Friday, September 28, 2007

Update and an Opportunity to Choose What I Read Next

Here I go waiting almost a month before posting again. Sorry folks. It's not that my life isn't interesting, but rather the reverse. Those of you who come here from Forward Motion already know that since September 1st, I (with help) have moved, patched, and moved again the Forward Motion site thanks to issues with not one but two hosting companies. I'm happy where we are now (joined my personal site, Left Brain/Right Brian) at TigerTech and hope it will be a long, problem-free engagement :).

Also in the same timeframe, though stretching back to August 31st, I started a new novel. This is my first urban fantasy and an amazing run. This novel came into being on the 17th or 18th of August with absolutely no warning, shoved aside a psychological/philosophical science fiction novel I was planning to outline, and raced to the starting line for the Labor of Love writing challenge on Forward Motion. The first draft is estimated (by my handy dandy plotting spreadsheet ;)) to be about 74,000 words. That's a little short for the market, but it'll grow in the editing phases at least 5,000 to 80,000 (all counts done in MS Word). As of this morning, I was showing less than 20,000 words to go. Not counting the 10,000 I added on the 31st, apparently September has been my own personal National Novel Writing Month (NaNo), though I'll probably come in short of 50,000. However, writing has kept me sane when I couldn't find the energy to work on anything else. And I love this story :D. If you're interested in more about the novel, check the Lifespan of a Novel link in the left-hand sidebar. The link will take you to my writing blog, which I update somewhat more frequently under normal circumstances.

So there you have it. The left and right brain of Margaret McGaffey Fisk. I did not succeed in making much progress on critiquing, editing, or planning for NaNo, but on top of the site stuff, I had some health issues to work through. Overall I think I'm doing fine :). And you didn't really expect more than a monthly update here anyway, did you?

So, enough about me; let's talk about books, as in what I've been buying and sneaking a read.

My plan (putting it out here officially to push myself to do it) is to post at least one book review/comment post each week through October, and ongoing if it goes well. These posts may be short, and they certainly won't be fancy, but I hope they'll offer some input and raise some interest because I haven't found a bad novel on my shelf yet :). Just lucky I guess, but amazingly most of them are by people whom I consider at least acquaintances if not friends, and I know some pretty darn good writers if I must say so myself.

Part of this plan is to make sure I set time aside to read the things on my shelf. Buying sprees are pretty darn worthless if you don't get the books read, right?

So here's what I've done. I just updated my Books Read/Waiting list here: I am currently reading, and enjoying, Dark Thirst by Sara Reinke. She and I will be presenting a week-long class on editing techniques together for the Muse Online Conference in October, so I thought I should check out her writing style since I've already been to a presentation by Sara. I'm almost at the end and I won't spoil the eventual comment by saying more than that I've found it hard to put down.

And since I'm almost at the end, here's what I'd like you all to do. Please follow the link above or click the link in the left-hand sidebar to see what I've got (well, the portion I've keyed in). On the right-hand side of the table is a column indicating what date I've read the book. If the date is blank, I haven't read it yet.

In the comments, list your top three picks in order of preference for what I should read next. You can even toss in a comment of why for the fun of it. As I said, I'm almost done with Sara's book and sometimes the sheer variety of things to read can stall me into hanging out with the Atlantic Monthly and Scientific American for a couple weeks. Save me from a pure non-fiction binge and set your vote :D. I look forward to seeing what you think.


Jean said...

I see three personal favorites of mine. Cold Granite, Valley of the Soul, and Into the Wilderness.

They're all excellent for different reasons. I think it depends upon what you feel like reading for which one you should read first.

Cold Granite is contemporary hard core detective mystery with gritty characters and situations.

Valley of the Soul is more fantasy than Tambo's first two but still contains the elements of Tambo's brand. It will hook you, disgust you, and fascinate you simultaneously. It doesn't have the same disturbing elements of Threads of Malice, but it has an edge as well.

Into the Wilderness is the entry to a complete world of Upstate New York post Revolutionary War. This community is addictive, and you will want to know what happens next in the series by the time you finish.

I see others I'm not as familiar with on the list, but these are guaranteed good reads.

Jean said...

Oh, I just looked at the source for the three above, and I see you could have guessed I would have that answer, right?

Oh, and you'll sell the progress bar for four books? Hmmm. I might be able to swing that....

My husband reads Davide Weber, but the book by him he gave me to read, I found myself wondering what was so great about it, and I began to wonder if hubby gave me the book as an example of how not to write.

I've enjoyed all the Linda Howard I've read, but I'm not familiar with the two on your list.

Mama Rose said...

The only one on your list I've read is Valley of the Soul. It's one I'd easily recommend, since I love Tammy's writing. I have one or two others, but haven't read them yet.

Currently, I'm reading Kelley Armstrong's "Women of the Otherworld" series. I recommend them and decided, as this was getting way too long, to post it in my resurrected blog, rather than make your comments the size of a whole post. :)

Margaret said...

LOL on the source, Jean. And HRM. I thought I'd updated Into the Wilderness as read. Apparently not :p. And I agree entirely. I've even passed the recommendation on to others :D. Her next book got a call out on the Bantam Dell newsletter as well.

And hi Linda :D. That's two votes for Tambo's. I didn't mind the gore level, but the fantasy and characters was the strength to me for the previous two.

Oh, and with the progress bar, when I get a spare moment to breathe, Holly has accepted the bar for selling through her store as well, so if that's easier, you just have to be patient. The books are fun though because I get introduced to authors I didn't know of before. (And guess what? I'm listening to Kathy Mattea right now :D.)


jjmcgaffey said...

You should read Alanna, but make sure you have the other three available - it's not quite a four-volume novel (and you're not as obsessive as I am about reading series in order and in quick succession) but I think you'll want to go on when you finish the first one (Sean has all four, right?).

One you've read but not blogged - I would very much like to hear your opinion of A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver - one of my favorite books for some odd reason, I'd like to know if it's the writing or merely the subject that fascinates me (and I trust your opinion on the writing).

And of course I recommend the Webers, but you know that.

Oh, and since you liked the Bill Bryson (A Walk in the Woods) - you should find The Mother Tongue by him. Absolutely wonderful book about why English is what it is - he gets some things completely wrong (that I can recognize - I forget now what it was, but he reversed two definitions), but there are a lot of things that suddenly make more sense. (No, no! she says, you're supposed to help me choose among what I have, not add stuff!)

Margaret said...

Ouch Jenny. Not only are two of the three suggestions ones to put MORE on the list (the other Alannas and the non-fiction) but you also give me homework???? I don't know if I had any real comments written up for Scarlet and Miniver. I read and enjoyed it, especially the comments about monopoly, but it's been a while. I'll see what I can drag up for you in my book comments marathon :).

Jean said...

Well, I'm sure real money might be better for you than books, but I'm happy to do either way on the progress bar. I was kidding, but if you don't mind making the bar available on the HollyShop, I'll pick it up when it's released there.

The strengths you noted in Tambo's first two books are still present in Valley. You won't be disappointed.

Margaret said...

Eh, if you were kidding, then you certainly don't have to get the progress bar. I'm just still a little thrown by Holly's offer, so thought I'd share.

And I'm down to the last 10 pages on Dark Thirst so Tambo's is looking really good from here :D.

Pandababy said...

Oh definitely Matriarch, by Karen Traviss. Then you can read "Ally" in January, and be perfectly ready for "Judge" when it comes out in April.

(You've already read the first three, so I don't have to tell you what you're missing, except to say Karen just keeps better. Just when I think she can't go deeper with a character or more creative with an alien or increase the tension - she does it again.)

You can get Matriarch and Ally in digital form from Powell's online, if they're not in stock at your local bookstore.

Not on the subject, but while I'm here, must add my thanks to all you've done to keep FM and Holly's site going.

Margaret said...

Ooh, good point! I forget what's on my list :p. I went on a few too many buying sprees and the TBR pile didn't get much smaller :D.

I've started Tambo's next already but there'll be other books to follow. I rarely take a complete break from reading. I'm the tortoise...slow and steady.

And yr welcome. Holly lets me exercise my left brain while FM is my home. I couldn't leave either to flounder in this horrible mess.

Jean said...

That didn't come out right. I do want the progress bar. Holly had mentioned you were resisting putting it on the shop. I'm delighted to hear (she's beaten you down) you're willing to offer it for sale on the shop and eagerly await its arrival.
(Don't remember how to do the line through code...) It was the trading for books I was kidding about--but I'd be willing to entertain that idea, too.

Margaret said...

Sigh. Don't worry Jean. It took me a day and a half to get gave me four books for your blog contest=you could have given them for the progress bar :p. A little slow these days.

And I had to reread this (Don't remember how to do the line through code...) several times on the confused "I didn't know Jean coded" space before I understood you want strikethrough so an s used like the b for bold :D.

And I didn't realize I was being resistant :p. Just found the idea a little overwhelming. I'll be doing some upgrades, and my hubby has agreed to QA, then it'll be there.

Deirdre said...

The only book on your list I've already read is Alanna - so I'm going to echo Jenny on that. BTW - all four of the Alanna's are probably about the read-time of any one or two of the "adult" it's not like she's told you to add THAT much!

BTW, in the world of don't-like-the-author-BUT, Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth is fantastic. A people-based tale taking place over the about 100 years it takes to build a cathedral.

Margaret said...

Hey Dee :).

I confirmed with Sean that he has the rest of that series (and several others besides) so I'm set as soon as I start. And that's a very intriguing description of a book. I'll have to check it out in the library or something to see for myself :D.