It's all about the tea and terror here

Update – March 2014

Well, my resolution to blog more has already crashed and burned. In my defence, I spent half of February in Las Vegas, and the other half preparing for it. As for my March excuse… I got nothing.

Social

High: I went to Las Vegas and got married on my 10 year anniversary to Craig. Carla gave me away. Jake took many pictures. It was perfect.

Wedding Day - 21 February 2014

Wedding Day – 21 February 2014

Many vicious games of Cards Against Humanity were played. Pretty jewellery was purchased from BicoLV – Carla and I have matching bracelets, and we will buy a new charm every time we achieve a goal (or something is really pretty and we need it right now).

Low: Carla mentioned saying goodbye, and that was hard. Another thing was just how busy Las Vegas is. Carla and I get over-socialised, and Las Vegas is a place where that happens quite easily. Next time we’re renting a holiday house somewhere. Or an island. Or a lighthouse. It depends on Carla’s mood and how much Enid Blyton she reads before booking.

Writing

High: Carla and I sent The Talking Dead to first readers. Craig, my husband(!), has given us feedback. We are waiting for further feedback, but Craig’s is always very thorough and fair.

As for Monsters and Music, the sequel, parts of that are writing themselves and sticking twos up at the outline. Characters are taking charge as we get to know their voices and realise that they’re not going to react as we outlined… oh god, do I sound a bit like a certain author who believes her characters are real and is quick to litigate over fanfic?

Also, as Carla mentioned, Intern promoted himself to Manager in our absence. I asked him if that meant we needed to pay him. He said no. So, yay, my manager doesn’t need paying, but boo, my manager is a bit of an idiot.

Low: We’ve not had much time to work on Monsters and Music, and we need to review the outlines, based both on the feedback from Craig, and the small changes that have been made on M&M.

The Nox series is bothering me a lot at the moment, and I think it’s bugging Carla too, because when I briefly mentioned it, she got that gleam in her eye, before quickly saying, “We’re not working on that at the moment.”

Reading

High: I’ve read a fair bit of chick lit over the holiday, and, by strange coincidence, they were written by Lynne Moriarty, who is the sister of Jaclyn Moriarty, whose books I gave to Carla as a gift. I’m also re-reading old favourites by Stephen King.

Low: I’ve not found anything un-put-down-able since I read the Gone series by Michael Grant. I want to find something that awesome again.

Wrestling

High: I got to watch the Elimination Chamber with Carla and Jake. I love the Elimination Chamber, it’s my favourite PPV of the year (although nothing will touch the 2011 one). Watching wrestling with Carla is awesome.

I also saw a live event in Vegas. One of the matches pitched The Shield against Christian. Words cannot express how much I love Dean Ambrose and Christian. To see them in the ring together live was awesome. Sadly, I didn’t get any good pictures, I was still getting used to the camera. I did get a pretty good shot of the Bella twins though.

The Bella Twins in Las Vegas on 16 February 2014

The Bella Twins in Las Vegas on 16 February 2014

Also, I got a quick video of Kofi kicking ass in a dance-off.

Low: Mostly Fandom. This is why we can’t have nice things. Grow up, kids.

Posted in Life Stuff, Nox Series, Reading Stuff, UK Horror Series, Wrestling Stuff, Writing Stuff | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

2014 Goals

Carla: Too long; didn’t read version: Read 100 books a year, with individual subgoals, write Talking Dead and maybe the rest of that series, and blog more. Then a wrestling diversion at the end.

Reading Goals

Sarah: To read 100 books (and to actually track them this year), and at least 20 of them must be from my “To Read” list on my Kindle.

Carla: Sarah made an awesome spreadsheet for us to use while tracking. It also automatically calculates how many days we spent reading a book. I’m not sure why she thinks that’s important. Is it a contest? Are we competing?

Sarah: Sarah thinks that’s important because her entire job is all about making spreadsheets that track everything we do, and spit out results that can be displayed in graphs. Be thankful Sarah didn’t put a bloody graph in there.

Carla: Why is there no graph? I love graphs.

Sarah: Fuck graphs. I love my job, but I hate graphs.

Carla: Hater.

Carla: Also, my secondary goal is to read at least 50 books from my “To Read” bookcases. Yes, plural. Yes, I have way too many books I need to read, hence this part of my goal.

Sarah: Now what? Is that the only question? Was it really worth opening yet another shared document? Or are we just so totally codependent that we cannot even answer one single question alone?

Carla: Yes.

Carla: And, of course, we’re supposed to talk about other goals. Those are the only official reading goals I have, though I do have a few lists of books I am trying to read within my lifetime. Do you want in on that kind of challenge? Do you want to play with the big kids? Do you want to actually challenge yourself with your reading?

Sarah: Mostly, I just want to sleep.

Carla: It’s not even fun being mean to you when you’re this tired.

Writing Goals

Sarah: To finish Talking Dead and get it out to agents is the official one, but in the back of my mind, I’m pretty sure we can write the whole series this year.

Carla: I’m glad that’s in the back of your mind, because my official goal is to finish at least first drafts of the entire series, as well as polish Talking Dead and submit it to agents. Our first readers are going to love us.

Sarah: Eh, they’re mostly your friends. Mine don’t really offer much feedback. You can piss off your friends with multiple drafts of five books! Mine will just vanish!

Carla: Hey, your hubby gives excellent feedback. And I appreciate Ken’s enthusiasm.

Sarah: CAN WE GET INTERN TO GIVE US FEEDBACK?

Carla: Alas, Intern is not a reader. We should remedy this. And his hatred of wrestling. Eventually, he will give in and love both books and wrestling.

Sarah: Intern does not read, and refers to wrestling as “fake”. Remind me again why we love Intern?

Carla: He’s our “in” so we know what the kids are saying these days. Or something like that. Mostly, I love him because he’s awesome and my nephew. Isn’t that kind of required? Plus he’s going to teach me about basketball and stock car racing.

Carla: OH! The biggest reason: he keeps us on track! We should send him our list of goals.

Sarah: True. He’s very bossy (in a good way). Very motivational.

Carla: Indeed. My other big writing goal is to write every day this year.

Sarah: I have a side-goal, which is to come up with something (preferably short and sweet) that I can write on my own, just so that I remember how to write alone! Also, I think it would be good for me to outline a book by myself.

Carla: It’s hard work! I’ve forgotten how to write fiction alone!

Blogging Goals

Carla: Besides the monthly writing update, I want to blog more often. What’s a reasonable goal? Once a week?

Sarah: I think once a week is reasonable. I’m also attempting to just keep pace with you as far as blogging goes.

Carla: Now that inspires me to make a goal of blogging multiple times a day. Keep pace with that.

Sarah: *crawls under desk and cries*

Carla: Oh god, not this again.

Sarah: I’m thinking that setting goals while I’m this tired has not brought out the best in me. This kind of mood is more suited to passive-aggressive conversations with my co-workers about their lack of common sense.

Carla: We should figure out how to blog about more in-depth topics than, say, horror memes and our goals for the year.

Sarah: Also, I’d like to have a reader. I don’t even need plural, I just want someone not-Carla to read my blog.

Carla: Pretty sure my dad reads both our blogs. Just saying.

Sarah: My best friend and her dad read my blog. There are no words for the success I have attained.

Carla: I hate you so much.

Sarah: That said, I appreciate that your dad reads our blogs. Hi Carl! *waves*

Carla: So one of our goals should be to figure out topics that will draw in readers who aren’t related to one of us? And, along the same lines, possibly to network more?

Sarah: I suddenly feel like I’m at work again, being forced to join LinkedIn and use Yammer. But yes, when I’m not too busy snarking at you, I actually agree with you.

Carla: ANYTHING but Yammer. And I know how to read between the snark. Possibly we should use Twitter for more than just wrestling updates when I watch pay-per-views.

Sarah: I would suggest you do what I do and keep wrestling and writing twitters separate, that way I’m not bombarding wrestling snarkers with angst about writing, or boring YA writers with my thoughts on Dean Ambrose’s ramblings.

Carla: Ambroxley is the greatest.

Sarah: You’d best explain “Ambroxley”, otherwise we’ll look like those weird fans who think you get bonus points for knowing someone’s real or indy name!

Carla: Oh god, not that. This is really digressing, but basically, when he was wrestling in the indies, he wrestled as Moxley, and his character frequently went on drunken tirades. In the WWE, he wrestles as Ambrose, but lately, Ambrose has been having what sounds like drunken tirades more and more often. (Likely not actually drunken, because the wrestling is rated PG these days, but still.) So the more he starts to sound like Moxley in promos, the happier we are, and we coined Ambroxley for the Ambrose-channeling-Moxley hybrid.

Carla: Are you happy? Now we’ve done that writing step in our process in which we talk about wrestling instead of doing what we’re supposed to be doing.

Sarah: It’s part of our process. Don’t be a hater.

Carla: We should do an actual wrestling blog post soon.

Sarah: I last did one in November.

Carla: I have never done one. Huh.

Sarah: New goal: As a Brit, I must start to say SHED-uled, instead of SKED-uled. I guess that’s more a talking goal, but since we’re talking about (IRL, rather than in this document), it can go into my goals.

On the subject of MOAR GOALS, I also want to get another retweet from Michael Grant. The first one validated my existence, imagine how awesome and self-important I could become if he retweeted me again!

Carla: He is amazing. I’m still envious that you were retweeted. And, again, thank you for introducing me to the Gone series. SO GOOD.

Sarah: Just knowing that he and Katherine Applegate are married makes me happy. If their children end up being writers my brain may just asplode!

Carla: Can you imagine? Making Out meets Gone. It would be the greatest YA friendship-and-apocalypse story ever!

Sarah: *suddenly wishes for fanfic*

Carla: I think we’ve digressed enough. There are some goals. Let’s check back in December to see how we did.

Posted in Life Stuff, Reading Stuff, Writing Stuff | Tagged , , , ,

Young Adult – Old School

Carla gave me a poke the other day, and reminded me that I haven’t updated my blog.

Carla is very pro-blog.

Carla is also a magnificent troll, because whilst on a pro-blog promo, she encouraged me to pick a domain, then once I had made my choice and told her I would buy it in a week (after payday), she bought said domain. She is kindly using it to forward to my servers, but it can’t be transferred over while we’re in the 60 days after initial purchase. Troll best friend trolls on an epic level.

Anyway, she wanted me to blog. And I don’t think a blog post about how Carla wants me to blog more often is going to cut it.

So here, let’s talk young adult books. I would do a Fave Five, like Booker T, except I’m incredibly picky about books, and many fail to make the grade. Some books I love because of the ideas, but the execution is not what I’d hoped for; other times I like characters but am not keen on where the story goes; other times I worship the world but don’t connect with a single person involved in the world.

So I’m going to list my Fave Three young adult series from my youth.


1: Making Out by Katherine Applegate

 

“Zoey, Lucas, Jake, Nina, Benjamin, Claire, Christopher and Aisha have all grown up together on Chatham Island, just off the Maine coast. Zoey has been with Jake forever, but when Lucas returns to the island after two years away, following a fatal accident he caused, Zoey finds herself drawn to him. And Claire has a secret – a secret that will change everything. But will all be revealed before Zoey fools around?”

I swear that these books got me through my teenage years. I wasn’t the most social of teenagers. Some days I felt like the characters in this series were my only friends. Especially Nina. Although I wanted someone to drown Zoey in Big Bite Pond for her overreaction to everything. Also, Nina/Lucas was my OTP. When I met Carla, I recommended the series to her, and she too fell in love with them. We would compare notes on which books we were missing, and our endless hunt for the complete collection.

I liked these books because they were a bit more grown up than the nonsense I had been reading, these characters swore (very mildly and infrequently, but still, a lot more believable than seeing an eighteen year old say “gosh darn it to heck”), they had problems (Jake’s alcoholism was not a Very Special Episode, it carried through the whole series) and the continuity was there. Unlike other books I had read, this series kept track of what happened and applied it, unlike another series which has at least three books dedicated to someone’s first kiss, all with different guys. It was just smarter than a lot of teen fiction I had read up until that point. Oh, and it was funny. Not in that annoying “they all laughed” way, but everything Nina has to say is worthy of a smile – and her rant about what they should do to the opposing football team makes me laugh every time (“Forget football! Let’s bomb the bastards!”).

Note: I am aware that a ghostwriter took over after book 8, but they still continued to be awesome. I mean, there was a lot of angst and disasters for one small island, but I’m willing to overlook that because it was a damned entertaining read.


2: The Eventing Trilogy by Caroline Akrill

 

“Elaine’s dream is to become a top eventer, but when she starts working for the eccentric Fane family it leads to a difficult choice between ambition and loyalty.”

I was one of those horsey girls when I was younger. I read pretty much everything by the Pullein-Thompson sisters, the Jill books were memorised by about the age of nine, and Black Beauty was my bible. However, this series is still one of my favourites of all time.

As with Making Out, this series was just so much smarter than anything I’d read before. JK Rowling noted that she found it sinister that throughout the entire Famous Five series, none of the characters ever had any romantic notions (by the end of the series, the kids were aged 19-21), and the same was absolutely true for me in every horse series I read. By the end of the Jill series, Jill has left school and is working as a writer and still isn’t interested in anything but horses. I’m not saying that every character needs to find a boyfriend, I’m just saying that the absolute lack of interest in anything non-horse-related in every single series was a bit eye-poking. It left me feeling like horse books were only about horses, and non-horse books were about romance, and the two could never combine.

This series does this. Romance is a low priority, but it’s far more believable that an eighteen year old who regularly interacts with males, may find herself the subject of someone’s romantic notions or might get a bit wibbly over one of the guys. It’s only background, and I didn’t need some epic romance cluttering up the plot, I just like the realism of Elaine juggling money, love, horses, and her dreams.

But most appealingly, these books are funny as hell. It’s pretty much impossible to find a character I don’t love, and two of my favourites are the horses, The Comet and The Bad Tempered Chestnut are amazing. As for the people, Nigella and Henrietta Fane, Elaine’s employers, are a wonderful combination of pragmatic and whimsical (if you can imagine such a thing).

I just cannot say enough great things to put this series over. Go, locate a copy now.


3: Fly By Night and The Team by K. M. Peyton

 

“Fly-by-Night” was not the best choice for an eleven-year-old girl who had never ridden before; but as soon as Ruth Hollis saw the sturdy, lively pony, she knew that he was the one she wanted. All her life Ruth had longed to own a pony and now that her family had moved from London to a new housing estate in East Anglia, she had persuaded her father to let her spend her savings on a pony. But having taken possession of Fly-by-Night, Ruth found that her troubles had only just begun.

As above, horsey books are only about horses. Except this one isn’t. In the first book, Fly By Night, Ruth is too young to really want a romantic entanglement, but by the second, she’s interested in a couple of boys, in different ways. Nothing is really done with the romance aspect, but it’s nice to see it there. Just one of those crushes you live with and do nothing about when you’re young.

I liked the way this series was written, there was an air of weary cynicism that just wasn’t usually present in similar works, which were basically Blyton on horseback.  Also, the characters were a bit more real than the usual jolly hockeysticks fare.  Peter was a foster kid, wanting nothing to do with his over-bearing dad; Jonathan was more sarcastic than you would expect; and everyone is likable, but not sickeningly so.


It’s a damned shame none of these books are available on Kindle.  She says pointedly.  Every week I click the link on Amazon, telling them that “I’d love to read this book on Kindle”.  One day.

One day.

Posted in Reading Stuff | Tagged , ,

Reading Meme

What are you currently reading?

11/22/63 by Stephen King

I’ve been avoiding this one for awhile because while I love Stephen King and have a major hankering for pretty much everything he writes, I tend to get stuck on the political ones.  I read Dead Zone about ten years ago and the most I can say is, “Well, I finished it.”  I’m English, he’s American, I’m not good on my own politics, let alone anyone else’s and honestly, political commentary is not what I read horror for.

However.

Time travel.  Freakin’ time travel.  To 1958.  And yes, my King-addled mind wondered idly if there would be a reference to It in there.  After a few pages, the book teased me with the reference, then delighted me with an entire scene (also a continuity error, but let’s not go there).

So, thus far, I’m enjoying.  I read King slowly, so I’ll probably be on this book for months.  Unlike Carla, who can read It in six days.  Seriously.

What did you recently finish reading?

Buddy, Buddy’s Song and Buddy’s Blues all by Nigel Hinton.  Recalling my youth and revelling in the books written and set during the time I was growing up.  I really love books set in England, naturally I identify more with them.  The last one was a major let-down though, for one thing they’ve made the peculiar decision to describe the BIG SPLASHY ENDING as the synopsis on Amazon, for another, it feels like the BIG SPLASHY ENDING was just there because one was expected (and to be honest, with YA/coming of age/romance/issues stories, it wasn’t – it’s not like it was horror or action where a final showdown is required).

What do you think you’ll read next?

Bumped and Thumped by Megan McCafferty, they’re both in my reading queue, and I’ve read a couple of chapters of Bumped, since it takes me ages to get through Stephen King now (I used to be able to read fast, but now there’s not enough time in the day).

Posted in Reading Stuff | Tagged