Thursday, April 30, 2009

Color Online Diversity Roll Call Asian Heritage Month

I'm participating in the Color Online Diversity Roll Call. May is Asian Heritage Month! Check it out here and write a blog of your own!

I visited a few Asian countries, Hong Kong, China, Vietnam and India and I enjoyed them all. I only stayed there for a few days in each country so I need to go back.

This is my favorite pic from India. We visited an elementary school there and the teacher told this little girl to show me her English cursive writing and I was very impressed. They didn't have desks.

India pic

My favorite country was Vietnam. We had such a good time there. The people were so nice. We went to an amusement park and everything. It was weird that they had KFC. Vietnamese food is so much better. We ate like kings! It was amazing learning about the Vietnamese War from their perspective. They called it the American War. It's a sobering experience in some ways. But everyone was so eager to help us it's hard to imagine that our countries were at such odds not that long ago.

Here's a list of five books I like that are written by Asian authors.

1. Waiting by Ha Jin
2. Gifted by Nikita Lalwani
3. Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
4. Waiting For You by An Na
5. A Good Indian Wife by Anne Cherian

I have read other books but I was just coming up with this off the top of my head. I must admit I like to read fiction about Indian culture the most. I just find it really fascinating, especially the whole arranged marriage thing. Lots of books have a good perspective on that. Also, I like the focus on education, that's a strong theme in these books. The pursuit of education or the lack of it.

Let's look at my favorite Asian music artists.

First of all I have to tell you about Jay Chou. I discovered him while I was in Hong Kong. It was meant to be. His concert DVD was playing in a department store and I loved it. He's practically the Justin Timberlake of Taiwan. I asked the saleslady who he was and they didn't speak English! But there was a big cardboard cutout of him so I figured it out. While I was in Hong Kong I bought all his albums and his concert CD. He has a music video for every song! Of course, I don't understand his songs because they are in Madarin but I've listened to some of them so much I can practically sing along!

I love Jay. This is my favorite music video of his.

Take a listen!

Finally, the Asian singer I'm really REALLY into...

... drum roll please...


hahahahahahaha. Didn't see that one coming did you? Man I can't WAIT until his CD. He's so cute with his southern accent and Indian roots. It's AWESOME! He is just so many things. He's a singer, he's a scholar, he's Indian, he's a typical North Carolina guy, he's got the voice of a pure R&B singer but he doesn't look like you would expect from just hearing him (which I love the most) plus he's talented and hot! This is a winning combination (even though he lost-- don't go there!).


He looks good in pink!


He's reading my blog. Oh Anoop. I know. It's so amusing.


He is full of soul!


Disco night dance was the best!


The perfect ending to this special month is his smile.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Writing Tip Wednesday #2

It's time for Writing Tip Wednesday!

I'm kind of sick of my novel. It's so long and it doesn't go anywhere. Haha, I'm having a grumpy writing day. So I thought I'd focus on revising one of my short stories. They don't go anywhere either but at least it's short! So with that in mind I went to the library to check out some books that could help me with my revision.

I think revision is very tough and I'm not very good at it. I always feel frustrated during the revision process. I feel frustrated during the writing process more than I feel like, heck yeah, I rock at this. Still, I want to do it all the time. It's so confusing.

So I picked up this book called Manuscript Makeover: Revision Techniques No Fiction Writer Can Afford to Ignore by Elizabeth Lyon. Let's look at what she had to say about the inner critique that I hear all the time.

(From pg. 9)

In the writer's internal universe, inner censors are parallel bad guys to inner critics. They are more insidious because they often live in the subconscious, although their development is a necessary stage of the socializing process of children through adulthood. Nobody brings his imaginary friend to the first day of college, for instance. [...]

Inner censors interfere with effective revision in a number of ways. For instance, most fiction writers act like protective parents toward their characters, especially the hero and his or her friends. Writers are too nice. You not only don't have to treat your characters nicely, but in revision you should look for ways to make the obstacles bigger, the complications seemingly endless, and their suffering worse. Avoid the temptation to rescue your characters. Instead of showing your hero running out of the rain into the shelter of a nearby building, make it a downpour with wind and hail and no way to quickly escape. Instead of another character being miffed at your hero, let him yell and cry and threaten-- or shove, push, beat or wound. A canon of good writing is never write away from a good fight. The inner censor would send you to reform school. But as a creative writer, you need full literary license to create suspense, which sprigns from conflict. Your one obligation is to be authentic to your characters and story.

Another manisfestation of the inner censor is drawing a blank.Perhaps you've been told that your story needs more development of setting, description, emotions, or characterization in general. Yet, when you reread your writing with the intent to revise, you can't get past the big stifling nada-- nothing comes to mind. Your tabula rasa blank screen stares back. For whatever reasons, you imagination is restricted, you must kick the inner censors where it hurts, and liberate your creativity. You have to figure out how to not draw a blank when you do indeed draw one.

I don't know if this is all advice, per se, but these are real feelings that I have experienced. Especially the one where you go to revise and you just stare at it like what the hell am I supposed to do? I think that's why I don't do it. Those inner censors, they can really wreak havoc on your writing life, can't they? I like how Elizabeth Lyon describes all of this, like she's reaching into my mind. Are these feelings really that common? So how does anyone ever overcome them and create a masterpeice that wins a Michael Printz award?

I guess you just have to let go, let go of yourself and your inner critic like Matt Giraud always did on stage and the thing that Anoop Desai never quite acheived after Beat It. (I think I'm gonna make American Idol comparisons all the time now.) But it seems like the inner censor is so ingrained inside of you, following you with every letter that you type. Even now I hear it in my head, "aren't you being a bit melodramtic right now in your blog?" Well, it's my blog and I'll write what I want to!

Maybe that's the first step to silencing it. I must confront it.

But how do you know when it's really good? Does your inner censor stand up and give you a simple standing O like Simon did after Adam Lambert sang Mad World? I don't know what that feels like because it's never happened for me. I haven't felt completely finished with anything.

What I can definitely take away from that passage is that you have to be daring and push yourself and push your characters too. Oh yes, you want to be easy on them. But the best books are never easy.

Reading that and typing that gave me a lot to think about. The good thing is that I did manage to get something going with the novel tonight so I don't hate it anymore. I like it again. We're good.

Do you have any revision thoughts? Post them below!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

TBR Tuesday: Summer Edition

So I was like, I want to post today but I don't really know what to say. I started reading Korianne's blog because of Maureen Johnson's wonderful idea of Blog Every Day April. I really like her colorful blog and her feature To Be Read Tuesday. So I'm copying it. Credit goes to her. (Remember Korianne, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!)


Graduation from high school?

A senior thesis?

A betrayal by someone you love?

A loss of innocence?

The death of a parent?

Losing the family you always wished you had?

Facing a harsh reality?

What's the line that separates childhood from the "real world"? And what happens when it's nothing you imagined it would be?

Do you want to be a published author?

The editors at HarperCollins invite you to submit a short story about a character who has to face the "real world" for the first time. The story must involve a single, life-changing event. First prize is the opportunity to be published alongside your favorite authors in the paperback edition of the No Such Thing as the Real World collection. All stories must be between 5,000 and 10,000 words long, and all contributing authors must be between fourteen and nineteen years old.

That's like the only description I could find. I guess it's the inside of the book. It's sort of strange but that contest sounds really good.

Basically, it's a book of short stories. I'm a big fan of short stories, especially literary ones because I try to write them (and fail). YA short stories are always fun and this collection sounds like it can be really entertaining. I'm a big fan of the big life issues in YA fiction so this is right up my alley. Plus, look at those authors. I mean, come on. You'd have to be crazy not to want to check this out!

Well, a copy has been ordered for the library. I'm going to put that on hold immediately and then come back here and tell you all about it!

One of my fave YA short fiction collections is Mixed: An Anthology of Short Fiction on the Multiracial Experience. Actually I've seen it in both adult and YA so I'm not sure what it is but it doesn't matter because it's excellent. It's a bunch of short stories featured main characters of mixed race and not just black/white but all different kinds of combinations (haha, that sounds funny). The best part is that the writing is excellent. I've read it at least twice. It's a book you can pick up again and again and you'll just find something new to appreciate in all of the short stories. In fact, I want to read it again right now! So definitely give it a try, even if you're like, I don't know... short stories. Short stories are good! They give you a lot to think about.


Wow, it looks like it's gonna rain outside. So much for walking home today. In honor of my chosen TBR book I'm going to leave you with the possible song that brought inspiration for the title, No Such Thing by John Mayer.

John Mayer - No Such Thing
Uploaded by Cehcw

Monday, April 27, 2009

Dopesick Review

Dopesick by Walter Dean Myers


Lil J is in more trouble than he can handle when a drug deal with his associate Rico goes wrong and before he knows it, he's running for his life after Rico shoots the cop. Shot in the arm, tired and scared, Lil J ducks into an abandoned crackhouse looking for sanctuary. What he finds is a young man named Kelly with a TV and a remote that can show Lil J his past, present and future. Lil J begins to tell Kelly his story as they wait for night to pass and Kelly keeps pushing Lil J asking, why why why?

The novel is a conversation, it's a moment, it's a time machine, it's a lot of different things happening all at once connected by sparse prose, true-to-life speech that becomes it's own kind of poetry.

Dopesick basically occurs over one night but it is not about one night, it's about a lifetime, many lifetimes and the choices we make based on our situation, our beliefs and the reality of the community around us and how it shapes our lives. There is also an underlying theme of personal responsibility and how Lil J ended up in this place is a result of his own actions and choices.

Lil J is 17 and his life has been hard. He's poor, his mom is always drunk and sick, his dad is gone, his baby mama's mother won't let him see his own son, the schools gave up on him and along with being dopesick he is broke-sick. Lil J knows that more money can break this cycle so he's always hustling, looking for a job, or trying to look except when the drugs get in the way and other distractions take him down. The problem is Lil J may be more of a user than he's willing to admit.

This is a gritty look at the life of some teenagers and it could be anywhere, not just Harlem. What I liked about this book was that it focused on Lil J but it was also a meta-view about how beliefs just ingrained inside of you can lead you to make the decisions you make. The belief that you were born to be a certain way or maybe a self-fulfilling prophecy, how this can lead to a slippery slope into a life you never meant to have. That was the universal message for me, that could apply to anyone's situation.

Kelly is the secondary character in this story, someone we never really get to know. I had my theories about him but they never quite panned out and the ending just left me more intrigued about what was really going on. Kelly pushes Lil J to answer the real questions, to look deep inside of himself and just talk to find the right solution. Unfortunately in this book there are no easy answers and I found myself asking questions right until the end. Everything that happens is open to interpretation. I have my own thoughts but I don't want to spoil you more than I already have.

For all of the drug use, the violence and the other adult aspects of Lil J's life the book is surprisingly clean. I don't remember any really bad words and nothing is described in a graphic way (which is why I'm still trying to imagine what "skin-popping" is like).

I looked at the book jacket cover about halfway through the book (because when it's Walter Dean Myers you don't really have to know what it's about before you pick it up!) and it says, "Walter Dean Myers weaves elements of magical realism into a harrowing story about drug use, violence, alternate perceptions of reality, and second chances."

What struck me about that sentence was magical realism, which is an element of literature that's very interesting to me. Wikipedia says, "Magic realism, or magical realism, is an artistic genre in which magical elements or illogical scenarios appear in an otherwise realistic or even "normal" setting."

The magical realism in this book is very subtle but the great thing about magical realism is that you don't think twice about whatever that "magical" component may be because the world of the story just accepts it so you do too. I think this was achieved in Dopesick.

Now this book may not be everyone's cup of tea. It's not full of action or plot or descriptions or things like that but it's a reflection of Lil J's life, of your life, of the life of people you may never know or someone who lives right down the block. It's a quick read but it will stay with you and keep you thinking about Lil J's life and your own life and the choices you make.

Highly recommended. For something different you need to give this a try.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sunday Weekly Word Count [1]

I decided that instead of posting my word count daily, I'm just going to do it weekly. And hopefully, someone will join me. Eventually.

Words: ~ 3129
Pages: ~ 7

Words: 769
Pages: 2

Words: 548
Pages: 1.5

4/22 (a sad day in history... Anoop was voted off Idol)
Words: 614
Pages: 2

Words: 2282
Pages: 5.7

Words: 2135
Pages: ~ 5

4/25 (tried to write after coming home from the club but the vodka tonics won)
Words: 331
Pages: ~ 1

So that brings my grand weekly total to 9808 words/24.2 pages.

I've reached the 100 page point on my first draft. That makes me feel good. It also makes me feel nervous because I have a lot of things that have yet to happen and they need to happen. Seems like this thing is turning into the Odyssey or something... it's never gonna stop! I think that's why some writers have outlines so they don't get on a tangent. But it's just a first draft so you can go all topsy turvy and reel it in on the second draft. At least that's what they tell me. I don't know. Maybe nobody has ever said that to me.

I usually write sitting cross legged on my couch on this laptop. Sometimes I watch TV but all this weekend I have been enjoying the musical styling of Anoop Desai, Matt Giraud, Adam Lambert, Alexis Grace and Danny Gokey (those are all the American Idol Studio Recordings I have) along with other random artists on my iPod. I have 80 gigs on the iPod but I've only used like 5. I don't know what to do with all that space. When I finally bought an iPod I got a little greedy.

It was such a gorgeous day this weekend I got the opportunity to write outside. I wrote the "My Life as a Rhombus" review outside and some of my story. It was kind of hard only because of the glare. Oh when the sun is shining brightly I hardly know what to do!

My first drafty excerpt from this week:

The city was about 45 minutes away. The bus made its way down Roanoke Drive past all of the subdivisions, through downtown, out to the highway that would take us directly to Detroit. When we first moved to Meadowbrook I thought it was a pretty town, if not boring. There were a lot of brick buildings and flowers everywhere. The sidewalks were smooth and lawns perfectly manicured. Everyone’s house had a second bathroom, if not three. There was a golf course in the middle, nothing world-class, but for the state it was top notch and people traveled a long way just to play on it.

As the bus drove closer to Detroit, the landscape changed. Fences were often broken, the houses were smaller. Inside the city there were empty lots, overgrown with grass and strange weeds, stray dogs wandering the sidewalk a couple of streets away. Former mansions were now crumbling covered in gang sign graffiti, windows broken and stairs fallen in. The bus bumped over some very large potholes that made everything bounce in their seat. I clung onto the edge of my seat and spilled some of my Gatorade on my pants. Kids our age just stood around, on street corners and sometimes in the middle of the street or on the stoop just standing and talking or drinking or staring hard at the big fancy bus rolling though, staring through it as if they could see us but we knew the windows were tinted because the sun shone in our direction like it was trapped under an unspecified haze. Still, I knew they could tell where we came from and that it was nothing like this place.

Look for my review of Dopesick by Walter Dean Myers tomorrow!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

My Life as a Rhombus Review

Note to Self: Do not return the book to the library until you've written the review. LOL

My Life as a Rhombus by Varian Johnson

Rhonda Lee has one more year in high school and she has her head on straight. There is no room for distraction as she works her way towards a full scholarship at her dream school Georgia Tech. Rhonda is a smart girl with an affinity for math and she uses her talents to tutor kids after school. Despite her strict "no high schoolers" rule Rhonda is forced to tutor Sarah Gamble, a pretty, popular girl at her prep school whom Rhonda's despises. As Rhonda spends more time with Sarah she soon realizes that they share the same secret. Sarah's pregnant just like Rhonda was three years ago.

This book is exactly the type of book I love to read. First of all I'm a big fan of "problem" novels and teenage pregnancy is a huge issue. But this novel is about much more than a couple of teenage pregnancies. It's about friendship, love, honesty, forgiveness, father-daughter relationships and there's a few other themes you could glean from the pages. The writing is crisp abd inviting. The characters and dialogue are vibrant and believable. The geometry framing of the novel just blew my mind. Trigonometry started to come back to me! Congruent angles and all of that.

Most of all, the book is about suburban black teenagers which I really enjoy, coming from that type of background. But this is a book anyone can relate to, no matter where you come from. This is evidenced by the fact the book is written by a man who has never been pregnant or a teenage girl. Rhonda's voice is so strong through out the novel, so authentic, and that's what really drew me in. You can see all the sides of Rhonda, the cracks her facade before she even realizes it. The multilayeredness of the narrative is impressive and enriching.

Rhonda's various relationships were the heart and soul of the story. It was heartbreaking to learn how Rhonda's relationship with her dad changed after her pregnancy and you could tell there was a lot of love between them even though her dad was lacking with the physical affection. The way this changed throughout the book was one plot point that kept me turning the pages. Rhonda and Sarah become fast friends, bonded by circumstance, but Sarah's brother David really steals the show as Rhonda develops some serious feelings for him and finds that they are reciprocated. The romance between Rhonda and David and tender but most importantly, honest. Rhonda experiences a lot of temptation when she falls for David and this is a main component of her inner struggles.

Teenage pregnancy is no stranger to YA literature and it's always interesting to see how it plays out. This novel provides an compelling view of abortion and how it could affect someones view of the future. There is no preaching in this book and personal opinions about abortion are expressed only though the characters. I thought the book did a great job as coming off a neutral but at the same time it didn't shy away from the thoughts and feelings that could occur for a young woman in this situation. I really appreciated this sensitive portrayal.

Not only was the book sad and heartfelt and touching but it was also funny and I found myself rooting for quite a few people except for Sarah Gamble's mother. I really recommend this book to anyone who's looking for a fine example of YA lit across all cultures and topics. I'm really happy I got a chance to read it.

The paperback version I read has a great discussion section in the back so make sure to check that out. I wanted to quote something but I returned the book! So you'll just have to go read it.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Purge by Sarah Daer Littman

Here's another book review:

Purge by Sarah Daer Littman

Janie Ryman can hardly believe her life when she ends up a Golden Slopes, a psychiatric in-patient treatment facility. For two years, Janie has been bulimic and it finally catches up with her one night at her sister's wedding. Inside Golden Slopes Janie describes the conflict between the Barfers (bulimics) and the Starvers (anorexics) and how they all co-exist among the Generally Psycho (others). Janie has a lot to learn about her eating disorder and herself but at Golden Slopes she finds her way to the path of recovery.

This was a surprisingly funny book. It had a lot of laughs and energy, especially at the beginning.
Towards the end, the book loses some momentum but at the same time you have to keep going because you really want to know what happened. It's told in the first person from Janie's point of view, punctuated by her journal entries which are used to further illustrate her emotion and what happened in her past to land her at Golden Slopes. Writing about recovering from an eating disorder is always a tricky thing and I felt like it was handled well in the book. Janie's obsession with purging as a substitute for dealing with emotions and other things is very believable. There is not much stilted preaching about what an eating disorder can do to your body, though there is some. I think the book does a good job of dealing with the warped thinking that a person with an eating disorder might have.

It's an honest book. However, it did not keep my full attention the whole time like I wanted it to. The ending was sort of anticlimactic and rushed which made it unsatisfying. I was glad when I finally got to learn what happened at the wedding but I did not like the way that information was delivered. It was kind of hard to keep track of all the characters.

Overall, the writing was nice and the characters were all very witty. Recommended if you like books about eating disorders. I would also recommend Perfect by Natasha Friend for another good book about someone suffering from bulimia.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Writing Tip Wednesday #1

This is a new weekly feature on my blog. Every Wednesday I will feature a writing tip I get out of a book or from an interview or something. Now I never said it was the most amazing writing tip in the world but it will give us something to talk about.

These writing tips will never come from me! What do I know? But I will make my own comments.

Writing Tip Wednesday Tip #1

From Writing for Young Adults by Sherry Garland

A title should reflect the plot, a character or some aspect of the story, yet it should be unique in itself. It should evoke feelings, stir curiosity and give a hint of the story. If a story is humorous, the title should bring a smile to the lips. If it is a murder mystery, the title should make the reader think of dark and deadly things. Certain words connote female or male readership. For example, girls tend to buy novels with words such as dream and love in the title; boys like words such as weird, freak, horror, and dragon. Books written to appeal to both sexes often have more neutral titles, perhaps based on the name of a character or a famous quote. [...]

If you are having difficulty with your title, try the word association (or branching) technique. In the middle of a sheet of paper write down a key word about the book-- a location, occupation or event. Then draw lines from the central topic and write subcategories. Under each subcategory write every word that comes to mind and then branch off and create further subcategories. Write fast and furiously, listing everything, no matter how silly it may sound. Finally, begin to combine words from the different categories and subcategories. Make a sheet for each main topic that occurs in your story.

I think it's kind of sexist to assume that girls like 'love' in the title and boys like 'dragon'. Haha, dragon. But I'm thinking about older YA readers. Maybe this is more true for middle school readers. I remember when I was in middle school I really liked this book called Falling in Like. So maybe she is right about that!

Titles are one of the best part of reading and writing to me. Most of the time a title comes organically for me, it actually comes first. And then I want to write something just to fit that title. But when I don't get a title right away, oh boy, that's a pain. I actually have a short story I'm working on now that I just cannot title. So maybe I will try that branching technique. I certainly can't hurt.

I definitely judge a book by it's title (and cover). A good title to me is simple but interesting. Like Paper Towns by John Green. Two words, no large syllables but you're like, what's a paper town? And so you're looking at the book jacket with the angry girl or the happy girl. Titles and covers, they go hand in hand don't they? I'm not a big fan of names in the title or a character name as a title. However, sometimes it really works like Lolita. I can't deny that one.

It really sucks when you have to hunt for a title. That makes me nervous.

The book I want to read based just on the title? Five Minutes More by Darlene Ryan.

Bottom line: Titles have to make readers want to read the book.

What are your favorite titles? Post them below.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

4/21/09 Word/Page Count

word: 548
Pages: 1.5

As we know... it was an Idol night. So not much writing was done. But what occurred, I enjoyed it. See, getting this story on paper... it's surprising me what's going on. First of all, I'm about 100 pages into draft one and the true conflict of the novel hasn't happened yet. The main character's best friend, he's barely in it! And I'm like, how can they be BFFs if they never talk? And I start writing scenes and I'm like where did that come from? John Green wrote that he's not surprised by what his characters do but when I write, I feel like I am. Or maybe I just don't really know where my brain wants to go. I don't know.

So I got my ice cream. I had a tried and true fave, the vanilla/orange sherbet combo. I sat outside and ate it even though it was cold. I really enjoyed it. Oh Ben & Jerry's free cone day, why can't you always be present?

This is turning out weird. Truth is I'm tired and I don't want to go to work tomorrow. I'd better quit while I'm ahead.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

4/20/09 Word/Page Count

Words: 769
Pages: 2

Wow, this day was pretty much a fail on the writing front. I don't know what happened I just lost all focus. I got too excited about American Idol and Twitter and watching Role Models and there was rain and I ate a lot of junk so... I just wrote my page right now and I'm so sleepy I have a headache and I still have to twist my hair so I can rock the 'fro tomorrow even though the rain will just shrink it anyway so why bother but I can't wear a hat because it's against the rules.

That was a run-on sentence.

Don't forget. Vote for Anoop tomorrow. Also, free Ben-n-Jerry's at participating stores. 50 cent Iced Coffees at Dunkin' Donuts. I want you to get the best deal out of life, even if it means pleasure now, heart attack later.


Monday, April 20, 2009

Night Hoops Review

Night Hoops by Carl Deuker

Nick Abbott is a player and he knows it. He bleeds basketball and he's ready for the chance to prove it on the court as part of the Bothell High varsity basketball team. Once the basketball court is laid down in his back year Nick is out there every day, practicing and focusing on his game. It's a necessary distraction from all the fighting in his house and the commotion with the new neighbors across the street. The family has a boy Nick's age, Trent Dawson, who is not the type of person his parents want him associating with. However, Nick learns that Trent is also a player and in order to keep his basketball team together he has to help Trent try to help himself.

I really adored this book from start to finish. Nick Abbott is an instantly likable character who leaps off the page. After the first page I knew I was reading an authentic, well-written novel. I was so inside Nick's head that I cringed and covered my eyes whenever he made his stupid mistakes in basketball practice. I really felt his confusion, loneliness, doubt and triumph.

The book had a cheerful cast of characters including Trent, Nick's family, and some of his teammates. The author does an excellent job portraying the basketball team without overwhelming the reader with too many names and little things to remember about everyone. He uses the varsity team coach to pull everything together and the atmosphere of the locker room tells the reader everything they need to know about how the team is feeling and functioning.

The plot is jam-packed with basketball, family troubles, mystery, embarrassment and bad behavior but it is all weaved together artfully and keeps the story moving. There is a real sense of growth with Nick, Trent and the entire basketball team. The end will have you cheering like you were actually there. All of the scenes on the court are full of heart-stopping excitement, masterfully described so that a layperson with no background in basketball can enjoy it as well as those who are more familiar with the sport. It's a difficult task to vary sentences and describe shots so that it all sounds different each time but Deuker rises to the occasion through many basketball games and scores a slam dunk.

All in all, I'd highly recommend this book if you're looking for a strong YA novel from an authentic male point of view, especially if you want to read a sports novel. It's not scandalous, but it is very solid. The basketball scenes might bore people who aren't into basketball though but I still think you should give it a try.

4/19/09 Word/Page Count

Words: ~ 3129
Pages: ~ 7 (I skipped around too much to really count)

I watched the Natalee Holloway story today on Lifetime Movie Network and it was pretty sad. It just reminded me that something bad can happen to you at anytime and you shouldn't take your life for granted. Also you should always be vigilant. I was thinking about my semester abroad and how I put myself in bad situations for no reason. Luckily nothing happened to me. In fact, the only person who stole from me was a classmate and it sucked. But I should have listened more. I mean, I walked around Vietnam alone at night not really sure where I was going. Not once but about three times. And you know, for the most part it was safe, but you still shouldn't DO things like that. And there's other things that I did that I shouldn't have, in the states and overseas.

So why am I here and Natalee is not? I do not know.

My study abroad class had about 700 people in it and out of those only 18 were black (only one was a guy) with one black staff member. Most of us hung out together and we would joke that we didn't have to worry about terrorist or kidnappers because they would want all of our white counterparts before having anything to do with us. I don't know if that joking mindset contributed to my inflated sense of safety but looking back it's kind of silly. Everyone has to be careful, no matter what your race is, no matter where you are.

What did writers do before spellcheck? I swear, I'm the worst speller in the word. So many words get me. If they are more than four letter long I don't know how to spell it. I remember in 2nd grade I used to do so well on spelling tests that I was part of the group that got to play Oregon Trail in the back while the other kids had to take the spelling test over again. Well I peaked in second grade and that's sad.

I wrote a letter in longhand the other day and it was the most painful experience. My handwriting is awful and I have that spelling problem. Luckily, I didn't have to be very multisyllabic so I made it through. I was totally going to transition into a different topic here, but I forgot so I guess it wasn't that important.

There's a new channel on Music Choice called Throwback Jamz and I love it. I can't do anything in silence. I must have noise around me at all times. Whether it's TV, music or human chatter, I wanna hear it. Maybe it's my generation, we're used to constant stimulation. That's why we can write a paper, chat on IM and Facebook and watch TV and listen to music all at the same time. It's essential! Well for some people. Not all. But I can't imagine ever being in a silent room trying to do serious work. Oh no, that would never work for me. I would go crazy. I might have to jump out a window.

This weekend I spent a long time walking. It's great for thinking. I like to constantly be in motion, along with music or whatever the auditory stimulation of the moment is. Sometimes I know I should take the headphones out of my ears and really listen to the world but the music is so good. I don't know, I'm not cool.

Well, one more day until American Idol. There's not much to do but wait. We Anoop fans are gearing up for a real FIGHT come Tuesday night. There's one girl who says she's going to be voting with three phones. I don't know how that works since you only have two hands. Me, I'm stuck with only one phone so that's frustrating. We're all a little frustrated because we've been doing the best we can voting every week and our poor guy is still in the Bottom Three despite STELLAR performances that the judges always try to paint as less than they really are. Still, we're die-hard fans, we muddle through, ready to vote again. The double elimination is going to be really tough but I can really see Anoop making it through the storm. I just want him to make this one more week so we can stuff it in the face of all the haters who think he's a goner for sure. So vote for Anoop! Yeah.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Perfect Shot by Elaine Marie Alphin

It took me a while to get through this book, not because it wasn't good but because it was LONG. But I finished it today so here's my review.

The Perfect Shot by Elaine Marie Alphin

Brian Hammett's life hasn't been the same since his girlfriend Amanda Daine was gunned down last summer along with her mother and little brother. Now Amanda's dad is on trial and Brian tries to put the whole thing out of his mind by focusing on his basketball game and leading his team, the Warriors, to a championship victory. However, Brian can't shake the nagging feeling he's had ever since he noticed a jogger in his cul-de-sac on the day of the morning. An intense school project and the unlawful arrest of his best friend keep Brian thinking about justice and what he can do personally to make sure that Amanda's murderer is caught.

This book is jam-packed with plot so it's hard to summarize it in one neat little paragraph. This is a suspense novel but it is so much more. It's also a sports novel, a psychological novel, sort of a romance novel, an adventure novel, a murder mystery, a law novel, a history novel... there are so many aspects to the story that it's no wonder the book spans over 300 pages.

The main character Brian is complex, instantly likeable, a real leader through and through, someone you can root for. His journey is wrapped up in the personal well-being of his teammates and even the entire town. He has a lot of responsibility and seeing him struggle with all that is demanded of him is the heart of the story.

Brian has to work on a history project with outsider Todd about Leo Frank, a man who was accused of murdering a 13 year old girl and charged guilty when he was actually innocent. It's a witchhunt of sorts that occurs in Atlanta, Georgia in 1913. This historical mystery runs in parallel to the Daine murder trial that is happening in the present. Alphin devotes a lot of time to explaining this case through the eyes of Brian and Todd, who have to tell the class what lessons we can learn from this moment in time. The Leo Frank case is the catalyst for Brian to re-examine his own role in finding Amanda's killer.

The characterization, the dialogue, the action is very realistic and enjoyable. The teammates, the school, parents and other authority figures are different, well-rounded and familiar in all the best ways. The basketball scenes are a highlight of this book, very cinematic and easy to understand for the sports-challenged but also vivid for those who are familiar with basketball. I just adored them, especially since the games matched the mental anguish that Brian is experiencing at the time.

There is a compelling sub-plot with Julius, Brian's best friend who is growing up a black man in a predominantly white neighborhood. He's arrested for no reason in some other white neighborhood and it really shakes him up. I think the author does a fine job exploring Julius' realization of the role race has in this world and also how his white classmates have trouble understanding his new attitude. It's very interesting to watch it play out.

Like I said before, the book is long. I feel like the beginning drags because it's basically a day by day look at Brian's life over several days and the reader is sort of beat over the head by the "perfect shot" theme of the book. Also, some of the discussions about Leo Frank get a little lengthy. It feels like scenes that the author wrote that are really great to read but in the end should have been left on the cutting room floor. However, by the middle of the book things are moving nicely and the end is just a speeding train. I think the book could have been paced more evenly but the extra stuff is not bad.

There's so much to talk about in this book I can barely put it all into words. What I can suggest is that you this book a try. I promise that most likely you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

4/18/09 Word/Page Count

Words: 828
Pages: 2.1

One of those writing days where I'm like, yay I have this scene in my head that's really fun I'm gonna write it and then it doesn't end up that way at all and you're like, hmmm that sucks I'm gonna quit now. Yeah.

I am not a fan of italics in books and stories. To me they just look really annoying. And for the most part, I find them unnecessary. If you want something to be emphasized it should be apparent in the context of the sentence or whatever. Usually, this comes within dialogue. I just feel like the author is forcing something on me when they use italics. It's an intrusion that reminds me yes, I'm reading a book right now, it's not real. I don't appreciate that!

I read this book called Self-Editing for Fiction Writers which I thought was really fun and it had some good tips. One of the tips was try not to us -ly words after your dialogue tags. Basically the book said that if a character is saying something "nastily" or "hesitantly" it should come off in the actual sentence or words or description and if it doesn't then you should go back and try again. I decided to try this but it's really hard! Because I like writing "This isn't the best idea," Sarah said morosely. I think you can do that for the first draft but you should probably try to improve that kind of stuff on the revision. That's why it's called self-editing.

People also say not to use any other dialogue tags but "said" because that's like background noise and something else such as "yelled" is the author inserting themself into the story. I pretty much agree with that. I especially don't like reading "Oh well," Adam shrugged. You can't shrug words, put a period there! haha.

Dialogue is my favorite part of writing a story. I love the interaction and back and forth between characters. One of the challenges I need to focus on with my writing is how do I make characters who are similar ages and have similar backgronds speak differently? I don't want everyone sounding exactly the way. I think the difference comes from what's important to them and how they see the world. I'm still struggling with this dilemma. I guess I need to read more!

4/17/09 Word/Page Count

Words: 1332
Pages: 3.3

I'm quite sleepy right now. I need to get up.

I live in a basement apartment so you have critters sometimes. I made a deal with a spider that if he stayed in his corner and out of the way where he could not be seen I would let him live. And it worked out for a couple of weeks. But then yesterday I came back from the bathroom and what do I see? A spider on my ceiling. That was it. The agreement was broken. I stepped on the back of my couch and killed it.

So the universe decides to karmically punish me tonight by having one of those million-legged centipedes run across my floor. They are HUGE. It's not a regular centipede. It's too late to properly describe it. But the first one I saw one I was on the phone with my dad screaming for my life. He had to coach me through killing it. Let me tell you, they are scary.

I really need to clean this place up.

I saw 17 Again tonight and really enjoyed it. I recommend it. It's so funny to see Zac Efron acting like a dad. He does a great job. And let me tell you he is EASY on the eyes. Yum yum yum yum yum yum. How did he grow up so great? In Summerland he was such a dork.


Friday, April 17, 2009

Question about using the N-word (contains the actual word)

So I started reading this book called Hoops of Steel by John Foley. I'm into basketball books right now. I still have to finish the Perfect Shot but I wanted a light book to carry around today because I'm going to be walking around.

I got through a few pages on the bus and then I had to stop because I was kind of offended. Let me share the passage:

"Dad," Danny said. "this is Jackson O'Connell from Highland."

"What, you bring the enemy into my place of work?" his father asked with a wink at me. Then he came over and shook hands. "Sure, I remember you, lefty with the quick step. Was wondering what happened to you last year."

"Broken hand," I said. "Had to sit out."

"How're you guys looking next year?"

"Not as good as Shoreview."

"That's because you don't have any niggers up there in Highland," he said. "You need some niggers to compete nowadays."

"Dad," Danny complained, noticing my discomfort. "Remember, you promised Mom to stop using the N-word?"

"Okay, blacks, coons, whatever, you know what I mean."

Danny rolled his eyes and smiled at me. "African-American is the preferred reference," he said.

"You're sounding more like a lawyer every day," Mr. Larson said. "And it's not preferred by me. What a stupid name. Too long, and it gives the idea they're some special kind of Americans. You hear me calling myself an Anglo-American, for crissake?"

"We're gonna go shoot some hoops before you really get rolling, Dad."

Mr. Larson put his hand around Danny' shoulder. "Yeah, go have some fun," he said. They were close, talking to each other like friends, and it made me a little jealous.

I'm not offended because of the use of the N-word or anything. I mean, people talk like that, I get it. And people don't say anything, and it's all laughed off and continued. I can't change it. But the part that offends me is the narrator really doesn't have any reaction at all to the language, except for his friend Danny noticing some discomfort. But after that what he takes away from the conversation is that Danny and his dad are close, which is all well and good, but what about what Danny's dad was saying?

I'm not saying his reaction should be, oh my God, I can't believe Danny's dad said that, it's so RACIST!

Maybe he's like, I admired that Danny tried to correct his dad but that's how all the guys talked in Shoreview, so it wasn't a big deal.

Or maybe, Danny's dad seemed so different from Danny, even though they acted like friends. I wondered how Danny's dad acted around the black members of Danny's team, if he watched his language around them.

Or maybe, I walked out of the store with Danny, feeling uncomfortable. It didn't feel right to listen to someone using derogatory slurs but it wasn't my place to say anything. Besides, they don't even apply to me.

Point is, I'm not saying there should be some big moral lesson in this but I feel like... well there should be some payoff, otherwise using the N-word is just gratuitous. What was the point? If it's to show that Danny's dad is an asshole, well the narrator (his name is Jackson) didn't even think that or hint at that or say that. If it's to say that Shoreview is a tough town then... I'm still waiting for that too. I'm just waiting for more. I know we're supposed to show not tell when we write but when you show it should be sort of obvious what you're telling, if you know what I mean.

Maybe I'm thinking too much about this. I just think it's really weird and I didn't enjoy it because it just seemed to be there to be there. If you wanna show Danny and his dad are close do they really have to bond over Danny telling him not to use the N-word?

Anyway, I may just be getting ahead of myself or ranting for no reason. I flipped through a few pages after that and didn't see any further discussion but I'm only 15 pages into the book so maybe it's too early for judgement.

What do you think? Am I looking too deeply into this?

I'll keep you updated.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

4/16/09 Word/Page Count

words: 1,204
pages: 2.5

So I went to see Libba Bray speak today and it was great. I must admit, I haven't read any of her books. I'm not really into historical fiction or like vampires or fantasy books... I am so narrow-minded. I need to push myself. So hey I have a signed free copy of the book. Okay, I'm going to read it. She said it was like Buffy in the Victorian Era.

She's such a creative person. Who can think of that? She was really funny. She opened with a Teenage Humiliation Story where she asked a guy out and he basically turned her down. Funny, the same thing happened to me! I was in ninth grade and I ask this guy and I will always remember his name but I won't post it and he turned me down. I looked up his address on mapquest and rode my bike there. It was like 4 miles away and across a highway-- literally. Why was I such a crazy kid? Nobody will ever, ever know.

Anyway, after that she started talking about writing the Gemma triology. It was fascinating. She used to be a ghostwriter for the Sweet 16 series. I don't know what it is really. I found something cryptic on Google but then I got sick of looking. But before that she was a playwright and I was like, wow! She's been doing this her whole life. That's crazy! She's very brave to always live the writing life.

So after ghostwriting she got the chance to do her own thing and the idea came to her because she's "creepy" as she said. And she did all this research. She was used to outlining from ghostwriting but for this book she just wrote and let it come organically, which is like what I'm doing. Screw outlines! And then she got to go to England to research and she had a lot of fun. The second book she really enjoyed writing. But the third book was the killer. She told us how she didn't know what to do and threw away her entire 540 page rough draft!

Her talk made me really dread revision process. Just throwing it all away. How do you do it? I still don't understand how you do it! So she started over. And it still wasn't right. And there was a deadline. How do they come up with these deadlines? Can't they just wait until the book is done. I don't understand.

So she wrote day and night and day and night and wrote and wrote. And she was describing writing 10-14 hours a day and writing all through the night and just the agony of it all and while she was saying that I was like GREAT. I thought it sounded fabulous. I was like, that's the life I want. I was all excited. You have to hear her tell the story. Is crazy. Basically, she pounded the book out and she finally figured it out and it's all good.

She also wrote another book that's coming out called Going Bovine. It's about Mad Cow Disease. It's really really really really really really really outrageous. She read like ten pages and I was like WHOA. Where did that come from. I wasn't sure what to think. At all. It's a bold move, very bold.

It was so funny to be around all those teen fangirls of the Gemma Doyle series! It was dorky. there's no better word. But it was fun, dorky fun and cool! I had Libba sign my book and we talked about Twitter cause she wrote about it in her blog recently. She complimented me on my handshake. I said my dad taught me. You have to have a good handshake. And now I have a bright shiny new signed book!

So you think after all this excitement and inspiration, I'd be pumped to write, right?

Wrong. I spent too much time writing this blog and chatting that I don't feel like writing at all. Boo. I busted some stuff out though.

Still working on The Perfect Shot. It's a long book. I have a lot to say about it I think. I'll finish by the weekend.

4/15/09 Word/Page Count

words: 681
Pages: 1.3

Tonight was a true test of my commitment of writing a page a day. It was the first time I didn't pound a page out before midnight. So I decided that the day ends when you go to bed. Hey, I'm the creator, I can bend the rules!

I was so distracted by Idol and my taxes. I couldn't concentrate. And I didn't want to write. But you know what? I sucked it up and I put my fingers to the test. I wrote some fluffy stuff I had in my mind and now I'm done. See I'm building up my discipline and that's great. It's just the reason I started doing this.

Now I'm wiped and I still have to do my hair. So hopefully there will be a better post tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

4/14/09 Word/Page Count

Words: 1370
Pages: 3

Around 7, I was done with the whole writing thing. I waited 45 minutes for someone at TurboTax to pick up the damn phone and then I hung up because it was American Idol time and that's way more important than my taxes. I mean... come on! Then I spent a lot of time voting. Anoop rocked it tonight! He was so beautiful. I think he was singing to me. Heeeeeeeeeee! Fangirl moment. Sorry!

Really, I don't have anything of substance to say.

It's so cool! If you search novel-page-a-day or novel-one-page-a-day on Google, this blog is the first hit. So if you happen to stumble here on accident and find that I've basically been useless to you, I'm sorry! The only thing I can really offer you is support. If you want to commit to the page-a-day novel writing idea, you should let me know. We'll keep each other on the right track. I don't care what you're writing. All that matters is that you WRITE! So please, leave a comment or something. We'll see what we can work out here. I'll try to post some writing tips but not tonight.

Tonight, I need to go to bed!

Monday, April 13, 2009

4/13/09 Word/Page Count

Words: 1798
Pages: 4

Just a quick note tonight. I'm tired and I don't have anything to say. I wrote and I'm doing my taxes. I am very frustrated because I owe money. I hate the government. Just kidding. Love ya Mr. President, even though I thought I was getting a tax cut. haha, I'm bitter. I have to change my federal withholding, that's all. Tell them to take it out of my paycheck so it doesn't shock me like this. This is the first time I'm not getting money back. I hate being a grown-up.

Tomorrow is Idol night, very exciting. Please vote for Anoop, he needs all the help he can get but he deserves to stay just one more week. I can already tell without hearing his performance.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

4/12/09 Word/Page Count

Words: 628
Pages: ~1

Another day where I didn't have too much time to write, plus I'm tired. So I skipped again to the first big game of the season in order to toss off a quick page and it worked out well. I'm going to have to fill in all the gaps later. But I'm plugging away at this page-a-day thing. I haven't failed in my club yet.

I sort of knew Jordan's BEDA challenge was gonna be a fail. I mean, I try to comment on the blogs of the 24 friends I have (which I haven't done this weekend) and that takes me approximately two hours at work (though some of that time I am working... very very little). So extrapolate that to 400... you see the problem there. Oh well, it was a valid effort.

Easter was very fun. I went to church with my cousin. Everyone loves me there. I am not a very church-y person, but I do enjoy it occasionally. I like everyone singing and being happy. I like all the attention I get. Everyone asks me how school is going. Sometimes I tell them I graduated, sometimes I don't. To them I'm gonna be in school forever so it doesn't matter what I say.

Then I had Easter dinner and I am still stuffed. We played bingo for a little while and that was fun. I finished Night Hoops which I loved and I reviewed below. I watched some TV shows I never watch like Candy Girls and Making the Band. It was just one of those fun days where you are surrounded by people. I made a run to Walmart to see if they had any Easter candy which of course, all the good stuff was gone. But I did find some Cadbury Creme Eggs. I'm gonna go to CVS tomorrow, near work, for one final try for those Hershey Candy Coated chocolate eggs!

Sigh. Another work week. But the good thing about Mondays is that it is one day closer to Tuesday and that's American Idol. So yay! Go Anoop.

4/11/09 Word/Page Count

Wow, I wonder how long I'm gonna keep this up. Not so good with the commitments!

Words: 549
Pages: 1.5

So today wasn't a stellar day on the writing front. I don't know why, I was just distracted all day. I went shopping and then I came home and for some reason I spent a half hour on Omegle trying to find someone who was doing BEDA. So that really killed my time to write. In the end I had about a half hour to do my page. (I also needed to do my hair. Excuses, excuses.)

So I was in the middle of writing this scene about basketball practice that was never ending and I didn't know where it was going except that it would never end and I couldn't write a page of that in a half hour. So I skipped forward which I don't usually do. But you know, it's freeing writing things out of order. You should try it. Basically, that's what happened.

I have to be ready for church at seven and it's already one in the morning. But I don't need a lot of sleep. Lent is over, yeah! I've been eating candy since midnight. So much for learned behavior in 30 days!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The world is devoid of Easter candy

Why is that? Why is all the good Easter candy gone? I went to Target, Giant Eagle, CVS and Rite Aid and there was nothing around at all. All I got was some Reese's Pastel Eggs and Easter M&Ms along with one pathetic pack of Cadbury Creme Eggs. This is disheartening because it ain't gonna get better. I'll just have to take my chances on Monday. I'm gonna go to a different CVS before work and pray. All I want are some Hershey's candy coated eggs and more Cadbury Creme Eggs. I gave up candy for Lent so I didn't buy any Easter candy but I should have, I know I should have!

So now I'm watching Flowers in the Attic the movie. I tried reading that book once. Didn't made it through. Oh, Kristy Swanson is in it! That's cool. Creepy book so I bet the movie is creepy too. I only know the book is creepy through hearsay so it may or may not be actually creepy.

Maureen Johnson had a great blog about writing tips today. Basically she said what I'm trying to do. She said you have to write every day and the first draft is gonna be crap or you're doing something wrong. But then she mentions that she not only kills and guts scenes and plot lines but she gets rid of characters. Characters?! I never considered that. I love all of my characters. How could let them go? Oh my. Scary thoughts. Let's just get through the first draft... before we start panicking here.

So the next book I'm reading is called Night Hoops and I enjoy it so far.

Friday, April 10, 2009

4/10/09 Word/Page Count

Words: 1077
Pages: 3

One day I'm gonna look back and all this information will be important to me.

So last night, I couldn't sleep. I got up because I had a scene in my head and I wanted to write it down. Well, actually, I wasn't asleep or trying to go to sleep or was feeling any type of insomnia. I was just in bed reading Basketball (or Something Like it) and I should have been asleep. I stayed up an extra half hour. It doesn't really affect my day much. Work was light but it was fun and seemed to go fast. We almost left early but my co-worker always takes forever getting out the door so we ended up leaving at the same time we always do.

Today I didn't have much dinner. I don't know why, I just sit on the couch and I can sit here for hours and not move. It's pretty scary. I'm typing, I'm writing, I'm chatting, watching TV, listening to music, reading, all in this same spot. Sometimes it gets really hard to get up again. I don't like that.

I'm trying to decide whether to see Observe and Report tomorrow or Hannah Montana. I'll see both eventually.

I am so totally obsessed with Anoop's studio version of True Colors. It's so beautiful. I can't believe I am such a fangirl for Anoop Desai. It scares even me, really. I think it's a distraction for me because I have a lot of worries in my life at this time. Thinking about Anoop takes my mind off of that and I'd sure like to see things go well for him.

I tend to have an obsessive personality, I think, that's why I can't do drugs or start drinking alone cause I'd probably go downhill. But innocent things like American Idol contestants, that always passes. I'm the type of person that will listen to one song on repeat for hours. Like True Colors!

That's why I can never have roommates again. Until I'm married!

Basketball (or Something Like it) by Nora Baskin

Basketball (or Something Like it) by Nora Baskin

I don't feel like trying to write a formal review. This was a cute story about four sixth graders named Hank, Jeremy, Nathan and Annabel who are all involved with the crazy, "competitive" sixth grade travel team. The parents are obsessed with having their own kid as a starter and all the kids learn about team work is wearing matching basketball shoes somehow makes you a team.

It's a very funny story. I think parents should read it to see how ridiculous they can look. The POV is really weird but whatever, you can overlook that for the humor and the good feeling behind the story. The way the four main characters come together is kind of contrived but they make a good team. It's a shame that we didn't get to experience their foursome for longer in the book. But hey, it's a short book. Give it to your middle school aged siblings if they are into sports. There are a few swear words but nothing worse than damn and ass.

Okay, on to the next book!

4/9/09 Word/Page Count

Words: 531
Pages: 1.1

Not a very productive day. I'm tired. I watched too much TV. I have a lot of books to read. I need to find a new job by June and nobody wants me. A lot of things on my mind. The writing would have been better if I was focused. Oh well.

TGIF! At least it's the weekend, right? EASTER WEEKEND. This means on Sunday Lent is over and I can add junk food back to my diet. I was bad with Lent this year. I cheated. Oh well.

I can't get True Colors out of my head since Anoop sang it. Beautiful song. Makes me feel good. I think I'll play it again to get in a better state of mind. It's a song about hope and love.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

4/8/09 Word/Page Count

Words: 712
Pages: ~ 2

Tonight was the first real test of my page-a-day-novel commitment. See, after the excitement of Idol I just couldn't calm down. I couldn't focus at all. I was going around to message boards and chat rooms and texting like yaaaaaaaaaaaaaay! I mean, you must understand, I am SO HAPPY.

So around 11, I finally settled down some and I was like, I must write. But then Make Me a Supermodel was on and I love the pretty that is Colin. Ugh, so perfect. So that distracted me. But finally I put my fingers to the keys and started click-clacking. And I got my page in and it turned out okay. Helped that I knew what I was trying to write.

I'm pretty bushed right now or I would write more. But I have to do my hair and I want to read some before bed. Tomorrow morning I will do my favorite work activity and read through a bunch of blogs. Goodnight!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

4/7/09 Word/Page Count

Words: 862
Pages: 2

Told you this would be early. It's American Idol night! I've read the spoilers and this is going to be an interesting show. So watch out kiddies.

I got my next book to review, Purge, from the library today. So I'll be working on reading that tonight. Hopefully, I'll have a lot of nice things to say about it.

So I came home after work and I was really hungry! So I made dinner early. Usually I like to eat during American Idol but I couldn't wait. As I was making dinner (just heating stuff up) I suddenly wasn't that hungry anymore. And just before that I was starving! I can't explain it. Seems like I'm ravenous until it's actually time to eat. That annoys me. I don't know why.

Wow, fascinating stuff! you're saying. Sorry! It was a pretty uneventful day.

I wrote for about a half hour today. I have outlined what I want to get through the next few days... well however long it takes for me to write all I've planned. I don't know how long that will take. I was reading an interview with Monica Roe and she said that she spent like three months outlining Thaw. Wow! I could never do that. I'm more of a write my way through it kind of person. And then you can discard anything you don't actually need.

Isn't it so hard to cut things sometimes? Don't fall in love with your own writing! Isn't that rule number one? Because it can be snip-snipped at any time.

But in order to be a writer you have to be a little bit narcissistic, don't you think? Just so you start writing. You have to think that something you say might be a little bit interesting or important. Or why would you ever even do it?

What do you think?

Okay, see you after Idol and voting!

4/6/09 Word/Page Count

Words: 916
Pages: 3

On the writing front, it was a pretty good day. First of all, I wrote my book review. It's been a long time since I've written a review. I used to write reviews for the school newspaper and they were so lame. What book should I review next? Any requests? I'll do them as long as they are in the library. (Do them! Ooo, that sounds dirty.) But I think the next review will be Purge by Sarah Daer Littman. I must admit that I like the YA problem novel. You know, BIG! ISSUES! I'm a sucker for them. I can't help it.

Then I did the page for my novel. I was like, what should I write today? La dee da. I decided to with Tense Family Dinner Scene. Because that's always a winner. And then it ended and I was done.

So I'm watching a special on Autism on Discovery Health. This one family has 7 autistic kids. That's got to be crazy. Autism is so fascinating to me. I kind of want to study this disorder because it is really intriguing and it's really important. So many children are affected and it can be just devastating to their lives. We need to find a cure quick.

Tomorrow is a very important day to me because it is time for AMERICAN IDOL. You would think I was on the show. Seriously, I need help. Oh well. I'm going to be voting so hardcore for Anoop tomorrow. I'll have to jump on the page and the blogging first thing after work because after 8 I'm just going to be done.

Sigh. Work. Tell me again why it needs to be 5 days a week? I need to go to work for myself quick! So I can sleep in until ten. Or 11. Okay, 12.

haha. Sorry this was BOR-RING!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Thaw by Monica Roe

Well not like... ever in my life. But ever on this blog. So yaaaaaaaaaaay!

Thaw by Monica Roe

Thaw is the chilly story of Dane Rafferty, a star skier, model son, budding intellectual, laid-back boyfriend and a new victim of Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Dane thought nothing could knock him off his skis until this inexplicable disease takes him down. Now, Dane finds himself completely paralyzed. However the disease reverses itself and 75% of patients make a full recovery. Now all Dane can do is wait and work his way out of paralysis as his body repairs itself little by little.

Dane recovers at a rehabilitation center in Florida filled with crazy characters including many people who are much worse off than Dane, far away from his family and friends in upstate New York. Dane has always been strong and he figures he can power his way through this new crisis in his life but soon he realizes that his recovery will be far from easy.

This story sparkles with descriptive language, witty dialogue, cutthroat emotion and the strong physical sense of a world so different from most of our own experiences. Author Monica Roe works as a physical therapist and her first hand knowledge of the recovery process for people with neurological disorders so that the therapy session, triumphs and set-backs feel very real. There is something to appeal to every reader such as medical drama, romance, gritty sports competitions and nature discoveries.

Even with the first person point of view Dane is not an easy character to like. As soon as he can talk he is barking orders at his well-meaning nurse, Letitia and rudely refusing to listen to his tough physical therapist Anya. It isn't until occupational therapist Joel enters the scene that the reader sees Dane might have an ounce of caring in his body, though he tries hard not to show it.

As the novel evolves day by day we see Dane's struggles and also get a glimpse into Dane's life before the accident, when he was on top of the world, king of his domain. Dane is a highly talented and intelligent guy but he doesn't have much time for people and their messy emotions. As he has to rely on others to do the simplest of daily activities, Dane's tolerance level begins to change.

The book relies on it's intriguing cast of characters along with Dane's believable narration to pull the reader through this difficult journey of recovery, healing and self-discovery. The dynamic between Dane and Joel is one of the highlights of the book especially with Joel being such a fun person in the midst of all the pain and struggle around him. Sometimes the dialogue in the book doesn't ring true, although it is fun to read. Dane finds a sparring partner in 16-year-old Carrisa, the daughter of a coma patient on the floor. Right off the bat, she can match him wit-by-wit but it seems a little too convenient for Dane to find someone else his age who speaks exactly like he does.

Another highlight of the book is the nature apparent throughout the story. Dane's rehab institution is surrounded by wildlife and Dane looks fondly on the adventures he had skiing and hiking and fishing back in upstate New York. It was enjoyable to read about different species and star constellations. There was just this constant sense of place that really helped to drive the story.

Thaw is the perfect title for this novel as we see Dane's frozen existence melt and change in more ways than one. For a down-to-earth story about a jaded young man who has a long journey ahead you should check this book out.