Book Review| Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham

Book Review| Talking as Fast as I Can

By Lauren Graham

I became a Gilmore girls fan late. During the years we were homeschooling, I rarely watched television of any sort. Who had time? I started watching the show when it was on Netflix one day when I wasn’t feeling well. I felt an immediate connection with the characters and was delighted by the quick banter. I shared the show with my daughter, who, at the time, was a very reluctant teenager. You know that there is a certain age when anything mom likes is certain to elicit a negative response.

A few moments into the show, she turned to me and said, “It’s us!”

Obviously, we are not the only duo  to feel this connection to Gilmore Girls.

I loved Lauren Graham’s memoir, Talking As Fast As I Can. If you are a Gilmore girls fan I think you would enjoy this book. The Lorelai Gilmore fast-paced dialogue we are all familiar with is infused throughout this small volume. Lauren is so personable. Reading this book was like reading letters from a dear friend, one who is generous with advice and laughter. I don’t usually read celebrity memoirs, but I enjoyed every minute of this book, even when I was crying. Yes, I did cry.

I was encouraged by her advice on everything from writing, making choices, dieting, and technology. She did this all with a splash of humor.

“Eventually I learned that, in the beginning at least, it was better for me to be finished then to try to be perfect. I had to get out of my own way.”

“Often, waiting reveals the truth about something, and not responding to your every impulse can save you the heart ache of waking up in the morning with a sense of regret.”

“Talking about getting a tattoo was, I realized, a perfect case of life thing about the journey not the destination.”

To me, this memoir feels like a gift. Thank you, Lauren Graham! I will definitely be checking out Lauren Graham’s novel, Maybe, Maybe, Someday.

Pitching at A Writers’ Conference

I was ready. My book was finished, revised, and edited. My book coach encouraged me to go to this year’s writers’ conference and make an agent appointment, so I did.

I bought shoes, got a bad haircut, and actually ironed clothes. This was serious.

Months in advance, I did the research and prepared myself to meet a literary agent or publisher. I wrote a one sheet, printed my first four chapters in correct format, and had lists of questions to ask for the ‘extra’ time left over after my pitch. After reading about the available choices, I listed three, understanding I would get one of them. Since I registered early, I would probably get the first one I listed. In case I didn’t, I continued to read online a bit about each person so I could easily bring up topics to chit chat about. Pleased, I realized I had plenty of conversation fodder. I had this.

Then I got there.

Things were going well at first. Arriving early, I had plenty of time to spare. I felt fine, if tired. Sleep had eluded me, but no worries. Instead of sleeping, I listened to relaxing music and did deep breathing to Paul Cardall’s Be Calm. Who needs sleep? I’d faced bigger challenges on less sleep and succeeded. I could probably even get a blog post out of this experience like other writers do, sharing wisdom I garnered from the meeting.

Finding out I had three appointments threw me for a sec, but no problem. I had planned to meet with anyone, remember? I was prepared.

Another poor soul who was waiting to pitch her book looked as if she were about to come unglued. I felt bad for her. I traded business cards with the other writers in the waiting area. We reassured each other that we would be fine. This wasn’t so tough.

My name was called. Even though I had done my homework, I did not recognize the agent I was directed to. After a few seconds, it became apparent this was the one person in the room who I did not have an appointment with that day. No problem. We exchanged pleasantries and exited the room. It turns out I had been confused with another Donna. No big, I didn’t miss anything because I was early.

My actual turn came. I floundered at the beginning, but I was sure to find my footing soon, right?

Uhhhhh. No.

My brain emptied itself, thoughts completely scattered. My hands flopped around on the table as if I could gather those thoughts back somehow, but every coherent speck of intelligence was gone. Poof. I was tongue-tied, stammering. This from the lady who talks to people in the checkout line and has long conversations with telemarketers.

The agent was exceedingly gracious and kind.

I did not throw up or cry. I did not dump hot coffee on her. So that was good. As a friend told me, the encounter probably wasn’t as bad as a sharp stick to the eye.

I don’t know why I was so anxious, unless it was because my little subconscious was screaming, “This may be a pivotal moment and the next ten minutes is likely to have an impact on your ability to deliver the message God has given you to share with the world of suffering children and the timer is running right over there, numbers flying by.”

No pressure.

Now, I realize this was overly dramatic, but it was my subconscious whispering. It’s hard to reason with such a thing. Realistic Donna understands that my ability, or lack of, in any given situation is not capable of derailing God’s plan. I am simply not big enough to have that kind of impact. To place such importance on self displays an arrogant lack of trust and faith.

Ouch.

I made it through this rite of passage. No one was injured. And she asked to see my work. Maybe she will like it. All I can do now is wait and see.

In the meantime, I plan to trust in the process knowing it will all work out while I happily dig into my next project.

Onward.

Here’s a few pitching tips from Writer’s Digest and The Write Practice. All I can add is: Tell your subconscious self to chill.

 

 

Crappy First Draft: My Smiling Pile of Poo

All writers know first drafts are less than perfect. In fact, they are usually awful. Crappy first drafts are par for the course.

At Walmart one day I was shopping with my son. I saw a Smiling Pile of Poo Bank. Jokingly, I said, “When I finish the rough draft for my novel I should treat myself by buying this to hold all the money I earn when I’m a famous author.”

He took it off the shelf and put it in the buggy. “I’m buying it for you.”

“No, no,” I said. “I have to finish the draft first.”

“You will,” he said.

“What if I don’t?”

“You will.”

It gave me the warm fuzzies to think he had faith in me. The guy must believe I could write a novel if he parted with cash to purchase such a thing.

I’m not really sure if having this bank represents earnings I will make selling books. Perhaps, being empty, it better represents all the money I have spent attempting to learn the craft of novel writing.

The Pile of Poo sat in a central place. I saw it every day. We all saw it every day. If I had been good and worked on my novel, the face smiled encouragingly at me. On the other hand, on days I could have written but didn’t, I swear that pile of poo mocked me with its big, round bugeyes and sly, silly grin. Plus, now my son was invested, having bought that pile of poo for me.  He is a grown man, but he is still my kid. If he had enough faith in me to buy a ceramic bank with his own money, I had to be worthy of that pile of poo.

poobank

It was about this time last year when I heard back from an agent. My full manuscript had been requested, but in the end was turned down. I wasn’t entirely sure what the issue was, so I hired book coach Sarah Hamer to help me. 

Here we are many months later with about 40,000 words added to the story. Many of these words were written 500 at a time as I kept to my daily minimum goal. Over time I did pick up speed, learning to use speech to text and making adjustments to current challenges.

New characters walked onto the stage, and the plot is better. I decided to change from Middle Grade to Young Adult, and hopefully corrected any major story flaws.

Finally, my draft is finished! You know what that means. Now I get to begin re-writing and editing.

And my Smiling Pile of Poo will be here to encourage me every step of the way.

Oh, and by the way, one of my other boys bought me this lovely first draft notebook, trusting I have another story in me waiting to be written.

poonotebook

 

It’s wonderful to have supportive kids, even if they give me lots of crap, I mean poo.

#AmWriting

4 Tips On How Not to Plan a Writing Retreat

#amwriting donnastone.meI have had fair success at getting words on the current WIP flowing. Not all of those words are kept, mind you. But then that is the nature of a first draft.

“The first sentence can’t be written until the final sentence is written.”Joyce Carol Oates

Committed to writing a certain amount on my novel in progress every day, I have decided to pretend this forced vacating of my home is a writer’s retreat. This fantasy would probably be easier to maintain if I had not brought my family, including our new puppy, along with me.

Tip #1 Don’t bring your kids or a puppy.

kayleeintroublesmall.

There are also the constant interruptions of new information about the home repairs which tend to get me sidetracked. The ongoing saga is a twisted version of a never ending story, reminding me of If You Give A Mouse A Cookie.

Along the way to the discovery of where the moisture is coming from we found no leaks, but we did find out the home has what was referred to as “the pipe of the future” otherwise known as polybutylene pipe. This particular kind of pipe is no longer used because it is destined to fail. Check your pipes, peeps.

During the new water line installation, I was informed the hot water heater has been leaking. No word on the water damage from that yet.

After numerous consultations, it has been determined that the constant water collecting under the sinks is probably from condensation. This may be due to the vapor barrier being compromised when a neighbor’s dog got under the home. Or it could be because of improper site prep. They are working on it.

Tip #2 Leave your home problems at home and don’t answer calls.

Other issues will be dealt with as the summer progresses. The good news is, no mold in the walls as far as we can tell with mold kits and this handy snaking camera.

WIN_20150614_181226

 

Tip # 3 Don’t give up writing no matter what.

“Writing is easy. You just open a vein and bleed.”               Red Smith

Meanwhile, I will keep busy scribbling away on the book when I’m not enjoying myself poolside here at my writing retreat.

Tip #4 Don’t forget to find JOY in the journey.

#amwriting

How are you reaching your goals? What inspires you? I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment.

Linked up at

Literacy Musing Mondays, Good Morning Mondays, Inspire Me Monday, The Book Nook

Book Review| Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster

ea4a7-daddylonglegs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daddy Long Legs

By Jean Webster

I recently revisited a childhood favorite of mine, Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster.

Daddy Long Legs was published in 1912 and contained drawings by Jean Webster as well. Unfortunately, I do not have a print copy of the book but was able to download the text for my kindle from Project Gutenberg here.

I probably read this for the first time when I was very young and read it over and over. I have not reread it since I was twelve or so.

I was surprised to find it was not what I expected. The character of Jerusha was still witty and charming with a bit of sass, but reading as an adult gives an entirely different perspective.

Jerusha Abbott is an orphan dependent upon the charity of a benefactor who wishes to remain anonymous.  Daddy Long Legs is story told through a series of letters that Jerusha must write as a stipulation to receive college funds. Jerusha is smart, clever, and beautiful, if educationally stunted by her orphanage upbringing.

Daddy Long Legs is an easy to read book. If you are interested in women’s rights, social movements, societal changes, or the political history of the time period, you might be interested in this book.

Even though I kept in mind this book was published almost 100 years ago, I still felt uncomfortable at parts of the book by the behavior of Daddy Long Legs aka John Smith. Perhaps men of the day did typically treat women in such ways, but to a modern reader there is a high creepiness factor.

The author’s political view point and worldview come thorough in this story.

It would make for an easy and enjoyable way to study the issues and topics of the day.

A book from a slightly later time period reviewed on this site is Miss Buncle’s Book by By D.E. Stevenson. Both books are humorously clever and easy to read with a female protagonist making her way in the world.

SPOILER

As a child, I thought Daddy Long Legs was a simple story about an orphan who is rescued by a rich man who then falls in love with her. There are no mature themes in the book, but Daddy Long Legs was written for young ladies, not children.

The new view of my old favorite was somewhat disappointing. I still liked the character of Jerusha, but the story felt a bit disorienting, like approaching a once familiar place from a different direction.

Have you reread a childhood favorite and had a similar experience?

 

Linked up at

Literacy Musing Monday, The Book Nook

Book Review|Invisible: An Ivy Malone Mystery by Lorena McCourtney

4184V3DM6KL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Invisible: An Ivy Malone Mystery #1

By Lorena McCourtney

Invisible by Lorena McCourtney follows our possum grey haired heroine through various situations. Ivy Malone attempts to solve what started out as a simple vandalism mystery that turns out to big much bigger crimes. Ivy is a LOL (Little Old Lady) with more than a touch of curiosity and humor. She also had a tendency to get herself into scrapes.

When Ivy realizes that she is often overlooked to the point of feeling invisible, she decides that may not always be a bad thing. Invisibility is a boon when making observations and getting into places unnoticed. I loved this character. Ivy is one smart lady, but she does not take herself too seriously.

This is an inspirational cozy and the main character’s Christianity flows naturally. Ivy has some encouraging and comforting advise about life in various parts of the story that fit with the character and situation.

If you are looking for a light summer mystery with doses of Christian encouragement occurring throughout,  Invisible: An Ivy Malone Mystery #1 may be one for you.

Invisible is one of my favorite inspirational cozy mysteries. I snagged this one as a free kindle copy a while back and liked it enough to buy the next two books in the series.

A new book in the Ivy Malone series, Go Ivy, Go! An Ivy Malone Mystery #5 was released on May 27th, 2015. It is available for kindle and nook.

Author Lorena McCourtney’s Website

Linked up at

The Book Nook, Literacy Musing Mondays

 

Book Review|The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio by Terry Ryan

51UJq0+7CVL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio: How My Mother Raised 10 Kids on 25 Words or Less

by Terry Ryan

The memoir The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio by Terry Ryan is entertaining and inspirational. Terry’s mother, Evelyn Ryan, used ingenuity and wit to battle poverty and raise her ten children despite a difficult home situation. Gifted with a writing ability, she kept the family afloat financially by making a career of entering product contests popular at the time.

Often, I was moved as I listened to the story of this family and the struggles they experienced growing up in the 1950s and 60s with an alcoholic father and constant financial uncertainty .

Although she was faced with trying circumstances, Evelyn handled them all with a no nonsense attitude colored with humor. Terry obviously has a great deal of love and respect for her mother. I think this book is a beautiful tribute.

This was a story that kept me engrossed. I listened to the audiobook and finished it in one sitting.

Recommended.

Issues of concern:

Father’s alcoholism, poverty, destruction of property, incident where father pushes mother and causes injury, lack of support

I listened to the audio version of The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio: How My Mother Raised 10 Kids on 25 Words or Less read by Terry Ryan, the author. This is an abridged version. The recording and the reading were well done and easy to listen to.

Book Discussion Questions for The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio from Mount Prospect Public Library

This memoir has been made into a movie, which I have viewed. The movie stays true to the version of the book I listened to with minor changes and deletions. I believe the heart of the story is conveyed quite well on the screen.

 

Linked up at

Linking Out Loud Thursday, Literacy Musing Monday, #readwithme

Book Review| Miss Buncle’s Book

Miss Buncle’s Book

By D.E. Stevenson

Miss Buncle's Book

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Barbara Buncle finds herself in a bit of a financial pinch and must come up with a way to generate some income. She could raise chickens, but she doesn’t like chickens, so even though she has no imagination, she decides to write a book. In the fictional town of Copperfield, which closely resembles her own village of Silverstream, Miss Buncle writes the only thing she can. Under the pen name of John Smith, she writes about what she knows, life in her village. The characters are thinly veiled depictions of her neighbors. When the book becomes a hit, all manner of trouble erupts.

I loved this book. It is witty and fast paced, completely enjoyable. The characters are lovable, except for the ones we are not supposed to love, and the tale is superbly crafted. I enjoyed the idea of a book within a book. It was a light-hearted, effortless read full of subtle humor. We are not sure if Miss Buncle is extremely intelligent, or if she is completely oblivious.

Even though the characters in Miss Buncle’s Book are mirrors of her novel’s characters and the names switch back and forth, this story is never confusing.

I listened to this book on my older kindle and it was interesting enough that the text to speech voice did not distract or tire me as it usually does. I did not need to switch from listening to reading. Kindle voice and I went to the end of Miss Buncle’s Book together, which ended the way a book is supposed to, with a satisfying conclusion.

This book was originally published in 1934 and reissued in 2009. Because of this it is effortlessly authentic to the time.

If you like cozies, you may like this one.

This book was fun to read.

One note on the cover art, some editions have a picture of an old grey haired lady on the cover. That is not Miss Buncle! If you come across that cover, don’t let it deter you from reading.

An interesting fact is that D.E. Stevenson, also known by her married name of Dorothy Emily Peploe, was first cousin to Robert Louis Stevenson.

Issues of concern

Miss Buncle writes about her neighbors as she sees them, but with a sense of naiveté. There are two characters who are suggested to be lesbians. The novel Miss Buncle writes unveils all manner of scandal in the minds of some villagers, but Miss Buncle seems unaware of this. Miss Buncle’s Book is categorized as a clean read.

I can’t remember who recommended this book. If it was you, please drop me a line!

Another easy to read cozy I reviewed is The Sweetness At The Bottom of The Pie by Alan Bradly.

Linked up at

The Book Nook, Literacy Musing Mondays

Shall I Compare Thee

Recently, I went to a writer’s conference. Since I am having some trouble with my eyes and have not gotten my eyeglass prescription quite right yet, my eldest son drove me. He is not a writer. He writes computer code, but that’s about it. His reading selections tend toward technical nonfiction, the Bible, and a little Sci-Fi.

We were chatting with a writer and I asked her what she wrote. The boy had no idea what Rom Com meant. It kind of rhymes with Comic Con, but he knew they were not otherwise related.

Later he asked me, “What did she say she writes?”

“Romantic Comedy.”

“”Oh,” he says. “Like A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

Even though Shakespeare basically invented the genre, for some reason his answer tickled me to no end. Maybe I was fatigued, but for whatever reason it struck me funny.

“Well,” he said, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream is the only romantic comedy I can think of, except for The Taming of The Shrew.”

I promise, this guy has sat through some chick flicks, but apparently they didn’t cut the mustard.

Maybe all some guys need is Shakespeare. You know, a man could do worse than to borrow from The Bard. If your fella could sing Sonnet 18 to you at a key moment, it would impress.

Old fashioned is still romantic.

Linked up at

The Book Nook

 

Meeting the Governor

It’s not every day you get to meet the governor, but last week I did. I listened to him speak to a smallish group, wishing my daughter could be in the room. This is an important man.

He was very personable. I enjoyed his talk immensely and told him so. I got to shake his hand and have my picture taken with him. Right before the picture was snapped I wished I had worn something else, but was pleased just the same thinking about how I could say to my friends, “Guess what? I met the Governor!”

Here it is week later and I didn’t mention it to a soul. It’s been a hectic week. We are trying to get ready for a trip my daughter is taking. Performances are involved, so there are practices, costumes to get ready, hotel reservations to make, the list goes on. One of the boys is sick with some sort of virus again. It has been raining quite a bit lately and my car sprung a leak. A good six inches of water collected in the bottom of the trunk before we noticed it. There has been some upheaval in other areas of life as well. I think the most disrupting thing has been the addition of a new puppy to our family.

He is an eight week old mixed darling who came to us needing medical care and grooming. Now that he is feeling better we have discovered he obviously has some ADHD heritage. While our new pup Thunder is a joy, like some of the human boys in this family who also have ADHD heritage, he is an exhausting joy. He is going to be l a r g e. It is imperative that he learn commands like ‘down’ as soon as possible. Anyone who has ever had a pup knows there is a massive time investment in the cleaning and scooping areas as well. So I’ve been busy. Too busy to think about name dropping at all.

Yesterday my hands were in a sink of dirty dishes and I was day dreaming about being a famous novelist someday. Perhaps people would line up just to shake my hand and smile at me. That’s when I remembered meeting the Governor. If I ever do get famous I will certainly not be as important or vital as he is, and I had forgotten all about my big moment of meeting the governor.

Should my day in the spotlight ever come and my head start to swell, I will remind myself that people might have other things on their minds besides thinking about how great I am. Like getting on back to the house in hopes there won’t be extra puppy messes to clean up.