Weekend Reading: Wow, I Really Needed to Update My Goodreads

October 27, 2014 § Leave a comment

Read
October 27, 2014

I really have been reading as well as writing the past two months. I just haven’t had a chance to write about what I’ve been reading.

Degas in New Orleans by Christopher Benfey

This is one of the many books I checked out from the library in preparation for the trip to New Orleans I took back in July. It was chock full of fascinating info, including Degas’ relation to African-American inventor Norbert Rillieux. It also inspired my Haunted House blog post. I was a little sad when I returned this book to the library. It reminded me so much of my trip to NOLA.

DegasInNewOrleans

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

This book made me feel so much better–optimistic even–about the fact that I sometimes go see movies by myself.

It also reminded me of all those times my friend and I would dish about everything from our dating drama to our hopes and dreams to the latest Ally McBeal episode–via company email. What were we thinking?!?

Attachments

Jane’s Melody by Ryan Winfield

This book made me want to go hang out in bars again, listening to live music performed by hot young musicians. But this writing thing is sucking up ALL MY TIME. For right now, I’ll just have to settle for reading the sequel.

Love the cover.

Love the cover.

Dance Upon the Air by Nora Roberts

At dinner and drinks one evening my friend told me she had Dark Witch by Nora Roberts on her eReader and I said “Oh, I’ve been wanting to read that one” and my friend said “If you’re interested in the witch stories I can recommend some of her other witch trilogies” and I said, “Hold up. NORA ROBERTS has OTHER WITCH TRILOGIES?!?”

And that’s how I found myself enjoying blissful lunch hours in the park reading Dance Upon the Air and dreaming of cottage kitchens and herb gardens and dancing under the moonlight.

DanceUponTheAir

 

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

I dug my own hole on this one. I was trying to find someone I actually know in my real life who has read this book so I could ask them if they would recommend reading it. Instead, I talked someone else into checking it out and she is now done with it and a little peeved that I am still trying to get through it because she CAN’T DISCUSS THE ENDING WITH ME YET. What can I say? I had to finish the Nora Roberts witch book before the library loan expired again.

GoneGirlWhat have you been reading?

 

Movie Night: “Dear White People”

October 26, 2014 § Leave a comment

Bliss
October 25, 2014

We went into Dear White People expecting some gut-busting, tear-rolling, cheek-cracking laughs. No. Not so much. This is not a comedy.

Depending on your own experience and sensibilities, you will laugh at some point during the movie. But it will probably be the uncomfortable laugh. And someone in the theater might look at you sideways.

A few character reveals hit me in the stomach. Like the “not feeling black enough for the black or white crowd” thing. And the “knowing the other kids are looking at you weird because one of your parents is white” thing. So the laughter was more the “yeah, I know what that’s like and it’s really messed up” kind of laughter.

Note: Pay attention to the credits. I almost missed them. They pack a wallop.

Sun Belt Express at the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival

October 20, 2014 § 2 Comments

Bliss
October 20, 2014

It has been a while since I’ve been out until one o’ clock in the morning. Good thing I bought that sleep mask at Big Lots.

ReadWriteBliss_JeanCocteauMarqee

On Saturday I went to the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival to attend the screening of Sun Belt Express. I went with the Cheza Jouer Films duo and one of the film’s producers, Kenneth Segura Knoll. The movie played at the Jean Cocteau theater, owned by none other than George R.R. Martin. Sun Belt Express is a gem of an indie film about a divorced, broke teacher who supplements his income with a side job smuggling people across the border from Mexico. On what is supposed to be his final run, he discovers his idealistic teenage daughter stowed away in the trunk of his car. A hilarious disaster of an adventure ensues.

At the center of this movie were the men hiding in the trunk of the car, hoping to start a new life in the U.S. It made me think of one of my favorite scenes from the “Homecoming” episode of Smallville where Oliver Queen is being interviewed by a combative TV anchor and he says that he’s not “putting up razor wire fences to keep out immigrants, who only want what our grandparents wanted.”

I really love a people-bonding-through-adversity-story. This movie had father-daughter bonding, down-and-out-comrade bonding, man-woman bonding, woman-girl bonding. And lots and lots of laughs—like, till my eyes watered. The shots of the gorgeous New Mexico sky were just icing on the cake.

ReadWriteBliss_MiguelSandoval

Me and Miguel Sandoval, one of the stars of Sun Belt Express. When I first saw him, I was like “Why does he look so familiar? Who did he play that had a cool, calming, authoritative presence? Who was it??” It was District Attorney Manuel Devalos in Medium, that’s who.

Check out more on Sun Belt Express here: http://sunbeltexpressmovie.com

 

I’m Back and I’m Doing NaNoWriMo

October 13, 2014 § 2 Comments

or,
I Know. It’s Way Past Labor Day

Write
October 13, 2014

I’m back. Not because I finally submitted my manuscript to the agent who requested it at RWA14. No. Because after a month and a half of condensing and cutting, my beloved manuscript is still way over the ideal word count. One of my Hot Tub Readers strongly suggested I take a break from it.

So I’m taking a break from it.

Anxiety is still skating across my chest, my stomach alternates between roiling with nausea and growling with hunger, and I want to cry about every two hours, but I’m working through it.

I have decided, for the first time, to participate in NaNoWriMo, also known as National Novel Writing Month. The founder of NaNoWriMo, Chris Baty, was the guest speaker at the LERA (Land of Enchantment Romance Authors) meeting on Saturday.

Chris Baty, Founder of NaNoWriMo, at the LERA meeting, October 11, 2014.

Chris Baty, Founder of NaNoWriMo, at the LERA meeting, October 11, 2014.

He is a great speaker. Funny, entertaining, and inspiring. I am inspired to give this NaNoWriMo thing a go. After the past few years of completely devoting myself to a project that has become my love and my obsession, only to hit a brick wall, it will be good for me to try something completely different.

At 1,667 words a day.

Eep!

Like I said, it will be good for me. Right?

Write!
(Hee, hee. Couldn’t resist. I have to crack myself up somehow. Or else I’ll just crack up, period.)

Chris Baty has inspired me to write a flawed novel, really quickly.

Chris Baty has inspired me to write a flawed novel, really quickly.

In the Meantime, Apples

August 27, 2014 § 1 Comment

Write
August 27, 2014

I’m going to be taking a brief hiatus from blogging in order to get some manuscript changes done to submit to an agent. Eeeep! I know what I’ll be doing over Labor Day weekend.

While munching apples. After years, the dwarf apple tree by my back door, the tree I never water and that has primarily served as a decent screen between me and my neighbor’s bedroom window and a hangout for the birds, has actually yielded a bowl of apples! I felt like a little kid picking these off the branches.

ReadWriteBliss-Apples

Talk to you some time after Labor Day!

It’s a Good Thing I Enjoy This Writing Thing So Much

August 18, 2014 § 2 Comments

Write
August 18, 2014

Last year I pitched to an agent at RWA and she told me that my word count was too high—like, “heart attack too high”—so I spent last fall and winter splitting the book into two.

That agent rejected my submission.

This year I pitched to another agent at RWA and he likes my premise but does not like the fact that it is split into two—like, “everything was great until you said it was split into two”—and he wants to see a definite ending.

I agree. My love my original ending. My original ending is the reason I wrote the book.

So now I’m back to my original version, the one that is not split in two, and that means I have to cut a hell of a lot of words.

Panic attack has happened, is happening, and will continue to happen.

I’m getting through it with a little advice from my friends and other sources.

Stephen King, from On Writing, advice from his newspaper editor:
“When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story.”

On Writing

These words are keeping my head on straight and guiding me through the darkness.

Ryan Winfield, author of Jane’s Melody, when I told him my woes:
“Don’t cut just to cut, but getting the word count down will hopefully make it crisper and make for better writing.”

Ryan Winfield and me at Bookworks signing August 9, 2014.

Ryan Winfield and me at Bookworks signing August 9, 2014.

So far, so good. I’ve cut 600 words from the first three scenes and they read much better. Only thing is, 600 doesn’t sound like very many words right now. I will not despair.

Louise Bergin, fellow LERA member and author of historical romance:
“Cut, but keep what you’ve cut off to the side and use it later as extras for promotion.”

Love my LERA gang!

Love my LERA gang!

Great idea. I’ve seen other authors do this, like Cora Carmack at the end of her book Finding It. I’ll probably end up with a year’s worth of blog posts of deleted scenes and original versions.

Dia of the invaluable Hot Tub Readers:
“Whatever you do, don’t cut any of the sex scenes.”

Duly noted.

Weekend Reading: Jane’s Melody by Ryan Winfield

August 11, 2014 § Leave a comment

Read
August 11, 2014

ReadWriteBliss_BookworksSign

I’m not sure how it is that this guy didn’t pop up on my radar before now, because he writes just the kind of books I love to read.

Ryan Winfield did a book signing/panel with my LERA group this weekend at my local indie bookstore, Bookworks. After reading the synopses for Ryan Winfield’s Jane’s Melody and the recently released follow-up, Jane’s Harmony, I knew that I had to go pick up these books. And get them signed, of course.

Ryan Winfield and me at Bookworks signing August 9, 2014.

Ryan Winfield and me at Bookworks signing August 9, 2014.

I started reading Jane’s Melody this weekend and love it.

It’s set in Washington State, which is where I grew up. It makes me almost miss some things about Washington, such as the springtime flowers of daffodils and tulips and crocuses. Almost miss it. Makes me almost kind of wish we hadn’t been so poor when I was a kid so that we could have afforded a ferry ride to Bainbridge Island. Almost wish. (I did move to New Mexico for a reason: the sunshine!)

Love the cover.

Love the cover.

I’m also just so stoked that a man understands that a single, working woman doesn’t have time to change the light bulb in the garage (page 6) or pull weeds in the back yard (page 42). Okay, so maybe one or two men I’ve dated have given me crap about that.

I highly recommend this book.

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