Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

IMG_5005-cropIf you’re like me, you’ve been saddened and horrified at the crisis in Attawapiskat, Ontario. The thought of these young people with so little hope for the future, that children as young as ten years old would contemplate suicide, is a terrible one.

And if you’re like me, you feel helpless to do anything about it. Most of the problems in the country–in the world–are too big, too overwhelming for individuals to contemplate. No-one can help everyone. We can donate our time and money to organizations who might provide assistance, but beyond that, it’s hard to imagine being able to do anything on a personal level.

However, the youth in this isolated community have identified some things that they feel would help their situation. And one of those things is a library.

As a writer, I know the power of a library to change lives; when I was young, our local library was one of my favorite places, and I know that I have become who I am today partly because of those books. They took me places and showed me things that helped to shape my life. I think that all children should have the opportunities that libraries offer: to read, discover, learn, escape, and imagine. I’ve been a library volunteer at a local elementary school for over ten years, and stayed on long after my own children were gone from the school, partly because of that belief.

And now, instead of simply reading stories, I tell them, too. So today I acted on an idea that popped into my head a couple of days ago. I packed up a few of my titles and mailed them to the Attawapiskat First Nation. I told them, in my letter, that I hoped the books might form part of the library they want to build.

It’s a small thing. But even though, as I said above, no-one can help everyone, we can each help someone. And so I’m challenging other Canadian writers to do the same as I’ve done. I’m sure that many of us (probably most) have extra copies of our own books, ARCs, or promotional copies filling shelves, filing cabinets, or boxes. Imagine if we all picked out something appropriate and sent it off with a word of encouragement.

The power of books. The power of libraries. The power of writers.

Imagine.

The address is: Youth in Attawapiskat, P.O. Box 248, Attawapiskat, Ontario, P0L 1A0

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

Rumsey-nova scotiaWhew! That week went fast, and it was a busy one.

Yes, that’s a map of Nova Scotia on the side, including Cape Breton. We’re in the news so much lately, of course I have to try and capitalize on that. After all, my desk IS in Cape Breton, right? And this report is coming from my desk. So it’s not such a stretch. ;) #capebreton

Most notably this week, I wrote a new short story–in a day. That never happens! My short stories are rarely all that short, and they normally take weeks or more to come into being. But this one just popped into my head and I wrote it. Boom. It also sparked the idea for several more, which are currently rattling around in my brain. Possibly a whole project’s worth. But we’ll have to wait and see what comes of it all. I was also moved to pick up an old, abandoned story and work on it some more. I think I still haven’t solved the main problem that stalled me on that one before, but I’m a lot closer to having it figured out.

I also made some inroads in the novel draft. Finally! It has been a dark two months on that front, and it’s only now that I’m coming out of it that I realize I really was stuck in a bout of the winter blues. Well, let’s call it what it is: seasonal affective disorder. I’m fortunate to get reasonably mild symptoms and to have discovered over the years that I can take steps to alleviate it–most notably, keeping active and spending daily time with a full-spectrum light. However, sometimes it takes me a little while (read, weeks) to clue in to what’s actually going on. Duh. I should set a reminder for myself now, scheduled to pop up next January, that says, “start walking and get out your Ott light!” Anyway, I figured it out eventually and am no longer spending long hours playing Animal Crossing and subsisting on chocolate chips.

Here’s something new happening: this excitement will be dropping around the middle of the month, and I’ve just seen the cover art:Rogues 3D_01Awesome! This looks like a great bundle (put together by Tyche Books) and a smart way to start on some really cool series. I’ll be sharing links and more when it goes live, so stay tuned!

I had a Writers In The Schools visit this week at the local high school and as usual, the kids and teachers were great to work with. Two more scheduled before the school year is up!

Things I researched this week:

  • names for parts of bagpipes
  • Cape Breton fiddle music
  • 19th c. highland dress
  • the birds of Rhiannon
  • Celtic deities

…a definite theme happening there. More on that later…

*Map: Mackinlay’s map of the Province of Nova Scotia, including the island of Cape Breton. – David Rumsey Historical Map Collection

 

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

  
This little gem came to light yesterday and generated a thrill of memory for me. This book was one of my favorites when I was young, and I would consider it a foundational influence on my reading and writing tastes.

It was probably one of my first introductions to “mystery” as a genre, and features a lot of story in its slim 80 pages. Kidnapping in the name of love! Trial by jury! Prison and escape! Vengeance and redemption! I read it countless times and I’m not sure what ever happened to the copy that lived at our house, but I’m sure glad to have one again now. 

I think I’ll curl up and read it today. :)

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

Paper_StackThe July issue (okay, the first issue!) of my Writing News newsletter is out. I hope to make this a regular feature; this issue includes some news items, reading recommendations, and writing thoughts. I’ve kept it short and sweet and (I hope) interesting.

If you’re not subscribed yet, you can do so from the bottom of any page on this site, or from the top of the right-hand sidebar on most pages. In the future I’ll be running contests, offering writing tips and book reviews, and adding anything else I think might be of interest. I’m also happy to hear from subscribers (or potential subscribers) about what you’d like to see.

The July issue is available to view online at http://t.co/mLaYkI7fST.

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

MP-cover-FINAL-webIf you missed out on last week’s ARC giveaway or didn’t win, I have a consolation prize for you today. The first chapter of The Murder Prophet is live at my website so you can get a taste of the book.

As I’ve mentioned before, it’s a quirky story, a mashup of urban fantasy (not the sort with vampires, werewolves, or faerie folk) and mystery, flavoured with romance and humour. If you enjoy things like Janet Evanovich’s Lizzy & Diesel books, or Laura Resnick’s Esther Diamond books, or Kevin J. Anderson’s Dan Shamble, Zombie PI series, I think (without comparing myself to these authors!) there’s a good chance you’ll like The Murder Prophet.

Anyway, Chapter One is here, so check it out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

Library_Pataskala_025I’m working my way through my 52-book Goodreads Reading Challenge–a little bit behind, mainly because of writing projects. I haven’t done an actual survey of what I’ve read this year, but I’m going to guess that they’d shake out like this by format: Audio, then Ebook, then Print.

(Well, now that I’ve wondered about it, I DO have to go and check.) Yup, confirmed. Print is at the bottom of the list.

It’s not that I don’t like print books anymore. It’s a matter of convenience–I can multitask and do stuff around the house and garden while I listen to audiobooks. I can easily have an ebook with me wherever I go, on one of my ereaders or even my phone. So while I still love the print format, it’s harder to find space for it in my life.

But not in the summer.

Perhaps because reading print books has become more of an indulgence, they seem to go best with summer reading. I usually devour books in the summertime, and one of the things I love best is the Summer Library Read.

This is the book that you had never heard of before you stopped into the library today. It’s probably the book you wouldn’t be quick to buy, because you know nothing about it, and little about the author. But as you ran your eyes and fingers along the shelf, it spoke to you. The spine caught your eye. The title intrigued. The blurb piqued your interest.

And there was nothing to stop you from giving it a try. Zero committment. Nothing down, nothing to pay (unless you don’t return it on time). You just picked it up, took it to the desk, and then walked out with it. And you’ll settle in to read it at the most indulgent times. When you’re up late because it’s vacation and you don’t have to set the alarm. When you’re at the beach. At the cottage. Sitting out on your step with a cold drink and a bit of shade. Indulging your love of print books, and library books, and the absolute joy of discovering something wonderful and new.

The summer library read. If you haven’t tried it lately, I recommend you give it a whirl. You never know what you might find.

Photo credit: click at Morguefile.com

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

What are you looking at?
Well, I can’t yet, but I will be able to, soon. I had one of my slightly too-infrequent visits to the eye doctor today and I was right in suspecting that I need new glasses.


However, once you’re over *cough* a certain age, you expect this will happen with increasing regularity as your eyesight begins to get worse. The doctor confirmed what I had suspected previous to this visit but felt kind of ridiculous suggesting: my eyesight has actually improved. My current glasses are too strong.


I remarked on the apparent strangeness of that and he shrugged and said, “sometimes it happens.” So there you have it. I’m not super special, just a little bit special, I guess.


Anyway, I’m glad to learn that sitting in front of screens for much of the day has had no adverse affects–at least not on my vision. Viewed from a different angle, the verdict might also be slightly different.


Photo credit: krosseel

OATTS cover-smYes, the ebook of ONE'S ASPECT TO THE SUN is on sale today for only .99! If you haven't picked up a copy yet, this is a great time to do so.

http://tinyurl.com/kowo3j8

About the novel | Goodreads reviews | Amazon reviews

As this sale happens, I'm installed at my desk, hard at work on the sequel, Dark Beneath the Moon. Although One's Aspect is a stand-alone novel, I've had many questions about and requests for a sequel, and who could say "no" to that? There's certainly enough going on in Nearspace to keep the characters busy! Of course I can't give much away at this point, but the shadows of the past loom even larger in this book than they did in the first, leaving Luta and her crew with new aliens, corporate intrigue, and more than a few mysteries to puzzle through.

But in the meantime, you should be reading the first book, so you'll be all set when the next one arrives. It pays to plan ahead, right? :)

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

Yes, we’re all getting a bit tired of “best of” lists, I’m sure, but I did want to muse a bit on the best books I read last year. Of those I read, I gave only five the coveted five-star rating. I generally use Goodreads’ criteria for ratings, which are as follows: 1-star: didn’t like it, 2-star: it was okay, 3-star: liked it, 4-star: really liked it, and 5-star: it was amazing.

So to get five stars from me, a book has to be “amazing”, which I interpret as I-loved-it, I-couldn’t-put-it-down, I-wish-I’d-written-this, I-would-hardly-change-a-thing.

Note that I say I would hardly change a thing, not that I wouldn’t change *anything.* Because that would mean the book was perfect, and I think that’s really too high a standard. Is there such a thing as a perfect book? I suppose that would be a good topic for some other days’ musings…

But on to last year’s 5-star reads. In the order I read them, they were:
1. Feed by Mira Grant
2. Blackout by Mira Grant
3. Deadline by Mira Grant
4. Abaddon’s Gate by James S.A. Corey
5. The Other Normals by Ned Vizzini

feedSo yes, three of these books, the ones by Mira Grant, were a trilogy. It’s a pretty good feat to have all three books in a series be equally good, and at first I didn’t think it would be the case. The author did something at the end of the the first book that almost ruined it for me, and I initially gave the book only 4-stars. I had loved it up to that point, but I didn’t think I could forgive the author for something that I did not think was necessary. However, I was so hooked that I had to go on reading, and after the second book, I was moved to go back and revise the first book’s rating up to five stars. These are zombie apocalypse books and not for the faint of heart, but man, they were *good.*

GateAbaddon’s Gate was the third book in a trilogy as well, and I also gave all three of these books five stars, although the first two I read in 2012. Space opera as space opera should be, I believe I said in one of the reviews. I’m not much of one for writing a synopsis of the book in my reviews–as a writer, synopses are painful things, reserved for my own books and only when necessary–so I will just say that the scope of the story was huge and engrossing and warranted the long length of the novels completely. Despite their size I devoured them.

normalsThe last five-star book of the year is bittersweet for me to talk about, because it was such fun to read and I enjoyed it so much…and then had to somehow reconcile those feelings with news of the author’s death in December. I continue to be saddened by the juxtaposition of his writings and the terrible state of mind he must have suffered. So the five stars are a bit tarnished by that sadness, but it was still a wonderful book.

I read sixty-three books in 2013, a feat which was really only made possible by the number of audiobooks I enjoyed, and one which I am not complacently expecting to meet this year. I’ve set my Goodreads challenge for 55 books, and if I surpass that, of course I will be pleased. There were a number of years when I read less because I was writing more, but I’m glad that trend has turned around. Reading helps me, as a writer, “fill up the tank,” and I think it’s one of the single most effective ways a writer can improve his or her own writing.

I generally read a lot of books in the course of the summer. It’s not that I’m not as busy in the summer–far from it! It’s just that summer reading is…part of summer for me. So last night I wrote up my summer reading list.


I actually have a huge To Be Read list…or rather, not so much a list as a pile…not so much a pile as several piles…and scattered volumes, and ebooks queued and waiting on my Kobo and my phone, and things I want to read but haven’t yet acquired. So, yes, I have a lot of books waiting to be read. You know that t-shirt, the one that says, “So many books, so little time”? I should just be wearing that one all the time. (Because, you know, it works both ways for me, reading AND writing. But anyway…)

So I sat down and looked over all the myriad possibilities and came up with a pared-down list that says “summer reading” to me. I thought I’d share here. And if you’re on Goodreads, you can check up on me there to see how I’m doing.

(The list is in no particular order, just as I came across them.)

Murderous Magick by Michael A. Stackpole
Remake by Connie Willis
Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland… by Catherynne M. Valente
Suspense and Sensibility by Carrie Bebris
Darwin’s Radio by Greg Bear (a book club book, if we get our book club active again–it’s next on our list, IIRC)
Steam and Sorcery by Cindy Spencer Pape
Wit’s End by Karen Joy Fowler (which I started reading last night, actually)
The Jennifer Morgue by Charles Stross
The Strange Case of Finley Jayne by Kady Cross
Industrial Magic by Kelley Armstrong
Barrington Street Blues by Anne Emory
The Native Star by M.K. Hobson
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin
Spiral Hunt by Margaret Ronald
The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma
The Thackeray T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer (eds.)

Heh, no, I have NO illusions that I will read ALL of these books over the summer. If I were taking the summer off from writing I could, but I’m certainly not doing that. But this is likely the list I’ll be choosing from. Unless I see something that catches my eye and I just dive into it. I’m like that, as a reader. The TBR pile is often ignored as I pick up something on a whim. But I like to have room for spontaneity in my reading.



Photo by xandert
While I still have two days left to log writing time for this week, they will be the weekend, so I think it's highly unlikely that I will get to my goal hours this time around.  Maybe it serves me right for getting cocky about how well last week went (614 minutes) and upping my goal by half an hour. When I think about it, though, it was mostly *Rest Of My Life issues that kept me from writing.

I'm really not sure what I can do about that except try to plan better (the things I CAN plan) and try to find catch-up time when the planning doesn't work.

~.~.~

In other news, I came to a huge and sad realization last night.  I need to get rid of some books.

I've been buying books since I was in university and the city offered a variety of used book stores, of which I would make the rounds almost every weekend.  The book acquisition habit has continued over the years, and although I do get more titles from the library these days (especially when trying an author for the first time) I still like to buy books.  Part of me would like to count the number of books in the house--and part of me is afraid to do that.

However, when I was doing some pre-housecleaning housecleaning in the bedroom last week, I realized that I have at least 50+ books in that room alone waiting to be read or in various stages of being read.  And when I do read them--I have nowhere to put them if I want to move new to-be-read books into that space.  Every bookshelf in the house is already packed or over-packed.  I don't see us adding a new room to the house just to hold books.  Sooooo...the only conclusion is that I have to get rid of some.  And while we're planning a Great Purge of the house this spring, the idea of sorting through the books and moving some them out of here is more daunting than all the rest of the things that I know need to be done.

*Sigh*  I wonder if I could convince my husband to add on that extra room...

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