Blog Hop: A Few Questions, Please

book-blogger-hop-finalToday’s Book Blogger Hop question is: Which author would you most like to interview, and why?

Limiting myself to living authors…I’d like to interview Brene Brown, whose work on vulnerability has been amazing and life-changing…though I’m a little afraid I’d inadvertently try to turn it into a therapy session, wanting her insights on everything in my life!

I’d also like to interview Catherynne Valente, partially because I love her Fairyland series so much, and partially to see if I could somehow (discreetly, politely) puzzle out the question of why that series is SO DIFFERENT from the rest of her books.

I’d love to interview Geraldine McCaughrean, who wrote the wonderful White Darkness, and wrote me a wonderful letter back when I wrote to her about it.  So I think she’d be just lovely to meet.

Do you have an author you’d like to interview?  Purely because they’re awesome, or do you have questions you really want answered?

Blog Hop: Love for the Classics

book-blogger-hop-finalToday’s Book Blogger Hop question is: Do you have a favorite classic? When did you read it? High school or as an adult?

I guess all of L. M. Montgomery’s books qualify for the Classics section?  At least, Anne of Green Gables does.  I possibly ought to pick something of hers, but they somehow don’t feel like proper, capital C Classics to me, which I guess implies a higher degree of difficulty in reading, or a more archaic style…or something?  I don’t know.  And I fully realize this attitude towards Montgomery’s books probably has more to do with my familiarity with them than anything intrinsic to them.

Anyway.  Let’s still set Montgomery aside (though The Blue Castle is my favorite of hers, one of my top five favorite ever books).  Even though J. M. Barrie and Montgomery were contemporaries, his Little White Bird (1902 publication) feels more like a proper Classic, and that’s also a great favorite of mine.  I believe I read both these books during high school, though neither was assigned, and I’ve reread them multiple times since then.

Charlotte Bronte feels even more like a proper Classics author though, which means giving the nod to Jane Eyre, another particularly beloved book.  So let’s call that my favorite Classic.  I read both Brontes some time after college, when I realized I’d never been assigned either (and I was an English major!) If you come down on the side of Wuthering Heights in the great Bronte debate, let’s not discuss it and remain friends…

Blog Hop: Stealing Like a Writer

book-blogger-hop-finalToday’s Book Blogger Hop question is: Which book do you wish you’d written?

Hmm.  The first to come to mind is Bloody Jack, probably because in college I wrote a story that flirted with some of the same ideas, a girl disguised as a boy who ran away to sea.  The series’ quality grew uneven and I kind of wish I’d written some of the later ones so I could have sent things in a different direction…

I wish I could write like Catherynne Valente in her Fairyland series, because the things she does with archetypes and fairy tales and magic are amazing and very much the things I want to do, but she has an exquisite, lyrical, witty writing style that I am in awe of.

I don’t actually wish that I’d written Susan Kay’s amazing Phantom, because even though it is, as aforesaid, amazing, and even though it’s an important inspiration for my own trilogy, and even though it’s up there as one of my very, very favorite books…I want to write my own Phantom story, you know?  Though I would like it to have a similar reception!

I guess I mostly don’t wish I’d written someone else’s book–because those are their stories, and I want to write my own.

Blog Hop: Enthusiasm…?

book-blogger-hop-finalToday’s Book Blogger Hop question is: At the end of a hard day, how do you get yourself psyched about writing a book review?

I guess…I kind of don’t?  At least, on some level, I don’t.  One of the best pieces of advice I ever read about trying to get yourself to do something is (paraphrased) that you don’t actually have to be excited to do it, you just have to do it.  Taking the pressure off to feel positive about it makes it easier to just buckle down and do it, because you’re not putting willpower into trying to modify your emotions too.

How do I get myself to write a blog post though?  Well, having a schedule is everything for me.  I’ve had a set schedule of when I post since the first day of this blog–it’s shifted a little as my time allows, and I have missed posts occasionally (although I didn’t for years).  It’s much, much easier for me to say, I need to write Friday’s post because it’s Friday and I post on Friday, rather than, hmm, I haven’t posted in a while, I should post…which could easily be put off until tomorrow, indefinitely.

It’s actually the same attitude I have towards writing.  I write every day.  Period, full stop.  I’ve kept that up for…five years?  Six years?  I don’t know, I’ve lost track.  But the key thing is, the question becomes not, do I have a good enough reason to write today?  The question is, do I have a good enough reason to NOT write today?  So far, I haven’t had a good enough reason to break the streak.  Including my wedding day.  Including my honeymoon.  Including international travel and various illnesses.  I won’t say that there haven’t been days when I edited one paragraph, or reread one page that I was revising, or wrote two sentences…but every day, something happened.  Because the question wasn’t will I, it was will I not? [/end divergence]

So along with knowing when I need to write a blog post, inverting the question of whether to do it, I also remind myself that it usually goes faster than I imagine it will, it’s usually easier than it looks once I start, and I do in fact usually enjoy writing it.  Or I probably wouldn’t be doing it to begin with!

For bloggers, how do you get yourself to post?  Non-bloggers, do you have tricks you use for other tasks that you might find challenging to start?

Friday Face-Off: School Days, School Days…

FFO.jpg

It’s time again for the Friday Face-Off meme, created by Books by Proxy, with weekly topics hosted by Lynn’s Book Blog.  The idea is to put up different covers for one book, and select a favorite.

This week’s theme is ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times’ –A cover featuring a school

The first books I thought of that centered around a school were Gordon Korman’s MacDonald Hall series, a hilarious collection of Juvenile books.  When I was a kid/pre-teen, Gordon Korman was my favorite funny author, the Terry Pratchett of that period in my life, and I still enjoy him very much.  MacDonald Hall are among his best books.  I thought I’d look at covers for the first one, This Can’t Be Happening at MacDonald Hall!  He wrote it in seventh grade, which continues to amaze me.

I like this cover pretty well–it puts the focus squarely on the two friends, Bruno and Boots, with Mr. Sturgeon (the Fish) the Headmaster threatening in the background.  It’s just too bad that the hairstyles really date it… 😉 Continue reading “Friday Face-Off: School Days, School Days…”

Book and Movie Review: Heartburn by Nora Ephron

In one of the more circuitous ways I’ve found a book, I recently read a nonfiction book by Julia Cameron, where she talks about Nora Ephron’s career, and mentions an audiobook of Heartburn, read by Meryl Streep.  I put down the book to search my library’s catalog and—yes, they had it!  Requested on the spot.  And when I listened to it, it was surprisingly funny and Streep was as good as I expected.  The movie, when I gave that a try, was, on the other hand, much less satisfying.

I’ve been reading more love stories this year, and Heartburn the book is something of an anti-love story.  Instead of being about a couple falling in love, it’s about a couple falling apart.  Rachel learns that her husband is having an affair while she’s seven months pregnant.  In a circuitous narrative, Rachel tells us about what led them to here and about the aftermath, punctuated by occasional recipes—because she’s a food writer who tells family stories.

I know this doesn’t sound funny.  But there’s a dry wit and self-deprecating charm to Rachel’s voice that made tragic events surprisingly funny—while still being tragic.  But it becomes a story about the absurd tragic comedy of life, which is quite different from a story about the tragedy of life.  If you see what I mean.  And along with a comedic edge given to the tragedy, some incidents are just genuinely funny.

Continue reading “Book and Movie Review: Heartburn by Nora Ephron”

Blog Hop: Revisiting to Resume

book-blogger-hop-finalToday’s Book Blogger Hop question is: When reading a series, do you re-read the previous book/s before reading the newly released book?

Sometimes yes.  It depends on how much I like a series and how recently I’ve read the earlier books.  Often if I don’t reread earlier books before reading the newly released one, I end up realizing that I’ve forgotten great swathes of things (like, say, the main character’s best friend.  Or the twist ending of the last book revealing the villain is actually a good guy.  It’s happened.)  So in general I probably should reread the previous book(s) before reading a new one, but it really only happens if I enjoyed the previous book enough to want to read it again.

For a while I was doing an annual reread of at least some of Catherynne Valente’s Fairyland series, each autumn when a new one came out.  Because those are amazing.  I reread all the previous four when the fifth one came out and it was awesome.  I should reread those, come to think of it…

When I reread series, I pretty much always read the entire series.  So some, like Anne of Green Gables (eight books!) become a rather lengthy process.  But it just feels incomplete to only read part, and very strange to just jump to the middle somewhere.  Although I can think of a few series (the Oz books, the Bloody Jack series) where the quality is uneven, and I may only reread my favorites next time I revisit.  It would be a shift in habits, though!

What do you do when a new book in a series comes out?  Rereading, or just diving into the new part of the story?