"What I know is, is that if you do work that you love, and the work fulfills you, the rest will come." Oprah
Maybe it is lame to quote Oprah, but I'm desperatly hopeful
that she's right. This blog is really to try to deter the premature insanity that was beginning to emerge while I am learning web design, and following my passions. If you have a strong stomach, and good sense of humor, or are one of my friends or family (not optional for that group) please enjoy the ride.
The story starts with post #1, and continues to present day. I will keep you posted (pun intended), with the lasted chapter daily. Also, I will share my reviews of the books I escape with along the way.
Please, read, enjoy, comment, link, or message me. I'd love the feedback, it makes it seem less like I am just talking to myself.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

I am a genuis!

Today I realized I am a genius. No, really it is true. The problem is that the genius part of my brain only starts to work when I am falling asleep. I have the brilliant ideas while I am drifting off to sleep. I know while I am having those ideas, that they are possibly life changing. When I am awake, I am only of average intelligence, however. The reason for that I have decided is that I enjoy sleep too much, to get up and implement the ideas I have while I am in bed. I try to tell myself to remember them when I get up. I try and try to recall the genius, but nope it's always gone. If I could pop up right then, and go with the ideas, man I'd be on fire. Actually, I have a theory, it really is proof of the Universe's twisted sense of humor.

The geniuses, and brilliant people, well they just are smart enough to get up and go with their ideas before sleep erases them for the next day. Scientists say that we only use about 10% of our brains. What if the key to access that other 90% is that you have to be half awake to use it. Then if you go to sleep, well then too bad, so sad, it's lost.

Maybe tomorrow I'll remember.

"If You Can See Me Now" by Cecelia Ahern (Winter Book Challange Review #1)

I recommend, and loan out books I love, all the time. Rarely, does that happen to me, however. My author friend, Jen, loaned me this book with so much excitement, it was like she had found a treasure. I moved it to the top of my to be read list. I had not read anything by Cecelia Ahern, only heard of her since her book, "P.S. I Love You" just came out as a major movie. I would have passed it up on the shelf, 'cause it seemed to romancy for me. Those perfect happily ever after books depress me, so I pass. I prefer my characters to have some flaws, and relatable issues.

That said, wow, I think Cecelia Ahern is my new favorite author! She is Irish, young, beautiful, and her Daddy is the Prime Minister of Ireland. Easy to assume, those are the reasons she is published. Nope! Frankly, she is talented. She has written a movie, a TV show (Samantha Who), and several successful books. She has creativity oozing from her. I am so very jealous.

The book. "If You Could See Me Now" is a beautiful, original, and creative story. So, unusual in fact that it is difficult to give a brief description of the story without giving away spoilers. It takes place in Ireland, in a small, scenic village. Elizabeth is the young woman, who thinks she is in control of her life, but painfully unhappy with the cards she was dealt. Ivan enters her world, and, let's say, opens her eyes. I know, sounds like a blurb from a classic romance novel. Trust me, it's not, but to go into more detail would spoil it. This book did not disappoint, and is well written, and thought provoking. Total woman's book, but not in the usual "chick lit" style. It will be added to the list of books I enthusiastically recommend to my friends. Look for reviews of all of Cecelia Ahern's books soon, I plan to read them asap!

4 of 5 shiny new author stars!

up next: "Seven Dragons: A Guide To A Limitless Mind" by Jen Blackert

"Holy Smokes" by Katie MacAlister

QUALIFIER!! I am a proud Katie MacAlister fan. I am here to represent! Her "A Girl's Guide to Vampires" was my gateway book that got me addicted to paranormals, and urban fantasy. I have faithfully followed her Aisling Grey series, and buy then hot off the shelves. That said, this was not my favorite Aisling book. I would only recommend this book if you follow the series, it is not a stand alone.
Aisling is trying to get married. If everyone would stop intruding, and take care of their own problems, that would be simple. One crisis after another interrupt the weddings, yes that is weddings.
First, the positives. What is so fun about Ms. MacAlister's writing, is that all her paranormals while following different characters, and plots all take place in the same vivid, rich, creative, unique world. All the books exist in the same world, and follow the same rules, and dynamics. Katie MacAlister is also witty, sarcastic, and laugh out loud funny. So, you can count on that in any Katie Mac book you read. "Holy Smokes" maintains that tone. She also writes descriptive sex scenes, so if that is your thing, well consider this book like an all you can eat buffet at the MGM Grand, mimosas and all. I am usually left wishing that someone wanted me that passionately, and that often, and that I wanted them that badly, too. They don't call it fantasy for nothing.
Now, the bad. Ms. MacAlister is a very prolific writer, and publishes many books a year. And, this one I felt like should have been three books. Too many plot lines, and quick resolutions. I wanted follow up on all the issues, and although I realize that the tone of Aisling's life is chaotic, I felt like I was being rushed.
Overall, if you follow the series, this book is integral, and explains as much as it leaves open. I won't be abandoning this series, but I do feel like this episode in Aisling's life was unfulfilling.
I with heavy heart, give it 2.5 committed to the series stars.

Up Next: "If You Could See Me Now" by Cecelia Ahern

Saturday, December 29, 2007

I just finished..The Blog: Winter Book Challenge#links

I just finished..The Blog: Winter Book Challenge#links

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Winter Book Challenge

In 1965, when Richard and Robert Sherman wrote "It's a Small World" for Disney, it was more than a decade before computers were even available for home use. They could not even have imagined the world of the web. I am humbled, and reminded how amazingly huge the world wide web actually is, of course, after many many hours of surfing blogs, and book sites. My head was spinning.
Then, I was blessed by a comment, and invite by a fellow lit blogger from Karlene at InkSplasher http://inksplasher.blogspot.com/. Questions answered, and information offered, all free of charge out of "small world" type kindness. That is so refreshing, and motivating!
I also joined the Winter Reader's Challenge on InkSplasher, for a goal of reviewing every book I read for the 12 weeks of winter. The directions are actually to make your own goal and list of books to be read during the twelve weeks of winter. I actually have a to be read pile that spans the next 12 months at least, I am making three different, but related goals.

  1. To read a book a week for those twelve weeks of winter so a total of 12 books.
  2. To blog a review of each of those books.
  3. Stop putting the non-fiction books to the bottom of the pile, and try to learn something useful!

The second one really makes the challenge, since I don't really need much arm twisting to read a book a week. Interesting, quality reviews, of all those books, there in lies my challenge.

Wish me luck, and feel free to join in the fun! There are prizes involved, so sign up quick!

Now, I am off to finish my links list so I can get the blog out of it's construction phase, oh and read my weekly book, "If You Could See Me Now" by Cecelia Ahern.

Back to Work!

Woooo Hooooo! Back to work. No seriously! After the bout of quarantine worthy illnesses at our house, and then the holidays, I am ready to get back to work. I was gung ho to get here tonight. I logged online and was cruising along. I scheduled a first lesson with the web design instructor, and was logging on to problogger, to plow through the blogging for beginners series (http://www.problogger.net/archives/2006/02/14/blogging-for-beginners-2/). Somehow, I found myself, two hours later, on some other site about business start up boot camp, buying into the marketing, and thinking yeah, I should totally take that course. I need to figure out how to run my own business.
Luckily, the very, very, small voice of reason stepped in and mentioned that cart before the horse cliche. So, I remembered the point of the blog was to keep focused on the web site creation, and the book reviews. That means that when I am getting overwhelmed with information, which seems to happen more easily these days, I have to blog. I regain focus, and perspective with the blogging process. That is the theory anyway. So with my fingers crossed, and breath held, damn it I am always forgetting to breathe. (note to self, get back to yoga, ASAP!) Focus!
I think today, I really have to get my blog roll started. First, find out if you are supposed to get permission to link to other blogs, and how do I get them to link to mine. Also, the task for tonight, search and find blogs that I like and want to have listed on my blog. That seems like a worthwhile task. That is the model that every other blog seems to use, so it must work. Hopefully by the time people read this, there will also be a blog roll.
Oh, some good news, the first comment, random, no one I know, promise, was left on the site. Also, MetaxuCafe has listed my blog on their list of book blogs. I am very excited about that!
I have to get to work now! Wish me luck!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Can I PLEASE go back to work?

Now, I know that it is probably bad form to whine on a new blog, but since it is also my current journal, well I am going to risk it and whine away. Feel free to skip ahead to the next entry, no hard feelings. My goal is to be working in the cyber world full-time sooner than later, but I am still a nurse. I work private duty for an amazing little girl. I am on the overnight shift, so I get plenty of productive time online, while she is asleep. So, other than being tired often, I have not one single complaint. I also have a beautiful family, including a wonderful 8 month old. So, why am I whining you ask.
Well, in honor of the holidays, I have been burning the candle at both ends, and stressed like the rest of us. I also work some weekends at my pediatrician's office, and I think picked up a fun little virus, on my last shift. So, I have missed most of the last week at work.
That beautiful family still required care, despite my feeling crappy. Then, yesterday, my wonderful baby also got sick. So, now, it is a couple days till Christmas, I still have a list of things to do, and me and the darling daughter are sick of being sick.
Now, I am looking forward to getting well, enjoying the holiday, and then, hard as it is to admit aloud, getting back to work. Down time is great, but sick time makes the normal days of life look like a pleasure!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

In Way Over My Head! Part #3

Most of my friends, and family are polite enough to not say "Renee, just get on with the story will ya", but sometimes I can see it all over their faces. So, for the benefit of moving the story along, and to minimize the reliving of the discomfort in the first weeks of my budding new project, this post summarizes many weeks of trial and error, and general mind numbing frustration on my part.

The reality was that I was not the most savvy of computer users. I knew how to Google, and have had a yahoo account for ages, and online banking sometimes, a tiny bit of work stuff, but well, shamefully that was about the extent. The term painful learning curve is a gross understatement.

First problem, the name I wanted, I just finished reading etc was taken, parked to be specific. (Yes, I had to look up what parked meant, even.) So, I moved on to the alternative name that had already been suggested, I just finished... and that was officially registered as http://www.ijustfinished.com/, right after I watched and read ten or so tutorials about picking and registering a domain, and finding a web host.

Thankfully, unlike any other industry in the world, the Internet if filled with altruistic goodness, offered up by really smart people. Lucky for the rest of us! I hope those people are getting extra karma bonus points for their effort to make the world a better, or at least more informed place.

Eventually, after several trials and errors, and the purchase and reading of 5 computer web design manuals (those books aren't really meant to be read cover to cover, turns out), and thousands of dollars worth of gracious free troubleshooting by my in person, and Internet friends, I have a plan. I know, I would have liked to say, "I have a beautiful site, and please visit". But, alas, no not yet. It is still in my head it remains locked, until it is finally set free. I have a template. I have a site map, tons and tons of ideas. So many in fact that when I was again plaguing one of my generous friends for free assistance on my quest, she said, start a blog. Journal your experience. It will help keep you focused, and gather a readership. Get into the blogoshpere,and participate in the conversation that you want.

So, that brings us to now. I have the skeleton of a site, that is a work in progress. Actually, that has more progress than it actually online, because, yet again I am having publishing errors. My curse. Or at least my current curse. This blog is beginning it's infancy, and i have realized that I am going to have to pay for more help. You can only mooch off friends so long. So I am hopeful that with this focus, and some serious handholding through the rough spots, soon we will all be able to enjoy the conversation of books.

Feel free to visit the site, and give feedback, suggestions, helpful advise, or just watch the progress, with eager anticipation. Please visit here often, and stay posted, and enjoy the book reviews. I will be adding my blog roll in the next days, so feel free to send me your link, and let start that conversation!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Holidays Are Hell By Kim Harrison, Lynsay Sands, Marjorie M. Liu, and Vicki Pettersson

In the spirit of the season, albeit paranormal holidays, I thought I'd rush out and buy this book. I got sucked in and read it in two days. It is a compilation of four short paranormal stories.

I already follow the Rachel Morgan series that Kim Harrison writes. That series has a huge following, and rightly so, it is well written, and fun. Two Ghosts for Sister Rachel is a prequel to the series, and is set before Rachel starts her career. This younger Rachel story gives insight into characters previously only minimally introduced in the series, and lets you see a clearer image of Rachel's background. Some of the aspects that shape her adult self, and motivations. That part of the story was very satisfying for me, since I am committed to the series. The overall story however was a little rushed. I hate to nit pick, since the Hollowsverse (as the world Ms Harrison writes is known), is so amazing. The thing is, after reading a Rachel book, I always come away wanting more. Having unanswered questions, and this story just wrapped up too neatly for my expectations. But, as a stand alone, it is great. I give it 4 out of 5, I'm committed to the series, stars!

Run, Run, Rudolph is by Lyndsay Sands. This is a continuation of another short story she wrote in a different anthology, Dates from Hell. As she does with some of her other writing she profiles characters that had supporting roles in the previous story. That makes it fun, but stand alone as well. Ms. Sands style is light, and more romantic than the other three stories, but fun nonetheless. It was an entertaining, quick read. Satisfying in a, funny episode of a sitcom way. 3 out of 5 light funny stars.

Marjorie M Liu, wow! I have never read anything by her, but have considered her on my "I should check her out" list. Her story Six, placed her in the "next new author I read" pile. This story, and I think generally her theme, is based in the east, China and the like. Her paranormal world looks and feels much different than the mainstream ones of this genre. Much more exotic, and foreign. I admit the short story was difficult to understand until it was underway, but it was interesting, and complex. It made me want to go out and buy all her stuff, so watch for more ML Liu, soon. 5 out of 5 very interested stars.

And, finally, The Harvest by Vicki Pettersson. This, I gathered after I read the story, is a part of a series, as well. That ironically, is my only real complaint. I haven't read this series, and was lost for the first half of the story. The writing is good, and the world is clever (all in Las Vegas), with original concepts I hadn't yet encountered. It is, as best I can figure, a prequel to the series. I will read her Zodiac series, but still wish I had read the first one at least, so that I had a better understanding of the world she has written. I found the main character difficult to relate to, but interesting. I think I will enjoy the series more, that main character is the daughter who is only mentioned in The Harvest. I give it 3 out of 5 tentative stars, but might have been more if I was familiar with the books.

Please, tell me what you thought.

Next Up... Holy Smokes by Katie Macalister.

In Way Over My Head! Part #2

So, the idea. I have this habit of really getting into the books I read. Well, the good ones, anyway. So when I finish one I enjoy, I want more. More of the character, more info, the next book, anything else the author has written, and well, you get the idea. During the time my idea light bulb was slowing gaining wattage, I had recently visited two of my favorite author's sites for more information on their respective series' that I had just finished reading. I noticed that they had different formats. One had her own chat, one referred to a Yahoo group. One had a blog, one had extras posted. Anyway, the inspiration that dawned on me was this:

What if there was a clearinghouse, a website that had many authors, and you could click on their page, and see their titles, and all the relevant info, the upcoming stuff, the links, and then, (this is the kicker) a discussion board for each of their books. The idea being that when you read a well written book, you are compelled to discuss it. Most of the people around you haven't read the same book, so they aren't much fun. Why not get together and discuss the books you read with other people who also read the same book. Hence the birth of the idea for www.ijustfinished.com, and the beginning of my painfully passionate journey into my new career.

With me so far? Well, it seemed very logical at the time. Of course, the time was around 4am, I was at work, and had no one to talk to, to you know look at me like a was crazy. So, I indulged myself in the visualizations of my grand web site, and new budding web site owner, and soon to be designer career. I conceptualized, and managed a vivid mental picture. A side effect from all that reading is a good imagination. Well, that mental image would come back to haunt me several times over, but those are later stories.

So, the sun comes up, and I start to tell people about the idea. At the time it was imagined I called the site I just finished reading dot com, a play on the conversation opener. Most of the people who love me patiently listened, and had the same question: "sounds like a great idea, but how is that a career, and how do you make money", and that was quickly followed up with, "you don't even check you email everyday, how are you going to create a web site?" I am the idea girl, do I have to figure out everything?

It became apparent quickly that, yep, I do. It was my baby, my idea, my site, therefore my problem. Much like a newborn baby, relating back to the labor analogy (can you tell I just had a baby?), you are head over heels in love with the baby, but have no idea what a daunting task you are heading into. And, like the first weeks, and months of an infant's care, it was much harder than I had imagined.

Luckily, (for me and my newish baby)I am stubborn, and resourceful, and remember fearless, slightly ignorant, and optimistic, so the story continues...

(This is the beginning of the unfolding of a newborn project, it's ups and downs, and bumps, and bruises along the way. Please, stay tuned for the next chapter.)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

In Way Over My Head! Part #1

In self help books the advise to make changes in your life usually is something along the lines of "get out of your comfort zone", so right now, my life must be changing drastically. That, actually is the goal, but much like the goal of having a baby, the imagined labor and the actual labor experience are very different. Having done the later twice myself, I can attest that even the second time around the imagined is far more glamorus, and fun than the real experience. So, in the same fearless, slightly ignorant, and optimistic fashion as I approached both of my children's births, I decided that it was time for a career change. Actually, I have considered the idea for many years, but always was stumped with the, "yes well I HATE being a nurse, but what else can I do?" dilemma. The problem is that as a pediatric nurse, I am employable. Most people say, well that is great, high demand, valid career, make a difference, yada yada yada. What they don't know is that most of those "great" jobs are actually awful jobs, doing awful things to, in my case children, and bearing an emotional cost that is never, ever compensated adequately. Whew, okay just a sec while I climb off my burned out nurse soapbox now.

So, much like a quest for the Holy Grail, I set out to figure out what I should do with my life instead. As these things happen, random incidents added up to an epiphany. First, there was the suggestion of "hey, you should learn web design, since you are so creative" comment from my significant other, that I quickly dismissed. Then, the "hey, you could be my virtual assistant and build a career of that, have the ease of working from home" suggestion that my successful marketing coach, author, yoga instructor, all around guru friend Jen offered up. I, being that optimistic, and slightly desperate person seeking career change that I am said, "sounds perfect, give me the projects".

Two months later, I was still reluctantly searching her list of websites that she needed follow up info from, and suffering. It was work, and actually it was secretarial work. Problem was, I became a nurse in the first place, because I wasn't much of a secretary. Then, as I was wallowing in my personal rut, I was skimming a blog for info for Jen, and read a: Top Ten Things You Need to Do to Change Careers. Man oh man, I wish I would have had the foresight to save that site, because I'd really love to give that author credit! The list's point was do something that you know, but more importantly what you love. I know you are thinking, "that is not a new concept, Renee". Sometimes I am a little slow to catch up to the crowd, and need the not so subtle smack to the head to get my brain working. That list got my mind mulling over ideas. Well, I love my family, but overdone, and I'm no expert, that's for sure. I love yoga, but again far from an expert, hell, I'm having trouble getting to class to lose the baby weight. Most of the rest of the things I came up with I could easily dismiss, so I decided my brain hurt from all the secretarial work, that I just wanted to read my new book. Then, literally, inspiration, just like a cartoon, light bulbs, fireworks, neon sign, I mean duh! BOOKS!

That is my first passion. My childhood timeline I marked by the books I was reading at the time. No actually, not just my timeline, my most vivid childhood memories are of the books I read, and loved. Who wrote them, where I was when I read them. Reading was my escape then, and continues to be now. Of course, I can't so much mark my days by what I read anymore, since I read so often. It is easier when you don't have homework, and bedtimes to distract you. So then the idea began to take shape.

(This is the beginning of the unfolding of a newborn project, it's ups and downs, and bumps, and bruises along the way. Please, stay tuned for the next chapter.)