Tag Archive | language

Libraries

Who remembers their first library? Not the first visit to a library, but the first library that you claimed as yours. Where you realized that it contained a whole bunch of  books that could and would transport you to other worlds.

My first library was a little neighborhood one. About the size of a smallish 7-11, situated in a strip mall, it was where my love for books blossomed. I didn’t know it at the time, but as my ever ranging interests started casting a wider and wider net, the librarian called my mom.

I was in fourth grade, and checking out adult books.

But oh! Those books! Some were romances (the Harlequin romances of the 70’s were A LOT sweeter than they are now). Some were sci-fi or fantasy. Some were plain old fiction.  I had already devoured A Little Princess, The Secret Garden, all the Little House Books. My brain was wide open, and at this point… my mom could have done something different.

But she opted to let me read what I wanted. It was a different time, back then. There wasn’t quite as much chance of anyone getting an inappropriate book in a public library. And I am sooo thankful.

Books are magical things. They open up windows into new worlds– sometimes doorways into a new life. But there has to be that one place where your imagination catches on fire.

For me, it was in what would become a bakery, sitting on bean bag chairs, reading adult fiction. They closed that particular library a few years later. They made a huge library, a modern one, and closed down all the little neighborhood libraries.

It was never as much fun.

Yes, they had all those books. But I could no longer go at least once a week. I had to be driven over there, I couldn’t walk. And the nice librarian was no where to be found in there… Just a lot of strangers.

I miss the neighborhood libraries. But I have to admit, I do love the large stacks of books in the main library.

How about you? Where did you fall in love with books?

 

PS– found a great fantasy novel about a librarian who pulls magic out of books, which inspired this post. I’ll review it later in the week. If no one else gets the stomach flu (please please please).

Helping Hands

I’m getting ready to send the story off. I had planned to just write it, put it away, and start on a new project. Couldn’t get anything to stick, and quite frankly something amazing happened.

My niece “stole” my story pages and typed them in for me. Thanks, Leyla Bean! It was a tremendous help.

And then.

Then I sent it to a friend **wave to Rie**. She asked if I minded a “hard” edit.

Yikes!

But I said yes. Even before I had even READ the typed copy. Why? Because I trust Rie. Because I knew that if I put it off it might not happen. That hard edit? Wasn’t very hard at all. Some of them were formatting issues, some were misspellings and misunderstandings on the part of the typist. But then, oh then, Rie started prepping me to submit my work.

I wrote it (literally hand wrote a 4,000 word short story). Someone helped me edit and get ready (down to how to blurb) to submit. Writers are a special breed my lovelies.

In most businesses, potential “competitors” would never lay out exactly how to get the finished product through. Need more proof? Google Writing Tips, or here on WordPress put the topic/tag Writing in your Reader portion. There are *tons* of people trying to help other people get their voice out in the open. I often cruise on Word Press while on breaks (loving the Android!) and writing is the go to topic. I almost always find a post or two to read.

We are, in a word, odd. Writers are odd. There, I’ve said it. We live in our heads. We’re often “performing” while solitary. We love our stories, our words, with a passion. The drive to write, to publish (and yes, they are two separate drives) is fierce but yet we will reach out a hand and help drag someone else to the very best of their ability.

The very generosity of those who helped me… it’s humbling.

I’d better write more, make sure that their investment of time is worth it.

 

PS- I just finished Cathy Lamb’s new novel coming out in August. I’ll post a review this week. IT”S GOOD.

Jane Bites Back, pacing the floors

I’ve been posting lately both on book reviews and on my writing journey. This time, I’m going to give a little of both. Hopefully 🙂

 

Jane Bites Back, by Michael Thomas Ford.

 

Jane Austen is alive, er… un-dead and well. She’s a little peeved at all the people making money off her, royalties that she cannot receive because the world thinks she’s dead. Ford deftly imagines a world where Austen, Bronte and Byron are still hanging around in modern times. Two out of the three are doing ok.

The third? Crazy as a loon.

This novel was captivating, not only because of the subject matter. Instead of writing it in a modern style, it reads a bit… old fashioned, sweet. Not simple, but not the frenetic fast pace that seems to dog the urban fantasies that I read most of the time. It was a relaxing read, being able to sink into Austen’s modern world and take a look through her eyes.

Over all?  I’m glad Jane is kind of alive, and plan on seeking out the next two books in the series.

 

This book did bring to mind the importance of pacing. If the story is too slow, your reader will close the book and go watch paint dry. Too fast, too intense, and you risk burning the reader out or worse, garnering the wrong response from the pivotal scene. People need ups and downs, and we need to conserve the readers energy.

Which sounds really strange. The reader’s energy? We’re not running a marathon when we pick up a book. Have you ever read a novel written in first person, present tense? Ok, how did you feel while reading it? When I read one such novel, the author plum wore me out. How does that happen? I don’t know, but I know it does.

The best stories take a reader and wrap them up in another world. One where romance is possible, or unicorns prance through the forest. In the hands of a good author, we as readers are wrapped up in the book. We’re not reading it, we are living it. Vicariously, but still.

And that’s why books will trump movies every single time.

Till later, my lovelies. Have a wonderful week.

Read more! And write even more than that!

Eloisa James: Pleasure for Pleasure

I finally caved in and went out and bought the book, Pleasure for Pleasure, by Eloisa James. I asked at the local Barnes and Nobles, and not only did they not have it— they didn’t carry it. So I ordered it the correct way (if you want a local store to carry more of the books you love, you need to order it from the brick and mortar store, NOT the website).

And it was sooo lovely. I love the sisters in this series, as well as the Shakespearean references. While the romance parts are funny, lovely etc etc, what is really addictive in this series is the relationship between sisters. When Imogen was so upset with Tess and wouldn’t talk to her? I was heartbroken! It wasn’t Tess’ fault! And Annabel, luscious fabulous Annabel! You just know that when Josie came on the market, fun and hijinks were sure to follow.

It was a surprise to find her miserable during her first season.

Not surprising was the body issues Josie carried through all the books. Written well, and handled delicately, it added so much to the character. The scene where Lord Mayne wears a dress to show Josie how she should walk was so funny and tender that I wanted it to last forever.

And that, my dear friends, is the sign of an expert writer. If you want to stay in the world they’ve created, then the writer has done their job. Ms. James does it exceedingly well.

 

Yeh, and I know I promised the Jane Austen review but I still have tomorrow! I’ll probably do a bunch of them so I can post throughout the week. Off to do my own  writing now. When I’m reading an Eloisa James book, I have to race through to the finish line, no matter what I’m trying to work on.

The Finish Line

The Finish Line

 

Well, I made it across the finish line and there was much dancing of the happy sort. I finally, finally finished something.

I have a short story with a beginning, a middle and an end. It has a heroine, a villain and a supporting cast.

It also, strangely enough, has a lot of alliteration. It’s funnier than I normally write, and her mouth gets her in trouble every once in a while, but it was fun. I looked forward to writing the next day. I got it all written down and crossed the finish line.

I’ve reclaimed my writing self.

YAY!

Now I just need to take that momentum and carry it over into the next one and the next and… WHOA. One story at a time. That’s all we have to do. Tell one story at a time.

 

In other news—I made a trip to the bookstore and picked up some reading material. I just finished Jane Bites Back and will be reviewing it soon.  Probably by Thursday. I rewarded myself for finishing with a small(ish) bag of books. But I need to keep it in perspective.

I can read other people’s dream constantly  or forge my own.

Not really a hard choice there.

Writing a new life

I’ve talked before about how long and from whence my writing block came. I’ve been trying to bust through it, would start and stop. Incomplete Word files are piling up in the My Documents section of the computer and all I can think of is WHY NOT?

Why not this one here? Because it hits too close to home? But that one was distanced from me and it went nowhere quickly, too. Of course the heroine was a little whiny. And on and on it goes, excuse (yes, I know what they are) after excuse while stories pile up. It’s a massacre!

So I tried something different. I’ve been writing on a computer for decades. It’s easy (was easy) to simply zone out and watch the story as my fingers flew across the keyboard. I write my blogs the same way. But my stories… haven’t been happening.

I purposely quit reading books this week. The book I reveiwed, I actually read a while back ago (but Hey! it’s just now getting ready to come out so that worked perfectly). Sometimes you need to give your brain a rest from other people’s dreams in order to let your own imagination come out and play. So that’s what I did.

Imagine my suprise when I picked up a pad of paper and a pen and started writing a short story. And have been working on it, continuing on in bits and peices (as a single mom that’s all the time I’ve got right now). Is it perfect? Hell no. Will it need stuff added in, well of course! Even when I write on a computer I tend to be a bit sparse on setting, focusing more on character. I go back and paint in the details, if you will. But you know what this story has that the others don’t?

A smart ass heroine. Difficulties.

The fact that after the first inital burst I’m still writing it is the main difference.

I’ve finished stories before, of course I have. But no matter what happens, I’m rooting for this story.

Because I really, really need to cross the finish line again.

 

Grace

Grace, by T. Greenwood. Published by Kensington Books

Advanced Reader’s Copy

 

It is often uncomfortable to watch a family implode (hence the reason why I don’t watch most of reality television), but Grace by T. Greenwood breaks the barrier. A tale told in multiple viewpoints, it is mostly of the core family.

The title character only appears once as the point of view character

The thing is, everyone in the book is looking for a little bit of grace. Of peace, relief from daily life. The struggle that the family goes through, finding out what their core is and then having to live with the consequences, brings to mind some of the depression era writing that I went through during college.

It isn’t pretty, this struggle. The people are “real” in that they have faults. But the writing keeps you going past your comfort level and straight into a gripping story. And you read on, knowing that it could be you, your best friend, your college roommate who goes through this.

And that’s the best sort of writing of all.

It’s also the scariest. Because, you know, I haven’t read anything this evocative of what’s going on in the country from bullying to elder care to the recession in a long time, if ever. Nothing contemporary even comes to mind. It feels like Faulkner, in As I Lay Dying. Not stylistically… but maybe even deeper. Deep down where it grabs you in the gut and shows you your own insides, that’s what this novel is.

Cleaning House

So yesterday was a hard labor kind of day. I had help (thank you, Leyla!) and it went more quickly and more… enjoyable than if I had been by myself. It also helped me with my creative muddle.

Have you ever had one of those? Where your brain is so cluttered up with this and that and soon you can’t remember even how to start writing again (alternately: insert creative obsession here). I started the reclaiming the garage project earlier in the week, all by myself. And little by little, things started getting stripped away.

Like the need to hold on to stuff just because it’s mine. Mine I say! I might need that craptastic pan, even though the teflon is peeling up off the bottom. Coffee mugs that I never used because they were too heavy (my grip gives, so a heavy cup to begin with is a bad idea) might come in handy some day.

Mostly, I was holding on to all that stuff because it is what remained after being married to a meth addict for 10 years. I got out alive, with my son, mostly intact. I packed whatever I could into the back of my dad’s car and left. Totally willing to leave everything behind (the pots and pans and some of the other stuff came back to me in a somewhat different way). It left me  with a fierce need to keep EVERYTHING. Because, you know, things dissappear when you live with a drug addict.

But this isn’t about that. Not at the core.

It’s about cleaning up my life, both metaphorically and literally. Because as those boxes were opened and gone through, as the books hit the shelves (voracious reader, remember, there were a LOT of them). I haven’t written, except in bits and spurts, since before my son was born. Because I couldn’t… I had to hide what was going on in my life, in little boxes around my soul.

When you write, you bare your soul.

Letting go of all that stuff, well, it was more than letting go of all that stuff. I actually had a great idea for a short story. And for 3 or 4 essays/non fiction pieces. We’ll see where they go, but the important thing is I’m thinking.. dreaming, again.

All I know is that coming out on the otherside? It’s marvelous!

Best Sellers

What makes a best seller? At its most basic component, a best seller is simply a book that book buyers buy a lot of.  But what gets the book there? Cuz it isn’t always what it should be.

It should consist of a great opening hook, tight writing, great characters and a plot that keeps you wanting more. It should offer late nights and blurry morning after eyes. Too often, though, they don’t.

Contrived.

Lack Luster.

Blah.

Some of it can be straight up attributed to taste. I’m not going to like exactly what you like every single time. And that’s ok. So right off the bat, we’re going to throw out all the non-fiction titles. I don’t generally read nonfiction. I read to escape, pure and simple. Well, except for the stuff you can learn if you pay attention to details.

Ok. Now for Danielle Steele, most mysteries and thrillers (I only like funny mysteries) and the MAN FICTION. Man fiction is defined as anything that can be said to be written in the style of Tom Clancy). Oh, and the legal thrillers can go too.

So there aren’t a whole lot left to choose from. But Romances do end up on the Best Seller list regularly. So why is it that something that is so lackluster that it wouldn’t even register on the date-o-meter in real life on the best seller list while so many great titles languish? Languish, I say!

Have you checked the fantasy and science fiction section of your local book store lately? The stacks LOOK nice and full. But do some searching. A lot of what’s ending up in the new part of it is paranormal romance. Which is fine. But it’s romance. Not really even urban fantasy. Meanwhile, many books and authors that TRULY ROCK languish. Eventually, their books are no longer kept on the shelves.

Did you know that we have power? If every single one of us went to the book store and asked them to order it in for us… They would more than likely take notice and stock the books. This Does Not Work if you use the web site. You have to order it from the book store to ship to them for us to pick them up.

So. We might not be able to control the actual best seller lists. But we can control what gets ordered in by recommending loudly and often those books we love. And instructing our fellow bibliophiles in how to get the books BACK where they belong

What are your favorite non-bestsellers?

Dream Snatchers, Time Wasters, Excuse Makers

So last week was a book wasteland. Bought a couple, thought they’d be good… but no dice. Life’s too short for bad books… So instead, here it is, a bad blog 😦

Did come up with the opening line, tho. For the anger project. “My family excels in the fine art of the polite fiction.” See, and I’ve already written it here, where it will remain safe and sound, until I can find a mother’s helper to come in and help me so I can start writing the darn thing. Actually, that isn’t true. It was, at one point. It’s not anymore. Ray has grown so much, and with the Skylanders I might not see or hear form him for a while if I set him infront of the video game. That probably makes me a bad mommy. However, finding a little time for myself, especially when it pertains to writing… That is a very good thing. How does it help him to keep putting off my dreams? (BTW– he has not snatched my dreams… I just liked the way that title sounded).

Anyways, I JUST finished a cute little cozy mystery and reading one of the BEST ROMANCE NOVELS ever! I mean ever! Coming from someone who reads as much as I do, that says a lot. The reviews will be up on those by Sunday. Saturday night if I can 🙂

What are the biggest excuse makers you have with your writing? How do you over come them?

 

PS– We’ve started doing shared stories, the princeling and I. And tonight he asked me to start writing them down. How cool is that, to be writing stories off the cuff with your 5 year old and hearing him say “and then…” with the special tone of voice that throws the story to the next person. AWESOME!