Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Table Talk!

I promise I won't change the blog up again...until I get tired of it.  Or think of something else more clever/cute.

So, in celebration of the blog's new name, the following subjects are NOT part of polite conversation:

bodily functions/the body in general.  <--Broken this one for this blog plenty of times--just broke it in my last post.

religion <--Talk about it A LOT here, my followers know my stand on it.

sex <--mentioned it in passing

politics <--mentioned it in passing...I think it's safe to say my readers know where I stand on the political side of things.

None of these things are supposed to be talked about in mixed company.  But guess what causes the most laughs in movies, sitcoms, and books.  You guessed it.  All of the above.  Farting, making fun of any given religion, sex, and making fun of the blood-sucking creatures* that run our country are what garners the most laughs.  And that's all low to high comedy.

*politics - poli means many, tics  are blood-sucking creatures.  Which of course, isn't the real origin of the word, but it still fits.


Monday, June 27, 2011

Buuurn

After the work was done on the farm today, Mom decided she wanted to take us to the beach.  So, My mom, sister, brother, my two nephews, my step-nephew (or soon to be anyway) and I all piled into the truck and set off for Biloxi.  Vin, Cole, and I all rode in the bed of the truck going there.


We were only there for two or three hours.  I'm sunburnt.  I was wearing a tank top with very mobile straps and neckline--you know, the kind that can't stay in one place.  So, instead of a tan line--or burn line rather, I got a fade-area, where it's not as badly burned but not untouched by the sun either.


Now where's that Aloe Vera...


Luckily--or perhaps not, most of my shirts will cover the worst of what's on my shoulders and arms.  My face is red too though, except where my glasses were.  I don't mind having a red tint to my cheeks, but my nose reminds me of Rudolph.


On the way home, we stopped for Krispy Kremes and once we got home, we ordered pizza.  Mom and my sister got taco, the boys and I had cheese and pepperoni, and we all had some cheese sticks.  Yummy.


Yay for junk food.


Now where's that Aloe Vera...my back hurts.  :(

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Look it Up: Researching for Fantasy

I've spent quite a bit of time on Google today:


Q:  Can falling down the stairs kill you?
A:  It depends on how you land, how many stairs, etc.


Q:  Are bruises from life still going to be there after the person has died granted they hadn't healed yet?
A:  Um, I think so?  That was one where I didn't get a lot of good answers.  I guess if a person had gotten beaten to death, the bruises and cuts (or whatever) would still be visible.


Q:  What were the hilts of swords made from?
A:  The grip was made out of, according to Wikipedia, wood or metal, but with something covering it, like sharkskin.  Interesting.


Q:  How long ago was it discovered that people have iron in their blood?
A:  still working on it.


I'm not so original as to my faeries having a weakness other than iron.  Quite frankly, iron works for me as a good weakness.  Except perhaps, the iron doesn't have to be pure.  Steel works good.  Ditto with silver for werewolves and other creatures of the night.


Ironically, silver and iron don't make an alloy.  Drat.  It'd be like the Super Weapon.


I bet my MC could figure something out...  I guess that's a plus to writing fantasy.  I could make up a Super Metal.


But that's neither here nor there.



Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Where Did *That* Come From?

Do other writers worry about running out of ideas or is it just me?


I used to have that problem.  I couldn't see past writing anything other than my Naren-Kamra-Medieval Fantasy-Dreer story.  And then the other books that were in the contemporary genre.


But what about after that?


"Everybody has at least one book in them." -Unknown


At least one?  And notice it doesn't say that the book is good.  And what if I'm one of those people with only one book in them?  Worse, what if that one book isn't good?  Or even passable.


I really used to have this problem.


Our county library is having a summer reading program.  Mom and I took Vin today.  While Mom and Vin were in the children's room, I was in the main part of the library browsing books.


I dropped a book or three accidentally.  Nothing fell out and I obviously didn't fall into one--which probably isn't possible.


The magic in a room full of books--other than my bedroom or living room--is very potent.  Some of my best ideas I got wool-gathering in a library.  Well, the ideas that I remember anyway.


Today was one of those days when a story idea popped into my head and I chided myself.  Ideas are everywhere and nowhere.  Probably the best and worst things about them, disrespectively.


So, I don't think I'll run out of ideas.


But good ideas are very limited.


Off-Topic/Should Really Be Another Post But Oh Well:


While I was in the library, I started reading All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindgarten.


Also, some other book titles that I thought were a little funny were You Are What You Write (handwriting), How to Read a Book (um...how can you tell me to read a book when I'm reading this book fine on my own?  The book was actually on how to read/analyze), Developing Your Personality (isn't that kind of a given, though?), and The Bedside Guide to Dreams.


The library had first editions of Lloyd Alexander's PRYDAIN Chronicles.  So cool.  I checked out The Truthful Harp.  It's a storybook.  But it's about Fflewddur Fflam and the harp that Taliesin gave him.


Yes, let's go back to Prydain.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Fairest of Them All



I read two Snow White-fairy-tale-esque things back-to-back.  The Sleeping Beauty (Book 5 of the Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms) by Mercedes Lackey and  Fairest by Gail Carson Levine.  I finished The Sleeping Beauty yesterday and started Fairest right after.  I finished it a little after 11 o'clock last night.


Yeah, I thought The Sleeping Beauty would be about Sleeping Beauty too.  But her name was Rosamund.  Briar-Rose.  Do you get the connection?


Synopsis of The Sleeping Beauty:  

The Sleeping Beauty
Heavy is the head—and the eyelids—of the princess who wears the crown…


In Rosamund's realm, happiness hinges on a few simple beliefs:  For every princess there's a prince.  The king has ultimate power.  Stepmothers should never be trusted.  And bad things come to those who break with Tradition….

But when Rosa is pursued by a murderous huntsman and then captured by dwarves, her beliefs go up in smoke. Determined to escape and save her kingdom from imminent invasion, she agrees to become the guinea pig in one of her stepmother's risky incantations—thus falling into a deep, deep sleep.

When awakened by a touchy-feely stranger, Rosa must choose between Tradition and her future…between a host of eligible princes and a handsome, fair-haired outsider. And learn the difference between being a princess and ruling as a queen.


Brief explanation:  "The Tradition" is a formless, all-seeing force.  When someone's life begins to resemble a certain fairy tale, The Tradition pushes magic towards that person and tries to push him or her on that particular path.  The job of the Fairy Godmothers is to either re-direct The Tradition or help it along.


Personally, I liked it.  I didn't like it as much as the other books in the Five Hundred Kingdoms, but I enjoyed it.  Some books I can about predict what's going to happen.  This one, well, some of it was obvious.  Other things were a little more difficult to get.  Luckily, the people in this book are probably smarter than I am and they explained to the duller characters--thus explaining it to the readers.


And for the one that's more like the fairy tale:


FairestFairest Synopsis:  I was born singing. Most babies cry. I sang an aria. Or so I believe. I have no one to tell me the truth of it. I was abandoned when I was a month old, left at the Featherbed Inn in the Ayorthaian villiage of Amonta. It was January 12th of the year of Thunder Songs. 

The Fairy Lucinda [yes, the same one from Ella Enchanted] has once again given a dreadful gift. This time it's a mysterious magical mirror. The gift is disastrous when it falls into the hands of Aza, who never looks in a mirror if she can help it. In the Kingdom of Ayortha, Aza is most definitely not the fairest of them all. Many spurn her. Many scoff at her. She keeps out of sight. 

But in the land of singers, Aza has her own gift, one she's come by without fairy intervention: a voice that can do almost anything, a voice that captivates all who hear it. In Ontio Castle, merry Prince Ijori is drawn to it, and vain Queen Ivi wants to use it for her own ends. Queen Ivi would do anything to remain the fairest in the land. 

The synopsis doesn't exactly say this, but the back of the book does.  Aza can throw her voice so it sounds like it's coming from somewhere else.  A statue, another person...


Thoughts:  There's a bit of a subliminal message to this book.  Whether or not Levine intended it, I really don't care.


How does a fourteen to sixteen year old girl (that's how much time elapses in this book) live in a world obsessed with beauty?  Sure, she can sing, but it's not enough.  She's not pretty.


Sound familiar?


Now that I'm so far ahead with my reading challenge (5 books), I should probably get through The Name of the Wind.  I got 5 weeks before I'd be considered falling behind.  All those children's books add up after a while.

Monday, June 20, 2011

It's Just Stuff

Lately, I've been trying to declutter stuff.  I got rid of a garbage bag's worth of clothes, a wall-thingiemajig that was in my under the bed box and not on my wall, and some other stuff.

There are some things I'll probably never get rid of that belong in the stuffed variety.  They stay in the bag with my spare bedding stays.  A pig pillow "Piggy" that was a Christmas gift when I first moved to Mississippi, the Diabetic Dog (D.D.) that my cousin gave me.  My cousin's diabetic and the dog stayed with her in the hospital.  (On second thought, maybe she just didn't know what to get me that year...) And a koala bear* that I have baby pictures with.

My other important momento that isn't stuffed is this pink and white plastic rocking chair my nanny** gave me as a baby.  Again, I have baby pictures with this thing.

So, those things I probably won't get rid of.  Seeing as how I don't have (or want) kids and I only have godsons myself, I don't know when I'll give those to another girl, unless I miraculously get a goddaughter.

And Piggy scares the boys...  :-/

But other stuff?  Wall hangings?  Gone.  My frogs playing poker and one of them's cheating?  Gone.  My first dragon figurine with a broken wing, two broken legs and just plain old?  I finally threw it away.  Poor thing.

My Crusader that everyone asked if he was my Knight-in-Shining-Armor? (Which, by the way, is not as funny as it sounds.)

Well, I gave him and a stuffed-dragon to Vin.

Some stuff is just stuff.  It's taking up unnecessary room.  I need that room for books, you know.  Which, I'm going to go through those too.

That will be a little more difficult, but maybe not as difficult as getting rid of my koala.

*I didn't have a teddy bear until after I moved to MS.  Before then, I just had my koala.  The first five years of life are supposed to be the most crucial.  Having a koala bear may have contributed to my weirdness.  Think about it.  Normalcy in children revolves around having a teddy bear, I'm sure.

**Not nanny like Fran Fine.  Where we're from in LA, nannies are like godmothers.  A paran is the masculine equivalent (don't pronounce the 'n' in paran).

Friday, June 17, 2011

Goodnight Tweetheart

EDIT:  This isn't technically a romance book, now that I know.  Still:


True to romance-book style, when you open Goodnight Tweetheart, the first page is a little snippet from the book (usually right before the first steamy scene between the hero and heroine):


MarkBaynard:  R u a Twitter virgin?


Abby_Donovan:  This is my first time.  But you're not being very gentle with me.


MarkBaynard:  What can I say?  I like it rough.  So how did you end up here?  Attention span too short for Facebook?


Abby_Donovan:  I didn't like the answers to those silly Facebook quizzes.  They kept telling me I was the love child of Marge Simpson and Marilyn Manson.


MarkBaynard:  Maybe you're just secretly one of those people who would rather have Followers rather than Friends.


Abby_Donovan:  Yes, it's part of my diabolical plot to achieve world domination...So how is Twitter different from Facebook?


Mark Baynard:  Twitter is the perpetual cocktail party where everyone is talking at once but nobody is saying anything.


Abby_Donovan:  Then why are YOU here?


MarkBaynard:  Because no one will invite me to their cocktail parties.


This book really got me thinking, which is weird because it's a romance book.  I don't read them because I want some grand truth about the world I didn't know before.  I read them because they're funny (or the ones I choose usually are), I love a good love story (because reading romance is the same as watching a chick-flick), and because they don't require much thought, attention, or anything else.  It's pure escapism.


Goodnight TweetheartGoodreads Synopsis:
Abigail Donovan has a lot of stuff she should be doing. Namely writing her next novel. A bestselling author who is still recovering from a near Pulitzer Prize win and the heady success that follows Oprah’s stamp of approval, she is stuck at Chapter Five and losing confidence daily. But when her publicist signs her up for a Twitter account, she’s intrigued. What’s all the fuss?


Taken under the wing of one of her Twitter followers, “MarkBaynard"—a quick witted, quick-typing professor on sabbatical—Abby finds it easy to put words out into the world 140 characters at a time. And once she gets a handle on tweets, retweets, direct messages, hashtags, and trends, she starts to feel unblocked in writing and in life. After all, why should she be spending hours in her apartment staring at her TweetDeck and fretting about her stalled career when Mark is out there traveling the world and living?

Or is he?

I'm going to give away the ending, so if you don't want the book ruined (but honestly, how many people go out and buy books recommended via somebody else's blog?  The fact I got Five Flavors of Dumb for just that reason notwithstanding.  It's been the only one so far, but I digress), I suggest you not read this beyond this point.


For those of you still tuned it, halfway through the book, you find out Mark Baynard's terrible secret is that he has lymphoma.  He hasn't been traveling.  He's been in a hospital bed.


They still continue talking after Mark reveals the truth, but the relationship changes big time.  Mark reveals more about himself, and has one more stike at a new clinical cure.  If it goes well, he'll kick this thing.  If not, three strikes, he's out.  As in dead.


Right before his last experimental cure, Mark's sister contacts Abby.  He's about to go in for that last treatment the next day.


After several hours of looking through hospital's that treat his kind of lymphoma, Abby finds he was staying in a hospital a few blocks away from her apartment.  The entire time.


Abby finds him in the hospital.  No matter what, she would be with him whether he lived or died the next day.


The first words he says to her when they meet in real life:  "Hello, Tweetheart."


And that's how the book ends.


The author didn't reveal whether he lived or died.  Part of me is mad.  Thus only 4 stars on Goodreads.  The other part understands.  If he died, the book would be a wall-banger, and could never be considered a romance book.  If he survived, the book would be cheesy.  (Yes, cheesiness is indicative of romance, but bear with me.)


Isn't it better that the end remains suspended in that moment?  Personally, I think he does live--but I'm a blind optimist.  But does it matter?  Not really.  The book is over.  The story is over.


This is the first time I've read a romance book that was a "Happy for Now," rather than a "Happily Ever After."  (Although, it could be...)


I mean ever.  I didn't even know a book could be considered a romance if it wasn't a Happily Ever After until a few weeks ago.  I probably didn't know this because I read a lot of historical Regency and before romances, where marriage (thus Happily Ever After) was indicative of the genre.  This was, obviously, a contemporary.


Romance books are not supposed to make me think.  This book did.  Again, I could only give it four stars.  But it was a good book.  Really good book.  But not one I'll re-read for a LOONG time.





Wednesday, June 15, 2011

And the Talking Donkey?

Every time I watched a Shrek movie, I constantly wondered what fairy tale the talking donkey came from.  I mean, an ogre is a common monster in fantasy-type stuff.  It's an archetype.  But a talking donkey?


The only talking donkey from any story I could think of was Balaam's.  Which was a Bible story.  Surely that's not where they got it and are they demoting the story to just a fairy tale?  Surely DreamWorks wasn't brave enough to put that in their film!

"The Bremen Town Musicians" by the Grimms Brothers (I think it's attributed to them, anyway) features a talking, singing, clever donkey, the inspiration for Donkey's character.  Which, Donkey sings for his supper in the last film since it's a World Gone Wrong.


Quite frankly, I thought "The Bremen Town Musicains" was a stupid story.  It may have just been a bad translation, but I really didn't like it.


But that's where they got it.  Thank you, Google.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Make Me Want To

I haven't been writing much lately. Been reading a lot, which is something, but I haven't been writing.

I've been thinking more than anything.  For SFKBS, I figured out some of the mechanics of the plot, like the protagonist's motivation.  Going over the story in my head, I get why people ask writers, "Where do you get your ideas?" 

Out of thin air.  When you need something to work one way, you make up the way it's supposed to work--if you're writing fantasy.  Which is one of the main things I love about writing fantasy.

While my protagonist's motivation is a very good one, I wonder if it's enough.  Not for him.  Obviously it is.  But for other people.  Readers.

I waa-aay past first draft stage with this.  I've been working on it since 2005.

And I still don't have it all figured out.

It's funny, really, because there are other stories I was able to figure out in one go.  Books that, while, yes, I was going to rewrite it, I knew that when I sat down to rewrite it, I would know exactly what I was going to do.  Or I was going to lie to myself about the fact I knew what I was doing.  Because honestly, how often do I know what I'm doing?  Unless it's farm-related.  Then I really do know what I'm doing.

Not so with this one.  But I guess because I changed it so much, and the plot is very different from draft I-No-Longer-Exist-Because-Jadi-Got-Fire-Happy-One-Night.  Don't ask.

The story keeps changing.  But it's okay, because the other stories probably weren't worth telling.

Also, getting back to the motivation, I'm trying to think of other things to motivate people.

Fear
Curiosity (my biggest motivator, personally.)
Stubbornness (my other biggest motivator)
Family
Spite/Revenge
Anger
Depression
Religious notion?
Love of the romantic sort
Love of the platonic sort
Job
Money (mercenaries, my favorite--oh yeah, and capitalism)


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Let's Have Some Fun

"Miss Vesper Holly has the digestive talents of a goat and the mind of a chess master. She is familiar with half a dozen languages and can swear fluently in all of them. She understands the use of a slide rule but prefers doing calculations in her head. She does not hesitate to risk life and limb- mine as well as her own. No doubt she has other qualities as yet undiscovered. I hope not."
-The Illyrian Adventure, by Lloyd Alexander


I finished reading The Illyrian Adventure by Lloyd Alexander last night.  I started it several days ago, but stopped when I found out it was the first book in a series.  Or the last.  I didn't really know.


Anyway, last night, I picked it up where I left off.


The book has very little characterization, and very little description.  She's not telling the story, her guardian, Professor "Brinnie" Garrett is telling the story.  And she's smarter than he is, or her mind works faster anyway.


Despite the flaws, it was still so much fun to read.  I was reading some Goodreads reviews on it (although, most of the reviews were for the entire series), and a lot of people said, "Indiana Jones for girls."  I've never seen an Indiana Jones film (quit throwing stuff!), but I know enough about it to say it's a good description (as good as any, I guess).


It kind of reminded me a lot of the Girl Talk, Baby-Sitters' Club, Little Sisters...


Only a lot of action and only one central character.  The conflict is way bigger too.  And those writers aren't half as clever in their writing as Alexander is, in my opinion.


Indiana Jones for girls...only written by a man, which is weird.  But that's okay, because it's awesome.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Charge to the Rescue!

A bunch of romance readers/writers got pissed off last week due to this article:


http://www.ksl.com/index.php?nid=1010&sid=15609384


And their response was this:


http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/jun/01/claim-romantic-novels-unbalance-readers?CMP=twt_fd


I love reading romances.  I don't consider myself addicted (mainly because I don't read just romances) and, while not as offended as these people, I understand why they're offended.  People made terrible claims about Christian Fantasy and how evil the Fantasy genre in general was.  I was ready to kick some butt too.


I'm glad that these readers and writers were outraged and spoke out.


Of all of the dumb things to make a claim against anyway. . .


No genre is perfect, I'll admit that.  But just because Romance is a successful genre and offers escape from a troubled world doesn't mean you should blackball it.