Book Challenge: Bricks, Melville, Shamelessness

What's On the Bookshelf?

Day 16: Longest book you’ve read

I’m actually not sure what the longest book I’ve read is. Its either one of the Robert Jordan Wheel of Time books (I’ve only read the first three or four) or Victor Hugo’s epic Les Miserables.

I read an unabridged translation of Les Miserables back in December/January. It took me six days (that’s a LOT of reading). I started a reread (different unabridged translation) back in May. I’m still reading it on and off, but as you can see, I’ve read a lot this year.

Let me just say, this book weighs a ton. When I bought my paperback copy, the cashier asked if I wanted a truck to bring it home in. I replied that mortar would be all I needed–I was going to use it as the cornerstone to my house.
Day 17: Shortest book you’ve read

A children’s book, probably. I’m sure I read some 24 pagers in my childhood, but I can’t recall any of them. So, shortest adult book that I’ve read? Herman Melville’s Billy Budd. I hated every minute of it, and was extremely happy it was only 90 pages long.
Day 18: Book you’re most embarrassed to say you like

I have no shame whatsoever in books I read. Roald Dahl’s children’s books? Love them. Harry Potter? My generation, baby. Tolkien? Lewis? Lloyd Alexander? No shame.

I take great pride in making the librarians look shiftily at the books I check out. The more atypical, the better. Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Les Miserables, Band of Brothers? I relish in the shocked expressions. Clearly I look like the sort of girl who would be reading scores of chick lit and other, more typical young woman sorts.

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 –

What’s On the Bookshelf? Vol. 9

What's On the Bookshelf?

Despite having finished roughly ten books since my last Bookshelf update, the books have all been ones I’ve read before, so I didn’t feel like I needed to review ’em.

CC//TCM Hitchhiker

CC//TCM Hitchhiker

Today, I just finished The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells.

I’ve decided that I’m going to read a lot of old school sci fi this summer. Wells is the number one author on the list.

I enjoyed The Invisible Man. One aspect that I felt was very intriguing was Wells’ decision to have Griffin be an albino. Here’s a man who goes from being incredibly noticeable to invisible.

Wells could be accused of “info dumping” when Griffin explains how he became invisible. As a writer (however amateur) I thought of how I would’ve have written it. I’m still mulling over the details.

It’s also one of those stories where you assume you know, but don’t until you read the story.

Up next: I’m not sure. Maybe I’ll finally finish Dracula or War of the Worlds.

Short stories, fairy tales and writer’s block

The Twirl and Swirl of Letters

They’re slipping from my fingers. Plots, characters, dainty ideas and robust ones. Try as I may, I fear that I cannot hold onto them, or bend them to my will.

As The Continent is still in its planning phases, I decided to work on some short stories and maybe some flash fiction (stories under 1000 words). But as I put my pen to paper, I have nothing.

Could it be that I’m just out of practice? Despite writing daily for over a year (not to mention those years through high school and early college), I haven’t composed much in terms of completed stories, only the novel and three quarters of a rather blah fan fic. I need practice with pulling together a tight story. Why does my Muse abandon me like this?

On the plus side, I’ve decided to do “research”, otherwise known as reading a whole lot, and hoping that some good comes of it. There’s no one quite like Ray Bradbury when it comes to short stories.

What’s on the Bookshelf? Vol. 7

What's On the Bookshelf?

What would you do if all of a sudden you were resurrected alongside history’s famous and infamous?

Why, explore and start new societies, of course.

I just finished reading Philip Jose Farmer’s To Your Scattered Bodies Go, the first book in the Riverworld series.

It’s an interesting concept. An advanced society nicknamed The Ethicals by protagonist  Sir Richard Burton cloned and transplanted most people who have ever lived to this planet, Riverworld (the River is about 10 million miles long). The reason? Well, Burton isn’t quite sure. He gets different reasons from different people.

It’s an intriguing idea, and I look forward to reading the other books in the series.

What a cabbage!

The Twirl and Swirl of Letters

Languages have such wonderful little idioms. For example, in Italian when you want to say “damn!” you say “che cavolo!” That’s literally “What a cabbage!”

English has some quaint expressions as well. In New England, “wicked” is positive. “Wicked good” is several notches above good, and “Wicked awesome” is about as good as you can get.

For example:

Mike: “Did you see the Sox game last night?”

Jim: “See it? I was there! Beating the Yankees 12-0 was wicked awesome!”


In creating different cultures (I’m looking at fantasy and sci fi writers specifically), keep in mind the strange things that might not be translated literally. It could be very interesting to have a character translating from his language to another, or even from one area of the country to another, and having a complete miscommunication.