T is for Title Changes

Some books have one title in US and another title in the UK. Wikipedia has a whole list.

I don’t know why that is or even if it makes much difference. The books are the same, aren’t they? Just with British spelling and grammar. 

But, aside from that, does it really make a difference in sales or first impressions of the book?

  • Outlander by Diana Gabaldon is Cross Stitch in England.
  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in the US.
  • His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik is Temeraire in England.
  • The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett is The Painted Man in England. (I thought they were different books at first!)

Do the title changes make any difference to the book? It’s hard to imagine.

S is for Skimming

I skim books. Yes, yes, I do. I feel guilty for it. I would stop if I could.

Three ways I skim:

How To Skim A Book

1) I usually skim over the ending.

This is when I need to know my favorite character is alright at the end, so I can live through their trials with them with no worries for how it will end. Sometimes it is not reassuring; the character ends in a bad place and I must read through the trials knowing there will be no happy ending. So depressing.

2) Sometimes I skim through the middle.

This is when I want to know if the book will get more exciting later on or if I am looking for my favorite point of view character – damn you, POV changes! – and I cannot stand to read about any other character.

3) Occasionally I skim through the whole book.

This is when the book is so boring I can’t force myself to actually read it, but am still marginally interested in the story and call it done. It is slightly better than not finishing at all. I did this quite frequently in school and never suffered for it. ;)

Do you skim through books a lot?

 

R is for Reasons I Read

I love reading books. This blog is one result of that.

Sometimes people ask why, like it’s some weird thing. Usually the only answer I have is: I like it.

But I thought I would list some slightly more detailed reasons.

1. It’s fun.
2. The world draws me in and I don’t want to leave.
3. I love the characters.
4. The subject matter is fascinating.
5. It’s relaxing.
6. Makes me happy.

Okay, so most of these boil down to: I like it. I guess I don’t really have a better reason and I am not sure I need one. I just wish more people shared it.

I know a lot of people list more noble reasons to read:

* Learn something about the world and yourself
* Become more empathic
* Increase your vocabulary
* Become more imaginative
* Sharpens the mind

While these are all no doubt true, if I didn’t enjoy it so much, I wouldn’t spend so many hours reading.

I suspect the people who don’t read just don’t enjoy it. And telling them it’s good for them isn’t enough motivation to make them want to read a story. (Personally I think it’s just because they haven’t found the right story.)

Do you enjoy reading? And if so, why?

Best Reads of 2013

I have not kept track of the books I read this year. My Books I’ve Read page is empty for this year. That doesn’t mean I have not read anything – far from it. I just didn’t record any of them. I am also not sure I even remember most of them.

I have to figure – if I can’t remember a book, than it probably doesn’t belong on the Best Reads of 2013 list. No, the hard part about not writing the list down is that sometimes I am not sure if I read a book this year or last year, i. e. this past January or last December.

Up until today, I wasn’t sure I wanted to write a Best Reads of 2013 list. Than I saw John‘s list and I am sure now. I will do it, list or no list.

I only listed five books. I think this list could have been bigger, if only I’d gotten around to reading some of the books I meant to read: Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson, Andromeda’s Choice by William C. Dietz, Shadows by Robin McKinley, The Human Division by John Scalzi, Sword-Bound by Jennifer Roberson, and many, many more.

1) River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay. I wrote a blog post about it. All I have to say is, this is hands-down, one of the best fantasy books I’ve read this year. One of the best!!!!!! The ending left me disappointed, but it makes sense in the story, and there truly aren’t many other ways it could have ended. It’s hard to beat.

2) Drown by Junot Diaz. This is one the few non-fantasy/non-science fiction books I’ve read this year. It is a collection of stories, mostly connected, but some not. The title story, Drown, is very intense. This one did it for me. It packs a wallop in few words. The whole collection is very strong, and showed me in ways I’d not seen before, the power of a short story. I even used this book for a teaser Tuesday.

3) Written in Red by Anne Bishop. I am a big fan of Anne Bishop, and when she came out with a new urban fantasy, of course I had to read it. She did urban fantasy her own, in her own style. So the usual is that humans are in charge and others (werewolves, vampires, fae, whatever) are trying to make a place for themselves. Here it is the other way. The others are in charge and humans are trying to make a place for themselves. It’s not as horror-like as it sounds, though it could have gone that way.

4) Touch & Geaux by Abigail Roux. This is the latest in a funny, high-action romance. Ty and Zane are in New Orleans, where Zane learns some deep dark secrets and almost breaks up with Ty. He also almost asks Ty to marry him. But then Ty is recalled back into the armed forces! Ty goes, but not before outing them both at work. I’ve read that scene over and over and over. In fact, I’ve managed a couple of rereads of the whole book, it was so good.

5) The Wars of the Roses by Alison Weir. This is one of the few non-fiction I read this year. I feel like I actually understand the War of the Roses now. It was clear, concise and interesting. Okay, so it is actually the first book I ever read on the War of the Roses, just articles and bits and pieces about it in other books. Even so. It’s a good book. I learned a lot.

Teaser Tuesday: Drown


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their 
TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teaser:

She called Papi a desgraciado and a puto of the highest order for abandoning them, a traitor worm, an eater of public lice, a cockless, ball-less cabron. He showed Jo-Jo the letters, often at drunken bitter moments, and Jo-Jo would shake his head, waving for two more beers.

- Drown by Junot Diaz.

Teaser Tuesday: Legacies

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their  TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser:

Alucius turned the gray . . . when an enormous fist struck him in the back of the shoulder. For an instant, he could feel himself toppling forward before silver-tinged blackness – and a green radiance – swept up over him and swallowed everything.

- Legacies (Corean Chronicles. book 01) by L. E. Modesitt.

This is from the book I blogged about yesterday.

On Understanding Why I Stop Reading

I am reading Legacies (Corean Chronicles #1) by L.E. Modesitt Jr right now. I have tried reading it about four times now. I am maybe a hundred pages in. I feel like this time I will finish successfully. It could still take a while.

I have finally figured out one of the reasons why I keep stopping. I don’t believe in the romance between the main character and the girl. Maybe it will change as the book moves forward (though I got doubts!) but the love interest character is not convincing. She’s so minor she hardly counts as a character! That, for the love interest, is not right.

The character I like most right now is not the main character, but his grandfather. That’s not right, either. Something is wrong with these characters; I just don’t know what.

I love the world. The world is why I am keep going back to it.  All the creatures, the magic, the odd sheep. I just wish the characters were better. :(

Banned Books 2013

Banned books week of 2013 started September 22 and ended September 28. I am posting this a week late. I am very ashamed. But better late than never!

This list comes from the American Library Association website. Last year the top ten challenged books are:

  1. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey.
    Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group
  2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie.
    Reasons: Offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
  3. Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher.
    Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited for age group
  4. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James.
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit
  5. And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson.
    Reasons: Homosexuality, unsuited for age group
  6. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini.
    Reasons: Homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
  7. Looking for Alaska, by John Green.
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
  8. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
    Reasons: Unsuited for age group, violence
  9. The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit
  10. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
    Reasons: Sexually explicit, religious viewpoint, violence

I think only The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian was on last year’s list, too. Last year, it was number five on the list and this year it is number two. It moved up three spots. That’s quite an accomplishment!

The others are all newly challenged! Well, challenged enough to make this year list. I’ve never read any of these stories, so I can’t comment.

I will note 7 out of ten books were challenged because they are sexually explicit. 6 out of 10 books have been challenged because they are “unsuited for age group”. 6 out of 10 were challenged because of “offensive language”.

Also, I never imagined The Kite Runner has homosexuality in it.

I am not surprised someone challenged Fifty Shades of Grey. It was published in 2011 and right at the moment it’s the fourth most challenged book. Maybe next year it will number one. Maybe the other books in the series will make the top ten challenged books, too. It could happen.

Dare I call myself an Indian Speculative Fiction writer?

This article in Strange Horizons talks about Indian SF. It asks what Indian spec-fic is and what elements define it.

It strikes home, because I am Indian and I write fantasy. Yet I don’t know if that makes me an Indian speculative fiction writer.

Nine Indian writers try to answer this question. Some of them say Indian spec-fic is spec-fic that’s written by an Indian.

A lot of them talk about what it means. Do you have to be Indian? Do you have to live in India? Does it have to be published in India? Does it have to be set in India or inspired by India in some fashion? What if you are non-Indian living in India?

A lot of them couldn’t really say what elements make a particular work Indian spec-fic. Probably because there is so little of it, you can’t point to any single element and say: this makes it Indian spec-fic.

As for me, I am Indian. But I left India so young I remember hardly anything. Visits are infrequent. So I will likely never be published there. A few of my stories are inspired by Indian things -  folktales, music, movies – but no one has ever recognized the influence (too diluted, I suppose). But people invariably comment on the creativity of those stories, a lot more than my other stories.

I doubt that’s enough to call myself an Indian spec-fic writer. That’s odd. I’ve puzzled over the oddness for years, ever since I realized I want to write fantasy and there are hardly any Indian fantasy writers on the library shelves. I suspect there might be more SF set in India than there are Indian spec-fic writers. I’ve no words for how weird that makes me feel.

Then there’s the third question posed by the article. How does the audience (western/eastern) affect the style/content of a story? I tend to think of this as part of that are the usual world-building issues – what and how and when to describe something. The other part is using things like existing rituals or clothes or dance and things like that. I usually don’t use stuff like that, because I don’t want to devote the word-count to describe in the detail required to see the thing and doing less would be confusing. Also, because it isn’t important enough to the story to require lots and lots of description.

This last is probably the reason why even the Indian inspired stories don’t come off as Indian. The details that would make people think “Oh, Indian” are not present.

The thing is, if I knew my readers were Indian, I probably would put them in. Just a line or two, probably, as opposed to a paragraph or two.

So . . . I am editing details out. I have mixed feelings about that. It’s why the Strange Horizons article hit me so hard.

I am still not sure if I am right to do so. It finally depends on the needs of the story, yeah. But still. I don’t want to confuse anyone. I don’t want to use a hundred words to describe a minor, almost non-existent event. Especially when the story is less than thousand words long.

Teaser Tuesday: Fantasy in Death

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Grab your current read

Open to a random page

Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teaser:

“Do you think the penis ever gets tired?” As she drove, Eve turned her head toward Peabody, tipped down the shades she rarely remembered to wear. “Whose?”

“Anybody’s. I mean anybody with one. Does the penis ever just think: For God’s sake, pal, give it a rest? Or is it all: Woo-hoo! Here we go again!”

by Fantasy in Death by J.D. Robb