Archive | April, 2014

WWW Wednesday, 16-April-2014

16 Apr

A couple of updates for this new installment of WWW Wednesday hosted by MizB. I hope I can keep up this reading pace!
www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:
What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading: I’m getting toward the end of Before You Know Kindness by Chris Bohjalian. The book was a little slow to start, but Bohjalian is a beautiful writer and it kept me interested through the long yet necessary exposition. I have another of his books waiting on my shelf. I’m hoping to get it autographed when I hear him speak on the 30th! I know I said I put Cabin Pressure by Josh Wolk on hold but I’ve found time to listen to it while I clean or go on walks and it’s a nice thing to listen to at those times because it’s so darn funny. The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson is keeping me entertained on my phone. It’s going slowly, mostly because I read during breakfast only. And if I have to wait at the chiropractor. But mostly breakfast. I’m really excited to say that I started And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini. I’m lucky enough that I got to hear Hosseini speak when I was in school and he is such a wonderful person and writer. I have a ton of respect for him and I’m really excited to read this book! I’ve heard wonderful things.

Recently finished: I finished the audiobook for The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith. The review should be up next Tuesday, barring any emergency that might arise. I give it a 4/5.

Reading Next:  I might have time to squeeze in an ARC book, but probably not. Book club timing is pretty tight between my two groups. The next one up is The City and the City by China Mieville which sounds like a trippy science fiction. Jury’s out on how I’ll feel about it.

That’s it from me. What are your three Ws? Leave a comment and let me know and also check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

As a reminder, if you’re interested in doing a Read-Along, please respond to this post. There’s a poll where you can vote on what book you’d like to read. I’m closing the voting at 5 PM today (Eastern time). Be sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. You can see all of these on the right hand bar. (You know you want to.)

Until next time, write on.

New Writer’s Group: Small Group of Strangers Workshop

15 Apr

As if there wasn’t enough going on in my life, I’ve joined another writing group! This one is workshop centered and run by a young woman with a creative writing degree (yes, I’m jealous). I found the group on Meetup.com and if you’ve ignored me before when I say this is a great place to find writing friends, take your fingers out of your ears and give it a try.

The group was great and I loved how it was run. The moderator says it’s the same way they ran workshops at school. I loved how organized the group was. As a note, all writers groups are different and you just have to find one that works for you. They all have their virtues, just find the one you like. That lecture aside, I think I’ll continue going to this one. Here’s how it was run.

We all arrived no more than five minutes late and there were only four of us. This was wonderful as a first timer because I didn’t feel too left out. The other three had all attended before and only two of us had submitted something, myself and a gentleman. We did his piece first, which was nice because it showed me how mine would be reviewed.

We started with him reading the first page or so of his work aloud. I loved this because it told us how to pronounce one of the names (which I was saying wrong in my head) and get the tone he wanted to get across. Then we as a group summarized what happened in the piece, cutting each other off and finishing where someone stopped. That sounds rude when I write it like that, but it was nothing of the sort. It was really great and made us all feel really connected to the piece again.

Don’t worry, we did get to the critique part! We said what we liked about the piece, what we thought it had going for it and was well done. And then, finally, we did go over what we thought could be changed about the piece to make it better. This ranged from metaphors and words to voice and character development. I got a lot of good advice from this group, some of it I’m not sure how to implement yet. I’ll go over it with the Novel Girls before I’m done and I bet I put it through another round of edits. Such is life.

I hope those of you who are writers have found a group of writers to bounce pieces off of. How is your favorite writing group structured? Do you like large or smaller groups? I love hearing about all the different ways a piece can be critiqued.

As a reminder, if you’re interested in doing a Read-Along, please respond to this post. There’s a poll where you can vote on what book you’d like to read. Be sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. You can see all of these on the right hand bar. (You know you want to.)

Until next time, write on.

Rejected Again!

14 Apr

UntitledRejection letter #2 found its way to me on my birthday. I know, that sounds just awful, doesn’t it? I didn’t let it phase me that day and didn’t even think about it until the day after, but I got accepted to grad school that day and now, two weeks later, I’m ready to think about it.

Am I upset? Only that it came via email at with such poor timing. Am I overly surprised? I guess not. It was a piece I’ve workshopped once before and this was a bit of an experiment to see how much revision a piece needs to be publication ready. I’ve workshopped it again now (more on that tomorrow) and I will once more before I send it out again. I’ve picked out the magazine already. If it’s rejected again, well, it will have been long enough I can bring it back in to the same workshops and maybe they will have forgotten about it. Maybe.

I know it’s a natural part of the writing cycle and I’m among many great and celebrated writers with this rejection. It’s nothing special, but it also shows that my writing is nothing special. I’m not going to be an overnight success. And really, I’m okay with that. If I was going to be, I’d hope that I’d know it by now. That’s not something you expect to come as a surprise.

How are your rejection letters stacking up? I’m keeping my in the same file where I keep my workshopped copies. I’ll probably have to separate those at some point, but for now it’s comforting that there’s only two.

As a reminder, if you’re interested in doing a Read-Along, please respond to this post. There’s a poll where you can vote on what book you’d like to read. Be sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. You can see all of these on the right hand bar. (You know you want to.)

Until next time, write on.

Book Club Reflection: The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

11 Apr

As a special birthday gift to me, my book club met last Monday to discuss The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach. I brought cupcakes to celebrate. I absolutely loved this book, as you can see from my review I wrote a few weeks ago. We stuck to the discussion questions pretty well and there were some really great discussion starters.

One of the over-arching questions of the entire book is, “Why did Henry loose his throw?” It affected all of the other characters in one way or another but we never really get a definitive answer. We have a bunch of different theories, but they all wind together into one. The game where he first miss-threw and hit Owen was the first one where the scouts were watching him. Henry was just a boy from South Dakota who never thought he’d amount too much but had his world rocked with the opportunity to play in college. The further opportunity to play in the pros might have stressed him out. In Aparicio’s book, he says, “There are three stages: Thoughtless being. Though. Return to thoughtless being.” We felt that Henry wasn’t able to make the return to thoughtless being because he felt so much guilt at what happened to Owen. For most of the game, he’s stuck in ‘thought.’ I suspect that he wasn’t thinking when he sacrificed himself for the team in the championship game and that finally allowed him to return to ‘thoughtless being.’

The summary of the book lists the five people affected by Henry’s stray throw as Guert, Pella, Mike, Owen, and Henry himself. Of these characters, Owen is the only one whose point of view we do not hear. Most of us never thought about this consciously, but it affects what we thought of him. It made him seem more wise and sage than he would have had we heard his thoughts. It helped him become the Buddha his teammates thought of him as. We admitted that we didn’t know Owen as well because he never narrated, but at the same time, we didn’t know Henry very well even thought we were in his head sometimes. I personally feel that Owen was affected the least by the throw (you can argue if you want) and that’s part of the reason he never narrates.

Mike and Henry have a very unique relationship. We questioned if Mike gives too much of himself to Henry and why. I think Mike gave too much before the main action of the story, but by the time the book began, he had stopped giving so much. He was keeping his school acceptances secret from Henry and then later his relationship with Pella. I feel he had given too much and no longer had much to gives. We suspected it had to do with how Schwartz grew up, with an absent father and his mother dying. I think he wanted to care for someone in a way no one else cared for him.

After Henry’s miss-throw, he punishes himself physically in a way he’s never pushed his body before. Why would he do this? We believed that hard work was the only frame of reference he had to improve himself. When he wanted to move from a scrawny farm boy to a college athlete, it was by hard work and eating well. To move from his error back to error-less ways, the only thing he could think to do was work harder.

The part of the book (as I mentioned in my review) that bothered me the most was the time when Henry and Pella had a ‘relationship’ together. I hesitate to say it was a real relationship because of how dysfunctional it was, but they were together in a loose sense. We asked each other why this would happen. We suspect that Pella was willing because she was being driven away from Schwartz because of Henry. All Mike would talk about for a long time was how Henry needed him to improve and how Henry was going to be okay. Pella was sick of feeling like the mistress in her own relationship. Henry was looking for something to cling to that he could see as ‘normal,’ something that would make him feel like things were going to be alright after all. He was completely using her, but I think she was using him as well. (I still like my theory that he was trying to become Schwartz, but I don’t have much evidence to back this up.)

We talked a lot about Guert and Owen’s relationship. For much of the book, we felt that it was one-sided, with Guert putting a lot more of himself out in the open and risking a lot more to be with Owen. At the very end, when they bury Guert at sea, I finally saw Owen’s emotional attachment to Guert and understood that they had a mutual understanding and caring.

Even though Guert is so much older than the students, there are several ways in which he was a lot like them. He was rather immature in a lot of ways and still acted like a student. He had been in academia his whole life, never even moving off campus. He still lived in a glorified dorm, spent money like he was poor (except the Audi), and didn’t recognize life outside of campus. He never really had to fend for himself and could stay hidden in the bubble of Westish. I feel this is part of the reason Owen could relate to him so well.

We talked about if Owen goaded Guert into their relationship and there was some disagreement. Owen was the more obvious flirt but as the older and authoritative figure, was Gert responsible? I personally feel that at 20 or 21, Owen was fully aware of what he was doing and the risks it involved. I think Guert was confused about his feelings for most of the book but though Owen might have pushed him, he was better off for it.

We talked a lot about Harbach’s decision to have a gay teacher-student relationship and how it affected the story. Many of our members felt that if Owen had been female, the punishment would have still existed, but the stigma wouldn’t have been so harsh. Some also felt that this book is a product of its time because has this been forty years ago, not much would have happened if a male administrator was having a relationship with a female student. But this was a modern gay relationship. Was Harbach trying to ‘make it different?’ Why would he choose this tool? I personally think a part of it was to flip Pella’s world and change her view of her own father completely. We also brought up how Owen fit a lot of gay stereotypes and we couldn’t reach a conclusion as to if this was rude or not. I usually find blonde stereotypes rude but if they’re true of one character, are they really stereotypes? Guert didn’t have many of these characteristics (clean freak, well dressed, etc.) yet he was still gay.

Do others besides athletes go through what happened to Henry? Of course. Writers and artists can have a writing or creative block. But unlike athletes, writers and artists suffer through their block alone and in private. Athletes have to suffer through it in front of an audience watching their every move. Even though I’m a writer, I still feel that what athletes have to go through is worse.

The term ‘monomania’ means the pursuit of a single thing. It’s a big theme in Melville’s Moby Dick. In The Art of Fielding, some of the characters are chasing whales as well. Henry in pursuit of his throw and Guert in pursuit of Owen come to mind. Schwartz is an interesting character when one considers this question He had high standards for himself as to what he would do in life. He wanted to be a politician and would only attend one of the best law schools in the country. He wouldn’t work as an athletic director at Westish because he was going to do better on his LSAT. Some of our group felt that he was setting himself up for failure by having such high expectations. I think he wanted as much for himself as Henry did and had the same single-minded way of going about it. As for what Owen and Pella are chasing, I think it’s less clear. However, I think Henry’s single-mindedness affects them all.

When Henry sacrificed himself for the team, I argue that was when he returned to ‘thoughtless being.’ Until then, he had never had to give anything up for the team before. They other boys were a platform where he could show how good he was and give himself the opportunity to go pro. When they made it to the national championships without him, Henry realized he had to give something up for the team they way they gave up for him.

We were surprised that Henry went to the game at all. He had eaten so little that he could barely walk. We thought it was a flaw in the plot of the book that Henry deteriorated so much physically at the end yet was still able to function. It seemed almost unreal that he could absorb so much with so little food or activity.

When the characters exhume Guert at the end of the book, it’s a strange tribute to pay to the man most affected in the novel. It’s also amazing they did it while so intoxicated. I believe the reason Pella wanted to do it was so that she would have some control over her father’s death. What she knew about him had changed so extremely right before he died that Pella must have felt she knew him less than she had thought. When the Dean told Pella about the timing surrounding Guert’s death, I feel she felt that she knew his death less than she did before. She’d believed a heart attack and yet again everything she thought she knew was thrown into the air and rained down around her in a beautiful mess. If she buried her father, if she knew where he was and no one else did, she would finally have some control over their relationship and he couldn’t surprise her any more.

This book was great for book clubs and if you’re looking for a good read right at the beginning of baseball season, this is a great one. You don’t have to know baseball very well to appreciate it. I hope you can pick it up and enjoy.

Until next time, write on.

Who Wants To Do A Read-Along?

10 Apr

I’ve been thinking about this for a while and I’m going to go ahead and do it. Is anyone interested in doing a read-along? Before you answer, let me tell you how I think this would shake down.

  1. We choose a book (I’ve elected four, see below)
  2. Every two weeks we all commit to reading about 50 or so pages
  3. On a selected date, all participants would propose one or two questions about the material covered in the past two weeks
  4. Within the next week, all participants would write a blog post answering the questions that were asked by other readers
  5. We all link to each other, comment on each others posts, and have a general community of happy reading times.

That’s really all I’ve got right now. Have I piqued anyone’s interest? Maybe? Maybe not? This is something I’d like to continue doing for a while and try to build a community around.

I’ve picked four books I’d like to choose from this first time and  then I would open it up to those participating going forward. It’s like a book club, but slower reading and more blogging!

You can either leave a comment or email me at my new email address, SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. If you’re going to read with me or follow in the blog, please vote for the title you’d like to see below!

Until next time, write on.

WWW Wednesday, 9-April-2014

9 Apr

Being a part of MizB’s WWW Wednesday has really encouraged me to keep reading at a break-neck speed!www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are: What are you currently reading? What did you recently finish reading? What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading: Last night I was finally able to pick up Before You Know Kindness by Chris Bohjalian. This is the next book for my book club and I wanted to pick it up right away, but had another book to finish first. I’m only 12 pages in, so no assessment yet. On audio book I put Cabin Pressure by Josh Wolk on hold. I was able to listen to a little while I was cleaning the other day, which kept me in a good mood while I vacuumed. The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith is my main audiobook focus. I’ve been listening on the way to and from work (as opposed to just on the way home as I normally do). I’m scared my next hold is going to come in before I finish it. These are my real problems. The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson is keeping me entertained on my phone. It’s going slowly, mostly because I read during breakfast only.

Recently finished: I finished Life After Life by Kate Atkinson last night! When I drafted this and realized I had no finished books to report on I was devastated! I’m glad I can report some progress today. Look for a review next week.

Reading Next:  As much as I want to read one of my own books, it will probably be a book club book. The next one up is The City and the City by China Mieville which sounds like a trippy science fiction. Not normally my cup of tea, but we’ll see how it goes.

That’s it from me. What are your three Ws? Leave a comment and let me know and also check out the original post on MizB’s blog! Until next time, write on.

Liebster Award Winner Right Here!

8 Apr

LiebsterIt’s an honor just to be nominated! Well, it’s a bigger honor when there’s no real winner and the prize is the nomination. Does that make sense? Anywho, Vicki at Hot Tea & A Good Book nominated me for the Liebster Award! Can you feel the love tonight (or this afternoon)?

The Liebster Blog Award is typically given to blogs that have fewer than 300 followers and is an opportunity for people to learn a little bit more about these blogs.

Here are the rules:

List 11 facts about yourself.
Answer the 11 questions asked by whoever nominated you.
Ask 11 new questions to 9 bloggers with less than 300 followers. You cannot re-nominate the blog that nominated you.
Go to their blog and tell them that they have been nominated!

Have you got that, people I nominated? Your blogs are listed at the bottom and I beg you, Reader, to check them out! I put a little something about each of them next to their blogs to pique your interest.

11 Facts about Me

  1. I just got accepted to graduate school where I’ll work toward my Masters in Business Administration. I know this is probably not what you were expecting from a book blogger and wanna-be-writer, but something has to pay the bills.
  2. I speak Spanish. It was one of my degrees in college and the engineers training with me from our Mexico location just found out I speak it. At least they’re nice about it.
  3. My brother and I have the same birthday but we’re not twins. We’re two years apart. It’s fun to call someone to say ‘Happy Birthday!’ and have them say, ‘You, too!’
  4. I’m training for a triathlon. I run in the mornings and my husband and I go on long bike rides on the weekends, usually 20-30 miles with a group. My first triathlon this season is May 24th so wish me luck!
  5. I’ve known my husband for almost ten years and we got married less than a year ago. We were friends in high school and started dating in college and I love that we’ve been in each others lives for so long.
  6. I’ve tried learning Italian, German, and Arabic. I love languages and took a semester or year in each, but kept returning to Spanish. It’s just easier for me, I guess.
  7. I used to be a big-box retail manager. I won’t say which company, but my job out of college was a logistics manager. It was not for me. I had no time to write and my schedule was too erratic to join writers groups. I’ve been with my new company just over a year and it’s a much better fit.
  8. I have a pet turtle. I’m allergic to dogs and cats so reptiles are a safe bet. I’ve loved turtles for as long as I can remember and last year for my birthday, my then-fiance got me Jane. I didn’t think I could love something that looks like a rock so much.
  9. I’m only a little obsessed with Harry Potter. Oh, I’m not supposed to lie. I’m VERY obsessed with Harry Potter. Draco is my favorite character. On a related note…
  10. I started writing when I was 14 on Fanfiction.net. Am I embarrassed? No. Am I going to give you my pen name? Not a chance. I did rather well, I think, with my story. I just checked and have about 104,000 views on my most popular one. Not mind-blowing, I know, but still respectable.
  11. I hate feet. It’s not a real phobia, but it’s a disgust-induced sever dislike. I think they’re the dirtiest things on this planet. My husband has learned to snuggle without our feet touching and I change my socks at least twice a day. Ew. I don’t even like typing about them.

Questions Vicki Asked Me

  1. How did you get started blogging?  I decided to start blogging because there were a bunch of people in my writing group that had writing blogs and I thought it sounded like a good idea. I have some novel manuscripts in the works and I want to have a platform for any potential agent or lit mag that might Google my pen name.
  2. How did you choose your blog’s name? I think writing and putting your work out to be judged is a very brave thing so I see myself as ‘taking it on’ in a way. I didn’t want to limit this blog to just writing but reading as well, so words in general are my focus here.
  3. What do you do when you aren’t blogging? Work? Hobbies? I like to go to Meetup groups. If you haven’t heard of this, it’s really awesome. I’m in a bunch of groups for writers, some for hiking, cycling, speaking Spanish, you name it. I also love watching movies while I knit, riding my bike, and of course reading. I try not to think about work after six in the afternoon, but I’m a business analyst for a major manufacturer. It’s great (and very vague).
  4. Where is your favorite vacation spot and why? My favorite vacation has to be Scotland. The people were so nice and friendly. I can’t want to go with my husband some day. It’s so beautiful.
  5. How about a fictional place to vacation? Is there any doubt it would be Hogwarts? Most likely in the fall.
  6. Who is your favorite fictional character? Just one? Oh gosh. I’m going to say Ron Weasley. He’s funny, brave, loyal, and basically the best friend any one ever had.
  7. What’s your favorite food? I mean you could eat it every day, you would be in heaven! Hm, that’s rough. It it’s too sweet, I’d feel sick. If it’s too filling, I’ll get sick of it. I think a happy medium is Triscut crackers with Swiss cheese. I have this most days. The kicker is my lactose intolerance. Ironic, huh?
  8. What is your dream job? Writer seems too obvious. My more realistic dream job is an international project manager. I really want to be relocated abroad.
  9. What are three things you can’t live without? My laptop, my phone, and my husband. I’d go crazy without any of them.
  10. What’s your biggest guilty pleasure? My husband watches a lot of Family Guy and I pretend I don’t like it. I think it’s hilarious.
  11. What’s your secret talent? I make good cookies. I love baking and I always try to find an opportunity to do so.

My Questions for the Nominees

  1. Are you named after someone?
  2. What is your opinion on the word ‘blogosphere?’
  3. How many times per week do you go to the library?
  4. What’s your most prized possession?
  5. What was the first book you read more than once?
  6. Milk or dark chocolate? (note: other types of chocolate may be acceptable answers to this question)
  7. What was the last gift you got for someone? Why that gift for that person?
  8. Where do you go grocery shopping?
  9. What’s your favorite color?
  10. What, if any, sports did you do growing up?
  11. Who do you idolize?

And finally, The Blogs I Nominate

746 Books– A woman with too many books for whom it’s finally a problem.
Bitches with Books– Book blog with a sense of humor I can relate to!
cooking with the bookclub– Food and books, what’s not to love?
dreamzandclouds– A fellow book lover who devours titles.
I’m Lesefieber!-Book blogging in English and German! I wish I could read the German.

(The following are personal friends and I wouldn’t be a friend if I didn’t nominate them)
Deep Thoughts && Rhyming Words– If you’ve read for a while, you’ve read about my bookish friend Nicole. This is her.
Heart of Sultana– A friend from high school that found my blog on Goodreads.
Peeling the Onion– Another of my bookish friends, Sonia! She recently moved far away for her awesome job but I hope she comes back soon.
Wrote Some Things– The final Novel Girl to get a blog, Katherine! She started it on Friday so jump in now before it’s trendy.

And there you have it! A full post of book love and getting to know yours truly. Congratulations to all my nominees. I look forward to reading your posts.

Until next time, write on.

Prompt Group: Personality Traits

7 Apr

Yes, I finally went to my prompt writing group again. Crazy, I know! Nicole and I even went to a book store before and I only bought two books are you proud of me yet? Well you should be. At group this week we all introduced ourselves along with a favorite personality trait to pass on to our characters. Mine was re-telling the same story over and over to the same person, something that unfortunately runs in my maternal family (I feel bad for anyone having dinner at my parents house when my grandma is there; that’s three generations of the same stories!). The traits were then paired together in sets and we had to write a character that had all of the personality traits listed.

As per usual, I’ll give you the prompts and time we took to do them and then you can give them a whirl as well! My responses will be below. If you do post yours, please link back here so I can see your awesome writing.

  1. Anger Issues and Indecision (5 minutes)
  2. Bad Memory and Impulsive Liar (5 minutes)
  3. Bad-ass, Indomitable Spirit, and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (5 minutes, but 7 would be better)

 

My Answers

Number 1
It would take me, how long, twenty minutes to get back to work? I had twenty five, so that meant I only had another five minutes to pick out my sandwich. Easier said than done for me. If you don’t know, Jimmy Johns has 17 sandwich options and they each sound delicious and have a funny and quirky name, like “Turkey Tom.” There are a handful of nu-numbered options, each with its own fun name. So I’ll have to read each one.
Standing off to the side, I’m glaring at the menu, often interrupted by what those at the register are ordering.
“Number 7!”
“Slim 4, add mayo.”
What? There are slims? That adds another six options, oh God.
I think I’ve finally got it narrowed down to the Vito or the California Club when I hear someone order their sandwich “on Wheat.”
“What’s wheat?” I ask to cashier whose elbow I’ve been standing at for almost ten minutes already.
“You can order any of our sandwiches on wheat bread.”
I furrow my brow, not ready to make another decision.
“Are you ready to order, sir?” he asks me.
“No!” I snap, frustrated at my own indecisiveness.
“Would you mind stepping to the side?” He’s treading lightly around me like I’m going to explode. How does he know?
“Oh, sure, I’ll step to the side.” I’m glaring at him as I take one precise step to the left. He checks over his shoulder at a chubby woman I assume is his manager. Like she can stop me from doing anything.
“I’ll be ready to serve you whenever you’re ready sir,” he says with a forced smile.
“I’ll have the JJ Gargantuian on Wheat.” I smirk, knowing I’ve ordered the most expensive thing on the menu, which must be the best choice.
“Would you like to chips, cookie, pickle, or a drink?”
“WHAT?!”

Number 2
I was out with the guys.
Oh, fun. Where did you go?
To the bar.
With who again?
With Mike and Chelsea.
You said with the guys.
I’m using ‘guys’ in the loosest form possible. Chelsea really wanted to grab McDonalds.
Was this before or after the bar?
Um, before.
So what time did you get to the bar?
What’s with the third degree?
You tend to lie.
I’m not lying about Applebees.
You went to Applebees?
I just told you this, Jesus Christ. The bar, we went to the bar.
So Applebees is the bar?
Yes.
And you went to McDonalds first?
I told you, Amanda really wanted McDonalds fries.
You said Chelsea.
Well, she did too. They both wanted McDonald’s.
So it was you, Amanda, Chelsea, and Mike?
No, the guys were there too.
All of the guys?
Some of them. Do I pass your test yet?
What did you order?
A stripper and a lap dance.
Aha! I knew it.
Are you serious? You think I’d give in that quickly? I ordered the onion rings.

Number 3
His cape was ‘super pressed’ without a wrinkle in sight. His powers were precision and practiced to the point of obsession. But he was a lethal weapon and lint free to boot. Would you mess with him? Would you really? Don’t lie; I know you’re just saying that.
Well, there was someone who did mess with him once. We thought the guy was crazy because there was no way someone as big as him, as overweight and unkempt as him (really, he looked like a drunk homeless man) would stand a chance against the killing machine that was Mr. Wonderful. No way.
But this homeless bum had found his Achilles’ heel. It wasn’t a gun the bum pulled out of his pocket, but a bottle of cheese wiz with a range of about four feet. Mr. Wonderful reached into his back pocket, pulling out some wet wipes and stain removing pens and explained the proper way to remove cheese stains under his breath.
The bum ran up while Mr. Wonderful was distracted and kicked him in the thigh. Of course, it didn’t hurt him at all, but Mr. Wonderful now had a muddy footprint to deal with on his nicely pressed blue slacks. Again, the wipes and stain pen.
It went on like this for forty minutes, the longest anyone has lasted against Mr. Wonderful. But in the end, the bum ran out of ways to ruin his clothes and hair and Mr. Wonderful put him down with one quick punch. He’s still wonderful.

Nicole’s Prompts

How are your prompts? I can’t wait to read them!

Until next time, write on.

Recently Added to my To-Read Shelf

4 Apr

Having realized that my ‘Recently Added’ feature is very similar to MizB’s Friday Finds, I’m trying to time my posts up with hers. It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, so let’s delve in!

  1. Stonehenge by Bernard Cornwell. My mom is the first person to recommend a book to me on Goodreads and I can’t deny my first recommendation! We’re both fans of historical fiction and I expect the highest quality from her recommendations. The book covers ritual sacrifice and the building of Stonehenge.
  2. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. This came out of my post about Amazon’s Book list. I was told if I’m going to write Young Adult literature, I should read it’s classics. Touche. I’m excited to read about young Mr. Caulfield’s journeys.
  3. The Maze Runner by James Dashner. Is it bad I’m reading this because I want to see the movie? Maybe? I’m still reading. My husband purchased this for a YA Lit class in college and then devoured the entire series on our honeymoon. The stories follow Thomas and the other teens that are living inside a terrifying maze. Watch the trailer:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64-iSYVmMVY
  4. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Attwood. This is another off of the Amazon list. I didn’t realize this was a dystopian book and now that I know I’m excited to read it! The women in a world of declining birth rates are only valued if they can have children. Yikes!
  5. Minutes Before Sunset by Shannon A. Thompson. Shannon is another WordPress blogger I’ve been following since I started here. I attended her virtual release party (even though I didn’t think I could!) and was lucky enough to win a copy of one of her titles. I chose the first in the trilogy she’s publishing now and I’m super excited to read about Eric and Jess’s journey!
  6. The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe. We got our next round of books for one of my book clubs. This is the true story of Will and his mother and the books they read as she battles cancer.
  7. Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan. Another book club selection and another memoir. Cahalan was unfortunate enough to develop a rare autoimmune that had her almost declared insane. She wakes up a month after her last memory without knowing what’s happened to her.
  8. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See. The co-worker who recommended Life After Life recommended this book to me as well. She said it was one of her favorites in the past fives years, years in which I missed a lot of good literature being a college student. It’s about two women growing up in 19th century China.
  9. Midwives by Chris Bohjalian. The local libraries pulled together to bring Bohjalian to the area for some speaking engagements. This is the same program that brought Bruce Feiler to town last year. In an effort to save money, Nicole and I went to a used book store on Tuesday and I bought Midwives to have him sign when we hear him speak later this month. So financially sound.
  10. Terra Incognita by Ruth Downie. I lent my friend the first in this series (Medicus) and she enjoyed it so much she went out and bought the next three! To celebrate my birthday (which was Monday if you want to say something…) she gave me the second installment in the series. I love that these books cover Roman England, which is something I think is frequently overlooked in historical fiction.

That’s it! Yes, it’s a big haul but it’s been about a month since I’ve done this for you all so it makes (a little) sense. Do I have any duds? Any winners? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Until next time, write on.

Novel Girls: Consistency, Emotions, and Showing

3 Apr

Even though we’re missing Sonia more than we can take, the Novel Girls are venturing onward. We met last Thursday after almost a month apart and it was so good to see these girls again. We met at Nicole‘s new apartment for a change of scenery and to meet her cutie cat, even though he didn’t seem to like me very much.

The three things we decided to talk about are all running together in my mind, so I’ll try to separate them as best I can. We read the last section of my novel (yay!) and there was one thing that really bothered Katherine. My female protagonist is a pretty head strong character and an independent thinker but in the last two pages, someone says something about her that makes her seem very weak. I hadn’t noticed it until Katherine pointed it out and I’ll need to rework a few things to fix it. We talked about when there are one or two lines in a story that can completely change someone’s opinion of the character and how strong/weak they are. I made a similar comment about Nicole’s scene, in which her intelligent and sophisticated character was attacked and didn’t do much to defend herself. Nicole explained why this happened to us, but we needed to see it in the text because not everyone eats pizza with the author.

This is the joy of beta readers. They can see the lines (like in mine) that change their opinion of a character and they can find points (like in Nicole’s) where a character’s motivation needs to be clarified. Many times, motivations can be explained through the emotions a character is feeling. If a character is scared, he or she is more likely to act defensively instead of aggressively. When the author is able to show the emotion of a character, it’s less likely that their motivations will need to be explained and the reader will be able to sympathize more no matter what because they are inside the character’s head. I’ll tend to recommend this if there are long passages of dialogue that don’t have much as far as tags or time to delve emotionally into the character.

Our last point is almost opposite to this advice and it’s getting out of a character’s head a little bit. In a first person point of view, it’s tempting for the narrator to remain slightly anonymous and undefined. Unless the character is looking in a mirror, why would they describe themselves physically? This can be frustrating for the reader, who wants to be able to picture the person whose head he’s inside. Katherine’s narrator went through a strange change to her physical appearance and it was hard at times for us to picture what she looked like as the story progressed. Sometimes it is good to get out of the head of the narrator so the reader can get a whole picture.

This is a little shorter than some of my other Novel Girls posts, but I think we discussed some really important points. I’m curious how my next re-write will go now that I have all of the things we’ve talked about in my mind. I hope to come out with a better product because of it.

Until next time, write on.