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Posts Tagged ‘Reading’

Friday 56

Dust Tracks on a Road

Zora Neale Hurston

Page 55-56

“Having finished that and scanned the Doctor Book, which my mother thought she had hidden securely from my eyes, I read all the things which children write on privy-house walls. Therefore, I lost my taste for pornographic literature. I think that the people who love it got cheated in the matter of privy houses when they were children.”

This is a meme from “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights” blog.

Rules:
*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
(If you have to improvise, that’s ok.)
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don’t spoil it)
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post below in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url.
*It’s that simple.

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Forget Match.com or eHarmony.com. It’s time to create a new website to connect with a compatible mate. Forget those “walks on the beach.” Tell us what magazines you have in your bathroom (or by the bed). This could tell us more than your answers to a personality quiz.

This thought came about at the lunch table with my son and his employee. I mentioned that I tried to cut back on magazine subscriptions, but my mail box is still choked with them: Wired, Writers Digest, Oxford American, Garden & Gun, Prevention, First Line, The Florida Writer and NRA magazine, to name a few.

My son says, “Well, I have Playboy, Maxim and several biking magazines.” His employee named ESPN, some hockey magazine and another cycle magazine. I happen to know my other son reads Wired and NRA magazine because he takes mine. My daughter has her nose buried in one book after the other and I don’t think reads a lot of magazines. Her books run the gamut from action thrillers (her favorite) to literary books.

Reading choices don’t tell you everything. You still can’t know what wonderful fathers my sons are from their reading material, or what a strong, lovable person my daughter is, but you can certainly get an idea of interests they invest their time in.

Perhaps my view is skewered by the past. When I met my husband he worked as a librarian at the Navy base in our town. He read every history book he could get his hands on. In later years he added action thrillers, reading at least two novels a month. OK I do still have a stack of Playboys he saved over the years along with general aviation magazines–all telling something about his personality and experiences.

So, go to your online dating sites, if you must, but when you meet, ask him/her what they read. Of course, if they look twenty years older than their picture and four inches shorter or taller, ask to see the subscriptions.

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I’ve learned a thing or two about choosing books in the three months I’ve owned my Kindle—or it has owned me. Very catlike is this little device. It sleeps as much as you will let it, even as it tugs your thoughts to the page (or pages) it holds for you, waiting—waiting until you give it the equivalent of a scratch behind the ears and bring it to life. One you’ve flipped that little switch Kindle has your undivided attention.  Your whole (new) library lies in your lap. If you are one who reads multiple books at a time, you find you begin to do this on steroids.

There may be good reason for switching from book to book on Kindle, especially if you’ve downloaded a lot of freebies or 99 cent books, and here’s why. You read a few reviews of a book and it sounds pretty good, Pretty good is enough to hit the “one click” button if it’s free. How bad can it be? I’ll admit I haven’t gotten books with a lot of misspellings as others have, but some have broken very basic principals in writing. You have to wonder how they got on Amazon. Yes, this is early e-book era and yes, they are free or cheap, but supposedly an editor or critique group at the very least has read them before they made it this far. The sad thing is that some have good stories and characters and I might have really enjoyed them had not POV ping ponged back and forth so freely that I didn’t know who was thinking what. Then there were fairly prominent characters flimsily developed.

Several of these experiences have been with Christian lit. Now you don’t know they are Christian lit until you get into them in most cases. I am a Christian and the characters’ actions seemed natural to me even as they stood out because I rarely see characters in mainstream literature doing or thinking as these do. “Invisible” by Lorena McCourtney falls in this category. I thoroughly enjoyed her self-appointed senior investigator Ivy Malone. She was endearing and daring, a real fun read. I will not name the book I forced myself to finish (the POV gone wild book) because I am hoping for better ones from this author. Her plot was interesting, as were most of the characters.

Even as I read the last word of my favorite blind download I was asking, “Was this Christian lit?” and perhaps that’s the best compliment of all. I suspect the title, “The Dirty Parts of the Bible” will attract a wide, curious audience: They won’t be disappointed in this humorous novel set during the Great Depression. The humor wanes a bit during the odyssey Tobias is forced to take in desperate times. He is son of a fundamentalist preacher who questions all he has been taught and gains insight from the unlikeliest of characters. Sam Torode has written an unforgettable novel I suspect will do well.

You can’t go wrong with the (free) classics. This was my chance to re-read “The Secret Garden,” last heard when my second grade teacher read it to the class. I have since learned that every child in Texas apparently had this novel read to them in school. I was just as engrossed today as I was then, and probably learned the lessons the author intended even better. There is also Poe, Twain, London and so many favorites there for the taking.

I’ve even downloaded something called “Anywhere Abs,” which gently prods me to exercise my abs on the road or anywhere. Of course, I have to open it up, get on the floor and sweat.

For reference I have a dictionary, familiar quotations, the Bible, and Kindle Users Guide and Shortcuts—so far.

Kindle is changing the way I entertain myself. When the daily TV schedule shows few or no shows I enjoy, instead of disappointment I see a chance to open that new download or continue with one I am reading. In waiting rooms I open one of several books with short pieces, like “Stupid American History.” The rest of the time my Kindle sits there in its little red cover purring like a kitten—or is that me?

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I advance my calendar every day, but none is so satisfying as when we go from December 31st to January 1st. I swing that magnetic ball on a string slowly back to the beginning – January, and place the other ball on “1.”  It begins its 365 day trek all over again.

I gave away the operating method of the calendar above, I’m sure, but you would be surprised how many look at it and ask, “How does it operate?” In a technological world this calendar is the lowest of low tech. Perhaps its futuristic design tricks you into believing there must be some mysterious way it moves through the year. No. Just me.

At this lame attempt at a New Year’s blog, I’ll add one story that always comes to mind this time each year. “Dick & Jane” readers were how I learned to read many years ago. The only story I remember was about a character named Nancy. She was one of the gang in her neighborhood and I was as upset as her friends when Nancy announced she was moving. The friends were upset to see her go and threw a beautiful going away party for her. The following day the moving truck backs up to Nancy’s house and loads everything as her friends watch with sad faces. Then it drives two doors down on the same block and carries it all into her new home.

I’ll never forget the feeling of relief, though I realized Nancy had taken advantage of her friends a little. Everyone had enjoyed a wonderful party and good wishes among friends, the move had come and gone, and nothing important was going to change all that much—kind of like the new year. Have a happy one and visit me often in the same old neighborhood.

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I’m beginning to feel I am frittering (or twittering) my life away and missing the real parts, like this blog. Yes, real! This page is my anchor and never far from my heart, but don’t we all slight the important things and people sometimes? Recently I’ve been taking part in actual physical interaction with three-dimensional human beings, yet feeling the guilt of slighting the also-real connections here at my fingertips. You know what I mean. I know you do. You are the ones who don’t dismiss the crazy thoughts that pop into my head during the day. You have them too. You don’t blow me off as the crazy lady with the cats. We are all digging for those special thoughts and being patient with each other as we try the lesser ones on for size.

We are American Idol without Simon Cowell. We deal not in music, but words and we all hold them dear and respect each others’ forays into new arrangements that bring out our spirits. I suspect you feel this way or you wouldn’t be here. And I hope you’ll keep coming because I may not have been writing a lot here lately, but I’m filling a notebook with fragments. Some have promise, some belong in the trash, others are lost to my illegible hand. Somewhere in there, though, I hope is a thought worthy of expansion and worthy of your time. Thanks for hanging in there and sharing your thoughts with me. Even in the winter funk many of you are tickling my funny bone and touching my heart. This is a good, real place to be. Don’t let anyone tell you different.

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Let’s put two myths to bed right off.

  • Writers are loners. Sure we work alone because writing is a one-person job unless you are part of a writing team for TV, but “loners” does not describe us. At the Florida Writers Association (www.floridawriters.net)annual conference in Lake Mary, Florida last weekend most attendees did indeed come alone it seemed, but there was a reason, if we can trust my limited “survey.” Those I spoke with did so for the same reason I did. Okay, we don’t have any friends, but besides that, the purpose was to meet as many other writers as possible in a short time. The best way to do that was not to pair up with someone you knew. And it worked. I met so many kindred souls my head is spinning. I’ll touch on a few in a minute.
  • Conference or banquet food is old TV dinners from the days of Sid Caesar and Howdy Doody, scraped from the tin trays and plopped before you, probably cold. You people have obviously never attended a conference at the Marriott in Lake Mary. I heard a perfect description of the creative breakfasts, lunches, breaks and dinners served us: “I feel like I’m on a cruise ship.” That sums it up. Of course, we will all need to work off the extra pounds as we do after a cruise, too. If you need further convincing, how about this? During the conference there was only one standing ovation—it was for the chef.

This was my first time attending a major conference, so I paid for one day (the second) in case it was not beneficial. I came back for the final day and wished I had attended the first, too. (Note to self for next year.)

The first workshop attended was for those farther along and ready to publish and promote, but things picked up when I heard young fantasy writer M.B. Weston, author of Elysian Chronicles . Her presentation on plot and structure was spirited and aimed right at my sore spot, conflict avoidance. She has a hard time doing bad things to her protagonist, too, but had tricks to help. Thank you. Thank you.

The first workshop after lunch was Crafting Commercial Memoir and presented by Brandi Bowles, an agent with Morhaim Literary Agency (www.morhaimliterary.com) whose job it is to buy memoirs. You can’t get advice more straight from the mouth than that. We left there seeing we had to target our audience and basically begin promotion of our book before we even write it. It’s a commercial world out there, kids. Techniques for stringing individual stories together with a narrative thread are the most challenging for me. Ms Bowles gave us several ways to accomplish that goal. Now the work begins.

After a hearty lunch, my next workshop was with Margie Lawson, psychologist, writer, international presenter (http://margielawson.com/, who spoke on Writing Body Language and Dialogue Cues Like a Psychologist. I have no doubt everyone in that workshop will soon be pouring over every work they have written to measure effectiveness against Margie Lawson’s criteria.

In the final workshop Sunday, James O. Born, author of five police thrillers, the latest “Escape Clause” (http://jamesoborn.com/titled his workshop Realism & What Drives Readers Crazy. He also writes science fiction under the pseudonym James O’Neal. Born, a DEA agent in “real life,” pulled one weapon after another from his duffle bag and kept us laughing while learning. Think: Carrot Top’s trunk with lethal weapons. No one got handcuffed (luckily) because he forgot the keys, but he turned my weapon against me when I asked advice on the police style (Surefire) defensive flashlight I carry.

This post has gone on long enough. I’ll be back to introduce you to some of the amazing writers I met and the visual treat we all had from the party next door, an Indian engagement party.

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Three very disparate authors came together tonight at Lake Mary Historical Museum for Authors’ Roundtable. Their only connection was geography. All live in this area, or come from here.

Judge Fredric Hitt’s account of how he came to write a historical fiction trilogy about Florida’s Timucua Indians was fascinating in itself. He seemed destined to research and write about the vanished tribe. Just enough titillation that I must start the first novel was the replica carved owl statue he brought. Others, much larger have been found in the St. John’s River. No one could tell him why the tribes would take such pains to carve the beauties only to throw them away. Judge Hitt promises me that I might just have an idea after reading his book. Now that’s a hook. All you writers out there, take note.

The second author, Robin Lippincott, read from his short novel, “In the Meantime.” Three characters, best friends, let the reader know them through brief glimpses of the lives over a long period of time. Later when I asked for his website, the writer told me he doesn’t have one, is not good at self-promotion. How many writers have I heard this from? But how many teach in the MFA program at Harvard University? Robin Lippincott has published three novels and a collection of short stories. I’ll be cruising Amazon shortly.

When you hear a book described as a romantic thriller with a historical backdrop, you think romance genre. When you see the adorable, perky author with her fantastic, large brimmed hat, you are sure. Ah, but you would be wrong. Dorothy Dubel has chronicled her mother, grandmother and great grandmother’s lives beginning in a Polish death camp during WWII. If you got the impression the novel would be dreary, my guess is you would be wrong. Dorothy Dubel seems far too upbeat not to see the joy, and dare I say it, romance in such lives. From a writer’s prospective, a most amazing point was that she “self published” because after having cancer three times, she didn’t want to wait for a publisher. Her confidence in her ability is apparently well placed. Dorothy Dubel has sold over 50,000 copies of “Escaping Danger.”

If anyone is interested in finding any of these books, just ask and I’ll relay more information. I know, I know, you are all reading Dan Brown’s latest right now, but when you are finished . . .

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