What’s Up Wednesday

I haven’t done a What’s Up Wednesday for a few weeks, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to say hello and catch up with everyone. Hello! Now to the catching up…

What I’m Reading

I’m still reading WAR AND PEACE, but I’m encouraged by the fact there’s something of a plot going on. Aside from another war brewing (the 1812 war to be specific), there’s a love triangle that’s a train wreck waiting to happen (and it’s her fault–oh those flighty 19th century damsels!), and I’m sure the main guys are going to be called to serve, which might make for an interesting turn of events. We’ll see. I still think this novel would be better in a different translation.

I’m also beta reading a novel, which is kind of reading and writing since I’m making copious notes. I hope this ends up being useful to the author, and not just an opportunity for me to feel like I’m writing something.

What I’m Writing

Aside from beta reading comments and blog articles, not a lot else. I’ve made a start on one novel, but I have another percolating in my head that I might make a start on. Whichever one looks the most promising will probably get my attention when I have more time to write.

What Inspires Me Right Now

Literary agent Jessica Sinsheimer tweeted that she received around 800 queries while she was at conferences and traveling. It inspires me to know that I’m not alone querying, and there are so many others out there in the same boat, writing stories they love, trying to get the attention of agents, publishers, and readers.

What Else I’ve Been Up To

If you’ve seen my blog over the past month, you know I’ve been following the World Cup. I’m not a very sporty person, and have never really been a great fan of physical exertion. But of all the sports in the world, (real) football is the one that captures my attention most. Particularly the World Cup. There’s something about this global (literally, not like the baseball “World Series”) event where national teams from five continents show off their football skills, and one nation is crowned the top football country, that enthralls me. And this year, the tournament has been particularly spectacular, full of awesome displays of talent and head-turning upsets. Germany won, as I thought they might from the way they played their first game. But it was a close match, and thoroughly entertaining. And now I’m done pretending to be a football fanatic for another four years.

Also, yesterday “Weird Al” Yankovic released a new CD. I tweeted the track he’s been promoting from it because, as always, it’s a clever parody, but it’s also very appropriate for writers, literary agents, editors, and grammar pedants. In case you missed the tweets, here’s the song:

So that’s my week. How have you been? If you want to join in the WUW fun, go visit the founders’ blogs: Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk. There you’ll find details on how to participate along with the linky widget so you can visit other WUW-ers.

Every Football Fan’s Dream-Come-True

Despite the past few weeks of babbling about the World Cup, I’m not a sports fanatic, and I don’t follow football (i.e., “soccer”) that much. Yesterday’s World Cup Final article was the last thing I planned to post about the game until 2018, but then my wife forwarded me this article. It originally appeared in the Howler magazine in the US, and was re-printed by The Guardian newspaper in the UK. It’s the story of how a West Ham fan got called out of the stands and given the opportunity to play with the team for part of a game. If you love football, this is a great story. But the reason I wanted to share it here is because it’s not only a good story, it’s very well written. So even if you don’t care much for sports, if you enjoy good writing, I think you’ll like it.

So here it is: “The Day Harry Redknapp Brought a Fan on to Play for West Ham,” by Jeff Maysh. Enjoy!

Note: The picture on the right is from the article and was taken by Steve Bacon, described by Maysh as “West Ham’s loyal photographer.”

2014 World Cup Thoughts: The Finals

Between June 15, 2011 and November 20, 2013, 203 teams from across the world competed for a place in this year’s FIFA World Cup. Of those 203 teams, 32 went through to the Group Stage, which began June 12, 2014. After a month of football, it all came down to two teams fighting it out for the coveted title of World Champions. That match took place yesterday. Before we talk about that, let’s first talk about the runner-up game.

Brazil v. The Netherlands

After a fairly decisive 7-1 whooping by Germany, Brazil needed this game to salvage some self-respect. The Netherlands, on the other hand, ended up here after a penalty shoot-out against Argentina. The Dutch had already shown themselves to be a world-class team, so they really had nothing to prove. Perhaps with Silva back on the field, Brazil could save some face by at least providing a challenge to the Netherlands. I think Brazil did play a better game, but it wasn’t enough. Maybe Silva made a difference. Perhaps the loss of Neymar was too much of a psychological blow to the team. Either way, Brazil can take comfort in the fact that they were only beaten 3-0. There was some controversy over a couple of the Dutch goals. One came about when the referee called for a penalty on a Brazilian foul he thought happened inside the goal area. The replay showed it was just outside and should have been a free kick, but, as always, the ref’s decision is final. The second Dutch goal was ever-so-slightly offside, which, again, we can only appreciate thanks to slow-motion replay. None of the officials saw it, so the goal was allowed. There was no question about the third goal, and despite some opportunities, Brazil was never able to catch up. The Netherlands played a great game, and deserve third place. Brazil can count themselves blessed that they came in fourth. There are many, even in their home country, that don’t think they earned that much.

Argentina v. Germany

This was not going to be an easy match for either Argentina or Germany. Both teams deserved to be in the final because, over the course of a month, they demonstrated themselves to be the best in the world. Germany played a tight, possessive game, and Argentina defended well, sending the ball up the field on the feet of Messi, or another striker as they had the chance. There were bad referee calls that could have turned the tide, but after 90 minutes, there were no goals, and the game went into extra time. Well into the second half of extra time it looked like the game would go to penalties, but then the young German substitute, Mario Götze, took a brilliant pass from Schürrle (another substitute), and with impeccable control sent the ball past Argentine goalie Sergio Romero and into the back of the net. It was the kind of skillful play that epitomized the talent we’ve seen on display throughout this tournament.

And so the 2014 FIFA World Cup ended on yet another landmark win: the first time a European team has won the World Cup on South American soil. Argentina’s Lionel Messi was awarded the Golden Ball for Best Player of the Tournament. Messi’s a great player, but honestly I think James Rodriguez of Columbia deserved this, having scored six goals in six games. Germany’s Manuel Neuer won the Golden Glove for Best Goalkeeper, and I won’t argue that at all.

I said it before, and I’ll say it again: this was one of the best–if not the best–World Cup tournaments I’ve ever had the pleasure to watch. Over the last month we’ve seen why this game is so popular throughout the world.

And that about does it for me as sports reporter! 2018′s contest will be in Russia. More football talk then… :)

2014 World Cup Semi-Finals Thoughts

I was going to wait until Monday to do a big wrap-up on the Semi-Final and Final matches of the World Cup. But after the games we’ve just seen, I had to comment. So here are my thoughts:

Brazil v. Germany

This match-up between the favorite and second-favorite teams promised to be memorable. I said on Monday I thought Brazil would have a hard time without Neymar and Silva, and that would help Germany pull out a victory over the home team. But never in my wildest dreams did I think it would turn out the way it did. For those who don’t know, Germany beat Brazil 7-1. And that’s unheard of. Yes, there have been scores like this in the past at this stage in the competition (though not often), but not against the favorite team on home soil. When you consider five of those goals were scored within the first 20-30 minutes of the game, you just wonder what kind of alternate reality this is.

So what happened? First, Germany were on fire. They played a superb game of football. Immaculate passing, great defense (except for a 90th-minute lapse that allowed Brazil to score)–everything you could ask for from a world-class team. And second, Brazil were lost without Silva. Yes, Neymar being injured out of the game made things harder. But honestly, I don’t think they would have won even if Neymar had been fit to play. Silva is their captain and their defensive organizer, and clearly his absence on the field made far more of an impact that it ought to for a first class football team. Not to take away from the talent of the other Brazilian players, but I think it’s apparent that Brazil have been coasting on the skills of two players. That’s not the way to play world-class football, and Germany called them on it.

I will commend the Brazilians for their sportsmanship. Understandably, the stadium was eerily quiet during the second half, except for the cadre of German supporters who were trying to make up for the noise deficit. However, the Brazilians applauded the last couple of German goals–and one of them, number seven, was an exceptional display of control and precision shooting. And the players were ready with hugs and congratulatory words after the match. This was a very humiliating experience for Brazil, both the team and their supporters. It’s to their credit that, from what I hear, there was no fighting nor were there angry words against the victors. I don’t know if Silva will be allowed to play in the runner-up game, but even if he isn’t, I hope Brazil have learned from this, and can pull together a better performance on Saturday.

Argentina v. The Netherlands

What a complete contrast this game was! I said it would be hard to call, and I was right. I thought both teams looked dangerous, and while their strengths were different, they were evenly matched. Argentina played a very aggressive 90 minutes, with more shots on goal. But the Dutch defense held strong, and probably had the upper hand in terms of possession. The Dutch star Robben hardly got into the game until near the end, and the Dutch managed to contain the Argentine star Messi, who failed to be the game-changer he has been on so many other occasions. That the score was goalless at full-time was no surprise to anyone. Both teams missed some great opportunities to end the game in extra time. Barring a major mistake, or a stroke of genius, a penalty shoot-out seemed inevitable. And so it went, and the game came down to the team with the better goalie: Sergio Romero. But this is the kind of game we expect to see at this level of the competition. I think the contrast between these two semi-finals tells the story of this World Cup: excellent football, major upsets, and great sportsmanship.

The Finals

On Saturday, Brazil will face The Netherlands for third place. There’s no medal or award, it’s simply a matter of honor. I expect Brazil to play a much better game since they have a lot of face-saving to do. However, I think the Dutch will ultimately prevail. Argentina put them through their paces, so I think they’re more than ready to face Brazil, even if Silva’s playing.

Sunday’s game should be an amazing match, with Germany and Argentina facing off for the third time in a final. I think it’ll be close, but in the end I think Germany will win. Especially if they bring the quality of play we saw against Brazil. Granted, Argentina are a vastly superior team than Brazil, and Germany won’t have nearly as easy a time. But coming off of a 7-1 victory, German confidence is high. Given the amazing display of skill and talent we’ve seen from the German side throughout the competition, I think the win is theirs for the taking.

But those are just my thoughts. What do you think?

2014 World Cup Thoughts

This past week saw the conclusion of the Round of 16, and the Quarter-Final matches, and once again we were treated to some magnificent football. You might recall from last week, I called Belgium vs. USA for the States, and Brazil vs. Columbia for Columbia. As it turned out, those were the only two I got wrong. I still believe the US had a talented team that could have beaten Belgium. They simply didn’t play to their strengths, and left it too late to bring on Julian Green–a kid just turned 19, who had played only 45 minutes of professional football prior to this game–who scored the only US goal of the match. Expect great things of this young man! Of course the hero of the game was Tim Howard, the US goalie, who made a startling 15 saves in just this one match. That statistic alone not only speaks of Howard’s skill as a goalie, but it also tells the tale of the game, since the Belgian goalie didn’t get nearly as much of a work-out. If the US learn the lessons from this tournament, they should do very well in 2018.

Brazil faced Columbia in their Quarter-Final match, and, again, I stand by my statement that Columbia had the talent to beat Brazil. Things just didn’t come together for them on the night, however, and Brazil beat them 2-1 to go forward to the Semi-Finals. Surely one of the most touching moments of the 2014 World Cup was the scene at the end, when a distraught James Rodriguez, star striker for the Columbian team, was being comforted and encouraged by the Brazilians. James certainly has nothing to be ashamed of, having scored a goal in every game they played. Brazil go on to face Germany, and while I think Germany are more than capable of pulling out a victory against the home side, they have the added bonus of playing against a Brazil minus star players Neymar and Silva. Silva received a second yellow card during the Columbia game which, along with a yellow from a previous match, suspends him from the Semi-Final. Neymar sustained a serious injury that, while treatable without surgery, ends his participation in the World Cup this year. Brazil think they can manage without them, but against this German team? I share the skepticism of many.

Belgium might have looked impressive against the US, but they were no match for Argentina who are in fine form this tournament. Messi is certainly their star player, but they have plenty of talent all round to make them a force to be reckoned with. I was torn between the Netherlands and Costa Rica for their Quarter-Final game. The Dutch team, when they play their best, are a treat to watch and play some great football. The Costa Ricans have come from nowhere and taken the game by storm this year, so to see them go further would be great for them, and a major upset. Both teams played well, and it’s to Costa Rica’s credit that they held the Netherlands to a goalless tie. Costa Rica can be proud that their first defeat of the tournament was at this penalty shoot-out. They’re another team to watch for 2018.

The last games of the 2014 World Cup will take place over the coming week. Here are the game times:

Tuesday, July 8 (4pm ET): Brazil v. Germany
Wednesday, July 9 (4pm ET): Netherlands v. Argentina
Saturday, July 12 (4pm ET): The losers of those games play off for third place
Sunday, July 12 (3pm ET): The final game to decide the winner.

The only team I’m not certain of for the final is Brazil. Without Neymar and Silva, I don’t know they’re good enough to beat Germany, the Netherlands, or Argentina. But these are all strong teams, and each has played well enough to win the tournament. However, for the fun of it, I’m going to predict Germany and the Netherlands in the final, with Argentina coming up third. And I think Germany will win. But I’m glad I’m not a betting person, because I wouldn’t want to put money on that prediction!

What do you think?

2014 World Cup Thoughts

The group stages are over and we’re into the Round of 16–and what a start! Before we go there, let’s take a moment to review the action of the last week. As you may be aware, in the group stage, each team has to play the other three teams in its group to determine its group position. This means each team plays three games, and the teams are ranked within the group according to how many wins, losses, and draws they get (3 points for a win, 1 for a draw, 0 for a loss). Goal differences also come into play in the event of a tie.* The top two teams in each group move on the the Round of 16. Depending on how well (or badly) a team performs, their chances of moving on may well be set by the end of the second game. As we noted last week, England‘s loss to Uruguay following on from their loss to Italy sealed their fate in the group. They had a final game to play against Costa Rica, but it would make no difference. To their credit, they held Costa Rica to a goal-less draw, but, against all odds, Costa Rica still finished the week as the group leaders, with Uruguay right behind them. England were on the bottom, exiting the contest along with Italy. Who’d’ve thunk?!

On the other hand, both the USA and Germany faced their final match-up needing only a draw for both to qualify. In any other venue, with any other teams, this might have been a recipe for a dull game of back-and-forth with no real effort. But this is the World Cup! Both teams came out blazing, fighting for a win. Given the point and goal differences in their group, either the USA or Germany could suffer a loss and still go through, as long as the loss wasn’t too significant. As it turned out, Germany managed to score a goal against the US, but it was a hard-fought goal. This was the Germany of their first game, and the US did a great job to keep them at bay. I did think Germany was the better team, though, and while they both go forward, and will do well, I’d be surprised to see the US go beyond the final eight.

The Round of 16 began on Saturday and concludes on Tuesday. And what a start! Since there must be a winner from each of these games, matches that end in a tie after 90 mins go into Extra Time (another 30 mins consisting of two 15-min halves). If it’s still tied up at the end of Extra Time, there’s a penalty shoot-out. In the penalty shoot-out, each team selects five players to take shots on goal from the penalty spot. There’s a coin toss to decide which end to use. This may make a difference if a team has a lot of supporters behind a particular goal area. Then there’s a coin toss to decide who goes first. Each team takes turns at trying to misdirect the opposing goalie and score. The first team to get an insurmountable lead (e.g., 3-1, or 5-4) wins. If it’s 5-5 at the end of the shoot-out, they go to “sudden death.” In sudden death, the teams continue to take turns shooting penalties, but the first team to score wins. These rules will apply to the contest from here to the final, since each game must produce a winner.

I suppose given the quality of the teams moving forward, I shouldn’t be surprised that two of the first four games went to penalties. Chile gave Brazil a really difficult time on Saturday, and (IMO) Brazil’s star player was their goalie, Julio Cesar (Julius Caesar, as we call him). Sure, Neymar played well, but Chile did a good job of neutralizing much of the Brazilian threat on the field. In the end, it was two marvelous penalty saves that took Brazil on to the next round. I would have liked to have seen Chile win, but largely for the “upset factor” (Brazil are unbeaten on their home turf in 60 games, and it would be unheard of for them to be out at this point playing at home). That Brazil won was a little disappointing, but not surprising.

Columbia vs. Uruguay was a different matter. Maybe it was the loss of their star player, Suarez, who was red-carded and disciplined by FIFA for biting an Italian player in their previous game, or maybe Columbia just outclassed them. In any case, Uruguay just didn’t have what it takes to get the better of Columbia. The Columbians dominated the game, and James Rodrigues played some world-class football. He scored both goals, the first of which was an incredible shot that bounced off the underside of the top bar at just the right angle. That goal will be replayed as one of the best of the tournament. Columbia and Brazil will face off in the Quarter-Finals, starting Friday.

Yesterday, the Netherlands faced Mexico in a game that went to the wire. I only caught the last ten minutes, at which point Mexico were leading 1-0. Within the space of five minutes, the Dutch scored an equalizer, and then pulled ahead when a penalty call went in their favor during stoppage time. Both teams played well in their groups, so I thought this would be a difficult match. If it wasn’t for that penalty, it too could have easily gone to a penalty shoot-out.

The final game of the weekend saw Costa Rica play Greece. Costa Rica are the surprise of the tournament. Conventional wisdom had them placing last in their group (after all, they were in a group with England, Italy, and Uruguay!). They ended up topping their group, and looking formidable with each game. I honestly thought Greece wouldn’t stand a chance, but Costa Rica seemed to lack sparkle in the first half, and while they came alive and scored what looked to be the decisive goal early in the second half, they allowed Greece to equalize in stoppage time. But the magic returned when it counted, and Costa Rica defeated Greece in the penalty shoot-out by 5 goals to 3. The Costa Rican goalie, Navas, saved the day for sure. This means Costa Rica will face the Netherlands in the Quarter-Finals.

The remaining games in the Round of 16 are:

Monday, June 30 (12 pm ET): France v. Nigeria
Monday, June 30 (4 pm ET): Germany v. Algeria
Tuesday, July 1 (12 pm ET): Argentina v. Switzerland
Tuesday, July 1 (4 pm ET): Belgium v. USA

I predict France, Germany, Argentina, and the USA will win their games. If I’m correct, then the Quarter-Final match-ups will look like this:

Friday, July 4 (12 pm ET): Brazil v. Columbia
Friday, July 4 (4 pm ET): France v. Germany
Saturday, July 5 (12 pm ET): The Netherlands v. Costa Rica
Saturday, July 5 (4pm ET): Argentina v. USA

Of these games, I think Columbia will beat Brazil, Germany will beat France, The Netherlands will beat Costa Rica, and Argentina will beat the USA. Nothing against Brazil, but I think Columbia have the talent to stop Brazil, and it would be a major upset which can be great for the tournament. I think Germany has what it takes to get to the final, and while France have played very well, IMO Germany is the better team. I would love to see Costa Rica win the tournament, but if the Dutch bring their A-game, I think their dream for 2014 will end here. Please prove me wrong, Costa Rica! As for the USA, this is definitely the best US football team I’ve seen in a long time, and I definitely think they have the talent and skill to beat Belgium. Argentina’s a different matter. This is another game where I would love to be proven wrong, but Argentina bring years of World Cup experience, and multiple tournament wins to the field. They’ve also been playing very well. I expect the US to give them a good fight, though–it won’t be an easy victory.

So, those are my thoughts. Do you have any thoughts about the games played this past week, or the games coming up?

* I think this is why those final games are played simultaneously (see last week’s game schedule). This way, the teams in a group can’t tailor their performance according to how the other teams in the group are doing.

My Character Bloghop

My friend Cole has tagged me in a bloghop (thanks, Cole!). In this particular hop, the participants share five facts about the Main Character in their current WIP. Since I’m juggling between potential WIPs at the moment, I’ll give you five facts about Pearl, the MC in the novel I’m currently querying* (see HERE for the query if you want to know what the novel’s about).

  1. Pearl is a sixteen year old girl from Aren, the largest city in the country of Lastria on the planet Maralan. Maralan in somewhere in Andromeda.
  2. As with all Maralanians, she has blue blood, which gives her very pale skin a slight blue tint. This is one of only a handful of features that distinguish Maralanians from other humanoid life forms.
  3. Pearl has an obsessive personality. When she’s “into” something, she’s into it 200%. Her main two obsessions in life are the planet Earth and its inhabitants, and the 70s Swedish pop group ABBA. This is why she is clueless about science, and not very good at mathematics, but is fluent in English, and very well versed in late-20th and early-21st century Earth culture. She also knows the words to every song on her “ABBA Gold” CD, procured for her by her Male Guardian on a work-related trip to Earth.
  4. Pearl has no family that she knows of. As is the case with all Maralanian children, she was conceived by a “love couple,” but is being raised by Guardians. These Guardians are paid to feed, clothe, house, and educate the children under their care. Concepts such as parents, siblings, marriage, and family are things Pearl reads about in text books, but no-one on her planet really understands.
  5. Pearl has an adventurous spirit, but is almost compulsive about rules. It doesn’t help that her best friend, Trinnie, is almost as compulsive about rule-breaking. Trinnie is usually the one giving Pearl a crisis of conscience, but she also instigates her most memorable adventures. Like the time Trinnie found a time travel device in Pearl’s Guardian’s work room–a work room that was supposed to be off-limits…

If you’re a literary agent and would like to read more about that adventure, contact me. :)

Now I need to tag a few people. And I think I’ll tag… Jennifer Pickrell and Patricia Lynne. If you’ve already been tagged, then just link to your article in the comments. Thanks!

* Cole also specifically mentioned she would like to know more about Pearl, so that sort of clinches it, really.

2014 World Cup Thoughts

*sigh*… England. Despite losing to Italy, I saw such hope from the team. But having talented players can only help so much. You have to coordinate as a team, and have a plan–a strategy. When England played Uruguay, they needed a win, and after Uruguay were thrashed by Costa Rica, this didn’t seem impossible. But England just couldn’t get their act together. I’m all for national pride, and I rooted for England to win. But after their disappointing performance, I have no problem saying they deserved to lose, and it would be an injustice if they were still competing in the World Cup. Even though they’re out, England still have a game to play against Costa Rica who, against all odds, are currently leading the group. In all honesty, I don’t fancy England’s chances. This Costa Rica team are the ones to watch this tournament. They’re undefeated so far, and in a group where the other three teams are former World Cup winners, that’s very impressive. Sure, it would be nice for England to leave the contest with at least one tie or win under their belt. But the likeliest (and, I think, sweetest) result is for underdog Costa Rica to enter the round of sixteen as the undefeated Group D champions.

Of course, I have the benefit of being a naturalized US citizen, so I can root for the US with as much national pride as I would for England. And in stark contrast to England, the United States played superbly. Their win against Ghana, which was of huge psychological importance to the team, showed them to be real contenders for the cup this year. And when they played Portugal yesterday, they showed skill, organization, teamwork, and strategy. They deserved to win, and I hope the fact Portugal were able to steal a draw in the last thirty seconds of added time teach them not to be too complacent. Now the US need a draw or win against Germany to qualify. Surprisingly, Germany also need that draw or win. After trouncing Portugal in their first game, Germany looked like the team to beat, and well-deserved their second-favorite status. And since the US had beaten Ghana, I was sure Germany would have no problem. But this year’s World Cup will be remembered as the “take nothing for granted” tournament as Germany struggled for a tie. I don’t think Ghana played any better than they did against the US, so Germany should have won this one. I don’t know what happened, but if Germany want to stay in the contest, they need to not let it happen again. Right now, if Germany and the US play their third match as well as they played their second matches, the US are sure to qualify to the round of sixteen.

Unfortunately, Asia isn’t making as much of a splash as I’d hoped, though Japan are still very much alive, and South Korea battled back wonderfully against Algeria. If the Koreans had played their first half against the Algerians as well as they played the second, I think the score would have been very different. But I have to hand it to Algeria, they fought very hard for that 4-2 victory. Given they’ve never made it past the group stage, or even scored that many goals in a World Cup, I can’t feel too bad if Algeria qualify, even if South Korea go out as a result. As well as they played, maybe they deserve some time in the spotlight. Japan lost to Ivory Coast, but tied with Greece, so they need a win against Columbia to stand a chance of going through to the next round. Columbia look good, so this will be a tough game for Japan. Tough, but not impossible.

The final games of the group stage will be played this week. They’ve organized the matches so that two games play simultaneously at 12 pm EST and at 4 pm EST each day between today and Thursday. Here’s how the schedule looks. I’ve bold-typed the matches I think are ones to watch should you have to choose:

Monday, June 23 (12 pm): Netherlands vs. Chile & Australia vs. Spain
Monday, June 23 (4 pm): Cameroon vs. Brazil & Croatia vs. Mexico
Tuesday, June 24 (12 pm): Italy vs. Uruguay & Costa Rica vs. England
Tuesday, June 24 (4 pm): Japan vs. Columbia & Greece vs. Cote d’Ivoire
Wednesday, June 25 (12 pm): Nigeria vs. Argentina & Bosnia and Herzegovina vs. Iran
Wednesday, June 25 (4 pm): Honduras vs. Switzerland & Ecuador vs. France
Thursday, June 26 (12 pm): Portugal vs. Ghana & USA vs. Germany
Thursday, June 26 (4 pm): South Korea vs. Belgium & Algeria vs. Russia

The comments are open for World Cup discussion! Who are do you think are going to make it to the final?

What’s Up Wednesday

Summer has kicked in full throttle here in Eastern NC with temperatures in the mid-90s Fahrenheit (mid-30s Celsius). It doesn’t usually get this warm this early, but we did have a long winter, and we seem to have decided to skip spring, so I suppose this is what we get. But enough about the weather. What’s happening with me?

What I’m Reading

I decided to resume my WAR AND PEACE reading having taken a break after volume one of the three-volume version I have. During that break I read some great novels, culminating in Erin Bowman’s exciting debut TAKEN. I’m determined to finish W&P however. I think there’s a good story in there somewhere, though I fear it’s being obscured by the translation I’m using. I’m already considering a re-read next year using a more up-to-date translation. But I want to give this set a chance.

I’m also in the midst of beta reading. I had such a good experience being on the receiving end of beta reader comments, I want to pay it forward for someone else. It’s actually a lot of fun, and very instructive. I find myself pointing things out, then making a mental note to be sure I don’t do the same thing in my own work.

What I’m Writing

I’m still in the query trenches with nothing worth reporting so far. In my last WUW, I mentioned a detective novella I was working on turning into a novel. That’s still churning away in my head, but in the meantime, the first chapter of a completely different story has been writing itself in my head all week, so I started on that. I’m not one to work on more than one project at a time, but at this point I feel like I’m testing ideas to see which one captures my imagination the most. That will be the one I run with.

What Inspires Me Right Now

I have had a couple of personalized rejections from Agents that were actually quite encouraging. Also watching the World Cup, and seeing the athleticism and determination shown by these teams can’t help but inspire.

What Else I’ve Been Up To

As I explained on Monday, the World Cup is possibly the only sporting event I follow. Given my negative appreciation of sports, one month every four years is about as much as I can manage. Seriously, though, I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for real football, and though I have never been a die-hard fan, I appreciate the skill and athleticism involved in the game. Especially when played by the best players in the world, which is why the World Cup is usually such a delight. Some World Cups are better than others in terms of team performance, and this one has so far been one of the best I’ve seen. Brazil and Mexico played a hard-fought game yesterday, and while no goals were scored, they both played to win, pulling out their best skills and keeping us all riveted to our seats. So for the next four weeks, I’ll be talking like a sports fan. But don’t be alarmed–it won’t last.

What have you been up to? To join in the blog meme, visit the blog of either Jaime Morrow or Erin Funk for details and the linky list.

Blog Birthday #3!

Today, my blog is three years old. I can’t honestly say I expected to be able to maintain a blog this long. Surely you run out of things to say? Apparently not–well, not me anyway. This is my 750th article! If each article was 500 words long (and I know some have been well over that amount), that would be 375,000 words, which is about four-and-a-half 80,000 word novels. Or a couple of Stephen King novels. Or the next installment of A GAME OF THRONES. That’s a lot of words!

Thank you to everyone who has followed this blog so far. Especially to those of you who have left comments over the years. As of last night, my blog has received 6,942 comments. Now, close to half of those are probably my replies to your comments, but that still leaves 3,471 comments that are not mine, which is more than I ever expected.

Here are the top ten posts of all time so far:

  1. The Graham Cracker Question
  2. Banned Book Profile: The Harry Potter Series
  3. Book Review: THE SHINING by Stephen King
  4. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans: Background
  5. Banned Book Profile: All Quiet on the Western Front
  6. About cds blog
  7. The Truth about Captcha
  8. Book Review: CARRIE by Stephen King
  9. About
  10. Banned Book Profile: Twilight

So, once again, thank you for taking time out of your day to visit my blog. I hope you’ll continue to stop by, and I’ll continue to try to come up with things worth reading.

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