Fictionista, Foodie, Feline-lover

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Stephen King's library PSA

I remember this from when it originally aired.

Happy Earth Day

Don't just sit there, recycle something!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Truer words were never spoken.

This is why I love my Kindle so much. There are always freebies available so i don't feel so guilty.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

the most important op-ed piece you'll ever read Gabby Giffords has a few things to say

Gabrielle Giffords has written an eloquent, angry, heart-breaking op-ed piece excoriating the Senate for yesterday's vote to maintain the status quo on America's gun laws. You can read it here on the New York Times' site.  Giffords now heads up a group called "Americans for Responsible Solutions," and you can join the conversation on gun violence by going there.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

I'm outraged. And I vote. And I will remember this.

Best Craig's List Ad ever!

I'd put the link here but it's going to be flagged any minute now. The ad read: Escort needs writer. So, sure, I clicked on it.  (I've edited a HILARIOUS book written by a porn film editor, I figured, this escort had a story to tell.) The ad was one line. "Need writer in return I service you." Yes, the poster was looking for someone who would work for sex.  There's a story there for sure. And you know, I want to know that story. But not enough to reply to the ad.  Because I've learned to trust that little voice that says "Don't go through that door."

Monday, April 15, 2013

TBR--The One You Love by Paul Pilkington

I have some old fart friends who are (still) not convinced that indie-published books can be as good as (or better than) books published by traditional publishers. (Some truly believe that ANY traditionally published book is going to be better than ANY indie-pub title and that just makes me want to start underlining the grammatical errors in the last traaditionally published book I was sent to review. These same friends are also highly skeptical of books that are available free--either as part of a special promotion or as a marketing strategy or simply because...
I like to browse Kindle's best-seller lists, where they put books in two columns, one with prices and one iwth the freebies. And if a freebie sounds interesting, I grab it. This one caught my eye when I saw the book had 1232 reviews, a third of them five-star. Anyone who has published his or her own book knows how hard it is to get more than a few reviews, so any book that had that many people engaged enough to write a review is a book I figure I should read. I'll let you know what I thought.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Brother Sun--Sweetest Harmonies since Simon & Garfunkel

I admit it, at heart I'm still a folkie. I love traditional American and English ballads and have been listening to a lot of them while prepping a new writing project. I was fooling around on YouTube looking for the Peter, Paul, and Mary song "Well Well Well," hen I stumbled across  this completely different song, also called "Well, Well, Well And that's how I found out that singer Greg Greenway is now part of a trio called "Brother Sun" along with fellow singer-songwriters Joe Jencks and Pat Wictor.  I've known Greg since high school and have followed his career from afar for years. In addition to his passion for music, he has a passionate commitment to social justice that informs all his work. He doesn't just talk the talk, he walks the walk. I admire that. For more information about Brother Sun, check out their website.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

On the TBR pile Paul cornell's London Falling

This book sounds like it's right up my alley--a mixture of noir and fantasy. Read a review here and see what you think.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Ounctuation silliness

More proof that some people have too much time on their hands...

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

This is an unsolicited testimonial

I used to review books for the review site Bitten by Books, which specializes in paranormal books. I read a lot of great stuff, and found an intensely interactive community of readers. I did not know until recently that Bitten By Books offered advertising rates for authors who want to target those readers directly. I will definitely be talking to their sales people when Misbegotten comes out (in September if all goes well.) Check it out if you write paranormal; the exposure might be useful.  and even if you don't want to take advantage of their author services, you should check the site out. In addition to honest reviews, publishing news, blog tour stops and giveaways and contests, it's just a fun place to hang out.

Girls Write Now

I'd  never heard of Girls Write Now until today but I love the idea. The organization encourages girls to write their way to a better future. You go girls!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Death of a beach bunny

another baby boomer icon gone.
RIP Annette Funicello!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Review of Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the orld by Hauki Murakami

Call this Inception by way of The Wizard of Oz.  In fact, readers that loved either of those movies should embrace Murakami’s work which mixes a stylized reality with a dream world populated by people from the “reality.” The protagonist is a "calcutec," a human data processor perhaps inspired by William Gibson's Johnny Mnemonic.

The book slipstreams between science fiction, hardboiled noir, cyberpunk, horror, and literary fiction.  (There’s definitely a little Franz Kafka here.)  It's a dazzling, dizzying bit of writing that fits nicely into the "new weird" typified by China Mieville’s The City and the City, where two different worlds exist simultaneously in the same place.

Murakami is working with a palette that includes ambiguity, consciousness, and self.  In both sections of the book, the hero (an unnamed Narrator) is an outsider who’s being kept off-balance and trying to fit in. 

Perhaps the best way to read the book is to see it as a spy story in the Bourne Identity mold.  The Calcutec is a pawn in the info-war going on between the System and the Factory, and he ends up in End of the World severed from his shadow, the repository of memory.  The scenes where the narrator tries to help the librarian remember are filled with a delicate emotion that could be intense in performance.  (This material could easily be adapted into a play, with the different locations indicated by differing lighting.)

This novel is literate, adult entertainment with an edge of magic and a veneer of science fiction; a romp through the tropes of pop culture, and cross-culturally (and self-consciously) hip, in an almost cinematic way. In the end, this is a brilliant book.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Two Thumbs Way Down--roger Ebert is dead

RIP Roger Ebert
Somewhere in a box in my office is a photograph of my best friend Connie posing with Roger Ebert at the first Sundance film festival we went to. It's a terrible picture. ((I took it.) The lighting was bad and people were jostling around us and though Ebert was very gracious, it was clear he had other places to be and other things to do. The picture was taken before the cancer that took Ebert's jaw and then his voice and now his life. I am so glad that picture exists.
 I never missed watching Ebert and his much-missed colleague Gene Siskel on their show. After Siskel died, it just wasn't the same, no matter how many guest co-hosts they tried out or whoever ended up sitting across the aisle from Ebert eventually. I loved reading Ebert's witty tweets and the journal entries he began posting when he lost his voice. People are posting some of their favorites of these essays--the one he wrote about being an alcoholic, the one he wrote about loneliness and the Internet--and rereading them, I am newly filled with admiration for his clean, clear prose and thoughtful insights.  Vaya con Dios Roger.

Attention Bookies--L.A. Times Festival of Books this weekend!

The annual festival takes place this weekend, April 20-21. As always, admission is free. And as always, "books are just the beginning."  This year the festival is located on the USC Campus. Writers and others who'll be attending/performing include Paul Anka, Margaret Atwood, Philip Kerr (The Berlin Noir trilogy), Elinor Lipman, and Eric Van Lustbader. See all the details here.

Could you pass a US Citizenship Test?

That's a question the Christian Science Monitor is asking today and they've posted the test here.  Considering the heat of rhetoric surrounding the issue of immigration reform, it's a nice reality check.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Atomic Noir--

Somehow it seems like the time is right to pick up a copy of Atomic Noir, a collection of crime stories set in a time steeped in paranoia and suspicion when school kids practiced duck and cover drills and new homes came with fall-out shelters. Presented by Out of the Gutter books and Lou Boxer of Noir Con and featuring a roster of names you know, Atomic Noir features stories short enough to read by the battery-powered flashlight you keep in your emergency kit.(You do have an emergency kid don't you?)

Charlotte E. English wants to give you books!

charlotte E. English, one of my co-conspirators in the Drifting Isle Chronicles, is celebrating spring with discounts and giveaways of her books. Check it out here.

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words

If you're not the predator, you're the prey!

There are a lot of people who dream of selling a script for big money and seeing their work turned into a movie starring Ryan Gosling, Angelina Jolie or Seth Rogen. There are even more people who dream of exploiting these people, trashing their dreams by lying to them and misdirecting them and charging a lot of money for their services. I often cross paths with these predators and they make me angry. I also often cross paths with their victims and that makes me sad. Because people who trample on other people's dreams and take their money under false pretenses are scum.  This morning I ran into a writer on Craig's List who was looking for someone to format his script properly.He didn't know what he needed was someone with access to Final Draft software.  He'd been told " If it was in the correct script format for submitting to the "Writer's Guild he'd have a script that was a movie."
I don't know who this "reputable script advisor" (the writer's words) was, but I'd like to shake her until her teeth rattle.  the writer also admitted that he wasn't a professional writer in the ad, which raises even more warning flags for me. I breifly worked for a service that provided notes for would-be screenwriters and while I saw several promising scripts, I never saw one that simply needed re-formatting to "be a movie."
It's an insanely competitive business.  Being told all you need to do is reformat your work and you're good to go would be like an agent telling me all I need to do is change the margins on my novel manuscript and I'm on my way to a seven figure sale at Simon & Schuster. JUST. NOT. GONNA. HAPPEN.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Recommended Viewing Luther

I'd heard good things about this Grit-Brit cop show from the BBC starring Idris Elba (The Wire, The Big C), so when it popped up on Netflix, I couldn't wait to check it out. It's terrific. Dark. Psychologically complex. Layered. Saskia Reeves plays his boss as tough, smart and savvy. Others warn her character against betting too heavily on Elba's character, a damaged cop named John Luther, but her attitude is that he's an investment. The show premiered in 2010 and is still in production, so people just discovering the show have new episodes to look forward to.

A dolphin funeral?

anyone who lives with a pet knows that animals experience emotions and moods. One of the most provocative books I've read on the subject was The Emotional Lives of Animals. I thought of that book when this video popped up on FB today. It shows what looks like a dolphin funeral procession with a dead dolphin calf on an adult, followed by other dolphins. It's pretty heart-breaking and a reminder that we're not the only animals that feel joy and sorrow.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Review: Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

EVERY PARENT'S WORST NIGHTMARE comes true in the opening pages of Kimberly McCreight's debut novel Reconstructing Amelia. Stressed single mother Kate is called out of an important meeting at the law firm where she works as a litigator to deal with an emergency at the private school her teenage daughter Amelia attends. Kate's told that Amelia has been suspended, starting immediately, and that makes no sense because Amelia is not a trouble maker, not the kind of kid who gets suspended. Kate gets to Grace Hall expecting some answers, but all she gets is more questions because by the time she arrives, her daughter is dead, apparently as the result of a fall from the roof of an administration building.
 Later Kate willl be told that Amelia was caught plagiarizing an essay on a Virginia Woolf novel and that makes no sense either because Amelia was her mother's daughter, an academic overachiever who loved Woolf so much she posted quotes from her on her Facebook status updates. Kate only learns about the Facebook updates later, when she's desperately panning thorugh the electronic debris trail of her daughter's life in search of clues that might explain why Amelia is dead. The convenient answer is suicide and Kate is almost okay with that until she gets an anonymous text that says, "Amelia didn't jump." Those three words change Kate's perspective and as she focuses her grief and channels her anger into her investigation, she learns more than any parent ever should about the secrets Amelia was keeping.
This is a terrific debut novel that offers readers the same insight into the world of teenagers who aren't quite as grown up as they'd like to be, as Megan Abbott's The End of Everything. Amelia is a cmplex, complicated, layered character and as we, and Kate, learn more about her, we see that she was on a trajectory leading to tragedy long before anyone could have seen the warning signs. The answers to Kate's questions about how Amelia ended up on that roof and what really happened drive us through the narrative, but really, it's the young characters and the intensity of their inner lives that keep us engaged. The publisher (and some of the reviewers) have labeled this a "literary mystery," but that's really just a backhanded compliment saying that the writing is smart and self-assured. If you're in the mood for a character-driven mystery that's more interested in the WHY of the death than the WHO, Reconstructing Amelia is the book you want.

Chocolate buttermilk Cake Recipe

Photo by Nadia Jasmine
I know what you're thinking. Cake? How can you be thinking about cake on the Monday after Easter? Didn't you get enough chocolate in your Easter basket? And normally, making something sweet would be the last thing on my mind.  But there was leftover buttermilk in the refrigerator and I didn't feel like making biscuits. (I love the taste of buttermilk in baked goods but would rather chew glass than actually drink it.)

This is an incredibly easy cake to put together and doesn't take much time. You really don't even have to frost it, just serve it like a snack cake cut into squares. Or you can bake it into cupcakes.

Chocolate Buttermilk Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
            2 cups flour
            1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
            1 ½ tsp. baking soda
            Scant tsp. salt
In another bowl, cream together:
            1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
            1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, softened
When the sugar/butter mixture is fluffy, beat in
            3 large eggs, one at a time
            2 tsp. vanilla extract
Mix the cocoa/flour mixture with the sugar/butter/egg mixture, alternating with:
            1 ½ cups buttermilk
Begin and end with the flour mixture.  Don’t overbeat.
Pour into a 13 x 9 brownie pan that’s been treated with non-stick cooking spray.  You can bake this cake in round layers but I like to make it in a 13 x 9 rectangular pan for easy snacking.
 Bake for 40 minutes or until a knife or toothpick comes out clean.
Cool the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Invert the cake to cool it completely.  (Or, you can just leave it in the pan so you don’t have to scrounge up a rectangular plate to put the naked cake on.)
Frost when the cake is cool, if you want to.

Chocolate Buttermilk Frosting
½ stick unsalted butter
3 Tbsp. buttermilk
3 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Combine the butter, buttermilk and cocoa powder in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
Remove from heat and add the confectioner’s sugar.  If it’s too stiff, you can add a little bit of sweet milk.
Beat until smooth.  Add the vanilla. Spread on the cake.

Blogs to Watch Out For: The Diabetic Foodie

If you're diabetic or just want to eat great food that's good for you, check out Diabetic Foodie, where the recipes include gluten-free and heart healthy and completely tasty-sounding dishes.