What’s Up Wednesday: Book of the Month for November, 2013 Edition

I missed last week’s WUW so I thought I’d give you all a quick update on life. My Mum’s here from the UK, and will be until Friday, which is why I haven’t been as engaged online as usual (and I’m not normally as engaged as I probably should be–sorry!). Anyway… here’s what’s going on with me.

What I’m Reading

I’m still reading Stephen King’s NIGHT SHIFT, a collection of short stories written between 1970 and 1977. The ones I’ve read so far are dark, as you would expect from Mr. King, but what interests me is the way he runs with an idea. Behind each story there’s a “what if…?” What if trucks came alive and started attacking truck stops? What if a mangler came to life and terrorized laundry workers? What if toy soldiers took on a hit man? Some of the ideas may seem a bit wacky, but King gets away with them by the fact he writes so well. Some have a conclusion, some he leaves open ended–with a twist, even. I’m not into the macabre, but it’s a good read anyway.

What I’m Writing

Aside from a couple of Janet Reid contests, not much, and that’s okay. Time with Mum is more important. The writing can wait until next week. But then it has to be full steam ahead to get revisions done and have this manuscript ready for beta readers. I’ve got busy days ahead.

What Inspires Me Right Now

I guess NIGHT SHIFT is inspiring me not be be afraid to grab an idea and run with it, see where it goes. Especially for short stories. That format, like flash fiction, is excellent for experimenting with those odd ideas you don’t know would work as a novel, but you kind-of want to try out anyway.

What Else I’ve Been Up To

This year’s Thanksgiving was particularly special because my Mum was here to celebrate with us. She contributed an apple crumble, which was delicious, especially with FirstBorn’s made-from-scratch custard. We also tackled a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle, watched some Marx Brothers movies, and have been generally hanging out with the family.

Book of the Month for November, 2013

I haven’t gone through many books this month, but I don’t think my pick of the month is a “default” choice. It really is a great book, and worthy of the accolade. So, my Book of the Month for November is… THE SHERLOCKIAN by Graham Moore. The novel consists of two murder-mysteries, one at a gathering of Sherlock Holmes enthusiasts, and the other at the turn of the century featuring Arthur Conan Doyle and Bram Stoker. For those who want to know more, I reviewed it on Goodreads. If you enjoy murder-mysteries and/or historical fiction, you’ll love this book.

So, what have you been up to this week? Find out how to join the What’s Up Wednesday fun by visiting Jaime Morrow’s blog. You’ll also find a linky list of all the participants there.

32 Responses to What’s Up Wednesday: Book of the Month for November, 2013 Edition

  1. Have a wonderful time with your Mum ^_^ Glad you’ve all had a great Thanksgiving.

  2. So glad you had a nice Thanksgiving and had all that great hangout time with your Mum! :) And I think you are entitled to a little break in the writing front. You can come back to it with your batteries recharged. (And by “batteries”, I mean that awesome little brain of yours) :)

    Hope you have a great week!

    • Thank you, Kris! Yes, I’m having some good “down-time” at the moment. I certainly hope the creative juices are in full flow when I get back into revisions. :)

  3. I’m reading On Writing by Stephen King right now and it’s interesting you mention the mangler attacking laundry workers because he worked in a laundry washing sheets and other things and knew a guy who fell into one and lost both his hands! It’s an interesting read if you haven’t read it.

    • Yes, I remember that story from ON WRITING, and as I read “The Mangler,” I recognized where the inspiration must have come from. In fact, one of the things King made clear to me as I read ON WRITING for the third or fourth time, was how inspiration can come from literally anywhere. Those “what ifs” can pop into the head just by seeing an abandoned car, or watching children play with toy soldiers. The thing that inspires me with NIGHT SHIFT is not to dismiss those “what ifs” with “but I could never write a novel about that,” because you could write a short story. Or even flash fiction.

      In case you haven’t heard me say it before, I consider ON WRITING to be the best book on the subject in print. I hope you get at least as much out of it as I did, Melanie. :)

  4. I need to read more of Stephen King’s short stories! I think he can make anything scary – I found IT absolutely terrifying when I first read it (and still do!). Glad you had a great week!

    • There’s undoubtedly plenty of “horror” in this collection, but I’ve found some of the stories to be more “suspense” than “horror.” One I recently read, “The Ledge,” involves a man who, to avoid certain circumstances coming to pass, has to walk around a building on a five inch ledge some 30 stories from the ground. There’s no blood-and-guts, or monsters, or anything like that. It’s pure suspense. And I wonder if King’s inspiration was simply wondering what it would feel like to walk around a building in that way, and to write about it.

      Even if scary’s not your thing, it’s definitely worth reading.

      Thanks, Emma!

  5. I’m glad your mom was there for Thanksgiving! Enjoy these moments! :)

  6. The Sherlockian sounds really interesting. Thanks for the recomendation.

  7. Aww, your Thanksgiving celebration sounds lovely, Colin, especially the parts about apple crumble and homemade custard… Yum! Best of luck with your revisions in the coming weeks, and enjoy your time with your mum. :-)

  8. I love short stories for exactly that reason – they can be about anything, as long as the writing is good.

    • That’s something I’ve picked up from King’s stories: that format is a great way to experiment. This is something I’ve been doing with flash fiction, but I really need to turn my hand to more short stories.

  9. The Sherlockian sounds great. I’ll have to check it out. I’m glad you had a good Thanksgiving with your Mum. Hope you get lots done in the next few weeks :)

  10. Sounds like you had a lovely Thanksgiving! Enjoy the rest of the week with your Mum.

    I think the idea of “What If” is a great writing prompt. A good way to get the wheels turning and maybe write something that is outside of what we usually write.

    • I think there’s a “what if” behind most stories, even our own, whether we’re conscious of it or not. My current WIP could be summarized as “What if a teenage alien found herself stuck in Victorian London?” The real challenge with the “what if…?” is constructing a story around it. And, especially the way King works, not starting with a plot, or carefully crafted characters, but just that “what if…?” and letting the story tell itself.

  11. Marx Brothers movies! I haven’t watched any in ages, but I used to watch them with my family. So much fun! Sounds like a great visit with your mom. Enjoy the rest of your visit, and best of luck with your writing next week!

    • I grew up on Marx Brothers movies, so it’s fun to introduce them to my kids. Amazing to think the first was made in 1929–over 80 years ago! They’re not to everyone’s taste, but my son enjoys them. And everyone loves Harpo. :)

  12. I’m so glad you’re spending a lot of time with family. It sounds like loads of fun!

  13. My family would never have patience for a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle! If it’s not a blood sport (card games, board games, Apples to Apples, Boggle…), it won’t hold our attention for very long. Glad to hear you’ve been spending a lot of time with your family!

    • Mmm… can’t say I’ve ever considered cards a blood sport, but I can see how that can happen! It’s funny how a jigsaw puzzle can draw people together. Large puzzles are particularly good for that. Two or three people standing around the table trying to fit pieces together, striking up conversation… as a tool to facilitate family time, it works for us. :)

  14. Sometimes family does trump writing :)
    Though I did use writing as an excuse to get away from family sometimes during Thanksgiving.

    Have you read Skeleton Key by King? If you like his collections of short stories, I think you’ll like that one.

    • Family has definitely come first these past few weeks. I haven’t read SKELETON KEY, but I’ll add it to the TBR. I certainly wouldn’t mind reading more King short stories. Thanks, Kim. :)

  15. Yay for having your mom over for Thanksgiving! And both her and your first’s dishes sound delectable!

    So, confession, I haven’t read any Stephen King but I’m always curious to try. Ah, so many books, so little time!

    • I’m sure there are many who haven’t read any King, possibly because he’s known as a horror writer, and perhaps you don’t go in for that kind of thing. That’s certainly where I was until I read ON WRITING. That book was so good, I wanted to see if he practiced what he preached. So I read THE DEAD ZONE, which was so unlike what I expected from Stephen King. I have some of his “horror” books, but I quickly learned there’s more to King than frights and monsters. Give him a try sometime. Definitely read ON WRITING, but then perhaps look at NIGHT SHIFT, or THE DEAD ZONE.

  16. Apple crumble sounds delightful. Yay for time with family.

    I loved Night Shift. Read it years ago.

  17. Yes, the apple crumble was totally delightful! :D

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