Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 Favorites

Reading is one of my favorite pastimes and most of my 2011 reads did not disappoint. I read a total of *23 novels. Not bad for the crazy life I Iead, lol. I did fall short of my goal which was to *cough* read 60 novels *cough*. I guess I was a little ambitious at the beginning of 2011. I planned to read one novel a week, and threw in a few more figuring I’d read more in the summer. Um, yeah. The averages didn’t quite work out that way. Though *23 is nothing to sneeze at. If you’d like to see my list just glance up above and click Books Read in 2011. And now for my favorites.

To be a favorite, a book must include certain Suzie criteria.

1. Excellent writing/storytelling
2. Good pacing
3. Characters I care about
4. Unputdownable - a certain something that compels me to carry it everywhere to read during every spare minute: in the car while waiting for kids, appointments, the kitchen table during lunch, etc.
5. Tug at my emotions - This could involve blurred vision due to tear filled eyes, laughing out loud, the story lingering long after I've finished, or any combination of the three.

The books that fell into this category are:

The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Plain Kate by Erin Bow
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

YA and MG literature keep getting better and better. It’s hard to pick a favorite with so many excellent choices. With that in mind, my favorite read of the year is...
No, Daughter...
Wait, Kate!!

Surprise of the Year (a.k.a. Why Did It Take Me So Long to Read This?)
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte - Loved this!

I want to emphasize that practically every book entertained me and I’d recommend any of them. Even if a novel didn’t excite me, I know it entertained others. That’s why I hesitate to give any novel a bad review; it’s just so subjective. I mean, I’ve heard rumors that there are actually people who don’t like Harry Potter! I don’t really believe that but I suppose there is the possibility that someone on the planet might not...NAH!!

*ETA: I finished reading Thirteen Reasons Why today, so 24!

Have you read any of these novels? What are your favorites that you love to tell everyone about? 2012 is right around the corner and I'd love some recommendations for the new year.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Preferences (Of the Christmas Variety)

One of the things I love about the holiday season is that everyone has their own preferences as to what makes it perfect. And though it can be fun to "debate" who's preference is better, what really matters is what makes the season special to you and your family. Below I listed a Christmas meme of sorts. Feel free to answer all, some, or none in the comments below. Or if you have an other answer to the choices I listed please do share!

The Tree
real tree or artificial
colored lights or white
flashing lights or nonflashers
garland or tinsel
themed tree or smorgasbord of ornaments
wrapping paper or gift bags

Under the Tree
presents or donation to charity
wrapping paper or gift bags
everything wrapped or half & half

Traditional Carols or contemporary artists’ songs
Rudolph or Frosty
Charlie Brown or The Grinch
The Nutcracker Ballet or the Rockettes
It’s A Wonderful Life or Miracle on 34th Street
A Christmas Story or Home Alone

Food and Drink
eggnog or hot cocoa
fruitcake or sugar cookies
candy canes or truffles

Santa Claus, Father Christmas, or St. Nick
Holiday Cards or E-cards
Shopping: Online or Store to Store

I'd like to wish you all Happy Holidays and best wishes for the New Year!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

This Couldn't Wait Until Monday

Are you a Laini Taylor fan? Are you sick of reading about my adoration of her writing? I realize that 5 of the last 11 of my posts have included something related to Laini but this is news I couldn't keep under my hat (if I actually wore hats).

Laini's recently released Young Adult novel, Daughter of Smoke and Bone has been optioned by Universal Pictures!

It's going to be a real live film! (squee!)

 Read all about it here on Laini's blog. If you're discovering Laini Taylor for the first time, here's an incentive to check out her incredible writing.

Also, a shout out to my friend Donna Weaver at Weaving a Tale or Two. She had her query critiqued at the QQQE by Matthew MacNish yesterday. I'm sure Donna would appreciate a visit and support for the query that she's polishing up.

And finally, something I heard on the radio last week. I'm a fan of Michael Smerconish's talk radio program and Wednesday he featured a member of the American Dialect Society. Every year since 1990 at their annual meeting in Portland, Oregan, they've chosen a "Word of the Year," a significant word that has been either introduced or has been important to (mainly) North American culture. Being a word lover, I'm curious as to what it will be this year.

Last year's word was App.
In 2009, the word of the year was "tweet."
Before that in 2008, "bailout."

As for 2011, I'm thinking maybe "occupy." Ideas, anyone?

And I know it's early, but who should play the part of Karou?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Yay vs. Nay

(Or another little glimpse at my thought process)

*clicks onto Laini Taylor’s blog*

Oh. My.
Ooooooh My! Want!

The following conversation with myself went something like this. Wait. You all have conversations with yourself, right? *ahem*

Yay: I really should promote this on the blog.
Nay: No, I most certainly should NOT!
Y: This is so freaking amazing! My literary friends would go gaga over these.
N: More friends equals less chances pour moi to win.
Y: Hmm. True, but even if I don’t win, I’ll rejoice with the lucky winner. Especially if it’s a bloggy buddy (bluggy? bloddy?)
N: Who am I kidding? I’ll pout, spout a few choice words at the monitor, and sulk some more. That graphic sampler...*sigh* *drool*
Y: Still...If I mention the you know what, it could draw more potential fans to Laini’s site. That would be cool.
N: EEK! 358 people have already entered!
Y: What’s a few more? I’ll do it!

Click to read about and enter Laini Taylor’s Big Fat Holiday Giveaway. The contest is open until midnight PST, Saturday, December 10. Many will enter, few will win. And just so you know, I am on a winning roll right now. The girl who never wins raffles (me), won a 3 month family membership to the Y at a fundraiser and a gift certificate to a local restaurant at our annual school Turkey Shoot Giveaway (too politically incorrect so we had to change the name). So, following the rule of 3, I’m due to win one more thing. I plan on sending my cosmic vibes out west to Oregon so that my name magnetically clings to Laini’s (or whoever draws the name) fingers. Just sayin’.

If you'd like to watch an interview from 2009 with Laini and her husband Jim (who magnificently illustrated Lips Touch Three Times), click here. It's not short - about 30 minutes - but it's an interesting conversation about writing, illustrating, their creative journey, and YA fiction. I could especially relate to what Laini spoke about at 15:30. Enjoy and have great weekend!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Who Wants Lemonade?

Or maybe this post should be titled, Life's Too Short. Either way, this post for the monthly *IWSP is oddly enough not about insecurity. Rather, it's about taking a sucky situation, examining it closely, turning it around, and choosing to move forward.

I’m not here to whine, complain or mope today. Instead I’m filled with a renewed hope and an appreciation for all things important in my life in my little corner of the world. I’m alive, I’m healthy, I have a great family, and friends who care about me. I have a warm home, plenty to eat, and clothes on my back. I have a job that suits my way of life perfectly.

I've known quite a few people and families who have suffered loss over the past couple of months: the death of a loved one - sometimes expected, sometimes sudden and tragic. Friends facing tough health issues. I've hugged my husband and kids a little tighter knowing how fortunate we are to have each other. I chose to put my writing aside while I grieved with these friends, helped my son apply to colleges, supported one of my daughters with a particular issue. All requiring my time. Precious writing time that was sacrificed to be present to those I love. Although I've missed writing, I don't regret one moment.

The grip of a grueling autumn is finally beginning to loosen its hold on me. The stress isn't as severe; though still tired, I feel lighter. Even though the holiday season is hectic, there’s joy in the air and the promise of fun days and sweet memories in the making. Have you felt it?

And while I, like everyone, have my insecure moments, I’m brimming with excitement over new ideas and hope that the next novel I work on will be something special. Sometimes all we seem to gather are extra large sour lemons. But more lemons means more lemonade to share with friends, right? [Ugh! Did I really use the "when life gives you lemons" cliche? I like mine with extra sugar, please.]

*For more info about the Insecure Writers Support Group, visit Alex J. Cavanaugh for details and a list of participants.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


I need to get the writing ball rolling again. So what do I do? Temporarily put my MG WiP on hold. I plan on returning to finish it after the new year. The reason?


Sort of sounds like the sound I'd make while spitting out burnt spinach. But what it really stands for is: Young Adult Paranormal Unnamed Novel Idea.

Ever since NaNoWriMo 2010 (which I did not come close to finishing, btw), I’ve had an outline and the first thousand words or so of a YA ghost story saved in my notebook. Heck, I even have a playlist for this potential novel! My intention was to finish Nitpicky and put it aside in 2011 before diving into this novel idea.

But a few things have changed this mindset. The first is the fact that I still haven't finished it and 2011 is coming to a close. The second came from listening to Laini Taylor speak about giving herself permission to put aside the ms that she had been writing to work on a new idea. This “cheat” novel eventually became the incredible, Daughter of Smoke and Bone. The third reason may seem cliché but has become very relevant to me over the past couple of months in my personal life: Life is too short. Why not seize the day with the idea I’m passionate about rather than putting it on hold?

And so I am going to explore YAPUNI and see where it takes me. It could very well fizzle out after a couple of chapters. But I won’t know until I try and it’s all I’ve been thinking about lately. My goal for this week is to flesh out my outline a bit and work on character development before I write. I feel strongly about structure this time around and so that will be my focus.

Hee! I’m excited to get started!

Do you have any new projects rattling around in your mind? What do you hope to finish before the end of year?