Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tired of Hearing It?

Apparently, you’re not the only one. The folks over at Lake Superior State University have issued their 35th annual list of words they believe should be banned.

Tops on the list? Shovel-ready, a word that refers to infrastructure projects that are ready to break ground and is associated with federal stimulus programs.

Speaking of which . . . Stimulus as it refers to government spending to boost in the economy, is another word they’ve determined is over-used, along with assorted of Obama words like Obamacare and Obamanomics.

They have also suggested getting rid of sexting, and all forms of tweeting, including retweeting and tweetaholics (not getting rid of the people, just the word!).

The group suggests guys find a word other than bromance to explain their friendship and (can’t argue with this one), they thing the combination of "chillin" and "relaxin" into chillaxin is just plain silly.

Also on the list, teachable moment, toxic assets, the phrase "in these economic times," transparent/transparency, app, and czar (as in housing czar, drug czar).

"Purging our language of 'toxic assets' is a 'stimulus' effort that's 'too big to fail,'" said a university spokesman.

So what do you think? If you could purge any one word from the English language, which one would it be?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sixth time is a charm

My daughter and I were at the store the other day and I couldn't help but drool over all the gardening things - seed packets, shiny new pots, new shovels, new gloves. And this year, I have hope. You see, I garden like some people diet. I start out with great intentions and then tend to find better things to do.
But I love spring, I love the idea of growing this lush garden full of organic fruits and vegetables. So much so that when we bought our house six years ago, one of the things that sold me was the generous plot of land on the side, bordered by a gray stone wall. It really would be the perfect garden, except for one factor: me.
Year 1: Planted tomatoes, cucumbers, three kinds of peppers, onions and lettuce. Came down with unexplained fatigue a month later (pregnant, anyone?) and decided to grow a baby instead. Husband raked over the weed-filled mess in August. Total vegetables harvested: 0
Year 2: Planted tomatoes, cucumbers, three kinds of peppers, onions and lettuce. Couldn't bring myself to go out and weed and water in scorching July temps with a new baby. Husband raked over the weed-filled mess in August. Total vegetables harvested: 5 tomatoes, 1 slightly scary looking pepper that nobody but me would eat.
Year 3: Already pregnant with kid #2. Planted tomatoes and pumpkins, thinking surely with only two crops... Raked over in July. Total vegetables harvested: 1 surprisingly hearty pumpkin in November.
Year 4: Abandoned cute garden plot for two container pots of tomatoes on the deck. Installed a bird feeder right above them. The seed from the bird feeder sprouted weeds in my lowly containers. Weeded like a fiend, watered, the tomatoes survived! The squirrels noticed and stole every tomato, except for two tiny ones that I took off the vine green. A third tomato was stolen by a turtle. My husband called it my most successful year ever and sweetly didn't mention that we'd spent approximately $60 in plants, pots and supplies for a yield of two cherry tomatoes. Total vegetables harvested: 2 1/2
Year 5: Decided to ditch it all in favor of watermelon. How hard can it be to grow them? You just add lots and lots of water. Plus, the huge vines and leaves will cover up the weeds already growing in the garden. Result: lush weeds, 3 watermelons and the realization that squirrels love watermelon. Hairy rodents eat rind and burrow into the melons before I can harvest them. One even sits inside a ruined watermelon, taunting me. Total vegetables harvested: 0
But this is the year! I can feel it in my bones. In fact, we bought packets so we can grow the plants from seed. Nobody can kill plants like I can, but really, how hard can it be to grow tomatoes, pumpkins and three kinds of squash from seeds? I'll let you know...

Monday, March 29, 2010

Query Lesson part Three

Hi everyone,

Since we have a bit of a theme going, I thought I'd add to it and take a minute to go through some query advice as well.

Back when I first joined the blog, I wrote this post, that included a mock query letter for Little Red Riding Hood. It is a good layout for your query.

But what do you do with those two body paragraphs? If you only have a single page to tell an editor about your story, and on that page, you only have two real paragraphs about the story, how do you fit hundreds of pages worth of story into two paragraphs?

The trick is, Know what's important.

Here's the problem, very little of your actual story is really important. That comes as a bit of a shock to most people, but it is true.

For the purposes of romance, you have to get three things across.

Who are your characters?
What is their problem?
What is the tone of this story and your style?

These are the fundamental building blocks of your story, all the plot twists, intrigue, witty shenanigans, all of that is dressing for these three basic things.

When you craft your query, take the time to give a sense of who your characters are, and why we're going to root for them. In Angie's case, Lizzie came across as a real everywoman in a crazy situation. We could relate. I think we've all considered ourselves Lizzie Brownish on occasion.

By the end of those two paragraphs we should know what type of character's we're going to be reading about. Are they silly? Serious? Deadly? That has to come across.

Then focus on their problem. The problem is what will draw a reader in and keep them reading. Try to give your query a sense of "How in the heck are they going to get out of/over that?"

And finally, never sacrifice the tone of your writing. If your book is fun, the query should be fun too. Dramatic? Angsty? Exciting? You have to reflect the tone of the book in your query. Take a close look at word choices, and the elements of the story you did include in the body of the query. Do they reveal the over all tone of the book?

That's all my query writing advice for now!

Happy reading everyone,

And stop by my blog for my super fun poetry get together for your chance to win a copy of Beyond the Shadows, a month before it releases.

See you there!

Jess

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Queries Part Two

We've been talking about writing this week, so I thought I'd add my two-cents to Angie's comments about hooking an agent or editor.

First let me pass along a little information that I learned a few years ago. I was writing an article for CRIMESPREE Magazine and I needed to know approximately how many queries agents receive, so I asked my agent. Care to guess what her answer was??? Over 300 a WEEK...not a month, not a year, but a week! So when Angie said that you need to stand out from the crowd, she wasn't kidding!!

Unless you're lucky enough to trap an agent or an editor in an elevator, where there's no escape and they have to listen to you, most likely your query is going to be written. (more about this later on.) I figure you've got about as long as it takes for that agent to read the first sentence to make an impression.

So how do you do that? Again, Angie was right, simplicity is important...direct and to the point. (Remember they have 299 others to read.) But I also think tone is important. Is your book lighthearted, heavy on the humor? Or is it more serious? Whichever it is, you want your query to convey that same kind of style. After WITCH WAY was written and I was ready to start sending out queries, I found a book that was very helpful-YOUR NOVEL: FROM CREATION TO CONTRACT by Blythe Camenson and Marshall J. Cook. It talks about setting the tone in great detail and explains it far better than I can.

One last tip on queries-how do you send them? Personally, I prefer email. After you've selected a list of potential agents, check out their websites and find out if they do accept emailed queries. (Another hint-read their submission guidelines closely and follow them to the letter. Also pick which agent would mostly likely be interested in your manuscript and address the query to them. Never, ever address one "to whom it may concern!") Why do I prefer email? Well, after querying approximately thirty-five agents, I found that if you do it by email, you're either going to hear back from them with a "yay or nay" within a week, or you won't hear from them at all. If the latter happens then you can move on to the next agency on your list. You don't spend a lot of time cooling your heels and wondering if they're interested. During this process, also remember that every "no" puts you that much closer to a "yes"! Don't get discouraged!!

Good luck to all you agent-seekers out there. Hope the above information helps!

Best,
Shirley

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Teaching . . . and Learning!

I’m teaching a writing class at our local Arts Center. Six weeks, and we’re half way through, and I’m trying to cram in everything I know into one-and-a-half hour classes and hoping I’m not racing so fast that I’m leaving everyone dazed and confused.

We’re hitting what I hope are the high points for beginning writers: point of view, characterization, show don’t tell, dialogue. Also hoping to get in some info on the everyday sorts of things writers are faced with, things like time management (is there such a thing?), researching and marketing.

It’s been fun for me, and I hope it is for my students, too. It’s also been something of an eye-opener. Last week, I gave them a homework exercise. We’d been discussing characterization, and I wanted them to think about how a character’s background, education and upbringing affects who they are and how they deal with other people. I gave them a single scenario and had them write it in three different ways with three very different women as their main character.
And you know what? They didn’t just do well, they did fabulously! And they made me realize something in the process . . . I was looking at these exercises as very basic. Come up with a scenario, plop the character in, let her interact the way she would as the child of Russian immigrants, a kid who was raised on the streets, or a privileged trust-fund baby (the three characters I created for the exercise). Had I been the one doing them, I would have seen them as simple and with little room to stretch my creative wings.

How wrong I would have been!

My students (all adults) came up with incredible, imaginative, ingenious ways to make all three women not only true to their characters, but interesting and yes (at least in one case), a little devious, too. One student wrote the exercise as a "a man walks into a bar" story. Another added a touch of mystery. One told the whole thing through the point of view of another character who turned out to be as fascinating as the main characters we worked with.

I was impressed. No, I was more than impressed.

There I am throwing out all the info I can about writing. And there are my students, teaching me so much more. I think I’ve got my nose to the deadline grindstone so often, I never come up for air. Or to see that writing for the fun of writing can be just that–educational, challenging, playful. I sometimes feel constrained by the parameters of my books. Next time I do, I’m going to remind myself that there’s a whole big world out there and places our imaginations can soar if only we let them. All I’ll have to do is repeat these words, "A man walked into a bar . . ."

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

How to Hook an Agent or Editor

My agent, Jessica Faust at BookEnds, has been talking about pitching and queries on her blog lately. Spring and summer writers conferences are coming up, along with chances for unpublished authors to pitch their work break into the business. Here are my thoughts on how to hook an editor or an agent.

Want to stand out from the crowd? You'll need a hook. If you handle it right, this will be your dream editor or agent's first impression of your book. It's what sets you and your work apart from everyone else.

Sound good? It is. When your hook is both strong and memorable, you'll have that editor thinking about your book and anticipating it long after that initial meeting is over.

So what's the first step to a good hook? Simplicity. You don't need to recite a paragraph-long pitch to an editor. You don't want to wow them with every nuance of your book. That comes later. What you want to do first is get them interested in your book's premise.

For example, the hook for my first book (my entire series really) is the gang of geriatric biker witches. When anyone asks me about the Accidental Demon Slayer series (and now it's booksellers) , I tell them it's about a gang of geriatric biker witches, oh and a reluctant demon slayer. End of story. Either they get the hook or they don't. You'll know right away if you're a good match for an editor, or in my case, potential readers.

So many times, authors will confuse their book's conflict with the hook. It's tempting to tell an editor you've written the most touching love story of the year, or a suspenseful thrill ride that will keep readers up all night. That's all fine. In fact, that's what you want your books to do. But it's not a hook.

To find your book's hook, dig deep. Ask yourself:
  1. What makes my story completely unique?
  2. If I could tell an editor or agent one thing about my book, what would it be?
  3. What impression do I want to leave with my readers after they've read my work?
Another worthwhile exercise is to look at the books you've bought. What about each of them hooked you? Chances are, it's also what made the editor buy.

Sometimes a hook is worked right into the title of a book. Think of Sally MacKenzie's series: The Naked Duke, The Naked Earl, The Naked Baron.

Editors love strong hooks because it lets them know immediately whether your book will be a good fit for their line. And after they offer you that cushy contract, your publishing house marketing department will use your hook to promote your work.

It can be hard to find the hook in our own work, simply because we are so engrossed in our own stories. This is never an easy exercise, especially the first few times. But pulling back, discovering what makes your book unique and then being able to communicate that can make the difference between an engaging pitch and an unforgettable one.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Winners!!!

Thank you so much for all your comments!! It was great reading all of them!!

And now for the winners of the TROUBLE WITH WITCHES signed arc's:

Zita
Sharon
Shawntelle Madison
Brandi
Kat
Just Another Sahm
Razlover's Book Blog
Jessi
Amanda
Layla418

Congratulations and thanks for helping me out with my spring cleaning!! Send me (shirley@shirleydamsgaard.com) your mailing address and I'll get them in the mail to you!! Oh, and btw, I'm just getting started with the cleaning, so who knows what else I might find stuck away in a closet!! I've got a feeling that there might be more goodies hidden away!! Keep checking us out to see!! ;)

Again, thanks for your response and everyone have a terrific upcoming weekend!!

Best,
Shirley

Update:
(Sharon and Zita--there was a problem with the email you sent. Could you please resend???)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Pat's!

It's 5:30 in the morning, and my husband, David, and I are headed out the door. Why? Every year for St. Patrick's Day, his sister hosts a corned beef and cabbage breakfast on her front lawn. Neighbors stop in. Cops drive by and honk and wave. Total strangers stare at us in amazement. Are we insane? Probably. But rain or shine or snow (and there have been plenty of snowy days), we're there starting the day with a unique tradition.

The soda bread is waiting. Happy St. Pat's!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Demon Slayer winner and more from Moxie

Well I'm glad to tell you that Moxie the puppy hasn't gotten hold of any more books this week, despite your encouragement. Yeah, yeah, don't think I didn't catch all the mental, "Books are tasty! Eat it - it's goooood." waves coming our way.

Moxie has moved on, it seems, to the hamster. She's watching Molly like I've been known to eye chocolate cake. Mmm...cake. Moxie just sits there in front of the cage, waiting for the hamster to make a break for it. We're going to have to invest in some rodent valium if that dog doesn't let up.

But onto the winner of the contest. Sharon and April the Cocker Spaniel win the slightly-tooth-marked version of The Dangerous Book for Demon Slayers. Woo hoo! Congrats, Sharon. Email me and I'll get that right out to you.

Monday, March 15, 2010

More Free Stuff!

In keeping with the giveaway atmosphere around here,

I've got a few contests coming up for some ARC's of my own, or are they galleys. Heck, I'm calling them galleys because they are bound versions of the galley copy I was told to edit, so there you go.

First off, as soon as I have 200 followers on Twitter, I'm going to give away one of the super secret, super awesome, super super exclusive advanced copies of Beyond the Shadows to one of my followers. So if you're on Twitter, stop by and say hello! I've been known to post slightly naughty haiku about innocuous household objects.

Then tomorrow, join me at The Galaxy Express, where the lovely Heather Massey will be giving away another signed advanced super exclusive signed copy of Beyond the Shadows, and possibly an autographed copy of Beyond the Rain as well.

After that, this Saturday, March 20th, you can join me at the Butterfly Blog, for yet another chance to win. All you have to do is ask me a question, and I'll give you an answer and maybe even a book.

And finally the following Saturday, I invite everyone to get a little artsy with me. We're having an art/poetry contest that should be a lot of fun. Each work of genius, or not so genius you submit is another chance to win. Check in at my blog for more details.

Good luck everyone on all these awesome contests! And have fun!

Jess

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Advanced Reading Copies


Angie's "boo-boo" give-away a couple of weeks ago inspired me, and I decided to do a little Spring house cleaning of my own! (Regardless of the weather, it is almost Spring, right???) Here's what I found-a box of THE TROUBLE WITH WITCHES advanced reading copies!

For those of you who aren't familiar with the term "advanced reading copies", they're books, pretty much like the final product except the cover isn't quite as nice and they are "uncorrected." (In fact, it says so, right at the bottom, along with "not for sale.") When a series is first starting out, the publisher will make these up and send them out to reviewers, booksellers, libraries, to try and generate a buzz about the new release. Because of the expense entailed, after the series is established, they stop making them for the newer books. (THE TROUBLE WITH WITCHES was the last one of the series that had advanced copies.)

So...here I am with this box of books, just gathering dust. I'll make you a deal-anyone interested in receiving one of them, post a comment and your name will be entered in a drawing. Oh, and I'm giving away ten btw...signed of course! (I told you I had a whole box of them!! *g*) I'll announce the winners next Thursday.

That's all for now-see you next week!

Best,
Shirley

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Help the Honeybee!


OK, here’s something you probably didn’t know about me–I am a beekeeper.
Yup, there’s a hive in my backyard (a second one is coming this spring) and inside on a warm, summer day, you’ll find about 60,000 honeybees.

Why?


I can’t say. Not for sure. I can tell you that I’ve always been fascinated with bees and part of that might have come from reading Sherlock Holmes stories as a kid. You know, when he retired from the consulting detective business, he became a beekeeper. And though I have no memory of them actually doing it, I do have a vivid memory of an old home movie that shows my dad’s mother and father at their beehive. There was my grandfather (in Polish, we called him dziadza–pronounce that jaja) covered head to toe in bee gear. He had the jacket, the heavy canvas pants, the hat, the veil the gloves, the boots. He was a small man, he could barely trudge to the backyard beehive.


Along behind him came my busha . . . in her cotton housedress and apron. No veil, no gloves, sticking her nose and her hands in that hive like it was no big deal.


That picture has always stuck with me, and I think it’s part of what propelled me to get my first hive last year. Honey? Not yet, but then, last year was the worst year for US honey production on record. Hoping for a crop this year and when we get some and put it in bottles, we’re going to include a label that says "Busha’s Bees."


All that being said, did you know that honeybees are responsible for pollination of one-third of all the foods we eat? And that each year, there are fewer and fewer bees? Without honeybees, we’d be one, hungry planet.


Even if you don’t want 60,000 bees in your yard, you can help support the honeybee population. One way is to think of the honeybee as you’re planning your summer garden. If you do a little research for your area and climate, you can find plants (like beebalm) that attract bees. Bees also need water to process nectar into honey and to keep their hives cool. You can leave a shallow dish of water in your garden (shallow is the operative word, bees aren’t good swimmers!) or leave a hose on a very slow drip.


And don’t worry that you’re asking for trouble. Though they can be aggressive when they’re protecting their honey supplies, honeybees are, for the most part, gentle. Those bees that hang around picnics and get in your soda pop cans? Those are actually yellow jackets, a kind of hornet. Honeybees are usually too busy collecting nectar to worry about humans, and since the only things they eat are pollen, nectar and honey, they’ll never crash your party.


For more information on how you can help the honeybees, check out the Haagen-Dazs ice cream site (http://www.helpthehoneybees.com)./ You’ll be doing the bees–and the world–a favor.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Winners and another mess up

I had to smile when reading the comments on the Signing Screw Up's post. These ugly duckling books can be loved - even if they're slightly scruffy and autographed to people who don't exist.

So here we go:
to Marti, glad to read you goes to Moonsanity (to show we all mess up)
to Paul goes to Venus Vaughn (sorry to hear about pretend Paul's tragic BBQ accident)
to Jenn & goes to Rosie (yes, it's unique)
to Julke goes to Allison (now you can pretend she's your partner in crime)

Stay tuned if you didn't get one of these mess ups. I screw up a lot. In fact, I can see it now: readers purposely distracting me in order to get more books into the giveaways.

And you know what? As I'm typing this, I'm remembering a copy of The Dangerous Book for Demon Slayers that can actually be signed to you - no inscription to Sven on the title page.

What's the catch? I'm glad you asked. This book does have several teeth marks in one corner, courtesy of my puppy, Moxie. Want it? Just give me your name below and/or tell me why you want Moxie's copy.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Oscar Night!

I wasn't going to watch the Academy awards, mostly because I haven't seen a single movie all year. Oh, wait. I saw Star Trek. How could I not? Anyway, I used to watch movies all the time and I've always loved the Oscars, but I no longer have the time to take four hours out of a day, and I'm getting old. Sitting in a theater makes my knees ache.

That said, I still love movies, and I decided to watch the awards because I couldn't help it. So I'm going to weigh in on the Hollywood Prom, and here are my opinions from someone who didn't watch any movies, (except for Star Trek).

The Hosts: I love Steve Martin, and I like Alec Baldwin well enough. I thought it would be fun to have them host the Oscars together, but through most of it, I thought their humor was a bit mean-spirited. I almost felt as if I were watching a roast when no one wanted to be at a roast. There were moments. I laughed at the little bit of them sharing a bed, because it was silly, but overall, I'd like to see a tone that is a little more light and self mocking instead of mocking mocking.

The Best Dress: Hmmm, for me it was a toss up. I loved Kate Winslet's silver dress. I loved the shape and structure of the top, and the silver looked very flattering on her. She had the grace and elegance of modern royalty in that dress. I also loved Rachel McAdams. I think it is hard to pull off a print at the Oscars, but what a way to do it. Everything about it floated, from the layers of the skirt, to the soft and watery colors. It was classic, elegant, yet stood out and looked very flattering on her. It was an excellent choice.

The Worst Dress: I know there were some that were a bit different, ahem, Sarah Jessica Parker, but I'm not opposed to different. What bugs me is when a dress doesn't suit the wearer. So Miley Cyrus, sorry girl, I didn't think that dress worked for you. The way the top was cut looked awkward and lumpy. It didn't flatter the waist, and you looked uncomfortable in it. Your shoulders hunched forward the whole time which didn't help. Put your chin up, sweetheart, your shoulders back, and next time, go for something with a little simpler cut.

Hair: What is up with all the little frizzies? Is that honestly going to be a trend? Because I've wasted a ton of time trying to tame my hair and smooth it for formal events if that is the case. I hope this is a fad that stops tomorrow, to be honest.

Funniest Moment: Ben Stiller in the Avatar makeup. That was the tone that the whole show should have had. I'm nominating Ben Stiller for host next year.

Nicest Moment: I liked having the people stand up and spew the awesomeness of the best actor and actress nominees. I thought that was sweet.

Coolest Moment: I enjoyed the dances to the nominated scores. They were amazing.

And that's about all the thoughts I have for right now, but I'd love to talk Oscars for anyone else who watched. It was fun.

Jess

Thursday, March 4, 2010

By Any Other Name

Do you ever get confused by all the genres? Romantic suspense; women's fiction; urban fantasy; fantasy; sci/fi. Then there's mystery with all its sub-genres--cozies, detective, hard boiled, soft boiled, whatever boiled!

I do understand the importance of labeling...bookstores need to know where to put each new release...but how do the powers that be decide? For example-THE WITCH'S GRAVE and THE SEVENTH WITCH were on three of Amazon's lists-women sleuths (okay, I get that one...my characters are women and they do solve the crime); occult (natch-they're witches!); and last but not least, romantic suspense. (There's a lot of irony in this last one! You're looking at an author who had to drink two beers and listen to the soundtrack of BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY in order to write a kissing scene!! Don't think I could drink enough to write a real sex scene!! *g*)

Now let's look at my present manuscript. According to my editor, they consider it to be "women's fiction". I thought I was writing another mystery, but if they want to call it women's fiction, okay by me. But here's the kicker...they're also calling it "Southern Gothic"...only it takes place in Minnesota. Should we coin a new phrase--"Northern Gothic"? And if we did, what would that mean??? (There is a definition for Southern Gothic...I looked it up!)

So here's what I've decided...I'm just not going to worry about it!!! Trust me, with the way my mind works, I could twist myself seven ways to Sunday (as my mother used to say) pondering what kind of book I'm writing. I'd be second guessing every scene, every chapter. I'm going to let Avon worry about where to put me. Come next May, wherever I am...I just hope you find me!!!!

That's it for this week-see you next Thursday!!

Best,
Shirley

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

In Honor of a Friend

My friend Rob was really something: funny, insightful, talented. He wrote literary fiction under his real name, Rob Levandoski, and mysteries as CR Corwin. If you haven’t read his Morgue Mama books, do yourself a favor and pick one up.

Rob died back in 2008, but now, there’s a way you can help honor his memory.

Rob taught fiction writing at the University of Akron and now, there’s a Robert C. Levandoski Endowed Writing Award.

You can donate online at:

http://www.uakron.edu/donate/

If you do, make sure you specify you’d like your donation to go the writing award.
Or you can contribute the old fashioned way by sending a check (and again, a note that you want your contribution to go to the writing award) to:

Tim R. DuFore
Department of Development
University of Akron
Akron, Ohio 44325-2603

I can’t think of a better way to honor CR’s memory. Well, except maybe to have a Reuben sandwich in his honor! (Rob always said his goal in life was to have a Reuben at every restaurant in America!)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Signing screw ups: my pain is your gain

I've been doing a lot of signings lately for the new book and let me tell you they've been a blast. Yet while I love talking and joking with my readers, I've discovered (much to my distress) that I possess absolutely no ability to talk and write my name at the same time.

How hard can it be? Very. At least for yours truly. It doesn't take much for me to leave out words, spell a name wrong or just forget where I am entirely. When that happens and I mess up a signature, I keep the book and give my reader a new one because nobody wants a book that says, "Dear Sven. Great to read you."

Then again, these are good books. There's nothing wrong with them except for less-than-inspiring inscriptions. So how about I give some away today?

I have four copies of The Accidental Demon Slayer, signed:
  1. to Marti, Great to read you (I wasn't joking up there)
  2. to Paul, with a great message attached (unfortunately the readers name happened to be Peter)
  3. to Jenn & (evidently, Jenn was single)
  4. to Julke (insert your own joke here)
Tell me why you want a signing screw up, or just post to say you want one (Who is picky? Not me.) and you're entered to win. Contest runs until next week Tuesday. Good luck!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Goodbye Olympics

I'm sad to see you go. I have loved you from the time I was very small. Every four years, I get to learn something new, like curling. I just figured out the sport this year watching the Canadian and Swedish women battle it out. It makes me wonder how a fairly simple game that probably started with a bunch of ice fishermen sliding things across the ice into someone's hole ended up such a strange and graceful display of precision. (Note: I do not know how curling was invented, but that's my best guess.)

I really enjoyed hockey this year. While the gold medal match was a heart breaker for us down below, boy it was exciting to send that game into overtime. I love hockey. I watch a lot of college hockey, and watching the Olympics is amazing because the international game is so much better than the NHL game. (Note: the NHL game has gotten better post strike.) It is a lot of fun to see amazing skaters focused on a clean game instead of conflict. Man, it's so exciting.

I was riveted by cross country skiing. I watched the competitors collapse at the finish line, completely spent, and I was amazed that they redefined "giving their all." What a feat of pure athletic power. It's unbelievable.

But more than anything, I love seeing all the flags. I love that the world can stand shoulder to shoulder with one another, be happy, and have fun. The Olympics is everything that is good about living in such a diverse planet. I can't wait for them to return.

What was your favorite Olympic moment this year?

Jess