Abibliophobia Strikes Again

Abibliophobia

I’ve suffered from abibliophobia all my life, but until recently I had no idea some kindred soul had coined a name for the problem.  Mind you, there’s no chance of running out of reading material in my house.  Along with the shelves of book I Really Want To Read, there are whole walls of books I can’t give up because I might want to read them again one day.  But I never go anywhere that might involve a waiting room or a meal eaten alone without a book (or these days my Kindle).

The truth is, I’m an incurable bookaholic, and I have no desire to change.  There are far more dangerous (or anti-social) addictions.

A couple of weeks ago I stopped at the local Barnes & Noble, armed with a Christmas gift card, and bought one book, a lovely large volume called Steampunk: An Illustrated History of Fantastical Fiction, Fanciful Film and Other Victorian Visions by Brian J. Robb.  I’d spotted the book on line and bought it brick and mortar; on the same trip I spotted several books at the store to order on line.  I have gift cards for Amazon, too, and they stretch farther.

Yesterday I made another stop at Barnes & Noble, gift card balance in hand, but I didn’t buy anything.  The particular book I was looking for hadn’t hit the shelves yet, and I knew that the box of books I’d ordered from Amazon was due to arrive.  And sometimes I find a bookstore the size of B&N overwhelming.  So many, many books that I would like to read.  So many, many books that I will never have time to read.  So many, many books that I should be writing myself.

book pileWhen I got home from my errand-running rounds, the big box of books from Amazon was waiting on my doorstep.  Four of the books are recently released romances by my Firebird sisters (that group is beginning to make me feel like a serious underachiever!):  Highland Surrender by Tracy Brogan, Midnight Shadows by Carol J. Post, and two by Kim Law, Caught on Camera and Sugar Springs.

Beguiled, by Deeanne Gist and J. Mark Bertrand, is a romantic suspense novel set in Charleston.  Dee used it as an example in her workshop on research, and it was the only one of her books I didn’t have, so when I saw it on sale at Amazon, I clicked it into my cart.  Darynda Jones’ latest tale, Fourth Grave Beneath my Feet is the latest release in her series.  I’m running behind on those; I’ve read First Grave on the Right (a Golden Heart winner), but Fourth Grave will be joining Second and Third on the TBR pile.

For pure mystery, I’d ordered Aaron Elkin’s latest Gideon Oliver novel, Dying on the Vine.  I’ve been reading this series since the beginning.  I’ve also read Marcia Muller’s Sharon McCone novels since the beginning (the latest is wating for me), so I couldn’t resist The Bughouse Affair, the first in a new historical mystery series set in 1890s San Francisco by Muller and her husband, Bill Pronzini.

I should be able to hold off the Heartbreak of Abibliophobia for a good while yet.  Say, the next twenty-five years or so.

Welcome, 2013!

The weather has been grey today, the temperature dropping from a morning high of 57 degrees.  I went out to get my newspaper at 8:30 and haven’t been out the door since.  I spent a chunk of the morning (after reading the paper and watching an old Perry Mason episode) dithering over all the Productive Tasks I thought I should accomplish on my day off.  I have lists of them, on my computer monitor, on scraps of paper, in my head.  Pieces I need to write, tasks for my RWA chapter, sections of the house to clean and declutter, and so on.  I’m not very good at relaxing.

I finally convinced myself that this was a Day Off, for heaven’s sake, and I settled on the couch with Nutmeg the cat, a Mysteries in the Museum marathon running on the background TV, and Janet Evanovich’s Notorious Nineteen.  Stephanie Plum’s insane adventures kept me entertained all afternoon, as she and Lula tracked down a few bad guys, blew up a few cars, and made me laugh out loud more than once.

I haven’t had (or given myself) too many chances to sit down and read a book for a while.  I used to read a hundred or more books a year easily, but it’s harder to do that when you work full time at a paying job and take up writing as your other job.  Doesn’t leave a lot of time, and it’s way too easy to fall asleep over even a good book late at night.

This year I read 39 books.  Yes, I keep a list (you mean not everyone does?).  Ten romances (six on paper, four on Kindle), ranging from Regency (Cheryl Bolen) to steampunk (Zoe Archer), paranormal (Darynda Jones) to inspirational (Deeanne Gist), mostly contemporary settings.  I would read more romance–I have stacks of them To Be Read–if I wasn’t writing romance myself.  I suppose I’m afraid of seepage.  And, of course, if I had more time, because I love other genres, too.

I read nine mystery novels (only one on Kindle) this year, mostly on the humorous end, by Diane Kelly, Elaine Viets, Joan Hess, Susan M. Boyer, and Spencer Quinn, with Marcia Muller on the more serious side and Margaret Maron in the middle.   I only read five science fiction novels (one on Kindle), although it’s not easy to draw a line–Zoe Archer’s romance titles are also science fiction, and Sharon Lynn Fisher’s Ghost Planet is also a romance.

I also read four uncategorized mainstream novels, two on Kindle and two on paper, and eleven non-fiction books (six on Kindle, five on paper).  Of the non-fiction, four were on writing topics and three on social media.  The others included a gorgeously illustrated book on all things steampunk and a massive (but fascinating) biography of Queen Elizabeth II.

Here on my blog, WordPress tells me, I published 81 posts in 2012, with 91 pictures.  I had 21,000 page views (I stand amazed!) by visitors from 96 countries (most of them from the US, with significant numbers from Canada, the UK and Australia).  My most-read posts all concern the TV show Hell on Wheels;  that was hardly my goal when I began blogging, but I do find the show fascinating, and I’m looking forward to the next season.

On the writing front, I’m afraid I’ve been more involved in RWA activities than in actual writing.  I’ve served as president of the West Houston chapter (that’s a chunk of the To Do list on my computer monitor right there), been a finalist in the Golden Heart contest for the second year in a row, and traveled to the RWA national conference in Anaheim.  I’ve written columns and articles for my chapters’ newsletters.  I’ve done quite a bit of editing/revising/polishing, begun a new novel, and I’m learning to use Scrivener.

So, in short, I always have two or three bookmarks in play, even if I don’t get through the books as fast as I used to.  I’m building my “Internet platform,” but only as fast as I enjoy doing so.  And I’m pretty much always planning, plotting, or writing something.  I hope to continue all of this through 2013.  Maybe I’ll even manage to clean the rest of the house and hire someone to do something about my yard.  And remodel the bathrooms.  Maybe.

Happy New Year 2013

RWA Conference: Thursday

On Thursday morning the Conference started in earnest, with half a dozen workshops to choose between in every time slot.  So where did I go first (after hitting the continental breakfast and chatting over coffee and muffins)?  Why, to the Book Fair, of course, where I bought three more books.  (Anyone who stops by here more than once a month knows how much I need more books.)

The first workshop I attended was a presentation by two authors and an editor from Sourcebooks on how sell the book you want to write, the first of many to include the pros and cons of digital self-publishing.  From there I went to a hour on “Writing Intimacy Across Genres,” both because the topic interests me and because three of the five presenters, Shana Galen (historical), Deeanne Gist (inspirational), and Sophie Jordan (young adult), are my chapter sisters from West Houston RWA.  I managed one more workshop before lunch, Voice Lessons: How to Pinpoint and Develop Your Voice, given by Darynda Jones and Liz Talley.  I love discussions of voice, as everyone (including me) attributes my wildly erratic contest results to a strong voice.  As good a reason as any, and more comforting than most.

At lunch, where I shared a table with old friends, new friends, and one three-month-old hero-in-training (the infant son of Firebird Liz Bemis), best-selling author Stephanie Laurens gave a keynote speech, “Weathering the Transition,” that truly struck the note of author power and publishing shift that carried throughout the Conference.  I’m not going to try to summarize it because you can read the whole thing (and see the illustrations) HERE on Stephanie’s web site.  Go read it.  Right now.  I’ll wait for you.

We were also treated to a preview of Love Between the Covers, a documentary film under construction (with a start-up grant from RWA) by The Popular Romance Project.  You can watch it yourself HERE.

By this time I already knew that not only was I unavoidably missing a lot of good workshops, even the ones I was attending were beginning to swim together in my fuzzy brain, so I stopped to order the Conference recordings, available every year from Bill Stephens Productions.  CDs containing the most popular workshops from the last two Conferences were also available at the booth, so I picked up one of each (haven’t had a chance to listen yet).

After one early afternoon workshop on using emotion in writing (Make ’em Cry, Make ’em Scream, Make ’em Laugh), I went to the Annual General Meeting of RWA, mostly because I’d never been to one, and because I’m a chapter president this year and felt I should have something I could report back to WHRWA.  The current membership of RWA is 10,051, making a quorum of only 10% a mere 1,005 members.  116 showed up.  Not the most popular event at the Conference.  Nothing was up for a vote this year, so the various board members (a very hard-working and under-appreciated team) cheerfully gave their reports.  There was, in fact, some interesting news, mostly of interest to RWA members, regarding changes in the Rita and Golden Heart contests, which has caused considerable discussion on various web sites and Yahoo loops.

After a pass through the Goody Room (where authors leave piles of promotional material, including free books, of which I picked up two more), I joined a group of Starcatchers at a very pleasant local Italian restaurant called Carolina’s for dinner and conversation.

Here are the books I brought back from the Conference.  The short stack I bought, but the books in the tall stack were freebies, in the tote bags, in the chairs at lunch, and in the Goody Room.  Talk about a Book Lover’s Heaven.  Some of the folks (local readers, I’m sure) left the Literacy Signing on Wednesday night with armloads of books they could barely see over.

Recent Reading

I managed to finish reading a couple of books last weekend, not that I’m in any danger of catching up with the To Be Read shelves, and I can’t even remember what’s on my Kindle.  But I do my best.  This afternoon at work I had a job to do that involved recoding information on an online bookkeeping site (the client and her business are located several states away).  The software is slow to begin with.  My work computer is several years old and still runs Windows XP and IE8.  After each transaction, the screen refreshed so slowly that to keep from banging my head on the desk I pulled out my Kindle and found I could read a page or so while the screen was blank.  I’m not kidding.  I spent an hour and a half making those corrections as fast as the computer could handle them–and reading while I waited for each one to process.  Heck of a way to read, but better than staring at that blank screen in frustration.

I recently finished reading James Scott Bell’s Conflict & Suspense on my Kindle–excellent book.  I really enjoy Bell’s writing on writing–one of these days I’ll have to try one of his novels.  Here’s the review I wrote for the Houston Bay Area RWA newsletter.  (I also posted a review of Bell’s Plot & Structure here.)

A couple of weeks ago I read Darynda Jones’ First Grave on the Right, a book that won a Golden Heart® in 2009.  Three years later it’s on the shelves with two sequels, and another due out this fall.  I’ve only read the first one (but there are two more on my TBR stack), and I enjoyed it thoroughly.  It’s a humorous blend of mystery and romance, with a heroine who is a “part-time private investigator and full-time grim reaper.”  Charlie sees dead people, which isn’t always as much of an advantage in her p.i. work as you might imagine.  As for the hero, if that’s what he is, well, Charlie spends the span of the book trying to figure out what he is. 

Next I read Joan Hess’ latest Claire Malloy mystery, Deader Homes and Gardens.  I’ve been reading this series (and Hess’ Maggody mysteries, too) since it began, and wouldn’t miss one.  Deader Homes moved a little more slowly than most–or possibly I was just reading more slowly.  The large cast was occasionally confusing, but Claire’s daughter Caron and her BFF Inez (approaching their senior year in high school) got themselves into as much trouble as usual while helping Claire in her unofficial sleuthing.  And Claire, as usual, gets to the bottom of things in her own unconventional way.  She continues to be one of my favorite cozy detectives.

Looking for a change of pace, I opened Zoe Archer’s Collision Course on my Kindle.  This is a very short novel, published by Carina Press, and falls into the subgenre of science fiction romance.   It tilts more toward the (quite explicit) romance end of the scale, and I would have liked to see more of the universe Archer created.  But trap an independent scavenger heroine and a military pilot hero alone together in her small space ship–well, once or twice I wanted to tell them to get out of that bunk and get on with the mission.  By the time the story ended, though, I was ready to download the sequel.  If you like steamy action romance, Collision Course is for you.

I’m still reading the new biography of Queen Elizabeth II.  No hurry–that’s my coffee table book.  On my Kindle I’m enjoying Edgar Rice Burrough’s delightfully old-fashioned The Land That Time Forgot

When I finished Deader Homes and Gardens a few days ago, I had my usual what-shall-I-read-next quandary, until I opened the newspaper the next morning to see multiple stories about the movie version of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games.  I read the book last year, but I hadn’t revisited the harsh world of Panem.  So I picked up the second book, Catching Fire.  So far, just as harsh and compelling as the first book.   Definitely not an old-fashioned tale.

Books, Books, and More Books

The other day when I sent a short piece off to a chapter newsletter, I added this as a bio clip:

Kay Hudson continues to amass books of all descriptions on her book shelves and her Kindle, and continues to wonder when she’ll have time to read them all.  Meanwhile she blogs about buying, reading and writing books at kayhudson.com.

I do blog about other things, cats and cameras and that kitchen sink someone left on my driveway last year (wish I’d had a camera that day), but I keep coming back to books.  And I keep buying more of them.

I have a stack of them here on the table, new ones I haven’t found a spot for on the To Be Read shelves yet.  Two weekends ago I stopped at Half-Price Books.  Something had reminded me of Hugh Lofting’s Doctor Doolittle books, which I loved as a child, and I popped into the children’s section to look.  No Lofting back there, but on my return to the front of the store I managed to buy four books:  A novel by Jennifer Weiner (Good in Bed), two of the Pern books written jointly by Anne McCaffrey and Todd McCaffrey (Dragon’s Fire and Dragon Harper), and a 1984 paperback printing of Anne McCaffrey’s early novel Restoree, which wasn’t there the last time I looked.  How could anyone who writes romance and grew up on science fiction resist a cover blurb like this: In another body on another world, Sara risked her life for a man of power and for an alien dream!

I stayed out of bookstores for the next week or two, but that didn’t stop me from placing an order with the Science Fiction Book Club: Third Grave Dead Ahead, the latest from 2009 Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® winner Darynda Jones (I recently finished First Grave on the Right, Darynda’s GH winner, and I have Second Grave on the Left on the Read Soon stack; Fourth Grave is due in the fall); Naomi Novik’s Crucible of Gold, the latest in her Temeraire series, a reading experience that deserves a report of its own; and, because they were offering a third book for $2, Dragonheart, by Todd McCaffrey.

Meanwhile, on my Kindle, I added Ghosty Men, the story of the Collyer Brothers, New York City’s most famous hoarders, by Franz Lidz.  That one was one of Amazon’s daily specials, which I succumb to every couple of weeks.  I also bought Finding Her Son, by Robin Perini, seven time Golden Heart finalist and 2011 GH winner.  And then one day after the fourth or fifth time I’d seen the trailer for the film John Carter (which, sadly, isn’t getting very good reviews, and shouldn’t they have shoehorned “of Mars” into the title?), I got to thinking about all the Edgar Rice Burroughs adventures I enjoyed long ago.   All of them are now long in the public domain, and available in multiple (and therefore confusing) Kindle editions.  I never did download the Barsoom stories (one of these days), but I could not resist my favorite of Burroughs’ tales, The Land That Time Forgot, all three of the short novels in one edition.  This is a truly insane story of evolution in action from one end of a lost island to the other, with, if I recall correctly, a German WWI era U-boat thrown in for good measure (and extra villains).  I’m looking forward to revisiting that one.

This past Saturday, after the West Houston RWA meeting, a group of us went to lunch and to a booksigning at Barnes & Noble, where I bought Austentatious, a new book by fellow Houston Bay Area RWA member Alyssa Goodnight.  While I was there I also snagged Death, Taxes, and a Skinny No-Whip Latte, by Diane Kelly, who also was a Golden Heart winner in 2009.  This is her second book; the third will be out later this year.

I’m going to put all these books on the shelf and try to behave for a while, really I am.  No book buying this weekend.  I’ll be back soon with a “recently read” report–if I can stay awake.

A true book junkie, I came home from RWA

with eleven free books stuffed in my suitcase, and several interesting titles on a mental list.  (Packing tip: paperbacks fit quite nicely in the spaces between, and on either side of, the handle channels of a wheeled suitcase.)  There were half a dozen books in the tote bags we were handed at registration, more on the chairs at various events.  I left a few behind, and I carefully avoided the free booksignings put on by many of the attending publishers.  But I saw a  lot of women scurrying around with cartons and shipping their books home with the Fedex people who had set up shop on the sixth floor.

You might think all those freebies would slow my book shopping for a while, although if you’ve stopped by to read my blog you probably know better.  Sure enough, I’ve bought a few paper books and added some to my Kindle in the few days I’ve been home.

Paper books:  The day after I got home, on my way to the grocery store, I found myself at Half-Price Books, looking for a few titles I had run across at the conference.  I didn’t find any of the novels, but when I checked the shelves where they stash the books on writing, I found a copy of Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat!, a book on screen writing that quite a few novelists swear by.  Then a few days later, responding to the featured selections at the Rhapsody Book Club, I found myself ordering three more books:  Janet Evanovich’s latest Stephanie Plum adventure, and two books by Darynda Jones, First Grave on the Right, which won the 2009 Golden Heart for paranormal romance, and a good many other contests, before it was published, and Second Grave on the Left, due out next month.

Kindle:  The 2009 Golden Heart for historical romance went to Jeannie Lin  for Butterfly Swords, set in Tang  Dynasty China.  I knew of the manuscript from its considerable contest success, and admired the author’s tenacity in writing about a setting so far from the romance norm.  At the conference I read a short preview of Jeannie’s next book, and was very impressed.  So I downloaded Butterfly Swords and a companion short story, The Taming of Mei Lin, to my Kindle, and I’m sure I’ll be watching for her next release in the fall.

World War II is another out-of-the-standard-box period for genre romance, but my friend Cheryl Bolen, best known for her Regency period novels, has written one, It Had To Be You.  Cheryl has just re-issued it, the only one of her novels I didn’t have.  Now it’s on my Kindle, ready to read.

Also new on my Kindle, Got High Concept? by one of my favorite workshop presenters, Lori Wilde.  Lori gave a workshop on this topic at the conference last week, and when she mentioned that an expanded version was available as an e-book, it immediately went on my list.  If you have a chance to attend any of Lori’s writing workshops, jump on it.  She’s terrific.

My name is Kay, and I’m a hopeless bookaholic.