Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Still Around

I have been fiendishly writing like a good little authoress. Sometimes I catch myself over thinking a scene or a line and have to pull myself out and stop. Funny how one has to remind themselves that they are not trying to reinvent the wheel or publish THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL. Sure I would like to win a Pulitzer, but quite honestly, that is not why I have the desire to tell stories. I just believe I can write something in a different way, regardless of how many times the story has been done before.
Now I have to admit I could not finish House of Leaves. I tried, I really did, but it just got to be too off the wall and quite frankly, as beautiful and unusual as the layout of the book was, the story did not always hold me. I did like that the house was all sort of creepy, but it lost me after awhile. So I returned it and searched the library to see if anything jumped out at me. Amazing how many series there are and amazing that I am not a huge fan of such things. Anyway, I ended up checking out the book, American Wasteland.  All about how supermarkets, restaurants and the average person wastes A LOT of food and how we could be better about composting and using the waste. Some of it I was aware of already some of it was eye opening to say the least.

In more amusing house porn, I have become slightly obsessed with these fabulous Italian stoves by Fratelli Onofri

They are cheaper than Wolf or Sub Zero and come in colors. Yes, color. Isn't that refreshing from the old white, black and stainless steel? If one wants color in their appliances you will pay a small mortgage to do so. From $4K and up pretty much. Of course my AGA stoves are out of reach and I will always admire their beauty, but I need to keep the stove cost under $3500 if I can. Again, our kitchen redo is far far off in the future, but a gal can dream can't she?


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

News Fast and Good Things

I do not live in a bubble or wear rose colored glasses, but sometimes reading or hearing about tragedies can become overwhelming and then I also internalize. I had come across a few stories from around the world that troubled me so much, one had to do with a six month old infants death at the hands of his father which brought on such a visceral reaction I believe I scared my husband, that I started to border on a panic attack. I am not one who lives to read news or watch it, so the last few days have been a sort of overload. Between Colorado and other incidents around the world, I suddenly feel like I have woken up in the middle of the  film "Seven". Dreary, dark, grim and slimy. I know humans can be dark creatures, but sometimes you want a little more of the light in life. That does not mean I am looking to avoid the horrors that exist as well as the good. Of course I want to be well informed, but does it really matter if I know about a local crime in Australia or Ireland? Most likely not. Things out of our control can oddly start to grip us and I would like to do my best to prevent that. I need to embrace my former news fast behavior once again just to keep my sanity. That also means my focus has to stay more on the arts, charities, food, things that empower, not cripple with fear of living.

I have a friend who dislikes Jonathan Adler something fierce. Pretty much considers him a hack and I do not really disagree, but I do like his new line of colorful sinks for Kohler. I do not think I would use them in my main kitchen, but I can see it in a mudroom or wet bar or even summer kitchen. 

Decor8 features an awesome kitchen out of Denmark. Bolig Magazine

Why have I only just discovered Wilder Quarterly?? Gardening, food, here is their blog. Oh boy, I am in trouble.

If you like Folk Art/Americana and all things Made in America, then Folk Magazine and it's blog will be of great interest.

Have a beautiful day!


Friday, July 20, 2012

Off The Grid Living Article

Came across this article on The Guardian via the blog Down To Earth and it's an interesting read. A young man took photo's of his journey across American documenting how some Americans participate in off the grid living.
The comments section is even more interesting because of a discussion about how the project seems to  focus just on white people going back to the land and how it can come across as foolish or colonizing and libertarian. Read on and form your own opinion.

Lucas Foglia: the photographer in search of off-the-grid Americans


Monday, July 16, 2012

Beautiful Things

Hello Monday.
Now, I could be really deep and post about the beauty of life, spirituality or even simple living.
But not today. Today I am going to indulge in material things. Yes, I am going to indulge in the pricey, the ridiculous, the out of reach. Why? Because sometimes those things inspire. They may even make you aspire, but whatever the following things I post do, envy is not meant to come out of it. Beauty should never make one hateful or ugly. One should admire, respect and even attempt to replicate if you have the skills because that is the best of people instead of the worst.

I am obsessed, OBSESSED, with the Houzz website. I will not lie, it is incredible looking on the iPad.
This Craftsman Teahouse by the architectural firm Gardner Mohr Architects is something we would love to replicate for the exterior of our home.

Venegas and Company do beautiful cabinetry work.

This outdoor shower from Orvis makes me wish I had a really good reason for needing one of these.

I want storage drawers like these for our fruits and veggies when we redo our kitchen one day.

Big Chill refrigerators come in a variety of colors which is rare in this day of white, black and stainless steel.
These doors by Mendocino Doors are absolutely stunning. The craftsman ship is superb.

Stunning mudroom in Minneapolis.

Nothing more lovely than having an English Garden to wander through.

These bathrooms by Content Architecture are not usually my style, but I feel they are beautifully executed. Those pale blue glass tiles are stunning.

Have a very gorgeous day everyone!


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Just wow

Apparently in the world of reviews and reviewers there is an ugly battle going on. Seems some authors and readers are having knock down drag out fights and now there is a website site to fight these so-called Goodreads bullies. Yes, they have started a site to bully the bullies.
Really? What are we, seven?
I get people want to combat nasty and rude opinions when it does not lend itself to the work, but bullying back is not the solution. We all need to be better than that. Posting someone's personal info is a no no and I do not care how easy it is to find, do not help make it easier.
We are artists and some people will loathe your work no matter how much it sells or how long it sits on NY Times bestseller list. As I have said before, I hate the "In Death" series by Nora Roberts. I think it is trite, Eve is shallow, but do you think Nora Roberts cares? I also do not hate or attack the author personally. The wretched Twilight books and their evil spawn Fifty Shades of Gray are toilet paper to me and the grammar throughout those books are atrocious, but again, I am not calling the authors names or wishing them ill will. I am not sure why anyone would threaten an author or a reviewer over a book or a review. Astounding really.
I am someone who always reads the one star and five star reviews because you can get good info IF AND ONLY IF the person took the time to write a decent review about the actual content of the book. Saying you are pissed because the cover was ripped is lame and has nothing to do with the book and should be able to be deleted or you just ignore it.

Read the post about this ugly battle ad reader's comments on Smart Bitches Trashy Books.

**UPDATE: Writers Stacia Kane and Ann Sommerville share their opinions and some links on the matter.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Currently Reading

I am one of many whose name is on a loooooong list at their local library for a copy of  "Gone Girl' by Gillian Flynn. I had downloaded an excerpt to my Kindle and I liked it. Apparently it is a hot book and she is a very dark author. Truth be told I never heard of her until I read about the book a few months ago and thought the the subject matter sounded interesting. Of course, now with one sweep of Google I know all about her, her stint at Entertainment Weekly and her horrifying books. From what I gather reading reviews on Amazon and Good Reads is you will either love or hate her work. No in-between. So I cheated. I read spoilers on three of her novels: Dark Places, Sharp Objects and Gone Girl. For Gone Girl, when I had downloaded the excerpt, one of the first things I thought was **SPOILER ALERT HERE** "Amy pretended to be kidnapped" which is exactly what she did, but that is a very small piece in an enormous pie of misanthropic screw ups. Anyway, I did find out the ending and other juicy parts of the book and to be honest, I am fine knowing, now I am excited to see how well it is executed. Most readers seem to hate the endings of her novels. Everyone wants justice of some sort, but I admit, I like when people do not give a standard HEA. Sure it is going to leave you pissed off, I am sure I will be, but there are books out there that are meant to mess with our heads and stay in them for awhile. This seems to be the case of the book I discovered on Good Reads. (I have not become a member yet, but you do not need to be one to check out reviews and read book lists)

House of Leaves.

Right now, as I read this horror story I feel like I am in David Lynch's head. God Bless me. Add to that I get the whole Amityville Horror, American Horror Story and Evil Dead vibe and that sum it up beautifully. I am not sure if I will love this book, it has weird layouts, footnotes that are not real, all kinds of interesting strange stuff happening. Also I love the fist page where most people dedicate their novels to friend and family just has the following "This is not for you."
And hence the tone is set.  So far I cannot put it down which is a very good sign, but I will let you all know if I finish this 709 page novel. Yes, 709 pages. I cannot even fathom writing a book that long. It borders on insanely biblical.

Another thing. I like to read reviews on books. Mostly the one star reviews to find out what people disliked about the book. In Gilllian Flynn's case her reviews all varied. From language (curse words) to horrible writing, crappy plots, lack of outcomes, throwing in deus ex machina to the book was just too dark for some folks. I prefer the reviewers at Good Reads simply because there is no cattiness about the reviews. Amazon gets too pissy about people writing spoilers and reporting people and there was one reviewer who got into it with another about the quality of the book. She claimed 50 Shades of Crap, I mean, Gray, was good writing as it had a beginning, middle and end. (Sometimes that is all someone seeks. Bless Her Heart. Yes that was said with the requisite Southern Belle Accent) Then accused the person who disagreed with her as being over 50 and a prude. Let's hope that youngster cannot breed shall we? Anyway, Good Reads reviewers are a much more civil lot AND they will hide their reviews with a tag that says "Spoiler" so you have to click on that link to open the review. Very smart. *Note to Amazon there.

My writing is moving along, as all writing does, but I have an idea that keeps niggling at me and I do not want to address it until I am done editing. I heard that it took Chad Harbach ten years to finish "The Art of Fielding" God I want to be done sooner than that with the bounty hunter novel and get back to the Angel of Death one...but this other idea...arrgghhhh the creative mind LOL.


Saturday, July 7, 2012

The 'Busy' Trap - NY TIMES

As someone who grew up in NJ in close proximity to NYC, being busy is pretty much a way of life. You cannot live close to one of the most excitement cities in the world and not have ambitions, dreams, a desire to conquer all even if that only means car pooling your kids to three events in one day and then attending a yoga class.
Tim Kreider wrote a great opinion piece called "The 'Busy' Trap" which encapsulates how we all live today. Whether you are in Pittsburgh, Asheville, Los Angeles, New York or Ann Arbor, you will always act or say you are busy because if not, you perceive yourself as a lay about who should be trying harder to have your time taken up by the monotonous and mundane.
Now granted, I have a child so I am busier than Tim, but this comment is exactly how I feel.
"I am the laziest ambitious person I know. Like most writers, I feel like a reprobate who does not deserve to live on any day that I do not write, but I also feel that four or five hours is enough to earn my stay on the planet for one more day."
It is funny how one feels like they have to apologize for not having every second sucked up by some thing or other. I also think it is ridiculous how over scheduled children are today. Why? Most parents will tell you it is necessary for college applications. I bet a lot of colleges like to see kids that are well balanced. I doubt I would be exited to have an overly neurotic child doing three hours of homework every night after two hour of grueling practice and volunteer work. This has a lot to do with living near major metropolitan areas and the surrounding suburbs. Competition to be busy is fierce and I think it is very sad and telling of our times. Let's face it, we all need a mental break. We need time where we unleash ourselves from modern technology and obligations. time to read a magazine or just sit and watch the clouds. Sometimes we just need to not be 'busy'.



Thursday, July 5, 2012

When is Too Much Dialog Too Much?

We all like a nice light and airy, not a lot of thinking required books now and then. For me, that usually means some erotica/romance novel.
Now, I admit my own writing can be a little heavy on the dialog at times, but the two books I read had me groaning "Oh Come on!" in the style of  "Arrested Development" most of the time.

Both books were so heavy on the dialog that I was shocked when there was a moment where no one was talking. Then again, through the one book I was in the characters head so much I hated her. HATED HER.
H.A.T.E.D.  One of the reviewers on Amazon likened her to an emotional noodle and that pretty much sums it up. I almost wanted her to end up alone in a fetal position because she was just one big dimension of self pity. Every five minutes we were reminded by her vocalizing it to someone else or in her head that she couldn't let the man of her ever loving dreams in because he would hate what he would find. Or when he did get in and the sex scenes started, they talked so much I was surprised there was time for him to even get an erection. He was talking her off a cliff for half of the book because she was so "shattered". The heroine's story line was at best thrown together last minute to show why she was "broken" and determined to live like a nun suppressing her submissive side. There was paragraph after paragraph of dialog between the characters describing every single emotion known to mankind. The other interesting thing for me was that I recognized a lot of the dialog from a few other books the author had written.
This brings me to why a series can suck. When you are using the same seduction lines, the same back stories (all the Dominant males are big and tall, attractive sexy types that have more money than God) and the same Master/Submissive language in every book even if the series are different, I will recognize it. Am I trying to slander published author? No, God Bless her making cash, but please try harder to not have all your characters sound the freakin' same! I do not care how amazing you think the phrase is, PLEASE USE IT ONLY FOR THE ONE BOOK AND CHARACTER AND MOVE ON. Not every male in your various series should say the same words at the same time every time.
As for all the alpha males, in this book, there were five of them and they all have their own book in the series, mind you. When their beloved "brother"  is all bent out of shape because he wants this woman so much, they all get involved. Side step here - And we are given a detailed description of each of them as they enter the room. Why in the name of all that is holy can't someone write, "Henry walked in the room, his red hair disheveled from running his hands through it while contemplating how to win Jessica's love." No, instead we get, "Henry was an ex-Marine who was well over six foot two, broad shoulders, copper colored hair that hung low on his high forehead, high cheekbones and a gorgeous face. Why couldn't Jessica see how much he wanted her? Every time she looked at him with those big green eyes and opened that pouty mouth he could feel the blood rush to all his perfect features. His mouth watered every time she walked past him. That  buxom figure constricted by her conservative dress ripe for the picking."
Add to that there was always a friggin' pow wow between the friends and we are reminded how wealthy they all are, how scrappy, how well hung and whose heart they won, over and over again.
Conversation between characters is crucial. It shows us, the reader, a lot about them, but there is overkill. When things get mentioned more than three times or when a sex scene is filled with so much dialog you start to feel like you are in a therapy session instead of a dungeon with whips and love, you need to rethink what you are doing as the author. I get that Happy Endings are required in these genre novels, but must we be talked to death to get there?


Monday, July 2, 2012

Yup, this sums it up.

A June 8 post by YA writer, Natalie Whipple, pretty much states exactly what I have been going through as I edit/rehash my bounty hunter type novel. I have gutted full scenes and rewrote characters even when I loved something I had written in regards to description or dialogue, but it just did not work.

Allow Yourself To Think of Alternatives

I believe writers constantly question their path, their ideas and their dedication. We are solitary. We only have ourselves to answer to, until you have an agent, but I think even then, you are pretty much on your own.
I bounce things off my dog, my cat and my 6 month old. I say lines out loud to see if they make sense. I constantly say, "Write how your characters talk not you." 

When I learned how to knit one of things out teacher said to us in regards to making mistakes is "Do not be afraid to rip it out." There are times when you may have knit 10 rows and then catch the mistake. Sometimes it is not just an easy fix, sometimes you really do need to rip out all those stitches and start from the point where the mistake was made. Writing is the same way. I am no longer afraid to go back and rip out what does not work.