Archive for April, 2012


Z is for Zonked

   Posted by: Faith    in Rye Thoughts

Zonked like these puppies!!!…because I am. Not in the “zonked out on drugs and alcohol” way!!! Read the second definition. I’m exhausted and fatigued. I don’t think it’s just me, though—I’m betting everyone who made it to the end of the A-to-Z Challenge feels a little bit zonked.

It’s been an interesting challenge, and I cheated more than once by missing a day and back-posting (but I know I’m not the only one! …and at least I made it…). I also didn’t get around to nearly as many blogs as I’d hoped to, and I still owe a few of you return visits to your blogs.

I’m wondering though, if the blog really is on the decline as a form of interaction and communication. There were, what, over 2000 people participating in the challenge this year, and yet many of the blogs I visited had few (if any) comments on many of the posts. That says to me that people still want to talk and still have things to say, but fewer and fewer people have the time to spend visiting and reading and commenting on other peoples’ blogs.

It’s like we’re stepping back to write just for ourselves again, and not necessarily for an expected audience.

Is that a bad thing? I don’t think so. And I suspect the interest in blogs and blogging will move in cycles. I also don’t think that the blog as a communication tool is necessarily going to go away or die anytime soon… I just wonder if its place in social media will decline for a time.

That said? Thanks for visiting, thank you for commenting, and here’s to another successful A-to-Z Challenge!

And, umm… I may take a few weeks off before posting again. I wouldn’t blame you if you did the same. Winking smile


Y is for Yearning

   Posted by: Faith    in Rye Thoughts


“In the back of my mind was the constant hankering, almost yearning, to write but something always stopped me in my tracks. Or if I did find my way to put a pen to paper or finger on a keyboard I’d give up after a few minutes. I’d find other things to do: Anything but writing.”

Mary Garden

Sound like you? Read the rest of the inspiring (and motivating!) article here. Smile


X is for Xebec

   Posted by: Faith    in Everything Else

Algiers_xebecDon’t know what a xebec is? Neither did I, until I looked it up. But instead of spending time telling you about it in this post, I think I’m going to write about it for this week’s post on The Ancient Standard.

What’s The Ancient Standard, you ask?

It’s been awhile since I’ve mentioned it… but it’s a joint project between El Husbando and myself: A blog with regular posts about ancient history (including recent archaeological discoveries).

If you haven’t been there before, go check ‘er out!

And hang on for a post there later this week, when I’ll tell you what a xebec actually is (though the photo above is pretty much a dead giveaway)… Winking smile


W is for Why

   Posted by: Faith    in Tasty Tomes

Why We Broke Up

by Daniel Handler

YA Contemporary

Release Date: December 2011



"I’m telling you why we broke up, Ed. I’m writing it in this letter, the whole truth of why it happened." Min Green and Ed Slaterton are breaking up, so Min is writing Ed a letter and giving him a box. Inside the box is why they broke up. Two bottle caps, a movie ticket, a folded note, a box of matches, a protractor, books, a toy truck, a pair of ugly earrings, a comb from a motel room, and every other item collected over the course of a giddy, intimate, heartbreaking relationship. Item after item is illustrated and accounted for, and then the box, like a girlfriend, will be dumped.

My Thoughts:

You may or may not know that Daniel Handler is the real-life name of Lemony Snicket, who wrote the Series of Unfortunate Events books some time ago. If you’re at all familiar with this, do not read this book expecting another quirky children’s tale. I’ve seen a review or two that complains about this very thing, which leads me to believe that some readers don’t understand that using a pseudonym for the silly books was the whole point. His other work isn’t silly, isn’t bizarre, and isn’t anything like the SoUE books. But that doesn’t make it any less wonderful.

This is probably a "love it or hate it" kind of book. The story itself is written in the form of a "Dear John" letter (that’s a breakup letter, for you young’uns) by the protagonist, and the writing style shifts between journal/letter/stream-of-consciousness depending on just how angry Min (the main character) is about whatever she’s writing about. Her letter to Ed lists all the reasons why they broke up, recounting events and conversations and snippets of memory that led to this moment in time where her pen hits the paper to tell him they’re done.

The writing is vivid, rough, and raw at times. There’s nothing overly sweet or sentimental here, and the dialogue is stilted but not faked, awkward but not forced, and true to life. This is how teenagers talk: Full of uncertainties, playing to the moment, and highly reactionary.

Min’s own insecurities come through very clearly in her letter. Throughout the story, she recounts how Ed and others always call her "different" and "strange" (but in a good way), but she doesn’t see it that way, and fights against this label because she believes herself to be truly average if not a little bit worse. It’s heartbreaking at times, but also more telling than some of us might like to admit — I think most of us struggled with teenage insecurities, and Min’s anger and frustration (and moments of joy, memories now tainted with the heartache of knowing what was to come) will, undoubtedly, strike a chord with many readers, even those who are long past their teenage years.

About the Author

daniel_handler__300x3360Daniel Handler is the author of the bestselling A Series of Unfortunate Events (under the pen name of Lemony Snicket), a collection of books for children, and three books for adults: Basic Eight (based on a true story of a teenaged girl who commits murder), Watch Your Mouth (a melodramatic satire of family life), and Adverbs, due out this year.


V is for Vole

   Posted by: Faith    in Everything Else

Did you know that at Oxford University (yes, the one in Ye Olde Englande), the student paper contains a “vole of the month” feature?

I am not making this up.


My fantastico friend Emily cut this out for me once. Now, I could be mistaken—perhaps it’s from some other British publication?—but still.

It’s a “vole of the month” feature.

Wherever this comes from? I want to go to there.


U is for Underneath

   Posted by: Faith    in Rye Thoughts

There’s something living underneath our back porch. I don’t know what it is, but I have my suspicions… I’ve never seen it, so I can’t be sure, but the hole is just the right size for a bunny or a skinny skunk. Maybe a raccoon, but they tend to make ‘em hefty around here, so I doubt it.

740_empty_nesters3As much as I should want it gone, I don’t. What can I say? I have a weak spot for wildlife… for example, there’s a mourning dove sitting on an egg in our front porch window box, and tomorrow is day 14… that means it’s just about to hatch. That little egg has been underneath Momma & Poppa dove’s warm bellies for two whole weeks, and it’s time to come on out into the world.

Lately, I’ve been feeling that way about my manuscripts. Of which there are many. They’ve been languishing underneath my “belly” for, in many cases, years, and during that time I’ve watched other writers let their manuscripts hatch and fly free. Sometimes before they were ready. Other times, their babies took off and soared.

I’m afraid to let mine go. I hoard them like a bird who refuses to get off the egg, even when a little beak starts poking through the shell. Just a little while longer, I think, and it’ll be perfect. Then it’ll be ready.

But it won’t, will it? (Rhetorical question.) It’ll never be perfect and ready the way I want it to be. At some point, I need to step off the nest and let it go. If I keep all these words underneath me for too long, I’ll suffocate them and be left with nothing.

Underneath is safe, sure. But freedom is worth so much more.


T is for Tired

   Posted by: Faith    in Everything Else

…because I am. The shift back to cold weather after the warm spell hasn’t helped.

And in case you’re feeling tired too, here’s a video of a kitten riding a tortoise. If that doesn’t at least make you smile, then you’re beyond help today… Smile


S is for Strength

   Posted by: Faith    in Rye Thoughts

“It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy course; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.”

– Theodore Roosevelt



R is for Real

   Posted by: Faith    in Tasty Tomes

Real Mermaids Don’t Wear Toe Rings

by Helene Boudreau

Upper Middle Grade Fantasy

Release Date: December 2012


real mermaidsFreak of nature takes on a whole new meaning…

If she hadn’t been so clueless, she might have seen it coming. But really, who expects to get into a relaxing bathtub after a stressful day of shopping for tankinis and come out with scales and a tail?

Most. Embarrassing. Moment. Ever.

Jade soon discovers she inherited her mermaid tendencies from her mom. But if Mom was a mermaid, how did she drown?

Jade is determined to find out. So how does a plus-size, aqua-phobic mer-girl go about doing that exactly? And how will Jade ever be able to explain her secret to her best friend, Cori, and to her crush, Luke?

This summer is about to get a lot more interesting…

My (Extremely Brief) Thoughts:

Poor Jade is having a rough day… first, she can’t find a bathing suit that fits her full figure, then when she does, the designer’s name is the same as her late mother’s, her period has started for the first time, and then she bumps into a cute boy while buying pads with her Dad. When she gets home, all she wants to do is relax in the tub, but she’s so exhausted that she falls asleep… and wakes up with a mermaid tail!

And that’s where the story really starts. It’s cute, realistic (a full-figured heroine!), and features a loving, healthy relationship between a teenager and her parents. It’s a book about friendship, coming-of-age, first crushes, and forgiveness.

While I’m obviously not the target market for this book, I do think it would make an excellent read for the 9-12 crowd on the verge of puberty (and all the physical changes that come with it) and heading into that awkward "parents aren’t cool anymore" transitional phase.

…also? She’s a Canadian author!!! (Yay!)

About the Author

heleneboudreauHélène Boudreau grew up on an island surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean but now writes fiction and non-fiction for kids from her land-locked home in Ontario, Canada.

She has never time-travelled or saved an endangered bird, nor has she ever spotted a mermaid in the wild, but she believes mermaids are just as plausible as sea horses, flying fish, or electric eels.


Q is for Quoll

   Posted by: Faith    in Rye Thoughts

quoll2Ever heard of these little guys?

Turns out they’re native to Tasmania, New Guinea, and Australia… seriously, some weird animals live down there. Most of them are marsupials and, oh, yep, so are quolls.

There are four different species of quolls (also called “native cats”, which I don’t really understand), and apparently there are known fossil remains of these things from the Pliocene & Pleistocene Eras… these guys have been around for 15 million years!!! Now I feel really bad that I haven’t heard of them before…

But what makes them really notable is their weird “survival of the fittest” child-rearing. Since quolls are marsupials, the females have a pouch where their undeveloped babies have to crawl into and remain until they’re fully developed… but apparently quolls typically give birth to 18 babies, but only 6 survive. Because she only has 6 *ahem* “milk ducts” (what? I don’t want your workplace to ban my blog… lol). Only 6, for 18 babies. But they keep birthing 18 anyway.

WHAT?!?! Man, I hate nature sometimes. It’s all “Here you go, helpless babies, race to the food! Oh, and the losers die, sorry about that.”

Then again, it’s kind of like my “unfinished stories” folder. For every 18 stories that I start, maybe 6 (if I’m lucky) survive to be actually written.

So I guess I’m just as brutal as the quoll. Except for the whole “innocent things dying” part. And I have a suspicion that the quoll isn’t the only marsupial to have such a disturbing birthing / raising process (I think Tasmanian Devils do this too?).

Anyway, there’s your fun fact of the day. By which I mean, disturbing nature fact.


Happy Earth Week? o_O

***NOTE: The sad reality is, these little guys are actually endangered, with one species already extinct. Conservation efforts are underway, including captive breeding programs, but as with many of endangered species, awareness is a large part of the battle. There are some programs accepting donations for their work, which is great! But be sure to do a bit of research before handing over your hard-earned cash. Or if donating isn’t your thing, you can always spread the word about conservation, or volunteer with a program in your area!