Monthly Archives: January 2012

Fifty/Fifty check in: week 4

Week 4 Fifty/Fifty check in! Can you believe that January is almost over?

This week, I’m again experiencing the books vs. movies conundrum. I read three books. I watched … zero movies. I’d planned to watch a movie last night, had it all picked out and everything. But then I weighed my options and realized the wiser decision was to finish Rita book #2.

And it was the wiser decision; it really was. If I keep pace at one book a week, then I’ll finish up before the deadline with a few days to spare. After I’m done, I’ll have to have a movie madness month to catch up on the challenge. Or maybe I could get the flu and watch an endless stream of them (she says optimistically).

So, here’s my check in for the week:

To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918 by Adam Hochschild (War Through the Generations challenge book)

First book for the WWI War Through the Generations challenge and it was a good one. I won’t say much about it here, because I’ll be writing a longer review for the challenge, but I really enjoyed this.

iDrakula by Bekka Black

I picked this up at the library on a whim and read it while I was sitting poolside at Kyra’s swim lessons. It was cute, quick, and fun–a modern retelling of Bram Stoker’s Dracula with text messages, emails, web pages, and so on. It was the perfect thing to read in between Rita book #2 and Rita book #3.

Rita Book #2

Finished this one last night. Onward with book #3.


Filed under 50/50, Books, Reading, RWA, War Through The Generations

YALSA 2012 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults: Get Your Geek On!

So excited to announce that The Geek Girl’s Guide to Cheerleading is a YALSA 2012 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults pick in the Get Your Geek On category!

In fact, I’m so excited, I keep checking the list–and then zooming past our listing. Then I’m all:

Oh, no! I just announced this to the world and look, we’re not there!

Then I check again. Yes, yes. We’re (still) there.

In the words of Darcy: I ❤ librarians.

We do. It’s true. Also true? There’s some good reading in those lists. Just from 2012, you can choose from:

  • Adventure Seekers
  • Forbidden Romance
  • Get Your Geek On
  • Sticks and Stones

But take a look at all the lists compiled through the years. If you’re doing the Fifty/Fifty challenge, you could build a major or a minor based on those categories.

So, what are you waiting for? Get reading!

Leave a comment

Filed under 50/50, Books, Geek Girl's Guide, Promo, Writing, YA

Skateboarding gals, won’t you come out tonight

So this week, Kyra completed her big project for the Junior aMUSE badge set. Previously, she created a girl, and gave her a goal and something that concerned her, and listed some of her favorite things . For you writers out there, if you think this sounds like the start of a character sketch, you’d be right.

The final requirement is completing a play, poem, story, comic, etc. about your girl. Kyra wanted to write a play, with a part for everyone in her troop (fortunately, we’re a small troop and that’s only six parts).

I could not dissuade her. It had to be a play and we’re going to do a read-through performance at the next meeting.

So, she wrote the draft by hand, and then last night, set to work on my computer typing the whole thing out.

The Skateboarding Gals  comes in at three pages and 457 words. The climax involves exploding garbage. I do not know why. I was not the creative consultant for that part of the project.

My favorite part is this:

Halley: I wish I could skateboard

Lilly Suzy and Sally: I’ll teach you

All exchange glances.

Lilly Suzy and Sally: We’ll teach you

Lilly: after the exploding garbage

Then they all ride off (on skateboards) into the sunset. After the exploding garbage, of course. What? You were doubting the happy ending?

I, for one, am looking forward to The Skateboarding Gals limited run in the library’s meeting room. It’s sure to be standing room only.


Filed under Kids, Writing

Fifty/Fifty check in: week 3

Ah, week three and I’m well on my way in reading and writing (the watching, not so much this week). How can you tell I’m working on a new project? The posts on my blog go way down. It’s like I have only one writing mode, and right now, that mode is fiction.

But I’m committed to updating at least once a week and to the Fifty/Fifty challenge.


Understanding Anemia by Ed Uthman

I should probably state for the record that I read this for writing research purposes only (although I have actually been anemic, but never mind that). See the part above where I’m working on a project. This ties into that.

But even if it didn’t? It’s a really interesting and well written book. You don’t need more than high school level biology to understand it. Even if you don’t remember your high school biology, the author has included handy appendices on cell biology, the metric system, and so on.

Plus, he’s pretty funny to boot. When was the last time you read a text book that proclaimed:

The spleen, however, is not amused.

This is just one of many examples. So, if you need to understand anemia, this is a great place to start.

May B. by Caroline Starr Rose

May B. is a middle grade novel in verse about a girl trapped by herself in a tiny sod house during the winter. Kyra and I read this together, each of us taking turns reading a verse at a time.

We loved it. Of course, Kyra is already a fan of history and “old fashion girls” as she says. The writing is evocative and we could “see” the story play out before our eyes.

If you’re a fan of the Little House books (and old fashion girls in general), I highly recommend this one.

Rita Book #1

This is the main reason I didn’t watch a movie this week for the challenge (although I’m seriously thinking of changing that next week). I got my box of books for the Rita contest. I will pretty much be a reading fool for the next several weeks. And that’s all I can say about that.


Filed under 50/50, Books, Reading, Reading & Writing, RWA, Writing

Fifty/Fifty check in: week 2

A little late with the Fifty/Fifty check in this week, although I got my reading and watching done (and some writing, that’s why I’m late with the check in).

In books, I was all about self-help. In movie(s), it was all about the crying.


The Productive Writer: Tips & Tools to Help You Write More, Stress Less & Create Success by Sage Cohen.

This book is pretty much what it says it is. Tips and tools for writing more and finding what you want to write as well. One huge plus is the author presents the material as options, not as “must do’s.” If you don’t know where to start in organizing your writing life, this would be a good first stop.

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck

It must be the New Year! We’re all about productivity and success. This was my audio book for the weekly commute and I also enjoyed. I’m all revved up now to tackle the world–or at least my little corner of it.


War Horse (film)

War Horse: A recent movie! In a theater! I know. And one that involves crying in public. Even better. Especially when it involves crying with one’s daughter in public.

Yeah, I took Kyra (and Andrew–I wasn’t too worried about him). Initially, I wasn’t sure this would be a good idea. Especially when Kyra sat through the Titanic preview (now in 3D!) with both hands clamped over her mouth.

Two and a half hours later, we emerged, tear-stained and emotionally drained. But it was worth it. She did like the movie; she loved Joey the horse (she’s a horse girl). Plus, both kids like history, so this spurred all sorts of conversations afterward. Kyra wants to learn more about World War I. (And how many nine-year-olds say that?)

Visually, the film is stunning (sometimes hard to watch, but stunning all the same). It’s been a while since I’ve sen a movie in a theater and I don’t regret choosing this one.

Leave a comment

Filed under 50/50, Books, Kids, Movies, Reading, War Through The Generations, Writing

Fifty/Fifty check-in: week 1

Well, week one of 2012, and I’m off to a pretty good start. If you stop in at the Fifty/Fifty site, you’ll see others are as well.


I started the New Year with a couple of special books.

The Giver

The Giver by Lois Lowry

This was the Kindle deal of the day on December 30th and I immediately downloaded it. I gobbled it up as the first book of the New Year, only slightly embarrassed that I haven’t read it before now. The book was the 1994 Newbery Medal winner and I look forward to sharing it with Kyra in a year or two.

Love and Leftovers by Sarah Tregay

I downloaded this novel in verse as soon as it was available on Kindle. A few years back, I was lucky enough to judge this book in manuscript form in a couple of writing contests. It was one of those entries that left me with that WOW feeling. It was so much fun to read it in its published form. Check out Sarah’s site for more information on novels in verse.


Gosford Park

I watched one movie this week, although it wasn’t easy. See yesterday’s post to find out why.

Despite the distractions, I enjoyed Gosford Park. I can’t believe I’ve waited this long to watch it. Actually, I can (again, see yesterday’s post).

My movie list this year will be a long parade of Really? You haven’t seen that? Embarrassing as this is, there’s an upside: think of all the good movies I can put on my list.

Looking forward to week two!

Leave a comment

Filed under 50/50, Books, Movies, Reading, YA

Blame Spy Girl

English: "G" rating of Motion Pictur...

Last night I managed to watch my first movie for the fifty/fifty challenge. I haven’t watched a lot of movies recently. There’s something about having small children that reduces your entertainment options to those that are strictly G-rated.

Oh, sure, I’d make it to the theater now and then, or watch a DVD when the house was, by some miracle, empty. But mostly? If I couldn’t watch it with the kids, I didn’t watch it.

Fast forward a few years. As far as entertainment goes, things are a bit more laid back. We can have family movie night where the movie appeals to all of us. We each have our own genres we like and the ability to watch on our own.

What better time than now to attempt the movie portion of the fifty/fifty challenge?

So I took out the headphones and the portable DVD player and got all set to watch Gosford Park. Things were going well. I was cozy; the movie was good. Then I noticed Kyra, changing into all black. She smoothed out her hair and added a headband, because, and I quote:

“Spy Girl is always fashionable.”

She spent the evening creeping from one side of our living area to the other, where I was sitting. (Our living area is one big open space. I’d call it a “great room” but that sound pretentious.) Every time movement caught the corner of my eye, I’d glance up.

Spy Girl would curse her bad luck at being spotted and start all over again.

Did I mention that this went on for at least two thirds of the entire movie? (The first third was spent in Spy Girl preparation.)

Is it any wonder I haven’t really watched a (non-rated G or PG) movie at home for the last fifteen years?

Spy Girl is always fashionable. She is also distracting.


Filed under 50/50, Kids, Movies

Life less creepy: The Janesville Baby

I’m trying to remember the first time I saw the Janesville Baby. I was in elementary school (pretty sure) and I think it was a field trip, although whether it was a school field trip or one for Girls Scouts, I really don’t know.

I wasn’t prepared to see it, I do know that. I’d never heard of the Janesville Baby before. But there she was. A doll. Hanging in an upper window. In an old house. Glimpsed briefly, through the smudged window of a school bus. I think I cried out:

“There’s a doll hanging in that window!”

Some of the kids saw it; others didn’t. It did generate much speculation, as only a doll handing in a window could among elementary school children.

It was the right kind of creepy.

I saw it several times while growing up in southern Minnesota. Even better, the Greyhound bus I took to the University of Wisconsin-Madison passed right through Janesville. No one at school ever believed me about the Janesville Baby (unless they hailed from southern Minnesota). So every time the bus drove through Janesville, I’d crane my neck to look and confirm:

Yes, yes, the baby is still there.

It’s not my imagination.

And it’s still creeping me out.

No matter what people say on the video or in the comments, for me, the Janesville Baby invokes the same visceral response as clowns or those movies about dolls that come to life in the middle of the night.

That being said, I’m glad this piece of my childhood is still intact, that it’s inspiring stories and wonder and–with a little luck–creeping out a new generation of elementary school children.

More about the Janesville Baby (article no longer online). I think my favorite comment is:

Only in the ridiculously reserved state of Minnesota could someone do something like that and not ever be asked about it for 30 years.

To be fair, I think people have asked. Mr. Wendt simply isn’t talking.

So there you go. Your dose of creepiness for the day. You can thank me later, say at 2 a.m., when you can’t fall to sleep.


Filed under Musings, Video

Moscow 2011

For all you Russophiles out there (you know how you are).

Москва’2011(Moscow/Russia) from zweizwei |motion timelapse| on Vimeo.

Leave a comment

Filed under Video

Reading Challenges for 2012

Last year January, I remember reading a post on an email group from an author complaining about the number of books she had to read for the Rita contest. Her complaint, and I’m paraphrasing, was:

Eight books! I don’t even read eight books in a year!

My initial response, which was totally nonverbal, looked something like:


Seriously? You’re an author (and yes, yes she was) and you don’t read. Really? Her excuse? She had all these contracts and was just so busy. Because, you know, the rest of us aren’t.

I do understand not having enough time to do a lot of pleasure reading. Or, when there is time, being too tired. Just last night, I fell asleep reading, only realizing it when my Kindle pitched forward and thumped me on the chest.

And every once in a while, I’ll entertain the idea of simply being a reader–forget this writing stuff. Sadly, it never works out and I end up writing again. But my point is: why write if you don’t read or don’t like to read?

So with that in mind, I’m taking on two reading challenges this year. First, I’m doing the War Through the Generations challenge again. This year the challenge focuses on World War I. I’m doing something a little different this year, too. Normally, I’ve signed up for the “dip” level, which is 1 – 3 books (and yeah, you saw me skate in with book 3 at the last moment).

For 2012, I’m upping the number of books, trying the “wade” level of 4 – 10 books. Sure, to “win” all I really need to do is read one more than I normally do for this challenge. Still. It’s a little intimidating.

The other challenge is the Fifty/Fifty challenge. Fifty books and fifty movies, all in one year. You can combine this challenge with other ones, which is what makes it so great–beyond the neat community already starting up over there.

If you’ve never done a reading challenge, I think this one would be a great place to start. It’s meant to get you reading and watching things you haven’t read or watched before. Already there’s movie and books suggestions.

My personal goal, beyond the challenges, is to read 75 books. If I end up watching 50 movies, we might have to throw a parade.

Wish me luck. Or better yet, join in and keep me company.


Filed under 50/50, Books, Movies, Reading, Reading & Writing, War Through The Generations