I use Pandora radio almost daily, and while creating myself a new station yesterday I had a thought, is there a Pandora for books out there? A site where I can put in a book that I like and it will give me a list of other books to try? Oh the possibilities! It could lead me to the classics I’ve been missing, and then point me to the newest authors that might strike my fancy.
What did I find? Well, there’s some good news and some bad news. It does exist! Kind of. The site is called BookLamp, and they say they have the algorithms to make the book lists I’m dreaming of, but they don’t have the database of books to make it happen. They have been working to get the attention of Google with a site called CanGooogleHearMe.com, and currently they are debating their next move. With such a great idea I can’t help but hope they move quickly… someone is bound to make this happen!
Meet Baxter. He’s the thinker of our two dogs, the philosopher if you will. He likes to spend his time observing life from whatever window he can find. Over time, he has developed very distinct opinions, ones that he’s not afraid to share. He believes that walks in the snow, no matter how cold and unpleasant for others, should be taken at a leisurely pace. People like to stop and smell the roses, he likes to stop and smell the pee (of other dogs that is). He also has the strong conviction that he lacks the ability to jump. While our other dog (of similar youth and build) jumps from chair to couch to table, he sticks to the ground level. All the same, he has his free will, and has no qualms about making his desire to be let onto or off of the couch known. If he doesn’t want to be on the couch anymore, that’s his predogative, and you had better help down out before you get some penetrating stares (like those above).
Yes, that’s right. I call it his predogative (and I may or may not hear Bobby Brown in my head every time I say it). My name is Shannon, and I regularly use made up words. Even if my spellcheck doesn’t like it, I’m going to keep on using them.
I had heard through the grapevine that Oprah had done an interview with J.K. Rowling, but kept forgetting to look it up (thank you Jurgen Wolff from Time to Write for the reminder!). It’s a fairly lengthy interview, 40 minutes without commercials, but I must admit that I was captivated for nearly every minute of it. Aside from being informative, there were also some lovely and profound moments (except for the part where they talked about how funny it is to be billionaires and not have to worry about money, sorry Oprah and J.K., I can’t empathize there).
You can watch the complete interview here. If you don’ t have the time to watch the whole thing, this is some of what I got from it:
Can’t get enough of the interview? There are some additional excerpts on the Oprah website, including one about her long road to success.
Just launched online magazine Matchbook, “A Field Guide to a Charmed Life”, has already won me over. An entire page dedicated to gifts for bookworms? Check. Inclusion of a westie in said bookworm page? Double check (explanation of my westie obsession to come).
The magazine also has an article on the popular stationer Mr. Boddington’s Studio, and even shows you the ins and outs of a letterpress.
Matchbook magazine also makes a few book recommendations, one of which, Swamplandia!, just might end up on my reading list! It has a gorgeous cover that strangely reminds me of Peter Rabbit (and something else that I can’t place). I looked into the book a little more and here’s some of what Carl Hiaasen has to say about the novel, “Swamplandia! is the story of Ava Bigtree, a 12-year-old alligator wrestler who embarks on an improbable journey through the mangrove wilderness of southwest Florida in search of a lost sister. Young Osceola has run off with a ghost-figure named Louis Thanksgiving, and only Ava knows where to look for them, dreading what she might find.” He also offers some major praise for the author.
Hmm… if I can find a way to include man-eating reptiles in my novel I’ll have the support of Carl Hiaasen? Surprise crocodile ending?! If only.
David Bamber as the classically annoying Mr. Collins, from Pride & Prejudice
The process of writing my first novel has had its ups and downs. Some moments I have complete confidence in my writing, and others I’m convinced it’s all complete garbage (in which case I go running to Lemony Snicket). One thing I’ve found to be consistently true is that a grin inevitably creeps up on my face while writing every scene that includes my most obnoxious character. He’s rude, he’s inappropriate, he’s narcissistic and cocky while completely insecure. In short, I adore him.
Someday I hope to share this character with you, but until that time (ie. until I go through about a million revisions) here are a few suggestions for some obnoxious/annoying characters you can enjoy right now!
1. Mr. Collins from Pride and Prejudice. Nothing says true love like an insincere marriage
proposal from a cousin! “Almost as soon as I entered the house I singled you out as the companion of my future life.”
Drawing by Chris Chua. http://www.cchua001.blogspot.com/
2. Ignatius J. Reilly from A Confederacy of Dunces. Percy Walker’s foreword of the John Kennedy O’Toole novel says it all. “… Toole’s greatest achievement is Ignatius Reilly himself, intellectual, ideologue, deadbeat, goof-off, glutton, who should repel the reader with his gargantuan bloats, his thunderous contempt and one-man war against everybody — Freud, homosexuals, heterosexuals, Protestants, and the assorted excesses of modern times.”
3. More clueless than obnoxious, a similarly fun character is Adrian Mole from Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4 series by Sue Townsend.
Have some suggestions for other entertainingly obnoxious characters? Post them in the comments.
My bookshelves have the typical mix of book arrangements, side by side, with a few small vertical stacks (some centered, some as bookends to the side by side), but these gorgeous set ups are tempting me to rethink it!
I might worry about this one falling over, and I don’t know if I’d have the heart to secure them to one another, making them unreadable.
Today I went onto the UK site for Penguin (they often have fun stuff you won’t find on the U.S. site) and was surprised to find a very different cover for the book The Help front and center. While I know publishers regularly have different covers for different markets, it was interesting to see that they chose to go much more literally, with a cover that shows exactly what the book is about. Although I’ve always thought the birds on the U.S. version were cute, I really had no idea what the book was about until I read the back cover.
So which do you prefer? The U.S. version that feels more warm and fuzzy like the overall tone of the book, or the U.K. version that better shows the subject of the book?
U.S. Version: http://us.penguingroup.com/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780399155345,00.html#
U.K. Version: http://www.penguin.co.uk/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780141039282,00.html#
This past November I participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I cannot say enough about how much fun I had doing it, and how happy I was to complete the goal of writing 50,000 words by Nov. 30th. Along the way we were given moral support in the form of weekly pep talks. The excerpts here being from my favorite, the one that really struck me, the pep talk from Lemony Snicket.
Now, I’m a sucker for humor and sarcasm, but what I really enjoy is the way it confronts face first the fears that abound with writing (or really, anything challenging in life). What if I’m not good enough? Is anyone going to like it/get it? What is the value in fighting through something? By telling us to just give up, we can’t help but realize that’s exactly what we shouldn’t do!
This image went into my artwork inspiration file from the moment I first saw it in the FLOR catalog. It’s cool, unusual, wordy, and most importantly (since I like to make all of the artwork in my apt) DIY! The question is, what section of the dictionary to choose? Quite literally, you get to choose the meaning of your art.
The brilliant set decorator at FLOR (seriously, you do a great job making me want almost everything in the catalog) chose to go with “betray” as the central word. For my own apt I’m thinking something I bit happier.
Alternative ideas: use a thesaurus, foreign dictionary, design or fashion encyclopedia.
I’ll post my finished product when I decide what words to use. In the meantime, here are a few shots from my very old thesaurus to give you some idea of where I’m leaning.