My vantage point from my table at the Brooklyn Book Festival.

Weekly wrap up ahoy! Slightly damp edition because buckets of rain have been pouring on New York all day.

1. The Brooklyn Book Festival went well last weekend. The weather was spectacular! I sold a few books and also exercised excellent restraint by not turning around and spending that money on other books! Also, unlike with some other book fairs, I ran into a bunch of people I knew there, since it was local for me. I think if I do it again next year, I’ll take a later shift; when I got there at noon, the crowd was a little thin, but it picked up steadily as the day progressed, and when I left around 3:30, it was packed. I should have known; most self-respecting Brooklynians are still at brunch at noon on a Sunday.

2. Y’all may be happy to learn that I spent a good part of this week revising Show and Tell, which is my novel currently contracted to Loose Id that will be out… next year… some time. (Partly this depends on how soon I get my ass in gear and finish revising.)

3. The Interactive Portion! One of my tasks for this weekend is going to be to design stickers to give out at GayRomLit. I was totally excited for this project until I realized… I don’t know what to put on the stickers.

baseball hatI think some will just be cool design elements for use with an activity I’m doing. For example, I was fooling around on my iPad last night and drew this little baseball hat. So maybe I’ll also play around with my stripe logo and the NYC skyline and other things. But what else? I’ve got 800 1.5″-diameter stickers to play around with. Book covers? Quotes? Should I design a logo? (I feel like my inner teenage girl is coming out with this project. Yay, stickers! Like, I could just slap unicorns and glitter on them, too. Probably that would go down pretty well at GRL, right? Ha.)

4. I’m still reading about the Black Dagger Brotherhood (I’m about 25% into Book 8/John Matthew’s book, and my heart, it is breaking), but I took time out from the vampires to listen to the audiobook of Ellen Kushner’s Swordspoint and really loved it. (The book has a lot going for it: solid world-building, political intrigue, even a gay romance!) I highly recommend it. I should find another novel to listen to. I listen to a fair number of audiobooks, but usually not fiction because I find that my mind wanders when I’m listening and I miss important plot points, but the way this book was done engaged my brain enough for me to pay attention. I did also listen to a couple of the Ty & Zane books a few months ago; I like whoever they got to narrate those, although having sex scenes read to you is VERY WEIRD, especially if, like me, you mostly listen to audio when you are outside walking somewhere.

Anyway, if you like audiobooks, Swordspoint.

5. I’ve been thinking some about the ways we approach reading as readers and writers. I think it really is a matter of being in different modes, of wearing different hats if you will.

I have, I think, 3 modes of reading, some of which inadvertently intersect. I can get totally lost in a book. (I am a Reader then.) I do sometimes look at a book critically, even if I like it, with a writer’s hat on. “This is fabulous. How is the author doing it? What is it about this book that is really working for me? How can I apply what I like about this to my own writing?” Or, alternately, “I don’t like this. What is it that’s not working here? How do I avoid doing this?” I also sometimes read while still in editorial mode, in which case I’m on the lookout for mistakes. That’s a tough part of my brain to turn off, and is also a good way to keep me from really enjoying a book. (Like, I forgot my Kindle at home one day, but I had to go somewhere on the train after work, so I started reading a totally different book on my phone. I’d been editing all day. I opened the book and immediately started nit-picking it. I’m sure it’s actually quite good. I was being so critical I had a hard time getting into it. Stupid brain.)

I wonder if everyone approaches reading this way, or if different job functions require different ways of seeing things. Having to think about reviewing, for example, sucks all the fun out of it for me. I had a job a zillion years ago as a TV feature writer for a now defunct online magazine, and having to view something critically through that lens made me tense; I couldn’t just enjoy a thing because I felt pressure to say clever and insightful things about it. I stopped really reviewing books beyond writing a few stray thoughts on Goodreads because reading something for review feels too much like homework. Now, I LOVE to talk about books, just adding that extra layer of having to do so in an intelligent way on a deadline gives me, like, PTSD flashbacks of pulling all-nighters to finish English papers in college. (So good on you, reviewers; I couldn’t do what you do.)

Not sure where I was going with this, besides that I think how we read is kind of an interesting thing to analyze.