2017 A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal!

I kept a list of ideas for this year’s theme, trying to figure out what would be fun and interesting and sustainable through 26 letters of the alphabet. My original concept was to do “Characters I Want to Meet.” But then, when I started listing them, I realized there was one character on the list. Einstein, the dog from Watchers. Because I’m antisocial.

Soooooo, that topic was out. I won’t bore you with the entire list of rejected ideas. Without further ado, the theme is…

Drumroll please!

26 of the Best Characters from Fiction

It’s a subtle but important change from my original concept.

I’m going to try to avoid talking about books I’ve discussed extensively in the past. For example, my first thought was A for Alice in Wonderland and P for Pollyanna, but I’ve discussed both of those books and characters more than once.

Stay tuned. Sunday, April 1, it begins.

See you then.

If you’re an A to Z blogger, please leave a link to your blog in the comments.

Judging Books By Covers

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The first book I picked up because the cover was pretty. The second, because I like the way the vines look.

I have some strong opinions when it comes to books, possibly about many things that other people don’t care about.  That’s okay; I can live with that.

One of the things that drives me crazy is when a movie comes out, and suddenly the book is released with a different version of the cover to reflect the movie.  I get why they do that; it’s to increase sales.  Associating the book with the movie makes good sense from a marketing standpoint.

But I still don’t like it.

In general, I prefer the older covers, and when I go to used book stores, I can spend several minutes choosing which cover I like best.  For example, I accidentally bought two copies of The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath.  This was a great book, but I obviously don’t need two copies of it.  However, I can’t decide which one to sell back to Half-Price Books because I like both covers.

People say “don’t judge a book by its cover,” obviously meaning not to judge something’s content by what it looks like on the inside. It’s true, but I confess that sometimes a book cover will catch my eye, and that’s the only reason I read the description on the back of the book.

These things matter. If they didn’t, all books would be in a plain brown cover with simple black writing. A good cover can hint about the contents. When I’m in the mood to read horror, I’m unlikely to pick something with flowers on the cover, no matter what the title says. Well, unless they’re dead flowers. Or blood spattered… you get the idea.

One of the best choices I made, based on the cover, was John Dies at the End. I spotted it while walking through the library, and when I read the back, I had to give it a try. It was a fantastic book. Runners up are the ones pictured above.

Is the book cover important to you?  What are your preferences?

A Tale of Two Doggies

I have two dogs.  Both of them are wonderfully good dogs with very different personalities.

_dsf4196Midnyte is purely dog.  She’s a lab mix, not too bright, but always ready to play, bringing me slobbery ball after slobbery ball.  At over 14, she slows down a lot faster than she used to, but if I’m ready to play, she’s in… no matter how much she might limp later.

When there are no humans around, she mostly lays or rolls in the grass.  She prefers to be the center of attention, and growls or barks if her sister does anything “against the rules.”  She also can’t stand if Ripley gets any attention whatsoever.  We’ve nicknamed Midnyte the “fun hater,” though it would be more accurate to say she only hates fun if she’s not the one having it.

IMG_1549 - Version 2 – Version 3Ripley, on the other hand, I’m convinced is a human trapped in a dog’s body.  I knew we were in for a unique experience when at just a couple months old, she sat quietly, watching me load the dishwasher, as if she were trying to figure out something not quite understandable to her.  Over the years, she’s repeated that quiet watching many times, on many different things.

We never trained Ripley, but she knew all her basic commands within a week of coming home.  She watched what Midnyte did, and learned everything.  She doesn’t take liberties with a gratuitous lick of anything that doesn’t belong to her, even if it is nose height.  But she also doesn’t learn anything she doesn’t want to.  I’ve tried EVERYTHING to get her to stop jumping on me when I get home.  Whether I’m gone 5 minutes or 5 hours, I get the leap up and whine like a lunatic treatment. Every.  Single.  Time.  She never used to do this to anyone else, though she has recently started it with my husband.

Unsupervised in the yard, Ripley will run or trot around, sniffing the air, carrying a frisbee.  She looks into trees and barks at squirrels who dare to invade her yard.  If she comes up to me, frisbee in her mouth, it’s because she’s checking on me.  She doesn’t want anyone to take her frisbee (or whatever she has in her mouth).  Like a child, she just wants to show it off and be given feedback on how wonderful it is.

Ripley hates to get wet, preferring to hold it as long as possible when it rains, until she shoots outside to do her business as quickly as possible.  There have been times when I’ve dragged her out in the rain on leash, and she huddles miserably, looking up at me with those accusing eyes.  She doesn’t do her business; she just looks beaten.  So, I’ve learned that when it reaches emergency levels, she’ll go out, but not a moment before, and it’s no use trying to make her do anything.

Every dog I’ve ever had has their own unique personality. Each one is the best dog ever.

Like most dog owners, I prefer my dogs to most people I meet.

Feel free to comment with pictures of your own dog(s). 🙂

 

20 Things You Don’t Know About Me

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  1. I’m really short. Like, get teased about it short. Like, I have stools in every room of my house short.
  2. I’m a Leo, born in the year of the Snake.
  3. All but two of my friends are oldest or only children.
  4. I find a song I like and then listen to it over and over. And over. Until I don’t.
  5. I love playing any Super Mario game.
  6. Nailpolish only stays on my fingers for about an hour before it starts chipping. I’m not exaggerating.
  7. I cook and bake most of the food I eat from scratch. (I like to know what’s in my food.)
  8. My favorite color is blue, but I’m really picky about the shade of blue. Because I’m so picky about blue, I own more stuff in purple.
  9. I love all things Alice in Wonderland.
  10. I love pictures of ferris wheels, but hate riding them.
  11. I love roller coasters… the faster, the better.
  12. I hate repetitive sounds… windshield wipers drive me crazy.
  13. I’ve broken a tiny bone in my left wrist, and my left pointer finger tip.
  14. The Bells of Christmas, by Transiberian Orchestra, is my favorite Christmas song.
  15. Halloween is my favorite holiday.
  16. Most of my friends are organized, orderly types, and I drive them crazy.
  17. Sugar is not my thing. Fat, yes. (French fries, anyone?)
  18. The most common thing people tell me after they get to know me is: “I was scared of you when I first met you.”
  19. I want to learn to play the piano, and to draw.
  20. I don’t have a favorite season; I love the freshness and blooming flowers of spring, the heat and frequent trips to the pool in summer, the crispness of the air and fallen leaves in autumn, and the cold, gray days that beg for a lit fireplace in the winter.

Do Stories Need To Be Realistic?

img_6887The Walking Dead is my favorite show, and the day after an episode shows, there are a million articles about what happened, analyzing it endlessly.

People are still talking about last season, calling out The Walking Dead for some unrealistic moments, and how they “cheat” sometimes, so that the audience “can’t trust them.”  (Excuse me while we take a moment of silence for the “unrealistic moments” in a show about zombies).

But it’s not the real world, is it?  I mean, I read stories for a break from the real world.  In the case of TV shows, why would I necessarily want to see realism?  It’s nice when my favorite characters get close to death but don’t get eaten.  In the real world, bad things happen to good people. In the fantasy world, it doesn’t always play out that way. Last minute escapes happen.

In The Walking Dead, beloved characters do die; no one is safe. But sometimes they also make amazing, no way out escapes. And that’s why I keep watching. Despite everything bad that happens, it’s a hopeful show. Most of the characters survive, and the ones that do survive thrive.

I know a lot of people don’t see it as a hopeful show, because of all the killing and dying and apocalyptic stuff, but I see it as a show about how nothing can squash the human spirit. People keep doing what they do, falling in love, finding friends, balancing how to to live with what they need to do to survive.

That’s what keeps me watching week after week, and it’s what I love about the graphic novels as well. I don’t care how “realistic” the situations are, as long as the relationships feel real.

What do you think? Do you prefer realism in your TV/ books?

 

Can I Really Say I “Read” An Audiobook?

img_7913Up until the last few years, I never listened to audiobooks. There are a lot of reasons that don’t have anything to do with snobbery: I retain more when I read vs. listen, my mind wanders more when I listen, it’s harder to go back and re-read passages, I can’t highlight, etc.

But the bigger reason, for me, is that listening to audiobooks seemed kind of passive to me. I don’t love TV, primarily because I know that my brain isn’t doing much if I’m just consuming a show. I worried that audiobooks had that same passivity.

It’s silly, because if I think about it, listening to audiobooks is actually harder work for me than reading a book the traditional way. It requires me to direct my concentration in a way that’s much more automatic for me in traditional reading.

I decided to look it up, to see how audiobooks are consumed by the brain. Rather than wondering and worrying about it, I looked to the science. Here’s a good article on it, but the bottom line is that your brain sees them essentially the same way.

I’m not the only one asking this question. When I did an internet search about audiobooks vs. traditional reading, apparently many people struggle with this issue.

I keep a list of how many books I read each year, and two or three of them for the past two years have been audiobooks. I’ve actually struggled with whether or not to “count” them.

What’s the point of reading a book? For me, it’s about enjoyment. In some cases, it’s about learning. It’s also to synthesize information and be able to discuss it meaningfully with others. I can do all that with audiobooks.

I recently reread On Writing, by Stephen King. (Great book, incidentally, even if you’re not a writer.) He reads tons of books, and casually mentioned that he also reads audiobooks. If it’s good enough for Stephen King, it’s good enough for me. Once I gave myself permission to look at audiobooks as reading, I started seeing chunks in my day where I could be reading: doing yard work, in the car, cleaning up the kitchen… the list goes on.

Do you listen to audiobooks? Where do you stand on audiobooks vs. traditional books?

A to Z Challenge 2017!

staytuned500x500April is coming, and with it, the Blogging A to Z Challenge. For one month, minus Sundays, participants blog daily and follow the 26 letters of the alphabet. It’s fun, and all types of bloggers are encouraged to participate.

I started doing the A to Z Challenge back in 2012, and for the first three years, I didn’t do any particular topic… I just wrote about whatever came to mind.

In 2015, I did, “Things I Love,” and last year’s theme was “Books That Influenced Me.” (On a related note, I’m sorry that I don’t have an easy way to access archives, but if you want to look back at any of my posts, you can type “A is for” into the search bar. All my A to Z blogs start with the letter of the day.)

This challenge is a great way to “meet” other bloggers and find other interesting blogs.

On March 20, I’ll be revealing my theme (and hopefully will know what it is and have most of my posts written by then). The theme was much easier for me, and stopped some of the panicked searching for a topic that I did in other years.

Will you be joining?