Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The perfect day

I am reading "On Writing" by Stephen King.  And was inspired by his writing a thousand words everyday - every single day.  So I figured I would try to get into a routine.  Yesterday, Monday was the perfect day. 

I got up at 5:30am.  Yes, it is way too early for me.  But I stumbled to the computer and wrote.  Didn't brush my teeth, didn't change my clothes, didn't get coffee.  No.  Butt in chair, and edited until 7:30am.

At lunchtime I went to the gym for an hour!

Monday, January 30, 2012

wild lupine

Bueller! Bueller!

OMG, this is hilarious if you've ever seen "Ferris Bueller's Day Off".   Can't believe it is a commercial.

Friday, January 27, 2012

These are some kind of chestnut, aren't they?  Not up on my botany....  They just look interesting.

Happy Friday!

Been feeling poorly and neglecting the poor blog.  Here is a fountain I passed by at lunch today.  80 degrees today.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Book Review - Forbidden Mind by Kimberly Kinrade

Here is a description from Amazon:

**Winner of 2011 Forward National Literature Award**
Sam thinks she's months away from freedom. After spending her life in a secret school, rented out to the rich and powerful as a paranormal spy, she is ready to head to college like any normal eighteen-year-old.
Only Sam isn't normal. She reads minds. And just before her big going-away party, she links to the mind of a young man who changes everything.
Drake wasn't raised as a 'Rent-A-Kid.' He was kidnapped and taken there by force. But his exceptional physical strength and powers of mind control make him very dangerous, especially to Sam.
When they meet, Sam is forced to face the truth of her situation, and to acknowledge that not all is as it seems in her picture-perfect world. For what awaits her on her eighteenth birthday isn't a trip to college, but an unexpected nightmare from which she may not be able to escape.
To survive, they must work together.
But will their powers be enough to save them before it's too late?

What I liked
Fast paced action and easy, spare writing style.  It was 134 pages--  read it in one sitting.  The story started right away and kept on going without any long dragged-out bits.

The World.  Kind of reminded me of the world of Maximum Ride if you've read this series.  Instead of kids who can fly, it is kids who have psychic powers.

What I didn't like
The characters are not well-flushed out. It felt like the author sacrificed description in favor of moving the plot along.  I understand why - it makes for a smoother read but you end up with characters you can't really identify with/care about. I particularly had issue with the instant-love bond of Sam and Drake. 

Something is done to the main character, Sam, that she doesn't figure out until halfway through the book?  Seems very implausible, especially with her mind-reading abilities.

Believability - I had some issues with how clueless the main character as well as some of the supporting characters were and that they hadn't figured it out before then. 

The non-resolution.  The book ends before anything is resolved.


It was entertaining and I liked reading it.  I'm giving it three stars - I liked it more than I didn't like it.

Note:  I received a e-book copy from the author  in exchange for this review

Happy Chinese New Year!

Today is Chinese New Year.  The year of the dragon!

Out of commission

Pretty much out of commission this past week.  Here's a photo from the archives. At our local library.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wednesday 1-18 ROW80 check-in

I failed at everything.  No writing, no exercising, no reviewing, no eating healthy.  I had a headache that started Sunday and I basically still have it.  I took medication on Sunday but refuse to take any more.  So I stumble through work and then get in bed.  That's it.  It gets a little better each day but I'm still not 100%. 

My mother used to suffer from migraines.  She'd always try to figure out what caused them.  Shellfish, too much sun, too much caffeine? not enough caffeine? not enough food, too much food?  Who knows?  Now I'm playing the same guessing game.

Way to make me feel better

On Sunday I got a really bad headache.  I spent the day in bed, just trying to make the headache go away.  I took some exedrine migrane which helped but I could still feel the headache still there waiting for the drugs to wear off.

On Monday I went to work, even though the headache was there.  It was not as bad but I didn't want to take any more medicine.

Tuesday, It was still there.  Seriously, a headache that lasts three days?

Anyway, I had a project that needed finishing so I stayed late.  I was feeling pretty sorry for myself.  But I went home and there was a package waiting for me in the mail.  It was from my AWESOME Critique partner.  A journal and a note.  Look at the cute card.

Turns out my CP has one for herself and sent this and four more to her circle of friends.  She's also set up a drop box so we can upload and share our pages with each other.  Isn't this just the best idea ever?
Headache forgotten!

I'll be sharing some of the pages I've done here as well.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Robinson Memorial

Jackie Robinson (1/31/19 to 1/24/72) was the first African American to play in Major League Baseball in the modern era.

Mack Robinson (7/18/14 to 3/12/00) was noted for his silver medal in the 200 m. dash, 0.4 seconds after Jesse Owens at the Berlin Olympics in 1936.

curiously, there are images engraved on the back of each.

Jackie's has what looks like a crossword puzzle.

Mack's has an image of an olympic arena.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Book Review - Rae Of Hope by W.J. May

Here is the synopsis from Amazon:

How hard do you have to shake a family tree to find out the truth about the past? Fifteen-year-old Rae Kerrigan never questioned her family’s history. That is until she accepted a scholarship to Guilder Boarding School in England. Guilder is an exclusive, gifted school. Rae has no idea what she is getting herself into or that her family’s past is going to come back and taunt her. She learns she is part of an unparalleled group of individuals who become inked with a unique tattoo (tatu) on their sixteenth birthday. The tatu enables them to have supernatural powers particular to the shape of their ink-art. Both of her parents were inked, though Rae never knew, as they passed away when she was young. Learning about her family's past, her evil father and sacrificial mother, Rae needs to decide if there is a ray of hope in her own life.

Here's what I liked (in order of importance):

The concept/world: When these special teens turn 16, a tattoo appears overnight. For boys it is on their arm, for girls on the lower back. The design of the tattoo which appears dictates their powers. For example, the person marked with a lightning bolt design has the ability to manipulate electricity.

These kids are part of a secret society and are sent to Guilder Boarding School where they learn about, and train their powers.

Main Character:  You can't help but identify with the  misfit/orphan-turned-kick-ass-heroine Rae.

Love interest/storyline: It is evident pretty early on who the love interest is. He's very likeable and, honestly, what kept me reading to the end.

Ending  Yes, by now you know what I like and don't like in an ending.  This one is satisfying.  This is not a "To Be Continued" type, even though there are more books coming. 

What I didn't like

The similarities to "Harry Potter" set-up. Ordinary kid gets sent to magical boarding school where everybody knows her name. She's special, with powers that are greater than the rest.

All the side characters. There were quite a few side characters (again, similar to Harry Potter). But I felt they kind of got shortchanged into sort of stereotypical bitchy current girlfriend of Rae's love interest, dizty-but-well-meaning roomate. gaggle of guys interested in Rae romantically, kind, elderly professor-mentor.  This is a series so hopefully they'll be better fleshed out in as they come to the forefront of the story?


I had some trouble getting into it.  The author probably could have started a few more pages into the story and been fine.  But once the concept of the tattoo was introduced and the cute boy showed up I was hooked.  The story moved along nicely and the mythology/world made sense once it was established.  Also, the romance storyline had me rooting for them to get together.
I'm giving it 4 stars out of 5 - I liked it but if you don't like fantasy/magic in your YA then it is probably not for you.

Note:  I received an e-book copy in exchange for a review.

ROW80 Check-in Sunday 1-15-12

writing goal - write three days a week
I am on a roll.  After struggling since Thanksgiving, I'm finally in a groove.  Eight good pages.  I also wrote every day this week.  If the muse is still here today I'm going to keep writing.  Writing until I urn out of steam or Spider Solitaire stops working. 

I made the smartest move Friday night.  I deleted a computer game that I'd been obsessing with.  I deleted it off the computer so I wouldn't be tempted to spend three hours trying to achieve a perfect score.

exercise goal - exercise three days a week
I did nada, zip, zilch. Plenty of excuses though.  My face is peeling right now.  I signed up for a series of chemical peels to get rid of these cafe ole marks I've had since grade school.  Anyway, I started to peel yesterday and I'm not supposed to go out in sunlight for a while.  Sounds like a vampire, huh?

I did go over and check out Equinox gym.  So pricey, but it is more spa-like than gym like.  Maybe I'll go more often.  I didn't commit yet, but I probably will... After my face stops itching.

eat healthier
yes, not an issue at all when you don't have anything unhealthy in your house.  The temptation is there to go get a burger and I fell off the bankwagon last Sunday.  I just won't go anywhere near the burger place today.
My friend's wedding is in 6 months and I want to have lost weight by then.

book reviewing
started reading "Rae Of Hope" Saturday.  I promised the review would be up today so I'm going to focus on finishing that today.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Lazy Saturday

This is cute, isn't it?  A scottie weather vane.  I especially like how the T is tilted.  Wonder how it happened.  This is a local veterinary hospital.  And isn't the sky gorgeous? 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

ROW80 Wednesday check in

It is technically Thursday but I will pretend it is still Wednesday...

First, here is a picture of our city hall courtyard.  Yeah, it is the middle of January...  But I digress.

Writing Goal - write three days a week.
Yes, did it already.  But I only have one new paragraph to show for it.  The first two days was making suggested changes from critique group.

Exercise Goal - exercise three days a week.
No.  Haven't started this yet.  I got a facial peel.  No sunlight until the weekend.

Eat Healthy - yes, been good since my lapse Sunday night at the burger place...

Book review goal (this is new)- I've been asked to review some books here.  I have three more to go.  Hopefully I'll get the first one up this week...

Monday, January 9, 2012

Book Review - Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Description From Amazon.com:        Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

Have you noticed the trend towards re-telling of fairytales?  "Once Upon A Time" on ABC is one of my favorite new shows on TV and "Grimm" on NBC is pretty good too.
So here is a new "Cinderella" tale.  The author, Marissa Meyer says she was inspired by the TV series "Firefly" (Nathan Fillon, browncoats?).  Hello? Own the series on DVD so I had to get this book.  And I LOVED IT! Well, except for the ending...
There is just enough of the Cinderella tale that you'll recognize certain things but it is totally fresh, new, futuristic take on the story.  The writing is good.  Not once did I want to skip ahead or put the book down.  It builds and builds to a climax.   You kind of know where the story is going in general terms but not specifics and this story was full of surprises. 
The only issue I had was the ending.  Because I didn't know it was a four part series.  So the ending was one of those "To Be Continued" type endings which, by now, you know I can't stand. 
My rating: 5 stars - Go read this book!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Row80 - Sunday Check In

Here is my second check in

Writing Goal -write 3 days a week
I did this.  I did more than this.  I feel good.  I've been doing the 'rewrite from hell' method - rewrite each page at least five times - each time looking to fix different things.  Well I had a writer's group tonight so I was furiously getting my pages ready.  And I'm pleased to say, the 'rewrite from hell' method works!  But the downside is that it is so labor intensive.

Exercise Goal - walk 3 days a week
I did two days.  Mainly because of the roof situation.  You see I had my roof replaced this past week.  They started at 7:30 each morning but showed up at 7 each morning. I had to be out of the house by 7:30 which is normally the time I'm walking.  Vow to do better this coming week
Eat Healthier
I fell off the bandwagon tonight.  (In-'N-Out #2 combo tonight for dinner).  The rest of the week I was good, so good.  Gave up artificial sweetners, red meat, white rice, white bread.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

ROW80 Wednesday check in

Well of course I did well.  It is only the first day after I signed up! Ha! 
I ate well - brown rice and veggies for dinner.
I re-wrote a good three pages.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Memoirs Of The Damned by Vincent Autega

This author contacted me for a review but it isn't really a genre I read.  I felt it would be a disservice to try to review it.  Instead, I'm bringing it to your attention as it may be something you're interested in?

Plus, always happy to help a fellow writer trying to promote their work.

Title:  Memoirs of the damned
Author:  Vincent Autega
Genre:  Horror/Fantasy/YA

Ebook format:  word/pdf/mobi
Word/page count: 46400/68
Publisher: Nina Hobson - Hellicious Horrors Epublishing

And here is the synopsis:

“A Vampire epic set in a timeless gothic medieval backdrop with the palpable sensation of rage and loss.
Andross Ameliyo’s world is constantly beset by tragedy. On a stormy night he is given a choice that will ultimately spell damnation for himself or for those around him. Will he choose revenge or redemption?"

Go here for more information on the book:
There is a short excerpt and an interview with the author. 
I wish you success Vincent!

Once Upon A Time

No, this isn't a fairy tale.  I'm referring to the show on ABC. 

I'm coming to this show late because it was on at the same time as Amazing Race.  Luckily, they have all 7 episodes available online and they had a marathon this past weekend so I'm all caught up.  A friend recommended it to me as a show she can watch with her daughters.  I tried it out.  I really like it.  I mistakenly thought the Grimm show would be better but I like the characters in this one and I like how they weave the present and past storylines together.

I'm noticing at trend in YA books about the re-telling of fairy tales (Cinder anyone?) so this show kind of fits into that as well.  Check it out if you haven't already.  It is on Sunday nights at 8p. 

The Gloaming

Gloaming - the time after sunset and before dark.  It is also called 'twilight' but that makes me think of vampires so I'm calling this the gloaming. 
Aren't the cloud patterns and colors lovely?

My New Year's Resolutions - ROW80

So quite a few blogs I follow are part of this ROW80 thing.  I kept wondering what it was so I finally looked it up.  And guess what, it has a new round starting yesterday!  ROW80 stands for "A Round Of Words in 80 days and Once Sign-Ups are open, you’ll make a blog post stating your measurable goal. 
So here are my goals:

a) write three times a week. 
Last year's goal was 'write every day'.  That was so onerous and it made writing a chore.  This is more manageable. 

As part of this, I had to quit a critique group I was in.  It was two sets of 15 pages to read plus a two hour meeting every week.  It was such a large chunk of time to provide notes and attend.  Plus nobody was writing what I was writing.  It was hard to quit, they were very nice people.  But it just wasn't for me.

b) exercise three times a week.
Yeah, last year's goal was 'every day' as well.  Again, unrealistic and made me depressed just thinking about it.

c) try to eat healthier. 
Yeah, again, an all-or-nothing type goal is not for me.  It just makes me miserable.

So these are manageable, definitely do-able goals.  They have check-ins twice a week to see how we're doing.  I'm going to try it and see what happens.

Monday, January 2, 2012

My favorite Maggie Stievater Blog Post

Maggie Stievater is giving away a huge stack of books.  To enter, you just need to blog about your favorite post of hers.  So that is what this is.

I actually have two  favorites:

This is the first.  The critique partner connection.  She allowed writers to match up for potential critiquing.  I found awesome partner here.  I think it is a good match because we both like the same kind of books (Maggie Stievater - duh!)

The second is this one:  The trailer for "Forever".  Why?  Because it shows how talented an artist, musician, and writer Maggie is.  I mean, how is one person so ridiculously talented? 


My New Year's Day

At midnight I had the Japanese noodles.  Each of the traditional foods you eat around New Year's has a meaning.  Noodles are for long life.

Then on New Year's day, went to my sister's for traditional New Year's Day soup.  New Year's is a bigger deal than Christmas in Japan. 

My brother-in-law (who is not Japanese) made the soup!  He is a better cook than my sister or me.  He learned to cook this by watching a program on YouTube called "Cooking with Dog".  No, the dog is not the ingredient.  There is this woman who demonstrates the cooking, but there is a cute dog who does all the talking.  Whatever, look it up... :)

Above is the traditional 'Osechi' ryori - the traditional foods you eat on New Year's.  My mother used to make these.  Now, we just buy the pre-packaged stuff at the grocers.

Clockwise from top left:

  • The white and orange strips - Kohaku-namasu.  These are radish and carrot strips pickled in a sweet vinegar, ponzu sauce.  This is auspicious because they are "red" and white, the colors of the rising sun symbol of Japan.
  • black beans - kuro-mame.  'Mame' means beans and also health in Japan.  These you eat for health in the new year.
  • The pink and white strip - Kamaboko - fish cake (also in the soup picture with the cute bamboo pattern).  This is also red and white - see above.
  • The yellowish substance - Kurikinton - sweetened chestnuts and sweet potatoes.  Symbolizes wealth and victory
  • The sardines at the bottom - Tazukuri - Symbolizes a rich harvest
  • The red stuff in the lower left corner - Some variety of fish Roe - symbolizing fertility.
  • Black wrapped seaweed - Konbu - Associated with the word "Yorokobu" which means joy.
  • The lotus roots in the middle - Renkon - Symbolizes hope and happiness because we can see through the holes to the future.
Then, we watched the traditional Japanese New Year's variety show (kind of like the New Year's Rocking Eve show in America).  We've watched it every year since we were little with our parents. I don't know who most of the people on the show are but it is cool to see what kind of music is popular in Japan these days.  Of course with all the disasters in Japan in 2011 a lot of the show was dedicated to telling stories of hope and survival. 
Anyway, here are the MCs of the event.  Recognize the guy 4th from the left?  He's a member of a very popular band in Japan (the rest of the guys are the other members).  But he's also an actor and was in the Clint Eastwood movie "Letters From Iwo Jima".  The 'baker-dude' my brother-in-law calls him.

His name is Kazunari Ninomiya and I had the opportunity to visit Japan and was part of an group that included him.  You never heard so many screaming girls and blinded by so many flash bulbs as when you were trying to walk from point A to point B in his presence.

Anyway, back to the show -- We watched the show with a friend who is bilingual and so she provided most of the translation and gossip about all the celebrities.  I don't know who anybody is anymore, except for this guy.  Go Hiromi.  He looks really good - he's fifty something.

This is what he looked like when he had his first hit.   (sigh) I guess we're all older these days.


I stayed to watch the show all the way through but was worried because I had to travel through the danger zone (across Colorado Blvd) to get home.  Luckily, I found a route that was not lined with marshmallow -tossing parade viewers. 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

"The Descendants" Review

I watched this movie because the writer went to the same college prep as me and President Obama in Hawaii.  It was a little slow but I had a good night's sleep so I stayed awake. 

It was a small little movie.  My question is - what makes a story worthy of becoming a movie?  I totally get why sci-fi and war movies get the treatment.  And things with big events like asteroids colliding with earth.  But this?  It is about a man trying to decide whether to sell his land or keep it for his descendants.

I wasn't disappointed I watched it.  It is George Clooney, after all, and the scenery was beautiful.  I wonder if the filmmakers just wanted an excuse to spend time in Hawaii? 

Anyway, I'm giving it three of five stars - Liked it more than I didn't like it.