A Nerdy New Year’s Resolution

Someone asked me last week if I had made a New Year’s resolution to read a certain number of books in 2017.

I said, “No, why would I? I like reading.”

Apparently, that was the wrong answer.

Looking back, I realize that I’ve always associated New Year’s resolutions with negative things, like breaking a certain habit or going on a diet. It has to be something difficult that you don’t want to do. Right? So why did I get a blank stare in response to my earlier statement.

Maybe it’s time for me to finally make my own New Year’s Resolution. And maybe it doesn’t have to be something that I don’t want to do. Maybe I can just try to push myself a little.

So what do y’all think? Should I set a resolution to read a certain number of books or write a certain number of pages next year? If so, what number do you thnk would challenge me? What is your nerdy goal for next year?

Thanks! And Happy almost New Year! 🙂

 

Who’s In Charge?

I’m going to have to “pick on” another one of my literary buddies. We are both just too opinionated about books. You see, he likes to talk about how old novels, Sci-Fi novels in particular, are the best and standards keep going down, because authors have started to cater to what readers want instead of trying to get across any deep, profound messages.

He has a good point. Popular literature has changed over the years, and that has to do largely with public tastes and current events. However, I think he is too quick to completely dismiss modern literature.

We’ve had countless conversations like this one. More than a few times, these conversations have hit a dead end with this question: Do authors impress messages on their readers, or is it the other way around?

This is an important question that I’ve about many times throughout my  life as a book lover. 

I think I can sum up my answer by how I responded to a post I recently read on Facebook. Apparently, someone was trying to blow everyone else’s minds with the fact that our government is similar to the government in the young adult dystopian series, The Hunger Games. They were shocked that people couldn’t see that focusing on the love triangle more than the harsh treatment that the main characters are faced with mirrors the attitude of the capitol dwellers.

One one hand, I’m impressed that someone is looking at it from that angle. On the other hand, I’ve always thought that was kind of the point of the book. The series takes some of the dangerous trends in today’s society a step farther to show everyone a society in peril. The author did that. However, if readers don’t pick up on that message and really take it to heart, then it doesn’t have real meaning. Authors bring their books, and their messages, to life, but it is readers who set the spark free and keep the story alive.

So I guess my answer to the above question has always been: Yes, to both. 🙂 It’s a crucial partnership. And I believe that’s true for every literary work, classic or modern.

What do y’all think?

Poetry About Books…Nothing Could Sound Sweeter

People have tried to ask me to write poetry before…None as persistent as one of my college writing professors. She did get me to write down a few. I’m not going to share those with you – you will thank me for that later – but I do remember reading a lot of beautiful poetry in that classroom.

Of course, the ones that stayed with the most are the ones about books and writing. So here are a few of my favorites:

There is no Frigate like a Book By Emily Dickinson

There is no Frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away
Nor any Coursers like a Page
Of prancing Poetry.
This Traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of Toll;
How frugal is the Chariot
That bears the Human Soul!

I Opened a Book By Julia Donaldson

I opened a book and in I strode.
Now nobody can find me.
I’ve left my chair, my house, my road,
My town and my world behind me.

I’m wearing the cloak, I’ve slipped on the ring,
I’ve swallowed the magic potion.
I’ve fought with a dragon, dined with a king,
And dived in a bottomless ocean.

I opened a book and made some friends.
I shared their tears and laughter
And followed their road with its bumps and bends
To the happily ever after.

I finished my book and out I came.
The cloak can no longer hide me.
My chair and my house are just the same,
But I have a book inside me.

Good Books By Edgar Guest

Good books are friendly things to own.
If you are busy they will wait.
They will not call you on the phone
Or wake you if the hour is late.
They stand together row by row,
Upon the low shelf or the high.
But if you’re lonesome this you know:
You have a friend or two nearby.

The fellowship of books is real.
They’re never noisy when you’re still.
They won’t disturb you at your meal.
They’ll comfort you when you are ill.
The lonesome hours they’ll always share.
When slighted they will not complain.
And though for them you’ve ceased to care
Your constant friends they’ll still remain.

Good books your faults will never see
Or tell about them round the town.
If you would have their company
You merely have to take them down.
They’ll help you pass the time away,
They’ll counsel give if that you need.
He has true friends for night and day
Who has a few good books to read.

Partial submission by Louise Carson

I thought of mailing you a paper-clip
then thought again
for surely you must have some
in a similar small green tray
or palm-sized round jar (on its lid
a scene of camels, desert, sun)
or in a drawer, a chain
of collected shining metal wealth.

So I removed the strangely precious thing
and mailed these poems
loose
in a brown envelope of pain.
When you receive them,
you can add your own.

As you can probably tell, because I’ve told you so, I didn’t write these. I just wanted to make that clear. I think there is something so beautiful about poetry that I will never be able to capture in prose. It’s a cross between a song and a story. I have a deep admiration for all poets. I feel that although we do not speak the same language, we might speak a similar one, and so if you need a friendly ear just give me a ring and say, “Jolly Good Day!” and I will say “Hello!” and we can be writing friends.

🙂 Yep, that’s as close to anything as “poetic language” as you’ll probably get from me. 

Are there any poets out there who wouldn’t mind sharing some of their favorite poetry?

Editing with Caution

Have any of you ever had problems when collaborating on writing projects? How do you aproach them?

I know we all have memories of that class that always involved group projects, or that one person who made you do all the work. I was that person who just didn’t belong in groups. I firmly believed that I workd better flying solo, and I still do.

No, I’m not talking about school assignments.  

When do you draw the line for right vs. wrong on creative writing projects. I’ve taken writing classes, writing workshops, and I even went to a writing camp one summer. You think I would have gottn used to things like this. It’s not that I don’t like hearing what other people have to say. It’s just…it’s my creation. My world. If you’re a writer, you’ll understand.

editing-essays-go-colleg

Image Credit: http://www.gocollege.com

Now I’m on the other side. I have attained my dream job – editing books – and I’m still wracked with nerves every time I contact authors. I usually say something like this more than once: “I want to help you bring your book to the next level.”

And I do. I want to colalborate with authors, but it’s hard not to worry that I come across as sounding very un-humble like ( 😉 ). I try my hardest to look at works objectively, but not at the expense of becoming a teacher. I remember getting pages back covered in red ink. I don’t want to be that person. (Apparently, my computer feels the same way. It has decided that my edits will show up in blue, not red.) 

I’m not sure what answers I would get back if I asked my fellow workers if this feeling eases. I’d like to think that they’d tell me that, with practice, I’ll be able to breathe easier. Only time will tell, I suppose. 

But I don’t really expect that my thoughts will change much. It’ll take some confidence, some experience, but more than anything, it will take trust on both sides. Being asked to collaborate with someone else on their book feels almost like walking on sacred ground – one must proceed with care. I intend to do just that.

In the meantime, I thought it didn’t hurt to ask … Does anyone have any experience with collaboration?

 

Quotes for the Mystery Lover’s Soul

I don’t often read mystery books. However, I did grow up with a mystery lover, so I have a deep respect for the genre. I’ve pulled quotes from some well-loved mystery writers. I hope y’all enjoy! And please let me know if you can point me toward some great mystery reads.

  1. When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. —The Sign of Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  2. It is a curious thought, but it is only when you see people looking ridiculous that you realize just how much you love them. –Agatha Christie’s Autobiography
  3. The problem with putting two and two together is that sometimes you get four, and sometimes you get twenty-two. —The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett
  4. There is no trap so deadly as the trap you set for yourself. —Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler
  5. I’m alone and outgunned, scared and inexperienced, but I’m right. —The Rainmaker by John Grisham
  6. As a poet and as a mathematician, he would reason well; as a mere mathematician, he could not have reasoned at all. —The Purloined Letter by Edgar Allan Poe
  7. Happiness is not a possession to be prized, it is a quality of thought, a state of mind. —Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  8. No sensible man ever engages, unprepared, in a fencing match of words with a woman. —The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
  9. “Footprints?” / “Footprints.” / “A man’s or a woman’s?” / Dr. Mortimer looked strangely at us for an instant, and his voice sank almost to a whisper as he answered: / “Mr. Holmes, they were the footprints of a gigantic hound!” —The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  10. Shame was an emotion he had abandoned years earlier. Addicts know no shame. You disgrace yourself so many times you become immune to it. —The Testament by John Grisham
  11. The sense of unhappiness is so much easier to convey than that of happiness. In misery we seem aware of our own existence, even though it may be in the form of a monstrous egotism: this pain of mine is individual, this nerve that winces belong to me and to no other. But happiness annihilates us: we lose our identity. —The End of the Affair by Graham Greene
  12. I was as hollow and empty as the spaces between stars. —The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler
  13. My way of learning is to heave a wild and unpredictable monkey-wrench into the machinery. —The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
  14. You’ve learned that every good lie is threaded with truth and every accepted truth leaks lies. –Dennis Lehane
  15. The impossible  could not have happened, therefore the impossible must be possible in spite of appearances. —Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
  16. “Not altogether a fool,” said G., “but then he’s a poet, which I take to be only one remove from a fool.” / “True,” said Dupin, after and long and thoughtful whiff from his meerschaum, “although I have been guilty of certain doggerel myself.” —The Purloined Letter by Edgar Allen Poe
  17. But it is impossible to go through life without trust; that is to be imprisoned in the worse cell of all, oneself. —The Ministry of Fear by Graham Greene
  18. He felt like somebody had taken the lid off life and let him see the works. —The Maltese Falcom by Dashiell Hammett
  19. There is nothing more stimulating than a case where everything goes against you. —The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  20. Innocence is a kind of insanity. —The Quiet American by Graham Greene
  21. When witnesses concoct lies, they often miss the obvious. –The Testament by John Grisham
  22. Writers should be read, but neither seen nor heard. –Daphne du Maurier

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Traditions

Ah, I love holiday traditions 🙂 . Don’t you?

When I was younger, I used to love it when classes would settle down at the end of the year. Homework and tests would be forgotten. Everyone would bring food and candy as a last day treat. Teachers would roll in the televisions. It was magical. But wait…something is missing.

That’s right. My favorite thing about classes around the holidays – beside the candy 🙂 – were the books!

Do you remember when you were in elementary school and they would round up all of the holiday books for you to read? I do. It was like a vacation for my reading muscles. I got to rediscover all of my favorite holiday books.


I used to love putting aside my reading list, and perhaps elbowing a few of my classmates out of the way, for these classics:

Junie B. Jones and the Mushy Gushy Valentine by Barbara Park

Amelia Bedelia Talks Turkey by Herman Parish

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

Benjamin’s Box by Melody Carlson

*This one was a part of my family library, but it still counts as one of my holiday favorites.


Just thinking about the upcoming holiday season makes me itch to go scout the library shelves for these books, but a sad part of me says that I probably won’t enjoy them like I used to.

*Sigh* I guess my holiday reading is truly in the past. Unless…

Unless there are some bookish adults out there that know of some good adult-y holiday classics. How about it? You want to help a Dragon out? What holidays books are you reading this season?

And while you’re at it, why don’t you take a trip down memory lane. What was your favorite holiday book/movie when you were a kid?