"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, April 29, 2015

2015 What I'm Reading #8


Time for Round 2
This round, my goal is to start a daily writing practice.  I am starting by completing Blogging University's Writing 101 through The Daily Post.  I will be posting on my blog daily using the prompt and twist provided.  I will also be continuing to work on my reading goal of 30 books this year.

Number of Books Read: 13
January
  1. The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa
  2. Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman
  3. The Van Alen Legacy by Melissa de la Cruz
  4. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Schaffer
  5. Blue Bloods: The Keys to the Repository by Melissa de la Cruz
  6. A Million Little Pieces by James Frey
February
  1. Misguided Angel by Melissa de la Cruz
  2. Witches of East End by Melissa de la Cruz
March
1. The Coroner’s Lunch by Colin Cotterill
April
  1. The Wonder Show by Hannah Barnaby
  2. Wicked by Gregory Maguire
  3. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
  4. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Well, I have finally escaped from Wicked and added two more books to my list.  Reviews and journal pages are coming soon.  I am now starting Forever Odd.  I really liked the first book in this series, so I hoping this one will be just as entertaining.  If I can continue this reading rate, I should make my goal by the end of the year :)

What have you been reading lately?  Any suggestions to add to my TBR list?

Monday, April 27, 2015

Death to Adverbs: Writing 101, Day 8

Today’s Prompt: Go to a local café, park, or public place and write a piece inspired by something you see.
Today’s twist: write an adverb-free post.

The man walks down the street, his legs crossing and bending at strange angles like a scarecrow brought to life.  His medium build wears an aged leather vest, black like his greasy hair.  His weathered face matches the texture of his vest.  The man scrunches his face and sticks out his tongue as he ambles down the street.

A short while later, the man stumbles past my house.  A tall can of PBR peeks out from the crook of his elbow as he crunches on chips that he pulls in fistfuls from a colorful bag.  He walks on the grass, and the uneven ground tosses his body around, his rubbery legs faltering beneath his torso at times.

He veers across the grass tot he sidewalk and back to the grass again.  At one point he almost falls but momentum keeps him upright.  He wanders out of my line of sight, munching his chips and cradling the PBR with his arm.

Day 8 Reflection:  It took me a long time to write this post.  I am a homebody.  But today was a beautiful day, and I got to sit on my front porch and observe the world passing me by.  This was a fun post to write once I had my topic.  I hope that I convey the man's drunkenness successfully.  Let me know what you think.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Writing Update 4/26/15


Time for Round 2
This round, my goal is to start a daily writing practice.  I am starting by completing Blogging University's Writing 101 through The Daily Post.  I will be posting on my blog daily using the prompt and twist provided.  I will also be continuing to work on my reading goal of 30 books this year.

This week I have had some successes and some disappointments.  I have not been keeping up with the Writing 101 posts.  The last few prompts have really stumped me and I still feel stuck on prompt 8.   I may have to skip prompt 8 and come back to it later.

I have been writing almost every day but I did not write Thursday or Friday.  However, Saturday I completed my first draft of ZF.  The surprising part is how close I was and how much I procrastinated finishing.  I still can't believe it took me so long to write the last few pages.  Now it's time to start completing some more projects :)

Saturday, April 25, 2015

I Completed a First Draft?

Yes, it's true!  Just moments ago, I completed my first draft of ZF!

I am still in a state of disbelief.  I have a hard time completing projects of any type and somehow, I just completed my first draft of what I hope will be a novel someday.  
image source:http://careergirlnetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Celebrate.jpg

I'm not delusional.  I know that this is just the first step of many in taking this to novel status.  I know I have a lot of revising to do (believe me, this first draft is rough) but I am still celebrating this victory.  Yippee!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

2015 What I'm Reading #7


Time for Round 2
This round, my goal is to start a daily writing practice.  I am starting by completing Blogging University's Writing 101 through The Daily Post.  I will be posting on my blog daily using the prompt and twist provided.  I will also be continuing to work on my reading goal of 30 books this year.


Number of Books Read: 11
January
  1. The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa
  2. Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman
  3. The Van Alen Legacy by Melissa de la Cruz
  4. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Schaffer
  5. Blue Bloods: The Keys to the Repository by Melissa de la Cruz
  6. A Million Little Pieces by James Frey
February
7.  Misguided Angel by Melissa de la Cruz
8.  Witches of East End by Melissa de la Cruz
March 
9. The Coroner’s Lunch by Colin Cotterill
April
10.  The Wonder Show by Hannah Barnaby
11.  Wicked by Gregory Maguire

I finally updated my list of books I have read this year.  Eleven is not a bad number.  You can tell that I started out the year strong and then had a slight problem.  I lost all interest in reading for a while.  I'm not sure why.  Sometimes it happens.  But I always come back to my books.

I finally made it through Wicked.  I don't know if I feel enough about it to even write a review.  I will try.  Surprisingly, the Kindle version of the book came with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, so now I am reading that book.  I will get to the rest of my electronic bookshelf soon.

What are you reading this week?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Top Ten All Time Favorite Authors

I am linking up with The Broke and the Bookish for Top 10 Tuesday.

1.  Roald Dahl
When I was growing up, I devoured Roald Dahl's books.  One of my favorites was his books of fractured fairy tales.  As I got older I loved his short stories.  I once heard that he had a hip replacement and kept his old hip bone in a jar in his writing space.  That made me love him even more and made me regret the fact that I had not asked for my hip after my replacement surgery :)

2.  Enid Blython
Another author I loved when growing up.  Between the stories of the Faraway Tree and the Enchanted Wood and the mystery-solving Famous Five, I was hooked.  

3.  Stephen King
I find his writing compelling.  No matter what book of his I pick up, I enjoy reading it.  Novels, short stories, all of it.  I have not yet read On Writing, though it is now on my TBR list.

4. Isabel Allende
The first full-length book I read in Spanish was Isabel Allende's La casa de los espíritus.  Ever since I have been hooked.  I love magic realism.

5.  Gabriel García Márquez
Another magic realism author.  I've been hooked since the first time I read Cien años de soledad.  

6.  Anne Rice
What can I say?  I believe that I have read every single vampire novel that Anne Rice wrote.  I love them!  I was a little obsessed for a while.  I don't usually buy a lot of books(I'm more of a library girl; I love a deadline), but I own a lot of Anne Rice books.

7.  Barbara Kingsolver
Wow!  I love Barbara Kingsolver's writing.  I feel like I am transported to a different world every time I read her books.  I cannot choose a favorite.

8.  Irish Poets
Irish poets.  At one point in my life, I strove to be one.  Two of my favorite poems are The Wayfarer by Padraig Pearse and Mid-Term Break by Seamus Heaney.

9.  Oscar Wilde
The Portrait of Dorian Gray and The Importance of Being Earnest are two books I read in high school that I still feel impacted by today.  In fact I feel a sudden urge to read both again right now.

10.  Agatha Christie
The first mystery books I read were Agatha Christie.  I fell in love with Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple.  I'm still in love with both of them and occasionally return to her books.  They always make me feel welcome, like a long-lost friend.


Who are your favorite authors?

Monday, April 20, 2015

Writing Update 4/20/15 (One Day Late)


Time for Round 2
This round, my goal is to start a daily writing practice.  I am starting by completing Blogging University's Writing 101 through The Daily Post.  I will be posting on my blog daily using the prompt and twist provided.  I will also be continuing to work on my reading goal of 30 books this year.

I had some family visiting this weekend, so I fell a little behind in all my projects, including my writing.  I took a few days off but I am back and ready to start again.  

Sometimes it is necessary to take a break, even when beginning a new habit.  I enjoyed my time with my family and got to build some new memories that might help with my writing someday.  Who knows?

Well, I'm keeping this short and sweet, so I can head back to my notebook and start writing again :)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Give and Take: Writing 101, Day 7

Today’s Prompt: Write a post based on the contrast between two things — whether people, objects, emotions, places, or something else.
Today’s twist: write your post in the form of a dialogue.

I sit on the couch watching a car snake across my television screen.  As I am drawn in by the movie, my finger is drawn into my mouth.  My teeth tear at skin, flesh, and nail alike.

Inner Voice:  What are you doing?  Why is your finger in your mouth?  I thought you wanted to grow your nails.

Me:  I'm just cleaning up a hangnail.  I'm just evening out a ragged nail, removing some dead skin.  My nails are still growing.  I am not letting myself down.

Inner Voice:  Take your finger out of your mouth!

Me:  But I'm not doing anything really.

Inner Voice:  Take your finger out of your mouth!

Me:  Ok

I remove the finger from my mouth and begin to pick at my thumb with the nail of my middle finger.

Reflection on Day 7:  This is a real, daily battle for me :(  Disgusting, I know.  I'm working on it.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Character Study: Writing 101, Day 6

Today’s Prompt: Who’s the most interesting person (or people) you’ve met this year?
Today’s twist: Turn your post into a character study.

As I sit here writing, I can hear a loud truck engine idling across the street.  I do not need to look out my window to see what is going on.  I know who is responsible for disturbing the peace.  Bigalow.

The first time I saw Bigalow, he was outside his apartment with his two unleashed dogs.  The first dog was a Golden Retriever, friendly and carefree; the second was a velvet grey Pitbull.  a young couple came walking down the street, and Bigalow immediately rushed to grab the Pitbull's collar.  He looked up, his forehead creased in worry, and watched the couple walk past before allowing the dog to roam free again.  He stayed alert and close to his dog from then on.  After the dogs had finished outside, he brought them back to the apartment.  He never removed his dogs' waste.

Bigalow walked back and forth between the apartment and his vehicle, ignoring the piles of dog poop that littered the surrounding grass.  His pompous swagger and puffed-up chest attempted to hide his short stature.  He climbed up into his old, white Jeep, started up the engine and drove away.  Two minutes later, he drove back onto our street.

He pulled up to the curb, revved his engine for a while, then reversed, stopped, and revved the engine again.  This process was repeated for over twenty minutes until I wasn't sure if he was looking for attention or he just couldn't handle parallel parking.  Based on how his friends park, I am guessing the latter.  

Today, I saw Bigalow packing a trailer.  I think he is moving out and I hope that loud truck outside is getting ready to drive him away into the sunset.

Reflection on Day 6:  This prompt had me stumped, and I avoided it for a long time.  Now that I have written, I still feel stumped by this prompt and I don't think that I did it justice.  Maybe I will try again another time.

2015 What I'm Reading #6


Time for Round 2
This round, my goal is to start a daily writing practice.  I am starting by completing Blogging University's Writing 101 through The Daily Post.  I will be posting on my blog daily using the prompt and twist provided.  I will also be continuing to work on my reading goal of 30 books this year.

Here is a glimpse at my e-library bookshelf:

Ugh!  Not much progress has been made.  I am still reading Wicked.  It is slow-going and I am not sure what I think of it :(  I thought I was going to love this book, but now....meh.  Maybe it gets better?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Top 10 Inspiring Quotes from Books

I am linking up with The Broke and the Bookish for Top 10 Tuesday.


Every time I read a book that I enjoy, I start a journal page of quotes I like.  Sometimes, I love the language used, sometimes the message, sometimes both.  I often post my journal pages on this blog, like here.  For this Top 10, or 9, I went back through my reading journal pages and chose my favorites.  

1.  "There was something comforting  about spending the day with women whose only magical powers were forgetting their own names."  Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Another one of those books that I did not read until after I saw the movie.  

2.  "It is only the old who can look around them and marvel, for it is we who know how alike the world really is, how all of its problems and wonders have already been recognized and recorded."  The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara
Interesting book.  If you haven't read it, I recommend it, although some parts may be difficult to read.

3.  "Our brains are like giant, muscular vines, and they can wrap themselves around almost any skill we ask them to consider." The Doodle Revolution by Sunni Brown
I love thinking of my brain as a giant vine.

4.  "To repair a man's soul and deepest heart- to reverse an irreversible trade- that might be far, far more than Matty could possibly undertake."  The Messenger by Lois Lowry
Great book, a companion to The Giver.

5.  "The others have whittled an image of me with the distorting knives of rumor until I am a different piece of scrimshaw to each of them."  Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz
Yet another book that I did not read until after I saw the movie, and I love, love, love this quote.

6.  "A certain feeling comes from throwing your good life away, and it is one part rapture."  Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver
OMG. I. Love. Barbara. Kingsolver.

7.  "Teaching is a profession of hope.  It requires, on top of everything else, a leap of faith.  A willingness to believe that something that does not currently exist might one day come to life."  Building a Better Teacher by Elizabeth Green
I don't know what to say about this one.

8.  "Promise me you won't stay here," Gillian said.  "You'll get all crumpled up like a piece of paper.  You'll ruin your life."  Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman
Yes, it's another book that I did not read until after I had seen the movie.  In fact I watched the movie many times before even realizing that it started as a book :)

9.  "Life... The important parts you blocked out altogether, but the random, slanted moments haunted you, replaying over and over in your mind."  Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl 
True.  So true.

What are some books or quotes that inspire you?

Monday, April 13, 2015

Be Brief: Writing 101, Day 5

Today’s Prompt: You stumble upon a random letter on the path.You read it. It affects you deeply, and you wish it could be returned to the person to which it’s addressed. Write a story about this encounter.
Today’s twist: Approach this post in as few words as possible.

That morning I walked out to the backyard to check on the ripening strawberries and I found a large floral tote bag slouching amongst the sunflowers.  Curious, I approached the bag and peered inside.  It was almost full with papers spilling onto the dirt and grass.  I glanced to the alley on my right, then to the street on my left.  I saw no one, but anyone could have deposited the bag in my open, fenceless backyard and taken off.  I hoisted the bag onto my shoulder and brought it inside.

On the dining room floor, I started unpacking the bag.  Most of the papers turned out to be photographs, although there were some letters and even bills.  As I emptied the bag, I found jewelry, trinkets.  Why would someone leave all this in my backyard?

My mind raced.  Was someone trying to leave an old life behind by burying the bag and its memories in my backyard?  Or was the bag dumped in my backyard by thieves?  What if someone had been kidnapped, and her memories had been flung into my yard from the getaway car?

The bills and the letters were addressed to the same person, so I immediately stated a search.  The phone book yielded no results.  A quick search of the news and papers proved no kidnapping had occurred.  I called the police.  They had no news but took note of my finding.  I began to calm down.

Nothing in the bag was really valuable.  The bills were old.  The jewelry and the trinkets were worthless.  The photos could all depict bad memories, the kind a person might like to forget when moving to a new city.  The innocence of it all overtook me.

I packed everything back into the bag and put it in my hall closet.  I continued to search for the owner of the bag for many years without any luck.  I like to think that she is far away, living a happier life, unencumbered by her past.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Writing Update 4/12/15


Time for Round 2
This round, my goal is to start a daily writing practice.  I am starting by completing Blogging University's Writing 101 through The Daily Post.  I will be posting on my blog daily using the prompt and twist provided.  I will also be continuing to work on my reading goal of 30 books this year.

This round of ROW80 has just begun, so I don't want to sound too optimistic, but I am meeting my goals so far.  I have been writing every day, thanks to Blogging University's Writing 101.  I have even been sharing my writing on my blog which is something new for me.   

My reading has been going well too.  The number of books I was reading had slowed way down, but all of a sudden, I am reading again and dealing with my usual problem of having too many books checked out at once.  I'm loving it!

Here's hoping that I continue to make progress on my goals as the round continues.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Stuck in my Head: Music Lost (Writing 101, Day 4)

Today’s Prompt: Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more.
Today’s twist: Make today’s post the first in a three-post series.

Today I have decided to take the twist a little bit further.  Instead of making this a three-post series, I am making this a weekly serial post on my blog.  I enjoyed the Day 3 Prompt so much that I have decided to post about music on a weekly basis.  Today I am posting about music that I have lost over the years.  
"Gepetto" by Belly
I remember when my cousin gave me a dubbed copy of his Belly tape.  It was a transparent cassette with yellow stickers.  I listened to that cassette all the time.  I loved it.  I knew the words to every single song.  Belly were an instant favorite.  But somewhere along the way, I lost that cassette tape.  I haven't heard Belly in a very long time but this song brings back memories of listening to music with my cousin in his kitchen.  I remember one time he even tried to teach me how to dance to different types of music.  
"Fisherman's Blues" by The Waterboys
The last time I heard The Waterboys was at Irish Fest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  I remember how surprised I was that they would be performing.  I was even more surprised when I saw how many people showed up to listen to them and when I realized how many people were familiar with their music.  I, personally, had almost forgotten about The Waterboys at that point in my life but I quickly found that all the lyrics to all the songs were still floating around in my brain.  This song was always one of my favorites.
video
"Happy Hour"  by The Housemartins
Another lost cassette tape.  I have moved around a lot and my huge collection of tapes got smaller and smaller with each big move.  This song was on a double cassette from the Now That's What I Call Music series from the 80s.  I had never been a big fan of The Housemartins but I always liked how upbeat this song is.  It's also a good reminder to stay away from drinks with the boss or, oftentimes, coworkers.  And how adorably dorky are these guys??

Do you have songs that you loved but that you never hear anymore?

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Importance of Music: Writing 101, Day 3

Today’s Prompt: Write about the three most important songs in your life — what do they mean to you?
Today’s twist: You’ll commit to a writing practice.
"Cure for Pain"  by Morphine
During my senior year of high school and freshman year of college, I spent a lot of time at a local coffee shop named Lava Java.  That is where I was first introduced to Morphine (the band, not the drug) and the song "Cure for Pain".  The song still takes me back to that place and time.  Lava Java was my version of the bar in Cheers.  I met a lot of interesting people there, including my husband.  The coffee shop had bar seating, which made it easy to go there alone and to meet new people.  There were couches and comfy chairs.  The art was always interesting, and one show in particular drew outrage from the local church.  They especially hated the life-size photograph of a nude woman doing a headstand that hung right by the front window.  One of the co-owners was always grumpy and even instituted Mandatory Tip Night.  In fact, his grumpiness helped me to meet my future husband when the owner kicked a group of us out of the cafe because we were laughing too hard.  I read my first poem publicly in Lava Java.  I later went to see Morphine live.  A.May.Zing.  Unfortunately the lead singer died, so the band no longer exits.
"Desesperada" por Marta Sánchez
This song takes me back to my student exchange to Chile.  I made some amazing friends there, and this song was the bees knees.  I seem to remember my friends and I making a video of ourselves singing this song together, but I have never been able to view that videotape and now I no longer even know where it is.  Well, it might be better if proof of that incident were lost forever anyway.  I learned all the lyrics to that song, even though I spoke very little Spanish.  By the end of my six months in Chile, I was pretty much fluent in Spanish and I cried and cried when my parents made me come home.  Oh how I wanted to stay.  Now I am a Spanish teacher and I listen to music in Spanish on a daily basis at work.  Who knew one little song could lead to a career?
"Missing You" by Christy Moore
Christy Moore.  Anytime I hear him, he takes me back to my childhood and my birth country, Ireland.  My mom made Irish soda bread for Christy Moore once.  He performed a concert in my village and he had very specific backstage request, one of which was homemade brown bread.  So cool.  "Missing You" is an especially powerful song for me because it's all about emigration, and my family is still dealing with emigration.  My cousins live in many different countries:  Canada, U.S.A., England, Germany, Australia.  I have friends and family all around the world because jobs are scarce in Ireland.  This is one of the few songs that can make me cry.

Reflection on Day 3:  This was a really easy post to write.  I thought I would have a hard time thinking of important songs, but they just came to me.  Fun prompt.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

2015 What I'm Reading #5


Time for Round 2
This round, my goal is to start a daily writing practice.  I am starting by completing Blogging University's Writing 101 through The Daily Post.  I will be posting on my blog daily using the prompt and twist provided.  I will also be continuing to work on my reading goal of 30 books this year.

Here is a glimpse at my e-library bookshelf:



I just started Wicked by Gregory Maguire, and next on my list is The Night Circus.

I've also been reading a lot of interesting blogs.  Here is one post that I found particularly interesting and useful:
An interesting blogpost about how to write a negative review on Lost in Literature


What are you reading this week?

A Room With a View: Writing 101, Day 2

Today’s Prompt: If you could zoom through space in the speed of light, what place would you go to right now?

Today’s twist: organize your post around the description of a setting.

Our blue and yellow tent sits amongst the trees near an almost-dry streambed.  The mosquitoes have awakened and they swarm me furiously until I locate my Deet bug spray and send them searching for another prey.  We begin the walk along the narrow forest path, over roots and rocks, around the other tents and people.  The dusty pathway leads us to a vast meadow.  The grass is lush and soft beneath my feet.  Ghosts of summer swarm the meadow; they tumble, juggle, toss frisbees, salute the sun through a series of yoga poses.

As we exit the meadow, the dusty path begins again.  It leads us through the trees and between the rows of abandoned storefronts, a summer marketplace that blends into the woods, not yet in business.  We climb to the upper level of the closest booth and look out across the dusty stillness.  The emptiness and stillness belie the crowds that will fill the site in mid-July, but there is a spark in the air that promises magic.

We kick up dust as we walk the path alongside the river.  The banks of the river are lush and green, yet the dry and dusty path makes to hard to believe that the river floods this site every year, drowning the dust and trees, submerging the meadow and shops, completing a natural cycle that has repeated itself over the centuries.

We approach a wooden platform flanked by rows of worn wooden benches.  Ghosts of acrobats tumble and dance across the stage.  A strange music wafts in.  I sit and sift through the memories of years past.

Reflection on Day 2:  Half way through this post, I almost gave up.  My self-doubt almost stopped my writing.  Maybe that is why I have such a difficult time completing a story.  My self-doubt creeps in and decides that it is not worth finishing.  I had to fight the doubt in order to finish this piece.  I'm still not sure if I like it.