Tag Archives: books

Book addiction and what to do about it

book addiction

 

As the poster to the left says book collection is an obsession, and addiction, and it might even be perverse. I suffer from this disease. Before writing this blog I counted 101 unread books, the hardcover, or paperback kind of books. I also have 37 unread e-books.

I will never finish reading all these unread books because I have a list of books, both handheld and e-books that I want to buy and I also find myself in places that sell books for a buck or two and darned if I can’t find a book or two in those dens of Hell. My local library has a few sections of books for sale and it was there I found a 1996 Random House hardcover edition of “A Confederacy of Dunces” by John Kennedy Toole and a Penguin edition of short stories by Grace Paley. Total cost $3.00. You understand why those books could not be passed up for three singles, right? 

There are only two alternatives. Read all the books I currently have before buying another book. Sorry, can’t happen. I will be dead before they are all read. Can’t go down this road. I am not sure it is about the reading, but about the procuring. One book I had been seeking for a few years finally showed up as a Kindle edition. But though I have longed wanted to read the cult classic “Bone Music” it is still on my Kindle app waiting for me to finish other books I am working on. Ah, but I have it and the feeling of procurement was wonderful.

10487188_624609717653306_6188654867875167110_nA second alternative is too stop buying books. If you think that is valid, then you are an outsider, a square-jawed book-totaller with little or no humanity. Have you no compassion?

No there is no cure. All I can do is continue on my course, keep reading, keep buying, and hope I can make some dent in my personal library.

The worst that can happen is what happened to Henry Bemis, played by Burgess Meredith in “Time Enough at Last,” a 1959 episode of “The Twilight Zone,” in which Bemis, an avid reader, is the last man on earth, and has all the time in the world to read all the classics and when he sits down to read, his bottle-glass thick glasses fall off his face and they break. Without those glasses he could not read the page. Tough break Bemis.

As Captain Jack Sparrow once said, “The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem. Do you understand?”

I have no problem. Pass me that Tom Robbins book would you please. I just bought it on Amazon while I was writing this blog. (I have my own book driver who picks up at an Amazon warehouse). You understand.

My website

My Amazon page for those in need to add to their library. No reading required.

 

 

 

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A peek into a writer’s madness

You have no doubt read, or heard, of actors who get so involved with a character they play that they take the character home with them, in fact becoming to a real extent, the character, and in the process losing something of themselves until the project is over, then moving on to have another character inhabit their being; particularly troublesome if the character they are playing is a dark, sinister, creepy character.

Writers experience this too, after all if a writer’s characters are to be real, the writer goes through what they go through, at least in his mind. He, like the actor, is inhabited by the thoughts, feelings, and actions of his characters.

I experienced this in a short story I recently finished called “The Unstained Couch.” It is a horror story, one in which I blended two separate story ideas I had. Because of the darkness of the tale that concerns a man who wakes up, finds a dead woman in his bed whom he does not know and goes into the kitchen to make tea, then later finds the woman is not in his bed, but gone, then reappears on the kitchen floor, and because the couch keeps moving every time he enters the living room, and because the couch, once a cherished piece of memory, now a hideously ugly reminder of the past, my mind went into dark corners, corners that were not pleasant. While the creative part of my brain was happily active in creating this weird dark tale, my emotions were not; they were conflicted, violent, murderous. I was acutely aware of both the creative aspect and the emotional aspect working side by side.

Now I understand how writers can go mad, now I understood what Thomas Mann meant when writing of the writer looking into the abyss.

I have yet to go back to the story and proofread and edit the story. It is difficult to return to a house that is haunted that you escaped from, so I must wait until I am ready. Madness lives on those pages, in those words, but I will embrace the madness once the residue clears from the present.

My sane website

Some other dark tales I wrote.

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From the library at the Keats house to your Kindle library

10672233_882769041741039_2589815166708911571_n    The image at left reminded me of the day I went to the John Keat’s house, Hampstead Heath, London, England. It wasn’t really his house, but he lived in one half of the house, which then was divided in two separate living abodes. Keats had a bedroom and sitting room. The other side of the house lived Fanny Brawne, to whom he would be engaged. Many of Keat’s best poems were written at this house.

I clearly remember walking into Keats sitting room with a small library and French windows that opened to a garden. I felt at home; indeed I felt that warm welcome as the words on the poster image at left say. In fact, in the guidebook I purchased at the time there is a picture of the Joseph Severn painting of Keats sitting in a chair reading a book in that very room.

The feeling I had walking into that room has been experienced in other homes when I see bookshelves loaded with books. No matter how far from, home, no matter how strange the neighborhood, no matter where you are, those bookcases and small libraries offer feelings of  comfort, of safety. You sense you can trust the people who live there.

A feeling of even greater wonderment and joy is created when the books are hardbacks, ones without jackets, ones that have that musty old feeling; books that have lived on the shelf for a long time. It is impossible to resist pulling them from shelves to see the publication date, to see the type that was used, to read sentences published decades ago.

I don’t have those feelings in regular libraries, for you expect to find books there. It is more akin to a warehouse. But in a home where there are tall bookcases set into the wall, or floor to ceiling bookcases filled with cloth and leather bound books like the one in Keat’s House, properly called Wentworth Place, is like a little kid being turned loose in a candy store.

My website.

My Amazon page housing non-musty digital books for your Kindle bookcase is here.

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Best blog ever! A must read! Not to be missed!

If the above words caught your attention and made you read this blog, then you understand the power of blurbs; those short ridiculous promotional quotes from critics, other authors, friends of the author, and those who may have actually read the book (yes there are those who blurb about a book, but never read it).

The same is true of movies, the blurbs coming in TV ads where you see-for less than a second- a big blocked word like OUTSTANDING, with smaller print below that from said critic. But it goes by so fast you never know who wrote the review, or whether he just said the word after leaving a private screening where the critic was given wine and cheese, along with a new Rolex.

Having written film reviews for ten years I always avoided phrases or words where I would be quoted; though, since I was writing for a small town newspaper, it was unlikely anything I wrote would be quoted anywhere. But I have long thought most of the blurbs, besides being taken out of context, were written by someone whose reviews were published in a free publication promoting grocery savings. Not mine, they were in an actual daily newspaper, and the review was not with the grocery ads.

I bring this up because of the following eye opening article, which is, to my thinking, a real must read. And it comes as no surprise to me. Will you be?

All about blurbs click here

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How Marlon Brando’s tie nearly ruined my short story

I was preparing a short story for an international competition in England. That means proofreading letter by letter, comma by comma. What fun! I would let the story sit  a couple of days, then look at again. this went on for about two weeks, I corrected a few things, added more detail, deleted some sentences, added others.

Then one day something caught my eye. I had two characters, both men, both wearing a red tie. That will not do. Granted one was dead, one was living, but unless there is an allusion, or some connection, some reason for the two red ties, then get rid of of one of them.

The reason is quite simple. Variety. A reader can spot the fact that two men are wearing red ties and think you-I mean me- is sloppy. I was.

Writers can fall into patterns. I blame the red tie on Marlon Brando. I saw “Last Tango in Paris” and loved the scenes in which he was wearing a black sports jacket, gray slacks, a blue and white stripped shirt with-yes, a red tie. It was the only time in my life I was influenced my fashion in a movie. I purchased a perfectly dashing black sports jacket in London, bought gray slacks back home in America, the shirt and the tie. Sadly I never got to tango in Paris though. But I looked sharp.

So I still have the idea of a red tie in my head. That is something I must be watchful of. (Yes I know I ended a sentence with a preposition, but that is not a hard rule as any grammar text, like “Fowler’s Modern English” will testify, though not without some hue and cry from the prosecution).

So you as a writer must be aware of certain details you fall in love with, whether colors, apparel, facial descriptions, anything that might trip you up like two red ties. Be aware of subtle ways you repeat yourself, even in dialogue, settings, anything at all.

I don’t know if I used a red or brown tie for Giants pitcher Red Ames-it was his lucky tie-in “Loonies in the Dugout,”  but if you read it you will know.

http://www.amazon.com/Terry-Nelson/e/B00EEVHN38

 

 

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How not to sell your book

I have read much about how indie writers should not sell their books and I agree that many of the methods some writers use are crass.

One should not make a direct appeal to blog followers by promoting their book. God forbid they might actually enjoy your story. So I will henceforth not make direct appeals. (Though of course if you want to visit my Amazon page-a link is provided below. Or if you want to visit my website, that link is also provided below). 

Nor will I cater to your sensitivity to animal cruelty, despite the fact I have a cat that was rescued from an abusive owner. Yes I give her, of the sadly soulful eyes, treats and yes I frequently pet her softly as she sits in my lap purring loudly with contentment. She follows me everywhere, as does my devoted spaniel, another rescue, who limps behind me with the cat shouldering the spaniel so she will not fall over. No, I can not prey on your heart.

Nor do I wish to use my disarming news of my doctor’s assessment that I have six months to live because of incurable athletes foot.  I have gotten three second opinions and they all agree neither surgery or amputation will amend the problem. I will await my fate with quiet dignity. Though what fate my teary eyed cat and, for all intent, a three legged dog, will meet without resources gained from the sale of my books, is unknown. No, I will not, do not wish, to ever sell books that way.

Nor do I desire to use my service as a Vietnam War veteran, a victim of agent orange and  that war stress syndrome thing, whatever it is called. Despite my having saved dozens of South Vietnamese children from mass murder, an action that won me a prestigious medal, no I can not use that to sell books either. (Mainly because I flunked my physical and was unable to serve my country). 

Nor will I offer free books for positive reviews, nor will I pay for reviews.

No, I can do nothing of the sort. I will do only what is left to do. And that is nothing, but just sit and twiddle my thumbs. (Both of which were broken by neighborhood bully).

Don’t go to my Amazon page. ttp://www.amazon.com/Terry-Nelson/e/B00EEVHN38

Nor to my website. http://terrynelson.net/

 

 

 

 

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If you can tell a story around a campfire you can write

I have no illusions about my writing. I am not a great writer, though if you want to disagree I shall not object. Like most Indie authors who write e-novels and short stories, I have flaws. But I have read novels from writers who have an actual publisher and agent, and I wonder how they got published.

I contend that writing advice is often more analytical after the fact. What I mean is that the advice about structure and plot usually give examples to dissect, to show how it was done. That is fine, but how many writers actually sit down and write a structural outline, with character arcs, denouements, epiphanies, and all the other literary  analytics.

Of course there are writers that do and my congratulations to all of you, but it seems backward. If you have sat around a campfire and told a story, you are actually writing as you speak. The story you tell has its own built in structure, its own twist, its own climax. When you sit down at the keyboard, instead of keeping all that advice in your mind; advice that can clutter, confuse and cause writer insanity, consider telling a story by narrating in your mind.

Imagine you are telling a story. Listen to your voice, forget grammar, forget everything and just tell your story.  You don’t need long, complex sentences with heavy use of adverbs and colorful description. Trying to impress will backfire. When you hear the phrase ‘a writer’s voice’ it is more than writers style and technique; it can also have something to do with how the author speaks with his voice.

In a good documentary film the narrator can captivate you with his words as he tells the story. That is what story telling is. Narration. You can even speak your words aloud as you pound out keystrokes. I don’t because I am already nuts, but I do listen to my words as I type. I narrate a story (Including dialogue of course). I don’t write it.

I bet you can do the same.

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