I watch movies too

Any book person worth their salt has a handful of reading recommendations ready at any given time. As a genre fiction magpie, I constantly push my favorites from YA to fantasy to women’s fiction. The only thing I love more than finding a new favorite book is pushing it so hard on someone that they’re compelled to read out of fear for their personal safety. I’m that person.

Though I don’t get out to the movies much these days (See: children, job, attempts at writing), I do have a treasure trove of late 20th century film recommendations. Just like books, I insist that friends, co-workers, and random people in the Starbucks line watch these whether or not they’re available on Netflix. Here are just a few:

  1. Soapdish: Fictional soap operas and their diva casts are so much better than soaps IRL. Soapdish follows an aging starlet as she begins to face the realities of getting older and becoming obsolete in the entertainment industry. This hilarious gem features Sally Fields, Kevin Kline, Elizabeth Shue, Whoopi, a young RDJ, and a fake beach with its own wave machine. It’s amazing!
  2. Clue: Clue is my favorite board game and its movie adaptation has been an obsession for decades. It showcases a cast of familiar characters solving a murder mystery on a stormy night. We’re entertained as they tear all over the mansion searching for clues. With slapstick laughs and manic talent of Tim Curry, this is a must watch for any fans of the game.
  3. The Princess Bride: As unfathomable  as it may seem, there are people who haven’t seen this movie. From what I can tell they hate princesses, pirates, sword fights, catch phrases, and happiness.

Do you have any prerequisite films for friends?

Book Review: Neanderthal Seeks Human

Neanderthal Seeks Human by Penny Reid was recommended to me recently (when it was free on Kindle), and I picked it up on a whim. Show me a woman who can resist free books, and I’ll probably not talk to her–she’s obviously insane.

I loved Neanderthal Seeks Human from the very first page. We meet the main character Janie on the worst day ever. She’s stuck in the ladies room after she’s been fired, which is terrible on its own, and our girl Janie had only discovered her boyfriend cheated on her and moved out that morning. Pretty bad. I love reading disastrous openings like this–and wrote one myself–because I feel like we’re coming to the story at just the right moment. Everything is happening and we’re in it with the main character together.

Janie finds a soft landing place at her best friend Elizabeth’s apartment and begins to put the pieces back together with the support of her knitting group (lots of yarn chit chat to be had by a colorful cast of ladies). Janie’s life takes an unexpected and exciting turn when she encounters the gorgeous security guard from her office building, Quinn, on a night out.

One of the things that drew me to Janie was the way her mind worked. She’s obviously intelligent and full of trivial facts that monopolize her attention 99% of the time–unless Quinn is with her. Her hyper analytical and intellectual perspective added an interesting layer to her narration. Her view of things, especially herself, seemed so skewed at times that I would almost label her as an unintentionally unreliable narrator (though I’m sure she’d disagree with me).

I raced through this book like I stole it, and would recommend it to anyone looking for a delicious contemporary romance that’s light on sap. I’ll definitely be picking up it’s companion novels next!

ps- look like it’s still free on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Neanderthal-Seeks-Human-Knitting-City-ebook/dp/B00BUWA58E#productDescription_secondary_view_div_1490912027603

 

 

The Books That Made Me

Miranda Lambert has a song called “The House That Built Me,” and while I’m not a big country fan, I identify with the sentiment that a place can hold so many memories that it becomes a part of your story. Many of us have a place tied to childhood where our roots have grown so deep that no matter where we go, we’ll always be “from” that place.

Being a book person, I not only have places that have altered the chemical makeup of my being, but stories as well. Here are the books that made me:

  1. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton – I read this book in the 7th grade, and I sobbed ugly tears for the first time. No book had ever touched me the way Ponyboy Curtis’s coming-of-age story did. Maybe you never forget the first time a book made you feel.
  2. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry – I actually read The Little Prince in French for a class assignment, and I fell in love with it. The wisdom woven into the story is easily communicated to children, but has so much depth that adults connect it with it as well. It’s a rare thing that a story can teach you something new every time you read it.
  3. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho – I’ve heard conflicting opinions about this book, but it will always hold a special place in my heart because it reached me at a time when learning to follow your story had a great impact. As a senior in high school, about to go off on my own to college, I learned that nothing was more important at that moment than listening to my heart and not letting fear get in the way.

What books have built you?

Book Review: Some Kind of Magic

I was thrilled to win a copy of Mary Ann Marlowe’s debut, Some Kind of Magic, through a Twitter giveaway. (Can’t say Twitter never gave me anything.) The timing was perfect since I had this book on my TBR list. 🙌 to Twitter.

Eden Sinclair, biochemist and reluctant musician, suffers from the ennui of her late twenties without direction in her professional or personal life. Content to live just offstage of her brother’s musical success, she’d rather a steady paycheck than the thrill of following your dreams and the instability that it brings. One fateful evening she samples a new perfume from her lab and heads to one of her brother Micah’s shows. There she meets the handsome, tattooed musician Adam. Though he checks off exactly none of her relationship must-haves, she enters into a romance only to discover that he’s the famous Adam Copeland. When Eden realizes that the perfume she was wearing was actually a phermone enhancer, she begins to doubt that Adam’s feelings are genuine even as her own attraction to him grows more intense.

I really enjoyed the romance between Adam and Eden. The ultimate wish fulfillment of a rock star falling for a regular girl was one aspect that really pulled me in. I grew frustrated with Eden’s insecurity, though it was understandable given that she may have dupped her boyfriend with the science perfume. She was clearly a smart, attractive, talented woman; her insecurity was unwarranted and created more drama than necessary.

As someone who can’t sit by and let things happen to her, I was rooting for Eden to grab the reigns of her life and start taking some action. Eden’s dynamic with her parents was infuriating at best. I found myself unable to read the scenes where her mother was trying to set her up with a known alcoholic just because he was an MD. Watching Eden grow and learn to trust her own instincts instead of the flawed advice of dubiously well meaning parents was worth the wait.

Overall, I enjoyed spending time with Eden and Adam and am excited to see where this series goes. I’d recommend Some Kind of Magic to anyone who has ever wondered “what if” at a concert.

 

I Resolve to

It’s that time again–the new year, when resolutions are thrown around like coffee orders. And soon enough the gym selfies roll in on the heels of sustainably-sourced, artfully-plated weeknight dinners. The whole thing is almost enough for me to swear off bettering myself for good.

It’s not that I’m against resolutions; they represent wanting to make ourselves better than we were the year before. Whether it’s spending more time with your family, exercising, or eating better, I applaud your efforts. It’s amazing that there are so many people who recognize there are areas in their lives that they’d like to improve.

The thing is that resolutions are so…resolute. They don’t leave room for errors or the curve balls life throws to fuck with our plans. I’ve never made a resolution in part because it’s a lot of pressure, which got me thinking: what if I resolved to go easier on myself? What if 2017 was the year I gave myself a little more grace to make mistakes and ask for help when my plate is too full? That sounds like a resolution I could keep.

If there is anyone out there already quaking in their boots thinking about the resolutions they made to work out five days a week, read 100 books in 2017, cook healthy family meals, and make more time for your significant other, it’s ok. It’s going to be ok. Do what you can and know that you’re enough.

Book Review: The Hating Game

Guys. You guys. This. Book. I adored this book. The Hating Game is Sally Thorne’s debut novel. It’s a steamy, sexy, hilarious look into the lives of two office enemies: Lucy and Josh(ua). After their respective publishing companies merged, they find themselves as executive assistants to the co-CEOs and working in close quarters. Five days a week they go round after round with each other in a series of workplace shenanigans. Each has their own agenda and the claws come out when a promotion opportunity is announced.

I loved the snarky and professionally self-assured main character Lucy. She managed to be a kick ass girl boss despite personal insecurities. The stoic Joshua is classic alpha male, which I found irritating at times, but forgivable given his other charms. Sparks fly as they compete for the same promotion while their feelings for one another blur the lines of love and hate. Do they love to hate or hate to love?

The only thing I had trouble buying into was Lucy’s lack of female friends. She devoted countless hours to her career, and lost her best friend when the merger downsized her job, but I think someone as caring as Lucy would have other friends. I would have  liked to see that side of her character developed more with a girlfriend dynamic.

Overall, I haven’t read anything this light and enjoyable for a while. After a stressful holiday season, this was exactly what I needed. If you’re in the market for a fun romantic comedy, this is the book for you.

The Best Cookies EVER

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Brown Butter Salted Caramel Snickerdoodle (and my awesome Essie mani in A-List!)

There have been a lot of blog posts on writing and reading, but near enough on nonsense. So today, I present you with my first nonsense blog post!

I am a cookie aficionado. A connoisseur of sweets. A sugar savant. I just plain like baked goods.

Scrolling through my Facebook feed, I stumbled upon a quick-cut cooking demo for
Brown Butter Salted Caramel Snickerdoodles. They’re basically snickerdoodles with browned butter (which makes them more toffee like and brings out the nutty flavor of the butter) with a caramel candy center. They are divine!

I made them for a cookie exchange (one of the greatest and most enduring holiday traditions), and then again for my family, who were displeased with their initial cut of the first batch.

Having made them twice, I would say keep a close eye on your butter as you’re browning it. You want to keep it on the stove long enough to bring out the more subtle flavors, but not so long that it burns. This is a pretty fine line. The recipe called for a tbsp. of Greek yogurt. I ran out of it for the second batch and honestly couldn’t tell the difference.

For my next batch (there will be many more batches to come), I’ll probably experiment with not chilling the dough. Chilling it seemed to dry it out so much that it was difficult to work with. I ended up letting it come closer to room temperature before I started rolling the dough into balls. More pliable dough = easier to wrap around caramel candy square.

If your family is looking for a new treat to try this holiday season, I can’t recommend these gooey gems enough!

www.twopeasandtheirpod.com/brown-butter-salted-caramel-snickerdoodles

 

 

Recipe for Rejection Recovery

Last week, I participated in PitMad, a Twitter pitch event. It’s one of my favorite pitch events, and I am always blown away by the engaging, funny, and amazing tweets. I actually received three requests from my pitches. (I say actually because I was surprised and delighted that my Twitter pitches received interest.) Today, I received my first rejection from those requests. This is the first rejection I received for this manuscript. It hurts.

One of the worst things about writing is letting other people read your work. This sounds ridiculous because I wrote my book to be read, but allowing others to review/critique my work is painful. I don’t think this part will ever get easier or leave me feeling any less exposed. I’ve yet to figure out how to distance myself from something so personal in order to accept feedback and the inevitable rejections with grace.

I wish I knew the best way to dust myself off and keep going, but every “no” feels like the end. Logically, I know that rejections are part of the process and there will be more rejections to come. In my heart, I want to throw my laptop off the highest mountain I can climb. (I live in CO where a height of 14,000 ft. is achievable.) But, the only “no” that’s final is the one you don’t move forward from, and I’m not a quitter. For now, I retreat back to my happy place, the place that got me here in the first place: writing.

Upcoming Writing Contests

The end of the year is almost here! There are a lot of agents who have closed for queries until January, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still a few opportunities to get in front of some great agents over the next several weeks.

#PitMad

The last round of #PitMad for 2016 will be on December 1st. Never heard of it? It’s a Twitter pitch free for all and arguably one of the more fun Twitter pitch events out there. All you need is a finished MS and 140-character pitch (including the important #pitmad hashtag). There are rules for pitching, so make sure to do your research first. All of te details can be found on Brenda Drake’s blog: www.brenda-drake.com/pitmad

#PitMad tip: Have multiple versions of your Twitter pitch ready. You’re allowed to tweet up to 3 different pitches (per project).

“Dear Lucky Agent”

The 27th edition of “Dear Lucky Agent” is going on now through November 25th. If you have a completed women’s fiction novel, then this is a great opportunity! This content is put on through the Guide to Literary Agents blog and is judged by agent Irene Goodman of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency.

Full details here: www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/27th-free-dear-lucky-agent-contest-womens-fiction

Good luck!

In Defense of Insta-love

Goodreads is one of my favorite digital places. My Type-A nature means that I love categorizing things and I live for “top 10” lists, and Goodreads provides me with both of these in spades. But, sometimes, like any online space, there can be some hate. For me, the hate can be a little tough to handle.

When a reader marks a book as “read” on Goodreads, they’re given the option to assign a star rating and a provide written review. All good things. My time is precious and I rely on the Goodreads collective to let me know if a book is worth my time before I purchase it or go onto the library’s wait list.

Recently, I began a book (which shall remain nameless!) that I’d been waiting for on my library’s wait list. I did a quick Goodreads search to refresh my memory on the premise when I stumbled across a scathing DNF review (NOTE: DNF stands for did not finish). I have feelings on DNF reviews, which I won’t go too in depth about, but I don’t always feel that they’re fair since the reader didn’t finish.

One of the things this reader was particularly indignant about was the insta-love between the protagonist and handsome boy #2. As a reader, when the genre calls for it, I am willing and able to accept certain truths and circumstances as they pertain to a character’s backstory and origin. No, no one currently lives on the moon, but they could in a novel. No, District 12 isn’t a real place, but Katniss and Peeta live there. You get the point.

Insta-love is the descriptive term applied to relationships founded on nothing but an intense, mutual, and instantaneous attraction. What’s so hard to believe about that? How many love stories, both real and imagined, start with two people’s eyes meeting and something passing between them? That’s what attraction is. And how quickly relationships escalate from that moment to “I would die for you” obsession depends on the person.

I say this from experience. I’ve felt that spark you get in your chest when you meet someone for the first time and there is a je ne sais quoi there that, by definition, you can’t explain. It’s not just physical. It’s not just emotional. It’s an axis-tilting experience. There was before, and there is after.

Some insta-love scenarios are silly, especially when one of the characters is horrible. But it’s one thing that I consistently forgive in the books I read. After all, we could all use a little more love in the world, even the insta-love kind.