Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Spring Reading Thing

Here’s something fun for you:

The Spring Reading Thing!

Challenge yourself to read those books you’ve been meaning to get to but keep putting off…

I’m a little late to the party, since it’s running from March 21 - June 21, but I figure there’s still time to jump in and play. So here’s my list:

The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus - A friend just loaned me this book, and since the movie’s coming out soon, I figure I’ll check out the appeal. Update: A quick, entertaining read. I finished it in a weekend! Reminded me of Bridget Jones, with the requisite chick lit 1st person slightly tormented, slightly neurotic, very single-and-struggling-to-find-a-meaningful-job heroine. Still, the 2 authors are spot-on in their satire of Manhattan nanny life. Unfortunately, I know mothers like Mrs. X. You'll like this one--give it a try!

Perfect Match by Jodi Picoult - She’s my latest favorite author. I was going to put down 19 Minutes, her latest release, but it’s about a school shooting, and I’m not sure I’m up for that. This novel’s about a couple torn apart by the assault of their young son and the lengths they go to manipulate the justice system and seek revenge. Still not too promising for a light read, but she tackles tough issues, and I like her for that.

Love is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time by Rob Sheffield - Believe it or not, my students have been raving about this memoir all year. Guess it’s time I see what’s so terrific about it. Plus, what child of the 80s doesn’t remember the decade of mix tapes? Update: This was a terrific memoir of a writer for Rolling Stone who lost his wife after 5 years of marriage, when they were both only 31. Poignant, well-written, and even humorous in places, it chronicles the couple's courtship through the classic icon of the mix tape. A fast read and one I'd recommend to anyone.

Never the Same by Diane Craver - This one’s an inspirational romance, an e-book that I won from a fellow Samhain author. I promised her a review on my blog, so I need to get going!

The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama - With the Presidential campaigns gearing up, I’d like to finish this nonfiction work and find out more about the newcomer from Illinois.

Anything by Jennifer Cruisie - She’s one of the biggest names in the romance genre, so I feel as though I should be familiar with her work, and yet I haven’t found a novel by her I could really get into. Any suggestions? Update: I made my way through Tell Me Lies and really enjoyed it, to my surprise! With a confused but endearing heroine, a sexy-as-hell hero, a murder mystery, a small town, and secrets between could I lose? My favorite part was reading Crusie's dialogue--great, believable stuff.

That’s probably about all I can manage, with the crunch time of school’s end fast approaching. But I hope there’s a Summer Reading Challenge as well, because I always have a list of books for those hazy days of July and August.

C’mon, join me! What books will be on your spring reading list?

Friday, April 20, 2007

Friday's Feast

"There aren't enough days in the weekend."
~Rob Schmidt

As it has been a long week, today's post is the Friday Feast and nothing more. Want to play along? Leave me your link in a comment!

Appetizer : What is your favorite kind of bread?
My local grocery store has a rosemary olive oil that's to die for!

Soup: When was the last time you bought a new pillow?
Decorative or functional? Probably 2 months for the former and 12 months for the latter.

Salad: Approximately how many hours per week do you spend surfing the ‘net?
Does "surfing" imply just looking around at various links, killing time 'cause it's better than cleaning the house, or having a purpose while you're there and looking for specific information? Hmm...I'll say somewhere from 10 minutes to a couple of hours a day and leave it at that.

Main Course : What’s the highest you remember your temperature being?
Can't say I recall...probably sometime when I was a kid it was up around 101. Nothing too scary, that I can remember.

Dessert: Fill in the blanks: When I ____________, I _____________.
When I am stressed, I eat more chocolate than I should.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Why I Harbor Hope

"Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all."
~Dale Carnegie

Congratulations to Marianne, the winner of yesterday’s drawing for an Amazon gift certificate!

And thank to everyone who stopped by this blog and/or the one over at TWRP (if you didn’t read that one, you can still swing by there when you get a chance).

Today, I wanted to share something that reminds me why I teach, why I write happy endings, and why there is still great hope for people in the world despite the sadness of the last few days.

I keep in touch with many of my former students, and one young woman who’s now a senior in college stopped by to visit about a month ago with the exciting news that she had made her decision about graduate school. She wants to pursue Higher Education Administration, and she plans on going to Virginia Tech.

Yes, Virginia Tech.

So, after the news broke earlier this week, I dropped her an email:

Are you OK?? Virginia Tech is where you'd decided to go to graduate school, right? Imagine you're pretty shell-shocked with the news right now. Hope you're doing all right.

Her response?

I'm okay. But it's really scary to hear about it. And there is nothing I can really do at this time about it. It's a time of mourning for the campus, and it will affect the lives of all of us in the years to come. It will be very prevalent in my time there because I will be there in a year for the anniversary of it.

What this event really makes me do is want to make sure it doesn't happen somewhere else. I'm going to Tech for a reason. And I'm going to get a degree in the field of Higher Education. Part of my job in the future is to make sure this doesn't happen again. It's a tragedy that's also a wake up call to administrators and personnel. The real tragedy will be if this is allowed to happen again. We can't change what happened, but through education we can try to ensure it doesn't happen again.

As scary as it is, it could really happen anywhere. I'm just blessed that I wasn't there when it did. And from my experiences at the campus, I would have never imagined it to happen there. It's such a warm and welcoming community that this event is very atypical. And even in this time of horror, I still feel Tech is where I'm supposed to be. I think this event may play a huge role in my education and possibly shape my career.

Some people say the answers are metal detectors and stricter gun laws, but I don't think that's it. People react this way because of how they are treated. And they also show warning signs before they actually commit the act. The friends or co-workers of these people need to be given the confidence to stand up and talk to law enforcement or talk to the person and say "this is wrong." Students need to be educated on the warning signs and given mentors or adults that they can turn to when things seem amiss. The answer is education. And that is my future.

Thank you for your concern. I really appreciate it. But I am continuing my apartment search and still planning to attend there. I am going to email one of the professors in my program and see if there is anything in our program about violence on a collegiate level. And if there is nothing about it, then I want to know how can we integrate it into the curriculum.

Talk to you soon…

God bless the idealistic 21-year olds in the world who can remind us of the power of believing in the future, hmm?

OK, I’m off to write! Making good progress on One Night in Memphis, thankfully. And I just heard from my Wild Rose Press editor that she'll be starting the edits on Lost in Paradise next week. Exciting!

How has your week been, anyway?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Writers' Wednesday: How To Stay Motivated

“I have not failed [at inventing the light bulb] 700 times. I have proven 700 ways it will not work.”
~Thomas Edison

Welcome to another Writers' Wednesday! Remember, if you leave a comment on today's post, you'll be entered into a random drawing to win a $5 Amazon gift certificate. Thanks for stopping by!


Sometimes it seems as though the effort of writing just isn’t worth it. You want to find an agent, and all you get are “Thanks but not right for us” letters. Or you desperately want to get published but can’t convince a publisher to request anything more than a partial. Or you really wish you could finish a darn story, but you can’t find the time or the words just won’t come.

It’s easy to give up on days like these. It’s easier to find other things to do, to just say, “Well, it isn’t meant to be."

But here, in no particular order, are 10 reasons you shouldn’t:

#1. Einstein was 4 years old before he could speak and 7 years old before he could read.

#2. A newspaper editor once fired Walt Disney because “he had no good ideas.”

#3. Beethoven’s music teacher once said of him, “As a composer, he is hopeless.”

#4. As a boy, Thomas Edison was told by his schoolteachers he was too stupid to learn anything.

#5. Leo Tolstoy flunked out of college.

#6. Winston Churchill failed 6th grade.

#7. Abraham was defeated for Congress 4 times before being elected President of the United States.

#8. Louis Pasteur was rated “mediocre” in chemistry at Royal College.

#9. Louisa May Alcott was told by an editor she could never write anything that had popular appeal.

#10. Stephen King was told, of his first horror novel Carrie, “We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell.”

Print out this page and tape it up somewhere (or heck, stick it in a drawer. I won’t care ;) ). And whenever you’re feeling discouraged, read it over. Everyone has faced challenges and disappointment and a certain level of failure in their pursuits. The truly successful don’t let it kill their spirit.

Write on!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Take a Moment

Today, I was going to blog about my writing progress (decent) and my pleasure with the first stages of working with The Wild Rose Press (good), but in light of the terrible shootings at Virginia Tech yesterday, anything about me seems pretty insignificant.

If I start to write, I’ll go on and on about how such a horrific act reflects on our society, or how so many children don't know how to manage their anger, since they’re surrounded with images of violence from the time they’re born, or how we do our best to instill values in young adults and send them off to universities only to have something devastating end all that potential.

So I’ll only ask that maybe sometime today, you’ll say a prayer or observe a moment of silence or ask the universe to send strength and comfort to all those people who are trying to put together the pieces of their life today.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Rainy Days and Mondays Always Get Me Down

"A poet is someone who stands outside in the rain hoping to be struck by lightning."
~James Dickey

Well, we’re weathering the storm here OK, though we’re seeing lots of local flooding. Could be worse, I suppose. Oh yes, it could be snow! That’s right. I’ll be thankful for small favors.

A member of my local RWA chapter loaned me The Book from last year’s RWA National Conference in Atlanta, and I had a chance to go through it over the weekend. Lots and lots of interesting-looking workshops; I don’t know how I would ever choose which ones to attend! I loved reading the workshop titles, alone. Here are some of my favorites:

50 Ways to (Nearly) Kill Your Lover
A Sagging Middle and What to Do About It
The Care and Feeding of Big Black Moments
Make It Last or Come Too Soon - How To Write Sexual Tension
Real Women Kick Ass
What Are You Feeling and Why Should I Care?

Finally, I received a really funny email clip from a friend over the weekend, which I’ll share with you all:

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Lovin' the 80s

"I love that you get cold when it's 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you're looking at me like I'm nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it's not because I'm lonely, and it's not because it's New Year's Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible."
~from "When Harry Met Sally"

So one of my favorite radio stations always has a "classic 80s" weekend, when all they play is music from that decade.

And I love it, of course, because I'm a child of the 80s so I can sing along with every lyric, in-between remembering dances in the high school gym and adolescent heartbreak (which happened about every other month, right??)

Anyway, the music got me to thinking about all the great artists out of the 80s, all the great fashions (OK, maybe not :) and all the great movies.

"When Harry Met Sally" remains on my all-time list of Top 5 Movie Favorites, and I'm not sure why except that it's funny and romantic and stars two great actors. Plus there are so many lines that are downright hilarious.

So here, for your lazy Sunday entertainment, are a few quotes and a couple of clips from that classic (including THE restaurant scene). Enjoy the walk down Memory Lane (and for God's sake, if you haven't seen this movie, run out today and rent it. Seriously).

Sally: Well, if you must know, it was because he was very jealous, and I had these days of the week underpants.
Harry: Ehhhh. I'm sorry. I need the judges ruling on this. "Days of the weeks underpants"?
Sally: They had the days of the week on them, and I thought they were sort of funny. And then one day Sheldon says to me, "You never wear Sunday." It was all suspicious. Where was Sunday? And I told him, and he didn't believe me.
Harry: What?
Sally: They don't make Sunday.
Harry: Why not?
Sally: Because of God.


Harry: There are two kinds of women: high maintenance and low maintenance.
Sally: Which one am I?
Harry: You're the worst kind. You're high maintenance but you think you're low maintenance.


Harry: You know how a year to a person is like seven years to a dog?
Sally: Is one of us supposed to be a DOG in this scenario?
Harry: Yes.
Sally: Who is the dog?
Harry: You are.
Sally: I am? I am the dog? I am the dog?


Harry: You realize of course that we could never be friends.
Sally: Why not?
Harry: What I'm saying is - and this is not a come-on in any way, shape or form - is that men and women can't be friends because the sex part always gets in the way.
Sally: That's not true. I have a number of men friends and there is no sex involved.
Harry: No you don't.
Sally: Yes I do.
Harry: No you don't.
Sally: Yes I do.
Harry: You only think you do.
Sally: You say I'm having sex with these men without my knowledge?
Harry: No, what I'm saying is they all WANT to have sex with you.
Sally: They do not.
Harry: Do too.
Sally: They do not.
Harry: Do too.
Sally: How do you know?
Harry: Because no man can be friends with a woman that he finds attractive. He always wants to have sex with her.
Sally: So, you're saying that a man can be friends with a woman he finds unattractive?
Harry: No. You pretty much want to nail 'em too.
Sally: What if THEY don't want to have sex with YOU?
Harry: Doesn't matter because the sex thing is already out there so the friendship is ultimately doomed and that is the end of the story.
Sally: Well, I guess we're not going to be friends then.
Harry: I guess not.
Sally: That's too bad. You were the only person I knew in New York


By the way, what's your favorite movie? Can you name it? Quote from it? And how many times have you seen it?