Archive for March, 2011


Critique Groups & Question Marks

   Posted by: Faith    in Rye Thoughts

penToday I have some questions for YOU:

  • Are you currently in / have you ever been in a critique group?
  • Was it online or face-to-face?
  • What worked? What didn’t?

I ask because, well… I’m starting a very small local critique group, and I feel a bit like I’m jumping into the deep end before learning how to swim.

Why would I do this? The writing group here in town isn’t a ‘critique’ group per se, and the writing group in the next town is a social club rather than an actual writing group (says so on their Facebook, actually…).

It looked like a case of “if I don’t start this, no one will”. I don’t want to be in charge of something else (and hopefully once this gets going, I won’t be “in charge”, it’ll be a group effort), but I desperately need to progress with my edits and get feedback. I want to be querying in September, at the latest. I’ve put it off for far too long.

But since my only experience with critique groups has been online – and in those cases, as lovely as the people were, the actual ‘critiquing’ didn’t pan out on a regular basis – I’m looking for words of wisdom from people who’ve been a part of critique groups that have worked (or not)!

I’m armed with some general knowledge and a copy of The Writing and Critique Group Survival Guide… but what else should I know before this train starts moving?!


Blog Hop: How Many Books?

   Posted by: Faith    in Rye Thoughts

Since I’m still drowning in unmarked papers for my class, I figure I’ll join the blog hop for today… one of these days I’ll get back to those useful posts I like writing… but it’s Friday (Friday…) so who wants to sit around and read long blog posts today anyway?


Here’s what the blog hop is: In the spirit of the Twitter Friday Follow, the Book Blogger Hop is a place just for book bloggers and readers to connect and share our love of the written word!  This weekly BOOK PARTY is an awesome opportunity for book bloggers to connect with other book lovers, make new friends, support each other, and generally just share our love of books!  It will also give blog readers a chance to find other book blogs to read! 


"Do you read only one book at a time, or do you have several going at once?"


stack-of-books2 I’m a book hopper… it’s true! I always have more than one book on the go, and it’s a habit I formed years and years ago. I don’t remember ever reading only one book at a time, to be honest. I tend to read according to my mood, so I’ll have different books for different moods.

I try to always have at least one non-fiction on the go, as well. And I’m notorious for starting a book, enjoying it, and getting highly distracted by another book and not going back to that first book for several years. Then one day I’ll get the itch, pick it up, and keep reading from where I left off.

Is that weird? I don’t know…

Right now, I’m reading: Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Unearthly by Cynthia Hand, The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan, and a few self-help books on stress reduction. That’s fewer books than usual, in fact. Oh, and I’ve had The Count of Monte Cristo on hold for about 8 months now… I’ll get back to it soon… really!


How about you? Do you read multiple books at a time? Maybe you only read certain kinds of books while you’re writing a certain kind of story (I’ve heard this happens too)… what are you reading right now, and if you’re not reading, why not? Writers need to read constantly, so go pick up a book! :D


Book Review: ‘The Raising’

   Posted by: Faith    in Rye Thoughts

The Raising: A Novel

by Laura Kasischke

YA Contemporary

Release Date: March 15, 2011




Last year Godwin Honors Hall was draped in black. The university was mourning the loss of one of its own: Nicole Werner, a blond, beautiful, straight-A sorority sister tragically killed in a car accident that left her boyfriend, who was driving, remarkably—some say suspiciously—unscathed.

Although a year has passed, as winter begins and the nights darken, obsession with Nicole and her death reignites: She was so pretty. So sweet-tempered. So innocent. Too young to die.

Unless she didn’t.

Because rumor has it that she’s back.


My Thoughts:

I went into this one not really knowing what to expect, though I read it based on a fellow book reviewer’s recommendation. This was my first experience with Kasischke’s work, and I can say with confidence that I’ll read more of her writing in the future.

This novel is set at a university campus, with a heavy focus on Greek life. This was a bit of a turnoff for me at first, because her in Canada, Greek life isn’t really the ‘thing’ the way it is in the United States. It’s difficult for me to relate to girls enduring hazing rituals as pledges, because I can’t entirely understand why anyone would want to join a sorority or fraternity in the first place. The whole concept seems ludicrous to me, but that’s another discussion for another time… back to the book!

We begin the novel at the scene of a car accident, from the point of view of a witness. The actual story then opens several months later, and we learn that the girl from the accident died, her boyfriend has been blamed for it (but not convicted), and he’s back on campus trying to deal with her death. The problem? Other students start seeing the dead girl around campus.
The story unfolds through several avenues: Flashbacks to the year before, when the couple met, followed by present-day action. Multiple points-of-view help tell the story through different avenues, allowing the mystery to reveal itself bit by bit, and each voice is remarkably distinct. None of the flashbacks felt forced, and none of the viewpoints felt out of place (though it did take a little while for one of them to tie into the main story).

I’ll be honest: The amount sexual content in the book was off-putting, but I understand that Kasischke was trying to evoke the ‘college campus’ feel in her story (do students really hop in and out of bed with each other THAT often?! my undergrad experience must have been really sheltered…) and to be fair, none of the sex came across as dirty or gratuitous. It was extremely well written. It’s just my personal feeling that she could have done without the graphic element in several scenes.

For that matter, the writing in the entire book reads almost… peacefully, if that makes any sense. It’s like we’re seeing the events unfold through a dream, removed from the situation and taking it all in piece by piece. I don’t know how she did it, but this didn’t seem at first like the kind of book I’d want to read, and then I found myself unable to put it down. And when I did put it down, it was only for a few minutes and then I literally could not get my work done until I finished the book.

I wouldn’t say I loved it, because I didn’t. What I did love was Kasischke’s incredible mastery of tone, atmosphere, and character. The story was interesting, and I really liked the manner in which she played the whole thing out. I’ve never seen that format done successfully before, but clearly this author has the experience and skill necessary to write a book full of flashbacks and keep it moving forward at a steady pace.

Would I recommend it? Yes, but I also recognize that it’s not going to be for everyone. That said, here I am a month after finishing the novel, and I’m finding myself still thinking about it and the way the events unfolded.

I will definitely be reading more from this author in the future.


About the Author

laurak Laura Kasischke teaches in the University of Michigan MFA program and the Residential College. She has published seven collections of poetry and seven novels. She lives with her family in Chelsea, Michigan.

I received a complimentary digital review copy of this book for review courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers and NetGalley.


The First Line – Free Issue!

   Posted by: Faith    in Rye Thoughts

I’ve posted about this little journal before, but since it’s been a long time, I thought I’d mention it again…

first line The First Line is a literary journal based around a simple premise: All the stories in each issue start with the same first line.

Authors are asked to submit short stories using that first line as the (duh) first line of their story, and it’s often fascinating to see how differently writers use that line and how the stories diverge so drastically from that basic starting point!

It’s a lot of fun to write with a prompt, and if you’ve never tried it before, here’s your chance!

The next first line for the Summer 2011 issue is: “We need to talk.” Submissions are due on May 1st. Don’t be put off by the ‘literary’ heading, either – they accept submissions in all genres, in an effort to make the publication as eclectic as possible. :)

And even better (and the reason why I’m posting), until March 13th, The First Line is offering a free pdf of their Spring 2011 issue, to celebrate 13 years of being in print!

Yay, free stuff! And if you’re thinking of writing for them, what better way to learn the market than with a free sample issue, right?

Why not give it a shot? And if you’ve read this journal before (or been published in it before), share your thoughts!


The Truth, the Whole Truth and…

   Posted by: Faith    in Rye Thoughts

…fine. I’ll tell you. I said I would!

There were plenty of great guesses, but alas, no one chose correctly… not even my Dear Husbando, who I asked to read it and find the lie. He did a *facepalm* of his own when I pointed it out, however.

Let’s evaluate! :D

7 Cups of Coffee, Blackcoffee_book

Yes, this happened. I got cut off. In fact, later that year, I drank at least that many in an even  shorter period of time (not at Pizza Hut, though) and actually passed out. Er, these were not my proudest moments as a 16-year-old. Heh. And yes, I drink it black. Any other way is unnatural, I tell you!

Chocolate Grocery Store Cake

Yep, I made this decision the day before I wrote the post, in fact. Chocolate grocery store cake doesn’t even taste like chocolate anymore, so I don’t think it counts as chocolate. It tastes like dashed hopes and bitter disappointment. *sniff* It’s just plain cruel.

The Bird (aratinga solstitialis)

Don’t worry, he’s real! In fact, he’s sitting with me right now, wrapped up in a blanket and happily preening his feathers. He’s also being unusually quiet, so maybe I should check on him… yep, he’s okay… he’s flipped on his back for a tickle, so all is good!

Traipsing Around the House Whilst Singing / Shouting / Screeching/ Exclaiming

Yes, and those who know me well know that this is not unusual behavior. Much like with my bird, if I’m too quiet for too long, people tend to come check on me and make sure I’m still alive. Needless to say, we don’t open the windows very often…

Cat That Doesn’t Like to Be Pet

Caprica 064 This is sad, but true. She’s evil and a nightmare. We named her Caprica (after the Cylon/planet), and she’s lived up to her cruel, robotic namesake. I can only pet her if she’s asleep/almost asleep/just waking up, but the moment she realizes what I’m doing, she’ll claw me.

She’s also highly destructive and doesn’t respond to discipline (she seems to like being sprayed with water, loud noises don’t bother her, “no” means “pause until the human has glanced away”… and she’ll literally follow me down the hall and dig her claws into my calf if I walk away after telling her not to do something).

The vet actually told me once, “just say the word and I’ll get her on some meds”. Yep, the vet recommends kitty Prozac!

She’s awful… but she’s so pretty. It’s too bad, but I committed to care for her when I adopted her, so that’s that. Sometimes you draw the short straw, I guess.

That means the lie must be… what????

Here it is in the sentence: “…I regret that after graduating high school…”

Still confused? Heh. Well, I never graduated from high school.

Seriously. Alberta_coat_of_arms.svg

“But Faith,” you’re saying, “Aren’t you teaching at a college? Didn’t you go to university?!? WHAT THE HECK?!?!”

Ahem. Yes. But, to make a long story short, I moved between provinces during high school, from Alberta to Ontario. At the time, Ontario had an extra grade level (grade 13, which has since been abolished), and I refused to do an extra year of high school when I’d come from a province where I only had one year left. So, under the assumption that I could do this and still graduate, I skipped from grade 11 to grade 13, did that year through correspondence, and applied for my diploma.

And then was told that I couldn’t graduate because I didn’t have enough credits. Even though they’d told me before it was fine to skip a grade. I said “screw it”, and applied to a local college on the strength of the grades I did have, and they let me in anyway. w00t w00t! So it’s not like I’m a dropout or anything, I just got screwed by the system and had to work around it.

Thanks for guessing!!!


Nice try, everyone! I admit, that was really hard… but I’ve had a lot a fun going through others’ posts and trying to guess too, and it’s been great to see how creative we all got with it!


Here’s to Crusading, and if I haven’t made it over to your blog yet… I’m sorry! I’ll get there soon! Still working my way through the list… how about you? :)