Elizabeth: Notes from a Public Typewritter©

I was perusing the local bookstore the other day (which sounds better than desperately trying to come up with a blog-post idea), and Michael Gustafson’s book Notes from a Public Typewriter caught my interest.

I’m never quite sure what causes a book to jump out and catch my interest (that’s probably a post for another day), but for this book, it was a combination of the cover and the promise the title suggested.  The book was featured in an NPR Books article this past April (which I vaguely remember reading) and you can read the details here.

Basically, Michael set up the typewriter in his bookstore in Ann Arbor and let customers type away.  He initially thought maybe one customer would start a story and others would add to it over time when they passed by.  Instead what he wound up with thousands of pages of:

“Love letters, poems, quotes, sprawling meditations on life. Notes written over the top of others, single words, perfectly spaced paragraphs”

“It’s just been a wonderful sort of diary of a town,” says Michael, “happening in a bookstore.”

It’s always fascinating when something like this grows organically into something totally unexpected.  Last year I talked about  a similar type of unexpected project – the Big Ball of Paint – which was intended to be a 1000-coats-of-paint project  to see what the paint-layer cross sections would look like that evolved into a still-growing 14-foot (circumference) 2.5 ton ball of more than 25,000 layers of paint that is part tourist attraction, part collaborative project.

The ball of paint didn’t turn into a book like the typewriter notes did, but it was equally collaborative and creative.

Going back to the notes on the typewriter, although the experiment didn’t turn into the single long-story that Michael envisioned at the onset, it instead turned into a book full of stories, all told just a few words at a time.

I can’t wait to read them all.

Also, I feel a strange need to go unearth that old typewriter from the garage.  Who knows, maybe there are stories lurking there too.

Nancy: Because It’s Summer, That’s Why

Two weeks ago, I wrote post #1 about endings, because I was nearing the end of my Women’s Fiction WIP (Take the Money and Run, for those of you keeping score at home). I promised that after last week’s accountability post, I’d be back this week to share endings part 2, complete with an analysis of some of my favorite endings. Yeah, I’m not going to do that. At least not this week.

The truth is, my obsession with endings has temporarily abated. I typed THE END on the first draft of that WIP a week and a half ago and have delved headlong into the prep work for my next Victorian Romance novel. In a few weeks, I’ll be circling back to revise the opening scene (yet again!) of the WF story to make sure it resonates with the ending, so maybe we’ll talk endings part 2 then.

In the meantime, let’s talk about some fabulous summer pastimes: lounging on the beach, sipping frozen cocktails, reading great books, and engaging in library porn. Continue reading

Elizabeth: Women’s Fiction?

For someone who doesn’t even have a Twitter account, I’ve encountered a lot of interesting tweets lately.  Last week it was the By Age 35 thread and this week it was the tweet to the left from Comedy Central writer Jake Weisman about Jane Austen’s writing.

The tweet, as he may or may not have expected, stirred up a bit of a storm.  Not by people who disagreed with the fact that Austen combined satire with spot-on social commentary, but that Weisman had felt the need to disparage the fact that her stories also included . . .gasp! . . . love and romance.  The consensus seemed to be that he had read her work, enjoyed it, and was appalled that he might be thought to be a fan of romance.

Heaven forbid! Continue reading

Michille: Summer Reading Lists

Research Isn't Just for HistoricalsAlternative title: Like our TBR Piles Aren’t Big Enough

I’m going to piggy-back on Nancy’s post from Memorial Day Weekend, which is generally viewed as the unofficial start of summer. In my county, we are in the midst of another one – high school graduation week (there are 7 high schools in the county) – so the summer starts for them now. Only two of these lists are specifically romance but most include at least one. One surprise is that there is very little overlap on these lists. Usually there are a couple of books that are on everyone’s list. Not this year, except maybe Circe – that’s been on a couple. Continue reading

Jilly: Evaluating Also-Boughts

What’s your most tried-and-tested method of finding new authors to read? Do you ever use Amazon’s also-boughts?

I’m always checking out new search methods and new-to-me authors, but lately my selections have been especially hit-and-miss. The problem is that “I’ll know it when I read it” is not really searchable. I’m looking for a combination of qualities rather than neat pigeonholes like settings or subgenres.

I like upbeat stories with happy endings, romances or books with a strong romantic subplot. After that it gets tricky. I want heroes and heroines with intelligence, agency, and emotional depth. I love stories where strong characters deal honestly with one another, especially when that’s difficult. I prefer confrontation to secrets or lies or withholding information. My fave authors write series with strong communities. I actively seek out humor and kindness. I enjoy voice, but not when it tips over into look-at-me writing. I love a good sex scene, but only if it moves the story. I’ll try most subgenres.

I believe the Zon is one of the most powerful search engines in existence, but while it’s awesome at identifying reverse harem cowboy stories (not kidding), the search box is not my friend.

Continue reading

Kay: Little Women Celebrates 150 Years

Louisa May Alcott

Did you read Little Women when you were a kid? Did you like it?

Published in 1868, this story is one that the world seems never to tire of. There have been two silent film adaptations and four talkies so far. Six television series have been produced, including four by the BBC, and two anime series in Japan. A 1998 American opera version has been performed internationally. A musical version opened on Broadway in 2005.

And now, 150 years after it was written, two filmed productions will be released in 2018.

So one could say it’s an enduring story.

Continue reading

Nancy: Summer is for Lovers (of Books)

Here in the US, the three-day Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial kickoff of the summer season. Yes, the official first day of summer is nearly a month away, but in most of the country, temperatures are already rising, vacations are on the calendar, and list upon list of summer reading recommendations are splashed across newspapers, magazines, and various and sundry corners of the internet.

Most of us here on the blog are avid, year-round readers, so we hardly need an excuse to pick up more books. But it is fun to check out curated lists and find some books that are hot and trending, cool and refreshing, or just downright emotionally satisfying. This weekend, in between family cookouts and sipping mango margaritas, I came across some lists that have put me into a book-buying frenzy. The side effect of this is, of course, that a reading frenzy will soon ensue. #readerproblems Continue reading