The Misadventures of Martin Hathaway

UnknownThe Misadventures of Martin Hathaway is a steampunk fantasy with wit to spare. Not only is Glen’s writing clever and fast-paced, her characters are unique and loveable. While Martin Hathaway is an endearingly brave but bumbling hero, Captain Daisy Fitzgerald McNamara is probably the most self-assured female protagonist I’ve ever encountered. And though it’s no surprise they end up together, their romance is anything but ordinary.  My favorite character, however, is Basil, Daisy’s pompous, bitingly sarcastic assistant.

Classic fantasy lovers will appreciate Glen’s nod to JRR Tolkien and Frank Baum, but her writing style and sense of humor remind me of one of my more recent favorites, Scott Meyer, the best-selling author of Off to Be the Wizard. Which means I now have another favorite author, Kathryn Clare Glen – and I can’t wait to read the second installment in her Misadventures Trilogy!

 

Inspiring Spaces

Despite lofty–well intentioned–aspirations made back in February, I’ve been more remiss about posting this year than ever. I do have an excuse, however. I few, rather large, life-changing projects fell into my lap recently, so what time I have to devote to writing has been spent working on my novel.

But today, inspired by something I saw on Pinterest, I’m taking time out to create a quickie post. Below is picture of my office… my sanctuary… my cave. The place where inspiration lives and strikes and finds it’s way, finally, onto paper.My office

Click here to see the Pinterest post which inspired me. Now tell me, where do you go for inspiration?

REMEMBER ME

The Quotable Writer, a book filled with

“Witty and wise…words from writers and others on
the craft, practice and business of writing…”

was a gift to me from my daughter.

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“What a wee part of a person’s life are his acts and his words! His real life is led in his head, and it is known to none but himself.” –Mark Twain

 

I turn to it from time to time for inspiration and recently decided to use it as a jumping off point for future posts.
As a Book Muse…of sorts. I would begin with the first topic, and explore a new one each month. It seemed like a marvelous idea, until I actually opened the book and saw the first topic: Biography.

Ugh! This isn’t going to work. What inspiration can I possibly gleam from quotes about writing biographies? I’m a sci-fi/fantasy writer. I don’t even pretend to tell the truth. So, I closed the book and set it aside. Yet, my book muse had already taken flight, her winged thoughts fluttering around my head whispering, “biography, biography…that’s the topic!” And wouldn’t you know…it is. It really is.

REMEMBER ME…

Be warned, people say, on your death-bed it’s not the hours you missed working you’ll regret, but the hours you missed spending time with your loved ones.

True…I guess.

Yet, have you ever read a biography about somebody whose greatest achievement in life was hanging out with his or her family? Biographies are not obituaries. Obituaries are filled with families. Of so and sos left behind to grieve. Everyone gets an obituary. Only people that live interesting, *significant lives have biographies written about them. Which makes me wonder… am I living my life in a way I would find significant and interesting?

Would my life inspire me?

I don’t care what anyone else thinks, but I’d like to think that if I ever had the chance to read my own biography, I’d be pleased with how I’d spent each day. That I’d accomplished certain goals. Not Einsteinian sized goals—just MY goals.

It’s definitely not the same as living every day as if it was your last. Heck, if this was my last day on Earth, hanging out with friends and family would be the only thing I’d care about. But it’s not my last day…at least I hope not.

–Excuse me while I call my mom and tell her I love her.

(Okay, I’m back.)

Maybe it’s as simple as asking: Am I living my life the way I want to live it? Or, from my author point of view: Am I writing my own story?

Anyway… it’s something to think about.

*Biographies about celebrities (i.e. people that live interesting, insignificant lives) are purely gossip and simply don’t count.

 

TIME TO REGENERATE

BunnytypingYou don’t need to say it. I know—my blog looks different. One day it was all bluish and purpley, lots of stars and planets, and now it’s all pinkish and gray speckles.

Yet the bunnies remain the same. The bunnies will always remain…

So what’s up? Well, as Reed Smoot, a senator from Utah once said:

“I have nothing to say.”

Gotta love that quote! It pretty much sums up my attitude toward blogging for all of 2014. But it’s a new year and a new—okay, not a new me. Which brings me to another quote, from another famous person:

“Don’t reinvent the wheel, just realign it.”
–Anthony J. D’Angelo

Exactly what I intend to do.  I still don’t have a lot to say…but I intend to find it. To realign

“to change one’s position or attitude with regard to…”

—rather than totally reinvent myself. Because I realized that since I began blogging back in 2011 (under the blog name, Searching4Meaning) my goal has remained the same: to post on a regular basis. What’s changed, however, is my motivation.

2011
(Searching4Meaning.com)
Motivation: Explore thoughts, questions and beliefs about the world around me.

Middle to End of 2012
(ScifiWriterMom.com/LorijoMetz.com)
Motivation: Share my writer’s journey. Review YA books

2015
(LjMetz.com)
Motivation: Explore thoughts, questions and beliefs
as they concern me, Lj Metz, the writer.

To put it in Dr. Who terms: Same Blogger (same bunnies) only different.upsidedownbunny

“Legs! I’ve still got legs! Good. Arms. Hands.
Oo! Fingers. Lots of fingers. Ears. Yes. Eyes two. Nose.
And I’ve had worse. Chin. Blimey. Hair. I’m a girl.
No no. I’m not a girl. And still not ginger. Something important!
I’m- I’m- crashing! Ha ha! Geronimo!”
—Dr. Who, “The End of Time” (Part Two)

Regeneration complete. See you next time.

100 Days, What Will You Do With Them?

An acquaintance of mine recently took up the challenge to blog every day for the next 100 days. After reading her post announcing this commitment, I have to admit to having rolled my eyes and muttered, “we shall see.”

We shall see…

I imagined her posting regularly for several days, maybe a week, maybe two, and then reality would set in. This is work. This is boring. I have nothing to say. 100 days in a row, good grief, what was I thinking… and the posts would begin to taper off. A post here, a reposting there, and finally, missing entire months at a time.

I have better things to do! I imagined her thinking.

Honestly, who is so interesting as to have something worthwhile to share on a daily basis?

Not me

Maxine Attong

Maxine Attong – You Go Girl!

Yet, it is day 45 and this woman is not only going strong, but her posts have gotten better. More interesting. I open my email each morning wondering what new adventure or personal insight Maxine will share with me today.

The truth is—and of course, I should have realized this—Maxine, like any good writer, is simply building her writing muscles. It’s just like any exercise, do it every day and you can’t help but become better.

Now, at Maxine’s muscled fingertips, even a slow day becomes something interesting to write about. A post curious minds, such as mine, want to read.

So, here’s something to think about. What could you accomplish if you held yourself accountable for doing it 100 days in a row. Imagine, you might…

  • Finish reading that stack of books on your bedside table
  • Learn a new language
  • Build a six-pack
  • Paint your house
  • Or, who knows, write a novel

What will you do with your next 100 days?

 

Writers are fat

Necessary, Though Not Necessarily, Writing Apps

One thing I know about writing—it’s fattening. Fattening, unhealthy, and horrible for your back…not to mention your knees, your hands and your neck. Writers are fatI should have chosen a healthier career, such as tightrope walking or race car driving. Unfortunately, I suck at heights and you have only to look at the back of my car to see that…well, I should stick to writing.

Which is why I absolutely love the two apps I’m about to tell you about. Apps, without which, my butt would be as wide as Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (hardcover edition, page to page, all the way to the moon). Most important, my inspiration would be lost to aches and pains.

Time out Free

Time Out Free

Time Out Free , by Dejal Systems, LLC, is a simple app that encourages computer uses to take regular breaks. As they say,

“The human body isn’t built to sit in one position for endless hours, gripping a mouse or typing on the keyboard.”

While you could achieve the same effect by setting an alarm, Time Out Free gets in your face by popping up on your screen and, based on your preset preferences, blocking your ability to work for a period of time. Yes, you can still push a little button to skip the breaks, but the in-your-face element is a good reminder to get up and stretch. Plus, you can program in micro breaks (i.e. 15 seconds stretch reminders). (Click HERE to check out similar apps for PCs)

yoga studio

Yoga Studio

Yoga Studio, by Modern Lotus, is the answer (well, my answer) of what to do while you take that break. Yoga not only makes you feel better and keeps you feeling that way, but more important, it helps you look good (i.e. Keeps your writer’s butt in check). And we all know…

“It’s better to look good, than to feel good.”

(I guess I should add, please check with your doctor before trying yoga.)

Anywho, I’ve check out tons (Okay, several) yoga apps, and Yoga Studio is by far my Yoga studio
favorite. It offers three levels, a variety of lesson lengths and most important, the instructions flow well and are crystal clear. Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced student, add Yoga Studio to your iPad and enjoy a healthy, feel good 15 minute (or 30 or 60 minute) break. (Click HERE to check out a similar app for Android users)

What Apps do you use to keep you healthy, moving and motivated? 

 

 

undercover-reading

HOW DO YOU JUDGE A BOOK?

PoisonwoodBibleFront

I like the original cover much better

By its cover? Nix that. Now that I read most novels on my iPad, I rarely look at a book’s cover. And now that we’ve gotten that cliché out-of-the-way… I want to know, I really do want to know…

How do you judge a book?

I started thinking about this question last night/early this morning (3 a.m. to be precise). Propped up against my pillows, iPad perched in front of me, I couldn’t stop reading the chick lit novel I had downloaded based on a review in my Yoga Journal. (That’s right, Yoga Journal. Hey, I’ve even gotten some great literary tips from my car mechanic. In addition to oil change coupons, he includes a book review section in his monthly newsletter.) Anyway, I didn’t have one or two chapters left to read, I had more like six or seven. And I finished them. I couldn’t stop turning the pages…

Swiping the pages? The screen. Whatever!

undercover-reading

Pre-tablet late night reading

As I was saying, I finished the book. I closed my kindle app, clicked the home button and thought, that definitely wasn’t what I’d call a well-written book. Not even close. You name it… annoying characters, with lots of money and very little common sense. Oh, and everyone had a great body. Give me a break! Plus, there were typos. Yet, I couldn’t put it down. I just couldn’t unplug.

So, was it a success?

As a writer, I would love it if someone told me they’d been up reading my book at 3 a.m. Swipe, swipe… unable to turn off their screen. Yet, also as a writer, it bothers me how compelled I was to keep reading a book that was so far from stellar, so downright provincial, and frankly, tabloidish at best. (Tabloidish: literature that is in many ways comparable to a train wreck. i.e. you can’t look away.)

You might wonder why I bother worrying about this. It was just a book, right? Enjoy!

I worry because of all those other books. Those well-written books…books that have won major awards and high praise for literary critics…the ones that I haven’t been able to finish. The truth is, beautiful prose doesn’t always equal compelling story.

I’m not saying all stories that win awards are boring. Far from it. (Case in point, Neil 9780060530945_custom-02321c1f1acdeccf98eb4690139aac48afa02423-s6-c30Gaiman’s Newbury award-winning children’s novel, The Graveyard Book. An awesome read. Or, The Poisonwood Bible, written by Barbara Kingsolver and nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Stellar in every way—except the ending, I didn’t care for that.) Nor am I suggesting that all tabloidish-type stories, such as the one that kept me up last night, should win awards.

Breathe, a novel

Yes, this might be the book I’m talking about.

What am I saying?

Right. Perhaps, all I’m saying is that a well-written story should be defined not simply by the words on the page, but by the intent of the author and how much that translates into the enjoyment or engagement it produces in the reader.

Given that definition, the book that kept me up last night was…good. Not great. But pretty darn good. And if the author’s intent was to entertain, then I’d have to say it was well-written.

Time to take a nap!

 

Colosseum

Caffeine Moments: A Coffee Travelog

Recently, I realized that some of my most memorable moments have centered around coffee (coffee, that is, in one of its many forms…i.e. black, w/cream, espresso, cappuccino, latte, and even instant). Coffee in AustriaIt’s been more than thirty years, but I can still imagine the smooth, rich, creamy flavor of the cups of coffee with cream  I enjoyed while studying abroad in Austria. To this day, Austrian coffee remains the gold standard by which I judge all other cups of coffee.

Hofbrauhaus in MunchIn that same study abroad period, I visited Germany and am proud to recall ordering coffee (not beer) at the Hofbräuhaus in Münch. (I also remember dancing on tables and a few other decisions that had little to do with coffee.)

espresso makerPerhaps one of my fondest memories occurred while traveling from Naples to Rome, when a young and (obviously) handsome Italian boy produced an espresso maker from his backpack and proceeded to make me a steaming cup of espresso right there on the train. (I was so impressed that he carried an espresso maker in his backpack!)

Colosseum1The pinnacle of my coffee experience was in Rome where, if memory serves, after touring the Colosseum I was delighted to find an espresso stand tucked away in one of its antiquated nooks. I don’t remember the taste of the espresso, but the view of the Colosseum while holding a demitasse full of espresso will be forever seared in my memory.

McDonalds-Restaurants-Around-the-World35My next adventure with coffee occurred approximately a decade later while visiting Sydney, Australia. This was in the years before cappuccino  had became a regular item on every McDonald’s menu. So, I was surprised, intrigued—and considering my dislike of fast food in general—appalled to see cappuccinos and lattes on the McDonald’s menu in the heart of Sydney.  I will admit, however, despite the unappealing smell of coffee and fries, I ordered one. (My first and last McDonald’s cappuccino.)

DSC01864Another coffee experience, and one I’m not terribly proud of, involved a frozen latte which I purchased from a Starbucks located right in the center of the Forbidden City in Beijing. I know, I know…it is the height of commercialism to put a Starbucks in the Forbidden City, but if you only knew how much I was sweating and how HUGE the Forbidden City is and how difficult it is to get a good cup of coffee in China…I really did enjoy that frozen latte. (If makes you feel  better, I believe Starbucks is now “forbidden” in the Forbidden City.)

images

Asian palm civet

Then there was that single cup of Kopi Luwak coffee my husband and I shared while on vacation in Big Sur California. Why one cup, you ask? Well, because Kopi Luwak coffee is supposedly the world’s best coffee, but more important, it costs $50 a cup!  According to Wikipedia: Kopi luwak or civet coffee, refers to the beans of coffee berries once they have been eaten and digested by the Asian palm civet.”   Yep, we drank coffee made from beans pooped out of an Asian Palm Civet (a creature that looks something between a cat and a monkey). I have to admit, it was wonderful!

My final coffee moment (though surely not my last coffee experience in this lifetime) is the memory I’ll take with me from my current trip to Thailand, where on a rafting trip in Khao Lak, my husband and I enjoyed a steaming cup of instant coffee served in a bamboo mug. What’s more, I have a video to remind me of it. Cheers!

Bangkok

Step Away From Your Computer!

Imagination is fine, but it needs fuel to survive, to grow–to really set it on fire.  What is that fuel? Life–the big LIFE–yes, really experiencing it. And to do that, sometimes you’ve just got to Step Away From Your Computer.

Whether it’s a visit to your local coffee shop to catch up on world news via some of your not so always neutral minded chums. Or, whether you hop on a plane and travel half way around the world to visit a temple or two, and then find yourself lost in the back alleys of a foreign city. Think of it this way…a fairy is only a plain old Disney fairy until you jump on a train, travel down to the city and start imagining what that same fairy would be like living among skyscrapers and taxis.

Anyway, as I enter what I consider the second part of my novel, I’ve been lucky to do just that–hop on a plane and end up half way around the world in Thailand. While I won’t be spending much time writing, there will be plenty of adventures and lots of living refueling going on.  Below are some pictures from Day 2 in Bangkok.