Monthly Archives: February 2010

Letting It Soak

By the time you’re done reading this, you will walk away with two great tips.  One that can help keep your laundry stain free, and another to aid in the editing process and your overall productivity as a writer. 

I know, I can tie anything together…

So, for almost two weeks I had a bowl sitting on my counter.  It was filled with cold water and one of DH’s shirts.  His brand new, silk button-up had obnoxious blue stains on the collar.  It wouldn’t have looked so bad if the fabric itself wasn’t a soft cream and the blue the color of Superman’s tights.  Did I mention the stains were the size of silver dollars?

I did what I do best.  I walked away from it.  Literally.  I put the shirt in cold water and left it.  No chemicals, no scrubbing and no cursing involved.  Just infinite patience.

In my experience, cold water will soak out anything: including fresh cherry juice, pomegranate juice and blood. 

Time can do that for our manuscripts. 

During an AQ chat the other night, this question was brought up: when do you set aside your manuscript and start working on another? 

For me, the answer is simple.  After a few edits, I put my WIP in my metaphorical bowl of cold water and walk away.  Every once in a while, I check in on it and notice the stains are starting to fade, but are still there.  In that case, I give it another edit and leave it to soak. 

Enter a new manuscript into this waiting period.  Between edits is a great time for me to write something new.  It uses a different part of my brain than editing and it changes my focus.  When I return to my stained manuscript, I can assess it with a fresh persperctive.

I know this is a bit unorthodox and some writers may be cursing me through their screens.  (Sorry, but my webcam isn’t fully functioning so I can’t see your head shakes of dismay.)  However, I think the process has merit. 

Here’s why.

  1. Once fully written, a manuscript undergoes a series of major edits.  This should be done soon after the ms is complete.  It helps me keep the voice, remember what I knew was missing, etc….  For me, the initial edtiting phase can take about four months and anywhere from 2-6 passages.
  2. After such careful scrutiny, I am no longer able to assess my manuscripts effectively.  I am too close to them.  Henceforth setting them aside and walking away.
  3. It would be a waste of time for me to sit around and stare at the bowl holding my soaking manuscript.  So, I write. 
  4. When I come back to my original manuscript, it feels new to me and I am better able to see the remaining flaws stains.
  5. Sometimes my counter is full of soaking manuscripts.  Which is good.  It means I’m being productive on some level.  And this is really my whole point.  I have heard of writers who spend years (many, many long and painful years) on a single manuscript before they even contemplate writing something new.  Holy Man Of War, unless you start writing at two, who has that kind of time to waste?
  6. Anyway, this writing, soaking, writing, soaking, writing process becomes a cycle of unwasted time, fresh perspectives and productivity.

The sad reality is that not everything we write will be published.  Especially if we a) send off stained manuscripts, or b) only concentrate on one story forever and ever, amen. 

For almost every manuscript, the stains eventually fade and disappear.  When this happens, send it out for the world to see.  However, if for some reason a manuscript remains unwearable in public, it’s okay to retire it to the painting shirt pile.  You’ve learned valuable lessons along the way regarding the writing and editing process.  And, if you have followed my advice on writing and soaking, you should have another manuscript ready to go.

How do you increase your productivity without compromising quality?  Do you write between edits or simply concentrate on one WIP at a time?

The Case for Little Description

My DH doesn’t read fiction.  Since we’ve been together, he’s read four novels.  All to appease me.  While on vacation, he started another book.  So, you may be thinking, almost five books in 24 years doesn’t exactly make him a literary expert.  However, his incredible insight the other day makes him the perfect voice of reason for less is more in description.

On our way up north he, at the wheel and me riding shotgun with my nose in a book, says, “You know the crazy thing about reading?”

“Hmmmmmm.”

“When I started reading Insert Last Novel Title Here, I could picture the house perfectly.”

My ears perked up and I set aside my Latest Novel.  “How so?”

DH went on to explain that as he read, he saw the inside of the living room right down to the color on the walls.  The Dear Author had not given him this information in paragraphs of detail.  Instead, he had simply written that the bodies were found in the living room next to the couch and in front of the fireplace.  He also walked DH up the stairs to the little girls’ room.  Not through ornate words and adjective cluttered sentence, but rather one step at a time via emotions and actions. 

DA allowed DH to fill in the blanks.  In his mind, DH was there, in the house with the characters.  He was invested in the atmosphere because of the LACK of description.

I prodded him to continue.  “A bar, for example, should be a bar.  With a certain kind of music.  Smokey or not, light or dim.  That’s enough information for me to know exactly what kind of place it is.”

Dim and smokey.  Immediately I was transported into every Legion bar that I’ve ever seen.  Admittedly that’s not a lot, but I knew that DH and I would end up in the same bar.

Bon Jovi blaring through the juke box elicits a whole different atmosphere.  A place with ceramic floors, a younger crowd and plastic glasses filled with cheap beer tapped from the keg.  Oh yeah, and a few older, haven’t-left-the-80’s, mulletted men sitting alone in corner booths oggling the Gen Xer’s in their tight jeans and tighter tank tops.

Country music wafting through the air along with thin streams of smoke puts me in a place with wooden floors and the stale scent of beer, surrounded by scruffy men and poofy-haired, cleavaged women. 

I don’t know where you would end up with those simple descriptions, but the point is, it would be your bar.  You would be there, smelling the smoke, feeling the sticky counter, gazing out of a blue haze at the characters. 

If the bar was described ad nauseum, we would all end up in the same exact place.  However, we would feel like spectators, not participants. 

When I write, I seldom describe anything with more than a sentence or two.  And most of what I write is slipped in during conversation or action.  I do this because reading long passages that don’t allow me to create my own setting is boring.  I have been known to skip pages at a time to avoid being told every little detail.

How do you feel about description in novels?  Are you in favor of detailed passages that put your readers exactly where you want them, or do you prefer to let them wander through the story in a place slightly different than you envisioned?  Does it matter?

When you read, do you enjoy making the story your own or do you crave to see exactly what the author saw when writing?

Introducing: Miss MC

Last Saturday night at a banquet for DH’s work, I was told that I was intimidating to approach.  I snorted water out my nose, slapped the table in front of me (with my head) and laughed until I couldn’t breathe. 

Me, intimidating?  In whose world?

Granted the young lady who said that is so teeny I could fold her up and put her in my back pocket.  So, in the physical sense that might be the case.  Yet her reasoning was, “You just have it all together.”

Repeat the first paragraph and add choking to the list of reactions.  In case you’re new to my blog, I am a hot mess.  If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you are well aware that I am an entire-stick-of-butter-on-a-hot-frying-pan mess.

Petite&Adorable continued, “But once I met you, you’re the sweetest person ever.”

This entire conversation got me thinking about characters and how we introduce them in our writing.  My MC’s come to me with attitude.  Sometimes I like them.  Sometimes I don’t.  I would equate this to the initial perception that P&A had of me.  First impressions are vital to character/reader connections.  It’s the reason readers turn pages.

If I don’t like the character, I quit reading on page one and don’t buy the book.  However, if said MC has a quality I like, I will continue reading as enthusiastically as our Geriatric Lab chases after pheasant scent. 

In writing, our characters must be multi-dimensional.  They need to have layers of personality that overlap and sometimes contradict, but always make sense.  If they don’t, they will feel false and be unreadable.  Yet we can’t put all this into the first page. 

We can’t act as the go between and say, “Hey, have you met Miss MC?  Even though she’s beautiful, smart and funny, she is insecure about herself.  She likes dogs, hangs out with her friends and eats anchovies on her pizza.  In the summer she water skis and swims in the lake, but won’t sit around the bonfire because she’s allergic to mosiquitoes to the point where she gets physically sick and swells up like a water balloon.  Did I mention she’s the sweetest girl ever?  You would love her.  Oh yeah, and she has a really great story, so I hope you stick around.”

The question becomes: how do we introduce our characters to our readers? 

Roz Morris explains how to make readers root for our MC from the get-go.  Once you get started, Lynn Price sheds some light on keeping our characters in character.   

And for more opinions on the subject at hand: how do you introduce your characters?  What traits ensnare you and entice you to keep turning pages?  What are introductory no-no’s that keep MC’s aloof, unapproachable and unreadable?

100 Legos

I could, quite possibly, be the world’s worst mom.  I certainly would make one lousy elephant.  Forgetting Book It’s, show and tell and snack are my most consistent flaws.  You’d think I’d have it figured out after the fourth kid.  But no, the 100th day of school (and the requisite 100 small things) eluded me yesterday. 

I wonder if I can begin a new literary genre: bad moms?  If so, I would surely make the endcap…

Anyway, just as I pulled up to the drop off circle, I noted a mom standing beside her car with a box of cereal on the roof.  I have no idea what it was doing there, but it triggered a mild panic attack, followed closely by the realization that I had, again, failed to remember an important event in my kids’ academic careers.

“Youngest,” said I.  “We forgot your 100 things for your 100 days of school.  Let’s go home and get them.”

“That’s okay, Mommy.”  Maybe the new genre should be Bad Moms and the kids who still love them. 

So, home we went.  Me rattling off all the different things we have in the house that equal 100 pieces.  Him vetoing every one of them.  Me growing increasingly distressed that we will have nothing suitable to share with his friends.  Him oblivious to the fact that if a mom could fail kindergarten, I was well on my way.

Enter my epiphany just as we rounded the corner of our street.  I gave it one last shot.  “Legos?”

We rushed inside, dumped the bucket of 2074 legos onto the floor and began counting out pieces and dropping them into a baggie.  Of course he picked the oddest pieces.  Strangely shaped ones, half bodies of Lego men and tree parts.  His teacher was going to think we’re schizo. 

One hundred pieces later, I grabbed the instruction sheet off the counter, noted that Youngest was supposed to present his conglomeration of 100 things as a riddle for his peers to guess.  Enter the brown paper bag (to hide the plastic-bagged Legos) and some quick thinking and he’s smiling when I drop him off.

Crisis averted. 

Writing is kind of like that.  We start with an idea–which can roughly be summed up in 100 words.  We gather together the pieces and put them into a paper bag.  Then, we provide a teaser and pray that our readers will be interested enough to open the bag and see our masterpieces.

The tricky part is sticking all those odd shapes into a cohesive unit.  I’m quite sure the kindergarten teacher expected a bag full of Cheerios.  Or maybe M&M’s or Skittles.  Not, however, a mixed bag of cereal and candy to create a new category of 100 treats like I pieced together for my DD on her 100th day of school.

But that’s the fun in writing.  Finding new ways to create compelling stories.  Bringing together new elements in a category all their own.  Delivering something unexpected and delightful rather than mundane and common place. 

The literary landscape is changing.  Subgenres pop up all the time.  While our economic climate makes it risky to take on a newbie, a unique conglomeration of words, ideas and characters just might be the ticket to breaking in.

If you were to create a new subgenre, what would would you piece together?

Connected

“Can you hear me now?”

Cell phones could possibly be the most annoying aspect of our mobile society.  What with their dropped calls, pockets of poor reception and unbreakable contracts.  Every time we leave our home and head north, we cross the ridge.  Inevitably this is about the length of time it takes for DH or me to think of something we NEED to talk to somebody about.

Inevitably poor reception ensues and the calls are dropped after a series of crackly, “Can you hear me now”s.

Sometimes when I pick up a book, my connection is similar.  The characters are crackly, the plot drops away altogether or the contract (my hard earned B&N gift certificate) is too expensive to walk away from it.  Even if the connection is so painful I would rather pluck my armpit hair out with a tweezers than keep reading.

As writers, it is our duty to provide good service.  While we can’t be responsible for all mismatched reception, we still need to strive to make the connections between our words and our readers as strong as possible.  To do anything less is to risk losing our readers–forever.

My DD started reading a book last night, The Splendor Falls by Rosemary Clement-Moore.  She picked it out at the book store over the very busy weekend and didn’t start reading until we were on our way home.  I can tell that Ms. Moore mastered the connection because DD hasn’t put the book down.  She brought it to breakfast this morning and even read it on the five minute ride to school.  That says a lot.

I can’t wait for my turn, when I will have the opportunity to learn what grabbed DD.  Was it the characters, the plot, the romance, the mystery?  What did Moore do to connect with her readers and her story?

While I almost hate to admit it, I’m a shameless reader.  I read virtually anything.  Mystery rocks my socks off, but a bad mystery where the pieces are forced to come together with the antag spilling his guts to the tied-up protag makes me want to rip my toenails out with a plyers. 

Romance is good.  Slutty scenes for the sake of padding a word count make me a little anxious, and I actually skip over the throbbing members to get back to the good stuff.  Too many gratuitious scenes in a row and the connection is irrevocably lost.

Another thing that makes me disconnect is language usage.  It gets tiring to read the firetruck word every other sentence.  To me, this is a big turn off and makes me think the writer is Lazy.  Yep, with a capital L.

So when is the connection strong?  Characters I can relate to.  I don’t like perfect size sixes with gorgeous tresses and curvy curves sans saddle bags.  That’s my biggest curve and I like others to share my pain sometimes.

Characters with a strong voice.  Not loud, but strong.  Ones who experience a wide range of emotions and react realistically to their situations.  I love humor (that’s the main reason I married DH–okay, that and his good looks) and find myself drawn to MC’s who share my sense of the absurd.  Wit and charm go a long way in my book. 

Plot is less important, as I’m as likely to read a chick lit, a western or a techno-thriller as a picture book–and love them all equally.  As long as there is some semblence of realism and continuity.  I just finished a book that was written in the MC’s POV all the way through–except the one small section where the MC was knocked out cold and the details needed to be filled in.  There was a quick POV switch, then back to the MC when he regained his consciousness.  I felt like I had multiple personalities and it made my love for the book drop about three stars.

To all my readers: what types of things make a strong connection between you and the books you read?  What breaks those connections?

To my writers: how do you create a strong connection with your readers?  What types of elements are important to you in creating your fiction?  What do you concentrate on so you’re not constantly wondering “Can you hear me now?”

Short Fiction Sunday- The truth about Lies

THE TRUTH ABOUT LIES

I walked up to the woden shack and peered inside the smoked-glass window.  I had a date to meet my writing buddies and loyal followers of my literary journey through the metaphorical woods. 

Okay, not so metaphorical.  I swung my canoe up and out, stopping briefly at the shoulder, then hip.  I propped it against the log building and wiped the sweat from my brow.  The woods were hot, as only a humid summer day can be in the Midwest.  I needed a drink and a break from the swarm of mosquitoes that had followed me along the path.  I was also late for my meeting.

I pushed my way inside and bellied up to the empty bar.   

“Tequila,” I said.  “With a clamato chaser.”

The barkeep eyed me skeptically.  “Odd drink of choice.”

I shrugged.  “I’m a writer.”  As if that would explain everything.  And it did.  In a sense.  Why else would I be portaging the BWCA?  I had something important to reveal and it had to be done in person. 

However, a quick glance around the room showed I was alone in the Cyber Cafe.  Alone with the multitude of stuffed, porcelain and painted calves that decorated the bar. 

“”Three seventy-five.”  The barkeep slammed a glass down in front of me.  Amber liquid sloshed over the rim and dribbled down the etched likeness of a cow. 

It was like a bad omen and I shivered slightly despite the summer heat.  I dug in my backpack for some change.  Organization had never been my strong suit.  Not since my big sister ran over my head with her blue banana seat bike.  I sported tire tracks on my forehead for days after that.  However, in moments like these, I felt my sis might be right that the damage was more than skin deep. 

I sighed and began emptying my bag onto the counter.  The barkeep blew out a sigh to rival my own as he watched the growing mound of junk.  Hair clips, chapstick, Kindle, trophy, kleenex…. 

“What’s this, eh?” 

I peered out from the depths of my backpack.  The barkeep held my blue and silver trophy in his hand.  His eyes gleamed for the first time.  “Oh, that’s nothing.”

“A tro-phy, eh?”  He reverently ran his fingers over the molded calf on top.  “Says ro-de-oh.”

My cheeks grew hot and I tugged at my collar, embarrassed that I felt the need to bring my trophy at all.  Yet I had a nagging suspicion my cyber buddies would have more than a nagging suspicion if I revealed the truth without proof. 

I reached for the trophy and popped it back in my bag.  I fished out my cash and dropped it on the counter, stood and scanned the room for my friends.  Their lateness had passed rude and was dangerously close to impertinent.  “What’s the name of this place?”

The barkeep shot me a look that said he was still unhappy about me pulling the trophy out of his hand.  “The Cyber Cafe.”

I paced.  Jean’s voice had been exactly how I pictured it when she explained the directions to our meeting place.  At the time, she had begged me to divulge my two truths and a lie.  I refused to give in.  Yet now, as I paced the back woods bar, my imagination took hold.  Maybe she was miffed with me for not telling her.  I shook my head.  Surely that wouldn’t be enough for her to misdirect me.

Eventually, the tequila ran right through me and I made my way to the restroom.  After washing my hands, I noted a sign on the door.  Thanks for stopping by the Cyber Calf.

A bad feeling settled over me as I made my way to the counter.  “What’s the name of this place again?”

The barkeep froze, his rag mid dry on the shot glass.  “I’ll tell ya for that neat little trophy you got.” 

I weighed my options.  I could hand over my championship trophy and figure out where the heck my journey had taken me, or I could stubbornly hold onto the only tangible evidence of my first place win (not second) and stay stranded forever. 

After adding to the barkeep’s growing collection of calf paraphenalia, I hoisted my canoe and made double time through the woods.  The trail ended beside a well-kept log cabin.  The Cyber Cafe.

It was with great relief that when I entered this bar, a crowd of familiar faces sat at a table with an open seat.  I dropped my backpack and plopped into the chair. 

“Sorry I’m late.”  I scanned the crew, putting faces to names in real time. 

Jean smiled, raised her margarita and said, “Must’ve made a pit stop at the Cyber Calf, eh?”

Welcome to Canada!

 

What happened to Genetics?

As many of you know, I am an avid reader and a writer at heart.  I love literature.  If I had a day with no responsibilities and absolute freedom, I would read. 

Unfortunately, my oldest fell far from my tree.  While he loves stories, he doesn’t like to read or write.  He has struggled with both of these since he attended preschool and rhyming was the eighth wonder of his world.  This despite the fact that I read to him for hours every single day of his wee childhood.  This despite my deep, abiding respect for the written word. 

So what happened to genetics?  Why can’t he read as easily or as fluently as I can?  Or his three younger siblings?  Why does punctuation have no meaning to him, and why, oh why, does he break every spelling rule ever created and not notice that his version is unreadable? 

Eldest is now in the 10th grade.  Today we embark on our newest edition of his educational life.  Today he is getting tested for Dyslexia.  While I have felt for a long time that he has Dyslexia, schools do not test for it.  When he attended a private tutoring center, they didn’t test for it either.  In fact, very few facilities do despite the fact that Dyslexia is considered the number one cause for reading disabilities.

To me, it makes sense to identify the problem and treat it specifically, rather than treating all struggling and reluctant readers the same.  Yet I appear to be a minority.  Maybe because my son’s struggles hit so close to home.  Nobody else seems interested in why the written language is elusive to him or why he can’t remember a string of directions or how to get home from the video store.

Instead, teachers seem intent on disciplining him for failing to complete an assignment, writing poorly or forgetting to show up for a band lesson.  Rather than being rewarded for figuring out the math problem in his head, he is docked points for not showing his work.  His brain does things a little differently than the rest of ours.

He is an anomaly.  Intelligent, yet average.  Attentive, yet forgetful.  Articulate, yet functionally illiterate. 

I hope these tests finally give us some answers.  I would like to understand how his brain works, because it obviously does not work like mine.  I would like him to feel, for the first time, as if he is amazing and that he can accomplish anything.  A diagnosis would go a long way in explaining what happened to genetics and how they seemingly missed him. 

I wonder if the Schwan’s man can read…

Just kidding, Eldest is the spittin’ image of my DH. 

Who gave you your love for the written word?  Do your parents read and write, or are you the apple that rolled down the hill and nestled into a storybook land of your own making?

The Writing Wagon

I am officially falling off the wagon.  My addiction to the world wide web and all the cyber fluff that goes with it is simply too strong to ignore.  Even though I know it is bad for me.  Even when it conspires against me.  Even when I should be cleaning closets and preparing for an upcoming confirmation.  The pull is too great.

Bad addiction experience number one: I had written a romantic, fairy-taleish kind of story for Short Fiction Sunday, being it was Valentine’s Day and all.  However, somewhere between writing it and posting it, the cyber monster ate it.  Or maybe took it home to his cyber-partner for a bed time reading.  Regardless, it is gone…

Bad addiction experience 2: Saturday was a temperamental internet connection day and I’ve been so busy since dawn on Sunday through now that I didn’t even try to see if the quirks had been dequirked. 

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.

I don’t know why I want to fall off the wagon, as the internet is time consuming and so far hasn’t gotten me a contract yet.  However, it’s an addiction thing and, like all addictions, it cannot be reasoned with.  Not to mention that I feel a little nekkid when I don’t spout off daily.  Also, I’m going through withdrawals for not having visited my favorite blogs by my favorite writers since pre-vacation.  I must do that soon or I think I’ll shrivel up and die. 

The reason behind the hiatus–beyond the obvious new suntan–was the fact that I ended up with a doozy of an inner ear infection.  For six straight days I felt perpetually inebriated.  To the point where I couldn’t open my eyes and focus, I fell on my face if I bent down to put my shoes on and I had the bed spins when I tried to fall asleep.  Lots o’ fun.

Or maybe that’s what happens when I don’t feed my addiction.  Maybe my ten day vacation initiated withdrawal symptoms from the hot spot and the only cure is to fall off the wagon and connect once again to my writing world.

I’m going with that. 

Because I think the worse addiction is starting something and never following through.  Writing is a tough gig.  Connecting and maintaining friendships takes time and energy.  Going from wanna-be writer to published author is not for the meek. 

I willingly embrace the responsibilities and fun that go with the cyber portion of my writing career.  It is definitely a wagon I am willing to hop off.

Man, it’s good to be back!

I cannot tell a lie…

As writers, we have the innate ability to bend the truth, create amazing characters and weave together fact and fiction.  As humans, we often tell fish tales to make ourselves or our situations sound better, worse, happier, sadder or more thrilling than reality. 

In light of our propensity for falsehoods, I present to you: 

Two Truths and a Lie

The object of this game is to bluff your way through three statements.  Two of them must be personal facts, while the other will be a fib, exaggeration or outright whopper.  Commenters will then try to guess the  lie.

My Two Truths and a Lie

  1. I can deadlift a canoe–pick it up from the ground and carry it over my head–solo.
  2. My sister ran over my forehead with her bike–it left a dent, but didn’t seem to leave lasting brain damage.  At least not that I know of…
  3. I won a second place trophy in a real live rodeo–for keeping my seat on a calf for 1 minute 8 seconds.

Any one is welcome to participate in this game.  To play, simply follow the super cinchy directions–or as many as you feel inclined to do.

  1. Leave a comment guessing my lie and your reasoning behind it.  Snickers of disbelief are acceptable.  After all, I am a writer of fiction.
  2. Show off your believability quotient by posting this game on your blog.  If you’re so inclined, you can link back to my blog.  If not, that’s okay too.
  3. Let us know in your comment if you are posting and leave a link.  We would love to harrass you learn more about you.

Just an FYI, about everything I ever write is a fib of some kind.  My life really isn’t as exciting as I try to make it sound. 

Or is it?

 

Kindle Revisited

My Kindle got a work out on vacation.  Much more so than anticipated.  As promised, I am here to report how I like or didn’t like my e-reader.

For starters, let me say love is a more apropos word to use.  I couldn’t be happier with me decision to purchase a Kindle.  In no particular order, here are the reasons why:

  • It was light, unobtrusive and took up virtually no space.  I read three+ books while on vacation and didn’t have to juggle them in bags, at the airport or in suitcases.  For those who have never seen a Kindle, it is roughly the size of a DVD case and about as light.  Because it was so convenient, it went with me everywhere.
  • And I do mean that in the literal sense.  It, too, tried to snorkel.  Upon purchasing my Kindle, I had been slightly miffed that I couldn’t order the official cover which is leather and has a hinge to hold the “book” in place.  My sister got one and says it functions like an actual book cover and can flop open like a real one.  In essence this means pencils and chapstick and receipts and hair clips can make their way between the Kindle and the cover like a real book if it is thrown into a bag (all my stuff is always thrown into a random bag).  As I didn’t have one of these official leather covers, I used a quilted cloth bag that my sister had made my DD once upon a time.  It fit perfectly.  It protected my Kindle from the contents of my bag as well as the ocean water.  My dear Kindle surfaced unscathed from its dunking.
  • A real book wouldn’t have fared so well (though I don’t actually recommend letting your Kindle swim) and would have needed to be dried.  It inevitably would have ended up with wrinkled pages that are annoying to read.  Also annoying to read while in the elements is the propensity for pages to blow in the wind.  On our day at sea, the wind was ferocious.  The gal next to me literally had a page torn out of her book as she tried to hold onto it.  Another vacationer performed great acrobatic acts with her arms to keep the pages flat.  I lounged with my Kindle in one hand and read away!
  • Which brings me to my next point: the light.  Everyone knows how frustrating electronics can be in the sunlight.  They are virtually unreadable with the glare.  My Kindle had none.  I didn’t have to adjust the way I held it either.  I do, however, have one complaint about the glare.  I found it to be present when an uncovered lightbulb shone directly on it.  This made airplane reading a little more difficult once the sun went down and reminded me of the glare on a television screen.
  • Comfort.  As much as I love the feel of paper between my fingers, I did enjoy the ability to hold my Kindle one-handed–even while flipping pages.  I’m a snuggler and on the six hour plane ride, I curled up in my middle seat so my limbs would not encrouch in other passengers’ spaces.  My Kindle curled up right along with me.  Very nice indeed.
  • Also nice has been my battery life.  Many people have complained about it and say the 2 week advertised life is a crock.  It may be for some, but here’s the deal: I got my Kindle on January 23 and charged it.  One day shy of three full weeks, I still have about 1/4 of my initial battery charge.  Maybe I didn’t read it as often as others do, but I did read every morning while I worked out prior to vacation and again before bed.  I read while I got a pedicure and for 12 hours on the plane.  I read during my day at sea and on four different islands.  On one charge I read four books and two novellas.  The key, I think, is to keep the wi-fi off.
  •  Navigating the Kindle was a cinch as well.  I think the keyboard is tiny, but I didn’t use it.  The toggle switch is simple and responsive.  The page turning feature a breeze.  The only thing I could think to complain about might be the etch-a-sketch rearranging of the words from page to page.  Some people have said it is distracting.  I didn’t find it any more intrusive than the flutter of a real page. 
  • Downloading was a bit of a challenge.  My tiny corner of Minnesota does not have Amazon’s whispernet service.  Therefore, while I am in my own home, I have to download books via my computer.  If I drive across the border about ten miles I can download directly onto my Kindle.  It’s not a deal breaker by any means.  Just an added step.
  • The color.  Brand new, the white looks crisp and clean.  I was hyper-conscious of this while sunbathing on the beach.  I fear that in no time, the oils from my fingers will discolor the cover and it will end up looking like the dingy gray of my boys’ Nintendo DS’s.  I don’t look forward to that.  Ditto for the screen, which picks up lint, sand and crumbs.  A soft toothbrush sweeps out the edges, but again, gunk is gunk and I’m only a pig when it comes to my closet.
  • Sharing.  It can be done.  My sister and I share the same Amazon account.  My Kindle library is her library and vice-versa.  Up to six devices can share one account.  I think this feature will broaden my reading a bit, as we our ven diagram is sufficiently diverse.   

I think that’s it for now.  If anyone has any questions regarding the Kindle, I will do my best to answer them honestly.  Would I buy it again?  Heck yeah. 

Is the Kindle for everyone?  Probably not.  It depends on why you read and how you read.  Are you a collector of hard cover books or a paper back junkie?  Knowing what you are buying is an important factor in deciding if an e-reader is right for you. 

But would I recommend it?  Absolutely…