Thursday, May 31, 2012

Reviews of Self-Editing and First Five Pages

I do owe some reviews, so here are two on recent writing-help books I’ve read. 

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Brown and Dave King
8 out of 10

I think I saw the recommendations, liked the title, yet the title set different expectations in me.  Not the authors’ fault.  It’s a good book.  They give clear examples of each chapter’s topic. 

The kind of book I was looking for was how do I make it easier to find my own mistakes?  When I reread something I wrote I usually know exactly what I meant to say.  I also don’t always see the little errors that like when I repeat words in the same sentence, I sometimes use a similar sounding word, when I know which the right one, or quirky little things that are based on the way I talk.

The First Five Pages, A Writer’s Guide to Staying out of the Rejection Pile by Noah Lukeman
9 out of 10

All good stuff in here, and I have to say anyone who enjoys Notes from the Underground by Dostoyevsky too certainly earns five stars from me :^)

What’s this book about?  It’s help to grab the attention of an agent, editor or reader on the first page to get them to turn it to the second, then the third.

And it’s about getting the right attention, not like the student who scribbled ‘don’t fale me’ smiley-face on their test as a note to the teacher.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


I’ve read a couple more books that I should blog about, and in the interest of procrastinating, I will explain why I’m reading what I’m reading.

I’ve already complained about the fabulousness of goodreads.  I get on goodreads and end up adding more books to my ‘to-read’ shelf, and now it has over a hundred books. Working the day job, working the part-time job, and editing The End of the World Sucks, take up a bit of time so that hundred books will probably not decrease.

The other problem is my local public library.  I live in a one-mile square town, which they call a city, and the library’s not that big.  The old building it was in was smaller, but the empty shelves in the new space have been filled.  Also, living in a small place means that their budget is what their budget is.  

Before I get to the problem, let me say that the size of the children’s section is as large as adult library, so kudos to that.  Also, on the adult side, the Young Adult section has grown tremendously.  I’m especially impressed with the growth of the Young Adult section because my library is located between the city high school and middle school – one building, three distinct entrances.  Good stuff.

Anyway, knowing the limitations of size and money, I don’t mind waiting to receive a book through the interlibrary loan program. When the state cut funding for that program, it is one of the two times I called Gov. Christie’s office to voice my objection.  Funding was restored (I doubt my call alone did it, but getting what I asked for both times means I don’t have any tirades against Chris Christie).

Things were great again at the library, and I was getting my interlibrary loans.  Then, I had trouble finding anything from goodreads last month, so I asked for interlibrary loan slips and got a reply of ‘it’s $1.00 per book requested’.  Huh?  Am I in my town’s free public library asking to borrow a book?  They've sort of set it up that a patron would need interlibrary loans to read a complete series - for example, they own books 1 & 5 of The Game of Thrones series. 

It’s only a dollar, but if I pay it that commits me to wanting to like a book, and being overly critical if I am disappointed.  For now, I’ll stick to the mainstream books available there, and start scoping out libraries in another program that allow me to borrow books in-person from their library through a reciprocal borrowing priviledge – though not all have their card catalogs on-line, including my home town. 

This also leads me back to the quandary of why I started writing.  I was laid off from my job, while online much of the day, I went back to reading fan fiction.  Reading fan fiction, I found some stories great but others lacking, and so I started writing something I’d like to read.  About a million words later, I got a full-time job again.  Then I heard about NaNoWriMo, and thought 50,000 words, no problem.  It’s a mixed blessing, if I had more to read, then I wouldn’t write so much – there’s also the chance that I might be writing something similar to another book unknowingly.

UPDATE JULY 10:  My local library is no longer charging $1 per book for interlibrary loans as of July 1st.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Sick Cats

I’m busy in a depressing way. 

Still working as a contractor – so that’s good.  And my part-time job is scheduling me for distant jobs.  Don’t work – don’t get paid.

Last week one of my foster kitties developed an odd problem.  He was listless, lying around, and his back legs were shaking.  I was upset recalling how two young brothers I had died separately from heart failure in the past year and a half.  It was very painful to them.

A steroid shot and antibiotics cleared up my mama’s boy after a few days, but I don’t know what kind of infection it could be.  Contagious?  His three brothers that still live with me are fine.

And then my own cat, a large senior tuxedo, had a swollen bottom lip on one side, with gum swelling and discoloration.  They extracted some teeth, put a stitch in where a canine was removed, and gave me antibiotics and pain medication to give him while I waited a week for a pathology report.  The sudden swelling could be caused by an infection on top of a tumor in his jaw.

The pathology came back as only a bad infection, and I need to take his crankiness back to get the stitch removed.  He’s been crying at night – he’s the only one in my house that meows that deep.