Thursday, March 28, 2013

Words on a Page - Short Story Improv #2

While not technically an improvised piece, the story that follows is a sequel to my first and, thus far, only improv piece, Stories Over Tea.  It isn't necessary to read that story in order to follow this one, but the two are meant to go together so I would recommend reading that one first if you haven't already done so.

~ Jacob Miller sat in his living room, staring at the notebook in his lap, its pages no less blank than they had been when he asked his mother for it some three weeks ago.  Their emptiness seemed to mock him, laughing at his failure at getting so much as a word on a page... well, that wasn't entirely true, he'd written his name at the top, though he felt a little silly about it now.  That sort of thing was for school projects.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Recommended Reading - Top Ten Tuesday #6

Today's Top Ten Tuesday Topic is "Top Ten Books I Recommend the Most."  If perchance this is your first experience with Top Ten Tuesday, you can find more information here.

Upon discovering today's topic, I was rather pleased as it offers slightly more freedom than the last few topics have done (at least, according to my fairly strict interpretations of them).  As I can draw upon literally any book I have ever read (except maybe textbooks), I am not limited by restraints such as whether or not the book or its author happens to be one of my favorites.

Also, since I rarely ever recommend books to anyone, I can basically make up a list of whatever I want, though I can and will point people to it if they ask for my recommendations for books to read.  Therefore, without further ado, here is my list of Top Ten Recommendations:

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Screams in the Night - Novel Excerpt #2

As is always the case with these novel excerpts, a certain amount of preparatory information is necessary.  This time, I am pulling from Teind, my first and most complete novel.  From within the same universe as Underking, this time the focus is on Faeries... no, not pixies, fairies.  The difference is that one is a flittery, empty-headed thing and the other is a collection of creatures ranging from the noble to things born out of nightmares (like the Banshee).  The scene that follows is from early in the story, shortly after two of our protagonists have gone to report a kidnapping and attempted murder by drowning...

Jacobs got home to find his wife had gone out shopping.  Sighing, he kicked off his shoes and slumped into a chair.  His call in to the Sheriff’s office had gotten nowhere, despite the fact that he’d left out most of the weird parts.  Shouldn’t they at least have promised to check up on things to find out what was going on?

But no, they hadn’t, they hadn’t even had the decency to pretend to care.  The man who had picked up the phone must have been someone new. He’d sounded like a fresh-faced brat and his attitude confirmed it.  Apparently, the sheriff was just taking in anybody who could sit in a chair without falling over.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Good Reader or Bad? - Top Ten Tuesday #5

Today's Top Ten Tuesday Topic is "Top Ten Books I HAD to Buy... But are Still Sitting on My Shelf Unread."  If perchance this is your first experience with Top Ten Tuesday, you can find more information here.

Today's topic proved to be fairly difficult for a number of reasons.  First, there is the fact that I tend to read books immediately upon purchasing them.  Well, not immediately, as that would technically require reading it while walking out of the store, but in the popular sense, I do.  Secondly, Wikipedia is of no help here at all as I have to own the books so I can't just list titles that sound promising.  Barnes & Noble might be helpful, but that would probably be cheating as I won't have owned the books long enough for them to count.  I'm not counting books that others have purchased for me as gifts either, so that severely limits the field.

Finally, I'm inventing reasons why this is proving difficult in order to put off actually trying to create a list.  Unfortunately, I've just run out and no longer have anything material prepared with which I could forestall the inevitable.

Therefore, here is my list:

1. Nanny Ogg's Cookbook - Terry Pratchett - Yes, technically it is a cookbook, but there's a section in the back on etiquette and dwarf culture and some of the recipes themselves are stories as well.

2. Collins Irish Dictionary - Can you really even READ a dictionary?  I mean, sure, it's nice to know that Magairlin means "orchid", but there's no plot there!

3. Digital Photographer's Handbook - I recently acquired a new camera and I've been meaning to go over this in order to better understand the nuances of good photography.  However, I haven't had much chance to use the camera so the book goes untouched.

4. Anansi Boys - Neil Gaiman - Ha! I found a book with a plot, that is meant to be read from front to back in a single or consecutive readings!  I read the first chapter or so of this and promptly bought it... haven't touched it since.

And that's it!  I haven't been to a bookstore in a good while so I haven't gotten many new books and I read all the ones I bought already.  I'm not sure if I should feel proud of this or glad that I haven't let (many) of my books go neglected.  Either way, I'm done - I've read everything else on my shelves that qualifies.  In order to make up for this, I invite you to recommend books to read in the comments, which I will go through and see if there's anything I feel like buying... and then letting dust collect on.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

"Spring" Cleaning - Housekeeping #1

In the interest of preserving my sanity and providing myself with a slightly more rigid structure for this blog, I have decided to devote every 12th post to housekeeping.  I have thus far managed to keep to my intended twice-weekly schedule, but this will provide me with more tangible goals, which are just the sort of thing I am going to need if I am going to keep this up.

That being said, these posts will include information about upcoming posts, pageviews, the latest adventures of Kevin, anything else blog-related that comes to mind, my other creative projects., and an occasional special announcement.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Matter of Time - Top Ten Tuesday #4

Today's Top Ten Tuesday Topic is "Top Ten Books at the TOP of My Spring TBR list!" If perchance this is your first experience with Top Ten Tuesday, you can find more information about it here.

At last! A topic that I don't need to rely on Wikipedia!  Huzzah!  And there was much rejoicing.

Silliness and Monty Python references aside, there are a great many books I am hoping to read in the upcoming months, though only time will tell how many I will actually manage to read, time ultimately being the determining factor.  Nevertheless, here is my list of books that are my top priority to read this spring:

Friday, March 8, 2013

Thoughts on Dystopian Fiction - "Book Review" #2

Last night, as I was wasting away the time I was supposed to be using to come up with and write a blog post by looking at cats and watching videos on YouTube, it occurred to me that there was a post I had been putting off writing since before I had even begun blogging.  It was that or take up a friend on their suggestion and write a blog post about the effects of sleep deprivation on the mind and body... but a few minutes' research on the subject had me very interested in going to bed.


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Glorious Wikipedia! - Top Ten Tuesday #3

Today's Top Ten Tuesday Topic is "Top Ten Series I'd Like To Start but Haven't Yet".  If perchance this is your first experience with Top Ten Tuesday, you can find more information about it here.

Doubtless, without the creation of Wikipedia, this would be a very difficult topic indeed.  Not because I can't think of any series I'd like to start, but because I can't remember their names half the time.  Now, one would think that the library would be a suitable alternative but... well... you see, the only connection between words like "voluminous" and our library is that they have a dictionary that contains them.  That is, if they have room for one.  If I had to work off of what they had, all you'd have to read would be a list of items mostly consisting of "the guy (or girl) who does the thing, the name's on the tip of my tongue, honestly". This would not only be highly embarrassing, but also fairly boring, and driving my readers to boredom is fairly low on my list of goals for this blog. Luckily, with the assistance of the Internet, I was not only able to find the names of the series, but I found ten. Huzzah!

Therefore, without further ado, my list:

1. Dragonriders of Pern - Anne McAffrey
For most of my life, a collection of these books has been sitting on the shelves in my sister's room (and several other rooms as well, I think). I have technically started this as I found a portion of one of them within a textbook my dad brought home one day. Dragons are generally interesting, and dragon riders more so (see Eragon, How to Train Your Dragon, etc).

2. The Ender Saga - Orson Scott Card
As this series has been recommended to me several times, I suppose that at some point I will have to pick up one of them and read it. Only knowing what I've been told (and what I've read about them online), there is a certain worrying similarity (at the surface at least) to Starship Troopers, but I am hopeful the similarities end there because, frankly, that film was terrible.

3. The Tales of Alvin Maker - Orson Scott Card
As is going to become readily apparent, I haven't read much by Orson Scott Card.  In fact, I haven't read anything. This one I found while researching Ender, and I find the concept intriguing.

4. The Pathfinder Series - Orson Scott Card
This series I discovered via a friend's Amazon wish list.  It's also what I ended up getting him for Christmas since it seemed interesting enough that he wasn't going to hate it and thus associate me with bad gifts. Therefore, I suppose it is only fair that I should trust in my gift-giving choices and read it for myself.

5 & 6. The Sword of Truth - Terry Goodkind; The Wheel of Time - Robert Jordan
Frankly, I know almost nothing about these two series beyond the fact that they follow the "The _______ of the _______" title format (Lord of the Rings, Return of the Jedi, March of the Penguins, etc).  However, as they're often trotted out as examples of "must read" series, I intend to find out why.

7.  Dune - Frank Herbert
After Twilight, Dune is probably the series I've heard the most about, either through television, friends, or the Internet, which has spawned countless memes about "the spice," most of them involving cats.  Even without the cats, I am intrigued to find out more about it, and reading seems to be the best route to do so.

8. The Prydain Chronicles - Lloyd Alexander
When I was little, I remember seeing Disney's The Black Cauldron for the first time and not getting it.  Years later, I saw it again and, while I enjoyed it more that time, I still didn't understand it all that well.  I've long known that the film was based on a book series, but have yet to read it.  However, I intend to, at least to find out how that story was supposed to go.

9. Allan Quatermain - H. Rider Haggard
A long time ago, I attempted to read King Solomon's Mines but never really managed it.  I got about five pages in, put it down, and never picked it up again.  The time has come to find out what I missed (or narrowly avoided).

10.  The Robot Series - Isaac Asimov
Similarly to The Black Cauldron, my desire to read this series is based on a film "adaptation" and my curiosity to see the story as the author intended.  This is doubly true in this case as I, Robot was originally not written with any connections to the Asimov stories at all and what elements of the stories they did include were only added in later.

And that's my list!  I didn't talk as much about the series themselves as I originally intended, but that's okay.  While I do hope to enjoy all of these books, the primary reason I want to pick them up is often relational rather than rooted in their content (see #4, for example).  With that in mind, I'm going to do something I haven't really attempted yet - I'm going to ask a non-rhetorical question!

When you discover a new series, what has (or would likely have) greater influence on your decision to read it - the plug on the back (or inside if it's a hardcover) or other's opinions/recommendations of it?