Wednesday, February 24, 2010

contest entry

This is the prompt and story I entered to win my Reckoning Arc

Contest time! Is there a “haunted house” in your neighborhood? In your town? Tell me a bit about it in the comments!The house next store to mine doesn't like people. It would go through a new set of owners every 3-5 years. It's a beautiful house, all brick, nice porch, at the very end of a culdesac. It's lake front, with the woods off to one side and a field off to the other. We were on our third set of new neighbors when the incident happened. My friend was spending the night and we were watching the craft and gossiping. We were only about 10, so my chief complaint was my neighbors. The youngest boy had been chasing my dog up and down the fence the other day trying to spray it with wd40. The oldest threw rocks at me while I jumped on the trampoline and tried to shoot the side of the house with a bbgun, and the parents were always drinking and yelling. Knowing the houses creepy history of getting rid of neighbors ( the last set had moved after their toddler crawled under his parents bed and found a rattle snake, the couple before that moved because they swore up and down ab aligator lived in the lake and sunned in the yard (man made lake, actually just there to collect rain water, doesn't even have fishies) ) we decided to help it along. We went outside under the plum trees and performed a little craft ritual asking to get rid of the neighbors. Moments later we heard them arguing, then screaming, a shot was fired and my friend and I ran inside and hid under the bed vowing never to play witches again, and promising to go to church the next morning. For months no one saw the neighbors, they're lawn grew so high the neighborhood council worried about wildfires and snakes that may be living in the grass. My friend and I told no one what we heard so no one thought anything was amiss. A few months later when my dog got out it ran to their backyard. We followed. It pushed open their back door (evidently unlocked and ajar) and ran inside. We were scared but I loved my dog an couldn't just abandon it. We went inside. There were toys on the floor, shoes by the door, everything in place except a shattered glass figure by the wall. The kitchen window was broken from the inside, the glass spilled onto the porch. The bedrooms were a wreck, clothes thrown everywhere. We fully expected to find bodies but the house was empty. Grabbing my dog we ran home and never did find out what happened to those neighbors. A cranky old couple lives there now. Thus far the house has made no move against them, I figure it's because they're so close to joining the spirit world on their own, but you never know.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

baby update

resting and feeling better (I hope) still the cutest baby ever

The Reckoning


Yesterday I received my advanced readers copy of Kelley Armstrong's, The Reckoning. It could not have come at a better time. The husband and I are both sick with a cold that we caught from the baby (go figure, no clue where she got it), who is of course miserable and also teething. Bella is taking her illness like a champ though, we get the occasional tears, but for the most part she just doesn't want to sleep. Her dad and I have been taking turns sitting up with her in the rocking chair, and reading this book made my shift so much better! I needed a treat, and man did this provide it.
So how did I, a lowly blogger in Georgia get ahold of one of the New York Times best selling authors latest installment to her young adult series? I won a contest in which I told the story of my neighbors creepy house. (I'll be posting that later, all true, I swear). Kelley Armstrong is exactly the type of writer I hope to be should I ever get published. She has a great website a myspace page, a face book page (why does blogger acknowledge myspace and not face book in spell check?) a twitter page, and a page for her young adult series here. Technically the myspace page is Chloe's. Anyhow, she interacts with her readers, and has contests, and proofs their work if they request it, and has a message board where you can ask her questions, and actually responds to her emails. She's amazing, and her books are great... and now I'm sounding like a creepy stalker fan, so onto the review.

THE RECKONING
is technically the third book in her young adult series, "The Darkest Powers." Young adult books are different in degree not kind, so grownups like myself are not too good for this series :), its just like her adult books (Bitten, Stolen, and other women of the other world books) only with no sex, which to me isn't a drawback. My husband even likes her books, I read them out loud to him on our many trips to Atlanta (sans the sex scenes cause MAN, would that be awkward to read out loud to my husband as the baby plays with her toys in the backseat). Anyhow, the series stars a young necromancer named Chloe Saunders who is just coming into her powers and gets shipped off to a group home for troubled teens. At this home she discovers other supernaturals like herself, and discover that she is part of an experiment to produce better supernaturals, only problem is it worked too well and the children of the experiment are more powerful than they can handle. You can read the entire first book online for free here along with fairly large excerpts of her next two books. Plot wise, this is pretty much all I can tell you without giving away any details, and that just wouldn't be nice to do when Kelley Armstrong included such a nice note asking me not to divulge any plot details online. So what you see above is less detail than is written on the back of the first two books.

What I thought

Most trilogies follow a formula. The first book is generally the best, it can stand alone, but it does leave you wanting for more, traditionally on an upbeat note as the heroes venture off on their adventure. The second book typically has all the action with a tragic death and ends on a note of hopelessness, and the third book wraps everything up nice a neatly, but typically can't live up to the hype (note that star wars did a reverse of this in episodes 1-3) This doesn't exactly follow that formula. In a good way. The protagonist wants to write screenplays when she grows up, so she's fast to point out how their situation would play out if it was a movie, then explains the more realistic approach they took. I love that, its funny, tongue and cheek, and very accurate.
A striking contrast between this book and its prequels was the steady scenery. The characters stay in one place for awhile, and its a change. The characters suffer cabin fever, and we get to see different sides of them then we have in the past.
I was a little worried about the pacing, it wasn't moving slow, but I shouldn't have, the book read perfectly, it wasn't moving too fast or too slow, and while the grand finale was action packed (as grand finales should be) that wasn't every bit of action for the book.
Three things happened in this book that I cannot disclose.
One I guessed would occur, but thought would be a much bigger deal plot wise. I appreciated that it wasn't, it was one of those "In real life as opposed to movie," moments.
One I knew would occur, and made me smile
And one thing I really really hoped would work out but can completely understand why it didn't but hope to see more of in the future (vague enough for you, lol, sorry, I'll clarify after the release date)
The ending was typical for Kelley Armstrong, and well done. Things wrap up but it has that moment of "well in fiction things would have ended up like a, b, and c. Have I mentioned how much I like that aspect of her books?
A character I'm surprised I like, Tori. I hated her in the first book, she was mean, but she grew on me, and one thing that helped is that no one has forgotten how mean she was. Armstrong doesn't pull a lost and go, "No, Ben has never hurt a fly. Why don't we trust him?" No one has forgotten how Tori acted in book one, and they won't let her forget. The characters inability to move past it helps me move past it because I don't feel like I'm being manipulated into liking this character. There's an element of poor little rich girl there, but it doesn't excuse what she did.
A character I would like to see more of?
Simon. Don't get me wrong, he was in every scene, but with so many strong personalities its kind of easy to forget he's there. Every now and then he'll speak up to agree with Chloe, but mostly it was just supposed to remind the reader he was there. It's not a flaw in the writing, his character is a well developed, easy going, easy to get along with guy in a room full of opinionated people. He's just going to put his two cents in and then remain silent. My husband does the same thing when my brother, cousin, and I argue politics at Thanksgiving dinner. (Maybe that's why I want to see more of Simon, lol, his personality is a lot like my husbands.) He has a large number of solo scenes with chloe, in fact the solo scenes with Chloe were very well balanced between the three main characters, but I wanted more interaction between him and everyone else.
My favorite character?
chloe, I'm jealous, if I had been that level headed and intelligent as a teen... well I wasn't really ever in a situation where it would have made much of a difference, but still, she's smart, and resourceful, and exactly the sort of book protagonist young girls should be reading about. This is not a girl who is going to fall into a deep depression if her vampire lover leaves her randomly in the forest. (I like the twilight books, I just hate Bella Swan, my Bella and I are going to have a long talk about healthy relationships versus unhealthy relationships when she's old enough to read them) this is not a girl who would be ok with being stalked, threatened, and belittled. She has her own mind, thoughts and opinions, and they will be heard. It's well balanced though, because she's wrong for every time she's right.

I haven't said much about Derrick. He reminds me of Clay from the Men of the Otherworld stories. He's not a carbon copy by any means, the similarities have a fairly strong reason behind them. He's a great character. He's the sort of guy that I would have thought was amazing when I was actually the target audience for this novel. Back when I thought that if two people argued enough it meant they had strong feelings for each other (well watch any chick flick, tv show, read any book, or heck, watch children's cartoon and tell me there's anything other than a love hate relationship out there) He's protective, and sweet while fierce and smart, and all of that good stuff. Also he has the ability to admit when he's wrong (take notes hubby). I have no complaints or insights regarding his character, just a well done.

Overall a very strong plot, strong characters, and great pacing. I could only hope to write this well.

You know what job I want? I can't find it anywhere, I don't know if it's actually out there. I would love to just read arcs. Reviewers do it, presumably someone in the publishing industry reads the books to see if they are worth publishing. How do you get that job? Heck, I'd do it free. I'd pay to do it. Especially for Kelley Armstrong books, if I could be one of her advanced readers for all of her books... well that would rock.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Couponing

So I went to a mommy meetup yesterday and learned all about couponing from one of our moms who saves like a hundred bucks every time she goes grocery shopping. See, I suck at coupons, I'm an advertisers dream, when I get a coupon I buy an item I wouldn't normally buy, or buy a brand thats more expensive than my norm. But I think I may do better now thanks to this website. I can use a manufacturers coupon, a store coupon, and a competitors coupon for the same item! Also publix buy one get one free items are actually just half off both item, so if you have a buy one get one free coupon its like 1/4th of the price. My head is spinning with all this information, lol, so I'm going to work on my grocery list, and let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Babies, Babies, Everywhere

Both of my former neighbors had their babies this week. Bella, my husband and I will be heading to Atlanta on Friday night for a Valentines dinner at the Melting Pot (we go Friday so we don't have to buy the $200 valentines meal) and drop off baby gifts quickly. I say quickly because I remember how much I resented anyone entering my space for any length of time during my first two weeks with my daughter. It was very confusing because I was also grateful, so we're just avoiding that altogether by taking a quick peek at the baby, congratulating the parents and moving on.
Bella will be with us, but I think she's going to stay strapped in her seat to avoid giving the new baby germs. Though is she old enough for that to be a concern yet? She played with some babies at the library this week and had a blast (well until an adorable six month old stole her rattle, and now she's super possessive of everything she owns) In any case, Bella will me meeting her future best friend, and future boyfriend ;) fun times

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Leap Year

I saw Leap Year this weekend with my Mil, and let me tell you how happy I am that I waited until it was in the dollar theater. It was terrible! I love chick-flicks, but this was the slowest moving, frustratingly pointless movie I've seen in a long time. Amy Adams was in it, so I know it wasn't the fault of the actors. I think it was just poor writing. Pretty scenery though.
The whole premise is this uptight girl who plans everything through wants to marry her fiance so she goes to Dublin to propose to him on leap day. Warning, spoilers abound.

Her trip to Dublin is cursed from the get-go, bad weather makes her plane touch down in England, and she gets to Ireland eventually, but is a good days drive away from her destination. She finds someone to drive her, a bar/hotel owner/cabbie, who hates her right off the bat for no apparent reason. He gets plenty of reasons soon enough, but the hate at first sight was a little off-putting. They run into all sorts of obstacles prior to making it to Dublin, the largest being that his car went off the road making him useless for the duration of the trip.
Seriously, she's paying him $500 euros to take her to Dublin, and she walks halfway, and gets a bus the rest of it. Why is he being paid?
Apparently to follow her around and make snide comments about her fiance. But everything changes when they're mistaken for a married couple, and all of the sudden theres this romantic tension. Why? I have no idea! He's been mean, she's been atrocious, and they have zero common ground, but apparently this is enough to make her question her stable relationship of FOUR YEARS. Granted, the guy is kind of a jerk, but no worse than her, and certainly no worse They had no chemistry, and every line of dialogue was followed by long pauses to infuse some sort of meaning I guess, but mostly just made it sound clunky and unnatural.
Blech, Thumbs up for the scenery, but since I can get a post card with the pretty pictures of Ireland, I give this movie a star.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

So much to do

I've been busy lately, and its been awesome. I think I crave time where I have nothing to do. "If I had more time I'd... paint, write, whatever," I wouldn't. I would sit and do nothing and sleep all hours of the day, sad but true. It may be different if I had the car all day, but I don't, so... sitting and doing nothing for me.
I'm so glad I'm taking these classes in school, I dreaded it, but they force me out of the house twice a week, and better yet force me to use my brain and think and write. I've also been working hard to stay on top of the housework, and lately been working on my business taxes with Turbo Tax... I should be done with that tommorow. Then I can do personal taxes.
I've been doing a lot with the mommies group, and that's been a blast. Having people to talk to is great, and getting out of the house for some "me" time is just what I needed.
I've also been drinking three bottles of water a day, which almost gives me the 8 glasses of water I need. I'm thinking of upping it to four bottles, since you're supposed to get an extra 8 ounces for every 25 pounds you're over weight, plus extra if you're exercising, which I have been lately... so maybe. I'm trying to take it slow, because I've made efforts to drink more water in the past, and I always start out strong and then just... dwindle.
I'm not seeing much of a difference though. My skin is still dried out, which is new for me, I typically have normal to oily skin, but since I've had Bella I've been getting dried patches. I'm not dropping any weight, and my lips are still dry. Maybe I should add that other water?
It is my goal to exercise 30 minutes every day, and eventually do a yoga routine when I wake and before bed. Right now I'm adding the 30 minutes, and that goes all right most weekdays. Weekends I'm lazy with my husband. I can do my thirty minutes on the exercise bike while watching grays anatomy on the computer :) It makes me happy.
I've also been making healthier choices food wise.... well snack wise at least. Apple bars, fruits, wheat thins, and fig newtons (which are not the cookie I remember... there's another cookie out there that looks like them...) No change yet, but its early yet.
I've been spending lots of time with the baby and been doing more listening to my husband, its been going great.
I do spend an unhealthy amount of time thinking about things I can't change. I play this game in my head where Im granted 3 wishes and I go back and rewrite my life. I'm happy with my life, its just nitpicky details, I end up in the same place (well, ok, in a house in atlanta, but close enough) with my husband and my baby. Nothing actually changes, but I would have graduated sooner, not had debt... ect. Then it gets bigger, well if I could change anything would't I be rich? And all the things I would do with the money, but nothing major changes. I used to do this same game when I was younger, I'd take these classes in school rather than those, and then I'd graduate early, I'd make this grade.. ect. It's not healthy and I need to stop
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