Thursday, April 26, 2012

Thursday Things

1. I survived the weekend trip to Tucson (it seems it’s taken me this long to fully recover). We ended up NOT going to the science center. Instead, we took the kids to Toys R Us. That may seem like a lame option, but my kids have never been to a Toys R Us and they wanted to go (except oldest son, E, who stayed in the hotel room). Later that night we went out to dinner with my oldest sister and her family and my mom. We ate at Golden Corral (which we had also never been to). After eating, we went back to the hotel and the kids and hubby swam in the pool with the cousins while I chatted with my sister. We got to see my younger sister’s new baby and lots of family that I hadn’t seen in a while—including my two new adorable nieces.

2. I’ve been having more fun painting on the iPad!

Spring BloomsPurple Storm

Using hubby’s stylus wasn’t cutting it for me so after some research I bought the Adonit Jot Pro stylus:


You can’t see it in this picture, but there’s a cap that screws onto the end (so you don’t lose it). It also sticks nicely to the magnetic side of the iPad so I don’t lose it. Yay! I had some fun experimenting and drew this a few minutes ago (took about an hour):

character 1

Then I decided to add some freckles:

character freckles 2

I’ve decided I LOVE the Jot Pro stylus! It’s very responsive and with the little round see through surface, I’m able to add fine detail to things.

3. It’s raining here today. Though I love that this means I won’t have to water my flowers, the kids broke all the umbrellas (they think they’re toys no matter how many times I tell them not to touch unless it’s raining) so I’m trying to stay inside today. However, the kids have a 1/2 day of school so I’ll likely have to drive to the bus stop to pick them up (they ride the bus home now to save gas $$) so they won’t get their little heads rained upon.

4. Next week is finals. I’m not overly concerned since they are take home tests—open book and everything (I love my history teacher). Next Tuesday will be my last “official” day of school. Monday the 7th I’ll have to go back to ceramics to pick up my finished projects, but that doesn’t really count as a class IMO. I’m excited that it’s almost over, but also sad since I won’t be going back next semester (and maybe not the semester after that).

5. I got an email from my amazing agent with fabulous feedback on my YA yesterday! Can I just say again that she’s amazing?! Some of the things she pointed out were “duh” moments, but I never would have seen them if she hadn’t pointed them out to me. There are LOTS of problems with this MS (I did tell her it was a mess before sending it to her), and I emailed back to ask if she thought it was worth fixing or if I should move on. We’ll see what she says.

6. I’m going to work on my MG today. I do love this story, but I did ask amazing agent if she wanted to look at what I have so far to see if it’s suitable for the market before I spend too much time on a MS that won’t sell. I have so many other ideas waiting for me that it’s good to have someone who can guide me and let me know what to work on. I look forward to hearing what she has to say.

I hope you all have a great Thursday!!

Write on.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Thursday Three

1. This week the kids have been doing AIMS testing. As a reward for their hard work (and because we needed to go visit family on Sunday anyway), we planned a trip to Tucson. We plan to visit Flandrau Science Center on Saturday and then spend some time on Sunday with my sister and brother-in-law so we can see their new baby boy (born at the beginning of this month). As always happens when we try to plan something, we aren’t sure we’ll make it. Hubby started feeling lousy yesterday. He has a sore throat and is coughing a bit. *sigh* We’ll see how things are tomorrow and then make a decision (hopefully in time to cancel hotel reservations). The kids have been very understanding about the possible cancellation (a couple of them are actually hoping we don’t go since they had planned to spend time with friends on Saturday). Still, I hope we are able to go since it will be good to get away and have some fun . . . and see the new nephew.

2. I’ve been doing some writing on the MG and revising on the YA. Things are going well in both of them (and a huge thanks to a certain critique buddy who has been sending a few chapters of the YA at a time with the most awesome feedback!!). While working on the projects, ideas for new works have tried to tempt me away. I’m holding strong and only taking down notes instead of dropping everything to play with the new shiny—a big step for me since I like new shiny things.

3. Speaking of new shiny things, about a week ago, I got a shiny new iPad! I wasn’t going to get one since I didn’t think it would be useful to me and would only distract me from my work—but hubby got one and I discovered the world of technology and apps at my fingertips! To tell the truth, the main reason I gave in and got one of my own was because of school. No. Really! There’s this awesome app called AudioNote where I can record the lectures and type notes at the same time (we got the Bluetooth keyboard for the iPad) and the notes are synched and time stamped to the lecture. So if I have a question about one of my notes or just want to hear a section again I click on my note, and it plays back that part of the lecture! Also, my History 105 book that I bought for Kindle only works on PC, Mac, or iPad so I had been trying to read it off my laptop each week—not fun. Though the iPad screen isn’t as easy on my eyes as the e-ink display of my Kindle, it’s easier and much more fun on the iPad. I can zoom in on a page of text or a map or picture in the book with the touch of my fingers. So cool!! I still prefer my Kindle for reading everything else. There’s also this App called OnLive Desktop where I can send my Word documents to my iPad and work on them there! So I can take my writing with me in a much smaller and easier to carry/work with format (cause that Bluetooth keyboard rocks).

And that’s not all the iPad can do. I broke down and spent about $6 to purchase the ArtRage app for iPad! This is the program I use at my laptop for drawing/sketching on my Intuos 4 tablet. I do like the tablet better than the iPad just because the stylus for the tablet is better than the stylus I stole—um borrowed from hubby for the iPad. The stylus hubby bought just has this large round rubbery thing on the end of it and it doesn’t work so well when trying to do fine detail work. Still, it’s much better than using my finger. Here are a couple of drawings I did as experiments on the iPad:

Tulip drawn on iPadMoon over water drawn on iPad


If any of my artist friends know of a stylus for iPad that is more “art friendly,” let me know. Not that I plan on spending a lot of time drawing on the iPad or anything. *blush*

There are apps to help the kids with their math and everything so it’s useful that way too (and, yes, we let the kids use them too). Also there is this horribly addicting app called Magic Piano (by Smule) that I’ve fallen in love with (thanks, sis for that—not!). Too much fun!!! Eh-hem. But really I’ve been working on my writing. Honest. The iPad fun is done after hours.

Do any of you have iPads? If so, what are your favorite apps? If you don’t have an iPad, do you want one and why or why not?


Write on!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Recent Reads Reviews

Try saying that three times fast. Winking smile

It’s time for me to get back into posting book reviews on my blog. I’ve decided to change up the format from my old Novel Novel Review days and try something new. Everyone uses stars or asterisks so I’m going to use emoticons instead.

Open-mouthed smile--WOW—I loved this book and have talked about/shared it with others.

Smile--Not totally in love, but this was a great book and I may talk about/share it with others.

Thinking smile--This was okay. I enjoyed reading it, but it’s not my favorite.

Sad smile--This wasn’t for me. I stopped reading and couldn’t bring myself to finish.

Steaming mad--How did this get published?

If you happen to be the author of one of the books I review, please remember this is my honest opinion. Don’t hate me if I don’t give your book a great big happy grin. I am only one reader in the whole wide readership and I’m sure there are those who’ll love your work—it just wasn’t me.

And so, for my first Recent Reads Review:

The Skeleton’s Knife by Joni Sensel—Open-mouthed smile—I’ve loved the Farwalker books from the moment I read The Farwalker’s Quest. Reading The Skeleton’s Knife was bittersweet for me; it’s the last book in the trilogy, and I’m sorry to see Ariel’s adventures end. But if beloved characters and world have to end, this is a great way to do it. I loved this book so much more than the second book (though not as much as the first). Sensel has a way of building a world and characters that grab on and don’t let go. The Skeleton’s Knife is the perfect blend of character and action that kept me reading through to the last page. Though the ending was quite satisfying, I admit, I still want more. But, as the song says, “you can’t always get what you want.”

The story—Ariel Farwalker is torn between the two young men she loves and struggles to discover which love to choose. Complicated as love is, the haunting past is even more so. In order to look to her future, Ariel must set out on an adventure to put the past and its memories to rest. After retrieving the Skeleton’s Knife, she must take it where it belongs. Though dead, the knife’s owner is bent on revenge. In order to save a life and have any hope for the future, Ariel must journey into a forbidding land where she will discover the truth about love and the power of forgiveness.


Beyonders: Seeds of Rebellion by Brandon Mull—Open-mouthed smile—I thought Mull was a genius fantasy writer when I read the Fablehaven series, and my opinion hasn’t changed with this new series. Though a bit slower moving than Beyonders: A World Without Heroes, I enjoyed the continued adventures of Jason and Rachel. And what adventures! Who wouldn’t want to be swallowed by a hippo or walk through an arch and end up in a new world? Okay, I’d choose the walking through the arch over the hippo method, but still—awesome! There was a nice balance between the two main characters, but I identified with and enjoyed Rachel’s story more in this book (the first book concentrated more on Jason IMO—which isn’t a problem). After the way this book ended, I can’t wait for the next Beyonders novel!

The story—After returning to his world, Jason finds himself longing for Lyrian and the friends he left behind there. Knowing he has valuable information that could change the course of the quest only makes him more desperate to get back. But going back will mean putting himself in danger since he’s at the top of Maldor’s most wanted list. In Jason’s absence, Rachel and the rest of their friends in Lyrian have continued their struggles against Maldor. Their most promising asset is Rachel and her newly discovered abilities—if she can learn to use them. In spite of the dangers, Jason finds his way back to Lyrian in time to warn his friends, but the information he shares sets the friends on a new and dangerous path to get the rebellion formed before Maldor can crush it and all of them.


Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin—Smile—I won an ARC of this novel and was kind of unsure about reading it. Not that the story didn’t sound awesome (cause it does), but because I’ve always loved Poe and don’t think anyone can do his work proud. I’m kind of wrong. Griffin interprets Poe’s tale into a vivid and imaginative dark novel. The only reason it doesn’t get a big huge smiley face from me is because I don’t care for the drug/alcohol abuse instances in the book. I know I’m a prude when it comes to this, and I’ve overlooked it before, but there was quite a bit of it in this one which made it difficult to get away from. True, the drug/alcohol abuse added to the darkness of the novel and character, but I think it would have worked just as well with less. In spite of the drug use, it gets a happy face because I enjoyed the dark, diseased world Griffin created—and I do want to read the next book.

The story—Araby hasn’t known a world without the plague and Prince Prospero’s rule, but she longs for one. The rich wear masks to protect them from the plague, and the poor die by the thousands. Corpse collectors and wagons piled high with the dead aren’t an uncommon sight. The dark atmosphere of her world makes it near impossible for Araby to deal with the death of her twin brother. Instead of facing it, she loses herself to the Debauchery Club, and the escape of drugs and alcohol it offers. At least until Araby finds a new escape in two young men and the different worlds each has to offer.


And that will do it for the Recent Reads Reviews for now. I have some other reads and hope to get reviews of them up soon.


Read on.