Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Buy Local

Hi Mrs. B,

So, I figured that on an unusual day, I'd talk to you about an unusual topic. Unfortunately, I didn't think to hold off on writing to you about Miss Peregrine and the Home for Peculiar Children for today. (Darn me and my missed opportunity... ::shaking my fist at the sky::) So, I don't know how often you think about this, but it's something that came up recently in a conversation I was having with my mother: is it just as important to buy local authors and artists as it is to buy local produce?

Happy Birthday, Leap Year Babies!

Hi Mrs. B.

I was baking again and I just want to share:

This is what happens when you don't have the right pan for the job, I suppose. What should have been one cake came out as two and rather than layer it, I decided to give something a try: a peanut butter pound cake, frosted two ways.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Peculiarity -- an Odd Angle Favorite

Hey Mrs. B.,

I've been doing a little traveling and a little reading the last week; sorry I've been so quiet. I think I've fallen in love, though, with Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.

It's a really brilliantly thought-out story, and something I can honestly say feels both familiar and fantastically original. Ransom Riggs tells a story using and inspired by old photographs. The familiar is that I can say that I've tried to come up with stories behind photos before, but never something like this. Usually it's me pouring over old family photographs trying to figure out what Uncle Mike was saying to Aunt Michelle at just the wrong (or right, depending on what the outcome was) moment to have the image come out that way. Because pictures do tell stories, even if the words are lost.

But Riggs' story goes far further than any typical family photo montage would.

The main character Jacob has grown up seeing a series of photos shown to him by his grandfather, photos he refuses to believe are real as he gets older and stories about a children's home and the boys and girls he met there: a girl too light for gravity to keep her down, a boy who lives with bees inside him, another girl who could hold fire in her hands and many others, all watched over by a "wise old bird." But reality turns out to be far stranger than any picture could capture. One with secrets kept in an abandoned building on an island off the coast of Wales.

I've been wanting to read this book for a while, now. I'm a long-time reader of, where the author is (was?) a contributor. I bought it for myself as an early Christmas present (and to get the free shipping through Amazon), but was in the middle of another book when it got here. And I've kept shuffling books around hoping to get to it. Well, I brought it with me on my trip last week, thinking that since I forgot the currently open book somewhere (oops) and between that at Game of Thrones, I was most likely to make it through Miss Peregrine before I found myself with three (or more!) open and unfinshed books.

See, Mrs. B.? I'm trying to learn from my past mistakes.

I absolutely loved this book, Mrs. B.

There's just one thing I don't get: why do I keep hitting the "respect your elders" books this year? Is there a message my subconscious is trying to tell me through my book choices?

Much love,

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Writing Monkey on My Back

Hi Mrs. B,

It's been a long week. I'm sorry I've been so quiet. February never seems to be as easy as I hope it will be. Somewhere between Groundhog Day and the end of the month I just get lost. Goals and plans fall apart and I'm left wondering just what the Hades happened.

For example, the plan I had to write a note to you on Tuesday.

And here we are Saturday night.

But, it's not just the blog.

I had this crazy idea I'd also work on what I was calling a "MiniNaNo" -- well, a friend of mine was calling it that. I don't know if we've talked about it before, but I'm a big fan of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November. I've been doing it the last five years, but I report mostly under another name. But that's another story for another time.

Anyway, I thought, February is a short month, I'll do a short NaNo. Finish up a story I need done and out of my head. 

Easy Peasy.

I forgot a few of the cardinal rules of NaNo that are part of what makes NaNo ... well, NaNo. First and foremost, it's only new work. This -- and I'm tentatively calling it "Red"  -- is not. I've been nibbling away at this story since January of last year, although I haven't done much of anything on it since just before last November, since I don't want to break rule 1 at NaNo, it's usually something fresh. Second, when I NaNo, it's typically a community thing. I have people to talk with, commiserate with, to encourage and encourage me. This is decidedly more solitary (and, trust me, I'm feeling lonely).

There's also something that really encourages me by egging on the geek in me: watching the graphs go up.

So, I'm not sure how to encourage myself to get a move on, because I really need to get it done, but all I've been able to do is start putting into the document some of the notes I wrote myself here and there in October. I haven't done any new work, trying to get Red back into my head. It doesn't help that I've been way too tired to get cracking at night this month. (Darn you, Winter!!)

Part of me knows what you'd say. "Stop procrastinating, Angle. And writing me a long letter about how you can't write is procrastinating." But, I also know you'd offer me advice. I just don't know what your advice might be. Which is why I *am* writing you.

How do I get this writing monkey off my back? How do I shake off the midwinter doldrums?

Any suggestions?

--as always--

PS: I am keeping up on my reading, I just don't have much to report at the moment. Hopefully, I'll get back to you soon. -OA

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Where in the World is... Katniss?

Hi Mrs. B.,

So, I've had a few questions following the reading of the first two Hunger Games books (I still haven't started the third one, but soon. I promise.). One of the very big questions I've had about the the books is the geography of the rest of Panem. We know the area Katniss lives in used to be Appalachia and the Capital was once Denver, but those are the only places that are identified by name (unless there's something in book three that I haven't seen yet). This has left me wondering and puzzling just where the other districts are in relation to a current map of the US (I've had the same questions with Forest of Hands and Teeth,after that old newspaper was found, but we'll talk about that some other time). It looks like I'm not alone. This blogger, taking the clues we're given in the story, made a map and describes the process of how they came to set the map up that way.

Have a look. It's a pretty cool.



Saturday, February 4, 2012

Judging a Book by Its Cover: Silk

Hi Mrs. B,

So, this was a book I read last year, a purchase that my SO got me, entirely based on the back of the book. I'm not talking about the excerpt or the summary. It was one single quote. Just like we talked about before, a single quote can make or break a reader on a book.

Silk by Caitlin R. Kiernan is a pretty amazing read. Very, very dark.