Friday, April 30, 2010

New York

I spent about five and a half days in New York after I left Oklahoma. It had been over ten years since I'd been in New York, so I was excited to go back for a visit.

I saw a lot of sights. My days started around 8 or 9 and ended from around midnight to 2a.m. Needless to say I was very busy and very tired!

Overall I took around 600 pictures, so obviously I have to pick a few of my favorites to share with you. If you're friends with me on Facebook, you can look for the complete set of photos sometime within the next week. It's obviously taking me a long time to edit all of them.

In front of the Rainbow Room

Mammoth skeleton at the Museum of Natural History

The main set of Wicked

Delish New York Cheesecake at Juniors

The famous lady herself!

The Manhattan Skyline

Of all the pictures I took in New York, I think this is my favorite. It looks like a painting to me.

The Bull of Wall Street

The flowers and parks in New York were gorgeous! This park is by City Hall.

View from the Brooklyn Bridge

Me on the Brooklyn Bridge!

Obviously this just covers a small portion of what I did, but maybe over the coming weeks I can do a few more detailed posts on what I actually got to see and do.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Blog Tour: The Ocean Between Us

Today I'm fortunate to be a stop on Susan Wiggs' The Ocean Between Us, blog tour.

The Synopsis:

Steve Bennett is a perfect navy officer with a perfect navy family, and he's confident that his world is just the way it should be. But his son wants to be an artist instead of attending the U.S. Naval Academy, and his stalwart and capable wife of 20 years, Grace, is tired of being the perfect navy wife. She wants her own home, and she wants her own career. She's feeling altogether unsettled, but nothing is more unsettling than the secret her husband has hidden from her their entire marriage. Nothing, that is, until the accident on the carrier.

My Review:

To be honest, I wasn't sure what to expect from The Ocean Between Us. More often than not, I've found myself not enjoying fiction about military life, either because I didn't find it accurate or it just didn't grab my interest. I can honestly say that neither of those things occurred when I read The Ocean Between Us. I actually read the entire book in one day and couldn't put it down.

What I liked best about the book was that it conveyed how hard it is to balance your own life while supporting a husband who is in the military. Sometimes it feels like our lives get put on the back burner because our husbands' career is so encompassing and I felt like this book really dealt with that issue in a way that was believable.

Now, the guest post from author Susan Wiggs

A Woman Like You
by Susan Wiggs

One of the most satisfying things about writing is creating characters. I don’t always love my main character. I might understand her inside and out, but some of them are not exactly gals I’d like to go to lunch with. Is that odd?
I didn’t love Grace Bennett, the main character of The Ocean Between Us, but from day one, I understood her. She’s a woman like you, like me, like your sister or best friend. She’s in the thick of family life, the mother of three teenagers and the wife of a handsome, ambitious man. From the outside, she looks as if she has it all, an enviable life as a Navy officer’s spouse. But something’s going on with Grace. She’s feeling discontented. This was not a likable trait–I wanted her to be grateful for what she had. But I could understand her. She’s looking around, wondering about her life. When is it going to be her time?
She discovers in the middle of her life that she has misplaced herself. This happens to women all the time. We get so caught up in running a household, managing kids and money, helping our husbands that one day we wake up and wonder: What about me? What about the dreams I put on the shelf ten or twenty years ago?
So this was a story about a woman and her marriage–a good marriage, as it happens. Novels about bad marriages abound, and I wanted this one to be about two good people who love each other, but who, over the course of their long relationship, have lost each other. Writing about a good marriage isn't easy, because by definition, a functional marriage lacks the high level of drama needed to power a novel. And up until this book, all my novels have ended with marriage, or at least with a commitment in that direction.
This was also something new for me because I was writing about a military family. Grace really came alive for me when I crafted a scene–based on real life–in which she takes part in a Change of Command ceremony. This is an elaborate event, steeped in tradition and attended by family, friends, dignitaries and a brass band, during which an officer is given his new command.
One of the most meaningful moments is when the Command Pin is pinned on the officer’s chest. This gesture is traditionally done by the spouse, with the children looking on. It’s fraught with symbolism, the ultimate gesture of sacrifice–both to her husband, and to her country, entrusting him with his command, even knowing it could take him far away from her, into the heart of danger. In this scene, Grace willingly gave her blessing to her husband’s mission, knowing he’d be gone for months at a time. She was sending him to face dangers no civilian can imagine and perhaps even come back unalterably changed–or not at all. The bravery of military families touched my heart, and I wanted to put that on the page.
That was my starting point with Grace. Then began an exploration. The story unfolded, and suddenly I realized she had quite a story to tell. Left alone with her kids as her husband, Steve, goes out to sea, she begins a journey of her own, a journey of self-discovery. And just as she’s on the brink of claiming a new life for herself, the unthinkable happens. A mishap aboard her husband’s aircraft carrier throws the entire family into a tailspin, forcing Grace to fight for everything she holds dear.
I’d love to hear about your favorite characters in fiction. Did you love them, hate them, understand them, relate to them? What characters do you remember and wonder about, and think about long after the book is closed?

If you want to read more about the book or the author, please visit the official site here.

Be sure to swing by Harlequin Blog on Monday for the next stop of Susan’s Blog tour!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Back In The Boot

I'm happy to say that after my long blogging hiatus that I have returned to Italy and should be back to blogging regularly again.

I have mixed feelings about my visit to the States. As most of you know, it was R&R for us and to be quite honest, it wasn't what I expected. I honestly thought I was passing this deployment with flying colors, but after R&R it's quite obvious that I, as well as Sean, won't come out unscathed from this deployment. R&R had its good times, but it also had its share of bad times and to put it mildly, it didn't end up being what I expected at all.

Sometimes I think it would just be easier not to have R&R, it's so hard to welcome someone home that you haven't seen in months, just to send them off again and at least for us, I believe it was hard for Sean to adjust from being in a war zone to just kicking back and relaxing.

My trip to NYC was a blast and of course I took a ton of pictures, some I will be sharing later this week once I get them uploaded and edited. So be prepared for lots of pics and stories about my trip!

Now I'm just trying to readjust from being back in the States to being back in Europe. I'm actually pretty homesick right now. More so than I have been in the last year. I'm hoping in the next week or so that will kind of pass and I'll get back to enjoy living here.

Make sure you come back tomorrow! I'm hosting a stop on a tour for author Susan Wiggs, who has a new fiction book on a military marriage. I'll be giving my review of the book and also featuring a guest blog from Susan.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Flashback Friday

In honor of R&R, I'm putting up a picture of Sean and I.

We were in Houston in this picture at an Astros/Red Sox game. Sean is a huge baseball fan (although the Cubs are really his team) and so we thought it'd be a fun day for us.

Looking at this picture you'd think we had a great day huh? In my tradition of keeping it real, I'll tell you guys we actually had a very off day that day and were nitpicking each other about the stupidest things, but in the grand scheme of things it didn't matter and I look back at pictures from that day and laugh.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Short and Sweet

This post is going to be just what the title says.

I have a million things running through my head today. Mainly because I'm leaving for the States on Saturday and Sean is in-transit as well. I'm really hoping he doesn't get bumped from this flight tonight, but we'll see. He's pretty lucky so he just might make it.

I'm sure I won't be on here that much while I'm back in the States. Never fear though, I'll eventually get back to blogging regularly and when I return I'm sure I'll have 1001 photos to share with you.

Here are some highlights (well at least in my book) of what I'm going to do back in the States
-See my husband for the first time in 4 months
-Eat my weight in Mexican food
-Shop at Old Navy and Forever 21 and not online
-Attend my Gpa's 80th birthday (a bunch of my family will be there too so I'm pumped)
-possible road trip to Amarillo to dine at The Big Texan (home of the 72 ounce steak)
-perhaps a baseball game
-Boudoir pictures (I'm very excited yet nervous about them)
-My solo trip to NYC for 5 days

Other than that we don't have much planned. Sean's not really a "plan maker"

I will probably go ahead and blog tomorrow, but in the meantime think good thoughts for me and my flight. If you've been around for awhile you know how much I HATE flying.