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.

downloadWould I recommend this book?

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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Writer’s Retreat!

This past week I was lucky enough to meet up with a very important out of town guest.  A bit of backstory…  The lovely Dr. Elena Sandovici and I have been corresponding ever since she wrote to me about my book back in February.  She is the author of Dogs with Bagels and a  talented water colorist.  While she teaches in the States, she often spends summers in Europe (much closer to the Emirates).  When she suggested a visit to my warm shores, I was delighted!  It’s funny to correspond with someone for so long and then finally meet them.  Some of my favorite things I learned about Elena?  In list form, please!

  1. She types one handed!  I was in awe of this fact.
  2. She speaks 5 languages.
  3. She is a wonderful person to talk about characters with.
  4. She knows her way around the La Mer counter!
  5. She has great fashion sense – I’m still jealous of the red dress she bought!
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The authors thinking about their characters at sundown.

As an author, and especially a self published one, it’s been wonderful to connect with another author going through a similar process.  The ups and downs – the little victories.  I’ve enjoyed this growing friendship immensely.

Hoping we meet again soon!

Book Review: The Unexpected Waltz

Another day, another book where the husband is dead.  Such is my life.  As I love dancing, I was very excited to read this novel, but now that I’ve finished it, I can’t really say how this book left me feeling.  I wasn’t particularly drawn in by the protagonist (especially her presentation as a widow), nor did the sections explaining dance speak to me.  As a dancer, the backdrop of the strict dance studio and the world presented didn’t resonate with my own experience.  It’s not that my own dancing trumps anyone else’s, it’s just I think the sequences could be done better.  I’ve only tackled the act of ballroom dance in a few short stories, so I know it’s difficult to translate the passion, movement and tempo of what takes place on the dance floor to the page, but again, I felt that if a non-dancer was reading this they wouldn’t necessarily be taken away to the magical world that is ballroom.  To go on a bit of a tangent, treating dance as something only accessible by (expensive) private lessons seems a bit unfair.  If you possess any amount of rhythm, you should be able to go out to a club or event that caters to this sort of crowd and pick a lot of it up on your own.  Unless you were going to compete, social dancing is a fairly easy scene to get into.  (And for the record, it’s an activity that crosses religious and racial boundaries – salsa dancing in Qatar was about the only fun thing I did while there).

I digress…  Back to the book.

The good?  Excellent supporting cast.  And I’ll admit it, any dancing is better than no dancing.

The bad?  Meh lead character.  Literally no character development of the dead husband.  Numerous unresolved issues.  This felt more like a self-published book than it did a novel from one of the publishing houses.

The random?  I really liked the book club questions at the end of the book!  I might have to do something similar.

A look at Amazon reveals positive reviews (4 – this book came out recently) and as usual, Goodreads slightly lower (more realistic?).

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Decent, but a $5.99 price feels more appropriate (and $18.00 for the hardcover seems out of control).

‘Book’ bags.

Not real posts are so much fun to write!  Also, terrible pun is terrible!

I recently started following the ‘Book Love’ Pinterest board by PopSugar, which has a lot of great book recommendations.  They also had a section with some really cute pairing of books with bags…which gave me an excuse to look for bags to go with my novels!  And also find an awesome Tory Burch that I now totally want.

For Room 702, I thought classic, but quirky (just like the Winchester).  I ultimately decided on the Paul Smith (for those with more masculine tastes) and Kate Spade (for those with more feminine tastes).

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For my Line books, I wanted something a bit more fun.  I found some great inside joke references, but ultimately decided on the below option – a backpack I think any of my young ladies would carry.

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Book review: The Widow’s Guide to Sex and Dating

After a break from my grief books (thank you Life After Life, for a fantastic detour), I picked up The Widow’s Guide to Sex and Dating: A Novel by Carole Radziwill (a work of fiction).  To begin with, this is the second book I’ve picked up where the (dead) husband is a philanderer.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the novel – but I don’t understand why this plot point is necessary.  Thus far, the books seem to kill off the husband by either mostly ‘tragic freak accident’ or ‘long debilitating illness.’  With the freak accident storyline, the dead husband has been cheating on his wife (now widow).  I’m not really sure why this is.  In working on my current manuscript (so close to being finished), I never once thought to make Joe someone who cheated on my protagonist.  It would feel very cheap to do so.  While she (I’m still debating the name) does learn plenty about her husband after his death, there are no ‘other women’ waiting in the wings.  Do the other authors make this choice to justify their characters sleeping with new men?

I was also a bit intrigued with the chosen voice of the book.  It’s very…atypical.  I warmed up to it at the end, but having the narrator be…no one involved with the story, I wasn’t sure why Ms. Radziwill would choose to present the book this way.  Additionally, while I was sympathetic to the protagonist, I never connected with her the way I have with others.

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Would I recommend? Maybe, but I think the price needs to drop about $5.

As always, I’m curious what reviewers think.  The readers seem mostly happy with this book, although the average is currently lower than my own Room 702 on both Amazon and Goodreads – where ouch! the readers are truly brutal.

Googlism.

In case you didn’t know – at Googlism.com will find out what Google.com thinks of you, your friends or anything!  (I did this with my real name as well and was pleased with the results).

Googlism for: Room 702

room 702 is a luxurious junior suite at a fictional hotel
room 702 is not for them
room 702 is a collection of short stories and little dreams that weave a rich world of whimsy and undercurrents
room 702 is a double
room 702 is supposedly inhabited by a ghost
room 702 is an easy read
room 702 is where john lennon and yoko ono held a week long “bed
room 702 is next to the american corner on the
room 702 is a double double suite at the roger smith hotel
room 702 is said to be haunted and there have even been images captured of this ghost
room 702 is on the corner and has a great view
room 702 is amazing and the outdoor terrace is perfect to enjoy and
room 702 is the north
room 702 is beautiful
room 702 is a good family sized room?
room 702 is a great room great views and very large and comfortable
room 702 is nice and quiet and right by the pool

Okay, so not all of them make sense – but I think most have to do with my book.  Whoo-hoo!

I’m hoping to get back to real posting soon.  I have an exciting meeting with another author I met through my book next week!  She is coming to the Emirates and I’m super excited.

 

When Ann travels…

This is how I roll!

Given I tend to make 2-3 long haul RT long haul trips a year, I’ve got my routine down to a bit of a science.  Although I usually am fortunate enough to fly business class, I do make the (very) occasional coach class flight – and I’m looking at a 13+ hour flight tomorrow with Emirates to Boston.  Fortunately, I think the world of Emirates and there’s no one else I’d rather be making the flight with.  I’ve secured my favorite seat (first bulkhead, directly in front of the bulkhead = no one behind me) and have fingers crossed that seat showing next to me will remain open so I can spread out.  So, what does my carry on contain?

1.  First and foremost, my Beats.  I hate most noises, so these are essential for cutting out most sounds.

2.  Ear plugs – yup – I double up!  You never know when the screaming baby is going to be seated near you, so I pack these just to be safe.

3.  Disposable socks (an unused pair usually left over from a previous flight).  Put on over socks – discard after flight.

4.  Hand sanitizer.  Sharing germs for that many hours?  Seems necessary!

5.   iPad mini loaded with books.  I never know what I’ll feel like reading – so, I have 5-6 books to choose from.

6.  Eye mask.  Although my entire flight tomorrow is during daylight hours, I might want a snooze.

7.  Pack of Kleenex (for inevitable spills and needs that arise).

8.  Spare shirt (for when I arrive).

9.  Fleece jacket/pashmina.  It can get cold, or I can use my jacket for a pillow.

10. Laptop for writing.  I usually manage a decent writing session on these types of flights.  I’m hoping for a little over 2,000 words tomorrow.

11.  Podcasts/relaxation app.  Sometimes you just want to zone out.  Podcasts are perfect for this, as is the Pzizz sleep app.  Even though it’s very rare for me to sleep while sitting up, the Pzizz app is a great way for me to kind of zen out for as long as I want (you can set the time that you want it to run).

12.  E-gate card (I skip those lines whenever possible!)

Keep those fingers crossed for an upgrade tomorrow!!!

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