Saturday, February 25, 2012

Your Blog Design: Some Things to Keep in Mind

One of the good things about Blogger is that you don't have to know webprogramming in order to have a blog. It is very easy to customize your blog to reflect who you are. But here's the catch, your primary goal with your blog is for people to read it. So you have to balance your personal creativity with readability.

I cruise around the blogosphere reading the blogs that I follow, checking out new ones, bookmarking the ones that I like some of which will end up on one of the sidebars. Recently I've noticed a couple of things: blogs which were hard to read because of the color scheme, links which were almost invisible because of the chosen colors, having to scroll down through a lot of stuff to find what I am looking for, and so on.

Here are a few things to consider the next time you change your blog or website design.
  • A white background with black or dark letters is easier for most people to read.

  • White letters on a dark background is also not hard to read, but most people prefer having a lot of white space around what they read and you can't get that with a dark background.

  • Make sure the colors for your links are clearly visible.

  • Put the important information near the top.

  • If you like strong colors, consider using them as accents instead of background colors.

In case you didn't notice, I tweaked my layout to get my other blogs of interest up closer to the top. Now, if I could just find a better picture for my background...

Monday, February 20, 2012

50th Anniversary of First US Man in Space

Today is the 50th anniversary of John Glenn's historic orbital flight in Friendship 7. I find it rather amazing how far we have come technologically in 50 years. In 1962, there were no personal computers, no cell phones, no vcrs, dvd players, microwaves, no handheld calculators. Television was still in black and white and reception came through rabbit ears on the set if you didn't have an antennae on the roof. Engineers were still using slide rules to make their calculations.

Take a look:

I have to wonder where we'll be technologically fifty years from now...

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Difference Between Literary Fiction and Genre Fiction

I finally figured out the difference between literary fiction and genre fiction.

A member of the writing forum that I frequent was struggling to write the beginning of her novel. If I remember correctly, she is attending a prestigious masters program in Creative Writing. (I might have that bit wrong, but it is something to do with literature and writing.) In frustration she said: "I have eight books on craft and not one talks about how to write the beginning of a story."

I've been puzzling over this for the past few days. I have a lot of writing books and they do cover how to start a novel. Why wouldn't at least one of her text books cover that element of fiction?

And I puzzled three days til my puzzler got sore
Then I thought of something I hadn't before:**

Most how to write fiction books don't cover literary techniques like allusion, synechdoche, alliteration, et al. Genre writers don't concern themselves as much with literary technique as they do about plot, character, world building, beginnings, middles, and ends. We might use those techniques in our writing, but we don't talk about them or how and when to use them. We might not even know that we are using them or know that we are using them but can't tell you what it is called. Think about it: When was the last time you saw a writer of genre fiction blogging about hyperbole? I bet at least one of you has run off to dictionary reference dot com or wikipedia to look up allusion, synechdoche, alliteration, or hyperbole.

So it follows that a textbook for a prestigious program in creative writing or literature is going to focus on literary techniques like those previously mentioned. You can find a list of them on wikipedia: And won't cover the elements of fiction like plot, characterization, world building, and yes, beginnings, middles, and ends.

When I took literature classes back in the dark ages when dirt was young, if we talked about a character we discussed hubris not whether we could relate to the main character or whether the MC was likeable or not. We didn't talk about the kind of plot that was used, we talked about foreshadowing and red herrings and things like that.

But just think of how powerful a novel would be if it incorporated both literary techniques and the elements of fiction. There's no reason in the world that genre fiction writers can't use literary techniques nor literary writers incorporate the elements of fiction into their stories. And it just might make the writer's story that much better. It's something to think about.

** If you didn't recognize the literary technique or did but can't remember what it is called, this is an allusion to How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss.

Look at Yourself After Watching This

Nick Vujicic's website:

Monday, February 13, 2012

Defying Gravity by Cherie Reich

Before I talk about Defying Gravity by Cherie Reich, I want to state that I only recommend books that I have paid for. This leads me to a bit of a dilemma when the book is written by someone I know to be talented, but because I don't own an ereader, I can't purchase the book for myself. So when Cherie Reich asked for people to review her book Defying Gravity on their blogs, my hand shot up in the air so fast that I think I strained something. Having published two of her short stories, Io Saturnalia and Grave Mistakes, I felt confident that the story would be good and that I could recommend it to people. So she sent me an ARC to read so that I could write my review and I completely forgot my rule about only recommending books that I have paid for.

What to do? What to do? I feel strongly about putting my money where my mouth is. And so I will say this about Defying Gravity by Cherie Reich: If I were still publishing Crystal Codices, then I would pay her for the right to publish this story. And that actually says a lot, because I passed on a lot of the longer short stories that were submitted to Crystal Codices.

Defying Gravity grabbed my attention from the start and held it until the end. There was tension throughout the story. I thought it was going one way and it would flip and go another way. The plot was very satisfying from beginning to end.

The story switches back and forth between her two main characters and that let me as reader really get to know Linia and Alezandros and their hopes, dreams, and fears. They were real 'people' with many dimensions not cardboard caricatures.

It's a great story! I highly recommend it! You can buy it here.

Defying Gravity by Cherie Reich

Book Description: Homesick upon the SS Perseid, Linia, a young linguist, thinks she signed up for a mission of peace, but her crew members have another plan: attack the planet Medusa.

Bored with his dying planet, Alezandros, a space cruiser pilot, joins the Medusan army in his quest for adventure.

When the SS Perseid clashes with the Medusans’ army, Alezandros and Linia’s lives intertwine. Sucked through a wormhole, they crash upon a post-apocalyptic Earth and are captured by cannibals. In adjacent cells, Alezandros and Linia cast their differences aside for a common bond: escape. But when romantic feelings emerge between them, they might do the unthinkable because for a Medusan and a Persean to fall in love, it would defy gravity.

Book Links: Surrounded by Books Publishing



Author Bio: Cherie Reich is a writer, freelance editor and library assistant. She enjoys writing horror, fantasy, and mysteries, but she doesn’t let that stop her from trying other genres. Her short stories have appeared in magazines and anthologies, and her e-books include Once Upon a December Nightmare, The Best of Raven and the Writing Desk, and Defying Gravity. She is a member of the Virginia Writers Club and Valley Writers and placed third in Roanoke Valley’s BIG READ writing contest.

Author Links: Website



Twitter @bookworm0753!/bookworm0753


Sunday, February 12, 2012


Hey all you bibliophiles, here are several cool videos about books.

It's a Book!

Organizing the Bookcase

Those guys had so much fun organizing their bookcase, that they went and played in a bookstore

And last but certainly not least, there's a brand new reading device on the market!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Looking-Glass Milk by Kristin Janz

Kristin Janz has reissued her short story, Looking-Glass Milk, on Kindle. I originally published this story in the Crystal Codices line which are now all out of print. If you missed it the first time, now is your chance to get it from Amazon. You can find it here.

The blurb:
On a hostile planet far from home, two scientists stand on the verge of a discovery that could alter humankind's understanding of the origins of life itself. But more than science is at stake, as Tanais and Xichen wrestle with questions of politics and identity, and race against time to redeem captive crew members from a terrible fate.

Go! Buy it now! It's only 99 cents!