Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Carrie Diaries

I have a confession to make. Somehow with all the commercials and hype about SATC2 I found out about The Carrie Diaries and when I saw it cheap at Target I couldn't resist putting it in my little red shopping cart.

What can I say. I grew up with the name Carrie in a world full of Jennifers and Lisas. It wasn't until I was in 6th grade that I really encountered someone with my same name. Also there are a gazillion versions of the name so while I knew Kerrys and Karis and Careys I didn't know a lot of Carries growing up. So naturally watching Carrie Bradshaw and her friends and their adventures in NYC was fun for me.

The Carrie Diaries tells the story of Carrie Bradshaw's life before moving to NYC. It is a look at her senior year of high school. During the book we meet Carrie's family and high school friends. We see her first steps into dating. She is dating someone who seems to be spending a lot of time with her best friend while on the other hand there is the nice guy from Brown who is interested in her but whose affections she can't seem to return.

I have to admit that this was not the best $13.50 I've ever spent. The problem with the prequel to Carrie's life is that I feel like I already know how it is going to turn out. This is probably why I made it through half of a Gossip Girl book as well. About halfway through the book I wasn't sure I actually had the motivation to keep turning the pages.

The other thing I didn't like about the book was that it seemed like Carrie and her high school friends smoke a lot. OK so I know this is realistic and that teenagers smoke and that teenagers in the 80's were probably more likely to smoke because of things like Joe Camel and the Marlboro Man. For some reason I have no problem with drinking in books but smoking in books bugs me.

I thought the portrayal of High School Carrie was good. There were things in the book that were universal to high school like dealing with the Queen Bee and figuring out where you want to go in life. Carrie doesn't have that nostalgic best-time-of-her-life view of high school. She has a dream of bigger and better things for herself.

I don't work in a book store so I don't know but I think this book is probably being purchased by fans of Sex and the City. But maybe the book will give Carrie a new generation of fans who follow her through high school and her adventures in NYC.

If you are a fan of the show/book my recommendation is to round up the Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte in your life and split the cost of this book. Then you will have a light summer read to share without the guilty feeling that you wasted your money on it.

Friday, May 21, 2010

back to work and reading

I'm back to work full time this week which means I haven't done as much writing this week.
I have done a lot of reading.
I started out reading a collection of speeches and writings by my mom's cousin that was published for her retirement. It was fun to read what she wrote. There were childhood memories and advice on sending kids off to school. I think one of the best things about reading this collection was the feeling that I maybe I wasn't switched at birth. The fact that there is another writer in my family tree gives me a little confidence in my own writing.

One of the speeches in the collection was about Nancy Drew which led me to pick up Nancy's Mysterious Letter this week. Reading Nancy Drew was entertaining. I love how the chapter's end with cliffhangers. I love some of the cheesy things in the books. There is one point where someone tells Nancy she's the best girl detective ever and she modestly says that lots of girls could be good detectives.

I also worked on the stack of books from the last Half Price Books shopping trip.
I decided to read the book Tennyson by Lesley M. M. Blume.
Tennyson and her sister Hattie live a carefree life until their mother leaves and their father goes to find her. Then they are sent to the family's decaying plantation, Agridoux.
The plantation was once grand but in the 1930's it is crumbling.
Aunt Henrietta is sure that the girls will save Agridoux by finding rich suitors and she begins training them in how to act like ladies.
Tennyson begins to learn the secret past of Agridoux and learns why her parents chose not to live there.

I thought the writing in this book was beautiful. The descriptions were amazing.
Writers will relate to Tennyson when she "fixes" one of her mom's stories but ends up upsetting her mom. From that point Tennyson feels like writing is her Mom's dream.
When she gets to Agridoux Tennyson begins writing again.

I highly recommend this book for the beautiful writing and for the glimpse into the history of the South after the Civil War.
Tennyson, by Lesley M.M. Blume

Monday, May 17, 2010


After going to my picture book critique group last week I was inspired by all the revisions of the other people. Seriously those ladies put the re back in revision last week.

I brought a story about a service dogthat I brought last time and didn't get a lot of critique on other than "We love it, it's perfect." Since it was a first draft I didn't believe that because well, yeah. This time I came away with more suggestions which has caused me to look at the story in a whole new light. Plus it has made me have higher hopes for the story which makes me want it to be awesome and perfect.

I decided to rewrite the story from a different perspective. The dog's perspective. So here is where I encounter my problem. When I get finished writing and read what is there I realize that my Yellow Labrador Retriever sounds more like a Shi Tzu. So now my challenge is to make the voice of my story sound more like a service dog and less like a lap dog.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The other day one of my FB friends posted in her status update about seeing a 70 year old woman reading a Babysitter Club Book on the bus.

Her status update got a lot of response from friends who had grown up reading these books. I had to remind myself to keep my comment short. i.e. I loved those books. Not: OMG those were the best, my friends and I started our own babysitters club blah blah blah. That is what my blog is for.

I was thinking about how much I loved the Babysitters Club books in my preteen years. I read them like they were candy and could usually not wait for the next one to come out.
The books inspired my friends and I to try to start our own babysitting club where we had meetings but since we were twelve we didn't have a lot of clients so the whole sit around and talk about babysitting schedules, challenges and what was going on with the kids we were babysitting for didn't really happen. I do remember that we had a rival gang of babysitters at our school so we had to be careful not to advertise on their turf.

Our babysitting club broke up when a couple of my friends moved but I continued to babysit. I still babysit now. As I was thinking about the Babysitters Club it made me wonder what my life would have been like if I had read more Nancy Drew books. Would I have wanted to start my own detective agency?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Carrie's Secret Drawer

When I was in middle school I convinced my mom that what I really needed was to have the family's secretary desk live in my room. I was sure that with all the little cubby holes for letters and things that the desk would be the organizational kick I needed to go from being a good student to being a great student. I imagined I would go from being a person who kept piles of paper to a person who kept things neatly tucked away in cubby holes.

I also really liked that I could fold up the desk part when I wasn't using it. In my mind the secretary desk was like the mullet of desks. When I wanted to dance around my room to my CDs the desk part would be out of the way. My current desk has this fold up feature as well. Since I still organize in piles of paper instead of cubby holes the table part has never been folded up.
my current desk

My mom loves to vacuum and hates my organizational system so maybe she thought the cubby holes would help. My mom put the secretary desk in my room and I was in heaven. I never met my mom's dad who was the original owner of the desk but when I was a kid I used to imagine him doing all sorts of cool, official things at his desk. I even found some old envelopes tucked between the cubby holes and the top of the desk. I was sure they belonged to my grandfather and that made them cool. It didn't take long before I discovered a secret drawer in the desk where I decided to keep notes from my friends and things I didn't want my parents to find.
The secret drawer

Apparently my secret drawer is no longer all that secret because my brother found it and likes to look in the drawer when he goes to visit Mom. Fortunately all the $100 bills that I used to keep there are long gone. A lot of my friends from middle school and high school know about the secret drawer. My mom calls it Carrie's secret drawer which makes me feel like even though everyone knows about it that it is still mine.

My stepdad forgets about the secret drawer and so when he cleans the desk and finds it there is always the thrill of discovery.

Since everyone knows about the secret drawer I started leaving notes in the secret drawer for my family.

When I was at the conference a couple weeks ago one of the presenter at the fantasy session I went to talked about secrets and how it is important for characters to have secrets. Naturally I thought of the secret drawer and how I thought it was the coolest thing when I was a kid. It was this place where I could keep things I wanted kept secret.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Conference recap

I had a wonderful time at the conference. It was great to reconnect with friends and to learn new things to put into practice.

I went to breakout sessions about Magic and Fantasy and Writing Suspense for Kids. I choose these because even though I'm not currently writing a a story with fantasy or magic I think that fantasy/magic appeals to kids. I went to Writing Suspense for Kids because I love when a book has me not wanting to put it down because I can't possibly wait until the next day to find out if the character gets out of whatever danger they are in. I think that kind of suspense can work in books for kids so I wanted some of those tools in my tool box.

I also went to a session on revision. At the revision session the presenter talked about how she likes revising. I'm trying to like revising. I've been working on revising my novel and this week I have had a hard time working on revising existing scenes and instead have spent more energy on writing some new scenes. The thing is I really like the new scenes so I want to work on those more than the old scenes.