Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Something I learned while reading a lot of reviews for the same book

Sometimes people don't like your book because
  • they don't get it
  • they get it, but they don't want to (bad mood)
  • your characters are too realistic
  • they don't understand why your characters are stylized
  • they missed your point
  • you killed a character they liked (and they will never ever forgive you)
  • they're immature (they think "the only people who would like this book are 12-year-old girls" is actually some sort of serious review/response)
  • your characters remind them of people they know (and dislike)
  • they've never met anyone like your characters and think such people don't exist
  • your book causes them to make conclusions they don't like
  • they may not have read the same book (seriously, sometimes I wonder about this)
  • they have issues (and are trying to make their issues your issues)
  • your book challenges them to think in ways that make them uncomfortable
Any to add?

Zevin on what can help make a good writer

Oh, John Scalzi's blog, where you can hear writers talk about writing and their books from all sorts of angles.  I read Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin when I got the amazing chance to help a professor prep for a class.  The world was odd, and the characters were sympathetic even when they were making really bad choices.  There were lots of important issues pondered sideways.  It was great.  So when Mr. Scalzi's blog had a post from her in his Big Idea segment, I knew it would be great, too.  It was.  She wrote:
"And you ought to read some current events every now and again. And you ought to read books that aren’t necessarily the kind of things you like. (Because it turns out that literature occasionally aspires to a goal other than to make you like it.) And, if you really, really want to write a book, you’ll probably need to discover an aptitude for being alone and you might even have to get off the Internet a couple of hours a day. FACT: Books take slightly longer than tweets to write." 
"I have to love a concept enough to want to write it, but love is not enough. The fear is what keeps me engaged at two in the morning."

Check out the whole post and maybe even her wild new book set in a world you have to read about to believe . . .

Where do your rights end?

"No one has the right to live without being shocked. 
No one has the right to spend their life without being offended. 
Nobody has to read this book. 
Nobody has to pick it up. 
Nobody has to open it. 
And if you open it and read it, you don't have to like it. 
And if you read it and you dislike it, you don't have to remain silent about it. 
You can write to me,
you can complain about it,
you can write to the publisher,
you can write to the papers,
you can write your own book. 
You can do all those things, but there your rights stop. 
No one has the right to stop it being published, or bought, or sold or read."  
- Philip Pullman

 Your thoughts?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Reading Miles again - ah, youth, edition

My friend who started reading Miles at the end of last year and I were talking about one of Miles' disasters. 

"Aral would have done it better," my friend said. 

Well, of course.  Aral at 44+ would have done it much differently.  Heck, Miles at 44 would have done it differently (and I hope to someday read the book about it).  But Miles is not Aral, and he's in his twenties, and he takes after his mother, really.  So it makes sense.

Oh, Miles.

Book Binge of President's Day Weekend results

Ahhh.  I had to do too many other grown up things for this to be a real book binge, but I did spend significant chunks of time chasing the sunlight across my floor while reading.  I cleared off a shelf of to-reads.  It was nice.  My hands have been a wreck all week, but consequences are unavoidable.  I suppose retirement is when you don't have any more grown up things on your to do list that keep stealing your time away from reading . . .

  • Black Jack 1-3 by Osamu Tezuka: A-ma-zing.  I am slowly collecting this series, but I hadn't started reading it, frankly, because I was afraid it would gross me out.  I read Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, but I guess I worried about medical grossiosity.  Unnecessary.  Thank goodness for cartoony art style.  I have now realized why they say Tezuka is a master.  This short form has so many restrictions, and it doesn't matter at all.  Wow.
  • Bride's Story 1-2 by Kaoru Mori: So. Beautiful.  Life in central Asia in the 19th century.  So much attention to detail that it will blow your mind.  This could not have worked as well as a simple novel.  Oddly, it reminded me a bit of Suzanne Fisher Staples' Shabanu and Haveli.  It felt like that kind of immersion in another culture, but, unlike Staples' work, which often reads like a worst case scenario handbook, Mori's is mostly about the positive, daily joys and chores of life.
  • The Cage of Zeus by Sayuri Ueda: A bit ham-handed at first, but it still manages to provoke thought.
  • The Crown Conspiracy by Michael J. Sullivan: Good fun that reminds me a bit of some of David Eddings character-centric fantasy works where everybody kind of slowly grow on you, and you hope they don't all die in the end.
  • Itazura no Kiss 1: I don't know why I like this story; it starts out ridiculous, and I would hate the main character in real life.  What can I say?  I'm hooked and sad that the author died before completing the story.  There are a lot of volumes to read before the story ends, though, and I'm looking forward to it.
  • Kekkaishi 30:  Oh, adrenalin and politics.
  • Library Wars 7:  Libraries, freedom, politics.  Loving it.
  • MW by Osamu Tezuka:  I was warned that this was dark.  So bleak. 
  • Natsume's Book of Friends 11:  Sad times.  Seeing a character's painful childhood painted in the colors of wistful.
  • Strawberry Marshmallow 4: Silly and ridiculous, goofy and fun.
  • Twin Spica 9-11:  Good thing I was on the bike when the incident of Sudden Unexpected Character Death occurred because I would have fallen off the stair climber.  Not allowed at the end of a volume!  It really SUCD!  Thank goodness the next volume was waiting for me at home on the other side of 8 hours, or this might have been a fatal blow for me.
  • Two Flowers for the Dragon 1-6: One unpublished volume would finish out the series.  I really don't know who she'll choose, but this was a pretty amazing and fun ride anyway.  And it's the only manga I've ever read where the author points out that polyamory would solve the love triangle problems.
Made progress in
So much more to read . . .

    Saturday, February 18, 2012

    Book binge-ing for fun (not profit)

    Ah, priorities.  Lately, my priority has been adjusting my sleep schedule in yet another vain attempt to wrest my life back from chronic pain and resulting sleeplessness.  When I decided to commit to this experiment wholeheartedly, it meant that I had to let everything else go.  No more excuses, just getting this habit established and seeing if it helps things.  And so, since I have Monday off (hooray for random, real paid holidays), I am taking an extra day to book binge and make progress in the things I'm reading and want to read and do but have been sacrificing to the cause of establishing a new sleep pattern.  (The rest of the weekend will be for books and other, non-book-related things like taxes, research, writing reports, learning software, and sorting through OWCP files, a saga, even if not actually a book.) 

    And chasing the sun across my floor.  Book binge-ing and basking in the sun (even if only a tiny part of me is getting shined on): it's a good day not to have energy for anything else.  I'll report soon on my book progress.  Just as soon as the sun sets . . . : )

    Tuesday, February 7, 2012

    a found poem - for writers who like definitions

    To put it another way,

    when a competent writer
    tells you a story, you know
    what happened.

    When a good writer 
    tells you a story, 
    you feel it 
    happen to you.

    When a great writer
    tells you a story, you feel
    your life change
    because of it.

    But let’s not worry
    about that one now.)