Weekend Reading: Jane Eyre and My Horizontal Life

January 26, 2015 § 4 Comments

I know, they couldn’t be more different

January 26, 2015

Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte, is one of my favorite books. It was time for a re-read, especially since I am in the process of rewrites and this book is a major influence on my writing. This is one of those books that as I read it at different stages in my life, I get something new out of it.


Like how that St. John dude was trying to convince Jane that he knew what her life path should be, that many people like her were clueless as to what they should be doing with their sorry selves, to which she replied:

“If they are really qualified for the task, will not their own hearts be the first to inform them of it?”

And the quote describing what loneliness really is:

“You are cold, because you are alone; no contact strikes the fire from you that is in you.”

And the sharp wit between Jane and Rochester:

“I am paving hell with energy.”


I was not a huge fan of the Chelsea Lately talk show, but I am a huge fan of My Horizontal Life by Chelsea Handler.

My Horizontal Life

I saw it on BuzzFeed’s 32 Books Guaranteed to Make You Laugh Out Loud, and I cracked up numerous times while reading this book, often in public. It is very well-written and hilarious in an understated, dry wit kind of way. There were too many lines to count that just made me feel like this woman is after my own heart. Such as,

“After I regained my composure, I realized it was time to formulate a plan. Step one was to start drinking immediately.”


“It was Valentine’s Day and I had spent the day in bed with my life partner, Ketel One.”


“I was tired and reminded them that nothing positive happens after two a.m.”

That is for damn sure.

Movie Night: “Beyond the Lights”

January 19, 2015 § Leave a comment

January 19, 2015

My walking shoes. I participated in the Martin Luther King, Jr. march on Saturday morning. After seeing Selma, I pretty much had to. And, no, I won’t bitch that Ava DuVernay didn’t get a Best Director nomination. Oh, wait. I guess I just did.

I walked in the MLK march on Saturday morning. After seeing Selma, I pretty much had to. And, no, I won’t bitch that Ava DuVernay didn’t get a Best Director nomination. Oh, wait. I guess I just did.

I met my trusty movie buddy Martha in the lobby of the theater.

Beyond the Lights, right?” she said.


“Whew.” She had already bought her ticket. “I got up to the window and realized I had no idea what movie we’re seeing.”

I guess I should be flattered that my friend trusts my judgment enough to show up at the theater without bothering to pay attention to which movie I’d proposed. Me, I don’t trust anybody enough to show up to the movie theater blind.

“It’s a lovey-dovey movie, isn’t it?” she asked.

“Of course.”

“I knew it. I was scanning the titles, thinking, ‘Which movie would Shannon pick?’ I went with the one that sounded romantic because that’s your genre—the one that you write in.”

My movie pal knows me well.

Beyond the Lights flew under the radar the first time around. Like too many “black” movies that open in Albuquerque, it ran for, like, a week. I had planned to see it over Thanksgiving weekend, but it was already gone.

It just reopened in the cheap theater, and everybody must have heard about the rave reviews and the original song Oscar nomination because the theater was packed. Black people, white people. Young people, old people. People who leaned over to their partners and said happily, “That’s the song she sang in the beginning, when she was a little girl.”

Martha kept leaning over to commentate on the male lead character, played by Nate Parker. “Oh, my God, he is so freaking hot.”

He was also one of those Captain America/Superman/Boy Scout types. Swoon.

I don’t even know where to begin with Gugu Mbatha-Raw. She can’t star in too many movies, in my opinion. She is the whole package.

The themes in this movie run deeper than you might originally assume from the trailer. It tackles the hypersexualization of female artists, the mother-daughter survival bond, the schism between what an artist really wants to say and what is commercially viable. And it has a kick-ass love story to boot.

As the credits rolled, Martha said, “Oh, I’m so glad no one died.”

Lovey-dovey movies are the best movies ever.

5 Writerly Things to Do in 2015

January 12, 2015 § Leave a comment

or, 5 Things I, the Writer, Will Probably Do This Year. At Least, I Should Do Them.

January 12, 2015

My cat thinks he is going to help me look up recipes in a cookbook. That's nothing new.

My cat thinks he is going to help me look up recipes in a cookbook. That’s nothing new.

My friend T sent me a HuffPo article that lists 52 new things writers can try for 2015. So many of the items were such great ideas that I found it kind of overwhelming. So I picked just 5 things that I will definitely think about/try/do in 2015.

Participate in NaNoWriMo in November 2015.

I had such a great time participating in my first NaNoWriMo last November that I am going to do it again this year. If I hustle on my rewrites sufficiently, maybe I’ll be scribbling out the first draft of a sequel.

Map a book you love.

Already happening. I’m trying to figure out where the heck I went so wrong on overwriting my first novel. Right now I’m mapping Jane Eyre, since the structure of that book has influenced how I view my heroines’ journeys. I’m also appreciating that while the recent movie adaptation was a decent effort, it never captured the magic and wit that is Jane and Rochester.

Read your work out loud.

Last year, I had actually seriously considered participating in my local DimeStories literary open mic night—before the holiday crunch set in, that is. It would be a good way to practice my public speaking. Eep. Hyperventilating. Like I said, I’ll think about it.

Do a literary pilgrimage to see a site where a favorite author lived or wrote about.

Now this is synchronicity. I just read an article in the paper about the D.H. Lawrence house in Taos reopening. This summer—day trip!

Set up a separate bank account for your writing pursuits.

Yep. As soon as I start making money from my writing, I’ll get right on that.

Where Am I?

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