Sunday, September 30, 2012

Bloggiesta Day 3 and Finish Line

bloggiesta finish line

Bloggiesta isn't quite over, and I still have some to-dos I'm going to focus on, but since my major tasks are finished, I decided to combine this update and finish post into one.

For this weekend, my goals were:
  • Write a recommendation page for my drinks blog. Done! The formatting's a little inconsistent, but it works for the present: Liquid Persuasion Recommends
  • Update my RSS Feed and create an RSS-to-Email service with MailChimp. Done! This was kind of a headache, but I'm glad it's done now. Be sure to update to my new RSS feeds if you haven't already (click on the subscription buttons in the sidebar to go here).
  • Write some posts. I'm going to work on this tast today.
  • Participate in all the twitter parties. I actually missed the one on Saturday because I forgot about it. Eeep. But I will hit the last one today.
Unfortunately, I don't think any mini-challenges (besides my own) are going to get done this time around, but overall I feel like I accomplished a lot this weekend.

For those of you participating in Bloggiesta, were you able to get all of your to-dos checked off?

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Please Update Your RSS

rss pedro

Hello, readers! As I challenged myself for Bloggiesta (see here), I've updated my RSS feeds. If you subscribe to Truth, Beauty, Freedom, & Books in a reader, please update to my current feed by clicking on the Atom symbol below:

Thank you so much!

If you subscribed by e-mail, you don't have to do anything. I've moved all my e-mail subs over to MailChimp. You may continue to get e-mails via FeedBurner for a time; if you want to unsubscribe from MailChimp and continue to follow through FeedBurner, you can do so by clicking on the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the e-mail.

If you want to switch your subscription to e-mail, please click here to go to the sign-up form.

If you followed Truth, Beauty, Freedom, & Books through Blogger or Google Friend Connect, you also don't have to do anything. The feed should update automatically.

Thank you again for following Truth, Beauty, Freedom, & Books!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Bloggiesta Fall 2012


Olé my blogging peeps! This weekend (September 28-30) is Bloggiesta. Don't know what Bloggiesta is? It's a blogging fiesta. There are twitter parties, mini-challenges, prizes, cute little gifs with our mascot, Pedro, and fun to be had for all bloggers. I think it's safe to say Bloggiesta is probably my favorite internet event, even more so than the Readathon. I have my bottle of champagne and my tequila and I'm ready to go!

Here are my plans for this edition of Bloggiesta:
  • My most major task will be to create a page listing favorite/recommended drinks for my cocktail blog, Liquid Persuasion. I've been needing to do this forever.
  • I also need to change my feeds from FeedBurner (especially since I'm hosting a challenge to do that very thing, see here).
  • Do a few other mini-challenges that look interesting!
  • Maybe write some reviews and posts.
  • Participate in ALL the twitter parties (see the schedule at It's All About Books).
Do you want to participate in Bloggiesta? OF COURSE YOU DO! Just go to There's a Book to sign up.

Bloggiesta Mini-Challenge: CHANGING YOUR RSS FEED

RSS pedro

If you've been around Twitter or looked at your Google Reader this week, you've probably heard rumblings about Google shutting down FeedBurner. If you don't know what FeedBurner is (or was, or possibly soon won't be), it's the most popular RSS tool on the interwebs. RSS, or really simple syndication, tells your blog readers that you've published a new post. It's what publishes your links and content to feed readers, FaceBook, Twitter, and other social media sites.

FeedBurner is an excellent RSS service. First and foremost, it's free; it provides analytics, a subscribe by email option, podcast options, automatically feeds into social media sites like Twitter, splices information from multiple feeds, allows you to monetize your feed, etc. etc. HOWEVER, this summer the FeedBurner blog and twitter account were both shut down, and the FeedBurner API (application programming interface--basically all the analytic features FeedBurner offers) will be shut down October 20th (Google Developers).

Will FeedBurner be shut down entirely? No one knows. Google has neither confirmed nor denied the death of, or indeed addressed the issue at all. Some say Google gets too much out of FeedBurner in advertizing, and that it's too popular, for the site to go black. But overseas versions of the site, namely, did shut down without any warning in July, leaving Asian bloggers stranded without an RSS feed or a way to reach their subscribers (FeedBlitz Blog). Personally, I've suspected Google of wanting to kill RSS ever since they "redesigned" (if removing popular features and making something less user-friendly can accurately be called a redesign) Google Reader last year. Either way, the pertinent point is that FeedBurner no longer has any support for its users and is cutting down on services, making it clear Google is consigning the site to the internet graveyard. To be on the safe side, it's probably a good idea to start thinking about switching your feed.

For this Bloggiesta mini-challenge, your challenge is to switch your RSS feed from FeedBurner and notify your subscribers. Once you've finished, paste the link to your notification post in the Mr. Linky.

Step One: Do you have a FeedBurner feed?

You have to link your sites to FeedBurner manually, so if you don't remember signing up, you probably never did. But it's simple to double check: just mouse over your subscribe button. If text pops up saying, "Subscribe with FeedBurner," or if the link that shows up looks something like this:
your RSS is going through FeedBurner.

Step Two: Getting a new feed.

The Good News

All the popular blogging platforms--Blogger, WordPress, Tumblr, etc.--have their own RSS feeds you can use for free. You can easily revert to the default feed in your blog settings (in Blogger, go to Settings>Other>Post Feed Redirect URL>Remove), and you're done.

If your site doesn't have its own RSS feed for some reason, then you probably don't have FeedBurner because it basically just redirects your already-existing RSS feed through its own API and services. However, if you would like an RSS feed and don't have one, you can create one manually. Sarah at Puss Reboots had a challenge for this during a previous Bloggiesta, and it's relatively simple. See Bloggiesta RSS Mini-Challenge for more details.

The Bad News

If you're looking for a free alternative with all the features of FeedBurner, there isn't one. Blogging platform feeds will not publish subscriptions by e-mail, offer analytics, push posts to RSS readers so your readers don't have to wait 10-12 hours to see them, or do anything else beyond publishing a basic RSS feed.

As far as analytics goes, you could rely on Google Analytics or another analytical tool in place of FeedBurner's API information. If you want e-mail subscriptions (and I can promise a lot of your readers do) you can set up a separate RSS-to-email service using MailChimp, which is free as long as you don't have more than 2000 subscribers or 12,000 posts a month.

If you want post splicing, monetization, push publishing, and other features, however, the best options I've found so far are:
  • FeedBlitz (Pay for service-I've heard this is also a pain to set up and expensive)
  • PostRank (Pay for service-haven't heard anything good or bad about it)
  • Mint (Pay for service-sounds very cool but pricey)
  • FeedCat (Free, seems a little sketchy)
  • FeedIty (Pay for service, with a free limited option)
  • RapidFeeds (Pay for service, with a free limited option)
I can't tell you what service you should use or what it's worth to you, money-wise. For one, I haven't tried any of these feed services; and for another I don't make money from my blog, so I'm loathe to spend money on it. If you do make money from your blog, though, especially with RSS feed ads, then you'll probably want a more sophisticated feed service. It all depends on what your particular blog requires.

If you want more information to help you make a decision, here are some good articles you should look at:
The last post offers more questions than answers, but the blogger has great suggestions and raises good points you should think about before you make a commitment to move your RSS service. As I've said, the wait-and-see decision is tempting but iffy, as FeedBurner could shut down unexpectedly. If you're frozen with indecision, to me it seems like the best choice is to switch to your platform's default feed; then at least your blog will have a feed when/if FeedBurner shuts down.

Keep in mind, too, that you don't have to delete your FeedBurner feed, even if you move to another service.

Step Three: Let Your Subscribers Know

Now that you've gone through that headache, you have to let your subscribers know to update their subscriptions. The easiest way to do this is through a post. You can find great examples at S. Krishna Books and Beth Fish Reads.

Notice both of these posts have the RSS links IN THE POST. Don't make it any harder on your readers to subscribe to your new feed than it has to be. Remember RSS or Atom feeds are links, and you can put a direct link to your new feed into a post the same way you would insert any other kind of link.

Some things to think about:

Email subscriptions

Don't forget to export a list of your e-mail subscribers. Then you can easily import them into your new feed or newsletter. Just click on your FeedBurner link and go to Publicize>Email Subscriptions>Subscription Management>View Subscriber Details>Export CSV.

Update links

You'll need to update your RSS button links, Networked Blogs feed, and any other site or service that uses your RSS feed. If you're anything like me, you've probably forgotten most of them, so this could take a while. Fortunately, this isn't something that has to be done immediately unless you delete your FeedBurner account (another reason to hold off on that for a bit).

Questions? Comments? Please share them and your experiences in the comments! And don't forget to link to your feed notification post in the Mr. Linky in order to complete the challenge.

Monday, September 24, 2012

A More Diverse Universe: THE ARRIVAL by Shaun Tan

the arrival cover

To escape dragon creatures, a young father leaves his family and travels across the ocean to a fabulous city, full of helpful animals and exotic food. There he makes many friends, all of whom also came to the city looking for better lives, free from oppression and war. After some false starts the man settles himself in his new life, but will he ever see his family again?

It seems like I've been wanting to read The Arrival by Shaun Tan forever, ever since I first heard about it on You've GOTTA Read This, but my library didn't have it at the time, and then I forgot about it. Fortunately, thanks to A More Diverse Universe, I remembered!

The Arrival is unusual in that it doesn't contain any words. Instead, everything is conveyed through pictures. Personally, I didn't miss the words at all--I didn't even realize there weren't any until after I'd finished! The book has a very cinematic feel, almost like a storyboard, and is a great mix of the familiar and the fantastic. Although The Arrival is a secondary world fantasy, that's not immediately apparent, and the story itself is one that's easily relatable to any immigrant or descendant of immigrants.

the city in Shaun Tan's The Arrival

Even though the basis of the story is firmly planted in a familiar story, the fantasy elements don't feel out of place or gimmicky. Tan uses them to great effect to convey elements and emotions that, if The Arrival was told "realistically," would be too complex for this format. Instead, the fun animals, exotic setting, and shadowy monsters efficiently tell us very important things about this world and the characters' journey.

As for the art, I LOVED it. It was very surrealism-meets-Dark City. Tan's drawings remind me of one of my favorite artists, Remedios Varo, in that I could see the influence of artists like Hieronymus Bosch and Odillon Redon, along with a quirky sense humor.

Aside from all that, though, The Arrival is a super-sweet story. I adore stories about people who travel and make friends. Basically there is nothing not to like in this book, aside from maybe the fact that it was so short!

I highly recommend this, especially if you also happen to like The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick (review here). It's really lovely.

vive la difference

Check out the other stops on the A More Diverse Universe Blog Tour and celebrate POC authors in science fiction and fantasy!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

TSS: She Said She Said

in the box mary cassatt
In the Box by Mary Cassatt, 1879

In the now-canceled TV show The Finder, the main character, Walter, said something that really pissed me off. He claimed he could tell the writer of a book was female because women use more pronouns when they're writing whereas men will use proper nouns.

Um, right. *eyeroll* I'm not going to harp on that, since I think it's been proven both anecdotally and scientifically that there is NO WAY TO JUDGE GENDER BASED ON WRITING STYLE and why on earth would this even be a goal, what is wrong people? What if they invented a test to judge ethnicity based on writing and were like, "Asians use more sentence fragments, now we know where they're hiding!" would that still be hunky-dory? But as I said, not discussing that. Nope.

What I really wanted to talk about was a very interesting chapter in Lawrence Block's Telling Lies for Fun and Profit about creating distance or intimacy with characters in fiction, and one of the things he said reminded me of that scene from The Finder. According to Block, one of the best ways to create intimacy with characters is to use more pronouns when you're talking about them instead of their names. For example, instead of using, "Silas thanked Melissa and walked to the store," you could use, "He thanked her and walked to the store," in which case there's an assumption you know something about each character, at the very least their names.

Another thing Block addresses in this chapter is using last names for characters instead of first names, which he says is another way to create distance from the character. But, he adds, women are almost never called by their last names in novels, and doing so might create unnecessary confusion for the reader.

All of which leads me to wonder, is there a presumption of intimacy when it comes to women? I know the phrase "intimate scene" is thrown around a lot when discussing the work of female artists like Mary Cassatt. Perhaps our own gender assumptions allow private lives for women, and public lives for men, but not vice versa. Or maybe women are not allowed the distinction of public and private personas, and their personal lives are always available for consumption. I was reading Mystery in Geneva by Rose Macaulay recently who commented, "women are, inherently and with no activities on their part, News... Profound questions are raised concerning them. Should they smoke? Should they work? Vote? Take Orders? Marry? Exist?" This certainly suggests there is no separation between personal and public activities when it comes to women--not in the news, anyway.

There definitely seems to be some correlation between what is considered "intimate" and what is considered "feminine," and I would argue that presumption drives us to view both art and literature of a more private or familiar nature as effeminate. Exactly or why this happens, however, I might never find out. Maybe the Beatles can tell us:

Friday, September 21, 2012


confessions from and arranged marriage cover<--I think this model has the same tan line I do! She needs to use sunscreen.

Minerva and Lord Blakeney are meant to be together. It's obvious because, in The Amorous Education of Celia Seaton (review here), they fought all the time. But they themselves do not know this--if they did, Confessions from an Arranged Marriage would be a very short book. Blake wants to spend his time drinking and hanging out with his mistress; Minerva wants to change the world through a politically powerful husband. Unfortunately, Blake accidentally ravishes her during a ball and then they have to get married. Whomp-whomp. Now they have to make the best of things, which shouldn't be too hard since they're both really good-looking.

After enjoying The Amorous Education of Celia Seaton, I had really high expectations for Confessions from an Arranged Marriage (it's not really an arranged marriage, by the way, it's a marriage of convenience, so a much more accurate title would be Confessions from a Convenient Marriage). Unfortunately, I never felt any chemistry between Blake and Minerva, which really limited my enjoyment of the book, even though it does have redeeming qualities.

With a hero named Blakeney, I would have been disappointed if Miranda Nevillle didn't reference The Scarlet Pimpernel in some way, and fortunately she does: Blake and Miranda don't really trust one another, go to Paris, and do a little spying (although that's not a major element in the plot of the book). Also like The Scarlet Pimpernel, Blake has a secret which results in him being a major asshole to his wife. The difference is, with Confessions from an Arranged Marriage, I knew what that secret was, and it did not help Blake's case. I never thought he was an idiot, even in The Amorous Education of Celia Seaton; but I did think he whined a lot, behaved selfishly, and was the exact opposite of hero material for most of the book--take, for instance, the rumors of him being a bully in school, which were a big concern for me. I found myself wishing I didn't know any of Blake's secrets so I'd have something to wonder about him; then at least he'd have the benefit of being a mysterious asshole.

I would have actually been okay with Blake and his anti-hero ways, though, if there had been chemistry between him and Minerva, but there wasn't. While they were on their honeymoon I found myself hoping Minerva's REAL true love would show up and sweep her off her feet. They'd reached the I'm-bored-with-you stage of their relationship and their relationship had just started!

To solve this problem and make Minerva and Blake get on with the sexytimes, Neville has to make her characters act inconsistently. There is clearly no other way this is going to happen. So intellectual Minerva, who seems like the last person to let her body rule her head, is suddenly a ball of hormones and just can't help herself around Blake because he's SO ATTRACTIVE. Keep in mind they've known each other since childhood and have never found one another the least attractive before now. Is this Stockholm Syndrome or what?

To be fair, there is a lot to recommend Confessions from an Arranged Marriage. It's not recycled or boring, and like The Amorous Education of Celia Seaton, it's based on solid historical research and is not fluffy or idiotic. It also doesn't take place entirely in London, which I loved, and the characters are well-drawn. Blake and Minerva finally start to form an emotional connection in the last quarter of the book. I think the beginning just put me off, as marriage of convenience stories aren't my thing to begin with (I'm always like, "Do you guys REALLY have to get married? Answer: no."), and not once did the characters quote poetry. Honestly, I found their affair kind of sordid and the when, how, and why of Minerva and Blake getting together was too convenient for me to forgive Blake for being a jerk.

Confessions from an Arranged Marriage is an okay book, and I know other people have really enjoyed it, but personally I wanted a bit more from it, both romance- and plot-wise.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Discussion: COME THE NIGHT by Susan Krinard

come the night cover

When Bridget from Books as Portable Pieces of Thought recommended Come the Night by Susan Krinard to me, I was a little hesitant to read it, since I don't usually go in for werewolf stories. As soon as I started Come the Night, though, I knew why Anachronist had suggested it--it had a very unusual and interesting setting, and a great premise.

Seeing as how we both read the book, we decided to have a discussion about it. Bridget is also posting her own review of Come the Night today on her blog, so be sure to check it out!

First, a bit about the book:

Gillian Delvaux, nee Maitland, a young widow with a 12-year-old son, belongs to a very exclusive pure blood British werewolf family. Noblesse oblige – she must marry an appropriate candidate even if it is the 20th century and normal people have something to say about it. She doesn’t. The problem is her father, sir Averil Maitland, still treats his children and household as if he was a medieval prince and them – his chattels. It concerns mainly Gillian but also to some extend her younger brother, Hugh. Marrying or in fact doing anything without their father’s consent is out of question. Sir Averil plans to organize a Convocation of all pure blood werewolves from Britain and abroad and he wants to choose Gillian a new husband (of course without consulting anybody, let alone his own daughter).

Still there was that Great War not so long ago (the novel is set in the Roaring Twenties) during which Gillian worked as a nurse in London and met a very nice young American soldier, Ross Kavanaugh. Ross was only ¼ of a werewolf but somehow it didn’t bother her. In spite of the fact her dad would disapprove (to put it mildly) she decided to have a child with him (and didn’t inform him about it – are you seeing a pattern?). Then she married promptly a Belgian werewolf who, very conveniently, went to war one week after his marriage ceremony and died. The boy, named Toby, has been raised at Snowfell, the manor his grandfather, and, being a bright boy, found out about his real father and decided to visit America and meet with Ross. All alone and without as much as by your leave of course. Like mother like son…

Meantime Ross Kavanaugh, a disgraced ex-police officer, is having a lot of free time as a down-at-heel unemployed without any hopes for a new career and hardly any money. What’s more, the New York police force, his former buddies, are almost sure he has been corrupted by a mafia and has killed a woman. When young Toby shows up as a stow-away and declares he is his son it seems that it is just another stroke of bad luck, especially that his mother and uncle are close behind. Who needs a son when he hardly has two dollars to rub together? Who needs a former aristocratic lover who abandoned you once for no reason at all and haven’t contacted you ever since? Who needs more problems? Or maybe it is actually a chance to start anew?

What was, in your opinion, the most important message, conveyed by this story? 
Tasha: Probably that there’s no such thing as a “pure race” of whatever you happen to be. Also that love conquers all. ;)
Bridget: Yes, ‘love conquers all’ is a very good summary of this one. I would also say: ‘never give up, no matter what circumstances’. Very uplifting.
Was Gillian, in your view, just another ‘doormat heroine’? Do you think any sensible, reasonable guy would stick by her no matter what?

Tasha: That’s a really good question. I don’t think Gillian was a doormat heroine, but she was pretty passive-aggressive. She reminded me of that blonde chick from Vertigo, only more difficult to relate to. And no, I didn’t understand why Ross and the other guys in this novel were so into her. If someone rejected me purely based on my antecedents, I’d be like, “Well, that’s the end of that relationship!”
Bridget: Personally I was surprised how repressed she remained for most of the novel. After the Great War plenty of women learned how to take their life in their own hands - it was one of the reasons behind that “Roaring Twenties’ phenomenon after all. I imagine Gillian would have loved to join their ranks, move out and start living as a ‘normal’ human being, no matter the cost. Still she didn’t. Maybe it was the ‘pack’ thing - in most stories few werewolves are able to live on their own. When it comes to her sex appeal or lack thereof...yes, she was such an ice princess I was rather surprised she was able to attract attention of so many suitors. Ross definitely deserved somebody warmer and less snobbish. Still there is no accounting for tastes - some like it hot, some like it cold.
What do you think of the “roaring twenties” background, presented here? Do werewolves fit it?

Tasha: I knew you would ask that. :) I love the Roaring Twenties in NYC as a setting, and I think I found it more plausible here than you did; but Krinard didn’t do a very good job of setting the scene. I think it’s mainly just lack of research: things like clothes, cars, buildings, etc., are hardly ever described aside from a few isolated mentions. Even Coney Freaking Island wasn’t described very well (and there was no point to that scene, either). I feel like the book could have just as easily taken place in the 1930s, ‘40s, or ‘50s, and that a later time period would have made more sense with the theme of the story.

As for werewolves, I liked how the NY werewolf packs were similar to gangs, but again that could have been set into any other time period. And the European werewolf packs were kind of Nazi-ish and didn’t really feel as if they “belonged” in the 1920s. But admittedly I don’t know much about Europe in the ‘20s outside of Berlin and Paris (and then just the artists in those cities).
Bridget: Oh, I know, I am so predictable ;) The whole conference/convocation thing reminded me a bit of “The Remains of the Day” book by Kazuo Ishiguro (and the movie based on it) so I liked that aspect of the setting. It was also a classic plot device straight from any Agatha Christie novel : gather all the interesting characters under a pretext in one place, keep them there because of a murder and show how they interact. Still I admit  the fact that there were just few  “Roaring Twenties” scenes made me disappointed.

I admit the idea of werewolves as race-obsessed Nazis won my heart - they were somehow right, with all that pure blood craze which made them even tolerate Hitler, a ‘mongrel’ if not worse, just because he promised them more power. As far as I remember Nazism started in the twenties of the 20th century so at least the timing was historically correct (it is true that Hitler consolidated his power from 1933 to 1934 but it had to start earlier). NY werewolves were too schematic to suit me, though, maybe because we saw so little of them.
What did you think of Toby?
Bridget: A precocious, intelligent child, surprisingly normal, taking into account the lack of peers’ company (or any healthy company in fact) and what household he had to endure. He also proved that ‘mixed’ parentage can be a very good thing for your gene pool -  it seems he got the best traits from both his parents. I am pretty sure Toby is the future alpha werewolf in making. ;)

His character  was used as comic relief - a typical, likeable ‘double trouble’ urchin which makes you smile whenever he appears on the page. He acted often as a catalyst - the very person able to move the plot forward, speed up the action and motivate other characters (mainly his mother and father but other people too).
Tasha: I loved Toby! He was definitely my favorite character. I agree, he’s an alpha in the making. ;) But I also think he’s possibly the only main character who embodied the zeitgeist of the 1920s. He’s the only one who used expressions from the time period and brought that energy of experiencing new things one associates with the Roaring Twenties. The kid had chutzpah, for sure. I’m not sure I’d want the entire book to be about him (not this book, anyway), but he did pull the entire novel together for me.
Why do you think Ross and Gillian were both so emotionally repressed? Did that draw a convincing connection between them as characters?

Bridget: That’s a very acute remark - they were repressed like hell, both of them but for different reasons. Gillian was most of her life under the thumb of her monster of a father - I actually was surprised he didn’t smother her or his grandson in the cradle! She had few chances to show her real self or to enjoy the luxury of free choice; she was also constantly fed lies and worthless propaganda. Ross was expelled from the police force under false accusations - it was as if he was thrown out of his family! I suppose he felt guilty even though he knew pretty well it wasn’t his fault.

You would think Ross and Gillian should sympathize with each other from the very beginning but somehow they didn’t, mainly because they lacked enough information about each other’s situation and, mostly in the case of Gillian, they were too afraid to ask pertinent questions. Have you noticed how Gillian froze almost every time she was afraid?

As a result, the connection between them was far from convincing for most of the time, at least in my view; surprisingly their loneliness and misery kept them isolated even when they kissed and had sex (proving that both those activities can’t substitute a meaningful conversation). Only their son was able to puncture their respective bubbles from time to time.
Tasha: I did notice that Gillian would freeze whenever she was afraid. It also seemed like she never expected anyone to have any emotions (probably because of her father). For example, her confusion over what Ross “wanted” with Toby--yeah, why would a guy want to spend time with his kid, for heaven’s sake? *eyeroll* She only expected people to act with the basest flight-or-fight responses.

I can kind of understand how repressed Gillian was, but it seemed over-the-top. I also thought making Ross similarly repressed just didn’t work. For one, he didn’t really have a reason to constantly suppress his emotions like Gillian did; and for another, to me it made it seem less believable that they would ever get together. Opposites attract and all that. I would think someone more outgoing and demonstrative would be a better match for either of these two.
Do you think this is a coming of age story?
Bridget: You know, initially I was rather inclined to say firmly ‘no’. It seemed to me rather a story about finding out what is the most important thing in your life - whether these are family bonds,  love, the truth about you and your parentage or support for an idea. It was somehow connected with discovering your inner core, your real self and allowing it to resurface. Then I thought how men remain children for most of their life (sometimes even their entire life) and I suppose Ross, while rediscovering his strengths, matured a lot as well. Also Gillian emerged as a much stronger person who finally knew how to arrange her priorities. So yes, to some extent it is a coming of age story. Among other things of course. ;P
Tasha: I definitely think of it as a coming of age story, although it’s certainly not framed in the usual way. After all, finding out what you stand for and who you are is part of growing up! Not only did Toby find his father and his inner wolf, but Hugh (Gillian’s brother) came into his own, as well.

I also felt like Ross’s inability to change into a wolf made him feel emasculated, especially since the woman he loved left him over it. After all, she changed RIGHT AFTER they had sex for the first time, then abandoned him as soon as she realized he couldn’t turn into a wolf. He was, in fact, a strong wolf/man, but he couldn’t see that at the beginning of the book.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Review: FALLING FOR CHLOE by Diane Farr

falling for chloe cover

Chloe and Gil have known each other forever, but while Gil is having fun in London, Chloe has to take care of her estates in the country. Then Gil's managing mama arranges for Chloe to have a season, and while she discovers the temptations of city life and starts falling for the handsome Lord Rival, Gil starts falling for her.

Falling for Chloe is a cute and charming Regency novel. I really enjoyed the beginning, which reminded me of Here Comes the Sun! by Emilie Loring. Both Chloe and Gil are fun characters, and Gil's nickname (Silly Gilly) is arguably one of the most adorable hero nicknames ever in a romance novel.

That being said, no matter how much I enjoyed Chloe and Gil, the real star of the novel is Lord Rival, a fortune hunter who's like a tractor beam for vaginas. He's like if Ryan Gosling somehow managed to wear his abs on his face. As Gil's friend puts it, "He's devilish attractive to females." I suspect this is more because of proximity than anything else (80% of success is showing up, guys), but it's clear the main point of Falling for Chloe is to introduce Lord Rival as a character, not to show us Gil and Chloe falling in love.

I say that because they spend hardly any time together! Gil lives for years in London without giving Chloe a second thought; and once she is there, he only shows up when she demands his presence, and then he's usually hours- or days-late. Under the Making An Effort column, Gil's score is zero. I had to laugh when Gil said, "I hope you're not tired of spending time with me," because he's only around for a few minutes at a time! How could Chloe be tired of him already? As for Chloe, she seems indifferent to his presence.

And although I did like Chloe and Gil, they were pretty shallow. Chloe has to force herself to dancing with Gil's friend, whom she considers ugly, and when he courts her both she and Gil assume this is a negative reflection on her own appearance--because how can an attractive person possibly pair up with an unattractive person? Poor Jack Crawley! Too bad he doesn't know about the haterade his best friend's drinking.

Aside from that, though, Falling for Chloe is a very well-written novel. I'm not sure I would call it a "romance," necessarily, but it's worth a read if you enjoy Regencies.

Friday, September 14, 2012

BBAW: You Were There

another blogging conference?

Today is the last day of Book Blogger Appreciation Week. *sadface* I honestly wasn't expecting a lot from BBAW year, since it was pretty laid back and all, but I had fun! And I managed to post every day, so take a picture of that for your scrapbook.

As part of BBAW's "closing ceremony," we're supposed to talk about a highlight for us during the past week. My highlight of the week was the dream I had where I met all my blogging friends. I OD'd on reading blogs during the BBAW interview swap, and that night I dreamt we all went on a crazy road trip in an olde-timey car. Yes, you were there, and you were there, and you and you and you... Memory made a killing at the roulette table (wheel?), and we celebrated by staying in a kick-ass hotel. Other than that dream I had about the kittens playing, it was the best dream ever!

But it wasn't just a dream, it was a place--a place called the interwebz. (I could carry this metaphor further, but I won't--you're welcome.) The point is, BBAW is about how we're a community, and this year it did a great job of reaffirming that, at least for me. Amy--who is to BBAW what Jerry Lewis was to the Easter Seals telethon--wrote a few weeks ago that she thought the purpose of BBAW had been mostly taken over by Armchair BEA, but I vehemently disagree. I've participated in both events over the years, and feel like BBAW is about appreciation and acknowledgement of book bloggers, and that it does serve to renew us as a community--whether it's done on a large- or small-scale--in a way that other events don't, no matter how fabulous or rife with giveaways they are. The first book blogging event I participated in was BBAW, and I remember that as the moment I realized what a great group of people I'd become involved with. I love the fact that we're part of community that will take a week to visit one another's blogs like crazy people and learn about each other simply because we love talking about books!

So thank you to Amy for hosting BBAW once again, and vive la book blogging! See you all next week and (barring the end of the world) at 2013's BBAW.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

BBAW: The Best Books You've (Probably) Never Read

the man in lower ten cover

Today for Book Blogger Appreciation Week, we're pimping out books we read this year that need more buzz. As some of you might know, I also have a classics blog called The Project Gutenberg Project, where I've reviewed a lot of terrible books. But also some really great ones! One of my favorite books of the entire year is The Man In Lower Ten by Mary Roberts Rinehart. Basically, someone is murdered on a train, and a lawyer named Lawrence Blakely is accused of the crime. Since he's innocent, he has to find out who really did it and clear his own name.

A few snippets of reviews:
Reading this has made me remember what a good story-teller [Mary Roberts Rinehart] was. In spite of a lot of dated elements, the story has such a contemporary feel that I kept forgetting it was written over a hundred years ago. Definitely a fun read. --A Little Reading
As in The Circular Staircase, you’re given a lot of clues, but in The Man in Lower Ten, they mostly come at the beginning. and instead of the chaos spawning more chaos, it’s slowly put into order. Also, it’s a train murder story — and there’s something about those that always gets me — but not just a train murder story. Actually, it might be the first train murder story.... --Melody at Edwardian Promenade
I especially recommend The Man in Lower Ten (1909), with its Hitchcockian plot of a bored, staid lawyer who becomes immeshed [sic] in murder on a train and a particularly hilarious take on the amateur sleuth. --The Bunburyist
I agree with all of these statements. The Man In Lower Ten is a great, entertaining mystery that reminded me of a Hitchcock movie and feels surprisingly modern. Rinehart has a tendency to overdo it with the plot, but with The Man In Lower Ten that's less bothersome because the mystery is pretty much established at the beginning and the rest of the novel is about Lawrence and his best friend, Richie, getting into some hilarious scrapes. For more details, you can see my review at PGP.

Scaramouche cover

I'm also just a tiny bit obsessed with Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini right now. I think I'm getting it under control, though--I only mention this book two or three times a day. Scaramouche is a coming-of-age revenge tale set during the French Revolution. How can you possibly dislike that? If someone (for whatever reason--work with me here) came along and was like, "There's an opportunity to live in this book called Scaramouche; interested?" I'd be like, "FUCKYEAHSCARAMOUCHE!"

Anyway. A few snippets from other bloggers:
From the wonderful opening line of this 1921 novel by Rafael Sabatini (“He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad”) I could tell I was going to love Scaramouche! And I did – it’s one of the best books I’ve read so far this year. --She Reads Novels
At their best, Sabatini’s books are full of snarky gentleman heroes, beautiful, boyish, ridiculously gullible girls, and lots of swashbuckling. And Scaramouche is definitely one of his best. --Redeeming Qualities
[Sabatini]'s an author that deserves to be re-discovered. --Alex at Project Gutenberg Project
There aren't a lot of reviews of Scaramouche around, and I think that's because it's a very difficult book to review--I know I struggled with it, at least. The novel feels very straightforward while you're reading it, but once you finish you realize how complex it is and how little you can write about without spoiling the story. Suffice it to say, Scaramouche has everything you could ever possibly want in a novel. EVER. Including a kick-ass opening sentence that sets up the rest of the story perfectly. For more details, check out my review at PGP.

And hey, did you know you can get both of these books for free? Even the audiobooks? That's because they're SO OLD no one wants to read them anymore. But they should be read, because they're awesome.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

BBAW: Day in the Life of a Book Blogger

stop posting kitteh

Today's topic for Book Blogger Appreciation Week is, "What does book blogging mean to you?" Well, obviously there's the money and fame, but really I do it for the little people. KIDDING.

To me book blogging means:
  • Spend hours torturing myself writing posts trying to explain how I feel about a book.
  • Search Google for a fluff topic to write about in order to put off writing said reviews.
  • Agonize over which LOLcat to put in the fluff post.
  • Yell at Blogger for various reasons:
    • Their WYSIWYG editor, which only works properly about half the time.
    • Captcha on comments.
    • Pages that don't load correctly. Or at all.
  • Once that's finished, try to think of an opinion post to write in order to avoid writing reviews.
  • Give up, get a drink and go watch TV.
  • Visit other blogs. Also to avoid writing reviews.
  • Read about some great books on other blogs.
  • Order books from library.
  • Bite the bullet and write the review.
    • Edit review.
    • Reread review, edit it some more.
    • Realize more editing isn't going to help. Also: tired.
    • Publish review.
  • Try not to stare broodingly at e-mail waiting for comments.
  • Finally, GO READ MOAR BOOKS!
What a fun and relaxing hobby, eh? Okay, honestly I enjoy writing reviews (most of the time), and love reading about books on other blogs. I would do that even if I wasn't trying to avoid doing something else. In a word sentence, book blogging means sharing books and ideas about books with other people!

The stuff about Blogger is all true, though.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

BBAW: Interview with YA Book Nerd

BBAW button 2012

One of the favorite features of Book Blogger Appreciation Week is the interview swap! My interview partner this year is Jennifer from YA Book Nerd. Jennifer is a YA librarian and reads a ton of different books. Check out her blog and my interview here.

Jennifer from YA Book Nerd

Question 1: You write Austen fanfic. If Jane Austen lived today, what subject do you think she'd major in at university?
Jen: Probably English/writing, but I think she might minor in theater as she loved putting on plays with her family.
Question 2: What's your favorite bookmark? (Plus a picture if possible!)
Jen: I adore bookmarks. As a librarian, I purchase some, I make them, and authors send them to me. I love how unique each of them are. There are times when I use a princess bookmark if I'm reading a princess story or a food bookmark (maybe scratch and sniff) if I'm reading a book about food. This one, featuring the adult series of Sarah MacLean is gorgeous to the eye. Plus the texture is amazing. It's simply perfect. [Tasha: Sarah MacLean does have really nice bookmarks.]

Question 3: If you could live in any era, which one would it be?
Jen: It's a toss up between Regency England and Renaissance Italy
Question 4: What's your favorite book of the year so far?
Jen: Tough question. The two that have stuck out most in my mind and I'm telling everyone to read are Grave Mercy and Throne of Glass.
Question 5: What is something that you would never, ever consider reading?
Jen: 50 Shades of Grey - it's just not my thing.
Question 6: If you could redesign the cover of your favorite book of all time using just one symbol, what would it be? (Question inspired by Picky Girl's post here.)
Jen: Hard to say, but I would choose a letter/note for the cover of Pride and Prejudice.
Question 7: You like to put fun facts at the end of some of your reviews. What's a fun fact about you that your regular readers might not know?
Jen: In the movie Sabrina, she quotes Gertrude Stein "America is my country and Paris is my hometown." I feel that way about Bath, England. I spent a semester in college there. It's been a little more than 10 years since I've been back but I'm hoping to go early next year.

Monday, September 10, 2012

BBAW: Old, New, Borrowed, and Blue

BBAW button 2012

Today is the first day of Book Blogger Appreciation Week, where we traditionally give shout-outs to our favorite blogs. In the past I made my own awards (I should really dust that Best Objectification of the Opposite Sex one off the shelf and use it again), mentioned blogs I discovered because of BBAW, and gave cyber hugs to my blogging buddies, Becky from One Literature Nut and Colette from A Buckeye Girl Reads. You should check out all of these blogs, because they're definitely worth following.

Beginning in November, Truth Beauty Freedom and Books will have been around four years. As my blog gets older, it becomes more difficult for me to "discover" new blogs--mostly because I'm lazy. Finding new blogs takes time, and my Google Reader is already full of more blog posts than I'll ever get around to reading. Lately, however, I've started making an effort to find new blogs (new to me, anyway), and today I want to mention some I've come across in the past year that have landed on my favorite list:

New-to-me blogs:

Books as portable pieces of thought--Bridget is open to reading anything (or nearly anything), and her posts are very critical--in a good way--and smart. Definitely one of the best blogs I've come across this year!

Redeeming Qualities--I might have started following Melody's blog more than a year ago, I can't remember. But let's go with a year. Melody reads a wide variety of novels from the early 20th and 19th centuries, some of which are simply bizarre-sounding, but I don't think I've ever disliked a book Melody recommended. If you have any interest in classic lit, you should definitely follow this blog.

Public Domain Review--This isn't necessarily a book blog, but there are a lot of bookish things on it that I love, including video of an interview with Arthur Conan-Doyle (he speaks!) and links to rare books that are accessible online (a 16th-century edition of The Faerie Queene? Aztec Codexes? Yes please).

Readingwithanalysis--Kelly mainly discusses romance novels, and her posts are always insightful and fun. I love how she approaches romance novels from an entertainment and women's issues standpoint.

Reflections of a Book Addict--Kim also reviews a lot of romance novels, including Austen adaptions (you know hows I loves em), along with many other types of books. She's always willing to try new novels in the name of book blogging.

Favorites who started out with me: These are blogs I haven't mentioned before during BBAW, but that I've been following faithfully for the last four years because they always have great new content as well as fabulous people behind them.

Wordsmithonia--Ryan reads a ton of mysteries (yay Mary Roberts Rinehart!), and has fun features on his blog such as Favorite Fictional Character.

Booktalk & More--Ruth not only talks about books, but also some of my favorite TV shows, like Grimm, Sherlock, Doctor Who, and Downton Abbey. Her posts are always delightful.

Narrative Causality--Caspette reads a lot of UF and fantasy novels, and writes really creative reviews. For a small fee she will teach you Aussie-isms. ;)

1330v--Natasha and I bonded because we have the same name, but I keep reading her blog because her posts are insightful and heartfelt. I love the variety of books Natasha reads as well!

Special Mention: Finally, I want to thank the bloggers who helped me get the Project Gutenberg Project up and running in the past few months. Thank you for your enthusiasm and all your support; I honestly couldn't keep it going without you.

Chris from Book-a-Rama
Aarti from BookLust
Alexandra from The Sleepless Reader
Nymeth from Things Mean a Lot
Iris from Iris On Books
Lu from Regular Rumination
Meghan from Medieval Bookworm

Sunday, September 9, 2012

TSS: Desiring a Well-Ordered Bookish Principle

constant vigilance

I like to keep things organized. Somehow this always seems like a struggle, although it really shouldn't be, especially once you have a system in place. But it seems life=chaos and keeping things ordered and neat takes CONSTANT VIGILANCE! (as Mad-Eye Moody might say).

When it comes to my reading, unfortunately, my vigilance has lapsed into nonexistence. Believe it or not, I used to have a system for choosing the next book I would read. It was so organized! And logical. Simply, I read books in the order I received them. Unless I got a new release that I really had to read immediately, of course. Or I'd just read a book in a specific genre, in which case I read a book in a different genre--e.g., having just read a romance I would switch to fantasy. Except most of my books were romances so I didn't switch that often. Okay, maybe it wasn't a perfect system, but it was a system, and it took care of those nasty stretches of nerve-wracking indecision between books (since I only read one book at a time, this is a big deal).

Nowadays, however, there is no axiom of choice. Zero. Nada. It's sheer chaos around here.

The main reason for this is that the majority of the books I read these days come from the library. I've always had trouble fitting library books into my reading system (you'd think having those due dates would expedite some sort of reading order, but nope!), and now that my reading is 50% library books, it's impossible to keep anything organized.

Plus, nearly all of the books I do buy are eBooks, and as far as organization is concerned those are even worse. How can I organize something I can't even see? Especially since I have two eReaders, I can't remember a quarter of the eBooks I have to read or which device they're on.

It's utter madness. I'm getting a headache just thinking about it. I am trying to use my to-read list on GoodReads to keep my "shelves" organized, but I always forget to add books to it; and once the books are listed on there, putting them in any sort of order is a pain in the buttocks. In the BUTTOCKS, I say!

So, help a girl out? How do you keep your books organized and decide what you're going to read next?

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Review: DARK SOUL by Aleksandr Voinov

dark soul cover

Stefano is a mob boss who, while attending a "family" event, meets Silvio, the effeminate bodyguard-with-benefits of one of the older dons. Stefano is immediately attracted to the gender-bending assassin with "dark soul" tattooed on his chest, but will Stefano risk his machismo rep and the trust of his wife by giving in to Silvio's slutty advances? I just don't know!

Gay mafiosi. They're right up there with gay cowboys. The Dark Soul series--consisting of five novellas--has been receiving quite a bit of buzz on the webbernets lately, and I wanted to read it because it sounded similar to Manna Francis' Administration series (reviews here), which I love. While Dark Soul is certainly intense, it doesn't come anywhere close to the Administration series in terms of writing and characterization. Honestly, I thought it was utterly ridiculous.

First of all, the sex. That's what you pay your money for, right? Dark Soul is one of those series where every story is merely a thinly-veiled set-up for the kinkiest sex scene the situation can plausibly allow. It's kind of porntastic.

I wouldn't have minded that so much, though, if the sex scenes were hot; unfortunately, they were REALLY awkward. There was definitely a titillation factor, but it never went beyond that. All right, there were times the sex scenes went beyond titillation and into eye roll territory (incest, really? Give me a fucking break). Maybe I just wasn't interested because I kept picturing the characters as looking similar to the guys on The Sopranos, but what else am I supposed to do with a bunch of Italian gangsters, hmm?

christopher and paulie
If the thought of Christopher and Uncle Paulie getting together causes your brain to bleed out through your eye sockets, DO NOT READ THIS SERIES!

And speaking of the characters, they are completely unbelievable. Silvio MIGHT be interesting, if he behaved with any consistency instead of just doing the sluttiest thing possible in any given situation (I don't like to throw the word slut around, but with Silvio it definitely fits) and didn't dress in a series of cliches. As for Stefano, a sensitive mob boss who wants to be faithful to his wife and asks other guys how they're feeling? I think my head just imploded from improbability. Oh, no, actually I was laughing my ass off.

The Dark Soul series is just... eugh. Kind of ick, totally unrealistic, full of inconsistent characters and enough convenient plot devices to hold together a really bad Skinemax movie (Stefano's bodyguard Vince just happens to have a "tube of oil" on him? Mmkay). If you want to read a really good m/m novel with BDSM sex and dangerous characters, you should read Manna Francis' Administration series. That is all.

Gratuitous Godfather scene. And now I'm going to drink a banana daiquiri.

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy of Dark Soul via NetGalley!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Review: BLACK HEART OF JAMAICA by Julia Golding

black heart of jamaica cover

Cat Royal was left on the steps of the Royal Theater of London when she was a baby, and grew up amid the actors, stage hands, street gangs, and aristocratic patrons of Drury Lane. As a result, even though she's only fourteen, she's very plucky and independent, and has lived through a vast array of adventures. Now she's taking part in a traveling production of Shakespeare's plays that is touring the Caribbean. But with slave revolts, pirates, kidnappings, and Cat's arch-nemesis Billy Shepherd roaming around, it's doubtful Cat can stay out of trouble for very long.

It's been over a year since I read the novel previous to this one in the Cat Royal series, Cat O' Nine Tails (review here), and it wasn't because I had to order Black Heart of Jamaica from the UK; it was because I was so disappointed in Cat O' Nine Tails that I couldn't face another Cat Royal adventure. After finishing Scaramouche, however (review at PGP), I was in the mood for more swashbuckling and Black Heart of Jamaica sounded like it might fit the bill. Here's the good news: it definitely did!

The bad news? I have to order the next book from the UK now, and it's going to take FOREVER to get here.

I've said before that I want to live in these books, and Black Heart of Jamaica renewed that sense of stepping into a fully-realized world. This time, Julia Golding brings to life Kingston, Jamaica, in 1792; and while I had some issues with her research in the past two Cat Royal novels, in Black Heart of Jamaica I thought she did an excellent job. Admittedly, I'm already interested and know quite a bit about this time and place in history; but even if you don't and just want to take a Caribbean trip by proxy, Black Heart of Jamaica should be the cure fer what ails ye.

Of course, considering that Cat's adopted brother, Pedro, is a former slave, and the Haitian Revolution is underway on Saint-Domingue--literally right next door to Jamaica--Golding isn't going to shy away from issues of slavery in the Caribbean. As this is a basically a middle-grade adventure novel, I thought she did a fair job. One of the things about the Cat Royal novels is that Cat always struggles to be recognized as a human being, both because of her gender and the fact that she has no family and therefore no status. As far as the law is concerned, she barely even exists--anyone can do whatever they want with her. Because of that, Golding often draws parallels between Cat and outsiders or underdogs, like Pedro in Cat Among the Pigeons (review here), and the same thing happens in Black Heart of Jamaica. Cat gets into a horrible situation and I was literally on the edge of my seat, wondering how she would get herself out of it.

Which brings me to Billy Boil Shepherd, my favorite character in a series filled with great characters. Billy is a Covent Garden street thug who's branching out into "respectable business" and has an itsy-bitsy obsession with Cat. Cat, meanwhile, finds him completely repulsive--OR DOES SHE? Black Heart of Jamaica is the first book where Cat's willing to think Billy might not be completely terrible. Although I thought Cat forgave him a little too easily (and that it was awfully convenient for her to do so), I love that Golding managed to tie them together without any reference to physical attraction at all. Plus I still have no idea where their relationship is headed--it could become a romance, or they could go back to being mortal enemies. You just don't know!

Black Heart of Jamaica restored my faith in the Cat Royal books. You can read it in a day and it's highly entertaining, especially if you've read the other books already. I can't wait to read Cat's Cradle and think I'm due for a reread of The Middle Passage, the free novella that got me started on the books in the first place.

PS-When you read the Cat Royal series--when, not if--make sure to check out the "The Critics" and "Glossary" sections at the beginning and end of each of book. They are so cute and clever I can barely contain myself. Here's a sample of the funnier ones from Black Heart of Jamaica:

'She is a tyger burning bright in the forests of literary night'--William Blake
'Mademoiselle Royal strikes a blow for emancipation.'--Toussaint L'Ouverture, slave revolt leader on Saint-Domingue
'Give Cat Royal your vote and I'll kiss you!'--Georgina, Duchess of Devonshire, political campaigner
'Another book from Cat Royal? She's always worth a gamble.'--John Montague, the Fourth Earl of Sandwich

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


sweetest spell cover

Today YA author Suzanne Selfors is here to discuss the inspiration for her latest novel, The Sweetest Spell. Suzanne is also the author of Coffeehouse Angel and Saving Juliet. You can contact her by e-mail if you so wish.

Welcome, Suzanne!

I don’t know why it took me this long to finally write a fairy tale. But writing The Sweetest Spell was a blast from the first word to the last, in part because I grew up on fairy tales. I guess the happily-ever-after formula is cemented in my story-craving brain. But I love the idea of playing with the formula, giving it a modern twist, messing things up.

Like many fairy tales, my story is about transformation. Cinderella, The Ugly Duckling, Beauty and the Beast are examples of such stories in which the unloved (Cinderella)/ugly (Duckling)/ selfish (Beast) hero becomes loveable/beautiful/selfless. My Ugly Duckling is a peasant girl named Emmeline Thistle. Born with a clubfoot, and born to the lowest economic class in the kingdom of Anglund, this dirt-scratcher girl is shunned by everyone. She is unwanted and unloved.

But, like most heroes, Emmeline discovers a secret about herself. She has the mysterious and rare ability to churn cream into chocolate, a substance that exists only in legend. A substance that is desired by everyone, including the royal family. And so, Emmeline Thistle is transformed from the most unwanted girl in the kingdom to the most desired. The duckling becomes a swan. The slave becomes a princess.

Though there is much comedy, romance and adventure in this story, there was one darker issue I wanted to explore – greed. With our economy in the tank and corporate greed gone wild, this seemed like the perfect time to explore such an issue. And it felt much more appealing to do so in a make-believe kingdom, where tax collectors control the population, and the king and queen exploit the peasants. Emmeline is one of those peasants. She’s a dirt-scratcher. She is poor and homeless. All that changes when she begins to make chocolate. But this blessing turns out to be a challenge and she’s faced with a dilemma. When you have something everyone wants, do you sell it to the highest bidder, even if that means going against your values? Do you choose comfort over integrity? This was the question I wanted to explore.

Of course, I didn’t forget about the boys. You can’t have a fairy tale without some strapping hunks. They’re in there too.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

TSS: Sunday Writers

A somewhat blog-centric Sunday Salon post this week: I'm currently reading Telling Lies for Fun and Profit by Laurence Block (excellent book, by the way), and in it he ponders why there are no "Sunday writers"--people who, as Block defines it, write regularly and develop their skills only for the love of doing something fun and creative, never expecting to be published or paid. Block does add one caveat to this: poets can't have any expectations of being published; and even if they do, they won't make money at it, so they're the exception. "When all poets are essentially amateurs, one's not ashamed to be less than professional," he says.

Naturally, when I read Block's definition of Sunday writers my mind immediately went to blogging, something that didn't exist when Block wrote Telling Lies (which I think was in the early '80s--he references typewriters a lot). Most bloggers don't get paid; and if they do, it's not very much. Instead, we write regularly because we like writing! Or at least I do. All the things Block cites as impediments to the existence of Sunday writers--wanting to share your work with others, the prohibitive cost of self-publishing and the stigma attached to doing so--have essentially been removed thanks to the internet. Now anyone can publish nearly anything, for free, and share it with the world.

I'm sorry for confusing your freelance writing career with unemployment.

But are we really "Sunday writers"? As in, do we consider ourselves as writers, and if we do, is our ultimate goal still to get published? I think a lot of people, even those who regularly write for a living, don't consider blogging as "writing" (Jessica from Read React Review wrote an excellent post discussing this a few months ago). I do consider blogging as writing; in fact, one of the reasons I started the blog was so I could have a writing outlet after a finished school. However, I also want to be published, and have been. So perhaps Block is right and there really are no Sunday writers, despite the fact that the impediments he mentioned don't really exist anymore.

Do you think there are "Sunday writers"?


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