Friday, December 25, 2015

The Cephalopod Coffeehouse and Other News

Welcome to another edition of the Cephalopod Coffeehouse. The idea is simple: on the last Friday of each month, post about the best book you've finished over the past month while visiting other bloggers doing the same.  In this way, we'll all have the opportunity to share our thoughts and our books with other enthusiastic readers. Please join us:

http://armchairsquid.blogspot.com/2015/11/the-cephalopod-coffeehouse-december.html


 I have been a shit reader this year. Seriously. For reasons unknown, I just haven’t felt much like reading and when I have, most of the books I picked up did not hold my interest. I have been such a crappy reader, in fact, that I haven’t even read a single book this whole month, which means you get a review of a book I read last month: Hot Flashes and Cold Lemonade by Susan Flett Swiderski.



Generally speaking, I don’t read women’s fiction or stories that take place in the real ordinary world we live in. I tend to like more adventure, intrigue, magic maybe, or a ghost or two in my stories. However, if you like women’s fiction and real-life stories, then this might be the perfect book for you.

This story is based entirely in the real world, Pearl’s world, which is pretty normal and average at first glance. She has an odd relationship with her mother that took me forever to figure out, thinks her dad can do no wrong, and I could totally relate to her blindness when it came to her ‘golden boy’ son. We all want to think the best of our kids, help them out when we can. It took a lot for Pearl to see how he was using her, manipulating her, and I have to admit I wanted a little more come-uppance for him. I loved all Pearl’s quirky friends—especially Candy—and  Pearl's family, and how she assumed a certain something was going on because she couldn’t imagine anything else. I especially loved how Pearl changed, not drastically, but just enough so she could be a better person for herself AND her family.

My only complaint (and I hate to use that word because it’s entirely subjective) is that there was a lot of description. Susan has a great way of describing things, like this: “Leggy petunias still loitered in her garden, slouched beside the chrysanthemums like a gang of long-limbed teenagers with no place to go.” Can’t you just picture that? The problem was that the description slowed down the pacing and it just felt like too much at times. For me.

Aside from that, this book was well-formatted and error free as far as I could tell, and if you like slice-of-life stories, you would probably love this.


In other news: I have been completely wrapped up in my new WIP and writing like a fiend on a mission. I don’t think I’ve felt this excited about writing in a while, and since November I’ve logged nearly 50K words (and I’m not counting the ones I wrote and then cut!), including 11K in notes alone.

I did quite a bit of outlining to start off with, and it took me a LONG time to get the first chapter down. But once I did, the rest has been…dare I say, fairly easy?

What I’ve learned thus far: Although I wrote a chapter by chapter outline for about half the book, I’ve deviated greatly from it. Which reminds me of playing Skyrim and wandering in the wilderness and suddenly seeing some hidden fortress. “What’s that over there?” I think, immediately heading towards it even though I was on a mission/quest. Sometimes these detours prove fruitful. Okay, most of the time in Skyrim, but in the writing world, detours don’t always pan out. Lucky for me, so far most of mine have, which is why I’m having so much fun with this. There are treasure everywhere!

Tarot Cards: I’ve always thought they were interesting; I have a small book about them and my own deck, but I’ve never really played with them. Then I did a little research and discovered the Visconti-Scorfza Tarot Cards, now held in the Beineke Rare Book& Manuscript Library. Having seen them, I can see why I didn't care much for my deck. I want this deck. Please.

Here’s a photo of the Ten of Swords, which played a part in a chapter I recently wrote:


 

Isn’t it effing gorgeous? And all the cards are equally stunning.


Writing is fun again, even addictive. I can’t wait to get at it in the morning and tend to think about my characters and where they are and what they’ll do next while I'm working, driving, or grocery shopping. And I’ll tell you a secret that’s both nice and (for me) a little worrisome: It’s been almost too easy at times, too fun. My muse is definitely with me and I think she likes what I'm doing. Let's hope she sticks around a while because if this trend continues, I might just have a new novel in a couple of months :)

Finally:

This is my boss' tree. Also stunning.





Happy Christmas all!



19 comments:

  1. Tarot cards are awesome! I don't understand anything about what they mean but I've always been intrigued. I own a deck but have no idea where it is - somewhere in a box with my palm-reading book, I expect.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mine are somewhere, too, and after seeing pics of the Visconti-scorfza deck, I don't even want them anymore. They aren't pretty enough!

      Delete
  2. No wonder you haven't been reading, if the muse has you in her thrall.
    And this greedy reader is very happy to hear that a new book is on the horizon.
    Merry Christmas.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "I may be having too much fun. Oh, but, wait, there's no thing, is there :)

      Delete
  3. This book sounds intersting but must admit that it's not my usual reading material either. I've always thought Tarot card were works of art, each deck can be so personal, but I don't know much about them. Hope you get back into your usual reading flow soon.
    Merry Christmas.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hopefully 2016 will be a better reading year.

      Delete
  4. Good to hear of the WIP excitement and Merry Christmas!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Merry Christmas back at you!

      Delete
  5. Wow, nearly 50K, very cool. Happy Christmas.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Merry Christmas! What a great feeling to be excited about a WIP. That's a fabulous word count.

    I've been suffering a little from shiny new idea syndrome. Got started writing a new story a few weeks ago when I was already up to my knees in another story, but you gotta follow the passion I suppose. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ooh, those shiny new ideas. How they sparkle...And it IS a great feeling to be excited!

      Delete
  7. Hmmm, I believe I may have read that book a time or two hundred... It kinda tickles me that you think my book has too much description, because the only criticism a "Writer's Digest" editor gave me is that it doesn't have ENOUGH! I reckon our expectations are pretty subjective. :)

    I'm glad to hear you're excited about a new writing project. It's great to wake up in the morning with a head bubbling with ideas for a WIP. (Heck, at my age, I'm happy just to wake up!)

    Happy New Year! May your muse continue to whisper in your ear.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's why I sometimes I hate writing reviews for books; because it is just my opinion and let's face it, I'm not a professional reviewer.

      I hope my muse continues to whisper in my ear, too :)

      Delete
  8. Thanks for sharing! Good to know you've got your writing groove going. And, I do pick up women's fic from time to time, so I'll keep this on my radar.
    Best wishes for a blessed new year!
    Veronica

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you like women's fiction I think you'd love this book :)

      Delete
  9. I think things go in waves. Right now you're riding a writing wave. Which is good. Ride it as long as you can.

    I have several Tarot decks. The pretty ones are great to have. I think they speak to us better when we find them pretty.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I only have one, the typical Rider-Waite whose illustrations don't impress me much.

      Delete

If you're interested in my blog I'm interested in your comments.