"Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing."

- Benjamin Franklin

September is the New January

Funny, I hate being predictable. I guess everyone does, really. I mean, who actually wakes up and says, “Maybe I’ll just do what everyone else does today? Being a sheep sure looks good.”

Sheep with glasses

So I rarely make New Year’s resolutions out loud, because everyone is doing it, and they’re happy to tell you about it. It somehow feels icky. And then nothing changes, and I just keep on doing whatever everyone else is doing. I actually become one of the sheep because I don’t want to be a sheep and call out my resolution.

I’m all, same grass, different day. I go for haircuts.

Thanks funnfun.in

Thanks funnfun.in

I go for drinks.

Thanks crazyfunnyphotos.com

Thanks crazyfunnyphotos.com

I watch TV.

Thanks orig10.deviantart.net

Thanks orig10.deviantart.net

I want to check in with myself and make sure my priorities are on track, but I still don’t want to be one of those loudmouths who blabs to everyone at the stroke of midnight about the evils of gluten. On New Year’s Eve, Batman makes giant resolutions and broadcasts them with the bat signal, while Robin barfs in his mouth a little and drinks the rest of the champagne. January first, perky Luke Skywalker shows up at the gym at 7:15am and signs up for Jedi mind-trick boot camp, while Chewie races to the brunch place for 2:55 with a bedhead and convinces the hostess to keep it going for an extra twenty minutes.

But don’t be dismayed if you’re a mouth barfer. You can still make plans — September is made for people and b-superheroes and wookies like me. There’s change in the air. No one says it out loud, but September feels freaky and a little scary with temperature changes and people starting classes and everyone kissing their summer vacations goodbye. And new patterns can leave comfort and old contacts behind, for sure. But I’m going to try to ignore the discomfort, and focus on possibilities. Where have I lost focus? September is an opportunity for under-the-radar new beginnings (sometimes literally, for wookies). And this year, I’m going to gobble them up.


What will your September look like?

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Parallelograms and murder

A few weeks ago I was called for jury selection.

[Insert “dut dut” from Law and Order here]

Thanks guamcourts.org

Thanks guamcourts.org

This made me more than terrified. You see, I avoid The Law in any possible way I can. I don’t enjoy dealing with anyone in an official capacity. I don’t fully understand why this is, but I think it might be because firm rules, and the systems and people that enforce those rules, by definition, lead to firm implications. In other words, I don’t enjoy high-profile opportunities to mess @#$* up. It’s not that I’m afraid I might break a firm rule, like murdering someone or something, because I somehow have been granted a guilt complex that would mean if I ever did something serious, on purpose or by accident, I would have to take up residence full time in the bathroom because I wouldn’t be able to stop throwing up. If we could somehow grant my complex to the rest of the world, war and crime would end immediately, but health-care costs would increase dramatically because mental institutions would be completely full of people who had hurt someone accidentally. Psychologists, and florists who make “I’m so very sorry” bouquets, would be rich enough to party in Ibiza full-time so it would become boring. You get the picture.

To expand on this fear of being around official-types, though — I feel, when I’m talking to police or judges or lawyers, that I’m going to mess up somehow by saying or doing something dumb, so I want no part of them. I don’t even like doing my taxes in case of screw-up. Big rules. Opportunity for big mistakes. Conflict. No thanks. My hands shake just thinking about it. (Allow me to intervene with a quick story about how a few months ago I got pulled over by a cop for making a right on a red when there was a sign not to, and when I opened the glove compartment to get the registration, somehow my son’s toy gun was in there, and I could just see the black butt end of it so that it looked real. Me: “Sweet Jesus, he’s going to throw me onto the hood of this car in front of my six-year-old and my dog.” He didn’t notice the gun. These are the kinds of opportunities for f’d-up-ery to which I am referring.)

So. I get that letter that is far too official, that explains that I’m an adult and a real-live citizen and that I have to go to the courthouse to be selected for a jury. I think to myself, “Well maybe it will just be tax evasion or something.” But of course, after I’ve gone through the very official metal detector (my mind: “Hm, wonder if I do somehow do have a weapon that will lead to f’d-up-ery”) and sat myself in a very official courtroom full of 150 people, and the very official judge and lawyers and defendant have come in, they very officially announce that the charge is first-degree murder.


Do I want to be responsible for deciding whether or not someone spends his life in prison? I absolutely do not. Do I want to answer the two questions that the lawyers have dreamed up to determine whether or not I would be an impartial juror, in front of everybody? (my mind: “I’d end up answering blop blop bleep blop bloop.”) Another nay-nay.

The court-lady (my mind: “Who chooses to spend every single day doing official things and not messing up in front of a judge? She’s weird and we can’t be friends, even if she’s really nice.”) puts all of our juror numbers into a bingo wheel thingy and rolls it, picking people out one by one (my mind: “Not me not me don’t pick me not me not me not me”). Somehow my inner chanting worked and I got into the fourth group. I’m pretty sure I narrowly missed being juror #14, but I squeaked away clean and goosed the judge, kissed the metal detector guys, and danced my way out.

But it was hard to avoid thinking about the trial for the next three weeks (how long they estimated it would take). I’d be with my kids, thinking, “those jurors are looking at life-changing pictures right now.” I keep Googling the defendant’s name to see if there’s been a verdict yet, but there’s no coverage of the trial at all. This makes me wonder about all the trials that aren’t high profile that I never hear about. While we were waiting through the jury selection process that day, one of the court officials said that the courtroom we were in was one of the largest and busiest in Canada. Think of all of the people who are fighting in court for their lives, and all of the lawyers and judges and cops who are fighting to put dangerous people away; it’s going on while you’re not watching, right now. All the time.

My daughter is learning about parallel lines in school, and parallelograms. Parallel paths that never intersect. Completely different perspectives going on within the very same city. On the same streets. Side by side, but never intersecting. Until they do. Through jury duty.

Or stories.

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The view from my toilet

Here is the view from my toilet

Toilet view

Okay, now is when you’re completely within your rights to say Tee Ehm Eye, Ann. We don’t need to think about you on a toilet.

Let’s just take a moment to think of the Queen of England on a toilet, though. She sits there, we all have to. I always get a kick out of thinking of her doing that. I wonder if any of her attendants have any toilet responsibilities. Chelton, hand me the lilac air freshener that you know I prefer. I’m tempted to send Constance to the guillotine for continually purchasing the “spring breeze.” Off with her head! 

Anyway. The view from my toilet. We live in a compact downtown Toronto house, so that hundred-year-old radiator in the picture isn’t across an expansive bathroom or anything, it’s about one foot away from your knees while you’re doing your business. I work from home, so you can bet that I am up close and personal with that radiator multiple times each day. And every time I look at it, I notice the same thing.

Dark, disgusting, nearly live, fluffy hair and dust hiding in the recesses of those shadowy black slats.

Check out Christoph Niemann's art

Check out Christoph Niemann’s art

Now you have to really look to see it back there. It’s not something you’d see unless you were relieving yourself at my house many times a day (I don’t think, but maybe all of my friends think I’m a filthy pig and aren’t saying anything). But my point is, I’ve been staring at it for ages (I don’t even want to tell you how long so I won’t) and I haven’t done a single thing about it. Some days I stare at it and think, “What’s wrong with me? Why don’t I run downstairs and get a Swiffer and jam it in there and then the hundred-year-old-crud would be gone?” And then I analyze whether I want to clean it because it really bugs me, or because I’m afraid others are looking at it when they sit on my toilet and wonder what’s wrong with me. And then I think, “Well, if it’s for the benefit of friends, they’re probably not noticing it and won’t judge if they’re my real friends. I shouldn’t care what they think anyway.” And then I wash my hands and walk out of the bathroom and bark at my kids to put-your-shoes-on-let’s-get-out-of-here-how-many-times-do-I-have-to-tell-you-I’m-about-to-lose-my-mind and I completely forget that I was thinking about it at all.

And the radiator crud isn’t the only mental-but-also-literal sludge this happens with.

I have very dark hair, but only with the help of some nearly black stinking chemicals every few weeks. Once I dropped the youth serum and it splashed across the white wood of the same teensy bathroom, so when I’m not enjoying my view of the grey rad fuzz I can look to my right and ponder this

Gross splash

I have a can of white paint and a brush in our adjacent storage room, but…

Maybe I should be addressing my dirtiest little secret. When people come over, there is often a pile of papers on the desk in our open-concept kitchen where friends tend to hang out. I’m always running behind, so I pick it up and shove it (with other odds and ends) beside the closet in my bedroom.

Junk pile

This pile is often the first thing I think of when I wake up. I think, “Maybe today will be the day I’ll clean it.” Last week I did and felt like a champion, but then people came over and I had to fill it up again.


Thanks popsugar.com and Rita Jeptoo

Thanks popsugar.com and Rita Jeptoo

To this

Thanks middle-agedrunner.blogspot.ca

Thanks middle-agedrunner.blogspot.ca

The other day, my husband’s friend visited from Vancouver and had never seen our house, so Phil walked him through. I followed, and was horrified when he took a few steps into our bedroom, thinking he was going to walk to the window to look out and would see my secret hoarder-worthy trash pile. My brain started silently yelling, “Whatever you do, don’t go near the window!!!” like it was some kind of horror movie. And in a way, it was. Coming soon to a theatre near you — Ann’s Shocking, Terrifying Stashes of Lazy Slovenliness. Starring Aaron Eckhart and Cate Blanchett, mostly because I just want to see them make out.

So why can’t I keep on top of things that bug me? How do people with those hotel-type houses do it? Aren’t they busy? Don’t they have other priorities too? Most importantly, am I a loser for not being able to manage these small details??

Now is when you get to hang tight to hear the opposing voices in my head so that we can all feel a little better about our literal or figurative stashes of junk (maybe you’re way tidier than me but you’ve got other crap going on, who am I to judge about your cleanliness [bitch], but let’s hope I’m not the only one feeling like there are lazy bits of life I’m not dealing up).

Right now I’m reading Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson. It’s awesome. I was laughing so hard at it that tears were running down my face and my husband came in to ask what the heck was wrong with me. You wouldn’t think that someone who could make me laugh like that is also someone who struggles with depression and anxiety disorders, but she does in a big way. I love silently cheering her on and identifying with her challenges while also feeling like I’d love to hang out with her.

Anyway, at one point Jenny talks about spoons, aka energy for a task, and how we only have a certain number to spend each day. Taking a shower? Costs a spoon. Cleaning the tumbleweeds out of your radiator? Spoon. Most healthy people seem to have an avalanche of spoons — my friend Laura Dias can address problems for three hundred customers at one time — but Jenny says that illness leaves you with a limited number of spoons, so that it may be all someone with depression can do to use her one spoon for the day on getting out of bed. I get that. Sometimes I get terrible anxiety that still lets me manage a bunch of spoons, but my attention is really only focused on that single, terrible, all-consuming spoon.


Also, I hate wasting spoons. Personally, I feel like cleaning for me is a waste of a spoon. Sure, it needs to be done, I’m not a bacteria farm or anything, but after you spend a bunch of time doing it, someone asks, “Hey, what did you do today,” and you say

Nothing much

I really hate that. So God bless Simone, our house cleaner, who comes once every two weeks and sweetly says, “I’m here to help you Annie.” I pay her gratefully but also feel as though I should be spending my own damn spoons to clean my own damn house. Which means that I never ask her to clean “special projects,” because I think I should be grateful enough for what she does choose to clean. Which leaves me with radiator dust bunnies.

So. Bottom line. Am I a loser for not spending my spoons on things that piss me off around my house? I vote no. But I did just clean those dust bunnies and it makes me happier to look there now. Spoon well spent. Maybe I’ve got a spoon next Thursday for the hoarder corner. But until then, I hope your spoons give you similar adventures to the ones that are in store for me — making homemade rosewater marshmallows, writing cool stories, running with a happy little dog, and forgiving yourself for the splash of hair dye in the corner of your bathroom.

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Perseverance and persistence

I have a friend — Vicky Nolan — who was a blind paralympic rower for Team Canada. I knew her before she got all Olympic-y and everything, so I got to watch her transformation from start to finish. And the biggest thing I’ve learned from watching her transformation into an elite athlete, is this:

Don’t give up.

It sounds straightforward, doesn’t it? But it’s one of those things that is far easier said than done. I mean, I watched her for years, summer after summer, living away from her young kids, her husband holding down the fort, and sometimes I thought in my head (*what if you go through all of this and don’t medal?*). Also, (*is a medal really this important?*). But the medals were important to her. Winning medals was something she envisioned for herself, and — here’s where the learning from watching her comes in — she refused to believe that she wouldn’t win a gold medal. It was like she put noise-cancelling headphones over her ears to any negativity, and she just kept putting her head down and grabbing that oar and pulling for all she was worth all day long. For years. And over the years, she won bronze, silver, and finally, a gold medal. She achieved what she wanted, but it was far from easy.

Thanks magazine.utoronto.ca

Thanks magazine.utoronto.ca

I have another friend, Bryan. I’ve also watched Bryan put on those imaginary noise-cancelling headphones, but for a different goal. Bryan is a life-long entrepreneur. We were sitting around his kitchen island (peninsula?) one day, and he floated this idea to us. He wanted to work in the wine industry, and he said it was dumb how everybody buys wine based on the price and the label. He wanted to start a website that took real reviews of wines into account, and he wanted it to be his full-time business. For the first few years, he had to spend a lot of his savings while his wife worked. I thought in my head many times (*maybe Bryan should just get a job*), but he put his head down and sat in front of his computer all day long, met with people, convinced wine critics of his plan, chased advertisers, and now, he runs the number two wine website in Canada after the LCBO. Had it been me, his successful business never would have made it. But he persevered, and works in an industry he loves now, because he refused to give up.

Thanks winealign.wordpress.com

Thanks winealign.wordpress.com

So now it’s my turn to want something. This week, I prepared query packages for my latest book that I want to see published — it’s for a younger audience than my last one, so a totally new market. Querying is a tiring process — agents and publishers take forever to get back to you, and it can be discouraging when they say, “Not for me, thanks,” when all you want to do is say, “But keep reading, kids will love it!” So I need to put on those noise-cancelling headphones. I bought forty envelopes yesterday, and I’m going to keep filling them and talking to people until I see that super-awesome book cover that makes my characters feel even more real.

What is it that you want? And are you willing to persevere until you get it?

Thanks izquotes.com

Thanks izquotes.com

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A movie, and appreciation

The other day was our anniversary, and coincidentally, my husband happened to get film festival tickets through work. Now. I think I had only been to a film festival movie twice before, but here are the things I learned through those two experiences:

1. Film festival movies can be quite artistic. On the plus side: beautiful; thought-provoking; gripping. On the “uh oh” side: graphic; hard to follow; heart-wrenching.

2. Often, the creators and actors are available and sometimes willing to interact. On the plus side: Wow! On the “uh oh” side: Oh my God, did the person I’m with just actually put their hand up and are they going to ask something dumb of the people who sweated their hearts out to make this movie?


3. Sometimes people get dressed up at premieres. Sometimes they don’t. What to wear?


So I did okay on point #3, although I was slightly overdressed and the only bra I had that went low enough in the middle for the cleavage of the dress happened to be blue even though the dress was black, so I had to tape the bra to the dress all over the place and then my hair kept getting stuck to the tape. Does this kind of thing happen to other people? Because it happens to me all the time.

Point #1 also worked out very well. The movie was Infinitely Polar Bear directed by Maya Forbes, starring Mark Ruffalo and Zoe Saldana. It was autobiographical for Forbes — the story of her childhood with her bipolar father, which, if you only knew that much about this artistic movie, might lead you to believe that the movie would be heavy, dealing with the darker side of mental illness. In fact, the movie was the opposite. Although it didn’t shy away from portraying the challenges of children having a bipolar caregiver, the story was sweet and funny, showing the more loving side of living with someone dealing with mental illness. I loved it — all of the acting was superb, and I left feeling uplifted. No one would be dissatisfied going to the theatre and dropping $137 or whatever it is these days to see this movie.

But my reaction to the movie brings me to Point #2, and the reason I am bringing up this whole story at all. Maya Forbes spoke to introduce the film, and she stood with her daughter who brilliantly portrayed Maya in the film. Mark Ruffalo gave a little wave, but didn’t speak. They didn’t take questions, allowing me to heave a sigh of relief that my over-confident husband wouldn’t try to challenge them with some kind of wine-induced brilliance, as he did years ago when we ate at Chef Susur Lee’s restaurant “So let’s just say you’re hankering for a grilled cheese. What would you do?” Ans: “I would just … make one.” (I actually got a kick out of his question that time.)

But here was my issue with said husband and having watched a movie in the presence of its creators and actors. At the end of the film, which was thoroughly enjoyable and well-done — probably even Oscar-worthy — Maya Forbes, Mark Ruffalo, and Forbes’ uber-talented daughter, Imogene Wolodarsky, stood in the balcony and waved. Half of the theatre of probably three hundred people gave them a standing ovation. The other half, including my husband, clapped, but remained seated.

I mean, what the hell? Even if you didn’t think the film was one of the ten best you’ve ever seen, you’re too special to admit that it was good, and to show that you appreciated the creators’ efforts? Your tastes are so selective that you only ever would have taken the trouble to stand up for Citizen Kane, but since Orson Welles is dead, your knees will never have the enjoyment of straightening themselves in appreciation until the end of time?

Take opportunities to connect with people. Be grateful. I’m going to cook my husband liver for dinner tonight and see just how grateful he is for my creation. Maybe my beef bourguinon will get a standing O tomorrow night.

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A great review!

Writing can be a really weird process. You sit at home alone sipping a tea, and these ideas fly through your head, and then you spit them out into your computer (hopefully not literally, because that would be MESSY) and then that’s that. You keep returning to your tea and your computer and doing the same thing, over and over again. And for a long time, you’re alone with your thoughts, and nothing happens. And you decide you hate your writing, but then you re-read it and you think it might not be so bad. And sometimes you picture people in your head, who might be reading what you wrote and getting a kick out of it. And on a bad day, you imagine your mother reading things you know your mother wouldn’t like, and you wonder if you should put your thoughts out there at all. And then your mother does read it. And you survive. She smiles politely, says she liked it (whether that was true or not), and still buys you a birthday cake when that day comes around.

But the bright side of all this is when someone actually does like what you’ve written. Because even though what you spit into your computer is a completely, play pretend, BS of a good time, it’s somehow a little piece of you. And you know you’ll be okay if people don’t like what you’ve written, because you know that you don’t like Josh Grobin’s music or the show Entourage or Fifty Shades of Grey but that plenty of other people do, so you tell yourself that it makes sense that there will be people who won’t like what you’ve written. But you encourage yourself by thinking that there will be people who will connect with your ideas. Strangers who you can cheer up with a smile.

And then you get a nice review, ages after you wrote all locked up by yourself. And you smile, and go back to that solitary tip tapping, with a little extra lift in your typing fingers. So thanks, Ms. Midwest! Here’s the review, reprinted from Joanna’s blog at www.midwesternbite.com.

Girl Reinvented

This is the first book review I’ve written in a long while.  This is also the first (non children’s) book I’ve read in a long while.  Don’t get me wrong here, I love to read.  Love to read.  I majored in it in college even.  My Husband and I have four bookshelves filled to capacity with books and more books stored in the garage.  Granted some of these are college textbooks, but they still count.  A book is a book.  This doesn’t even take into account all of Sweetey Petey’s books which are too numerous to count, especially at the early hour I’m penning this.  Sweetey Petey loves to read too.  Mike rarely ends a night without donning his headlamp and cracking open a book snugged up in bed.

This Midwestern family loves to read.

So why has it taken me so long to dive back into the pages of a good book?  Simple.  Life got in the way.  Or, more relevantly, my idea of life got in the way.  I rarely sit still long enough to appreciate a quiet moment, my mind always a whir with what needs done next, what project needs started or finished, what laundry needs folded, what playroom needs picked up.  It’s a trait in myself I’m working to change, thanks to Ann Moore . . .  but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Reading a book, and a book purely for fun at that, seemed so self indulgent recently.  I have responsibilities after all.  A home to create and maintain.  In light of this anti-mindfullness mindset I’ve grown into, you may be wondering why I chose to read this particular book.  That’s simple.  I know Ann.  Okay, maybe not so simple since I only sorta, kinda know Ann.

Don’t worry, Ann doesn’t use words like sorta and kinda in her book.

I’ve been reading Ann’s blog Cooking Dangerously and Ann has become an internet friend.  We’ve exchanged gifts, tweets, comments, direct messages.  Ann has even named one of our chickens!  Really that makes her as close to family as a Canadian internet friend can get.

So I “know” Ann.  But it’s more than that.  I look forward to her blog posts and find her witty, interesting and most of all unique.  She provides content and an individual point of view that is shockingly refreshing in a blogosphere full of food bloggers spouting the same dry run of the mill garbage over and over and over again.  Yes, I know kale is good for me.  Oh I can bake it into chips?  You don’t say?

Ann is modest enough not to shove her book in your face.  I’m rather modest myself (clearly I’m writing this BEFORE the picture I’m posting of my butt scheduled for May 8) but if I had not only written a book, but a book that you could find on Amazon in actual book form (self published e-books don’t count so don’t even try to tell me they do), you’d better believe your buttokis I’d be telling the world every danged day.

Don’t worry, Ann doesn’t use words like buttokis and danged in her book.

Ann and I were quite far along in our internet friendship before I even knew she had written a book.  She mentioned it in passing, I searched for it, couldn’t locate it (she penned it under her maiden name) and I had to ask her.  After that, I was obsessed.  I knew, just knew, I had to read Ann’s book even if it was about clowns, which I hate.  I hate clowns.   Fortunately it wasn’t about clowns.

To avoid any potential feelings of guilt over a just for fun, just for me purchase,  I used funds from my Midwestern Bite Amazon associate account, ordered Ann’s book and waited . . . impatiently . . . for it to arrive.

I’d like to interject here and say, for the official record, I promise any future book reviews WON’T take me this many paragraphs to actually get into, mmmm K?

Don’t worry, Ann doesn’t use words like mmmm K in her book.

I read Ann’s book within a week.  I’m sure a lot of you are thinking it took you a whole week?  I can read a book in a day!  Yes, well, I could too back before I was seven months pregnant and with a toddler underfoot so don’t judge.  A week is good for me thankyouverymuch.

And don’t worry, Ann doesn’t use words like thankyouverymuch in her book.

Here’s what the book jacket has to say about Girl Reinvented:

“Tabitha Mahony has always been that polite, smart, heavy girl who flies under everyone’s radar, until one day an unfortunate low-rise jeans incident brings her the kind of publicity no one is looking for. Rather than taking the challenge in stride, Tabitha begins to question the personality she has developed over the past sixteen years. What has she really gained from being who she is? She only has one crazy loudmouth friend, she has zero prospects in the guy department, her mom is too busy and her brother is too stoned to notice her … mostly she just feels miserable all the time. She wonders if she could instantly become someone new if she decided to. Could you? What would you do differently? Would you ask out that crush? Confront that pretty little sour-faced girl in the tennis skirt? Get drunk? Chase that dream? Yeah, so would she.”

First off I’d like to reiterate that Girl Reinvented is a quick read.  That’s not to say short.  That’s not to say lacking in content.  It’s quick because you want to find out where the track leads you.  Much like a train ride, you just can’t get off till you reach your destination.  Sure, there may be a few stops along the way (it’s 346 pages after all, you aren’t going to get out of this one without at least a few bathroom and snack breaks) but you sit back and absorb the scenery flowing past you.

Scenery.  That may have been my favorite aspect to this book.  Ann Moore paints a vibrant visual picture, her words and comparisons conveying not only imagery, but feelings as well.  Through her it is easy to see what the characters see and feel what the characters feel.  If they turn their head, you turn your head.  If they jump out of a plane, you jump out of a plane.

Yes, there was jumping out a plane.  I’ll get to that.

Right off the bat I was able to relate to the main character Tabitha.  No, I was not overweight.  Other than a minor falling down the stairs incident, no I never had a soul barring embarrassing moment in front of the whole school.  I even had a few prospects in the guy department and more than one loud mouthed friend.  But feelings of isolation?  Feelings of not always belonging?  Feelings of unachieved aspirations?  Uncertainty?  Yes.  I’ve had those.  Haven’t we all?  While reading this book it was easy to slip back into the tumultuous days of high school and recall those feelings we’ve all felt at some point in our lives.  No matter what social group you fell into, high school had its rocky moments.  That’s just how it’s meant to be.  A learning experience where you start to really find yourself.

And that’s just what Tabitha does.

Girl Reinvented is classified as a Young Adult Romantic Comedy.  As such, your first question may be but hasn’t it all been said before?  A guilty pleasure of mine has always been high school TV dramas.  Gilmore Girls.  One Tree Hill.  Dawson’s Creek (I can’t believe I just admitted that).  Edgemont.  Felicity.  You get the picture in picture.  One complaint I have about this genre, however, is the repetition.  Oh, someone had a pregnancy scare?  No way.  Someone had a drug problem?  Huh.  That’s new.  Somebody was cheated on?  Gasp.  You don’t say.  Young adult entertainment is clearly a subject that has been fully explored in all forms of media.

What surprised me about Girl Reinvented, was, in fact, the surprises.  Yes, there was a popular kid picking on an unpopular kid.  Yes, there were teenage crushes.  There was even a catfight.  These are standard predictable young adult fare.  But there was also jumping out of a plane.  Say what?  Yup, I didn’t see that coming.  There was also Irish dancing.  You heard me.  Irish dancing.  There was an entire descriptive presentation of breast augmentation.  I just reeled the boys in now didn’t I?  I thought as much.  I almost skipped ahead in the book just to find out what Tabitha’s scandalous presentation would be about (I managed to refrain) and once I got there all I could think was, say whaaaaaat?

Ann Moore definitely threw in a few curve balls I didn’t expect, leaving me to wonder as I read what else she had up her sleeve.  Where would she take Tabitha, next?  I won’t spoil it for you.

Tabitha aspired to be a writer and Ann Moore included a few of her literary attempts within Girl Reinvented.  I will admit I had a hard time getting through these passages.  I cringed on more than a few occasions and immediately wondered if my own young writing was as forced as Tabitha’s.

All together, Girl Reinvented was a fun read and made me want more.  More Ann Moore.  More books.  More.  More.  More.  Since reading Girl Reinvented, I’ve breezed through Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple and started The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (don’t fret, there are no clowns in this particular circus – I confirmed before I started).  I’ve checked in with my Facebook friends for book recommendations, Googled book clubs both local and internet based, joined Goodreads and stopped in at the nearest library to peruse the Fiction shelves.

Ann Moore made me realize I had missed reading and missed it something fierce.  My love affair has been rekindled and my priorities have been shifting.  So what if the laundry doesn’t get folded till tomorrow.  So what if the playroom is a mess, it’s not like it would have stayed tidy for long anyway.  I’ve got characters to immerse myself in and plots to be drawn into and imagery to fill my pretty head.

And with that, I’ve got some reading to do before the toddler wakes up and we read Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things That Go for the bazillioneth time.  Goldbug!  Or as the boy says . . . GOOOOOAL DUG!

But before I leave you, how about I give you something?  How about I give you Girl Reinvented?  If you want to read it too, all you need to do is comment and tell me so.  No Rafflecopter to mess with, just leave me a comment, and one of you will read this book on my dime.  Well, The Husband’s dime.  The giveaway runs till this Saturday at midnight after which Sweetey Petey will draw one of your names, most likely from an Easter egg.  The winner will be announced next week.  You’ll e-mail me your address and your book will be shipped straight from Amazon right to your front door.  Or back door, depending on your UPS driver.   Ours sometimes picks the detached garage which is less than helpful.

Oh, and this giveaway is open to US residents only.

Have a great week all and I hope to see you back here for a quick DIY nursery post and some chip talk.  Chip talk?  What kind of chip talk you ask?  You’ll have to wait to find out.  I don’t want to spoil that for you either.

– Joanna

Question of the Day:  Do you want to win this book?  Then tell me so!!!  Oh, and if you win and you’d rather have the kindle version, I’m sure that can be arranged too.  The Husband would probably even prefer that since it’s cheaper.  

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On Darkness

My mom has never really liked watching dramas. I’m sure there are many exceptions, but when I lived at home and she wanted to rent a DVD (maybe back then it was even a tape? God forbid) she would always lobby for a comedy. She didn’t see the point of watching something to make herself sad or afraid.

There are times I kind of agree with her. I completely hate scenes I’ve seen or read where I wish I could delete the memory of what I saw. I can call these memories to mind immediately, almost without trying – stay away from the novel “Mister Pip,” if you’re like me. Also, never check out “Imagining Argentina,” with Emma Thompson and Antonio Banderas. Who could forget the premise of Sophie’s Choice, where a mother has to choose which of her kids to send to the gas chamber or else lose both? (This last one is the only work I could even bring myself to describe). Each of these creations burned permanent holes in my brain. I have a much thicker skin for observing emotional trauma than my mom does, but I still think there are some scenes that are better left unimagined.

So that’s what I’m writing about here today. My struggle with writing dark subject matter. My first book was a comedy, and making jokes and cute scenes comes much more easily to me than the book I’m writing now, which is in a setting of darkness. I want to write about love persevering, and goodness overcoming evil, but my mom’s face is always looming around in my mind, cringing as I delve deeper. But how can we value love if we don’t understand hate, right? The best stories embrace the conflict between both, while still not going too far.

Help me find the courage to create the demons so that love can overcome them.

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