Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Bookstores Then and Now

A few months ago, my son was invited to a birthday party. I didn't want to drive back and forth between home and the party, so I hung out in a Barnes and Noble only a few minutes away to get some writing done. I found out this Sunday that the bookstore will close in a couple of weeks. Although I've only been in that location once (there are others closer to me), it made me think about how my relationship with bookstores has changed.

I used to spend a lot more time at bookstores, particularly Barnes and Noble (and also Borders before it went bankrupt). It wasn't just about getting books, though once I found one novel I wanted I'd typically end up buying several. I also enjoyed hanging out in the cafe section, either by myself or with Eugene, but almost always with a drink and/or a treat from the cafe. Bookstores and coffee shops are great places to hang out when you want to get out of the house but want to do something low-key. Of course, I had more time and money for bookstores before I was a mother. (After recovering from my C-section, one of the first places I took Alex was to the local Barnes and Noble.)

These days, I have very little free time to hang out in bookstores. I'm also less inclined to buy paperbacks; most of my reading is either e-books or library books. When I was at the Barnes and Noble, I did browse for a bit after finishing my short story. In particular, I wanted to see if they carried an anthology with one of my stories (they didn't). Most of my book sales are e-books through Amazon, so while it would be nice to see my name on a book cover in a book store, it's not something I feel strongly about. I left that Barnes and Noble having only bought food and drink. These days, I have other places to help me feed my brain. I'm not surprised that one Barnes and Noble is closing; if anything, I'm amazed the chain hasn't gone bankrupt yet. It will be interesting to see what happens after that.

How do you feel about Barnes and Noble? Do you like it, or do you prefer independent bookstores? How often do you visit bookstores, and has that changed? Feel free to answer in the comments.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Reading/Writing Update

I don't have a whole lot to blog about this week, so I'll keep this entry short.

On the reading front, I'm up to 91 books read so far this year. Yes, that's a big jump from my last report, but during my vacation a couple of weeks ago, I discovered a fantasy series with eight short (less than 200 pages on average) books. (The series page on Goodreads is a little behind.) I'm also finally getting around to the Murderbot series, and those books are also short, more like novella-length than full books. I probably won't be able to maintain this pace, but hopefully I won't be scrambling to meet my reading goal at the end of the year.

At the end of June, I finally finished the rough draft of Dryads to Discover. (I announced the news on Facebook but didn't have a good opportunity to post it here.) The book is currently a little under 75,000 words. Currently I'm taking a break from it until my son goes back to school in late August, when I'll read it and start revisions. In the meantime, I've started the second book of the trilogy. The working title is Dryad in Doubt. I've written about 8,000 words so far. The writing pace is a bit slow, but hopefully I've got a better sense of the characters and plot this time and won't need two years to finish it. (Having posted that, I've probably jinxed myself to hit a writer's block.) Progress on this book will also depend on how many other projects I work on in parallel. I have started the next book set in the same world as the Season Avatars, though I don't have a book or series title yet. I've also toyed around with a short story, but the idea hasn't jelled yet and needs more time to incubate.

So, how's your summer going? Are you working on any special projects or taking some time off? Feel free to share in the comments.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

A Solarpunk Story Sale!

I announced this last week on Facebook, but now it's time (at long last!) to share my news with the whole Internet. I've sold another short story to an anthology. The story is called "A Shawl for Janice," and it will appear in the solarpunk Glass and Gardens: Solarpunk Winters anthology. (If you're not familiar with the solarpunk genre, it's an optimistic take on the future, with the premise that we will avert (or simply survive) climate change through community, renewable energy, and technology. My particular short story is set during a Christmas bird count. The anthology will be published on January 7th, 2020. I'll share more updates as they become available. The next one will probably be in October. In the meantime, here's the publisher's announcement and the Table of Contents.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Semi-Annual Reading Update 2019

Normally I report on my reading progress twice a year, at the beginning of July and January. I didn't want to include it with the IWSG post, so I postponed it a week. I'm actually writing this post on Sunday, July 7th (Ringo's birthday), so the numbers may change slightly by the time this post goes live.

So far, I've read 76 books in 2019, which means I'm on track to make my goal of 150 books. (If Goodreads lists it as a separate book, I include it, from short stories to three-book bundles.) Here's the breakdown by genre:

Fantasy: 34
Science Fiction: 18
Non-Fiction: 11
Other (mostly mysteries and historical novels): 13

Some of the percentages are slightly skewed from my normal pattern. About 20-25% of the books I read each year are non-fiction, but I'm only at 14% this time. The other category is higher than it normally is. We'll see if they balance out by the end of the year.

Here are some of the standout books for me:

Code Girls
How Long 'til Black Future Month?
The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

The Girls Who Went Away
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
Storm of Locusts
Here and Now and Then

Feel free to share some of your favorite reads in the comments.

I haven't done much to promote the blog lately or even respond to comments. That's not going to change this week, since my family and I will be on vacation. Hopefully after I get back and finish some other projects, I can do more to promote this blog and my books. See you then!

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

IWSG: Getting Personal with My Characters

It's hard to believe 2019 is halfway over, isn't it? Normally I post in early July about the books I've read so far for the year, but I'll wait until next week for that discussion. I should have some other writing news later this month. For now, it's time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group post. You can learn more about the group on their website and Facebook page.

Our hosts this month are Erika Beebe, Natalie Aguirre, Jennifer Lane, M.J. Fifield, Lisa Buie-Collard, and Ellen at the Cynical Sailor.

This month, we've been asked the following question: What personal traits have you written into your characters?

I believe that I put a bit of myself into all of my characters, but I admit some characters feel more like me than others. Joanna from Lyon's Legacy shares my love of science and sense of humor. Gwen from the Season Avatars series (in particular, Scattered Seasons) is also a rather practical and intelligent woman.

Which of your characters is most like you, and in what ways? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

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