AW Blog Chain: Guilty as Charged

General Geekiness

Claire Crossdale and Fresh Hell are tough acts to follow, with delightfully diverse guilty pleasure (I’m guilty of a few of theirs as well). After much contemplation (and many “guilty” pleasures later) I determined the one that, while I’m not particularly embarrassed to enjoy, this is suitably ridiculous:

I love typeface.  It isn’t a simple “oh, that font is pretty.” It borders on obsession (much like footnotes).

My love of typeface isn’t one like an adoration of a band, author or actor. I’m terrible at remember what specific typefaces look like (even the all obvious Helvetica. Put that next to a similar sans serif and I won’t be able to tell which is which). But there’s a certain beauty to typeface. Words sometimes just look right in High Tower Text (my current header’s font) or the ever-present Helvetica.

Typeface, of course, adds to the flavor of the book, whether we recognize it or not. Patrick O’Brian books are printed with a close set, old-timey serif. It feels right, meshes with our understanding of the subject matter so perfectly that it becomes second nature. The reader expects that typeface, they know the feel of the words and almost what to expect because of it. Again, the story just wouldn’t have the same flow if printed in a sleek font like Helvetica.

Harry Potter is set in Adobe Garamond, which the little blurb at the back of the books informs us is “a typeface based on the sixteenth century type designs of Claude Garamond, redrawn by Robert Slimbach in 1989.” The font has a whimsical but stately quality to it, one that fits with the feel of the book.

And then, we have the book I’m currently reading, With Wings Like Eagles. It’s an engaging, well-written book, but the typeface is just so darned interesting that I get distracted. Even while reading about how pilots managed to escape from burning cockpits, I find I need to reread the paragraphs because I get hung up on the letter “A” (both upper and lower cases) when I catch a glimpse of it out of the corner of my eye. There are two main problems: a) I actually really enjoy reading this book and b) the publisher wasn’t as nice as Scholastic and didn’t include any information about the typeface.

Up next:
Fokker Aeroplanbau
capes and corsets

Oh, what a year!

The Twirl and Swirl of Letters

This month for the AW Blog Chain, we’re taking stock of our accomplishments over the year. This has me shivering in my very boots.

I started out the year with bold ideas and plans. I thought that I would complete another novel first draft this year. Maybe two–an alt reality sci-fi story and my currently-stashed-away RAF tale (research is daunting, and alas, so is course work). I also thought that I would write more short stories this year. I think the count is three. I’m disappointed, but I can amend this next year.

I did get some things done.

I created this blog. Originally a course requirement from the Spring 2009 semester, I had fun and continue blogging. I don’t post as frequently or with the same consistent quality as I would like, but things to work on.

I wrote. Every day, at least a page. Over the summer, I required two handwritten pages. Now that school is winding down, I’ll be back up to my preferred level. I hope to carry this into the next year. Mostly I write fiction, but sometimes my mind moves to the real world or philosophical discussions.

I indulged my geekier side. Following the suggestion of one of my professors, I picked up Dune. That set the pace for (some of) my summer reading, which also included the first Riverworld book and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? For television viewing, I started Star Trek, and watched the entirety of The Prisoner (which I’ve determined needs multiple viewings and I’m only too happy to comply with).

And my, how the year flew by. 2010 looks like a promising one, filled with action and adventure (cue Danger Man theme).

Here are my fellow blog chainers!

Lost Wanderer –
Claire Crossdale –
coryleslie –
bsolah –
DavidZahir –
RavenCorinnCarluk –
Ralph Pines –
shethinkstoomuch – (that’s me!)
Lady Cat
truelyana –
misaditas –
collectonian –
laharrison –
beawhiz –
razibahmed –
FreshHell –
AlissaC –
Aimee –

Love, Literature, and Potato Peel Pie

What's On the Bookshelf?

The preceding post in the AW Book Blog Chain is Fictional: Lurker in the Dark and Others and the following can be found at Random Writerly Thoughts.

For a couple of weeks, every time I spoke with my mom she urged me to read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. “It’s about WWII,” she told me. “It takes place on Guernsey during the Nazi occupation.”

Being a sucker for all things related to the UK and WWII, I gave in over Thanksgiving break.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society begins with Juliet Ashton, a writer, receiving a letter from a founding member of the titular Society. Juliet decides to write an article about the society (for a philosophy and literature series) and begins to receive more letters from Guernsey. She determines that the best way to write the article is to go to Guernsey itself.

The book is written in a different fashion–various lines of correspondence between Juliet and the other characters, such as her publisher, best friend, and the people of Guernsey. Through the letters, notes and telegrams we get a sense of who these people are. Their thoughts are intimate and thoroughly engaging.

One thing that I enjoyed is the care the authors put into developing individual voices for each of the characters. Some write only one or two letters, yet sound distinctive from the others. This aids with the realism of the book. One can’t help but feel like one is spying on these people, yet also feel like they are friends (or acquaintances at the least).

The story is one that is alternatively light and dark. The tones the characters write to each other in are humorous and self-deprecating. On numerous occasions I started laughing out loud. As the book is about the Nazi occupation of the Channel Islands, the story becomes serious at times, but never loses its charm.

It saddens me that letter writing has fallen by the wayside for email, facebook and twitter. Fifty years from now, will anyone write a story in a similar manner about people like us? Emails lack that personal feel. Will an entire book be told over tweets? It strikes me as a bit ridiculous, really (if a fun poetry experiment).

All said, this is a charming book. Recommended for those looking for a feel-good novel (it does have a very happy ending!). Light, enjoyable, and worth the few hours it takes to read. Best enjoyed with a continuous stream of tea and digestive biscuits.

Lost Wanderer
Vein Glory
Shethinkstoomuch –  That’s me!
Lady Cat –
Rosemerry –


Beth’s Writerly Recipe!

The Twirl and Swirl of Letters

Every once in a while, I like to ponder lists. If I were stranded on a desert island, what five things would I bring? Who would I eat dinner with, of any person living or dead? What are my favorite books, movies, albums, etc?

So, what do I need as a writer of fiction? DavidZahir preceded me with a great post of the four things he needs.

So, ladies and gentlemen, here is my recipe for writing!

Take one notebook and one blue pen: Yes, pen and paper. Despite my horrific handwriting, I feel most creative when committing ideas directly to paper. The smooth roll of the ink beneath my fingertips is quite conducive to thinking. As great as word processors are for recording scenes and stories (and organizing them), for me, nothing gets the creative juices flowing like a crisp white sheet of paper.

Add a dash of research: Libraries and the internet make this step much easier. As I write historical fiction (and sci fi influenced by actual events), this is an important step. A lot of inspiration comes from the pages of other books, scientific, historical, etc.

Mix in one cup of strong tea: Being teetotal, my poison of choice is a strong, hot cuppa. Cuppas calm me down and get me in a more productive frame of mind.

A pinch of laughs: When things get stressful, either in the story or while writing, keeping a sense of humor is essential.

Here are the rest of the AW Blog Chain participants!

1. DavidZahir –
2. shethinkstoomuch –
3. Lost Wanderer –
4. aimeelaine –
5. Ravencorinncarluk –
6. Bsolah –
7. Charlotte49ers –
8. Angyl78 –
9. truelyana –
10. Claire Crossdale –