Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Diane Mott Davidson's Goldy Shulz Mysteries

I've been reading Diane Mott Davidson's Goldy Shulz mysteries for about a year. I pick one up when I don't have anything else on hand to read. I bought most of the series at a rummage sale and picked up the rest as I found them/searched them out. I am currrently reading the 11th of the 14 books in the series.

And I'm getting annoyed.

I had fun reading these books at first. The main characters are (for the most part) likeable, the stories move along pretty quickly (with perhaps an overabundance of cooking references, but since these are cozy culinary mysteries, I suppose that's to be expected), and the setting (Colorado Rockies) is very nice.

But here's what I don't get... and, yes, I'm doing bullets
  • A small Colorado town has this many murders? Really? Shouldn't they quarantine it so the rest of us don't drink that water? And, yes, I know they are cozy culinary murder mysteries, but still...
  • It's always bugged me how the author has to point out that Goldy's best friend, Marla, is overweight every blessed time she's in the books. Pudgy fingers, etc... I get it, the woman could stand to lose a few pounds... sheesh!  Can we get past that now?
  • Goldy is a nosy nuisance. Yes, yes, I know that if she wasn't, these mysteries would never get solved (and the poor town of Aspen Meadows would have a huge Cold Case problem *nod*). But she doesn't use an ounce of common sense. Her cop hubby even tells her that she needs to stay out of a case, but does that deter Goldy? Heck no.
  • Goldy's son, Arch. Grrrr. I mean the kid was cute in the first book or two, but he's growing up to be a hoodlum, a rude, arrogant, horrible little hoodlum. Does Ms. Davidson really think all teens turn into surly mutts who'll bite your hand off before you can say "Good boy"?
  • Goldy's reaction to Arch's 'moods'. For example, in the book I'm reading: Arch is being horrible - asking for all sorts of expensive gifts while at the same time being rude and secretive. Yep. And what's Goldy do? She starts buying him the things on his list! Huh. *scratches head* Seems counterintuitive to me. The child is 15 years old - if he was one of mine and he's going to sneak off, not tell me where he is, and then act as if I'm the bad guy.. well, guess what, kiddo? Birthday or no birthday you're grounded, you're not allowed to play on the lacrosse team with those thugs, and you don't get a darn thing for your birthday until you can show some respect.
  • And 15 year old Arch sneaks off and gets a tattoo. I found it amazing that neither Goldy nor her cop husband thought about how it's illegal for anyone to give an under 18 a tattoo without parental permission (unless laws are different in different states). Goldie didn't even show Arch how mad she was because she was afraid to make him angry. Yeah, right...
  • Ms. Davidson's 'small town' makes me shake my head. Goldy sends Arch to an expensive private school (full of snobs, btw) because the public school is so overcrowded (teacher to student ration = 1:50). Huh? I live in small town America. Our schools are NOT overcrowded. Isn't that supposed to be city schools?
  • Not getting facts straight. Goldy gives in and buys arch the $1400 guitar (on sale for $700!) he wants. Before she can get it home, she's whacked over the head with it (just after she finds an old friend stabbed). Ms. Davidson seems to think electric guitars are made of metal. Not kidding. The guitar gets dented. *headdesk*
And I could probably go on, but I think I made my point. (The point being that I'm annoyed).

I think it's good for a writer to remember that sometimes even a good thing can be spread too thin, and taken too far.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Pet Peeves: Or the Toilet paper is on the wrong way

I've been thinking about pet peeves today.

I've been wondering if I really have any. I'm sure I do, but they don't seem to loom large enough that I can think of any at the moment. *thinks* Nope. I have this thing about hating having bare feet, but really, that's more of a hangup than a pet peeve. I mean, I don't care if anyone else goes barefoot, just don't let my tootsies out of hiding. My family makes a big deal (pretend heart attacks, etc)., if they see my feet.... yeah.

But that's not a pet peeve.

My sister Babby has two pps I can think of off the top of my head (which is probably pretty good since she lives three hours from me and I only see her a dozen or so times a year).

1. The toilet paper has to be on the hanger in a certain way. I think this is a common peeve. My question is: Who decides the right way for the TP roll? For me, the right way is the way it happens to go on the holder when I'm changing the roll.

2. The way things are stapled. I don't have the minute details on this one, but I know her papers have to be stapled a certain way. For me, as long as it hits that upper left corner, holds the papers together, and closes at the back enough that I won't get scratched, I'm happy.

Maybe it's because Babby is a perfectionist that she has these peeves. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not putting down her perfectionism. I'd love to have the drive to keep my house and car as clean as she does, or to know the night before what the heck I'm wearing for work, but I just don't. My house, car, and desk are always a bit messy. In the morning, I usually look at my feet, see what color socks I'm wearing, and dress accordinglyh (not kidding).

My husband, Jon, has this one pet peeve that I think (from my very informal technique of watching people walking down the sidewalk) many men share. For Jon, if you're walking down the sidewalk, or entering/exiting a building with two side-by-side doors, you should always keep to your right - as if you're staying in your lane while driving a car. He really does feel it's wrong to go into the left hand door of a store. I enter through the nearest door (or the left hand door if he's with me and I want to drive him just a little crazy). I even (gasp) exit from the post office down the same flight of steps I ascended when I entered (it's closer to the cross walk). Hmmmm... this is all making me sound a bit lazy. LOL. Perhaps I am....

I was thinking about this today because as I was taking a quick stroll during break, I found myself walking down one side of the sidewalk while a teenage boy was walking toward me. I was on the left. Of course I was (I think I like to be closer to the buildings than the street). He was coming straight at me. I did my normal game of watching to see if he'd veer off. He didn't. I moved to the right. *sigh*

I actually played this game of chicken with an older gentleman once. In fact I got within two steps of him before I gave up and veered before I ran him over. But of course, because of Jon's peeve, I have this little voice in my head telling me I'm on the WRONG SIDE.

Ah well.

So, what's your pet peeve?
I'll let you know when I think of mine. :)

Oh and as I passed a store today (walking on the wrong side of the sidewalk) I saw a cute little desk sign that read, "I'm so far behind I think I'm first." I need that sign.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Divergent by Veronica Roth

I seem to read a lot of YA (young adult) books lately. I'm not exactly sure why. The funny thing is that I didn't read YA when I was YA.

I adored Hunger Games so much, that when I heard another YA dystopian was being highly touted, I figured I should give it a try. Divergent by Veronica Roth was a fun read, if I didn't think too deeply about the world Ms. Roth created.

I loved the book. I inhaled it. I had my nose stuck in it every extra second I had for about two days, and then I was done. It's a fast paced, violent romp through a dystopian Chicago, with a little romance thrown in. Almost a cross between Hunger Games and Ender's Game... almost.

But, like I said, I enjoyed it as long as I didn't think about the world Ms. Roth was building. I let myself suspend disbelief (though I had very little reason to) and just enjoyed the book while I was reading, and then later, when I was done, all these points that just don't make sense popped into my head.

I won't get into them as I'd have to include spoilers to do so. But I'll just say that if you look at her world too closely, it falls apart like Swiss cheese with too many holes.

But I loved the book. Go figure.

And even though the plot holes didn't throw me out of the book, sometimes the writing did. The author uses far fewer contractions than many other writers, and I found myself noticing it.  Many times, the characters (mostly teens) sounded stiff.

But, like I said, I loved the book.

I absolutely recommend reading it. Just be ready to suspend your disbelief....

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

YA Confidential

I am SO excited about this new blog. YA Confidential is for writers of YA fiction - so us 40+ year old hopeful writers of YA can feel like they can get this right. To celebrate the launch, there's a contest. Yay! Hop on over there and check it out.

Friday, September 9, 2011

My desktop background photo: Saturn!

I don't take my computer background photos lightly. In fact, both my work and home computers still have the generic desktop background they came with, until today.

Why? Because an image has to really strike me for me to want to see it every day (and at work - for hours and hours every day).

I used to have a photo of our beloved Marnie dog on my home computer (it was Marnie photographed from behind, sitting and looking out a window.. awww). And for a time I had a photo I had taken of the White House at dusk on my work computer (nothing to do with patriotism, really, the color and shadows were just gorgeous).

But in a news article today, I saw this:

and it literally took my breath away.

This is the planet Saturn. The photo is of its dark side, taken by the Cassini Robotic Orbiter.

It will now grace both my computers.

I just couldn't NOT share this image...

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Of Cleveland, the Indians, Dinosaurs, and Sea lions

Vacation.... Ahhhhhhh....

Our plans for this year were to go to New York City via Amtrak. We were to see my niece, Leeanne, and friend, Jeanette while there, but Hurricane Irene had other plans.

We were supposed to leave last Tuesday, so Monday I was on the phone with Amtrak twice asking if the train would be running. Monday's trains were shut down due to flooding, damage, etc. I was told that yes, they would run. At 6:30 Monday night, we got a call from the Utica Amtrak station saying that no, our train wouldn't be running. It was go time....

I called the hotel and cancelled our reservation, then called Leeanne and Jeanette to give them our regrets.

Jon said he'd drive to NYC, I vetoed that. I get nervous enough riding through the traffic of smaller cities without pushing myself to that one. (Sheesh, I'm getting old).

So then Jon, Mark, and I sat in the living room and discussed. Well, it was more of Jon and I plugging away at the computer and throwing suggestions out which Mark promptly vetoed.  Since east (and much south) was into the hurricane ravaged parts, and we don't have passports to go north, it left us with few options.

Finally, Jon said, "How about we go back to Cleveland?" We've been there twice, though once, last year, was just a drive-by visit to the Rock Hall as we drove farther west. Mark agreed. He just really had his heart set on a city this year.

Tuesday morning I researched hotels and made reservations and we got on the road.

We arrived in Cleveland about 4:30. When we realized our hotel was almost directly across the street from the Cleveland Indians Stadium, we took our bags to the room and walked to the box office to get tickets for that night. After we go the tickets, we wandered around the neighborhood for a while. So, for one night I was an Indians fan. (they beat the A's). I was glad I had put my sunglasses in my purse when the valet took the car as the stadium lights triggered a migraine, so I wore my sunglasses the entire game. *sigh*

Wednesday we took the not-quite one mile trek to Lake Erie. I had wanted to tour the WWII submarine, COD, and the guys liked that idea as well, so we found that and paid the admission. Unfortunately when I saw the entrance into the sub (down a ladder through a narrow hole to a concrete floor below), I couldn't make myself climb down. I'd blame it on age, but I've always had this wierd fear of laddres. So, while the guys toured the inside of the sub, I walked the deck and then sat and waited.


After, Mark wanted to go to the Great Lakes Science Museum. LOADS of fun. All interactive. Mark even got strapped into a harness so he felt like he was only 30% of his body weight so he could practice walking on Mars.

Then we walked the almost mile back to our hotel.  All told, we were walking/touring for 7 hours. After a short rest and shower, I was ready to roll again. So we went to a Blues restaurant, Fat Fish Blue, and ate and listened to music. Wonderful food, great atmosphere, and good music.

Funny side note: There's a song I've been wanting to hear for a couple of weeks. I'd mentioned it to Jon, but we couldn't find it on his ipod or the CD I know we have that it's on. The musicians at Fat Fish Blue played it that night. I was so happy!  :)

Thursday morning we checked out of the hotel and drove to the Natural History Museum. We've been there before and loved it, and loved it again. (I missed having Brian with us, though.... and it's sad to think in very few years we won't have Mark vacationing with us anymore either). They have Balto there, by the way - stuffed Balto - he's so pretty in a dead dog kind of way. And the dinosaurs are always amazing to look at. Wow!

We made it home about 7:30 that night.

Then Saturday was annual State Fair day. Lots of fun.

Here is a pic of sister, Babby, and me (I'm the horribly overweight one) with the sea lions at the State Fair:

The Sea Lion who has his head on mine definitely knew when the photo was taken because he lifted his head and nudged me away. LOL

A wonderful vacation - and now a catch-up at work!!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Mark's Luck Strikes Again or the Tale of the Zebra Guitar from Seabreeze

I've mentioned how Mark (younger son) has this wierd luck, both good and bad- it struck again yesterday. We were at Seabreeze amusement park near my sister Babby's house in Rochester. Mark, Babby, and I wandered into the arcade. We laughed when we saw they had guitars as prizes (electric and accoustic) at 4000 tickets each. I mean, no one ever wins 4000 tickets. All three of us played some games, and after spending about $12, we had 500 tickets (and that's a lot- we struck some 'jackpots'), so we were happy with that. Mark decided to spend $5 more of his own money before we moved on. He saw a game where there were big tickets worth 4000 individual tickets as prizes. He shrugged and said, "Might as well try it." He put his 50 cents in, and .... you got it... first try, wins the 4000 tickets. Even as he was winning them, we kept saying, "Nah, it can't be this easy. Maybe you have to win multiple times to get the 'big' prize." I guess not...

The funniest moment was walking the big ticket up to the two attendants (one teen boy and one teen girl) and ordering up a guitar.
Girl: "Really? Cool!! No one's EVER won that."
Boy: "I've been here three years and no one's ever gotten enough tickets for a guitar. Which game?"
Mark: "Stackers" (I think that was the name)
Boy: "I play that game every day and I've never won."
Mark: *grins*
The boy had to call the manager to see if he should just take the guitar down from display or if there were others in the back.
Mark tried the game for the rest of his $5 worth of change and came within one step of winning three more times, but never did.
He now has a zebra striped guitar. How many guitars does this make? Um... six... maybe... something like that.
Oh, and he has four new youtube videos up. For a sampling, go here and here.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Twitter Fiction

I've recently discovered Twitter Fiction. Have you heard of it? Awesome stuff. It's telling a story in 140 characters. Not 140 words... but characters. The length of a twitter post. While I don't have a twitter account, I find the challenge of writing such a short story compelling. Now, keep in mind that 140 characters (which includes all punctuation and even spaces) only amounts to about 25 words.

What I find the most challenging is hitting that 140 dead on. Think about it, if you write and edit and you have 139 characters, how do you add just one more? It usually takes rewriting whole sentences or thoughts in order to do it... and then, whoops! You're at 141!

If you're a writer, try it! I bet you'll find it fun. If you don't consider yourself a writer, try it anyway. You might be surprised at what you come up with.

There are communities for 140 character fiction. One that I check each day (because they post a new twit fic every week day) is One Forty Fiction. And if you check out their home page today, you'll see one of my very own 140s as the story of the day. It's Dad and Me week over there, so while my Dad story isn't a happy one, it was judged worthy for the site. I'm damned happy 'bout that. And if you're checking out this blog later than June 15, 2011, this link should take you right to the twit fic.

Also, check out Gayle Beveridge's twitter fiction page. She's an awesome writer!

Friday, June 10, 2011

I Very Nearly Lost the Owlery

It was a close thing....

I live on about 5 acres of land, some of it is hilly and forested. Over the last few years I've been cleaning out and decorating walking trails up the hill and through the forest. Unfortunately, most of the trees are brittle white pine. They tend to snap easily.

We had a wind storm the other night.


Last night I checked the trails.

That tree in the middle? It's a big one and now it is also a headless one.

Here's the top of it lying across a trail:

And here's my poor owlery. I'm not certain if any owls were lost, though it wasn't the bulk of the tree that hit it, just a few branches. Please don't dwell on the flag - it's tattered and needs to be gotten rid of.

The trail the tree fell on is actually Toad Hollow, but that spot above was too perfect for the 'owlery' to worry that owls aren't toads. (I also have a Gnome Knoll, a Mac's Menagerie (named for one of my Grandpas), and a short bird trail that I haven't given thought to a name for).

On a brighter note, we have our first apple in our mini-orchard. It's a Macintosh!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Short Story Publishing News

Over the Memorial Day weekend, I received news on three of my short stories.

First, a story I entered into a Women on Writing contest, didn't place, but I got my evaluation back and received a 13 of a possible 15 points in rating, so I'm pretty happy with that. Jeanette, that was for Adrift - I'll send you the evaluation, because I think you'll find it interesting.

Another short story was rejected by a magazine, but according to Duotrope's Digest (my new favorite website), that magazine accepts less than 5% of submissions, so it was a long-shot anyway. What makes me feel good about this one is that most of the reported rejections (on Duotrope) from that market are rejected within 7 days. They had my story for more than 30, which makes me think that perhaps they were considering it.

And finally... drumroll, please... I had a short story accepted to the Cynic Online Magazine! Yay! This one was my last assignment for the free writing class I took at the beginning of the year. It'll be posted in their July 1st issue. I'll link to it when it's published.
I have two other submissions out right now, and I'll rework and then submit Adrift and the other story that was rejected. Oh, yeah, and I entered the newest Women on Writing contest as well - so that's another story out there.

I'll keep my fingers crossed.

In other news, the edit on my novel In the Shadow of Olympus is coming along well. I have an electronic post-it note on my desktop saying it needs to be ready to send to readers by August 16th (Brian's birthday). So that gives me a solid goal to work toward. I've been editing one to two chapters a week (going over each chapter three times). When I get that edit done, I'll do another read-through and make any further changes. Then I'll be looking for people to read it for me and give their opinions/critiques.

Oh, and I made a title change to that one, it's now called Breather.

Okay, that's all. I'll update when I have more news.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Orson Scott Card Ender's Game Series Ender in Exile

Okay, yeah, I can't let this one go, can I?

While I'm waiting for the library to get the next book in George RR Martin's Song of Fire and Ice series for me, I'm reading some of those fill-in Ender's Series books from Orson Scott Card.

I'm disappointed.

I read A War of Gifts - it's a novella, easily read in a sitting or two. I found it not worth reading, really. As I was sitting here trying to think of what to say about it, I realized that's the problem exactly. It's forgettable.

I am coming close to being done with the 'filler' novel, Ender in Exile. This one takes place in the Ender's Game series between Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead. Though it was written after Speaker and the following two novels in that series (more than 10 years later, I believe).

I'm disappointed.

I was looking forward to reading this because I loved Ender's Game and revered Speaker for the Dead. Since this one fell in between and filled in some of the gap, I was stoked. I shouldn't have been. It feels like this book was written by a completely different author. And while I do realize that Game and Speaker, for the most part, are very different books (they barely feel like they should be in a series together, even though they have the same main character), they were both well written. Exile, to put it bluntly, is not.

The characters are very one dimensional, the dialog is stilted and unrealistic, and the plot doesn't have a tenth of the brilliance Card showed in Speaker. It's not a good sign that, while I'm reading dialog, I think of it as 'dialog that an author wrote' not 'Oh! The information Ender is giving us' or 'Wow, she really put her in her place!'.  I know some of these characters are super intelligent teens, but do they really have to sound so formal? So robotic? They didn't during Battle School in Ender's Game. It takes me right out of the world Card has created when, in my mind, I'm rewriting his sentences, trying to get better flow and more believability.

And characterization. Ack!! I'm sorry, but really, I have to think Card has either become so enamored or so bored with Ender that he doesn't realistically judge his own character.

Rule 1 of characterization: Every character has flaws.

I think Card has forgotten that. Ender does nothing wrong. Nothing. Or if it appears he might be wrong, we're proven later that he wasn't. Grrrrr. Every idea and plan that Ender thinks of/puts into motion works perfectly. He's smart as a whip, mature (at 15? 16? Heck, I can't even rile myself up to care), and humble.

Card has boys, he has to know what teenagers are like. This ain't it.

There's no emotional depth to the characters. Even when we get a peek into their thought processes, those thoughts are bland and rational. Where's the teenage angst? Where's the anger, the joy, the jealousy? It's all reasoned right away.

So, yeah, I'm disappointed.

Of course, I'll read the last two short story collections of Ender's Verse, because, dammit, I'm no quitter.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

My Soundtrack

For my birthday this year, I made a list of songs I wanted on one disc, gave the list to Mark, and he dug up the songs online and created the disc for me. I love it. It's barely been ejected from my car CD player since I received it. It's an ecclectic mix - songs from my teen years, some from when I listed to mostly country music in my thirties, some newer favorites.

Here's my list (and no laughing at some of the choices)
Jeff Buckley - Hallelujah: Do I really need to say anything about this? The world is diminished with his passing so young.

Dixie Chicks- Travelin' Soldier. My singing resembles Natalie Maines' (though no where near as good as she is) so it's always fun from me to sing along with her. Plus, the song is heartbreaking.

White Stripes- Same Boy You've Always Known. I've become a huge Jack White fan, so when I say this is him at his finest, it means something. Plus, the song is heartbreaking. :)

White Stripes- Jolene. I just love this rendition of the Dolly Parton song.

Queen - Don't Try Suicide. Admittedly not the best Queen song, but I used to listen to this one with a friend when we were teens. I was never a suicidal, emo teen, but the song is just plain fun (why does that sound so wrong?). I was a huge Queen fan when I was growing up, and, like Jeff Buckley, the world is diminished by the young passing of Freddie Mercury.

Eagles - After the Thrill is Gone. I could sing along to the Eagles all day, but After the Thrill is Gone is my favorite. And, well, it's heartbreaking.

Mark McGuinn - Mrs. Steven Rudy. Just a fun song to sing along with. Was he a one-hit wonder?

Collin Raye - On the Verge. Such a pretty song. I've been to two of Collin's concerts - so much fun!

Chris De Burgh- The Lady in Red. Another song that is just plain pretty. And then he whispers "I love you" at the end - What's not to love?

Billy Vera and the Beaters - At This Moment. Another one-hit wonder on my list, but I often say this is my favorite song of all time. Am I a bit sappy? Yes, I probably am. Plus, the song is heartbreaking. Ha!

Billy Joel - It's Still Rock'n Roll to Me. One of those that's just such fun to belt out when you're in the car (by yourself).

Hall and Oates - You've Lost that Loving Feeling. I've been a big fan of Daryl and John since I was a teen. This song right after It's Still Rock 'n Roll to Me just keeps the groove going.

I'm already making a list for a second CD. After all, this one has no Springsteen, no Elton, no Simon and Garfunkel. I already know the next will have a Michael Jackson song (She's Out of My Life) and one from Chris Ladoux (Silence on the Line), because, dammit, they're heartbreaking.

So tell me, what would be your sountrack....

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Orson Scott Card's Ender Series; Water for Elephants; A Game of Thrones

I mentioned in my previous post that I've had some dental issues. Through the worst of it, the only way I felt at all well was to sit still and read. I read often, anyway, but I got in a habit of reading even more.

I've never been much of a SciFi reader, but after reading Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game (on the recommendation of Mark), I decided to read the rest of the books in that series. Interesting. I would recommend Ender's Game for anyone who loves scifi, including teens (and more mature tweens), but the other three in the core series are like a whole different series. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed them, especially Speaker for the Dead, which, in my opinion, is a brilliant book. But the rest in the series delve more into philosophy, religion, society, and sciences. The last two in the series weren't as good as Speaker, but I read them anyway.

Then I went on to read the four core books of the Ender's Shadow series. After the first (again a different book than the rest), they deal with the machinations of war, family, redemption, and politics. Again, interesting.

My one big complaint with Card's writing is in characterization. I didn't always understand the actions his characters took. Ender's marriage was totally out of left field. It was hard to see why anyone would fall for the woman. For someone who gave up most of their life to help others, to marry someone who was so self-absorbed, didn't seem right. And the marriage seemed very forced.

And to have a child like Peter grow up to be a great man is almost laughable. He was torturing his siblings and small animals as a child - I can't see him growing up to be a empathic leader. Card tries to explain it, but it didn't float for me.

On the positive side, Card's imagination is staggering. The story lines and ideas he came up with are a wonder. He created interesting worlds and situations and saw them all through to the end.

I've purchased four more books that dovetail into the two series (some are short story collections) so I can finish my trek through the Ender world. I've yet to read them.

When I finished the Ender books, I picked up Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. I'd heard about this book, and since it was written during Nanowrimo, it was one I was really interested in reading. Gruen is a master storyteller and a craftsman of believable, moving characters. If you want a masters class in characterization, just pick up this book. You won't be sorry. Amazing read. I'll probably go to see the movie (or wait until I can pick it up on PPV), but I'm not stoked about seeing it. Robert Pattinson plays the lead and I'm not a fan. And then I read how he took the role without ever reading the book and didn't even realize his role was the lead. What the heck? I thought actors did some research/reading before starting a role. Pffffttttt. Just makes me like him less.

I just finished reading A Game of Thrones. Enjoyable. A little hard to get into at first. The POV changes with chapter, but the chapter heading tells whose POV you'll be in, so it wasn't bothersome. I tended to skim through the war scenes. I'll read the rest, I'm sure. In fact, I have the next on order from the library (I'm not buying them - I've bought far too many books lately). I'd love to see how it's handled in the new series on HBO. Having Sean Bean in one of the leads doesn't hurt. When I think of the Lord of the Rings movies, the first thing I always think of is Boromir's death scene - Bean was fantastic. Oh, and if you read this, be wary of rape, murder, incest, and children marrying adults. Wow, that makes it sound pretty bad, doesn't it?

So that's my reading life lately! Are you sleeping yet?

I haven't started a new book yet, and it's driving me crazy! Do I grab an Orson Scott Card, or do I wait for that library book? Maybe I should go check my library account and see if it's in!!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Flood: Part II

Oh, I haven't posted in so long. I had some dental problems that caused more than a month of horrible pain and now another month of lighter pain. *sigh*

Anyway, spring flood. Ack! The Black River overflowed its banks again after a couple of days of heavy rain. We live on a corner and at one point, both roads were flooded over. Our section of the road was closed. I had to drive around the barricade to get to work. This is the highest I've ever seen the water here. We still have water in the cellar (and it's raining again).

We usually have a large yard. Not so much last Friday morning.

This is looking down the road at the creek bridge:
And a close-up of the bridge as seen from our yard:

 And finally, our visitors after the water receded:
 Can we have some sun now, please??

Friday, February 25, 2011

It Was One of Those Days

Hey all!

Yesterday was one of those days. You know the kind I mean: one of those when stupid things happen that you just can't help but laugh at.

One little incident (I call it little, but I'm sure I won't ever live it down - if you know my family, you know what I mean), however, made me grin for reasons other than the actual incident (which really was funny in hindsight). What made me smile was the thought of how only someone living in a very rural area would have an experience like this.

Before I start on the story, here's a little backstory on the area I live in: Lewis County, NY, is in northern NY - much, much closer to Canada than to New York City. We are a county of a little more than 26,000 people. We're outnumbered by bovines: if you count cows, bulls, and calves, there are over 51,000. We even have an oversized, sometimes snazzily dressed cow (Lady LeWinDa MilkZalot).

I work in the county seat, Lowville, which is also the largest village in the county. If I counted right, the village has six stop lights - all on one street. Yes, we're very rural, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

So on to my story. In my office, I hang my jacket on a doorknob behind my desk. This doorknob is also in the vicinity of the office paper shredder. Yesterday, as I was shredding some papers, I must have knocked into my jacket. The pretty brown scarf I wear with my jacket found its way into the teeth of the shredder. It only went in a couple of inches before the machine stalled. I turned the shredder off and tugged and pulled, but it wasn't letting go. I finally got smart and reversed the shredder, freeing my scarf. Of course, that also freed lots of bits of scarf that billowed all over.

Looking back on it, it was pretty funny, really. And one of those stupid things that happen.

I picked the little brown fibers off my cream wool coat, left the scarf at the office, and drove to the county hospital where I was scheduled for my yearly mammography. Now this is where being in a rural area comes in. Lewis County General Hospital is the only hospital in the county. Even so, it's not very big, but it is a good institution and I'm grateful we have it. Just after I signed into the diagnostic imaging lab, I heard someone calling my name. My mom was pushing Grandma in a wheelchair, taking her to the cafeteria, and just happened to see me. I told them my tale of scarfy-woe, got a chuckle out of them, and then we went on our seperate ways.

Within fifteen minutes, my test was done so I decided to run down to the cafeteria to say hi and goodbye to Mom and Grandma (Grandma lives at the hospital in the nursing home). On my way down the hall, I run into my sister, Kelly, coming from the cafeteria. She says, "Hey, Aim, where's your scarf?"

Of course, she'd already talked to Mom and Grandma. I walked into the tiny cafeteria, found my people immediately and sat down for a few minutes.

But that's what made me smile. For all of you who've spent time in larger hospitals, you know how impossible it would be to run into all these family members - you'd never see each other, I'm sure. And the cafeteria: in a larger hospital, it probably would have taken me forever to find the ladies, if I even did. Some have multiple large cafeterias - I'd be lost (again, if you know me, you'd not be surprised at my getting lost).

Like I said, I love living in a small area - my chances of running into people I know and love are so much higher. LOL!

Oh, and just before I left the cafeteria, Grandma says, "You have something on your coat, dear."

Yeah, Grandma, I know - it's part of my scarf....

Friday, February 18, 2011

Realistic Plot and Characters - Black Creek Crossing by John Saul

What I'm writing: Working on editing In the Shadow of Olympus, plus working on a YA Dystopia short story and doing a major headdesk because I can't come up with a suitable story idea for the last week of Y2K
What I'm reading: Black Creek Crossing by John Saul
What I'm knitting: I'm stalled at the moment.

In an earlier blog I touched on the need for a realistic ending (in regards to the wonderful novel, Ender's Game - which absolutely gave a great ending). In reading Black Creek Crossing by John Saul I'm getting more and more amused by the inconsistencies throughout the whole darn book. I'm about half-way through and I'll finish it because I care enough about the two protagonists to see how their story ends, but I find myself chuckling at the bad grammar and inconstant plotting and characterization to find the book at all scary.

I'll believe in any world an author creates as long at they are consistent in their handling of that world and can justify their plot points. Witches - Sure! Ghosts- why not? Aliens who look like goats, smell like dogs, and talk like humans - Convince me! In fact, I love to be convinced, to get sucked into an alternate reality and not question its existence. Brilliant stuff!

But then there are books like Black Creek Crossing. I remember reading something of Saul's when I was a teen and liking it, so when I saw this book at a used book sale, I figured I'd give it a go. It's a fast-paced, engaging read.... except when it isn't. Here's what I mean: it's hard to stay engaged when the author writes one of his characters out-of-character, or uses a plot twist that just doesn't make sense in the context of the story - it pushes the reader right out of the tale and back to reality.

A couple of examples:
One character, the father of one of the protagonists, is a son-of-a-___. He's alcoholic, verbally abusive, borderline incestuous, and arrogant. His wife and daughter are justifiably terrified of him. So why is it that he's in a drunken rage and when his wife yells at him to clean up his mess, he bows his head and does as he's told? Um... no idea. It's a good example of a character being so completely out-of-character that the reader is tossed out of the story. I would have expected him to backhand his wife, or to scream and stomp off to pop a top again... but not go clean the kitchen!

As for plot inconsistencies: There's a cat in the novel - a black witch's familiar type cat. (and this next part is spoilerey enough that if you plan on reading the book - which I highly don't recommend - you probably shouldn't read the rest of this paragraph). The cat is shown to be able to get in and out of locked rooms, closed closets, etc. It's not explained how - but that's okay because it runs true with the mystery of the book. The cat even attacks three antagonists (teen boy bullies), making them think kitty is going to kill them, that they'll surely bleed to death from the inflicted scratches (or have their throat torn out - can a house cat tear out the throat of a teenaged boy???). Of course, when the attack is over, there's not a scratch on them. Anyway, the three aforementioned boys trap the cat in a backpack and smash him against various hard surfaces to kill poor kitty. The thing is - if kitty can magically morph through walls, can appear and disappear at will, why can't he get out of a nylon rucksack? I need that justified. And from what I've read so far- it isn't.

Don't get me wrong - I know why Saul killed the cat off, I just don't agree with the gaping plot hole that was his way of doing it. He killed poor kitty off to advance the plot, because if he didn't he'd have to find another reason for the protagonists to begin dabbling in witchcraft (they bring the cat back to life with a bit of water, a few drops of blood, grave dirt, and tears - who knew it was so easy?? Not even an incantation needed.).

Writers always need to find that spark that moves a plot forward - the crisis that causes the hero to lash out at the dragon, but, darn it, that spark better be believable. It takes thought, and planning, and second-guessing, and rewriting, but really, even the most crazy sounding plot point can work IF it's justified and within the character's motivations. Like I said before: convince me! Please!

There are also spots of shabby writing and grammar errors that I won't touch upon.

And finally (and I bet you thought I'd never stop ranting), most of the characters in the book are cookie-cutter. They're either evil or they're good - they're not fallible humans trying their best. There are horrible abusive fathers, spineless mothers, sadistic bullies, and shrinking victims. All black and white -not a single shade of gray.

So that's my take on making plot and characters either believable or unbelievable.

Now I'm wondering why the heck I'm going to finish reading this book!!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Lowville NY Fire and This 'n That

What I'm writing: I have three short stories I'm working on as well as editing In the Shadow of Olympus and doing homework for the F2K class.
What I'm reading: Finished a Dean Koontz book last night - Relentless - I liked the book right up until it got really, really stupid at the end. I'm a fan of Mr. Koontz, but sometimes even those we love to read can slip up.
What I'm knitting: Still working on that sweater. Front and back are done and I've started on sleeve one.

I'm a lover of history. I love antiques (from afar - I don't own many) and old books. I adore that sense of permancy that comes from an antiquated building.

And I mourn history when it's destroyed:

The building known as the Times Block in Lowville burned early Saturday morning - in the above photo, it's the one that's just a little taller than the rest.

A pizzeria and a real estate agency were located on the first floor, apartments up above. It looks like an 'improperly discarded smoking device' was to blame. One person is in the hospital with horrible burns - I hope for the best for him, but it'll be a slow recovery.

The buildings on either side have some water and smoke damage, but 130-year-old fire walls kept the damage from becoming extensive.

I work up and across the street from the building that burned. It's sad to see it every day, and even sadder to think of the person who was injured, those without their homes and belongings, and the businesses that are now closed.

And now I can't think of a segue into other topics.....................................


Saturday Brian helped run a youth tournament at the table tennis club he's a member of. It sounds like it was a success and nephew Brandon took 2nd in the under 16 division.

Work has been busy! There's just not enough time in the day, lately. But isn't that so much better than not having enough to do?

The F2K writing class I'm taking is going well. Two of my assigments have been highlighted in the F2K ezine, so that's cool. The first was writing for the senses. I posted my 'sense sentences' in an earlier blog, but I didn't post the paragraph I wrote for the assignment here. We were tasked with writing a paragraph that would stir each of the eight senses (the regular five plus time, space, and unknown). Here's mine:

The metal needles warm in my hands as the steady click, click, click almost soothes my nerves. Balls of rough wool transform into a blocked burst of color, lengthening with each completed row. Outside the window, swirls of white eddy and dance on gusts, before cascading to the ground, slick and beautiful. The tea beside me would be completely forgotten if a draft didn't occasionally carry chamomile. I ignore it. What I've already drank is tainting my tongue bitter. With each roar of an engine that doesn't slow for my driveway, my fingers fly faster. I hope I don't drop a stitch. Another row finished, another car speeds past, another tick of the clock, another moment alone.

And then for this week, we had to write a scene of 500 words or less that dealt with conflict: specifically, we had to show what appeared to be a small conflict swell into something more, but we were supposed to only hint at what was going on, not hit the reader over the head with it.

Gary tossed the opened envelope onto the table and then watched Jenny sweep the kitchen floor. Her appearance hadn’t changed much over the years, except for the snowy hair. Finally, she turned around. When she saw him, she smiled and her eyes danced. "What's up?" Even her voice sounded young.

"Did you forget to pay the credit card bill?" He hated ruining her mood, but some things were best not put off.

The smile slid from her face, disappeared from her eyes. She waved her hand, turned her back to him, and resumed sweeping. "Of course not. I don't make the same mistake twice."

"I think you did."

She glanced over her shoulder. "I didn’t."

Gary picked up the envelope and unfolded the bill. "Late charge. Another thirty-five dollars. I know it's not much, but we’re on a fixed income, Jen."

Her mouth moved for a moment before she started talking, like she was practicing her words before saying them. "It must have gotten lost in the mail."

"Do you really think so?"

The broom clattered to the floor. Jenny turned fully toward him and put her hands on her hips, tapped her foot. "If I say I paid it, I paid it. Now stop questioning me. If I didn't know better, I'd think you don’t trust me anymore."

"Of course I trust you. I just don't trust…." Finishing that sentence would be tantamount to petting a rabid raccoon.

"What? What don't you trust?" Jenny took a step forward and then another, as if daring him to say it.

"Listen, why don't we just look at the checkbook and see if… see when you made out the check."

"If you trusted me, we wouldn’t have to."

He closed the distance between them and put a hand on her shoulder. "I know you think you sent it out."

"And what's that supposed to mean?"

If she was going to be stubborn, he’d have to change his tactic. "You have so much to do. Maybe I should take care of the bills."

Her face flamed. Her nostrils flared. "I've kept our checkbook for more than forty years. All you’d do is mess it up. Besides, this house isn’t nearly as much work as when the kids were around. Why, I used to do twice as much. Three times!"

There was no denying that, but the Jenny from then was far different than his Jenny today. "Jen, I’m sorry, but you're going to have to-"

She ducked out from under his arm, took several steps back. "Don't you dare tell me what I have to do!"

"You forget so much, lately. Too much. How old was your father when he started to-" He cut himself off. There was no sense finishing the sentence. Jenny had already banged out the door. As much as she’d hate for him to follow, he had no choice. He couldn’t stand it if she got lost again.

But, God, he was tired.

So, that's the update. How are you all doing?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Writing to evoke the senses

What I'm writing: I've begun that edit of In the Shadow of Olympus - yay! Also working on a couple of short stories
What I'm reading: Still reading the same book as last post - haven't had a lot of time for reading in the last couple of days
What I'm knitting: Sweater - back is done, front is about a quarter done, sleeves not yet started.

I'm in the second week of lessons for the F2K free writing course. I'm really enjoying the course because the assignments so far have been challenging and though provoking and the social aspect, getting to chat with other writers, is great. I would definitely recommend this course to any writer. There will be classes starting in April and August.

For part of the second assignment, we had to write one sentence for each of the eight senses (yes, I said eight and will explain in a moment). Each sentence had to evoke the sense without coming right out and saying what it was. It was a fun experiment in writing descriptive sentences. It was so easy to get caught up in writing long, compound sentences so you could describe every last thing you wanted. But, of course, the simpler was better.

The senses: Sight, Hearing, Taste, Smell, Touch, Time (era, time of day, time of year, etc), Space (open or enclosed, crowded or empty, a certain place), Unknown (a sense of foreboding, danger, or anticipation).

So, would you like to play along? Can you guess which sense each sentence was written for? - Remember, it's one sense per sentence (hopefully even if more than one sense is hinted at, one will be more prevalent) and all eight senses are used. I'd love your feedback because the only way I know if it's a hit or a miss is if you tell me!

1. His aftershave hung in the air, spicy and sweet.

2. The floor of the narrow path was sparsely dappled by stray sunlight penetrating the thick canopy.

3. Ten grasping fingers, ten tiny toes, a shock of red hair falling over eyes the color of sky – perfection.

4. The watermelon lip gloss didn't turn him off nearly as much as the undertone of garlic.

5. I admired the textured patchwork of worn fabric and careful stitches.

6. As she's airlifted above the warped wreckage, the chaos below is drowned out by a rhythmic thwump, thwump, thwump.

7. The lights blinked off, throwing the attic bedroom into inky darkness.

8. I pulled my cardigan more snugly around my chest and shuffled through the crinkling leaves.

Thanks for playing along!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Do You Need a Happy Ending? Ender's Game

What I'm writing: Assignments for F2K class
What I'm reading: Tough Cookie - Diane Mott Davidson
What I'm knitting: Sweater

My younger son, Mark, is an avid reader, but he doesn't recommend books for me to read. So when he said, "Mom, you should read Ender's Game (by Orson Scott Card)," I wasted no time in doing so. Now that I've finished it (but there are others in the series), I'm really glad I did.

For those who aren't familiar with the book, it's the tale of the Earth after it's been attacked by aliens twice. A third attack is expected, so some humans are bred specifically in the hope that a much-needed military genius will be found. Couples are only allowed to have two children, but if those children are close to what the government needs, but not quite right, they may be allowed (compelled?) to have a third. These Thirds are looked down upon by society.

The main character of the book, Ender, is one of these Thirds. He's taken away from his family (and oh, what a family) when he's six and put into training school. What happens from there is a web of training, lies, machinations, and violence. The adults all have an agenda and they'll push the children as far as they think they can to achieve their goals.

Without giving too much away (because if you haven't read it, you really should), I will tell you that the book, overall, is dark, with a few bright spots here and there to remind you there is still at least a little humanity.

Which brings me to the end of the book and the topic of this post (took me long enough, didn't it?). The book doesn't have a tie-it-in-a-yellow-bow happy ending. I don't think it could - not really. The ending is satisfying in a way that left me thinking: What would I do in Ender's shoes? Would I make the correct choices? Are there any correct choices?

Oh, how I love a book that  makes me think!

Anyway, there's no They lived happily ever after or All was well. There's only resolution (some - but questions as well) and a hope that's so slight, and so far in the future, that it is, perhaps, negligible. For me that's enough.

I don't need sugar-and-spice endings. I need endings that fit with the story, that are a natural progression for the lives that were affected, the storyline that was created. In other words, I need realism. Even in science-fiction, even in fantasy, the ending has to be realistic to the world created and the characters' motivations. That doesn't mean it has to be realistic to this world, this time, this place, but it does have to ring true to its own canon.

Now, I love the Harry Potter books, but I think we could have all done without that epilogue to book seven. It never seemed quite reasonable that a child who was put through what Harry was - who was neglected by his family, used by nearly every other adult (whether they wanted to or not), expected, really, to be a killer - would grow up to be a well-rounded family man. Wouldn't he have issues? Wouldn't he have trouble trusting? And what would his parenting skills be??

Ender, on the other hand, is shown as broken. Not broken beyond repair, not someone who has no hope, but still, we can see the scars on his soul. Realistic. That's why I loved the ending. I could 'feel' a truth to it.

And don't get me wrong. I love a happy ending. But only when it fits, and only when we know that the happiness is for this moment, that there are still battles and worries... and LIFE out there waiting.

How about you? Do you crave a happy ending for every book you read? Do you enjoy a 'happier' novel or are you satisfied reading something darker?

And if you're a writer, do you feel like you have to create a happy ending? Are you always conscious of the realism of your characters' actions, reactions, and story?

Let me know what you think....

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Literary Head Hopping - Stieg Larsson Millennium Trilogy

What I'm Writing: Concentrating on a couple of short stories
What I'm Reading: Stieg Larsson - The Girl Who Played With Fire
What I'm Knitting: My sweater - the back is finished and I've just started on the front

Reading Stieg Larrson's The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and (half-way through) The Girl Who Played With Fire makes me think in terms of Points of View. Larsson wrote his novels so the reader was constantly hopping from one character's head into another – the POV switches as quickly as the scenes do (and sometimes more so as we jump from head-to-head from thought-to-thought within a single scene). Sometimes it reads as omniscient, other times as simple POV switches. It works in a high energy/action novel like those in the Millennium Trilogy, but even so, it's not the way I write, and not the way I usually like to read.

I tend to write a close third-person POV. I hop into the head of my POV character and stick with him/her to the end. The reader knows the POV character's thoughts, but can't know anything the POV character doesn't know. What ever's a mystery to the POV character is a mystery to the reader. Think of the Harry Potter books – other than a couple of very short forays (think Snape, Bellatrix, and Narcissa at Spinner's End), the books were told completely from Harry's point of view. We didn't know anything he didn't know. Because we were in his head we generally liked who he liked, hated who he hated – right or wrong.

If J.K. Rowling had written from multiple POV's, we may have never had the question/debate of whether Snape was good or bad, whether Dumbledore was really dead, etc. It makes for great 'Aha!' moments when we, and the character, find out the truth. The reader often gets more emotionally connected as well.

As I'm reading the Millennium Trilogy, I find myself enjoying the books, but not really connecting on an emotional level with the characters. And I'll be damned if I can figure out why every woman seems to be a former, current, or future lover for Blomkvist. LOL. I haven't seen anything in his character that's overly attractive. Every time a new female character shows an interest in him, I shake my head.

So, Larsson gets us all used to jumping about, to knowing what every damned person is thinking (even secondary characters who really shouldn't matter enough to be shown their POV), and then he goes and pulls the rug out from under us. We've been hopping into one main character's head all through the first book and the first part of the second book, but then, just when it really matters, just when we want to know what this character thinks of the mess they've fallen into, we suddenly don't go back into that head – at least not in the hundred or more pages I've gotten through since the crime was committed. Sheesh!

Dean Koontz is an author whose POV changes I enjoy. He sticks to the POV of the two (sometimes three) main characters and sticks just to them. He keeps a POV throughout chapters and doesn't switch mid-way through. In many of his books, the MCs don't meet right away, so we switch between them, anxiously waiting for them to finally meet. I really love that format, but my husband, Jon, doesn't so much. He doesn't like getting involved with one character and then getting switched to another. I told him he really doesn't want to read Lord of the Rings, then. I've been known to groan, loudly, when POV switches in LotR after hundreds and hundreds of pages of being in the same character's head. NO!! Bring me back to Frodo!!!

I do realize that many readers don't even take note of POV switches and are probably rolling their eyes at me for being so picky about them, but, hey, it's just the way I am. And I didn't even touch on First, Second, and Third person POV – now there's another whole post! And tense… I could write and write about tense.

How about you? Do you have a POV type you'd rather read. Do you mind jumping from head to head while you're reading? Do you even notice it? If you think about your favorite book, do you know whose POV it's written in? What difference would it have made if it were written in a different point of view? (Yes, I want to know!).

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Day Out and Mark Guitar Videos

What I'm Writing: I'm about to jump into the edit of In the Shadow of Olympus. I'm also brainstorming a short story and getting ready for a writing class to start tomorrow - YIKES!
What I'm Reading: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - almost finished with it
What I'm Knitting: My funky geometric sweater - I didn't knit as much on it during the long weekend because I was getting toward the first decrease and wasn't sure how easy/hard I would find it to continue the pattern through decreases - but I finally took the leap last night only to find it was fairly easy.

Yesterday was a day off for Jon, Brian, and me. Mark went back to school yesterday after 11 days off (doesn't that figure? The rest of us have a day off and he's in school.).  The day before, we had decided to all go to the casino and then to an indoor flea market I like. Well, Brian stayed up too late, so he left us a note not to wake him (he knew we'd leave early), so Jon and I set out. We hit Rome and decided to go to the Walmart there because it's bigger than out local Walmart and I was trying to find hot salsa for Brian - the best we can get in our area is medium. I found it (Yay). We then decided we'd hit the Salvation Army thrift store before heading to the casino. I love thrift stores - I often sell the treasures I find  on ebay.

I bypassed the racks and racks of clothes and headed toward the back where they keep all non-clothing merchandise. Over the last few weeks, Jon and I have been looking into buying and elliptical - we both really need to get into shape - but we hadn't taken the plunge of spending close to $1000 (or more) on new exercise apparatus. Well, lo and behold, sitting at the Salvation Army was a Tony Little Gazelle - do you remember those from a few years back? They're something like an elliptical. This one was in great shape and the store was asking $15 for it. Jon and I looked it all over and decided we might as well buy it. If we like it, great, if we don't, we're not out much.

As we were looking at the Gazelle, I caught sight of two wooden CD racks. Mark's CD collection has outgrown the rack he has and I've been looking for something bigger. We bought both of those as well - I estimate they each hold about 250 CDs - so Mark isn't even close to filling one of them, but we'll have the second for back-up if we need it.

I also found a Joe Satriani cassette tape for Mark (he has the apparatus to play CDs, Cassettes, and LPs in his room - if he had an 8-track tape player, I think he'd be all set), a cute lamp, and two horse riding-toys for the granddaughter.

In the meantime, a man gave Jon a coupon that he wasn't going to be able to use ($7 off a $25 purchase). So we ended up with all that stuff for $38. Pretty cool.

We got it all home and cleaned it up. The Gazelle is already a family favorite and Mark has started filling one of the CD racks.

After all that shopping, we left the Salvation Army store and decided we really didn't want to go to the casino after all - and at that point, we really didn't have car space to go looking too heavily at the flea market. So instead, we drove to Utica to return a present and then toddled on home. It was actually lots of fun (isn't it always great to hang out with a loved one AND save money?? LOL).

So that was our day.

Speaking of buying used items, Jon bought an IPod from Brian's friend, Zach, the other day - he loves it. And Mark bought his cousin, Heather's, acoustic guitar she didn't play (which he also loves).

I filmed Mark playing three of his guitars last night (he has a fourth of his own, but also keeps an old guitar of Brian's and one of Jon's (a lefty that Mark restrung so he can play it right-handed), as well as his grandfather's old Bass in his room). Now, I don't want you to think we totally spoil the kid with all these guitars (though he is kinda spoiled). He's bought them all himself with the money he makes from working in the summer, except for the Randy Rhodes Jackson we bought him for Christmas.

The vids are on Youtube if you want to see how he's progressing -
This first one is with his new Acoustic guitar.
This one is with his Les Paul gold-top.
And this is the Randy Rhodes guitar.

The videos are a little dark.

Hope everyone has a wonderful New Year!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Free Writing Course

What I'm Writing: I'm betwixt and between
What I'm Reading: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson
What I'm Knitting: A sweater for me with this funky retro geometric design

Happy New Year!

I've signed up for a free writing course that starts January 5th. It's called F2K Social (because, like Nanowrimo in a way, it also attempts to get the writers socializing at some level - writing is a lonely endeavor, so it's never a bad thing to connect to other writers). The class starts January 5th, so there's still time to sign up.

A little info from the website:

What is F2K?

F2K: Fiction Writing for the New Millennium

F2K is a free online creative writing course sponsored by Writers' Village University and staffed by volunteer Mentors.

The course includes seven one-week fiction writing lessons and is designed for beginning writers; however, intermediate and advanced writers are encouraged to take the course as a refresher or to socialize with and encourage beginning writers. Thousands of writers have discovered that F2K  is a great way to break writers block.

I've been considering joining Writer's Village University with a one-year subscription, but I thought I'd get my feet wet first with the free course.

In other writing news - I've kind of slacked off on my editing of Gods Willing. It wasn't holding my attention and if it's not holding mine, it's not going to hold anyone else's. I do believe I'll start the editing on In the Shadow of Olympus and then come back to Gods Willing with a fresh perspective later on. I think it's a good story, but I just haven't found that spark it needs yet.

I'm also looking at a few short story contests to enter. I really do need to spread my wings more if I want to tackle the literary world.

In the mean time, I'm wishing you all the best in your 2011!