Spoilers!

I’m just going to put it out there. I love spoilers. I like to know what’s going to happen before it happens. I can enjoy a book or movie if I already know the ending. It doesn’t bother me in the least. Sometimes the spoiler is the deciding factor if I’m going to watch a movie or read a book at all. If it doesn’t have that satisfying ending, forget it. I will especially forgo any book/film that has a “clever twist” ending (in quotes for a reason because I like twists). Those irritate the crap out of me, i.e. girl’s dad is dying, she promises to take care of him, she meets someone, dad gets mad and sicker, but it’s the boyfriend who dies tragically and suddenly, dad realizes how selfish he’s been, she needs to live her life, etc.- blech. (Hey, I’m allowed an opinion too. If you like those stories, fine. I applaud you for sticking up for yourself, but I don’t have to like them.). By the way, satisfying doesn’t mean happily ever after. Second Hand Lions starts with the death of the two uncles, but I love it. And Dandelion Wine (Ray Bradbury) has a higher body count than a lot of novels, but it’s wonderful and life affirming.

 

A study at UCSD showed that knowing the spoiler/ending increases enjoyment of the work (the link is to an article about the study, not the study itself). I agree. Look, we all know romance novels make up the biggest segment of the fiction market. Every romance ends with the couple forming a relationship. Every single one (If it doesn’t, then it isn’t a romance). Guess what? That’s not what the readers read for. Romance readers love what they read. Could part of the reason be they know the ending? Yes, I read my books backwards. I always (ALWAYS) read the last few pages at the beginning.

 

I think this enjoyment explains re-reading as well. I often told my students they need to read assignments twice- the first time just for the plot, the second for understanding. If you follow my blog you know I am currently re-reading George RR Martin’s Song of Fire and Ice series. It’s better the second time through. I know what happens; now I can concentrate on details and characterization. It’s so much richer this time. And I probably don’t have to tell you how many times I’ve read Harry Potter. In fact the saga of the German copy of Chamber of Secrets will be an upcoming blog. But each time there’s something new to enjoy and grasp. Italo Calvino said, “a classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say.” That sentence presumes reading things more than once. There are many books I won’t ever re-read or couldn’t get through the first time (and that’s okay too; I’ve blogged here on taste before). But the ones, books and movies, that I revisit several times are my classics. I find new meanings, nuances, and truths I didn’t on the previous viewings.

 

And it’s easier to get to deeper understanding if you know the ending.

 

Don’t worry. I try not to spoil endings for others. People can be touchy about the subject. But if I ask you for a spoiler, I really want it. I want to see the journey more than the end. Maybe you should try it a couple of times and see if you notice any difference in your reading.

 

So how do you feel about spoilers?

 

–Gabi

 

Books I’m reading now:

A Dance with Dragons by George RR Martin

The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

Goofs, Gaffs, and Guffaws

Just about the only thing I consider myself an expert in is language. By language, I mean grammar, words, and such. I speak a few languages, and have studied the “old” and “middle” versions of two of those languages. When my writer friends need help with a construct or want to make sure they are writing something correctly, they come to me. I love it not because I am “the expert,” but because I love looking up arcane grammar points, learning subtle grammar, and just expanding my knowledge base. Yes, I do language research just for fun.

 

Now before you go correcting anything and everything I write here, I also know the difference between casual and formal language, and I don’t proofread everything I post here. I am not a typist. I still have to stare at the keyboard to find the right letters (I’m sure it’s just a crutch by now, but I still stare at the keyboard) and not at the page to make sure I’m putting it on paper right, which is why autocorrect annoys me so much. It gets me every time. I don’t want to have to analyze everything I write or write in perfect sentences because then I will just shut down, but errors do not mean I don’t know grammar (Spelling is a whole other can of beans; I have never claimed to know spelling, but I can tell you why some words are spelled the way they are). We all make errors, and honest errors exist. Deal with it.

 

So without further ado, here is a list of my top ten word pet peeves:

 

  1. Fewer vs. less (and along those same lines amount vs. number)—If something has a specific number use fewer; if it’s abstract in number use less. If you can conceivably count it, use fewer. For example: 15 or fewer (items in this lane). Less money, fewer dollars. Fewer people, less humanity.
  2. Between you and I—(shudder) It’s “me!” Cases are important! There’s a country song out there now that says this. Every time I hear it I scream, “Me,” at the proper juncture. Object of a preposition—learn it. And speaking of cases…
  3. The use of “than”—Not then vs. than, just than. If I say, “She is taller than me,” most people will understand that I am shorter than the female in question. But that’s not correct grammar. It should read, “She is taller than I.” You wouldn’t say, “She is taller than me am.” Case matters. The meaning changes between “She likes him better than me,” and “She likes him better than I.” In one I would be invited second. In the other, she can invite him first and I don’t care.
  4. Try to do (or insert whatever verb you want)—I see this all time as “try and do.” In fact I once had a copyeditor change “try to” to “try and.” No. “I will try to sleep” means I am making an attempt at resting and probably failing. “I will try and sleep” means I am attempting something unspecified and then I am falling unconscious for the night. Two separate actions.
  5. Who vs. whom—Call me old fashioned, but I love the distinction. (And we’re back to cases again.) There is a bumper I spy often extolling the joys of rescue animals. While I applaud the sentiment, the slogan “Who saved who?” drives me crazy. Who saved whom? Not that hard. You wouldn’t answer the question with He saved I or I saved he. Where you would use a “him” or a “her” in the sentence, use a “whom” in the question.
  6. Have vs. of—I will disown you if you write “I should of studied English harder.” One is a verb, the other a preposition.
  7. Nonexistent words—I’m lumping these together because there are far too many of them, but my biggest irritations arise from expresso, supposably, and excape.
  8. Wrong phrases—Again, lumping here: For all intensive purposes; just desserts; nip it in the butt (These are the wrong ones. There are many, many more)
  9. Apostrophes for plurals—Do not use an apostrophe to form a plural except in rare cases (Trust me, they are rare). Apostrophes are used to show possession or a missin’ letter (See what I did there?). Not even with numbers.
  10. And while I don’t get too hung up on the whole its-it’s, they’re-their-there, to-too-two (Remarkable really. I usually just shake my head when I see it, but it’s far too easy to type those in incorrectly and not see it on a re-read), loose vs. lose and choose vs. chose annoys me. Watch for wrong words in general. There’s a huge difference between a loose bowel and to lose a bowl.

 

All rules can be bent, shaped, twisted, or broken to achieve a certain writing effect (not affect), but you do have to understand why you are breaking that rule to achieve the effect you wish. Words are important. What are some of your pet peeves in language?

 

–Gabi

 

Books I’m reading now:

A Dance with Dragons by George RR Martin (re-read)

Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

 

When Was the Last Time You Cried at a Book?

Have you ever reacted to something—a character, a sentence, an event—in a novel? I mean that gut feeling you get when you read something that produces a visceral reaction? Something that makes you cheer, or cry, or become angry or frustrated? I hope so. That’s part of the joys of reading for me. But have you ever wondered why you reacted as you have? More and more I’m convinced that when you have such a reaction it’s because you’ve hit “theme” in your book.

 

I love talking about theme. I think it’s a vestigial trait from my teaching days. Theme, very simply, is what the author is saying about a universal truth (as long as truth is relative—some people believe eating animals is a sin and others enjoy hamburgers). The author comes to his or her novel with his or her own life views and often can’t help but express what they believe in their writing.

 

For example, I often write about the honor in doing the right thing. That doing the right thing, no matter how unpleasant or what the cost, is a noble goal. In my stories I’ve had characters become outlaws because they believe in doing the right thing. Society is wrong, and they can’t go along with society because it would diminish them as human beings. The loss of honor is a greater tragedy than following the rules.

 

I could give a whole lecture on Theme (and have!), but I recently I was thinking that when I react to something in a book or movie it’s because whatever it is has hit upon my own person universal truth. Another example: in the Dr Who series, the Doctor takes away Donna’s memories and incredible knowledge to save her life (long story—watch the show; it’s fantastic). He decides he can never see her again because of the danger that he would bring to her if she remembered him. He loves her (not as a lover, but as a dear friend), and because he loves her he’d rather give her up than put her in danger. I sobbed at these episodes. In fact I don’t think I’ve ever cried harder than watching the entire Dr. Who series. Now, we’re in the Doctor’s point of view, and I’d wager that Donna would make a different decision, but it doesn’t matter. I can completely relate to the choice made by the Doctor. Because it’s one of my universal truths. I’d rather know someone I love is safe and never see them again, than put their lives in danger. (And it’s a stupid game I play with myself. What if we had a huge natural disaster that separated me forever from my daughters who live on the other side of the country? I would rather know they are safe than have them make the effort to try to find me. Yeah, it’s one of those crazy thoughts that go all too often through my head. Here’s one for you if you want to play along: Aliens suddenly come down to gather humans to save the race from certain death on this planet, but they can only take a certain number. Do you go? Welcome to the world in my head.)

 

So next time you react to something you’ve seen or read, think about it a moment. What created such a strong reaction from you? And I’m not just talking positive emotions. Want an exercise in frustration and anger? Watch or read Game of Thrones. What an experience.

 

–Gabi

 

Books I’m reading now:

A Feast for Crows by George RR Martin (re-reading)

Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

The Power of Art

To roll off of what I posted a couple of days ago, I wanted to discuss why I believe literature is not just important but also vital to our world. I taught eighth grade gifted language arts and literature for several years, and each year I would greet parents at Open House. I always enjoyed Open House because I enjoy performing, and talking in front of a crowd is like a performance. In addition to telling the parents about myself and my background (and always saying that I wrote romances that were not appropriate for eighth graders and that if anyone had a problem with that to please, please, please start a protest because I could use the publicity—never happened, but my students always offered to hold a book burning for me), I would give the parents my passionate and sincere beliefs about literature—all kinds of literature.

 

Technology progresses at a much faster rate than society. I love technology. I believe we can’t have enough engineers, physicists, and scientists in general in this world (My husband holds a PhD in robotics—yeah, I have a soft spot for the brainiacs). Robot Guy is an optimist; he believes technology can solve what ails the world. Unfortunately, technology moves too fast—too fast for the average person to assimilate it and understand it (by understand I mean use it with comfort—For example, we all drive cars now, but how many of us could actually put a car together? And you should read people’s reactions to automobiles when they first arrived. Hilarious. That and the use of electricity. The showy Chicago World’s Fair of 1893 helped usher in our dependence on electricity. Once people saw the spectacle, electricity became less frightening. Anyway…). So how does the average citizen become accustomed to new ideas and new advances?

 

Through Art. (Yes, with a capital A)

 

Art of all sorts exposes us and makes us comfortable with new ideas. We explore our fears through this safe venue and learn from it, so when reality confronts us, it isn’t as frightening. Ideas are often met with fear. Take robots for example. Stories and novels have explored all aspects of robotics in a way that a lay person can understand. From killer robots to helpful robots (Dr. Who to Isaac Asimov). My husband can tell you that there isn’t a robot that doesn’t have a huge red kill switch beside it (we’re not talking Roomba here), and the kill switch isn’t to kill the human operator. In any case, we’ve become so accustomed to the idea of robots that we hardly notice them in our lives. I don’t know about you, but Google’s self-driving car is something I want (although Robot Guy says there is still a long way to go. Robot vision is a particularly nasty problem.) And yes, I feel safer knowing a computer does most of the flying on an airplane.

 

But it isn’t just technological ideas that Art helps with. Cultural change happens through the examination of ideas in Art. Between Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Gone with the Wind, The Invisible Man, To Kill A Mockingbird, and more recently The Help, we’ve seen racism through various lenses. Without realizing it, the ideas become a part of us and how we respond to those ideas shapes us (I don’t want to debate the validity of the arguments represented in such works—that would be a whole book by itself. What I’m saying is the ideas are there and we’re exposed to them, which affects us, however greatly or minutely). The rapid switch (rapid being relative to the time from when it actually came into our collective consciousness as opposed to the history of mankind) to the acceptance of same sex couples (which the majority of us now do) I believe was helped along by TV shows, books, and movies that featured LGBT characters. Once we saw they are simply like the rest of us, acceptance followed. (And if you’re not in this group and want to leave some sort of screed as a comment, just don’t. This is my page. Make your own page for your own screed.)

 

Whatever we read touches us, changes us, teaches us. We can agree with, disagree with, argue against, stand for, or dismiss those ideas, but in whatever way, those ideas have affected us. This is why books can be dangerous. This is why governments use propaganda. This is why dictators fear freethinking. This is why education is so important. This is why a great swath of people can be convinced to vote against their own self-interest. This is why debate is so important.

 

Right. I’ve gone on long enough. If you’re a former student, you’ve heard all this before.

–Gabi

 

P.S. I’ve focused mostly books, but I truly believe all forms of Art has this power. I just know books best.

 

Books I’m reading now:

The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

A Feast for Crows by George RR Martin

7 Quick Thoughts About Books

1. Do you have a favorite author? Terrific. A new release from them, or re-reading a special book, can cause a celebration. But what do you do while you’re waiting? How about checking out that author’s web page and seeing if they mention any authors that inspired them? Or pull one of their books from your shelf and see if they mention any authors in their acknowledgments or dedications. You never know. You might find another favorite author and have a larger pool of books to keep you occupied.
2. Decide what kind of reader you are. Do you keep books pristine as they taught you in elementary school or do you like to have a conversation with your books and mark them up with questions, comments, and annotations? If you like to have books pristine for your collection, consider buying two copies. If you like to make notes, you might want to consider buying the book for your e-reader, so you can take notes on the device. Personally, I buy books to enjoy. I own a few autographed copies of favorites that I don’t touch, but for the most part, you can tell my books have been loved. I like a book that shows its age, that has had a full life.
3. Don’t be shy about speaking about the books you love. Tell your friends. Leave reviews. Write the author. I can tell you that nothing makes my day like receiving a note, a tweet, a message, an email from someone who had a fun time reading one of my books.
4. You don’t have to finish a book. I give you permission, right here, right now, to put aside a book you aren’t enjoying. There are so many books out there; why would you want to waste your time on something you aren’t enjoying? A caveat: I am not speaking about a book you must read for a class or an assignment. If you’re not enjoying one of those, you still have to suck it up and read it. Sorry. But if you’re reading for pleasure, you don’t have to finish. Really, you don’t. Find something you will enjoy. The world won’t end if you don’t finish a book. Honestly. I’ve not finished a lot of books. Time continued forward and societies didn’t collapse (at least not from not reading). Okay, if you absolutely must finish everything you pick up (and I understand; I was once like you), learn to skim. Jump ahead by several chapters. Most of the time you can keep up.
5. Don’t let anyone tell you what to read. You don’t have to apologize for anything you enjoy reading. Or justify it. You can read what you want. When I taught, I often had parents ask me to recommend books for their children. I told them to let the kids pick. It didn’t matter if they chose classics, genre, or even comic books. All reading is good for you. (I hate making absolute statements. There is some reading material that is awful—for society, for humanity, etc.—but I don’t even want to acknowledge them…even though I just have.)
6. Taking time to read is NOT a waste of time. Escape is good for the soul, and if the dishes don’t get done for an hour, who gives a flying fig? (That’s right. I don’t cuss much. It doesn’t offend me, but I can’t pull it off comfortably. On the other hand, when you do hear me cuss, then you know I really mean it.)
7. And yes, you can judge people when they say they never read. I do all the time, and not just because I’m an author. I don’t understand people who don’t read. Or say they don’t have time to read. I can’t imagine a good life without books. I might have some acquaintances who don’t read (and some family members, but I’m stuck with those), but they’ll never reach the friend stage. Call me shallow, but, yes, reading means that much to me. My youngest is intellectually handicapped, and for years my greatest tragedy was that she hated reading. I’m happy to say now that that has changed. She reads a lot now—oh, at a very low level, but she’s reading. And writing too. She writes fan fic. And reading and writing has helped her language skills in ways that therapy and special ed classes never did. So, yes, I’m willing to judge people who don’t read.

Books are brilliant, dangerous, enlightening, educational, entertaining, elucidating, and a relatively inexpensive big bang for your buck. There’s a reason dictators get rid of intellectuals first when they take over. Books contain ideas, and ideas create greatness and wonder and curiosity and freedom. So read a book.

–Gabi

Books I’m reading now:
Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
A Feast for Crows by George RR Martin

Contests

In the romance world a writer has ample opportunity to enter contests. I confess I haven’t looked into contests for other genres much. Of course I’ve heard of the big ones–the Hugo, the Nebula, the Edgar, etc–but in the romance world there are contests for published and unpublished authors in every sub-genre you can imagine. I’ve entered several, finaled in most, won a few, so here is my take.

On the plus side:

  • A contest can give you validation. It feels good to win or final in a contest. It lets you know your work is appreciated by others who have nothing at stake in judging you. It ain’t your family telling you you’re good. Sometimes you need that validation. (Let me tell you though, the feeling doesn’t last. Why are we humans so quick to forget the good stuff and obsess on the bad? Or is that just me?)
  • A second perk is getting your work in front of an editor or agent who might be interested in buying your manuscript. While I never received any offers from my contest wins, I do know a couple a of people who sold directly because of winning a contest.
  • If your writing isn’t at the level of winning or publishing yet, a contest can give you valuable feedback on your work from readers who again have nothing at stake in critiquing you. One of the most helpful things a beginner can receive is unbiased feedback. It can hurt, but the learning curve is huge with an honest critique.
  • A contest can help build your thick skin. You need it in this business. Losing a few contests, or being ripped apart, can teach you that you can survive a harsh review in the future.  Lastly, for you already published authors, a contest win can give you bragging rights, something to stick on your covers. You will often see Hugo Award winging author on a cover.

On the minus side:

  • Most contests cost money, and some are very expensive. Sometimes entry fees are out of reach.
  • You might be judged by thoroughly incompetent judges, people who aren’t qualified to judge writing. I’ve always laughed when someone criticized my grammar. Yeah, I rarely make grammar mistakes. If I have often it’s a typo, not a grammar error. (Mind you, if you’re judging my grammar by this blog, just stop. I’m talking about my manuscripts, not the thoughts I randomly post here. This is casual. My writing is anything but, and if dialog or writing is casual in my manuscripts, you can bet I did it on purpose). My favorite judging error was when a judge had no idea what Cartagena was. Really? And there have been several others. I’ve even had judges mark up a manuscript for using passed instead of past, when passed was correct. Anyone who has entered contests can tell you stories about judges’ errors.
  • You might end up with a judge who just doesn’t like your work. No matter how objective a judge tries to be, judging is subjective, and if you write vampires and they abhor vampires, it will reflect in your score.  A contest is often a crap shoot. Your manuscript/book may be incredible, but it won’t get the recognition it rightly deserves. You get judges who hate your voice or plot or theme. Or not finaling may be as simple as getting a judge who doesn’t believe in giving out top scores because nothing is perfect. So, it’s a crapshoot.
  • You can get addicted to contests and winning. I knew of a writer who had three perfect starting chapters and won contest after contest, but never finished the manuscript. The danger of polishing the beginning (usually what is asked for in a contest) is never giving the rest of the manuscript the attention it deserves.
  • If you don’t get the results you hope for and you haven’t developed that thick skin, you might find yourself so discouraged that you quit.

I know I listed more cons than pros, but I personally like contests. I can claim I am an award winning novelist. Almost every one of my novels has been recognized in one way or another. And besides, I’ve always loved competition. (Never play a board game with me unless you play by the rules and play to win. I don’t mind losing as long as it was a worthy battle. But I play to win.)

So vet your contests. Examine why you are entering and what your goal is. Choose wisely. Contests can be fun or helpful or none of the above. Entering is something you have to decide for yourself.

–Gabi

Books I’m reading now:

See previous posts. (Yes, I’m reading slowly now; or I’m blogging too quickly.)

Tastes and Age

Lately I find myself engrossed in a couple of television shows. I was a firm fan of How I Met Your Mother, but it’s over now. I watch The Big Bang Theory and Modern Family, but I’m absolutely hooked on Grimm, Once Upon a Time, and Agents of Shield. I’ve glommed a few series on Netflix: Dr. Who, Eureka, Warehouse 13, Primeval, The Dresden Files, Firefly; and I’ve caught a few episodes of Torchwood and Farscape (not glomming those, though). Most of my friends who are not in the writing world don’t watch any of these. They don’t read the same books as I either. They’ve all seen Breaking Bad, which I am currently watching, but more out of a sense of “need to” rather than “want to.” I recognize the superior story crafting, the superb acting, but it’s just not my thing. I’ve been pleading with them to watch Game of Thrones with little success. We own the discs and the books.

It’s left me wondering about tastes and age. I suppose most people believe that as one ages, one’s tastes become more serious. I’ve found the opposite to be true. I’m gravitating even more toward the paranormal (to use a generic term for sci-fi, fantasy, and other speculative fiction). I recently visited my daughter in Boston, and I think I shocked her roommates when I not only understood their references, but added my own insights to their conversations. We watched Pacific Rim together and had a great time.

So am I just more youthful in my tastes? I don’t think so. I believe that all entertainment, whether it’s books, movies or television, is about the characters. It’s the great characters that keep us glued to a show or a book. It’s just the delivery method that changes. A character gives us someone to recognize and cheer for. When they change, we grow. When they hurt, we ache. We feel with them and experience universal truths through them (This ties into Theme, which proves that you can’t isolate one element of a story with any kind of success). Tyrion Lannister is a fair, loyal, and just character with great flaws who happens to be a member of a ruthless family from whom he’s learned some of his behavior. Does that sound like Hamlet to you? (Okay, not exactly, but you get the picture.) And when [SPOILER–skip to the next paragraph if you don’t want to know even this non-event specific fact] they push him too far, he finally rejects them. He is honorable in his own way. We root for him even more than the outrightly noble character of Ned Stark, because liking Ned is too easy (Not that his death wasn’t heart-breaking, but, really, he was too good.)

Perhaps I like my characters in settings that aren’t of this world because I am so aware of the realities of this world. I’m highly political (which I try to keep from these pages), aware of current events, scientifically minded, and have my own personal demons I battle. In my entertainment, I don’t want to face those realities in a realistic setting. I would argue those same realities are in the paranormal, but in a background where they are easier to handle and comprehend and still be entertained. I would also argue that historical fiction is also not of this world. Must be why I like it too.

So don’t expect me to write or read the next great American novel. Give me magic, fairies, spaceships, and time travel. I’ll take my characters and morality from real fiction instead of reality fiction. Disagree with me? That’s fine. I’m not asking you to change your mind. But don’t judge my tastes either.

Meanwhile I’m waiting for a friend of mine to return from her European trip and bring me the Harry Potter series in German. Can’t wait to re-read them.

–Gabi

Books I’m reading now:

A Storm of Swords by George RR Martin (re-read)

 

 

Favorites

The most interesting thing about having written a collection of short (short) stories is how everyone has a different favorite. Smaller Preternatural High Res FINAL REV copyI like them all but even I have a couple that stand out as my favorites. The people who have previewed the stories all told me they enjoyed the entire collection, but X is their favorite. X has been different for each person. One friend like the first in the collection; my husband liked a totally different one. I find it so interesting that our tastes can vary so much. I also find it wonderful.

Why so wonderful? There are books people rave about that I couldn’t finish. (You know the one I’m talking about, Monique.) There are books I obsess about that I can’t get others to read. What it shows is that there is room for everyone out there in the world of books. You may not like my books, but you’ll rave over someone else’s. Some author might leave you cold, but my books will carry you away to that magic world where you forget yourself. It’s all good.

If we all liked the same thing, we’d all have to read (and eat, and view, and furnish our houses with) the same thing. Yuck. How boring. While I believe there is value in having common experiences in a culture , i.e., certain books, films, etc. that everyone has read or seen, you are still allowed to pick your favorites. And pick your unfavorites. Taste and sharing them or arguing over them makes life interesting.

Have I mentioned I don’t like olives?

–Gabi

Books I’m reading now:

This Case is Gonna Kill Me by Phillipa Bornikova

Rosemary and Rue by Seanan MacGuire

A Game of Thrones  by George RR Martin (reread)

The Perfect Book…

…doesn’t exist. I’m convinced of it. From any aspect, no book is perfect. It has grammatical errors (and I speak from experience here: My last novel went through numerous iterations from me, from my editor, from me again, from the copy editor, from me again, and then I went through the galley proofs and still found 143 errors. I try not to glance at my book’s content once it’s in print out of fear of catching more errors, but I had to give a reading at a book signing, and–cringe–I found an error while I was reading. It’s not a good idea.), pacing errors, printing errors, word choice errors, and if by some minuscule chance all those errors don’t exist, then, guaranteed, the final product doesn’t live up to the author’s vision (mine never have) and  there will be people who don’t like the book and others who absolutely adore the book. A perfect book is a mythological beast.

Which is why it is a fruitless goal to try to write a perfect book. Like life, a book will be messy. It will be messy while you write it, while you work out its kinks, while you “fix” it. And that’s okay. I believe a book should be messy. The entire process of writing is a an exercise of insanity which we try to justify by claiming creative license. That’s okay. Eventually we wrestle the beast into some coherent form (hopefully) and with even more luck (much, much more luck), we’ll find a few readers whom we entertain and, if we’re extremely lucky, whom we touch.

So my non- New-Year’s resolution, which just happens to fall on January 1, 2013, is to embrace the insanity and ride it; to enjoy the utter despair and the utter joy a writer feels during and after the process; to acknowledge the futility and do it anyway.

Happy New Year to you all.

–Gabi

Books I’m reading:

Mai Tai One On by Jill Marie Landis

The Lady Most Willing by Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, and Connie Brockway

Is it bad…

Am I being closed-minded if I just don’t want to watch/read certain shows, films, or books just because?

Take for instance the TV show Breaking Bad. There’s no reason not to believe its hype. It’s funny (at least I’ve been told the first couple of seasons are), well-written, has rounded characters, interesting story lines; it’s critically acclaimed and its actors have received acting awards. It’s even filmed in Albuquerque, my town, and the production company has brought money into the community. All good things. But I don’t want to watch it. Stories about drugs are not my kind of thing. Stories about men who descend into darkness–not my kind of thing. So I haven’t seen it, and despite having it on Netflix, I won’t be watching it any time soon. I’m sure it deserves its accolades, but I don’t want to watch it.

There are books that do the same. Every time I pick up a book I should read (Kite Runner, Life of Pi) I’ve been disappointed. It’s not that I don’t see the merit of the books, but when I read I want to be swept away. I don’t want to search for its merits. I could see teaching these books, but not sitting down to read them for fun. My taste. I won’t apologize for it.

And don’t think I’m not as harsh on my beloved genre fiction books. I’d say more than half of them I read the first two, maybe three chapters, then just skim the rest to know what happens (unless I’m judging it for a contest; then I read every page). The book that carries me through page by page is a rarity. And one that is becoming more and more rare. So many things can pull me out of the story: a wrong fact, grammar errors (I mean the ones that aren’t deliberate), and most of all lack of logic. I just finished judging a contest and the biggest errors I found in these unpublished manuscripts was lack of logic. People I know wouldn’t behave a certain way without a good reason, and needed a behavior to further the story is not reason enough.

We all have our limits, buttons, narrow view. I’m trying to broaden mine when it comes to important things. But do I have to when it comes to entertainment? Am I being closed-minded?

–Gabi

Books I’m reading now (and although I don’t usually write whether I’m enjoying them or not, I thought I should after today’s post):

My Lady Mage by Alexis Morgan (And I’m truly enjoying it–reading every page.)