Monday, July 30, 2012

Mouse Ears and Cheerleaders

So, last week I was in Anaheim for the Olympics!  Or possibly for RWA Nationals.  I arrived Monday and examined the pool.  The pool was described to me by a lovely hotel employee as indoor/outdoor.  Um, I would like to quibble with that.  There was a top over half, but since this top had no walls or doors it basically meant that half was shady.  Don't get me wrong, the shade was nice.  (And yes, I do realize I am complaining about a pool.)  The pool was designed for people of smaller stature.  It was four feet deep in the center, but the edges (which comprised two thirds of the pool) were shallower creating that experience of bumping one's knees into the bottom.  But the hot tub and I became great friends. 
One child was very concerned that I had brought my ereader into the hot tub, but I had my drypak, so it was all good. 
I went to Roy's Hawaiian for dinner, because, yum and because as multicultural as the food is in DC, we lack Hawaiian.  The lovely waitress talked me into the pineapple upside down cake with coconut ice cream, and oh it was so good.
I did a little exploring of the area the next day, and some more reading, both in and out of the pool area.  I also did some knitting.  It was a hard day. 
The hotel was located within spitting distance of the convention center where there was a cheerleading competition, so there were some, um, peppy folks headed that way. 
I headed to downtown Disney that evening for dinner because I may have heard that there was a menu designed by a certain "Chopped" judge.  The hotel person kindly warned me that the bus back stopped at midnight.  I told her I was still jet-lagged so was aiming for staying up until ten. 
Wednesday was when the lobby and the Starbucks in the lobby really started to switch over from what appeared to primarily be Disney visitors to book folks.  Ran into a chapter mate in the Starbucks.  Folks toting RWA bags started popping up everywhere.  The YARWA chapter had their big day of workshops which was excellent even if the raffle was obviously rigged. The Literacy Signing was in the convention center, which worked out great because it meant that there was tons of space.  (The seating order was strange, but that's another story.)
I fangirled at a lot of people.  I told Jennifer Echols she had made me cry on the plane (Such a Rush) and she wanted to know which part. (Yeah, I thought I was so clever reading about a pilot while on a plane.)
The cherries gathered up for dinner at Cheesecake which was fabulous (even if they were out of my favorite kind). 
Thursday I went to workshops galore.  And Thursday is also the point where the days blur.  There were conversations in the line at Starbucks, in the hallway, in the lobby, outside of workshops.  I saw people I knew everywhere.  I stalked some people successfully enough that they now remember they are supposed to know me.  There were books.  Oh, yeah, Friday I helped lay out the books for lunch, I remember that part, as does my back.  I asked people what they were reading.  One woman in the lobby was reading Meg Cabot's Abandon, which had been in our bags.  She had started reading it to see if she could give it to her daughter and, um, couldn't stop. (I read it on the plane back - fun read.) 
Had dinner with a fellow YA writer.  Talked in the bar for hours with folks.  The luncheon speakers - Robyn Carr and Stephanie Laurens were both excellent.  And the award recipients at lunch gave lovely speeches. 
There were more books, more book signings, more people.  Had great conversations about knitting and books and one time, books about knitting.  Got to hang out at the St. Martin's party and then some more in the lobby, and then the bar.  (And the rumors about the bar closing early did not seem true, but perhaps I was still jet lagged.) 
I did cast on for my Ravellenic Games project Friday afternoon, only to realize Saturday morning that I had read the color chart backwards and have to restart.
Saturday was the awards day and well, there were sparkles and sequins and glitter and bling.  I had met quite a few Golden Heart finalists on this trip, in addition to the ones from my chapter.  And well, it did seem that knowing me was not much help to winning. Lorenda Christensen set the bar high as the first winner by doing a "Fresh Prince of Bel Air" inspired rap.  One winner confessed she almost hadn't made it because her son was in the hospital.  There were lots of thanks to spouses and friends and kids for putting up with living with a writer.  As we moved into the Rita's there were the first two wins for digital first presses.  And the first win for the Harlequin Presents line.  Barbara O'Neal made it into the RWA Hall of Fame with her win.  And Brenda Jackson received her well-deserved Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement award. 
That was the night that I actually noticed what time they closed the patio and when last call was.  (It was probably bedtime, although not everyone seemed to agree.)  Lots of goodbyes.  Every year there are more people I wish I could have spent more time with, which really is the best problem too have. 
I got out early for my shuttle the next morning to discover there were quite a few people waiting for shuttles with times early than my scheduled time.  One of the hotel staffers spotted the cloud of frustration and came out and called the shuttle with one of the earlier folks confirmation numbers. (She had already called and been told five minutes, fifteen minutes before.)  A shuttle did arrive, but it was apparently my shuttle (and seven others standing there).  She did make one substitution for someone who had bailed and taken a cab.  (The shuttle was about five minutes late for the window they had given us.  Nothing terrible, but enough to make folks nervous). The woman who hopped on was the one whose son was in the hospital.  She felt bad since there were folks out there who'd been waiting longer.  I told her really, in the grand scheme of things taking the airport shuttle was not a big life debt and everyone knew she wanted to get home to her son.  (She got an automated call about her shuttle later.)  Hilariously, after folks were worrying because if security or traffic was bad the cushion built in to the pick up time was disappearing, the van pulled in to the gas station to gas up.  Everyone was polite, since we all realized running out of gas on the highway helped no one, but it was not keeping folks calm.
We did make it to the airport.  Security wasn't bad, but basically I got to the gate and they had started boarding, so while I was not actually in danger of missing my flight, it was closer than I would have imagined given the shuttle pick up was scheduled for 2.5 hours before my flight.
There was food, sun, books, knitting time, pool time, and writer friend bonding.  It was a great thing and next year is Atlanta!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Things People Say

So, the tricky thing about writing is that in real life, people say things that are wrong. In fiction people can do this to, but then the reader needs context so they can determine is this character an idiot, or misinformed, or is this an author problem. Perfect example, my roommate from Florida spent a lot of time trying to explain extreme humidity to me, because she was sure I had not experienced that. (That summer she learned.)
So, if I read a book set in the south where a born and raised Southerner explains that their summers are hot and long, that makes sense to me. And if said character says that to someone from say Chicago, I buy that too. But if the Chicago character then says something like wow, that sounds hot I start to wonder. Because I've been to Chicago in the summer. It's hot. And I see the temps on the weather map on the news, that wasn't a freak occurrence. So, either the character from Chicago is worried entirely about summer length or, the author didn't research Chicago since the book wasn't set there. Either way, I stopped reading for a moment.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

TBR Challenge 2012: How Did This Get Here (Kind of)

So, despite the fact that, ahem, I have been known to buy the same book twice only to discover it lurking on my shelf (or find it sitting on a digital shelf, although, in my defense, most of my digital duplicates are due to someone telling me the purchase didn't go through, but it really did) - ah, where were we?  Right, so despite all that, I am crazy good at remembering where I got books.  I can usually even tell you if it was a sale purchase or I got it at conference and if it was in the conference bag or I picked it up from a giveaway table.  I took a stroll through both my in person and digital shelves, and I got nothing I can't account for.  Even stuff I no longer feel any particular draw for I remember about where it came from.  Or why. 
So, I'm going to talk about Julie James' Something About You. I remember the buzz about this.  I think I picked it up not long after it was a pick for Save the Contemporary. So, I meant to read it really soon after.  And then one day I tried.  Didn't work.  So due to one of those fascinating and happily unusual sets of circumstances, I was unable to make my copy work and unable to get another*.  So, anyway, I ended up getting a copy from the library and I'm still counting it because I bought this book two years ago even if the actual copy I read belongs to the lovely folks at the DC public library.  And technically we could argue instead of How Did This Get Here, I'm going for a Hey, What Took You So Long.  (Those of you pointing out that's the entire point of the TBR challenge, um, yeah, I see your point.)
Oh right, so the book.  Love.  Just, totally worth all that wait.  Prosecutor Cameron Lynde calls the front desk after the couple in the next room's, erm, antics seem headed for yet another round at three in the morning.  Except hotel security discovers a dead body in the room, and now Cameron's a witness. And the special agent assigned, Jack Pallas is of course the agent whose case she had to toss a few years back resulting in him telling the TV cameras that she's an idiot.  So, they are thrilled to be working together again. 
In many ways it sounds like lots of other books, and in some ways it is.  What makes it great is just smart characters.  They don't want to work together but they are professionals, so they suck it up and do.  They don't keep stupid secrets from each other.  There isn't a stupid fight where he storms off leaving her unprotected just in time for the killer to show up nor does she lie about where she's going and try to just take a break from protective custody.  There was banter, there was bad guy POV that didn't totally make me crazy, there were smart people up against some worthy villains, it was good.  Oh, and yeah, Cameron and Jack might also discover some chemistry together. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Presented With Caveat

So, we've all been there.  You are sitting on the coffee shop, the metro, the sidewalk, a cocktail party, and near you a conversation breaks out.  A conversation between two people who are at odds.  About each other.  And, well, if you are me, you are both fascinated and yet sad.  Other people's relationships, and discussions thereof, and my opinions of your relationship (which, are of course tempered by the fact that I am only getting a glimpse of your life in an unflattering moment). And sometimes it gets uncomfortable enough that I want to leave, but also, despite the fact that for whatever reason you are having this discussion in public in earshot of all of the rest of us, makes me want to pretend I cannot hear, even as I listen closely. 
And sometimes you are there with a friend and you can try to subtly catch their eye and suppress giggles/horror/etc.  Or you can recount it later to others.  Or, in this day and age of social media, you can live tweet it to your followers.  (Who might then retweet it to their friends, and so on.)
So, the title of my post is because, I am also a trained sex ed teacher, and I cannot, in good conscience, send you to this link without the following note.  (Spoiler averse may link and come back.  Or, since honestly, I won't be able to tell, you can all do that.  Or not.)  There is a reference to the morning after pill and in this discussion.  I realize that this conversation took place in Britain, but this is not a slang issue, so much as confusion.  I am aware that health care in UK covers things that our health care often does not.  Nonetheless, the pill referred to as the morning after pill, is emergency contraception.  So, if a female has had contact with sperm without some form of contraception (or with insufficient contraception) this acts as essentially a high level dose.  If the female in question is already pregnant, due to either prior contact or the, shall we say, swift moving nature of such things, it will not end the pregnancy.  And since I'm just a random internet person, no matter what I say, I'm going to link to Planned Parenthood's page about it. 
So, now that I've got that off my chest,  that was some fight, huh?

Monday, July 09, 2012

What's in an EBook?

Once upon a time, I tried to order a gift certificate on line.  I was offered the choice of having the certificate mailed to me (or the recipient) for a small shipping an handling fee or having it emailed, for the same small shipping and handling fee.  I was annoyed.  I know a person  is probably involved in overseeing this process, but I was annoyed at being charged the same amount for something printed and mailed as for something emailed. 
I think this is how a lot of people feel about ebooks. They don't get printed, assembled, or shipped.  So, what am I paying for anyway.  Obviously there is still an author and hopefully an editor, there are cover artists, and other people who do things.  So, I found this article that talks a little about the process.  I had also read (in a restricted article that I cannot link to, sadly) that ebook, due to the variety of formats require additional quality checks, since they may render differently on different devices.  So, do I think I should be paying hardback prices for ebook, certainly not.  But, there are still lots of people working to make my reading experience happy. 

Monday, July 02, 2012

In Which I Make Excuses

So, as promised, I took a stab at YALSA's best of the best challenge. And as predicted, I failed.  You know, at least according to their rules (which, yes, were the rules in play here).
My excuses are:
I read lots and lots of books during the time frame, they just weren't all YA or all YA from that list.
I was busy, you know with work and knitting and social stuff.  (Yeah, those other books I read sort of belie this point a bit.) 
I had to (no really, had to) read some books for my book clubs, and none of them were on this list.  (Except the ones from prior meetings which I had already read.) 
I like to genre hop - read a contemp YA then a adult historical then a romantic suspense then a something else. 
I also participated in something called revision hell. 
Did I mention I have a job? 
Oh, and the other thing I hadn't quite realized - some of the books on this list are a trap.  Because, for example I wanted to read Holly Black's Red Glove but first I wanted to read White Cat. (I'm sure they stand alone fine.  But White Cat  was really good so I am happy to have read it.) And so, basically I determined that some of these secretly (or perhaps not secretly since technically I am often the first to tell you that good books read well out of order to) required pre-work.  And sure, you could ask when I read White Cat  or when I got Red Glove and note that, just perhaps, I could have gotten that taken care of but that is not the point.  (I might be saving Red Glove for a reward.  Also not the point.) 
I also read Gayle Forman's If I Stay (which was heart wrenching) in preparation for reading Where She Went, but didn't quite get there yet.
So, here's how many from this list I actually read in the time frame. 
Six.  I know.  I mean, they were all good, so there was that. 
The six were:
Veronica Roth's Divergent (first in the series) - a YA dystopian which I started on my way back from Chicago which was funny since it takes place there.
Moira Young's Blood Red Road (you may begin to see why I needed to break these up) - also YA dystopian, written in present tense with dialect which I usually hate, but just did not put this down.  (Also, first in series.)
Marie Lu's Legend - YA dystopian (although we could probably have a discussion about where on the line some of these fall between dystopian and post-apocalyptic) which had an interesting conflict.  (Also first in series.)
Tara Altebrando's Dreamland Social Club - YA contemporary about a girl who's family has moved to where her mom grew up, Coney Island.
Sarah Dessen's What Happened to Goodbye - YA contemporary about a girl who has landed at her second high school this year. 
Ruta Sepetys' Between Shades of Grey - YA historical about a family sent to a Siberian work camp during World War II.

And not that it counts at all, but I did also read other books by authors on the list - in addition to A. S. King, Malindo Lo, .  Just haven't made it to this lists two.

So, gosh darnit, this means I have to do more reading.