Jeff O'Handley

The Doubting Writer Finds His Voice

New Year and Old Business (Reading List, Part IV)

Well, good morning, and welcome to 2018, I hope it’s a good one for you. Thank you to all of you who come by and spend a few minutes every week with me, and especially those of you who regularly have something to say. I always aim to give you something to come here for, and it’s nice to know I’m not just shouting into the void (though I don’t think I usually shout).

Speaking of that, early this morning, i.e., at the stroke of midnight, the Catbird and I continued what was a long tradition in my household. After saying “Happy New Year” and giving hugs and kisses, we stepped outside with a couple of pots and wooden spoons and bashed away. When my family did this back when I was a kid, we weren’t the only ones to do it: we had a lot of Brooklyn and Queens people who had moved out to Long Island living around us, and it was fun to hear banging and clanging coming from up and down the block. I *think* I heard someone up hear do it once, some years ago, but it might have been the echo from me. Fun to do, even if it was really effing cold.

Took the dog out at 6 am into a morning that was like crystal. Navy blue sky. Lots of stars. Big, just-past-full moon low in the west. It was beautiful. I judged it to be about -14. The thermometer on the back of my house said -24. The National Weathe Service says -10, but their station is 20 miles away, and is at a lower elevation. Either way, it’s effing cold. But still beautiful.

I’ve been off for the last week and a half, courtesy of excess vacation time, a holiday, and a boss who recognizes all the extra hours we put in throughout the year. It’s been really nice to be home so much–and I’ve been hard at work on the WiP. I failed in my goal to have this draft done by Christmas, and I failed at having it done by the end of the year (holiday shopping/prep got in the way, as did a section or two that needed more work than I had initially thought). Right now, I stand at about 52 pages from the end. I don’t know if I can make it today, but it should certainly be done by the end of the week. That’s a good way to start off a new year!

And now, because this post is already longer than I expected, old business: I give to you the Reading List, Part IV:

Beauty Queens (2011), Libba Bray. Inspired to read this by the news of the all-female remake of Lord of the Flies. Fun at times, but a little heavy-handed in its messaging, and I’m not a fan of books that work at being overly-clever. Then again, I’m not the target audience. It was enjoyable.

Gerald’s Game (1992), Stephen King. I haven’t read this in a long time. Better than I remembered, though the link between it and Dolores Claiborne was just weird, man.

The Time Traveler’s Wife (2003), Audrey Niefenegger. I wish I’d written that!

On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society (1995), Lt. Col. Dave Grossman. Research for the WiP. Probably should have picked something a little newer, but it was an impulse selection at the library.

Sleeping Beauties (2017), Stephen and Owen King. Heavy-handed in its messaging, overly-long, and I’m not sure it really did what the Kings wanted it to do…though, then again, maybe it did. I may have more to say on this in an upcoming post.

All Backs Were Turned (1965), Marek Hlasko, translated by Tomasz Mirkowicz. I think I came across this on some list like “20 Novels Everyone Should Read.” Not sure I would agree with that assessment.

So, for the fourth quarter of 2017, I only read 6 books, which is a little low for me, but I was busy with revisions (RiP and WiP), holidays, etc. The total for the year: 31 books, total, down from 42 last year, and there were a lot of re-reads in there. I’ll break down the list a little more in a future post, but it’s safe to say, I’d like to up my reading.

That’s it for me, hope you had a safe start to 2018 and that the year brings you good things!

8 Responses

  1. Happy New Year, Jeff! Funny, you want to up your reading and I need to cut back. Then again, I think the reason I had such problems reaching my 2017 goal was because I was reading books I didn't really want to read (due to my newsletter giveaways and trying new-to-me authors). I'm changing that this year, so maybe I will read more. Who knows? I do know I need to WRITE more this year, and I feel that will happen. I've got a great start already.

  2. Happy New Year, Stacy! The only books I don't want to read are the ones I start and say, "Wow, I really don't want to read this!" I hate to not finish a book I started, though. May we each reach our goals this year!

  3. Happy New Year! I hear that King's gotten so big that he doesn't have to do what his editors say, and it shows in his books. Not that his writing is bad but that the books aren't getting trimmed where they really ought to be trimmed.

    Same thing happened with Rowling, I think. Order of the Phoenix really didn't need Grawp.

  4. I love the clear, beautiful cold. As long as there is a warm blanky and hot cocoa waiting just inside the front door.

    I've been off over a week myself. Feels so weird. I've enjoyed it, but haven't been able to do more writing than on the blog post.

    But I have been reading! Been reading Sleeping Beauties for 2 weeks Hard to really get into. Much better written than Under the Dome, not as interesting as The Stand. I agree, don't think the Authors have accomplished what they wanted. I'm hoping to finish by the end of this weekend; if not, I think I'll put it down and move on. I thought Time Travelers Wife was awesome too.

  5. -Donna W: I don't know if that's the case or not, but I can certainly see it–printing King is akin to printing money, so why get in the way? This might also be the case for Rowling. I remember hearing something similar about Thomas Harris ("Silence of the Lambs"), too.
    -Donna H.–Going back to work has been strange, to the say the least. Sluggish, too. I liked "Under the Dome" myself. Different tastes.
    Thanks for stopping in, everyone!

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