NaNoReMo Opening Lines

grahamewindwillowsI am reading two books again for National Novel Reading Month again.

The reason I’m reading two is because if one goes sour on me, I have a back-up…if not, I will have read two wonderful, classic books in February.

I also like to at least have a book to read on my Kindle app, to read when I’m on the bus or when I’m waiting in doctor’s offices or before I go to sleep at night.

My two books this year are The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury, in paperback and The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame in eBook form. I decided to go with Wind in the Willows because I opened it up and was struck by the opening lines and kept on reading. It begins:

“The Mole had been working very hard all the morning, spring-cleaning his little home. First with brooms, then with dusters; then on ladders and steps and chairs, with a brush and a pail of whitewash; till he had dust in his throat and eyes, and splashes of whitewash all over his black fur, and an aching back and weary arms. Spring was moving in the air above and in the earth below and around him, penetrating even his dark and lowly little house with its spirit of divine discontent and longing…”

I like that…divine discontent. I can identify with little Mole, tired of winter and longing for spring. So I’m reading on with that same spirit of hopefulness.

I started reading The Martian Chronicles on the bus yesterday afterbradbury2 class. I had a trip to make to one of the main stations to purchase a bus pass, since I’ve been sick and haven’t felt much like doing anything. So I had a bit of time on my hands on the buses and waiting for buses to read. It’s got an interesting start, too:

“One minute it was Ohio winter, with doors closed, windows locked, the panes blind with frost, icicles fringing every roof, children skiing on slopes, housewives lumbering like great black bears in their furs along the icy streets.”

A strange Earthly opening vision for a novel about the Red Planet, but it gets there soon enough.

I’m enjoying both books so far. I hope wherever you are, you are reading something enjoyable.

What are you reading right now?

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“Nothing But Flowers” KINDLE FREE Promotion

Received an email message from eMergent Publishing editor Jodi Cleghorn about a deal going on at the Kindle Store that’s way too good for anyone to pass up. EMergent Publishing is having a Kindle promotion for the anthology Nothing But Flowers.  Jodi says:

The promotion runs from Wednesday 23rd until Friday 25th, US (pacific) midnight to midnight, UK 9:00am – 9:00am, Australia 6:00pm – 6:00pm. It is a free download, and you don’t have to be signed up to any special program – you do need an Amazon account though. You also don’t need a dedicated Kindle eReader. The anthology can be read on a variety of devices using the Kindle App http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?ie=UTF8&docId=1000493771 including smart phones, tablets and desk top computers.

KINDLE LINKS

USA http://www.amazon.com/Nothing-But-Flowers-Post-Apocalyptic-ebook/dp/B0073G2FRU/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1337733639&sr=1-3

UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/Nothing-But-Flowers-Post-Apocalyptic-ebook/dp/B0073G2FRU/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1337733686&sr=1-3

ABOUT LITERARY MIX TAPES

Inspired by the practice of recording music mix tapes, Literary Mix Tapes combines a love of music and short stories with a unique blend of creative crowd sourcing, collective submission and old-fashioned editorial grunt to create concept anthologies showcasing the freshest voices in speculative fiction.

ABOUT NOTHING BUT FLOWERS

Nothing But Flowers editor, Jodi Cleghorn despairing for musical inspiration for a Valentines Day anthology with a difference, had The Best of Talking Heads playing in the car at the end of a six hour drive from country New South Wales to Brisbane in January 2011. Fifteen minutes from home (Nothing But) Flowers came on and she seized on the concept of post-apocalyptic love stories using the song as a starting point. Always intrigued by the idea of daisies reclaiming Pizza Huts and yearning for a lawn mower, Cleghorn gave authors free reign over how they used the song, rather than assigning lyrics as individual prompts.

BLURB

In a devastated world, a voice calls out through the darkness of space, a young woman embraces Darwin, a man lays flowers in a shattered doorway, a two-dimensional wedding feast awaits guests, a Dodge Challenger roars down the deserted highway…and that’s just the beginning.

Inspired by the Talking Heads’ song of the same name, Nothing but Flowers explores the complexities and challenges of love in a post-apocalyptic landscape; from a take-away coffee mug to a gun to the head, a fortune cookie to a guitar, the open road and beyond. Poignant, funny, horrifying and sensual, this collection of short fiction leaves an indelible mark on ideas of what it means to love and be loved.

The History

Nothing But Flowers was released on Valentines Day, each story available free on the web for a period of 48 hours. In the 72 hours which spanned all stories being available, there were more than 3000 views of the stories, equivalent of selling around 60 books!

Three months later the paperback launched online with sister charity anthology 100 Stories for Queensland. Within hours of being released the anthology went to #1 in all four categories it was listed in on Amazon UK (Sci-Fi Anthology, Sci-Fi Short Stories, Fantasy Anthology, Fantasy Short Stories) and reached #13 in the general anthology charts there. It also reached #1 in Canada’s Amazon store (in its given categories) and as high as #13 in the US Amazon charts.

The anthology remained in the top 100 for a month in Sci-Fi and Fantasy Anthologies categories in both the UK and Canada.

The authors of Nothing But Flowers went on to provide the 26 song prompts for Literary Mix Tapes follow up anthology Eighty Nine.

Ten stories from the anthology were chosen in March 2012 for adaptation to screen in eMergent Publishing’s first joint movie project, co-produced by Jodi Cleghorn and Devin Watson.

Stories and Authors

Sound of Silence Laura Eno 
Scarecrow Man Jodi Cleghorn
Daisy’s Cafe Sam Adamson
On the Corner of Clerk Street Rebecca Emin
Sophie Solitaire: Confessions of an End Time Girl Maria Kelly
Diana the Phoenix Christopher Chartrand
Headlines and Post-It Notes Adam Byatt
Escape from Paradise Rob Diaz
Nothing Else Matters Carrie Clevenger
Grey, Like Stone Lily Mulholland
I Dream of Cherry Pies Jen Brubacher
There But For Fortune Dale Challener Roe
Click Annie Evett
Two Fools in Love Graham Storrs
Golden Opportunity P.J. Kaiser
Warrior Rebecca Dobbie
Deux Sots Paul Servini
Alone Janette Dalgliesh
The Rose Garden Jim Bronyaur
Empty Shelves Benjamin Solah
The Gift Emma Newman
This was Paradise Icy Sedgwick
Absent Jason Coggins
Dinner in Paphos Susan May James
Driver and the Beautiful Highway Dan Powell

So go get a copy of Nothing But Flowers while it’s free and enjoy yourself some post-apocalyptic love!


Bad Day at Bull Funk’s, excerpt from Kill the Crow #1

I’m going to be posting a few excerpts from my upcoming short story collection, beginning with this one:

He threw his cigarette down and was about to squash it under his heel when two vehicles pulled up. A Chevy cargo van and a classic red T-bird. Six elderly people got out. One woman and five men. A seventh man remained behind the wheel of the van, scowling.

Shit! thought Brent. Six customers? And all of them older than blame.

So much for an easy morning. He stomped his cigarette out and returned inside the store. He waited behind the counter as the old farts filed in with their canes and walkers. The last one in the door (a gent with a limp and a bushy iron-gray beard) turned and shut the door. He flipped the sign in the window over from “OPEN” to “CLOSED.”

Brent watched with mild amusement. “Waddidya do that for?”

The old woman went behind the counter. She pulled a Colt .45 Automatic out of her handbag and jammed it between Brent’s eyes.

“Oh, you gotta be shitting me!” Brent cried. “You’re fucking robbing us?”

“Yes and no,” said the woman.

Brent laughed. Grandma pressed the gun harder into his skull.

“Hey, that hurts!” Brent said.

“It’s supposed to,” Granny said. She watched her accomplices. They were rummaging through the section where the tequila display was. “Hurry up and get it together. Jimmy, you get the boxes from the back.”

“Okay, Bev. We’re on it.” Jimmy propped his cane against the shelves.

“What? You’re stealing liquor?” Brent asked incredulously.

“Just what we need,” replied Bev.

Brent made a move to subdue the old woman, but she grabbed the arm he was trying to strong-arm her with and twisted it behind his back. Brent yelped in pain. Christ, the old bitch is STRONG! Bev walloped him on the back of the head with the butt of the gun. He swayed, but didn’t pass out. He ceased struggling. Bev leaned in close to him.

“There’s a smart boy,” she whispered. She licked his earlobe. Brent shivered, frightened and grossed out at the same time. He twisted around and looked up at the security camera. Fake, but still…

“We know it doesn’t work,” said Ironbeard from the door.

Brent didn’t ask how they knew. He watched silently as the others began loading up the boxes with bottles of tequila.

“Why tequila?”

“Nosy little jerk, ‘aint he?” Jimmy said. “And brave. Last punk didn’t say or do a fricking thing.”

“Didn’t help him in the end, though, did it? He was still…” said one of the other men loading boxes. What did he say? It sounded like exyunitch.What the hell was that? Brent wondered. Did the old bitch damage his hearing when she hit him?

“Now, Rocky. It’s okay,” said Bev. She still had a hammer-lock on Brent. The business end of the gun was once more against his forehead. She leaned in to whisper. “We have a craving for fermented agave.” She was licking his ear again. “Among other things.”

Stay tuned for more excerpt goodness…

NaNoReMo: Reviews of Frankenstein & The Book of Dragons

Get your paws on a good book!

I participated in this NaNoReMo (National Novel Reading Month) thing where a bunch of us writers read some classic books for the month of January, a great idea that writer John Wiswell came up with.

I decided to read Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and The Book of Dragons by Edith Nesbit. Both books were free downloads from Amazon’s Kindle store, and I have the Kindle app on my iPhone. It charges on the stand by my bed at night, and I have the habit of reading from it before going to sleep.

Frankenstein: I’ve seen the different movie versions, from Boris Karloff to Gene Wilder’s comic performance, but I’d never read the book. I was very surprised by it. It’s told through the vehicle of letter-writing. A man exploring the Arctic by ship, Robert Walton, begins writing letters to his sister home in England, telling her the tale of the strange man they encounter, emaciated and ill on the ice: Dr. Victor Frankenstein.

Walton relates Frankenstein’s tale of horror to his sister: The doctor became fascinated with a new branch of science involving the animation of flesh. He created a hideous creature. This is the part of the story that’s familiar to us.

But what surprised me was that unlike the films, the monster is intelligent. He begins his life with an aesthetic outlook that the cruelty of mankind (and especially the rejection of his creator) obliterates within him until he becomes increasingly bitter and violent. He tries to reason with Frankenstein, asks him to create another being, an Eve, if you will. Frankenstein’s refusal and the subsequent losses he endures at the hands of the monster, his resolution to pursue his creature in order to end it’s existence makes the story an exciting read.

I’ll end my summation of it with this: Either you will be put off by the format and disparity between the book the films and hate it; or you will enjoy comparing and contrasting it to the films. The latter is the experience I had.

E. Nesbit 1858-1924

The Book of Dragons: Edith Nesbit was an English author and poet who wrote over 60 books for children. I wanted to read this book because I’ve been reading (and writing) a lot about dragons lately and I’d heard about Nesbit’s dragon stories for children.

The Book of Dragons was compiled and published in 1900. There are a total of eight short stories. Here are my favorites, with a brief summary:

The first story, The Book of Beasts, tells of a young king who finds a magical book of creatures. When he opens the book to a picture of any creature, it escapes from the book. Naturally, the boy king Lionel accidentally lets loose a dragon on his kingdom.

Uncle James, or The Purple Stranger is a charming tale of a place called Rotundia where elephants are the size of puppies and rabbits the size of elephants. And there is a purple dragon, but he’s not friendly like you’d think a purple dragon ought to be.

The Island of the Nine Whirlpools. I loved this story. It has a princess locked in a tower, under a curse, and guarded by a dragon. Sound familiar? Well, Nigel is no Shrek, but he may have what it takes to rescue the princess from the dragon. As someone who appreciates (but doesn’t enjoy) mathematical problem solving, I had to applaud Nigel’s brainpower.

There’s other great dragons in this book, including an ice dragon (The Ice Dragon, or Do as You Are Told) and an awesome dragon made of iron (The Dragon Tamers).

I really enjoyed these imaginative dragon tales. I think they’re great stories, for children of all ages. 🙂

NaNoReMo: The Classics and the Frugal Reader

It's National Novel Reading Month!

A Twitter writer friend, John Wiswell, had the awesome idea of reading classic books for NaNoRemo: National Novel Reading Month. A bunch of us have jumped on the wagon and are perusing lists of classic books and trying to decide what to read. We’re tweeting our progress with the hashtag #NaNoReMo.

What constitutes a classic? Here’s a list to help: Modern Library 100 Best Novels. Thanks to Danielle La Paglia for the link.

I’ve seen film adaptations of several of the eBooks I downloaded, but have never read the actual books. I’m determined to rectify that, since more often than not the book is better than the film. I’ve already started my NaNoReMo with Frankenstein. I may try to fit The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in as well, since some of the other participants are going to be reading it. Reading classic fiction can be hard, especially fiction that falls under the “literary” umbrella. Participant Tony Noland recommends two websites to help with reading a challenging book: How To Read a Difficult Book and Tough Tomes. Of course, if you’re not enjoying any book, don’t torture yourself. There’s nothing more agonizing than trying to plow through a book you’re not connecting with.

A great way to join us in NaNoReMo is through Amazon’s free eBook Kindle store. You don’t need a Kindle to download Kindle books. You can download the Kindle app to your PC, Mac or phone. I have Kindle on my iPhone 4. I have always had it and don’t really see the need to purchase a Kindle. My phone goes everywhere I go, so I can read anytime I like. Amazon has an iPhone app for its Kindle Store, too, so getting new titles is as easy as tapping the screen. I know free eBooks don’t have the best formatting, but they’re FREE! And when you’re a college student like I am, on a shoestring budget, FREE is GOOD. I can look past crappy formatting for now. But we all have different preferences when it comes to reading eBooks. If you have a hard time dealing with formatting issues, please see the section below on Project Gutenberg.

Amazon Kindle Store: Some of the classics I downloaded for FREE on Amazon’s Kindle Store:

  • The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Around the World in Eighty Days, by Jules Verne
  • The Book of Dragons, by Edith Nesbit (started reading it before deciding on NaNoReMo)
  • The Devil’s Dictionary, by Ambrose Bierce
  • The Empty House and Other Stories, by Algernon Blackwood
  • Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
  • The Island of Doctor Moreau, by H.G. Wells
  • A Journey to the Center of the Earth, by Jules Verne
  • The Land That Time Forgot, by Edgar Rice Burroughs
  • Moby Dick, by Herman Melville
  • The People of the Mist, by Henry Rider Haggard
  • The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame

Project Gutenberg: Another great site to get free eBooks for your Kindle app (as recommended by Sonia Lal) is Project Gutenberg, notable archive of public domain fiction. I visited the website last night and joyfully discovered that they have a mobile site…in beta testing, but I downloaded it to my phone desktop, anyway. It works sort of like Amazon’s Kindle Store. Sonia tells me PG’s formatting is better than the Amazon freebies, so that’s worth noting. I downloaded two books from there: Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions (Illustrated), by Edwin A. Abbot and The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells, just to test it and they do look great.

If you know any other websites that have free classic eBooks, please let me know in the comments section. I’m sure I’ll be blogging about the subject of frugal reading again soon.

With all of these choices for reading, there’s no reason you can’t join us for NaNoReMo.

C’mon, join the Classical Movement!