29 May 2013

June Bendiness

It's the 29th May. That means there are only two days left until June. And THAT means there are only two days left until...

*drum roll*

BuNoWriMo 2013!!!

Logo by Joris Ammerlaan Design

Say what?

I said, there are only two days left until BuNoWriMo 2013!

Now, for the uninitiated, I suppose I should explain...

This is a writers blog (well, for the most part, although you will find random posts of silliness sandwiched between the writerly stuff), and if you are a writer, then there is about a 99% chance that you know what NaNoWriMo is. Okay, NaNoWriMo isn't exactly the same thing as BuNoWriMo. Except that it is. Mostly. Well, apart from the cheating thing.

For that 1% of the writerly population that are scratching their heads (or have possibly hit the 'x' in the corner of their screen to get away from the rambling blog post), I'll briefly explain what it's all about.

1 - You write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.
2 - Er, that's it.

The FAB part of this whole WriMo deal is that when you sign up for the madness, you are not only pledging your intent to write a novel in a month, you are automatically thrust into a community of like-minded (crazy) people, who will offer encouragement, virtual cookies, advice, and sometimes pictures of hot men. Okay, that last one is probably just my own wishful thinking, but honestly, cheer leading can take many forms, and if a hot guy wants to wave his pom-poms at me, I'm not going to lie, I'd be very encouraged.

Anyway. The main NaNoWriMo event happens every November, but not everyone has the time to commit during that very busy time of year. In June, however, there aren't any festive distractions, and with it coinciding with many end-of-academic years all over the world, it's just timing-friendlier.

But what was that you mentioned about cheating? Ah, yes... well, actually, it's not that we cheat. We're just bendy. Technically, if you were following the original NaNoWriMo rules, you would start writing your brand new bestseller (what? I can't be optimistic?) on the first day of the challenge. Then you would write at least 1,667 words every day of the month, and hey presto, you have a Jackie Collins on your hands (merely a reference, not a requirement. Not everyone can write a sex-filled soap opera. Not everyone would even want to write a sex-filled soap opera. But you know what I mean. Whoops. Totally digressed there).

But at BuNoWriMo, we are, as I said, bendy. (Actually, so are a lot of Jackie Collins' characters too, now that I think about it). ANYWHO! Bendy for us is nothing like JC Bendy - bendy for us just means that anything goes (EEK...which is kinda like JC bendy. Perhaps I should have used  another reference *shifty*).

You can sign up for half a month if you can't make the full thirty days. You may only need to write a 30k novella, not a full 50,000 words, but that's fine too! You may have ten thousand words buried in your files - now might be the time to add to it and turn it into a novel!

See how bendy we are? The main goal is to stop you procrastinating and get you to DO something. And you know, I just had my first WriMo novel published, so there is always a future book deal to add as enticement. *winks*

How do you take part?


Just go to our BuNoWriMo  page on Facebook, and request to join. And that's it. So what are you waiting for? Come join the bendies!

20 May 2013

Writers I Wish Would Hurry Up

So before all the writers reading this go yelling at me about lead times and copy edits and hard drive failures, I know, I know, I know, there are many factors that can delay the release of the next book in a series.  Really, I do know.  And I also know that even though I can read most books in a day or less, it's going to be a good year or so between regularly scheduled releases anyway.  But when I'm left hanging in the middle of a trilogy and there's not a peep about when Book 3 is coming out, AND Book 2 was released well over a year ago... I mean, I just wanna know what happens!  And and, we've had a few authors actually stop by here and comment when we mention their stuff, so who knows, maybe this'll pull one or two out of the woodwork for an update.  I can dream, right?  (And the reason there are no cover pictures is because... there are no covers! *grumble mutter*)

Kaza Kingsley - Erec Rex series

I've mentioned these on various posts before, but at the moment am dying to read Book 6.  Except there's not a peep about it that I could find, and Book 5 was released in February 2012.  Nothing at B&N, or Amazon, and nothing on the series site either - hell, that's still saying to pre-order #5.  Unless I'm completely screwy, this sucker is supposed to be an 8-book series.  I know it changed publishers or something between #2 and #3, and I really hope that didn't happen again, because I want to know how this ends.

Elizabeth C. Bunce

Her first novel, a standalone, was excellent (it's a Rumpelstiltskin retelling titled A Curse Dark as Gold).  Then she started a trilogy (I THINK it's a trilogy), and I adored the first two volumes.  But the second (Liar's Moon) was released in November 2011, and there's no sign of the conclusion.  Nothing on her website, and again not a peep at the major book hubs.  Digger (aka Celyn) is such a great character, and I love the worldbuilding going on with this series, so please pretty please I can haz book?

Jaclyn Dolamore

So technically she released a DIFFERENT book (Between the Sea and Sky) after Book 2 in this trilogy, but even that was last year.  It's been 15 months since Magic Under Stone came out, and after that ending, she leaves us hanging?  Not a peep about Erris and Nimira that I found, and as with the others on this list, I'm dying to find out how it all works out.

Lev Grossman

Now him I actually met, and I'd swear he said there was more to come, but here we are well over a year after the release of The Magician King, and... zip.  His blog says he's working on The Magician's Land, so I guess that's the third one, but I would really love to get my hands on it.  And I'm not the only one, I've got several coworkers lamenting the lack of Book 3 as well...

Laini Taylor

Generally speaking, I am not into the whole "angels and demons" thing (don't even go to Dan Brown, seriously), but I really got into Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and then waited and waited for Days of Blood and Starlight, and then it's been all wait wait wait wait BUT!  She updated her blog with, at least, a title for Book 3, and it's Dreams of Gods and Monsters.  And now I want to read it even more!  (And so does my roommate.  If that matters.)

And the two big ones, who do regularly update blogs and do tours and talk to fans and stuff so we know they're working on SOMETHING, and yet and yet and yet:

Patrick Rothfuss - The Kingkiller Chronicles

Kvothe, where art thou?  Seriously, I think at least half of my fantasy-loving geek crowd would sacrifice body parts to get their hands (if they didn't sacrifice THOSE) on Day 3.  And if there's anyone reading this who is not familiar with this series, go read it so you can join us in our angst.  I bang on about worldbuilding, but this one is amazing - completely immersive and believable and with staggering amounts of depth.  Must.  Have.  STORY!!!

George R. R. Martin - A Song of Ice and Fire

HBO, endless delays, blah blah blah blah WINDS OF WINTER NOW PLEASE.  Do I really need to say anything else?

So what are you dying to read?  And do you know more than I do about any of the above?  It's been a while since we got a good discussion going in the comments, so have at it!

16 April 2013

Marathon Monday... Massacre?!?!

Most years I go out on Patriot's Day to cheer on the runners.  I like the halfway point - 13.1 miles down, and oh-my-god-I-have-this-much-still-to-go? can be a rough place, so what the hell, I go out and hop up and down and cheer them on.  It's hard, running.

But with the earlier start time the past few years, and a later work time for me, and just getting over a fever, well, I went home after work today instead.  Figured I'd check for the results after I'd had some lunch. 

But around 3:00, a strange post popped up on my Facebook newsfeed.  "[Boyfriend] and I are fine," it said.  "Nowhere near the blast."  Blast? I thought.  What blast?  Then another one, from a friend who moved to NYC a few years ago but grew up here in Beantown.  "BOSTON, CHECK IN!" read this one.

So I did what any sensible TV-less person would do and popped up a couple of local news sites on my laptop.  Holy hell, did I regret that decision a few moments later.  Bombs, blood and Boylston may be euphonious in their alliteration but they are NOT a happy combination of words.  I quickly posted my own "I'm fine" message and started checking my own list of friends, especially runners.  No one I know was involved, to my knowledge, and yet this is MY CITY, damnit, you don't go BLOWING UP RUNNERS, or LITTLE KIDS, and you sure as hell don't do it in front of the BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY!!!

Angry much?  Oh yes, I'm angry.  This weird holiday that we celebrate here in Massachusetts, this whole Patriot's Day - Lexington and Concord, anyone?  The Boston Marathon is the oldest in the world - the first one was run in 1897, a year after the first modern marathon was held at the first Olympics in Athens - and you can't just sign up, you have to qualify for this thing.  Inasmuch as this young country HAS history, well, this is it. And to the scumbag(s) who thought they'd blow some stuff up today, I have devised a lovely punishment for you.

All those runners who were forced to abandon the race after the detonations?  The ones who'd been training for months and running for hours and didn't get to cross the finish line because of YOU?  Well, when you're caught, all those runners should be allowed to complete the distance they were denied.  Over your body.  Wearing cleats.

This is Boston.  We're not going to put up with this bullshit.

All was not gloom and horror today, though.  On a personal level, it was rather reassuring to receive numerous texts, calls and messages from people wanting to find out if I was okay.  And my 22-month-old nephew popped out his first sentence today (it was "Daddy, sit down" if you care - closely followed by "Auntie, get down" {yeah, all right, I was up a tree}).  The sheer number of people volunteering to put up runners and family members displaced or stuck here due to the chaos.  The outpouring of support from the rest of the world (even Yankees fans!  You know it's big if they're on board).

But Marathon Monday will never be the same.

20 March 2013

Never Give Up!

Original image

Hello! Remember me? You probably don't, seeing as I haven't contributed a post here for longer than I'd care to admit. But I am still alive, and I wanted to pop by and give you all a motivational message. *nods firmly*

I am a procrastinator, and therefore rarely manage to finish things that aren't important. I finish the stuff that needs to be done, but not so much the stuff that should be done. It's a lifelong habit, and one that I'm never likely to break.

So when I started writing back in - 2004? 2005? - I never really thought that I could ever produce more than a few short stories. Initially I wrote fan fiction. A really bad first one, followed by marginally better ones. I had a place where I posted a number of short stories - no more than a couple of thousand words long - and I had a few longer length stories, which I updated (in)frequently. Now, to understand the severity of my dithering, I will tell you that I only finished four of the longer length stories, and apart from the first one, they all took a couple of years to write. I unfortunately had an equal amount of unfinished works. So my record wasn't that great.

Now, back in 2009, I finally gave in a joined the NaNoWriMo event that everyone was urging me to sign up to. I also started my own blog - and to further demonstrate my procrastinating habit, it is worth noting that in three and a half years, I'm still a couple of posts away from my 300th blog entry. *shifty*


I did finish my NaNo adventure! Which is GOOD!! Though I proceeded to let it collect dust for two whole years, which is BAD. *shifty once more*

You see how my dithering is a problem? But this is supposed to be a motivational post, and this is the bit that I wanted to share with you.

After letting it sit for so long, I went back and tidied up my manuscript. True, I then waited another six months before doing anything with it, but I was on the right track. Back in September last year, I subbed it to a couple of publishers, not expecting anything groundbreaking to happen. I was, of course, correct, and duly heard back from both publishers in January, saying 'thanks, but no thanks'.

So where is this motivational message?? Well, I decided to send out to another four publishers, and if I had the same response, I decided I would overhaul the manuscript before subbing it further. But shock of shocks, I heard back within a couple of weeks, and it was a big fat 'YES'!! This was early in February, and on April 29th, just a few short weeks away, my NaNo baby will be released as an e-book!

Now, you'll notice that I haven't mentioned the title of my book, or any identifying details at all really, because this post isn't about me. Well, technically it is, as I've told you my story (which is, after all, all about me) but I needed to demonstrate the reasoning behind my motivational meanderings. *nods again*

You see, if I can do it, so can YOU!!

So... never give up, and just keep swimming!

11 March 2013

Asian-Inspired Fantasy

Okay, hands up - how many of you have read a fantasy set in some kind of quasi-European-medieval world?  Given the rampant popularity of series like Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones, probably nearly everyone who reads any fantasy at all, I'm guessing.  But an interesting new trend has been making its way into English-language fantasy in the past few years, and that's worldbuilding inspired by Asian cultures instead, and I for one find it quite refreshing.  Here are a few titles to whet your appetites - feel free to add more in the comments!

Dark Heavens and Journey to Wudang - Kylie Chan

Two linked trilogies set in modern-day Hong Kong with more than a little overlay of mythic gods and demons - weekend escape, check!  Australian national Emma Donahoe is hired as the nanny for motherless 4-year-old Simone - and then all hell breaks loose (okay, okay, not ALL hell, just some of the lesser denizens - at least at first).  With ancient Chinese deities like the White Tiger popping over for tea, martial arts like they've never shown in the movies, and a host of very relatable characters populating the roles, these are highly enjoyable Australian imports that kept me flipping pages well past bedtime.

Vessel - Sarah Beth Durst

Durst is an extremely flexible writer (her previous YA title was Drink, Slay, Love - teen vampires AGAIN), and Vessel is set in what feels like a quasi-Mongolian desert society. Liyana is the Goat Clan's chosen representative to host their deity - basically meaning that her mind will die and the goddess possesses her body for the rest of its life.  Nevertheless, she follows all the rituals and preparations, yet when the day arrives, the goddess does not.  Abandoned by her tribe, she is found by a boy whose god DID arrive, who tells her that quite a few of the deities seem to have gone AWOL...  Well-written and highly enjoyable, with a side-plot that seems totally separate until they finally merge.

Book of a Thousand Days - Shannon Hale

More Mongolian-inspired scenery here, with a side of the Brothers Grimm. Dashti, a maid from the lower (or "mucker") class, gets herself walled up in a tower with her mistress, Lady Saren, who has refused to marry - well, a jerk, basically.  Their sentence is for seven years, but after they are abandoned and forgotten, Dashti manages to get them out - and then it REALLY gets good.  This is my favourite of Hale's books (and I think I've read them all, save the graphic novels {I just don't do those}), despite it being one of the few standalones.  So very very lovely.  Go read it.

Lunar Chronicles - Marissa Meyer

While we're on the fairy-tale thing, how about a Cinderella story set in post-WWIV New Beijing? Except Cinderella is a cyborg, and only one of the stepsisters is horrible, and there are androids and plague and oh yeah, there's a whole society on the moon, and boy are THEY scary...  Yeah.  Try to keep up.  This is projected to be a 4-book series, the first two of which are already out (Cinder and Scarlet), each one based on a different fairy tale but part of the same story arc (Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White, if you're curious).  The worldbuilding is thorough and very believable, the pacing is fast, and even though you know how those fairy tales end, it's a brilliant ride getting there.

Prophecy - Ellen Oh

It's probably time for a side trip to Korea by now. Kira is niece to the king, bodyguard to her cousin the prince, and generally feared and loathed by the general public for her demon-slaying skills (which no one is really supposed to know about... but everyone knows about).  I really like the premise and the story (with three treasures to find, I'm pretty sure this is going to be a trilogy), but I have to say I wasn't too thrilled with the writing.  The voice was somehow too modern for the setting, and most of the obstacles they faced were overcome a bit too easily for a YA title (Young Reader, okay, but the girl is 17 here).  I'm hoping that gets fixed in the next one, because it's really quite promising, it just fell flat.

City of a Thousand Dolls - Miriam Forster

Here we have a bit of a mashup of Southern Asia and Eastern Asia, complete with a two-child limit per family and a rather novel solution to the dreaded extra-girls problem (note the sarcasm, please).  Orphaned or unwanted female children are dumped off at the City of a Thousand Dolls, and once assigned to one of six houses, they go about their lives learning what they'll need to know to be wives, apprentices, or what-have-you.  Except for Nisha - she's not a part of any house, but the Matron's assistant, who thinks she'll finally be "Redeemed" and get to leave... except wait, murder mystery time!  I do love it when my favourite genres get mixed, and this one has cats thrown in there too, so yep, right up my alley!

Eon - Allison Goodman

Yeah, I've mentioned this one before, whatever, I LOVE IT.  Here our main mythology is inspired by the twelve signs of the Chinese zodiac, each of which has an energy dragon associated with it.  It's also full of wonderful characters, a hell of a lot of gender-bending, quests and battles and DRAGONS, woo-hoo!  The cripple Eon presents himself as a candidate to be chosen by one of the dragons - except he's a she in disguise, and lo and behold, the Dragon Dragon (aka the Mirror Dragon, who hasn't been seen in centuries) turns up and chooses her.  Cue chaos.  Only two in this "series", but they're amazing.

Throne of the Crescent Moon - Saladin Ahmed

Hey, the Arabian peninsula is still part of Asia.  We've got ghuls (and the guys who hunt them), we've got thieves, we've got murder and mayhem and snotty royals and - okay, I admit it, I haven't finished this one yet (had to take my roommate out for dinner for her birthday, and I forgot to factor that in to my reading time.  Oops.).  So far, though, I'm really enjoying this tale, even if I do have the "Arabian Nights" song from Disney's Aladdin totally running on repeat through my head now.  The writing is very sensory - after I read the first chapter, I just had to go make myself a mug of chai, so be warned.  Warned is probably not the right word here - it's immersive though, which, when there's a foot of snow on the ground outside and a desert in the pages, is just fine with me!

Stormdancer - Jay Kristoff

Okay, I admit I haven't read this one yet, but I'm adding it on the strong recommendation of a trusted friend.  Besides, Japanese steampunk?  Yes please!  It starts off with a pretty polluted Japan (which is weird right off the bat), there appears to be some kind of griffin-like creature, and a kick-ass 16-year-old heroine.  Yep, sounds good to me, sign me up!  Erm, after I finish the previous one on this list.  So I got a little over-ambitious, what else is new?

06 March 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Weaving Dreams

So, I  don't feel comfortable giving writing advice to our readers who are already established authors. I am a fledgling writer and still need more development in organizing my thoughts into a cohesive, coherent and sophisticated fictional tale.  However, I decided to go the other route.  No descriptive paragraphs.  Just pictures.  Just dreams.  Weaving dreams.

Arlington Row, Bibury, UK

26 February 2013

Happy Birthday, Leanne!

DUDE!  Happy birthday!
Look, everybody knows!
even the hedgies...
erm... and him... hummina hummina...
Or the value pack...
All topped off with a viola cake...
Have a fantastic birthday. Leanne!!!

18 February 2013

Monday Musings: Chary's thoughts on A-Z 2013 Challenge

I'm really excited about this A-Z Challenge.  I attempted them in the past and never really pulled through to the end.  Okay, I abysmally failed after the first week.  Like a paradigm shift, I realized where I went wrong- I didn't PLAN AHEAD.  I don't have an explanation why nor do I even understand how this incredibly essential component of a month-long bloghop eluded me for so long. 

However, this has been remedied.  So far, I have decided on the theme, drabbles and photographs.  By doing this now, there will be more time for me to visit blogs in April.  

Drabble- n. story told in exactly 100 words.
Word-count Tool

I will be participating on the A-Z 2013 Challenge on Bronx Tales & Inner Musings.  Come and join the fun!  For more information, please click here.

Take care,

04 February 2013

Reading Monday: Book Review

Hello sweetie!!!  Dr. River Song here . . . Oh wait, nope.  Chary here bringing you my current reading list book review thingamajiggy with an additional recommendation from my nine-year-old daughter, Zionne.  With family, graduate school and work, you are probably thinking, "How does she do it?"  I have no flipping idea.  I sneak-read on my iPad as often as I can- on the train, on the bus, even on the boat.  I kid you not.  On Staten Island, we are accustomed to three forms of transportation when venturing into Manhattan.  But I digress . . . 

Just Read-
I am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

I made the mistake of watching the movie and then reading the book.  I was somewhat skeptical at first, however, I truly enjoyed reading this science fiction, young adult novel.  The protagonist, John and his protector, Henri are alien life forms from a planet called Lorien.  They are being chased by the Mogadorians, a barbaric alien race that has laid waste to Lorien.  John must master his emerging supernatural powers before he can claim his Legacy.

I have also read several textbooks, specializing in education law and policy, but will not give a review.  I don't want to kill you with legal and educational jargon.  :)

Currently Reading-
At my job, we decided to begin a book club.  Well, only a handful of people in our school office have joined but word will spread of all our partying and fun and they will come.  Book Club at my job, really in my office

The Between by Tananarive Due

Because I have just begun to read this science fiction novel, here is amazon.com book snippet:

When Hilton was just a boy, his grandmother sacrificed her life to save him from drowning. Thirty years later, he begins to suspect that he was never meant to survive that accident, and that dark forces are working to rectify that mistake.
When Hilton's wife, the only elected African-American judge in Dade County, FL, begins to receive racist hate mail, he becomes obsessed with protecting his family. Soon, however, he begins to have horrible nightmares, more intense and disturbing than any he has ever experienced. Are the strange dreams trying to tell him something? His sense of reality begins to slip away as he battles both the psychotic threatening to destroy his family and the even more terrifying enemy stalking his sleep. Chilling and utterly convincing, The Between follows the struggles of a man desperately trying to hold on to the people and life he loves, but may have already lost. The compelling plot holds readers in suspense until the final, profound moment of resolution.

 Zionne's pick of the week for the little kiddies is:

Sweet Farts, Book 1 by Raymond Bean  

Yes, my daughter chose a book about the expulsion of methane from one's anus.  In the words of Mrs. Puff, "Why?  Spongebob!  Why?"  However, perhaps it is a grade school thing but somehow kids just love anything that is gross!  Anywho, that is a whole other post.

This is a hilarious book about the protagonist's, Keith, adventure in finding a cure for the fart.  He endeavors on a scientific journey of discovering the conversion of a foul-smelling, noxious fume into a sweet, delectable and enticing aroma of heavenliness.  To keep it simple, he is making Sweet Farts!  My daughter highly recommends this book for individuals of all ages.  

For channel 4 news, I'm Veronica Corningstone.  Thanks for stopping by San Diego. . . Damn, can't keep up with all these personalities!  

Take care and have a great week,
Chary Perez

01 February 2013

ALA Winners

Okay, so I'm the adult who reads a ton of kidlit, so what?  It's better than ever these days, and Monday's list of award winners had many wonderful titles on it (especially the Morris, for a debut author, which went to Seraphina which is totally still my favourite book, yay!  Also, I love Tamora Pierce and I'm psyched she got the Edwards).  As ever, the list is a great place to start if you're looking for quality and don't have a clue which of the hundreds of lovely covers on the shelves to open first.  I have to say though, I was pretty surprised by the Printz list (that's the teen one), which for the second year in a row included mostly titles I'd never heard of before the winners were announced.

Now, I'm not saying I'm some kind of all-knowing book guru (all my friends are rolling their eyes at me behind my back right now, I know they are), but not only do I read a TON (we're talking 10-15 books a WEEK here, people {yes, frequently more than one a day}) but I actually work in a bookstore.  And receive newsletters from two more.  And can't pass one without going in.  So is the question "how did I miss these?" or is it "where did they find these?"

Especially since one of them figures in multiple categories.  And one of them is about an Aspie (a topic dear to my heart).  Where did these books come from?  It can't be a bad thing for these books to get more exposure - I read the summaries, they do indeed sound very interesting - so where have they been?  Where's the marketing?  And how did they get to the committee without it?

I'm going to go ponder those questions while I finally get around to reading Code Name Verity - which is one of the ones I HAVE heard of.  And boy does it sound fantastic...

30 January 2013

Plotting a la Tart

*gasp*  Has Writing Wednesday Returned?  Maybe... Let's hope so...

So... I'm plotting a book. It might be my fifteenth. Might be my sixteenth... sort of depends on whether I can't help myself starting... I had intended to only write books in June and November this year and to concentrate on EDITING the rest of the year because see... my HABIT is to write three books a year and editing two, and this has left me with an overly large editing stack. It's compounded by the fact that an edited book STILL isn't always READY, and must be RE-edited. GAH! Editing will be the death of me. So I don't want to talk about that. I want to talk about one of my VERY FAVORITE THINGS.

Plotting. Now I'm not an outliner. At least not exactly. The truth of the matter is I've used a LOT of different plotting methods, few of which will be found in text books. I've done character sketches. I've used story boards. I've nearly pantsed, knowing only a handful of plot details... And I've learned some stuff. FOR ME, how I plot depends largely on where the story needs to go. Some types of stories need tighter plotting than others. Like WHAT, you say?

Well, say MYSTERY

To write a 'fair to the audience' genre mystery, your audience needs enough information to solve the crime. (and also enough 'misleading', which is to say REAL, but not actually related to the murder, information that it isn't too easy.) This means you have a lot to keep track of. I think it is EASIEST to draw pictures... I generally have my VICTIM, then my list of SUSPECTS, then I come up with two clues for every single suspect. I try to ALSO have a little overlap... a clue that might hook to this or that suspect. See why pictures make this easier?


Another one I've plotted fairly extensively is one that is first in a series, not because THIS book is so complicated, but because I wanted to set up characters and scenarios that will be picked up LATER. This is more a 'folder' with notes for each book... not tons of them, but I looked at all future books as I wrote.

Sometimes you have to get it JUST right.
Or if it's IMPORTANT...

The book I am currently plotting has a lot of things I need to get RIGHT if I really want to do this. It's about a school shooting... the weeks leading up to it... who might or might not have been able to tell anything... the mistakes that are made, the care not received. It is just too important to get wrong. So what does careful plotting look like in these two latter cases? Expanding lists, mostly... I put the big details in order, then as small ones fall into place, I add them.

I think when I start to write I will have some chapters with only a single line and others with a couple paragraphs (particularly the stuff I need to research)

It has surprised me that I seem to plan MORE as I get farther into writing. I think some of it is that I tend to already be doing a project when ideas hit and I don't want to LOSE them, but I am determined to finish the project I'm already doing first. So the pending book nagging at me leads me to planning. I still can't do a fancy outline. I am too analytical and the result would sound like a thesis (and who wants to read THAT?) But I suspect I will continue to PLOT before I write...

25 January 2013

Free For All Fridays: Attraction and Compliments

The Old, Old Story
by John William Godward
Image attribution

"Hello, awe-inspiring, rising sun," croons the well-groomed young gentleman.

"Is that your absolute best use of flattery?  I have heard better," replies the alluring young woman. 

"You have not given me a chance fair princess." assures the gentleman.

"I am no princess.  I'm an educated young maiden who would be most pleased if you would remove yourself from her presence.  And yes, I am speaking a bit discourteously but it is simply because you have vexed me on this early morning," she exclaims with mild annoyance.

"My apologies.  I didn't mean to offend," he states, leaving her with a flower.

Word-count Tool
Drabble- n. a story written in exactly 100 words.

21 January 2013

Scandinavian Mysteries

Winter has definitely arrived here in the northern hemisphere, and I'm on another "reading about cold places" kick and figured I'd share.  Whether you read Stieg Larsson and want more like that, or are just looking for a new author to explore, all of these are fantastic choices (though the English translations are lagging several books behind the original language releases).  Obviously, "Scandinavian mystery" is no more a complete genre than "American mystery" or "British mystery" - these also run the gamut from police procedurals to more amateur detectives, but it's a handy catch-all at the moment.  My ASCII coding knowledge is also getting quite a workout - I'm giving up on eth and thorn though, so apologies to Icelanders.  Anyway, how about I start with:

Camilla Läckberg

Since our detective here is an actual detective, there's some of the feel of a police procedural to these, but the small-town Swedish setting also gives it more of a cozy vibe.  So far, the first three of her books have been published in the US - The Ice Princess, The Preacher, and The Stonecutter - and there are at least six more.  Of all the mysteries I've read (and I've been a devoted whodunit fan since my great-aunt first handed me a Nancy Drew when I was about 6), these take the prize for being most like a jigsaw puzzle - all the pieces are right there in front of you, but arranging them takes time and then, all of sudden, once you've got the edges done the picture goes snap! snap! snap! into place and you're left to marvel at its construction.

Yrsa Sigurdardottir

Over to Iceland for the next series, where lawyer Thora (I'm pretty sure that should start with a thorn, but all of them have been anglicized in the text so I'm not going to try to figure it out) Gudmundsdottir manages to get herself mixed up in some pretty odd situations that make for great reading.  This was my go-to series last July during a ghastly heatwave - somehow, reading about all that snow and cold actually made it seem cooler.  The first in the series (pictured) introduces Thora, her two children, her surly secretary Bella, and a German fellow who becomes much more interesting than his initial appearance might suggest, in addition to a very colourful bunch of suspects in a particularly bizarre killing.  Currently there are three available; the fourth in the series is due out in English soon (on my birthday, actually, which makes me happy).

Jussi Adler-Olsen

Let's head back east to Denmark for the next two entries; Carl Mørck is a detective saddled with guilt over an operation gone bad which left one fellow policeman dead and another badly wounded.  In the aftermath, he is made head of the newly created Department Q, which is tasked with checking out cold cases.  Actually, he's not just the head, he's pretty much the entire staff, except for his surprisingly useful cleaning man, Assad.  Their investigation of a missing-presumed-dead politician yields surprising results in the first of the series (pictured), while the second focuses on a seemingly closed case which turns out to be much more convoluted than anyone could have thought.  I believe there are at least two more waiting to be translated, and I for one wish they'd hurry up!

Lene Kaaberbøl & Agnete Friis

Nina Borg is one of those people who just can't seem to say no to a friend - a nurse by training, she is involved with underground aid groups while seemingly neglecting her responsibilities to her own family.  Everything goes completely pear-shaped when she picks up a suitcase as a favour to an old friend and finds a small boy inside it - alive.  Twists and turns abound, as well as varying viewpoints (including that of the boy's mother, who is desperately trying to locate him), which some may find confusing but I quite like.  (The Lithuanian is what messed with my head, that and the Hungarian in the second book.)  Invisible Murder finds Nina getting into a radioactive mess that causes some non-nuclear fallout in her personal life...
Jo Nesbø

Okay Mari, Norway's turn! ;-)  I think what I like best about this guy is that he writes not only hardcore thrillers featuring a likeable, if flawed, policeman by the name of Harry Hole, but also a series for kids called (I kid you not) Dr. Proctor's Fart Powder.  This Harry reminds me of another one (no, not Potter - Bosch {vide Michael Connolly}), and I admit I was cracking up in the first chapter seeing parallels to things our own dear Norwegian goes on about.  Like Dragon Tattoo, the first one in this series (well, the first one translated, anyway - I think there might have been one or two others in the series before The Redbreast) delves into the darker side of the northern countries' fairly recent history, notably Nazism during WWII which has carried over into the present day.

So I was planning on putting more on here, but these should whet your appetite adequately enough - if not, Mankell, Wahloo, Persson, Nesser, Holt, Tursten and Indridason might be worthwhile to Google, eh? ;-)

18 January 2013

It's a Bird. It's a Plane. No, it's a Post from Me!!!!

“What do you do?”
“Where do you live?”
“Which college did you go to?”
“How old are your kids?”

When I meet someone for the first time, it is always one of these questions that pops out of their mouth after “Hello”. It is almost as if the answer to these questions will give them a measure of who I am and whether they should bother investing time in getting to know me.
And I rarely answer honestly. Most of the time, I am delightfully vague, giving just enough to border on the truth, definitely not enough to slot me. Occasionally, I tell a deliberate untruth, because it is easier to brush people off that way. Regardless of my response, I hate it.
Who you are has nothing to do with what you do for a living, or which car you drive, or the names you can drop. Who you are is not a sum of your educational qualifications, your professional experience and your relationship status.
Who you are is the person you are. Your interests, your passions, your philosophy, your values. It is something that can be gauged in a moment, and something that can simultaneously take a lifetime to learn.
If someone cares to look beyond, it is not too hard to get a measure of who I am. If they cannot, I don’t particularly want to waste time letting then get to know me “better” (as if they ever knew me at all).
Anyone who wants to know me, can find out Who I Am without much difficulty. And I really couldn’t be bothered about the rest.

And since I cannot really publish a post without any pictures, here is a self-portrait 
that is very imaginatively called, "Portrait of me with a green bottle".

16 January 2013

Random Wednesday: Fascinating Places I Would Love To See

*dusts off the blog since it has been several months*

Mount Fuji, Japan
Image courtesy of Fascinating Places

The Louvre, Paris, France
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

London, England, United Kingdom
Image taken from Wikimedia Commons

Bora Bora, Tahiti, French Polynesian Islands
Image taken from Wikimedia Commons

Tasman Valley, Mount Cook, New Zealand
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

What are the top five places would you like to travel?  We at The Burrow would love to know!