Monday, June 13, 2016

I'm Back! And I've got NEWS!

My actual face RIGHT NOW.
mom hair + crazy eyes = aggressive happiness
Hi, there. Did ya miss me, Interwebs? 'Cause I missed you!

A quick glance through my blog will show, I've been gone for a while. There's a good reason for that. Let me update you on where I've been and what I've been doing.

Growing Family, Moving Forward
In 2013, I had a baby! And in 2015 I had another one! My boys are both walking, talking toddlers and I absolutely love motherhood (but also I am exhausted and a basket case 97% of the time). But the arrival of my tiny humans meant a big shift in my time and priorities. While I never gave up my creative writing, I did have to sacrifice how much time I put into blogging and writing book reviews. I've kept up my reading though (thanks to the miracle of audiobooks). And you can check out what I've been reading on Goodreads.

On top of that, we moved from Fayetteville, North Carolina to Long Island, NY, taking a much needed 34-day road trip + Alaskan cruise in between homes. Our goal was to live in Manhattan, but we wound up in Nassau County, where we've settled pretty happily. Our first northeastern winter was kind to us, if long. And we're an easy 40-minute train ride into the city when we want to go. After we got here, we made a surprising, but exciting, decision for Ray (my husband) to stay in the Army until he retires. This was never our original goal. But things are changing. God has led us on a very different adventure than the one we thought we were setting out on. Our long, long term plans are the same as they were before. For now our plans are for him to finish his master's degree and become a chaplain in the next few years and finish out his 20 years ministering to the military. Which leads me to...

Educational Milestones
I'm proud to announce that after nearly ten years of work in five states, I have finally finished my Bachelor's Degree (in Theology and Biblical Studies in case you're curious). My last class ended in December 2015. But I was able to walk with my class and attend the most random commencement ceremony (complete with weird celebrity cameos and a fire show) at Liberty University in May 2016 (you can see some of my posts about this madness on Twitter). Having been homeschooled for high school, I'd never had a proper graduation ceremony. So this was a Huge Deal for me and my family. I'm hanging my graduation cap in my house and framing my official photos. It was an amazing experience. But most of all I'm so happy happy happy to be DONE. I'm going to be putting this degree to work more and more over then next few years. But that's another topic for another day. Right now, I'm primarily a SAHM with a raging passion for stories. This brings me to...

Creative Projects
I started this blog when I decided to get serious about my writing four-ish years ago. I wanted to make a career of it, and I still do. The project I was working on back then (a dystopian spy novel I adore), though, has sadly been placed on the back burner. I have every intention of returning to it, but not until I'm ready. I'm not ready (read: not smart enough). I've stayed engaged in writing groups and critique partnerships since I started with them seven years ago. My love of writing and storytelling has only grown as I've engaged with other authors, poets, songwriters, artists, dancers, and actors over the years. For a while, I spent more time critiquing and editing others' stories. While I loved doing that, my soul longed to have the time to get back to writing my own stories. I kept notes for all of my Ideas while I was finishing school and running back and forth between playdates and writers meetings. But I had no dedicated time to write.

Well, school's over, baby. And the very first thing I did when I finished was dived headlong into a novel I've been brewing for five years, maybe longer. And I'm happy to say #FantasyNovel is 50,000 words long already. I don't want to talk about it too much, but if you're curious, you can take a peek at my inspiration board on Pinterest which is basically what my brain looks like on the inside. I am constantly living in this world I'm creating, and it's wonderful, and I can't wait to share it with you. But for now, I've keeping it pretty close to the vest. All I want now is to finish it.

I've spent a lot of years getting into projects and not completing them. It's the curse of the ENFP. Jack of all trades, master of none. This is a new year for me. I finished my bachelor's. I finished Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred (and I'm still going every day). I want to change my life. So I'm changing my habits. I write every day (usually during my youngest's nap time). I'm writing in a straight line, scene after scene, not relying on the muse to fuel my creativity. I believe writing is an art and a craft. The art is the easy, inspired part. The craft is the hard, diligent part. I'm learning both. I'm doing both.

On top of my writing, I've recently released some old music on online. Since having kids, my music has taken a huge backseat to everything else in my life. But upon arriving in NY and getting involved in my church's band, I find myself getting back into it. I've missed it. I have another record I never shared with the public that I intend to upload soon. I'll be sure to let you know.

Where to find me:
Truth is, I've been all over the Internet in the past few years. I just haven't been here. Whenever I get a free moment or chunk of uninterrupted time (i.e.: nap time!), I use it to write my novel. But I'm committing to dropping in here more often now. In the meantime, check me out on my other homes on the web.

I'm on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Goodreads, Bandcamp (if you wanna listen to me) and Spotify (if you wanna listen to what I'm listening to). Let's be friends.

So, tell me what's up with you. I really have missed you. <3

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Getting Started with Audiobooks

Okay, if you want to start listening to audiobooks, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve been addicted to audiobooks for about 4 years now. And since having kids, it’s become my primary method of reading. I’m happy to impart everything I’ve learned about finding great audiobooks with you.
1. Download the Overdrive app to your phone IMMEDIATELY. Overdrive will connect you to your local library's digital library. Through the app you can instantly download audiobooks, ebooks, and even some movies to your phone FOR FREE. I use Overdrive basically every day. I always check if I can get a audiobook on Overdrive before I buy it on Audible. Because FREE!!! 
2. Go to your local library. There you can find hundreds of books on CD or with their own individual media players that you can check out. I've listened to tons of books like this as well. Great resource.
3. Check out which is a program that offers 2 free audiobooks a week for 15 weeks each summer. That's 30 free audiobooks. These are a mix of fiction, nonfiction, classics, and newer releases, mostly geared to interest young readers (teens) but not all YA books at all. You have a one week window to download the 2 books if you want them or not if you don’t. 
4. Spotify has a category at the bottom of their genre/moods page called "Word" where you can listen to ALL KINDS OF THINGS. Classics, poetry, nonfiction, language studies, fairy tales, mythology, self-help, guided meditation, and on and on and on. It's awesome. I just browsed through there and want to listen to everything. 
5. allows you to listen (or record!) to books that are part of the public domain. Their website is full of classics, poetry, and the like that other normal avid readers like you have recorded for the world to enjoy in audio format. 
6. Free Audiobook apps provide a similar service. These are filled usually with official recordings of classics and older books in the public domain. These can be find easily doing a search for “free audiobooks” in your phone’s app store. 
If you try some of these formats and discover—as many do—that audiobooks are AMAZING and you want to try more that aren’t available for free, then a membership may be right for you. I’ll try to keep this brief. 
7. Audible is my preferred audiobook membership website/app (but it is not the only one. offers a similar deal but I have no experience with it). When you start with Audible you get 1 or 2 free audiobooks when you sign up depending on their promotions at the time which usually means you get the first month or two free. A standard membership is $15/mo which gets you one book/mo (1 credit = 1 audiobook). Since audiobooks costs upwards of $20 each, it's a better deal than paying full price. The other plans are (rounded out) $23/mo for 2 credits, $150/year for 12 all at once, or $230 for 24 all at once. These are then digital books you own forever and can download or delete from your device but always remains in your library (unless you return it—they do have a pretty great return policy).
There are other benefits to and Audible membership: On top of your credits, membership gives you access to their entire catalog of books at a discount. So if you spend your credit, then you can buy whatever other books you want still at a cheaper price than normal. You also have access to their sales, which they run often. They have daily deals. Sometimes they run 2-for-1 or 3-for-2 sales where you get more than 1 book per credit. I LOVE those. Sometimes they have $5 sales or whatever. (It is always important to see if the cost of the book is less than your monthly fee because you don't want to buy something available to you at $11 with your $15 credit. The best example of this is children's books. Most of those are less than $10. But the default for purchases is that it takes from your credit first. You just have to uncheck that option before buying.)
Another cool thing is Audible is an Amazon company. So a lot of books are able to be linked between Audible and Kindle with what they call WhisperSync. So you own, say, Pride and Prejudice in Kindle format, you can get the Audible version significantly marked down (or vice versa, although it’s important to buy them in the right order, usually Kindle then Audible). This is a great way to get a lot of classic books for free. I always check prices on things marked as WhisperSync. Sometimes I can pay a few bucks for the ebook and a few bucks for the audio and together they're cheaper than my credit. Then on your device you can switch between the audio and ebook formats, and it will sync up with wherever you left off in the other format. Very cool.  
8. Recommendations for beginners (from my actual listening experience): 
-Mysteries/Thrillers: Girl on the Train, Gone Girl, and Fight Club (that’s a thriller sort of, right? I don’t even know) were both excellent listens. 
-Sci Fi/Fantasy: Illuminae, Ready Player One, Armada, Chronicles of Narnia (BBC full cast audio), Ender’s Game Alive, and Outlander (which counts as fantasy apparently, but I’d still shelve it with my historical fiction, I think. Or romance Whatever.). Also The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender and the entire Harry Potter series (obviously), and The Night Circus. Also and especially The Lunar Chronicles, The Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy, and The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (these YA books are not merely great listens but personal favorites of mine which I hope you love). I could probably stay in this category forever.
-Memoir/Autobiography: Rob Lowe’s two memoirs Stories I Only Tell My Friends and Love Life both moved me to tears and satisfied me need for insider Hollywood information. Other great listens are those by Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling, Shonda Rhimes, Nora Ephron, and Elizabeth Gilbert (specifically Big Magic which might not be considered a memoir but is amazing). 
-Literary: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, The Time-Traveler’s Wife, The Help, The Book of Speculation <3 <3 <3
-Contemporary: Me Before You, Fangirl, Eleanor & Park, Silver Linings Playbook, All the Bright Places, The Fault in Our Stars, The Royal We, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (series). 
-Historical: Code Name Verity, The Book Thief, Salt to the Sea <insert weeping emoji here>
-Classics: The Importance of Being Ernest, Sherlock Holmes, Shakespeare. (I’m not offering particular versions here because I’ve heard several. But trust me, it’s great to hear these particularly read/performed. Just start trying it out!)
If you’re stuck for ideas, here’s my GREAT AUDIOBOOKS Goodreads shelf. I’m particular about what gets listed there.
So tell me, do you listen to audiobooks? Give me some recommendations! And feel free to ask any questions if something I wrote doesn't make sense.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Why I Love The Raven Cycle | Blue Lily, Lily Blue ARC Contest

The reasons I love Maggie Stiefvater's series The Raven Cycle are innumerable. But I am supposed to write only one. So here's my number 1:

When I read The Raven Cycle, I'm overwhelmed in the best possible ways. Overwhelmed by characters that feel achingly real, that I wish I was a part of myself. Overwhelmed by Henrietta, a places that feels realer than almost any of the real places I've been. Overwhelmed by the mystery and intrigue, legends, and adventure, and ooooooh. Overwhelmed by Maggie's unique ability to balance people and plot and prose delicately and purposefully. It is a heady experience, getting lost in a series of this magnitude.

So obviously, a Blue Lily, Lily Blue ARC is something I could really use in my life.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Dreams of Gods and Monsters | Book Review

Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

SIX STARS = The Wishbone of Goodness.

Once upon a time, a girl and book fell in love, and their love broke the space-time-continuum of emotions.

A review. That's all that remains. To sit down and write the things this book made me feel. And oh, did I feel. And these--my feelings--were hopes and dreams, wrapped in ribbons and adorned with wings with which they flew above and so far beyond all I could have imagined.

But where to begin? How to express the things one thinks about the thing one loves most of all? How to pull apart all the pieces of the whole and explain how each bit shines where it stands alone and explodes where it fits together? This story, these characters, this writer bends and blends and breaks and remakes and opens and breathes and gives light. Life.

It is magic.

It is song.

It is words and words and words. Words like oceans spilling over mountains. Words like caverns undiscovered and unknown. People and places and plots and prose. Wonderful and wonderful and wonderful forever.


{Yes, that is my imitation of LT. Shhh.}


Color Me: I'M IN LOVE I'M IN LOVE AND I DON'T CARE WHO KNOWS IT!!!!! Laini Taylor ends this trilogy in a way fits with the first two books, resolves the most important story lines, and wholly pleases fans (at least this one).

Writing Technique: ★★★★1/2 I'm in love with LT's purple prose. It is very purple though. I love how she can take a moment, explode it, look at it from every angle, and then bring it back to the present. Her omniscient yet limited-revealing narration is incredible. Her voice is so strong it gets into my soul and alters the way I view the world. I love it. I only knock off half a star because toward the end, I wanted to have more plot points explained when she was delicately taking apart and reconstructing moments of time.

Character Development: ★★★★★ Karou. Sigh. Akiva. Siiigh. Zuzana, Mik, Ziri. Sigh. Liraz. SIIIIIIIIIIGH. The character arcs (over the course of the series) for these people are amazing. How they grow and change. Overcome prejudices. Find redemption. Start of revolution/new world. Discover love. Endure suffering. It's just beautiful. At about the 80% mark, Liraz was having a huge developmental moment, I just had to lay down on the floor and cry. So yeah. Five stars.

Plot/Story Development: ★★★★1/2 HOLY. Everything I wanted to happen in this book happened and more. There was love, war, betrayal, alliances, comeuppance, and kissing. I mean, really it was stupendous! I kept clapping my hands and saying "yay!" and then occasionally going "OMG OMG OMG what are you doing?!" And I love when that happens. When we got past the major plot problem though, and there were still 3 hours left on the audiobook, I was like--ummmm there's more? I was glad to see how the side stories came to unfold as well.

Message/Theme: ★★★★★ Love. Epic love. World-breaking and world-remaking love. But also Hate. War, Prejudice, Tyranny, Revolution, Life/Death/Resurrection, Second Chances, Family, Friendship, Allies/Enemies, Fate, Forgiveness, Vengeance, redemption, and as always HOPE HOPE HOPE.... All kinds of wonderful beautiful things.

Audiobook Performance: ★★★★★ Khristine Hvam. This chick is awesome. READ ALL THE THINGS, KH!!!

Rating: PG-13 for violence, language, and sensuality

Overall: ★★★★★ I waited a year and a half for this book. And it was worth it. Best conclusion of a trilogy I have EVER read. And I have read SOOOOOO many. I never would have dreamed a story like this would be something I'd love so much. But somehow, it has become my favorite series.


BONUS CONVO: So do we think the ending of this book opens the door for other stories to be told in this universe (possibly with some of these same characters)??? Because it sure as heckfire sounds like there will be more.... I WANT MORE STORIES! I want more stories more than Zuzana wants chocolate cake. I want more stories more than Karou wants "cake for later"... well, almost as much. Karou deserves her "cake for later" right now. Sigh.


We dreamed together of the world remade.

View all my reviews

Friday, February 28, 2014

Vampire Academy | Book Review

Vampire Academy
Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was recommended to me YEARS ago by a good friend, and I just kept putting it off. (Vamps went out of fashion, ya know. And I was trying to keep up with the fads. Are we over dystopias yet?) Anyway, now I'm pissed I put it off so long AND that I missed the movie while it was in theaters! Boo hiss.

Color Me: Bitten and Smitten. I reeeeeeally liked this book. I'm actually completely in likes with this book.

Writing Technique: ★★★1/2 Mead's got good style. I like it. Her pacing is phenomenal. Her prose is clean and engaging, not overdone or over-the-top (which, in the hands of someone else, it totally could have been). A solid B in technique with extra credit points for writing in first person but having a reasonable way of writing about things the narrator shouldn't be able to know. (That Rose-Lissa mind-bond business was actually a great idea.)

Character Development: ★★★★ I can just let out a raging WHOOP at a heroine who isn't a reactionary dyed in the wool introvert?! I'm sooooo bored of introverts. Rose is legit hilarious. Sassy and smart-mouthed and okay...kind of a bitch (character flaw!). She doesn't wait for things to happen. She makes things happen. She's driven... and NOT BY BOYS (for the most part). Her motivation is her super(naturally) close relationship with her best friend. In fact, their friendship is awesome. Not perfect. But very admirable. i loved this chick. I loved watching her grow up and take responsibility and learn... stuff. Also Lissa (the best friend) had some growing and learning to do too. I liked her, but she's mostly a quiet introvert time and blahblahblah. Although to be fair, she did some crazy dark ish in a power craze. So yeah...

Plot/Story Development: ★★★1/2 We got lore, we got legends, we got a weird vocab that has a lot of -oi words. But I bought it. Great world building here. Suspense. Stakes. Foreshadowing. Plot twists. I thought it was fun, if a little predictable. While some storylines were closed, others were left open to be explored, I assume, in the following books. Yay.

Message/Theme: ★★★ Friendship, and the lengths we'll go to for those we love. Also mental illness, depression, self-harm, darker natures. And--YA classic tropes--the power of juicy gossip, the craze of raging hormones, and the inevitable journey of self-discovery.

Overall: ★★★★ Mostly because I really couldn't put it down. It was addicting. The story itself might have been a little lean. But it was tight. And funny. And different than other paranormal stories. Not really a romance. And I was surprised and delighted. Four delicious stars.

NOW I MUST GO SEE THE MOVIE. But I think it looks awesome.

Recommendation: The SHIVER series by Maggie Stiefvater (duh. obviously, but not really because they are super similar.)

View all my reviews

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Tiny Tiny's First Christmas | A Short Story

It's cold. Tiny Tiny's mocha-colored skin had the goosebumps to prove it. He had been displeased by the temperature since his birth six months earlier. Somehow it was never quite right—too hot or too cold always. But now it was especially unpleasant. The Milk Woman—“Mommy,” as she called herself—dressed Tiny Tiny in long sleeves which were difficult to get on. Tiny Tiny was used to his arms being pulled this way and that. But now he was also wearing pants which was not as much fun as not wearing pants. Also when he had to get his diaper changed, it was always so brrrrr across his parts. It made him shiver and yell and squirm even more throughout the process—and occasionally he would sprinkle straight up in the air on The Milk Woman and himself, which was actually kind of funny.
     The Milk Woman said, “Ooooh, it's so cool outside, baby,” every single day. Then she’d say, "I can't believe it's winter already. Geez." They didn’t go outside pretty much at all. Which was how it’d been since he was born, and both he and The Milk Woman actually kind of prefered it that way. But if they did go outside, they liked it to be the eyes-closed kind of day—yellow everywhere, too bright to see anything. Sunny, she called it.
     Last week, they did go outside. It was a strange place Tiny Tiny had never been to before—and not sunny at all. They went with The Hairy Man—“Daddy” is what The Milk Woman called him (as well as “Husband” and “Lover” and “Hey” and “What’s for dinner?”). Tiny Tiny clung to The Milk Woman’s shoulder and shirt collar as they followed The Hairy Man through a room full of big green things.
     “This one?” The Hairy Man asked.
     “No. It’s too short,” The Milk Woman replied.
     “It’s not short,” he said.
     “It’s like seven feet. It’s barely bigger than you,” she said and shifted Tiny Tiny a few inches on her hip.
     Tiny Tiny succeeded in grabbing a fistful of The Milk Woman’s hair and pulled it to his mouth. It tasted awful. But he couldn’t stop trying to eat it. The Milk Woman pried his fingers open and offered him her hand to play with instead. He stared at it in fascination and then bit eagerly. It wasn’t so bad. It felt good on his gums. But where was the milk?
     “What about this?” The Hairy Man said.
     “I guess that’s not bad. What do you think, baby?” She snapped her fingers by his head, and his eyes flicked toward the sound. In front of him was a huge green thing that looked like it wanted to be touched. So he reached out. It was spiky, but didn’t hurt. Pokey, but not prickly. He liked it. He wanted to eat it.
     “That’s a Christmas tree, baby. You like it?”
     He did like it. He grasped a branch and pulled it toward his mouth, going cross-eyed with the effort. The Milk Woman laughed and pried his fingers away.
     “I guess this is the one.”
     Tiny Tiny suddenly realized he had a hand right there, his hand, and it was fascinating and he touched one with the other and held them and put them to his mouth where drool was spilling out and pooling on his onesie. They tasted weird. Not like his hands normally tasted at all. He spit his tongue out and tried to lick the flavor away before sticking his hands back in. Agh! That was worse. It tasted…green.
     “Did you smell the Christmas tree, Tiny Tiny?”
     The Milk Woman leaned his face toward the tree. He reached for it again. And when he breathed, it smelled like the taste on his hands. It smelled green. It was a strange smell. But not bad. But not good either. He crinkled his nose and furrowed his brow and puckered his lips and gurgled. The Milk Woman laughed, and he looked at her confused and touched her face and smiled and laughed and tried to grab her hair and eat it.
     “Yay, baby! We have a Christmas tree for your very first Christmas. Isn’t that fun?!” The Milk Woman sang. And Tiny Tiny was warm and happy and smelled green like the tree for ten whole minutes until he fell asleep to the sound of The Hairy Man tying the tree to the roof of the car.


This Christmas thing was apparently a big deal, Tiny Tiny quickly learned. The tree came into their house. The Hairy Man carried it all by himself while The Milk Woman carried Tiny Tiny and shouted happily at The Hairy Man all way up the stairs and inside. They played with the tree and dressed it up. And after many hours of tinkering and singing with the radio, The Milk Woman hoisted Tiny Tiny up to see something amazing. The tree now had lights. Glowy twinkly lights. Some were white. Some were other colors. And there were fuzzy white things hanging there. Yep, fuzzy white things. Shiny red things. Sparkly, glittery, dangly things. Thing and things everywhere, all over the tree—all looking very much like they wanted to be grabbed and eaten. Tiny Tiny reached and touched, but The Milk Woman moved before he could get a good hold on anything. So he patted her chest and squealed.


Soon more colors arrived. A man came to the door over and over and brought The Milk Woman boxes.The Hairy Man took the boxes—some as big as Tiny Tiny—and wrapped them in pretty blue paper and pretty red paper and pretty green paper, and then he stuck bows on top—silver and white and red. The boxes were stacked under the tree messily where The Milk Woman looked at them frequently and smiled. And Tiny Tiny looked at her frequently and smiled.


They went outside again one day. This time it was Tiny Tiny, The Milk Woman, The Hairy Man, and Smiley Friend. Smiley Friend—“Caitlin,” The Milk Woman called her—came over to Tiny Tiny’s house all the time and watched the big screen with The Milk Woman and talked happily and bounced Tiny Tiny on the big orange ball. She smelled nice. On the day they went outside, Smiley Friend held a black thing to her face for several hours while Tiny Tiny, The Milk Woman, and The Hairy Man smiled at her and laughed and played. They let him sit in a cool box that looked like one from under the tree at home. He tried to eat it. They let him play with a bow. He tried to eat that too. They put a hat on his head that was red and white and felt funny. The Milk Woman wore a red hat that bounced on her head. The Hairy Man wore a green and red one with fake ears. They looked funny, but they still smelled right. They kissed his cheeks. They tickled his sides. They tossed him in the air. They passed him back and forth and smiled and laughed and cheered for him. And Smiley Friend kept the black box by her face and said, “Perfect!” and “Beautiful!” and “Look over here, baby!” and “Tiny Tiny! What’s that?! Boo!” and “Say cheeeeeeese!” all the time. When they were finally done, The Milk Woman held Tiny Tiny close and kissed his nose, eyelids, cheeks, lips, ear, and neck and said, “You’re such a good boy, baby. You did so good for the pictures. I’m so proud of you. Way to go, buddy. Mommy loves you so much. Yes, she does. Yes, she does. You’re so freaking beautiful,” like she always does. Tiny Tiny grunted that he was tired and cold and ready to go home, but first he wanted some milk. He’d earned it. So The Milk Woman gave him milk, and he fell asleep in her arms.


One day, The Milk Woman woke Tiny Tiny with a big smile and the words, “It’s Christmas Eve, baby!” With that, The Milk Woman chattered away, eliciting smiles and giggles from Tiny Tiny who just loved to hear her voice. The words “Christmas Eve” were repeated over and over throughout the day. He didn’t know what it was, but it felt fun and happy and special. The Milk Woman spent the day singing with the radio and dancing with Tiny Tiny around the living room.
     At one point, she dipped his feet in something bright and wet and tried to press them on a glass ball. Tiny Tiny squirmed and groaned and tried to grab his toes. The Milk Woman squealed, “Don’t touch the paint, baby! We have to put footprints on these ornaments for Grammy and Nanny.” She called The Hairy Man over to help, and he held Tiny Tiny’s arm’s still while she worked. It was messy. The wet bright color got all over Tiny Tiny and The Hairy Man and The Milk Woman until she finally gave up, laughing, and put the baby in the bathtub.


Tiny Tiny loved bath time. He splashed and kicked and sucked on the washcloth and bit the little yellow duck The Milk Woman offered him. It was warm and nice in the tub. When he finally got out, The Milk Woman cuddled him in his blue monkey towel and dressed him in his favorite pajamas. “Now you smell all clean for Nanny,” she said. Tiny Tiny didn’t know what that meant. But he liked being all clean anyway.
     The Hairy Man left by himself at one point and when he returned, there was someone new with him. She was short with red hair and a big smile for Tiny Tiny. The Milk Woman handed him over immediately and said, “Remember Nanny?” Tiny Tiny let the new lady hold him. She was soft and warm and he wanted to grab her hair and eat it. So he did.
     “Did you miss Nanny?” Red Hair Lady asked, covering his face with kisses. He tried to grab her lips, but she just kissed his palms and cuddled him for a long time while she talked to The Milk Woman and The Hairy Man until he was cranky and hungry and tired and they all went to bed.


The next morning, The Hairy Man got up first. Tiny Tiny could hear voices from his place in the bed next to The Milk Woman who still slept. He grunted and reached for her face. He patted her chest and she smiled. Shifting him up on the pillow by her face, she kissed his nose and said, “Merry Christmas, baby.” He patted her cheek and gurgled happily. They joined the voices in the living room which turned out to be The Hairy Man and Red Hair Lady.
     “Good morning,” Red Hair Lady said.
     “Merry Christmas,” The Hairy Man said. He gave Tiny Tiny a kiss on the head and The Milk Woman a kiss on the lips.
     Everyone was chattering cheerily, and Tiny Tiny joined in, to everyone’s delight. Finally they sat him on the floor near the tasty green tree and gave him a box. He loved the box. It was as big as him and pretty colors. He slapped at it and bit at it and loved it a lot. The Milk Woman tore at the pretty colors. It make an amazing sound that scared Tiny Tiny at first then thrilled him. He grabbed a piece of the paper and tugged, ripping it further. He was so excited to have such a pretty noisy piece of something to eat. Everyone watched him and laughed. The Hairy Man held the black box to his face and made noises. The Milk Woman tore the pretty paper away from the box and opened it and revealed toys inside! Bright noisy toys to play with. They were harder to grab and eat than the paper or the box. But he still loved them. They did this several times—played with paper and opened boxes and discovered toys and books and clothes inside—until he was surrounded by a mountain of gifts and he squealed in approval and exhaustion.
     The Milk Woman, The Hairy Man, and Red Hair Lady got things too. They didn’t seem to love the paper as much as Tiny Tiny, but they smiled and laughed at their gifts and made a mess of their boxes too. The Hairy Man turned on the screen and a picture danced before them and he heard the word “Christmas” over and over again. The Milk Woman played with Tiny Tiny and his new toys while The Hairy Man made loud noises and weird smells in the kitchen.
     “Daddy’s making a turkey,” The Milk Woman said. “And sweet potatoes. And green beans. What else are we having, hon?” she asked toward the kitchen.
     “Biscuits,” The Hairy Man said to her.
     “Biscuits!” she said to me.
     “And apple pie.”
     “Apple pie? We love apple pie, don’t we, baby?”
     Tiny Tiny didn’t care about apple pie, but he loved The Milk Woman and The Hairy Man and Red Hair Lady. And with all the lights and smells and boxes and paper and laughs and smiles and music and holiday cheer, Tiny Tiny thought he really loved Christmas too.
     The sun set on Christmas day, and when Tiny Tiny closed his eyes and fell asleep next to The Milk Woman, he dreamed of red paper with white snow flakes on it and the crinkle it made and the way he could stuff it in his mouth. He laughed in his sleep.
     And Tiny Tiny was perfectly happy on his very first Christmas ever.

Tiny Tiny’s First Christmas
By Dana J. Moore
Written December 2013

Author's note: I decided last year that I would write my son (and whatever future children I may have) a Christmas story every year. This is the first of them all. It is a fictionalization of things that Wash actually did experience throughout his first holiday season. It doesn't have the traditional plot escalation stories usually do (and should have). But that wasn't the point of this tale. As a first time mom, I just wanted to document what I saw my baby experience for the very first time. Every day is amazing for me because I get to watch him discover the world a little more. Even more so at Christmas. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Fangirl | Book Review

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's been so long since I wrote a review, I'm not sure I remember how to do it.

JK! LOL! (ironic) (also not)

Color Me: Fan4Life. Rainbow Rowell has won me over. If I loved Eleanor & Park, I LOVE-LOVE-LOVED Fangirl.

Let's get one thing straight. I have been a superfan of a great many things, but I have never been a fan of fan-fiction. Ever. As a writer, I have far too many of my own stories clawing to get out than I have urges to steal/borrow/manipulate others'. I can also say that boy-on-boy fanfic, particularly about non-gay characters, particularly particularly written by straight teenage one of the things I just do not get about the universe. (Will and Jem? No. Sherlock and John? Never. Dean and Cas? Stop ruining things!)

That said, Rowell's coming-of-age dramedy/romcom about antisocial college freshman/online fanfic superstar Cath was a tiny taste of heaven that entirely consumed my world for 48 hours straight. I could not put this story down (read: could not stop listening to this audiobook) even though I had my own college assignments to work on (and still do even as I type this).

Writing Technique: ★★★★1/2 Rowell has a way with a words. A very serious way. I love it. I love the expression "skimming the surface of reality." I love that she writes freaking brilliant, hilarious dialogue (see below). I love that all of her characters truly have their own voices. I love that this fiction about a writer of fanfiction of a fake fiction included that fake fiction and fake fanfiction. My only reservation is her preference for the F-word. I'm good at tuning that stuff out. But after some of the reactions toward the profanity (etc.) in E&P, I realize I can't expect everyone (including a lot of my friends) to be so blase about it.

Here are some quotes I adored:
“I feel sorry for you, and I'm going to be your friend."
"I don't want to be your friend," Cath said as sternly as she could. "I like that we're not friends."
"Me, too. I'm sorry you ruined it by being so pathetic.”

“You’re never going to find a guy who’s exactly like you—first of all, because that guy never leaves his dorm room.…”

“What's the plan?' she asked.
He grinned. 'My plan is to do things that make you want to hang out with me again tomorrow. What's your plan?'
'I'm going to try not to make an ass of myself.'
He grinned. 'So we're all set.”

“How do you not like the Internet? That's like saying, 'I don't like things that are convenient. And easy. I don't like having access to all of mankind's recorded discoveries at my fingertips. I don't like light. And knowledge.”

I also the entire laundry conversation which is much too long to post here but made me literally clamp my hand over my mouth to keep from laughing out loud while I listened to it in bed with my sleeping husband and baby.

Plot/Story Development: ★★★★ We have a gifted writer wasting her time (IMO) on fanfic. A twin sister (the cool one) looking for independence. A terrible mother, who left. A wonderful father, who's crazy. A world-wise roommate who is terrifying. A creative writing teacher who doesn't appreciate fan fiction. A boy who never stops smiling. And a crippling fear of anything resembling life. All issues collide into a glorious laughable mess. And while much of it is like tequila in that it's "more about the journey than the destination," I found myself immeasurably pleased by the end. Especially that bit at the very very end.

Sidebar: I love that this is a love story that doesn't make me feel all dirty and stupid. It's not smutty (although not prudish or even necessarily innocent). And it's not that the character doesn't feel stupid, just that I don't. That makes for good romance in my opinion.

Character Development: ★★★★★ Way to go, Cath. You didn't get absolutely all of your sh*t together, but neither have I. You were straight up neurotic. You've got trust issues and mommy issues and daddy issues and sister issues and reality issues and generally a lot of issues. But I really liked you. And I loved watching you grow and mature and learn how to life real freaking life and get over at least some of your issues.

Sidebar II: I feel this book could definitely do with a companion, because Cath's twin Wren was clearly dealing with her own issues too in a much louder, crazed, drunken way. And I want to know her story equally muchly.

Sidebar III: somehow Rowell made me fall in love with a farmboy from Nebraska who doesn't do books or the internet and aspires to work on a ranch. In my wildest dreams, I would not have believed this possible. But Levi stole my heart completely. Yay for boys who aren't dicks, or moody and broken, or too far from reality. Yay for smiling.

Message/Theme: ★★★★★ family, friendship, social disorders, love, abandonment, reality v. fantasy, growing up, maturity, introversion, optimism, finding know, college crap.

Rating: R for language, sensuality, and alcohol use

Audiobook Performance: ★★★★ Rebecca Freaking Lowman has the vocal equivalent of sad eyes. She can be saying the happiest thing and it still has the most peculiar tinge of depression. I've listened through Starters and Eleanor & Park with her, and I HATED the first and LOVED the second. But the second was a sad-feeling book, so it was appropriate. This one wasn't sad as much as introverted. I felt like the book was shy and needed to be let loose, which is to say Rowell wrote it amazingly well. Lowman performed well also. She had a great voice for quiet Cath. But I'd like someone a bit less tragic sounding for RR's next book.
Maxwell Caulfield though is freaking magic. I'm not trying to be funny. He has a voice for whimsy. I want him to talk me to sleep every night. Like a long lost British grandfather telling me timeless stories and smelling of sugared coffee. Mmmmmmmm.

Overall: ★★★★★ I adored this. Even more than Eleanor & Park. Now I'm getting Attachments so I can say I'm a full on RR fan. You should read this book, but only if you want to feel light as a feather afterward.

#fanfiction #introverts #noteveryonehastobescaryanddamaged

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