Showing posts from 2015

What I am reading now...


BRCA Genetic Testing: My Experience with the Ups and Downs of Waiting for Results

As a note up front: I eventually found out that I tested negative. I am posting this because while I went through this, I wanted as much information as I could find about the testing process. Not all testing is done in the same way, but I give you my experience in case you are interested. If you do test positive, search around and you will find some great blogs that detail everything certain women have been through. Information is power.

This is one of those posts you debate with yourself about putting out there, but today I decided that I would go ahead and share my experience with you simply because I was desperate for information when my doctor told me I needed to have the BRCA genetic test.

Back in August, I went for my usual yearly exam, and while filling out the usual paperwork, I noticed that my doctor's office had added a new information gathering sheet. The form asked for information about family history of cancer, and some of the questions were really specific--especiall…

A short vent about holiday music....followed by my great day at the UNITY summit!

I've been doing a lot of driving lately, and usually I plug my phone into the USB port on my car stereo and amuse myself with podcasts. But, sadly, there is something wrong with said USB port, so I have been listening to the radio lately...and there is at least one station playing Christmas music. People. It is only October. This is just sad.

Anyway, I just felt the need to vent, but I will leave it there and get on with the update. Because I am not going to waste a post on holiday music.

On Friday, I attended UNITY: Journalists for Diversity's regional media summit ("Empowering the Southern Narrative"). I had an amazing time and learned so much, and it was great to be surrounded by so many voices and experiences. I listened to Willoughby Mariano of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution speak about investigative reporting she did that led to massive community change, and I sat in on former CNN Chief Diversity Advisor Johnita Due's keynote speech about cultivating and …

The Best Books I've Read This Year (so far...)

I have read a lot this year. Yes, I read a lot every year, but I have been a VERY active reader over the last few months. At some point before New Year's Eve, I will put up a favorites list, but I thought I would let you know about some of the best books I've read so far.

A Tale for the Time Being: Oh, wow. I really can't say enough good things about this book. It might end up being my favorite for the year. I felt like this book came along at just the right time. Here is the Amazon description: “A time being is someone who lives in time, and that means you, and me, and every one of us who is, or was, or ever will be.”
In Tokyo, sixteen-year-old Nao has decided there’s only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates’ bullying. But before she ends it all, Nao first plans to document the life of her great grandmother, a Buddhist nun who’s lived more than a century. A diary is Nao’s only solace—and will touch lives in ways she can scarcely imagine.
Across the Pacifi…

Moonlight and Magnolias: A Great Regional RWA Conference!

Hi, everyone. I have not had a chance to update the blog because so much has been going on. I went to Moonlight and Magnolias in Atlanta from Oct. 1-4. This is a regional conference put on by the Georgia Romance Writers chapter of Romance Writers of America. It was a great conference, and I learned so much! I went to sessions on plot and character development, and I attended Candace Haven's three-hour class titled "Fast Draft and Revision Hell." It was intense, but I learned more than I could have imagined. I may even sign up for her online class.

On Saturday, things got a little crazy for me. I went to one session about character development, but I missed most of another session on using humor in writing, because I had to make a phone call to my cousin (he's in the Army, and it was his birthday).   :)

We had a nice lunch with our keynote speaker, Chris Marie Green. But during the lunch, I received a text from my mother saying that my grandma was in the hospital...wh…

Off to a Good Start

I mentioned that I would be attending one conference, workshop, lecture, event, or class per month to help me feed my writing and Victorian passions. :) So, this weekend took care of September. On Saturday, I went to a fiction editing workshop. I went into the workshop knowing that I probably already knew most of what would be said (and I did), but I also know you can always learn something new (and I did). 
In my day job, I am an editor, but I edit nonfiction...which is very different from editing fiction. So, I learned a few little things to help me when I am writing fiction (and some things to avoid). Most of all, it was just nice to hear some really validating comments from someone who shares my line of work.
Other things going on:
1. This week I will be attending another writing conference (already scheduled) for several days. I'm excited, and this will take care of October's assignment. Also, I just found out about a small one-day conference on campus towards the middle …

Vacation...Last Day: Dickens, Victorian London, and Conferences

No, I did not become a slacker and neglect my posting promise! I had a headache that wouldn't stop and kept me in bed for a day...then that turned into feeling like I was coming down with more time asleep. Anyway, I finally feel better, which I guess is a good thing, because I have to go back to work tomorrow. (See how jazzed I sound?)

Once the headache passed, I continued my Dickens reading. I am about halfway through Sketches by Boz, and I am loving it. It is so funny, and because I am relaxed and not under grad school pressure, rereading Dickens is a whole new experience. I mean, I loved him before, but having such a rich background (due to the work I did in grad school) and coming to him fresh makes me see so many new things.

Also, I am using the Penguin version of Sketches. I snatched it up when I found it, because I don't often find decent editions of the less popular works around here. The notes are fascinating, and it is really fun to read this alongside…

Vacation: Day 5

It has been a day built around eating. I made a trip to Fresh Market this morning and bought steaks, veggies, coffee, and dessert. So, tonight, I grilled out, and we had a feast. Of course, this was after going for my usual Wednesday lunch with my grandmother at the assisted living center. Apparently, they had an Elvis impersonator today...AND I MISSED IT. This is cruel of the universe.

Other than that, I read a bit and wrote a bit. It's been a good day. :)

Yeah...let's hope so...


Vacation: Day 4

Ugh. This day. Exhausting and revealing in so many ways. Nothing dramatic or anything...just more signs from the cosmos (visible in small ways to no one but me, I guess) that things are in need of change. But that is a conversation for another time.
I've taken a small step into a larger project: I'm reading all of Dickens. I can't say "rereading" because I haven't read everything by him. I'm starting with Sketches by Boz and moving forward chronologically. I need more guidance about how to tackle the journalism, especially now that we just had some really significant leads and new additions this summer, so that will wait. I would like to read his letters alongside what he's writing at the time, so I need to make a trip to the library to get those. 
This is my first time to read Sketches by Boz, and I really like it. So many early portraits of characters to come. Such an amazing eye for surroundings and people. It is just fascinating.
Well, more later!

Vacation: Day 3

Wow. I really should have waited until really late last night to post! No, it isn't that anything super exciting happened, but I ended up watching Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte...and I was totally into the hot mess that is that movie! Wow. It was so over-the-top wonderful in so many ways.

Anyway, not much has happened of note. It has been a day of errand running. I did just attend a friend's book reception at the history department, and that was a lot of fun. I'm so proud of her! I couldn't stay long, but I am glad I was able to go.

Well, I am hoping for more energy and a better post tomorrow. I'm just kind of exhausted from the day's non-routine/running around!

Vacation: Day 2

Today was a fun day! I had a friend and fellow writing buddy signing books at Barnes & Noble, so I decided to make it a big family day. I loaded up the parents, and we went up to Flip Burger Boutique for lunch and then to the book signing. We all had the Oaxaca burger (AMAZING), and then we decided to have milkshakes...which always makes for a good day. (Yes, that would be me taking a picture of myself in the reflective ball is to the right.)

The book signing was great! My friend Nancee Cain was signing her book, and it was so great to see her there and signing as a published author! Dad was getting tired, so we couldn't stay too long, but it was a good time. Lots of laughter and relaxation, which is just what I needed.

I did take a short nap today, and then I went out to the assisted living center to visit my grandmother. And the evening was topped off by a fun phone call with my cousin, Jeff.

So, not a ton of thoughts to share today...just lots of fun!

Vacation: Day 1

Today has been uneventful, and that is a good thing! I'm ready for a bit of calm in my life, so having some free time to write, read, and think is is a venti iced coffee. Clearly, my addition is being fed.

As for the book: I really enjoy Judith Flanders's work. I bought Consuming Passions when I was in Oxford the second time, and it was so much fun to read. If you like social history with a lot of details, then go for it. I'm excited to get started with this one (my vacation purchase). It has taken me a while to get to this point, but I have to say that I really miss engaging in Victorian studies. I've made it one of my goals to get back into it.

This summer was a rough one. There was a health scare with my mom (she's fine, thank goodness), and then lots of other things happened that added to the stress. Good times. During all of this, I realized that I really missed what I will call my "literary life." Of course, I still read as much as alway…

Almost there...

In approximately three hours, I will be on vacation! Yay! One of my vacation goals is to blog every day. I am not sure I will have anything interesting to say, but at least it might help me make a move to get back into the habit of blogging again.

I plan to do a lot of reading and writing during my time off. I am so ready for this.

How does this much time pass?

So, I looked at the date of my last blog post and realized that--yet again--I have slacked on the blog. Lots of things happened since my last post: family health craziness and a big move to new offices at work (among other things). So, yes, I have been busy.

Most of my time over the last few weeks has been spent getting the next issue of the magazine ready for the designer and packing boxes. Smaller amounts of time have been spent at "surplus"--a big warehouse that is basically our only option for furniture where I work. #lifeatanonprofit (as a FB friend puts it)

Anyway, you have to go to surplus *MANY* times to actually find something. Most of the time, you just come across stuff like this:

I actually took this photo today. I had to go back to surplus to find a table for my printer, and I saw this desk up on the second level of shelves. It made me sad. The photo is bad, but basically this desk...leaning and missing a one of the many fine items available for us …

The Martian by Andy Weir


Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. 
Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there.
After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. 
Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first. 
But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him? Plot summary in a nutshell? Castaway on Mars.

I finally managed to tr…

The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider

From Amazon:

Robyn Schneider's The Beginning of Everything is a witty and heart-wrenching teen novel that will appeal to fans of books by John Green and Ned Vizzini, novels such as The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and classics like The Great Gatsby and The Catcher in the Rye.
Varsity tennis captain, Ezra Faulkner, was supposed to be homecoming king, but that was before—before his girlfriend cheated on him, before a car accident shattered his leg, and before he fell in love with unpredictable new girl Cassidy Thorpe.
As Kirkus Reviews said in a starred review, "Schneider takes familiar stereotypes and infuses them with plenty of depth. Here are teens who could easily trade barbs and double entendres with the characters that fill John Green's novels."
Funny, smart, and including everything from flash mobs to blanket forts to a poodle who just might be the reincarnation of Jay Gatsby, The Beginning of Everything is a refreshing contemporary twist on the classic coming-of-a…

Waiting on Wednesday...

Hosted by:  Breaking the Spine
I absolutely cannot wait for this book to come out!! I have had it on my wishlist forever!! 

From Amazon...

From a ferociously talented writer, praised as “the fire, in my opinion. And the light," by Junot Diaz, comes a blazing portrait of one woman’s rise from courtesan to world-renowned diva. 
Lilliet Berne is a sensation of the Paris Opera, a legendary soprano with every accolade except an original role, every singer’s chance at immortality. When one is finally offered to her, she realizes with alarm that the libretto is based on a hidden piece of her past. Only four could have betrayed her: one is dead, one loves her, one wants to own her. And one, she hopes, never thinks of her at all. As she mines her memories for clues, she recalls her life as an orphan who left the American frontier for Europe and was swept up into the glitzy, gritty world of Second Empire Paris. In order to survive, she transformed herself from hippodrome rider to courtesan,…

Curious about a "Graze" snack box?

I was, too. I love snacks, and I kept seeing all of these ads on Facebook and Twitter about "Graze" snacks that are mailed to you every month or so. A friend of mine tried them last year, and she liked them. So, I thought I would give the service a try and post for anyone who is curious. :)

So, I went to the "Graze" site ( and signed up. The first box (and, come to find out, the fifth) is free. Once you get the first box, you can choose what kind of box you want. They have several to choose from, and you can rate the snacks you try (telling them that you definitely do or do not want something). Box prices vary (as do the times they ship). It seems like the more expensive/larger the box, the longer in between shipments. And, I am super excited that they have flapjack boxes!!

Anyway, they send a little card (see pic below) that tells you how to "get the most out of Graze." Good tips about what to do if you want to try something…

AND...WOW!! I have been blogging for 10 years!!

10 YEARS!!! Who knew?? I looked back, and my first post was March 6, 2005. Wow! Crazy!

(okay..yes...I haven't blogged every day, but to still actively post on a ten-year-old blog is kind of amazing considering most are abandoned!)

New Look to the Blog

After ten years, I finally got sick of it. LOL! So, I am going minimalist. :)

A Tale for the Time Being, by Ruth Ozeki

Description from Amazon:
“A time being is someone who lives in time, and that means you, and me, and every one of us who is, or was, or ever will be.”
In Tokyo, sixteen-year-old Nao has decided there’s only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates’ bullying. But before she ends it all, Nao first plans to document the life of her great grandmother, a Buddhist nun who’s lived more than a century. A diary is Nao’s only solace—and will touch lives in ways she can scarcely imagine. Across the Pacific, we meet Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island who discovers a collection of artifacts washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox—possibly debris from the devastating 2011 tsunami. As the mystery of its contents unfolds, Ruth is pulled into the past, into Nao’s drama and her unknown fate, and forward into her own future.Full of Ozeki’s signature humor and deeply engaged with the relationship between writer and reader, past and present, fact and fiction, quantum physics, histor…

Reading Toni Morrison

In preparation for Toni Morrison's new novel God Help the Child (coming out NEXT WEEK!! YAY!!!), I am reading through her entire works. I have read some Morrison in the past, but I always wanted to start at the beginning and work my way through. Even this plan didn't go well, because my local bookstore was out of The Bluest Eye. They did have Sula, so I read that one first. (These are two I haven't read before now.) So, I have now finished those two and will move on to Song of Solomon tonight. I am super excited. I find myself falling into Morrison's books so easily--but this is not to say that the reading experience is easy. Never come to Morrison if you are looking for a quick read or something "easy." Though the first two books, as many acknowledge, are good "gateway" books to Morrison's collection, they still require effort, of course.

Anyway, I will keep you posted. There is no way I can finish everything before next Tuesday (LOL), but I h…

Since my last post (aka making progress on the TBR pile):

Well, since my last post, I have been reading...a lot! I am actually still on schedule with my Goodreads challenge...which is amazing in itself! Most of my reading has been historical romance, but I have completed two literary fiction novels, also. Here are my thoughts...

I don't really know how to describe my feelings about Olive Kitteridge. Don't get me wrong: I liked the book. It is a collection of shorter stories that are all connected to the character of Olive. The book is intense, however. I read it in almost one sitting, and I think that was a mistake. When I finished, I was left feeling emotionally exhausted and sad. I'm glad I read it, but I can't say that I would want to go through the experience again!

I actually had this on my audiobook archives list. I LOVED listening to this book. I think this was the best narration I have ever heard. Mitchell is a great author, and once this book was over, I was left wanting more!

My New Year's Resolutions and Back to Book Reviews (Sort of)

So, I made two resolutions this year:

1. To only read books out of my TBR pile (including books bought before 1/1/15 on my Kindle), and to not buy another physical book this year (though, if it is something I am dying to read, I can buy it on Kindle). Yeah...I fully expect that I will fail miserably at this one!

2. To take more time off from work. I didn't do a good job of allowing myself days to recharge last year, and it almost put me under.

Anyway, I joined the Goodreads challenge, as usual,committing to 100 books this year. Also, I joined a TBR challenge on Goodreads, committing to the same 100 books. Double accountability! So, I am keeping my reading logged there, but I will probably post most of the books I am reading here, too.

I have read these two books so far:

 From Amazon:
By the end of the fifteenth century, the beauty and creativity of Italy is matched by its brutality and corruption, nowhere more than in Rome and inside the Church. When Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia buys hi…