Books

How many of the Top Twenty Books People Claim to have Read, Have you actually Read?

From the Telegraph. (h/t Moe Lane)

  1. Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland – Lewis Carroll – Read it as a child, I think? Parts of it, anyway.
  2. 1984 – George Orwell – Read it in high school. Reread several times.
  3. The Lord Of The Rings trilogy – JRR Tolkien – Read it in middle school. Dad made me read The Hobbit first. Reread several times.
  4. War And Peace – Leo Tolstoy – Started to read it, couldn’t get into it.
  5. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy – No.
  6. The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes – Arthur Conan Doyle – Recieved it as a gift as a child. Read most of it.
  7. To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee – Read it in high school.
  8. David Copperfield – Charles Dickens – No. 
  9. Crime And Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky – Every now and again I try to read The Brothers Karamazov and fail. Never touched this one.
  10. Pride And Prejudice – Jane Austen – Nope.
  11. Bleak House – Charles Dickens – Nope.
  12. Harry Potter (series) – JK Rowling – No, and you can’t make me!
  13. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens – In High School. Reread once since.
  14. The Diary Of Anne Frank – Anne Frank – I think I was supposed to read this in high school, like it was on a summer reading list, and didn’t. 
  15. Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens – Nope.
  16. Fifty Shades trilogy – EL James – Who would claim to read this, who has not? Anyway, no.
  17. And Then There Were None – Agatha Christie – Read in high school. Reread several times.
  18. The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald – Read in High school. Reread several times.
  19. Catch 22 – Joseph Heller – Nope. The ubiquity of the title as a catchphrase has made it seem unecessary.
  20. The Catcher In The Rye – JD Salinger – Tried to read it a few years ago. Found it dull. Tried reading some of his short works and found them also dull. I sort of get what the big deal is, but I do not share it.

Results:

Read – 7

Not Read – 9

Mostly Read – 1

Tried to read and could not – 2

Let’s count the Mostly Read as Read and the Tried to Read as Not Read, and say I’ve read 8/20. Insufficient exposure to Dickens really brought my numbers down.

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Books

Writing Apps and Social Media – Some Recent Experiences

And by “recent” I of course mean “yesterday”

Less recently, I took Facebook off my phone. It just takes up too much data space, and I tire of scrolling through it. This doesn’t mean that Facebook is “dead” to me, but it does mean that I will be using it less frequently. The charm of it was mostly in the novelty, and that has mostly gone.

But the lack of it did make me wonder if there’s a social media experience I could be missing. Twitter is a battlefield, and like drinking from a fire hose more often than not. Tumblr is much the same. I wanted something … different.

So yesterday I looked at the social media apps on the App Store, and I came across Ello. Ello became a thing last year, and it seemed utterly precious in my eyes. But the copy promised a space for creative endeavors, a place to make and share things rather than to dimly snark at each other. That seemed the cure for what ailed me, so I downloaded it.

It’s already a better experience. I joined the writers group and happened upon a fellow by the name of Lee Williams posting a short story link, Hope is a Venetian RugI liked the cover art, so I followed it. The story was pretty good, but it also led me to the writing/publishing app he had it on, Tablo.

Tablo allows you to write something on your phone, publish it to the wider community, and even put on the Apple iBooks store and Amazon (in exchange for a 20% commission on the sales price of your book. Which is not bad). The phone app is simple and useful, and the web site is even better. I can work on something while I’m putting the baby to sleep, or any other point I have down time.

There’s another app I’ve been using, Werdsmith, which I’ve found useful for sketching ideas (it distinguishes between ideas and projects, which have word goals). Tablo is for when you have a definite story coming out, and you want to focus on getting it out.

So here’s my flagship efforts for the new site:

  • The Little Guerrilla Platoons, a short story about a man’s vengeance on his homeowner’s association (and the fat slob who runs it)
  • The Party at the Last Tomorrow, a post-apocalyptic, cyberpunk novella that’s been taking up brain space for a while now.

Watch this space for publishing details.

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Books, Pop Culture

Monarchial Legitimist Assails the Throne of Gondor

Thus demonstrating that it is not possible to reach a ne plus ultra of nerdiness. (h/t Sarah Hoyt at Instapundit)

Gondor’s own laws and rulers even recognized how ridiculous Aragorn’s claim was. Arvedui, the last king of Arnor before he drowned in a shipwreck, once claimed the throne of Gondor, but the Council of Gondor rightly rejected him, saying the royal line of Gondor was descended from Anárion, not Isildur. Aragorn, like a many an illegitimate dictator before him, was only able to seize power due to the breakdown of law and society during the great crisis of the War of the Ring. Even then, with the doom of Gondor looming, Denethor the Steward of Gondor told Gandalf he wouldn’t bow to Aragorn, “last of a ragged house long bereft of lordship and dignity.” (Denethor may have been Middle-earth’s Worst Dad Ever, but he had a point there: Aragorn came from royal stock, but the only thing his family had administered for a thousand years was a forlorn wilderness full of ruins, wolves, and trolls that talked like Victorian gutter urchins.)

This is, of course the claim of monarchial legitimists, who seem to think that monarchy depends upon nothing but descent. They miss the key point, that monarchy depends upon descent from divinely-favored persons. Monarchy is sacral. Always has been, always will be.

Continue reading

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Books, Letters

Is Writing Art, or Commerce?

Why not both?

A discussion of the Great Unsurprise of the New Year – the unfinishing of The Winds of Winter – has prompted Joe Vasicek to point out that for indie authors, it may be more the latter:

In the traditional system, writers were paid an advance on royalties by their publishers. The contract also allowed for royalties, but those figures were set so low that most books never earned out their advance. Publishers made up for it by raising the advances for the writers they wanted to keep.

In contrast, indie writers live and die by their royalty checks. Had a good month? Congratulations, you can afford to eat. Had a bad month? Tsk, tsk. Better hurry up with that WIP of yours, because the longer it takes to publish it, the longer it takes for you to get paid.

Thus, the reason Martin can fart around with finishing A Song of Ice and Fire is that he’s already a millionaire and has a small legion of fans who will drop everything the minute the release date is announced to pre-order it on Amazon. Whereas for the struggling indie artist, delay means loss of income, both from the books you aren’t selling and from the market forgetting about you when you finally do bring your pig to market.

Since I don’t have the weight of Bantam publishing behind me, that means I must needs move. I’ve done a lot of outlining for The Blood King, and I’ve got about 1,000 words give or take in various forms. I don’t feel like I’ve really begun to begin, though. I feel like I need to clear other desks (like the long-delayed podcast) first, but that might not be realistic.

I feel the Devil at my heels, though…

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Books, Letters

Content Creation Blues

 

A Song of Ice and Fire, Hold the Ice

If you’re on Reddit, you probably noticed or took part in the New Year’s Night vigil of watching George R.R. Martin’s livejournal for the update on The Winds of Winter. I myself did, and it was an instructive lesson in group emotions: first excitement, then frustration, then japery, rage, despair, and, just when we thought he’d gone to bed and we were getting all the news we were going to get, he commented and said he had one more update in him. The joy (“hype” as they call it on Reddit) was transcendent. Fans of A Song of Ice and Fire who were previously damning George for a lazy old fat prat got religion without even blinking.

He admitted his frustration with his progress and copped to the problems he’d been having. And I was fine with it. I was fine with him telling me what I surmised to be true: that Season 6 of Game of Thrones was going to spoil the books. It’s disappointing, but it’s okay. Now we can finally accept it.

Podcasting Takes Time

I’ve been trying to find the right moment to sit down and do my next podcast, which I have previously stated to be all about Star Wars. Now that we’ve had a chance to digest the film, I can see some of the complaints about it, but I’m going to talk about that more fully. I just need to make myself do it. And sooner, rather than later, because…

January is My Personal NoWriMo

Reading Larry Correia’s blog (especially this post) has inspired me to sit my rear end down and get cracking on my epic fantasy stories. I started creating this world on an electric typewriter back when I was 14, and seeing them in print has always been a dream. My first completed novel, The Island Prince, was from this world. It took me three years to write it, and its in no condition to be published. So I’m going to start again, with a story a few centuries before that. Hopefully what I’ve learned about writing over the last twelve years will show itself in the product. But at any rate, I’m on this. Working title: The Blood King

Actual Content Creation

The Unnamed Journal, a lit mag I have a tangential relationship to, just published its second issue. Click here for a hard copy, or here for Kindle.

And then there’s the music review project, Every Damn CD, on Tumblr. Currently I’m on the White Stripes, but there’s so much more to go.

get-on-with-it1

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Books, Letters

The Stranger is the Stranger….

The Stranger is a slim read, but I found it confusing. Supposedly, Sartre thought it a profoundly silly book, the equivalent of reporting on a soccer match with the words “I saw adults in shorts fighting and throwing themselves on the ground in order to send a leather ball between two wooden posts.” I feel similarly, and I would go a step further: I’m not certain that the verdict is wrong. Meursault does come off as a bit of a sociopath, not because he doesn’t cry for his mother, but because he doesn’t cry, and seems incapable of crying, for anything. He does not care about anything or anyone. The crime committed seems to have no purpose, but it occurs anyway, because Meursault doesn’t care enough to understand how to avert it. Which doesn’t mean I can’t see the absurdity of the “evidence” thrown against him, but I cannot escape the impression that I have wandered, not inside the head of a fellow human, but in some other kind of being who knew how to ape some human behaviors. Crimes of passion committed this dispassionately beggar verisimilitude.

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