Tuesday, January 25, 2011

        Fantasy books are my first love. My home library shelves are home to my “keeper” authors – almost all of whom write in the fantasy genre. JRR Tolkien was the first who turned me on to worlds other than our own. I first read the LOTR trilogy when I was in high school and we were taking a trip to Florida. I brought it along as reading material, having already read The Hobbit and not really loving it.

        I might as well not have left my room for all I saw of Florida that vacation. I spent my days with my nose buried in Middle Earth, walking the forest paths with Strider and the Halflings, riding with Eomer over the plains of Rohan, struggling with Sam as he tried to get Frodo up Mount Doom. I was hooked.

        Except there were few fantasies ‘way back then (the early 70’s), so I turned to science fiction for exploration of new ideas and new worlds. I also dove head-first into Mary Stewart’s Merlin trilogy, eagerly awaiting each new book, loving her exploration of the world of Arthur and his magician.

       By the end of the decade, the genre had ridden to the crest of a wonderful wave. Fred Saberhagen, Piers Anthony, Robert Jordan, Terry Brooks followed shortly after by David Eddings, Katherine Kurtz and Anne McCaffery. I read them all, kept them all on my growing bookshelves. Those and more.

      And then came children.

      My obstetrician, upon seeing me comfortable in my hospital bed reading the Sunday paper the day after my daughter was born, laughed at me and said, “Enjoy that paper. It’s the last thing you’re going to read for the next eighteen years.” I laughed with him, thinking he was joking.

      He wasn’t.

      Between holding down a full-time job, raising two children (my son was born 20 months after my daughter) and being a wife, lover and friend to my husband – reading fell way down the list of priorities. Who had time to go to the library, let alone read what you borrowed? Buying new books? Out of the question. We needed diapers, school uniforms, milk money. I read short magazine articles in doctor’s waiting rooms. That was it.

      But children grow and since September my husband and I have an empty nest. Temporarily only – they’re just away at college. But time to remember what we used to do with our lives before they filled it up with wonder.

      A few days ago my daughter and I browsed a bookstore and I came across the Complete Book of Swords by Fred Saberhagen – all the Swords books in one volume. I read those books. Twenty years ago. I still have them on my shelves. Today I visited another bookstore, this time I came across a new Piers Anthony book – part of his Xanth series. Another set I read such a long time ago.

      And Katherine Kurtz with a Deryni book published two years ago for a series I once devoured a book at a time, impatiently waiting for the next to be released. Here this one had been out for two years and I didn’t even know it existed. I shook my head, then grinned – and bought it.

      But I’m not going to read it. Not just yet. This year is my year for fantasy. I pulled down the Saberhagen and Anthony books and put them on my TBR pile. I’m debating if I want to re-read the Deryni series in the order in which she wrote them, or the chronological order in which they occur. I’ll decide soon –and I’ll re-read them all, sliding the new book in it’s proper place either at the end, or in the middle where the chronology puts it.

      I’m very excited. A year dedicated to the genre I love. I can’t wait to get started!

     Play safe, everyone...and I hope you enjoy some of these authors, too!


Sunday, January 16, 2011

So I've been one lazy writer the past three weeks. I haven't read any books. Started one, put it down within twenty pages. Contemporary California girl-books just aren't my interest. Never been to Rodeo Drive and that lifestyle holds no allure. Now, give me a mountain, a running brook and a cabin occupied by a fine specimen of the male persuasion and I'm all over it! Put the cabin in the high country of the west, the backwoods of the Ozarks or the clear forests of the Adirondacks -- it doesn't matter. But alone? Forced into the company of said alpha male? Oh, yeah...

I say I read books about people. I like the characters, their foibles, their problems, their solutions. I read biographies and autobiographies because I'm interested in what makes people tick. Mostly I stick to entertainers and writers because the creative process fascinates me. How does one create something from nothing? I do it all the time when I write a story, but that doesn't mean I'm anywhere closer to understanding how it happens or where it comes from.

But apparently setting is important to me as well. Last night my husband asked if I wanted to sit and watch a movie with him. It was his turn to pick but I told him, "nothing urban and gritty". I'm not much of a cops and robbers sort anyway, and some of the movies he and my son like are just too dark for my tastes. He suggested Johnny Mneumonic which is based on a book by William Gibson. I knew it was science fiction, which I do enjoy, and the blurb sounded rather cool, so I agreed.

And what was it? Science fiction set in an urban and gritty setting! Grrrr! I liked the premise of the movie, if some of the details strained credulity (amazing that they could still broadcast at the end of the movie after all the stuff that got blown up) but I didn't like the dark, distopian view of our future. I'm an optimist, people! I DO believe we'll make it as a global society. There will continue to be fits and starts, but we're making progress.

Okay, I'll get off my soapbox with this conclusion: after all my posturing on how important characters are to me, setting is equally important. Not so much the time period part of setting, but the location. Apparently the real estate agents are right.

Play safe!

Sunday, January 09, 2011

I blogged this week over at the Sizzlin' Scribes -- come on over and take a look and leave a comment :)

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Okay! Here are my totals for 2010:

I read a total of 36 books (I know, a paltry number compared to many of you, but remember, I have to balance my reading with my writing them for YOU to read! :) ).

Of that 36, five were biographies, three were straight fantasies, two were historical, two were historical romances (which moves them more to the fiction side than the historicals which were more factual based), one was Literature (with a capital L and nose in the air), five were young adult and eighteen were romances.

And here's the full list:

Gabaldon Diana           Breath of Snow and Ashes      January       historical romance

Gabaldon Diana           Echo in the Bone                     January       historical romance

Bianculli David             Dangerously Funny                  January       biography

McComber Debbie      92 Pacific Blvd                        February     romance

Gaiman Neil                American Gods                        March         fantasy

Devereux Jude            The Summerhouse                    April            romance

Devereux Jude            The Duchess                            April            romance

King Laurie R              Locked Rooms                       April             mystery/ romance

Carlin George              Last Words                            April             biography

Crystal Billy                 700 Sundays                          April             biography

Sparks Nicholas          Dear John                               April             romance

Bryson Bill                 Shakespeare: The World as Stage    April     biography

Clarke Susanna         Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell   May   fantasy

Dorris Michael          The Yellow Raft and Blue Water   June         literature

Paulsen Gary               Tiltawhirl John                        June              YA

Witton Dorothy           Crossroads for Chela              June             YA

Voigt Cynthia              Jackaroo                                June              YA

Martin Kat                  The Handmaiden's Necklace   June              romance

Drake Shannon           Reckless                                 June              romance

McNaught Judith        Remember When                    July               romance

Fletcher Donna           The Irish Devil                        July               romance

Litton Josie                 Dream Island                          July               romance

Cliff Nigel                   The Shakespeare Riots           July               biography

Penman Sharon Kay   Sunne in Splendor                  August           historical romance

Roberts Nora             Black Hills                              August           romance

Sparks Nicholas         The Lucky One                      August           romance

Rowling JK                The Deathly Hallows              September      fantasy

Penman Sharon Kay   Here Be Dragons                  October          historical romance

Trueman Terry            Cruise Control                      October          YA

Willig Lauren         Secret History of the Pink Carnation  October   mystery/ romance

Willig Lauren         Masque of the Black Tulip          November      mystery/ romance

Michaels Fern            Wild Honey                          November       romance

Coulter Catherine       The Heir                               November       romance

Willig Lauren        Betrayal of the Blood Lily           December        mystery/ romance

Trueman Terry            No Right Turn                      December        YA

Delinski Barbara         Twelve Across                     December        romance

That's the list! Okay -- which ones did you read? Would you recommend them? Or did you read any of these because I brought them to your attention? Put your responses in the comments. I'll put your names in a hat and give a free download of one of my books (your choice) to one lucky commenter.

Play safe!

PS. I apologize for the lack of decent columns. There really should be a way to put a table into a blog post!
Closing out the old year, tidying up to get ready for the new. Yes, I realize I should've done this in the last few days of 2010, but I spent time with family and friends instead. We've had a great couple of days just kickin' back and enjoying each other's company. I love the holidays just because it gives us an excuse to put the world on 'pause' and simply relax into old relationships and new friendships.

So, to close out last year here, I need to add my last two books of the year to my list and then ask you -- which ones did YOU read that I read? Did we read any of the same books? I know some of you did, you either commented or emailed me to let me know (and I love it when you do!). But what about the silent majority here? Did any of the books I read strike a chord with you? Even if a dissonant one, I'd love to know.

I finished the year with one really good one and one clunker. First up, No Right Turn by Terry Trueman. I'd read two of his earlier this year (Stuck in Neutral and Cruise Control) and looked forward to reading his other Young Adult novels. No Right Turn is another that grabs you from the first pages and doesn't let you go till the end. The audience is middle-school boys, I suspect. Or even high school boys. Girls wouldn't mind it, though. Over the years I've found girls will read books meant for boys and be fine with it, but boys won't read books meant for girls no matter how much you try to hide the frilly covers. If you have boys, definitely turn them on to Terry Trueman's books. He's well worth their time.

The clunker surprised me. I like Barbara Delinsky even though I hadn't read any of hers this year. Figured finishing off with Twelve Across would be a quick, fun read. Unfortunately, it mostly took place inside the hero's and heroine's heads. The basic premise is the same as my Cabin Fever -- two people stuck inside a small cabin for a long period of time. It's hard to keep the action going when neither the setting nor the characters change. Believe me, I know! I invented two ghosts to keep my two company (and several reviewers thought that addition lame) because the two just by themselves did far too much thinking and not enough doing.

And that was exactly the trap Ms. Delinsky fell into. I spent a lot of time reading about their inner turmoil and not enough time watching them do things. More conversation would've helped, but she had two characters very comfortable with long silences. Ah, well. They can't all be golden, I suppose.

Okay, going to do a second posting with the book totals and titles. Make it easier to find as well as read!

Play safe...and read on!

PS. Edited to add links. Sorry!