Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Writing Thoughts

I've had a lot on my mind about writing lately.  I need to post this now as I am going out with my firend Julia tonight.  When we get to talking - well, let's just say we both lose all track of time.  Right, Julia? LOL

2010 has been a bumpy year for me writing wise.  I kept up with my writing because it is just something I have to do for myself.  However, I'm not super thrilled with anything I wrote this year.  There are a couple of things I like well enough, but nothing that I really love.  Strangely, I'm all right with this and accept that not every thing is going to be perfect.  Sometimes, I just have to write something to keep in practice and settle the urge I have to do it.

I'm hoping to complete writing projects in 2011 that I am more proud of, though.  I am going to keep better track of what I write, as well.  I'm not going to stress myself out over the amount I write but strive for more fulfilling works in progress.  I'm going to try to write - from start to finish, including editing - two novels this year.  Plus I'll do NaNoWriMo in November and hopefully complete one work in progress that I've had since 2009.  It seems like a lot but I want the challenge.

Of course, there is always my dream of becoming published.  I have to work harder at this part of it.  As I said a couple of months ago - I get lazy about this part of the process.  I am going to put more effort into finding myself an agent this year.  So yeah, I'm filling my writing cup to the brim but I feel up to the challenges I'm giving myself.  Feel free to keep me accountable.  LOL

What are your big goals for the year?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Teaser Tuesday's: Ten Things I Love About You by Julia Quinn

Teaser Tuesday's is hosted by Miz B at Should Be Reading. To play along, do the following:

Grab your current read -

Open to a random page -

Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page -

BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
From Ten Things I Love About You by Julia Quinn, page15:  
"It was as if all the ton shared some secret history that Annabel was not privy to.  Every conversation held an undecurrent, a deeper, more subtle meaning."

Monday, December 27, 2010

My Five Favorite Books of 2010

I wasn't sure if I wanted to do a 'Best Of' post.  Then I read my friend Julia's favorites post and decided, why not? I told her imitation is flattery and set about trying to narrow my list to just five.  Now that  was the hard part.

1. The Mercy of Thin Air by Ronlyn Domingue - I read this book back in February and I am still touched - and slightly haunted - by it.  Ms. Domingue's writing is rich, imaginative and seemed well thought out to me.  Once I was done with the book, I immediately went on the hunt for more books by this author.  Imagine my surprise to learn that this was her one - and so far, only - work of fiction.  According to her official website, the second book is in the works.  I know I am looking forward to reading more by Ronlyn Domingue.  If you enjoy a mix of history, a touch of romance and loss, and a bit of mysticism - then I definitely recommend this book.

2. Eternal on the Water by Joseph Monninger - This was an ARC that I read in January for Barnes and Nobles First Look program.  I am still so grateful for the opportunity I was given to read and review this book.  I count this book among my all-time favorites.  The settings are exquisite and I love the way Mr. Monninger used nature as a sort of character in the book.  You know from the first pages of the book that the story is, to some degree, about loss but the love, the natural settings and the exquisite attention to detail are well-worth the journey.

3. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows - I am drawn to books - fiction and nonfiction - about World War 2.  This was a horiffic and abyssmal time in human history but I feel that it is a time we should not be allowed to forget and sweep under a rug.  Guernsey is a tiny island in the English channel that was occupied by the Nazis during WW2.  This book is about a group of the Guernsey islanders who refused to give up in the face of tyranny.  I cried reading this book but I also found hope in it.  I was reminded of the strength of the human spirit.  The funny thing is - it took me three tries to really get into this book.  However, once I got into it - I could not put it down.

4. The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson - I discovered Mr. Larsson and his Millenium series this year.  While I mostly enjoyed the entire series (some of it was admittedly a bit too graphic for me) I really loved the second book in the trilogy.  Lisbeth Salander is a strong and rather eccentric character and I just loved her.  Her character made the series for me and I felt she shined the absolute most in this book - which is why it is one of my favorite reads of the year. Sadly, we won't be receiving any more books from the now deceased Larsson, but he left us with a most intriguing trilogy of books and one of the best female characters in a long time.

5. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein - This is another book that made me cry - quite a lot, in fact - and had moments of loss that I pretty much knew were coming.  However, it was such a unique book and I adore the fact that it was told from the perspective of a dog.  I know there are other stories about dogs and maybe even some from the dog POV but this is the first I've read.  Enzo (the dog) so clearly loves and adores his person Denny.  He knows things that are going to occur in Denny's life before he does (usually because of his sense of smell) but he can't do anything to warn him.  He can only be there for Denny in the most loving and supportive way possible as his human deals with his life.  It's just a beautiful story and I loved it so much.  There is supposedly a movie version of the book coming in 2012.  I will be interested in seeing how the book translates to film.

In addition to these amazing books, I discovered three more authors that I just adore.  They are: Julia Quinn (she writes witty and beautiful romance novels that are filled with the strong characters I love), Sarah Addison Allen (mystical books with a touch of romance and a whole lot of human heart) and Stuart Neville (he wrote a book that opened my eyes to a lot of Irish history.  It was brutal but also very intriguing).  I will definitely be open to reading more books by any of these authors in this post.

I would love to know others' favorite books of the year.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

I just want to wish all of you a very Happy Holiday! I hope you have the most wonderful day with your families. 
Merry Christmas to All, and to All, a Good Night!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Christmas Carol - Stave Five: The End of It

"God Bless Us, Every One!"

As iconic as it is, I believe Dickens ended his book in the most beautiful way.  The fact that Tiny Tim is the one to wish the above blessing makes it all the sweeter.  It is the epitome of pure love, giving and innocence.  And if that doesn't sum up the Spirit of Christmas - I don't know what does.

I truly loved this book.  This final Stave - and witnessing Scrooge in the glory of his redemtion was such a gift.  It shows that even the grouchiest, stingiest person truly can change; then go on to live out a spiritually rich and giving life.

I will absolutely read this book again.  My children are still a bit too small for the story but I look forward to reading it with them at some point in the future.  I feel this book is indeed a family classic.

Merry Christmas to everyone.  I hope 2011 is full of happiness for all.

Here are links for the previous posts of the read-a-long if you are interested: Stave One, Stave Two, Stave Three and Stave Four

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

All You Need Is Now --

-- is finally here! Well, most of it but it is AMAZING! This iTunes only, partial album release has already sky rocketed to number one on the iTunes download charts in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Italy.  And it is number three in Japan.  All of this on the first day of the albums release.  Like I said, amazing.

The tracks on this - the 13th studio release by Duran Duran - are a wonderful mix of modern technological sound and classic Duran Duran.  The tracks releases today are as follows:

1. All You Need Is Now
2. Blame the Machines
3. Being Followed
4. Leave a Light On
6. Girl Panic
7. The Man Who Stole a Leopard
8. Runway Runaway
9. Before the Rain

So far, my favorite track is 'Leave a Light On'.  It is so incredibly beautiful.  The full length CD and vinyl versions of All You Need Is Now are due to be released February 2011.  I am really looking forward to hearing the rest of this outstanding album.  I am also really, really hoping for a tour.  I'm fairly certain one is on the horizon.

EDITING TO ADD: Oops! I swear I thought I was posting this to my Duran Duran blog.  I thought (for about five seconds) about deleting this from here but I'm not going to.  Now you all know just how much I love Duran Duran.  I have a blog all about them and their amazing music.  I'm adding this post to the DD blog, too.  LOL

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Christmas Carol - Stave Four: The Last of the Spirits

                                    "I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.  I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future.  The Spirits of all three shall strive within me.  I will not shut out the lessons that they teach."

I know this is supposed to be a spooky part in the book (and I have to admit that I am a bit creeped out at this section of the movie) but there was so much of this part that I found a bit funny.  I imagine it is the way that Dickens wrote it - or perhaps just my strange sense of humor - but I founf Scrooge's seeming unintelligence humorous.  Of course, who knows how one would act if faced with their own death as Scrooge was in this Stave.  Plus, he was forced to see the utter disregard he inspired in people. 

I really enjoyed the fact that Scrooge finally has his spiritual turnaround in this part, though.  I love that he realizes he needs to be a better person all the way around.  I love that he finally realizes that his actions definitely have consequences upon himself and others.  The fact that he is so touched by The Cratchits  and especially Tiny Tim - is always moving to me.

The only thing I wish this Stave would have shown would be Scrooge's nephews reaction to his uncle's death.  It would have been quite interesting to know if his nephew would have felt any sadness at the loss of his uncle. 

I look forward to finishing the book - and then seeing the movie again.  How is everyone else enjoying the book?

Book Blogger Hop December 17 - 20, 2010

Book Blogger HopThis week's Book Blogger Hop question is:

"What do you consider the most important part in a story the plot or the characters?"

This is a slightly difficult question for me to answer as I feel both plot and characterization are important in a story.  However, in the essence of the Hop, and answering the question, I will say characters are most important.  Well developed characters can help a slightly less developed plot, in my opinion.  As long as there are strong characters- I am generally a happy reader.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Teaser Tuesday's: Holiday Grind by Cleo Coyle

Teaser Tuesday's is hosted by Miz B at Should Be Reading. To play along, do the following:

Grab your current read -

Open to a random page -

Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page -

BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

From Cleo Coyle's Holiday Grind:

"Giving! Selfless giving! That's what we're celebrating! The Christ child's birth is a gift of love to a weary world! All these symbols - the tree, the lights, the carols -it all comes down to love!"

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Christmas Carol - Stave Three: The Second of the Three Spirits

"A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to the old man, whatever he is!" said Scrooge's nephew.  "He wouldn't take it from me, but may he have it nevertheless.  Uncle Scrooge!"

This stave, with the ghost of Christmas Present, is definitely my favorite in the book so far.  I laughed at Scrooge's surprise over the sheer size of the giant spirit.  Their initial meeting was described so beautifully by Dickens with all of the Christmas decorations.  Plus, all of the food made me hungry.  I have to admit that I have no idea what some of the food is, though.  I've heard of mince pie but I've never had it and don't know what is in it.  And I have no idea what a twelfth-night cake is, either.  Apparently, I need to do a bit of research here.

Another thing that I adore about this stave is that Scrooge gets a great look at how people all over are celebrating Christmas.  I don't recall the Ghost of Christmas Present giving Scrooge the tour that took him to fisherman's boats and many other places in any of the movie versions I've seen.

It's enlightening, I believe, for Scrooge to witness the Christmas celebrations of the Cratchitt's and his nephews.  I really don't think he ever thought of either man as actually having any sort of fulfilling life.  He is shown that they do indeed have lives away from the small bit of space encompassed by him; and that they are rich in a way he can't understand because they have people to love and be loved by.

I feel that the Ghost of Christmas Present helps Scrooge to turn a corner within himself moreso than the Ghost of Christmas Past.  I love the end of the stave with the 'children' of Ignorance and Want.  The fear that Scrooge begins to feel once again is palpable.  Especially with the fact that there is no lag time between Spirits.  I like that the Third Spirit is there right away.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Book Blogger Hop - 12/10 - 12/13/10

Book Blogger Hop This week's Book Blogger Hop question is:
"What is the thing you like most about reading book blogs? Is it the reviews, author guest posts, articles, giveaways, or something else entirely?"
I do like every aspect listed in the question about book blogs.  However, the thing I like best is the sense of community that I have found to exist with book bloggers.  I also like how blogging has made the world a more easily accessible place. I love that I have made new contacts - and even a couple of friends - with people that I otherwise may never have met.  In fact, one of my closer, real life friends and I bonded over books and blogging.  I am grateful, on a regular basis, for the way that book blogging has enriched my life.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Teaser Tuesday's: The Snow Globe by Sheila Roberts

Teaser Tuesday's is hosted by Miz B at Should Be Reading. To play along, do the following:

Grab your current read -

Open to a random page -

Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page -

BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
my teaser is from The Snow Globe by Sheila Roberts.  I am really enjoying this holiday read about love, magic and remembering what is really important in life; not just at the holidays, but always.  Teaser from page: 79:
"It's not just a decoration, Suz," Kiley said, looking at her earnestly.  "I hope you give it a chance to do something for you."

Monday, December 6, 2010

National Novel Writing Month 2010

I said I would do a NaNoWriMo wrap-up post and here it is - finally.  The goal of the challenge is to write a 50,000 word novel during the thirty days of November.  Well, the first draft of said novel, anyway.  That amounts to 1,667 words per day to win the challenge.  This really shouldn't be a difficult task for me since I write all the time anyway.  Let me just say it was by sheer bull headedness that I won the NaNoWriMo challenge this year.  I am proud that I won (at 51,852 words) and know that I will do this again next year.

All of that being said - NaNo was a heck of a ride for me this year.  First of all - I tried writing a novel with some science fiction twists as a main part of the story.  Science fiction is not my normal writing genre.  Now I know why.  LOL I stuck with it and I am glad that I tried something new but next year I'll stick with what I know and love.

In addition to writing a foreign-to-me genre my family had a rather time consuming (and exhausting) health issue to deal with.  It was just a heck of a month.  It really showed me what it will be like to be on a strict writing deadline and still have everyday life to deal with.  I mean that in the best way as my family always comes first for me.  I just mean that I feel I got a taste of what my life will be like when I'm living my writing dream full time.  Chaotic but worth every single moment.

Friday, December 3, 2010

A Christmas Carol - Stave Two: The First of the Three Spirits

All your other hopes have merged into the hope of being beyond the chance of its sordid reproach.  I have seen your nobler aspirations fall off one by one, until the master=passion, Gain, engrosses you.

I am still loving this book.  I continue to marvel at Dickens' ability to pack so much meaning into a rather short story.  I keep asking myself why I have put off reading Charles Dickens.  I haven't got a decent response.  I am just really glad I am finally rectifying the situation.

Scrooge gets to take a trip to his past with the visit from the first spirit.  We learn that Scrooge wasn't always so cold and unfeeling.  It was his lust for money - his desire to move far beyond poverty - that started blinding him to all else in the world.  I believe that losing the woman he was meant to marry sent him further down his lonely path.  He made his own choices but I think (at this point in the story) that he felt undeserving and only in control where money was concerned.  While I can definitely understand the desire to succeed, I would be miserable without my family.  It becomes apparent that Scrooge does indeed feel that he missed out on the chance for love and family.

This stave made me feel really sad.  I had to remind myself that there is redemption for Scrooge.