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Showing posts from June, 2011

Proof

I finally got those stories down onto paper--well, into the computer. It took a couple of failed attempts to upload them to Lulu, but the formatting's looking pretty good now, the table of contents makes sense, and the fonts are okay. I've even made a cover that seems the match those from the rest of the series. So now I'm proof-reading pdf files on my kindle.

It's strange how much easier it is to spot those mistakes when I can't fix them, but maybe that's the trick; I know I can't fix, so I'm not in writing mode, so I read more carefully? That's my theory anyway--just click the button and highlight the errors (well, all the ones I see). I'll type the changes into Word when I'm done and proof-read the cover. Then I'll re-upload and order my free proof. I wonder how many more errors I'll find when I hold the "real" book in my hand?

Anyway, it's nice to finally get Joshua's Journeys out of my head. Those stories have…

Myth, Magic and Strange New Worlds

I've been reading again and feeling pleasantly surprised to find my reading list contained four similar books--a fine chance to compare and contrast different authors delving into myth and magic. A fifth book delved into history and faith, beautifully recreating the world of the early Christian church. And a sixth looked at our own world through the eyes of someone who hears numbers in color, which is surely at least a little magical. So, here's my mini-reviews, and, as usual, please click on the links to read the full reviews on gather.

The Dream Crystal, by Mark O’Bannon is a fun teen novel weaving fairytale, faith and myth into a pleasant mixture. The protagonist designs clothes and has an eye for detail that brings some amazing scenes to life. And the story has dark undertones of a three-sided war between human, fae and shadow that might end all dreams and hopes. I'd go for a 2-star bright lively coffee with this one.

Dreams Unleashed, by Linda Hawley is another teen nov…

Seventeen stories done!

Deadlines are such fun. Lulu's doing a brilliant deal--if you want to self-publish, why not go over there and look; or even if you just want that nice thump-factor of a book in your hand to see what it would look like (books in hand are great for proof-reading too). So now I'm frantically working to a deadline, trying to get my Joshua's Journeys stories finished before the deal runs out. I think there'll be about forty when I'm done, and I've just finished number seventeen. Of course, I've been researching them and putting off writing for ages--about a year--so it's about time. Like I said, deadlines are wonderful!

Another Week in Books

I'm not sure when I found time to read, in between the weeding and fighting the invasion of grass into flower-beds, but maybe I cheated--a few of these books were really short. Anyway, today, despite the weather forecast's promised sun, it's too wet and miserable to chase more weeds and I'm posting book reviews instead.

Non-Fiction.
The Grand Design, by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow: I got this as a Christmas present--how did it take so long to get around to reading it. But once I started I couldn't stop. Great illustrations (in pictures). Great illustrations in words. A fascinating ride through the wonders of modern science. And a book to be read with a 5-star intense cup of coffee.

Crime.
One Hot January, by J. Conrad Guest: The mix of Bogie, WWII and science fiction is irresistable; definitely an intriguing read, to be enjoyed with a 3-star balanced, full-flavored coffee.

After Lyletown, by K.C. Frederick: Relationships filled with good intentions, secrets and…

Character creep

We had a good talk at our writers' group today, about characters in stories and how we might define them, so we can make them consistent and different from each other. Someone mentioned how characters often seem like extensions of the writer--all so similar they start to sound the same. Someone else mentioned characters that change (or creep) to fit the story or the scene; we agreed some change, some surprise, is good, as long as it's not purely arbitrary. Then there are those characters that start off different but all fade into one during editing--I think the ones in the novel I've been working on are doing that, but luckily it's not the novel I've signed a contract on.

So many things to watch out for--I'll enjoy using those self-analysis quizzes on the internet to sort things out, but not just yet. For now, I'm taking some time off editing and working on writing instead. I've got a great coupon to use on Lulu, so I've challenged myself to finish …

Electron Footprints

If I read lots of ebooks, does that save trees? And does it reduce my carbon footprint? I guess I've not looked into how much carbon-generated electricity the computer and my kindle eat, but I know they eat plenty of electrons. And this week I learned my electron footprint's somewhat longer than I'd like.

I bought a book in 2008--well, several I suppose, but this one was from an internet site that I've never been to since. I had to set up an account with the seller--email, name, address, password, the usual stuff. And this week I got an email from them to say their server's been hacked. It was all so long ago I've no idea what password I used, so suddenly all of them are suspect and I've had to change the lot.

Which leaves me wondering how many other forgotten sites still carry my electronic footprints, fossilized in password code.

Competition vs. Play

I read an article today that bemoaned those holiday camps where children's sports aren't "competitive." The author wondered if we're failing to teach our children to cope with life; after all, most people's adult lives will include some measure of failure, so how will they learn?

Coming to the States from England I was amazed how competitive children's lives are here. My sons used to play soccer every Saturday, but only one of them dreamed of being on a team; the others played for fun. Here they were only allowed to join in if they solemnly promised to turn up for every practice and compete in every match! Help.

I guess the question is who's going to measure the failure. Have I failed as a writer if I can't be JK Rowling or JRR Tolkein? Or am I just enjoying myself, doing the best I can and hopefully one day becoming "good enough." Perhaps allowing kids not to compete gives them the chance to judge themselves instead of accepting other p…

Character vs. Plot

My husband went to a seminar on writing software specs yesterday. He very kindly brought home his notes to see how they'd apply to fiction-writing. It was kind of fun discussing character and plot as they might appear in computer code.

If you write a list of steps to be taken and instructions to be followed, is that a plot-driven story? It's also well-specified software. But what if you know the beginning and end but you're deep in investigation of what's going wrong--like when you're assigned to fix a bug by writing a new algorithm? My husband pointed out you can't specify the path till you know what's wrong. I suggested maybe that's like a character-driven story--you need to know the characters before you can plan the plot.

In the end, of course, you still write an organized list--a computer program, a story with beginning middle and end. But maybe even software engineers have to work in different ways at different times, and maybe fixing a bug is like …

Last Weekend's Books

My son is convinced all I ever do is read. My husband is convinced I shouldn't spend time making my family feel guilty with housework and yardwork at weekends. My husband and son are out at work during the week when I wash, shop, cook, clean, dig, etc... Still, I've got to admit, I do read a lot at weekends. And here are last weekend's books. (As usual, the blue links should take you to my gather reviews.)

Middle-aged female protagonists:
Light Bringer, by Pat Bertram, is an intriguing blend of sci-fi with corporate greed, global disaster, fascinating characters, historical secrets, and the music of rainbows. I'm still a believer in regular science, but the plot is neat and the relationships delightfully musical and strange. Try a 3-star smooth-flavored coffee with this one.

Chasing Amanda, by Melissa Foster, is a haunting contemporary mystery of a missing child, the tension heightened by the protagonist's ability to see what can't be seen. Haunted by her failure…

A family review, and a lesson in how to write memoirs

While I was in England my brother gave me a copy of my Granddad's memoirs to read; I learned how a well-edited memoir can make a really fascinating, informative and uplifting book; and I'm hoping to use those lessons to improve a novel I've been working on. So here's my unpublished review of an unpublished memoir--who knows, maybe D will publish it publicly one day and let everyone else read it too:

Look Back in Joy, by TW with DC I’m really not a great reader of memoirs, but this one grabbed my attention, and not just because the authors are my Granddad and my brother. The format offers an interesting mix of voices, information and research, which really makes for an interesting read.

TW was born, just about, in Victorian times; he describes his childhood in the early 1900s with a very honest eye for interesting detail. Meanwhile DC, born nearly four years before me and well-practiced in researching history, has checked Granddad’s facts and researched the world around th…

Reading while the Son hangs out on the computer

The sun shone today. I weeded another three feet of the flower beds in another three hours, then dug sprouting dandelions out of the grass. I'm still not sure why the weeds grow so much better when sheltered by thorns, but my fingers wish they didn't.

Anyway, before the sun came out, and while the son was still visiting, I did spend the odd spare moment buried in books. So here's my latest crop of book reviews. (Do book reviews grow better when sheltered by thorns I wonder?)

As usual, click on the links to read the full reviews on gather. And look underneath my profile to read a translation of coffee ratings.

The inheritance of beauty, by Nicole Seitz, is a beautiful depiction of aging, as well as a fascinating mystery, as elderly George comes to terms with events of his South Carolina childhood. The wonderful Alice, who cares for Maggie, seems surer that George that his wheel-chair-bound wife is "still there." And the result, as the author views past and present …

So, what did you do for the long weekend?

Help!!! It's Thursday, which means it's a whole week since I did the housework or the washing, shopped for everyday food, pulled weeds or cut the grass; a whole week since I applied for any jobs... It's been a week since I wrote anything worth writing too, not that the guys are too worried about that, but my head aches with stories untold. So what did I do for the week-long weekend?

On Friday our youngest son came home--great delight all round, joyful greeting from older brother, and much use of computers ensuing for computer games. Some minor culinary complications of course--one meat-eater, one bread-eater, one vegetarian and one celiac all needing to be fed--so on Saturday we bought meat and bread, plus some tee-shirts and sandals in case the warmer weather ever appears.

On Sunday we bought a flat-screen TV--long-awaited, much-debated, and finally necessitated by its predecessor's ceasing to work. On Monday we connected cables and made lists of new cables required. …