27 November 2010

NaNoWriMo Day 27: I Finally Killed Someone!

At long last my mystery novel has a corpse gracing its pages!

(Sorry, Laurence. Not only for doing you in, but for having you killed as the result of a misunderstanding. And for the ignominy of being knifed in an alley near St Giles.)

I feel rather ghoulishly pleased with myself for finally working in a nice murder. I’m not sure what it says about me that I find it fun to kill non-existent people in various nasty ways ... but at least I can look at all the crime novels filling my shelves and know that I’m in good company.

23 November 2010

Weekly Geeks: Antique Books

Weekly Geeks

The other day I was noticing the old books on my book shelf. Old, meaning books that were "born" a long long time ago. Books that were published AND printed a long long time ago. (Not simply books that have been sitting on our shelves forever!)And it made me wonder what old books other readers have in their collection. So this week, write a post sharing with us what old antique books you may have on your shelves, and tell us the story behind them. Did you inherit from a relative? Are you a collector of old and rare books? Did you just discover a certain book in a used book store and couldn't pass it up? What's the very oldest book you have? Do you even like old books? Or do they creep you out? Do you read and enjoy your old books, or is it more a "look and don't touch" thing?
I love old books. They bring a history with them which you can’t get in a paperback fresh off the shelves. Especially when they contain inscriptions or second-hand bookstore labels or other marks of their past, they invite you to wonder about who read them before you, and how they ended up moving on to someone else’s collection.

I can’t afford actual antiques, so my definition of an “old” book is “significantly older than I am”. The oldest on my shelves is a copy of Jonathan Swift’s Journal to Stella printed in 1948, which I picked up for $0.50 at a charity book sale. It’s more vintage than antique, and I’m not sure that the cover is intact - it may once have had a dust jacket - and the cloth it’s bound with is a dull shade of pink.

I love it anyway. It had nearly sixty years of adventures before arriving on my shelves, and I know that I will keep it and look after it for the rest of my lifetime so that one day it can resume its journey and be loved by someone else. And because it’s vintage rather than a true antique I feel free to treat it a little cavalierly - toss it into my bag to read on the train.

I would never do that with a really old volume, but so long as I wasn’t afraid it would crumble beneath my fingers I would read it. That’s what books are for! Outside of archives and museums, there’s no point in owning a book you can’t curl up with and enjoy.

It’s Tuesday, Where Are You? / Teaser Tuesdays

It’s Tuesday, Where Are You?

When not absorbed in the all-consuming literary chaos of NaNoWriMo (or attending to ... what’s that other thing? ... real life) I’m back in Elizabeth’s England, in 1593. I’m among a group of ostensibly Protestant conversos working to smuggle fellow Jews out of the clutches of the Spanish Inquisition. Although I don’t know it yet, my path is set to cross that of a player-turned-detective named Will Shakespeare.

The Quality of Mercy by Faye Kellerman.

Teaser Tuesdays TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:

  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from - that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!

Chambers said, “In my business, one never interferes with gentlemen dicing. They become most resentful.”

From The Quality of Mercy by Faye Kellerman, p. 73.

20 November 2010

NaNoWriMo Day 20: Well, This is Embarrassing...

I’ve been addicted to mystery novels for over fifteen years.

I’ve been addicted to tv crime shows for nearly ten.

I have a biotechnology degree, which is basically a degree in conducting investigations. Heck, I could probably qualify for Mensa.

This year, for NaNo, I have a plausible villain with an interesting motive. I have an abundance of cross-connections between characters. I have hidden pieces of cause and effect. I’m actually quite pleased with myself.

But I cannot plot an investigation to save my life.

Not only do Jasper and Peregrina have no idea how to solve the mystery, I have no idea how to make them solve the mystery! (And just to add to my feelings of foolishness, this is the third year in a row I’ve had this problem. It’s becoming a NaNo tradition.) This being NaNo - i.e. a mad dash to get as many words down as possible by the end of November - I have no intention of sitting down to fix it now. I’m just letting them muddle through however they like, which has so far led to plenty of boring bits but hasn’t taken the plot completely off the rails, for which I’m thankful.

Now I’m trying to keep my spirits up with thoughts of all the mystery novels I’ll get to read and dissect - all in the name of research! - once the first draft is finished. Which at this rate should happen some time around Christmas.

19 November 2010

Booking Through Thursday Friday: Borrowing?

I’ve been so immersed in NaNoWriMo (meaning so busy staring at a computer screen thinking, I really should write something) that I completely forgot this yesterday!

Who would you rather borrow from? Your library? Or a Friend?

(Or don’t your friends trust you to return their books?)

And, DO you return books you borrow?

Library, always. I enjoy the whole experience of going to the library: the peaceful atmosphere, browsing the shelves, walking out with enough books to keep me reading for several weeks. Borrowing a book here and a book there from other people wouldn’t be the same.

And yes, I DO return books!

10 November 2010

NaNoWriMo Day 10: Hello, I’m a Researchaholic

It’s been 7 minutes since my last Google search...

Downloading all 800 large-scale segments of the Horwood Map was, it turns out, only the beginning. A piece of gateway research, leading me on to making Google and the Online Etymology Dictionary my primary forms of procrastination, online or off.

I can’t help myself! I keep a running file as I write, noting down anything and everything I might want to check later. What sort of trees grow in Greenwich Park. The first recorded date for “devil-may-care” (not nearly early enough). Where a tourist might buy a map in 1790s London. The annual date of Bartholomew Fair. How soon Goethe developed his views on geology. The first recorded date for “newfangled” (15th century! Yes!). The precise appearance of a fox’s tail. Where a late-18th-century gentleman might carry a letter on his person. When clocks acquired half-hour chimes.

And that’s just for starters.

I'm also addicted to the word count button.

07 November 2010

Gothic Reading Challenge

During my free time in November, not much can drag my attention away from NaNoWriMo. But a shiny new reading challenge? That doesn’t start until January? Count me distracted!

Gothic Reading Challenge

Susan B. Evans is hosting the Gothic Reading Challenge next year, covering everything eerie, spooky, spine-chilling, creepy, and fantastic. (In both senses of the word.)

I’ve selected the Darkness Within option: 5 novels in 2011 with Gothic elements. I don’t have a list, because I’ve discovered I quite like filling in challenges as I go. And because Gothic can be a “know it when I read it” thing.

And now I’m off to hunt through my TBR box. I mean, finish the next scene of my NaNo.

03 November 2010

NaNoWriMo Day 3: 50-Foot Plot Bunnies on Strike

My subtitle for NaNo this year - the experience, not the novel! - could be “Attack of the 50-Foot Plot Bunnies”. A couple of characters I thought I’d safely filed away years ago got loose, invaded my imagination, and began clamouring for a series. A LONG series.

They, and their friends, so took over my spare waking moments that it was a shock last night to realise Holy %$!#@, I haven't posted since September!

And then on Monday they took unscheduled leave. My first three days of writing have been dreadful; getting words out of my imagination has been like getting a straight answer out of a politician. Slow, painful, and largely unproductive. Yes, I always start out behind, and I always end up well ahead, but this year feels different. I can’t seem to find my writing energy. (And I can’t opt for procrastination with a veneer of usefulness by working on my cover art, because I got organised this year and did it last month.)

So I’ll reiterate here what I declared on the forums last night: I am going to reach 10,000 words by midnight Friday. Then I’ll add a wordcount widget to my sidebar. The threat of public failure on two fronts should provide an extra bit of motivation.

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Header image shows detail of A Young Girl Reading by Jean-Honoré Fragonard, c. 1776