"If there's a book you really want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it." ~Toni Morrison

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Journal Page: And Then...

During the month of September, my husband and I watched all the remaining seasons of Californication.  If you have never seen the Showtime series, it revolves around the insane life of a successful writer named Hank Moody.  He is constantly sabotaging himself and the people around him.  I spent the whole series loving him and hating him simultaneously.  While I would love to have Hank Moody's success and be published, I would never want his life.  He did, however, inspire me to create this journal page with an interesting Hank Moody quote.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Journal Page: Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver
I love Barbara Kingsolver.  I have read many of her books, and they all amaze me.  Her use of language and the way she treats nature and her female characters is beautiful. I always feel like I can see what she is writing about; the images she creates are brilliant.

I aspire to be even one tenth the writer that Barbara Kingsolver is :)

Monday, December 8, 2014

Writercize: Human Lives Matter

The Prompt:
Write a column (opinion piece) that gets to the heart of how recent news stories about the justice system's response (or: the politicians' response, the police response, the media response, the public response) to Eric Garner, Michael Brown in Ferguson and Trayvon Martin have impacted your world view.
My Response:
On the night of the Grand Jury decision in the police-shooting of Michael Brown, I, like many others around the country, watched the live coverage of Ferguson, Missouri.  I was disappointed to see news reporters circling like vultures, police dressed in full riot gear ready for a fight that had not yet begun.  I hoped beyond hope that the people of Ferguson would not live up to their expectations. I hoped beyond hope that the whole country would end up watching live coverage of a peaceful demonstration.  I hoped beyond hope that the pleas of both President Obama and the Brown family would be honored.

Was I sad when the night did not go as I had hoped?  Of course.  Every fire that was lit, every store that was looted, every person hit with tear gas made me more and more sad.  But it also made me realize that I can never fully understand the anger/fear/distrust/sadness/ disappointment that the protesters in Ferguson felt.  

I am a white American.  I am an Irish-American.  Although I am an immigrant, I have never been singled out.  I am sheltered in my whiteness. I do not fear driving at night, walking down a street, wearing a hoodie, reaching for my cell-phone. I do not fear.

When the Grand Jury in the murder of Eric Garner decided not to indict the responsible officer, even with video evidence, an illegal chokehold, the cries "I can't breathe," I was devastated.  Here was more evidence that black lives do not matter in the eyes of our justice system.  How could that be true?  How could someone's life not matter?  How could we all continue on with our lives as if nothing had happened?

This morning, on NPR, I heard about President Obama and Attorney General Holder and their new guidelines for law enforcement.  I wanted to scream!  Really?  It is 2014, and our government is telling law enforcement that they can't pull someone over just because of their race or religious affiliation?  Really?  Is it naive of me that I thought these types of guidelines were already in place?  Even more disappointing, the guidelines do not apply in airports or at the border!

I feel so helpless.  When did we, as a society, forget that all human lives matter?  That you can't judge someone's beliefs or background just by looking at them?  How can I possibly make a difference?  How can I possibly change this situation?  What can I possibly do to help?

Thank you, Alana of Writercize, for the prompt and motivation.  I needed to put this in words.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

WOTW: Sophistry

Sophistry:  noun, the use of fallacious arguments, especially with the intention of deceiving

Found in The Broken Teaglass by Emily Arsenault:
"What kind of fucked-up priorities do people have that you'd tell a little old man just trying to honor his dead wife that he can't put what he wants on her tombstone?  Over some little bit of sophistry, no less?" 

Monday, June 9, 2014

WOTW: Carceral

Carceral:  adjective, of or pertaining to prison

Found in The Broken Teaglass by Emily Arsenault:
"Why does the word 'carceral' not appear in the standard Samuelson dictionary?"

Monday, June 2, 2014

WOTW: Nebbish

Nebbish:  noun, a person, especially a man, who is regarded as pitifully ineffectual, timid, or submissive

Found in The Broken Teaglass by Emily Arsenault:
"Every day I'd make a nebbish of myself, going down to that pointy, constipated cafeteria woman, and asking, Oliver Twistlike, "May I have some hot water please?""

Monday, May 26, 2014

WOTW: Prurient

Prurient:  adjective, having or encouraging an excessive interest in sexual matters

Found in The Broken Teaglass by Emily Arsenault:  (while defining shit-eating)
"How about expressing a prurient satisfaction?"

Sunday, May 18, 2014

WOTW: Perfusionist

Perfusionist:  noun,  a specialized healthcare professional who uses the heart-lung machine during cardiac surgery and other surgeries that require cardiopulmonary bypass to manage the patient's physiological status

Found in The Broken Teaglass by Emily Arsenault:
"My mother," I said slowly, "is a perfusionist.  She spends her whole day with transplanted organs and bodily fluids."

Monday, May 12, 2014

WOTW: Hubris

Hubris:  noun, excessive pride or self-confidence

Found in The Broken Teaglass by Emily Arsenault:
"And starting with "A" is just generally considered lexicographical hubris, Dan informed me in my first official day of defining.  Not to mention bad luck."

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

What I'm Reading This Week #9

image source:  travelinlibrarian.info
I am reading Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz.  I saw the movie before I read the book.  Sometimes I hate seeing the movie before I read the book; I like to form my own images of how the characters look.  Other times I don't mind having a preconceived image of the characters.  This book is an example of the latter.  I do not feel like seeing the movie has interfered with my reading experience.  

What are you reading this week?

Sunday, May 4, 2014

WOTW: Glyptic

Glyptic:  adjective, of or concerning carving or engraving

Found in The Broken Teaglass by Emily Arsenault:
"Patterns thick with meaning, Burma-Shave signs of the toilet world, icky and sticky, cryptic and glyptic..."

Monday, April 28, 2014

People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara

My journal page for The People in the Trees

This was such an interesting book.  The narrator had a beautiful voice.  The writing was amazing.  The story is told by a doctor who spent his life studying a tribe that he "discovered."  It is an interesting glimpse into what happens when a secluded society is introduced to the modern world.

In the introduction to the story, the doctor's friend writes that the doctor has been wrongfully imprisoned for sexual abuse of a child.  As I read the doctor's story, this fact floated around in the back of my mind constantly.  I found myself analyzing every decision and every action, trying to decide if he was wrongly accused or not.  Thankfully the author does not leave the reader hanging.  By the end of the book, the truth comes out.

I definitely recommend this book.  It is beautifully written and tells an engrossing story.

Have you read this book?  What did you think?

Sunday, April 27, 2014

WOTW: Gadfly

Gadfly:  noun, an annoying person, especially one who provokes others into action by criticism

Found in The Broken Teaglass by Emily Arsenault:
"The gadfly.  People who don't want to stop writing to us, want to catch us in an error, or just show us how clever they are."

Friday, April 25, 2014

What I'm Reading This Week #8

I am currently reading The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer.  I have just started, but I already love it.  It was recommended to me, and I always find it interesting to read what people recommend for me.
Before that I was reading Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingslover.  I had to stop reading temporarily because my digital library loan expired.  Now I have it on hold in the elibrary and the physical library, so I can finish it.  I love, love, love Barbara Kingsolver and am really enjoying the book!
Before that I read The Broken Teaglass by Emily Arsenault.  The most interesting part of the story was seeing how a dictionary is put together.  Unfortunately, in the acknowledgements, the author writes that she took some liberties with that part of the story which totally bums me out :(.  I found this book to be annoyingly repetitious.  The story is revealed through clues that are repeated over and over again throughout the book.  It felt like a ploy to make word count.

What are you reading this week?

Sunday, April 20, 2014

WOTW: Editrix

Editrix:  noun, a female editor

Found in The Broken Teaglass by Emily Arsenault:
"I recently consulted the Samuelson definition of editrix, and found editrices and editrixes given as possible plural forms.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

WOTW: Sobriquet

Sobriquet:  noun, a person's nickname

Found in The Broken Teaglass by Emily Arsenault
"While I do not agree with your conclusions about the word sobriquet, it is interesting to hear what uses Samuleson has in its citation file, and I appreciate your taking the time to share those examples with me."

Sunday, March 16, 2014

WOTW: Insouciant

Insouciant:  adjective, showing a casual lack of concern; indifferent

From The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara:
"I watched him worry it in the dirt, dragging it back and forth in a lazy arc that was somehow human in its insouciant cruelty..."

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

My journal page from reading Beautiful Creatures.  I really enjoyed this book and look forward to reading the rest of the series.  The writing is beautiful, the characters are engaging, and the plot hooked me.  I definitely recommend this book.

Have you read this book?  What did you think?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

What I'm Reading This Week #7

image source: amazon.com

I tried to read The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club.  I really did!  But I couldn't do it.  Everything about this book bothered me.  It doesn't feel like it was edited.  It tells instead of showing.  I had to put it down and move on.
image source:  goodreads.com
So I picked up Messenger by Lois Lowry.  I just started this book yesterday, so I haven't read very much, but already I feel like it is a better fit.
image source:  amazon.com
It's a really fun book, and it already has me doodling more.  The idea is to use visual language to take notes, instead of just words.  I used this philosophy while taking notes at my last meeting.  It worked really well for the topic we were discussing.  I am interested to see how it works in future meetings and taking notes on readings.


Ask not what your readers can do for you
An list of ways authors can improve the reader experience

A selection of articles to help guide the editing process.  I will be checking these out once I have completed my first draft.

What are you reading this week?

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

WOTW: Hirsute

Hirsute:  adjective, hairy

From The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara:
"I had no other U'ivuan women to compare her to, nothing to tell me whether they were all this hirsute or Eve was an exception."

Monday, February 24, 2014

WOTW: Priapic

Priapic:  adjective, of, relating to, or resembling a phallus

From The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara:
"It was disgustingly priapic, about eighteen inches long and fat as an eggplant, and that particular sugary newborn pink one finds only in tropical sunsets."

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

WOTW: Tansu

Tansu: noun, a Japanese chest of drawers or cabinet

Found in The People in the Trees by Hanya Yangihara:
"Inside, the house was very much the same way: in one corner of the entryway sat, incongruously, a Japanese tansu of blistering, puckered camphor."

Monday, February 10, 2014

Writing Update ROW 80 Weeks 4 & 5

So I would love to say that I have been staying on track and meeting my goals, but I would be lying.  I have been slacking big time.  I am not putting aside time for writing.  Even when I know that I have time that could easily be used for writing, I ignore the voice in the back of my head telling me to just write.  I distract myself with something else, like tv or crochet or a good book.  It is way too easy to distract myself recently.

Here's the Update!

1/26/14:  110 words of ZF; 312 words of a writing prompt from the POV of my MC
1/27/14:  278 words of ZF

Yeah, that's it.  In the last two weeks I have written a total of two days and did not meet my goal either day.  The writing prompt was actually really helpful and may become part of the book during revisions.  We'll see.  Here's hoping next week will be better.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

WOTW: Effete

Effete: adjective, affected, overrefined, and ineffectual

Found in The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara:
"West sighed and blotted the corners of his mouth with the point of his napkin, a gesture both contrived and effete, as well as ostentatiously, obnoxiously Anglophilic."

Monday, January 27, 2014

WOTW: Quotidian

Quotidian: adjective, of or occurring every day; daily

Found in The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara:
"The point is, talking to Norton, working with Norton, being with Norton, was simply part of my quotidian life...."

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Writing Update: ROW 80 Week #3

Here's the update!

1/19/14:  173 words of ZF
1/20/14:  0 words
1/21/14:  20 words of ZF; 320 words of journal writing prompt
1/22/14:  0 words
1/23/14:  0 words
1/24/14:  0 words
1/25/14:  0 words

Not a good week.  I hope I haven't lost my mojo.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

What I'm Reading This Week

image source:  amazon.com
This week I am reading The Mist-Torn Witches by Barb Hendee.  So far it's very predictable.  I feel like I knew how the whole story was going to play out before I even started reading.  I am hoping for a huge twist.

On another note, today was my first day attempting my goal of daily practice on Duolingo.  I love Duolingo, but sometimes it chooses the funniest sentences.
What are you reading this week?  Have you ever tried Duolingo?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

WOTW: Uxorious

Uxorious: adjective, having or showing an excessive or submissive fondness for one's wife

Found in Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn:
"Men capable of being uxorious."

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Writing Update: ROW 80 Week 2

I am starting to see a pattern :)  Goal is 500 words per day.

Here's the update!

1/12/14:  522 words of ZF
1/13/14:  310 wordsof ZF
1/14/14:  294 words of ZF
1/15/14:  0 words
1/16/14:  0 words
1/17/14:  0 words
1/18/14:  0 words

The Analysis:
I write every Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, but once Wednesday comes around, I seem to lose all motivation.  Weird.  I wonder how I can fix this little issue....

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

What I'm Reading This Week #5

I am still reading Beautiful Creatures and I am really enjoying it.  I am trying something new with this book. I saw this idea on Pinterest, as something that students could do while reading a book. The basic idea is to devote a page to collecting favorite quotes from the book.  I am having fun with it :)

I also read this great post:  Editing tips from Julie Glover at Threading the Labyrinth.  I am not ready to start editing yet, but it's never too early to start gathering ideas.

What are you reading?

Monday, January 13, 2014

WOTW: Vexillology

Vexillology:  noun, the study of flags

Found in Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn:
"...but our kid wouldn't be alone, I'd be sprawled next to him.  Aiding him in his budding vexillology, which sounds less like a study of flags than a study in annoyance..."

Sunday, January 12, 2014

"The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" by Rebecca Skloot

The Story: 
This book is a nonfiction account of Henrietta Lacks, her cells and her family.  Henrietta died of cervical cancer in the early 50's.  Samples of her cells were taken and grown in a lab without her knowledge.  Her cells grew at an amazing rate and have resulted in numerous medical breakthroughs.  Meanwhile her remaining family lived in poverty, unaware of Henrietta's immortality.

My Thoughts:  
Before even beginning this book, I had an affinity for Henrietta Lacks.  I had heard about her situation and understood how her family could be upset about her cells being used for research without their knowledge or consent.  What I did not know earlier is that they wanted her to be recognized as more than just a HeLa cell.  No one really seemed to know what/who HeLa stood for, even though they were using the cells in various types of research all around the world.

Henrietta's husband tended to anger me.  Overall I could tell that he cared for his wife, but he often cheated on her and passed STDs to her.  It is possible one of those diseases led to her cancer.  When I read that he blamed her cancer for the symptoms of his STD, I wanted to reach into the book, grab him and shake some sense into him.

It is amazing what Henrietta's cells have done for medicine.  They were used in the creation of the Polio vaccine.  Her cells were used so extensively that they led to the standardization of the process used for growing cells in a lab.  They even helped bring about cloning and IVF.

Overall this book just made me sad.  The Lacks family were so poorly educated that even when they learned what had been done with Henrietta's cells, they couldn't understand it fully.  Henrietta's daughter thought that there were copies of her mother walking around England, because a scientist there had cloned Henrietta's cells.  The family tried to get more information about what had been done with the cells, tried to understand the technical tests and articles, but it was still beyond their level of understanding.

I absolutely recommend this book.  At first I was put off by the fact that the author includes her research process in the story, but as I read on I realized it was an important part of the story of Henrietta's family.  It revealed more about them than she could tell in her own words.  The sad truth is that every day we give our tissues and samples to medical personnel who then have the right to do whatever they want with those samples without ever informing the donor.  This book is a fascinating look into the issue of medical samples and their use.

Have your read this book?  What did you think?

Writing Update: ROW80 Week #1

I started out strong, then lost my momentum.  My goal is to write 500 words per day.

Here's the update!
1/5/14:  183 words of a future blog post
1/6/14:  329 words of ZF; 175 words of blog post = 504 words total
1/7/14:  388 words of ZF; 158 words of blog post = 546 words total  
1/8/14:  0 words
1/9/14:  0 words
1/10/14:  17 words of ZF
1/11/14:  28 words of ZF

My Excuses:
The first week back after winter break is always stressful, and I felt more tired than usual all week.  I just lacked the motivation to do anything other than sit and watch tv.  I'll do better next week.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

What I'm Reading This Week #4

image source:  amazon.com

I am reading Beautiful Creatures by Kami Gacia and Margaret Stohl.  I saw the movie first, so I have a pretty good idea of what is going to happen in the story.  I know, I know, it's like breaking a rule: watching the movie before reading the book.  Truth be told, it's a rule that I break more often than I follow :)  

I'm really bad at keeping track of current book releases and often miss the great ones until everyone and their mother is reading it.  I am constantly surprised by tv shows and movies when the credits list the book that inspired the storyline.  I just keep adding them all to my reading list :)  No matter how much I read, my to-be-read list keeps getting longer.

Speaking of reading lists, here is the list of books I read in the past year, 2013:
Total: 30 books
1. A Feast for Crows by George RR Martin
  1. Emma by Jane Austen
  2. Artist’s Journal Workshop by Cathy Johnson
  1. El amor en los tiempos del cólera by Gabriel García Márquez
  2. Carrie by Stephen King
  3. The Time Machine by HG Wells
  4. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
  1. The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan
  2. Pretties by Scott Westerfeld
  3. Painless Poetry by Mary Elizabeth
  4. Specials by Scott Westerfeld
  5. Poetry as Spiritual Practice by Robert McDowell
  1. A Dance with Dragons by George RR Martin
  2. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
  3. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future by Michael J Fox
I kind of lost track of when I read what :)
  1. The Stone of Tears by Terry Goodkind
  2. The Edge of Midnight by Beverly Jenkins
  3. Divergent by Veronica Roth
  4. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
  5. Star Wars: Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn
  6. Offworld by Robin Parish
  7. Extras by Scott Westerfeld
  8. The Poisoner’s Handbook by Deborah Blum
  9. Insurgent by Veronica Roth
  10. Horns by Joe Hill
  11. Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
  12. NOS4A2 by Joe Hill
  1. Deception Point by Dan Brown
  2. Doodler’s Mandala by Dan Lemaire
  3. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Monday, January 6, 2014

2014 Goals and a Review of 2013

I had two reading and writing goals last year:
   1.  Read more classics.
   2.  Complete first draft of my novels.

They were good goals, achievable goals, so did I achieve them?  Let's see!
   1.  I read four books that I would consider classics: Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton, The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez, and Emma by Jane Austen.  It's more classics than I read in 2012, so I consider that a victory!

   2.  I did not complete the first draft of either of my novels.  :(  Oh well, there is always this year......

Here are my reading and writing goals for 2014:
   1.  Write 500 words each day(3500 total words per week) ►ROW 80 starts today!
   2. Complete the first draft of my novels (ZF and DOVH) and begin the next.
   3.  Read at least 35 books.
   4.  Post on this blog at least 3 times a week.
   5.  Practice my German every day on Duolingo.com.
   6.  Take care of myself (floss, moisturize, pay bills on time, exercise, etc.)

What are your goals this year?

WOTW: Bespoke

Bespoke: adjective, part of bespeak, made to order

Found in Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn:
"They are the high-end men's stores, the places that hand-tailor suits, where salespeople carry ties individually, draped over an arm, to male shoppers nestled in leather armchairs.  I mean, this shit is bespoke."

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Writing Update: Not Much Progress

Here's the update!

12/23/13: 122 words of ZF; 75 words of blog post

Oops!  Looks like I have already fallen off track :(  It was winter break, though, and I love to be lazy over break.  Also I did go on a little vacation to visit family which always interferes with writing time :)  A new round of ROW 80 starts on Monday, and I will be posting my goals for the year and beginning some serious writing.

What I'm Reading This Week #3

image source:  amazon.com

This week I have been reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.  Fascinating book!

I have been struggling with how much/what level of profanity to use in my book.  This post from Writer's Digest discusses the issue in detail, complete with definitions and ideas of how to write creative insults.

What are you reading?

WOTW: Wastrel

I have been away from this blog for a little over a week because I was on vacation, visiting family for the New Year, so here is a belated Word of the Week post.  Enjoy!

Wastrel: noun, a wasteful or good-for-nothing person

Found in Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn:
"The booze floating, sludgelike, just beneath the surface of my skin made me look like a fleshy wastrel, just sensuous enough to be disreputable."