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2014 Reading Challenge


Here’s the complete list of the first 27 books:

  1. The Sincerest Form of Flattery – John Walker
  2. The Blame Game – John Walker
  3. In The Details – John Walker
  4. Hal Spacejock – Simon Haynes
  5. Above Ground – A.M. Harte
  6. The Time Machine – H. G. Wells
  7. The War of the Worlds – H. G. Wells
  8. The Lost World – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  9. Carmilla – Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
  10. Treasure Island – Robert Lewis Stephenson
  11. The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
  12. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
  13. The Wind In The Willows – Kenneth Grahame
  14. White Fang – Jack London
  15. The Call of the Wild – Jack London
  16. Never Cry Wolf – Farley Mowat
  17. Paradise Lost – John Milton
  18. A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
  19. The Bells of El Diablo – Frank Leslie
  20. The Last Ride of Jed Strange – Frank Leslie
  21. The Haunted Mesa – Louis L’Amour
  22. 22 Milo Talon – Louis L’Amour
  23. Riders of the Purple Sage – Zen Grey
  24. Destry Rides Again – Max Brand
  25. Faith & Fire – James Swallow
  26. Ragnar & Juliet – Lucy Woodhull
  27. Ragnar & Juliet II: Concubine Boogaloo – Lucy Woodhull

Four down, 23 to go.  You will note, links to the books I’ve read, which takes you to a place to buy them online.

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2014 in Fun, randomness

 

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The Book Challenge


https://i1.wp.com/24.media.tumblr.com/b1991597823f61cbfb93dfb37338abb4/tumblr_mykj9jxLDe1qb0j8no1_r3_500.png
graphic borrowed from prettybooks

So I’ve decided to take the 2014 challenge and read 50 books this year.  I’ve gathered a list of 25 of the 50 books this year.  In total, it means I have to read about 4 books a month.  Which isn’t too bad (unless you’re like me and you read slowly).  My list thus far includes book both on my shelf and on my kindle.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Bc6c2huCEAAcyNj.jpg:large

Here’s the complete list of the first 27 books:

  1. The Sincerest Form of Flattery – John Walker
  2. The Blame Game – John Walker
  3. In The Details – John Walker
  4. Hal Spacejock – Simon Haynes
  5. Above Ground – A.M. Harte
  6. The Time Machine – H. G. Wells
  7. The War of the Worlds – H. G. Wells
  8. The Lost World – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  9. Carmilla – Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
  10. Treasure Island – Robert Lewis Stephenson
  11. The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
  12. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
  13. The Wind In The Willows – Kenneth Grahame
  14. White Fang – Jack London
  15. The Call of the Wild – Jack London
  16. Never Cry Wolf – Farley Mowat
  17. Paradise Lost – John Milton
  18. A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
  19. The Bells of El Diablo – Frank Leslie
  20. The Last Ride of Jed Strange – Frank Leslie
  21. The Haunted Mesa – Louis L’Amour
  22. 22 Milo Talon – Louis L’Amour
  23. Riders of the Purple Sage – Zen Grey
  24. Destry Rides Again – Max Brand
  25. Faith & Fire – James Swallow
  26. Ragnar & Juliet – Lucy Woodhull
  27. Ragnar & Juliet II: Concubine Boogaloo – Lucy Woodhull

Two books down, 25 to go, as you may have noticed I added two books.

 
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Posted by on January 16, 2014 in Fun, randomness

 

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2014 Challenge


https://i1.wp.com/24.media.tumblr.com/b1991597823f61cbfb93dfb37338abb4/tumblr_mykj9jxLDe1qb0j8no1_r3_500.png

graphic borrowed from prettybooks

So I’ve decided to take the 2014 challenge and read 50 books this year.  I’ve gathered a list of 25 of the 50 books this year.  In total, it means I have to read about 4 books a month.  Which isn’t too bad (unless you’re like me and you read slowly).  My list thus far includes book both on my shelf and on my kindle.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Bc6c2huCEAAcyNj.jpg:large

Here’s the complete list of the first 25 books:

  1. The Sincerest Form of Flattery – John Walker
  2. The Blame Game – John Walker
  3. In The Details – John Walker
  4. Hal Spacejock – Simon Haynes
  5. Above Ground – A.M. Harte
  6. The Time Machine – H. G. Wells
  7. The War of the Worlds – H. G. Wells
  8. The Lost World – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  9. Carmilla – Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
  10. Treasure Island – Robert Lewis Stephenson
  11. The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
  12. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
  13. The Wind In The Willows – Kenneth Grahame
  14. White Fang – Jack London
  15. The Call of the Wild – Jack London
  16. Never Cry Wolf – Farley Mowat
  17. Paradise Lost – John Milton
  18. A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
  19. The Bells of El Diablo – Frank Leslie
  20. The Last Ride of Jed Strange – Frank Leslie
  21. The Haunted Mesa – Louis L’Amour
  22. 22 Milo Talon – Louis L’Amour
  23. Riders of the Purple Sage – Zen Grey
  24. Destry Rides Again – Max Brand
  25. Faith & Fire – James Swallow

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2014 in Fun, randomness

 

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Somethings I shudder at when I hear them


ireadbannedbooks1

There’s something that really makes me look at someone and sort of judge them when they say something.  I know you shouldn’t judge people, it’s not only wrong but just plain rude.  But in this case, I just can’t help it.  It’s a simple thing they say, and from a few short words I formulate an opinion of them.

There are many sentences or phrases that have been said that I do this with.  I sometimes think I shouldn’t, but I do.  This reaction started with the most innocent of sentences.

“I don’t read books.”

First, I’m not the most prolific reader.  I have said before that I find reading very difficult, but I do it because there is an escape, a place where I go that the author takes me, and my difficulty becomes lessened.  It takes me a little longer, but I get there eventually.

But when I hear someone say this, the first thing I think is “why? why do you not read books? why could you possibly not read books?”.  I just cannot understand why a person wouldn’t want to read a book.  They’re marvelous, wonderful, thought provoking and challenging.  Maybe that’s the reason why, that some books challenge a person when they read them.  Books, such as those I read in high school, like To Kill A Mockingbird, Flower For Algernon, Lord of the Flies and even Grapes of Wrath (though, my high school self found this book a slog, and while my adult self recognizes the imagery of it, it’s still a slog).  Today, there’s books that push those boundaries again, such as the Harry Potter series, Judy Blume’s books, Game of Thrones, and Hunger Games to name a few.  Strangely, each of those books I mentioned has been challenged to be banned in certain areas of North America.

I often think when someone says they don’t read books, that they are denying themselves the chance to expand and explore in a way that they don’t often do such things.  To read is to get a glimpse into the mind of the author, even if only briefly.

Maybe reading some books is too challenging, where ideas are brought up that make the reader uncomfortable.  That’s not always a bad thing.  Books should make us feel a tad uncomfortable, because not only are they telling us a story but they are relaying information to us.  Books, even fiction books, can be a tool to educate.

I suppose some find that difficult to handle when they are met with a fact that is opposite of something they thought they knew since they were a child.  Personally, I find it enlightening and wonderful when I learn something new.  It’s moving forward, it’s progress.

That one phrase can so easily lead to other phrases that make me shudder, but I won’t go into them now, perhaps another time.  This post is getting rather long at the moment.  Keep in mind, we’ve been taking part in Banned Books Week, and a lot of the books I mentioned earlier have been challenged.  Maybe take the time to explore the list of banned books in your area and try to find a copy and read it.

 
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Posted by on September 28, 2013 in Life, randomness

 

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Writing and Reading


Over the years I’ve put a great number of words to page.  I’ve written far more than I’ve got in both books I’ve published and in all the stories, open editorials and other such articles that I’ve posted online.  A lot of those words are lost to time, some just sit in a box and wait, and many more are just completely forgotten.

I never got to that point of writing out of thin air.  I never found that I had a way with words and was able to do something with them.  And even though I do write and have story ideas, I don’t think I’m exactly very good at putting my ideas down all the time.  In order for me to start writing, I had to start reading.

I was exactly a huge reader.  I had a late start, it was always difficult, and many times I found it a lot of work because it tired my eyes.  I still get that today.  It takes me a long time to read a book.  But I do read.  In the past I did read a lot.  I was a huge fan of Stephen King, Sue Grafton, Ken Follett, J.R.R. Tolkien, Douglas Adams, and many others.  I didn’t just read books, either.  I read comics, and had a huge collection of them.  When I was younger, I didn’t pay much attention to who wrote them or illustrated them.  But I did read comics based on the characters.  Much in the same way that many people who watch television will watch a show for a character.

But, had I not read, I doubt I would have written anything.  If I don’t impart any wisdom on anyone, at least I hope that someone walks away with the desire to read more.  Anything.  And everything.  Read books in your comfort zone.  Read books outside of your comfort zone.  Seek out online serial novels, or even fanfiction.  Buy a Kindle and pack it up with books you’ve wanted to read and carry it with you everywhere.

Before you write, start to read.

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2013 in Fun, randomness

 

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The sexuality of characters


This isn’t so much about characters having sex, but how they identify regarding their sexual preferences.  Whether they be gay, lesbian, bi, straight, pansexual, asexual, or any other sexuality in the spectrum.

Web

I was asked a question a while ago about why I felt it was important to reveal Pania’s sexuality in my book The Adventures of Black Mask & Pale Rider, and gently remind the reader of that four more times in the book.  For starters, that’s just the way the character is.  She’s very open about her sexuality and holds no guilt or shame for it.  But it goes a little further than that.

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I remember reading some of the behind the scenes stuff from the Harry Potter films, and I recall one story about how Dumbledore was going to be given a female love interest that comes forward after he dies.  But then J. K. Rowling gave a gentle reminder that Dumbledore was in fact gay.  Unfortunately, this was never revealed in the books, persay, nor was it revealed in the movie, except with the most subtle of comments.  From reader reactions there were a few who were happy that someone who represented as gay was in the books, but there were a great many more who felt a tad cheated.  That it wasn’t fully revealed in the books or the movies.  That it was a footnote and nothing more.

I can understand that to a point, people who identify as LGBTQ+ don’t really need to be outed in a story, they should read just like any other character with their own flaws, charm, strengths, weaknesses and so on.  But it’s also important to let the reader know “this person is gay, this person may be much like you and dealt with many of the same obstacles you have in order to achieve their standing in society”.  Thus, why I decided it was important to out Pania.

There are, of course, very large differences between Pania Alow from my book and Dumbledore from J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.  Pania is much more flamboyant, open, and much more of a showman than Dumbledore is.  She’s more open about her sexuality and her sexual preferences than Dumbledore obviously is.  But my hope was that someone who may be reading the book might look at Pania and think “she’s just like me, and she’s awesome, and I wanna be more like her”.

That’s why I felt it was important to have Pania represented fully in the book, giving some representation and hopefully that the reader might find a connection, albeit a small one, to one of the characters.

 
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Posted by on August 21, 2013 in Fun, randomness

 

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These writing lists


Businessman brainstorming and writing notes

There’s lots of writing lists I see (on tumblr, wordpress, lots of places) and I’ve divided them into two categories.

  • Really useful
  • Really degrading

Really useful:  These lists are the really good lists.  The lists that describe how to go about creating a world and the things you need in the story and the things you don’t need in the story (like background information that might be needed at some point, but it’s not important to know right away).  How to write people, which is the best group of lists.  Even descriptions of people’s race, like avoiding describing someone using food.  Like chocolate.  Chocolate reminds me of food, not a person.  Writing accents is also really useful to know, or if someone has a speech impediment (pro tip: don’t write out a full lisp, it’s a pain in the ass to the reader, it’s a mistake I made, and I try not to do that now, just write “so and so has a lisp” readers are smart enough to fill in the blanks).

Really degrading:  Degrading is a misleading term.  I think a better one might be that these kinds of lists treat people like a four year old.  Writers aren’t stupid either, and telling them something that involves common sense, such as checking spelling and then have someone else check it over.  I read one list that said “you have to pay to get things spell checked”.  No you don’t.  First, you use your spell checker, scrutinizing each word.  There may be words that are a city or a town, but make sure they are all spelled the same.  And yeah, you could pay someone who’s professional to do the spell checking and editing, but ya know what?  The people who are going to read books are the ones who don’t work as editors.  If you’re a first time author, you probably have a friend or two that can read over your stuff (get two, because one person will pick up on something the other didn’t).  Readers know what they like and they know what makes sense.  As I said before, readers are not stupid.

It’s also very insulting to tell a writer “delete your first three chapters, always, because that’s just filler crap anyway”.  Really?  It is.  That depends on who’s doing the reading.  Some people enjoy that “background filler crap”.  What a first time writer needs to do is prepare to delete a lot, but also write more.  There will be certain areas of a book where the less is more concept, so pairing down your description is a good idea.  You may reread a scene later and find it just a bit clunky.  Don’t stress over the fact that it may need a rewrite.  There may also be scenes that you need to expand upon, to convey emotion, to explain a feeling, or describe a room that’s important.

This concept of always making your characters charming also rubs me the wrong way.  What I see as charming and someone else sees as charming are two completely different things.  Someone may find a character charming while I find them to be a complete douchebag.

First person: I though you said this book was good.

Second person:  It is.  The main character is so charming.

First person:  Really?  I found him to be an overbearing, useless douchecanoe.

In the end, the only one who’s going to tell your story is you.  You have to write it, so go write it.  And when you’re done, read it.  And read it again.  And edit stuff you feel doesn’t make sense or feels clunky.  Because here’s the really neat thing.  You’re writing, but you also happen to be a reader.  And readers are smart.  Get a close friend to read it, because there are people out there that you know that are willing to read it (just make sure that if and when you finish the edits and publish the book you get that friend a copy of your book, preferably signed ’cause people tend to like that).

Ah, I just thought of a better term.  Instead of degrading, it would probably be better to say condescending.  But in the long run the only one who is going to be able to get your story written and into the hands of readers is you.  The way you write is completely different from the way I write, which is completely different from the way a best selling author writes.  Push aside all of this stuff that holds dreams of being a best selling author and just write.  Write something new and different, because people always want something new and different.  No matter what bullshit market research tries to spin.

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2013 in Fun, randomness, Writing

 

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