Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Nonfiction Character Sketches

She wears her thin hair in a bun. She has homemade granola wrapped in sandwich bags and these inside tin boxes (from the dollar store) to give as gifts on Christmas. Her favorite subjects include: fundamentalist Christians, the Kabalah, my father, and the evils of Wal Mart. When she talks about something that she feels strongly about, her intensity can spread like infection, but it can also be so intense that it's terrifying, much like an out-of-control fire. If someone has an idea that she doesn't agree with, they'd better have a defense prepared.

He's cute when his brother isn't around. When he smiles, his dimples turn into quotes around his mouth. He paces around the house, looking down at his feet as though he's deep in thought. He wants to have fun and to be funny. "You're not the boss of me" and "That's stupid" are two of his favorite sayings. He is excellent at entertaining himself: legos, puzzles, and books keeping him occupied for hours. He talks to himself while in the bathroom. Every morning he plops the advent calendar marker into the pocket marking the next day: December 22. Three days until Christmas.

He's tall and skinny, but his stomach is as flat and hard as a board. He's always smiling and moves his hands when he talks. He talks about everything; God, his parents, tomatoes, "My Side of the Mountain" and other books, and trees. He hikes whenever possible, although finding time to do so is like finding water in the desert--it can happen, but probability is highly unlikely. He visits Idaho whenever he can, and the Kasino Club is his favorite bar; he swing-dances with strangers. He can also waltz, dance goth, and dance dirty. Like his range of subjects, he wants to live in a range of places.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Stealing because it's the right thing to do

This is a true story told to me by someone connected with my family.

So I’m standing in Yelena's kitchen, and she’s sitting on this white, royal-looking chair next to the back door. We’re both eating some of this stuff she made; it’s like a cookie made of almonds and marshmellows drowned in chocolate and then frozen. It’s crunchy and sweet and the marshmellows make it squishy. Abby, the golden dingo, keeps sitting in front of me raising her paw begging for a handout.

“So I noticed that Isabel has all this new stuff, and I asked if she’s been stealing it from Walmart,” she said. “At first she said no, but then she said yes. She said, ‘Oh but mom, I only steal stuff when I see a manager being mean to an employee because I don’t think they should be treated that way.’”

“So did you tell her it was wrong to steal?” I asked.

“Oh yeah. I told her that stealing shit from them just hurts the people making the stuff in other countries. They notice how much money they’re losing on the stuff that’s being stolen, so they lower the price and pay the workers less money, so they can get away with it.”

“Wow, a normal parent would have just said that stealing is wrong and they could go to jail for doing it.”

“Yeah, well, a normal kid would have said , ‘well I’m just doing it because you won’t give me money.’”

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Falling in

Yellow leaves swamping the driveway
quick hikes in the setting sun
and cool nights reading about the west
boil a feeling that makes me want to
rip out my hair and
leave marks in the wall
grab on and hold tight
until it lies still as a rotten stump

But I see wheat hair
lake-clear eyes
legs strong living branches
voice an energetic wind
words staggered as an outcropping

I fall into the feeling

your hands on my face

fingers like twigs pulling at my hair

and sink into you like quicksand

More afraid of letting go than falling


Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Vines. I am like a vine. I do not grow straight up. I learn to lean on others to reach my place in life; I try not to destroy these objects which I lean on. I just wrap around them and climb. I don't necessarily know what I want right away, so much of my time is spent winding my way through ideas until I choose a tall live one for climbing.

Sometimes I sprout many leaves of thought, and other times it's only a beautiful flower or two, without much in terms of body. I am very talented at writing flowery metaphors and scenes, but sometimes this skill is a hindrance, as it can make it difficult to get my thoughts across.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Fire Love

Love: Terrifying and alluring.

If it was a sure thing, there would be no allure.

If it was caught in a net like a dying butterfly, it would be buried and forgotten. It needs to fight like a hornet, struggling to find a way out, unsure of whether or not it should use that painful stinger.

It is a dance where he is pulled into my space and I push him out of it. We switch places.

It's when sometimes we join, and sometimes we go our separate ways.

Always he is on my mind and I can't shut it off like a mere lightswitch.

It is a dazzling dangerous fire that has crept beyond the fireplace and is creeping across the floor, intent on destroying everything.

Without those flames, the cold would creep in and under the sheets.

I'd rather it threaten to burn the house down than go out and leave only darkness in its wake. Just another writer writing, trying to keep the cold away.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

My couchsurf/trip to Idaho blog!

Click here to see my cross-country blog:

Sunday, May 15, 2011

White Cat by Holly Black



From the back page:

Cassel comes from a family of curse workers — people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they're all mobsters, or con artists. Except for Cassel. He hasn't got the magic touch, so he's an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail — he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago.

Ever since, Cassel has carefully built up a façade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his façade starts crumbling when he starts sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He's noticing other disturbing things, too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him, caught up in a mysterious plot. As Cassel begins to suspect he's part of a huge con game, he also wonders what really happened to Lila. Could she still be alive? To find that out, Cassel will have to out-con the conmen.

Holly Black has created a gripping tale of mobsters and dark magic where a single touch can bring love — or death — and your dreams might be more real than your memories.

My review:

Whenever someone tries to tell me I won't figure out what it is they're lying about or hiding, I have to try to think about all the things they could possibly be talking about. So when I read the above description of Holly Black's new book "White Cat," (book 1 in what may turn into a series) I had to try guessing what would happen. She tricked me a few times--but I figured out one deceit a few chapters before I think she'd have liked. This is a book for mystery fanatics and Young Adults alike--it's got plenty of action, with calm points, as well as some healthy suspense.

The characters are fun and untrustworthy and you won't know whether or not you should like Cassel--I wasn't sure either when I began the book. Give it a chance and read this excellent new book by Holly Black. I don't want to say too much or I might give something away. It's also difficult for me to write a long review of a book I have few problems with.

Holly Black has written children's books ("The Spiderwick Chronicles"), graphic novels ("The Good Neighbors"), and Young Adult books (three book about faeries: "Tithe," "Valient," and "Ironside"). The sequel to White Cat is out and a third is on the way. If you haven't read anything by Black, now is your chance--she has a number of short stories published in anthologies as well. Find one!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Letter to Massachusetts

Dear Massachusetts,

Not only have I left your salty beaches for your Berkshire Mountains, but soon, I will be leaving all of you--friends, school, and liberalites alike--for the great variation of the old west. I imagine ghost towns and long, endless highways with not a house in sight. I imagine Kansas. I drove through Kansas last summer; I'm sure it really is one of the circles of hell, not a thing in sight for hundreds of miles.

This summer, though, I will be packing my car and driving the some 2,666 miles through Pennsylvania and Ohio, Illinois and Indiana, Wyoming and past Yellowstone, into the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho. There the mountains are ten times the height of our measly Berkshire peaks, which run around only 1,000 feet or so.

I'll be working a job I never thought I would: waiting. The one job my family never thought I could handle will be my summer work in a world of strangers. I expect to learn some new accents and meet people who are thoroughly different from my own, out here in good old Massachusetts, where drivers are promptly labeled assholes and most states know us only for the city and the seafood.

All anyone around here knows about Idaho is potatoes.

I close my eyes and imagine neck-straining mountains that end in sharp points like a monster's jagged teeth (hence "Sawtooth"). I imagine a beautiful dinnerhouse with seating for 50 and a modern kitchen. I imagine hustling from table-to-table in the early breakfast-rush, trying to take orders and remember places and questions and drink requests. I practice smiling, since I've not seen many waitresses who don't practice this. I imagine a small room, maybe the size of my bedroom in Sunderland, two twin beds, two small closets; my roommate a blonde or dark-haired girl, friendly and interested in rock-climbing with the gear I bought especially for this trip. I imagine assembling a small desk out of books and a piece of plywood in the corner of the room, where I can do my writing.

And then I open my eyes, and see that I'm in my father's house, and I have no real work other than delivering and driving back and forth across the state--mountains to ocean, ocean to mountains--in an endless pattern like a restless cat.

The mantra begins anew: "Less than a month left, less than a month left..." and I smile, returning to my rough imaginings. But I won't really know what it's like until I get out there. You can be sure I'll be taking notes like a mad scientist. Lines will run together and keys will fall out of my keyboard because I'll be typing so fast. But for now it continues, this run from Mountains to Ocean and back again. For now I am yours, Massachusetts.

-Restless Adventurer

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

"The Replacement" by Brenna Yovanoff

I admit that I bought The Replacement because of its cover. It’s a lovely hardcover book with the image of an old-fashioned baby carriage with satin innards. The carriage is poised beneath a branch of dangling iron objects: a pair of scissors and a horseshoe; an old nail file; a knife and spinning tops. The background is gray and frosty, like a cold night just waiting for spring.

I admit, sometimes an author will have a beautiful cover and a less-than-amazing story, but Brenna Yovanoff earns her cover. She earns it through and through. This is a story about Faeries, and as we in the YA realm already know, faeries are allergic to iron. Well, this is a story about a town, the town of Gentry, where bad luck is non-existent except that a child is stolen every seven years, and a replacement is left in its place. The town brushes away this small bit of bad luck, refusing to dwell on it, and most replacements die within a few years.

But one survives. Mackie Doyle was switched out when he was just a baby. The night the real Mackie is taken away, his four-year-old sister Emma sees the new child, a vicious thing that she knows isn’t her real brother, but she cares for him anyway. And he survives into adulthood, when the people who gave him up thought that he’d never live so long.

Mackie learns that he is dying. Knives, cars, and even blood are everywhere in his world (and ours) and every day is a struggle. He’s miserable. But then he starts paying attention to Tate, a girl with attitude, who has just had some misfortune. When he finds out that he can help her with this misfortune, he goes into the Faery Slag-heap ignoring all sense of danger to save someone that she loves.

This book is filled with maybe a dozen characters whose names I remember from memory, which rarely happens when I’ve finished a book. In this book you’ll meet Gentry’s Morrigan and a darker power, and the Blue Girls and the Cutter. You’ll find alluring descriptions of ugly things and even the chapter art will keep you enthralled.

On the surface are Mackie’s emotions and his misery; just beneath that is the thing he really is, and his people, and his peoples’ plots, and the plots of the other underground. This is a story of several different things. While the scenes are grisly and quite dismal, the themes are positive: Emma takes care of her baby brother and keeps him alive, proving that love conquers all. Mackie isn’t afraid to die and he doesn’t hold back even when he should fear the worst from happening, showing us that bravery can be rewarded, and it isn’t always thwarted.

This story is unique because it is a Young Adult story told from the point of view of a teenage boy faery. Also, it doesn’t take place in Ireland or an urban setting, and it never jumps around; this faery kingdom is enclosed within the town of Gentry. The main character has heart and desperation and stupid ideas that make him seem real. The female leads are tough and caring, the latter which is rarely found in modern YA books. That our narrator is dying gives him some much-needed sympathy. In a genre where faeries always rule in a dark way and they always win, this is a different story, making it very unique.

This book came out in September 2010.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

New Book I'm reading

I have heard only good things about this book. Maggie Stiefvater, the author of Shiver, and Lauren Kate, author of Fallen, both have comments on the cover of this book. The saying is "don't judge a book by its cover" but look at it and tell me--how can we not?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Arisia: Paranormal Romance Panel

I went to Arisia to meet my favorite author: Kelley Armstrong. She writes the Women of the Otherworld series, including Bitten (werewolf series), Dime Store Magic (witch series), Living with the Dead (necromancer), and more. Her books portray a main female character speaking in the first person. There are always a few things going on at once, which makes Armstrong a great mystery writer: there's the little plots, the relationship issues, the timing problems, and then the gaping end-plot, where everything comes together in whatever way. The characters in each of her books know the characters in her other books too, so a reader never has to miss anyone for long. I'm hoping she comes out with a fifth book in her Bitten series, to see who the new alpha werewolf is, but I'll try not to give too much away.

This year, Kelley Armstrong was the Writer Guest of Honor.

The first time I saw my writing-idol was at the Paranormal Romance Panel. Also there were Vikki Ciaffone, Nancy Holzner, Victoria Janssen, Gail Martin, and Seanan McGuire. I will write briefly about them at the end of this entry. Kelley Armstrong explained how she started writing Bitten after years of reading Anne Rice, when she realized that it was possible to write a story about the monster. The women explained that urban fantasy used to be horror, and then Science Fiction started getting into mystery, and the genres finally started to come apart in the last 10 or 20 years or so. The big thing to remember is that all rules in modern horror and paranormal romance have been suspended. The rules don't really exist anymore.

Paranormal Romance is primarily focused on a couple; and one girl is never alone on the cover, she's always with her significant other. This means that Kelley Armstrong doesn't write in that genre specifically, because, although romance exists in her stories, there is always more of a plot, with really well-developed characters that make a reader feel like it's just about the characters. So she writes urban fantasy. Sometimes it is a lot like horror, but for me, reading horror is a lot different from watching it. Gore is the one thing I can't stand, unless I'm reading it--then it's not so bad. My mind can lessen the extremity a little.

Seanan McGuire suggested that any book with porn in it should have a rating. She made up a plot-to-porn chart. Kelley's books are 20-50% porn, she said. This would be a wonderful disclaimer. I just know that if I'm ever going to read anything published by Circlet it's going to have an amazing sex scene every 10 or 20 pages, but with all the other publishing companies and genres, you never really know. I take McGuire's suggestion seriously, it would be incredibly helpful. Especially if one decided to lend said book to one's mother or younger sister... I'm still waiting to hand Bitten to my 15-year-old step sister, although I think she's more than prepared at this point to handle one or two sex scenes, especially with all the drama and things on TV she sees every day anyway.

The women left a suggested reading list, which I will list at the very end of this post.

Victoria Janssen writes erotica, and her latest novel is The Duke and the Pirate Queen and she used to write stories using the pen name Elspeth Potter. She is kind and a little quiet, from what I could tell.

Nancy Holzner grew up in western Massachusetts. She eventually became a medievalist and got her master's degree and a phD in English. She is now a full-time author and has written the books Deadtown, Hellforged, and Peace, Love and Murder (A Bo Forrester mystery).

Gail Martin loves ghost stories and other supernatural tales. She is the author of The summoner and The Chronicles of the Necromancer.

Seanan McGuire was born in California. She is the author of the October daye series, the InCryptid series, and the Newsflesh series, all urban fantasy. She also writes and records her own music.

Suggested Reading List:

• Linda Robertson Vicious Circle
• Lucy A. Snyder Spellbent
• Cecilia Denally Wicked Game
• Gail Carriger The Parasol Protectorate Books
• Lori Devoti
• Jeri Smith-Ready
• Carole Nelson Douglas
• Eileen Wilks
• Jennifer Estep
• Adrian Pheonix
• Kim harrison
• Katie MacAlister
• Smart Bitches, Trashy Books Blog

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

"Club Dead" simple to put down

*Extreme Spoilers!*

I've been reading this book that I found for free at Arisia this weekend- "Club Dead," by Charlaine Harris. I've heard that it's funny, so I'm reading it. I think sara used to read it too. The vampires have come out to the world and have agreed to stop sucking blood and killing humans, so now there's their favorite drink--"True Blood"--and on the cover it says "Now on HBO, True Blood, the original series based on the Sookie Stackhouse novels." Oh no, I'm thinking, I'm reading the True Blood books, that popular TV show. How annoying. It's not all that interesting, either.

Nothing exciting has happened, I've seen nothing unique or different, other than the idea that regular humans know about the vampires and this one human is dating one... maybe if they showed a little sex in that first scene? Or somewhere within the first 40 pages of the book? I realize now that I don't even really care about the character--she likes a vampire, okay, she's a telepath, okay, but there's no detail in there. What's it like being a telepath? How come we don't get to hear any surface thoughts that she must be picking up while she's working? Why does she like the vampire--other than his silent thoughts? I can't care about her boyfriend because I know nothing about him other than he's vamp and she likes him and lost her virginity with him.

Okay... so he's been kidnapped or something, there's a Queen of Louisiana... wow, it's really hard to keep reading. Not sure I can do it. She's lonely, she's pathetic, her only friend is a ditz, and we don't see them acting like friends, and she isn't very tough or confident. She likes summer and tans, her parents and grandmother are all dead, and why should we care about her?