Confidence?

Now that the holidays are over I’ve been getting back into writing regularly. I’ve set myself a weekly goal of four hours for working on the story I wrote during NaNoWriMo. I’ve been happily adding and deleting words, doing some research about various aspects of the story and trying to piece it together like a jigsaw puzzle. It’s a long way from being done but I’m enjoying the challenge of getting there.

At the same time I’m usually reading two or three books at a time. Its just what I do. There are times when the books I read are enjoyable or good enough. And then there are books that take my breath away with the beauty of the writing, the cleverness of the plot or with characters so real that they feel like friends.

Those amazing books are the trouble. Why? Because those are the books that make me question my own ability to write. I start questioning myself. I could never come up with a plot twist that surprising or clever. Are my characters like cardboard compared to the fully fleshed out people I’ve just read about? My descriptions are pretty good but to make someone stop and reread them just to experience the beauty of the words? That’s a lot of pressure!

These feelings of inadequacy have been creeping around the edges of my mind lately and at least this time I’m recognizing them before they get out of control and I stop trying. I don’t want to lose the momentum I’ve built up while working on this story.

This time I keep reminding myself that I wrote this story for me. That it’s totally self-indulgent and the challenge of putting it together and getting to know the characters and their motivations is fun. That this is play and not to be taken too seriously.

So far this is working. Mostly because it isn’t anywhere near ready for anybody else to read it which is good if it keeps me going. It may never be ready for anyone else to read and that’s okay too.

Do you experience this?

I would love to hear how you keep that devious voice of inadequacy at bay.

Science Fiction

It’s been a while since I did a book review and it occurred to me that I’ve been reading a lot of amazing science fiction books in the past year or two. I want to share some of the ones that I’ve enjoyed.

I’ve been reading science fiction off and on over the years and enjoy it but a lot of it seems to focus on the science and technology and not so much on the character development. I think this has changed at least in the books I’ve been reading.

Many of these books show a view of the future which I never imagined which makes reading them a fun adventure. They are so different and sometimes weird, that I can never guess what is going to happen which keeps me turning the pages. These two books are examples of this. The Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang Stories of Your Life and Othersis a book of short stories that I’m still thinking about. The movie, Arrival, was based on one of the stories in this book. The other book is Sleeping Giants by Silvain Neuvel. Sleeping Giants (Themis Files, #1)The premise of the book is very strange but I couldn’t stop reading it and look forward to reading the sequel.

Many are cautionary tales like Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. Station ElevenI think Sleeping Giants could fit into this category. Probably a few others as well. These are stories that make you wonder what you would do in the situations the characters are in. 

There are retellings of old stories with amazingly imaginative new twists and visions like Unclaimed (The Memoirs of Jane E, Friendless Orphan, Book 1) by Erin McCole Cupp which is a unique retelling story of Jane Eyre, science fiction style and is full of  neat ideas that I never would have thought of but make for a fun read.  Also the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1)This is a fun series that retell the stories of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Snow White but the main characters are strong, kick-butt young women and the stories are full of cyborgs, robots and space travel. 

Some are written in an amazing physically graphic way; meaning the format of the story is a big part of the story itself like the Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1)If you haven’t seen these books they tell the story using a variety of emails, confidential files and amazing pages of words that fly across the page or look like they are exploding making you feel like you are in space with them. They are books you experience as well as read.

But the ones I enjoy most have a little bit of everything. And the story is told through the perspectives of fully developed characters that I can relate to. The ones I like most usually have a positive outcome. Books that say, sure there are problems but we can overcome them. Some of the worlds they take place in I would love to visit. Others, not so much.

These last two authors are ones that I am telling everyone about because their writing is amazing! First there is the Imperial Radch series by Ann Leckie who wrote Ancillary Justice,Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch, #1) which is the first one. These books are what I would consider more hard-core science fiction but the way they are written is mind-blowing. The main character was once a starship with the ability to be able to ‘be’ in many places at once but is now trapped in one body. The way the author manages to give us the various views this character has had is amazing.

And my final recommendation is theThe Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers, #1) Wayfarers series by Becky Chambers. I just finished the first two and need to wait for the next one this summer. These books were so much fun I couldn’t put them down. The characters are so real that I wondered what they were doing when I wasn’t reading the books. These are lighter than the other ones which makes a good break from heavy reading.

I hope you will check some of these out and let me know if you do. I would love to hear what you think. And if you have any suggestions for me to read, please share.

Happy reading!

 

More Than One Book at a Time

Do you read more than one book at a time? Apparently this is a shocking concept to some people.

I’m always reading more than one book at a time. Plus magazines. I don’t give it much thought or think this is unusual but when it comes up in conversation a lot of people are surprised. Most people say they could never read more than one book at a time and that they would never be able to keep the stories straight.

I like to have options depending on my mood or the time of the day.

Reading nonfiction is very different for me than reading fiction. It’s easier pick up a nonfiction book and put it down because I don’t get as caught up in it like I do fiction. I can read a paragraph or a page or two, put the book down and do something else while I absorb what I just read. I read nonfiction out of curiosity and the desire to learn.

With fiction my goal is to escape. I tend to lose track of time and motivation to get things done so I try not to read it when I need to pay attention to what is going on around me or if I only have short amount of time to read. I get lost in the story and sometimes find it jolting when I have to put the book down and deal with real life.

Variety is important depending on my mood. If a day is going badly it’s wonderful to be able to lose myself in a made up world for a little while. It’s a mini vacation. And that comes in very handy when waiting for something like a doctor’s appointment. It makes the wait easier and keeps me from getting as nervous.

I don’t like to waste time so I always have something handy to read; like during commercials while watching TV. There are so many commercials now that I can get a lot of reading done! I don’t watch a lot of TV but the few shows I do watch are loaded with commercials. I used to be able to watch shows on demand and fast forward through the commercials but can’t seem to do that much anymore. Keeping a book ready passes that time in a good way.

Often I’m reading something for a book group. I don’t want to stop reading any other books so I just add another one. This reading involves taking notes for discussion or making up trivia questions for fun at the group.

Book pile

I like to have something lighter to read before going to sleep at night. I avoid anything really scary or full of graphic violence before drifting off. Those are not the kinds of thoughts I want to have dreams about!

Usually I have at least three books going at a time. Often more.

I know I’m a bit book crazy but wonder if other people do this as much as I do. I’m more surprised when people tell me they never have time to read. I find that amazing!

How about you? Do you read more than one book at a time?

Book Vlog

I’m going to start by saying that this is a shameless plugging of my daughter’s video blog, or vlog. She reviews books and since I know a lot of you love books I thought you might be interested in taking a look.

I also need to explain that I am not one of those moms who automatically thinks everything my kids do is wonderful. In fact, I am very skeptical until proven otherwise. (Sorry kids!) So when Chelsea told me that she was doing book review videos online I watched the first one not expecting much. Much to my delight, it was good! She’s really good!

So if you are looking for something good to read, head over to see what books she talks about. I know my to-read list has grown since I started watching. Sigh. So many books and so little time! It’s a great problem to have.

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Chelsea Palmer Book Reviews, Recommendations & Hauls

I hope you enjoy!

Unclaimed by Erin McCole Cupp

If you like Jane Eyre and science fiction/dystopian stories you need to read Unclaimed!

Who is Erin McCole Cupp? Well she’s one of my favorite visitors to the library I work in and a few years ago I learned that she’s a writer. After we talked writing and books for a while I couldn’t wait to read her books. First I read Don’t You Forget About Me which is a mystery and it was good! After reading that she told me that she had written a book called Jane_E, Friendless Orphan: A Memoir. When she told me it was a science fiction take on Jane Eyre I was in! I read that and really liked it.

Now Erin is re-releasing Jane_E’s story as a three part e book series. She has updated and revised it and part one is now available. Erin has sprinkled Unclaimed with so many wonderful details like perks rings, woven codes, interesting cultural mannerisms and people being re-keyed to fix any flaws they may have. The world of Jane E goes from sleek futuristic technology to gritty real world issues. The book is written in the first person so the reader is immediately pulled into Jane’s world. Jane is a strong and feisty ten-year-old at the beginning of the book and I found myself rooting for her right from the start.

So here is a summary of  part one which is called Unclaimed (The Memoirs of Jane E, Friendless Orphan Book 1).

Born not in a past of corsets and bonnets but into a future of cloning and bioterror, could Jane Eyre survive? This Jane is an “unclaimed embryo,” the living mistake of a reproductive rights center–or so her foster family tells her. At age ten she is sold into slavery as a data mule, and she must fight for freedom and identity in a world mired between bioscientific progress and the religions that fear it. What will happen to a girl without even a name of her own?

This is a fun book to read which I want to share with you and help Erin spread the word about its release.

10 Interesting Facts about Libraries and Librarians

I’m feeling a bit guilty about not blogging as regularly as I should be. I am so caught up in work, new house, new yard, work, making time for family and friends, work… well, you get the picture. I look forward to getting back to a writing routine but until that happens I will sneak in a bit here and there.

In the meantime I am enjoying other blogs so I’ll share the posts that I find inspiring, funny educational, and interesting. I hope you enjoy them too and will discover some great writers.

I’ll start with this one since I have a weakness for libraries.

Interesting Literature

Great facts about famous libraries and librarians around the world

We thought it was about time we saluted that noble institution, the library, with some of our favourite interesting bits of trivia about libraries and librarians.

Jacob Grimm, Philip Larkin, Casanova, David Hume, Jorge Luis Borges, and Lewis Carroll all worked as librarians.

Another word for a librarian is ‘bibliothecar’.

View original post 258 more words

The Librarian Who Writes

Guess what? I got to write a guest post for published author Erin McCole Cupp. She is finishing the sequel to her book Don’t You Forget About Me (which is a really good book!) and needed some guest posts for her blog so she could work. I’ve never done this before but figured I would give it a try. So please visit her blog to read what I had to say about how being a librarian informs my writing:  http://erinmccolecupp.com/?p=1563.

And while you are there, please check out Erin’s blog and her books. I’ve read her books and she is a terrific writer.

And Erin, if you read this, hurry up and finish that sequel! I can’t wait to read it!

 

Local Author Event

You never know how much talent there is in your own back yard. I discovered this last Saturday when Erin McCole Cupp and I invited local authors to come and spend the afternoon at the Atglen Public Library.

We ended up with a dozen authors coming. Many authors had more than one book available. Some of them are also performing storytellers, historians, educators, scientists, lawyers, journalists and more. Many are available for school visits and offer workshops.

I was both nervous and excited about the day. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t great and I was afraid that would keep people from coming. I was afraid it would be quiet and sad that the weather kept people away. Instead I was pleasantly surprised to see that the day was upbeat and fun!

The authors arrived mostly one at a time which was great because then Erin and I could meet them and show them where they could set up. We introduced each person as they arrived and they took it from there. Soon the room was full of the happy chatter of authors comparing their books, their craft and getting to know each other.

Despite the snowy weather some people did arrive to see what was going on and they were made to feel welcome.

We had a blind book date which was fun. Each person took a book to read for a few minutes and then shifted to the left and read the next book. It was a great way to see what the authors were offering.

Speed Book Dating

Speed Book Dating

We also let authors sign up for a 5-10 minute presentation. Luckily by this time we had a small audience and they sat listening to each author speak. The authors talked about their book(s) and how they came to write them. There was time after that to meet with the authors and buy some books.

Overall it ended up being a high energy and intimate meeting of authors and the public. It was amazing how varied the writing material was. We had local historical fiction, mystery, science fiction, horror, romance, young adult and children’s. There was nonfiction including animal welfare, spirituality, dealing with grief and local history.

Everyone is asking if we will do this again and I think we will. Take a look at your neighborhood and see who is there. I think you might be surprised!

Authors

Authors

Here are the authors who attended. Please visit their sites, take a look at their books and say hello.

Carolyn Astfalk: http://carolynastfalk.com/

Susannah Brody: http://home.comcast.net/~susannahbrody/books.html

Jennifer Gladen: http://jengladen.com/

K.B. Inglee:  http://kbinglee.weebly.com/

Susan Marie Kelley: http://susanmariekelley.weebly.com/

Jane Kelly: http://janekellymystery.homestead.com/jk.html

Erin McCole Cupp: http://erinmccolecupp.com/

Treva Hall Melvin: http://thepoisonedpencil.com/treva-hall-melvin/

Marcella Peyre-Ferry: PFFarms@earthlink.com

Nancy B. Schmitt & Kelly Schmitt:  Nancy’s books are available at the Malvern Borough website.  Contact Kelly at mactavish@rocketmail.com

Chris Shaughness: http://www.chrisshaughness.com/

Walt Trizna: https://walttriznastories.wordpress.com/

Make-Believe Come True

I had an interesting revelation at work the other day. I work at a library and was processing new books to add to the collection. As I was carefully putting on the barcodes and then stamping each book with the library stamp, I realized that this is a job that I used to play make-believe when I was a kid!

 
I was doing the exact same thing when I was probably eight or nine years old. We lived in a colonial at that time and there was a small alcove at the top of the stairs. My sister and I set up the alcove to be a library. I remember sitting at a small desk with a pile index cards and was stamping them one after another to put in each book my sister was checking out. I remember the feeling of being very official and professional as the librarian.

 
As this memory came to me while I was stamping real books in a real library, I kind of giggled and realized that at that moment  one of my make-believe games came true! And I found it funny because it wasn’t a big dream and I’m not an official librarian, but I was very happy doing my job! How often does that happen?

 
I have been one of those people who has never known what I want to be when I grow up and as a result I have had quite a variety of jobs over the years. Some I disliked very much, a few that I enjoyed for a time. Now I have a job that I love and that in itself is a revelation.

 
I like my job because of so many reasons like being able to recommend books for people and helping them find information. I love meeting people and have been awed and humbled by the stories they tell about themselves. I love being surrounded by books and all the magic and knowledge contained in each one.

 
How fun it has been to discover that even the small things like stamping books can be rewarding! I’m still tickled by the whole idea.
Have you ever had anything like that happen where you work? If so, were you as surprised as I have been? I would love to read your story!

Harry Potter, Again?

 

Harry Potter Books

Harry Potter Books

 

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling holds a special place in my heart.

I first met Harry when my daughter introduced me to the first book when it came out. She and I read the book together and fell in love with the new wizarding world of modern day Harry Potter. She was enchanted because she was the same age as the character of Harry Potter and grew up with him. I was enchanted with the detailed original world and characters I was reading about.

Later, when I worked at a bookstore, I got to experience being a part of the midnight release parties. I was in charge of the trivia contests we had. Being a part of the excitement was amazing. I would buy two copies of each new book so that my daughter and I could stay up all night reading them together. We couldn’t wait to see what happened next!

By the time the last book was being released, I held discussion groups in the months leading up to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The anticipation of how the series would end filled every fan with mixed feelings. We couldn’t wait to see how it ended but we dreaded that it would all be over. During these groups, we poured over every detail, tried to outdo each other in the trivia games and guess what would happen in the last book. I was amazed at the range of ages at these groups. Yes, it was mostly kids that but these books were enjoyed by people of all ages. Looking around and watching parents and grandparents discussing these books with their children, teens and grandchildren was awesome. How often does this kind of thing happen these days?

Why am I bringing this up now? Because recently I have enjoyed rediscovering the fun, wonder and good writing of these books. I work in a library now and am hosting two discussion groups about the Harry Potter books as part of the Summer Reading program. Last week was the first of the two groups and we discussed books 1-4.

Once again, I was sitting with a group of people ranging in age from a six-year-old to a couple of grandparents! The magic is still happening! It was wonderful hearing what parts of the story were their favorites, what parts made them laugh and what parts made them cry. Once again I am amazed at how much fun everyone has in trying to answer trivia questions or talking about what they would do if they had an Invisibility Cloak or the Marauder’s Map. How much they dislike Dolores Umbridge or how much they love Hagrid, Dobby and Luna Lovegood.

I was afraid it would be old and I would have to force myself to get through it all. I’ve had that happen with other books when I’ve reread them after time has passed. What a wonderful, and yes, magical surprise to find out that these books are just as good, ten years or so later!

From time to time I have reviewed books and written about authors in this blog and since I am fully immersed in the world of Hogwarts and all things Harry Potter once again, I felt it was time to share the fun with you.

I know it’s easy to let all the media hype steer you away from the massive icon Harry Potter has become but maybe you should give the books a try? If you do, I would love to hear what you think.

In the meantime, I am brushing up on my trivia knowledge from books 5-7!