mollyringle: (Default)
Hi all!

So: I have a completed contemporary male/male love story (95,000 words, rom-com/coming-of-age) that has undergone some beta-reading, but what it still needs is a Britpicker. Though from the POV of an American, the story takes place partly in London and has plenty of English characters. (Yes, this is the one about Sinter, for those of you who've been around this journal a really long time.) So if anyone with London (or at least UK) linguistic instincts is willing to go through it for accuracy in terms of dialect and Brit-related details, I would be so grateful!

I will happily beta a manuscript for you in return, or read and review a published one, or Yankpick (is that the word?)--whatever it is you need lately.

Message and/or email me! (writermollyringle at gmail dot com)
mollyringle: (fruit)
My mom called me the other day to tell me about this Underworld-ish place she suddenly remembered: the Forestiere Underground Gardens in Fresno, California.

A Sicilian immigrant almost a century ago hand-carved rooms and passageways in the hardpan beneath the thin farmland soil, and used it as a living space, a cool refuge from the hot California summer sun. Down there he also planted several fruit trees that could receive sunlight through skylight-type openings above. Fruit trees underground, people! It's my Underworld! It's even designed after the ancient Roman catacombs, so, properly Mediterranean.

Amusing addendum: my mom lived in Fresno in her teen years, and found out about this place when she was out with some friends one night. The guys said to the girls, "We're going to show you this cool place, but you have to tell NO ONE." At the time, the Underground Gardens were just fenced-off territory with "no trespassing" signs around it, so they had to sneak in with flashlights. Apparently most people in the city had no idea it was out there; you can't see much from ground level.

So my mom was late getting home after exploring the place, and her parents demanded to know where she'd been and why she hadn't called. (This was the 1950s, well before cell phones.) She finally broke down and told them about it, begging them not to get anyone in trouble. Her dad (my grandfather) declared, "Daughter, I sell real estate insurance. I know every square foot of this area, and I know there is no such place. Where were you REALLY?"

And that forever remained his final word on it. He never believed her. (He died more than 20 years ago.) But now you can tour the gardens, which really do exist! :)
mollyringle: (Rain - leaves)
As you probably haven't heard, because California's admittedly more serious drought has overshadowed ours in the news, the Pacific Northwest this summer has very much NOT been its characteristic rainy self. Actually--and no one from outside the region ever believes this, but it's true--we usually do get dry summers. It's normal for the grass in Seattle to have turned brown by August. But this year the drought started in spring, kept up relentlessly, and was coupled with unusual heat that also persisted week after week. Leaves have been turning brown and falling off in great enough numbers that I had to rake in early August. That is NOT normal.

But! On Friday it rained! In fact, it freaking poured. It had rained a little, a couple of times, between May and now, but only enough to sprinkle the air and make it muggy. It was nothing like this. After so many months suffering from the heat wave, I experienced such a surge of happiness that it felt almost like I was in love with the rain.

Making it better still, my family and I were on our way to Mount Rainier for the weekend when the storm moved in. We rolled down the car windows and inhaled the gorgeous mossy fragrance of Rainier's thick evergreen forests freshly drenched with rain. Our rental cabin had a hot tub, so we got to relax in steaming water with cool rain filtering through the trees above us and dripping on our heads. We got to fall asleep with the gentle sound of raindrops pattering on the cabin roof.

Getting drenched at Paradise Inn:

Then yesterday the clouds cleared, so we could actually SEE the mountain, which was a plus too. Best of both worlds.

Being in love with the rain isn't a new feeling for me. You can probably tell I don't like hot weather anyway. In fact, I could live without it being above 80 F (27 C) ever again in my life. It's part of why I live in the Northwest: not only is the cool, wet cloudiness what I'm used to, having been born here, but it's what I like. (Some people are born here and end up loving hot, dry weather best. Others are born in hot, dry places and love cool climates best. I'm convinced it's not a "nurture" issue, or at least not entirely, but more of a taste/preference issue.)

While I'm on the subject, I will share with you two other times that come to mind in which I felt in love with rain:

1) Davis, California, November 2001: Since it was central California, it basically didn't rain at all from April through October, and was hellishly hot as well. We got all the way to November before a proper drenching rain swept in. That morning when I got up for class, in the dark (an 8:00 a.m. section means getting up in the dark in November), I didn't mind the earliness or the darkness at all. My heart was soaring. I opened the bathroom window and inhaled the sweet rain scent. I biked to class in the dark, in the rain, and adored every second of it. Yes. In love.

2) London, England, August 1995: It was my first visit to the U.K., with my parents and younger sister. Our ten-day stay unfortunately coincided with an unusual heat wave. Like the Pacific Northwest, Britain doesn't have air conditioning in most buildings because they "don't need it," so that made things even more uncomfortable. But on our last evening there, back in London after the week's bus tour around Great Britain, the heat eased and a gentle rain began falling. My sister and I danced in the hotel parking lot in it. Experiencing rain in England: I mean, come on, that's a must.

Am I still in love with rain after it's been around for three months straight? Well, no. Or at least, less so. Variety is the key here; that's the thing. But I do get tired of heat a lot faster. Now our forecast calls for another week of dry warmth...sigh. Oh my lover rain, you were fabulous, but I'd like to see you a little more often this time of year. 
mollyringle: (comet)
One type of Christmas card or holiday image I always particularly liked was the star of Bethlehem scene: a lovely star in a deep blue winter night sky, over the warm yellow-tan hues of desert sand and camels and torchlit Middle East ancient buildings. Not because of the religious moment, but because of the colors and the beauty of the composition. So I think one reason I long to visit the Southwest, especially in winter when all we have up here is gray, is that they have that same color palette going on, with the adobe and the dry clear skies.

Santa Fe, NM, San Miguel church

Santa Fe, I will be in you, someday sooner rather than later if I get my way.
mollyringle: (Vettriano - umbrella - by c_sharp_icons)
Five stars: Distraction by J.L. Campbell

J.L. Campbell is an excellent writer, and proves it in this novel, where she takes some difficult and sometimes taboo themes (adultery, addictions, domestic abuse, sexually transmitted diseases) and writes with beauty and compassion about them. My heart went out to these three women and their lovers and families, who live through an exciting soap opera of problems as this novel develops. Though this is "women's fiction" rather than "romance"--because the romance genre often doesn't dare touch said taboo themes--there is plenty of romantic interest that had me sighing and cheering and feeling bereft as the relationships twisted and changed. Take for example Xavier, a serious distraction to the married Justine: he's tall, gorgeous, patient, understanding, *and* can play guitar and sing. Yeah, I see how she got distracted. Yum!

Best of all was the flavor that the setting lent to the whole story. Campbell excels at sprinkling enough Jamaican dialect and cultural details (foods, plants, gorgeous beaches...) into the novel to make me feel like I got to know the island, without it ever being confusing. Since I've never been to the Caribbean, and wasn't sure what to expect of the culture, that was especially interesting and fun.

From the teaser chapter of the sequel, at the end of this novel, I get the impression there'll be more coming from these characters, for which I'm glad. I want the soap opera to go on! Great beach read, whether you're anywhere near the Caribbean or not.
mollyringle: (couple w/ umbrella on street)
Whoa. I hadn't quite grasped the extent to which Eponine really is the crazy jealous stalker girl. idea flashed through her mind, to fling herself into that death, as she would have done into any other, and to thrust Marius into it also. ...She died with the tragic joy of jealous hearts who drag the beloved being into their own death, and who say: "No one shall have him!"

In short, she leads Marius to the barricade after *withholding* a letter Cosette tried to send to him. Finding Cosette's house abandoned, he plunges into despair and is willing to die. Which indeed is an overreaction on his part, and Eponine does at least take a bullet for him and finally give him the letter, which I suppose evens out her final tally. But still. Not exactly cool, girl.

How come she gets all the good songs in the musical, dang it? Poor maligned Cosette.

In other news, I love that Victor Hugo is so precise about addresses, because it enables us to Google-Street-View them and peek at what's there today. Cosette and Valjean's house, containing the garden where Cosette and Marius meet in secret for a couple of idyllic months, is evidently at 55 Rue Plumet. Marius lives at 16 Rue de la Verrerie with his friend Courfeyrac. Those streets are both still there, not that they look much like they would have circa 1830. (I could find the Rue Plumet, but not a No. 55, and no gardens resembling Cosette's.) The barricade upon which they fight is in Rue de la Chanvrerie, and that confuses Google Maps, so the name probably got changed.
mollyringle: (lightning)
Dudes, you've got to read this:

I have to post this article because it's fascinating, hilarious, and terrifying all at once. Interestingly, the comments on it seem to agree with my instinct: the Strid, the innocent-looking creek in the UK that drowns everyone who touches it, is the scariest. That's precisely because it is so innocent-looking. It's also because, jeez, English landscapes aren't supposed to be deadly! Every other continent, sure--no one's surprised to find Africa featuring twice on this list--but England? Where a gentle 1,000-foot-tall hill is a mighty mountain, and serious weather means a foot of snow? Regardless, it houses The Stream That Will Suck You Under To Unknown Depths and Drown You and They Will Never Find Your Body.


Mind you, I did LOL later in the article when they refer back to "jumping the Pleasant Brook of Death." There is comedy gold throughout here. Dark-comedy gold.
mollyringle: (sleep girl)
Open question for those with kids:
How old did your kids have to be before your family vacations actually felt like vacations? Rather than feeling like variations on the usual stress, that is?

Maybe this comes down to the question: At what age does a person learn to relax quietly for an extended period of time, and respect the relaxation of others? When I put it that way, it occurs to me that some people are just born with that ability, while others never learn it their whole lives. But I assume most are somewhere in between, antsy as kids but learning to relax and chill as adults. And I'm wondering when that happens.

Yep. I only come to you for the tough questions, o random internet people.
mollyringle: (tea setting)
I'm starting to think I need a spreadsheet of all the teas I've sampled, since the number is growing and may someday match the number of perfumes I've tried on. The subject deserves equal written records of my reviews. In any case, here's today's:

I'm trying a new tea I ordered from Seattle's Perennial Tea Room, a China black called Keemun Hao Ya A. It's quite good, and has the unique and fascinating feature of smelling (and thus tasting, in a way) like the inside of Westminster Abbey. Or so my scent memory keeps insisting. You might not think a flavor of old, damp, historic stone, with a hint of candle smoke and beeswax sweetness, is something one would enjoy drinking, but then you'd be forgetting what an Anglophile I am. I tell you, I sip it, and I'm standing in a dim, high-arched forest of stone, gazing at the tomb of Queen Elizabeth I.

It's possible it also smells exactly like some ancient buildings in China, but having never been there, I can't answer to that. Or, it could be that all structures in the British Isles have been steeped in the scent of tea by now, given the importance and ubiquity of tea in British history. Still, this one does have a quality I haven't encountered before, wherein the warm, wet leaves enter the scent territory shared by warm, wet stone or even wet hair or fur (someone who didn't like this might find notes of "wet dog" in it)--yet, really, I swear, it's good! It's such an interesting flavor that I've even foregone the splash of milk I usually add to hot black tea, because I didn't want to dilute my Drinkable Westminster Abbey experience.
mollyringle: (perfume ad)
Last month we spent some vacation time at my in-laws' house, which is a new, clean, dry, prefab dwelling in central California. When we got back, our 1940s Seattle house smelled old and musty in a striking way that I usually don't notice. It wasn't an altogether bad smell--it mostly reminded me of secondhand record stores and vintage movie theaters. Still, I had to wonder, is that the smell that hits everyone in the nose when they enter our house?

However, yesterday we returned from a weekend at my parents' vacation house across Puget Sound, a 1960s kit house (cabin, even) coated inside and out with smoke, sand, marine air, fir needles, dog hair, and probably 324 kinds of mildew or mold. (Really, it's charming, and the location is possibly my favorite on Earth, but such is the state of the interior air quality there.) When we came home after that, my nose found with pleasant surprise that our house smelled crisp and clean and fresh.

The difference is possibly due in part to the length of time our house was unoccupied--ten days in the first case, only a day and a half in the second. Being unlived-in and having the thermostat turned down and the windows shut probably contributes to a disused smell of its own. But I can't help thinking the main part of the difference lies in the air we got acclimated to in each case while we were away--arid and new on the one hand, damp and quaintly crumbling on the other. I guess our house's smell lies somewhere in between, and it's likely that whoever enters it will smell mainly the difference between our house and what they personally are used to.

This just goes to show that those designing perfumes, or studying olfactory science, have a heck of a lot of subjectivity to factor into their calculations. I wish them the best of luck.
mollyringle: (kodama)
It isn't like me to post something creepy and sad with pretty much no hint of "cool" or "funny." But this is bizarrely riveting, and, initially, scary enough to make "The Blair Witch Project" look like the silly little joke that it is. As the clip's info explains: "The Aokigahara Forest is the most popular site for suicides in Japan. After the novel Kuroi Jukai was published, in which a young lover commits suicide in the forest, people started taking their own lives there at a rate of 50 to 100 deaths a year."


So. These are two segments of a short Japanese TV documentary, each about 10 minutes. (Warning: not highly graphic, but certainly disturbing content.)

When I watched the first section -
- I was mostly just creeped out.

But after moving on and watching the second section -
- I settled down to a general sadness, and a great fondness for the kindly geologist with this strange and vital job of sweeping the forest to prevent suicides when he can, and find the ones he couldn't prevent.

Since we're on the subject, I'd like to share the wise words of Ed Chigliak from "Northern Exposure":
"Suicide's not the Indian way. Don't go where you're not invited. Know what I mean?"
A good rule. Make it yours too, my friends.

Edit: For further reading, this blogger traveled to Aokigahara and wrote a detailed account of his journey, complete with some photos and videos. A very chilling and sobering place indeed, and a brave traveler.
mollyringle: (Default)
I'm pleased to welcome another bona fide author to my blog for an interview! Joy Campbell, writing as J.L. Campbell, is the author of the romantic thriller Contraband, recently out from Nevaeh Publishing. Welcome, Joy!

What elements do your stories always contain?

I’ve come to appreciate that writers have themes and somehow, the same elements creep into my novels - choices, family, relationships, a little murder, a lot of mayhem, and of course, love.

One thing I find especially unusual and fascinating about your stories is their setting--Jamaica--because I knew so little about it before. What do you wish people understood better about your home land?

Half the time, the bad stuff is what gets into the news, and as always a few people make things bad for many honest, hard-working Jamaicans. If I lived abroad, I’d probably be inclined to crusade and tell everybody that we’re not all bad people. But then they would probably think me demented.

I’ve learned over time that Jamaica is a good asset to my writing, so the island is a character in each novel. We have a rich cultural history, beautiful landscape, indigenous animals, lots of racial diversity, great athletes, and of course, the reggae music that has made the island famous.

What's one genre you would like to try writing in someday?

Historical fiction - maybe something set in Egypt – is something I’d like to try my hand at. I hold writers of historical fiction and fantasy in high regard. The thought of all that research and world building boggles my mind. It’s awesome when a writer can bring a totally alien world to life with their wordsmithing skills. Not to mention those writers who can paint a wonderful setting without ever having visited the country around which their story is written.

And how about one genre you doubt you'll ever write?

I don’t read much science fiction and I may have a mental block where such novels are concerned. I’m not sure I’m good at working through the science, technology, strange creatures and such that are involved. More than I can wrap my head around, you know?

What's your biggest, most far-fetched, dream-come-true wish when it comes to your writing? (e.g., Personal endorsement by Oprah and your favorite hot actor, etc.)

Dare I say the New York Times Best Seller List? Good thing dreams are free; however, having my book read by people worldwide (even if the numbers are only a few thousand) would be something of an achievement, and not so far-fetched when you think about e-publishing and the impact it has had on the reading public.


Thank you, Joy! Learn more about her writing at:
mollyringle: (Scotland - hills and thistles)
I am seeking a beta-reader of sorts for a novel set in Edinburgh, and due to be published as an ebook within a couple of months (hurray!). What I need is someone who knows Scottish speech habits and Edinburgh very well, so you can catch any errors I've made on those counts.

You wouldn't have to worry about plot, character development, formatting, or grammar, except within Scottish characters' dialogue, perhaps. You'd merely read through and see if any Scotland-related mistakes jump out at you. Also, I would want this read-through done by the end of July, ideally. Short notice, I know--apologies.

In return I'd send you paperbacks of both my existing published novels--The Ghost Downstairs and Summer Term (though that one doesn't come out till Aug. 27, so you'd have to wait a bit)--and the ebook of this one, What Scotland Taught Me, once it's all polished up pretty. I'll happily send the paperback of this one too if it ever goes into a print edition.

The novel is about 100,000 words long (eek!), genre is teen lit crossing over into women's fiction, and mood is realistic and somewhat romantic-comedic. Feel free to advertise among your Scottish friends. I may take on more than one such reader to cover my bases, if I get more than one taker.

To apply, either comment here or email me directly-- writerofirony at earthlink dot net. I think I have enough takers for now. Thank you so much!
mollyringle: (Scotland - hills and thistles)
We've just returned from a couple days on beautiful Mount Rainier. Here's a mini photo travelogue. The pictures are big, but as such you could use them for wallpaper.

Okay, I don't know why, but when you click on these, it might first say "You don't have access," blah blah blah. But if you copy and paste the link, it should work. Why? I wish I knew.

The mountain herself, from the Paradise area.

The view from our room at Paradise Inn, elevation 5,400 feet. None too shabby. That Inn, by the way, closes to most guests in early October, and in mid-winter is buried in snow up to its third or fourth story.

Some of the famed gorgeous wildflowers. Predominantly lupines here.

The boys at the highest point of our hike, which was probably a little over 6,000 feet up. (Mount Rainier is about 14,000 feet high, for perspective.)

A glimpse of the turquoise waters of Snow Lake.

Speaking of snow...oops, there appears to be a snowbank over the trail. That's leftover snow from winter, not early autumn snow, I'm pretty sure. Incidentally, I'm the one wearing a small child on my back, and the other lady is an unknown fellow hiker.

The Tatoosh range at Rainier's feet.
mollyringle: (moon over ocean)
Two mildly amusing things of late:

1) Spotted a cartoon in American Scientist titled "Fermat's Last Novel," with caption, "That's it, 'Guy gets girl, war then peace, don't have enough time to put it all down here, will flesh out later'?"

Sounds like what goes on in my head much of the day.

2) While channel-surfing, we lingered on a travel show about the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. My two-year-old son pointed at the screen, beaming, and said, "Look at all the cows!"

That's what the drunk tourists in Pamplona say, too. Seconds before getting gored.
mollyringle: (Doctor Who 10 - glasses)
If you, like me, are in the chilly Northern Hemisphere and pining for the green of spring, maybe you would be interested in this wallpaper:

I took this photo near Hadrian's Wall in Northumberland, England, in April of 2004. People had left coins on this ancient old stone pedestal, for luck or to appease the fairies or something, I assume. I should note that the wall in the photo is not actually Hadrian's Wall. It's a sheep fence, more likely, whose stones were possibly stolen from the original Wall.

Doctor Who watching notes: we recently saw the two-parter "Human Nature"/"Family of Blood," which was like getting to see David Tennant perform a different role altogether. If you (like me) are into that idea, it makes for good viewing. If you (like my husband) want to watch Doctor Who in order to actually see the Doctor, it isn't so great.

But we both agreed on tonight's episode, "Blink," being awesome. It reminded me of Buffy's "Hush" episode, in being artistically beautiful and terrifying at the same time, with tight writing, many a cool twist, and plenty of humor to save the day. Can we just let Steven Moffat write all the episodes, please? Oh, and my husband remarked that Sally Sparrow is cute. Even I thought so, and I don't generally swing that way. I see now why her name crops up so often in fandom discussions, even if she never shows up in another episode. (I don't know as of this writing whether she does. I may spoil myself by going to look it up, though.)

Cheers and goodnight.
mollyringle: (tree by water - by pear_icons)
1. Where I've been the last couple days: Mt Rainier, in the mists and the mosses. Stayed in the low elevations--probably no higher than 4500 feet--but still feel that hiking in my leg muscles.

2. I finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and while I work on a condensed parody version I am curious to see other people's reactions, so point me to your reviews or leave comments here. I thought it a very engrossing read that tied things up pretty well--though not quite everything. I will stop there to keep from being a spoiler-head. But, warning, spoilers may end up getting discussed in the comments.

3. It's really hard to keep a straight face when reading some children's books. I'm thinking here primarily of the one that has a squirrel running around asking all the woodland creatures, "Excuse me, have you seen my nuts?" We're juvenile, I know, but really. You try repeating that over and over and not giggling.
mollyringle: (Froud - bad faeries)
Check out the bottom half of this picture. I'm pretty sure, almost certain in fact, that that's not a California leaf-nosed bat.

That's from a free children's publication that shows up in our mail for some reason. Hope the kids reading it are smart enough to catch that little error.

Anyway, we are back from a week in California (didn't see any bats nor bears, though we did see a coyote, a raccoon, several deer, lots of birds, and many farm animals), and our misgivings about taking little Z on the plane were unfounded. He was a prince. He was pretty much a prince the entire trip, actually. Flirted and babbled and waved at people, let his grandparents walk him around, played very nicely with another couple babies his age. Whew. I'd love to take credit, but personality may just be inborn. ;)

His name, by the way, if you ask him, is "Doo-dah." Linguistically speaking, I think he may actually be trying to say "Zach." The Z sound, being a fricative, is trickier for young tongues than the D sound (a stop; stops like M, B, D, G come early and easier). So in trying to pronounce a Z he may kind of stutter a D instead--same place of articulation for both; the alveolar ridge behind the front teeth--and then proceed with the "a". Getting to the "K" sound at the end would be too complicated for now; he'll add that when he can handle more sounds in one syllable.

So, Dooda it is. This is how nicknames get started...
mollyringle: (Monkeemen)

And maybe in front of a tree they can put a sign that says "Tree."
mollyringle: (Monkeemen)
Quotes from conversation lately, recorded mostly for my own amusement...

MOLLY: I'd rather go to Disneyland than Vegas.

STEVE: There's a race to the bottom.

MOLLY: At least Disneyland's motives are purer.

STEVE: Are they, really?

MOLLY: Okay, then at least there's less prostitution in Disneyland.

BOTH: (after a pause) Is there, really?


STEVE takes off wedding ring in preparation for washing dishes, and makes dramatic point of putting it down on counter, as if renouncing entire marriage.

STEVE: I've had it with this crap. I ain't your baby-daddy, and I'm going on Maury Povich to prove it!


mollyringle: (Default)

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