Wednesday, January 16, 2008


I'm old.

Turning 39 last week was my first clue.

My second clue was much more traumatic.

My 14-year-old went to his first church dance. And he, remarkably, danced. Six times. And he, even more remarkably, asked some of those girls himself.

He's telling me this at 11:30 Saturday night, lulling me into thinking all is well, and then he hits me with the trauma: "The last girl who asked me to dance was 17."

Ack! I guess that's what happens when your 14-year-old son is 5' 10".

It also happens when you're old.


Tuesday, January 15, 2008


A quiz for women, unless the men don't mind being identified with one of her women characters.



As Marianne's older sister, Elinor lives at the other end of the emotional spectrum. She rarely reveals her intense feelings and is more concerned with being honest and loyal than having what she deserves. Even though her intentions are pure, she sets herself up for loss by constantly placing other people before her own needs. Overall, Elinor is gentle and rational but is just as capable of radical emotions (despite her withholding them) as her sister.

Elinor Dashwood 75%

Jane Bennet 72%

Elizabeth Bennet 69%

Marianne Dashwood 66%

Emma Woodhouse 41%

Charlotte Lucas 28%

Lady Catherine 13%

I'm not sure how I feel about this. Doesn't every girl want to be Elizabeth Bennett? And it doesn't appear that all of her characters are possibilities, unless this quiz is honestly telling me that I have more of Lady Catherine de Burgh in me than Anne Elliott or Catherine Morland or Fanny Price. I'm not sure I like that implication.

And really? I'm more Jane Bennett than Lizzy? Sigh. I guess that means I'm hopelessly good.

I suppose there are worse things to be.

Monday, January 14, 2008


I've been meaning to post this for a while, but it came the day that I ended up taking Jacob to the emergency room and I've been a bit scattered since then :)

I sent the short story of Annest to the Black Gate magazine months and months ago, so I wasn't sure what the SASE in my mailbox was. Sure enough, a rejection, but a hopeful one. Beneath the form part, I got a written note from the editor, John O'Neill:

First, I hope you can forgive me for holding this so long. Thanks for your extraordinary patience. [Me: not hard to be patient when you've completely forgotten!]
Almost. This is a magnificent tale--fast-pace, splendidly written, with terrific characters and a vivid setting. But it took just a bit longer to get underway than a handful of others we're considering.
We won't re-open to submissions until we fix our response times. But when we do, I really hope you'll try us again.

This was what I needed to give me confidence in Annest and to spur me forward to rewriting now that I've finished the first draft.

Also, I've got a story in mind to write for them. I'll probably enter it in Writers of the Future first, since I can't submit to Black Gate for at least a few months. But it's nice to go into a new story knowing that someone (who is neither my relation or my friend) wants to read it.

Right now, I'm taking all the good news I can get.

Monday, January 07, 2008


I have posted a new link at the top of my list. I wish I hadn't.

"Jacob's Journey" is my new blog, set up to tell the story of my 11-year-old son who was diagnosed 5 days ago with Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancerous tumor in his left cheek.

I'll try to keep this blog running as well, but I wanted to separate Jake's story from work.

If anyone deserves his own story, it's my son.
December Reads

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF LORD ERROL/Errol Trzebinski/B: Account of the "Happy Valley" murder of Joss Hay in Kenya during WWII. Joss was a longtime settler and a member of the infamous Happy Valley set whose morals didn't always square with the more conservative settlers. The husband of Joss's mistress at the time of his death was tried and acquitted for the murder, but committed suicide shortly after. The author speculates that the murder was actually carried out by the British Secret Service.

ANGLE OF REPOSE/Wallace Stegner/A: My immediate reaction upon finishing this Pulitzer Prize winning novel was, "I need someone to talk to about it!" It moves back and forth in time, as a crippled historian in the early 1970s writes about his grandmother's life on the western frontier in the late 1800s. I'd never have imagined I'd devour a novel set in mining camps and rustic cabins, but the characters are compelling as they move toward a devastating event that I didn't see coming.

THE INFERNO/Dante Aligheri/B: The one good thing I could say about THE DANTE CLUB from a couple months ago is that it inspired me to read my college copy of THE INFERNO. I enjoyed it, as much as one can enjoy a long poem set in the descending circles of hell and featuring men buried headfirst in the ground and men frozen up their necks in water. Still, now I can say I've read it. And I now understood many more allusions found in modern literature.

ARIEL/Sylvia Plath/A-: Plath's last collection of poems before her suicide. Some I loved, some I tolerated, and some I just plain didn't get. But I enjoyed stretching my mind--it's been a long time since I've read poetry.

ONE TATTERED ANGEL/Blaine Yorgason/B: Short non-fiction account of the LDS author's youngest daughter, adopted with multipled problems and diagnosed as having no brain, only a brain stem. They were told she would only live a few weeks and that she would never be capable of emotion. She lived for 8 years and showed many times over her capacity for feeling and her effect on the lives of others.

BECOMING JANE AUSTEN/John Spence/A-: I give it the minus only because I would have liked a final chapter telling me what happened to Jane's family members afer her death. But overall, a good biography of Jane that puts her in the context of her time and her upbringing. If you love her novels, this is a good biography.

PUCCINI'S GHOSTS/Morag Joss/A: A stand-alone that alternates chapters between the present-day, when Lila has come home to bury her father, and the summer more than thirty years before when everything fell apart. Using an unexpected windfall to mount a local production of Puccini's TURANDOT, Lila's mother, father, and uncle are set on a collision course with a disaster fueled by Lila's adolescent imagination. Very powerful.

LOST BOYS/Orson Scott Card/A+: It was a toss-up whether to give this an A+ or an F. The Fletcher family moves across country in the 1980s following a job for Step. But their oldest son, Stevie, doesn't adjust well. He begins playing with a group of imaginary friends who share the names of little boys who have disappeared in the area in the last two years. Meticulously plotted and incredibly woven, this book leads to an ending that shocked me to my core, had me sobbing in bed next to my husband . . . and that couldn't have been written any other way.

THE PALE BLUE EYE/Louis Bayard/A-: A cadet is found dead at West Point Academy in the early 1800s. Then his heart is carved out of his chest. The commandant calls in a retired NY police officer to investigate, hoping to keep the publicity to a minimum. But soon another cadet is murdered and the police officer finds himself working with West Point private Edgar Allan Poe. I thought I had it all figured out, and then come the final chapters. Though I normally despise characters who withhold information, in this case I didn't mind it so much, perhaps because of the powerful story.

MANIAC MAGEE/Jerry Spinelli/B+: Newbery award winner about an orphaned boy who runs away from his aunt and uncle and becomes a legend in a town divided by color. A quick but good read that I would recommend for kids.

THE MOONSPINNERS/Mary Stewart/B: I'm on a Steward kick at the moment. She wrote in the 60s and 70s, romantic suspense novels that don't overtax my brain. This one involves the island of Crete, a wounded man, a missing boy, and a woman who can't stay out of the drama she stumbled into.
2007 Books Read, Finished, and often Enjoyed

Number of books read in 2007: 131

Lowest number read in one month: 6 (February)

Highest number read in one month: 17 (June)

Number of mysteries read: 60

Number of YA books read: 19

Number of non-fiction books read: 31

I'm not quite sure what category the other 21 books were in. I know there were fantasy, and some short story collections, and a horror book or two. I'm just going to assume they fit my numbers.

Best books of the year for me?

The hands-down best single book that wasn't Harry Potter: THE WELL OF SHADES by Juliet Marillier. The third in the Bridei Chronicles, my husband got me this for Christmas last year, four months before it was released in the U.S. He has a work friend in Australia who bought it and shipped it to him for my gift. It was well worth the effort.

The hands-down best new series which I devoured in just a few weeks: The 6-book LYMOND CHRONICLES by Dorothy Dunnett. Set in the mid-16th century, before Elizabeth I came to the throne, these books ranged from England to France to Tripoli to Constantinople to Russia to Scotland. Francis Crawford of Lymond is an enigmatic, fascinating, frustrating character that I never got tired of reading about. A must read for fans of historical fiction.

Best new author: Stephenie Meyer and her TWILIGHT series. Though the later two books aren't quite as tightly written as the first, this is an author who grabbed me from page one and didn't let go until I was finished.

Best mystery: THE THIRTEENTH TALE by Diane Setterfield. A wonderfully gothic contemporary novel about a dying novelist and the young woman she chooses to write her biography.

Best literary fiction: THE KITE RUNNER by Khaled Hosseini. Covers politics, revolution, love and marriage, friendship and betrayal, secrets and lies. Stunningly powerful story.

Best non-fiction: HONEYMOON IN PURDAH by Alison Wearing. A female journalist takes her gay roommate and a fake marriage certificate and tours Iran by bus for weeks. Funny and moving, it gives a voice to the people of Iran and reminds the reader how complicated history and politics are.

And, of course, the Hands Down Best Series-Ending Book Ever Written In The History Of The World: HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS by JK Rowling. I'm aware that I never posted my reactions to this novel. Let this suffice: although I guessed correctly on the essentials, she surprised me a dozen times over. For the most-anticipated novel ever, I give her full credit for those surprises. It might not have been exactly the book I would have written, but I was fully and completely satisfied.

And I've just realized that I never posted my December reads. Guess I'll go do that now.