Category Archives: Reading

Sometimes I just have to talk about great books!

21st Century Authors

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Well, I did it.  I joined the 21st century.  I realise that probably happened when my books appeared as ebooks on Amazon.  It might also have happened when I started being allowed to submit queries by email.  Or, I might have considered myself ‘modern’ the first time I Skyped.  But no, today outstripped all my other technological advances.  Today I signed a Kindlegraph!

I love signing my books at any time.  It’s such a compliment for someone to buy, read and keep a book for an autograph.  It’s true, I worry over what to write and whether my handwriting is good enough, but ultimately, I really just love that someone wants my autograph.
For this reason, I’ve always felt a little ‘detached’ from my ebooks.  I never really considered them the kind of thing that people might keep, pore over and get signed as a keepsake.  I don’t know why I felt that way, I just did.
As you can imagine, signing myself up to Kindlegraph, was an eye opening experience.  I had thought it would involve me scanning my signature etc, etc.  But no.  For the sake of convenience, they let you choose your signature.  Serioiusly, the Kindlegraph program takes your author name and offers up a dozen different ‘written’ signatures from which to choose.  The one I selected is almost identical to my handwritten signature.  It was so exciting to see, I can’t even tell you.
The image below is the entry to the Kindlegraph site.  The front page is Tina Fey’s ‘Bossypants’ (great book btw).  You can see how the dedications and signatures come out looking.  They’re great!

Don't know how much this cost Ms Fey's publishers, but I bet it was worth it!

So the summary of my day.  Finished ghost-writing a GINORMOUS book, but got excited about my Kindlegraph.  I guess there’s just no helping a technogeek, right?
Oh yes, if you’d like me to sign a Kindlegraph for you, you can click on this link, request my Kindlegraph, your request will appear in my email inbox.  I’ll sign and then BAM it’ll be magically transported to your Kindle.  **sigh** life is just full of little miracles, is it not?
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I learned from Danielle Ferries recently, that according to the BBC, ‘most people’ will only have read about six books from the list I’ll post below.  I counted.  I’ve read seventy of them from cover to cover (I think…as I scroll I lose count.  So I can read but can’t count), some of them multiple times.  It occurs to me now, that this is why nobody computes when, if asked a deep and meaningful question to which nobody can possibly know the answer, I often shrug and reply “forty-two”.

Aside from the obvious problem of having a sense of humour only I can appreciate, I’m glad I’ve read these books.  There’s not one on the list I’ve read that I would consider a waste of time.  Some, I would consider my all time favourites.How about you?  How many have you read?  Which were your favourites?

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien

3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling

5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

6 The Bible

7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell

9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman

10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott

12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy

13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare

15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien

17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulk

18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger

19 The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

20 Middlemarch – George Eliot

21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell

22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald

24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy

25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck

29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame

31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy

32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens

33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis

34 Emma -Jane Austen

35 Persuasion – Jane Austen

36 The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe – CS Lewis

37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres

39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden

40 Winnie the Pooh – A.A. Milne

41 Animal Farm – George Orwell

42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown

43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving

45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins

46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery

47  Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy

48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding

50 Atonement – Ian McEwan

51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel

52 Dune – Frank Herbert

53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons

54  Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen

55  A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth

56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon

57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens

58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon

60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac

67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy

68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding

69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie

70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville

71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens

72 Dracula – Bram Stoker

73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson

75 Ulysses – James Joyce (Couldn’t get through this one)

76 The Inferno – Dante

77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome

78 Germinal – Emile Zola

79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray

80 Possession – AS Byatt

81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell

83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker

84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro

85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert

86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry

87 Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White

88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton

91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad

92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery

93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks

94 Watership Down – Richard Adams

95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole

96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute

97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas

98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare

 

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl

100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

Foley and The Friendship Launch

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When I was in grade seven or eight, I had a favourite book.  It was called Your Friend, Rebecca. In the book, Rebecca was a loner without any real friends at

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all.  At that stage of my life, I really identified with her and thought that perhaps, this would also be the rest of my life.

Today I hosted the official launch of Foley Russel And That Poor Girl. I’m always nervous of events like this, because I’m not sure of how many people will show (you know the nightmare about the room full of food but no friends to share it).  When they do appear, I worry about sharing myself across so many people without having anyone feel left out.

On the other hand while circulating today, I took a moment to stop and just gaze across the crowd.  In that moment I felt incredibly lucky.  “Just look,” I thought to myself.  “Just look at all those people who showed up in support of me.  I must be the luckiest person on Earth.”  Even more gratifyingly, it’s been the same faces, that of late, have appeared at so many milestone events for me. They’re constant, these friends of mine.

The new friends who came along today, are people I’ve met since moving house.  How generous to come along in support of the new girl, just to be sure she’s not lost, lonely or left out.

Rebecca Fogarty drove for three hours to come to this event with her son, Cory and her husband Kim.  Cory has CF and Rebecca read this book when it was still in manuscript phase.  I was so thrilled to have her there, I couldn’t say so often enough.

There were sponsors too.  Mindfood Magazine, Fine Wine Partners, Belgian Delights Chocolates, Legs Eleven Stockings, Gold Coast Studio of Beauty and Eufloria.  These people donated their products and skills in support of a great cause (The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation).

Of course some people couldn’t make it.  Lots of them texted and emailed to wish me luck. That they could be wrapped up in the midst of busy lives but still take time to remember me, is a thing of wonder.

Together these people donated almost four hundred dollars to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.  They bought books and stories for relatives and friends and children of friends.  They told me their own stories and wrapped me up in their care and their warmth.

So to all of you, I say thank you.  Thank you for everything.

Your friend, Rebecca

Preserved Lemons…

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I have a massive glut of lemons in my garden at the moment, so I today I made up three jars of preserved lemons.  They don’t look quite as pretty as the ones you buy in the shops, but I’m sure they’ll taste the same.  The bonus related to doing this now, is that in the middle of winter, when I’m all dismal and miserable (as I always am in the middle of winter), I will be able to whip up the odd chicken tagine, complete with preserved lemon!  Complete with an accompaniment of fluffy couscous, I can’t imagine anything more likely to make me feel warm, inside and out!

In addition to excellent winter food, I’m also looking forward to some excellent winter reading.  I’m doing it already actually.  I’ve had my had stuck in a series called Savants Blood by Will Greenway.  It’s a brilliant series, keeping me in the perfect frame of mind while I write/edit my own fantasy novel (yes, I’m always reading the same genre in which I’m writing).

All I need now, is to locate the necessary warm spot in my new apartment (like a cat I lay myself out in the warmest patch of sunshine I can find), in order to partake in all this early winter loveliness!

Book Week

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Book Week isn’t until August but I’m already excited.

The Logan City Library has asked me if I’ll be their Young Adult author during book week.  Presumably this means I get to talk to kids about books.  How wonderful.  Being that I love books, kids and talking, I think this is going to be a marvelous experience.

Book Week was always one of my favourite things when I was a kid.  A whole week devoted to my favourite thing and the chance for that one week, to be an expert on something.  Everyone has a specialty.  Mine was never really Math and it was only sometimes English, but books, books and I were a match made in heaven.  I was never without my head in one and there was always a spare ‘support’ book in my bag, just in case I should finish one more quickly than expected and then find myself bereft.  Imagine, alone at a bus stop with nothing to read (gasp!).

Hopefully now, I’ll get the chance to pass on some of this passion to other kids, if not via my books, at least through my enthusiasm for other people’s work.  And for those kids who already love books, maybe I’ll be a sign for them, that books can lead to great things, fun things and life full of wonder.

Yes, I’m excited.  Now I just hope, I haven’t peaked too early!

Food for thought…

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No, I’m not talking about the delicious stir-fry I had for dinner last night.  I’m talking about my proposal to the Auslib people.  Auslib are a group of Australian library related people who specifically deal with young people.  I rang them with the idea that I might be able to do a presentation at the upcoming conference on ‘re-engaging disenfranchised teens with books’.  That sounds really boring, so it became “With A Bit Of A Mind Slip, You’re Into a Paradigm Shift”.  Rocky Horror buffs like me will get a chuckle.

Anyway, the crux of the idea is that young people take up information and ideas differently than ‘us oldies’.  Facebook, Myspace, Twitter and a myriad of other social networking sites now enable people to review products and books easily and quickly.  Teens have become especially good at finding out what new technologies are great and what are not.  ‘Viral’ images etc  are a direct result of these social networking systems.  ‘Viral’ footage is representative of what kids like and where kids are spending their time/money.

What does this mean for people in the book trade?  It means we have to change the way we present our product to teens.  These are my ideas so far:

  1. It’s not only about presentation and promotion: a dodgy product won’t go viral, so first, write a GREAT book.
  2. Present yourself to kids.  Real people doing real things and being honest about it, is something kids can appreciate.
  3. Have an online presence.  That’s where most kids spend lots of time nowadays, if you want to interact with them, you should be there too.
  4. Be happy to talk about what you do.  In fact, just be happy, nobody’s interested in a sad-sack!
  5. Book networks are actually not networks, in fact they’re usually very linear, the writer->agent->publisher->bookseller.  Kids work in networks, great big webs of interconnections, what does that say about the design of our process?

Any young ‘uns out there want to have a say?  What should librarians and booksellers be doing in order to encourage you back to books?