Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Summer Stuff

Well, it's been a strange summer so far, alternatively crazy-busy and then peacefully serene. (Or as serene as a house with four young people and a dachshund can be, LOL!)

My brother married his beautiful bride on Saturday on a mountaintop in Wildomar (north of Temecula), and so we welcome Ari and her two young people, Brooke and Grant, into our family officially. The sunset ceremony was lovely, and then the kids and the wedded couple danced under the stars, with the addition of a distant lightning storm illuminating the clouds over the desert. My sister and her family who live in Montana were here for two weeks, arriving in time for the traditional 4th of July Beach and BBQ at my parents' home in Pacific Beach and staying through the wedding.

I've been working hard on my new job at Brave Writer which currently involves teaching a new class in writing Fan Fiction. Because it's a new class, I'm constantly writing posts and assignments as well as responding to the students' work. My own fan fiction novels and stories are doing well, and I'm approaching 1.5 million reads between the two sites on which I post. I've written well over 100 chapters between the two novels and the three short stories, and teaching the fan fiction class is renewing my inspiration as I strive to complete my second novel (I'm about 3/4 the way done and have written 43 chapters so far).

But I've spent a lot of time reading this summer as well. The first novel I tackled was The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Yes, the movie was popular, but I haven't seen it yet, but if it's half as compelling as the book, it will be wonderful. Yet the book was difficult to read--not because of vocabulary or quality, but because of the difficult subject matter. I cringed so often as I read it, hating the way "the help"was treated, especially being forced to use different bathrooms from their employers because African-Americans "were diseased." Ugh!!! And readers can see the train wreck coming a mile away as one white woman and one black woman seek to change the situation by writing a book together. When the slow-building climax does occur, it's expected but nonetheless powerful. It was a book I was loathe to pick up to continue reading each evening, but once I started reading it, I just couldn't stop. If there were only one word I choose to describe The Help it would be compelling. Truly.

Between The Help and the next recent release I've been reading, I picked up the Anne of Green Gables series again. I taught the first book in a literary analysis class in the fall at Brave Writer, but I really missed Avonlea and all of Anne's capers, so I thought I'd reread the whole eight-book series. So I made my way quickly through Anne of Avonlea and Anne of the Island. Finally Anne and Gilbert are together, even though my least favorite book of the series, Anne of Windy Poplars, is next. I may just skim it so that I can start one of my favorites, Anne's House of Dreams.

But before I return to lovely Prince Edward Island, I've taken a serious detour and am currently reading Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. I know, considering my love for the Twilight books, one must wonder if I have a thing for vampires. But truly, it's not so. I'm just a fan of the author, Seth Grahame-Smith whose hilarious Pride and Prejudice and Zombies amused me when I listened to it on audio book over the winter. I haven't yet attempted Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, mostly because I don't have easy access to a copy. But Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is fascinating. I'm learning a lot about Lincoln's life as background to the novel, and I'm quite fascinated by Lincoln's bravery in killing renegade vampires. The premise of the book is that slavery provided vampires with a steady diet of victims they could purchase at will, thus providing the reasoning behind Lincoln's hatred of slavery and willingness to enter the Civil War.

I'm still trying to add the final Harry Potter audio book to my iPod; once Half Blood Prince is properly loaded in, I'll be uploading the thirty-disc monstrosity of Stephen King's Under the Dome. The book is simply too heavy to carry, and the Kindle version is $15, which is about $14 too much to spend. So I'll try the audio version as soon as I can. :) After all, I promised my friend from second grade, Teddy Vardell, that I would read Under the Dome if he read Harry Potter (all seven books), and now that he's starting Half Blood Prince, I need to get moving. :)

We've been watching some great old movies this summer, too. Yesterday Elizabeth and I watched two movies from the 1950s: How to Marry a Millionaire with Marilyn Monroe, Lauren Bacall, and Betty Grable, and Funny Face with Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire. Astaire was 58 when he filmed the movie, but his dancing was just as light and perfect as when he was dancing in the mid-1930s. We're also on a Jeeves and Wooster kick right now as we finished Season 1 and am waiting for Season 2 to arrive from the library. I also want to order Season 2 of Castle since the boys have missed it all because it's on too late for them to watch. I still want Castle's bullet-proof vest emblazoned with "Writer" across the front instead of "FBI" or "NYPD."

So that's what we've been up to this summer. As I said, it's been alternatively crazy-busy and wonderfully peaceful, and I'm hoping for more of both as the summer sun continues to shine, and we continue to swelter....

Happy Sum-Sum-Summertime,


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