Read On

Christmas equaled reading time in these parts. A princess with pneumonia, not to mention other family members—including myself—with assorted head colds/congestion, set things up for a low-key Yuletide. Because of this, I was able to do something I haven’t done in a while: read a book in a day.

Actually, I finished one book and read two others within a sixteen hour period. Of course, I was up until two in the morning to complete the trilogy, but I had to find out how Jane’s story ended. 100_4593

Jennifer L. Holm crafted a well-rounded heroine in Jane Peck. Boston Jane: An Adventure is a novel I picked up in the bargain section of a bookstore several months ago. I started it on the twenty-third and finished it Christmas morning. A few hours later, after searching on-line for the other two books in my local library system—negative—I went ahead and purchased the second, Boston Jane: Wilderness Days, on my Nook. Then, at about ten o’clock Christmas night, I purchased Boston Jane: The Claim and stayed awake until I finished it. Extremely satisfying!

To start 2014off with something fresh, I joined Goodreads last night—look me up if you’re there, too. I’d been receiving invites to the site from my book-loving friends for years, but put off signing up because I knew I’d be sucked in. I’ve already rated five hundred books from recent years, as well as a few long-time favorites.

I’m thinking about setting a reading goal for the New Year and I’m leaning toward one hundred and fifty books. Have you ever set a reading goal or tracked your reading habits? What are your numbers?

Light it Up, Softly

Sensory issues are often the crux of the symptoms of autism spectrum disorders, and because most people spend their waking hours with their eyes open, visual problems are often the most tiresome. Light sources, rather natural or manmade, can be a blessing or curse for those with this sensitivity. 100_4588

In the U.S., we’re on the verge of a possible lighting crisis. The turn of the New Year will mark another reduction in light bulb options, closing the choice of yet more incandescent bulbs at stores around the country. Fluorescent lights, whether long strip bulbs or the compact swirly ones (which are terrible for the earth—read the disposal warning on them), are often visual triggers for susceptible people. The flicker, harsh glow, and even the hum of the offending bulbs can cause headache, eye fatigue or emotional meltdowns for those with sensory difficulties.

The same thing happened, not long ago, in the United Kingdom. You can read one account of it here. http://www.autism.org.uk/working-with/leisure-and-environments/architects/light-sensitivity-and-autism.aspx

This an important situation for me, as myself and loved ones suffer from light sensitivity. Ben, one of the main characters in CORRODED (one of my fictional labors of love, yet-to-be-published stories) has to deal with this as well. Here’s a little peek, from Chapter Ten, when Mary and Ben are at his house playing a round of Battleship.

“You never explained to me why you don’t go outside during the day,” I said.
“I go outside. Remember the first day we met? I sat on the porch with you and your mom.”
“Oh… well, then why don’t you go for walks and stuff?” I asked.
“I’m sensitive to sunlight.”
“Like, you burn easily?”
Ben shook his hands like he was air-drying them. “No, it’s my eyes. Bright sunlight causes sensory overload and I can barely function. Fluorescent light does the same thing. It’s common for Aspies.”
I looked up at the soft white glow of the over-head lights. “So, going to schools and office buildings must be difficult.”
“The worst. That’s one of the reasons I homeschool. If I do have to venture out for a medical appointment or something I wear sunglasses inside.”

Movies and Me

This past month has been theater going, as promised. I’ve been to four movies in as many weeks, which is twice as many as I usually attend in a full year.

First up was Ender’s Game. Since I’d recently read the novel—as well as Ender’s Shadow—the storyline was a bit disappointing. Chop and hack galore. But the actors were great and it was visually impressive, as well as moving. My eyes were moist once, maybe twice. I think I hid it well.

Thor: The Dark World was epic! I’d waited almost two decades for Thor on the big screen, and all the movies featuring him have been awesome, but this one was fabulous. I cried once, and my husband didn’t tease me about it until afterwards.thor dark world

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire was amazing. I went to this one alone and used my hoodie sleeve to wipe the tears running down my face more times than I can count.

Frozen was our Tuesday bargain today. I took two out of the three kidlets and we had the theater to ourselves, which is always good. My teen with autism isn’t the most quiet movie watcher and the little princess switched seats often. I was moved to tears during the “Let it Go” musical scene, even while the youngest was climbing around my lap.

Notice the pattern?

I’m sure I’ll shed more tears when I make it to The Book Thief, and probably for The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug. That should hold me over through New Year’s.

Have you enjoyed any of the new releases? Do you cry during movies? Please tell me I’m not alone.

Happy 2013, World!

fireworksAnd Happy 100th Blog Post to me!

Four years of blogging, and I finally met THE milestone. Just the other night my 2012 Stats were revealed—I’ve had slow but steady improvements. I believe more networking, both locally and online, have a lot to do with it. Plus switching to Word Press from Blogger. Maybe the new dot com. Or the fact that there is now a “Carrie Cox” publishing very much adult books over on Amazon.

But who really knows?

I write to process life and share with others. The fact that people read what I write—or at least click the link—is a bonus. I’ve written about my kidlets, my reading habits, homeschooling, autism, and a bit about current events. This past week I’ve posted a few excerpts from CORRODED, the novel I’m querying publishers about. It’s been great to revisit Mary, Ben and the others and I hope to bring them back to the forefront of the blog when the time comes to publish the book. (No news, yet.)

Now, back to work on my historical—FORTITUDE. Check out my Pinterest page about this gem at http://pinterest.com/wonderwegian/fortitude/

You’ve stopped by so please share your comments. What would you like to read on here in 2013?

CORRODED: Mary’s New Years Eve

Hope everyone has a safe and happy night! Here’s a peek at how Mary Weber spends New Year’s Eve:

Mom was finishing paperwork in her truck when I reached the house. I went through the back gate. The old pine boards scraped the concrete path as it opened and shut. I took off my clogs, setting them on the gravel under the faucet and then put my socks, black with dirt, next to them before stepping through the sliding glass door.

My sweaty feet left damp footprints on the newly waxed black-and-white tile floor. The turquoise vinyl chairs at the dining room table were extra shiny, and the straw and napkin dispensers were even full. Dad knew what to do on a day like this: feed Mom’s yearly meltdown with homemade hamburgers, French fries and malts, all spread out on their fifties style dinner table.

Dad was hand-shaping meat patties in the kitchen. I grabbed a crisp piece of lettuce off the platter on the serving counter. “She’s just about done with paperwork,” I warned.

“Then cue the dearly departed teen idol, Mary.” Dad slapped a burger into the hot frying pan, causing it to sizzle and pop.

I laughed at him when he turned around. He was wearing the hideous floral print apron my mom had found at a thrift store. There was nothing like seeing your retired Navy Dad wearing something a housewife would’ve worn in the old days.

“Orange and green are definitely your colors.”

“Just don’t forget the music before you head upstairs.” He shook the spatula at me.

I saluted him with another piece of lettuce and went around the corner to the living room. Dad made Mom’s yearly mourning of the loss of “the original teen idol,” Rick Nelson, bearable. My mom had just been a kid when the singer was killed in a New Year’s Eve plane crash in 1985, but if there was anything she loved more than tacky aprons, it was Rick Nelson. Dad pretended that he did the classic American meal to feed Mom comfort food on her evening of sadness, but I knew it was his way of cooking me a special Birthday Eve dinner because Mom spent most of New Year’s Day in bed.Rick Nelson

As long as I could remember, New Year’s Eve was all about Ricky Nelson. His music and movies ruled the night. I knew all his lines in the Here Come the Nelsons movie before I was six. I used to try to make Mom smile by choreographing dance numbers to his greatest hits as we watched the clock tick closer to midnight.

I plugged Mom’s iPod into the sound system and put her Ricky Nelson playlist on shuffle. I bumped the volume up two thirds of the way and mounted the stairs to the cowbell opening beats of “Hello Mary Lou” in hopes of getting out of earshot before the singing began.

“Great choice, Mary Lou!” Dad hollered.

“Not funny!” I yelled back.

CORRODED: The First Page

Leave it to me to spend New Year’s Eve—the day before my fifteenth birthday—pulling weeds. I was helping my mom with her landscaping business in a yard just a block away from home. At least my mind could wander, and roam it did. Josh Copperfield, my crush at school, made repeat performances. His crooked grin and blue eyes kept me company as I zoned out with my iPod while weeding between the Japanese yews.

After winning a battle with the final dandelion, I removed my muddied gloves and stood to check my reflection in the kitchen window. Beyond my dirt-streaked forehead was the outline of a person standing inside the Thomases’ house. I jumped back, stumbled over the rake and landed in a pile of maple leaves.

The kitchen door opened. It was difficult to tell if the guy was naturally pale or if the color had drained from his face—it was a shocking contrast against his wavy brown hair. My heart tightened and the winter air was clammy in my lungs.

“You aren’t hurt, are you?” His brown eyes held concern.

“I’m fine.” I removed my earbuds, letting them dangle over my shoulders, and brushed the leaves off my butt.

“I was worried you might have sprained an ankle or something.” As he spoke, he looked up at the striped awning over the stoop.

“No, you just startled me. I didn’t think anyone was home.” I remembered the smudge of dirt on my forehead and wiped the long sleeve of my shirt across it. There I was, in front of the cutest guy I’d seen during the two weeks of winter break, and I looked like an uncultured slob.

“Would you like to come in and wash up at the sink?” he asked.

I’d never been inside a house with a guy—alone—and I was more worried about going in with him than if he thought I was a mess. He looked a little older than me. Not like a college student or anything, but he probably had a few years on me.

“Uh…” I’m sure the uneasiness displayed on my face. It was racing through my veins. Fortunately, my mother’s pick-up truck parked on the street at that moment. My legs started toward safety. “Gotta go.”

 

I’d love to hear what you think!
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2012: The Year of Firsts

It’s been an eventful year. High and low points abound but this time around, I’m thinking firsts. Several of my firsts happened while in New York City this spring including:

  • Taxi ride (No, I’d never been in a taxi cab!)
  • Train trip (Full size, not a Thomas the Tank Engine ride along.) 100_1034
  • Subway experience
  • Broadway show
  • Eating sashimi
  • Times Square and all other things New York City

My literary related experiences were memorable as well. Several of the events were the cumulative efforts of the previous year(s), but here they are:

  • Acting as a World Book Night giver (I handed out twenty copies of Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson to the Baker High School softball team on senior night.)100_0927
  • Being acknowledged in a novel as having helped with the writing process by the author (Want by Stephanie Lawton, my friend and Write Club confidant.)
  • Submitting a novel, CORRODED, to publishing companies (No news from any of the four, yet.)
  • Writing conference (Multi-day, not just a single workshop.)
  • Guest blog post on another website (Nerdy Book Club, for the win!)
  • Purchasing e-books (My first was Shayla Witherwood: A Half-Faerie Tale by Tamra Torero.)

Then there’s the most recent happening—the big finale happened this morning. Drum roll, please.

  • I joined a choir.

I can hear the snickering from here, folks! I come from a musical family but have always sung off key, or so I thought. Turns out I just couldn’t hit the normal notes. Tenor (back row, with the men—and two other ladies) is what I sang for the Christmas Cantanta during our chapel service. I wasn’t perfect, but I got most of the notes, but maybe not in the right spots… Well, I tried.