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Linda Hilton

Reader, Writer, Merciless Reviewer and Incurable Romantic

Currently reading

The Tale Of Terror: A Study Of The Gothic Fiction
Edith Birkhead
Progress: 20 %
All the President's Men
Carl Bernstein, Bob Woodward
Progress: 73/383 pages
Women's Gothic and Romantic Fiction: A Reference Guide (American Popular Culture)
Kay Mussell
Progress: 17/157 pages
The Looking-Glass Portrait
Linda Hilton
Really Neat Rocks: A casual introduction to the rocks & gems of Arizona and the lapidary arts
Linda Hilton
Progress: 61/61 pages
Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith
Jon Krakauer
The Power of Myth
Joseph Campbell, Bill Moyers
Progress: 20 %

Another run-around with Audible

This time it only took 20 minutes, but my refund is NOT yet confirmed and I'm not a happy camper.  It only took them seconds to TAKE my money, but they tell me it will take 7 to 10 working days to refund it.


Then they gave me a link to something that was supposed to give me directions on returning Audible books, but the link didn't work.


Then they ended the chat abruptly.




So this is what happened when I tried to cancel my Audible account in order to avoid "accidental" purchases in the future:





Yes. Just . . . . . yes.


Amazon eBook settlement money! What will I do with this enormous windfall???!!!

Samhain is coming up, and I decided to make a Celtic New Year's resolution -- reduce the physical book hoard at least to the point that all currently owned books are neatly shelved.  No more stacks on tables or desks or the bed or the floor.


To this end, I donated SIX paperbacks to the Friends of the Library today, books of which I have acquired digital copies.  Just since coming home, I've identified two more that will slide anonymously and discreetly into the book return bin the next time I'm in town.


So then I log onto the computer and there's the email announcing I've been given a credit on Amazon of more money from the price-fixing or whatever it was that Amazon got sued for.  Just when I'm trying to downsize!!


Well, of course I can put that sum toward the purchase of ebooks and not increase the collection, but I did think it was funny.  And the amount is kind of ludicrous, too:  $1.90.



Reading progress update: I've read 20%.

The Tale Of Terror: A Study Of The Gothic Fiction - Edith Birkhead

I fully expected this to be dry and very dated but so far it's been informative and enjoyable.

More on gothics

The Castle of Otranto is significant, not because of its intrinsic merit, but because of its power in shaping the destiny of the novel.

Birkhead, Edith. The Tale of Terror A Study of the Gothic Romance (p. 15). Kindle Edition.

still dealing with back spasms, but they're better, sort of

— feeling tired

Heat and ibuprofen, heat and ibuprofen, heat and ibuprofen.  . . . . .


I've spent the day on the couch with the heating pad.  Good excuse to work on updating some BL records, adding newly acquired items, scanning and uploading covers, and so on.


No sewing, no cleaning.  A little reading.

The essence of good writing

The Tale Of Terror: A Study Of The Gothic Fiction - Edith Birkhead

One should never discount these "old" works.  Therein sometimes lie gems.


If we may rely on Walpole's account of its composition, The Castle of Otranto was fashioned rapidly in a white heat of excitement, but the creation of the story probably cost him more effort than he would have us believe. The result, at least, lacks spontaneity.  We never feel for a moment that we are living invisible amidst the characters, but we sit aloof like Puck, thinking: "Lord, what fools these mortals be!"

Birkhead, Edith. The Tale of Terror A Study of the Gothic Romance (p. 15). Kindle Edition.



My emphasis added.  For this is what every writer should be striving for:  To make the physical book -- or whatever reading/listening device is involved -- vanish so that the reader is right there with the characters.


Thank you, Edith Birkhead of 1921!

Gaining a historical perspective

The Tale Of Terror: A Study Of The Gothic Fiction - Edith Birkhead

I picked this up a few days ago as a Kindle freebie.  I'm not sure how well I will document my actual progress on it, but so far it's proving quite interesting.

Just ordered this. A book I absolutely MUST have

To Write Like a Woman: Essays in Feminism and Science Fiction - Joanna Russ

The collection contains her wonderful essay on gothic romances, "Someone is trying to kill me and I think it's my husband."


I have a couple of her other non-fiction books, but oddly have never read any of her fiction.  I suppose that's another gap in my reading experience I need to fill!

Halloween Bingo 2017 - Country House Mystery - Brat Farrar





Brat Farrar was the first book I read for Halloween Bingo 2017.



I should be writing, but . . . . . . .

. . . my time is not my own this afternoon.  Because I may be interrupted at any moment, I'm not even going to try to get into the mood to be creative.  (About 30 seconds after I typed that, The Interruption walked in the door.)


I spent four hours in the studio this morning, until the temperature started to inch above 85, which is pretty much my limit for comfort in there.  The stack of small sewing projects decreased significantly, but I acquired some very painful back spasms as a result of being bent over the sewing machine.  I tried to break up my stints at the machine with some general housekeeping to walk and stretch and move around, but apparently it wasn't enough.


Our open studios tour is less than three weeks away, and the sewing is part of my prep for that and for the rest of the art shows coming up in the next few months.  My intention was to have all of the prep work finished by the end of this week so that inventory restocking would be the only real need from now through April, thus allowing time for writing.  Depending on how well these back spasms respond to ibuprofen, that plan may have to change.


Though I haven't been posting word counts lately, I have still been writing longhand when I've had time.  I let myself be seduced by the fun of Halloween Bingo, but the fun was well worth it.  I read some great stuff -- and some awful stuff! -- that has already helped with some personal motivation.  It has also given me time to sit back and organize some thoughts on where I want this story to go.  Now I just need to get it written.




Suspicious minds -- DNF, half star for reasons

— feeling bad smell
The Semper Sonnet - Seth J. Margolis

(Note:  I originally wrote this review in December of last year, 2016.  BL was having major problems at the time, so this ended up sitting in draft mode until today, when I was organizing some of my shelves and wondered why this review had never posted.  Aha!)


When Stephanie at Stephanie's Book Reviews reviewed this book, I was intrigued enough to check it out on Amazon.  The Kindle edition was only 99 cents, so I splurged and bought it.


Disclosure:  I paid the full retail price for the Kindle edition.  I do not know the author, nor have I ever had any contact with him about this book or any other matter.  I am an author of contemporary gothic and historical romances and non-fiction.


This is not really a review, since I've only read a couple chapters and may or may not read any more.  But I'm so disgusted by what I found that I feel compelled to post this information.  As an author, I cannot post it on Amazon; authors are not allowed to post negative comments/reviews.


I know virtually nothing about the publisher of this item, Diversion Books of New York City.  They have a website that makes them look professional, and they seem to have a number of authors and titles in their catalogue.  But I personally would never recommend them to anyone, based on my reading of the opening chapters of this book.


Editors are supposed to fix errors.  Although editors are human and make mistakes, they shouldn't make big fat obvious ones.



Screen shot from K4PC





Copied text from later in the same chapter:


Lee Nicholson would not be wounded. She would not bleed.

Margolis, Seth. The Semper Sonnet (Kindle Location 245). Diversion Books. Kindle Edition.


Copied text from the next chapter:


“You haven’t been charged with anything, Miss Nichols.”

Margolis, Seth. The Semper Sonnet (Kindle Location 292). Diversion Books. Kindle Edition.

Copied text from later in the next chapter:


Where would she go?

“Miss Nichols?”

Detective Lowry was staring at her with something verging on concern.

Margolis, Seth. The Semper Sonnet (Kindle Locations 317-318). Diversion Books. Kindle Edition.



And later:


“Leslie Nichols?”

She turned from her dresser to face one of the plainclothes men sifting through every item in her bedroom.

“I’m known as Lee. Lee Nichols.”

Margolis, Seth. The Semper Sonnet (Kindle Locations 365-367). Diversion Books. Kindle Edition.


An error like that is pretty much unforgivable.  I caught it on a first reading late at night when I was tired as hell.


Names are important . They are one of the first identifiers of a character.  They can also stop a reader in her tracks if they're wrong or jarring or . . . too familiar.


From early in Chapter 1:


Her mentor at Columbia, David Eddings, had assured her that it was her looks and not her scholarship that had landed her a spot on the news.

Margolis, Seth. The Semper Sonnet (Kindle Locations 224-225). Diversion Books. Kindle Edition.


David Eddings was a well-known author of several best-selling fantasy series.  Coming across an unusual name of a real person like this is a jolt that pulls a reader out of the make-believe world of the novel.  Had the name been Donald Eddings or David Geddings, I would never have noticed it.  But I did notice "David Eddings" and was immediately on alert.


When the main character's name changed from "Lee Nicholson" to "Lee Nichols," the importance of the other name doubled.  "Leigh Nichols" is one of the many pseudonyms of another best-selling author, Dean Koontz.

(show spoiler)



Had this been a self-published book, I probably would have stopped reading at that point and just posted a DNF review.  There were other elements of the plot that bothered me even at less than 4% into the book, but I could have overlooked those if I felt confident of the writing.  But because it was published by a third party, I decided to do a little more research.


The first stop was Amazon, to see what the reviews were like.  Oh man, oh man, oh man, here we go again.


The Semper Sonnet's dedication:


For Jean Naggar

Margolis, Seth. The Semper Sonnet (Kindle Location 64). Diversion Books. Kindle Edition.


 From the Amazon page for the book:



Full transparency my ass.


Oh, and that 1 comment?  It's Jean Naggar's link to her own book.  Follow that up and you'll find that Ms. Naggar is a literary agent.  I'd be willing to bet she's Seth Margolis's agent.


Full transparency my ass.


So now I have a really bad taste in my mouth about this author and this book.  I regret spending even 99 cents on it and putting 35 cents in Margolis's bank account, 7 cents of which probably went to Naggar.

The bookcase cleaning project. Temporary halt, because SPIDER!

I don't do spiders.  Period.  If they are outside, I leave them alone, even the black widows.  But if they are inside, it's Raid-time. This one was almost certainly already deceased, but I had to spray first, then wait, then vacuum.  I simply don't do spiders.


Once that was taken care of, I began cleaning and organizing.  In the process, I found a battered copy of Barbara Michaels' House of Many Shadows, which I read for Bingo on a library digital loan because I didn't know I had the paperback.  A not-quite-so-battered copy of The Sea King's Daughter also turned up.  And a Victoria Holt title that had not been catalogued.  Plus a few other things.


Several other books on the back of the top shelf became library donations, because I have picked up digital editions.  I am often loath to give up my paperbacks even though I have Kindle copies, and that is just plain stupid.  If they were books I wanted multiple copies of for comparison of editions, that would be one thing.  They aren't.  In fact, they aren't anything special enough to have two copies of for any reason.  Paperback copies are going to the library!!


I did not make as much progress on this project as I had planned, but something is better than nothing.  The bottom shelf still needs a lot of work.  However, the motivation also prompted me to tackle some other cleaning/organizing chores that have been staring me in the face for far too long. 


A large pile of junk paper has been sorted and diminished by about one-half; half of what remains needs to be returned to their original file folders. I will try to get to that this afternoon.


A HUGE stack of small sewing projects related to art show prep has been pulled out of the corner where I stashed it a year or so ago and moved to front and center by the sewing machine.  I completed five of these little projects -- there are literally dozens of them -- this morning before the temperature in the studio made further work too uncomfortable.  My studio needs cleaning/purging/organizing every bit as desperately as the house.


We won't even talk about the workshop.  I think it may have spiders, too, so that's a good reason not to address it right now.


Halloween Bingo - Vampires - Bingo #3

A Spirited Manor (O'Hare House Mysteries, #1) - Kate Danley




I read A Spirited Manor on the first day of Halloween Bingo!


Today's call of the Vampires square gives me Bingo #3 diagonally.

I went on a mini rampage

I threw away some things.  Not many, but a few.  And I put some other things away.


Shame can be a great motivator.


Here's a better picture of the big bookcase in the living room, the one I need a step ladder to reach the top two shelves.



The squiggly swan-looking thing on the left is a gourd.

Shelfies and Shame

— feeling ashamed

Prompted by Portable Magic's excellent photo essay on her lovely bookshelves, I thought I'd take a few shots of mine just for fun and comparison.


Of the 24 photos, only one turned out even halfway decent enough to share (and it's lopsided).



All the rest, no matter what I did, just illustrated what a complete catastrophe my house is.


It's not just that there are books EVERYWHERE.  It's that there is so much other shit everywhere, too.  File folders (writing research notes), packages of blank labels and photo paper (art show prep), notebooks (more research), origami boxes (more art show stuff), shoes, purses, sewing and other craft projects, junk-mail-to-be-sorted, dogs and dog paraphernalia . . . . . . .



And I don't even know where to begin to clean it up.  (Moby says, "Don't look at me, lady.  It's your mess, not mine!")