Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Road Trip Wednesday

Best book in November? As usual, I cannot pick just one.

I've already blogged about:

A Countess Below Stairs and   Deadline

I would also add:

A Company of Swans and Curse of the Blue Tattoo: Being an Account of the Misadventures of Jacky Faber, Midshipman and Fine Lady (Bloody Jack, #2)
Can't decided which of the Eva Ibbotson books I liked better. They were both wonderful.

Love the Bloody Jack series (Curse of the Blue Tattoo is #2). It is, literally, LOL funny at times.

Well, I'm off to make pies and try to squeeze in some writing...


Monday, November 22, 2010

Latest Audiobook Love

Deadline Senior, Ben Wolf, has a terminal disease and less than twelve months to live, but getting treatment isn't part of his future, and telling his loved ones isn't part of his immediate plans.

As a Reader:

Yes, I'll be the first to comment on (and complain about) the inordinate amount of death and dying in YA fiction...but then another great book like this comes into my life and I have to eat my words. I mean, who cares that (SPOILER ALERT) two seniors die in unrelated deaths in a hundred student school (what are the odds of that anyway?)...this book is still amazing.

As a Writer:

We're told not to write "issue" books, so I'm jealous when a writer figures out a way to do it that feels organic to the story and doesn't sacrifice character development. This book, IMO, accomplishes that. Or maybe I was just so busy agreeing with and caring about the issues that I ignored the potential problems other readers might have with it.

Other death/dying books I loved:

Thirteen Reasons Why    Going Bovine       Elsewhere             

What about you? Where do you stand on the Death/Dying genre?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Why Audio? (and current read)

Because I hate housework.
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I started listening to audiobooks because I had a data entry job right after college where I could listen to a walkman (personal cassette player, for you young-uns) while working. Then I continued because I had a forty-five minute commute to my first professional job.

Now I do it because being a wife and mother, working outside the home or not (I've done both), requires that I do a lot of things I'd rather not do (dishes and laundry), and I do them endlessly (dishes and laundry, dishes and laundry, dishes and laundry...). Audiobooks keep me from going insane when every time I turn around the sink is full of dishes again.

I do get that sitting and reading a book is relaxing, but for those of us with no time to relax, audio can be a lifesaver.

Current thing saving my sanity:

Deadline This one might turn out as good as Whale Talk, also by Chris Crutcher.

What about you? How do you find time to read? Have you tried audio and it did/didn't work for you?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Road Trip Wednesday


This week's YA Highway Road Trip Wednesday is also a contest:

"The winds in Washokey make people go crazy."

That's the first line of Kirsten Hubbard's LIKE MANDARIN, and you can read the rest a few months early if you win our ARC giveaway! Post on your own blog about
a time you did something completely crazy
and be sure you marked "yes" on the entry form for an extra chance to win!

The funnest crazy thing I've done was participate in a huge scavenger hunt with around twenty of my friends in high school. I wasn't part of the group that stole a goat from the town's petting zoo, or in one of the two groups who caught each other taking magnetic stickers from different sides of the same student driver car, but my group did steal a road sign, post and all, driving down the road with it sticking out both sides until we made it to a group member's house and proper tools. I found out later that all our groups had the cops after us that night. That was, thankfully, the only time that's happened in my life.

Oh, and another fun crazy thing I did was wear a toga into a department store (we were heading for a pep-rally dress-themed basketball game). I couldn't believe all the looks we got, but the best part was when one of my guy friends hit another on the shoulder and said, "I told you not to wear that hat." 

But the craziest thing I've done is send out my first five queries to agents. In hindsight (many rejections and two agents later), this wasn't that big a deal, but I broke out in hives for the first and only time in my life the week I did this crazy (some might say, insane) thing.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Why Audio?

Top five books/series I probably wouldn't have made it through if they hadn't been on audio.

Listening to audiobooks has broadened my reading horizons. Sure, I have an English degree and read many books in college I loved, loathed and everything in between. I don't regret reading any of them, but I also probably wouldn't have chosen many of them. As an adult, I taught and worked in social services. As a reader, I might still be happily gobbling up one Historical Romance a week without any notion that I might want to be a writer...if it weren't for audiobooks.

So, here are the top five, monster-sized books I wouldn't have made it through if they weren't on audio:

The Vampire Lestat (The Vampire Chronicles, #2) Sure, I might have read Interview With A Vampire, but the story doesn't really get going until this book. A wonderfully descriptive series, as all Anne Rice's work is, that might have proved too much for me, either from fright or sleepiness, if I'd tried to read it in bed.

The Clan of the Cave Bear, the Valley of Horses, the Mammoth Hunters, the Plains of Passage (Earth's Children, #1-4) Even though it is Historical (Prehistorical) Fiction/Romance, I would have never picked up this wonderful series, averaging three inches thick per book, if my library hadn't had it in audio.

The Stand I know, I know. Can I even call myself a real book lover if I admit I wouldn't have read, read this one? I'll take my chances. Admit my faults.

The Host I've heard people complain there were some slow parts in this one, but I didn't feel them as I was busy doing dishes or laundry or driving as I "read" it.

Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution--and How It Can Renew America And finally, this is probably the number one book everyone should read but they're scared off by the thickness. I have a much better handle on the dire state of our environment and the politics that make the situation even more dire because of this book. If I won the lottery, I'd send an audio version of this one to every household in the world.

Maybe next week I'll admit to all the thick YA I might not have made it through...would I loose all my followers if I mentioned J.K.Rowling? (Love, love, love you Harry, but your books are long.) Luckily, I've never had to make those tough choices as the audio was always there for me:)

How about you? Any books you gave up on or didn't pick up but you might have made it through on audio?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Road Trip Wednesday

It's Wednesday again. Already?

Over at YA Highway, today's topic is: What's your favorite literary cliché?

This is such a tough one for me. Growing up, I loved reading Historical Romances with the worldly alpha male hero and strong-minded yet naive heroine...See full size imageYeah, the whole bodice-ripper thing.                           
But as soon as someone pointed out what a cliche that is (and how it perpetuates sexist notions about love) it was totally ruined for me. Now I cringe when a book I'm listening too starts to lean in that direction.

Then there's Star Trek (another love of mine growing up) where every new guy or gal on the away mission is bound to be the one killed.                                     
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I suppose there are many wonderfully written things (including Historical Romances and Star Trek) that still have elements of the cliche in them...put in either consciously or unconsciously by the writer. There is some comfort in the familiar. The thing the reader can automatically latch onto. And some humorous stories even depend on the cliche.

So maybe I'm oversensitive because I read more as a writer now than a reader. To me, recognizing something as cliche is like figuring out (or being told) how the magic trick soon as that happens, the magic is gone.

I know some people feel tolerant of or even like cliche's. Where do you stand?

Monday, November 8, 2010

My mini NaNo and Latest Audiobook Love

First of,  I just finished Eva Ibbotson's, A COUNTESS BELOW STAIRS, and I love, love, loved it.

A Countess Below Stairs
Set in England after WWI, it's the story of a Russian countess, Anna, whose family flees to England after the revolution. She goes to work as a house servant for the Westerholme family, keeping her identity a secret. But her free spirit and cultured upbringing capture the attention of the master of the house, who is engaged to be married soon...and not to Anna.

The writing is witty. The characters are wonderful, even the ones you love to hate. It also deals with some of the attitudes that made the atrocities of the Holocaust happen. It's well worth reading.

Now, NaNo. I so admire those who do this. I'm too much of an edit as I go type to pull it off. Plus, I always seem to find myself in the middle of a book or revisions when November rolls around.

I have, however, been struggling to fit in writing time lately, so I've issued myself a mini-NaNo challenge. 1000 words a day. I'm still doing some revising and editing along the way, so this is way more doable than the 1700 or so words you'd need a day to reach 50K. The good news is, I found myself staying up last night to get my last few hundred words in when I would've just given up any other night.

How about all of you? Doing NaNo? Have before, but not this year? A mini-NaNo or unofficial NaNo? How does it work for you? 

Friday, November 5, 2010

How many books a Month?

I've often told people that, judging by the number of books I turn into the library, I go through 2-4 audiobooks a week. I listen in the car, the kitchen, the laundry room and yes, even the bathroom.

Well, it never dawned on me until last month to start keeping track. I hope to start posting this and my current "reads" and my TBRs in the side column, but until then I've decided to do a monthly post.

For September, I had 12 total (9 YA and 3 adult books). The YA ones were:

SovayThis World We Live InHeist SocietyAnother FaustParanormalcyDon't Judge a Girl by Her Cove...The Carrie DiariesThe ReckoningWake

For October, I had 11 total (6 YA, 1 MG and 4 adult books). My YA/MG books were:

Along for the RideThe Sky Is EverywhereThe Dangerous Days of Daniel XThe Red PyramidRevelationsSuddenly Supernatural: School...Fire

Any of these you loved (or didn't)? Any you'd like me to write a review on? 

And how many books do you usually read/listen to in a month? Have you ever kept track?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Road Trip Wednesday

Over at YA Highway, the topic today is: If you were made supreme ruler of the publishing world, what would be your first ruling?

I love this week's question. Not because I'd want to be the supreme ruler over anything, but because I love to think about ways systems of all kinds can work in more positive ways for all involved.

Now, the first issue, some might think, should be low advances. As supreme ruler, I'd deal with that too. But because advance sizes are so linked to marketing and marketing to success, my first ruling would be that the marketing budget for each book should be at least triple what the advance is, and that the author be given a standard menu of options to decide how that money/staff time should be used (with some wiggle room for unique marketing options too).

Does that sound like two rulings? Well, I'm supreme ruler, and I say it's only one:)

Monday, November 1, 2010

My Space(s)

Summer is having a low-stress blogfest for those doing NaNo (and those of us who aren't, but are busy and in the middle of WIPs).

 Now, for tax purposes, I may have to dedicate an area of my house to my writing someday, but for now, it happens wherever is most convenient. Like:

The couch with my laptop. Also the location of much ad browsing and bill paying.

The kitchen table with my laptop. Most recently used for a candy and caramel apple making party.

The home office. Where more blogging and research gets done than writing.

Finally, my office on the go. My monster-sized purse to fit my mini-notebook. Last seen at dance class, but it's also been used at basketball tryouts, parks, birthday parties and the like.

What about you? Where is the weirdest place you've ever written?