Sunday, December 27, 2015

So Many Books! Which One Do I Start With?

Books.  It's all I ever really ask for during the two major gift giving days every year, and, for the most part, it is all I ever get.  Okay, occasionally there other little things thrown in there, but books are always the main focus.  Ask and thee shall receive -- seems to work.

So, here is the Christmas haul, one that now has me stumped on what to start with.

Note: if you're wondering why no Jack Reacher, that is because my mother gave them all to me for my birthday a few months earlier.

Back to the question: which one do I start with?  Okay, I actually did already read one of the titles, a novella called Debt of Bones by Terry Goodkind.  I love the Sword of Truth series.  In fact, it is my favorite fantasy series of all time.  Next up in that series will be Faith of the Fallen, which I can't wait to read.  It was this desire to continue with the series that led me to read Debt of Bones last night -- it is a one-sitting novella.  Having just opened so many new books, I wanted to be reading something from the new pile rather than something from my shelf, however, all the Terry Goodkind books pictured are all several volumes ahead in the Sword of Truth series.  What was I to do.  Ah-ha, read the novella that is like a prequel to the series.  Perfect!  Going with such logic, I suppose I could also read the First Confessor, but I'm going to actually hold off on that one for now.  It too is a prequel, but one that was written recently and thus, I want to read all the Sword of Truth books that were written and published before it.  I don't know why this is important to me, but it is and I can't argue with it.  That's why Debt of Bones was so perfect.  The novella was actually published right before the next Sword of Truth novel that I am to read.

But now the question has arrived once again; now that I have read Debt of Bones, which title to I pick up next?  I'm leaning toward Michael Connelly since it has been quite some time since Harry Bosch and I have sat in a chair together.  That said, I do love Jo Nesbo's Harry Hole, so I might have to plunge into one of his instead.

Such indecision!  A #firstworldproblem if there ever was one.  Question: does hash tagging in this post do anything, or is that really only something for Twitter? #hashtaggingquestion (just in case).

Then there are all those fantastic science fiction novels just waiting to be explored . . .

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Finishing Touches

That's what I've been doing this past week -- mostly this past weekend.  Finishing touches.  A month ago, I 'finished' the first draft of my Linger novel episode for Braun Haus Media, but didn't send it out.  Doing so would have been a big no, no.  Instead, I put it into a drawer (metaphorically since it really just sat as an icon on my computer -- my NEW computer that my brother gave me for my birthday, boohya!) and waited.  And waited.  And waited.  Now, typically, I would have had another project to work on, but this time I didn't.  This isn't to say I don't have any other ideas for novels, I have several, just that I didn't really feel like starting any of them at the moment.  I've done three of them this year (Crystal Creek, Santa Took Them and Linger), as well as the rewrites and edits for two (Blind Eye and Santa Took Them), all while working a full time job, buying a house and battling the ever-present autoimmune disease, so, I figured, it was okay to take some time off.  Well, not really since my mind never shuts down with the ideas, but I wasn't getting up at four in the morning everyday to complete ten pages before work.  Instead I was getting up at five to putz around on the computer while drinking coffee.  What can I say.

And then the time arrived.  I read the first draft of my Linger novel, tweaked some things that stood out to me and then left it alone for a week, read it again, and thought, Hmm, something isn't quite right . . . which is common for me.

My final drafts rarely look anything like my first drafts -- if I give them the proper time to mature.  Stephen King equated this with bread dough and letting it rise.  I make bread myself, so, let's go with that.  The dough that eventually rises, if the water was the right temp for the yeast and all the proper ingredients were mixed together, will never look anything like what it started out as, and then further shaping into loaves or rolls will change it again.  That's how books are.  Once you have a first draft completed, you can re-read it and see where things need to be added or removed -- especially once you know how it is going to end.  And if during the first half you had no idea who the killer was, then  this reread will allow you to see areas where you can shape things so that it all flows properly to the reveal of that killer.

Now, I think I have figured out what it was that wasn't quite right with the Linger book.  Having fixed that, it is back into the drawer for a while.  The publication date on that is still TBA, so I have time to wait and make sure everything is rising properly (bread dough analogy again).

Cover Reveal: Santa Took Them - Coming Soon in Hardback and Ebook

Friday, November 6, 2015

Utterly Disturbed

It's a rare thing for me to be utterly disturbed, but that is what has happened this morning when doing random bits of general research on the web. General research is what I do when between novels. The little tidbits I pick up get put into the back of my mind where they act like seeds that might one day sprout into something that will work for a short story or novel. There is no conscious tending to this plot of mental landscape where the seeds are allowed to grow. They are left to do their own thing, and if that thing becomes grand, I harvest it. Today, I feel like something grand may be in the works, the seed of disturbing information - coupled with a screenshot I was not expecting to see - having landed in a nice soft patch of soil that has been fertilized by the decaying sprouts of ideas that never got the chance to fully bloom. We shall see what comes of it . . . if I have the stomach to venture near the horrific growth and pluck what I need.

New Arrival: Alfred Hitchcock Presents Stories My Mother Never Told Me

Actually, in my case, I'm guessing my mother not only told me stories like these, but probably ones that were even more intense and disturbing.  What can I say, I had a fantastically terrifying childhood. It was great.  My mother and grandmother were huge horror fans, and would never shy away from sharing stories with me and my brother that would leave us shaken to the core.  One time, my grandmother actually convinced us that the family that had lived in the house before her had been murdered, all the children decapitated, heads missing, the mother found kneeling in the back bedroom with a knife, covered in blood, chanting, "I'm looking for my children."  She then told us that the squirrel nests up in the trees that you could see in the dead of winter were actually the heads of those children, the long continuously growing hair having gotten all tangled up with leaves.  Oh, and naturally the crazy mother had recently escaped from the mental hospital and would likely come looking for her children once again.

For everyone else, however, this title may be accurate because they likely did not come face to face with such stories while growing up, and for me, I simply can't wait to dive into the tales that Hitchcock selected for this volume.  Prior to this, I read Alfred Hitchcock's Noose Report and was blown away by how amazing and terrifying the stories were.  A couple of them actually left me chilled, which doesn't happen too often.  The best of them was the first by Robert Bloch titled "Home Away From Home."  My god, the twist in that was just spectacular.

And now I hope to experience a repeat of those chills as I open up this anthology.  Nothing would please me more than to be sitting in the reading chair downstairs, house darkness broken only by my one reading lamp, a cup of tea sitting by my side, a cold November wind stirring up the October leaves outside, my mind terrified by the words I just read.  Such does not happen often these days, so when it does, it is a moment to be cherished.

Friday, October 30, 2015

This Looks Like a Fun One: Office Party By Michael A. Gilbert

The other day, while thumbing through the main Facebook feed on my phone, I came across this book cover and instantly tried to kill the momentum my thumb-scrolling had generated with the feed.  A few seconds later, image steady on my phone, I typed in the author name and book title into Amazon and hit SEARCH.  Bingo.  One used paperback copy please!  A week later (two days ago to be exact), it was waiting in a tiny tightly wrapped envelope by my door.  I love such moments.  I also love thrillers that take place in locations that are typically filled with people, but nearly empty within the story.  Think books like Dean Koontz's The Bad Place or the movie Die Hard (I read the book of that as well, but didn't really like it).  I'm not sure why, but I always love the idea of being in giant public places after hours.  In fact, I wrote a novel once that featured some people trapped in a mall during a blizzard who were being hunted by a deranged serial killer.  Fun, fun!  They should make that one into a movie (hint! hint!).  My friends and I also once managed to get inside a college library after hours and roamed all the empty floors, an experience that is just begging to be developed into a novel one of these days.

Anyway, I haven't actually read this book, so I can't comment on the story just yet.  However, given how much fun I think (hope) this one will be, I'm going to bump it up to the top of the To Be Read list (sorry, Jack Reacher, Running Blind will have to wait a bit).  Until then . . .

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Next On My Reading List . . . Panic by Helen McCloy

One of the greatest things about the Internet is the ability to find items that no longer populate store shelves.  Prior to the Internet, finding such items was possible, but could be incredibly difficult, especially if you didn't know what you were looking for.  Panic by Helen McCloy is a perfect example of this.  Published in 1944, I had never before heard of this title or this author until stumbling upon a book cover image on the Vintage Paperback and Book Covers Facebook Page.  Intrigued, I went to Amazon and voila, a week later I had an old Dell paperback copy of Panic waiting for me in the mail.  Best of all, it seems Helen McCloy penned quite a few novels, many of them featuring a continuing detective-like character named Dr. Basil Willing, so, if I enjoy this title and the writing style, chances are I will be making even more orders.  Hell, even if I don't quite enjoy this one, which could happen (fingers crossed it doesn't given how fun the cover looks), I will probably still seek out a few more titles, especially ones featuring Dr. Basil Willing.

Have any of you read any of Helen McCloy's work?  If so, what did you think?