Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012 Year in Review



2012’s theme was to Dream Big. I can’t say that I did that because everything I’ve done and accomplished were all realistic and planned out.

I launched two new blogs.

Library Hopping in PDX” (with Carly) made me appreciate libraries even more with how much they do for the community, and for me. In fact, because they offered free classes, they helped me with a personal milestone- becoming a citizen! I feel I have more of a voice to shape the world (or, at least this country) for the better. Getting to vote during my first election was truly a thrill.

The Chronicles Of A Children’s Book Writer” has been a great way to share my passion of children’s literature. I’ve gotten to know interesting people through the popular meme “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” (IMWAYR). It’s kind of an incredible feeling to know people out there are actually reading words I write/type. It’s also been hard work and a continuing learning experience to maintain a blog.

In other book-related news, I became a Friends of the Multnomah County Library board member. I’m always going to try and help libraries any way I can. This year in particular, there have been lots to do. I’m glad I was part of making library history by voting it to form its own district. I recently just took on chairing the Membership and Marketing committee so I’m excited for that challenge!

I also participated in World Book Night- in which I rode the streetcars and handed people copies of one of my favorite books, “The Kite Runner.”

I got laid off in May. Working at McKenzie Books and Cash4Books for over 3 years had been wonderful. Lots of people there have become friends. I’m glad I left there on a positive note.

 It’s funny how what may seem like a bad thing at the time is actually a blessing in disguise. One of the best things to come out of getting laid off was getting to spend a wonderful summer of service. My original volunteering goal was 100 for the year and I’m ending at 315 hours! Some of the highlights include participating in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Weekend of Service, being a Volunteer Leader for The Children’s Book Bank, participating in Hands On TeamWorks, being a volunteer for Multnomah County Library’s Summer Reading program, and Potluck in the Park’s Christmas Dinner.

I got a job at Green Bean Books. I couldn’t have asked for anything better! I love bookselling. I’m never more in my element than talking about books and finding the right one for a particular reader! I love the other things I get (and have gotten) to do like holding author events, selling books at Wordstock, meeting authors who come in the store, getting to know the customers, and making shelftalkers, mustaches, snow globes, and jack-in-the-boxes. I’ve been inspired to be creative while working there which was one reason I finally finished the Christmas Cards I originally conceived of four years ago!

I moved out from my studio and into a house with four other people. That was quite a change for me but, as I’ve come to realize, the people in my life are just a wonderful and crazy cast of characters who support me and make me happy. A lot of my goals, I couldn’t have done without family and friends supporting me. Without them, things probably wouldn’t be as fun. Some festive moments over this past year included parties, volunteering, my birthday, the holidays, “summer of spark,” and of course Library Hopping.

Once again, I’ve had to say goodbye to people who’ve gone too soon.  It doesn’t get any easier. I still miss them and try to honor them by trying to be nicer and just having an open heart.

With recent horrific events in the news, I hope no one ever has to feel so alone that they'll ever consider doing something drastic to themselves or others. Or, that if they're going through something, I hope they have someone to go to to help them. Maybe if we're a little bit kinder to everyone certain things will be avoided. And that in the face of unbearable sadness we can be there for one another.

In a way, I can relate to feeling like an outsider. For the longest time, I was struggling with who I was, how I fit in, and whether I would be accepted. But I made a huge step in the right direction of living a life that was most authentic to me. It wasn't the end of the world- neither was December 21, apparently! In fact, life got better because it was one less thing I had to worry about.
I don’t know if it’s all this planning ahead but I love this feeling of excitement. I’m so looking forward to 2013. It’s going to be great. It’s going to be TRIUMPHANT!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Your Feedback, Please



First of all, I would like to say thank you to everyone who’s ever bothered to read anything I’ve ever written- my blog posts, in particular- and for being supportive of my dream of becoming a writer.

And, really, that’s the thing I don’t understand: why anyone would believe I have what it takes to be a writer when I haven’t proved that I can. If I heard that from someone and it’s been as long as it has with nothing to show for it, I would seriously doubt that person’s dedication.

Why is it I can tell people what is the best thing for them do (and I often do even when it’s not asked for!) but I can’t convince myself to just write and get something written even if it’s just a rough draft? I guess that’s why I’m asking you or your feedback.

Some questions to consider…

Why are you supportive of my dream of becoming a writer?
a.       Because you’re naturally going to encourage everything I do because I’m your family/friend
b.      Because it’s what I say I want and you want me to be happy
c.       Because you believe everyone who has a dream should go for it

Why aren’t you supportive of my dream of becoming a writer?
a.       Because I’m all talk
b.      Because it’s not really what I want to/should be doing
c.       Because I’m not talented

Why do you think I can write when I haven’t shared anything?
What do you think I should be writing?
What do you think I can add to the literary scene?
What can I do to improve on my strengths and weaknesses?
What do you think I should be doing besides/instead of writing?

Be honest since I am asking for your feedback and therefore I am ready for the good and the bad. I truly value your input. Elaborate. Be specific. I really have a problem taking anything seriously when it sounds like a generic comment. And, I’m neither fishing for compliments nor just getting kicks off being criticized.

You can email me your answers at EA12L @ HOTMAIL . COM (No spaces, of course.) Again, thank you.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Disney Animated Films Ranked from Best to Worst



About a year or so ago, I decided to watch all the Disney animated films in reverse chronological order. I don't know why I added that particular rule. Perhaps it was to force myself to watch the newer movies first?

It's interesting to see how Pinocchio actually surpassed The Sword in the Stone as my favorite movie. I don't think I had rewatched Pinocchio since I was 5 years old- or even younger. I definitely wore out our VHS copy of it. I guess I didn't want to ruin my memory of it. If I had watched it again and didn't like it, it would have felt like saying goodbye to another part of my childhood, when everything still seemed wonderful and magical.

But, I'm digressing, spiraling. Watching these films- some for the first time, some who knows how many times- reminded me that the world is indeed still full of possibilities and creativity. Our dreams define so much of who we were and who we are and, though they may be different, is what connects us to others.

Walt Disney is one of my Imagination Icons.

I tweeted my thoughts after watching each one so I've included those along with the ranking.

(5 Stars)
PINOCCHIO since is as full of wonder and magic as I remember. (Way better than Snow White)
Rewatching my fave #Disneymovie of all time- THE SWORD IN THE STONE. A feel-good movie w/great characters & wonderful story! I love it!
THE LION KING is classic #Disney Even after all these years, the story, songs & art still stand out
THE LITTLE MERMAID. The story and songs are #classic.
 ALADDIN. Great story & songs.
 I remember not liking BEAUTY & THE BEAST but rewatching it for my #Disney Challenge I was totally captivated by the story
How can you go wrong w/ ALICE IN WONDERLAND? Fun, fantastic, whimsical wordplay galore!
For all its faults, BAMBI truly is a classic film. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, or remembered. Very artistic.
101 DALMATIANS is a 1derful #Disney film! Artsy, stylish. Gr8 characters & some of the meanest meanies ever!
PETER PAN is hard not to like. Truly a #Disney classic filled w/all the magic & wonder we come to expect!
SNOW WHITE is truly an accomplishment in animation! (Found her voice annoying!)
FANTASIA - A fun great way to combine music & art for the whole family! (Too long!)
#‎BIGHERO6‬ was so good, I would watch it again! Action-packed scenes and emotional moments provide a satisfying movie! ‪#‎DisneyChallenge‬
THE ARISTOCATS is another great #Disney film. The kittens were adorable. The mouse sounded like Winnie-the-Pooh!
ROBIN HOOD has definitely made my top #Disney animated movies. A fun family film with great characters!
MULAN is classic #Disney w/ a strong story, memorable songs, laughter, action, & heart.
Impressed w/ #Disney 's POCAHONTAS! Strong story & characters. The music fit in w/ the movie so well. Truly #Classic

(4 Stars)
While singing mice are creepy & we have yet another mute prince, CINDERELLA is classic.
 LILO & STITCH is a surprisingly good movie. Liked the original story & animation choices. Welcome back, #Disney !
TARZAN was surprisingly good- despite the Phil Collins songs. Great animation. Fascinating story. Wouldn't mind watching again.
Didn't think I'd like THE PRINCESS & THE FROG but I did. Unexpected turns made this movie shine. Makes you believe again.
OLIVER & COMPANY was a good #Disney film even if it didn't make 100% sense & too short. Good music, characters. Interesting illustrations.
THE GREAT MOUSE DETECTIVE was a fun #Disney film, a great homage to Sherlock Holmes. Wish there were more!
Just watched TANGLED. Disney hasn't lost all its magic. Great, creative storytelling that inspires. I want to watch them all now.
THE EMPEROR'S NEW GROOVE is a funny slapstick buddy movie. Great vocal talents.
Could've done w/o the gargoyles & music but THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME was an OK #Disney movie. So not for kids though!
Watched THE MANY ADVENTURES OF WINNIE THE POOH. So simple & charming.
 Just watched #Disney 51: WINNIE THE POOH. Wished it didn't end so soon! Interesting scene at the end of the credits. PS- I dislike Tigger.
FANTASIA 2000

(3 Stars)
THE FOX & THE HOUND sure was violent! But enjoyable. Interesting backstory. Strong message of friendship.
While not the best movie ever, MEET THE ROBINSONS sure has heart- almost a love letter to Walt Disney & his vision. Keep Moving Forward
CHICKEN LITTLE is fun & such a throwback to its vintage style.
WRECK-IT RALPH is a fun enough #Disney film. Hated Sarah Silverman's voice & character. Had its moments.
HOME ON THE RANGE mayn't be a Disney classic- at times, it tries too hard to be funny- but it was quite enjoyable. Very country.
THE THREE CABALLEROS was quite enjoyable despite centering around Donald Duck. Mostly fun segments, inventive & imaginative.
The problem w/SLEEPING BEAUTY is the characters are practically mute and non-existent. It is, at least, very pretty to watch.
BOLT is a pretty good movie. After the gimmicky beginning, there's an actual story. #Disney has been lacking in memorable songs though.

(2 Stars)
LADY AND THE TRAMP. Quite lackluster but the spaghetti scene remains memorable even now!
I didn't particularly care for #Disney's THE JUNGLE BOOK but who can't not like Baloo the Bear?
ATLANTIS: THE LOST EMPIRE is a fun, great adventure but it didn't feel like a #Disney film at all. No songs!
Watched FROZEN. Didn't understand all the raves about it. There were moments but not enough to make it interesting. Songs were OK. ‪#‎Disney‬
MELODY TIME had some good moments but nothing quite great.
SALUDOS AMIGOS was an interesting almost documentary like entry in the #Disney films. It's amazing to think how much impact animation had.

(1 Star)
MAKE MINE MUSIC alternated between boring and really boring- except for one or two shorts. I actually fell asleep watching this.
FUN AND FANCY FREE is an odd entry in the #Disney collection. Another package feature. Rather dark. Not particularly enjoyable.
DUMBO was kind of dumb and depressing. Cute, though, at times.        
THE RESCUERS seemed like a redundant addition to the #Disney canon
I need to remember not all #Disney movies are supposed to be musicals! They can showcase the latest in animation-THE RESCUERS DOWN UNDER
DINOSAUR was kind of pointless. Though I guess visually compelling, the story was weak. Watch THE LAND BEFORE TIME instead.

(0 Stars)
THE ADVENTURES OF ICHABOD AND MR. TOAD is super lame w/ unlikable characters. It did have some good moments.
HERCULES was incredibly lame. Weak plot points. Horrible songs. Uninteresting characters. Mediocre illustrations.
TREASURE PLANET was another weak #Disney film. Ugly illustrations. Unnecessary "cute" characters.
Nothing about THE BLACK CAULDRON screamed #Disney. It's like an extremely lame version of THE SWORD IN THE STONE!
BROTHER BEAR. Simply horrible! Bad animation & weak, nonsensical storyline.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

MOVEmber



I am officially declaring November as MOVEmber!*

I have three objectives for the month:  (1) to get moving again and be healthy, (2) to move forward in life in terms of what I want to be doing, and (3) to move others.

The first focus is to get moving again and be healthy.

Since moving to my new place last month, I hadn’t exercised at all. It’s easy to use the wetter weather as an excuse but the truth is I’ve just been lazy. And being inactive makes me feel even more so. It’s time for a change.

The sad lesson I’ve come to continuously learn is that I have to take care of myself to be able to fully enjoy all the wonderful things I’m sure is in store for me- for all of us, actually. My happiness is so intertwined with the happiness of my family and friends that I hope taking care of ourselves is a priority for everyone.

I’m giving up eating at any Fast Food and Food Court restaurants for the month. Goodbye, McDonald’s sausage McMuffin with egg and hash brown. Goodbye, Taco Bell crispy potato soft tacos. Goodbye, Wendy’s  breakfast seasoned homestyle potatoes. I don’t know which of you I’ll most of all. (Obviously, I love potatoes.)

I’ll make healthier food choices.

I’ll eat fruits and vegetables on a daily basis.

I’ll take vitamins. Hopefully, I can get my iron level back up again so I can donate blood again.

I’ll exercise again- at least 30 minutes per day, 3X a week- even if it means paying for a gym membership.

The second focus is to move forward in life in terms of what I want to be doing.

I’ll write at least 30 minutes every day, excluding blogging and journaling. NaNoWriMo has motivated me again but I hope this surge can last longer than a few days! I’ve taken the concept of attempting to write a novel in 30 days and making it into something that’s workable for me. I’d want to have at least rough drafts of my stories.

Working at GBB has made me feel creative. With the holidays fast approaching, I want to send handmade Christmas cards. Send me your address if you’re interested in receiving one. Hopefully, this will be a tradition.

The final focus is to move others.

I don’t necessarily mean to get an emotional reaction out of people but to continue my volunteering to make a difference in other people’s lives. Especially during this time of the year when everything seems so commercialized, we need to make an effort to be kind to others.

If you look back at my previous challenges, you may see a lot of the same things repeated. That’s life, I guess- making choices over and over to be better, healthier and more fulfilled.

What are your plans for MOVEmber?

*Not to be confused with the mustache- growing charity event that also happens in November and is called Movember.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

My Most Favorite Favorites





·         The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
·         Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
·         Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
·         The Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum
·         Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
·         The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
·         The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
·         Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
·         A Raisin to the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
·         The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
·         The Cider House Rules by John Irving
·         The World According to Garp by John Irving
·         The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
·         Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
·         From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
·         The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg
·         The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
·         To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
·         Wicked by Gregory Maguire
·         The Crucible by Arthur Miller
·         The House at Poor Corner by A.A. Milne
·         Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne
·         Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
·         Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson
·         The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
·         The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield
·         Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
·         The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
·         The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
·         I Can Read with My Eyes Shut! by Dr. Seuss
·         Oh, the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss
·         Dracula by Bram Stoker
·         Born on a Blue Day by Daniel Tammet
·         Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
·         Leaving Microsoft to Change the World by John Wood
·         The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak