Saturday, April 5, 2014

Great read:

Liz Murray's Breaking Night is amazing, inspiring, and distressing. I found it painful to witness what the author, as a young girl-turned-teenager, endured. Her experiences were horrendous. I read many sections with tears pooled in my eyes. It's unfathomable to me how these sorts of things happen to children, how they happen every day, how her story is not unique. And yet she survived. She persevered. Hers is a story of true grit and determination, of unapologetic love and survival.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Great read:

I finished Stephanie Nielson's Heaven Is Here last night... what an amazing account of the human spirit. The book is divided into 3 sections: life before the crash, the crash along with the 5 months spent in the hospital, and life after leaving the hospital. Full disclosure: I didn't much care for the 1st section. For me, it was too pie-in-the-sky-and-everything-is-perfect... it was hard to get through it. But the rest of the book was fully engaging. I read with interest and sometimes with tears in my eyes. Simply incredible what she has gone through.

I took something away from this book that is so subtle yet so powerful:  
     ... without a doubt the true source of happiness, self-worth, and authentic beauty doesn't come from the outside. Woman are constantly being persuaded to want something unachievable, to look younger or thinner and above all to fit in because being different is too painful and embarrassing. ... our hearts matter most. YOUR heart matters most, so be gentler and more patient with yourself, and THEIR hearts matter most, too, so be kinder and more compassionate to others. It's a beautiful heart, not a perfect body, that leads to a beautiful life.

Thank you Stephanie Nielson.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Saving Lola

It saddens me to realize that I've not added an entry here since last December, but the truth is that my life has been extraordinarily difficult over the past 6 months, all to do with a personal situation I'm not yet ready to talk about here. But I will one day, hopefully sooner rather than later.

In the meantime, I have some good news to share... my story "Saving Lola" has been accepted by The Summerset Review. I am thrilled, thrilled, thrilled! This is a long story (nearly 7500 words) and some of my writer friends gently suggested that I find a way to cut it down to the more acceptable 5000 word range. But I held fast (some might label it stubbornness) that the length was needed and earned; I believed in the story and am pleased beyond words that Joe Levens at The Summerset Review agreed with my vision. "Saving Lola" will go live in their next edition due out in June. Woo-hoo!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

An Interesting Read:

Last night I finished Kate Atkinson's Life After Life. My non-reading friends were impressed at its length (529 pages) and couldn't imagine devoting the time to something so long. Then again, they don't read (I can't imagine a life without books!). I was drawn to this book because of the hints given on reincarnation, that the main character dies and is reborn again and again. In the strictest sense this is exactly what happens, but my take isn't that it's reincarnation, rather, it's an exploration into parallel universes.

To my mind, reincarnation is when a person lives a life as, say, a man who works in a machine shop, gets married and has three kids. He dies at the ripe old age of 81 and then, at his next incarnation, he experiences a life where he's an accountant with a gambling addiction, or a woman at the turn of the century. Different family, different circumstances, different body. What happens in Life After Life, though, is that we see how Ursula Todd's life would've turned out if B had happened instead of A, if G and H happen instead of A, etc. We see how all the different choices play out; if one were to take the path on the right instead of the path on the left. It's a very interesting experiment.

I did have some trouble getting into the narrative, though, and almost bailed not once but twice. It was around the 100 page mark before I really felt engaged - a long time to expect the reader to hang on. Part of this, for me, might be that I don't usually go for historical fiction. But some of the most interesting story lines and character experiences occurred during the bombings of WWII, both from the perspective of London and Germany. The other part was that seemingly all the rules were broken: multiple POVs within the same chapter and sometimes within the same paragraph. This, in particular, was hard for me to get past. I'm glad I stuck with it... I found that it grew on me, that I came to really know Ursula Todd and all her many sides/lives.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Curves

I'm thrilled to share the news that my story "Curves" has been accepted for publication by Hawai'i Pacific Review. It went live today; you can view it here. I'm honored to be included.



Saturday, September 7, 2013

Summer Concerts

It seems that summertime and music go hand in hand. Witness the plethora of outdoor venues for bands to strut their stuff. A few drinks, some rock 'n roll... what could be better? As wonderful as summer concerts are, the last one I attended was 11 years ago. For some reason, concerts just weren't on my radar. Until this year. I've been to 3 concerts this summer. Three! I go 11 years without seeing a concert and - bam! - I hit three of them this year. What gives? I don't have a clue... all I can say is I've had a blast.

First up: The Eagles at Summerfest on July 7th. We had grass seats, which is the perfect way to ease into the concert scene after a long absence. My favorite Eagles song: Take It to the Limit

Next: Sir Paul McCartney at Miller stadium on July 16th. We had great seats, but it was hot as blazes, with high humidity. Only thing to do was to lean into the sweat running down my back and enjoy the show. My favorite McCartney song: Band on the Run.

Last, but by no means least: Aerosmith at the Marcus Amphitheater on August 30th. What a FABULOUS concert. Full disclosure: I LOVE Aerosmith. I've loved Aerosmith ever since their 1975 Toys In The Attic album. I know each and every one of these songs intimately. I was just barely a teenager and vividly remember lying, many a night, on the floor of our living room, my head close to my parents' console stereo, listening to this album. These songs saw me through scads of teenage angst. And then some. And, after Steven Tyler's stint on American Idol, I feel like I know him, somehow. Watching him week after week afforded me an opportunity to see that he's a regular schmo with a flair for the quirky and over-the-top and a wry sense of humor. Seeing him in concert (in fantastically close seats no less) felt personal to me, and when they played Sweet Emotion (my all-time favorite song), I swear they were playing it just for me.

As great as the iPhone is, it sucks when it comes to taking pictures at concerts. It took me three concerts to figure out that the best results come if you wait until the lights shine DIRECTLY at you and then snap the picture. Contrary to the mechanics of everything I've learned as a photographer, it somehow works. Here are some of my memories:









Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Great read:

I read a couple of terrific stories in the latest issue (Volume 13, Spring 2013) of The Los Angeles Review:

* "Landfall" by Robert P. Kaye - This is wonderfully understated so that it sneaks up on you, grabs hold in a powerful way. I admire the ability to take a world news event and make it relatable.

* "Losing the Title" by David Elliot - This is told in a second person POV, and I, as a rule, don't care for this POV. But, holy cow, this is magnificently rendered. Powerful. Mesmerizing.

* "Confounding Variables" by Rachael Warecki - This is smart and clever and well-crafted.