Thursday, June 30, 2005

Love In England

It doesn't matter where you go, girls are girls and boys are trouble. Straight Talk by Jane Green shows just how several twenty-somethings tackle the dating scene in London. Change the slang and the city and it could have been a group of my friends discussing our love & sex lives instead. Great to read.

Close to Home

The premise of Miracle Cure by Michael Palmer struck close to home. The book focuses on a miracle drug for people with heart disease, specifically hardening of the arteries. The drug has the "if it seems too good to be true" ya-sayers and its cheerleaders both. Inbetween the two sides in our hero, a recovering doctor with no license and a father who would benefit from the drug. All in all, it was a pretty good book. Some portions of it seemed contrived, especially at the beginning. The middle and ending make it worth your while though. It hits close to home because my mother has been identified has having a heart murmur and some other conditions. Being that close to a similar situation really helped put me in the shoes of the doctor who wants only the best for his father.

A Book I Didn't Get

Skip Prospero’s Children by Jan Siegel, if it is on your reading list. I don't know if it was because the author was from England (I doubt it) or if it was because the book dealt with a subject I read infrequently, but I just did not get this book. It was slow moving, until the shift into another world. The resolution was left hanging. I didn't understand what the resolution had to do with the characters in the modern world (as opposed to the world that is traveled too.) This is one fantasy novel I'd recommend avoiding. It is the first of a trilogy. I'm a quarter interested in checking out the other two, just to see if the series as a whole is better than the first part.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Experimental Drugs

Apparently, scientists are more open minded about experiments than my college professors ever told me. According to this article, Francis Crick used LSD. Yep, Francis Crick of the Double Helix fame. I read the novel The Double Helix when I was in college, as part of the required reading for my sophomore level biology course. I liked the book so much that I actually read it twice. It has a nice, conversational tone that a non bio person, such as myself, wasn't intimidated by the huge mind boggling concepts that these guys were investigating. If these allegations are true, and high school kids get their hands on the information, can you imagine what it will do to a classroom?

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Angels by Marian Keyes

This is the secon Marian Keyes novel I have read. It's just as good as The Other Side of the Story but with more depth, I'd say. Pieces vital to the plot of Angels are revealed as the story progresses. It doesn't have a deus ex machina; the necessary details were cleverly built into the story and hidden so that their full meaning could later be revealed. At first it seems like a rather typical chick-lit plot, but more lurks below the surface than what is first seen in this novel.

A Naked Novel

Novels written by several authors often have the word Naked in the title, earning themselves the nickname Naked Novel. Marcia Talley edited her first Naked Novel, Naked Came the Phoenix, as way to raise funds for breast cancer research. Her second, I'd Kill for That has the same goal. Both of her edited novels have been written by various female mystery authors, including (but not limited to) Anne Perry, Jennifer Crusie, Nora Roberts. The result is a fun novel, with changing voices and writing styles. It leaves much to be desired as far as tight structures normally found within mystery novels, but the result is worth reading.

Preparing for July 16th

I always like to re-read J.K. Rowling but this time it is in preparation for the release of Book 6. I decided to start at the current end and read to the beginning, to give myself a fresh perspective of the series. The Order of the Phoenix is a dark novel compared to the first four. As it ends, I wonder how the sixth will fill the gap to the series end. I know that whatever Ms Rowling has planned will be brilliant, but my limited vision seems to think that Book Six is a place holder for a seven book series. (Book series almost always are odd numbers, I've noticed.) The Goblet of Fire ends the way The Order begins, but the rest of it is rather typically growing pains of any teenager - school, girls and rifts with friends. Actual reviews of the works seem a bit pointless, as you should have read them by now. If not, get a copy and get reading. The weekend of the release promises to be quite busy, as it looks as though I will have house guests. As a result, I'm not going to be able to start the book until the 18th in all likely hood. I have some thoughts about this and what I'd like to post, but it would work much better if I could give my family a vacation on the 16th. If only I could convince them to go away for the weekend and leave me to read in peace.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Writing Pains

Last year when I took on the NaNo Challenge of writing 50,000 words in 30 days or less and have a complete story told, I learned quite a few things about my writing self. 1. I can type 2,000 to 2,500 words in 30 minutes or less if I stop thinking about what I am saying. Hence the Nano qualifier of "it doesn't have to be good." 2. If I have a plot thought out, I am more interested in writing my characters' story. Even on the days that I didn't feel like writing, I had to, because I needed the word count and I knew where I was going. 3. Plotting doesn't have to be painful. On the forum boards I found a plotting method called The Snowflake Method as described by Randy Ingermanson. I've been using his method to plot out my last endeavor. I'm on step 7 of 10, 10 being the first draft. His idea revolves around starting with the simple design and adding the complexities and details one level at a time. The steps for doing this are posted at his sight. Since he explains it much better than I do, I suggest you visit his page entitled The Snowflake Method. The part that I am on now involves those email quizzes that I requested. Yes, Kelli, I'm getting to it. I might even have it done in two weeks, if I can keep up the rate I'm going at now. The thing about writing is it takes time. Just like this blog takes time. And my family. And my job. I've been told by a wise woman that you can only focus on three major things at any given point in time. I'm juggling four. I just need to figure out how to split myself in halves or thirds so I can juggle all of the important things in my life.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Brewers vs the Cubbies

After attending last nights game at Miller Park I understand how the other team's fans feel when the Packers are in town. The game was sold out and I'm pretty sure it was to all of the Chicago fans. The stadium is excellent, inspite of any problems you may have heard about. No matter where you sit, it's a good seat. Now if the Brewers will play decently today...

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Be a Mentor

DMC, the thread people, have a really cool opportunity on their website. Be a mentor and teach kids to cross stich. DMC provides the kits for small projects. You provide the enthusiasm, support and knowledge. If I knew some kids who were interested, I'd sign-up in a heart beat. P.S. I'm on vacation for the rest of the week and won't necesarily be posting first thing in the morning.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Recent Research

I love it when my writing research takes me to a site like the History of Chocolate by Godiva. I'm pretty sure that I gained about twelve pounds while reading about the rich history of my favorite food.

Monday, June 20, 2005

A Man with Too Much Time on His Hands

As an artist, my medium of choice is words. This man's is the etch a sketch. Check out his work and price tag at his website Etched in Time. Maybe I should consider a different medium... via J-Walk

Friday, June 17, 2005

Random Thoughts

I've been watching bits of the series Inside the Mafia on the National Geographic Channel. I found out that the Mafia became the powerful organization that it did during Prohibition. They were willing to provide alcohol to anyone who wanted it. But they would have problems among the various families. To put a stop to the inter-family fights, they organized a panel that was the heads of all the families. If one had a grivenance against another, it was brought to this panel. It was this panel that decided to move to drug trafficking. Prior to the organization of the mob families and their venture into drugs, very few people used drugs in the States. My question is thus: If Prohibition had never existed, would the Mob had organized? If so, would they have moved into the drug trafficking sooner? The series has been really good. I hope that they re-run it so I can see the parts that I missed.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Living Without a Net

Jory of Pause... has taken a plunge that many have considered: She working for herself. Jory records various findings and self discoveries for the benefit of those of us who work for others. Her odyssey has taken her to realize her core competency along with discovering how to be at one with her inner slacker. Jory's ability to be honest blows me away as I struggle to smile through the solution to yet another corporate mishap. I've thought of taking that plunge myself, but my overwhelming need for a safety net has always prevented me. Here's two thumbs up to those who do it, and can blog in the face of their adversity.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Not Something You Hear Often

Yesterday, I was walking by a mirror in the ladies room and looked at the sideway image of myself. Mostly to check my hair as the humidity is making it super frizzy lately. But I noticed something else and thought to myself, "Is my ass smaller?" I tested my theory last night with a pair of jeans, fresh from the dryer. Sure enough, there is a smiggen more room in them than I remember there being. Maybe all of that jogging and biking is starting to pay off.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The Poet is Back

One of the great thing about serial novel is that villians who have escaped can be brought back to fight again. Michael Connelly does just that in The Narrows. The Poet was the head of the FBI's criminal mapping. He was good at his job because he was the very sort of person that they were mapping. Harry Bousch teams up with an FBI agent, Rachel, to follow the path the Poet has left for her, and perhaps get ahead of him by enough steps to capture him.

Drinking as a Rite of Passage

Koren Zailckas doesn't consider herself an alcoholic, but readers of her book Smashed : story of a drunken girlhood probably would. Koren was introduced to drinking as a teenager by a friend. She continues drinking into high school and college; her drinking quickly turns to excess. Some of it might seem like kids being kids, but Koren explores what kept her drinking, along with why she couldn't seem to stop, even when she wanted to. Truly an eye opening book. Even though I am the about same age as Koren, I found myself thinking of her as a much younger sister, rather than a peer.

Monday, June 13, 2005

My Ennegram Type

EnneagramFree Enneagram Test

Friday, June 10, 2005

Nothing to Say

Any posting ideas I might have had have been channelled into my current novel. Terribly sorry, but I'm sure that Average Jane or Heather B. Armstrong will have some good words for the day. Have a fantastic weekend. If that just isn't possible, have a mediocre one.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Ten Reasons to Love my New Saab

1. The Sport Button When deployed this nifty little button allows me to go very fast very quickly. After driving my powerful 8-cylinder Durango, I feared moving to a 4-cylinder; with the sport button, I hardly notice the difference. 2. The Combination Moon and Sun Roof If it hadn't been for the fact I drove the Durango for three years, I would have listed this first. It was the prereq for any vehicle I was going to buy. 3. Gas Mileage I'm averaging 23-24 mpg compared to 10-11. I love filling my car with gas when it is every other week and runs about $30. 4. Auto-locking Doors For the back seat only. I appreciate the thought, since I have kids and all, but love not having to remember to unlock mine when I want to get out. 5. Using the Key to Lock the Doors It took some getting used to, but I can never lock the car with my keys in it. 6. Other Weird Lock Features Like when I unlock all the doors with the key and someone tries to open their door at the exact second that I unlock, their door doesn't open. It keeps my kids out usually, or my mom, but if it were a person with malicious intent, I'd be safe. 7. Leather Seats No matter what is spilled, I can just wipe it up. 8. Wiper Blades on the Headlights As strange as it sounds to have them, I'll be loving it in winter when I won't have to scrap my headlights. 9. Resale Value They hold their value better than most domestic cars. If I ever decide to sell, I know that I'm not completely screwed. 10. The Speedometer Tops out at 150 Not that I've tested that or anything...

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Thoughts on being Rude, Part II

Obviously it bothered me that the kid was rude. It wasn't just his rudeness, but the rudeness that seems to penetrate my life at every turn. The driver that is a big hurry; the vendor that needs a balance paid; the person who took my order for lunch. Probably every 3 out of 4 conversations I have with strangers have one of us being rude. I'm guilty of it too, I know. Especially if you can't hear me when I'm in my car. I don't remember this rudeness when I was a kid. In fact, I remember 2nd grade being the biggest pusher of manners (Thanks, Mrs. Larson, for that lesson.) It takes little or no extra time to say, "Please" or "Thank you." Why don't we do it? Why do we drive 10-15 miles over the speed limit and force our way into a spot that is meant for a comfortable gap between the cars? Why don't we take the time to thank those that assist us or greet people properly? I hate nothing more than when someone calls my house and starts talking. What ever happened to saying "Hello"? I may have caller ID, but I don't always look at it first. The Fox River Mall promotes Random Acts of Kindness. While a lovely program conceptually, the problem lies deeper than being randomly kind and handing out flowers or doing a good deed for someone. The fact that a program exists to draw attention to an action that should be an inborn habit, should give you a clue has to how much reform is needed. Be polite all the time. Use the manners that your mother (hopefully) taught you to use. Promote Consistent Acts of Manners instead.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Thoughts on being Rude

Are you a rude person? I'd like to think that I'm not, but I make more than my fair share of disparaging remarks about other drivers. A couple of days ago, though, I met my limit. The following is probably going to be a fairly long and somewhat boring story that ends in a morale. Fair warning. I was biking, as I often do, after work. The weather was beautiful and it's a great way to get some exercise. I'm not the fastest biker in the world, averaging 8-10 miles per hour. Keep in mind, however, that I am also pulling a 35 lbs kid and a 10 lbs carrier. I think that I'm doing pretty good. Oshkosh is not laid out for commuters on bikes. Neenah has bike lanes, even on some of their busiest streets. In Oshkosh bikers are forced to stay on the sidewalk or risk their life on the road. I see other bikers doing both, probably 50-50 each. I choose the sidewalk, not only because of my speed, but for the safety of my child that I'm towing. Sidewalks are designed for pedestrian traffic and don't leave much room for passing. So I object to the nasty comment "Thanks for moving over" from the headphoned teenage boy that was behind me. Some lessons in manners are needed, I believe. Playhouse Disney has them, young man. Perhaps you've heard of Manners with Max. No? Let me instruct you, then. When you want to move around someone, "Excuse me" is going to get you further than your silent sulking behind me. Secondly, "Thanks" is a more polite response to a person in your way, even if they gave you no help. I realize, young man, that you are most likely still trapped in a stage that has a strong egocentric force, but get over it. When biking down 9th St, in Oshkosh and traffic is whizzing by, no one is going to hear you coming up behind them when you also are moving under your own force. Last, a sarcasm tone is not your strong point. Next time, try a little inflection. Then be man enough to stay so I can teach you the manners that my 5 year old has.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Brilliant, Again

James Patterson never fails to delight and thrill my imagination. Honeymoon made my night. It was a really quick read. Even my mother agreed with me for once on that one. The novel is about an unlikely serial killer and the FBI agent who tracks her done. As I overwork my brain in an attempt to think of how to describe this thrilling volume, I faulter again and again. The story lines are woven so tight, and so brilliantly that I fear giving something away. To be generic, Patterson is a novelist that you need to read.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Bookcrossing Notes

I've left a book In Her Shoes on the northside counter of Jo-to-Go, if anyone is interested in a Bookcrossing book.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Neighboring Houses

When purchasing a house, you are really gambling. Is it a nice of a neighborhood as it seems in the middle of the day? Are there kids around? No kids? What about pets? If the neighborhood is a subdivision, another force is added to the mix with regulations about what can and cannot be done. Some of the questions are easy to answer. Driving through the neighborhood a several different times of the day should give an idea of what it is really like. The neighborhood association usually has a go-to person for any regulations that might be of concern. But there are a few questions that always remain unanswered, no matter how carefully a neighborhood is scouted. What does the street look like when it is Christmas time? Do the lights go up early and stay on late? Late, as in February? And what about dogs and kids? Is running through all yards exceptable? Or are restraints required for both? How about fences? Or those corner fences? What about trees? If your tree is hanging over my house/yard/driveway, do I have the right to critize your maintenance and upkeep of it? These are the sorts of things that make apartment living attractive, especially when your views and the neighbor's view don't match.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Bookworm Report, May 2005

Now that summer seems like it is really here, I've been spending less time reading. And with the release of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince just around the corner, I dusted off a couple of old favorites to re-read.

For the month of May, I read 3,417 pages or 7 books. In 2001, I read 4,659 pages/20 books; 2002, 1,517 pages/5 books; 2003, 3,803 pages/8 books; 2004, 3,977 pages/11 books.

For the year, I've read 37 books, or 13,294 pages, which averages to 7 books a month, or 2,659 pages per month, and an average book length of 359 pages.

For those of you keeping track, I missed reviewing a couple of titles last month. I'll be sure to catch up this month.

Local Writing Group

On the first and third Saturdays of the month, the Oshkosh Public Library hosts a writer's group, from 10 to 12. The next meeting is on June 4, or this Saturday. The format is announcements regarding upcoming events, like author visits, conferences and contests. The groups then splits for critiques. Every time I have brought a piece to read, I have always received good feedback in the areas that need improving, the bits that they liked, and encouragement to bring the next section. There are no membership fees, but it is restricted to those 17 and older as the pieces do contain adult themes and life issues. If you'd like more information, please call 231-6182 and speak with the group's organizer.