Tag Archives: reading

Research: boon or bane? Plus bonus! Blood Lines content & a contest!

Remember those dreaded words: research paper? How everyone in class groaned, kvetched, grumbled and bitched?

Dictionary/notebook Thing is, even though I toed the party line (high school is the bastion of conformity!), when I first discovered/was taught how to do research on a topic, I knew I’d found my holy grail. No. Really. Even now, the thought of researching something has my wee heart all aquiver.

  • Discovering new information? Check.
  • Uncovering data? Check.
  • Learning new things? Check.

Sure, not all research is equal. There’s a world of difference between poring over hundreds of lines of accounting journal entries in a contemporary office setting and reading a sixteenth century ship’s manifest. Though, I will admit, for some, the former makes them salivate. I’m good with that. For me, the latter is both cake AND pie with sprinkles of chocolatey goodness.

Whether researching for a school paper or for a novel or essay, it’s like the best kind of crack; the world’s biggest and most bewitching scavenger hunt. In school, I devoured the “how to”, learning about primary vs. secondary sources, learning to use the card catalog and deciphering the Dewey Decimal System. The library was Mecca in so many ways. Not just as a place for wonderful fiction, but a repository for all this gathered knowledge about us. About people: how the live(d)/work(ed)/play(ed)/exist(ed). How can that not be utterly fascinating? Library shelf

I could lose myself for hours in the stacks as one research source led to another and another and yet another. Piles of musty volumes at my elbow as I uncovered correlations, relationships, cultural and socio-political intrigues.

Therein lies the bane: the absolute addiction of research compounded by the current ease of discovery with the Internet. How on earth am I able to come up for air? Frankly, it’s really, really difficult sometimes. When I’m immersed in reading, for example, about daily life in the Tudor Court, it takes every ounce of willpower I have not to let myself get dragged into sidelines like women’s medicine in sixteenth century England and how that affected fashion. It’s an ongoing puzzle that begs to be put together like a complex Lego design: bricks upon bricks of data, interwoven and creating a pattern of interlocking information that eventually paints a picture of life.

Because that’s what entrances me: the mundane day-to-day cultural and societal aspects of humanity. How we do things. How we get along. How our tribal groups are/were formed. Egads, I’m doing it now! Hijacking my own blog post to wax rhapsodic about my passion. Hee!

The good part is that world-building and character-building allows me to take this addiction and channel it into productivity. You can see why I write. I have to explore all the things. All the ways we (as humans) fit together in social groups and behaviors. It’s a never-ending range of possibilities and I, as a writer, get to explore how ever many of them I want to.

When I construct my characters, my worlds, even in a short story, there’s a lot that my readers never see. Small bits of knowledge that shape who they are, like what toothpaste they use or their reading habits. It’s part of my research lust: I need to create believable people who seem real, whether they are protagonist, antagonist or catalyst…even tertiary characters get this treatment.

It’s not always fully conscious. I’ve not actually sat down and created a character sheet or biography for everyone, but it’s all definitely in the back of my head, humming along as I write. It’s kind of the DVD commentary version of things.

A while back, I created a “20 Things” list based on an internet fandom meme (e.g., tell me 20 things about xxx character(s) that we don’t already know). This list is included in my recent eBook: Collected Works from an Unrepentant Writer and was written sometime around the third series book. I think it’s time to revisit this and show you a glimpse behind-the-scenes as it were. This time, I’ll borrow from the 4 Things About You meme. Instead of focusing on Keira, this time, it will be all about Tucker.

Tucker Kelly’s 4 Things:

Four jobs I’ve had in my life:

  • Marauder
  • Bodyguard
  • Chef
  • Translator

Four places I have lived:

  • London
  • Vancouver
  • Reykjavic
  • Swansea

wine, grapes, bottle

Four places I have been:

  • Giza Necropolis, Egypt
  • Stonehenge
  • Gullfoss Falls, Iceland
  • Hôtel de Glace, Canada

Four of my favorite foods:

  • Beef
  • Venison
  • Duck
  • Sausage

Four of my favorite drinks:

  • Wine
  • Cider
  • Mead
  • Chimay

Four places I would rather be right now:

  • In bed
  • Sleeping
  • With Niko
  • Not sleeping with Niko

Four things that are very special in my life:

  • Niko
  • My sister, Keira
  • My place in the family as Keira’s Protector
  • My strength, so I can protect my sister

So what do you think? Tucker can sometimes have a bit of a one-track mind, si? ::g::

The Contest!

Readers, I’d like to hear some of the things that you know about my characters from reading the books and imagining. From your perspective, what’s something you’ve gleaned or thought about the gang? Do you know what kind of toothpaste Keira uses? Or perhaps what Adam’s favorite TV show is? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

I’ll pick one commenter at random and send them a free copy of Collected Works from an Unrepentant Writer in PDF, .mobi or .epub format.

Weekends are for lots of things

It’s weird finishing a book & turning in revisions without another contract waiting in the wings. I feel a bit adrift. That said, I’ve been noodling through notes & such on quite a few ideas that I need to put together in some sort of coherent format to send to Mr. Agent.

I spent yesterday and today reading & catching up on TV. Finished watching Downton Abbey (thumbs up) and caught up on Fringe. Very glad the hellatus is over for Supernatural, though I’m a bit peeved that they didn’t [spoiler redacted] sooner. I mean, really? We had to wait until we’re halfway through the whole season?

I just finished reading Allison Pang’s debut book: A BRUSH OF DARKNESS. Enjoyed it muchly. It’s got a hot incubus, Fae, all sorts of nifty characters including Bonus!SnarkyUnicorn named Phineas (he’s about the size of a small dog and likes to hump legs). Really fun debut book from my own house, Pocket. Next up: Karen Mahoney’s debut: THE IRON WITCH. After that, will be Jaye Wells’ GREEN-EYED DEMON.

Been riding the exercise bike 6 days a week. Today, rode it twice – mostly b/c I woke up from very short nap coughing (thanks to sinus drainage) and chilled (thanks to no sun). Have crossed the halfway point to my initial goal of 400 miles by riding 20 miles today. Now at 208 miles ridden since 1/1/11.

Hoping our weather doesn’t get nasty (a possibility mid-week) and that you all are safe & cozy @ home!

Quick Update

Para-rom short story: Done and turned in
GLEE Essay: in progress
Noir short story: burst its way out of my brain Monday night. Wrote 3000 words in one fell swoop.

Mayhem in the Midlands con: not attending. :( Sadly, I am *still* not rich. I hadn’t budgeted for moving this year when I made my travel plans last year. I’m VERY glad I’m in my new place: it’s FABULOUS. I’m sad I had to cancel going to Mayhem, since it’s one of my favorite cons.

No official contract for Book 5 yet, but it’s happening. Been doing some thinky plotting things up to now.

Still loving:
Glee
Treme
In Plain Sight
Legend of the Seeker

Currently reading:
Ardeur (SmartPop Books)
Mage in Black (Jaye Wells)

Waiting for: my dinner!

Post-present pondering? Time to read a book!

Now that we’re all coming down from our holiday present highs, it’s time to renew our minds and our spirits for the coming year. Nope, not going to be all philosophical about it, just recommending that you go out and buy a book, or get one from your public library. Doesn’t matter the subject, whether it’s fiction or non, just go get a book and read it.

If you’re really looking to spend some after Xmas dollars–how about the ENTIRE National Geographic Collection on a hard drive? (I admit, I am utterly enchanted by this and lust greatly after it).

Or, you could just wander over to Linda Robertson’s blog and enter for a chance to win HALLOWED CIRCLE, 2nd book in her new series, just out yesterday.

Upcoming next month is Seressia Glass’ debut book in her new series: SHADOW BLADE, followed by  ’s DEMON POSSESSED.

Why yes, these are all fellow Pocket/Juno books. ::g::

Hope everyone is enjoying the last days of the year/decade (yes, yes, I know it’s technically not until ’01).

Buy Banned Books

It’s that time of year again: Banned Books Week.

Banned

BBW celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them. After all, intellectual freedom can exist only where these two essential conditions are met.

— American Library Association

The list of the most challenged books of 2007:

1) “And Tango Makes Three,” by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
Reasons: Anti-Ethnic, Sexism, Homosexuality, Anti-Family, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group

2) The Chocolate War,” by Robert Cormier
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Violence

3) “Olive’s Ocean,” by Kevin Henkes
Reasons: Sexually Explicit and Offensive Language

4) “The Golden Compass,” by Philip Pullman
Reasons:  Religious Viewpoint

5) “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” by Mark Twain
Reasons:  Racism

6) “The Color Purple,” by Alice Walker
Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language,

7) "TTYL,” by Lauren Myracle
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

8) "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” by Maya Angelou
Reasons:  Sexually Explicit

9) “It’s Perfectly Normal,” by Robie Harris
Reasons:  Sex Education, Sexually Explicit

10) "The Perks of Being A Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons:  Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

Challenge those who challenge our freedom to read. Buy a banned book this week!

xposted from my journal

Oh Noes!!!

Just read that Half-Blood Prince (the movie) has been delayed to July 2009.

DAMN. That is not amusing. :(

In other news – work is eating my brain and the Summer Cold From Hell ™ is now mostly gone (thank goodness!)

The sister (birki_lib) has put together a great itinerary for my birthday trip: (all dates in Canadian) ::g::

Saturday (30 Aug) – arrive, check in. Go to Tourist Info Centre and Lookout Tower, possibly Police Museum. Dinner in Gastown at Irish Heather.

Sunday (31 Aug) – Dr. Sun Yat-Sen garden, library, night tour of Chinatown (7-8:30), Chinatown night market. Dim Sum for lunch?

Monday (1 Sep) – get rental car, drive to Cypress Mountain to look at the view. Museum of Anthropology, possibly Nitobe Memorial Garden. Shopping in southern part of city (while we have the car).

Tuesday (2 Sep) – drive to Horseshoe Bay, take ferry to Nanaimo. Drive down to Victoria, walk around inner harbour. Tea at the White Heather. Drive to Swartz Bay and take ferry back to Tsawassen.

Wednesday (3 Sep) – return rental car. Stanley Park and the Aquarium.

Thursday (4 Sep MAH BIRTHDAY!!!) – Shopping, etc. Police Museum if we haven’t gotten to it yet. Dinner at Blue Water Cafe.

Friday (5 Sep) Fly home.

Currently watching: Eureka Episode 2 Season 3
Currently reading: Ink & Steel by Elizabeth Bear (matociquala) (Bloody brilliant!)

To Read Makes Our Speaking English Good*

Just finished Vampire Academy by blue_succubus (Richelle Mead) and am looking forward to the next in the series.

Been on a Harry Potter kick, so last night finished re-reading Chamber of Secrets and am starting Prisoner of Azkaban.

Went to see The Dark Knight on Friday with JM from work, her hubby and some of their pals. Truly a brilliant, relentless, immersive movie experience. As said by many before, Heath Ledger’s Joker is a tour-de-force, a brilliant, twisted psychopath.

Since I’ve been on a bit of a vampire kick, too, I’ve started to re-watch Angel: the Series. Just finished reading Five Seasons of Angel (one of the SmartPop Series from Benbella books) and enjoyed it immensely.

On the screen right now: Spike prancing about in “In the Dark” (AtS 1×03) at the end of the episode, strutting like he’s going to rise above all the disappointments, then realizing he’s well and truly screwed as the ceiling gives way.

As always, my favorite bit from this episode is at the beginning. Spike watching Angel from the roof of a nearby building as Angel saves the girl:

SPIKE: (imitating Rachel) How can I thank you, you mysterious, black-clad hunk of a night thing? (imitating Angel) No need, little lady, your tears of gratitude are enough for me. You see, I was once a badass vampire, but love and a pesky curse defanged me. Now I’m just a big, fluffy puppy with bad teeth.

(Rachel steps closer to Angel, and Angel steps back, warding her off with his hands)

SPIKE: No, not the hair! Never the hair! (high voice) But there must be someway I can show my appreciation. (low voice) No, helping those in need’s my job, and working up a load of sexual tension, and prancing away like a magnificent poof is truly thanks enough! (high voice) I understand. I have a nephew who is gay, so… (low voice) Say no more. Evil’s still afoot! And I’m almost out of that Nancy-boy hair gel I like so much. Quickly, to the Angel-mobile, away!

SPIKE: Go on with you. Play the big, strapping hero while you can. You have a few surprises coming your way. The ring of Amara, a visit from your old pal Spike, and, oh yeah, your gruesome, horrible death. **

Hope everyone’s had a great weekend!

* Xander to Giles, Miss Calendar; BtVS 1×08, I, Robot

** The Buffy Dialogue Database

Birthdays and congrats!

Happy birthday to astolat – may your day be fantastic!

Major congratulations to my dear friend and fellow author, Nancy Pickard, who has been chose Malice Domestic Guest of Honor for 2009. w00t!!

A second round of congratulations to Elaine Viets, another dear friend who will be Malice 2009′s Toastmaster.

Getting back to the normal work schedule was a bit of a challenge yesterday. I think I was still in “don’t want to see people” mode, but I managed. I’m glad this weekend looks to be a quiet one.

I’ve begun reading Louise Penny’s 2nd book, Dead Cold (Canada/UK title; A Fatal Grace US title). There was a run on the book in the Malice dealer’s room after her win, but I bought the UK edition from Sleuth of Baker Street, a favorite vendor. Sleuth is located in Toronto and I appreciate their presence at Malice, since they often carry books not available in the U.S.

As with her first one, Louise P hooked me right away with the characters and setting. The books are set in a small village in Quebec and are the best of traditional mystery. Louise won the Agatha Award for Best Novel for this book and I’m looking forward to reading the third one.

I’ve also got my copy of Personal Demons by Stacia-Kane. I’m saving it for the weekend, when I can concentrate and read it through. Darn work, anyway, getting in the way of good reading. ::g::

Off to the salt mines in a few. Hope everyone has a fabulous day!