Friday, November 30, 2012

Book Rant

“Fools have a habit of believing that everything written by a famous author is admirable. For my part I read only to please myself and like only what suits my taste.”
― Voltaire, Candide

I'm a weird reader.

I've never read Nicholas Sparks, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, most other YA best-sellers, A Song of Ice and Fire (but I do at least own those and I will read them some day), Narnia.  I've only read The Fellowship of the Ring and I still have a bookmark in The Two Towers.  Never mind Tolkien's other works (again, I have them, but I don't know when I'll read them).  Oh yeah, I've never read James Patterson either.  But I did see Alex Cross and it's freaking amazing.  I watched The Hunger Games too.  Sorry, dystopias are not my thing.  Neither is YA.

I'm attempting Pride and Prejudice for the second time.   The first time, I got to Chapter 10, decided I wasn't interested and got rid of the book.  I got it again on Kindle--thank you Public Domain.  I'm over halfway through, but I guess I can be Team Darcy after I'm done.  Perhaps I'll try her other books.

My favorite author's Stephen R. Lawhead.  He has a pretty solid fanbase in the Reader World, but I think most non-readers wouldn't know who he was--unless they have a fan of his in their lives.  Even then?  Perhaps not.  And he gets reviews across the board.  People love him, hate him, or are merely indifferent.  Personally, I love his books.  They always make me feel like a better person.

The Spirit Well, his newest, only took me two days.  That's a record for me with his books.  My previous record was three days.  His books will give me a good hangover, but I don't get angsty about the next book.  Probably because I have so many other books to read.  After I've had my squee-fest, I'm ready to read something else.  Honestly, as I've said before about Bright Empires, I'm just really excited.  Like, oh my gosh, how is this going to end, and oh my gosh, I love the plotline (insert more fangirl squealing).

My favorite romance author is Victoria Alexander.  Same thing.  She's not like Nora Roberts whom everybody's heard of.  At least you can buy her books at WalMart.  Like Lawhead, she molded my tastes, set a standard for decency.

Keeping with the Alexanders, I think Lloyd Alexander is probably the best-known out of my favorite authors.  Yes, he's a children author.  (Oh yeah, I've never read Roald Dahl either, but I did get two of his books the other day.)

I think something's wrong with people who don't like Lloyd Alexander.  That's my Twilight.  If you don't like Lloyd Alexander, we can't be friends.  That, and Candide.  You can even dislike Stephen R. Lawhead, although, I'll still think your taste is deficient.

Not to say every LA book gets 5-stars from me.  I've given a few 3 stars.  But they're so much fun.  And he was interested in everything.  Welsh fantasy (thank you, SRL, for my obsession with all things Welsh-Celtic), Greek fantasy, French-esque fantasy, you-name-it.  Cats.  Westmark.  Gosh, I loved Westmark.

I think my favorite story was from The Foundling, and Other Tales from Prydain, "The Smith, the Weaver, and the Harper."

"And the Lord of Death fled in terror of life."

That is a powerful statement.

I've already said YA's not my thing.  I've read YA.  I even like some YA's, such as The DUFF by Kody Keplinger and the Inside series by Maria V. Snyder, but over all...  I'm more of a children's and middle grade reader.  And then of course, adult.  I don't know if it's because I'm still kinda fresh out of high school (although it's been two years) and not enough time has passed for me to want to re-visit those years, or if it's just not to my weird tastes, but I don't care for it.  I still look there.  I still pick up a book from time to time, but give me a Lloyd Alexander children's or an adult romance over that any day.

I'm in the minority in that.  Lots of people like YA.  I'm not very big into paranormal either.

LIE.  I've liked the few paranormals I've read, but they're not the first thing I reach for when I need a reading fix.  I go to a Regency romance.  I just don't go to it right away.

Other by Karen Kincy.  Freaking awesome.
Even Vampires Get the Blues by Katie MacAlister.  See above.
Immortal Coil by C. I. Black.  Dragons?  YES!

Wait, that's it?  Anyway...

My fantasy reads are a little more impressive.  I'm sure fantasy readers have heard of The Name of the Wind and The Wise's Man's Fear (long, but good).  The Night Angel trilogy by Brent Weeks (amazing).  Dragon Prince by Melanie Rawn (classic).

This year, my favorite fantasies were Broken Blade and Bared Blade by Kelly McCollough. The third book came out a few days ago.  I'm waiting to get my hands on it (probably Christmas).  Books like that remind me why I read fantasy, and they're not door-stopper long.  Aral Kingslayer is my fantasy book crush.  The fact he kind of reminds me of a romance hero isn't a coincidence.

I'm not one of those readers where books are never long enough.  I love short books.  I like long books too, but length is daunting.

I like books.  I like endings.  I like book hangovers.  I like when books end, so that means I can go to another book.

Several years ago, when I was in public high school, I was asked if I had a boyfriend.  I thought it was a stupid question.  It's small-town Wiggins.  Wouldn't they know if I was dating someone?

"You could be dating someone from another school."

"No," I said.

Someone I hated said I dated books.

Uhm, that's an interesting observation, but I always have more than one book going at a time, and I manage a lot of books in a year.  I'm never faithful to books, unless it's a romance, and that's because I don't have a bookmark in them long enough to cheat on them.  I use them to cheat on other books.

One year, I'm just going to read romance books, just to see if I'd be unfaithful to them if that was all I read.  I have cheated on romance books before, but it's a seldom occurence.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

That's not weird, right?

Sometimes, I click on all the links on my sidebar.  You know, the ones for "My Fair Donor."  I go to all the websites to read reviews.

So far, the Barnes & Noble page is the only one that has a goodly amount of ratings/reviews, and they range from 2 stars to 5 stars.

And there was a new review.  And it was a good one.

I feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  I know I probably shouldn't have made that my debut self-published story, but I did and there's no calling it back.

The die is cast.

And I read reviews.  I don't know what I would do if one of those 2-star ratings actually had a review.  Would I kick myself for putting out a mediocre story?  Would I be offended in writer's indignation?

I don't know.   I suppose I should be grateful it's only a rating and not a review.

That being said, I've looked at my own ratings for books, and I almost never review.  Plenty of books get across the board rating and reviews.  A single book with get dozens and hundreds of reactions.

So, it's not personal.  The story didn't ring with them, I didn't do something right...

But when it's a good review...  Well, I like to look, just to see what people think.

I also like a reaction.  Love my work.  Hate it.  But don't be indifferent.

That's my new thing.  I don't know which of my characters will say it to their love interest, but someone will tell someone.

"I want your love.  I'll accept your hate.  But I will not tolerate your indifference."

And the reply, "As if anyone could ever be indifferent to you."

I think it's clever and sweet.  Just a snippet of dialogue, but it's there.  While it could work with Naren and Kamra, or my Seamonkey Romance (don't ask, I'll explain later), or a new story I'll write someday, I want that in one of my books.

I just got to make sure it's not in another book someone else wrote.

Monday, November 12, 2012

DinoResearch


I added a Dinos & Dragons pinboard on Pinterest, and I wanted to add my own research paper and powerpoint to the board.  I went to Scribd and uploaded both onto my profile.

Here they are!!!

DinoPaper

DinoPresentation

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

How to Be A (Decent) American

*be aware, I write from a Judeo-Christian worldview*

1.  Thou shalt be respectful.  It's okay to be opinionated, and we have the 1st Amendment for a reason.  That doesn't give you the right to be rude and disrespectful.


2.  Thou shalt pay attention in thine history class.  Benjamin Franklin was never a President, although he was a Founding Father.  He was also the one with the kite.  Columbus was Italian, but sailed for Spain.  He landed in the West Indies.  You should know what the West Indies are.


3.  Thou shalt not just complain, but thou shalt also do.  Yes, if you vote, you can complain BUT complaining's not enough.  If you really want things to change, petition.  Protest.  Be respectful and know your stuff, but don't just talk.


4.  Thou shalt work hard.  THAT is the American Dream.  People came to this country with nothing and worked hard and made a better life.  We're not even 300 years old.  We can still do this.


5.  Thou shalt be independent.  And by this, I mean independent of the Government.  The Lord may giveth and taketh away, and blesseth be the name of the Lord, but the government is not God.  This goes with #4.


6.  Thou shalt teach thine children right.  Don't leave it to the school systems.  You teach your kids right from wrong.


7.  Thou shalt understand that a healthy society has many components.  Home life, education, community, religion, security...  When one lacks, pick up the pace.


8.  Thou shalt read.  Most importantly, the Bible and Robert Fulghum.  Whether you're a Christian or not, the Bible has some good ideas.  Robert Fulghum isn't a Christian, but he's freaking amazing.  I have a lot of respect for him.  If the Bible can't be required reading, All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten should be.  You shouldn't be allowed to leave government-mandated schooling until you've read him.


9.  Thou shalt remember to be human.  You are not a mindless drone.  You are not simply a cog in the wheel.  You are you.  Make mistakes, and forgive yourself for them.


10.  Thou shalt never be comfortable.  Humanity has always tried to be something or find something greater to be or believe in.  Dream.  Aspire.  Pray.  Grow.

Just Write

For someone who's not participating in NaNoWriMo, I've been doing a lot of writing.  I'd even be on schedule if I was.

It's a total load of crap, but I'm finding crap is better than nothing.  Lately, when writing, I've stopped trying to make it sound good.  I'm just making it.  You know the advice, "Just write the damned book"?

Yeah, I'm trying that method.  This is my ten thousandth draft of this story.  You'd think I'd care about things like word choice and pacing.

Nope.  I'm still treating it like a first draft.

There's this other story I'm working on.  I'd been sitting on the idea for several months.  Last month, I think, I finally wrote down a first draft. It's a short story.  Hand wrote.  In purple ink.  Full story.

When trying to rewrite, I couldn't make an alternate beginning stick.  So, I went back to my original idea.  I'm back in the composition book, with my purple pen.

I'm just writing the dang book (books?) and it feels pretty dang good.

Vote

RETAIN YOUR RIGHT TO COMPLAIN!

VOTE!

God bless America.  And Canada.  And Mexico.  And the United Kingdom.  And China.  And Russia.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

What's the Difference?

I just finished a low fantasy/paranormal romance.  Unsure of how to shelve it on Goodreads, I checked to see what everyone else had it shelved as.  When in Rome, do as the Romans.

How I understand it so far:

"Contemporary," "Historical," "Low Fantasy," and "High Fantasy" are all genre labels that will at least tell you the period and whether or not it's in our world.  Think about it, almost every fiction book you've ever read could be categorized in one of these ways, except perhaps sci-fi, if it's futuristic.  But not all sci-fi is.  Same for horror.

"Mystery," "Romance," or "Literary" refer to select types of plotlines you can expect, or in the last genre, no plot at all.

"Sci-Fi" and "Horror," the other Spec cousins, refer to world-building and plot elements, respectively.

Like any self-respecting college student who's ever done a research paper, I went to Wikipedia to see what it said about different genres.

(all the following information is copy-pasted straight from Wikipedia, give or take a paragraph or two left out)


Speculative fiction is an umbrella term encompassing the more fantastical fiction genres, specifically science fiction, fantasy, horror, weird fiction, supernatural fiction, superhero fiction, utopian and dystopian fiction, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, and alternate history in literature as well as related static, motion, and virtual arts.


My remark:  I think we knew and understood that one.  Still, I like putting it here anyway.

~~
Paranormal romance is a sub-genre of the romance novel. A type of speculative fiction, paranormal romance focuses on romance and includes elements beyond the range of scientific explanation, blending together themes from the genres of traditional fantasy, science fiction, or horror. Paranormal romance may range from traditional category romances, such as those published by Harlequin Mills & Boon, with a paranormal setting to stories where the main emphasis is on a science fiction or fantasy based plot with a romantic subplot included. Common hallmarks are romantic relationships between humans and vampires, shapeshifters, ghosts, and other entities of a fantastic or otherworldly nature.


Beyond the more prevalent themes involving vampires, shapeshifters, ghosts, or time travel, paranormal romances can also include books featuring characters with psychic abilities, like telekinesis or telepathy.

Paranormal romance has its roots in Gothic fiction. Its most recent revival has been spurred by turn of the 21st century technology, e.g. the internet and electronic publishing. Paranormal romances are one of the fastest growing trends in the romance genre.

The love child of speculative and romance.

~

Urban fantasy is a sub-genre of fantasy defined by place; the fantastic narrative has an urban setting. Many urban fantasies are set in contemporary times and contain supernatural elements. However, the stories can take place in historical, modern, or futuristic periods. The prerequisite is that they must be primarily set in a city.


My remark:  If this is the case, I've been shelving a few of my high fantasies wrong.  We typically think of urban fantasy as contemporary/low fantasy, but apparently it can apply to high fantasies too.

~

Fantasy is a genre of fiction that commonly uses magic and other supernatural phenomena as a primary element of plot, theme, or setting. Many works within the genre take place in imaginary worlds where magic is common. Fantasy is generally distinguished from the genre of science fiction by the expectation that it steers clear of scientific themes, though there is a great deal of overlap between the two, both of which are subgenres of speculative fiction.


Beginning perhaps with the Epic of Gilgamesh and the earliest written documents known to humankind, mythic and other elements that would eventually come to define fantasy and its various subgenres have been a part of some of the grandest and most celebrated works of literature. From The Odyssey to Beowulf, from the Mahabharata to The Book of One Thousand and One Nights, from the Ramayana to the Journey to the West, and from the Arthurian legend and medieval romance to the epic poetry of the Divine Comedy, fantastical adventures featuring brave heroes and heroines, deadly monsters, and secret arcane realms have inspired many audiences. In this sense, the history of fantasy and the history of literature are inextricably intertwined.


And yet, despite the fact that it is so intertwined with the history of literature, readers are still picked on.  How unfair!

~
Low fantasy is a sub-genre of fantasy fiction involving "nonrational happenings that are without causality or rationality because they occur in the rational world where such things are not supposed to occur." Low fantasy stories are set in the real world. Low fantasy is contrasted with high fantasy, which takes place in a completely fictional fantasy world setting (partly or entirely, as high fantasy may start from or connect to the real world in places).

Apparently, this term is not interchangeable with urban fantasy, however, I think most readers would do it anyway.  I almost never see/hear the term "low fantasy."  Contemporary fantasy?  Yes.  Historical fantasy?  Yes, yes.

That always stumped me.  When the Pevensies go from the Real World to Narnia, would you consider it high or low fantasy?

~

High fantasy or epic fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy that is set in invented or parallel worlds. High fantasy was brought to fruition through the work of authors such as J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis.  High fantasy has become one of the two genres most commonly associated with the general term fantasy, the other being sword and sorcery, which is typified by the works of Robert E. Howard.

High fantasy is defined as fantasy fiction set in an alternative, entirely fictional ("secondary") world, rather than the real, or "primary" world. The secondary world is usually internally consistent but its rules differ in some way(s) from those of the primary world. By contrast, low fantasy is characterized by being set in the primary, or "real" world, or a rational and familiar fictional world, with the inclusion of magical elements.

Narnia question:  answered!  My Encylcopedia of Fantasy says "heroic fantasy" is a euphemism for "sword and sorcery," like they call "horror" "dark fantasy" sometimes.

~


Horror fiction also Horror fantasy is a genre of literature, which is intended to, or has the capacity to frighten its readers, scare or startle viewers/readers by inducing feelings of horror and terror. It creates an eerie and frightening atmosphere. Horror can be either supernatural or non-supernatural. The genre has ancient origins which were reformulated in the eighteenth century as Gothic horror, with publication of the Castle of Otranto (1764) by Horace Walpole.

Supernatural horror has its roots in folklore and religious traditions, focusing on death, the afterlife, evil, the demonic and the principle of evil embodied in the Devil. These were manifested in stories of witches, vampires, werewolves, ghosts, and demonic pacts such as that of Faust.

In that, horror is similar to fantasy in its roots, that the roots are in folklore and religious traditions.  Supernatural horror and fantasy almost seem closer related than sci-fi and fantasy are.

~
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible (or at least non-supernatural) content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, parallel universes, aliens, and paranormal abilities. Exploring the consequences of scientific innovations is one purpose of science fiction, making it a "literature of ideas".

Science fiction is largely based on writing rationally about alternative possible worlds or futures. It is similar to, but differs from fantasy in that, within the context of the story, its imaginary elements are largely possible within scientifically established or scientifically postulated laws of nature (though some elements in a story might still be pure imaginative speculation).

As a means of understanding the world through speculation and storytelling, science fiction has antecedents back to mythology, though precursors to science fiction as literature can be seen in Lucian's True History in the 2nd century, some of the Arabian Nights tales, The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter in the 10th century and Ibn al-Nafis' Theologus Autodidactus in the 13th century.

A product of the budding Age of Reason and the development of modern science itself, Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels was one of the first true science fantasy works, together with Voltaire's Microm├ęgas (1752) and Johannes Kepler's Somnium (1620–1630).[21] Isaac Asimov and Carl Sagan consider the latter work the first science fiction story. It depicts a journey to the Moon and how the Earth's motion is seen from there. Another example is Ludvig Holberg's novel Nicolai Klimii iter subterraneum, 1741. (Translated to Danish by Hans Hagerup in 1742 as Niels Klims underjordiske Rejse.) (Eng. Niels Klim's Underground Travels.) Brian Aldiss has argued that Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1818) was the first work of science fiction.

The roots are in mythology.  What's the difference between folklore and mythology?  Generally, we think of fantasy as having its roots in folklore, fairy tales, and mythology.

Actually, I didn't think sci-fi was that old.  I always thought H. G. Wells and Jules Verne wrote their books and they were later tagged as sci-fi.  And I also always thought Frankenstein was horror.

Fantasy, Sci-fi, and Horror are more like cousins, however, than actual sisters.  I've read it in places, and I kind of agree.

I know this isn't exactly important.  Who cares what it's called, so long as we know what we're talking about?  But I like labels.  I like understanding the differences, especially when I'm not well enough read in most of these genres to sound intelligent when I talk about them.

I also like making snarky remarks about them.

And now, I know how to shelve my books on Goodreads.

No, No, No

As I've posted on Facebook and Twitter:  I am not participating in NaNoWriMo.  I don't deserve to call myself a writer.

I've really been beating myself up about this.  I dropped all of my classes.  It's not like I won't have the time.  I have an idea (kinda).

However, I have 30k for Prince Smith.  And I need 50k more.  Can that count for anything?  It's old as 2005 and I've re-written it several times.  For the past two years (I think) I didn't finish a draft of it.

One of my personal rules is to try to both read and write everyday.  Because I only had 1 class most days, and now only have 1 class for an hour Mon-Thurs, and currently have no job, this was and still is very easy.  However, some days I don't feel like reading and some days I don't feel like writing.  So I try one or the other everyday.

Either I put gas in the tank or I go somewhere.  Which is a bad analogy, because I don't have a car either.

Yeah, that's my life, and it sucks.

Happy NaNoWriMo.  And good luck to those of you who are participating.

May the muse be with you.