Book Stats – June 2016

I love me some numbers. And when Yvo over at It’s All About Books did a book stats post for the first four months  of the year, it inspired me to do one at the halfway point.

I have reached the very nice, round total of 50 books so far this year, which makes working out percentages rather simple. This amounts to the equivalent of 12528 pages, which is only about 700 pages short of what I read in all of 2014 combined, and is about two thirds of my page count for 2015 (my total books for 2015 was also 75, so that makes sense).

I’ve been trying to broaden my horizons a bit this year, throwing a few thrillers and some historical fiction into the mix as well as the usual YA and fantasy. I’ve made some nice graphs to indicate the spread of my reading over the past six months.

2016juneagegroupstats

At first, I was a bit surprised that adult outweighed YA, but it makes sense that combined with NA, the fiction with protagonists my own age or younger outweighed the adult fiction (I’m a month off 27 for those keeping score).

2016juneratingsstatsInteresting that I’ve had exactly the same number of 3 and 4-star rated reads, and 8 dead in the middle of that. And yet, I still felt like I’d hit some sort of reading slump when I had a slew of 3-stars where I was certainly enjoying things but not really getting super into them. Fortunately, I’ve only really not enjoyed 14% of what I’ve read this year, and so far I haven’t hated anything enough to only give it one star. Hopefully that run of good luck continues.

2016juneauthorgenderThis comes as no surprise at all. While I certainly don’t refuse to read male authors, I am conscious of the gender bias that exists in publishing and reviewing, and I try to do my bit to offset by participating in the Australian Women Writers Challenge, for instance. Having said that, I think I am just drawn to women’s writing more in general, or more women are writing the books I want to read, or something.

You may notice the odd number-ed percentages in the above graph. It’s because Illuminae threw me off, having both a male and female author. Not knowing how proper statisticians might deal with that, I just tallied the 49 other books, then gave each gender another count.

june2016genrestatsTo the surprise of absolutely no one, fantasy wins this category a mile. Of course, that includes everything from urban fantasy to epic fantasy to fairytale retellings and historical fantasy (where I felt that the fantasy played the more major role). I included superheroes under sci-fi, and steampunk under fantasy, even though I wasn’t entirely sure that was the right spot (it maybe should have gone under sci-fi as well.

june2016seriesstandstatsI actually thought the series count would be higher. It certainly feels like I have a million unfinished series still to complete! (It doesn’t help when new instalments in series take so long to come out!) I’m glad to see this count is actually fairly close to half-half.

june2016bookformatstatsWhile I do love my Kindle (though I’m using my Samsung tablet for ebooks at the moment and still debating whether to replace my Kindle that died), the library is always the first place I check for a book. I buy print books very rarely now, but it’s nice to see that that number is at the top. And I can’t believe I only discovered digital lending libraries and all the audio books they have to offer about nine months ago. Though I still find a narrator can make or break an audio book.

That’s all I’ve got for now; I hope you enjoyed this rather nerdy post.

~ Emily

 

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2015: A Year in Books

I was going to do a nice retrospective blog post today, but time got away. It’s already 8:35pm, and I’m generally not one for staying up and seeing in the New Year, so I’ll be going to bed at my usual time. However, in various places on the Internet, I found a couple of fun year-in-review bookish memes, so I thought I’d do them myself and post them here to cap off 2015. You can also see my GoodReads 2015 Year in Books.

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Book Tag: Confessions of a Writer

Some weeks ago, I was tagged by Claire Huston for the Confessions of a Writer tag, but I’m only just getting around to doing it now.

confessions

The Confessions of a Writer Tag was created by Nicolette at A Little Bookish, A Little Writerly. It is a ‘get-to-know’ the writer interview tag, dedicated to spotlighting the creative process, works in progress, and connecting to other writers.

Rules of the Tag:

  • Please link back to A Little Bookish, A Little Writerly’s post, so that the original rules are always accessible to anyone who is curious and wants to participate!
  • Acknowledge the person who tagged you in your post.
  • Tag your friends and fellow writers – it’s up to you how many!

1. When did you first start writing? Was being a writer something you always aspired to be?

Pretty much. I remember writing stories in early primary school, and my Year 5 teacher was really impressed with a 20-page script I wrote (admittedly, that was 20 double-spaced pages in 10-year-old handwriting, but still!) The script was actually a sequel to the movie Ever After, which is still one of my favourite movies, and I actually wrote a lot of what I now know as fan fiction before I ever had Internet access. I also wrote a very long fantasy story where my group of friends and I were the main characters. Except one of my friends was also called Emily, and that confusing and annoying very quickly.

2. What genre do you write?

Ha. That’s a very good question. I guess romance is the running theme throughout all of my work, but I’ve written historical fiction, I’ve written urban fantasy. My next WIP is going to be LGBQT fantasy. You can’t put me in a box.

3. Can you tell us a little about your current work in progress? When did you start working on this project?

 As I announced in Wednesday’s post, I’ve just finished the first draft of my modern day re-telling of The Nutcracker.  I still need to work out exactly how it concludes, and a few other things, but I’m leaving that for the second draft. I actually started this about halfway through 2013, got stuck at the start of 2014 and then ignored it for over a year. It’s only since about August this year that I’ve returned to it. And the fact that I could figure out the issues that long after abandoning it makes me hopeful for other projects I get stuck on.

4. What was your first piece that you can remember writing? What was it about?

nicubunu-RPG-map-symbols-Circus-Tent-300pxI know when I was 7 we were given a task where we had to write a story about what job we’d have in a circus. I basically decided I would be ALL THE THINGS (lion tamer, acrobat, clown, trapeze artist and ringmaster).

5. What’s the best part about writing?

Seeing where the characters take you. When the words are just pouring out of you.

6. What’s the worst part about writing?

The insecurity and angst.

7.  What’s the name of your favorite character and why? (This can be from a book by another author or from your own work. Book crushes are perfectly acceptable here as well.)

I’m going to go with my own work here, because otherwise I’d never narrow it down. Cait and Felipe, my two leads from A More Complicated Fairytale, are my favourites. There’s so much going on around them, but they deal with (all right, Felipe doesn’t deal with it quite so well, but that’s part of the story), and they have to fight to be together. There’s a lot more emotion in this story than something like Operation Sugarplum, just because of the way the relationship between these two develops. (O:S is also a lot shorter, so there’s that).

8. How much time a day/week do you get to write? When is the best time for you to write (morning or night)?

I’m only just starting to develop really good writing-every-day habits. I’ve been trying to write in the mornings, but I’m pretty groggy then. I can usually get a few hundred words down on my lunch break. That’s been working well for the last few months.

9. What bothers you more: spelling errors, punctuation errors, or grammar errors?

Honestly, unless they’re really glaring, I tend to read straight over them. Spelling errors are probably what I’m mostly likely to notice.

10. What is the best writing advice that anyone has given you?

“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”- Madeleine L’Engle.

Not that I actually write for children, but I love this quote. And I couldn’t really think of any one piece of advice that stood out as best.

11. What advice would you give to another writer?

Don’t try to put your writing in a box. Write the story that needs to be written.

12. What are your favorite writing sites or blogs that you turn to for help, tips or encouragement?

Even when I’m not participating, the NaNoWriMo forums are actually a great place to go for support and encouragement.

13. Besides writing, what else do you enjoy doing? What are your hobbies?

11407273_10206400098658741_2755319949926169426_nI sing in a choir and I love to do plays and musicals. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my two favourite hobbies are writing and acting, things that allow me to explore other lives and get into characters’ heads. The photo on the left is of me in my Cockney flower girl costume in a production of My Fair Lady earlier this yea.

14. What is the best book you’ve read this year?

I’ve read a lot of really great books this year, but I’ll say The Golem and the Djinni by Helene Wecker because it’s still in my head nearly a week later.

15. What is the best movie you’ve seen this year?

Pixar’s Inside Out.

16.What is your favorite book or series of all time?

I don’t actually have one. Honestly.

17. Who is your favorite author?

Jonathan Stroud.

18. What are your plans for the rest of the year in terms of your writing

I’m currently using the Snowflake Method (sort of) to outline a new WIP. I’ve already gone off on my own tack at around Step 4, but if it works for me…!

19. Where else can we find you online?

Twitter. Facebook. GoodReads. LiveJournal.

I know I’m supposed to be tagging people, but I’d really like to get this posted tonight, and I have to go off to choir practice very soon. As such, I don’t have time to go through my follow list and find people to tag and do the link-to-their-post-so-they-know-about-it thing. So let’s just say, if you would like to do this, consider yourself tagged!

~ Emily

2013: The Year of Putting Pen To Paper

Today heralds the start of a new year and next Monday heralds the start of a new round of A Round of Words in 80 Days, the writing challenge that knows you have a life (if you’re new in these parts, you can read about ROW80 here).

row80Since completing NaNoWriMo in November (just!) I have barely written a thing, so traumatised was I by the struggle to reach 50k in a month (my first attempt was so easy, but I don’t know what happened the second time around). In a way, this is not unlike the rest of my year. I did a lot of planning, a lot of doodling, but very little actual writing.

I want 2013 to be different. I’m setting myself small goals, setting aside a couple of nights a week for writing rather than trying to squeeze it in every day around other commitments. I’m going to work on smaller projects, some short stories I have half-finished and things like that, instead of going all, “WRITE ALL THE WORDS” and trying to write an epic novel when I’m not really prepared for it, to be honest. I tend to have this “DO ALL THE THINGS” attitude and end up intimidating myself and not doing anything.

I also want to do better at university than I have been doing (I had last semester off, but the two semesters before that was only just passing – I know I can do better than that because I did so in my undergrad), so I’m setting aside Saturdays for studying at the National Library. When assignments are due, writing may drop off a bit in favour of spending more time on those.

I’m going to have choir on Thursdays and maybe on Mondays as well. That’s going to have to satisfy my performance cravings because I’ve decided not to audition for any shows this year, as much as I would like to, and I’m going to actually say no this time if asked to do backstage crew or anything else like that which is time-consuming.

2012 was the Year of Staring at a Blank Page. 2013 is the Year of Putting Pen to Paper. Bring it on.

~ Emily

Flash Fiction: Everyone Is An Alien

So I wanted to get in on this flash fiction thing. 😛 I have found in the past that I have a tendency to be wordy, so I thought working on some of these would help me practice being succinct. I know that Friday is traditionally the day to post flash fics, but I don’t know if I’ll be anywhere near the Interwebs tomorrow, so for this week at least, Thursday it is. I discovered the Writing Prompts tumblr, and quite liked it, so I’m going to try using the prompts on there, and writing one flash fic a week. The prompt I used this week is:

I have kind of glossed over exactly what the irrefutable evidence is, and just gone with the feelings of this discovery. Click the More tag to read! 🙂

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Five characters I would have over for dinner

Jennifer Rainey, author of These Hellish Happenings (a book I highly reccomend) and owner of the blog, Independent Paranormal, posted her own list of five literary characters she would invite over for dinner and I thought it might be fun to do the same. I was a bit surprised how easily this list came to me. I had thought I would have to ponder it a bit longer. But anyway, here is my list:

Essie Davis as Miss Phryne Fisher in the ABCTV series based on the books

– Phryne Fisher (The Phryne Fisher Mysteries series by Kerry Greenwood) – The Hon. Miss Phryne Fisher is a glamorous lady-detective living in Melbourne in the 1920s. She has come into money, but grew up very poor, so she never lets her wealth go to her head, and has an unwavering desire to ensure that justice is always served. She would flirt with every other guest at the table, be dressed amazingly, and be generally fabulous, as she always is.

– Ebenezer Scrooge (A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens) – This is one of my favourite books ever, and I would love to chat to Scrooge about the revelations the Spirits of Christmas gave him. He became quite jovial at the end of the book, and I think he’d definitely liven up the conversation.

Artemis Fowl (Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer) –  this teenage criminal mastermind is snarky and crazy intelligent but, later in the series, actually grows something vaguely resembling a conscience. He assists the People (fairies, etc) in preventing rogue fae from destroying the world, and would have plenty to tell us about. I’ll just… make sure I’ve got absolutely nothing around that he’d be interested in stealing while he was visiting.

Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird

– Puck (A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare) – anyone who knows me well knows that “If we shadows have offended…” is my favourite passage of Shakespeare, ever. Puck would definitely have a few tricks up his sleeve to keep the other guests entertained (or on their toes. Could go either way, really).

– Atticus Finch (To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee) – do I even need to elaborate on this one? Atticus Finch is kind of the ideal human being: a gentleman, good father, strong sense of justice. The kind of guy you could quite willingly take home to meet your mother. Actually, a conversation between Atticus, Phryne and Artemis would be something to behold, I imagine.

Also, honourable mentions go to Ford Prefect from the Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series and Sherlock Holmes because, while I love them, I’m not sure I could actually sit through an entire meal with either of them.  Neither of them are very big on that thing called tact, and I don’t like having conversations with people like that. I know, some of the ones on my list, particularly Artemis Fowl, might be a bit like that, but I think Artemis does at least have a grasp on the concept. So.

So that is my list. Who would be on yours?

#ROW80 – errrghhh.

I was doing so well, you guys. I had my new story, and my new goals, and I was meeting them. And then the weekend exhausted me and I got nothing done and I haven’t got much done since then. I’m bothered by the fact that my two MCs fall rather heavily into blatant gender stereotypes, not something I want to happen at all, and also the fact that I don’t know anything about warfare or governments or any of the other stuff that is kind of actually important to my setting. Writing this is making me think of the song “Die Vampire, Die!” from the musical [title of show] (yes, that’s what it’s called), which is about getting past all those hurdles to express your creativity. But I’m having a bit of trouble actually following the song’s advice right now. Not to mention I’m writing job applications and things, since my contract is up for renewal, and due to bureaucracy, can’t just be renewed, it has to be advertised this time around. So basically I’m just feeling worn out and listless, and I know you’re supposed to try and work through that, but… blah.

In other news, PayPal Strong-arms Indie Book Publishers Over Erotic Content. Because adults can’t figure out what they do and don’t want to read for themselves, clearly, and they need a company that has nothing to do with books to decide what’s moral or not for them. Yep. Glad we cleared that up.

Oh, also. Y’know that writing course that I’m not enjoying? I realised that I could sneak ahead because the modules are actually hosted on the guy’s website and the files names are all the same except for the module number. Anyway, in the module about starting your manuscript is this tip (though I am paraphrasing): “Don’t worry about spelling and grammar – just get your words down on paper… you will have an editor to help you polish it up.” The first part of that, sure, I’ll get behind that. But I really hate the idea that you can just write your stuff and then an editor will “fix” it and make it nice for you. You’ve got to pull the hard yards yourself. This possibly bothers me more because I knew a girl a while ago who was convinced she was writing something amazing when she clearly had no idea about punctuation, grammar or generally making sense, but got really upset with me when I pointed this out to her and told her she would need to fix it up a great deal before she submitted it anywhere. I believe her exact words were “Stop sh*tting over what I love.” Now, I don’t have particularly thick skin, something I know I need to work on if I’m going to make it in the industry, but I know that I’m going to have to work hard and that not everyone’s going to love me. She didn’t quite seem to grasp this.

Anyway, that is my rant for today. I’ll go now and let you read some happier posts from other ROW80ers.

#ROW80 – Changed goals, photos and writing samples

Sorry I missed Sunday’s check-in, ROW80 friends! I didn’t get any writing done on the weekend, as my mum was staying with me, so there didn’t really seem much point in posting. But I have plenty to say today to make up for it! 😛

First of all, I’m hoping that someone may be able to point me in the right direction. Early on in this round, someone posted an awesome post with links to a variety of different writing challenges across the Internet… all I can remember about the blog was that it had a yellow background (I think?). Anyone know the post I’m talking about? Can you link me?

Onto my own ROW80 stuff, firstly, I have changed my goals! Only slightly, and more in the wording that anything. When I started, I said that because I was busy, I would aim for 1000 words a week. What I have discovered, though, is that with a “per week” goal, it is easy to put things off, and keep promising to get to to it before the week is out. Inevitably, the week then passes by, with nothing done. So instead of 1000 words per week, my new goal is to write at least 150 words a day. It’s not much, but usually once I sit down I end up writing more than that anyway, so hopefully this will give me a bit more of a push. I’ll probably still keep my editing goal as 5-10 pages per week, since that tends to get done in one night when I sit down.

So, how have the new goals gone so far? Pretty well, actually! I’ve already edited 14 pages, thanks to a spurt of productivity on that front on Monday night. I wrote a the first few hundred words of the story I was planning in my last couple of posts last week, and then added 230 words to that on Monday night also. Yesterday I didn’t get anything done, but I have made up for that today by writing 475 words (and still going!). Shah Wharton posted a link to this post today, and I don’t know why, but I really got the urge to write my own response to the prompt: “write a story or a poem where they realise they slept through the worlds being slaughtered by a virus of some sort.” I kind of ignored the word limit part, since that’s where my 475 words went for today, and it’s sort of just begun. I’ve posted a bit of it at the end of this post for your perusal. Bear in mind, it is unedited and was written basically sentence by sentence while I was at work and supposed to be doing… well, work. Except for the chunk I wrote on my lunch break, instead of doing more editing, as I had originally planned to do (I carried my manuscript on my pre-work walk and everything).

Speaking of my lunch break, today was an absolutely gorgeous day and I was struck by how pretty my lunch time writing spot is. So I took some photos. Well, I use the plural, I took a few, but adding them to the post is being annoying so we’ll go with just the one, which is the view from where I sit. Considering I work at a cultural institution, and there are other ones relatively close by, rather impressed with the fact that not one of them is in frame (don’t want to entirely give my location away to strangers on the Internet, even if I do like you all :P). That’s the cafe in front there.

Um, what else did I have to say? Oh, yes! Who’s on GoodReads? Here is my profile! Let’s be friends! Also, Twitter! (And/or my non-writing Twitter if you want to read ALL my ramblings). For the most part, you can type ‘spaciireth’ into Google and I’ll appear. But I don’t tend to use half the stuff I sign up for after about three weeks. However, I’m trying to think of a Twitter name within the character limit that goes with “A Keyboard and an Open Mind” (‘keyboardopenmind’ is one character too long, dammit!), and thinking of registering another blog with that in the URL and then importing this one into it. So we’ll see.

Anyway, I think that is about all I had to say. If you are still reading by now, congratulations, have a cyber-cookie! *hands them out*. I’ll put the segment of my death-of-world-by-virus scribbling behind one of those More thingies, because I think this is already getting rather long. So yes. See ya’ll on Sunday! 😀

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‘Muppet Treasure Island’ at age 21: a journey of self-discovery

For my first post here, a trip down memory lane. Last Saturday, I was on a Tim Curry binge, and for someone of my generation, no Tim Curry binge is complete without Muppet Treasure Island. By my calculations, it had probably been over ten years since I had last seen this movie, so re-watching it now proved to be quite a journey of self-discover. Here are some of the things I learned, both about the movie and myself.

  1. I was, am and always will be vaguely scared of Animal.

    I get scared easily at the best of times. I also have a tendency to get creeped out by weird things that aren’t really that creepy. I think Animal falls under that category. I think I am to constantly haunted of that scene in The Muppet Movie where he grows and grows and grows and emerges out of the roof of… that building (it’s been a while). I actually had a couple of dreams after seeing The Muppet Movie for the first time that involved houses collapsing and people emerging through the roof. I know, not scary at all, right? Hey, I was five at the time! As I said, it’s been a while, so I thought perhaps I would be over this silly phobia. Apparently not. When Animal screamed, “Politics! Politics! Politics!” and banged on the drums on Saturday evening, I found myself feeling just as creeped out by him as I always had. Clearly, there are some things you just don’t grow out of.

  2. I will never be able to watch a Star Wars movie without hearing Miss Piggy’s voice every time Yoda speaks.

    It makes me a bad sci-fi fan, I know, but the only Star Wars film I have seen all the way through is the first one. I started watching The Empire Strikes Back one day whilst making cupcakes, but the cupcake-making took less time than the movie, so I didn’t get as far as the end, and I haven’t had a chance to go back and catch up. However, the thing that really struck me the first time Yoda appeared on screen was just how much he sounded like Miss Piggy when he was yelling at Luke. A quick text message to my boyfriend, Muppets aficionado, confirmed that yes, both characters were voiced by Frank Oz.  Please insert the aural equivalent of “cannot unsee” (“cannot unhear?”) here.

  3. Just because a boy in a movie is attractive when you’re nine years old, it doesn’t mean you’ll still find him attractive now that you’re older.

    Well, you would think this one would go without saying. Really. But apparently I needed it confirmed. Jim Hawkins, aka British actor Kevin Bishop, was one of the reasons that I watched MTI many, many, many times when I was about nine. I thought he was pretty cute. And for some reason, I expected that I would still feel this way about the fifteen-years-old-but-looked-eleven version of him. There was actually a sinking feeling in my heart upon discovering that this wasn’t so (and also that his not-quite-broken voice was kind of annoying). Now, I just did a Google image search and Kevin Bishop, who is now 30, has turned out not too badly, aethetically speaking (though some images were better than others). It just doesn’t feel the same, though. Sigh.

These were the main three things that occurred to me during my Saturday night in, apart from realising that Long John Silver does not fall for psychological threatening and will in fact turn it back around on you if you try, and finally getting those few jokes that go right over the heads of the younger viewers and are in there for the parents. Anyone else ever had moments like these upon rewatching movies from childhood?