I’m at home today nursing a sore throat with chicken soup, lemon juice and of course, a good book. I just finished listening to book four in the Harry Potter series, THE GOBLET OF FIRE. Why listen to the book instead of reading it, you ask? I’ve wanted to read the HP series for a long time now and my hubby suggested that I listen to the books instead. I resisted at first, but relented when I looked at my towering stack of TO READ books on my bedside table (and in my Kindle). So he uploaded the first four books onto my IPod …

I WAS HOOKED. The story, the writing, is amazing, of course, but the NARRATION is SUPERB.

JIM DALE is the genius behind the many voices that inhabit the world of Harry Potter. He makes the story come alive in the most incredible way. The voices he uses for each character (and there are many!) are believable and true. He will keep you riveted to the story until the very end.

If you have never experienced the magic of listening to a story, you must try this one out. I listen to it in the car going to and from work. I listen to it while sweeping the floor (oh, it puts me in such a good mood to do chores!), and even while I cook (sometimes). I finished listening to book four today while I crocheted and rested my sore throat.

Listening to the series also frees up some time to read the books in my stack. I usually read whatever catches my eye whether it resides within the genre I write for or not. You can say that I took Stephen King’s advice for writing well and that is to read EVERYTHING. So I do. What I want to talk about today is a YA book I read recently, LIKE MANDARIN by Kirsten Hubbard.

It’s a story about a girl named Grace Carpenter, who lives in a small dusty town in Wyoming with her little sister Taffeta, and their beauty pageant obsessed mother. Grace longs to break free from her small town with its cowboy dances, its penchant for animal head trophies and the Little Miss Washokey pageants. She longs to be like Mandarin Ramey, a beautiful girl who does whatever she likes and doesn’t care what people think of her. When they unite for a school project, they strike an unlikely friendship and soon, Grace learns there is much more to Mandarin than meets the eye.

The story is beautifully written and wonderfully imagined. Grace and Mandarin’s friendship is both heartwarming and heartbreaking as it unfolds. The author shows with clarity and grace how presumptuous we can be about people we perceive as cool or popular or easy or slutty and how the truth can change us. Most importantly though, this story shows us how two girls from different backgrounds can learn about themselves by learning about each other. It’s a wonderful book. Read it. You won’t be disappointed.

On Knitty news, I abandoned my knitted sweater project because, well, it was turning out bad. My calculations were off and my choice of yarn didn’t suit the design after all. So I switched gears. I’m making a crocheted summer sweater now. I will post pictures of the completed project soon since I plan to wear the sweater at my nephew’s baptism in July. I always work better when I have a deadline in sight.

On writing news, I’ve completed the first round of revisions on my book, Pathos. I’ve sent it out for a read and am waiting (in mild terror) for her feedback. Then it’s revision time again. This first round was hard because of the number of cuts and rewrites that had to happen to deepen the characters and fix any plot issues. There will be more tweaking to do after I receive her critique but I hope it won’t be too terrible. The process is fun but the work can be migraine-inducing.

Well, the waiting game still continues for me … I’m still waiting to hear from an agent on my first novel, from a publisher on my picture book, from someone critiquing my second novel … but not for my short story submission! At the end of May, I received great news! My short story was accepted for publication in an anthology that will be released in the UK! I’m thrilled because it’s my first venture into this art form and in dark fiction. My lovely critique friends gave me the encouragement to give short story writing a try. With their thoughtful comments on the piece and my family’s patience (daddy had to make dinner), I sent in the story just before the submission deadline, in early April. I will share more details about the anthology and it’s release when I know more. 

Have a great day, everybody!

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