Friday, January 27, 2012

Feature and Follow Friday #6:

Feature & Follow Friday is a weekly social blog hop between book bloggers. There are two hosts: Parajunkee and Alison of Alison Can Read. If you want to join in, click on either of their blogs to get the details. The FF question of the day is:

Q: Which book genre do you avoid at all costs and why?

I think that I probably avoid certain sub-genres. For example, I like certain works of historical non-fiction, but I'm not interested in historical military non-fiction. I'm also typically not interested in spiritual or self-help books. What else? Humor! I dislike joke books and works by comedians.  In terms of fiction, I'll read any genre. I'm sure there must be an exception to that rule, but I can't think of it. I also dislike books that are meant to be hip or ironic. In other words, if it's being sold at Urban Outfitters, I will probably dislike it. Finally, I'm not interested in books about sports.

Just for fun, I compiled a top ten list of books that exemplify the sub-genres I'm not interested in. I've highlighted in blue the ones that I have read. If you put a gun to my head, I could read each of these without vomiting, but short of violent threats, I'm going to steer clear:

1. ME TALK PRETTY ONE DAY by David Sedaris. 

2. ARE YOU THERE, VODKA? IT'S ME, CHELSEA  by Chelsea Handler
3. SEINLANGUAGE by Jerry Seinfeld



6. DOMO IN THE WORLD by Kate T. Anderson




10. THE SECRET by Rhonda Byrne

P.S. I'm always open to changing my mind, so if anyone has read any of the above and loved it, let me know!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Third Sentence Thursday: DON'T LOOK BACK

Time to play Third Sentence Thursday, a blog game (somehow I prefer this description to "meme") hosted by Proud Brook Nerd.  Here are the rules: "take the book you are currently reading and post the third sentence of the third chapter. Feel free to share one or two of the following sentences, if you’d like."

I'm reading another Nordic Noir (I love this moniker for Scandinavian thrillers/mysteries). Today it's DON'T LOOK BACK by Karin Fossum.

The third of the third:

He had four pieces of flat-bread stacked on top of each other with butter and sugar in between; his record was six.
The "he" in this sentence references to Raymond Lake (there's a mark over the "a" that I've never seen before, but I'm digressing). Raymond has Down's syndrome, and the book opens with him sort of kidnapping a little girl. Being kidnapped seems like one of those states that are akin to being pregnant: you either are or you aren't. Fossum employs ambiguity so well that it's acceptably unclear to the reader whether Lake is sinister, child-like, or possibly both.   

This third sentence is drastically different from last week's unsuccessful attempt. The writer manages to tell me that Raymond eats like this all the time, which says something about how he lives, that he likes sweet starches, and that he compares the levels of his sandwich to all the previous sandwiches he's eaten, like they're towers that are difficult to build. I'm envious of Fossum for this sentence, because it packs so much in. It's definitely the sort of sentence I want to emulate in my own work.

I'm about halfway through the novel, and it appears that the in-between kidnapping by Lake of a young girl is just a device to lead into the discovery of the body of a teenager. I'm really hoping that by the end, the beginning will be tied in more strongly to the main plot. Otherwise, the book will have been like an episode of "Law and Order": a series of thrilling events that are meant to lead you from one scene to the next, but that don't follow any of the events through to their logical conclusions. 

As a viewer, I feel like either the writers think I won't notice that there are gaping plot holes, or they don't care. Either way, I feel vaguely insulted. I'm really enjoying DON'T LOOK BACK, and I'm rooting for Fossum to not insult me in the end.  If you like mysteries, particularly Nordic ones, I'd recommend DON'T LOOK BACK. If the end is disappointing, I'll come back to update!

UPDATE: I've finished DON'T LOOK BACK. The ending is so ambiguous that I'm not certain who the killer is! It's got a good twist that pulls all the plot threads together, but I just can't understand why the author left the reader to figure out "who dunnit." Maybe it's a problem in the translation, but whatever the reason, you are now forewarned that the end of this book will leave you confused and contemplative.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Cranky Divorcee Advises Hermione and Holden

The eternal winter of my discontent continues tonight. I was on the verge of throwing up my hands and letting Hermione Granger and Holden Caufield, from Amanda Nelson of BookRiot's list of the Top Ten Made-Up Literary Couples get together without my advice.  They're kids; what does it really matter? But my better nature won out. Youthful ignorance isn't bliss, and it's my duty as an advice columnist to the fictional to pass along my hard-won wisdom.

Hermione, there are a few things you ought to know before you hook up with Holden. There are lots of guys who can be pegged as a "type" that you should date in your teens and twenties.These boys are like illnesses: you need to be exposed to them, suffer, and recover, in order to build an immunity. Let's examine a brief and incomplete list of types:

1. Angst Monsters
2. Musicians/Poets/Artists
3. Bad boys
4. Wounded Birds

Holden is a Type 4, with a healthy dash of Type 1. He's bright, entertaining, rebellious and thoughtful. He's also confined to a psych ward. So let's analyze where this relationship could possibly go.

(Image via The Sexy Little Nerd)

That's right--nowhere! But that's all right. You should be with Holden to cure your savior complex. I'm not a fan of your relationship with Ron, so I may be a bit biased. But let's face it: Ron is not the brightest, funniest, or cutest. He's also not the least whiniest. He's not your equal, but with constant exposure to him, and limited opportunities to meet any another guys, you've come to expect that you should save the guy you're with from whatever trouble he gets into.

Hermione, as the girl who used a magical device to be in two places at the same time so that you could attend more classes, you aren't applying your thirst for knowledge to relationships. Holden is the perfect guy to experiment with. But be careful about ending the relationship. You don't want to get sucked into an endless cycle where:

(How I envision Holden: Kieran Culkin as 
Igby in "Igby Goes Down")

1. You dump him.
2. He says, "I can't live without you. I'll kill myself!"
3. You take him back.
4. You get fed up again and dump him.
5. He plays the suicide card again.
Just as long as you go into the relationship with the realization that you can't "save" Holden, it should be educational and not overly disastrous. He'll get you to drop a little of that goody-two-shoes veneer, and you'll show him that the world is so much more magical than he imagined. Literally.

Holden, I'm not focusing on you because Hermione is too good for you, and you really need to grow up and work out your issues before you inflict yourself on another person. But in the short term, I think you'll learn a lot from Hermione, if you're open to the possibility.
(Image via NYT)

The real question is, which fictional man has long term relationship potential for you, Hermione? I think I've found the perfect guy for you:

 The Young Sherlock Holmes. He's brilliant, eccentric, and full of energy.  You're practically mirror images. This could be a match made in heaven!

Children, I have exhausted my supply of wisdom for the day. I will resume swanning around my boudoir, cigarette holder in hand. Farewell until next week.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Feature and Follow Friday #5: I must have that book!


Feature & Follow Friday is a weekly social blog hop between book bloggers. There are two hosts: Parajunkee and Alison of Alison Can Read. If you want to join in, click on either of their blogs to get the details. The FF question of the day is:

Q: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to get your hands on any particular book?

While I had the swine flu a couple years back, I was pretty much incapacitated. I was in bed for over two weeks, and I didn't have anyone to run errands for me. While running a high fever, I drove about 10 minutes to the bookstore to get my hands on a bunch of Sookie Stackhouse books. I had just started the series, and I needed something fun to read while I was stuck in bed cursing fate. But I was really out of it, and pretty sick, so I shouldn't have been driving. What can I say? I needed my Sookie fix. I would definitely recommend the series as excellent illness reading. They're quick, engrossing reads that don't tax your brain!

That's my fairly mild anecdote. Hopefully there will be some juicy stories about extreme measures taken to get ARCs out there, or the equivalent, as I read around the book blogs!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Third Sentence Thursday: ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD

I love games, especially ones with rules that I can retain (card games are the bane of my memory-impaired existence). Today's game is Third Sentence Thursday, and the rules are simple: "Take the book you are currently reading and post the third sentence of the third chapter. Feel free to share one or two of the following sentences, if you’d like."

I'm reading Anna Dressed in Blood, by Kendare Blake. I just started it last night, and tore through a good 3/4 of the novel. I've been wanting to read more paranormal YA horror/thrillers, and this book definitely fulfills my requirements.I like how there's plenty of gore, but it's not gratuitous. I also love that the "monster" in the book is complex, though the revelation of how Anna became both ghost and monster wasn't quite as complex as I would have liked.

The third of the third:

"Recently, since we really started moving around, she’s developed this hobby of intensely researching each new place we live."

It's interesting how isolating a sentence can highlight a weakness in a novel that you might gloss over when you're reading chapters at a time. In the case of the above sentence, the narrator, who is a nomadic ghost-hunting teenage boy, is talking about how his mother deals with their frequent moves. But reading over this sentence, I wonder why she's researching the places. It doesn't have anything to do with the reasons for their moves. They're going where the ghosts are, so does his mom want to know a lot about each new town?

I went back and the next two sentences sort of answer the question: "She says it makes it feel more like a vacation, to know places where she wants to eat and things that she wants to do when we get there. I think it makes her feel like it’s more of a home." Well, which is it? Vacation or home? What I'm getting at is that I feel like focusing on these few sentences highlights a problem in the novel which I hadn't noticed before. The mother's characterization is a little fuzzy, if you examine it closely. But, if you're reading fast, absorbed by the plot, you don't really notice this weakness in the novel. I'm curious to see if in playing this game in the future, I'll notice weaknesses I overlooked in most of the books I'm reading, or if some will appear stronger. 

In any case, I'm really loving the book, and look forward to finishing it tonight. For more third sentence posts, head on over to Proud Book Nerd.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Cranky Divorcee Takes On BookRiot's Top Ten Made-Up Literary Couples

The temperature is hovering around 0 degrees, the alarm clock of insomnia woke me at 3 a.m, and there is no more wine. All signs point to my being exceptionally cranky. Buckle up, damas y caballeros.

As attentive readers may have gathered from my indiscretion, the first couple in last week's column were Eva and Franklin, the witless parents from We Need to Talk About Kevin. The second couple were Jane Timoney and her boyfriend Matt, from the U.S. television version of "Prime Suspect," which I learned has been cancelled. Curses upon the powers that be at NBC.

Tonight, I'm putting aside the letters from troubled souls who coexist in the same fictional universes to   indulge in some cranky anti-matchmaking.  What on earth does that mean? Recently, Amanda Nelson of BookRiot posted her Top Ten Made-Up Literary Couples. I feel it's my duty, as an advice columnist to the fictional, to review these potential matches and advise the couples on their chances of finding romantic bliss.  

1. Jane Eyre & Rhett Butler. 

Perhaps this pairing was inspired by a contrary impulse. I'm prone to them myself. But how on god's green earth could anyone think that these two characters would ever give each other the time of day? Let's review.

Jane Eyre
-Impoverished but proud
Rhett Butler
-Gambles, drinks, swears, and hangs out with hookers
-Loyal only to himself
-Loves to play the bad boy
 -Comes from privileged old family who kept slaves.

Just in case our characters feel tempted to step outside their worlds and meet, I feel I must share a little information about the one with the other. Jane, Rhett Butler first meets Scarlett O'Hara, the love of his life, after eavesdropping on one of her tedious attempts to ensnare another man named Ashley (Long story; very dull). His response to her spoiled petulance was to laugh, needle, and encourage her. I'll cut to the chase: Scarlett is a Blanche. They'd get along famously. Could you ever love a man who could love a Blanche? No.

Rhett, if you met Jane, you'd feel compelled to ratchet up the "most mockingly polite gentleman that ever lived" bit, trying to get her to loosen up while reeking of booze. She'd barely speak, giving no hint of her emotional and intellectual reactions. And where would this meeting take place? Jane, you wouldn't be able to stomach the slavery of the antebellum South.  Rhett, you'd would take one look at any of the places Jane  lived and ask, "When's the next coach to London?"

Potential Happiness: Nil. Only a sadist would think to pair these two.  Now, if we were trying to pair up potential besties, Scarlett and Blanche would be unstoppable. I advise all of us in the "real world" to never shelve these books next to each. Just to be safe, I'd suggest separate rooms, if possible. 

Next week: The Cranky Divorcee takes on the potential pairing of Hermione Granger and Holden Caulfield.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Weekend Blog Hops: Outliers

The Blog Entourage

Beauty Brite Weekend Gathering HopsSince I'm participating in more blog hops this weekend (they're addictive! Insert cliche about candy here), I thought I'd share some books that I read as a kid that I've never discussed with fellow readers. I'd love to know if anybody else read these books, and what they thought (then or now).  I've written before about Quest Books: those special titles you read as a child that you can't find and reread because you don't remember any identifying information. Because I like naming things, I'm going to call the unusual books kids read Outliers.

The degree to which these books are unusual will vary, depending on the reader. I've never talked to anyone else who read the books in the list below as a child. Of course, this doesn't mean I was the only child of my age who loved these books. But Outliers aren't books you easily discuss. They're not instant bonding material. They're not the novels that serve as a touchstone for generations of readers, like Bridge to Terabithia or Sweet Valley High.   
Outliers are books that strike a personal chord with an young reader at a particular moment. To use my brother as an example (hi G.A.!), he loved books on anything WWII. One of them was a guide to identifying military aircraft. This book, whose title I've probably suppressed if I ever knew it, was totally not up my alley and fairly unusual. I'm pretty sure the other kids on the block weren't reading it. You couldn't get it at our local library. In other words, it was an Outlier.  

My Outliers

1. The Shoes series, by Noel Streatfeild. This series was actually available at my public library. They had about a dozen books from the series, in editions that were at least 30 years old in the 1980s. Does anybody else remember those hard books with the spine info. engraved, that didn't come with dust jackets or blurbs? They were some kind of special library edition. I feel like I should know what they're called, as a newly minted MLIS. But in any case, they're a dying breed in public libraries. Anyway, back to the series itself. The series is set in the WWII era, and features different girls in each book who are performers in some way--dancing, acting, skating, etc. The world they depicted was totally alien to me (I learned all kinds of weird British words). The best part was the focus on these girls as independent, talented children who lived in really interesting worlds.

The first image at the left is of an edition similar to the one I read as a child. The second image at right is one of the reprints done in the early 90s of three of the "Shoes" books. I have no words except, ugh.

2. Ivanhoe, by Sir Walter Scott. I'm not sure whether I actually liked this book, or I liked the fact that people were impressed that I was reading it. Even at the time, I knew it was not great literature, even though it was supposed to be a classic.  The anti-Semitism is out of control, and it's not that interesting of a story. But I read it to the bitter end, and was quite proud of myself. It's amazing how the opinions of other people influenced my reading choices when I was young.

3.  The Complete Book of Doll Making and Collecting. I was obsessed with this book. The projects were way beyond my capabilities, and the materials I had access to, and it wasn't like I was going to start collecting expensive antique dolls. But I pored over this thing like it was my bible. I still have my copy.

Does anyone else remember reading an Outlier from childhood?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Feature and Follow Friday #4: Favorite Music

Feature & Follow Friday is a weekly social blog hop between book bloggers. There are two hosts: Parajunkee and Alison of Alison Can Read. If you want to join in, click on either of their blogs to get the details.

Question of the Week: Many readers/bloggers are also big music fans. Tell us about a few of your favorite bands/singers that we should listen to in 2012.


I have no original or underground music suggestions, because I'm the type of person who listens to something I like until everyone around wants to poke pencils into their ears.  In college, I had a Chuck Berry phase in which I kept playing a few songs over and over in my shared dorm room: "Sweet Little Sixteen" was one, and "Johnny B. Goode" was another. I don't know how my roommate kept from strangling me. 


Today, I have the same repetitive listening patterns. Lately I've been obsessed with The Blood Arm, Cake, old Liz Phair, the Fratellis, and Robert Plant & Alison Krauss. I bet I'm going to get some new material for my obsessive-compulsive listening list as I jump around the other blogs. Onward!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

YA Highway #7

 "Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic." Today's question on the YA Highway road trip is: 

If you couldn't use your own name, what would your pseudonym or pen name be?

This seems like a question that would be fun if I were answering it for some one else.  But since I'm working towards publishing a book under my own name, I think pen name? Forget it! However. If I had to write under a pen name, my first name would probably be Claire.  In my misspent youth, my friend and I would give boys we met at a bar (trust me, the word boys applies here) another name if we thought they were creepy, or if we were just being brats. The name I used is Claire. I can't remember what my friend used.

As for a last name, I've never particularly liked mine. I would want to choose something cool. At the moment, I'm obsessed with Scandinavian procedurals, so something like "Sigurdadottir" or "Larsson" sounds cool. The coolest sounding Scandinavian last name coming to mind is also a line of clothing, but I'm going to go with it anyway.

My pen name will be Claire Leifsdottir. I think I'll have to dye my hair blonde. And figure out how exactly my last name is pronounced. The sacrifices you make to resemble your pen name. . .

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Cranky Divorcee: New Year, Same Attitude

It's been quite a while since I shared my advice for the lovelorn. Now that the holidays have passed, I'm back, ready and eager to guide the foolishly fictitious into making the right decisions in their love lives. But before I begin, I must identify the couples I last advised: the first question was about Mackie and Tate from The Replacement, by Brenda Yovanoff. The second question was about Remy and Dexter, of Sarah Dessen's This Lullaby. I will refrain from commenting on the unusual names that permeate YA fiction today.

Dear Cranky Divorcee,

I’m trying to convince my dead husband that he was wrong about our insane son.  For years, I knew he was troubled—violent, cunning, and hateful.  Now the whole world knows that I was right.  The awful things my son did might be my fault; they might not. I'll admit I hated my son, but he was impossible to love.  What I really want to know is how could I have kept my marriage from falling apart? If I could go back in time, what could I do differently? I thought nothing could come between me and my husband, but as soon as he figured out I didn’t love our son, he turned against me.

-Killer's mom

Your question is much more serious than the ones I usually address. You have suffered. Your entire family has suffered. Everyone who has ever known anyone in your family has suffered.  But as I learned more of your story, I was struck by how little evidence you gathered. If you’re trying to convince your husband that your newborn literally cries all day, record it! Haven’t you ever heard of a nanny cam? If you had confronted your husband with indisputable evidence of your claims at the very beginning, it might have made a difference to your relationship. Of course, he still might have ignored you. Denial can be powerful enough to overcome visual and auditory proof. You kept waiting and waiting for something to happen to convince your husband that something was wrong with your son, but you never changed your tactics. So, if you could turn back time, as the song goes, you should get everything Kevin does documented. 

You could then have given your husband an ultimatum—we get our son professional help (is there therapy for malevolent infants?) or I leave. The thing about ultimatums is that you have to be prepared to follow through on them. I know leaving sounds like a terrible thing to do, but without the weight of your dislike warping him, your son might have turned out better.  I’m terribly sorry I couldn’t give you more uplifting advice.  Sometimes there’s no good solution.

Next: Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before. . .

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Kreativ Blogger Award

I was nominated for a Kreativ Blogger Award by the awesome commuting girl, who has a great blog and is a future beta buddy.  Thanks, commutinggirl! The mysteriously elusive "e" at the end of "kreativ" is but one aspect of this award that I enjoy. Somehow I feel like maybe it's something the Kardashian family created. I'm not knocking it; it just shows how their mighty empire extends even to lowly bloggers.  Maybe they'll create a spin-0ff reality show in which all of us nominees/winners have to compete for the Kreativ Blogger crown. The idea of doing a reality show is less appealing to me than crawling across broken glass, but for this fantasy show? I'm totally in.

In accordance with the rules, I’m sharing 10 things you may or may not know about me, and nominating 6 more bloggers who are awesomely creative.

10 Things You may Not Know About Me

1. I have central heterochromia—the irises of my eyes are more than one color.

2. I throw nail polish bottles near (not at) the squirrels in the yard through the window to drive them away from the birdseed I’ve spread. Sometimes it works.

3. I have three master’s degrees, but can’t do fractions to save my life (right-brain learning disability for the win!)

4. I’ve never been to California (but I want to go!)

5. When I was little, I could spin forever and never get dizzy.

6. In high school, competing in Lincoln-Douglas debate tournaments was my life. Beating most of your opponents in a male-dominated activity is awesome for a teenage girl’s ego ;)

7. I’m always colder than everyone else. But it pays off in the summer, when I’m comfortable as others sweat and moan.

8. I’m fascinated by Mormons and Scientologists.

9. My favorite book of all time is Lolita.

10. If I could magically be granted one talent or ability, I’d choose to be a great singer.

Now, passing along the nomination, I give you six bloggers who you should read, if you’re not already:

ELEW members write from a cranky and annoyed perspective, telling the truth about writing in a way that most bloggers are afraid to.

2. Gina at Fantasy Casting  

Through imagining how novels should be cast, Gina takes a game we all often play in our reads and blogs it for the world to enjoy.

3. Jaime Morrow of Jaime Reading and Writing

She’s honest, open, and helpful  in her posts about her journey through writing. I always enjoy her YA Highway responses and comments.

 I like her attitude, always like reading her YA Highway posts, and her participation in ROW80 has really piqued my interest.  Oh, and her website’s pretty cool, too.

5. Karen McCoy at The Writer Librarian.

As a fellow writer/librarian, I like reading about someone who comes from a similar background/perspective. But beyond that, she has some really insightful things to say about her writing and the process of developing as a writer.

6. Kelley and shellybean of The Book Dorks

They’re re-reading and reviewing V.C. Andrews books. Need I say more?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Google Puts Me in Time Out

(Image via MyEyeSees)
Rumors have been going around that Google, aka the Evil Empire, has been suspending Blogger blogs and Gmail accounts, for no discernable reason. It happened to me this morning. The blog went poof, and I emailed Google to figure out why. Then I tried logging in to my Gmail account--no dice.

In about an hour, they both were restored. The crazy part? I have no idea why this happened. The moral of the story for me is to take the advice that others have been giving, and back up my blog.

I get that the suspension of blogs is an automated process, and they claim to have a 2% false positive rate in suspending blogs for violating the TOS. But this seems to be happening to a lot of people. I'd love to know why it happened, but apparently Google doesn't give you that information.

On the bright side, the suspension made me stop procrastinating and write 1100 words. I will now stop bitching and return to writing, on the alert for Google's evil magicians to reappear.

Feature and Follow Friday #3: Unread Books

Feature & Follow Friday is a weekly social blog hop between book bloggers. There are two hosts: Parajunkee and Alison of Alison Can Read. If you want to join in, click on either of their blogs to get the details. The FF question of the day is:

Q: Go count the number of unread books sitting on your shelf. How many?

 A. About ten. There would probably be more if it weren't for the fact that I mainly use the library for the books I read. So anything that doesn't get read doesn't hang around long.  However, I do have two Kindle books I also haven't read. I have a feeling my number may be pretty low, but this doesn't mean I'm all caught up with what I want to read--they're just not here!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Book Talk Thursday #1: LIFE SUCKS

(Image via Jessica Abel)
As an alternative to reviews, I'm going to be posting a series of book talks to share the books that I've read and loved lately. Book talks can be straightforward descriptions of the novel, but a popular method is to share the perspective of one of the characters.  They're similar to book trailers, but I usually find book trailers disappointing. My expectations of a trailer were formed by Hollywood, and there's no way that any reader, teacher or librarian can meet those expectations with their own creations.  Also, book trailers give you visuals that might not match up with what you would envision in reading the book. If you see a book trailer before you read the book, it's like watching a movie before reading the book. You never get the chance to imagine the characters before you see someone else's imagined version of them.

Book talks are usually done by a librarian to grab the interest the K-12 set. But there's no reason that book talks should be reserved for those under 18, right? Today, I'm talking about the 2008 graphic novel Life Sucks, by Jessica Abel, from the perspective of the protagonist's love interest.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

YA Highway: Road Trip Wednesday #6

  It is Wednesday, and I am along for the ride on YA Highway's Road Trip. Today's question:
Describe your dream writing retreat. Where would you go? Who and what would you bring?

I love this kind of question, where you can spin out an ideal fantasy. I'm reminded of the TV show "House Hunters," where the potential buyers have to choose between three houses which each have pluses and negatives. I have two dream writing retreats, but I'm not going to take the easy way out and choose both.  They're going head to head, with only one victor. Here goes:

(Image via text link)
1). I'm in a Miso Barrel treehouse, somewhere in the wilderness. The treehouse is surrounded by deep snow, and the only way to reach it is by ATV. There's no electricity, but there is a dishwasher and refrigerator. They run on batteries or solar energy or something. (It's a dream scenario, okay?) There's a huge bathtub, a fireplace and a wood stove. I've left my cell phone at home, and there's no internet. I've got my dog with me. But since I'm a scaredy-cat when I'm in isolated places at night, I've also got another dog, a big protective German Shepherd who looks like a wolf and will scare the shit out of any possible intruder. I've got TV and movies on my computer to watch at night, as well as a billion Kindle books. I'm making my word goal ever day; going to bed and waking up early. I'm totally alone.

(Image via text link)

2.) It's summer someplace humid, where the temperature is always 80 degrees.  The site of the retreat is right on the beach. We sleep in overwater huts that are reached by boardwalks, the kind that you see in resorts in Bora Bora and Tahiti. There's an outdoor cooking area, and a great dive bar within biking distance. All of my friends who write are there. We work productively all day, and at night we have bonfires. The water's always warm, and there are no mosquitoes.

Decision Time

Both of these scenarios sound amazing. But the winner is #2, for the simple fact that it's really cold today, and I want to be warm.  If I was asked this question in the summer, no doubt I'd choose #1. Being contrary can be very helpful when choosing between competing dream scenarios.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year: Questions for the Future

(Image courtesy of dullhunk)
Happy New Year! In thinking about 2011, I’m struck by all  the long standing questions that were answered.  For example, will Muammar Gaddafi ever lose power? (Yes, and his life, too). Will Osama Bin Laden ever be found? (Yup, and killed, too. I’m sensing a theme here). Other answers were to more personal questions, like will I ever write (and by that I mean finish) a novel? Yes!  And no one died in the process!

Ever since I was a little kid, one of the things that’s fascinated me about the concept of the future is the things that might happen that I don’t know about yet. I wondered what I would be when I grew up, whether I would get married or have children, and where I would live. I knew that my future self would have the answers to these questions.  

I don’t believe that anything is destined or meant to be, so I knew that the actions I took would generate the answers. But I still really wanted to be able to know the things that my future selves would know. Some of my childhood questions have been definitively answered for me.  The answers to other have shifted over the years, so that the only response possible is like the one that comes out of the Magic 8 Ball—ask again later.

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions.  So instead of sharing a list of things I want to do in 2012, I’m going to be sharing the questions that I’d love to see answered this new year.  They'll be spread them out over the weeks. Some are questions related to interests of mine, like books, true crime, and pop culture. Others are more general. A few are personal.

I'm also going to share my predicted answers. At the end of the year, I’ll tally up which of the questions have been answered, and whether my present self was right. It feels a little like a competition between the me of 1/1/2011 and the me of 1/1/2012, and I have no idea who to bet on. Creepy.

The Questions: