Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Colombia from the Hip

Myths abound about Colombia. So I'm going to have these little sections of photos I take in Colombia on the streets -- photos of my everyday life that don't have anything to do with horrible drug lords wearing tacky gold necklaces, the FARC, war, trafficking or anything that Hollywood and the media might have come up with to distort what Colombia is (as if you can "define" a place).

Here are my pics of the week:

1. A view of Pereira from Plaza Victoria (about a five-ten minute walk from my apartment)
2. Juan Valdez Coffee Shop
3. The "Shovel" Corner. Early every morning men gather at this corner with shovels, waiting for work. They're day laborers and get paid about $10.00 a day. (If the person who hires them is honest).

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sigh of Relief

I have not had the best couple of weeks. My daughter was sick, I have been struggling with hip pain and life doesn't stop for any of it. The laundry still piled up. The kids still needed to be fed and the house to be cleaned. Not to mention my job. I have not written for the last two months.

I've been waiting to hear from my agent, who has been reading revisions of my manuscript. In the meantime, I have been researching my next book.

I received an email during a busy day last week that she the ms has much improved and she will have notes soon. She wants to try to make a go of it this fall. Everything else evaporated at least for a few moments. It is much improved. Those words echoed in the caverns of my mind.

It will all be okay. Isn't it funny how much my self worth is tied into my writing? Each manuscript contains pieces ripped from my soul and carefully sewn together thrown onto the reader for mercy. While I have come to appreciate criticism, at times I find myself doubting whether I have anything worthwhile at all.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Cover Controversy and More ...

As promised, a short synopsis of each book and genre.

Sarah Dessen, THE TRUTH ABOUT FOREVER -- (YA/Chick lit)
Macy's summer stretches before her, carefully planned and outlined. She will spend her days sitting at the library information desk. She will spend her evenings studying for the SATs. Spare time will be used to help her obsessive mother prepare for the big opening of the townhouse section of her luxury development. But Macy's plans don't anticipate a surprising and chaotic job with Wish Catering, a motley crew of new friends, or ... Wes. Tattooed, artistic, anything-but-expected Wes. He doesn't fit Macy's life at all--so why does she feel so comfortable with him? So ... happy? What is it about him that makes her let down her guard and finally talk about how much she misses her father, who died before her eyes the year before? Sarah Dessen delivers a page-turning novel that carries readers on a roller coaster of denial, grief, comfort, and love as we watch a broken but resilient girl pick up the pieces of her life and fit them back together.

Robert J. Sawer, WWW:WAKE -- Sci. Fi
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. The wildly thought-provoking first installment of Sawyer's WWW trilogy, serialized in Analog in 2008 and 2009, explores the origins and emergence of consciousness. Blind teen Caitlin Decter gets an experimental signal-processing implant that inexplicably opens up her vision to the wondrous infrastructure of the World Wide Web. Inside the Web is a newborn webmind, a globe-spanning self-contained consciousness that is just becoming aware of the outside world. Secondary plot threads about a highly intelligent hybrid primate and Chinese bloggers battling a repressive government extend the motif of expanding awareness. The thematic diversity—and profundity—makes this one of Sawyer's strongest works to date.

Patrick D. Smith, A LAND REMEMBERED -- Historical Fiction
A Land Remembered focuses on the fictional story of the MacIveys, who migrated from Georgia into Florida in the mid-1800s. After settling, this family struggles to survive in the harsh environment. First they scratch a living from the land and then learn to round up wild cattle and drive them to Punta Rassa. Over three generations, they amass more holdings and money, and move further from their connection to the wild land.

Orson Wright, THE VENGEANCE OF ARGIR -- Fantasy
It seems it's won awards etc. but I'm having a bugger of a time finding anything about what this book is about. If anybody finds out, I'll post!!

Susan Choi, A PERSON OF INTEREST -- Adult mystery/contemporary
Professor Lee, an Asian-born mathematician nearing retirement age, would seem the last person likely to attract the attention of FBI agents. Yet after a popular young colleague becomes the latest victim of a serial bomber, Lee's detached response and maladroit behavior lead the FBI, the national news media, and even his own neighbors to regard him with damning suspicion.

Amid campus-wide grief over the murder, Lee receives a cryptic letter from a figure out of his past. The letter unearths a lifetime of shortcomings – toward his dead wife, his estranged only daughter, and a long-denied son. Caught between his guilty recollections and the scrutiny of the murder investigation, determined to face his tormentor and exonerate himself, Lee sets off on a journey that will bring him face-to-face with his past – and that might even win him redemption.

Haruhi Suzumiya, THE MELANCHOLY -- "Light novel" (I found the definition of this offensive and will rant on a later post)
Apparently, though, it's now an Anime series and I haven't quite figured out if it's in book form, though it seems like it's a set of stories about a detective within one novel. As you can see, I'm not doing too well on my own investigations. Hmmm. This is what I get from the DVD reviews:
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (2006) overflows with zany energy. Despite the title, Haruhi Suzumiya is anything but melancholy: she's a bossy, outspoken high school girl who's searching for "aliens, time travelers, and espers." To aid her search, Haruhi founds a new club, The SOS Brigade. Although she doesn't realize it, Haruhi has actually found what she's looking for in her recruits: Yuki is an alien; Mikuru, a time traveler; Itsuki, an esper. Kyon, the put-upon narrator,is normal--at least superficially.Itsuki warns Kyon that the existence of the universe may depend on Haruhi's whims. When she gets upset, dark gaps open between dimensions, haunted by shinji (ghostly giants) whom Itsuki and other espers must destroy. Kyon wonders if he's having nightmares or protecting the world from destruction, but this storyline recedes as the series progresses. Like Dokkoida and Magical Shopping ArcadeAbenobashi, Melancholy spoofs the clichés of anime and otaku culture. When the president of the computer club challenges the SOS Brigade to a duel playing "Day of Sagittarius 3," the episode turns into an outrageous spoof of sci-fi anime, with Haruhi shouting commands from the bridge of an imaginary space ship. But the series stops, rather than ends, with the story unresolved as Haruhi and Kyon walk off into the rain. Given the popularity of Melancholy in Japan and the US, a sequel may be in the works. (Rated 13 and older: cartoon violence, risqué humor) --Charles Solomon


And finally, if you're interested in what goes behind a book cover (and what can go wrong), check out these articles and blogs about the latest book cover controvery over Justine Larbalestier's cover for her novel LIAR, LIAR.

Okay, the week of book covers, controversies, and all that goes with them is up (for now.) I'm off to swim with Amelia and play! Have a great weekend.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Juding a book ...

by it's cover.

We're not supposed to, but we all do it. And publishing houses invest loads of money in creating the "just right" cover that will capture the target audience's interest, then pass the cover through marketing, publicity and a whole slew of people who determine if it's the right look. So, I'm going to post six random novel covers. None of which I've read. And I'd like to know, for each cover, if A. You'd read it. (based on the cover alone) Why or why not? B. What you think the novel's genre is. and C. If you have any dreadful/awesome novel cover suggestions to post on the blog.
This week, I'll re-post and give a short synopsis of each book!

Here goes!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

You know you're a foreigner when ...

Since one of the main themes of my blog is about "feeling foreign", I'll try to talk about one thing that REALLY makes me stand out around here every blog post or so -- things that reveal my essential "gringa-ness". (Here, BTW, saying gringa/gringo isn't insulting. At least that's what they've been telling me for the past twelve years.)

Getting used to the day-today life in a foreign country can be exhausting, and after twelve years I still hold fast to some of my very gringa ways. (You'd think by now I'd know ...) Anyway, I'm pretty much the only one I know who actually waits for the traffic light to change to cross the street. I play the human version of Frogger on a daily basis and have gotten quite good. (I say I'm good because of the fact that I'm still alive and have only been clipped once by a taxi. Yes. I was crossing on green and assumed I had right-of-way. Silly me.)

There's something fantastic about a country that has "interpretive" traffic signs and lights. I think the whole idea of the game Red Light/Green Light is lost on children here. In fact, thinking about it, I've never seen the game played. How could they play it when red, yellow, and green all mean go?

The only thing that stops traffic in Colombia are the cars themselves that, at a moment's notice, will stop in the middle of a busy freeway to a.) pick up a customer (if you're a taxi or bus) b.) drop somebody off c.) say "hi!" to a friend seen in the next traffic lane or on the side of the road d.) buy beer, coffee, chips or other things at the little corner store e.) go in reverse because of a missed turnoff and f.) or show a little affection for the passenger. (Ahh the Latin Passion). All of the aforementioned actions cause massive traffic jams as the cars veer into the next lane to avoid the stopped car/bus/taxi or horse cart.

Nobody complains .. well not much. I suppose they figure what the moron in the car in front of them does today, they'll do tomorrow. And as for groping one another on the freeway, I stick with Einstein's theory of freeway groping (almost as well-known as the theory of relativity):
Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.