Category Archives: Reading

Anticipation

My writing and reading schedule has been overtaken by rehearsals lately, but the next California Rhythm Project dance concert opens tonight!

Pass It On

March 8th & 9th, 7:30pm, Southwestern College Dance Studio Theater

I’m nervous, but excited and I feel so lucky that I get to dance with such an amazing group of tappers. I’m planning to enjoy this weekend to the fullest because I know it will be over in a blink.

Then, my rehearsal schedule will settle down for a while and I’ll be back at work on my novel and also on a short story that I plan to submit to Ashland Creek Press for their forthcoming anthology, Among Animals. This story doesn’t feature Lola, but perhaps my next one will.

Meanwhile, I’m also pondering which book I want to nominate for next year’s One Book, One San Diego selection. Should I choose an old favorite? Or a new one?

I just finished reading Life of Pi by Yann Martel (I know, everyone else has already read it) and I can see what all the fuss was about.

Next up in my TBR stack are:

American Umpire by Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman

A new political science and history book by the award-winning novelist and historian who also happens to be mom to Lola’s Dalmatian pal, Casey.

Canada by Richard Ford

“First, I’ll tell about the robbery our parents committed. Then the murders, which happened later.”

Who wouldn’t be intrigued by that?

Traveling with Pomegranates by Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor

A mother/daughter travel memoir by an author whose novels I’ve enjoyed.

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

This book club pick is earning high praise from NPR, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Entertainment Weekly, Publishers
Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, and The San Francisco Chronicle. Sounds like a winner!

I have until the end of the month to make my One Book, One San Diego nomination. But we all know how time flies. I’d better get busy reading!

What exciting books or projects are up next for you?

17 Comments

Filed under Authors, Books, Dance, Reading, tap dance, Writing

Reading Together

Books

One of the greatest pleasures of a good book is sharing it with friends. We analyze plot twists and compare notes on our favorite characters. We ponder what made the author choose a detail to highlight or direction to follow. We examine our own lives and the choices we’ve made, whether they were similar or in opposition to how the characters behave. Our discussions can be love fests or debates, but either way, they increase the joy of the reading experience.

Imagine the possibilities when an entire city reads a book together.

In my area, we have One Book, One San Diego, a community reading program led by KPBS and the San Diego Public Library. This week I had the privilege of attending the kickoff event for the 2013 program.

I sat at a table with book-loving friends, new and old, from Adventures by the Book, KPBS, a Little Free LibrarySan Diego Writers, Ink and Write Out Loud.  Together, we learned about this year’s selection process and listened to publishers present their recommendations for our One Book. I suspect we were all thinking the same thing. There are so many great books and not enough time to read them all.

In the past, the Advisory Committee has chosen a few books and the community voted on the selection for that year. This year, to increase involvement, we all have the chance to nominate our favorite books. The committee will choose our One Book based on those recommendations.

From the KPBS web site…

Book Criteria for One Book, One San Diego Selections:

1. Story (fiction or nonfiction) is of high literary quality, is significant and compelling, and has a strong narrative and well-developed characters.
2. Themes resonate with local and/or global communities.
3. Inspires discussion, conversations, and action.
4. Available in paperback and hardcover.
5. Author is alive.
6. Should have professional reviews (the book is currently in print and available in large quantities).
7. Suitable for high school study and up (and for people of all backgrounds).

If you live in San Diego County and you have a favorite book that meets those criteria, nominate it today! Nominations are open through March 31st and forms are available online and at all San Diego Public Library locations. The 2013 One Book, One San Diego selection will be announced in May.

If you live elsewhere, your city might have a community reading program, too. Or you could participate in a national reading program like The Big Read, a program of the National Endowment for the Arts. They select several books every year and many cities around the country hold literary events related to those books. In San Diego, Write Out Loud will present events based on Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 during the month of April.

For the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing information about the One Book, One San Diego selection process with my book clubs and reading friends, encouraging them to participate, and deciding which of my favorite books I want to nominate.

Do you have a favorite book that you think your whole city should read?

14 Comments

Filed under Authors, Books, Friendship, novels, Reading

Creative Color

I love color. In my garden, my house and my closet, color boosts my mood and stimulates my creativity. I appreciate minimalist design and the freshness of white walls, but while I might like to visit those places, I find it hard to work in them.

My house has several white rooms and I’m slowly transforming them into spaces that suit me. I like the process of deciding on a color and choosing the shade that pleases me best.  Much to Lola’s dismay, I’ve been doing the painting myself. I move slowly (boring), I spend a lot of time on a ladder (I don’t climb down every time she wants me to open the door) and she hates walking on the slippery plastic drop cloths I tape down to protect the floors.

While DIY projects can be rewarding, I’ve made a few mistakes with my color choices and whether you do the work yourself or hire someone to paint for you, starting from scratch can be costly. My first redo was the powder room. It was a bright mustard yellow when we moved in. I loved the color, but not the shade, so I toned it down and it was perfect.

Until we replaced the stained glass window. The new one by artist Susan Bernard is wonderful…

…but the yellow walls were all wrong with change in the light, so I had to paint the room again. This time, I chose a lovely dark blue that works with the glass. It’s absolutely perfect.

I was so happy with that color that I decided to paint my white office in a similar but lighter color. I expected to love it, but it was just “nice” and the difference in light changed the colors so they almost clashed.

That failure stalled me until I had a visit from my cousin, an interior designer, who is trained to see color in ways most people can’t. She helped me choose a better color for my office and for the rest of the white rooms in my house.

My cousin went back home, so I’m without a resident designer again. I’ve been wondering if I could do a better job of choosing colors in the future now that I’ve had some good advice.

As I was wandering around online, I stumbled upon Colour Me Happy by Maria Killam and I read her post, One Bad Decision Pays for the Designer. I believe her assertion that it can be more expensive to make a color mistake than to hire an expert in the first place. She also has a post that explains why that light blue didn’t work in my office (A Light Colour Will Never Come to Life in a Dark Room) and several posts about undertones that reveal why it was so hard for me to choose the right neutral colors to tie the rooms together.

If my cousin isn’t in town next time I choose paint colors, I’ll have to hire a designer. I could try to learn more about color theory and undertones, but unless the choice is obvious, I think I’ll be better off relying on a color expert for decorating decisions so I can focus my energy on fiction instead.

The more I novels and short stories I read, the more I learn about what works and what doesn’t, but I’ve discovered that simple reading isn’t enough. It takes active study to understand plot structures and character nuances, sentence patterns and voice. When I find a story I love, I have to focus on these details to learn why it resonates for me. I have to look for those undertones in the words like a designer does with color.

But now I can do that work in a room that’s the perfect color for me. Thank you, Tracy!

I’m taking a break from painting, so when I need to recharge my creative batteries, I’ll focus on my garden. Lola approves of this plan and she was delighted to help me plant herbs outside the back door last weekend. If the sun comes out this afternoon, I’ll take my notebook outside so I can enjoy the bright colors of late spring blossoms before they fade away.

34 Comments

Filed under Books, Creativity, Reading, Writing

How to Win Friends

As much as I love my husband, there’s no getting around the fact that he’s not girlfriend material. We have a lot of common interests and we love spending our free time together, but when it comes to girl talk, he’s clueless. He hasn’t mastered the technique of listening without trying to fix things and when I tell him about my latest find at Sephora or at the consignment store, his eyes glaze over. Whether the subject is family or fashion, vocations or vacations, there’s something about a conversation with a female friend that keeps me from feeling alone in the world.

I’m still in touch with some of my high school and college friends thanks to Facebook and e-mail, but we live so far apart that we can’t meet for coffee or a drink after work. My shy nature combined with five relocations in 17 years of marriage equals a friend deficit. I muddled along as best I could and I was lucky enough to meet some wonderful women through work and classes. I’ve volunteered and joined organizations. I often felt awkward and silly, like a five-year-old in a playground asking someone to play with me, but every place we’ve lived, I’ve found lifelong friends. The kind it hurt to leave behind each time we moved.

This time, I think we’re finally putting down roots. I’ve made friends of neighbors, met other friends in dance class, writing groups and book clubs. As an added bonus, I live in a place that my old friends like to visit. It feels like a winning situation to me, but it was a long journey.

Rachel Bertsche, author of the blog and book MWF seeking BFF, was much more deliberate in her quest for female friends. When she relocated from New York City to Chicago to marry her fiance, she made it her mission to find new girl friends. I’ve followed her blog as she went on 52 “girl dates” in a year, trying to find a new BFF. She reported back to her readers on the good, the bad and the ridiculous.

Maybe that was a little crazy, but it was a reminder to me that finding new friends does take effort and creativity. MWF seeking BFF comes out on Tuesday, December 20th and I’m looking forward to reading more about Rachel’s search. If you’ve ever found yourself wishing you had more close pals, you might just learn how to win them thanks to Rachel’s experience.

42 Comments

Filed under Books, Creativity, Friendship, Reading