Can you ever be too careful?


Last year, I finished the Nanowrimo challenge and sad to say, I haven’t touched my novel since. Of course, I have a bunch of creative uses but I’m not going to bore you with those. Needless to say, life sometimes just makes me too lazy to write. For example, I promised myself I will update my blogs every week but I haven’t been. At least I can say that I have not totally gone off writing. I am an Amazon Vine reviewer and I do have to read books and write reviews. And because I’m a movie addict, I write reviews for those, too. So I am at least writing something.

Anyway, what I wanted to write about today is a book I recently read as a reviewer. Amazon Vine tells reviewers not to criticize the grammar or the typos but the content of the story. Okay, no problem there, since most of the books they send me are proofs or advance copies. But this particular book was not and it’s published by Harlequin, written by an established author.

I’m not going to mention the name of the author or the title because I don’t want to malign. The reason I am mentioning it in this blog is because it can serve as a warning to other writers.

The main characters in the book are Russian. Unfortunately, the author made a mistake in naming them. In East Slavic naming customs, a daughter inherits her father’s last name and adds an –a, for example: Petrov = Petrova. The same is true when she gets married. If her husband’s name is Yeltsin = Yelstina. In this book, the female character last name was Linley-Kirov (her mother is English) and other than her Russian surname being wrong without the –a, it is also uncommon to combine surnames of married couples. As for the male character, his last name is Tipova, which makes it a female’s name, as in daughter of Tipov. (See Wikipedia article on East Slavic Naming Customs)

Another mistake that I’ve noted was she used the term Caliph as an equivalent for prince. I just had a nagging suspicion that this was wrong and it is. A caliph is a religious leader, a follower of Muhammad. And this character was by no means that.          

My point is research is important when writing. I am by no means a Slavic or Islamic expert but I noticed these mistakes. I don’t know how this slipped by the copy editor. To me it is a reminder not to be nonchalant about research and although writers have the benefit of creative license, I don’t think mistakes are included under that umbrella. So let’s all be careful.


A Blessed Easter to Everyone


Just a quick post. It’s officially Easter and I realize that despite all the books I’ve read and all the stories I’ve seen on film and heard on audio, there is one book that I haven’t finished in its entirety.

THE BIBLE

Best Online Bible

Image Courtesy of Squidoo

Makes me feel guilty despite knowing all the Bible stories there is to know. I’ve read the Catechism of the Catholic Church back-to-back but it’s just so difficult to get through some of the books of the Old Testament. I’m sure I’m not alone in this but it’s no excuse.

The story of salvation is the greatest story of humankind and I should know it from beginning to end.

The Resurrection of ChristPS Easter is not just a day but a season. April 24-June 12, 2011.

Still struggling to get published?


I was reading US Weekly (my guilty pleasure) today and I can across a list of 25 stars who are authors.  I thought, hmm, some people on this list didn’t finish high school, and yet, thousands of people who have a degree in English, Literature, or Creative Writing struggle to get published.

I’m not saying that these stars have no writing talent but one can’t help but think that their celebrity or notoriety is the only reason why they can include the word “author” in their résumé.  Plus a lot of their work is co-authored which makes me dubious of who actually took pen to paper.  I’ve rearranged the list based to degree of education.

25 Star Authors

When I sorted their names out, I was pleasantly surprised that at least most of them had some formal education.  This list is not by any means inclusive of the many celebrities that have written books but I was intrigued hence a couple of hours were spent researching their background.

Of course, it is not consolation to a struggling writer and I’m sure many a hidden gem of a manuscript have been tossed by editors who only wish to make a profit.  Since not all of us can become celebrities, I guess the only thing left is to keep writing and hope for the best.  Just remember, JK Rowling started writing Harry Potter on pieces of table napkins.  So you never know…

struggling writer

Image Courtesy of Book Lust

April is Poetry Month


Of all the literary forms, it’s poetry that daunts me. And also the hardest for me read out loud, well, maybe except for Shakespeare. But when written and read right, a poem can be the most enthralling piece of literature.

I’m not to keen on some work that passes off as poetry these days.  Poetry reading was a favorite pastime but now I see some of those free style poetry and it makes me cringe. Maybe because I like the works of the Metaphysical poets like John Donne and Andrew Marvell, or the Romantics, like John Keats and Lord Byron.

It’s funny, though that if a person reads poetry well, they can be reading anything and it will still sound like poetry.  Just like when Jude Law was put on the spot by Jimmy Fallon to read “Poker Face.”

Jude Law reading “Poker Face.”

Seriously, poetry speaks with the least amount of words yet convey the most profound meaning.  I would like to share one of my favorite poems written by John Donne.

The Broken Heart

He is stark mad, whoever says,
That he hath been in love an hour,
Yet not that love so soon decays,
But that it can ten in less space devour ;
Who will believe me, if I swear
That I have had the plague a year?
Who would not laugh at me, if I should say
I saw a flash of powder burn a day?
Ah, what a trifle is a heart,
If once into love’s hands it come !
All other griefs allow a part
To other griefs, and ask themselves but some ;
They come to us, but us love draws ;
He swallows us and never chaws ;
By him, as by chain’d shot, whole ranks do die ;
He is the tyrant pike, our hearts the fry.
If ’twere not so, what did become
Of my heart when I first saw thee?
I brought a heart into the room,
But from the room I carried none with me.
If it had gone to thee, I know
Mine would have taught thine heart to show
More pity unto me ; but Love, alas !
At one first blow did shiver it as glass.
Yet nothing can to nothing fall,
Nor any place be empty quite ;
Therefore I think my breast hath all
Those pieces still, though they be not unite ;
And now, as broken glasses show
A hundred lesser faces, so
My rags of heart can like, wish, and adore,
But after one such love, can love no more.

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Cecilia Reading Poems ~ William Russell Flint

Limitless possibilities anyone?


Recently, I saw the movie “Limitless” starring Bradley Cooper.  The story is about a struggling writer who is given an experimental  pill called NZT-48 that will release all of his brain’s potential.  The only caveat is that you have to keep taking it because it wears off. Needless to say, this is every writer’s dream.  Imagine the endless possibilities, the access to the fount of creativity!

220px-Limitless_Poster

Unfortunately for the most of us, all we get is a spark, and for some like myself, that rare spark often fizzles out before I can make something out of it.  It’s very frustrating.  Maybe that’s why some writers turn into alcoholics or commit suicide (I don’t not endorse either!)

Do you sometimes feel that the story is inside of you and is trapped?  That the words just won’t come, even if you “know” your story in your heart.  I could use that pill at moments like these.

One of my dogs is exceptionally intelligent.  I can see it in her face that she wants to say something and poor thing sometimes tries to mimic the human words and becomes embarrassed when a bark or yelp comes out instead.  I can tell she knows the words but she’s just not equipped with the right vocal cords.

It’s all trapped inside.  I’ve been trapped for a while.  I can’t even keep up with this blog.  I’ve seen the advice to write every day but it’s a bit hard when life gets in the way.  But enough of my sorry excuses.

I’m just curious, would any of you take it?  Barring deadly side effects, I would, in a heartbeat.

PS  This is a very good movie with excellent actors.  Just be warned that if you have vertigo, it’s a little dizzying.

Don’t Jump Off The Shelf!


This came through one of my RSS feed subscriptions and I thought writers and readers would find it funny but ironic.

Image Source: Newsweek

Now I am not standing on a soapbox condemning people who watch reality shows.  I’ve enjoyed watching Survivor, Dancing with the Stars, and American Idol, although I’m not sure if the latter two can be called that.  What baffles me are the shows that have no worthwhile content but is just voyeurism into the sordid lives of attention-hungry people who star in them. Shows like Jersey Shore, The Real Housewives of…, Teen Mom, and whatever else is out there.

Maybe because I have enough drama in my life that these shows don’t appeal to me.  But really, I’d rather spend my spare time reading, or watching a good film.  Other than getting a laugh or feeling you’re a lot better off than these clowns, what can someone get from these shows that just waste air time by showing bad examples of the inane, the affected, and the promiscuous?

Well I will just have to do my share in saving as many books as I can.  Hope you will, too.  Happy Reading!

Death by Digital


I work in an academic library and in this digital age, we have  a lot of our resources online, especially since our college is known for its specialty in technology.  Recently, the staff received an article from the Chronicle of Higher Education. The title was  Academic Library Autopsy Report 2050.” Although the projection is 39 years from now, at which time I’d be too old to work, it’s a bit disconcerting.

As a child, the library has been a sanctuary to me.  Even in high school, when other girls would sit and gossip, I’d rather be in the library, trying to find obscure books that I think would be interesting.  Yes, pretty nerdy, but I wanted to be a writer and with that dream always comes with the infatuation with books.

The article is about the academic library but could trickle down to public libraries as well.   With the proliferation of electronic devices, it’s more convenient to read an eBook.  Even textbooks are beginning to take that format.  Of course if these libraries go away, one would assume so would the librarians.  In the meantime, I beg to disagree but maybe in 2050 librarians would serve a different purpose.  To be a librarian before one needed a Masters in Library Science but the degree is now called Masters in Library and Information Science.

It’s only 2011.  I teach library classes because this form of information is relatively new and maybe 40 years from now, babies will be born knowing how to use every kind of technology.  It’s an exciting concept, to go digital all the way.

But dear readers and writers, you who love books, have you ever felt your heart jump at the sight of a stack of new books?  I love the smell of new paper.  I love to see the different textures, sizes, colors, papers, and book art.  I get giddy when I see a wall filled with books.  Old books give me a sense of stepping into the past and I wonder who has read this book before.  I am saddened when I discover a wonderful book and the the checkout card is empty except for my due date.

What I’m saying is humans are tactile and visual beings.  Our senses are engaged with everything we do.  As much as I enjoy my Nook, I’ve never hugged it when I finished reading a book that touched me.  I never run my fingers over the screen because it would get fingerprints.  I can’t display it on a shelf or resell the books once I’ve read them.  I still think that walking a library corridor with bookshelves taller than me is one of the most edifying experiences.  A friend of mine, who has three Masters and is going for a PhD, once said to me, “Walking into a library makes me feel that there is so much I still don’t know.”  Not to say that an online library won’t make you feel nauseated from information overload but the musty. dusty volumes have a more dramatic effect.   My writing mentor told me before that she loved the scent of old books.  You won’t get that from Kindle.

I don’t think children will truly be entertained by electronic books.  Pop-up and textured books can’t be digital.  What about books that are scented?  Kids like those.  Besides, not everyone can afford an iPad.

Sometimes I wonder if someday, the physical library will become unnecessary but when a student tells me they want a real book, it gives me hope that all is not lost.  I embrace technology and it greatly enhances learning but limits should be set.  We don’t want to morph into creatures who sit in front of or carry a screen to connect to the world.  In the movie “Gamer” there is a morbidly obese character who lived vicariously through a sim game and it was disturbing.

We should all still be able to enjoy sitting on a bench and reading a book on a sunny day.  Or huddle in a quiet corner of the library on a rainy one.  Why give up on life’s little pleasures?