Archives for June 2017

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20 Reasons to Read Books

Not that most of us need more reasons to read books. 🙂 But if you ever run into one of those “why do you read?” conversations, these might be fun to throw in.

Why You Should Read:
20 Reasons

Ready for the count-down? Here goes!

20. Easy-to-use (No manual required)

Open. Read. It’s that simple.

19. Great pause, fast-forward, and rewind features.

Flip a page. Flip it back. Insert a book mark. Or remember a page number. You don’t even need batteries or a plug!

18. Decent resale value

Sure, it depends on the book. Some of them keep only 10-30% of their resale value, but there are a lot of types of entertainment that have no resale whatsoever.

Of course, you could also keep them and re-read them. Because why get rid of something you like?

17. Great effects – waaaay better than CGI

It’s called imagination. You can make it as intricate or vague as you like. Some people focus on emotion and feelings. Other people love to picture intricate images and design the worlds in their minds. Or you do both as you feel like it.

16. No hidden fees

You pay one charge up front. That’s it – tax included. You don’t get charged extra if you don’t read at a certain speed, if you read it more than once, or if you don’t finish it. One charge – that’s all. There’s not even any interest.

15. No commercial breaks – no upgrade required

That’s right. The only thing that’s going to pause your reading enjoyment is you. Or other people. If you have other people around you – you can always lock them out. Turn off your phone. That sort of thing.

It’s up to you.

14. Single-player and multi-player modes

You can read it by yourself. You can read it and then discuss it in a book club. You can read it to someone. You can have it read to you. You can take turns reading sections. You can even listen to a stranger read it.

So many options.

13. No license renewal

If you’re over 20, you lived through the transition from buying software and getting a cd with the installation information that works forever on as many computers as you want to buying software and having to pay a yearly license fee or new fees for additional users. Well, not for books! Once you buy one, it’s yours!

12. Millions of different models to choose from

And that’s probably an understatement. A major understatement. There are so many different genres of both fiction and nonfiction as well as thousands of different authors with different publications.

Oh, and lest I forget, you don’t have to choose between them. You can read as many or as few as you like.

11. Low budget

What other fun activity can you do repeatedly for under $10? Ok. Don’t answer that. But as far as hobbies go, reading is relatively cheap.

10. Teaches empathy

Reading stories gives you new perspectives into other people’s problems, which in turn leads to empathy. Something that can help you do better in interpersonal relationships whether they’re business relationships or closer than that.

9. Helps with school work

Learn more vocabulary. Improve reading comprehension skills. Increase your understanding of plot and other literary devices. The list goes on and on.

8. Increases IQ

Want to read more about why? Read the lifehack article. For the short version, enlarging vocabulary and improving empathy helps.

7. Available for free

Remember what I said about it being cheap? Well, if you’re willing to take a trip to the library, it’s not only cheap – it’s free! Support your local libraries! And check out neighborhood lending libraries and Project Gutenberg!

6. Broadens experiences

How else can you be an astronaut, a pirate, a court lady, a space-ship captain, and a soldier in the War of 1812? In the same week?

Not to mention black, white, heterosexual, homosexual, male, female, religious, atheistic, shy, outgoing, nerdy, social, racist, broad-minded, and so on. No matter what the demographic or point of view, there are books that can expose you to them and give you a wider understanding of the world and its people.

5. Fun when you’re sober

I know, right? Who knew that was even possible?

Readers. That’s who. Oh, you can read buzzed or drunk if you like, but as you know, cognizance goes down as alcohol intake goes up. So the less alcohol you have, the more likely you are to enjoy the book! Who’d’ve thunk?

4. Great way to meet people

I know I mentioned book clubs (great way to meet new people, especially when you like having a cue for breaking the ice); however, reading books in public? Great icebreaker.

Well, unless you’re trying to read. Then, people asking you what you’re reading can actually be a bit aggravating. In fact, I’d recommend that you only read in public when reading is not the actual goal. Ooh, or unless you do it on your phone or kindle. Then, people don’t know.

3. Portable

I love paper books. On the other hand, having both paper and electronic books have made reading more portable than ever. Want to take a paperback with you to work? Why not? Want to take 10 books with you for your two 14 hour flights (14 there and 14 back) but don’t have room in your carryon? Download them on your phone. Then, you don’t even have to hide the cover.

I’ve even read while getting medical treatments and while donating blood and plasma. You can read just about anywhere, and it is amazing.

2. It’s sexy

Reading is sexy. It’s brainal. Or maybe it’s brainal foreplay. I don’t know – I get confused.

The point is that people who read tend to be interested in other people who read. That hints that you might have something in common. Plus, they’re usually turned-on by brains. Don’t ask me why. Maybe it’s a case of like pulling to like.

Oh, and speaking of like – if you read similar books? That’ll definitely get the other person’s attention.

 1. Teaches you to write

What else would I make number 1?

As much as reading is a great enjoyable experience, it’s also one of the top ways to learn to write. Like William Faulkner said, learn by example and then go out and make what you learned your own.

Go. Find time to read and then make time to write.

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Jennifer Rainey: Author Q&A Number 2

Welcome to author Q&A number 2! This month’s author is Jennifer Rainey. I’ve known her for quite a while – well, “known” may be a little strong.

As musicians in different bands, we have crossed paths a number of times over the years (In fact, I remember when her first book was published). That said, we were both generally working when we saw each other, so we don’t know each other that well. I did, however, know that she’s been writing and publishing for quite a while, so she’s one of the first people I thought to invite to do an author Q&A.

An Author Q&A with Jennifer Rainey

Before we get to the author Q&A, let me say that reading her answers was a real treat – 1. because I learned more about someone I honestly should know better, and 2. because they’re interesting to read for any author!

IMHO, of course. But I think you’ll agree.

To start, they’re detailed and have a lot of valuable information for other writers , which is one of the main goals of the Q&A (so yay!). Even beyond that, though, they have a tone and style that pulls you in and makes you curious to read more.

Read for yourself and see what you think!

jennifer rainey author q & a number 2


1. What was your first finished book?

These Hellish Happenings (though it’s out of print)–Thoroughly Modern Monsters is my earliest work in print.

2. How many books did you start or work on before finishing that book?

Only a handful! I started pretty young. I wrote the first draft of These Hellish Happenings at 18 and published it independently at 21.

3. If it wasn’t the first book you worked on, what made this book different? What made you finish this one?

I am all about characters. I love to see what makes them tick, and I was so very fond of the cast of characters in These Hellish Happenings. They are really what drove me to finish it.

4. What was the biggest challenge you encountered when finishing your first book?

Sticking to a writing schedule!! I didn’t have any discipline. That’s something that I’ve really had to develop over the years.

5. If you’ve written books since then, was writing them easier/harder? How was the experience different?

WAY easier! It gets easier every time. For example, where These Hellish Happenings took three years from start to finish, my latest book, The Last Temptations of Iago Wick, was 13 months from start to finish. Just like anything else, writing and publishing take practice, and you’ll see yourself improve with each book.

6. Have you published your book? If yes, what medium(s) did you publish it in and why?

I publish independently because I love having that control. Everything is in my control: cover, title, sales channels. Having that freedom is really valuable to me.

I publish exclusively through Amazon because I really value the promotional options you have with them. And I think both electronic and physical books have their merits AND their fans. Ebooks are great and convenient and you can take a ton of them with you, but there’s something really great about that physical book, too. I think it’s important to appeal to both audiences there.

7. Who did your cover art? What was that experience like?

Jennifer Rainey Q & AMe! I have some background in graphic design–I’m a marketer in my day job–so that’s a place where I’ve always been able to save some money. Corel Paint Shop Pro is my go-to program. I can’t recommend it enough as an inexpensive alternative to Adobe Photoshop.

8. How are you marketing your book(s)?

Free and bargain book mailing lists, Twitter, Facebook, networking with other folks in the paranormal fantasy genres, talking to anyone who will listen–and writing more books! We’ve all heard it a thousand times, but it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

9. What is your next step?

I just published The Last Temptations of Iago Wick in February. That’s the first in The Lovelace & Wick Series, which is a paranormal/steampunk series based in 19th century Massachusetts. I’m working on a novella for publication this summer–Iago Wick and the Vampire Queen. Also, I’m hard at work on Binding Dante Lovelace, the second book in the series.

10. What is your favorite part of writing?

When it CLICKS. It’s worth it for when those characters really come to life and the story finally comes together. It’s worth it for that final product. You truly want to rip your hair out during the writing and editing process, but it’s so worth it in the end.

11. What is your biggest struggle with writing?

I STILL struggle with making time to write sometimes. After a long day at work, you don’t always want to edit or write, but you just have to make yourself do it.

12. What do you consider your weakest writing skill and what have you done to strengthen it or make up for it?

I like things like dialogue and allegories and pretty descriptions of setting more than plot sometimes. I’ve really had to step up my plot game! I’ve started asking myself in a scene, “This is a little flat–what would TOTALLY turn it on its ear?” Then, I do that and see how it goes. Definitely ramps up the action and keeps that plot interesting!

13. Do you now or have you ever done writing prompts? Did they help?

I don’t often. They just make me want to get back to my main WIP!

14. Have you take any writing classes? Which ones? What was your biggest take-away?

I haven’t. I took a lot of English lit in college (I majored in it), but no creative writing.

15. What is your writing background? (Do you have a degree in writing, worked in writing jobs, etc.)

I majored in English at Ohio State, but I’ve been writing and telling stories my whole life. I wrote in high school, in college, and I’ve always read A LOT. Now, I’m in bank marketing and that frequently involves writing (ad copy, newsletters, etc.). I am almost always writing in one way or another!

16. Have you ever written in a writing circle? What did you think? (Why do you or why don’t you?)

A few in college. They’re both great and dangerous. Don’t listen TOO much to the opinions of others. Take away what you will, but don’t let others shape the way you write more than is helpful–especially if they are not fans of your genre.

17. Who are your favorite authors?

Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Jonathan L. Howard, H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Shakespeare… the list goes on.

18. What is the #1 advice you would give to people who want to be writers?

WRITE. If you want to write, do it. Don’t let anything get in the way. So many people WANT to write, but they don’t because they let other things get in the way. If you want to do it, do it. Make the time.

19. When and where do you write?

I mostly write in the morning. I get up at about 5:00 AM every day! Frequently, I’m either at my desk in my bedroom or sitting on the couch in my living room, but I also love visiting the library (support your public library!).


Now, that’s dedication! I used to manage 5 AM or earlier, but I’m afraid it is not in the cards for me at the moment. So props to Jennifer for doing it every day!

Come to mention it, let’s have a round of applause and a big thanks to Jennifer Rainey for filling out the author Q&A form! Weren’t her answers fun? I hope you enjoyed them as much as I did.

If anyone has anything they’d like to add to her answers or any questions, comment away. I look forward to hearing from you!

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Do You Like Brainal?

No, brainal. Do you like brainal?

Ok. No. Before your mind goes too far into the gutter, let me explain. I’m not sure who coined the term – it seems like Matthew Hussey made up this version of the word since the urban dictionary versions seem a bit different – however, I like the little neologism of puzzle pieces. Its sly inferences make it the perfect word for what it is. Like an innuendo that isn’t as dirty as you expect that becomes a kind of inside joke.

Why Smart Is Sexy
(AKA Do You Like Brainal?)

Anyway.

Long story short: smart is sexy. If you want more details, watch the video – he explains the definition far better than I could ever do. Plus, it’s funny, so watch, learn, and enjoy.

Hilarious, yeah? Plus, it’s true.

Just like grammar is sexy, smart is sexy. People like having intelligent conversation, and opening up to each other (even in little bits) is how we bond.

You know what that means, right? It means that the days of women acting dumb to attract men is over (one can hope – sorry, pet peeve). Today, if you want to attract a man, entice him by discussing intellectual topics that interest him (and you. preferably.).

If brainal is sexy, then going to book clubs and writing circles could be considered a kind of training. In fact, someday, getting an education and practicing conversation could replace reading those “How to Get a Man” magazines.

Ok. I know. But a girl can dream!

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The Clothing Makes the Character

clothing makes the characterI’m betting you know the old saying, “The clothing makes the man.” I can’t honestly say what brought it to mind, but for some reason, I started wondering whether it translated for books: “the clothing makes the character.” Is that really true?

So I tried applying the idea to some famous examples:

  • Would Drizzt Do’Urden be a different character if he wore bright, cheerful colors? Say, extravagant silks embroidered in gold and covered in gems and seed pearls?
  • What about Bilbo Baggins? Would he be the same in a floursack tunic and plain pants?
  • Would Ender Wiggin be the same if he wore tights and a leotard for training at the Battle School? Preferably in a soft pastel with a delicate pattern on it. Like weapons re-interpreted as flowers.

It’s ok. I’ll wait ’til you stop laughing and wincing.

Hard to imagine, isn’t it? In fact, it’s hysterically wrong. Those clothes are so different from how we think of those characters that it’s hard to even picture. So the clothing must have something to do with making the character, right?

The Clothing Makes the Character
Because the Character Makes the Clothing

No, literal-minded people (like me), I’m not saying the characters weave and sew their own clothing (well, some of them might but not most). Most characters, on the other hand, usually choose their own clothing.

That’s why it’s strange to think of those characters in unusual clothing – it’s not clothing they would pick under normal circumstances. Bilbo was upset about not having a pocket handkerchief for goodness sake! He would not pick something plain and rough when given other options.

And that’s actually my point. The clothing a character chooses reveals a great deal about that character’s personality and situation.

Clothing Shows More Than We Think

Practicality v. status. Personally flattering v. appealing to fashion. Career-based v. comfort-based. Culture. Region. Socio-economic status.

All these facets of characters and their lives influence their choices of clothing, personal grooming, and accessories. An extremely practical person isn’t going to prefer an outfit made of an easily-wrinkled, itchy fabric for everyday wear. Or something that impedes movement or has to be tugged back into place all the time. On the other hand, someone who loves fashion isn’t going to pick a Hawaiian shirt, khaki shorts, dark socks (knee-high), and sandals. Not in modern-day U.S., anyway.

As a rule, people pick clothing that portrays an image that they feel comfortable with. Something that suits their needs for the day but also reflects their personality, their values, and who they want people to perceive them to be.

And isn’t that the point of the original saying?

People make fast judgments about everyone they meet – based on behavior, yes, but also on appearance. Think about all the dos and don’ts we’re given for dressing for a job interview. Well, this is the reason, and it works the same way for your characters.

The clothing you give your characters gives automatic hints at what that character is like and what that character values. It’s a great way to add quirks or reveal hidden depths. Plus, the other characters are going to make assumptions about that character because of their looks as well as their actions. And, don’t forget, so are the readers!

It’s implicit characterization. That’s what it’s for.

So when you’re building a character, think not only of what the character would pick but also of what impression you want the character to give other characters – and how to tie that into your plot!

Use the clothing to make the character what you want it to be.