Yay Minta!

I’m so happy for my friend Minta Hall! Her first book, The Magician of Wall Street was released this week from Entangled Publishing. It’s so exciting and I’m so happy for her!

Minta is one of the members of my writing group and seeing one of us have success is really inspiring. It gives me hope that one day my own writing might see the light of day. I can’t say enough about my writing group. There are six of us, each one writing very different stories. It has encouraged me to keep writing, to write more on a schedule even when life gets crazy. They are rough critics, but fair. Every one of their suggestions has helped make my writing better. They are also a great support group, making me feel better when I start doubting myself.

I found my writing group through Meetup.Com, but there are other places to look as well – bookstores, libraries, local universities. I think having a writing group is extremely helpful for anyone who is serious about producing a manuscript that is fit to print.

Books I've Read

The Magicians

I first heard of The Magicians by Lev Grossman on the “Books on the Nightstand” podcast. And I know what you’re thinking, because I thought the same thing. A book about a young man who goes off to a mysterious school to study magic . . . where have I heard that before? It sounds so familiar. Oh, right! This must be a rip off of Harry Potter!

Um, no.

I have to admit, this book didn’t really grab me. The premise was interesting enough – a teenage boy stumbles upon Breakbills College, a school for magic. He sits an entrance exam and is admitted, leaving behind his plans to go to Princeton. Our main character, Quentin, is a bit depressing. He’s one of those teenagers who believe that their lives are bleak even when they’re actually pretty good. I have to say, he really annoyed me at times, even though I knew lots of kids like this when I was in high school.

Although Quentin is in college, he is still really into a series of children’s books set in the magical world of Fillory. Fillory is basically Narnia, right down to the talking animals and the four British siblings who become kings and queens. Quentin discovers that not only is Fillory real, it is in danger and needs Quentin to save the day.

Which brings me to my main complaint of the whole series: all the negativity. Quentin learns that he can do magic. He’s not happy. He joins an elite group of students, one of whom becomes his girlfriend (who he later cheats on). He’s still not happy. Quentin learns that his favorite books and favorite fictional place are 100% real – AND HE GETS TO GO THERE WITH ALL HIS FRIENDS. Still miserable. There was very little joy in the book at all. When I read about magic, I want to see wonder. I want to see excitement. I want to see more than just general apathy. Quentin wonders at several points in the story why he isn’t happy, and it’s a very good question. WHY AREN’T YOU EXCITED ABOUT ALL THESE AMAZING THINGS HAPPENING TO YOU?

There were several interesting things in the book. Brakebills was a very interesting story world, although I wish we could have seen more of the classes. I would’ve also liked to see what other magicians do once out of school, since I don’t believe that every single one of them are as disillusioned as Quentin is. I would’ve rather had the story from Quentin’s girlfriend Alice’s point of view, since she’s a much more likeable character.

I might try re-reading this at some point, just to see if I missed anything, but for the most part, it was kind of blah for me.


Five Things I Like About My J.O.B.

I do a lot of complaining about my job, and believe me, there has been a lot to complain about lately. I had originally planned to blog three times last week, but when you are stuck working late every night and coming home feeling like death warmed over, it’s hard to get up the motivation. Frankly, I’ve been letting myself get a bit depressed because of the pressure I’ve been under, so that’s why I thought this post would be good. That and I haven’t had a Five Things post since Christmastime. Time to dust it off.

1. My Co-Workers

I have awesome co-workers. Sure, we don’t always see eye to eye. But for the most part, the fourteen of us who work in my department get along great. They are my work family and I am proud to call them such. We are always willing to help each other out, always there to lend a shoulder to cry on or to celebrate when we achieve our goals. And on birthdays, there are always bagels from Panera Bread.

2. My Private Office

Yes, my co-workers and I generally get along great, but on the rare occasions when we don’t, it’s nice to be able to get away from everyone. My office is tiny, but it does have a door which I am allowed to keep shut if I so desire. So what if it gets so stuffy in there that I can barely breathe? I can crank up my iPod on it’s little dock and work away all by my lonesome. It’s nice.

3. The Skills I Have Learned

My official title at my job is “accountant,” despite the fact that I have never once taken an accounting class. Everything I have learned about the field, I have learned through this company. I have become proficient in many different bookkeeping programs, from QuickBooks to MAS, and I can make an Excel spreadsheet stand up and dance on its hind legs. I never would have learned this stuff if it wasn’t for my job.

4. The Hasler M3000

This thing is magic. I have to admit, I’m a bit of a sucker when it comes to office supplies and office machines. I always buy my own pens, pencils, and notepads just because I can’t stand to use the cheap, generic stuff they buy. When I met the Hasler, however, I immediately fell in love. This machine is amazing. One of my duties is to send out monthly letters to clients. Some days there’s only a handful. Others, hundreds. The Hasler not only folds all my letters for me – it stuffs them into envelopes too! I put in paper, it spits out perfect letters ready to be mailed. It’s beautiful.

5. The Fact That I Have A Job

This is probably the most important one. For all the complaining I do, I realize that I am pretty damn lucky. I know several people who have been unemployed for a while. Our company is fairly recession-proof, so despite the economy being on a roller coaster, we’ve been surviving quite well. Whenever I complain about my job, I need to remember that things could be a whole lot worse.

Books I've Read


You guys remember that post when I asked for help deciding what to read next? Well, that went completely up in the air because I forgot that the third book in a series that I absolutely love was getting released. It came out last week and so, of course, I had to run out and get it. And then re-read the first two books so I would have everything fresh in my mind.

I am referring to the Shadow World series by Dianne Sylvan. Like I said, there are three books so far (and a fourth one on the way!!!): Queen of Shadows, Shadowflame, and the newly released Shadow’s Fall. There are many reasons why I love this series. For starters, I love, love, LOVE her take on vampires. Vampires are the big thing and have been for a few years now, but Sylvan takes a whole new spin on them that was brilliant. These are not mopey, emo, “oh-woe-is-me-i’m-undead” vampires. These are powerful beings who are very sure of their place in society. The world is divided up into territories, each ruled by a Prime who is not only responsible for the vampires in their realm, but the humans as well. The story takes place in Austin, Texas, the headquarters of the Prime of the Southern United States, David Solomon.

Here’s why David is awesome. Not only is he absolutely gorgeous (are vampires allowed to be ugly?), but he is also incredibly smart. The technology he has created in order to track the vampires in the city and to communicate with the vampires in his employ is intricate and, frankly, I would understand none of it. But it works. He has several computers and servers and gigabytes of data, records, and other information. He’s a technology geek! And it’s awesome!

The main character is Miranda Grey, a human who is a local musician. She has many problems, one of which is that she is able to feel the emotions of the people around her. She uses this power to influence the people who come to hear her perform, but it quickly becomes overwhelming. Then one night she is attacked by a group of men in an alley and David finds her and saves her. He brings her to his headquarters, the Haven, and helps her to heal, physically and emotionally. As you can probably guess, this leads to them falling in love and to Miranda becoming a vampire herself.

There’s a lot more to the series, of course, but I don’t want to give anything away. Let’s just say that there is mystery, romance, political intrigue, and the coolest vampires ever put on paper that kick some serious ass. There are friends who would die to protect you and friends who never show what their true motives are. The last book ended with such a cliffhanger, I am DYING to read the next one, which will hopefully come out sometime next year. If you like vampire books, you will like this series. It is sharp, witty, and intelligent.