Sunday, August 31, 2008

Worth a Thousand Words

And now I give you... THINGS I DID THIS WEEK (in pictures):
  • Bought a notebook for nanowrimo (I start a new one for each successive novel; it's an excellent excuse to buy notebooks):
  • Made a Masque (which exudes coolness):
  • Watched Spirited Away (random and bizarre but gorgeous and strangely touching at the same time):
  • and Kung Fu Panda (ha. FUNNY.):
  • Read Austenland (amusing):
  • and Forever in Blue, aka Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 4 (I actually liked the movie better, but at least now I know how they compare):
  • Worked on the novel. I'm now finished with Chapter 5 of Part Two--nine chapters left to go! I'll definitely finish by the end of September, but the hoped for middle-of-the-month completion is not looking very likely at this point. Boo.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Edits, Pants, and Vampire Rants

So at some point I'll figure out how to make my header image the correct size. In the meantime, I apologize for making all of you tech-savy people out there cringe. :-)

But that's not the reason for this blog. The reason is... **duh duh DUHHHH** I finished editing Part One of The Whale and the Tree last night! Hip hip hooray!! I've gone back and read bits of it, and I'm quite happy with the changes I've made so far. It definitely feels like a stronger novel so far, with 50% less saltwater and 74% less melodrama (did you know that 83.5% of all statistics are made up on the spot?). Hacked through the first chapter of Part Two this morning, so there's only thirteen chapters left. *groan* I'm expecting everything to go pretty smoothly until I hit Chapter Five, when my adding/rearranging will kick in full force. Current word count is: 111,052, which is about 7k longer than the original draft. I'm thinking there will be somewhere around 9-10k added in Part Two, so hopefully this thing won't end up any longer than circa 120k. Hmm. We'll see I guess.

In other news...

I saw Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 this weekend, and I must admit it made me cry. *sniffles* I never read the fourth book and now I kinda want to, just to see how it relates to the movie; there were bits from books two and three in there, and I'm curious if the rest was from book four or if it was invented for the movie.

What is the big deal with the Twilight books, I mean seriously? Anything vampire makes me roll my eyes anyway, but man, has the public in general lost their minds? I read the first couple of pages and was immediately put off by the MC, a girl from Phoenix, who was moaning and groaning that she had to move to Washington state because she loved Arizona and especially the "blistering heat." Um I'm sorry, but no. I understand that there are people who don't mind the summers as much as I do, but no one actually adores blistering heat. If they tell you that, they're lying. Phoenix hate aside, everything I hear about these books makes me want to barf. Edward whatever-his-name-is sounds like a rather abusive boyfriend, and the whole scenario seems overly melodramatic. Yesterday Jenny told me the content of the latest addition to the saga, Breaking Dawn (not that she's read it; she was reading about it online) and wow. I really don't understand what people see in these books.

I often peruse the shelves of the Young Adult Fantasy sections at my local bookstore. I adore YA fantasy, which is why I write it. But let's face it. Sometimes it sucks. I don't know if this bodes well for my chances of getting published or not. In comparison to current YA fantasy, The Whale and the Tree has:
  • No vampires
  • No werewolves
  • No fairies
  • No elves
  • No wizards
  • No telepathic dragons
  • No quests for lost objects
  • No secret identities
  • No epic bloody battles.
And yes. It is possible to write a fantasy novel without including any of the above.

Anyways, enough ranting. Gotta brush my teeth and head off to piano lessons.

Offended by crappy fiction,


Sunday, August 17, 2008

January Twenty the Seventh

So here's a fun game for all of you Wikipedia lovers out there (thanks to Jenny, who tagged me). Look up your birthdate (month and year), then choose four events, three births, two deaths, and one holiday amongst the ones listed and post them on your own blog. You might learn some fascinating things. :-) So, without further ado, I give you in all its glory the illustrious

January Twenty the Seventh:

  1. 1142 - Wrongful execution of noted Song Dynasty General Yue Fei.
  2. 1186 - Henry VI, the son and heir of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I, weds Constance of Sicily.
  3. 1825 - U.S. Congress approves Indian Territory (in what is present-day Oklahoma), clearing the way for forced relocation of the Eastern Indians on the "Trail of Tears."
  4. 1967 - Apollo program: Apollo 1 - Astronauts Gus Grissom, Edward White and Roger ChaffeeKennedy Space Center are killed in a fire during a test of the spacecraft at the Kennedy Space Center.
(there's a lot of death and horribleness in here. Sad. :-( One wedding, at least.)

  1. 1756 - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Austrian composer (d. 1791)
  2. 1832 - Lewis Carroll, English author (d. 1898)
  3. 1948 - Jean-Philippe Collard, French pianist
(I didn't know I shared a birthday with Lewis Carroll. Cool. I think there's music/writing in my blood. Or something.)

  1. 1901 - Giuseppe Verdi, Italian composer (b. 1813)
  2. 1595 - Sir Francis Drake, European explorer (b. c.1540)
(More music. And I knew I was destined to travel the world!)


In the UK, Germany, Poland, Italy, and Denmark, January 27th is Holocaust Remembrance/Memorial Day. I did not know this either.

Anyways, kudos to Jenny for the tag!

Almost finished with the next-to-last-chapter in Part One,


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Book of a Thousand Days/Editing Update

I just finished Shannon Hale's Book of a Thousand Days this evening and I LOVED it. Don't know what else to say really, except go pick up a copy right now!! The prose is beautiful and rhythmic, the plot fascinating--and surprising!--and the characters well-drawn. Such a rich work of prose, Shannon Hale completely draws you in, her histories and background compelling, her world believable. It starts out when lady's maid Dashti and Lady Saren get shut up in a tower for seven years because Saren refuses to marry the suitor chosen for her. Dashti keeps an account of their adventures in her journal, and the imprisonment in the tower turns out to be just the beginning...

That's all I'm going to say. Don't want to spoil anything. :-)

On the editing front, I started Chapter Eleven today. Sadly didn't get very far, partly because I'm slightly stuck, but mostly because I got super interested in the aforementioned Book of a Thousand Days and had to sit down and read the remaining three-quarters of it before I could think about anything else. :-) But. Only two chapters to go before the end of Part One. I really want to make it by this weekend, but that would involve seriously getting my butt in gear. So we'll see.

Discovered this site about literary agents a couple of days ago. Quite helpful, but rather overwhelming, too. I'm realizing that this is not exactly going to be an easy process. BUT I know it's possible and I'm determined to do it just the same. The Whale and the Tree will be hitting bookstores within the next couple of years. *gets out her determined eyes*

Other than that not too much to report, I fear. Still enjoying Imrahil. I have my first piano lesson since May tomorrow, and am getting slightly nervous. Hopefully it'll go well, I've been practicing Chopin and Beethoven quite furiously!

It rained tonight, a little. The sky was glorious and dark, with bits of setting sun peeping through and I went for a walk and got almost-but-not-quite soaked. It was quite refreshing. I don't think anything is as beautiful as rain in the desert. Regrettably, it didn't last more than fifteen or twenty minutes, but you gotta take what you can get I guess.

And I think that about wraps it up.

Rainy thoughts to you and yours,


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

When all else fails, just use cloth

So I've been stuck in the same scene in The Whale and the Tree since Saturday. This is not good, as I'm really really hoping to have part one finished by August 15th, and I still have almost five whole chapters to rewrite. Eek.

It was a brand new scene, and I was quite excited about it initially (it all sounded quite brilliant in my head), but I couldn't seem to get my characters where they needed to be in the conversation. I wrote the beginning, I wrote the end, but I couldn't for the life of me find a middle. So I did what anybody would do in my situation. I asked Jenny for help.

She had a very sensible solution: Just use cloth.

This sounded excellent, but even then I was having trouble with the execution* of the cloth, and she had another sensible suggestion: write a Teen Girl Squad version of the scene. So I did. And it worked. And I am now unstuck. Below is the silly version, for your enlightenment, er, amusement.

*No actual cloth was harmed in the writing of this scene.

The Scene

Talia (the heroine), Caiden (she loves him), Wen (she's betrothed to him), and the Countess (her mother) are having tea.

Wen: “I think you should treat your daughter better.”

Countess: “I’m going to be your mother-in-law. I’m scary, manipulative and demanding. Watch what you say around me.”

Wen: “Sorry.”

Countess: “Speaking of weddings, do you have cloth?”

Wen: “Why yes, I do have cloth. Funny you should mention that. I certainly haven’t forgotten this long-standing tradition, but I have felt much too awkward and shy around Talia to actually present her with the cloth. See, I love her, but she loves my brother, and that doesn’t really work out for me.”

Countess: “I don’t care. Get her the cloth.”

Wen: “Okay.”

*Sends servant for cloth*

*Servant brings cloth*

*Wen gives Talia cloth*

Talia: “Um I don’t really want this.”

Countess: “Too bad. Don’t forget, you were contracted to marry him by the Empress who really would have no way of knowing if you didn’t marry him, so you’d better do it.”

Caiden: “I feel awkward.”

Talia: “I feel awkward.”

Wen: “I feel awkward.”

Countess: “I feel powerful. I like controlling people’s lives.”

Talia: “I can’t stand this awkward conversation anymore. I’m going to pretend I’m tired and gracefully excuse myself.”

Countess: “Kiss Wen.”

Talia: “Um, no.”

Countess: “Do it.”

*Talia kisses Wen*

Talia: “That was awkward.”

Wen: “That was awkward.”

Caiden: “That was awkward.”

Talia: “I’m leaving now.”

*Talia runs away, tears cascading liberally down her cheeks as her heart feels like it’s being splintered into a thousand pieces, dashed to the floor, ground into paste, forged into glass, and shattered eleven or twelve times after that*

The End

So that is that. Didn't really turn out all that Teen Girl Squad-ish, but it certainly got the job done. Props to Jenny. Rest of Chapter Eight... Prepare to die!!

More peculiar than usual tonight,


Friday, August 1, 2008

Book Review: Princess Academy, by Shannon Hale

Just finished reading Princess Academy. (And yes, I do realize when I blogged this morning I wasn't even halfway through yet. What can I say? I didn't have any hot dates tonight. ;-))

I thought it was charming and sweet, one of those quiet kinds of books that has a nice rhythm to its story and its language. I did get the feeling it was aimed at a rather younger audience than most YA fiction, and there were parts of the storyline that felt a little off to me, especially the characterization of the bandits towards the end. The concept of that whole section was really cool, and I loved the hostages-in-the-snow scene, but the bandits themselves seemed rather flat to me.

Loved the world Shannon Hale created: Mount Eskel and the mining (and trading) of linder stone; the whole concept of quarry-speech, a sort of telepathy using shared memories; and the depiction of life on the side of a mountain, complete with sharing houses with goats!

Miri, the main character, was quite spunky and adorable, though her conflicting desires--did she want to stay on the mountain or be a princess in the lowlands?--did get a trifle annoying sometimes.

I do think the book could have been longer, not that it ended too soon (though I'm always game for long endings), just that it felt a little rushed, a little condensed in parts that could have used more development.

But I did like it. Different enough from other books of the same ilk to have its own unique flavor, yet managing somehow to still feel comfortable (if that makes any sense at all). Towards the end it reminded me of Crown Duel, a book I absolutely adore and have read a billion times, so that is a definite compliment. Princess Academy made me smile, and I must admit I benefited from a few warm fuzzies in the last few pages.

A solid 4 (out of 5) stars.


So it's Friday, end of the week (nearly). What have I accomplished this week? I'm glad you asked.
  1. I finished editing Chapter Seven of The Whale and the Tree. I should be working on Eight right now, but I'm procrastinating to write this blog instead (also, I'm slightly stuck).
  2. I read through most of The Rose Queen and discovered to my chagrin that the MC cries on nearly Every Single Page; Jenny has kindly brought this to my attention (thanks). The embarrassing thing is that 90% of these ridiculously frequent saltwater escapades could be completely nixed without affecting the story one whit. Oops.
  3. I've subscribed to Writer's Digest. They sent me this ridiculously good deal through the mail so I signed up and am now awaiting my first issue... which probably won't come until sometime in September. But that's all right. I've plenty of editing to occupy me in the meantime.
  4. Imrahil got tuned this morning. He now sounds absolutely perfect. :-)
I think that about hits all the highlights. Excessively exciting, I know. Reading is going pretty slow--I generally don't do very well reading several things at once and usually end up reading them one at a time. Not quite halfway into Princess Academy, which I'm liking pretty well, though Goose Girl was a bit more up my alley. I'll give you the final review when I'm done, of course.

I'd like to take this moment to talk about Scrivener. As a lot of you know, Pippin, my faithful (mostly) Dell laptop gave up the ghost in January, and I adopted my adorable MacBook, Sam, to take his place. Sam proved his worth by sticking with me throughout the latter 100k of The Fire in the Glass (it's rather disconcerting to switch computers in the middle of a first draft!!), and I'm quite excited to be noveling with him in November. I am, however, thoroughly sick of Word. It's all right for the PC, but for one reason or another completely sucks on Mac, and there's just a lot of things it simply can't do. I've been using the Mac-only program Scrivener for the rewrite of Whale and the Tree and absolutely adore it. I will be purchasing this when the 30-day trial runs out! I love the note cards feature; it's been excessively helpful with all the scene rearranging I needed to do, and lets you see your whole story at a glance. I also adore the full screen mode. I'm really excited about using Scrivener for NaNoWriMo this year--I thoroughly expect it to be just as amazing during the outlining and first draft stages as it is with editing.

Okay, that's about as techy-nerdy as this blog will ever get, and I'm done now. I'll just close by bemoaning the fact that I don't live in England.

Till next time!