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Archive for July, 2016



Sunday, July 31st, 2016
The Compost Process of Writing

Pulling bullshit out of your ass and piling it on the page until it turns into a story. Hopefully a good one.

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016
Overdoing It

I’ve been making an effort to walk. Basically, I’m trying to work up to 10K steps on my fitbit. I realize the number is fairly arbitrary, but given that I’m out of shape and given that I have a sedentary job, it’s a goal. On top of that, I want to get in enough shape to be able to go hiking more. I’m also dragging the kids out on the walks, too, as much as I can. The dogs usually want to quit before I do.

So anyhow, my son has been going to a summer “camp” this week–it does not involve anything resembling camping–doing underwater robotics. We have to drive about 45 minutes away, so while he’s in camp, I have been walking for awhile, and then going to Starbucks for some reading, then running a few errands, and reading some more. I’ve been walking on the OSU campus and it’s quite lovely. Lots and lots of trees, with amazing brick and stone buildings. The weather has been lovely, as well.

So far this week, I’ve hit my 10K three days in a row. Only today, I know I was stupid to do it. I have slight shin splints, and my feet hurt–my muscles need a rest. And yet . . . I don’t want to stop walking. Today I *meant* to go about 4K steps on the walk. I ended up going about 7K and then another 1K before I picked up the boy.

Tomorrow I know I shouldn’t walk much at all. Yet I don’t want to stop. I’m in the zone where I have to make myself get out and do it, and so the more days I hook together where I actually move, the more I develop the habit. So I have to convince myself to do only about 4K tomorrow. Or at least stop and sit for a bit every so often. This I also don’t want to do. I suppose it’s the better of the two choices, giving my fit and legs a chance to relax and to get some stretching in.

I’ve never been very much into exercise, except when I’m having fun. Hiking in the woods is fun. But I need to build some stamina and leg muscles to get there. I’ve begun to do so, and I don’t want to give up the ground I’ve gained.

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016
Book Review: Romance, Hard to Handle

I received this book from NetGalley

The book is Hard to Handle by Raven Scott. It will be published August 30th by Kensington Books. It’s romance with some suspense thrown in.

Here’s the description:

A covert ops specialist, a cyber-surveillance expert, and an unmatched international security and recovery pro. These are the men of Fortis. When money is no object, discretion is essential, and the police are not an option, the wealthy and powerful call on this trio of former government agents with elite military training—not to mention charm and good looks…

Samuel Mackenzie has his hands full with Fortis’ latest assignment. Their client is a European real estate investor who is trying to close a multi-million dollar acquisition. But a competitor is attempting to block the deal by any means necessary, including threats and vandalism that quickly escalate to life threatening assault. For Samuel it’s all in a day’s work—except for one unexpected twist…

The mission requires protective detail for the client and his mistress, who is also his personal assistant. But the mistress is Mikayla Stone-Clement—the only woman Samuel has ever loved, and who always seems out of his reach. Yet things aren’t what they seem. Because Mikayla has a hidden agenda of her own, one that puts her directly in the crossfire. Now Samuel will have one chance to save her life…and make her his forever.

I have mixed feelings about this book. Parts of it a really liked, parts of it annoyed the heck out of me, and parts of it made me feel a little uncomfortable in a weird way that I will delve into a little bit deeper here.

So first, the good: Overall, I thought the romance was pretty good, and the suspense plot well designed and laid out (except for the bad guy because he came out of nowhere.) I thought the security stuff was believable and I thought the development of all the actions really smart.

That leads me to the bad. One thing drove me seriously nuts. That was Scott’s inclination to use a lot of book saidisms–insisted, muttered, yelled, etc., when people talked. That was okay, but I felt like they were frequently off. Like when people yelled when they really didn’t. Maybe they raised their voices a little–but yelling jarred me because it was wrong for the scene. Likewise, using insisted when there’s nothing to insist on. Like saying, I’d like a yogurt, only writing it as: I’d like a yogurt, insisted the girl. When no one is protesting that she have a yogurt. And then when one character mumbled when he really was murmuring, because mumbling means unintelligibility of the words. It drove me batty and threw me out of the story.

The next thing that drove me up the wall were the over-the-top connection between the two leads. I loved that there was a time when they forced themselves to keep their hands off each other because of emotional tension, but it annoyed me early on when they couldn’t because it seemed too much for these very controlled people. I think that was the writer’s point–that their passion for one another overcame their usual control–but I had a hard time buying it.

I was really annoyed that the actual bad guy wasn’t even mentioned until they pegged him as the bad guy. I wanted him at least mentioned far earlier.

Finally, and this last one may just be me, but one of the things that threw me out of the story was something that seemed to be missing. Many of these characters were people of color. While I am glaringly white, I do know that POC face various kinds of discrimination based on their skin color on a daily basis. There was no hint of that in this book and it struck me as odd. Or maybe the word is artificial. I thought this particularly for Kaylee, who is not only a black woman, but she works in a field dominated by men. In fact, she’s worked in two fields dominated by men. So I kept waiting for someone to be obnoxious both because of her gender and color and there was nothing.

Now, this may be the fantasy of the book–that there’s a world where POC don’t have to worry about their skin color any more than white people do. And maybe it’s the Black Lives Matter movement that makes me extra-sensitive to those elements in society right now. I’m not judging the writer or the book on this one. I’m trying to figure out if this is a reasonable thing to expect in a book or not. I don’t know. In expecting it, am I doing making demands of a text that I have no right to? I’m interested on what anybody here might say because I think it’s important to discuss and frankly, I’m interested in being corrected if I’m way off base.

All things taken together, I’d give this book a 3/5 stars.

Thursday, July 14th, 2016
Shopping fun

Went shopping up in Portland with my mom today. It was fabulous. I’m not into a lot of clothes shopping, so of course, we weren’t doing that. We went to Penzey‘s and got fabulous spices. I love that place. After that, went to a big mall and went into a shoe store for mom, then into Chico’s for mom, into Teavana, and then lunch and out. I did end up with a pair of Alegria clogs that actually fit (Dansko’s run way too small for my ginormous surfboards I like to call feet.) So I’m really happy about that. Teavana had a ‘tea’ called Beach Bellini, and there’s no tea in it. It’s all fruit. Can be mixed with tea, but I’m thinking it will make a great drink for the fam. Going to try it out and see.

But shopping is exhausting. And I have only got 4K steps in. I need to go out and do some walking this evening.

I’ve got a post up on Imposter Syndrome at Magical Words today. Check it out.

Friday, July 8th, 2016
What I’ve been up to

I went to Westercon last weekend and it was a lot of fun. Had some great panels with some terrific people and the audiences were attentive and smart and asked great questions. Pretty much a perfect storm of panels. And people came to my reading, which was on the first day and I wasn’t sure anybody would.

I got back on the fourth and zoomed out again on the fifth at 6 in the morning. Drove with my folks to CA for my mom to see a doctor. Amazingly, it’s been much cooler than normal–which is to say, I haven’t whined that much and I’ve been able to get out walking. The oaks here are amazing and the scents of the summertime dried grasses, certain weeds, dirt, and oaks just bring me back to childhood. I’ve so been enjoying that. I got to see an enormous vulture in a tree very close up. I didn’t impress him. Or her.

The only downer has been I seem to have had a bout with some food poisoning. Last night on the way home from dinner, I started getting an awful headache and nauseous, and then I got home and upchucked everything. It wasn’t long after that that I started feeling better. I’ve been able to see some people–my father-in-law, my brother and niece, and tonight I’ll get to see another niece and a nephew.

Saturday we drive back. My poor mom’s face is terribly swollen–she had a bit of skin cancer removed–and it’s given her a black eye and half her mouth is swollen. Poor thing.

I’ve been reading some. One book by a popular romantic suspense author that I think must have been written in the eighties because the male lead is an alpha asshole and the woman is sort of a door mat. I read the whole thing, but I didn’t enjoy it the way I wanted to. Now I’m reading one by Iris and Roy Johansen. It’s not really romantic, but the lead character is a lot of fun and I am enjoying that. I’ll report back on it later.

Also, Lois Bujold has a new Penric novella out. If you haven’t read the first, do. I’ve not read the second, but I plan to.