The Ultimate Book Tag

cold coffee in glass near typewriter
Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

As we head into the holiday season, it seems like a good time to post something fun. I snagged this from A.M. Molvik’s Ramblings. Feel free to share on your own blog (leave me a comment to let me know if you do). Enjoy…

1.Do you get sick while reading in the car?

Unfortunately, yes. I can’t even look at a text on my phone without feeling queasy. It doesn’t help with reading, but I do recommend ginger for the nausea, if you’re also prone to car sickness.

2.Which author’s writing style is completely unique to you?

James Joyce. I can’t think of another author like him.

3.Harry Potter series or the Twilight Saga? Give 3 points to defend your answer.

This is a bizarre question, like asking someone to choose between ice cream or a painting of Elvis on black velvet. Are the two even related?

I’m going with Harry Potter, but since HP needs no defending, here are 3 reasons why everyone should forget about Twilight already:

1. It was written by someone who doesn’t like vampires and has no interest in them, other than the ones she writes about. Never read a book by someone who has no respect for the subject.

2. It presents stalking and abuse as “romance.”

3. It’s not so much a story, as propaganda for the author’s religious and moral beliefs. Do yourself a favour and read something else.

4.Do you carry a book bag? If so, what is in it (besides books…)?

If I bring a book along, I usually just hold it (unless it’s small enough to fit in my purse). If I do bring a larger bag to accommodate a book, I’ll also usually put my purse in there (easier than picking out just the stuff I need), maybe a bottle of water, my hairbrush, a camera–whatever I think I’ll need while I’m out.

5.Do you smell your books?

Not really; I think I’m immune to book smell.

6.Books with or without little illustrations?

Illustrations are always fun, but not necessary.

7.What book did you love while reading but discovered later it wasn’t quality writing?

A lot of books I read as a kid. I’ve recently re-read some of them and have been  disappointed (Gordon Korman, I’m looking at you).

8.Do you have any funny stories involving books from your childhood? Please share!

I’m not sure how funny this is, but growing up, I didn’t have a lot of access to books at home other than the Encyclopedia Britannica (yes, I’m that old), Greek history books, and a few of my older sister’s novels. So one of the books I would read (more than once) was the Donny Osmond Mystery (Donny Disappears!)

donny disappears

The really funny part might be that I still have it.

9.What is the thinnest book on your shelf?

A Dover Edition of Daisy Miller by Henry James (Dover Editions all tend to be slim).

10.What is the thickest book on your shelf?

A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth.

11.Do you write as well as read? Do you see yourself in the future as being an author?

I’m currently published. Find out more about my dark fantasy novel, Love Lies Bleeding, and my free ebook, Blood Magic, here.

12.When did you get into reading?

I’ve loved reading and books longer than I can remember. When I started kindergarten, my first question to the teacher was when were we going to the library. The kindergartners normally didn’t use the school library, but I was so excited to see the books that they ended up making special arrangements for my class.

13. What is your favorite classic book?

Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky.

14. In school what was your best subject?

English. I basically took every English class my high school offered, and then majored in English Lit in Uni.

15.If you were given a book as a present that you had read before and hated…what would you do?

I might try reading it again, but if I really hated it I’d probably just keep it on my shelf as a reminder of the person who gave it to me.

16.What is a lesser known series that you know of that is similar to Harry Potter or The Hunger Games?

I think it’s great when people branch out and read new things instead of different variations on a favourite theme. That being said, I do recommend the (non-YA) Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews. It has magic, a dystopian future, shifters, witches, vampires, and a kick-ass female main character.

17.What is your favourite word?

Meander. I love both the rhythm of it and the meaning. Susurrate is also a good one.

18.Are you a nerd, dork, or dweeb? Or all of the above?

Who doesn’t love applying labels to themselves? Just call me a neo-maxi-zoom-dweebie.

19.Vampires or Fairies? Why?

Vampires, always. I like fairies, but fangs beat wings.

20. Shapeshifters or Angels? Why?

Shapeshifters interest me more. Angels can be okay if done right.

21.Spirits or Werewolves? Why?

Werewolves. Spirits are fine as minor characters, but as a main they’d be unsatisfying to read about and impossible to relate to.

22.Love Triangle or Forbidden Love?

Forbidden love, I guess. Love triangles always make me question why they don’t just try a poly relationship.

23.AND FINALLY: Full on romance books or action-packed with a few love scenes mixed in?

Action packed, tyvm. I probably shouldn’t admit this publicly, but I find Jane Austen-style romances tedious. Maybe it’s the lack of Osmond brothers 😉

Anything to add? Let me know in the comments…

 

10 Stunning Writers’ Homes

I love old houses (old buildings in general, actually). While I can appreciate the practical benefits of a new house, they leave me, well, bored. Old houses have style. They have personality. They have soul. Throw in a resident writer and you’ve got a house worth living in (or at least visiting). Here are 10 writers’ houses that are worth checking out…

WH Thomas Hardy

Higher Bockhampton, Dorset, England: The cottage where Thomas Hardy was born. I love the thatched roof and garden.

WH Agatha Christie

Galmpton, Devon, England: Greenway Estate, home to Agatha Christie, was designated a World Heritage Site in 2004. Christie set several of her novels in the area.

WH Eugene Oneill

Danville, California, USA: Eugene O’Neill wrote The Iceman Cometh and Long Day’s Journey Into Night at Tao House.

WH Virginia Woolf

Rodmell, East Sussex, England: Not only is Monk’s House where Virginia Woolf worked on Mrs. Dalloway, it was also where she hosted the Bloomsbury Group.

WH Emily Dickinson

Amherst, Massachusetts, USA: With a house like this, I can understand why Emily Dickinson was a recluse. The poet didn’t spend her entire life at the Homestead, but she was born here, and after moving back as a young woman spent the rest of her life here.

WH Alphonse Daudet

Draveil (former village of Champrosay), France: Can I just go ahead and move into Alphonse Daudet’s home, located a few kilometres south of Paris? Daudet finished Letters from My Windmill here, and also held famous weekly gatherings of the luminaries of the French arts scene (Zola, Proust & Rodin were among the regulars).

WH George Sand

Nohant, Indre, France: More gorgeous French style at George Sand’s home. Sand wrote many of her books here, as well as hosting artists, musicians, and writers (Frédéric Chopin lived, and composed, here for several years). The house has been classified as a National Historic Monument of France.

WH Mark Twain

Hartford, Connecticut, USA: Mark Twain wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in this house’s billiards room, which also doubled as his study.

WH Edith Wharton

Lenox, Massachusetts, USA: Edith Wharton’s grand home, The Mount, was where she wrote most of her novels, and where she presumably implemented the advice from her first book (co-authored with Ogden Codman), The Decoration of Houses. 

WH Louisa May Alcott

Concord, Massachusetts, USA: Orchard House, where Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Women.

What’s your favourite writer’s home? Share in the comments…

Further Reading:

Orchard House

The Mount

The Mark Twain House and Museum

George Sand House

Alphonse Daudet House

Emily Dickinson Museum

Monk’s House

Eugene O’Neill National Historic Site

Thomas Hardy Cottage

Architectural Digest

KQED Arts

New England Historical Society

Air France

Boston Globe

Writers and Cats

black cat holding persons arm
Photo by Ruca Souza on Pexels.com

Writers are known to have an affinity for cats, so much so that books have been written on the topic (the latest is Writers and their Cats by Alison Nastasi). As a cat lover, I get the appeal. Cats are good company, generally unobtrusive, frequently entertaining, and the perfect distraction when you need a few minutes away from the keyboard. If you’re lucky enough to have a lap cat, they’ll make sure you get work done by helpfully pinning you in place for hours (and they keep you warm too). My home would feel pretty sad and empty without my three furbabies.

Cats can also provide literary inspiration, especially to poets. T.S. Eliot wrote an entire book about them. Jorge Luis Borges wrote these words:

Mirrors are not more silent
nor the creeping dawn more secretive;
in the moonlight, you are that panther
we catch sight of from afar.
By the inexplicable workings of a divine law,
we look for you in vain;
More remote, even, than the Ganges or the setting sun,
yours is the solitude, yours the secret.
Your haunch allows the lingering
caress of my hand. You have accepted,
since that long forgotten past,
the love of the distrustful hand.
You belong to another time. You are lord
of a place bounded like a dream.

-“To a Cat” by Jorge Luis Borges

It seems that what the ancient Egyptians started, writers are happy to carry on. I know I am.

Alice-Walker cats
Alice Walker
s king cats
Stephen King
ann m martin cats
Ann M. Martin
hemingway cats
Ernest Hemingway
colette cats
Colette
n gaiman cats
Neil Gaiman
le guin cats
Ursula K. Le Guin
murakani cats
Haruki Murakani

Do you have cats? Tell me about them in the comments. Tell me about your other pets too!

Read More:

7 Famous Writers and Their Cats

Iconic Writers and Their Cats

10 Writers and Their Cats

Famous Writers and Their Cats

16 Famous Writers and Their Cats

The 4 Responsibilities of Writers…Maybe

phillip pullman

Phillip Pullman, author of His Dark Materials, recently wrote an essay on the responsibilities of writers (the essay appears in his new collection Daemon Voices). Four of these key responsibilities were summed up and illustrated by Nathan Gelgud, and after reading them, well, I’m not so sure I agree. Here’s the list:

  1. Make money.
  2. Protect language.
  3. Have tact.
  4. Service the story.

On the surface these seem more or less reasonable, but when Pullman expands on each point I start to take some issue.

Make Money: Pullman states that we [writers] have the responsibility of “doing it as well and as profitably as we can.”

Yes and no. Of course writers should be compensated for their work–because it is work. It’s a little shocking how often writers, who spend many lonely hours creating even the shortest pieces, are expected to give their work away for nothing. And now there’s a whole slew of indie writers who routinely give away their first novels free, hoping to hook readers with cliffhanger endings and sell them the next installment in the series. These authors are selfishly making it harder for the rest of us to earn a living by devaluing all our work in the eyes of readers. But successful authors like Pullman are speaking from a rather lofty position when they announce that writers have a “responsibility” to be as profitable as possible. Easy to say for a lucky few.

Profit also shouldn’t be a writer’s main priority: that should be the writing. Making money is good and necessary (yes, those of us in the arts have as much right to earn a comfortable living as anyone else), but it shouldn’t come at the expense of the art.

Protect Language: At first this one sounds okay–until you delve into it a little more. Pullman states that those of us who use language professionally “are responsible for looking after it.” Looking after it how? Protecting it from what? Should we fight the inevitable changes that all languages undergo? Should my characters speak in stilted dialogue so that the language isn’t sullied by the more relaxed slang that most people use in casual conversation? And what language should we be preserving, exactly? Language as presented in textbooks? The language of the majority that’s spoken right now, or the language spoken twenty years ago? Fifty? A hundred? I agree–some “innovations” in language are beyond annoying (using “gift” as a verb springs immediately to mind), but language is a living, breathing, evolving thing. It’s preserved by being used, no matter how or by whom. The only truly protected language is a dead one. Maybe Pullman wants us all to write in Latin.

Have Tact: On this responsibility, Pullman explains, “We who tell stories should be modest about the job, and not assume that just because the reader is interested in the story, they’re interested in who’s telling it. A storyteller should be invisible…”

As an introvert I would love to be invisible. But since when have writers not named Anonymous ever been invisible? We’re expected to provide pictures and bios, to give interviews, go to events, interact with readers. I won’t even get started on social media. From what I’ve experienced, readers want us to share, not just about our books, but about ourselves. Still, anyone not interested can feel free to tell me to shut up. I will happily oblige.

Service the Story: I thought this would be the one responsibility I fully agreed with–until I read Pullman’s description. He says that as a “good servant,” he has to keep regular hours, stay sober, and stay in good health. Not what I was expecting. It’s great if doing these things helps Pullman write the best possible story he can, but that doesn’t work for everyone–and why should it? Those in poor health can still write, and even write brilliantly. I’m not suggesting anyone crack open a bottle of Merlot before hitting the keyboard, but writing under the (slight) influence can stimulate creativity. Service the story your own way.

Responsibility is a heavy word, and I think Phillip Pullman may have taken it too lightly. Writing is difficult enough without feeling obligated to burden oneself with someone else’s ideas of what’s necessary. What writers are responsible for is to write, to get their words out, and to do it whatever way works for them. As someone wise once said: do you, boo. Do you.

What do you think? Do you agree with Phillip Pullman? Share in the comments…

You can see the original article with Pullman’s quotes here.

Eden Mills Writers’ Festival

eden mills

This weekend is the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival! Brad Middleton, author of Un-Dead TV will be joining me there on Sunday the 9th to sign copies of our books (if you haven’t picked up Love Lies Bleeding yet, this is the perfect time). The Festival (located just outside of Guelph, ON) is a great place to meet authors and find your new favourite read–hope to see you there…

More info: http://edenmillswritersfestival.ca/