Tuesday, December 28, 2010

How Many of These Books Have You Read?

Have you read more than 6 of these books? The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here.

I discovered this at Nissa's blog at The Lina Lamont Fan Club.
She found it at Fabianspace, Karina Fabian's blog.
Instructions: Bold those books you've read in their entirety.

Italicize the ones you started but didn't finish or read only an excerpt.


1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen (I really liked Northanger Abby though.)

2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien (multiple times)

3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte

4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling

5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee (I don't remember reading this and yet everyone else in my generation seems to have been assigned it in high school. Strange.)

6 The Bible

7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte

8 1984--George Orwell

9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman

10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens (Sorry, I guess I read Hard Times while everyone else was reading this one)

11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott

12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy

13 Catch-22 --Joseph Heller (I know I read it, but I don't remember what it was about.)

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (Okay, I read a whole lot of Shakespeare, but not absolutely everything he wrote, so I can't say "complete" works.)

15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier

16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien (When my oldest daughter was little I used to call her "Hobbit Girl")

17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk

18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger

19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger (A friend gave it to me, but I haven't read it yet.)

20 Middlemarch - George Eliot (No, I read The Mill on The Floss)

21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell

22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald

23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens

24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy

25 The Hitchhicker's Guide to the Galaxy--Douglas Adams

26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh

27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck

29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll

30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame

31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy

32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens

33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis

34 Emma - Jane Austen

35 Persuasion - Jane Austen

36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis

37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres

39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden

40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne (All of them! )

41 Animal Farm - George Orwell

42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown

43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving

45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins

46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery

47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy

48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood

49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding (Ah, my first lit. essay was about this book. I still have it.)

50 Atonement - Ian McEwan

51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel (My mother loaned me this book. I flipped through it.)

52 Dune - Frank Herbert

53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons

54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen

55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth

56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens

58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon

60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck

62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov

63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt

64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold

65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas

66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac

67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy

68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding

69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie

70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville

71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens

72 Dracula - Bram Stoker

73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett

74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson

75 Ulysses - James Joyce (A prof. threatened to assign this to us once. I don't know why she thought it would be a punishment, but it caused me to never pick it up.)

76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath

77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome

78 Germinal - Emile Zola

79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray

80 Possession - AS Byatt

81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens

82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell

83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker

84 The Remains of the Day - Kazu Ishiguro

85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert

86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry

87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White

88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton

91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad

92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery

93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks

94 Watership Down - Richard Adams (And also Tales from Watership Down)

95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole

96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute

97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas

98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare (I guess if you can't claim the complete works, they let you at least have Hamlet)

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl (Next question- Gene Wilder or Johnny Depp?)

100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Indie Spotlight for Independent Authors

If you don't regularly visit the Indie Spotlight, today is your day to get acquainted. They draw attention to both fiction and nonfiction independent writers who otherwise might go unnoticed. Today I got an early Christmas present. My urban fantasy, Syzygy, is featured at the site "Where the Independent Author Shines." I just adore their slogan. :)

You will get to learn what sparked my idea for my novel and see how cool Jasmine's artwork looks on the website.

Get Syzygy at Amazon or Smashwords.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Interview with Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator

This morning I'll be interviewing Neeta Lyffe. She's a zombie exterminator and the star of Karina Fabian's newest novel, Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator. Stick around after the interview to learn where to get this awesome book "where the zombie apocalypse meets reality TV, California politics and the Green movement!" (quote from the press package.)

Good morning Neeta. It's so good to finally meet you.

It's a pleasure, Amanda. I appreciate this chance to tell folks about zombie extermination. It's a growing specialization--unfortunately, because the demand is still growing--but every one of us hopes to work ourselves out of a job eventually.

Yeah, I guess it's the nature of the business. So, tell me, why did you choose your career path as a zombie exterminator?

It's a family business. My mother, God rest her soul, was a single mom working as a general exterminator when she and her partner inadvertently stumbled upon a huge zombie infestation while investigating what a cemetery thought were rats. She and her partner discovered they had a talent for mowing down zombies. (In this case, literally. That riding lawn mower saved more than a few lives that night.) Since there was obviously a need, they specialized. Mom was a real activist for the cause of zombie extermination and preventation as well. I hope she looks at my efforts with the reality TV show, Zombie Death Extreme as another way of building awareness.

For sure. It's so important, what you're doing. Darn entertaining as well! What makes a good zombie exterminator?

Strength: strong arms, strong will, strong nerves… and a strong stomach. You also need to be able to think on your feet. Zombies, as we've come to learn, are far more variable than we saw in the movies. It's amazing what can be used against them. That's why I urge everyone to remember that your best defense against a zombie is not that butcher knife on the counter, but the cleaning products under the counter, the hamburger in the fridge, and the television. (Turn it on and run!)

Okay okay, it's on it's on! Now tell us, what's the best way to kill a zombie?

You have to destroy the brain: sever the spine at the neck. Decapitation, smash their brains. Setting them on fire works well if they're I an advanced state of decay, but sometimes, that only stalls them enough to give you a chance to go for the neck.

Do you have a favorite weapon?

Chainsaw and a supersoaker full of TidyToidy. They're the most effective, IMHO, but the chainsaw does get heavy. I train a lot.

Karina Fabian- Look out zombies!
 How does one secure one's home against the undead?

First, attitude. Often an ARM (Animated Rotting Meat) will return to a familiar place--a home, workplace, bar… Some people still think it's a miracle that their loved one is returning from the dead. It's not--it's a tragedy in the making. These are not people anymore. I can't state that enough. A moment's hesitation at seeing Uncle Joe can cost you your life--and maybe bring you back to hurt those you love.

Second, cell phone and car keys. Most major cities have a skilled Z-Mat team and exterminators on call. Get in your car and dial 9-1-1 as you speed away. Some zombies are fast, but none can outrun a speeding car.

Third, cleaning products. We don't know why, but with few exceptions, cleaning products will repel zombies. Not the enviro-friendly stuff, however. Bleach. Amonia. You know those scrubbing bubbles? Those are actually kind of funny to watch--but don't delay your escape to get some video on your cell phone! Trust me, YouTube is not worth your life!

After that, imagination is your best defense. Some zombies can be deflected by cigarettes; others by a beer. Some will stop dead (pardon the pun) to watch Days of Our Lives. In the Middle East, many devout families nonetheless keep a package of bacon in their refrigerators just for zombie defense. Whatever you do, however, try it and run.

Wow, I'd better make my shopping list! Now, is it true that if you blend in with a horde of zombies and pretend to be one, they will leave you alone?

No. Oh, please, please, Amanda! If any of your readers believes that tell them no! They may get distracted by a pound of raw hamburger, but they can definitely tell the difference between a fresh brain and an undead one!

Myth busted. Good to know. Thank you so much for your time.

No problem. I hope folks will take a look at the book Karina Fabian wrote about some of my adventures on the Zombie Death Extreme Set. It's called Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator. It's a fun way to learn more about zombies and zombie defense.

Pick up Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator at Damnation Books or Amazon in both paperback and ebook.

From the Media Release-

Christmas With Zombies? Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator puts "ha-ha-ha-ho-ho-ho" into the holidays.

The Zombie Apocalypse for the holidays? Not quite, but Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator is bound to bring some ho-ho-ho (and ha-ha-ha) into the ho-ho-holidays with its comical view on the zombie genre, reality TV and American culture and politics.

Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator, by Karina Fabian, takes place 30 years in the future when causes unknown make people to rise from the grave. Unlike the dystopic tales like Zombieland, Fabian's world has taken measures to curtail the spread of disease. The result: zombies are pests and nuisances--and who better to take care of such things than an exterminator?

Neeta Lyffe is a professional exterminator down on her luck when a zombie she sets on fire stumbles onto a lawyer's back porch. Desperate for money, she agrees to host a reality TV show where she'll train apprentice exterminators in a show that crosses the worst of The Apprentice with Survivor with Night of the Living Dead. Can she keep her bills paid, her ratings up, and her plebes alive and still retain her sanity?

Fabian created Neeta Lyffe in a short story about two exterminators taking out an infestation in a Korean restaurant. "Wokking Dead" featured in The Zombie Cookbook by Damnation Books (www.zombiecookbook.net). Readers liked the cynical exterminator and asked for a novel.

Fabian, best known for her humorous fantasy and Christian and Catholic science fiction, hesitated at first. "I'm really not a horror fan, and I don't much care for the zombie genre. However Kim (publisher of Damnation Books) asked while we were in the Writers Chatroom. That evening, we were getting silly and talking about reality TV, and reality TV with zombies sounded like fun. We were living in California at the time, so I had plenty of material."

The timing's a little weird, but Fabian thinks Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator will make an, er, lively addition to anyone's holiday reading. Learn more about Neeta Lyffe and Karina Fabian at http://www.fabianspace.com/.

Monday, December 13, 2010

"Who's Your Audience?" A guest post by Lester Milton

I know you'll enjoy today's guest post by Lester Milton. I met Les a while back at a mutual friend's kid's birthday party. He's a real hoot to talk to. Funny and hecka smart. So smart, he probably never uses the word "hecka." He wrote a science fiction novel called The Accidental Adventures of Dogget Mann. Info on that after the main show. But first, I'll let Les get on with his guest post! :)


“Who’s Your Audience?”

It seems like a simple question. Like, “What’s it all about, Alfie?” and, “Who put the bomp in the bomp bah bomp bah bomp?” But I don’t think it’s simple at all. Maybe because I over-think a lot. Maybe because I spent two thirds of my twenties in a state of altered consciousness. Who knows? Who cares? Probably not you. But bear with me.

I wrote what would be described as an “all ages” science fiction novel. Of course, that label is ridiculous on the face of it. Most novels don’t appeal to your average two-year-old, and most people over one hundred hate all modern literature. But when I wrote it, I was trying to make something that someone as young as ten could enjoy, while keeping someone as old as ninety clinging to life if only to find out what happens next.

Too often, “all ages” entertainment is geared towards the youngest readers. Simple characters in magical situations solving mysteries in their pajamas as they drink lemonade and sing songs of a simpler time. Okay, I’ve never seen anything like that either, but boy, does it sound awful or what?

Imagined literary nightmare aside, I was hoping to avoid writing something that would appeal mostly to kids. I think it’s important to challenge kids. It keeps them striving to understand more and reminds them that they hardly know anything at all.

I was told that most ten year olds wouldn’t understand the ideas of quantum uncertainty and multiple universes in my book. But that was fine with me. I didn’t understand a lot of the “scientific” gobbledegook peppered in the old Star Trek reruns when I was a kid. I just knew that there was trouble. In space. And that Captain Kirk could have any woman he wanted.

I was also told that the tragedies experienced by my protagonist were too frequent and intense to create an enjoyable reading experience. I accepted that it might be true for some, but I also think that if something happens, it happens. And if it’s feasible in a story and you think it should happen, then it ought to happen. That’s very self-indulgent, of course. But self-indulgence doesn’t just make for boorish entertainment with limited appeal, though it can do that. Self-indulgence is the force behind some of the greatest artistic achievements in history. Also, the movie, “Ishtar,” which I, along with its director, Elaine May, quite enjoyed.

Some would say that writing for oneself and one’s audience is a razor’s edge to walk, which sounds painful, because it’s a razor. But I look at it more like a sidewalk, which, unlike a razor, is made for walking on. So I just write for myself. What I think I would enjoy as a kid and as an adult is what I write. Sometimes that works. Sometimes, not so much (which may well be clear to you as you read this).

So, I guess the answer really is simple, after all. This might make you ask, what’s your point, Les? To which I say, Merry Christmas, everybody! I’m going to Disneyland tomorrow!

If you’d like to check out my science fiction comic tragedy/tragic comedy for the whole family, you can order it here:

If you’d like to read the first chapter and/or order an ebook version, please go here:

The Accidental Adventures of Dogget Mann summary:

Accidental adventures may be exciting, but they're also a real pain in the butt.

Dogget Mann would never have run away from his group home if he'd known what it would lead to. Sure, he's interested in science and adventure more than your average eleven year old boy, but that doesn't mean he's eager to be mysteriously transported two thousand years into the future with little to no chance of returning home. And even though he lost his mom and dad two years earlier, he's not quite ready for a floating ball of a robot and a one hundred and sixty nine year old scientist/inventor to become his surrogate parents. Look, is anyone fully prepared to be chased around the solar system by a bunch of genetically engineered thugs and high-tech security forces?

He's just a kid, for crying out loud!

In some other universe they found a cylinder on the moon. Inside it was the story of a boy who just wants to be in the right place at the right time.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Interview at the Lina Lamont Fan Club

If you haven't visited Nissa's blog, The Lina Lamont Fan Club, you've a huge hole in your life that you did not know about.

I'll invite you over there today out of complete self-centeredness. She has an interview with me about my urban fantasy novel, Syzygy.

But you'll want to stick around there and check out her other posts and her book, Where The Opium Cactus Grows, the contents of which have been compared to the stuff drunks write on the bathroom wall. ;)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Character Type Challenge

Author Jeremy C. Shipp put a game on his Facebook wall. You have to choose 15 fictional characters, who have influenced you, in 15 minutes. I jotted down mine on the back of a handy envelope. (Accidently chose too many, though.) I was just sitting here barking at my kids to do their math and browsing what I wrote and noticed I have a pattern. I am attracted to five main types of characters: sacrificial, insane, clever, roguish, and reluctant monster types. Some, if not all, of the characters I picked fell into more than one category.

Orpheus and Euridice
Samwise (Lord of The Rings)
Orpheus (Greek myth)
Simon (Lord of the Flies)
Sally (Nightmare Before Christmas) -she's also pretty darn clever

Arabella (The Female Quixote)
Ophelia (Hamlet) - She might fall somewhat into the "sacrificial/tragic" category.

The Doctor
Dirk Gently (Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency)
Martin ("Unicorn Variation")
Father Brown (Father Brown Mysteries)
Doctor Who (particularly as played by Tom Baker) -also a bit of the rogue in him

Spider (Anansi Boys)
Tom (Syzygy- yeah, I put my own character on the list) -He'd also fit into "sacrificial" and kinda-sorta "reluctant monster"


Reluctant Monster:
Hellboy (various comics, books, movies)
Mr. Canis (The Sister's Grimm)
Dr. Jekyll (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde)

 Then there was Mad-Eye Moody (from Harry Potter- books and films) and I wasn't sure where to put him. He's clever, sacrificial, and even has much of the reluctant monster just because of his appearance and grumpiness, though he doesn't go into insane animalistic frenzies.

Anyway, you can make your own list and see what sort you're attracted to. But the main thing is- how does it influence our writing? What sort of characters do you create? We need to be careful not to recycle the same characters, but with different names, story after story because we're hooked on a certain type. As you can see, a writer can mix up the types for more variety and to create complex characters.

Maybe challenge yourself and create a character of a type you never have before. Maybe a type that's not even on your list! If you do make your own list I'd love to see it. (I have a hunch Jeremy would too. So drop by his page to comment on his character game note or his author page to get news on his amazing stories!)

Sally says, "Have a Happy Christmas."

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

An E-book for just a buck! And The Beatles! And Holidays!

Have your characters celebrated a holiday? Do they celebrate the same holidays and in the same ways you do?


For a limited time (until January 1st) get Syzygy for just a buck! But only at Smashwords.
Type in this code: QG64V

Come on, treat yourself to a quick December read. You know you want to. ;)


The video below has little to do with this post except that it is the anniversary of John Lennon's death. John Lennon was English. The uncle of Bea, (one of my main characters), is English. And it is nearly Christmas.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Author Interview

Welcome all!!!
May I direct your attention to Chapters, the blog of the author Nicole Green?
She did a fun interview with me about my fantasy novel, Syzygy.

Thank you Nicole! She's the super duper author who brought us Love Out of Order. Her newest novel, The Davis Years, comes out in February. I'm looking forward to that! In addition to her blog, you can check out her web site.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Catholic Fiction, The End of NaNoWriMo, and Exciting News

On my other blog, CatholicOnceAgain, author/editor Karina Fabian discusses Catholic fiction as my guest blogger. Go check it out.

NaNoWriMo is over and done. I finished with over 50,000 words. Yay! But alas, my masterpiece is far from finished. I still have scenes to write and oodles of revision to do. Sigh...

What a rush it was to zip through so much writing, though!

But for now, I'll slow down and catch up on some reading. I have a book half read that I'm supposed to review, not to mention a stack of books begging to be opened and blogs to catch up on. Being Advent, we have Christmas to prepare for.

Exciting News!
Next Monday 12/6, author Nicole Green will interview me about my novel, Syzygy, over at her blog, Chapters. Fun fun fun! :)

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