BookBlogWriMo – Day Thirty

BookBlogWriMo.  Book Blog Writing Month.  Created by “Book Bumblings” as a book bloggers’ version of NaNoWriMo.  I found it through “Shattered Hearts Reviews“.

Day Thirty – BookBlogWriMo Recap

Well, it only took me nearly a month and a half longer than it was supposed to, but I am now finishing the last post for BookBlogWriMo.

Overall, I enjoyed it.

Some of the prompts obviously took much more time because they required research (Day 7 – Wayback Machine, Day 11 – Most Popular Posts, Day 21 – First Reviews), photo editing/picture taking (Day 22 – Bookshelves, Day 24 – Reading Cave Fantasy), or introspection (Day 12 – Advice to Newbies, 27 – Authors I’m Thankful For).

While I didn’t have much to say on a number of posts, the only complete throw-away for me was Day 23 – Book Boyfriend Criteria.  Maybe I don’t get it because I’m not just a Book Blogger.  Maybe it’s because I’m not a chick.  Maybe it’s because I’ve been out of school for a while.  I just don’t get it.

I hope Book Bumblings can come up with a month’s worth of new prompts for next year.  Hopefully, I’ll be better able to keep up…but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Advertisements

BookBlogWriMo – Days Twenty-Three through Twenty-Nine

BookBlogWriMo.  Book Blog Writing Month.  Created by “Book Bumblings” as a book bloggers’ version of NaNoWriMo.  I found it through “Shattered Hearts Reviews“.

Day Twenty-Three – Book Boyfriend Criteria

Yeah, I think I’ll pass on this one.  Even if this was “Book Girlfriend”, I’d skip it.  Seems a bit silly.

Day Twenty-Four – Reading Cave Fantasies

So, I did a bit of Googling to find cool libraries.  I imagine having a dark, gothic library with dragon heads holding lamps and perched atop castles as wall lamps (images from Design Toscano) with an over-sized fireplace with a high-backed chair and ottoman, but, while that’s a cool image, and where I’d love to host Dungeons & Dragons sessions, I really want a more brightly lit room with windows and great views of nature.

I think a mashup of the pics below would do nicely.  Take the Hobbit Hole-ish room (left), move the books to line the walls on both sides, and turn the windowed end of the room into a rounded area with bigger windows similar in style to those already there, so there’s almost 180 degree views like the picture on the right.  [Take the other houses out of that pic to make the view even better.]  Drop in two comfy recliners facing the windows and a small table or two for coffee, wine, scotch, what-have-you and we’ve got my perfect spot to read.

Day Twenty-Five – How You Deal with Book Hangovers

I don’t really have book hangovers.  I finish the book, close it, then put it on the end table next to my laptop in case I want to reference it in my review.  The next time I go to read, typically later the same day, I usually just jump right into the next thing I’m going to read.  The lone exception was A Memory of Light, the final book in The Wheel of Time series.  After nearly twenty years of reading that series, and numerous re-reads of many of the books, I did take a few minutes to ruminate on the ending, mulling over how well I thought the various subplots had been wrapped, and appreciating the final scene of the story.

Day Twenty-Six – Cheating on Books

I don’t really consider what I do outside of reading to be cheating.  I don plenty of reading.  If I’m really cheating on anything, it’s my writing, which there hasn’t been much of in the last year or so.  That’s been cheated on by Facebook, reading, TV, soccer (reffing and coaching), gaming, and family time…and really, only Facebook is the big life suck.  At least watching TV is usually done with my wife.

Day Twenty-Seven – Authors You’re Thankful For – Who’s sitting at your dream Thanksgiving table?

I think my list of authors I’m thankful for and those at my Thanksgiving table wouldn’t be the same.  I’m most thankful for Stephen King, Robert Jordan, R.A. Salvatore, J.K. Rowling, George R. R. Martin, Dan Simmons, Brandon Mull, Robert Heinlein, Robert Frost, John Keats, J.R.R. Tolkien, and a few other writers of the Golden Age of Sci-Fi…but I’m not sure all of them would be folks I’d want to chat with around the table.  I’d love to have Stephen King over for dinner and/or drinks.  Aside from his stories, he sounds like an interesting guy.  I’d also love to have Ed Greenwood over along with R.A. Salvatore.  Greenwood’s the creator of the Forgotten Realms of Dungeons & Dragons and R.A. Salvatore is the writer of all the Drizzt Do’Urden stories, which take place in the Forgotten Realms.  We could have some great conversation about the Realms and Drizzt and the future.  I’d also like to have Walt Wojtanik to dinner.  I’ve been working virtually with him for a few years now and really admire his poetry and creativity and would really like to meet him.

Day Twenty-Eight – Book Pet Peeves

I don’t really have much in the way of pet peeves.  The closest thing is probably over describing, too many words used on setting, clothing, etc..  Unless there’s a reason for getting very detailed, skip the description and get to the action, the dialogue.  The only thing that really makes me put a book down, though, is writing that is intentionally confusing or so stilted that it’s difficult to read.

Day Twenty-Nine – The Future of Your Blog

The future of this blog.  I’d like to see it filled with more original writing, both fiction and poetry, as well as more book reviews, quotes, etc..  Realistically, I’ll more than likely just keep at what I’ve been doing….but who knows.  I know I have good writing in me.  I’ve just got knuckle down and make it happen.

BookBlogWriMo – Days Twenty-One, Twenty-Two

BookBlogWriMo.  Book Blog Writing Month.  Created by “Book Bumblings” as a book bloggers’ version of NaNoWriMo.  I found it through “Shattered Hearts Reviews“.

Day Twenty-One – My First Reviews

My intent with this blog wasn’t to become a book blogger or reviewer, but I have posted a number of reviews over the last four years.

My first review was “Review:  The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing” by Meg Leder, Jack Heffron, and The Editors of Writer’s Digest.  In this review I didn’t provide the authors/editors, a link to where the book could be purchased or read about,  or a picture of the cover.  I gave my thoughts on the book’s contents, recommended it, and was done.

A few months later, my second review was “The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction:  a Review“.  It also failed to provide helpful information on how to find a copy of the book.

My third review, “Review: Gauntlgrym, Neverwinter Book I” by R.A. Salvatore, was much more detailed, but had the same shortcomings as the first two.

In my fourth review, I finally hit upon the format that I try to follow for all of my reviews.  “Review:  The Red Pyramid (The Kane Chronicles, Book 1)” provided title, author, date published, author’s website (or wikipedia page), genre, my review, and my “bottom line” on the book.

Including a few drafts still in the works, I’ve reviewed 56 books so far.

Day Twenty-Two – Bookshelves

Here’s a pic of the built-in bookshelves I have downstairs.  bookshelvesYou probably can’t tell that there’s any order there, but there is…a little…

Stephen King is all in the upper left, along with some Dean Koontz and Dan Simmons horror. The rest of the horror books are on the far right on the second level down, along with some science-fiction, like Dan Simmon’s “Hyperion Cantos” and Robert Heinlein’s “Stranger in a Strange Land” and “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.”

Robert Jordan’s “The Wheel of Time” series takes up the shelf below it with Brandon Mull’s “Candy Shop Wars” series and George R.R. Martin’s two “Dreamsongs” volumes.  Other fantasy books are mostly on the next shelf over at the top.  They include “The Inheritance Cycle“, Cassandra Clare’s “Mortal Instruments”, “The Prydain Chronicles“, Fred Saberhagen’s “Book of Swords” series.

The third shelf from the top at the far left hosts Stephanie Meyer’s “Twilight” series and other paranormal and fantasyish romance books, including a few Nora Roberts books written as J.D. Robb.

“Classics” by Ernest Hemingway, Socrates, and Charles Darwin share space on the third shelf from the top in the right column with Frederick Forsyth’s “The Odessa File” and some comedy’s, like Dilbert books, a couple Calvin and Hobbes books, and a couple “The Far Side” galleries.

Dungeons & Dragons rulebooks and novels take up the entire top shelf, second from right, and spill over into some of the space on the next level down.

Books on writing and publishing fiction and poetry, as well as grammar and style guides, dictionaries, and thesauruses take up the top right shelf.  This includes the two books mentioned above as my first and second reviews, as well as Stephen King’s “On Writing.”

Non-book items in these shelves include a Dracula “action figure”, a St. Patrick’s Day dachshund figurine, Dan Dribble (a Finnian), a few family/baby pics, a few crafts by the girls, and other various fantasy figurines.

This does not include the full-height bookshelves in both of my daughters’ rooms, the office, or the living room.  The only one of those not full of books, is the one in the living room.  Bookwise, it only hosts the Harry Potter series, including The Tales of Beedle the Bard, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them, Quidditch Through the Ages, and Harry Potter and Philosophy:  If Aristotle Ran Hogwarts.

BookBlogWriMo – Days Nineteen, Twenty

BookBlogWriMo.  Book Blog Writing Month.  Created by “Book Bumblings” as a book bloggers’ version of NaNoWriMo.  I found it through “Shattered Hearts Reviews“.

Day Nineteen – TBR (To Be Read) Books

(reread) Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling

(reread) Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

Beowulf as translated by J.R.R. Tolkien

Five Kingdoms:  Rogue Knight by Brandon Mull

Five Kingdoms:  Crystal Keepers by Brandon Mull (to be released March 2015)

Storm Siren:  Siren’s Fury by Mary Weber (to be released June 2015)

Neverwinter Saga:  Charon’s Claw by R.A. Salvatore

DEAD POET…Once Removed:  The Poetic Works of Walter J. Wojtanik (Volume I)  by Walt Wojtanik

There are, of course, many other books I plan to read, but these are the ones off the top of my head that I hope to read sooner than later.

Day Twenty – Best Books of 2014

While I read many good books this year, including most of the Harry Potter series (again), these are the only that I can identify as new this year, so they make my best of 2014.  They are also very good books, which is why Mull and Weber have sequels on my TBR list above.

Storm Siren by Mary Weber

Five Kingdoms:  Sky Raiders by Brandon Mull

The Fury Triad:  This Crumbling Pageant by Patricia Burroughs

BookBlogWriMo – Days Fifteen, Sixteen, Seventeen, Eighteen

BookBlogWriMo.  Book Blog Writing Month.  Created by “Book Bumblings” as a book bloggers’ version of NaNoWriMo.  I found it through “Shattered Hearts Reviews“.

Day Fifteen – Favorite Book Blogging Things

The Books, of course.  I love to read.  I like helping others, teaching others, giving great recommendations to others.  While I don’t necessarily categorize myself as a “book blogger”, I like to think that someone will read my review of a book and find their next favorite book or avoid reading a piece of crap.  I also like the occasional back and forth in blog comments about why a book was good or not.

Day Sixteen – Least Favorite Book Blogging Things

Finding/making the time to do it.  I think I’ve already established my super-slackerness.

Day Seventeen – Favorite Book Tropes

While I really like deep, multi-dimensional characters, I am also quite fond of the stereotypes.  I love a good fantasy with the haughty, law-abiding paladin, the sneaky rogue that the party doesn’t even know if they can trust, the bumbling gnome, the mighty moronic barbarian, the in-fighting between elves and dwarves, the wizard who can devastate and entire village with one fireball, but can’t fight off a kitchen rat.  In the horror, realm, I still love a good classic vampire story where they are burned by sunlight, can be kept at bay by crosses, and the older vamps are always more powerful than the younger ones.  I have no beef with the “our planet is dying, let’s take theirs” plot, or the search for a new Earth, or the “bug hunt” on one’s own ship.  Of course, I don’t mind when stories branch out and try to make their own mark, or create their own interpretation of classics, either…as long as the characters are well-written and the story is good.

Day Eighteen – Favorite Subgenres

Fantasy – Pretty much any subgenre, including high, teen, urban, paranormal romance.

Horror – Mostly by author:  Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Dan Simmons, George R. R. Martin, Poe.

Sci-Fi – Not the hard core sci-fi that gets into the weeds of how all the engines, drives, weapons, and such work.  I don’t care about all that, I just want the characters and story to be good…like those of Robert Heinlein.

Poetry – Keats, Frost, Wojtanik (if you don’t know his work, you should check out his latest collection: Dead Poet…Once Removed).

Self-improvement – Fiction and poetry writing, leadership, management, motivation.

 

BookBlogWriMo – Days Thirteen, Fourteen

BookBlogWriMo.  Book Blog Writing Month.  Created by “Book Bumblings” as a book bloggers’ version of NaNoWriMo.  I found it through “Shattered Hearts Reviews“.

Day Thirteen – My Review Process

I don’t have a process for much of anything I do, including blogging and reviews.  The closest thing I have to a process is that I use WordPress’s “copy a post” and then change the book-specific information so that most of my reviews look like the others.  Sometimes, I get right on the review as soon as I’ve finished the book.  Often, though, I finish a book and get right into the next one, which leaves me trying to remember the details of the previous book while filling my head with new plot and characters.  Too often, I find myself having to look back into books I’ve finished to accurately “remember” what happened.

Day Fourteen – My Rating System

In my reviews, I don’t have a rating system.  I either recommend the book or not.  In The Reading List, where I list the books I’ve read, I have a fairly simple system:

     XX – I recommend it to everyone
     X – I recommend it to fans of the genre and/or author
     No Xs – I don’t recommend it

 

BookBlogWriMo – Days Ten, Eleven, Twelve

BookBlogWriMo.  Book Blog Writing Month.  Created by “Book Bumblings” as a book bloggers’ version of NaNoWriMo.  I found it through “Shattered Hearts Reviews“.

Day Ten – Memes I Meme

Teaser Tuesday – The idea is that you open the book you’re reading to a pseudo-random page, pick two sentences from those pages, and provide a teaser, which shouldn’t provide any spoilers.  When Sunday or Monday night rolls around, I start looking for a couple sentences while I’m reading that would make a good teaser.

Flashy Fiction Friday – Well, I actually post the prompts for this one and don’t write stories for the prompts often enough.  The active site just moved from Blogger to WordPress.

Wednesday Poetry Prompts – Weekly prompts by Robert Lee Brewer on the writersdigest.com site.

#FridayFollows (on Twitter) – I got caught up in this a bit when I first got into Twitter a couple years ago.  The idea was that each Friday, you’d give a shout out to a handful of folks you were following.

#MorningMusic (on Twitter) – I don’t know that it’s a meme, but for many months now, I post a couple lines from one of the songs I’m listening to on the way to work using Tweetcaster.  [Yes, this is only done when I’m either stopped at lights or after I get to work.]  It posts to my Twitter feed and Facebook.  I get occasional likes, comments, and retweets.

I’ve participated in a number of Poem-A-Day (PAD) challenges and now BookBlogWriMo, none of which, I think, are quite memes.

Day Eleven – Most Popular Posts

As of 14 November 2014, these are the top ten posts on this blog.  A few of my pages (the homepage, writing background, The Reading List, and Favorite Writers) actually were in the overall top ten page hits, but I limited this list to only posts.  In order of popularity:

1.  “If you see it, darling, then it’s there.” – a quote by Freddie Mercury

The flamboyant front man of Queen on stage, who was much more reserved off stage, explaining what the lyrics of Queen’s songs mean.

2.  “Waiting was a sin” – A Quote from “Neverwhere” by Neil Gaiman

An excerpt from the dark story in which one of the characters thinks about waiting is a waste of time.

3.  “…it was a beginning”:  An excerpt from “The Eye of the World” by Robert Jordan

A short discussion of the cyclical nature of life in my favorite book series, The Wheel of Time.

4.  Ask Boromir – A Quote by R. A.. Salvatore

An excerpt from R.A. Salvatore’s “Why Fantasy?”, the Introduction to Philip Athans “The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction”, in which he talks about ethical/moral decisions made by characters in fantasy.

5.  Poem:  Better Off Me

A free verse poem about thinking it might be better to be someone else.

6.  Poem:  Like a Mojito…or Three

A shadorma (poetic form) about life being confusing.

7.  Poem:  Redemption

An American Haiku (not about nature)

8.  Review:  Gauntlgrym, Neverwinter Book I by R.A. Salvatore

9.  Review:  Neverwinter, The Neverwinter Saga, Book II by R.A. Salvatore

10.  Poems:  Day Thirty One & Sometimes It’s Better To Just Move On

A lune and a triolet (poetic forms) on the subject of moving on.

Day Twelve – Advice for Newbie Bloggers

As this is far from a highly visited blog –none of mine are, actually– I’m not sure I’m really the person to provide advice to newbies, especially those who are looking to see their number of followers hit stratospheric levels.  Here’s my short list of advice:

1.  Don’t write for the visitors, write for yourself.

2.  “Don’t let the bastards wear you down”

That’s from a mug I’ve had for years….and years…and years, but it’s great advice.  People love to trash people, to criticize them, especially if their writings, ideas, etc. are the least bit controversial or edgy.  Learn to separate good negative criticism (sounds like an oxymoron, right?) from a trashing.  You should welcome the negative and positive criticism and learn from both.

2.  Don’t chase the followers.

3.  Follow people whose writing/posts you might actually be interested in reading.

4.  If you want your numbers to grow, write more.  The more prolific you are, the more followers you’ll end up with.

5. Don’t chase the money.

If writing/blogging is your passion, do it because it’s your passion, not because you want to get rich.  If you take something you love to do and try to force it to make money for you, you’re more than likely going to get frustrated and lose your enthusiasm for it.  If you’re passionate, and good at writing, opportunities will present themselves…

which leads to my last bit of advice…

6.  Embrace life’s opportunities when they present themselves…and this includes writing/blogging.  The worst thing that can happen is that you fail, and, in doing so, you learn and grow.

BookBlogWriMo – Days Seven, Eight, Nine

BookBlogWriMo.  Book Blog Writing Month.  Created by “Book Bumblings” as a book bloggers’ version of NaNoWriMo.  I found it through “Shattered Hearts Reviews“.

WayBack Machine - PubWrite  1June2011Day Seven – WayBack Machine

The earliest instance that the WayBack Machine (web.archive.org/web/) has of this blog is from 1 June 2011, about a year after I started it.  Not a big deal since you can see from the image to the right of by clicking the link to the archive page that the look hasn’t changed.  I preview new themes now and again, but always end up leaving it as is.  This layout/theme works for what I want to present.

Day Eight – My Blogging Toolkit

I have a fairly small, but effective toolbox:

  • WordPress, which is the host for my blogs, and its associated mobile app.  I have also used Blogger and its app.
  • I rely heavily on Evernote, which I mentioned in a previous post in BookBlogWriMo. It’s a great tool for drafting up posts and jotting down ideas on the go.
  • Adobe Photoshop for manipulating graphics, when I use them
  • A number of writing prompt sites for inspiration:
  • A couple other sites that are of use:
    • Wikipedia helps check facts
    • Google is a great tool for a quick spelling or definition check. Often, I don’t even have to click any of the links that come up in the search results.

Day Nine – My Blogging Workflow

Workflow.  Hmmm…that implies process.  Of which I don’t really have one.  The closest thing I have is “copy a post” from one I previously used to get a quick template for the new post.  Sometimes I sit down and blast out a post in one sitting, but more often, I open a post multiple times, editing a bit here, adding a bit there, until I post it hours or days (or months) later.

 

 

BookBlogWriMo – Days Four, Five, Six

BookBlogWriMo.  Book Blog Writing Month.  Created by “Book Bumblings” as a book blogger’s version of NaNoWriMo.  I found it through “Shattered Hearts Reviews“.

Day Four – Why I Blog

Initially, I started this blog to make myself publicly…accountable, for lack of a better word, to my own writing. It didn’t really help. I didn’t write any more than I did without the blog. It did provide me a venue to share poems that I was writing, followed soon thereafter by flash fiction, in a single location after posting them to various blogs, which I continue to do today. As an avid reader, it also provides me a place for me to post reviews of books, as well as share quotes/excerpts from books and authors. In short, this blog now serves as a central location for me to post and track most things that have to do with my reading and writing.

Day Five – Where I Blog

Short answer: wherever I am when the urge strikes me. As I type the answer to this question, I am sitting in the waiting room at the dentist. I blog in the gym on the recumbent bike. I blog in the car waiting for soccer practices to end. Sometimes, I blog directly into the WordPress mobile app, sometimes I draft the post in Evernote, then copy it over to WordPress while on my laptop. The usual place I blog via laptop is on the couch, in the evenings, next to my wife, watching TV.  [Evernote, BTW, is a must-have app.  Even for the limited use I make of it, it’s a fantastic tool for creating and accessing my “notes” on the go.]

Day Six – Favorite Childhood Books

The Pokey Little Puppy by Janette Sebring LowreyBears in the Night by Stan & Jan BerenstainThe Cat in the Hat Comes Back by Dr. Seuss
I didn’t really read for leisure from some point in elementary school through most of high school. Sad, I know, but before I stopped reading, I had read through most of The Hardy Boys mysteries.

 

BookBlogWriMo – Days One, Two, Three

BookBlogWriMo.  Book Blog Writing Month.  Created by “Book Bumblings” as a book bloggers’ version of NaNoWriMo.  I decided a couple weeks ago to give this a shot after I found it through “Shattered Hearts Reviews“, then couldn’t find the link again.  It’s now the 10th of the month and I’m going to try to make up for lost time and then stay current with the posting.  So, without further ado, I’m going to cram the first three days posts into this one.

Day One – The History of Wanna Get Published, Write!

In June of 2010, I decided to blog about my writing experiences:  how my stories were coming, the trials and tribulations of trying to get them published, etc.  More than four years later, I still haven’t gotten anywhere with the story publishing, other than a little Flash Fiction, which is only published in that you can find it on this blog and in the comments of the writing prompts at various sites.  I have written many poems, posted here, as well as at poetry prompt sites.  I was lucky enough to be included in a great collection of poetry called “Beyond the Dark Room“, with the proceeds going to Doctors Without Borders.  I’ve added book reviews and quotes, among other things over the years, and like most things, there are periods of time where I write more than others.  I continue to dream that I’ll write a book someday, but life does have a way of making it difficult to find time to write.

Day Two – How I Read

I am an anti-eReader, and  prefer hardback over paperback.  I understand the benefit of the eReaders, especially when traveling, but they can’t adequately reproduce the feel, the intimacy of a physical book, especially that first opening of a hardback.  I love the smell, the feel of the pages as I run my fingers down them, turning them, one after another, the sound as the spine is cracked for the first time.  No electronic device can replace that.

As for technical books…web design, coding, etc., I still prefer to have the hardback-sized paperback versions that I can open in my lap while typing in the code, or sit back and read while doing the short exercises that my favorite series of tech books have in them.  I usually also access the electronic version of these online so that i can down load the errata and source code, if it’s extensive.

I suppose, as an aspiring writer, I should be more embracing of the e-publishing world.  It makes for a much cheaper way for writers to self-publish.  Hopefully, that won’t be my only path to publication, but before I can worry about that, I need to get busy on the writing front.

Day Three – Where I Read

Mostly, I read in “the Library”.  On trips, I’ll read in the living room, the bedroom, or wherever I find myself lounging about with my book, but at home, “the Library” serves as my man-cave…the place I get away for a bit of quiet.