Monday, October 31, 2011

Results from "Hermit Weekend" and I won!

No need to get excited (not that you were).  I didn't win because of talent.  I won because of a random number generator.  I get a full manuscript edit and critique!  Isn't that awesome?  I was just looking into professional edit pricing and deciding I couldn't afford it. 
The person having the contest is Rachel Bateman and she asked for suggestions for spooky movie/book/television show.  So, all I did was offer a suggestion to watch "The Others" with Nicole Kidman.  I always liked it because it was one of the few times I actually jerked my head back in my seat at the theater because I was so scared.

But still, I won!  yeah!  I feel slightly embarassed, she didn't require a "follow" or tweet, or that I mention it here.  So I am mentioning it now.  http://www.rachelbateman.com/.  Check it out.  And maybe we can sweep the fact that I'm her newest follower under the rug...

As for my "Hermit Weekend"?  I ended up with ten pages and the realization that I'm not cut out for NaNoWriMo.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Halloween Tale for you

“Those things creep me out,” Alex said as he sat up. I wasn’t hearing him, too distressed by the jarring halt to our intimacy and the loss of his warmth. He clicked on the bedside lamp as he pulled on his boxers.

I ogled his backside, I’d earned the right. We were newlyweds, married less than a month when Aunt Bess passed on. She’d left us the house, an old green and red victorian on Orange Grove Boulevard. It sounded nicer than it actually was. Aunt Bess was somewhere between a pack rat and a hoarder. We’d spent a solid week hauling away enough of her stuff to be able to move through the house without having to climb or trip over something.

It was our first night sleeping in the house. I couldn’t bring myself to sleep in Auntie’s room so we were in the least cluttered of the five guest bedrooms. It was the room Auntie used to keep her antique doll collection.

They were kind of creepy, I’d give Alex that. They had eyes that seemed to follow you around the room. And their expressions were so adult--no innocence in their faces. I kept the fact that most of the dolls had human hair and teeth to myself. Alex didn’t need to hear that. I laughed as I watched Alex turn all the dolls around so they wouldn’t bear witness to our lovemaking with their glass eyes.

“Ow!” Alex jumped.

“What?”

“This one-– it bit me!” He pointed to an exquisite blonde French Bebe doll in a red velvet dress.

“Don’t be silly,” I laughed, as I sat up.

“No seriously. Look.” He held out his hand for inspection. Sure enough, there were little teeth-like marks in a half circle pattern between his thumb and index finger.

“A rat?” I guessed, even though the pattern of the marks didn’t make sense. “Maybe you should get a tetanus shot.”

“For this?” Alex scoffed, his machismo making a reappearance. Still he grabbed the offending doll and put her outside the door before climbing back under the comforter. I huddled against him, my human hot water bottle, but his skin was unusually cool. Maybe he was coming down with something. I made a mental note to force him to the doctor in the morning.

A sliver of sunlight hit me directly in the face, forcing me awake. The alarm clock had failed to go off. I nudged an elbow into Alex’s shoulder blades before getting up, pulling open the heavy damask curtains.

“Alex?” He hadn’t moved. “You’re going to be late.” I went over and kissed his shoulder, gasping at the cold skin against my lips. He fell backwards, his face bluish-grey, his eyes unseeing. My eyes darted to the ring of small bruises around his neck; almost as if he’d been choked by a child’s hand.

That is when I saw her, the red velvet doll. She was back in the room and she was smiling.

Hollywood East

So I got bored.  Hermit Weekend is kind of a bust.

And since tomorrow is Halloween, I went in search of the Mike Myers home.  I hope you dear readers know that Fairview is a made-up name for the place I reside.  It isn't actually called that.  Some people call this place East Hollywood since a lot of films get shot here.  And why not?  Fairview is lovely.
The Gamble House photos that I showed you?  That house doubled as Doc Brown's 1955 mansion in "Back To the Future."

And "Halloween" the 1978 film was shot mostly in Fairview.  Here is Mike Myers' home in the film:

I know the house to the right of it as well.  They aren't next to each other anymore.  Apparently the Myers  house was moved to another location about four blocks away.






Here it is as of two hours ago.  There were bunches of other "Halloween" fans out taking photos.  It is now an office building and there are several businesses working out of the house.  They spruced it up quite a bit.

And since I was on this kick, I went over to the Rialto.  The Rialto theater was featured prominently in the movie "The Player" because Robert Altman lived in the area.



















Sadly, this theater is condemned.  I think they're trying to preserve it but this is what it looks like as of two hours ago:




































I went a few times in the '90s.  The restrooms were in need of serious overhaul.  And the main problem is there isn't any parking.  Still, it was majorly creepy back then, and now, well, it is the perfect setting for Halloween.

Saturday's efforts

Here are the results of total seclusion.  Very depressing.

11:21 on the computer (stayed up til 4 a.m. the previous night playing stupid computer game)
12:05 finish game of  Mah Jong Kong

1:40 ten words. Lunchtime.

2:33 138 words. Yeah, half a page.  And 600 words for some silly 500 word contest for Halloween. Will cut back tomorrow. How come I can whip those words out quickly and yet the other work is so difficult?

3:12 390 words.  A page and a quarter

4:45 641 words.  Two pages and some

5:55 928 words.  Real progress.  Almost four pages of brilliance (not).  Dinner calls.

12:47 am 1659 words.  Almost seven pages.  Time for bed. 

And I wanted to get to twenty pages today.  Yeah, that is an impossibility.  This writing stuff is hard.  Hmm, maybe I'd better do some laundry tomorrow.  I need some clean clothes next week...

Friday, October 28, 2011

Hermit Weekend

  • I owe 50 pages to critique partner on Tuesday.  (Book 2)
  • I owe 30 pages to my writer's group on Sunday night (book 1 - rewrite)
  • I owe 15 pages to my other writer's group by the following Sunday. (book 2)

I've decided I'm going to the grocery store tonight, stocking up on supplies & caffeine, and then I am not leaving the house this weekend until it is done.

I will limit my internet access to once every 3 hours.

I will forgo laundry (ha, like that is a hardship).

If you see me online - tell me to stop wasting time!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Gamble House

This home is near the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.  It was built by famous Architects Greene and Greene for the Gamble family (as in Proctor and Gamble).  It is famous for the craftman style architecture.  Cousin from Hawaii went on a special 3-hour woodworker's tour.

Just snapped a few photos while we waited to pick him up.








The front door.  Gorgeous stained glass.



























Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Cousin's Visit

Cousin and her husband are here visiting from Hawaii.  Last night we went to Gaja Moc for dinner. 
I think I've blogged about this place before.  It is one of only a handful of restaurants that serve Okonomiyaki.  What is Okonomiyaki?  According to wikipedia it is a Japanese savoury pancake containing a variety of ingredients.


There is a big grill in the middle of each table and they cook it in front of you:





Here is the okonomiyaki being cooked at our table.













This is what it looks like when it is done.  A Japanese Pizza.

I forgot to take a picture of the blueberry beer...










And since we were staring at this all night, we had to have the Deluxe Japanese Parfait (the second from the left, bottom row)












And this too.  The strawberry shaved ice.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Magi by Kevin M. Turner

A kind author who contacted me for a review.  Again, not a genre I review but I figure I'd put a blurb up about it (you know, the pay it forward thing).  Here is the description from amazon.com:

Thirteen-year-old Elijah Hawk has never heard of the Magi. He knows nothing about their three thousand-year-old secret. He has never been to Savenridge, the Magi city hidden deep inside the northern woods. Most of all, Elijah is unaware of the dangers hunting him.
After one terrifying night, however, all of that changes!

On a quest to solve the horrific murder of his parents, Elijah stumbles upon the land of the Magi. Learning their ancient secrets and training with their power is the least of his problems. In order to find out why his parents were killed, Elijah learns that he must confront the dangers that are hunting him, even though it means almost certain death. What's more terrifying is discovering that his journey to this new world may not have been an accident after all.
 
 
 
Also, the author has the prologue and the first five chapters up on his blog if you'd like to read a sample:
 
http://themagiseries.blogspot.com/p/magi.html
 
I believe the book is available in all electronic formats as well as hard copies.  Check it out if this sounds like your kind of reading!
 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Montrose Farmer's Market


Today I went to Montrose. I had to pick something up but when I got to the store, they didn't have it ready. I had time to kill so I went across the street to the farmer's market.  It was a nice cool day so it was perfect for strolling.











Strawberries are in season.  Eight dollars for a box (three baskets).


Some musical entertainment as we strolled the market. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
A nice display of squashes/pumpkins for Halloween (although I would have preferred to have removed the saran wrap).
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Delicious-smelling chickens roasting.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Another flash fiction contest - Janet Reid

Since I'm enjoying these flash fiction contests so much, I tried another one.  This one has a Halloween theme to it:

Here are the parameters:

Write a Halloween themed story using 100 words or fewer.  Use these words in the story:
 UNFORSAKEN

DEADLY

WITCH

GHOST

DECAY

SLAY

Bonus points if you also use the word: Insalubrious

And here's my entry:
---------------------------------

“Who did Dracula take to the prom?” The paisley print sheet with eye-holes stands at the door, treat bag open.
 Like I didn’t remember the purple ghost from the last two times.

“His ghoulfriend!”

“You slay me.” I try not to sound like that which rhymes with witch.

I console myself, knowing the insalubrious treats will result in tooth decay.

I’ve had enough of precious, unforsaken tots. I am turning off the porch light when a werewolf wanna-be approaches. He’s too old for trick-or-treating. I pretend not to notice his leer as he follows me inside.

My deadly fangs unfurl.

--------------------------------------------



Here is the link if you want to read the other entries.  No voting or anything this time.  Just sharing.
http://jetreidliterary.blogspot.com/2011/10/most-terrifying-contest-ever.html

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Book Review - His Eyes

Due to back injury, I couldn't do much except read and watch TV.  Here is one of the books I read:  His Eyes by Renee Carter.

Amy is a high school senior about to graduate.  She needs a job for the summer and answers an ad for baby sitting.  Turns out the "baby" is Tristan, a senior also who was recently in a horse-jumping accident and is blind.

Tristan is totally hot, goes to the elite college prep and his family is very wealthy.  Amy goes to the public school, her parents are ex-hippies, and they are definitely working class. 

The story is cute cute cute. It is all about, well, you know, the romance.  How Amy gets Tristan out of his shell, and Tristan "sees" Amy's beauty.  And Tristan has a shallow ex-girlfriend named Lexus? hilarious.

The language is great to.  Exactly how I imagine a teenager would think and speak.

If there is one quibble, it is that it was short.  A novella, really.  And the e-book wasn't that cheap.  I guess it is relative, but I'm used to whole length novels for $0.99 so the $5.50 price point for this was too high (in my humble opinion).

So because of the length of the work compared to the price, I'm giving it 4 stars = I liked it but you might not.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Third Campaigner Challenge

The post below is my entry for the third campaigner challenge.  Here are the parameters:

Write a blog post in 300 words or less, excluding the title. The post can be in any format, whether flash fiction, non-fiction, humorous blog musings, poem, etc. The blog post should show:


that it’s morning,

that a man or a woman (or both) is at the beach

that the MC (main character) is bored

that something stinks behind where he/she is sitting

that something surprising happens.


Just for fun, see if you can involve all five senses AND include these random words: "synbatec," "wastopaneer," and "tacise." (NB. these words are completely made up and are not intended to have any meaning other than the one you give them).

Since I was having so much fun with the second entry, I decided to continue on with the same characters.  The guy is Alex (I think I named him), the Girl is Lily.  I don't think I ever mention her name but she's Lily to me regardless. 
 
IF YOU LIKE IT, PLEASE VOTE FOR ME?  I'M NUMBER 52 THIS TIME AT THE BELOW LINK:
 
http://rachaelharrie.blogspot.com/2011/10/third-campaigner-challenge-show-not.html

The Further Adventures of Alex and Lily

The paradise in the poster called to her. The pristine sand, cerulean water, and whitewashed buildings drew her into the travel agency. She could taste the salt water in the air as she plunked down her credit card.  

She should have known it was too good to be true. The poster left out the ‘No swimming, strong undertow’ sign. The sand was gravel; it hurt to walk barefoot. And the whitewashed walls were graffiti-ed. But the worst was the stench. The open-air market next to the ‘resort’ cured fish.

The sour-rotten smell permeated everything like a gaseous fog. The thought of breakfast was nauseating, so she ended up at the un-swimmable beach. She should have brought her laptop so she’d have something to do.

“Got ta-cise shum extracise.” Alex’s baritone voice sent tingles of awareness shooting through her. That he was awake at this hour surprised her. More likely, he hadn't been to bed yet. She sat up, pulling her bikini straps into place. Who was she kidding? There wasn't enough sun to burn an albino.

She chuckled at Alex’s appearance; two days’ worth of stubble, swim trunks and a tattered T-shirt. Nothing was going to disguise his hotness, but no one would believe he was CEO of computing giant Synbatec.

He flopped down on her chaise lounge, handing her three crushed drink umbrellas, puckering his lips for a kiss. She pulled away, half-heartedly slapping at his wandering hands.

"Wastopaneer," he grumbled, then nipped at her earlobe teasingly.

“Beaut-ageous,” he sighed, wrapping his arms around her from behind. She sank into his warmth, listening to his drunk mutterings and the crash of the waves on the shore.

She realized then she had it all wrong. She was in paradise. Here next to Alex. She smiled as he started to snore.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Pay It Forward 2 - India Was One

Here is another author looking for a review and some publicity. 

This the blurb from Amazon.com:

...Suddenly, he saw something shiny at the bottom of the abyss. He squinted his eyes to see what it was. He ran back to his binoculars and turned them to see what it was. Sharp barbed wires that separated the two mountains came into focus. He had come as far as he could in his country. But she was standing in another country. He was in South India and she was in North India... Have you ever imagined India being divided into two countries? What happens to the millions of Indians who are from South India but are now residing in North India? Kaahi & Jai were two such people who got trapped in this situation. Everything was going smoothly for them and suddenly, their world turned upside down. How will they get together? Will India become one again? Take an exciting journey with them from their college days in Mumbai to their life in the US and back to India when they find out that India is divided. IndiaWasOne.com

And here is the website which will link you to wherever you want to purchase it
www.IndiaWasOne.com

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Bing Translator

My Uncle who is in his eighties sent me an e-mail.  Unfortunately, it is in Japanese so I used the Bing Translator function.  This is what came back.  I thought this was hilarious so I thought I'd share it with you.

Guests May

What's new without spending writings.  Though here it is.  Say thank you to late had mail has reached.  It is by boat up the Mississippi out somehow too a Genki.  In the pupil's Mr. and Mrs. regards your telling.  Your Uncle.
Mississippi? lol.  If I figure out what it actually says, I will let you know.

The Jinx - Not A Review

This is a "pay it forward" as I am a writer too and hopefully, when I've got a book to promote, someone will do the same for me?

The Jinx by D.F. Lamont.  This is the blurb I was sent:

It’s the story of Stephen Grayson, a 13-year old whose run of bad luck gets so bad he worries he is endangering his family. Fearing he is cursed - or is turning into a supervillain - he flees home to protect his loved ones, only to find that he is in the middle of a tug-of war between a cult obsessed with order and misshapen monsters known as “Chaons” who seem bent on hunting him down. It's a fun story for kids aged 8-13, and anyone who loves YA books and suspense.


Nice author contacted me about doing a review.  But it sounds a little young for me.  I think it is more middle grade than Y.A.?  So I declined again, but said I'd put up something for you folks.
Here is a link to read the first chapter and purchase:

http://thejinxbook.tumblr.com/


Anyway, if anybody has a female-oriented YA book (i.e. it has to have some kind of romance element in it)  they want reviewed, send it my way!

Best Laid Plans

This weekend I was going to make a nice and tidy little writing/home office area.  Well, I got up early Saturday morning and started on it first thing.  I cleared away some boxes of posters, stuffing them in the closet.  Then I decided to put a box of dolls (yes, dolls) onto the upper shelf in the closet.  That is when I got this snapping pain in my lower back.  It was so bad, I dropped my box of dolls.

That was the end of my tidying/clutter reducing project. 

I am now smothered in ben gay and other menthol rubs.  My cats won't come within 10 feet of me. 

Interesting to note - everything I've read says lying down doesn't really help.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Messy

I have a goal this weekend - set up/organize the home office.

Yeah, it kinda looks like this (but this is just a photo I found off the internet).  I had a yard sale a few years ago so I got rid of the printers from the 1980s, but still, it is kind of a dumping ground.

I am going to try to make it functional this weekend.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Miss Snark's First Victim - loglines

Miss Snark's First Victim (MSFV) is having a big agent's auction and in preparation, she's had three rounds of logline critiques.  Logline is 100 words or less telling what your story is about.  I figured I'd try to get in (it is a lottery system).  I hadn't written anything so I missed the first round.  I tried the second round but was not picked.  I totally recognized a friend's logline though.  Ha, see, I've been paying attention at all the various critique groups I go to. 

But this third and final round, I finally got picked!  Longtime followers will know which one I am.  Anyway, I learned a lot from the critiques I got and from critiquing the others.  Yeah, I totally see where I'm going wrong. 

It would be good to go and visit and read all the loglines and critiques of each if you're trying to figure out how to write one (like I am).  I think if you stick this logline in your query letter you're halfway home.  I'm amazed at how I can write 75,000 words, but can't write 100 to tell you what its about.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Nara Deer Park

I want to urge you to visit this blog:

http://narastoryteller.blogspot.com/2011/10/necessary-evil.html

It is also one of the blogs I follow and is listed on the right hand side of mine called "One Time One Meeting."  It is one of the 'Daily Photo' blog network of bloggers who take and post photos of their hometown on a regular basis.

'Snow White' lives in Nara, Japan, which is famous for their Deer Park and Giant Buddha. 
Her photos are so beautiful and today she captures an event at the Deer Park that I doubt many people have seen.

I went on a tour of Nara a few years ago.  My photos are not in the same league as 'Snow White's'  But here are a few:

I love the juxtaposition of the high school kids and the deer roaming around.  The school uniforms make me think of Manga!

The kids were there to see the Buddha.















The deer are so docile, and pose for photos.

You can buy crackers to feed the deer but don't do it in an area where there are a ton of deer. You'll be surrounded by hundreds of deer who know the sound or smell of the crackers.  It can be kind of scarey!

But Snow White says the deer depend on the crackers during the winter months especially, so I take back what I said about not feeding them.  Feed them, please!

The deer have learned to bow for crackers also, bobbing their heads up and down, begging for crackers.

Here is a video I found on youtube of the bowing deer:

Monday, October 10, 2011

My Asian Crisp Sarnie

I have an awesome Critique Partner #1.  We exchange 50 pages once a month.  I really enjoy reading her work.  The only trouble is, she lives in the U.K. so sometimes we have a language issues.  She takes the time to write up a glossary of terms each time.  I, being the ugly American, forget to do it...  Anyway, this month's submission described a Crisp Sarnie with a splash of Tommy K sauce.  It was obviously something to eat and it sounded mouthwateringly delicious.  Too bad I had no idea what it was.


I looked it up on google.  Turns out it is a potato chip sandwich and Tommy K sauce is ketchup.  I'd never heard of such a thing?!  Fast food stores (similar to 7-eleven) sell Crisp Sarnies! 4 triangular slices of bread and a separate pack of chips in a box.

I had to try it.  I  don't keep any of the items on-hand.  I had no ketchup, no white bread, and no chips in the house.  So I drove to the nearest market, which was a little Asian grocery store. Japan and the U.K. both measure in grams and liters.  Figured there are some similarities.  Here are the chips/crisps I got.    I think the "Rich" cut is supposed to be "Ridge Cut"  as in "Ruffles have ridges".  I was advised to get flavored crisps.  So these are sour cream and onion.















Bread I got:


I've had pastries from this Asian bakery before.  They make a nice onion-cheese bread.  I had this sour cream thing from there as well.  I'd avoid it.  It was basically a loaf with 1 inch cubes of sour cream mixed in.

Anyway, the bread today was fresh baked.  yummy.  I buttered the bread because I think I read that was what you're supposed to do.  Then I piled on the chips.  I read you're supposed to put 30 chips on the bread.  I got 15 on there.





















Next came the Tommy K sauce.  I assumed this was ketchup because of the tomato pattern.  I later realized it did say ketchup. 






















Ta-Dah! 

It wasn't bad tasting either.  I think CP#1 said it is best with bacon-flavored crisps, but I couldn't find any at the Asian Market.  I poured myself a diet coke (or coke lite as they call it in Mexico) which was the perfect compliment to the saltiness of the sandwhich.

Next I will tackle the Banoffee pie.  Yeah, maybe Thanksgiving.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Review - A Certain Slant of Light

I bought this book because I read this article saying that Summit Entertainment had optioned the book and is making it into a movie.  They also said this was the next "Twilight."

This book is not about glittery vampires, but ghosts.
Helen is 130 years old and clings from host to host.
By host, she means that she travels with them.  If she gets too far away from them, she starts to feel herself sinking back into the darkness of mud, water, ice.  She isn't evil, content to observe and inspire.

Her current host is Mr. Brown, an English High School teacher.  One day, a boy, Billy comes into Mr. Brown's classroom after a long absence, and he can see her and and hear her.

This book was a good quick read.  I can totally see why Summit bought it.  It will translate very well to the screen.  Also, the plot and pacing move along quite nicely and the ending makes a lot of sense, for the most part.  And I liked that it wasn't part of a 12-book series.  Seriously, I don't know how there could have been a sequel.  And there are tons of comments about the sex on Amazon's reviews so I'm not giving anything away.  There's sex, quite a bit for a YA book.

But is it really YA?  Helen is 130 years old and was a wife and mother when she died.  Her love interest is also an old soul.  And the way she speaks/thinks is adult. 

I liked this book very much but if I had a nit-pick - it was kind of an instant, or should I say, only choice romance.  There wasn't much development of the love story.  It was more that they were looking for someone to connect to for so long that when Helen's love interest shows up, it was kind of instantaneous.

Is it the next "Twilight"?  I don't think so.  I was missing the sense of yearning, longing, desire that Bella has for Edward.  It was something most of us can identify with. 


There isn't the rabid demand for the book like for Twilight.  Or, at least that I can tell.  Nobody has midnight release parties anymore.  I don't see Team James, Team Billy sites on the internet. Maybe that is still to come. 

The article I read said that 'Ghosts are the new Vampires'.  I don't think so.  At least not yet.

Regardless I give it 5 stars - Liked it and recommend it.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Eighth Dwarf

A week or so ago, I was marveling at the coincidences of running into things related to the Santiago del Compostela.  Well today it seems it is all about that 8th Dwarf.  I got a request to review a book (see my previous post) and then I was just checking in on all the blogs I follow and I came across this on Existential Ennui: Eighth Dwarf by Ross Thomas.

http://existentialennui.blogspot.com/2011/10/eighth-dwarf-by-ross-thomas-review.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ExistentialEnnui+%28Existential+Ennui%29&utm_content=Google+Reader

I thought they were the same book for a half a second

Hmm, I marveled in my earlier post about how these little coincidences happen in threes.  So I've come across the 8th Dwarf twice now.  Awaiting the third appearance of the eighth dwarf.

8 - Not a Review

Today I got a request for a review of this book.
"8: The Previously Untold Story of the Previously Unknown 8th Dwarf"

Here is the blurb I was sent:

Written in verse and just 2,200 words, 8 is the story of Creepy, who is banished to the cottage basement for being different. From there, he affects the plot of the original fairy tale when Snow White (an intruder Creepy refers to as "The Maid") happens upon their dwelling.

It's Tim Burton meets Wicked in a tale with heart reviewers have called "superb", "clever" and "charming". The theme of being ostracized for being different is crafted to appeal to tween, teen and up.
 
 
 
Well, I don't read a lot of verse.  In fact, I don't read any verse.  So I didn't think I could even begin to review it.  I told the author this and he understood.
 
But I was flattered that he reached out so I figured it couldn't hurt to at least put up his blurb and a photo.  Oh and you can get it wherever e-books are sold.  Here is a link:
 
http://www.amazon.com/8-ebook/dp/B004BLJ9R4/




This got me thinking, though.  When I buy a book and read it, I feel totally within my rights to give a book a lower rating if I don't like it.  Now, I wonder if I can be as objective if I get a book for free or if I have had contact with the author?
 
When I was in the film industry, I used to see a lot of movies for free.  And I noticed I tended to enjoy a movie more if it was free than if I paid to see a movie. Same theory applies here, I think.
 
Plus I would feel really bad giving a bad review to an author who reached out.  I'd probably offer them the option to not post my review and just write it up. 
 
To anyone who reviews books, how do you handle?

Writers Group Last Night

I had writers group last night and it was my turn.  This is the group I'd been debating quiting because I am the only one who writes YA, and there are 10 of us and we have to critique 30 pages a week and on your turn, you submit 15 pages and get feedback from 9 other people.
It is a lot of work and when my turn came last month, only 5 other people showed up so I felt short-changed (having diligently critiqued everybody's work).

Anyway, this time, there were 6 who showed up so I did a little better this month.  But I honestly, never had so much fun at group before.  A bombshell - they had to point out to me that one of my characters is gay.  Who knew?! I see it, totally, though. And they were going off on tangents, asking me to put in a 'hot' police officer etc.  Wildly off-tangent but loads of fun.

I think the attitude I need to take is not be so serious about this.  I'm never going to be Jane Austen but maybe I can make some people laugh or at least laugh at myself.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What supporting character from a YA book would you most like to see star in their own novel?

I know there has to be more than just me that loved the Twilight Books.  Even though most people won't admit it these days.  Especially aspiring writers.  But I loved Twilight.  And I think Alice was my favorite character.  The folks at YA Highway have asked, what character from a YA book would you most like to see star in their own novel?  My answer would be Alice.  She had a little bit of a backstory in the Twilight books but I'd love to see the whole thing and how she and Jasper came to be together.

Orbs La Purisima Mission

In keeping with the Halloween theme, here is another picture with an Orb in it. 

I cropped the photo in a weird place to protect the innocent.  But the orb is right on the stomach.  Some say these orbs are spirits.  Others say its just dust motes. 

This was taken at La Purisma Mission in Lompoc California, which is long rumored to be haunted.

And yes, when I was there, I did get the heebie-jeebies.  In fact, I believe everyone in my group felt the same.  We got there about an hour before sunset and we all wanted to leave before it got dark.

So what is your opinion on these orbs.  Do you get them in your photos too? 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Scarecrow








































I took this photo at Tallac Estates in Lake Tahoe.  I didn't think about it until now but it is kind of creepy, isn't it?  I think it is the woods in the background.  And maybe because there isn't anything growing.  And that pile of rocks there in front?  What is that? 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Vanish - Review

After reading Firelight by Sophie Jordan, I had to immediately get Vanish, which is the second book in the series.  Vanish is the continuing story of Jacinda who is a 'Draki' - a dragon who can shift into human form.  Jacinda was special amongst her Draki kind because she was a firebreather.  

You can read about Firelight in an earlier post.  Anyway, at the end of that book and the beginning of this one, Jacinda, her twin sister Tamra, and their mom have been recaptured and returned to the 'pride'.  Tamra has never morphed into a dragon and everyone thought she was a genetic defect, never going to turn Draki.  Well, in a moment of terror from being chased, she morphs into another special kind of dragon, one that has mind controlling powers, a sort of psychic dragon.  

So all of a sudden, her hair turns whitish blonde.  (That's her on the cover).  And while her talent is not as rare as Jacinda's (there is one other with her talent), she is now as highly regarded as Jacinda used to be.  

Jacinda returns to the pride in disgrace and almost gets her wings clipped.  It is only the intervention of Cassian (the Draki who was supposed to be her mate) that saves her.  Now Tamra has always been in love with Cassian but he never gave her the time of day.  Now that she's special, will  Cassian change?  And Jacinda is still in love with the human (and dragon hunter) Will.  

Yes, the author is still awfully good at writing smoulder, longing, and kissing scenes.  Turns out she writes historical romances too.  No wonder. . .  And the plotting is very good.  And I love the two sisters.

But its a cliffhanger ending again, and the third book isn't out.  Won't be out until next year, I'm thinking.  I hate cliffhangers.

But I gotta give it five stars again - Liked it and recommend it.



 

Halloween Blog Design

Decided to change it up for Halloween. I'd been using the template thing from Blogger but since joining the campaigner challenge, notice everybody else's blogs were cool and customized so I searched around and found some cute templates. This one is from 'The cutest blog on the block' or something. check it it out. Although I can't seem to get the color quite right. Oh well, my learning is slow. No more boring blog (at least design-wise).

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Lola and the Boy Next Door - Review

If you have followed my blog, you know what a huge fan I am of Stephanie Perkins' writing.  I love, love, love Anna and French Kiss, her first book.  I have a link to her blog on the right, here.  I had her countdown gadget on the right as well, until, um, things started to get crowded on the page.

So you know I am pre-disposed to loving her 2nd book "Lola and the Boy Next Door,"  and you know I literally downloaded the book the minute it came out.

So I really thought this through carefully when I say I didn't like the new book.  I didn't know why for a while so that is why I didn't post a rave review like I was meaning to right after I read the thing.

The characters are quirky, which I understand is the author's 'thing'.  Lola likes dressing up in costumes.  Not really into fashion, but into costume.  She has a gazillion wigs and such, and is working on a Marie Antoinette dress complete with towering wig and combat boots to wear to Winter Formal.

Her parents are Andy and Nathan, two gay men who adopted Nathan's drug-addicted sister's baby.  The San Francisco setting is starting to make sense.  Plus Etienne and Cricket are going to Berkeley...

17-year-old Lola has a older boyfriend Max (22) who is a meter-reader by day, a rock musician by night.  Lola's parents hate Max.  Next door neighbors Cricket and his twin Calliope move back after two years away.  Lola had always had a thing for Cricket but something happened right before they left that has Lola angry at him.

Sounds delightful, doesn't it?  It should be.  But it isn't.  Why?  I think mainly because I couldn't identify with Lola.  Granted her parents are very strict, asking for her to call in every hour.  But I couldn't get over her lying and deceit to be with Max.  I keep feeling like Lola could have been more open about when she was with Max.   Plus, there isn't any real chemistry between the two.  I couldn't understand why she's with him.  Yeah, there are some passages about Max's coolness but they sound rather shallow.

Now along comes Cricket and you know they belong together - hello - that's them on the cover.
But it takes forever for our gal to realize it. So long, in fact, that you want to shake her and say "wake up!" And then there's the breaking up with Max that has to happen and Lola being all wishy-washy about it. 

SPOILER BELOW:




The pages I wanted were like the last five( on my kindle).  They were sweet, it was just it took so long and by the time they happened, it was kind of anti-climactic. 
Oh- Anna and Etienne show up! Hurrah! And they're in a lot of the book! Hurrah!  But they don't have the same heat they did before. 





OKAY GOOD TO READ AGAIN

I really, really wanted to like the book.  Heck, I aspire to write like Stephanie Perkins.  I still do.  I just think this is sophomore slump or something.  I'll still get the next one, I will.  I just can't recommend this one with five stars. 

I give it three stars - I liked it more than I didn't like it.