March ’20 Roundup & Ramblings

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Raw Data:

Books – 12

Pages – 6228

Words – 1753.6K (ie, 1.75 Million words)

Average Rating – 3.75 Stars

 

The Mediocre:

SF Hall of Fame, Vol. 2A – 2 Stars

NPC’S – 3 Stars

 

The Good:

The Great Hunt – 5 Stars

Academ’s Fury – 5 Stars

The Arcane Casebook Series – 4 Star Average!

 

Movie:

Started the 10th Kingdom mini-series by Hallmark and had a blast.

 

Ramblings & Miscellaneous Posts:

I read some real Chunksters this month and as a result my page and word count were pretty impressive. Or I messed up my count. I’m going with “Impressive” 😀

I wrote a lot this month, so I’m just going to bullet point them all, sorry. 

 

Personal:

March was something else, for sure. Work stress, car stress and Wuhan-chan stress.  I ended up stress writing and that gave me a whopping 24 posts this month (including this one I believe). 

Car stuff. We’re a two car family and I’ve known since last year that the car I drive wasn’t going to pass inspection this year. The mechanic barely passed it last year and he told me he wouldn’t do that again. It was rusting out all over the place so I knew I needed a replacement by the first week of April.  I began scanning craigslist (we can’t buy a new car outright and won’t go into debt for one) and eventually found one.  Coordinating schedules was stressful enough, but then my car just outright died about 3 days before we could pick up the new car.  And then dealing with the town offices as they all were preparing to shut down due to Wuhan-chan.  It just made for an incredible amount of stress over something that really shouldn’t have been. 42c

Then of course, right at the end of the month joining the rest of the World in shutting down until May. Thankfully, both Mrs B and I work in “Essential Businesses” but for me, work is now on a day by day basis. A lot of uncertainty swirling around, that is for sure.

Thankfully, the reading was great. The Arcane Casebook series was a delight to read and I looked forward to a new book every week. That was a nice feeling. Highly recommend the series.

 

Book Give-Away:

Doing a Hardcover Michael Crichton book giveaway this month. It is open until April 11 and I’ll contact the winner April 12. Due to the uncertainty of just about everything, I think I’m going to be holding off doing any more Give-Aways until we’re in a more settled place.

 

Cover Love:

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I talked about this cover in my review of Ghost of a Chance, but my goodness, is that cover spiffy looking or what!?!? Best of the bunch in my opinion.

 

Plans for Next Month:

I don’t know if this will be a regular new feature for my Roundups, but I’ve seen other bloggers do them as a separate post and I like the idea. It also works well to help me construct the narrative for the blog for the coming month. I realize most of you are never going to notice something like that, but it helps me as the content creator.

Even though I only wrote a tiny bit more than I did in January,  March just felt like I wrote and wrote and wrote. So I’m going to use April to re-charge. I’ll be doing my book reviews and the next 10th Kingdom movie review, but I suspect that will be about it.

Oh, Mrs B says she’d be interested in showcasing some more artwork so maybe you’ll see some of her drawings on random weekends. I should probably come up with a clever series title for them but nothing immediately springs to mind. Suggestions are welcome.

And with work being so uncertain, I don’t know if I’ll be stuck inside reading, whatever. So I might end up needing to write to vent and blow all of the above right out the window.  Things are changing so fast that planning for an entire month is almost impossible now.

 

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The Wanderlust Book Tag

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The last time I did a tag was back in October, so when Ola and Pio Bushwhacked me and threatened to skin me alive in their Wanderlust Book Tag, I (being the cultured and suave gentleman that I am, known in higher circles as Dr. Lord Bookstooge) acceded to their barbaric demands. Of course, I did draw the line at cannibalism, but every gentleman has a line he won’t cross, even when bushwhacked. So without further ado, lets jump into this hive of scum and villainy!

 

1. SECRETS AND LIES: A BOOK SET IN A SLEEPY SMALL TOWN

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I think that The Legend of Sleepy Hollow fits this perfectly! It even has “sleepy” in the title. I told myself I’d read this every year, as it was just a short story and fits into Halloween so perfectly.  Of course, I haven’t read it since 2014!

 

2. SALT AND SAND: A BOOK WITH A BEACH-SIDE COMMUNITY

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Jane Austen’s Persuasion slots in here nicely.  There is a nice dramatic scene where a young lady gives herself a coma while walking along a wall on the beach and it provides some necessary emotional push for one of the side male characters.  Persuasion has always been my favorite Austen book.

 

3. HERE THERE BE DRAGONS: A BOOK WITH A VOYAGE ON THE HIGH SEAS

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Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the 3rd book in the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. Not only does the entire book take place on the Dawn Treader, but one of the characters, Eustace Scrubb, gets turned into a dragon for quite some time. Good stuff!

 

4. TREAD LIGHTLY: A BOOK SET DOWN A MURKY RIVER OR A JUNGLE

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My first though was The Heart of Darkness, but since Ola and Pio used that, I wanted to be a bit more original.  Lord of the Isles has the characters tramping all over the place, but one memorable scene has them in a jungle where a hard bitten old warrior mage commits an atrocious act of blood sacrifice (of the remaining soldiers, not himself) to save himself and his young protege.

 

5. FROZEN WASTES: A BOOK WITH A FROST BITTEN ATMOSPHERE

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Icerigger by Alan Dean Foster. Even the cover fits this description perfectly! Then the fact that it takes place on Tran-Ky-Ky, a world covered in ice, well that is just “icing” on the cake *ohohohoho*

 

6. THE BOONIES: A BOOK WITH ROUGH OR ISOLATED TERRAIN

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A Wizard of Earthsea starts out on the island of Gont, an island of mountains, cliffs and fog. Young Ged saves his village from Kargish pirates using just those elements.

 

7. HINTERLANDS AND COWBOYS: A BOOK WITH A WESTERN-ESQUE SETTING

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Three by Jay Posey. Starts out So Western with the whole mysterious gunslinger vibe! The rest of the Duskwalker trilogy was fantastic too. I don’t talk too much about this series in general because it seems that Posey has dropped off the radar after starting, but not continuing, a Mil-SF series 😦

 

8. LOOK LIVELY: A BOOK SET ACROSS SWEEPING DESERT SANDS

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Dune by Frank Herbert. The quintessential Desert book if there ever was one. Being a Chosen One myself, I understand Paul Atreides better than most readers do. We have a bond of responsibility and duty that mere mortals simply cannot comprehend.

 

9. WILD AND UNTAMED: A BOOK SET IN THE HEART OF THE WOODS

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The Tower at Stony Wood by Patricia McKillip. I had to get at least ONE McKillip book onto this list and the fact that it has a Kinuko Craft cover just makes it perfect.  I am not a poetic kind of guy, but McKillip’s book bring out the one drop of poetry my soul possesses.

 

10. WILDEST DREAMS: A WHIMSICAL BOOK SHROUDED IN MAGIC

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Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Jones. While I watched the Miyazaki anime film first, I was glad to read this. Anime is better though 😉

 

And that’s a wrap. I like doing these tags as it allows me to show some of the older books that I’ve read/reviewed that some of you might not have seen from me.  Plus, it helps me organize my blog, which really needs all the help it can get! Feel free to do this yourself if you so desire.

 

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Librarything: ♪Free as♪ an Eagle♪

Just wanted to pass the word along. It used to be that you could only have a library of 200 books with a free account and then you had to pay a one time fee to go unlimited. Well, that limit has been removed. Official Announcement.

I’ve been using LT for a while. It’s a back up site for me, just another place to dump my book data. I only belong to one group (that I’ve left and rejoined multiple times) so I can’t speak to the group dynamics. Much smaller than Devilreads, which depending on your needs, can be good or bad.

They are also in the pre-process of getting LT ready for an upgrade. It does have a steep learning curve that I’m hoping the eventual upgrade will smooth out some. I only use the basics and it’s good enough for me.

To My Recent Followers…

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If you’ve started following me in the last year, and you get my posts by email, you might have noticed there are times you get a TON of emails. Short story, I’m working on Phase II of my Blog Construction plan.

Here’s the post I originally wrote in 2018 that goes into more detail than you really ever wanted to know. But it adequately explains what is going on and what to expect:

Bookstooge Under Construction

 

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MTG: Lands Matter – The Ecology of Magic

Magic_card_backIt has been a while since I’ve done a Magic the Gathering Deck List post.  I just looked and my last one was back in April of last year.  So time to haul out the cards and list out a custom built deck.

This is a Lands Matter deck, and while my post title is jokingly subtitled, the mana base for any deck is very important. For this one though, it matters even more.  The point of the deck is to pull shenanigans with lands entering the battlefield and either get Landfall triggers from your cards on the battlefield or amass a large number of lands and burn your opponents to death. I got the general idea from the Commander 2018 precon, which was a disappointment no matter how you sliced it. I’ve also got a secondary “play lands from your graveyard” theme going on as well.

So without further ado, here’s my deck list with some of the more interesting cards in pictures.

 

COMMANDER: 1

Lord Windgrace

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PLANESWALKERS: 8

Nissa Who Shakes the World

Vraska the Unseen

Vraska, Relic Seeker

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Ob Nixilis Reignited

Wrenn & Six

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Ob Nixilis the Hate Twisted

Domri, Anarch of Bolas

Garruk Primal Hunter

 

CREATURES: 22

Archfiend of Ifnir

Jaddi Offshoot

Nesting Dragon

Ob Nixilis, the Fallen

Omnath, Locus of Rage

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Oran-rief Hydra

Rampaging Baloths

Kozilek, Butcher of Truth

Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre

Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger

Titania, Protector of Argoth

Ramunap Excavator

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Gitrog Monster

Multani, Yavimay’s avatar

Mina and Denn, Wildborn

Azusa Lost but Seeking

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Wayward Swordtooth

Ob Nixilis Unshackled

Elvish Piper

Undergrowth Champion

Xenagos, God of Revels

Dryad of the Ilysian Grove

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INSTANTS/SORCERIES/ENCHANTMENTS: 25

Scapeshift

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Fireball

Lavalanche

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Ghitu Fire

Kaervek’s Purge

Clan Defiance

Drain Life

Consume Spirit

Sorin’s Vengeance

Sanguine Bond

Exquisite Blood

Torment of Hailfire

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Worldly Tutor

Diabolic Tutor

Polluted Bonds

Splendid Reclamation

Boundless Realm

Pulse of Murasa

Unbound Flourishing

Treacherous Terrain

Repeated Reverberation

Explosive Vegetation

Red Sun’s Zenith

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Wildwood Rebirth

Violent Ultimatum

 

ARTIFACTS: 6

Crucible of Worlds

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Sol Ring

Arcane Signet

Eternity Vessel

Library of Leng

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Pyromancers Goggles

 

LANDS: 38

Nurturing Peatland

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Reliquary Tower

Terramorphic Expanse

Ash Barrens

Cryptic Cave

Taiga

Badlands

Bayou

Lotus Field

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Swamps x8

Mountains x7

Forests x7

Blood crypt

Verdant Catacombs

Bloodstained Mire

Cabal Stronghold

Overgrown Tomb

Mossfire Valley

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Shadowblood Ridge

 

 

And this my Lands Matter EDH deck.  Hope you enjoyed some of the pictures.

 

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PSA: When is Big, Big Enough?

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I’ve often wondered what is the metric to define what a “Big” blogger is. Is it the number of followers they have? The number of average likes they get on a post? The number of comments they get on a post? The number of social media sites they are active on? Is it the  number of views their blog gets in a month? Is it the number of writers for the blog and the number of posts they write in a month?

Obviously there is no One Size Fits All answer, as everyone seems to define what a “Big Blog” differently.

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Before I go any further, I would like to include this inspirational saying that the Inestimable Inspirobot made just for me.  We can all use a dose of inspiration once in awhile.

 

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Now that you are in the proper frame of mind and just brimming with hope and bright dreams for tomorrow, I’d like to get one thing out of the way. Being a big blog has NOTHING to do with a “state of mind”. You are a big blog or you are not a big blog depending on some numerical criteria and your state of mind and happiness about your blog has nothing to do with it. Wipe that nonsensical thinking from your mind please, you’re only making yourself look foolish. In conjunction with that, you also have to realize that not every blog can be big, should be big or even necessarily wants to be big.

I also have to posit that there is a “big” difference between a Big Blog and a Successful Blog. A Successful Blog is one that meets or exceeds the expectations of the blog creator/content creator. Now, the two ideas can intersect, or even be intertwined, making one dependent on the other and I’m afraid that many people equate being a Big Blog with being a Successful Blog.

As a concrete example, take me and my blog. I am a successful blog. I write posts that fulfill my goal of having a book blog and I also write posts that fill the need I have to write.  I have people who read my posts, like my posts and comment on my posts.  Those are my goals for this blog and I have met those goals. I am satisfied with how my blog operates and the general interaction I get on it.  On the other hand, I do not qualify as a big blog by any of my own self-imposed metrics. So lets move on to the main course since I’ve wandered all over before actually getting here.

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Bookstooge’s Big Blog Metrics:

  1. Should have at least 1000 followers
  2. Should have at least a 10% Like to Follower Ratio
  3. Should have at least a 5% Comment to Follower Ratio
  4. Should post a minimum of 3 times per week
  5. Multiple Content Creators (semi-optional)
  6. Active on at least 3 Social Media sites (optional)

 

The first 3 items are pretty non-negotiable in my mind for what qualifies a big blog.  Item 4 skirts the line depending while 5 and 6 are optional and I wouldn’t consider them if the first 4 items are exceeded.

And that is why defining what a Big Blog is can be so nebulous. I doubt many of you would have chosen the same 6 items for a Big Blog and as you can tell, even my own metrics are pretty squishy.

That is all I have to say. Do any of you ever think about this subject? If so, what is your opinion? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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#6Degrees — Wolfe Island to…

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This month we are starting with the book Wolfe Island by Lucy Treloar. I looked it up AFTER I wrote what follows. NOT EVEN CLOSE, hahahaha! The Devilreads synopsis makes it sound like a piece of trash, even though I know that isn’t what they were going for.

 

wolfeisland (Custom)I imagine that Wolfe Island is a paranormal romance (which is even worse than regular romance in my opinion as it gets as close to bestiality as it can) in which our heroine has been fired from her job as a cop in Big Town X by her sexist boss. Wolfe Island is a small community and she becomes sheriff and meets Hunky Wolfy AND finds out that her ex-Boss is a Warlock. In the end, I would gladly kill them all.  One of my issues with PNR is that the male characters are never real men, but are just assholes with good looks.

 

 

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A book about Real Men, as opposed to just macho testosterone, is The Mark of a Man by Elizabeth Elliot. In it she writes to her nephew about what a Christian Man should be. She uses the example of her dead husband Jim (he was a missionary who was eaten by cannibals). She gets specific about just how Jim exhibited the best and worst of Manhood, all to show her nephew something important. She shows him what a Man should look like from a Woman’s Perspective.

 

 

 

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How to be a Man, from a Man’s Perspective, is what Mark Batterson’s book Play the Man is all about.  Men aren’t just boys that have reached a certain age, boys have to be taught what it means to BE a man. Just like soldiers. You don’t throw a civilian into a combat situation and expect good results. It takes training AND experience.

 

 

 

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A book about a real life soldier getting experience is Joker One. A young LT in Iraq tells of his tour. Not my favorite book but it was good to be reminded just what our boys have gone through for us. With a title like Joker One,  there is really only one direction I can go, right?

 

 

 

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I, Joker is one of the very few Elseworld graphic novels to get 5 stars from me. The role reversal between the Batman and Joker persona worked for me. I doubt it will ever work for me again in another book. It is a very red cover, isn’t it?

 

 

 

 

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The final book in this chain also has a red cover. The Brothers Karamazov. I only gave it 3 stars back when I first read it in ’07. I wonder what I’ll give it the next time I read it?

 

 

 

 

 

And that is how you get from Wolfe Island to The Brothers Karamazov.

 

If you’d like to participate in the #6degrees series of posts, head over to #6Degrees Meme to find out the starting point for each month. They’re not always punctual, so sometimes you have to wait until a week into the month.

 

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Author Interview…

I am NOT interviewing Lex Luthor, author of “Who’s the Superman now? Kneel, Nietzsche!“. After he learned that perhaps I was the one who informed Superman of his whereabouts during our World Book Czar Interview he’s given me the cold shoulder, to put it mildly.

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Lex Luthor’s delusions of grandeur

 

No, I have someone even better; Famous Monkey Reclusive Author, Mr Zip. Best selling author of ‘I, Monkey’, or,  ‘The Jungle and Me: A Tale of Guerrilla Tactics and Survival‘.

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Mr Zip’s Favorite Survival Food: Buckets of Chicken Fingers

Mr Zip turns 35 this month and I was able to convince the eccentric author to answer some questions. He and I go way back and I believe we first met in 1985. It was at one of those wild bachelor parties that I was known to give and Mr Zip just kind of wandered in uninvited, keeping it under wraps as it were. I’m pretty sure we hit it off but those times are a bit hazy for both of us now.

I’d like to thank you all for your well meaning help.  I almost felt bad, but not quite.  Should I ever actually do a jackass interview, I fully plan on committing sepuku afterwards to atone for my grievous error in judgement. *bows*

I did not answer these myself, even though I desperately wanted to 😀

 

Have you ever google-fu’ed yourself and what did you find?

I discovered a colleague of mine used her smartphone to secretively capture my smooth dance moves and posted them without my permission. I was pleasantly surprised with how debonair the YouTube video turned out with my debut! Of course, I had her “retired” after the incident, but I did send flowers to the funeral. I’m not cruel after all!

 

Any inspiration for your book?

I read the book ‘Into the Woods‘ by Bill Bryson and decided if that monkey could make me laugh, I could steal from *cough* I mean sell to everyone ! Come, Banana Bearer, ask me another question!

 

Any daily routines for life or writing?

Monkey-ing around! Enjoying life! Every varied experience adds up to help you write what you know, better. Your hardship getting sick from the bacteria in the water might be the trigger needed to add suspense to an otherwise unremarkable storytelling.

 

What do you want readers to get from your book?

It’s best to go wild in your natural environment. No matter how much you humans appreciate the jungle you need to respect those that survive and thrive there, just like you don’t see me utilizing my guerrilla tactics in this strange concrete jungle of yours!

 

Critical Questions about the book:

A) How did the book make me feel?
Why, sir! I feel great! Because of this book, dollars keep falling like rain!

B) Did you think the book was plot-based or character driven?
Why, me, oh, my! I drove the book all the way and therefore my character is much better than any ole plot!

C) What did you think of the ending?
The ending of my book is just the beginning! And by that I mean, wouldn’t you like to give some more money to find out?

D) Did you have any themes in mind throughout the book?
Nope. Nada. Dare I say, Zip?

 

While doing research, did you come across anything fascinating you’d like to share?

A) Did you know that only 6% of the land on Earth is covered by jungles and rain forests, but half of all species live there?

B) Did you know that your 54 billion domestic chickens in your urban jungle descended from the red jungle fowl?

C) Did you know that the word ‘Jungle’ came from the Sanskrit word which means ‘uncultivated land’? (The land. NOT me. I am Very Cultivated!)

D) Did you know that the natural swing-like ropes are called lianas? (This came from the Latin word ‘ligare’ which means ‘to bind’.)

 

Any prepper tips?

1) Remember: you can always go piranha fishing!

2) Bring Dry Bags to protect your human dried food during river crossings or when rain unexpectedly strikes.

3) Staying hydrated is essential in the rain forest and as a human a 2 or 3 liter hydration backpack will help you.

4) Don’t let your food eat you!

 

Personal questions (not recommended for authors you don’t know)

1) What is your problem?
I don’t have a problem!

2) Are you troubled, sick, or dying?
NOPE.

3) What do you want me to do?
Buy my book!

4) What are your expectations in connecting with me at this time?
Feed me more bananas!

 

Advice for how to survive an apocalypse?

Funny you should ask. Back in 2018 a bunch of distant relatives almost created a hostile takeover of the human city of New Delhi. Humans had to resort to pretending to be langurs to drive my distant relatives away!

Therefore, my sentiment is that once human’s experience an apocalypse, my relatives will enjoy taking over! You certainly are funny thinking I should give tips to take care of more than my personal banana feeder, Bookstooge!

 

If you could invite 3 writers to dinner, who would you choose?

1) Ed Vere, author of ‘Mr. Big‘ which is narrated by a sharp suited spidery monkey.

2) Nick Schon, author of ‘The Monkey with the Bright Blue Bottom

3) Richard Scarry, author of ‘Busytown Stories‘ and the all important Bananas Gorilla.

I’m certain these three schmucks will have a chance of slightly capturing my magnificent glory!

 

Advice for newb authors?

Write. Keep writing. Try to write not less than ten pages every day. Bang on a typewriter if you have to, but some of your words will be useful for the future!

 

Favorite character?

Myself. Need I say more? (obviously Mr Zip doesn’t suffer from low self-esteem)

 

How did you get published and become famous?

My publisher, Arbor House, really knows how to appreciate a good jungle. After being accepted by a publisher, Sell, Sell, Sell! It’s not easy being as fabulous as me!

 

Writing any new books?

Blab-boons‘ The startling truth about my gossipy relatives!

 

Do you appreciate fanfiction? Do you like pineapple pizza?

Yes, you may write as much fan fiction as you want about me; it is all sweet praise in my ears!

I prefer pineapple without the pizza. My relatives always said I was a bit fruity.

 

What are your thoughts about the concrete jungles of America?

In the 35 years I have lived, I have learned that I don’t understand humans, nor the thought process that went into creating your habitat. Who actually decides it’s a great idea to introduce huge monster vehicles that create choking smog? Who decided that “hey, I’m going to take a stick and hit a small rock like thing long distances!”? I shake my head at you! I bite my banana at you! I stick my tongue out at you! I… gratefully accept your money. heeheehee.

 

Thank you Mr Zip for taking time from your busy schedule of chicken finger eating to answer these questions. I’m sure your adoring public will race out and buy your book in record numbers!

You are not welcome!

 

And that is it folks.  After answering the questions, Mr Zip sulked until it was time for him to go to bed. Not even the promise of an extra bucket of chicken fingers lifted his spirits.

 

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Book Give-Away: Michael Crichton Hardcovers

The Rules:

United States only unless you’re willing to pay shipping for out of country. Should that be the case Paypal will be involved and paypal fees’s will be added. So if you’re not living in the US, think real hard about entering. I’ll be paying for shipping in the US, as the bookrate is still pretty cheap these days.

I’m going to try to vary what I’m offering, but most will be of the SF/F variety, from paperbacks to hardcovers. Some manga might be involved in the future. I’ll be putting up pictures each post so you know what you’ll actually be getting. 

If you win a giveaway, you can’t try again for the next 2. Kind of arbitrary, but I really don’t want one person to sweep in and take everything 😀 But when that 3rd one rolls around, enter away! If I get a lot of spammers and non-followers entering, well, they’ll be “dealt with”.

To enter, just shoot me an email at Bookstooge at Gmail with “Book Giveaway – (Insert Book/Series Name)” in the subject line. I’ll be using a random dice selector to determine the winner. I will announce the winner in the next Give-Away post and email them to work out the details. 

These rules are subject to change without notice. And don’t blame me if the police arrest you for winning that “How to Murder Your Boss and Get Away with It” book. You didn’t have to enter.

 

This Month’s Books:

Congrats to Wadleigh for winning last month’s Give-Away.

This month I have 2 volumes comprising 3 books in hardcover by Michael Crichton.

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Jurassic World is an omnibus comprising Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park: Lost World.  Timeline is a standalone.

This Give-Away will be open until April 11th. I will announce the winner and the next Give-Away on April 12th. Enjoy!

 

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How Do YOU Find New Blogs to Follow?

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In 2019 I saw several of the blogs I followed pretty much go into a death spiral. In several cases, Life simply happened and they didn’t have the oomph to keep up with one more hobby. Others faded away for no apparent reason.  For me, once a blog stops posting for a month with no warning, I stop following them.  I also have an optimized number that works for me in regards to how many people I can follow intelligently and not get overwhelmed.  I have to admit, I was hoping that several of the blogs would make a come back but it is March and it hasn’t happened.

I assume that you all have to deal with the same problem of blogs just disappearing over time and that you replenish your supply. How do YOU do that?

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The Eye of Bookstooge Roams to and fro across the Earth

I am NOT looking for ways to entice people to follow me. I have enough followers and feel very comfortable with the numbers I get each month, so I’m not looking to expand my blog’s audience. I could just use another 5-10 people to follow who post several times a month in the SFF area and hopefully mostly about books.  If you have any thoughts, let me know.

“The Churn”, which is what I call the falling off of bloggers, is just getting to me at the moment.

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