Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (2) - Splendor Falls

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly even hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week's book is The Splendor Falls by Rosemary Clement-Moore.  I recently won this book through a giveaway by Tiger Holland at All-Consuming Books: Reviews by Tiger.  I can't wait to get this book and start reading it.

From Goodreads:

  Sylvie Davis is a ballerina who can’t dance. A broken leg ended her career, but Sylvie’s pain runs deeper. What broke her heart was her father’s death, and what’s breaking her spirit is her mother’s remarriage—a union that’s only driven an even deeper wedge into their already tenuous relationship.

Uprooting her from her Manhattan apartment and shipping her to Alabama is her mother’s solution for Sylvie’s unhappiness. Her father’s cousin is restoring a family home in a town rich with her family’s history. And that’s where things start to get shady. As it turns out, her family has a lot more history than Sylvie ever knew. More unnerving, though, are the two guys that she can’t stop thinking about. Shawn Maddox, the resident golden boy, seems to be perfect in every way. But Rhys—a handsome, mysterious foreign guest of her cousin’s—has a hold on her that she doesn’t quite understand.

Then she starts seeing things. Sylvie’s lost nearly everything—is she starting to lose her mind as well?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Speak Out Saturday (1)

I've decided to make Saturdays on my blog "Speak Out Saturdays."  My posts on Saturdays will be related to issues I find important and interesting.  Sometimes they may be rants, and sometimes they may be educational.  I hope that my blog visitors will take some time to explore the issues they are passionate about, even if they choose not to blog about them on "Speak Out Saturdays."  (Also, if someone else already does Speak Out Saturdays, please let me know.  I will then change my blog titles).

For the last few months, I've been facilitating Sexual Assault Counselor training for the program where I work.  We have one session left and will have completed 40 hours of training.  This round of training involves counselors and community members who want to be volunteers.

I've been doing the SAC training for about 2.5 years now.  I originally took the training when I became a volunteer for the program.  After volunteering for 2 years, I began an internship there and was hired as the volunteer coordinator.  After working as the volunteer coordinator for some time, I took on the role of legal advocate as well.  Once I graduated with my undergrad degrees, I began doing counseling with children and adults.  Currently, my job titles include volunteer coordinator, legal advocate, and sexual assault counselor. 

Working to end sexual violence is an issue that is very important to me.  It is an issue that many people shy away from or deny.  It is an issue that many people pretend doesn't exist.  Unfortunately, it is an issue that surrounds us every single day. 

In the last 2.5 years, I've come across approximately 300 victims of sexual violence.  I've heard horrific stories of sexual violence and seen glorious victories in the courtroom.  Over and over again, I have been reminded of how little the general public seems to know about sexual violence. 

The next few Speak Out Saturday posts will be in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.  Every April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM).  During this month, many rape crisis centers make extra effort to make their communities aware of the widespread occurrence of sexual violence.  To kick off this month, next week's post will be about Sexual Assault Myths.  It's time to fight back against those myths!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Meet My Furbaby!

This is my furbaby, Baxter.
He just got a haircut today, so his hair is now super short (on the right).
Baxter is 5 years old.
He's an Old English Sheepdog.
He loves treats.
He is blind in his left eye.
Bax was the last of his litter when I bought him.  No one wanted him. :(
He's extremely protective. 
He likes to sneak into the spare bedroom and sleep on the bed.
He cries when I leave the house.
I love him.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (1) - Spooky Little Girl by Laurie Notaro

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine.  It's a blogger's opportunity to drool over upcoming releases.

This week's books is: Spooky Little Girl by Laurie Notaro

From Goodreads:

Death is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.

Coming home from a Hawaiian vacation with her best girlfriends, Lucy Fisher is stunned to find everything she owns tossed out on her front lawn, the locks changed, and her fiancĂ©’s phone disconnected—plus she’s just lost her job. With her world spinning wildly out of her control, Lucy decides to make a new start and moves upstate to live with her sister and nephew.

But then things take an even more dramatic turn: A fatal encounter with public transportation lands Lucy not in the hereafter but in the nearly hereafter. She’s back in school, learning the parameters of spooking and how to become a successful spirit in order to complete a ghostly assignment. If Lucy succeeds, she’s guaranteed a spot in the next level of the afterlife—but until then, she’s stuck as a ghost in the last place she would ever want to be.

Trying to avoid being trapped on earth for all eternity, Lucy crosses the line between life and death and back again when she returns home. Navigating the perilous channels of the paranormal, she’s determined to find out why her life crumbled and why, despite her ghastly death, no one seems to have noticed she’s gone. But urgency on the spectral plane—in the departed person of her feisty grandmother, who is risking both their eternal lives—requires attention, and Lucy realizes that you get only one chance to be spectacular in death.

I'm so excited for this new book by Laurie Notaro!  I love her writing and have read all of her books.  She has had some strange experiences and makes no apologies for her odd behaviors, crazy irrational thoughts, and loud mouth.  Reading her books makes me feel proud to be myself.  I embrace my habit of saying inappropriate things to inappropriate people.  When my fiance thinks I'm crazy for believing the neighbor kids sneak into our garage to sit in my car, I ignore him.  I'm not ashamed to say that I sometimes sit with a kitchen knife or hockey stick when I'm home by myself.

I am one of Laurie's faithful followers.  I am an Idiot Girl.

The invitations are in!

My wedding invitations arrived today!  I ordered them Monday afternoon, got an email last night that they had been shipped, and met the UPS man at my door around 5:00.  Talk about fast service!

They turned out great.  The paper seems to be of good quality.  I was also pleased with the cost.  I got 150 invitations with envelopes and 150 RSVP cards with envelopes for about $112.00.

If anyone is looking for invitations, I would suggest

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

My first blog awards!

Caitlin over at The Written Word Review gave me my first blog awards. Thanks so much!

Here's what you have to do if you get the Beautiful Blogger Award.
Thank and link the person who sent it to you. Give it to 15 bloggers you love and let them know they've gotten it. Then tell everyone 7 things about yourself.
1. My biggest dream is to write and publish a book.
2. I love to read.
3. I'm a counselor.
4. I have an Old English Sheepdog.
5. I'm getting married in 3 months. Ahhh!!!
6. My fiance and I have birthdays 4 days apart.
7. I can say the alphabet backwards.

Caitlin also gave me the Bliss (Happy 101) Award, and here are the rules.
List 10 things that make you happy and pass the award to 10 other bloggers.
1. My family
2. My fiance
3. My dog, Baxter
4. Peace and quiet
5. Reading
6. Writing
7. Ice cream
8. Daisies
9. Sleep
10. My bed
I'm giving both of these awards to the following people:
CasuALLY Amusing
See Heather Write
What the blog?
Whimsical, Whamsical, Whumsical
Books 'N Cooks

Here's what you have to do if you get the Beautiful Blogger Award.
Thank and link the person who sent it to you. Give it to 15 bloggers you love and let them know they've gotten it. Then tell everyone 7 things about yourself.
1. My biggest dream is to write and publish a book.
2. I love to read.
3. I'm a counselor.
4. I have an Old English Sheepdog.
5. I'm getting married in 3 months. Ahhh!!!
6. My fiance and I have birthdays 4 days apart.
7. I can say the alphabet backwards.

Caitlin also gave me the Bliss (Happy 101) Award, and here are the rules.
List 10 things that make you happy and pass the award to 10 other bloggers.
1. My family
2. My fiance
3. My dog, Baxter
4. Peace and quiet
5. Reading
6. Writing
7. Ice cream
8. Daisies
9. Sleep
10. My bed
I'm giving both of these awards to the following people:
CasuALLY Amusing
See Heather Write
What the blog?
Whimsical, Whamsical, Whumsical
Books 'N Cooks

Cracked Up to Be

Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers was another book I picked up at Barnes & Noble last Friday. I had seen some people talk about it on my online bookclub site and thought it sounded interesting.

The preview from Goodreads goes like this:
What's the worst thing you've ever done?
When "Perfect" Parker Fadley starts drinking at school and failing her classes, all of St. Peter's High goes on alert. How has the cheerleading captain, girlfriend of the most popular guy in school, consummate teacher's pet, and future valedictorian fallen so far from grace?
Parker doesn't want to talk about it. She'd just like to be left alone, to disappear, to be ignored. But her parents have placed her on suicide watch and her counselors are demanding the truth. Worse, there's a nice guy falling in love with her and he's making her feel things again when she'd really rather not be feeling anything at all.
Nobody would have guessed she'd turn out like this. But nobody knows the truth.
Something horrible has happened, and it just might be her fault.

When I first read this description, I immediately tried to think of what happened to her. My first thought: she was raped. Unfortunately, my job as a sexual assault counselor/advocate has jaded me, and this is often my first thought depending on the information provided to me. The only spoiler I will give is that she was NOT raped.

I was actually pleased to learn this. The concept of a teen girl being raped and then spiraling out of control seems to be a very common story (or at least one I hear every day). The ending of the story gave a unique twist that I found intriguing and pleasing. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Summers's main character, Parker, goes from perfect to disappointing. She was the ideal daughter/student/girlfriend, then suddenly she is none of those. No one can understand exactly why she is behaving the way she is, but they think they know.

Parker's struggle with what she knows and trying to move forward comes to life in the way Summers tells the story. The flashbacks she includes give bits and pieces of information to provide insight on how Parker got to this point. I really liked this. It made it like a guessing game for me. I had clues and could put them together to try to determine what happened to Parker.

Another aspect of the story that I enjoyed was the relationship between Parker and Jake. I won't give too many details, but I liked that it wasn't a typical "boy meets girl" relationship.
Overall, I really liked Cracked Up to Be. The story kept me interested, the writing seemed true to the perspective of a high school senior, and I wasn't bored by some of the common scenarios found in YA books.

From my notebook...(1)

Here's another poem from my old notebook. At this point in time, I'm not ready to explain what's behind my poems that I'll be posting. That's for another time. Enjoy!

Stuck here in a tangled mess
Not sure what to do
I feel myself being eaten alive
By the love I knew as you.
Strip me away
Piece by piece
And when you're finally done
You'll watch me bleed drop by drop
As if watching the fading sun.
And in my own stupidity or insecurity
Still I linger a moment longer
Convinced it all will change
Stranded here I remain
Watching him pass by.
My only chance to start again
And make the sun begin to rise.

Teaser Tuesday (1)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Teaser: "A shapely embodiment of a female Satan appears on the horizon, flipping her long blond hair over her shoulder as she commands the attention of her many underlings. My former underlings." - Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers p. 3

Living Dead Girl

This past Friday, I had a doctor's appointment and found myself close to a Barnes & Noble. There aren't any bookstores around my house anymore, so I decided to pop in and see if there was anything good. I picked up 4 books, including Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott. I had been wanting to read it but hadn't picked up a copy yet.

Later that night, I curled up on my couch and decided to start reading it. I figured I would read for awhile and write for awhile. WRONG! I finished the book in a few hours and had an extremely difficult time putting it down (even long enough to go to the bathroom). So, let's start with a summary of the story.

Living Dead Girl is the story of a young girl who was abducted at 10 and held captive for 5 years. At the time of the story, she is 15 and has been living with Ray, who has been passing her off as his daughter. She has endured horrific sexual and physical abuse. Ray decides he's ready for someone new, because "Alice" is getting too old for him. They hatch a plan, but I won't tell you what happens.

I must say that I think Elizabeth Scott did a great job writing this story. As someone who works with children who have been sexually abused, I found her portrayal of the main character very realistic. The girl referred to herself as "living dead" and "hollow." These are feelings I see in victims quite frequently. She also became desensitized to sex and found herself quite easily giving in to anyone who wanted it.

Another part of the story that I appreciated was when Alice talked about seeing the talk shows with sexual abuse victims. She commented on how the victims were asked why they didn't tell someone or try to get away. Alice undertands that the fear of what the perpetrator could do is enough to keep anyone from talking or running. This is very true in the cases I've seen. Many children won't talk of their abuse, because they are afraid of what the perpetrator may do.
Elizabeth Scott did an excellent job telling an important story and doing it in a way that people would be willing to digest. This has become one of my favorite books.

Pencil vs. Keys

I know it's 2010, and it's probably safe to say that most writers prefer to use a computer when working on their WIPs. Well, that's what I would expect since we are living in the age of computers. I've given this a try, but I have to admit that it's not for me.

There is something about writing those words just above those blue lines and seeing them fill up a page that excites me. There's something about choosing my pens or pencils and seeing the ink smudges on my fingers when I'm done. I've always preferred to use plain old paper and pencil/pen. Another plus to being old fashioned is not having to worry about my computer crashing and losing all of my work.

Now, I know that it's not practical to complete your entire WIP on college ruled notebook paper in blue ink and mail it to agents and publishers. Of course, it will have to be typed eventually. This is just a minor step compared to writing everything.

Writing by hand also allows me to follow the story and stay in the moment. ("Be in the moment" is a concept I'm quite familiar with thanks to my Gestalt class.) When I use my computer to write, I find myself constantly going back to fix things or holding down the delete key. It's so easy to just scan back up to the top of the screen and read over what I've done, decide it's crap, and fix it. Having a stack of notebook paper makes me feel lazy and not want to flip through the pages. Once I get to a spot that feels right, then I can read over what I've got and make changes.

Now, this is just my preference. I know of a lot of people who use their computers to write everything, and I understand the ease they may find in it. For me, though, there's something exciting and satisfying about lined notebook paper and ink smudges on my hands.

*Thanks to for the picture.

No wonder my family thinks I'm strange...

The following poem that I'm posting was the first one I saw when I opened my old notebook. I completely forgot about it and can't remember why I wrote it. I just can't imagine what would cause me to write about roadkill, but clearly I did.

A pungent smell rises
And hangs in the air.
Out of the split
Seeps that which normally cannot be seen.

The pink intertwines with the red
And soaks into the blacktop.
Scraps of fur, and maybe bones,
Litter the line dividing the cars.

Lifeless limbs once again
Are recklessly manipulated by the passing tires
As drivers unaware pass over
Only to hear a disheartening thud.

Breaking their speed for only a second
Realizing that was flesh they just hit
The drivers continue on thinking nothing of it
Already dead by nothing they did.

OMG! Teen drama!

A few months ago, I discovered an old notebook I used as a journal. I had been unpacking some boxes from my dad's house and stumbled upon it. The red notebook had lyrics and quotes written all over the cover in black Sharpie. When reading them now, I have no clue what songs they are from.

I flipped the notebook open and started leafing through the pages. Inside were writing exercises from a writing course I had taken at a local college the summer before 9th grade. After those, were poems I had written. I could tell exactly what had been happening in my life just by reading those poems.

Seeing this notebook made me sad. One reason was that it showed me just how much I used to write. I wrote ALL.THE.TIME. Remembering the emotions behind my poems also made me sad.

I've decided to share my early works with everyone. Each week, I'll post a new piece from my old notebook. Everything in the book was written when I was in high school. Feel free to give feedback on anything you read, whether it be good, bad, or ugly. I'm hoping this notebook will push me into writing more frequently.


A few weeks ago, I had a great idea for a story. I kept jotting down my ideas as much as possible, but hadn't sat down and actually devoted time to the story.

Today will be that day. I wasn't feeling good last night and still don't feel too great today. So...I used a sick day for work and started to recharge my batteries. This week is my Spring Break for school , which means no class tonight. Woo hoo! I have the whole evening to myself and will be surrounded by peace and quiet.

I can't imagine a better way to make myself feel better than laying on the couch with my laptop and writing away. When I was younger, I used to just write by the seat of my pants and not plan any parts of my stories. Now that I'm older and I really want to put my stories out there, though, I think it'll be best for me to plan. So...tonight will be my first stage of writing my story.

Tonight's goals:
1. Work out the plot of my story from start to finish. I've done this several times in my head, but it's time to get it down on paper.
2. Develop my characters.
Wish me luck!


This morning, I took advantage of the fact that I didn't have to get out of bed or be anywhere. While my fiance laid snoring beside me, I finished reading Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin.

The Goodreads description goes like this:
Welcome to Elsewhere. It is warm, with a breeze, and the beaches are marvelous. It’s quiet and peaceful. You can’t get sick or any older. Curious to see new paintings by Picasso? Swing by one of Elsewhere’s museums. Need to talk to someone about your problems? Stop by Marilyn Monroe’s psychiatric practice.Elsewhere is where fifteen-year-old Liz Hall ends up, after she has died. It is a place so like Earth, yet completely different. Here Liz will age backward from the day of her death until she becomes a baby again and returns to Earth. But Liz wants to turn sixteen, not fourteen again. She wants to get her driver’s license. She wants to graduate from high school and go to college. And now that she’s dead, Liz is being forced to live a life she doesn’t want with a grandmother she has only just met. And it is not going well. How can Liz let go of the only life she has ever known and embrace a new one? Is it possible that a life lived in reverse is no different from a life lived forward?This moving, often funny book about grief, death, and loss will stay with the reader long after the last page is turned.

I picked this book up when my local Border's was going out of business. I liked the cover and thought the back of the book sounded interesting. Well, the story ended up being nothing I had expected.

I found this book to be a cute story and a quick read. Liz's reaction to what she would be missing reminded me of how we often react when young lives are lost. We talk about how they will never go on a date, drive a car, graduate, go to college, get married, or have a family. It was quite different to see that from the young person's perspective.

As someone who isn't spiritual and doesn't give much thought to the afterlife, I must say that this idea of Elsewhere being where we go after we die is a very pleasant concept.

Overall, I really enjoyed Elsewhere. I'm glad the snowglobe on the cover caught my attention.

Laurie Notaro x 2

I freaking LOVE Laurie Notaro! I think I have finally read all of her books with my most recent reads being An Idiot Girl's Christmas and The Idiot Girl and the Flaming Tantrum of Death.
Reading her stories makes me feel like I'm not the only awkward, mouthy, inappropriate girl on the face of the planet. I no longer feel alone when I find myself saying things I shouldn't say in front of people who shouldn't hear them. I no longer feel alone when I think someone is breaking into my garage to play with the headlight switch in my car and keep warm after a blizzard. Her Idiot Girl ways make me feel good about myself. As a self-proclaimed Idiot Girl as well, I find that we are much more fun than the Non-Idiot Girls (even though they may be much skinnier and have much hotter, richer boyfriends/husbands.)

The Lovely Bones

After I finished Breaking Dawn, I started reading The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. I wanted to see the movie but wanted to read the book first. A few years ago, I read Lucky by Alice Sebold and really enjoyed it. I had seen several posts on my online book club about how people felt about this book. There were also some thoughts on how people felt about seeing the movie.

I had a general idea of what the book was about. I knew it was about a girl who was murdered and looks down on her family and friends from Heaven. The book, in my opinion, was much more than that, though.

I liked that the author didn't focus too much on what exactly happened to the girl. That puts too much attention on the murderer. To me, the story really seemed to be about the love between a child and parent and how that love can be tested. Sebold's writing helped me to feel the pain of the father when he learned his little girl was dead. I could understand the yearning Susie had to be able to reach out to her family again.

Lovely Bones was an extremely touching book that made me look at things differently. At first, I was disappointed with the ending. Then I decided that the obvious "happily ever after" ending isn't always the most suitable.

Breaking Dawn

I got Breaking Dawn for Christmas and started reading it shortly before the new year. In the beginning of January, I came down with the stomach flu and was stuck in bed for 3 days. Once the worst of the flu had passed, I spent my time laying in bed reading. Breaking Dawn was the first book I finished.

I had glimpsed spoilers of BD and couldn't wait to read it. BD was definitely my favorite book out of the four. It seemed to me like the story had finally come full circle. Without giving any details away, I will say that I was pleased with the way things fell into place. While napping through my flu delusions, I dreamt that I had a similar experience as Bell in BD. It was quite an experience to wake up and recognize that no, I was not in BD. Darn.