The Really Behind on Life Edition

At some point I tripped and fell out of my life. Probably December. Not that I’ve not accomplished anything of note, but that I’ve not accomplished anything that relates to my big five. I’ve been wallowing in a general feeling of blah for most of this time, made worse by the perceived lack of progress and the first anniversary of me graduating and realizing I am in the same position I was at this point last year.

And now I’m suffering from post-con blues. Nothing is worse than coming home from a convention and having the reality of the real world crush you. It also marks the end of the thing that has been taking up all my time for the past month: making costumes. I’ve spent so much time working on the five (!) that I made for this year’s Anime North that I can’t remember what I did with myself before anymore.

I want to take some steps today, because I really don’t feel like being down in the dumps (who does?) but my mood is such that I just can’t think of what I can do that will make my day go well. Nothing can compete with the joy of random strangers squealing with joy when they see you dressed as their favourite character and needing half an hour to walk across a parking lot because of all the requests for pictures. Or being able to loudly proclaim your geekdom with no one batting an eye. *sigh*

So decisions to make: Do I spend today eating ice cream and scouring the internet for photos people took of our costumes, or do I make my bed, tidy my room, practice my cello, and get on with my life?

 

Advertisements

100 Books: 16-20

Book 16: The Heart Has Its Reasons, Young Adult Literature with Gay/Lesbian/Queer Content, 1969-2004

By Michael Cart, Christine A. Jenkins (hardback, non-fiction)

  • This was an excellent book, and a good read for anyone who is a) writing for teens b)stocking a YA section of a library, or c) in any position to influence the reading material of teenagers.  It goes over numerous titles with LGBTQ content, examining it for their triumphs (positive portrayals, good writing, reassuring content etc.) or failures (the frequent equation of homosexuality=death, stereotypes, didacticism etc.). Its one failing was that the authors either don’t know about, or decide not to make, the distinction between authors and publishers when complaining about the quality of LGBTQ YA lit, or the lack of it that was published. I’m certain that there were a lot more novels written during this period with positive content then were published, but publishers are notorious for their mistrust of anything new, and they very carefully screen what the publish not only for quality but for its perceived marketability. Other than that, I highly recommend.

Book 17-18: The Circle of Magic, Books 3-4

By Tamora Pierce (paperback, reread)

  • Ah, I forgot how much I loved ‘Briar’s Book’ (#4) in this series. It is both heartwrenching and heartwarming in how she shows Briar’s love of his teacher and the effects of a plague on this rather non-traditional family. I also kind of love how, rereading it now, I can see all the hints Pierce puts in that Lark and Rosethorn are partners. Though I know a lot of people get annoyed about how coy authors are about putting in homosexuality, I also know that there are very few publishers who will allow ‘such things’ in mainstream books meant for young readers (these books are usually shelved for 9-12 yo). It’s actually amazing how much she does get away with, plus in Will of the Empress she comes right out and says it. Pierce might not be specifically writing for LGBTQ teens, but she makes it known in her writing that queer is ok – an important message that a lot more books need to put in for teens.

Book 19: Ash

By Malinda Lo (hardback)

  • One of the books I pulled from the library in my search for YA LGBTQ books in order to educate myself on the genre I unwittingly got myself involved in. I enjoyed reading it well enough, I suppose. I’m sure I would have enjoyed it more if I wasn’t so deep into writers mode. On one hand, I want to shove this book onto any teen girl who is in love with Edward Cullen. Lo beautifully weaves Ash’s attraction to Sidhean, a mysterious fairy man and her pull into the fairy realm with her new-found friendship with Kaisa, the huntress. Sidhean is pretty much exactly like Edward – ‘mysterious’ ‘alluring’ ‘unearthly beauty’… complete stalker. And Ash ultimately makes the right choice here, creating the idea that you can’t live in a fairy-tale all your life. However, this story would have been better served by the characters having personalities. Yeah… When I’m writing, I find that if I don’t have a good enough idea of who a character is they become what I call ‘Tolkien puppets’. They talk in that overly formalized manner that Tolkien characters talk in and act like puppets with-in the story, their motives wishy-washy and their reactions to events are flat and non-engaging. Lo’s characters are Tolkien puppets.

Book 20: The Circle Opens: Magic Steps

By Tamora Pierce (paperback, reread)

  • Not kidding when I said that I’m probably going to reread all of the Tamora Pierce books. This one is actually probably one of my least favourites  of hers, now that I think about it. I still love it, compared to the masses of trash that is available for teen readers, but Sandry was never the most compelling character of the four. She’s too Mary Sue, and she doesn’t have the kind of dynamic relationship with her teacher that the other three create with theirs. Honestly the best part about reading this book is now I get to read Street Magic, which was my first TP book, and is still one of my favourites. Briar and Rosethorn are the best.

100 Books: Books 11-15

Book 11: Dragonsinger

By Anne Mccaffery (paperback, reread)

  • 2nd reread. Favourite book in my favourite series of hers. The only problem is reading this book makes me want to read Dragonquest (even though I always want it to be more about Brekke than it is), which means I have to read Dragonflight and The White Dragon. Before you know it I’m going to be re-reading every book that Mccaffery’s ever written and this is going to turn into a very boring report. Must make a point of finding new books to read.

Book 12: Dragondrums

By Anne Mccaffery (Paperback, reread)

  • You know, I actually used to be annoyed at this story. I wanted to read more about Menolly. Not that I didn’t like Piemur, but I’d just invested two whole books in her. Now I’ve kind of gotten to the point where Menolly’s reticence annoys me a bit, and Piemur is a welcome change. And I also get why it was done this way – Menolly’s grown up in this one, which is great. And if Mccaffery had just written Menolly’s process of growing up it would have been pretty boring. Piemur growing up is a lot more interesting, plus it keeps the age of the protagonists the same through the books.

Book 13: The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents

By Terry Pratchett (paperback)

  • With Tiffany Aching Pratchett proved that he could write really well for young adults. With The Amazing Maurice he proved that he can write really good books that would interest a younger reader if the reading level wasn’t so high. Yeah, not sure the aim was successful, though apparently it won an award, so maybe I’ve been led to believe that young readers are worse off then they actually are. In all, this was enjoyable for me but not completely remarkable within Pratchetts body of works.

Book 14-15: The Circle of Magic, books 1-2

By Tamora Pierce (Paperback, reread)

  • Tamora Pierce has been one of my favourite authors since I picked up the third book in The Circle Opens quartet when I was in high school. And as a YA author she is far too under-read. In a just world, she would be holding the spot in teen-girl popularity that is held by Twilight. The Circle of Magic and subsequent series is less popular than her Tortall books, but they hold a special place in my heart. Her idea of ambient magic is one that, as someone who loves craft-work of all kinds, has always held my imagination. If you need an alternative for a twilight-addled teen, her books have strong female characters galore, lively plots, and are quite well written.

Ally’s Adventure in Speed Dating

… … … yeah. This actually happened. Reason basically boiled down to I have to do something to meet people, and stepping out of my comfort zone is something I try and do once in a while. Here is my account. I hope you find it amusing, if nothing else.

Last week: Myself and my mother visit the library to pick up essential reading material (Anne Mccaffery is essential, shut up) and she’s sees The Sign. Library Valentines Mixer. This reminds her that she has no grandchildren and she does the normal thing in my family which is to forget I have an engaged brother and start demanding to know when I’m going to pop a kid out so the family line is secured. Well, okay, she actually said something like ‘you should go! How else are you gonna meet guys?’ Apparently my very active social life of D&D every Saturday with the same group of friends I’ve had since high school just doesn’t cut it.

Saturday: I’m telling what should be very sympathetic friends during D&D that my mom thinks I should go to this thing, trying to stress in my voice what a terribly silly mummy I have. I get an immediate response of ‘Great idea! Find a book-loving sperm-donor!’ ‘Make babies!’ I’m not actually exaggeration this time.

I think about it some more and go, “Okay, besides for my dignity, my handle over my anxiety disorder and any chance I have at enjoying my Monday, what have I got to lose?” But – I ask my Audrey to come with me because there’s no way in hell I’d be able to make myself go alone. Besides, with any potential mate it’s good to get meeting Audrey over with so that they fall for her before I put any emotional investment in.

Sunday: Audrey decides that, should she come, the entire library will burn down because that’s the sort of luck she’s having. (Also, she’s an introvert and isn’t looking for anybody so going is pointless). I panic – I have already signed up and I’ve invested many hours of fretting in this so I should go and I won’t go if she doesn’t go. I call her to ask her to reconsider. After a few minutes of grovelling, offering to buy her dinner and promising to name my firstborn after her, she again agrees to go.

I tell Mum that I plan to go and that I made Audrey come with me. She’s a bit concerned over the possibility of having a grandson named Audrey until I tell her that it used to be a boys name about three hundred years ago.

Monday Morning: I do some research on what to expect or what I’m actually supposed to do at this thing. The only completely consistent piece of advice I find it “Be yourself.”  I’m not sure how that’s going to work. If I’m being myself, I avoid stupid things like this.

6pm: Audrey shows up at my house, greeting me with a friendly “I am never going to forgive you for this.” I give her a hug and we rush off to get food. Unfortunately we don’t have time before 6:30 to actually eat them, arriving at the library with only a few minutes to spare. They are left in the car.

6:30pm: We arrive and sign in. We are given pseudonyms of famous authors to be for the evening. After selecting two that I’ve never heard of I finally settle on Mary Shelly. We are given bingo cards with things like ‘has bungee jumped’ or ‘is left handed’ and told to go mingle and get the names of people who have done the things on our cards.

When we arrive there are a total of four men in a group of 20 or so. Fortunately as we go about with our cards more show up.

Later: the announcer gets everyone organized for the dates, sadly taking my card away when I am one away from getting bingo. I was actually having fun, and not only because ‘has written a book’ was on there and I got to brag. The total of six men are seated at separate tables while the women sit in a circle or choose to sit with one of the guys. Me and Audrey sit in the circle. Audrey is in front of me in the order.

I am nervous, and thinking up ways that we might possibly sneak out. I am also thinking about my poor veggie burger, all alone in the car. At least there are cupcakes. Another man shows up, making the ratio closer to 2:1 in favour of the vag team.

Then: I sit down with bachelor # 1. It is a bit awkward, but it’s a decent conversation. I find out that he’s an electrician and plays the harmonica.

The bell rings. I move onto #2…

“So I hear you owe your friend big time?”

“Ah… *laugh* She actually told you that?”

“Yup.”

“Did she tell you what I promised her?”

“First-born child, wasn’t it?”

*laughs again, plotting ways to throttle Audrey*

We have a nice conversation about education, because he’s a teacher.

#3 Thinks Audrey’s story was hilarious. Once that is out of the way, I find out that he actually brought his favourite book. It’s a fantasy novel, and I am impressed. I jot down the name of the book for future reading.

#4 Is a total introvert. I feel my introvert soul go out to him, but since I am also an introvert I do not express this. We talk about music, and we find out that we have a mutual don’t-really-know-him-but-know-of-him acquaintance.

#5 is interesting. When I ask he what he does he asks “do you mean what I do for money, or what I do for life?” I say life and he is an artist. Neat-o. He also plays piano and I am sad when the bell rings and I have to hurriedly finish my explanation of why Stravinsky is my favourite composer. He was also aware of the deal I made with Audrey.

#6 talks a lot about nothing. Though it is a funny story, I actually have time to wonder if he is aware how conceited he sounds. Maybe he was just nervous.

#7 is a musican, too. We have a pretty great conversation about it.

And then we were back at the circle. I wander over to Audrey.

“So you told everyone that I owe you my firstborn child?” I ask sweetly. She grins.

“They asked me why I came, so I told them!” she answers happily. Another woman in the circle thinks this is hilarious. We chat, and hang out. Me and Audrey finally take the time to rush out to the car and grab our sad, lonely, veggie burgers. They are cold, and not very appetizing.

I have the strange realization that I just had fun. I just talked to seven complete strangers in a row and I had fun. It is totally worth having a future son named Audrey. Even if I don’t go on any dates or make anything of it, it was totally worth it.

The last date ends and me and Audrey scamper after a quick comparison of notes. I’ve checked off most of the guys. Out in the car, Audrey admits to having had fun.

Lowdown on speed dating: it’s interesting, and having this group be preselected for the semi-literate probably made it better.  For the introvert, it’s not nearly as awful as mingling at a party or similar because you don’t have to put in the effort to  pick someone out to talk to and you are limited to a short conversation. It’s silly, a bit like a factory, and I can’t speak for its effectiveness in finding a long-term relationship, but it’s an okay way to spend an evening.

What I’m Learning from Beta Readers

Tags

, ,

So last week I went and got myself some beta readers for my Fairy Tale. And boy, has it been an education. Not in the way I expected, either. I expected to have alternate points of view that told me what the great flaws were in my novel. I did get some of that, but I learned more from the Beta reading I’ve done for them than what they have given me.

  1. I learned that I’m a better writer than I thought I was. Apparently the act of looking things like active vs. passive, and show vs. tell, and the horrors of Info dumping really does make a difference in your writing. Possibly to the point where looking at the writing of other amateurs can make your eyes bleed. But it also gives you a certain amount of authority among the unpublished writers circle.
  2. Never, ever, show someone your first draft. Ever. It leaves them in the awkward position of trying to find nice ways to tell you it sucks.
  3. It is possible to tell someone that they suck without crushing their soul. You might have guess that I was given a first draft. It was even of a nanowrimo novel. It was pretty terrible and I looked at it and said ‘oh, god, what can I do to help make this readable when I can’t even finish it?’ Answer – a lot. I found one issue, and pointed it out. Then, after I had thought the point was made, I emailed back and said that It would be more valuable if my suggestions were taken and editing done based on it first. Then I could look at the edited scenes. I was so worried about crushing a little writing soul, but it’s just like teaching: you make one correction at a time, and you do it with respect.
  4. I know how to edit! This is a big thing. If you’ve read my previous posts about how much I hate editing, it’s practically revolutionary. But I’ve gotten to the point where I can read something and go ‘well, here I’d probably…’ That actually happened while I was reading Anne Mccaffery earlier this week. I was ‘editing’ freaking Anne Mccaffery. Which actually brings me to:
  5. Editorial changes are completely subjective. From one beta reader, I used one comment out of three chapters. It’s also really hard to phrase something as subjective when you know that you’re the only one looking at something. I have to be careful not to overshadow someones voice, even though I know how I would write it and I’m sure my way is better.
  6. Beta reading takes a lot of work. I’m glad that I did this in exchange, otherwise I might not be nearly as grateful to the people who are doing it for me. It takes a lot of time to get through a single page, even if you make minimal comments. Because you want to do your best.

Just some thoughts. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some beta reading to get back to. There’s still so much for me to learn.

I Think My Novel Died

Tags

,

You hear about trunk novels – those drafts that are written but are shelved as learning experiences and never get polished or sent out or read by anyone… I don’t want Tomok’s Wings to be one of those novels. I don’t want to put away Shaden and Saguarde and move on with my life. I want this story told.

But…

I think I killed it. I think I created something unfixable and so quintessentially flawed so that I can never edit it. I tried to write an epic-fantasy and I did but it just kind of turned into this great big tangle of yarn so that when I tug at a string to see what I can make of it I just make the knot tighter.

But…

I love these characters! They still talk in my head. They tell me about themselves and what they want from life. I know their childhoods, their greatest struggles, what they plan to do when their story is over and they can be happy again. As I wrote in a post a few months ago – these guys are my best friends! I have to tell a story for them.

But…

I go to the novel and I can’t extract the characters from the story I have. I can’t take Saguarde and Shaden and put them in another story because the story is such a big part of who they are. They are made by their world and the world was created around them. They are as inseparable from this story as peanut butter and bananas. I’ve tried, so hard have I tried, to think of a way to fit them elsewhere.

Should I give up on it? Can I? I have other stories to tell, certainly. Lots of other stories. I’ve been told that I should trunk it, that I should let it go. But that would be like getting a divorce, or leaving my friends, or giving up Sushi. That would mean never talking to Saguarde or Shaden again. Or Cal. Gosh, I can’t give up Cal. I can’t not write the second book. If I don’t write the second book, the world will never be saved from The Beast and everyone will die… (well, more people that would If I finished it…)

Okay. So I think I can safely say that no matter what logic says, I can’t let this story go. The part of me that wants to be a published author is very sensibly asking for me to let it go, and work on projects that actually have merit. But screw Sensible Author Ally. I didn’t start writing this book for her. I started it for me, and if I still want it, then I’ll still write it.

The fact that I’ve tried to remind myself that I should be writing for me many times and always slip back into asking myself if it is a viable novel has nothing to do it. I mean it this time.

Maybe?

Gah!

100 Books: Books 6-10

Tags

, ,

Book 6: The Dark Wife

By Sarah Diemer. Self-Pub ebook

  • I went and got myself an kobo arc. I was debating for a while if I should get a tablet/e-reader and what finally convinced me that I had to do it was this review for The Dark Wife. I knew I had to read that book. My opinion? Worth the five bucks it cost me, but it could have been better. The bones are there for a truly amazing story, very, truly amazing. The changes that Diemer makes to the myth are perfect, in my opinion, but she could have gone farther. I wanted more from the story – more epic, more romance, more detail, more dialog from the main character (really, more dialog in general) – but it never delivered. I saw a million intriguing points that it could have gone down, but it didn’t follow them to what I felt was full satisfaction. But, ultimately, it entertained, and that’s all I really want in a book.

Book 7: Peter Pan

By J.M. Barrie, free Kobo ebook

  • This is really a peculiar book. All the joy that I find in watching my old cassette of Mary Martin as Peter Pan in the play version is there, making me squeal and giggle with the delight of it. At other times I got the distinct impression that Barrie doesn’t like children – at all. He’s a very present narrator, which at times is fun, but at other times he rambles on about how much he hates Mrs. Darling, or how bratty the children are. And though I truly hate changing old books, preferring to instead change my mind-set, or explain old fashioned words, I would probably rewrite this if I were to read it to any children.  Also, Tinkerbell is a complete bitch – like, really a bitch. She tries to kill Wendy. Bet you didn’t know that from that sickeningly-sweet disney version

Book 8 – Wintersmith

By Terry Pratchett, paperback

  • What can I say, it’s more Terry Pratchett. *shrug* I am still amazed that, having read 35 our of 39 books in the discworld, how much I still love them. This is the kind of writer I want to be – one who gets better, or at the very least gets no worse, with each book. Nothing does that – not if it’s popular. He is not your average writer, that is for sure.

Book 9 – Dragonsong

By Anne Mccaffery, paperback

  • 1st reread of the year, which is impressive in and of itself. I can go through months where I don’t read a single new book. The Harper Hall trilogy are, in my opinion, the best books in the Pern books. They are what got me into Anne Mccaffery, in the same way that Soul Music got me into Pratchett. Guess I’m a sucker for books with music in them. After all the editing I’ve been doing on my own book this is the first book where I kept catching errors too. Didn’t make it any less great, but it was amusing.

Book 10 – Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret

By Judy Blume

  • I bought this book a while ago, because it’s known as a classic MG book and I’ve been collecting kids books. And, well… it’s dated. I wouldn’t suggest it to any daughter of mine, that’s for sure, because of the 1970s gender roles that are so prominent and unquestioned. I’m also confused by the entire lack of resolution to the plots – It basically boils down to (spoilers?) she gets her period and that means that everything from her boy issues to her quest for religion is solved. And I felt cheated, because it would have been nice for our main character to have some sort of epiphany about religion (the only plot line that I felt redeemed the book)- but I guess the idea of being a spiritual agnostic is too much for the seventies to handle.

Review of January Goal Progress (or lack there-of)

Tags

, , , , ,

So those five goals, the big ones that are so important to me… figure I should check progress every once in a while. (End of the month seems like a good place to do so).

1. Publish a Novel

  • this is a good one to start with because I have tangible progress made! I completed a second round of edits of the whole manuscript for my Fairy-tale story. Not the story I was originally thinking of when I thought of sometime-publication, but I feel it is a good one. We (me and my super awesome Audrey) fixed some show-vs.-tell issues, some rambely sentences, and deleted another slew of errant commas and apostrophes. I tentatively posted on the beta-readers wanted board at Absolute Write and am trying to get some takers.
  • Next steps – get beta-reader feedback, make more changes. Possibly start researching agents? I dunno about the last one…

2. Go Backpacking in New Zealand

  • Uh… depleted what savings I had, instead of building them up. Major step back, in that case. Spent a lot of time despairing over money and what have you. Also spent some time in an existential crisis where I thought about how there are people who don’t have the choice to eat food because of poverty and what right do I have to go gallavanting off to foreign parts just because I want to see some pretty scenery? (Documentaries are informative, but can be soul crushing). In other words, not only did I not go forward on this goal, I went backward. Can’t really do much in this corner until I get my bum moving on the job front so…

3. Build My Career as a Suzuki Cello Teacher

  • I took my Unit 4 training! W00t. That was lots of fun, and quite inspiring. Next stop there is Unit 5
  • I kept my one student at the place I was teaching in the fall. Glad I did that because it is the highlight of my week right now. Am consciously evaluating myself on my teaching and I believe I am improving.
  • I talked to people about a nearby city that has no Suzuki Cello teachers. Looks possible, which is great because I love that city and would be pretty happy to settle there.
  • I… made a poster. No, I haven’t hung it up yet. This is the point where progress fell apart. Anxiety again, but also complete lack of driving ability (which will be solved by Tuesday if I pass my test). Need more progress next month because I am about to run out of savings.
  • I need to get in that scholarship application that is 9/10th completed, hang up those posters, and contact preschools so I can come in and do presentations.

4. Create a Sustainable Lifestyle that works for me

  • I haven’t even clearly defined this goal yet. Erk. I do know that health is part of being a sustainable human being and with finally getting around to getting to a doctor, I have made good strides on that front. The whole exercise thing fell apart again due to uterus, but next week is another week for that.
  • Next I need to define what I want as a sustainable lifestyle, and steps to achieve it. Also to continue my health related goals.

5. Produce, adopt, or foster a child

  • Need to complete #3 big goal before I think of this one. Also need to spend more time around small children (part of goal #3, actually) so that I don’t turn into a wreck because of lack of children in my life (if this sounds creepy, I’m trying really hard not to be, but it’s difficult to be an adult who loves spending time with children without sounding like a creeper).

Other than that? I’ve read 8.5 books, done some sewing, and baked a souffle. It was delicious.

The “D” Word

I figure I should talk about the “D” word. That one that plagues pretty much everybody in north american society, the one that some of us pray to and others of us abhor. It’s time to talk about “Diet”.

I recently went to see a doctor for the first time in many, many years. First the horrible family doctor situation in Guelph, and then my own anxiety, kept me from making the few phone calls necessary to do this simple thing. But I had to do it. I’ve suspected for many years that I have PCOS (Poly-Cystic Ovary Syndrom) and the symptoms were causing me enough distress that I had to do something about it.

And that’s why I’ve come to the “D” word, because one of the things that comes with PCOS is a high co-morbidity rate with Type 2 Diabetes. My doctor gave me a fact sheet, and a phone number for a nutritionist and sent me away with the instruction to exercise, eat low GI, and get healthy. Lucky broke me, I have no money to see said nutritionist, so I turned to good old Dr. Google. Bottom line? I should loose weight, and my previous venture into weight loss was probably the reason that one of the many problems with my body started working properly again.

But, and this is a big but, I do not believe in ‘dieting’. Low-carb, low-fat, whatever, do not make any intrinsic sense and I have seen in a quiet dramatic way what the obsession with weight and ‘health’ can do to some people. The idea of ‘going on a diet’ is terrifying and doesn’t mesh with my sensibilities. A lot of resources say that you shouldn’t ‘go on a diet’, that you should make ‘healthy lifestyle changes’ instead. Well, I’ve got a question: What the *&^(% does that mean?

The healthy recommendations are the same damn things that ‘diets’ are based off of, from what I can see. But I also know that I can’t go the hippy-dippy rout of ‘listen to your body’ because I’ve tried that and my body wanted to drink a chocolate milkshake and not eat breakfast (or have a chocolate milkshake for breakfast). I know that the more conscious I am about what I eat, and the longer I stay that way, that my body will start craving fruit and veggies or whatever but it doesn’t start by listening to my body. The idea of a Glycemic Index is hotly debated in its usefulness too, so the one thing my doctor actually told me is not something that I’m sure is helpful. I’m loathe to label and food ‘bad’ or ‘good’ (really, I’ve turned somewhat neurotic about it) because of the same reasons. Too much, or too little, can be equally harmful.

And how do I know what my target should be? BMI is a general indicator, and doesn’t take into account body type (I’ve got hips and boobs in large quantities, and cannot believe that I’d be healthy at the low range), and it doesn’t take into account muscle vs. fat.

This is where Dr. Google is not helpful. Search “Loose weight without dieting” and you get spam and diet pills, which even in my confused state I know aren’t the right thing.

So I’m doing what I did before that worked: counting calories to create a projected weight loss of 1/2lb a week, going swimming, and panicking every step of the way that I might develop an eating disorder because of this (even though I have none of the markers, and know that my body will let me know if I’m starving it by accident). Also working on eating whole grains most of the time because, even if GI is contested, I know that they provide more fiber and longer lasting energy. Other rules: never let myself go hungry, have dessert every so often, and no counting on Saturday or special occasions.

Concrete goals?

  • get back up to doing 1500m in the pool again
  • replace battery in scale
  • don’t have chocolate for breakfast

100 Books – Books 1-5

Tags

, ,

So I signed myself up for a 100 book challenge this year. I’ve always felt like I lost something when I went off to University and stopped reading every hour of the day for fun. Now that I’m out of that, I want to devote more of my time to reading again, since I no longer have the pressure of reading textbook after textbook. And so far I’m on track – I have to read slightly less that two books a week and I’ve got my first five done already! I thought, this being a goal of mine, that I should share some thoughts on the books as I read them. Since the thread on my message boards that I’m doing this with suggests reporting in every five books, I figured I’d do the same here.

Book 1: Thud                                                                                                                             By Terry Pratchett. Version: Isis Audiobook

  • I love Terry Pratchett and have been slowly making my way though his books (in audio format, mostly). This was no exception to how awesome his books generally are. Though I wouldn’t rate it in the top 10 of his many many books, I am still thrilled by how he just keeps getting better and better the farther into the series I get, unlike most other writers, and I’m always delighted to read a book about the Ankh-Morpork City Watch. The ending of this was one of the biggest laughs I’ve had in a long time, too. 

Book 2: The Wee Free Men                                                                                                                             By Terry Pratchett. Version: Corgi Paperback

  • More Pratchett. I was wonderfully surprised by this one. I was leery of reading one of the books on the witches in his discworld, as I found those to be the weakest in the series, but this one is almost completely separate from that. In-fact, I hardly felt like I was in the discworld at all, which is probably more of a factor that this was specifically a YA novel where the rest of the discworld books are for adults. The writing is quite a bit different from Pratchett’s usual, but it is a solid, fun book that I would definitely read to any kidlets who were in my possession long enough.

Book 3: Uncommon Sense for Parents with Teenagers                                                                                                                             By Michael Riera, PhD. Version: Third Edition Paperback

  • This was read for my recent course in Chicago, one of three I could have chosen picked out by the teacher. Uhhh… I am too educated to read this book. I spent the entire time cringing at the complete lack of supporting studies, citation and evidence for the claims that he’s making. Some of the things he puts in are, quite frankly, wrong or speculatively based on recent research that hasn’t undergone rigorous review and testing by the scientific community. Though, as a teacher, I might give this book to a parent who was really struggling with communicating with there teenager, I plan on finding better options before I have students of that age.

Book 4: Lone Wolf                                                                                                                             By Jodi Picoult. Version: Audiobook

  • So I’ve read My Sister’s Keepers of her other books, and I thought that was okay – I have a huge beef with the ending, but I still liked the book. This book? Oh My God. I have never before, when reading or listening to a book, actually imagined taking a copy and burning it, but I really, really was doing that in my mind when I was stuck in a car for nine hours listening to the second half of this book. When I wasn’t doing that or contemplating shooting myself, I was taking a mental red pen to most of the court scene, crossing it out and replacing it with “and we listened to everyone repeat everything we already know because we did, in fact, read the first part of the book. And the three times after that where this information was repeated.” What happened to her editor? Did she threaten them with death if they took out one pedantic, boring repeat of the father diagnosis? And the factual inaccuracies… (that link’s just about the wolves. I am still howling at the fact that she doesn’t seem to know what the weather is like in Quebec or shit all about bears). Yeah, that was painful.

Book 5: Making Money                                                                                                                             By Terry Pratchett. Version: Isis Audiobook, Paperback

  • Not as good as Going Postal, the book that links to this one in characters, but still really good. I love the character of Moist von Lipwig, and I love how Terry Pratchett started with a medieval fantasy type setting (sort of) and then started to slowly add in technology and different inventions. I can’t think of much to say on this one, actually, but I will note that though he doesn’t do it very often or very much, Pratchett is really good at the sprinkle of romance that he does throw into these books. I literally squealed with delight when Adora Belle Dearheart, aka Spike, finally reunited with Moist halfway through the book, just as I did for Angua/Carrot in Men at Arms.