Saturday, February 28, 2009

Where the Lilacs Bloom

It won't be long now. We've got a forecast for snow tonight. With forays to Maine, Nova Scotia, Cambridge, and beyond scheduled intermittently through the coming year, seasons have been on my mind. I'm feeling a sense of grounded relief to have my boots stuck in the muck of Green Harbor again. My poor guy is still shivering up in Nova Scotia.

The amusing irony for me, these past weeks, has been the weather warning chorus. Everyone, upon hearing I'd be spending time in Nova Scotia, bade me be careful of the freezing and snow. Nova Scotia's weather report is very, very rarely different from the one in my home town. It is a little bit colder on most days by a degree or two. This year we actually got the greater amount of snow down here on the balmy shores of Green Harbor. It's 40 degrees this morning. Back in Halifax, where I left my darling boy, it's 39. We have snow forecast. Halifax has rain.

Honestly? On most given days it would be impossible to tell the difference between the Halifax in Nova Scotia and the one a few miles south of here.

Some might be dismayed by the similarity. I am not. In spite of having crappy lungs and very problematic skin, I love seasons and don't mind the cold weather. Plus, my home-away-from-home has something in common with the home of my heart.

Just outside both doors are the first shout of joy to meet the spring, my favorite flower: lilacs. There really is no point in spring without them. Antique, fluffy, burgeoning bunches of pale purple giving off a scent that can't be rivaled. Some people meet the snowdrops and crocuses, the daffodils and hyacinth with a renewed heart. For me, lilacs will always mean comfort, joy, sweetness, and home. I've never lived anywhere without an astonishing bush of these flowers by my door. Ahmed tried buying a shrub for the brownstone that was once his bachelor pad. We ended up transplanting the good ones from Maine. Antique lilacs are completely different. The flowers are heavy, dense clusters. The fragrance is heady and pure.

Seeing the shape of the leaves, left dry and brittle, on the stalks by the door in the little place we have in Dartmouth, just over the bridge from Halifax, Ahmed promised that spring was going to come. We both laughed, but it gave me more than hope. It reminded me that wherever we are, we can find a sort of satellite that transforms the place into a second home. With someone we love close by it's not hard.

And lilacs. You have to have lilacs.

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Book List

Apparently the BBC reckons most people will have only read 6 of the 100 books here.
1) Look at the list and put an 'x' after those you have read. Put a '-' after ones you've started but not finished.
2) Add a '+' to the ones you LOVE.
3) Star (*) those you plan on reading.
4) Tally your total at the bottom.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen +
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien -
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte x
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee X
6 The Bible -
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte x
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell X
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens ? maybe?
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott +
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles Thomas Hardy ? I think
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger X
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger +
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell +
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams -
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky x
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck x
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll X
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame X
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis X
34 Emma - Jane Austen +
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen +
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis +
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne +
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell X
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery +
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood +
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert X
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen +
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck X
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold -
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding +
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville X
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker x
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett x
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce X
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens X
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker x
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White x
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams x
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare X
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl +
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

I'm not counting the ones I've started but not finished because I probably won't ever.
So I guess 35. And maybe 37.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Songs Of Our Youth

What song reminds you of high school? All the Fictionistas are chiming in on this one today:

For Kristen:

For me, it's Simple Minds, Don't You Forget About Me. Every time I hear that, I'm back in my BFF's living room, watching The Breakfast Club on VHS, eating nachos and talking about boys.

For Amanda:
Whenever I hear John Mellencamp and Me'shell Ngedeocello's cover of Van Morrison's "Wild Night," I'm immediately transported to the summer in between junior and senior years of high school when I was working at a pizza place on Hilton Head Island (my grandma has a house there). I spent that summer hanging out with my cousin and partying at a beachfront mansion where this chick he was dating worked a nanny. That home happened to be owned by one Mr. John Mellencamp and the nanny was employed to watch his kids, but they were rarely actually there. I never met Mellencamp, but I got to see one of his gold records.

For Rhonda:

OMG, so many songs bring me back to high school. But one immediately comes to mind: Prince's song If I Was Your Girlfriend--I distinctly remember this one chick in class who sang it over...and over...and over again. haha.

For Mel:
There are so many songs I can think of that take me right back to high school, but Van Halen Dreams from their 51/50 album reminds me of my senior year. It was our class song and nothing fit us better. And btw, this is still one of my favorite all time albums. Sammy Hagar = yum.

For Gwenster:

Senior year was all about Def Lepard. They stayed on the charts for so long and I admit to recording this video on VHS for instant playback...over and over and over....

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Review of THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins

As a writer, I find that when I pick up a novel, my reading is much more critical than it used to be. I find myself checking to make sure threads are resolved, that character motivation feels plausible and interesting, that the plot is progressing in a logical and well-paced manner, and so on.

Every once in a while, I run across a book that catches me up in the story, making me forget to check those things.

And even more rarely--every once in a blue moon, I'll find a book that literally knocks the wind out of me. That makes me gasp and laugh and cry. That makes me both excited to be an author and lamenting that I didn't write it.

I finished reading one of those books last night.

The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins. A young adult novel set in a dystopic future, where there is no more North America--only a place called Panem, with its gorgeous capitol and twelve outlying districts. Back in the day, the districts gathered together and rebelled against the capitol. The capitol defeated them soundly, even oblitering what used to be the 13th district.

Now, as part of the peace treaty terms, every year each district must draw the names of one boy and one girl, between the ages 12 and 18, to participate in a yearly event called the Hunger Games--a fully televized, commercialized fight to the death held in a massive terrained arena, to see which person will be left standing. That person will be lavished with prized goodies and food, as will their district.

The heroine, Katniss, is horrified when her younger sister's name is drawn, so she steps forward to take her place as the female candidate (called "tributes") from district 12, which hasn't had a winner in thirty years. A skilled hunter used to living off the land, Katniss will use her skills and fight to hopefully survive the Hunger Games.

Okay, I admit, the cover didn't do too much for me at first (once you read the story, the symbolism makes perfect sense). I'd actually bought the book a couple of months ago and hadn't cracked it open yet. But I'd heard such praise for this story that I finally couldn't resist and started reading it on Monday night. And once I picked it up, it was magnetic. Compelling. Riveting.

Basically, un-put-downable.

The author is so deft at weaving a story that doesn't overwhelm you with tedious worldbuilding details or slow pacing, but is still rich and lush in vivid details that suck you in. And the story, the characters--where to start? I'm so tongue-tied, I don't even know how to gush properly. LOL. It's a love story. A mystery. An action tale of survival. A cautionary warning of the effects of war on children, on families.

I loved reading about the flawed heroine...I felt like she was so tangible and fascinating. And the other main character in the story, a guy named Peeta who is the male tribute from district 12, is just as amazing to me. He's ambiguous, charming, and so realistic.

In the end, the best way to sum up my pleasure with this book is to say I wish I had enough money to buy a copy for everyone I know. LOL. Also, I'm requiring this as reading for my children--I believe they'll love it, too. This is one that will remain on my keeper shelf.

Oh, and I just found out there's a sequel coming out--YAY! I'm happy to hear that, because it ended with some unresolved issues.

So, has anyone else read The Hunger Games? I'd love to hear your thoughts. Or, have you recently read a story that just blew them away? Do share--I'm always looking for new recommendations!!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Random Picture Day

This picture has been making the rounds on the internet, but in case you hadn't seen it, I wanted to share. I think it's so cool! Look at it very closely. The black camel shapes are actually shadows, the thin white lines beneath those shapes are the actual camels. This aerial photograph really captured an amazing shot!Just a little fun for your brain on an otherwise ordinary Tuesday.

Monday, February 23, 2009

desk job

When I'm on deadline, I put on my blinders and ignore the rest of the world (except when I'm procrastinating) and I sit at my desk and work. I don't cook, clean, do laundry, or bathe (okay, I do occasionally bathe). I write.

During my write-a-thon, I also ignore my sweet little black pug, Ruby, more than is allowed. So she does very bad things to get my attention. Like bring me shoes from my closet, or toys from the boys' rooms, or q-tips from the trash can. She goes and gets whatever she can find that might possibly pull me away from my computer.

So when she trots under my desk and gets especially quiet or starts making a loud crunching noise, I stop writing, and pull whatever she has out of her mouth and absentmindedly throw it on my desk.

I would also open up the mail and leave it on my desk. Kids' school work, school calendars, important stuff I should sign...ON MY DESK. And during the occasional procrastination trip to my attic, I'd dig something else up like pics and leave them where? You got it...on my desk.

By the end of my six week hiatus, my desk looked like this:Can I tell you how glad I am that you can't see the dust? Whoa.

Yesterday, I took a Claritin (seriously, that was some kind of dust) and I got busy. And this was the result of a few hours of cleaning and dusting:So much better.

What's your work surface like? Do you prefer neat and orderly or do you wind up with cluttered chaos?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

What is Genius?

Recently I wandered in on a discussion about dealing with Aspergers, Autism, and similar differences. Some friends were bemoaning the inability of others to understand that something like Autism or Aspergers, a different aspect on the Autism spectrum, isn't simply wished away or fixed with discipline. In fact, people with Aspergers and Autism-- really, with any difference that isolates them from the crowd-- are likely to be harmed by such responses rather than helped.

I don't use the word "disability" for a reason. Most of us look at people like, for instance, Stephen Speilberg, and think "genius," not "disabled." There's a really good reason for that. People who enter the world through a different lens than you or I aren't wrong, damaged, or broken simply because they are "other." In fact the great minds throughout history were often differently abled. There's a wonderful article HERE about amazing historical figures who struggled with difference.

I have two children with Autism and two adults with Aspergers in my life. The children are, thankfully, coming of age in a time when some of the walls are breaking down, or at least diminishing somewhat. But the two adults are quiet, cautious, and secretive about their syndrome. Aspergers still gets a marginalizing response from many because of ignorance and stubbornness. Yet they would be surprised to know that both are professionals, successful, and considered brilliant. I would use the word "genius" without hesitation. I understand and respect their desire to keep their Aspergers secret.

It makes me angry that they feel that need, though. A dazzling and incredible medical professional and an artist who has made a wonderful living both commercially and independently, both should be able to celebrate the very differences that make them so astonishingly gifted.

I wish we could begin to dismiss the notion of "disability" and think, in stead, about being "differently abled."

When did genius become a "disability?" Because really, what makes these wonderful people in my life special is their incredible ability to look at things in a way that I can't, or at least can't without being guided there. It makes me wonder if, when we long for solutions to things like disease, environmental catastrophe, social issues, and more... have we missed out on thousands of solutions through the years because we shunned the genius who might have provided them?

Friday, February 20, 2009


Friday Fun

What does your music library say about you?

*Put Your iTunes, winamp, mp3 player or whatever on SHUFFLE
*For each question, press the next button to get your answer (no cheating!!)
*You must write down song/artist even if it doesn't make sense
*Include any comments in parenthesis
*Post the answer to #25 as your Title (if you blog it)


1. What do your friends say about you?
Candy by The Presidents of the Unites States (You're my candy...)

2.How would your coworkers describe you?
03 Ghosts1 by NIN (well, it's instrumental, so maybe that's because none of the words they would use to describe me are printable?)

3. How would you describe yourself?
Finding Me by Vertical Horizon (this might be deeper than I get)

4. What do you like in a romantic partner?
Go Home by Barenaked Ladies (hmmm I like my husband barenaked?)

5. How do you feel today?
Imaginary by Evanesence (yah, I don't know if this applies so much)

6. What is your life’s purpose?
Don't Come Around Here by Tom Petty (my life's purpose is to tell people to get off my lawn apparently)

7. What is your motto?
Fall to Pieces by Velvet Revolver (*sigh* seriously? my motto. great. I'm a little scared to keep going with this list)

8. What do you think about the most?
Breathe by Anna Nalick (I kinda do think life is like an hourglass glued to table.)

9. What are you going to do on your next vacation?
Goodbye Little World by Remy Zero (Fantastic. It sounds like I'm leaving it all behind on my next vacation. Luckily I never get to go on vacation.)

10. What do you think of your first love/date?
Faster Kill Pussycat by Brittany Murphy and Paul Oakenfield (come home with me when the party ends.....just kidding. But I do love that song.)

11. What is your life story?
Deuces are Wild bye Aerosmith

12. What did you do yesterday?
Hey Now by Crowded House (I tried to catch the deluge in a paper cup yesterday)

13. What do you think of when you see the person you like/love?
Come Back to Bed by John Mayer (that works for me)

14. What describes your wedding?
Faith by George Michael (woot!)

15. What will they play at your funeral?
Everytime I Think of You by The Babys (Seasons come and seasons go but our love will never die)

16. What is your obsession?
Everlong by Foo Fighters (it's a good obsession song if I were stalking someone....breathe out so I can breathe you in...)

17. What is your biggest fear?
Cherry, Cherry by Neil Diamond (I don't want to know what this means.)

18. What is your biggest secret?
1999 by Prince (life is just party and party was meant to last? I dunno I think my biggest secret is that none of my music looks like it should be on the same player.)

19. What is your biggest turn-on?
Boat Drinks by Jimmy Buffett (well, I do like those pina coladas you get on a cruise)

20. How do you describe your friends?
Girls Got Rhythm by ACDC (well, a lot of my friends do have that back seat rhythm..they would probably be the first to tell you about it too)

21. What would you do with a million dollars?
(oh No!) I Want Your Sex by George Michael (that is bad, isn't it?)

22.What is your opinion of the opposite sex?
Take it to the Limit by Eagles (sure, whatever)

23. What is your biggest regret?
Dancing Queen by Abba (I am a little sad that I never learned to play the tamborine.)

24. What would you rather be doing right now?
And We Danced by the Hooters (that's kind of cool. I guess I'd rather be shaking the paint off the wall right now.)

25. What will you post this list as?
Creep by Radiohead

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Nate Silver on the Oscars

As I'm sure you know, I'm a total politics junkie and die-hard Keith Olbermann fan. So needless to say, I've got a huge geek crush on Nate Silver of, the most brilliant statistical mind of our time.

Nate's original claim to fame was developing the PECOTA system for accurately forecasting baseball players' career development and performance. He became a real soothsayer of the baseball world. Last year, he switched his prediction model to politics, and predicted that Barack Obama would be the Democratic nominee long before any other pundit had abandoned Hillary Clintion. He started (a geekingly beautiful site that makes wonkitude cool!) and with the same precision, accurately called every US Senate race and 49 of the 50 states in the presidential race (sorry, Indiana!).

So if he can accurately call baseball and politics, can his model work for the Oscars? New York magazine asked Silver to apply his genius in computer-based logical regression to Hollywood, and he makes some very interesting picks.

So who does this statistics guru like for each category?

Leading Actor
Mickey Rourke: 71.1%
Sean Penn: 19%
Brad Pitt 5.9%
Frank Langella 3.4%
Richard Jenkins 0.5%
Rourke and Penn split the two awards that traditionally predict success (SAG and Golden Globes). As a result, Silver gives the advantage to Rouke, since Penn has already won an Oscar. Silver's statistical model has shown that once an actor wins, his odds go way down, whereas someone who's been nominated without winning sees their odds increase.

Leading Actress

Kate Winslet 67.6%
Meryl Streep 32.4%
Anne Hathaway 0.0%
Melissa Leo 0.0%
Angelina Jolie 0.0%
Although Streep has won most of this year's big awards (including SAG), she's already won an Oscar, whereas Winslet is "sitting on her sixth nod without a win." (Yes, those are actual zeroes that Silver gave Hathaway, Leo, and Jolie. Very sad.)

Best Picture
"Slumdog Millionaire" trounces its competitors with a 99% likelihood.

Supporing Actor
Heath Ledger 88.5%
Josh Brolin 5%
As Harry Shearer said on the Olbermann show the other night when asked if he was upset to lose the Grammy for best comedy album to the late George Carlin, awards show voters like dead people. So even if Ledger's performance wasn't amazing (and it was!), he'd still probably have a lock on it.

Supporting Actress
Here's where it gets tricky...Kate Winslet was categorized as a supporting actress in the other major awards groups, but the Oscars gave her a leading actress nod. As Silver put it, this "is not so nice for our computer."
Taraji P. Henson 51%
Penelope Cruz 24.6%
Viola Davis 11.6%
Silver predicts that Henson will win the Oscar because although Cruz would be the logical defualt after taking Winslet out of the category, because Henson is the only actress in the category in a picture nominated for Best Picture ("Benjamin Button"), the model gives her the nod because her film "is the only best picture nominee with a supporting actress nod, and best picture nominess tend to have an edge in other categories."

So what do you think? Will Silver keep up his streak of big predictions? Personally, I want him to make more predictions. All the more reason to get a big giant geek fest of statistical geekitude on "Countdown with Keith Olbermann."

So who do you think will win the major awards? Why?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Review of GENERATION DEAD by Daniel Waters

Generation Dead is a young adult paranormal novel by Daniel Waters that came out in May 2008.

Phoebe, the heroine of the story, is a goth girl with a major crush...on a zombie. In this era, which seems to be set slightly in the future, saying the word "zombie" isn't PC--the current favored term is "living impaired" or "differently biotic." haha

Not that Phoebe's fellow schoolmates want, or accept, these "living-impaired" students, which are flocking to Oakvale in increasing numbers. And unfortunately for these new students, there aren't any laws that protect the rights of these teens who have come back from the dead (oh, and for some reason, it's only American teenagers who are returning).

But Phoebe can't help but feel drawn to the mysterious zombie, Tommy. Which is unfortunate for Phoebe's football jock friend, Adam, who's crushed on Phoebe forever. Nor is it accepted by fellow goth friend Margi.

And there are others out there who want to get rid of all zombies...permanently.

I read this novel in one day. It was killer awesome and very addictive--the dialogue and banter was quite funny and spot-on, but there were surprisingly dark moments in the story that gripped me, as well. It wasn't as gross as I thought it was going to be--the zombies weren't trying to eat brains or anything. LOL.

The story actually had a lot of heart and romance, and the subplot revolving around the rights of the zombies was quite emotional and gut-wrenching to read. I liked seeing how the first zombie came about and how society is trying to deal with their existence.

The bad guy in the book is soooo cruel, but very fleshed out and realistic. I loved to hate him. And the end of the book really threw me for a loop--I was NOT expecting it, but I really liked it! The ending also left some questions that I expect may be resolved in book 2 of the series--Generation Dead: Kiss of Life. That one comes out in May of this year.

I'm eager to pick up the next in the sequel (and it doesn't hurt that I looove the covers)!! Mr. Waters has written a fantastic story. Even if you're not into zombies, I hope you guys give it a chance!!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Keep Your Lunch Money

Whether you're in school or working a 9-5 job, bullies exist. I doubt there is any among us who hasn't dealt with one in our lifetime. Here are a few ways on how to deal with a bully:

Ignore the bully and walk away.
It's definitely not a coward's response — sometimes it can be harder than losing your temper. Bullies thrive on the reaction they get, and if you walk away, or ignore hurtful emails or instant messages, you're telling the bully that you just don't care. Sooner or later the bully will probably get bored with trying to bother you. Walk tall and hold your head high. Using this type of body language sends a message that you're not vulnerable.

Hold the anger.
Who doesn't want to get really upset with a bully? But that's exactly the response he or she is trying to get. Bullies want to know they have control over your emotions. If you're in a situation where you have to deal with a bully and you can't walk away with poise, use humor — it can throw the bully off guard. Work out your anger in another way, such as through exercise or writing it down (make sure you tear up any letters or notes you write in anger).

Don't get physical.
However you choose to deal with a bully, don't use physical force (like kicking, hitting, or pushing). Not only are you showing your anger, you can never be sure what the bully will do in response. You are more likely to be hurt and get in to trouble if you use violence against a bully. You can stand up for yourself in other ways, such as gaining control of the situation by walking away or by being assertive in your actions. Some adults believe that bullying is a part of growing up (even that it is character building) and that hitting back is the only way to tackle the problem. But that's not the case. Aggressive responses tend to lead to more violence and more bullying for the victims.

Practice confidence.
Practice ways to respond to the bully verbally or through your behavior. Practice feeling good about yourself (even if you have to fake it at first).

Take charge of your life.
You can't control other people's actions, but you can stay true to yourself. Think about ways to feel your best — and your strongest — so that other kids may give up the teasing. Exercise is one way to feel strong and powerful. (It's a great mood lifter, too!) Learn a martial art or take a class like yoga. Another way to gain confidence is to hone your skills in something like chess, art, music, computers, or writing. Joining a class, club, or gym is a great way to make new friends and feel great about yourself. The confidence you gain will help you ignore the mean kids.

Talk about it.
It may help to talk to a guidance counselor, teacher, or friend — anyone who can give you the support you need. Talking can be a good outlet for the fears and frustrations that can build when you're being bullied.

Find your (true) friends.
If you've been bullied with rumors or gossip, all of the above tips (especially ignoring and not reacting) can apply. But take it one step further to help ease feelings of hurt and isolation. Find one or two true friends and confide how the gossip has hurt your feelings. Set the record straight by telling your friends quietly and confidently what's true and not true about you. Hearing a friend say, "I know the rumor's not true. I didn't pay attention to it," can help you realize that most of the time people see gossip for what it is — petty, rude, and immature.

Were you bullied in school? What did you do about it?

Monday, February 16, 2009

V-Day recap

I wanted to spend Valentine's Day with the family so I asked them to go to the horse races with me. My youngest son was very excited, my oldest son--NOT SO MUCH.

It was a good day. Actually I won $77 off a $10 horse. We won't talk about the next bet and how much I didn't win, though. LOL

The whole point of the day was spending time with my boys. Rader (my youngest) was so into the math side of betting. He was constantly picking horses based on their odds. He didn't like to go for longshots (30:1 or so) but he did like 7:1-15:1 odds a lot. And he did surprisingly well with his method.

By the end of the day, Ian's attitude had changed some. Which was a good thing. Otherwise, I wouldn't have gotten this picture.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Mangled Love Story

He warned me. I've been thinking a lot about Valentine's Day, like all of us, and one in particular. And the bottom line is, he warned me. But I went ahead and fell for him anyway. It worked out.

I had been dating Ahmed for less than a year, both of us insisting we had no interest in a long term or serious relationship. We were both full of it, of course, but it feels somehow empowering at the beginning to tell that lie, doesn't it? After four months he finally broke down and admitted he was too jealous to date me unless we both agreed to be exclusive. No long term strings. No promises of forever. No declarations. Just exclusive. And after I agreed, in a long and very serious conversation, he looked at me very steadily and warned me not to put too many eggs in his basket. I, of course, lied just as quickly as he had done and promised I was in want and lust but had no plans to stick around longer than things stayed fun and exciting.

What a couple of idiots we were.

Then he said "I know I am going to end up breaking your heart. I can promise you I will."

All serious. Like a bad movie on Lifetime. What melodrama. What nonsense.

Fast forward to Valentine's day, another five months later. Ahmed rarely gets sick, but like all male doctors, when he does he's a bit of a big baby about it. On Valentine's day that first year together he was sick, sick, sick as a dog. His oldest friend called me to tell me not to come for our date. "He's really very sick," Tobin explained.

I was healthier then so I ignored his warning, drove in to his townhome, and found something vaguely Ahmed shaped groaning in his bed. All the lights were out, all the covers bundled under his chin, and his wonderfully sexy voice sounded like it was being passed through a garbage disposal. His eyes (those pretty cognac eyes!) were rimmed in flame and he was swampy with perspiration. He growled at me to leave, an arm flung across his face.

"I'm going to make tea, soup, and change the bedclothes while you sit in your chair for a bit. Don't argue."

He argued. Complained. Moaned. Barked at me to get out. I made soup, delivered his pot of Earl Grey with honey and lemon, and changed the sheets. He wheezed, coughed, and growled.

I was putting him back to bed when, for the third time in that not-a-relationship, everything changed. Four words. That was the day it stopped being an experiment, an obsession, something without a name. That was the instant I knew I was already in love with him, and he was with me, and we were both lying, lying, lying like the cowards we were.

I bundled him back into bed. I'd probably been there four hours, and had heard nothing but complaining the entire time. He was trying to convince me he wanted me gone. Years later I guess it was just instinct that made me stubborn about it. As I left him a mug of soup and a box of tissues he kept staring directly at me. I turned to go and he asked me to stay "just until I fall asleep."

Really, it was so little-boy-sad what could I do? While he drifted off I sat beside him and pushed the damp hair off his brow. Neither of us said anything til he was just a few breaths from sleep. I said I was going to go, and would call the next day. He finally (twerp!) thanked me for everything and, as I paused in the doorway, said "what would I do without you?"

"I thought you were planning to break my heart?"

If I'd kept walking I'd never have heard it. Gravelly, rough, muffled with sleep, he answered me. I'm not sure if he really meant for me to hear him mutter it.

"I've changed my mind."

It's not "you are my world." It's not "I worship you and can't live without you." But it was the beginning for me, and the end, and all of the bliss and bother to come. Four words muttered in a fevered stupor changed everything.

He's said prettier things. But those were the words that set my path to forever. Until that moment I was in love without knowing it. Until that moment I could have changed the course of my destiny. He was THE ONE, but I could have blown it, or decided having a someone forever was not "my thing." I could have walked out before it was too late, which had been my plan all along.

But I changed my mind. :)

Happy Valentine's Day.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Favorite TV couples

I almost went with a Friday the 13th post, just to be contrary--but I try to only be contrary with my husband., so I'm talking TV couples today!
In no particular order these are some of my faves:
Veronica Mars and Logan Echolls
Veronica Mars

I was so surprised when they first kissed. I totally did not see it coming. And then I kept waiting for it to be a trick he was playing--because he was so very, very bad. But turns out, he really loved her. And in the Season Four in my head (since the show got axed in three), they get back together. Don't try and change my mind either.

Jack Devereux and Jennifer Horton
Days of Our Lives

Maybe I just like couples that argue all the time. Jack and Jenn were my fave couple in the late 80's early 90's...back when I worked nights and could watch soaps during the day. I loved the fact that they were so opposite and so obviously wrong for each other. I got a little weary of all the strange adventures on deserted islands and wilderness scenes...but whenever he accidentally let his vulnerable side show my heart would break. I really love their chemistry, but I don't think they are on the show anymore.

Buffy and Angel

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

I was never a Spike fan. Sorry fans. Angel and Buffy just...well...he's another one who breaks my heart. He was so much more tortured. I wonder if she's done being cookie dough yet.

So...who are some of your favorite TV couples? (you probably have more than me, I don't watch much tv)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Great Couples

In keeping with our Valentine's Day theme, today's topic is about your favorite fictional couples. Think back on all the books you've read, which blossoming romances were your favorites? And why?

Maybe they were reluctant, and at first claimed to hate one another. Maybe they were funny. Or sweet. Or they beat all the odds. I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that they had amazing chemistry and you rooted for them throughout the entire book. You laughed during their highs and cried during their lows. And maybe even fell a litle in love yourself.

Here are just some of my favorite couples from books:

Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."

Well, if that single man is the Mr. Darcy , you can bet that the readers will root for that wife to be the most worthy heroine of all.

Like many girls, I totally want to be Lizzy Bennet. She's so witty and smart and rather unconventional for her era. And Mr. Darcy? *swoon* Put off by her mother's vulgarity and the ditzy behavior of her youngest sisters, at first he's unable to see Lizzy's worth. But in time, he falls in love and his struggle to suppress those feelings, eventually ending in not one, but two, proposals is the stuff of magic.

Maddie Springer and Jack Ramirez

Adorably ditzy Maddie is a shoe designer with a penchant for stumbling across dead bodies. Ramirez is the sexy, tough detective assigned to investigate the crimes. Gemma Halliday writes fantastic sexual tension and you find yourself just as frustrated as Maddie when Ramirez keeps getting to the crime scene in the second book just as they're about to get romantic in this series. And add in a potential love triangle when tabloid reported Felix keeps snooping around and you've got the makings of a deliciously fun romantic comedy.

Lady Julia Grey and Nicholas Brisbane
The most conventional of her very eccentric family, wealthy young widow Lady Julia Grey is extremely unconventional for her time. She's smart and sassy, and holds opinions that would shock most of her set. So it's not surprising that when she discovers that her husband did not die of natural causes, she decides to find the murderer. Enter the sexy and enigmatic Nicholas Brisbane, a private enquiry agent who her late husband had engaged to find who was threatening him. Is he the right man to make her consider a second chance at love? But this is the Victorian era, after all, so their relationship progresses at a maddeningly slow pace...but the tension is smoldering hot.

Amy "Bugaboo" Haskell and Jamie "Poe" Orcutt
In the first two "Secret Society Girl" books, Amy Haskell's nemesis in Rose & Grave was a senior (and later, recent graduate) codenamed Poe. He was sullen, moody, and incredibly disagreeable. Not even worth Amy's acknowledgement, particularly when there are so many other hot guys around, like the delectable George. But author Diana Peterfreund was a literature major at Yale, and an avowed Jane Austen fan, so "the sudden, startling transformation of a mysterious Rose & Grave patriarch from sheerly evil to utterly...appealing" is not exactly terribly shocking. But it's still really fun to read!

Amanda Brice and Mr. Brice

Oh, wait...they're not fictional. ;)

So those are a few of mine. Who are yours?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Favorite Romantic Movies

As you've likely figured out, this week's theme is all about LOOOOVE. As for me, I love a good romantic movie. Dark, light, funny, serious--I don't care, just give me the romance, bay-bee! I want to release cathartic tears during the dark moment where all seems lost. I want to sigh with breathlessness at the ultimate declaration of love. I want to experience those highs and lows of falling in love--I think that's part of the reason I really enjoy writing romantic comedy.

There are quite a few tried-and-true movies I return to again and again whenever I want to watch a good romance:

The Thorn Birds. The forbidden love between Meggie and Father Ralph in this miniseries always, ALWAYS leaves me on the edge of my seat (and it doesn't hurt that I totally think Richard Chamberlain is HOT in it, LOL). The scene where Meggie's on the beach and running away from him, and then he runs after her and catches her, and they start to kiss--BAM! It gets me every time.

Little Women. I looooove Behr so much--he's so romantic and sweet and gentle and nervous toward Jo! *swoon* And they both bring out the best in each other in such a quiet, strong way. LOVE it.

Love, Actually. I adore Colin Firth, and when he proposes to his love in Portugese after studying hard to learn how to speak her language...I bawl like a baby!

Pride and Prejudice. Yup, another Colin Firth one. His portrayal of Darcy is magnetic--the way he tries to conquer his feelings for Elizabeth but just can''s so intense to watch.

The Princess Bride. Okay, we all know this one HAD to be on here, LOL. Carey Elwes, as a romantic pirate hero who rescues his true love? Classic.

Return to Me. The scene where David Duchovny is weeping in agony over the death of his wife tears me up EVERY TIME. I root for him to find true love again with Minnie Driver! They both SO deserve it.

Never Been Kissed. The baseball field scene at the end of the movie, where she's waiting for him to show up...and she thinks he isn't going to...and then he does, and he plants a whopper of a kiss on her! *siiiiiigh*

Sabrina. A great makeover story with heart. I love how the love slowly develops between the hero and heroine, until they just can't be without each other.

There are SOOO many other movies I could add to this list, but right now, I'm more interested in hearing your favorite romance movies. Share, share, share!!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Some Valentine's Facts

3% of people who buy flowers for Valentine's Day are men, while only 27 percent are women.

About 1 billion Valentine's Day cards are exchanged each year. That's the largest seasonal card-sending occasion of the year, next to Christmas.

About 3% of pet owners will give Valentine's Day gifts to their pets.

Alexander Graham Bell applied for his patent on the telephone, an "Improvement in Telegraphy", on Valentine's Day, 1876.

California produces 60 percent of American roses, but the vast number sold on Valentine's Day in the United States are imported, mostly from South America. Approximately 110 million roses, the majority red, will be sold and delivered within a three-day time period.

Cupid, another symbol of Valentines Day, became associated with it because he was the son of Venus, the Roman god of love and beauty. Cupid often appears on Valentine cards holding a bow and arrows because he is believed to use magical arrows to inspire feelings of love.

In the Middle Ages, young men and women drew names from a bowl to see who their valentines would be. They would wear these names on their sleeves for one week. To wear your heart on your sleeve now means that it is easy for other people to know how you are feeling.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Happy V-Day Week

This week is Valentine Week here at Fictionistas, so get ready for some love, love, love. Or really intense like. Or lotsa hearts. Or maybe just some pink. Either way, you'll see a theme in this week's posts, so be prepared.

Speaking of love...have you seen my cover for BITE ME!? No? Yes? Well, either way, I'm posting again, because it is true love on my end.

I ♥ my cover.

I really don't know what to talk about this week. I have a love/hate relationship with Valentine's Day. I am a huge gift giver. Always have been. I love sending cards, giving trinkets, doing little things that show people how much I care. And as long as the gifts are appreciated, I am happy. I don't even need anything in return--most of the time. (Every girl likes to know she's thought about and appreciated. Gifts are welcome and encouraged!)

I like to give gifts throughout the year. Holidays like Valentine's Day feel so commercial and forced that oftentimes the meaning of the gift is lost in the forest of all the pink hearts and chocolate candies.

By the way, I do not subscribe to the 'it's the thought that counts' train of thought. It's all about the effort to me. If you're going to bother giving someone a Valentine's gift, (or any gift) make it mean something. Don't just run out to the grocery store and pick up the last available dying bouquet and a box of stale candy. Plan ahead a little. Some of the most appreciated gifts aren't the expensive ones. And sometimes the right card says more than a trinket ever would.

Make your gifts count.

Have a great V-day week!

Saturday, February 07, 2009


I did nothing this week. Certainly nothing worth mentioning. I had a few projects but never finished them, though one is close. And this was stuff I normally do in an afternoon. But I had a cold and just couldn't seem to get out of bed for more than an hour at a time.

Thing is, this is rare for me. I'm one of those people who hates-- HATES-- inactivity. I may not do something others view as worthwhile, but on an average day I do a LOT. Even if it's just picking up kids, finishing some ideas, or getting the dog to the groom. Most days I run errands at least once-- usually two or three times, since I do my mom's and she has the attention span and memory capacity of a gnat. I also try to get to one of my cafe spots for at least an hour of writing. It may be crap, it may be something I toss out, but it's work that keeps me going.

This week? Nope. Even Max, who is very hyperactive, seemed to be unwilling to go further than the edge of the patio for a pee. He flopped on the couch with me, sucked up for treats, and snored. I have to admit... I didn't do much more than that myself.

So here is the week, in summation, as interpreted by an anonymous pug on Youtube, since doing our own video would have required... err... doing something.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Pick my title and become a character in my book.

Here is my "working" blurb for the current WIP, and so far, I've been calling it A Boy for Every Season--but it just doesn't have that elusive It, if you know what I mean.

Layney Logan doesn't swim in the high school dating pool--period. She'd rather avoid the questionable warm spots in the water and focus on the important things--like getting into college and running the high school newspaper. So when her arch-nemesis and co-chief editor (who also happens to be her ex-boyfriend),Jimmy Foster, suggests she do a feature story about what girls are really looking for in boys she wants to run for the hills. What's worse, he wants her to go on twelve blind dates with the boys the paper is photographing for a fundraiser calendar.

The one thing Layney dislikes more than dating is letting Foster think he got to her, so she takes the assignment to prove she's more than over him. The trouble is, she is learning a little more about herself on every blind date--the good, bad, and ugly (sometimes scary) ones. And the more she learns about Layney Logan, the more she wonders if Foster's known her better all this time.

So--we've got two intrepid high school reporters, twelve blind dates of doom, a calendar of hunks (and some not so hunky), a newspaper staff of chaos, two people who hate each other but probably should never have broken up, and Mr. March--a total hottie skater boy who throws his hat in the ring. And a big secret Layney's been hiding for four years and it's the REAL reason she and her arch nemesis broke up.

So...give me some titles! If I end up using yours, you get to be a character in the book--one of the reporters for The Follower, Layney's high school newspaper. I'll send you a questionaire and make a character dossier of you. Not in high school anymore? That's okay--you'll get a second chance at sixteen and be immortalized in a young adult novel.

Let's hear them.....

Thursday, February 05, 2009

What Are You Reading?

I'm looking for some book suggestions!!!! Let me have 'em!

Right now, I'm re-reading "Pride & Prejudice", which is something I haven't done in about 10 years. I read it in high school, and then again in college, but in the interim, I've only watched the movies...several (many) times.

This is the first time I've read it as a writer, and it's really interesting to notice things I've never noticed before. I'm really studying Austen's narrative technique and especially her understated witty snark. Love it!

I also need to get back to the second Lady Julia Grey mystery "Silent in the Sanctuary" by Deanna Raybourn. I left it hanging while I decided to parse Austen's prose, but it's so good, so I'll be happy to get to it. I don't normally leave a book unread in the middle...particularly a good book.

After that, I think next up is "Envy" by Anna Godbersen, the third in her deliciously scandalous "The Luxe" series about rich teenagers in New York's Gilded Age. Think "Gossip Girl" meets "The Age of Innocence." It's like a trainwreck. You can't look away. LOVE IT!

So what should I read after that? I'm open to any and all suggestions!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

scandal, Scandal, SCANDAL!!

Good grief, this is a week for scandal in the news, and it's only Wednesday. LOL. Okay, where do I start?

First, did you guys hear about Michael Phelps, who I guess had been photographed back in November with, um, drug paraphernalia? Yikes...that's gonna affect his endorsements and such now, I bet. *shakes head*

Second, Christian Bale was taped spewing a huuuuuge curse-word-filled rant at the director of photography on the set of Terminator 4. (Warning, wear headphones...the rant is NSFW, or children, or anyone who doesn't want to hear a massively cuss-filled rant!!). Dude. I am so, so horrified and disappointed after listening to it, especially since he was one of my all-time favorite actors...just ask the Manpanion how much I loved his movies. I hope I never get that elitist and believe that I'm more important than other people. I hope I never feel I can be so insulting and hateful to someone for making a mistake (and yes, the DP shouldn't have messed up like that, but Bale's rant was NOT justified). Wow. Buddy, you have lost my respect for such disgraceful behavior. Unbelievable. :-(

Third, speaking of people who have lost my respect, Stephen King will not see another penny of my money, which is awful because I used to be such a HUGE fan. And why is that? Because he felt it was perfectly acceptable to publicly insult a fellow author. For me, the problem isn't whether or not Meyer is a good writer--we've seen that people have widely varying opinions about the matter, which is totally fine. It's about having respect for your peers and not trashing them as if you're better than them. I don't care HOW many books you have under your belt, or how long you've been writing, it's rude. When did it become cool and acceptable to trash your peers, except in politics? LOL I'm kidding. I sense I may be in the minority for disliking his comments about Meyer's writing, but so be it. It seems unprofessional to me for him to do that--but this will just help reinforce for me what I think is the proper way to treat my colleagues, yanno?

Fourth, Barack Obama admitted he thinks "he screwed up", and people are in one of two camps about him using that phrasing: 1) they either love that he's being refreshingly open and honest, or 2) they are horrified that someone in his position used such "unprofessional" words, especially since the day before he had persisted in supporting Daschle.

So, how do you guys feel about these scandals? Have an opinion to add to the conversation? Let's hear it!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Tale of the Sale

If you're a member of Romance Divas, you know this already, but if not, let me fill you in. I sold my first book!

ALL FIRED UP, a contemporary paranormal romance, will release from Samhain Publishing in September. No, it's not a YA, but there's no reason any one who enjoys YA wouldn't also enjoy ALL FIRED UP. It's fun, it's twisty and it's sexy without being something you want to hide from your mother.

I don't have a cover or an official blurb yet, but I'll be sure to share those when I do. I can tell you that if the idea of a Viking cheiftain turned underwear model sounds appealing, this is probably a good book for you.

ALL FIRED UP was originally titled OUT OF THE ASHES, but a writer friend of mine (SKULLY!) told me the title didn't really fit the mood of the book, didn't really express the fun side of it. I changed the title and shortly after, AFU finaled in the 2007 Golden Heart contest. And now, a sale! Good times.

To really kick things off, I've started an author group for myself (sign up HERE) and have two free reads posted there already. I'm a giver, what can I say?

Monday, February 02, 2009

super duper!

Okay, I'm still head down in my manuscript. My deadline is today (not kidding) and I'm not finished yet (not kidding) but I'm doing my damnedest.

I'd like to give a boistorous Shout Out to Gemma Halliday and Cara King for filling in for me the last two weeks while I was trying (and obviously failing) to finish my book and meet my deadline.

Last night while I was frantically writing my fingers to the bone, I completely ignored the Superbowl in the background. And by "completely" I mean "sorta." How can you expect a girl who loves football to ignore the Grand Poobah of football games? And then there are the commercials. I am a sucker for Superbowl commercials. A girl can only be expected to ignore so much.

The game was amazing. Especially the last quarter. Wow. Incredible.

The commercials? Eh. There were two that struck me. (two other than the movie commercials. I am totally stoked about Land of the Lost and Fast and the Furious! Vin Diesel and Paul Harris!! Together! In hot, fast cars!!!! EPIC WIN!)

Speaking of Epic Win. The commercial I loved:

I am not a Pepsi fan by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm a huge MacGruber fan from SNL. This was fantastic...especially since the real MacGyver is an assistant. :)

And the Epic Fail commercial:

Dear Teleflora,
Do your research. It doesn't matter if your flowers are assholes when they are delivering cliched messages about romance novels. What matters is that your target audience is female, and of those females, a large portion of them (possibly a majority) read the romance novels you so stupidly disparaged. Bad Teleflora. I'll stick to Thanks.

Did y'all have a fave?