Thursday, October 22, 2015

Writer's Workshop: I swear there was a ghost...

I grew up in the a pseudo-farm house that had been built in the early 40s by distant relatives, one of whom still lived next door in another house he and his father had built together when he was younger.  When we moved in, the previous owner (not related to the family in any way) claimed that she would wake up in the mornings and cupboards in the kitchen would be open, the coffeepot would be on, and the toaster would be down.  My parents thought nothing of it. 

I, on the other hand, am convinced that the house was definitely haunted based on several personal experiences.  Footsteps in the upstairs hallway were a constant occurrence when everyone was downstairs; everyone said it was just the house settling, but I knew different.

Incident 1
Fast forward a few years and my sister and I were probably in late elementary school; I was about 10 or so and she was 8.  It was summer and we were sitting at the kitchen table coloring when all of a sudden we both felt like we had been scratched.  Looking down, we had three identical scratch marks on one of our legs.  Spooky, right? 

Incident 2
Middle school brought about another encounter.  While sitting in the living room during the holiday season, the fully decorated Christmas tree began shaking violently.  Just the Christmas tree.  The dog was by my mother and the cat was in front of the fireplace.  Everyone else brushed it off, but you tell me that's not eerie.

Incident 3
Also in middle school, though perhaps a bit later as my sister and I were home alone, we were watching TV one evening when the pots and pans in the kitchen started rattling.  Nothing else was moving and we were the only ones home.  Those pots and pans were also fully enclosed in a cupboard.

Incident 4
This was definitely my most terrifying encounter with whatever was in the house.  It was summer between 9th and 10th grade.  I was sleeping downstairs on the couch because my waterbed hurt my back too much.  The window was open and I could hear the combines out in the fields.  I could also hear someone coming down the stairs and thought it was just my dad or brother.  When I glanced over toward the stairway, all I saw was the dark shadow of a large man (neither my dad or my brother are large men) standing in the doorway looking toward me.  He didn't move from that spot.  I closed my eyes and pretended he wasn't there.  I have never been more terrified in my life.

After that, nothing seemed to happen in the house.  I moved away for college and was only back intermittently.  However, a few years ago we had a house fire and the entire structure was gutted down to the studs.  My mother's friend, Tammy, was in town from Texas visiting her family and wanted to see the progress being made during the rebuild.  As soon as she walked in she stopped and said "Your ghost is gone.  He's not here anymore."  When my mother told me that I knew I had been right all along, even though nobody believed me.  And Tammy was right.  The house doesn't feel the same at all.  It's much more welcoming...especially when you're alone at night.

So...what are your thoughts on the paranormal?  Have you ever had a haunting experience?

Writer's Workshop is hosted by Kat at Mama's Losin' It

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesday:  Furiously Happy:  A Funny Book About Horrible Things
Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by Jenn @ A Daily Rhythm. Here are the rules: grab whatever you're reading, open to a random page, select no more than two sentence (NO SPOILERS), share the title and author, and GO!

Here's today's teaser:
"That's the moment when I realized how incredibly lucky I am to have spent eighteen years with a man who can laugh at bad gun-control jokes while a severed bear head is lying on his pillow" --page 76
          Furiously Happy:  A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson

I have been eagerly anticipating Lawson's second book since she announced it was in the works and I have not been disappointed!  And I'm super stoked that she doing a book tour and actually coming to Powell's in Portland.  Yeah, buddy!  If you've never heard of Jenny Lawson, I highly recommend her blog, The Bloggess, and her first book, Let's Pretend This Never Happened:  A Mostly True Memoir.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesday:  Shadowgirl
Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by Jenn @ A Daily Rhythm. Here are the rules: grab whatever you're reading, open to a random page, select no more than two sentence (NO SPOILERS), share the title and author, and GO!

Here's today's teaser:
"Anger rolled up inside her and heat pulsed from her hands to her feet.  She tried to calm down, tried to break its hold, but the image of fire flashed in front of her eyes and all at once, it exploded out of her." --page 54
          Shadowgirl by Kate Ristau

I'm really enjoying this little nugget of awesome from a PNW author.  I'm normally not very into fey stories or the like, but this one's pretty good!

Happy reading!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Beyond the Books: Worst Movies

This week's topic:  The Worst Movies I Have Ever Seen

Oh man, oh man!  I love movies.  Like, love them!  But, boy, have I seen some doozies!  Here are a few that rank among the absolute worst I've seen:

Maybe I would appreciate this film more now, but when I first saw it as a child I hated it...with a passion.  Parts of it scared me.  Parts of it were so freakin' boring.  I didn't like it one bit.  Because of these reasons I have yet to bring myself to watch it again.

I don't know why I hate this movie, but I do.  Maybe it's Andie MacDowell...or John Travolta in this particular role...

I like Jack Black.  I dislike Gwyneth Paltrow.  Plus, this movie is so offensive on so many levels that I just can't take it.  Bad movie!

A lot of people love this movie and, while it has some great scenes (peanut butter), it's overall pretty bad.  It's awful that I find the bus scene hilarious. 

Hands down, the worst Adam Sandler movie; and there have been some bad ones.  This one is just ridiculous and so outrageous.  Please, if you haven't seen it, don't waste your time.  If you've already seen it, I'm sorry!

I hate this movie.  I can't exactly pinpoint the reason why this particular film is so bad, but it grates on my last nerve.  Maybe it's because it's a remake of a German film called Wings of Desire and that film is brilliant.  I don't know.
Badly done, Hollywood!  You took a quickly-paced, thrilling book with a STRONG female character and turned it into a Tom Hanks-hero movie.  No!  And I like Tom Hanks!  Boo!!

So...what are some of the worst movies you've ever seen?

Beyond the Books is a weekly event hosted by Karen at Kissin Blue Karen.  Feel free to join in!  

Writer's Workshop: 10 Reasons I Love Fall

Fall is definitely my favorite season of the year.  That honor used to belong to Spring, but it's all about Fall now.  I just love it!  Here are a few reasons why:

Crisp, Cool Weather
I am not a fan of warm weather, so Fall is the perfect foil for the horribleness that is Summer.  I love stepping outside and breathing deeply of the fog filled morning.  It's refreshing and feels oh-so-good on my lungs.

Pumpkin Everything
I have yet to order a Pumpkin Spice Latte (from anywhere...basic?), but I love all things pumpkin.  Pie, candles, pumpkin pie spice, lotion.  If it's pumpkin, I'm game.  Mmmm

Changing Leaves
Ah, science.  It's so beautiful!

Only the BEST holiday of the entire year!  I love spooky things and what better time to partake in things like that than Halloween.  Scary costumes, candy, scary movies, little kids dressed up so cute!  And I absolutely love carving pumpkins!  I love it all.

Snuggly, Cozy Blankets
Curling up in a cushy chair or couch with a snuggly blanket is the best.  I wrap myself in all that fluffy wonderfulness and crack open a book or pop in a movie.  It's glorious.

There's nothing like sweater weather.

Along with sweaters, who doesn't love a great pair of boots!  They make you feel so cozy.

I am in love with rain.  And storms.  The sound of rain is soothing and I sleep so much better when it's stormy.

I have an abundance of scarves.  Maybe too many, but I lie to myself and say that's not true.  The BF refuses to buy me any more scarves.  He'll cave :)

Travel for Work
Fall marks the time of year when I'm able to get out of the office for work sometimes.  Though not my primary job, I get the opportunity to tag along with admissions counselors and participate in high school on-site admission events for the university where I work.  These are often heavily scheduled in the month of November, and we're incredibly slammed in general, but it's so rewarding telling a 17/18 year old that they CAN go to a university!

So what are some of your favorite things about Fall?

Writer's Workshop is hosted by Kat at Mama's Losin' It

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Story Starters: The Scoop

 “Don’t you trust me?
“Smart man.”
Peter quickly cleared his throat.  Sitting would be a disadvantage in this situation.  Instead he shuffled around the chair, placing his hands on the back, before returning his gaze to Jenny.  She stood across from him, coolly watching his every move.
“I’ve been thinking, Peter,” she started, examining her nails.  “When you brought your story to me, I’ll admit that I was intrigued.  Nobody accuses the Grahams of embezzlement and extortion.  Nobody.”  Jenny eased herself down into the chair behind the desk facing Peter, smoothly crossing her legs.  “This is a serious accusation and I don’t know if I’m prepared to give you free reign for the kind of investigating it would require.”
“It’s my scoop, Jenny.  I’m not backing off.”
Jenny chuckled.  “Oh, of course not.  Who said anything about backing off?”
Confusion entered Peter’s eyes.  What was Jenny playing at?  “So, I can do the story?”
“Yes,” she said.  “But don’t come to me when shit hits the fan.  And it will.  You’re on your own, Peter.  I can’t put my neck out for you and I can’t protect you.  This is on your shoulders.  Are you prepared for that?”
She nodded her head.  “Then it’s all yours.”
Releasing his grip on the back of the chair, Peter turned to go.  Jenny pulled open the top drawer of the desk and grasped the pistol firmly.  “Hey, Peter?”
“Yeah?” he said, turning back toward her.
“Did I ever tell you who my grandmother was?”
“No, why?”
Jenny leveled the pistol at Peter. “Judy Graham,” she said.  And fired.
Story Starters is a weekly meme hosted by Jenn @ A Daily Rhythm.  Every week, she will provide the beginning of the story (which I have highlighted) and it's your job to finish it.  Feel free to join in!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesday:  If I Stay
Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by Jenn @ A Daily Rhythm. Here are the rules: grab whatever you're reading, open to a random page, select no more than two sentence (NO SPOILERS), share the title and author, and GO!

Here's today's teaser:
"They are rough and hurried, like they don't consider eyelids worthy of gentleness.  It makes you realize how little in life we touch one another's eyes.  Maybe your parents will hold an eyelid up to get out a piece of dirt, or maybe your boyfriend will kiss your eyelids, light as a butterfly, just before you drift off to sleep.  But eyelids are not like elbows or knees or shoulders, parts of the body accustomed to being jostled." --page 63
          If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Been meaning to read this for a while now...finally getting around to it.

Happy reading!

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Habits to Quit

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and it's a way to share what you're loving in list form. The topic changes every week, so there is always something new to discover!
This week's topic is:  Top Ten Bookish Habits I Want to Quit/Have Quit.  I have a lot of book habits...and habits are hard to break!  Here are some I'd really like to work on:

1.  Dog-earring pages!  I am horrible at this and always manage to lose bookmarks, so I find that dog-earring a page works best.  However, I ONLY do this with books that I own!  I used to do it to library books and then I felt horrible, so I stopped.  I NEVER do it to books I borrow from friends because I am of the mindset that you return it in the EXACT same condition as it was lent to you.  I am now adopting this with library books, too.  I have recently been using a beer sticker as a bookmark (haha) because it's the perfect size and only has printing on one side (that's how I know which page I'm on).
2.  Continually adding books to my TBR list that I will probably never...ever...get to.  I try cleaning it up, but then I hem and haw over each and every book.  Because you just never know!  It's a problem.  I add books every single day, throughout the day, and I am kind of overwhelmed by the mounting number.  Sigh...
Current Count:  2758...seriously?!
This will probably be higher by the end of the day...

3.  Checking multiple books out from the library when I have an entire 6+ foot bookshelf that is double stacked and crammed chockablock full of perfectly good unread books at home.  I have no problem getting through the books I check out in time to return them, but I could totally use an intervention...or at least someone to say "NO!  Walk away from the library, Melissa!  Walk away NOW!" 

4.  Planning out my books to read (for specific challenges) from what I already own...and then throwing that list out the freakin' window because I went to the library and/or bookstore.  This ties in to the above.  It also shows that I really try to read what I already own...and fail miserably. 

5.  Feeling compelled to finish every single book I start.  I rarely, if ever, have a DNF because there is always a little voice in the back of my mind saying things like "It could get better"..."But what if something awesome happens"..."What if there's a major twist"..."If you don't finish this, you fail at life".  Okay, maybe not that last one, but I feel incredibly guilty if I don't finish a book.  Needless to say, I've read some pretty shitty books because of this 'disorder'.

6.  Along with the above, sticking to a series that has lost its pizzazz, mojo, spark.  I'm looking at you, Janet Evanovich!  The new Stephanie Plum book is coming out next month and I will read it.  I know I will.  And I will be disappointed...probably.  But I just can't walk away! 
7.  I judge books by their cover.  It's true.  If the cover does not intrigue me, I find it very difficult to pick the book up and read the synopsis.  However, if I am really into the book cover and then the book turns out to be like pulling teeth to read, then I get really angry.  Thanks for that, The Night Circus!  Beautiful cover...not so beautiful story.  I just couldn't get into it, but I finished it, dammit!  Ugh.

8.  I read to the detriment of everything around me.  My sleep.  It's all sacrificed for the love of reading.  Whoops!  Some may call this a problem, I call this dedication!

9.  Lending books.  I don't do it unless I really, really trust you.  I have had so many books not returned to me that it has become my policy to never lend a book to someone unless I see them regularly (like, daily) or I know where to find them if need be.  However, I have no problem recommending books like a fiend :)

10.  Silently judging people based on what they read.  It's horrible.   I know it's horrible.  But I still do it!  I'm sure people judge me based on my reading habits/preferences/choices, but oh well.  I don't voice these opinions; at least I don't think I do.  But I have a telling I'm told. 

So...what are some of your reading/bookish habits that you want to quit/have quit?  Do you identify with any of mine?

Also, look for next week's top ten:  Top Ten Author Duos I'd Love to See Write a Book Together. 

Happy reading!