Monday, May 31, 2010

Pretty Little Liars

I started reading the Pretty Little Liars series by Sara Shepard over the weekend. Yeah, I'm probably way behind the times since there's a ridiculous number of books in the series out and clearly I should've started reading it a long time ago. I always saw it in the bookstore and really liked the covers but for some unknown reason never bought it.

I read the first one in about a day and I'm now on the second. And damn, does this woman know how to write a mystery! I have no idea who the mysterious "A" is terrorizing the main characters, and I'm so tempted to Google it and ruin the suspense, but I'm determined to read all the books in order and not cheat.

And, I just saw to my surprise it's about to be a t.v. show on ABC family starting in a few days! I hope the show is as good as the books, it looks like it sticks pretty close to the books but you never know, they destroyed Gossip Girl in my opinion. I better hurry up and get through the series, which with the way I'm racing through them it won't be a problem!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

A grown up reading survey

I saw this survey on Lindsay (a.k.a. Isabella)'s blog ( and it totally reminded me of the surveys I used to post constantly on my Myspace when I was 16. This one is much more sophisticated and cool so I had to do it:

Do you snack while you read? If so, favourite reading snack:
I read while doing everything, so sometimes reading and eating coincide. Kindle has simplified the process brilliantly.

What is your favourite drink while reading?

Water. Or soda if I'm being bad

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you?

I would never write in my books. Well, unless someone was asking me to sign it (here's hoping...)

How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears? Laying the book flat open?
Neither. I never use bookmarks or fold the pages. I always just remember what page I'm on or Kindle remembers for me.

Fiction, non-fiction, or both?

Mostly fiction, but I do like historical non-fiction about crazy royalty

Are you a person who tends to read to the end of a chapter, or can you stop anywhere?

I read as much as I can at any given time, but I can stop anywhere usually. Unless it's an especially entertaining scene

Are you the type of person to throw a book across the room or on the floor if the author irritates you?

Nah, I just roll my eyes repeatedly.

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop and look it up right away?

Nope. Context clues.

What are you currently reading?

She's So Dead to Us by Kieran Scott.

What is the last book you bought?

See above.

Are you the type of person that reads one book at a time, or can you read more than one?
I tend to read one at a time.

Do you have a favourite time/place to read?

I would read all day, every day, if I could.

Do you prefer series books or stand alones?

I really really really love series. I read a lot of them. Mostly I read YA series and stand alone romance/historical fiction/etc.

Is there a specific book or author you find yourself recommending over and over?

Kieran Scott/Kate Brian, Nora Roberts, Phillippa Gregory, to name a few.

How do you organise your books? (by genre, title, author's last name, etc.)
I try to keep series together, and other than that by size so that they look nice on my book shelves. Usually it ends up that the hard cover historicals end up together and the little paperback romances together.

Want to play? Feel free to take the questions and post on your blog, leave me a link here, then check out Storywings and post your answers there as well.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Put. Down. The. Phone. NOW!

I wish the iPhone had never been invented. There. I said it. I HATE the iPhone. It has ruined my life.

I'm exaggerating, of course. As a writer, it's my right. But I do hate the iPhone, and actually smart phones in general. Everyone I know with an iPhone CANNOT put it down. Step away, people! You are so rude and annoying and ridiculous. I'm trying to have a conversation with you. I'm not sure what you're doing that you can't stop, maybe playing Farmville or Shazaming a song or texting someone far more interesting, but humor me. Pretend to pay attention to what I'm saying to you.

Yes, I understand that iPhones are cool and flashy and fun to play with. But how much good are they doing? How much of your life are you missing because you are constantly using your phone? Pretty soon spoken communication will be non-existent. We'll all just stand next to each other and text. Already no one knows how to spell because their iPhones auto-correct. Phones won't even be capable of making calls. And you won't be able to look away from your phone for even a second. I wonder how we'll drive?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

But Glamour said I could sleep around!


I have to admit, I have a guilty pleasure. It happens every month. In my mailbox. At the grocery store. I'm helpless. I try to stop myself, tell myself it's not worth it. But eventually, I give in.

Magazines. Marie Claire and Good Housekeeping, I have subscriptions to. Glamour, Cosmo, and Real Simple I more often than not break down and buy at the store. Sometimes even US weekly or People sneak into groceries, seemingly on their own. Now, more often than not I get value out of these magazines. Interesting articles, tips, recipes, I actually rip out and keep in a notebook, and I do use them.

This weekend was no different. Knowing I was going to be spending some time hanging out at home, I bought Cosmo and Glamour. Now, I can only read the same sex tips so many times before I want to tear my hair out (really, Cosmo. A. Don't tell me that guys said these things. I know guys don't talk like that. B. Come up with some new ones already) but sometimes there are genuinely interesting articles. Not this time. Two articles in particular actually succeeded in disgusting me.
In Glamour, the article was entitled "How to find love in a world of hookups". The basic gist is that women spend their 20's having casual sex in college and continue to do so post-grad and don't actually know how to date.

"Kelly finds herself doing exactly what we did as undergrads: going out with friends, letting loose, and hooking up with cute men she meets at bars. But at 29, Kelly wonders "Am I too old for this? Should I be dating in a more grown up way?"

"No one dates," says Samantha, 25. "It's simply 'Who are you hooking up with?'" Basically, we're all on an extended spring break. Arguably in many ways, this is great for women. ("I'm having fun--and lots of it!" stresses Kelly). Women today have longer to explore their options....With the old rules gone "nice girls don't" and "sleep with him after the third date", the good news is that we have the freedom to make our own. But the bad news is the longer you stay on spring break, the harder it can be to return to the real world. So how do you go from making out in bars to meeting the love of your life?"

The answers were "be clear on where you stand", "talk about what it meant" and "don't forget your wants/needs/dreams". Basically, the article went on to say keep hooking up casually and hope that one of them turns into a relationship.

Quote: "For Samantha, casual hooking up is fine for now. "I like to go out, get a few drinks, and have fun as much as any other self-respecting girl my age," she says. But she does hope that it will lead to something more, like it did for Ellen, 25. Ellen met Carl at a party, they got tipsy and ended up making out on the dance floor. Afterward, he came back to her apartment, where Ellen realized she'd changed her mind about having sex. Still, he spent the night...spooning her. "Who knew this frat boy was such a gentleman?" she says. Three and half years later, they are very much together and very much in love."

So...I'm supposed to believe that I can never make a guy take me out on dates or get to know me, sleep with him, and he'll somehow decide to take me seriously and date me long-term? I can continue moving from guy to guy, never changing my behavior, and still meet the love of my life? No wonder women are so screwed up if this is the advice they are getting. I'm sorry, ladies, but it's time to wake up. This is not true empowerment. This is not self-respecting. This is not healthy, or fun, or safe.

I hate how accepting many girls my age are of the "hooking up" expectation. It's your choice. The girl in this article says "No one dates." But you don't have to live that way. If women decided they weren't going to have casual relationships, that they would go back to the old "rules" where a guy had to take you out, get to know you, make some sort of commitment to you before you would do anything physical with him, guess what? That's exactly what guys would do. And they would respect you more for it. I know this for. a. fact. I know two types of girls. The ones who go on several dates, don't have sex until months in and get into serious relationships. And the girls who give it up after two days of "hanging out" and then are surprised when the guy stops returning calls. My mother, a very wise lady, started telling me when I was about 12: "Guys like the chase". And it's true. Guys don't want it to be easy. They don't want the future possible mother of the children to be someone who fell into bed with any guy who winked at her at a bar. They don't want to think that 100 other guys can say they know what their wife is like in bed.

It's time for women to wise up. You hold the power, you hold the control. You don't have to give it away so easily. Be honest about what you want. There is no shame in wanting a solid relationship with a guy who treats you well. You deserve that. Don't sell yourself short.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Are you my hero?

There are numerous types of heroes in books, but here are some of my favorites, as seen in YA, romance, women's fiction, etc.

1. The unwilling hero - Usually found in romances, especially those about Scottish Highland chiefs (I'm a sucker for them). This guy has no time for love or intimacy, he's usually fighting a war or running a secret mission that no woman can get in the way of (except that she inevitably does). He fights tooth and nail not to fall in love or admit that he has feelings of any kind, which is a losing battle. Their corresponding heroine is just so sweet/warm/kind or brave/fiery/independent that this hard, unfeeling rock of a man has no choice but to rescue her and admit that he is really a big soft teddy bear on the inside when it comes to her.

2. The all-too-willing hero - The opposite of the unwilling hero, this guy is probably a firefighter, a police officer, a body guard, etc. He pretty much walks around looking for a vulnerable woman in need of rescuing, and when he finds her it's love at first sight. He then spends a great deal of time rescuing said woman repeatedly and convincing her that she needs him. Corresponding heroine, who I call "Perilous Penelope" (anyone remember that cartoon?) is for some reason in constant danger from numerous threats from which she is always rescued by willing hero who is conveniently stalking her. She will eventually admit that she needs said hero to defeat the evil forces after her, feel guilty for putting him in so much danger, and get pregnant.

3. The best friend hero - "Hi, my name is Jacob Black. I've been a best friend hero for 2 movies now." Hi, Jacob! This is the guy who is there for the girl when her unwilling hero is being, well, unwilling. He steps up and comforts heroine (depressed, beautiful crying girl) and might receive a kiss on the cheek as a reward, but eventually fades into the black when unwilling hero has epiphany and shows up again to make crying girl knock off the tears. Pretty common in YA.

4. The bad-boy hero - Different from the unwilling hero in that this guy is really not a hero at all, but his heroine chooses to ignore that fact and believe that under all the tattoos and jail-time is a guy who will lay in bed and cuddle for hours. Sometimes best-friend hero shows up after bad-boy hero messes up irrevocably, and sometimes bad-boy hero is miraculously rehabilitated into the perfect guy (but you have to wonder how long after the book ends he ends up like Jesse James).

5. The Backstreet Boy hero - Very popular in YA, this guy is your average high school student that the cheerleader/new girl/geeky girl can't resist. He's pretty much harmless and asexual, most often being described as "hot". He gets a few chaste kisses if the girl is lucky, and if she's not he just sits at his desk while she stares at the back of his head longingly. He's mostly in the story as eye candy, shows up as needed and spends the rest of the time playing basketball.

6. The Accountant - This is the husband in many women's fiction, literary fiction, historical, etc. He's basically oblivious, he goes to work as an accountant, insurance salesman or similar while his wife deals with traumatic inner turmoil and depression resulting in a near affair, at which point she realizes how stable and great her husband is. Many times at the end of the book he reveals that he is a real person capable of thought and is very sweet and loving towards his wife now that she has resolved whatever issues she was having. Also the father in many YA books, remote and irrelevant.

7. The Widower - This it The Accountant made interesting by the fact that his wife has died. Now he will meet beautiful nurse/teacher/dead wife's best friend and must accept that his wife would've wanted him to be happy or his two-year-old needs a mommy and make himself fall in love again. After much inner-struggle and mourning of dead wife, The Widower will ultimately marry new girl who would never want to take dead wife's place (yeah, right) and feel overwhelming sense of peace knowing dead wife is smiling at him from Heaven.

So, who are your favorite stereotypical heroes? Who did I miss? Know of any unwilling Scottish chiefs I should be reading about?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

So...what's next?


It's that time of year again. Graduation time. Facebook is flooded with pictures and status updates and comments. I graduated from college 2 years ago. Yikes, where have those two years gone anyway? Now, as the people a few years younger than me, and some fifth and sixth year seniors my age graduate, I can't help but notice a common theme. Every status or picture has a comment underneath, with some well-meaning relative or acquaintance saying: "Congratulations! What's next?"

Good. Freaking. Question.

No one ever told me what came after college. I'm not sure anyone actually knows what you're supposed to do after college. Your whole life you're told what to do. First they send you to pre-school. They teach you to share and know your colors. Lovely. Next you go to elementary school, where you learn the basics, reading, writing, etc. Getting closer. Middle school, kind of a preview for high school. Then you make it to high school. And you are almost a real person. Your parents let you out of their sight for extended periods of time. You can drive. And if you make it through those four years of torture....COLLEGE!!! WHOOO!!!

College is awesome. Independence (well, except for financial, but that's the best part). Decision-making. Don't want to go to class? Don't. Want to stay up all night, because it's 4 am already and class is at 7 so why sleep? Go ahead. The craziness that is Spring Break. I could go on and on.

Then, after four (or in my case three, not to brag but for the sake of accuracy) carefree, wonderful years you make it to graduation day. And you think "I did it! I'm a college graduate!" and then people burst your shiny little bubble and ask "So, what's next?"

And guess what? No one is there to tell you what's next. You're completely, 100% on your own. No parents tying your shoes and sending you off to the office. After approximately 22 years of being shown what to do, it's up to you. Now, along with trying to find the dream job, soulmate, home, you have to pay bills, do laundry, clean, and do all manner of other things that used to be handled by your parents. It's a lot of pressure, and I wish all those graduating now or in a few years luck.

2 years later I'm still not sure what's next, but I'm working on it.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Re-Reader

I'm a chronic re-reader. I re-read books over and over again until the covers are falling off and the pages are crinkled (yikes, I'm hard on the books I love). My mom reads a book once and very rarely ever touches it again. She will, however, watch chick flicks that she's seen a hundred times (Legally Blonde, When Harry Met Sally, you know the ones) anytime they're on TV. I'm the same way, with movies AND books. Here are a list of books that have influenced/inspired/entertained me through dozens of readings:

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine - a classic, of course. This book inspired me to start writing fairy tales when I was in elementary school, and I plan to work on one after my current WIP. I just wish they hadn't completely destroyed it in the movie version.

The Protector of the Small series and The Song of the Lioness series by Tamora Pierce - female knights, princes, mythical creatures, cute boys - these books have it all. Tamora Pierce definitely inspired me to write strong female characters who aren't afraid to be themselves and compete with the guys.

Queen of Camelot by Nancy McKenzie, Pendragon's Banner Trilogy by Helen Hollick - I LOVE books about King Arthur. I wish there were more of them.

Anything by Kate Brian - The Private Series, The Privileged Series, etc. - Kate Brian (one of Kieran Scott's pen names) is hands down my favorite YA author (I think I've mentioned that before) I love her voice, completely authentic of YA, her description, and she kills me with cliffhangers every time. She's definitely not afraid to be hard on her characters.

Anything by Philippa Gregory - I've been obsessed with all things English since I learned about Henry VIII chopping off his wives heads in middle school (wow, that sounds morbid...) and Philippa Gregory brings flat historical figures to life in her novels.

I could keep going, and going, and going (I'm the Energizer bunny of books) but I'll leave it at that for now. I've got some books to re-read.