One Writer’s Journey

June 27, 2019

Library Use

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 3:00 am
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In the last day or so, I saw a really interesting piece on library usage.  Of course, now that I want to quote it, I can’t find it.  But the point was that usage is up again because libraries serve their communities in so many ways.  Not only can people check out books, magazines and movies, they can check out recorded music, musical instruments, telescopes, games and puzzles.

Last night, I got together with my book club.  We talked about the dangers of misplacing library books.

This is a huge problem here in Casa Edwards.  We own a ridiculous number of books, movies and games.  Set a library book down on an end table or shelf and it will soon be in the midst of our own materials.  Some sort of herd instinct kicks in and our media encircles the library media in an attempt to keep it safe.

We also check out a ridiculous number of library materials.  At this particular moment, we have 45 items checked out.  I have a huge number of picture books.  There are the books for my latest Abdo project.  A movie.  Several audio books.  Some how-tos.  Graphic novels.  And several adult novels.

How do I keep track of all of this?  Here in my office, I have a library shelf.  It is the bottom shelf in the photo above.  The over flow (audiobooks) are on the box on the upper shelf.  And, yes that fluffy white thing above Baby Groot and the okapi is a duster. At any given point, I am generally reading a print book and an audio book.  Sometimes during the work day I grab a stack of picture books and sit down to read.

What are you currently reading?  I am reading The Invited by Jennifer McMahon and listening to Triple Jeopardy by Anne Perry.

–SueBE

April 15, 2019

Read, Read, Read with Recommendations from Stephen King

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:36 am
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The stand

My favorite Stephen King novel.

If you are a writer, you need to be a reader.  Really, it is that simple. It is one of the best ways to learn how to write well.  You can study pacing, characterization, dialogue and more by reading.

By reading what you write, you know what is being published now.  You know what has been published.  And, again, you learn the techniques of your genre.

But you should also read things you don’t write.  Mysteries can teach you how to create suspicion surrounding a specific character.  Science fiction can help you learn how to incorporate science into your writing without your story becoming a physics lesson.  Fantasy is a lesson in world building.  Horror?  It is all about using suspense and setting the right tone.

Frankly, I’m always a little suspicious of writers who aren’t also readers. Or who read and then pan everyone else as if they write simply to show everyone else how it should be done.

When I find a recommended reading list from a top-notch author, I take notice.  So when I saw this post, “Stephen King Recommends,” on Off the Shelf, I clicked through and then started requesting books from the library.

I’m not big on gore but I love a book that can keep me on the edge of my seat.  Creepy, atmospheric horror makes me want to write fiction. And King is so enthusiastic about the books he recommends.  The best. A revelation. Brilliant.

Which books did I request?  Quiet Dell by Jane Anne Phillips. Case Histories by Kate Atkinson. Darktown by Thomas Mullen. Y: The Last Man by Brian Vaughan.  I’ll be reading some of them in print and listening to some as audiobooks.  I’m hoping I didn’t pick anything super creepy as an audiobook. That was a big mistake with Odd Thomas especially since I was home alone and I’m a night owl.

If any of you have read any of these books, I’d be interested in your take on them.

–SueBE

August 9, 2018

Book Challenge: 7 Books I Love

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 12:46 am
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On Facebook, a number of my friends have been taking part in a challenge to post the covers of seven books that they love.  No explanation.  No reasons given.  So I’ve been noodling over what books I would choose today.  I say today because when I was 25, the list would have been different.  In another five years?  Different still.  But today, these are my seven books.

The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner

What books would you include?

–SueBE

 

July 20, 2017

What Are You Reading?

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:07 am
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What books are you currently reading?  Do you have a stack of books on your bedside table?  Beside your favorite chair?  My dresser looks like a library dumping ground and this is the shelf of items currently checked out from the library. The two books on top of the Star Wars box are both adult fiction but all of the rest are children’s books.

The shelf has had a lot picture book on it lately.  Some of them are predictions for the Caldecott.  Some just caught my eye.  In truth, I’ve been focusing on reading picture books because I’ve been insanely busy and haven’t had time to read much else.

At the moment I’m reading three books.  Sioux Code Talkers by Andrea M. Page.  Ironically, since I just wrote about the DAPL, Page is a member of the Standing Rock Sioux, the reservation near which the pipeline crossed the Missouri River, putting their drinking water at risk.

I’m also reading The Photo Ark, a National Geographic book by photographer Joel Sartore.  Because of this one, I might move forward with a project I’ve been noodling over for something like 15 years.

Last but not least, I’m listening to the audio book of Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann.  That’s an adult nonfiction title about a series of murders of prominent Osage in the 1920s.  The subtitle of the book also indicates that it is about the formation of the FBI.  I don’t know yet if the case helped shape the FBI or if it was simply a matter of a case taking place at the same time as the shaping of the Bureau.

History and social science.  Animals.  Nonfiction.  Those things feature prominently in my reading pile.

So what are you reading?  It doesn’t have to be exactly what you are writing.  For example, I don’t read middle grade fantasy when I’m writing middle grade fantasy.  The voice is too often distracting.  But I can read picture books when I write picture books.

Take a minute and let the rest of us know what you are reading.  Maybe you’ll help us all find a new literary treasure.

–SueBE

December 27, 2016

Naughty or Nice?

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:27 am
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books-1605416_1920Well, which list were you on this year?  Santa’s Naughty List or Santa’s Nice List?  I must have done okay because I got an Amazon gift card.  Now I just have to decide how to spend it.

My husband and I are deep into the Harry Dresden books so that’s one option.

I’m also getting ready to reread Kathy Reich’s Temperence Brennan novels and I know I’m missing one or two of those.

I could go through my call slips from the library.  When I request books, if I like something a lot, I make a notation on the pull slip to remind myself to buy the book.  Of course, I also do this to remind myself to request the next book in a series or to rerequest a book I didn’t have time to read.  This means that I have a stack of pull slips but that doesn’t mean that any of them are the “go buy this” variety.

Honestly, spending a book store gift card is brutal business.  You’ll note, Amazon sells everything but I consider this what?  A book store gift card.  Spending a gift card is never an easy thing for me.  I come up with ideas and consider each one.  Getting one thing means not getting something else.  Then I have to think some more.  Finally I go a bit nuts and just make myself do it.

I’ve even perused the Amazon bestseller lists. This is seldom a smart choice for me.  Every now and again I find something that reminds me — hey, I wanted that book.  But I’m seldom a best seller kind of girl.

Suffice it to say that I have not made up my mind.  Suggestions?  Hints?  Gentle nudges?

–SueBE

November 8, 2016

Picking a Publisher: Don’t Forget to Examine Books

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:59 am
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books-1605416_1920The other night I sat on one end of the sofa with a pile of picture books from the library.  I needed to find a book for my review blog, Bookshelf.

I read a few pages in a picture book about how cars work.  When I got to the spread on the internal combustion engine, I read it and then read it again.  Something felt off.  I showed it to my husband who has rebuilt and installed an engine, replaced numerous gaskets, and more.  The author hadn’t communicated clearly how the firing in the pistons powers the car.

I sat that book aside.

The next one was a science book that I had been looking forward to reading for some time.  Early in the book I came across a non-linear timeline.  I can deal with non-linear but this cluttered up the spread and created a super-dense, almost unreadable graphic.  It was just too much information.  On another spread, the illustration ran into the gutter with an important element lost way down in the crease.  Add to this paper that was so thin that you could view adjoining spreads through what you were trying to read.  This book also went back into the library bag.

As you study the publishers that you might approach, be sure to check out actual copies of their books.  You don’t want to get your own author’s copies only to be disappointed.  Things that I look at include:

Paper.  It doesn’t need to look like a posh wedding invitation but I don’t want to see through it.  Or see lots of inclusions or whatever you call flakes of whatever.

Book design.  I want a font that is easy to read, graphics that stay out of the gutters, and enough white space to keep me from feeling overwhelmed.

Font.  Yes, I discussed this above and I’m mentioning it again.  Some fonts are easy to scan — Times New Roman is one of them.  Others make reading a lot of work.  I want my reader to focus on the story, not struggling to read the font.

Illustrations.  This is another big one for me.  They need to be big enough to be clear.  But if they are using a pixilated image, it has to be some enough that I’m not looking at dots.  No dots.

I have to admit that Schoolwise and Abdo have both spoiled me with top-notch book design.  But isn’t that what you deserve?  Find a publisher that will spoil you, then submit your work.

–SueBE

August 8, 2016

Book Buys: Boy Books vs Girl Books

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 2:43 am
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booksIn our household, we seem to go on buying splurges.  While we buy groceries every week as well as toiletries, other items including yarn, picture frames and books seem to be bought only every now and again but in bulk.  The photo here shows, not only my skirts and feet, but also our most recent book purchases.

Can you guess which ones are boy books (husband and son) vs the girl books (mine)?  It might not be as easy as you think.  To help you out, I’ll list them here:

  • Sue Bradford Edwards’ Black Lives Matter 
  • Four books in Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden series.
  • A Christian Cathedrals stained glass coloring book.
  • A sugar skull coloring book.
  • Fiasco, a book for a role-playing game.
  • Two D&D modules, The Rise of Tiamat and Hoard of the Dragon Queen
  • Christ Beside Me, Christ Within Me, a book of Celtic prayer by Beth Richardson.

So which ones are mine?  Obviously, I wrote the one so that’s a no brainer.  And if you’ve ID’ed coloring as more of a girl thing than I boy thing – I’m not sure about that but that’s the way it is here.

Actually, they’re all mine except for the gaming books.  I used to play D&D and my son has all of my books but he’s expanding our library.

And the Harry Dresden books are mine too.  Yes, my husband is reading them and he’s even a book ahead of me in the series, but I discovered the series first.

A lot is written about what girls read vs what boys read and girl books vs boy books.  The point that I’m hoping that this post makes is that a single reader’s interests can be very broad.  Don’t try to define what books they will read or will want to read based on their gender.  Reader interests are a lot more complicated than that.

–SueBE

 

December 12, 2014

What is a book?

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:53 am
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As you do your holiday shopping, I hope that you are buying a few books or book related items.  Book related items?  Book ends, book lights or screen cleaners.  Yes, screen cleaners.

Look — I’m way old school.  I don’t have a reader.  I don’t even have an I-phone and if I did have an I-phone I wouldn’t want to read on it.  What can I say that I haven’t said before — I’m old school.  I like paper books but not all paper books.  I’m not a huge graphic novel fan.  Some I love but generally I’m indifferent.

That said, if I’m buying for Christmas I need to consider the recipient of my gift.  One of my neices wants eb0oks.  Period.  Her sister wants print.  No questions and no deals.  Print.

If I want to be a well-received gift giver, I need to think about the person who will be opening this in anticipation.

No matter what form your gifts take, I hope you’re buying some books this year.  My gift to you — a humorous vidoe about books…

–SueBE

May 8, 2013

Too Many Books

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:01 am
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Books“I have too many books.”

That was the claim my father recently made before we showed up at his house to help him shuffle some things around.  Tell a writer that you have too many books, and she’s going to come over ready to shift and dust and move some serious literature.

I looked around the living room.  One floor to ceiling bookcase and one bookcase about waist high.  “Where are the rest of them?”

It turns out, there was no rest of them.  Okay, a bag waiting for shelf space to be found.  One more bag?  Seriously?  I give away more books than that every year.

Simply put, I was unimpressed.  The picture to the left?  That’s about 2 board-feet of the books in this house.  We probably have 175 to 200 board-feet of shelf space full of books and 6 cases of books waiting for the new installation.

Is this a trait peculiar to writers?  I’m beginning to wonder…

–SueBE

September 12, 2012

Bio Optical Organized Knowledge device…

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:39 am
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Last week when I had jury duty, I spent a certain amount of time looking around the room to see who was reading what.  I saw a Kindle and a Nook — about 5 tablet type devices in all.  That said, about 75% of the would-be jurists were reading.  In addition to the tablets, some had magazines but the vast majority had some kind of Bio Optical Organized Knowledge devices.

 

And I really did pay attention to how many people had tablets vs print material.  Why?  Because we’re always being told that tablets etc are the rage.  Print books are a thing of the past.  They are on their way out.  Yet I sat in a fair cross section of society and that isn’t what I observed.   Just something I’m noodling about.

–SueBE

 

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