Friday, August 29, 2008

friday recap

I went to bed last night with a headache and woke this morning with the same darn pounding in my noggin. This will be short.

Had a great time with my buddy, Kim.
I did get a bit of writing related work done this week. Some edits, some new words and the start of an article on how libraries order books.
Oldest kid won her first high school soccer game. Middle kid lost her first game with her new team.
Started reading Lilith Saintcrow's latest Jill Kismet book. I just really enjoy her writing.

I'm looking forward to the long weekend. Hope you are too.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Last night marked my brief, thank God, return to high school. Yep, I got to experience a small taste of my daughter's daily life as I traveled the halls through her schedule. Wow. Boy am I glad to be done with all of that. She has class in three rooms that don't even have windows! Where do you look to daydream and plot the next chapter in your book? I guess the back of the kid's head who sits in front of you.

A steady stream of customers ventured into the store yesterday. Still quite a few moms out looking for required reading titles. "Johnny Tremain" was the most requested book during my shift.

Today I'm off to lunch with Kim, yeah. Maybe a trip to B&N after lunch, yeah. Then home to get ready for the soccer field. The oldest has her first game this afternoon.

Hope to plant butt back in chair once the day is truly underway and get a few more words polished and down.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

just a few showers

After I picked up the oldest from practice I hustled home, grabbed an umbrella and started up to the grade school to get the youngest. As soon as I stepped onto school property the heavens opened and buckets of rain poured down. By the time I made it to the door, I was soaked. The rain was coming sideways! Unreal. And the wind, I tell you, I was almost the modern version of Mary Poppins.

That was the exciting conclusion to a very good day. I cleaned my house. I did laundry. I edited four more chapters and wrote a whole page of new stuff.

Today I'm off to the bookstore to work my shift. I have a trainee with me today, so no doodling in my notebook.

Back at the wips tomorrow.

Monday, August 25, 2008

diving in one paragraph at a time

Have you even watched an adult get into a pool? They are either jumpers or they are waders. Some folks stand on the edge and without sticking even a big toe in to judge the water temperature, just jump in and start swimming. Other folks first dip in a toe, then sit and put their legs in, splash the water onto themselves for a while and then finally ease into the shallow end. Maybe a half hour later they are swimming.

I am such a wader.

I went back and worked on Lani some more last week. I wrote a new scene that may or may not work at the beginning. I'm pretty convinced that what I had previously written needs to come a bit later in the story. This is a weird story. It is unfolding in my head with all the ease and smoothness of a piece of sandpaper.

Some time was also spend editing Maddy Blue. The goal for today, after I clean the house, is to edit four more chapters.

Also up this week is lunch with Kim. Can't wait to see ya, girl. I have two season opener soccer games to attend. Woot! And of course, I have to get ready for Labor Day. When we moved here five years ago, our first party was on Labor Day. We hosted a cookout and had the neighbors over. It is now a tradition. Setting the menu is a major deal and we always have enough food to feed way more than two families. I think my contributions this year are going to be Robert Redford dessert sometimes known as 'sex in a pan,' a BLT appetizer dip and seven layer salad. The neighbor is hosting and I think is going to smoke some chicken for our main course.

Darn, my mouth is watering!

I also finished reading "The Time Traveler's Wife" over the weekend. What an interesting book. I almost put it down about a fourth of the way through it, but I trudged on and was rewarded for my efforts with an amazing story, told in such a fresh voice and in an enchanting way.

Friday, August 22, 2008

two in a row

A few weeks back I blogged about reading a very good historical novel based on the real Lady MacBeth. I picked another historical novel winner while at the library earlier in the week. This time the heroine is Louise de la Valliere,mistress to Louis XIV, the Sun King.

"Mistress of the Sun" by Sandra Gulland swept me away to the Sun King's court but not until I had totally fallen in love with Louise. The story begins when Louise is just a small child enamored with horses. Gulland uses Louise's relationship with a true white horse, Diablo, to develop key elements in her character that thread through the entire story. Louise comes to life as an extraordinary horsewoman, a scholar and a deeply loving woman.

The story concludes with an wonderfully done epilogue told by Louise and Louis' only surviving child, a daughter. Gulland then includes a nice author's note at the end outlining the fictional aspects of the story.

Well done, from start to finish.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

when the words won't come

I opened the YA wip I started last year and began to edit. I hoped that through a few tweaks, nips and tucks I could get the words flowing. Good plan, but it didn't work. I didn't come up with much new stuff to write and in fact, I got so stuck I sat and stared at the blinking cursor for more than a few minutes.

I've hit a wall with the Lani story in only 40 short pages. Last night I decided the story is starting in the wrong place. When I return to work on this piece, I will write a new beginning and see if that doesn't jump start my efforts.

I didn't anticipate this. Ick.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

how bad is that

I opened up the Maddy wip yesterday and the file marker noting the last time it was 'touched' said April. APRIL!!

Good grief. I couldn't believe it. How bad is that?

Needless to say, I got down to work and edited, tweaked and wrote my way through the first four chapters. Today I'm opening up the Lani wip and am prepared to wince yet again at the date listed after the file name.

I can't do anything about what I haven't done except to start doing something. Which I am.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

budget cuts

I'm an avid newspaper reader. After I get up in the morning and make a pot of coffee, I let the dog out to fetch the paper. He collects it from the end of the driveway and carries it back to the house. His fee for such work is one doggie biscuit during the week and on Sundays he gets a half a slice of american cheese.

Cup of coffee in hand, I sit down and read. Lots of articles in the newspaper these days on ways to tighten the household budgets. I read those with a keen eye. When you are a one income house with three kids, any tip helps. What I've come to realize is that the tips these articles mention are so far removed from my reality that I just laugh.

The sage advice offered in the last article I read centered on eating. Don't eat out...check. Cook from scratch...check. Meal plan...check. Buy in bulk when it makes sense...check. Eat less meat...check. Buy produce in season...check.

Come on people, are today's adults so inept that they need to have it put out there in black and white that eating out is more expensive that making spaghetti and meatballs at home?

I've seen other suggestions ranging from cutting back on your manicures and pedicures. Oh please, is that the best you can do? How about grouping your errands and not running out for just one thing? Again, are people stupid?

I have to believe I'm not the only person who reads these articles and smirks. I've got to think a large number of us are ahead of the curve on this one. If I contemplate the alternative, well, it is a good thing I haven't had my breakfast yet. You know, the breakfast where you actually break eggs and not nuke up a prepackaged sandwich.

Monday, August 18, 2008

what I'm going to attempt to do

After noodling over my at home schedule for this school year, I've decided to give the following a whirl in my attempt to really finish and put to bed the completed wip, complete the started wip, and move on from there.

Monday is going to be clean the house day. It is a fact of life that a family needs to live in a clean house.

Tuesday is at the library day. I have my bookstore commitment for another 14 months.

Wednesday is write my butt off day.

Thursday is write my butt off day.

Friday is errand day as it also coincides with music lessons.

Now, I do intend on writing besides just on Wednesday and Thursday, but it won't be the marathon sessions I plan. I can do marathon sessions, I have done them before. What I'm not good at is squeezing in an hour or less at the keyboard on other days.

We will see how this goes....of course, laundry has to be done every day. Kids have to be hauled, fed, advised etc. Off to rattle the oldest out of bed, the bus comes in an hour.

Friday, August 15, 2008

friday recap

I didn't expect to work on any of my projects this week. The last four days have been consumed with getting back into the school year routine. I hope next week will start productive weeks to come.

Today is the big pantry stock day. I need to make a few lists. Make sure I get all the good lunch box packing treats.

Off to do that. Have a good weekend.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

ink exchange

The library finally received their copy of Melissa Marr's, "Ink Exchange." Why it took so darn long is the topic of another rant and I'm not awake enough to tackle that issue this morning.

But a short book review, I can do that! I really liked Marr's first book, "Wicked Lovely." Killer title, great dark faery story. I devoured it and was excited when I learned her second effort would include some of the same characters.

Hats off to Marr. She isn't afraid to hurt her characters. She makes them suffer and often the story starts with them already wounded. Which of course attracts all sorts of the wrong types of fey folk. Our heroine, Leslie, is running from a horrific family situation and in an attempt to reclaim herself she gets a tattoo. The tattoo scene, for someone who will never get one, was fascinating. The concept of linking her to the Dark King via the tattoo was genius. Nothing is ever simple in Marr's stories, and even though the stories deal with faeries, the resolutions are always grounded in hard truths. In this case, Leslie must truly reclaim herself and make hard choices to find even a chance at happiness. These books don't have the classic happy ending motif, but they end well in the sense you are left with a sense of completion.

I really like Marr's characters, her writing voice and the themes she picks to explore. What a refreshing read after the slogging through the last YA title I picked.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

high school reading lists

I worked my first regular shift in the bookstore yesterday. As soon as we unlocked the doors, moms of various ages rushed in with required reading lists in hand. They made a beeline for our classic section and began the hunt. Nothing beats a determined effort to save a few bucks when it comes to buying school supplies. Fifty cents a book versus ten bucks a book; with that sort of incentive it got intense quick. And who cares about condition? Torn covers, no biggie. Spaghetti stains, no problem.

For the most part, we were able to put at least two to three titles in each lady's hands. Some books we just don't see in our donations. Some, we see so many we end of boxing half of them.

In an effort to keep our eyes peeled for the hot authors and the hot books, I compiled a list of our local high school required reading titles. It took a full page single spaced to get all of them down. But now we have a guide. We didn't experience this rush for classics last year as the store opened two months into the school year. Folks already had to purchase their student's three to ten titles.

It was a busy morning and the early birds got the best deals. I will spend Thursday going through the library's withdrawal closet to look for more books to add to the store. They pull them from the collection based on condition. The local moms don't care about condition, for them it is all about price.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

first week day two

The kids all made it through their first day of school. They arrived home with stacks of papers needing my signature and of course an accompanying check. Public education is not free.

Yesterday two other ladies and I worked on the store stocking closet. We boxed up books and made some room for ourselves to work. Let's hope our thought process was sound and we left enough inventory to replenish the store. Today I work my first regular shift. Should be fun.

While at the store I picked up the oldest kid's required reading books for high school. On the list: To Kill a Mockingbird, The Bean Trees, The Hiding Place, Heroes Gods and Monsters, A Midsummer's Night's Dream and Animal Farm.

Let day two begin.

Monday, August 11, 2008

school buses and new crayons

Today is the first day of the new school year. All the supplies are sorted and packed. Brown bag lunch items are on the counter. First day outfits have been selected. Over the next three hours each of my kids will head out the front door.

The start of the school year means I have goals to set and things to achieve. So far the list includes repainting the window trim on three windows and repainting the baseboard trim in the kitchen. I also want to finish the final edits on Maddy Blue. I intend on writing the first draft of the Lani story. I want to revisit the short story I did last year and rework that concept. I will be working in the bookstore every other Tuesday and helping to stock the store on a more regular basis.

August through May are busy months and I've set quite a few goals for myself. Wish me luck.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

lots of reading

The day I borrowed "Breaking Dawn" from a friend at the library I had checked out two other books. Of course, I set those books aside and spent a day reading the YA vampire romance. The other two books were "An Ice Cold Grave" by Charlaine Harris and "The Observations" by Jane Harris. I was looking for the first title when I stumbled across the second.

Miss Charlaine is one of my favorite writers. I love the Sookie books and have the debut date for the HBO series based on these books circled on my calendar. I also enjoy her more recent series about the very talented Harper Connelly. Harper finds dead people due to being struck by lightning as a child. These are solid mysteries with a neat paranormal twist. Miss Charlaine is a master at developing characters. This time Harper is smack dab in the middle of a small town looking for a missing teenager when she stumbles across a serial killer. Major thumbs up for "An Ice Cold Grave."

The second book, "The Observations" is a historical set in the lowlands of Scotland during the late 1800s. Told from the point of view of an Irish domestic, the story is an engaging look into a very structured world from the perspective of a very endearing heroine, Bessy Buckley. I just loved Bessy's voice and the wonderful pace of the story. Again, thumbs up for this historical tale.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Breaking Dawn

When I was at the library yesterday for our monthly Friends meeting, one of the members had brought her own copy of Breaking Dawn to see if anyone wanted to borrow it. I jumped at the chance and brought it home with me. I managed to finish it last night.

Yes, I am a quick reader, however I admit that in this case I scanned many pages and didn't even bother to read them. I'm not even sure where to start in this review, never a good sign. Meyer wraps up the series in a very predictable way. The only twist in the story, Jacob's imprinting and the object of this event, gave me a major 'ewww' moment. It was not the only 'ewww' moment for me. If you read my blog you know I read some pretty hard core urban fantasy complete with all sorts of things that make you go 'ewww.' This book taps into a different level of discomfort because it is aimed at teen aged girls who are still forming their thoughts and opinions. Yes, it is fiction, and YA fiction does tackle tough topics, but this series tends to romanticize behaviours that are not healthy in my opinion.

Spoilers are now going to follow......

I just don't know how the teen set is going to deal with the themes in this book. It isn't the romance. It is the treatment of sex, marriage, pregnancy and parenthood. The oldest will read the book and I can't wait to hear her take on it. She told me yesterday after she got home from soccer practice and saw how far along I was that she loved the first one in the series, but the rest were just so-so. This reaction was mainly because she couldn't relate to Bella.

Not sure how much relating will happen as our heroine is now an 18 year old pregnant newlywed, the baby came along post marriage of course, carrying a vampire human hybrid.

The Twilight saga is done and my recommendation is to borrow the book. Don't spend the money on it if you have to read it.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

the buzz on Breaking Dawn

I was surfing around yesterday and stumbled across a movement encouraging readers to return the latest big YA book "Breaking Dawn" by Stephenie Meyer to the bookstore where they purchased it. I guess folks are not too happy about how the series concludes. Of course my curiosity got the better of me and I read the articles in the NY Times and LA Times about the hub-bub. If the articles were accurate I now know the basic plot outline.

Can't say I'm suprised at all by how Meyer chose to wrap up the series given the major hints in the first three books and the author's background. Readers could see it coming if they paid attention. My teenaged neighbor read the book already and when asked what she thought she said it was totally predictable and not as good as the first three.

My oldest and I are waiting for the neighbor's mom to finish it so we can take our turns. I'm not a big fan of the direction the storyline has taken, but I'm also not one to spout off opinions unless I have read the book for myself.

One article contemplated whether or not the negative reaction to Breaking Dawn would translate into poor ticket sales for the movie of Twilight set to arrive on screens this fall. I sort of doubt it. Most of these young girls are pretty forgiving and they long to see Bella, Edward and Jacob on the big screen. I'll most likely go see the movie just to see if the director 'fixes' a few of the problems I had with the characters. Characters do change when they are translated from book to film and I wouldn't be suprised to see Bella get some much needed backbone.

I will post again after I've read the book.

Monday, August 4, 2008

a week from today

School starts next Monday. Even though the Summer season lasts into September, for all real purposes, it is over on that day.

This summer was different. We were incredibly busy. In the past I've always guarded against over scheduling the kids. This summer, the schedule filled up before I even got the calendar and red pen out. It just happened, sort of like the sun rising in the morning. I had no control.

And as the oldest enters high school, my control over her schedule is evaporating. Soccer controls all for her right now. The other two kids' schedules are a bit more in hand still. But, the days are coming for them as well. The middle kid has soccer and the teen board at the library. The youngest has cub scouts and trying to stay on the straight and narrow path at school.

So, what do we do to squeeze the last bit of summer fun out of the next 7 days? The kids have been begging for a McDonald's run. I figure a movie is in line as well. Maybe a swim or two. Some evening strolls sound good. Simple things. Slow things.

Because come August 11, I need to put my running shoes on and gas up the van.

Friday, August 1, 2008

changing times

The library director forwarded an email from our state library association. The email discussed the trend to include video games in the collection as a way to reach out to the YA crowd. Now, when I was the YA person, we'd had video games at a few events, I think they were Harry Potter games and tied into the event's theme which was Harry Potter! I never planned an event based solely around gaming, but articles in the journals I read started to suggest this as a way to get the teens in the door besides when they had a required reading assignment.

My successor held a guitar hero contest last spring. Best attended YA event the library ever had. She stopped counting at 140 kids. Amazing turnout and we both realized that the vast majority of kids neither of us had ever seen before. It brought them out in droves.

Spurred on by this huge success she applied for a local grant to purchase games, a system and a flat screen tv. The grant request was denied. First time a library request was given the thumbs down by this group.

I hope her next move is to approach the Friends about giving her the money for this. Now we just have to convince them it is a good idea. Hard to change minds sometimes about the evolving nature of a public/community library. Long gone are the quiet days of scowling librarians 'shushing' everyone in sight.

What follows is a brief bit of the email the director sent me.

"To our surprise, the video game trend is endorsed by the Chicago-based American Library Association, which recently got a $1 million grant from the Verizon Foundation to develop a national model for library gaming. Eighty percent of public libraries allow video games on their computers, according to a 2007 Syracuse University study, and 13 percent have separate game stations such as Nintendo, Wii or Xbox.Libraries are no longer just about literacy, if they ever were. They've evolved into social and recreational centers that mirror the communities they serve. Large- type and audio books for aging Boomers. Computer literacy lessons for seniors. Free wi-fi for students. Multi-lingual resources for immigrants. Cultural enrichment courses for everyone. The video games are targeted at the hard-to-reach young adult demographic that is too busy or distracted (temporarily, we hope) for things like books and newspapers."

On another front, one of the blogs I visited on a very regular basis has gone dark. Dwight Wannabe has hung up the blogging towel. Dwight is a talented blogger and writer. I don't attempt to make my blog anything like what he served up on a daily basis. His presence will be missed.