Category Archives: Thoughtfulness

Probing questions and random stories about writing and romance

Announcing the Mistletoe Madness blog hop & giveaway

Mistletoe Madness 2011I’m going to be participating in the Mistletoe Madness blog hop starting on Friday, December 16!

This is my first blog hop, and I’m thrilled to be taking part with more than 50 book bloggers, each of whom will be hosting a giveaway.

On Friday, I’ll announce what my giveaway is. In the meantime, on PJ Schnyder’s site, you can see who else is participating so you can start checking out their blogs and maybe follow them. Between December 16-23 you’ll be able to fill out a form on PJ’s site to enter the giveaway for a Nook! (US only)

Look forward to seeing you all here on Friday!

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Video: British sailors’ Christmas wish comes true

The HMS Ocean was supposed to be at sea for seven weeks.

Seven months later, they’ve finally returned to their port in Plymouth. When they found out they’d be home in time for Christmas, they shot a music video set to Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas.

Mariah tweeted them to say they’d made her day.

I hope it makes yours, too!

Many came home today to meet their babies for the first time. One man I saw on the news coverage tonight managed to fly home for the birth of his twin girls, but had to get back to the ship afterward. What an incredible day this must be for them and their families. And an incredible night. 😉

You can see the BBC’s coverage of their homecoming on the BBC News website.

I love a great reunion story, and Christmas makes it all the better. Have you heard or read any great reunion stories lately?

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Discovering the book you wish you’d written

A few weeks ago, I sat down to read a book by a new-to-me author that’s coming out soon. The premise had sounded intriguing, but to be honest, I’d requested it along with about a dozen others so by the time I started reading it I couldn’t even remember what it was supposed to be about.

So I read. And I read. And soon I started thinking, “Holy crap, why didn’t I write this book!”

Just to be clear, I don’t think I could’ve actually written this book, for many reasons. It doesn’t have a similar plot to any of my stories. The characters are very different from mine. It’s not even the same subgenre I write.

But it’s set in the same sort of world I’ve worked in for years, a world I’ve researched backwards and forwards and spent countless hours writing about for my day job: the world of major disasters.

The book I wish I’d written is Hot Zone by Catherine Mann. And this is how I tried to console myself for not having written it.

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Are men worse at writing sex than women?

The Literary Review has announced its nominees for the 2011 Bad Sex in Fiction Award.

If you’re not familiar with the Bad Sex in Fiction award, I can’t describe it any better than Jezebel magazine does:

[E]ach year the Literary Review has singled out an author who writes awkwardly enough about sex to convince readers that the winning author’s experience with actual sex acts has been limited to puppet performances put on by a middle school health teacher who had a very limited sense of irony.

Frustrated man at a laptop

rajsun22/sxc.hu

This year, male nominees far outnumber females, an occurrence that isn’t unusual. In fact, only two women have won the undesirable award since it began in 1993.

So are men worse at writing sex than women?

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Friday feminist funnies

I’ve stumbled across some brilliant parodies this week. The first is the blog Feminist Ryan Gosling, with its “Hey, girl” captions.

Feminist Ryan Gosling has only been around for about six weeks. Danielle, a University of Wisconsin grad student and teacher on the gender studies program, created it as a way of helping her remember the feminist theories she was reading.

Sadly, I first heard of Ryan Gosling only a few months ago, after my mom took my teenaged cousins to one of his movies (don’t ask me which one). When I asked her how the movie was, she hesitated and said, “Well, the girls liked it. And it’s not hard to spend two hours staring at Ryan Gosling.”

If Mom finds him attractive, I feel I can’t.

Genetics are perverse, eh?

My other favorite finds of the week are videos from The Second City Network, with Disney princesses giving love advice to young girls.

And let’s not forget Snow White with her seven man-friends.

Priceless.

What dating advice would other Disney princesses give young girls? Jasmine? Sleeping Beauty? Ooh, Sleeping Beauty’s gotta be ripe for giving sound relationship advice.

Do you have a favorite Feminist Ryan Gosling photo? Or do you prefer staring at him without the captions?

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Authors’ surprising hobbies

I have a game for those of you of a literary bent.

Match these writers with their hobbies (answers here but don’t cheat!)

1. Emily Dickenson

2. Vladimir Nabokov

3. Franz Kafka

4. Ayn Rand

5. Flannery O’Connor

6. Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes

7. Haruki Murakami

8. Zadie Smith

9. Mark Twain

a. raising peacocks

b. beekeeping

c. baking

d. inventing things

e. lepidopterology (studying butterflies and moths)

f. dancing

g. stamp collecting

h. listening to jazz

i. collecting porn

How did you do? Which of your hobbies would surprise people? 

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My favorite war poem

When I was in college, I took an absolutely brilliant class on 20th century American war literature. Although my beliefs have always tended strongly toward pacifism, I grew up in a city with large military bases and a strong military history.

My grandfather told me stories of his experiences in the Philippines and Japan. Grandma said he never once spoke of the war after he came home until I was 12 and told him what I’d learned about it in school. He started telling me stories, and it was the first time she’d heard them, too.

I can’t think of any literature more heartbreaking than stories of armed conflict. For me, the most powerful stories aren’t those that focus on the political or ideological nature of war, but on the personal. The best war fiction shows the often absurd nature of conflict, and the contrast between those who are far removed from battlefields – families, politicians, media – and those who are far too close.

That’s why this poem – my sweet old etcetera by e.e. cummings – is my favorite war poem. In fact, it’s one of my favorite poems on any subject. I can’t read it without picturing my 22-year-old grandfather lying in mud and dreaming about the 19-year-old wife he left in California.

my sweet old etcetera

by e.e. cummings

my sweet old etcetera
aunt lucy during the recent

war could and what
is more did tell you just
what everybody was fighting

for,
my sister

isabel created hundreds
(and
hundreds) of socks not to
mention shirts fleaproof earwarmers

etcetera wristers etcetera, my

mother hoped that

i would die etcetera
bravely of course my father used
to become hoarse talking about how it was
a privilege and if only he
could meanwhile my

self etcetera lay quietly
in the deep mud et

cetera
(dreaming,
et
cetera, of
Your smile
eyes knees and of your Etcetera)

Do you have a favorite war poem or story? How are you marking Remembrance Day/Veterans Day?

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More hot men are concerned about your breasts

I don’t usually drool and post pictures/videos of ripped men…unless I can find a way to relate it to writing.

Remember last week I shared that video by Rethink Breast Cancer? The one featuring hot guys showing you how to check yourself for lumps and also served as a great lesson on providing a unique twist on the same old content?

Mmmm…

Sorry – I mentally wandered for a second there. Well, yesterday stars from the British TV show Loose Women (basically The View) had the incredible opportunity to visit London rugby team Harlequins…and wander around the locker room where the players were nekkid.

For copyright reasons, I’ll be a good girl and won’t post the pictures here. But you can see them here. Don’t worry – the men have strategically placed balls.

Rugby balls, that is.

Good thing rugby balls are long.

I couldn’t figure out whether the photo shoot was related to Harlequins’ support for the charity Breast Cancer Care. They’ll be supporting the charity on 29 October at their Ladies’ Day match. My husband’s a season-ticket holder for their cross-town rival, and that’s our last day in London, so I won’t be going. I hope everyone who does will donate, though.

Whether the photo shoot is for a good cause or is purely gratuitous, it’s still great for me – I’m in the process of rewriting my contemporary romance featuring a London rugby player. These pics have inspired all sorts of ideas…which you’ll get to read if this novel is published.

How many ways are there to describe abs like this?

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These hot men are concerned about your breasts

Ladies and gay men, behold the best breast self-exam video I’ve ever seen.

I work in charity communications, and I’m jealous as all hell of the team that developed this video and app.

Done drooling yet? No? Okay, watch it one more time and then come back to me.

Done now? Good.

Writer and blogger friends, this video is a lesson in packages. No, not the packages the happy dancing men display during the credits, but the packages we wrap our content up in.

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What’s your definition of a keeper?

Stacks of books

flickr.com/people/georgmayer/

We bookworms often talk about which novels deserve space on our keeper shelf. For some, it’s a symbolic expression referring to books we adore, whether we own them or not.

For others, the keeper shelf is an actual shelf or bookcase with a finite amount of space. In my case, it’s two plastic containers under my bed since the three bookcases in our spare room are mostly filled with my husband’s books (friends, never marry a fellow bookworm, unless you want to spend time fighting over whose books are more worthy of shelf space).

Our flat is tiny. When my American family comes to visit, they all exclaim over how “cute” it is. I know they mean tiny. So I’ve had to be rather ruthless about which books I keep and which I give away after reading.

In less than a month, though, I’m moving to the Netherlands. I’m spending the next few weeks clearing out all the stuff I’ve accumulated in my six years in London, and it’s a chore I never want to have to do again.

You see, I attach sentiment to objects. I remember where I bought them and how I felt at the time. Even if I haven’t ever used them, I convince myself I will one day end up wandering around my flat muttering, “Now, where did I put that left-handed paper stretcher? Surely I wouldn’t have given away such a useful item!”

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