The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion

rosie effect♦♦♦ I was pretty excited to win this book in a GoodReads contest, not just because I got a free book, but because I really was ready to read the second book. The first book, The Rosie Project, I totally adored. I couldn’t wait to read this one, but for some reason I just kept putting it off for other things. When it was delivered though, I dove right in. I’m not sure exactly what happened or why I just wasn’t thrilled with the sequel. It was still a good book, and there were some poignant moments, but it did’t have quite the same appeal. It seemed more contrived. I wonder if the it was because the first book was so refreshing and surprising in so many ways, and this one was nothing new? What I do love about these books are the characters.

Gun Street Girl by Adrian McKinty

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ McKinty does it again. This series is never disappointing! Again and again, I’m drawn right back to the streets of Belfast and sucked into the world in which my husband grew up. I enjoy that we listen to these books via Audible together so I can stop them occasionally and ask questions like, “No way! Did that kind of stuff really happen?” I love the Sean Duffy character who is really a good heart, who went into the police force for all the right reasons, but is so (redeemingly) human. Smart, tough, desperate for the truth… lonely. Real. Flawed. It’s also interesting that this is recent historical fiction and events that happen in the book, are often fictionalized versions of people and places and events that took place during The Troubles. This series is definitely worth a read. Start with  The Cold, Cold Ground. Let me know what you think. The Audible versions of these books are great. They’re narrated by Gerard Doyle. Excellent narration with the perfect accents!

Dead Eye by Mark Greaney

Dead Eye♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ The latest in the Gray Man series does not disappoint. I haven’t really been reading this year, which I hate, but there are only so many hours in the day. I’ve chosen other things this year. . . bucket list things, so a decent trade. However, my husband and I started this one just before we went on vacation. He loves the action and the gratuitous violence. I enjoy the action (but probably not the violence as much) and the story line. I thoroughly wallow in the depth of imagination and the art of story telling. Greaney’s Gray Man series, about an American (former CIA) assassin is well written. Every time I think that we’ve heard all there is, another awesome book comes out with a new twist and a story that keeps you on the edge of your seat. I say, “Just keep writing them Mark! My family will keep listening!”

1,000 Tweets and Tweeting

Twitter didn’t not sing to me in the beginning. My husband, a tech nerd-not-nerd was on Twitter and he’s a man of few words for the world; he’s more of a face to face type definitely not a broadcaster type. His family back in Ireland knows what he’s up to only because I never shut up, primarily on Facebook. I post where we are, what we’re doing and muse about ridiculous things. I’m guilty as a “broadcaster” type, but do it mostly for my own amusement and sanity. I know that if people don’t wanna hear it, they can un-follow me and I’m none the wiser, and definitely not insulted. My brain moves fast. There’s a lot going on up there. I LOVE interaction and fun is fun. I like to laugh. I like to make others laugh. I enjoy people’s wit and occasional wisdom even. But Twitter? Really? I didn’t get it.

Maybe it was the wimpy 140 characters that just didn’t appeal. I mean, what the hell can you say in so few letters? So, when I first started looking over the hub’s shoulder, or hearing what he thought was interesting from his feed, it got a bit more intriguing. Granted, we like a bunch of the same things like soccer, rugby, news, the outdoors, adventures, hiking, mountain biking.. okay you get the picture, so I was being slowly sucked in by his constant flow of interesting news. So, I tried it a few times. Hashtags? What? Why?

Well, and here I am 1001 tweets later. I’m hooked. I’ve learned a lot. I even really enjoy Twitter Chats. (Yes, another thing I thought was just dumb in the beginning) I don’t have time to get involved in many, but here are the ones I’ve found interesting:

#BlogElevated – Bloggers chatting about technology and blog stuff, Tuesday nights 9-10 CST.

#ATQA – Adventure Travel Q&A, Wednesdays 2PM Pacific Time.

#trailtime – I believe it has something to do with Sierra Trading Post, but it’s a bunch of adventurous outdoorsy people talking about being outside and adventuring, and happens Thursdays 11AM MDT.

They’re fun and extremely fast paced. I learn things and I get to interact with people I will never meet. I get to peek inside their worlds for a moment and learn what they know. There’s no time to think. Tweets are flying, people are funny, knowledgeable and interesting! What’s not to like? Why did I wait so long?

Twitter has been a surprise for me. I love social media but truly did not expect to enjoy this one. Like the hubs, Twitter is my first source for news. I get to decide if I follow a story all the way through and click the link for the full story. Suffice it to say if it has anything to do with reality shows, I’m not interested and I don’t have to waste my time. It’s so glorious to pick what I want to read about without wasting time! It’s 140 characters and in this case, it’s a great thing. Now I get it! I follow a lot of folks. If they are lame, I unfollow quickly. I don’t like spammy and I don’t like people who do nothing but quote other people. I wanna hear what people have to say for themselves. Entertain me! Educate me! Interact with me. Retweet me for gosh sakes. #tweeps

Have any cool Twitter chats I should look out for? Come join me sometime on the ones above! @adverbcreative

Periscope Up Or Down?

Are you an “early adapter” to new technologies? As an aficionado and habitual student and participant of social media, I tend to want to jump at the chance to try new platforms, ideas and mediums. That being said, sometimes I, quite frankly, don’t have the time or energy to figure it all out. Does that stop me? Not always, though sometimes in retrospect I wish I’d listened to that wee voice saying, “Really? You have no idea what you’re doing. Stop. Just stop.” It’s a funny, wise voice actually, but boring as hell.

So, Periscope. I’d heard of it before, but since I’m not a video fan, I shrugged it off. The other night I joined the one Twitter Chat that I’m most consistent with, Blog Elevated. (#blogelevated). The chat happens Tuesday nights from 9-10 PM CST, and we discuss blogging and social media mostly. I really enjoy it in a nerdy sort of way. The topic was Periscope and I thought I’d sit back and log off early. Well, that didn’t happen, I attended the after party and watched a few live streaming chats with people. So, if you’re not familiar with the app, it’s really just another live streaming app. There are several out there including Meerkat that was all the rage during SXSW. The difference is that Periscope is owned by Twitter. (I think I have that right). So, when you use it, you have the option to push a Tweet out there to all your followers that notifies them automatically that you’re using Periscope live.

Here's the auto-tweet that goes out to your followers as soon as you start to broadcast

Here’s the auto-tweet that goes out to your followers as soon as you start to broadcast

People laugh when I say I’m a bit shy. I am and I’m not. Face to face, I’m definitely not shy. On camera though, it’s a completely different story. All of the sudden I’m tongue tied, and very self conscious. I don’t know how actors do it! So, I stepped out of my comfort zone and tried it! It’s actually fun if I’m not just sitting there talking as a talking head. A lot of my “friends” on the Blog Elevated chat tend to sit and just stream visuals of themselves sitting at their computers talking about… whatever. Aaack, I’m not comfortable with that. No thank you. For me, it’s actually kind of fun as long as I’ve got the camera facing out. THAT to me is interesting. I want to see wee glimpses of people’s lives. I don’t want to hear folks chat about how to comb the cat so it doesn’t shed buckets on the furniture. I want to see what others see.

My few Periscopes (is that what we’re supposed to call them?) so far have been live streaming parts of my friends’ show (so talented, and sweet). They’re called Beat Root and she’s from Northern Ireland and he’s from Kent, England. They’re an adorable couple with an amazing sound. (Please go check them out because you will thank me.) I’ve streamed a bit of a walk the other morning on an old abandoned golf course and the view of rain and hummingbirds from my back porch swing. My first try was hilarious. I was trying to get the camera to face me and when it did and I appeared on my screen it startled me enough that I jumped. Yep, I’m amazing.

I’ve always been one with a big imagination and penchant for day dreaming. I always imagine what’s going on in people’s houses, what they look like inside (the houses, I mean…) and who lives there. I can hear live music and want to stop and soak up the sights and sounds, and people watch. I love the idea of a window into someone else’s world who I will never meet. It’s kind of a blog (I love it when people post pictures from their runs or walks… I get to see what they see everyday… cool!), live streaming. I can see that this could have HUGE implications when breaking news is happening. It turns all of us into journalists. We tend to complain about the media being biased and I’m not saying people will be, but to see things unfold from the ground… that’s interesting.

It is interactive too. People who are watching your stream can type in a message. You see it pop up and can address it with your live stream. You have to do it verbally, of course, because you’re streaming! If folks like what you’re doing, they can tap the screens on their phones and it produces hearts which you see float up the side of your feed. Hearts are good, and it’s immediate validation. I’ve been told there are trolls, there always are, whose only purpose is to sour your feed with crap remarks. You can tap them as soon as they come up and start posting, you tap and block. Done. Currently, the app is only available for iPhone, I think. You know how quickly things change, it’s just a matter of time. The app on the phone is great, but if you’re using Twitter on your computer, you can watch videos and interact with them from your computer. I just don’t think you can broadcast. Another interesting feature is that you can watch past streams if you follow someone. So, for a limited amount of time, your streams are available. Then, they’re gone. So, you can check some of mine out to see if they’re still up.

If you’re interested in following me (and giving me floating hearts) as I learn this app, please follow me at @adverbcreative on twitter. I try to follow back. I’d like to know if you’re using Periscope. What do you like about it, what do you NOT like about it? Any tips, tricks or hints? And just in the spirit of the window into a life, here’s a photo of the walk this morning. Enjoy.


On Writing Bios

Bio Writing, I'm Writing Your Story in 500 Words or Less

Bio Writing, I’m Writing Your Story in 500 Words or Less

Recently, I was asked to write a few professional bios for a local real estate broker. He’s got new agents coming on board and they’re doing some pretty awesome marketing pieces for each one of them. One piece of that puzzle is a professional bio. So here I am, knee deep in bios. Sounds like fun, huh? Like the kind of fun you might have slogging through a bog with holey wellies. It just doesn’t seem too glamorous, really. Well, that’s what I thought, but it has surprised me, delightfully enough.

It helps quite a bit that I’m naturally nosy. No, make that, I’m naturally inquisitive. Everyone has a story, and I love pulling those little nuggets out of people. Most folks don’t realize how interesting their lives really are. It’s fascinating to me to learn that someone’s dad was friends with Stevie Ray Vaughan, or that they once lived in a tee-pee, but ran the debutante circuit from Houston to New York. Or, that someone has three advanced degrees from a foreign university, or invented a product, or has recorded an album. These things, all so different from my own story, are so cool. These amazing things you wouldn’t know by looking. This is where I wanted my journalism degree to go. I love the human part of news, the feature writing part, the stories. I didn’t want to write about city hall, or politics or violence, so I opted out of that life. People’s stories are so like fiction when they’re not yours. It’s like hearing things your imagination just wouldn’t come up with on its own. For real! And someone is living that life.

Oh, and it’s stressful! I didn’t think of it this way, but holy macaroons, I get so nervous when I send that bio over. In fact, I have to force myself to hit the send button. Yes, I’ve procrastinated because I was scared. I didn’t know it would be so hard to write about someone and then send it to them directly. If I were writing a feature piece on someone for a magazine, it would be much easier. Much. Here, I’m writing a feature piece, and only get 500 words to write the interesting bits. These bits that I write might make someone want to hire them for, likely, the biggest transaction of their lives, or not. Gulp. There’s no doubt that I enjoy it, but wow. I sweat buckets over what to include, and all of the interesting things that have to drop out. I’ve heard from them that they’re really nervous to read it. They’re wondering how I perceived them and what things from our interview I chose to include. So, it’s awkward all around.

Awkward. Yep, I just didn’t anticipate that feeling, but it is, a bit. Luckily, I’m the kind of person who gets past “awkward” moments pretty quickly. I’m not much of a judger, and I think people know it. I do genuinely find their stories interesting, and have a knack for giving their stories life on paper that represent their personalities pretty well. That’s the best part. One client wrote back,

“I love it! Even I want to work with me!”

Rewarding. I love it when people see themselves from the outside. They get to see how interesting they are. They get to see that they’ve got a great story! Yes, the rewarding part. That was the biggest surprise of all!

Love These Laugh Lines: Rockin’ The Wrinkles

Rockin' The Wrinkles, Baby!

Rockin’ The Wrinkles, Baby!

Last month, a fellow blogger asked for submissions for her February series on love. I loved the idea. When I started thinking about it, I decided that I love everything, it seems. I love hiking, biking, dogs, my family, traveling, talking, singing, writing, eating, drinking and well, there’s just no way to choose. The word is definitely over-used, but that was not the question. What would I write about? The answer came in the form of a selfie. I know, right? Gack.

My dear, and multi-talented friend Kara, sent me an amazingly gorgeous, GREEN (I love green too) hand-knitted (just for me!) neck warmer! In utter delight, I slipped it on and modeled it for a picture so I could text it to her immediately. I loved it! When I looked at the photo, I thought, “I must really laugh a lot!” and BOOM! There it was. I love those laugh lines! Those are some rockin’ wrinkles. Why would I ever try to hide that billboard to the world that proclaims that I love to laugh?

Thus, my piece on “Lovin’ My Laugh Lines” was born and thrust into the ether. Please go visit Musings By The Bay and check it out. I hope it makes you look in the mirror and laugh!

All The Light We Cannot See

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ I expected to LOVE this book. I obviously loved it with a four star rating, but it wasn’t the best book of all time to me. I wonder if I’d read the print version, if I’d have loved it even more? Seems like I’ve read a lot of WWII books lately and the difference was that this one was told from a German point of view, and a French one. I loved that. There wasn’t much about the Holocaust, but the story was still a very human one. It definitely didn’t end the way I had longed for it to, but it was so much more realistic. This was not a fairy tale. Not really. A good story though, heartbreaking at times, buoyant at times too. I love books that are like real life. Brutal, honest and, well, you do the best with what you’re dealt. Misery, love, defeat, hate, ugliness and beauty, just like life. Yes. A definite read.