November in Review

I hope everyone had a fabulous Thanksgiving. I sure did. I was able to take the majority of that week off from work (yay for vacation days that have to be used up by the end of the year). While I spent a good amount of time sleeping, I also… drumroll, please… FINISHED THE FINAL EDITS OF THE BOOK!

*pause for wild applause*

I’ve also started researching agents to query and am mentally drafting that letter. From some of the things I’ve seen on Twitter, a lot of agents take a break in December so I have plenty of time to get everything ready for January, which is when I’ll be blitzing queries every six weeks or so.

Meanwhile, here’s what else I did in November:

Books

“Alys, Always” was recommended by a friend. It’s by first-time author Harriet Lane, who is also a journalist (an encouraging combo, I think). The main character, Frances, is driving along one night and sees an overturned car in the road. She calls for help and speaks to the woman in the car until help arrives. Afterward, Frances learns that the woman was (yeah, she doesn’t make it) the wife of a famous author whom Frances admires. Long story short, Frances becomes close with the family and manipulates her way into the author’s life, sort of assuming the identity of the wife who died. It’s unsettling to think of how calculating people can be. Frances isn’t evil or anything, but still… creepy.

On a more hilarious note, “How To Be a Woman” by Caitlin Moran is one of the best things I’ve read in ages. I first read about Caitlin and her book in a magazine profile that described her as the British Tina Fey (she’s also a journalist/author combo – yay!) I put the book on hold at the library immediately. And now that I’ve read it, I’ll say that Caitlin’s book is much funnier than “Bossypants,” and also more relevant. I love Tina Fey, but Caitlin’s points about women and feminism were so spot on that I want every woman to own a copy. In fact, I will buy my own if I get some Christmas money.

While I was in Rome I saw a lot of art and architecture by Bernini, who I didn’t know anything about before the trip. I checked out a biography, “Bernini: His Life and His Rome” by Franco Mormando. I had to re-check it out twice because oh man is this book dry. It’s really interesting, too, but super dense. I had to stop reading and break it up with some fun stuff (see the two titles above). The best part about reading this biography was knowing exactly where in Rome the author is talking about because I’d been there, and which pieces he was talking about because I’d seen them. 🙂

Movies

The only one I made it to this month was “Breaking Dawn Part II.” For a long time people were talking about the twist in the movie. I knew it had something to do with the battle that was shown in the trailer because that doesn’t happen in the book. I told a friend, “I’m going to be so annoyed if it’s all in Bella’s imagination.” Well, I called it. Sort of. The battle is a vision of Alice’s, which makes sense in the mythology of the story and actually justifies that the book builds up to nothing more than an epic conversation. I think if Stephenie Meyer had explained this better in the novel that part wouldn’t have been so annoying. Anyway, the movie was pretty good and it was nice to see everyone’s final send-off at the end. I wasn’t sad about the series being over. Unlike for Harry Potter, which wrecked me, for this one I was just like, “adios.”

Internet Highlights

In case you didn’t know, I was a dancer for 20 years. This video showing the 100 greatest dance scenes in movies was a treat, though I argue that some are missing.

Sigh. Britney Spears might publish a novel, y’all.

This dude made a hobbit hole out of balloons! The balloon giraffe you got at the carnival looks way lame right now, doesn’t it?

The Beatles. Shakespeare. The Beatles performing Shakespeare. Yes, please.

Forget money. I want an invisibility cloak for Christmas.

A love letter to a thesaurus. I mean, I love mine, but I’m not IN love with it.

This guy paints dolls/action figures to actually look like the actors they’re supposed to be. Also, WHAT?!?! There are Salvatore dolls?? I’m so annoyed that I’m too old to have those.

A long but accurate and hilarious comic that more or less sums up my life as a writer.

I would twirl in these awesome libraries the way Belle twirls when she sees the library in Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.”

And the third most popular childhood dream job is… MINE!

This guy wins Dad of the Year for hacking into his daughter’s video game to change the hero to a heroine.

According to this flow chart, I am not a hipster. (I didn’t need the chart to know that, though.)

This letter is so spot on. Sometimes a girl just needs to read.

The worst sex scenes in literature this year. Hilarious!

I wish a bartender here would make me some literary drinks.

Seven reasons why adults read YA. I’m counting on this, you guys.

Coming up in December

As I said, it’s all about agent research and query letters. Oh, and there’s a little thing called Christmas. I’m going to do my very best to blog consistently as that holiday approaches, but y’all know how it is this time of year — crazy! I hope everyone has a wonderful month and thanks, as always, for reading.

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Tree of Thanks Project

As I’ve mentioned before, my family is a pretty creative bunch. We’re also pretty big on family activities. Have y’all ever seen that movie “Dan in Real Life” with Steve Carell? His whole family is on a vacation together at the beach and they have a game night, and a talent show night, and they all work out together in the front yard. After my friend and I saw that movie, she said, “Yeah, right, whose family is really like that?”

Me: “Umm… mine.”

It’s true. When my family goes to the beach we’re like Dan’s family on crack. Yoga, dancing, boogie board races, drawing mandalas, card games, board games and new this year was my nephew’s art show. Not every single person participates in every single thing, but the things all happen and everyone is in on at least a few of them.

Another thing we do is the Tree of Thanks. My aunt Laila started it a few years ago when we had Thanksgiving at her house. There was this cool branch arrangement by her front door that looked like a big tree, and she made a bunch of tags so that everyone could write what they were thankful for and then tie them onto the tree. The next year we had Thanksgiving at my grandma’s house, but I wanted to keep the Tree of Thanks going, so I improvised.

I bought a little bunch of branches from the floral department at the grocery store and spray-painted them a shiny bronze. (Because it’s fancy.) I put them in a vase filled with coffee beans (because it’s fun) and added a shiny bow (because it’s pretty). The arrangement sits on top of my fridge 364 days out of the year. On Thanksgiving, I dust it off and take it to Grandma’s, where it serves as a little centerpiece and our Tree of Thanks. 🙂

The binder where all the tags are saved.

A collection of thanks.

Nephew tying his tag. Also, a giant pumpkin pie.

It’s back on top of the fridge now. The little spider that lives in my kitchen is probably excited to have it back. 🙂