Archive for April 2010
I was directed to a couple of articles by PublishersWkly on Twitter. Very interesting articles and I feel it important enough to share them with you and give you my thoughts. The first article is Faking Nice in the Blogosphere: Women and Book Reviews by Sarah McCarry, I felt this was a fairly straightforward rant and led quite nicely into the second article, Faking It by Liz B. Liz takes McCarry’s article to pieces and examines it in detail, making us understand that this isn’t a ‘girls club’ and we, as book bloggers, don’t have to say a book is good just because the author is female and that we shouldn’t take their race or colour into account when writing a review. Liz is fairly scathing about McCarry’s article and has linked to other articles on the same topic.
This is actually a fairly important issue. It’s a bit like the ‘boys club’ where the boys get together, have good times and nothing is said to the wives about what they’ve done. It’s been done throughout the centuries in so many different cultures and in so many different ways and you’d really need an historian to do the topic justice. I don’t do that sort of thing. I try to tell it as I see it. I don’t make excuses for race, colour, creed or sex. I don’t care if they black, white or pink with purple spots, male, female or a mixture of both, if I think they’ve created a bad book then I’ll say that. If I think their book is the best in the world then I’ll say that too. I do try not to say anything derogatory about the author even if I know them as I’m focussing on the book and not the author. I’m rather upset that I’ve been lumped into a category of book bloggers who say nice things about a book for the sole reason that it was written by a women. I know some women writers who really shouldn’t give up their day jobs, I just haven’t reviewed their books on here yet. I felt quite liberated by Liz’s article and also as if she’s been reading my blog and giving me support. I’m prepared to bet she’s never heard of me, but that’s just how I feel.
I was talking to Arnold Zable the other week and happened to tell him I hadn’t seen his books in op shops or secondhand bookshops too often. I’ve seen so many other authors but not his. A couple of authors I’ve seen come up so many times are Dan Brown and Robert Ludlum. Ludlum writes a quite nice thriller but very formulaic while Brown has interesting ideas but his books are not terribly good. I’ve read quite a number of Ludlum’s and have only recently disposed of my collection so I feel I can actually talk intelligently about them, but I’ve only read one by Brown and that’s The Da Vinci Code. I was not impressed by this book, I felt it had so many holes and the writing was just okay, if I’d been at home I wouldn’t have bothered finishing it. Now, what I’m wondering is if it’s an honour or a slur on their writing if you see a secondhand book on sale somewhere. I’m guessing the more copies you see the more likely it is to be a slur. Ludlum and Brown probably generate a huge number of copies of their books and it makes it so easy to get new ones so people probably just dispose of them willy nilly. Authors like Zable, on the other hand, generate far fewer copies of their books and as their writing is so much better then I’d suggest you’d be much less likely to find the books being sold secondhand as people would be more likely to keep them to read again.
I found this lovely article the other day Stars of the Stalls and it talks about booksellers on streetcorners in New York City. It’s an interesting idea and I’d love to see it in action and the author, Simon Akam, talks about his survey of the books and his findings. He even shows us the top 19 books as shown by the number of copies he saw. What I found interesting about this article is the list of books. Most of the authors are top notch literary authors with only a couple of exceptions. The biggest exception I know of is Ian McEwan, now I’m told his latest book, Solar, is not as good as his earlier ones, but I would never have listed him in literary authors. One of the things he discusses is whether it is an honour or a slur to be found in secondhand bookshops.
I’m taking an idea from my friend, Lee at Quit Your Day Job. He did a post that wasn’t a post and so am I.
I’ve had a grotty week. Anzac Day was fine, but it took Monday out of my week and Monday is generally a good day for getting things done, Tuesday morning I developed a migraine and as at the time of writing it’s still with me. I’ve kept going through the pain and discomfort as it’s not a terribly bad one as migraines go, but it’s made my thinking a bit fuzzy and I’m hoping I’ve made good decisions during this time. I do have to take stock with this as it could be a revisitation of the migraines I had when the kids were young, they were hormone based and lasted three whole weeks, the pain did improve a little each day but it still lasted for three weeks. There are other things that could be causing them and I’m going to take the easy option for the next few nights and wear my mouthguard. If you get lots of migraines then I suggest you give Dr James Boyd a visit and read up about bruxism and why it can cause migraines. My two possible main causes could be bruxism and that’s fixed by wearing the mouthguard for a few nights or hormones and that could be fixed by adjusting my diet for several weeks. I do not like adjusting my diet as it involves getting rid of all the yummy things such as coffee, tea, chocolate as well as several other foods; this explains why I’ll try the mouthguard first.
I’m going to make myself a light box. Today was the first day I had a chance of taking photos as the light was about right and the rain held off and both of these events coincided with me actually remembering to take photos. I took photos of three boxes mostly full with science fiction and fantasy. It was a wonderful time as these are my favourite genres and it’s been a while since I got these books so I’d quite forgotten which books were there. I knew about the Edgar Rice Burroughs, but had quite forgotten about Clifford Simak, Larry Niven, Orson Scott Card and other great authors so it was quite an adventure to work my way through the books exclaiming over my favourites. It’s going to be much easier to plan my week if I have a light box and it will ensure I won’t be at the vagaries of the weather. I read some instructions written by another Melburnian blogger, Darren Rowse, and somewhere on his website I read how to make a lightbox. It’s a good thing I remember the details as I can’t find the article any more. I’ve got my box and I now just need some light, white fabric or tissue paper and the rest is easy. Hopefully it will make my books look that much better.
It’s the weekend many geeks and pop culture aficionados look forward to, and I nearly forgot about it! Luckily, I had a friend volunteering at Supanova who reminded me, and shortly after I read an email from my studio lecturer who knows this kind of event is “right up my alley”.
I and my pop expo buddy went together, endeavouring to come early. I’m glad Supanova’s held at the Showgrounds because that makes my life much easier by being able to drive in, rather than slugging my way into the city via public transport! Naturally the queue was already in full swing when we arrived. I was dreading the organisation and logistics of the event, as my personal experience knows how poor they tend to be, but I have to congratulate the organisers for being generally efficient, and hiring firm but approachable volunteers. I think the average queuing time was just 30 minutes or less, which is a very good figure, considering how notoriously long waiting can be at conventions.
Usually I try to set a budget limit (I see the comic book stalls and my mindset goes into instant WANT WANT WANT mantra), but given the quite fantastic celebrity line-up I decided to “splurge” a tad more than what I normally would. Without a doubt I eagerly signed up for James Marsters (photo and autograph, of course!) of Buffy and Torchwood fame, plus Gareth David-Lloyd, seen in Torchwood and Doctor Who. Given the immense popularity of these guys, especially James, there was little time to converse with them at some length. Add to that I was just so starstruck that I could barely string a “Hi!” with a “How are you?” No matter how many famous people you meet, you just can’t get over the fact you’re seeing them face to face! And that they’re talking to you, acknowledging your existence by the fact that you’re standing there in front of them! James was coming down with some bug, so close contact and hugs were out of bounds, unfortunately! But people got creative in their restrictions, which was fun to see! Awe aside, that was $150 down the drain just to grab hold of the fifteen minutes with fame, and I don’t regret it!
Later, I went on a hunt for comic books by the guest artists. There was quite a varied turnout of talents, both writers and artists, but I was mainly interested in George Perez and Marv Wolfman, both of whom revolutionised comics in the 80s and 90s, especially in their work with DC. I forked out quite a bit just to get a lousy laser print of George’s beautiful rendition of Wonder Woman, but I had no choice since that was the only way I could get an additional sketch by George. Still, that sketch made my day blissfully, utterly complete. I spent quite an agonising time beforehand trying to come up with an idea for George to draw for me; ideally I wanted an amorous interlude between Catwoman and Batman, but I suppose that was too ambitious (!). I settled instead for Batman (Bruce Wayne) with his cowl/hood down—a somewhat more intriguing approach to the Dark Knight than say “just Batman” (though George himself did say that was the second request of the same thing!). Add to that George and Marv were absolute darlings—very warm and friendly, and happy to sign autographs and pose for photos. They have my utmost respect and adoration.
Put frankly, I’m glad there are only two major pop culture conventions in a year in Melbourne—Supanova usually in April, and Armageddon in October—because in a place such as this, I run wild with fangirlish madness; consequently my savings get hard hit, but you know, that’s what the months in between compensate for. I wouldn’t really have it any other way!
Thanks to Suzie for inviting me to guest blog!
[editor: thanks should go to your for your fabulous post]
Jennifer Wu is a graphic designer based in Melbourne, Australia. Her work and life is largely (absolutely!) informed by her passion for popular culture and history through the ages. She likes to think she has a way with words and images. Currently she is channelling her obsession for kitsch, collecting and the culture of excess in a major project for her Honours degree. She welcomes any comments or questions! You can catch her on Twitter or see her blog and work.
There are very few ‘stars’ I’d really like to meet. One of the very few is James Marsters and he was recently in Melbourne as a special guest of Supanova. I wasn’t able to get there and this is probably a good thing as I don’t think my OH would have willingly let me go see him as James Marsters trumps him in the sex appeal stakes. May not have been a good thing for our relationship. Supanova is big, in fact, it’s mega. It is a pop culture expo and was held at the Melbourne Showgrounds from 16th to 18th April. It has so many pop culture stars from so many parts of the industry. Not only were there actors but also comic book artists. If you’re in Sydney or Perth your pleasure is yet to happen as it’s not due in either of those cities until June.
As I wasn’t able to get to Supanova I’ve asked other people to write about their experiences for this blog. I know Jen through Twitter and I know of her love of kitsch, I’ve also read her writing and have seen her photos. She is multitalented and tomorrow you will see why I asked her to write for me. She’s also really gorgeous in both physical looks and character but I really shouldn’t be saying things like that. She’s been very kind to me and has not given me the James Marsters photo but has given me a couple of other fabulous photos to show you. All will be revealed tomorrow.
There are some very interesting words and phrases in English which people use and they’re often used out of context. Here are a few examples and I’m sure you can come up with some more. If you’ve studied English Language you’ll know more than me as these are only the ones I’ve observed.
Yeah no. This is an interesting one and there are a number of different reasons it’s used. I use it when I’m agreeing and disagreeing with different parts of the statement or when I’m answering the question and suddenly realise I’ve answered the wrong way.
An’ that. This is one of my pet peeves. People use it at the end of sentences and they generally don’t realise they’re saying it. I know one person who uses it to finish off whatever she’s saying. It gets old very quickly.
‘Like’ is another one. It’s one of my daughters’ favourite words to hate. Teenagers often use it in the wrong place. They’re not really telling you they like something or that something is like something else, it’s just a filler word.
I mean! I’m constantly catching myself thinking this phrase. It’s always used in context, but if you use it too much it just becomes annoying and I guarantee I use it way too much.
Nothing worse than… This is one of my major bugbears. When someone tells you there’s ‘nothing worse than…’ they’re being fairly specific and not looking at the bigger picture. I’m not quite certain what the worst thing could be but I’ll throw in a few suggestions:
I would have to say that having food caught between your teeth pales compared to any of these.
This is absolutely nothing about books it was just an interesting interlude earlier this evening. I was driving along Tooronga Road, Hawthorn East and there was a traffic holdup. Nothing major, just a car not moving. When I finally got to it I noticed the driver was asleep, before I could do anything the car in front of me pulled over into front of the stationary car, two young ladies popped out and opened the driver’s door. Everything must have been okay as they were only there for a few seconds and they were able to get back into their car fairly quickly with all cars able to move smartly off with the change in lights. I only mention it as it’s nice to be able to applaud their actions.
Trying to revamp the fan page on Facebook and I’ve come up against a major stumbling block. There’s a particular button I’m meant to be clicking on which will open up a whole world of information and things to work on but this button is not there. I’m hoping to be able to unveil the revamped fan page in a month’s time but unless this button turns up on another day then it’s not going to happen.
Actually, I don’t really have a lot to say tonight. I’m going to have to finish with a gratuitous plug for the sale that’s happening over at Suz’s Space. And another gratuitous plug for Mum’s Night Out, get your tickets and be there or be some strange shape for a person. I’ll be there, I’m hoping they’ll let me dress up and I might go as a parcel.
This is a quick article tonight as I’ve been working really hard at other parts of the business and haven’t really had a chance to write anything. I have a treat coming up later this week, a guest poster is coming onboard and will give us all a real treat, details will be revealed in due course.
I’ve been kicking myself the last few minutes, I have a list to show you and have completely forgotten who directed me to it. It was someone on Twitter and if they happen to remember posting the link they should contact me so I can credit them.
Anyway, tonight I’m looking at the Top 100 Children’s Books. This list was put together out of 318 surveys with 10 books each. Bear in mind it’s from a School Library Journal so the votes are bound to be rather different than if the survey had been exclusively parents or exclusively children. I was delighted to find one of my all-time favourite books in number one position, Charlotte’s Web, just a fabulous book and I know I’m not the only one who enjoyed it as they made a movie out of it. I read through it fairly carefully and there are 32 books I’m fairly certain I’ve read and a number of others I might have read but I can’t be certain about. I’d intrigued about everyone else. How many of these books have you read? Maybe I should also be asking your demographic…but I won’t as that means I’d have to answer the same question and I never admit to being any older than 18.
I will pick out one other book and that is The Phantom Tollbooth. It’s a book I discovered only a few years ago and I was so glad I’d opened it up, it’s a really good book about letting your imagination take you places.
This is about his father, their relationship together and included a lot about his siblings and mother. They all seem quite intriguing characters and made me feel like I wished I’d grown up with them. It seemed like quite an idyllic childhood with a father who talked to the people on the TV and a mother who bashed out tunes on the car horn. With parents like that it would be hard not to grow up with a rather quirky attitude. McInnes grew up in Redcliffe, Queensland during the time of Sir “Joh” Bjelke-Petersen. He is married to director, Sarah Watt; you might have seen him in Blue Heelers or Sea Change.
I do like his style of writing, it is very friendly and open while containing a massive amount of information. He starts off in the present with a yarn about what he’s doing and uses that as a springboard to delve back into the past to show us a number of anecdotes connected with whatever he’s doing, finally connecting the dots back to finish the yarn about the present. In the first part he’s looking for a phone number and describing the room where the phone is meant to be which in turn takes him back into the past to describe some neighbours, his parents, his siblings and their interesting meal times and finally takes us full circle, back into the present back into the room where he’s searching for the phone number. He hasn’t managed to find the phone number as he’s been totally distracted and eventually just puts the search to one side to go outside and look at the house with just time enough for another anecdote and a meeting with an old neighbour. It’s a fabulous method of writing and I loved reading the book and watching him do this time and time again.
Laughter which may happen explosively at any time.
When I first started writing this blog it was purely for myself because I had to write. I was under no illusions that anyone else would want to read my blog and made no efforts to tell lots of people about it. I did tell a couple of people but I still have many family and friends who don’t know I write and some who know I write but don’t know where to find me. I had no idea how long I’d be writing for and knew I wouldn’t be able to write every day. I was totally thrown aback to find I had readers two hours after publishing my first article. I have no idea if they’ve been back but I had two people visit my very first article within two hours and I was stoked.
At one stage I was attending some business classes and one of our lessons was all about what we should put in our newsletters and blogs. By the end of the lesson I had a few ideas written down and I went home, mentioned it to my eldest whose brain promptly went into overdrive. I started typing everything up and eventually gave up as I can’t type as fast as she can speak; I surrendered my computer to her and at the end had 12 pages of thoughts for newsletters and blogs. I have to admit to having used very few of them as I seem to have an endless stream of ideas thanks to people on Twitter and I fill in some of the gaps with my thoughts on books I’ve read.
Fast forward to now and the first anniversary of my first article is coming up next Thursday. It’s a very exciting time and I’ve been looking forward to having a sale on my website and I think the time has come to do exactly that. I’ll try and list a few more books first as I was hoping to get to 1,000+ books before having a sale but sometime before Thursday of next week i.e. 22nd April, I will launch the sale. I’ve never tried doing a sale on the website so the first person to prove it works will receive free postage across Australia for their order. If you happen to live outside of Australia then I’ll reduce the postage by $AUS10.
Thank you to my readers, thank you to those who’ve posted comments and also to those who have thought about what I’ve written. It’s going to be onwards and upwards for the forthcoming year!