Archive for July, 2012
I was once one of those diehard book fans who insisted on the smell of a good old-fashioned, leather-bound book between my hands.
I loved the pretty design of the covers, the thrill of turning the page and dying to read more, the fun of showing off my book collection on my shelves and arranging them in rainbow-order. Yes, I was that gal.
I wasn’t interested in those new-fangled eReaders. Could an eReader sit beautifully on my shelf? Could an eReader give me that warm and fuzzy feeling I got when I picked a new book off the bookstore shelf? No, I thought. EReaders take the fun out of reading and dog-earing the pages of a book I’ve read dozens of times.
I was so young and woefully misguided those six months ago. I’m an official eReader addict.
I picked one up on a whim after I tired of having to wait to pick up the latest books in the “Game of Thrones” series (200 pages to go!). There is no bookstore in Hannibal, and it isn’t a book carried by most box stores. Waiting to go home to St. Louis wasn’t fast enough for me anymore. Even ordering off the Internet was too much time when I was dying to read the next installment. But on an eReader? I could download books instantly to my little machine.
So I picked up a Nook for a birthday present (thanks, Mom) and a nifty cover with a Mark Twain quote on it (representin’!) and downloaded the first book on my list.
From then, I was hooked. Let me tell you why.
The books are cheaper. This might not be true in all cases, but I purchased a new-release book for $15 that would have cost me $35 on the shelves of a bookstore. Even paperbacks are cheaper, though not quite as steep of a discount. But it makes me feel like my investment is worth something.
Instant gratification. I see a book reviewed online that I want? I get it then and there. Because not only is downloading a snap on an eReader, my Nook is just small enough to fit in my purse. So it pretty much goes wherever I go. And if I’m toggling between two books, I don’t have to jam two books into my purse. Just Nookster.
Everlasting power. I mean, really. I’ve owned my Nook for about six months and I’ve only had to charge the battery twice. I ready almost nightly. It would last me a 12-hour plane ride if I needed it to.
The Nookster has been a good friend to me the past few months. Often times I fall asleep reading at night. Could I do that with a book? Yes. Will I bring some paperbacks on my beach vacation next month? Yes. But only because I couldn’t bear the thought of my little Nookster getting sand in his machine parts. Because now that I’m diehard Nook fan, there’s no way I’m going back.
One of my favorite hobbies is to find the grammatical errors in the signs my mom buys for her kitchen from one of those craft stores. “Your loved” is a particular favorite of mine, along with “Moms kitchen.”
This hobby results from five years in a newsroom and also the desire to embarrass other people for their lack of caution when throwing sentences together. Of course, inevitably, you’ll find some grammatical error in this blog post and think less of me. Well, we all need our little ways to make ourselves feel better.
So you can imagine, one of my favorite activities is to scour the Internet for grammatical errors, particularly in news items. I’ve compiled some of my favorite websites for you to enjoy:
- Funnytypos.com — This includes all kinds of typos, from products to newspaper articles to homemade signs. I promise you’ll get a chuckle from this website.
- Cakewrecks.com — I also have the coffee table book for this one, which I’d recommend. Nearly everyone who comes to visit looks through the book and has a good laugh. This website isn’t just full of grammatical errors on cakes but also cakes that look silly. This is a great website to peruse on your iPhone while waiting at the doctor’s office.
- GrammarCops.wordpress.com — Nothing fills me with cheer more than watching a commercial with a grammatical error, and the commercial is for a multi-million dollar company. Right now, the top story on the website is just that. It makes me think its public relations team is overpaid.
Do you have any favorite websites that highlight the decay of the English language?
On Jan. 1, I started the massive “Game of Thrones” book series. My goal? To finish book one. That was surprisingly easy.
For those of you who haven’t seen the HBO show or read the source material, “Game of Thrones” is George R.R. Martin’s story of power in the land of Westeros, full of horses, lords, ladies and also frozen zombie creatures that eat humans. Sort of “Lord of the Rings” meets the apocalypse meets King Arthur.
Probably needless to say, these are loooong books. Massive. Books one through five total 4,273 pages (U.S. first edition). Books six and seven have not been released.
I’ve made it to book five. Less than 500 pages to go. And I’m closing in on my marathon.
It feels good to know I’ve stuck with the series this long. At times, it isn’t a quick read. There is a slow build-up in pacing and plotting through each book and the first 200 pages or so can sometimes be brutal. But here I am, well within reach of finishing book five and I feel as if I’ve really accomplished something.
This isn’t your mother’s beach read. It is serious reading and takes serious focus. Sometimes, it feels good to finish reading something you weren’t sure you could finish. I wasn’t even sure I’d make it through the first book. But I’m about to be rewarded.
So come on, give it a try. This won’t be a walk in the park. But when you get to the end, it will feel like you’ve been on a journey. I promise it will be rewarding. Not into fantasy or science fiction? Find a different series that will pique your interest.
Sometimes we need to challenge our brains, especially now that there are mind-numbing things all around us, like “National Enquirer”, Facebook and anything with a Kardashian in it. Completing a difficult book is a reward for all the terrible things we expose our minds to. I promise, there are no celebutantes in “Game of Thrones.”
After I finish a book, one of my favorite things to do is “creep” on the author. Now, for those of you not of the Facebook generation, that doesn’t mean I hang out in front of the author’s house or anything. I research the author’s life, other books and authors he or she likes to read. Background information helps me understand how the author came to write what she did and what it means to her. And, as a writer, that helps me understand how my life experiences may one day shape my great American novel. If I ever get there.
One of the best resources for this kind of information is RedRoom.com. Red Room is solely dedicated to writing, reading and the people that do both. You can read about authors, discuss books and find resources to help you get started on writing (or finding your new beach read for vacation).
Some authors have blogs, some are reviewed, but you’ll find great resources and a community that has similar interests.
I’m currently mid-way through George R.R. Martin’s “Dance with Dragons,” the fifth book in the “Game of Thrones” series. I decided to search Martin on Red Room and it led me to a great article about Martin joining the “Kindle Million Club,” a select group of authors whose books have been downloaded more than one million times.
The best part? Red Room is completely free to get to know your favorite authors better or maybe get inspired with podcasts, videos and blogs.
I’m a pretty traditional girl when it comes to writing — paper and pen, baby. But with the fast-paced life we’re all leading between work, friends, exercise, chores and family, there isn’t always time for me to get the writing in that I want to. Maybe you’re the same way.
Luckily, there’s an app for that.
Check out iThoughts, a mind map app. iThoughts allows you to organize your thoughts on any subject, but I think can be great for working out a storyline. You can work on multiple topics, sync to your email and iThoughts automatically saves hundreds of versions of your map, so if you decide you don’t want to kill that character off, you can return to the version that has her being rescued just in time. And you can use different layouts to suit your needs. Sometimes the hardest thing for me isn’t the actual writing, but the planning stage. This will help me figure things out.
iThoughts is on version seven, so it has minimal kinks and is available on iPhone and iPad.
I’d also check out Day One, a journal app that is very easy to use and beautifully designed. It encourages writing, has a calendar, inspirational messages and can sink with iCloud or Dropbox, so your thoughts are saved. You can keep a day-by-day journal or do a quick entry just to jot down some thoughts, opinions or notes. There are still some basic elements to be added, like photos, better categorization for entries, etc., but this is a very exciting app for those who just don’t have the time to jot things down — but we manage to play Angry Birds while waiting in the doctor’s office or for a meeting.
Visit apple.com to find more apps that can help you on your way to writing that novel!
I thought about my last post regarding writers’ workshops and how they can be a great push and resource for writers looking for somewhere to start. But workshops, or even another group of writers, isn’t always an option if you’re shy about your writing or don’t know any other writers.
One of the best online resources I’ve found for writers looking for some assistance is National Novel Writing Month, or nanowrimo.org. Now, NaNoWriMo isn’t officially until November, but the resources are applicable to any time of the year.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with NaNoWriMo, writers aim to finish a 50,000-word novel from Nov. 1 to Nov. 30. That is a lot of writing. Last year 36,843 people FINISHED a 50,000-word novel in one month.
The website has so many excellent resources, including pep talks from bestselling authors, forums for discussing and critiquing other writers’ works and daily writing prompts.
When November comes along, I’m going to try this out. 50,000 words is a great undertaking and this website has the resources to get you through. Are you going to join me in the marathon of book writing?
It’s Couture Week in Paris, an event that happens but twice a year, where fashion’s top designers exhibit their latest in Haute Couture. Wildly different from the ready to wear collections the average American sees in stores, Haute Couture is an artisan-based method of making clothes that dates back over 150 years.
Although it’s just beginning, there’s already been major celebrity sightings as the stars scramble to get a front row seat to the world’s best fashion shows. Making an overseas trip and buttering up the designer is a must to patrons desiring a couture garment. After all, these highly detailed pieces are bought by no more than 100 (very rich) women around the world. Take a look at some celebs already seen making the couture rounds.
This past Monday, Raf Simons debuted his first collection in Paris for design house Christian Dior. Simons was named Creative Director after Dior’s previous leader John Galliano shamed the brand with several drunken, racist remarks. Simons, a Belgian couturier who formerly designed for house Jil Sanders, is only the fifth designer since Christian Dior founded the company right after World War II.
Outside a private home on the Avenue d’Iena, fashion’s best — Elbaz, Jacobs, Tisci, Versace, von Furstenberg — gathered to see Simons very first collection: Christian Dior Spring 2012 Haute Couture. And not one of them was disappointed.
The collection focused on structure seen in his tuxedos and cigarette pants, organza and tulle dresses, and belted coats. Simons connected almost every piece to the original designs of Dior.