Category Archives: RWA

Fifty/Fifty check in: week 8 and 9

I didn’t bother with last week’s Fifty/Fifty check in, since all I finished was Rita book #6. So again, I’m giving you a two for one.

Not movies, again–sadly. However, I really want to see The Artist and Kyra want to see The Secret World of Arrietty. The trick is making that happen. In the meantime, I’ve still manage to read and watch a few things.


How to Be a Writer: Building Your Creative Skills Through Practice and Play by Barbara Baig

I “bought” a copy of this for my Kindle during a promotion last year. I say “bought” because I think it was actually free at the time or 99 cents. Either way, an excellent deal. Have you always wanted to write but don’t know where to start–as in, literally, no idea. This is the perfect book.

I really like the emphasis on deliberate practice and using writing to learn how to write. This isn’t a book where you learn point of view or fantasy world-building, but it will get you writing. Even though I’ve been writing for a while, I never refuse helpful hints and techniques. I really love the idea of the zero draft (will be using that a lot more as I go forward) along with some excellent tips for doing “required writing” (again, spot on).

In fact, even if you’re not a writer, but need to do some “required” type writing for work or school, I really recommend those chapters.

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson

A very interesting and detailed look at Germany between the wars, in particular 1933 – 1934, although the author takes us through 1938 and a bit beyond. I always enjoy this in-depth, personal view of historical events. I spent a lot of time in the car (this was one of my audio-reads) marveling at the things I didn’t know about this time period. Well worth the listen!

Rita Book #6

Rita Book #7

And there was much rejoicing! I finished this one on Friday evening and put the final score in on Saturday morning. Done and ahead of the deadline.


Not a movie, but I start in on the second season for Downton Abbey. I bought the DVD, not only so I could watch whenever I wanted to but for all the extras as well. This is my reward for making it through all the Rita reading.

That being said, during January and February this year I somehow managed to read 20 books! I think that should earn me a break for a few movies to round out my challenge.

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

Fifty/Fifty check in: week 6 and 7

I missed week six’s Fifty/Fifty check in, so here’s two for one, both week six and week seven recap.

Still no movies. And now that we’ve added selling Girl Scout cookies to the schedule, I’m not sure when I actually will watch another movie. However, I’m not giving up on that part of the challenge. It’s just … delayed.


State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

This book has been described as a female version of Heart of Darkness–and I can see that. I don’t think I liked this one as much as I liked Bel Canto. However, I do love Ann Patchett’s writing, so this was well worth my while.

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Unlike many readers, I already knew a great deal about the deportations and the forced labor camps of the Stalin years. (One of the side effects of majoring in Russian.) That didn’t make it any less powerful. I would highly recommend this one to young adult readers, especially those interested in this part of history.

The prose is spare by lyrical and the story and the history is presented in a way that’s very accessible. Last year, Andrew tackled One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich and while he found it very interesting, there were events I had to explain to him. I don’t think younger readers will have that problem with this book.

Rita Book #4

Rita Book #5

And that’s it. Once I’m through with the Rita books, I’ll be able to talk about everything I’m reading.

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Fifty/Fifty check in: week 5

Week 5 Fifty/Fifty check in! Welcome to February!

I’m still experiencing the books vs. movies conundrum. I don’t think this is going to change until I finish the Rita reading. Then maybe I’ll double up on movies in March and April to catch up.

So all I have this week is books. No surprise there. I always have books.


250 Things You Should Know About Writing by Chuck Wendig

This is not writing advice for the faint of heart. Trust me on this. When something is described as:

… a booze-soaked, profanity-brined, Zen-lacquered look at the craft and art of writing, one list of “25 Things” at a time.

One should not complain when it actually is (looking at you, one-star reviews). I read this book a bit at a time over the past two weeks or so, every morning, while I drank my Gatorade after exercising. Some people read devotionals in the morning. I chose this. Not sure what that says about me. Probably nothing flattering.

Rita Book #3

Finished this one yesterday afternoon while Kyra played with all the cleaning supplies (the mop got married to the broom–I think). Started Book #4 last night.


Wait! I do have something else this week, although it’s not a book or a movie. My mom and I went to see Ragtime at the Park Square Theatre today! It was incredible. The Park Square has really been on fire this season.


Filed under 50/50, Books, Reading, RWA

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

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

News of the bookish variety

So … yeah, as Andrew would say. We got the word that The Geek Girl’s Guide to Cheerleading is a finalist in the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence contest, in the young adult category.

Since I put my home phone (and not my cell) on the contest entry form, the coordinator emailed me to tell us the news. This is maybe just as well, since for a few moments, I forgot how to type. On the phone, I would’ve been all: Dude, no way! (And really, I don’t think you’re supposed to refer to contest coordinators as dude.)

So, when I sent Darcy the news, I asked her for a squee. She saw my squee and raised me a woot.

Anyway, we’re stoked here at Geek Girl central, and check out the other YA finalists:

  • Betraying Season by Marissa Doyle
  • The ABC’s of Kissing Boys by Tina Ferraro
  • Spring Breakup by Stephanie Hale
  • Heartbreak River by Tricia Mills

That’s some fine, fine company to be in. Plus, I first met Tricia when we both were finalists for the Golden Heart waaaay back in 2003. It’s neat that both our debut YA novels are finalists together now.

(Oh, and to my horror, I’ve just done the 2010 – 2003 math. Oy. Apropos to yesterday’s post with Jasper Fforde.)


Filed under Friends, Geek Girl's Guide, Noodlers, Reading & Writing, RWA, YA

Session break

So, I’m sitting in the bar of the Marriott, taking a session break. No, they’re not serving yet, so I’m not actually drinking anything, not even something hot and overpriced from Starbucks.

It’s still the place to be. Up until a few minutes ago, I was sitting across from Chris Keeslar, editor from Dorchester. Mind you, I wasn’t actually speaking to Chris Keeslar, editor from Dorchester. And no doubt there are other wildly famous people sitting all around me and I don’t even know it. That’s sort of how my life works. I will say that my little EeePC is one of the best conversation starters ever. Everyone wants to know what it is.

I was about to go into information overload, so I decided to take a break from non-stop sessions. I attended Trish Milburn and Julie Linker’s on writing YA that was very cool. It turns out that Darcy and I share an editor with the lovely Julie Linker and we chatted for a few minutes after the session.

I had the best pasta for dinner last night–see, I did get out of the hotel. And I found a tea lounge where I plan to splurge on either the classic English tea or a Russian tea. I can’t decide which as of yet. Opinions?

The kids are having a good time with my sister. Get this, she has some foam curlers and guess who had her hair put up in them so it would be curly in the morning. Yep, Miss B. Forget trolleys and Chinatown and the whole cultural experience. Foam rollers will be the highlight of her trip.


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Must. Have. Coffee.

What was more motivating? The opening session speaker or the free coffee.

Pour me into a green and white cup and call me done. I’m so caffeinated, I plan to attend the annual general meeting.

Or will, assuming I can fight my way into a restroom first.

More later.

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