Remember When(sdays)

This week it’s all about my book picks from the 1990’s – what books do you think of when you think of the 90’s?

Remember when in 1990 …

It was the time of parachute pants, Vanilla Ice, and day glo everything everywhere.

1990: Dr. Seuss has melted hearts for generations, and one of the most purchased books for graduates is his Oh, the Places You’ll Go! was published in 1990 – interestingly enough I “graduated” kindergarten this year. Also – because I couldn’t pick just one book! – Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s collaborative novel Good Omens is published – and goes on to be the positively fantastic series a couple decades later.

1991: My favorite book of all time is published (this is a hard title to have, because I basically love every book ever, but hands down this one takes the cake). Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, a novel that has pushed boundaries and refuses to fit into any box (neatly, or otherwise). This novel is read by men, women, doesn’t fit into a single genre, and has been made into a pretty awesome (so I’ve heard, still need to sit down and watch the whole thing) television series. Diana … so many thanks for putting this one into the world.

1992: Anne Rice regales us with The Tale of the Body Thief. Daniel Quinn introduces the world to Ishmael and we fall simultaneously in love with a gorilla, and out of love with humanity (ok, that’s a bit of an exaggeration – but this one definitely makes you think about more than what is comfortable – maybe don’t make this one the warm fuzzy book you snuggle up to before bed).

1993: The very first Chicken Soup for the Soul was introduced to the world this year – and Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen gave both readers and amateur writers something to look forward to, while opening the self-help book industry into something more than the how to be better – it showed real people living real inspirational messages. (Not gonna lie, these are a treat I enjoy flitting through when I just want to think positive.)

1994: Janet Evanovich’s spunky Stephanie Plum jumped off the pages in One for the Money, strangely making New Jersey seem … less New Jersey? I have to admit I’ve never been to Jersey outside of Newark International, but we’ve all heard of the Jersey Devil (among other … interesting … stories).

1995: I love Alice Hoffman. This author makes everything she touches magic … and it’s still incredibly believable. Practical Magic is what I can only describe as a realistic fairy tale (long before realistic fairy tales hit the height of their career). Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman were pretty great in the film version in 1998 as well.

1996: This is one of those years where I had a hard time making a choice. Helen Fielding published Bridget Jones’s Diary, and the world got a modern Mr. Darcy to drool over (thank you Colin Firth, for every faithful portrayal of every Mr. Darcy, we owe you a debt of gratitude). Chuck Palahniuk inspired (perhaps a little too well, in fact) his readers to eschew capitalism and look deeper into existential beliefs, Fight Club really made the public start to question – what is life really about? Where are we really going? And … why … just why? (And the film, those visuals really vaulted this one to cult classic ahead of its time). And last, but not least for 1996, George R. R. Martin introduced us all to A Game of Thrones, and the history buffs swooned at the re-imagining of the War of the Roses. The television show started pretty faithfully too – although I have to admit I was more of a die hard book fan, I let the shows fall to the wayside.

1997: The late 90’s are filled with books that have some kind of special note in my mental vault, but 1997 should be dedicated to Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. J. K. Rowling touched on a bit of magic with Harry – and regardless of similarities with other series, shows, characters of other decades, Harry holds a special place for all of us – because both Harry and his creator make us realize we all have something special if we just keep powering through.

1998: I borrowed a book from a classmate many many years ago that introduced me to my love of fantasy. Kristen Britain’s Green Rider is just a yes – magic, check. Blossoms into a larger series, check. Ghosts? Check. And the best part? Double checking on the publication dates gave me the best news ever – the series has grown since the last time I dipped my toe into that particular stream – I’m going to nerd out this weekend.

1999: Stephen Chbosky wrote The Perks of Being a Wallflower – this book is not for the faint of heart, and I made the mistake of diving into it the first time via audio book at my desk at work. Hard to pound out data entry and system security reviews while having your heart mangled through Charlie’s story. Not easy, but worth the effort.

Honorable mentions: Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Gregory Maguire’s Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (and the musical it inspired), the teacher, Erin Gruwell’s collaborative project The Freedom Writer’s Diary (And the film – Hilary Swank does a marvelous job) are all books that should definitely be remembered. Any I missed that need a special shout out? I know, there are so many more, but which ones are special to you?

Next week? 2000’s get their turn at the pass, too.

Stop Procrastinating, Start Doing

Have you ever found you have so much you want to say that you end up speechless as a result? The thoughts tripping over themselves in their hurry to be the first one out, but the collision course results in nothing being said? That is the feeling I woke up to today.

Sundays are partially lazy days, and partially crazy days – on one hand it’s lazy because the family and I spend Sunday mornings in our beds either sleeping late or staring at electronic screens until we are either hungry or the desire for companionship overtakes us. Then, when we finally come together all the things that Sunday means become real.

Last minute laundry, checking the lunch supplies for the week, homework review, and for me – organizing my thoughts for the blog post. Normally pretty straightforward. Except not this week.

This week each time I sat down to the keyboard I found myself easily distracted by household chores – my cabinets now shine and smell like lemons. Then I noticed I forgot to charge my computer – which is strange because I normally am pretty adamant about keeping it on the charger (even though that’s not the best thing, technologically speaking). And by the time I booted the computer back up, well it seemed like all my thoughts didn’t quite fit for this week’s post.

So I took some more time to consider what it was I really wanted to say. And I realized that my post from Friday I talked to the etymology of procrastination. And the internet is filled with memes about writers being distracted by anything from housework to mobile games to the sudden and immediate need to shred old tax documents … and I wonder what it is that drives us to put off the one thing that we also burn to do.

Why do we allow our fears of what comes next stop us from doing anything?

And if I really think about my personal reasons, I guess it comes down to this – in our current state we can believe the story we tell ourselves. That we have nothing but potential. That someday we’ll complete the project we’re working on and become full-time writers and make enough to live on while we write the next thing.

But if we let ourselves dive too deep into the statistics, that only so many writers actually make it to that magical point … well we’d give up. So we put it off, because then we won’t be that statistic.

Except, here’s the thing … we already are that statistic if we refuse to power through beyond what scares us. And other than failure, what do we really have to lose by powering through?

So I’m done letting myself get hung up on the what comes next – because what comes next is the potential for amazing. And the only thing standing in my way between now and amazing is me.

 

Friday I Learned …

Today I chewed on my pencil and surfed the internet.

Then made a snack.

I remembered I needed to pay some bills and after that I looked over at the web page and today was the Friday I learned that web pages need some TLC too. So I updated some things and then thought about watching paint dry. (Due to the lack of wet paint available, I opted for a little research instead.)

Which led me to learning that January 1st is Public Domain Day – the day when the list of things that will enter the Public Domain for the current year is released. If you’re looking to work with anything published in 1924 they are entering public domain this year (note, works published prior to 1924 entered the public domain January 1, 2019).

There is a lot of interesting things I learned about Public Domain, but I found myself a little carried away as I dug deeper and deeper into tidbits about the different countries public domain rules, and then realized that I’d never get it all organized in time for tonight’s post. Want to read more about it now? Check out the Public Domain Review 

Soooo … In lieu of that post, did you know that the term procrastination comes from the Latin terms “pro” and “crastinus”? Pro meaning forward, and crastinus meaning of tomorrow – combined to make the term “procrastinus”, and ultimately evolved to our modern procrastinate. (Information verified courtesy of Merriam Webster).

Next week? A rundown on Public Domain as translated through my brain.

Remember When(sdays)

It’s always exciting, starting something new. A new relationship, a new career, and even a new decade. What does this new decade mean to you?

For me it has been an inspiration of sorts. I’ve been thinking about where we have come over the decades in terms of the creative works that have been released into the world. Books, movies, music, and so much more. As a result I started making a list of books that hold special memories for me that have been released since the decade I came into existence (because what better place to start than the beginning of my own story). As I started putting this list together I thought it might be fun to put it here and see where those stories have come together for this decade – some have inspired movies, or television shows, some have new books that are being released still, and some just hold a special place in our hearts.

For some this will be before your story begins, and others well into the second or third chapter. Either way I hope you enjoy my version of a throwback Wednesday.

Remember When in 1980 –

Imagine for a moment – bright lights, big hair, synthwave, and steampunk culture. Stephen King, Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlum – big names on the paperback racks.

For me, it’s hard to pick a top 10 list, so how about a personal top selection?

1980: Douglas Adams’ second book The Restaurant at the End of the Universe came out this year on the tail of his Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – and while the number of movies and shows haven’t exactly been tripping over each other to get produced, it would make me a very bad sci-fi nerd to not call out the importance of this author.

1981: The book of this year that called to me the most is Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (Alvin Schwartz). Also, you might remember the movie that came out last year – although fairly polarizing because for a lot of people (I include myself in this group) it felt like a steaming pile of shut the front door on our childhood. Some people enjoyed the fun movie, and I don’t blame them … but it certainly wasn’t the beloved scary stories that you couldn’t believe you found in your school library.

1982: This is a hard year to pick … I narrowed it down to two books. One that is near and dear to my love of fiction, and one that is near and dear to my love of what literature is. Stephen King’s The Gunslinger was released and we were in love. This same year Alice Walker published The Color Purple – which, if you haven’t read any of Alice Walker’s work … stop what you are doing, please go look her up – she’s amazing, and I really need to write a blog post strictly to focus on my love for her as an author, it could be titled “My Love Letter to Alice Walker” … it’s a working title.

1983: Hands down, The Witches wins my pick for this year … not only is Roald Dahl just the best when it comes to children’s literature, but the movies based on his work have done an amazing job of emblazoning themselves onto our brains.

1984: There are a number of choices for books this year, yet oddly enough the one I can’t help but zero in on is What to Expect When You’re Expecting – I never actually read this book, but somehow I had at least five used copies somehow find their way to my coffee tables and book shelves, and night stand during my first pregnancy 20 years after it was initially published. That is longevity right there.

1985 – This is another of those years where I have a hard time picking a book that hits the marks … because there are too many. Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale was published this year, and getting ready for season four of the show summer 2020. And my absolute, hands down, favorite book of all time (no, I don’t care that I’m well into my 30’s Tabitha, it’s my favorite!) is If You Give a Mouse a Cookie – partially because this book is just endearing, and the fact that it inspired a series of lovable debates with my now husband about which is better – If you … Give a Mouse a Cookie or Give a Moose a Muffin. My vote – the mouse, hands down.

1986 – How many people didn’t want to ride the magic school bus or have Ms. Frizzle as their teacher (or as an adult wish they could find where she buys her dresses)? This is the year that The Magic School Bus #1 came out – and yes so many other books came out this year, but again – near and dear to my heart, this one is.

1987 – Stephen King was all over 1987 (mind you, he was all over the 80’s in general, but this year especially) with four books that I do enjoy – immensely, but he gets bumped because Toni Morrison also released a pretty amazing book this year … Beloved – and in 1998 Oprah Winfrey did a pretty spectacular job in the film adaptation, but we’re not done with the 80’s yet, so the film has to wait until another day …the novel uses some amazing literary techniques to tell its story, and keep you emotionally invested to the end.

1988 – Roald Dahl’s telekinetic, brainy (and well-read) little girl who could fit in very well with the X-Men was introduced in his book Matilda this year. (Also, I learned that in 2010 there was a musical … a MUSICAL!! … which is now in my must see list).

1989 – I am rounding out the end of the decade with three books – because it was just so hard to narrow it down (and even still was hard to narrow it down to just these three). Ken Follett’s historical fiction The Pillars of the Earth – which has had a video game, a television miniseries, and two sequels … and certainly did a great job of ripping any romantic notions I had about the middle ages right out of my brain (I’m ever grateful for this, in fact). Next – Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club which speaks to the mother-daughter relationships of Chinese immigrant women and their American born daughters and also had a movie released in 1993 (I cried when I read the book, and again when I watched the movie, even though I knew what to expect … yes I cry a lot, but seriously this story is a tearjerker). (Separate side note – Amy Tan and Stephen King were in a little band of literary types called The RockBottom Remainders for awhile … I missed out on ever seeing them live, but check them out on YouTube … one of those neat random facts you never know when it might come in handy). Last … but not least … R.L. Stine published the first book in a series that both gave me nightmares and daymares but also helped me to appreciate family trees in the beginning of books (although that didn’t really kick in until somewhere around book 20) … The New Girl: Fear Street #1. Maybe someday there will be a movie of these – after all, how many Goosebumps movies are there now??

A few honorable mentions …  The Babysitters Club, American Girl, and Sweet Valley High series’ began coming out in the 80’s. Anne Rice’s Vampires Chronicles picked up steam during this decade after the success of Interview in 1976. Douglas Adams’ Dirk Gently was introduced to us in the 80’s (also, there is a pretty great series from BBC). And of course, Robert Ludlum, Stephen King, Frank Herbert, and Tom Clancy basically owned the 1980’s.

What do you think? Did I hit or miss the mark? Any you think would have made better picks? What are your thoughts on the 1990’s? I plan to do a similar list next week focusing on the 90’s – any and all thoughts welcome!

 

 

 

Another Decade, Another Beginning

green leafed plant on sand
Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

I took a month off from writing, from blogging, from social media. I used this time to step back and take a breath, and get perspective.

I looked at the stars, I read some cheesy books, binged a lot of television. I watched my kids do kid things. I tried to ignore the very scary things going on in the world. I made it a priority to say I love you and hug and kiss those that are very dear to me.

Whether you believe it’s the only go round, or that there are many times through, I realized that we only get so much time on this one, and I need to make sure I’m making the most of it. Because of that, I’m starting some new adventures this year. Over the next 56 days I’ll be sharing more of that, and what that journey will look like.

Not like I’m counting or anything.

As for right now, I want to share news about immediate changes.

This week I am starting a new blog schedule. The regular Sunday Night Thoughts will continue, as always, right on time. But I’m adding two additional posts to the week’s lineup. Wednesday and Friday evenings will start to be filled with new posts about all things creative.

I’m very excited, and hope that these new posts will help me reach the point where I can post nightly. A long term goal I’ve had in mind for awhile, and I feel like that is still a ways off, but the possibility is becoming real enough I feel like it’s only a matter of time before I can touch it … or read it.

In just shy of two months we will celebrate two years of this blog. I’m looking forward to all of what that means.