Monday, August 29, 2011

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks was a very interesting book. The book follows the fictional character Hanna, a conservator of old books, as she stabilizes & studies the Sarajevo Haggadah, a real Jewish book that is over 500 years old. As Hanna explores the book, she finds various types of damage & small objects (such as an insect wing) which she takes to professionals she knows in order to have them identified. As she learns about each incident of damage or object, the story changes from that of Hanna to a story describing how that damage or object came to be in the Haggadah. Although Hanna doesn't know the exact stories, the reader learns not only the details of the damages or objects but also the stories of the people associated with them. The stories of the Haggadah start with the most recent one when the book survived World War II & proceed in reverse chronological order until the book was made in Spain & even before it was even bound. These stories were like mini-books in themselves--lengthy descriptions of the people & their circumstances, ranging from Sarajevo during World War II to Spain during the Inquisition.
I enjoyed this book mainly for its stories of the Haggadah's past, but Hanna's story as she worked with the Haggadah was its own story also. Instead of actually reading this book, I listened to the audiobook that was narrated by Edwina Wren. I admit that a lot of my enjoyment of People of the Book came from the narrator. Since Hanna, an Australian, tells her story in first person, the narrator is Australian so listening to her accent was enjoyable. Also, though, the narrator used several accents throughout the book as characters from Sarajevo, Italy, Spain, & more places appeared in the stories. I also enjoyed these accents used by the narrator. While listening to the audiobook of People of the Book made the book even better for me, the book itself is a good story, & I would definitely suggest it to anyone looking for a good historical fiction book.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

2011 Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market by Alice Pope

I do not have the book in front of me at this minute, so I cannot properly attribute the writer of an article I found in the 2011 Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market by Alice Pope.

Although I have a published book, it has been 11 years since it was accepted and 9 years since it came out in print.  I wanted to read the articles in this Writer's Market so I could find out about the current needs of editors and agents.  The articles were indeed enlightening.

One article concluded that it is hard work to get a story in order for submission, it is hard to get published, and you probably won't be able to quit your day job.  I thought, "Well, that's encouraging." (Read that with some sarcasm.)  The oddest thing about the article was that it was trying to make all those difficulties sound like a good thing, a happy thing. 

I still plan to do some writing and submitting.  I did already know about those issues and have managed to get a foot in the door anyway.  So here's to finding gold in the rest of the book.

Kathi Linz

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

From September 24 to October 1, libraries everywhere will be observing Banned Books Week. Books banned (or challenged) will appear in library displays to encourage customers to free their minds and read a banned book. The Glass Castle, a memoir by Jeannette Walls is one such book. Challenged for its profanity, criticism of Christianity, accounts of sexual abuse and prostitution, it is the amazing story of an unusual family.
Jeannette, a brother and two sisters grew up in an ever-changing environment. Moving from town to town, the family often “skedaddled” in the middle of the night. They camped in the mountains and in deserted desert towns. They slept in their car and in cardboard boxes
Jeannette’s father, Rex, was brilliant, a dreamer and an alcoholic. Her mother, Rose Mary, a would-be artist, preferred creating a painting to cooking a meal for her children. Both father and mother had an unconventional attitude about childrearing. The four Walls children basically raised themselves. Jeanette was three years old when she was seriously burned while cooking her own supper.
However, the children learned to read from their father, who also left them with dreams of a “glass castle.” Their upbringing was both a curse and a blessing. Cursed with embarrassing situations, like having to wear shoes held together with safety pins. Blessed with the desire to move forward and better themselves.
Walls was a respected journalist before writing The Glass Castle, revealing the truth of her childhood after twenty years of hiding her past. The “challenged” situations in her memoir are part of her history and need to be told. Despite poverty, fire, embarrassment, and near starvation, she tells the touching story of the Walls family with honesty and love.
Jane Kaufman

Monday, August 22, 2011

101 Weird Ways to Make Money by Steve Gillman

I didn't put the whole title in the heading.  It goes like this:  101 Weird Ways to Make Money: Cricket Farming, Repossessing Cars, and Other Jobs with Big Upside and Not Much Competition by Steve Gillman.

According to the introduction, this author has tried many of the jobs in this book or ones similar to them.  Did you know that there is a viable market for selling maggots?  Maybe you have a clean gene.  How about diaper service or crime scene clean-up?

Want a green business?  There's information on solar-roasted coffee, recycling electronic waste, and old oil-tank removal.

Are you computer savvy?  Maybe you can sell virtual real estate in game worlds or buy and sell domain names.

It seems like there is something possible for almost anyone in this book.  I noted a couple I thought were especially relevant to my skills, but not maggot farming.  lol

Kathi Linz

Write a Marketable Children's Book in Seven Weeks by Shirley Raye Redmond and Jennifer McKerley

I've read a LOT of books on how to write books, especially children's books. If you want clear, concise, easy-to-understand directions, then pick up Write a Marketable Children's Book in Seven Weeks by Shirley Raye Redmond and Jennifer McKerley. Very practical, very simple, lots of good illustrations and samples.

Kathi Linz

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Starting from Scratch: A Different Kind of Writer's Manual by Rita Mae Brown

Lately, I've thought about doing some more writing, so I picked up a couple of books by writers on how to write and sell your work. 

The first one I read was Starting from Scratch: A Different Kind of Writer's Manual by Rita Mae Brown.  It really does have some different ideas.  No other writer's manual that I've ever seen talks about physical exercise as a way to improve one's writing.  Actually, she has several good points in that chapter.

I'm not so keen on the chapter that says that I need to learn Latin to write well.  I have an excellent grasp on the roots of many English words, be they Latin-by-way-of-France, Greek, Spanish, Germanic, or Native American.

I especially will not follow her advice about using a fountain pen or Selectric typewriter instead of a computer.  No editor would take the manuscript. This book was written in 1988.

Rita, how about an update?

Kathi Linz

Monday, August 1, 2011

Flight to Heaven: A Pilot's True Story, a Plane Crash...a lone survivor... a Journey to Heaven-- and Back by Capt. Dale Black

I liked Flight to Heaven: A Pilot's True Story, a Plane Crash...a Lone Survivor... a Journey to Heaven-- and Back by Capt. Dale Black better than 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper. 

Dale Black's death or near-death experience changed him for the rest of his life.  As many of these stories are, this is as much about the accident and recovery period as it is about heaven.  In Dale's case, he becomes an airline pilot and a mission pilot in Africa.  You find out about an emergency landing in Zambia years after Dale's near-fatal crash when the entire country is in blackout conditions and the airport is shut down.  He and the members of his team are immediately arrested and spend the night witnessing to their jailers.

I found this book to be very satsifying. 

Kathi Linz