Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The War of the Worlds

My kids have been finishing up their summer reading/assignments and one novel was a real bear: The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells. The style in which it was written, the vocabulary, and the subject matter – Martians invading planet Earth – made it a tough read for one of my kids. So I decided I’d do a sympathy read, just in case she had trouble with her written assignment and needed someone to talk it out with.

I was always fascinated by the Orsen Welles radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds and as a kid I loved watching the 1953 movie with my mother. So even though I was up for the challenge of reading the novel, I thought it might be a dry sci-fi read. I was a bit apprehensive about committing to it but you know, the things we do for our kids, etc, etc.

She completed the assignment not long after I started the book (yay for J!). However, I wanted to soften her negative reaction to it so I decided to keep reading. And guess what? It's great so far! I'm only on Chapter 8 but I love it. She thinks I'm absolutely crazy for reading it voluntarily, but every now and then she'll ask, "What part are you on?"
Heh, heh.

I told her to just wait 'til tomorrow - me and her and a big bowl of popcorn.
Movie night - 1953 version.
Oh, yeah!

Here's the trailer. Woot!

Has anyone read Wells's novel? And has anyone seen the updated 2005 Tom Cruise adaption? When it first came out, I couldn't bring myself to watch it for fear it might taint my memories of the earlier film. Weird, I know. But if it's good I might check it out.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Writing Out the Storm

Today Hurricane Irene is passing over us – in fact she’s just about gone by now. We’re still experiencing some gusty winds but for the most part we lucked out with very little damage – leaves everywhere and some small branches. In other parts of MA there are trees down, flooding, and power outages. Just down the street from us power was lost from a down line. My thoughts go out to those who are experiencing a loss and damage.

We’ve got all the necessities here: milk, water, bread, and batteries. A little tip...if you’re looking for D size batteries right before a storm, try a toy store. After checking 3 sold out stores, I walked into Toys R Us and they had plenty. Score!

Because I have access to all my electrical appliances, baking comfort storm brownies is mandatory. And hopefully we won't lose power in the middle of baking or we'll be eating brownies with a spoon. It’s a great time to batten down the hatches, hunker down, and ride out the storm. Love those weather related phrases, don’t you? But this is how my brain translates those phrases when I stay in the house all day to stay safe from the elements.

I'm planning to put chocolate batter and hunks of brownie down my hatch while I write out the storm.

Okay, I know. Not very funny. I blame it on being a little stir crazy while being trapped in the house with everyone. But at least you didn’t have to endure me singing the entire song, “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow” like my girls did earlier (Thank you 8th grade chorus for drilling those words into my head so I’ll never forget them. And how is it that I can remember the entire song but I can’t remember where I put my kids’ framed school portraits last Christmas? I digress).

Is anyone else dealing with Irene? Are there any songs/poems/passages that you can recall word for word if prompted?

Stay safe, everyone!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Pottermore Blues

Summer is slipping away and with it my free time. *sniff*
I knew it would pass fast this year with college visits, vacation, home projects, and now, back-to-school shopping. But I’m not ready to say good-bye just yet and I don’t have to for another 2 weeks. Then it’s back to school and sports/activities – Hello, mom’s taxi service - and back to work for me.

Hmm...what to do, what to do. I could finish cleaning the attic. I could rearrange my kitchen cabinets. Maybe clean and organize my bathroom linen closet or the art/school supply closet in our office. All of these are worthy goals and a clean, organized house would help the beginning of the school year to run smoother.

But do you know what I’d really like to be doing with my last two weeks of free time before life gets crazy, I have no spare time, and I’m too tired at night so I just veg BIG TIME and fall asleep on the couch until I drag my sorry butt upstairs to bed?

(Just had to get that out of my system.)

Two or three rounds of invitations have been sent to those who registered to beta test Pottermore, J.K. Rowling's new interactive Harry Potter site. I obsessively checked the site for my chance to find the magic quill (a prerequisite to registering), found it, and received my invitation and super cool username (USER name; a name to be USED; I want to USE IT!!) but alas, the Pottermore communications have dried up. Not even a hint of an owl flapping my way. This makes me a very sad Hufflepuff.

Most writers check their emails obsessively for news about a query or pages submitted, revision notes, critiques from betas or CPs. I check my email obsessively, numerous times a day, for my invitation to enter Pottermore.

I want to be sorted!
I want to earn house points!
I want to explore Philosopher’s Stone! (see that Potter gods? I used the original British title. Doesn’t that count for something?)
I want to learn the backstory about the Dursleys, and don’t even get me started on Professor McGonagall (LOVE her). I want the deets on her past romance!!

No, don’t tell me. Don’t tell me. I know some of my friends (you know who you are and I still like you) have been in for weeks, but I want to find out on my own. I hope I don’t have to wait until October when the site officially opens to those who didn’t get to preregister. I want to wander Privet Drive, Diagon Alley, and Hogwarts in leisure before the madness begins.

:checks email again:
:trudges up to the attic:

Are you waiting for your owl or are you one of the lucky ones? Do you even give a hoot about entering Pottermore?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Passing the Snore Test

Have you ever read a book that everyone and their next door neighbor has declared wonderful, 5 stars, unputdownable? Or maybe you decide to read it because you heard great buzz about the book/author, or enjoyed another work by that author so you assume this other book would be just as great? Then you borrow or buy said book and happily start reading, because it's the beginning, filled with such promise of adventure, magic, romance, or mystery. You can't wait to meet your character companions who will guide you through the land of make believe for a few days.

Then the reality sets in. What usually takes you a few days to finish a book turns to a week, 2 weeks. While reading in bed, you snore and a tiny bit of drool unattractively leaks out the side of your open mouth. A month goes by and you’re only on page 200 with another 100 some odd pages to go. Each time you pick it up you sneer and think, "You will not make me crack. I will finish you!"

This is happening to me now. I’m not going to name the book (I saw you peeking at my side bar. No, it’s not Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone), because I know from blog hopping, even from comments I read yesterday, that it’s a well-liked book by a well-known YA author (That’s all I’m sayin'. Lips zipped). And hey, just because I didn't like it doesn't mean someone else won't, so I'd hate to give a book a bad wrap on my blog. But I have to tell you, up until today, I was this close – picture a millimeter between my thumb and index finger – after reading 200 pages to putting it aside. And the worst part is it’s the first book in a series (!) so I’m already not anticipating the ending because the story will be left up in the air (and between you and me, I won’t be reading the rest of the series).

See, the thing is I like to give every book I read a real chance. Doesn’t mean I’ll love it when I finish it. But even if I don't love it, I do appreciate the hard work that it took the author to write it and the the long, arduous road travelled to publication. The book made it, after all, and is getting good reviews. If I choose to read something, I really like to give it a fair shot before bailing. But alas, if it’s a chore to read I will put it down. After all, I am reading for pleasure.

So I had been slogging my way through my current read, waiting for the action to pick up when I got a call from the library the other day. A book I reserved about 6 weeks ago came in. Perfect excuse to drop this baby like a hot tequito. But I decided to give it one more chance since it finally started getting a bit more interesting. It’s going to have to pass the reading-in-bed test. If I put it aside on my own to go to sleep, I’ll finish it. If I fall asleep mid-paragraph, I’m starting Divergent tomorrow!

How long do you give a book before dropping it?

Monday, August 15, 2011

My Not So Secret 1st Birthday

Last week this blog turned 1 year old. Where did the time go? I remember its birth like it was yesterday.

Blogging has been fun but not without its ups and downs. I have a nice group of friends who stop by to say hello - some I've know for a long time and others I just met recently. I know how precious your time is and I appreciate when you read and comment. I don't mind talking to myself; I do it all the time. However, it's nice to know that someone else is out there and has something to contribute to my tangents. And to be honest, looking forward to your comments is what keeps the desire to post during the difficult times of the year.

Why did I start blogging? I don't facebook and I don't twitter (tweet?), but I enjoyed reading blogs as a newbie writer seeking publication. For me the next logical step was starting my own blog. It was my way of acknowleging to myself that yes, I want to write and share my journey with others who may be travelling that same path. Sharing my take on this crazy, scary, exciting, sometimes fulfilling - sometimes draining writing process is what I enjoy and keeps me going. Blogging gets me to write during those weeks that I'm drained from all the real life responsibilities weighing me down. Hopefully, it's helping to improve my writing and develop my voice.

Writing can be lonely, especially when family, friends, co-workers don't fully understand the drive and passion that go along with it. It's not just, "I'm writing a book." It's, "I have this idea that won't leave me alone. And these characters I'm creating are real and I have just have to listen to them and write their story. And maybe someone will read it one day and it will help them forget their misery, give them an escape, help them through a hard time, etc." You get that.

There have been rumblings that perhaps blogging has run its course. I don't know. My favorite bloggers are still around and I don't get the sense that they're going anywhere. This is what's comfortable to me. And although I know that I have to master the shorter post, this is my preferred form of interacting with others.

I hope you'll continue to visit and offer your opinions. They're always welcome. I don't follow many blogfests. Not that I have anything against them, I just don't have the time. I don't chase followers either. I don't want my blogging experience to be about artificial numbers. I'd like others to come because they like it here and plan on coming back.

So, happy birthday, blog. May you have many more.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Here I am, wondering what I should write. Should write? Would like to write. That’s better.
This blog is not about what I should be doing, but what I’d like to be doing.
And right now, that’s kind of fuzzy.

See, I’m restless right now. It hasn’t affected my writing too much, though I find that physical distractions (cleaning, shopping for school, etc.) are helping me through it more than thinking/creative distractions (writing, blogging, reading). I'm struggling with identity. Who am I? How do I define myself? I haven’t had to ask that question since I was a young adult. But I’m asking now.

I’ve been cleaning out my attic. As I sort through toddler shoes, kindergarten drawings, old pictures of a younger family, the lump in my throat burns and I taste salty tears as I smile at their past innocence. Life was simpler then when the biggest problems were combing out the tangles in my daughter’s long hair and wiping away the tears after cleaning a boo boo. My role as a mother was to be ever present, to protect, and care for my children's needs - of which there were many back then.

For my family, there will be big changes this coming school year and the need to be patient, flexible, understanding and most of all loving is important.
I can’t even wrap my head and heart around the fact that my little boy will be leaving for college a year from now. How did those years melt away? A wave of mixed emotions grip me - anxiety, excitement, fear, pride and even sadness - and it hurts sometimes.

As they get closer to adulthood my identity is changing. Sure, I’m still their mother but that role is changing and I'm trying to figure it out. Yes, it’s still to love, support, nurture...but now I have to step back and stand offstage in the shadows. Wait for them to come to me. They don’t need to sit on my lap anymore, they don’t need me to tuck them in, or sing their tears away. Part of my role is to trust them when they walk out the door. Now it’s time to watch them strengthen their new wings, allow them flutter, to stumble, to try again, until they fly.

And so I’ve been restless as I wrestle with my identity. It was clear for so many years: wife, stay at home mother, friend.
I’ve added part-time worker and writer into the mix.
Writer. I write. And yet I still struggle with calling myself that. Is what I create worthy? How will I know? So I take tiny baby steps looking for some kind of validation and then I chastise myself for looking for it. But I want writer, children's author, to become part of who I am. Not only to myself, but to others as well.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Awesome August

There's so much cool stuff happening in August I just had to share!

1. Most of you know I have an author crush on Laurie Halse Anderson. Nothing creepy, I promise. She's an incredibly gifted children's author whom I greatly admire and had the pleasure to meet last year. For the past 4 years Laurie has encouraged writers to devote 15 minutes a day during the month of August. There are no rules, though she does provide daily prompts if needed. Check out the Write Fifteen Minutes A Day Challenge on her blog.

2. Did you know that kidlit literary agent extraordinaire, Mary Kole, from the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, has invited writers to post their first lines from a current ms on her blog to be critiqued by other bloggers (and a few lucky ones from Mary herself)? I held my breath, typed the first line from my ms Nitpicky, and then quickly clicked "post" before chickening out. Why not post yours?

3. Natalie Whipple celebrates her 1000th post with a video post.

4. Write On Con, the online conference for kidlit writers is right around the corner! Woot!

5. Karen G. is planning her second virtual Labor Day BBQ! I don't participate in many blogfests, but this one is right up my alley. Just blog hop, say hi, and bring a virtual dish to the BBQ. What could be easier? It's a great way to connect with other writers. For more details visit Karen's blog, Coming Down the Mountain: A Writer's Blog.

6. My blog is celebrating its 1st birthday this month! Details to follow since I, er, have nothing planned yet.

Did I miss anything? What are you looking forward to this month?