Book Talk Tuesday: LIVE FAST, DIE YOUNG

I’m super excited to share my Dreamweaver sister’s newest story, just out today! Vanessa is one of the sweetest persons I know and I’m thrilled to share her with you.

Welcome, Vanessa Barneveld!

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Release day for Vanessa Barneveld’s YA novella, LIVE FAST, DIE YOUNG, is here! This quick read is full of heartbreak and hope. Vanessa will donate half of the profits from the sale of her novella to a charity that supports young people dealing with cancer. So make sure you pick up LIVE FAST, DIE YOUNG. It’s only 99 cents at these e-tailers:

Amazon | iBooks | B&N | Kobo

Add LIVE FAST, DIE YOUNG to your Goodreads shelf

Read on for the summary and excerpt…


Summary

He has six months to live. She has six months to save him…

Molly Corbett can’t stand seeing her childhood pal Alex Gibson destroy himself. He’s gone from straight-A student to rebel without a cause. With so much at stake, some serious interference is called for—or at least Micromanaging Molly thinks so. Alex needs to get back on the path to the Ivy League. But the harder Molly pushes Alex, the harder he pushes back.

Alex has a secret.

Well, two secrets. Number one: He has terminal melanoma. With six months to live, Alex hasn’t got a second to waste. And hanging around hospitals when his friends think he’s cutting school definitely counts as wasted time. Instead, he’s going to drop out, surf, drive fast cars…and finally put secret number two out there. He’s in love with Molly and he’s going to tell her before it’s too late.

Edgy, and yet wonderfully tender, LIVE FAST, DIE YOUNG sent me to reader heaven!

~ Tina Ferraro, author of THE ABCs OF KISSING BOYS


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LIVE FAST, DIE YOUNG Excerpt

Around six the next morning, I find Mom sitting at the island bench in the kitchen. She looks pretty chill for someone who just laid on a breakfast of fruit salad, yogurt, sautèed mushrooms and kale, unbuttered whole-wheat sourdough and two eggs, sunny-side up. A thick, football-field-green smoothie sits in a tall glass by the blender. Great. More kale.

“Hey, Alex!” She smiles over her coffee mug and pats the stool next to her. “Sleep well?”

I shuffle onto the seat and stare at the food. “Have I died and gone to buffet heaven?”

My mother winces at my choice of words, then makes a big effort to put on a happy face like she always does. “I want you to keep your strength up. You don’t have to eat all of it. Just most of it.”

“And you don’t have to go out of your way to make this for me. I mean, thanks. A lot. But I don’t have much of an appetite.”

“Oh, I’m having some, too,” she says in an overly bright voice. With her fork, she scoops up a tiny portion of kale, hardly enough to fill a mouse’s belly.

Since my diagnosis a few months ago, Mom hasn’t been eating much either. This doesn’t stop her from testing all the “cancer-fighting” recipes she finds on Pinterest. Baking is therapy, she says. I call it a waste of food. Fortunately, the family next door is more than happy to take excess lentil loaf off our hands.

Every hour of every day, I wonder what will happen to Mom after I go. She’ll be all alone. Dad moved back to Australia after the divorce. He’s making custom surfboards, connecting with old friends, so I know he’ll be okay. Mom’s literally got no one. Except the perpetually hungry neighbors and her five employees. Yet another reason why I shouldn’t die so young.

It’s crazy. Why does it have to be like this? Maybe the doctors got it wrong. They’re not infallible. They’re not gods. They can’t predict the exact number of months, days, hours, and seconds a person has left on Earth.

Then again, I’ve peeked at my medical records. I know it doesn’t look good for me. With the help of a counselor I’ve gotten to the stage of mostly accepting that I’m headed for a dead end. I’ve even started giving some of my stuff away. The iPad Dad gave me is now Molly’s. Mom won’t have to go through boxes of my middle-school clothes after I’m gone because I’ve already dropped them off at Goodwill. The cobalt-blue board I learned to surf on? I’m giving that to a kid down the street whether he likes it or not.

Noticing I haven’t touched a single morsel, Mom says, “Will you at least have the kale, broccoli and goji berry smoothie? You don’t even have to chew. Close your eyes and drink it.”

Speaking of acceptance… Yeah, Mom’s adamant that five doctors on two continents are wrong and that I’ll make a miraculous recovery. All we need is faith and love and kale.

I would rather eat broken glass mixed with cyanide, but for Mom, I guess I can manage this. Forcing a smile, I sip chunks of raw broccoli that slipped by the blender’s blades. I’ll check over the blender later, make sure it’s working okay.

“After breakfast, I’m taking you to that appointment you missed yesterday,” she says quickly.

Feeling guilty, I look away. She didn’t hammer me for skipping out on seeing this “amazing herbalist-slash-psychic-healer.” Still, I know she was disappointed in me. “What about work? You’ve missed a lot of days because of me.”

“It’s fine. Things are slow anyway.” Her voice is two octaves higher than usual.

She’s lying. The real estate biz in this corner of SoCal is booming. Foreclosures have brought in the flippers—the people who swoop in on bank-owned properties and fix them up for a profit.

“But you need those commissions.” Silently I add, To pay my medical bills.

Another reason to feel guilty. I’m aware of how much my cancer is costing my parents. Flights to a melanoma specialist in Sydney and more hospital follow-ups here don’t come cheap. My folks tell me not to worry about that, but ironically I’m old enough to figure out that dying young is expensive.

And now Molly’s pushing me to apply to Yale.

I can’t blame her. She knows it’s been my dream since forever to go to Yale, get a medical degree, become a pediatrician. But it’d be a waste of time and money for me to even try to follow that dream.

I grimace at the olive oil oozing from the barely touched kale and mushroom thing.

Waste. Sure is the theme of the day. Of my life, even.


About Vanessavanessabarneveldauthor

Vanessa lives in Australia with her musician husband, a photogenic cat, and a ghost. In addition to writing, she works as a TV closed captioner for the deaf and audio describer for the blind. Her pastimes include baking, iPhonography, and traveling the world on a quest to find the world’s greatest fries.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | GoodReads

For giveaway and book release news, sign up to Vanessa’s mailing list.

 

Media Monday: Magazines

I quit subscribing to magazines several years ago because:

magazines.jpgI’m too much of an A personality and

I can’t throw out something I haven’t read and

I have to read them straight through, no skimming, so

I don’t make time to read them so

I end up with a dust-covered stack that adds to my already handicapping guilt complex about not getting enough done in my days.

A few months ago I went through the stack, ripping out articles I wanted to read and throwing out the rest of the magazine.

Now I just have a stack of articles/pages to reproach me, instead of the full magazine. I’ve been whittling down the stack. Last week I read an article about Drew Barrymore and her role in the “new” HBO film Grey Gardens. She’s had 2 children since that interview, but it still did its job: it piqued my interest in the film and I added it to my Netflix queue.

And somehow, in spite of no new subscriptions, the stack is again growing. Because I belong to a professional association (Romance Writers of America®), I get a monthly magazine from them. Because I ordered something from JustFab, somehow I’m getting InStyle. I used to have a free subscription from mileage points to Entertainment Weekly. I was relieved when that lapsed, because I can barely cope with monthly guilt, never mind weekly. But guess what came in the mail Saturday? Yep, an Entertainment Weekly that says I’m subscribed for a year!

I did subscribe last December to Relevant Magazine, because I enjoy the podcast and the magazine only comes out six times a year. I figured I could handle a magazine every other month. Nope. I’m about three issues behind right now.

But I’m resolved, this week, to get back to just a stack of articles instead of magazines.

Onward.

But I’m curious. How many people still subscribe to magazines and read them? Do you? What do you subscribe to? Do you read it?

Media Monday: Podcasts

I’m probably a late comer to the podcast world. I confess, I didn’t see the point. Why listen to something that you could read more quickly and probably retain more? And who needs more entertainment distractions in their world? Not me. (See last week’s post on games😉 )

pod-iconBut about a year ago I was tired of the same music in my car so I subscribed to a few podcasts that sounded interesting or I knew the podcaster from their books or speaking or whatever.

Some of my originals tries are wonderful and I’m still listening. A few more have petered out. And I’ve found a new one, too.

My favorites, in no particular order:

  • Relevant Magazine Podcast.
  • The TED Radio Hour
  • Mike Rowe: The Way I Heard It
  • Austin New Church
  • Ask Science Mike

The Relevant podcast is related to the Relevant magazine. The publisher and an editor and a couple of guests kibbitz and chat and riff about current events, cultural ephemera, and play clips from interviews and music featured in the magazine. It takes a few weeks of listening to figure out who’s who and to get some of the long running jokes, but it’s always entertaining, frequently thought-provoking, and it’s the podcast I listen to most regularly.

Austin New Church is their Sunday morning sermons. I like that they’re preaching through Scripture, not bouncing around on topics. The speakers rotate, but they’re all excellent. I started listening to this one because Jen Hatmaker, an author and speaker I enjoy, is one of the presenters. Her husband is also in the rotation.

My newest find is Mike Rowe’s The Way I Heard It. It’s kind of a new iteration of Paul Harvey’s The Rest of the Story. It’s 5-7 minute vignettes about a person and his/her life, then a surprising twist is revealed. Either the person’s name, or a later accomplishment, or how the story ultimately played out. I save these up and Stud Muffin and I listen in the car together. Stud Muffin is a fan.

Ask Science Mike is a new show I discovered through the Relevant podcast. Mike McHargue answers questions about science, faith, and life.

The TED Radio Hour is by NPR and is an amalgamation of TED Talk excerpts and interviews. Each episode is centered on a theme such as Listening, Slowing Down, Fight or Flight, Why We Lie, etc. They are always excellent and thought-provoking.

Maybe the biggest podcast in its short history is Serial. I’ve heard nothing but raves about it. I do plan to listen to it. I just need to find time to slot it in between my regulars. I may need a road trip.

 

 

Book Talk Tuesday: A HERO TO HOLD

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A HERO TO HOLD by Sheri Humphreys is amazing.

Sheri is a friend and critique group member, a fellow Elnora workshop alum, and a damn good writer.

So while I may rave about this book, it’s not because I know the author. Or at least not only because I know her. This is a seriously good book.

From the back cover:

Viscountess Charlotte Haliday has lost her illusions. Scandal took her position in society and the husband she thought she loved, and his mysterious murder followed shortly thereafter. But now is the time to return to London, time to find whatever small portion of happiness remains to her.

The first step will be proving she is her own person, unafraid of the lies and deceit that came before. Then she will defy her father and all others who try to steal her independence. Never again will Charlotte have a husband or seek the perfect marriage of her best friend Jane, but perhaps she will dare the wrath of the gossip-mongers and indulge her tiniest desire. To do so will bring her face to face with a stranger in an alcove. It will lead to learning Mr. David Scott is not only a war hero soon to be awarded the Victoria Cross, but also the most formidable man she has ever met. Broken in every way except the ones that count, he just might make her believe in love. And only she can show him that he is not alone.

A HERO TO HOLD is the first book I remember reading with a physically disabled hero, confined to a wheelchair. But make no mistake, David Scott is a hero in every way. His injury and disability do not detract from his strength and charm. Lady Charlotte is strong and determined not to let scandal and widowhood define her. Together, they ignite the pages.

And to prove that while I may be prejudiced, Kirkus Reviews agrees with me:

“Humphreys’ exceptional debut utterly stuns with its professional style, natural dialogue, and extensive research.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Do yourself a favor and grab this one!

 

Media Monday: Games People Play

I play Words With Friends every day. Word Chums most days. Candy Crush Saga some days.

I’ve played Word Brain, Draw Something, and Angry Birds.

wwfThey’re all fun and fine. Word Brain just got too dang hard. Draw Something became tedious because I: a) can’t draw well to begin with and b) really can’t draw well with my finger on a screen. I do still play Draw Something with my granddaughter, but that’s it. When she gets bored and moves on, I’ll delete it again.

Angry Birds is still fun but it can be too addicting. It’s too easy to keep saying ‘one more try,’ and then a half hour goes by. With Candy Crush, when I run out of lives (usually in about fifteen minutes), then my play time is over.

I try to not respond to WWF and Word Chums every time I get a notification. They’re fun, but they can be a time suck. And I want to have something more to show for my day than having “fun” while glued to a phone screen.

Oh, pearlI also play Pearl’s Perils on Facebook. It’s a hidden object kind of game. I’m about to burn out on it too. It has limited lives which is good, but you have to earn “badges” and “decorate” your island to advance and I’m no longer accumulating the virtual coins to keep the next level open when I get there and I have to spend days playing levels I’ve already finished in order to accumulate coins. I know it’s on purpose by the designers to get players to pay real money for virtual money. That makes zero sense to me, so I don’t. Although they occasionally run a sale and I may pay $1.99 for a bunch of fake money and extra lives.

What’s your favorite game app? Is it a time suck? How do you avoid the whole time suck wormhole?

 

Food Talk Friday: Greek Shrimp Pasta

After Lori’s Chicken with Artichokes and Lemons, this is probably my next most reliable recipe. I make it to take to friends recovering from surgery or bringing new babies home, for casual lunches on the patio, for whenever we need something yummy.

egyptian_food_pasta_with_shrimpGreek Shrimp Pasta

Serves 4

1 pound raw medium shrimp, shelled, deveined and cleaned

4 cloves garlic, pressed

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

6 ounces crumbled feta cheese

6 green onions, finely chopped

4 teaspoons fresh oregano leaves, minced

5 fresh tomatoes cored, seeded and coarsely chopped

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 pound linguine freshly cooked and drained

In a large mixing bowl, combine feta, green onions, oregano, tomatoes

and salt and pepper to taste. Let mixture stand at room temperature

for at least one hour.

In a skillet, add the butter and olive oil and heat over medium high

heat. Add the garlic and stir till starting to brown, then add the

shrimp, toss together and remove from heat once the shrimp turn pink.

To the shrimp mixture, add the cooked pasta, toss together, then top

with the feta cheese mixture and enjoy!

You could also add olives, for a bit more salt and color.

This is extremely versatile. I’ve made it with other pasta when I didn’t have linguine. I’ve left off the fresh oregano and green onions when I didn’t have them. Although, without the green, it’s pretty boring to look at. Still tastes amazing though.

I made it early this week but I didn’t take a picture because I had nothing green and fresh to add and the picture would not have been appetizing at all. The picture above is a google image, licensed for non-commercial reuse. It’s pretty close.

Woe! It’s Wednesday: A Rose By Any Other Name …

I feel the need to confess. The burden has grown in the last few months and I can no longer carry it.

I don’t do nicknames. In fact … I hate nicknames.

My nickname phobia has one major exception.

Senior woman using computer

If, when we meet, I’m introduced to you by your nickname, I will happily call you by the nickname for the rest of eternity.

But you cannot be introduced to me as … Millicent Penelope Ewing, and then a few months or a few years later decide that you wish to be called Millie Pillie. You are in my brain as Millicent and Millicent you shall forever be.

So people who wish to be called by a nickname and wonder why I don’t go along, now you know.

It seems to me that if your parents wanted to name you Millipede or Sista Pup, or any of the many, many variations of every name created by younger siblings learning to talk, your parents would have named you that to begin with.

I’m not ranting or upset, I just thought I should explain why I continue to call you and/or your kids by the name I met you as.

 

I’ve tried to do the nickname thing. I’ve tried to come up with them, I’ve tried to call others by them. The best I can do is a kind of halting, swallowed amalgamation of your given name and your nickname.

I finally gave up. Millicent you were, Millicent you are, and Millicent you forever will be. Just saying … It’s a thing with me.

What’s your “thing”? Who else has something kind of weird, kind of goofy that they can’t go along with? I’m dying to know.

Well, not literally “dying,” but genuinely curious. Really!