Bookavore

Books You Don’t Want

People give me books all the time. They know I like them and collect those with a special interest. I have a lot, so they struggle to come up with new ones that they think I don’t own. This is a tough task given my loaded shelves and the fact that they cannot possibly know the titles of each and every one. (Maybe I should send out my inventory.)

One standout was called “Toilets of the World.” When I unwrapped it, immediately thought that I would have preferred flowers, birds, castles, just about anything else. It wasn’t meant to be funny or even informative. It was just a big coffee table compendium of odd johns in unexpected places and examples of some of the most expensive toilets in the world. I see a lime green porcelain thing in the shape of a pipe and a series of urinals with pictures of people posted above each one, staring at the “users.” Another is in the shape of a big kangaroo with his belly as the bowl. Oh Lord. There a urinal in the shape of a giant red clown mouth—garish and gaping swollen lips.

One toilet has a weird creature trapped inside, another is covered in fuzz, and yet another has a realistic painted arm reaching out ready to grab the next victim. I don’t bother to see where these monstrosities are. I just stare. There are teeth, tacks, robot handles, tongues, a urinal shaped like a horn from a jazz club. All in full living color. I start to get more interested and keep going. A thick, gaudy gold seat emblazoned with a royal seal tops a porcelain throne while one is painted to look like a woman’s lap (complete with outstretched legs).

But wait, there’s more! There is an antique wood thing that looks like a church pew (and it probably is) and a urinal guillotine combination. A grotesque toilet dripping blood is quite singular. I hope your visual imagination is intact and stimulated. One of the best is a stall painted like a ski slope with the toilet at the back. Below the bowl are skis and boots. You feel like you are airborne and adrift in the wind.

Why not an easy chair version, one with a computer system in front, or a transparent toilet tank filled with live swimming fish in colored turquoise water. Try a urinal shaped like a snail shell, an open flower, and a series of them carved out like the suits of a deck of cards (from a casino no doubt). Take your pick of a mobile toilet bicycle, a john in an electric chair, or one lit up with neon tubing that beckons with glee.

I could go on and on and even cover the special section on sheds and outhouses. You get the picture. I think that I have decided to keep the book and even share it with lucky selected friends. As for its place on the coffee table, we will see. Meanwhile, I am reviewing my favorites and putting post-its on the best.

Grieving A Loss – The End Of A Series

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I hate sad endings. What I hate even more is the ending of a series. We are talking books here, so pay attention. Breaking Bad will have to wait. LOL.

There are a lot of reasons to be sad when the last word of the last page of the last chapter is read. The biggest reason is that you have spent months, if not years, making the story a part of your life. Every day you look forward to the next part of the action, looking forward to the resolution of the conflict or finding out if the two romantic interests finally have crossed the line. Then the wait comes for the next book in the series, sometimes waiting too long. But then you are the first in line and escape with your booty to a corner to move on with your adventure.

The story is only part of it. Without characters there is no story, and whether it is your favorite hero showing once again why he is the best man, or the arch villain who you want to see meet his just end, they become a part of your fantasy life. You connect with people online or in person who you barely know and they immediately become a part of your life and the fantasy life shared in separate quarters. Too often, when the series ends, so do many of these passers-by in life, once who were strangers, then friends with a common interest, and now gone to seek out other adventures in the literary world.

More than a few people connect with the author, in the real world. Letters are written and if you are lucky you will get more than a simple acknowledgement. Yet the author, like your favorite character, becomes a hero. They are the reason for your adventure, and when the series ends so does your connection. Readers always try to get the great writers to keep writing, but few of these readers understand the energy and time spent to write superior books. One book is a challenge, but a series can be a lifetime of work. In the end, the author may be as exhausted as their readers, and maybe more satisfied

But here’s the thing. I am sharing my own experiences with the ending of a series. Other people will react differently. One friend I have was relieved that the series came to an end because while they enjoyed the reading, they felt the writing was repetitious, even cyclical. The ending allowed them to move on to another series. Another friend thought the same series should have ended three books ago because it was the perfect time to end it.

The problem I have with their opinions is that they are not writers. Many people try to write and either give up or simply are not good enough to keep readers coming back for more. That is what the end of a series should do – make you want more. Then again, I read all the time, so I probably understand the process better than others.

If you are wondering, the names of the series remain anonymous to protect the innocent – and to prevent any clue that might be considered a spoiler.

What Works?

If you want info, you get it in a book. That’s my motto. I love the hunt for the right one. You might say I am an avid reader and you would be correct.

People often ask me for help in finding answers to questions and solutions to problems. Recently, a plethora of health issues came my way. The most daunting was foot care and toenail fungus prevention. I am not sure why I got this odd topic, but there it was waiting for my research skills to prevail.

The individual, a woman, perhaps had seen photos or had friends or family who were afflicted. She did not apparently have it at the moment. I took on the job of providing source material she could refer to meet her needs. It wasn’t difficult. There wasn’t one book on just toenails or fungus, but plenty that included foot health, including this perennial problem of how to get healthy nails and keep them healthy.

Apparently prevention is not the real issue here. You get it and you treat it with a laser, a solution, pills (that might harm your liver but work), etc. You wouldn’t want to put a nasty liquid on your toenails every day for the rest of your life in the hope of avoiding something you may never get! I also found out this condition can affect fingernails which is a more serious cosmetic problem for most people, particularly women (although they can cover it up with polish). It isn’t serious, but you think it might be seeing black goop instead of pink flesh. (I bet you start to notice it more now that you know about the subject.)

Now I know all the relevant details and will share them in due course. If I get the fungus, I am ready for combat. Apparently it is quite common and almost everyone gets it at one time or another. It can hang on forever and treatment can be time-consuming, although not expensive, if you choose a topical solution. You have to have patience. It used to be a subject of old wives’ tales and folk remedies. Some worked, some didn’t. Now you can zap it off with laser or take the medication after a liver test for about ten days. Athlete’s foot is also the scourge of many and there are fast-acting sprays for it in the drugstore. It is also a fungus of a similar nature.

Because there are so many of you out there searching for a perfect solution, I decided to write this blog to help. The Internet is loaded with articles and products – the best site I found was one called www.nicefeet.net. However, being a Bookavore, I prefer a quasi-medical book that isn’t profit oriented and is more realistic with a true scientific foundation. The prescription drug is very effective (Sporanox is one) if you don’t have liver issues. You do have to go to a doctor and therefore should have health insurance to cover the visit and the subsequent pharmacy expense. This is probably why people seek alternatives that are cheaper and easier on the body. The problem is: what works best for you?

How To Publish A Novel – Old & New

Self Publishing

Yes, I am a reader. A writer, not so much. They say that good writers are avid readers, so maybe there is a future for me in writing books about books! LOL. Because I am not a professional writer, what follows is not going to be expert advice. But being around books all the time and overhearing a lot of conversations about people working on trying to get their writing published, I think I can offer some simple and sound advice about walking the path of publishing a book.

First of all, I am going to restrict my writing to novels, only because that is what I know the most about. A lot of people are working on novels because that is one of the genres that is in highest demand. People like reading about other people, fictional or otherwise. People like drama. That is obvious because if there isn’t any around they will create their own. No, I am not a drama queen, in case you are wondering.

But back to the issue at hand. There are three main way you can get your book published. The first is to take the traditional way of going to a publisher with a finished product and submit it for review and editing. Your writing will be edited, so get over it. Many people enlist literary agents who have connections to a number of publishing houses to get in the door. Since this is a preferred choice of many experienced writers, the competition is fierce and the wait before getting approval is long. However, should you make it through the process, the chances of getting your name and your work in the eye of the general public is much greater than using the other ways.

The second choice, which is becoming more and more popular with first time authors, is using Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. These are primarily e-books that will be shown on Amazon’s web site, which translates into free advertising. Like the traditional publishing route, every writer wants to get free advertising, so getting noticed is more than a matter of simply submitting your book for publishing. There is a royalty that Amazon takes from each sale, depending on the price of the book. The advantage to using Amazon’s service is you can get your book to market quickly with a minimum of red tape and processing.

The third possibility is to self-publish. If you are thinking that there is not an editing process with this method, think again. The best self-publishing companies have a set of standards that must be met before they will accept it for printing. But the advantage is that you have control of the entire process. No intermediary agents and no royalty fees per sale. It can be more profitable but you have to cover the publishing costs and do all the marketing and advertising on your own. Unless you are an experienced marketer or have advertising experience, the time and effort you spend getting competent at this part of the publishing process may be better used going a different route.

So there it is – your starting point. Keep writing, and reading, and you may one day find yourself on the best seller list.

Paper vs Pixel – Why I Like Both

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I am a reader. Not an ordinary reader. I sit and curl up with a book during lunch, after work, and on the weekends. I read most anything good, depending on how you see the definition of good. To me all reading is good.

By the way, I should mention that I work in a bookstore.

People tell me I am pretty smart, or pretty and smart. LOL. That is all good too. But I am a bit tired over this debate about paper versus pixel. For you non-readers, the issue is whether paper books are better than electronic books such as Amazon’s Kindle. To me it’s all a bunch of nonsense. If you are an avid reader like myself, both have their advantages, if you know what you are looking for.

Paper has the nice real feel to it. It’s like you are actually holding on to the story instead of reading it. I have had the experience of walking into some of these old bookstores, the one’s that smell of old paper and dusty books on shelves. Nothing like it. Turning a page in an older book is done with care, as you can easily tear a page or loosen it from its binding. There is a history to books, more than the history in the books. Paper is sensory and that is definitely lost with the evolution of e-books.

But e-books have their advantages as well. The biggest and most noticeable is the fact you can have thousands of books at your fingertips that weigh virtually nothing. The prices are cheaper than many of the paper books, and you can keep them almost forever. Amazon has hundreds of free books that are in the public domain as well as some books by new authors who are trying to create new genres. The Kindle device itself is fairly inexpensive, so despite the critics who say that it is cheaper to buy used paperbacks, they just don’t know what they are talking about. The technology of e-readers has progressed, and using them is easier than ever. Many people questioned the viability of e-readers and e-books, but they continue to be proven wrong.

It’s not that the technology is perfect. If you run out of battery power at the beach, the incoming tide won’t recharge your Kindle. Paper books just need to be kept dry. The glare from the sun makes a lot of the e-readers difficult to see. With a paper book all you have to do is put on a pair of sunglasses, making you look smart and fashionable in one step! And there are those who make the case that most people only read a book once, so having 3000 books on an electronic device is overkill. As far as I am concerned, there are books I have read 20 times because they are great. Not all books are Harlequin romances or outdated technical journals.

For me, there is no argument to discuss about paper or pixel because books are about ideas and words, not the container they are in. Sometimes I think that people just have too much time on their hands.