Friday, September 25, 2009

For your consideration...

Are you a writer? Do you want to be a writer? Do you know anyone who says they want to be a writer? Well here are some things you should read or pass on to someone who will make good use of the information, if you haven't already exhausted the one-stop-shop for all things writing-related:

If you would like to find the balance between writing and living your life.

If you have a relationship with books. This may include writing inside the book itself (blasphemy to some).

Maybe you're a Canadian writer, so you might want to read about brooding on Muskoka chairs. I don't know if it's offensive, but it comes on the heels of other work being called unreadably Canadian, which is just ignorant.

To read as a writer is to take the first step in becoming a writer. So, are you a good reader?

If you are a reader who is not a writer, would you ever consider writing? How come?

Lastly, you may be published, or you may still be on your first draft. Here's something to consider about your website.

There is on more link, and it was the best piece I've read about getting rid of your excuses for not writing, but I can't remember where I got the link. If I remember it I'll add it soon.

EDIT: I found it! Get over your excuses for not writing. Phew!

That's all for now. Why aren't you writing yet?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Speculation: authors and the internet

One of the issues I'm interested in involves the growing use of that media to aid publishing, and how publishers are responding and adapting to new technology. Online media could lead to complications for trade publishers in the near future, but only if publishers choose not to keep up with the online world.

Some authors are embracing online networking tools (and feel free to post links to the ones you know of in the comments), and they have begun building platforms for publicity and promotion. Some have been on top of these changes for years, and their web presence is firmly established while the other authors play catch-up. Foresight and independence should be applauded, and I’m sure publishers everywhere would love to have authors share some of the promotional burden of their work. However, the online world is new and in its pioneering stage when it comes to publishing. Smaller companies with fewer staff members and limited resources could be slow to incorporate online aspects to their normal workload. Some companies might have no idea about blogs, Twitter, Facebook, or book trailers on YouTube—-and even if they know about these resources, they might have no idea how to make use of them. Some or all of these applications could fail to reach the expectations of their users, or they could become obsolete within months, but the belief is growing that an author who wishes to succeed has to be willing to take care of an online platform and roll with the changes. Whether publishers want to adapt, or whether they can adapt, remains to be seen.

Delayed reaction (or at least reluctance) to make changes within the industry could push authors and even booksellers away. Smaller companies would be forced to shut down or sell off. The increase of authors without representation could mean better pickings for larger, more financially secure companies, but it is also possible that several authors would turn to self-publishing. The success of self-published books—The Shack and Eragon, among others—is boosting the popularity of ‘vanity’ publishing. Furthermore, profit margins can be greater for a self-published author than they would be for an author on a conventional publishing contract. As self-publishing becomes more common, and as authors handle their own publicity, publishing companies could be pushed into the background. The big companies would still handle blockbuster authors, but everyone else could be left jockeying for positions on Amazon.

I think that there are some people who fail to see the importance of publishers. I disagree with them. I think that when you marginalize or eliminate the publishers, then the quality of the output suffers. If that happens, then you start going down a slippery slope that begins with sloppy work hitting the bookshelves (or virtual shelves), and ends with an unsatisfied and eventually disinterested public.

Of course this doom and gloom is all hypothetical. This chain of events can be avoided if some of the links are altered. The only link publishers can control is the one they belong to. In order to exist, they must adapt.

This is a little stream-of-consciousness, and I'm sure there are holes in the theory, so feel free to poke at the holes in the comments. Nothing like promoting healthy discussion.

Friday, September 18, 2009

What are the roots that clutch...

Someone in an online group asked what she should do with the book she's written, and how she'd know if it was done. Having only limited experience in writing and publishing, I gave her my opinion. Still, the questions got me thinking. "How do I know when it's done?" or "How many revisions should I do?" are questions I hear a lot from other writers.

There is no answer for this that will work for everyone. My suggestion to the author was to put aside what she'd written, and take a few weeks or months off. I think you need to give your mind a rest and get some distance from the story. As a writer, you are too close to the subject to be objective. This is why editors can seem harsh when they cut up your beloved prose. Some editors are harsh, but ordinary readers are going to make assumptions about your writing if they find errors, and plot holes.

I don't mean to rant about the writing and editing process, because you can find better sources than me without looking all that hard. Writer's Digest is a good place to start. You can also try reading this article on revisions

Even literary geniuses don't get the words right the first time. T.S. Eliot had The Wasteland almost halved by Ezra Pound's edits. (Well, that's a bad example, because I think Pound may have gone too far.) Then there's a story about James Joyce; the story goes that a friend went to visit Joyce and found him depressed and slumped over a table. (I'm paraphrasing here, obviously.) "James, what's wrong?" "It's my writing. I can't make it work." "How much did you get done today?" "Ten words." "But... James, that's wonderful--for you." "Yes, but I don't know which order to put them in!"

You want more proof of writers getting it wrong the first time? Just look at the Bard:

"Temperamental git." Rightly so. Speaking as a writer (and sometime editor), writers as a whole are a whiny, molly-coddled bunch. Don't even make me list the examples. And, writers? Don't get in a snit. You know it's true. On the bright side, no one's perfect, and at least you get to write books.

Now it's Friday, and I don't want to drone endlessly, so here's a link for you fantasy writers who are interested in writing trilogies. Or rather, it's how to get agents to pay attention to you. I'm sure it works even if you don't write fantasy, but since fantasy is what I write, and since fantasy as a genre has more trilogies than any other genre (source: my own head), then fantasy is what I'm going with.

That about does it. And if there are any writers out there who had their feathers ruffled by my comments, please know that my tongue was planted firmly in cheek. Now stop whining and get back to writing your magnum opus. Shoo!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

While my focus goes on leave

First, I demand (ok, request) that you play this song while listening to this post.

Second, it's been two years since James Rigney (aka Robert Jordan) passed away. Two years to the day. Of course, I didn't find out until by birthday, four days from now, and that made for some shocking birthday news. There is a very nice remembrance over at The Thirteenth Depository.

On a happier note, I saw Nick Hornby on Sunday. He happens to be one of my favourite authors (as my answers in my BBAW interview will prove). And... wait.. there's an interruption coming... I'm sorry. I'm going to finish talking about Nick Hornby, but Robert Jordan was one of my favourite authors of all time!

See what I did there? Yeah, please don't judge me.

Anyway, it was great to listen to Mr Hornby talk about his writing process, writing in general, and music. People mention his football (soccer) obsession, but I rarely hear people talk about his musical tastes. There is some very good music referenced in About a Boy (the book, not the movie), and in High Fidelity (the book, not the movie). And since tonight is a night of tangents, how about I just tell you that sometimes the movies get it right. For example: The Velvet Underground. Or Dry the Rain, by The Beta Band.

Then again, maybe it's a personal thing. Maybe it's like why I can relate to the store guys in the following clip, and why others might not.

Oh well. I'm too exhausted. My next post will be more linear, straightforward, and sensical.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

BBAW Interview

Welcome, fellow knaves! It is Book Blogger Appreciation Week, and that means there are a couple of interviews for you to read. The one on this page has me interviewing the author of Mom-Musings. She is one heck of a blogger and book reviewer, and she was good enough to answer all my questions. To read the half where I got interviewed, just visit her site because it should be up sometime today. To see what other interviews are going on this week, just visit the BBAW page. Enjoy!

Q: First off, how about you tell us a bit about yourself?
A: I'm Deanna - wife to my husband for the 20 years, Mom to six children (19,14,12,10,6 and 3), Labor and Delivery Nurse for the past 13 years. Those are my defining job titles. Myself, I love horses (do not own one but used to work with them throughout my teen years), photography (need to spiff up this skill area...on my list of things but I easily fall back on my son's knowledge to help me out),listening to music (especially listening to those I deem talented - however that is defined), reading...yes indeed...I am an avid reader. I will say, I grew up reading. Always had a book. My twenties and early thirties brought down time in the area of fiction reading as I home schooled my children and read parenting and schooling type books. This last year, my avid reading self has come back in full force. There are so many books that it boggles my mind...

Q: Your blog is called Mom-Musings. I understand you have six (!) children. How did you get into blogging, and what do you do when you're not reading or blogging?
A: Okay...I started blogging for my own family sake. I love the idea of journaling but never kept with it. Not only that, the journals that I did start seemed to be lost in some box back in some dusty corner. I figured that blogging was a good way to journal while at the same time it stays in the same place. I blogged about my family for my out-of-town family would stay updated on our happenings. Last summer my blogging started to change a bit. I started joining some on-line book clubs which then lead to my book reviews. I also enjoy the layout process as when I originally went to college I was going in the direction of photography and graphic arts. Hmm...that changed a bit. Anyways, outside of blogging or reading, I am busy working, laundry, cooking, cleaning, playing, outdoor stuff and doing activities with the kids.

Q: You're also a very dedicated blogger, with frequent posts. It's a trait I envy. What is your secret?
A: Secret? No secret, except that it seems to be a high interest of mine, at the moment. When I am done reading a book, I immediately write down my thoughts. That helps for my reviews. If I wait too long there is a risk that I will forget some details and/or lose my enthusiasm. I tend to write up my posts early in the morning or late at night. The other part that keeps me thriving is the book blogging community. I really like the connections that I have been making, very fun.

Q: I notice that you do book giveaways? When did that start, and how did you get into it?
A: I only have just started with book giveaways. I do it hesitantly because I know that my blog is not a high-traffic blog and worry that my giveaway post will be ignored. *smile* Interesting enough, I do have other bloggers participating in my giveaways. Whew! Thanks Goodness. I decided to host giveaways because I have way too many books in my home. I thought it would be a good way to share with others some books that I love but do not necessarily need to keep in my house. Currently, I have a book by Michelle Moran, The Heretic Queen, as a giveaway. Michelle is making this giveaway possible. I have several other book giveaway ideas planned. Ultimately, I am having fun with the giveaway as I love sharing and spreading around books to others.

Q: What is the 100+ Challenge?
A: The 100+ Reading Challenge is hosted by J.Kaye's Book Blog. The idea of this challenge is to try and read 100 or more books during the year 2009.

Q: It's the middle of Spember, so you have 3 and a half months to go before the deadline. How do you think you'll do by the end?
A: I have done well. I have read, to date, 138 books for the year 2009. I do not have an end-goal number because my initial thought was to try and read 100 books. Actually, I am a bit embarrassed by the amount of books I have read. Why? I know that I read fast. I also know that some people think I am a bitty nutty with all the books I have read. These people are my IRL peeps who humorously crack jokes. Love their "lack of understanding" for they truly are the ones missing out...ha! All good fun.
The coolest thing about my avid-reading is that I have seen my older girls flourish in the reading journey. I swear, there is a direct correlation between my increase reading and their increase reading. Pretty cool!

Q: 138 books?! Wow! They'll be upping the competition because of you next year. Moving on. I know you love historical fiction, but the only novel I've read in the genre is Gates of Fire, by Stephen Pressfield. I loved it. What would you recommend for further reading?
A: Honestly, this is a tough question. I have read many wonderful historical fiction novels with most of them set in the courts of royals. Let me think...yes... I have one. I read Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton last August (2008). This book is a thought provoking book that centers in South Africa in 1946. This is a time period where there was great division amongst white people and the "natives". I will say that the first chapters were rough to get through so I gave up. With the encouragement for a friend, I gave the book another go. I am thankful that I did. Take a look at my review for further insight. Oh yes, this book is one of my first reviews. You can see how my review "layouts" have changed. It is fun to look back at older reviews.
The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell - I have not read this book yet. It is on my to-read list and has been highly recommend by others that I know in real life. If you do decide to read either Cry, the Beloved Country or The Last Kingdom - please let me know what you think of the read. I really enjoy reading others opinions and takes on books that I have read as well.

Q: Hardcover, paperback, or e-book?
A: For books that I want to keep on my bookshelf for years, will re-read, and one day will want my children to read... hardcover. All other books... paperback

Q: Team Jacob or Team Edward? No, I'm just kidding. Honestly though, do we need more vampires?
A: Very cute and funny! Ha! You see, I loved...and I mean loved...the Twilight books last summer (2008). At that time, Team Edward all the way.
Seriously, we need more vampires? Yes and no. I do not need more teenage-Edward type vampires. I like the paranormal genre so I do like vampires and such. Ummm... I like a good "alpha" type vamp but sometimes get a bit sick of the whole lusty romance edge. What I do like and would love a bit more of is Anne Rice's Louis!!! Interview With the Vampire is one my all-time favorite vampire books. Long answer... huh? *smile*

Q: Since this is about appreciating book bloggers, is there another book blog that you'd like to plug?
A: Yeah... there are several book blogs out there that have played an influential role of some type in my blogging. I will name three that I frequent the most although I do have about 75 book blogs in my GoogleReader. Wow! Did not realize that until just now when I counted.
5 Minutes for Books - This wonderful book blog community is where my book reviewing has truly started. I joined in their Classics Bookclub last fall. Every tuesday they hold some sort of book community event: Kid's Picks, What's On Your Nightstand?, I read it!, Book Club. They also post some fabulous book reviews. From 5 Minutes for Books I have "met" several other book bloggers and visit their sites frequently.
Queen of Happy Endings - Alaine is a fabulous blogger. I have felt a "connection" with Alaine. We tend to read the same books and genre. Her likes and dislikes tend to be the same as mine or at least hover close. She is friendly. I enjoy her blog.
Royal Reviews - Love this blog. They hold weekly book themes. Reviews, interviews, guest posts, book giveaways. They will be hosting Ancient History Week featuring Michelle Moran during the week of Sept. 13th.
Stainless Steel Droppings - This blog is newer to me. I have started visiting it more frequently. I will say, when I grow up, I would like to write like Carl.

Q: Aside from book blogging, you also participate in memes. Can you mention what you do on at least one of them?
A: Golly, which one...which one should I choose... Thursday Tunes or Wondrous Words... hmm...which one? Thursday Tunes hosted by S.Krishna's Books. I love this meme. I am discovering music that I would not otherwise heard if it were not for S.Krishna's Books. She showcases a variety of types of music. Also, there have been other participants from which I have learned about other artists as well.

Q: I liked the Camping vs. Hotels question you asked me in your interview, so now I want to know which you'd prefer.
A: Camping!! Every summer we visit Wisconsin Dells. We camp by the Wisconsin River along with my brother and his daughter. It is a lot of fun, inexpensive and I know who slept in my bedding last. When I traveled to Israel in Feb. 2009, sleeping in "hotels" was yucky. I would have rather slept in my sleeping bag with my pillow on the floor. *smile* *shrug*
We are thinking of making a trip into Canada (possibly near Quebec) next summer. Our 14 year old daughter has strong desire to live in Canada, we have a few passports that need to be utilized, so a camping trip is in order. * smile*

Q: Your daughter has good taste. Alright, it's time for lists. Best book of 2009 (so far):
A: tough one as I have several favorite books for 2009. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Q: Top 5 books you want to read:
A: An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon (she is my favorite author. Can you tell? I will be attending a book tour signing on Sept 30th that I absolutely psyched about)
The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Swan Maiden by Jules Watson
The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

Q: Top 5 books you think others should read:
A: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (I recommend the whole series)
The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Hood by Stephen Lawhead
Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen


For those of you who are not eagle-eyed readers, that list contains six books. Deanna threw one in as a freebie because she's nice like that. Aaaaand that's all we have for this interview. Once again, thank you Deanna for participating. Thank you to all the readers, and remember to check out the other half of this interview at Deanna's site. Follow us, or RSS the feed, or scribble down our URLs on a scrap of paper somewhere. Whichever you decide to do, have a great day, and see you soon!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Book blogging updates

To make up for the lack of September posts, be prepared for a flurry of them in the next couple of weeks, starting tomorrow. One reason for the recent dry spell was my work. I finished my internship at a publishing house, and then I was hired by said house. Fantasic, right? Well, yes, especially because now I'm getting paid. Still, my duties expanded, leaving me with little time to blog or to do anything blog-worthy last week.

On a sad note, I'm going to halt reviews of children's books. My publishing house focuses on YA and children's books, so it would be a conflict of interests if I posted reviews of books published either by us or by our competitors. Therefore I will not be able to post everything I read. I might find a way around this at some time.

On a good note, this is Book Blogger Appreciation Week, and yours truly is part of it. I conducted one interview, and then I got interviewed as well. Come back tomorrow (September 15th) to read the Q & A session.

Also, it's Monday. You know what that means, right?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

And now for something completely different

Yes, I know that most of my writings focus on books and literary musings, but I'm deviating a bit (ok, a lot) for the duration of this post. I'm staying up late to email out these photos, so I figured I might as well post a couple on my blog.

Backstory: I enjoy taking photos. One of my best friends asked my to take photos of an event that he and a few others were throwing. It was a fun night. My musical tastes veer towards indie/garage rock, but I've been to a couple of electro shows and they are a lot of fun. If you're at all interested in the growing electro scene in Toronto, check out Plugged Not Thugged. And if you need photos of your event in the GTA, leave me a message.

For some reason (probably one that has to do with the time), I can't get the blogger templates to work like I want them to. Since I'm tired of pasting codes and squinting at HTML, I'm putting the photos up like this, caption-free.

Top to bottom, the images are of DJs O-God and Mister Mandelephant, Dick Diamonds pointing the mic and then rocking the crowd, the partying of said crowd, and the disco ball at the Augusta House. Apparently the Augusta House wants to use my photos, but I can't find their website so I don't know what that's about. Click on the images to enlarge them.

And that's that. I shall forthwith resume my usual reports of knavery.

EDIT: For the love of Charles Dickens... I thought I resized the photos so they would be tiny, low-quality things, not unlike the size Facebook uses. One of these days I'm going to pick up a program like Lightroom or Photoshop, and I will learn how to digitally edit photos.
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