Thursday, December 29, 2005

Confessions of an Ex-Girlfriend by Lynda Curnyn

Title: Confessions of an Ex-Girlfriend

Author: Lynda Curnyn

Genre: Chick Lit

Summary: Ex-girlfriend Emma Carter lists the truths about being an ex while trying to figure out what went wrong, what went right and how to be single in New York City.

The Take-Away: Even though this is set in New York, it would have been possible to imagine most of the scenes taking place right here in Oshkosh. Emma shops, but not at the brand name stores; who can actually afford that stuff? She parties, but the bars weren't different than what I would find around her.

I really enjoyed this sense of "anywhere" rather than "It's New York." Most novels in this rapidly expanding genre are so busy showing the glamorous side of things that they overlook the every day things. Emma Carter fills that hole.

Recommendation: Borrow it from the library, but don't let your dog chew on the cover. (It costs $12.95 to replace.)

The Dangers of Reviews

I had reviewed Riddles of Epsilon by Christine Morton-Shaw in September 2005. A couple of days ago, Ms Morton-Shaw found my review and left a comment.

No, I don't know why the comment count says zero. It must be something with the various tricks I've played. It works on the new entries.

I was thrilled to hear from her, especially as she offered some insight into the diary format she chose to tell her tale in. I had found it unrealistic as I was and am a journaller. But as she points out in her comment, the pacing would have been drastically effected if she had held true to the style of a journaller.

Her next novel, entitled The Hunt for the Seventh, is feverishly being penned at this moment. In between taking care of six kids.

I can't wait for it's release.

Oh, and by the by, if you do read my review, it got screwy because of the recoding I did to the site in late October. Sorry about that.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Split Second by David Baldacci

Title: Split Second

Author: David Baldacci

Genre: Mystery

Summary: An ex-CIA is tangled in the mystery surrounding the kidnapping of a sure-to-lose presidential canidate and the agent assigned to protect him.

The Take-Away: Mr. Baldacci's books are always packed with excitement and action. Seldom is it over the top or unbelievable. This is one author who knows how to keep unrealistic events connected in a cohert fashion. The sequel, Hour Game, keeps Sean and Michelle going into another case, just as deadly and just as thrilling.

Recommendation: Buy the two of them and start a collection. Then go to Mr. Baldacci's site and get an autograph sent to your house to stick in the front cover of your copy.

Crapometer Update

UPDATE: Mine's there now. Ouch. But then again, there is truth to it.

My comments to hers. If you haven't read at least the comments Miss Snark made then this won't make sense.

She is absolutely correct in that the events are bogged down. The first four paragraphs are actually the first five pages and a prologue. A prologue that I'm not sure should be part of it.

To meet the word requirement, I cut about 100 words. Some of those words indicated that time passed. Stupid, really, to leave that bit out.

Jo doesn't come through as the character I intend her to be. Obviously I have somethings to fix in the synopsis to show that. Her drinking problem is pretty bad, actually, to the point where she has black outs and doesn't remember events from the night before. I think Emily is correct to lecture her, but she might be sounding harsher than she required here, I'm not sure.

The teen center as Alex sees it is how I've portrayed it and that's exactly what needs to be fixed. It needs to be a Starbucks, as Miss Snark says. I'm missing the bit where Jo helps Alex realize why it isn't working and what he needs to fix it.

When I submitted this, I had reservations. I wrote it as part of an outlining process called the Snowflake Method. I'm not actually done with the book; writing a one page synopsis is Step Four. I have about 60 pages written (22,000 words) and the first 50 pages are with my crit group now. When we meet next, I'm bringing Miss Snark's review (for those who are not wise enough to read her blog already) and ask if her comments hold true for the manuscript.

Even though the review is scathing, I can see what is working and what isn't as far as my synopsis, and others. It's a great perspective on the industry. I'm eternally grateful that she is taking the time to do this.

The other reason for the chipper outlook is that if it was truly heinous, she would have mentioned aliens in Chapter 14 or given it an effective pass with few comments. The fact that it was worthy of as many comments as it has means that something must have worked that it was worth the time to comment.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Kwanzaa : M-W's Word of the Day

The Word of the Day for December 26 is:

Kwanzaa \KWAHN-zuh\ noun

: an African-American cultural festival held from December 26 to January 1

Example sentence:

A joyous family spirit pervaded the Allen family's Kwanzaa celebration as three generations came together for a delightful meal and a beautiful candle-lighting ceremony.

Did you know?

In 1966, Maulana Karenga, a Black-studies professor at California State University at Long Beach, created a new holiday patterned after traditional African harvest festivals. He called it 'Kwanzaa,' a name he took from a Swahili term that means 'first fruits.' The holiday, which takes place from December 26th to January 1st, was originally intended as a nonreligious celebration of family and social values. Each day of Kwanzaa is dedicated to one of seven principles: unity, self-determination, collective responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith."

And now you know.

Everyone Else's Girl by Megan Crane

Title: Everyone Else's Girl

Author: Megan Crane

Genre: Chick Lit

Summary: An unexpected accident forces Meredith McKay to take a critical look at her life. After her father breaks his leg in a car accident, Megan stays home to take care of him. Being in her hometown after a long hiatus brings past relationships and family issues up close and person and Megan has to face some uncomfortable truths.

The Take-Away: Based on the title, I expected Meredith as the main character to be bending over backwards to do whatever it takes to make someone else happy. Instead she comes off as the "Good Girl" always doing what is right. Perhaps the distinction line between them is fine. Perhaps my expectations and the piece were too far apart. Whatever the reason, the title didn't jive with the output for me.

But Meredith is forced into evaluating what she has done with her life, the way she has treated people and what her expectations are. She takes an honest look at herself and discovers that she is wanting. The appropriate measures are taken and she strives to make the transition.

Recommendation: Keep an eye out for more Megan Crane books. I liked her style and the steps she took for the character's self discovery.


Miss Snark has started reviewing the synopses, one by one, with her comments. As expected, there are both good and bad.

Mine's not there yet and I will reveal which it is when it appears.

UPDATE: Mine's there now. Ouch. But then again, there is truth to it.

My comments to hers are in a new post.

Congratulations are in Order

Every bloggers' dream come true

The Friday Project secures publishing rights to London Ambulance Service blogger, 'Random Acts of Reality'

The Friday Project is delighted to announce that it has secured the rights to 'Random Acts of Reality', a book based on the acclaimed online diary of London-based Emergency Medical Technician (E.M.T.), Tom Reynolds.

Tom began working as a nurse for the NHS at the age of 23. He worked in four hospitals but moved to the London Ambulance Service after realising that working in A&E was making him 'want to torture patients'. Now, as an E.M.T., he has finally found his true calling - so much so that he has stopped torturing 'all but the congenitally obnoxious... and drunks.'

Since 2003, Tom has kept an online diary (or 'weblog', or even 'blog'), candidly recording every aspect of his daily working life. From the tragic to the hilarious, from the heartwarming to the terrifying, the stories Tom tells give a fascinating - and at times alarming - picture of life in inner-city Britain, and the people who are paid to mop up after it.

Tom was also kind enough to answer some questions from his readers.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Bride Needs a Groom by Wendy Markham

Title: Bride Needs Groom

Author: Wendy Markham

Genre: Chick Lit

Summary: In order to inherit her grandfather's lottery winnings, Mia must be married before her grandfather's 85th birthday. Just like any modern woman, she finds one online. Except that on her way for their first face to face meeting (and their wedding day) she meets someone that is much more interesting. Afterall, it would be a marriage in name only. Now she just needs to convince him of it.

The Take-Away: Easy to read, somewhat entertaining. The whole marrying for inheritance works because Mia is sweet and I wanted good things for her. Until she comes home and has to face Grandpa Junie. Then all believability falls apart.

Ms Markham (a pen name, by the way) makes extensive use of flash back for both Mia and her emergency husband, Derrick. The scenes were meant to develop character, I think. It didn't work for me. They should have been tossed on the cutting room floor.

Recommendation: Ms Markham also writes murder mysteries. I'm betting that she does these better. I'd try one of those before I'd try another one of her chick lit novels.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Trial Run

Miss Snark has opened up the Crapometer to Synopsis. I've braved the snarky waters and thrown my pitch. I'm quaking and won't be able to stand myself until she finishes posting everything she is going to. See her post for details, if interested.

Or watch her site for my work.

Night Tales by Nora Roberts

Title: Night Tales (2 in 1)

Author: Nora Roberts

Genre: Romance

Summary: Fighting bad guys, kissing girls and rescuing anyone in distress -- all the prerequisites for any Harlequin or Silhouette title.

The Take-Away: This was previously published under the Silhouette series, but Ms Roberts is beginning to show the style and voice of her current works. The exploration of multiple books based on the same set of character has started in this 2 in 1 novel also.

Recommendation: Worth while to read, but borrow it from a friend or the library.

To Die For by Linda Howard

Title: To Die For

Author: Linda Howard

Genre: Mystery

Summary: A local gym owner becomes the target of the killer who murdered a member who has too many enemies.

The Take-Away: Between the cover and the backcover copy, I expected something like Tami Hoag or Patricia Cromwell. What I got was closer to Janet Evanovich but with plot holes that had been patched with easy solutions.

The story was easy to read, the dialogue between love interests showed that they were indeed love interests, but too many times the plot was contrived. For instance, Blair Mallory, the owner of the gym, has a past relationship with the lead investigator, Wyatt Bloodsworth. They went on two dates. Two years ago. Yet, Blair continues to resent him for not calling her back. Once I got over my skepticism that anyone would feel that way after two dates two years later, the dialogue showed that there was the typical attraction often found in romance books.

One review said "One can only hope Linda Howard hasn't permanently departed from her usually engrossing mysteries for something this fluffy, frivolous, and flawed. S.J.H. © AudioFile 2005, Portland, Maine" It wasn't enough to convince me that I should read another.

Recommendation: Pass, unless you really like light weight murder mysteries with one too many easy solutions.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

How Much is Too Much?

Tom Reynolds posted a site that will let you know how much is too much.

Just in case you wondered if you were becoming an alcoholic during the stress wonder of the Christmas season.

Trick of the Eye by Jane Stanton Hitchcock

Title: Trick of the Eye

Author: Jane Stanton Hitchcock

Genre: Fiction

Summary: The daughter of a prominent New York family was found dead shortly after her debutante cotillion took place. The building remained locked until a trompe l'oeil artist is asked to decorate a ballroom that was used that night. The mystery surrounding the death intriques Faith Crowell, the artist, and she begins to investigate. She finds out that she isn't the only interested in the solving the murder.

The Take-Away: A real nail biter. The suspense was fantastic. Things seemed off and I knew I should be looking for clues, but they were so cleverly planted that I didn't see them until the end when Frances Griffin reveals her true reasons for commisioning the piece.

Recommendation: Wait until summer and read it during a thunderstorm. Then run out and get Social Crimes, Ms Hitchcock's second novel.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

A Living Will Is Important To Relationships

A man and his wife were sitting in the living room and he said to her, "Just so you know, I never want to live in a vegetative state, dependent on some machine and fluids from a bottle. If that ever happens, just pull the plug."

His wife got up, unplugged the TV and threw out all of his beer.

I can honestly say that mine isn't like that, but he still has his foibles. But then he'll do something completely wonderful and I forget about the faults.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

Title: The Red Tent

Author: Anita Diamant

Genre: Historical

Summary: The story of Dinah is included in the larger picture of Jacob and his wives Leah, Rebecca and their handmaidens.

The Take-Away: The culture beyond the Israelites is shown in the lives of the women, which were essentially separate from the men. In reading this book, I was able to interpret how the practices of the Canaanites were kept. It expands on the story while tying in the elements that are documented in the Bible and other places.

The book shows another side of these women who have an important role in the Bible. It gives them personality and brings them to life. The dynamics of the two wives are dealt with. The teraphim, or household gods of Laban, are explained. Motive is given to Rebecca taking them.

While this is a work of fiction, I appreciate the picture that Ms Diamant draws for her readers. On her website, Ms Diamant explain her thoughts and research for the book.

Recommendation: Read it and see what might have been.

Holly by Jude Deveraux

Title: Holly

Author: Jude Deveraux

Genre: Romance

Summary: Holly Latham searches for new old houses to rescue and finds herself being rescued instead by Nick Taggert.

What was Good: The dialogue and sparks between Holly and Nick are what longtime readers of Jude Deveraux love.

What wasn't: As with all too many of Jude's lastest books, plot holes are patched and the cracks show through the spackling.

The Take-Away: The first romances I ever read were by Jude Deveraux and I loved them. In fact, I'd pull out certain titles (Wishes, The Raider, River Lady) before I'd read a new one. I hoped that with the return of the Taggarts that things would have improved. Sadly, that was not the case.

Recommendation: Read it, but don't expect the best from her.

Monday, December 19, 2005

The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette by Carrolly Erickson

Title: The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette

Author: Carrolly Erickson

Genre: Historical

Summary: The innermost thoughts of a teenage Marie Antoinette are recorded up through the days before her death.

What was Good: The remarks are playful, cheery and wondering, just as any woman's would be. The pain and suffering that she went through as a mother and a queen is recorded, along with the temptation to have affairs. Other concerns of the time and day are protrayed in a realistic manner. Setting the fashion for France and the constant remodelling occupied many of her hours. Even though she understood that all of those things cost money, Marie never associated them with the poverty or increasing taxes of the nation.

What wasn't: Light and fluffy. I expected a "heavier" reading such as I've found with novels about Elizabeth I or Mary, Queen of Scots.

The Take-Away: It works as an introduction in to the life and times of Marie Antoinette, but don't expect any dense scholarly discuss afterwards. Also, if you borrow this book from the Oshkosh Public Library, my apologies for the lack of dust cover and slightly chewed upon spine. It's a long story.

Recommendation: Placing it on your reading list makes you look thoughtful and scholarly.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Making Minimum Wage

Starting Over would be challenging for anyone, but what if you had to exist on a minimum wage job? One reporter took the plunge to see what it would be like.

I'm three weeks into a monthlong project aimed at showing what life is like for people starting over in Passaic County: the thousands of new immigrants who arrive each year, or people who've lost jobs. What kind of work and housing exist for those who need both, fast? This is my assignment: Find a job and a place to live and write about the experience.

Last year, 85,069 Passaic County residents - 17 percent of the county's population - lived below the federal poverty line, as compared with 722,300 - 8.5 percent — statewide. Legal Services of New Jersey's Poverty Research Institute estimates that a single person living in Passaic County needs to make $9.64 an hour to meet all his or her needs. Can I do that?


I kept a job and a roof over my head and my belly mostly full - a life of minimalist survival. I couldn't have supported a child or taken a vacation, a day off or a sick day. To do better, I'd need to do what so many, like Julio, do: work a second job. An illness or work slowdown could have plunged me into homelessness.

At the office, I put my bags down and hug my colleagues. In the weeks ahead, I'll find I'm still scraping by at the paper, but it's different than temping in Passaic. I can eat when I want to, see my girlfriend and friends, talk to my co-workers instead of laboring in silence. I feel connected to the world, and that makes a huge difference.

Every so often I'll hear what a person needs to be making an hour just to pay for rent and basics. Seldom is it minimum wage. Yet, if they raise minimum wages, I don't get a raise to compensate.

The other thing I'd like to know is how many of those minimum wage workers are teenagers? Before Congress raises the minimum wage laws, I hope that they look at that statistic also. If 50% or more are under the age of 18, we really don't need to have minimum wage raised. The 19 and above set need to take advantage of existing programs to train for better jobs.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married by Marian Keyes

Title: Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married

Author: Marian Keyes

Genre: Chick Lit

Summary: After a trip to a fortune teller, Lucy Sullivan finds out that she is getting married in one year's time. When the prophecies of her three office mates come true, Lucy begins to think that Gus might be The One.

What was Good: Good dialogue. Funny characters. Lucy is the sort of worker that everyone knows. Most days it's an effort even to turn her computer on. It is so much easier to gossip with her co-workers about her romantic life.

What wasn't: Predictable. The guy who you think she ends up with is the one she ends ups with. Except that I realized it when the page numbering was in the 20s and it didn't end until page 440.

The Take-Away: What is up with the Irish and going to fortune tellers? Every Irish author I've read has at least one of their characters headed to the fortune teller for a 30 pound or more reading.

Recommendation: It's sweet, but Ms Keyes is still developing her skills in this book.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

More Defenders of Freedom of Speech

UW-Eau Claire: Ban on RAs Leading Bible Studies is the lastest freedom of speech case I've seen. Actually, I heard it on the radio this morning. I'm eternally grateful that people are getting lawyers and defending themselves.

The real fun is that they can't say anything about his job, because even RAs get time off. They can't say anything about it being in the dorm, because it's where he lives.

Is it just me, or is anyone else getting fed up with being told what to do and how to do it? And then people have the audacity to wonder where the Edisons, the Franklins and the Rockfellers are. It is impossible to graduate from high school or college and become a free thinker. Free thinking needs to be nurtured and developed in school.

Launching kids into the work force with the expectation to "figure it out" doesn't work when they've been spoon-fed instructions their whole lives.

Meeting an Old Friend

Almost everyone I went to college with has scattered to the four corners of this nation. All save two who live in the Fox Valley, but I seldom see. Life with kids is busier than anything I've ever done before basically because they are always there and are too short to get anything for themselves.

A week or so ago I made an appointment to see Matt, who I've neglected since a mutual friend's wedding about five years ago. I say appointment as he now sells a variety of insurance and financial services.

I came about /this/ close to cancelling the appointment. Simply put, I was scared. The reasons were similar to the ones in this post, but slightly different. I know that I'm not the same outspoken girl that I was. I'd like to think that I've changed into a mature woman who respects the opinions of others, but the truth of it is, I'm too tired to have discussions and arguments like I used to. One, it would require me to keep up with current events. Two, it would require me to use logical thought and planning. I do that at work all day.

Truth be told, I have changed so much that I feared Matt would wonder why we were friends.

I'm not sure how he viewed me after a five year lapse, but I saw confidence oozing from him as I've never seen before. The same habits of tallking outloud during self-correction and asking insightful questions were there, but back by this amazing level of confidence. I took it to mean that he has truly found a career he enjoys and has good things going on in his personal life.

Now that we've narrowed that gap some, I'm hoping that we can keep up a little better at least. Any of my college friends will state that I'm terrible at correspondence and I would agree. But somethings are too important to let go or read about in a blog.

Meeting an Old Friend

Almost everyone I went to college with has scattered to the four corners of this nation. All save two who live in the Fox Valley, but I seldom see. Life with kids is busier than anything I've ever done before basically because they are always there and are too short to get anything for themselves.

A week or so ago I made an appointment to see Matt, who I've neglected since a mutual friend's wedding about five years ago. I say appointment as he now sells a variety of insurance and financial services.

I came about /this/ close to cancelling the appointment. Simply put, I was scared. The reasons were similar to the ones in this post, but slightly different. I know that I'm not the same outspoken girl that I was. I'd like to think that I've changed into a mature woman who respects the opinions of others, but the truth of it is, I'm too tired to have discussions and arguments like I used to. One, it would require me to keep up with current events. Two, it would require me to use logical thought and planning. I do that at work all day.

Truth be told, I have changed so much that I feared Matt would wonder why we were friends.

I'm not sure how he viewed me after a five year lapse, but I saw confidence oozing from him as I've never seen before. The same habits of tallking outloud during self-correction and asking insightful questions were there, but back by this amazing level of confidence. I took it to mean that he has truly found a career he enjoys and has good things going on in his personal life.

Now that we've narrowed that gap some, I'm hoping that we can keep up a little better at least. Any of my college friends will state that I'm terrible at correspondence and I would agree. But somethings are too important to let go or read about in a blog.

Everyone Worth Knowing by Lauren Weisberger

Title: Everyone Worth Knowing

Author: Lauren Weisberger

Genre: Chick Lit

Summary: An investment banker decides to take a major professional detour. After quitting her job and wallowing for a few weeks, she works for a PR firm planning parties and living the life that every girl would die for - except her.

What was Good: A keen sense of fashion and Brown education keeps the novel moving. The descriptions of the people and the parties make me glad that I have such a quiet life here in Oshkosh.

What wasn't: Ms Weisberger relied on the same themes that made The Devil Wears Prada fun. Except that they are the same themes with only slightly new twists. Girl has job any girl would die for. Girl doesn't like job. Girl quits during a big party. Girl gets the boy.

It wasn't bad, but it just wasn't spectacular either. I never got why the dating of a super hot famous, good for the PR company's PR was a sore point for the MC or the MC's boss. The relationship was drug through the tabloids, but it didn't seem that bad, more like annoying.

The Take-Away: Even though the themes were repitious, it was an entertain read and enlightening look at the way .05% of the US population lives.

Recommendation: Read it for a break inbetween weightier volumes such as The Great Gatsby and Atlas Shrugged.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Book of Dead Days by Marcus Sedgwick

Title: Book of Dead Days

Author: Marcus Sedgwick

Genre: Fantasy

Summary: Between Christmas and New's Years lie Dead Days, when things happen that no one ever expects. A magician has a secret that he needs Boy (who has no other name) to unlock for him. Along with the help of Willow, the magician's secret is discovered and life changes its course.

What was Good: The setting is fantastic. From the beginning, the story needs to be solved in five days. Mr. Sedgwick increases the sense of urgency through Boy's acceptance of everything that happens to him and Willow's ubiquitous questions. It's meant for kids, but I'd read it again. Perfectly scary with good breaking points for those who can't stay under the covers with the flashlight to read it.

What wasn't: Boy is so complacent and so understanding that I wanted to shake him and tell him that people don't need to be treated as he was. Which of course, is the role Willow has. But she isn't effective at it. I wanted to do it myself.

The Take-Away: The sequel The Dark Flight Down is on my list of books to read.

Recommendation: Read it at night, when the wind is blowing the branches against the living room window. It will scare you (if you have an overactive imagination and are 13.)

Midnight Rain by Holly Lisle

Title: Midnight Rain

Author: Holly Lisle

Genre: Fiction

Summary: A telephone operator for a psychic hotline is terrified that her abusive husband has found her.

What was Good: The paranormal elements were used to support the idea that the husband is really in a coma and haunting Phoebe anyway. It was freaky and had me suspending my disbelief longer than I normally would.

What wasn't: I didn't always get why the characters were attracted to one another. It seems more like the circumstances rather than something real.

The Take-Away: I plan on reading more books by Holly Lisle but not in any particular order or hurry.

Recommendation: Borrow it from the library and read it during the day.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Does Oshkosh Blog?

Here is a listing of my efforts to find more bloggers in and around Oshkosh. This is by no means a conclusive listing.

These appear to be abandoned (at the time I checked them)

Perhaps Stew will expand some of his efforts for the Northwestern Site

Friday, December 09, 2005

Snow Days

I posted this last year, but it bears repeating. (Besides, my readership has gone up since then and you probably didn't see it.)

Making paper snowflakes is fun, but making snowflakes online is better. No little cuts to pick-up and it even comes with an undo button.

I made two last year. You can search for them and see what I made.


Character Workshop

Holly Lisle is writing a Creating Characters book. Since hers are always fabulous, this should be a good workshop. The plan is to make it available as an e-book via her website in January 2006.

I’m doing the book as an intensive clinic, meaning you’ll be able to use it either to strengthen characters you’ve already written, or to create new characters from scratch. I’ll include (as I have it outlined right now) techniques I use for developing seven critical areas in each of my characters; essential questions in each area that I ask to get my characters to live for me; examples of how I’ve put each area into practice in my own work; exercises that will teach you to use and refine these techniques in your own work; and finally, the techniques I use to connect characters to each other both on the surface and in hidden ways that permit me to achieve a lot of the surprise twists that exist in my work, with exercises that will teach you how to do that, too.

Holly has added a Introduction teaser here and a Chapter One teaser here. It's going on my Christmas list.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Scary Information

I heard about United States vs. Deborah Davis during NaNo and didn't have time to post about it. Here's the highlights, but go to the site and read the whole story for yourself.

One morning in late September 2005, Deb was riding the public bus to work. She was minding her own business, reading a book and planning for work, when a security guard got on this public bus and demanded that every passenger show their ID. Deb, having done nothing wrong, declined. The guard called in federal cops, and she was arrested and charged with federal criminal misdemeanors after refusing to show ID on demand.

On the 9th of December 2005, Deborah Davis will be arraigned in U.S. District Court in a case that will determine whether Deb and the rest of us live in a free society, or in a country where we must show "papers" whenever a cop demands them.

The next came from Every Day Editor who picked up a Milwaukee Journal article about a Marquette student.

A dental student at Marquette University has been suspended for the rest of the academic year and ordered to repeat a semester after a committee of professors, administrators and students determined that he violated professional conduct codes when he posted negative comments about unnamed students and professors on a blog.


In addition to informing the student of his suspension and his need to repeat his fall semester, which costs $14,000 in tuition, [Denis] Lynch [the dental school's associate dean for academic affairs] threatened the student with expulsion if he continued to post material on "any blog sites that contain crude, demeaning and unprofessional remarks."


The student admits that some of the entries were "imprudent, immature or crude," Taylor said, but he denies that they constitute misconduct.


What bothers [Scott] Taylor [the unnamed student's lawyer] and others is what they call vagueness of Marquette's codes of conduct and the decision to apply them in this case. The dental school's code requires students "to conduct interactions with each other, with patients and with others in a manner that promotes understanding and trust" and condemns "actions, which in any way discriminate against or favor any group or are harassing in nature."

To read the whole article, avoid registration by using A password and registration name is given so you don't have more junk mail.

Shock and outrage are not strong enough words to express what I feel. Thank God these violations of basic rights are being reported, not only by newspapers, but by bloggers. I really hope that the Marquette student gets some air time on one of the local news stations.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

A New Look at Temptation

I don't know the whole story behind Neil Gaiman posting these lyricks, but I like them nonetheless.

Just Me & Eve

She pushes through the bushes, she's the apple of my eye,
She's got her finger on the pinnacle, she's naked as a sigh,
And there's a serpent in the turpentine, it's lurking in the leaves,
And this is it:
It's just me and Eve...

Well I say, Madam, she says Adam, she says, simply take a nibble
It's no intertribal libel, neither question it nor quibble,
And to follow she'll extol it in a low recitative,
And this is it:
It's just me and Eve

She polishes it up till it glows.
It's the pippin with the pip of a rose.
She'll dissolve my harmless qualms with a song.
She says it's just a little apple what could possibly go wrong?

By now the viper's getting riper, and it hisses out, now listen
All that glisters isn't golden, but who says it's gonna glisten?
And it adds (it was an adder) it would hurt it to deceive --
So this is it
It's just me and Eve

She said, Adam, I said, Madam, Now your yen for horticulture
Took the pardon from our garden (home to vampire, vole and vulture),
She was naked that's a given but she'd something up her sleeve
And this was it: it's just me and Eve

Well I took the apple out of her hand,
It was red and green and utterly grand,
And Eve she started singing along,
She says, it's just a little apple what could possibly go wrong?

So I took it with a look that said I'm puzzled but acceding,
And I took a final look around the nook we call our eden,
She says, Me or the big G babe, who you going to believe?
And that was it: it's just me and Eve

There was fire in the air all around,
And everybody fell to the ground.
An angel started banging a gong
I said, it's just a little apple is that possibly so wrong?

So we wind up on the outside that's the downside of our dinner,
Was i truly that unruly or original a sinner?
So we grizzle in the drizzle, with no hope of a reprieve
And this is it
It's just me and Eve

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Book Review VII

Title: The Reading Group

Author: Elizabeth Noble

Genre: Chick Lit

Summary: A group of women confront the challenges life presents to them

What was Good: Each of the women are at different ages, thus the challenges are different. The friendships don't stretch across the board either, so not all of them have an intimate answer for the other.

What wasn't: Because there were six women, it was difficult to get a grip at first on the problems and personalities. The index provided at the front should have been a tear-out for quick reference.

The Take-Away: Very much like watching a movie with lots of action and good dialogue.

Recommendation: Read it, but assign the characters to the roles of the women in your own life. Or recognize yourself in several different characters.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Book Review VI

Title: Across the Wall

Author: Garth Nix

Genre: Fantasy, Short Story Collection

Summary: A compilation of shorts published in various places by superb fantasy writer.

What was Good: I loved the short based on the title. The "rest of the story" between Nick Sayer and Lisrael is revealed.

Nix also provides an introduction for each piece the explains the how, where and why of its existence.

What wasn't: I really want more Old Kindgom stories and the one here just left me hanging for more.

The Take-Away: I'm glad I spent the time reading it. Nix shows excellent use of voice. It was inspiring to see how he has grown as a writer, in short bursts.

Recommendation: Check it out from the library and laugh at the introductions and Nix's modesty.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Bookworm Report, November 2005

My place holder in my template for these posts is "(chatty paragraph)". Today, however, I'm not feeling particularly chatty. In fact, I'm feeling down right nasty. Like I want to take a red pen to my lastest manuscript and start editing. Thankfully, this coincides with what I need to do next. I love it when life works out that way.

Bookworm Review
Year Pages Books
2001 5,139 19
2002 4,076 13
2003 2,448 7
2004 2,747 8
2005 3,410 10

For the year, I've read 105 books, or 38,610 pages, which averages to 10 books a month, or 3,510 pages per month, and an average book length of 386 pages.

Okay, the urge to be nasty is over. I'll calmly read and edit without making my manuscript bleed. Unless, of course it deserves it. In which case, I'll be ruthless. That inner editor was suppressed for the whole month of Novemember. It needs to come out some time. (wink)

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Truth and Confessions of Writing

Time for Truth and Confessions

I hate writing. I love the romance of writing.

Well, actually, that's not quite true either. I love writing when I don't have to think about it. Like in my journal. Or on this blog. God knows I post without re-read more days than not.

What I actually hate is knowing that my writing is lacking something. It lacks that punch that grabs your stomach, twists it in knots, and makes it real.

It lacks a confident author writing about what she fears.

I know this because I found a memoir that I did for the one and only creative writing class I've ever taken. The class required four submissions, one from each format structure we studied that semster, with one genre to spare.

I wrote a short story, a poem, and the memoir. The fourth piece was something I had written before taking the class and cheated by submitting it with minimal editing.

Dear god I just admitted to the entire internet that I cheated in a college level course. If that doesn't blow my cover, nothing will.

The memoir focuses on one tiny aspect of my life, as memoirs often do. Throughout my life, since kindergarten, I've known someone named Matthew. Tracking that name was the focus of the piece. As I re-read the words as submitted on October 28, 1999, I realized that I was an idiot for admitting that stuff.

And a coward because I wouldn't be so bold to do that today.

I intended to rewrite the piece to have critiqued by my writing group. I'm one of those "I promise to bring something someday" people. Someday last happened ages ago and is peeping around the corner at me. Again.

Ever since I cleaned files and found this memoir, I kept thinking, this was a decent piece at the time. I should look at it, spruce it up and bring it.

Dear god I just admitted to the entire internet that I haven't learned anything since college and I still cheat on my real writing assignments. That's it, my cover is blown.

As I read, it bothered me that the twenty-something that had the courage to write that and share it in a rather intimate college classroom setting, didn't make the transition to the almost thirty-something that I am now. Isn't the past part of us supposed to come along for the future?

As I read, it bothered me that I knew exactly what the Hammer, as we fondly call one member, would say. I propose truths, but give no evidence of truth. I tell the effect of a Matthew, but do not show what transpired.

As I read, it bothered me that I came across as a slut in one part, when, in fact, I was confused and nothing transpired because of my confusion.

As I read, it bothered me that I waited so long to admit that I was scared to write about my experiences truthfully. Instead, I drew upon the experiences of others to characterize the people who dwell in my head and seldom live on paper.

As I read, it bothered me that I might not actually be cut out to be a writer as I want to be.

I don't know if I'll share the piece at the next meeting. I don't know if I'll revise the piece with the intent to share. What I'd like to do is give voice to the part of me that had the courage to yell "LIAR" and figure out how to use that voice when writing to give life to those people dwelling in my head.

To write honestly.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

It's OVER!

Random Stats as I Think of Them
Year Days Spent Writing Average Words Per Day Final Count Most Words Written in One Day Least Words Written in One Day
2004 23 2,176 50,051 5,141 (Day 1) 600 (Day 5)
2005 25 2,014 50,338 5,052 (Day 1) 70 (Day 24)

I hereby solemnly promise that I will post regularly (at least once a day, Mondy through Friday,) have interesting and insightful things to say, and get caught up on my book reviews. If any of this doesn't sound good to you, then you can go read another blog.

At least, until next November (he he.)

NaNo Progress Table

No need to check your calendar. It's not November 30, yet. This is just my way of manipulating the calendar settings to keep this post at the top.

The following is a progress table of where I am, day by day, compared to where I was last year. November 1 fell on a Monday last year, as opposed to this year's Tuesday. Saturdays and Sundays are off by one day.

Following this entry, there will be random posts for your reading pleasure.

Excerpts of this year's NaNo can be found on my profile page, over on the NaNo site.

Daily Word Count
Day 2004 2005
1 5,141 5,052
2 2,410 1,877
3 2,506 2,644
4 1,563 1,448
5 600 0
6 1,245 990
7 0 2,398
8 2,874 2,268
9 1,452 2,412
10 1,535 2,606
11 0 2,445
12 2,687 2,408
13 3,020 826
14 0 4,155
15 3,069 1,034
16 1,877 484
17 748 0
18 2,607 2,901
19 906 2,777
20 863 1,414
21 747 1,970
22 2,965 0
23 2,373 541
24 1,827 70
25 0 1,811
26 0 1,205
27 0 0
28 0 1,335
29 4,960 2,972
30 2,076 0
Total 50,051 50,338

Accumulative Word Count
Day 2004 2005
1 5,141 5,052
2 7,551 6,929
3 10,057 9,573
4 11,620 11,015
5 12,220 11,015
6 13,465 12,011
7 13,465 14,409
8 16,339 16,677
9 17,791 19,089
10 19,326 21,695
11 19,326 24,140
12 22,013 26,548
13 25,033 27,374
14 25,033 31,529
15 28,102 32,563
16 29,979 33,047
17 30,727 33,047
18 33,334 35,948
19 34,240 38,725
20 35,103 40,139
21 35,850 42,109
22 38,815 42,109
23 41,188 42,650
24 43,015 42,720
25 43,015 44,531
26 43,015 46,031
27 43,015 46,031
28 43,015 47,366
29 47,975 50,338
30 50,051 50,338

By the by, this is the post that caused the template change that erased all of the paragraph breaks. I was using the 'enter' key rather than paragraph tags. But to have tables, I didn't want the 'enter' key conversion to line breaks nor did I want to hunt through horizontal lines of code to make it work. Basically, this is better for tables and closer to real coding.

Thoughts, prayers and good wishes are welcome for ensuring that the bottom line is over 50,000.

Monday, November 28, 2005


If I didn't feel like I would be cheating, I would be looking through my NaNo novel for all of the words I can uncontract from their contracted form so I could increase my word count. It would be a gain of 962 words.

Yes, I wasted 10 minutes figuring that out instead of cranking out 300 more words.

Book Review V

Title: Watermelon

Author: Marian Keyes

Genre: Chick Lit

Summary: After being deserted by husband minutes after the birth of their first child, Claire moves back to Dublin to recover in the circle of her family.

What was Good: The internal dialogue was great. Claire's reasons for any action, along with her paranoia had me laughing out loud.

What wasn't: The title. Other than a one-time reference to looking like a watermelon in a particular outfit shortly before she gave birth, I didn't see the revelance.

The Take-Away: As far as first novels go, this one is great. Marian Keyes shares an agent with Holly Lisle, at least, when this book was sold. Russ Galen should be commended for finding such a catch.

Recommendation: Read it and then kiss your husband for not being such a jerk.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Update on NaNo Progress

I've rolled over that crucial (for me) mark of >9,999 words to go. I was really upset that I didn't get more done yesterday. Every word is the mental equivalent of pulling teeth, without any good drugs. But today, when I started to update my table, I realized that I kicked more ass then I thought I did. So it was a good day. It just took me longer to realize it.

I'm seriously thinking about typing my novels instead of long handing them. I get so much more accomplished. I've found a way of carrying a laptop with me. Now I just need to convince Santa that I've been really nice this year.

Oshkosh was challenged by Santa Barbara and LA to see who's region could have the highest average word count per participant last weekend. LA whomped us with <7,000 words per typer on average. We (WI: Elsewhere) had 6,500 on average. Santa Barbara had 6,300. Next year, however, I've promised that we are going to beat LA. One participant had over 17,000 words. I still can't believe it. It was a great way to get word counts up.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Book Review IV

Title: Dragon Rider

Author: Cornelia Funke

Genre: Fantasy

Summary: As humans plan to flood the valley that is the shelter of the dragons, a brownie girl and dragon sent off to find the Rim of Heaven.

What was Good: A sweet story meant appropriate for 3rd or fourth graders. It introduces the well-known conventions of fantasy in easily understood ways.

What wasn't: Would not hold the attention of most adults. This is not a fantasy novel that appeals to multiple age levels.

The Take-Away: I probably wouldn't have finished this book except I think that my five-year-old will love it in a couple of years.

Recommendation: Read it at bedtime to your child for good dreams.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Book Review III

Title: The Patriots Club

Author: Christopher Reich

Genre: Fiction

Summary: A renegade member of a secret club attempts to impose his agenda on the nation.

What was Good: The idea of a secret club that runs the country is a favorite of conspiracy theorists. Mr. Reich gives this old idea new life with the premise that the club really does serve in the interest of the country and always has.

What wasn't: The girlfriend seems awfully accepting of everything that happens. I know I would have freaked out more. She wasn't believable in a few of the scenes.

The Take-Away: I kept thinking of Grisham's early work.

Recommendation: Read it, then check out more of his titles.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Sick Baby, Part II

Having a good child care provider is completely worth the amount of money spent on them. She has been completely fabulous with the baby this week, while dealing with the aftermath of their own tradegy.

Yesterday when I picked him up, she had been giving him cool baths inbetween ibuprophen. Wiping his runny nose. Cuddling when he didn't want to do anything that involved moving from the couch. Have I mentioned how much I love in home providers? At a center, I would have been called with in minutes and told to pick him up. Her opinion was that I needed to keep my vacation time for the fun days, not the taking care of sick kid days. I know that she loves him as much as we do.

After the fourth full day of this, we both knew it was more than just teething. I decided to take him to the doctor. As it turns out, he has an ear infection. Two doses of antibotics and he is (mostly) back to his normal self. This means he is bossy, asking for Halloween candy, and chasing the dogs around the house.

I decided to keep him home so he could rest. Little did I know how quickly amoxicillian works. Right now he is sleeping with Daddy, in the oldest's bed. It's been awhile since I last heard their voices and giggles, so I'm assuming that they are asleep.

I'm taking advantage of that fact and going to get ahead on my NaNo word count. I'd love to be done by the 29th and think I have a shot at it. Thanks for the well wishes, everyone, for both the baby and the writing.

Book Review II

Title: The Secret Lives of the Sushi Club

Author: Christy Yorke

Genre: Chick Lit

Summary: A member of the Sushi Club violated an unspoken rule and used the initimate details from the lives of club members as fodder for her lastest novel. The four women and family member take a white water rafting trip to pick up the pieces of their destroyed lives.

What was Good: I loved seeing how the varied personalities reacted to and resolved the betrayal. Each woman learned and healed from the experience. The story has depth that is not evident from my summary. Short spoilers, though, I can't point anything specific out.

What wasn't: This sounded like a chick lit novel. Parts of it where. Parts of it were women's lit. Seeing them side by side just didn't work for me.

The Take-Away: I'll probably read Ms Yorke's next novel too. Parts of this were wonderful, but others really left me hanging.

Recommendation: Put it on your list, but not a top-level priority.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Sick Baby

Nothing is worse as a parent then when your child is sick and you can't do a damned thing about it. It's nothing serious, but that is no comfort when he lays his little head against you and says, "Stay."

He is teething and gets new ones in very poorly. Every new tooth has been pure agony. The oldest would get new teeth and we'd never notice until he decided to use your arm for practice.

This one, however, throws up, doesn't eat, runs a low grade fever, gets a runny nose, the works. My heart cracks in two when I drop him off at daycare. That woman is a saint. She know it's his teeth and keeps him even though, technically, she should send him home simply because his temp is high. If you live in Oshkosh and are looking for a inhome childcare provider, I've got a fantastic one for you.

Part of me feels like the bad mommy who doesn't stay home with him. Part of me feels like he is being taken care of as well or better than I would. After all, if he feels better, there's all those kids to play with. And that's so much better than playing with Mommy.

Hope you feel better soon, baby.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Book Review I

Title: The Seventh Tower: The Fall

Author: Garth Nix

Genre: Fantasy

Summary: A boy needs to find a primary sunstone to secure his family's place among the Choosen.

What was Good: The book is intended for a young audience. The fantasy archeotypes are easily identified, but with their own personalities that are not easily recognized from other series.

What wasn't: The first chapter is a scene that actually takes place near the middle of the book. While it throws action at the reader immediately, none of the world's rules are known. It could be confusing to someone unfamiliar with this genre.

The Take-Away: It really is meant for young readers, fourth or fifth grade. The novel is slim (less than 200 pages) and the ending makes you hungry for the next one.

Recommendation: Read it with your child while waiting for the next Potter novel.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Shorts or Novels?

One answer to the short story vs. novel conundrum, via Miss Snark. Remember, the source is part of the answer too.

A while back I considered short stories as a way to get publishing credits. But when I started looking at the markets... Gulp. It was information overload. Trying to fathom which publications would carry weight (yet might realistically still publish my writing) and which were a wash out, started consuming ALL my fret time.

I decided to concentrate on finishing the damn book instead. Recently the idea of writing short stories stirred again. Any suggestions on where to find a concise list of reputable short story markets?

And while we're on the topic of short stories, let me use some fret time to ask IF they do get published what are the chances of selling them as part of an anthology down the line or is new work the buzz for new writers?

There are all sorts of places that publish short fiction. Writer's Market publishes lists of them I think. But, pick up a copy of "Best of -insert category here-" the anthologies published at the end of the year. Best American Short stories, Best crime writing, best sports stories, etc.

Look in the back. There's a list of where the winners were first published, and more important a list of where the top 100 were first published. Yes, there is a preponderance of New Yorker, and Playboy and Esquire, but there are lots of others too. Make a list. Check them out.

Next, go to your local indie book store and find the fiction buyer. Ask her/him what journals are good.

Next, go to your local library. Ask the librarian who buys fiction what s/he reads or looks at or considers a good source.

And don't fret. Write.

This question is one that is fiercely debated in my head and at my critique group.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Nifty Writing Organizer

yWriter is a program written by a NaNo novelist who doubles as a computer programmer.

The program provides a way to organize note, outlines and full chapters, without using Word and in one file. It would be great for someone who likes to have organization in their writing.

I played around with the program for a half day or so. It would work super for my Snowflake Method preference except for two things. I write in multiple locations and can't always download/install a program; I write my best dialogue scenes longhand.

For those unencumbered, however, I'd encourage you to check it out.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Site Problems

The NaNo site is experiencing some problems. They warned us. Even with the fourth server, keeping up seems to be a problem.

Perhaps it is because they are letting us find out our word count on their counters. I've been updating at the end of every session. Multiply that by 60,000+ members and the strain must be audible.

Best wishes that is up and running again soon.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Bookworm Report, October 2005

This weather is just crazy. It's finally starting to feel like fall. I keep waiting to see four horsemen riding across the sky.

Crazy weather didn't stop me from reading this month.

Bookworm Review
Year Pages Books
2001 5,880 15
2002 3,073 9
2003 2,129 5
2004 2,862 8
2005 4,064 11

For the year, I’ve read X books, or X pages, which averages to X books a month, or X pages per month, and an average book length of X pages.

I'm starting NaNo today (in case you had forgotten or something.) Please don't expect regular posts. Any and all writing will be devoted to finishing my 50,000 pile of Crap Work of Wonderful Words. No padding will be allowed until I'm so far behind that I'll never get my nose above ground again.

What you can expect, however, is one of the seven book reviews I've already written (rather than waiting until the last moment like I normally do.) And periodic updates to the lovely progress table that I've made, but not yet posted. (Patience, grasshopper.)

As an extra special treat, I signed up to bring a long piece to my critique group on Dec. 17th. Which means that I have to have it printed by and handed out at the Dec. 3rd meeting. Which means I either need to find the grave site for my barely passable fantasy novel or hope to hell that this year's NaNo is decent enough to show with minimal editing. Of course, it might encourage some of them to take the challenge with me next year. I'm frightfully disappointed that they are not ruining the writing skills by excessives adverbs with me. (Poke, prode.)

Anyway, here's to a cheery November!

Monday, October 31, 2005

Great Books

The Times decided what the Greatest 100 Books of all Time are. Or at least, while they have been in publication.

I've read 12 of the 100.

  • Animal Farm by George Orwell
  • Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
  • The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles
  • Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  • Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  • The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein
  • 1984 by George Orwell
  • A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Back in my wishing to impress days, I would have kept the list and checked out some of the titles to further pad my reading habits. Now I realize that the list is arbitrary (to a point) and my reading perference is no longer so cultured.

But it is still fun to compare.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Book Review VI

Title: The Nazi Officer's Wife

Author: Edith Hahn Beer

Genre: Non-fiction

Summary: A Jewish woman evades deportation to a work farm during Hitler's rule of Germany.

What was Good: This woman's voice was amazing. It's one of those novels that if I were teaching, I'd use for a good example of voice.

Or I'd use it to teach about WWII. The Diary of Anne Frank tells it from a child's point of view. This woman made choices that she knew could get her killed. The difference is astounding.

What wasn't: Occasionally, the narrator would enter the story and the sequence of events would be disrupted before it got back to first person point-of-view. It held true with an oral telling of the story, but threw me off for a printed work.

The Take-Away: A compelling tale well told.

Recommendation: Have a box of tissues handy while reading.

Book Review V

Title: The Amber Spyglass

Author: Philip Pullman

Genre: Fantasy

Summary: The conclusion of Lyra's and Will's journey. They enter Death and learn the secrets of Dust, the Amber Knife and fulfill the witch's prophecy about Lyra.

What was Good: Every question I had was answered and most of my conclusion was cleared away.

What wasn't: The bulk of the controversy in this trilogy surrounds Dust and what the Church is going to do about it. Until the reader understands the motivation of the Church and aligns it to their own beliefs, the same level of confusion for Lyra and Will are confusing to the reader. I'm certain that this was the purpose of Mr. Pullman. I enjoy thinking that I am smart and this seriously ruined some of that notion for me.

The Take-Away: The intended audience for this novel sits in that fuzzy area between young adult and adult readers. Even Barnes & Noble recognizes this, stocking the first two books in the YA section and the third in the adult Fantasy section.

Recommendation: Read all three novels relatively close together and reduce the confusion that Mr. Pullman sets up so nicely.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Why Nano?

It helps. Just ask Lani Diane Rich. Her 2002 Nano Novel Time Off For Good Behavior is available everywhere from Warner Books!

Truth & Confessions: I haven't read it, but it is on my list to read.

Fantastic Resources

I've been making liberal use of Holly Lisle's site for quite some time now. In addition to daily postings about how she handles her writing, a multitude of articles about writing have been posted.

The real nuts and bolts of writing are openly discussed. The good, the bad, and the uglier than ever imagined.

I feel guilty though, because I've benefitted in numberous ways, but never have I read one of Holly's books. I'm going to rectify that as soon as the Oshkosh Public Library fulfills my reserve request for Midnight Rain.

And, of course, I'll review it here.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Writing Progress

Another 500 handwritten lines has been translated into typed manuscript.

I went from

9 / 100,000

to this.

12 / 100,000

What works for me is to handwrite a rough, rough draft. Every 500 or so lines, I type it.

As I type, I change anything that is obvious. Once entered, I highlight all of my verbs. This has a huge impact on my editing. Repetition is apparent as are "to be" verbs (those nasty is, are, was and weres that creep into good writing.) I consider this the rough draft.

I print my rough in 10 page increments for editing. I usually add a substantial amount of words, as I tend to write dialogue with no tags.

After editing this 10 page section, I enter edits. This draft would be considered a first draft and fit for viewing, once I'm ready for someone to view.

The progress bars above represent that transition from longhand to typed manuscript, but not verb highlighting. That's tomorrow's goal.

This sounds incredibly anal retentive, I know. But it satisfies my creative left brain, the repressive right brain and helps with consistency between the beginning, middle and end.

What works best for your writing?

Power of Words

Stew Rieckman, executive editor of the Northwestern, incorporates some of today's technologies with yesterday's.

The competition to be first to break any story is fierce. Print journalism suffers from the 5 o'clock news, which in turn suffers from those 24-hour news shows. News journalist are restrained in ways that bloggers aren't; the facts need to be checked (regardless of what some major networks seem to think.) Bloggers just hit the update button and it's published. What about the editoral and opinion pages?

Stew's has some goals for the revamped Northwestern site.

One thing we are doing differently, however, is that we will hot link to local and regional bloggers off our Opinion page. I am compiling a list of Oshkosh bloggers to include on the page. We will feature the blogs and news sites that are already linked from my blog. But if there are additional blogs you want included, just shoot me a comment.

The advantage to the local bloggers is that the link on the Northwestern site should hopefully drive more traffic to their site. The problem with the blogosphere is getting notoriety. This should help bloggers like Stacey Penney of Oshkosh who has an interesting blog, Raspberry Latte, that is always updated, always lively and always conversational.

Granted, he has some lovely things to say about my blog. I'm grateful to hear that he's read it, liked it and wants to send some traffic my way (even if he spelled my name wrong.) I'm most interested in finding out how many blogger are near me and what their lives are like. I've lived in Oshkosh for two years, Fond du Lac for two year before that, then Neenah for a year. Before that was the college routinue of 9 months in one place and 3 in another, neither of which were in Wisconsin. I know my neighbors, but not which neighborhood bar to go to.

I've read the one's linked to on Stew's blog, which are political or news commentary. He is missing my writing group, but I'll send him an email. Political blogs are easy; pick any subject to cheer or jeer. Journal blogs are harder and missing from his blogroll. I hope that Stew is sucessful in find more of them and posting entries about them. The ideas expressed in these yet unknown journal blogs are the documented values of today's people, not a reporter's view of them whether the reporter be journalist or blogger.

The power a blogger has is an unrecognized force. I often "hear" news from my blogroll and seldom read the paper. I'm glad to see that the Northwestern is working with it, not against it.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

If Only It was in the Form of a Check

My blog is worth $11,855.34.
How much is your blog worth?

via 100 Bloggers

Early Life of NaNo

An articles about the early life of NaNo.

It was a dark and stormy month...

From cyberspace, National Novel Writing Month looked like a real organization. From inside Chris Baty's apartment, it looked like a bunch of thin people in bad sweaters, bent over their laptops, cranked up on Frito-Lay products and Red Bull energy drink.

Two years ago, Chris Baty wanted to write a novel. As something of an in-joke, he dreamed up National Novel Writing Month -- or NaNoWriMo for short. Twenty-one of his friends signed on and six finished novels. Last November, 140 took the challenge and 29 finished. This year, using a cute Web site featuring two cartoon kids waving books beneath the slogan "No plot? No problem!" Baty invited the whole world to join him in dashing off 50,000 words in thirty days. Once mention of NaNoWriMo hit, an online clearinghouse for issues being discussed by "bloggers" -- people who keep online diaries known as Weblogs -- it spread like a literary Ebola.

The article is good, if lengthy.

Book Review IV

Title: The Old Kingdom Series


Lirael: the Daughter of the Clayr


Author: Garth Nix

Genre: Fantasy

Summary: Death and those not quite Dead have had free run of the Old Kingdom for the last 200 years. The return of Sabriel starts a chain of event that will put Death where it belongs - beyond the Ninth Gate.

What was Good: Mr. Nix balances the fantasical elements with modern world. Necromancers enter through the aid of simple bells. Being magical, however, they have a will of their own and don't always act as the user intends. Magic has a place as character in this fantasy trilogy. Mogget, in the role of "all-knowing" also acts as comic relief and occasionally usurps the starring role. The interaction between the magical world and the politics of the ordinary draws parallels between any two political parties. Really, there is something for everyone in the trilogy.

What wasn't: Sabriel is a stand alone novel. Lirael and Abhorsen are one novel split into two books. The ending of Lirael didn't feel like the end of a book, but the end of a chapter and the last half was missing.

The Take-Away: A friend from my writer's club introduced this author to me and I wish I had listened to her sooner. She was right; I did love them.

Recommendation: Get Sabriel and read it first. If time is short, wait until Lirael and Abhorsen can be read together.

Monday, October 24, 2005


This last weekend was spent in South Dakota, hence, no post on Friday. My husband is a hunter; as I have family in that area, we take advantage of the numerous fields and expertise they can provide.

As I tell it, if things ever got so bad that we had to rely on his hunting skills, we would be vegetarians. He pretends this is amusing.

Getting caught up is always fun. Even more so when realization that this week is horrible for me because of NaNo preparations. Between the Kick-Off party and Halloween related preparations, I'm going to be a busy girl this week. I just hope I can catch-up on some sleep. Otherwise I'll be a zombie for the trick or treaters.

Book Review III

Title: The Devil Wears Prada

Author: Lauren Weisberger

Genre: Chick Lit

Summary: A naive recently graduate college girl gets the fashion magazine job a million girls would die for.

What was Good: The insider's view of what really goes on behind a fashion magazine was shocking. Parts were so completely unbelievable that they had to be true. No other excuse existed for them. The reader is drawn into believing the hype just as the main character is. After a while, it becomes impossible to believe people haven't read this book, just as it is impossible for Andrea to believe that no one has heard of Miranda Priestly.

What wasn't: The second reading revealed the underlying bitterness that dominates the back story of this novel. The first reading revealed a fun, if outrageous look at the world of fashion. This time, the anger of the year lost soaked through every word.

The Take-Away: The paperback was recently released. Reading about the horror that is Miranda Priestly will make you love your boss all the more.

Recommendation: Get the book and gossip around the water cooler about how your boss compares to Andrea's. Then run out and get Everyone Worth Knowing to see if it is as good.

Book Review II

Title: Back to the Bedroom

Author: Janet Evanovich

Genre: Chick Lit

Summary: An over-achieving cello player becomes dependent on the next door under achiever after an ankle injury.

What was Good: The tentant, Elsie, is the fore-runner for Grandma Maser in the Stephanie Plum series. I loved her.

What wasn't: Everything else. This book had a sort print run for a reason.

The Take-Away: Elsie is fantastic and believeable. She complete steals the show.

Recommendation: Borrow it from the library and skim for the scenes that Elsie is in.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Wasting Work Time

Not recommended, but fun nonetheless 30 Things to Do on the Web Job hunt without fear

Book Review I

Title: Fast Women

Author: Jennifer Crusie

Genre: Chick Lit

Summary: After being dumped by her husband, Nell Dysart uses her skills as an office manager to improve a dective agency. Only the owner doesn't want anything changed.

What was Good: Witty characters, interesting subplots.

What wasn't: The characters just moved too fast. Fell in love too fast, solved problems too fast. The internal action and dialogue didn't always make the pace seem believable.

The Take-Away: Ms Crusie's characters keep me coming back. I enjoyed reading it, even if it wasn't a timeless piece.

Recommendation: Buy it for a vacation reading and discuss it with your book group.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Searching for Joy

Kelly tagged me to find joy.


Search your blog for the word "joy" used in the context of "happiness." If you cannot find the word in your weblog, you may use any of the select list of synonyms below.

joy - amusement, bliss, cheer, comfort, delectation, delight, ecstasy, elation, exaltation, exultation, exulting, felicity, gaiety, gladness, glee, good humor, gratification, happiness, hilarity, humor, jubilance, liveliness, merriment, mirth, pleasure, rapture, regalement, rejoicing, revelry, satisfaction, wonder

If your weblog does not include a built-in search engine, then you can use Google to search it only for the word you wish to find. Just follow the directions on Google's site or use advanced search.

If you've found the word and it was not used facetiously or sarcastically, good for you. All you need to do is link to your earlier entry, and write a few words about that joyous moment. If, however, you have no joy (whole words only) in your weblog, you must dig deep in your soul and find something wonderful in your life right now. One little thing that fills you with warmth, that bubbles you over with quiet happiness, or tickles you with its good-hearted hilarity, or makes you glad you just took a breath, and are getting ready to take another. It doesn't have to be anything big. A smile someone gave you; your cat on your shoulder; the way the light angles through your window and casts rainbows on your floor. All it has to be is something genuine, something real, something that matters to you.

Because we all need joy in our lives, and need to take the time - from time to time - to recognize it. And sometimes, we need to pass it on.

Even if we're a big pain in the ass when we do.

When you've dealt with your own joy, pass the quest on to five other bloggers.

As I saw this making the rounds, I half hoped someone would tag me, yet dreaded that they would. I feared (incorrectly) that I wouldn't be able to find anything.

But I did, about my kids and about books.

I tag Inga, Heather (even though she doesn't read this, I can always hope,) Kayla and the crowd at Writeminded.