Friday, August 28, 2015

The Paper flower chronicles: phase 1 - practice, practice, practice

What happens when yours truly shamefully neglects book blogging for a year? This!

During some recent months of family crises, work stress, rejection-letter overload, and losing-my-mind moments, I found a new thrilling purpose for book pages and a new way to feel productive. At first, it really hurt me to do this because I am so in love with books, but I go on these occasional book-buying binges and always end up with more than one copy of a Star Trek novel. (My impulse buying normally includes a multitude of those.) I didn't want to go return a $1 used book, so I searched for crafty ideas and discovered I am pretty good at making paper flowers. Not only book-page flowers but card stock and other materials. I've gotten better since this photo, but I wanted to show you where it all began. I mean, what better decor for a book lover's house, right? It's lots of fun and stress relieving, which is essential for . I don't see it as destroying an old book, but rather giving it a whole new reason to live. Like I said, I struggled with this for a long time before I could bring myself to tear out those pages.

I also needed a reading/writing break. I was getting overwhelmed.

But none of this means I haven't been been reading. I've actually been reading less fiction and more non-fic on the craft of writing. Let's just say, Writer's Digest had a sale, and I went nuts.

Anyway, here are a few more lovelies from my new hobby. The top one I used as a gift box bow, in lieu of the traditional style bows you get at the store. I decided I am going to always create my own bow style for gifts from now on. The bottom one is a paper flower wreath.

And these are card stock roses. Since I seem to hate free time, I started an Etsy store, and now I'm in the mass production phase, hence the lapse in blogging.

Here's my most recent flower, made this morning.

My current read-in-progress is The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury. I'm about a third finished. So I'll let you know how that one ends up.

A happy productive Friday to all.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Book review: The Mummy or Ramses the Damned by Anne Rice

Hello all! I know, I know. I've been a less than part-time blogger for a while, but I promise it's for a good reason. I've been doing more reading than writing to strengthen my story-building skills based on inspiration I get from other fabulous works of fiction. Speaking of inspiration gathering, earlier this week, I received word that a non-fiction story I wrote called "A Rose Without a Thorn" will be published in a future Chicken Soup for the Soul book called Touched by an Angel. That will be coming out in October this year! Yay.

I just finished reading The Mummy or Ramses the Damned by Anne Rice, and I can't tell you enough how much I enjoyed it.

Synopsis from Amazon: He was Ramses the Damned in ancient Egypt, but awoke in opulent Edwardian London as Dr. Ramsey, expert in Egyptology. He mixes with the aristocrats and samples their voluptuous lifestyle, but it is for his beloved, Cleopatra, that he longs, and will do anything to be with....

If you enjoy some romance and the whole mummy-Egypt-adventure type story, I can't see why you wouldn't enjoy this book. I've always been fascinated by the great pyramids, ancient Egyptians, their art and legends, and discoveries of archaeologists. That's where I'd probably go if I ever got acquainted with time travel. I have to know who built these colossal structures in such primitive times and how!

I read some of the negative reviews on Amazon, and someone was bitching that Rice didn't do good research, bla bla bla. Oh, come on! There's a reason it's called FICTION, people. A writer can twist a story however she wants. In my opinion, she had it close enough for me. OK, so here goes my list of likes and dislikes, and I will warn you: SPOILER ALERT!


  • As I said before, the whole ancient Egypt theme won me from the start. What made it even more enjoyable for me was that Rice managed to meld ancient Egypt into a modern era and illustrate how this might be completely catastrophic. 
  • I love the mix of character, some lovable, some hate-worthy, and others whose personalities and actions simply add to the suspense, such as the law enforcement team following the hot trail of Ramses and Julie Stratford's wayward cousin Henry.
  • I love Anne Rice's writing style. It always gives me great visuals, and her prose isn't long and drawn out. In other words, no TMI, just necessary details and descriptions. 
  • Well-written dialogue. I can't you how many times the dialogue kills a story for me. It's not easy to write believable dialogue. 
  • I'll mention romance in both parts since I have a love/hate relationship with it. I like that it wasn't the main topic of the tale and that it was a weird story with sci-fi elements, as in, an eternal elixir. 
  • Loved that certain twisted characters got what they deserved. 

  • I'm not one for romance, so this was my least favorite part. But at least the heated passion between Ramses and Julie was as non-traditional as one can get! How often does a woman get wooed by an ancient Egyptian king?
  • This was written in the 80s, and she promised a sequel but never wrote one to this day. Not cool. It didn't end huge cliffhanger, but there were still many moving parts of the story left unfinished. For example, Cleopatra. And did Julie ever get into trouble after the museum reps and police entered her home while she was in Egypt and discovered the mummy there wasn't Ramses? Did she even go home? What became of the elixir? The sequel had massive potential. Wonder why she didn't go for it. 
  • It was annoying to me that Julie didn't cry for her father's death as much as she seemed to cry over Ramses and his shenanigans. I can't stand when a female character sobs and sobs for everything. 
  • And even when she was in Egypt, the place of his death and burial, she didn't even hint that she was thinking of him nor did she attempt to go visit his grave or death site. It would have made her character seem stronger to me if she had shown her grief for her father plus her love for Ramses, whom he discovered and inadvertently raised from hibernation. 
I rate this book 4 stars. Now, off to enjoy a rainy day.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Book review: The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida

A good friend loaned me this book titled The Reason I Jump to read because it is about a topic of high importance to me. Autism. The book was written by Naoki Higashida, a 13-year-old boy with autism. The book was translated by K.A. Yoshida and novelist David Mitchell. It is a series of Q & A sections with Higashida answering some basic questions most of us wonder about people with autism from why they act out to what makes them uncomfortable about crowds. 

Based on the other reviews I read, I noticed that people seem to be on the fence about the authenticity of the book. Yes, it originated from Higashida and was in Japanese to start. The translators discovered it, were inspired by it and decided that translating it would be a wonderful idea. They indeed added some of their wit into the writing; that was very obvious. This is what ticked off some people, apparently, accusing Mitchell of molding the boy's true answers to his writing style. 

When I read the intro, written by Mitchell, I got a taste of his originality and writing style, so yes, I did sense it throughout the entire book's translations. But as an autism mom who knows what these kiddos are capable of beneath their protective cover, I do believe Higashida was capable of giving these complex responses. Could my child have done this? I doubt it simply because communication is his biggest challenge, even when given writing materials and technology. He has a very hard time expressing his inner thoughts and opinions. But Higashida is strong in that regard, and perhaps his weakness is something else. He used a device called an alphabet grid to point out letters and spell out his responses. Autistic people are all as unique as their fingerprints, and I do believe their is fraud out there, but I also fully believe they have this potential. I've met many of them throughout my experiences, and they are fascinating people.  

The intro alone brought tears to my eyes because Mitchell was good about capturing what it's like to be an autism parent. How heartbreaking it is not to know what is going on in you child's mind and how disappointing it is when we read article after article and book after book, feeling unfulfilled aside from the basic knowledge we hear repeatedly. We know the stats. We know the basic dos and don'ts, the definition of it, that there are others in our shoes, the lack of research, etc. But what about real answers? We got some from Temple Grandin, a well-known adult with autism who is very verbal about her experiences. But she is just one of so many. The world needs more of these first-hand accounts, and I believe they exist worldwide. 

In this book, Higashida provides them. While he cannot speak for all autistic people, he did a great job of helping to understand what may be going through their minds in situations like not responding to questions (He advised to call their name because it is more attention-grabbing to their wandering minds). He spoke about why he is a picky eater (It could be the texture or smell of the food that is disturbing). Some of this we already assume, but it's pleasing to hear it from an autistic child himself.

All in all, I liked the book and finished reading it in just a few hours. I smiled. I teared up. And I was thankful for the read.  Five stars for this one.