Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Blogging at A Slice of Orange

I'm blogging to day at A Slice of Orange on recent updates in the digital world, including the new B&N Nook ebook reader.

Also, my alter ego, Lyndi Lamont, is featured this month at TRS Rainbow Studio for GLBT books.

Linda

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Book Review Club: THE LOST SYMBOL by Dan Brown

I wasn't sure if I was going to buy Dan Brown's latest in hardcover until I discovered that it was about the Freemasons, a subject of lifelong interest. My grandfather was a Mason, my grandmother was a member of Eastern Star, and I joined Job's Daughters as a teen, so you could say it's in the blood.

From the product description:

As the story opens, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is summoned unexpectedly to deliver an evening lecture in the U.S. Capitol Building. Within minutes of his arrival, however, the night takes a bizarre turn. A disturbing object--artfully encoded with five symbols--is discovered in the Capitol Building. Langdon recognizes the object as an ancient invitation . . . one meant to usher its recipient into a long-lost world of esoteric wisdom.

When Langdon’s beloved mentor, Peter Solomon--a prominent Mason and philanthropist--is brutally kidnapped, Langdon realizes his only hope of saving Peter is to accept this mystical invitation and follow wherever it leads him. Langdon is instantly plunged into a clandestine world of Masonic secrets, hidden history, and never-before-seen locations--all of which seem to be dragging him toward a single, inconceivable truth.


From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. After scores of Da Vinci Code knockoffs, spinoffs, copies and caricatures, Brown has had the stroke of brilliance to set his breakneck new thriller not in some far-off exotic locale, but right here in our own backyard. Everyone off the bus, and welcome to a Washington, D.C., they never told you about on your school trip when you were a kid, a place steeped in Masonic history that, once revealed, points to a dark, ancient conspiracy that threatens not only America but the world itself.

According to Wikipedia, The Lost Symbol is the "fastest selling adult novel in history", having sold one million copies in print and e-book format in the US, Canada and the UK on the very first day of release! Talk about a writer's pipe dream come true! Pretty awesome, considering it has been six years since The Da Vinci Code was released in 2003. I saw a TV interview with Brown where he said he spent years researching the book, and what he learned changed his beliefs.

I won't go into a lot of plot details as I don't want to inadvertently spoil anyone's enjoyment. The joy of a Dan Brown novel comes as much from the intellectual exercise as the thrilling plot twists and turns. In addition to the secrets of Freemasonry, Brown delves into noetic science which tries to reconcile modern science with ancient mysticism. Katherine Solomon, the sister of Langdon's mentor Peter, is a scientist working in this area, and her work is also targeted by the diabolical and almost superhuman villain Mal'akh.

I enjoyed The Lost Symbol as much, if not more than, the Da Vinci Code. Having already read Holy Blood, Holy Grail and other books about the Priory of Sion and the Knights Templar, I was familiar with a lot of the territory in that book. While I had some background about the Freemasons, I didn't know how deeply Masonic ideas and symbols were enshrined in our nation's capital, so a lot of this was new to me and great fun to follow and decipher. I'm now happily off on an exploration of Katherine Solomon's field of interest: Noetic Science.

If you're a Dan Brown fan, don't miss this one!

Linda


Click icon for more book review blogs @Barrie Summy

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Book Review Club: Baby Be-bop

Barrie Summy's book review club review is about the only regular blogging I'm doing these days, so I'm glad for her monthly reminders. This month's review is of BABY BE-BOP by Francesca Lia Block, a Young Adult novel.

This summer I heard that a group wanted the book banned from a public library for its gay theme, so I thought I'd see what the fuss was about.

Baby Be-bop is a story of a teenage boy, Dirk, who knows early on that he's gay, but is afraid to let anyone know, including his beloved grandmother, Fifi, who has raised him. He's afraid of disappointing her. He finds a friend in a free-spirited boy named Pup, and for a while they are best friends, and Dirk hopes, possibly more, until Pup starts seeing a girl. Finally, Pup admits that he loves Dirk but can't deal with the consequences and they part. The book evidently takes place in the 1980's because after Pup's rejection, Dirk becomes a punk rocker. One night he makes the mistake of insulting a skinhead and gets beaten up. He manages to make his way home and into bed, but he's badly injured. That night he has dreams or is visited by the ghosts of his grandmother and his parents, though it's not terribly clear if it's a dream or a near death experience. In one of his dreams we learn that Dirk's dad was a beat poet nicknamed Be-bop which is where the Baby Be-bop title comes from. There's also a section about a gay boy named Duck, who I assume will be Dirk's partner at some point in the future. In the end Dirk awakens in the hospital with his grandmother by his side.

There is some underage drinking and drug use and allusions to gay sex, but the book is hardly graphic. It's really a coming of age story, and Dirk is a sympathetic protagonist. As a librarian, I'm never in favor of book banning, and I think there is a place in public libraries for Baby Be-bop. In fact, that's where I found the book! It's apparently out-of-print except as part of an anthology called Beautiful Boys: Two Weetzie Bat Books, which is available new at Amazon in a library edition or as a Kindle e-book.

Block's language is lush and often poetic, though at times I thought it was a little overdone, maybe because I'm more a fan of popular than literary fiction. Dirk is, apparently, a character in her other books in the Weetzie Bat series, and this is his back story. It's a short book and a fast read. I found the story interesting and well-written, but I'm not sure I want to read her other books. I'm just not that into young adult angst. I would recommend it to YA fans though.

For more reviews, click on the graphic below.

Linda





Click icon for more
book review blogs
@Barrie Summy

Friday, October 16, 2009

Quick Update

This has been a difficult month for me. I've come down with a nasty head cold, and a few weeks ago my Toshiba laptop was hit by a trojan virus. The good news is that I have built-in tech support (my DH), so fixing it didn't cost much. It took a lot of time though. We finally had to perform shock therapy on poor Toshi. By that I mean, digging the recovery disk out of the manufacturer's box and using it to wipe the hard drive clean and re-install the manufacturer's settings. Sigh. I did a complete backup first, of course, so none of my writing or personal files were lost.

Now I have a brand new old computer, and I've been laboriously copying my old data files back over and re-installing the programs I like to use. Now if I can only find my copy of Word 2003, I'll be back in business.

This is the first time in my writing life, I can honestly say, "thank heavens I'm not on a tight deadline!"

Watch out for those Trojans. Nasty little buggers. Some people need to get a life!

I'm blogging today at A Slice of Orange about Naming My Muse. Drop by if you get a chance.

Linda

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Book Review Club: Lipstick Jihad

LIPSTICK JIHAD: A MEMOIR OF GROWING UP IRANIAN IN AMERICA AND AMERICAN IN IRAN

by Azadeh Moaveni

From the publisher's description:

Azadeh Moaveni was born in Palo Alto, California, into the lap of an Iranian diaspora community longing for an Iran many thousands of miles away. As far back as she can remember she felt at odds with her tangled identity. College magnified the clash between Iran and America, and after graduating, she moved to Tehran as a journalist. Immediately, Azadeh's exile fantasies dissolved.

Azadeh finds a country that is culturally confused, politically deadlocked, and emotionally anguished. In order to unlock the fundamental mystery of Iran-how nothing perceptibly alters, but everything changes--she must delve deep into Tehran's edgy underground. Lipstick Jihad is a rare portrait of Tehran, populated by a cast of young people whose exuberance and despair bring the modern reality of Iran to vivid life. Azadeh also reveals her private struggle to build a life in a dark country--the struggle of a young woman of the diaspora, searching for a homeland that may not exist.


Moaveni is a journalist who has written for Time magazine and she's an excellent writer. I found the book very interesting, in part for the insight into what it means to be an immigrant/exile in another culture and also for the portrait of life for young single women in modern Iran. She lived there around 2000-2001 and reported on the tepid reform movement's attempts to make life more pleasant despite the hard-line mullahs. She also experienced the reality of being a woman in a repressive culture where the positioning of one's veil can bring public rebuke on the street if not much worse. She witnessed and suffered police brutality during a riot, but what finally drove her to return to the US was pressure from Iranian intelligence, with whom she was forced to meet on a weekly basis. After Iran was named part of Bush's "axis of evil", the situation became so untenable she left in the middle of the night.

I found the book quite fascinating. It made me appreciate the personal freedoms we have here. No matter how much I complain about my hair, at least I don't have to wear a veil every time I go outside! Still, Moaveni made it clear that no amount of small person freedoms made up for the political oppression. Well worth reading.

Moaveni's newest book, Honeymoon in Teheran, was released earlier this year, and I may have to read it, too.

As always, thanks to Barrie Summy for organizing the monthly Book Review Club.

Linda


Click icon for more
book review blogs
@Barrie Summy

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Blogging at Slice of Orange

I'm blogging today at A Slice of Orange about the forthcoming ASUS dual screen e-book reader. Would a dual screen e-book reader tempt you? It sounds intriguing to me.

Linda

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Blogging at A Slice of Orange Today

Today's post at Slice of Orange is about defining erotic romance. Feel free to seigh in with your definition.

Linda

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Video: Pirates of the Health Care-ibbean

I usually try to avoid politics here, but I saw this at Crooks and Liars and couldn't resist posting it.



The video was video originally posted in 2006 by ConsumerWatchdog.org, the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consure Rights, and is still right on.

Linda

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Book Review Club: Warprize


Warprize by Elizabeth Vaughan

She must choose between her people and her freedom.

Xylara is a princess of Xy, but is also a Healer. Xy, which is currently ruled by her half-brother, is under attach by the Firelanders led by a man known only as the Warlord. Lara is determined to heal anyone who needs her help, including the Firelander prisoners, and as a princess, she's the only one who can get away with it. While buying herbs, she meets a man named Keir who is apparently a spy for the Warlord. When her brother negotiates a surrender, the Warlord demands an oath of fealty, exchange of prisoners, and tribute. Lara is now the Warprize. She agrees in order to spare her people more death and destruction, but is shocked to discover that Keir is the Warlord. She thinks she's his slave, but the concept of 'warprize' encompasses so much more. Lara is a strong female character, strong in spirit, anyway, and kind of heart. Keir is a formidable warrior, but he also possesses a kind heart and a willingness to learn new ways.

Warprize, published in 2005, is an impressive first novel, as well as the first in the Chronicles of the Warlords trilogy. Vaughan is a good storyteller and I like her characters a lot, except, of course, for the ones you're not supposed to like. I really enjoyed this book and I'm looking forward to reading the next two books in the trilogy, Warsworn and Warlord.

She has two websites: http://www.eavwrites.com/ and http://www.warprize.com/. The latter has links to excerpts from the books.

I recommend Warprize to all lovers of romantic fantasy.

Linda



The Book Review Club
is the brain child of Tween/Teen Author Barrie Summy. Click icon for more book review blogs @Barrie Summy.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Friday Fun Quiz: Which Frozen Treat Are You?

There's nothing like ice cream on a hot day and today is a hot one. While I like ice cream pretty much any way I can get it, I'm OK with being an ice cream sandwich. It's one of my all time favorites, along with Eskimo Pies and hot fudge sundaes.




You Are an Ice Cream Sandwich



You are well grounded, reliable, and very balanced.

You love to work hard, but you also know how to take it easy.

People might be surprised to know you have a very goofy side to you.

You like to let loose and have fun. You just don't let yourself go too crazy!



Linda

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Lyndi in the Spotlight

Hi All,

My alter ego, Lyndi Lamont, is in the Author Spotlight this week at Author Island, including their website and blog: http://authorislandauthornews.blogspot.com/. Drop by and leave a comment on one of my blog posts to be entered for a chance to win a download of the your choice.

There's also a great interview with Trace Zaber, Editorial and Creative Director of Amber Quill Press, at Reviews by Jessewave.

Linda / Lyndi

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Book Review Club: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

When I started reading Marjane Satrapi's memoirs back in mid-May, I had no idea how timely they would turn out to be. These graphic novels tell the story of her childhood and young adulthood in Tehran under the Islamic Revolution and provide some background for the current political events going on in Iran.

PERSEPOLIS: THE STORY OF A CHILDHOOD covers her life from age 10 when the Shah was overthrown until age 14 when she was sent to Vienna. The revolution brought a huge change to Marji who comes from a secular family and was educated in a French school. The young Marji is precocious, fiery, outspoken and utterly adorable. She's also too honest for her own good and has a hard time tolerating the regime's propaganda. Arguments with her teachers and the principal led her to be expelled from two schools, one for a dispute over a banned bracelet and the second time for talking back to a teacher. Her parents decided she wasn't safe in Iran and sent her to to a French school in Vienna.

In ERSEPOLIS 2: THE STORY OF A RETURN, we learn that life in Vienna was no picnic for Marjane. She really was too young to be on her own and had trouble making friends among the Europeans. The teenage Marji is unhappy and angst-ridden, but still as honest and outspoken as ever. After an unhappy love affair left her adrift and homeless on the streets of Vienna at 18, she decided to return home. This transition was also rocky as she fought depression, but eventually came out of it. She attended art school at university, but again had trouble conforming to the strict rules of the Islamic regime. I love the part where she's told by the Guardians of Morality not to run in the street because it makes her butt wiggle provocatively, and she shouts at them, "Then don't look at my ass!"


When Marjane finished school, she left Iran for France. An artist and illustrator, she now lives in Paris. The books are, by turn, revealing, humorous and horrific. I really like her style of illustrating, and I recommend them for anyone who wants to learn more about Iran.

Monday night I watched the animated version of Persepolis, which won the Jury Prize at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, a singular accomplishment for an animated film. The film is beautifully animated and powerful. I do think I appreciated it more for having first read the books, as it condenses both volumes into about a 90-minute film.

Salon recently published an interesting article, Unveiling The Revolution By Tracy Clark-Flory, about modern Iranian women. I'm checking out two other books she recommended: Prisoner of Tehran by Marina Nemat and Lipstick Jihad by Azadeh Moaveni.

Linda


The Book Review Club is the brain child of Tween/Teen Author Barrie Summy. Click icon for more book review blogs @ Barrie Summy's site.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Two For Tuesday: Persepolis

I've been following the protests in Iran over the recent election with particular interest since I recently read Marjane' Satrapi's memoirs of her childhood and young adulthood in Iran under the Islamic Revolution. Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood, a highly-acclaimed graphic novel, covers her life from age 10 when the Shah was overthrown until age 14 when she was sent to Vienna. She followed it with Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return.

Here are two sentences from Persepolis about the mood of the country during the war with Iraq:

The walls were suddenly covered with belligerant slogans. The one that struck me by its gory imagery was: "To die a martyr is to inject blood into the veins of society."

Later on, when one of her friends dies, she realizes how empty the slogan is.

I thought this sentence from a recent blog by Steve Clemons at The Washington Note summed up the current situation perfectly. The words are those of a "well-connected Iranian" he met in London.

A gaping hole has been ripped open in Iranian society, exposing the contradictions of the regime and everyone now sees that the democracy that they believed that they had in Iranian form is a "charade."

Perhaps we should send Katherine Harris to Tehran to explain to the mullahs how to steal an election without making it blatantly obvious you're stealing an election. ;)

Another quote I liked is from High Definition Democracy: "The revolution won't be televised, it will be Twittered." This is an interesting analysis of the effect of the internet and social networking sites on democracy.

My heart goes out to the people of Iran in these scary and turbulent times. Iran is an ancient land with a proud history. I hope this will be a turning point for the good of the people, but I'm sure the theocracy will not yield up power easily.

Now for two (or a few more) sentences I wrote. This bit of description is from my historical romance, Rogue's Hostage, set during the French and Indian War. It's in the point-of-view of my hero who was with a raiding party that took the heroine captive the day before.

He took a deep breath of cool, clean air and forced himself to look away. The early morning light slanted across the clearing, catching the sparkle of dewdrops on the grass. There was a special beauty to the dawn. The world seemed born anew, as if nature were trying to wipe clean the violence wrought by man in her peaceful domain. But he could not forget the events of the previous day.

I'm also blogging today at A Slice of Orange on mid-year's resolutions and staying focused.

Linda

Check out the wondrous Women of Mystery blog for more Two Sentence Tuesday posts.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Guest Blogging at Midnight Moon Cafe!



Thursday I'm guest blogging at Midnight Moon Cafe about world building for Lyndi's upcoming release Alliance: Stellar Romance: A Collection of Erotic Romance, coming soon from Amber Heat. My post focuses on the religions of the different worlds in the stories.

If you have time, drop by and say 'Hi'.


Linda / Lyndi

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Book Review Club: The Graveyard Book

I read THE GRAVEYARD BOOK by Neil Gaiman a few months ago on my Kindle and I was completely captivated by this unusual story.

Publisher's blurb: Nobody Owens is a boy raised in an abandoned cemetery by the otherworldly inhabitants, but the tale of his growing up is so fabulously spun that even the most grounded non-believer will think twice on their next visit to the graveyard.


Like a lot of books for kids, there's a dark side to this one, but at heart it's a charming and heartwarming story. It starts with the murder of the main character's parents and sister. Unaware of what is going on, the boy, a toddler, climbs out of his crib, goes downstairs where the killer left the front door open, walks out and up the hill to an old graveyard. He's small enough to climb between the railings. The ghosts quickly realize that murder has been committed and they hide the little one from the killer. Silas, the graveyard's resident vampire, uses his gifts to convince the killer to leave. But now what to do with the boy?

A ghostly couple, the Owenses, offer to adopt him and name him Nobody Owens, Bod for short, and Silas agrees to be his guardian. It's Silas's job to provide earthly things like food for the boy since Silas is the only one who can leave the graveyard. Bod is given the "freedom of the graveyard" and he is educated by several of the ghosts, all of whom have been dead for a very long time. The earliest inhabitant died in Roman times and the last ones were interred in the Victorian age, so Bod learns to write perfect copperplate and is educated in things like "elements and humors" as well as ghostly talents like fading. The latter comes in handy later.

My favorite chapter was the one where they dance the "macabray" - this graveyard's version of the Danse Macabre, only it's a happy festival where the dead march down the hill and dance with the living. I think the book is deserving of the award, and I enjoyed it immensely.

The Graveyard Book is the current recipient of the prestigious Newbery Award for juvenile fiction.

Update, 6-3-09: I just noticed on Neil Gaiman's blog that The Graveyard Book recently won two Audie Awards, one in the Children's 8-12 category, and one for Audiobook of the Year. Congratulations, Mr. Gaiman!


Linda

The Book Review Club is the brain child of Tween/Teen Author Barrie Summy. Click icon for more book review blogs @Barrie Summy

Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday Fun Quiz: Has American Culture Ruined You?

This seemed like a good quiz for the week we chose a new American Idol.




You've Been a Little Ruined by American Culture



Whether you live in the US or not, deep down you're a little American.

And there's nothing wrong with loving American culture, but it may have negative effects on your life.

Slow down and enjoy what you have. Reconnect with life's simple pleasures.

You don't need to be in a consumerist rat race. Life's too short to overwork yourself!



So back to American Idol. Was Kris the right choice or should it have been Adam? I tried to vote for Adam but couldn't get through.

Linda

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Two Sentence Tuesday: The Value of Storytelling


I haven't been reading much except blogs and online articles lately, but I found some quotable lines in this article from Salon.com:

The evolutionary argument for Dr. Seuss: Why do we often care more about imaginary characters than real people? A new book suggests that fiction is crucial to our survival as a species
by Laura Miller

Her opening sentences really hooked me:
Why do human beings spend so much time telling each other invented stories, untruths that everybody involved knows to be untrue? People in all societies do this, and do it a lot, from grandmothers spinning fairy tales at the hearthside to TV show runners marshaling roomfuls of overpaid Harvard grads to concoct the weekly adventures of crime fighters and castaways.


Miller's article is actually a review of a new book called On The Origin of Stories by Brian Boyd, professor English at the University of Auckland. This is a subject of endless fascination to writers, especially those of us who write popular fiction which has its roots in mythology and fairy tales. Popular stories are timeless and, despite their fantastical elements, sometimes reflect reality. Miller mentions the story of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf', something we've all witnessed in real life, and which I believe led to the familiar dictum "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."

I really enjoyed the first part of the article, but will admit to getting a little lost toward the end, maybe because I wasn't a lit major or maybe because I don't know much about "evolutionary biology". (My B. A. is in Social Science with emphaisis in History.)

I didn't write anything new this week, so I'm going to pull a few sentences from a published e-book, Ilona's Wolf, my first erotic fantasy story.
Once upon a time, in the Kingdom of Velosia, magic was more precious than gold. The few who possessed it were highly prized, for not everyone could learn to wield the magic, only those who were sorcerers born.

Please forgive the blatant self-promotion, but I'm including a buy link, and there's a longer excerpt at my website.

Linda / Lyndi

Check out the wondrous Women of Mystery blog for more Two Sentence Tuesday posts.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday Fun Quiz: American English

This week I started the process of installing a WordPress blog at my Lyndi Lamont website, so that's where my blogging time has primarily gone. Tomorrow I'll have a post on the newly announced Kindle DX at my RWA Chapter blog A Slice of Orange.

During my life I've lived in several different states, from Pennsylvania to California, including short stays in Miami, Florida and Austin, Texas, so I found this quiz quite interesting. I no longer have my Pittsburgh accent and I think the quiz backs that up. My apologies to any Canadian friends for whom this may not apply.




Your Linguistic Profile:



50% General American English

30% Yankee

10% Upper Midwestern

5% Dixie

0% Midwestern



Linda

Friday, May 8, 2009

Friday Fun Quiz: How Nerdy Are You?

In honor of the new Star Trek movie, I'm posting a quiz on nerdyness. I'm actually a little surprised I only got 36%, but then I don't have a game machine or a comic book collection. I do love Star Trek, though, and I'm hoping to get to see the new movie in the next week or so. So far all the reviews I've seen have been pretty positive.




You Are 36% Nerdy



You're a little nerdy, but no one would ever call you a nerd.

You sometimes get into nerdy things, but only after they've become a part of mainstream culture.



And are you planning to see the Star Trek movie?

Linda

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Book Review Club

Two months ago I reviewed The Reincarnationist by M. J. Rose, and promised to review the sequel, The Memorist, next.

The blurb for The Memorist states:
The dreads are back. As a child, Meers Logan was haunted by memories of another time and place, always accompanied by the faint strains of elusive music. Now the hand of the past has reached out again. An envelope addressed to her and delivered to the Phoenix Foundation--an institute dedicated to the recovery of past life memories--contains a childhood drawing of an elaborate box that Meers recognizes...and a sheet from an auction catalog identifying the object--which she spent years imagining-- as an eighteenth-century gaming box.

Determined to unlock the mystery of who she once was, she travels to Vienna to find the box. With each step, she comes closer to remembering the connections between a clandestine reincarnationist society, the lost Memory Flute linked to Ludwig van Beethoven and rumored to open the door to the past, and to David Yalom, a journalist who knows all too well how the past affects the future.

Malachai Samuels of the Phoenix Foundation (from The Reincarnationist) is under investigation by the FBI, but that doesn't stop him from his quest for a personal experience of reincarnation. This time the memory tool he seeks is an ancient bone flute rumored to have once been possessed by Beethoven. Since childhood, Meer Logan has been haunted by a tune and images of an ornate memory box along with what she believes to be false memories of another lifetime. Malachai helped her through the difficult times then, so she turns to him now. When the box in her visions turns up in Vienna, she goes there and the visions return with a vengeance. Again, there is someone willing to kill for the memory tool as well as an Israeli journalist out to avenge the deaths of his family by terrorists.

The plot is fairly complicated, but the plot comes together nicely at the end, with a few loose ends for the next book. (I hope.) The flashbacks to previous lives are fascinating, and I found the ending to be satisfying and emotional; a beautiful story in many ways.

Linda

The Book Review Club is the brain child of Tween/Teen Author Barrie Summy. Click on the Book Club graphic to read her review and for links other club members.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Friday Fun Quiz: What's Your Medieval Profession?

I thought this an appropriate quiz for May Day. It'll be fun to see how many of us get the same results!




You Are a Playwright



You are a highly literate wordsmith. You love both reading and writing.

You are also a natural storyteller. You can turn a mediocre anecdote into a riveting tale.

You find people and all aspects of life fascinating. No topic is off limits for you.

In modern times, you would make a good filmmaker or novelist.



Linda

Monday, April 27, 2009

My Town Monday: Anaheim Public Library

Anaheim's public library began in a room in a candy store in 1901, but a mere seven years later, moved into a new building financed by a grant from steel magnate/philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1908. His original investment was all of $10,000.00. The old building still stands and became the Anaheim Muzeo in 1987.

The "new" central library building (pictured below) was authorized by a vote of the residents of Anaheim in 1960 and opened in 1963. Located at the corner of Broadway and Harbor Boulevard, the building comprised fifty thousand square feet designed to hold 200,000 volumes when it opened. With typical Cold War thinking, part of the basement was set aside as a bomb shelter. Now the basement houses multipurpose reading rooms, storage and a staff room.

Over the years, as Anaheim grew, so did the library system which now consists of the Central Library and five branches: Euclid, Haskett, Sunkist, Canyon Hills and East Anaheim.

The Central Library recently underwent extensive remodeling. The Children's Room was expanded, as was the Young Adult section, and encompasses most of the ground floor, along with the Computer Lab and video section. I love this mural outside the entrance to the Children's Room where I used to work.


All of the adult materials were moved upstairs, and the library's Anaheim Heritage Reading Room was moved to the Muzeo.

On the third Saturday of the month, my readers group meets in one of the cozy study rooms on the second floor to discuss the books we've read. Despite the wealth of data at my fingertips over the internet and my preference for reading e-books, I still visit the local library regularly and check out and read books. I've been a library lover since I was a small child, and I doubt that will ever stop.

Do you still use your local library? If not, why not?

Linda

My Town Monday is the brilliant brain child of writer/blogger Travis Erwin. Thanks, Travis! Go to his blog to read his latest post and find links to the other participants.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Celebrating Taurus

April 21 through May 21

It's so appropriate that Earth Day falls on April 22, after the sun has moved into the sign of Taurus.

Taurus is a fixed earth sign, and people born under its influence are typically described as "down to earth". Many, like my mother, have green thumbs and enjoy gardening. My mom loved nothing more than to get outside and dig her hands in the soil. I remember helping her plant tulip and daffodil bulbs when we lived back east. I never enjoyed it as much as she did, but it was fun to watch the flowers bloom come spring.

Taureans tend to be homebodies, not wanderers like Sagittarius, and their homes are often havens of peace and tranquility. My mother, the Taurus, hated to move more than anyone I ever knew. Unfortunately, she married a Scorpio afflicted with the Wanderlust. (He had some Sagittarian influences in his chart.) Generally, Taurus and Scorpio are a good match, and other compatible signs include Virgo and Capricorn, the other two earth signs, plus water signs Pisces and Cancer.

Taurus is "feminine" sign ruled by Venus so there's a sensual, "earthy" side to the sign. Taureans love beauty and all sensual experiences. They can be quite easy going, but watch out when they get riled up.

Is there a Taurus in your life?

Linda

For more about Taurus, check out this page at astrology.com.

Monday, April 20, 2009

My Town Monday: Record Heat

We're having a Heat Wave, but not a tropical one. It's caused by an offshore flow, the opposite of our usual ocean breeze. Temps in the area soared into the 90's and in some areas into three digits, far higher than the normal 73 degrees for this time of year. On Sunday Fullerton had a record high of 100 degrees and it was 101 in Santa Ana. This is very unusual weather for April, and I didn't envy the folks sitting in the stands at the Long Beach Grand Prix. The only good thing about it is the clear blue skies. It's hot but beautiful.

When the winds come off the desert, they bring intense heat and dryness, with humidity in the 15-25% or lower range. Yesterday a brush fire broke out in a gully next to the 5 Freeway in Mission Viejo, causing a Sigalert and damaging two homes, apparently not seriously. It took us well over an hour to travel the 38 miles from San Clemente to Anaheim, but my husband did get some cool pictures of the water-dropping helicopter while we were sitting in traffic.

Thankfully, the fire appeared to be out by the time we got to where it had started. We've had less than 9 inches of rain this season, so I'm sure there will be more fires.

I hope the weather is more pleasant in your home town.

Linda

My Town Monday is the brilliant brain child of writer/blogger Travis Erwin. Thanks, Travis! Go to his blog to read his latest post and find links to the other participants.

(Photos by B. A. Wilkinson)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday Fun Quiz: Are You Dusk or Dawn?

This one hits home with me because my DH is an early bird while I'm a night owl. It has been the cause of many an argument over the years. My MIL could never understand how I could sleep so late (8AM) and I could never understand how she could be alert at 5:30 in the morning. LOL, I can't even talk at that hour.

This quiz kind of fits me.



You Are Dusk



You are a naturally idealistic and creative person. You look forward to nights where everything is possible.

You spend most of your energy on play. Work is okay, but the true you emerges after the work day is done.

You're an offbeat type that doesn't like rules or schedules. Life's too short to waste at a desk in a cube.

Whether you spend your night socializing or working on side projects, you like that your time is yours.



Linda

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

One Million and Counting

Sometime last week the video trailer for my erotic pirate story Marooned passed the milestone of one million views at YouTube. It took almost two and a half years, so it hardly qualifies as viral video, but I still think it's pretty impressive, though occasionally I have to go into my account and clear out the porn spam from the comments section.



I wish I could say this translated into fabulous royalties, but it didn't. If only 1% of the viewers had bought the story, I'd be a happy camper. But at least I have bragging rights to over a million views at You Tube!

What do you think? Do video trailers sell books?

Linda / Lyndi

Marooned is available from Amber Heat by electronic download. Click here to read an excerpt.

Monday, April 13, 2009

No My Town Monday Today

Sorry, no My Town Monday post from me today, but pop on over to Travis Erwin's blog for his post and the list of My Town Monday bloggers.

Linda

Friday, April 10, 2009

Friday Fun Quiz: What Easter Candy Are You?

LOL, this could not be more true, except for the little brother part. There's a caramel Cadbury egg this year and it is decadent!




You Are a Cadbury Creme Egg



You're the type that stole little brother's easter basket so that you could have MORE CANDY!



Linda

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Nearly Wordless Wednesday: Ocean View


We had a beautiful day on Sunday and I couldn't resist stopping to snap this photo. We're supposed to have a little rain this week which would be nice.

How's the weather in your neck of the woods?

Linda

Monday, April 6, 2009

My Town Monday: Downtown Disney

When I first moved to Anaheim 23 years ago, there was a strawberry field where Downtown Disney us now located. The resort added this outdoor dining and shopping mall in 2001, and it was an immediate hit with visitors and locals alike. It's adjacent to both the Disneyland Hotel and Disneyland, with its own monorail station. Best of all, visitors get three hours of free parking, though visitors to the park are discouraged from parking there.

Downtown Disney (DTD from now on) has a number of restaurants including a Rainforest Cafe, House of Blues, ESPN Zone, and my personal favorite, Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen. I love the colorful umbrellas hanging from the ceiling.



You can smell the beignets as you approach the Jazz Kitchen, and the architecture is reminiscent of New Orleans's French Quarter, one of my favorite places in the world. The menu reflects the Big Easy's signature Creole and Cajun cuisine, but with "Disney" spices, probably because DTD caters to families and kids aren't always very adventurous in their food choices. Cajun food can be red hot, but not at DTD. The Jazz Kitchen's food is subtly spiced, much to the relief of my finicky stomach. We went there on Christmas day and dined on Cajun roasted turkey breast, probably the best turkey dinner I've ever had. They're very good about letting people split an order, and believe me, it was more than enough food for the two of us.


We recently returned and split California Club Sandwich: Toasted sourdough bread, smoked bacon, Cajun roasted turkey breast, sliced tomatoes and avocado mayonnaise. (Yes, that's half of the sandwich.) We asked for Creole seasoned French fries instead of the jalapeƱo and bacon potato salad that normally comes with the club sandwich. The Jazz Kitchen Cheeseburger, made of ground filet mignon cooked to order with Jack cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onions and pickles is also delicious. LOL, can you tell I love to eat?

DTD also has a movie theater and a number of retail stores, including the Lego Imagination Center, and Compass Books, the only retail bookstore in Anaheim.

There are disadvantages to living in a tourist mecca, bad traffic being the worst one, but there are advantages, too. One of the latter is being able to to visit during the off season. Another is that there's always a restaurant open, even on a national holiday. One of the bad things is the cyclical nature of tourism and it's ups and downs as the economy fluctuates. Anaheim relies on hotel taxes for much of its revenue, and the downturn in the economy has hit hard here. The library system has had to cut back on hours. I don't expect things to bounce back soon, but I'm hoping I'm wrong.

It's spring break, but when my DH and I visited Downtown Disney in late March, the crowd was sparse to say the least. I asked our waiter if business was down this year compared to last and he said that it seemed to be, though things had picked up after a slow winter. Let's hope they pick up soon.

Linda

My Town Monday is the brilliant brain child of writer/blogger Travis Erwin. Thanks, Travis! Go to his blog to read his latest post and find links to the other participants.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

What 's your name?

I discovered this meme at Travis Erwin's blog and thought it would be fun to play with.

1. Your rock star name (first pet/current vehicle) - Lucky TL

2. Your Gangsta name (favourite ice cream flavour/fave type of shoe) -DDL Sandals (for Dulce de Leche)

3. Your Native American name (fave colour/favourite animal) - Red Dog

4. Your soap opera name (middle name/city of birth) - Anne Pittsburgh (boring)

5. Your Star Wars name (first 3 letters of last name/first 2 letters of first name) Mclla

6. Your Superhero name (second fave colour/fave drink) - Blue Leinie (since my favorite beer is currently Leinenkugel's Sunset Wheat)

7. Your NASCAR name (first names of your grandfathers) - Wade John

8. Your dancer name (favourite scent/fave candy) - Juniper Chocolate

9. TV Weather Anchor name (5th grade teacher/city that starts with the same letter) - Smith* Sacramento

(*Ack, I can't remember the name of my 5th grade teacher, so I'm using my 4th grade teacher instead.)

Update: I remembered! Her name was Mrs. Deaver, so I'm changing my weather anchor name to Deaver Denton.

10. Your spy name (fave season/flower) - Autumn Lilac

11. Your cartoon name (favourite fruit/article of clothing you are wearing) - Blueberry T.

12. Your hippie name (what you had for breakfast/favourite tree) - Atkins Maple
(corrected 4-5-09)

13. Your porn star name (first pet/first address) - Lucky Wisconsin

Feel free to join in the meme in the comments section.

Linda

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Two Sentence Tuesday: Plunder!

Today's quote comes from Plundered Booty by Travis Erwin, an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award entry, and deservedly so.

Travis is a master of short, pithy character description as filtered through the mind of his sympathetic protagonist, Hank Petty Zybeck.

With his pointed nose and perpetual five o’clock whiskers, Dave had always reminded me of a fox. Not a sly fox like you read about as a kid, but a chicken stealing, henhouse fox, destined to get shot some bright moonlit night.


Given the theme of Erwin's book, it seems appropriate to include a bit of description from my pirate story, Marooned, written under my Lyndi Lamont pseudonym. In this scene, the heroine is disguised as a young man, but her guise doesn't fool the pirate captain for long.

Adam reached out and put a hand on Hal’s shoulder, noting the fine bones. He moved his hand down, feeling the soft flesh and lack of muscle in the arm. He studied Hal’s fine, pale complexion, and, for the first time, noticed that both earlobes were pierced.

“What is your real name, lass?” he asked softly.


In the interest of full disclosure, I admit that Travis is one of my cyber friends. That doesn't mean I didn't really enjoy reading the excerpt from his book. He has an authentic middle-American voice that works well with this story of a car salesman who dreams of buried treasure. I just wish there'd been more. I want to know whether Hank finds the treasure.

You can read the full excerpt at Travis Erwin's blog.

Check out the wondrous Women of Mystery blog for more Two Sentence Tuesday posts.

Linda

Monday, March 30, 2009

My Town Monday: LA's New Champ


Last Thursday,
American skater and LA resident Evan Lysacek won gold at the World Figure Skating Championships in front of an ecstatic hometown crowd. He's the first American man to win the competition since Todd Eldredge in 1996. Evan, who was in second place going after the short program, skated a flawless program to Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. He was thrilled, esp. since he loves attending games at the Staples Center. He has lived in LA for the last six years and is coached by the legendary Frank Carroll who also guided Michelle Kwan and Linda Frattiane to world titles. (I know Los Angeles doesn't seem like the kind of place that would be a mecca for skating, given the warm, sunny weather, but competitive skating went indoors a long time ago, and quite a few well-known skaters have called Southern California home, including Peggy Fleming and Sascha Cohen.)

Evan Lysacek has been on the scene for a while now (he's 23, practically an old man by skating standards) and I've witnessed his ups and downs, so I was really hoping he'd win. I had to work on Thursday night, so I set the DVR. My DH knew Evan had won before I could watch, but he thoughtfully refrained from telling me. Seeing him win brought tears to my eyes and joy to my heart. It was well-deserved and a long time coming. What made it more remarkable is that he skated that well with a stress fracture in his left foot. He didn't say anything about that until after he'd skated because he didn't want it all to be about the foot. What a Mensch!

Here's video from YouTube of Evan's short program at at the recent Four Continents Championship where he came in second to Canada's Patrick Chan who earned silver at the Worlds.



Linda

My Town Monday is the brilliant brain child of writer/blogger Travis Erwin. Thanks, Travis! Go to his blog to read his latest post and find links to the other participants.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Skating World Comes to LA


Last week the World Championships of Figure Skating were held here in Los Angeles.

I've been an avid skating fan ever since my husband bought me my first VCR in 1984 right before the Sarajevo Olympic Games. I set the device to record every day before going to work, then watched in the evening, fast-forwarding through everything that wasn't skating. I was hooked and I've been watching ever since. For me, figure skating is the perfect melding of artistry and athleticism, and it's the only sport I really enjoy watching.

It has been interesting to watch the sport for so many years, and to see how national fortunes rise and fall. When I started watching, the Soviet Union dominated the sport, but at the moment Russia isn't a force. Japan dominates ladies skating, with the exception of Korea's Kim Y-Na while our ladies are struggling to stay competitive. They're young, though, and I expect that to change. China is a huge force in the pairs event. For the first time since I've been watching, the US has a strong, competitive ice dance field. And we have some of the strongest male single skaters in the world.

I'd thought about trying to attend the event at LA's Staples Center, but didn't follow through. But thanks to the Oxygen Channel, I was able to watch lots of skating, starting with four hours on Wed. for the Pairs and Men's short programs. I had to work on Thursday, so I set the DVR. On Friday I went on a skate-watching binge: six hours, including the Men's free skate, the ladies short program and the original dance. The men's free skate was the highlight since Evan Lysacek captured the only win for the US. More about Evan on Monday.

Last night Kim Yu-Na lit up the ice, winning the first world medal for Korea. She also became the first woman to rack up more than 200 points in the new scoring system. Her skate was amazing, both artistic and athletic. The complete package, as commentator Sandra Bezic likes to say. Kim is a talented singer and that seems to help her feel the music. Though young, she's the most popular celebrity in Korea, and seems like a delightful young lady. She's coached by Candian skater, Brian Orser, two-time Olympic silver medalist. It seems like a great pairing. It was great to see Joannie Rochette take the silver medal, the first time a Canadian woman has been on the podium since Elizabeth Manley's second place finish in 1988.

The year's worlds was more important than usual because the results determine how many skaters each country gets to send to next year's Olympic Games in Vancouver. Thanks to Evan and Brandon Mroz, who came in 9th in the men's competition, the US will be able to send three men to Vancouver. We'll have three dance teams, too, courtesy of Belbin and Agosto's silver medal and Davis and White's fourth place finish in ice dancing.

You can check out the results here.

Now all eyes are on Vancouver. I can't wait.

Linda

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Nearly Wordless Wednesday: Free Screen Cleaner



This isn't new, but every time I see it, I have to chuckle. My DH doesn't think it's so cute though. What do you think?

Linda

Monday, March 23, 2009

My Town Monday: The Fighting 47th

I know this isn't nearly as clever as Stephen Colbert's clever "Better Know A District" segments, nor will there be a video interview with our representative, Loretta Sanchez, but here goes.

California's 47th Congressional District is located in north Orange County and includes the cities of Garden Grove and Santa Ana as well as parts of Fullerton and Anaheim, including Disneyland. As Congressional districts go, it's fairly compact and not too oddly shaped.

According to Wikipedia, the district covers 55 square miles and is 100% urban, not unusual for Southern California. That was probably not always the case, but we have now lost almost all of our agricultural land in this part of the state. The population of the district is 639,087 with ethnic makeup listed as 17.8% White, 1.5% Black, 13.9% Asian, 65.3% Hispanic, 0.3% Native American, and 0.1% other. Median income for the district is $41,618.

The 47th the only district in the county that's fairly well-balanced between Republicans and Democrats. Loretta Sanchez has been our rep since 1996, but before that we had Republican Robert Dornan. (I will say no more on that subject except that I'm glad he's gone.) Loretta is unique in that she is one of two sisters in Congress. Her sister Linda, another Democrat, represents a district in Los Angeles County. During the primary, they each chose a different candidate to support. Loretta stumped for Hillary Clinton while Linda campaigned for Barack Obama.

I've been to Congresswoman Sanchez's website recently to see what's going on re money for the district in the economic stimulus package. Lately I've seen too many people prowling through garbage cans looking for bottles and cans to recycle. Given the times we live in, I think it's good if we all start paying more attention to our elected representatives.

Linda

My Town Monday is the brilliant brain child of writer/blogger Travis Erwin. Thanks, Travis! Go to his blog to read his latest post and find links to the other participants.