Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Big Read Top One Hundred

"The Big Read reckons that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they've printed."

1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Post/pass othe list on your site.
(This can also remind you of some great books to read.)

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen *
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien *
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte *
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling (well, I read the first two books of the series)
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee *
6 The Bible (some, huh?)
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte *
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell *
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens *
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott *
12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller *
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare*
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier*
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien *
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger *
19 The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger *
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot*
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell*
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald *
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens*
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy *
25 The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh *
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky *
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck *
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll *
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame *
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy ***
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens ***
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis ***
34 Emma - Jane Austen ***
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen ***
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis ***
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres*
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden ***
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne ***
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell ***
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown ***
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez ***
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery ***
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood ***
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding ***
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan ***
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel***
52 Dune - Frank Herbert*
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen ***
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens*
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck*
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt*
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold ***
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas*
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie*
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville*
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens ***
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker ***
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett ***
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce*
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath*
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray*
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens ***
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker ***
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro*
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert ***
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte's Web - EB White ***
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ***
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery ***
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams ***
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas*
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare*
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl ***
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Saturday, July 26, 2008

College newspaper meeting

Tuesday, I attended my first staff meeting for the Community College of Denver newspaper. I may or may not be writing for them. I am not sure if my style of writing is geared to theirs. But it is worth a shot, if only to try to improve my resume that currently has large gaps of unemployment on it. Plus, it counts as a writing job.

It will be strange writing for the CCD newspaper while I am busy attending the University of Colorado at Denver. (There is also some doubt, purely on my end, that I can legally do so.) But I know the editor, and they are a little short-handed at the moment, so I am willing to roll up my sleeves and write a few pieces.

Provided that my style matches theirs. Looking around the room, I think that I was the oldest person in the room. Of course, that leads me into what I want to focus on---articles aimed at the non-traditional college student.

I didn't pitch any ideas, or voluteer for any assignments (I don't have a clue where to begin on some of the ideas that were tossed around), or even admited that I had any ideas. I do have some ideas, but it is easier for me to just write them and submit them as my writing sample.

The editor laughed that she didn't need a writing sample from me; after all, I got an A in the literature class that I took with her, and the teacher is a real stickler for grammar, proving your statements, and having a voice.

So that is the big news of the week; I might be freelancing for one of the college newspapers.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

I am a CU student

It is official that I am going to be attending the University of Colorado at Denver this fall semester. My aid information was finally posted yesterday, and I have enrolled in classes.

So I am going to taking Foundations of Physics, which I need to take (and back-transfer to the Community College of Denver) for my Associate degree (the very last class I need for that piece of paper). The rest of the classes I am taking are for my Bachelor degree.

Towards my core CU requirements, I am taking Economics of Race and Gender, to satisfy the cultural diversity requirement. Both the base literature and history classes I need to take were all filled up, so I will have to take them next semester (in fact, every class I looked at yesterday was either all filled up or on the verge of being so).

To fill out the rest of my schedule, I decided to take one literature class (Literature of the City) and one history class (Greece and the Hellenistic World). That way I am working both on my major (Literature) and my minor (History---though I might decide to go with a double major after talking to my advisors).

It feels strange to be getting ready to go to CU; after all, I am surprised that I even got in. There is a part of me that wonders if I have not bit off more than I can chew. I guess that only time will tell at this point.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Cooking the books

Yesterday, I was talking to one of my artist friends who does pottery. And she started talking about how she needed to call up her tax advisor (tax preparer) and ask them some questions. It turns out that because of her new job, she is going to have less time to do pottery this year. So she is considering just cutting back and just making enough pottery to keep her two regular customers (both metaphysical [new age] shops) happy. No more craft shows, no looking for new customers, etc., basically going from a business to just a hobby.

Now, I understand doing that. It is a shame, but I do understand how one's day-job can overwhelm oneself, forcing one's own business to the backburner.

What I don't understand is something that she allowed her tax preparer to do. Turns out that she has been taking every deduction possible, and has not made a profit ever in the seven years that she been running the business, have never made enourgh to pay self-employment taxes, and the IRS might turn out declaring her business a hobby. And why has she allowed her tax preparer to claim every deduction? Because she is always hoping for a refund.

Can anyone say back taxes?

I foresee nothing but trouble here for her. The IRS is a wild beast when it smells the possibility of prying money out of someone's hands.

And this is why I have kept my writing as a hobby for so long. Over the last couple of years, I have claimed the income, but not the expenses; not that it made any difference, I haven't made enourgh to owe taxes even without taking any deductions.

Last year was the first year that I claimed my writing as a business. Why? Because of a couple of things. One, it looks like it is going to be my sole source of income for several more years. Two, the college wants to know why I have no income. And three, even at the end of December, I knew that I was going to have income this year, and there was a good chance that it was going to be more income than last year.

But unlike my pottery friend, I don't have enough income on the table to need a refund (paid no taxes), so I cooked the books. Slightly. I actually did not take all the deductions that I could have. Why? It allowed me to claim a profit which is the IRS line that determines if you are involved in a hobby or a business.

And it is not against the law not to use all your deductions. Otherwise, a whole bunch of writers would be in jail because it is something that most writers do at the beginning of their writing career. Make a hundred dollars and only claim ninety-nine dollars of your expenses out of the hundreds of dollars you spent on supplies and research; it looks like a profit and the IRS doesn't care.

And it is either show a profit occasionally or admit that it is actually a hobby.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Toxic writing friends

One of the hazards of being a writer, especially one that is trying to make a living at writing, is having toxic writing friends.

Toxic writing friends are those people, who after you deal with them, cause you to come down with a bout of writer's block. It can be as little as ten minutes in some cases; and whammo, you can't write for days or weeks. Their opinions poison the well of your creativity.

I have a few of these friends. One of my oldest friends falls in this category. My sister also falls in this catergory. And I am quite sure if my mother was still talking to me that she would be the worst of the lot.

It is not that they mean to be toxic. (Ok, I lied; I am positive that my mother means to derail others; she has self-esteem issues.) It is simply that they open their mouths; and for days afterwards, you wonder if you are not wasting your time at the keyboard. Their voice, and opinions, are louder than your muse's.

Like my friend, he does not mean to be a wet blanket. It is just that he is in a really bad spot economically, plus he has a toxic family, therefore he is busy looking for the big score; my stragety of playing the long game at Helium and Associated Content is a big waste of time as far as he is concerned.

I understand his viewpoint. If I was looking for the big score, they would look like losers too. But I am taking a rather long view of things. I guess that it is the result of running a restrauant for so long; the profit there came in a nickel at a time; a lot of gyros had to be sold just to break even; but if you sold enough, behold profit.

The reason that my toxic writing friends are on my mind is that I spent a couple of hours with one of my sisters the other day. For some reason, I find other writers (she is a technical writer at the moment) to be very toxic. Especially, when they tell you not to give up your day-job.

Hey people, I would love to have a day-job. Remember: I am unemployed. For me, being a writer is not an option that I embraced willingly. It was something that I was saving for my fantasy life. It was not something that I thought I would actually have to figure out a way to make it work.

But seriously, who in their right mind is going to hire me with my school schedule? As I said, I would love to have a day-job. I don't.

So given the fact that I need to keep writing, I decided not to bring up my writing efforts while she was visiting. It didn't work. College came up instead, and how what she studied in college is not what she is currently doing. Nor any of her friends for that matter. She also hinted that maybe transferring to the University of Colorado is perhaps not right for me. There was also the fact that her husband is still paying for his education.

All this brought up the question: Am I doing the right thing?

I wallowed in that for a few hours yesterday, then brushed myself off and went to work on the lodge's website for a few hours. I am not completely recovered, but I am getting better.

And that is the thing: If you have toxic writing friends, you have to come up with ways to cope with it. Like I made sure to have something written in long-hand before my sister visited, something that I have to type up. Typing up stuff helps me get back into writing. Anything that helps you overcome writer's block will probably help you recover from your toxic writing friends.

Now, you have to pardon me, I have to go write something in long-hand, I got to visit one of my oldest friends next week, and he is a toxic writing friend.