30 September 2010

NaNoWriMo = NaNoNOTMo for me

Let me declare my intentions boldly -- I am NOT participating in NaNoWriMo this year.

It doesn't start for a month, you might say. How can you be so definitive, you ask. You had fun last year, you remind me.

Yes, I know. It was fun. Once. But here's the deal -- I'm still working to whip that 50,000 words into shape. It's about 90K words now and I like maybe the first 50K of them. It took a good number of early mornings to work the section I wrote during NaNo into something viable. The next 40K words need that kind of attention if this story is ever going to be anything. Some of the changes will delve back into that first 50K as well, tightening the plot and the focus.

I can't say I'd never do NaNo again, because never is an awfully long time and an awfully definitive statement. I think it's fair to say it's unlikely I'll do NaNo again. As a writer friend said, when you're done, you have to take a machete to cut out the bad stuff. I think I'm beyond machete-ing to slash-and-burn deforestation. I knew I was writing a lot of crappy words as they went by but the NaNo pace is such that you can't fix them.

Now, I know that NaNo enthusiasts will say that's the point. It's quantity, not quality. But, if you're hoping for a real book when you're done, quality counts.

So, I'll spent November (and October and possibly December as well) continuing to edit and rewrite and revise.

28 September 2010

Book Banter -- The Postmistress

Title: The Postmistress
Author: Sarah Blake
Genre: Historical
Length: approximately 300 pages
Where Stacie's Copy Came From: Oshkosh Public Library
Plot Basics: Three women will come together and strike a balance between life and their beliefs with the rise of World War II.

Banter Points: Each of the women plays a very different role in the novel, not quite an "Every Woman" character, but each faces challenges in the world that is unraveling before them. One, a reporter, Frankie Bard, seeks a place in a world dominated by men. The wife of the local doctor, Emma, wants to be the strength behind her husband who is fighting his own demons. And Iris, the Postmistress, wants to keep order in the world, according to the established system.

Certain liberties were taken with in the history, but not in an offensive way. Two facts were tweaked to pull the story together, but this reader found each one forgivable and well within the author's right. (I'd say what they are and why but the author's note at the end does a much better job than I would.)

World War II was a world changing event for so many reasons and people. Focusing on these three women shows how women changed, their roles changed and the world was forced along even when it disagreed with those changes.

Bummer Points: It was a bit slow to get moving, but I think that has more to do with the difference between the types of books that I normally read and this one.

Stacie's Recommendation: Read it. Wonderful writing, great stories, enriching characters.

27 September 2010

Book Banter -- Santa Olivia

Title: Santa Olivia
Author: Jacqueline Carey
Genre: sci-fi
Length: ~340 pages
Where Word Nerd's Copy Came From: Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library

Plot Basics: The border town of Santa Olivia has been forgotten -- a place between the U.S. and Mexico permanently under military rule after a deadly flu virus runs rampant. Born into the town is Loup Garron, the daughter of a local woman and a mysterious genetically engineered soldier. As Loup grows up, she becomes the town's greatest hope for redemption. Leading a rag-tag bunch of orphans, she takes up the mantle of the town's patron saint showing the occupying force the power of a single girl to lead a people to hope.

Banter Points: I'm a big fan of Carey's Kushiel series so I was excited to read something from her that wasn't high fantasy. The amazing thing is how different her writing is in this book compared to Kushiel. The Kushiel books are long and lush and beautiful and her prose matches that. Santa Olivia is sparse and clipped and much shorter and the tone exactly fit the story. It's also a good story, a plausible future that could happen if a real pandemic hits the world.

Bummer Points: It was never really clear what happened to the rest of the world that trapped Santa Olivia as it was. The flue was mentioned, but there was no sense of the scope of the problem in the world at large and why cordoning off Santa Olivia was so necessary until thevery end, and then, even that explanation was a little scarce.

Word Nerd Recommendation: If you like sci-fi that doesn't feel like sci-fi, this is a great read. Also, Carey fans should read it to see just how versatile of an author she is.

24 September 2010

Book Banter -- The Accidental Billionaires

Title: The Accidental Billionaires

Author: Ben Mezrich

272 pages

Non-fiction (technically)

Where Stacie's Copy Came from:
Oshkosh Public Library

Plot Basics:
The idea and genius behind Facebook came from some where. Then it grew. And no one really knows what happened behind the scenes except those that aren't talking about it.

Banter Points: Any time loads of money, reputations and genius is involved, there's bound to be contradictory truths; this title is no exception.

Mezrich steps between fact and fiction in his 2009 book. CNet's Caroline McCarthy went so far as to repeat "Early rumors about 'The Accidental Billionaires' suggested that Mezrich was particularly liberal with fact-checking." I would agree. Most of the story was told from three points of view, all individuals who tried to ride the Facebook comet to the top and failed. While Mezrich tones down most of the outrageous things that could have been said, and stated that Mark Zuckerberg declined to contribute (as was his right) it comes off as sour grapes.

Or maybe more like little boys who refuse to understand that they made their friend mad.

Bummer Points: I really wanted to like this book. The previews for the movie it's based on look like fun. Like a romping good scandal that has some fabulous truth to it. According to any review you read, Mezrich's previous formula for writing success has failed him in this title.

Personally, I found the book to be intriguing for the first 100 or so pages. After that, when everything starts to fall apart and the conflict should be getting interesting, nothing was going on because the action was happening out of the line of sight of the three sources.

Stacie' Recommendation: This may be the one book that a movie won't ruin.

23 September 2010

Double Edition Book Banter -- Under the Rose and The Rites of Spring (Break)

Title: Under the Rose and The Rites of Spring (Break) (Ivy League novels 2 and 3)
Author: Diana Peterfreund
Length: ~340 pages each
Genre: Chick-lit
Where Bethany's copy came from: Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library
Plot Basics: Amy Haskel, who we first met in Secret Society Girl, is back with her Rose and Grave brothers. (and sisters, but that's another plot). In Under the Rose, one of the Diggirls goes missing, at the same time that society secrets are being leaked to the media. Amy is worried that the Diggirl isn't just missing, but kidnapped. And proving her suspicions will bring more club secrets to light, secrets that could destroy Rose and Grave from within. Disaster averted the Rose and Grave crew heads to sunny Cavador Key over Spring Break for some R&R. But it seems that society trouble follows them to the club's private island. A freaky accident on the way to the island raises Amy's suspicions, and her interest in a fellow Digger. She's tried inner-society romance once before, but can she navigate a possible second Rose and Grave romance and keep the club alive to finish out their senior year?

Banter Points: I almost never read two series books back-to-back, but I was having so much fun with Under the Rose that I went straight on. I've got the fourth Ivy League book checked out of the library but I'm forcing a break so I'll enjoy the last one more. What's so fun, you ask? Peterfreund's writing. She's got that pitch-perfect blend of literary allusion, pop culture, conspiracy paranoia, romance and snark that the pages just fly by. Everything in college seems so dramatic and Peterfreund catches that fervor and puts it into the story. Whether Amy's uncovering vast conspiracies or trying not wonder about a certain boy, or her senior thesis, she's doing it with such aplomb.

Bummer Points: Maybe it's just a sign of our times, but the other Diggirls (and Amy too, for that matter) can be so mean to each other. While the snark is fun, occasionally it just gets to be too much.

Word Nerd Recommendation: If you like Megan McCafferty's series, then Peterfreund is right up your alley. It's definitely a girl book, but it's got mystery and romance to cut across genre boundaries.

21 September 2010

Power of Libraries

Probably my best reading memory was my first trip to a Real Library. It definitely a proper noun in my head, then and now.

I remember my card getting handed over to me, with my name and address printed on it, in red because I wasn't allowed to check out grown-up books without permission. As the card was passed from the librarian to me, I asked, "How many books can I take at once?"

And the answer was as many as I could read before we came back next.

The answer prompted a question to my mom of when are we coming back. I picked out what I thought was the appropriate number of books -- about ten or so. We were coming back in a week.

When the librarian asked if that many was okay with my mom, she shrugged and said that I probably would finish them before next Saturday.

I don't remember if I did or not, but the power of unlimited books is something that I adore about my local library. Every time I pay a fine or my tax bill, I pretend that the whole amount solely supports my reading habits.

Libraries have that sort of power. What's your library story?

20 September 2010

An Open Letter to the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library

Dear Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library Directors and Board Members,

I am disappointed to learn of the new reduced hours schedule that is to take effect in October, particularly the closing of Central Library on all Thursday.

I am fully cognizant of the budget situation in the city and state that has led to this decision. I applaud you looking for solutions other than the outright closing of library branches, but closing the main branch of the library during the work week makes little sense.

I work downtown and often walk over to library over my lunch break. I enjoy being able to visit one of the community's best resources any day I am able to. I often go to the library specifically on Thursdays to check out new material to enjoy over the weekend. I also understand that Central Library is central to the system -- shutting down the city's biggest library for an entire day of the week leaves the community at a great disadvantage. Central provides support for the other branches of the library system. Central has a large number of computers that are vital for job searches, training and more for people to return to the job market in this tough economy.

Closing Central on Thursdays leaves a gaping hole in the services this community needs.

I do not feel it is fair to complain without offering an alternate solution, and one that I have seen work well in another community where I lived. There, in the summer, hours at the library were cut on weekends. The library had Sunday hours during the school year, but none in the summer. Additionally, during the school year, Saturday hours were longer, but were reduced in the summer.

Let me offer a second solution, as well. As I have mentioned, I am regular library patron. If I had been asked to donate as a way to keep library services open for all throughout the whole week, I would have paid attention to the case made. I believe in libraries and have fond memories of many libraries in the communities I have lived. As a single individual, no gift I could make would keep the library open Thursdays. However, I suspect many library patrons like me would step up if we had simply been asked.

I hope you will reconsider the hours reduction. Or, at the very least, pledge to restore hours to what they were when revenues rebound.

The Central Library is too great a resource and too valuable of a community asset to let sit dark for a whole day during the week.

Bethany K. Warner

16 September 2010

Book Banter -- Deceiver

Title: Deceiver (Foreigner #11)
Author: C.J. Cherryh
Genre: Sci-fi
Length: 355 pages
Where Word Nerd's Copy Came From: Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library
Plot Basics: Bren Cameron, the interpreter between the humans and atevi, has survived being in space and survived a coup waiting for him upon his return, but now he is embroiled in a years-old political conflict surrounding his estate. Politically dissident factions -- connected with ousted coup -- are still trying to leverage their power when all Bren wants is some well-deserved rest. Bren is joined by other strong political figures, making them too tempting of a target for rebels to resists and despite the neutrality of Bren's office, he will once again be called on to play politics and try to keep his human head down while surrounded by alien assassins.
Banter Points: I blogged awhile back about my fictional crush on Bren Cameron and this book didn't lessen that at all. He's still amazingly polite and politically brilliant. While there's a bit of shooting in this book, it's actually very quiet and subtle. The action is tightly controlled twists of an already tautly wound spring and the tension comes because it's unclear which move may snap the whole thing. It's a sci-fi book because it has aliens and space ships in it, but really, it's a political novel. Cherryh deftly still deals with the concepts of "other" and the progress of technology while delivering an enjoyable novel.
Bummer Points: This book was hard to get in to. It was July 2009 when I read the last one and while Cherryh provided some reminders, I still had to think pretty hard to remember what had happened. Knowing that Cherryh is working on a fifth trilogy in this universe, I'm thinking there may need to be a whole re-read here, but that just takes time...
Word Nerd Recommendation: If you like quiet novels with hints of space opera but much more politics and sociology, these are a great series. I'd highly recommend waiting until whole trilogies are out before diving in so that you can read an entire story arc without waiting a year in between because they are so precise.

15 September 2010

Bonus Post - Book Blogger Appreciation Week

Thanks to those that called out Book Blogger Appreciation week. I'm adding it to my RSS and can't wait to see what's up.

14 September 2010


I decided to whittle through my personal collection of TBR instead of the electronic collection I've gathered.

For now that means a eclectic lot of books - a scattering of mysteries and romances that caught my eye at rummage sales or other locations of that sort. I have a novella collection by Jack Finney that's been sitting under my bed for six or seven years (maybe longer). I discovered him and his pair of time travel novels when I was in college. Time and Again is on the re-read list too. I have it on a shelf...some where.

Check back in a week or so; I'll post a review of the novella collection.

13 September 2010

Book Banter -- Mockingjay

Title: Mockingjay
Author: Suzanne Collins
Genre: YA/sci-fi
Length: 390 pages
Where Word Nerd's Copy Came From: Personal collection (via Borders)
Plot Basics: I can't do this without spoilers. If you haven't read Hunger Games and Catching Fire, stop reading. Right now. Stop. Come back tomorrow. We at Word Nerd won't take it as any kind of personal affront. I mean it. Stop.

Katniss Everdeen has survived two Hunger Games in the arena and is poised to become the symbol of the rebellion against the Capitol. She doesn't want to become the mouthpiece of the rebels, more concerned with the fate of Peeta and keeping her own nightmares at bay. As events continue to move, she takes up the mantle of rebel leader and begins working with an elite group of soldiers to take over the Capitol and rescue Peeta, including her old friend Gale. But the treachery continues and Kat will have to come to terms with herself and the rebels to be able to save Peeta and bring the rebellion to an end.

Banter Points: I read this book in about 24 hours. I don't think I plowed through a brand new book quite that fast since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows came out. Collins is a master at pushing action forward. Just when it seems like Kat is going to get a break, something else happens. Another great point for Collins is that Kat still gets to react like a kid sometimes. It's a pet peeve of mine, these YA books where teenagers have all the same abilities to cope as an adult does. Letting her have moments of breakdown and weakness are spot on since no one can be that strong all the time. All in all, I want to read the whole series again.

Bummer Points: There were tears. That's all I can say.

Word Nerd Recommendation: Since no one who hasn't read the series should still be reading at this point, a recommendation seems silly, but I shall give one anyway. Read them. The whole series is well-crafted and should be enjoyable to anyone who just like to read a good book.

10 September 2010

Reading Shift

I've spent the last several months reading fantasy and historical novels. While I still have a fairly long TBR full of those titles, including series that I'm in the middle of, I'm longing for some good mysteries, cop novels or detective stories.

Part of me is thinking that I should read some Rex Stout, as I was introduced to him the first time at BoucherCon last year. I really liked that early American detective story. I watched Sherlock Holmes this summer and was misty-eyed enough to order a complete set of Conan Doyle's work. I could pull those out. And then there's all those reviews from Word Nerd for the Micheal Connelly series for Harry Bosch, which I've read some of, but not all and not in order.

I'm not settled on any given series yet. What's your vote?

Leave me a comment on your fav and why I should read that instead of one of the options I'm already considering.

09 September 2010

How it's written makes the difference

Over Labor Day, I proudly flew my geek flag with several friends. Instead of hot dogs and outdoor things, we stayed indoors and watched two classic sci-fi movies at complete opposite ends of the good-movie spectrum: Tron and Blade Runner.

For those of you that have never seen either, a quick primer:
Tron (1982) is about a computer hacker who gets sucked inside a computer program and with the help of another program (Tron) must defeat the evil Master Control Program that's taking over and capturing other programs.

Blade Runner (1982) is about a cop who must hunt down Replicants, genetically engineered robots who must do humanity's dirty work on other colonies or risk death to come to Earth.

Tron is the first film that ever used computer CGI animation, something we take for granted now in sci-fi blockbusters and many other movies. Blade Runner is in the list of AFI's top 100 movies of all time.

And while they both have their claims to fame, Blade Runner is a great film and Tron is a laughable movie (save for the lightcycle race). Why? The writing.

The dialogue in Tron is stilted and awful. At one point the villain calls an underling a "bit brain." There's almost a spiritual metaphor about the existence of God as the programs discuss "users" but the metaphor never stays the same and the parallel can't be drawn.

Blade Runner is ripe with imagery that critics and casual viewers still debate. Even exactly what is meant by the end (we were watching the director's cut, FYI) is up for debate. The film moves slowly (nothing so speedy as a light cycle), but every frame is composed with a purpose.

When they were thought up, both Blade Runner and Tron had the ability to be great or awful films. Some might say they can't be compared because they are so different, never mind that they are both in the sci-fi category.

It's easy to just say that the writers of Tron needed to go through another pass of the screenplay, revise and tighten some more. Maybe that would have helped. Maybe it would have made it worse.

Here's hoping for the Tron sequel this winter, that we can get lightcycles AND good dialogue writing.

07 September 2010

Our readers will get this

My husband is constantly telling me I have no sense of humor. However, when this gem makes me laugh out loud, he doesn't get it.

Obviously we are not humor-compatible.

06 September 2010

Book Banter -- The Queen's Lover

I'm guesting over at Popsyndicate.com again (Which, BTW, if you haven't checked out their newly redesigned site, you should.)

This time, I took on Vanora Bennett's The Queen's Lover.

While I'm trying to develop an appreciation for more historical fiction, suffice it to say, this book may have set me back a little.

03 September 2010

Stacie's August Bibliometer

I remember my delight to discover that my cohort here was also a reader who kept a log of the titles read. It validated my own quirkiness.

This month, I managed four books, which is my average count per month for the year. However the total pages at 2,389 indicates that everyone of those books was pretty fat. Most mass market paperbacks average 350.

See, quirky behaviors lead to quirky stats.

Total for the year, I'm at 35. All indicators point to this being a low reading year. If I keep up the current pace, I'll hit 53.

I've kept a list since 2001, topping 100 5 of the nine years. It's kinda fun to look back to the pre-marriage year and see the number at 168, the year of my first baby at 53, and last year at 103, which is slightly above the average. Some day, I'll look back at this year, and realize how my new role at work impacted it. And when the number tops 100 again, realize how far I've come in balancing work and life. Just like it did after those other significant events.

A quick glance says that I'm reading less books, but more pages. In 2009, my average page count per book was 329; this year is 456.

Ah, quirky stats galore.

02 September 2010

Bethany's August Bibliometer

Reading stats time again...

August was 7 books, one more than in May, June and July.
Total pages read, 2871 for an average of 89 pages a day.

I'm 13 books behind my YTD total from 2009. It's all the lawnmowing, I'm sure, as a new homeowner, that's cutting in to what used to be reading time.

Seven books in a month is still way above average given that most people who are readers read something like a dozen books in a year. (I read 13 books in October of 2007... of course two of those were kids books and five were graphic novels...)

Still, I feel behind. Some year, I'm going to break the 100 book threshold. It's just not going to be this year.