Boycotts & Books

Standard

I think one of the most overwhelming things to do in life is spend a gift card at a book store.

Yes, it is possible to be overwhelmed by a good thing.

The money/book ratio is always off. There is never enough money on the gift card to buy all the books you’d want to read, so you want to make sure you pick out a good one.

too-many-books-so-little-time.gif

This task becomes even more overwhelming when the gift card happens to be the last gift card I ever received and ever will receive from my mother.

I just felt like it should be used to purchase a special book.

With Mother’s Day being this weekend, inconveniently and tormentingly close to my mother’s death, I have decided to avoid all stores that sell Mother’s Day paraphernalia … which just so happens to be every store. I miss her and I want to buy her a present. I can’t, so I don’t want to be reminded that she won’t be here this holiday.

Due to my Mother’s Day boycott, as you can imagine, it was really hard to find something to do or somewhere to go during my lunch break. So I drove around for fifteen minutes before remembering I still had a gift card from my mother from Christmas.

Since I miss her, I thought this was either a really good time or a bad time to spend it. It was really a coin toss, so I decided to chance it.

So began the overwhelming task of picking out a special book.

I found a few series I’d like to try: John Gwynne’s Ruin series and S.M. Stirling’s Change series.

I also batted around getting my own copy of Empress by Karen Miller so I wouldn’t have to sneak my sis’ copy whenever I want to read a passage.

I ended up getting a new copy of the Silmarillion. Yes, I already have it, but I hate the cover of the copy I bought (and that was the least ugly cover at the time).

I found a copy that matches my copy of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

My mom wasn’t a fan of Tolkien or fantasy for that matter, but she’d be happy I got something I really like and will treasure forever. Now whenever I read it I’ll think of my mom … and how much she didn’t like Lord of the Rings.

For those of you who will be acknowledging the holiday, have a good one. Hug your moms. Srsly. I still remember my last hug. It was worth more than all the books on my shelf. If it’s Sunday, and you’re reading my blog, leave your computer right now and go spend time with your mom!

 

 

2015 Reading Resolutions

Standard

In 2014, I think I only managed to finish 4-6 books. Partially I just didn’t have a lot of time to read what with writing and editing my sister’s novel and all, but on the other hand, I simply could not get through some of the books I tried to read. What it comes down to is this: I don’t have time to read bad books, but in 2015 I am going to make time to read good ones. This is my to-read list. Additional recommendations are welcome, especially in the fantasy genre.

51kmDQgbu9LThis book was referred to me by my sister. Being a parody reader and writer, she loves the works of Terry Prachett–most of them anyway. I started reading this book in 2014, but I got stuck in the middle. It wasn’t that it was bad, it was just slow-going. I plan on returning to Discworld this year so I can find out how the story ends. The characters are really enjoyable and most of the humor is very witty. So far, I recommend this book.


91pY4eHaULL._SL1500_As a fantasy writer, I like to keep up with who and what’s popular in the fantasy realm. I’ve heard a lot of buzz about the author Brent Weeks–this book in particular. I haven’t started reading it yet, but the synopsis sounds hopeful. I’m looking forward to reading something from an author I’m not familiar with. Keeping my fingers crossed it’s good.


81yqwJc-HwL._SL1500_Would any fantasy lover’s reading list be complete without something written by George R.R. Martin. I’m ashamed to admit I watched the show before reading the book. I just don’t typically get invested in series with more than five books. It’s too expensive and time consuming for me to keep up with. I do, however, want to sample George’s writing style, so I’m going to read the first book and go from there. I like the show so I assume I’ll like the book.


91t2pe2bjOL._SL1500_

This author was referred to me by my sister. I was told Karen Miller is like the woman George R.R. Martin. I’m really looking forward to reading this one, even though I have no intentions of reading the other books in the Godspeaker trilogy. For one thing, I already know what happens, because my sister told me everything. You never ask her to tell you about a book or movie unless you want to know how it ends. See her review here.


81sfIu7rrvL._SL1500_

If you were worried, I happen to have some independent authors on my list as well. Though I’m not a fan of Gods, I do love elves, so I figured this book would be a safe bet. I’ve never read anything from this author before, but it had decent reviews so I’m happy to check it out.


91Zl5ysLDpL._SL1500_

The cover drew my interest, and the reviews won me over. Even though one of the reviews contained massive spoilers (seriously, people, don’t give away the end), I’m still going to read this. I’m hoping the story is as good as the cover. I haven’t read a sample yet, so I’m really trusting the opinions of others here.


91R5IqXMMvL._SL1500_This is probably the only nonfiction book I have on my list. I saw this on twitter and couldn’t resist. I love the story of Gilgamesh. It was the first piece of ancient literature I studied in college. I loved the character’s plight: Why must we die? Humanity’s struggle with the inevitability of death and what it means to be mortal is a fascinating topic, one that I hope this author will do justice.


916WAVS8neL._SL1500_

This is another book I studied in college (same professor). This is probably one of my favorite stories of all time. I’m particularly fond of the theme of mortality: Is it better to die a legend and be remembered forever or to be remembered and loved by a few and then forgotten forever. The only reason I don’t have this book on my shelf right now is because I can’t choose which translation I want.


81L1w9IyE2L._SL1500_

For those of you who think I want to read this after watching the movie starring Fancy Wolverine, let me just stop you right there. I’ve wanted to read this since I was four. Yes, that’s true. I remember a trip to the library as a child. I saw this book on a shelf and asked my mom how old I had to be to read it–considering it didn’t have pictures. She said grown ups read books like that. I think 28 is grown up enough. Challenge accepted.


915iXUbRrsL._SL1500_

I’m not usually a fan of Mages or magic in fantasy (which makes my reading pool pretty shallow), but this book was written by an awesome author, so I’m sure it too will be awesome. I’ve read a sample, and so far, I have to say the quality is very good. I usually don’t recommend a book after only reading a chapter, but I’ve already recommended this one to several people.


91ywWYyj59L._SL1500_

I just added this title to my reading list today. I saw it on a post by Therin Knite, and I thought it looked good. The reviews are promising and I like the sample so far. The writing is good so far. No final judgement yet.


Well, there you have it. I think eleven books isn’t too ambitious. It’s going to take me enough time to read “Les Mis” so we’ll see how many I actually finish. Some of these books are repeats from 2014, and I’ve even started reading some of them; this year I vow to finish them.

What are your reading resolutions? Do you have a quota or a list of titles?

Write the Book You Want to Read

Standard

woman-reading-bookOf all the stresses of being a writer: finding an agent, editing, making time to write, submitting query letters and proposals, the first dilemma is finding something to write about. People always say write what you know. I don’t know about you, but writing is one way for me to escape what I know. I already live, eat, breathe insurance, I don’t want to write about it. Does anyone out there want to read about an insurance agent who works six days a week selling and servicing policies? In case you’re intrigued, it goes a little something like this:

Customer: “I’m here to make a payment.”

Agent: “Will that be with a credit card or check today?”

Customer: “Card.”

Agent: “Here’s your reciept.”

Customer: “Thanks.”

Agent: “See you next month.”

Repeat that about five times a day with the occasional claim call, general question, and about three hours of down time and you have the day and life of the insurance agent. The stuff of a New York Times bestseller … maybe not. Maybe you’d be more interested if I was an insurance agent by day, vampire by night or some kind of insurance mob boss threatening everyone in town to buy insurance policies from my company using scare tactics and threats and sending horse heads to the beds of my competitors.

My inspiration usually doesn’t come from my life. I haven’t written a word that I could credit to four years of college, more than five jobs, and the occasional trip out of state. My inspiration usually strikes right after reading. I’m not a plagarist or anything; it’s not that I want to replicate a story I’ve read, I want to write what I think should have happened. Have you ever read something and wished there were more stories similar to the one you just read (This is why I like fanfic), or have you ever wished the author had gone in the direction you thought the plot was going? My current project is actually inspired by reading fanciton based on one of my favorite books. If you’re like me, you’ve spent hours in the library or bookstore trying to find a book that appeals to you:. Sometimes I just go through a dry spell where I can’t find anything. So I asked myself, what do you like to read. Just write it yourself.

Write what you want to read. You may love young adult fiction or historical fiction. My personal favorite genre is fantasy, not that there is a short supply of fantasy. Quite the opposite. So I should be able to find a book I like, ideally. The problem is I don’t like your run of the mill fantasy: dragons, magic, wizards, items of power, prophesies, and chosen ones. Yes, I realize most of this is in the Lord of the Rings, which I love, but the fantasy genre is over saturated with these elements.

For starters, my favorite characters are elves. Now I know a lot of people say they are tired of elves, which I don’t understand because for one thing they are awesome, and aside from Tolkien and R.A. Salvatore, I really don’t think there are that many books that have elves, or at least not as main characters. But if you would like to prove me wrong, please send me a list and I will gladly read from that list. Main characters in fantasy are often humans, so I have chosen to write a series where the primary charcters are mostly elves. My elves are also more naturalistic and do not possess magic of any kind because magic is another element I think is overdone. Another thing I notice in fantasy is that elves and humans are almost always allies, villains are ugly, and good guys are pretty. This is a really flat and shallow way of deciding who is good and who is not. Also why should someone be all good and all bad? Aren’t we all a combination of good/bad traits? Likewise, we have ugly/beautiful physical characteristics? Good and bad being cut and dry and black and white is for Santa, not literature. I dare anyone to find a character in my novels who is completely evil or good.

One thing I can’t get enough of (and I’m sure you can’t either) are awesome relationship dynamics. Fantasy and Sci-fi have the greatest friendships, romances, and oppositions steeped in hate, respect, honor, betrayal. Characters always seem to be conflicted. Someone who seems to be infatuated by a character may be on the cusp on killing them. Likewise, the villain about to kill his enemy lets him go out of a mutual respect. The greatest relationships in fantasy are by far the friendships. People are willing to go on incredible journies and face amazing peril for one another. Just look at Sam and Frodo in the Lord of the Rings. Their love was evident in the books–and really played up in the movies. Those are the kind of relationships I like to read about and, therefore, write about. If my characters had facebook pages, their relationship status would almost always be “complicated.” Unlikely friendships form, long-lasting friendships end, love is often not obtained.

I hope many of you will agree with me that the fantasy genre needs more strong women. Not another girl defying gender roles. What I want to read about is a world where gender roles don’t exist. How refreshing it would be to read a book where a girl didn’t have to overcome society to be an interesting character. Where a story is not a celebration of men. I get frustrated with the fantasy genre in particular because authors have the abillity to create their own worlds, their own cities, their own rules and yet they typically emulate the societal norms of the midevil era. It is fantasy, you can make up your own rules, and that’s just what I’ve done. I don’t want to have a society where your role is limited on your gender. Women can be soldiers for instance. It makes sense in my world because my humans don’t believe in a God and one of the primary reasons we even have gender issues, even today, is because of the Bible. So eliminate religion, eliminate harsh, overstrict gender roles. I just think it’s refreshing to read a book where gender is not an issue.

When my series is finished I hope they will not only be books I like to read, but books readers will enjoy as well.

Read to Write

Standard

ImageI’ve always been told you have to read to write. Never thought I would start writing because of reading old magazines. Some of these magazines were older than the ones at a doctors office, or the ones we used to use as coasters at the Kokomo Tribune, but within those dust covered, curling pages, I found three free writing contest to enter. So it’s time to stop reading and start writing!

Naturally, I enter writing contest for the chance of winning. The prizes range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. Not to mention the gratifying validation that you’re writing is reader worthy and publishable.

Winning a contest would look great on my writing portfolio. Like a potential employer, a publisher wants to see evidence that you are a good writer and a safe financial risk. This can be proven with published clips and awards. My portfolio isn’t so bad: I’ve published in the Correspondent and the Kokomo Tribune, and I write for Textbroker, but I’m worried some of my writing experience may be getting a little dated. After all, I haven’t won a writing contest since high school.

This year, my sister submitted an entry as well. I told her it was good practice. She thought I meant writing, but I think it’s better practice for getting rejected. After a couple of years of not winning a short-story contest, you go from being depressed to just shrugging your shoulders. It may be a little premature to worry about rejection, considering I haven’t finished one of three books I plan to write, but I think it never hurts to prepare for that first rejection letter. I tell my sister, and I will see that she holds me to it, that I am going to frame every rejection letter I get. I hope I have enough wall space.