Posts tagged ‘happiness’

April 22nd, 2010

Don't You Dare Rain on My Parade!

by Madeleine Rex

Yes, that’s an awesome umbrella.

But I’m not here to talk about awesome umbrellas (but, oh! Have you seen those cool ones that are clear and look like mushrooms? I want one.), I’m here to talk about something that people struggle with nearly incessantly. Like rain, where I live.

The downers. Those people who virtually drench you with their pessimistic comments. The Dementors of this non-magical writing world. Here’s a sketchy list of the templates these buggers seem to use. A majority of what you may hear is a variation of one of the following:

You’re wasting your time. You’ve gone through ten revisions and still haven’t finished. Go drink some Dr. Pepper and live a little.

Books?!? Reading stinks. (<– What you hear in Middle School.)

That publishing. I bet it’s a difficult business, just like everything else. How do you think you’ll break in and stick?

Or worse:

You write? For a living? Is that legit? Isn’t that a hobby? How the heck do you feed yourself?

I don’t blame you if you skimmed that bit. It’s quite gruesome, isn’t it?

Some of you might work more efficiently with Dementors attempting to suck the happiness out of you. The irritating persistance of said Evil People might simply encourage you in an odd, sick way. You want to prove them wrong. You want to be able to buy them an astonishingly expensive Christmas gift and not be scraping at the bottom of your savings, simply to prove them wrong. You did it. You’re in. You’re sticking. You’re a stinkin’ writer.

Of course, not all of those nagging remarks apply solely to publishing. The writing itself can be tenuous, and it’s likely that, along the way, you’ll run into the folks who repeatedly deliver the Dr. Pepper line.

As Middle School students, the few classmates that have heard about my writing endeavors stared at me in awe and called me crazy, but not to discourage me. When I brought my MS to school, some of those children thought it was cool, and others still thought I was just crazy. I haven’t heard too many of those biting, stinging, clawing “mean things.” If I did encounter pessimistic people, dry of hope, who tried to impress on me that I was wasting my time or helpless, I  think I’d bite back. Bite hard. I’d show them that, despite being soaked down to my underclothes, I could make it. I could actually do this writing thing.

I’d also try to remember the various sweetly encouraging things I’d heard. We all have a list of these running through our head as well, and they can keep us rolling as steadily as any insult. Here are some random templates of “happy things” (not all of which I’ve heard):

Wow. I could never do that. Cool.

This is great. I like your main character’s voice.

Holy cow. That’s one thick stack of paper! Did you kill a tree?

You worked on that every day? Impressive. You must have a lot of self-discipline.

I’d like to offer you representation. (Yeah, baby!)

Use them like towels and dry yourself off. Shake your hair like a dog and fling those despicable “mean things” onto the walls.

How do you keep those harsh comments from permeating your soft skin? Do you even try? Do you simply make the rain work for you?



April 3rd, 2010

Sorta Like A Rock Star GIVEAWAY! [CLOSED]

by Madeleine Rex

EDIT: This giveaway is now closed. I will announce the winners tomorrow or Thursday!

A wonderful gal over at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers is supplying me with FIVE copies of Matthew Quick’s Sorta Like a Rock Star to give away! This is a killer opportunity to get a hold on this wonderful book. If you’d like to read my review, click.

The giveaway is open to people in the US only (no PO boxes, either). The final day to enter is May 11th (this date might change. I’ll edit this if/when it does). I’ll close this contest sometime in the evening on that day.

I’ve recently discovered how awesome Google Docs is, so I’ve taken advantage of it…

To enter, fill out this form.

You can also look forward to an interview with Matthew Quick, which I’ll post soon (right now the trouble is coming up with decent questions)!

Thanks to Little, Brown for the five copies! This is a fantastic opportunity, fellow readers. This book is a gem.

March 31st, 2010

Sorta Like a Rock Star by Matthew Quick; Review

by Madeleine Rex

Title: Sorta Like a Rock Star

Author: Matthew Quick

Published: May 1st, 2010 by Little Brown & Company

Number of Pages: 368

Rating: 5/5

GIVEAWAY: I am currently giving away 5 copies of this book! If you want to enter: click. Ends May 11th.

Review Sent to Little Brown*:

Sorta Like a Rock Star is a book that will empower its readers with an incredible appreciation for life. With its remarkable Amber Appleton, a main character nearly unmatched by any in the ability to find hope in darkness and penetrate anybody’s cold heart with the warmth of her personality, it will give you the urge to dance the Spanish Flamenco. This book is full of enthused, insuperable optimism. Passing it by would mean missing the opportunity to have your socks knocked off by a book that is, among books, sorta like a rock star.

Review:

I loved this book.

It’s the type of book that makes you feel good. Whatever you might be dealing with the day you read Sorta Like a Rock Star, it will seem less generally unpleasant or even significantly more wonderful than it is. This book fills you with genuine hope, just like its fabulous main character, Amber Appleton.

Yeah, she’s sorta like a rock star to me.

You cannot help but admire characters that bring light and happiness to any situation, who find the power to make do with what they have but never lose sight of the future and what they can accomplish. They can be relatively content but not blinded to the point of not recognizing the fact that situations can always be improved and that they, through determination, integrity, etc. can improve them.

Most importantly, Amber strives to bring liveliness into people’s lives, to brighten at least one moment, if not a day. In the beginning, she’s (seemingly) irrevocably optimistic.

But even Amber Appleton can be shaken too severely.

Amber lives on the school bus her mom drives, nicknamed Hello Yellow, with her mother, her dog (BBB or Bobby Big Boy or Thrice B or B Thrice or Triple B – you get my drift), a comforter, and their six garbage bags of belongings. Each morning, she dresses and heads to Ricky, her autistic (and adorable) friend, and his mother Donna’s house. There, she, occasionally, makes breakfast and then prepares for school by taking a lightning-quick shower and applying makeup. She feeds B Thrice his canned dog food.

She continues her day by going to school, hanging with Franks Freak Force Federation (a.k.a. The Five), and then later heading to somewhere to make someone’s life a little bit brighter.

And in the darkness of the night, she eats hardly anything, does her homework, and goes to bed, whether her mom is home from the bar or not.

Despite the evident sub-par living situation, she is hopeful. She’s “a freak”, but she is hopeful.

Until her small family is torn apart and Amber is left alone. Life’s not so bright. She’s not so hopeful. She stops visiting the KDFC’s (the group of Korean women she teaches English to with Father Chee, otherwise known as The Korean Divas for Christ). She doesn’t visit with friends anymore. Period.

It seems as though Amber’s lost herself, and it takes awhile (and a doggy crisis) for her to find herself again.

But when she does, you cheer for her like mad. There is no doubt that Matthew Quick has created a character that speaks to people, whom people listen to, and whom people learn to love and yearn to follow. She’s a fantastic example of how wonderful human beings can be. And yes, she’s just that. She’s not incredible at everything. She isn’t perfection itself. She’s a seventeen-year-old girl with her own freakish problems, and she manages – while simultaneously aiding others to manage themselves.

I’d recommend this book to anyone, simply because everyone in the world needs something to cheer them up. It’s funny, it’s eccentric, and it’s just. Plain. Awesome. I realize I sound oddly adamant, but Sorta Like a Rock Star really is the type of book fit for any circumstance. Its general feel – aura, if you will – is one that speaks and is beloved to everyone. Why not give yourself the treat of a sporadic burst of enthusiasm and hope? The world is a nice one, that’s for sure. Even if you’re living on a school bus named Banana Slug.

*Thank you so much for the ARC!