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October’s Audio books and NaNoWriMo

So I was having a Twitter conversation with Lauren DeStefano and she mentioned that one of her characters in her Internment Chronicles books, has a brother who is blind. She didn’t give me many details about him and I decided I needed to read those books. So what does Lauren DeStefano do? Offers to mail me her audio book copy of the book! Of course I said no. Wait what? No of course I didn’t say no, in fact I asked her to sign the cover of the audio book. I’ve often wondered what I would do if I had the chance to go to a book signing. Ask the author to sign my iPhone? She told me the book was wrapped in black tissue paper to protect it. She wanted to make sure I knew it was just black tissue paper and I wasn’t missing any designs. I wondered why an audio book would need to be protected but whatevs.

So maybe a week later, I got an envelope with not one, but two audio books inside! Grinning, I opened the envelope and took out the books. The CD booklet didn’t feel smooth as I took off the tissue paper. Hmmm.

Lauren DeStefano signed the cases with puff paint!

I won’t lie. A lump formed in my throat. She thought of everything!

In other news, I’m officially doing National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this year. The novel writing finally begins Sunday!(Sunday Sunday Sunday!) The story’s working title is ‘Vivian and the King’. Months ago my cat, Timmy, inspired an idea and I began brainstorming. I fell in love pretty quickly and so decided I would develop the story for NanOWriMo and do it for realsies this year. When I first heard about it in 2010, it was already mid November so I didn’t sign up or anything, just decided to see how much I could write before November ended. a story was developed, characters created, chapters written. That novel, with working title ‘Yellow’, has been a practice novel for me over the years ever since. I still plan to finish the first draft one day.

My goal is to finish ‘Vivian and the King’ and then revise it, polish it, begin querying agents with it. I’ve been marinating on this idea ever since Timmy inspired it. I have pages of notes, an outline, tons of bookmarks on ancient Egytp and finally named the cat in the novel. I am so ready to go! I even went and met local writers. In person. People, in person. Wow.

So I won’t be doing NaBloPoMo this year for the first time since 2009, which is kind of bitter sweet since it’s nice to have those daily posts from Novembers of years past. But, this is my dream we’re talking about here, and my dream is to be a published author, so I think I can let go of NaBloPoMo this year. Who knows when I’ll post here in December with November’s book post. I work on these posts all through the month and I’ll be just slightly busy in November. I’ll also be working on my second review for Disability in Kid Lit. I’ll be getting my review copy soon. busy bee! I’m kind of ridiculously happy lately!

Oh, forgot to mention that the character of Vivian was inspired by my friend’s daughter, who I get to hang out with for Halloween. I’m super psyched about the opportunity to talk to her about some things that will feature in the novel. Love my life right now! *knock on wood*

*Ten books this month*

88. “The Traveler” (The fourth Realm book 1) by John Twelve Hawks – narrated by Scott Brick

Finished October 31

A masterfully written novel about a group of people who call themselves harlequins who protect people called travelers who can bounce around between dimensions, pursued by people who want to tap the traveling power and link it with a super computer in order to better control the human race, narrated by Scott Brick? Yes please. I’ll even forgive Mr. Brick for pronouncing saguaro sag-war-o.

Oh man, what an amazing book. Twelve Hawks can write, I mean he can freaking write. Wow. I feel like i’m in a master class with this series. the characters are all three dimensional and believable. The action? wow. I’ve found that long action scenes in novels tend to let my mind wander. Not in ‘Traveler’. I imagined every punch, every swerve of a vehicle, every sword slash.

There’s this community of people who go live off the grid, and it’s eerily similar to the town I’ve invented for Yellow, except they definitely don’t live off the grid haha. I can’t help but smile when I see something similar to something I’ve invented, in published novels. That used to make me panic, the thought that something has already been done. but now I know to write it anyway. Only I can tell the story in my head, and everything has already been done. It’s a fact.

I definitely recommend this series. What a book. Wow. Thanks Ricardo!

Big Brother is watching and he’s armed with a quantum computer. *Shiver*

@John12Hawks

87. “Afterworlds” by Scott Westerfeld narrated by Sheetal Sheth and Heather Lind

Finished October 28

I read this book again in preparation for NaNoWriMo. The book came out this time last year and I read it then, but there’s no book post from that first reading. I read it back-to-back twice last year, its’ that good.

Darcy Patel participates in NaNoWriMo while she’s a senior in high school. “Afterworlds” opens describing how Darcy wrote to (queried) an agent, got signed and got a book deal. Lucky girl! She decides to move to New York city to be near publishing while she does rewrites on her book and begins work on the second novel of her two book deal. We follow Darcy on her journey as she falls in love, works on her career and eats noodles-lots and lots of noodles. I highly recommend having Ramen on hand.

Every other chapter is Darcy’s novel, “Afterworlds” We get to read what has become Darcey’s polished novel, watching as the two stories parallel one another. In Darcey’s ‘Afterworlds’, Lizzie Scofield plays dead to survive a terrorist attack and finds that she can travel to the flip side, where ghosts live. She meets a death god and a child ghost who’s been haunting Lizzie’s mother since she was herself a child. Darcey weaves a tale about Lizzie’s adjustment to life as a new psycho pomp, spirit guide, reaper. shine.

I loved this book the first two times I read it and even more now that I know about the publishing process in greater detail. If I wasn’t excited about my baby novel being born on Sunday before, you can bet i am now. I can’t wait!

@ScottWesterfeld

86. “Burning Kingdoms” (Internment Chronicles book 2) by Lauren DeStefano – narrated by Laura Knight Keating

finished October 26

For book one, skip to the next heading.

What a culture shock book two is! first, let me say that I think book two is cursed. None of the tracks on the CD were labeled so when I imported them and used Audio Book Binder on them, the tracks scrambled. Of course I didn’t notice this until I started reading, at night, all snuggled in bed. It took an entire day the next day to copy the tracks again and make sure they were all labeled properly. Cursed I tell you. Oh! See I knew there was something else that caused me to think the book is cursed. With about two hours to go one night, the book just stopped playing. I could tell the iPad was still on since I could see the light from it. It was plugged in. It wouldn’t speak. No amount of restarting it worked. Siri wouldn’t even talk. the next day, I plugged it into iTunes and it’s like yeah, this iPad has a problem. Maybe updating it will fix it, or else you’ll need to restore. Luckily the update fixed it so maybe the book isn’t totally cursed.

I don’t want to say too much about this second book since really saying anything will spoil the ending of the first one, as I discovered when I accidentally read the first sentence of the publisher’s summary at Audible. I’ll just say I didn’t like it as much as I did the first one. We get to know one of the characters better, which is nice. This book just sort of felt like a place holder between books one and three. I have high hopes for book three, though. It’s out next year. tick tock.

@LaurenDeStefano

85.“Perfect Ruin” (Internment Chronicles book 1) by Lauren Destefano – narrated by Laura Knight Keating

Finished October 22

What an interesting concept. Internment is a floating city, ripped from the Earth as a punishment. I totally imagined Dark city, the movie. The city is ruled by a king, and regulations are strict. Births are limited and planned, and babies are betrothed at birth. given glass betrothal bands, children wear them around the neck until the ring fits on the finger. At the time of the couple’s wedding, the glass is filled with the blood of their partner. Angelina and Billy bob much? The edge of Internment is surrounded by a fence and gale force winds, and if Internment’s residents get too close, they risk going insane. Jump off the edge, and one will be hurled back over and left with physical damage.

Morgan Stockhour’s brother Lex, is one of the jumpers, and was blinded as a result. He has an interesting contraption with which he dictates novels. He is completely dependent on his family, which shows what it might be like to lose one’s sight in a dystopian setting. Lex can no longer remember what shapes look like and he’s only been blind for three years. Not quite accurate, but hey, maybe the jumping attempt left his brain a bit addled too. Seriously though, I did roll my eyes a bit at some of Lex’s life, like how he constantly knocks over his wife’s vases of flowers. Is he just incapable of adjusting to life with blindness? Though, I do knock my own stuff over from time to time…

Lex is a side character. The main story is the brutal murder of a teenaged girl and her betrothed subsequent arrest for it. Morgan starts to understand that her life on Internment is much more complicated than she thought, and for the first time in her life, she begins to feel fear. She starts to understand why lex was so curious about the edge. what might life be like on the ground?

Once this book had its hooks in, it didn’t let go. I had to know what would happen next. It’s a quiet story. I don’t know how else to describe it. the city of Internment is so slow and sleepy but there’s this underlying tension that builds to a plummeting conclusion.

I recommend if you’re a fan of YA dystopia. It was definitely and entertaining read. Laura Knight Keating does a nice job, though Lauren DeStefano did tell me that the character name of Basil is pronounced like the spice. the narrator, and my screen reader, pronounce it differently, like the Greek name.

84. “Zeroes” by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan and Deborah Biancotti – narrated by Amber Benson

Finished October 20

Note I took just after starting:I had no idea there was a blind character in this book until a couple days ago, when Scott Westerfeld retweeted a tweet about it. I cringed inside, wondering how badly the authors were going to screw up blind. But, I just met the blind character and so far, aside from the bright dress she’s wearing for visibility, she’s spot on. I’m guessing the dress is the product of an overprotective parent. end note.

Actually, after reading some more, her bright dresses are explained. It’s part of her power. You see, all the teens in “Zeroes” have a power. they aren’t quite super heroes; they call themselves Zeroes.

Flicker is the blind girl but her power isn’t enhanced by her blindness. There’s a lot of complaints in the disability in literature crowd about disabilities being cured in fiction, or turning into a power. Now I understand why my friend Chupa hated the movie Powder so much. Flicker’s power is freaking awesome and I want it and I want to be her for Halloween. Except she uses a white cane and not a guide dog. sometimes she doesn’t even need her mobility tool, but you have to read the book to find out why. It’s so freaking cool! And Westerfeld and his writing partners nailed the blind aspect of the character. I talked with him on Twitter about it, and he said they spoke with a blind teenager. See? That’s how you write diversity. Anyway.

Other characters in the novel are Crash, who crashes electronics, Mob, who effects crowds, Scam, who has an inner voice that is all knowing and can take control of a situation with his charm, Anonymous, who literally hides in plain sight and I can’t remember the last one’s code name. The others called him Fearless Leader because he was the leader of the Zeroes. he also annoyed me for most of the book so maybe that’s why I can’t remember his code name.

Anyway, I freaking loved this book! It’s such a fun twist on superheroes. No one can fly or shoot webs from their wrist or wait, what exactly does Batman do? Fight evil with his money? I’m not usually a big superhero fan. Zeroes though? Hell yeah. And there’s two more books coming!

The narrator was incredible. She voiced each character in awesome, unique ways. She brought the story to life. the male characters weren’t even annoying, as they often are when voiced by women.

@ScottWesterfeld
@deborah_b
@margolanagan

83. “Apex” (Nexus book 3) by Ramez Naam – narrated by Stephanie Canon

Finished October 17

when is this book going to end OMG make it stop. last night I sped up the speech rate and it helped a little bit with the terrible narrating, and should make the end of the book come faster. The narrating, oh holy hell it’s bad. It’s not terrible until she mispronounces a word or has to read a Chinese character. They really should have gotten the actress who played Mrs. Swan in Mad TV to read this book. I new I should have taken note of the word Canon mispronounced so egregiously last night. Damn what was it. I think I have about six hours left. Make it stop, just make it stop. Why am I not giving up on this book? I guess I care about a few of the characters enough to keep going.

Last night I was thinking about this post in progress as I listened to the book. I follow a lot of writerly accounts on twitter and one of them posted an article about things not to do in your prose. I won’t mention one of the things mentioned in that article here, because Naam does it all the time in this book and it’s so distracting to me because it’s something I never would have thought of until a writerly type pointed it out and now I can’t stop analyzing it every time Naam does it, which is a lot. I’m guessing that might be part of why I can’t just get immersed in the story and ignore the bad narrating. If a writerly type happens to read this post, did my run-on just drive you nuts? I’m a fan of those.

Finally finished it last night. There was so much filler, unnecessary filler. We’re taken from our main characters too much, over to this side story in China with characters that came out of nowhere in this book and who are Chinese so we get treated to Canon’s awful Chinese accent. When we would finally get back to the main characters, I’d start to get in to the story again, only to be ripped out and taken to China again.

This series was interesting, set in the future where a drug links minds. It’s cool but terrifying. I recommend the series if you’re a scifi fan, but do this third book on Kindle or something. the narrating really destroys it, at least it did for me. Maybe the secondary story wouldn’t have been so annoying without the terrible narrator.

@ramez

82. “Furiously Happy: A funny Book About Horrible Things” by Jenny Lawson – narrated by Jenny Lawson

Finished October 11

Oh, how I needed this book. I read her first book back in July of 2012. What! 2012! No way. wow. Where does time go? Seriously. Whoa, Clair Danes just said seriously at the same time I wrote it. b is home on staycation and watching Homeland. Happy birthday B! Anyway, what was I writing about? Oh right, “furiously Happy’.

I realized while I was listening to Jenny’s voice read her words to me, that since I’ve made the decision to get serious about my writing, part of my personality got too serious. Does that make sense? I’ve gotten so serious about learning everything I can about writing and publishing, trying to get my name out there in some way or other, which will happen tomorrow, October 16th, when my first review gets published over at Disability in Kid Lit, that I’ve lost some of my silliness and personality. It’s coming back to me now that I’m upright and walking away from that depression, rather than crawling away, and I’m so grateful for it. I have to thank Jenny lawson for giving me that last push, getting me up off the floor. Thank you, jenny.

In ‘Furiously Happy’, Jenny tells her own stories of depression and anxiety, balanced perfectly with the hilarity that ensues when a mentally ill person decides to be furiously happy. It’s her way of fighting back, of saying f-you to depression and deciding that dammit, if she wants to wear a koala suit in Australia when she meets koala bears, she’s gonna freaking do it. She made the decision to be herself and embrace her damn mental illnesses because the alternative is…well…furiously ugly.

I highly, highly recommend this book for anyone dealing with mental illness or for anyone who’s loved ones are dealing with mental illness, or for anyone who just wants to look inside and see what it’s like to live with mental illness. I related to Jenny soooooo much! My anxiety and depression isn’t as bad as hers but I know it could get that bad and if it does? I’m buying myself a damned stuffed raccoon. yep. No, wait, not a stuffed animal toy raccoon. A taxidermied freaking raccoon. Apple dictionary says taxidermied isn’t a word. Whoa, I’m like a sentence in Jenny’s book.

I want a silver ribbon pin. Jenny, is there a silver ribbon pin? I’ll never remember to pin an actual silver ribbon on but a prefabbed pin? Yeah, I could remember that.

@TheBloggess

81.“White Trash Zombie Gone Wild” (White Trash zombie, book 5) by Diana rowland – narrated by Allison McLemore

Finished October 8

the only bad thing about a new White Trash Zombie book is the need to wait a year for the next one. In this latest installment, our favorite zombie, Angel Crawford, finds herself on her own, her zombie crew all off fixing things elsewhere. Oh right, and there’s also that little problem of her new addiction. Rowland is pretty dang good at writing the whole addiction thing.

so much was going on in this book that I felt my head spinning and thinking, wow too much is going on here. then, with two hours left, I was like how on earth is she gonna unravel the story she’s woven? And she did. the woman can write. and Allison McLemore does a fantastic job as always. I love these books! they have such a positive undertone, they are just plain good for my mental health. If you have an aversion to swearing and brain eating, this series is not for you, though if you expected anything else after reading the titles, I don’t know what to tell ya.

@DianaRowland

80.“White Trash Zombie Apocalypse” (White Trash Zombie book 3) by Diana Rowland – narrated by Allison McLemore

Finished October 6

I had reread White Trash Zombie book four in preparation for book five but didn’t time it right so I decided to read book three since book five wasn’t out for a few more days. That’s the thing about this series for me. It grabs me and doesn’t want to let go. I just enjoy Angel’s company so much that I never want to move on. She’s just a fun chick I could totally imagine having as a real friend, so long as she keeps well fed and doesn’t think my brain smells enticing.

Here’s my post from the first time I read this book. I’m kinda freaking out because I don’t remember that time at all. I read that in this house? in November? Yikes.

I had to laugh when I was perusing some of the reviews on this book. McLemore had a cold and you can totally hear it about halfway through the book. A reviewer said, get this, she has a weak stomach, and it was a challenge listening to the book and the narrator’s cold. I’m like, but the book has scenes with humans cracking skulls and eating brains! Ok, I suppose the reviewer meant she has a weak stomach when it comes to sounds. That must be it, right?

79. “How the White Trash Zombie Got Her Groove Back” (White Trash Zombie book 4) by Diana Rowland – narrated by Allison Mclemore

Finished October 3

I reread this in preparation for book five. There’s no post from when I read it the first time unfortunately. I guess that was from back when I lost control of my book posts and ended up changing the format for all my reviews to this new current one, which has worked so much better for me. I know people are reading the blog since I have stats on that, even though they seldom comment. I’m looking at you, dear reader. I also know that I’ve helped at least one person find books since she lets me know, so Brooke, these posts are for you!

In “Groove Back’, our Angel goes to the big city, NYC, to help rescue some of her tribe who have been kidnapped. It’s hilarious, watching small town Angel, who’s never been farther than Alabama, navigate the subway system. Her goggling at the swanky hotel she gets to stay at reminded me so much of me, especially on my recent trip to Hollywood, where I was afraid to go into the hotel where I just knew I’d stick out like a sore thumb. I was just grateful to have professionally cut and colored hair. I so related to Angel’s money woes and how small she felt next to her friends who seemed to have plenty of the green stuff. Money I mean.

I checked out reviews on this book too and one comment cracked me up, something about how there should be less swearing. Ba ha! Hey, you can take the trash outta the zombie and clean up her beer can paved driveway, but Angel wouldn’t be Angel without her swearing.

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Filed under 2015 Monthly Audio Book Lists, apple Inc, Audio books, birthday, fellowship, gratitude, mental health, Timmy, twitter me this, writing

July’s Audio Books, Jimmy Kimmel and Writing

What an absolutely crazy month July was, let me just get that out of the way ha! Crazy in a very good way. I was successful in submitting my first polished fiction. You can read about that in my last post. I’m waiting to hear back on that. There’s a submissions page where I can go to check on it and it’s just listed as “in progress”. If I remember correctly, the call for submissions said selected authors should know by the end of July. I can’t double-check that since the page has been taken down. so I’m not sure what it means that it’s still listed as “in progress”. At least it’s not listed as “rejected”. ha!

Jayden and I went to LA to a live taping of Jimmy Kimmel life, which was awesome. the guests were Owen Wilson (awesome!), The Bachelorette and her fiance (whatevs) and Juanez, who my friend and I checked out on Apple Music on the road between Indio and LA. Very cool Latin music. He passed us just outside the green room and said my dog is beautiful. Yeah he is. His segment of the show was performed outside. I’m not going into too much detail about this trip on my blog because—

—the afternoon before the Kimmel show I got an email in response to something I submitted months ago that involves non-fiction writing. Paid non-fiction writing. paid! I’m currently working with the person who selected me as one of the new freelance writers and I might be writing about the LA trip so I’m keeping details under wraps for now. The writing thing is really starting to feel real now. It’s kinda nice to write something totally stress free on my own blog ha!

What else about life? I’ll be ramping up research for the Egyptian book I’m going to write for NaNoWriMo. I want to get it all mapped out but I need more information first. I’ve developed a few of the characters which was totally fun. I love developing characters. What else? Oh yes, I mentioned reading a book for a book club and I said I’d include it in with my book post, however I’m going to wait and write about that when I’m done with it. We’re halfway through the book. In fact I need to ask if we should start reading the next half. Ok, on to books!

*7.5 books this month*

62. “Between You and Me: Confessions of Comma Queen” by Mary Norris – narrated by Mary Norris

Finished July 31

One of the authors I follow on Twitter retweeted an article that referenced this book but I can’t remember who tweeted it or where the article was. blame my addled brain this month, which was more addled than normal. This book bloody rocked. That’s all I got. I don’t know if it would interest a person not into words and writing like me, but I just loved this book. Notes I jotted today when nearly finished with it:

Pencils, #1, oh the memories. The way of doing things before computers. the store with all the office supplies and how she loved it. Mom and I in the stationary isle forever, the smell, the possibility. Office Max? Heaven. Her talking about pencils and erasors is freaking awesome. Mom’s mechanical eraser, I had forgotten all about that. Our electric pencil sharpener, I can still picture it.

end notes.

the author narrated which is usually pretty bad. She didn’t do a terrible job though and hearing her dry humor from her own lips was pretty awesome. Jokes sped by like a guy driving his mid-life-crisis car on the highway, so if you aren’t paying attention, you’ll miss the kitchy custom license plate.

Mary Norris sounded like my old choir director’s voice after a lot of singing and shouting during rehearsals. It was comforting haha. I just freaking loved this book.

Twitter: @marynorristny

61. “In the Unlikely Event” by Judy Blume – narrated by Kathleen McInerney

Finished July 28

A book by Judy Blume for adults? yes please. Judy Bloom is part of my childhood so I was super excited to hear that she wrote a book for adults. I had no idea this book was historical fiction, that the three plane crashes which the story is centered around really happened. I try not to read publisher’s summaries of books unless I’m checking out a daily deal or something. I just read the summary for ‘Unlikely Event’ and I have to wonder if knowing about the historical aspect would have changed the way I felt about the book.

There were parts that were downright creepy and I thought, wow, Bloom has one creepy imagination. She added a paranormal element to the story that may or may not have been part of what really happened in Elizabeth, New Jersey in the early 1950’s. It was a sometimes entertaining read with semi-interesting characters going through a truly terrible time in their lives.

It was crazy to read about what it was like for girls and women in the fifties. I mean we all know what it was like back then but Bloom’s writing made it seem so real. I’d recommend if you like stories about people and want to see Judy Bloom write about sex and use swear words, ha! Though really, this book is more along the lines of young adult than adult in my opinion. It was also rather soap opera-y at times.

I’m not a fan of this narrator. I read another book with dual narrators awhile back and she was one of them. I think she’d be great for children’s books. ‘Unlikely Event’ has many jewish characters and the narrator doesn’t even sound slightly Jewish when she says Jewish words. She’s also way too sugary sweet. This was a young adult book with a few adult situations and she sounds like a child trying to sound grown up.

@JudyBlume

60. “Paranoia: A Novel” by Joseph Finder – narrated by Scott Brick

finished July 21

This book took me a little longer than my usual reads since I was working on getting “That Meddling Dog” finished by deadline and also reading a book for a book club. I’ve decided to withdraw my campaign for president since it would cut into my writing, reading and baseball time.

“Paranoia” was not very believable unless I just don’t want to believe in corporate espionage. I mean I know it happens but I doubt it does to this extreme. None of the characters were likable and for the first few hours of the book I started wondering what I’d read next.

But then…

All of the sudden I was like yeah, that could happen, yeah, I’m rooting for this guy now, I dislike the people I’m supposed to dislike and mistrust the ones I’m supposed to mistrust. Right? When it was over I wasn’t ready to be done with the main characters. Now I think I’ll try and find the movie. they made a movie out of it right? This book was a daily deal and I think I remember Audible making it a daily deal because the movie was coming out or something. Really all I remember is that it was a Scott Brick narrated daily deal which means I get it no matter what it is.

Fun, entertaining, fast-paced read. *checks out Finder’s other books* Ooooh found another one narrated by Scott Brick. This is what I’m doing to help me get through a Rays game.

@joefinder

59. “Lexicon” by Max Barry – narrated by Heather Corrigan and Zach Appelman

finished July 14

Um, what? No really, what? What was this book about? I um, what? Can you please just click the above link and read the publisher’s summary? Because I don’t know what I read. I didn’t know what I was reading when I read it. What? It was good. the narration was good, especially Zach.

the book? Huh? Words. Yes. Words. Do I recommend? Huh? Action. Definitely action. Who what when where why? Huh? Whatevs.

Seriously though, there was something missing. I’m not sure what, but something was missing. There were also times of being completely lost that I did not enjoy, and edits I wanted to make. Beyond those things, it was an entertaining read.

@maxbarry

58. “The Long Goodbye” by Raymond Chandler – narrated by Ray Porter

Finished July 11

And I thought Michael Connelly was good. Wow. Raymond Chandler comes up in writerly circles as one to study so when this book came up as a daily deal, and narrated by Ray Porter, I snatched it up without a second thought.

I think I found the style of book to which Ray Porter isn’t quite well suited. Shocker, I know. I think someone like Scott Brick would have been a better Phillip Marlowe. Not to say Ray Porter was bad, that’s impossible. He’s just too current. He doesn’t have that noir sound. There is some Spanish though, which he’s really good at. So maybe that’s what got him the job.

Notes I jotted:

Comment to the writer, how’s the book coming?

*The writer in the book found this comment very annoying and I must say I agree with that sentiment, though when people don’t ask how the writing is coming, I feel like they don’t care, so there’s just no pleasing the writer.

“Maybe it’s the TV commercials. They make you hate everything they try to sell.

*This is me with radio commercials during game broadcasts. I am actively boycotting Subway as a result of their terrible commercials.

I loved this book. I’ll be reading more Chandler for sure.”

57. “Looking for Alaska” by John Green – narrated by Jeff Woodman

Finished July 8

I’m glad I watched a video (which is now unfortunately not available, sorry) of John Green talking about “Looking for Alaska” becoming a movie before I read the book, which Audible put up as a daily deal right around the time of the youtube video which I don’t think is a coincidence. Green says in the video that the book is very personal to him and when he sold the rights for the movie a decade ago, he had his misgivings but the money put his wife through college so yay and now he’s excited about the possibility of the movie because it has the same screenwriter as the movies for both “The Fault in Our Stars” and “Paper Towns”. I read both those books and watched the TFIOS movie which I thought was wonderful and which made me cry just as much as the book.

I’ll probably watch the Paper towns movie since it’s John Green though I didn’t have a strong response to the book which I read last year on my Florida trip.

There were many similarities between “Paper Towns” and “Looking for Alaska” I think. I enjoyed ‘Alaska’ more, so I sure hope they make a movie of it for sure. And I just used the word sure twice. Oops.

Oh here, have some famous last words.

Twitter: @JohnGreen

56. “The Wrath and the Dawn” by Renee Ahdieh – narrated by Ariana Delawari

Finished July 7

I follow an author on Twitter named Lauren DeStefano. (@LaurenDeStefano) I haven’t yet read her books, but follow her because I think she’s hilarious. One of my favorite authors, Samantha Shannon, (@Say_Shannon) retweeted her at some point and that’s how I began following her. Lauren DeStefano did not write ‘Wrath’, she just forced all her followers to read it. No really, she did. She tweeted about it non-stop and when I looked it up and found it on Audible, the publisher’s summary intrigued me so I put it on my wish list. I bought it as a reward when I finished writing my piece of short fiction. I swear, it did not inspire the Egyptian novel I’m planning to write for NaNoWriMo this November haha. The setting is similar, but that’s about it. I couldn’t help smiling though, when parts of ‘Wrath’ made me think about the novel I’m developing.

If you enjoy young adult fiction, I highly recommend this book. It has everything from ancient royalty to teen marriage, to sword fights to curses and oh yes, a love triangle full of “YA hotness”.

The narrator is good, though I thought she had a rather harsh, serious tone to her voice, even during light hearted moments. She wasn’t whiny though, which can really ruin YA teen angst.

I hope there’s a sequel! I’ll read some Lauren DeStefano now as a thank you for the recommendation.

Twitter: @rahdieh

55. “The Winds of War” (winds of War book 1) by Herman Wouk – narrated by Kevin Pariseau

finished July 5

This book was split evenly between June and July. I’ve noticed I’m starting to prefer books in the fifteen hour range. These forty-five hour books can get tedious and book two in this series is even longer. Oy vey.

There were many times I almost took a break and moved on to something else. I’m not a fan of how this novel was written. Some chapters began with long excerpts from a fictional book written by a German who one of the narrators of ‘winds’, Pug, translates. The point of these excerpts is to sort of summarize what happened historically that is about to happen to the fictional characters. These chapters were tedious though, and for me, interrupted the flow of the narrative. ‘winds’ follows one family through World War II and just when something gets interesting with one branch of the family, we’re suddenly stuck with the fictional German book. It’s distracting.

There are also sudden changes in the style of the writing. Wouk gets all poetic and artful out of the blue, following the rise of the sun as it touches “our heroes”, or however he puts it. It’s such a sudden change in style, I found it jarring. I’m writing this on July 2, before I’ve finished the book and at this point, I’m just counting down for it to end. Parts of it are really fun but it’s just too long and my mind wanders often. I crave a good fast paced mystery.

Ok, finished this book last night. I had already written the above since I was going to include this book in last month’s post but changed my mind. There’s a second book but I need a break and it’s even longer than this one was. I’m not sure I can handle another one. So often it just felt like nothing was happening, and I wanted to urge it on like a song being played at too slow a tempo. I can’t say I recommend this book. There are so many excellent historical fiction novels around the second world war.

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Filed under 2015 Monthly Audio Book Lists, accomplishment, apple Inc, Audio books, fellowship, gratitude, Jayden, Miss K, mom, music, twitter me this, writing

My First Submitted Fiction – What A Ride

I need to just free write a post while my body calms down. I just submitted my final draft of ‘That Meddling Dog’ for the YA anthology. Now I wait. Will it be chosen? Will I get my first real rejection? What happens next?

I began work on the story on May 30 and received the final draft from my volunteer copy editor yesterday. the writing and revising was awesome, ending up five hundred words over the limit and getting it down to the six thousand, sending new revisions off to my friends and getting their feedback and talking about things that happened and how the story affected each reader differently and change this word for that and get rid of that story line all together because there’s no room for it and I wasn’t ready to introduce that character anyway but oh I still need to reference him ok let me just change his name.

All the creative stuff was awesome, naturally, then it was coming down to the wire, the story pretty much done, the surface so shiny from all the polishing that I could see my reflection and all that was left was formatting. the visual part.

I’ve known I have a trigger happy thumb. I’m sure it’s evident in this post since I’m not being careful at all, just getting thoughts down. I enter way too many spaces. There’s no way with Voiceover and my word processing program, Pages, to easily tighten up spacing issues. So I went character by character of a six thousand word document, deleting spaces.

Wanna hear a sample of that process?

After I got done deleting extra spaces, I went through and added all my paragraph indents. I do all my first drafts in a basic app called Text Edit, kinda like Notepad for Windows, since it’s the easiest for me to use with voiceover. When I’m writing my first drafts of a fiction story, I never remember to tab for paragraphs and dialogue and I’m not sure that would copy over to Pages anyway.

So I went through and added my tabs and then I counted the new lines of a blank document. fifty lines. I wanted to do that thing with new chapters so the chapter would begin halfway down the page, right? So I’d find the new chapter and press enter twenty-five times. In my head, there’s the white space for the chapters.

I exported the Pages document, was it twenty-seven pages or seventeen I can’t remember. Anyway, converted it to Word for my volunteer copy editor and sent it off Wednesday. Deadline Sunday. today is Saturday. Are you with me?

I’m feeling so good about it. Really good. I feel like the story is solid, the protagonist being a secondary character in the main novel I’ve had in my heart and have worked on for years, and the protag from that novel in the story too. I feel great about it. I’ve had fun hanging out with my kids and creating new ones.

Then Thursday morning, before I’ve had coffee, before I’ve played Trivia Crack, I check email on my phone.

Don’t check email on your phone when you haven’t had coffee or played Trivia Crack and you’re already a bundle of nerves from this whole process oh and when Brian is in Sedona for a conference and your sleep is all messed up from staying up all night on Tuesday in a Google hangout with your besties.

email from copy editor lets me know he found extra spaces and other formatting stuff. Extra spaces. After I spent two days going character by character to get rid of them. Words that aren’t capitalized, crazy stuff. Stuff I know I fixed right?

turns out, when you export from Pages to Word and vice versa, formatting errors occur. So I can’t just go through, read his comments, fix what I agree with, stet the rest. this isn’t going to work. I can’t fix those visual errors. I can’t figure out how to make his comments correspond to the area of the manuscript which they refer. I start to panic. I’ve worked so hard. I love this story.

I’m reminded that I’m blind.

later I talk to Ricardo on the phone. He looks at the document with voiceover on his Mac. We try and figure out the comments thing. It’s all so overwhelming. It’s Thursday and the deadline is Sunday. Should I send the manuscript to Amanda who is also blind but uses Jaws with Word? She can fix the formatting issues, keep it in the blind family. but then I still can’t convert back to Pages.

Oh crap I totally left out the cathartic screaming crying fit from earlier in the day. I threw myself on the bed and screamed into my pillow so hard it hurt. I sobbed and sobbed. the cats piled on the bed with me. All I want to be is a writer and there’s all these barriers.

When I’m talking to Ricardo I’m trying so hard not to let the tears come but they do because I can’t do this. I can’t be a writer. There are too many challenges. I need Jaws and Word. All those things I’ve heard for years about Mac and voiceover not working well for professionals, all those things are true. Who am I kidding? I’m a blind disabled nobody and that’s who I’ll stay.

No.

Fuck that.

Deep breath.

Talking to Ricardo. He’s saying all the things I know in my heart, all the things my doubts want to kill. Sure it’s hard. Sure there are barriers. But there are also resources. Amanda told me to use my tools. What are my tools.

Email from the Professor. He can fix the visual stuff. He can just do it, we can talk in the morning, Friday, then he sends me the Word file, I don’t touch it, I submit that.

I tell Ricardo. Should I do that?

Hell yeah!

Weight lifts from my shoulders. People. People are my tools. People are more than happy to help a person who’s doing as much of the hard work as she can on her own.

I think back to the meetings. God will do for me what I can’t do for myself. For me right now, god is those people.

I’m going to be a published writer. I know this. This experience has been so valuable. Even if TMD doesn’t get picked for the anthology, the things I’ve learned from making it the best story it could be are invaluable.

And if it does get published? It could be a launching point.

I struggled with whether to include in my bio that I’m blind. I don’t want to be picked because I’m blind I want to be picked based on the merit of the work. But then I thought back to my last job, the one voc rehab helped me get and they told me not to disclose my MS. Look where that got me? I didn’t get any of the help I needed to be successful while working with a debilitating disability and I went blind.

so I chose to disclose. If I’m going to use the resources available as a blind writer, I can’t pretend I’m not. Hey look at that, tense change. I’m really bad at staying in tense. Hehe! Wait, in tense. Hahaha. Oh but I am so intense at times. In tense. intense. I love freaking words.

I thought back to an essay I read years ago that pissed me off so bad I almost wrote about it here but chose not to. the essay was written by a visually impaired woman who had kept her impairment secret for the same reasons I almost did. She had to admit it though, because she was loosing more and more of her vision.

I was so angry at her at the time but now I get it. It sucks to have to look your weakness full in the face. it sucks to admit oh crap, I can’t do this all on my own. It sucks. It’s painful. I understand now why she wanted to hide it and how much pain she must have been in the day she decided to post that essay.

I have put myself out there now. Until today, five people read TMD. Two blind friends, a young adult friend, and two sighted friends. Friends. All people who care about me. Now the story is in the hands of strangers.

It’s like bearing your soul, which Strunk prepared me for when I read his book.

I slept and slept and slept last night. I woke up at eleven this morning, an hour into the Rays game. So not like me! I was, and still am, exhausted.

After the Rays won (yay!) I opened the submission manager. Deep breath. Heart began racing.

“My heart is racing,” I say.

“Why, because you guys won?” Brian asks.

“No, I’m about to submit the story.”

“Oh!”

He knows what a journey this has been. He’s heard me mumbling during revisions, that doesn’t sound right, how can I reword that, he knows how important this is to me.

Of course I ran into a quick technical issue while looking for the file, the only one on my desktop, to submit. Silly mac.

I clicked submit. There goes the bio I wrote, there goes my baby, bye!

“Your submission has been sent.”

Oy vey, right? Holy crap. I mean holy crap! I tweeted, then grabbed Timmy and went to cuddle him in bed. His purring soothes me. I lay in bed, collecting my thoughts, the feeling slowly returning to my feet.

Now we wait. I posted on Facebook that I’m equal parts sure it will be accepted and that I’ll get my first real rejection.

Whatever happens, I’ll keep writing. Ren and georgie insist on it and their story isn’t done. They’ve got at least an entire novel to appear in, if not two or three. And my friend Dulce made her appearance in TMD when I had to work in a flashback to explain something. We find out she had her first kiss. And Dulce the character needs to meet Jedi the dog, who will love her as much as Jayden loves the real Dulce.

This story isn’t over. It’s just beginning!

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Filed under accessibility, accomplishment, Adjustment to blindness, apple Inc, assistive technologies, baseball, cats, coffeeholic, faith, fellowship, gratitude, Jaws, Jayden, Microsoft, misty eyes, screen reader, silly girl, spoons, Timmy, twitter me this, Voiceover, writing

My Not So fiery Thursday

Picture it: Sicily I mean Tucson, a beautiful day in mid April, a 1950’s era home with doors and windows flung wide, a breeze full of deliciously fresh spring air dancing from door to door and door to window.

It was about 12:30pm on Thursday and I was contemplating making my lunch while doing something on the laptop, probably reading Twitter,while Jayden snuggled beside me on the couch. All was quiet and lovely and I was in a wonderful mood after a surprise from iTunes that morning.

After preordering the new Josh groban album, Stages, I was confused to hear the tritone chime alerting me to new downloads. Since the album isn’t out until the twenty-eighth I wasn’t expecting a download. Was it because I preordered the deluxe version? I knew some of the songs were out in the wild since I’d read tweets from people commenting on them. I have avoided reading the song list or listening to any of the new ones, wanting to experience the album song by song, sight unseen.

Curious, I searched my library for Stages and had songs! What was this magic? I didn’t check how many, wondering which songs they would be, anticipation building as I grabbed my bluetooth speaker and settled in to listen.

I had four new Josh Groban songs! four! Is it April 28 yet? April has been an awesome month for books and music, I must say.

So a few hours later as I contemplated making my turkey and radish sandwich before my Thursday call, relaxed back on the couch with my laptop, it took me a few seconds to understand the sudden horrible blaring screeching noise, Jayden bounding off the couch and running, cats running, everyone running and the blaring, was it coming from outside? No. In the house? yes. Do I smell smoke? No. Jayden was leaping around, nails clicking on the tile floor, if the screeching was hurting me it must be killing him.

Follow the sound, it was bouncing off tile and walls, bedroom? windows open in there, the only windows with screens. Neighbor burning weeds again? blaring. I can’t hear myself think. I can’t see. I can’t hear, anything but the blaring. Is something on fire? I don’t smell smoke. Are we ok? I don’t smell smoke. Bedroom, it would be up near the ceiling. run my hands along the rough brick of what used to be the outside of the house. I mutter the word help. A neighbor will hear the blaring and come to help. I can’t reach it. Run out of the bedroom, close the door.

Hurry away from the sound. Pull my phone from my pocket. B might be taking a lunch break. He has working eyes. He can come make the sound stop.

Ding ding: Call B.

Siri: Calling B.

ring ring. Ring ring. ring ring. voicemail.

Hi, um everything is fine and nothing is on fire but the fire alarm thing is going and I can’t stop it but you didn’t answer, think I’ll call the fire department just in case.

Ding ding: Call 911.

Siri: calling emergency in five seconds.

Blaring fire alarm. Head pounding. Nervous giggles threatening.

Silicon Sally: What is your emergency?

Silicone Sally? Seriously?

Um, fire alarm is going off.

Dispatcher, a real woman.

Your fire alarm is going off?

Yes and I’m blind. I don’t smell smoke.

Her voice takes on an edge. You’re blind? Ok sending a truck right now. What is your address?

I tell her, beginning to spell the street name and she interrupts.

I’ve got the spelling. Go outside and wait for the truck ok?

Ok. We hang up.

I freeze in the living room. I usually put timmy in a room when I go outside so he won’t escape. No time. No time to find timmy. He freaked out with the other animals anyway and is probably hiding. Go to back door, grab Jayden’s leash , go to front door, put leash on, step right outside the door, stop.

Wait. In school we always had to walk away from the building. Jayden’s harness is right inside the door. Step back in, grab his harness, step out, put it on, direct him to the curb.

The distant siren growing closer and then the sound of a heavy engine turning the corner. I waved, feeling so happy to hear them so fast. Even though I knew nothing was burning, I was running on pure adrenaline, and that blaring, so loud, hurting my ears…I had known what it was like to lose that all important sense, at least in a way.

the men stomped towards me and cheerfully said hello and I followed one back to the house. Jayden stopped at the door and a fireman behind me said the door was closed.

“I thought he went in ahead of me.”

“He did, he left you in the dust,” a fireman said with a chuckle. We all tromped into the house and the blaring suddenly stopped.

“Did you have anything on the stove?”

“No.”

“Did you have a candle burning in the bedroom?”

“No.”

“We could smell something sweet in there,” he prompted.

“Oh well I have a Plug-In in there.”

They went on to tell me the fire alarms were all rather old. I said I would call the landlord. the first fireman said he left the detecter on the dresser next to the fan. I mentioned the neighbor burning grass and I could hear the eye roll in the first guy’s voice.

“He shouldn’t be doing that.”

I was so wishing he were, so he would get caught at no fault of mine. It was the smoke alarm’s fault.

The men left and I sent a thank you behind them.

Firemen. Even without vision I could tell they were hot. I was suddenly aware of the fact that I was wearing no braw under a t-shirt and men’s pajama bottoms. At least my hair was freshly cut!

B arrived five minutes after the men left and it was good he did because the smoke detector started chirping. We walked around the house thinking it must be one of the other ones but no, it was the same one. The fireman had pulled it off the wall and stopped the screeching but it still had its battery, which B promptly popped out. I left a message for the landlord, b went back to work, and I had my Thursday chat.

Not to worry, if I had smelled smoke, B would not have been my first call. It was a good learning experience. I will get another leash to keep by the front door and will grab Jayden’s harness in the event of an emergency so we can walk to the curb just like I learned in elementary school. The day was interesting, to say the least. And one word: firemen.

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Filed under apple Inc, cats, fellowship, gratitude, Jayden, music, Silicone Sally, Timmy, twitter me this, working dog

Can’t think of a title. Blame the cogfog.

Cranking out today’s post this afternoon since I already know I’m not going to make it into my den and computer and I don’t want o leave it for later when I stretch out in bed like I did last night.

I am hoping, hugely hoping, thatI sought neurological care in time and that Dr. V caught this MS relapse in time for steroid infusions this week to stop the progression. When I was first told of the new lesions and that I was in active relapse, I didn’t think I ws having any symptoms, no more than my usual fatigue anyway. Yesterday I noticed just how stiff and weak my left leg is and my right foot too. And today, dizzy spells galore. Is it psychosomatic? I suppose that’s always a possibility.

My iPad and bluetooth keyboard are working well enough for couch/bed days, thoug I feel much more limited than I am on my Mac. I wish I could buy a Macbook Air for couch days.

I’m going to see what I can learn about controlling iOS with my keyboard while I’m hooked up my steroid drips this week. I wonder if the infusion center will ahve wifi. My hotspot might come in handy.

I’ll write tomorrow from the infusion center if all goes as planned.

Oh wait, not done yet, welcome to the world, baby boy Longoria! He was born yesterday, unfortunately while Evan was in Japan on the Allstar tourHe watched the birth via Facetime. Technology is so cool! His fiance tweeted not long ago, thanking everyone for the well wishes for Nash. So I’m guessing they named the baby Nash. Nash Longoria? I like it!

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Filed under apple Inc, evan longoria, NaBloPoMo 2014, spoons

Tampa Bay Trip – Day Two

Ok, so day two of the trip of a lifetime. This day was supposed to be a recovery day after traveling. It’s a good thing I planned a recovery day in case I needed it, but I didn’t need it. I must have slept hard after staying up late the night before talking with Manda. The Starbucks iced mocha after I landed in Tampa was probably partly to blame for staying up late haha. I would have slept later if not for the seagulls. Did you know those birds scream in the mornings? wow. Oh and my room was right next to the pool. And there were a lot of kids staying at the hotel. The combination of seagulls and kids screaming makes it pretty impossible to sleep too late. It’s a wonder I slept as long as I did. Thank you, ear plug.

I got up and for once Jayden didn’t get excited the second I got out of bed. I could imagine him laying on the bed, opening one eye to look at me and then deciding he was on vacation and didn’t need to budge. I used the coffee maker in the room to warm up water to make my Starbucks instant coffee. That is the best way to avoid nasty hotel coffee. At least it usually is. The coffee maker didn’t make very hot water so I woke up with some lukewarm coffee and checked email and Twitter on the iPad.

I had made plans with Davis for that morning. I had asked if he could bring Egg McMuffins since I can never get to a McDonald’s before they stop serving breakfast. Foiled again though, since I didn’t wake up until around 10am. Why couldn’t those meddling kids have woken me up earlier?

Davis came buy anyway because he wanted to see how Voiceover works on my iOS devices. Davis is blind in one eye and since meeting me, some of the fear of losing his good eye has gone. It was good for him to see how technology still works for me. I showed him some of the apps I use that help me identify objects and color and text. He’ll just need to switch to iOS from Android haha. Though I hear Android is making great strides in accessibility.

After the technology demo I was feeling a little hungry so Davis and I went to downtown St. Petersburg. I had decided I wanted to try the Tijuana Flats place he goes to all the time. The weather was absolutely beautiful! There was some car rase going on downtown and when I opened the car door I was greeted by the distant whine of racecars! So cool! Oh we had also driven by Tropicana Field. I’d finally be there the next day!

When we went to the counter they all knew Davis by name and after he introduced me, one of the girls started calling me Arizona. Nice! Like Alabama in the Quentin Tarantino movies!

I ordered nachos and got a plate big enough for Hagrid to eat. I check in on Foursquare where Davis is the mayor so in the comment on the checkin I wrote, “Lunch with the Mayor”. I think my dad thought I meant the actual mayor haha!

I don’t have a picture, but I VandalEyesed the napkin dispenser.

After we ate we walked over to Starbucks so I could get more of the Via instant coffee. It turns out the ones I bought in Tucson with my friend Lori were not the right kind even though Lori specifically tried to make sure they were. The barista had kept trying to give me decaf. The ones I finally got were caffeinated but they turned out to be the iced coffee blend, which I didn’t know until Manda read the package at the hotel. All that joking Lori and I did about my Florida friends not wanting to see me decaffeinated and I still ended up with the wrong coffee. So we got the right stuff and Davis drove back to Treasure Island.

We took Jayden to his litter box and then decided to walk down to the water. I took a couple videos. Too bad the iPhone can’t block wind sound. That’s loud! The first one is a little over two minutes as we were walking. I’m holding the phone so I bet it’s bouncy haha. The second one is about 45 seconds with feet in the water. I tried to get Jayden reacting to the waves.


Direct youtube link #1

Direct youtube link #2

The sand there is not like what I’m used to. It’s not fine like the sand in San Diego. There’s a lot of history about the Treasure Island beach that Manda told me about the night before but I can’t remember the details. There’s actually plants and trees on the beach which I can’t even begin to fathom. The waves didn’t roar like they do in SanDiego since Treasure Island is on the bay. I didn’t feel the power and enormity like I did in San Diego. It’s a gentle tied. It’s like a different world!

After Davis left I hung around for a little bit and then Manda came over so we could write in the cards I got from the Guide Dogs for the Blind store to put the tickets to the suite. I had the suite schedule for each of the three nights so I would tell Manda who the card was for and how many tickets and she’d describe the puppy pictures on the cards. It was good times! I told her what to write in the cards and several times I got emotional. The enormity of the trip had finally sunk in. Tomorrow I would be going to the Trop for the first time and I’d be meeting even more people. I was suddenly exhausted!

I don’t know how we got through all those cards. We took a break at one point and ordered Cheesesteak delivery.

Manda organized the cards into piles so we could keep them all straight. I don’t remember what time we finished and called it a night. I just remember being exhausted from getting so emotional. I thought I would sleep like the dead. I didn’t sleep at all. I rotated between trying to sleep, listening to my book, checking Twitter, but no sleep. How was I going to manage Opening Day on no sleep?

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Tampa Bay Trip – Day One

I have a big top secret writing project planned but I have so many blog posts hanging over my head that I can’t focus on the big one. It’s silly right? Nothing says I need to post here at all but The Roof was my first writing project so I feel beholden to it somehow. So how does one catch up when so behind? One post at a time. Or one win at a time, in the Rays’ case. So I’m starting with day one of the Florida trip that took place forever ago.

So much preparation went in to this trip and not just on my part. So many people played a part in this once in a lifetime dream come true. There were the donors who made the trip completely financially stress free, there were friends planning transportation, there were groceries bought for my hotel room, every need I could have possibly had was met. So the day I left Tucson, March 29, was full of excitement, not stress. I had complete trust and faith in the people I was turning my life over to for a week. Did I mention I had never met any of these people in person? People were astounded when I told them I was flying by myself to a state I’d never been to and people I’d never met. As more of the story of how these people made the trip possible came out, my joy spread like wildfire. I had one paratransit driver say he couldn’t wait to tell his wife the story. Another driver shared a story about strangers helping her family after a tragic death. Everywhere I went, there were stories of the good in people. I couldn’t wait to get on the plane!

My flight was scheduled to leave Tucson about 11am. We got to the airport around 9:30 and I quickly realized Saturdays are not the day to travel. The Tucson airport is generally pretty quiet, a rather lazy airport. Not the day I left. I was so nervous that when we got to the ticket counter my hands were shaking as I handed the ticket agent my ID. “Why am I so nervous?” I asked B.

“You’re excited,” he said knowingly.

The ticket agent complimented my manicure. I had gotten my first ever shellack manicure in blue for my Rays. My ring fingernails were covered in glitter as an accent. It was so fun getting pampered in the week before the trip!

There was a long line at security. I just wanted to get on the plane so I could finally relax. As we reached the TSA agents a deep voice told us to go to him. I can’t remember what he asked me to do, oh I remember. Not everyone has to remove there shoes these days. He asked me to remove my shoes and I jokingly said, “is it because I’m blind?” He said yes so matter of factly that my mouth dropped open and finally he laughed and assured me I wasn’t being singled out. I like joking TSA agents. People are so boring when they’re serious all the time.

We finally got through security. B was allowed to come with me to the gate. It was so crowded that there wasn’t anywhere to sit so I plopped on the floor by Jayden and checked in on Foursquare.

– Aside –

I used to hate Foursquare so much that I had any mention of it muted in my Twitter client. People constantly shared every single place they ever visited. Why? Why do I need to know you’re getting gas at the Chevron? One day I was reading twitter on my iPhone where I had no mute filters set up and someone checked in at their child’s school! SeriouslY?

– End aside –

I wanted a good record of all the places I visited on the trip and Foursquare came in really handy for that. Not only was it great for my memories, my friends in Florida could track me as I came to them. I shared everything on Twitter and Facebook. It’s so much faster then sending texts to let everyone know you’ve arrived safely.

I felt so bad for Jayden since he couldn’t eat or drink the day we travelled. I gave him a small piece of cookie (dog biscuit) as we waited to board. We didn’t wait long. Soon it was announced that people with small children and disabilities were being pre-boarded so B kissed me goodbye, handed my carry-on suitcase to the helper and I was on my way! Weeeee!

As Jayden followed the helper through the jetway I was told it was a full flight. I hate those words haha. Full flight means they won’t be able to clear the seat next to us so Jayden will have to stay all scrunched up. I always get the bulkhead seat so there’s a little more leg room. We sit on the window so I can keep my leg position such that Jayden can curl up nicely between my leg and the window.

the helper handed me over to a flight attendant and she helped us to our seat. My carry-on was stowed and I got us settled as the plane began to fill up. I had bought a mini messenger bag that I could sling across my body in the hopes that they would let me keep that on me. The last time I flew, I used the hip pack I got from Guide Dogs so I could keep my phone and gum and stuff on me since there’s no under the seat space in bulkhead. Last time I flew however,I had gone to visit Chupa in Colorado and when we stopped for coffee after we left the airport, I was mortified to walk into Starbucks with my hip pack. It was a good laugh haha! I’m not a very vain person but something about a hip pack, you know?

they let me keep my messenger bag so I was all set for the flight with gum, Advil, granola bars and Jayden’s cookies. Let’s goooooo!

The seats next to me were empty for so long I started to feel hopeful but at the last minute a couple sat down next to me. The husband took the aisle seat and the wife wasn’t very vocal. She also had an incredibly smelly sandwich. As the plane taxied and started picking up speed she said, “I love this part!” I agreed and thrilled as the engines got louder and the moment of liftoff was felt as my back was pushed into the seat. Airborne! On my way!

(I’m so glad all the memories are coming back to me so vividly. I did not plan on waiting so long to write about the trip.)

I just got distracted by Mariah Carey singing Vision of Love.

As soon as we were allowed to use our electronics I got my iPad out and settled in to listen to “Code Zero” by Jonathan Maberry. Audio books are so great at passing time. Before I knew it we were making our final approach into Dallas. I thought about my friends Amanda and Taylor. I was so close to them!

When we landed and could come out of airplane mode I checked in on Foursquare and was told the place was swarming. Little did I know just how many flights came in and out of that airport!

We waited until everyone got off the plane and then a guy came to help us off. he got my carry-on and as we emerged from the jetway he asked if I wanted to ride on the cart that was at the gate. Remembering how much walking was involved at the Denver airport, I gratefully said yes. Jayden and I got on the cart and I grinned as the air hit my face. Inside. Air on my face inside. I reached down and touched Jayden’s head and could feel him trying to look at everything. There were so many passing sounds and smells. Snippets of conversation , the rolling of suitcases, food areas, the driver calmly making the cart’s presence known. We drove. And drove. And drove and soon the enormity of the airport dawned on me and my gratitude for the cart was overwhelming. Finally we were nearing the gate and I asked the driver if a restroom was near the gate. He stopped right outside the ladies room and waited for me to take me to the gate. Such service!

I found a seat and then remembered I liked to check in at the gate desk just to make sure Jayden and I were visible. I started heading in the direction of where I heard airport staff and a man asked if he could help us as I tried to drag my carry-on behind me. He was so nice! He helped us to the counter and back to a seat and then we sat and talked while I waited to board. Conversation began with questions about Jayden and where we were heading. I asked if he lived in Tampa since that was where the flight was going and he explained that he was hoping to get a standby flight and had stopped at that terminal to rest. that’s how huge this airport its! I can’t remember where he was traveling from but he was waiting on the last leg of a long journey. I want to say maybe he had been in South Africa doing church work. Wow. Just wow. He was waiting to get home. We talked a bit about the travel and he asked for more details about my trip of a lifetime. I asked if he had Twitter and he said he did, his son made him get an account but he didn’t use it often. I told him about the #RoToTrop hashtag and he said he would look it up. I wonder if he did!

Finally it was time to board again and I felt a bump of excitement. One more flight and I’d be there!

It was yet another full flight but the couple next to me were nice. I finished “Code Zero” and tried to hide my tears at one point. Joe Ledger books aren’t supposed to make me cry, Jonathan Maberry! *Shakes fist*

I decided to listen to some Josh Groban for the last bit of the flight and at one point Jayden moved so I bent to touch him and the music stopped. What? I took the headphones out and had volume. I tried the headphones on my iPhone and they worked. What the heck? Fine, I’ll listen to Josh on my iPhone. Crap. No I won’t. I had taken off all my music so I’d have plenty of room for media on the trip. Hmmm. I checked the audio books I keep on my phone for safe keeping. Old iTunes downloads that I got before I had Audible. Ah, “Silence of the Lambs”. That’s good. Are you about a size fourteen? Oh good good. Precious?

As we made our final approach into Tampa I couldn’t help it, I squealed with delight. “I’m so excited, you guys!” I said to my seat mates. I explained why and the man said, “Ah, I thought that was a Rays shirt you’re wearing.) this puzzled me because while he was correct, I was waring my Stripes for Archer shirt and I didn’t think it said Rays anywhere on it. I later confirmed this so the man had to know about the fan club! I was already among friends!

Ohmigod I’m in Tampa, I thought as the plane landed. I checked in on Foursquare and checked text messages. Manda had left a text saying they would be where the train stops, whatever that meant. Oh boy, another huge airport?

I not so patiently waited for everyone to get off the plane and finally my helper came for me and I was off. Ohmigod! We did indeed have to ride a train. It wasn’t far from the gate and suddenly we were getting off the train and I heard screaming and shouting and a very clear, “there she is!” Jayden had never met these people but he seemed to know they were friends and he was pulling pulling pulling towards them as my helper and I followed with my carry-on and then there were arms around me and laughing and Jayden was beside himself excited and I was meeting Manda, Davis and Tina. With all the commotion and noise we were making you’d have thought a lot more than three people had come to get me haha! Finally we calmed down and made our way towards baggage claim. I was in desperate need of coffee since I limit my fluids when traveling. I’d had a cup of water on each flight and that was it. Manda said she was pretty sure there was a Starbucks in the airport but in the end we decided to hit a drive thru on the way to St. Petersburg. I just wanted to get my suitcase and take care of my boy. Davis ran ahead to look for my suitcase but came back and told us it wasn’t there. Everyone else had come and gone so I felt a nudge of panic. We went to the baggage claim office and my claim ticket was checked and it showed that my suitcase had arrived. Just then some more luggage got to the area and yes! I had all of Jayden’s thinks with me in my carry-on as well as all the Snickerdoodle cookies I had baked the day before so I had the important stuff, but I was happy to have all my clothes haha.

We made our way outside and oh the humidity! I was warm from all the activity and when we hit the humidity I was instantly covered in sweat. We found a place for Jayden to pee, on this raised shrubbery thing that was not ideal. I was laughing at how hot I was, fanning myself with my shirt and they all laughed and said they were wearing sweaters. Are you crazy! It had rained all day and was like sixty degrees. Oh brrr haha! It was so humid because of the rain.

After relieving Jayden we made our way to the #RoToTrop Mobile, otherwise known as Davis’ SUV. He had shoe polished the hash tag on the back window. I got into my cary-on to get into Jayden’s food but I could not find the travel bowl I had brought with me. I’m usually good at remembering where I packed stuff but I could not find it. They all tried to think of what to put the food in and Davis lamented the fact that he’d had the car detailed. No loose trash to the rescue. Then a lightbulb went on over Manda’s head and she ran to her spot in the car. “Frisbee!” she shouted.

“Where did you find a frisbee in there?” Davis wondered.

turns out Manda had gone to a charity bowling event that day held by David Price and frisbees were part of the swag. It was perfect! Jayden happily ate and we both chugged water.

Finally we got settled in the car and set out to find Starbucks. There was a lot of laughing and I dropped an f-bomb and smacked my hands over my mouth. I have a sailor mouth but that rarely comes out on my blog or Twitter. Everyone laughed and started dropping their own f-bombs which made us laugh some more. It was good times! Oh and I got my Starbucks so the caffeine deprivation was over.

We got to the hotel on Treasure Island near where Manda lives and checked in. The room was in a great location. Jayden and I wouldn’t have to go far to get to some sand where he could relieve. I started calling it his litter box haha. They all carried in groceries! Gatorade and Pringles and bananas oh my! They are too sweet! Oh and lots of bottled water. There was a mini kitchen in the room. After a bit Davis and Tina left and Manda and I hung out as I started to settle into my room. There were two double beds which was nice since the second bed held my suitcases. There was a small table with two chairs, a dresser with a TV on it, and the little kitchen. It was cute! The table was perfect for my electronics.

We decided to order pizza and oh man was it delicious! I ate a ton which was good because I couldn’t eat much the rest of the trip. nerves, man!

We sat up and talked forever, took Jayden out and walked down to the ocean. That’s how close my room was to the water! Actually we didn’t get all the way to the water because Jayden did not want to walk anymore. We turned around and made our way back and Jayden left a present haha. No wonder he didn’t want to walk anymore! We picked it up and kept going. Manda freaked me out for a second when she said something like, “now if I can just figure out where the hotel is.” Wha! Turns out it’s really really dark on that beach at night. You aren’t even supposed to be out that far that late. Oops! Did you know there are birds that chirp at night? The sounds were so cool! the distant waves and the night birds. Awesome!

We got back and Manda left. Her house was within walking distance of the hotel. I got ready for bed, spent some time on Twitter, then curled up with Jayden and listened to my audio book. Jayden loved that bed haha! He doesn’t sleep in bed with me at home. He ended up taking up most of the bed himself haha!

So that was day one! My arms are just a tad sore from all the typing.

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Filed under #RoToTrop, accomplishment, apple Inc, Audio books, baseball, coffeeholic, fellowship, gratitude, iPhone, Jayden, jayden quirks, music, num num food, relieving, silly girl, twitter me this, working dog

Hanging with Ro Episode 14 – New Year’s Eve in Flagstaff Style

On New Year’s Eve, B and Jayden and I piled into the car and drove up to Flagstaff, AZ. The band Quiet Riot was doing a show there so we had been planning the trip for about a month. When he first asked me if I’d want to go I thought it would be fun to chill in the hotel while he went to the concert, but then I considered going to the show. It had been years since I rang in the new year anywhere other than my bed haha! I ended up not going though because it would have just been too loud for Jayden and for me. I like my hearing, thank you very much.

The drive up was uneventful. I listened to Josh Groban non-stop. B started telling me about snow on the ground next to the highway the closer we got to Flagstaff. Snow! When we arrived at the hotel the temperature change was quite drastic and the breeze bit my skin as we walked to the lobby. Inside I quickly put my Rays hoodie on.

The room was great! It had a little kitchen with a full size coffee maker. I brewed the coffee they provided but it wasn’t good so we’d have to hit a Starbucks so I could get some instant.

We relaxed for a bit in the room and after I fed and relieved Jayden, we headed to the casino to eat. B had to pick up a player’s club card which was the ticket to the show. Sitting in a diner at a casino at 5pm is super creepy. Unless it was just this particular one. It sounded like the most depressing place. There was no laughing, no idle chatter, no music and I kept hearing what sounded to me like a zombified game of Marco Polo.

As we ate I listened and finally got that people were walking by the diner saying, “Kino,” and the staff at the diner parroted them back in a very lackluster voice. Alrighty then.

Then B noticed the band walking right by the diner! He named each member as they passed. The drummer was last, the only original member of Quiet Riot and B said he was the only one with an entourage. Me: Really? B: Yeah, two people.

They were carrying their own bags and everything. Life as a washed up old hair band? It was still cool though.

As we were walking onto the actual gaming floor to get B’s pass, a security guard stopped us. I couldn’t hear what he was saying so he spoke up. He was asking if Jayden had paperwork. I blurted that I have an ID for him but I think the guy could tell I was shocked at the question. He said something like, “what are those dogs called, I can never remember.”

“I’m blind and he’s my guide dog.”

He let us go then. It was bizarre.

The game floor was so smokey! It rather disgusted me and I couldn’t believe I used to do that. I guess I have become the grumpy ex-smoker haha! It’s not so bad outdoors but inside there? Whew!

B got his pass and we went back out into the cold. Wow cold. I mean, cold!

We headed back towards the hotel and I used Siri to locate a Starbucks. Now I had real coffee and was good to go. We hung out for a bit and B tried watching that awful duck show. He switched to New Year’s stuff and there was a year in review show that was rather interesting. We never watch TV other than sports, so it was an experience haha! They discussed things I had only read about on Twitter. Pop culture anyone? It’s lost on me.

After B left I decided on a whim to record a voice note and it morphed into a Hanging with Ro episode. It had been awhile since I recorded myself being a goofball haha!

Ok so now for Hanging with Ro Episode 14. How perfect is that? Episode 14, ringing in 2014. Whoa. *opera voice* Spoooooky! *end opera voice*

So there are two files. This first one is the longest. I think it’s around forty minutes or so. I had no idea where it was going when I started haha! Topics include but are not limited to:

*Breaking the rules with Jayden

*Being out on New Year’s Eve. I just remembered the last time. It was 2005/06 and Georgie and I went to an AA New Year’s event. We were both in our first year sober and we were so scared we’d get hit by a drunk driver.

*Muttmuffs

*B stands for…

*Getting distracted and laughing at the TV

*Seriously? That’s CNN? Anderson Cooper giggling.

*Remotes hate me.

*2013 year in review. Colorado to see Chupa and my first Rays game. Feeling fabulous in Colorado.

*Hip pack humiliation.

*Bad summer, bad health oh who’s singing?

*Josh Groban. How I love the Josh Groban.

*We need to move. Teeth. Not move teeth. Ow.

*Gamma

*I don’t get TV.

*I make a cup of instant coffee but not in the closet.

*I sing la la la and the Josh Groban love begins with gusto.

*Flagstaff smells good.

*I try and describe the Grand Canyon.

*More Josh Groban drool only this time with songs on the iPad. I’m pathetic.

*Ok Josh maybe I didn’t hear that right from you I can’t be certain because you all talked a lot.

*Wow I was sniffling already. I got totally sick the next day.

*The song that made me cry in the car is a Stevie Wonder cover.

*Here is the translation to the song I was swooning over.

*I tell you to look up this clip on youtube so here it is.

*Ok wow I really am happy being me, trust me.

*Who’s outside the window?

*I wish I could shut up my humming.

*I waste time trying to play a song. I didn’t realize I had lost my wifi so I couldn’t get it from the cloud. Here’s the other Brave song by Sara Bareilles. You’ll probably recognize it from those Microsoft commercials.

*I wrap up this portion finally haha!

New Year’s Eve Part 1

And we’re back. This one is about sixteen minutes.

*I’m paranoid it’s not recording.

*Two minutes away from 2014.

*Loud upstairs neighbor.

*David DeJesus is mentioned. Baseball must be on the brain.

*Sleepy girl

*Midnight in New York phone call.

*A totally lame Arizona midnight but at least I checked the time at the exact right moment.

*Evan Longoria. He is seriously mentioned in every single one of my audios. You’d think I do nothing but talk about that man!

*I talk about the Phoenix trip I had forgotten to mention in my year review. Who got to go on the field at Chase Field? Thank you David Price!

*Phoenix killed me though. Well not really since I’m alive but you know.

*Disappointed girl in a Vanderbilt shirt.

*Dave and Andy!

*Learning from mistakes.

*Sleepy iPad scrolling. More talking about Josh Groban. Here’s the song I talk about where his voice becomes part of the instrumental. I really think that’s one of my favorites.

*Finally come to my senses and wrap it up. I also mess up a New Year blessing haha!

New Year’s Eve Part2

I was up when B got back. Just after I stopped recording, fireworks started and there were a lot of people outside the hotel. When I took Jayden out I couldn’t believe how cold it was! Wow. When I asked Siri she said, “brrrr, it’s twenty-two degrees.” B and I talked about the show and then I tried to sleep and failed miserably.

The next morning I woke up way too early and sat on the strange uncomfortable couch waiting for B to get up. Even he couldn’t sleep late. That hotel was so noisy!

We took our time getting ready and headed out to the Grand Canyon. I was sneezing a lot and wished I had taken some of the cold meds I brought with us. The Canyon was about an hour and a half from the hotel. On the road leading to the Canyon, there was suddenly a huge heard of elk! Do they roam in heards? Is it spelled that way? Hmmm.
Anyway, B had exclaimed, “deer! Wait, those are too big to be deer.”

“Are they elk?” I asked.

He said I was probably right and explained that a few crossed the road and several were on the side grazing on grass. Cool!

We parked and found the restroom and I had a total panic attack in there because it had hand dryers that sounded like freaking wind tunnels and they hurt my ears and Jayden was affected by them too and holy crap it was good to get out of there.

We made our way to where B could see the canyon and I listened to all the accents around us and children and different bird sounds. It was very cold and breezy. I did not feel well. There was much more walking than I had expected. I mean it’s a huge hole in the ground. It doesn’t seem like you should have to walk very much to find an edge. It had been sixteen years since I’d been there so couldn’t remember. I wanted to get to a good spot to get a picture with Jayden and me in front of the canyon but it was going to involve steps and there were too many people and yeah. Blah.

I snapped some pictures with my iPhone and sent one to Twitter and apparently it was lovely. Let me see if I can find the tweet. Ok I can’t find it so I asked Twitter. Might just have to upload it again. I should really figure out Word Press pictures haha. Here’s the picture. Thanks, @L_Squared!

So I just got sicker and sicker as we went back to the hotel. I collapsed for a bit and then we started trying to figure out food. The only two places that were open on New Year’s Day were The Outback and Sizzler. Sizzler? They still have those? That was my first ever job. I was a salad bar keeper. Fried shrimp entered my brain and that was all I could think about. So we went there and there was actually a huge snow drift in the parking lot! I had my fried shrimp but I was so miserable I hardly remember it. Bread pudding for dessert. I thought a rap in my head: I had dinner, at the Sizzler with my mister, on New year’s Day, while I had a fever. Wow. Um. Yeah hi. I won’t quit my day job. Oh wait, I don’t have one.

We went back to the hotel and I did some packing up and crashed. That was pretty much it! It was a really good time and I’m glad we did it. I felt pretty good there in Flagstaff, minus being sick of course. It was like how I felt better in Colorado. High elevation and cold, I tell ya. I used to think I’d like to live in Flagstaff but I don’t think so. Just too cold and there’s an odd feeling there. Just like in Sedona when I went with B several years ago. We both feel it in northern Arizona. Just an odd feeling. It’s a nice place to visit though!

Happy 2014 everyone! I hope you enjoyed the audio if you listened.

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2nd Annual Center of the Roof Top Ten Book List

(Links open in a new window so you won’t lose your place in the list. Links to Audible and Amazon when applicable for each book are found in the title links. Links links links.)

How is it time for the end of year book post? Didn’t I just post last year’s? I honestly don’t know where 2013 went but I’m glad to see it go. I had some good times though, going to Colorado to visit Chupa, going with B to Phoenix to see the Rays, making more amazing friends online and the books, especially the books! Audible introduced a daily deal as well as their usual sales so my reading increased this year. Yay books! There were a total of seventy-one this year, up from fifty-nine last year.

It seems to have been the year of the series as you’ll notice below. It was much easier to compile this list since I kept better track this year and instituted my rating system. I had nine “marriage material” rated books so I had to choose one from seventeen “so good!” rated books to fit the tenth slot. I thought it would be rather difficult but as I went through, the decision was made simple. So without further adieu, I give you the Roof’s Second Annual Top Ten Book List!

10. “The Company: A Novel of the CIA” by Robert Littell – narrated by Scott Brick

“The Company” is an awesome CIA book recommended to me by my friend Ricardo. It was so good! It follows the lives of four men as they leave college and enter life in The Company. I’ve never been into books about espionage but this one turned me on to stories in that realm.

I got so invested in these characters since we meet them when they’re young and impressionable and follow them into their careers with the CIA. Are they all on the side of the US? I should have written this up much sooner. I finished it at the end of May. I just remember it seemed non-stop, something always happening. There was a lot I found familiar since I read a book about Area 51. I feel like I’m learning more about the past from books than I ever did in school; how sad is that?

You know what else is sad? When I wrote that post, Audible had taken down the unabridged version of the book. I checked just now and they are showing an unabridged version but it’s the same length as the abridged version. Do you smell fish? I do. I wouldn’t bother with a sixteen hour version of this book. The one I read was epic and long and awesome. Shame on Audible for taking it down!

9.“The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck – narrated by Dylan Baker

Whoa, I was still using an iPod to listen to books when I reviewed this back in February haha! Just a funny (to me) aside.

This book was incredible. Not only did it capture a dreadful time in American history, it did so with simple but poetic writing and characters you want to root for.

“Grapes of Wrath” got my blood boiling a lot. I suppose a book with the word wrath in the title has achieved its purpose if it makes one’s blood boil, right? The story follows the Joad family as they are kicked off their farm and forced to move west to California. Why were they kicked off their farm you ask? The dust bowl ruined their crops so the bank decided it could turn a better profit if it kicked the farmers off the land and replaced them all with tractors.

This book was hard to listen to and not because of the narrator, who did a fabulous job, rather because of the subject matter. Those people had to travel across the States with everything they owned strapped to their cars, burying their dead along the way. They were honest working folks who’s land was ruined and people on the west coast hated them for it. Ah, sometimes that’s just the American way I guess. ‘Grapes’ was very very good and I recommend anyone read it though I certainly couldn’t read it more than once like I do with a lot of books I like. The post I wrote on the book was very cynical and wrathful indeed.

8. “Jack of Diamonds” by Bryce Courtenay – narrated by Humphrey Bower

How about another Ricardo recommendation? I can’t remember if he specifically recommended this or if I just got it since I loved Courtenay’s Australian Trilogy last year. Rest in Peace, Mr. Courtenay. Your stories will be missed.

I am so so so sad that we will not receive anymore fabulous stories and wonderful characters from the one and only Bryce Courtenay. I suppose I am lucky since this is only the fourth book I’ve read by him so I still have plenty more to indulge in. When “Jack of Diamonds” was over I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to the characters, knowing they wouldn’t appear in future books.

In “Jack of Diamonds”, we follow the life of Jack Spayd from his modest Canadian upbringing during the Depression with an alcoholic father and loving mother all the way to his adventures in South Africa as an adult. One could tell Courtenay meant this to be a few books, but knew he would die before he could write any more so he wrapped up the story in a way that was faithful to all the characters. It was a wonderful book filled with music, laughter, drama and love. And will the bird be ok?

Humphrey Bower narrates this as well as all of Courtenay’s books and he’s brilliant! I think I listened to another narrator to rival his talents though. Stay tuned!

7. “Truth in Advertising” by John Kenny – narrated by Robert Petkoff

I found this book since I’m a fan of William Landay and he and Kenny are friends. Lucky me! This book was fabulous. I didn’t know what to expect going in to it and I’m glad I didn’t. I didn’t say much about it in the original post so as not to spoil the overall feeling of it for anyone else and I’ll stick to that here.

Oh side note, if I hadn’t had some sort of career in medicine back in the day, I was also interested in marketing and advertising, so I thoroughly enjoyed that aspect of this book. Man this book was awesome! Definitely making the year end top ten list, no doubt.

I just remember feeling affected at the end of the book and that is always a good sign. The advertising aspects of it were great but it went so much deeper. Such a good book! I hear it has also been optioned for a movie. It will make a good movie methinks. Oh man I hope they do the baby scene!

6. “The Gypsey Morph” (The Genesis of Shannara Book 3) by Terry Brooks – narrated by Phil Gigante

This was the third book in a trilogy but I didn’t write them up in one trilogy post for some reason so this book gets the nod for all three. I loved this trilogy! I used to not be one for fantasy and such but my reading tastes have grown and evolved over the years. I think I have audio books to thank for that.

If you’re a fan of stories of magic and fantasy, I definitely recommend. If you don’t think you’re a fan, why not try it? Man, I’m getting sad all over again thinking about all the characters I’ve left behind. I suppose they’ll stay alive in my Audible library though, just like how the elves were kept alive in the elf stone…

Reading through the posts I’ve written on these books makes me want to go back and revisit the stories. Ah, so good! So magical and evil and wonderful!

5. The Joe Ledger Novels by Jonathan Maberry – narrated by Ray Porter

Ah, Joe Ledger! What up? I’ve missed you, man. I think you’re coming back to us next year? I hope so! This series is another one I have to thank Ricardo for. He finds the best books! If you click the link to the post, you’ll find links inside that one to the six books that are out. There’s actually only five Ledger books out but the sixth is a collection of Ledger short stories that tie up some loose ends. Man, thinking about these books makes me crave more of that characterarc!

There was no stopping me once I started the series. I had no desire to read anything else. I wanted to just keep hanging out with Joe Ledger and Mr. Church and Rudy Sanches and Top and Bunny and oddities oh my!

I flew threw these books, unable to put them down.

Oh, if you don’t like blood and gore, be forewarned. There are some very graphic scenes in every book. The action rarely stops so there’s a lot of blood. But, there’s also a service dog! How’s that for perfect? He’s so cool!

Oh and Ray Porter? Excellent narrator! He nails the badass tones during fights and then almost makes you cry when Ledger is feeling emotional. I’ve looked up Porter’s other books, he’s that good.

I did read one other book narrated by Ray Porter. I’ll sneak the link to that post in.

If you click the link to the Joe Ledger post, you’ll find comments from the author himself! How cool is that?

4. “The Cider House Rules” by John Irving – narrated by Grover Gardner

You know, the best part of writing Top Ten posts is revisiting my favorite books of the year. After I go and read through my post on the book I sit for a minute remembering. Happy making!

This book was narrated by Grover Gardner and I love him. He’s definitely one of my favorite narrators and he was a big reason I got this book. I swear if I ever write a book, I’m going to be incredibly picky about who narrates.

This book follows the life of an orphan named Homer Wells, brought up in an orphanage during the early 1900’s. Expectant mothers would come to the orphanage to have one of two things, an orphan, or an abortion.

Even though the subject matter was so serious, the underlying humor and Gardner’s delivery of it made me laugh out loud several times. Homer is such a lovable character and I still find myself thinking of him when I say, “right” during a conversation.

Right. Bah hahaha! Hahaha! Why have I not read any any more John Irving books? I need to remedy that in 2014, methinks. His humor is just too good. I’ve always been fond of dark comedy.

Oh! At the end of ‘Cider’, there’s some really good author’s notes. Apparently John Irving’s father was a doctor which was partly what inspired this book. I just love author’s notes! I highly recommend this book if you can stomach the subject matter.

3. The North and South Trilogy by John Jakes – narrated by Grover Gardner

Oh I’m having feelings and I haven’t read through the post on this yet. Ok, deep breath. Hey, back-to-back Grover Gardner. I didn’t plan that. That’s kinda cool. Ok Ro, you’re avoiding reading the post. Go.

*Sigh*

I can’t even, there’s just nothing I can write about it today. I’ll leave you with some quotes from the post.

*sigh*

Oh my I mean oh my seriously I can’t even I mean how do I write about this trilogy?

Did you ever see the North and South mini series with Patrick Swayze? I’ve always told people that my knowledge of the Civil War consisted only of what I remember from watching that in high school. See my high school didn’t know how to teach history. They just had us watch North and South and Roots and The Last of the Mohicans. All great, but shouldn’t school be about book learning?

The first book, “North and South” is about the time leading up to the {Civil} war. We meet the Main and Hazard families and begin to follow their lives. The Mains are a southern rice plantation family and the Hazards are northern iron workers. The two families come together when young Orry Main and George Hazard meet on the way to West Point. I immediately feared that at some point during the war, Orry and George would meet on the battlefield.

Each book is very long so I spent a lot of time with these people. Just after I started the first book, I got a bluetooth speaker for my iPhone so I started listening to my books with the Audible app. The speaker made it all very portable so I did a lot of listening while moving about the house. These two families became a part of my life, every single member. Even the bad ones, and oh yes some were bad. This trilogy had two of the best written villains I think I have ever encountered. I found myself questioning my love for humans when I wished some of the things I wished on these people. Good thing they were fictional.

Oh, those villains! *Shakes fist* Deplorable human beings they were.

Oh, this trilogy! And wouldn’t you know, I actually got Ricardo to read them instead of the other way around? We got to discuss the villains. Terrible no good people! Ok I should really move on. I feel like I need some sorbet to cleanse my emotions first haha!

2. The Grimnoir Chronicles by Larry Correia – narrated by Bronson Pinchot

Any guesses as to who recommended this? Who else. Thanks Ricardo! First of all,

Honestly, whoever wrote the summaries for these books did them a vast disservice in my opinion. A private detective who uses magic? Um, isn’t there already a hugely popular series of books like that? The book just didn’t sound appealing to me at all. However Ricardo has never recommended a book I didn’t like and it was a daily deal so I took a chance. Oh thank goodness I did!

I’m not sure I’ve ever read a publisher’s summary that was so off the mark for a series of books. I’ve searched on Twitter for readers and fans of the series and they are hard to find which makes me sad. This series was simply fabulous!

“Hard Magic” begins when a farmer is annoyed by yet another car full of “Okies” comes by looking for work. I read “Grapes of Wrath” earlier this year so that immediately placed the time setting of the book for me during the Dust Bowl era. The farmer notices a scrawny teenaged girl in the car with grey eyes and against his better judgement,decides to intervene on the girl’s behalf since he recognizes her as having a special magical power that kills most before they reach adulthood. It’s a good thing he decided to take her under his wing. She quickly became my favorite character. Faye Vierra! I adore you!

I became rather obsessed with Faye haha! She’s one of the most fun characters I’ve ever read.

I soon realized I had been transported to an alternate history, this one full of all sorts of magical powers and interesting characters mixed with real people from that time. If a name sounded familiar, chances are looking it up would lead me to a Wikipedia page about that person and their life. Examples are John Moses Browning, Jay Edgar Hoover himself and Raymond Chandler, to name just a few.

Oh and there are airships, did I mention airships? Yeah, remember how I feel about the Leviathan series by Scott Westerfeld? The Grimnoir Chronicles is the Leviathan series on steroids! By the time the first book was over I was giggling and applauding and I couldn’t wait for the next one.

Remember above when I mentioned a narrator who could give Humphrey Bower a run for his money?

The narration? Bravo! Bronson Pinchot does so many different voices and accents, from the deep slow voice of Jake to the soft accented voice of Faye to the odd and creepy Pale Horse and on and on, he was brilliant! It wasn’t until I was grabbing links for this post a couple days ago that I read he played Balki on Perfect Strangers! You could have knocked me over with a feather! Luckily he narrates the whole series.

This series is full of heart pounding battles with weapons from guns and swords to all sorts of magic you’ve never even dreamed of!

I couldn’t help but think about my dad when we went to see Independence Day all those years ago. He pointed out how frustrating it was that everything they seemed to try failed. Not everything goes perfectly four our heroes in these books either.

One of the best characters introduced in “Warbound” is the thirties version of Hannibal Lecter. Creepy! There was what I think of as an X-Files reference with this black oil stuff that made my stomach turn.

Some of these scenes could be straight out of a screen play they are so well written. You can literally see the action happening. One of my favorite mental images was of a fragile origami duck in the palm of an armored suit.

I simply adored this trilogy! I don’t think I have ever finished a trilogy and then immediately began reading book one again like I did with this one. When it was over I just wanted to peak back at how it began. I honestly didn’t think I would listen to all three books again but that is exactly what I did. There were little details I had missed the first time as well as some things that became clear the second time through since I was in pain, on drugs and grieving the first time through. I think that’s another reason I didn’t want to let the trilogy go. It had been a huge comfort to me through what was probably the most difficult few weeks of this year.

Thank you so much, Mr. Correia! You helped me through some really bad times. Oh, and I’d like a Grimnoir ring, please and thank you.

1. “The Fault in our Stars” by John Green – narrated by Kate Rudd

Just leaned my head back and had a moment of quiet reflection about this book before going to read my post on it. I knew about halfway through the book that it was going to get the number one spot on this list. It was going to take something phenomenal to bump it and nothing did. This book was sheer emotion for me from start to finish. I laughed and giggled and sobbed, oh did I sob. I haven’t read the post on it yet. The movie just finished filming and luckily John Green was rather active in it so I hope it’s wonderful. When the movie poster was released, my friend @MandaGator described it to me and I got choked up all over again. Here’s the poster.

I’m not sure I would have gotten TFIOS if it hadn’t been a daily deal. I abbreviated the title because John Green himself does too. How do I know this? At the end of the book, there was an interview with John Green and he mentioned Twitter so as I lay in bed, tears drying on my cheeks, I looked him up on my phone.

This book centers around teenagers so I suppose it could be classified as a young adult novel but that certainly doesn’t mean adults won’t enjoy it, I mean I am an adult. Sorta. I try and stay young emotionally. Not young emotionally, you know what I mean. anyway, Hazel Grace oh wait she only likes when Augustus uses her middle name, Hazel is a sixteen year old girl who has ben fighting terminal cancer. The book is written from her point of view and I love it right from the get go because she talks about how her story isn’t going to focus on the typical cancer kid book stuff.

I knew I’d end up bawling at the end of this book and I was not wrong. I loved loved loved this book! Right now it’s definitely getting the top spot on this year’s top ten list. It’s rare that a book touches deep emotions and this one surely did. From the awfulness of cancer which I’ve experienced, not in myself *knock on wood* but with my mom and B’s mom, to the having major limitations when you’re young and all you want to do is live, to the love of books and boys and music and America’s Next Top Model…

There is a lump forming in my throat.

I’m all glowing inside remembering it and how it made me feel and how the characters knew exactly what it’s like to be me. John Green, thank you! Audible, thank you! Oh and the movie just wrapped filming. John Green was at the filming so I know this because of his tweets. I want to say I won’t watch the movie since the voices will be all wrong and I’m not sure I want to feel the flood of emotion again but I know I’ll watch it. Oh, I miss you Hazel! I miss you Augustus! You’ll be back in the movie! Yay!

The teens in this book just “got me”, you know? I mean they understand. I understood them. I wasn’t just listening to this book, I was transported into it, like that Aha video from the eighties or something. I was there with Hazel and Augustus at the bones and on the plane and I watched them in the convenient store parking lot. I fell in love with them and when it was over I felt like they all died. But they are all still with me in my heart because a little bit of my life seemed to have been in each one of them. I’m close to sobbing again.

Oh! Wait! Kate Rudd, bravo! Wonderful job narrating this book! Hazel’s friend with the slightly European accent? Haha! Great job! Ok why am I writing that as if I’m writing it to Kate? This book, it just makes me gush!

They just aren’t going to sound right in the movie I know it! Ok, stop it with the contempt prior to investigation, Ro. I can’t wait for the movie so I can be with these people again! This book is the pure definition of my marriage material rating.

We aren’t done yet! From the cutting room floor:

Honorable Mentions

“Doctor Sleep” by Stephen King – narrated by Will Patton

What an excellent book “Doctor Sleep” is! I don’t think I have ever literally applauded when an audio book was done. I certainly did with this one. It was after King’s afterword and the way he ended it, in his own voice, made me squeal with delight, clap my hands and bounce on the couch. So so so so good!

*I’m surprised I couldn’t fit this in to a top ten spot so it gets the first honorable mention. Oh and I’m still a little scared of Joe Maddon now, thanks Mr. King.

“The Cuckoo’s Calling” by Robert Galbraith aka J. K. Rowling – narrated by Robert Glenister

I really really really hope the character of Cormoran Strike in this book returns in future books. Rowling? Are you hearing me? I want more!

*Rowling works magic with a detective story!

“Stay Close” by Harlan Coben – narrated by Scott Brick

The “supporting cast” was excellent as well. Ok, Ken and Barbie, can you say creepy? What is up with those two? I mean seriously, what is up with them? *Shiver*

*Trust me, that book is not about dolls.

“Sharp Objects” by Gillian Flynn – narrated by Ann Marie Lee

Gillian Flynn, I don’t know whether to hug you or slap you. Where do the things in your head come from? Cancel that. I don’t want to know.

*Teeth. *Whimper*

“A Game of Thrones” (A Song of Ice and Fire book 1) by George R. R. Martin – narrated by Roy Dotrice

I can’t even begin to try and describe the plot because it’s so detailed and intricately woven together. Basically there’s a king and that family and a lord and that family and they marry this family and those families hate each other and then there’s this other family that is pretty much all dead way over there and it’s only hinted at what that family’s relation is to these other families and then you have this wall, this gigantic wall and there are bad things on the other side so the men of the black have to guard it and winter is coming. Winter is coming. Winter is coming.

*Whadda huh? Yeah pretty much. I’m on the third book in the series and still loving it.

“Harvest” by Tess Gerritsen – narrated by George Guidall

This book had so many twists I almost felt sea sick. You naturally root for Abby and one thing after another happens to her so you find yourself groaning as yet another force holds her down.

*The title is not referring to a pretty moon or fall festival.

“Deadly Straits” by R. E. McDermott – narrated by Todd Haberkorn

His character is quite funny and sarcastic and a bit of a jerk, but he’d be the first one to admit that. I fell for him instantly.

*McDermott is a self published author who actually went to the trouble of making his books available in audio format. Yay!

***Special Mention****

“The Bone Season” by Samantha Shannon – narrated by Alana Kerr

I made that comparison to Harry Potter since it seems Shannon’s series and even her writing are being compared to J. K. Rowling and her magical world and I honestly cannot fathom the comparison. Saying “The Bone Season” is like Harry Potter is like saying baseball and basketball are similar because both balls are round.

*This is Samantha Shannon’s debut novel, written when she was only twenty-one. I think her next books are going to be pretty incredible!

They never made it within a mile of the cutting room:

Dishonorable Mentions

“Relic” (Pendergast, Book 1) by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child – narrated by David Colacci

This book is getting my equivalent of 1 out of 5 stars. I think the narration and production are a big reason why. Good narraters tend to make you forget about plot holes and idiot characters.

*Totally wanted that woman to get eaten in the exhibit.

“Jaws” by Peter Benchley – narrated by Erik Steele

For me the only likable character was the shark.

*Can the shark eat the girl from “Relic”?

“The Hunt for Red October” by Tom Clancy – narrated by J. Charles

Clancy should probably take some of the blame since he laid down a huge chunk of the plot way too soon. You know immediately what the Russian captain of the submarine, The Red October, is up to. The whole first half of the book gives background on characters and lays out exactly how the captain plans to accomplish his goal. This all might have been interesting but the horrible narration just kept distracting me.

*And it would have been fine if it hadn’t been for that horrible meddling narrator. It was so bad I had to include an audio file of me in the post.

“Strangers” by Dean Koontz – Narrated by Dick Hill

By the time I reached the end and had all the mysteries explained I just didn’t care.

*Whoa, I had forgotten that Ricardo recommended this. He has more than made up for it!

And that does it for 2013, phew! That was a lot of fun to write. I hope it was fun to read. Last year several people told me about books they bought based on the list so I hope I’ve given you some good recommendations.

Here’s hoping 2014 brings us all health and happiness and great books!

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Filed under 2013 Book List, Amazon, apple Inc, Audio books, family, fellowship, iPhone, misty eyes, new year, twitter me this

FREEQ and Desert Bus

I almost included this as a random happy in yesterday’s post but then realized it could be its own post for today, saving me some brain freeze trying to think of something to write haha!

I ran across a tweet yesterday about a game company and what they learned while making their game on iOS accessible to the blind. Here’s the post and it’s a fabulous read. Thanks Ricardo, for retweeting that.

The game is called FREEQ and it’s mostly an audio game, but when some blind iOS gamers heard about it, they were disappointed that the interface wasn’t accessible. So they contacted the developers as blind people tend to do and asked if the game could maybe be made accessible.

The developers were like what? Blind people use iOS devices? What? How? The normal questions haha! They did their research and were like you know what? Let’s not leave the blind people in the dark on this. It’ll be hard work but we can do it. How cool is that? Click that link; it’s good stuff!

The post mentions AppleVis, a huge community of blind and low vision Apple users. When I’m considering an app or a kind of app, I google whatever I need and always include AppleVis in the search. I’m also a member there; it’s an excellent community. So I found the AppleVis post on FREEQ after I read about the game and based on that and the desire to support the developers, I downloaded the game this morning. I haven’t spent much time with it but it sounds fun and different.

I just love it when developers *want* to make their stuff accessible, instead of feeling like they *have* to. Yay!

Random Happy

This morning I ran across this article about a boring game raising money for children. How perfect to include in a post about a video game. The stars aligned for me and today’s post haha! Anyway, turns out the game was made by Penn and Teller as a joke and it involves driving a bus on a boring stretch of road from Tucson to Las Vegas. That’s the game. And now it raises money for kids. What? Click the link. It’s awesome!

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Filed under accessibility, apple Inc, cool product, gratitude, in the news, NaBloPoMo 2013, plugs, silly girl, twitter me this