In Honor of the Day

In Honor of the Day

“Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends.

“When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love.

If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaking suspicion… love, actually, is all around.”

Love Actually by Richard Curtis (2003)

Okay, that wasn’t meant to be a two-month break…

One of the big problems of getting back into blogging after major family stuff is that sometimes the family stuff rears its head again and you have to take time away.

Things that happened while I was off not blogging:

  • Got sick, husband got sick, got better, caught husband’s cold and got sick again.
  • Work was insane.
  • Acquired a new iPad and gave the first one to my husband, who can now happily play Angry Birds without stealing mine.
  • Actually did something I’ve been wanting to do for a few years, went down to the Kodak Theatre the day before the Oscars and took pictures. (J

I Appear to Have Lost My Kindle

I haven’t lost it lost it; the Kindle is still sitting on the dining table, ready for the day. No, what’s happened is my husband has taken it over.

I bought the Kindle last November, one of the lucky ones to get the previous generation model Amazon had on deep discount for Black Friday. My thought was to use it as my secondary device, something to keep by my bed while my iPad got carted around on a regular basis and then could get plugged in at night to recharge. I also figured that the husband could use it from time to time during the day and we bought him two books to read on it.

It’s now his Kindle. He is reading it constantly, loves being able to change font sizes and that his place is automatically saved. He wants more book and I’m back to using my iPad as my reader.

This is why digital books are making inroads; it’s eleven at night and we find a book, so can get it downloaded instantly (or the sample to see if it’s something we’re interested in). If you’re feeling tired, the font can be bigger so your eyes don’t have to work so hard. And my husband, who is absolutely not a gadget person, loves it. Technology is easy to sell to those who adore it; when you start selling to people who’s first instinct is not to reach for the gadget, that’s when you’ve definitely hit the broad market.

Ugh

While the rest of the country has been digging itself out from under snow drifts, we’ve been having sudden spring-like weather here in Los Angeles, coupled with some fierce winds. I’m not saying that to make y’all envious; lots of things are suddenly blooming, the wind is kicking pollen and dust into the air — and I’ve got the makings of a sinus migraine.

Doesn’t help that I’m worried about an on-line friend who’s trying to dig out of an abusive relationship and is trying ot move her about-to-be ex out of her place today — and had trouble getting to sleep, so I stayed up too late finishing a book that I enjoyed, but which left me sad.

Ever have one of those days when you’d love nothing more than slide back under the covers but work and the world beckons?

2011 TBR Challenge: January — “Between the CEO’s Sheets” by Charlene Sands

2011 TBR Challenge: January — “Between the CEO’s Sheets” by Charlene Sands

Title: Between the CEO’s Sheets
Author: Charlene Sands
Publisher: Silhouette Romance
Publishing Date: June 2007, #1805 in the Silhouette Desire line
Back Cover Tag: Boardroom, Bedroom…or Both?

This one has been hanging around the TBR pile for a while, and it was honestly the first category I picked up after accepting the challenge. If truth be told, I picked up the cat to see what he’d flopped on, discovered he’d knocked some books down and there it was.

I used to read a tremendous number of categories, but that’s decreased in recent years and a big reason is the lower page count. In a short story/novella, you have to stay closely focused on your main characters due to the low word count; in a full length book, you have room to develop more complicated themes. The length of this book seems neither fish nor fowl, because there are some tantalizing hints at deeper issues and character backgrounds, yet there really isn’t room to explore it. The other problem seems a common one with categories: I couldn’t shake the feeling I’d come in on the middle chapter. This wasn’t a branded theme book, but the hero, Wade Beaumont has a brother, and there are various other characters who are mentioned or appear, that feel as if they have their own story. (This isn’t just in cateogries; there are some historicals that when I see the hero has five brothers, seven cousins, and three sisters, I know the author’s going for a series and back away quickly.)

The basics: Gina Grady finds herself in a bind, needs a job that will pay decently, so appeals to her childhood friend Sam Beaumont for a job with Triple B, the family business. Only, it’s not Sam but his younger brother Wade she has to deal with, whom she slept with nine years before, only to leave the next day when she learned another girl was claiming he was the father of her baby. Wade hires her because he wants to find out what happened nine years ago and he still wants her, even if he keeps telling himself it’s just lust. Stuff happens, there is another misunderstanding, the misunderstandings are resolved (including the ones from nine years ago), and we fade out.

If the above makes it sound like I didn’t enjoy the book or was bored, you’d be wrong. I did enjoy the book — or most of it, anyway. The pacing is excellent and the writing is crisp. Plus, much of the action takes place on Catalina, which means that while Gina and Wade aren’t exactly in a locked room, they’re within close confines because Avalon, the island’s only incorporated city, isn’t that big. (The entire island has a permanent population of under 5,000.) They can’t get away from one another easily. But it’s also a story that would have been better served by either a longer word count (expanding the back story, a filled out denouement of the whole thing with the girl who told Gina Wade was the father of her baby), or a shorter one (dropping a few elements, such as Wade seeing Gina with a competitor and misunderstanding the situation). I’m going to dig around the massive TBR bin where the categories live and see if I have anything else by Charlene Sands, but I’m not certain I’m ready to go diving back into categories big time at this point.

It can move fast sometimes

A week and a half ago, the husband and I looked at a car our mechanic was offering to sell us. Now, a good mechanic is like gold and I trust his word when he says it’s a good buy for us. He’s known us for some time, works with us if we have a major repair and has been urging us for a while to consider replacing our junker. We loved what he showed us, but weren’t going to be seduced by the first vehicle we drove. Went out did our due diligence, visited dealers, were annoyed by salesmen, winced at the prices and decided the rather sizable difference between the cheapest car we looked at on a dealer’s lot and our mechanics car could a) pay for a lot of repairs and b) pay for vacations and things like that.

Yesterday, we handed over the check and today the husband is getting the registration done at AAA. We are now the proud owners of a 1986 Mercedes 420SEL with only one previous owner (we’re not counting our mechanic since he fixed it up and didn’t use it for driving).

The chrome is genuine chrome, not a thin layer over plastic, it passed its smog test as proudly as any new from the factory model could, we have a new radio, leather seats and leg and head room. We have a big trunk that could fit just about everything we need. By the way, the shine you see in the pictures? That’s without having it waxed and detailed.

We could have gone newer, we could have gone for something that had more “economy” but our hearts ruled our heads in this instant. We sat in the Hondas and the Toyotas and they were transport, nothing more. This car seduced us with its luxury and the way it cruises along the highway. This isn’t a car just for running to the grocery store; this is a car to head out along Pacific Coast Highway and see the wonders of the coast. We’re going to spend more money on this car than the last one, I know. One of the enthusiast websites said, “These aren’t transports; these are hobbies and passions.”

Sometimes, it’s best to let yourself be seduced.

In honor of the day

Since it’s Martin Luther King Day here in the US, I thought I’d share a photo I took two years ago when I was in London. I was running about doing the usual tourist thing and paid a visit to Westminster Abbey since I’d just managed a rather successful visit to the archives of Parliament. (I was researching a private act from the 16th century and got to see the act itself, with Henry’s signature. I also have a very lovely facsimile courtesy of the folks in the archive who were most gracious and helpful.)

Over the West Entrance of the abbey, the one used for weddings and funerals, there are ten niches that were clearly designed for statues when the facade was built in the 15th century, though the niches themselves were never filled. Once restoration work on the western towers was complete in 1995, the decision was made to have statues created honoring 20th Century martyrs from around the world. Here’s a full shot of the facade with all then statues.

I love how the modern statues maintain the medieval styling, yet feel contemporary. The fith niche, just to the left of center is of Martin Luther King.

It wasn’t until I was actually standing before the doors of the West Entrance (having just visited the gift shop) that I realized the statues were there. You can imagine my surprise when I discovered Dr. King among them and it wasn’t until I ducked back into the gift shop to ask that I learned why they were there. It was not uncommon for medieval churches to include to statues of the Nine Worthies, figures from history and mythology that were held up as examples of virtue. Most likely something like this was behind the original intent of the niches, even if it took some 600 years to actually fill them.

Sunday Roundup

Status
100 words/100 days — I’ve managed 46 days. A bunch of it is just noodling, but when I started this on December 1, it was so hard to get those words out. I’d be counting every one, avoid the use of contractions, anything to get to that count. I was so out of practice with writing that it literally hurt to do so. Now, I can spew out 100 words in a few minutes. The next step, obviously, is to turn that spewing into something that’s actually readable for people besides myself.

Knitting — I am finally about to join the sleeves of my jacket to the rest of the body. Woo hoo! I might actually finish and get to wear this thing before spring arrives.

Books — I will admit to not doing as much reading as I had hoped this past week. Do have a book for the TBR Challenge, but need to get moving on some others. Definitely need to finish The Attenbury Emeralds, which is Jill Paton Walsh’s latest continuation of Dorothy Sayer’s Lord Peter and Harriet Vane.

# # #

Did keep up with the blogs this week, though I didn’t do any responding and found a number of cool links. The one that made me happy today is news ITV is planning a Downton Abbey Christmas Special. If you are not watching Downton Abbey on Masterpiece Theatre, you’re missing a real treat. Austen it ain’t, but it’s marvelously entertaining soap about an Edwardian household shortly before World War I. The series did enormously huge numbers in the UK, so it isn’t really surprising a Christmas special would be in the offing. Christmas specials are big deals in the UK, so much so that ITV and the BBC actually take turns as to where Eastenders and Coronation Street will go on Christmas Day so they don’t conflict — then they play chicken over the slot for Doctor Who and whatever ITV puts up against that. But more Downton! And more Sherlock to come as well, another show you should be watching. (This mention also gives me an excuse to use one of my Sherlock icons.)

# # #

In the arena of “writer beware,” read through this Smart Bitches post on a contest being held by FirstOne, a new digital publisher. Also, scroll through the comments for a number of interesting links. In short FirstOne is holding a contest with a large entry fee (you can buy a Kindle for less) and some rather worrisome fine print down at the bottom of the rules:

All submissions become sole property of Sponsor and will not be acknowledged or returned. By submitting an entry, all entrants grant Sponsor the absolute and unconditional right and authority to copy, edit, publish, promote, broadcast, or otherwise use, in whole or in part, their entries, in perpetuity, in any manner without further permission, notice or compensation.

Uh, no. I’m not paying someone money and handing them the rights to my work in perpetuity. And, yes, that is the wording on the website as of January 15, 8:38 PM Pacific Time.

# # #

I’m taking a Time Management Class for Writers at the moment that’s being taught by Kitty Bucholtz, so that’s much on my mind. Since it’s the first of the year, time management and goal setting seem to be on a number of folks’ minds. Shonna Slayton is doing a three part series on business plans for writers, while Kelsey Browning is is starting a series on her experience with a life coach. For Beth Ciotta, it was a week to hit a speed bump and realize we can’t do it all. At least, not all the time.

# # #

Finally, something glorious to close with. Nancy Smith, the community liaison for the Office of Letters and Lights (the folks behind NaNoWriMo spent her holiday break in Argentina, where she visited El Ateno, an old theatre that’s been turned into a bookstore. This is truly a treat and a great re-purposing of a building while retaining the original character.

Defying Gravity

It’s the start of a long weekend and I’m feeling curiously jubilant. Maybe because I’m starting a class tomorrow that I’m looking forward to. Maybe because I feel at this moment as if threads are starting to come together, like I’m waking up after a long sleep.

Whatever the reason, the song that keeps popping up on my iTunes at the moment is “Defying Gravity” from Wicked, sung by Idina Menzel as Elphaba and Kristen Chenoweth as Glinda. It is the first act closer, the moment when Elphaba makes the choice that changes the course of her future. Then, a friend linked to the following video, done by y_fish on LiveJournal for the women of the Serenity.

Maybe it really is time to trust my instincts, close my eyes and leap. After all I won’t know until I try.