Kindle. KINDLE. Kiiiindle!

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Thundercats, hooo!

I couldn’t resist. Has anyone watched the revamped cartoon? It’s actually pretty good. I kind of love it. Anyway.

Guys. You guys. I got a KINDLE. Oh man! I finally (gleefully) jumped on the eReader bandwagon, after months of deliberation which ended up being kind of a no brainer, because eReader = moar books. It’s not like having one bars me from buying actual books, it just means I will never ever in my life ever run out of things to read and I won’t run the risk of turning my living quarters into an episode of Hoarders: Book Edition.

I also had a birthday coming up, so I conveniently did not have to pay for it. So I waited months and months for June to get here, tried to make a dent in my TBR pile, which I knew would get laughably huge as soon as that Kindle Touch was in my possession. And then my birthday came last week, and it was THERE, in my lil gift bag!

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I spent three days just filling it and filling it, mainly with the freebies and cheapies, since – let’s be honest, I’m friggin broke a lot of the time because I’m trying to be good and not spend all the monies I should be saving. I quickly found out it is WAY to easy to hit that buy button and not think about it depleting my bank account. So I have a lot of classics I’ve never read on there (Sherlock Holmes, The Jungle, H.G. Wells, Vonnegut, and so many more I’m embarrassed to admit I haven’t read yet) some YA that is clearly self published, hoo boy.

I have a number of books in my to-read list I looked up at the kindle store, and my word, they were still pretty pricey. It kind of amazes me how expensive some of the eBooks are, and it’s like forget it – I’ll buy it used. I don’t want to break the bank with my Kindle, no matter how convenient it is. So I have it now, and I enjoy it, but you better believe I’m still buying physical books. I just bought a bunch from Better World Books which I highly recommend, especially if you’re buying used. For every book you buy, they donate a book through various organizations for kids and such. It’s really affordable, and they don’t even charge shipping. So while I love how handy the Kindle is, I think it’s cool that it coexists nicely with my heap o’ books.

I’ve never given much thought to the idea of eBooks trampling all over physical books and taking their place like a wicked stepmother steamrolling over the beloved, lost forever mom. There are way too many book lovers who prefer having a book in their hands for that. I love flipping the pages, writing notes in the margin as I read, marking my favorite quotes. I love the book smell, the gorgeous cover art sitting on my bookshelf instead of on a little screen. I’ll never stop buying actual books, I’ll just get choosier about what I’m willing to store on the Kindle and what I have to have on my shelves.

My question, you Kindle, Nook, and eReader owners, is: what books do you find you prefer having physical copies of, and what do you load on your eReaders? I find that yeah, some of my guilty pleasure reads go on the Kindle, and books I would’ve passed on had they not been so cheap. I’m noticing that I download a lot of genre fiction on there. I think I’ll always buy physical copies from small, independent presses, because I feel like I’m better supporting the authors that way. I’m going to Printers Row Lit Fest in Chicago this weekend – my first time ever, I am so excited – and I am going to buy so many books, dear Lord help me show some some restraint.

So what tends to stay on your shelves, and what books better serve your literary needs in e-format? Do any of you double up on a particular novel? Are y’all as stoked as I am that Thundercats is coming back for a second season?

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Yeah, you totally are. I can tell.

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Teaser Tuesdays

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Hosted by Should Be Reading

It’s Tuesday! It’s gorgeous out, I’m stuck at work, but it sure looks pretty outside those windows! I’m dreadfully behind on…well, everything, including this blog. It’s been awhile since I’ve done a proper post, even though those ideas are a-cookin’. I have a few reviews to sit down and write, too. But no worries – I love the beautiful weather we’ve been having so much it’s hard to get worked up over anything.

Now. Teaser! This one comes from A Note of Madness, by Tabitha Suzuma.

‘A silence. The brass clock ticked loudly. Why had they covered the piano with a sodding green cloth? They might just as well have sold it for firewood if they hated it so much.’ – 113

Hmm. I know Flynn, the main character, is something of a piano prodigy, and struggling with depression. Having only just started it, I’m looking forward to this one.

Happy reading, everyone!

Teaser Tuesdays

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Hosted by: Should Be Reading

Today’s teaser comes from a book I started over the weekend, during my bout of hands down the worst flu bug I’ve ever had. Just walking over to the computer today and typing out words has me a little lightheaded, but I can’t tell if that’s from the flu or excitement that I’m actually doing something and my body can’t even handle it. The book is titled Before I Go to Sleep, by S.J. Watson.

“I looked at the man in the car. He, or someone like him, did this to me. Robbed me of everything. Robbed me even of myself. Yet there he was, still living.” – 129

I’m really enjoying this book so far. I have no idea what’s going on, and I’m just as lost and on edge as the main character, so it’s a fun one. I’ve been told I will never see the end coming, so I’m kind of excited.

Book Review: A Certain Slant of Light

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Helen is Light; a spirit forced to haunt hosts, with no memory of her former life, or how to end her punishment to never participate, or touch, speak, or experience anything, but to watch. Her solace is books, hosts whose love of literature matches her own. While haunting her current host, a high school English teacher, she discovers a boy who can see her. Drawn to him, amazed that they can speak, she finds he is like her, of the Quick; only he found a way to inhabit an empty body. In their struggle to be together as well as recall the secrets of their former lives, Helen seeks out a host, and the consequences are more than they anticipated.

A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb made my heart ache long after I finished the last page. I adored it to my core, even as I found myself queasy and frustrated with some of the choices the characters made. The language was beautiful, carefully chosen, filled with perfectly woven metaphors and analogies that were fresh and vivid. The writing wasn’t overly complicated, but it didn’t need to be; it told me the story in bursts of imagery and emotion that my mind immediately latched onto.

Helen is a wonderful narrator. The first third of the book, her loneliness as she hovered in the background of the lives of those she haunted was so sad and compelling. I appreciated the way she categorized her hosts, just as I appreciated her deep love of literature and how it shaped the path she took herself on through each host she cleaved to. At the introduction of Helen’s Saint, I immediately thought of Emily Dickinson, before I made the connection that the title of the book is the title of a Dickinson poem. Even if it turns out she’s not meant to be Emily Dickinson, I don’t even care; my head canon tells me otherwise. Helen’s thirst for books and her longing for real relationships, as well as her inability to understand why she was forced to drift unnoticed or how she got there, made her easy to empathize with. I badly wanted her to find answers, and achieve peace. I liked how she tried to inspire and comfort her hosts, trying to work off an unknown debt, hoping one day she’ll be allowed into Heaven. I was able to piece together her age through choice words she used, quaint antiquated phrases like ‘marriage bed,’ ‘this chimney sweep of a boy,’ and her lamenting over silent movies and courting rituals.

James’ and Helens’ relationship unfurled sweetly while she was still a ghost, and I enjoyed the ghost within the boy reaching out to Helen, trying to think of a way for her to join him. They’re so clearly not of this time, and it’s highlighted beautifully in the way they speak to one another. James tells her, ‘I would be a friend to you,’ ‘I long to speak with you again,’ and ‘I would court you with a passion, if things were different. You’d never get me off your porch swing.’ Helen is so distraught for James when she finds out he didn’t haunt hosts, like she did, but rather a place; at least Helen had her books, her poets and playwrights.

The first hiccup in the story for me was their method of going about finding an ‘empty vessel’ for Helen. I didn’t think such a thing would be so easy; how many soulless people wander about? Are they truly soulless? What animates them? I wish there had been more of an explanation for why souls fled their bodies other than deep emotional or physical trauma, especially in regards to where those souls would go and how the body keeps functioning. Autopilot? James taking Helen to the mall and finding the girl seemed far too easy. Because clearly, all one has to do to find a soulless vacuum of a person is to stop by your local mall.

…Well. I suppose you could build an argument for that.

I also found it uncomfortable when Helen and James were together as Billy and Jenny. It felt like a violation of sorts, since Billy and Jenny clearly could not consent to having their bodies used that way. I can understand how the two Light, so far removed from the experience of living, were overcome with the desire to consummate the first true connection either had made in over half a century, but it still felt a little wrong. All I could think of was the potential consequences when Helen and James were done with those bodies and the teenagers returned. I waited for Helen to feel weird about it, and she finally did feel sorry once faced with tangible items from Jenny’s past; that this girl was not always an empty vessel. Although Helen’s wonder at little things, like holding a cup, eating a pear, walking and dressing herself, was very cute.

The girl Helen inhabits has a drastically different home life than James’, as Billy, living situation. Curiously, I was not as bothered by Billy’s home situation despite how terribly wrong it went as I was by Jenny’s. Mitch, while rough and abrasive, clearly does his best to support himself and Billy, and loves his brother. That same love is present in Jenny’s household, but everything is…stifled. Oppressive. It struck an even deeper chord in me, and I read with dread how Helen’s new life was micromanaged, examined under a microscope, judged constantly and found wanting for even speaking out of turn, and religiously oppressed by ridiculously strict parents. I read and waited for an axe to fall, for Helen to slip up, just as surely as Helen waited for that moment, when her good fortune at finally being with James would get soiled somehow. And it surely did.

I loved the fact that Helen did not forget her connection with Mr. Brown, her novelist, when she became Quick. I hurt for her when she lost him, and then when she tried again and again to connect with him as Jenny, because she missed the father like figure she had and craved any kind of comfort while living in the sterile environment of Jenny’s home. Of course, I didn’t anticipate at all how that would end up looking, and I was horrified and upset for both of them. I couldn’t believe the story went there; it was a bold choice. I’m slightly bitter knowing Mr. Brown’s reputation might not ever be the same, no matter what Helen tried to do to take that off of him.

The entire last third of the book, my heart was thundering. I couldn’t see how Helen and James could fix the awful situations they found themselves in. It was nice to see Helen’s veneer crack with Jenny’s parents, to see her finally confront the hypocrisy, yet try to reach out to her pseudo mother with kindness, recognizing another broken, stifled spirit. There’s a lot to be said about the act of forgiveness in this novel and how powerful it really is. Also – I totally called Dan out the minute Helen smelled gardenias. I was so proud when she showed some backbone at that ladies party and again at the counselor’s office.

On a final note (because I could seriously go on and on about this book), I absolutely picked it up for its cover. That cover art is gorgeous, eerie, and really set the tone for the novel. I looked up the artist, and I highly recommend checking out Kamil Vojnars’ other work here. The atmosphere in that artwork gives me chills.

I give A Certain Slant of Light four out of five apples.

Favorite quotes:

“On my Saint’s final day, I hoped so passionately that she would take me with her into heaven that I lay in bed beside her, listening to her breathe.” – 7

“When his mind would dry before a poem was complete, I would take great pleasure in speaking ideas into his sleeping ear. Like Coleridge with his vision of paradise restored, he would wake the next morning and turn my straw ideas into golden lines.” – 10

“Like a desert wanderer afraid of mirages, I gazed at my oasis, but he was real.” – 21

“Mitch got up, battle weary, aching with the weight of his armor.” – 101

“I began to cry, sobbing into my hands and, to my surprise, making tears, the salt of a forgotten sea.” – 118

“The whole kitchen had a peculiar cleanliness about it. Except for the pears, every morsel of food was sealed away from the world…Cathy’s kitchen seemed to treat food with suspicion. I preferred even Billy’s untidy kitchen to this strange room. At least at Billy’s house, a mouse could survive for a night or two.” – 126

“I wondered whether this was how Jenny left her body behind – one day she had to escape so she threw a blanket over her flesh and gently climbed out.” – 233

Book Review: John Dies at the End

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David Wong and his best friend John are slacker college dropouts who find themselves the unwilling saviors of the world from evil forces beyond our understanding (theirs, too). The suck at it pretty bad but, you know, they try. Some new drug called soy sauce gives its users the ability to do really cool, bizarre things like time travel, know really obscure information about people, and dimension hop. It also uses the person as a portal to allow things from the other side to enter our world. John Dies at the End chronicles David and John’s completely messed up journey of discovering just how nasty their new enemy is, and trying to figure out how the hell a couple of twenty somethings are supposed to defeat evil incarnate.

They do not know. At all. Ever. But dammit, they try, because nobody likes it when people try to come through the television.

This book was the closest I’ll ever come to a trippy acid experience. It’s sheer lunacy on every other page, and I enjoyed every minute of it. I understand now why a lot of people say it’s hard to summarize what happens in this book without sounding like you’re out of touch with reality. The book is basically David’s recount of past events to a reporter who thinks he’s full of shit. David as a narrator is pretty fantastic. Sometimes unreliable, but bitingly sarcastic, self deprecating and self aware, and hilarious. I enjoyed viewing the story out of his headspace. He’s a bit of a coward, except when he’s not and doesn’t give himself enough credit, has a love hate relationship with his best friend, and genuinely tries to do the right thing most of the time.

There’s some much unbelievable WTFery going on, and it’s so over the top that you just can’t even believe what you’re reading, but you’re kind of laughing because it is so over the top…until you realize how gross it actually is. I just kind of went with it after awhile, and the characters basically did, too. David and John became so blase towards the paranormal goings on around them that their lack of reaction was funny in and of itself. ‘Oh, the dog imploded? Whateves. There’s a giant floating jellyfish hanging out in someone’s bedroom? We’ll deal with that later. Cockroach man driving my car away? NOTHIN’ BETTER HAPPEN TO THAT CAR, ALL I’M SAYIN.’

I haven’t laughed that much since reading Good Omens. The horror was so kitschy yet grotesque that you’re just chuckling uncomfortably, like this shouldn’t be funny, and on some level you’re really disturbed and grossed out, but that nervous laughter keeps bubbling up.

I also enjoyed the fact that I really didn’t know what to expect. I could not guess what would happen next (sure as hell didn’t see wig monsters coming), who was going to die, what was going to explode or visit the characters any time of the day. I also didn’t know what obscure little reference or weird…thing might be important later, so I absorbed everything, and it paid off. I felt David’s paranoia at being constantly watched, not knowing where the shadow people were or who was compromised by the other side, having no one to confide in except his batshit crazy best friend. Since it was so campy (Meat monsters. Phone bratwurst. Elton John and Co. Jellyfish. Kittens. Molly.) there weren’t a lot of genuine scares, but there were a few solid creepy moments that struck a chord. Waking up knowing you lost an entire night – with no recollection of what you did or where you went – has to be a bone chilling experience. And I can’t talk about the television.

The characters were fully fleshed out people; deeply flawed, funny, with just the right pinch of heroism to make you root not just for their survival, but their happiness. We all know someone like John; hell, I dated someone like him. At first I didn’t understand why David hung out with him, since he was such an astounding screwup, but I got it the further I read. He’s the friend you feel a little responsible for, that you can’t shake because you really care about them even when you want to punch them in the face. Who might be the only friend you have. I liked how there’s no blatant info dumps on any one character. Amy was kind of refreshing, and the relationship that blossomed between her and David was unexpected and rather sweet. David’s background was revealed slowly, peeled back bit by bit through occasional self reflection and relayed to other characters when he was good and ready to tell them.

I give this marvelously messed up book five out of five Wig Monsters.

Favorite quotes:

“I’m a retired priest. Did you know that?”

John asked, “Are you one of those priests who can shoot lasers out of their eyes? Because that would be really helpful right now.” – 164

“On an evening a few weeks later, I was driving home from work with one thought cycling through my brain: I would go to the grocery store, buy a pie, and just eat the whole thing. In one sitting. A whole pie.” – 197

“Well,” I said. “Nothing to do now but wander the fuck into that abandoned building, totally unarmed.” – 224

“She broke it,” John said. “Like a fever. It passed from you into her, but it couldn’t live in her.”

He turned his attention to the girl.

“How do you feel?”

“Like I could sleep for a thousand years.” – 244

He said, “You think it was like the thing with Danny Wexler? The demon thing we ran into at the mall?”

At the mall, he says. Like we saw it folding pants at American Eagle. – 286

“And watch out for Molly. See if she does anything unusual. There’s something I don’t trust about the way she exploded and then came back from the dead like that.” – 312

I read a small excerpt from a Teaser Tuesday a few weeks ago that I didn’t understand revolving around Ronald McDonald, but OH. OH, I UNDERSTAND.

I know all about Ronald McDonald’s eyes now. *shudders*

A procrastinator defying her nature

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Everyone’s busy. Everybody has something going on all the time, be it work, kids, weekend activities, errands, personal issues, illness, so on and so forth and whatnot. I’m going to narrow down this pool to the group of people that try to cram in writing and all things book related on top of it.

I’m a huge procrastinator. It SUCKS, y’all. I try extra hard to defy my lazy nature so I can pretend at being a productive member of society, and I think I’ve just about fooled everyone. Even with keeping constantly busy, sometimes I just can’t – I crave solitary down time, since I’m also, by nature, a bit of a recluse. I don’t even know how way more productive bloggers and writers do what they do everyday.

I basically just want to express my admiration for those that devote so much of their free time to this beautiful craft, and acknowledge how hard it can be. I’m having one of those exhausting Mondays, where I’m thinking of how I’m going to fit in everything I need to do writerly wise after work, but it will somehow get done, because I love it, and I need it. And I can’t be the only one who has these mild freak outs, that when you get off work and all you want to do is sleep but NO, oh no my dear, you have letters to write, reviewers to contact, manuscripts to critique and/or edit, you better power nap sister, it’s only 5:30!

The interns at publishing companies who love their craft so much they live and breathe it outside of school and work and what have you, the entry levels like me whose main goal in life is to learn, learn, learn, read and write and edit and improve and it eats up every ounce of free time, but we LOVE it. The book bloggers faithfully dishing out excellent book reviews on a weekly, if not daily basis, who do Q & A’s with their favorite authors, take the time to explore novels from smaller publishers, and help spread book love with their honest enthusiasm. To small publishers who sacrifice so much to do right by new authors they’re willing to take a chance on, when no one else would. To readers who post reviews and support their favorite authors. To writers who work full time jobs and still publish amazing work on the side, and they’ve got kids and commitments and overtime and soccer games and community stuff and homes to run and a thousand chores, and they’re exhausted at the end of the night but they STILL plop their butts in a chair and write, or blog, or edit. Sometimes I feel like people who don’t write have little understanding of just how hard it can be, when the muse has gone missing (mine likes to hit up nightclubs and come home smashed at dawn, hungover and useless for the rest of the day, sleeping it off when I actually need it) and trying to force it out just feels gross and you’re not just disappointed with what’s showing up on the page, you’re convinced you’ve never written garbage this bad, NEVER, and then, an hour later, you’ve TOPPED it for worst steaming pile of cow dung in the history of writing.

Sometimes I worry my friends and family when I express these feelings of inadequacy out loud, and I have to assure them it’s totally normal.

I’ve had people who know I’m writing a few novels ask how they’re doing – did you finish that one yet? Well, person – who I’m glad is actually taking an interest, thank you! – it’s finished, it’s just still in the revision process. We’re almost through the third major edit. And they can’t believe it, it’s been almost a year since the rough draft was finished, hasn’t it? Why is it taking so long? And then I try super hard not to bore them with details like how much more difficult editing and revising is compared to writing the thing, how much work and dedication it takes on top of our everyday lives to polish that baby to a shine so bright it’s blinding, so it’s something to be proud of, and it’s exactly what you wanted to say, and for most people, that takes a good deal of time. But it’s worth it. WORTH IT I TELL YOU.

I’m still in the discovery phase of the plethora of resources available on the Internet. I’m starting to realize the wealth of information just through Twitter alone, all the book bloggers, publishing houses, bookstores and magazines, editors and agents freely gushing about writing and doling out priceless knowledge. The sense of community is truly astounding, and I’ve gathered a lot of strength and know how from fellow writers as I’ve expanded my horizons. Just by reading other blogs and finding new authors to read, I’ve gotten schooled in effective promotion, writing skills, and learned more about the publishing world than I ever knew even a year ago. Working with the publishing company, interacting with the authors, attending their book launches – all of this has been so eye opening, and has given me a deep appreciation for those who devote so much time to creating a book, the writers and those behind the scenes. And sometimes it feels like there just isn’t enough of it. Time, not writers. There’s plenty of us about.

Back to all those amazing people – how do you DO it? I’d love to know how everyone squeezes in the time for their writing, editing, blog posts, reviewing, all that jazz. After my spazz sessions, I usually shut my door, tune out the world, shut off my phone, and force myself to work for a few hours. Sometimes I switch up the scenery and go to a cafe. I’m always open to hearing other ways to time manage. Thus ends my whine/dishin’ out the love session.

This post was brought to you by a stressful morning made better only by turning it into book love, with a helping of Ray LaMontagne and Iron & Wine. Enjoy. Or vent, too, that’s cool. I love a good, funny rant.

Teaser Tuesdays

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Hosted by: Should Be Reading

This will be interesting, since I just started this book today. I scrambled to finish my last one the night before, since I’ve wanted to read John Dies at the End by David Wong for quite some time. It’s been sitting on my bookshelf teasing me for a few weeks, and I’m super stoked to finally start. I can already tell it’s going to entertain the hell out of me on the plane ride to and from Florida this week.

 

So! Random page teaser:

Ohh, hey, the start of a chapter. Page 193: “It was Ronald McDonald’s eyes that haunted me. I had gotten hungry for bratwurst and had been walking toward the entrance of one of the four McDonald’s franchises in Undisclosed (if you think it’s weird getting a bratwurst from a McDonald’s, then you’re not from the Midwest).”

That first line made me giggle snort. And I beg to differ, narrator: I am from the Midwest, and I still think it’s weird to get a bratwurst from McDonald’s. Unless in John’s world, this is totally normal. I also have no idea what Undisclosed is: yet. I can’t wait to find out! The burning question I want to know now, however, is why Ronald McDonald’s eyes are haunting him. I’ve always found the clown particularly creepy myself, but something tells me Stuff Goes Down at this McDonald’s. And it involves Ronald McDonald’s eyes.

 

Book launches – or where I get to ride in a golf cart at the zoo.

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Aww, yay, book launches! The best ever! I LOVE helping with book launches. The very first thing I did before I was approached to work for WDP was help hostess a book launch at the local community college. Which amounted to standing in front of the doors and telling people where the food and the books were, like their eyes didn’t work. But it felt GOOD to be Captain Obvious for one evening. I totally got a free book out of the deal.

Before any of this, I never quite appreciated the work that goes into getting one of these puppies off the ground. I don’t host or plan many parties personally, because I’m a hermit like that, so it’s still relatively new to me. Not two months into settling in at WDP, we were already helping to map out a book launch three months away, into this past February.

I had no idea how much support authors get from their publishers in regards to book launches, being the wet behind the ears admin that I am, so I did a little digging. I’m not really surprised to see there isn’t much, that it goes by the way of marketing. A lot of this falls to the authors themselves. I can kind of appreciate that, since the publishers’ funds could be put to better use elsewhere. Especially if it’s a smaller publisher where every dollar counts. I’m glad WDP tries to at least help along the authors in close physical proximity, mainly because (for me) helping and planning one is fun.

Even if your publisher is either too far away to be helpful or just doesn’t have the monies or the time, having a freakin’ awesome book launch is completely doable. A few things I’ve learned about putting one together:

Securing a venue

I’ve seen book launches at community colleges, local bookstores, libraries, and I’m attending one next month that’s in a basement of a business local to the author. Free venues are definitely preferable, and I’m sure there are some businesses with the space that would host it for free to get that many people through their doors.

This past Thursday, I accompanied the WDP publisher to Brookfield Zoo to meet up with one of our children’s book authors as she spoke with a rep to discuss her book launch. She’s been a docent with Brookfield (a specially trained volunteer who gives guided tours and interacts with the public at animal exhibits) for ten years, and it was just too incredibly fitting for her picture book, starring a coyote who wants to live in a zoo, to launch at the zoo where she’s dedicated so much of her free time. And this book is adorable – she did the illustrations herself, and they’re so amazingly good I almost did not believe her when she was like, “You know, I’ve never really drawn before, this is my first time at drawing animals like this.” O, rly? Way to set the bar ridiculously high for us peons who can’t even draw a cat without making people scratch their head (I thought it was a mouse, or maybe a seal. Cats don’t have nubs for legs, should the eyes be lopsided like that? It looks like roadkill.)

Sidenote: I was such a kid when we drove around to the back of the zoo in an area I didn’t even know existed. I was kind of in awe to even be allowed back there. There were like, giant white tents and I’m going, why are there tents? IS THERE GONNA BE A CIRCUS?! I was a wee bit disappointed we didn’t have the time to wander all day, ALL DAY. I go to the zoo, and I want to see this:

Polar Bear Ass

I didn’t this time, BUT – I GOT TO RIDE IN A GOLF CART, Y’ALL. Almost as good as a Polar Bear flaunting its ass to the crowd. Omg, I can’t even believe how excited I was to get carted around to one of the potential areas for the launch to see if it was a big enough space. I tried so hard to pay attention to what the lady and the publisher were chit chatting about, but my eyes kept drifting to the exhibits and my mind pulled one of these:

Miskadoodle’s Brain: OH MAN OH MAN GOLF CART! WE’RE GOING SO FAST! Wind’s kinda chilly, wish I’d brought my coat – ewww, there’s a new bug exhibit coming? Ugh. Avoiding THAT this summer. Hey, the carousal that I’ve never been on. Aww, we’re passing the big cats? Can we detour? Take the long way around? Hey, HEY, the vulture’s right by the fence, and it’s hideous! Aww, wolves! I can see the wolves! OH BISON! WHY AM I SO EXCITED ABOUT BISON? Oh, we’re right by the living coast exhibit? I wish we could go in. I wanna see the penguins. I friggin’ love penguins.

Anywho. Brookfield Zoo = not so free venue for a book launch. BUT. I’m very optimistic. Once the rep realized just how many people the author, being a docent, knows within the zoo and in the community and the kind of publicity that would bring, it made her rethink some of the costs, and we’re hoping to hear positive news from her soon.

However. While most potential venues probably really love to support local authors and are enthusiastic and helpful, don’t let it get you down when they’re not. I’m trying to help an out of state author locate a good venue for another children’s picture book – this author is young, so I’m actually helping his father out. We tried contacting independent bookstores in his area, and the response….kinda sucked. I don’t know if it’s because we’re a small, relatively new company, or if they’re just like that, but it was discouraging. One of them I’m pretty sure is just like that, since even their event form was unwelcoming. You are one of hundreds of requests we get all the time. Don’t be surprised when we don’t get back to you, kind of thing. Oookay. So, lesson: if they’re going to be rude and short with you, they’re not worth your business, anyway. You can still have a great launch and an awesome time without the hassle.

Guest list 

How many people you expect greatly affects the type of venue you’ll want to use. If you’re aiming for a local independent or used bookstore, know that they probably won’t have the room to accommodate two hundred people. If you want a huge blow out, a college, library, or even local community halls could swing that better.

Figuring out how many people would actually show up is a bit trickier. The rule of thumb I’ve heard is for the two hundred invites you send out, around one hundred attend. Breaking down your list into the Definitelys, Maybes, and the Wishful Thinking/Not A Chances helps, too. It’s important to have an estimate of your guest list when you begin approaching venues, too, since they’re bound to ask how many people you think will come. Also helps if you plan on having food.

(You want to have food. Please. Your helpers will love you. Everybody loves free food! It entices people, too! It doesn’t have to be expensive – make food, do a pot luck, just do cookies and punch, something. Just sayin’ 🙂

Don’t stress if you can’t get addresses for everyone. Look at it like throwing any other party in that regard. Facebook event that sucker, snail mail, e-mail, have them RSVP if you want more concrete numbers. And don’t just invite family and friends: remember your local media. Find out if there are other authors in or around your area, let your newspaper know. The launch in February at the community college had a guy from our newspaper attending, and it ended up in the paper the next day. Also, the author worked out a deal with the college where she spoke to some classes about her memoir – and she still gets asked to speak around the community.

Plan well ahead

Months. Really think through that guest list, obtain contact information, have multiple venues in mind when you’re searching. Even if you have your heart set on one, have a backup in case it doesn’t work out. If you’re a terrified public speaker like me, it might help ease nerves if you’ve practiced for a long while what you want to say, what excerpt from your novel you’d like to read.

Think about how many books you want on hand at the launch. I admittedly don’t have experience with major bookstore venues – the publisher would work it out with the bookstore concerning copies and what to do with extras. You definitely don’t want too many excess books left over in that case. From what I’ve seen, buying your own stock from the publisher and having it on hand works out pretty well, especially if it’s not a bookstore venue. Whatever you don’t sell at your launch, it’s cool – they’re yours, you can sell them at a later date.

Man, this post went from me just wanting to talk about that golf cart to All About Book Launches. They’re so much fun, even if the intended amount of people don’t show – yeah, it’s disappointing, but I don’t believe the effort is a total loss. One day *eyes get big and dreamy* one day I, too, will be the one behind the podium sweating because speaking in front of people sends me in anxiety-filled tailspins, talking about a book I wrote and praying there will be no rotten fruit available for people to lob at me.

A girl can dream.

 

Aww, an award? Now I’m blushing

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Man, you know, I still have to work on the getting dedicated to updating my new baby in a timely fashion. I’m discovering I really enjoy this and all the new people I get to talk to and interact with on the internets. Two weeks ago, I got a super pleasant surprise that made this new blogger’s heart go pitty pat.

I gots an award!

Mandyevebarnett nominated moi for the Versatile Blogger Award. WITH this lovely nomination came some rules I have no trouble following:

1. Thank the award giver and link them back to your post.

2. Share 7 things about yourself.

3. Pass this award along to 8 blogs you enjoy reading.

4. Contact your chosen bloggers to let them know about the award.

7 things about me

1. I am a music fiend. Nothing pleases me more than delving into multiple music genres, combing through bands and artists and expanding my music library. I live for music. I probably spend four hours a day with earbuds jammed in my ears while I write (or dance around my room. Or read. Or play Draw Something).

2. I will eat granola all day every day.

3. I have a phobia about hair. Human hair, mostly. Not when it’s on my head, or someone else’s, but when it’s loose. Ask me to clean out a hairbrush, or clean a sink with hair on it, and I will dry heave while attempting to do so, and maybe cry. A hair in my food? You will witness the most over dramatic freak out ever. I am 26, and I make my mother clean out my hairbrush for me.

4. I have ideas for 6 potential novels just sitting on my computer. I love all of them, but I’m trying to focus on one at a time to actually finish something.

5. I’m writing a fantasy series with a coauthor. The first novel is finished, in the revision process, and is one of like, 14 books planned for the series. Ah know, right? It’s the ONLY fantasy I’ve ever worked with #learningexperience

6. I spend all of fall, winter, and spring looking forward to my yearly trip to Michigan, where I spend a long weekend along the small towns hugging Lake Michigan. It is the most relaxing 3-4 days of the entire year.

7. I love Hanson. I AM NOT ASHAMED.

Chosen 8 Versatile Bloggers:

YAketyYAks

The Midnight Bookworm

Adventures in Borkdom

Lucy’s Football

Robotic Rhetoric

Magpie Librarian

Highest Form of Whit

Down the Rabbit Hole

Thanks so much to Mandyevebarnett for nominating me. I’m still feeling my way through this blogging business and learning all the time, and the encouragement is so much appreciated! And all the blogs listed here have made me laugh, educated me, and entertained me.

Pass on the love!

Ode to Editing

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I just want to take a moment, come out of the cave I’ve been dwelling in, and let y’all know how much I detest yet kind of love editing. Yet kind of hate. It’s a beautiful thing, a necessary thing – don’t even submit or self publish anything, ANYTHING without editing the ever loving snot out of your manuscript or, if you can swing it, hire a professional. Or someone who knows the heck their way around the English language and how it pertains to novels and such and so forth.

Okay, so I don’t really hate editing. I just feel like I’m hitting the wall of my limited experience with the process. This girl didn’t pay as much attention as she should have in school when it came to technical terms in vocabulary lessons. Go on, ask me what a subordinating conjunction is. Okay, don’t, because I have to look that up, and it makes me feel like my editing license should be revoked, if I possessed such a thing. Of course I don’t, because I’m not an editor. But I’m trying to learn! These terms just don’t stick like I want them.  How, how can my fickle brain absorb every lyric in a new All-American Rejects song, but refuse to ingrain clause terminology in its squiggly little gray matter?

Logical me: “Well, genius, if you listen to that song a few times a day for a few days, as you’re wont to do, the repetition helps you remember better. If you bothered to devote that kind of time to studying-”

Lazy me: “Shut up, I get it. My priorities are skewed, I like music, whatever. I’ll get learned on it, I promise.”

To be fair to myself, I’ve come a long way, especially since joining a writer’s group and the publishing company. Leaps and bounds. I’m still not great at editing by a long shot, but for the sake of the writers in my group, I want to give the best critique possible. I’ve found that my strength is critiquing content, or rather, I favor it over grammatical, since I’m still second guessing myself and stumbling along as I learn and hopefully improve. Or sometimes I feel like I can’t effectively edit if I’m unable to correct all the stupid crap I do in my own work. I tend to lean towards compound sentences, I get long winded, I use too much passive tense, and if I’m not careful I get repetitive with certain words.

Which is silly. A lot of people have the same issues, please agree with me so I don’t feel alone. We’re generally too close to our own work to do a proper edit, yes? We can’t always see what needs to be cut out, or expanded upon, since we’re so close to the story and it’s hard to be objective. There’s a reason why editors and publishers reiterate over and over to be ruthless with your own work in the final stages, learn to part with scenes that don’t further the plot or characters that really have no business in the story. Among hundreds of other things editors catch and correct before your novel ends up in someone’s hands or on their Kindle. I personally would be horrified if my work was riddled with poor sentence structure, plot inconsistencies, continuity issues I didn’t catch, with all my bad habits that were never corrected and someone was reading it. This is something I can never be lazy with, or settle with mediocrity for, and no writer should. It’s the best it can possibly be, or it doesn’t see the light of day. Inevitably, there will be people who do not like the story, it’s not their thing or it didn’t do anything for them, but I hope at the very least they can say the writing was solid. It takes more than one person to achieve that, and that’s why fresh pairs of eyes from trusted opinions and damn good editors are so important.

I try to be that fresh pair of eyes for other people. Even if I don’t catch everything grammar wise – and I don’t, trust me – I constructive criticize the hell out of the content. I’m ridiculously thorough when I critique manuscripts for plot, character development, inconsistencies, structure. I really try to make sure I include everything I found I liked, too, or what I thought was done well – I believe it’s important to let a writer know what they’re doing right, instead of turning it into 9 pages of you suck. Which is what it feels like, doesn’t it? You get your work critiqued, and sometimes it feels like someone punched you in the gut and set the pages of your work on fire. And laughed at you while it burned. So it definitely helps to remember to praise what deserves it as well as point out flaws and errors.

Unless it’s really bad. Like awful, awful, should have never been sent out to anyone. I’ve had the misfortune of reading a few gems like that. *shudders*

So let’s hear it for the frustrating process of trying to edit your own work, which makes me want to throw my hands up in despair and and let lazy me hide logical me away in a closet. And trudging along with editing other peoples’ work, while constantly telling myself I’ll only get better and more experienced at it the more I work with words. Really. Iz true.

Back to blasted editing.