Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Finally! Finished a few!

This week has been, well, crazy.  I'm feeling pulled in a dozen different directions, and I've been multitasking beyond my standard capacity at work, but that's okay.  I went out shopping last night, and in addition to buying the pillowform I needed for one of my projects (see below!), I bought a new notebook.  There's just something that feels good about a new notebook.  I used to be a Moleskin gal, but lately, I've been using the Ecosystem notebooks and loving them.  I'm feeling the need to write by hand, and I'm about to start the re-write on HEA, and it just felt right.  So the new version will start out hand-written in a pink notebook.  Very princess.

I've put the blanket for Otter/Baby Bear on hold, mostly because I tried doing the color-blocked section, hated the way it was turning out, and ended up frogging ten rows of blanket.  Otter, you'll appreciate this - I'm using Grandma's needles for the blanket!  Our grandma was notorious for getting almost all the way done with a project, realizing she had made a mistake somewhere earlier, then ripping out the whole thing and starting again.  I didn't rip out the whole thing - I kept the first 100 rows, so it's not too bad.  But I'm waiting until I have time to go to the yarn store and ask for advice on how to proceed.

In the meantime, I've actually finished two other projects.  The first was a birthday present for a friend - Matt bought a sock monkey for Brie, and wanted her name embroidered into a tattoo on its arm (like those commercials where the toys went crazy - do you remember them?).  I've been putting it off for months, but tonight, I finished it!  It wasn't hard at all, and it didn't take long to do, but I just didn't get around to it.  Now, though, it's off the list!

The other project I finished (at 10:30, which is after I wanted to be in bed, and has delayed this post) is a sweater-turned-pillow.  I started this one YEARS ago after finding this awesome yarn.  Unfortunately, I didn't get enough to actually finish the sweater I started, but I really liked the pattern. So I modified it, and voila! Years later, a knit/crochet pillow cover.  I'm pretty happy with it.  And there's just enough of the yarn left to make a simple scarf or something small.  Maybe.

So that's what I've done while waiting impatiently for the weekend.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Dream a little dream

Before I forget, if I were you, I'd head over to read what Theresa had to say at edittorrent today - I was relieved to find out that I'm not just being a snob, I'm using the phrase properly!  And yes, I'm a grammar geek.

And now, onwards with my own stuff!

I had some truly messed up dreams last night.  I don't think I ate anything crazy, and I fell asleep watching one of the movies that I've watched hundreds of times, so I can't figure out why I had these dreams...

In the first one, I was at a restaurant downtown, and I was eating spaghetti (and twirling it with a spoon), and one of the doctors from work was sitting there, staring at me like I was crazy, because I was twirling my spaghetti.  Then I woke up.

Then I fell asleep again, and I dreamt about a prison, where there was a group of women who were in this big room, wearing very unattractive orange jumpsuits.  They were doing prison-y things, like hanging around and sitting on tables, until suddenly it was time for them to shower (GET YOUR MINDS OUT OF THE GUTTER!). One girl went in, and turned on the water but got distracted brushing her hair, so the next girl couldn't get her shower in time.  The second girl, who was inexplicably played America Ferrara, was stuck standing outside of the bathroom in a terrycloth bathrobe (which was waaay too nice to be prison-issue).  She got in trouble with the guards for not having a shower.  As she was getting hauled off, swearing that it wasn't her fault, I woke up.

Then I fell asleep again, and my next dream starred Charlie Sheen.  I was hanging out with him somewhere warm and sunny, beside a pool.  Next thing I know, I'm in the pool, and sliding towards the deep end as Charlie warns me that there have been unattended children in the pool, and that I should watch where my feet go when I touch the bottom.  Before I got to the bottom of the pool, I woke up.

Weird, no?  I really can't explain the random celebrity cameos, especially since I don't watch Ugly Betty, and I haven't watched Two and a Half Men for a while.  And I've got NO clue why a doctor was watching me eat spaghetti.

So tonight, I'll be watching Castle, eating chocolate, and crossing my fingers for some less weird dreams.

Friday, March 25, 2011

I love Buffy.

Let me just say, you guys are awesome, blogglings!  Thanks for the well-wishes in the comments and via text.  I'm still sniffling, and my eyes are a bit itchy, but now that I've got my allergy drops, things are better.

Last night, I finished watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer again.  I think this is the fourth or fifth time I've watched the whole series through, and it made me cry again.  I think that's the mark of a good story - even though I knew how it ended, even though there was no element of surprise, even though I knew who would live and who would die - I had an emotional reaction to it.  I connected with the characters.  I could identify with their flaws, and I admired their strengths.  Joss Whedon's world, the Buffyverse, was filled out.  It wasn't just a random town with a bunch of demons thrown in.  Buffy wasn't just some girl with superpowers.  Spike wasn't just a blood-sucking fiend.  Every character, even one like Anya, who was supposed to be almost one-dimensional because she was an ex-demon who didn't understand humans, every one of them was real to me.  The writers on the show were consistent and true to the characters.  If they hadn't been... I don't think I would have cried.  Again.

My favourite part, though?  I loved how the end of the series felt like the end of the series, but not the end of the characters lives.  Granted, I now know that Joss went on to create a series of graphic novels that continue the story, but still, I didn't get the feeling that, once the show ended, the gang would go and rent an apartment in LA and sit around doing nothing.

And speaking of the Buffy graphic novels... I'm so disappointed that I can't read them!  I tried.  I picked one up at Barnes & Noble, and I tried, but my brain just doesn't like graphic novels.  I feel all ADD, and I can't follow the flow, and it is incredibly disappointing!

But not as disappointing as hearing that there's talk of a new Buffy movie, and that Joss Whedon won't be involved.  Seriously???  I'm a hard-core fan (you may have figured that out on your own...), but if Joss isn't involved, I won't be watching the movie.

Tonight, there is no photo of the blanket in progress, partly because my camera is running low on battery and I can't find the power cord, and partly because, well, it looks the same, just longer.  But here are the stats:

Section A: 10/10 rows complete
Section B: 86/90 rows complete
Section C: 0/111 rows complete
Section D: 0/90 rows complete
Section E: 0/10 rows complete
Balls of yarn used up: 3
Total length: 13.25 inches
Percentage complete: 30%

And tomorrow, I think I'll head to the yarn store to get some professional advice on how to do the different colours...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I want to scratch my eyeballs out of my head

I have allergies.

This isn't, like, news to me.  I've had allergies for most of my life.  And actually, the older I get, the more I seem to develop, which seems totally unfair, since the rest of the world apparently outgrows allergies with age.

Somehow, I managed to avoid most of the pollen issues that everyone seems to have in this area for my first three springtimes.  Unfortunately, this year, it's getting to me.  I'm having a hard time telling, though, if it's true allergies, or just due to the ridiculous levels of pollen in the air.  Every morning, my red car looks yellow.  And I've washed it twice in the last week.

In any case, my eyes are so itchy tonight that I can barely keep them open, so I'll be retiring now to listen to audiobooks and knit some dishcloths (because I can - and will - literally knit those with my eyes closed), and I'll try not to rub my eyes too much.

Man, if only I didn't spend my days working with eyes and knowing how bad it is to rub at them!

Day 5:
Section A: 10/10 rows complete
Section B: 62/90 rows complete
Section C: 0/111 rows complete
Section D: 0/90 rows complete
Section E: 0/10 rows
Balls of yarn used up: 2
Total length: 10.5 inches
Percentage complete: 23%

Monday, March 21, 2011

More POV musings and a new tracking thingy

After writing about possibly trying the first-person POV last week, I feel like the universe is sort of conspiring to make me try... In my blogroll today, I came across this post about first-person.  The whole thing has been marinating all day as I've been working on other projects at work, and I think I'm going to do it.


I'll try the first chapter or so.  We'll see how it feels.  The thing is, I've already started mentally rewriting it, and it feels good.  I just need to try it on paper and share it with someone else, I think.

In other news, with Otter's maternity sweater done, I've moved on to Baby Bear's blanket.  However, I work best when I feel pressure, so I'm creating pressure by posting my progress here.  Until it's done, at the end of each blog post I'll be including the current progress of each section of the blanket, the number of balls of yarn used up, and frequent photos.  If that doesn't motivate me... well, then the blanket won't get finished :)

Day 3:
Section A: 10/10 rows complete
Section B: 32/90 rows complete
Section C: 0/111 rows complete
Section D: 0/90 rows complete
Section E: 0/10 rows complete
Balls of yarn used up: 1
Total length: 7 inches
Percentage complete: 13.5%

Friday, March 18, 2011

Booooo! And also, first-person POV

I was on a streak!  I read two awesome books in a row, polishing each of them off in a single day.  I was on a roll!  I was ready to keep on going!

I picked up book number three, and just before the halfway point, the MC did something so stupid and out-of-character that I had to put the book down and walk away.  Argh!  I'm actually pissed off at the book right now, and it's been kicked under the bed.  The stupid thing wasn't the only bit that irritated me, though it was what made me stop reading.  I noticed that this book was really dated.  The references, which would have been pretty current when it was published in 2007, just seem, well, dumb.  And in ten more years, they just won't make any sense at all.  Note to self: don't reference too much pop culture, or your book will get really old, really fast.

All three of the latest books (the two awesome and the one under the bed) had one thing in common - they were all written from the first person POV.  Up until I read The Duff by Kody Keplinger, I had not read much that was written in first, and what I had read was chick-lit style (which I really enjoy, but it's not serious stuff (usually)).  These days, there's more and more popping up, and I'm starting to find myself more open to reading it.  I'm still not sure about things written in first-person present tense, but I'm working on it.

After reading these books, I started thinking about HEA, and the full re-write I'm going to start very soon, and I think that a first-person POV might actually be just what the book needs to feel right.  It focuses entirely on Princess Jane (formerly Princess Martha Louise), and I really didn't get into much of anyone else's head in the first draft.  I think I'll try the first couple of chapters and see how it's feeling.  This might be what I need to feel better about the story.  Wish me luck!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

And I thought I didn't like mysteries!

It turns out that I just don't like crappy mysteries!

I started reading Lisa and Laura Roecker's The Liar Society at lunch yesterday.  I've been following their blog for months, and I enjoy it, so I made sure to bring a lunch that wouldn't be hard to eat while holding a book in my free hand.  That was an excellent plan.  I ended up coming back late from lunch because I didn't want to stop reading.  And I took the book with me on my 15-minute break.  And since it was raining when I left work, I sat in the car for a half-hour and read when I got home before I went inside.  And then I curled up on the couch and read until my ride showed up to take me to dinner - with three chapters left!  As soon as it was not-really-rude, I wrapped up dinner and hurried to my bedroom to finish the book.  So I read the entire thing in a day.  And I'm sooooo glad I did!

As I've said, I've followed Lisa and Laura online for a while, and I've found them really funny and entertaining.  While I'm not a mom and I can't related to any of their kid stories, it hasn't mattered, because they still connect with me.  I can say the same thing about The Liar Society - I'm not a teenager anymore, but the book connected.  I loved the character of Kate.  She was messed up and human, but lovable nonetheless.  Her flaws were reasonable, and she made perfect sense as a girl whose best friend died a year ago.  But even though she's got this whole 'damaged' thing going on, by the end, I got the sense that she would grow up to be okay.  Not perfect, because who is?  But okay, which is more than a lot of people can ask for.

I wasn't sure what to make of a lot of the male characters in the book, but honestly, that's exactly how I felt about the guys I knew back in high school, so it worked for me ;)

Also?  LOVED the Latin throughout!  I took some Latin, and I have a degree in Classics, so it totally thrills me every time I see it used in 'real life.'  The other thing that it reminded me of was The Jewel That Was Ours by Colin Dexter.  The subject matter was totally different (adult vs. YA), but it was the only other mystery that I've really enjoyed, and it [coincidentally?] also had lots of Latin and Classical references throughout.

Which brings me back to the title of this post:  I have read so many mystery novels in the past year, and disliked all of them, that I was afraid I wouldn't like The Liar Society based on that.  I was soooooo wrong!  If you like funny, strong, normal(ish) female characters, you should go out and get this book.  I've already got a list of people that are getting copies for birthdays/Christmas/Easter/Tuesdays!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Turn signals and other options

I realize that some people are busy.  I realize that not everyone feels that they have time to do everything that they want to do.


Some things are not options.  Like turn signals.  Using a turn signal to indicate your intention to change lanes or turn a corner is the law, people.  IT'S THE LAW!  So when you suddenly swerve in front of me without using your signal, don't get all huffy when I honk at you because you almost hit me.  It's YOUR fault, Mr.-I-don't-think-traffic-laws-apply-to-me.

Also, when you run a VERY red light (as in two other cars went through the red light before you did), don't give ME a dirty look for almost getting hit by your crazy-driving-ass!

/end rant.

Friday, March 11, 2011

National Crafting Month

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably heard by now about the earthquake in Japan.  I hate how useless disasters like that make me feel.  Maureen Johnson, though, isn't being useless.  Check out her blog, and think about donating. ShelterBox seems, to me, to be a brilliant idea!  If you're like me, trying to figure out some way to help from halfway across the globe, this could be your answer.

Now, on to my own stuff...

Did you know that this month is National Craft Month?  That's what the big sign at JoAnn's told me yesterday, and I'm pretty psyched about it.  If you haven't gathered from my other posts, I'm a big crafter.  BIG.  So it stands to reason that I should have BIG plans for this month.

So far, I've finished Otter's sweater, made her a card to go with it, a birthday card for Tanya, two back-up birthday cards, SIX bridal shower cards, three general cards, worked on Mum's cross-stitched Christmas stocking (for next year!), finished a dishcloth, and finished three more squares for my picnic blanket.  And we're not even halfway through the month.

My goal in this National Craft Month is to finish up at least one of my other outstanding projects.  I'm thinking the picnic blanket will get targeted, if only because I want to go on a picnic before it gets too hot out.  Of course, the Hufflepuff scarf is another good candidate.  Once one of those is finished, I'll move on to the next round of baby gifts (do people ever stop breeding??).

And, of course, I'll still be reading and writing.

Speaking of reading, I'm still working my way through Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire.  Today, when I sat down to open the book at lunch (because that's still when I do most of my reading), I realized that I'm almost done.  It still doesn't feel like I've actually made any progress, if that makes sense.  There was a lot of the story that was presented as dreams/memories, and I think that's why I feel like I'm still waiting for the story to get going.  It's not dragging - I just feel like I'm waiting to get to the conflict, but the number of pages left makes me feel like I should expect the resolution soon.  Once I'm finished, I'll be able to give you a better impression.  I hope.

And speaking of writing, I sat down to continue editing "Happily Ever After" and realized that I need to just start over.  But that's not a bad thing!  The first draft let me get everything out.  Now, I can start working on the story using the characters as I knew them by the end.  Wish me luck!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

YA has changed since my day...

"Back in my day..."

Isn't that something my grandpa used to say?  Yeesh.  I swear, I'm not really that old!  But to be honest, things have definitely changed since I was reading "Young Adult" books.

At work, we have this locker upstairs.  It's full of the most random collection of books.  I have no idea why it's there.  I have no idea whose books they were.  But every once in a while, when I forget my book at lunch, and there's nothing else to read in the kitchen, I'll grab one of them.

Lately, I've run into a lot of books by Caroline B. Cooney. I remember reading The Face on the Milk Carton when I was in junior high, and I got to thinking about the other books I read back then. I read some of the Sweet Valley High series, but I wasn't a big fan.  However, I was a HUGE fan of Lurlene McDaniel - Six Months to Live, I Want to Live, Sixteen and Dying... I owned the entire Dawn Rochelle series, and most of the One Last Wish series, and I read them over and over and over again.  And that just might have been the extent of my "Young Adult" reading.  Honestly, back in the early 90's, there wasn't nearly as much to choose from.  The YA section of my local library was made up of four shelves (not four shelving units, just four shelves) buried at the back of the regular fiction section.  I read through that in one summer.  It didn't take long for me to switch over to 'adult' books - I ended up a sci-fi/fantasy fan.

These days, though, there's sooooo much out there!  And so much of it is aimed at girls!  Now don't get me wrong, boys should have something to read, too, but I would have loved most of this stuff when I was the age of the target audience.  Fourteen-year-old-me would have adored Twilight, even though I can't stand it now.

The content is much different, too.  True, the whole paranormal thing has taken off like wildfire, but even with contemporary YA, things are different.  The most obvious thing I can point out is sex.  When I read Young Adult books, there was no mention of sex.  At all.  Kissing was a HUGE deal.  Now, in books like Kody Keplinger's The Duff, it's not unusual for teenagers to have sex.  In fact, it's accepted as normal. The Twilight series has sex.  It's as if today's authors actually connect with their audience and don't try to paint them as their parents see them... which is not to say that's what authors did fifteen years ago.  I just don't ever remember really relating to any of the characters in the books I read.  Of course, that could be because I didn't have cancer and wasn't dying...

Fun fact:  for years after reading Lurlene McDaniel's books, every time I had a bruise that I couldn't explain, I became absolutely convinced that I had leukemia and I would die a beautiful and tragic death.  Now, however, I realize that I've become such a klutz that, unless bumping into something dramatically impedes my forward momentum, I don't even feel it.  I just accept the bruises and wear long pants.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Letters to things

I am totally snagging the awesome letter-writing-stylings of Kiersten White.  You should go check out her blog, because she is really cool.  And short!  And her book, Paranormalcy, is a New York Times Bestseller (which I feel very guilty about not reading, because I read her blog faithfully, but I just don't like reading hardcover books - they don't feel right in my hands - so I'm waiting for the paperback edition).

And now, on to the letters!

Dear Spiders-who-look-like-dryer-lint,

   I know it's still a bit chilly outside.  However, I would appreciate it if you would STAY OUT OF MY BEDROOM.  I would also appreciate it if you would stop lurking in the basket of clean-but-unmatched-up-socks.  There is very little that freaks me out as much as reaching to pick lint off of the sock I want to wear, then realizing the lint has legs and is moving towards me.

Arachnophobically yours,

Dear Clean-but-unmatched-up-socks,

   I promise, I haven't forgotten you.  I just had a lot to do this weekend, and getting you all back with your partners will have to wait until the rest of the laundry is washed and dried, the dishes are done, the carpets are vacuumed, the guest room is decluttered, and Otter's sweater is done.

Until my downtime,

Dear Otter's sweater,

   Yes, I realize that you're a maternity sweater, and that we're on a deadline.  I'm working my hardest to get everything else tided up, so I can work on you without getting you covered in dust or spiders or mis-matched socks.  I'm not avoiding you, really!  I can't wait to get back to enjoying our time together.

Hurrying through the dishes to get to you,

Dear mean pug at the dog park,

   Don't bite my dog!

Snappishly yours,

Dear Blogglings,

   I hope you've enjoyed my outbursts at (mostly) inanimate objects.  I hope to finish reading another book to review soon, so we can return to a more writer-ly focus here.  Until then, please enjoy visiting some of the awesome blogs I follow by clicking on the "Links" tab above, or just clicking on this link to Kiersten's blog.

Always (trying to be) entertaining,

Friday, March 4, 2011

Where do I go?

I've been busy today!  I added the "Links" section to my blog, so you can see the places I visit when I'm surfing the web.  The thing is, while I have close to a hundred blogs that I check out on a regular basis, I rarely comment on any of them.  It's not that I don't like what I see - on the contrary!  I love what I see, and I keep going back for more.

Unfortunately, it seems like most bloggers post either during the day (while I'm at work), or at night (while I'm asleep).  There's nothing inherently wrong with these times (she says as she types tonight's blog at 11pm).  Because I work in a medical office, we've got a fairly tight internet policy.  While I can get away with reading one or two blogs for fun while I catch up on the latest medical news, I can't read all of the ones I want, and I certainly can't wander off and comment on them.  When I do get a chance to make comments (usually after work), a lot of what I wanted to say has already been said, and I hate to comment with something like, "Yeah, I agree with Mr. X!"

What does all of this mean?  Well, it means that the awesome people that I admire probably have no idea who I am.

Except for Lisa and Laura Roecker. They know who I am now.  *squee!*

Do you know who they are?  You should go check them out!  Now!  Go!  I'll wait here until you get back.

Welcome back!  Did you have fun over with LiLa?  I'll bet you recognize the book below (since you clearly followed my directions and went to visit their blog!).

I went out and bought this book just after it came out (on March 1st).  Turns out, I wasn't the only one. Another friend of mine, who is friends with Lisa and Laura on facebook, posted a photo of herself buying the book at our local bookstore, and I commented on the photo, saying that I had bought it, too.

Next thing I know, I wake up the next morning with a friend request!  How cool is that??

Really, though, I think it's more than a little awesome that someone (well, two someones) that I have been admiring for months thought it would be a good idea to contact me.  And it certainly doesn't hurt that they're uber-talented.

I'm planning to start (and finish) The Liar Society this weekend.  I would have started it the same day I bought it, except I had three other books in progress, and that's my upper limit for multiple-reads.

Oh, right, there was one more thing!  The new list of links is a work-in-progress, mostly because I follow so many blogs that I can't stare at the screen long enough to put them all up at once.  Because it's so long, I don't think that many people will just go to that tab and start looking at all of them, all at once.  So what I'm going to do is, every week or so, post a blog about these other blogs, and why I follow them.  That way, you can a) get an idea of what they're about and b) get a bit of an idea about what I like to read.

Until next time, blogglings, have a nice weekend!  And don't forget to visit Lisa and Laura Write!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Let's Take a Trip

A guilt trip, that is.

I've gotta say, I'm tired of people trying to send me on guilt trips.  Hello, raised a Catholic here!  I've got lots of experience dealing with guilt!  I've even felt guilty for not feeling guilty about things.  How's that for a brain-bender?

Thing is, I'm completely capable of feeling guilty about things on my own.  I don't need (or want) someone else to try to make me feel guilty about something.  See, that has got an effect that is probably quite a lot different than what the person wanted.

Let's say that Bob wanted me to do something, but I had already made a commitment to Joe to do something at that same time.  I'm going to honor my commitment to Joe, while feeling a little bit guilty about not being able to lend Bob a hand.  However, I'll get over that guilt because I'm only human, and can only be in one place at a time (though it would be cool to be able to be in two places at once!).

Now let's say that Bob was unhappy that I had decided to honor my commitment and do whatever it was that I did for Joe instead of doing what Bob wanted me to do.  Bob decided to try to make me feel guilty about not doing his thing, telling me how hard it was to do without me, or how much easier things would have been if I had been there, or maybe just repeatedly making pointed remarks about how long it has been since he's seen me around doing things with him.  He's hoping that, by making me feel bad about not doing what he wanted me to, I'll give in next time and do what he wants.

Ha.  No, actually, here's what he's done: he's made me mad.  Like I said, I'm plenty capable of feeling guilty on my own.  But to have someone try to force it on me?  No way, buddy.  Now, next time Bob asks me to do something, I'll make up a reason not to.  And if he tries guilting me again?  Next time, the reason will be something really lame, like "I have to relace all of my sneakers, sorry."

'Why am she telling us all of this?' you may ask.  Well!  I have an answer that's related to my blog!  I want to incorporate this into a story somehow, but I'm not entirely sure how.  I like the first-person sort of style for it, I think.  It seems more, I don't know... familiar?  And I think that guilt is very hard to show from a third-person POV.

What I'm really looking for are opinions - would you want to read about someone like this?  What about someone who is like this, but doesn't consciously realize what she's doing?  Is this more of a female trait than a male trait?

All opinions/suggestions are welcome!