Blog for Stephanie Bryant, a writer with too many hobbies and not enough time.

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February 2008: Book Reviews


I read Foer’s Everything’s Illuminated last year and wasn’t a big fan. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close was a much better listen. I know this is a post-modernist book in its presentation, but since I listened to it as an audiobook, the story flowed much more smoothly than it would in print.

This is a story about a child (nine years old, but like most children written by adults, unbearably precocious) who loses his father in the World Trade Center on 9/11, and then embarks on a quest to find… whatever legacy his dad might have left him. The story is good, and there are many moments when Oscar is believably childlike. There were many moments when I cried, though of course that’s in part due to my own emotional baggage left over from that fateful date. There were also moments when I said “Oh!” because something truly surprised me in the storyline.

Overall, I’d recommend this one. Foer isn’t a great storyteller, but he crafts a good character-centered narrative here.


Victorian-era romance novel. The heroine is the hero’s great-uncle’s widow, a former commoner with a dark secret. It’s a good story, but some of the “my character is a flawed ice queen” moments felt bludgeoning.

I read this in preparation for embarking on my own novel. I strongly recommend it to anyone considering writing their first romance novel. I doubt it would help an experienced romance novelist, but you never know.


An impulse buy. I keep hoping that Alladin will lose weight faster if we play with him more, so I got this to help me think creatively about playtime with him.
I loved the heroine and eventually fell in love with the hero, but the bulk of the action in this novel takes place with their clothes on. Not that I mind, but it’s a bit odd for me to enjoy a romance novel with so few sex scenes (and not even that much reference to their passion; usually if there’s limited physical intimacy, the characters are at least thinking about each other’s physiques as well as personalities all the time).

I think you have to read about 3 books by Carl Hiaasen to “get” what he’s doing here. This is the third one for me. It’s environmentalist-messaged satire. The message is a bit heavy at times, but the satire is pretty good. Also, if you’re looking for a story that takes a plot and goes above and beyond the boundary between “just enough” and “too far,” this is probably the stuff.
I’m at the tail end of Mount Vernon Love Story, but I might just abandon it. It’s very slow going and lacks character conflict.

Up and Down

It’s been an up-and-down week here at rolling casa de Bryant.

We’ve been brushing up on our español. We leave Thursday for a week of sun, sand, sea, and Spanish lessons on the beach.

I got a job! Almost out of the blue, a company contacted me via LinkedIn to talk about a remote-work job documenting Java applications. They’re in France, which is cool, though I won’t be likely to travel there for work.

My mom got sick. She actually came down ill on Valentine’s Day, but she is still sick and in the hospital. Sister says she is doing a bit better and is now walking again, which is a very good sign.

I sold a couple of travel articles, and have been writing them this week.

I knitted the gussets for a pair of socks I’ve been making for John. Unfortunately, I knitted them wrong and had to frog back to start over. I haven’t had the heart to start over, so they languish in my knitting basket.

I wrote a few thousand words in my romance novel. Not nearly as much as I wanted, but more than I had before.

I found a pet sitter for the cat while we’re gone. I’m very pleased, and will be meeting her tomorrow to walk her through Alladin’s routine.

My computer has been spontaneously crashing/restarting. We may have traced it to a driver problem. We’ll see.

John and I went to Miami yesterday and down to Little Havana. There was, sadly, no party or even much of anything going on in the wake of Fidel Castro’s resignation. We were surprised, mildly disappointed, but ate an amazing lunch at a Cuban restaurant.

Today, hopefully unrelated to the lunch, I am sick with stomach pains. I feel a little better now, but I’ve spent most of the morning moaning and groaning and laying in bed, reading a book.

Mac: iTunes can’t copy photos from iPhoto

As long-time readers of this blog know, I have a troubled relationship with my Mac, the way some people have a troubled teenager. I love it deeply and tenderly, but sometimes it misbehaves and I just don’t know what to do with it.

The most recent frustration had to do with my iPod. You see, some time ago, I restored my iPod because I kept having this problem where it would flash the “Do not disconnect” screen, but wouldn’t actually sync. I kept having to do a soft reset to get it to start back up again. It usually synced fine the first time, but the second time would require the reset.

I’d like to state right here and now that this blog post does not talk about how to fix that problem. And, in fact, restoring the iPod did not fix the problem. The problem is a minor annoyance and doubtless wears out my iPod faster than normal use. The geniuses at the Apple Genius Bar wanted to fix that problem when I brought in my laptop and described a completely different issue, which is why I even bothered trying to fix it in the first place.

Moving right along, then. After I restored the iPod, I had problems synching it. Most things worked all right, including all my purchased music. But my photos wouldn’t sync. The error I got was that I did not have sufficient permissions to sync. What? I’m the administrator– if i don’t have permission, prompt me for my password, for crying out loud!

Anyway, I dug around. This time, the discussion group over at Apple’s Support website was no help. I saw a lot of iTunes problems and syncing problems, and I saw a couple of people who had the same problem, but no solution for it. Some of the indicators showed that it was related to my iPhoto Library being stored on an external hard drive.

In an unrelated forum post over on the forums (having to do with a similar error in iPhoto), I found some advice that people reported as working for a permissions problem in iPhoto. I decided to give it a try in fixing the similar iTunes/iPod permissions problem.

  1. Go to the iPhoto Library on the external hard drive and select File->Get Info. Wait a minute and see how much hard drive space that folder requires.
  2. Clear off enough room on the local hard drive so that you can move the entire folder from the external drive to your internal startup drive.
  3. Drag and drop the entire iPhoto Library from the external hard drive onto your local drive. I put mine inside the /home/username/Pictures folder, where it is when you first get your Mac.
  4. At some point in the copying process, you will be prompted for your administrator password. Enter it and press OK.
  5. Press and hold the Option key while you click the icon to launch iPhoto. You’ll be prompted to find an iPhoto library. Click Choose Library and navigate to the iPhoto Library folder in your local hard drive.
  6. Click OK to open it.
  7. Open iTunes and sync your iPod.

You can now move the entire iPhoto Library folder back to the external hard drive and re-open it (holding down the Option key). The permissions will be fixed and you can continue to sync your iPod even though the library is stored on the external hard drive.

You’re invited!

One of the things John and I miss the most about being on the road is our friends.

Actually, that’s not true. THE thing we miss the most is our friends. We’ve seen our family more in the last six months than we had in the previous six years, but we find ourselves feeling disconnected from our friends.


So, we invite all of our friends to join us in any of our destinations. If you’re thinking of a vacation soon, or you don’t think enough about a vacation, but realize you should, why not plan your vacation to coincide with our wanderings? And, of course, if our wanderings take us near you, do let me know. We would love to see you!

Here’s our upcoming schedule:

Now until March 25: Florida City, FL, which is 20 miles south of Miami.

February 28-March 9: Sámara, Costa Rica.

March 25-30: Jacksonville, FL

We then head up the East Coast, but not on a fixed schedule.

April 10-25: Washington, DC.

May 1-20: Massachusetts, near Boston.

May 21-26: New Haven, Connecticut

May 28-June 7: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

August 15-20 (or thereabouts, but including my birthday!): Portland, Oregon (probably not bringing the RV, though).

Many of these destinations coincide with conventions, conferences, baptisms, or weddings that John and I are attending. We have a baptism in May in Mass, a wedding at the end of May in Connecticut, and another wedding in Portland the day before my birthday.

The Philadelphia dates coincide with the STC annual conference, where I’ll be speaking at the Consultants and Independent Contractors progression session.

Jacksonville coincides with a local chapter of the Romance Writers of America. I can’t bring myself to go to San Francisco for it at the end of July, so I decided to attend a smaller local conference first. Maybe next year I’ll be ready for the big thing.

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