Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

So long, 2011! You may not have been a knockout, but you weren't a bad year--certainly not after 2010, ugh. This was the year we unloaded our condo and went back to renting (hooray) with a move to crazy Venice, so the overall atmosphere of this year has been of thankfulness and relief.

I'm a pretty big fan of New Year's resolutions as a way to set my focus for the coming year, but this year I'm only making two. I'm not making any for my writing--I'm in a pretty good place there, and I've got some fun new projects to work on. Wasting time on the Internet (another previous resolution) won't be one either, since I'm getting better at turning away from all the enticing distractions offered by the world wide web. No, this year my only resolutions are:

1 - Cliché as it is, I have to start getting some exercise. I used to be a regular gym goer, but in the past year I have pretty much abandoned any attempt to stay active. And I feel it, both in the way my jeans fit but more importantly, in my energy level. I'm sure I'm not the only one here who's scheduled exercise only to skip it because I could be getting more writing/revising done! Writing in my free time is important, but good grief, I can't let it be the only thing I do in my free time.

2 - And further to the previous resolution: Be a social animal. Because I got so obsessed with writing this year, I turned into even more of a hermit than I usually am. This has made me an incredibly boring person who has to be nagged to go out and meet people, and usually does so looking like a schlub. I don't like to look like a schlub. I am a fan of good grooming. Not only does going out and being a social animal make me feel better about myself, but I found that when I do get out of the house, being out (and I'm talking about out in the city, not sitting at a friend's apartment drinking wine) and watching and interacting with people is actually a great way to get those creative gears turning.

So that's it. There are other things I should do--eat leaner, read more books--but these are the two things that have been really nagging at me. Good luck with your resolutions, if you're making them, and I wish you all an outstanding 2012!

p.s. My apologies for bailing on the YA Superlative blogfest--between the houseguests, the exhaustion, and having read so few 2011 books, I couldn't get it together. I've been reading the other blogfest posts though, and have queued a bunch of new books to read next year!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Superlative Blogfest: Head of the Class, 2011

So when I started getting ready to compose my first entry for the YA Superlative Blogfest, I went to my Goodreads account to see how many 2011 YA books I read this year, and the answer was eight. What can I say, I've been catching up on a lot of older titles! To avoid having to put The Death Cure as my favorite comedy title of 2011, I will have to leave some categories off. Please feel free to leave me your favorite suggestions so I can add them to my TBR queue!

Favorite Dystopian: Divergent - Who didn't love this one? I'm sooo curious to see where she takes the story in the next book.
Favorite Science Fiction: Across the Universe - Spaceship stranded in the middle of the cosmos YES.
Favorite Fantasy: Daughter of Smoke & Bone - Is this fantasy? Paranormal? I'm not sure. I don't read a ton of high fantasy.
Favorite Action/Adventure: The Death Cure -  While I didn't love the way this trilogy played out, it was gripping enough to keep me coming back.
Favorite Mystery: Legend -  Er, I'm not sure if this book counts for this category, but don't most books have an element of mystery? I really liked it, so I'm going to say yes.
Favorite RomanceDaughter of Smoke & Bone - Slayed me. Loved it.

So as you can see, I need to beef up on my 2011 reading, especially in the areas of contemporary, historical, comedy, paranormal... If you've got a 2011 book you think absolutely must be read, please recommend it in the comments!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Hanging Onto Our Hats

Hello, blogosphere! I hope you've all had a wonderful holiday break so far. Here at our Venice stronghold, we're in full visitor mode. This has included:
  • seven Midwestern relatives, including three little boys
  • my brother looking so incredibly wiped already on the first day that my husband whispered to me, "Is it (child-rearing) really that hard?" 
  • my cat getting so ticked at the invasion that he went on a peeing rampage, hitting my laundry, a sofa, and my sister-in-law's jacket
  • one wild-eyed trip to Disneyland
  • one exhausted toddler in a post-Disney fugue countering the cat with his own peeing rampage
  • LOTS of cookies
  • two pies
  • LOTS of dishes
  • daily beach visits
  • one multi-dolphin sighting
  • and lots of good conversation
My guests are heading back to the winterland tomorrow, so things will slowly go back to normal. I'm looking forward to the return of my critique partner Liz, who's been holidaying in the rain-soaked plains of Great Britain, and to meeting with critique groups and getting back into a creative gear. I'm also starting to think about my resolutions for 2012--which bad habits I've settled into, and what sort of goals I want to work toward.

I'll be back tomorrow for the first day of the YA Superlatives Blogfest, although I won't be able to get my post up until later in the day. I'm looking forward to some good recommendations for an upcoming reading binge!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Little Christmas Music, Yooper-Style

Christmas is ten days away. What? That's right. Is everyone else scrambling to finish up their work for the year too?

To bring a little holiday cheer, I present you with this video of 'Rusty Chevrolet,' by Da Yoopers. I also have a question for you. Where I grew up, everyone knew this song, and so when I tiptoed over the bridge out into the rest of the world, I assumed that this was a popular Christmas parody, and that everyone else would know it too. So my question is, was this actually something that you all have heard before, or did I grow up in a Yooper bubble?

It's a goofy video, but I love it because everything in it reminds me of my childhood. The song doesn't actually start until about 1:08, so if you're going to watch it, you may want to skip ahead unless you want to watch a minute of some crusty dude digging his car out of the snow.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Winding Down

The end of the year is approaching, folks. It's funny to think of December as a time of winding down, since it's probably the busiest month in the year--maybe I should've titled this post, Racing For The Finish. The music that's going through my head these days is somewhat like the finale of the William Tell Overture (which I'm embarrassed to say I had to do a Google search for [da da dum da da dum da da dum dum dum song name classical chase music] to refresh my memory as to the name...)

Anyhow...everybody getting geared up for the holidays? This is our first year in a house rather than an apartment, and I went a little nutso on the decorating. We put up a full-sized tree last weekend, though it's fake, because my Turkish husband was a little horrified at the idea of cutting down a tree every year just for decoration. We've got work holiday parties the next two Saturdays in a row, and we will probably do a little festivizing around our house as well, in the form of raclette, fondue, Lebkuchen, and Feuerzangenbowle (an American and a Turk, but we like to celebrate our Christmas German-style). And did I mention what we're doing for Christmas? My entire family--parents, brother, sister-in-law, and three energetic little nephews--are all coming to stay with us for a week. Excitement!

Since I haven't blogged in a while, I wanted to say congrats to everyone who participated in NaNoWriMo! Even if you didn't hit the 50k mark, you pushed yourself to think about your WIP for a month and probably got more on the page than you would have otherwise. If you're interested in winning a signed ARC of Marie Lu's Legend, head on over to Liz Briggs's blog. It's a really solid book and I enjoyed reading it, so sign up! Also, Jessica Love and a few other writers are hosting a fun blogfest later this month: the Class of 2011: YA Superlatives Blogfest. I signed up--you should too!

p.s. Need an energy boost? Do yourself a favor and listen--really listen--to the whole thing: