Thursday, September 22, 2011

Critical Mass

When Nat & I first started on this journey with Sirenz, we were told to do Facebook (we do- even have a page for Sirenz), and Twitter (we do- @natalie_zaman and @charbennardo) and blogs (we do- and well, you're here). I've already touched on just doing writerly posts, which would bore the non-writers vs writing about any random thought, which Writer's Digest warned against doing because it doesn't give off a serious writing dedication vibe. Our editor said we should talk about our book (gotta sell it!) which we do occasionally, interviews with other writers (hmm, haven't done that yet) and reviews.

Reviews. Of other people's books. That presents a problem.

It's not like I have a problem giving my opinion. (Stop snickering those who know me!) That's never been a problem.

It's not like I don't read (Overflowing bookshelves, serious book expenses.) I'd rather read than watch American Idol, Glee, or the host of other really dumb TV shows.

The problems is: what if I don't like the book? Not everyone loves Sirenz (dramatic pause while I wait for mass denial, 'That's not true! We ALL love Sirenz!' Ok, not happening.). BIG SECRET HERE: I do not love every book I read.

When you're done gasping, there's more: there are some bestsellers that I've scratched my head and said "What's the fuss?" I won't mention them by name and this is where it gets sticky. I'm open to honest reviews- Sirenz has some 4 & 5 star reviews, and yet VOYA hated us with a passion that clearly was frightening. One blogger dropped the F-bomb so many times I check my mail for powdery substances. But I don't rave and rant or cry (not that you see anyway). This is the land of the free- and if you want to say something, say it. Doesn't say anywhere that I have to agree. But free speech comes with a caveat; you become known by your words. I do NOT want to be the 'author who hates [Book Title]!' Some people love Twilight and can't understand those who do not. Others loathe the book and make fun of those who live their lives by Team Jacob or Team Edward. (My friend Yvonne is snickering right now because almost every conversation has a Twilight mention.)  Criticizing or praising a book puts you into a nay or yay camp.

I never went to camp, so it's too late now to join one. I read books, and if we're talking face to face, I tell you what I liked about them. If other people in the conversation bash the book, then I feel free to say what disappointed me. I will not do a written review because words can bite you in the butt (yes, I've learned that the hard way). Plus, a lot of books I'm reading now are by people who've become my friends. Writing is a hard enough job; rejections by editors, critiques for you to change your work, efforts to market your book, and a host of so many other burdens that only authors know exist. I do not want to add to the already arduous task.

So, no reviews. I can definitively say however, that there is something I like in every book; maybe it's one character, a scene, or just the cover. You'll just have to sample the book and make up your own mind without my guidance. Enough said.

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Change of Seasons

Yeah, it's that time. Fall.

Every year, I hate it.


So many reasons; one, I have to close my pool. Not being a member of the polar bear club, I don't swim when it's cold. Brrrrr! I don't even like it when the day is cooler than 85 degrees. (I know you've heard me say this.) I'm a summer gal and I don't tolerate cold well. Maybe because my blood pressure is really low 90 over 60, with a low pulse). I think I'm half dead. My blood moves s o o  s l o w l y. My feet, hands, nose, ears, and face are always cold. Plus, having had some broken bones and corrective surgeries  (don't get me started on THAT sob story) the cold makes bones and joints hurt. So when it gets cold, I really have to bundle up. And skiing or playing with the kids? I look like the Michelin Man I'm so puffed from all the layers. The pool closed up is a visual smack in the face that soon I will be frozen all the time.

Next, I have to pack up my shorts, tanks, flipflops, and bathing suits. And then drag out the sweaters, long pants, gloves, hats, and thermal underwear (hey, you ever sit at Homecoming Weekend watching lousy football and our award winning, nationally ranked marching band in October or November? Baby it's freaking freezing!) And while I love fuzzy socks (oooh, nice!) I like walking around bare footed and wearing as little as legally, ethically, morally, practically, physically and parentall allowed. Fall says to me, "You'll be bundled up and you'll STILL be cold."

Naked trees. While the falling colored leaves are so pretty, once they're gone everything's gray and drab and dead-looking. The rain doesn't make a soothing patter on the leaves, calling to you to sit under a porch while it lulls you into a sense of peace, or daring you to run and splash indecently in rolling rivers in street gutters. All you see are bare, skinny branches waving with menace when the winds start to howl.

And that's another thing- the wind doesn't howl in the spring or summer, but it does in the fall and winter, when daylight dies quicker, leaving you to trudge through the eerie darkness, seeing eyes in the black of woods (even if it's only on the side of your driveway). The wind sends prickles of cold up your sleeves, in your nose, through your jeans (and yet another practical reason not to wear those STUPID jeans that cost you a fortune but are all chewed and ripped up. Duh.) A summer breeze of delight has turned cruel and insidious, lurking in bare woods, circling the house, waiting to attack.

The deathly silence. Where is the symphony of crickets? It's replaced by the hoot of a mournful owl, giving last rites to some poor creature. All sounds of life have been sequestered deep underground, or have flown away till the Earth changes its attitude and comes round again for spring. In fall, the imaginings of the mind make the heart pound in our ears like bombs, terror twisting up the volume of the blood screeching through our veins; was that a cracking branch? Is someone following me? Is there an ANIMAL or MONSTER waiting to pounce? Crickets would warn me...

The death of fireflies. There is no aspect of childhood summers I adore more than fields of dark shrouded trees and grass festooned with the twinkle of fireflies gaily playing a tag of life and love. In fall, they are gone, leaving an unbroken void. The loss of light is added to the loss of warmth, color and sound.

My favorite ice cream place closes down. Sure the grocery store has lots of flavors. But not even Ben & Jerry's, or the Cold Stone Creamery can compare with Polar Cub's mega huge waffle cone of black raspberry ice cream with chocolate cookie crumbs. It's not just the ice cream, it's the experience of sitting on a picnic table, trying to catch all the drips before they land on my bare legs; it's the little chats with my sons over everything and nothing, giggling, being silly, (laughing when kids wear more than they eat), and just enjoying the moment.

Then there are the things only summer can bring: Fourth of July fireworks, the balloon festival, Classic Car night in downtown Somerville, spontaneous barbecues with our neighbors the Burgermeisters (for real) and the Orlandos, late nights and too many beers in our pool bar with friends, and beaches, amusement parks, water slides... I could just go on.

And you want me to be glad to give all that up for ugly naked trees, shivering from the cold, scratchy wool (hey, I can't afford ALL cashmere), clumpy shoes, short days and long nights, and being forced to cloister in my home?

All that just for eating hot apple pie made from crisp apples, carving goofy faces on pumpkins, feeling cashmere against my skin, having a blush on my cheeks from the wind, and enjoying bonfires in the backyard while we make s'mores with friends?

Sorry. I miss summer.