Friday, August 27, 2010

The Prydain Chronicles

I finished reading The High King by Lloyd Alexander last night.  I loved every book.  Mr. Alexander (1924-2007) was great at sensationalism.  Every succeeeding book is bigger and badder than the one preceding it.

The Companions & Other Main Characters:
Taran of Caer Dallben- Assistant Pig-Keeper to Lord Dallben
Dallben - Old enchanter, primarily raised Taran
Coll - warrior-turned-farmer, primarily raised Taran
Eilonwy - sharp-tongued Princess, Taran's love interest in the later books
Fflewddur Fflam - King-turned-bard.  Whenever he colors the truth, a string on his harp breaks
Gurgi - creature that befriends and serves Taran, obsessed with food
Gwydion Prince of Don - The best leader of all Prydain, Taran's hero
Arawn Death-Lord - the main villian in the books
King Math Son of Mathonwy - High King of Prydain

The Book of Three kicks off the series with Taran getting a new title:  Assistant Pig-Keeper.  But it's no ordinary pig he's responsible for.  This pig, Hen Wen, is the only oracular pig in all of Prydain.  When Hen Wen gets loose, Taran must find her.  Instead, he finds his hero, a king-turned-bard, and several other colorful persons.  He finds there's a lot more to being a hero than just glory as they face Arawn Death-Lord's lackey, the Horned King.

In The Black Cauldron, we rejoin our hero Taran Assistant Pig-Keeper and his friends.  Gwydion Prince of Don has called a council and announces he wishes to destroy the Black Cauldron, where Arawn Death-Lord creates Cauldron-Born, deathless warriors.  Deathless, as in, they can't be killed.  They can't destroy what's there, but they can prevent more from being born.

The back synopsis of The Castle of Llyr threw me off a little.  It led me to believe this book was more about Taran's love interest, the sharp-tongued Princess Eilonwy.  Taran is still our main character, however.  Eilonwy is being forced to leave home and learn how to be a proper lady.  She's already a Princess, why does she need to be a proper lady?  Everything goes awry when she's kidnapped and the Companions must find her.

Taran Wanderer was my personal favorite of the series.  Taran longs to know who his parents were and sets off for answers.  He has hopes of being of noble blood so he can propose to Eilonwy.  It has the feel of an old fairy tale to it with someone searching for something.  It's a coming-of-age story.  Taran's no longer seen as a pig boy and more as a man.
Taran returns home to find all of his old friends waiting for him--save Prince Gwydion and Fflewddur Fflam.  They arrive shortly after with Prince Gwydion wounded.  The great sword Dyrnwyn has been stolen by Arawn Death-Lord.  The Companions rally the armies of Prydain and face Arawn one last time.  It's a wonderful conclusion.

I'm familiar with The Mabinogion, so I was surprised to see Arawn as the villian, but it's a masterful epic and if you were like me and didn't read it when you were a child, well, it's not too late to read it.  The books are still in print and easy to find.

If you were like me, you may want to know before hand whether or not Taran gets Eilonwy in the end.  Well, you've seen the highlight-the-spoiler trick haven't you?  Highlight after the colon:    Yes, he does.!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Vaccine

My First Day of College
August 24, 2010
J. C. Verdin

Today I began college.

Didn't it just seem like yesterday that I was in middle school either trying to figure out who I was, or reading Eragon, or trying to write about these characters that for some odd reason wouldn't leave me alone?

It feels just like yesterday.

I have College Algebra first hour-and-a-half. I did most of my homework for it already, but there's two problems that I just can't seem to figure out.

I'm majoring in English. I hate Algebra. I understand basic math. I use it every day to get that ever-elusive high word count. I understand geometry, even enjoyed the class. Algebra?


Fortunately, I have a promising teacher. She said she understood a concept when she knew what it was for. She had my ear.

Next, I found myself in General Psychology. The teacher is a little eccentric, but my mom and sister just adore her. She seemed really likable. My mom told me that this teacher can explain to me why I am the way I am. She meant why I'm crazy.

After that, I had World Civilizations, which is in the same room. Basic history class. I'm looking forward to it. I've always loved history.

Well, after that, it was my lunch break. My mother forgot me and went to G-port. We live about 45 minutes-1 hour away from G-port. Luckily, one of her friends who happens to work at the college saw me and offered me a ride home. I don't have a house key so I had to break into my own house. (Don't worry, I didn't break anything.) And then I opened the door for my mom's friend. We were eating lunch at my house when my mom and sister came home. That friend of my mom's also took me back to the college.

And here we come to my major and favorite subject: English Composition I. Well, guess what? I'll be in essay central. Essays aren't my favorite thing to write--unless these VPs count--but it's still writing.

We have to write essays and then he's going to tell us what went wrong. Sound familiar? We have to walk out of that class writing better. I'm taking a Break into Print course through Long Ridge Writers' Group, based out of Connecticut. I send in my assignment into my instructor and he tells me what's right and what's wrong.

In English today, we had to write a paragraph about why we were in college. I was honest. I put that a college education was my fall back in case being a writer didn't pay well--if at all. I put that if my career didn't take off, I would become a middle school teacher. That's what I put.

Yeah, yeah, middle schoolers are all drama. I've been there recently. I wasn't all that dramatic. I had one unrequited crush and the guy found out. Biggest crisis of my middle school years, and that had been in 6th grade. In 7th, I discovered reading. Real guys lost appeal and I just wanted Maximillian Wells to jump out of The Wedding Bargain and be my hero. I was totally jealous--still totally jealous--of Pandora. (Disclaimer: I don't know if I read The Wedding Bargain in 7th or 8th grade. But I fell in love with fictional heroes.) In 8th grade, writing claimed my heart. But y'all should know that story by now.

My English professor told us that writing is an essential part of life.

Yup, I can hear the, "Oh, you must've been excited!"

It's like the vaccine you must take before you can enter school, he went on.

Writing is an essential part of my life. Writing, correct grammar, and speech are essential and, if learned well, will make people take you more seriously. My grammar isn't perfect, neither is my writing, but even I can appreciate a well-written sentence. Which is funny, because I'm the worst for fragments. But I try to make it sound/read good.

All of college is a vaccine. How many people would go if they didn't need it? Plenty of people didn't go to a college back in the day. Look at how well our ancestors did without being well-rounded and educated. But we won't go there. As a young woman, I will not discount the value of an education I couldn't have gotten a century ago. Although, I won't say that all advancement is good either. Indoor plumbing is the one technology I can't live without, but everything else...well, I'd miss it, but not if I didn't have it to begin with.

Here's to my newest adventure! Getting more education and trying to survive College Algebra! Let the shots continue!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Happiest Day of My Life

I write poetry from time to time.  I usually write in couplets or some other common rhyme scheme.  I don't do free-style very well.

I got a MERIT BADGE on Writing.Com.  I never expected to get one for my poetry.  Never ever ever.  But I did.  I feel high.  I don't know what being high feels like, but I feel high.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Dear George Clooney: Please Marry My Mom by Susan Nielson

I loved this book.
Violet Gustafson is fed up with her mother's loser boyfriends. She and her best friend, Phoebe, choose the perfect man: George Clooney.

They write him letters that his office returns. They spy on her mom's current loser, Dudley Wiener. He has some terrible secret that they're trying to figure out.
Violet also lashes out against her little half-sisters, steals a golf cart and crashes it into George Clooney's car.

Everyone finds happiness in the end, and it's a fun ride getting there.
I really saw myself in this book.  Violet was a lot like I was in 7th grade.  It was almost creepy.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


I finished editing. I went from 75 pages to 73, over 20,000 words to 19,500-something. I deleted two scenes. This novel-writing stuff is hard! I hit a block and I don't know where to go. Oh well, at least there aren't any inconsistencies.

I had the edited pages stacked while I was fixing it in the computer. Once I finished with a page, I tossed it on my floor. My nephew, who should be asleep right now, came in halfway through and started playing with all the papers scattering my floor. It kind of looks like the bottom lining of a hamster cage. He's not helping. As long as he doesn't trash anything else.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Some More Writing Comments

Last night, I printed out 75 pages of the unfinished novel I'm working on.  I re-read over it once, noticing all what was wrong with and enjoying the parts that were good.  Now, I'm reading it over again, this time with a pen in hand.

It can be incredibly depressing, some of the things I've written that I know aren't good.  And then there are the few good parts in there that remind me why I write anyway.  There is always something good.

I've been told I have talent.  Talent without discipline is very bad.  I lack a considerable amount of discipline.  I tend to write what I wish, with an attempted plot or angles, and however it comes out, it comes out.

Also, when I do try to plan, I never follow it.  That's lack of discipline at its worst.

Writing isn't something to be entered into lightly.  But it is something that there are plenty of different approaches.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


I went to Orientation yesterday. I sat by myself. The college's auditorium was only about a third of the way full. I saw a lot of people I knew from 1st-10th grade. One guy I had Excel (Excel is what we have instead of Gifted. It's like Special Ed for Smart People (SESP) with from 2nd-6th grade told me hi and bye. A few other snatches of conversation here and there but for the most part I didn't talk much.

It doesn't give me any confidence that classes will be any better.When it was time for me to pick my classes, we were hearded into a room with sheets of available classes.

A coach (I'm certain he was anyway), he was no help at alltold me just to put down the recommended classes. I was already working on that.Then, one of the English professors started to help the girl sitting next to me. Once they were done, I asked for his help. He did my schedule for me. After my schedule was done and we were on our way to the computer lab to punch the codes in online, I kept thinking, God sent me an angel. I could have never pulled it off on my own.

I'm now looking at 15 hours of class a week and going in only two days. Yeah, it sounds rough, but I'm used to being at school from 8-3. It's natural. And I get three days off a week, five if you count the weekends.

I can't believe I'm starting college in a few days. Week after next, to be exact. I'm somewhere between excited and scared. Oh well, I survived public and private school. And orientation.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The First

August is here! This month is gonna be a busy one for me. My little brother begins Kindergarten on Thursday, and I'm so excited for him. I 'm also excited for myself, because I'll be starting my first year of college. And yes, I'm well aware of how that sounds. My little brother and I are exactly thirteen years apart. We share a birthhday. And, despite the large gap in age, we fight A LOT. Not so much at home, but in public when Vin [my brother] is misbehaving and I'm trying to keep up with him while my mother shops.

In the month of July, I managed 10,558 words for one novel and 1,581 words for another. Let's see how well I do at the end of this month.

The farm has been expanding and decreasing all summer. My rabbit, Prince, was slaughtered yesterday. He was sick and my mother wanted to save his meat. I was upset. I even cried a little, which I haven't done in years.

I wish with every bunny born on our farm, a new plot would pop up. The plot bunnies are multiplying, right? Yeah, it doesn't work with REAL bunnies. Though they're cute and cuddly. If I was good with description, I probably would describe them. Good way to hone the talent, I guess.

Here's to a new month.