Archive for October, 2010

It’s that time again: NaNoWriMo sponsorship!

October 25, 2010 - 2:09 pm No Comments

It’s that time of the year again, you guys, the time where I sign on to Twitter just long enough to gripe about writing and then sign off again to… well, go write.  Yes, it’s NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month for those of you not in the know (50,000 words in 30 days!), and once again, I’m trying to find sponsors for The Office of Letters and Light.  What that means is this: I’m raising money to help the Office of Letters and Light continue to put on free creative writing programs for kids and adults in classrooms, communities, and libraries around the world.

Writing, and of course the literacy that precedes it and is advanced by it, is an invaluable tool that we must foster as much as we can in people of all ages.  For some, it provides an invaluable catharsis that no other activity can achieve.  For someone like me, who practically lives in a library and spends nearly every free moment either reading, writing, or editing, this is an extremely important cause.  So what I’m asking is this: if you can, please sponsor me.  Even as little as a dollar helps.  My official goal this year is just $100, but if I don’t come anywhere near that, I’ll be happy because I know I’ve raised awareness for an amazing cause and done what I can to support it.

If you want to help, please visit my official sponsorship page and do what you can.  If you can’t sponsor me, I completely understand, times are tough, but do me this favor: tell someone you know.  Share this note on Facebook, tweet it, do that Myspace thing if you still do, post this as your status, even just for a few hours.  Even the smallest action means the world to me.

Thanks so much, guys, for taking the time to read this.  Wish me luck!

Click for more about the Office of Letters and Light.

Click for more about NaNoWriMo.

Click to visit my post containing resources for and the whole story behind NaNo.

Edit: To follow my progress on my NaNoWriMo, you can visit my user page or just check out this handy widget! Remember, green good. Red bad.

Love to Hate

October 3, 2010 - 12:31 am 4 Comments

I made my tri-weekly library trip a little while back and picked up some new books, all of which I have currently set aside in favor of reading (or at least giving enough of a chance to) the ones I can’t renew anymore (see: at Carnegie Library, you can only renew books twice, for a totally of nine total weeks of check-out).

I’m currently really digging A Monster’s Notes by Laurie Sheck, which is sort of an experimental novel that poses the premise that Mary Shelly did not invent Frankenstein and his monster, but instead met the creature when she was young.  It’s a very esoteric collection of letters, journal entries, and notes, from the monster, Mary, her family, and other people encountered throughout the monster’s life.  It’s extremely literate and references many historical events, persons, and philosophies, especially those popular in the Victorian era.  It’s a big, thick book, but like Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves, a great deal of it is dramatic white space.  That doesn’t mean, however, that it’s quick to get through.  Much of the subject matter – leprosy, miscarriages, the deaths of children, a ship’s crew lost to die in the arctic – has kept me picking up the book, reading for hours, and putting it back down for days to digest.  Fans of horror or literary analysis, pick this up.

I also picked up Love Will Tear Us Apart by Sarah Rainone which tells a story of a group of friends through some popular alternative rock (hence the title).  It’s a good book, so far, but it brings me to the topic of this blog:

What do you do about characters you hate?

There’s a character in the novel who is exactly the kind of person I can’t stand.  He’s rude, crude, un-clever, doesn’t seem to care too much about women, and furthermore, he hates hockey.  The way the book is written, it gives brief insights into the mind of each character as first-person narrative, and every time it gets to him, I have to admit, I don’t really read anymore.  I skim the way you skim paragraphs in a math book before the actual explaining is done, the way you read the introduction of an anthology.  And I can say, it doesn’t make the book better for it.  It’s to the point where I very nearly am compelled not to pick this book up again (and probably wouldn’t if the concept weren’t so… me).

So what do you do about books you like with characters you hate?

Finally, a short list of books which I’ve read since my last book blog and feel are suggestion-worthy:

The Moon Opera by Bi Feiyu, translation by Howard Goldblatt – A very tiny book about a woman with a dark past and a big voice.  Xiao Yanqiu destroys her career in opera by throwing boiling water in the face of her understudy.  Twenty years later, when the opera is restaged, a wealthy benefactor insists Xiao Yanqiu return to the role that destroyed her.  A very quick read, extremely emotional, extremely dark.  Triggering themes, mostly self-destruction.  Graphic.

I Have the Right to Destroy Myself by Young-ha Kim, translation by Chi-Young Kim – A disturbing, gripping tale of sex and suicide, of how lives are tangled up together even when they seem unfathomably far apart, and the people who can’t bear that tangle anymore.  As you might have guessed, very bleak, but impossible to put down.  Triggering themes are prominent.

The Trade by Fred Stenson – If you enjoy historical fiction at all, you have to read this book.  It’s the story of the Hudson Bay Company, the leading enterprise from England involved in the Canadian fur trade and how the wilderness, the native peoples, and the unforgiving winters shaped the lives of the (real, but fictionalised) people who lived it.  This is one of the most compelling things I’ve ever read, and it’s completely out of my usual favorite genres.  This is a masterpiece.

So go get your read on.