July in Review

July wasn’t too shabby. I met with my critique group and got some really good feedback on “There With You,” although the experience sent me into a book-related panic that I’m only now coming out of. That means that August is going to be about two things: 1. Going on the annual family vacation to the beach, and 2. Creating my final draft. More on both of those things in a bit. Let’s see what else I did in July.

Books

The book slump from June ended, I’m sorry to say, with “Fifty Shades of Grey” by luckiest bitch on the planet E.L. James. Oh man, this book is BAD. (See my full rant here.) I borrowed all three and finished them in like a week because there were chunks of text that I barely skimmed. Aside from the fact that the writing is awful, the story itself made me set my lasers from stun to kill. Even most of the stuff that was supposed to be sexy — and there was some sexy stuff in there, I admitย  — made me laugh. As in real-life sexy scenarios, probably not the desired reaction.

“Ella Minnow Pea” by Mark Dunn was this month’s BBCE selection. It’s a charming story about an island that takes pride in being the birthplace of the person who wrote the pangram “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” When the tiles that spell out that sentence at the base of a statue begin to fall, the crazies on the island’s council take that as a sign that everyone should stop using each letter as it crumbles. The book is written as correspondence between island residents, and as letters are lost from the statue, the characters’ writing become increasingly hard to understand. Dunn had a good time playing with words, and I had a good time reading them.

I follow a lot of authors/agents/editors/publishing people on Twitter, and for a while everyone was atwitter (*rimshot*) about “Code Name Verity” by Elizabeth Wein. The first couple of chapters felt murky, but I’m glad I stuck the book out because it’s a heartbreaking tale of true friendship. Maddie, a pilot, and Verity, a spy, are young women who meet and become best friends while serving Great Britain during World War II. Verity is captured, imprisoned and tortured for information. She writes it all within the tale of her and Maddie’s friendship. The last part of the book is told from Maddie’s point of view, which is how we learn how the story ends. A lot of times I find WWII-set stuff gimmicky, but this one could be re-written for any combat or espionage situation and still work. That’s a testament to these characters.

“The Lifeboat” by Charlotte Rogan still has me thinking, days after I finished reading it. Grace is on her honeymoon when the luxury ship she and her new husband are sailing on capsizes and Grace is stranded for three weeks in a lifeboat with 38 other survivors. During those three weeks alliances are formed, mind games are played, intentions are questioned and violence is done. And that’s on top of all the exhaustion, dehydration, starvation and illness. I still don’t know which character, if any, should be trusted. I’m beginning to think that the author’s goal was to bewilder the reader the way the characters were bewildered by their circumstance. Well played, Charlotte Rogan. Well played.

Movies

Not a one in July, y’all. I know! There were a few I wanted to see, too, but it just didn’t happen. “The Dark Knight Rises” is first on the August list for sure.

Internet Highlights

FlippyCat created Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” using dominoes. DOMINOES! My brain would have exploded a thousand times just trying to set it up.

Letters of Note. Go there and read letters to, from or about all kinds of random people. There’s a book coming in November, too. Yay!

A graphic artist friend shared this post with videos of people creating hand-lettered chalk signs. Way cooler than the average lunch specials board.

Widely-read or well-read? I’d like to think I’m both, but if I’m being honest it’s probably the first.

People make lists because it feels like an accomplishment without actually being one. Here’s a brief history of how they came to be.

If Aaron Sorkin had written “Twilight.” This made me laugh. A lot.

This is the truest visual example of the writing process ever. “The Idea…” and “nitpicking” are spot on.

Creativity as a force of good — college students hope to use social media to help end hunger.

It turns out frustration is an important part of the creative process. So, I guess I’m right on target. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I have read only one of Huffington Post’s nine books that make you undateable. So, I guess I’m doing something else wrong. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Jenny Volvovski creates a new book cover for every book she reads. Awesome! “The History of Love” one is brilliant.

Coming up in August

I’m going to the beach and I’m going to get the final draft of “There With You” ready to go. That also means it’s time to start working on query letters, a synopsis and a pitch. (Those things might freak me out more than writing the book did.) Oh, and I’m still doing “The Artist’s Way,” too. So, I guess that’s more than two things. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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