Monday, February 25, 2008

An Irish Country Doctor

An Irish Country Doctor, by Patrick Taylor.

I started casting the movie version of this book just a few pages into it - Liam Neeson and Jonathan Rhys Meyers as the two doctors. (Okay, so I'd watch those two in just about anything - but I do think they fit the characters.)

This was published as adult fiction, but it's both appropriate and interesting for a younger reader. (I'm basing this, of course, on my own childhood reading, which I can't even pretend was typical.)

Other reviews:
Speaking Volumes

Meet the author:
Visit Patrick Taylor's website, or listen to an interview.

What stuck with me: Really well-done characters. And dialect that's both easy to read and easy to "hear." My mother, who read the book before me, described it as James Herriot with people, and I can't really improve on that.

Where the book is going next: I think it's off to the hands of a former bookstore coworker, who will absolutely adore it.

Makes me want to read: This is the first of four books, so I'm waiting for my turn with An Irish Country Village. I've spent the past few weeks listening to James Herriot books on my commute, and this one makes me want more Yorkshire dialect, too. Oh, and one more thing - a Gaelic pronunciation guide. That's one language I just can't sound out.

Makes me want to reread: A Cap for Mary Ellis - the two books have almost nothing to do with each other, but both touch on the question of the time and emotional commitment needed to work in medicine.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

I sold Touchstone yesterday!

Not a lot of handselling at the store this weekend - too many new orders to be put into inventory - but Touchstone was my big victory. Now I just need a chance to read it myself.

I've decided to add a new feature to my bookstore posts: Best Misshelving. This doesn't cover simple things like finding Roddy Doyle's Paula Spencer in with the S authors. No, this recognizes the truly creative failure to shelve correctly.

Best Misshelving of the week:

Making Money, by Terry Pratchett
Where I found it: On the finance/investing shelf of the business section

Saturday, February 23, 2008

I love it when someone else says it better than me

I came up with a pen and tablet hoping to write an immortal short store, but I've been having a dreadful time with my heroine -- I CAN'T make her behave as I want her to behave; so I've abandoned her for the moment, and am writing to you. (Not much relief though, for I can't make you behave as I want you to, either.)

-- Daddy Long-Legs, by Jean Webster

Friday, February 22, 2008

Because every snow day needs a challenge

I'm dual-blogging this morning, working on my Omnibus post in one tab, and this in another. Anything that doesn't quite fit into Omnibus will end up over here, and Google Reader will breathe a sigh of relief as I empty it of all my bookmarked posts.

Jezebel is not usually on my reading list, but I love Fine Lines - adults look back at YA and children's books from a perspective that veers between snarky and nostalgic. A few of the highlights: The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Little House in the Big Woods, Jacob Have I Loved.

Via the Inkwell Bookstore Blog, I learned that the Doomsday Book has been posted online. Another way to both research and procrastinate at the same time!

Speaking of simultaneous research and procrastination, Boston 1775 has been a huge help to me in working on my post-Revolutionary War WIP. Last week, J.L. Bell looked into the history of Oscar Marion, Francis Marion's slave.

Also for the procrastination files: International Children's Digital Library.

At The Lady Killers, Ann Parker has started a series on 1880s-style romance. Fun stuff.

All I can say to Gail Gauthier's story is this: me too.

I've been skimming the Zombie Idol entries - one of these days I'll actually read them all.

On the to-do list: Buy Book Nerd t-shirt.

Via The Elegant Variation: the role of indie bookstores (especially black-owned) in promoting new black writers.

Microlending in kidlit: I love it.

Two stories that made me cringe: "invisible ink" for voting, and embezzling at the Oxford American.

All kinds of great writing tips:
From Writer's First Aid, a technique for writing through writer's block (and an even better one in the comments - I'm going to try this with my problem narrator).
Author2Author links to some guides to proofreaders' marks.
Lisa Chellman on naming characters.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Love the imagery

From Mike Pesca's piece on yesterday's All Things Considered:

At the time, television cameras were cumbersome monstrosities that couldn't survive in the wild.

TBR - in this case, to be reviewed

I've read a lot of good books recently, but haven't had time for any reviewing - but I will, especially the galleys I got from Wi3. Look for these soon:

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, by E. Lockhart
Princess Ben, by Catherine Gilbert Murdock (side note - how does it feel to watch your sister's book soar to the top of reading group lists across the country just as you're getting started?)
The Just Grace books, by Charise Mericle Harper

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

How I spent Sunday afternoon

Fame, she says? I'll take it.

I stopped by the ever-fabulous Wellesley Booksmith (how is it that in three years I never discovered the store's basement?) to see Mitali Perkins launch her latest book, First Daughter: White House Rules.

It was great to meet Mitali in person, after "meeting" here in blogland. And since I was a political junkie back when I was the age of all the kids in the audience, I loved seeing them get so into the political trivia.

(Favorite moment, hands down: When Mitali handed out a list of nonpartisan websites, explaining that they were good for figuring out who to vote for, one girl announced, "My mom needs that!")

Visit Mitali's blog for video of her presentation. HipWriterMama also has a write-up.

The visit to the Booksmith, plus all the time I spent in the car (I can't read on all those hilly back roads, so I get a lot of knitting and thinking done when I visit my relatives), gave me the kick in the butt I needed to get back to writing. I haven't been making much progress on my WIP for the past few weeks, so I'm going to set it aside and start something new. (In a new notebook, no less!)

Thanks, Mitali, for putting on a great event!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

The Mindset List

Beloit College has posted its annual Mindset List for the class of 2011. These are always fun to go through, but I wonder if they make other people feel as out of touch with their own generation as the lists for my years (I started college as part of the class of 2005, but graduated in 2004, so I claim both lists) did for me.

2004 highlights
12. They have always bought telephones, rather than rent them from AT&T. [Very true. I remember reading Erma Bombeck's The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank and being absolutely aghast at the fact that her phones were limited to what the phone company rep offered.]

25. Three Mile Island is ancient history, and nuclear accidents happen in other countries. [I spent one summer living in an apartment at Penn State Harrisburg, and every morning I drove out of there looking at the TMI smokestacks.]

31. Bear Bryant has never coached at Alabama. [Come on, I don't pay attention to football, but even I know that - granted, I learned it from reading Miss Manners.]

37. Woodstock is a bird or a reunion, not a cultural touchstone. [I beg to differ. I was hardly the only one who went through a hippie phase in middle school.]

43. They only know Madonna singing American Pie. [Items like this one are where they really lose me. Does the Beloit administration actually believe that none of their students grew up listening to "Like a Virgin"?]

47. They have never used a bottle of "White Out." [I have no idea what they're after here - maybe a reference to the fact that we use computers? Actually, this makes me think of the unusual popularity of Wite-Out pens among my middle school classmates.]

2005 highlights:

3. The New Kids on the Block are over the hill. [Now? Yes. But when I was in elementary school, they were huge.]

25. Sarajevo was a war zone, not an Olympic host. [No argument here.]

39. They have probably never used carbon paper and do not know what cc and bcc mean. [When I was little, I would accumulate the carbon paper from bank deposit slips and such, because it was so cool to play with.]

41. Major newspapers have always been printed in color. [For the past couple days, my local paper has been printing in black and white. It's hard to get used to.]

(via Boing Boing)

Lessons in storytelling

My iPod battery ran out on the way to work yesterday, so I had one of my rare days of listening to live radio on the commute.

I was fortunate enough to hear an absolutely amazing piece on All Things Considered. Michele Norris interviewed Franklin McCain, one of the four students who initiated the sit-in at a Woolworth's lunch counter on February 1, 1960.

"Interview" isn't an accurate description of this piece - Norris asked one or two questions initially, and McCain took it from there, making it more of a narrative than a Q&A.

McCain has an accent that's almost closer to Down East Maine (think Spitfire Grill) than Deep South.

Besides that, he has an incredible way with words. He described the "natural high" that came fifteen seconds after sitting down on the stool: "a feeling of liberation, restored manhood."

And the man knows how to tell a story. This isn't just a reminiscence about one of the seminal moments in civil rights history, it's also a realization that McCain had his own prejudices that day - and how he responded.

(Side note: I'm curious about the editing that went into this piece - was Norris' conversation with McCain initially more of a dialogue, or did McCain tell his story without interruption?