Friday, February 24, 2012

Going Crazy

Ok - those who know me well might object to me saying I'm going crazy - they would say I'm already there. Have been for awhile. While that's true, things have been a little crazier than normal lately and I just can't keep up with it all! Not totally losing my mind, but I do need to prioritize better. So, sadly enough, that means I'm going to give up blogging for a few weeks. I'll be back as soon as I can, I promise, I just need to be honest with myself and say that I don't have the energy and time to keep up with posts until some of this craziness dies down. 

Hope I see each and everyone of you soon! Keep writing :)

~ Ruthie ~

Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday's Feature - Down These Strange Streets - Book Review

I discovered about two years ago that I love reading anthologies. I can't really remember how I stumbled on this discovery, I suspect I was browsing the shelves and found something that looked interesting, and I've been hooked every since! I love the fact that you get to read stories by a whole bunch of different authors. It can be a great way to get a taste of what they write, without investing as much time in any one author as if you read the whole book. I know that shouldn't matter too much to me with how much I read, but I'm the type who has a really hard time putting down a book, even one I don't like, once I've invested any time in it!

Every anthology is different. Some showcase only 3 or 4 authors, others are much longer, and most have some sort of theme. "Down These Strange Streets" is based in urban fantasy, but it goes way beyond the normal expectations of that genre. The first section, an essay really, is called "The Bastard Stepchild," by George R.R. Martin. It both introduces the book, and also explores the origins of Urban Fantasy, what it is, where it comes from, and why we love it so much.

As much as Ioved some of the stories in the book, I think the intro essay was my favorite. I like learning about the origins of things, and the more I write, the more I want to understand this world I've being brash enough to enter. It helps, of course, that I'm fascinated with Urban Fantasy. I love fantasy of all kinds, but I can't even begin to tell you how excited I was when I first discovered Urban Fantasy! I don't have any stories in that genre yet, but I aspire too, and these stories left me itching to put my fingers on the keyboard and write!

It would take way too long to mention each of the stories in this book because this anthology is longer than most  - 17 stories plus the introduction! Martin and Dozois drew from a variety of genres for the authors they invited to write this story. The only stipulation they gave them was that the "story involve a private detective and a case with fantastic slant, be it real or... less so." I'm also a huge fan of mystery stories, so this made for an exciting combination!

My favorite story in here (other than the intro) is probably "In Red, With Pearls." It's written by one of my favorite authors, Patricia Briggs, and is set in the world of her most famous character, Mercedes Thompson. Mercy doesn't appear in this book, but I loved that we got to know the werewolf Warren a little bit better, and I would love to see her do another spin off series (she already has one, Alpha and Omega) featuring his work as a detective!

I don't think I can pick a story that comes next in my favorites, I just loved this book!

I'm giving the book 4 out of 5 cups of coffee. I did love the book, but I'll admit there were a couple stories that I wasn't as thrilled with. They were great writing, but they just weren't my style, or what I was hoping to read. There was one story that I had a hard time following, and I think a lot of it was that there were too many characters, and if you didn't already know his work it was easy to get lost. I've ordered the first book in the series that the story was based on because I'm very curious to see if it actually was just the story out of context, or if it's the way the author writes. Either way I was disappointed to see that this particular author couldn't make his world more easily understood by someone who's never read his books, none of the other writers had a problem with that!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Book Review - The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

"Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten." (Inner flap of the book jacket)

This is John Green's fourth book on his own (he has two others that he co-wrote or contributed to), and while I haven't read the others yet, if they are anything like this one I'll eat them up!

In addition to being a writer, John Green is a vlogger with his brother Hank, and he once served as a Hospital Chaplin. This is the book he's being trying to write ever since. The story of teenagers facing death, and how they choose to live their lives.

Facing death is rarely easy, and its some how more tragic when it visits the young. They have had so little life to live after all! Hazel has lived with the specter of death for many years, and wouldn't be alive now if it wasn't for a game changing treatment that granted her some extra time (that the author made up btw). Despite the reprieve she is still stuck attached to an oxygen tank, and struggling to find meaning in what time she has left. She goes to a cancer support group, which tends to be boring and not that helpful, and one day meets Augustus Waters.

Augustus is a charismatic boy who walks with a prosthetic because the cancer took his leg. He's considered in remission, and he goes to the group to support a boy named Isaac who is rapidly losing his eyes to cancer. He reaches out to Hazel, and they begin what will be both a beautiful friendship, and a tragic love story.

I love the little details that John Green puts into this book. At the book signing tour he told us that he wanted Augustus to have a grand name, that could also have a diminutive, because it shows the boy's two sides. On the one hand he's grabbing life by the horns, loves to use big words (that he often misuses), and enjoys grand gestures. On the other hand, the Gus side, he is a boy facing cancer and pain and all the hard things that go with it, including vulnerability. Hazel is an in between color, and Hazel herself is in between. In between life and death, love and fear, joy and pain.

I loved this book. I loved the details. I loved the watching the two main characters dance around love, fearful to put each other through the pain of their own death, although that made me cry. Actually I cried a couple of times during this book. It's so real. As someone who has faced death (both nearly dying myself, my brother's fight with cancer that he's currently winning, and more) I can tell you that the issues these teenagers face are very realistically done, and raw. The pain in this book is raw, but the joy is exhilarating.

If you've ever wondered about how you should live your life, if you face obstacles that would seem to get in the way of you having a full life, this book is for you. Yes, it's painful, but it's also inspiring to watch these two kids with cancer find a way to live their lives, to enjoy it, and even squeeze in a trip to Europe! I give this book 5 out of 5 cups of coffee. Go buy it!

~ Ruthie ~

Ps. Read any good books lately?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sunday's Writing Update

We all know that you are supposed to write what you know, and I remember hearing somewhere that means that you need to remember to live outside of your book, or you'll dry up for inspiration. Not to mention it would be pretty hallow to have published a bunch of books and have no family and friends to enjoy it with! So I've spent my week on my family and friends, and gotten no writing done other than a few blog posts earlier this week, and I'm ok with that. I was needed, I lived my life to the best of my ability, and I'll get back to the writing as soon as I can. 

How was your week?

~ Ruthie ~

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

How To Be Awesome When Loved One's Hurt

For those of you who haven't been following along, ROW80 is a writing challenge that lets you set your own goals, and cheers you on as you work on reaching them! I recently had to change my goals because I realized that, for now, my focus needs to be elsewhere. And, following quickly on the heels of that decision, I got thrown for a major loop. Some of my best friends are going through a personal crisis, and while there are going to be upsides to this whole ordeal, it's very difficult on all of us in the short run. Which, of course, means no time for me to write!

It has gotten me thinking though. My post yesterday (which only made it up because I wrote it Monday lol) talked about my experience with The Fault In Our Stars Tour and about living a life that is awesome, and the biggest thing I took away from the book that tour promotes is that life does not have to be going well for it to be awesome. So how can you be awesome when the people you love face hard times?

1. Give of Yourself

This can many different things because we all have different ways that we communicate and differing abilities and resources, but what that act is isn't really important. What's important is that you do something real, genuine, because people instinctively can spot fakes. Give flowers, take them out for a cup of coffee, write them a poem, send an email, do the dishes, just make sure its from your heart and not just some sense of obligation.

2. Be Realistic

When the people you love are hurting it is easy to want to save their world, but the truth is that usually you can't. You may be able to do some incredible things to help, but the truth is we all have our limitations, and there are some things that people have to work through themselves. As you are sitting there trying to figure out what you can do, be honest about your limitations. Maybe you can make a meal, but your not up to babysitting. Maybe your on the opposite side of the country and you can't be there, but you can still write or call. Maybe you can write a check or maybe all you can do is hold them while they cry. Don't feel bad about what you can't do, because everything you can do when someone is hurting is amazing!

3. Take Care of Yourself

You are no good to anybody if you wear yourself to the bone, and this one is extra important if you are closely involved with the situation. Don't forget to eat, drink some water, sleep, and take care of your self emotionally too. I think that last one is often the hardest, especially for someone like me who likes to take care of everyone else! You are important too, so call a friend, allow yourself an extra treat, take a bubble bath, but never forget to take care of you. 

4. Don't Be Afraid to Laugh

Laughter really is the best medicine, and when you can find humor through the dark times, you'll make it through to the other side in much better shape. Granted, a funeral isn't always the best place to laugh, but then again, sometimes it is. You'll know what is appropriate, but don't ever loose site of the funny side of the dark.

~ Ruthie ~

Ps. I'll try to post tomorrow, but until this is all "over" I have no idea really what day to day is going to look like. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Fault in Our Stars Tour

On the 29th Gordon (my brother - ie - the guy in the orange hat in the picture with me) and I went to the Fault in Our Stars Tour and I have been wanting to talk about it ever since! Ahhhhh!

Yes, this is the awesome thing I've been wanting to talk about for the last week. Well, the start of the awesomeness.

Backing up, The Fault in Our Stars Tour is the book signing tour of author John Green, but it was also so much more than that!

John and his brother Hank make up the Youtube team the Vlogbrothers. A Vlog is a video blog, and they are brothers, so it's a perfect name! These two guys are very, very smart, and awesome. They are one of the more well known vloggers (among people who watch these things) and they call their followers the Nerfighters.

Yes, I said Nerdfighters. No, not those who beat up nerds (who we can safely call losers), but nerds who fight "To increase world AWESOME and decrease world suck." Anywhere you see DFTBA pop up (Don't Forget To Be Awesome) you are seeing the influence of these Nerdfighters.

Let me let you in on a little secret, in case you hadn't guessed it yet, I'm a giant nerd. When I was younger I took great pleasure in sitting and reading our junior encyclopedia, I am a writer who thinks nothing is more awesome than being in a room full of other writers all talking about writing, I love Star Trek, Star Wars, and most all things fantasy and sci fi related, and I've been known to craft in weird places.

Remember this picture? I was knitting while listening to the guys talk and Hank sing. Getting back to the tour itself, the tour was a combination of promotion and signings of John's latest book (The Fault in Our Stars), John gave a talk, Hank sang, and of course, there was lots of nerdyness. Everywhere you looked there was nerdyness. People talking about Dr. Who (I saw a knit cap that looked like the Tardis!), singing songs about particle physics, and screams. Lots of screams and yells and cheers and goofy dancing.

Guess what? They even made a video with footage from the event we were at! No, I'm not in the video.

Now one of the things that John (the one who wrote the book) talked about was, well, living an awesome life. That is, after all, one of their main focuses! It really got me thinking. Is my life awesome? Why or why not? Then I read the book and...

Well that's a story for anther post. What? Yes, I'm not going to delve deeper into my thoughts on living an awesome life today because I have a lot I want to say. So, aside from my updates on how my writing life is going, I'm going to focus on this for a few posts (maybe many posts). Check back, join in the discussion, and leave me your thoughts, I'd love to hear them :)

~ Ruthie ~

Ps. I'm having blog comment problems and we are not sure why. Feel free to send me a message at jedimarri(at)gmail(dot)com instead. We are in the middle of a family crisis so I haven't had time to contact blogger about it yet. Any information you can give me will be useful when I am able to contact them. Thanks!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Banana Bread! Row80 Update

I made banana bread! I'm so happy! Why? I'm learning how to do more baking, and this is something I've never made before and it came out awesome! Woot!

Anyway... on to the writing!

On Wednesday I said that I needed to rethink my goals. Here is the conclusion that I have come to, I can not devote my life to writing right now.

What does that mean?

First of all - I'm not going to stop writing! That would just be insane. That would be ... soul sucking. I may go through weeks where I write less than others, but I am a much happier Ruthie when I write, so completely abandoning writing is just not going to happen. Period.

Second - I am keeping my writing goals, but they have been massively scaled back. I have decided that while I have two books I want to work on, I just can't sustain that level of focus right now because I need it for other things. For the next few weeks my goals are simply to work on blogging regularly again, and focus on Misfits. This decision was HARD because I want to work on both, but I'm not doing justice to either and getting stressed. Stress is not good.

Lastly - the reason behind all of this is that I'm really good at setting myself up to do to much, and between asthma and migraines, that is not a good thing! Especially since stress tends to lead to both of those. I got through NaNoWriMo and said, "I can do this! I'm going to focus on my writing and put it first!" Which would be great if I was truly at a place in my life where I could do that.

Instead, I really need to put my health first. I'm in the middle of a long journey out of the deep hole that was dug by my body. That may sound weird, but a full explanation would just take too long and make me sad. Suffice it to say, I am a very unhealthy person and large portions of it are not my fault (that and I love food, I really love food!). It means I have a long journey ahead of me to be what could be considered even semi-healthy. I am much better than I was, but...

Working on my healthy isn't just good for all the normal reasons, as I continue to get stronger I'll be able to do more, which in the long run, will mean more writing!

Where are you at with your writing?

~ Ruthie ~

Ps. As a perfect example of how messed up my health has been - yesterday was a really busy day and I wrote this up while the banana bread was cooking. But by the time I had pulled it from the oven, taken pictures, and eaten, I had to go do something else. By the time dinner was done I was so tired I couldn't do anything else and this never got posted. See why we need to get on top of this whole health situation?

Friday, February 3, 2012


No - that's not me. (source)

Um. Yes. Oops. I seriously do have stuff I want to blog and post about...but the last two days have been really long and busy days (but some huge awesomeness mixed in!) so, um, yah, I really will catch up on blogging I promise! Soon. Very soon :) 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

WIP Wednesday - January in Review

I mentioned in Monday's Post that I have some posts I'm really excited about. Unfortunately I then lost Tuesday to a migraine (seriously, it might as well be erased from the calender). My plan was to post it today... then I realized that it's the first day for February, and the first day of the month is a day that I like to reserve for looking at the month prior, and thinking about the month ahead.

My exciting and fun stuff is going to have to wait. I will tell you that it has to do with where I'm knitting in my picture, and why the gesture for "Live Love and Prosper" was my first thought for posing for said picture. Other than that, you'll find out tomorrow! I'm going to write up the post today to make sure I don't get knocked down again and miss posting it. 

Looking Back at January:
I posted on our PDX Wrimo's group that I was ready to write January off writing wise, and I was, until I looked at the numbers today. No, I didn't meet any of my goals, and that is frustrating. I had a bad month and it was hard to get anything done. BUT I still got a total of 20,781 words written between books, short stories, blog posts, and other random writing. Divide by four and you get just over 5k a week on average. 

What does that mean? Well I've decided it means January should not be written off. I didn't meet my goals, but back in the day (before I took a break from writing and found my way back through NaNoWriMo) my goal had been 5k a week. I never met it back then. Ok, maybe twice I met my goal, but it puts things in perspective.

Perspective is always a good thing. In this case it tells me that I have still grown, even if not as much as I had hoped for, and considering my health this last month, I'm more than ok with that. 

Reading wise I've done really well. I usually do when I'm sick. My goal breaks down to 15 books a month, and I read 16, and some of them were really awesome!

Looking Forward to February:
Honestly, this part I'm still figuring out. I am going to have to dial back my goals, but I'm not sure the best way to do that. I don't really want to give up any of them, but apparently my health is not going to cooperate with my dreams right now, so I need to dial it back a little. I think, at this point, that is going to mean working on one book at a time, which frustrates me because I really want to work on both! 

I will update my goals sheet to reflect my current reality by Sunday, and share about those changes then.

I look forward to seeing what books this next month ends up holding. I'm excited about the one's on my shelf from the library right now, and I'll be doing a beta read for a friend as well, which should be fun, it's my first one!

How are your goals going now that we're one month into 2012? Read any good books?

~ Ruthie ~