Thursday, February 15, 2018

Late Night Valentine's Day Wishes

Please know that you are loved for reading my blog. It means a lot to me to know that someone out there who isn't my mother takes the time to read my ramblings on books and writing, and I appreciate it since the whole point of putting this out here is to share it. Of course, some weeks, it's easy to think of things to share, and other weeks, it's a lot more difficult.

As I drove around Denver today, dealing with my own emotional garbage surrounding V-Day, I thought of a few of my favorite YA books that also happen to make terrific reads for Valentine's Day. So if you haven't had a chance to read these, give 'em a shot:

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
A poetic journey (but not in verse!) of a teenager's journey from dark depression to life-affirming first love set in an idyllic fantasy place in Northern California.

Other Words for Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal
Ari, a sensitive and beautiful artist from a working-class family learns the hard way that money can buy swimming pools and expensive prep school education, but it doesn't buy a soul.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Hazel Grace finds love and hope in a totally unexpected place: a support group for dying kids.

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
Every break-up truly does start with a great love story, and this one doesn't disappoint. It's chockful of vintage finds, and whatnot.

I hope that you got what you needed this Valentine's Day whether it was a nice dinner, a gift, or a good cry. It's important to honor your needs.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Review: Daring Greatly

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and LeadDaring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is one of those books that people have been telling me about and that I just didn't get around to until I launched into full self-improvement mode at the beginning of this year. I am so glad that I finally got around to reading Daring Greatly, or listening to it. This is one of those self-help books that highlights a lot of things that most of us understand intuitively with a few twists that perhaps we hadn't thought of.

Brene Brown's premise is that vulnerability is characterized as a sign of weakness in our society, but it is actually what makes it possible to be truly courageous; if there's nothing at stake, what's the risk? She carefully breaks down what vulnerability is and what it isn't, and how we can prepare ourselves for difficult conversations and cope with setbacks without compromising our own ability to connect with others in a genuine and compassionate way.

Brown draws from her own research as well as the research of famous psychologists like Kristin Neff to support a vision of a kinder, more connected, and more compassionate life. She also discusses how vulnerability can be an asset in the parenting relationship as well as work, not just life approach and intimate relationships. I think that cramming all of those settings into one book made some parts a bit repetitive and perhaps not as deep as some might like, but it's a good starting place for discussion.

I now recommend this book to all of my clients and friends.

View all my reviews

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Revisiting the Classics

I've been hesitant to post reviews of old books on this blog for three reasons:

  1. As a writer, it's important to track what's in the current market and classics are not in our current market as contemporary work.
  2. Publishers want to see reviews of current books.
  3. We assume everyone already knows about classic books.
The first two statements are real problems, but the third I doubt. It seems like I find a lot of gaps out there among people, especially when it comes to the work of Steinbeck, Dickens, poetry, and short stories, in general.

So, just for fun, I'll be reviewing some classics through the month of February. If there is something in particular you're curious about, drop me a note in the comments. photo credit: simpleinsomnia Beautiful woman wearing a fancy outfit and holding a book via photopin (license)

Monday, December 11, 2017

Review Criteria: End of the Year Recap and Reflections

Book reviews can be so subjective, and whenever we read a negative one, it's natural to wonder, "was the reviewer just in a crummy mood that day," or "maybe she just really hates this person," or "maybe she hates the world." My reviews are subjective because I read these books just like any reader might read them, and I have things that I like and dislike, just like any reader does. My likes and dislikes aren't going to be the same as those of all the other unique individuals out there, but for people who share my tastes and interests, my preferences can provide a good lense to help determine whether or not a book is worth their time. Given a certain someone's fairly, um, emotional reaction to a recent review, and that we're wrapping up 2017 (thank goodness!!!) this seems like a good time to go over what I look for in books and why.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Six More Days of NaNoWriMo

It feels kind of weird to make a point of telling just about everyone in my life that I need to drop everything and just focus on NaNoWriMo (unless I'm pausing to blog about my difficulties with NaNoWriMo, of course.) That said, I'm glad I've been doing that because it is so nice to give myself permission to just clear my brain space for writing as much as I possibly can this month. I would like to reach the 50,000 word goal, but at the moment, that seems impossible. I haven't even hit 25,000 yet. I do have good reasons for where I am now though, and I still have reasons to be hopeful that the project is still far from doomed. I thought some of this might be worth sharing if you're running out of gas like me.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Finding Things to be Grateful For When Life is Shit

Actually, I know my life isn't shit. In a lot of ways, things are better now than they have been for a long time. However, getting where I am, both literally and figuratively, has come at a cost. Thanksgiving is around the corner and it's going to be very different from the Thanksgivings I've experienced for the past almost two decades of my life. I'm excited about finally having Thanksgiving with my parents since that hasn't happened since I graduated from high school--I won't even get into how long ago that was. Some of the other changes are less positive, and I've been doing some soul searching as a result.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

12 More Days of NaNoWriMo

The good news is I have over 19,000 words for my novel that I didn't have before November started. The bad news is, to be current in NaNoWriMo, I should have 30,000 today. So, that puts me about 40 pages behind and I have 12 more days of November. How did I do this to myself? According to NaNoWriMo's doohicky, if I write 2,350 words for the next 12 days, I will finish on time; that's almost 10 pages a day.

Several things seem to be going on.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

It's Day #8 of NaNoWriMo & an Open Response to Someone Who Called me "Disgusting"

I can't believe I am now 8 days into NaNoWriMo. I just passed the 10,000 word benchmark, and while I'm proud of all that progress---hey, it's 1/5 of my goal---I'm a bit disappointed that I'm not where I should be. In order to be right on track, I will need to reach 13,333 words by the end of the day today, and that's probably not going to happen. Currently, I have 10,505 words written. We'll see. Admittedly, I've been feeling a bit drained. Last week ended with a nasty email exchange and I think that in order for creative types like me to be credible, it's important to be open about the little things that can affect our craft. Life does have a way of getting in the way, especially when it's not dealt with.

During this unpleasant exchange, unprompted, this other person lashed out with the phrase "you disgust me." That's a powerful statement, don't you think? For anyone who has seen Silence of the Lambs, that sounds like the type of comment one would reserve for a guy like the one who threw semen at Agent Starling as she walked down the hall. Anyway, I have been processing this comment and here is a summary of my journey through a careless insult.