CEA Greatest Anthology Written

So just for fun and also to support a lovely idea, I submitted a story to an attempt to entry into the Guinness Book of Records for the greatest anthology written.

Submissions closed on 1 September and now it’s time for everyone to pre-order the books at AU $25 each. The orders are in Rand so it looks expensive but it’s not.  You can order by clicking here. Scroll down for sponsor levels.

Contributing authors come from the UK, USA, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, Belgium, Nigeria and Switzerland to name but a few.

If you love reading, love short stories and want to be part of something big, go and have a look at the Facebook page and pre-order a copy or two to become a sponsor. And if you order before 20 September 2017, you will get an acknowledgement in the volume.

So, friends, don’t be shy. Get involved.

 

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Christmas Reading

For those of you interested in low cost or free books, check out Fablecroft Publishing on Facebook.

For those interested in more about Anne McCaffrey and Pern, check out their site. (click here).

It’s been a busy time with getting all the stories together for our writers group end of year project – The Zoo. Imagine being a human shafeshifter and having been kidnapped by an alien race for their zoo. And now there is a hope of escape. Will be out on Amazon in the first quarter of 2016.

For those in the Christian world, Merry Christmas. For those in other places with other beliefs, have a wonderful end of year with family and friends.

Happy Holidays

Reading, Writing and Research

A post from a writing friend Leife Shallcross, got me thinking about what I read, how I get ideas, what I write as a result and what research I do. Added to that, another writing friend, Donna Maree Hanson blogged about her writing drought and how she got going using writing ‘dates’ – meeting with fellow writers for the purpose of writing.

This past weekend I got going on a shortish story when Donna and Marisol Dunham came to stay for the weekend. Donna actually got around 13,000 words written, Marisol wrote 2000 words but got around a sticky situation with her plot by re-writing bits and planning out a new plot direction to overcome the issue.  I slowly and thoughtfully wrote about 4,500 words of the new story. It was fun, productive and the wine with dinner on Saturday night followed by a game, made it a great weekend.

I’m still learning the craft of writing. I’m told it’s a lifelong enterprise. But what I love about reading is that I now read differently. Yes, the characters and story are still most important, but I now look at what is good about the what I’m reading. Do the words flow? Are the characters well written? If I love them, why? How is the story structured that makes me keep turning pages and going on to the next chapter?

I see from my favourite books that I like a fast paced book that tells me about the character’s background in bits and pieces throughout the story. I like good dialogue and I realise that writers who really love and know their characters, despite what they do the poor buggers throughout a book, get me to like them too. I keep that in mind now when I’m writing. Not that I let my internal editor slow down things too much, but I do write more slowly to ensure some of my writing ‘ticks’ don’t show up. Things like word repetition. It seems I love ‘small’ a lot.  Or slipping into ‘to be’ verbs rather than active verbs.

Our critiquing group has a lot to do with improvement in writing too. It’s hard sometime to hear that something you really thought was good has some hiccups that need fixing but it’s really worthwhile sitting through the pain to get the gain.

And then there are the other writers. One thing I have found is that writers in general are very, very generous with their time and are fun company. Even well-known writers like Isabelle Carmody or Russell Fitzpatrick or Kaaron Warren are happy to come to writing workshops and conventions to talk to apprentice writers.

So I read all the works of writer friends who are published, and that is delightful. Most fun reads recently included ‘Shatterwing’ by Donna Maree Hanson, ‘A difficult second album’ by Simon Petrie, Tehani Wesseley’s anthology ‘Phantazien’ and Alan Baxter’s ‘Bound’.

Then there is the research.  When I’m writing, like this past weekend, and especially when I’m doing a science fiction story, I need to make sure that what I’m writing doesn’t hit a nerve with science that is wrong and/or impossible [although sometimes skipping explanations entirely is useful]. These days we are so lucky to have the internet. A quick read on Wikipedia and follow the links to the scientific paper and journals. Then, before sending it out, a favour asked of knowledgable writer friends and, voila, something reasonably good from that point of view.

I also read many more blogs than I used to. There is so much good and/or fun information out there just for a little time at the keyboard. Between blogs and Facebook writer groups, it does get a little hectic keeping up.

Finally, it seems I also need to stop putting two spaces after every full stop. Apparently it’s old hat, old school, no longer acceptable. But after more than 40 years of ten finger typing, it’s a hard habit to break {hmmm… good title for a song}. But going back and deleting or find/replace is also annoying. Guess I’ll have to change that too.

Having spent time with doing this, I now have to go back to the PowerPoint and notes I’m preparing for a workshop next month. This was decidedly more fun though.

 

What Do I Feel Like Reading?

This morning I finished a delightful book by Garth Nix called ‘Clariel’, a prequel to the Abhorson series that I read quite a few years back.  It made me want to clariel-Cover-Ausread the series all over again so I got them down from my bookshelf.  Then  I looked at all the ‘to read’ pile – those that I haven’t read before.  Meh, I said to myself, they can wait while I go and read the series again.

Just before Christmas I also forewent my ‘to read’ pile, this time for two new Val McDermid books in the ‘Tony Hill’ series.  This is quite a different read from the fantasy of Garth Nix.

In addition, I bought the next Ben Aaronovitch book in the ‘Peter Grant’ series.  And of course, anything Jim Butcher writes in the Dresden Files or Kevin Hearne in the Iron Druid series get an instant read as soon and I can get my hands on them.

So what is it about these and other series that makes me want to buy and read them instantly?

Firstly, I think that there is something in the characters the authors have created that makes them enduring.  Most of the leading characters are quite flawed; In the Abhorson series the protagonists all have unknown magic qualities they either don’t want or can’t use; Tony Hill is only a moral centimetre away from being one of the serial killers he catches; Harry Dresden is impulsive and makes decisions that seem right at the time but quite dangerous in hindsight, Atticus the Druid tries to stay alive but brings down multiple pantheon of gods onto his case and so on.

Secondly, the authors give them redeeming qualities that ensure the reader doesn’t just think ‘Fool’ and flicks the book.  In Clariel, Nix allows Clariel to use ‘Free Magic’ or in Star Wars terms, go to the Dark Side while still believing she’s doing good because she’s uneducated about her world and magic; Tony Hill knows most of his flaws and uses them against the serial killers while his personal relationship slowly burns with DCI Carol Jordan.  Harry Dresden tends to pull things out of the fire at the last minute when everything seems lost, as does Atticus the Druid.  The latter two series also have authors who are able to bring humour to their stories that break tension or are just plain fun.idc

And then there are the storylines; well crafted, exciting and in each case the authors seem to put their characters to extreme tests.

OK, so why do I want to keep reading about them?  What is it about these characters that I just have to know what they are up to, how they are going, makes me barrack for them each time?

It’s not the magic, although that’s fascinating, because then I wouldn’t love the psychological drama in the Tony Hill books. Or maybe it is  magic because what Tony Hill does, and Val McDermid writes so well, is the internal ‘magic thinking’ of those who kill for fun and giggles, so to speak.wiretvcover

For me, I think, it’s the battle against the odds, and finding something within themselves that allows them to go on when many would fail and fall by the wayside.  I would hope that were I put in such awful situations, I would have the strength and wherewithal to get to the end and achieve my goal.  But mainly that I am very unlikely to find myself in these situations and grateful that I’m reading about them, excited for the characters, but NOT be them.  I’m safe in my comfortable armchair/couch following the adventures of others, cheering for them, sad for them, terrified and fascinated, but inherently safe from their woes (hopefully).

A pretty powerful formula if, as an author, one is able to find such a character and storyline, and execute it well.

An Eclectic Mix of Stories

It’s not strictly true to say ‘what I’ve been reading’, more accurately which books I’ve finished.  Beside actually reading a physical book or an ebook, I also listen to audiobooks when I’m in the car, knitting or just relaxing. I actually had no idea how many books a year I actually finish until I undertook the Goodreads Challenge this year.  I started out with what I thought was a reasonable number, 30.  I had to update that by end of March to 40 and so on.  Currently I’ve set the total to 65 and am only 6 books short of the target… again.  And then there is the slush reading I do for ASIM which at times adds another 3 or so short stories a week to my total reading list, although they do not count on the Challenge of course.

I love any sort of speculative fiction but will happily read biographies and good fiction, often because they have been recommended to me.  In the latter category I recently read ‘The Guernsey 8013752Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’ by Mary Ann Shaffer, given to me by a friend last Christmas.  I took so long to read it even though it kept rising to the top of the ‘to read’ pile because it seemed rather ‘twee’ to me.  Silly me, really.  It is a delightful book, full of real people that captured my attention.  On top of that, the style of writing in the form of letters was unique and very well done.  I admit I had to stop looking at the dates of the letters because I kept wondering how these missives could flash across a city in less than five hours and across the channel to Guernsey in one day.  Once I just let it flow I became wrapped up in the story of wartime Guernsey and it’s people, and the unusual romance that eventuated.  Definitely deserved 4 stars out of 5.

13067519Another unexpected gem was ‘Athena’s Promise’ by Annetta Ribken. It was a delightful speculative fiction story that doesn’t fit into any specific genre although it had zombies, trolls, centaurs and vampires all dealing with a human heroine who was the front desk manager in a hotel.  The catchphrase ‘more numbah’s’  will stick in the mind after reading it.  Again, definitely deserves 4 stars from me.  I’m looking forward to the next instalment when it is released.

23264189I bought ‘Difficult Second Album’ by Simon Petrie at Conflux 10 held in Canberra on the long weekend in October and available from Smashwords and Amazon if you’re interested. My husband told me I wasn’t to read it in bed of an evening because I kept giggling and snickering and putting him of his reading.  Simon has a wicked sense of humour, is a wonderful story-teller and very, very well. Not all the stories have humour in them and they balance out the book very well. He also writes flash fiction and some of those in the book are real gems.  I highly recommend this one and give it 5 stars.

23056339Donna Maree Hanson’s ‘Shatterwing’ was another Conflux find.  It is a fantasy with very dark passages that some may find very confronting.  The world-building in this, the first book of the series, is excellent and I found myself hooked in the trials and tribulations of the characters.  I have a personal issue in that when I become interested emotionally in a character, I find it difficult to let them go halfway through a book and take up the point of view of another character.  The first half of the book is about Salinda who, after years of tending the vines for the Dragon Wine, undergoes terrible physical harm before she can escape the vineyard.  Salinda is the keeper of a power she finds difficulty using and does not understand.  We leave Salinda in a situation that seems somewhat safe and learn about Laiden who accompanies an elder mage who unexpectedly dies.  As a result she gains a similar power to Salinda and has difficulty managing it.  She must also run for her life.  I have the second in the Dragon Wine series and will read ‘Skywatcher’ over the next month.  Overall, I rate the first book a 3 stars, I liked it and am looking forward to reading the next in the series.

Now for a couple of audiobooks.  The first, The Child by Sebastian Fitzek, was an excellent story but the audio-play had too many distractions – rain that went on forever, pauses in dialogue that ended up being totally frustrating despite the fact that the actors, including Amelia Fox and Rupert Penry-Jones were delightful to listen to.  So I will have to find a written copy of this and read it.

Kevin Hearne”s ‘Shattered’, the 7th in the Iron Druid Chronicles, was the exact opposite.  The narrator, Christopher Ragland, did a wonderful rendition of all of the characters, male and female and18525883 irish wolfhound.  Atticus the last Druid on Earth now has graduated Granuille, his apprentice as well as liberating his Arch-Druid from a time spell – so now there are 3 druids in the world that can access the powers of Gaia.  Atticus and Granuille both have delightful companions in their wolfhounds who can speak and provide the light relief during stressful times.  If you love Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files you will definitely love the Iron Druid series.  Another 4 stars from me for this one.

23265559Finally, there is the audiobook of ‘Bones Never Lie’ from Kathy Reichs and read by Katherine Borowitz.  The last two Reichs books were a bit of a disappointment for me but this one returns Reichs to her previous best with detailed forensic descriptions alongside the continuing life of her heroine, Dr Temperance Brennan.  This is a 3 stars only because I have certain expectations from these books and I liked it but fell just short of loving it.

7028848I am currently reading Phillip K Dick’s ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep’ and can see why it has become a classic.  I’m about 40 pages from the end and will finish it today.  It will definitely get 5 stars from me despite it being slightly dated because Dick wrote it in the late 1960’s and set it in the early 2000’s.  Not his fault that space exploration and the idea of settling on Venus and Mars turned out to be highly problematic.

18076835I’m also listening to ‘Lexicon’ by Max Berry and read by Heather Corrigan and Zack Appleman.  It is a story about the power of words and how some people are trained to use words to influence others.  It is intriguing and suspenseful and I’m not sure where it is going.  I like that, a lot.

My ‘To Read’ stack keeps getting taller and includes titles from Gillian Polack (Langue [dot] doc}, Craig Cormack (The Shadow Master) and an anthology by Tehani Wessely entitled ‘Phantazine’.  I guess I’ll make my 65 books this year, and maybe more as there are still 7 weeks to go this year.

 

Conflux 10, NaNoWriMo, Life and Me

A little distance is often a good thing.  I attended Conflux 10 in Canberra on the October long weekend.  This is the fifth time I have attended the conference and each time I’ve come away happy, tired an9837-Conflux-10-Logod a little overwhelmed by the friendships I’ve begun and being included in the network of wonderful writers – both well-know published authors and those, like me, just learning the craft. Added to all this, I was joined by two writer friends from the Eurobodalla Writers and we shared a wondrous weekend, cementing friendship, laughing and learning.

On Friday I attended an all-day workshop run by Russell Kirkpatrick and Nicole Murphy on writing opening chapters that catch the reader, summaries of novels and letters to publishers to catch their attention.  All very important skills and a great workshop.  That night we dressed up and attended the Hogwarts’ Pyjama party and, along with some fun games and laughs, had far too much sugar just before bed.  Saturday consisted of an interview with Margo Lanagan, the launch of several books including Simon Petrie‘s ‘Difficult Second Album’ and a horror short story competition suitably won by Shauna O’Meara.  Her story of a WWI pet rat on a battlefield was both charming and horrible.  Margo Lanagan came in a close second with a Halloween story.  After that we attended the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party with music, food, talking, a bit of dancing and, not least, the dressing up.  My friend Marisol Dunham won the price for best costume and thoroughly deserved it.  The best cosplay group was Tim Napper, his gorgeous wife and son, dressed in Deep Space 9 uniforms.  Very, very nice.  Sunday, a few more book launches including Donna Maree Hanson‘s ‘Shatterwing’ and Gillian Polack’s ‘Lang (dot) doc’.  Then the ‘Around the World in 80 Minutes’ banquet to finish off the day.

Highlights included a kaffeklatch with Isobelle Carmody and a beer meeting with Kaaron Warren.  Learned so much including that writers are normal people with some weird brains that I totally relate to.  I just hope I can someday become 1/10th as good as these ladies.

At the same time as all of this is going on, I’m completing a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment.  Thoroughly enjoying the course facilitated at Wisdom Learning by a fantastic teacher in Erin Riley.  Lots of work involved and I’m doing it so that next year I can facilitate a Diploma Course in Project Management for Wisdom.

Prior to all this there was a wonderful week of babysitting my grandson Elliott and a visit to his cousin Ashlyn in Newcastle.  It certainly tested our resources but we did have fun with the grandkids.  They grow up so fast it’s hard to keep up.

The Tuesday after the return from Conflux the evening chapter of the Eurobodalla Writers met and we decided on our story for National November Writers Month – each of us doing a chapter.  The planning went very well and we are hoping to get it together in a book for our families.

I’ve finally got some time to get back to some knitting and writing and the weather is warming up so regular swims in the pool are a definite benefit of being home.  I can now take a deep breath before the onslaught of the Christmas silly season.  It’s silly because we end up running about like silly people to Canberra, Newcastle and even Sydney.  And then the family comes to us for a few days – which I love.  So I’m also looking forward to it even as I know by January I will be well and truly over it.

I didn’t quite get to all the New Year resolutions I made this year but I got to the most important ones – get fit, keep up with the grandchildren, learn some more about writing and writing itself.  I finished my novel but now am in editing mode and it’s going slowly.  However, it is going so that’s good.

I’m a contented Cat, YAY!

low key

 

Life, Reading, the Web and Me

I look here and find it’s been quite a while since I blogged… again!  *Sigh*.  Doesn’t mean I’ve been lazy.

I’ve been very busy with the upkeep of the Eurobodalla Writers website and assisting an acquaintance with his website and Facebook page.  At the same time I’ve been lucky enough to undertake a small but delightful consultancy.  So Cat has been a busy little kitten. Amongst all this I’ve been reading and writing, attending writers workshops, getting ready to fundraise for the next EW anthology to celebrate it’s 20th year in 2014.  Also I’ve been working with Louise Falcioni on a recruitment drive for EW and to set up an evening meeting forum – luckily it was successful and we have new daytime members and a wonderful set of talented people coming to the evening meetings.

 

One of the wonderful things about the EW evening meetings is that we are all undertaking a novel – fiction and non-fiction, so we are using the meetings as a critiquing forum.  It does mean that I have to dust off the 240,000 words I’ve written and begin to nudge them into shape – that many words will likely be two novels of fantasy.  I started writing it nearly seven years ago and finished it two years ago.  However, over time I’ve become a better writer and I can really see that in the manuscript.  So lots of editing and rewriting to do.  I guess leaving it two years has refreshed me and I’m ready to get it into shape so that I can try getting it published.  We all have dreams.

 

Amongst all this, I’ve managed to trace my Dutch family lineage back to my 7th great-grandmother (born around 1643) and spend significant time with two of my grandchildren.

 

Ayn Rand

Ayn Rand (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been reading a lot as well.  My eReader has been working overtime.  I was delighted by Ayn Rand’s Anthem – a poem about becoming one’s self.

 

Add to that an interesting article on speculative poetry in the Australian Horror Writers Association magazine ‘Midnight Echo 8’ with some great examples and I have a new perspective on spec-fic poetry.  Yesterday I received my copy of Midnight Echo 9 with a story by an acquaintance, Alan Baxter.  To be read in the next day or two.

 

And I quite proud of myself.  I have a copy of Dante’s ‘Inferno’ – part of La Divina Commedia written between 1295 to 1320.  I decided I would work my way through it and found it very rewarding.  It did help that the edition I had came with lots of wonderful academic notes and footnotes but after twelve or so pages I got the gist of things.  I did find it important to read about the context in which the poem was written – I love that it includes a deal of political comment relevant to the times.  It is a horror poem with a political bent.

If completed Arthur C. Clarke‘s Space Odyssey series (2001, 2010, 2061, 3001).  I mentioned in an earlier post that I was a little disappointed that Clarke had changed 2010 to reflect the movie rather than his original book.  Once I got over that, I did find that the books in the series provided a wonderful view of our solar system, the planets, the science around the planets and space and, in terms of  Earth in a millennia from now, the buildings reaching into the stratosphere.

Monolith, Arthur,C ,Clarke ,2001,Space, Odyssey,

Monolith, Arthur,C ,Clarke ,2001,Space, Odyssey, (Photo credit: GALACTIC CONTACT)

I loved the fact that Clarke that thought about language changes; that someone from our time would be unable to understand the language because it had changed so much.  I find that language has changed substantially in my lifetime – written and spoken. I feel it is open to speculation whether it’s for the better or not but as a writer I know I have to keep up with it.

I’ve also been reading a couple of short novels by Charlie Huston in the Joe Pitt Series.  They are certainly in the  pulp ‘noir’ style of Chandler and Hammett.  I found the stories interesting but had to work through the style issues as sometimes there was a lot of description and mood setting when I wanted to know what happened next.  Of course, I love a pacey story so I guess it’s not the fault of Huston.  That said, Joe Pitt is like many hero’s of recent years and in a way reminds me of Jim Butcher‘s wizard Dresden.  Both hero’s get in their own way and make their own troubles, fight multiple factions at the same time and end up nearly dead but victorious.  I suspect to be really on top of this particular style of story style I will have to get the originals and read a Sam Spade or Phillip Marlow novel.

Currently I’m reading Greg Bear’s ‘The Forge of God’.  I’m up to page 90 and twice I’ve nearly given up but decided to forge on (pun intended).  I’m not always interested in political issues in novels although I know others love this.  In this case the idea that alien artifacts and alien life forms can bring two different messages and also the fact that Bear has included Australia in his novel (unusual to say the least) makes me want to know where he is going with this.

OK, so now I’ve procrastinated long enough and I need to go back to my novel rewrite/edit.  Till next time.

 

 

 

Dracula, Frustration and Themes

I’ve been working my way through Dracula again as I’ve noted before.  I have read this book on several occasions but this time reading it with a view to finding themes in the book is making it a tough row to hoe.  Instead of thinking about Victorian society or the fact that Bram Stoker was Irish and what that might mean, I’m suddenly overcome with frustration.  This is because none of the characters talk to each other.  The whole book rests on the fact that Jonathan keeps a secret, Lucy keeps her fears and worries to herself, Van Helsing speaks in tongues (Stoker writes his character’s idiosyncratic speaking voice and style) and never tells anyone anything until it’s too late.

OK, I know I’m reading this book with a modern reader’s view.  I understand that when the book was written, with the exception of the very well to do, people did not travel much and reading ability was at only about 50% of the population.  Those that did read needed to have explained many places, cultural situation etc that we, who watch TV and movies, read and have the internet, take for granted.

Now that I have that out of the way, I think, for the time, there are some interesting techniques used by Stoker.  I think the frustration of everyone not talking gives the reader some power – they know better and I can see people saying out loud ‘Look behind you!’.  Additionally, if feels as if Stoker is making a comment on the manners and cultural prohibitions in society at that time.  From a plot point of view, it is quite a good way to allow Dracula to insinuate himself into society – the vampire knows these things and uses the reticence to discuss painful or emotional topics for his own benefit.  Even when Dracula is unsuccessful in killing them he has scared them to such an extent they simply ignore what they’ve seen i.e. when Harker sees him for the first time in London he falls asleep on a park seat and then ignores it all (or it could be PTSD).

Of course there are the obvious themes of sexual repression and what that means.  I must say that nearly 50 pages about blood transfusions and Arthur’s possible jealousy if he found out that Lucy had transfusions from three other men says a lot.  Then there is Lucy who is adored by everyone, beautiful, charming and at night unable to remember her ‘dreams’.  I guess this is the idea that women want more than just being loved as pure and innocent or similar themes.  Yep, get the whole blood sucking stuff.  But it’s been done to death, especially since the revival of vampires and other supernatural characters over the past 15 years.

There is a paragraph on page 109 by Dr Seward about the madman Renfrew and what he thinks of as the man’s religious mania that resonates with me.

‘These infinitesimal distinctions between man and man  are too paltry for an Omnipotent Being…….. But the God created from human vanity sees no difference between an eagle and a sparrow.’

I read this to mean that when humans make themselves to be a god they bring  human frailties along, allowing socially proscribed feelings to be acted upon.  Dracula can be seen as a monster god who can do anything he wants without interference of law, culture or hindrance by anyone.  No one believes he exists and those that do are seen as madman.  Renfrew certainly is mad but Van Helsing doesn’t seem quite the full bottle either.  If this is so, those who are not mad can simply ignore the situation.

Or is this reaching?  I will struggle on and see what comes.

 

Writing a Book and Reading Several

The Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild has a team in the ‘Write a Book in a Day’ contest and I’ve volunteered to join the team.  The competition will raise funds for the Pediatrics at the Canberra Hospital (PatCH) program.  The group will meet on 8 July 2012 at the Canberra Writers Centre, Gorman House, Ainslie Avenue, Canberra.

If you feel so inclined we would appreciate your sponsorship.  You can read all about it at http://csfg.wordpress.com/write-a-book-in-a-day-contest/ and there is a link for your sponsorship.

I’ve joined the crowd and have just finished reading Suzanne CollinsHunger Games trilogy I have to say I enjoyed the first and last book as they were fast paced, well written and really got me hooked up in the trials and tribulations of the heroine.  It is wonderful to have a strong young woman in this type of fiction.  I also loved that there were several women characters in this book to identify with in those terms.  The middle book seemed just a bit too much like the first and I did think two or three chapters at the end of the first and same at the beginning of the last book might have done the same.  Nevertheless, it is a great read.

In a different vein I also just read the three books of the Iron Druid trilogy by Kevin Hearne.  It is also fast paced, each book only 245 pages.  These books are fun.  Atticus, the Druid who is over 2000 years old must face gods and witches in order to stay in the town he has finally decided to call home.  He has a wonderful pal in Oberon, a smart Wolf Hound to whom he can talk.  It is the dialogue between these two that is so delightful and well written.  There are also werewolves, vampires (as Atticus’ lawyers – only in America), a lovely Irish widow who loves her whisky, and the whole thing is done in a most irreverent way.  If you have any particularly strong religious beliefs you may find these books a bit confronting.  I loved them and recommend them for a bit of fun and light reading.

One thing these books have in common, and so do some of my other favourites, is that they are fast paced, action packed and seem to run like a movie.  I think this style is particularly attractive because we have come to expect fast development of character and plot from having grown up with television, I know it’s why I like it.  

On the other hand there are times when a slower pace and more detailed characterisations is required such as Tolkien‘s Lord of the Rings, R R Martin’s Game of Thrones to name two popular ones. 

I would love to hear from you if you’ve read any of the above books and have particular opinions about them or their style.

Also, I would like to thank you in advance for any sponsorship of the CSfG team.

Life, Health, Reading, eBooks and Passion.

It’s been a week since I posted due to a small but annoying health issue which is now, thankfully, resolved.  That said, anything that makes you feel a bit off hinders the process of developing a blog entry that makes sense.  I tried several times but feeling sorry for myself, when I re-read the draft it looked decidedly snivelly so I gave up.  Not a good look.

Over the past week I’ve been trying to decide what really should go into blogs.  As I noted in my first entry, having a blog is expected from any would-be author.  No-one suggests what a blog should be about.  Even though I thought about what I wanted to write, there is only so much time in the day to think seriously about it.

At the moment I’m not even reading specfic.  My current book is a duo from Desmond Bagley – ‘The Tightrope Men’ and ‘The Enemy’.  Bagley wrote mostly through the 60’s to 80’s and these days his genre would be action thrillers.  He writes well and the pace is just right – not the headlong spin of Ludlum’s Jason Bourne books which leave me gasping.  No, Bagley builds up neatly and you get to empathise with the characters and then he drops them in it and it’s all go with the occasional space for a breather (for both the character and the reader).  The funny part is I had to remember what the world was like in the 70’s while reading these books.  No mobile telephones or quick computer searches – it was all manual.  In a way that makes the adventure a bit more interesting because it is man against man and nature.    It then requires the author to really focus on character and setting.  It was really a good reminder of what writing is all about.

I’m also working my way through a few classics and currently am e-reading Emily Bronte‘s ‘Wuthering Heights‘.  I must be getting more discerning because the language really interests me these days.  The word pictures painted with quaint language that we don’t use anymore that never-the-less are extremely effective in setting mood.  I am enjoying this more than I expected.

That brings me to the subject of Project  Gutenberg.  The enormous quantity of e-book classics available online for free is mind-boggling – over 90,000 I think (but don’t quote me).  I’m using my PC or iPhone but it would certainly be better with an ebook reader.  I haven’t decided which one.  Tempted to get an iPad but a Kindle or similar is much easier on the eyes and can bit into a purse/handbag.  I have a huge library of specfic and classics but things like Tolstoy‘s ‘War and Peace‘ seemed a bit too heavy for me so I never bought it.  Now I can download it for free and read bits and pieces when I feel like it.

Founder of Project Gutenberg

Michael S Hart - ebook and Project Gutenberg Founder

While writing this I just noted that the developer of ebooks and founder Project Gutenberg, Michael Hart, died yesterday.  Still a young man at only 64 so that’s sad.  He was a man with vision but it is most likely that many publication houses might be cursing him roundly.  I have a great deal of respect for any visionary who sticks to their beliefs and is passionate about something this creative and useful.

So, there is my blog after a week of wondering what I would write about.  It’s like all writing, just sit down and do it – reminds me of the quote from a baseball movie with Kevin Costner – ‘If you build it, they will come’ rewritten to ‘if you sit down at the computer, it will come.’ OK bad joke – sorry :-/

Till next time.