Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Leaps and Pauses

          So I did open up a blank document to dump the remaining rabble of scenes left in Oddball. Last week on the first day, I wrote over 1800 words. And I felt pretty good about that. Considering that I was in somewhat of a writing slump.

           It was kind of nice to actually know how much I had written. When I write on paper sometimes I use regular printing paper with no lines. That way my writing has no limits whatsoever. There are times when I can fill twenty pages with very small handwriting. Heh,  other times, I fill twenty pages with large handwriting. And sometimes I write a sentence minus one word. Yeah. It flexes. But I never know how much I've actually written. So it was kind of nice to know that I can sit down and slap out 1800 words.

           The downside. I didn't write for the rest of the week.

           But I wrote this Monday, and my document grew from 1,885 something words to like 4,335 something words. In one sitting. So maybe I only wrote two scenes (I have some major editing to do later). But I wrote over 2,000 words in one day. I was rather excited.

           Okay, so maybe that's little beans compared to what you write. But for me. . . I never knew I could write that much all at once. And it wasn't like pulling teeth, like it normally is. I could actually see the characters and their antics. Their faces. I could hear their tone of voice, and their thoughts were so clear. It was great. A good day of writing.

           And yesterday, I didn't have a lot of time but I got out about 1100 words. Didn't finish the scene, but. . . Maybe today.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Let's talk about. . .

           Well, I've no idea. Obviously I had been reading a lot. But I think I'm kind of in a book slump now. There are books I need to read. Because they have to go back to the library. There are books I should read before September 22nd (points to anyone who knows what I mean :). And there are books I want to read but I just can't get into them for some reason. Oh, yeah, and time. I don't have a lot of that either.

           So I think, "Well, just take a break from books. Just write. After all, your writing has suffered from the excessive reading. Catch up on that."

           And then I tell myself, "Great idea. Why didn't I think of that?"

           I sit down to write and. . . and. . .

           AND?

           Nothing. I know what needs to happen in the story. But it doesn't want to happen. It doesn't want to come out of my brain and into the pencil and down on the paper. The story doesn't like me right now. It's locked itself away where it won't let me at it.

           It's in a mood. I can understand. I get into those. But if I want to finish this first draft before next March, then the story just needs to get over its mood and come out already!

           I'm thinking about writing the rest on the computer maybe. Usually I like paper and pencil for my first drafts. It's easier for me for some reason. But maybe if I just open up a blank document and give myself to make a giangactimacus mess of it in order to get this story out as fast as possible, maybe it'll work. And for once I'll actually reach my writing goal and finish the first draft of the first book of Oddball. (Why did you have to turn into a trilogy? Do you know how much work that is?) After all, they aren't called 'rough' drafts because they come out all pretty and perfect.

           So what do you want to talk about?

Friday, September 13, 2013

Poe

           Before we get to him though, you must, must jump over to Miss Jack's blog. Even if you don't bother to come back and read about Poe. Go read it. If you're an author or a reader, you'll love it. It's hilarious. :)


           So I've finally read The Purloined Letter by Edgar Allen Poe. I didn't realize it was a short story. But that's good because I've very little time with college and work.

          It was really rather clever. And if I did not remember the end of the Wishbone version I'm sure I would have liked it even better. Dupin is a very interesting character. He's a bit skeptical and grim, and some what tangential at times. I was a little disappointed that it was mostly dialogue and we didn't actually get to see Dupin and his antics with the minister person. Or even leave Dupin's house at all. But it was a short story. Poe does seem to be rather ambiguous sometimes and that makes his writing a little more drawn out than necessary. Now in the beginning I understood, because the Prefect was purposely trying to be ambiguous. But Dupin is always ambiguous, and sometimes even the narrator. Maybe it's because Dupin is a big thinker and he believes he ought to keep things on a broad scale; I don't know. And Dupin does kind of wander when he's talking. Though that is realistic; everyone gets onto bunny trails and digresses a bit. So maybe Poe just wanted it to be more real (or maybe he just doesn't like mathematicians). All the same, the mystery part was nice and clever, and it was good of Dupin to explain the whole psychological process behind it all. There are so many things our brain does voluntarily that Poe actually looks at with a conscious mind.

           I read "The Raven" also. I've heard a theatrical reading of it, and it's meaning escaped it me. I've read it myself and still got nothing. But someone had written the interruption in between the lines. Normally, I would be like: They wrote in a library book! Woe and doom! But this actually helped me understand "The Raven" better, and so I'll excuse them. :) Now that I know the meaning though, I really like the cadence of the poem. It really helps set the dark and lonely mood.

           And A Tell-Tale Heart, that was creepy. I think the main character was schizophrenic or something. And just insisting with such vehemence that he wasn't insane convinced me he was insane. Poe, I'm sure, planned it that way. It works nicely. Must tuck that trick away for later. It could come in handy.

          I also read the shortest poem I've ever seen.


        "Deep in Earth"

Deep in earth my love is lying
       And I must weep alone.

   -Edgar Allen Poe



      To think, a two lined poem! I didn't know those existed. But of course, why not? It's very sad too. The brevity adds to the bitter grimness. And it feels like a complete story- beginning, middle, and end. The character's love has died. A darkness now grows inside him. And he has resolved to remain like this.
        

Thursday, September 12, 2013

9/11

           Yesterday was 9/11 in the US. So we had a bit of a day of silence.

           At the college they also held a moment of silence from, I think, 8:53a- 9:05a. It was very solemn and I was surprised how many students showed up. There was a very reverent air as we all stood around the clock tower (the college's 'home base' in a way). And thought about what happened. The lives that were lost. The people who are still mourning. The people who are still fighting. I thought of the people in the tower and one the planes. What would it be like to suddenly realize you're not going home to your family tonight? Or to be watching the news and realize your spouse or your parent or child was not coming home that night? What would it be like to be one of the fire fighters or rescue crew? To see the broken families looking to you as their last hope to see their loved ones. To search desperately through the rubble to find someone alive and not mere ash. It was really sad. And when someone played Taps off in the distance in the still morning, it was the most sorrowful sound I've ever heard. I had to keep from crying. I am thankful to all who have fought for our freedom and who still are fighting for it.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Peak by Roland Smith

In six words:

The youngest kid on Mount Everest.Or:

Summitting the world or what's important?

          
Okay, so I may have just made up a word to get that last one into six words. But "summitting" should be a word. It may even be common lingo for a climber. . . if I knew any climbers I'd ask.

          Really though, I should probably actually give you descriptions of a book when I review it. I'll give it a shot:

        When Peak gets caught climbing illegally, his never-seemed-to-care-before Dad, comes to bail him out and offers him the chance at every climber's dream: the summit of Mount Everest. But is everything Peak wants found on top of the world?

          
This book is relatively small-looking. I thought I'd finish it in a week. Other things prevented me. The beginning is very intriguing. Now the middle did slow down a bit and almost sent me into a book rut. But I think it only seemed slow because Peak and his fellow climbers have to acclimatize which takes a while. I pressed on through their acclimation and- the climax- the ending! Wow. What an amazing journey!

           I finished it in the car on the way to church. We had a friend in the car with us. She asked me a question, and I answered more irritably than I had meant.

         My mom had to explain, "She's finishing a book." You could hear the eye roll in her voice.

          "Oh," our friend said.

          "They're ten feet from the top of Everest!" I managed not to scream.

          "Huh?"

          "Mount Everest," my mom said. "It's what the book is about."

         I wasn't listening after that. Because they were TEN FEET from the TOP of THE WORLD! (don't judge the all caps; it was a good ending, it deserves the emphasis :)

           Ahem. The characters were loads of fun. Tension every where. Politics. Family problems. Friend problems. Breathing problems. The air's pretty thin up there.

           Sun-jo was a good character. He had noble reasons for being on Everest. He wanted to take care of his family. And he was a great friend. His motorcycle added some comic relief. :)  Always love that.

           Yogi and Yash. The brothers. They weren't major characters. They talked little (probably because they knew very little English). But they were hilarious all the same. You couldn't help love them.

           Josh Woods. Ugh. Let's not go there.

           The Peas, uh, twins. They were adorable! Their enthusiasm was precious. And I loved the sibling bond they had with Peak.

          Holly Angelo. I thought I wouldn't like her. I almost determined to not like her. But she kind of grew on me. Like she did to most people. She appears to be a I-care-about-myself-alone feather head, but that's just the surface. Dig deeper, go through some change, and she was actually a good character. Still in love with pink and flamboyant fashions. But a better, likable person nonetheless. It's amazing what a mountain does to you.

          Zopa! He was great. Infuriating sometimes. Almost all-knowing. But not infallible. He was almost like the guide or mentor guy. But not quite. Because he had his own agenda. Cagey old monk. . .

          Peak was my favorite though. It helped that he was a writer. And then he loved to climb. I've always wanted to climb. But his character. He was very noble in a way. He was smart, but sometimes he didn' catch on as quick as he could. In the same situation though I don't think I would have either. He was very loyal and selfless (think, sidekick loyalty, and everyone loves sidekick loyalty, heh, especially if you're a hero, but that's beside the point). Okay, I'll stop before I give too much away. (He also like parenthesis, so we got one well :)

          What I thought was really cool, was that it felt like a realistic climbing experience. The author seemed to know what he was talking about. The disasters that befell them, the tools they used, the problems that could've happened, the people, everything. It seemed very realistic. I feel I've learned a lot about climbers and the things they face while climbing. And I learned it from a novel! I love that.

           I would boast that it's a YA with a fourteen year old as a protagonist, instead of a sixteen year old. But since part of it involved Peak having to be the youngest person to top Everest, I can't really do that. If that wasn't part of the plot, who knows? Maybe he would've been sixteen?
          

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Burning Bridge by John Flanagan


          I'm not sure if you would consider this a review or just some of my scattered thoughts on the book.
          
I enjoy this series. I like Flangan's twist on the real world countries. His world is loads of fun and always hilarious. Some of the plot is kind of predictable. But the characters are so much fun. It makes for a relaxing book. Except for the climatic, chewing-your-nails-to-nothing parts, yeah, it's a peaceful read.

           Flanagan balances scenes packed with tension very well with scenes packed with humor. It's good mixture.

           Let's just skip to the characters, shall we?

           Gilan. The first book I wasn't particularly impressed. But we didn't see him much either. Now he's one of my favorites. He has a good sense of humor. Unlike some Rangers. He's always willing to give advice to the young apprentice, Ranger or no, and still he takes correction and instruction from others very well. He has a good sense of judgment, even if he does go hollering into deserted villages as if nothing nasty may be awaiting his arrival. Another thing I really like about him is that he's one of the most human of all Flanagan's characters. He seems so real.

           Alyss. I got to know her more in this one. She's very sincere. I like how she's innocent and yet intelligent, not naive. She's very much like Lady Pauline at times, but if pushed to her last resort she will use Halt's good sense. :) Yes, I like Alyss. She has a good balance of respectability, wit, and fun. She's not a rude, annoying girl demanding that people see her reason. But she's not so stiff with formality and rules that she's just plain boring and stuck up.

           And by of way, I admire Lady Pauline. How she can laugh at something so amusing and yet have enough discretion and self control to merely smile and not share the joke at someone's expense (particularly someone of import's expense).

           Erak. The Skandian. I actually like the Skandians as a whole. I mean, for barbarians and pillagers, they're likable lot. They did take Will and Evanlyn prisoner. That's a count against them. But they didn't want to let the Wargals or Morgarath get to them either. They detested the idea of what either would do to the prisoners. Of course, they had their own reasons too, being Vikings and all. But when Morgarath did find them out, Erak put up quite a fight. Those are likable villains. And another reason I like Erak. That first encounter between Erak and Morgarath. Morgarath is used to people fearing him; he wants people to fear him. And yet Erak made jokes to the man's face, refused to be belittled, and could really care less about Morgarath's power play. I love that scene. Tons of tension. It's was fun to see someone could get under Morgarath's skin without getting his head cut off.

           I like Will even more with this second book. I may begin to like him more than Halt. He faced his fears and proved himself an amazing leader. Though I do have to say, as talkative as he is when he's with Halt, when he's away from Halt he does seem to be more like his craftmaster. A little grim, more observant and mysterious, and less chatty. But he's still the same curious, funny Will. He's very brave too. Going back on that bridge. Ack! I was pulling my hair out. I knew they had to make it; there was still half the book left not to mention there's a twelfth and final book coming out in November. But still. . . I don't know if I could do that. I hate fire.

           Ahem, but Halt is still my favorite so far. He was grumpy and grim as ever, but he really isn't that tough at heart. Alyss proved so. And he's a bit reclusive. Even though he doesn't go out of his way to be funny, people's reactions to him and some of his methods. . . Yes, they do find him peculiar, and undiplomatic, at times.

           Now when I read the first book, I really loved the characters. But a part of me didn't see them as very real or human. They didn't have too many faults. Sure they each had a few quirks of their own assigned to them. But they were all the best at what they do, and they never failed. And Halt was the most glamorized of the heroes, and the least 'human.' But in The Burning Bridge, Halt became more real for me. More human. For starters, he's the introvert who was actually lonely (*gasps* Yes, that actually happens to introverts. Ironic, I know). And not that he would admit it, but he missed Will. Even though Halt doesn't exactly appear kid-friendly. . . or people-friendly, he would give anything to protect Will. And in the end he failed to do that very thing. Even though he's the best of the best.

           Remember I said that it seemed a little predictable at times? Well, I was actually wonderfully surprised at times. And part of this was because before the characters didn't see very human, they always seemed to win, escape at just the right moment, etc. Here's some of the things I didn't quite expect. (You may want to read the book before you finish this post)

          -for Will and Evanlyn to be captured. I thought for sure they would get away and the remainder of the book would be their return and the battle. Even when Will was knocked out, I thought that, for a small second, maybe Evanlyn would be a good shot. Yeah, how na├»ve of me.

           -for the Skandians to capture them. Once those hands grabbed Evanlyn, it had to be a Wargal. Then what would they do? But the Skandians? That made their captivity more interesting if you ask me.

           -I was kind of looking for a scene that cut to Halt and Gilan battling Horth and his Skandians.

           -the bagpipes. Not a major plot point, but. . . Yeah, that was interesting.

           -that Morgarath finally did find Will and Evanlyn. I was really expecting them to get away.

          -that Tug didn't go after Will. I thought he would sneak off during the battle and Will and Evanlyn would ride to Araluen's side.

           -that Halt didn't just send an arrow into Morgarath. It was tempting, but Halt has respect for his knight friends.     

           -that Horace accepted Morgarath's challenge? Definitely didn't see that coming.

           -that Horace used the two knife defense. Will was the one learning it; it was part of his training. So naturally I had expected that sometime in the book Will would have to use it. But Horace did. And it was amazing!

           -that Morgarath actually died. I really expected him to violate the rules of chivalry and break from the fight to kill Halt and/or King Duncan. And then he would fail and slink off to his villainous lair in the mountains to fight another day. But he died. The main villain died.

           -that. . . that Halt didn't reach Will and Evanlyn in time, that. . . Will didn't get to escape. . . that he's gone to Skandia. . . over the sea. I really thought Halt would succeed, like he always does. But this did make Halt more real also.

          Now I can't wait to read the next one and see where it leads. :) To Skandia!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

How I Like My Books

           Another TBC linkup!

The Book Chewers                                                                


Prompt: How do you like your eggs . . . er, books? Make a list of your usual reading locations, a list of favorite genres (substitute authors if you wish), and a list of reading snacks. When you're done, try combining items from each list. Which combo sounds best to you, right at this moment? You can take this as far as you like and make multiple combinations for all occasions.


Locations-on my bed
-at the college library
-snuggled under a blanket in a corner of the couch
-on long road trips
-in a good tree
-at the dinner table for really suspenseful books
-lying on my back with my feet propped up on the wall
-sitting in the woods (where no one can see me cry because of Rue)
-by our old wood burning stove (that we no longer have. . .)

Genres/Authors/"genres"
-dystopian
-Steven James
-fantasy!
-mystery
-Sibella Giorello
-the occasional fluff book
-anything suspenseful
-anything hilarious
-a high energy contemporary
-a comical contemporary


Snacks
(um, I don't normally eat, so this is a catch all options category)

-a meal (for the suspenseful books :)
-wearing fingerless gloves
-chocolate milk
-buried in a blanket
-no socks
-hat wearing
-mismatched sock wearing
-cold outdoors, and toasty indoors
-late night readings
-all day readings

Combos-a fantasy in a tree with no socks

-a mystery on a freezing outdoors and toasty by the wood stove day with fingerless gloves

-a comical contemporary with mismatched socks up against the wall

          I'd take a fantasy in the woods just about anytime. Like one of Tolkien's or Flanagan's books. It really puts you in the setting. :)

          But right now I think I'd take:

-an all day and late night reading of anything hilarious/spooky (sorry had to add something) buried in a blanket in a corner of the couch with some chocolate milk

           Go dine with The Book Chewers and join the linkup! How do you like your books?