Rereading Books

ImagePhoto Credit: Glen Ellyn Public Library

Since yesterday’s post contributed to my best day ever of site views and is currently the second most viewed post I’ve written and has the most comments of any single post, I wanted today’s post to be kinda sorta almost related. So we get to talk about rereading books!

I mentioned in the comments of yesterday’s post and in previous posts on here that I’ve never once reread any book, except for my own. Why? Because there are so many books that I’ll want to read in my lifetime that I don’t want to keep reading a book or a few books over and over again. I mean, I just don’t understand the reasoning behind reading a book that you already know. Sure, maybe you haven’t picked it up in a few months or even years, but once you start reading you realize how well you already know the story. That is no longer entertainment, it’s boring.

Are there books on my shelves that I’d like to reread? Of course. Are there books on my shelves that I read so long ago that I have no idea what they’re even about? Yes. But will I be going back through my own little library any time soon to reread either of those types of books? Nope.

I know I’m going to be in the minority a second day in a row, but that’s okay. Tell me why you reread books. And don’t you dare just say that there are some books that are so great that you have to reread them. We’ve all read great books. If that’s your reasoning, get away from me.

Reading Multiple Books at Once

ImagePhoto Credit: sodahead

This is something I honestly don’t understand and definitely makes me want to punch some people in the face. Because I’ve read way too many blog posts about someone reading three or four or even five books at the same time. No.

Not counting college textbooks, I’ve never once read more than one book at a time. How is one supposed to become immersed in a story if it’s just one of many fighting for your attention? You all may or may not remember that I read The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank for the first time earlier this year. Though non-fiction, it easily became the best book I’ve read. I can tell you for certain that had I been reading another book at the same time as that one that my opinion would not be the same. It would still be the same book and I’d think highly of it, but I doubt it’d be number one on my list. Because I wouldn’t have been able to appreciate it quite like I did.

To me, reading multiple books at once will never happen. All that can result is taking away from each story. I don’t want books I’ve bought to be spoiled because I decided to read something else at the same time. BUT I know for a fact that many, many people do this, and now I’m asking you why.

Genre, Which Genre?

ImagePhoto Credit: Erica Senecal

Just off the top of your head, how many genres or sub-genres can you name? Let me try. Mystery. Thriller. Young adult. Erotica. Ew to that. Literary fiction. Historical fiction. New adult. Sci-fi. Fantasy. Romance. Crime fiction. Detective fiction. Okay, the list can go on and on but the point is that there are A LOT of genres to pick from. There are plenty more I didn’t name because who wants to just sit here and read the different genres over and over?

Now let’s talk about you or me. We’ve both decided to be writers or authors or whatever you want to call yourself, but we haven’t done a whole lot of thinking about story ideas. We’re sitting there brainstorming and we come up with a few that we MUST write. Let’s talk about me for a second. You all should know by now that I had my first story idea in my head for nearly 18 months before I ever put pen to paper. And even before that I’d started writing a different story. But before I ever wrote any fiction, I always knew I wanted to write crime fiction around a private detective. How did I know this? Because my bookshelf is filled with these books.

I’m not sitting here saying that I have any idea whatsoever how to write a decent mystery. I don’t think I have a clue. But when I think of other genres out there like sci-fi or YA or really any other genre I don’t write in, I’d be lost. I don’t know anything about world-building or writing a love story (though my two main characters are madly in love.) I wouldn’t even know where to begin. Seriously. So when I started writing for real I did the whole “write what you know” thing, but in truth I don’t know anything about mystery or suspense novels, besides the fact that I’ve read many great ones.

But this post isn’t entirely about me. I want to know how you decided on which genre you should write in. Maybe you have a creative writing degree with a specialization or maybe you did the same as I did and just started writing in your favorite genre. OR you write in different genres because you’re special like that. No matter how you decided, I want you to tell me. Right now.

An Agent Represents my Second Book! Whaaaaaat!?

ImagePhoto Credit: Jess Haines

Guys, you all haven’t been given an update on my own writing in a really long time. A few months now. And I’ve led some of you to believe that I’m not writing nearly as often as I’d like and that my current WIP is going nowhere. Well, I apologize for the misleading information.

I actually finished the first draft of my manuscript all the way back in January. I know the rule of stepping away from your work and all that, but I immediately read through and jotted down notes about what I felt needed fixing. Guess how many pages of notes I had after my read through? 103! These were written in a college ruled notebook and my hand hurt just seeing how much it actually was. Again, I didn’t step away from my manuscript. I went in and worked tirelessly to fix EVERYTHING. It was like writing the stupid thing all over again. Only this time I knew the story like the back of my hand. This was right around the time of spring break.

That’s when I finally got to utilize my sizeable WordPress following for the first time. I reached out to some bloggers I thought would make for perfect beta readers and asked if they’d give my book a read. Every blogger I contacted agreed and less than a week later I had feedback from 15 bloggers. First off, the feedback was overwhelmingly positive, which made my heart happy because a few have already read my first book. But that doesn’t mean there weren’t changes to be made. One blogger, who I won’t name, gave me 38 pages of feedback! Seriously, she needs to get a life. Hahaha. But there were a few things that every reader mentioned and I fixed all of those issues immediately. Then I came to some things that one person liked and one person didn’t and one person didn’t even mention and decided to go with my gut on those.

By this time we’ve reached the last week of April and I’m extraordinarily pleased with the final draft of my second book. Time for queries. How fun. I created a list of agents who I felt were a good fit for my work and sent my initial round of queries to the first ten agents on the list. Eight rejections and one full manuscript request later….I HAVE AN AGENT! Did I cry? Yes. Did I run around my house screaming in pure excitement? Yes. Did I feel like I absolutely had to tell you all about it? Yes. Are you happy for me? Yes.

I got the email from the agent on freaking Memorial Day. I think I found a dedicated one. I’ll have a more detailed post about this whole thing either later this week or next week.

*** I’m sorry if you believed this post to be true. I’m not writing hardly at all. I’m far from completing the first draft of my manuscript. Which means no beta readers or edits or revisions or queries or agents. But at least I can laugh about it, right? If you comment your congratulations I’ll know you didn’t read the full post and I won’t like you.***

Hachette v. Amazon: You’re not going to like my thoughts

ImagePhoto Credit: Third Place Books

Before I begin, there are two posts that I’ve written in the past that I suggest you read. They aren’t directly related to today’s post, but they may give you an idea about what my thoughts will be today.

Print vs. E-book: Which side are you on?

Is Amazon Good for Books?

Read them? Great. Didn’t? Perfectly fine.

Now let’s begin. If you keep up with book or publishing news at all, then you should already know about the ongoing dispute between Hachette and Amazon. The very basic premise is that they are in the midst of contract negotiations and both sides appear to be waiting for the other side to give in to their terms. But it’s not happening. And Amazon is taking matters into their own hands. The delivery of Hachette books to customers is being delayed by weeks, the pre-order feature of future releases is no longer available, and the discounts on the books are gone.

I’ve read countless articles and blog posts attacking Amazon and standing with Hachette for what everyone claims is right. Well, this will be the first one I read in which someone stands with Amazon.

I’ve been a fan of Amazon for every one of the four years that I’ve used the site. I have a Prime membership that is always offering me new perks at no additional cost. And as a result, I’m a member of the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. Which allows me to borrow a book for free once a month.

Why I stand with Amazon

It is quite simple. Everyone wants to look at this from the author’s perspective. Or from that of a publisher. Are you a Hachette author? Or are you one of the Big Five publishers in America? The chance is there, but the answer to both questions is likely no. One more question, will you ever be able to say yes to either of those previous questions. Again, no. So all this talk about author royalties and the death of another publisher and Amazon’s slow takeover of the publishing industry makes me angry. You should be looking at the dispute from the perspective of the consumer, because that’s all you are. But no, you’re looking at it from a perspective you’ll never truly know. (I realize that there are plenty of Hachette authors out there looking at this dispute closely, but they aren’t writing the article after article about it. James Patterson wrote a couple of paragraphs.)

The thing is that every other major publisher has a contract with Amazon. Simon and Schuster, yes. Penguin Random House, yes. And so do the others. You’re telling me that Amazon’s demand for a greater percentage of the e-book split is not something other book retailers have considered in the past or perhaps bargained for. (Because that’s what appears to be at the bottom of the whole dispute.) According to an article I’m reading right now as I write this, publishers make 75% of the price of an e-book. Read that number again. That’s the norm. The article is quick to point out that one cannot defend that publishers make that percentage or that Amazon up its split, but everyone else has already taken their sides, so I will as well.

I definitely understand why Hachette is taking a stand, but they cannot win. Amazon has no reason to give in. Remember folks, 30% of printed books and upwards of 60% of e-books are sold on Amazon. And not to mention the fact that less than 10% of all of the site’s revenue comes from the sale of books. So don’t go writing that Amazon is doing this strictly because of their bottom line, because all that tells me is that you don’t know what you’re talking about. Their bottom line is what it is because they’re constantly developing new services for Prime members and all of the site’s users. FireTV. New Kindle devices. Etc.

So I say to Hachette to do whatever you feel you have to, but when you realize that will fail, well, then go accept Amazon’s terms and get on with life. Because all the author support in the world means nothing when they have no seat at the negotiating table. And everyone keeping up with the story knows a deal will ultimately be signed, regardless of who “wins.”

I’m ready for no one to agree with me in the comments.

Ten Most Haunting Male Literary Characters

ImagePhoto Credit: Bubblews

Recently a survey was conducted of the British public to determine who they believed to be the most haunting male literary characters. Before I read the original article I had two characters immediately come to mind. One made the list and one did not. But who cares who I was thinking, let’s get into the list.

#10. Kevin – We need to Talk About Kevin, Lionel Shriver

Kevin doesn’t sound all that haunting to me, but I’ve also never read the book. Eh. Moving on.

#9 Caliban – The Tempest, William Shakespeare

I’ve read very little Shakespeare in my life. Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet. When I say I read Hamlet, I mean I listened to the chapter reviews in class so that I could get a 100 on the tests without ever reading a single page. High school is fun like that. I did read Romeo and Juliet and to this day still believe it to be the greatest love story I’ve ever read. So I don’t know who this guy from The Tempest is.

#8 President Coriolanus Snow – The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins

WHAT A SURPRISE! Yes, I hate President Snow. Yes, I think of him as being evil. But I did not expect to find his name on this list. Especially when we move along and see some of the other characters who are included. So suck it, President Snow!

#7 Pennywise the clown – It, Stephen King

I haven’t read the book, but I have seen the movie from the 80s? And boy, this guy could easily give you nightmares. Good thing I wasn’t afraid of clowns growing up. Just Chuck E. Cheese.

#6 Frankenstein’s monster – Frankenstein, Mary Shelley

In high school some students were required to read this, but I wasn’t. But I mean, EVERYONE knows this guy. I just hope your take on the story and the character does not come from the movie that was released earlier this year. Because even though I didn’t see it, I know for certain that the movie was nothing like the book. At least that’s what I’ve heard.

#5 Alex – A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

No idea who this is, but I THINK a movie was made from this book? I don’t know.

#4 Mr. Rochester – Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte

Well I think some of you may be upset with me, but I also have not read this. But hey, I think Isla Fisher’s character had one of these books given to her by her dad in the movie Definitely, Maybe. And then she didn’t have it. And then Ryan Reynolds found it and kept it forever and everΒ  before giving it to her and then happily ever after. Good movie. But what the heck am I even talking about now?

#3 Jack Torrance – The Shining, Stephen King

Haven’t read any King. You all should know this by now.

#2 Count Dracula – Dracula, Bram Stoker

Well this is one of the two characters I thought of before reading the list. I’ve written several papers analyzing several aspects of the book and it is easily one of my all-time favorites. I was talking to my sister about the Count just the other day and all I could tell her was that he is the first character who comes to mind when I think of evil. He’s the first character who comes to mind when I think of monster. This story is also the first that comes to mind when I think of good vs. evil or man vs. monster. This book is truly great and the Count is the only character I think of when I think of vampires in literature.

#1 Heathcliff – Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte

Unfortunate that I don’t know this character. No commentary from me on the top spot.

Lastly, the only change that I could justifiably make to this list based on what I’ve actually read would be to have Dracula at number one. For all of the reasons that I listed above. He IS evil. He IS haunting. But as for the other character who I thought would make the list, Lord Voldemort. I was quite surprised that he wasn’t named. I mean, we have seven books to realize how bad he really is, whereas these other characters don’t. Remember the London Olympics opening ceremony in 2012? When HE was one of the featured acts when British literature was on display for the entire world to see? I rest my case.

So these are the most haunting male literary characters according to the British public. Do you agree with the list? Were there some characters missing?

You can read the full article that also lists the most haunting female characters here.

*The image is from the NBC series Dracula that was cancelled after just one season. But Mina, who you see in the image, in the show is seriously perfection. Oh my goodness. Just a thought for you all.

1,000 WordPress Followers and Giveaway!

ImagePhoto Credit: HoneyBearz Designs

I have a letter for you all today. And you can read it as if it were written directly to you, because it is.

Dear any one of my 1,000 WordPress followers,

I started this blog in June of last year. I figured that since I had no idea how to go about tackling the task of writing a book that I might as well give myself an outlet for my thoughts on the matter. I gained a relatively small following during the months it took me to write my first book. I think on its release day I had maybe 60 followers. But that didn’t really matter, right? Because I’d already gone crazy for this whole blogging thing. I didn’t care about getting new followers. I didn’t care if I wrote posts that got no views on the day they were published. I also didn’t care if I went weeks without any interaction from other bloggers. I wasn’t doing it for anyone but me, and I loved sitting down to write a blog post. Which back then would have always been about my writing.

Let’s fast forward. In the first couple of months of 2014 I decided a change was in order. I wanted this blog to be all about books and not just my writing. This was done because my posts about my writing had become more sporadic, but also because I felt there were a lot of topics related to books that I could discuss. Then you all happened. It took nine months for me to reach my first 100 followers and now less than three months later we’re at 1,000.

I just said up there that I don’t blog for anyone but me. Well that’s now changed. I post because the topics I write about are interesting to me, but also because I’m near certain that I’ll get a great response from a few or a great many of you. I now get to talk to some really great people just about everyday, and what could be better than that? I’m trying to decide whether or not to name any of you, BUT what the heck.

Amy, or Writerly Amy as I call her, comments on just about every one of my posts. Amy, you and I both know my posts aren’t THAT interesting, so I’m starting to think you’re a little crazy. πŸ˜‰ But really, it’s great knowing that I’ll have someone at least read everything I write on here. And guys, she knows SO much about writing. And when she’s not threatening me with violence she’s so nice about motivating me to write and to be proud of what I write. Amy, you’re pretty great. And writerly.

Mahrukh. She’s about to finish grad school, so she doesn’t come around these parts as often as she used to, but we still talk just about everyday. And I don’t think I’ve ever had any single person believe in me the way she does. I honestly can’t even describe it now. If you all could see what she’s told me then you’d know. But you can’t because that’s between the two of us. Mahrukh, I’m not going to tell you that you’re this or that because I’ve already told you before and will in the future.

I swear there are many more of you I enjoy interacting with, but those two ladies stand out from everyone. So if you are one of those people who comments once on a post and then leaves it, that’s perfectly fine, but if you’re like one of these two I mentioned above who will literally comment throughout an entire day, well I think I like you just a little more.

Last thing, I don’t want to bore you guys to death. I have a giveaway for you all! You have to actually be one of my WordPress followers in order to be entered, but you also must Like and comment on THIS post. You’ll be getting a signed copy of my first book! I’m not going to sit here and act like it’s the greatest book ever written, but it’s mine and it’ll be signed. Just Like and comment! Sorry, only US people can win because international shipping is insane.

And I get to cross this off my Bookish Bucket List!

All in all, you guys make blogging the enjoyable experience that it is. So I sincerely thank you.

-John