December 31, 2010
What can I say? I really and totally and completely loved it! I loved it so much that I decided to buy the English edition of the books, because the ones I had were in German. I wanted to read the Original too, because some texts tend to loose a lot of their charm in a translation. But most importantly, I had found one of those rare books that grabs your attention and you could read it again and again. And again. Not getting tired of it in the least, and not minding that you already know some passages by heart. Just about once a year or so I will pick the book from the shelf and reread the 896 most enthralling pages I've ever read. And I simply never grow tired of it.
Being a mixture of fantasy and science fiction, Doris Egan's book is mostly a great piece of story-telling. And this is exactly what's most important for me – the story itself. Of course the setting will compliment the whole story line, but the characters, their interaction and adventures, are what brings a book to life. And Doris did that so wonderfully that I officially declared this book my Favorite Book Of All Time and this hasn't changed over the years.
I always felt it's a bit of a shame that Doris Egan switched from writing books to writing for the screen (she's worked on Smallville, Dark Angel and House MD as of late). Then again, maybe I would have been utterly disappointed by any new novels. And this is something I really despise – when it's all downhill for authors after their first one or two bestsellers.
Curious about the title?
The gates of horn and ivory are a literary image used to distinguish true dreams (corresponding to factual occurrences) from false. The phrase originated in the Greek language, in which the word for "horn" is similar to that for "fulfill" and the word for "ivory" is similar to that for "deceive". On the basis of that play on words, true dreams are spoken of as coming through the gates of horn, false dreams as coming through those of ivory.
December 30, 2010
This sounds like a lot more fun than trying to loose 100 pounds (which would reducce me to a skeleton anyway) or not eating chocolate for 100 days. But reading 100 books is both a lovely idea and a wonderful adventure. Thanks to Book Chick City for hosting this challenge!
Here's to reading!!
December 29, 2010
As book owners were so worried about theft and damage to their property they often included what is known as a “book curse” on the inside cover or on the last leaf of their manuscripts, warning away anyone who might do the book some harm. This curse is meant to frighten those foolish enough to belief in such things as curses, and yes, medievals tended to get scared off by this. Obviously it only works if you believe that the words printed in these “protected” books are special, potent magic, but as most people really did believe in it back than, the book curse was a most widely-employed and effective method of discouraging thievery. And to keep those at bay who didn't quite believe in book curses, books were often chained into place too.
I must confess, I really like the idea behind this. Though obviously it wouldn't work in our time. Then again, there are surly a lot of superstitious people still around, who'd rather not steal a book in a bookshop or library if there was a nice little book curse on the back of it. Or a chain that doesn't allow stealing in the first place.
By the way, while the first book curse above is a real one, the second one's a hoax written in the early 20th century.
December 28, 2010
Henry David Thoreau
I doubt that the imagination can be suppressed. If you truly eradicated it in a child, he would grow up to be an eggplant.
Ursula K. Le Guin
And as imagination bodies forth the forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen turns them into shapes and gives to airy nothing a local habitation and a name.
Every human has four endowments: self awareness, conscience, independent will and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom — The power to choose, to respond, to change.
Sometimes imagination pounces; mostly it sleeps soundly in the corner, purring.
December 27, 2010
I've been writing for years now. Not every day, but some days I would sit down and write from morning til night. There were dry spells as well as monsoons. Some days I would do nothing more than pick up a pen to jot down some notes on a piece of paper. Other days I'd be typing like a maniac that knows if this idea doesn't get transferred to paper her head will explode.
You might have noticed that "1000 Words a Day Challenge" button on the left. I guess most writer's have their dead-lines. In one case it might be that the magazine they write for has a very specific one, in other cases it's simply a self-imposed dead-line. Though maybe I shouldn't use the word “simply” here.
I decided some months ago to put more emphasis on writing. Daily writing, to be exact. That challenge seemed just like the Damocles version of a silent mantra, but in a good way, as odd as it may sound. There were days when I couldn't wait to sit down and type. Then there were those where I told myself to sit down and write. True, in the second case it took a while of just sitting there and looking at the screen, before the first key was hit by a finger willing to break the silence in my room. And yes, you'd be surprised what your muse is able to do if you pinch her in the … well, the point is, this challenge didn't turn out to be a horrible decision. On the contrary. It's fun. And most days I will write a lot more than just a mere 1000 words. Take this text for example. Over 340 words already. And yes, all writing counts. Well, maybe not all as in “everything”. Shopping-lists when heading to the supermarket? Nope. Just wanted to clarify that.
And what am I writing on right now? Apart from the obvious (this text, ha) I am working on several projects. My blogs are just two of them. Though when it comes to the novels I'm writing on, well I have got more than just one on the boil so to speak. One of them is my current venture. More about that next week. Read ya then!
December 26, 2010
What can I say? I'm a perfectionist at heart, always have been it seems, and spontaneity still isn't my middle name these days, but I'm improving. Anyway. Thinking back now, I even remember the exact moment, when I made that decision. I was on the backseat of my parents car, half-way between my hometown and our weekend residency aka summer home, and I always used this one-hour-drive to let my mind wander. I could have read a book just the same, but as much as I loved to read, I also got sick doing so in a car, so it was me and my vivid imagination and one fine day the decision that, at the age of fourteen, I was too young to start writing down those worlds I created.
The age of sixteen isn't exactly as mature as I wanted to believe as a child. I had to sigh and roll my eyes a lot when I started rereading what I had written as a teenager, but I could also see how my writing had evolved over the years. And all the junk I jotted down, was just a stepping stone to the writer and the person I am today.
You might wonder, was it worth the wait? Would it have made a difference at all if I had started to just grab some paper and start writing when the first idea struck me? I guess we'll never know, but I like to believe that all those stories came (and still come) to me, because I showed my respect to them by my choice of waiting. In a sense, I was courting those stories, until they gave themselves to me to be put on paper.
I am the narrator. Their voice. All I have to do is inviting them in and listen.
But it's not only about the story, it's as much about yourself. And even though it's a bit of a struggle sometimes, I now know that those stories have a life of their own, which not only needs to be respected, but must at the same time be reared like a child. A story can't tell itself when you won't allow it to do what it wants sometimes. 'cause sometimes the story knows better than you do.
This is probably something that people, who aren't writers at heart, don't understand and will smirk about. But those who love to write as much as I do, will know exactly what I'm talking about. I hope. Or maybe I'm just strange like that.
December 25, 2010
Some might recall the first book their parents read to them, even though that usually happens before we start reading on our own. And again, my memory is blurred.
And then there is the first book that deeply impressed us, and it doesn't matter whether it's been read to us by our granny or whether we delved in it all by ourselves. It's a book we loved and read over and over again until it almost (or in some cases most definitely) started falling apart. A book that we still treasured in the years that followed, and that, maybe one day, we will give to our own children to share the magic it held for us with them. It's that one book that left its mark!
I don't recall at what age I received it, not even who gave it to me, but I sure remember how I loved to read it. Again, again and again! I wouldn't grow tired of it and while I generally loved to read, I usually never read a book more than once, unless it really enchanted me. Looking back now I realize how the world, that this book presented to me, influenced my life. I'm not talking about the act of reading itself, which I still love more than ever, I'm referring to the world the book contained and which spilled its magic right into my heart.
So, there we have a book about a brother and sister traveling around the world on a flying carpet, visiting every country on their journey. And here we have a girl that loves to travel and ended up studying Ethnology later in her life. That girl would be me!
December 24, 2010
In a way, some books are like far too many movies today, filled with sex scenes that do little for the story, but are obviously seen as essential to lure in the viewer or reader. And lure in, they do. Sometimes they deserve the attention they create. Often they don't.
Alright, time to fess up. First, let it be said, that in the end it's obviously about your personal reading preferences. Certain romance novels wouldn't sell if people weren't interested in reading them. Some people devour them, but I'm not one of them. Frankly, the idea of heaving bosoms and a velvet covered manhood makes me shiver. But not in a good way. Some authors will choose words that'll make you chuckle, because it's just too funny – and at the same time as far away from sexy as possible – while others will make your eyes pop out, because they are bordering on hard-core porn.
I'm not being judgmental here. To each their own.
Both as a reader and a writer, I feel that less is more. I'm not a prude, yet sometimes enough is enough and my mind ventures not to twisting between the sheets, but to the inevitable question of how some authors come up with such ludicrous descriptions.
I've read books that managed to majorly turn me on without anyone ever “openly” having sex in it. That tells you a lot about a writer's skills, if you ask me. The magic lies in letting the reader know what's going on, without the need to spell it out precisely. Believe me, a scene is a whole lot sexier if you can't see it all. So to speak.
But enough about reading. What about writing? You could say, I'm keeping a low profile when it comes to writing sex scenes. They do occur though. Yet, no heaving bosoms, ripping bodices and, God forbid, throbbing anythings. Yes, I'm keeping it brief. And certainly I'm not getting graphic. I just don't feel the need for it. You may argue that it's the writer's job to get a scene on paper. I agree. I say, it's the reader's job to use their imagination. It makes for better reading. Trust me.
But let's get back to those red cheeks I mentioned in the beginning. While the reader can anonymously hide behind a fat tome or a thick pore shrinking mask, preferably of green color, the writer can't. On the contrary, while the reader may find a love scene anything from touching to revolting, the writer already sealed his or her fate by having their name on the cover of the book. People will know what's going on in your dirty little mind. Oh yes.
And when the deed – of letting your characters do the deed – is done, the next step is to present it to an audience. In most cases an author will have a selected few who enjoy the honor or horror (it really depends) of reading it. If you, as the one who brought those words to paper, feel uncomfortable letting others read it, you've got a problem. The problem isn't the reader though. It's the text.
Able to read it out loudly and feeling the spark of passion? Great.
Feeling like a complete idiot? Not so good.
A fool-proof method, at least for me, is this: when you're feeling ok with your Mom and your best friend reading it, everything will be just fine.
December 23, 2010
Knowledge is limited.
Imagination encircles the world."
Used with permission from Alex Noriega at Stuff No One Told Me
December 22, 2010
Curious about which famous author you write like?
Well, I certainly was!
I must admit I was a wee bit scared that the outcome might be just plain silly, ridiculous and nothing even remotely like me, which is in fact pretty silly and ridiculous itself, seeing as a computer programm is analyzing your words. Anyway, I wanted an answer and I got one.
Actually, that's not too bad! Of course I have no idea which authors made it into the pool of choices available in this programm. But as far as the "classics" go, I am not disappointed. That emotion would have set in if the outcome had been something along the lines of Stephanie Meyer. I would have vowed to never touch a pen again. Or maybe I would have sued the creator of the programm. Yep, that's more like me!
Last, but not least:
Edgar Allan Poe (January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849) was an American writer, poet, editor and literary critic, considered part of the American Romantic Movement. Best known for his tales of mystery and the macabre, Poe was one of the earliest American practitioners of the short story and is considered the inventor of the detective-fiction genre. He is further credited with contributing to the emerging genre of science fiction. He was the first well-known American writer to try to earn a living through writing alone, resulting in a financially difficult life and career.
Here's to one of my favorite authors.
If anyone's writing style left a mark on my own writing it's probably his.
If only just a little bit.
He sure has a way with words.
And so do I.
I might not throw in Golden Retrievers in every other novel, then again, there is one in my first book, so I better shut up.
"A body of work, therefore, reveals the intellectual and emotional progress of the writer, and is a map of his soul. It's both terrifying and liberating to consider this aspect of being a novelist." Dean Koontz
His first novel was “Starquest”, which was published in 1968. About a dozen science-fiction novels followed before he entered the mainstream with suspense and horror fiction.
My first novel is “Josephine”, which will be published this month. About a dozen novels, not necessarily (though very likely) science-fiction will follow before I enter the mainstream …
"But once an idea for a novel seizes a writer … well, it’s like an inner fire that at first warms you and makes you feel good but then begins to eat you alive, burn you up from within. You can’t just walk away from the fire; it keeps burning. The only way to put it out is to write the book." Dean Koontz (Lightning)
Are you raising an eyebrow?
Don't you know that everything you can imagine is real?
Or was that, if you can imagine it, you can achieve it?
I'll take both.
"If God is an author and the universe is the biggest novel ever written, I may feel as if I'm the lead character in the story, but like every man and woman on Earth, I am a supporting player in one of billions of subplots. You know what happens to supporting players. Too often they are killed off in chapter 3, or in chapter 10, or in chapter 35. A supporting player always has to be looking over his shoulder." Dean Koontz (Life Expectancy)
This isn't a matter of boredom or the need for a certain order to things. Well, maybe partly. Bottom line has always been that I like to see my books not only physically, but also in a handy little overview. The latter is especially helpful, because due to the sheer number of books I own, I need to arrange them in two rows on shelves or simply keep them in boxes. So a list helps avoiding buying a book twice. Stuff like that can easily happen, maybe not with my fave authors, but it's happened more than just once or twice that I saw a book and somehow it seemed familiar, but I just wasn't sure whether I might have read it ten years ago (and it was now buried in a box in the back corner) or whether I had sometime ago made a mental note that in case I came across this one on a sale I had to have it. It's either working on my memory OR finding the ultimate method of listing.
Having found the website LibraryThing purly by coincidence I immediately knew I'd found the Holy Grail of all book lists. You can add books from 690 sources worldwide, so basically you will find pretty much every book that's out there. Various editions. Different covers. The works.
I started to go through all my pathetic out dated little lists with their typing errors and let myself fall into the wonderful world of my very own virtual library. And let's not forget the wishlist.
I must admit, after frantically putting one book after the other on my list, I was shocked of suddenly being confronted by the info that the free account only allows an upload of 200 books. Seriously. No book lover will have just 200 books on their shelves. That's basically the tip of the iceberg. I didn't quite dare to read what an upgrade of my account would cost, but the pull of this wonderful site was stronger. 10 bucks a year. Hmmm ... and then I saw that you can in fact choose how much you want to pay. Call me Scrooge, but I went for the "your books are facing eviction" option of $ 1,- ... if this website holds up to my standards I'll reconsider how much I'll pay for a renewal. For the time being I can afford to spend a buck.
Oh and a wonderful little bonus must be that you can sign up for Early Reviewers and request books. Obviously there will be lots of people requesting and not every book will be available in every country, but I think it's a great idea nonetheless. Writing book reviews for Buchrezension, which is the homepage of a friend of mine (come to think of it, I'm a wee bit behind with my reviews - distracted with my list and the heat, I guess), I'm no stranger to letting my opinion of books be heard. Sorry. Be read.
And if you'll excuse me now. There's a list waiting for me to be continued.
December 21, 2010
That and a tree full of little hardcover books growing on it ...
... and hitting me on the head come fall.
Used with permission from Debbie Ridpath Ohi at InkyGirl.com
December 20, 2010
Erase and rewind
'cause I've been changing my mind
In short: I hate it.
Not so much rereading something for the 137th time to make sure there are no logical errors - after all the mother should keep her green eyes and not change their color through the chapters, though in case she decides to wear colored lenses that'd be fine, but that's not my point here. Anyway. My stories need to be consistent and I'd rather check on certain facts once too often than having an obvious error that'd make all nitpickers scream out in delight. The whole thing is further complicated by the fact that sometimes I change bits here and there and need to go way back in the story to align every tiny little word or line or paragraph that refers to the change I needed to make. Still, no complaint from my side, because when I decide some details must be slightly modified (or axed) it's done for a reason. And I'd never argue with myself about my reasons. It's enough to constantly quarrel with the characters I created. Anyway (again).
What it all boils down to is my own little Achilles' heel.
I've never been too good with punctuation and orthography. This might be shocking, I know. I think I rarely make mistakes, but that's because I look up things. A lot. I'm pleading mitigation here. German is not the easiest language that will ever come your way. Not even if it's your mother tongue.
Oh and let's not forget the German spelling reform several years back. That certainly didn't help much either. On the contrary. At first people were allowed to use both the old and the new rules and obviously I decided to stick to the old ones. I even wrote my thesis using the old rules. But now. Well, it's all about progress, isn't it?
And now consider this: I always had a bit of a hard time with questions like "Do I have to put a comma here?" and "Do I have to write this in one word or two?" and "Does this word come with a capital letter?" and now all of a sudden a whole lot of these questions lead to a whole lot of different answers. This reform should have come with a warning label!
Old habits have proven to be helpful for me though. I look things up. A lot. I usually won't do that while writing something, because the act of telling a story is something I don't like to get mixed up with the horrors of proof-reading. But at the end there's no way around it. I just wish it were easier and that I wouldn't feel like a comma could go anywhere after revising several pages. Seriously, after a certain amount of time (and pages) I couldn't tell you whether a comma is in the right or the wrong place. Not even if my life depended on it. In fact, now that I think about this, maybe it is some kind of safety feature of my mind. It shuts down before my head explodes. The most obvious warning sign is hearing the tune of the "Erase and Rewind" song in the back of my mind. The louder it gets, the closer I am to imminent brain freeze. Not the one that involves eating ice-cream, but the one where you need to reboot your harddisk.
That said I shall now face the inevitable. Do the unspeakable. I will erase and revise.
I have always loved to read. Just wanted to get this straight, before I get to the matter at hand. The matter of how schools seem to have the goal of making children hate reading. Yes. Hate.
I don't know about you, but I remember how we had to read the most boring books that have ever been written. And the reason we had to read them, was because someone decided they would be classical, or in some cases not so classical, literature that usually already made you choke after the first page. In some unfortunate instances already the first paragraph made you want to run for dear life.
So, as much as I loved to read in those days, I hated the books we had to read for class. I remember that we had to read a lot, even though I couldn't give you exact numbers now, and there were only two, yes two, books that I actually liked. If you keep in mind that I'm talking about eight years of high school, this tells you a lot. I'm sure other students didn't feel that much different.
Not sure why, but it was a wee bit better in English class. Maybe because we didn't have to read as many books there, I honestly cannot tell. What it all boils down to, be it German or English class, was that we were not only forced to read all those books, we were analyzing them to death too. Sometimes dwelling on one f...ing paragraph for a whole 50 minutes. And, you may have already guessed – this made me seriously consider making a little bonfire with certain books.
Looking back now it comes as no big surprise that I never attempted to read another book by any of the authors that passed my way in those school days. I remember when I registered at university there was this girl in front of me and the guy behind the counter made a comment about her last name. A name of an author I probably came to hate the most (had to read two of his books, not just one, which would have been bad enough) and she said that he'd be her uncle. I nearly strangled her from behind. No kidding. I had been so traumatized that I could have killed an innocent bystander. Yet I think, considering the trauma of all those books they made me read, I could probably have gotten away with it. A good lawyer might have helped to.
Just a week ago or so, I read that said author – which for his own safety and my own sanity shall not be mentioned here – just published another book. People are thrilled. I'm not. Don't get me wrong, it's great for him that there actually are people out there who like his books and are eagerly waiting for new ones. Tastes are different after all. And I'm just making a wild guess here, but those readers have probably never been forced to read his books at school. So maybe you need to be of a certain age to “get them” or it's enough not being forced to read them, but doing so voluntarily. Who knows?
Quite a number of years have passed since I've been to school and I do wonder whether they still force the exact same ol' books down those poor students throats. Probably. And I'm praying that they won't take these horrible experience as a reason for not touching any books when their school days are finally over.
Trying to find out a bit more about how many books the average person reads, I found some numbers:
Roughly 75% of Europeans only read 8 books a year. Eight. That is awful.
The average amount of books read by Germans is 10 a year. Only 5% of the population read more than 20 books a year; 10% read between 10 and 20 books; and 85% will read less than 10 books. That's equally sad.
The worst statistic I came across was this – one in four Americans will have read no book at all the previous year. That leaves me just utterly speechless.
Of course statistics can't always be trusted, but I've heard this in similar variations before.
Obviously I'm not counting the number of books I read per year, but I estimate it to be around 50. Sometimes I will read up to three books a week, then I won't touch one for a month, because I spend too much time on writing during that time. It fluctuates, but about one book a week is pretty much on spot.
And yes, I really do wonder if there's ever going to be a survey dealing with the correlation between hating reading in school and subsequent avoidance of books. I bet there really might be one.
December 19, 2010
There is often quite a difference in the approach of American authors, and those from other countries, when it comes to critical works on US politics. With this in mind I started reading Andrew Napolitano's book Lies The Government Told You and was hooked from the first page.
Well researched and comprehensibly written, he leads through 17 chapters each dealing with different aspects of how the US government has been bending, often even breaking, the laws it should abide to. Taking the reader from the Declaration of Independence straight into the present, it will be shocking for both American and international readers, to see that far too often certain words, even laws, aren't worth the paper they've been written on. The author knows what he's talking about, and he's not afraid to voice it, despite the fact that the government itself can't be amused about his assessments.
While I found the chapters "All men are created equal", "Every vote counts" and "America has a free market" the most compelling, I also appreciated learning more about other areas of personal and economic freedom. While I personally don't agree with everything Napolitano writes (Europeans simply have a different approach to carrying weapons), he undoubtedly did a fantastic job with this book.
In short: A highly informative book for everyone who dares to question the truths the government offers, but also for those who simply want to dip into US history!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com
What did I read, what did I buy, and most of all, when will the time arrive that it's too dangerous to go near those towering stacks of unread books. Just risking a glance to my right … do I really dare to admit just how many unread books I own? Well, maybe not now, but soon enough!
And if you thought this would be all The Book Garden will have to offer from now on, you're wrong!
Due to the holidays next week I will use that time to bring a Best-of-2010 and let you in on which blog posts got the most attention. This will be followed by a special announcement on Monday, December 27th. So, stay tuned!
December 18, 2010
Of course you might wonder what this day will do for the reader? Apart from the lure of possibly maybe wearing pajamas yourself while reading this, of course. Well, I will be going on about this'n'that. Mostly related to everything even remotely bookish. What exactly will be a surprise! So, feel free to sit there in your pajamas - yes, the whole emphasis is on this wonderful garment - and delve into my pages ...
December 17, 2010
But that's not all. Apart from featuring different writers I will also dip into the world of the big screen. In case you're wondering what this might have to do with the premise of the theme, let me draw your attention to movies and series that have a writer as main protoganist.
And in case I should find writers in any other place, rest assured they will eventually find their way into this blog too.
December 16, 2010
You certainly know the saying that a picture says more than a thousand words. Well, I'm not sure whether it will be a thousand, but I'll let you be the judge. See you Thursdays!
December 15, 2010
So let me get out my spy-glasses and do some research ...
December 14, 2010
I guess Tuesday's theme is pretty much self-explanatory, but still, you won't only find ordinary quotes here that day. Dedicated to other writer's works, there will be everything from quotes to poetry and even book citations. And maybe the odd song-text will find a place here too. After all, stories can be told in many ways.
Who's Terri Guillemets, you're asking?
She's an U.S. quotation anthologist and creator of The Quote Garden.
December 13, 2010
Not sure if this blog's for you?
If you love books, whether reading or even writing them, that's the place to be!
Mondays will be filled with musings and ramblings on, you may have already guessed, my life as a writer. I will let you in on what I'm currently working on, the 1000-words-a-day challenge, where I get my ideas from, my preferred place to write, how I got started writing in the first place, the curse of writer's block, my undecipherable scrawl, quirks in finding character's names, and much more.
Read ya then!
December 12, 2010
To get some kind of structure into this, I decided to theme each day of the week. During the next week I'm going to introduce you to these themes one by one, but here's the rundown for those who just can't wait:
A Writer's Life
Beyond the Shelf
So make yourself comfortable in The Book Garden and spread the word, 'cause the more readers the merrier the writer!