Popcorn for Lunch

I had popcorn for lunch. Because I’m an adult.

I watched Julie & Julia. Again.

Hours later, I’m still here on the couch, watching football and finding kernels stuck to my shirt. And wondering why it’s been almost 2 years since I touched this blog.

And wondering if I’ll ever really get back to it.

And wondering why I’m still not writing even though I’m reading voraciously and dreaming about all the things I should be writing.

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Things I should be writing. Because the whole goal was to get my life back on track so I could make the time to write. So, now that I’m back on track, how do I make the time?

This is where I’m supposed to teach myself about work-life balance and learn that there is always time when you are truly passionate about something.

And I am. So I will.

My Very First Giveaway!

I met Lara Zielin on Twitter some time ago and found out quickly how easy it is to like her. She is always sweeter than the donuts she loves and giggly as a teenage girl. This is obviously a winning combination for a Young Adult author. However, I wondered, should I pick up her book? At the time, I was struggling with whether or not I should be reading YA novels since I am, sadly, no longer a young adult. After blogging about rereading A Wrinkle In Time, I realized it would be more ridiculous to NOT read her book.

So, I read it. AND, I loved it. And because Lara is so superfabulous, she offered to give away a copy of Donut Days to a commenter on my blog! *happy dance*

Now don’t go hopping straight down to comment! At least read what it’s about first…geez…you guys are so impatient.

Emma is an aspiring journalist hoping to win a scholarship from a local newspaper so she can attend a non-Christian university, which is against her parents’ wishes. The neighborhood debut of Crispy Dream, a popular donut shop chain, is the topic of her story, along with the people camping out for days in anticipation of its opening. However, the events that have been occurring in her parents’ church threaten to distract her away from everything she’s working for. While she’s spending time at the camp, her mother’s minister status is being questioned because of a supposed prophecy made by a member of the church. On top of it all, Emma’s best friend has turned on her and is now hanging out with the daughter of the man who made the prophecy that started it all.

Lara has created a novel that is easy to love. The major events are not your typical teenage problems, but they are framed by the common issues of friend betrayal, growing up and falling in love. The combination makes for a relatable, page turning story. The characters are well developed; it’s not hard to endear to Emma and her family within the first few pages. And with Emma narrating, you are placed in her shoes, feeling her frustration of what has happened. This is not an action packed book, but Lara keeps from lingering in one spot too long, which avoids any lulls in the story line. And when it comes to Emma’s love interest, it’s simple and promising. I loved every inch of this book. Every word and every page had my full attention. I’m sure you will, too.

Ok, NOW you can go comment! Leave me a comment and I will use a random number generator to pick the winner of the book on Friday, May 21.   

I’m Reading A Book.

I’m reading a book.

Yes…I know.

How cerebral of me.

In the past year of self discovery, one of the changes I made was to read more often. In the second half of last year, I read twelve books, or so. When the new year began, I saw @JackiYo post a hashtag on Twitter that sparked my interest. I asked her what #26in2011 is and she explained it as an initiative to read 26 books during the year 2011. The tag was started by @davefleet last year when he used #26in2010. However, it was actually inspired by @julien‘s idea for a book-a-week.

What a great way for me to keep up with my reading, I thought. You see, I’m what I like to think of as a “passive-aggressive competitor”. I am competitive, but only when it’s not really an official competition. I have always felt that people are much more likely to succeed when the pressure of winning isn’t hanging over their heads. For me, it tends to be a contest with myself to excel. Then if I perform better than others, it’s an added bonus. And when I surpass everyone…well, sometimes it gets ugly.

But, I digress…

I’m currently on book #4, A Wrinkle In Time. Since joining Twitter, I have somehow connected with a large number of Young Adult (YA) readers and writers. Before Twitter, it hadn’t occurred to me to pick up a YA novel as reading material. I’m 33. I’m not a “young adult” no matter how whimsically I wish for it to be true. After seeing so many others that read YA material, I was soon reminiscing about all the books I devoured as a child. A Wrinkle In Time is in my top five favorites. So, I put down my uncertainty and picked up a book I loved to find out how it would affect me today.

Even though I had read this book so many times in my youth, its pages washed over me with a newness like the first time I read it. I remember how dearly I identified with Meg. Her awkwardness. Her insecurity. Her ability to keep everyone at arms length, yet the need to pull them all so close. The intangible connection with her brother shows her protective nature. Then an unexpected love interest gave away her vulnerable side. I remember the wide-eyed awe with which I absorbed the crosshatching of science and fantasy in the story. It was everything my tender soul needed at that age. And now, it’s able to unearth all those memories that  I hadn’t realized had been buried so deep.

Because of this book, my choice of reading material has now broadened extensively. While I love to be right, having my opinions proven wrong through my own experiences never ceases to renew my spirit. As I continue to read this year, I can now include an entire genre I had thought I had left behind me. So, thank you to all of the YA readers and writers that have opened my eyes. I thank you. My creativity and imagination thanks you.

And the 10 year old Christine Marie thanks you, too.

I Got New Ears for Christmas

I hope everyone’s holidays were as good as mine this year.  With each passing year, I feel like I have learned to appreciate everything and everyone a little bit more.  There’s been a lot of warm and fuzzy going on.

Aside from the great gifts from my loved ones, one gift I realized I was given was a set of new ears.  Apparently, the old ones were dull and worn through, so the new ones have been hooked up and are receiving in digital surround sound.

When I talk to anyone face to face, movies, shows, commercials, radio programs and any words I hear are affecting me in new ways. Velvety tones wrapping my ears in warmth.  The pitter patter of witty banter on a comedy dance around my head.  Long, winding, heartfelt conversations pour their emotions into the innermost canals. 

I find myself being affected by all the different ways words can shape and shift.  I am listening much more intently than I ever have before.  The way people use words to evoke certain feelings.  For some reason, I feel like I only paid attention when I was listening to music or reading a book.  But, this month, I finally started to think about the spoken word as I heard it.  Processing it like a translator to help me enjoy it more. 

Between communicating with other writers, reading more and my own writing, my eyes AND ears have been opened so wide.  It has even contributed to me growing appreciation of all things around me.  It makes me wonder if I have been walking around with blinders on.  How have I not seen and heard the way I am doing right now?  And does this mean that it’s only going to get better from here? 

Sounds to me like the best Christmas present ever.

I Find More of the Dork In Me

So, I spent some time designing a new blog.  That is part of the reason I hadn’t written in a bit.  The other reason is I took a break to take some time to figure out some direction in my writing.  They say write what you know, so what do I know?   

I received some advice from a friend and started to work on getting my thoughts in order.  I have a lot of great ideas for articles, so while I’m getting them on paper, I’m also trying to find the right forum for publication.  I’m currently on the hunt.  

Here’s what I have realized.  I love to research.  This very well could be the dorkiest thing about me.  Even worse than my near OCD organization skills.  I love to use books, magazines and mostly Google to find the information I need.  There is no stopping at one source, especially not the first source.  I read every word, click every link.  Over the years, I’ve developed an “I don’t even believe it if I see it” attitude towards information.  There’s just too much out there. 

I actually hunger for the best sources, digging them out like filling in a donut.  Making sure I get every last drop of knowledge.  There’s a certain sense of accomplishment when I’m done.  I can look at my notes and say “Yes, THIS is good.”  Then taking what I have learned and piecing it together to create one cohesive item.  I take pride in providing accurate information.  It seems it’s something that is becoming more and more rare.  There may be a time where there is too much information, but one thing that will never go out of style, is correct information.  I hope I’m there to be dishing out some of the best.  

I guess I have always known this about myself, but this is the first time I’m really enjoying what I’m researching.  It’s amazing what you can discover about yourself when you love what you are doing.