Friday, January 22, 2010

A Background Check

A few of my followers wanted some clarification on how I choose my books.  So here's the low down.

I counted all the unread books on my shelf and made a list.  As I read and review a book I track the date and the rating I gave it and what happened to it.  The number of books on the list will go up and down since family and friends send me new books periodically that they think I might enjoy.  When I finish one book I draw the next title from a hat.  That way I can't show any preference of one title over another.  I believe that I have so many unread books because the appeal a book may have had when I bought it faded quickly and was too easily replaced by a flashier or more current title.  By drawing the title randomly, I can no longer show favorites.

I can with fair degree of certainty tell how and why each unread book came to me.  Don't ask me why I can do that, I just can.  I must have some kind of photographic memory when it comes to my beloved books.   Following the 12 steps has helped me understand the power of a book over my psyche.  I'm still a novice at the 12 steps but they have power over many of my other faults as well.

I fiercely believe in recycling books.  I have a pretty extensive list of people and places that are happy to have anything I send them.  My sister and I trade books on a regular basis.  My niece, Becky will read anything and everything.  She then shares the books with her friends.  A high school teacher in Ohio, Courtney, keeps a library for her students.  She doesn't care what they read, only that they read.  I happily contribute to the collection.   The list goes on.

I hope and pray that something good will come of my circulation of reading material.   Doors will be opened, creativity sparked, lives changed for the better.  I have a good feeling about it. 

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Summons to New Orleans by Barbara Hall

This book came to me via my friend, April.  I believe that the author is a friend of hers.  Knowing that I'm an author myself, she lent it to me.  It's been on my shelf for over six months.  A newbie in comparison to many others. 
It pains me to say, since the book is written by a friend of a friend,  I didn't really like this story at all.  Nora is the most believable character of them all.  But even she is a bit strange.  A taxi driver, Leo saves her from being mugged.  It turns out he was in love with Poppy, Nora's college friend.  Both of the women have been summoned to New Orleans for what they think is a vacation.  Instead it's to support Simone at her rape trial.  I couldn't sympathize with Simone because there was nothing about her that made me feel she'd been raped.  She was going to go home even before a verdict was reached.  And the whole story line that Poppy was crazy and that her father had buried a baby in the basement of their home was too over the top in the scheme of things.  Even more so when she dug up cat bones instead.
Poppy's estranged husband, Adam was so flat that in the end maybe Nora deserved him.  The characters were uninteresting and disjointed from the entire story.
I'll rate this one 2 out of 5 books and it's on its way back to April 

Friday, January 15, 2010

My Progress

I appear to be doing pretty well with step number one.  Each morning when I wake and each night before I go to sleep I say to myself, "I am powerless over books and my life has become unmanageable."  I think it's helping.
I haven't been tempted to hang out in a bookstore lately.  Maybe that's because I'm working part-time now.  Less free time to fill.  I did find myself browsing the book section at Wal-Mart the other day.  Luckily it doesn't have nearly the sensual appeal of Books-A-Million.
I received a book in the mail from my sister called "Juicy Pens Thirsty Paper".  I'm anxious to read it but it means I have to add it to the pile of unread books.  The number just got larger instead of smaller.  Where is the step that says 'Beware of enablers'?
I feel that it's time to move on to step two.  'I came to believe that a Power greater than myself could restore me to sanity'.  I think God's got his work cut out for Him! 

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Homesick Creek by Diane Hammond

Homesick Creek came to me after being recommended by Leigh Anne Jasheway.  Leigh Anne critiqued a manuscript of mine at last summer's Willamette Writer's Conference.  She didn't like my manuscript much especially since I practically fell asleep in her lap.  At the end of three long days of learning, pitching and socializing I was pretty well beat.  Leigh Anne told me that Homesick Creek was a wonderful study in character development.  I took her advice on this one and I'm glad I did.
Homesick Creek is the story of unlikely characters thrown together in the wet, foggy soup of the Pacific Northwest.  I knew from the beginning Hauk was hiding something, but what?  Early on I learned Bob's shocking secret and watched him carefully hide it from the rest of the world.  Bunny thinks Hauk is hiding something else from her not knowing the real truth.  Anita loves Bob so much she's blinded by what is going on around her.
Slowly the author peels back the components of each player.  I felt Bunny's jealousy of Rae Macy and Rae's frustration of living in a place that she felt was far beneath her.  Anita tried desperately to keep her family as a unit amid poverty and Bob's lack of ambition.  These characters were real with real emotions.  I felt them in each breath they took.  Leigh Anne is right.
I rate Homesick Creek as 5 out of 5 books.  It's a captivating story told in a captivating way.  I think I'll keep this one of the shelf a while and use it to improve my own character development.  I know my writing will thank me for it.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year 2010

Happy New Year!!
I thought all of you might want to start 2010 with an exercise that I have already completed.
How many unread books do you have on your shelf?  Count them.  Be honest with yourself.  Count half read books or don't.  That's up to you.  I think I'll find that I'm not alone.
I have 76.  My sister Susan has 96 on her shelf.  My sister Martha says she has less than ten.  She told me some story about moving when we were kids and our mother told us we could only keep two books.  She hasn't been able to keep a book since.  Obviously Susan and I missed that event in our childhood memories.
A friend wrote in a Christmas card that if I could go an entire year without buying a book, she'd salute me because she already knows she couldn't do it herself.  How many unread books might she find on her shelves?  I'm poised and ready for her salute!!
Count your books.  Let me know what you come up with.  Maybe there will be a prize for the winner.
Happy New Year.

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