Life And Other Things

I feel like I’m finally making a little bit of progress in life! I was contacted by a friend of a friend of my mom’s who is a private practice counselor who was kind enough to offer me a little bit of advice on the job hunt, etc. The friend of my mom’s sent him a copy of my resume and he said that he was very impressed by it…but where I may be running into a road block with not finding a job is that I don’t mention anything about licensure on my resume. So after back and forth emails, I’ve now begun the licensure process for my LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor)! So I can now put on my resume that I’m “license eligible” which will hopefully open up some more doors for me since employers will see that I am indeed working my way towards becoming licensed. He said that he would think that people could figure that out since I have clinical experience and a Masters in counseling, but you never know. He was also kind enough to offer me a little bit of work! It’s not much and I’m still very much on the lookout for a job….and nothing’s definite yet, but he said that he does see some adolescents and if I’m interested, we can get together for lunch when I get back from Texas and talk about me maybe seeing a couple of his clients on a very part time basis. This would probably be just 2 or 3 clients a month, but it would give me some practice and some supervision which would be great! Very nice man!

In other news, I’m trying to cut back on my coffee drinking….ok, trying to cut back on my coffee BUYING. Here’s the deal: I worked at a coffee shop for 5 years which caused a very bad coffee addiction. The result is that I now only drink coffee shop coffee, which is expensive. I’ve got it down to two a day, and now I’m trying to get it down to one a day. I usually have an iced coffee in the morning from one coffee shop and an iced latte in the afternoon from another coffee shop. Cutting out the iced latte as it’s a little more expensive. So for the second night in a row, I successfully turned my car around as I was headed towards the coffee shop and instead came home and drank a Coke Blak…which is really good by the way…it’s a strangely delicious mix of Coke and Black Coffee….trust me on this one, it works.

Currently reading The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger on Carl’s and many others recommendations and it really is a wonderful book. I was hooked immediately….like on page 1 immediately. What a fascinating book. I don’t know if this is the best book in the world for me to read right now as it made me desperately miss Megan even more than I already do, but I can’t resist it. I think it actually shows how wonderful of an author Niffenegger is that I could find Megan and myself in her pages. She captures the essence of love perfectly…that comfortableness in memories and that pain of being away from the person you love. But I’ll be traveling to Megan in two weeks and I can’t wait to just have some us time….so instead of wallowing in my own self pity while reading this book, I’m enjoying it for the wonderful story that it is 🙂

Speaking of wonderful stories (don’t you love the random flow of this post) Orson Scott Card has published the latest issue of his online magazine Intergalactic Medicine Show. For those who have been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that I’m slightly obsessed with this man. This is his online magazine of fiction…and it’s only $2.50 an issue!! This issue is amazing! There is a brand new short story by Peter Beagle in it, a brand new interview with Peter Beagle, A new Ender short story by Orson Scott Card, and essay on Snape from Harry Potter by Orson Scott Card, and numerous other short stories by other great authors. I’ve bought every issue so far, and they are all amazing…worth so much more than $2.50…I guess that’s the beauty of an online magazine…no printing costs!

I would also like to point you to Orson Scott Card’s latest weekly review column. He reviews The Prestige and The Illusionist and I enjoyed his comments on both.

And one final thing and I swear I’ll shut up for the night…this was just too cool. So, I’m at Border’s last night looking for the new Stardust hardcover (which still isn’t out) and I come across the coolest art book. It’s The Art of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire! This book is incredible! No, I didn’t buy it because the only copy they had was beat up, but they have all these great drawings by incredible artist and quite a few drawings by Charles Vess!!! I had no idea that Vess did any Song of Ice and Fire art. It was great to see some of the characters translated by an artist. There was a wonderful picture of Daenerys and a great one of Jon as well among so many others. 192 pages of art. I’ll definitely be picking this one up soon.


The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

Every now and then I come across a story that just brings a smile across my face, a story that is heart warming and classic. Kate DiCamillo’s The Tale of Despereaux is one of these stories. The complete title is The Tale of Despereaux: Being the story of a mouse, a princess, some soup, and a spool of thread. It’s perfectly illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering.

DiCamillo opens her story with the following beautiful passage:

“The world is dark, and light is precious.
Come closer dear reader.
You must trust me.
I am telling you a story.”

And she proceeds to do so. Despereaux Tilling is the only surving member of his mothers litter. His ears are too big, his body is too small, and he is very un-mouselike. Instead of munching on books, Despereaux would rather read them. He reads a fantasy tale of a night in shining armor who rescues a princess and falls in love and then meets his own princess…and he falls in love with her. But he socializes with her when he is not supposed to and is rejected by the other mice. Meanwhile, we meet a rat who loves the light when he should only love the dark of the dungeons, and we meet a young girl named Miggery Sow who has never been asked what she wants and has been rejected and abused by everyone she has known.

What DiCamillo has given to children and adults alike is a story of overcoming boundaries. This is a powerful book. It is a book of finding strength in times of hopelessness, of finding light when there is only darkness. She doesn’t sugar coat the world for her young readers. She admits that there is evil in the world and she acknowledges that open faced. But she offers a beacon of hope to youth who can relate to those characters. She teaches us what empathy is in this book, and paints that picture of seeing a situation from a certain person’s viewpoint well.

This was a beautiful book and highly entertaining. I was so happy to read a book that faced issues full force and handled them appropriately. As a counselor, I can see this book being used in a therapeutic way as well, and I’m sure it has been. I look forward to reading more of DiCamillo’s work. There was an excerpt from The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane at the end of this book, and I think that may be the next book I read of hers.

This is the first book I read for the Newbery challenge and I agree 100% with the decision to give this book the Newbery award.

Hanging Out With The Dream King

If you need me, Me and Neil’ll be
Hanging out with the Dream King…

-Tori Amos, Tear In Your Hand

I’ve often felt that I should have the above quote made into a sign that I can hang on my door while I’m reading. My love affair with Neil Gaiman’s writing started about 10 years ago. I was a pseudo-depressed goth kid who dressed in all black and liked to burn patchouli incense in my room. On the recommendation of friend, I picked up a copy of Good Omens and fell in love with it instantly. I was familiar with Neil’s Sandman comics and the wonderful artistry that went along with it, but I was unaware that he had published a novel!

Good Omens had a theme of angels and devils at work after the birth of the Antichrist and the coming of the apocalypse; all done in the most humorous of fashions. What I loved about this book is that it was all set in the world around me. It was in my own backyard. Not literally, but it was in someone’s backyard. It’s a theme that travels through all of Neil’s works. It’s part of what makes his work special to me. Neverwhere, American Gods, Anansi Boys, Good Omens, and Coraline, all take place in our own towns and cities – places we travel every day.

Neil invites us to look for the fantastic in the world around us. Sure, we may not find a London Below quite like the one that Richard Mayhew finds….We may not go on quite the adventure that Shadow does in American Gods, but the fantastic awaits us in everyday life if we invite it to find us. I would love, for example, to travel the streets of London and visit London underground with a copy of Neverwhere. Or take a long road trip around America with a copy of American Gods. Gaiman has set up the experience…all we need is to suspend disbelief and a little imagination.

It is that invitation to the fantastic that I most admire about Neil Gaiman. Gaiman has a gift that I have not yet found in any other author. There’s a sense of magic in each project that he produces. That magic might be found in a house on a rock in America, or it may be found in a more mythical land such as Faerie, or even in the walls of a girl’s bedroom where wolves have been hiding. That magic is always there in Neil’s books. And it’s portrayed so elegantly and in such a captivating way.

I keep a book of quotes; a book that I write down favorite passages in. When I’m reading Neil Gaiman books, I rarely transcribe passages into it. The reason being, I would literally copy the whole book! I felt this way most with American Gods. There was one passage in particular that gave me chills like no other ever has and I’d like to share it with you. It ends Chapter 5 of American Gods…the chapter where Shadow is in the House on the Rock:

“Shadow heard himself laugh, over the sound of music. He was happy. It was as if the last thirty-six hours had never happened, as if the last three years had not happened, as if his life had evaporated into the daydream of a small child, riding the carousel in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, on his first trip back to the States, a marathon journey by ship and by car, his mother standing there, watching him proudly, and himself sucking his melting Popsicle, holding on tightly, hoping the music would never stop, the carousel would never slow, the ride would never end. He was going around and around and around again…

Then the lights went out, and Shadow saw the gods.”

There’s magic in that passage and the scenes that follow it. There’s magic in many quotes of his.

Neil has collaborated with so many wonderful creative forces and through those collaborations has created amazing works of art. These include collaborations and inspirations with Dave McKean, Charles Vess, Terry Pratchett, Lisa Snellings-Clark, Tori Amos, Terri Windling, and a rumored collaboration now with Guillermo Del Toro to produce Death: The High Cost of Living into a motion picture!

Neil’s latest collaboration, and the original reason for this post, is with Michael Reaves, a writer for Star Trek: TNG and the author of the upcoming Star Wars: Death Star. The result of the collaboration is the new novel, Interworld. Interworld revisits Neil’s idea of duality in existence. It is the story of Joey Harker, a young boy who is particularly skilled at getting lost. He soon finds himself more lost than he’s ever been as he soon exists in more than one dimension…more than one world…and there are more than one versions of himself. Joey is a Walker, a person who is able to walk in and out of different planes of existence, and he’s one of the best around, totally unbeknown to himself. He soon finds himself in worlds that are fascinating, new, and dangerous. There are forces out there though that could use a skilled Walker…it is the job of Interworld to keep these forces at bay and to keep the altiverse balanced. This is for sure the most Sci-fi of Gaiman’s books and feels a little different than his books normally do. The story is told from a first person point of view which was also different…but I enjoyed it. Overall, I liked this book! It’s not my favorite Gaiman, it took awhile to get into, and I think the collaboration was a little strange; but once I finally got into it (about 100 pages in), it really grabbed me and kept hold! I think this may have been more of a Michael Reaves’ book due to the amount of sci-fi, though I’m not certain on that, so don’t quote me. It’s no American Gods or Neverwhere, but it’s a fun read and it kept my interest. The cover art is wonderful and is done by James Jean. Oh…and I’d love to have a pet Hue!

Gaiman has proved himself to be quite a force in literature, comics, and now in cinema! I’m so happy for both him and Charles Vess for the upcoming release of the Stardust film and am extremely excited about the new illustrated hardback being released. Also on the way are Neil’s adaptation of Beowulf and in 2008 we will see Coraline brought to the screen. Interworld has also been optioned by Dreamworks animation to be made into a film. Neil has also done the English adaptation of Princess Mononoke and of course there was the beautiful collaboration between him and Dave McKean, Mirrormask in 2005.

Where the road will lead him in the future…who knows? But we can be sure the journey will be filled with beautiful words and realized dreams.

A Day Of New Things

Yes, today was a day of new things and those things actually did not include books! Can you believe it? They did however include poppets, a little blue one to be exact – and he (yes, I’ve decided that he is indeed a male) seems to be fitting right in and has paired up nicely with the others. He seems to be quite gloomy, but I’m starting to think that it may just be a scheme to get all of the little red lady poppets to come around and cheer him up…which they seem to be doing. This may lead to little baby purple poppets. There’s an idea Lisa 😉

The other thing that I received in the mail today….well dammit, did include books! But not the kind you read, the kind you write in. My absolutely beautiful journal, created by Stormfilled made it all the way from the UK to my home here in New Orleans. I’m in love with this thing. I can’t stop smelling it and flipping through the pages. Her books are made from some of the most high quality leather that I’ve seen, very soft and it’s supposed to age and become even more soft as it does so. The inside has beautiful blue marbled end sheets with a ribbon bookmark, high quality paper, and my favorite part is the leather tie on the outside to keep it closed. If you’re in the market for a journal I highly recommend her. These are literally the most beautiful books I’ve ever seen. Her website is Blackthorn Workshops and you can get more info on her books there. Amazing work!

Now I just don’t know what to do with my new journal. My original plan was to write my NaNoWriMo novel in it, but that delusion has just about gone out of my head. Writing 50,000 words by hand in a month is just a tad ludicrous. My hands are hurting just thinking of typing 50,000 words in a month, much less hand writing them. So, ideas, suggestions? I don’t want it to be just another journal…I want to do something special with this one. Maybe I’ll save it for another Novel idea down the line when I decide to take longer than a month to write one. I was thinking of a new quotes journal, but that’s boring. I have a normal notebook that I use for that. Or maybe I’ll save it for the Asian and European tour that I’ll never go on. Who knows….

I’ve had a pesky migraine all day which finally knocked me out at about 7:00. I then proceeded to sleep until 10:30 and am now wide awake. Who knows what time I’ll finally go back to bed. I’ll probably fall asleep as the sun comes up. Lets hope that’s not the case. We have a full moon tonight and it’s gorgeous. It’s one of the brightest moons I’ve seen in a long time. The night is especially clear tonight which is strange for New Orleans…it’s usually quite muggy, humid, smoggy, and cloudy. But not tonight. Migraine is gone now though…so I’ll play in blog land for awhile. If I left short or cranky comments on anyones blog earlier, I apologize…it’s the headaches fault…unless your name’s tuffy…then it’s my fault.

Good, Bad, And Just Plain Ugly

I had a couple of web wanderings that I wanted to share with everyone…

Lets start with the ugly, shall we. This just infuriated me, and I really shouldn’t even be giving this idiot the attention that he/she is looking for, but I’d appreciate it if you would go chime in. This blogger decided to write a post insulting the Once Upon A Time Challenge and our wonderful host. Got my blood boiling and I had my own little comment to share. Carl’s comment said it perfectly. I wish I had the gift of words that he does! What a moron…not you Carl, the idiot wrote the post :p

Here’s the Good! I don’t know if I should post this…it may insult the above blogger. Kim at Honeyed Words posted quite the cool recipe yesterday. She made sci-fi themed party food including Oozing Flying Saucers and Tentacle Creatures and Jell-O Blob Monsters! You must check out her post. I loved it! Her blog is great by the way if you don’t already read it. She posts wonderful book reviews along with mouth-watering recipes. Very unique!

That’s all I really have…today’s been quite the quiet day….a day of reading and just sitting at home. No job still, no calls, no anything….the hunt continues!

Merry Christm…er Neil Day!!

Last night I could not fall asleep. No, it was not because I kept thinking of all of the horrible things that the dentist was going to do to me this morning (which actually wasn’t too bad), it was because of new Neil Gaiman books!! The long wait is over and I am now the proud owner of 2 (yes, only 2) brand new, hardcover, first edition, Neil Gaiman books.

The first is Interworld, a Young Adult novel written by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves and is apparently about a boy at war against himself in two different dimensions of reality. At least that is what I gather from the jacket flap. I may be totally wrong about that. We shall see.

The second book is M is for Magic and is a collection of short stories for children. Most of these have been published before, but it’s a great collection and the cover is wonderful. I have another signed, numbered, limited edition of this book coming to me later from Subterranean Press!

A word to the wise. If you go to Barnes and Noble to buy these, don’t freak out if you can’t find them in the fantasy/sci-fi section. I found Interworld in the Teen section and M is for Magic in the Children’s section. So I suggest you look there.

While in the children’s section, I also picked up the last three books I need for the Newberry challenge. They are Bridge to Terabithia, The High Power of Lucky, and The Tale of Despereaux. All three look great and all are new to me except for Bridge which I read ages ago, so it might as well be new to me. So I now own all of the books for that challenge and can get started on it!

I couldn’t find the new illustrated Stardust or the Stardust visual companion, but that’s ok, because I couldn’t afford them anyway! I spent enough money today as it is….thank God I signed up for B&N’s members program when I had the money for that 😉 But in other Stardust news, I’m happy to welcome Deslily to the Stardust ranks as she received her copy in the mail today…you’re in for a treat! Also, Friends of English Magic (a wonderful site for Susanna Clarke, Neil Gaiman, and Charles Vess related news) has started a Stardust movie news blog! How cool. I suggest visiting it often 😉

The Letter, The Witch, & The Ring by John Bellairs

The Letter, The Witch, and The Ring is the final book in John Bellairs trilogy and was a great ending to this series for young adults. This series was first published in the 70’s and I’m sure it’s well known by many children’s and young adult author’s today.

The last book in the series turns it’s focus from Lewis to Rose Rita, Lewis’ best friend. Lewis has gone off to boy scout camp for the summer and Rose Rita is upset because she is left alone, without her friend. Rose Rita is also going through an identity crisis. She’s 13 and finding that she’s not like other girls. She’d rather dress like a boy and play sports. She’s more about adventure and wants to go to boy scout camp with Lewis. Mrs. Zimmerman, Lewis’ next door neighboor, picks up on Rose Rita’s sadness and offers her an adventure for the summer.

Mrs. Zimmerman has received a letter from her recently deceased cousin. He has left her his farm in his will and along with the farm, he has left her a magic ring. Mrs. Zimmerman is an experienced witch and doesn’t know if the ring truly exists but thinks it’s in her best interest to go investigate. Her and Rose Rita embark on a summer adventure with many twists and turns in what is definitely the most suspenseful novel of the trilogy.

I really enjoyed this series. The books are witty, adventurous, gloomy, magical, and above all very human. Great for children. Bellairs did a great job examining real life issues in children and young adults. Lewis is a child dealing with the loss of both of his parents, being over weight, unpopular, and not your “typical male”. Rose Rita is a tomboy, likes sports, hates dresses, and likes to hang out with boys. He addresses these issues perfectly and builds these characters as strong, bold, unique individuals that are empowered and brave. Two thumbs way up for John Bellairs!