October 11th, 2012

promise tea

Books and the Blues

I finished my first draft yesterday. I'm still not crazy about the big, climactic scene, but then I remembered that my first draft version of the big, climactic scene has never ended up in the finished book. It always gets extensively rewritten -- sometimes even moved to a different location and given different outcomes. I do like the final scene, though. I may start revisions today, but my priority is going to be on getting the sty straightened up. I can't deal with it anymore, and I really let things slide while I was sick.

I've figured out that my kindergarten choir is so crazy because they're adapting to "real" school. These are the same kids I had last year, and they're worse in spite of being older. I'm thinking it must be that they're having to sit still in school all day (kindergarten has really changed since I was that age), and they get to me when they're bursting with energy and things they want to talk about. Even after choir during dinner, they're running around like maniacs. I think the fact that they're familiar with me and I was the "good cop" teacher last year doesn't help. There's so much they're dying to tell me about what happened at school or over the weekend that they can't stop talking and listen. So I've decided to go with the flow and not fight it. Instead of doing stuff where they have to sit down and listen, we're doing a lot of activities and songs where they act stuff out, like being airplanes, trains or animals. Sometimes I'm just putting on music and letting them dance. I may try to create a few activity games that sneakily teach music theory. We're singing in church Sunday, and then after next week we have two weeks off, since one week there will be a Halloween carnival and the next week is Halloween (and they're not trying to compete with that), so I think this week will be fun week with lots of games and dancing.

Amazon has introduced a new feature, and as I said on Facebook, it must mean they don't want current authors to ever write another book. Not only do they rank books, but now they're ranking authors, and you can find out where you rank overall, in e-books, and in various categories, updated hourly. That gives authors something new to obsess over instead of writing. As with the book rankings, it's pretty much meaningless unless you're in the top 100 where it shows up to readers. I looked once, found it mildly interesting and will now try to stay away from it. I did find it weird that I'm ranked in "Mystery" and in "Teen," even though I have written neither a mystery nor a teen book. My books are safe for teens and seem to have some appeal there, and I suppose you could sort of read them as mysteries, but they aren't categorized that way anywhere, so I wonder how that came about. Does it have something to do with reader tags on the books?

Speaking of Amazon, I've noticed that as I go about the Internet, when there's an Amazon ad that shows specific books, I've been seeing my books in those ads. I'm sure it's based on browsing history and the fact that I do check my books' rankings to see if sales are up or down, but I'm curious if this is showing up for other people. Does it recommend my books based on browsing history of related items? Has anyone else seen my books popping up in Amazon ads elsewhere on the Internet?

Finally, while I'm talking about books, some friends have been posting this list of science fiction/fantasy books to cheer you up around Facebook. It's an interesting list, and I've read a lot of those books, but I'm not sure I'd read a lot of them as a pick-me-up. For instance, The Lord of the Rings isn't something I'd go to if I needed to be jolted out of a bad mood. For one thing, it's so very long that by the time I finished reading the whole thing and got to the satisfying ending, any mood would have passed. I also wouldn't read Dune to make me feel better. Terry Pratchett is one of my sure-fire cures for a bad mood, but I'm not sure Night Watch would be one I'd pick for that purpose. I'd go more for Guards! Guards!, any of the Granny Weatherwax books or Going Postal.

I've been trying to think of some of my other tried-and-true blues busters. To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis is a good one, as is Bellwether. I also like some of her other books that she co-wrote with Cynthia Felice that are pretty much science fiction romances. While I do agree with the suggestion of A Wrinkle in Time, the other Madeleine L'Engle book I often go to is A Ring of Endless Light, which isn't cheerful, but it does allow a cathartic, cleansing cry that leaves me feeling at peace with the world. Many of the Vorkosigan series by Lois McMaster Bujold work, though probably more the earlier ones than the later ones. I think my books would work if I hadn't written them, but since I did write them, they aren't relaxing reading because I either remember the stress of writing them, the stress of publication or I want to edit them.

But, yeah, these days, Pratchett is my go-to cure for a bad day. I think I have one of his books in just about every room in my house, in case of emergencies. My mom and I have been known to call each other to read out lines, since no matter how many times we've read these books, there will still be a line that suddenly jumps out as hysterical that we somehow didn't notice before.

What are your favorite book cures for the blues?