Sunday, June 22, 2014

Reading, reviewing, writing, and editing

Last night before I fell asleep I had this blog all written out in my head. Unfortunately I was too tired to write it down and now I've lost some of it. I am attempting to recreate it anyway.

We came home yesterday from a day trip to the Boston area. In the mailbox was a book that I'd won from a giveaway on Goodreads.com.  I've been winning a few of these giveaways lately and my book pile is piling up faster than I can read the books. He said "Wow, people must really love your reviews." Maybe they do, maybe they don't. I don't write great reviews. They're usually pretty simple and straight forward. Def not my best writing.

We went in the house, and he took care of our daughter while I disappeared into the bedroom and fired up my bedside computer. I opened up the browser and went to Facebook. I posted an unofficial review of the places we'd been to in Somerville. Then I went over to TripAdvisor and wrote up 2 official reviews. This required a little research because the restaurant that we ate at didn't have it's own listing. Once those reviews were done, I went over to Goodreads and updated my book shelf to show I'd gotten the book. A peek inside the front cover showed me that the author had even written me a note and autographed it. Well that deserved some special attention. I looked him up and sent him a thank you note. He wrote back and offered me another complimentary book that he's written. I haven't replied yet. I figure I'll wait until I read this one before I answer. I hope it's a good book though. I'd hate to write a negative review now.

After my reviews were posted on Facebook, Goodreads, and TripAdvisor I looked up his website and checked the listing of other books he's written. This isn't a debut novel. Then I went over to Twitter to see if he was on there. Nope. However he was mentioned by another Twitter entity recently who has already read the book I just got. I tweeted to him/her, and they tweeted back. I scrolled through my Twitter feed, a mix of many things including many authors promoting their books.

Phew!! When I was done with all that I finally cracked open the E-book that I had just borrowed from the library. This is one that I tried to win a print copy of, but failed so I had put a hold on it and I finally got it. I read a few chapters to get myself into it. Then finally very late, I turned off the screens and went to sleep.

Meanwhile July is fast approaching and while I have been editing my Work In Progress it is not completely revised yet. I'm probably about 1/3 of the way through it. In July though I will be doing Camp Nanowrimo and I will begin the next draft of this novel whether I am ready or not. The thought of having 2 drafts going is challenging. I will have to come up with a way to keep them separate. I am not even sure what my writing schedule will be like, but I have set a low word goal and I plan to make it happen.

It seems like lately I spend more time writing reviews of other people's works, quick and simple as they may be, than I do working on my own material. Oh well. Hopefully it all pays off in the end.

I know ultimately I need an editor, and maybe a cover designer too. I'm not there yet though. Just need to keep plugging away.

Friday, May 23, 2014

I think of Lisa

A poem I just wrote - "I Think of Lisa"

When I hear a woodpecker early in the morning before the sun comes up, I think of Lisa. 
When I drive to work at sunrise and the fog is hovering over the water on the lake and no where else, I think of Lisa.
 When I have to brake hard because a deer has run out in front of my car, I think of Lisa.
 When new blossoms show their colors in the courtyard garden at work, I think of Lisa.
 Whenever I find a little beauty in my day, I think of Lisa.

--by me

This poem is dedicated to Lisa B. Adams who is still fighting, and to  my neighbor Tanya, my cousin Daryn, the mother of one of my daughter's classmates Kiran, and all of the other mothers and fathers out there who don't get to watch their children grow up because of cancer.  Cancer Sucks. 

"Find some beauty in each day."- Lisa B. Adams

Lisa's website is here-  http://lisabadams.com/


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

"Shotgun Lovesongs" book review

Here's my review from Goodreads--

Shotgun LovesongsShotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I loved this book, except the ending, but that shouldn't stop anyone. I ran across this title through my work in a library and looked it up here on Goodreads. After I started reading it, I looked it up on Amazon and read some more reviews on Goodreads. I had no idea about the connection to "Bon Iver" as another reviewer mentioned, but I spent a few hours doing some research and listening to some music and became a fan.

When was the last time you read a book that led you to good music? I don't know if that's ever happened to me before, and I loved the book even more for that.

Getting back to the novel itself though, the story takes place in a small Wisconsin town, a farming town, much like many farming towns all across America I imagine. I can certainly imagine this story happening in a small town that I've lived in myself or one of the others nearby. I liked that. I like stories in small towns. I can imagine the bar at the VFW because I've been in a few. So this story struck a chord with me.

I was thrown off for a minute as I went from the first chapter to the second and the narrators changed, but once I adjusted to that and began to pay attention to the "L", "H", "R", "B","K",etc.. at the beginning of the chapter I did just fine. It's a good way to tell this story, switching points of view all the time because it really helps you get the full story. I was fully drawn in to the characters, and I had trouble putting the book down when it was time to do other things.

Now that I've read it, and returned it to the library, I may buy a copy to put on my shelf for when I want to read it again. It was that good.

Highly recommended.



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Monday, May 12, 2014

Dear "Greg" on Goodreads.... thank you

Dear "Greg" from Goodreads,

Thank you! Thank you for your review of "Shotgun Lovesongs" by Nickolas Butler. You've got your settings set up on Goodreads so I can't send you a message on Goodreads directly. I know it's unlikely that you will ever see these words either.

You inspired me though. First of all, I went back to Goodreads and changed my own settings just in case some day someone sees something that I write and wants to comment on it.

Secondly, and most importantly you inspired me to look up "Bon Iver". You said in your review of the book that you are not a Bon Iver fan, and yes you know he has another name, but you're going to leave it at that. You said that "Shotgun Lovesongs" seemed to be about "Bon Iver". Thank you for that.

I had never heard of Bon Iver until I read your review. Today I looked him up, and yes I found Justin Vernon. I also found Volcano Choir, Gayngs, The Shouting Matches, and Kathleen Edwards while I was at it.

I found Wikipedia, Twitter, Facebook, and NPR. I've listened to over an hour of Volcano Choir's music today at work.

So, Greg wherever you are... Thank you for all of that. I'm sorry you didn't enjoy the book as much as I am enjoying it, but thank you for mentioning the reference that other reviewers didn't know about. Thank you for introducing me to new music.

I'm not actually done with the book yet myself, but now that I have this music to go with the book I think I'll enjoy it even more!


Monday, September 16, 2013

"Astronaut Wives Club: A True Story"

The Astronaut Wives Club: A True StoryThe Astronaut Wives Club: A True Story by Lily Koppel

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Started out so interesting. I was born in 1971 so some of this happened before my time, and I loved hearing the history from this point of view. However, as more wives are added it gets more confusing. I think the beginning is the best. By the time you add the 9 and then the 19 I couldn't keep track anymore. Who was separated at the beginning? Who had been divorced? Why did the kids say these 2 were in love when so-and-so had been cheating.

Like others said, this could have been a lot better. It really skipped around near the end and I got thoroughly confused. I'm glad these women got their stories out, but maybe it should have been done sooner and by someone else. Maybe Rene Carpenter would have written it better.



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Sunday, September 8, 2013

New review for "Massachusetts, California, Timbuktu"

Massachusetts, California, TimbuktuMassachusetts, California, Timbuktu by Stephanie Rosenfeld
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really liked this book. As others said this is the story of a girl who has to take care of herself, her younger sister, and her mother who is emotionally unstable. The author starts her story in California and moves them to the Amherst/Northampton area of Massachusetts. There is a sub-story where the narrator is doing a school assignment. She writes a pioneer story moving her characters from east to west. I was tempted to skip over this sub-story until I realized how much it was ingrained in the main story.

I found this book because I was looking for a story that used western Massachusetts as it's location. So for me, a western Mass local, it was fun to read and see how the author mixed up real places and fictionalized them. If you know the area you will recognize that she took places that are in Northampton and put them in Amherst for example. There is of course the disclaimer that this is a book of fiction so yes, she can do as she wants and that's part of the fun for me of reading it. The author herself did live in the Amherst area while going to UMass Amherst so she has some familiarity with the area. She's also lived in California, and I don't know where else. So she was able to draw on her memories and experiences for the settings.

Second, I grew up with a dysfunctional mother and a younger sibling, like a lot of people did. Now my mother didn't do ALL the things that happened in this story, but she did do some of them. So I could really relate to the characters and as tough as it was to read, it was good writing. I cried more than once.

I read a library copy, but I plan to buy a used copy so I can go back to it at my leisure again and again.

From what I can tell, the author has only published one other book besides this one. I haven't read it. She has a unique voice and I really enjoyed her writing here.


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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Finished a rough draft

It's been a week and I haven't gotten around to mentioning... during July I managed to finish the first draft, a very ROUGH draft of the novel I've been working on for about two years. Oh I know there is a LOT to edit but at least the story is down on paper. It has a beginning, middle, and an end. And that is something!

Yay for Camp Nanowrimo for inspiring me to finish it!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Umass Construction Update

The Commonwealth College dorms are getting ready for the Fall semester and the utility construction continues to move along.

Meanwhile a yesterday and today comparison from behind South College.



Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Love my daughter for making healthy choices- A blog about "Feast"

At the risk of saying "Yes I am home alone with my kid twice a week," I'm going to cross-post this from another one of my blogs...

This story has two bits of background and I'm not really feeling as coherent as I'd like to be, but I'm going to share this with you all anyway.

1. On New Years Eve in our family we have a tradition. Hubby goes out to his friend's party and I stay home with our daughter. We've been doing this for about five years now, ever since we realized that it's impossible to bring her to the party. So this year I decided that since it is just her and I for supper we would have a picnic supper in my bedroom. This picnic is basically munchies. I set up a plate that was hers, a plate that was mine, and several things in the middle. We both have our favorite foods on our own plates and then we pick and choose from the others. Some might call it a buffet, or family-style eating. I called it a Feast.

Now my hubby goes out on Saturday nights and stays out late. I value this time as my mother-daughter time. Really it's only a couple of hours that she is awake usually. Just 5pm-bedtime. I'm not a night owl anyway. So sometimes on Saturday nights we will have Feast... again, the picnic on my bed with a variety of whatever we happen to have. There is very little cooking to these meals usually, although I'm not opposed to making something.

2. On Tuesday nights hubby has another commitment  which doesn't go as late. On Tuesdays our normal routine is that I pick up our daughter from school (or camp as it is this time of year) we do something like visit the local library or go to the mall or playground and then we meet up with hubby at McDs or the local diner for dinner. We eat together and then hubby goes off to his thing and I bring our daughter home. School/camp is the next day so I try to get her to bed close to her normal bedtime (I'm really horrible at getting her to bed on time!)

We have been doing this for at least two years now, since we became a 2-vehicle family in 2011 I think.

That's the back story if you will.

So.... yesterday afternoon I picked up my daughter and she says we are having Feast for dinner. "But what about daddy?" She doesn't care. So... we went to the mall and played some skeeball, walked up to Target to get a couple things, and came back to the arcade. Hubby shows up to surprise us (it is now 6pm) and we give him some hugs and kisses and then we left. Hubby in his direction, us in our direction. We had literally parked in different parking areas.  We went to the grocery store to get the ingredients we needed for our Feast--
2 apples
3 bananas (not for feast, just for later)
watermelon
dinner rolls (for dessert, didn't eat them though)
turkey sub/grinder for me
cucumbers
carrots
and of course I had to pick up some non-Feast groceries too because I did actually need groceries.

So at home after I got everything put away, my daughter and I made this for dinner-

Her "plate"-
cut up cucumber (no seeds allowed!)
low-salt soy sauce (for cucumber dipping)
carrot sticks
small bowl of sliced almonds
cup of milk

My plate-
turkey grinder/sub/hoagie/whatever you call it where you live

Shared plates/bowls-
apples (neither of us actually ate them but they were there)
watermelon (we both ate)
chips (I ate some)
Doritos  (she ate)

Dessert was supposed to be dinner rolls with marshmellow fluff, but after dinner neither of us had any desire to eat dessert.

So all and all, a very healthy dinner for both of us. Yes mine wasn't as healthy as hers, but what a great kid to turn down a trip to McDs and eat this instead!!

Very proud of my 7-year old girl!


Monday, July 15, 2013

Random rambling

Had to stop for gas this morning before I went to work. Got the camera out as I drove down Route 116 toward Staples in Hadley. This was around 6:30am.






Beautiful morning, so perfect, and a wall of fog ahead of me blocking the view of the mountains.

On mornings like this I wish I could just keep driving, to the ocean, to the west coast, to Canada, to anywhere.

There was a time when I was in my 20s where I just about could (and sometimes did) as long as I got back in time to go to work in a day or two. Those days are long over of course, but mornings like this... so early, so peaceful.... man, I wish I wish I could just hit the gas pedal and go.