Monday, November 25, 2013


I cannot believe that it's time again for Liza Weimer's annual Read-a-thon.

Here's the basic idea: Read and give. 

That's it. 

You pledge to donate based on the amount you read during the read-a-thon. You can pick an amount per page ( a penny a page, a dime a page, etc.) or an amount per book (a dollar a book, five dollars a book). 

Then, you spend the weekend of December 6th-8th reading and donate your pledged amount to the charity of your choice. 

It's hosted by Liza Weimer-- sign up at her blog. Liza's readathon was the inspiration for the I Dig Reading Challenge that I host year-round. 

You can tweet about it over the weekend with the hashtag #readathon, and Liza's hosting a twitter party on December 8th from 9-10 EST with prizes, etc. 

Are you planning on participating in the challenge?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

What's up, November?

What's up Wednesday 

What is up, my friends?  It has been much too long. 

The last two months with baby Alice seem at times like the blink of an eye and at other times like a million years of sleeplessness, tiredness, and also sweet moments with the older boys and lots and lots of laughing. I'm completely smitten with this baby and she is thankfully very sweet and likes to sleep. (She also likes to eat every two hours on the dot, around the clock, but that I can handle). 

It was only last fall when at book club (of course book club-- lots of wine was flowing!) I mentioned that my husband and I wanted to have another baby, but didn't think we could afford it. My book club mates, also imbibing, pointed out that if we always waited for things to be "perfect", especially financially, nothing would ever happen. 

Here I am a year later and so happy for that encouragement. Alice has already brought so much fun and joy into our family. She is super and I can't imagine our family without her. 

On to What's Up Wednesday!

 What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme, started by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk, that helps readers and writers touch base with blog friends and let them know what's up. Join by visiting their blogs and signing in on the widget.

What I'm Reading
Nursing at all hours of the night and day, not to mention being couch bound for a couple of weeks due to extreme anemia, really gives you time to get some reading done. 

It has been two months of excellent reading. 

I finished Finnikin of the Rock by the masterful Marchetta. LOVED it. No surprise there. On to the next!

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. Lovely and encouraging book for writers. I heard her first on one of my favorite all-time episodes of This American Life. She is so funny and delightful. 

SHIFT omnibus by Hugh Howey. The sequel to WOOL is every bit as good as the first. This is an indie worth reading.

Crazy River: Exploration and Folly in East Africa by Richard Grant. This travelougue is part history of the region (but fascinatingly written, not dry) and part adventure journal. If took me right back to my trip to Kenya last year. Grant is an excellent writer and his travels are worth exploring. I would recommend this to anyone traveling to East Africa for the first time. 

The Butler by Will Haygood. I haven't seen the movie, but I think I will enjoy it more. The Butler the book was more like a series of magazine articles. I wanted a lot more depth in the subject, which I think the movie provides (though it's usually the opposite!).

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. This book was well-written and really cool in concept, but it wasn't for me. Please understand I'm not disparaging the writing in any way-- this is just a preference thing. In this stage of my life I'm looking for a like-able main character and my favorite books tend to have a redemptive plot line. The music scene Egan depicts over time is pretty rad and the characters are fully realized and quirky (though I hate to use that word because it seems like I'm saying they're "wacky" and they're not-- they are unique and complex). 

Pastoralia by George Saunders. Now this book is wacky. This was a book club pick and I'm glad for the uniqueness of my book club. These short stories were downright off-the-wall, but interesting in their own way. For me, they were saved by the fact of being short stories-- so if I found one excruciating, it was over quickly. The motivational speaker with the analogy of people in your life who are "crapping in your oatmeal" {story: Winky} saved this book, but it was a tough read at times (for me), again because I love a like-able character and a redemptive storyline. These were often short stories about people caught in surreal yet crushing lives, with not a lot of like-ability to go around.  

Still working on A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn and Lies my Teacher Told Me
Uh, these make American Thanksgiving a little hard to stomach, but continue to fascinate. 

I'm also reading The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon and The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan, but as I just downloaded FAULT LINE by the LOVELY and TALENTED Christa Desir, these will have to take a back seat. 

What I'm Writing
I imagine it will surprise no one that the writing has taken a back seat these last few weeks. 

If you recall what I was working on this summer, I was able to complete edits on Mina Takes the Sky before Alice's arrival. I'm still awaiting feedback there. 

I was able to complete the tenure packet-- that was submitted about ten days after Alice's birth. I then went to Hartford for an interview with the committee in October. I think I made sense, considering I was working on no more than two hours of consecutive sleep for six weeks. Now I'm waiting to hear the verdict...

In other writing, I'm taking my trunked post-apocalyptic/dystopia and turning it into a graphic novel acted out by playmobil figures. Just for fun. This is not for commerce. It's not for profit. It's just for me. 
You can see the adventure unravel at my TUMBLR.

Finally, I've been making notes on changes to make to my first manuscript STUNG, and awaiting the time to implement those changes. 

What Inspires Me Right Now
That's simple. 


and this.

P.S.: Here's something for your radar-- the Fourth Annual Holiday #readathon hosted by blogger Liza Weimer will be happening December 6-8th. #Read and #Give.

Put it on your calendar!

Now, What's up with you?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

What's Up Wednesday: baby Alice

This is what's up with me right now!

Alice Katharine
born September 5th
6 pounds, 1 ounce
19 1/2 inches long

The brothers are very excited.
She is very sweet.
I am very tired.

Probably won't do a lot of commenting today... but I will make up for it on subsequent Wednesdays.

Wishing you all the best of life, hope, and joy on this day.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

What's up Wednesday and Ready. Set. Write! Update

I am sorry to have fallen out of the loop these last weeks, friends. I am still very much in the throes of finishing the things I need to finish before the baby arrives, which could be any time in the next month. 

Ahhh, it's overwhelming but by taking a break from blogging I have managed to get a lot done. 

 What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme, started by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk, that helps readers and writers touch base with blog friends and let them know what's up. Join by visiting their blogs and signing in on the widget.

What I'm Reading
Still reading Lies my teacher told me. It's good, but it's not a page turner. I continue to work through it slowly. 

Also started Finnikin of the Rock by the masterful Marchetta, until my husband stole it right from under my nose! He's entranced and is almost done. I will get it back next. 

After seeing a cover story on author Hugh Howey in my college alum magazine and realizing we were in school together around the same time and hung out at the same places  (though I don't remember him), I decided to pick up WOOL. 
Wool is, if you don't know, a much-buzzed indie book that gained an enormous following and is now a huge bestseller. Oh my goodness! It's published serially and at the time I got the first installment for free from Amazon. I read it within an hour. 
I totally understand why people LOVE these books. I then ordered the omnibus (all the serialized bits of the first full book, WOOL). I am telling you, if you haven't read it yet-- do. 
It is a truly compelling story with thorough world building, fascinating characters, beautiful use of language and so much intrigue I can't tell what will happen next. I highly recommend it. 

Cold Hands, Warm Heart by Jill Wolfson. A story about a girl who needs a heart transplant, but really about a great deal more. I don't want to give too much away, but I loved the way the author wove together the stories and lives of so many people. I enjoyed it thoroughly.  

This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen. Not my favorite Dessen of all time, but I enjoyed it. She is a dependable, solid writer who I always enjoy. It's not that I didn't like the book-- it just wasn't my fave by her. I loved the kooky musician boyfriend, but Remy was tough to get behind at times. I think I'm too much of a sucker for a likable lead. But don't get me wrong, it's still Dessen (read: excellent).

The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella. Her madcap characters and the ridiculous situations they get themselves into always make me smile. She also tends to write really charming and swoon-worthy male leads. A good read.

Drop Dead Healthy by AJ Jacobs. In this book Jacobs spends over two years trying out various methods in a quest to become the healthiest man alive. Whether exploring noise pollution or caveman exercise routines, Jacobs' approach to health is interesting and multi-faceted. Jacobs is a genuinely funny writer, and I loved reading about all the health fads... though the take home message seems to be most of them don't work.  

Finally, still working through Goblet of Fire with the boys. Good times.

What I'm Writing/ Ready. Set. Write!
Tenure packet (95% complete). I am editing the whole document, waiting for a few last letters to include and have some final organizing to do... then I hope to turn it in. 
Mina Takes the Sky (100% complete). Sent off for another round of feedback. 

Not even attempting to work on these last two right now. They're not on the back burner. They're not even in the kitchen. 
Thirst (9% complete). 
Stung (12% complete)

Where I was at last report:
Tenure packet (71% complete). I feel like I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. 
Mina Takes the Sky (9% complete)
Thirst (9% complete)
Stung (12% complete)

So, things are where they need to be... but the tenure packet feels at times like it will NEVER be complete. I think this last 5% may drag on for weeks. I'm now in the stage where I'm waiting for input and getting it on any kind of schedule is completely beyond my control. Mental health wise, it's not the greatest feeling, especially with the huge unknown of when the baby might arrive. 

But, I keep telling myself it's not "due" until mid-September, and it will all be sorted out by then. It has to be, no matter when the new baby appears. And I've been taking walks and doing some deep breathing. Let's hope it helps. 

What Inspires Me Right Now
We had an awesome birthday party for the boys this weekend, on the theme of SCIENCE. It was so flipping fun. We did some fun experiments, ate great food, and got to spend time with several friends we don't see enough. At the end of the night James said, "that was the best birthday party EVER!" which made me feel all kinds of wonderful. 

And now--  what's up with you?