Monday, February 27th, 2012
The National Education Association celebrates Read Across America annually on Dr. Seuss’s birthday, March 2, but the local elementary schools are celebrating all this week.
Today, the kids started the program with a reading of The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss, and at random intervals throughout the day, they had to DEAR: Drop Everything and Read.
Part of the fun was loudly dropping one’s pencil on the desk to clatter, and scootching out your chair to go find a book.
(Personally, I would love it if the boss called out intervals of “DEAR” at work on occasion. I think it would make the work day much more relaxed.)
I’ve been invited to read to a class of first graders tomorrow. I’m so excited!
I was asked to read my favorite children’s book, which, unfortunately is probably too long and too scary, for first graders. I speak of Patricia Coffin’s The Gruesome Green Witch. It’s a treasure unto itself: written and illustrated in green ink.
Instead I’ve chosen to read Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, written and illustrated by Virginia Lee Burton.
Had I thought about it longer, I might have read, Ferdinand, by Munroe Leaf. I adore this story.
I love them both, so I’m equally pleased to read one or the other.
Do you have a favorite book? Do you ever DEAR? Do tell!
(And just for completeness’ sake, here’s the cover of Patricia Coffin’s The Gruesome Green Witch.)
Thursday, June 9th, 2011
My to-be-read pile fell over.
It’s been threatening to do so for quite some time, but I haven’t heeded the warning. Good thing I don’t tend to stack things taller than myself.
I may have been hurt in the ensuing avalanche.
I’m also lucky that only a little more than half toppled over. The other bits are on a small, sturdy book shelf, with two large baskets (full of books) on top. Those survived the descent into messiness.
What I need to do is go through the pile and determine if there are any that there’s no hope I’ll ever get to …and then give them away.
(Seriously: with so many new books being printed, where will I find the time to catch up on these?)
But it’s so hard to choose which should go: old sci-fi classics with outdated science, but “necessary” for me to read to complete my education? The literary fiction which I know will probably bore me to tears?
(Disclaimer: I have read *some* lit fic I’ve enjoyed, it’s just that with me it’s hit or miss.)
What about all those gift books by well-meaning friends, who don’t have a clue about what I’d actually read if I’d picked it out myself?
Ahh, I see one about angels right on top. I know someone who may enjoy it more than I. I think I’ll pass that one along at the first opportunity.
There are more than a hundred books in this pile. (Yes, there are others stacked up elsewhere. Don’t tell the Husband of Awesome™.)
I suppose I could re-order them by length (rather than haphazardly putting the newest acquisitions on top), and read the shortest ones first. That might weed out several in a fairly short time. Similarly, I could read all the YA first, since they’re usually quick reads for me.
Or, I could toss out all the oldest ones, thinking that if I haven’t gotten to them yet, I probably won’t. But then, how will I know if I’m passing up a good read?
How do you tame your pile when it gets so large that finishing them seems like a monumental task?
Note: The photo above is not the photo of my poor, beleaguered books. Nonetheless, it’s a fairly good representation in both amount and subject matter!
Monday, January 17th, 2011
I have leaped joyfully into Debra Dixon’s Goal, Motivation & Conflict this morning. (Just one of the fabulous gifts I received for Christmas!)
On the back cover it says, “How to use these key elements to give dimension to your characters and direction to your plot.”, which, IMO, is a sentence fragment, and has no business being on the cover of a non-fiction book. However, it leads me to believe that by reading this book I will be able to work out the snags in my current work-in-progress.
Since I’m only on page 2 (of Dixon’s book), I can’t tell you how true that is. But I will write a review once I’m done.
On the fiction side, I’m reading Barbara Hambly’s Sisters of the Raven (one of the books I picked up during my Ravencon #bookfail).
So far, so good. It takes place in a world where magic was the sole enterprise of men and, suddenly, men find themselves losing their powers and women gaining them. The first two chapters have been very exciting.
So…what are you reading, anything good?
Monday, November 15th, 2010
For all of 2010, BroadUniverse has been making monthly podcasts based on our famous “Rapid Fire Readings.” An RFR is usually held at a bookstore or convention and five or six BroadUniverse members read for only a few moments each.
It’s our way of giving you a “taste” of the writings of many authors, as opposed to one author for an extended length of time.
The 10th episode is all about dragons and other magical beasts and includes readings from me, from The Dragon’s Clause, as well as Sarah Micklem, Diane Whiteside, Danielle Ackley McPhail, and Justine Graykin.
You can download the Broad Pod and listen to it from this page. The November offering is at the top of the list, but the other 9 episodes are available, too.
If you right-click the episode, you can also add it to your iTunes list.
Tuesday, October 12th, 2010
With one exception, I’m declaring a moratorium on book acquisitions until the new year.
(I say “acquisitions” rather than purchase, because I’m just as likely to borrow a half-dozen books from the library or receive an ARC for review as I am to walk into a book store and buy a few. Alas. And these things tend to pile up.)
I vaguely remember mentioning this last year, but for the life of me, I can’t find the post. Maybe I only thought about declaring a moratorium last year…but this time I’m taking action.
The reason: I have more than thirty (30!) books in my to-be-read (TBR) pile, several of which I need to review for folks. (This number does not include books that I’ve purchased on the off-chance I might get around to reading some day.) If I keep obtaining books like this, I’ll never get to finish those promised reviews before December 31. That’s a self-imposed deadline, btw. I just don’t like having accepted books and keeping people waiting on reviews.
My bookshelves are shelved double-deep and I count nine separate stacks of books in this room alone – two of which are in danger of toppling. If I didn’t know better, I’d say the books were breeding on their own.
So, here’s the exception (and the danger)…
I have an hour-plus one-way commute to my day job and I listen to audio books to pass the time. Depending on the length of the book, I plow through one, sometimes two, during the work week. This requires a lot of trips to the bookstore and/or library.
And therein lies the danger: setting foot in either always results in a purchase or loan.
My plan: to stay out of either until my TBR pile is “substantially” reduced.
But temptation looms already!
I received a call from the library yesterday that one of the audio books I reserved is in. (I’ll be stopping by after work today to pick it up.)
And I’ll be reading at Constellation Books on October 30. [Details Here] I already know this is a deal breaker as far as my moratorium is concerned: it’s just not polite to be invited to a book store and not buy something. So, I’m not counting this purchase in my moratorium.
If I’m diligent, I should be able to knock out quite a few of the to-be-reads before January 1. And if I’m lucky, I can replace a few of them with audio books and kill two birds with one stone.
At least, that’s the plan.
Wednesday, September 29th, 2010
So I stopped at the library after work yesterday to pick up a CD I’d been wanting to listen to, but can’t ever seem to find on the shelf.
Reserves are right near the door, so I could have stopped there, checked it out and left — which was my intent. But no, my brain had other ideas and I found myself walking past the books-for-sale and the 7-day loans (for the most popular books!) and deeper into the stacks of the library.
In no time at all, I had a pile of books in my arms.
And when I got home, I dove right in…finishing one entire novel, reading 76 pages of a second, and (sheesh, help me now) 47 pages of a third (this due to the fact that I couldn’t decide which to read first.) While I was reading second, the third just sat beside me, accusingly…aching to be read. I couldn’t help myself.
To make matters worse, I’m already reading a fabulous novel which I’m reviewing for SFReader (Elaine Isaak’s The Singer’s Crown …and I have Beth Bernobich’s Passion Play on tap to review for the Goodread’s First Reader program.
Good thing I’m a fast reader.
Still…it’s like a sickness, this reading thing. Just like writing (I can’t stop myself from doing that, either.)
Anyone else addicted to reading?
Thursday, January 21st, 2010
Occasionally, I write reviews for SFreader.com.
(It’s a fabulous place, by the way, packed with information and reviews for SF & F readers and writers. You should check it out.)
SFReader.com just posted my review for Jeremy Lent’s Requiem of the Human Soul.
I thought about dual-posting the review here, but decided against it. Instead, I urge you to go to SFReader.com and read the review….while you’re there, look at all the other stuff SFReader.com has to offer.
(Short Review: Fabulous. I couldn’t put it down. For the synopsis (rather long, due to the complex plot) and my full review you really need to go to SFReader.com.)
Have I said it enough times yet? Go read the review!
And, in case you missed it, my review for Kimberly Raye’s Just One Bite is also available on SFReader.com here. (Not my usual cup of tea…but I thoroughly enjoyed this one, too.)
Keep Your Fingers Crossed
I got an invitation to the Bad Ass Fairies 3 launch party today. That means that my story “Selk-Skin Deep” is under consideration to be published in that anthology. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Won’t you do the same?
The party will take place the Sunday evening of Balticon, which I’d already planned to attend. My schedule is going to be jam-packed…but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Looking forward to seeing you there!
Tuesday, July 14th, 2009
A friend sent me a link from Jay Nordlinger.
One of Nordlinger’s readers wrote to say that he recently picked up a 2008 reprint of Chesterton’s Everlasting Man (Wilder Publications) and was surprised to find a disclaimer by the publisher on the title page. I’ve snagged the cover page so you can read it, starting with, “This book…”
In case you have images turned off, here’s the quote:
“This book is a product of its time and does not reflect the same values as it would if it were written today. Parents might wish to discuss with their children how views on race have changed before allowing them to read this classic work.”
The reader says:
“As my father-in-law would say, this is ludicrous! It is wrong in so many ways I don’t know where to begin. In the first place, it is an act of cowardice on the part of the publishers. If they were ashamed of the content, why did they print it in the first place? It is also an act of arrogance: How dare they presume to know how Chesterton would have written his book today? Or to apologize on his behalf? Somehow, I find it difficult to imagine that Chesterton would have been cowed by the strictures of political correctness. . . .
If the publisher had included a preface that properly discussed the issues they fear may be of concern, that would be one thing. But to print a cigarette-packet-style warning so that parents can prepare their children for the “horrors” ahead is unseemly.”
Says Nordlinger, “Very modern. Very dumb.”
I agree. On my reading list are several classic novels, a few of which might require this type of “warning” label if such a practice becomes de rigueur. But I can’t help but feel a tad bit insulted. Do people really need to explain the content of a book clearly written in a different age? You tell me.
Monday, July 6th, 2009
This is a review for my Project 100: Fill in the Gaps project.
The plot (from Wikipedia).
The rich landowner Sir Charles Baskerville is found dead in the park of his manor, surrounded by the moorland of Dartmoor, in the county of Devon. He appears to have died from heart attack, but the victim’s close friend, Dr Mortimer, is convinced that the death was due to a supernatural creature, which haunts the moor in the shape of an enormous hound with blazing eyes and jaws. Fearing for the safety of Baskerville’s heir, his nephew Sir Henry, coming to London from Canada, Dr Mortimer appeals for help from Sherlock Holmes.
The Hound of the Baskervilles is the first thing I’ve read by Arthur Conan Doyle. I expected not to like this (very short) book for at least two reasons: 1) I usually don’t like to read mysteries, and 2) the antiquated style of writing was certain to turn me off. However, I enjoyed the tale so much that I believe I’ll be adding Arthur Conan Doyle to my reading list.
It’s funny that I don’t like to read mysteries. As a pre-teen I devoured those one-minute mystery books for kids…couldn’t get enough of them. Adult mysteries have usually felt contrived, and I lack the patience to figure out what is a clue and what is not. The Hound didn’t feel contrived at all to me…and when clues were slung in my direction, I knew it (even if I couldn’t figure out what they meant at the time). But knowing what they were increased my enjoyment of the story, because I could noodle over their significance at odd times – like when cooking dinner.
The first page or two of writing caused me some consternation. Doyle employs several, “As you know, Bobs,” (See the Turkey City Lexicon) in the opening dialogue which is openly contrived in order to deliver some necessary information. Beyond that, the writing smooths out, and although a bit wordy (IMHO), it includes many elegant passages.
Interestingly, the book begins in Dr. Watson’s point of view, and then changes to a letter format when Watson and Holmes split up (Watson to Devonshire, Holmes to remain in London). The letters are from Watson to Holmes – so still in his POV. There is also an instance of an “excerpt from Watson’s Diary” used to tell the tale. The style reverts back to Watson’s POV once Holmes joins him in Devonshire.
All of the loose ends are tidied up in meticulous detail via conversation of Watson and Holmes in the last chapter entitled, “A Retrospection.” The clues are explained and a tremendous amount of the back story is filled in by Holmes. For me, this was the hardest part of the book to read: it starts out with a long-winded description by Watson of why so much time has passed since the end of the case and now, when he and Holmes were discussing it. Per Watson, Holmes has solved two other cases in between. Why this is important – other than to show a passage of time (which I can’t figure out the importance of) – I don’t know. Further, Holmes’s dialogue is bloated in order to squeeze in as much detail as possible. I’m not sure this would work in a modern-day mystery.
Nonetheless, I found it to be an enjoyable read overall.
Wednesday, June 17th, 2009
I write, write, write. Then I edit, delete, and write some more*.
American author Henry Miller once said that you have to write a million words before you produce anything good. That’s probably true. (This gave me a laugh, by the way: how to get a leg up on writing a million words of crap, the Million Words of Crap Generator v1.0.)
I also attend conferences and workshops for writers. (More on this in a later post…)
The other thing I do is read books on writing. I go through phases: I’ll read several in a row and then ignore them for quite a while. Many I borrow. But it struck me recently that I’ve enjoyed a few so much I’ve kept them and occasionally refer to them.
With that in mind, I thought I’d begin reviewing them here on the blog. Are you interested? What books would you like to see me review? (And if you’ve written a book on writing, drop me a line. I might be interested in taking a peek and reviewing it here.)
*Actually, it’s more like: write, write, edit, delete, edit, write, delete, write, write, edit, write, delete, edit, edit, write, write, write.