Monday, September 18, 2017

The Pages

Since the beginning of September, something has been happening.

It's happened before, since my mom passed, but then it stops. I'm hoping this time that it will keep happening.

I'm reading again. I mean reading again. I mean since September began I have read 5 new books and listened to a new on on audio. The really amazing thing I have to say about these books is that two of them are what I call five-star (Thanks goodreads) books. Two. When I have gone almost two years without any book that was that superlative.

And all of them, even the four and one three star books have been good books. Books that played in my head when I had to put them down. So without further ado... here are the books and small reviews.

Forbidden by Beverly Jenkins

I read one book by Beverly Jenkins before, and it was good but not great. Forbidden was amazing. Forbidden was so amazing I went to Barnes and Noble and bought two more of her books and put others on reserve in the library.

Forbidden is a historical novel set in the old west. The hero and heroine are people of color. Well the heroine is. And the hero is, but he is passing. There is so much I enjoy about this book it is difficult to know where to start. Scorching chemistry- Check. Characters I care about- check. A historical setting so real that I look at an electric light and I hardly know what to do with it. What I loved especially is that the heroine is courted by two men (one being the hero) but the other one was lovely and kind.

If you like historical romance novels and you think that there isn't anything really creative out there, pick up this book and find your cynical little heart growing three sizes.

Ready Player One by Earnest Cline

This has been on my bookshelf for about two years. I have been told by so many people who I trust that I should read this book. I started it and put it down. It wasn't the right time. Then I picked it up and had a hard time putting it down. I jumped into the reality and loved it. To all my friend who told me I would love it were right right right.

I can't talk too much about it without giving it away. Just saying that if you like Eighties cinema. If you like video games. If you like a fantastic adventure read this amazing book.

Come Home by Lisa Scottoline

I was privileged enough to attend Writers Digest Conference 2017 where  Lisa Scottoline's magnificent key note speech inspired me to pick up one of her books. I hadn't done so in a while. I won't wait so long to read another one.

Come Home showcases love. Love that doesn't adhere to definitive roles. The main character's stepdaughter comes to her and tells her that her ex-husband is dead. Moreover she believes that her ex-husband has been murdered. When is it okay to mourn someone who hurt you? When a second marriage breaks up, what about the kids for whom you were their step mother?  Love doesn't fall into neat little categories and neither does my emotions for this book. This is an excellent read.

Hold Me by Courtney Milan

If you like romance, get this book. If you like New Adult fiction, get this book. If you like characters that you can empathize with, love, and want to swat, get this book. The last time I had such a reading frenzy, I read Trade Me by Courtney Milan, the first in the series. Now Hold Me does what I didn't think it could do--I liked it better.

Hold Me is Shop Around The Corner updated to the geeky halls of university, texting, and blogging. The characters are amazing. The dialogue makes me laugh, and the sex scenes are so wonderful they require the AC on full blast. Now I've got to read her historical romances.

I also read another book but as I am only reviewing the ones that I think others should read now--I'll come back to that another time. It engaged me enough to finish it but I didn't like it enough to recommend.

So, to sum up.

Five star books

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Hold Me by Courtney Milan.

The others are four stars and highly recommended.

Monday, September 11, 2017

I can't forget this day-Microblog Monday

Billy Joel may have said it best.

"And it's hard to believe after all these years, it still gives you pain and it still brings tears."

I can't forget how beautiful the day was.

I can't forget the frantic calls. "Did you go into the city today?" "Pick up the phone, damn it, "

I can't forget my friend who was in lower Manhattan. She and her husband (then he was her fiancé) live with this day as a day of dust and blood and a miracle of finding each other.

I can't forget my mentor's partner. She kissed her partner goodbye to get on a plane. That plane would be flown into Tower one.

I can't forget how the country came together.
I can't forget how the people who didn't vote for George W. Bush and the people who did all came behind him to hope that he would do good.

And now we hate each other.
We do.
We hate each other with the same virulence that the people who rammed the planes into the towers hated us.

How they must laugh.
They got what they wanted.

They laugh at you.

Whenever you look at someone and think of that person as someone other. Be it LGBTQ, black, asian, hispanic, Trump voter, libertarian, conservative, liberal democrat republican.  If you look at a fellow American and think how they are not like you and not to be trusted you are making the terrorists laugh.  They rub their hands together in glee because we gave them exactly what they wanted.

We divided America.
They didn't.

You think "oh that's other people, I love and respect always." Really? Maybe so. Maybe you're that much better than I am.
I have problems thinking of some as fellow humans.

And I'm trying to stop.

Let this be the day that we reach our hands across the chasm. Maybe we'll shake hands like Sirus Black and Severus Snape, but we can shake each other's hand because we are all Americans. We can be better. We've got to try.

Here is my hand. Outstretched. How can I help you?

Monday, September 4, 2017

Microblog Monday - They go there

Lotus is sick.
I am sick.
D is not feeling well.

So we tried to get Lotus to bed without her usual routine. We wanted to go to sleep. We put her in her bed in our room and tried to sleep. Lotus started to cry that she couldn't sleep. She hadn't laid her head on the pillow for more than three minutes. She started to whine that she needed help and I brought her into our bed to cuddle. I rocked her and she kept saying how she needed help. She wanted hugs and I was short with her because I felt lousy.

I held her, checked for fever and she had none. I sang to her and she told me to stop. She hugged me tight.

And I remembered.
I remembered going to the orphanage where she spent the first 54 weeks of her life.
I remembered seeing the room full of cribs. We were pointed to the one she had slept in. Then we saw two cribs on the outside of the room. When we asked about the two cribs, our translator said that it was for the children for when they were "naughty or sick."

The immediate effect of this was that from that moment to now, Lotus has never slept in a room alone. We've been subtlety trying to move her. First she was in our bed. Then in her crib in our room. Then in her toddler bed in our room. Its slow going but it's worth the trip to make her feel confident.

As she was in my arms, I thought of my little Lotus as a baby. When she was sick she was taken away from all the other children and brought to be alone. I understand this--I do. If you are looking after a bunch of babies and one is sick you need to separate her or you have a roomful of sick babies. But it gave her lizard brain a lesson. If I'm sick I'm going to be separated from everyone else. Once she cuddled on me, I told her over and over that I loved her. I told her over and over that she was safe and no way would we leave her.

Now I'm kicking myself for not realizing what scared her. I hate the fact that she has that part of her brain that believes that we will leave her when she is sick. D, an adoptee, reminded me that they go there. A part of her will always go there. It's up to me to show her that we will love her with everything that we are for as long as we live.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

To honor Doctor Martin Luther King--I still have a dream

A few days ago was the anniversary of the I Have A Dream speech.

I've been doing research about Dr. King. I think that the thing that strikes me so much is his optimism. I have a dream--when things were not changing fast enough for anyone.

I am often despondent about what is happening in my country. This country that elected a good man for president. A good, kind, imperfect man who served our country loyally for eight years is now being followed by the worst president in our nation's history.

And still I don't want to despair.

I went online and I listened to the speech,

And I... I still have a dream.

I have a dream that the people that we elect to our congress and senate will somehow open their hearts and learn that they must represent those who elected them, instead of a party.

I have a dream that the police of this nation will stop being so deathly afraid of people who are black that they reach for deadly force as the last thing, instead of the first thing.

I have a dream today

I have a dream that the people who voted for Trump and the people who voted for Hillary and the people who didn't vote at all will join hands and work so that this country can fulfill its promise.

I have a dream that if (all the Gods forbid) a woman is raped, the only reason someone will ask what she is wearing is to return a lost piece of jewelry.

I have a dream that everyone will be free to hold hands and hug, and kiss, and marry whoever it is that they love without anyone raising an eyebrow or a fist.

I have a dream that it becomes equally dificult for someone to get a gun license as it is to get a license to drive a car.

I have a dream that health care in this great country is seen as a right that needs to be afforded to all and not a privileged afforded to the wealthy few. This includes mental health care and dental care.

And as ever, as Martin said, I have a dream that my daughter will one day live in a nation where she will not be judged by the color of her skin but by the content of her character.

I share his dream. I still believe his dream. I add my own dream to his.

What do you dream?

Monday, August 28, 2017

Microblog Monday - Hurricane Harvey

I had a really good blog post planned for today.

And then I saw the pictures out of Houston.

I remember the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy. I remember sitting up in the night listening as the wind blew around the house and how scared I was.

I remember that the Texas congresspeople voted no on helping after the devastation.

I do not do that.

I have sent emails to my congresspeople that whatever Texas needs to recover from Hurricane Harvey they should get.

For those who want to donate money--please consider local food banks.

For those who can't afford to donate money--please consider donating blood as one of the blood banks are totally underwater.

For those who can donate goods-- please consider the Salvation Army and keep looking online as to the needs.

I hope we can all remember that we are better than the political environment has made us out to be.

And come back on Wednesday or something--then I'll have a good blog post.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

We are, none of us, saints

By now, you might have read the brilliant essay written by Joss Whedon's ex wife. It details the reasons for the end of their marriage. It shows that Joss Whedon, one of my favorite creators, was a serial cheater.

Do I look up to him less? Yes.
Am I disappointed in him? Yes.

Am I about to start trashing him and throw out all my Buffy, Angel, Dollhouse, Firefly, Avengers and any future work? No.

People, it is time we let other people be human. People, it is time to stop shooting people down and then saying "we always knew they'd fall." (HT to Tim Rice for the quote.)

Until and unless something comes out about how he coerced these women into having sex with him, I'm still going to call myself a fan. And for the love of whatever please stop saying that because he was their boss and the power was with him that already implies coersion . There are women who will sleep with powerful men to get ahead. There are women who won't. The choice belongs to those women and the men. Was it his responsibility to not cheat on his wife? Of course. But cheating on his wife, repeatedly, makes him a horn-dog. It does not diminish the quality of his work. This is not Bill Cosby, who drugged these women and raped them. This man--and these women--made choices to not honor his marriage vows.

I'm not saying he's perfect. Firefly took lots of pieces of Chinese culture without having a single main character of Asian descent. I was disappointed in Joss because he could have made damn sure he had some Asian actors and didn't. I'm disappointed in him now, to be honest, but I don't think he's going to be upset because of my disappointment.

People we have to stop expecting perfection from every public figure. I'm writing this on a apple laptop. Steve Jobs was a horrible human being. I don't see people throwing away their iPhones.

Are you Jewish? Are you married? Did you play Wagner's Wedding March aka 'Here Comes The Bride' at your wedding? Wagner was a famous anti-semite and did more than just about any other person in that century to foment the hatred of Jews that led to the Holocaust.

There are egregious cases. I threw out all my Marion Zimmer Bradley books--with one exception--when I heard of how she sexually abused her daughter and others. This included a book I stood on a long line so I could get her autograph. I still might throw out my copy of The Mists of Avalon, but I haven't been able to bring myself to do it yet.

I stopped watching and listening and quoting Bill Cosby. I can't tell you how horrified and sad I was when the news of his behavior came out.

But this news about Joss Whedon? No.
Your thoughts may be different.
But until someone writes a character who is as amazing as Buffy Summers, Malcolm Reynolds, or Doctor Horrible, I'm still going to be on the line whenever his next thing comes out.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Watching the f**king basket - Microblog Monday

So this weekend I went to the Writers Digest Convention.

It was really amazing. I met amazing people. (If you're reading this because I gave you my card--HI!!!) I participated in the pitch slam.

A pitch slam is when you go to a room with a bunch of agents. The agents listen to you pitch. They say yes or no and you go to the other. It's not easy for either the writer or the agent. Also if an agent says yes, they might ask for a query, a partial, a full or a full exclusive.

I have read how you are not supposed to do exclusivity. I understand it. However when an agent I pitched said she would like to look at it exclusively for a limited time--I said yes. I did that for the same reason that my friends applied for early decision in college. They had done their due diligence and they had applied for the college they wanted.

Now keeping the college metaphor going some of my friends did not get in their first choice. The agent might not like my work. Then she will tell me so and I will send the partial manuscripts to the other agents (and there were 4!) who were interested in my manuscript.

She wanted it today. It went off today. And now a new waiting game begins.

I'm scared.

This MS has been laboring inside me for longer than I care to admit. It is good. I know it is good. But I'm scared because rejection hurts.

I'm nervous about exclusivity. I'm nervous.

What I am doing is putting this egg in that basket--and watching the fucking basket.