30 November 2007

November 2007 Bibliometer

Since there's no way Word Nerd's going to finish any of the books she's reading today, it's safe to post the monthly stats.

For November:
8 books
2,742 pages
91 pages/day

89 books
30,142 pages
average book length = 339 pages

Interestingly, the November 2007 total pages is only 22 pages fewer than 2006's total.

29 November 2007

Book Banter -- Twilight

Title: Twilight
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Length: 492 pages
Genre: paranormal YA
Plot Basics: When her mom gets remarried to a minor league ballplayer who travels alot, Bella Swan decides to move from sunny Phoenix to rainy Forks, Washington to live with her police chief father. Bella worries that she won't fit in at her new small high school, but as the new girl, she attracts plenty of attention. Including that of her biology lab partner mysterious, aloof Edward Cullen. Bella is determined to find out Edward's secret and why he strangely avoids her. And the truth she learns is that she is very appealing to her vampire lab partner...
Banter Points: Meyer's books (there are three in this series now) have been huge sellers among teen readers. Word Nerd first stumbled on them when the third one released and Barnes and Noble made a big end-cap display, and well, YA vampire books selling that well... Word Nerd had to find out why.
In Twilight, the book is compelling as Bella and Edward sort out this rather Romeo-and-Juliet-ish secret love. There's action plot that comes late in the book, but Meyer deftly keeps readers interested as she (through Bella) lets readers discover her world of vampires.
Bummer Points: This is still another book about a somewhat ill-fated romance between a human and vampire. In the post-Buffy/Angel wake, these stories are becoming somewhat commonplace and losing some of their intrigue.
Word Nerd Recommendation: She put book #2 (New Moon) on hold because she wants to know what happens next.

27 November 2007

Another Intersection

Some thoughts about writing and editing today from Word Nerd's alter ego.

Editing and the Word Wall.

26 November 2007

Book Banter -- Fool Moon

Title: Fool Moon
Author: Jim Butcher
Length: 392 pages
Genre: Paranormal Fantasy
Plot Basics: Harry Dresden gets another call to consult for the Chicago PD in a crime of the weird. Arriving on scene, he discovers a mangled corpse and evidence that a werewolf of some sort is behind the killing. Turns out, Lt. Karrin Murphy of the Chicago PD tells him, it's not the first gruesome killing of its kind and she asks Dresden for his help. Werewolves, Dresden learns, come in several varieties and as he unravels the case, he learns he's got more than one kind on his hands. Besting them all will take a ton of magic and all of Harry's cunning.
Banter Points: Dresden is his usual wise-cracking, cynical self. The plot is taut and exciting and it's interesting to see how Dresden has to improvise at the end to keep himself and others alive.
Bummer Points: It's only book two, but Word Nerd gets the feeling that these books are pretty formulaic. Not that the formula is so bad, she just wonders if they will continue to stay interesting through the number of them that Butcher has written.
Word Nerd Recommendation: A good read that doesn't tax your brain overmuch. If you are a looking for something to cut through holiday schmaltz, this could be it.

20 November 2007

Book Banter -- The Grey King

Title: The Grey King (the Dark is Rising sequence book 4)
Author: Susan Cooper
Length: ~160 pages
Genre: Juvenile Fantasy
Plot Basics: After a bad case of the mumps, Will Stanton is sent to his relatives in Wales to recover. Will knows that there's something important that he's forgetting from before he was sick, but the illness has driven whatever it was from his mind. As he explores the countryside, he encounters a strange white dog and an equally strange boy, Bran Davies, who together trigger his memory and aid him in his quest as an Old One to find another object that will aid in the Light in the struggle against the rising Dark.
Banter Points: Another great book from Susan Cooper. This one won the Newberry Award and it's easy to see why. The plot is tight and compelling, the descriptions vivid and powerful. Will is a very neat character and it was nice to see him interacting with someone other than Merriman or the Drew children.
Bummer Points: It was pretty short. Word Nerd got caught up in this landscape Cooper painted and would have been more than willing to stay there for another 100 pages.
Word Nerd Recommendation: As she's said before, this series is worth reading, even if you are a grown-up.

12 November 2007

When real life interferes

Word Nerd's got another blog going about her current real life adventures, in addition to the occasional posts here too about writing.

But today's post was enough about writing that she thought she should at least post a link here.

So, here it is.

A link.

09 November 2007

Excited for a library

Word Nerd's a fan of libraries. Makes sense, given her avid reader status.

Here in the big city, the main, downtown branch of the library has been undergoing renovations. Big ones. Adding on to the building, shut down for at least a year kind of renovations.

It now will reopen in 30 days and Word Nerd can't wait.


First, there is a the practical side. The downtown one is closer to her apartment than where she's currently trekking off to one of the more suburban branches. Closer by many, many, blocks and literally, just down a block from her office. Guess where she'll be spending her lunch hours...

Second, this new library building is huge. Huge means room for books. Lots of books.

Word Nerd's a fan already and she hasn't even been inside.

08 November 2007

Book Banter -- The Mark

Title: The Mark
Author: Jason Pinter
Length: 367 pages
Genre: mystery/thriller
Plot Basics: Henry Parker only wants one thing in life – to be a respected journalist in New York City. When he lands a job shortly out of college at the New York Gazette, he thinks he’s got it made… until his editor keeps him writing obituaries and fluffy features stories. He finally gets a chance to help veteran reporter Jack O’Donnell on a big story, interviewing a former convict. But after the interview, something doesn’t sit right with Parker about what he heard. He goes back to the con’s apartment and end up running from the NYPD and running for his life.
Banter Points: Pretty good chase novel, with Parker constantly working to stay one step ahead of the cops. Likely since Pinter himself is in his late 20s, Parker’s voice as a mid-20-something rang true.
Bummer Points: A couple of these, unfortunately. First, it’s a pet peeve for Word Nerd – she really doesn’t like switches in POV in the story. The subplot about the hitman was OK, but in her view, the subplot with the policemen didn’t add anything. There would have been other ways around that at the end when the reader needed to know some things about them. Second, Parker sounds like a 24-year-old, but not a reporter. Word Nerd has unbelievably high standards for how reporters should act in a novel (since she was one for a while.) Parker and his newsroom fail on most accounts there. If Parker was such a promising reporter, he wouldn’t have been stuck writing nothing but obits. When Word Nerd was an intern at a major daily, she covered everything from features to international news and wrote no obits. Third, this is the first book in a series. One of Pinters 2007 Killer Year colleagues, Marcus Sakey, said something at an appearance that some characters go through too much hell for there to be a sequel. Word Nerd would put Henry Parker in that category.
Word Nerd recommendation: It’s a good page-turner, airplane book. If you like thrillers, it’s worth the read, but if this genre isn’t your thing, this isn’t a good book to try to break in with.

07 November 2007

The Switch

Word Nerd doesn’t have an official November writing goal yet, but at least she’s put words on paper again this month.

And on the computer.

Yes. It was time to make the switch from hand-writing the current work-in-progress to the computer. Blame it, if you will, on the move to the big city. Things here take more time because they are farther away to get to. Like, say, the library, which until the new downtown Central Library reopens, means traveling some 30 blocks away which takes a good 15 minutes to go. This is an unfortunately far longer distance than when Word Nerd lived, literally, three doors up the street from the Oshkosh library.

The writing by hand was taking to long to get done in the midst of other things that take to long to get done. So, even before finishing the last notebook she was working in, Word Nerd made the switch.

When she was working on the last WIP, the goal was 1,000 words a day. That seems like a lot, presently, so Word Nerd’s shooting for about 500. If it’s anywhere from about 450 words up, that’s fine. The rest of November is a crazy month so Word Nerd’s not sure about what the goal for the rest of the month should be.

Missing October’s goal was tough and she doesn’t want to do that again. Maybe the goal will just be to get as far as possible.

06 November 2007

Book Banter -- The Yiddish Policemen's Union

Title: The Yiddish Policemen’s Union
Author: Michael Chabon
Length: 411 pages
Genre: literary fiction
Plot Basics: In an alternate history of 1948, the Jewish people are given part of Alaska to settle in for 60 years. Now, on the eve of the land reverting to the United States, Sitka police detective Meyer Landsman takes it as a personal affront when a chess-playing man is murderer in the building he’s living in. Though the Sitka police is ordered to try to close out all its unsolved cases, Landsman can’t let this one go. His investigation brings up the demons of his past and shakes several Jewish notions of Messiah and the promise the people will one day reclaim the Holy Land.
Banter Points: Chabon’s description of the Alaskan environment is spectacular, using vivid words in unexpected combinations.
Bummer Points: After reading Chabon’s other masterpieces (Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay and Wonder Boys), Word Nerd had high hopes for this book. It, simply put, did not live up to them. The book plodded along, mired in moroseness and the gray Alaskan cold. Only in the last 100 pages did the book start to get interesting.
Word Nerd Recommendation: Skip it, unless you are a die-hard Chabon fan.

05 November 2007

October Bibliometer

Surprisingly, October turned out to be a rather bumper month for reading.

Word Nerd is a bit surprised by this, seeing as how October was also the month for her to relocate more than 400 miles to a new city and new job.

Granted, the October bibliometer reading is inflated for a couple reasons.
One of the counted titles was really an audiobook and half of another one was. While packing, Word Nerd listened to “Over Sea, Under Stone” and half of “The Dark is Rising.”
Word Nerd finished “The Dark is Rising” in print and counted the whole book in the page count. Also in the count is the 147 pages of the third book in this wonderful children’s fantasy series.
Word Nerd was also reading Yasuhiro Nightow’s Trigun graphic novels. The first two volumes were more than 300 pages each, but that includes all the pages of pictures as well as the words.

The official stats:

13 books
3366 pages
108 pages per day average

81 books
27,400 pages
Average book length: 338 pages

01 November 2007

Back to the writing

If you’ve been paying any attention to the page count meter over --> there to the right, you will notice that it hasn’t moved up in days. DAYS.

Word Nerd missed her October writing goal, something she hasn’t missed since, oh, March, when she was laid up recuperating from an emergency appendectomy.

What happened, you ask?

Easy. Word Nerd moved. And without a real, pressing deadline and boxes to pack and then unpack, putting words on paper daily was put on hold. She set her October page goal low – only 20 pages – to try to make it more feasible to meet it. But, alas, no such luck.

Why was writing so hard? Well, it’s hard to pump big emotions (betrayal, jealousy, loyalty, self-sacrifice, etc.) into a story when the writer is going through a pretty big upheaval in her own life. Moving 400 miles to a new town, starting a new job is a big deal. In the evenings after her first week at the new job, Word Nerd was just still too drained from learning the new ropes and new town to put pencil to paper.

That changed Sunday. She wrote a whole page. Not amazing progress, but it’s something. Even getting back in the story required some work, rereading more than the 100 preceding pages to reminder herself what was going on and how characters behaved. Any hiatus in storytelling can be bad because it puts the writer out of the rhythm of the story.

Hopefully, Word Nerd will refind her writing groove soon, because this story needs an ending soon.