A copy of Room 702 now exists in the real world!

While writing Room 702, I always had a chapter written in another language in mind.  As I have zero language abilities (besides English), I wanted to find someone to write a chapter in something other than English.  After my mini writers retreat the fabulous Ms. Elena Sandovici (author of Dogs with Bagels, and speaker of five languages), I felt she could be the right person for the job.  I asked, and she said yes!  Now, given all the travel I’ve been up to this summer, I kind of forgot about this conversation.  So much so, that when I logged into Createspace and saw that (gasp!) the first print copy of Room 702 had been sold, I immediately went into a panic (why, I still don’t know).  For some reason, the book didn’t feel ready (even though it’s been out and available for months).  When I learned it was Elena who had the book and that she was using it to research where her chapter might fit in, I felt infinitely better.

Yes, I need a copy of my own, but it’s a happy thought that the one current copy in the world is with a good friend.  I look forward to her contributions to the book!

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Looks pretty, doesn’t it?

Shows I Love: Playing House.

Given that it’s usually over 100F+ during the summer in Abu Dhabi, I often find myself indoors during daylight hours.  And during those hours when I should be writing I watch TV.  Like many people, once I find a show that I like, I tend to binge watch.  A recent favorite that I am eagerly awaiting another season of is the fantastic comedy Playing House.  There are all kinds of humorous shows out there, but Playing House really hits the sweet spot for me (think, the best parts of Scrubs, Happy Endings and Gilmore Girls).  The writing is fantastic, the friendship and chemistry between the characters is palpable (real life friends Jessica St Clair and Lennon Parham are have serious funny cred) and supporting cast are all memorable.

Putting aside above, I love love love (!) how romance takes a back seat.  I love that two female characters are just friends – living life as best they can.  Neither are perfect (nor do I want them to be).

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These ladies is my jam.

Anyway, my love for this show was completely cemented when they dedicated an entire episode (appropriately entitled Drumline) to a marching band reunion.  One of my favorite comedians, Jason Mantzoukas, (among others) plays a former flame and guest star.  Being I am a former band geek, this was literally the best 22 minutes of my life.  It was if the episode was written specifically for me.

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Oh, I do know.

Anyway, this is all to say that I sincerely hope the USA network renews this utterly fantastic show.  And if you haven’t already, watch this show!

Book Review: Mad About the Boy

When a friend suggested I read the latest work of Helen Fielding (of Bridget Jones fame), I had to admit I was interested.  Here was a character I liked with a situation similar to one I had just finished writing.  I plunked down my $12 and settled in for a nice holiday read.  I was…whelmed.  The ‘crazy’ British lady trope is one I always try to enjoy, but end up getting annoyed with (I’m looking at you, Shopaholic series).  Bridget Jones, even in her 50’s, has not outgrown many of her previous bad habits.  Don’t get me wrong, I think she should still be able to get drunk, eat whatever she wants, etc., however…I would’ve liked to have seen some degree of maturity and character growth from her previous life (really, the subplot regarding Twitter posting in the book is downright cringeworthy!  Also, do NOT get me started on the name Roxster).

As for her being a widow, the topic is so absolutely washed over, it’s almost not worth mentioning.  For being a very central figure in the previous novels, Mark Darcy’s death is not something Bridget particularly dwells on.  Yes, I realize in the span of the book that it’s been a number of years and of course I have no problem with her moving on.  However, it’s the blase manner in which she does so that is irritating.  My protagonist approaches her widowhood in such a different way, that for most of the book I forgot Bridget even was a widow (maybe that intentional on the part of Ms. Fielding, I don’t know).

I guess I really wonder, why?  Why write this book?  It’s an extensive piece of exposition that feels forced and phoned in.  I have no doubt Ms. Fielding could write Bridget in her sleep, but why put a well loved protagonist through all this?  I have no doubt that some executive in Hollywood will (if they haven’t already) option this and who knows?  Maybe it will make a good film.

Reading the reviews of the book, it appears I am in the majority.  For a successful author, this book does not receive particularly decent ratings on either Amazon or Goodreads, with plenty of scathing comments and disappointed readers.  I think the price is way too high and am surprised an editor didn’t get a look at an early draft and tell the author to go back to the drawing board.

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For die hard Bridget fans only.

Lovely artwork (and belated review of Fangirl).

 

First of all, some brilliant fan artwork entitled Fanception by palnnk (link to original on Deviant Art).tumblr_n5ygpwYc3F1rusnwyo1_500

 

This fantastic artwork is based on the book Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.  I read the novel awhile back and neglected to write a review, but I thought the book was fantastic – it really captured what it’s like to be an awkward young woman in college.  The transition from high school to university isn’t always an easy one, so I loved how Ms. Rowell presented the challenged (especially for an introvert).  My love of the book aside, as a long time fanfiction writer, this image really spoke to me.  For those who don’t know, the incandescent rabbits circulating the characters are what we writers like to refer to as ‘plot bunnies.’  I don’t think I’ve ever seen these devices portrayed so well.

Writing is a very individual activity.  In not quite the vivid detail as above, I love how my characters exist only in my mind and the crazy things the bunnies come up with while I’m writing.  Translating it all to the page is what makes the rough draft my favorite part of the writing process.

Maybe the picture makes no sense to you, but to me it’s a pitch perfect view of my head.

Book Review: Tiger Lily

Maybe at this point, you’re wondering, will Ann ever read a book she actually likes?  Enjoys?  Loves?  The answer is yes!

Now, stop what you’re doing and go download this book.  It’s a mega steal at $1.99.

What can I say?  Even though it’s technically ‘YA,’ this is one of the best books I’ve read this year.  First of all, it takes a bold author if you’re going to tackle a well known set of characters and already created world.  Fortunately, Jodi Lynn Anderson excels in fleshing out Neverland and its various inhabitants.  I don’t want to give too much away, but Ms. Anderson’s presentation of the relationship Tiger Lily and Peter Pan is so heartrendingly perfect, I had some tears at the end of the book.  When I got to the last page, I not only sent out recommendations to friends, but am desperate to see this adapted as a film.  Park aside a wonderfully crafted POC protagonist and a unique faerie narrator, the supporting cast also shine. I will literally never watch Peter Pan the same way again.  Enough gushing – just stop reading this and go start the book already.

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Stop. Do not pass Go. Buy this book.

 

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Tink totes has her reasons for doing this!  Get out of the way, Wendy bird.

Book Review: Saturday Night Widows, The Adventures of Six Friends Remaking Their Lives

Even though I’ve finished working on the manuscript for my little Widow WIP (hurrah!), I’m definitely still reading books in the genre.  Saturday Night Widows by Becky Aikman is billed as a ‘memoir’ but I have to agree with many of the reviewers in that it seems as though Ms. Aikman pitched a book idea and then decided on her group after.  This was less an organic story of women who have suffered great tragedy (which they did) and more ‘the publisher gave me an advance, so I better find some dynamic characters.’  While I did appreciate the hardship for each of the women, as well as the triumphs in a difficult time, I thought Ms. Aikman was a strange choice for a narrator.  Bridging between memoir and outsider/commentator, the book never seemed to find its voice.

In reading the reviews and comments, I was happy to see that this voice touched a lot of widows and brought them happiness or a story that they could relate to.  However, the critiques brought up some interesting points I am considering for my own novel.  Many of the readers had issue that this group of widows were somewhat removed from the reality of what many others who have lost a spouse had to go through (crippling medical bills, figuring out who will look after children).  While my novel doesn’t quite side step this issue, I could do with a bit more grounding of my character.  While my protagonist isn’t whipping off to the Galapagos, she does have a considerable amount of time off (which I’m hoping is justified by a healthy insurance policy and the – spoiler – sale of her house).  While I figured I’d made her life difficult enough by killing off her husband, maybe there are other elements I can bring in to make her more realistic.

Additionally, when the widows (slight spoiler) make a trip to Morocco, I had some issue with the presentation of the tour.  Having lived in the Middle East for nearly seven years, I hate when pop culture (I’m looking at you Sex in the City 2) wants to focus on the ‘otherness’ of ‘exotic’ locations.  No.  Just no.  And please stop.  The cities I’ve lived in (Dubai, Doha, Abu Dhabi) are places like anywhere else in the world.  People work.  They raise families.  Albeit, it is against the backdrop of absolute monarchies and a Muslim state, but these things are not worth dwelling on.  I appreciate that the group in the book met with Muslim widows, but I wish it had been done with a less ‘look how different they are’ eye.  Of course they are different.  Being a widow in New York City versus Morocco is going to lead to heaps of differences.

And finally, Ms. Aikman, what is really so wrong with your group calling themselves the Blossoms?  I feel like your editor should have cut out any of your constant digs at the name for your group.  These are your girls.  Way to represent.

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I guess….

For those who enjoyed Eat, Pray, Love – I think this book would suit you.  Read into that however you want.

Untitled Road Trip manuscript is complete!

I’ve been fortunate enough to write a book every year since 2005/6 (I honestly can’t remember #humblebrag).  While there was another book I actually started last year (and haven’t finished), it was my little Road Trip project that kicked up in my head earlier in the year and demanded to be written.  Having started in February, I knew I was tracking towards finishing the book, but didn’t expect to complete it today (endings usually sneak up on me).  Of course, this is just the rough draft we’re talking about and there’s still heaps of work to be done on it, but there is almost nothing better than completing a project that you’ve been working on for months.

Now, to put it away for awhile (I don’t think I’ll look at it again until August/September) and…finish a first draft of another book I meant to finish late last year.  A writer’s work is never done!

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