Friday, December 30, 2011

Brain Fog

I have seasonal allergies and when they hit I get brain fog in the worst way. My energy levels plummet, my initiative is out the door and I think my IQ slips a few points. If I have to run errands, I want the easiest route. That means left turn lanes or it isn't happening.

God forbid anything out of the ordinary is required of me. It takes all my willpower just to drag through a normal day, sneezing, dripping, groaning. Needless to say, I hate it.

Before I realized it was health related, I wondered why, at times, I was such a curmudgeony slug. I used to be spontaneous. There were times that I had so much energy, I had to walk or run to burn it off. There was a time when I had a totally packed schedule - full time job and night classes. So I know I can do it. And most of the time I enjoyed it. So why did my social needs contract like a snail into its shell at times? It was a puzzle.

And my writing crashed. I couldn't think anything through. Usually, I just wanted to curl up with a book, or better yet, stare at the TV. Anything requiring coherent thought was beyond me. It's really hard to think when you're oxygen deprived.

Now I know what it is and I can plan for it. I stock up on tissues, antihistamines and Vitamin C. It still knocks me for a loop, but I don't wonder about my mental state. I medicate and wait it out.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Hounded by Kevin Hearne

A very fun read!

First of all - 10 points for the pronunciation guide. Thank you!

Secondly, he introduced the Celtic pantheon painlessly. I didn't feel like I needed to do research to understand the actions of the gods. Love the characters and the pacing was fast. I will definitely read more.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Resolutions

I am making a few resolutions for next year. Some are the usual - drop some pounds, write more, etc. But a few are toward being more efficient with my time. And one of those is that I am not going to read books I don't like.

I can remember the first book I didn't finish. It was Main Street by Sinclair Lewis. I was in high school and it just annoyed the piss out of me. Maybe I should go back and take a look at it now. Not finishing it felt like a wild and sinful act to me. My family is voracious readers. We never put a book aside and not finish it.

These days I have limited fun time. I have a day job. I'm writing in my spare time and spending way too much time trolling blogs and learning about self publishing and marketing. My reading time is precious. Unless I feel like I can really learn something, out of my comfort zone, in a book, I'm not going to spend the little time I have on slogging through it.

OK. I said it. And I mean it. But I still feel guilty.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Awkward Christmas encounter

Way back when, when I was living in Grand Junction and working for a nursery I had the weirdest encounter. I'm short, five foot nothing in my stocking feet. And I like to wear tunics and leggings. They're comfy.

So here it was December and the nursery was selling Christmas trees and all the trimmings. I was in the greenhouse potting up some seedlings when a customer came rushing in, full of the spirit of the season. He gushed over the decorations. Since I had seen them for about four months already, I forced a cheerful smile and gushed back at him.

"It's really great!" he said, eying the ranks of poinsettias behind me.

"Yes, they come in different sizes." Always encouraging the sale.

"And you're dressed like an elf."

"I am?" That startled me, because I was wearing my normal clothes.

"Well, umm..." And he dashed out the door.

Oops.

I was wearing a very colorful, patterned tunic and dark green leggings. Since the primary color in the tunic was orange, I didn't consider it very Christmasy. Guess I was wrong. But I suppose there are worse things to be confused with than an elf.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Alloy of Law - Brandon Sanderson

I didn't know this was book 1! No fair!

Although I enjoyed the Mistborn books, I'm not sure what to make of this one. It's more like a western with trains and gun fights. I do want to read the next one, because this is a cliffhanger. The main character is a bit Clint Eastwood and a bit Sherlock Holmes. All the characters in the book are interesting. Too much time spent on the fight scenes for my taste, but I'm sure that will appeal to others.

The changes and introductions of new plot twists in the last few chapters make the next book look very interesting.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mushrooms

Back in the spring we purchased 2 mushroom logs from a local farmer. One shitake and one oyster. They warned us that the logs might not do anything for awhile. I put them in the yard, in a protected place behind a rhododendron. And there they sat, near the door to the garden shed. I glanced at them nearly every day.

And as they warned . . . nothing happened.

Then bam! One log has fully grown mushrooms on the bottom of it! Whoo hoo!

I pulled them off and popped 'em into a saute the next day!

I know that they were there long enough for a chipmunk or squirrel to take a nibble or two. But somehow I totally missed them as I passed them just about every day as I went in and out of the garden shed.

Now, I will be watching.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Unusual Suspects edited by Dana Stabenow

A very nice collection for sampling authors new to me. It runs the gamut from Noir to High Fantasy. Not everything was to my taste, but that is the upside to short stories - you get through them quicker. I had only read work by 2 of the authors previously - Charlaine Harris and Simon R. Green. I will definitely be looking for additional work by many of the authors.

This review was also posted at Goodreads.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

I'm pretty sure

While proofing the latest version of White Lies, my mystery novel, I discovered that I use "pretty" A LOT..

He was pretty sure.
You hit your head pretty hard
It was pretty bad.

Damn. I didn't even know I was doing it. So, I looked it up in my Thesaurus and realized, oops, it's slang. Pretty means beautiful. What is my definition that it can be used in all the ways I use it? It pops up at least once a chapter. YIKES. But I think it must be one of those invisible words (like said or the) because none of my readers called me on it.

What  adjective can I replace it with? And for those purists who say not to use an adjective, bear with me while I get to my point.

"Pretty" seems to be an anything word for me.

Let's look at the first usage: he was pretty sure. Dropping out the "pretty" changes the meaning. Because he wasn't sure. But saying "He wasn't sure." Doesn't have the same feel. Almost? Fairly? About? Just doesn't work as well.

The second usage is somewhat opposite. You hit your head pretty hard. "Very" isn't right. "Almost" won't do it. "Reasonably hard"? Only a socially-challenged TV nerd would say that.

And the third: It was pretty bad. I suppose "very bad" would do, but it still doesn't have the right feel.

There are way too many "prettys" in there and each one is going to be a puzzle to replace. I need to spend an evening with my dictionary and Thesaurus.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Kerfuffle

Dare I add my 2 cents to the War on Christmas? Yeah!

Bashing shoppers over the head to rip a cheap TV out of their arms has nothing to do with any religion I know of.

One upping Santa by buying better gifts than him (WTF?) has nothing to do with religion.

Lighting up your house with a million lights so that you increase your electric bill exponentially is related to pagan rituals of the solstice. Does anyone remember that Christians had to borrow rituals from other religions so they could FLY UNDER THE RADAR?

The very religious Christians in my neck of the woods don't decorate with electric reindeer or giant snowglobes on their lawn. They go to church.

No one is stopping them from going to church.

The people screaming about Christmas don't seem to realize that those of us who don't worship their god want the same respect for our beliefs.

Stop the madness!

Happy Holidays!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Music in my head

I woke up with music in my head. It happens all the time. But this morning it was from Godspell.

What the heck?

I'm not a fan of show tunes and even if I was, Godspell would be way down there on the list. I haven't seen or heard any music from the show recently. Where did that come from? As my brain trudged up out of the gray fog of sleep:

Ho sanna hey sanna sanna sanna ho sanna hey sanna ho sanna.

I'm constantly amazed at the snippets and scraps that get blown into the corners of my brain and stay there. I remember jungles from my childhood, the phone number of my best friend from grammar school, I can name all the reindeer, but when I walk into the next room I forget what I went in there for.

With all the factoids and infobabble swirling around in my brain, why do I never wake up reciting the Gettysburg Address, or the soliloquy from Hamlet? No, I wake up singing, "Like a good neighbor..."

What the heck?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Today in Writer Unboxed Donald Maas wrote this:

The protagonists in fiction serve a similar purpose. We look to them as models. What we want from them is not just entertaining stories but examples of how we can feel, see the world, conduct ourselves, grow and change. We admire them, learn from them, celebrate them and return to them over and over for inspiration. Click here for the rest of it

Ah ha! That's why I can't get into some stories. I can't relate to the characters. The book I just finished reading had such mean characters. I didn't like how they acted in their world and I wouldn't want to experience it again. The actions they took were small and greedy. They were all fighting for survival, but only for themselves. Or at least that's the way it felt to me. Not one of them took a larger view. It was all for money or political power. Murder, rape, betrayal.

I'm sure there are people who enjoy this book for it's near future scenarios. What I used to call "After-the-bomb-dropped" stories. Only here it's an "After-the-climate-broke story". Which is well thought out. But there are no heroes in this book. No one to turn the corner and bring hope back. Every decision just makes things worse.

Thanks to Donald Maas for helping me figure out why this didn't work for me!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Out of my comfort zone


I am reading a book that don't like, again.

I am beginning to wonder what the criteria is for some awards. Because a lot of the award winning books don't appeal to me.

Maybe I'm just an old stick in the mud. Maybe I don't have enough creativity in me. I want my heroes to be likeable and I want love to be able to weather difficulties and I want the good guys to win. Old fashioned concepts, I know.

The book I am reading right now has very unlikeable characters. Every one of them is greedy or cruel or damaged in some way.  The world building is excellent, but it's a nasty place with no relief. The characters are trapped on multiple levels. I guess I am curious to find out what happens, but I won't be surprised if they all end up dead. Since that's a real possibility for all of them, I can't connect. I don't want to invest myself in characters that are destined to die. And most likely - die badly.

And this book has that corporation-as-super-ruler concept, also. That seems to be a popular theme lately. Or maybe I've just randomly picked books that had that theme. It's an interesting proposition that commerce will rule the future. And I suppose large corporations are cutthroat. Look at the English trading companies and what they did to India and Indonesia and the Caribbean. But with that as our history, would we allow it to happen again?

I will go to an old favorite author to curl up in a beloved world for a bit and rest my brain.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Book Comments

Holder of Lightning (The Cloudmages #1) S_L_Farrell

The characters were fairly solid but the names were very difficult. I know he was trying to use the Gaelic, but I would have appreciated a pronunciation guide. As it was, the names were so hard to get a handle on that I lost tract of who was who. Despite that, I will be interested to see where he takes book 2.