"Corcoran’s fantasy debut is equal parts thrilling and ridiculous. [...] Readers will look forward to the sequel."

March 28, 2020

Worldbuilding Worksheet

Back when I was a Writer-in-Residence for my local library, one of the workshops I ran was about Worldbuilding. I made a whole worksheet packet about it, including a chart where people can fill in facts about their own fictional worlds.

That being said, this isn't my own worldbuilding process. I'm good at letting my mind wander and make connections where it will, but I tried to break down that process and represent it on paper for other people to use. It might be helpful to some of you out there who may be struggling with worldbuilding, or who just want to beef-up the details of your world. Feel free to share it with any other writers you know.

You can download the worksheet by clicking on this link (it's a Word file instead of a PDF, for reasons relating to my cheapness and not wanting to pay for the ability to do both landscape and portrait mode in Canva).

That's all I have this week, as I'm working on a Love & Chaos related project and need to devote my time to that. Stay tuned!

March 22, 2020

Something Salty, Something Sweet: Feminism in Fiction

To make up for not posting last week, I offer two video essays:

Something Salty: Faux Feminism in Fiction

Something Sweet: Pro Feminism in Fiction

March 1, 2020

Library Life: Dewey Made Easy

Last time, I discussed call numbers on youth literature. Today, I tackle nonfiction, which is organized according to Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC, for short). Unfortunately, some people hear the phrase “Dewey Decimal System” and give up on the spot, sure that this century-and-a-half old system is far too cumbersome for the laymen to work with. Not so! And, as someone who is positively in love with nonfiction, I’m here to tell you how to navigate it.

See, Melvil Dewey was obsessed with simplification and classification, even from his youth. He decided that there ought to be a way to categorize all human knowledge, and so created his decimal system. There are ten main classes, broken into a thousand subclasses—these are the numbers to the left of the decimal point in any nonfiction call number you come across. The numbers to right of the decimal, in the tenths, hundredths, thousandths, and so on places, are even smaller, more specific categories. Essentially, Dewey found a way to place any subject into a large category, and then specify where it should live by creating more and more little sub-sub-sub categories. Brilliant!

February 15, 2020

Library Life: E? YA? J? What’s With All These Letters?

Perhaps you’ve seen them when searching for Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery: J MONTGOMERY. Or maybe you’ve noticed those little white stickers at the bottom of every library book’s spine: M PAT,TERSON W L'AMOUR , F CUSSLER. These letters—called “call numbers” in library speak—are meant to indicate where a book should live in a library, plus the first three letters of the authors last name. They're basically the book’s address in Library City, and tell you exactly where to find what you’re looking for. And while it’s obvious that “F” is fiction, “M” is mystery, and “W” is western, other call numbers are a little more confusing, particularly for children’s books: E, YA, and J.

“E” is the easiest to explain—pun intended—because it stands for “Easy” or “Early Reader”. These are books for the littlest of tykes who are either pre-readers or just taking their first steps into reading. Thus, all of the picture books in my library are labeled “E”, followed by the first three letters of the author’s last name.

February 7, 2020

Rant Rave Review: Half-Moon Investigations and Knives Out

I was sick last weekend and busy this week, so here’s a litte extra rave in lieu of last week’s post. Enjoy!

January 19, 2020

Library Life: What is Weeding, and Why?

"Weeding" is a term used by librarians to refer to selecting books to be removed from the collection. This can be a contentious topic, as the thought of "getting rid of books" seems sacrilegious in a library setting. But we're not getting rid of books; we're just moving them elsewhere. And we're doing it for the health of the collection.

But Why?

Much like how an overgrown forest is not a healthy forest (for those of you not from the southwest, all the tiny, short trees become excellent fuel for forest fires), a cramped library is not a healthy library. We get new books every month, and with a finite amount of space on our shelves, that means we have to weed other books to make room. Not only do library shelves need enough space to hold incoming books, they need enough room to account for books which are currently checked out and will be reshelved when they return.

In addition to this is the fact that cramped shelves cause information overload if you're browsing for some non-specified book. There's just too much to look at, so finding what you're looking for can be a headache. And this is to say nothing of the fact that the spot on the end of each shelf where the weeded books once were can be used to display face-out books, which are statistically more likely to be checked out, because we all, in fact, judge books based on their covers.  All in all, empty shelf space is a good thing.

I Fight for the User!

But who gets to decide what books are removed? You do! The basic policy of weeding is to remove books which are no longer circulating--that is, no longer being read by you, the user (which is a fancy librarian word for a library patron, which is an even fancier way of saying customer).

Note that this isn't the same as weeding old books. A brand new book that was checked out once, and then sat, unread, for five years, will be weeded, while a century old book that still gets checked out again and again will stay. The new book wasn't what that particular library's users wanted or needed, but the old book proved its mettle. Weeding comes down to trusting the patrons and keeping what they want in the library, and recognizing that a book that isn't being read isn't doing anyone any good.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
But what happens to those poor little weeded books? The vast majority of them are given back to the community, either in the library's book sale, which helps generate funds to buy new materials or do events, or as free books. While a book may not be popular enough to circulate well in a library, it's not unusual for a sale or free book to find that one unique person who loves it and gives it a "forever home". I once weeded an entire set of The Saint by Leslie Charteris, not one of which had been checked out in years, only for a woman to come asking if there were any more, because she had taken the whole series home and loved it so much!

Of course, there are exceptions. Some books are out-of-date, such as test manuals for standardized tests that no longer exist, or road atlases of ever-expanding cities. Some outdated books can actually be a little hazardous, such as ancient manuals on wiring and electricity. And some used up all their luck being published in the first place, like The Complete Beauty Bible, which is an inch and a half thick, all text about beauty treatments and supplies, but no pictures (this is a real book that I have seen with my own eyes. The text was small, and the entries, comprehensive. It really was The Complete Beauty Bible!). Books like these--I'll admit--are disposed of, either by being recycled into lovely book art, or thrown away outright. These books have served their purpose, and can now rest in Book 
Valhalla, or Book Heaven, or the Summerlands, or wherever it is books go when they die.

Rest in peace, little books. Rest in peace.