Recommended reading

Now, pulled from the pile of recently devoured fiction, comes my first recommended reading list of the year!
I read a lot, probably far too much (if my gradeschool English teachers are to be believed). Since I've been working at a bookstore, in particular, the temptation to read is pretty constant-- and the little intermediary cracks of time during work do present themselves so seductively.
Here are just a few titles that I consider the best of what I've read in the past couple of months, accompanied by a very brief synopsis that will hopefully prove both sufficient and intriguing. Enjoy, good reader, enjoy.

Illustration: 'DolPhinnaeus'. Ink on Bristol. 


A solid wall

Sometimes, it's just so much easier to write to an audience. Even if it's just a theoretical audience, as on a blog like this.
I've been working on trying to knock out a decent word count every day. This is hard. Very hard. I second guess myself constantly. I have little training as a writer, and I fear I'm doing everything incorrectly, missing some mystical rule of grammar or pacing that I need classes, workshops, or other writers in order to learn.
I know that in order to succeed as a writer, I need to write a great deal. Finish many, many stories and send them away to many, many places to even have a slim hope for acceptance.
Often, it's easier to just ignore this need to work on writing, and just draw. Obviously, this is important too. I'm far from perfect as an illustrator, and I need to work hard and build up my portfolio. But I know when I'm using it to hide from my writing as well.
I have quite a few finished illustrations, but almost no finished, polished, ready to send stories. I know that I need to take the advice of Cory Doctorow (et al.) and just set aside a concrete period of time each day during which to do it. Every day. Without fail. Or, if failing, at least set a word count to achieve before allowing myself sleep.
Why am I having so much difficulty doing either?

I keep telling myself that a different setting will help. And maybe it will.  I think wistfully if the days when I was fully unemployed (and still got nothing done during the day). I don't think anything will help more than just sitting down and forcing myself to get to it, but I balk. I know fewer of the rules of writing. I fear rejection in writing more, because I've yet to find any sort of acceptance in it. Will it be easier once I do? Or will I worry about having produced a fluke, something I'll never live up to again?
I think of joining a writer's group, but then balk. I'm never the most social of people anyway, and the thought of reading my work for the sake of critique in a group is intimidating. Also, I've been unsuccessful in finding local writer's groups that cater to my perticular interests and are also still accepting members.
I think about sharing my work online, but then I worry too much about the possibility of theft and plagiarism.
And thus I've written yet another blog entry about having difficulty making work, and without actually posting anything of artist substance or interest.