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Sunday, February 27, 2011

My LibraryThing review of ABHoM

A couple of months ago, a friend sent a short list of recommended YA reads. On this list was A Brief History of Montmaray, with the note: "I don't normally go in for princesses but this one is pretty awesome." I've never been interested in princesses, either, so the note piqued my curiosity. What would make a princess interesting to me?

A Brief History of Montmaray, apparently!

Sophia, whose journal entries comprise this brief history, is one of several princesses of the island of Montmaray. The eldest princess, Sophia's cousin Veronica, is daughter of the current--not-quite-sane--King John. Sophia's sister is the youngest princess (who'd rather be a prince, thank you very much); her brother, the prince, is away studying in England. As the number of villagers grows increasingly sparse, the girls must manage the castle virtually on their own.

Even before Nazi-related trials and tribulations enter the story, it's a captivating tale of survival, humor and grace. The girls matter-of-factly face a unique set of circumstances that, to them, are simply ordinary life. Each girl is so vibrantly portrayed and so realistic, I felt increasingly as I turned the pages they were good friends I've known my whole life. Part of this might be a testament to how deeply I relate to their circumstances, given that I was one of four siblings who survived childhood despite poverty, isolation and a parental figure whose mental illness made her more of a parental figurehead than a parent in some regards. Mostly, though, I think it's Michelle Cooper's compassionate, loving, poignant depiction of each of the girls and all the other characters of this stunning novel.

When everything goes awry even by the girls' standards, the book becomes impossible to set down. (It was merely "extremely difficult" before.) I plowed through the last 100 pages this morning before my son awakened. I rejoiced at the book's beautiful conclusion, which so comforts me given how it mirrors my own life questions at the moment, and also at the fact there are more Montmaray books waiting to be devoured by me. If only I'd checked them out preemptively!

If you don't enjoy princess tales, you might nevertheless enjoy this princess tale, and the fiercely independent, precocious princesses who make it such a beautiful, delightful tale of survival.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Oh, P!nk. I could kiss you.

I'm not a huge fan of "believe in yourself / you can achieve anything / if you would only just / belieeeeeeeeeeve in yourself" songs. If it were as easy as "just" believing in yourself, we wouldn't really have much use for believe-in-yourself songs, would we? Nope. 'Cause we would, the world over, already believe in ourselves.

Learning to believe in yourself is a little more complicated than that. If you don't already believe in yourself, it's a long, slow haul to understanding what's beautiful about you. Sometimes what it takes to help you start seeing what you're worth is seeing someone else's faith in you.

P!nk's video "F**kin' Perfect" is just that. If you're wondering what's good about you, or don't believe there's anything good about you, please watch this video and know that, to someone, somewhere, you are perfect. Warning: This video is graphic, but it's for a powerful, beautiful purpose.

Knowing someone else believes in you isn't the whole battle, but it's a fabulous place to start.

I struggled with depression through my teenage years. Many days, the only thing I liked about myself was my calves. I have pretty freakin' phenomenal calves.

Often I'd think there was nothing good about me. What's the use? Then I'd catch myself and think, y'know, there's this one thing. Maybe in time I'll learn to see others.

I totally did. I'm glad I kept the faith. I'm glad, too, for how my first boyfriend urged me to donate blood. Knowing I'd helped someone else live by donating a half-hour of my time and a little blood was a powerful thing. I'd urge you to try the same if you're asking yourself, "What am I worth?"

If you can't donate blood? Consider volunteering at a blood bank, or anywhere at all, really. Seeing in a very real, very tangible way the good I could do for others was a huge second step in believing I was worth something. I've heard the same thing over and over again from other folks through my years of volunteering. You, too, might benefit from seeing this for yourself.

Perfection? Never gonna happen. But you mean the world to someone, somewhere, and that is the "F**kin' Perfect" truth.

Friday, February 25, 2011

What's in a name?

A Google search for "the monster's daughter" typically turns up my novel second. The first result is usually an SFGate article of the same name. This got me wondering about how and when I'd actually landed on the title The Monster's Daughter for my novel. Since this ain't 1964 anymore, baby, I looked that fish up faster than you can say, well, 1964.

On December 24, 2004, I put some prospective book titles in front of my friends. I'd like to say I used title-generating software, or had a monkey put poetry magnets on a fridge to form them, but no. Some Kirin-enhanced version of me thought each of them sounded juuust nifty.

I'd also like to erase half of those options and share only those that still appeal to me. Instead, I've opted for the path of greatest truthiness, and included even those better suited to a Harlequin novel:
1. Genevieve: A Dark Winter's Tale (2 votes)
2. Living Echoes (2 votes)
3. Nothing of Wishes (4 votes)
4. The Monster's Daughter (5 votes)
5. Down to Darkness (2 votes)
6. The Source of Silence (0 votes)
7. This Perfect Human Being (1 vote)
8. All the Sources of Tears (1 vote)

By this point, I'd already registered the book as Genevieve: A Dark Winter's Tale. I was tempted to keep calling it that, but had a change of heart somewhere before February 11, 2005, when I first referred to it--in email--as The Monster's Daughter.

I'm glad my friends had better sense than me.* At least I had the sense to listen to them, in the end!

Which would you have gone for?

* Speaking of sense? I'm totally gonna call my next novel Mermaids. And Stuff.

2 & 5/8 days left!

A few people have mentioned they prefer Blogger to Wordpress. As such, I'm going to post entries on both sites. Below is the first such duplicated post. Future duplicated posts will not include this irksome message! :)


Fewer than three days remain till I give away three copies of The Monster’s Daughter! Many folks have linked to the contest, but few have emailed me letting me know they did so. Remember, the email serves as your entry form!

If you have emailed me? Odds of your winning a book are pretty favorable right now!

In other news, Mack has provided a new cover for A Season in Korea:

Letters from South Korea

New cover courtesy Mack

Call me fickle, but I ditched the old cover like a hot potato.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Quick reminder

My new blog is here. Checking out the new blog is especially important if you're interested in winning a free copy of The Monster's Daughter!

Thursday, February 3, 2011


(If this were an episode of Scrubs, its title would be "My Domain.")

I've registered the domain through WordPress. I'll be relocating my blog there.

You're probably asking yourself, "But didn't you just start this blog?" Why, yes. Yes, I did.

Totally unrelatedly, I've written an entry entitled "Sagacity" in homage to my capacity for forethought.