RSS

Tag Archives: reading

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.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 19, 2014 in Fun, randomness

 

Tags: , ,

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.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 16, 2014 in Fun, randomness

 

Tags: ,

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

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 1, 2014 in Fun, randomness

 

Tags: , , , ,

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.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 28, 2013 in Life, randomness

 

Tags: , , , , ,

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.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 23, 2013 in Fun, randomness

 

Tags: , ,

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.

img_134590_1050209_2

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.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on August 21, 2013 in Fun, randomness

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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.

 
Leave a comment

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

 

Tags: , , , ,

Good Writing


Cover of "The Grapes of Wrath"

Cover of The Grapes of Wrath

I often hear this a lot.  Good writing.  Fitzgerald was a good writer and The Great Gatsby was an incredible book.  That’s not my opinion, I’ve never read it, but I hear that a lot.  The Grapes of Wrath, an incredible book by John Steinbeck.  Now, this book, I can comment on.  But I only have one frame of reference to it.  That’s high school.  I found it a slog, and while years later I can appreciate it’s overtones and the narrative and how much it equates to what we’re going through right now in this global economy, I still found the book a complete slog.

My only thoughts while reading it were “when the hell is this gonna be over”. I remember reading the section with the turtle (or armadillo, I can’t remember right now) trying to cross the road and how much of a struggle it was while cars ripped past at break neck speed.  Years later, it reminded me of a description written by Stephen King in a book that I read more for enjoyment than any home work assignment.  In it, King spent a great deal of time explaining how a man’s pacemaker explodes in his chest, making everything sound and feel extremely grueling and slow and painful.  Much like that turtle (or armadillo, I can’t remember right now).

Flowers For Algernon was another that I remember quite well, it was a book that I had to read in high school, but it seemed better.  There was swearing and naughty bits.  My teenage sensibilities were rife with glee over reading a few F-bombs and the supposed promise of boobies.  It was better than any porn mag, because I could visualize the boobies, they could be anything I wanted which was often times much better.  My imagination was infinitely better than any photo in a magazine.  Still, even with the blue language and the verbal porn, I remember the premise of the book.  It stuck with me all those years later.  Even Grapes of Wrath did, although I never approached Grapes of Wrath in the same way that I approached Flowers For Algernon.

There have been many other books that I’ve read that I have enjoyed, and many that I found to be an incredible slog to try and finish.  To date, the only book I haven’t finished due to sheer boredom has been Tom Clancy’s Teeth of the Tiger.  I started that book in Prince Albert (the city, not the cock piercing), when I worked for 900 CKBI and Power99 FM.  Never finished it, it was way too dry.

Good writing, as it would be described, is individual personal preference.  My mother loved In His Steps, while I couldn’t get through the book fast enough and set it aside in order to read Ranks of Bronze.  The former had everything to do about tent revivals during the 1930s and finding Christ.  The latter had Roman soldiers bought as slaves after a defeat to the Persians.  They were bought by aliens and used to fight low tech battles across the galaxy.  Was it a great book?  Hardly.  Was it a fun book?  Damn straight it was.  Did it compare to the struggles faced by the characters that existed in the book In His Steps?  Not even close.  But it had space aliens!  And that was all I cared about at the time.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 4, 2012 in Fun, Life, randomness

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Fredericksburg.com – Young adult literature is for young and young at heart


Fredericksburg.com – Young adult literature is for young and young at heart.

DO YOU WANT to know a secret? People assume I read it only because I have to–but I truly enjoy literature for children and young adults.

True, it’s a key part of doing my job well, but when I get to choose a book for pleasure reading, I am more likely to choose a young adult title than an adult one. And why not? Young adult literature is imaginative and well-written, and the characters face challenges that resonate with everyone, regardless of age.

This is an excellent article, and it’s very spot on about how young adult fiction is viewed.  Young adult doesn’t mean mid to late teens and 21 year olds read this type of literature.  Look at the Harry Potter series after all.

Read more.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 16, 2011 in Life, randomness

 

Tags: ,

Lyssa’s Tale Chapter Two Part One


Lyssa opened the door at the second knock. Xavier smiled tightly as he stepped through the threshold. He wore a navy blue suit with a white button down shirt underneath and a silver silk tie. His muddy brown hair was slicked back and his eyes held a look of boredom.

“’lo, Mister Wallock,” Lyssa said. In her hand she held a glass of whiskey; her hair was pulled back into a short ponytail. A pair of sweats and an oversize t-shirt gave her an overly comfortable look. None of this mattered to her. She didn’t need to dress up for Xavier.

“Good Evening, Miss Stormwater,” he said quietly. “I trust you are well”

“Well enough,” she replied. “You don’t look overly excited to be here.”

“Long day at the office,” Xavier stated. Lyssa just nodded and lead him into the sitting room. “Is Miss Alow going to be joining us tonight?”

“No,” Lyssa replied as she curled up in her chair. “Pania is working right now.”

Xavier pulled out a small recorder and set it on the table. “If you don’t mind,” he began. “I would like to record this information rather than type it.”

“Fine by me,” Lyssa said, taking a sip from her glass.

It took ten days traveling by foot for us to reach Tel’thurian. By the time we got there, my legs were stiff and sore. There were two times on the road that Toeryn carried me and the two packs. He was well trained in what to do outdoors. What surprised me the most was that he knew how to hunt; we had rabbit or some sort of small game almost every night.

One of the times I was carried, was when approached the main gates. Not have much to do with people other than those in the house, the guards made me curious. Their clothing was like nothing I ever seen before. The simple leather chest piece dotted with bits of metal, a helm that was made of stiff leather. To keep from giggling at their strange appearance, I hid my face in Toeryn’s neck.

“’scuse me mate,” Toeryn said in an accent that wasn’t his. “Could ye direct me an’ me sisser ‘ere to the nearest inn? She got sick on the way ‘ere an’ need a bit o’ rest.”

I look up for a moment, and the guard seemed to believe my appearance as a sign of sickness. I was still fairly dirt, a rainfall had washed most of the dirt off, but not all. “You follow the main road to the central market place, then you go left, follow that about two side streets and you’ll come across a comfortable inn and tavern. It’s called the Empty Barrel, painted sign of a spilled barrel.”

Toeryn nodded his thanks and offered the man a silver coin. It was rare that I seen money and I was curious about it. It reminded me of a bit of metal that dotted the man’s uniform. Thought questions filled my mind, I stayed quiet until we passed the main gate. My eyes looked everywhere. White stucco that had seen one too many rain storms covered the walls. Large windows showed off shop wares and the small brown ones, I could only assume were houses.

Townspeople milled around us, most of them not paying any attention to Toeryn and me. As we passed a bakery, the smell of hot bread wafted under my nose. I felt homesick, those in the kitchens back in Meadow Brook, were my family. Nursed me when I was ill, held me when I was scared and protected me from the mistress. My growling stomach pulled me from my day dreams as we began to pass more shops, and stalls. Then it hit me.

“What if we run into my father?” I asked with a slight panic to my voice.

“It’s unlikely that he even knows you exist, Lyssa,” he told me. “And even if he did, what makes you think that he would want an orphan like you? You don’t have any proof that you’re his daughter.”

“Oh.” I said sadly.

I still continued to look around, thinking and hoping that just maybe my father was here, and would know me instantly. Even if he wasn’t there today, maybe he would be there sometime while Toeryn and I stayed here. I would look for him on my own.

Toeryn hoisted me further up his back as we moved down the street further. In the center of the main square was a large three tiered stone fountain. Merchant stands and stall lined most open spaces, what was left were narrow foot paths. Toeryn and I stared in amazement; everything was brightly colored and noisy. I had never seen a more spectacular sight.

“Fresh fish!” One of the merchants called out every few moments. I wrinkled my nose at the sight of headless fishes and cringed as a man behind the caller loped off another fish head. My stomach churned a little, so I turned my head and looked at the other stalls to my left. Bottles, candles, jewels of all sorts lined the stalls.

“Oi, lad, bring the little miss over here,” Another merchant called to my brother. “Let her have a gander at all the exotic goodies from near and far!”

“No, thanks,” Toeryn said over the crowd. My eyes looked at the man, had locked into place with his. At first he did a double take and then stared after my brother and me. I stared back too, more out a curiosity than rudeness. When the merchant realized he was still staring, he went back to calling people over to his stall. Snow had begun to fall again as we moved our way to the west side of the town.

“We’re almost there, Lyssa,” Toeryn told me. I said very little during our trip, and started to look forward to a warm, soft bed.

“Can I have a fairy cake?” I asked softly.

“If they have them, otherwise you will have to wait until tomorrow,” Toeryn replied with a smile.

Houses lined the side street, laundry hung from lines strung across the streets. Children in the streets moved out of our way, but stared at us curiously. Woman chattered idly as they wash clothing, in a large wooden tub. The street was made of thick gray cobbles that put together tightly and were quite clean. Despite the look of the buildings, most of them seem rather sturdy looking. It wasn’t the slums by any means, but it was high class society either. It looked plain, and wonderful.

We passed the second street. I was able to see the sign for the Empty Barrel, I couldn’t read the words on the sign, but the picture of a tipped over barrel and ale pouring from it was enough to tell.

“Toeryn?” A male voice called out. Toeryn looked behind us when he heard his name. “Is that really you?”

“Aye?” Toeryn replied suspiciously. “Who wants to know?”

A lanky man came over to us. His hair was black and looked in need of a good wash. His skin was pale with a blue tint that seemed to stand out more with the sickliness of his appearance. He had a long pointed nose that had probably been broken more than once. The stranger was dressed in fine clothing, long black hose, an embroidered black tunic with a crisp white undershirt, soft black boots that warmed his feet and a floppy hat that had a feather in it.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 5, 2009 in Lyssa's Tale, Writing

 

Tags: , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: