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The Liar Society, by Lisa & Laura Roecker

12 Apr

Less than 24 hours ago, I settled into bed with a new book: The Liar Society, by sisters Lisa and Laura Roecker. Less than ten minutes ago, I finished it.

Dude, y’all.

I am not the fastest reader. I tend to snuggle into books, take my time with them, read every single word. It is rare that I finish a book in two sittings (which, really, would have been a single sitting were it not for my general inability to read in bed, at night, without falling asleep).

However, this book? I read every single word and still managed to fly through it at lightning speed. It was addictive. It was intriguing. It brought that old “tension on every page” piece of advice to life. I turned page after page after page, even past the last chapter and through the acknowledgments, until there were no more pages left to turn.

The best comparison I can offer to the way I felt about this book is that it reminded me of my absolute favorite TV show: LOST. Now, when I say that, I definitely don’t mean I saw any similarities in the subject matter. Aside from the fact that The Liar Society and LOST both feature main characters named Kate, there’s pretty much nothing, content-wise, that’s the same. So, why do I compare them?

Well, while watching LOST, my feelings about it were something along the lines of cannot-watch-just-one-episode-MUST-watch-another-because-I-MUST-see-what-happens-next! mixed with dude-I’d-better-slow-down-because-pretty-soon-I’ll-run-out-of-episodes-and-then-I’ll-be-sad.

This is exactly how I felt while reading The Liar Society. I devoured chapter after chapter, chewing on the little brain snacks (read: clues to solve Kate’s mystery) the authors left along the way. And the ending? Well, it totally delivered. The only thing it left me hungry for is another book by these authors. (And maybe a Starbucks. Kate loves her Starbucks, and that is so something I understand.)

I’ve talked a lot about how this book made me feel, but at the heart of it, I think the reason comes down to this: I appreciate solid writing, and everything about this book was solid. The plotting was water-tight. The character motivations, actions, and reactions were thoroughly developed and well-executed. The setting was vivid and sprawling, a fun playground for my brain to wander around in. The main character, Kate, used logic, wisdom, and good old common sense. In my opinion, this made her extremely likable and easy to relate to (not to mention, easy to root for).

So, yes. Put this one on your to-read list, like, ASAP. (Seriously. Here‘s its Goodreads page.) And to Lisa and Laura, if you happen to read this, THANK YOU for writing such a fun and fabulous book. It inspires me to write more, and to take the time to write well.

Massive Update Like Whoa!

31 Jan

Dear Blogosphere (and Twitterverse, while I’m at it)—

I’m so not ignoring you. I know it must look that way, as it’s been FOR.EV.ER since I last posted. But, seriously: I have a good reason.

It’s called morning sickness. I’ll spare you the details.

Since I’m feeling well enough to type out a little update this morning, here goes. Yes, it’ll be mostly pictures, but whatevs—who doesn’t love pictures, right?

The past two weeks have been full of things like the following:

Yes, that is an ARC of Elana Johnson’s not-soon-enough-to-be-released novel, Possession, which debuts in early June! Yes, it was a page-turner! Yes, you want to put it on your to-read list. Here’s a link to the Goodreads page.

Thanks to the lovely Liza Kane—and the rest of the Internet, who simultaneously and inexplicably exploded their love for Veronica Mars one day last week—I proceeded to get myself hooked on the series. I am only, like, seven episodes in to the series, and I know I’m ridiculously behind the rest of the world. That said? DO NOT SPOIL IT FOR ME. Or else.

I have joined the ranks of e-reader readers. Thanks to this post by the fabulous Natalie Whipple, I decided to devote a good chunk of my birthday money to a sleek gray Kindle like the one you see here. Before Natalie’s post, I wasn’t sold on how useful it would be to me, but since I do a fair amount of beta reading (and, let’s face it, regular reading) I decided to take the plunge. The verdict? AMAZING.

These Jamba Juice Sorbet & Yogurt Bars are INCREDIBLE. I’ve been eating the Vanilla Strawberry Jubilation flavor, but while looking for a photo to use—the one pictured above—I stumbled across a whole blog post that informed me of four other incredibly incredible looking flavors. Want…neeeeeeeeed…

And, finally, we have Seryn. This band is fantastic. I posted a shout-out about them on Twitter last week, and I’ll say it again—check out their music. They’re wicked talented and their sound is chill in a really refreshing way. PS: I am not just saying that because I’m friends with three-fifths of the band. (The bass player, the awesome dread-headed girl, and the one with the banjo, FYI.) They just released their first album last week—it’s called This is Where We Are, and you can find it on iTunes or listen to a sample here. [UPDATE! Paste Magazine posted a video of the title track from Seryn's new ablum—you can watch it here.]

Okay, that’s it for now. Must get back to watching Veronica Mars. I’ll post again soon, but disclaimer: my MWF posting schedule may be a bit erratic for a while.

Eight

14 Sep

Since it’s still just-returned-from-vacation week, I have another not-too-serious post for today!  Linda tagged me in one of those Q&A posts where you’re supposed to fill it out and tag more people.  Five people, to be exact.  I may or may not follow that rule.  We’ll see.

I like this little Q&A because it’s only eight questions long.  It was fun to read Linda’s answers, so that convinced me to go ahead and participate, too.  So here goes!

one

If you could have any superpower, what would you pick?  Why?

It’s a toss-up between telekinesis and flying.  How awesome would it be to swish my finger/eyes/thoughts and knock something off a shelf?  Or summon my coffee cup from across the room?  (Side note: I wonder if telekinesis comes with the ability to control whether or not the coffee spills?  Or, if that’s a skill you can only acquire once you have the power?)

Flying is pretty self-explanatory, right?  Who wants to sit in traffic?  (Correct answer: not me.)  Plus, it would be sort of awesome to see things from above and feel the wind in my hair.  Sort of scary, too.  (And I’d probably end up with some wicked awful frizzed-out curls.  But oh well.  The awesome factor might just trump the scary and frizz factors.)

two

Who is your style icon?

Style icon.  Uh…style icon…  Can I say the J.Crew catalog models?  They always look fabulous and stylish, and I would love to put outfits together like they do.  I try.  I have a feeling I do not yet succeed.

three

What is your favorite quote?

“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

In case you’re unfamiliar, this is a quote from the Bible.  I love it because it pretty much sums up Christianity in one smart, beautiful sentence.  It’s pretty much pronoun central, though, so here’s help if it’s confusing: the ‘He’ refers to God, the ‘Him’ refers to Jesus, the ‘our’ and  ‘we’ refer to any who believe, the last ‘Him’ again refers to Jesus.

four

What is the best compliment you’ve ever received?

Um…I don’t know.  I tend to get compliments on my singing voice and on my hair, but I think the one I’m most digging right now is the fact that Linda and Melissa pretty much enjoyed the draft I just finished.  This means the most because I’ve worked the hardest at the book (as compared with my singing and my hair).  It’s also the hardest compliment to believe, because I’m such a stinking perfectionist and I know it still needs work.  (I’m choosing to trust and believe them, though, since they were also honest about the draft’s weaknesses.)

five

What playlist/CD is in your iPod/CD player right now?

For being such a musical person, you’d be surprised at how much music I don’t listen to.  I haven’t listened to my iPod in months and hardly turn on background music.  If I do turn it on—resist the urge to laugh here, y’all—my playlist, lately, is a compilation of songs from LOST. This list includes Mama Cass, Petula Clark, Patsy Cline, and Buddy Holly.  I want some DriveShaft, but can’t seem to find it anywhere.

Classic favorites of mine include Patty Griffin, Sheryl Crow, and the entire RENT soundtrack.

six

Are you a night owl or a morning person?

Mornings.  Absolutely, no question.

seven

Do you prefer cats or dogs?

This is like asking if I like lattes.

Remy in the Drawer

Dexter the Kitty

How could I not be a kitty person, with these guys?

eight

What is the meaning behind your blog name?

(I copied this answer from the comment section of one of Linda’s old posts, where she asked this question.)

When I first started the blog, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to remain anonymous or not. I didn’t know who I’d meet, didn’t know if they’d have their names out there, didn’t know if it would be a good or bad risk to get mine out there.

So, I chose something else. “Owl and Sparrow” kind of just came to me, but I wanted to have some reason for it. It’s been so long since I came up with it, I’d almost forgotten I’d chosen it for a reason.

I chose the “Owl” half because owls are viewed in conflicting ways by different cultures. Some see them as a symbol of death and evil, others see them as a symbol of wisdom. As a writer who was just beginning to put her opinions out there, it was a good reminder for me that not everyone sees things in the same way. Some people might take offense to what I write, others might think it’s the best thing ever.

The “Sparrow” half of it, well, it’s also a reminder of conflicting images, and hope. Sparrows are common, nothing terribly special about them. In the Bible, though, Jesus says God knows and cares even about the sparrows – “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are numbered. So don’t be afraid; for you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matt. 10:29) This was a reminder of hope and worth, despite insignificance.

Putting the owl (wisdom/death) with the sparrow (humility/hope) seemed like a good thing to do. Plus, I just liked the words and how they sounded.

So, there you go.

Alright.  End of Q&A session.  Two bits of stuff I shall close with: first, I don’t feel like tagging anyone but would love to read y’all’s answers.  Participate if you want to, let me know in the comments when you post, and I’ll update this post with links to your websites.  Second: I realize there are two Bible verses in this post, and that many of you are not Bible-believing people.  Please don’t read my answers as here-why-don’t-I-just-shove-the-Bible-in-your-face sort of answers—I merely chose to answer honestly, and that’s what came out.

Happy Tuesday, friends!  Again, let me know if you post your own answers, and I’ll link to you.

(UPDATE: So far, LCD and Agatha82 have posted their own answers.  Check out their blogs, if you haven’t already!)

Coming up this week: FINALLY, the rest of my comparison series.  For reals this time, yo.

The Verdict | Creativity Workshop Goals, Week 3

24 May

As you might imagine, on the morning after the Lost series finale, my head feels like popcorn popping in a microwave.  (I won’t spoil anything, promise.)  Ben Linus.  Smoke Monster.  Time.  Death.  Life.  Jack, Kate, Sawyer.  Locke.  Flocke.  Lemon-raspberry tart, jungle plates, apple crisp.  Guacamole, cabernet.  Vacuum.  Dishes.  Seating arrangement for nine in a tiny apartment living room.

Now that all the planning is over, the processing of what just happened? has begun.  Thus, I’ve already succumbed to the distractions of message boards, EW.com, and a let’s-discuss-this! phone call with my mom.  Finally, I tore myself away for productivity’s sake.  For now.

You might have guessed it already, but I, um, didn’t quite meet my Creativity Workshop goals this week.  Yeah, yeah, yeah, I blasted off with a full tank of fuel back on Tuesday, when I posted about the flamin’ ladybug story — trouble was, much as I REALLY REALLY REALLY wanted (and still want) to spend time on it, it was an altogether strange week.  Admittedly, the most I did on my story this week was to plan it and get way excited about it.

Though party-planning and general I’m-so-excited-yet-sorta-sad-that-I-get-to-find-out-how-Lost-ends bubbly feelings dominated the weekend, that’s not the only reason I was unproductive.  A few of the weekdays were just plain difficult, in terms of some personal stuff going on, and my willpower lacked its usual oomph.  On the days where the oomph was alive and kicking, I made some great progress on my novel edits and at the gym.  I was thisclose to completing a section of the novel, so when it came time to work, I gravitated toward that.

The good thing?

I’m not discouraged.  Still excited, actually, and encouraged that I made progress with the novel and the gym.  It’s really tempting to write the ladybug story this week instead of doing the third story in the set, but: no.  That would put a bad habit into motion, I think.  As excited as I am about it, I shall shelf it for now, knowing I have a great idea to come back to in the future.  Instead, it’s time to press on.

It’s especially tempting to write the ladybugs when I look ahead to this week’s project: Little Bo Peep and severed tails.  What in sideways world am I going to do with that?

No.  Clue.

(Yet.)

Okay, dudes.  I’m feeling that good old oomph right now, so I should strike while it’s hot.  The first goal of the rest of this week: get writing stuff done before I allow myself any more Lost message-board perusal.  Then, I’ll tackle the rest of the week.

PS: That picture of Benjamin Linus and his #8 bunny is a limited edition screenprint made by Todd Slater.  I want this.

Shadows, Sun, Stillness

21 Apr

Peace.  Today seems like it just might be full of it.

Unlike yesterday.

Yesterday, I learned that for some people, nothing goes better with 8:30am sun and breeze than a good, loud dose of rap music.  Bonus points if said music echoes through the entire courtyard when others are trying to concentrate.

I also learned that my idea of proper laundry room etiquette doesn’t exactly line up with everyone else’s.  Seriously, just because I got up early to use the four washing machines, it doesn’t mean I might want to dry my clothes right after that, you know?  It’s perfectly fine with me if you disregard the usual order of who-got-there-first and dump your own wet laundry in the dryer right when I’m about to use it.  Perfectly.  Fine.¹

But, whatever.  It was a sunny day, albeit a loud and laundry-filled day, and I did my best to be patient.  The music stopped, eventually, and my clothes are dry and folded.²  Even though my DVR somehow managed to not record Glee, it was still Tuesday: Lost-day.  Plus, my friend brought me a free non-fat latte and some Shiner for our midnight Lost-viewing refreshments.  (Public Service Announcement: there’s a reason Starbucks doesn’t make Grande Non-Fat Beer Lattes.)

Today, though: aaaaaahhhhhhh.

I can smell peace, and it smells like green grass and potted plants.  It sounds like breeze in the leaves, and the on-going conversation between the two little red birds who sit in those leaves.  It’s sun and shadows, and the fact that they’re shifting slowly.  It’s stillness.  This day will not escape me like yesterday did.

I’m fully aware that inner peace and circumstantial peace are two separate things.  Sometimes, though, circumstantial cacophony has its way of drowning out inner peace’s calm voice.  Today, the two peaces are having a nice little conversation.  I hope it’s a long one.

Better take advantage of this morning, so I’m off to start reading the last few chapters of Linda’s novel!  (PS: Go read Linda’s latest post, and not just because she says nice things about yours truly.  It’s full of honest perspective on rejection and the often discouraging querying process.)

I wish you all a peaceful day of sun, breeze, and birds.  (Singing birds, as opposed to creepy Alfred Hitchcock birds.  Also as opposed to the visually challenged kinds of birds who nosedive into windows, or birds who mistake big hair for their nests/toilets.)

¹I guess I should add, in her defense, that she cleaned her clothes in her own washer and they happened to need drying at the same time as mine.  Being dryer-less, what else was she to do?  Wait?  Though I understand where she’s coming from, it had a frustrating effect on me nonetheless, due to the way I had scheduled my day.  (Got up early to do laundry, only to have it take way longer than expected due to Dryer Girl.)  Add rap music to the mix, and the frustration was turned all the way up to eleven.  (This Is Spinal Tap, anyone?)

²As for dry, folded, and put away?  Not so much.

My Good Intentions? Totally Smoke-Monstered.

5 Mar

So.

You could say my life has been like Season Six of LOST lately, that I am stuck in a strange sideways world where things are mostly good but a little off, a little unusual.

You could also say my life has been like this week’s episode of LOST, where [MAJOR SPOILER ALERT AHEAD] [NO, SERIOUSLY, LIKE IF YOU EVER WANT TO WATCH LOST AND HAVEN'T, YOU TOTALLY DON'T WANT ME TO SPOIL THIS FOR YOU] [RACHEL, IF YOU'RE STILL READING, YOU'RE IN TROUBLE BECAUSE THESE SHOUTY ALERTS ARE MAINLY FOR YOUR BENEFIT] the Smoke Monster wreaks havoc on the Temple-dwellers, carrying them kicking and screaming to their own demise.

Okay, so it’s not totally like that.  Kind of, though.  I do feel like I’ve been swept up into a Bizarro World, and that my time has been Smoke-Monstered (and in this analogy, all of my good intentions = the doomed Temple-dwellers).  Usually, I’m the super-organized Queen of Self-Discipline, which makes it all the more annoying that I can’t put my finger on exactly where the time went.  Also usually, whenever I can’t put my finger on exactly where the time went, it’s safe to say I was perusing blogs or reading helpful articles about writing, but alas, I’m far behind on all of that stuff, too.

Fortunately, today is gorgeous and I have a large chunk of hours awaiting me.  I’ve planted myself (along with a too-thick stack o’ stuff) at Starbucks, and I’m going to WORK.  

And, oh, how much more productive I’d be if only I could get that episode-closing creepy-chilling rendition of  “Catch A Falling Star” out of my head.

Revision Update, Phase Two | Time has been ambushed by the Smoke Monster, and my good intentions are trapped in a pit à la Crazed Claire.  No progress has been made (gasp!) since last update, but luckily?  No progress also means no backward progress.  Time for a step forward.

Yellow Rainboots

8 Feb

Do you ever have those weeks that, when you get to the other end of them, feel like the past seven days were actually only one day?  That’s what I feel like right now.  It’s like I blinked, and BOOM: one day I was writing about my excitement over the LOST premiere, and then the next day (or, um, almost a week later) here I am wondering how I managed to take an unintentional week-long hiatus from blogging.

So.  I’m back, and I missed everyone!  I spent some of this morning catching up on posts I hadn’t read yet (for example, check out Merrilee’s latest on dealing with criticism: it’s greatness!).  The rest of the morning, I wore my yellow rainboots (both literal and figurative) since our parking lot is a river in this weather, and also since I’m still muddling through Phase One of Project: Edit.

Though I didn’t finish reading by Friday like I hoped I would, I don’t have too much more to do to finish out Phase One.  The Plan (detailed in this post) is going well.  My colored pens have not yet dried out, my spiral notebook isn’t in such pristine shape anymore, and I have thoughts of all sorts on how to make this thing better.  The pacing is more even than I thought it was, my plots and sub-plots are woven pretty well, and I haven’t seen too many loose ends just yet.  As suspected, the scenes are getting better as I read – they aren’t as skeletal as they were toward the beginning of the draft.  There are definitely areas that need work, but by and large it’s a huge improvement over the first draft.  

Anyway!  Time to get back to work if I want to put a bigger dent in today’s to-do list.  Better slip back into my cute yellow rainboots and grab my adorable new umbrella.

(FYI, the umbrella is a floral print of hot pink and yellow, with a navy blue backgrount: matches gray skies and yellow rainboots perfectly!)

Revision Update, Phase One | 245 pages down, 91 to go | 72.9% finished!

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