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11 March 2010

Book Survey IV

General book questions... 
What is the most recent book you've read, and what did/do you think of it?
A Taste of Darkness by Nina Bangs. It was a riot. For starters, Kisa turns into a sabre tooth tiger, and catnip forces the change LOL I am not sure if she was trying to be funny, but this book was hilarious… there are also the scenes on Mars LMAO

On a scale of 1-10, how much do you like books/reading?
12 out of 10

Has it always been that number, or has it changed over time?
Since I got sick when I was 11 and lost the viability of a life of tomboyishness, I have been obsessed by books.

Have you ever named a pet after a character in a book? If not, would you?
Yes, quite a number actually. The first was my foal Bess, after Proud Bess, of the book of the same name. My puppy dog is called Akasha.

Have you or anyone you know been named after a character in a book?

What time of the day are you most likely to read?
Lunchtime and evening

Are you the type who reads regularly, or does the mood come and go?
Approximately 6 hours a day.

Do you find yourself easily relating to characters in books? Why/why not?
Yes, but it depends on the book and characters of course.

What books most remind you of your childhood?
Enid Blyton’s novels. Kids getting up to mischief, having adventures. In their own little worlds. We grew up on 120 acres, and me, my brother and friend next door (on 240 acres) used to run wild over our joint properties. Horse ridding, bush walking, swimming in creeks, adventuring, daydreaming and playing make believe, making cubby houses, playing with our dogs etc

How much time can you end up spending in a bookstore/library?
HOURS! I spend a minimum of an hour at a time in my bookstore each visit. Of course some of that is gossiping, but I also spend ages perusing the shelves. On a monthly basis I probably spend an average of 6 hours in the one store, then there are the retail chains I browse as well.

Are your books in good condition, or are you rough with them?
In good but well loved condition. By that I mean that I look after my books, but I am also constantly rereading them, so the spines do become creased etc.

Do you judge books by their cover?
Yes. Sometime it is a good thing, other times it isn't. I also try and buy all the same covers because I like them to match.

If you could hang out with any book character, which would you choose?
Oh dear. I have never thought about this before. This is a hard question that requires a LOT of debate. Now should I spend time with a hot juicy male character, or should I hang out with a female character I like? I reckon hanging with Tabby from the Dark Hunter’s Series would be a riot!

Have you completely read every book you own?
Apart from my To Read pile, up until a few months ago I had read all my books. But I was given a bag of SF and Fantasy that I haven't got to yet. They aren’t particularly on my To Read pile either. I think they will be rainy day books (i.e. back up for when I have read all my new books, and don't feel like rereading others)

Where do you usually get your books?
Galaxy bookstore – it specialises in SF, Fantasy, Horror and Paranormal Romance. I also buy Nora Roberts books from Kmart and chain book stores. And then, when I have a day off, I browse second hand stores. I bought Nina Bangs at Vinnies for 75¢ the other day!!! :D Bargain!

Do you re-read books often?

What genre(s) are you more likely to read?
These days it is Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy and Classics. Previously it was also Epic and Dark Fantasy, Mysteries and Thrillers with a smattering of Horror and Science Fiction. Now it is PR, UF and Classics with a smattering of the rest.

What kind of book are you in the mood for right now?
Something trashy and easy to read. My brain is mush from all the full time work LOL

Do you like the smell of old books? Or just books in general?
Mmmmm books…..

Have you ever been so frightened by a book that you had trouble sleeping?

Has a book ever made you feel unbearably sad?

Are you comfortable with reading graphic sex scenes in books?

What is your opinion on book banning?
It is an act against free speech. It is also driven by people with agendas and they use words like “morality”, “evil” and “wrong”, phrases like “corrupting young minds”, “moral corruption” and similar. These are all subjective terms, and it is normally right wingers doing the “subjecting”. Someone would call the books I read morally depraved because they involve sex between (consenting) unmarried adults – some times with multiple partners, witchcraft and magic. Oh, and don't forget the sacrilege LOL Then again, those people also have issues with anything that isn't the bible or written by an orthodox type of Christian (or Muslim, Hindu, Jewish etc). We all have a choice to read or not to read something. If you don't like books that you disagree with, don't read them. If you don't want your kids reading Harry Potter, don't buy it for them and tell them not to borrow it from the library. Idiots. I don't want them controlling what I read. I would be left reading Pilgrim’s Progress.

If you need help with something, do you like to read instructional books for guidance?

Where do you keep your books when you're not reading them?
On my bedside table, on my bed, on my bookshelf, under my bed, in my wardrobe, on the floor – basically any surface where I can squeeze them in!

Have you ever read a book and felt like you wasted your time? What was so bad about it?
Yes. They either held no interest for me or they were poorly written.

What book do you recommend right now?
“Hunger Games” and “Catching Fire” by Suzanne Collins. “Mockingjay”, the third instalment that I am waiting with bated breath for comes out later this year.

Comic books/graphic novels...
Do you prefer comic books over graphic novels? Why?
I like both. Graphic novels are pretty, but where would I have been without my Phantom comics as a kid?

How long have you liked them?
Since I was about 7.

Which one is your favourite?
I don't have one, but I remember reading a Neil Gaiman one years ago I liked. I also read The Phantom, Oh My Goddess, Buffy, Angel, and a couple of other Japanese manga that I can't remember the names of. I really want to get my hands on The Crow and 300.

Are you a comic book artist, as well as a reader? If not, would you like to be?

What is your favourite thing about comic books?
The action and the artwork.

What is your favourite thing about graphic novels?
The artwork and the story

Do you search for rare comic books, or very old comic books?
No, but I like vintage things.

Do you try to keep your comic books/graphic novels in great condition, or does it not matter?
I mostly borrow them. My brother has all my Phantom comics as we used to share them.

What is the oldest comic book/graphic novel you own?

Are you quite knowledgeable when it comes to comic books? If so, where did you learn it all?

Do you think that reading these makes you a "geek"? Why/why not?
No, but I am already a nerd/geek.

What do you think of movies/TV shows based on comic books? What about graphic novels based on TV shows?
They tend to be good if they are based on a good storyline and have a good cast and crew. If the story was paltry to start with a few special effects won’t make them any better.

Are you more likely to read a comic book/graphic novel than an actual novel?

10 March 2010

I am on Nalini Singh's Website!!!

I just had the biggest freakiest browse through Nalini's website. She just uploaded details for the new book, so I went visiting to suss it out  and ended up looking a pretty pictures... Shock of my life when I realised I was in one of those pretty pictures!! My two friends from bookclub, Ms C and Ms T are in front of me. Ms C had just advised me to try Lora Leigh's novels, and apparently they are a guilty pleasure of Nalini's as well, as she jumped in on our conversation LOL Anyway, I am in the third photo, all in black.

Here is a screenshot of her website. I faded out a lot of photos so you could see the relevant stuff. You can go to her travel page to see all her photos.

Zoom in - can you see me? I'm the one all in black of course. Can you see the gorgeous Nalini? Okay, that's all you needed to see. I'm going off to brag to my mother now ;D

09 March 2010

Charles de Lint: Newford, my collection and the cover art

Charles de Lint just posted a note on facebook (yeay! I'm his facebook friend! LOL) on the order of the Newford Stories. It's also on his FAQ on his website, but I thought I would post it here for future reference. Both Linda and I are fans (we are getting matching Crow Girl tattoos) so it makes sense that we have something we can refer back to. Oh, FYI, as well as the website and mailing list, you can keep up to date through Charles' twitter and facebook. His facebook is fun, because he talks about music he is into as well, and if you are anything like me, you admire him for his taste in music as well as for his writing LOL

Order of the Newford Stories
  1. Dreams Underfoot (collection)
  2. The Dreaming Place (young adult novel)
  3. A Whisper To A Scream (originally credited to "Samuel M. Key")
  4. I'll Be Watching You (originally credited to "Samuel M. Key")
  5. Memory And Dream (novel)
  6. The Ivory And The Horn (collection)
  7. Trader (novel)
  8. Someplace To Be Flying (novel)
  9. Moonlight And Vines (collection)
  10. Forests Of The Heart
  11. The Onion Girl (novel)
  12. Seven Wild Sisters (short novel, also available in Tapping the Dream Tree)
  13. Tapping the Dream Tree (collection)
  14. Spirits in the Wires (novel)
  15. Medicine Road (short novel)
  16. The Blue Girl (young adult novel)
  17. Widdershins (novel)
  18. Make a Joyful Noise (chapbook)
  19. The Hour Before Dawn (collection)
  20. Old Man Crow (chapbook)
  21. Little (Grrl) Lost (novel)
  22. Promises to Keep (short novel)
  23. Dingo (young adult novel)
  24. Muse & Reverie (collection)

I have to admit, I haven't read the last couple of stories. I recently bought Mystery of Grace (not a Newford story) but previous to that, the most recent (timeframe-wise, not when I read it) were The Onion Girl and The Blue Girl. Unfortunately, Charles de Lint's books are quite expensive to buy brand new in Australia, and second hand stores only sell the usual culprits (Moonheart, Yarrow, Greenmantle etc).I am gradually filling out my collection of Charles de Lint novels.

My CdL Collection
Of the top of my head I remember that I own:
  • Greenmantle
  • I'll Be Watching You
  • Into The Green
  • Memory and Dream
  • Moonheart
  • Mulengro
  • Spiritwalk
  • Tapping The Dream Tree
  • The Blue Girl
  • The Dreaming Place
  • The Little Country
  • The Mystery of Grace
  • Wolf Moon
  • Yarrow

I will own them all eventually! I also have a number of anthologies that contain his stories, and the only ones I haven't read are those that have been out of print (and not in the library system) and the newer publications (also not in the system and too pricy to purchase). I will update this list as I get more of his books.

Cover Art
I really admire some of the artwork on the covers of Charles de Lint's novels. Particularly that by John Jude Palencar, Charles Vess, Terri Windling, Jim Hoover, David Bergen and Fletcher Sibthorp - and we can't forget the original Brian Froud illustrations The Wild Wood. I love John Jude Palencar's artwork. They are very atmospheric and beautiful They don't always take on the gritty nature of de Lint's novels, but they do convey the mystery. I think Fletcher Sibthorp's covers best convey the darker side of his covers - a perfect example of this is his cover of Mulengro, where you see the spirits rolling out of the fog that roils around the villain just as it does in the book. I love Charles Vess and Terri Windling's cover art, as it emphasises more of the mythos behind the stories - either the Celtic or the Native American folklore, done in pen, watercolours and washes.

Now onto Brian Froud: sadly there were copyright issues with publishers with The Wild World, so you can't buy the original version of this book any more. It is such a shame, as it is one of the best illustrated books I have ever laid my eyes on. I refuse to buy this book until I can find a Brian Froud version. I hate it when publishers mess shit up like this! It was such a lovely concept! Basically Brian Froud did a number of artworks (I think about 50?) and invited 4 author friends over to choose a selection of them each to write a story about. The results were wonderful! *sigh* stupid publishers! After the first two books in the Faerielands series were publish, Bantam changed its fantasy publishing and the project was discontinued. Because it was with Bantam, other publishers couldn't republish the paintings, so reprints of the stories by de Lint and McKillip have artwork by different artists, as does the now published Snyder; the paperback of Windling's novel has a new Froud artwork on the cover. I am trying to find original copies of Patricia McKillip's "Something Rich and Strange" and Charles de Lint's The Wild Wood, but I won't bother with the Midori Snyder as it hasn't been released with Brian Froud's artwork.

John Jude Palencar

Fletcher Sibthorp

Terri Windling

Jim Hoover

05 March 2010

Readability: a solution to garish blogs

I came across this post by Justin Woodbridge on Tumblr recently, and I had to share the tip. It is for a web tool called Readability - which changes the skin of the page you are reading to a more generic one. I find this a godsend for all those garish blogs I seem to stumble across. You know the type - the ones with hideous colour schemes that give you migraines and unreadable fonts that give you eye strain? Well all you have to do is use this tool, and it makes it automatically readable... It really is a great tool if you are a blog addict like myself! :D

The website is:
It is also a Firefox add-on:

The website, with easy to choose options and immediately visible examples:

You then drag the Readability button to your bookmarks, and click it when you want to strip a website of all its crap.

Here is the original post by Justin Woodbridge:
Most websites are poorly designed. The person didn’t know what they were doing, they got it for free off another website, they hired a shoddy designer. You get the gist. The colors clash, ads fill the sidebars, social media badges all over the place, irate commenters at the bottom. Major turn offs from a website. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always mean they aren’t damn good writers. I want to focus on what you have to say, not what the commenters do. So, here’s the solution: A little bookmarklet named Readability. This little tool strips away the garbage, leaving you with a tasteful page. It customizable too

Pop that into your bookmarks bar. Next time you’re browsing the days headlines and you find an article you’d like to absorb, click on it. Bam. A clean and simple page, nothing but prose.



*Rather than picking on a blog I follow, I killed an old blog I had for reviews, painting it garish colours... Probably should have added hideous graphics as well LOL

Anyway, this is my solution to finding a blog that you love to read but the design makes you haemorrhage.

World Book Day

Damn you America, UK and rest of the time zones!!! 4th of March was World Book Day! Its now the 5th of March in Australia. All the sites I go to are saying its today, but they are slow off the mark. Why cant they mention things the day before? It drives me insane because I miss so many things. I hate this! I love Australia, I love living in Australia, but the fact that I don't see mentions of things until the day after they would be current for Australians pisses me off! *le sigh* Yesterday (4th of March) my pet peeve was the day before (3rd of March) was Talk In The Third Person Day...... My life sucks.

02 March 2010

Sherrilyn Kenyon: Why does it take so long for a book to be published?

I follow Sherrilyn Kenyon on facebook, as well as twitter, myspace etc, and she has the most interesting blog entries some times. Here she answers the age old question on why it takes so long to get the books we crush after...


Why do I have to wait so long for the next installment? These are questions I get a lot and so I thought I'd answer them in one long post :)

The short answer is: Sometimes it's the publisher ie it takes a bit to get a book out. Sometimes it's not ie it takes a long time for the author to write the book.

The long answer:

How a book is written. The author gets an idea for the next book in the series and writes it. This can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few years depending on things I'll discuss in a moment. But let's say it's a typical book that takes the average 4-9 months to write.

Book is then handed in to editor. Editor then needs time to read the book. It's a myth that big writers aren't edited. They're actually edited a lot more stringently than other authors because the publishing house has invested a lot more money in their careers. Instead of just an editor reading the book, it's also read by the marketing director, the publisher and others who can weigh in on it in addition to the editor. What a big name author gets is the ability to have more pages and to take more chances with the plot and to veer from popular categories. The content is always fully scrutinized and I can tell you from personal experience that some of the chances I've taken have made many people at my houses sweat bullets :)

Editor passes book back to author and author needs time to go in and make corrections. This can take a few days or a few weeks depending on the problems found and the solutions needed. Book goes back to editor.

Copy-editor now reads the book and makes stylistic changes and locates (hopefully) factual and time line errors as well as logic errors missed by all previous parties. Again, none of these steps are truncated or omitted for big name authors and they all take time to do. Reading for mistakes is radically different than reading for pleasure and takes a lot more time. Everybody makes a flowchart :)

Book goes back to author who then has to go through and answer and fix, if necessary, every single comment made by the CE. Again can take days or weeks to do.

Book returns to publishing house where it is now reviewed by a production editor who often sends in queries about spellings and style issues that seem inconsistent. They can also point out additional mistakes in plot if they find them.

Book is now set and turned into galleys which are the printed page of the book before it's trimmed and bound into an actual book. These are sent to the editor who reviews them and then to the author who reviews them. I have three sets of galleys. 1 for me, 1 for Kim and 1 for hubby to review to see if any of us can find any last minute errors and fix them before the book is released. Believe it or not, mistakes still happen even though it's passed through that many hands. Again, this takes a few days or a couple of weeks.

Book goes back to publisher who then binds it into a final product. Now in addition to this, behind the scenes while it's being written, the publisher is having marketing meetings, art meetings, sales meetings, etc. All of which takes months to put together for every single book. Catalog and back cover copy must be written. Sales people have to pitch the book to their accounts and author and editor and art dept must fight tooth and nail over every cover (not always, but more times than not). Marketing, editor and author must fight over titles.

Also there is what's called a "lead time" which is the 4-6 months before a book comes out that it's presented to accounts to be ordered. You can't just drop a book in a month before it hits the shelves and expect it to be in stores on time. The buyers need time to place orders and those lead times are crucial (they are also what determine print runs). Additionally, you have lead times for advertising which varies by media and publication. You can't call up RT or the NYT and say that you want an ad in the next month's or tomorrow's issue. They work months ahead too with advertising. My walls are covered with advertising deadlines for various places. Then there's the time needed to plan and execute a tour which again takes months to put into place.

Then there's the time needed to ship the books to the warehouses and stores. Personnel need time to pack and unpack and shelve the books. All of this takes a lot of time and it's done for every book.

Now that is if everything goes well. Sometimes snafu's happen and can delay the books. A shipment is lost. A production error where books are found to be missing pages, etc.

Come with me now to what happens if there's a problem writing a book...

Unfortunately writers aren't machines. We all wish we were, but we're not and things happen to us that can delay books even more.

When you get a kernel of an idea for a book, you think you know how it'll lay out. Writers are usually surprised at how little control they have over their characters and the plots. They take directions you never see coming and sometimes they hit brick walls. I can't begin to catalog how many times I've thrown a book out and started it over on deadline.

I have one basic philosophy that will never change and it's this: I will never, ever put a book on the market that I think isn't my best work. I will never, ever ask a reader to pay for something I rushed or something I do not believe is 150% my best work. For whatever reason, you may not like the book when you read it, but I can look all of you in the face and say I did my absolute best and I'm sorry you weren't happy. But I thought it was great otherwise I wouldn't have handed it in. I look at it this way: My name on a book is a personal guarantee between me and you that it is the best book I can write.

I will not rush a book. I won't. I don't have deadlines. Yes, I have times when the publisher needs the book turned in, but every publisher I have will tell you that I don't write to those. I would rather have a book pushed back and delayed than put something on the market that isn't my best work. I don't think it's fair to the readers or my characters and I will never give any of you anything but my full attention and my hardest work.

Therefore, I tell my publisher when I "think" a book will go in. Sometimes I'm right. Sometimes I'm terribly wrong. Ash's book was one example. That sucker took a lot longer to write than I anticipated it would. Darkness Within is another one. The BAD series is a huge one. With BAD, I knew what I wanted to do with the series, but I couldn't get the books there on my own. I can't tell you how many times I started Phantom and threw it out. It was such a frustration and as I was plotting with Dianna, trying to come up with new ideas I realized that she had the missing ingredient that I wanted and couldn't do on my own. Since her ideas were so fresh and perfect, I asked her to help me write the series and I wanted her name on the books because I didn't think it fair to her or you guys that she contribute to the books and not get credit. Now we're a team for both BAD and Belador which was her "BAD" experience. Her strength is suspense and mine is paranormal. So for those two series, we've combined our strengths and our voices into a unique blending of the two.

I don't know why some books come fast such as Dance with the Devil which was written in less than three weeks and others such as Ash take years. I wish I did. I wish they all came fast and furious. But I do know this, you never know going in if the book will be fast or long to write. Some books and characters just take time for whatever reason. It's as frustrating for me as it is for the fans who are waiting.

Likewise some series take longer to manifest ideas. I don't know why and it frustrates me. I've had the partial book for the Scot for sometime, but I can't get the book to finish. No idea why. Nevermore is another example of this. But rather than wait on the ideas, I move on to other series and ideas so that you guys don't have to wait years between all my books. What's weird is that I actually have 4 more series than you guys have heard about. Will I ever write them? I don't know.

I don't know how my brain works or even where ideas come from. I just know that in order to write and finish a book, I have to be enthralled with it. It has to burn inside me like a fury. I have to live it, feel it, breathe it, need it. If I don't, I know it's not a great book and I won't work on it until I have that fever inside me for it. I think that's why so many of you tell me that the characters seem so real to you- because when I'm writing it, they are real to me.

So to make a long answer even longer, in the case of Darkness Within, I am at fault for it taking so long to come out. I have thrown out two fully completed versions of the book and started over because in my opinion, it wasn't good enough for you guys to read. I'm very sorry. In addition to that, I got really, really sick which has interfered with my normal writing schedule. I didn't realize that an infection was leaking poison into my body. All I knew was that I wasn't feeling good. This led to surgery and it will take me months to recuperate from start to finish. I'm told 8-9 months if everything goes well. Longer if it doesn't. Right now everything is going well and there's no sign of further infection. Everything seems to be healing well. 6 months to go, fingers crossed.

Other things that interfere with writing: Twitter, FB, MySpace and emails. Even something as simple as answering when is such and such book coming out will take a couple of minutes to write. It's why there are long periods of me being quiet. I'm not ignoring you guys, I'm trying to work :) And I get a lot of questions from you guys. Not that I'm complaining, I'm only explaining things that take time away from writing that are work related and need to be done. Likewise appearances and tours. It's hard to write on the road and there are times such as while I'm at appearances where I can't write at all. A lot of appearances means fewer books I love spending time with you guys, but I do have to have time to write :)

In the case of the League books, I switched publishers for that series and because of their lead times, they couldn't get it into their process any sooner. April 2011 was the earliest date they could manage. For that too, I'm sorry, but there was nothing I could do about it.

For all of you writing in to tell me that your saddened by the delays, I feel your frustration. I'm grateful you're so desperate to read the books and I beg your understanding as to why it's taking so long for some of them to come out. I write absolutely every single day- 365 days a year. Anywhere from 10-50 pages depending on the day. Unfortunately, not all of the pages are worth keeping. As I love to say just because it's written in blood doesn't mean it's carved in stone and not everything I write is gold. Most times I have to pan the nuggets out of a lot of dirt :)

I've always wondered, not getting narky, just extremely frustrated because it takes so long to get the next book. I tend to read voraciously, so it is quite frustrating to finish a new release and wait a year for the next installment in a series. Add to all that, I don't read hardcovers, so have to wait for the paperback to hit the shelf *sigh*
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