Friday, December 31, 2010

Best and Worst of 2010: Books

So for my second post today (gasp!  Two in one day!  The sky must be falling!) I was inspired by my friend Courtney's latest blog post ("Abducted by the Books of 2010 Survey"), in which she filled out a survey that she found on her friend's post and was originally created at this blog:  The Perpetual Page-Turner.  So I'm going to attempt to fill out the same survey.

1. Best book of 2010?  Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins.  I love the whole trilogy but this one, the second one, is my favorite.

2. Worst book of 2010?  Tainted, by Brooke Morgan.  The characters were totally unbelievable, and I hated the main male character from the beginning, and I could not understand why the female protagonist was attracted to him at all.

3. Most Disappointing Book of 2010?  Go, Mutants! by Larry Doyle.  It had so much potential, and I really enjoyed the way he invoked the style of bad Science Fiction movies, but it unfortunately it fell very flat.

4. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2010?  The Host by Stephenie Meyer.  I enjoyed the Twilight Saga but only on an entertainment level.  However, I really loved The Host!

5. Book you recommended to people most in 2010?  The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.  I've recommended the whole trilogy to several people this year.

6. Best series you discovered in 2010?  The Hunger Games, hands down.  It's not Harry Potter, but it's really close!

7. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2010?  Suzanne Collins and Margaret Atwood.

8. Most hilarious read of 2010?  Good Omens, by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.

9. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2010?  The Hunger Games trilogy and The Lost Symbol, by Dan Brown (a.k.a. the King of Chapter-Ending Cliffhangers).

10. Book you most anticipated in 2010?  Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins.

11. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2010?  
Beautiful Creatures, by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.  The book was okay but I loved the font on the cover and the way it intertwines with the tree.

12. Most memorable character in 2010?   I think it's a tie between Crowley in Good Omens and President Snow in The Hunger Games trilogy.  Crowley is so hilarious (especially with his house plants) and President Snow is so creepy with his blood breath.

13. Most beautifully written book in 2010?  Unfortunately, I don't really have an answer for this.  I don't think any of the books I read this year were "beautifully written."  I think that The Hunger Games trilogy was extremely well-written, as were some of the others that I read, but as far as passages that made me get excited about the beautiful descriptions, I'm drawing a blank.

14. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2010?  The Hunger Games trilogy.  I can't wait for the movies.

15. Book you can't believe you waited UNTIL 2010 to finally read?  Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte.  Or Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.  And I have so many other Classics that I still need to read.

New Year's Resolutions

Well, once again I've been absent from my blog.  I have been pretty busy, with Christmas parties and going out of town for Christmas, etc.  But I have been reading my friends' posts, and I've been pretty inspired by them.  So today I might go out of character and have a couple of new posts, since it's New Year's Eve and I have a couple of posts in that theme.

I've wanted to do a post of New Year's Resolutions for a while, and my friend Holly's post about them ("Oy With the Resolutions,") gave me the kick in the pants to write my own.  So here they are:

My 2011 Resolutions (I couldn't come up with a more clever name like Holly did, boo.)

  1. Exercise more and lose some weight.
  2. Write (almost) every day.  (I hope to write at least one blog post a week and do some other type of writing at least three times a week.  I know this doesn't quite add up to every day but I think setting smaller goals that I can actually accomplish helps me to reach those larger goals.)
  3. Finish and get through one edit of my 2010 NaNoWriMo novel.
  4. Read at least as many books as I did in 2010, if not more.  (I read 30 books this year, which is a lot for me!  But I enjoyed it so much and I have hundreds of other books that I want to read, so this resolution shouldn't be too hard.)
  5. Randomly pay for a stranger's meal.  (I heard that this happened once - someone did the whole "Pay it Forward" thing at a restaurant and for the whole day, everyone else did the same thing!  I've been wanting to do it since then, and I will do it one day, even if it's not in 2011.)
  6. Be more positive and less judgmental.
Well, that's all I can think of right now.  But I'm sure there are more things that I'd like to do next year.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Thoughts on Publishing

Yes, it's been a while.  No, I haven't been writing every day - get OFF my butt! ;)  Actually, I've been taking a bit of a break after NaNoWriMo.  And since the new year is quickly approaching, I've decided to stop my Write (Almost) Every Day Challenge and begin afresh in the new year.  I plan on jumping right back into my NaNo novel at that point, editing and writing and working on getting it publishable.  

Which is what I wanted to talk about today - publishing.  My friend, Tracy, wrote a blog post a few days ago about self-publishing.  Here is a link to that lovely post:  Building A Bridge.  Go there, read it, come back.  I'll wait.

Wait!  You're supposed to come back!
Yes, I know she has a lot more posts than me.  
Yes, I know she posts WAY more regularly than I do.
Yes, I know she has a lot of witty commentary and sage insight.
Yes, I know that she shares recipes!  And, believe me, I've had her yummy food, the recipes are worth it!
But you're supposed to come back after you read that one post!  You can peruse the rest of her posts later!

Well, for those of you that did come back, I'll continue.

Tracy talks about how she feels that experts (literary agents and professional publishers) help to make her story the strongest it can be, and she feels that self-publishing doesn't include these last few strength-boosters in your story.  I totally agree with her, and I had some other thoughts on the subject.  I thought about writing a comment to her post, but my thoughts kept getting bigger and longer and I didn't want to write a novel of a comment, so I decided to write my own blog post on the subject.

The funny thing is, the night before Tracy wrote this post, I had a dream that my husband's brother, Josh, wrote a book and had it published.  He was not self-publishing, but I was quite irked in my dream that he was having a book published.  I was jealous, of course, but I also had other thoughts on the fact that Josh was publishing a book.  Did I mention it was a BIG book?  That didn't help my jealousy.  

But seriously, I was mostly upset because Josh is not a writer.  He is an aspiring actor living in L.A.  Now, I don't mean to say that non-writers shouldn't write and have their books published.  I actually don't mind that.  The thing I mind is that non-writers who are celebrities (Nicole Richie, Hilary Duff, Sarah Palin, etc.) have an easy time publishing.  I understand why - publishing companies know that they will be able to sell a book written by Sarah Palin - they have no idea if they'll be able to sell a book by little old me.  But my point is that, in the past, publishing has been HARD.  There is a format, a process, a LONG wait, and an emotional tailspin created by thousands of reject letters.  Authors go through all of this and then when they finally get a yes they rejoice, run around in their living rooms, shouting and rushing towards the closest bottle of champagne.  Somehow I can't see celebrities doing this.  I actually imagine them kind of shrugging, like, "Yeah, I wrote a book."  (Not all celebrities - I actually can't imagine the agony that Portia de Rossi went through while writing her personal experiences with bulimia in her recent work, Unbearable Lightness.)  

But this is how I feel about self-publishing, too.  It takes away a lot of the process, the hardship, the struggle of becoming a "published author."  I also feel that it kind of takes away a bit of the power and prestige of the title of "published author."  It's like, hey, anyone can do it, so what does it matter that you're a "published author?"  Who cares?

That said, I have a friend who is in the process of self-publishing.  I do not mean to belittle him in any way. I will be buying his book and giggling like a giddy school girl, most likely telling everyone around me that "I know this author!"  The only problem is - so far, the only places to buy his book will be on Amazon, Ebay, and the Barnes and Noble website.  Which, I will admit, is awesome.  But all I know is that, if I ever get a book published, I want to be able to walk into any book store and see it on the shelf.  It's a lot of hard work to write a novel, and I'm willing to work even harder to get it published.  One of these days...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

NaNoWriMo Accomplished!; Write (Almost) Every Day Challenge, Day #56

Oh, Hello, Blogger.  And Hello, December.  

Whew.  NaNoWriMo is over, and I am a winner!!!  I wrote over 9,000 words one day and crossed that 50,000-word finish line with a few days to spare!

And boy am I glad that I finished when I did.  Because only a couple days later I caught a bug that my son had caught over Thanksgiving and I was down for the count.  I was in a lot of pain, and, well, you don't want to hear about that.  Let's just say it wasn't pretty.  And to top it off, my husband caught it, too!  The whole house, laying around on couches, moaning and sipping water all day....  We were all pretty pathetic.

And it's still not completely gone.  I have the most horrible headache of all headaches ever to be known as horrible (okay, maybe I'm exaggerating, but it is one horrible headache that's lasted for two days now), but everything else is pretty much gone.

Although my dizziness is still around.  For those of you who didn't know, for over a month now I have been suffering from spells of dizziness, or rather, spells where I feel almost drunk.  I have been to the doctor about it, been to the chiropractor (which seemed to help), but it's still not going away.  For a while it was constant - I'd feel the symptoms almost all day long.  That lasted about two weeks.  Now it comes and goes - mostly it just shows up once a day, and not for very long.  But since I've been sick I've felt pretty bad, although I guess being sick might make me feel dizzy itself.

But somehow I was still able to participate in (and win!) NaNoWriMo.  I guess it's because I was relatively still, sitting with my laptop and typing away.  But I am really, really excited about my story this year.  There are so many scenes I have yet to write, and so much editing to do, but I actually want to edit it.  We'll see how that goes.

Well, I can't write much more today because of that damn headache.  But hopefully I'll be back soon.  Oh, and notice how I've changed the name of my challenge to "Write (Almost) Every Day Challenge."  I just gave in - I'll still continue to try to write every day, but I now accept the times that I cannot write as vacations, not failures.  ;)