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Monday, December 17, 2012

Share with me some happy

After all the sadness of Friday (my prayers are constantly with these families!), and the death of my friend, I really need some happy. So I'm sharing with all of you my favorite Christmas story. *Smiley Face*




 I think I was four, my brother was about two and a half, and we were fostering a little girl at the time, Christina, who was eight. My mom said to me and Christina the evening before that we could open our presents as soon as we woke up

 That's probably not how she said it, but that's how I heard it. (A lesson in making sure your childen understand they don't mean it literally.) 

So what do you think happened when we woke up? I flew out of bed, straight for the present-piled tree downstairs. Christina, being the older wise one, tried to talk me out of it. 

I said, "No! She said as soon as we woke up!" 

See? That's how I heard it. 

I couldn't read at the time. I just remember grabbing gifts, wildly tearing away the paper not knowing who the present was meant for, saying "COOL!" everytime, and setting the gift aside, eager for another. Imagine the anger tornado that ensued when my parents woke up. To say it was not pretty was an understatement. I think I saw actual steam come out of my mother's ears. 

She tossed all the presents in a box and told us we were not having a Christmas, she was so heartbroken. Later, though, being the loving mother that she truly is (Hi, Mom:) she sat us down and redistributed every gift to its intended owner. I do remember being a little disappointed when some of the gifts I'd thought I was going to keep were not meant for me. But at least we still had our Christmas, and all was well in the end. 

Do you have any great Christmas stories?  
Share with me your happy.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A Too-Soon Goodbye and a FREE gift that could save your life



Trevor on the left, with his buddies
I’ve been quiet in the online social world this week. We lost a friend this week. His name was Trevor, he was two weeks older than me, a fabulous musician, warm-hearted, laid back, hilarious, and an all-around good guy. I don’t handle death well. Not that anyone does, but I guess you could say, I don’t handle it normally. I’m a firm believer in heaven, hell, and a loving God, but it’s still difficult for me to fathom a person being here one minute and the next, gone. It’s an issue my brain battles from time to time, so when I think about Trevor’s death, it’s hard to make my brain grasp that he’s just gone.

I don’t handle funerals well, either. I’ve been fortunate in that I can count the funerals I’ve been to on one hand, and this is the first time I’ve experienced a friend, someone our age, dying. And, again, not that anyone handles a funeral, but I get clammy, nervous. I’m uncomfortable. I can’t come within so many feet of an open casket. It doesn’t seem right saying goodbye to an unbreathing body with no soul. And you can feel it. When you’re there, bent over them, looking at the too-thick makeup, and their strangely molded hands folded over their middle, it’s just… not right. I don’t like it. I don’t know if anyone else shares this view, but I can’t help how I feel.

At Trevor’s service, his father stood and made a speech about how he was an early walker, bright, a good older brother, kind to everyone he met, and how that night he asked his dad if he could borrow something. His dad said “sure, come on over”. Trevor said, “Thanks, Pops. I’ll be there in twenty.” And never showed.

Our hearts are hurting, but what hurts the most is how preventable his death was.

Sunday night, Trevor lost control of his car in the rain and catapulted into a pond. He panicked, didn’t think to open a window right away before his car filled with water, and by the time he was fully submerged, he couldn’t open the door or break the glass. It took rescue workers an hour to get him out.

Hundreds of people a year die this way, and my husband and I want to do everything we can to make sure this never happens again. Below is a video, showing exactly how to get out of a car, should you find yourself submerged in water. ALSO, we are ordering glass break/seat belt cutting tools from Amazon and are giving these out FREE! If you do a search on Amazon, you’ll see several different brands. Here is the one we’re giving out. If you want one PLEASE CONTACT ME. We will buy and ship FREE. This is at NO COST to you. NO questions asked. (I'm fully aware that I sound like an infomercial right now.) We just want to make sure such a preventable death never happens again, as much as we can within our ability.

If you want to buy your own, PLEASE DO. If you want us to send you one, go to my CONTACT ME page, or email me your info directly at meganhandwrites@gmail.com. All I need is your name and address, and we’ll ship it out as soon as we get them in. You are NOT putting us out by asking for one. We want to help. Let us do that.

Thank you for reading. Prayers for his family are much appreciated, and please please watch the video below!




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Monday, December 3, 2012

Review: Skylark AND my Babyfaces Contribution

Goodreads Summary 
Sixteen-year-old Lark Ainsley has never seen the sky.

Her world ends at the edge of the vast domed barrier of energy enclosing all that’s left of humanity. For two hundred years the city has sustained this barrier by harvesting its children's innate magical energy when they reach adolescence. When it’s Lark’s turn to be harvested, she finds herself trapped in a nightmarish web of experiments and learns she is something out of legend itself: a Renewable, able to regenerate her own power after it’s been stripped.

Forced to flee the only home she knows to avoid life as a human battery, Lark must fight her way through the terrible wilderness beyond the edge of the world. With the city’s clockwork creations close on her heels and a strange wild boy stalking her in the countryside, she must move quickly if she is to have any hope of survival. She’s heard the stories that somewhere to the west are others like her, hidden in secret—but can she stay alive long enough to find them?


 ____________________


 Meagan Spooner’s Skylark was recommended to me by my very best reading friend, my sister, Anna. Aww, cheers, lovely sis. Anyhoo. I must say my sister and I have similar tastes that tend to bob and weave. Lately, I’ve leaned more toward the contemporary side of YA and NA, while she’s stayed strictly with the paranormal and dystopian YA. It makes me a little sad, because we’re reading primarily different books now, and haven’t been able to discuss a book together in quite some time.

*sad face*

So when she recommended Skylark to me, I was like Eh, okay. But, somewhere not so deep in my subconscious, I knew I was going to struggle with this book. And, let me tell you, it was not because of the writing – which was FANTABULOUS. No. It was the story.

Lark is a 16yo girl living in a city controlled by magic. At a certain age all the children are harvested for their magic – sacrificed to the city – and given an occupation. The end. But Lark is different. She’s a Renewable, an endless magical resource, and a promise of safety for her city’s future. However, becoming this energy source for her city will require an unimaginable sacrifice – she will become the city’s slave and live in constant pain.

When the story began, the first thing I noticed was the writing. Amazing. Truly. The author has a fluid way with words, creating a vibrant and grim picture of the current world. The world building was great. Once I was into the story, I didn’t feel lost or confused, including when Lark escapes the city. So it wasn’t that it was lackluster or boring, it just wasn’t what I was in the mood to read at the time. I passed this book over for others, and ended up finishing it over a span of several weeks – which I never do. Never.

When I finally did buckle in and decide I was going to finish it,  I was immediately drawn into the second half, reading wide-eyed and ignoring my child for periods of time because Holy Surprises, Batman!

My take on Lark – I liked her, didn’t love her. She did not come off as sixteen. She felt much younger and too innocent. I guess I can understand with how sheltered of a live she’s lived in her city, but I still thought she was a touch too innocent. The other characters were pretty wonderful. It’s hard to say much about them because they were all very background. The story mostly revolves around Lark and her experience. And there are betrayals I don’t want to give away by discussing the character’s, er, character.

In a nutshell, the story was wonderful. Anyone who likes magic will LOVE this book. Now that’s it’s over I can honestly say I did love it. I just wish I’d have loved it over a few days rather than weeks.

Favorite Quotes:

There was a rawness to his voice that cut me more than any anger would have. "I know," I said, keeping my gaze ahead of me, on the fractured surface of the water. "I'm sorry."
 
He had been so like an animal that first time I'd seen him. Then, I would have believed him to be a monster. The way he'd gazed at me, as the ghosts faded into mist around us, with such shock and such hunger, had shaken me to my core. The blood-stained face, the bestial grace. Why hadn't I remembered it later? Because he saved my life. Again and again. And because I learned, or thought I had learned, to see through the dispassionate exterior. Had I truly learned, or had he been growing more and more human, the longer he stayed in the aura of the my magic?


AND... Ready for it?

ME!



Trisha at WORDS + STUFF is hosting Baby Faces Blogfest:

  1. Between December 2nd and 3rd, post a pic of yourself as a baby, and/or;
  2. Tell us a story about when you were a baby (no doubt you can't quite remember it yourself, but you've probably heard some stories from other members of your family).
You can choose to do one or the other or both, depending on your mood on the day(s). ;)

 Here's my story. I actually had to call my mom this morning because I couldn't remember any baby stories of facts about myself. I do, however, remember using this picture for a 2nd grade contest. It was a last-to-be-picked kind of thing. And I won. Because everyone thought I was a boy, haha! 

My mom said I was a very independent baby, toddle, and child. That does not surprise me as I am a bit too independent as an adult. She said when I was 18months, she went away for a weekend retreat. When she returned, I turned my nose up at her, ignored her, and would not look at her for TWO DAYS! Wow, that's some determination.

I'll be posting my favorite Christmas in the next week or so. Think about your favorite Christmas story. I wanna hear!


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Once a loser


Me and my current manuscript

Always a loser, right?

When I was a kid, I was never a loser. I was always beautiful. Always successful. Always great. Always a winner. Because my momma said so. Those other kids be damned.

Now that I’m an adult, I have to bandage my own boo-boos, make my own insurance calls, clean up my own messes… Okay, who am I kidding? I always did that. Either way, I have no one now but my little ole self to stare down in the mirror. Chin up, shoulders back, head high, you’re a winner. A winner, I tell ya!

Not according to NaNo…

And I wasn’t just any kind of loser this year. I was a giant, roley-poley one. But I was no couch potato, I assure you. With a nearly full-time piano teaching job, teaching my pre-K music class, and taking care of a toddler, my life is pretty full. Then add on the reading, piano practicing, and writing requirements, and my life is an old stuffed suitcase popping apart at the seams. It’s overwhelming. Not that anyone else’s life isn’t. I know we (speaking mostly to you women ;) are constantly overwhelmed with the duties of life, whether you work and raise kids, or just do the kiddo-raising, it’s hard. Like really freaking hard! To have to add to that is just insanity, right?

Me and my current life
I don’t care. I see all you beautiful author people, having your babies, maybe working regular jobs, and making it happen. I know I’ll get there, too. I’ve just come to realize that this year isn’t my WINNER year. For NaNo, that is. Maybe next year, when my kiddo is in pre-school, I’ll have some longer chunks of time. The important things to me right now are: raising my son, making sure he’s happy, making sure our relationship is strong, teaching my kids and doing a darn good job of it. Anything extra has to be relegated to the bottom of the pile. For now. I am content with knowing that this won’t always be my life. My son will grow up, he’ll go to school, maybe (hopefully) I’ll be able to teach a little less, free up some more time. I know my shining moment will come, and someday I plan on earning that NaNo WINNER badge. But not this year, and I’m absolutely fine with that.

But now that I am a loser, I do have one beef with NaNo. I admit, before this year, I never actively participated in NaNo. I only heard about it a couple years ago, and had just finished a novel that March, and was not in the position to start a new one in November with my son being a baby at the time. But now that I’ve participated, I’m wondering – who the hell thought to have it in November?! Seriously!

During the mid-point of holiday/cold and flu season? Really?!

I know this wasn’t an issue for so many of you, because I’ve seen around the blogosphere there are a LOT of WINNERS out there, and GO YOU!! But, seriously, NaNo people, you could’ve picked a way better month. Like January. Everyone hates January. The post-holiday blues. That cranky winter thing that keeps us inside. Many great reasons to have it in January. Or February. Or March. But during the middle of the holiday season? Okay. I’m done.

To all of you NaNo WINNERS, CONGRATS! I am so proud of you. Right now, I’m just damn proud of myself that I’m writing consistently and not falling apart, lol.

That’s my life.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Accidentally On Purpose



 Goodreads Summary
Emmy thinks her boss Kyle Sterling of Sterling Corporations is a jerk.

So, she sleeps with him.

Emmy tries to put the mistake behind her, but then finds herself snowed in with Kyle. As the snow builds, so does the heat in the house between the two. The problem is that Kyle has a steady girlfriend that he is unwilling to break up with. Emmy cuts Kyle off and starts dating Luke. Even as their relationship takes off, Emmy is finding Kyle hard to shake. He is blatant in his feelings and desires for Emmy, putting her in an awkward situation. She tries hard to resist Kyle, but deep down inside Emmy's motives are shady. When Emmy succumbs to her hidden feelings for Kyle without setting Luke free, devastating consequences ensue.

In addition to her two men, Emmy daydreams about doing violent things to her loud mouthed, opinionated mother.

With some humor and sarcasm, and of course, some tequila, Emmy's world will flip upside down as she deals with the results of "accidentally on purpose" falling for two men at once.


 _____________________


Oh. Wow. First, I must say, I have read books about cheating before, and they usually leave me with a bad taste in my mouth, yet I can’t seem to stay away from them. I’m a glutton for punishment, I guess. But when I read Bookaholic’s review of this book, I was very intrigued and big-ole-glutton me had to check it out. I had a feeling I’d be in for a rollercoaster, but I also thought it would be a quick and fun, light romance about a girl and guy that just couldn’t stay away from each other, despite not wanting to let go of their current relationships.

I was right and wrong.

Rollercoaster, it was. Fun, light, handsy, hot romance it was not. Well, except for the handsy, hot part. This story was far more serious that I expected, and to give an apt description as to how I felt, I’ll say this:  Accidentally On Purpose took a hammer to my glass heart and had me on my knees happily taking my time, picking up the shattered pieces. I have read a lot of books, but none that so precisely describe the addictive duality of pleasure and pain. I took it all in the gut, the pleasure and the pain, and gleefully asked for more.

Emmy was a spunky, sure woman. I loved her from the start. Especially her no-holds-barred mouth with her boss. Her antagonistic relationship with her mother was… familiar. I would bust out laughing during their phone conversations. Kyle was really fun and sexy. To start. My opinion of him ping-ponged throughout the novel, and rightfully so.

Luke. I fell in love with Luke the moment I met him. And I actually felt like I met him. And I wish I could meet him again… Down, girl. Okay. I’m back.

The story definitely had its moments where I was going bu-bu-but I want this and this and this to happen. But as a whole, it was so wonderfully spun, I can’t imagine it going any other way. And usually these types of stories have me screaming in frustration, pulling my hair out when the characters act like complete idiots because they are completely blind to the disastrous consequences barreling their way.

Accidentally On Purpose was also mature beyond my expectations and spans quite a bit of time, which I really liked. It dealt with a few heavy issues that I can't get into, because I don't want to give anything away. But I felt these situations and the aftermath were very realistic and handled with grace. The amount of time the novel spans, gave us a true sense for the characters, and we got to see the growth of the characters over time, not just their immediate actions and reactions. I don’t usually do this – compare story with story – but this story, with its longer lapse of time and maturity and emotional growth of the characters, reminded me of On the Island. I absolutely adored that book, and already feel like I adore this one just as much.

Thank you, L.D. Davis for such a beautiful, truthful, and pleasantly painful story. I have a feeling I will find myself reading this one again. Soon.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

How I fell in love with a villain



I read Tahereh Mafi's Shatter Me at the end of last year in almost one sitting. I was thirty pages from the end when we had to go to a New Year’s Eve party. We went, I socialized for an appropriate amount of time, then I snuck (I like this word way better than sneaked) away, and it hit my one-hundred and oneth book for the year just before the ball dropped.

Shatter Me was unlike anything I had ever read – a girl that can kill with just a touch. But it wasn’t necessarily the premise that was so different and captivating. It was Mafi’s writing style. Wow. She certainly knew how to keep a person chained to the couch!

I expected equal awesomeness from her follow-up, Destroy Me. What I didn’t expect was for it to be in Warner, the villain’s, voice. So, because of the unique circumstances, I checked in with My Heart to make sure we were still on the same page.

Me: *knocks on door*

Heart: *opens door, glances around wildly* Yeah?

Me: I just wanted to, uh, make sure we’re good.

Heart: Yeah. We’re good.   She says it in a rush *door starts to close*

Me: *puts hand in doorway; pinched brow tries to convey gravity of situation* He’s a villain. Understand? We hate him. Okay?

Heart: *nods like a druggie trying to convince a cop she’s clean* Course. Sure. Uh-huh.

Me: *suspiciously tries to peer inside*

Heart: *narrows opening; only her head is visible* Well, thanks for stopping by. I really gotta go. You know all the pumping and feeling things, don’t wanna get behind. *slams door in my face*

Me: *shrugs, turns, nods to herself* She gets it. *walks away, oblivious*

Heart: *leans against closed door inside; wipes sweat from brow* I think she’s on to me.

Goodreads Summary
 In Tahereh Mafi’s Shatter Me, Juliette escaped from The Reestablishment by seducing Warner—and then putting a bullet in his shoulder. But as she’ll learn in Destroy Me, Warner is not that easy to get rid of. . .

Back at the base and recovering from his near-fatal wound, Warner must do everything in his power to keep his soldiers in check and suppress any mention of a rebellion in the sector. Still as obsessed with Juliette as ever, his first priority is to find her, bring her back, and dispose of Adam and Kenji, the two traitors who helped her escape. But when Warner’s father, The Supreme Commander of The Reestablishment, arrives to correct his son’s mistakes, it’s clear that he has much different plans for Juliette. Plans Warner simply cannot allow.

Set after Shatter Me and before its forthcoming sequel, Unravel Me, Destroy Me is a novella told from the perspective of Warner, the ruthless leader of Sector 45.

_______________

Destory Me was unlike anything I have ever read. A middle novel in the voice of the villain. The wha? The villain. We’re taught to hate him throughout the first novel. He’s evil. He wants bad things for Julliette, and he wants to do bad things to her. So we thought. Then Mafi takes our preconceived notions by the nostrils and shoves them facedown.

And I gotta say – GENIUS!

Warner is still everything he was, but now we get a look inside his head, and holy crap there’s a LOT we don’t know. What an amazingly rare experience, to be front-row-center to a villain’s inner sanctum. We get glimpses into his past, stomach-churning moments with his monster villain of a father. We see why Warner is the way he is, what made him, what keeps him, his actual plans for Julliette, his true reasons for barging into her life, and his undeniable – and strangely beautiful – feelings for her. We get it all. And Mafi’s writing is just as mesmerizing as I remember, even in another voice.

Maybe some of you have read books like this. I’ll honestly say that I can’t remember. My memory is worse than a flea’s. Take a flea’s brain, cut it into eight equal pie pieces, flick all but one of those pieces away, and you have my memory. If there are other books like this, TELL ME. This is such a cool concept. Now my expectations for the next books are all tangled up. I have no idea who I’m going to favor more, but Destroy Me has definitely leveled the playing field. It’s anyone’s game now.

Destroy Me is a novella, and is out as a digital copy for $2.99. Worth the buy! It’s labeled as book 1.5 and will leave you salivating for the next installment. Thankfully, Unravel Me is due out February 5th, YAY!

Favorite Lines:

“I, like the rest of the puppets in this world, am entirely subservient to my father’s will. It’s a truth I’m forced to contend with every day: that I’ve never been able to stand up to the man who has his fist clenched around my spine.”

“Empathy is not an emotion I’ve ever known, but now it’s drowning me, pulling me into a world I never knew I could enter. And though I’ve always believed she and I shared many things in common, I did not know how deeply I could feel it. It’s killing me.”


HAPPY PRE-TURKEY DAY, EVERYONE! 
Have a safe and wonderful and food-filled holiday tomorrow :)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Rouge by Leigh Talbert Moore



When Leigh first told me about her book, I was… not disappointed, but I certainly didn’t expect it – a Cabaret Theater novel set in the 1890s. I thought, Okay. I’ll read it. Someday soon. Then I kept seeing updates for it. The cover. The synopsis. Her excitement for the release. At the time, I was only about 15,000 words behind my NaNo goal – having a two year old will do that – and I had already blasted to bits my personal promise of no TV and books. This book was really starting to intrigue me, and I was feeling particularly antsy that night, so I purchased it and started it right away. And spent the next two days swept away (still ticking away at that NaNo goal, so I couldn’t completely immerse myself). 

If I didn’t expect the summary, the novel pushed my expectations over the edge. It pierced my heart with a fishhook and tugged and tugged and tugged until my ribs cracked under the pressure. So here I am, with my displaced heart, and a knot in my stomach, swelling by the page, and then – She did what? He did what? They did WHAT?


Goodreads Summary
Trapped in the underground theater world of 1890s New Orleans, Hale Ferrer has only one goal: escape. But not without Teeny, the orphan-girl she rescued from the streets and promised to protect.

Freddie Lovel, Hale's wealthy Parisian suitor, seems to be the easy solution. If only his touch could arouse her interest like Beau's, the penniless stagehand who captures her heart.

Denying her fears, Hale is poised to choose love until an evil lurking in their cabaret-home launches a chain of events that could cost her everything.

                                         


I loved Hale. She was loving and generous and only slightly hardened by her upbringing. Other souls would’ve been more so, but she was a soft-tough cookie. And her motherly love for Teeny, while she was only seventeen herself, was so real. I felt it. Her emotions were so strong and THERE that I experienced them with her.

Beau… What can I say about Beau? He was beautiful, soft, manly, wonderful. Heroic, protective, and strangely impulsive yet patient. Some of his actions shocked me, but they humanized him, and he redeems himself.

Leigh really had a way with her secondary characters, as well. I wanted to be courted by Freddie, mother Teeny, and accept the shadow of Roland’s protective wing. Teeny – I wanted more of her. She was the typical semi-selfish twelve year old, but bright and good to the core. She broke my heart. Roland was a great friend to Hale, and – as a fellow pianist who’s never smoked a cigarette – I loved his ultra-confidence, and could picture perfectly him going at the piano with those big man hands, a burned down cigarette glowing from the corner of his mouth. Even Evie cracked my heart a little.

And the evil that lurked beneath the surface threw me. Leigh makes some bold choices in her story, but I can kind of see Hale pulling the strings and telling her, It has to be this way. I can relate to that – the character making a choice you wouldn’t even consider.

Overall, this was a wonderful novel. Set in the 1890s with the pace of a contemporary story, meaning there weren’t gobs of paragraphs of historical background/setting descriptions. I felt this fast paced life in my bones as I read it, could smell the cigarette smoke and all of Freddie's beautiful red roses. I could feel the rosin crackling beneath my feet. Leigh painted a world with just enough words to bring the scenes to life, perfectly showing how this time in New Orleans was vivid, wild, changing, and unpredictable, while hurrying us along with the characters. Be warned, this is the first of a series, and will leave you wanting oh so much more.

I am looking forward to the oh so much more…

Saturday, November 17, 2012

What the fudge?!

Sorry, Melanie, I stole your picture. It IS hilarious!
Yes. I went to see the new Twilight movie last night. I am not ashamed. In fact, I'm not ashamed to admit that I LOVE all the books and have read them several times. Melanie from Daydream to Writer was just saying yesterday that it's sad that, as Twilight lovers, we for some reason feel embarrassed now to admit we love the books/movies. I agree. It is sad. Partly because the biggest reason people hate on them is they're so popular and it's become "cool", like going all black-lipped Goth or walking with a limp-swag just because you have to sag those jeans halfway down your rear. I'm not campaigning for everyone to love them. I just think it's silly to feel shunned or not taken seriously for loving them.

At the start of one of my college classes one quarter, we were introducing ourselves and giving the class a Fun Fact. This girl introduced herself and her Fun Fact was that she loved 'such and such' books and couldn't stand Twilight. I brushed it off, even though she said it with such naive attitude. But she kept referring to it during random class activities. So I asked her once, "Why don't you like Twilight?" She looked at me blankly, and I asked, "Have you ever read them?" Her stunned face turned a little red. "Um, no."

SERIOUSLY?

"BUT," she huffed on. "I've had many friends read them and say they're terrible."
  
Mmmhmm. Everything she said from that day forward, I never took her seriously. 

So. The movie. Now my undying love for the books has no bearing on the cheesy productions that are the films. This is my opinion, maybe some of you will share it, maybe not. The first movie was a complete travesty. The others have gotten better, but they still have the quality of a TV movie. Oh well. I've long since accepted it, and I still go to the openings every year, because I love partaking in it, and even with the lack of quality, I've loved seeing these beloved characters in the flesh, with all the smoke and mirrors of incredible CGI. (First movie, not so incredible.)

And for Breaking Dawn, I was going into it a little antsier and more hyper than normal, because they'd been blasting all over TV there was going to be a TWIST. What was this twist going to be? Well, first, I can say the movie went as expected to start. Glorious cheese, but fun to watch. Then the TWIST.

WHAT. THE. FUDGE! And my sister and I almost walked out of the theater ten different times. I was MAD, and screaming in my head "THEY HAVE MURDERED HER BOOK!" But we did not leave. We stuck it out. And it was worth it. I can't spoil it, but... No. Can't spoil it. I will say, though, I cried in those last sixty seconds. In a good way. This series of movies I was forced to keep such low expectations for actually had one of the most beautiful last minutes of a movie I've ever seen. It was perfect. The music was perfect. The characters - for that one minute, lol - were perfect. And all was right with the world.

If you're going to watch it, prepare yourself. DON'T LEAVE! Be patient and you will be rewarded. And I'm sure anyone who's interested has already seen the trailer, but here it is. Now, in the words of my brilliant sister (I almost snorted Root Beer when she said this to me last night) - Let's go sparkle together.


Friday, November 9, 2012

The matterings of life

Today is my birthday.

I am 32.
Wait. (Papers rustling.)
Oh, right. (chuckles.)
I read the Birth Certificate wrong.
Ahem... I'm 25.

Anyway, it's my birthday, and I don't know what you do for your birthday, but every year is different for me. For the past few years, I've enjoyed my once-a-year club crawl while only feeling a smidge older than the usual 18-21 crowd, shaking what my momma gave me, and drinking till I puked just to prove I could. And, yes, I always regretted it in the morning. This year, not so much. And not because I feel older. I'm not sure "older" will ever enter my feelings file. I think I'll always feel like a twenty-three year old with the delightfully obnoxious immaturity of a tween.

This year, I'm doing the quiet thing. Where the friends gather, we hover in a tight circle around the cake, my eyes tear as I breathe in their love for me, and just before the candle inferno becomes a billowing tuft of smoke, I make the wish.

This wish is usually selfish, a me wish. And even though - you may have noticed - I tend toward the emotional, I can still be pretty selfish. I've long ago given up trying to change myself, and I'm okay with it. If you're a writer, too, then you understand what a lonely process it can be. Stuffing yourself away for hours, sometimes days at a time, neglecting what really matters in our lives - the people. And, I guess, even if no other life lessons have bit me in the butt, I'm starting to realize just how BIG this one is.

I've always been a family girl. Growing up in a gargantuan family is no easy feat. It's noisy, messy, unorganized, but crazy fun and, hopefully, so full of love you don't know what to do with it all. I've known this forever, but it doesn't mean that I appreciate it all the time. But, for some stupid life-questioning reason, the "older" I get, the more I begin to think that though my life is full of all these crazy wonderful possibilities, opportunities, goals, and dreams, it's all truly about the people. I can think deep thoughts for the rest of my life, wonder endlessly about my purpose, write ten thousand books, read ten times as many, but if  I don't have the people, all of those pretty thoughts, goals, and dreams become null and void.

So, tonight I'll enjoy my rump-shaking hiatus, make my me wish, but most importantly, soak up the blinks of time I get to spend with ones I love. And in honor of my Rockin' Awesome B-Day, and since I've been reading the ever-deep and profound Mr. Nepo, I'm including another quote from Awakening:

Singing from the peak isn't quite the same as whispering in the center of a circle that has carried you ashore. Honest friends are doorways to our souls, and loving friends are the grasses that soften the world. It is no mistake that the German root of the word friendship means "place of high safety"... There can be no greater or simpler ambition than to be a friend.

 


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What inspires you?

Since this blog is relatively new, I am biting my lips and hem-hawing on what I really want to do with it. I follow a lot of book blogs, but I am a writer, so while I love reviewing books, and my beloved indie movies, my main focus is going to be on writing, dreams, inspiration, etc...

I know we all get our inspiration from anywhere and everywhere. I do. I've heard a lot of people get inspired in the shower. I totally do that. I think it's because we actually have a moment where we're forced to be stationary, and our brains begin to wander.

The novel I'm working on for NaNo is the antithesis of my last book. Where my last story was mostly action and took place over the course of two days, this next project is a love story brought about by tragedy and spans the course of over a year. It's a much softer, quieter story, and requires me to be in a different state of mind.

To get me into this state of mind, every time I sit down to write, I read an excerpt from Mark Nepo's The Book of Awakening.

This book is one of the most beautiful things I have ever read. It's not a novel. It's a collection of insightful passages on just about everything. I truly can't even fathom how this man came up with this many. Each and every passage is deep and wonderful. Most of them bring me to tears. They manage to pluck those heartstrings way in the back that no one else can reach.

I found this book when my husband and I were on vacation, perusing the nearest Barnes and Noble. I picked it up, started reading, and the room faded away. I was alone, and his words spun around me, clutching, prodding, piercing. When I came back to myself, I looked at my husband, wide-eyed, and said, "I'm getting this."



Excerpt: 

Before we blink, we know each other.

We speak before we speak, with eyes and lips, in how we tip our heads, in how we lean like trees tired of waiting for the sun... We pretend we are strangers and deny what we learn before words.
We are all made up of yearning and light... This is enough to begin... That we want to be held and left alone, again and again; held and left alone until the dance of it is how we survive and grow, like spring into winter into spring again.



At the end of each passage is a small list of things to think on or mental exercises to get us to that peaceful place. I find I don't usually need the list. The words are enough to get me there.

Do you have a book or passage that helps put you where you need to be before you write? 
Share with me! 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Movie Monday - Dakota Skye



I’m back today with my Indie Movie spot, and am happy to report that – so far – Mr. Netflix and I have been getting along. (Read about our reunion here.) It’s been mostly peaches and roses… do those go together? Either way, I see a bright future for us. Let’s hope. I tend toward the optimistic.

Today, I’m introducing you all to Dakota Skye.

Summary (from IMDB)
For as long as she could remember, Dakota Skye has been cursed with a super power. She has the ability to see the truth in any lie she hears. From small, harmless white lies, to the more devious kind, they have come from the people that she should trust the most; her family, friends and teachers. These lies have snowballed, leading to her becoming bitter and apathetic towards the world around her. Now seventeen, Dakota just watches the world happen around her, unmotivated to join it. She has a boyfriend who plays in a semi-popular local rock band and her best friend from childhood, but finds little joy in her own life. One day, Jonah comes into town. It only takes a few days before Dakota notices something about him that sets him apart from the other people in her life. He doesn't lie.

Through her friendship with Jonah, her eyes are opened to the world around her and she sees that there is something out there more than all the lies. There is a possibility of something different... something better. If only he wasn't her boyfriend's best friend. Now she must make a choice. Can she go back to the apathy that has dictated her life, ignoring something potentially amazing? Can she take the leap into the unknown with Jonah, ignoring all the repercussions that may come from that decision? Is he really the person that she thinks he is and wants him to be? The only thing that becomes clear is that Dakota can no longer be a spectator in her own life. She has to look at her life as it was, is and could be and make a choice for the first time.

 ______________________


I had no expectations going into this film. The opening didn’t promise big things. The main character was a pretty good actress, and the narrative of her “talent” was funny enough. Her friends were atrocious actors, but I could overlook them. The boyfriend, however, with his dirty mullet, goofy rocker-wannabe attitude, and narcissistic view of himself was bwaha funny.

Examples of Dakota’s narrative went like this:

Dakota and her boyfriend are bowling and Dakota says, “I suck.” Boyfriend says, “Nah, babe, you’re not that bad.” To which the caption underneath him (the non-lie) says, “Yeah, you suck.”


True to the Indie style, the scenes were a bit lacking with emotion sometimes, and the transitions felt like they’d been pasted together by a Kindergartner… Until Jonah.

I fell in love with Jonah.

Which is saying a lot. Because his first impression didn’t leave me impressed. I don’t like to think of myself as a shallow girl, I fall in love with personalities not looks. But when it comes to Movie Stars, I like to be impressed. If I’m not, I shallowly admit, I won’t stay engaged. And when he made his grand entrance, twenty minutes into the movie, I didn’t even know he was going to be the male heroine. I felt nothing.

Then he makes THE DECLARATION. The I-can’t-get-you-outa-my-head speech. The I-know-you're-with-him and even-though-he’s-my-best-friend, dump-him-and-come-be-with-me speech. And, darn it all, I’m a sucker for that crap. So I was all Oh, Jonah after that.

He and Dakota have several scenes of alone time where he shares his deepest thoughts and life questions with her. What surprises Dakota is – dun dun dun DUN – he’s not lying to her.

*Gasp* What? SOULMATE!

If only it were that simple.

Why? Because Dakota has a boyfriend, duh. So, because Dakota has this loser boyfriend, she and Jonah can’t be together, really? I guess, but come on. With this useless barrier in their way, they of course have to hide their budding relationship, and decide to give themselves one day. One day of passion, of pretending that no one has a boyfriend, that no one has to leave (Jonah’s from New York, and, forgetful me, I can’t remember where Dakota’s from, but let’s just say it was way far away). I have to say, though, that one day of passion was bee-you-tee-full. It got my heart pumpin’. And it was mostly innocent. They didn’t even cross that line.

Oh, Jonah… sigh.

Overall, this movie was too stinkin’ cute for words. The characters surprised me with their depth as much as the no-namer actors surprised me with their skill. Dakota was funny, sincere, and it was interesting and somewhat heartbreaking to watch how she dealt with her “talent”. I would absolutely hate to know every time I was being lied to. I would definitely become even more jaded than Dakota was. It would wear on me as it did her, and she portrays that well. We even get to see her grow up a little, despite the unrealistic (or maybe too realistic) complete lack of a mother in the film. This movie left me feeling warm and fuzzy, just as I hadn’t dared hope when I started it.

And it ends exactly as it should, but shh, I’m not telling. Go watch for yourself :)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Lengths

A day late, but here as promised!

Okay. Let me be a girl for just a second… Oh man, oh man, ohmanohmanohman.
Alright. Got that out of my system.


First, I need to give a shout out to Steph Campbell and Liz Reinhardt. I’ve read other books of theirs, and LOVED them. So please check them out. They are bow-worthy writers in this amazingly rich Indie industry. Second, I must thank them for this Absolute Piece of Genius, I believe this book to be.

Alright, enough groveling.

Amazon Summary
Nineteen-year-old Whit Conrad leaves her conservative Pennsylvania home for sunny California, looking for independence, a fresh start, and a place to stash her grief. She promptly finds a job at a tattoo parlor, a craptastic first apartment, and one friend—Ryan—who is a little less friend, a little more benefits.

Deo Beckett is a soulful surfer with a passion for tattoos and beautiful women. On the eve of his twenty-second birthday, he finds himself living with his grandfather, recently unemployed, and seriously adrift. He doesn’t know much about what he wants out of life, but he does know his current situation isn't cutting it.

When Deo meets Whit, she’s all sexy makeup and fierce, smart-ass fun. It doesn’t take him long to see past her tough shell. And when he gets a good look at what's under all the superficial stuff that usually gets his attention, it leaves Deo wondering if there might be more to life than living fast and free.

Too bad Whit has a past she doesn't plan on sharing—no matter how hot Deo is. She might want him, but she knows better than to let her guard down.

Deo falls for Whit, and falls hard. But everything about her, down to that mysterious tattoo and the way she thrashes in her sleep, tells him that the girl he loves is hiding something. And the more he pushes for answers, the more Whit pulls away.

Having your guard up is one thing, but are the lengths Whit goes to to protect her secret worth throwing away the second chance she has at happiness with Deo?



Hummuna hummuna… Hummuna.

From the get-go, Lengths had me, but it wasn’t like a kick-in-the-stomach or a vise-to-the-heart kind of had me, it was more like a hot sexy bug crawling up my leg, burrowing into my skin, eating its way to my brain… Okay, maybe this direction isn’t so appealing. Simply put, it was a slow burn, but like on a California brush fire scale. This book was H-O-T. HOT! And the best part was, the intimate stuff didn’t come until about halfway through the story.

Deo. Sigh. He could be put into words, but I’d much rather pinch his rock-hard surfing non-existent love handles. He was juicy. Aside from that, he was sweet, real, and honest to a hilarious fault. His huge blunders only managed to make him more lovable, and the lengths (get it? ha) he goes through for Whit are seriously love-him-for-life material.

            One of Deo’s best lines:
                       
            Whit looks like an angel when she sleeps. She’s all sweet, full lips, long, curly eyelashes, and a tumble of sleek, dark hair against the pillow.
          She also kicks like a mule, snores like a bear, sweats like a hog, and steals the covers like a fat, menacing caterpillar about to cocoon herself before her metamorphosis.


Bwahahahaha! I think I almost peed my pants when I read this line.

Whit was a strange blend of controlled and crazy, but also severely broken, vulnerable, and more guarded than the President of the United States walking into an open ring of terrorists. This girl had it all when it came to issues. Yet she also had this inner glow that only Deo managed to coax out. I have to say, though, when her secret finally came out, I did feel like I’d gotten a Whit-sized stiletto to the gut.

I loved her. I loved him. And nearly every supporting character had the ability to make me bust out laughing or glaze my eyes with tears. From the slightly nutty/hippy mother, to the crotchety but endearing grandfather to the calm, cool, eclectic tattoo artist to the loyal and sincere best friend, I fell for them all. Such a rare quality in a supporting cast.

I couldn’t really tell you how the pacing was, because the story was so scrumptiously good, I found myself rereading whole paragraphs over and over, so it took me a little longer to read this one than it should have, but I enjoyed every little delectable word, period, comma, quotation mark… I can only imagine how much fun these two authors had writing this thing. It must’ve included many caffeine-induced slaphappy all-nighters of email tag and digital high-fives.

Clearly, I loved this story.
And just so everyone knows, it is a Contemporary New Adult Romance (I love that New Adult is becoming a category!).

Score: Can you give a story 5+ stars? It’s my review so I can do whatever I want ;)
Level of enjoyment: The answer is obvious.
Recommend to friends: Um, hello… Whoever has eyes (and by that, I mean eyes for Deo), should read this.
Will I read it again: Okay, have you seen When Harry Met Sally? If you haven’t, youtube the restaurant scene. I think that sums it up.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

TODAY!

Today is THE day
Don't delay
Shout HOOray
For toDAY,
'Cause toDAY
Is THE day
I must say
I can't sway,
I can't stray,
I can't eat a partfait,
For toDAY is the day,
Yes, today is THE day!





Okay, so I'm no Dr. Seuss, but I couldn't help but put together a little NaNo Jingle. My project this year is something I've been working on for too long. Have written it too too many times. While I'm anxious to dive back into these character's world, I am also anxious to get this story off my plate so I can burrow into my other way super-hip and awesome, fun, cool stories. Like totally.

So... Dun-dun-dun-DUN! 10, 9, 8... Cue opening shot - AND I'M OFF! To a faraway land called my early twenties. Ah, yes, I remember what that was like when my - oh, right. Supposed to be writing.

Stop back tomorrow - I'll be posting a really fun review for Steph Campbell's and Liz Reinhardt's  Lengths!

Share with me! What are your projects this year?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Movie Monday- Listen To Your Heart

Netflix, Netflix, wherefore art thou, Netflix…


Netflix and I endured a long-suffering battle that ended faux-tearily in what I thought would be a permanent separation. It was annoying to have to turn on the Xbox to use it, the movie selection at the time was poor, the search engine sucked, oh the woes of the First World... (If you haven't read these, they're hilarious.)

For too long, Mr. Netflix and I wafted, teetered on the brink of divorce, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Then they raised their prices, split the services down the middle, and Redbox became the reigning Convenience Champion of Movie Nation. So, I shouted: Good riddance eight-ninety-nine piece of crap, don’t let your ass bump my ‘cancelled account’ email on the way out! I breathed a sigh of relief, dusted my hands off on my jeans, and stomped over to the sink to do the dishes. Cable sucks, but so what? I didn’t need TV, and I didn’t need Netflix. But when our TV broke down and his bright red, well-designed outline-fonted button glowed at me from the remote of our new LED 3D TV, I couldn’t look away. We, he and I, were stuck there, momentarily locked with our histories reeling past our eyes, and I felt weak.

But it was short-lived. I fisted my hands, set the remote on the coffee table, gritted my teeth, and walked away. Again. Then the wooing began. A draw of my eye toward his pop of color on our black remote. The hush of his whisper in my conscience with that unmistakable air of seduction.

Mr. Netflix: Give me another chance. I've changed. I have so much to offer. (Like I haven't heard that one before.)

Me: Not from what I remember. (Damn straight.)

Mr. Netflix: You haven’t seen me in so long, how do you know? Check out my new sexy interactive menu. You won’t even recognize me.

Me: I don’t think so, Mr. Netflix. We tried this before, and I gave it my all. It. Didn’t. Work!

I really thought I had him with that. I barreled through. I was strong. But Mr. Netflix did not come to the table unprepared.

Mr. Netflix: But it’s one month free. How can a beautiful, beautiful woman like yourself turn down FREE?

Me: (blushing) Mr. Netflix, please. I’m married. But…

Whoa, whoa, whoa!
Okay, if you’re thinking I fell for that double beautiful comment, you’d be wrong. But another weekend of absolutely nothing on cable totally did me in. I caved, rejoined, and my oh my, Mr. Netflix, you were not kidding. Your new sexy interactive menu is so full of promise, choice, and endless hours of adding fun-looking and inspirational indie movies to my Instant Queue….

Which brings me to my choice of the day.


This little gem would not have found its way to me if it weren’t for Mr. Neflix and my joyous reunion.

Synopsis (from IMDB)
Danny (Kent Moran) has an apartment as small as his paychecks, no family, and a struggling music career. But with unwavering optimism, for Danny, "every day is a great day to be alive." It's love at first sight when Danny meets Ariana (Alexia Rasmussen), a wealthy hearing-impaired girl from Greenwich, CT who tragically cannot hear the music she inspires him to write. Ariana is torn between hanging onto the shelter her controlling mother (Cybill Shepherd) provides and fighting for a love that, if just given the chance, might just change her life. When tragedy strikes, determined that nothing can keep them apart, they must trust in the power of their love, and together discover just how important it is to "listen to your heart."

WARNING: SUBTLE SPOILERS.

My first impression of the movie was that it was low budget, maybe less than stellar acting, but duh, I knew what I was getting into when I started it. Other than that, I was very drawn in by the opening song, where the main character (a musician) is singing one of his compositions, and I have to say, I was captivated. And being a late-bloomed addict of ABC Family’s SwitchedAt Birth, Ariana’s disability was a pull to me even before I hit play. (I’ve become only a little hyper-obsessed with signing. I may fake having a deaf friend just so I can have an excuse to take ASL, because I think it’s such a neat and beautiful language.)

Danny and Ariana’s first meet was all eyes. Obviously love at first sight, but so cute, I couldn’t fault them using this tactic for the movie. It felt real to me. Cybill Shephard is perfetto! in her role as Ariana’s controlling, manipulative, heinous wench of a mother, and to see Ariana rise above, not only her disability, but her thousand pound weight of a mother was truly applause-worthy. I literally wanted to stand up off my couch, eyes glazed with tears, and shout WOOHOO at the top of my lungs.

I rooted for these two the whole time, and Kent Moran was pure man-candy to ogle, a bonus. Their story kept me glued, riveted, and feel-good woozy with secondhand love… Right up until the end. I won’t divulge top-secret stuff, but I will outright say that the ending went too far for me. Well, that, and they basically stuffed every clich├ęd, heart-wrenching dialogue into one movie. Danny to Ariana: “Not everyone gets to say they’ve found the love of their lives.” Danny to his best friend: “You know, man, I’ve never had a brother.” Things like that, that really should be touching, but because we’ve seen them so. many. times, they’re kind of nauseating. If they would’ve weeded those out, or perhaps made them slightly more creative and less recognizable, and stopped it about a half hour sooner, LISTEN TO YOUR HEART would’ve received 5 GIANT SMOOCHES from me! But they didn’t, so they get 4. And a half. And maybe another quarter.

(Sigh…)

I really did enjoy this movie, and ended up watching it again a few days later with my mom, because I knew she’d enjoy it. It’s about becoming a champion over one’s circumstances, some unfortunate, some not, which I’m a total sucker for. It’s about friendship, brotherhood, rising above our sad economy (a smaller storyline). But most of all it’s about love, and with love as real as Danny and Ariana’s, who can resist a little peek, regardless of my personal feelings.

Danny and Ariana, you made me heart you. Thanks ;)