Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Another real-world conversation between Diego and Ru

The other night, I was telling the roommate, fellow lawyer, and small business owner pal Diego that I was going to create a sole proprietorship for tax purposes.

"But what are you going to sell?" he asked.

I raised my eyebrows. "Books, Diego."

He blinked. "I don't think you have enough money for a printing press. Or room in the house."

Monday, March 24, 2014

In case you haven't heard: The Wicked We Have Done

Please don't sue me, Penguin Group.
I have been hearing about THE WICKED WE HAVE DONE by Sarah Harian for what feels like forever--on Twitter, on Facebook, people are simply raving about this book.

From the description:

Twenty-two-year-old Evalyn Ibarra never expected to be an accused killer and experimental prison test subject. A year ago, she was a normal college student. Now she’s been sentenced to a month in the compass room—an advanced prison obstacle course designed by the government to execute justice.

If she survives, the world will know she’s innocent.

Locked up with nine notorious and potentially psychotic criminals, Evalyn must fight the prison and dismantle her past to stay alive. But the system prized for accuracy appears to be killing at random.

She doesn’t plan on making friends.

She doesn’t plan on falling in love, either.

I read it last night and I think I would recommend it -- to certain readers. That's not to say I thought it was bad, just that I am pretty sure it's not going to be everyone's cup of tea.

The first thing you should know is that I have a thing for weird justice stories. My two biggest fears are old timey medical procedures and a loss of civil liberties (so you know how I felt about season 2 of American Horror Story, right? Sheesh.)

In THE WICKED WE HAVE DONE, the futuristic U.S. government has set up these Hunger Games-esque arenas called "Compass Rooms." Criminals are left in Compass Rooms with a sensor embedded in their skulls that measures their thought processes as they encounter various physical, psychological, and moral tests. The theory is that criminals who are truly evil will be eliminated by the Compass Room, but those whose morals are more-or-less all there (ie, those who committed justifiable crimes) will be released after 30 days.

So right off the bat, I love this concept, and the writing moves you along quickly -- I finished in a few hours. There were a few things I didn't love (for example, you don't find out the details of Evalyn's crime until more than halfway through, at which point I'm sure most readers have already concluded she was in the "justifiable homicide" camp, despite her repeated insistence of being evil -- so the big reveal fell flat for me), but overall, I think if you like dystopias, this is a pretty unique one.

If you read it, let me know what you think!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The To-Do List

I have a bad habit of making big plans.

It's a bad habit because, although I can almost always follow-through (eventually), I tend to get overwhelmed in the meantime.

Take my yard, for example. It's not huge, but when you break it down into it's composite parts, I have a parking strip, four flower beds, a front yard, a back yard, a rose arbor, and a garden box that I should be taking care of. And every spring since I've bought my house, I get really fired up in April and start weeding and fertilizing everything -- but as someone with minimal gardening skills, it has never really come to much. At some point during the summer, I suddenly realize the magnitude of a parking strip, four flower beds, a front yard, a back yard, a rose arbor, and a garden box, all of which look terrible, and realize there's no way I will ever dig myself out of this hole.

I am hoping I have learned my lesson this year, and am focusing my efforts on only two things: improving the lawn in the back yard and properly xeriscaping the parking strip. But even with those limited goals, it's hard not to remember all the failures of summers past and feel like any effort or money expended will just be a waste.

Organizing my kitchen, post-remodel. Eating healthy. Working out. Saving money. These are things that should be easy -- things that are, in fact, easy -- but that I can't think about too much, or else I'll realize how poorly I am doing at each of them and lose my enthusiasm. Cue a weekend of marathoning The Americans and eating Ben and Jerry's. 

Weirdly, I have no problem keeping my goals little when it comes to lawyerin. Take one thing off the To-Do List at a time, whittle it down bit by bit. First this project, then the next one. Assess the To-Do List at the beginning of the day, and again at the end. Do a few little things whenever you can, and it will result in a big thing eventually.

When it comes to my writing habit, however, I (very unfortunately) tend to fall more into the gardening camp than the lawyering camp.

I had a goal for 2013 -- finish drafting two more books. This weekend, when my busy season at work simmered down, I opened up my drafting files to assess my progress so far.

Would you like to know how many works-in-progress I currently have in various states of beginnings, middles, and ends?

(I'll warn you. It's embarrassing.)  





That is SIXTEEN ideas for novels that have been mulled over, outlined, partially drafted, and left in a dropbox folder titled simply "projects."

And in my defense, two actually are near-complete stages. If I could focus on those two, I could meet my 2013 goal, just six months late.

But those fourteen other files just sit there, like an unpruned rose arbor, reminding me that I have dug myself a hole that will be very, very, very difficult to climb out of. And (as much as I hate admitting this -- both out of personal pride, and the fear that someday an agent or editor will find this blog post and realize how pathetically inefficient I can be) the feeling of being in a giant hole makes it very, very, very difficult for me to focus on little things, whether it's xeriscaping a parking strip or completing one draft that is really only 10,000ish measly words from being done.

I know this post is a bit of a downer. I wish I had a happier note to end on.

But sometimes you just have to admit you're in the hole before you can start to climb out.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Thanks, Obama

I went to lunch with some friends the other day. One of them asked me if I was seeing anyone, and I said, "Not really" (since "not really" sounds more hopeful than "nope").

The other friend helpfully added, "Well, you've been so busy at work."

I smiled and said, "Yeah, let's pretend that's the problem."

At which point things just escalated.

In this economy.

Thanks, Obama.


Really, I've got good excuses for being single dating back to high school.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Check out the before

In case you were wondering about one of the many reasons I've gone MIA on this here blog for the last few months ...

Monday, March 10, 2014

A post in a picture

I have a mental countdown to freedom. Until then, enjoy some Instagrams. Looks like someone had a birthday ... (PS, that someone was me. Please don't ask me how that whole "30 by 30" thing went. Yikes.)

Friday, March 7, 2014

Friday reads

Hey friends.

January through March is always a little wacky in RuLand, and it's gone double for this year. But soon things will simmer down and I will return to blogging, reading, and writing. Won't it be grand?

In the meantime, I have a couple of reading recommendations for you all.

1. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

My first Gillian Flynn novel was Gone Girl--something I assume is true for most of you. I liked Dark Places almost as much and have definitely thought about it a lot more.

Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice" of Kinnakee, Kansas.” She survived—and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, the Kill Club—a secret secret society obsessed with notorious crimes—locates Libby and pumps her for details. They hope to discover proof that may free Ben. Libby hopes to turn a profit off her tragic history: She’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club—for a fee. As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started—on the run from a killer.

2. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Have I fangirled over Fangirl yet? No? Ugh, I'm remedying that right now.

I read Fangirl a few months ago and recently re-read it. I don't even know were to begin.

One, I want the Simon Snow books to be real. So bad.

Two, the romantic element of the book really did take me by surprise. By the time it crept up on Cath, it was also creeping up on me. How often are you actually surprised when two characters get together? I think this is the first book that has ever done that for me.

And finally, it's an awesome depiction of college life that you don't usually see: an (actually, not pseudo-ly) awkward girl who doesn't exactly know how to leave the nest. So many college-set books are really high school books or adult books set in an artificial setting -- meaning, everyone is either eating at the cafeteria or living in apartments, completely self-sufficient. Just, no. Where are all the college kids who seem like real college kids, I ask you?

They're living in the dorms with Cath, that's where.

If you haven't read it yet, you are missing out. Go! Do!

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .

But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

What have you been reading, people? Tell me, I'm so close to freedom I can taste it!