31 March 2008

Literary Loss

Minnesota author Jon Hassler died.

Word Nerd just now stumbled on to this news, apparently more than a week after he died.

Hassler wrote "Staggerford" and other novels set in small-town Minnesota.

The full story is here.

Word Nerd first came across Hassler in a fiction class she took in college. She enjoyed "Staggerford" and has been meaning ever since reading that one to read more of his work.

Sadly, all that's published now is all there will ever be.

Short is Good

Word Nerd's been taking a hiatus from the WIP to write a short story. (That is if 26 pages is short...)

Anyway, it's been a wonderful reprieve to work on something that has beginning, middle and end all in a short span instead of the big arc of a novel. She still needs to do some work to it to spruce it up (all writing needs sprucing at some point) but it's a happy thing to say be almost to the point of saying "This story is finished."

As usual, Word Nerd's stuck on a title for said short story.

Titles are never the easy part for her. Never.

27 March 2008

Book Banter -- The Chains of Albion

Title: The Chains of Albion (The Reluctant Adventures of Lt. Martin Jerrold, bk. 2)
Author: Edwin Thomas
Length: 297 pages
Genre: Historical, naval fiction
Plot Basics: After helping to uncover the smugglers, Lt. Martin Jerrold is given a post commanding an old British ship that's holding French prisoners of war. When one of Jerrold's charges escapes, he must go after him on the directive of Lords of the Admiralty, the Princess of Wales and several other players. Martin, recognizing his own shortcomings as a naval officer, turns to Post Office agent Nevell for help. The two pursue the prisoner across the British countryside in a series of strange happenstances that could only happen to Jerrold. Jerrold sort of reminds Word Nerd of a 1800s version of Arthur Dent.
Banter Points: Word Nerd's trying to figure out why she really likes these books. She's not a naval fiction fan (though these make her want to reconsider Patrick O'Brien and co.). She's not a huge historical fiction fan. But Thomas and his reluctant hero Martin Jerrold provide smashing good reads. Funny, exciting plot is woven throughout with a strong cast of characters (Word Nerd's fond of the elusive Nevell and Jerrold's special lady friend, Isobel.)
Bummer Points: This book ends on a bigger cliff hangar than the first book.
Word Nerd Recommendation: These probably should be must reads for naval fiction fans, but also are appealing to a wider audience. Don't overlook these.

24 March 2008

2007-08 Literary Year Bibliometer

March 20 marks the end of Word Nerd's "Literary Year." It's an odd date, but that's when she first started recording her on-going list of books she read.

For 07/08, the total is:
106 books

For the six literary years she's been doing this (starting in 02/03), the total is 477.

Word Nerd's a little blown away by these numbers. 106 books in a year is a lot.

19 March 2008

Book Banter -- The Red Tent

Title: The Red Tent
Author: Anita Diamant
Length: 317 pages
Genre: literary/historical fiction
Plot Basics: The story of Jacob and his 12 sons is pretty well known from the Bible, but not much is mentioned about his only daughter, Dinah. The Red Tent is Dinah's story, from her childhood being doted on my Jacob's four wives to her adolescense, betrayal by her family and second life in Egypt.
Banter Points: This book was interesting. The Biblical account of Dinah is very short and Diamant takes quite a bit of liberty with it. It's a compelling look at what might this historical woman's life might have really been like.
Bummer Points: The book is narrated by Dinah, but in a voice where she's almost an outside observer instead of the person the action is happening to. Word Nerd found this style to rely heavily on "telling" instead of "showing."
Word Nerd Recommendation: Read it. It's a perpetual pick of book clubs, so Word Nerd says grab some gal pals and discuss.

14 March 2008

Book Banter -- At the City's Edge

Title: At the City's Edge
Author: Marcus Sakey
Length: ~300 pages
Genre: crime thriller
Plot Basics: Jason Palmer has been coasting through life since he came back from Iraq. Jogging one day, he's nearly abducted by a Chicago gang member, getting away only because of his combat training. The gang member implies Jason's brother, Michael, is involved in something and Jason wants to find out what. Later, when Michael's bar is burned down and Michael is killed in the blaze, Jason vows to protect his nephew Billy and find out the truth about what Michael was doing. Jason starts working with Chicago PD detective Elena Cruz and together they take discover a plot to turn a poor neighborhood upside down as they maneuver through this domestic war zone of gangs and drive-by shootings.
Banter Points: Word Nerd was really excited for Sakey's new book because she enjoyed his debut novel, "The Blade Itself." First, "At the City's Edge" was a better book for Word Nerd than the first; the plot was tighter, the characters sharper. Second, maybe it's just because Word Nerd works with poverty all the time in her day job, the book's look at what life is really like on the streets in a low-income neighborhood and the forces working against today's youth was very believable.
Bummer Points: Sakey did a little of his transition word to start a sentence at the end of a chapter/section break that bugged Word Nerd in the first book, but it was much less noticeable this time out.
Word Nerd Recommendation: Read it. Sakey is going to be a force to watch in the world of crime/thriller fiction.

12 March 2008

That thing called editing

So if you recall, Word Nerd was hoping to read a bunch of her novel over the weekend while flying on airplanes.

Yeah, that didn't happen so much. Word Nerd just wasn't in the right mind set for it. It's nothing against the book. It was just that she was ready for vacation and her brain sort of checked out. And the binder she bought to put the pages in was kind of floppy as well, making it hard to prop on a lap in an airplane seat.

So, that thing called editing will resume this week, like Thursday, while Word Nerd needs to do laundry.

It's gotta get done, which means imposing the self-discipline to just do it. Word Nerd misses her Chocolate Cake Club for times like this. That kind of a reward would have been just the thing.

11 March 2008

Book Banter -- Dragon Wing

Title: Dragon Wing (Death Gate Cycle book 1)
Authors: Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
Genre: Fantasy
Length: 417 pages
Plot Basics: Hugh the Hand, an assassin, is saved from an execution by the King who offers him a job. Hugh accepts and ends up in a motley company of a creepy child wizard, his bumbling castellan, a group of dwarves and a mysterious man and his dog. Hugh and company end up on a journey that takes them throughout their airy world, flying on dragon ships and working to stop a terrible plot.
Banter Points: Word Nerd isn't really satisfied with her description of the plot, but this first book in the series has lots of twists that set up the rest of the series and there just wasn't a good way around those. Some of the surprises need to be surprises or the book wouldn't be any fun.
Bummer Points: This is definitely a book for readers steeped in the fantasy tradition. Weis and Hickman leave holes, use footnotes and an appendix to fill in how their world works. This is not good starter material for somebody new to the genre because it relies a bit too heavily on conventions.
Word Nerd Recommendation: This is Word Nerd's second trip through this series. It's a light read and she'll keep going with the next books in the series.

05 March 2008

First Edits

Word Nerd's hopping on a jet plane tomorrow for a few days of vacation, but it won't be a vacation from writing.

With her on the plane she is taking the printed out copy of her latest WIP, all 381 rough draft pages.
The plan is to read said manuscript. Word Nerd hasn't read the book the whole way through (she never does while writing) and so now it's time to make sure it hangs together before passing it on to some wonderful writing buddies who will give her an honest opinion of it. But before they get it, Word Nerd needs to determine if there are any missing scenes, problems with the timeline (she's pretty sure the story starts in the fall and then becomes summer later...) and any other major problems like that.
Once back from the trip, Word Nerd will be back in front of the keyboard. She's enjoyed her respite from it since this weekend, a chance to recharge the imagination and give her overworked typing fingers a break!

04 March 2008

Book Banter -- Kushiel's Scion

Title: Kushiel's Scion
Author: Jacqueline Carey
Length: 753 pages
Genre: fantasy
Plot Basics: Imriel no Montreve de la Courcel, third in line for the throne of Terre D'Ange, wants just a simple life with his foster parents Phedre and Joscelin and not to worry about kingdom plots or his station in the world. He also wants to be free of the shadow of his birth mother, the dangerously beautiful Melisande Shahrizai, who more than once tried to usurp the D'Angeline kingdom. But Imriel finds both are hard to escape. When he goes off to study at University in Tiberium, he tries to travel as just himself and try to figure out how Phedre's adopted father Anafiel Delaunay learned the arts of covertcy. Concealing his royal identity and his interest in covertcy and trying to make new friends is a challenge for Imri. And in trying to uphold the bonds of friendship, he finds himself on the front lines of a battle led by the ghost of a dead warlord.
Banter Points: Sweeping in scale as always is Carey's fourth book in the Kushiel series, though it's the first one featuring Imri as a main character. She does a good job of showing the turmoil in Imri as he wrestles with his family, his interests and his station in life and becoming a man.
Bummer Points: This book took a good 300 pages to really get going. Granted, the first Kushiel book (Kushiel's Dart) did as well to get readers through all of Phedre's childhood. This story seemed a little all over the place, touching on a bunch of threads of plot and only satisfactorily wrapping up a few of them. Of course, with two more books, Carey likely left herself plenty of things to follow up on.
Word Nerd Recommendation: A good series for readers of epic fantasy. If long books in a long series isn't your thing though, steer clear.

01 March 2008

Really Done

Word Nerd just finished typing in all the previously handwritten sections of her current WIP.

Though she finished the rough draft a few weeks ago, the story is now well and truly done since it's all in one place.

Final rough draft word count: 120,298.

Now to the editing...

Really Done

Word Nerd just finished typing in all the previously handwritten sections of her current WIP.

Though she finished the rough draft a few weeks ago, the story is now well and truly done since it's all in one place.

Final rough draft word count: 120,298.

Now to the editing...