Monday, June 27, 2011

Two for the Show

Happy Second Birthday to my Sweet Baby James!

Words cannot express the joy you have brought into our lives. You are an absolute miracle, a gift from God. Your sweet, snuggly, loving, happy-go-lucky personality brightens our hearts every day.

We love you!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Once Upon a Time Challenge - Completed

(I die for this artwork, they should release them as a series, I'd buy and frame them!)

I have been totally MIA for the last week or so, and wonders of wonders I managed to break another toe. I am special, very special. However, I completed the Once Upon a Time Reading Challenge, on time and everything, although this post is two days late.

I tried to stick with a Sleeping Beauty theme, just because I am in that state of mind, but in the end only 3 of 5 ended up being Sleeping Beauty stories. Here is a quick recap of the books I read:

This is a middle grade fiction book based on Sleeping Beauty. What is fun about this novel is that it focuses more on the story of the prince who rescues the sleeping princess. It's interesting how knowing (or suspecting) that he is the foretold prince who will break the spell affects Prince Sigismund. I really liked the use of the faeries and faerie world in this book, the magic was very believable, I am a huge fan of magic making sense in it's own context and not just being used to get a writer out of a jam. 4 out of 5 stars.

This is the one book on this list I had read before, although it's been a few years. You may as well know that I think McKinley has cornered the market on fairytale retellings. She is brilliant, and as it turns out the only living author listed in my "favorite authors/authors who have influenced me" in the "About Me" section I had to write for my new site. The way she writes magic is amazing. If I could be half as good as her I would die happy. I love the non-traditional take on Sleeping Beauty, I love Rosie as a heroine, I love Narl as a hero, I love Katriona, and her constant internal conflict and love for Rosie. To recap: I pretty much love everything about this book EXCEPT the new cover, the old cover was so much better, and luckily that is the version I have (and have chosen to share with you here, click the title of the book if you want to see the new one, boo). 5 out of 5 stars!

My third Sleeping Beauty novel . . . It was cute, it was fun, so why was I left feeling disappointed? Maybe it's one of those horrible examples of a book not living up to it's (gorgeous, by the way) cover? I'd heard a lot about Beastly, also by Flinn, although I haven't read it, so perhaps I was just expecting a lot? It wasn't bad by any stretch of the imagination, but it was definitely fluff. That isn't necessarily bad. Fluff is fun, it just doesn't really etch glorious images into your mind. It just sort of is, and once you're done, it isn't. It was likely a mistake to read A Kiss in Time directly after Spindle's End. It also has a new cover, what is up with these publishers? Ditching beautiful covers for crap? 4 out of 5 stars.

While not technically a fairytale, Wings is a tale about faeries, so I am totally counting it. I had been wanting to read this for awhile, so was thrilled when it was offered free on the Kindle (I'm so cheap). In the first chapter there is a reference to homeschoolers being unsocialized and this annoyed me so much I put it down and didn't pick it back up for almost a month. And while this overused and frustrating stereotype is actually used to further the plot in this book, it still cheesed me off. That being said, I really liked the book. The main character, Laurel, is interesting, the take on faeries is fresh and unique, and there is tension between to equally awesome possible main hero types. Fun stuff! It is the first in a series of three, so don't expect total resolution at the end. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Ok, I admit I bought this for my Kindle iPhone app merely because of the title and the fact that it was 99 cents. It ends up being more of an early victorian romance than having anything to do with fairytales other than that the heroine is constantly, and often inexplicably, quoting them. If you like historical romances it's a decent read. The heroine was likable if a bit naive, and the hero was suitably honorable and attractive. I suppose I could have found another book that met the challenge more specifically, or recapped one that I'd already read, but I ran out of time. 3 out of 5 stars.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Northern Summers

Since late April the days here in Montana have been getting longer and longer. I thought I was used to long summer days, living in Southern California, but let me tell you, it is nothing compared to Montana, and it's not even high summer yet. Unless it's pouring rain it get's unspeakably beautiful at between 7 and 7:30 p.m. here. All of our windows face west, so we are constantly forgetting how late it really is.

Here is Montana at 7:45 in early June. Crazy!

The weirdest part is how long it stays light, even after the sunsets which happen around 9:20 right now (sunrise is at 5:30 and I hear in July it will be closer to 4:30).

Check out this sunset from the other day after it rained. Pretty!

And it stays light like this around the mountains (Helena is in a valley) for at least 30 minutes after sunset, so now that means until almost 10 pm!

The funny thing is that Starbucks closes at 9, so when I go out to write I leave the coffee shop and come home while it is still light! It boggles the mind!

I guess this much sun makes up for the cold, dark, winter!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Mickey Mouse Bounce House!!

James loves Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

Love might be too weak a word.

He adores it.

He thinks Mickey is the best thing on planet earth. He can say all the characters names, and responds when they ask questions. I realize that a lot of it is memorization because he watches episodes over and over, but the other day Mickey asked what some number was and James answered "twelve." I spun around, shocked, because I've never heard him use that number - and yup, he was right, it was a twelve. My kid's a genius. Twelve - also the number of times he's seen that episode, but please, let's not spoil my proud mommy moment ;)

Little Mr. James has a big birthday coming up - he is going to be 2!
That is insane on so many levels. What happened to my little baby? Sob.

We are having his party at Big Time Bouncers, an indoor bounce house facility here in Helena, Montana. If there is anything James likes more than Mickey it's bounce houses. Big Time Bouncers has several up at the Farmer's Market every week and Maddie and James spent a good hour in them on Saturday.

So here are the invites for Jamie's Mickey Mouse Bounce House (See what I did there? Clever!) birthday party, compliments of Daddy and Walmart 1 hour photo.

(Gotta love my quick blur job on that phone number, thanks iPhoto!)

Are they not adorable? Yay Mickey! Yay Jamie! Yay bounce houses!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Editing: Not for the Weak at Heart

I bit the bullet and scanned through my manuscript, mostly just to make a list of scenes I need to add and rewrite, and to reassure myself it's not a total piece of crap. And it's not, at least not totally. But that is why I call it the crap draft (rough is too kind a word).

I went old school and made my list with an actual pencil and paper. My goal was to give myself a mental break, and separate the beginning of the editing process in my mind as much as possible from the writing process. Hmm. Not entirely sure how it worked out. It was fun writing it out, but I'm having to type it up anyway because a) I get anal over line spacings and stuff when I write things out, and b) eventually my kids will find and destroy this paper.

It was both frightening and freeing to make this list. I know what I still have to write. Hopefully now that I know my characters better the scenes that gave me issues before will come out more smoothly.

It also helped to go back and reread the scenes I am already pretty happy with. To remind myself that even in crap drafts there are gems.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The End. Or Just the Beginning?

I finally wrote the words The End.

Honestly, I expected to feel a lot more elated. Maybe finishing that last scene in the 10th inning of what would turn out to be my team's 5th loss in a row (at home) wasn't the best timing.

It was kind of like "Oh, so there's that. Hmm. Interesting. Ho, hum."

Or maybe the issue was I know how much work I've set up for myself. There's four or five scenes I stopped writing half way through and moved on, or that I just didn't write at all. There are some really awesome continuity / character issues near the beginning of the novel because I didn't know my characters as well in chapter one as I do now.

I'd love to be more excited than I am. A lot more excited. I mean, it is a pretty big deal, right? That's what I keep telling myself!

Oh well, I guess the only thing to do now is grab a huge Diet Coke (why does diet Coke have to taste like death?) and jump right into re-writes!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Maddie Loves Rocky

I don't know why, but my three year old, Maddie, loves Rocky. Yes, Rocky. Rocky Balboa, the Italian Stallion, "Yo, Adrian." That Rocky.

She really thinks he is the bees knees. Not only will she sit and watch the movies, she requests them. She knows the difference between the sequels based upon the fighters featured. Rocky is first in her affections at the moment rivaled only by Christopher Reeve's Superman.

She's an odd little thing, I can't fully explain her.

I don't usually feature videos on my blog, and here I am two posts in a row with video! This is too awesome not to share though. The first time she did this we were totally flabbergasted, and couldn't quite get out the iPhone fast enough to record, then at the end she asked for it again, so we rewound the dvd and made sure we were ready with the camera. Amazingly she did it again!

Here for your entertainment is Maddie replicating the training montage from Rocky II.

My favorite parts? The attempted no handed push up and using the tv stand for pull ups. This is the kind of classic video I will one day be showing any boy she brings home.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

If I Had a Million Dollars

I love this song by Barenaked Ladies, if you haven't heard it you are totally missing out. There are a million live versions on YouTube, but usually they include a lot of really hilarious ad libbing, so I thought I'd give you this original version (boring green screen with lyrics aside), it might be the best intro to the song. Love it.

So what would you do if you had a million dollars?

Not that a million dollars goes all that far these days, ahem.

If I had a million dollars (either via lottery or if I somehow become an ebook sensation and my novels sell like proverbial hotcakes, if you know, hotcakes sold in the millions), I think I would totally buy one of the newer condos near Angels stadium, get season tickets, and walk to all the games. The walking would a) save gas and parking costs, thereby making my million dollars go further and b) burn calories, so a win win.

Wouldn't it be awesome to get to see this approximately 80 games a year?

So, what is in on your "If I had a million dollars list?"