Thursday, May 20, 2010

Summer Writing, Summer Books

These days, I find sitting in one place for long periods of time really gets to my legs and back so I like to switch between the desktop and laptop across the course of the day as I’m working. The laptop has not necessarily been a godsend, however. Until now. The Lovely Lana bought me a lap desk to use with the laptop and it’s been very nice. It provides a more stable purchase for the machine and, best of all, keeps the heat the machine generates off my legs. I’ve been able to work much more comfortably with the laptop for this past week and it’s paid off in greater productivity.

Unfortunately, not a lot of that work has been done on the deck. Just as I got set to work on the deck on Monday it began to rain hard, and with a wind that blew the rain in under the roof. I don’t mind a little dampness myself but figured it wouldn’t do the electronics any good so I went in. Tuesday, I managed about half an hour on the deck, but though my legs didn’t get hot from the laptop, the temperature was in the high 80s with the humidity much higher and I started to get uncomfortable eventually. I did get in a nice hour in the late evening as the temperature began to cool.

The other nice thing about summer is that I finally get my fix of reading. I finished V for Vendetta, the graphic novel upon which the movie was based. I liked both movie and book and thought each had strengths and weaknesses. In a very unusual situation for me, I actually liked the movie slightly better. I read a The Louis L’Amour Companion a book of essays and checklists about the western author, which was put together by Robert Weinberg. I found it very enjoyable.

I’ve read a couple of books by folks I know in the blogosphere, Arkansas Smith, a western by Jack Martin, and Pallid Light, a zombie novel by William Jones. Both were excellent books. I’ve reviewed all these more extensively over on Goodreads by the way.

I’m currently enjoying an SF book called The Return, by William Shatner, with Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens. This tells the story of Kirk being resurrected after death by Romulans to be used as a weapon against the Federation and Jean-Luc Picard. I’m about a quarter of the way into it and really enjoying it so far.

I just loving having time to read. How about you?



Laura K. Curtis said...

I love having time to read! I have a huge stack of books I need to get to, though, and they are looking at me balefully. I take the ARCs for review into the bath with me (because it doesn't matter what I do to them), which is actually my favorite spot to read. Until the water gets cold. Then, it's not so good.

Happy reading!

laughingwolf said...

dunno if the laptop likes high humidity, either... but then, no electronic devices do....

love to read/write every chance i get

reading 'body of secrets: anatomy of the ultra-secret national security agency', by james bamford... gotta work some on the next manic mondays short, too :)

Richard Prosch said...

Haven't read a STAR TREK book for a while, but that sounds pretty good. There's another one I thought looked good (can't recall the title) chronicling the role of the bearded Spock seeking to reform the mirror universe Empire.

David Cranmer said...

That lap desk idea is a smart one that I need to look into. I'm tired of frying my gonads.

I'm reading the latest Mike Hammer which is really the old Hammer and its a 4 star read.

Charles Gramlich said...

Laura, I get a lot read in the bathroom, but on in the tub. :)

Laughingwolf, probably not humidity either. At least I haven't had to wring the thing out yet when I've come in from outside.

Richard, I saw that one and it looked interseting. I don't have it though. I get into some Star Trek moods at times and am glad to have some stuff around to read.

David, yeah, you might want to have kids dude!

Heather said...

I don't have much time to read and I've been slowly working on 'Exit Ghost' by Philip Roth. It's been ok so far, I'm about 1/2 way through and I'm hoping the pace picks up soon. Writing on the deck in early evening sounds divine! I should try that :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm reading one of David J. Williams' books - interviewed him today in fact - but more of my time has been spent working on my next book project.

Couldn't work outside here - too many bugs and too humid.

Paul R. McNamee said...

I love reading time, need more. Books are piling up, Kindle wishlist is growing exponentially!

I'm reading David Drake's 'The Mirror of Worlds' now.

I have an old laptop I really should pull out more frequently. I bought it with no networking and no wifi. The plan was to use it for writing! (and, I too purchased a lapdesk)

As you noted in another post, writing with online web browsers available is too distracting.

jodi said...

Charles, we had a bit of a rainy period here and I have been reading the Stieg Larsson series. I love that it takes place in Sweden and Norway and uses all the names authentically. I recommend the series highly!

Akasha Savage. said...

I have a lap desk too, and when the weather is nice I can be found on the lounger in the garden tapping away on my laptop...although I don't like the way the bright daylight reflects off the screen! - any tips on that one?
I think the biggest rival with my writing time is my reading time. I love reading and have a pile of book beside my bed that I'm always adding to.
I've just finished reading, for the second time, Duma Key, by Stephen King, and am now halfway through a horror story written for children called Mr Mumbles.

Scott Parker said...

Now that I have an iPod Touch, I can keep my laptop (and lap desk) in my writing room. I can lay on the hammock and read and surf and write to my heart's content.

The Return is, to me, the second best Star Trek book I've read behind Imzadi. Really loved The Return. It's basically Shatner's version of how Star Trek 8 could have gone. Granted, ST8 (aka First Contact) was pretty good in its own right. But the Return brings all sorts of ST goodness to the picture. It sets off a little trilogy with a couple of other books by Statner and the pair of Reeves-Stevens.

Scott Parker said...

Oh, and summertime is the perfect time for a certain type of book. Lots of action (read: Gabriel Hunt), thrillers (I'm putting my toe in the Jack Reacher ocean with this latest book), westerns (stepping into the L'amour ocean thanks to your post from a week ago), and comics (collection of Enemy Ace and Bat Lash), and whatever else fun I discover. Naturally, what I write follows suit so I expect to be writing about fun, exciting things.

sage said...

Lately, I haven't had much time to read and only enough time to write what I have to write... I have been listening to an unabridged audio of "The Prince of Tides." I'd never read Conroy and felt that since I was from that coastal area (but NC, not SC), I should read it... I've been enjoying it. There will be no break for me this summer... But I'm hoping for a sabbatical in late 2011 or 2012

David J. West said...

I agree its an unusal movie that I prefer over a book, it almost never happens.
Apocalypse Now over Heart of Darkness
Bogey and Bacall's To Have and Have Not-over Hemingways-Bogey and Bacall got a believeable happy ending so it trumped.

I am going to have to snag the L'Amour Companion from my father-in-law.

G said...

Not sure if I'm gonna use the laptop outside this summer. Think I'll probably do the bulk of my writing with pen and paper before transferring to computer.

As for reading, I should be starting some new books around Memorial Day weekend.

Seems that a box done showed up at my local post office addressed to yours truly, containing two books that you might have possibly heard about.

"Cold In The Light" & "Write With Fire".

Steve Malley said...

Oddly, you and I get our reading-leisure at the same time, though for different reasons: it's winter here, so not quite as many people want tattoos. That ever-so-slight variation in my workload almost feels like a holiday! :)

Charles Gramlich said...

Heather, during the school year I don’t get a lot of reading done either, but during the summer I try to make up for it. Of course, I don’t have a little one at home.

Alex J. Cavanaugh, the only time to work outside here is either early morning or late afternoon. The day is too hot and humid and as soon as it starts to get dark the mosquitoes come out looking for blood.

Paul R. McNamee, I’ve started a file on my computer called “BOOKWANTLIST.” It’s huge. I have wifi on the laptop but keep it off when I’m working. The temptation is too big. I haven’t read that Drake book. Let me know what you think.

jodi, I haven’t read that series. I’ll check it out.

Akasha Savage, My deck has a roof so I can find a place where the sun doesn’t glare on the screen. Maybe you need a parasol for your lounge chair. I haven’t read Duma Key. I take it you enjoyed it.

Scott Parker, I’m really liking “The Return” so far. Lots of good stuff in it and good writing. Ok, you had to go me one better with the hammock eh? Dude, what is this one upmanship? :)
I definitely want to pick up all the Hunt books. That’s what I forgot last time I put in an order. I’ll add them to my bookwant list. There’s no shortage of good fun stuff out there though.

sage, I enjoyed Prince of Tides quite a lot. Great description of the countryside. I hope that Sabbatical comes through. I was planning on applying for one the year that Hurricane Katrina hit here, and those plans got scrapped.

David J. West, yeah, it’s only happened for me a few times with preferring movies over books. The Outlaw Josey Wales was better as a movie. I thought Star Wars was. If you’re a fan of L’Amour you should enjoy the “companion.”

G, my handwriting is so bad I can hardly read it so I never do anything on pen and paper unless there is no other choice. I have heard of those two books. I heard they were really good and they bring their readers good luck! That’s just what I heard.

Steve Malley, you gotta take your minutes off where you can find them.

Lana Gramlich said...

I'm glad the lap desk's working out, baby. I know how hot that laptop can get! *wink wink*

ivan said...


LIke you, I like Philip Roth.

There was a novel by him about a professor at a rural college where he was surrounded by academic horses' asses.

...Gee I thought it was just a novel.
I must write one about the time I took a prof's job in King City, Ontario. Hey Rube!
(Or maybe I got Rube-efied?

Cloudia said...

Ah Summer reading!

Aloha from Hawaii, Charles

Comfort Spiral

Erik Donald France said...

Hey Charles,

nothing like time to do what you want -- reading, hanging out, all of it's good. Precious time and sacred space. The Return has the same name as the Russian movie I saw recently. How was the 4th Kind, by the way? Kirk stuff is fun -- cheers, man!

David J. West said...

I could be wrong but weren't Josey Wales and Star Wars novels AFTER the movies?

David J. West said...

Went hunting through my library because next to the L'Amours was Josey Wales-formerly Gone to Texas by Forest Carter so I guess it was first-and I agree Josey Wales is an awesome movie and absolute classic.

Charles Gramlich said...

Lana Gramlich, especialy when you are walking by hon.

ivan, I've had some experience with academic ambition myself.

Cloudia, indeed!

Erik Donald France, 4th kind was OK but it would have been better if they hadn't tried so hard to pretend it was "real" stuff. It was worth the passing of time but certainly not a classic.

David J. West, Gone to Texas definitely came out well before the movie Josey Wales, and then I think it was reissued with the movie title added. The book "Gone to Texas" is not very well written. As for Star Wars, I thought that too for years but I was told that Star Wars was written as a novel by Lucas before it was made into a movie. Then they were released around the same time. I couldn't swear to that, though.

Bernita said...

Since I have a sequel to write, I feel guilty about reading, but it rests the mind.
A vacation in itself, even if you never stir from the house.

BernardL said...

Notebook computers do give off a lot of heat. Having time to read is a treat and a fix I require every day in order to maintain sanity. :)

Charles Gramlich said...

Bernita, I try never to feel guilty about reading. Without it I never would have been able to write anything.

BernardL, I do read every day but when work is heavy it's more like "chipping." I get a little bit to carry me over but I don't get my fill. I like immersing myself when I have the time.

Heff said...

There for a minute, I assumed "work on the deck" meant CONSTRUCTION of some sort. How foolish of me, lol !

Charles Gramlich said...

Heff, my god man, don't even speak of such. I can feel the calluses forming even now.

Scott Parker said...

The Star Wars novelization was released in December 1976 (I think) ahead of the May 1977 release of the film. I may be off on the novel's release date but it preceded the film.

Charles Gramlich said...

Scott, I had heard the novel came first. Wasn't sure exactly when it was released related to the movie. Thanks for the info. By the way, at times I've had a very hard time posting on your blog. The comment stuff will load half way and then lock up. Maybe it's my system but you might check to see if others are having difficulty.

Scott Parker said...

Happens to me regularly on most every blog. I just check refresh and it takes the second time.

G said...

I can sympathize about the bad handwriting. Have you ever given serious thought about printing as opposed to handwriting?

By the time I was diagnosed with my current affliction in the spring of '08, I couldn't hold a pen nor write to save my life.

What I did prior to my diagnosis so that I was able to regain a little bit of me again, was to radically change my handwriting style.

I now grip my pen in my fist much like a beginner and print ever single piece of writing I do. Not only did everything become reasonably clear enough for me to actually be able to read what I wrote, but by and large, I regained a bit of confidence in myself again.

I now limit my handwriting to simply doing my signature, which due to the new grip and writing style, is now legible.

Also helps me with my keyboarding skills, because at the moment, I don't like using my Dragon software.

Merisi said...

What a question! *smile*

As much as I enjoy studying, I am looking forward to summer and reading. I have six more weeks to go, though, until this semester ends. Three months off after that should give me some time to catch up on reading fiction!

Merisi said...

I am contemplating buying a standing desk, to be able to alternate between sitting and standing. Have you ever tried to use one while working on the laptop?

Travis Cody said...

I love my laptop desk. But I do know what you mean about the discomfort. Using the laptop, even with the laptop desk, isn't the best situation for posture.

I'm working my way through The First Heroes by Craig Nelson. It's the story of the Doolittle Raid on Japan. I'm struggling with the way the book is written. Mr Nelson mixes in quite a bit of biographical data about the pilots and crew of the mission, which is all important stuff. But the way he does it impedes the flow of the prose.

I think that the style of writing fits more with a history channel documentary than it does in a book. I wouldn't recommend this book to someone as a first study of the Tokyo raid. Rather, it's more for someone like me who knows the basic facts and is looking for the little details that provide flavor and round out the history.

Harry Markov said...

I am having a mighty fun time, not reading on tight deadlines. Right now I am exploring a Canadian alternative history/urban fantasy set after the Civil War in the States.

"A Book of Tongues" by Gemma Files.

Lovely, really.

Barrie said...

I'm a little jealous. I don't have tons of reading time at the moment. Enjoy!!

Mimi Lenox said...

Never enough time to read! But soon. Six and a half days and counting....

Charles Gramlich said...

Scott Parker, the other day your's locked up 3 times before it finally took.

G, I do generally print if I want anyone to read it. but I'm a very slow printer. I write by hand in meetings sometimes, or in class if I'm giving the students a test. but I have to transcribe it pretty quickly or I can't read it.

Merisi, I've used our bar as a laptop desk on ocassion, so I could stand up and do some writing. It wasn't perfect. I might look into that standing desk idea. that might be really helpful for my legs.

Travis Cody, you're right about the laptop desk. The other day I wrote for a long period and even with the desk it was becoming uncomfortable. It's been a while since I've read any WWII stuff. I devoured it in college. Thought about being a history major for a while.

Harry Markov, I like that for sure, not HAVING to finish something for a requirement, but able to pick and choose.

Barrie, I'll read more for you!

Mimi Lenox, that's a nice little block of time.

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