Thursday, December 31, 2009
There has been talk of bests of the decade and worsts of the decade and no one is talking resolutions yet so lets have it. What are your goals and resolutions for 2010?
I will run a 1/2 marathon. And write another novel.
Share!! And have a safe and happy New Year's Eve.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
As I write this my husband is making me laugh so hard it is difficult
to type. He is an original. I can't say what he was saying, but he
makes me laugh regularly.
We are having a quiet day (its snowing buckets out there) of seeing
two or three movies today at my favorite movie theatre, The District.
Per a fellow Inker's advice, we will see Avatar and then we will see
another movie, New Moon. I've already seen it with Deb and Donna on
Opening Day, but now its Dear Husband's turn. He read the books so he
could have something to talk to me about. (He's so funny).
Our children are at grandmother's house for 30 hours. :)
We were originally thinking of going to Moab to camp in our car, but
this snow storm helped us change our minds. I received a promise to
take the Moab trip in March. Just him and I and red rock. Aaaah.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Monday, December 28, 2009
Saturday, December 26, 2009
At year's end, many lists come out citing the "best" of the year -everything from books and movies to dry cleaners. The end of 2009 has brought alternate lists, detailing the best of the past decade.
I like these lists, especially how they bring about much debate and discussion. So, I'd like to present a very random list of some of my favorite writing of the past decade.
The Harry Potter Series Conclusion (a world I'd love to visit, with characters I care about - including that naughty Tom Riddle)
Juno (a unique voice, in a funny and touching tale)
Lost (great premise, interesting characters, and although they got off track here and there, I'm dying to know how it ends)
The Office/30 Rock (my favorite TV combo, many laughs, but even better are the cringe-worthy moments)
The Dark Knight (worthy for the Joker character alone)
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (great adaptation and epic filmmaking)
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Dan Wells gave a great tribute on his blog. I totally agree, the writing is stellar.)
Boulevard of Broken Dreams (This Green Day song still pops into my head unexpectedly.)
The Princess Academy (I never thought I'd like a book with the word princess in the title, but I loved the strong female lead character as a model for young girls.)
Twilight (It should have ended with book one, or ended better. But, because of the Cullens, it belongs here.)
I know there are many more, but my brain is in a Christmas coma and these are the first that come to mind. Feel free to chime in with your own.
Friday, December 25, 2009
(This is a spoiler-free review)
So I went to see Avatar in 3D last night at the late showing. I went in with very low expectations, mostly because of the tall Smurfs from the trailer. Let's just say James Cameron does shock and awe as well as George W. did.
The story has been done before. My initial thoughts as the show began were Fern Gully meets Starship Troopers. (And I've seen it compared to Pocahontas and other similar films.) That didn't bother me so much, because really a film is all about doing it first or best, and Cameron certainly executed this story better than it's ever been done before. I was pleased that he took full use of his extensive budget to make it a three-hour movie. I doubt he could have told as compelling a story without a second less.
While the 3D aspect of the show (the entire show is 3D, even the preceding movie trailers!) was fantastic, the most impressive achievement of this film is how REAL the CGI characters feel. There wasn't a moment throughout the whole movie that the CGI characters came off as wooden or stodgy--their facial expressions, voice-lip syncing, motor skills, and skin/hair/eye tones all testified to bona-fide characters. The verisimilitude didn't stop with the physical aspects of the characters. Their personalities shone through despite the fact that they were CGI. This, for example, is one thing that Lucas missed with the new Star Wars shows, and why everyone wishes they could erase Jar Jar Bincks from our collective racial memory. Cameron's animators and team pulled the CGI off brilliantly.
I would have liked to see more of Sigourney Weaver; she took a limited minor role only. The other characters in the show, though, were interesting if archetypal. The archetypes worked well for this allegorical story, anyway, and strengthend its overall effect. For example, the head of security for the humans, while extremely archetypal zealous military, came across as an interesting character.
The romance in the story is good to a point--the endgame romance isn't so great, but the buildup is subtle and superb.
The colors and jungle wildlife are amazing! Creative CGI but also brilliant set and artistic design.
This movie appears to be Hollywood fluff at first glance, and many people have reviewed it as such already, but no matter what your interests or take on the film, it is a thinking movie. It takes a while to sort out thoughts about each aspect of it, and for that reason I enjoyed it.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
It's Christmas Eve and tonight the reindeer will be flying around the world and all the little kiddies will hopefully be snug in their beds.
This blog is not about reindeer, really. It's about a cousin of the reindeer called the antelope. (We see alot more of them around here than we do those north fliers who live with Santa.)
This is a true story-
Recently on a sunny winter afternoon, I was driving with my two youngest children and at a stop sign my daughter looked out the side window and exclaimed, “Look! What are those things.”
She’s 6 so that’s not an unusual question from her. I glanced over and saw 40 antelope standing in a field just to the east of the four way stop.
I happened to be talking on my cell phone, also not unusual, and I explained to my friend and my children that we were seeing a huge group of antelope beside the road.
The graceful creatures then decided to cross the road en masse in a brilliant display of herd mentality. The humans yielded right of way and no antelope were injured.
“How fun! They look like reindeer,” I told my friend with Christmas in mind.
After the animals had all passed we drove on to our destination and I went on with my busy day.
That night at dinner, my daughter was complaining about not having any juice and I was answering another question from my oldest son when she waved her hand and said, “What are those things called, mom? You know is it cantaloupe?”
Thinking she was asking for fruit, I replied that yes indeed we could get some cantaloupe and she ran off.
A few seconds later I walked into my bedroom to find her explaining to my husband that we had seen a ‘flock of cantaloupe’ on the road.
“Were they rolling down the street,” he asked, adequately perplexed and turned to me for explanation. I was laughing too hard to answer right away.
“You mean a herd of antelope, dear,” I clarified.
After some persuasion and a little explaining of the difference between fruits and grazing animals and an interruption by my 4 year old claiming ‘no they’re reindeer, mommy said so’, we all had a little chuckle and went about our evening.
Then Grandma called.
The story was retold by my daughter over the phone and grandma responded appropriately with loads of giggles.
Grandma then pointed out that it was an easy mistake to make because cantaloupe and antelope rhyme.
To which my adorable little scholar said very seriously, “Yes, because they both end in antelope.”
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
All I want for Christmas is a day of sleep,
A day of sleep
Yes, a day of sleep.
Gee if I Could only get a day of sleep,
Then I could wish you Merry Christmas!!
It seems so long since I could say
"I feel so awake and so well rested"
Gosh oh Gee, How Happy I'd be
If I could only sleep --snore
All I want for Christmas is a day of Sleep
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
I hate watching the news. It makes me feel icky inside, like I've just kicked a puppy or something. There are two local happenings that I have caught on the news this month. One is a missing woman (with a very suspicious husband) and the other is a man who killed his wife, kids, and himself. Merry Christmas, huh?
Saturday, December 19, 2009
I was out Christmas shopping (only six shopping days left!) at our local large, discount department store and decided to pick up a couple of books for some folks. As I perused the book aisle, I saw there were two entire sections of shelves devoted to vampire romances. I had noticed this before in passing, but this time it irritated me.
Although I have a good understanding of marketing, and realize this is a result of the phenomenal success of Twilight, from a creative standpoint, I wanted to smack each of those blatant knock-off authors in the mouth (not a very Christian attitude while Christmas shopping). It reminded me of when Harry Potter became so successful and one author had the nerve to publish a book featuring a character called Larry Potter, a dark haired boy with round glasses.
Granted, there are really no original stories. I believe it has been written there are only 36 basic plots. But, come on people, at least try a little harder if you're going to follow a trend. To me, Twilight was interesting because it put a different spin on the typical teen romance. Why would we want to read 20 other books with the same premise?
Am I being too harsh here? If you know of some books that have followed a trend, which you would highly recommend, please share. I'd like to feel only love in my heart at Christmas time.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Tuckerization is the act of using a person's name in an original story as an in-joke. The term is derived from Wilson Tucker, a pioneering American science fiction writer and fanzine editor, who made a practice of using his friends' names for minor characters in his stories. For example, Harry Harrison's To the Stars character: "Old Lundwall, who commands the Sverige, should have retired a decade ago, but he is still the best there is." Sam J Lundwall is a well-known Swedish science fiction publisher and writer, as well as the godfather of Harrison's daughter. A tuckerization can also be the use of a person's character or personal attributes with a new name as an in-joke, such as Ian Arnstein in S.M. Stirling's Island in the Sea of Time trilogy, clearly modeled on his good friend Harry Turtledove, albeit an alternate history Turtledove.
In most cases, tuckerization is used for bit parts, an opportunity for the author to create an homage to a friend or respected colleague. But sometimes an author will attach a friend's name, description, or identifiable characteristics to a major character, and in some novels nearly all the characters represent friends, colleagues, or prominent persons the author knows. When this happens, tuckerization can rise to the level of a Roman à clef. Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle have done this at least twice:
- Inferno, in which about half the people the main character meets are famous people.
- Fallen Angels, nearly everybody who assists the effort to return the "angels" (astronauts) to orbit is either a well-known fan (Jenny Trout = filksinger, author, and political activist Leslie Fish), a friend of Niven & Pournelle (Dan Forrester = Dan Alderson), or somebody who paid (through donation to a fan charity) for the privilege of appearing in the book. In this case, it can be argued that the first and second categories are not true tuckerizations, since the individual's real names are not used (however recognizable many of them may be).
A similar effect is seen in Niven's collaboration with David Gerrold, The Flying Sorcerers; all the gods are well known science fiction or media personalities (Ouells = H. G. Wells, Rotn'bair = Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry), etc.
One of the earliest tuckerizations was between Robert Bloch and his mentor H. P. Lovecraft: Bloch's story "The Shambler From The Stars" (1935) featured a Lovecraft-inspired character, who was gruesomely killed off. Lovecraft replied in kind with "The Haunter of the Dark" (1936), whose characters included one Robert Harrison Blake (who had the same address as Bloch), whom Lovecraft killed off in an equally horrible fashion. After Lovecraft's death, Bloch wrote a third segment, "The Shadow From the Steeple" (1950), in which the events of the first two stories are further explored. In the early 1930s, before Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created the comic-book superhero Superman, they wrote and illustrated a fanzine story, "The Reign of the Superman," featuring a super-powered villain. This story includes one of the very first tuckerizations: a character named after Forrest J Ackerman. More recent examples include the many science fiction and military novelists whose names are borrowed in the Axis of Time by John Birmingham, and the Lachlan Fox thriller series by James Clancy Phelan (eg Birmingham gets it in FOX HUNT).
Related to it is redshirting, where the character named after the real person is killed in some way. Many authors consider tuckerization and redshirting interchangeable; 'redshirted' characters do not necessarily die.
Tuckerization should not be confused with the inclusion of living or deceased real persons in fiction, either as major or minor characters (Chelsea Quinn Yarbro in Warday, Forrest J Ackerman in various novels, etc.).
Thursday, December 17, 2009
This year the shots over the bow have already begun.
Hubby says, "Okay, we'll spend our last dime on a dumb tree, if you insist, but no tinsel."
My response, "Hmm...well...I guess I could try ribbon this year instead of tinsel, BUT if it doesn't FEEL like Christmas, then I'll have to put some tinsel on the tree."
There. I have clearly drawn my battle line, including a compromise. Enough said right? NO.
Dear Hubby says, "I just hate picking the tinsel out of the grass all summer. (Note: we drag the tree to the street for pick up after christmas and the tinsel has been known to fall off in the transport, BUT he's exaggerating, obviously.)
It clogs the mower."
My response, "No it doesn't."
DH: "Yes, it does and the vacuum cleaner too. I hate that."
Me: "But there has always been tinsel on the tree, every Christmas forever."
DH: "It's still Christmas without the messy tinsel."
Me (to myself in my head): "Bring it on, Scrooge."
Could I live without the tinsel? Probably, if forced to by flood, fire, or allergy. BUT I don't have to and I don't want to. Did I mention that I still sleep beside the glittery Christmas tree on Christmas eve, like I did when I was 6, because I love looking at it that much?
What do you love about Christmas?
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
because I was caught up in theatre production overload.) We met and
learned some good things about our senses.
Donna led the discussion on noticing what's around you and using at
least three of your five senses.
So, right now I want to hear/read what you are sensing right now. Here's mine:
Smelling the sweetness of a little one's breath as she asks to be
tucked in and feeling the silky-smoothness of her blonde hair as I
kiss her goodnight. After I kiss her I get a razzberry on my arm and
the vibrations linger long after her zurburt.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Friday, December 11, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Bah and Humbug to rewrites, frozen fingers, chocolate cookies, free lunches, and good advice.
Yeah, its been one of those days.
On a completely different topic...DJ's work with Mr. Scrooge in the play she is directing this week paid off, and he did a great job. Congratulations and 'break a leg' tomorrow. Don't know why they think its a jinx to say good luck in the theater.
I love Christmas!!
(The raving ramblings of a overtaxed mind. Welcome to my world.)
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Monday, December 7, 2009
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Friday, December 4, 2009
Jack McDevitt delivers again.
The Devil's Eye starts off with Alex Benedict and Chase Kolpath receiving an enigmatic message from an interplanetary bestselling horror novelist. Author Vicki Greene tells them that she's gotten in too deep, talking about all the people who were dead. By the time Alex and Chase get back to their home planet, Rimway, Vicki has already had a memory wipe performed on her: an invasive procedure that completely wipes a person's personality and memories away, leaving them free to start a new life without hinderment from the past (usually only performed on repeat-offender criminals).
But before Vicki deep-sixes herself, she deposits two million dollars into Alex and Chase's account (which thousands of years in the future is still about what it's worth now; apparently in the future they find a way to stabilize inflation for good). Vicki wants them to discover what she did--what was so disturbing that she decided she couldn't live with the memory.
The last place Vicki had visited before sending Alex and Chase the message was Salud Afar, a borderland planet known for horrific legends and home to a recently overthrown dynasty of dictatorship and ruthless cruelty--the perfect place to research her next novel.
And off Alex and Chase go to unravel a deeply disturbing mystery on the edge of the Milky Way.
I thoroughly enjoyed Seeker, McDevitt's Nebula Award-winning novel preceding The Devil's Eye, so this novel had a tall order to fill. The mystery element was as strong as in Seeker, with the mystery almost as heavy as the sci-fi elements. As with Seeker, McDevitt uses the tools of science--astronomy and astrophysics especially--to unravel and solve the mystery.
Chase and Alex's characters developed more of an spark in this novel than in Seeker, giving the reader a sense of possibility while they still explore other options. McDevitt tries to make in Chase a female cavalier; she's her own woman and is tied down to no man. This role fits her as the pilot of the archaeology operation, but sometimes you just want to see her find love--the stuff which you're not sure will ever grow between her and Alex. Alex tends to come across as a rich collector who doesn't truly have an interest in people as he does in relics from a long-dead age. This hampers their three-dimensionality as characters, but ultimately they are enjoyable characters--Chase more so than Alex.
The Devil's Eye throws some twists into the story that I didn't see coming and that at first I was disappointed about because I was expecting something else. The twists were well-executed, though, and finally created a better ending that I predicted would happen. He did this with Seeker in a much better way, but it still works for TDE.
The Alex Benedict series is very standalone in the truest sense. I started on book three in the series, Seeker, and missed nothing. He's good at bringing you up to speed and only makes a handful of minor allusions to the previous books. For anyone who hasn't tried the sci-fi mystery genre yet, I'd strongly recommend McDevitt as a starting point.
The Devil's Eye, by Jack McDevitt. Ace Books. 2008. 368 pp. $7.99 (PB).
P.S. DJ, it's not too scary for you. :)
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Lately, we have been planning the conferences we all plan to attend next year. We are looking forward to getting together with friends and other people who understand the rollercoaster ride of being a writer.
We have discussed "Life, the Universe, & Everything' at BYU in February. That is coming sooo soon! YAY. Writing for Young Readers is on the agenda this year as well.
What conferences are on your agenda and what are you most looking forward too? Spill it we're making travel plans right now!!!
By next week I may be saying, "God Bless Us, Everyone." But today was
the first dress rehearsal for A Christmas Carol and it was a disaster!
There are still costumes to be made (by me), set pieces to be
acquired (by me), photography items to be arranged (by me), you get
So, right now, I am feeling rather Scrooge-ish. This is the third
year of production and I should know by now that it always comes off
great . . . but I still lose sleep.
For any who are local and interested, Charles Dickens' A Christmas
Carol will be performed at Eagle Valley Elementary School on Dec 9th &
10th at 7pm. Tickets are on sale in the office.
Mr. Chops, you should come so Debbie can introduce you to that
teacher. It is all Bah and Humbug!
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Monday, November 30, 2009
A few years ago I was shopping for generic Christmas cards at my local generic LargeMart. Out of several boxes and varieties, I was stunned that I couldn't find any cards bearing the words, "Merry Christmas." I found "Happy Holidays", "Season's Greetings", and even a "Wonderful Winter". But no Christmas tidings.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
So, we made it to Walmart around 9:30 AM and found most things very picked over (surprise, surprise). We bought a couple things there and headed to Target, where they were doing a 2-day sale instead of a limited Friday morning period.
It wasn't very crowded at either store, no elbowing, running and diving, or sliding necessary, which was nice and disappointing at the same time. Somehow the purchase is more thrilling when you know you beat someone else to it. Is that wrong?
I did have one moment of thrill when, after being disappointed to find The Office, season 4 no longer on the shelves, my husband found it in a discard basket.
The funny thing is, even though we're being quite frugal this year, we ended up with several things not on our list because they were so cheap. Now we have to try to match these things up to someone on our list. I'm not sure my Mom really wants to own a DVD of The Dark Knight.
This is why every year after Black Friday I always feel a little dirty, like the stores know my weaknesses and take advantage of me, luring me in with their promises of great deals on things I don't really need.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
So many of you may have heard about how Harlequin Publishing has opened up a self-publishing imprint (italic used here to convey the sense of "what in the name of all that is holy and good in this world were they thinking!?"). A lot of ideas have been thrown around about it on the blogosphere, and I'm not going to repeat them here.
But I am going to add an analogy to the mix. (I like analogies; they're fun to create, and they make my wife laugh a lot, even if she's just humoring me 30% of the time.)
Harlequin's creation of a self-publishing imprint is like if Campbell's Soup decided they would let the old lady down the street from their factory, who is half-blind and who owns bottled and canned food that predates the Cold War, bring a big pot of soup that she had fixed up that afternoon with who-knows-what cooked into it down to their factory to start putting in Campbell's Soup brand cans. She would then pay Campbell's a few thousand dollars to thank them for the privilege of having her soup canned in their cans and put on the shelf with their label. The FDA wouldn't know the diff. The customer wouldn't know the diff. And. AND. Old Lady Peabody could go around town saying that her recipe of soup is used by Campbell's, so everyone should buy some of her soup. Weeks later, when a number of househoulds are hospitalized for food poisoning, having ended up with what they thought was the Campbell's Soup brand, they're not going to sue Old Lady Peabody. They're going to sue Harleq . . . er . . . Campbell's.
So, is it ever, ever worth coming out with a self-publishing imprint if you are a well-respected publisher? No. Never, ever, in a million years, quadruple infinity, no reversals. The end.
DISCLAIMER: Campbell's Soup is the best soup in the whole wide world and would never, ever let Old Lady Peabody and her cat-hair-riddled soup into their factories. This was merely a satirical analogy meant to show that a soup company with as highly respected a reputation as Campbell's would be a good analogical focus in comparison to Harlequin. (although they don't put naughty ladies on their soup cans as does Harlequin . . . so it's not the perfect analogy, right? But you do what you can.)
(I wrote this just before we hit the road so here is to being optimistic.)
If all goes well, I'm in Reno with Arlene and she is cooking up a storm. This new tradition, started last year, is one of my favorites of the holidays. I mean really, who do you know that would take into their home you, your spouse, three rambunctious kids, and a 75 pound dog for nearly a week, and not only be happy that you are all there, including the dog, but then cook for three days straight the most amazing food ever? I know right? She is amazing. I miss my family every holiday because they live 3000 miles away, but Thanksgiving in Reno makes for a wonderful holiday and then some. Happy happy, girl here.
Hope you are all having a fantastic Thanksgiving.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
of 5 days. Then comes the weekend and I am at church serving with the
I do the singing time at church. Every Sunday we sing Happy Birthday
to the kids with birthdays in the upcoming week. There was this one
kid who every Sunday said "Today is my Birthday!". The first time, I
felt bad that we had forgotten his birthday and then I felt foolish
for falling for his prank.
Every week after that he would shout out that it was again his
birthday. The other kids starting following suit and Birthday time
became annoying. I decided to ignore it and just move along. As time
passed his joke, that never became old to him, made me smile. For a
year and a half we had this joke told every Sunday.
A few weeks ago, it was my birthday. I was in the chapel at church
and here comes the little trouble maker with a dozen pink roses and
says, "Today is your birthday". I was blown away. I embarrassed him
by hugging him tight!!
So, in our handling with kids, we can get angry or we can smile with
them and move on. I am not very good at smiling and moving on, but I
have been impressed by others' abilities to happily deal with wise
cracks. It is my goal to smile and move on . . . and remember the
wisecracks for my writing :)
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
I know I am not usually one to wax poetic, but with Thanksgiving practically upon us, my mind has pondered the many things I am thankful for. Please endure with me as I take a moment to be serious...but not too serious.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Saturday, November 21, 2009
- Ms. Meyer did not plan to write a book, but the concept for Twilight came to her in a dream, and she started writing in notebooks any spare moment she had to continue the story. The dream was the basis for chapter 13 of Twilight and she wrote to the end of the story before going back to do the beginning.
- At the time of said dream she had three kids under the age of five.
- After finishing the story, she still did not consider trying to get published, but was encouraged by her sister to do so.
- She received eight rejections from agents before getting an agent. It took her two years and a few months from the time she started writing it to having it on bookshelves.
- For New Moon, she didn't originally include the section at the end with the Volturi. She had planned to introduce them later in the series, but her Mom said she needed more action at the end.
I will leave it to individual judgement as to how you will interpret these tidbits, but it has proven to me again that there is no formula for becoming a phenomenon or making a gazillion dollars as an author.
Also, since I hadn't seen Oprah in a long time, it reminded me that the sketch about her "favorite things" shows on Saturday Night Live is really not much of an exaggeration (women's heads exploding, peeing their pants, etc. with excitement over Oprah's revelations). You should have seen the audience when she told them they were all getting the Twilight box set.
Friday, November 20, 2009
The Hunger Games is one of those books that I was very reluctant to read because it seemed so trendy. Everyone I knew, practically, was reading it, which left me feeling resistant to go with the flow. I felt the same way about the Harry Potter novels, the Percy Jackson books, and the Terry Brooks Shannara series (about a decade after they first started coming out). Also, I'd heard it ended on a cliffhanger, which made me hesitate to read it until I could see a sequel in print. Well, the sequel, Catching Fire, is out. And more good reviews from friends and acquaintances pour in.
Hunger Games is a straight dystopia with a very slight hint of post-apocalyptia (the dystopia is a result of the catastrophic civil war). Katniss Everdeen is sixteen years old and yet is the breadwinner for her struggling family: her widowed mother and younger sister, Prim. They live in the poorest district (twelve) in an empire ruled by the Capitol. In their district, people struggle to have enough food and shelter to live to see another day. Their main industry is mining, and so the coal miners and their families have very low quality of life. The Capitol government, after a rebellion from the districts more than seventy years ago, started an annual event to remind the districts of their subjugation: the Hunger Games. A boy and girl "tribute" are chosen by lottery from each district to represent their district in an arena fight to the death. The tribute drawing in District Twelve will change Katniss's life forever.
This novel is thoroughly enjoyable and is accessible to a wide audience, from middle-grade readers to adults. There are some darker themes and imagery that merit parent-children discussion for any youth reading it, but overall it crosses many audience borders.
The writing is very minimalist, clipping along at a good pace without overkill on character, scenery, or other narrative description. This is part of Suzanne Collins's talent: pacing her story to keep the reader constantly engaged and interested. She knows when to throw the next foil or twist in the plot, keeping the characters continually engaged in struggles that define them (thus describing them by their actions more than their words, thoughts, or narrator thoughts). Collins writes in first-person present, which is a risky POV. She pulls it off splendidly, and only occasionally is it a little jarring.
Thematically, Collins portrays the despotic government as a Roman Empire castoff, using such names as Cinna, Portia, and other imperial-themed monikers. This, I expect, she does to further immerse in the sense of a Roman arena fight and all the decadence and fall of morality associated with the corruption of the Roman Empire and its leaders. She marries these motifs very successfully (and believably) with the traces of the former U.S. government (as we know it). Just walking through Washington DC can quickly convey how much we are a New World Rome, and Collins gets that across--very subtly, to be sure.
The Hunger Games is an exceptional story, and I'd recommend it to just about everyone. It's a fast read, and, as mentioned earlier, has impeccable pacing that dismisses any pause or boredom.
The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins. 2008. Scholastic. 374 pp. $11.69 (HC).
Thursday, November 19, 2009
I love fortune cookies, especially the ones that say things like, "Your dreams will come true within the year" and "Your natural talent will shine forth."
Then there are also the bad cookies. "Don't go on a trip next week." "An unexpected surprise in on its way to you." What are you a stalker? Depending on the day that last one can be good or bad in my mind, but most often an unexpected surprise comes in the form of flat tires and overdue bills.
Sometimes fortune smiles on us and sometimes it is someone else's turn.
Here's how I see it: Life isn't fair because if we all got what we deserved all the time the fabric of the universe would crumble under the pressure to stay perfectly even. AND we would never learn from our mistakes or triumph unexpectedly while others struggle on. Just imagine what would happen in the love department if life were fair. Sheesh, don't get me started on that menacing spiral.
For one thing, there would be no fairy tales at all because Beauty would have turned the Beast over to the police and Cinderella would still be sleeping by the fire.
I'm glad that life isn't fair. I'm just wishing it was a good cookie day more often.
Anyone else have a good cookie story?
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
The girls, as soon as we were moving, shouted (that is the primary way of communication for 10-year-old girls) to the bus driver to play the Mile Cyrus song, Party In The USA. The super-cool bus driver obliged them and cranked up the song. Here is the surprising part: I was sitting next to my daughter (that part is NOT surprising, she still likes me--I know, my days are numbered). When the chorus came on, ALL the girls on the bus sang and danced along. By the time we returned to school the next day we had heard the song a total of 7 times. I had never heard this song before, I didn't know my daughter knew it either. I looked at her dancing and singing along and smiled.
My daughter, who is in a special advanced class, knew the songs, knew the bands, and knew what all the fifth grade girls knew--even though she is surrounded by braniacs. It was a great moment!
Part of the fun was that all the girls had fun. There weren't many pouters. There weren't many mean girls. These girls still had self-confidence--they hadn't been shot down by the trauma of middle school. It was just pure fun. And I got to be there and have fun with my daughter. It was a once-in-a-lifetime shot to be with her.
Sadly, the wheels of time will roll for these girls. They will grow up, they will suffer through adolescence, they will make decisions that will make us cry. I wish I could instill in every girl a knowledge that they are amazing, that they will survive if they will just persevere. I wish someone could tell my girls that they are special (they won't believe me, they know I am too biased).
Maybe we should take some time to tell these girls that they are special. Each one of them is amazing and bursting with potential. Maybe we can be the difference in a girls life because we took the time . . .
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
Last Wednesday our writers group had dinner with the ultra fabulous Bree Despain. She told us about her journey into authorship (which really could be a book in itself), and gave us some fabulous advice. I like Bree. A lot. She is down to earth, easy to talk to, and cute as a button. Because of this, I will admit, I was a little nervous to read an ARC of her book, The Dark Divine (available December 22). What if I didn't like it? What if it was poorly written? Could I still respect her in the morning?
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
After Apple-picking, by Robert Frost
My long two-pointed ladder’s sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still,
And there’s a barrel that I didn’t fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn’t pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.
I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough
And held against the world of hoary grass.
It melted, and I let it fall and break.
But I was well
Upon my way to sleep before it fell,
And I could tell
What form my dreaming was about to take.
Magnified apples appear and disappear,
Stem end and blossom end,
And every fleck of russet showing clear.
My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.
I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend.
And I keep hearing from the cellar bin
The rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in.
For I have had too much
Of apple-picking: I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth.
One can see what will trouble
This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.
Were he not gone,
The woodchuck could say whether it’s like his
Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,
Or just some human sleep.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
What a privilege it is to share with you my thoughts about Mark Shurtleff's book, "Am I Not A Man? The Dred Scott Story." I expected this book to be an important story and it did not disappoint.
It holds a magnifying glass to a pivotal moment in the history of our nation. Not the gun fired by an advancing army or the election of a president, but the moment that turned the tide of public opinion and apathy into an inferno of action and decision that led ultimately to the Civil War. It is a story of determination, faith in God and Justice, hope, friendship, loyalty and freedom.
Shurtleff weaves moving passages of narrative with historical accounts and events in a rich tapestry of story. There is a range of perspectives in the story from the main character, Dred Scott, to historical figures through generations. The enormity of Dred Scott's case is described through an array of times and places and people. At times the different characters and histories slow down the story and take it from a 'quick-read' to a more thoughtful inspiring novel. If you are looking for something to get your heart pumping and the adrenaline flowing with fast paced action then this is not what you're looking for. It will appeal to history buffs and to students of the Constitution. Anyone who wants to know, feel, and ponder the injustices of man will find all of it in this story.
Overall I feel like this story is something I can recommend to all of my friends as one of those stories that it is important to remember. Read it, love it, and live more like Dred Scott the 'little giant."
I hate conflict. I shy away from it. Even in books, if there is a particularly nasty, devious character, I hate them and struggle reading the book.
However, a book without conflict is very boring. And a writer cannot write a book that is all roses. (There is a reason why my nickname is rose.)
Last night at writers' Group I shared my story idea with the group and Sir Kirk-A-Lot kept wondering where the conflict was. I need more conflict and struggle. I need to let my characters fail (even though I never fail). Ha!
So now I have the daunting task of finding conflict, even though I want to stay away.
What I really need though is a great antagonist. My personal antagonist is time. Maybe that is young Mr. Jones' antagonist too.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Monday, November 9, 2009
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Friday, November 6, 2009
I have one friend on googlechat who always, always has something like "hmmm..." or "Jill is anxious" or "Jill is worried" or "Jill is waiting" and you're just about going nuts thinking, What the heck is going on? Inquiring minds must know the details!
I think I've come up with a way to cope with these tediously ambiguous posts. I make up little vignettes about what's happening. For example, when "Jill" has something like "Jill is dreading tomorrow..." I fill in the blank with "because she's going to find out that her husband is really a stinky werewolf" or "because she knows that the sky is falling." Or when "Jim" says he's worried, I figure he's probably worried that he has to pay protection money to the mob before they send Bruno over to break his legs or possibly worried that he's started to grow a third eyeball in the back of his head.
If you're going to tell the world what you're doing or feeling, let's be more specific, people!
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Judge One (let's call her Snarkaviscious) is a published romance author. She gave me 116,000 'you rock' points out of a possible 150,000 (point values have been exaggerated slightly) mostly taking points off for the formality of my voice. Her feedback went like this: "Although I was FORCED to judge you on mechanics such as mechanics/grammar etc., I do not think this is publishable as it is because your voice is so formal and stilted. My 13 year old daughter (let's call her Louis Denominator) wouldn't want to read this."
Judge 2 (let's call her Intelligencia the Editor) is a professional trained in writing. She gave me 142,000 YOU ROCK points out of 150,000. She made the following remarks. "You have a nice writing style and a great voice. Be careful of your pacing and comma splices (Yes, I missed some in the new material like 10. Shhh, Kirk.) You have an interesting plot and conflict"...yadda yadda
So here is my question: WHY is it that no matter who looks at this story I can't get a consensus of opinion? It seems that people either love it or hate it and for the exact same reasons. It's not like Snarkaviscious hated Kaya or thought she was uninteresting. She said my voice wasn't clever or edgy enough to be published. While Intelligencia touted the very things that the Snark hated saying that my voice was clear and readable.
Can I please get a great big GRRRRRRR! and maybe a hug? Cause I think I'm about to cry big ol' baby tears of frustration.
I am not new to rejection this is the umpteenth time this year I've dealt with it. Somebody please tell me why we as writer's keep subjecting our creative genius to this type of scrutiny and subjectivity. Is it insanity? Is there a pill to cure it?
When there is a minor ache somewhere, it is usually ignored. If I have some strange shooting pain in my toe, I'll ignore it until I can't walk anymore. If my eye feels weird, I'll ignore that till I need glasses.
I was raised with a nervous mother. She took my sister in so often for x-rays, the Dr. finally said that my sister couldn't have anymore--she was getting too much radiation. Since I have grown, I've become hesitant to rush to the Dr. Office. I hate hearing, "It's just viral, there is nothing we can do." Which translates to me, "You are a fool for coming here. You've wasted $30."
Then, this week, I got another minor ache, it is more uncomfortable than painful. It is just a little weird. I ignored it for a week and then decided I needed to see someone about it. You see, the reason why I'm rushing for medical help is that the little weirdness is happening in my heart.
The heart is kinda important. People have lived with amputated toes--some have even cut them off themselves. Very few people live with amputated hearts. So I rushed to the Dr. and today I get to have a little monitor attached to me to see what the heck is going on.
So, wish that little monitor luck--its got quite a day of running to do with me!
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Monday, November 2, 2009
Halloween left me a little shocked. And appalled. That's right, shocked and appalled. I could not believe the array of, dare I say, skanky costumes walking the streets (pun intended) this year. Here are a few examples of what I saw.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
I'm dedicating today's post to those women out there in this twisted, violent world who are suffering because of the ignorance and brutality of mankind, whether it be in the Taliban-benighted towns of Pakistan and Afghanistan or in a suburb of Cleveland. God loves you.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
What does this have to do with anything?
It's about creative adhesive. I have found that a little thematic duct tape can go a long way in my writing. I don't make walking robots out of paper and tape, instead I use blank paper to cough out my stories and sometimes I need a little plot adhesive.
I find myself saying, "What does this part/scene/twist mean?" And then finally an idea or theme emerges (my duct tape) that makes sense in every aspect of the plot and for all my characters. The truth of my hero is the lie of my villain. The saving grace for all the supportive characters either strengthen the truth or feed into the lie. One nice little bundle of story tied up with thematic duct tape.
What sticks your stories together?
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
They were delicate at first and falling from a blue sky. My children and I wondered at where they were coming from.
As night crept in the flakes became fiercer, as though now under the mask of darkness they could show their true power.
The night turned black with flashes of blizzard flying snow.
The grass fell victim to some of the crystals, but the warm earth quickly dispatched the weak flakes when they touched down.
The sadness of the first snow is this: I was too busy rushing from here to there to anywhere and nowhere, that I missed savoring the first snow of winter.
What has become of me that I missed the first snow?
Hopefully when the first "real" snow comes, I will be able to stop whatever I am doing and relish in the new snow: Walk through it in warm snow boots; look into the sky and watch the falling flakes like falling stars; shovel the walk and hear the crunch of ice; then curl up in a window with a good book and a warm blanket and watch the snow from the warmth of home.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
It's cold. (I'm writing this on Oct. 21st in Reno, NV). The sky is gray and I really want some hot chocolate. On the good side--I painted my house last winter so even though outside looks dismal, inside is like being inside a buttercup. Also, I'm in a really good mood for writing. So I'm rolling with it. Wish me luck!
It's Oct. 26th, still cold but not cloudy, I'm home from Girls' Weekend and I Can't. Wait. To. Write!!!!! I also can't wait for Thanksgiving, but since writing is something I can do right now, I think I'll start with that. :)
Monday, October 26, 2009
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Joining us for the fun were FOD's (Friends of Donna's) Lizz and Tawyna and honorary Inker Graham Chops.
JDG very generously answered all of our questions about what it is like to be a successful author and the whole writing and editing process, whilst we enjoyed BBQ.
She said the best advice she could give is to attend writing conferences, good conferences where you can get some face time with editors and pitch your project to them. She tried for nine years to get published by mailing things out and endured over 180 rejections (which she used to keep in a nice scrapbook, until it fell apart). Then, within about three months of pitching to editors at BYU's Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Workshop, she had signed a deal.
We also talked about balancing writing time and family time and came to the conclusion there is no magic formula for this, you just have to write when you can. Another subject was the value of being part of a critique group that is supportive, but also able to give constructive feedback.
We'd like to thank Jessica for spending time with us. It is always inspiring to get advice from known authors.
Jessica is currently editing the sequel to Princess of the Midnight Ball, titled Princess of Glass, due out in May of 2010. She also enjoys knitting, a skill passed down from her grandfather.
For more information on Jessica Day George, you may visit http://www.jessicadaygeorge.blogspot.com/.