Monthly Archives: October 2013

‘Read More Books’ Challenge: Week 4: 156-207 of the list of 623 of the best books ever!

Are you ready for week four of our Read More Books challenge? 

Read HERE to learn about it. It’s never too late to join in.

Check the ones you may have missed or want to review:

WEEK ONE   WEEK TWO   WEEK THREE

How did you do with your reading? We had an extra week to read between postings this time. Even if you didn’t finish the book you selected, it counts if you select one for this week to add to your TBR pile.

Here is week four’s list:

156. Ironweed — by William J. Kennedy
157. Persuasion — by Jane Austen
158. The Rainbow — by D. H. Lawrence
159. A Dance to the Music of Time — by Anthony Powell
160. The Unbearable Lightness of Being — by Milan Kundera
161. Kim — by Rudyard Kipling
162. Brighton Rock — by Graham Greene
163. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest — by Ken Kesey
164. The Adventures of Augie March — by Saul Bellow
165. A Bend in the River — by V. S. Naipaul
166. The Hound of the Baskervilles — by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
167. Housekeeping — by Marilynne Robinson
168. Sophie’s Choice — by William Styron
169. Ethan Frome — by Edith Wharton
170. Buddenbrooks — by Thomas Mann
171. Thérèse Desqueyroux — by François Mauriac
172. The Killer Angels — by Michael Shaara
173. Anne of Green Gables — by L. M. Montgomery
174. If This Is a Man and The Truce — by Primo Levi
175. The Bridge of San Luis Rey — by Thornton Wilder
176. A Moveable Feast — by Ernest Hemingway
177. Dubliners — by James Joyce
178. Ficciones — by Jorge Luis Borges
179. Schindler’s List — by Thomas Keneally
180. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie — by Muriel Spark
181. Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde — by Robert Louis Stevenson
182. Far from the Madding Crowd — by Thomas Hardy
183. Gilead — by Marilynne Robinson
184. Nausea — by Jean-Paul Sartre
185. The Wings of the Dove — by Henry James
186. The Little Prince — by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
187. The Red Badge of Courage — by Stephen Crane
188. The Odyssey — by Homer
189. Memoirs of a Geisha — by Arthur Golden
190. Men Without Women — by Ernest Hemingway
191. The Tale of Genji — by Murasaki Shikibu
192. Cannery Row — by John Steinbeck
193. Life of Pi — by Yann Martel
194. In Our Time — by Ernest Hemingway
195. The Pilgrim’s Progress — by John Bunyan
196. Jude the Obscure — by Thomas Hardy
197. Breakfast of Champions — by Kurt Vonnegut
198. Six Characters in Search of an Author — by Luigi Pirandello
199. The Day of the Locust — by Nathanael West
200. The Stand — by Stephen King
201. Austerlitz — by W. G. Sebald
202. Cat’s Cradle — by Kurt Vonnegut
203. The Public Burning — by Robert Coover
204. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire — by J. K. Rowling
205. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle — by Haruki Murakami
206. Man’s Fate — by Andre Malraux
207. Jazz — by Toni Morrison
 
 
I love to hear from you!  From the above list:
  • Which books have you read?
  • Which books do you want to read?
  • Which books are you going to obtain this week?(Even if you are not officially taking the Read More Books challenge I would love to hear about your reading.)

Note: I got permission to share this list on my blog. (Thank you, Stuart!) You could go HERE for the list of “623 of the best books ever written” and see them all at once for yourself, and/or you can follow the list here a few at a time.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings! 🙂

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Sue Harrison’s “Writing the Third Dimension” – part 10: The Writer as Actor

Welcome! Over the next many months we invite you to return here, specifically on the fourth Thursday of each month for the newest installment of Sue Harrison‘s teaching: Writing The Third Dimension. You can read all the segments by clicking on the page title WRITING THE THIRD DIMENSION, found under Writers’ Helps & Workshops on the drop-down menu. Please feel free to ask questions and leave comments for Sue. Now for the topic for month ten:

******

“Writing the Third Dimension” – part 10: The Writer as Actor

In my first three Alaska novels, my characters do not sit on chairs. They don’t even sit cross-legged on the ground; they squat on their haunches. This is a very typical pose for people who live without furniture, but the problem is, other than on a few camping trips, I’ve lived with furniture all my life. So to write about my ancient Aleut people, I had to learn how to sit on my haunches. It wasn’t easy, but, by learning, I avoided having my characters do something that would not work physically.  In effect, I became an actor and acted out the “sitting on haunches” portions of the novel. Since then, when I’m writing a scene, I often get up from my chair and act it out right in my office. It’s amazing how much more convincing and realistic your words will be if you back your scenes with a healthy dose of “acting out.”

Janet_Marie_Chvatal_'Sissi'

Here are a few acting tips that might help you as you write your novel:

1. If you are writing fight scenes and have no experience in that particular arena of life, take a self-defense class. It sure helped me write more realistic and gritty fight scenes.

2. Don’t be afraid to take up a new hobby. If your main character sews quilts, buy a book, take a class, do a little quilting.

3. Use your mirror. Imagine yourself angry and look at your face in the mirror. What are you doing with your eyes? Your mouth? Your eyebrows? Don’t get overly descriptive. A word or two will do.

4. Enlist your DVD player. Watch a good movie and check out how the actors express their emotions. Replay scenes that catch your heart and keep a pad handy to jot down the first words that come to mind as you watch the actors laugh, cry, express anger, fear, dread, etc.

5. Watch babies and young children. They haven’t yet learned to guard their feelings by masking facial expressions. They are the exaggerated versions of adult facial behavior.

6. Read articles or even a book about body language.  My husband, a high school principal, had a training session in how to tell if people are lying. He shared the information with me, and since then it’s appeared in subtle ways in my short stories and my novels.  The Internet abounds with resources. Take an hour or so  and have fun learning how people express emotions with body language.

7. Pay attention to hands and feet. A person might have a good poker face, but his/her hands and fingers, feet and toes are “saying” what s/he really feels.

The next time you sit down to write, remember, you’re not only a writer; you’re an actor. Stride boldly onto the stage and become your characters!

Have fun! Any questions?

Sue

*Writing the Third Dimension, copyright, 2010 Sue Harrison*

Sue HarrisonBestselling author, Sue Harrison, has written two Alaska trilogies: The Ivory Carver Trilogy and The Storyteller Trilogy, and a middle readers’ book SISU. Prior to the publication of her novels, Harrison was employed at Lake Superior State University as a writer and acting director of the Public Relations Department and as an adjunct instructor in creative writing and advanced creative writing. For more information, click here. To inquire about booking Sue for workshops or speaking engagements this year, click here.

Thanks for joining us! Please feel free to leave your questions and comments. We invite you to come back November 28, 2013, for part 11.

‘Read More Books’ challenge: Week 3: 104-155 of the list of 623 best books ever!

Are you ready for week three of our Read More Books challenge?

Read HERE to learn about it. It’s not too late to join in.

Check WEEK ONE and WEEK TWO of the list.

How did you do with your reading? Even if you didn’t finish the book you selected, it counts if you select one for this week to add to your TBR pile.

NOTE: Next Thursday, Part 10 of Sue Harrison’s writers workshop will be the highlight. Come back October 31 for part four of the reading challenge. This gives you more time to read until the next list of books. 🙂

Here is week three’s list:

104. The Heart is A Lonely Hunter — by Carson McCullers
105. Vanity Fair — by William Makepeace Thackeray
106. Commedia — by Dante Alighieri
107. The Count of Monte Cristo — by Alexandre Dumas
108. An American Tragedy — by Theodore Dreiser
109. White Noise — by Don DeLillo
110. The World According to Garp — by John Irving
111. Atonement — by Ian McEwan
112. Nostromo — by Joseph Conrad
113. The House of Mirth — by Edith Wharton
114. The Brothers Karamazov — by Fyodor Dostoevsky
115. The Good Soldier — by Ford Madox Ford
116. The Name of the Rose — by Umberto Eco
117. The Shipping News — by Annie Proulx
118. The Woman in White — by Wilkie Collins
119. Herzog — by Saul Bellow
120. The Counterfeiters — by Andre Gide
121. My Antonia — by Willa Cather
122. Scoop — by Evelyn Waugh
123. A Room with a View — by E. M. Forster
124. Bible: King James Version
125. Wide Sargasso Sea — by Jean Rhys
126. Love in The Time of Cholera — by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
127. The Remains of the day — by Kazuo Ishiguro
128. The Big Sleep — by Raymond Chandler
129. I, Claudius — by Robert Graves
130. Tropic of Cancer — by Henry Miller
131. Tender is the Night — by F. Scott Fitzgerald
132. Journey to the End of the Night — by Louis-Ferdinand Celine
133. The War of the Worlds — by H. G. Wells
134. A Suitable Boy — by Vikram Seth
135. Possession — by A. S. Byatt
136. A Confederacy of Dunces — by John Kennedy Toole
137. The Bell Jar — by Sylvia Plath
138. Waiting for Godot — by Samuel Beckett
139. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao — by Junot Diaz
140. Being and Nothingness — by Jean-Paul Sartre
141. A Thousand Acres — by Jane Smiley
142. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay — by Michael Chabon
143. The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation — by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
144. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory — by Roald Dahl
145. Lady Chatterley’s Lover — by D. H. Lawrence
146. JR — by William Gaddis
147. The Histories — by Herodotus
148. Doctor Zhivago — by Boris Pasternak
149. Lucky Jim — by Kingsley Amis
150. Underworld — by Don DeLillo
151. If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler — by Italo Calvino
152. Life — by Georges Perec
153. The Master and Margarita — by Mikhail Bulgakov
154. The Good Earth — by Pearl S. Buck
155. Henderson the Rain King — by Saul Bellow
 
From the above list:
  • Which books have you read?
  • Which books do you want to read?
  • Which books are you going to obtain this week?(Even if you are not officially taking the Read More Books challenge I would love to hear about your reading.)

Note: I got permission to share this list on my blog. (Thank you, Stuart!) You could go HERE for the list of “623 of the best books ever written” and see them all at once for yourself, and/or you can follow the list here a few at a time.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings! 🙂

Book Review: Triangles – by Kimberly Ann Miller

Triangles - Kimberly Ann MillerBook: Triangles
Author: Kimberly Ann Miller
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Date: June 18, 2013
Genre: young adult
Pages: 216
Price: $9.95
My rating: a fairly good read based on a fascinating concept
 
 

I received this book (ARC) from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

This story is told mostly from the point-of-view of a seventeen-year-old girl, Autumn, who is an unhappy complainer. She gives her sister a hard time, their dad died, their mother is very ill, and we find out she is not happy about a nice guy who is constantly bestowing her with little gifts at work – which she rewards by attempting to get rid of his attention through her rude behaviour toward him.

When Autumn agrees to go on a cruise with her sister she does so with reluctance. It was what she thought would be a good temporary escape, a chance to get away from the pain they are going through in their family life. What she gets on this cruise is a trip through the Bermuda Triangle that is confusing and very strange.

Each time Autumn has an alternate reality experience she is as shocked as before, even though she is aware it is happening. Her life gets more messed up each time a change occurs, but it doesn’t change her rude and hateful attitude.

The author did a convincing job of making Autumn an unlikeable person and – if I remember correctly – she is the only one in the book to use bad language. She comes across as crude, rude, and a hateful brat a lot of the time.

On this cruise she is pursued by two guys, and in each alternate reality shift they also change in personality and circumstance. Terrible things happen, confusing things happen, surprising things happen, and Autumn’s fear is that she will be trapped in the Bermuda Triangle forever and not be able to live the life she is learning she really wants.

Triangles – by Kimberly Ann Miller – is a fairly quick read. The mystery of the Bermuda Triangle is a fascinating topic to write a fictional young adult novel around. Although a few places did not make sense to me and tripped me up a bit, the idea of someone getting caught in the Triangle and living through it is an interesting one. It certainly makes the reader think.

You can find Triangles listed on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

‘Read More Books’ Challenge: Week 2: 53-103 of the list of 623 of the best books ever!

Are you ready for week two of our Read More Books challenge?

Read HERE to learn about it. It’s not too late to join in.

Check WEEK ONE of the list if you missed it.

There were a few responses to week one’s challenge. How did you do with your reading? Even if you didn’t finish the book you selected, it counts if you select one for this week to add to your TBR pile.

Here is week two’s list of 52 books:

53. A Prayer for Owen Meany — by John Irving
54. Emma — by Jane Austen
55. David Copperfield — by Charles Dickens
56. The Portrait of a Lady — by Henry James
57. The Trial — by Franz Kafka
58. Crime and Punishment — by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
59. A Clockwork Orange — by Anthony Burgess
60. The Age of Innocence — by Edith Wharton
61. Don Quixote — by Miguel de Cervantes
62. As I Lay Dying — by William Faulkner
63. His Dark Materials — by Philip Pullman
64. Brideshead Revisited — by Evelyn Waugh
65. The Golden Notebook — by Doris Lessing
66. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn — by Mark Twain
67. Things Fall Apart — by Chinua Achebe
68. Tom Jones — by Henry Fielding
69. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone — by J. K. Rowling
70. Song of Solomon — by Toni Morrison
71. Molloy; Malone Dies; The Unnamable — by Samuel Beckett
72. Finnegans Wake — by James Joyce
73. Absalom, Absalom! — by William Faulkner
74. The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman — by Laurence Sterne
75. Charlotte’s Web — by E. B. White
76. The Ambassadors — by Henry James
77. Sons and Lovers — by D. H. Lawrence
78. A Farewell to Arms — by Ernest Hemingway
79. Women in Love — by D. H. Lawrence
80. Birdsong — by Sebastian Faulks
81. Gulliver’s Travels — by Jonathan Swift
82. Watership Down — by Richard Adams
83. Gravity’s Rainbow — by Thomas Pynchon
84. Frankenstein — by Mary Shelley
85. Clarissa: Or the History of a Young Lady — by Samuel Richardson
86. The Old Man and the Sea — by Ernest Hemingway
87. Dune — by Frank Herbert
88. The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe — by Daniel Defoe
89. Go Tell It on the Mountain — by James Baldwin
90. All the King’s Men — by Robert Penn Warren
91. The Magic Mountain — by Thomas Mann
92. The Call of the Wild — by Jack London
93. The Tin Drum — by Gunter Grass
94. The 42nd Parallel — by John Dos Passos
95. Under the Volcano — by Malcolm Lowry
96. Disgrace — by J. M. Coetzee
97. The Diary of a Young Girl — by Anne Frank
98. Bleak House — by Charles Dickens
99. Light in August — by William Faulkner
100. Scarlet Letter — by Nathaniel Hawthorne
101. Pale Fire — by Vladimir Nabokov
102. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin — by Louis de Bernieres
103. Howards End — by E. M. Forster
 
From the above list:
  • Which books have you read?
  • Which books do you want to read?
  • Which books are you going to obtain this week?(Even if you are not officially taking the Read More Books challenge I would love to hear about your reading.)

Note: I got permission to share this list on my blog. (Thank you, Stuart!) You could go HERE for the list of “623 of the best books ever written” and see them all at once for yourself, and/or you can follow the list here a few at a time.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings! 🙂

When Reality smacks you upside the head

Reality bites. hard. Ever notice?

Saturday was one of those reality check days.

Last week was full of beautiful weather days, so when it worked out for us to take a drive to visit someone we love we took that opportunity. It was time for us to visit. She has been failing quickly; each time they brought her to visit us this year there has been a marked difference. Now that she was recently moved into a nursing home (a very good one) it was our turn to go to her.

The three of us got off to a late morning start, directions in hand. By the time we arrived in the area, almost an hour later, we thought she would soon be having her lunch and we didn’t want to interrupt. It was about 11:40 so we found a little seafood restaurant and took our time there.

The instructions we had been given were easy to follow and it wasn’t long before we got pointed in the right direction again. Soon we found the creatively designed, tastefully decorated building – our destination – set back from the busyness of traffic and away from city life. Besides the alternating attractive colour scheme, we noticed high iron gates around well-kept garden sitting areas. It was immediately noticeable that no residents could wander off and get lost or harmed.

After we made our way through security – a must-have feature for this type of nursing home – we found our way to the second level and down winding halls with paintings on the walls and nautical-named units. Upon entering her section we were told she was in the dining area. That’s when reality met us head-on.

Up until that time we knew she had become frail, more and more confused and forgetful, and recently very restless which made it too difficult to keep her safe at home. (If you know much about Alzheimer’s disease then you understand what I’m saying. I’m leaving out a lot.) We were not prepared to see her being fed her lunch. We were not prepared to see this loved one, when taken back to her room where we waited to visit with her, seemingly hardly aware of our presence.

What we expected was to be able to converse with her on some level. We expected to have a conversation that would be disjointed, even nonsensical, perhaps, but at least some kind of communication once she sorted out – even temporarily – who we are. I was prepared for her to not remember me even though she has known me all my life; I could have handled that. That is not what we found. What we found was the cold hard reality of advancing Alzheimer’s. Our sweet, funny, fun-loving, precious loved one is getting away from us. Through the medication that helps to keep her calm and safely and respectably manageable she seems to be fighting to hold on to who she really is, but it is a battle no one yet has been able to win. That is the horror of it. That is reality. Cold. hard. reality.

It was emotional for the three of us. One of us visiting her that day is on the same path, although not as far along. We don’t know if it registered with him that what he witnessed – a journey taken by his father decades before, then his younger brother, and now his youngest sister – is also the strong possibility of where his journey will take him. We don’t know. We won’t ask.

Our drive home was more subdued, conversation minimal, each of us travelling with our own thoughts.

A few hours earlier I was noticing how lovely our Autumn colours are as the leaves are changing from their greens to reds, yellows, and orange hues. I was admiring and thankful for God’s handiwork in the beauty around us. On the drive back home I noticed everything in sharper little snapshots.

Autumn colours

gorgeous displays of colourfully painted leaves, click!

the dull grey of dead tree limbs set against the blue sparkle of a pond, click!

streaks and layers of a rippled blanket of clouds laid across the sky in various shades of grey and white, click!

muddy tidal waters filling a river, click!

stands of tall dead grasses, click!

the small bright green car driving in an oncoming lane, click!

Each place I looked seemed to have its own glory, as if my mind was grasping everything in new awareness, capturing little moments of wonder after a time of sadness. Funny how the mind does that. It’s as if God was reminding me … 

This is reality, too. Enjoy it.

Post Script: I learned while writing this post that she did have a memory of his being there to visit her, and that is good.

Comments? Anything to share?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

‘Read More Books’ Challenge: Week 1: 1-52 of the list of 623 of the best books ever!

Are you ready for the challenge?

Thanks to Erik of This Kid Reviews Books, my challenge now has a name: Read More Books Challenge.

Please go to THIS SHORT POST first if you don’t know what I’m talking about.

MY OFFER

Because I know you love to read – or read and write – I have decided to give you the list I found, and I got permission to do so. (Thank you, Stuart!) You could go HERE for the list of “623 of the best books ever written” and see them all at once for yourself, and/or you can follow the list here a few at a time.

The reason I thought you might enjoy the list in sections is so that you can see which ones you have already read – a few at a time – and then —

MY CHALLENGE

… you will have a week to buy or borrow the ones you want to read before my next installment of more of the list. I was going to divide it between six posts, but changed that to twelve posts because the shorter lists are easier to work with if you want to shop for a book each week. How’s that for a little incentive for those of us who can find time to read more often? Besides, it might be fun! 🙂 And who doesn’t appreciate an excuse to book shop?

Each Thursday I will post another portion of the list of “623 of the best books ever written” until we get to the end of twelve posts. NOTE: On the fourth Thursday of each month it will not be posted because we have Sue Harrison’s writers workshop that day – and I don’t want to mess with a good thing!

Here are the first 52 books of “623 of the best books ever written” as compiled and listed on a list of books website.

  1. The Great Gatsby — by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  2. The Grapes of Wrath — by John Steinbeck
  3. Nineteen Eighty-Four — by George Orwell
  4. Ulysses — by James Joyce
  5. Lolita — by Vladimir Nabokov
  6. Catch-22 — by Joseph Heller
  7. The Catcher in the Rye — by J. D. Salinger
  8. Beloved — by Toni Morrison
  9. The Sound and the Fury — by William Faulkner
  10. To Kill a Mockingbird — by Harper Lee
  11. The Lord of the Rings — by J. R. R. Tolkien
  12. One Hundred Years of Solitude — by Gabriel Garcia Márquez
  13. Brave New World — by Aldous Huxley
  14. To The Lighthouse — by Virginia Woolf
  15. Invisible Man — by Ralph Ellison
  16. Gone With The Wind — by Margaret Mitchell
  17. Jane Eyre — by Charlotte Brontë
  18. On The Road — by Jack Kerouac
  19. Pride and Prejudice — by Jane Austen
  20. Lord of the Flies — by William Golding
  21. Middle March — by George Eliot
  22. Anna Karenina — by Leo Tolstoy
  23. Animal Farm — by George Orwell
  24. A Passage to India — by E. M. Forster
  25. In Search of Lost Time — by Marcel Proust
  26. Wuthering Heights — by Emily Brontë
  27. The Chronicles of Narnia — by C. S. Lewis
  28. The Color Purple — by Alice Walker
  29. Midnight’s Children — by Salman Rushdie
  30. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man — by James Joyce
  31. Winnie-the-Pooh — by A. A. Milne
  32. Heart of Darkness — by Joseph Conrad
  33. Mrs Dalloway — by Virginia Woolf
  34. Slaughterhouse-Five — by Kurt Vonnegut
  35. War and Peace — by Leo Tolstoy
  36. Of Mice and Men — by John Steinbeck
  37. Moby-Dick — by Herman Melville
  38. Little Women — by Louisa Mae Alcott
  39. Native Son — by Richard Wright
  40. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy — by Douglas Adams
  41. Great Expectations — by Charles Dickens
  42. The Sun Also Rises — by Ernest Hemingway
  43. Rebecca — by Daphne du Maurier
  44. The Stranger — by Albert Camus
  45. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass — by Lewis Carroll
  46. For Whom the Bell Tolls — by Ernest Hemingway
  47. The Hobbit — by J. R. R. Tolkien
  48. Madame Bovary — by Gustave Flaubert
  49. The Wind in the Willows — by Kenneth Grahame
  50. The Handmaid’s Tale — by Margaret Atwood
  51. Tess of the D’Urbervilles — by Thomas Hardy
  52. Their Eyes Were Watching God — by Zora Neale Hurston

From the above list:

  • Which books have you read?
  • Which books do you want to read?
  • Which books are you going to obtain this week?(Even if you are not taking the challenge I would love to hear about your reading.)

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings! 🙂