Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Winner!

I'm a winner! (and a dork, but that's beside the point.)

Paranormal romance writer, Jenna Black has a really cool contest every week where she asks readers to answer "what if" questions. The questions/scenarios are interesting, so I've been reading and, recently, answering the questions simply because they are so very interesting. I never answered with the intention of trying to win one of the contests.

So, it was a great surprise when I checked my email this morning and found a message from Jenna telling me I won. (It's a random drawing, and there weren't that many people who answered the question last week, so my chances were pretty good...but I never win things, so this was completely unexpected.) I'm very excited because in the next few weeks, an envelope should arrive with signed cover flats of Jenna's first three 'Guardians of the night' novels--I've never actually figured out what to do with signed cover flats, but the collector in me loves them.

If you have a few extra minutes, I highly recommend popping over to Jenna's blog. And if you haven't read her Guardian series yet, go pick it up! (The third novel in the series, Shadows on the Soul, will be out in September.)


Well, happy Tuesday everyone, back to work now.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Harry Potter: The End (No Spoilers)

(Note: this review contains no spoilers)

I finished the book and let it spin around in my head for a day. So, I am now ready to give my honest opinion on it.

As practically the entire world knows, Deathly Hollows ends the seven book series, concluding Harry's adventures. Single titles end, trilogies end, but it seems series rarely end. They might putter out, or have an ambiguous last book the author can come back to if he/she can find someone to buy another one, but a clear cut ending is something I don't encounter often. But, in the Potter universe, everything has been leading up to this final book. Story lines she has been carefully laying down since the first book all finally tie up with the conclusion of this story. There were moments where I hit myself on the head saying "oh yeah...she did say 'blah blah blah' in book X, I should have realized..." Other things I saw coming. I laughed out loud at times (startling the silence as my hubbie and I both sat around reading) and twice --once in the first 50 pages, and again in the middle of the book-- I teared up while reading.

The story meandered a bit at times, following the set formula from the previous books--start in the summer, illustrate high points of the school year (sans classes this time of course) and then the *big* conflict right before the school year ends. There was also a couple other "formulaic" elements that the reader will notice from most of the books--though many of them could be called continued character flaws. And I think, throughout the series, she was very true to her characters-- perhaps so much so that I ended up a little frustrated with them at times (though at least I didn't want to strangle Harry as often as I did in the 5th book.) Out of the magnitude of characters cast in the first 6 books, I think only a small handful didn't make an appearance in this final book, so we got to see some older faces before saying goodbye to everyone. I think that Rowling did a wonderful job of illustrating the effects of war on her world--losses on all sides, little victories here and there. In fact, my only complaint is with some of the 'logic' used in the end of the book. A friend and I have been hashing it out, and we both agree that all the pieces surrounding one small thing don't add up--but really, if it were any other book in the world, would we be studying it so closely? I would guess not. Over all, I really enjoyed it, and I think she did a good job ending what will probably be the most famous series during my lifetime.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

In Hand

At 12:02 am, I had the new copy of Harry Potter in my hot little hands. Reading now...and the death count is steadily growing!!

Who is out there reading with me?

Friday, July 20, 2007

A special kind of evil, Bloglines, and Woot!

There is a very special kind of evil in this world. The evil that brings sugary tastiness to the office when she knows all her coworkers are on a diet. That evil is me. *takes her bow* Thank you.

(Okay, there is more to that story, but the short of the long is that yesterday was my Mother's birthday, so I baked like 5 dozen cookies that are her (and my) favorite. With that many--and since its a super special family recipe--I thought I'd share. Apparently every woman over the age of 16 is on a diet, so bringing cookies to your coworkers is *baaad*)

Switching gears completely...is Bloglines being weird for anyone else? Aside from one or two people on my list, things have been pretty quiet on the blogfront recently. Or, so I thought. It seems that Bloglines has only been sending me posts by people on blogger...those using Live Journal or Wordpress have not been showing up. That changed this morning, when I logged on to a message that there were 99 new posts waiting for me to read. I've a lot of catching up to do!
Any one else having this problem?

In other news, I've discovered a new dangerous time waster (which is so not something I need!) For those of you with addictive personalities, avoid this link. For everyone else, you must check out the craziness that is Woot! They sell junk...and they admit that, and even make fun of themselves. It's hysterical...but the scary addictive part is the people who buy the stuff. They are like cyber-cult members. There is this thing called a "woot-off" going on right now in which every time woot sells out of one item of junk, a new one pops up. There could be one of the item, or 2000--the buyers have no idea, but they want to see what's next. So, the forum is full of people trying to talk everyone else into buying the junk, and comments like--"well, I took one for the team and bought three." It makes me wonder if some of these people have closets full of this junk? At the same time, I wasted hours last night (and over cooked one batch of cookies) sitting and hitting refresh to see the next item. Scary addictive thing. Good thing I don't have any money!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

I went to see the new Harry Potter movie at the IMAX this weekend. I usually go to the opening night show of the Harry Potter movies, in full costume with all my friends (and we usually make the paper) but with the new job, I decided staying out all night to see a movie was a bad plan. So, I went Charleston to see it on a five story screen Saturday (with the big fight scene in 3D--very cool.)
I won't give away any spoilers, but I will say I think they did a very good job. Certain things were left out and changed of course (how else can you reduce a 1000 page book into a 2 1/2 hour movie) but for the die hard fans, a lot of subtle things were left in if you pay attention.
If the story has J. K. Rowling's seal of approval, the movie does eliminate some possibilities for outcomes in the final book (which will hit stores midnight Friday.) Up until now, I have managed to avoid the Harry Potter fever over the 7th book's release that has infected a lot of my friends, but after seeing the 5th movie, I admit, I'm starting to feel that anxious itch over the coming release.

So anyone else clearing this Saturday's schedule to read the 7th book? What are your theories about how the Potter-world saga will end? (Please mark comment *spoiler* if you discuss theories on the final book to protect those reading who might not have picked up the series. Thank you.)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Cutting the flab

I'm now halfway through my new revision of DH. This rewrite is taking longer than I had hoped, but I knew starting out it would be a huge undertaking. I really like the changes I've made so far, the manuscript reads much tighter now, which is funny because the word count keeps climbing despite the fact I cut several scenes, but last night I made the first cut that actually hurt.

I had a small scene, only about 800 words involving a walk-on character, but she packed a lot of punch. I liked her, she had a lot of attitude in three lines of dialogue, but I wrote a scene a chapter before her appearance that accomplished the same thing plot-wise, only it did it better. So, like her or not, I had to cut her scene from the book. She now lives in my scrap folder, waiting (probably not very patiently) to appear in some other book.

What do you do with cut material? Do you save it, waiting for the right place to use it? Or perhaps write a story knowing you want to use a particular scrapped character/phrase/scene? Or do you chuck it forever--if it didn't work now, it wouldn't work later?

Sunday, July 08, 2007

National Blues

The RWA loops are flooded with topics about the national conference, which I'm not going to, and it's sort of depressing. I think I'm going to open a savings account called "conference cash" and start saving for next year now.

I was looking at the program the other day, and I was amazed by how almost every waking hour is filled with so many classes I'd have trouble deciding where to go if I attended. My con experience is limited to the "book festival" in my home town that is much more about local authors promoting themselves than workshops for improving craft (as in maybe two workshops in three days.) So, ignorant newbie that I am, when I was figuring out how much a conference would cost, I balked at the figure, assuming it couldn't possibly be worth the entrance fee, let alone travel and hotel. I still wanted to go, but I was sort of skeptical. In the last few months, I've learned a lot about what I'll be missing. Of course, the timing and the funds didn't line up this year. But next year, somehow, I will make it.

What are some of the conferences you have been too? Good experiences, bad experiences?

Friday, July 06, 2007

Catastrophe in a Power Suit

I started a new job in a big office this week. Thirty minutes into my first day, the police responded to a 911 hung-up and showed up to make sure everything was all right. Every phone in the office has a unique number, and when they looked up which phone the call came from, they found it originated at, you guessed it, MY phone. Luckily I had been with my boss since arriving, and she knew I hadn't touched the phone, but I still had people picking at me all day asking if the job was so stressful I had to call the cops to rescue me thirty minutes in.

About an hour after the cop fiasco, someone stopped by my desk to introduce herself. I stood to shake her hand, and apparently my chair rolled away. Not realizing this fact, I sat back down, caught only the edge of the chair, which sent it sliding across the floor and dumped me on my butt. Oh, and of course, I was wearing a skirt suite set.

*sigh* This officially goes down as the most embarrassing day of my life. What a way to break the ice at a new job, huh?

So what embarrassing things have you done in front of coworkers or other people you would like to impress?