Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Another (fast) book giveaway

Today, Penguin Group launches a new monthly radio series called The Literary Life. Completely written, produced, and hosted by Penguin employees, The Literary Life features literary fiction and nonfiction from bestselling, critically acclaimed authors and fast-rising newcomers. It’s hosted by Jake Morrissey, Executive Editor at Riverhead Books. Each episode will debut on the last Tuesday of the month. In addition to candid interviews with authors, regular segments on The Literary Life include: Inside Publishing, featuring a publishing personality giving a behind-the-scenes look into the book industry; Writer’s Rant, where authors are given the floor to vent; and Penguin Mix Tape, featuring interviews and performances by musicians-turned-authors.

To celebrate the launch, we've got one of the 4 new books featured on this month’s show – Rosanne Cash’s Composed, Maile Meloy’s Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It, Doug Dorst’s The Surf Guru or Sloane Crosley’s How Did You Get This Number.

To win, just send me an email at maggieball@compulsivereader.com with your postal address, and the title you want. You'll have to be fast, as this giveaway ends on Friday, 3rd September.

The debut episode of The Literary Life is now available for listening here and is downloadable from iTunes. In this episode, singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash, author of the new bestselling memoir Composed, answers questions and performs “The World Unseen.” Maile Meloy, author of the bestselling collection Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It, and Doug Dorst, author of The Surf Guru and Alive in Necropolis, discuss the art of the short story. Sloane Crosley, author of the bestselling essay collections I Was Told There’d Be Cake and How Did You Get This Number, rants about punctuation.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Science Made Marvellous

On August 17th, in conjunction with National Science Week, the Australian Poet's Union launched the Science Made Marvellous Books. These are three separate volumes of science poems: Law & Impulse – Maths and Chemistry Poems; Holding Patterns – Physics and Engineering poems; Earthly Matters - Biology and Geology Poems. I've got poems in two of these anthologies - "Six Flavours of Quark" (reproduced below) in Holding Patterns and "10 digits of e" in Law & Impulse, and therefore, am able to offer the books as a free download until the 30th of November. Just right click on the titles above, and click on "save link as..." or you can open them by clicking on them and save from there if you want. 

The books are superbly done with thought provoking poetry by some of the country's best poets (there wasn't a single poem in any of the three collections that I didn't love), so do please get your free copies while you can and enjoy science in its most novel and beautiful form.

Six Flavours of Quark

Up, down
strange, charmed
bottom and top,
that’s the six.
You know them; mapped them; found them when no one
else even thought to look.

I see them lined in pretty rows
well, not see as such
too small to see
but it’s almost like seeing.

The sweet reds; sticky greens; cooling blues.
like Italian ices I would lick
as a kid
tongue stained to match.

Their imaginary flavours
conjure childhood
goggle eyed
against something entirely new
unfathomably rich
impossibly sophisticated.

There’s something decadent
in being given a choice
something sexy, even
in giving a mundane, elementary particle
such sensual connotations.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

We've been awarded the Versatile Blogger Award

Virginia S Grenier, over at The Writing Mama has awarded me the Versatile Blogger Award.  As an award recipient, I'm supposed to do the following things:

1. Thank the one who gave you this award (thanks Virginia - I'm honored that you thought my blog worthy!)
2. Share seven things about yourself.
3. Present this honor to 7 bloggers (it's supposed to be 15, but I've got a deadline to meet, so I'm sticking with lucky 7).
4. Drop by and let the 7 bloggers you've honored know how they have touched you.

So here we go - seven things about myself:

1.  I'm a Writing Mama myself - I've got three children, and I'd better not get started otherwise I'd do a full blog on how wonderful and inspirational (and sometimes challenging!) my children are.
2.  I was once (formally) accused of using too many metaphors in my academic writing (still love the metaphor).
3.  I've been married for 21 years to the same person.
4.  I wanted to be an actress when I was younger, and had many years of drama tuition with Michael Blinderman, until a relatively uncomfortable audition for a film (Times Square) when I was around 14 made me rethink my career choice over an eggcream at Chock full o'Nuts.  As a writer, I find the skill of being able to get into a character's head very useful.
5.  My mother lives 15,507 kms from me (9,635 miles - a distance I couldn't walk, even with the Proclaimers song stuck in my head), but we are still very close and talk once a week. 
6.  I'm partial to almonds (no thanks - once I start I really can't stop)
7. My eyes are green (jealousy...)
There!   Those are a few facts that stray a bit from my usual bio.  

Now for the fun (and hard) part.  I've got to choose 7 bloggers who deserve this award.  All bloggers who take the time to pull together an informative and beautiful blog deserve this award and there are lots out there!  So I've ignored the huge ones that everyone subscribes to, and tried to choose a varied and eclectic mix of blogs that I frequent nearly all the time but that you yourself might not have visited.  They're like my local online hangouts and I'm pathetically grateful to their authors who keep me entertained and procrastinating. 

I'm  anti-chain mail, and this memey award has a semblance of it, but having said that, handing out kudos is something we can never do enough of, so I'll say upfront to those who I've cited below, feel free to ignore the rules and just enjoy my gratitude. 

My writing partner Carolyn Howard-Johnson - one of those writer's writers who is always willing to share and help others
http://eggbeater.typepad.com/ Shuna Lydon, my cousin, is a writer as much as she is a chef, and her food musings tend to the poetical - if she ever writes about almonds I'm sunk.
http://ncurnow.blogspot.com/ Nathan Curnow's Blog Eats Poet - superb poetry - always either erudite or funny and often both simultaneously.
http://heyjude.wordpress.com/ At heart, I'm a librarian, and a geeky one at that. Judy O'Connell's blog covers all elements of librarianship from both a librarian and a reader's perspecitve - it's educational and who doesn't need more education?  It's fun ("") and it's just a tiny bit geeky.  I'm there.
http://quietfurybooks.com/blog/ A Word Please - Darcia Helle's Quiet Fury blog - author focused, generous, insightful interviews. What more could you want?
http://howapoemhappens.blogspot.com/ Brian Brodeur's blog is endlessly interesting and one I subscribe to in RSS - he takes a macro-perspective on how each individual featured poem is created, delving deep into the creative process. 
http://grahamnunn.wordpress.com/ Graham Nunn's Another Lost Shark is a sumptuous mix of aesthetics - from music, to photography, to (always at the edges) poetry.  It's eclectic, informative, and fun.  I subscribe to this one by email and when they come, and they come frequently, I always stop what I'm doing to read and sometimes participate.  That's my excuse for not finishing my second novel yet...

Monday, August 9, 2010

Recycling your books

Reports and predictions continue to flow out about the demise of the physical book (perhaps 'greatly' exaggerated, though it makes good copy).  Of course big, expensive hardcovers (not budget priced paperbacks - that's a debate for another day) can't compete with $5 ebooks that you can search, read comfortably in the dark without an itty bitty book light and carry around without hurting your shoulder.  But for sheer furniture appeal, those ebooks just don't cut it.  I tried stacking mine next to the condensed character rich Oxford English Dictionary I've had since my uni days but they didn't add anything to the decor.  So how do you make the most of the lumpy tomes that are on your shelf once you've got the sleek, nano-sized electronic version?  Well you can still read them you know.  I've tried it and it works.  You can also trade them, which is something that is a little tricky to do with ebooks, even if you discount the formidable digital rights issues.  My kids are voracious readers (genetics at work), and I've yet to spring for ebook readers for each one of them, so as a special low-cost treat, we will often toddle over to the local book exchange with a box of pre-loved books and trade them in for ones we haven't yet had a chance to love.  This doesn't always end up with the latest new releases, but it can result in some wonderful classics that deserve to come back in vogue (perhaps helped along by recent filmic revivals), such as Sherlock Holmes, the Hornblower series, books by Arthur Ransome, or anything by Enid Blyton (though it may have a strange impact on your children's vocabulary oh my golly gosh).  The Secret Seven can be a little tricky to find at Borders, but you can find shelves and shelves at the Book Exchange, for something like $2 each (or free if you get a good enough credit).  Even ebooks can't compete at that price.

You can also turn your books into neat things for your home, especially if you don't feel the need to read them.  For example, Inhabitat provides a very easy to follow video guide on how to make a book planter.  I'm afraid I'd still be tempted to try and read it (especially since their example is Best Known Works of Voltaire and it's about time I had another read of Candide).  Note - don't try doing this with an ebook.