February in Review

There are plenty of things I could say to make excuse for my lack of posting this month, but I won’t do it because that’s all they would be — excuses. The truth is, I haven’t written because I’m just flat out not inspired to do so. And I’m also ashamed of the fact that I’ve written my basic query letter and have yet to send it. Because it terrifies me.

BUT.

I can’t keep doing that. So get ready for March to rock your world. 🙂 First, let’s talk about February:

Books

Marisa de los Santos is one of my favorite contemporary writers ever. If she is anything like her main characters, we would get along swimmingly. They are quirky, and funny, and sarcastic, and know random information that would make them dominate a Trivial Pursuit game. In her third book, “Falling Together,” that is Pen Calloway, who reunites with one of her former best friends, Will, at their college reunion when they both receive an email from the third of their group of musketeers, Cat, who begs them both to be there. The trio had a falling out, the details of which are revealed as the novel progresses, but it’s the getting to know each other again part that’s the most interesting. The best thing about de los Santos’ books are that they never quite go the way you expect. The second best thing is her obvious joy of words. When read aloud, her writing tastes like candy.

falling

Movies

I’m kind of a dude when it comes to movies. I would rather watch something blow up a thousand times than watch people make out in the rain. Therefore “A Good Day to Die Hard,” regardless of how stupid a title, was the one for me on Valentine’s Day. Sadly, the Die Hard magic wasn’t quite there. Happily, Jai Courtney was, and when he headbutted the villain in pure rage, he stole my heart.

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Internet Highlights

Speaking of Valentines, here is Avidly’s list of G-rated moments of swoon. I refuse to think that Laura’s response to Almanzo’s proposal was any different in real life than in “These Happy Golden Years.”

And speaking of Little House, did y’all know that it wasn’t really scarlet fever that made Mary go blind? WHAT???

Deepak Chopra’s 10 keys to happiness. I need to look at these. Often.

A library book returned after 55 years? I would hate to see that late fee.

Sisters. Sisters. There were never such devoted sisters…

The name’s Dahl. Roald Dahl.

Ten things you didn’t know about books you read in high school.

God, Anne Hathaway annoys me even in this behind the scenes at the Oscars slideshow. (To be fair, though, the question was stupid.)

The best part of February

Dianna came to visit from New York! I got to play San Antonio tour guide for a weekend, and while we were at different places I started doing this thing where I took photos of ceilings/things above me. No idea why. But here they are:

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Madhatter’s Tea

The lobby at the office.

The lobby at the office.

Alamo sky

Alamo sky

Menger Hotel

Menger Hotel

Acenar

Acenar

Buckhorn

Buckhorn

San Antonio Museum of Art

San Antonio Museum of Art

Rosario's

Rosario’s

Artisan's Alley

Artisan’s Alley

Coming up in March

It’s my birthday month, so that’s fun. And I’m going to send out queries, I SWEAR.

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Delayed January in Review

Hi guys. Sorry I’ve been MIA for the past couple of weeks. January turned out to be a roller coaster, what with losing Sam and my workload at the newspaper changing quite a bit. I haven’t slept much and wasn’t feeling particularly creative or motivated, hence the blog hiatus. Now things are starting to feel more normal again.

I did write a query letter for “There With You,” but I did not send it to anyone. That will happen in February for sure. I zombied my way through a book club hostessing job (I am told I did not appear to be a zombie, which means my acting skills aren’t half bad), did some hard core pre-spring cleaning (washing curtains = hard core) and started organizing things for my parents’ garage sale in March. So, everything considered, I was somewhat productive. If I was going to a shrink, though — and maybe I should? — I’m pretty sure I’d be told that all of this “productivity” is me trying to distract myself from being sad.

That’s too heavy for this post. Here’s what I managed in January:

Books

Because I am a full-tilt nerd, I was super excited about Jan Reid’s “Let the People In: The Life and Times of Ann Richards.” At times this biography rattled in my hands thanks to all the name-dropping Reid does, having worked with the governor and circulated in the same groups of people. But when that stuff wasn’t redundant, it served a purpose. Ann Richards was a badass. Flawed, yes, but a badass nonetheless. It was hard not to imagine how different the world might be had she won a second term instead of losing to George W. Bush. She is absolutely someone I’d invite to my fantasy dinner party.

reid

“The Testament of Mary” by Colm Toibin is an 80-page novella that I first read about in Entertainment Weekly. In it, Mary, mother of Jesus, recalls the events leading up to her son’s crucifixion and the way her life changes after. This is, of course, a fictional bit of writing. I’m sure that it’s caused a stir, though, since Mary acknowledges that Jesus was conceived with her husband, how she didn’t much care for his friends/future disciples (and how they don’t much care for her, since she’s not telling them the story they want to hear as they write their accounts of what happened) and how she feared her son had gone mad with the idea of power. It’s fascinating. And very sad.

toibin

My BFF Dianna gave me a copy of “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield for Christmas. It’s like a concentrated dose of “The Artist’s Way,” with short, quick, to-the-point advice for breaking through creative blocks. I know I sing the praises of “The Artist’s Way” on this blog a lot, and I stand by it as the motivator for unblocking me so that I could write my book and get this blog going, but it’s definitely a commitment. Pressfield gives all the same advice in 150 pages. If you keep stalling out on “The Artist’s Way,” I highly recommend “The War of Art.”

pressfield

Movies

I had big plans to see as many of the Academy Award nominees as possible, but that sort of fizzled out. I got to “Les Miserables” at the beginning of the month, and it was just wonderful. I saw the stage version last year, and remember tearing up. I left this movie a weepy mess. The ending… gah! I just wanted to go hug the screen.

les mis

Months ago, Dianna and some of my coworkers were raving about “Beasts of the Southern Wild.” I borrowed it from the library to see what all the fuss was about. Man, what a good movie. I was totally riveted, so much so that my dinner got cold because I was so engrossed that I forgot to keep eating. Any tale of finding value in/preserving a culture in the face of adversity is important, but this cast — especially Quvenzhane Wallis — makes “Beasts” all the more powerful.

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Internet Highlights

The British Library has recorded audio of how they believe the pronunciation of Shakespeare’s works sounded at the time they were written. It’s pretty awkward.

I knew P.L. Travers hated what Disney did to “Mary Poppins,” but here are 10 more authors who hated the movie versions of their books.

If classic authors were on Twitter, a hilarious image that originally appeared alongside a New York Times article.

Coming up in February

Sending those queries. Sleeping. A visit from Dianna (yay!), who hasn’t been back to San Antonio since she left 20 years ago. Sleeping.

December in Review

Some of you may have noticed that I haven’t done a heck of a lot of blogging this month. I feel bad, but I also knew it was going to happen: December is crazy times. Y’all understand, what with holidays and all. And in my case there was also the matter of weird work deadlines and trying to take vacation days before I lose them today, etc. (I’d planned to be super productive with those days, too, and I basically just ended up sleeping the whole time. Boo.)

Anyway, I hope everyone had a great whatever-you-celebrate season and are ready to get 2013 started with good vibes. Here’s how I closed out my year:

Books

Not a one. I’m in the middle of reading a biography of Ann Richards by Jan Reid. It was due back at the library yesterday, as a matter of fact, but I’m just going to have to take late fees on this one because I really want to finish it. Sorry, people on the waiting list. I’ll hurry.

Movies

I was super impressed by “Silver Linings Playbook” with Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. What a smartly written film! If y’all haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. The subject matter — a man who suffers from bipolar disorder who is trying to rebuild some kind of life after being released from a mental hospital — sounds heavy and dry, but it’s so heartwarming and funny and totally worth the price of admission.

220px-Silver_Linings_Playbook_Poster

“The Hobbit” was crazy long but I enjoyed it. It wasn’t as exciting to me as any of the LOTR movies (“Two Towers” was my favorite of those), but it was cool to see the only Tolkien book I’ve actually read brought to life. Peter Jackson has a gift for delay. That sounds like a backhanded compliment, and I guess it is: how he managed to only get through 1/3 of the book and yet end up with a movie almost 3 hours long is quite a feat. The back stories/sub stories/lengthy LOTR cameos helped, I’m sure. My biggest complaint? No Legolas. 😦

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Internet Highlights

My score on this Teen Novel Quiz was 11 out of 13. What did you get?

If these 10 steps to overcoming a creative block are accurate, I should be way ahead of the game with all this sleep I’ve  been getting. Seriously, if sleep was a guy, I would totally marry him.

Bookish’s list of internet highlights, which had me with the words “Hogwarts gingercastle.”

I learned these life lessons the good old-fashioned way, but putting them in context with Jane Austen’s writing seems classier.

Celebs who have modeled for book covers! The Babysitter’s Club one is hysterical – like anybody would know that’s who that was.

Normally I’d laugh at people who take things like handbell choirs seriously, but this cover is pretty impressive.

Literary fashion! The dresses made out of actual book pages are artistically amazing, but for actual wear I’d choose The Bell Jar sweater and the Gatsby and Alice in Wonderland tees.

A list of quotes to boost creativity. I’m bookmarking this one.

Coming up in 2013

My long-term goals/resolutions are to go to bed earlier, get back to the gym regularly and, as always, work on my posture. Also I’d like to be more kind to my cuticles. The poor things are tortured mercilessly.

My short-term goals are to try to eat vegan on weekdays (a cleanse from eating nothing but sugar and carbs for a month, or so it feels) and start sending out query letters to lit agents. Alcohol is vegan, right? I’m going to need some to calm my nerves. Oh, and, I really need to clean and organize my apartment.

Before we say goodbye to 2012, I’d just like to give a shout-out to my sister: HAPPY BIRTHDAY NATALIE!! 🙂

See y’all next year.