5 things I found out when I catalogued my books

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If you have been following this blog, you probably know that I love talking about books.

I have a small library at my place and a bigger one at my mother’s house in Brazil. Since I decided to start slowly I decided to catalogue only the books I have at home and only the ones that really belong to me. I didn’t catalogue my children’s and my husband’s books since I wanted more to have an idea of how many books I personally have, in what genres, and how many of my paperbacks remain unread until today.

So I started, armed with my phone where I installed Book Catalogue, and a bar code scanner app called Zxing. Besides that I had a camera to make a picture of the books I would not manage to scan so I could even though add them later on Goodreads.

 

And my results were… BOOM BOOM BANG BANG… drums rolling: 

1- I don’t think I have too many paper books at all! 🙂

With the modest number of 150 paper books I think there is still space for more of them. I saw that I own more electronic books than paperbacks, with around 400 e-books resting inside my e-reader. The bulk of our home library consists of my husband’s and children’s paper books, DVDs and computer games.

 

2 – It happened quite often that it wouldn’t be possible to scan an older book

Of 150 books, 17 were impossible to scan due to an invalid ISBN number, or they didn’t have an ISBN number at all. Many times I had difficulty scanning books which are older that eight years, but most of my older books are not at my place now anyway. The number decreased further when I sent the scanned books to Goodreads.

 

3 – As in your cellphone, so in the internet

A bonus advice for anyone who catalogues their books: Don’t forget to organize your book shelves in your cellphone app exactly as you have them on Goodreads, LibraryThing, or any other social cataloging web application for storing and sharing books. Otherwise every new time you upload your recently scanned books to the internet, your existing data on the social app will be erased. You must check also which edition you might have previously added on Goodreads to avoid duplicates.

 

4 – I have less fiction books than non-fiction

At the moment, not counting the paper books I left in Brazil, I have 40 fantasy and 20 science-fiction books. But this is mainly due to the majority of them being at my mother’s place or in my e-reader. Other 20 fiction books were classics, poetry, humor or other genres.

My non-fiction books have as main subjects writing craft (33 books) and art/drawing/painting. (21 books).

 

5 – I read most of my fiction books and will put the few unread ones in my TBR list

Among my fantasy and sci-fi books only ten remain unread.  My other unread books are mainly non-fiction and other fiction genres. I must indeed think twice before buying yet another non-fiction book. But I could imagine myself getting a paperback copy from my favorite fiction e-books in the near future.

Oh look, new dark fantasy books on amazon. I have to go now.

 

 

 

Author Interview – David K. Hulegaard

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With encouragement from friends and family, David K. Hulegaard wrote his first novel in 2010, and has cut a swath through Sci-Fi and Fantasy ever since. Lauded for his ability to create complex, meaningful characters, David’s Noble trilogy takes readers on an emotional journey that has garnered comparisons to the works of Philip K. Dick and Stephen King.
By day, David works at BioWare, a critically-acclaimed video game development studio known for its masterclass storytelling, and has played a role in popular franchises such as Mass Effect and Dragon Age.
David lives in Port Townsend, Washington with his wife Jennie, and their banana-obsessed Welsh Terrier Tobi. In his spare time, he enjoys video games, professional wrestling, and photography.
How would you describe your story in one sentence?
DAVID HULEGAARD: An adventure across the stars, in which a budding, young hero jeopardizes his critical mission to save a friend in peril.

What inspired you to write your story/characters/theme?
DH: Planet of Ice is book two in the Broken Stars series, and creator Tony Healey laid down some tremendous groundwork with the first book, Age of Destiny, for me to build upon. He set the tone and pace for the story, and introduced the world to Max, the series protagonist. For this book, I wanted to explore Max’s surrounding cast a bit deeper, and also examine the repercussions of the group’s actions in the first book. Max is destined to become the galaxy’s savior, but at only 16 years old, he still has much to learn. He can’t accomplish his goals by himself, and in Planet of Ice, the limits of friendship are tested.

Which authors have influenced you?
DH: Jim Butcher is definitely a huge influence of mine, but I’ve also learned so much from my peers, such as Bernard Schaffer, William Vitka, Simon Cox, and of course, Tony Healey himself. I feel blessed to have met and worked with such talented writers.

Which are your favorite literary genres?
DH: Sci-Fi and fantasy are my sweet spot, but my tastes can be all over the board at times. There’s nothing quite like a well-told ghost story, but once I finish it, my next read could very well be a sports drama.

What makes a book/story special for you?
DH: Complete immersion. I want something that connects me to the characters and makes me care about their story. If a story causes me to invest real emotion, then I’m hooked for the long haul and have a hard time putting it down. Those are the stories I’ll remember forever.

Where do you live? Did your hometown/country/culture influenced your story?
DH: I live in Port Townsend, Washington, which is a Victorian seaport town filled with history and natural beauty. Lots of people move here specifically for the inspiration and sense of community, so our little town is a hub of arts and culture. I definitely think being by the water has given me inspiration.

How long you needed for writing this book/for your first draft/ for your revision/editing process?
DH: I wrote the first draft for Planet of Ice in record time. After Tony and I talked through the plot, I hammered out a manuscript in about twelve weeks. We spent another four weeks on revisions and editing, which was great. Tony created these characters, and he was fantastic in helping me stay true to their voice and personalities.

What helped you to get inspired and overcome hurdles along the writing of your book?
DH: This was my first time collaborating with another writer in this capacity, so I was a bit intimidated at first. I have nothing but the greatest respect for Tony, and as a fan of his work, I wanted him to love the direction I took as much as I did. Much to my delight, he only asked me to rethink a couple ideas, and after that he turned me loose. I appreciate how much trust he gave me to play in his sandbox, which included letting me create new characters and add lore to his existing universe. How cool is that?

Best piece (s) of advice for first time writers?
DH: The most important thing to remember is that you’ll never unlock your full potential without reading. Bury your nose into as many books relative to your genre as you can, and always set aside time to read. Then practice, practice, practice! As you develop your craft, keep writing, even if you think it’s not good enough. You’ll get better with every word you put on the page.

Where can readers contact you in the internet? Do you have a blog/website?
DH: Please visit me at http://www.davidhulegaard.com, and follow me on Twitter @HulegaardBooks. I love talking to people, so don’t be a stranger!

What are you planning to write/publish next?
DH: Still to be determined, but I’ve got a lot of options on my plate, and I couldn’t be more thrilled about that. I’ve got a couple of projects in development, and beyond that, I hear whispers of another book in the Broken Stars series. This is the busiest I’ve ever been as a writer, and I’m loving every minute of it!

 

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Author Interview – Tony Healey

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Tony Healey is a best-selling independent author based in the city of Brighton & Hove in the UK. His writing has been published alongside science-fiction legends Harlan Ellison and Alan Dean Foster. He has also had work appear with Piers Anthony, Scott Nicholson and J.R. Rain.
Most of his works are bestsellers, including his smash-hit science-fiction series Far From Home. Tony is married and has four daughters. For the latest on his various projects, visit www.tonyhealey.com

 

How would you describe your story in one sentence?

The best scifi adventure book you will ever read hahaha

What inspired you to write your story/characters/theme?

David and I collaborated on this sequel to my book “Age Of Destiny” and it picks up right where that one left off, both in terms of plot and character development. It truly is Book 2 in this series, meaning that it takes everything that next step further than Book 1 did. I’m very proud of David’s work on this one. I think it’s some of his best writing to date.

Which authors have influenced you?

Stephen King (though his later stuff is a bit of a wash-out); Alan Dean Foster; Harlan Ellison; Arthur C Clarke; Lauren Beukes – to be honest I’m just pulling names out of a hat here. There are so many influences. Some of them, like William Vitka, Bernard Schaffer and AD Bloom are indie writers churning out their best work right now.

Which are your favorite literary genres?

Scifi, Fantasy, Action-Adventure, Literary (I’m thinking writers like John Irving and Michael Chabon here), mysteries and thrillers, a whole wide range really. I read what takes my fancy. And from a writing standpoint, it’s good to read across the board. It’s all fuel.

What makes a book/story special for you?

Characters. Emotion. Backstory. The need to know more.

Where do you live? Did your hometown/country/culture influenced your story?

Brighton, East Sussex in the United Kingdom. There are things I work into my stuff, but I’ll leave it to readers to figure it all out.

How long you needed for writing this book/for your first draft/ for your revision/editing process?

It was a very smooth process, working with Dave and we nailed the edits in a couple of weeks. This manuscript is about as tight as we can get it.

Did you hire a cover artist/editor/proofreader?

I did the cover, and I served as editor (though Dave did substantial edits on his own), and a lovely lady gave the book a proofread when she read an ARC, which was very nice of her. There’s an important lesson for writers: network. If you’re creating great content, there will always be people willing to help you make it that much better.

Best piece (s) of advice for first time writers?

Slow and steady wins the race. You’ll get faster as you get better. Write tight prose – be ruthless with your own work. Simplify it down, make it barrel along at a lightning pace. I like to write no-nonsense prose with the odd flourish here and there. Try to be as active as you can, and have confidence. Try new things. Fuck it. When you’re done with your draft, try to eliminate any words that weaken your writing. Do a Find/Replace in Microsoft Word and have it highlight them. You can then go through your document from start to finish and decide which of those you REALLY need. If you don’t really need them, cut them out. Even if that means you have to restructure a sentence. Your work will be all the more stronger for it. There’s a lot to say, but the biggest would be: Don’t be precious about what you’ve written. Chill the fuck out and go with the flow. Roll with the punches.

Where can readers contact you in the internet? Do you have a blog/website?

www.tonyhealey.com and they can catch me on twitter as @fringescientist

What are you planning to write/publish next?

I have a mystery/thriller novel (the first in a series) sitting with publishers (Sorry, I can’t name names at this stage!) and I’m simultaneously working on the next entry in my Far From Home series, as well as a standalone novel that features a husband that goes missing as its inciting incident.

PLANET OF ICE is available NOW : http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01AGP28TO

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Ten things I’m tired of finding in stories I read.

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1) The perfect female protagonist

She’s 100% benevolent towards everybody. She has no self-preservation instinct. She always feels guilty about things she didn’t do in a perfect way, even if she was defending herself at that moment. She thinks of others all the time and never on herself. She’ll never say mean words, feel jealous or moody, be lazy, have human flaws or make wrong choices in her life or love interests. She’s always the well behaving girl who never does anything wrong. She’s an unreachable model of a perfect heroine.

2) The heroine or hero who dies at the end for no understandable reason.

They die after three or more books. Usually they sacrifice themselves for a minor character or it only happens for no reason that makes sense to you as a reader, after all they were so resourceful to the very (frustrating) end.

You just invested a long time reading and caring about them so that they would die for something that could have been easily avoided. And what for? Sometimes the end of the story just feels like a devastating funeral after that, worse yet if this happens in the middle of the story and the book goes on, now devoid of the character who gave it life. It feels to me like a cheap story device, that old story of “kill your darlings”, like if the writer is tired of the character and wants to be sure he/she won’t write more about him/her in any future books because they so conveniently died.

What’s the problem with letting the main character live in the end? Has that turned into a cliche lately? Or is it the other way around?

3) The protagonist’s bad family where only the father is a good guy.

Poisonous bad mothers, not so nice siblings and a loving, flawless father completely unrelated to all those problems in an unrealistic way have become so frequent in books that I feel like yawning every time I find them in yet another book. Why not try to change it a bit?

4) The perfect romance that goes on for 350 pages or longer.

All right, perhaps I’m being a grumpy person here. But when I start reading a so called urban fantasy or paranormal fantasy book I expect romance to be interlaced with fantasy or a bit of story at least. Nothing against a bit of romance here and there, but if I wanted only to read about the perfect romance among two – completely devoid of human flaws and drawbacks – characters, I would perhaps look for a book in the romance genre.

5) Good people, bad people and nothing in between.

Good characters who never make a mistake and are never weak, calculating or mean. Bad characters who are incapable of doing anything good. The world isn’t like that.

6) Description that slows the pace down to a point you have to jump fifty pages to see if anything will happen.

After ten pages of description, ten of setting and other ten of uninteresting backstory you feel really sad you bought the book and started reading it. You jump fifty pages to see if anything will happen only to see that you lost track of the little bits of plot scattered in the pages you skipped.

7) Secondary characters who say only nice things to the main character.

“You know nothing John Snow.” How refreshing is that? Ygritte wasn’t only a secondary character and love interest, she also had a mind and voice of her own. And this is a well written secondary character.

8) The romantic heroine who feels attracted to a guy who tried to kill her one page ago.

Usually the given reason is that the dangerous guy is so good looking that the heroine can’t help herself but have romantic thoughts and butterflies in her belly when she looks at him.

Really? This doesn’t seem to me like something a sane woman would do, and it does looks contrived even in a romantic story. Apart from that, as a parent, I don’t think we should be teaching young girls that the violent guy is the hero for them. Often you will find enough apologies in the story, that the guy was trying to kill, or was hurting them, because he knew no better, or he was in a twisted way trying to protect them. I think this all leads to an inversion of values that can at least be misleading to young girls and boys too.

9) Secondary characters who change magically from hating into liking the protagonist

I was reading a story where the protagonist had a brother who hated her. I didn’t find any clue on the first one hundred pages as to why he felt like that or as to why he would treat her badly all the time. Eventually his irritating rude behavior changed to a new direction without any given reason.

I was thinking: “Does the author expects me to sympathize with this character now? But I was annoyed with him one page ago.” If the author had any reasons for the character changes I didn’t get it from reading the story. So that remains a mystery…

And finally:

10) Characters who lack sense of humor and can’t laugh about themselves or the situations they are in.

A story without humor is like food without seasoning. The irony of life shouldn’t go unnoticed, that’s what makes readers laugh and relate to a character.

So make us laugh, we’ll love your characters and your story for that.