Saturday, February 27, 2010
Of course, I like other stuff, too. When the brand new House of Blues opened in Boston we signed on as charter members and there are some shows we never miss. Poor Ahmed probably signed on for the VIP package just so he'd have access to the private lounge as an escape. Get the Dropkick Murphys going and I go completely batty on the floor. He even suffered through J Geils and learned to like them! HOB is another stand-by that always makes me happy. Great music, cool people, incredible wings. And my obnoxious cousin Jim is almost always there. (Hey Jimmo!!)
Of course... the season isn't open yet, but perhaps my happiest of happy places is across the street from the House of Blues. The Cathedral. The Holy of Holies. Fenway Park. Give me a warm day, a sky-box, bleachers, pretty much any darn seat in the house. I'm there. Fenway Frank, root-beer (ok, maybe one Sammy), and my peeps. Screaming obscenities at umpires and Yankees... really, it should be its own sport in the Olympics. *sigh*
But if the weather is good... and sometimes even when it isn't... there's a single, fool-proof stand-by. For as long as I can remember I've loved sitting with a few good friends on the beach. I grew up on the beach; regressed on the beach; figured out my life on the beach; lost loves on the beach; found them again on the beach; and some of the best and longest belly laughs have rolled on for hours there on the beach.
So where is your happy place?
Friday, February 26, 2010
I'm pretty excited to start my mentoring gig on Monday. I volunteered to conduct a three month boot camp with an author who writes young adult also. I was like, "yay, I'll teach her everything I know." And then after taking stock, realized I didn't really know all that much. We won't tell her that though.
And then I realized that while I may not be an encyclopedia--she doesn't need one of those anyway. What I can, and hopefully will offer, is a more like a "What to Expect When You're Expecting to Publish" book.
And I have a whole slew of things to teach her about procrastination, cuz I have that down pat.
Have you ever had a mentor? What was the thing above all other things that you took with you from that relationship?
Thursday, February 25, 2010
The school administration was not amused.
This isn't the first time a student has been suspended for Facebook activity. Earlier this month, a federal magistrate ruled that now-college-sophomore Katharine Evans' lawsuit against her Florida school district could go forward. She is suing to have her suspension expunged because she alleges that the school district violated her First Amendment rights.
What did she do wrong to get suspended for three days? School officials said her Facebook page devoted to trashing a teacher constituted "cyberbullying."
The ACLU applauded the decision, saying it clearly extended First Amendment rights to online writings of a non-threatening manner. “This is an important victory both for Ms. Evans and Internet free speech,” Maria Kayanan (associate legal director of the ACLU of Florida) said, “because it upholds the principle that the right to freedom of speech and expression in America does not depend on the technology used to convey opinions and ideas.”
So what do you think? Should these students have been suspended for creating these Facebook pages on their own time, outside of school? Is this a violation of their First Amendment rights? If the latter, should a teacher then be allowed to create a similar page to gripe about her students?
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
One bite and I'm a kid again. I haven't made it in a long time, but I do occasionally break it out for cookouts. Everybody loves it and you can't beat how moist it makes the cake.
What would you say your guilty childhood pleasure is, food-wise? Have you made it yourself?
Monday, February 22, 2010
One of my favorite sandwiches on earth is a bacon sandwich. BUT it has to be prepared a specific way. White bread. Mayo and ketchup mixed together on one slice. Mustard and American cheese on the other. Good crispy bacon in between.
Best sandwich ever but a lot of people find it disgusting.
I also prefer to drink a big cold glass of milk with my pizza. Nobody gets that either.
Tell me: what food do you eat that others find weird?
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Yes. Like... the book changed my life. It's the kind of fantasy people kept talking about but in strictly unicorn-mythology. Everyone KNEW what great fantasy "in the style of Tolkien" should look like. Everyone had the image right there. I could describe "heir to middle earth" to anyone who asked, but like a unicorn, I'd never seen it, touched it, experienced it first hand.
And then came Paks. The first book in the original trilogy, Sheepfarmer's Daughter, came out in 1988. I remember seeing it on shelves but not picking it up until the other two had been written and around for a bit. Divided Allegiance came out in 1988 as well, and Oath of Gold a year later, I believe. I caved and bought all three before taking off for a long weekend retreat that would require me to be silent and still for 48 hours.
I entered the retreat on Friday. I was a rabid Elizabeth Moon fan on Monday.
RABID. And when she left fantasy after doing a second trilogy prequel to this series, settled in to write very good science fiction for several years, I actually stalked her online and wrote her a long, fangirly, pleading letter. Bless her a million times over, she even emailed me back, thanked me, and explained that the world-building was demanding and so forth. She was incredibly kind to explain anything at all to me.
So why is this book amazing? It has a female epic hero. It explores courage, good, evil, choices, forgiveness, redemption, and honor. And the female is celibate. And nobody gets any girl. And I couldn't put it down. Plowed through all three of the small paperbacks and have worn out two of the larger, trade-sized paperback republications in one volume. In fact, I liked the UK cover better and bought it, too... that was the cover I posted above.
Even contemporary fiction requires world building. We create a place for our characters to live. This book... sigh. What she did here-- I felt, at the conclusion of the first novel, like I would recognize any single stone she had written. A soldier's life became part of my brain. Tromping through mud on the road to war was embedded in my consciousness. And I felt, too, the exhilaration of a young girl who ran away to become a soldier yearning for excitement... and discovering the ugly truth of her dream.
My favorite thing about these novels, though, is that they take a very honest and beautiful look at both faith and free will. I like to recommend them to younger readers because one of the most valuable lessons Paksenarrion learns is to question, trust herself, and listen to her heart. I've given the large trade version of the trilogy to many, many beloved young people as graduations gifts. It's the perfect "enter the world with your eyes open" book.
So imagine how overjoyed I am to know that early next month a new book will come out set in Paks' world, featuring the leaders she came to admire and defend (with a small cameo from Paks) in their own journeys. I'm literally drooling. Like... don't tell any of the cool people... but when I got the alert in my email about it and followed the link with blood draining from my brain, I actually teared up a weenie bit.
It's hero worship and I know it. A few writers in my life have meant that much to me: Terry Pratchett, Ms. Moon, and a few others. I'm not even embarrassed to admit it because I know, as a writer, how much we all want that. Not the fangirly dork stuff... just to have somebody say "your books mean so much to me."
So I was having a very bad week, and had a terrible day Thursday. But Friday came and went, and Saturday dawns glorious... because one of my heroes is delivering the goods. I know when Elizabeth Moon sat down to write Oath of Fealty she wasn't thinking of me... but I'm thinking of her with an incredibly grateful heart as I await the delivery of it into my greedy, greedy hands.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Amanda is still taking it easy with her little one at home, so we're thrilled that Rita-winner Rosemary Clement-Moore is guest blogging today!
Guest posting on Fictionistas is kind of a thrill for me. It’s like sitting at the cool girl’s table for the day.
I never feel cool. I’m not sure any writer ever does. Most of us have been dorks for too long to totally shake the feeling of being the uncoolest preson in the room. The best we can do is embrace our inner dorkitude and turn it into an asset. I mean, writers are supposed to be eccentric, right?
More people than you know are dorks. There is a rather silly movie called “Sydney White” about a girl who turns seven nerds into… well, socially functional nerds. But I roll my eyes and laugh at the same time at the scene at the end where all these people stand up like an AA meeting and admit to being dorks.
I’ll get us started: I’m Rosemary, and I’m a dork. I fully confess that I cut my writing teeth scribbling Star Wars stories (before I knew what fan fiction was) in the back of algebra class, that I know what polyhedral dice are for, that sitting on my desk are action figures of Legolas, Hermione, and Jane Austen. I don’t mind telling you that I watch The Fifth Element ever time it comes on (which is a lot), and that I have an embarrassing number of Hannah Montana songs (that is, more than one) on my iPod, next to all the music I’ve downloaded because it’s on Guitar Hero or Rock Band.
It’s true, being a functional adult makes it a lot easier to enjoy marching to the beat of your own drummer. But you never quite outgrow that little voice that says people are pointing and laughing at you behind your back. You just get better at ignoring it.
And here’s the flip side of that. If you think you’re cool, you’re probably not. The coolest people I know are just going about their business, doing what they love and loving what they do. And they’d be shocked to realize I think they’re awesome for that very reason.
So that’s my Mr. Roger’s message for the day, my fictionista friends. Now tell me--what’s your deep, dark, dorkish secret?
Rosemary Clement-Moore's second novel, HELL WEEK, received the 2009 Rita for Best Young Adult Romance. Visit her on the web at http://www.rosemaryclementmoore.com.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
1. The industry's motto seems to be "hurry up and wait." You wait and wait and wait for stretches at a time, not hearing a word. And then everything comes all at once, like copy edits and this and that, and then you turn them around and waaaaaait some more.
2. Comparisons are evil. Comparisons are natural. You will do it, even if you tell yourself you won't. After all, you may have good friends who are published too. And when you find out what their print run was, or their advance, or how many printings they've had, you're going to compare it to yours. And sometimes, you're going to find yours may not be as "good" as what they had. The big thing I have to tell myself is that this is a long-distance trek, not a short race. I'm in it for the long haul.
3. Your book will probably never be as good as you think it could be. Even after being released, I'm scared to go back and read my story...I just know I'm going to find places I could have written better. So I'm trying to focus my craft on my new stories and just keep working on improving my storytelling.
4. You will get lots of emails. You will have people who want you to give them copies of your books for free, because they can't afford them and they can't get them from the library because they have too many fines (yes, this is true). You will have people who ask you to read their stories. You will get people who want to be on your book cover. You will get people who will request an advanced copy, and a good portion of those will never post a review. You will get interview requests. The emails come with the territory.
5. You will probably be petrified. I spent the whole day before my book launch nervous--OMG, what if I show up and they don't have any of my books there? What if everyone hates it? You will probably drive yourself insane.
6. You will probably be ecstatic. The first time I saw my book on the shelves, I couldn't describe to you how happy I was. Seriously, it's the most humbling, amazing experience ever.
7. Fan mail is the BEST. It awes me that people take time to email or msg me and tell me they loved my book. Seriously, it makes my day!!
8. Life is more than just your book. It's sooooo easy to get wrapped up in the craziness of debuting. But don't let your life fall to the side.
9. People are going to ask you how your book is doing. Odds are, you probably won't know. I just tell them it seems to be doing fine. haha
10. Don't let promotion overwhelm you. It's so easy to get caught up in the urge to pimp, pimp, pimp the crap out of your story. Of course, do get out there and do events, do contests, talk to people--but don't let it make you insane.
I hope this helps! Anyone have any questions for me? I'd be happy to answer them! In the meantime, I'm gearing up to go through these steps again, because Flirting With Disaster comes out on March 9. YAY!
And speaking of, pop by my blog to enter my launch contest HERE! Up for grabs is a $50 bookstore gift certificate, plus a signed copy of Flirting With Disaster. To enter, just gimme your best confession. Hope to see you there!
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Lincoln was elected to Congress in 1846
Kennedy was elected to Congress in 1946
He was elected President in 1860
He was elected President in 1960
His wife lost a child while living in the White House
His wife lost a child while living in the White House
He was directly concerned with Civil Rights
He was directly concerned with Civil Rights
Lincoln had a secretary named Kennedy who told him not to go to the theater *1
Kennedy had a secretary named Lincoln who told him not to go to Dallas *2
Lincoln was shot in the back of the head in the presence of his wife
Kennedy was shot in the back of the head in the presence of his wife
Lincoln shot in the Ford Theatre
Kennedy shot in a Lincoln, made by Ford
He was shot on a Friday
He was shot on a Friday
The assassin, John Wilkes Booth, was known by three names, comprised of fifteen letters
The assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, was known by three names, comprised of fifteen letters
Booth shot Lincoln in a theater and fled to a warehouse *3
Oswald shot Kennedy from a warehouse and fled to a theater
Booth was killed before being brought to trial
Oswald was killed before being brought to trial
There were theories that Booth was part of a greater conspiracy
There were theories that Oswald was part of a greater conspiracy
Lincoln's successor was Andrew Johnson, born in 1808
Kennedy's successor was Lyndon Johnson, born in 1908
*1 Note: It is an urban myth that Lincoln had a secretary named Kennedy. There is no record of that.
*2 Note: There is no record whether or not Kennedy's secretary warned him.
*3 Note: Booth actually fled to a farm and was killed in a tobacco barn. It might be a stretch to call it a warehouse. But two years after his death, Booth's body was temporarily moved to a warehouse. Also, after the assassination, the government closed the Ford Theatre and turned it into a warehouse.
What do you think? Is there more to it than just mere coincidence?
Monday, February 15, 2010
Did you know that "Washington's Birthday" is the official name for President's Day? During the month of February the birthday of two of our greatest President's takes place. Both George Washington who was born on Feb. 22nd and Abraham Lincoln born on Feb. 12th.
However, Washington's birthday has been publicly celebrated since he was in office, before Abraham Lincoln was even born. Much of the debate over the name of the holiday springs from the fact that state's can follow their own holidays how they see fit and many of them chose to also honor Lincoln, calling the celebration President's Day.
In 1968 Congress voted down the motion to make President's Day the official term for the holiday, but a resurgence of the term by advertisers in the 1980s solidified the name in American culture.
But on the books, it's still officially known as Washington's Birthday.
Saturday, February 13, 2010
When I was a young girl, with nothing but brothers, my dad never forgot to bring candy or some little gift for each of his kids. It taught me to associate the holiday with affection, not "couplehood." It also taught me to remember small trinkets for the people I love-- regardless of romance-- on this day, which I think of as just a big, huge excuse to say "love you mean it" and give chocolate. I owe dad big for that.
As a result, I have never stopped giving chocolate, cards, or some other little trinket to the adults or kids in my life on Valentine's Day. I even get a little bag of greenies for both Max and Jeeves, and some treats for the kitties. Any living thing who has earned my love in the past year gets rewarded.
I can understand bitterness or indifference toward the commercial side of the holiday. For me, even in my lonely years, it was a reminder to remember how blessed I am, and to keep my heart open. If not for that tiny crack, Ahmed never would have squeaked his way in.
Happy Valentine's Day! Go love somebody... and eat chocolate. :)
Friday, February 12, 2010
The downside is that...you read them back to back and become really embroiled in the world and then...you feel bereft when you finish the last book. It's tough to leave them behind.
I discovered Rachel Caine last week. I started the first book in her Morganville Vampire series as an audio book. When I found out there were seven all together...well, let's just say I've been in Morganville all week. (I read the rest, listened to the first)
I loved the series. The characters were very real to me and I envy Ms. Caine's mastery of dialogue. But now, I'm bereft. The 8th book comes out in May. May!!! I have to wait three months.
I don't want to let go. I'm pouting. What if the 8th is the last one? I just am going nuts now. Take me back to Morganville.
So, what series sucked you in with its greedy teeth and won't let you go?
Thursday, February 11, 2010
As you've probably heard on the news, DC is currently buried under 3 feet of snow. It's kinda crazy. This is a city where an inch or two of snow throws everyone into a panic, so you can imagine what it's been like.
Snowpocalypse 2010 began around 11 am on Friday, and by Saturday night, we'd gotten around 27 inches. Keep in mind that the average annual snowfall for the entire winter in DC is 17 inches, so just that one storm alone crushed the average for the year.
And that wasn't all we'd had this year, either. Back in December, we got 19 inches in one day, about a week and a half after our premature baby was born, so Mr. Brice and I couldn't get to the NICU to see our tiny little one. That really sucked. We couldn't get out, because the snow started around 9 pm Fri night and stopped on Saturday night, but we didn't see our first snow plow until mid-morning Monday. Awesome, huh?
We got all excited this time, because a snow plow came through our neighborhood early Monday morning. Whoohoo, we thought! Until the damn thing got stuck halfway up the street, a good 8 houses away from me, so it just backed up and never made it down to my end of the street.
Then early, early Tuesday morning (around 5:30 am), I was awoken not by the baby, but by loud noises outside. Oh good...a plow. Except that it was way too loud and seemed not to be moving -- just staying in one spot. I peeked outside only to discover a frontloader (like a bulldozer, only without the tank-like treads) digging, digging, digging into our snowcrete on the street outside my house, and dumping tons (literally) of snow into a dumptruck parked outside. And it was insanely bright, because they brought their own floodlights. They worked there for around 45 minutes, with the dumptruck disappearing every 10 minutes or so and returning empty. I'm not sure where they were bringing all the snow, but I didn't care, because they'd finally cleared the street down to about 4 inches of hard compacted snow on which you could actually drive.
Whoohoo! Just in time for Snowpocalypse Part II, aka "Snowverkill." Yup, the next storm rolled in Tuesday afternoon and kept falling until Wednesday night, dumping another 12 inches on top of the more than 2 feet we already had.
I'm sorry this post was so late, but we keep losing internet access. The cable lines run by a magnificent old magnolia tree in our front yard, but the branches are hanging extremely low due to all the snow piled up.
So yeah, I'm so done. Anyone have any suggestions for somewhere warm I could move to?
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Did you guys know today is Umbrella Day? Did you know they made an entire day to celebrate the magical wonders of the...umbrella? No? Neither did I, or probably anyone else in the free world, until I put my google-fu to the test and uncovered this most mysterious of holidays.
Why Umbrella Day? Well, I have no idea. But let's go over how awesome umbrellas are:
--They come in all different colors, so you can accessorize them with your favorite galoshes or rainjacket.
--They protect you from the rain...unless, that is, they get flipped inside out and you curse loudly because the wind is whipping so hard you can't get it fixed and your hair is a huge knotty tangle and you show up to wherever you're going looking like a hot mess.
--Ummmmmmm, I'm kinda running out of reasons why umbrellas are so awesome. Wait! I got one--they come in all shapes and sizes. Need a portable one? They make them small enough to stow in your purse. Want a massive one? You can find big umbrellas too.
So today on February 10, 2010, we salute you, umbrella. *real american heeeeroooooes...* Show your appreciation for an umbrella today--buy it a card. Take it out to lunch. Maybe even drop it an email, just to say you care. Your umbrella is always there for you, unless someone totally steals it or something.
Tuesday, February 09, 2010
All I can say is, I'm so glad mine are off.
Monday, February 08, 2010
I wish I had more to say on the subject. But honestly, losing a child is something nobody should ever have to live through. My friend did, and is finally ready to do some fundraising. So I'm helping.
If you can donate, that would be awesome. If you can't, trust me...I understand.
Saturday, February 06, 2010
I thought a great deal about Dr. King during this past election. This is not a political blog, but I don't think anyone will mind me saying I did not vote for President Obama. Yet I remember tearing up during his acceptance speech. How could I not? Regardless of my own preferences, this was a huge historical moment. And it did make me wonder what Dr. King might have said. Certainly he would have been proud.
His final speech is one I have always found both prophetic and moving. When he says, not knowing how soon his death is to come, "I may not get there with you," I always start to cry a little.
In honor of Black History Month and Dr. King I share his image, memory, and incredibly powerful words here today.
Friday, February 05, 2010
My daughter is shopping for her first. She found one she likes and is taking it to a mechanic today to make sure it doesn't have any obvious defects. I'm really proud of her for saving the money (we told her we'd pay half) and she's being very responsible about the whole thing.
My first car was a HUGE oxidized blue Cadillac with tail fins. If it hadn't had the tail fins, I never would have been able to go in reverse because I couldn't see the back end and it was big. The car never ran well, but it had sort of that Love Shack vibe (we used to sing "hop in my Caddy it's as big as a whale and it's about to set saiiiil").
What was your first car like?
Thursday, February 04, 2010
I've been reading a lot of Regency romance lately, which is awesome, but I haven't read any YA in a long time. So give me your best YA suggestions. Thanks!
Wednesday, February 03, 2010
Aaaaanyway, I asked the Fictionistas what I should blog about, and they suggested I do an advice column. What a fantastic idea! I love helping others--it gives me a thrill of joy. There's nothing better than bringing a little glimpse of happiness into someone's life, whether through advice or making matches. The Fictionistas even started me off with a few questions for me to answer. Hooray! So, here we go--advice from yours truly:
Q from Mel: How can you tell if a boy is just trying to be cool or if he's just not that into you?
A: Wow. Good question! Here's what I think--there's a difference of being into you and not digging you at all. Whether he's acting cool, shy, or assertive, if he's into you, he's still going to want to be around you. He'll ask you questions and really listen to the answers. Or you'll find that he's looking at you when you least expect it, like when you're working on an art project, and you glance up, and your eyes lock with his, and then you totally get nervous and drop your paintbrush, and you splatter red paint all over the front of your hot new shirt that is SUPPOSED to make your cleavage look bigger but doesn't seem to be working...uh, that may have happened to me, and I may be painfully wishing that particular guy is into me. Anyway, guys who aren't into you at all won't make lots of direct eye contact. They won't make an effort to get to know you at all. Because they suck.
Q from Chrissy: What does a great relationship require to last after the arrow magic fades?
A: HAH, when I figure that out, I'll let you know. In theory, the stupid handbook I have says that if you have a bunch of compatibility factors, plus some quotients of other stuff, mixed with graphs and charts and some other technological hooey, that you should be an awesome cupid. But I fell asleep reading that crap. Basically, I'm winging it right now. In MY opinion, a great relationship should have compatibility, yes, but there should also be chemistry. That desire to be around the other person and get to know them. Laughs, and fun too!
Q from Gwen: I'm not sure the hero in my book is very good for my heroine. Why do good girls like bad boys so much?
A: Bad boys are so hot, aren't they? There's something irresistable about the idea of attracting a bad boy who is totally wrong for you, someone who finds himself compelled to be around you. I'm not sure why we like them so much, but we sure do. Well, not me--the guy I am in love with is totally awesome and not a bad boy at all, though he's incredibly HOT AND SUPER SMART. By the way, I really want to read your book now, Gwen. haha
And now, I'm opening up the questions for you guys! Anyone have any advice they're seeking about love, friendship, anything at all? Drop a comment in this post, and I'll answer ya! Thanks sooooo much, guys!
Tuesday, February 02, 2010
The whole thing comes from a German tradition which says that if a hibernating animal (in this case, the groundhog) sees its shadow on Feb. 2 — the Christian holiday of — winter will last another six weeks. If it doesn't see it's shadow, legend says spring will come early. How they determine whether or not Phil has seen his shadow, I don't know. To my knowledge, Phil isn't a talking groundhog.
Today's post would be remiss if I didn't also mention the movie Groundhog Day. It's one of those movies I could watch over and over, oddly enough. And with that in mind, let me leave you with these parting words: "Don't drive angry!"
Also, enjoy the rest of your winter. Here in Florida, we don't pay too much attention to such things.
Monday, February 01, 2010
I don't enjoy 3-D movies and I haven't since Jaws 3-D.
Because I can't see it. I can't wear contacts anymore and since I wear glasses, those 3-D glasses don't fit me properly. So when I'm watching a 3-D movie, I see a lot of red and green and blur. No fun at all.
Plus, I really don't understand what is so thrilling about having to duck so you won't get poked in the eye by a 3-D arrow. Or punched by a 3-D fist. Or all wet by a 3-D waterfall.
So even if I could see 3-D, I just wouldn't enjoy it. During Jaws 3-D as a severed arm floated into my lap I remember thinking "Why did I think this would be fun?"
I know I'm pretty much alone in my anti-3-D world, but I'm okay with that.
Oh, and before I forget, we actually had a snow day in Little Rock last week, check out my pics on my website!