Tag Archives: books

Self-Publishing or Desperate Attempt to Feel Accomplished?

I signed up for a KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) account last night. It was a grown up step for me.  Made me feel like I was one step closer to getting that NaNo 2012 book out to the masses for someone to read.  I did have two kind and generous people read it.  They both said they enjoyed it and liked it so that’s a good sign.  I have spent hours upon hours re-writing, editing, making sure the dots connect and I think I’m finally done.

This is the next step. The next step in getting a “book” out to the masses.  On one hand, I feel like it’s not necessarily a “real” book because anyone can self-publish.  Then I realized that I really just want people to read my stories.  And if Kindle helps people read it, cool.  If not, well hey – I didn’t lose anything now did I?

My other reason for going the self-publishing route is that I’m honestly a bit nervous about writing a query letter.  I mean I don’t know that it won’t get read and picked up, but still I can’t help but wonder if it’s easier to go the self-pub route and see if the number of sales catches the attention of a publisher.  Hey, it’s happened before…a girl can dream.

I think I’m just curious as to what will happen with this if I put it out there.  That nagging voice is shouting at me.  You know the one that is overly critical and condescending.

self-publishing-cartoon

Yeah, she’s being quite the bitch right now, but you know what? I don’t know that I care anymore what she says when it comes to my writing.  I just have to put it out there and let it go.  Who knows – I could make a killing on this first one…don’t laugh too hard at that.  There was an article on CBS Sunday Morning that talked about self-publishing and it was very interesting.

Either way, once I’m done formatting to the specifications that KDP requires, I’m going to unleash my story upon the masses.  Eeek!

I suppose that also means I should start working on self-promotion.  I’m terrible at building myself up.  But I do want to get people to read it…soooo dear readers…I’ll be letting you know when I finally get it out there and you’ll probably get sick of hearing about it, but hey – I have to be my own cheerleader right??

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Writing

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Lunchbox

Back in August, we were back to school shopping.  The Daughter was beginning pre-k and she needed a new lunch box.  As we looked at the options, the Husband pointed out the My Little Pony lunchbox, the Doc McStuffins lunchbox, and the Hello Kitty lunchbox.  Each one was met with a very excited “Yay!”

That is until she turned her head slightly to the right.

She saw the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle lunchbox.

tmnt-teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles

She saw it and that was all she wanted.  I figured, what the hell.

The Husband, however, was a little nervous.  He kept asking if she was sure she wanted that one and didn’t want the Ponies or the Doc lunch box.  She kept answering him with a very confident, nope.  I told him it was just a lunch box and if she liked it, she liked it.  He watches the cartoon with her every weekend.  I just laugh because I remember as a kid watching it with my brothers back in the 80s when it first came out.

The Husband said he was worried one of the boys might mistake it for their lunch box.  I told him I would fix that.  When we got home, I asked her who her favorite Turtle was and she told me that it was Donnie (that was just that day) so I went to my sewing box and found some purple embroidery thread and then sewed her name into the side of the lunch box, which was no easy feat considering I didn’t want to puncture the lining.

The first day of school, the Daughter walked in proud as a peacock with her new Turtles lunch box and was a hit with not only the boys but some of the girls too.

I tell this story, because today, I read an article on a “mommy site” that talked about a girl who was almost in tears when she saw two books titled “How to Survive (Almost) Anything.”  It wasn’t the book itself that made her feel the need to cry, but rather the fact that there was one for girls and one for boys.

The one for boys, as the article continued on, contained things like “How to Survive a Canoe Trip.”  The one for girls had things like “How to Survive a Slumber Party.” The stark difference in the books made the little girl feel sad, to put it mildly.

As I read, I couldn’t help but think about the lunch box.  It was funny how something that was deemed a “boy” toy would make the Husband feel uncomfortable, for lack of a better word.  Having grown up with three brothers, I thought nothing of it.  I played with He-Man and Ninja Turtles as well as My Little Pony and Barbie.

Going back to the article, I read the comments with the article and found that I agreed with the comments that said they would have bought both books and allowed the daughter to read both.  I would have done the same.

I think that while the publisher was wrong for publishing those books because let’s face it, they are pretty damn sexist, it’s up to the parent to then take that negative and turn it around.  First, I probably wouldn’t buy the books because I would have been ticked off that they were so drastically different and I wouldn’t have wanted to pay them and let them think that I was ok with these books as presented.  Second, if the Daughter happened to come across them in the library or something like that, I would use that opportunity to point out how yes, learning to survive a sleepover may be something she might want to learn, learning how to survive a camping trip might be just as important (and probably more fun).

I do this all the time with the daughter because I want her to know that, to quote Annie Get Your Gun, “Anything you can do, I can do better.”  Well maybe not better, but at least as good as…but let’s be honest, hopefully better.

 

3 Comments

Filed under Books, Family

Back to My Normal Pace

It feels so good to be back to my normal pace.  I read Night Chills by Dean Koontz yesterday.  Yes, in a 24 hour period, I read a book.  That is so much better compared to the laborious effort placed on my last selection!

night chills

Psychological Thrillers are wonderful.  There’s that slight possiblity that it could be real.  This book was first published back in the late 70s and knowing what we now know, the possibility that this exact scenario could be taking place, is slightly terrifying.

From the slighted scientist who is able to figure out how to be “the Key” to the sleepy mill town tucked away in the woods of Maine near the Canadian border, this book held all the elements of a page turner that made me want to just keep going until I found out if the experiment was successful or not.

The love plot in the book felt a little out of place, just for the sheer fact that there was more excitement in the key-lock story.  It was nice to see that the main character was able to open himself up, but there were times I didn’t feel that it was necessary.  After finishing it though, I do understand why it was introduced into the story.

There were a few scenes not for the faint of heart, however.  So if you are a reader who cannot stomach violence, then be prepared to skip a few pages or paragraphs in some cases.

This is kind of a thrown together review, but it’s due to the fact that I don’t want to give too much away because it was such a short book and a fast read.  Just know that you’ll be entertained!

For a quick summer read, it was perfect.  For my first book by Dean Koontz, it was perfect.  I may have to check out more of his work.  When I finish the ridiculously huge pile of books waiting to be read, that is!

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Reviews

It Is Finished

I am FINALLY done with that book!!!!!!!!!

I skipped the criticisms and other essays in the back of this text...

I skipped the criticisms and other essays in the back of this text…

I feel liberated. 

happy dance

I feel overjoyed

celebration

I feel like I want to burn my own bra.

I finished it two days ago, but took some time to let it digest before I wrote this post.  I’m sorry. I understand that Austen’s works are revered as a socioeconomic and political glimpse at life during the Victorian era but seriously! They had NOTHING better to do?  It was all “who had this fortune,” “how much could they live off of,” “who was eligible for marriage.”  No real plot was to be found in the book just the main characters sitting around, going to dances, worrying about who came calling and when.  Even shows on Bravo have better plot lines.  I understand that at that time, there was nothing but status to really keep one in the right circles but it just got so old.  It was slammed in your face every other page, reminders that fortune and property were valued almost more than the individual.

Marianne was selfish, rude, materialistic, and a feckin drama queen.  Who (?!?!?!?!) makes themselves ill almost to the point of death over the THOUGHT  that someone MIGHT propose only to find out that you really weren’t dating at all and it was all in your head. How utterly ridiculous did I find her actions,  as much as I found the narrative which read just as this sentence does in horrible way…I almost wanted her to die just so I didn’t have to see her ridiculous actions continue on.

Then, there were the endless gossip circles.  Why didn’t any of these ladies just pick up a book.  Didn’t the gossip get old?  Didn’t they run out of things to gossip about?  Eventually all the ladies were married.  Did they move on to the next generation?  Maybe I have lived in a small town for too long and become jaded by the gossip that sometimes occurs in a small town, but this was just too much. So many things were fueled by the gossip.   Maybe that’s what Austen intended – to show how a giant game of English Countryside Telephone would potentially kill a young girl?

I seriously doubt that I, in a past life, lived during this era.  If I did, I hope I was a man.  They at least got to do more exciting things.

I know I have Pride and Prejudice in the pile.  I think I will put that one off for a little while longer, unless it has more of a plot and characters I can actually care about.  Now, I’m off to be scared by Mr. Koontz…

4 Comments

Filed under Books, Reviews

Almost Done!!!

I only have 48 more pages of the book I have been whining about for a few weeks now.  The Husband asked why I haven’t just given up yet.  Does he not know me?  Does he not understand that I MUST finish this book?

all the books48 more pages.  I am going to try to finish Monday night.  That is my goal…

48 more pages….

2 Comments

Filed under Books

Book Hoarder or Bibliophile?

I have always loved reading.  For my birthday and Christmas (and any other holiday that involves gift giving), I usually end up with at least one or two books.  My husband learned quickly that while flowers are pretty and nice, books are even better.

Books

Over the past week, between birthday gifts and a REALLY good sale at BarnesandNoble.com, I have added a whopping total of 12 new books to the “to-read” pile.  While I may have been a bit over-zealous in my birthday shopping, I really am more than excited to get into these books (if I EVER finish Sense and Sensibility).  They range from YA to Nonfiction; Crime to Vampires; Classics to Pop Culture phenomenons.

As I look at the list, I realize that those books are 12 more books closer to my goal I set at the beginning of the year.  Goodreads.com has an annual reading challenge.  It’s nothing truly competitive.  It’s more just for people to set personal reading goals for themselves.  This year, I pledged I would read 100 books.  I know that sounds a bit outlandish, but I figured what the hell, aim for the stars.  I am nowhere near that goal but I’m going to keep trying to hit it, after all I have five months left.

These new books will hopefully help me get a little closer to that goal but in all honesty, I don’t really care if I hit the goal.  There are just so many books and not enough time!

reading quote

That being said, I have to wonder if I have a problem.  Am I a book hoarder?  I cannot ever bring myself to give away a book I buy.  I once saw an interview with Neil Gaiman and proudly showed the interviewer his basement in which he had every single book he had ever read.  I felt like I had found a kindred spirit.  When I read a book, it’s like it’s part of me and I can’t just give it away.  I want to keep it.  I may want to re-read it some day and see if I find a new meaning in the words.  It happens, you know.  Take a book like the Fountainhead.  I read it my sophomore year in high school.  I hated every minute of it.  It was haughty and seemed to really push away what I thought I knew at that point.  Then I reread it after I left College #1 because I remember someone saying that they re-read it and enjoyed it the second time around.  I was at a crossroads and thought maybe now was the time to pick it up again.  As I read it for the second time, I started to understand different things in the book.  It had new meanings in different places.  It held new insights to life, whether it meant to or not.  I haven’t picked that one up in a while but I’m sure in a few more years, I may consider tackling it for a third time.

oscar wilde quote

But keeping all these books I have read over the years can take up space I don’t have.  Yes, there are Kindles, Nooks, iPads, e-readers but honestly, they are not the same.  They don’t have beautiful cover art.  They don’t have bindings that can be organized alphabetically by author and then chronologically by title, after being sorted by genre of course!  They are great space savers but, I feel like something is lost in their cold electronic fonts.  Does that stop me from filling mine up?  No.  It just lets me hide my books a little better.

I posted something to my FB wall today stating that I might have to admit a book hoarding problem and I was quickly answered with the idea that I was a bibliophile.

When-I-get-a-little-money

Call it what you will: Book hoarder, bibliophile, book collector.   I just know that nothing makes me happier than knowing I have worlds waiting for me (well, my kid might make me happier than that, but a good book is a close second).  I suppose I need to get started on that pile…after I finish that other book…

4 Comments

Filed under Books

Why Do I Torture Myself?

I read a lot.  I read pretty much anything you put in front of me.  I do tend to get on a roll with certain genres from time to time, most recently my addiction to YA dystopian fantasy, but then I try to read something a little more challenging or scholarly.

I had Sense and Sensibility in the pile for years now. I kept shuffling other books ahead of it, telling myself I wasn’t quite ready to take it on just yet.  I would make excuses like “Oh the movie of that book is coming out in a few months” or “Well someone gave me this one as a gift, I should read it so I can tell them that I liked it for x,y, and z.”  Well a few months ago, I realized that I had played this game for far too long.  I picked up the novel by Jane Austen and began my very first Jane Austen novel.

Being an English major, you are subjected to many different genres and many different periods of literature.  As you go through your education, you come to find things out about yourself, like which of these genres and periods you like and those that you really have to drudge through to the end.  However, oddly enough, as an English major, I never read any of Jane Austen’s works.  I read other Victorian and Romantic writers.  Dickens is one of my favorites.  Mary Shelley was pretty darn good too.  I have come to learn that I have a very hard time getting through the Victorian/Romantic works of Jane Austin.

Once I start a book, I am stubborn and must finish it.  I feel that if I do not finish it, I have no real reason as to why I didn’t like it.  At least if I finish it, I can say I didn’t like it because the main character was a wimp or because the ending was too contrived.  Sometimes, I have finished a book I thought I didn’t like only to find that the last few chapters did have a bit of a silver lining to an otherwise grey cloud of a three hundred pages.  It’s a labor of love in a sense.  I love the fact that someone took the time to pour these words onto a page and allowed me to read what was rattling around in his or her head.  I feel I owe it to them to finish the book, no matter how difficult I may find it.

Sense and Sensibility has been taking me an insane amount of time to finish.  I am sad to say I don’t find it to be a book I can just pick up and blow through.  I have seen the movie.  I remember Emma Thompson playing Elinor, the eldest of the Dashwood girls; Kate Winslet playing the overly dramatic Marianne; Hugh Grant  as Edward Ferras; and Alan Rickman playing Col. Brandon.  It was a very good movie.  The book, however, does not flow for me the way the movie does and before you all hang me and take away my Voracious Reader card, hear me out for a minute.

sense and sensibility

The story starts out well enough.  Mother and her three daughters find themselves needing a new place to call home after their father dies and, because of the laws of the land, his son from his first wife, inherits everything.  The son doesn’t want to do wrong by them but his greedy and somewhat trollish wife insists that he owes his half-sisters nothing.  Off they go to their new cottage and begin life anew in the country.  Nothing too hard there.

Then we find ourselves with the Dashwoods at Barton.  So begins the line of new characters who come and go but don’t make a lasting enough impression to remember their names.  They are all so similar!  Col. Brandon stands out but only because he is made out to be pitiful and hopelessly in love with one of the girls.  Edward Farras is also pretty memorable as is Willoughby but everyone else is almost filler, just promoting how eligible these young women are and how tough it is to break into social circles of the English countryside.

The only thing that seems to drive the characters is just the need to keep busy during the day.  There is no real motivation for any of them. It is as if this book is just a “day in the life” kind of book that shows life at the time.  Now, I do NOT in any way, shape, or form pretend to be an Austen scholar and if you are one, then I’m sorry.  Please forgive me.  I am not trying to be mean.  I just don’t get it.

Now, I’ll admit, I haven’t finished it yet.  So, maybe I’ll feel differently in the end. I just feel I owe it to myself to read at least one Jane Austen book.  I have Pride and Prejudice in the pile too. I just hoped that it would be sweeping and epic like Jane Eyre – one of my top five favorite books of all time.  So far though, I haven’t felt a connection to any of them.  Again, I haven’t finished yet, but I had to get all that off my chest.  After all, it’s taken me a month to just get through Volume I.  I promised myself that I would not read any other books until I finished this one.  For my birthday, I received six new books.  All of them books I very much wanted to read.

They are calling me…Must finish Sense and Sensibility.

Must finish.

Must finish.

Must be Sensible.

Must finish book…

5 Comments

Filed under Books

Book Review: The City of Bones

I like YA fiction.  I love it.  I really do enjoy it.  For some reason, they capture this amazing fantasy world that is just pure entertainment.  I have yet to find a YA series that I didn’t really like.   Don’t judge.

Most recently, I have discovered the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare.  By discovered, I really mean I have devoured it.  I read all five books in a matter of five days.  I will start (big surprise) with the first book.

city of bones

Clarissa Fray is a normal teenager living in New York.  Along with her best friend, Simon, who like many American teenagers, is in a band with an ever changing name, Clary lives a typical, normal, and average life.  They have been best friends since childhood and it is no surprise that they are together on the night when Clary’s life changes forever.

In a seedy New York club called Pandemonium, Clary sees a beautiful group of teenagers attack a person and discovers a whole new part of the world in which she lives.

All of our fables are true.  Vampires, Werewolves, Fair Folk, Warlocks, Angels, and Demons.  And then there are Shadowhunters.  Jace Wayland is the epitome of a Shadowhunter – arrogant, deadly, and in Clary’s eyes, electric.

Something, however, is not quite right and after Clary’s mother is abducted and Clary herself is attacked by a demon, she knows that there is something deeper going on in the city that she thought she knew.  Her life is turned upside down as she finds truths in the Institute, a Shadowhunter embassy of sorts.

The plot is somewhat predictable but overall, it was ridiculously entertaining.  As Clary discovers herself and the Institute, I found myself enjoying the ride, discovering the world with her.  I could easily slip into her shoes and understand how she felt as everything was turned upside down.

Clare’s writing style is fantastic.  It moves at a very good pace with very few slow spots (which can sometimes happen with YA) and I found myself more than willing to pick up the second book…and the third, fourth, and fifth…

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Reviews

Books I Haven’t Read but Probably Should

There are books that everyone reads in high school. Or at least there are books most everyone reads in high school. Recently, I realized that I have not read quite a few of the “classic” works of American literature.

classic_literature

It surprised me to see how many of the books on the list of and on school curricula that I have never read. I have seen the movies, but we all know that they typically pale in comparison to the books.

to-kill-a-mockingbird2_9855

Over the next few months, I have decided that I am going to rectify this problem, starting with Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. Yes, you read that correctly. I have never read that book. Not in High School. Not in college. Odd for someone who was an English major, isn’t it?

To_Kill_a_Mockingbirdbook

The other books only list include e Catcher in the Rye, Catch-22, Pride and Prejudice, and Brave New World (just to name a few).

I am looking forward to it, even if it seems like a daunting task to tackle some of these classics. I feel kind of like a fraud for not having ever read them and the countless others that are on this list and the summer reading lists of many students.  I want to really work through the 100 greatest novels of all time (most of those books are on the list) and over the next few weeks, I think I can begin to put a dent in that list and add to the list of ones I have already read.

What book have you never read but think it might be time to take a stab at?

1 Comment

Filed under Books, Culture

The Graveyard Book – A Tale of Life

So my Goodreads.com goal is to read 100 books in 2013.  While I have three other books currently going, I finally finished the first one.  According to the counter, I’m seven books behind.  I think I can do this.  Book number 2 is almost done!

This morning I finished Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book.

The graveyard book

“There was a hand in the dark and it held a knife.”  So begins the tale of Nobody Owens, a young baby boy who narrowly escapes murder.  The rest of his family is not so fortunate and little Nobody wanders into the graveyard where is he is happily protected by Mr. and Mrs. Owens, a pair of childless ghosts who live in the graveyard near the scene of the murders.

After being granted the protection of the graveyard, Nobody, or Bod as he is called, learns the ways of the graveyard.  He learns how the ghosts move and learns of the darker things that lurk in the graveyard.   Growing up under the watchful eye of Silas, his guardian, Bod learns that outside the graveyard, there are still things lurking and waiting to end his life.

Gaiman’s hero must come of age in a world that is unlike any other child, having parents that no one else can see, and never leaving the security of the graveyard. However, Bod is able to find love and friendship in many places – a witch in the Potter’s field, a young (living) girl who came to play in the graveyard, and even in the mysterious Sleer who guard the treasures for their master’s return.

With a rather obvious nod to Kipling’s The Jungle Book, this story is endearing and adventurous as young Bod discovers what it means to be human and what it truly means to be alive.  At one point, Bod finds himself alone in the graveyard, and odd thing for Bod because he has always had someone in the graveyard to talk to.  With no one there to watch him, Bod wanders outside the gate down to the Old Town.

"Bod was a quiet child with sober grey eyes and a mop of tousled, mouse-colored hair.  He was, for the most part, obedient."  The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

“Bod was a quiet child with sober grey eyes and a mop of tousled, mouse-colored hair. He was, for the most part, obedient.The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

“Bod had never walked anywhere as a sightseer before. He had forgotten the prohibitions on leaving the graveyard, forgotten that tonight in the graveyard on the hill the dead were no longer in their places; all that he thought of was the Old Town , and he trotted through it down to the municipal gardens in front of the Old Town Hall (which was now a museum and a tourist information center, the town hall itself having moved into much more imposing, if newer and duller, offices halfway across the city)…Bod listened to the music, entranced.  There were people trickling into the square, in ones and twos, in familiars or alone.  He had never seen so many living people at one time.  There must have been hundreds of them, all of them breathing, each of them as alive as he was, each with a white flower.”

Gaiman’s style is wonderful for setting the scene with wonderfully vivid descriptions including the smallest of details that, in real life, we as people would notice but so often are not included in books.  I once read somewhere that someone (I honestly forget where or who) once said how much they love when writers write things like colds into their stories because how often do you hear about a character sneezing or taking a dose of Tylenol.  These are the details that Gaiman works in effortlessly that gives the reader an amazing sense of setting and character.  The narrator provides little asides that help the reader get a true sense of the town, the modern life that has taken over the Old Town and how it has transformed the town from what Bod has learned about from the citizens of the graveyard. It is new and exciting to him and the rest of the evening in the Old Town plays out in a way Bod could only dream of.

While at times I wish there had been more adventures or more mischief for Bod to get into with the Ghosts, I had to remind myself that this novel was geared toward a slightly younger crowd.  I must admit that it didn’t bother me.  It was still a fantastic tale where ghosts, ghouls, the undead, werewolves, and jacks-of-all-trades come together and help shape Nobody.

If you are looking for a quick read and one that is going to leave you feeling uplifted in a macabre kind of way, then I would recommend this book.  If you are going to buy it in paperback, I would recommend the version I linked to above because at the end, there are some great extras including an interview with Gaiman about the book which was a great little treat for those of us who love to hear the author talk about the hows and whys of a book.

Also, a special treat for those who are Toriphiles, there is the nod to her (the two have been friends for quite some time and I even was at a concert that Neil was at so Tori sang “Tear in Your Hand” and waved to Neil.  I love when things like that happen at concerts!) at the end where he does quote “Graveyard.”  Here’s a great live version of it (followed by Snow Cherries From France) and after reading the book,  it was a beautiful tie in!

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Reviews