bestsellers list. I just about closed it for good and set it in the stack to return to the library today, but made enough progress to actually have a shot at finishing it. I haven't quite figured out why this book made a bestsellers many better YA books out there. I'm going to do some investigation into the agent and the publicity firm behind this one. They must have really pulled out all the stops. The book just isn't very good.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

freaking out

Okay, the weathermen only have themselves to blame for the utter nonsense going on today. Good Grief. People are pulling their kids out of school because there is a threat of bad weather....after school activities are cancelled, some schools are letting our early and the sun is shining in as I type. Now, granted, weather can whip up in a minute, but the radar shows nada...zilch, zippo.

Maybe it is my frame of mind today. I'm in the 'no idiots on my planet' mode. Hormonal...hell yeah.

On a positive note, the garage door was fixed yesterday in record time. The bill was reasonable and I got my checkbook and taxes ready to roll. I am woman, hear me roar. To top that off, I edited my way through a major portion of the wip and should be able to wrap that part of the process in short order. Like maybe tomorrow.

Today I helped man the bookstore...sold a boatload of stuff and vented to a willing listener about assorted bookstore/library issues.

Picked up Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely and Ian McEwan's Atonement while at the store....yeah me...nothing like two books for under $4.

Reviews to come.....

Monday, February 4, 2008

weekend update

We hosted a Super Bowl party yesterday. About 30 folks congregated in front of the various tv viewing areas the hubby had set up around the house. We ate a ton of food, had some interesting conversations and enjoyed a good game.

Today I was all set to run some errands, only to discover I can't get my garage door open. The darn thing is making some nasty sounds and won't work. So, here I sit waiting for the repairman, on a rainy Monday. I've already balanced the checkbook and am ready to tackle our tax packet.

I may actually get a chance to open the wip file today. Had a few 'ephiphanies' yesterday during church...yeah, I should have been paying attention to the homily, but it was either let my mind wander or take a snooze. I chose to let my mind wander through the wip plot.

But, first things first, I have to get the tax stuff out of my hair and sent back to the accountant.

Friday, February 1, 2008

friday recap

Sort of a weird week around here....just a strange vibe in the air. I've really been busy doing a whole lot of nothing, but I don't feel like I've wasted a bunch of time. I did manage to keep the house functioning, the kids fed and the regular routine stuff under control. Had a productive meeting on Wednesday with the bookstore committee, had good chats with several folks about the of which garnered us a nice little article in the local paper. So, all in all, quite the successful week.

Except for my editing. Crap. Didn't ever get around to doing that....I've avoided that file on my desktop like it is the plague. I've got a major mental hurdle going on of late....and a huge amount of lazy brain. I have no excuse. I'm a slacker.

I am reading two books right now. One is the YA novel "The Luxe." Think Gossip Girl time traveling back to the 1890's. So far, so okay. I'm also reading the latest Aisling Gray book from Katie MacCallister. Now, she is a bona fide hoot and a half. That girl has a seriously wicked sense of humor.

That is it for me folks. Better go stir the pot. Not the metaphorical one I'm usually stirring to cause trouble for the poor souls who know me, but a geniune soup pot full of chili for our big Super Bowl Party on Sunday.