Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Girlie and Geeky

Girlie and Geeky
I wandered into a workshop somewhat randomly one year at RWA (so I have no recollection of who the speakers were) and they were discussing the crossover between sci-fi and romance and how some folks thought it was nuts (in both the romance and sci-fi camps) and now there are quite a few sci-fi series (and stand-alones) with romance in them and lots of romance with sci-fi stuff going on. 
I'm sure we could spend hours talking about the nature of humans to think being one thing means you can't be another, but let's not.  Corrina Lawson has a post up over at Geek Dad about Girl Cooties, and how a sports loving, sci-fi girl ended up writing romance and even erotica. 

Disclosure: Corrina is a fellow Cherry and we have met multiple times.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

7 Things: Not Worried at All

7 Things: Not Worried at All
Because I work in benefits, people asked me if I was worried about the looking more than possible health care legislation.  I was not.  Here's why.
1. Having lived in Scotland and made use of the NHS (I was there long enough to be a resident and to pay the poll tax which got me "free" access to health care), I knew that government run health care was more of a good thing than bad. I know it's flawed, but so is private insurance.
2. Having lived in Scotland I also knew that government run or subsidized health care (which, by the way we already have, we're just expanding it) didn't eliminate private health care.  It did affect pricing (when people have a free choice, they are pickier about what they pay for) and quality. 
3. That so-called donut hole in the Medicare Prescription legislation bugged the crap out of me.  I used to handle the LTD and retiree plans for one client and I talked to many of them.  The cost of their medications was high, and almost everyone I talked to (which certainly wasn't a scientific sample) was going to fall into that donut hole.  As would I on my current medications.
4. Since I work in setting up enrollment systems for companies, as long as companies still provide benefits of any kind - dental, vision, life, LTD, etc - I will probably still have a job.
5. Legislation often affects my job (HIPAA, COBRA, ARRA, etc) but usually by adding complexity. 
6. People still don't understand their benefits.  I could probably just get a job explaining them to people. 
7. Of course, my mom still doesn't listen to me.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ten in 10 Teen Chick Lit Challenge

Ten in 10 Teen Chick Lit Challenge
In February I read Oh. My. Gods. by Tera Lynn Childs, which I confess had been lingering in my tbr pile for no good reason.  It is the story of Phoebe, who's mother announces that she has fallen in love and is getting married to a lovely guy who lives in Greece.  So, Phoebe find that instead of finishing out her senior year in California with her two best friends, she will be heading to Greece to live with her new stepdad and stepsister on a tiny little island.  Oh, and the kids on that island are all descendants of Greek gods and all have powers.  So you can imagine hwo fun it is to be the new girl there.
I loved this book.  I thought it took a lot of things and zigged where you expected it to zag, and it was great fun and now I have to go read the sequel.
I also read How to Salsa in a Sari by Dona Sarkar.  This is the story of Issa Mazumder, a part African-American, part black teen living in Connecticut.  Her mother also announces that she has fallen in love and they will be moving in with her boyfriend and his spoiled daughter.  Interestingly, while the catalyst events of these two books are very similar (and if we're counting, Meg Cabot's Mediator series also starts with a move across the country to live with a new blended family, as do many others) the stories are in many ways very different.  Issa has already been going to school with her soon-to-be step-sister Cat and they already hate each other, and Cat has just stolen Issa's boyfriend, in case there was any doubt about how they feel about other.  I really enjoyed this story and thought it did a great job of showing the relationship juggling that teens have to deal with, particularly when being thrust into a new family dynamic. 

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Read an Ebook Week

Read an Ebook Week
I discovered over at the Clockwork Storybook blog that this week is read an ebook week.  You might be thinking isn't that most weeks for you, and yes, but this is the official week. There are specials - some ebook sellers, some author driven.  (List here.)
So - just a couple of notes. 
You do not have to own an electronic reader.  Ebooks can be read on most everything including PDA's, phones, laptops and desktops. Most places that sell ebooks, offer versions of the software for either your compatible portable device, or your computer. 
The site recommends some other advantages of ebooks, including two of my favorites which is immediacy of receipt (seriously, it makes overnight shipping seem slow) and love it forever or hate it with the fire of a thousand sons, it is easy to store or delete with out having to worry about precious shelf space.  (Ebooks however do not provide the same satisfying thud should you toss it against the wall, so, yes, you do lose that.)

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Three Minutes of Entertainment

Three Minutes of Entertainment
NPR is hosting a Three Minute Fiction contest, and my fellow cherry and critique group member was selected as a favorite entry!
You can read her story, over at NPR here.

Books: A Second Helping

I received the ARC of Beverly Jenkins' A Second Helping through Library Thing. I had read one of Jenkins' historicals so had a sense of her writing.
A Second Helping is the story of Henry Adams, Kansas a town recently purchased on ebay where a number of the residents have agreed to be foster parents. It is the follow up to Bring on the Blessings although there is plenty of information to allow you to just dive in (as I did). One thing that might help reading in order is that there are a lot of characters. Reading the first might get you a good start so that the twenty some point of view characters are a little more familiar to you.
The story follows the many interlocking relationships in the town, with the addition of a new teacher and his son, Bernadine - town owner's ex-husband showing up in town, and some other people returning to town and setting various things in motion.
Once you get used to the cast of characters (for example, the teacher and his son appear in the first scene, but don't show up again for another hundred pages), it's an interesting town to visit. People are all up in everybody's business and yet things always seem to work out well, even for the various kids and teens, who were my favorite characters.

Monday, March 08, 2010

To Buy or Not to

I've ranted before about authors who complain about people who buy used books, pointing out that there are lots of good reasons for readers to buy used books, not the least of which is to test out an author who they then can head over and buy new if they enjoy the process. So, you can just imagine how I feel to discover that an author is pleading with readers to buy her newest book in specific bookstores so that she can get onto the New York Time bestseller list. Now, I get that being on that list is a big deal. It's kinda like an Oscar, in that New York Times Bestselling Author title gets to follow you forever. Publishers like it, readers who scan the list looking for the next thing to read like it. It has meaning.
Does that mean you can't be a successful author if you don't make the list? Of course not. And the list is somewhat shrouded in mystery, it is based on some stores, but not others, may or may not include online sales, but probably doesn't include e-books, and so on. It also has to do with sales that week, much like other lists, so in weeks when people buy less books (what is wrong with people?) it takes less to hit the top. There is not publishing equivalent of a gold record where if you hit X number of sales over time, then you win. And so, I can see how it would be frustrating to look and see that Author X who has sold the same amount of books as you (or so you imagine - because those numbers are often hard to come by) might be on the list and you are not.
And certainly I can understand educating your readers, telling them that sadly some sales "count" more than others, that leaving an Amazon review might be really helpful even if they didn't make their purchase from Amazon.
But (you knew that was coming right?) there's a line. When you suggest to readers that they cancel their pre-orders so they can buy your book where it will help you more, it's a little over it. When you tell readers that their sales don't count because they bought it online or in Canada then you are shooting yourself in the foot. Because when you tell your readers that they bought your book wrong, you know what happens? They don't buy your books. Anywhere.
H/T to Dear Author for the link.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Books: How to Knit a Love Song

First, I must admit that I have met the lovely Yarnagogo, aka Rachael Herron. And back in the day, I read a few chapters of this story when it was entered in the Gather competition. (Actually, I think I read one, loved it, voted for it and then decided this awesome thing was going to get published and I would read the rest then.)
As is often the case with books I adore, I almost don't want to tell you anything - except go read it! I want you to discover the rest as it unnfolds.
But, if you're here, then perhaps you need more.
Fine. Abigail arrives at a ranch in California, after the death of her dear friend, Eliza Carpenter. Eliza, a famous knitter, had turned over care of the ranch to her nephew Cade who is not thrilled to discover that the cottage - that sits squarely in the middle of the ranch, has been left to some woman he's never met. The cottage is stuffed to the brim with what Cade terms junk, and has no working electricity or water, so Abigail has to stay with Cade while it is being fixed up.
Abigail had been having some trouble with an ex, so was happy to move to Cypress Hollow and thrilled that her friend had left her a place to live. Cade learned early on that women just leave, so he has been leaving first for much of his dating life.
So, of course, the two of them under the same roof leads to trouble of all kinds.
It's a sweet romance, and now I need to read the next. (Done yet, Rachael?)
There's lots of talk about knitting, spinning, fiber and knit design. I don't think it will overpower any non-fiber people, in fact, it might intrigue them. It was a lot of fun to read, such that it started to annoy me that people thought I should work instead of finishing. (Silly people.)

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

I Want it Now!

I Want it Now!
Remember when you first pre-ordered a book?  (Note: If you have never pre-ordered, this whole post might go over your head.) And you maybe weren't sure why you were shelling out money in advance for a book, but you really, really wanted that book and you knew maybe that the day it came out you wouldn't quite be able to get to the bookstore, so this way at least someone else was going to get it to you.  And then you arrived home the day the book came out and discovered it on your porch. And you thought, this is so cool I'm going to pre-order everything!  And it was great, but then sometimes it didn't always arrive that day, and even though it usually arrived the next day, it was a little sad.
Well, with e-books, at least with the ipod touch, I discovered a new level of now.  (Yes, I do feel like that everything instant family on the ads.) The first time I logged into the e-reader application after having pre-ordered an ebook, a magical thing happened. The day the book came out, it magically* downloaded itself.
So, since the lovely Yarn-a-go-go aka Rachael Herron has this book out today, and I had pre-ordered it, it occurred to me that probably if I stayed up past midnight, I could just get it then. (This one I ordered in epub format for the Sony Reader which I have to plug in to the computer.) And yep, sure enough, after midnight the book appeared on my digital bookshelf and I was able to download it.
Too bad I have to work today.  Hmm, I might be coming down with something...

*I have the settings set to download everything. And you have to be near a signal for this to work.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Despite what some of the advertisers ...

Despite what some of the advertisers seem to imply, the mothers at the Olympics were not limited to the stands. There were (at least*) three, a skier, a hockey player, and a pregnant curler.  (Who is apparently at least the third pregnant Olympian.)

*I wasn't actually keeping tabs on this, so these are just the ones I recall, based on specific mention in the coverage.

7 Things: Winter Olympics

1. I suspect there are Olympic hormones emitted slowly so that that Dan Jansen ad gets me every time. (I am also fond of the Jamaican Bobsled one, and the one about Julie Mancuso drawing her own posters.)
2. Amazing things happen. Including a young woman skating days after the loss of her mother.
3. A female bobsledder being thrown from the back of the bobsled. (She was fine, although the loss of a team member does not count as a completed run.
4. A female team pursuit speed skater making it across the track yon her stomach. (Interestingly, while not advised, as long as your skate crosses the line, they count that.)
5. It was pointed out that in many of the team sports, the gold and bronze medal winners arrive after a win (although clearly the bronze medal winners lost in the semifinals) while the silver medal winners have to stand there moments after losing their final game.
6. In the frenzy about medals, it sometimes get lost, that there are many more non-medal winners who still honored their country. In some cases, competitors were the only member of their
7. One American bobsledders family discovered both the best and worst of humankind. In searching for a place to stay to watch their guy compete, they fell victim to a scam offer, something they realized only after they had made a hefty deposit. One of the sponsors reimbursed them the lost funds, and an anonymous person offered them the use of her home, free of charge.
Bonus thing: It still tickles me that Macedonia is referred to Olympically as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and therefore marches after France in the Parade of Nations.