Loving Goodreads (And Some Reviewing Suggestions)

Good ReadsI am addicted to Goodreads.

I visit the site a few times a day and I can lose hours (hours!) just scrolling through the home page, looking at what readers are reading and saying about books that they had just finished. It’s almost like a sport as I moan and then cheer.

Yeah, I can get depressed by how few classics are being read by the population (I’ve never been one of those people who believe reading something is better than reading nothing), but it is always a thrill to see this immediate literary data. People always like to claim that literature is dying, but I see breath and heartbeats on this site everyday.

Right now, I have over 4,300 “friends” and over 80 fans. Some of this is related to my Twitter account, but I think it’s also because of my books, my blog (Hello!) and the book reviews I do on my local NPR station (you can check them out via links on this page).

The thing about book reviewing is that in many ways it is an art onto itself. Yet, ever since Amazon so long ago allowed customers to review products and books, that special door controlling whose voice is heard in the market has swung so far open that the hinges are broken. That door will never be fixed, and everyone is now welcomed in.

I know someone who will never give a book 5 stars. Never. Her reasoning, nothing is perfect. Case closed. I also had one person give my novel A Jane Austen Daydream only 4 stars with the comment that she would give it 5, but she wanted to encourage me to write more. I still don’t know how I feel about that. (Does that mean I am encouraged? I don’t feel encouraged, only a little confusedly sad.)

So yes, anyone can review on Goodreads, and, yes, anyone can review how they want. But I would love to give some suggestions for my fellow Goodreaders. Consider these my recommended new ground rules before you join this new literary sport.
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New WKAR Book Review: The Way North edited by Ron Riekki

Current StateI am back on WKAR’s Current State with a new book review! This time I am reviewing a new collection of Michigan Upper Peninsula writers called The Way North. It was edited by Ron Riekki (who also contributes to it as well).

You can listen to my review here: http://wkar.org/post/book-review-way-north-edited-ron-riekki

You can also read my book review below.

The Way North can be found on Amazon here. If you would be interested in hearing/reading more of my NPR book reviews, you can do so via links on this page.

I hope you enjoy my new book review! Continue reading

Disneyland’s Silent Gift

ResortThere is this time when you are staying at the Disneyland Resort Hotel when you can have it all to yourself.

It’s quiet, with the faint hint of music playing in the hotel lobbies in the background. I first discovered it when I offered to grab my wife one early morning a coffee at the shop in the hotel. But the moment I exited the elevator (and the haunting overture from The Jungle Book was playing in the speakers), that I realized I had discovered something unique.

It was still dark outside and I was alone.

I walked along the pool, passed the Tangaroa Terrace restaurant (with its fireplace still ablaze). There is a smell to Disneyland that I have yet to put my finger on, but the blossoms around the hotel and the restaurant added to its intoxication.

It was so peaceful that I almost felt a tinge of regret when the coffee shop finally opened at 6 AM and I had to make my purchase and return to the room and the excited kids. Dawn was approaching, a new day of adventure. Holding sweaty palms, wondering about bathroom breaks, and taking a lot of pictures.

That pre-dawn walk became a little ritual for me during my stay, and I picked up a coffee for my wife every morning at the same time. She always said thank you, but she didn’t need to.

It was for both of us. Continue reading

Six Thoughts on Disneyland

Sleeping beauty CastleSo last week I lived out one of my parenting dreams.

Ever since my wife told me we were going to be adding a family member to our team, I had dreamed of sweeping that child into my arms and rushing them off to Disneyland. Now it is six years later (with a second along for the ride), and I finally made that dream happen.

When you are a fan of Disneyland before adding the kids (I used to have an annual pass when I went to the University of Southern California, and I used it… often), you can never realize how much the little ones will change the experience. It is almost a new park. There were things I never considered before suddenly being on the top of our list of what to do next.

Fantasy Faire and princesses? Before my kids I would have avoided that bit in the park. But my daughter had to go to it twice, and both times ran with a smile right into a character’s arms… and then frowned in almost every picture.

On a side note: It’s funny but each time I visit the park I always wonder if I made the right call in my life career wise. The idea of being an imagineer (writing the script for a ride or coming up with a new one) or even simply welcoming someone onto a ride like The Haunted Mansion (“Move to the dead center of the room…”) sounds so enriching.

Here are six things about this trip with a family that changed my Disneyland experience for me. Continue reading

Hey! I was the letter H in the #AtoZChallenge!

Me and TonyThis post is a day late since I have only recently gotten home from a vacation with the family. We just spent five days in the happiest place on Earth. Yup, I’m talking Disneyland. Want proof? Here is a picture of me with a surprisingly silent Tony Stark. (I have two posts planned for next week around Walt’s gift to the world, so stay tuned!)

The Masquerade Crew each April honors different bloggers that first are nominated by their readers. I was honored to be nominated by Marshall and Tracey Best (@ancumer) and I am this year’s letter H!

The H is to represent “Honesty” and “Humor” in my posts. Now, I’m sure my parents and maybe some ex-girlfriends will debate the honesty bit, but I do admit I do see a lot of eyes rolling when I make jokes here around the house. I must save the best material for my posts.

You can check out the page about me on The Masquerade Crew’s site here. And please, check out the other writers as well.

Thank you again for supporting my site Bests and all of my other fellow readers! This really means a lot to me! Thank you!

Five Things I Am Into Right Now, April 2014

UmbrellaSpring should be a time of rebirth, new things to discover. It’s one of the reasons that the summer blockbusters start in this month and Easter is filled with eggs and rabbits. Yet, when I look over my list I notice that much of it is filled with… well… old stuff.

Maybe this says something about me?

Or maybe I just need to stop psychoanalyzing myself?

I do it a lot, of course, but everyone that has a blog does. We are a collection of little self-therapists, the only difference is the world gets access to the notepad. And can comment on it.

Well, speaking as my own therapist, I see on this list a sonic piece of detective comfort food, a need for silly humor, a demon I can’t escape, a cartoon for the kiddies, and a CD that always puts a smile on my face. My diagnosis is that it is a something like a call for Spring, but a comforting one. So maybe I am almost on the right page, just not quite.

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“…an imaginative and entertaining escape” Historical-Fiction.com reviews A JANE AUSTEN DAYDREAM!

persuasion_chapter6Recently, A Jane Austen Daydream was reviewed by Historical-Fiction.com! You can read it here. (You know you want to! Click away!) This is my favorite line from the review:

This marks the 35th Jane Austen variation I’ve read, and it stands out as one of the more well-written and thought provoking.

Here is a bigger excerpt from the review:

This novel, full of anecdotes, does not come across as a transparent retelling, but rather an emotional journey that fits in perfectly with the known facts of Jane Austen’s life. The inclusion of a completely fictional character, an American at that, ensures a uniqueness and the smart, humorous prose resonates the authors’ own beloved style. Jane’s experiences and thoughts are cleverly laced with phrases fans will recognize from her books, while character traits are obviously drawn from family and acquaintances unfortunate enough to make an impression on the young writer.

You can read the rest of the review on the site here. I hope you will check it out.

A Jane Austen DaydreamPublished by Madison Street Publishing, A Jane Austen Daydream can be purchased in print ($13.46) or as an eBook for the outrageously low price of $3.99 for Kindle. You can find it on Amazon here (http://amzn.com/B00CH3HQUU).

 

 

New WKAR Book Review: The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick

Current StateI am back on WKAR’s Current State with a new book review! This time I am reviewing the new novel by Matthew Quick, The Good Luck of Right Now.

You can listen to my review here: http://wkar.org/post/book-review-matthew-quicks-good-luck-right-now

You can also read my book review below.

The Good Luck of Right Now can be found on Amazon here. If you would be interested in hearing/reading more of my NPR book reviews, you can do so via links on this page.

I hope you enjoy my new book review! Continue reading

Panic in the Writing Mind

PanicI have always considered these the blessing moments.

For a few hours, every other Sunday or so, I escape from my life to my local coffee place. There I strip off all my titles—like parent, homeowner, overall responsible adult— and just write.

Three hours or so of writing bliss.

Typically, I come very prepared, never allowing myself to waste this miracle, this gift. I might work on a book or a blog post. Whatever the case, by the time I slowly (very slowly) pack up my computer, I feel spiritually satisfied. Like a box in my mental writing world has been checked. Yes, on the car ride home, I’m already considering what I have to do next (I am always planning), but it is not a stressful thing, more like a passing thought. A smallish fly in the room, not a bee to be swatted.

More importantly for my soul, these moments away from my normal world reminds me who I am. Or at least who I like to imagine I am. Scott Southard, that author dude. Like I said it is all magical in a way… until this moment.

Right here.

I, like a stupid, stupid, stupid idiot, forgot my jump drive. ARGH!

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Hello to my now 1200 subscribers! And now for something completely different…

My heroesYesterday, my subscription list passed the 1200 mark!

So very cool! I hope each of you visiting this site continue to enjoy my writing. And I have a lot planned over the next few months, including a new book I hope to share over the summer.

I decided I wanted to do something different to celebrate this new milestone for my site. As some of my older followers know I used to do a lot of writing around radio drama. I’ve had quite a few radio comedy plays performed by different radio companies and I have even had a 10-episode radio comedy series produced. It was called The Dante Experience and was heard on a few NPR stations around this country. (You can learn more about the series and listen to all of the episodes on this page.)

One of my favorite comedies I have written for radio though has never been performed. It is called “The Classic Geography Club” and, as you will see, is VERY influenced by the work of Monty Python and Firesign Theatre. You can check it out exclusively below!

I hope you enjoy “The Classic Geography Club” and thank you for following my site!

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