Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Vahalla Rising by Clive Cussler

Title: Vahalla Rising

Author: Clive Cussler

Genre: Mystery, a Dirk Pitt novel

Summary: A clever scientist invents a way to produce high quality oil cheaply, but the company he used to work for doesn't want anyone to know about it.

The Take-Away: Fantastic escapes and rescues pepper this novel from the start. Every impossible situation is resolved and Dirk keeps his humor and wits about him at all time. The plot solely relies on the antics of Dirk and womanizing side-kick Al.

A unique element of Mr. Cussler's novels is the appearance of the author in each one. Usually, Dirk and Al have gotten themselves into a situation that no stretch of the imagination can resolve. Mr. Cussler literally steps in and saves the day. While it rings of deus ex machina, it becomes an event that the reader waits for, knowing that it will occur.

Recommendation: If action driven reading is what you seek, look to any of the Dirk Pitt novels.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Red Lily by Nora Roberts

Title: Red Lily

Author: Nora Roberts

Genre: Romance

Summary: The conclusion to the In the Garden Trilogy. The ghost of the plantation owner's mistress is finally put to rest as the youngest of the three women finds love.

The Take-Away: As long as the plot isn't trite, the characters shine. There is a reason for Ms Roberts to have over 150 titles in print. Time and again she creates fantastic characters. The sparks flying between Hayley and Harper are no exception. I especially enjoyed that as a woman in her twenties, Hayley had a good command of today's slang. It sounded natural coming out of her mouth, a feat not easily accomplished.

Recommendation: Pick up the others first, then read this one.

The Secret Life of Mrs. Claus by Carly Alexander

Title: The Secret Life of Mrs. Claus

Author: Carly Alexander

Genre: Chick Lit

Summary: The adventures of a Mrs. Claus suit and the women who wear it are told in the course of three short stories.

The Take-Away: Each woman has a different reason for being required to wear the suit. Each believe that the suit shares some of Christmas' magic and attributes the changes in their lives to its presence. The obvious interconnecting theme is the suit and Christmas. The subtle theme is family.

Our views of family have changed drastically with the rise of divorce and publicizing of same-sex relations. Family means more than Mom, Dad, the kids and the grand parents. Each of these women learns that family is more than genetics and sees how their lives are enriched because of those around them and where they live.

Recommendation: Great way to get into the Christmas mood. Check it out if you want to recapture that or mark your calender to read it next Christmas.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Miscellaneous Writing Tips

There is a line from the musical Sunset Boulevard that goes something like, "It's so good to see how bad bad writing can be." (Forgive the paraphasing.)

I have been reading writing technique books and collected some purple prose that I'd like to share. I'm finding bits of bad writing not only in others work, but also my own. As a result I'm changing it while I write, and not during the re-write.

1. Passive voice. When I was in college I had a reputation for proof-reading papers. My favorite thing to do was circle the verbs "is, are, was, were, has, have or had" in a thick red ink. Then I'd arrow to the infinitive that was hidding the verb. I recall being quite vicious to some of my regulars. After a recent conference, I recalled this activity of mine when a woman there suggested doing just that. Now I find that when I am writing the words for the very first time and I start to pen one of the forbidden ones, I think about what infinitive I was going to use and edit my thoughts into the active tense.

2. Adverb overload. The -ly words I tend to leave in, but return to them later and work them into proper phrases or eliminate them entirely. (Sounds quite gruesome, eh?) They are trickier than the Passive Verbs and require more thought to remove completely. (See? They just creep in there.)

3. Exclamation points. I recently bought a book whose author loves this punctuation mark. If your words don't excite me, neither will a change of punctuation. This is one that I can savely say I never use.

4. Gerund clause. I'm terribly guiltly of this. I freely admit that it is a guiltly pleasuring and an ineffective way of describing something. This example is the edit I most often recognize in my own writing. Others may disagree with me.

While this list is not by any means conclusive, it is a start. I figure, if I recognize this mistakes, fix them as I go, I'll improve the quality of my writing just in time to recognize other mistakes I'm making.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Funny Things about Kids

The 2yo races down the stairs, saying, "Mom, Mom, Mom. Julia here. Julia here. Mom, Mom, Mom. Julia here. Julia here." (Except he says it with two Ls. It's great.)

He flies into the kitchen and lauches his 42 lb body at my legs. "Mom, Julia's here."

As if 6yo Julia could have broken into the house without my noticing her slim form sneaking up the steps that are just off the kitchen.

Of course, I might have missed the repeated announcement as he came down the steps. Really, it's quite understandable.

Analysing a Short

JA Konrath has posted a short story to Fictional Musings. His entry is entitled The Big Guys. Several things about this, without giving it away.

  1. The bulk of the story is told through dialogue. Just eyeballing it, I'd say that 75% is dialogue.
  2. Dialogue tags are generally the characters actions, not "he said." The two characters have distinct voices and following who says what isn't a problem.
  3. I laughed at the end, and I'm pretty sure that it was wrong to do so.

I recently read that JA Konrath got a six-figure advance for his three book contract. In turn about half has been spent on marketing. This guy knows the business and writes beautifully. It will not surprise me when his name is as common as James Patterson's or John Grisham's.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Strange Facts about my Keyboard

My place of work issues a Dell computer for every user that requires one. When I first started, I inherited a box that sounded as though I was shifting into first instead of booting my computer. It wasn't a Dell, but I don't know (re: doubt) that it makes a difference.

When I moved onto a job that required my computer to not sound like it was going to explode every time I did a calculation, I got a new one from Dell, the one that this post is devoted to. I've had this computer and its keyboard for just over two years. I'm thoroughly attached to my flat panel monitor. The CPU has a fantastic amount of memory. Whenever one of the IT guys comes around for department upgrades or audits, they say, "Wow, what are you doing here?" It's a great feeling.

Since I'm the only one to every use this keyboard, I know that all of the defects reviewed here are caused by me personally.

Dell has a black matte finish on their keyboards. My home computer is from Dell also, but doesn't have the same level of defect that this black matte finish has caused.

Simply by looking at my keyboard you can tell I'm right handed. I use my right tumb to space. I don't even know why I have a left thumb. It hovers within touching distance the tip of my right thumb. I recall being taught to space with both thumbs, but really why? When one considers the alternatives of being able to wear out the black matte finish on a space bar in the course of two years just by using one thumb? I wonder how long it would take to wear a hole in the space bar. If I bribe the IT guy who brings my next computer, I wonder if he will let me keep my keyboard so I can figure that out.

Several of the other keys have that same glossy look to them. Most are in the home row of the keyboard. "F" has lost almost all of its matte finish. Just the letter itself is protected since I tend to hit the lower right corner. Or, at least, that's what the missing matte tells me.

"A" is the other extreme. Only a tiny portion of the matte finish is missing. The lower left corner, in fact. "R" and "T" are suffering too. So is "N."

Given the popularity of these letters among Wheel of Fortune contestants, I'd have to say that they simply show up more.

So then I got to wondering about programmers and people who make use of those characters about the number keys. Do any of them show the wear and tear that my keyboard has?

Unfortunately, I must leave this question unanswered. I don't know any programmers that I can ask. The amount I do wouldn't fill half a thimble. But careful examination of my keyboard did reveal that I shift with my left pinkie finger.

Thank God the matte is still on the backspace key. At least I'm not spending my time on errors.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Mugging the Muse by Holly Lisle

Title: Mugging the Muse

Author: Holly Lisle

Genre: Non-Fiction

Summary: All of Holly's best writing advice in one convinent, downloadable .pdf file.

The Take-Away: Holly makes her living by writing books. She's not as famous as James Patterson or Neil Gaiman, but she's entertaining, clever and writes a damn good book. Her down to earth advice jives with everything else I've heard or read about the industry. If you've wondered how to face the computer, manage your money or find an agent, she lays out how it works for her.

Recommendation: It's free. Take the time to read it either on screen or print out the section that is most interesting.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Sanctuary by Nora Roberts

Title: Santuary

Author: Nora Roberts

Genre: Mystery

Summary: The photos of a mother who disappeared 15 years ago have been left for her daughter. Their appearance and the unknown intent behind the sender have driven Jo back to Santuary, her childhood home.

The Take-Away: I've been reading quite a few of Ms Roberts books lately. Two reasons: they are fabulous to re-read; I'm cleaning out shelves with the intent to BookCrossing them.

After the first chapter I remembered who the bad guy was. It gave me a chance to see where and how she planted the clues that lead to the plausible ending. If the clue is too subtle, the ending comes out of nowhere. If it is too obvious, the reader knows who-dun-it and has lost interest. Ms Roberts builds not only hot romances, but stellar clues into her novels.

Recommendation: Sign up for BookCrossing and nab it when I release it into the wild.

4 x 9

Egads, I've been tagged. While my responses won't be as interesting as Jess Riley's, they are as follows:

Four Jobs You've Had in Your Life:
  1. Sales rep for a now defunct MLM company. Some where along the way I got smarter too.
  2. Breakfast cook for Perkins. I'm proud to say that I can cook eggs, hash browns and toast for 52 people in one hour, but am incapable of making pancake batter.
  3. Desktop Publisher, which actually involved no software that such a position would usually utilize
  4. A database administrator, even though I'm trained to be a teacher
Four Movies You Could Watch Over and Over:
  1. The Princess Bride
  2. Monsters, Inc.
  3. Ever After
  4. Cutting Edge
Four Places You've Lived:
  1. Ten miles south of the Corn Palace
  2. Twenty minutes west of Mankato, MN
  3. At the Foot of Lake Winnebago
  4. In a dorm, for eight years
Four Websites You Visit Daily:
  1. Google
  2. Start Sampling
  3. Bloglines
  4. Dooce
Four TV Shows You Love to Watch:
  1. Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends (I've been trying to figure out how to work them into a post)
  2. Hogan Knows Best
  3. The O.C.
  4. Mythbusters
Four of Your Favorite Foods
  1. Kiwi
  2. Expensive Chocolate
  3. Grilled tuna steaks
  4. Goldfish crackers
Four Albums You Can't Live Without:
  1. The O.C. mix 2
  2. Tori Amos: Little Earthquakes
  3. They Might be Giants: Flood
  4. Eve 6
Four Places You'd Rather Be:
  1. Asleep in my bed
  2. England
  3. At a book store with someone else's charge card (or at least one that I didn't have to worry about pay)
  4. In my yet-to-be-developed home office plunking out the words of my next, highly anticipated novel
Four People Who are Now Obligated to do this on Their Blog :
  1. Kayla
  2. Allen
  3. Dick
  4. Ash

Friday, January 20, 2006

A Good Idea

I so wish my current company had something like this

As the company [Google] grew, the most useful aspect of MOMA [Google's intranet] for me was the phone list, which contained the title, email address, IM name, photo, extension and location of everyone on the payroll. The individual's name would be linked to a list of his or her quarterly goals and objectives, so you could understand exactly where your proposed project was likely to fit in their priority list before you even spoke with them.

If I have to chastize someone about shipping a package the wrong way, I'd like to know where s/he stands on the totem pole. Afterall, I'd phrase it a bit differently if it was a vice president than if it was the bloke sitting upstairs.

via Xooglers

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Easy Post Day

My patronus is: is Siberian Tiger.
Take Reveal Your Ridden Harry-Pottery Patronus today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Name Generator Generator.

A Newbie's Guide to Publishing: Down in the Infodumps

It's as if JA Konrath was at my last crit group meeting.

A Newbie's Guide to Publishing: Down in the Infodumps

You know I'm talking about. Those big chunks of information that are essential to the story, but which most readers skip.

I'm currently writing a passage about a toxic substance. The reader needs to know what this substance does, how it works, and why it is so dangerous, because that sets up the suspense in several key scenes further down the road.

But laundry lists and textbook definitions aren't interesting. So these are the sneaky tricks I'm using to force the info down the reader's throat:...

Okay, so I'm forcing you to go to his site to get the tips. But Joe has lots of great stuff posted over there. Spend some time reading and then check out his novels.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Pardon Me whilst I Rant for a Bit

My daycare provider (who is absolutely fabulous, by the way, if you are looking for one in my area) keeps me abreast of various happenings that she hears through her extensive grapevine.

Oshkosh PD is cracking down on child safety in vehicles. Organized and random stops can result in fines around $200 if a child isn't properly secured. While I applaud their willingness to seek out such evil irresponsible parents, what about the people who are driving along at 10, 15 or even 20 miles over a speed limit? I'm guilty of it. I've lost count of the number of times I've met a cop car while driving to fast and watched in my mirrors for the tell-tale lights.

I have yet to see them.

What about the parents who have kids like mine that throw up at least once a month and the car seat has yak all over it? If that's not extenuating circumstances, then what is?

But what really pisses me off is while they are catching these criminals irresponsible parents, cigarettes are being sold to the parents of small children. Might as well sell an inhaler for the asthma they'll get right along with it.

The wait staff of most local restaurants are subject to second hand smoke and the various short and long term effects of it.

At Target, I have to give my driver's license and sign a pledged of non-misuse to purchase cold medicine (but not cough syrup).

Driving through the stoplights at 9th and Koeller is the equivalent of playing Russian roulette, but with cars. Will they stop for the red light so I can go through my green turn arrow?

What's the next target going to be? A real offender like cigarettes? Or fast food restaurants and their artery clogging products? Or the scores of people who believe traffic lights are a suggestion?

Nope, I figure it will be something really useful like making sure all trees in the city are trimmed to a proper level.

Child safety is important and I wouldn't want my kids to be the ones to suffer. But doesn't our police department have a better use for their time?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Sunday Wife by Cassandra King

Title: The Sunday Wife

Author: Cassandra King

Genre: Chick Lit

Summary: At her husband's new church, Dean discovers what it means to be someone besides the preacher's wife.

What was Good: Being a public figure in a large church is not an easy role, especially when the leader follow's his own agenda. Dean (short for Willowdean) has always felt grateful that her husband wanted her for his wife. After twenty years of marriage, Dean is tired of playing the role that he expects of her. Ben's ambitions to be appointed to the bishop's cabinent ignore that Dean is being eaten alive by the ladies of the church. Augusta sees what they are doing and befriends Dean. Augusta is a lapsed member of their church and Ben is in favor of their blossoming friendship as a means to get Augusta and her prominent family as an active part of his membership.

Augusta has no intention of playing the part Ben has outlined for her. Instead, she helps Dean find the courage to be the women she wants to be. Augusta, however, has her own flaws. As Dean learns to stand up for herself, she is swept into the conclusion of a story that began when Augusta was a teenager.

What wasn't: Ms King assumes that the reader will been familiar with the dynamics of church women. It wasn't until the very end that the true evil that can sometimes be found in the kindness of others was illustrated.

The Take-Away: I used to be a teacher at a parochial school. The politics and malicious nature of these women weren't something I was subjected to, yet I could see exactly why Dean felt as she did. Being in the critical public eye and always coming up short wasn't fun. I completely understand the stifled nature that Dean developed for her own protection.

Recommendation: Buy it, share it with your women friends and think twice about the pressures that the preacher's wife faces.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Dan Paulick, A Triad Affair

Apple Blossom Books, downtown Oshkosh, will host local author, Dan Paulick, at 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21. Paulick will read from his recently published novella, “A Triad Affair, ” and be available to sign copies of his book. For more on this or other Apple Blossom Books events, call 230-3395. via OAWC

My Bad Influence

The five year old, henceforth and forevermore known as Ollie, has taken-up a habit that thrills me to pieces and makes his father shake his head and consider revoking my rights as a mother.

He has decided to write books. I can even pinpoint when and where it all started. One weekend, while my husband abandoned me for the joy of sitting in a deer stand, yet not actually shooting a deer, I took the kids to a playland at a nearby mall. It served a two-fold purpose; they could run off steam and I could work on my NaNo novel. Ollie decided to check out what I was doing.

Things lay dormant until the next weekend he was over. He was coloring, a normal practice, and quite quiet about it until his brother decided to bother him.

Ollie requested, "Stop bothering me, I writing a story."

This was the first in an endless set of stories. He has a plethora of notebooks and an endless supply of paper. Every so often, he'll bring me pages that are ready for production (stapling.) Or he'll say, "This is a really long story I writing." He's not so good yet with the various forms of to be.

My husband is on one side thrilled. Yet he shakes his head and recognizes that this could become a uncontrollable beast that I will endeavor to feed.

And he's right.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Character Workshop

Holly Lisle's Create a character workshop is open for business. I have a link on the side if you should decide to purchase it. The first three chapters are free for browsing. It costs $9.95 and is well worth the price.

Creative Marketing

A Legend of Ethshar on the Installment Plan

I'm Lawrence Watt-Evans, author of some three dozen novels and hundreds of short stories, articles, etc. One of my best-known series has been the Legends of Ethshar, consisting (as of 2004) of eight novels originally published by Del Rey Books or Tor Books and seven short stories that appeared in various anthologies.

Alas, no major mainstream publisher is interested in continuing the Ethshar series at present. On the other hand, I had several readers saying they desperately want to see more. I decided to see whether enough of them were willing to put their money where their mouths are to finance more Ethshar stories -- and perhaps eventually continuations of other series that no longer have major publishers.

I wonder how much well known author's would be able to earn (and keep more of) and other mid-list authors. Fantastic idea and one to keep in mind.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Carolina Moon by Nora Roberts

Title: Carolina Moon

Author: Nora Roberts

Genre: Mystery

Summary: Tory returns to the troubled house of her past to discover who murdered her best friend Hope. While finding the murderer, she also finds love and a new friend.

The Take-Away: Every writer, it seems, has at least one book with paranormal elements. Ms Roberts uses the cliche of a pyschic good enough to find missing children, but unable to see who killed her best friend during their childhood.

When I look over Ms Roberts career as a whole, I can see how she improved and where past book most likely influenced later ones. This book, I believe, was something of a forerunner for later works that relay heavily on paranormal elements for both good and evil. Even though the idea of a psychic is cliche, Ms Roberts' skills at characterization allow the reader to over look such flaws.

Recommendation: Read it during a beach weekend get away.

Shorts, Please

Kelly Parra of Words of a Writer has started another site featuring Fictional Musings

Her goal is to post a new story, once a week, of 700 words or less. If you are interested in submitting, visit Fictional Musings for details.

My first submittal is here.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Random Facts

I've been tagged to provide five random facts about myself by Kelli. I've seen this making the round. I like being tagged, but hate it too.

Providing random facts is more difficult than it seems.

Random Fact #1 - Type A Personality

I am a type A personality, but I'm also a natural slacker. Unless something is worthwhile, I'll completely ignore it. Housecleaning is a good example of this. But when I need to get it done, it's a top to bottom event that scares my family because they come home and everything is sparkling. Schoolwork was like that for me as is my current job. If I don't see the value, I just won't do it. Thank god I have a supervisor that I can be honest with and tell him why I won't do it the way he wants everytime.

I'm also willing to work ten times as hard on something that will mean less work in the long run. For instance, the recent reporting bonzana at my desk took about ten hours to set-up, five hours of tweaking, but next time it should take two hours, max.

Random Fact #2 - Career Goal = Writer

I love writing stories, even though I make tons of mistakes. I even enjoy being critiqued because it enables me to grow. Others see things I don't. I know what I was attempting to achieve; the difference between thoughts in my head and words on paper are magnified.

But the only time I have to write is at work since the 2yo has decided that naps are passe. I set a timer and write on my breaks. I've learned to write in 15 minute blocks and have difficulty breaking out of that rut.

Random Fact #3 - Fake Excel Guru for Hire

I'm routinely called upon at work to solve excel related problems. I know that my knowledge bows to the likes of Dick Kusleika but no one else seems to realize it. Because I'm willing to dig for an answer, I usually find it. I even have a small consulting firm on the side for those with questions in MS Word, Excel and Access.

Random Fact #4 - I'm a runner

I ran track in high school and developed terrible shin splints. Now I run on an elliptical runner 3 or 4 times a week for 30 minutes. If you know what I look like, this will most likely surprise you. I'm not lean, but I'm healthier now than I was a year ago when I started this activity again. To motivate myself, I schedule time during the day and keep track of my progress. Once running, I listen to audio books and forbid myself to listen to the tape anywhere else.

Random Fact #5 - Keeper of Records

I obsessively track my reading progress. The details listed here are kept in an Excel workbook.

I save my blog monthly. It's like a journal, only in HTML format rather than bound book. It's easier to read than my handwriting and updated regularly, whereas my journal might lie untouched for a month at a time. But my journal records the depressing and anxiety driven elements of my life. Therefore it holds more value if lost.

Every month I write a letter to Ollie and O-jo (my boys) telling them what life has been like for the last month. If the book is full before they are 18, I'll give the appropriate copy to each child. The letters are different for each one and very honest.

I carry a USB drive with my most important things on it. It's not the back-up, but the original. The back-up is on the home computer. And in my email box.

I keep a daily to do list at work, save them and print them. I don't have a good reason for the archive, but the daily record is needed so I can remember what issues are outstanding.

I'm tagging Word Nerd, Bethany, Ruth, who needs to start her own blog and showcasing some of those wonderful pieces she brings to the critique group, Erin, who is new to Oshkosh and needs to feel some love from those who already reside here, and Dave, for braving the world of blogging and NaNo. Go to, people, go to.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Good Advice for Newbies

Joe A Konrath writes the "Lt. Jack Daniels" mystery series. No, I haven't read it, but it's the library's fault as they aren't getting my reserves to me fast enough.

Joe also writes a blog about his adventures in publishing. Two of his recent posts are well worth the trip over there.

Both posts are excellent and should be read by those that have received hints to read other blogs.

A Handy Reference

Need the phone number for Amazon? How about Dell?

Hard to Find 800 Numbers has them for you.

via J-Walk

Monday, January 09, 2006

Genuine Lies by Nora Roberts

Title: Genuine Lies

Author: Nora Roberts

Genre: Mystery

Summary: Silver Screen star Eve Benedict has spent a life time making memories. She has chosen the biographer and begins relating tales that will forever change the lives of her friends and enemies. One of them is determined to keep her from telling the world their secrets.

The Take-Away: Classic Nora Roberts. I consider this book to be part of the Oxymoron Collection. How, pray tell, can you have a lie that is geniune? Eve is determined to take away the sugar coating that she surrounded the stories and tell the truth. It wasn't until the very end that I had any idea as to who was detrimined to stop the book until the very end. It comes way out of left field, but that is part of the charm that Eve holds over Hollywood.

Recommendation: Read it and delight in the way a woman worked her way into Hollywood.

Public Service Announcement

A way of stealing that I never thought of - Check Washing

How would you like to hand someone a blank check? Pretty dumb, right? Well check washing is a growing problem and it essentially puts a blank check in your name in the hands of criminals that are more than willing to fill out any dollar amount to their own bank accounts. Check washing is the process of taking a check that's already been filled out, removing the ink from a pen, then re-writing in a new dollar amount and recipient.

The purpose of this project is to show how easy it is to wash a check and to raise awareness of the best defenses against check washing. In the following pages you will see that I've written out eight checks out to myself and attempted to "wash" the checks in order to write in new dollar amounts. The main target of this experiment is to see what pen defends against check washing the best.

Basically, it's possible. The multitude of possibilities are endless. Fodder for the next novel, I say.

The other one that plagues me is all of those credit card offers that go to my address that aren't for me. I'm forced to assume that mine must go to my old addresses as well. One bad egg and my credit history is toast. Such has happened to Jory and caused endless trouble which she has shared with readers everywhere. One good thing to come of it is at the end of her latest post: where to go to prevent problems. One link is an opt out for the three major credit bureaus selling of your contact information. Your name and mailing information is removed from their lists. Go here to opt out.

The best thing is to check, not when making major purchases, but periodically. AnnualCreditReports.com is the place to go for that. No link provided as it won't load to the site anyway.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Marquette Warrior: Dental School Blogger: Dean Reduces Punishment

Update on the Marquette Dental Student Blogger.

Thanks, John McAdams, for letting me know about this.

It's bunk, of course, what happened. But the school suceeded in raising awareness of the issue instead of dealing with it in a quiet manner.

The Truth about my Addiction

My librarian friend introduced me to a thoroughly evil site called BookCloseouts.com. I'd be angry with her except I'm too excited. Here's why.

I found the following books for the following prices, plus a $5 off $35 or more, which on the internet means free shipping.

  • 3 by Finney for $4.99
  • From Time to Time for $1.20
  • Time and Again for $4.49
  • The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! for $2.99
  • The Poet and the Murderer for $3.99
  • By a Spider's Thread for $5.99
  • Bubbles A Broad for $4.99
  • The Devil's Arithmetic for $1.99
  • Mirror, Mirror for $5.49

The grand total (including shipping) was (drum roll please)...$37.57

Yep, I averaged $4.17 a book and saved $105.71.

This means bad things for my already overflowing books shelves. It started out innocently. I was just going to look for The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! because the five year old is dying to own it. I've renewed it once and we read it at least once a day when he is at our house.

But I found the Jack Finney titles, which, I must admit, I've wanted to own since I first found them in college. We're talking about 7 years here, people. Do you own anything that is originally cost less than $20 seven years ago and still want it? I thought not.

By then I was up to that $15-20 range and well, what the hell. I googled for a coupon and hit pay dirt. (That's something I never thought I would ever say.)

Back to my original point. Don't visit this site or get sucked into its book buying goodness unless your shelves are empty or you have better self control that I do.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

My thoughts on the Crapometer

Miss Snark recently concluded her review of reader submitted synopsis. I confess I had to stop reading because there were over a hundred and my family wanted to eat supper.

Instead I picked out the ones I liked the best. Here they are.

  • Mine which received less than rave reviews
  • #98 received an excellent
  • #93 was a good synopsis but made Miss Snark want to NOT read the book
  • #91 better serves as flap copy
  • #23 received an excellent
  • #39 might pass muster, but needed to be zippier
  • #48 was a big mess
  • #51 had chronology problems
  • #52 received a very good and required minor corrections
  • #88 revealed plotting and realism flaws
  • #85 also had plotting flaws
  • #83 had a good synopsis, but no new ideas
  • #81 is an example of "not for us"
  • #57 needs work, but the pages would be read
  • #61 shows how agents learn about a synopsis outside of their usual genre(s)
  • #80 didn't have an ending, but the writing was good

The entries start in December and run through January, in case you are interested in seeing more (or need to reference good and bad examples when writing your own.)

Best of all was the appreciation shown in The Snarkling Anthem. I know I appreciated seeing the good and bad. How else do people learn?

The Truth of being a Librarian

Miss Information is as helpful as her name implies at her local library. Where the woman dwells is a mystery I'm detremined to unravel, but lack the proper tools to do it.

The challenges of being a librarian, however, are captured in full detail, along with the characters met.

Miss Information was sitting minding her own business at the Reference Desk when a Circ Desk clerk approached her, accompanied by a patron. It seems the gentleman hadn’t brought his library card because he doesn’t “carry things like that around with him”. He did however have a photocopy of the card and a photocopied piece of ID.

Her character descriptions remind me of novels. It must be something in the stacks.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The Friendship Test by Elizabeth Noble

Title: The Friendship Test

Author: Elizabeth Noble

Genre: Chick Lit

Summary: When women have been friends since college secrets are bound to be had and discovered. The boundaries of friendship are tested as the groups' dynamics shift over the next twenty years. The starting point for the confrontation is death, divorce and overseas travel.

The Take-Away: Amazing characters. The four women that dominate this novel have fantastic voices that are readily recognizable from one another. Each of these women have amazing strengths, and weaknesses, that color them. Their foibles are skillfully laid out and lead to a realistic resolution. If only we all could be so lucky as to have friends that bond over the years as tighly as these women do.

At times it was challenging to remember that they were characters in a novel. When I wasn't reading, I wondered what the next chapter would reveal about their history and their future. Ms Noble ties the relavent pieces of the past with the current events. The two threads of the story are balanced until they converge with the final secret confessed.

This is Ms Noble second novel. Her first, The Reading Club, has been surpassed by her second.

Recommendation: If you haven't read The Reading Club yet, pick up both and enjoy.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Bookworm Review, 2005


  • The Time-Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  • Strange Bedpersons by Jennifer Crusie
  • Maerilon the Magican by Patricia C. Wrede
  • Catering to Nobody by Diane Mott Davidson
  • No Plot, No Problem by Chris Baty
  • Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
  • The Beauty Bride by Claire Delacroix
  • If the Shoe Fits by Jennifer Weiner
  • The Raven King by Patricia C. Wrede
  • Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynn Truss
  • The Runaway Jury by John Grisham
March April May June July August September October November


Bookworm Report, December 2005

I'm not much for New Year's Resolutions, but if I were to endeavor to make a list, it would be sure to include a wider variety of reading material. This year I read mostly Chick Lit books. I need to get out of that genre. Any suggestions?

On to The List!

Bookworm Review
Year Pages Books
2001 4,032 14
2002 2,017 4
2003 1,305 4
2004 4,647 15
2005 3,909 9

For 2005, I read 114 books, or 42,519 pages, which averages to 10 books a month, or 3,543 pages per month, and an average book length of 373 pages.

2005: 114 books; 42,519 pages

2004: 94 books; 33,910 pages

2003: 54 books; 20,673 pages

2002: 87 books; 32,812 pages

2001: 164 books; 49,482 pages

Complete posting of all titles read to follow.