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Monday, December 30, 2013

No shirtless dudes here

The number two rule* of being a writer is self-promotion. Because of that, many writers (particularly self-pubbed writers) create what are called "teasers." These are advertisements for a book, usually self-made, that are designed to promote interest in said book. A photo or a graphic with text designed to hook potential readers, like a one sheet for a movie.

Now, this is a bit of a generalization, but writers of romance (and novels with a significant romantic subplot) tend to create teasers filled with objectively attractive people. And why wouldn't you? You're selling a fantasy, you might as well go full-throttle.

And yet.

I find it kind of troubling that romance writers in particular have a tendency to load up their Pinterest boards and Facebook pages with photo after photo of ripped shirtless dudes.

Now, I love a nice set of shoulders and abs as much as the next straight girl, but I must say that as a feminist, I find it kind of distasteful that as writers we're apparently pushing the "objectification of women = bad; objectification of men = totes cool" agenda.

You'll never catch me making the (fallacious) argument that men are portrayed as negatively in pop culture and media as women. They are not. By and large, our films, television shows, and books all show men in the active "doer" role, and women in the passive "supporter" position.

But just as it is gross -- and yes, I mean gross -- to write female characters who are just male wish fulfillment, it is also gross to write men who never work out but maintain a magical six-pack. Science, folks. It doesn't work that way.

So friends, countrymen, can we stop with the mini ads filled with rippling pectorals, perfect H&M model hair, and lots and lots of photoshop?

Thanks.



* The first rule is to write, obvi.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

TBR in 2014

This list from Stacked is almost overwhelming in its offering of good new YA books to read in 2014.

I am most excited to read The Break-Up Artist by Philip Siegel (Check out his blog! It's over there on the right!), Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins, We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, and if I keep listing books I might as well just list the whole list.

So go check it out!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

What? I'm only ...18 months late with this one

Code Name Verity. Can we talk about Code Name Verity already?!

Unlike Fables (sorry, Fables), this one lived up to all the hype. I bought it for Hannah and Echo for Christmas and am currently forcing my dad to read it, too.

I'd resisted reading Code Name Verity for the exact same reason I put off The Fault in Our Stars for over a year--I thought there was no way this book could live up to all the expectations built by my Twitter feed. (Well, that, and that I found the original cover surprisingly uninspiring. I am kind bad that way with covers.) But the thing is ... it was even better than I'd expected.

From the Amazon description:
Oct. 11th, 1943-A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it's barely begun.

When "Verity" is arrested by the Gestapo, she's sure she doesn't stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she's living a spy's worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.

As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage, failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy? 


The only trouble with this book is that, much like Gone Girl, I can't say too much about it, other than what is already written on the back cover. I will tell you this, though: If you feel lost for the first few chapters, don't worry. You're not alone. 

Go. Read it. You won't regret it.

Friday, December 27, 2013

the reading wagon

I am back on it! Or off it, whichever means I'm reading again.

It has been a crazy past few months in Ru-Land, I will be honest. I've never been so grateful to have a week off work in which I did absolutely nothing but recharge.

 Most recently read: Fables; Legends in Exile

I have been wanting to read Fables ever since I heard (from more than one person) that it was the comic series that Once Upon a Time ripped off. To be fair, I don't think that's entirely the case, though there are definitely some strong similarities with their concepts.

From the description: When a savage creature known only as the Adversary conquered the fabled lands of legends and fairy tales, all of the infamous inhabitants of folklore were forced into exile. Disguised among the normal citizens of modern-day New York, these magical characters have created their own peaceful and secret society within an exclusive luxury apartment building called Fabletown. But when Snow White's party-girl sister, Rose Red, is apparently murdered, it is up to Fabletown's sheriff, a reformed and pardoned Big Bad Wolf, to determine if the killer is Bluebeard, Rose's ex-lover and notorious wife killer, or Jack, her current live-in boyfriend and former beanstalk-climber.

Best moment? When you realize that "Prince Charming" has married not only Snow White, but Cinderella, and they've both divorced him for cheating on them.

Second-best-moment? A sly reference to Narnia, with the Fables claiming they didn't attempt to stop the Adversary from killing the Lion, since no one much liked his self-righteousness anyway.

Overall thoughts: I've heard great things about the Fables graphic novels and they've won buckets of awards, but the first volume didn't really win me over. I'll check out the next one to see if it picks up steam, but for now put me down for a solid "meh."

Have any of you read Fables? At what point do they reach "un-put-down-able" status?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Risk analysis

Friend: Let's say Zion National Park had Bring Your Dog to the Park Day. And I wanted to take Spencer to the top of Angels Landing, with his leash on the whole time. How much would I have to pay you to make that happen?

Me: With a leash and harness, and your promise to jump after him in an attempt to rescue him if slid off the path ... THERE IS NO AMOUNT OF MONEY THAT WOULD MAKE ME RISK THAT DOG. Final answer.

Friend: What if he and I flew in on a helicopter, they lowered us onto the top, and we hung out there for 15 minutes. So no need to scale the narrow trail.

Me: If the helicopter remained hovering above, at a distance that wouldn't create too much wind, but which could quickly participate in a rescue mission if something went awry ... I'd think about it.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Eyeball explosion

Last week, I woke up feeling like I had scratched my eye somehow. I called my pops, since he is an optometrist. He advised taking it easy--if I had scratched my eye, the pain should go away relatively quickly, as the cornea is the quickest-healing part of the body.

But by the next morning, the pain and light sensitivity weren't going away. (I'm sure my coworkers, when they saw me sitting in my office with my sunglasses on, thought I was hungover.) THAT, for future reference, is definitely not normal. If you experience these symptoms, call your healthcare professional STAT.

My dad called a fellow optometrist friend in Salt Lake to find out if he could squeeze me in immediately.

As it turns out, I had a virus that was attacking my eye and had already resulted in a corneal ulcer--basically a big, gaping sore right on my eyeball. My dad's friend had Serious Concern Voice, to say the least, and when I called my dad to report the news, he had Severe Father/Optometrist/Genetic-Predisposition-to-Panic Panic. See, left unchecked, this virus can result in permanent scarring of your cornea--as in, permanent damage to your vision.

Luckily my virus was caught early -- not early enough to save me from a few days of unpleasantness, but early enough to save me from any scarring on my axis of vision. I was sent home with a sample tube of medication right as the other symptoms (namely, your typical cold-and-flu season congestion, fatigue, and aches and pain) set in. I've spent the last 5 or so days in my house, unable to do much of anything other than put gel in my eyeball and swallow some ginormous pills. TV and computer screens irritated my eye, and reading for long periods tuckered me out. Skiing was definitely out of the question.

When you can't do anything but reflect, you tend to do a lot of reflection.

Here are some of my thoughts.

1. At the optometrist, I had the delightful experience of listening to a patient attempt to dicker over the cost of contacts, like they were a scarf at some flea market. The receptionist listened patiently, and then with increasing annoyance, as she explained that, No, you can't have two weeks' free supply just because

It became totally clear that this patient viewed her doctor not as a medical professional, but someone akin to the Comcast cable guy. How much can you get me for free? And if you can't get me that for free, well, I'll just take my business elsewhere! In fact, she probably would have treated the cable guy with a little more respect since you can't just wander down to Costco with a prescription for cable and get a better deal. No, when it comes to whether or not you'll get to watch this season of Keeping up with the Kardashians, you actually have to take or leave what you're offered. But when it comes to healthcare, well, there's always wiggle room -- amiright?

I am sort of sensitive to this to begin with, since my dad is an optometrist, and his tales of people trying to get the maximum for the minimum are pretty legendary. But people, if you want to treat your vision like a set of tires from Sam's Club, BE MY GUEST. Seriously. Just, if you would be so kind, have the good graces to do it in the privacy of your own home or car or at least the parking lot. I'm not going blind thanks to guy that you were too good to buy contacts from because you could save $10 online, so maybe save your bitching for a few steps outside his office.

It's just polite.

2. Speaking of the cost of vision care, eyeball medicine is expensive. Before insurance, a tiny 5 ml tube was over $300. After insurance, it was still around $120. (I'd like to work a "Thanks, Obama" in here somewhere, but I'm not sure this is the right place...)

At the Walgreen's drive through, the pharmacy asked me doubtfully, "Are you sure you want this? It's pretty pricey."

Hmm. Severe pain and eventual blindness, or $120. Dilemma.  

SERIOUSLY PEOPLE. BUY THE MEDICINE.* VISIT YOUR OPTOMETRIST REGULARLY. DON'T GO BLIND.

WHY AM I STILL ALL-CAPPING? BECAUSE PEOPLE SUCK.






* For the record, I know that there are some people who legitimately could not afford the $120, and that is a rant for a different time.

But middle- to upper-class Americans, could you all just pull your heads out for a second and stop expecting professionals, whether they be attorneys or doctors or dentists or optometrists or whoever, TO GIVE YOU SHIT FOR FREE.**

Do you work for free? No? Then why do you expect someone who committed tens of thousands of dollars and years of their life to their professional training to do so?

If you want to roll the dice on doing your own divorce or your own taxes or buying your contacts from the same retailer from whom you get cheap DVDs or meatballs in bulk, that is completely your prerogative and it might work out really well for you. But please don't compare the cost of those services to the cost of having someone who actually knows what they are doing performing them. They are not the same, and it is an insult to imply otherwise. And if doing those things on the cheap worked out for you, it's not because you are better than people who paid the freight. It's because you are just luckier.

May your luck never run out.



** To family members who read this blog, and have gotten free contacts from my pops from over the years ... or friends who have asked for, and received, free legal advice from me in the past ... obviously, this doesn't apply to you. Friends and family get discounts. Everyone else, get your credit card number ready.




Friday, November 29, 2013

More random thoughts

1. I love Forrest Gump. I know people like to rip on it in hindsight for being sentimental, and being the movie that won Best Picture over another modern classic (Pulp Fiction), but I will always love it.

My favorite line is when Forrest tells a woman on the bus bench, a look of pride on his face, "You would not believe me, but I can run like the wind blows."

2. You know how I don't like when people call their pets their "babies" and refer to themselves as "Mom" and "Dad"? As such, Spencer and I are just best buddies, good pals, owner and pet.

About a month ago, Diego got a pair of kittens. Continuing the anti pet-family sentiment, he calls himself their benefactor and they are his wards. Let's make this happen, America.

3. With a day and a half left in NaNoWriMo, I am only 13,000 words behind. Wish me luck!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

And now for some brief updates

1. I'm only 10,000 or so words behind on my NaNoWriMo project, but I still have confidence I can catch up this weekend.

2. Work is crazy-pants, but I plan to take off some time around the holidays anyway, because what is life worth if you can't spend some of it sitting around, watching American Horror Story, and eating licorice?

Plus, in case some of my real life friends haven't noticed ... things just got a lot easier around my office. Wink wink.

3. Speaking of TV, I am obsessed with Reign's soundtrack. Feel free to take as many liberties with European history as you'd like, CW.

4. What is it about working on one project (or at least, thinking about one project that you don't have time to work on) that gives you a bunch of ideas for other projects?

5. I don't know why I decided to plan to remodel my kitchen at the same time as NaNoWriMo, but I did. I went to the IKEA and I conquered the weird computer program. I felt like Ender, reaching the end of the world. The only problem now is that I may be stuck trying to find a new contractor, after the contractor who convinced me to knock out a wall now says he may be unavailable until mid-January. 

Any thoughts, InternetLand?

6. Pub trivia = awesome.

7. I have some critiquing to do this weekend that I am greatly looking forward to. I don't know what it is, but critiquing always seems to clear the cobwebs out of my brain.

8. I'm replacing my old, unusable fireplace with a new gas fireplace for Christmas. Now I just have to decide on the new tile to surround it. I'm thinking something like this:

(Image from Houzz.com)


What have you all been doing?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

This is how I NaNo: A day in the life post

7:45 AM: Wake up, after hitting the snooze button multiple times. Shower and dress for work.

8:15 AM: Take Spenner-bear to doggie daycare. This lets me work late (at real work) and write this evening.

8:4-something AM: Arrive at work, buy Red Bull and bran muffin from cafeteria, boot up computer in office. Purchase long-overdue wedding gift (sorry, Alice!). Fill out sales order for the IKEA planning guy to come to my house and design my future dream kitchen.

Get to work LAWYERING.

10:30 AM Take a YouTube break. How did I not know about "Where Mah Boats At" before now?

11:45 AM Leave for a Board meeting. Lunch is a sad, dry turkey sandwich.

12:45 PM Back at the office.

MORE LAWYERIN.

2:45 PM Internet brain break.

3:00 PM SO MUCH LAWYERING!

5:00 PM Mini writing break. 370 words -- not awesome, but not terrible.

5:15 PM Administrative tasks (like trying to organize my files) before I leave work.

6:00 PM Leave work, go pick up Spencer.

7:00 PM Writing

8:15 PM Convince Diego that we definitely need to go get some sushi. Verdict: Not a huge fan of YellowFinn in Sugarhouse, but it will do in a pinch.

9:30 Writing and watching The Conjuring
 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Nov. 5th

NaNo update:

1. Short story number one is moving along swimmingly. I way overshot my writing goals on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday -- which excellent news, since I only wrote 165 words yesterday. (For the record, I have a damn fine excuse. It's just not fit for internet consumption.) If you would like to be my NaNo buddy, add me here.

2. I downloaded some great books, because nothing inspires my writing like being in a reading frame of mind. One of those books was New Adult novel I'd heard great things about in the Twittersphere. I started it late last night and was immediately impressed with the writing. And then ... things took a turn. Book, why you gotta do me this way?

How is this Fifth of November rocking for all of you? Any plans to watch V for Vendetta tonight?

Friday, November 1, 2013

All I want for NaNo


I'm doing National Novel Writing Month again this year, though who knows how it will go. 

I started this year with a lot of goals for my writing. So far, some have been checked off the list, some are in a holding pattern that I can't talk about quite yet, and others are looking more and more unlikely to be finished in 2013. But with NaNoWriMo, I've got an opportunity to work on something totally new -- a couple of novella ideas that I've had rolling around in my brain for awhile. 

It's sometimes hard, trying to be a professional writer while also being a professional anything-else. Having goals helps. 

In my ideal world, I become a hybrid author--someone who is both traditionally and self-published. I'd love to put out two books a year, but knowing how slow I draft, it's more likely to be one. I love smaller, independent publishers, but who wouldn't also love to be published by one of the Big 5? 

But in order to be a successful hybrid author, you have to be able to write more than I am currently writing. Successful self-published authors generally get that way by putting out multiple books a year. That's not even counting the books I'd hope to get traditionally published. And between my regular job and regular life, I am very lucky to finish one book every year.

Is there a way to change this? Everyone has heard the story of James Joyce writing just 6 words a day some days. On some level, writing is an art. It can't be rushed, and you can't change your normal instincts. For example, I am a character-girl. I have lots of ideas for plots, but until I hear the voice of my main character, I don't get too far in my drafting. That's just the way I think.

But on another level, writing is a skill, and like any skill, it can be improved. Not just the quality of your writing--but the actual act of writing. That is how I reformed my pantsing ways and became a plotter (for the record, there is nothing wrong with pantsing -- but when you're a slow drafter like me, it can kill productivity). And now that I've mastered the use of an outline, my next goal is pushing myself to write faster.

So what I am really hoping to get out of NaNoWriMo this year--aside from two novellas--is practice with drafting faster and more efficiently than I normally do. Hopefully by forcing myself to shoot for 1,667 words a day for 30 days, I will get in the habit of tapping in to my inner speed-writing demon.

What are you hoping to get out of NaNoWriMo? And if not you're not doing NaNo, what are you hoping to get done in this, the second-to-last month of 2013?



PS: If you'd like to support NaNoWriMo and some great authors, check out The Spirit of Christmas Anthology. All proceeds go to NaNoWriMo and inspiring artists to chase their dreams.  

To sign up for the "All I Want for NaNo" bloghop, sign up below:

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Game Plan

Why, yes, I am attempting NaNoWriMo for the third time, and maybe this time I will even succeed.

The last two years, I ran out of steam about halfway through the month. It wasn't that the my story didn't excite me (the first one actually turned into a great project), it was that seeing the deficits became overwhelming.

In case you didn't know, in order to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days, you have to write about 1,667 words a day. If you track your progress via the NaNo website, your stats counter will show you your daily average and how many words you will have to write in order to stay on track.

As someone who has no real average (4,000 one day can be 60 the next), that is really daunting.

So this year, I have a plan to get me to the NaNo finish line for the first time.

1. Two different ideas
Where's the rule that the 50,000 words have to be the same book? Nowhere, I tells ya! So now when I am stuck, I am going to switch over to a second project. Hopefully I get two novellas (or at least two great starts on two novellas) by the time December rolls around.

2. Mini writing retreats
I have a few vacation days at work and I plan to use them (and only one time for skiing). Fortunately, I plan to meet up with some writings pals at various coffee shops for when I need human interaction, and Write Club meetups on Twitter for when the Internets will do.

3. Write Or Die
 I hate this program already, but I feel like it's going to do great things for me.

4. The two great catch-ups.
It is sort of inevitable that at some point, I will fall behind. It's just my writing style -- sometimes I have to stare out a window for an hour or so to figure out what I'm going to do. Fortunately, November comes gift wrapped with two very special holidays: Veteran's Day and Thanksgiving. If I can double my production over these two holiday weekends, I will hopefully have enough buffer to make it through.

5. Clean living.
This one is going to sound crazy town, but bear with me. Normally when I am writing, either fiction or memos, I stuff my face with Jolly Ranchers, licorice, and Diet Coke. It's a habit I got into in junior high, and it's something that takes a far larger toll on my adult metabolism than I'd like to admit.

So in addition to striving for 1,667 words a day, I am also going to ax the caffeine and refined sugar from my life, and add in more regular workouts. Motivational memes on Pinterest lead me to believe that this will have a positive impact on me, both physically and mentally, and who can argue with Pinterest?

Any of you all doing NaNo next month? And if you're not, want to start a different, unrelated goal so we can cheer each other on anyway?

Friday, October 25, 2013

Curses!

I'm in a few Facebook groups related to writing and someone posed an interesting question: Do the characters in your novels swear?

It's sort of strange, when you think about it. I can see why an author might want to refrain from using certain vulgarities. If the author is religious and has convictions against those sort of words; if the author writes for tweens or even teens; if the author writes in certain time settings (think Regency period) where swearing was some serious hankie dropping business.

But I have to admit, my first thought about that question was, "Hell yes, my characters swear."

I'm not going to throw a side-eye at any author who refuses (for whatever reason) to make their characters swear. I will give a major side-eye, however, to any completed novel that has modern adults say stuff like, "That stinks" unironically. There is a line called realism. If you cross that line, no matter how pure your intentions, you've made a big error in the land of fiction writing. (To be clear, the line goes both ways. Don't make the mistake of thinking you can signal character traits like TEEN or THUG or HEARTLESS BUSINESS MAN just by tossing some vulgarities into their dialogue. I mean, who are you, E.L. James writing about currency changes in China?*)

For the record, it is entirely possible to write a novel with realistic characters in a modern setting and not have any of them swear. That's what I set out to do with my last manuscript, JAYMA RODGERS GOES TO COLLEGE, since I knew I was going to be submitting it to LDS publishers. That being said ... had Jayma and her friends been hunting down a serial killer, involved in a car crash, lost their jobs, or had any other high-stress, high-drama moment come their way ... I'm not sure I could say the same. JRGTC was a romantic comedy set in college, and while there is conflict, it's more of the "mixed romantic messages," "loneliness," "failed chemistry tests," and "existential angst of being in college and not knowing what you're doing" variety. In other words, it's slice-of-life kind of stuff.

My current project is a bit heavier, and accordingly, the characters swear. It's a part of their teenage, dealing-with-drama-beyond-that-should-have-been-beyond-their-maturity-level thang. (Oh mygosh, I am so old. Thang.)

Do I feel bad about it? Hell, no. (The cursing, not the-being-old.)

That being said ... I think no matter what kind of character I wrote, there are certain things I just wouldn't have them say, words I consider far more offensive than any technical swear could be. (This is me, getting off my high horse.) So I suppose everyone has a line in the sand. Except Stephen King, because I'm pretty sure there's nothing that man won't write, and man, I love him for it.

Writers, where is your "line"? Do you have one? And readers, what is the most egregious example of non-realistic dialogue you've ever encountered? (Either of the vulgar/attempting to avoid being vulgar, or the "this clause modifies the provisos!"* variety?)

Finally, I leave you with this thought, dear Blog friends, from a cherished film from my childhood:

"He worked in profanity the way other artists might work in oils or clay. It was his true medium; a master."
-Ralphie, A Christmas Story



* For those of you who haven't had the pleasure of reading 50 Shades of Grey, Ms. James characterizes her 27-year-old bazillionaire Christian Grey by having him shout nonsense into the phone like, "I don't care about currency changes in China, damnit!" and "The remaining subclauses of this clause are to be read subject to this proviso and the clauses above! Ugh, gosh, why is everyone so much dumber than me?" 

So. Yeah. I still do not know what Christian Grey's company does. Though, to be fair, Christian's lady-love Ana (a college graduate and an English major) responds to all of it with "Holy crap!" and "Jeez." 

Ahem. Let that sink in for a second.

The realism thing cuts in a lot of different directions.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Never (Again)

Today Theresa Paolo's debut novel Never (Again) comes out and she's hosting a blog hop to celebrate. I have wanted to read Never (Again) ever since I heard about it, so I hope you will too!

So is there anything you have ever vowed you'd never do again, only to find yourself ... doing it again?

1. Well, clearly I repeatedly sign up for blog hops and then post a few days late. (Sorry, Theresa! Everyone, still read her book!)

2. I am addicted to gossip websites. I read Perez Hilton daily in law school and now I've moved on to Dlisted. I love trashy magazines and if I weren't too cheap I'd probably buy them every time I went to the grocery store.

Periodically I remember this habit is trashy and gross, but at the end of the day I find nothing more relaxing that sleaze.

3. Dating websites. Oh, dating websites. I know I have never had success on you (every guy I've ever dated was someone I met in real life, not InternetLand), but when faced with the prospect of living the rest of my life surrounded by people who are either already coupled-up or gay (meaning I will never meet another straight, single man my age for the foreseeable future), I get desperate and sign up for yet another dating website.

On my most recent blind date excursion, I ran into my boss, my date "forgot his wallet," and then he asked if we could walk around Bed, Bath, and Beyond for a little bit. Apparently he needed a new toilet scrubber and wanted to check out his options.

So, dear readers, any awkward habits you'd like to confess? No? Well then, I think the only thing to do at this point is go read Theresa's book!


Monday, October 14, 2013

I won't be satisfied until I see one zombie ride another zombie into battle

Memo to the world: If you go on a blind date with a guy who thinks last night's episode of The Walking Dead, featuring zombies raining down on people as they fell through a rotting ceiling (repeat: ZOMBIES RAINING DOWN) did not have enough zombie action ...

Run.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Banana fana fo fana

Diego adopted two rescue kitties this weekend.

So far, Spencer loves them. The kitties ... sometimes love Spencer. Sometimes they hate him. Sometimes they are indifferent to him. (Cats, amiright?) But Spencer always loves them. Last night he spent about an hour grooming (read: licking) one of them as it purred in delight.

Spencer's new theme song: We Can't Stop (Loving the Kitties) by Miley Cyrus







Right now their names are either Taco and Tim Gunn, or Fergus and Sebastian.

Please feel free to weigh in on the debate.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Adventures in dating land

Anyone puzzled by why guys on first dates ask about whether you play sports? What do they think you're going to say, "Umm, yeah, I'm hoping to make varsity this year"?

No, dummy, I'm 29. I don't play sports.

And point of clarification, frisbee golf does not count as a sport.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Really, I'm just jealous because I don't know which persona I should be cultivating

Have you heard of online image crafting? It's this phenomenon where people post Facebook statuses and Instagrams designed solely to portray a version of themselves that does not actually exist.

This isn't a new thing--as long as social media has been around online, people have been (consciously or unconsciously) sharing pieces of themselves that are only the most flattering. (At least ... we hope so.)

But as more and more people Tweet, Facebook, Instagram, Vine, and blog every moment of their lives, the more people start to present not just the best possible versions of themselves, but a does not quite really exist version of themselves.

Cute photos of outfits. Kids doing adorable things. Beautiful meals. Oooey-gooey texts from a loved one. A perfectly neat office. A sweaty-but-still-adorable-nose after a long workout. A sunset with #nofilter, because if the sun sets without someone Instagramming it, was it really enjoyed?

Anyway.

This is a long post just to explain why I will never put anything online about loving the gym* or General Conference.** NEVER GONNA HAPPEN.







* Oh, the gym. How I hate the gym. It would be such a filthy lie if I ever said otherwise. It's weird to me that once upon a time, I really did love to run, because ever since I turned 19, I despise physical activity. If I were to Instagram myself working out, all you guys would see is a sweaty, resentful, uncoordinated, still-fairly-chubby girl in a free credit union t-shirt.



** This is like church on cocaine for non-Momos. I physically cannot roll my eyes hard enough at people who feel the need to Facebook about how much they love General Conference.


Friday, October 4, 2013

Why I am still interested in writing New Adult ... that other post notwithstanding ...

I've made my disdain for the TV show Girls clear before, but even though I don't love it, it highlights an interesting phenomenon -- twenty-somethings today face a terrible job market combined with crippling student loans. They usually can't afford afford good healthcare, but they can afford relatively small luxuries like Starbucks, iPhones, and the occasional pair of designer jeans. They were raised by parents with a 50% divorce rate and were exposed to more armchair psychology than is good for anyone.

And as one of them, I must say, it pisses me off when our entire generation is systematically dismissed as entitled whiners.

I worked hard to get where I am today, and it makes me mad that I will never achieve the same levels of success as people who simply managed to arrive where I am ... five, ten, fifteen, twenty years earlier. People who are now calling me and people like me speshul snowflakes for wanting (to someday achieve) what they already got.

I love my current day job, but I can't think too hard about it without getting sucked into a rage spiral. You see, I don't make very much -- but I work with people who do. Because they got raises when times were good, with benefits that are vested and can never be taken away. And now times are bad, and those of us on the bottom of the ladder are supposed to just be grateful for a job. Wanting more is to be labeled "entitled."

Like I said, I love my job. I love that it's interesting, I love that it's flexible. But I'm not so unrealistic to think that I will always be able to say that, when I know that the 5 attorneys at the bottom of the ladder will always have a very different (smaller) compensation package than others, despite expending very different (bigger) amounts on our degrees.

Wanting a fair shake is not "entitled." I'm not asking to make the same amount of money as an attorney with 30 years of experience. I just want to be on the same bell curve.

At my old job, I did a lot of work I didn't like. (In all fairness, post-2008 economic meltdown, a lot of people did a lot of work they didn't like.) And one day, I ran into a partner on the elevator on my way to do some of that work. He smiled awkwardly at me and said, "We've all put in our time."

The problem is, that was absolutely not true. He hadn't ever had to do what I was doing--and certainly not for an entire year of his life. "We've all put in our time" was just something we both told ourselves to feel better about the situation.

I left that job, in part because of that situation. After I left, I heard that the firm fired most of the remaining people who were supposedly just "putting in their time." Putting it in for what?

Not to sound like an Occupier*, but the fact is simply this--for the bottom 99% of us, we are all worse off financially than our corresponding 99% were ten, twenty, or thirty years ago.** And there is nothing wrong with acknowledging that, and frankly, being a little angry about it.

New Adult, as a category of fiction, is important. It's important because art ought to reflect life, and not just the lives of the lovelorn or privileged-but-sad. There are a lot of authors who use New Adult to tackle topics "too dark" for Young Adult literature -- mental illness and sexual assault being the big two. But are those issues that only affect that 20-and-over set? I don't think so.

That's not to say that those stories aren't relevant, but they aren't the only stories.

I love the idea of New Adult literature because I want to read about a helicoptered generation trying their hand at independence for the first time. I want to read about boys and girls trying to become men and women in a society that has a really warped idea of what it means to be a man or a woman. I want to read about people with 6-figures of student loan debt trying to make it happen on a $30,000 annual salary, without coming off as woefully tone-deaf about bigger problems.

I love the idea of New Adult because I loved college and if I could redo college, I absolutely would--without changing much at all. I love the idea of New Adult because the question of whether your twenties are a wasted decade or the foundation to your entire adult life is still a question people ask themselves. (See this Ted talk for an answer I think we can all agree upon.)

Despite all my gripes, I think the best of New Adult is yet to come.





* PS, who decided on "Occupier" instead of "Occupant"? Occupant would have been much better.

** For the record, I am no doomsayer decrying our times. I like 2013. I'd rather live in 2013 than any other time, because I love equality, technology, and bras that are shaped like boobs instead of cones. Now is great! I just hope it gets even better, because our collective financial situation is nothing to be happy about, and is something definitely worth trying to fix.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Totes my goats

Lately I haven't been doing too much other than work, reading, and hanging out on the couch. It sounds like a rut, and when it comes to writing I have to admit it is, but I've been enjoying it.

If you're in your own rut, feel free to check out Homeland (season 2), Breaking Bad, Eleanor and Park, Fangirl (double recommendation for Fangirl, in fact), and Project Runway (R.I.P., Kate. Your dresses were too cute for a show that has kept Alexandria and her weird tattered skirts).

Last night I went to a mini-law school reunion because a friend was in town. I forgot how much I liked hanging out with old friends and gossiping like crazy.* My friend Roger introduced me to the phrase "totes my goats," which he says he can only use at work without criticism, since his kids groan, "Dad, don't say that!" every time he uses at work.

You guys, we are officially old.




* Favorite law school reminiscence: Our friend T, who received the pro bono award at graduation for providing the most service in our entire class. T was also into gangsta rap, flat brimmed hats, and thought he was seriously thugged out because he was from the ghetto of Utah (West Valley City). The combination was amazing--"I just love helping people, muthafu**ahs!"

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Confession time: I don't love New Adult as much as I thought I did

As I may have mentioned, I am currently in the process of submitting my new adult* novel to various independent publishers. I am also working on drafting two new projects -- a contemporary young adult novel and another new adult.

Because of my new-ish fascination with the new adult category, I've been reading a lot of new adult lately. I mean ... a lot.

And I've come to a conclusion -- I don't really love it. Which is kind of a problem since I love the idea of writing it.

At first, I thought maybe I just had accidentally one-clicked a few bad eggs. So I read more. And more. And more.

And even though I have found a handful of new adult novels that I genuinely like and would recommend to others (seriously -- email me if you want some suggestions), I've found even more that kill me. Seriously, kill me. The jokester in me seriously can barely resist blogging all my thoughts on every ridiculous characterization, ludicrous set up, and saw-it-coming-from-a-mile-away plot twist.**

So here's some general beefs I have with new adult. Feel free to disagree with any of them or all of them.

1. Dangerous situation that forces the love interests into close proximity.

Look, there is always an exception to the rule, but in general, no one believes that a 20 year old who has been recently diagnosed with Celiac's disease needs to move into her her hot physics TA's house so he (and only he!) can keep her away from the dangers of wheat.

Realistic dangerous situations are fine, but you have to ask yourself--is this really the only solution to this dangerous situation? (Most of the time -- no, it isn't. And if it isn't, what was the point other than to artificially raise the romantic stakes?)

And if the situation isn't actually dangerous ... yikes.

Please rethink this trope altogether, NA writers of the world.

2. Everyone is super awesome at sex.

Virgins! Sufferers of PTSD! Strangers! There is no scenario in which sexytimes cannot be had, and had SUPER SUCCESSFULLY!

Look, I know most of these books fall squarely within the romance genre, and in romance, you don't have funny-awkward sex scenes.

But maybe some New Adult should. Because if I read one more book where another recent attempted sexual assault victim virgin who's dating the dean of her college (who has emotional abandonment issues after his mother's death from Parkinsons, natch) are INSTANTLY AMAZEBALLS in the sack, I'm going to throw it.

And that will be super sad, because I only buy these books on my Kindle.

3. Woman. Man. Blech.

Look, I may be closing in on 30 here, but I remember college very well. And none of us ... and I do mean NONE OF US ... ever referred to the people we were dating as "men" and "women." It was the same as high school -- guys and girls.

There is nothing that will squick me out faster than a supposedly 20-something guy talking about his amazing "woman." Gag.

4. Inappropriate relationships with no consequences.

Everyone has that friend (or was that friend) who dated a professor in college, who got involved with a coworker, or who had a string of inappropriate one-night-stands.

And these relationships usually ended in tears and recriminations.

And even when they did not, there was lots of unpleasantness along the way to happily-ever-after.

And no, that unpleasantness was not limited to "eep, we can't tell anyone about our relationship because it must remain seeeeeeecret!"

5. The death of feminism / The hypermasculinization of men.

You guys. YOU GUYS.

Don't write books with slut shaming. Don't write books where the female main character (and perhaps one female friend) are the only "cool" girls and all other girls "suck." I mean, do we have to continue discussing this?

Just. Don't. It's super gross.

And don't write write heroes that abuse women and call it romantic. Don't write male characters that assault other men in the name of "chivalry," especially if they don't face any legal consequences for that behavior. Don't conflate self-destructive behavior with "masculine" behavior. Don't write codependence and call it vulnerability.

And if you don't want every woman in the world to have to aspire to a photoshopped, impossible-to-obtain standard of physical female perfection? Don't write male characters with effortless six-packs, rock-hard pecs, and tattoos that would make the Pope weep from the sheer beauty.

Kthxbai.



* "New adult," for the people who read my blog for the Spencer pics and funny dating stories, is an emerging category of fiction that focuses on college-aged protagonists.

** For the record, some of these cliches may sound familiar because a few NA books executed them first, and sometimes well ... and then everyone scrambled to copy them, almost-never-well.

NO. MORE.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

the joys of social media

I have a weakness for candles.

Bath and Body Works and Anthropologie have the best candles, hands down. When it comes to candles, I don't skimp.





Yesterday I went to Bath and Body Works to pick up some new candles. While I was there, I saw a cute haunted barn luminary that holds three mini candles. Since I already had a haunted house, and I had a coupon, I figured, "Hey, why not?"

So I purchased the haunted barn, and as I was checking out, one of the Bath and Body Works girls said, "You're going to be the coolest mom on the block!"

I, of course, thought that was Twitter-worthy.





The best part of the story, though, is the fact that Bath and Body Works saw my joke and un-ironically re-tweeted it.

Thanks, social media!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

getting back into the swing of things

1. I've been writing two different projects. I'm going slowly on each, but at least I'm going.

2. For awhile, I had some good news. I still have good news, but that news is delayed to the point where it's kind of not worth talking about. That fact has put me in a strange place, blogging-wise. For awhile, I thought there was going to be lots of exclamation points, and now I kind of don't know what to say about anything.

3. I just started watching Homeland season 2. Man, I love this show, though Carrie's behavior gives me serious anxiety.

Current random prediction: The vice president is a pedobear.


Friday, September 20, 2013

libertarians

I will admit that, despite my political science background, the following is an oversimplification.

But I finally realized what I don't like about libertarians.

Most of their ideas I can get behind. I like limiting the power of government. I prefer to allow markets resolve themselves, individuals to govern themselves. In the small scale.

But taken to the extreme--which is how you have to test every idea, in the end--libertarianism falls apart.

When confronted with the fact that there will always be poor that need a social safety net, always be children who are abused or neglected,* the libertarian points to the inherent goodness of people to prove that private charities will step into the void that government leaves behind. Yet the problem libertarians have with government is that people in government are corrupt. They simultaneously express boundless hope in the human condition, and no hope.

Libertarians fear those who are in power. Yet their solution is to spread the power to everyone.

The rallying cry of anti-statists is "government for the people."

They all conveniently forget that government is also "by the people."

Government is not a computer program, nor is it run by robots. Government is, from its smallest component up to its largest, just people. Some of those people should not be involved in it.

But most of those people are just trying to do their best.







* The issues critics of libertarianism point to are usually child welfare and social safety nets for the poor. But the issues are bigger than that. How does a limited government have the resources to prosecute conspiracy? White collar crimes? Mass fraud?

How does a libertarian deal with environmental problems? When 7 states and Mexico rely on water from the Colorado River, how do small governments of limited power prevent upstream users from completely decimating those downstream? (Realistic proposals only, please.) When water or air pollution effect everyone, globally, how does a limited government address that problem? 

(End rant.

This is what happens on a Friday night after two weeks of hell at work.)




Friday, September 13, 2013

Bloggers

Oh bloggers.

Bless your narcissistic, sensitive little hearts.

(Wait, RuthAnne -- aren't you a blogger? Well, yeah, in the sense that I do sometimes blog. But my profession is lawyer-aspiring author-amateur whiner, and I happen to blog. See the difference between me and someone who gets their dolla dolla bills ya'll from producing Internet vomit?)

There are a few bloggers I read on the regular because I think they are really talented writers. There are a few I read because I can't tear my eyes away. Either way, my page clicks contribute to their financial well-being.

Which is why it is so terribly disappointing when they start in on a self-pity spiral.

Bloggers, for better or worse, you are also writers. And writers are subject to criticism for their writing. I know you feel like it's more personal when it's directed at you, because you post (cough cough inappropriate cough) details about your personal lives on your blogs. At the end of the day, though, your blog is a product. And people who don't care for your product cannot be blamed any more than the people who don't like lefty scissors or universal remote controls.

When people take the time to criticize something you produce, you have one of two choices. First, you can ignore all the criticism. This is not a terrible strategy, if you are able to also ignore all the compliments. If you live in an echo-chamber of you're so awesome OMG I wish I knew what brand of toilet paper you used so I could wipe just like you wipe!, then you soon will become a Douchebag of the Highest Order--the Manticore Douchebag.

Alternatively, you can choose to examine the criticism and sort it into piles of valid and invalid. This requires both thick skin and a serious amount of self-reflection, but if you can do it, it will make you a better writer. I PROMISE. No one but trolls take any significant amount of time detailing their complaints about something unless their complaints are, on some level, based on reality. And once you understand those complaints, you can still disregard them, but you are then free to be more conscious about your decisions moving forward.

Any questions? No? Good.


Monday, September 9, 2013

Public service announcement: For writers

When you're a writer, you definitely want someone to critique your writing. I have been very lucky to get some great critiques from some great writers (thanks Sarah, Melanie, Krista, Jo, Phil, and Lindsey!) (Those were all real names. FOR REALS.)

If you're a good writer, you probably also want to return the favor. First, it's just good karma, and second, I find that critiquing makes you a better writer.

I love critiquing. It's one of my favorite things about being in the writing community. First of all, I am about a thousand times faster at reading than I am at drafting, so it helps me feel productive even when I am technically at my least productive. Second, it reminds me of the good old days at The Daily Utah Chronicle at the Blessed U. Because of this, I have critiqued a lot of manuscripts in the last few years.

So here a few tips for critiquing, if you didn't know them already:

1. If you are asking someone to critique your work ...

A. Let them know beforehand if there's something you would like them to focus on. If you feel like your dialogue is fine but your pacing is off, TELL THEM! If they know what to look for, they can look for solutions.

B. Let them know beforehand what level of critique you are willing to accept. BE HONEST.

Look, if you can't handle someone telling you exactly what is wrong (and right) with your manuscript, that's ok. Everyone has a different comfort level when it comes to criticism. But you can't expect someone to read your mind. If brutal honesty will kill your passion for a project, SAY SO. It's as simple as, "I suspect X, Y, and Z might be a problem so far, but please be gentle when you find problems. My ego can't stand too much criticism." People will understand that, and if they don't, then they aren't someone you want reading your manuscript anyway.

That being said ...

C. Refer to Subsection B, and then remind yourself that writing and publishing are tough businesses. You've got to develop thick skin at some point, so it might as well be sooner rather than later. A criticism of a project is not a criticism of you. It's not even really a criticism of your writing. Lots of good writers make lots of mistakes. Great writers are able to fix them.

D. Always, always remember that if someone critiqued your work--particularly if it was a full manuscript--they have spent a lot of time and energy on your project. Even if you disagree with their assessment, THANK THEM. I really cannot emphasize this enough.

And then refer to Subsection F ...

F. Some critiques will be up in the night. But before you conclude that this critique is up in the night, take a long, hard look at it. If you trusted Person X to critique your work in the first place, why do you now distrust their assessment?

If it's because you didn't really put much thought into who you asked to critique your work, and how you asked them to critique it, then you've wasted their time and yours.

If it's because you just can't stand someone saying, "Umm, this isn't the special snowflake of a story that you think it is," then you've really wasted their time and yours. I mean, if all you wanted was compliments, then only let friends and family read your work.

But if it wasn't a bad critique fit, and you honestly aren't being too sensitive, then no big deal. Not everything is everyone's cup of tea, not everyone's assessment is always on point. You may now feel free to ignore the critique, so long as you have fulfilled Subsection D by thanking the person.

2. If you are critiquing someone's work ...

A. Be honest. No one ever thanked someone for blowing smoke up their skirt.

B. But don't be mean. Just because you have a funny, biting way of pointing something out doesn't mean you should. Humor can go a long way in softening a blow, but not if it's not constructive, it's not worth saying.

If the writer has not followed the aforementioned suggestions by giving you clear instructions on what sort of critique they expect, ASK. "Do you just want my basic impressions, or do you want something in depth?" Hopefully this will prompt them to give you some guidelines.

C. Have solutions. Don't just say, "I don't buy your characterization." Explain why you don't buy it and what ideas you have that could potentially fix it.

D. But don't take over. Suggestions are one thing. Re-writes are totally another.

E.  Start with what you liked. End on a positive note. Remember Part A about being honest? Well, if you HONESTLY cannot find ANYTHING positive to say ... this is your one opportunity to lie. And lie you must.

Look, writing is hard stuff. You don't want to be the jerk who killed someone's dream, even if the dream is really misguided. So after you (gently) point out what's wrong (and it may be a lot), then you've got to come up with a pep talk. Tell them that their dedication impresses you. Tell them you think the basics are there. Tell them the idea is unique. Tell them you could see someone buying it someday. If you have to be vaguely kind, that's ok, as long as you are kind.

Tell them whatever you have to, without veering into snark territory. (No compliments about formatting or font choice. They wrote one bad story, they aren't an idiot.) The only thing you cannot do is give them false hope, so no "Your characters are so realistic!" if they are, in fact, not realistic.

Any comments, questions, criticisms, or concerns?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Oh boy

Well, things have been ... strange ... in Ru Land the last little while. Here's a rundown:

1. New neighbor drama. I shan't bore you with the details, but in essence, my neighbors threatened to sue me, I told them to go ahead (because their "case" is terrible-to-non-existent), I immediately regretted my decision (despite their terrible case), but Diego is still in full support. He hopes they do sue us, and when we win he wants to make a banner for the roof that says, COME AT US, NEIGHBORS!

2. Hannah moved out of the house and in with S'Wally. It's a sad day for me, Diego, and Spence, but a happy day for Hannah. (Well, a little sad for Hannah, too. There really aren't any better roommates than me and Diego. Sorry, S'Wally.)

Speaking of Hannah, last week was (in her words), the week of shy, mild-mannered girls politely sticking up for themselves. (See my exchange above with the neighbors.) (What? You didn't realize that real me was shy and mild-mannered? I apologize for having misled you.)

Hannah works in [censored to ensure Hannah's future employment] and has one client above all others who makes her life M-I-S-E-R-A-B-L-E. She and that client were scheduled for a review, and the client told Hannah how disappointing her performance had been, how Hannah was rude and disrespectful toward her, and how no one appreciated her enough.

Hannah (GO HANNAH!) replied, "I'm sorry you feel that way, Client, and I will work on it. But to be honest, I also feel the same way. You are very short and condescending to me, and overly demanding of my time, and I don't appreciate it. But I do appreciate all the other wonderful things you do."

Client refused to look at Hannah for the rest of the meeting.

3. New writing drama.

Oh friends. There's a reason why everything is so very secret in writing land. It's because when things suddenly change in a direction that is surprising and frankly disappointing, you don't have to tell that many people about the new circumstances.

So I've slunk off to my little corner for a week of self-pity, followed by a new project beginning this week, hence the blog silence.

What have you all been up to? Spill, spill! 


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Really great books, really big despair

When you want to be a published writer, you usually also love to read. But sometimes that love of reading can make you feel ... horribly, horribly depressed.

Look, I know you shouldn't compare yourself to others, and you shouldn't engage in long-term moping. But sometimes, a little mope is just what the doctor ordered. This may have something to do with the fact that my Day Job has been bonkers as of late and writing time is hard to come by, but lately all I want to do is bake as my To Do List grows.

And now and then, have a little mope.

So here's my list of books I wish I could have written. This is not an exhaustive list, nor are these all of my favorite books. Each of these books does something I think I am not great at -- they surprise the reader. (I'm more of the "unsubtly-signal-where-you-'re-going-for-pages-and-pages" type of writer, but I'm working on it.) It's not a completely negative cause, since hopefully you all will see some books you'd like to read.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
(Don't Wikipedia it, because it's got one heck of a twist.)

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
(No, I don't have a thing for books with a weird twist in the middle, why do you ask?)

Mind Games by Kiersten White
(The first one without a twist, but with a unique concept that was somehow also instantly relateable.)

White Cat by Holly Black
(Ditto to Kiersten White above -- this weird mix of mob story and fantasy somehow didn't even take 10 pages to get into.) 

The Fifth Witness by Michael Connelly
(To be honest, sometimes Michael Connelly doesn't manage to char my tree, but when he's on his game, he's really on his game. And I can't think of anyone who does the legal thriller better than him.)

Have you ever read a book and thought, "Damn. Wish I'd had that idea."?






Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Now with pictures!



 

Echo says my blog posts are boring when they are transferred to my website tumblr and that I'm going to have to start taking more pictures. I shall attempt to oblige.

1. Peaches from my dad's orchard. I made a peach pie and it turned out pretty tasty (though not terribly pretty due to my poor edge-crimping skills, and therefore you don't get a picture of the final product.)

Here's the recipe, if you're so inclined to make a pie of your own:

CRUST (this is my go-to crust recipe. I use it for all pies, unless the recipe calls for something wildly different.)

2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baker's sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt (use slightly less if it's sea salt)
3/4 cup shortening
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons cold water
1 tablespoon white vinegar (I have substituted with apple cider vinegar, I don't think it makes a difference at all)

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Combine the egg, water, and vinegar; stir into flour mixture just until moistened. (Ru's editor's note: I know it says to combine the shortening first, then mix the egg, water, and vinegar, and then combine it all ... but I have always dumped it all into the Kitchenaid and felt fine about the results. LAZINESS!) Divide dough into two balls, wrap in wax paper, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

FILLING
5 cups of sliced and peeled peaches
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup flour
1 cup white baker's sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter

Suggestion: One beaten egg, or 1 tablespoon milk/1 tablespoon sugar mixture

Sprinkle peaches with lemon juice, mix carefully. In a separate bowl, mix flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Carefully pour dry ingredients over peaches, mix carefully. You don't want your peaches getting bruised and mushy. (Though it will still taste fine even if you do.) 

Line the bottom of your pie dish with one of your pie dough balls. Brush the crust with beaten egg- this prevents your crust from getting too soggy. Pour the filling mixture into pie crust. Take the 2 tablespoons of butter, cut into smaller pieces, and dot the top of the filling. Cover pie with the top crust (full crust or lattice is fine.) Brush the top of the pie with the rest of the beaten egg mixture, or the milk-sugar mix described above. This will make the top of your crust turn shiny and light brown.

Bake for 10 minutes at 450 degrees, then reduce heat to 350 and bake for an additional 30-35 minutes. If your crusts get too brown, you can use a pie crust shield like this one, or just cover your edges with aluminum foil halfway through baking.

2. MIRACLE SALSA!

This is the best salsa ever. If you live in Salt Lake City, or visit during the summer and early autumn months, go to the downtown farmer's market on Saturday and BUY THIS. You won't regret it.

3. Spencer's new bowtie collar. It's the Union Jack because he's British.

4. This is known as a "Snowy Awesome" and Diego's boyfriend ... "Wally," or "G'wally" for "Gay Wally," as Hannah's boyfriend is also named "Wally"/"S'wally" ... and I found it at the Wheeler Farm Farmer's Market. (It was a weekend of farmer's markets! The first one was for the Miracle Salsa and Spenny's bowtie. The second one was for Undescribed Research Project.)

It's a cored pineapple filled with shaved ice, ice cream, and sweetened condensed milk. We shared one and ended up eating about five bites each. It was the most delicious kind of overkill.

Friday, August 16, 2013

This lame blog post brought to you by ...

The Civil Wars
The National
The Lumineers
and
The Nashville Soundtrack (don't be a judgypants)


And the question, "Why do so many bands start with 'the' these days?"

(I'm also listening to Capital Cities and Coconut Records, but that didn't fit my "The" theme.)

This weekend, I am going to the Farmer's Market where I will get some Miracle Salsa (if you haven't had it, you're missing out), spend at least an hour on the porch reading The Cuckoo's Calling, write, draft up some copyright permission letters, and if I'm lucky, make a peach pie.

Big plans, friends, big plans.

What are your weekend plans?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Confession time

1. I cry pretty much through all of The Prince of Egypt, especially when the little kids start singing in Hebrew in the middle of "When You Believe." The tears immediately dry up, however, when Moses does his Fist Pump of Triumph, which honestly seems a bit out of place in ancient times.

(Also, does anyone else think it's just a teeny bit awkward that The Prince of Egypt ends with Moses coming off Mount Sinai with the 10 commandments, and everyone who has read The Bible or seen the original Charlton Heston movie knows that he's in for a maaaaaajor disappointment, but the cartoon immediately transitions to a Whitney Houston-Mariah Carey duet? No?)

2. I spend an unhealthy amount a little too much time thinking about how I'm single, and how the prospects non-spinsterhood are dim. (Even my bishop, who is ecclesiastically obligated to be my Ever Hopeful Matchmaker, says so. Exact quote: "Twenty-nine? Well, that's gonna limit your options.")

Which is crazy, because who DOESN'T want a girl who cries during The Prince of Egypt, amiright?

Badump-ching!





(The jokes, they always tie together in the end.)

Les Cousins Dangereux

I watched Dangerous Liaisons with the roommates last night, and I couldn't stop thinking about how this book-turned play-turned movie-turned multiple remakes-turned musical-turned musical within a TV show would do really well written as retelling, for either adults or new adults.

And then I realized everyone would just think it was a rip-off of Cruel Intentions.

(Still can't stop thinking about it, but seriously, who is with me? Could you do a modern Dangerous Liaisons without everyone thinking about that Ryan Philippe movie?)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Heeeeeey yooooou guuuuuys

I guest-posted. Twice!

The first time was on categories of fiction. The second time was on this new-fangled "new adult" concept.

Go check them out and let me know what you think! And if you're interested in guest-posting, my friend Gina would probably looooove to have you.

(This post has been brought to you by an overabundance of vowels.)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Announcing ... something very exciting

Friends, countrymen, citizens of the Internets:

I have a website.

www.ruthannesnow.com

If you've checked out my tab on 30 by 30, you will have noticed two things. One, that I'm almost 29 and a half, and I still haven't come up with thirty goals. Two, that my very first goal on the list is "publish a book."

I hope you know that, when I am doing a terrible job blogging, I am working on some of those goals. Or watching TV. Both worthy pursuits.

As we all know, in 2013, you've got to have an online presence in addition to being a good writer. So in addition to stepping up my writing game from "enjoyable hobby" to "serious pursuit," I have tried to tweet more (But it's hard! I much prefer reading everyone else's tweets!), created a Facebook author page (Gag, I know, I hate me too), and hired my dear sister Emma (Eep! A real name!) to build me a bitchin' website.

Now, I'm not artistically inclined, personally, which is why I am so delighted that Emma and her cohorts are Squarehook (like them on facebook here) are. They took all my random ideas (I like things that are simple and black and white, but I like bright colors. Not too many bright colors. Photos of downtown? Not too many pages. But enough pages. Oh, and a Spencer logo!) and turned them into a pretty sweet website, if I do say so myself.

Not only is the website aesthetically pleasing, but it's pretty functional, too. Squarehook specializes in mobile-accessible websites, meaning that my site will not look all wonks when viewed on a smartphone or tablet. And soon, Emma is going to teach me how to update everything on my own, so I won't need to pester her every time I want a change. (Thanks, Emma!) Squarehook both designs awesome websites, and creates a user-friendly tool so customers can become mini-webmasters themselves.

The website is, of course, a work in progress, in that I hope it someday describes my books, or includes quotes from (or about!) my books, but for now, I'm pretty dang pleased with how everything has gone.

If you could check out my website and let me know if there's anything you think I'm missing, I would seriously appreciate it. (Also, if you have any ideas for goals for me? Completing my list of goals should seriously be part of my 30 by 30 ...)

And if you have any website needs of your own, be they big or small, please check out Squarehook. You will not be disappointed.

Edited to add: Emma's office number is 801-386-9828, and she would love to talk to anyone who is interested a potential website. She wanted me to make sure you all know that they have a wide range of prices (heck, that's why I went to them), so really, no project is too small.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Punctilio

Definition:
1.  a minute detail of conduct in a ceremony or in observance of a code;
2. careful observance of forms (as in social conduct). 
 
I have been thinking about this word a lot lately. (For realsies.)

Any fun words you would like to share?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Anxiety attack

I used to have anxiety attacks. I didn't know that's what they were, though.

I've been in San Francisco, visiting friends and doing ... stuff ... for an entity or group ... that may or may not pay me for my services. (I meant that to sound vague, but it came out a little prostitutey. For the record: I am not a prostitute.)

While in San Francisco, I pulled a typical RuthAnne move and found myself wandering in the sketchiest part of town. For reference, it's called "The Tenderloin," despite the efforts of San Franciscan leadership trying to rebrand it as "The TL." It smells like pee and it's filled with people muttering, "Crack! PCP! Meth!" to indicate what products they might be willing to buy and/or sell. The further I ventured into the Tenderloin, the worse the situation got. I had no plan other than to Just Keep Going and hope that eventually there would be a light at the end of the tunnel.

(FYI: If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, you are going to think City Hall is that light. It isn't, but it's close.)

This is not the first time I have found myself in a strange place, wandering around somewhere I had no business being.

Which brings me back to the anxiety attacks.

Once upon a time, I was a wee little college student in Mexico on spring break. A group of my friends had all headed down together and one night my friends wanted to go to a club. I tagged along, assuming that I would also want to go.

And then, for no reason, I did not.

And when I say I did not want to go to the club, I mean I physically would have rather licked the touristy, Mexican sidewalk than go into that club. I couldn't breathe, I couldn't evaluate the situation rationally, and the next thing I knew I told one of my friends, "Hey, I'm heading back to the hotel!" and jumping into a cab by myself.

If you were to ask me then why I left, I would have given you a seemingly-normal explanation. I didn't want to pay the $20 cover when I wasn't going to be drinking. My outfit was lame. The thought of a foam party seemed wildly unhygienic. I had a headache.

And if you had asked me if any of those reasons justified running off in Mexico by myself, I would have continued down the merry justification. This was a tourist town. People are inherently good. I speak a little Spanish.

But the fact is, things like depression and anxiety and all the rest don't really make a lot of sense.



Saturday, August 10, 2013

Thing I do not care for:

Standing ovations.

I really would appreciate it if we would all just agree to remain seated, and that a room full of clapping people is honor enough.

Anything you don't like for no particular reason?

Friday, August 2, 2013

They call me Stacey, they call me Jane

I have a secret.

My name isn't Ru.

ARE YOU SHOCKED?

I know, you're totally not.

Slowly but surely, I've got to transition from semi-anonymous-girl to ... slightly-less-anonymous-girl.

It's probably always going to be important for me to keep my writing life separate from my self as LawyerGirl. I hope this doesn't come as a shock to anyone, but most writers don't make much money. Even if I didn't love being a lawyer (which I do), I would need to keep my day job. You guys, I

More than that, I am not into ... whatever it is ... that causes people to want to share all their personal, intimate details on the internet.

And Then She Was Like Blah Blah Blah: Funny Stories, No Relationship Problems or Naked Toddlers (TM).

But when it came time to pick a pseudonym, I kind of didn't know what I wanted. I mean, the goal is to one day be able to sign this name on something, and I knew it would be weird to sign Cindy Lightballoon or whatever.

So I picked ...

RuthAnne Snow.

People who know me in real life might be rolling their eyes right now, thinking I've made some sort of pun -- and if that's you, shhhhhh, keep it to yourself. My life as LawyerGirl depends on a ladies-n-gentlemen's agreement with all you folks, so be cool, okay?

But I'm actually not making a joke at all. Ruth Snow was my grandma's name. And that seemed like a better choice than any other I could have made.

So if you all could help me transition into the world of Sort Of Identifying Myself, I would really appreciate it. If you could "like" my (gulp) Facebook author page, I would be eternally grateful.

https://www.facebook.com/RuthAnneSnow

(PS - In case you, like me, never quite got the deal with "liking" things on Facebook, here it is. Amazon and Google factor in Facebook likes when they calculate where you fall in search results. REALLY. So here's to pimping ourselves out!)


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Husslin'

There is a little boy in my neighborhood named A.

At some point, A learned that the residents of the Casa De Diego, Hannah, and Ru are easy marks. He has knocked on our door selling coupon books and wrapping paper, and on more than one occasion has asked to walk Charlie or Spence (for a small fee, of course). A has also parked himself on our couch for an entire Sunday afternoon, watching Nashville with me and Diego, eating  a leftover cupcake from Echo's bridal shower, and using our wifi.

It's never been stated explicitly, but A has implied (repeatedly) that he lives in a state of mild want. Hence the guilt that makes it really hard to tell him "no."

Recently I made a deal with A, as I was getting tired of him hussling me out of all my spare $5 bills. A told me he'd been saving up for a pair of shoes, and I told him I would buy the shoes in return for X number of walks.

Unfortunately, the first time I bought the shoes, it turned out they were too small and I needed to exchange them. Double unfortunately, A has come back at least three times since we made that discovery.

Last night, A came by again, and again I explained I hadn't exchanged the shoes yet -- but he was more than welcome to start working off one of his X walks.

A shook his head. "I was really hoping to get cash. I didn't have breakfast today."

My jaw dropped -- it was 7 pm. "You didn't have lunch or dinner?"

A shrugged. "Well, yeah. But I still didn't have any breakfast. So can I walk Spence for cash tonight?"

Monday, July 29, 2013

Things I don't get: Sex and the City edition

(I have ranted about Sex and the City before. You can see it here.)

I recently downloaded the HBOGo app for my iPad, which means I've been watching a lot of TV while cleaning, working, writing, and cooking in the last two weeks. I also read this excellent article in The New Yorker about how Sex and the City started out revolutionary, and ended up an absurd, tone deaf (Hey, remember when Carrie asked that Indian hotel staffer if it was hard being in a different country than his wife while making minimum wage? And then compared it to her life as a best-selling author married to a corporate raider?), grating, rom-com imitation of itself.

And while I don't completely agree with Nussbaum's assertion that Sex and the City was a once-great show (perhaps you just had to be there ...?), I do agree that by the end, it definitely took a turn into SuckTown.

But even before the cliched ending, Sex and the City had one big problem. And her name was Carrie Bradshaw. (For those unfamiliar with the Sex and the City oeuvre, please see EXHIBIT A. There, now you know all you need to know about Carrie Bradshaw.)

For the record, I love a good anti-hero. (Dr. House, Walter White and Jesse Pinkman, Scarlett O'Hara, Dexter Morgan). I really, really dislike a bad anti-hero. (Donald Draper, seasons 3 through current).

But for me, the issue is not whether Carrie is a good anti-hero or a bad anti-hero. I frankly just don't think she qualifies as an anti-hero.

Sure, she's complex and flawed and the main character of the series--but she doesn't exactly drive the action forward. Calling Carrie Bradshaw an anti-hero is kind of like calling Jerry Seinfeld one. In a show that is mostly about nothing, does anyone get to qualify as a hero or anti-hero? (Imagine that Carrie Bradshaw typed those words in her no-way-is-that-$700-a-month apartment.)

No one likes Dr. House just because he's a jerk. They like him because, in addition to being a jerk, he's also hilarious and brilliant. If Scarlett were just the worst, instead of the-worst-who-got-Mellie-out-of-Atlanta, no one would care. 

You can't just throw a bad character on the scene and hope people like him/her for their unique badness. You have to make us like him/her in spite of her the badness. And if you can do that, then people will start to enjoy the negative, too. (Hell yeah, you're the one who knocks!)

And so, once we've dispensed with this anti-hero nonsense, we can get to the primary point -- that Carrie is annoying as hell. While many of her bad characteristics would be acceptable if she were also doing something fascinating, she isn't. She's picking fights with her boyfriends for no reason. She's over-analyzing everything. She's making puns.

Remember the time that Carrie got a book deal, and all she had to do was pick out 30 of her old columns (that she'd already written) and write a dedication (that turned out to be one sentence long), and then she made BUCKETS of money, and then literally showed the check to her boyfriend whose own book had tanked? And then we were supposed to not like the boyfriend, because he got upset and ohmygoshyouguysfeminism!!! And then she had the lady-balls to say, "I worked really hard for that money!"

No, hon, you didn't. (Remember how you just used columns that were already written and you'd already been paid for once?) But even if you had, he worked hard too, and you don't have to rub his comparative failure in his face. How about we try this on for size: TACT. "Not everything is a feminist issue." - Susan B. Anthony.

Remember the time that Carrie got a free trip to San Francisco to promote the aforementioned book, and threw a fit because people weren't ooohing and aaaaahing over her, and instead wanted to see an adorable dog from a best-selling calendar? And she told her publicist that she refused to be the dog's opening act? I mean, I'm surprised that she didn't ask her publicist to burn all the other books in the bookstore while she was at it.

Remember the time that Carrie was dating a great guy, and she cheated on him, AND THEN SHE LOST HIS DOG? And then she tried to emotionally blackmail him into forgiving her cheating, because one time he said FLAWS IN WOOD CAN BE INTERESTING?

Remember how after she got back together with the guy she cheated on, and he didn't immediately get over it, she screamed at him in the street and also for some reason thought it was a good idea to put his sick dog in a diaper instead of just letting the poor thing poop it out?

I mean, could we just briefly back up and re-emphasize the point that somehow, Carrie did not like dogs and seemed to be baffled by their very existence?

Remember how, after she and that good guy broke up because she didn't want to marry him, she kind of just thought he would give her the apartment he'd paid for, and was surprised and offended that he wanted her to either pay him back, interest-free, or sell it?

Remember how she bullied Charlotte for not offering her $30,000 for the down payment on the aforementioned apartment? Not for paying for a lunch, because she'd forgotten her purse. For $30,000 for an apartment because she only had $900 in her savings account.*

Remember how she'd smoke indoors at non-smoking establishments and get pissed off when employees would ask her not to smoke?

Remember when she tried to get married guys to flirt with her friend?

 Remember how Mr. Big actually wasn't a giant douchebag,** but somehow Carrie made all of her 30s about how Mr. Big was a giant douchebag? And then whenever one of her friends was like, "Hey, I thought you thought that guy was a douchebag?", Carrie was all, "WHY DON'T YOU TRUST MY JUDGMENT?"

And then when Mr. Big and Carrie decide to buy an apartment together, and she says they need to get married so she can have legal rights to the apartment, and inside your head you're like, "Carrie, that is gold-digger logic," but outwardly you're like, "WEDDING DRESS MONTAGE!"***

Ahem.

I believe that last one was actually a flaw of mine.



*Dear friends: I would never offer you $30,000, not even if I had the money. I hope you understand that this is not a reflection on the strength of our friendship, but simply because normal people do not offer each other $30,000, and yes Charlotte's dad was right, friends should not loan friends that kind of money because money is a friendship ruiner. A piece of liver, a kidney, or bone marrow, yes. Five-figures worth of money, no.

** For the record, no one should date Mr. Big long-term, unless he's the Magically Reformed Mr. Big of Season 6. Feel free to date Mr. Big casually, or become friends with Mr. Big (because who doesn't want to be friends with Mr. Big?), but don't date Mr. Big and then expect things to work out. Craziness.

*** To clarify a point of annoyance of mine -- Carrie, if you offer to sell your apartment to assist in buying the new apartment, yes, you'd have some legal rights to it even if your name was not on the deed. Also, Mr. Big could just voluntarily put your name on the deed, because this is the guy who once offered you that previously mentioned $30,000 and he'd probably be fine with that.

If you want to get married, by all means get married, but don't straight up tell someone that you want to get married so you will have a legal stake to all his financial interests (that you had nothing to do with) in the event of your breakup. GAH.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Gotta be honest, you're not charring my tree*

Little known fact to the rest of the western world: Utah celebrates "Pioneer Day," the anniversary of Mormon settlers arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, on the 24th of July.

Which means this last week, I had a day off in the middle of the week. Which kind of made Tuesday feel like a Friday and yesterday feel like a Monday--all in all, not a great combination.

I thought I would accomplish a lot this week. But alas, aside from baking a pie, nothing on my to-do-list got now-done'd.

Sometimes I feel like it's a good thing when you don't get anything done. I have long subscribed to the day-dreamer school of thought. Basically, when I find my mind wandering, I let it wander. When I finally arrive back on topic, I'm usually a lot more focused. (I'm sure there is some pop psychology out there somewhere to back this up, but I'm too lazy to google it.)

So when I'm lawyerin, and feel the urge to search the web or stare out my window, I do. And more often than not, within about fifteen minutes, I realize what it was that I needed to figure out.

This method works less well when it comes to writing--though there is still some value to it.

But this week, my lack of progress on any front didn't feel so much like a mental cleanser as it did like a roofie circle. (NAME THE REFERENCE!)*


Oh well. Onward and upward, right? Time to find the moment where the drop hits the pond!*


* Hint: it's all the same reference.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

And we're off!

The book drive for Utah International is up and running, thanks to a few awesome friends who have already dropped off their books. Thanks, guys!

I am going to keep a running tally of the books we currently have for donation. I will update the list as I receive (or break down and order) more books.

Thanks everyone! And please email me if you'd like to help.

MIDDLE GRADE READERS
Avi: Crispin; The Cross of Lead
Eoin Colfer: Artemis Fowl
Barry Denenberg: Dear America: When Will This Cruel War Be Over? (The Civil War Diary of Emma Simpson)
R.L. LaFevers: Theodosia and the Eyes of Horus
Lois Lowry: The Giver
Brandon Mull: Fablehaven
Robert C. O'Brien: The Secret of NIMH
R.J. Palacio: Wonder (Spanish)
Rick Riordan: Percy Jackson Series (The Lightning Thief, The Sea of Monsters, The Titan's Curse, The Battle of the Labyrinth, The Last Olympian)
Louis Sachar: Holes
Neal Shusterman: The Shadow Club
Sarah Weeks: So B. It

YA CONTEMPORARY
 Jay Asher: 13 Reasons Why
Ann Brashares: The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
Gayle Forman: If I Stay
John Green: Looking for Alaska, The Fault in Our Stars (Spanish)
Robert Gormier: The Chocolate War
E. Lockhart: The Boyfriend List, The Boy Book 
Christopher Pike: Until The End
Louise Rennison: Away Laughing on a Fast Camel
Jerry Spinelli: Stargirl (Spanish)

YA SPECULATIVE
Brodi Ashton: Everneath
Rachel Caine: Ghost Town
Suzanne Collins: The Hunger Games, Mockingjay
Em Garner: Contaminated
Carrie Harris: Bad Taste in Boys
Martin Leicht and Isla Neal: Mothership
Stephenie Meyer: Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn
Veronica Roth: Divergent
JK Rowling: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Carrie Ryan: The Forest of Hands and Teeth
Kiersten White: Mind Games

ADULT FICTION
Geraldine Brooks: People of the Book
Melanie Jacobsen: Twitterpated
Krista Lynne Jensen: The Orchard
William Shakespeare: King Lear
Mary Shelley: Frankenstein
Nicholas Sparks: A Walk To Remember
Betty Smith: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Irving Stone: Men to Match My Mountains

NONFICTION
Sean Covey: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens
Jonathan Kozol: Amazing Grace
Barack Obama: The Audacity of Hope
Wm. Paul Young: The Shack 

MISCELLANEOUS
Neal Zawacki: How to Be A Villain, The Villain's Guide to Better Living