Tuesday, June 30, 2009

book comments 17 and a reading adventure story

"The Right Hand of Evil" by John Saul
--general reaction: Meh.
--story of a family in which Satanic possession is passed down through the generations like an heirloom
--lots of long, confusing dream sequence stuff
--Teenagers who talk like 40-year-olds are not believable.
--I never really connected with any of the characters. I spent most of the book wishing the mom would grow a backbone and wondering if none of these people ever watched "The Exorcist."
--some very good imagery, though, especially the cathedral scenes
--Saul fans might like it, but I don't recommend.

"The Good Guy" by Dean Koontz
--story of mistaken identity leading to a high-thrills cat-and-mouse hunt between a serial killer and two innocent bystanders
--Can you already tell I thoroughly enjoyed this one? ;o)
--vivid, compelling characters, especially the main character --> loved him!
--a serial killer so charming it hurts --> excellent
--Koontz is the master of clever dialogue.
--an UPDA* read
--highly recommend

"Maia" by Richard Adams
--fantasy epic spanning 1223 pages
--story of a girl sold into slavery as a prostitute, does oodles of heroic stuff, and lives happily ever after
--This is one of the most complex stories I have ever read.
--way too much gratuitous sex in this one --> kinda freaks me out that a 62-year-old man wrote this
--too much description --> I appreciate that Adams made both the culture and the landscape into characters, but honestly, I skimmed at least a fourth of the book, thinking, "Just get on with the plot already!"
--In my opinion, the main character falls in love with the wrong person, and her obsession with him is not believable.
--incredibly vivid characters, imagery that puts detailed pictures into the reader's mind
--You might like this if you have thick skin, a strong stomach, and the stamina for sticking with a book that's 2.5 inches long (paperback).

"Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
--title says it all: The Bennett girls are zombie-killers, and so is Mr. Darcy.
--no complaints about this one, I loved and laughed my way through every moment of this read
--definitely UPDA*
--I love the irreverence of making a horror spoof out of a classic. SO fun.
--highly recommend

"Flight of the Raven" and "A Tapestry of Lions" by Jennifer Roberson
--books 7 and 8, respectively, of Roberson's "Shapechanger" series

I have a history with these books: For years, I have owned books 1-6 and 8 of the series. For years, I have read only books 1-6, because I refused to read 8 without reading 7. However, 7 has been out of print for for*ever* and I couldn't find a copy. Then, Roberson came out with omnibus editions of the series: four huge books containing all eight. Well, naturally I wasn't going to buy those simply in order to read one story, when I already owned seven of the individual novels!

Are you following me so far? ;o)

A couple of weeks ago, I visited a used bookstore with Celia. Out of curiosity and without intending to purchase anything, I was browsing through the fantasy section, when there! right before my eyes! there is a copy of book 7!!! Of course, I couldn't leave it there, and of course I bought it, and of course I started reading it immediately, and of course I fell in love with the story from the beginning, and of course I was enjoying it with every shred of my being, when...

...I got to page 116--and the next page was 85.


I checked again. Pages 1-116. Then pages 85-116 again, followed by pages 149-372.

Yeah, that's right. The pages in my copy of "Flight of the Raven" number 1-116, 85-116, and 149-372. This copy, WHICH I HAVE BEEN WAITING TEN YEARS TO GET MY HANDS ON, is missing the chunk of story spanning pages 117-148.

Which means my brain is still missing thirty-one pages of the "Shapechanger" series. So close...and yet, so far.


Dismay and chagrin do not quite cover it.

But moving right along. "Flight of the Raven" is still an amazing UPDA* novel, with a main character who just breaks your heart. And after I finished that one, I finally got to read "A Tapestry of Lions"--also quite UPDA and also with a main character a reader can fall in love with, not to mention one of the best, most spectacular endings I have ever read in a fantasy series.

Aside from the minor irritation of 31 missing pages, I am well satisfied. And I will read the series again...

...and continue the search for a complete, individual copy of book 7. Never give up, never surrender! ;o)

2009 Book Count To-Date: 27.

*UPDA = UnPutDownAble

Thursday, June 25, 2009

"writing time" --hahahahahahaha!

If you are a writer,

or if you are in any sort of relationship with a writer,

I encourage you to read this article.

Among other things, it outs us writers for the narcissistic, airheaded time-wasters we really are.

And I love it.

J.R. Lennon, the author of said article, gives a run-down of how he typically spends his writing time. I thought some of you might be interested in seeing how I typically spend mine:

8:00-8:30 Get up. Lately, this has taken place 1-2 hours later than noted here, but who's counting.

8:30-9:00 Check online stuff. Messages, email, Facebook, Bloglines, what-hast-thou. Sometimes, this takes 45 minutes, but who's counting.

9:00-10:15ish Prepare and eat breakfast while reading something not on the computer.

10:30ish Sit down at computer to start writing.

11:00 Force self to stop editing the results of previous day's writing. Start writing for real.

11:03 Go to bathroom. Get cleaned up for the day.

11:30 Pet cat. Get something to drink. Wonder why that line of dialogue reads janky.

11:31-11:36 Really get down to writing.

11:37 Check Facebook.

11:38-12:00 Reply to comments. Look up something on Wikipedia. Read and ponder what Angie wants to know in her status update. Possibly post reply.

12:01-12:26 Typing, leaning back in chair, backspacing, typing some more, turning around to fix back of chair, typing some more, reading aloud, deleting everything written today.

12:27 Wander into kitchen to check fridge for anything. Anything at all. Ponder whether or not Character X should just die and get out of the way.

12:30 Return to office with drink and stand there, staring at computer screen. Computer screen stares malevolently back.

12:31 Coo over cat and re-write scene in head.

12:35-12:55 Re-type scene with improvements, taking previous day's writing into account.

12:56-1:05 Find favorite funny scene and read aloud, giggling.

1:06-1:30 Check online stuff.

1:31-2:30 Prepare and eat lunch while reading something not on computer. Go to bathroom.

2:31-2:40 Check Facebook. Reply to comments. Ruminate on the benefits of moving on to a different scene and leaving current one alone until the Apocalypse.

2:41-3:00 Re-read everything written today. Write one line of dialogue and delete it. Copy and paste dialogue from Chapter 11 into Chapter 6.

3:01-3:45 Fix glaring plot hole in Chapter 6.

3:46-4:10 Check Facebook. Resist temptation to scrap everything written today.

4:11-4:30 Speed-type. Pass "Go," collect 200 metaphorical dollars.

4:30-6:00 Housework, optional cooking, errands, bills, other such.

6:01 Return to office

6:02-6:21 Speed-write amazing plot twist that popped into existence and hope the sudden mania is sated before Ed walks in the door.

Voy-oh-lay. The truth comes out. Take it from me, folks, ya gotta see it to believe it.

Have I mentioned that writing really swings my verge? Oh yeah. ;oD

Monday, June 22, 2009

the one where i pass the point of no return

I am desperate.
I am tired.
I am hungry.

And I am not talking about my physical condition.

The last few years have wrought a great many changes in my spirit. The last 14 months in particular have stripped my soul of a great many impediments that had been mucking up my vision for a long, long time. Over the last few days, I've had several heart-wrenching, intimate conversations that have led me to *want* to say the things I am about to say.

I won't say that "I can see clearly now." ;o)
But I will say that I have reached a point of clarity enabling me to say, "I don't know."

I don't know who or what God really is.
I don't know exactly how he goes about saving humans from being eternally separated from him.
I don't know what the afterlife is going to be like.
I don't know why good things happen.
I don't know why bad things happen.
I don't know any human who can set a satisfactory standard of "good" or "bad."
I don't know what the nature of the universe is.
Humans are primarily spiritual beings, but I don't know exactly what that means.
I don't know a great many things.

I can speculate about all these things. My speculations might even be tinged with hints of truth. But they remain speculations because, frankly my dear, my human brain is too puny to fathom the spiritual reality behind it all.

Here's what I do know. These things, I am sure of without a doubt:

God is.
God created humans, and he loves us.
Humans are primarily spiritual beings.
God hears each of us when we speak to him.
Jesus of Nazareth had a more personal, intimate, vulnerable, honest, transforming relationship with God than any other being that has ever existed.
Jesus was a safe place for people to be.
Jesus wanted/wants his followers to be safe places for each other and for every person they come into contact with.
If you look at Jesus, you will gain an idea of what God is like.
Religion means nothing. Relationships mean everything.
I want to become as safe a place for others as I can.

That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it. ;o)
That's my statement of faith.
That's my creed.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

i do dumb things sometimes

This time, I tried to light a match. Which, under ordinary circumstances, would not be a dumb thing to do. But I had just smeared lotion all over my hands, making my fingers too slick to get a good grasp on the match. So, instead of doing the smart thing and wiping the lotion off, I...

...tore the match out of the matchbook with my teeth,
clamped the head of the match between the front and back flaps of the matchbook,
and pulled really hard.

It did not occur to me that this would result in my holding a burning match in my teeth, with the flame about half an inch from my face.

I was startled enough to let go of the match, which obeyed the law of gravity by dropping to the floor. Some other natural law--having to do with combustion and chemistry, I suppose--also went into effect, keeping the match burning as it fell. Fortunately, I regained my presence of mind quickly enough to stamp out the flame before it could catch the carpet on fire.

So, dear children, the moral of the story is: obvious.

There's now a little stinging spot on my lip--not a burn from the flame itself, but from the spark as the match lit.


Sunday, June 07, 2009

in case you were wondering...

...I love being the person who handles the words. You need someone to take point in the challenge of traversing the jungles of syntax, vocabulary, and literary flair? I'll step up, and with my tools at the ready: bamboo knife for slashing through ambiguous verbosity--or a scimitar for beheading every Inner Editor that dares step onto the path too soon--or delicate clippers for trimming. Whatever's needed for getting from Writing Base Camp to Noveling Summit, I'll shoulder the pack and take the lead with a warcry of, "Onward! Hail Tawanda, Queen of the Amazons!"

Yup, I'm yer huckleberry. ;oD

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

people ask me where i get my ideas...

...and for me it works like this, and Sting says it better than I can:

"...The germ of the thing, and you work backwards from that. The procedure is very conscious, and very thought out but the actual lines that appear are really unconscious. I've got the germs of a few songs when I was half asleep. Just waking up...immediately have to rush to that piece of paper and write it down. I've read a lot about it. I've read a book called "The Act of Creation" by Arthur Koestler in which he scientifically analyses the moment of creative thought, where, according to him, the brain has different compartments and everything is well ordered, but in kind of semiconscious states those compartments sort of dissolve and ideas that should be in one place kind of seep into another and then you get a creative spark and something happens. And I would go along with that. I think that in a dreamlike state, you get ideas, but the actual hard work is a conscious thing. Once you get that idea you then, with a lot of discipline, piece it together."

Hot Press, 8/80

Most of my stories have started as dreams.