Category Archives: reading

In praise of the Unitasker (with apologies to Alton Brown)

No, I didn’t goof and put a Knives, Fire and Fun entry under bloodymurderbooks. I firmly feel that you can’t talk about unitaskers without talking about Mr. Brown. If you’ve ever seen Good Eats, you’ve heard him say that the only unitasker permitted in his kitchen is the fire extinguisher.

For the past number of years, it seems that people’s attention span is shrinking (I’m not referring to those who have ADD, I’m discussing a societal issue not a medical one). Garry Trudeau made some satire about USA Today presenting news in quick, easily digestible sound bites. News stories are rarely in-depth unless you are listening news radio. Movies, which commonly ran for three hours when I was a kid, usually top out at two these days.

The akamaireader (you may have noticed we talk a lot), sent me another article about the publishing industry. In this one, it appears that publishers are more pessimistic about future book sales and part of the blame goes to tablets. Why just read a book when you can play Angry Birds? Or watch a movie? Or check your bank balance, look up the sports scores, time your tea steeping, listen to music, you get the idea. Distraction city.

There’s a bunch of us that love our early Kindles and Nooks and Kobos (though I think Kobo,isn’t long for this world) because they do little else but provide us with reading material. I use five functions on my Kindle–the reading of books, the storing of books, the shopping for books, the changing of the font size and the dictionary. I will stipulate that text-to-speech is a great feature, though I don’t use it. I can, if I wish, update Facebook with my favorite quotes from something I’m reading, but I do not feel the need to stop what I’m doing to share a quote with my friends. Neither do I web browse while reading, or listen to music.

There is a certain joy in immersing myself mindfully while doing just one thing, whether it is meditating (which I need more practice at), reading, cooking, making love. Being THERE, totally in the moment, it’s just beautiful. I think the world would be a better place if we stopped trying to be everywhere at once and slowed down and enjoyed the moment (especially me).

So I don’t want to be distracted by Angry Birds. I’ll play it later on my phone.


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A brief moment of self-indulgence

If you’ve been around the web for the last ten years, you’ve come across some of the memes that tell you what color you are, which superhero you are and just where you might fit inside some of the hopefully iconic pieces of popular culture.  You have to, of course, take these with a grain of salt,  some lime juice and if you’re a drinking sort, a shot of very good tequila.

Last week, I found Who Do You Write Like? I could not just ignore this one. I plugged in a few paragraphs from the beginning of Bloody Murder and got the below results.

<!– Begin I Write Like Badge –>
<div style=”overflow:auto;border:2px solid #ddd;font:20px/1.2 Arial,sans-serif;width:380px;padding:5px; background:#F7F7F7; color:#555″><img src=”; style=”float:right” width=”120″><div style=”padding:20px; border-bottom:1px solid #eee; text-shadow:#fff 0 1px”> I write like<br><a href=”; style=”font-size:30px;color:#698B22;text-decoration:none”>Kurt Vonnegut</a></div><p style=”font-size:11px; text-align:center; color:#888″><em>I Write Like</em> by Mémoires, <a href=”; style=”color:#888″>journal software</a>. <a href=”; style=”color:#333; background:#FFFFE0″><b>Analyze your writing!</b></a></p></div>
<!– End I Write Like Badge –>

I am not worthy of such an honor, but it’s fun to think about. My characters do not come unstuck in time, there are no visits from friendly Tralfamadorians, Kilgore Trout is not an author sold in Zofia’s bookstore.

I’ve loved most Vonnegut I’ve read. My favorite is probably The Sirens of Titan, tied with the short story of Harrison Bergeron.  Both are dystopic and highly thought-provoking and are told in not a heavily threatening style like 1984 or Brave New World. Instead, there is a lightness, a flippancy almost, the narrator seems delighted in the world that is being presented.

I can only hope to be so thought-provoking. Flippant, on the other, I think Zofia and I have down pat.

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What I’m reading

I wasn’t really bit on non-fiction as a kid, unless it had to do with animals and nature.  My parents had a Time-Life series of books about the natural world as it was known mumble years ago. I did read some, but mostly I looked at the pictures.

Most recently, at my boyfriend’s urging, I downloaded 1491 New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus which I’m really enjoying. Charles Mann discusses a lot of the history my generation was taught and some new and interesting facts about the native cultures in North, South and Central America. I didn’t know, for example, that the Inka had a road system that covered most of the continent’s west coast. What’s fascinating, is they were built for a culture that used llamas (watch out, they spit), so they could build roads that were literally steps in the mountains. Pizarro and company had a hell of a time leading horses over these.

I’m also on the verge of finishing The Jew in the Lotus, which is a fascinating story of a group of rabbis who travel to India to meet with the Dalai Lama for a sort of cultural exchange. What commonalities were there with these exiled cultures? It’s a great read, no matter what your religion.

For fiction, I’m hanging out in Asia these days. Since I never read the whole series, and in fact lost track of where I was, I stared Laura Joh Rowland’s Sano Ichiro books again. The series takes place in the seventeenth century, mostly in the district of Edo. Sano is a samurai with an academic background who is charged with solving murders. He has to navigate through a world of politics and class distinctions,  and be blunt where normal behavior is very polite and often indirect.

If you want to escape to more modern Asia, there are a variety of ways you can visit Thailand. Google any of the following names; Jimm Juree, Vincent Calvino, Sonchai Jitpleecheep. Adventures galore!

In the fantasy realm, I’m currently reading Mistborn: the Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson. I really like the metal-based magical system, and the main character who was supposed to be dead at the hands of the Lord Ruler is planning a revolution that just might work. Might. I don’t want to give any spoilers.

If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll follow me on Twitter @katekulig. When I reach 100 followers, I will release the title of the second Bloody Murder novel.

Thank you for reading!

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Reading as a social pheonomenon

Some of you are already friends with me on Goodreads. You might have noticed that while I read voraciously, and am happy to rate, I don’t do a lot of reviewing. Today, I think I figured out why.

I started reading early. I remember being utterly stunned at starting first grade and there were kids there who couldn’t read. Their parents didn’t teach them, instead saying, “you’ll learn it in school.”  I doubt very much that happens these days, but in 1972, it wasn’t that far out of the ordinary.

In several years of elementary school I was either sent to the next highest grade for their reading classes, or given a more advanced book of my own. This meant I didn’t have anyone to talk to about what I was reading.

There was a brief period when I was in junior high that everyone was reading either Danielle Steele, John Saul  or VC Andrews. That was a fun time, being able to swoon,shiver or say “eww” as appropriate, but it didn’t last long. I outgrew the traditional romance novels, as a lot the other fiction I read had its share of romance, but also adventure.

In high school, I had a great crowd of friends. As a college friend put it, they were “the right people masquerading as the wrong people.” We read a lot of Science Fiction and Fantasy, we could (and probably still can) quote entire passages of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, some of us played Dungeons and Dragons. These are some of the best-natured people I’ve known in my life, but to the rest of the school population, we were considered weirdos. So for a while I could talk about books with this select group. It was like coming home.

When I got to college (at a midsized university in Long Island made famous by a Bill Cosby routine), so few people seemed to have time to read for pleasure. I was the one who would have a stack of required reading and one or two mass-market paperbacks atop (I couldn’t fit everything in my backpack). More than once I was asked, “How can you read for pleasure when you have so much other reading to do?” My answer was, “How can I not?”

I’m also an only child, which lends itself to generally being happy in my own company. What it comes down to is I’ve always felt that reading is a solitary activity, but that is changing.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time working in retail bookstores (may Borders and Waldenbooks rest in peace). While the extra money never hurt, and neither did the discounts, there were two other perks to working there that I’ve never had anywhere else: I could borrow books, and I could talk about them. My favorite part of working would be (and you’ll see Zofia, James or Feliz do this)  helping a customer who has come up to me and said, “I like X Author and X author, who is similar?”

I’ve tried a few book clubs, but I’ve never totally relaxed into one. First, there’s the feeling of “forced” reading. I know way too many people who hate reading because of all the “literature” they were forced to endure in school (and these weren’t even the liberal arts majors). Movies and TV, I’m happy to tear apart with a group, but I guess the formality of it is a little off-putting, no matter how cool some of the people are.

It still delights me that I can chat books easily with some of my current friends (check out Opal the Akamai Reader, who’s been putting out some great reviews!). LizziBabe, who you’ve seen commenting here, got me started on my fascination obsession with mysteries taking place in Asia, specifically Thailand. She introduced me to John Burdett, I introduced her to Colin Cotteril This is thrilling for me.

I have a Kindle, which I love, but I still pretty much use it as a unitasker. I don’t feel the need to quote parts of what I’m reading and share them on Facebook. I don’t listen to music while I read. I don’t even lean on  my darling boyfriend when I’m curled up on the couch or in bed reading, bless his heart for trying to understand. Reading is still solitary to me.

I’m thinking writing and reviewing here might open up some of that solitude. Thank you for reading and I hope you’ll stay tuned.

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Why I won’t pay for reviews

If you’ve checked in with the Bloody Murder Books blog once or twice, you’ll have noticed an increase in the links to indie author sites and to some independent reviewers. The indie community is really something else, and I’m learning more about it each day.

Today, I was looking for review sites and advertising rates on an e-book newsletter that shall remain nameless. I found a link there to Book Rooster, where they will distribute review copies of my book to a select group of people who are readers first, then reviewers.  They are not a “pay for review” site, but they do charge $67 for their distribution fee.

Why should an indie author, actually, why should any author pay for a review? Traditionally, reviewers have been paid by the publications their reviews have appeared in. The industry is changing and I’m excited to be part of this change. There are great sites like the Indie Exchange, which work to bring readers and writers together. There are a multitude of independent reviewers out there, who are making quite a change in the book industry. Take a look at this article, which details a little more.

Thank you for reading, and if you haven’t already, don’t forget to enter to win yourself a copy of Bloody Murder. Just click here  to enter


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