Sunday, February 28, 2010

Something to Look at Sunday

If you were like me yesterday, you spent a couple of hours in front of the TV watching the footage of yet another earthquake that took hundreds of lives, and braced for the impact of a tsunami headed for Hawaii, which thankfully was very minor.
Why are these earthquakes becoming such frequent occurrences? Why is our earth feeling the need to shift around so much? It's fascinating to learn about the science of it all... if only it didn't cause so much death and destruction.

Haiti update: I have gotten word from Compassion International (the child sponsorship program that I go through), and Dana, whom I've sponsored in Haiti for years now, is thought to be safe, as she did not live in the affected area. I'm still waiting to hear from her directly, but I'm sure the entire country is experiencing delays in communications. Nevertheless, I'm thankful for the news I've received.
My prayers are still with the people of Haiti, as well as the people of Chile.

Watching the coverage of Hawaii yesterday got me thinking a lot about, well, Hawaii. They kept showing places and I'd say, OH! I've been there! And there! And there!
Hawaii is dear to me, as I've visited four times so far, and have made it to the four major islands: Oahu, Hawaii, Kauai, and Maui.
For today's Something to Look at Sunday, I thought I'd pay homage to these beautiful islands with some photos from my travels there. Enjoy!

A lighthouse viewed from the top of Diamond Head - Oahu

A section of the USS Arizona still sticking up out of the water, at the Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor - Oahu


Luau - Maui


Flame thrower at Luau - Maui

Ship off the coast of Maui

We went to an orchid farm on the big island of Hawaii

One of my favorite places in the world, Keanae, along the Road to Hana - Maui

The trunk of a Rainbow Eucalyptus tree.

Don't forget, today is the LAST day to enter my Birthday Contest!!

Felice Domenica!

*All photographs are property of Kristin Rae and may not be used or duplicated without written permission.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Review of Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

I may be the last person to have read this, but I just finished it and I must spread the word. For fans of young adult paranormal romances, this MUST be read... and soon. Thank you Kim Franklin for forcing Hush, Hush on me. (Kim will be interviewing Fitzpatrick soon, so keep an eye out!)

Just look at that delicious cover.

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Description from Goodreads:

For Nora Grey, romance was not part of the plan. She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how much her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her...until Patch comes along.
With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Nora is drawn to him against her better judgment, but after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora's not sure whom to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is, and to know more about her than her closest friends. She can't decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is far more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.
For Nora is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen - and when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost her life.

My Thoughts:

If the story alone doesn't suck you in, ladies, Patch will. He's H-O-T, he's bad, he's mysterious... and it's gooood.
It's definitely a page turner. Often at night (I do most of my reading in bed), I'd have to force myself to turn off the light and go to sleep. It's that interesting. You don't know who Nora should trust, who's good, who's bad, what's real?
The writing is different... fresh. I love the way Fitzpatrick words things. You can feel exactly what Nora is feeling, and see what she sees. Your own heart races when she's near Patch, and you become just as confused about him as she is.
It's hard to know exactly what to say without spoiling anything. It's the mystery, the style, the voice, the Patch that keeps you reading.
I look forward to reading more from Fitzpatrick.

Critique:
I didn't cry. (But it was touching...)

5/5 - Amazing




Thursday, February 25, 2010

Books, Contests and Other Great Things!

Rachael Hawkins is having a sweet giveaway to celebrate Hex Hall coming out on Tuesday. I've been following the buzz for this book, and it sounds fantastic! The winner gets a Hex Hall t-shirt, a signed copy of Hex Hall, and a $25 B&N gift card to buy MORE books!
Check out Rachel's blog to enter!

(Click on the book cover to order on Amazon.com)

In other fun book news, today is the release date for Kristi Chestnutt's The Wolf Within!
The powers that be have assured us this will be available for purchase online by tomorrow, but I am impatient and keep checking frequently! So excited for her debut!


Other great things popping up this time of year...
Girl Scout Cookies!

Hubs and I went to the lake last weekend for a mini birthday getaway, and were attacked by a Girl Scout at the gas station. Yes, I said attacked!
"Would you like to buy some Girl Scout cookies? We're just closing up."
I look at hubs and bat my lashes, visions of Thin Mints dancing in my head.
"Do you have any cash?" I ask, ever so sweetly.
He laughs and digs in his pocket and pulls out a $10, which Scout sees and quickly informs, "For 50 more cents you can get three boxes."
She's goooood.
She got three boxes out of us and a 50 cent tip.
We went in the gas station store and bought milk.
Scout laughed when she saw us walk out with our Borden bottle and said, "Got Milk?!"

With Easter approaching, the pastel candies have already started lining the shelves!
And you know what that means...


That's right. Cadbury Mini Eggs.
These are not the snot-filled stand-ins (which I WILL eat if they are in front of me), these are the MINI EGGS. Solid milk chocolate eggs with a crispy delicious candy shell.
Freaking addictive, I say.

Don't forget to enter my Birthday Contest HERE!

Felice Giovedi!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Who's Been Hoarding the Awards?!

Guilty!
I've been getting some fabulous awards from some fabulous bloggers and have neglected to pass them around!! I must make amends, and quickly! I believe I have eight of them that I've stacked up, so I'm just going to tackle them in parts.

Today's awards are:

The Stylish Blogger Award, given to me by the stylish blogger, Jen at Unedited!


I'm passing this pretty award along to:
Muse in the Fog - Following this blog has introduced me to a genre I hadn't read much of in the past, but am now learning more about: Historical Fiction! Her reviews are must reads.

Abby Annis - Her blog is fun, full of great advice, and she often highlights a lot of the YA books we love so much! She also has a great 100 follower contest going on right now.

Next up is the Blogger Buddie Award, given to me by Amelia and Amber! Be sure to check out their fabulous blogs!


I am passing this award along to:
Jen at Unedited - She's a pretty cool chick with a pretty cool blog, and recently celebrated 200 followers! Congrats on that!
Nicole Ducleroir at One Significant Moment at a Time - Great discussions, great teasers, just an all around great lady!

Next up is the Circle of Friends Award, given to me by fellow Team Gale supporter Katie!

I am passing this along to:
Kim Franklin - Kim has become a good friend, and to top it off, her blog is hysterical and full of great advice, not to mention her very helpful book reviews!
Kristi Chestnutt - Also a new and dear friend, Kristi's debut novel comes out THURSDAY!
CONGRATS KRISTI!
(Read my interview with Kristi here)

Last for today, but not least, The Superior Scribbler Award given to me by Tiana Lei!


I'm passing this one along to:
DL Hammons at Cruising Altitude - DL is just an all around cool guy. He has great advice, is a good writer, and always leaves encouraging comments. He's a superior scribbler!
Kayeleen at Kayeleen's Creations - Kayeleen is a super-sweet, young adult writer, with a lovely blog that everyone should follow!

WHEEW! Stay tuned for the second part of this award ceremony at a date TBD!

Now, most of these blog awards come with the rule of spilling a little bit about yourself, so, spillage part 1:

1. Every birthday of mine that I can remember, it's rained. Yesterday was my birthday, and this year was no exception. Although, it had never snowed on my b-day before... Living in Houston, we're lucky to see it every 5 years. But yesterday... it snowed (the second time in 3 months!). Happy Birthday To Me! :)

2. Someone once told me, "Hate is a waste of emotion." Ever since, I've tried not to hate anyone or anything. I even try not to ever say "I hate you!" even playfully. It just sounds ugly. But I will say this: I just scrubbed our guest bathtub... and I was pretty close to hating that.

3. I have a hard time buying someone else's artwork because I have this weird personal..what's the word...it's like a feeling...not really a "bet"...argh. Can't think. Anyway, I feel like I'm supposed to create all the artwork for the walls in our house myself. Like I will have failed if I don't. I'm slowly getting over it - mostly because our walls have been bare for 2 years because I don't have confidence in my own art to even display it! - and I bought a couple of watercolor paintings from some locals while we were in Italy (and a couple from Hawaii). I'm also slowly cluttering my walls with photos I took on vacations, too.

4. I freak out when my feet feel the slightest bit dirty. It's vital to wear flip flops here in Houston in the summer when it's 100+ and you feel like you're constantly in a sauna, but wow do your feet get dirty!! I'm the queen of the quick fix of a lightly soaped and damp paper towel swipe of the feet in public restrooms, and I give them a good thorough wash cloth cleanse as soon as I get home.

5. I LOVE gift cards. Some people think these as gifts are impersonal, but you know what I say to that? Let ME pick out what you want to buy me, because no one knows me better. I think people are catching on, because yesterday for my birthday I got the most gift cards I've EVER gotten. iTunes, Borders, Hobby Lobby, Michaels, World Market!!! Add that to the Barnes and Noble gift card I won last week from Clevery Inked and I'd say I have a FULL day of shopping in the near future!!!

If you haven't entered my contest for a signed copy of Heist Society by Ally Carter or a $10 Amazon Gift Card, you can do so on this thread!

Felice Mercoledi! (Happy Wednesday!)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Birthday Contest!

How would you like to win a signed copy of Ally Carter's newest release, Heist Society?

It's already a New York Times Best Seller!


I had the opportunity to meet Miss Carter last Thursday, which you can read all about on this post. It was a joy to hear her speak, and I encourage everyone interested to check her website for her schedule.


Since today, Tuesday, February 23, is indeed MY BIRTHDAY, I thought it was only fitting to host a CONTEST for my lovely followers!! (Better to give than to receive, right?!)

Now, this is a Young Adult book, so I'm sure some of you are saying, "Well DARN IT, I don't read young adult chick's books... That's sissy stuff!" (Am I right DL?) You shouldn't feel left out! Not on Kristin's birthday! (Gasp!) So I will also be giving away a $10 Amazon e-mail gift card.



Up for Grabs:

1 signed hardback of Heist Society by Ally Carter

OR

$10 Amazon e-mail Gift Card


Rules:

Must be a follower


To Enter:

Leave a comment specifying if you are entering for the book (US only) or the gift card


Extra Entries:

+1 for guessing my correct age on this birthday!
+1 for blog shout out or sidebar (show me the link)
+1 for finishing this sentence:
Eyes closed tightly, I blew out the candles on the cake, and wished...



Contest ends at midnight this Sunday, February 28th.

Winners announced Monday, March 1st!


Buona Fortuna!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Interview with Kristi Chestnutt - Author of The Wolf Within!

I am very proud to have Kristi Chestnutt here today! It's the first stop on her blog tour!

Her debut novel, The Wolf Within, is just days away from release... Let's take a look at it!!
Isn't that cover just beautiful? I don't know about y'all, but it makes me that much more excited to read it!

Before the interview, here's the scoop on The Wolf Within:

When Gwyn, a quirky college student, bumps into Faden, a private investigator with a secret past, life as she knows it will not just change, but end.

Faden can’t deny the powerful connection he and Gwyn have right from the start, a connection that pulls him towards her when he knows he should be staying away. As his investigation into the town’s most recent murders heats up, his resolve weakens and he gives in to Gwyn’s pull, knowing that getting close to someone again would mean sharing his secret: he is Immortal.

Little does he know that he will never get the chance to tell her himself. His past hunts him down, taking Gwyn prisoner and plunging them into a world they never knew existed. Together they will be thrown into the midst of battle, befriending the very serial killer Faden has been hunting. Forced to leave their homes behind and run from the authorities, we watch as Gwyn helps Faden become the leader that destiny and fate has called him to be.


Welcome Kristi!

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Me? Hmmm…I tend to ramble so this is a brave question. I’m short - five feet exactly. My family likes to say I’m four foot eleven inches but they’re wrong I tell you…WRONG!

I like goat cheese. I love to snowboard. I have a boxer, Van Gogh and a pug, Roxy. I’m obsessive about turning off lights and appliances in the house. Not really because it’s more energy efficient (although a nice bonus), but because it bothers me to leave them on. I like to lock my car doors the INSTANT I’m in the car. I know logically it is crazy to think someone would steal me right out of my car but for some reason locking them makes me feel safer. My cell phone is on the fritz and it will randomly make a buzzing sound in replacement of my voice, or so my family tells me. I have to continually call people back every three to four minutes and if I don’t replace it soon my family may disown me. It’s on my list of “to do’s”.

2. Congratulations on The Wolf Within! What emotions have you felt leading up to the release?

Thanks Kristin! It’s been a roller coaster ride of emotions! First there was extreme excitement (Wow…I’m going to be published!), followed quickly by panic (Holy crap…I’m going to be published…people will judge me…EEEK!), then frustration (editing is not one of my favorite things!), then fear (what will the cover look like?), and ultimately in the end, back to excitement (this is really happening and it rocks!).

3. Did you write other novels before The Wolf Within that didn’t survive the path to publishing?

Oh yes. I’ve recently debated taking them out of the dreaded filing cabinet for another look but I haven’t had the courage. I didn’t believe in them enough to even try. A few close friends were the only ones to have ever read them.

4. Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Yes and no. I’ve always enjoyed writing as a hobby and an outlet. Being published and/or having an agent are life-long dreams of mine…one down, one to go. Writing as my full time career, however, is not something I’ve ever considered…in my mind it would be too stressful to have that kind of pressure and I try to be realistic about what I love to do.

5. What are your interests outside of writing? Do you ever feel guilty ignoring writing too long to do something else, or visa versa?

I love spending time with family and friends, snowboarding, reading, going on long walks with the dogs, hiking…anything outdoors really.

AND a huge YES on the guilt. It goes both ways…the nights I lock myself in my office to work on something I feel guilty that I’m not spending more time with my family. And the weeks my personal life takes over and I can’t write, I start to panic, wondering if whatever story I want to tell will ever be done. I try to strike balance between my writing life and family life…some weeks it works and others it doesn’t.

6. What are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on two different projects and debating a third. One is a literary fiction piece title “The Ones” about a boy orphan looking for his family and the other is a paranormal young adult piece (untitled) about a high school romance.

7. A lot of authors say that music is vital to them while writing. Is there anything that’s a must for you to help the words flow?

Every now and then music really speaks to me and inspires a story, but it’s always more inspiration for my story rather than something I need in the background to help me write. It’s like a kick start to get me going. For me, I really need to think about and mull a story over in my head before I am really able to get the words to flow.

8. You’ve gone through this process without an agent. For your next novel, will you seek representation?

Definitely! I’ve learned a lot about the publishing process as I went this first time around but there’s a lot of work and doubt involved when you’re doing something so large on your own. I’m hoping with my next project to find an agent that will help me along and let me relax a bit more.

9. Out of all the books you’ve read, which character have you most wanted to be?

This one is hard because I think we put ourselves into each book we read. I really think I’d most want to be Hermione from Harry Potter. Going to Hogwarts would be pretty spectacular and it’s hard not to fall in love with Ron’s character. Plus she has the best friends and knows everything. I was going to choose Pride and Prejudice because you know how I love some Mr. Darcy…I’m just not sure I could live without electricity and hot showers.

10. Anything else you’d like to say to the future readers of The Wolf Within?

Thank you! I would love to say that to each and every person that buys and reads this book. I’m just thrilled to have it out there for others to read and review. I’m looking forward to hearing what everyone thinks…both the good and the bad…I’ve come to realize it’s how we grow as writers. Receiving feedback is a necessary part of the process and I’m dying to know what everyone will think. Terrified and excited at the same time!



Thanks for the great interview Kristi!

The Wolf Within is due for release this Thursday, February 25th, and will be available from her publisher's online bookstore, Black Rose Books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million.

Kristi is hosting a fabulous contest, giving you a chance to win a prize pack for The Wolf Within! Prize Pack includes: an autographed copy of The Wolf Within, a $25 Barnes & Noble Giftcard AND a $5 Starbucks Giftcard. The winner will be announced Feb 25th, 2010!
Enter now on Kristi's blog! Also visit her blog for her blog tour schedule, and be sure to follow her if you don't already. Her posts are hilarious, inspiring, smart... I am proud to call her a friend! :)

Something To Look At Sunday

Just got back from a relaxing weekend at the lake, from which I will post pictures next Sunday as soon as I sift through the plethora of them that I took. But for today... Switchfoot concert photos!! I'm sure y'all are sick of hearing about them and are yelling BASTA (enough)! So, this should be my last Switchfoot bit until I see them again... which I'm sure will be a very long time from now (although, that's what I thought this past November :).

Tim Foreman. Yes, that's my hair on the right... I cropped myself out for posting... mostly because I was REALLY too excited when this picture was taken, and it's just not becomming. LOL.

Me and Jon Foreman. I regained composure SLIGHTLY for this one, but alas, it's not in focus. I'm convinced that 10 of the 20 pounds I'm trying to lose are in my cheeks!


Seabird - the opening band. VERY solid. My favorite song is "Don't you know you're beautiful."

Tim Foreman and Chad Butler (Chad will be on the cover of Drum Magazine in March!)

Jerome - he literally plays everything

Timmy again :)

A SUPER freaky picture of Jon that I just couldn't resist posting. I think it may give me nightmares.

This has been another Something to look at Sunday, and hopefully the last time I burden you with my Switchfoot obsession!! ;)

I hope everyone had a molto bene weekend!

Come back Monday for my interview with Kristi Chestnutt!

*All photographs are property of Kristin Rae and may not be used or duplicated without written permission.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

My Face is Missing


Switchfoot ROCKED my face off! There are no words to describe their utter awesomeness. Seriously, everyone must experience the wonder that is Switchfoot in person. Go to http://www.switchfoot.com/ to check out their tour dates and see if they will be in your city. The opening band, Seabird, was absolutely incredible as well. I was very pleased, and am looking forward to seeing them again one day. Such a great night!!!!


I had to get there pretty early for the meet and greet, but missing dinner was worth it. The boys were all so very nice - I brought along all the CD jackets of theirs I could find for them to sign, so now they look spectacular! My dad sort of tried to take pictures of me with Tim the bass player (the little guy on the right), and his brother, Jon, the singer (front and center), but they turned out a bit wonky. I'll get the photos from his camera soon and post some concert shots. We were in the THIRD ROW!! I had NO clue we'd be making eye contact with the guys all night. SO fun!! (I REALLY don't mean to sound braggy... I am just on cloud 9 at the moment.)
Moving along... everyone get ready for an interview next week with Kristi Chestnutt, author of the soon to be released novel, The Wolf Within! So excited!
*I must insert a disclaimer for my previous post - I do not speak fluent Italian, I am just learning :)
And this idea that I'm good at all sorts of things... see... I feel that I mislead some of you. I TRY many things... because I'm interested in WAY too many things!! Some things stick, some things don't. I will expand on this next week, because I really don't want to come across as someone flashing my paintings or new songs or new paragraphs around in everyone's faces saying, LOOK AT ME! So I do hope it never comes across that way. My brain is just overactive in the creativity deptartment (only with certain areas), it never shuts off. Sometimes it's hard for me to sleep because I can't stop thinking of song lyrics, the plot of a WIP, paintings I want to try.... I just have many interests, and I work hard at them. I'm glad I have y'all to share it with, and hope I don't step on any toes in the process! :)
I will be unplugged this weekend, back in full force on Monday with announcements!
Ti auguro una buona fine della settimana!

Friday, February 19, 2010

It's Friday! And the Ally Carter Book Signing!! (Molto Fantastico!)


Went to Ally Carter's signing last night here in Houston. She was delightful! Hilarious, inspiring, friendly! Everything you'd want an author to be when you go to an event.

There were quite a few young girls there (understandably), and my friend and I were amazed at the questions they asked. They were so insightful! Why wasn't I that smart when I was in junior high?! Must get a time machine programmed to 1997 and tell myself, "you ARE cool", and "you should really think about reading more". Maybe I would have started writing more seriously sooner. But what's done is done and everything happens because it's supposed to! So no "shoulda coulda woulda" from me!

A few points of interest from the evening, Ally mentioned how securing the Gallagher Girls series with the publisher was like them asking, "What's your favorite type of food?" "Pizza." "Well congratulations you get to eat pizza every night for the rest of your life!" And at first it's fantastic, but then you start to feel that you want to taste something else. That's where Heist Society came in to play. Inspired from a line she heard in an audio book she was listening to in her car. Something about a cat burglar. Then she knew she had to write a book about a burglar named Kat.

Her inspiration for the Gallagher Girls happened while she was half heartedly watching an episode of Alias (obsessed with that show! Miss it terribly!) with the TV on mute. She looked up from what she was doing just at the right moment that made her think, "Does that girl go to a boarding school for spies?" She unmuted and discovered she was very wrong, but the idea stuck.

Another interesting tidbit; a girl asked why we never see the girl's entire face on the cover of the Gallagher Girls books. She's a SPY that's why! And they originally wanted the first model to do all the covers, but she can't model again until her grades are up (hilarious!), and they've actually had a different model on each of the 4 covers done so far. The second book is a photoshopped face of the first girl on a different girl's body. HA! Marketing... which is also the reason the uniforms are a different color on each cover, so the reader could easily see which one was new.

She took the time to talk to every single person, and was very personable with the young girls, who were a bit star struck. She took photos, signed ALL the books they brought, asked everyone questions... it was such a joy to see an author signing done this way. I was already a fan of her work, but I'm even more so now a fan of her.

And yes, I did snag an extra signed copy for a GIVEAWAY!! I will probably announce it officially on Monday, or Tuesday (mio compleanno), so shhhhh!

Anyway! Tonight also has fun things in store, because I will get to meet these lovely boys again!!

Can't wait to shake their hands (after I wipe the sweat off of mine), and hopefully sneak a picture in with them since I wasn't able to last time... we'll see. THANKS FOR THE TICKETS DAD! Grazie papa! Sono molto eccitato! (I don't know why I feel the need to teach y'all Italian today! lol.)

Venerdi felice! (Happy Friday!)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ally Carter - Heist Society - Tonight!

Tonight (and tomorrow night), Ally Carter (The Gallagher Girls series) will be in Houston promoting the first book of her new young adult series, Heist Society. It sounds like a lot of fun! The film rights for this were snatched up VERY quickly, so that's exciting to hear about a new book! Buzz buzz buzz!! I'm anxious to hear what wisdoms Ally has to pass along!

From Goodreads:
When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her on a trip to the Louvre...to case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to Austria...to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own--scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. Unfortunately, leaving "the life" for a normal life proves harder than she'd expected.

Soon, Kat's friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring her back into the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has good reason: a powerful mobster has been robbed of his priceless art collection and wants to retrieve it. Only a master thief could have pulled this job, and Kat's father isn't just on the suspect list, he is the list. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat's dad needs her help.

For Kat there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back. So what if it's a spectacularly impossible job? She's got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully just enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in history-or at least her family's (very crooked) history.


Now, would any of you be interested in winning a signed copy of Heist Society in a contest if I get my hands on an extra one? First edition hardback! Let me know (today, please ;)!!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I'm Getting Lost in Austen

I don't know when it happened exactly. Well, maybe I do. In 2005, an amazing adaptation of Pride and Prejudice was released. Who knows how many times I went to see it in theaters. I bought it the day it came out on DVD, and watched it every night as I fell asleep. Hello Darcy.

I read the book, expecting to join the masses of women in the Austen craze. Didn't fancy it much. I'll just watch the movie, I said.

Then this past August, I started taking piano lessons (again), and by September I bought the songbook from the Pride and Prejudice soundtrack by Dario Marianelli, and am learning my third song from it. It's challenging, but I'm in love with it.

Then this past October, I read Austenland by Shannon Hale. Have any of you read it? I've seen quite a few bad reviews for it, but I absolutely FLIPPED over this book. I gobbled it up in just a couple of evenings. I never saw the twists coming! (By the way, Hale is writing a sequel!!)

Then around November, my mom introduced me to one of the most creative and hilarious takes on Pride and Prejudice yet. Lost in Austen. Yes, I've discussed this 3 hour BBC mini-series before, but it needs repeating because it's just THAT GOOD. Rent it, buy it, just WATCH IT, so Kristi and I aren't the only ones emailing each other back and forth, quoting it until all hours of the night. (Pictured is Darcy on the left, and Bingley on the right) -- We first meet Amanda Price in modern day London, reading her favorite book, Pride and Prejudice. She loves the language, the manners... it's given her standards that simply cannot be filled in her time. One night, she hears a noise in her bathroom of all places, and finds Elizabeth Bennett!! Amanda walks through the door and into Elizabeth's house, and Netherfield has just been let (at last!). She gets to live through the whole thing, but her presence has caused things to change. People start falling in love with the wrong people, marrying the wrong people... Amanda tries to make things follow the book (even though Elizabeth is still stuck in modern day London), but Darcy believes that everyone has become her instruments and that she is "quite possibly the instrument of Satan." This is not for the Jane Austen purist, because they do expand on a few storylines, but it's just that much more interseting. And HILARIOUS. --

Then I watched Colin Firth as Darcy in the 90's BBC version of Pride and Prejudice, and finally understood the scene in Lost in Austen where Darcy takes a dip in the pond. The whole thing seemed to drag a bit until the last segment, but it was good.

Then I watched Persuasion because a good friend of mine made me. I'm tempted to think she watches it almost daily. It was frustrating through most of it, but I enjoyed it by the end. Not sure if I'm interested in tackling the book, which as I understand, was published by Jane Austen's brother after she died. She probably didn't intend for it to get out (along with Northanger Abby).

Then I happened to catch the new Masterpiece version of Emma on PBS last month, and Oh My Gosh. Forget Darcy, bring on the Knightley! At first, I watched this show cringing, because as you all can see on my sidebar, according to the Jane Austen quiz, I am Emma Woodhouse. It's a scary thing, but I totally am. Not that I've gotten into the matchmaking bit, but I have definitely been known to speak out of turn (Badly done, Kristin! Badly done!), and having earned a degree in Sociology, I have this interest in learning about social classes and blocked opportunities and what not. It's fascinating to me. And this Emma, wheeeeew. "A young farmer, whether on horseback or on foot, is the very last sort of person to raise my curiosity. The yeomanry are precisely the order of people with whom I feel I can have nothing to do....But a farmer can need none of my help, and is therefore in one sense as much above my notice as in every other he is below it." Ouch! Quite the snob!! Hopefully this was not the trait that pegged me as Emma!! (Though I have been guilty of snobbery in the past, and sometimes may come across as such since I sometimes prefer to be alone as opposed to being social. Misconception, I say! - I should strive to be more like Melanie Hamilton Wilkes from Gone With the Wind... no one ever said "Badly done, Melanie! And yet, I identify with Scarlett so much more... eeeks!)

Last Sunday, Masterpiece played its 2007 version of Northanger Abby, which I'm still a bit miffed about. The ending was so abrupt... I find it hard to say if I liked it or not.

Now I'm reading Emma. The Masterpiece tie-in edition with this lovely cover:


So far, I am following it surprisingly well. I don't read literary type fiction, ever, mostly because I can't understand it. It's too... beyond my abilities. I don't usually like to think too hard when I read. Just give me mainstream fiction please, or young adult paranormals!! But I find Emma much easier to digest than Pride and Prejudice. My next Austen plan is to tackle Sense and Sensibility.

Tune in to Masterpiece on PBS, Sunday nights! I think this Sunday is Persuasion!

What about you? Are you addicted to Austen? Are you out of that phase? Are you avoiding the craze? Any Darcy lovers? Mr. Knightley? Mr. Tilney?

Monday, February 15, 2010

And Today I Shall Pretend I'm a Full-time Writer

I have great plans for today! Although I see it's already 10:45am and I have yet to actually write anything.... I've got serious revisions to do! The house is clean (mostly) so the only distractions I'll be fighting today are the blogs, my boxers (one is laying at my feet - momma's boy - and the girl is outside in the sunshine), and yes, the sunshine will also be taunting me today. I'm sure I'll take a break at some point and do a little bit of reading out on the deck! Oh and I just remembered I have my piano lesson tomorrow... so practicing for that must be done as well!

I've been watching a bit of the Olympics - recording it and just watching my favorite bits. Watching the pairs figure skating has been a tad hard for me, and I know watching the women's events next week will be even harder. Skating used to be such a huge part of my life, and I haven't been on the ice in probably 3 years. Of course, my mind tells me I can just go right out there and pick up where I left off, but my legs aren't what they used to be (the knee problem is, in fact, skating's fault to begin with), but I can't help thinking that if I could just GET ON THE ICE, I could have my axel back in a few weeks. My brain is that dumb. lol. And it's not even really the jumping I miss, it's the gliding, the spins, the ice dancing... (Now, I didn't get to be some great competitive queen - I was only just working on doubles when I moved off to school and there was no ice rink in town.) When I watch skating now, it zips me back to my life ten years ago, and I am just in shock at how quickly it has gone. How much everything has changed. I just... don't understand when it happened.

Anyway! Today is not a day for packing up the skates and driving 40 minutes to the old rink (though maybe next week???). It's a day for writing! I am armed with my movie scores (I have to listen to instrumentals beacuse if I hear songs with words, I will sing and do nothing else - music was my first love, you see), and I'm READY!

Does anyone else listen to movie musical scores while writing? My current favorites are Pride and Prejudice by Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by Nicholas Hooper, and Twilight by Carter Burwell. Which ones are your favorites? I'm always up for adding more to the list!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Something To Look at Sunday

Buon San Valentino!


In Italy, there is a seaside path that connects the five (cinque) towns of the Cinque Terre (five lands). The section between Riomaggiore and Manarola is called the Via dell'Amore (Lover's Street, or Pathway of Love).

Via dell'Amore was developed over the last century, originally during the contruction of the railway line. But it was quickly seen as a shortcut for villagers to walk between the towns, and for lovers to meet. Lovers would meet along the path, often painting amorous graffiti on the stone and tunnel walls. Some tourists are put off by it, but it's really all part of the history, and some of it is actually quite good.


The padlocks fastened onto cables and railings are symbols of eternal love. They are absolutely everywhere on the Manarola side of the trail. A hardware store in Riomaggiore sells the locks with this kissing symbol on it.
Hubs and I just happened to have an extra little lock in our backback to join in the festivities.


Here are some photos from the Cinque Terre and Via dell'Amore! Enjoy!

Locks, locks, and more locks!

A view of the main tunnel section of Via dell'Amore between Riomaggiore (where we stayed) and Manarola.

Manarola, where we ate:

The most amazing seafood and pesto ravioli EVER.

Vineyards.

Sunset over the Ligurian Sea.


Happy Valentine's Day!
Buon San Valentino!

*All photographs are property of Kristin Rae and may not be used or duplicated without written permission.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Things Are Already Looking Up

So, y'all know how down I've been feeling, and let me tell you, the outpouring of support has helped tremendously. I'm sticking to my diet (which means no guilt which means I can be proud which means ONE DAY in the FUTURE - however far away that may be - I will be able to buy SMALLER pants), I'm successfully revising one chapter a day of Between the Letters and am already getting GREAT useful feedback from my super fab online Kritique Group (not to be confused with my other Critique Group), AND to top it all off, I won my first blog contest!

Liz at Cleverly Inked hosted a fantastic 100 followers contest, giving away two signed books of Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore, and a $20 Barnes and Noble Gift Card. I won a signed book and the gift card!! SO excited! Seriously lifted my spirits... lots. If you want your spirits lifted (and want to win FREE stuff), check out my sidebar section under CONTESTS! for some current opportunities! People really do win those things!

Another great thing: THREE DAY WEEKENDS! President's day is Monday, and while I could save that day and use it elsewhere this year, methinks I need it now. I plan to be glued to my computer, revising and typing furiously (maybe I should disconnect the internet??). I may also want to enlist the hubby to help me clean the house between today and tomorrow so I won't be tempted to on Monday. Although, the forecast is Sunny, high of 52 low of 29... I do believe I'll have to do some vitamin soaking/reading out on the back deck for at least a couple of hours.

Does anyone else find it easy to get distracted when you sit down to write? What sort of things pull you away? And why exactly do we get distracted from writing in the first place? We LOVE writing! Is it a fear? Is it belief that when we sit down to write, we are ignoring too many other things (like the ring in the toilet) that should be tended to first? What is it that pulls you away most?

Friday, February 12, 2010

New Goals and Funky Moods

I apologize to the handful of you who enjoy the usual Fanged Friday edition to this blog, but I'm just not feeling it today. I enjoyed the episode (I enjoy any episode where Damon shows intense emotion and I am just WAITING for the day when he grabs Elena and kisses her and she LIKES it! lol.), but I'm just in one of those FUNKS.

This funk has been going on for several days - and I'm not sure if it's related to the things I've cut out of my diet (cheese, most chips, excess breads, tortillas, excess sweets, etc.), just being frustrated with my lack of progress in the weight-loss department in general, my writing anxieties, or all the rain we've been getting. Maybe it's a combo.

I'm kickin it up a few more notches, and setting more goals. Goals with no expiration dates.

In the weight loss world: I really need to be more positive. I've had a crappy attitude recently, very negative. A lot of people who are overweight struggle to get that last 10-15 pounds off, right? Well, what happens for those of us who are starting at that last 10-15 pounds? We can't get it off either!!! If any of you have any miracle solutions (cutting certain things out, eating certain other things, hours of exercise per week, etc) that worked for this, please share. I've gotten a personal trainer, I've cut down my calories, cut out certain foods as listed above... And I've lost 2 pounds. TWO POUNDS in two months. Can I tell? No. Did I recently just purchase the largest pants I've ever purchased in my life? Yes. Was I dangerously close to having a meltdown in the dressing room? Yes. I need help.

In the writing world: I've been ignoring my completed novel, Between the Letters, and I am feeling it. We've all heard about how many novels authors write before they get one published, and since this is my first - it took me four years, and I pretty much learned to write while writing it - I've convinced myself it wasn't going anywhere, and I ingored it. This is no way to be. It's a good story. I've been told it's a GREAT story. I owe it to my hard work to see it through to the agent rejections. And here is my plan:
It's roughly 30 chapters, most of them between 5-10 pages long. Each day, I am focusing on one chapter at a time, revising, making sure the verbs are ACTIVE, editing, giving my MC more personality, filling in gaps, deleting the crap.... I finished the prologue and chapter 1 lastnight, and I'm once again falling for my story. I think the 1 chapter a day pacing will keep me sane, and within a month, it should get to where it needs to be to submit. I'm starting to perk up already.

Anyway... sorry for the rant. I'm open to suggestions in the weight loss dept. Funny that once upon a time, I saw myself as the motivator for this. Yeah, that didn't last very long. lol!

*Please don't misunderstand - I'm a very thankful person. Thankful for general health, family and friends... freedom. I do understand that I am blessed at this time in my life, so please don't take offense to this post of a funky mood.

Happy Olympics and Valentine's Weekend!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Hunger Games 3 - Title, Release Date and Cover!

I can't even begin to tell y'all how anxious I am for this book to come out!
August 24, 2010


OOOO so purty!


What depresses me though, is the teeeeeny tiny writing on the very top that says:


THE FINAL BOOK OF THE HUNGER GAMES


For all that we're excited to know how it will end, it will be a sad day when we can't look forward to it anymore.


Is there another series that got you thirsting for more quite like this one? If there is, please share, because I'm on the hunt. I think we'll all need something to focus on, post-Hunger Games.



Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Review of The Dark Divine by Bree Despain

Last week, I finished reading this much-buzzed about debut, and I was not disappointed.

The Dark Divine by Bree Despain

Description from Goodreads:
Grace Divine, daughter of the local pastor, always knew something terrible happened the night Daniel Kalbi disappeared--the night she found her brother Jude collapsed on the porch, covered in his own blood--but she has no idea what a truly monstrous secret that night held.The memories her family has tried to bury resurface when Daniel returns, three years later, and enrolls in Grace and Jude's high school. Despite promising Jude she'll stay away, Grace cannot deny her attraction to Daniel's shocking artistic abilities, his way of getting her to look at the world from new angles, and the strange, hungry glint in his eyes.The closer Grace gets to Daniel, the more she jeopardizes her life, as her actions stir resentment in Jude and drive him to embrace the ancient evil Daniel unleashed that horrific night. Grace must discover the truth behind the boy's dark secret...and the cure that can save the ones she loves. But she may have to lay down the ultimate sacrifice to do it--her soul.

My Thoughts:
What a fantastic debut! First of all, kudos to the cover designer. Incredible. I'll admit, that was the first thing that caught my attention about this book when I first spotted it in the Goodreads Giveaways.
Well done Despain! The writing pulls you in, the characters are fully developed, the mythology and religion are perfectly incorporated. This is one interesting story.
Daniel is exactly the bad boy every girl loves to be attracted to - the way he is introduced to the story... well, you just have to read it for yourself. Grace, the main character, is completely believable. The reader really sympathizes with the decisions she's faced with - should she side with her brother, or her love? Who can she believe? Why is her father, a much-loved pastor and aid to the community, acting so strangely? Half the time, the reader doesn't even know what to believe or who to trust, and that kept me turning the pages pretty quickly.

I did not see the twist toward the end coming. At all. Didn't suspect it one bit. And I love a book that can surprise. It's clean, it's exciting, it's heart-pounding and sweetly romantic at times.

I think The Dark Divine is a stand-out in it's paranormal young adult category, and I highly recommend it for anyone who's thinking about adding it to their list.

5/5 - Amazing

Monday, February 8, 2010

Interview with Jennifer Hubbard - Author of The Secret Year!

I recently had the opportunity to interview Jennifer Hubbard, author of The Secret Year! I've read it, and all I can tell you is that it's certainly one to put on your list for 2010.

Before we get to the interview, here is the description from Goodreads, for those of you who are unfamiliar with The Secret Year:

Seventeen-year-old Colt has been sneaking out at night to meet Julia, a girl from an upper-class neighborhood unlike his own. They’ve never told anyone else about their relationship: not their family or friends, and especially not Julia’s boyfriend.When Julia dies suddenly, Colt tries to cope with her death while pretending that he never even knew her. He discovers a journal she left behind. But he is not prepared for the truths he discovers about their intense relationship, nor to pay the price for the secrets he’s kept.

1. Congratulations on the release of The Secret Year! How does it feel to actually see your labor of love published and in the hands of readers?

Thank you! It is wonderful to have the book out there. At the same time, it’s a new experience to have my work discussed on the internet by people I’ve never met. I enjoy the email I’ve received from readers.

2. Did you write other novels before The Secret Year that didn’t survive the path to publishing?

Absolutely. I think this true of most writers. Most of my early projects were not yet good enough to be published, and didn’t make it past a first or second draft. I learned to write a novel by practicing!

3. Your main character, Colt, is a sixteen/seventeen year old boy dealing with intense emotions that he has to keep to himself. Was it difficult to find his voice, especially writing outside of your own gender?

No, his voice was there from the beginning, and I never considered writing from any other point of view. Having grown up with male friends, reading male writers, having a father and husband and stepson in my life, a male voice doesn’t seem foreign to me. When I look at my writing, about half of my first-person narrators are male and half are female. Honestly, I don’t even feel that the primary filter of my own life is one of gender; I feel like a person first.

4. What are your interests outside of writing? Do you ever feel guilty ignoring writing too long to do something else, or vice versa?

I like walking and hiking; I make sure to do that every day. I like reading, traveling, music. No, there’s never enough time for everything I want to do, but I believe that’s true of most people. In a way, it’s a nice problem to have: there are so many things I’m interested in, that I want to do, the trouble is finding time for them all.

5. Many of us follow Nathan Bransford’s blog, and even participated in the contest he hosted to promote The Secret Year. What’s it like working with one of the blogging community’s favorite literary agents?

Nathan’s blog is a great mix of practical advice and an entertaining style. Of course, blogging and building his client list are only one part of what he does as an agent, most of which is behind the scenes—the career planning, the negotiations, etc. I’ve been very happy with him, and I think we work together well.



Thank you for your time, Jennifer. It was a pleasure!

For more information, follow Jennifer on livejournal at writerjenn.
Look for The Secret Year in your local bookstore, or purchase online.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Something to Look at Sunday

I love cold weather. I really do. But I think the time has come to say goodbye. Who's ready for those Spring flowers?! Who's ready for the warmth of the sun on their cheeks? Who's ready to embrace those seasonal allergies with a new box of Calratin and a bottle of Sinex?!

In the words of Spongebob Squarepants, I'M READY!

To get us all thinking happy thoughts about the upcoming season, here are some photos I took last Spring at my favorite plant nursery... sigh.


Foxgloves




Decorative Yard Mushrooms


This has been another Something to Look at Sunday!
Be sure to check in tomorrow for my interview with the author of The Secret Year, Jennifer Hubbard!

*All photographs are property of Kristin Rae and may not be used or duplicated without written permission.