books

Reader’s Corner

Girl Reading Book, Lynette M BurrowsToday I’m starting a new series that I hope will be entertaining and informative. I’ve created a questionnaire for readers to complete and will post the results here. Which readers? Anyone who enjoys reading. Doesn’t matter whether you read, fiction, nonfiction, comics, or graphic novels–it all qualifies. If you read, I’d love for you to participate. See the downloadable form and instructions below.

So on with the Interview.

I’m pleased to introduce . . . Myself. You’ll find my bio here  and my debut novel blurb here. Welcome to my website, my blog, and my first reader interview.

Reader Interview

(with a tip of the hat to Inside the Actor’s Studio)
  • First Name: Lynette
  • Gender: Wonder Woman
  • Age Range: Not dead yet
  • Occupation: Writer and about to be retired pediatric nurse
  • What occupation (other than yours) would you like to try? Singer (if I could get over the stage fright)
  • What sound or noise do you love? A child’s bubbly laughter that you hear and cannot help but smile
  • What sound or noise do you hate? Whining
  • What is your favorite word? Starts with f and rhymes with duck—well, it’s not really a favorite, but it’s one I use way too often!
  • Fiction or Nonfiction? Both
  • Genre? Make me care about the characters and I will read anything. I tend to prefer thrillers. If it’s a thriller space opera, that’s about perfect!
  • Ebook, audio book, or physical book? Physical book
  • What makes you choose a book to read? Author? Cover? Blurb? Recommendation? Any of the above, though most often it’s by a recommendation I’ve gotten from a friend or trusted website.
  • What makes you put down a book? Characters with nothing at stake, characters whose only purpose is to fulfill stupid plot tricks, the story wanders vaguely around events that don’t mean much, or the description or info dump goes on for paragraphs and on for pages.
  • What book did you just finish? A YA Paranormal called Shattered Seam by Kathleen Groger, an Immersion Sister. I read a small portion when we went to a Master Immersion class together. I’m sorry I took so long to get around to reading it. It’s so GOOD! I also read a nonfiction book called The Unfit, History of a Bad Idea by Elof Axel Carlson.
  • What are you reading now? Story Genius by Lisa Cron,
  • Do you re-read books? Yes! Why? I love the experience, the journey, of that particular book. Usually it’s specifically the characters’ journey, but it can also be the world building.
  • All time favorite book? Oh, boy, this is tough. Little Women, A Wrinkle in Time, Dune, Seventh Son, Gone with the Wind are all favorites. I have many but I re-read Little Women until the pages fell out.
  • If heaven exists, what would you want St. Peter to say? What took you so long? (interpret that any way you wish!)

~~~~~~~~~

I hope you enjoyed the interview.

What other questions would you like to ask readers?

Would you like to answer the questions and be featured in an upcoming blog post? You can download the questionnaire and fill it out.

Click here to download the Reader Interview

Email me your answers and I’ll let you know when your answers will be featured on this website.

Thank you so much for spending time with me! If you’ve taken the time to download the questionnaire, or to comment below, I am delighted and honored.

 

Is it OCD or OHO?

Have you watched TV news and TV reality shows about hoarders? How could anyone allow themselves to get into that kind of a muddle, you might ask. Is it a physical problem? Maybe they don’t have the time, energy or ability to take care of this stuff. Most likely time, energy and physical ability are only small pieces of this puzzle. According the Mayo Clinic hoarding is the excessive collection of items, along with the inability to discard them. It may be a symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

The other day, I went to my office to work and could not find a flat surface. I made excuses: I’ve been working lots of overtime lately, I’ve had lots of family stuff going on, etc. etc. I moved stuff around, all I needed was a little space. I sat down to work, looked around my office . . .

Lynette M. Burrows science fiction author, Lynette M. Burrows, author; Lynette M. Burrows action-adventure science fiction

Courtesy of Toms Baugis

Uh, Houston, we may have a problem.

No, I don’t hoard animals. (Though some would say two dogs are two too many). And I don’t have piles and piles of plastic bins full of stuff. (I don’t consider two or three a pile, do you?) No, nothing so exotic.

My desk is piled high with paper, books, things I was going to put away and somehow found their way in here. But the worst pile of all is the paper. Full sized notebook paper, typing paper, post-it notes, pieces of napkins, receipts, scraps of envelopes, and I don’t know what else. They’ve got notes on them – lists of things to do, ideas for stories, snippets of overheard conversations, goals, shopping lists, pieces of code that are useful. Sigh.

I confess

I hoard paper in all of its forms. It piles up to the point of being near avalanche proportions as you can see (please, don’t judge).

Lynette M. Burrows, author; Lynette M. Burrows, science fiction author; Lynette M. Burrows action-adventure science fiction

Courtesy of L. E. Carmichael on Flickr Commons

And books.  They’re paper, too.

Lynette M. Burrows, author; Lynette M. Burrows, science fiction author; Lynette M. Burrows, action-adventure science fiction

loaded bookcase by Lynette M. Burrows

I hate to throw stuff out, especially if it has something written on it! I might need it someday. (Now, now. I asked you not to judge!)

I’ve read ‘how to organize’ books ad nauseum. The only piece of advice that has stuck in my head is “handle each paper only once.” Only once?! Come on now, I’m a writer. I write the first draft on the computer, but I edit on paper. Not only that, my manuscript pages go through multiple revisions, meaning multiple print outs. And since the manuscript is first priority, all those bills and receipts and lists pile higher.  And books?  I’ve got books to read for pleasure, books to read for research, books to read for fun, and books to read because they sound interesting.  In my house, books multiply exponentially!

Wait. If hoarding is not being able to discard things, that’s not what I have. It’s not that I am <em>unable</em> to throw things away, it’s that other things take priority.

Not OCD but, OHO (otherwise happily occupied).

I suspect there are a lot of us OHO’s out there.

It’s time for you to confess.

What multiplies in your house when you are OHO?

 

Hooked

Lynette M Burrows author, Lynette M Burrows science fiction author, Lynette M Burrows action-adventure science fiction author

Courtesy of kbowenwriter and WANA Commons on Flickr

Once upon a time

. . . it was tradition to begin a story with those words. Today’s reader will accept that opening only for a certain type of story. Regardless of the genre or style of fiction, the beginning of the book is critical.  Often readers will open a book and read the first few paragraphs before deciding to spend their time on the story. If the first lines of the book make the reader go ‘bleh ‘ the book is put down and never opened again.  If the opening lines hook the reader, the reader is entertained for hours.

First Lines

Arbitrarily define the opening of the story as the first 100 words, here are the hooks of two of my favorite books.

Dune by Frank Herbert, Ace Books 1965

In the weeks before their departure to Arrakis, when all the final scurrying about had reached a nearly unbearable frenzy, an old crone came to visit the mother of the boy, Paul.

It was a warm night at Castle Caladan, and the ancient pile of stone that had served the Atreides family as home for twenty-six generations bore that cooled-sweat feeling it acquired before a change in the weather. The old woman was let in by the side door down the vaulted passage by Paul’s room and she was allowed a moment to peer in at him where he lay in his bed.

In three lines of Dune, Herbert has given us a location, a life-changing event, a main character, and a mysterious presence. He created tension, a sense of foreboding, and a sense that something momentous is about to happen.

Notice the rhythm, the cadence of his words. Notice the sound and feel of the words: Arrakis, scurrying, crone, Castle Caladan, ancient, Atreides.

Notice it’s final scurrying and unbearable frenzy. Did you catch the references to change? Are you hooked? I sure am.

Okay. Let’s try another passage from another book.

Seventh Son by Orson Scott Card, Tor 1987

Little Peggy was very careful with the eggs. She rooted her hand through the straw till her fingers bumped something hard and heavy. She gave no never mind to the chicken drips. After all, when folk with babies stayed at the roadhouse, Mama never even crinkled her face at their most spetackler diapers. Even when the chicken drips were wet and stringy and made her fingers stick together, little Peggy gave no never mind. She just pushed the straw apart, wrapped her hand around the egg, and lifted it out of the brood box. All this while standing tiptoe on a wobbly stool, reaching high above her head.

In this 108 words by Orson Scott Card there is a strong sense of character, of the roadhouse, of the society in which little Peggy lives. I already know I like Peggy. Do you? Do you want to know more about her? Can you feel the straw and the sticky eggs? Can you see the wobbly stool with little Peggy reaching for the nests? Do you want to know what happens next?

Hooked

Great openings hook the reader, but the story must continue to deliver the same great content. In my opinion, the two books listed above do just that. Strong characters, interesting situations, a hint of a problem that promises to grow larger, and a setting that fascinates create compelling first lines.

What do you think? Will you read past a so-so beginning? What books hooked you? Was there a particular part (character, setting, problem) that drew you in?

I love to hear from you. And you know my TBR pile can always use a few more books. Won’t you tell me about your favorites?