Some Enchanted Evening
by Christina Dodd (website)
Historical Fiction--Regency (William Morrow, 2004)
(My post about how to read my book reviews can be found here.)
Synopsis: An exiled princess, running from her past, finds a temporary home with an earl, recently returned from the Napoleonic wars. To keep her family in solvency, the princess has decided to sell face creams to the earl's family and friends. Their immediate attraction makes Clarice and Robert wary of one another, but when their pasts interfere, they are thrown together to face circumstances they never imagined.
On a scale of Vanilla to Dark Chocolate, this would probably be of the more savory Milk Chocolate varieties. And the heat level builds quite nicely, from very vanilla to a deep, sugary milk chocolate. The book climaxes with a *very* long love scene (among the others), which is truly one of the most beautiful things I have ever read. All potential writers need to read this long, last love scene. A-Maze-Ing.
Eye-Roll Factor: 9/10
I think I rolled my eyes a few times at the whole "oozing masculinity" and "palpable maleness" kind of stuff. That kind of description always feels a little lazy to me. There has to be a way to explain the raw virility of an alpha male better than that. But, honestly, when that's the biggest complaint I have about the "typical romance cliche" kind of stuff, that is a *really* good sign!
The Cosmo Factor: 22/25
While I was not crazy about the way she seemed to flatter everyone around her (whether she meant it or not), I loved how intelligent and independent Clarice was in this book. She is one of the first heroines I've read in the romance genre (with the exception of Dodd's other book that I've read and loved and a few others) who actually seemed to deserve the man she ends up with. Mostly, I seem to read romances where the hero is *way* too good for the heroine (re: The Bridget Jones Syndrome), and I hate that. But in Clarice's case, I would not only invite her for a Cosmo (at night, at a bar, even) and girls' night, but I would actually sit at the table and talk to her. For the whole night, even.
The Dining Room to Bedroom Factor: 24/25
Holy Mother Lode, Batman. This guy is like the King of all Alpha Males. I could feel his alpha-ness down to my toes. And I found myself wishing I could find a genie and make Robert MacKenzie flesh and blood. Wow. The man was not only an amazing alpha, but he was intelligent and witty and loyal and fierce. And the man could fight. Holy crap. He had that kind of latent violence that is so hot about alphas in romance novels. And the love scenes! Wow. Honestly. I'm gonna read this again, just to get some of her technique. Her deep POV is excellent. :-)
The Braveheart Factor: 10/10
As far as historical accuracy, I think this was a pretty accurate story, as far as I know. I felt like the language was especially accurate. I was impressed with the way she wrote each character in the historical language, but with unique voices. It was something I'm sure other writers do, but I just happened to notice it more in this book. More importantly, there were no glaring inaccuracies.
The Nostalgia Re-Read Factor: 10/10
Oh, I'm definitely gonna read this again. No question about it. In fact, there's a good possibility I'll turn around and re-read it tomorrow! :-) Seriously, this is gonna be a keeper. And I can't wait to get to the next book in the series. I have to know what happens to these other sisters.
The Skim Factor: 10/10No skimming. The story was engaging the entire way through, the characters from whose perspective I read were all interesting enough that I never wanted to get out of their head, and I never wanted the story to end. I didn't skim at all.
The Little People Factor: 9/10
This was one of the best "little people" books I've ever read. There were four main characters I can think of who were very well-developed and whom I want to see again in future novels. I felt like the main characters interacted deeply with the minor characters, and there was enough at stake, that although I didn't go deep into the POV of the minor characters, I knew who they were and heard their voices and wanted to know more about them. Love it.
Overall Evaluation: 94/100
Wow! The highest rating I've ever given any book. That's a great sign. And honestly, I haven't been able to stop thinking about Robert MacKenzie since I stopped reading the book. I keep hoping to run into him around the corner. I doubt I will (even though I am in Canada... highest percentage of Scottish men outside of Scotland), but I would really love for that to happen. Honestly, I cannot wait to read this book again. I was so impressed with the writing... there were so many times I stopped and said out loud, "Wow, that was amazing writing right there... did you see how she did that?" It was great. She has an unfortunate tendency to overuse similies. But other than that, it is just flawless. Well-written love scenes (especially the *really* long one...), well-done characters, good action, good plotting. And sequels!! :-) Can't go wrong here.
On Tuesdays, I'm going to be over at Enduring Romance, reviewing books. I'll post a list of the books I'm going to be reading, but for now, I'm going to be doing mostly Inspirational Romance. I hope to read the next book in the "David's Wives" series when it comes out (on Tuesday), and maybe the new Dee Henderson. We shall see.
Anyway, come on over and check us out. It's a great blog for book reviews of romances of *all* kinds. Everything but horror and erotica. And there are some really excellent reviewers already writing there. So we'll see you on the flip side!
I've had plans to do some book reviewing on here... or perhaps I should say that I've had the best of intentions... lately. In fact, I have a stack of about fifteen books I'm trying to get through at the moment. I've read three in the last three days. And each time I put one down (if I don't throw it across the room), I sit down at my computer to write a blog review.
But I just can't.
Why, you ask? Because I don't have anything good to say about them. I eventually head over to Goodreads and post a short review (where I try to say the nicest things I can possibly say) about them. And I might link it to this blog, but probably not.
I don't want to badmouth books. I know there are a lot of review sites out there who post negative reviews, and I've admitted on here that I like to read them. Some of them are absolutely hilarious. And two of them (remember Pregnesia and Mr. Interstellar Fellar?... yeah...) actually made me want to buy the book, even though they were scathing--and I mean scathing--reviews.
Mostly, though, it's that once I'm finished with a book I don't like, I just don't want to think about it anymore. I'm lucky if I can sit down at my computer and remember the name of the book I just read and hated. I don't really want to talk about it, let alone blog about it. Generally, even a few sentences for Goodreads puts me off my moment, and I need to go pick up Rules of the Wild and get the taste of that other book (whatever it's called) out of my memory.
What about you? Do you find that you'd like to review books one way or the other? Do you like reading reviews where the reviewer ultimately doesn't recommend the book to anyone? What's the last book you read that you really liked? If you follow a book reviewer, would you rather know what they think of a particular book, regardless of whether they liked it or not? Which do you tend to remember more: the books you've loved, or the books you've hated?
Well, I'm off to post a short review on Goodreads, and then back to reading. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts, dear reader, on the above questions. It will be good food-for-thought for me, and I always love hearing comments from you!
I have another blog, a personal blog. A few weeks ago, I started this blog (NKotWB) to get away from the erratic content of my personal blog. There, I posted about whatever I wanted, and I had no focus. I thought that starting an "all-writing" blog would help me to have focus as a blogger so I could build my platform and be more marketable.
Who am I kidding? I am a crazy person, and whatever blog I have, it's going to be crazy, too.
One of the cruxes of my difficult with this whole "all-writing-all-the-time" dilemma has been To Be or Not To Be a Christian Writer. After reading another blog with a similar perspective, I decided that I was going to get naked for a minute, here, and be honest about my struggle.
Here's me in all my nudity.
I am a Christian. I went to Seminary. I am also anti-established-religion. Haha. Talk about your paradoxes. Well, I'm not against Christian community, I should make that clear. I just don't think that the Church was ever meant to be a "place of power" when we follow a leader who was all about sacrificing power and finding a Third Way. (Not "having power" and not "having no power". Neither oppressor nor oppressed... yes, I'm into Liberation Theology... sue me.)
I am a writer. I have a degree in writing. (Almost two of them.) I want to write books. I want to write books that people love. That move them. That affect them. That make them want to believe in something bigger than themselves. (And I don't just mean God... I mean Love, as a concept as well as a person.) I believe that sex is a vital and un-ignorable part of a relationship. And I believe that experiencing sex, as a human being with another human being, is a sacred (but not taboo) moment, and is more about pleasure. But it is *also* about pleasure. And pleasure is an important part of a well-working relationship. Although not the only part. Obviously.
If I could have it my way, I would write sexy Christian books. Unfortunately, there's not a market for it. In fact, most Christian publishing houses have "rules" about sex, and whether or not it can be in your manuscript. Some just say "no sex". Others say "no kissing until halfway through the book, and no touching below the neck and above the elbow". Others say "no man/woman sleeping in the same room alone... whether they touch or not". I mean. Seriously. Seriously?!?!? I have to keep reminding myself that there are different niches for everyone. But why isn't there one for me? I want to write Christian fiction where salvation isn't the answer. Because, let's face it, it's not the answer for everyone. Plenty of us have *long* faith journeys that have no "arrival" point where our lives changed and suddenly Jesus made everything better. But there are also people who have those stories, I don't want to negate that.
But as long as we're being honest, I'll be really honest. I can't stand most of the Christian fiction out there. In fact, I can't believe I'm actually considering writing Christian fiction. I think the whole point of "getting saved" in a person's life is to have an opportunity to face the hardships of their life with God. Not that God takes all the hardships away. Getting saved is not a Happily Ever After. It's the beginning of a VERY hard, long, strange journey. And for most of us, it's not even the beginning. (I guess the point could be made, too, that falling in love is not really a happily ever after... that there is no happily ever after... but I just don't believe that.) I don't like the way most Christian heroines (and heroes, for that matter) talk to God. And I don't appreciate the overt deterministic theology present in most of the Christian romance novels I've read.
I think it's important that people understand that being a Christian isn't arriving somewhere special. Finding God (and believing in something bigger than yourself) is hopeful. Yes. But that doesn't mean you suddenly become rich, powerful, beautiful, and peaceful. It means you keep having a hard life, only now you have something to believe in, and something to comfort you. And you have access to the strength you need to sustain you through whatever you have to face.
Of course, there isn't really a place for that in the world of Christian fiction right now. And there isn't a lot of room for non-Republican politics (if there is any). But I don't want to take the typical anti-military, anti-faith, anti-morality stance of the left. But there isn't any room in mainstream novels for being a faithful, God-fearing person. It's seen as a weakness. (Or you're told to find a nice Christian publisher for your nice Christian novel, which isn't really a nice Christian novel.) But I don't want to cut God out of my writing, either. That seems absolutely counterproductive. I want the two to be able to exist together. I even suggested, once, that two of my historical fiction characters might go to church together to express their faith, and one of the critiquers said, "wouldn't that put them off their passionate, sexual relationship?" To which I said, "Only if they go to the wrong church."
I guess I'm just ranting. And there's no real answer. I just needed to get that off my chest. And I needed to be able to be honest with my frustrations on both sides. Maybe it will help me clear out some of this angst and just get back to writing the book. As Cathy would say, "put on your big-girl panties and get back to work". (With all love and compassion and humor, of course.)
Okay, I guess I'll go put my clothes back on, now, and get ready to face the real world...
Creepy, I think, how similar these two covers are. In fact, I'd ordered Kismet. And someone recommended I read Her Ladyship's Companion, but when I went to Amazon to look at the cover, I thought... I already have that book. But I didn't, and I hadn't ordered it. Turns out they just had two artistic directors that got the same memo, I guess. Anyway, Kismet I'm planning to read this month. And I guess I'll now have to read the other as well, just to be fair (because it was the cover art of Kismet that made me look at it first, so I have to be an equal-opportunity ogler).
Isn't it interesting, though, to see the woman in the dominant position, and the man in the submissive? Not that I think there's anything particularly fascinating about that fact, or that there's some kind of trend going on. Just that I think it's interesting to see two so-similar covers, and then I happened to notice that whole woman-on-top thing at the same time.
Don't read anything into it yet. I'll let you know how it goes.
I have been on a British/Scottish television romp for the last few days. Oh, and one Australian show. Some very cool shows have come up for me.
* Hamish MacBeth - BBC Scotland ran three seasons of this in the 90s. It's a show about a small fishing down in Scotland, where Hamish (a constable) is always getting into and out of one pickle or another. He has an adorable wee terrier named "Jock" who is really the star of the show in my opinion. But there's plenty of scenery, and lots of gorgeous accents. (Although not many gorgeous people--still, the accent is all worth it.) Definitely worth a rent.
* Ballykissangel - This is a bit more well-known, I think. I know many people who've seen it, and love it. But I always held back, because I saw the first episode when I was like 24 and didn't like it. But now I love it. Father Clifford is growing on me. :-) It's a show about an English priest who is transferred to a tiny town in Ireland. Again, the scenery is absolutely breathtaking. It's almost worth a watch for the scenery by itself. But the characters are interesting, and the romantic tension isn't so obvious that it's annoying. I like it.
* Monarch of the Glen - Another BBC Scotland show. And another show that I resisted watching at first because I'd seen one episode one time and didn't like it. Unlike Hamish MacBeth, there are 7 seasons of MotG. It's about a Scot-turned-Londoner who has to return to his Highland home (and clan seat) when his father gets ill. Unlike Ballykissangel, the love story is a bit more obvious. But it's quite nice. And, again, I hate to repeat this... but seriously, the scenery is incredible. Very different from Hamish MacBeth, but gorgeous!
* Satisfaction - This is the Australian show. And beware, it's quite an intense heat level. It's about a group of women who all work in a brothel together. Each show is about a different one of the women (mainly), and it's really an eclectic group of women. Those of you who have written about the sex trade before (especially the current sex trade), I think this is a must-see. It's gotten mixed reviews because of the cliche-ness of it all. But I found it to be a very interesting show.
* Coupling - This is the BBC version of Friends. And in my opinion, a lot funnier than Friends ever was. The characters are a bit more interwoven than in Friends. But it's about a group of six Londoners in their late 20s and 30s who are trying to find love. It is quite hilarious, and has one of the best theme songs on television, in my humble opinion.
Anyway, these are just episodes I've watched recently. Thought I'd pass along the recommendations. Other series I'd recommend: The Chase (Yorkshire TV), Life with the Braithwaites (Yorkshire TV), Fat Friends (BBC), and Manor House (BBC). If you watch (or have watched) any of these, please comment and let me know. Would love to hear about it from other BBC lovers.
I have decided to give up on baby carrots.
Today, in the throes of a munchy-attack, I went to the refrigerator for some baby carrots, and while I was rifling through the vegetable drawer, found a baggie of leftover cut vegetables from dinner yesterday. So I decided to give up on my baby-carrot-hunt and eat some regular carrots instead. Now, because I normally eat baby carrots, I was ready for the wet, often empty-tasting experience I normally have, and instead bit into a crunchy, sweet spear of orangey goodness.
It reminded me, vaguely, of eating carrots fresh from the garden this summer. Really, it didn't compare on any level... hothouse carrots are just not the same (and if you've ever had a fresh-from-the-garden carrot, you'll back me up on this), but it awoke a sense-memory.
Fresh carrots, from the garden, are unlike any vegetable experience you will ever have. Especially if they are well-cared for, in good soil, and picked in their prime. They will put all other carrots to quick shame.
Of course, I couldn't help but draw on this moment of culinary epiphany, when I sat down to write a few more lines in my WIP this afternoon. Because I think love is like a patch of carrots. Not literally. But based on my carrot experience, I think similar things happen to us when we are making relationship decisions.
My heroine had been eating the baby carrots of love for a long time. Dating down would be a generous term. He was an absolute moron. And when she met Mr. Hothouse Carrot, she was tempted to settle, because he was just so much better than her last boyfriend. All her time eating baby carrots (metaphorically, now) had gotten her used to the bland, watery, anxious experience of dating someone not right for her. Then, their breakup was bad. Very bad. She was off baby carrots forever.
Along come Mr. Hothouse Carrot. He is nice, reasonably attractive, sweet, and he loves her. Very much. But she just doesn't love him. And in the back of her mind, she wonders if there's a Mr. Garden-Fresh Carrot out there. She doesn't know if these rumors of garden-fresh carrots are true, or if they're just fairy tales made up to make us all miserable with our hothouse carrots.
When Mr. Garden-Fresh comes along, he's unattainable. And she doesn't know he's Mr. Garden Fresh. But something about him just sets her heart aflutter. When she's with Mr. Hothouse Carrot, she's thinking about Mr. Garden Fresh. Can they really be together, despite the things that keep them apart? Should she settle for the sweet, loving Mr. Hothouse Carrot, or wait for Mr. Garden-Fresh to come along/get his act together?
Isn't that really the big Question of all time? Do you wait for the real thing? Or settle for what you've got?
Now, I know a lot of people will tell you to wait for the real thing. Don't settle. Sure, it sounds inspiring. And for a lot of people, it works. (Side note: That's why I like romance novels... a continuous encouragement not to settle, and to wait for the magic. Inspiring.)
Of course, not all of us will end up with our Mr. Garden Fresh. Or, there may be another level, at which our Mr. Hothouse Carrot is really Mr. Brazilian Garden Carrot who spent so much time in transit that he doesn't appear to be everything we're looking for, even though he really is Mr. Garden Fresh. I guess I'm not trying to tell you what to do with your life, or what you should or should not have done with your life. Heck, I'm not even trying to tell myself what to do with my life. I guess what I'm really getting at is that there is a difference. And we need to know the difference.
When you're eating baby carrots, you should know it. If you want to keep eating baby carrots, that's up to you. If you have a fridge full of Mr. Hothouse Carrot, great. Eat him up. And if you have your very own carrot patch out back, great. We're all happy for you (and I mean that in more than, but not excluding, a sarcastic sense). Mr. Garden-Fresh isn't for everyone. And certainly, I don't want your Mr. Garden Fresh. It's your carrot patch. You tend it.
All I'm saying is that there's a difference. Some of us aren't emotionally ready for Mr. Garden-Fresh. Some of us will be eternally happy with Mr. Hothouse Carrot. And some of us will end up with Baby Carrots coming out of our wazoo. But there is a difference. And different people have different preferences.
For me, I know I would rather have Mr. Hothouse Carrot than Baby Carrots. Emotionally, and literally. But, perhaps like my heroine, I'm going to be holding out for Mr. Fresh. If I'm ready for him, that is. And honestly, I'm probably not.
Although if Mr. Brazil is out there, I'm happy to be hit on by Kindle. ;-)
by Monica McCarty (website)
Historical Romance (Ballantine, Jan '09)
(My post about how to read my book reviews can be found here.)
Synopsis: Amidst a Highland feud and the threat of violence, Caitrina Lamont and Jamie Campbell are thrust together. Jamie's sense of justice and Caiti's sense of family are at war, much like their clans. Can they find the peace that waits beyond the battles, and can they reconcile their passion for one another when all outside forces would push them apart?
On a scale of Vanilla to Dark Chocolate, this is definitely in the 67% Cacao arena. Hot love scenes. Excellently written love scenes, I might add. The scene in Chapter 12 (don't worry, I won't give anything away) is quite possibly the hottest love scene I've ever read in a romance novel. It's up on my list of top five, anyway.
Eye-Roll Factor: 9/10
Very low, impressively. Severe lack of annoying heroine tendencies. I think I only rolled my eyes at annoying behaviors (from any character) one time. That is really impressive for a historical romance.
The Cosmo Factor: 19/25
Caitrina would fit right in on a Sex-and-the-City episode, in a lot of ways. Headstrong, opinionated, willful. Typical 21st century transplant. However, unlike many romance novel heroines, whom I would like to plant under a football field by the end of the book, I found myself really caring about what happened to her, and rooting for her. Monica McCarty definitely doesn't "dress-down" her heroine. By the end of the book, you root for her as much as her male counterpart. Or, at least, I did. The Let's-Grab-a-Cocktail-Later quotient is not as high as perhaps I would have liked it to be. But she didn't annoy me, so she at least gets to sit at my table. Although I hope we're not alone. And I hope she's buying.
The Dining Room to Bedroom Factor: 25/25
Jamie Campbell. Can wield a claymore? Check. Can bring you to heights of unimagined pleasure? Check. Can be easily replaced by any other hero I've ever read? Not on your life. There was something different about this hero, which is excellent. Since I've read an unimaginable amount of Scottish romance novels with heroes (or good characters) named Jamie (notably... Outlander), there is the danger that other Jamies might be in my head with this guy. But no. His hotness quotient is off the charts, and I don't mean just physically. Anyone can describe the male physique in attractive ways, but it takes real talent to get inside a man's head and make me want to be around him for reasons other than his chiseled abs. Those, you can get anywhere these days (and apparently those days, too). Would I want to have dinner with him? Of course. And all that other stuff, too. Definitely making my list of hottest heroes. Now, if you ask me to choose between Jamie Campbell and Jamie Fraser... I don't know that I could even do that. And that is a very good sign, since Jamie Fraser is the standard by which I measure my dining room to bedroom factor.
The Braveheart Factor: 10/10
A few of my friends will remember what a tizzy I get into when we discuss the historical inaccuracies of the film Braveheart. Because my medieval historical takes place at the same time, although in a different part of Scotland, I've been researching that time period since I was 19 years old. That's 12 years, in case anyone cares. There is nothing that bothers me more than historical inaccuracy in a historical romance. Oddly, the setting and details don't bother me (although it's obvious that she's both been to Scotland and done extensive research about this particular place). But history is important. It's the basis of the whole genre. She gets extra points for having a lesson in the back where she reveals all the real people behind the characters. I love that. it's like seeing the man behind the curtain in the Wizard of Oz. Love that moment.
The Nostalgia Re-Read Factor: 9/10
If you've been reading my personal blog (The Silent Word) for awhile, you'll remember that I have this thing about nostalgic book re-reads. For some reason, when I try to come back later to a book I've already read and enjoyed, I never enjoy it as much the second time through. There were always notable exceptions, for me. I anticipate this book being one of those. I would imagine that if I come back to this book in three or four years and read it again, I will still enjoy it as much as I did the first time. (Except without all the heart-pounding anxiety, waiting to find out what happens without skimming.)
The Skim Factor: 9/10
I skimmed a few sections when there was building going on. I know this is historical, and I should really love it (I just wrote a rave review of Pillars of the Earth, for crying out loud, and that book is all about building!). But there were a few sections that slowed me down a little. All-in-all, no more than normal. And I was so riveted by the first 150 and last 100 pages of the book, it made up for the few places in the middle that I skimmed. What impressed me was that when it came to the big tension moments of the plot, I didn't skip ahead, because I wanted to know how she wrote herself out of them. Really, just good writing all around.
The Little People Factor: 6/10
While both the hero and heroine are extremely well-developed (and likable) characters, I found several of the minor characters to be underdeveloped to the point of distraction. For the sake of not spoiling anything, I won't mention any specifics, but let's just say that there's a character in the beginning who plays a pivotal role in the end that I didn't care about at all, but I think I was supposed to care about them. In fact, when it was insinuated by another underdeveloped minor character that they might have died, I found myself rejoicing. And then when they were alive again, I was so uninterested... I just wanted to see what would happen with my girl and my guy. I gave it a 6 because if I had to choose between incredible main-character development at the cost of poor minor-character development, and caring about all those little people, I'd rather she did it the way she did it.
Overall Evaluation: 90/100
If you like Scottish Historicals, you have to read this book. Point blank. If you like historical romance, you should definitely read this book. If you are an aspiring romance novelist, you should read this book just for the craft of her love scenes alone. If you are just a regular reader, read at your own risk, but I think you might be surprised at liking this book. It's definitely a genre book. Not as much history as Outlander. But not as high an annoyance factor as other romance novels I've read. Given the fact that I would give this book five stars on Amazon/Goodreads, I think that says that I would highly recommend it.
When I was teaching Comp 101, I made my students listen to Alanis Morissette's "21 Things I Want in a Lover" and rewrite it from their own perspective with their own 21 things. (It was an exercise during a series of articles we read on arranged marriage in contemporary society.) So everytime I listen to Alanis, I think of that.
Well, today, I was listening to Alanis's "Unsent" off her Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie album, and it made me think about my own cadre of unsent lover letters. The lyrics (which are here if you want to read them) take the form of a letter, and she writes to each of her paramours, starting with the current hopeful. I'm pretty sure she used fake names for them, but that's a moot point, I guess. I couldn't help thinking, as I listened to each letter, how similar my own would be. (Fewer, I think, but similar.)
So I decided to write my own. (All the names have been changed to protect... well, privacy.) So here are my abbreviated unsent letters, in the style of Alanis Morissette. (And no, if you listen to "Unsent" and read my letters, they will not match up...:-)... that would be too much work for my blocked brain.)
I liked you too much. If I had known what would happen between us, perhaps I would have ignored your first phone call like I wanted to. As Alanis would say, "you were plenty self-destructive for my taste at the time" and also generally destructive to everything beyond yourself. In all the years since we've spoken, you have haunted every relationship I've had with a man. Until recently. I used to be attracted to boys who treated me the way I saw myself instead of the way I was. The truth is, you were only doing the best you could. And I forgive you.
I love you muchly. You've been my shoulder to cry on more times than one. We never really connected on a physical level, and I regret that. I want you to know that you are one of my favorite people in the world, and I hope that, as I do me, I hope you find the one person in the world who will complete you. As Alanis would say, "You were the best platform from which to jump beyond myself." And I will always be grateful for your friendship, for my whole life.
You rocked my world. I felt more physically alive around you than I've ever felt around anyone. You were so much the man I needed, and yet so much the man I couldn't handle. The time I spent with you, you helped me to see myself as a beautiful woman. But, as Alanis would say, "I could never really feel relaxed and looked out for around you though, and that stopped us from going any further than we did... and it's kind of too bad because we could have had much more fun."
We learned so much. You always made me think seriously about my spirituality, and you never let me off the hook when I was being moronic. You were always unapologetic about being yourself, which I didn't understand at the time, but now want to emulate. As Alanis said, "The long distance thing was the hardest and we did as well as we could. I will always have your back and be curious about you." We will always be friends and I am a better person because I know you.
I like you a lot. I realize we live across the world from one another right now, and I respect that. I'd like you to know that if you're ever in Bozeman in the future, I would be open to spending time with you and getting to know what makes you tick and what you want out of life, and become better friends than we are...
The most recent in a long line of delicious heroes, I had to give a shout-out to Lee Pace, star of Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. He plays the beautiful man-of-my-dreams pianist/singer. (Those of you who know me know what a weakness I have for men I can sing with.)
I recently reviewed Obstacles Welcome for Thomas Nelson's Book Bloggers called "The Book Sneeze". You can see full reviews at my personal blog or on the Amazon product page (linked in this post).
I'm not going to post a real review here... I've done enough reviewing for the day. I just wanted to make a few observations, as a writer, and as someone who has a Master's degree in Leadership. For those of you who don't know what I do for my day-job, if you can call it that, I do leadership training and consulting, and personal leadership coaching. So when I got the opportunity to review this book for TN, I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to get a resource for my future (and perhaps even present) clients.
Unfortunately, I was wrong.
The book was a good read, in the way that only a disappointing book can be. From the first page, I read eagerly, hoping for some solid backing to current leadership theory that I could point people to and say, "See, it works... it really works." Instead, I got an enjoyable memoir filled with personal leadership lessons. Like I said, not a bad book. And actually an interesting read. The man who wrote the book (Ralph de la Vega) is a very interesting and inspiring person who was able to take his life story and pull the leadership lessons out of it. I definitely think there is a place for this, both in personal development, and in corporate training. However, my experience has been that leadership models whose only basis is "this is what I learned" have a habit of working intermittently, so I don't like to recommend them.
Because they don't work? No. They do work. Sometimes. Situationally. Sort of, if the stars align and the circumstances are similar, but perhaps slightly more often. Again, I'm trying to be gracious to this book, because I really did enjoy reading it. I just didn't find it to be something that I could hand to every client and say, "Read this. It'll work for you."
There's nothing wrong with that, though. Everyone will tell me... not every book works for every person anyway. Well, I buy that, and I don't. The right book, applied consistently, will work every time. For instance, I have yet to use Strengthsfinder with a group/corporation/company and have it not work. I have yet to use the 4-R Model (McCloskey) and have it not work. (There are other examples, but to save time, let's just use these two.) Why is this? These methods are well-researched, and are utilized in a large sample of the population before they are published. Their creation was not situational, and therefore their application can be wider and more consistently effective. That's my professional opinion, anyway.
I think the same goes for a lot of writing.
I have friends who are all-the-time offering me their best advice. Something that worked for them, or a friend of theirs. A strategy or a contact, a book or a workshop. Being high Input, I really love these. I should reiterate... I *love* these. High Input means that I can take in a lot. I love resources. So I sincerely appreciate all these resources.
But there's a difference between "it worked for me" and "it's true." There are true statements to be made about the writing craft. For instance, "writers write." That is true. Not just because they have to, but because they love it. (Although they also have to... most of the time.)
I'm not trying to discourage anyone from sharing their opinions. Life is richer for all the people in our lives who want to help us. But as consumers of advice, we need to be wary. Know the source of the advice and treat that accordingly. Might "it worked for me" work for you? Yes. If it doesn't, though, then it doesn't. Something else will. The whole point is to understand the source so you can evaluate how much weight to give it.
Just my thought of the day. Didn't mean to preach. Just my thought of the day.
When Twitter asks me if I really want to "Retweet to my followers?", why do I feel like I need to shower and then immediately resign the leadership of my cult?
For Christmas this year, I received a Kindle from Santa Claus (thanks, Mom & Dad--you thought I didn't know? Ha!) When I originally posted about it on The Silent Word, I hadn't yet used it to its fullest extent, and I promised a customer review at a later date. Here are my thoughts on the Kindle. (I should add, I did not receive any products from Amazon for this review. I just own a Kindle, and I'm reviewing it.)
First, the display is unbeatable. It reads (to the naked eye) just like the printed page. Even though I'd read that before (in the product description), I didn't really believe it. And I also didn't think it would be that big a deal. But after using the Adobe Reader on my computer for awhile and getting used to that, there really is a difference. It feels more like reading a page in a book, which I appreciate, because I do love books.
Second, with the leather fold-out cover, it feels and looks like a book as you pick it up to turn it on. I like that. I have since downloaded Kindle for my iPhone, and it's just not the same. (Of course, the display is smaller, so that's part of it, but really...) The act of opening it up is just so familiar. I like it.
It is a great pick-up line. Not that I've been picked up yet, but I can see how it would be a good in. I've had two kinds of approaches from strangers. There's the "I've always wanted one, can I look at it" approach, which is flattering. Then, there's the "I have one, don't you love it" approach, which builds comeraderie. If you're looking to get picked up in a bookstore, this is by far a less-intrusive pick-up than "what are you reading" or "haven't I seen you here before". So if you're looking to pick up (or be picked up by) some hot, literary types of whatever gender, I highly recommend this.
Unlike the iPod and other devices I've seen, your Kindle does not need to be connected to a computer to manage your account/books. That is definitely handy. In fact, the other day, I happened to be reading an email on someone else's computer and I turned on my Kindle and bought the recommended book directly from Amazon while sitting at someone else's computer in a coffee shop. It downloaded in less than a minute, and I started reading right there at the table. Phenomenal.
The selection of books available is amazing. The aforementioned book was not a book I expected to be available on Kindle. It was a specialty non-fiction, published in the 80s. And I still found it. In fact, I haven't gone looking for a Kindle book yet that I haven't been able to download. Granted, I've only had it for a month. And there are only 300,000 books available for Kindle, so I'm sure I'll eventually find one. But as of right now, I haven't found one.
Amazon regularly runs specials on discounted and free books. Granted, they're not the NYT Bestsellers (that I've seen), but I have been generally impressed with the quality of the free books I've downloaded. Plus, there are several classics for free. I downloaded "Sherlock Holmes", "Pride & Prejudice", "Moby Dick", "Dracula", and "Frankenstein" for free.
It might sound like there is no downside. Not true.
As much as I love it, I don't think it will ever replace books for me when it comes to non-fiction because I'm too much of a note-taker. And while you supposedly can make notes, it's just not the same.
It's difficult to navigate within the book. There are no page numbers (because you can change the font size, and that changes how many pages there are, etc), so there are "locations" instead. Most of the books I read have locations in the 1000 range. So if I can't remember which location, I have to flip back through the pages, or go to the table of contents and then flip to a specific chapter to find the sentence I was looking for that I've already read. Perhaps it's because I've always been able to remember things like where the words appeared on what page, or the page in relationship to the size of the book (i.e. it's in the first third or the first 20 pages, etc.), or even the specific page number as I turned it... but it's hard for me to navigate in these books when I'm looking for a specific line. It's great when you're just reading front to back and don't need to flip around, because turning the page is as easy as a click of a button. But it's just difficult, for me, when I need to go back and reread something, or I misread something two chapters ago, etc, because I'm not paying attention to the "locations". Not used to it yet. We'll see if it gets better.
When the wireless is left on, the battery time is lower. Granted, if I could remember to do this, I could go in and shut the wireless off, and then it would last longer, but I can't always remember. And there's no button to turn the wireless off... I have to go into the Menu and turn it off manually. Also, if you don't plug it in regularly, the battery drains from having the wireless on, even when you're not reading it (or else the pictures that save the screen while it's in off-mode take battery power), because I've gone from reading it one day to reading it the next and having the battery drain without the book being on. If I can remember to turn the wireless off, maybe that won't be a problem. Plus, if I charged it after each use, it wouldn't be a problem. But so far, it's been an issue for me.
There is no internal light. Just like a normal book (but unlike other electronic devices), it has no ambient light, so you can't read it in the dark. I suppose this is a contradiction, because I have been raving about how much I appreciate its' real-book-ish-ness. But since it is an electronic device, I guess I expect to be able to (like my computer, my iPod, my cel phone) use it in the dark. But you can't. Again, like a normal book, there must be light to read it. I discovered this because I took it to a movie once, intending to read my Kindle in the 25 minutes prior to the film starting, but there wasn't enough light in the theatre to read it. So I had to talk to people! Can you believe it??!?? Okay, but seriously, if this was a feature you were counting on, be aware.
All in all, though, I adore my Kindle. Definitely the best present I think I've ever gotten. I couldn't be happier with it. The downsides are really just learning curves for me: learning to plug it in, or turn off the wireless, or bring my own light.
I hope someday to be able to say that I met my true love reading a Kindle. Or at least write a book about it. :-)
If you ever get the chance to read the original manuscripts (pre-Pound) of T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land, I highly suggest you take it. I happen to have two copies, in fact, if you would like to borrow one. In them, you find a very different poet than the one in the published manuscript.
There are plenty of people who claim that Ezra Pound invented T.S. Eliot's voice. I like to believe that Pound, while a great poet, was a better editor than a poet. Ezra Pound, in my estimation, could see the raw talent in the young (twenty-something) man, and just edited away the white noise. This is perhaps something that all young writers need: editing.
While I have a lot of faith in my voice (or perhaps, given earlier posts, I should say that I have faith in my ability to write), I have been realizing lately how young a writer I really am. I am currently in two writing workshops with two very talented writers who also happen to be talented editors. (I don't mean Editors, I mean editors--those who can help to edit away the superfluous noise and find the voice underneath the voice.) I have submitted writing samples to both women and had them both edit the samples in similar ways. To me, this means that there is a voice down underneath the voice that I need to refine.
The interesting thing about T.S. Eliot is that his post-Waste-Land poetry tends to keep that edited voice--as though he learned from Pound to trust the bare essentials of his poetic license, and edit away everything else. I hope that I can learn similar lessons from my editors/teachers, as well as from any future persons who might edit my work. While I will never be truly proficient at editing my own work (I am convinced that outside eyes are often the best tool), I can already feel my voice amending because of what I have learned in a short couple of weeks. I feel like I'm back in my MFA program. And it feels great.
Welcome to the new blog of Rebecca Cameron, blogger and author. Still under construction, for the time being, so check back soon for contests and happenings.
I'm in a writing workshop right now (which is, let me say, fantastic), and had to do an assignment today on dialogue. Now, having been a scriptwriter, I fancy myself to be pretty good at dialogue. In fact, that's most commonly what gets me compliments: my characters, talking.
My instructor commented today on how I like fast-paced scenes, which--to be completely fair--is mostly true. I definitely like fast-paced scenes. Again, I think it's the scriptwriting. When dialogue is all there is on the page, it has to pop and lock. It is the star. At least when you read the script.
Sometimes, unfortunately, I forget that I'm not writing scripts. The people in my head also need to be on the page. And not just their words, but their actions, thoughts, emotions, descriptions, and environments, among other things.
What interests me is that when I write scripts, I can kick the dialogue out. But when I get caught up in the rest of it (the actual narrative), I get slogged down in it. And I mean slogged. Most of my editing time is spent going back through what I've written and cutting out all the extra crap I put in that doesn't need to be there. Paragraphs between lines of dialogue...it's a constant critique. I have a hard time keeping dialogue moving, because I'm so busy trying to contextualize it.
But this exercise I did really helped me to pace the scene better. I had the dialogue out in front of me, and I had to create the scene around it. I may end up doing this more often while writing the Iris Garden novel. I think I'm going to try to just get the dialogue out. Treat it like a scene from Act I. Then add the rest in later. Make it real. We'll see. I'll let you know how it goes.
If you've ever played Balderdash, you'll take to this right away.
I keep getting words for "Word Verification" on Blogger that sound like real word. For instance, today, I got "atifying", which is close to "gratifying", but far enough away that it's just funny.
Anyway, I have decided that I'm going to start playing Word Verification Balderdash from now on when I comment on Blogger blogs. Here is my entry for the day:
Atifying (v.): the act of creating an action out of random nouns objects by placing prepositions in front of them and hyphenating to make one word... Example: "She went at-chair all over his a**."
Anyone want to post theirs, either for "atifying", or for another WV, take a whack. My comments page is your blank page...
This morning, I checked off #69 on my Day Zero list. What was #69, you may ask?
Query letter to an agent.
Last night, at Writer's Group, we workshop-ed my query letter, and they gave me some really great feedback about how to tighten it up. Since I've been reading that most authors get rejected for years before they ever get published, I figured I should get about the business of being rejected for the first time, at least.
Before you say, hey--that negative attitude will get you nowhere, I should explain. I don't feel negative about my novel, or my ability as a writer. In fact, if anything, I would say that what I feel is very connected and realistic. I am proud of what I sent out. I also know that the product you send in often has very little to do with whether you get picked up or not. The agent might not be accepting new authors. They may already have someone doing your particular area and have no desire to have two similar authors. They may not like what you write. That's all fine. I am learning that you have to have very thick skin to be good at this job. Part of having thick skin is recognizing that not everything said about your "work" is about you.
I think getting rejected in general is like this. It's rarely about you. Or at least it's rarely only about you. It's often a combination of timing, fit, and viability. Is it the right time for whatever you're offering? Do you and the person you're offering to have a good enough fit, whether the time is right, or not? And is it viable that your relationship can continue for a long time, given all the factors?
So it really isn't me. Or at least, it's not only me. :-)
Anyway, bring on the rejections. Someday, I will find the right fit and the right time and the right viability, and I'm willing to wait for that to happen, whether it happens today or not.
- ► 2012 (84)
- ► 2011 (222)
- Review: Some Enchanted Evening (by Christina Dodd)...
- My New Tuesday Gig
- Or Don't Say Anything At All?
- Rebecca Has No Clothes!
- And Everyone Thinks I Don't Run My Own Cult...
- Somebody Missed a Memo Somewhere
- And Tonight, on the BBC...
- Mr. Hothouse Carrot
- Review: Highland Warrior (by Monica McCarty)
- Unsent Wednesdays
- You're My Inspiration
- Teaser Tuesdays
- Know the Source
- Have You Been Drinking that Kool-Aid Lately?
- I Met My True Love Reading a Kindle (A Review)
- Edit Me
- New Kid on the Writer's Block
- Faster, Please
- Word Verification Balderdash
- 69 Done
- ▼ Jan (20)
Monday: Food of the Week
Tuesday: Favorite Recipes I
Tuesday: Favorite Recipes II
Wednesday: Foxy Foodies
Thursday: Best Foodie Books
Thursday: Writing Prompt
Friday: Food Network Shows
Friday: Food Shows on TV
Saturday: Foodie Romances
Saturday: Foodie Blogs