Friday, July 29, 2005

Summer Reading

Nora Roberts prolific writing and publishing has lead to her having a large space reserved on my book shelf. I generally buy her new books, too impatient to wait for the library to have a copy I can borrow. Her books are usually set in trilogies, giving the reader time to know all of the characters and see how their lives develope before and after their own stories. Black Rose is the second of her In the Garden series. A southern planation is haunted by a ghost who loves children. Three women, each in a different stage in life, are trying to figure out who she is. Rising Tides and Inner Harbor are the second and third in her Chesapeake Bay series. The identity of a young boy's parents fuels the rumors in a small New England town. The search for answers is complicated by a death and the woman who wants him back. While Ms Roberts' basic plot lines could be stories heard before, her well-developed and interesting characters always keep me coming back for me. She is one of the few authors who's books I'll re-read just for the characters.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Google Doodles

Google likes to surprise its visitors by changing things up a bit with their search page doodle. The complete doodle collection is available, thanks to the efforts of one man. Or you can go here and view it online.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

National Association of Female Executives

Have you have heard of the above group? I'm all about empowering females and received an invite to join the group. I checked out their website but it didn't tell me what I wanted to know. I didn't find any local groups -- not even Milwaukee. I have a feeling that the $39 registration fee would be a rip off if I joined. Have you heard of it? What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

A Different Sort of Novel

Randy Ingermanson, the author of the the Snowflake Method has a has a Ph.D. in theoretical physics and writes novels with Christians in them. I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked up Premonition, the novel on which his example snowflake is based. I was interested, but my past experience with Christian novels didn't leave a good taste in my mouth. This one was quite good. It deals with the first century Christian church and the relationships between the various inevitable sects. Two of the characters are from modern day American who time travelled there in a previous novel and a messed-up experiment. Rivka is a fascinating woman struggling with her modern ideas and concepts in a society that ignores and suppresses women. This is the middle of three novels, Transgression is the first and Retribution the last. I intend to go back and catch the other two as well. In Double Vision, Rivka's cousin, Rachel, is a brilliant bio chemist involved in a modern day intrigue. She has invented a bio computer. Along with the code written by senior programmer Dillon Richard, a high-functioning autistic, their invention will rock the world of encryption and our ideas of security. But someone else wants it and will do anything to get it. Excerpts of this novel are available on Mr. Ingermanson's website.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Reading to Make You Hungry

In between catered events, Goldy Bahr solves murder mysteries, looks after her son Arch and dates the local cop Tom Schulz. Dying for Chocolate is second in the series of eleven by Diane Mott Davidson. Goldy bumbles her way through and solves the murder of ex-boyfriend Philip Miller in the end. Interspersed are delightful recipes that make me want to break out my pots and pans. I cannot honestly say if I read these for the mystery or for the recipes. Both are delightful.

Just Pass

Runaway Mistress by Robyn Carr and The Shop on Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber are not worth the time. Flat characters with easily solved problems. Each book could have been split in half and it still would have been a complete story. The tales are sweet, in a extra-simple kind of way.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Deviation from the Norm

I'm not one much for poetry, but this one moves me. According to KayseaLove it is written in the Hebrew Talmud. It says: "Be very careful if you make a woman cry, because God Counts her tears. The woman came out of a man's rib. Not from his feet to be walked on. Not from his head to be superior. But from the side to be equal. Under the arm to be protected, and next to the heart to be loved." Thought provoking considering what one hears of this culture.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Snowflake Thoughts

I did it. I finished my plotting and outlining. Step 7 seems like such a long time ago. I am going to have so much fun working the "facts" about my characters into this story. I already know how some of them are going to make their appearance. It probably won't be as funny to anyone other than myself, but the detail will make my characters even better. Step Eight was really difficult. I probably made it worse as I just through out every line that might be a scene as I read through the various synopsis steps. I waited until the end to organize them all, including the ones that I thought of as I went and hadn't planned on incurring. Matching every step and coordinating the details was accomplished in Step Nine. I needed it more than I thought I was going to. Finding the contradictory details out about my characters was really fun though. It make me think of what they were really like, rather than my own perferences. For instance, my main character had an a Mini Cooper in one place and a Mitsubishi Spyder in another. So I had to find out if she was a fun Mini Cooper type or a sexy Spyder type. Both of which are cars I adore. As it turns out, she prefers the Spyder. Step Ten involves actually writing the first draft. I plan to do this in long hand for a couple of reasons.

  1. It forces me to slow down and think since I don't write 65+ words a minute as I do when typing
  2. I love the feeling of the right pen moving across paper
  3. 100% Portability for when my kids want to be upstairs, outside or at the YMCA
  4. Editing while typing
I probably could go on for quite some time, but really, isn't that enough? My writing has improved so much since I found Randy Ingermanson's Snowflake Method. I am so excited about this book. I'm willing to tell people I'm working on a chick lit novel. Being willing to share something as personal as writing is really scary for me. Almost as scary as handing you my journal and demanding that you read it. Mr. Ingermanson's example from Premonition and my reading of the novel gave me the confidence that I really could do this. Others say that it limited their creativity, but I found the opposite to be true. It focuses my attention on what was meaningful to the plot and where to go next. Now I just need to break out my paper and pen, find a quiet spot and start writing.

Meet the Author

Chris Paolini, author of Eragon and Eldest will be at the Milwaukee Public Mueseum on Thursday, September 1st at 7:00 pm Details below. Co-sponsored by H.W. Schwartz Bookshops and Friends of the Milwaukee Public Library at: Milwaukee Public Library's Centennial Hall 733 N. Eighth Street Milwaukee, Wisconsin I seriously want to go. I wonder if he'll be allowed to autograph copies of Eragon as well as Eldest.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Crews Battle Massive Tire Fire Near Watertown

I heard about this fire as I got ready for work. Imagine my surprise when I check my news feeds and discovered that J-walk blogged about it. I wonder how long it will take to put out the fire.

Great Promise that Fizzled

You Have to Kiss A lot of Frogs by Laurie Graff started with a wedding shower and the main character evaluating her life and her romantic prospects as a never married forty-something. Next chapter is a starts with a much younger version of herself and a review of the various men she has dated. It builds and leads and fails in the last chapter with a very vague notion of what is going to happen next. If the author was trying to achieve the effect of "real life" dating, she got it. If she was trying to make a romance novel into a literary novel, it failed miserably. It was so-so, but I'd wouldn't keep it on my book shelf.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Two Sides of the Story

For one event there will be as many points of view as there were individual witnesses. Somewhere in the midst of all these things, the truth is to be found. The NY Times recently printed an article in their Style section about the relationship between the journalist (Helaine Olen) and her nanny. If this article portrayals the style that the Times wishes its readers to emulate, I'll forgo paying my subscription. The article is a reaction to the nanny's online journal or blog. The two sides contradict one another. Ms Olen, who did not even tell the nanny the true reason for being fired, sounds jealous and resigned to her 40-something life style and is living vicariously and projecting into the 20-something lifestyle of the nanny. The nanny writes a nice essay and links to her archives to prove her point. Well worth reading, especially to an amaturer writer of fiction. It beautifully illustrates voice and point of view when multiple individuals view the same event. via Average Jane who lead me to Suburban Bliss and Blogging Baby where I found the pieces.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Onward to Step Nine

Matching my outline and synopsis didn't take as long as I thought. I'll actually had a piece to share at the Oshkosh Area Writers Meeting. I'm moving on to Step Nine - Narrative Description. This step is the most useless to me. I'm going to try it, but don't expect much. It's like a pre-first draft where you think through the scene and sort of story board it. Anyway, I'll see how it goes.

The Half-Blood Prince

I was in line at Paper Tiger in Oshkosh at 9:30ish on Friday night. I was number six. It was a long wait, but they had the Chamber of Secrets playing, along with cookies and Kool-Aid. Blimpies stayed open until midnight or so, for those of us that were waiting. Even though I thought it was going to kill me, I didn't read any of the book until Saturday morning after the kids woke-up. I hadn't planned on reading any of it as our weekend was going to be busy with birthday parties and such, but I finished it on Saturday, just before midnight. My plan is to post about sometime next week, just so I don't have any plot spoilers for those who didn't finish it yet. Of course, comments are always a good place for that sort of thing too...

Friday, July 15, 2005

Did You Know This?

According to the Harry Potter News Aggregator, the way that member of the Order of the Phoenix communicate is answered in Book 5.

Members of the Order use their Patronuses to communicate with each other. They are the only wizards who know how to use their spirit guardians in this way and they have been taught to do so by Dumbledore (he invented this method of communication). The Patronus is an immensely efficient messenger for several reasons: it is an anti-Dark Arts device, which makes it highly resilient to interference from Dark wizards; it is not hindered by physical barriers; each Patronus is unique and distinctive, so that there is never any doubt which Order member has sent it; nobody else can conjure another person's Patronus, so there is no danger of false messages being passed between Order members; nothing conspicuous needs to be carried by the Order member to create a Patronus.
I don't remember reading this...unless I was to figure it out from the scene in Doby's room of requirement when Harry was teaching the Patronus spell. Perhaps there is an implication there that I missed out on. Now I'm going to have to re-read that book again.

It's here...almost

I'm trying really hard to not think about the Harry Potter release tonight. I fear I will dwell on it all day, hypothesising what is in store and not accomplishing a damn thing. I haven't ever attended a release party and plan to do so tonight. I'm wild about it. I know I'm not going to get to read it right away. I'm seriously comtemplating taking Monday off from work and staying home to read it in one sitting. If I do that, you'll know cos I'll post reactions after every chapter. I'll post a spoiler warning though, just to be fair... My other option is to read as I can, which given how my kids have been lately, I should be able to finish it in a week. I have the annoying habit of reading the last sentence of the book, just to make sure everything is all right. That, and I like the last sentence of any book usually. Any thoughts on this momentous occasion?

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Continuing the Saga

Just because Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has gone doesn't mean that the novels are finished. The legacy continues through a trust that asked Caleb Carr to continue. The results are the Case of the Italian Secretary. Holmes and Watson travel north to Edinburgh after Holmes receives a telegram from his brother. The mystery to be solved will save the queen's life, along with a young girl's reputation. The novel was thoroughly delightful in every way. While it wasn't the original, Carr was able to capture the voice and style of Dr. Watson's telling. The local library had this in the young adults section, but adult fans will enjoy it too.

Laugh Outloud Funny

Not every comedian is as good on paper as in person, but George Carlin manages it in Napalm & Silly Putty. Don't read if easily offended. Most of it is PG-13, but quickly ramps into an R rating. This is a great book for a bathroom; quick, short and applicable.

National Association of Female Executives

Have you have heard of the above group? I'm all about empowering females and received an invite to join the group. I checked out their website but it didn't tell me what I wanted to know. I didn't find any local groups -- not even Milwaukee. I have a feeling that the $39 registration fee would be a rip off if I joined. Have you heard of it? What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, July 13, 2005


I was introduced to Alice Hoffman by the movie Practical Magic. I thought the movie to be entertaining and fun. On the cover of another of Ms Hoffman's books was the tag from the author of Practical Magic. I figured it would be worth a shot. It was nothing like the movie. Her books have a dark quality to them that my brain finds quite appealing. They are wonderful for melancholy days. The Ice Queen held to this prinicple as well. The victim of a lightening strike has had her one wish come true - to be frozen. Everyone that touches her is burned by the coldness that she can do nothing about. The color red has been lost to her. Through a daring friendship and journey of self-discovery, she learns to forgive herself. The story stuck with me for days after finishing the book, just as the other titles I've read have. Even as I type this, weeks after its conclusion, the same haunted feeling comes back. I'd highly recommend this book.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Game over

The words of a hacker

Gary McKinnon has been accused of committing the 'biggest military computer hack of all time', and if extradited to the US faces up to 70 years in jail. So how did this techno geek from north London end up cracking open the Pentagon and Nasa's systems? He talks exclusively to Jon Ronson as he awaits his fate In 1983, when Gary McKinnon was 17, he went to see the movie WarGames at his local cinema in Crouch End, north London. In WarGames, a geeky computer whiz kid hacks into a secret Pentagon network and, inadvertently, almost instigates world war three. Sitting in the cinema that day, the teenage Gary wondered if he, too, could be a hacker. "Really," I say to him now, "WarGames should have put you off hacking for life." He strenuously denies the justice department's charge that he caused the "US military district of Washington" to become "inoperable". Well, once, he admits, but only once, he inadvertently pressed the wrong button and may have deleted some government files. "What did you do then?" "I thought, 'Ooh, bloody hell,' " he says. "And that's when I stopped for a while. And then my friend told me about Darpa. And so I started again." Darpa is the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency, an intriguing collection of brilliant military scientists, funded by the Pentagon. Darpa has been widely credited with inventing, among other things, the internet, the global positioning system, the computer mouse, and - somewhat more boneheadedly - FutureMAP, an online futures market designed to predict assassinations and bombings by encouraging investor speculation in such crimes. The US Senate once described FutureMAP as "an unbelievably stupid idea". Darpa has long been of interest to conspiracy theorists because it is semi-secretive, bizarre (they have put much effort into creating a team of telepathic spies) and occupies that murky world that lies between science and war. Gary heard from a friend that Darpa might have invented a robot soldier, so he hacked in and claims he found evidence of "an autonomous machine that would go in and do the dirty work. These things could go upstairs and look for bombs. You wouldn't have to send in real people. And I also found these awful special forces training videos of guys running around, doing close-quarter battle. It was ridiculous."
The article is really quite good and tells how Gary got caught. His terror is quite evident.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Developing Language

I love how language totally depends on what the user thinks it means. For instance, Clive Thompson in his article Robert B0rk: A man of his word writes that Robert Bork believes "bork" means

[Bork] noted that "Borking" is now used as a verb meaning "to attack with unfair means."
while the Urban Dictionary has it as
To have totally fucked something up. Usually by doing something stupid. Specifically used to describe technology that is broken.
I love debates like this in language that is developing.

The English Major in Me...

...missed reading Victorian Literature so I picked up The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl. I read one of Dante's comedies during college and enjoyed wading through the historical weightiness of the piece. The idea of murders based on the works on Dante during Civil War Boston made a fascinating combination. The book moved fast for the first fifty pages and the last fifty definitely made the inbetween worth it. The middle was hard to digest. The characters are familiar American writers, including, James Russell Lowell, Oliver Wendell Holmes and publisher James Fields. Mr Pearl has a website, The Dante Club, to keep fans up to date. After I finished the novel, I started a bookray on Book Crossing. It will eventually end up in Europe. I miss reading books like this. I need to dig into the Victorian Era of writing. I know that when I was an English Lit major still, I bought books with wild abandon. I'm sure that if I dig through my boxes, I find a dozen of titles that I have yet to read, besides the others that are worth re-reading.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Friday, July 08, 2005

Man charged with stealing Wi-Fi signal

The article states that the man stole from a private individual, not a business. I hear from my business associates about this practice, but most of them relate to business theft not private individual. The ramifications and impact of wireless have led me to keep my house wired. I don't have confidence in my ability to monitor or set-up the necessary encryption tools. Not that I don't trust my neighbors or anything...

My Writing Club

Oshkosh Area Writers Club is now online. Author visits, meeting notices and other great writing related information is available. A big thanks to Ruth for getting this set-up!

Step Eight

I've completed Step Eight of the Snowflake method. Looking back through my notes, I discovered that my four page synopsis no longer matches my scene outline. My plan for the moment is to back track and have those two items coincide. The synopsis will be invaluable when submitting the book and nice to have it done before the first draft. Kelli has read my one sentence and one paragraph summaries. She gave me a thumbs up and the ultimate compliment that she would by it based on the "back cover" excerpts. The Backcover Jo’s work as a consultant fits the carefree lifestyle of the party-girl she really is. A lifestyle that crashes after a bachelorette party ends with a court summons for drunk and disorderly behavior. Her supervisor for the court ordered community service appeals to a softer side that Jo didn’t know she had. Jo fights to keep up the life she has created for herself, but finds that her new responsibilities have shifted her priorities. Jo decides that while she is still carefree, life as an adult can be what she wants, even if it isn’t quite what she had planned. Unlike my other pieces, I really have a good feeling about this. I believe that it is worth submitting and publishing. Everything before, just feels like practice.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Bookcrossing Notes

When I checked my email on the 5th, I had a welcome surprise of four Bookcrossing notices. It was grand and glorious. All were from books I had released last year and found by anonymous finder. I believe that they have been read and released a least one other time. The entries are...

  1. Once and Always
  2. Left for Dead
  3. Househusband
  4. A Corner of the Universe
I wish the readers well and many happy catches and releases.

Taking Blogging to a New Level

For me, at any rate. My college friends are widely scattered through this country. None of keep in touch as much as we would like; it's the way of the world. But thanks to Blogger's Team Blogs, we are going to give keeping in touch through blogging. The Klatsch was one of our favorite places in Mankato to hang out, get high on caffiene, keep up with each other's lives and attempt to get that paper for Czer written. As such our blog name is The Klatsch. I'm expecting a witty collection of wise words from everyone who joins. The first offering is weak, but essential. I invite you to check back in a few days to meet my friends.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Email Quizzes, Part II

In a prior posting, I asked for someone to send me email quizzes. I got two from Kelli sent me two that I combined into this one email quiz. This one I received from a reader looking for other quizzes. I didn't use it for my novel. This one digs deeper than the first and would still get to the answers and personalities of the characters. The reflective nature of the questions give the opportunity to really dig into the mind of the character. I wouldn't use this for every character, just the main ones. I'd stick with the first for minor and supporting characters. About You Your gender: Straight/gay/bi? Single? Want to be? Your birthday: Age you wish you were: Your height: The color of your eyes: The color of your hair: Piercings? Tattoos? Do You... Smoke? Do drugs? Read the newspaper? Pray? Talk to strangers who IM you? Take walks in the rain? Drive? Like to drive fast? Have You Ever... Hurt yourself? Been out of the country? Been in love? Done drugs? Gone skinny-dipping? Had a surgery? Ran away from home? Played strip poker? Gotten beaten up? Been picked on? Been on stage? Slept outdoors? Thought about suicide? Pulled an all-nighter? If yes, what is your record? Talked on the phone all night? Slept together with the opposite sex without actually having sex? Slept all day? Killed someone? Made out with a stranger? Had sex with a stranger? Kissed the same sex? Done anything sexual with the same sex? Been betrayed? Broken the law: Met a famous person? Been on radio/TV? Been in a mosh-pit? Had a nervous breakdown? Been criticized about your sexual performance? Had a dream that kept coming back? Shoe brand? What are you normally wearing to school/work? Wear hats? Judge other people by their clothing? Wear make-up? Favorite place to shop? Favorite article of clothing? Are you trendy? Beliefs Believe in life on other planets? Miracles? Astrology? Magic? God? Satan? Santa? Ghosts? Luck? Love at first sight? Yin and Yang? Witchcraft? Easter bunny? Believe it's possible to remain faithful forever? Believe there's a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? Do you wish on stars? LOVE, And All That Stuff: Did you get frightened or uncomfortable seeing that as a section title? Do you remember your first love? Still love him/her? Do you consider love a mistake? What do you find romantic? Turn-on? Turn-off? Do you base your judgment on looks alone? Have you ever wished it was more "socially acceptable" for a girl to ask a guy out? Ever been romantically attracted to someone physically unattractive? Do you think the opposite sex finds you good looking? What is best about the opposite sex? What's the last present someone gave you? Are you in love? Who Was The Last Person... That you laughed at? That laughed at you? That turned you on? You went shopping with? To disappoint you? To ask you out? To make you cry? That you thought about? You saw a movie with? That you talk on the phone? You talked to through IM? You saw that you knew? You turned down? When Was The Last Time You Smiled? Laughed? Cried? Bought something? Danced? Were sarcastic? Hugged someone? Talked to an ex? Watched your fave movie? Talked on the phone? Listened to the radio? Watched TV? Went out? Helped someone? Sang? Said? Got drunk?

Banned Books

A rather detailed website for the listing of Forbidden Books. Banned books and the reasons has always been a curiousity for me. Perhaps it is because of my nature to make some mischief. Or perhaps I just like controversy in literature. Whatever the reason for me, Forbidden Library has taken to recording the history of the protest and her own opinions.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The Power of The People

The PledgeBank has a great concept for helping others. A person posts a pledge to do something (plant trees, loose weight, spread goodwill) but will only do it if enough other people promise to do the same. The site is based in the UK. The generosity of people is astonding. Here's a couple of pledges that were recently completed: Jenny Marlowe will stop using plastic carrier bags at the supermarket, and use reusable cloth bags instead but only if 30 other people will too. Matthew Jones will start a wikipedia page but only if 10 people will too. And some that need support: Simon Holledge will have 10 trees planted to offset my total carbon dioxide emissions for 2005 but only if 99 other people will too. (193 days left, 11 more signatures needed) Caroline Skinner will donate £200 to Breast Cancer Campaign through but only if 20 other people will each donate £10 through the same website. (30 days left, 10 more signatures needed)

Friday, July 01, 2005 - Lodi, California, News Archives

Mystery planes continue to circle over Lodi as it has for the last four weeks. My writer's imagination is getting all worked up over this one. I'm going to have to print it for the reference files.

Bookworm Report, June 2005

This month was a good month for reading as I finished some of the novels I've been reading over the last several months. I'm not happy unless reading a couple of books at a time. For the month of June, I read 4,083 pages or 13 books. In 2001, I read 3,401 pages/7 books; 2002, 1,975 pages/5 books; 2003, 2,560 pages/7 books; 2004, 2,608 pages/6 books.

For the year, I've read 50 books, or 17,377 pages, which averages to 8 books a month, or 2,896 pages per month, and an average book length of 348 pages. Have a great holiday weekend, celebrate our freedoms and remember those who sacrificed for us.