Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Romance Novel: When Venus Fell, Author: Deborah Smith

“Pride and self-respect are earned, not given by birth…” When Venus Fell by Deborah Smith

“Nothing else matters.”
When Venus Fell by Deborah Smith

Love matters and is more important; a sentiment that echoes throughout this book.

One of my Hungry Ghost readers, Susan McClure, recommended the book Crossroads Café by Deborah Smith. Thank you Susan.

My local library didn’t have it so I asked for it from inter library loan. (I love ILL.) Meanwhile I started on this book, When Venus Fell. I can tell you now, I’ll be reading all of Deborah Smith’s extensive backlog of books. The list is long so I’m going to refer you to her website: http://www.deborah-smith.com/
When you go there you’ll find she also writes urban fantasy novels under the pen name Leigh Bridger.

Chillingly beautiful words:
“Every note of music and every musical sound in life radiates outward. The vibrations become infinitely small, but they never quite fade. They can still reach you, when you’re suddenly quiet enough to catch the echoes inside you.” When Venus Fell by Deborah Smith
But they bode evil:
“Promises and betrayals are the same way.”
When Venus Fell by Deborah Smith

Truth lots of people are unwilling to acknowledge:
“You choose to get out of bed every morning and one morning you slip on the rug and sprain your ankle. But it’s no accident because it wouldn’t have happened if you’d stayed in bed for the rest of your life? No--sometimes accidents just happen. We just have to deal with that fact. All right?” When Venus Fell by Deborah Smith
Because it means they aren’t one hundred percent in control of their lives.

I’ve felt like this:
“The Camerons seduced outsiders. That was easy to see. They enthralled the unsuspecting then absorbed the new energy. I felt as if Ella and I had been sucked dry like fruit.” When Venus Fell by Deborah Smith

Another beautiful ominous sentence:
“And I was afraid he’d break her heart into pieces too small for me to fix.
When Venus Fell by Deborah Smith


“I never forgot how that felt that day, realizing the power to overcome grief by serving others. The power to make sense of the world by stopping some of the senseless pain.” When Venus Fell by Deborah Smith

“You know as well as I do that living with fear is worse than confronting the reality behind the fear.” When Venus Fell by Deborah Smith

Step one in changing anything:
“…as if in some way he could transform the hatred and lunacy in the world by bringing it to the heart of the family.” When Venus Fell by Deborah Smith
Bring it to the light.

When Venus Fell is good. I have since read Crossroads Café and it is even better. I’m going to read everything Deborah has written.

While you’re pondering all of this, I’m going to eat some biscuits. As character Delta says in Crossroads Café “Beauty is fleeting but biscuits are forever.”

(Oh, and, y'all, there are biscuit recipes in the back of Crossroads Cafe. By Deborah Smith.)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Change is like a snake.

Disclaimer: I wrote this post using snakes partially for Julie, who loves them.   
If you don't love them know this  - there are NO PICTURES.

This weekend was a killer. Sixteen hours on Saturday. Sixteen hours on Sunday. Panicky, stress filled co-workers. Insane.

Then when I finally have time to relax and play on my computer, the internet is down.

So no truth-laden blog today. Well, those are the biggest reasons, anyway. I'm posting this from the library.

Change is like a snake.

Sometimes they’re toxic or poisonous changes like a Cobra or a Diamondback Rattler and you hope they don’t appear around you.

I would like to say that I’ll have a NT blog up tomorrow but my internet has been bitten by a beautiful but deadly Copperhead - they’re more common here than rattlers. (She took out the cable, too. See mixed blessing there. I can’t be on the internet at home but I also don’t have to hear the incessant drone of the television in the other room.)

Sometimes the change is more like a common variety black snake. They eat poisonous snakes and rodents. You’re happy for what they do and willing to tolerate them even if they scare you just a little.

This change is a black snake, I think.

I have been in the habit of writing an NT blog for Monday and Wednesday and Friday.

I’m going to change that, at least for the summer. After that we’ll see.

I’m going to post on Tuesday and Friday. I might sometimes post personal silliness on other days.

Back next week on Tuesday with a Novel Truths post. Hopefully.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Warning: Blasphemy Ahead - Movies that are better than the books they came from - There, I said it.

Confession time: I’m having trouble reading the last few days. I can’t make myself dig into anything. I’ve been watching movies.

Have you ever loved a movie then hated the book it spawned from? Normally it’s the other way around but I can think of a few.

Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel is one. I loved the movie. The book was okay but not as good as the movie, for me. I’m not saying don’t read the book. It was a good book. Just the movie was better.

Here’s a scene I loved: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79KNO67c-UM
(Warning - watch it with the sound off. The dubbing is horrible and unnecessary as there are subtitles.)

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman was an excellent book. Practical Magic was an excellent movie. For the life of me I never understood how they got the movie from the book. The movie was blessed with a fabulous cast and a sensational soundtrack.

Here’s one of my many favorite scenes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=stQ31X8COWw
(On the other hand, jack the sound up on this one!)

The Milagro Beanfield War by John Nichols was a great movie but I could not get into the book. It should have been a book I would love. Again the movie had a great cast.

This is a scene near the end of the movie: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OVg6eVg-HdA

Someone Like You was a good movie. It came from the book Animal Husbandry by Laura Zigman. Not sure why the book didn’t appeal to me.

Here’s the trailer for the movie: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tDhrhT2g9pQ

Currently I’m anxiously awaiting the release of a new book: Smoking Seventeen by Janet Evanovich which comes out June 21st. I’ve read excerpts and I already know I’m going to love it.

They’ve made a movie of the first book in the series - One For the Money. I love that book. Looking at the cast and knowing Hollywood, I predict the book will be better than the movie. Hopefully we’ll know January 27, 2012 unless they move the release date back AGAIN.

Are there any movies you like better than the books they came from? Books you’d like to see made into a movie? Television show?

I’m going to leave you with a pic of the only ‘One For the Money’ cast member I’m absolutely sure is the right choice:

Oh yeah! There's Ranger!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Modern Gothic Romance Novel: Maybe This Time, Author: Jennifer Crusie

Beautiful, evocative sentence:
“Who do you love? She heard the whisper as the night grew chill and she drifted off? Who do you want?” Maybe This Time by Jennifer Crusie

Been there:
“-“If he makes me that unhappy, I’m not done with him,” Andie said…” Maybe This Time by Jennifer Crusie

Done that:
“The subconscious finds ways to work out its problems. A dream state is as good a way as any.” Maybe This Time by Jennifer Crusie

Bought the t-shirt:
“There were no ghosts, of course, there were no ghosts.” Maybe This Time by Jennifer Crusie

Funny-real, adult-child dynamic:
“-“Okay,” she said. “If you break a pinky swear you have to cut your finger off.”
“That’s the kind of thing you’re supposed to tell me before you make me do it,” North said.
“Then you shouldn’t have done it without asking,” Alice said, and since that was an argument he’d often used in court, he nodded.” Maybe This Time by Jennifer Crusie

The adult-children interactions are one of the reasons I reread this book again. I’ve heard Jenny say that she doesn’t write children well. I beg to differ. I love the kids in this book and my favorite dialogue between a kid and an adult are the talks between C.L. & Em in Tell Me Lies. I needed this inspiration today.

An only Jenny can write this - line:
“…and common sense evaporated along with sanity and all the other buzzkills, and she said, “Yes.” Maybe This Time by Jennifer Crusie
(I love it. I just love it.)

This sentence should be required reading for every man:
“He moved with the old, familiar, deliberate rhythm that always made her mindless, touching her everywhere as she touched him, blanketing her mind with heat until she moaned, sliding against him, tasting the salt of his skin and feeling his breath on her neck, hearing him whisper low to her that she was beautiful, that she was everything, that she was his.” Maybe This Time by Jennifer Crusie
(And be made to understand this is what a woman wants. Simply this.)

Undisputable truth, for me, at least:
“Because I wouldn’t ever want to be stuck watching somebody else live. Because if there’s a new adventure ahead of me I want to go toward it. Because living like a shadow would make me insane.” Maybe This Time by Jennifer Crusie

I love Jennifer Crusie. I’m willing to wait for her next book only because I don’t want her to feel pressured. I would love for her to enjoy the writing as much as I enjoy the reading. I know from her blog that she doesn’t. She is overdue on the deadline for her current w.i.p. and unhappy about it.

When I went back to find the name of the daughter in Tell Me Lies, I found this passage she had written about writing TML on argh.ink:

“On the other hand, this was also the hardest book I’ve ever written. I missed my deadline, I gained ten pounds, and I despaired on a regular basis. A friend of mine told me that the best writing advice he’d ever gotten was that if the book you’re writing isn’t beyond your capabilities, you’re not writing the right book. I was definitely writing the right book. At times Jen’s support was the only thing that kept me going; you know you have a great editor when the book is five months overdue and she says, "I believe in you." Chocolate for life isn’t enough.”

We love you and we’ll wait, Jenny. Really we will.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A pirate's life for me.

“Complications arose, ensued, were overcome.” Captain Jack Sparrow

What? Wait just a gosh darned minute. That’s not from a book. That’s from a movie. What does she think she’s doing? She blogs about books.

“It was a good plan... up 'til now.” AnnaMarie

Joking - it’s still a good plan. Just not today. Today I want to blog about truths from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Why? I’m a Johnny Depp fan but I hadn’t seen any of these movies. My gkids recently saw #4 in the theatre and decided I needed to get caught up so we could watch it together when it comes out on DVD. So I’ve seen all of the first three movies this week. We’re lucky I’m not blogging in that atrocious Jamaican? Haitian? Caribbean? accent of AnnaMarie’s.

“This is either madness... or brilliance.” Will Turner

It's remarkable how often those two traits coincide.” Captain Jack Sparrow

I favor brilliance. Of course, I’m a Depp fan. I thoroughly enjoyed the movies.

“I leave you people alone for just a minute and look what happens. Everything’s gone to pot!” Captain Jack Sparrow

Says Jack when he escapes from the island where he’s been stranded. Is anyone reminded of Arthur Dent? Ford Prefect? Remember in one of those Hitch Hiker books by Douglas Adams when Arthur Dent is stranded on an island for years. A space ship swoops down and a man insults him. The man is going through the alphabet insulting everyone in the universe in ABC order. He has reached Dent. He insults him, then flies off and leaves him still stranded.

“If you were waiting for the opportune moment, that was it.” Captain Jack Sparrow

So, what’s happened lately that’s made you feel like you missed your chance? I can’t think of anything off hand but I know there’s something.

“Elizabeth… it would never have worked between us darling. I’m sorry… Will… nice hat. Friends… This is the day that you will ALWAYS remember as the day that you almost captured Captain Jack Sparrow.” You know who

In the movies every time he ran into a woman she slapped him. Do you suppose JD goes home and Vanessa Paradis slaps him? Probably not. They seem happy and settled with cute kiddies and all.

Then again, they live in France. Now we know, they’re strides ahead in their democratic-ness but they treat their women as if they are cute but dumb.

If you don’t know the story - Betty Fokker blogs about it here:


And London Mabel blogs about it here: http://www.mabeltalk.com/2011/06/whos-backwards-caveman-now-huh-france.html

“Do us a favor... I know it's difficult for you... but please, stay here, and try not to do anything... Stupid.” Captain Jack Sparrow

Don’t you hate it when you have to say this to someone? Especially someone who holds part of your fate in their hands - a boss or coworker, for example.

“You seem somewhat familiar. Have I threatened you before?” Captain Jack Sparrow

Tehehe - One could say this about one’s children sometimes, eh? I was at a rodeo with a friend. Her daughter was being obnoxious. It was very loud so she was yelling. She yelled at the top of her voice - “Stop doing that or I’ll rip the lips off your face.” Just as the sound level dropped. And everyone looked at us. As if we were child abusers. Of course, she was being funny. She’d never have done it. As far as I know.

“Me? I’m dishonest, and a dishonest man you can always trust to be dishonest. Honestly. It’s the honest ones you want to watch out for, because you can never predict when they’re going to do something incredibly… stupid.” Captain Jack Sparrow

Those of us on the low road understand this. Of course, we live with hockey players and chocolate and bacon.

“You know that feeling you get when you’re standing in a high place… sudden urge to jump?… I don’t have it.” Captain Jack Sparrow

Ah yes. That feeling when I know what I need to do but I don’t want to do it. I’m having it lately. Except the knowing what I need to do part.

“Not all treasure is silver and gold, mate.” Captain Jack Sparrow

Of course it’s not. Sometimes it’s diamonds or rubies. I don’t mean that. The real treasure is love, dearies. Love.

In closing let’s all follow the wise advice of Captain Jack Sparrow and:

“Drink up me hearties. Yo ho.”

Something with rum, preferably. Right Jack?

Right ho Judy, Judy, Judy. Right ho.


Monday, June 6, 2011

Gothic Novel: The Thirteenth Tale, Author: Diane Setterfield

Is truth always what we need?

Ominous sentence:
“Then, beneath my fingers, the handle to the third room began to turn of its own accord.”
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

This is not a romance novel. It’s a Gothic in the true sense of the word. It does have an HFN (happily-for-now) ending but there is depravity and human suffering in the body of the book.

Beautiful Gothic paragraph alert:
     “The house sat at an awkward angle. Arriving from the drive, you came upon a corner, and it was not at all clear which side of the house was the front. It was as though the house knew it ought to meet it’s arriving visitors face-on, but at the last minute couldn’t repress the impulse to turn back and gaze upon the deer park and the woodlands at the ends of the terraces. The visitor was met not by a welcoming smile but by a cold shoulder.” The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

And then there is that creepy feeling of stasis, suggesting that this evil has gone on for years, making one feel helpless to change it.

“For thirty years the pace of life indoors had been measured by the slow movement of the motes of dust caught in an occasional ray of weary sunlight.” The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Chilling passage alert:
“I did not see the wolf when he came. I did not hear him. There was only this: A little before dawn I became aware of a hush, and I realized that the only breathing to be heard in the room was my own.” The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

No Gothic is complete without it’s chilling passages. No Gothic is complete without these either:

Sentence that says something it doesn’t say alert:
“Were I to look all day and all night, I knew I would not find a trace of the twins he was supposed to have fathered.” The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

In the village where a Gothic takes place you have to have the people judging
‘behavior’ (a village euphemism for ‘misbehavior’)" The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
And can’t you just hear the voice dripping in judgment saying that word ‘behavior’.

What about truth? Can a Gothic novel impart truths? How about an even more important question? Is truth always what we need?

“My gripe is not with lovers of the truth but with truth herself. What succor, what consolation is there in truth, compared to a story? What good is truth, at midnight, in the dark, when the wind is roaring like a bear in the chimney?…When fear and cold make a statue of you in your bed…What you need are the plump comforts of a story. The soothing, rocking safety of a lie.” The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Nevertheless Settlefield does impart some truths in this book.

“Perhaps emotions have a smell or a taste; perhaps we transmit them unknowingly by vibrations in the air.”
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Is that why sometimes you know that someone is not okay or fine even when they say they are?

“People whose lives are not balanced by a healthy love of money suffer from an appalling obsession with personal integrity.” The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

I know the truth of that one personally. If you dispute it, e-mail me privately and we’ll talk.

“Human lives are not pieces of string that can be separated out of a knot of others and laid out straight. Families are webs. Impossible to touch one part of it without setting the rest vibrating. Impossible to understand one part without having a sense of the whole.” The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

We all know the truth of that one.

“Inside my head everything came to pieces and came back together differently, in one of those kaleidoscopic reorganizations the brain is capable of.” The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

I love when that happens.

“Miss Winters restored to me the virginal qualities of the novice reader, and then with her stories she ravished me.” The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

This book ravished me. I usually devour a book in one or two sittings. Not this one. It was like playing with fire. I read some. Put it down and read something else, all the while keeping it in the corner of my eyes. Then picked it up and read some more…lather, rinse, repeat.

She mentions a book that I absolutely adore: The Water-Babies by Charles Kingsley.

And a book that I’ve never heard of but will certainly have to read: The Eustace Diamonds by Anthony Trollope. (IT WAS WRITTEN IN SERIAL INSTALLMENTS FOR A NEWSPAPER IN THE 1800’S. Just like the one in the novel that inspired me to write a novel in installments for this blog.)

She speaks of the painting of Dickens in his study by Buss. Bing images has it but I’ll let you go look. I wasn’t that impressed.

She frequently refers to a lych gate. Wikipedia says:

“A lychgate, also spelled lichgate, lycugate, or as two separate words lych gate, (from Old English lic, corpse) is a gateway covered with a roof found at the traditional entrance to a (English) churchyard.”

This one from Bing images is decorated for a wedding:

She talks about two plants I’d never heard of:

Buddleia - Here’s a picture of it with a Painted Lady Butterfly (cause I can’t get away from those butterflies!) from Bing images:

And Hellebore. This Bing image is of a variety called Hellebore Flash Gordon:

I liked this book for expanding my horizons and for clarifying something for me about my tastes. This was a Gothic novel in which the supernatural element is revealed to be human depravity in the end. I don’t like that. I prefer my ghosts to be ghosts, as in Maybe This Time by Jenny Crusie, one of my favorite books of all time.

I’m going to go read MTT for the umpteenth time and maybe talk about it Wednesday. What are you reading?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Lyrical Romance Novel: Banana Rose, Author: Natalie Goldberg

Lipton tea, Carlos Tevez kisses and soft-bodied writers.

Prose-poetry sentence alert:
“Her eyes looked like she’d eaten chunks of turquoise for lunch--they were that blue.”
Banana Rose by Natalie Goldberg

Lyrical sentences such as that one will happen when a person who writes books of poetry and paints wonderful paintings, like the talented Natalie Goldberg does, writes a novel.

“I could tell with each book she was realigning her thought system.”
Banana Rose by Natalie Goldberg

With some books, I do that, too. What about you?

“Sometimes I thought Blue was nuts, but it was the kind of nuts I enjoyed. Plus I knew her kind of nuts also made her wise.” Banana Rose by Natalie Goldberg

I know people like this. Especially where this book is set; New Mexico. People who most of society ignores but I know they have unique, valuable wisdom to impart.

“No one danced as a couple. We each moved to our own energy, communicating with the music, sometimes in sync with someone for a few moments until the energy moved on. You weren’t a good dancer or a bad dancer. You just danced and followed the patterns of sound and light from blinking projectors.”
Banana Rose by Natalie Goldberg

I’ve been two places where dancing was like this. The hippie music scene in Albuquerque, NM and the Center For the Moving Arts in San Diego, CA on dance jam Tuesday and Friday nights. Very freeing. I thought of trying to start one here but there are all these factions that are intolerant of each other and I would spend all my time trying to police them. No thanks.

“It was a rabble of Monarch butterflies, thousands of them…He said his whole boyhood was in that moment. Nothing was before or after. His body opened and the frail yellow animals fell on his heart.”
Banana Rose by Natalie Goldberg

Three things. One - I’ve had moments like this where some image symbolizes a period of time in my life. Two - a group of butterflies is called a rabble - awesome. Three - this is the third reference to Monarch butterflies in my life in three days. What does this mean? I’m going to have to consult Julie of Welcome to Julieland - http://urthalun.com/

“Most of us were refugees from the outside world, and a slight change in the weather shook our delicate balance with the universe.” Banana Rose by Natalie Goldberg

Me, too. I feel like I constantly fight for my health here where agri-business chemicals and lawn chemicals hang in the air and the weather is deadly for humans. If my grandkids weren’t here I’d be long gone.

“You had an inkling it would be a lot sweeter missing and longing for Taos than actually living there just then.”
Banana Rose by Natalie Goldberg

I have an even stronger feeling than an inkling that it is sweeter missing New Mexico than it would be living there if I tried to move back. So where will I go when I leave here? Again with the feeling that I don’t really ‘belong’ anywhere.

Shimmering angels alert:
“Nell, we saw angels. Three of them…They were sitting around a fire and their bodies shimmered like rippled water that you can put your hand through…Then the angels got to realizing we were there. We could tell, because they began twinkling faster.” Banana Rose by Natalie Goldberg

“Trees didn’t ask the sky to be trees. I understood this now. I could be a painter.”
Banana Rose by Natalie Goldberg

I don’t need anyone’s permission to write or to be whatever damn thing I am. Neither do you.

“It was then that I decided not to drink anything but Lipton’s. Lipton’s didn’t ask anything of me. With Jubilation, I had to consider the state of my soul.”
Banana Rose by Natalie Goldberg

I’ve experienced this sensation with certain products. I’ve also experienced the reverse where the company puts some piece of philosophy on it’s product that I entirely resonate with and appreciate. Oh, and I love Lipton’s Cold Brew iced tea. Have you tried it? It’s as simple as putting the tea bag in a pitcher of cold water and letting it brew and it tastes as good as the other.

Melodrama alert:
“I noticed a sign that said the elevator had a capacity of two thousand pounds. I was fearful that my heavy heart put us over the weight limit.” Banana Rose by Natalie Goldberg


“I knew I had to make something important enough to get me out of bed each day, so I gradually focused on my painting.” Banana Rose by Natalie Goldberg

It’s that way for me with writing. Of course, there are people that are this important to me, also. But they can’t be MY reason for getting up in the morning. They have to have their own lives and so do I.

Writers prepare for a laugh:
“Anna, quit being so athletic. Writers are supposed to be lazy and frail. You’ve got to get in proper shape. Words have to ooze out of you. A firm body produces nothing.” Banana Rose by Natalie Goldberg

Well that’s good because I don’t have a firm body.

“If you became Anna’s lover, I’m pretty sure it would be her kisses that you would remember, how they led you way out into the open as she turned herself inside out in giving them to you.” Banana Rose by Natalie Goldberg

Who wouldn’t want kisses like that? I wonder if Carlos Tevez kisses like that? Just kidding, he’s too young for me, wink, wink.

I’ve read this book a dozen times. Each time loving it. That’s why I searched it out and read it again, digging for the truths I knew it contained. The problem is, this time I reacted differently to reading it. I cried my eyes out through the last part of the book. I think I’ve developed an intolerance for sadness. It’s like I’m coming out from under a cloud of sadness that I’ve been under forever and I just want to have fun. Not pretend fun. Not go to a bar and drink with all the other sad people pretending to have fun. Fun Fun.

But this book still has things to offer. New Mexico, for one. In New Mexico it’s possible to find many people who refuse to settle for any life but the one life that is genuine for them at any given time. Many people would think that protagonist Nell was drifting or lost but she wasn’t. She was refusing to settle for anything less than the growth and change her life called for. I resonate with this. I do it myself. It’s lonely a lot of the time. One needs Cherries and Betties for this life. I’m glad I have them, now.

This book is not romance genre. And it does not have an HEA. It has been described as achingly raw and it is. It’s also achingly beautiful. It does have an HFN, sort-of. It’s happily for now because you know Nell is back home in Taos and she’s going to be alright.

This is Natalie Goldberg’s only prose novel. She writes poetry and books about writing. She teaches writing workshops. Another of her books that I love is Long Quiet Highway. It’s autobiographical about her twelve years of studying Zen Buddhism with Zen master, Katagiri Roshi, whom she loved.

Poet references: Basho, Cesar Vallejo, Linda Gregg, and Pablo Neruda. For a sweet movie about Neruda see The Postman (Il Postino).

Painter references: Klee, Bonnard, Mark Rothko

That’s all for now. I’m going to find something fun to do. (Pucker up, Carlos, hehehe!)