Yes, I’m at it again –

I haven’t gotten around to taking photographs. This isn’t my bookshelf. My shelves are worse. And I have plastic tubs on the floor holding additional books. It’s rather depressing, I do admit.


At what? Being annoying? Sure, that’s a given, right?
But, actually, attempting to organize my bookshelves:

>Literary fiction v. genre fiction v. time-tested classics

>Favorites of any stripe, to lay hands on easily and read again

>Hodge Podge 1: Vetted, yet to be given a permanent home.

>Hodge Podge 2: Yet to investigate. (Keep or chuck?) I have a double-wide shelf of those.


My house is a mess. I wish I could call it a glorious mess. No, it’s just a mess. I like to think workmen who enter think, charming disorder. They probably think, Who can live like this? Everywhere you look, books and more books. Shelves, piles, boxes of books.

I have a floor-to-ceiling shelf devoted to theater, film, graphics, history of costume, style, and performer bios. I’d better not acquire anything more in that way because it’s packed tight. I’ve made a rule: anything new, something has to go. That shelf is my arts real estate, period. I’m not hitting the library sales these days, because of my bad back and knees, so that rule hasn’t been tested yet.

My history is broken up. I have general history downstairs, and sixteenth-century history upstairs. I have a used-to-be linen closet of nautical-related fiction, history, biography. (Research for my pirate adventure in book two of Sly.)

Fiction sits here and there. I’m exasperated with myself. I’m trying to see if I have Sometimes a Great Notion. I have Cuckoo’s Nest; I know that for sure. Getting the fiction in one spot–I finally feel up to it. My back finally shows signs of recovering from an operation of a year ago. The pain of standing–I’m OK for five-ten minutes, then I have to sit–is suddenly diminished. So I’m in a clean-this-dump state of mind.

And, as you can see, I’m talking about it because that’s what’s on my mind right now, and it doesn’t take a lot of thinking. The burden of keeping this site going shouldn’t be entirely on GD’s shoulders.

There are topics we’ve talked to death. Fine, let’s move on. We all have our personal relationship with books. There’s an easy article. For instance: who are your major influences? What directions have they pushed you in? That would be very interesting. Also, if you were to read entirely outside your genre, what would you read? I’ve started (not gotten too far) with Don Quixote and Tristram Shandy. And Reading Jane Austen inspires me to read her novels in the order in which they were written.

But, know what? What I’d really like to hear is, why are most of you not contributing a piece now and then? You have nothing to say? I don’t believe it. Too busy? This shortie took less than an hour to write. (Neither was thinking-about-it time burdensome. I combined it with other activities.) You’re not interested in putting that much energy into this site? Maybe you’ve given up on your publishing dream. That I understand all too well.

Recommend a title I might be glad to know about. Ten years ago, Atthys Gage suggested I read E.T. A. Hoffmann’s The Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr, and I’ll thank him forever for it. Another intricate take on a wiseacre cat! It’s nothing like mine, but the flavor is embedded in my brain and will eventually color my approach in small ways. (I am not asking for books about cats. I am asking for things with exceptional style.)

How do we handle reviews? JoeTV, a screenwriter, the guy who gave Sly its first review, trashed it up and down, in and out, then, in subsequent reviews, walked that back. He used to have a page on Wikipedia. I can’t find it now. Do I have his name wrong?

That first horrible review sent me into a deep depression, for half a day. Then I reread a few of my chapters, and said to myself: This guy is full of shit. This is good. I don’t care if he’s a big, successful screenwriter. He’s wrong.

Good reviews I discount. It’s the bad ones I pay attention to. But you have to not let yourself be intimidated by them.

Courage, mon ami, le diable est mort!
(Courage, my friend, the devil is dead!)

I’ve had the phrase in my head for years. I’ve made it my mantra. I’d thought it’s out of Don Q. No! It’s from a work sitting on my ‘Favorites’ shelf for thirty, maybe forty years: The Cloister and the Hearth, by Charles Reade.

Does anyone think paying for a Kirkus review is a good idea? Is the name as respected as it used to be? I used to get that Kirkus catalogue–it doesn’t come anymore–and drool over many more wonderful books than I could afford to buy. They probably make more money selling their reviews. The question is, do the paid reviews carry the same weight?

I wish I had something meatier for you, like last week’s post on Surviving Trauma. At the moment, I don’t. Will you give me points for trying? I promise to do the same for you.


17 thoughts on “Yes, I’m at it again –

  1. Thanks, Mimi. Your efforts are always appreciated. FYI, I file all of my books by size. It has to do with my memory, which was never big on facts, figures or dates. I remember sensations. The feel of a book tells me (about) where to look for it. You have or will enjoy researching pirates. I dove into that awhile back and genuinely loved it. For writing, I have a genre, hard sci-fi. But not for reading. I leave my interests free to choose reading material. JoeTV! Oh, that name brings back the days on Penguin’s Book Country.

    One book I would recommend to you right now is our own Victor Acquista’s Pathways To Health.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. WANTED: Marketing Person To Join Sci-Fi Lampoon Magazine Staff

    You Must
    Read no further if you expect payment. We’re a new hard copy magazine that has only published quarterly for a couple of years. And though we took third place in the Critters Poll (held annually since 1997) for Best Fiction Magazine our first year and placed second our second year, our highly competent staff of publisher and editors know less about marketing than a Monty Python newt. Hence, we currently earn barely enough money to pay our worldwide network of contributing writers.

    You Must Have
    A better understanding of marketing basics than a newt.

    You Will Be Expected To
    Put out our newsletter.
    Establish a presence on social media.
    Join email conversations to answer questions nobody knows to ask you.
    Do marketing things we don’t (and probably won’t) understand.

    If this job appeals to you, check with your therapist first and then email me at
    (Replace the parentheticals with “@” and “.” to see my secret email address.)

    – GD Deckard
    Second Assistant Temporary Acting Manager
    Sci-Fi Lampoon Magazine

    Liked by 2 people

  3. mimispeike says:

    GD, I have my next topic: The Joy of Verse–what writers can learn about writing prose by working with verse.

    An alternate title could be ‘Le Mot Juste’ – a versifier has not only to find the perfect word, but to find one (in my case) that rhymes and fits into a meter.

    I’m looking through the archives to see if I’ve written on it before. I may have, it seems so obvious. Do you recall anything of this nature?

    Liked by 2 people

  4. victoracquista says:

    Hi Mimi,
    I like the flight of ideas embodied within your post. I am way past overdue on contributing to the site. I have felt overwhelmed by a variety of things. I am far behind the writing targets I established for myself. I am heading off tomorrow morning for a needed vacation. Hopefully, I can get something done for the co-op after I return.
    I think Kirkus is costly. It may have some value in promotion if you get a good review. I’ve heard it help for getting into libraries. I don’t have a strong opinion positive or negative. I’ve had less time for reading and have been reading less. I’m bringing “A Course in Miracles” along for my vacation.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Perry Palin says:


    If I saw your house I’d assume you were a reader and lover of books of all kinds, and probably smarter than the rest of us.

    My wife is a reader and I am a reader. I thought about it, but didn’t buy my wife the t-shirt that said, “You can’t read all day if you don’t start in the morning.”

    I only own a couple hundred books, and I am okay with that. When we moved here 11 years ago I gave away a pile of books, and just kept my favorites and the ones I will read over and over. Most of my books are in two bookcases, hardly enough to need any kind of organization. When I need one of my books, I can find it.

    My wife has her own collection, and she has a friend who buys books by the bagful, mostly recent novels and some political commentary, and she passes them on to us, and after we read them we pass them along to not-for-profits that might be able to sell them for a dollar apiece. We also read books from the local public library, which go back to town when we’re done with them and don’t need to be shelved or piled up in our house.

    Reading outside my genre, I read crime and murder mysteries. Some of the modern American writers are entertaining. Some of the Nordic stuff these days is pretty dark.

    I have an unpublished novel. I think it’s a good story. I am not motivated to self publish, with all the marketing issues that would arise which I alone would be hopeless to address. I went to the website of a regional traditional publisher with whom I have worked in the past, and the website said they were so backed up with submissions that they were not accepting anything currently. I wouldn’t say I’ve “given up on (my) publishing dream,” but I have other dreams that are more important at the moment.

    Yes, I have failed to submit blog articles; I have earned your disapprobation. I have no good excuses. I’ve been busy with granddaughters and outside work here at Sorefoot Farm, and prepping for our Beekeepers Club presence at the county fair. But that’s this season, and would not cover years of inaction. I have a couple of local outlets for my writing efforts, and I have been concentrating on those. I’ve earned a kick in the pants from you for failing to submit here, and now I have to think if I have anything to say to this group of serious writers.

    Liked by 2 people

    • “all the marketing issues that would arise” – you’re right, Perry, it’s a huge learning curve, time-consuming and costly. Writing being the more enjoyable activity, I neglect the marketing which I work on in bursts. Sticking at it for the moment though, still curious to see if it can lead anywhere.
      Also been away too long – I won’t enumerate reasons or excuses. I fix priorities for the day, with the current WIP always at the top. Knocking it into shape is taking longer than I anticipated, but I learn something with each one and hopefully carry that over, even if the challenges are different each time.


  6. mimispeike says:

    Thanks Perry. No, I’m nowhere near as smart as, I truly believe, anyone else on this site. This has been impressed on me by intelligent, fact-based comments again and again. I mostly have opinions.

    Most of my books I have not yet read, or I’ve sampled, meaning to get back to them. The history especially, I open when I need to do research. And I have fiction I read again and again, because I love it so, when I should move on to other things.

    A year ago, when I was flat on my back on the couch, unable to move for over a month, I did read a few dozen books I’d never before touched.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. mimispeike says:

    I just found this on Facebook. These are remarks made by Clark Gable about acting. They also apply to writing:

    “Success–this kind of success-was the last thing in my mind,” the star explained frankly. “I liked acting and wanted to make a living at it, but I never once believed I would accomplish more than that.”

    “Few professional actors look forward to any great fame,” Gable stated. “They know that the odds are stacked too high against them. Intense ambition for stardom is usually found in amateurs who do not realize the pitfalls between a berth in a stock company and starring contract.”


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