Sunday, December 26, 2010

"The Essential Man’s Library: 50 Fictional Adventure Books"

"The Essential Man’s Library: 50 Fictional Adventure Books"

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss
Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling
She by H. Rider Haggard
Ayesha: The Return of She by H. Rider Haggard
King Solomon’s Mines by H. Rider Haggard
Southern Mail/Night Flight by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle
The Man Who Would Be King by Rudyard Kipling
The Adventures of Captain Hatteras by Jules Verne
The Tigers of Mompracem by Emilio Salgari
The Pirates of Malaysia by Emilio Salgari
The Two Tigers by Emilio Salgari
Congo by Michael Crichton
Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
The Lost World by Michael Crichton
The Odyssey by Homer
The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
The Lord of the Rings Series by J. R. R. Tolkien
The Silmarillion by J. R. R. Tolkien

Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne
Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie

True at First Light by Ernest Hemingway
The Thirty Nine Steps by John Buchan
The Call of the Wild by Jack London
The Sea Wolf by Jack London
Roughing It by Mark Twain
The Beach by Alex Garland
Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini
The Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Inca Gold by Clive Cussler
Sahara  by Clive Cussler
Treasure by Clive Cussler
The Lighthouse at the End of the World by Jules Verne
Le Morte D’Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory
Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne
Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
In Search of the Castaways by Jules Verne

19 out of 50... not bad ;-)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Something funny, something emotional...

In Turku, Finland, there is a declaration of Christmas Peace on every 24th of December, at 12 o'clock Finnish time. At that time I will be by the television, watching the event, with a cup of tea in my hand and tears in my eyes..., thinking about all my maternal female relatives. We will be forming a circle of women holding hands, for 10 minutes. Some of the hands are extended from beyond the veil, some from hundreds of miles away, but the circle will be there, and I will be part of it, as long as there is anyone around who remembers me.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Be Jolly By Golly Blogfest

I'm tired and bored with life. Not very Christmassy, huh? But here's my "Christmas lights". I have two IKEA light wreaths in living room in stead of a tree.

I have been cleaning, decorating and baking the last couple of days. Cookie jars are more than full of cookies, the fridge and freezer are full of Yule food and now all I can do is sit and wait for tomorrow. It's the Midwinter's Day tomorrow, winter solstice. :-) Yule.

These are spoon cookies.

We will be watching the Polar Express movie, eating cookies and drinking our version of "butterbeer" - that's just caramelized sugar with milk and a spoonful of real butter melted into it and whisked frothy.

Have a lovely Midwinter, all of you :-)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Tired, tired, tired...

And so fed up with writing... I suppose my writing burst ended with November.

The problem is that I don't want to do anything else either.
I SHOULD be preparing for Yule, which is not even a week away.
I was supposed to make presents, and I haven't managed to do anything. I made Yule cards and wrote addresses on. Now I just need to put on the stamps and post them. :-D
I was supposed to sew me a Yule dress. Not going to happen. Haven't managed to even get the fabric for that.
No crafting done, no baking done, no art done...

Well... I do have an excuse. FM is flaring again. But all I really want to do is watch Christmas movies and eat candy.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest has announced 2011 writing competition.

"You are eligible to enter the Contest if you are at least 13 years old at time of entry and a legal resident of one of the following countries: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada (excluding the Province of Québec), China, Denmark, Finland, Germany, India, Ireland, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Romania, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, the United States (the 50 states and D.C.), or the United Kingdom."

You must also be available to travel to USA somewhere between 9.-15.6. so if you live outside US, see that your passport is good and you're allowed to travel to USA ;-)

"We must receive your Contest entry between January 24, 2011 at 12:01 a.m. (U.S. Eastern Standard Time) and February 6, 2011 at 11:59 p.m. (U.S. Eastern Standard Time)."

"You must register at to enter the Contest". I'm not sure if you need to provide the taxing information... I suppose not. I hope not. :-D You'll be providing that to Penguin, if you win ;-)

"You need to include
(1) the complete version of your manuscript ("Manuscript") (in digital .doc, .docx, or .rtf format);
(2) up to the first 5,000 words, but not less than 3,000 words, of your Manuscript, excluding any table of contents, foreword, and acknowledgments ("Excerpt");
(3) a pitch of your Manuscript consisting of up to 300 words ("Pitch"); and
(4) the personal information required on the entry form"
, but all personal information, like your name, must not be in the manuscript, excerpt or the pitch.

"You must be the only author of your Manuscript, and your Manuscript must be a novel (not poems, collection of short stories etc.) between 50,000 and 150,000 words", in English and your original work and fictional, unpublished and without images

You may only submit one Entry for only one category - either YA or adult fiction.

BTW, I joined the 750 words. There's plenty more interesting ideas at "I wrote a novel, now what" :-D

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Scribe's Yule

For Marieke's Midwinter Blogfest

Midwinter's day was no different in the life of Otherkin Scribe. She was sitting in her room, and writing down the stories that were told to her, just like any other day of the year. The stories were different, though.

The angels were talking about the good will that enclosed the whole planet into a warm blanket. In spite of all the stress and arguments, small accidents and moments of irritation, there was a will of good, warm thoughts, short smiles that crept on the faces when people saw the beautiful decorations and other people hurrying around with packages and santa caps. People were smiling more, were a bit more open, a bit kinder... it was nice being an angel at Yuletime.

The monsters were talking about the bloodlust, as they always were, but this time it was the lack of it they spoke about, not the urge to kill, maime and torture. A werewolf said that he hadn't been able to kill a rabbit, because it looked so soft and cuddly on the new snow. A vampire told he had started looking at the blood drops on the snow, and how pretty they were, and his victim managed to run away, screaming.

The harpees spoke about decorations and competitions and recipes, who had the best cookie recipe and how much the imported lawn decoration from France had costed. They also brought in decoration to decorate the library, but the Scribe told them to be sure all that would come down before the New Year.

The elves talked about caroling and how people started humming, went home singing along in their heads, and how the carols were designed to bring people Yule spirit. After they left, the Scribe found herself humming the old carols she'd learned as a girl. Then she chuckled for herself and allowed her to sing.

The minotaur coming in next looked at her a bit confused, then smiled and sang the song with her.
"Now stop!" he said and told about how nice it was to just let it all go, drink himself wasted and relax. It was as if his obsessions had left him, and he was kind of happy to be alone.

They all spoke about different things, and all let the Scribe in to their heads and hearts, so she was watching the cuddly little bunny in the moonlit forest, hopping over the square with no fear and no hurry... she felt the silence and peace in the minotaur's head and smiled. She saw all the Christmas decorations, smelled the scents of cinnamon and oranges, tasted the different flavors of Yule food, heard the carols and felt the good will. She remembered her lonely Christmases from time before she was made the Scribe and smiled. It might be just another work day, but it was so much better than anything she had had before.

Victorian Wizarding Christmas

This is my entry for the HP blog fest

One would think that Christmas is not a joyous happening in a purist families, but then one would be wrong. We all have our vices and virtues, and so also the pureblood families.

Misapinoa loved Christmas, and all the traditions involved. She happily adopted any tradition, and so also the mugglers' German traditions. She had been 4 years old when Prince Albert introduced the Christmas Tree in England, and now, after having been married to Jimbo for 10 years, and having given birth to a little witch and two small wizards, the Christmas Tree had become part of their traditions too.

Misapinoa and Jimbo had decorated the tree in the living room for themselves, with certain help from the house elves, of course, and the nanny had kept the children busy in the nursery during this time. Then they ate the Christmas dinner in the dining room, before letting the children in to the decorated living room.

How the children's eyes shone as they saw the tall tree covered with sparkling stars and glass ornaments, tinsel and candles, and all sorts of edibles, like gingerbread men and paper cones filled with nuts and candy. Under the tree was a pile of lovely things, toys and mysterious packages.

The eldest, Miram, was by the power of his 8 years, used to this and knew what to do, but 5 years old Jimsina and 2 years old Soames weren't quite certain yet. Miram ran to the tree immediately and started playing with the toy set built to go round the tree through small landscape with real snow falling and miniature people and animals moving about.

"Go ahead, dear", said Misapinoa gently to Jimsina, who went then to find a big, beautiful doll, that looked just like her. The doll blinked and smiled.
"Is this to me?" she asked.
"Yes, darling", her father answered, smiling. He caught Soames just before he was about to step on the rails, and sat down on the floor giving Soames a toy dragon with smoke coming from its nostrils and eyes flashing. Soames peeped happily and hugged the toy, that growled softly, then he got interested in Miram's toy train.

There were many other parcels and toys for the children, a few for the parents, and even some for the house elves. All the elves got a new, clean pillowcase, with their initials embroidered on them, and there was a lace incert on the girls' pillowcases. Jimbo gave Misapinoa a new set of jewels, beautiful emerald earrings and necklace, that would go beautifully with her green eyes, and Misapinoa gave her husband a new seafoam pipe carved in the shape of a dragon.

After the gifts were shared, the Blishwicks danced around the Christmas tree singing carols and then Misapinoa gathered the children in front of the table theatre and Jimbo acted with paper dolls a Yuletime story to entertain the family. It was always the same, Jimbo only knew one story, but it had become a tradition. The children watched the beautifully decorated dolls move on the tiny paper scene and forgot it was their father telling the story. Soames fell to sleep sucking a huge chunk of toffee in Misapinoa's lap, and even the elder children started nodding. When Jimbo looked up from behind the theatre, he saw all three kids sleeping around his lovely wife, whose green eyes shone brighter than the emeralds on her neck and ears.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Visions of Sugar Plums by Janet Evanovich

LOL I loved this one :-)

Okay, so I have "bad" taste. Guess what? I don't give a dime :-D

I know it was more delightful to read Grisham's and Evanovich's Christmas stories than aspire to palestrically drudge through the amaranthine locutions of Franzen...

"Christmas in bounty hunter Stephanie Plum's world isn't quite like Christmas in Whoville. With only four days to go before December 25, she doesn't have a decorated tree in her apartment or any presents bought. Plus she's chasing an elusive bail-jumper named Sandy Claws; a hunky guy named Diesel is literally popping in and out of her apartment; and a mob of manic elves is threatening to assault her with cookies. The end result is that Stephanie is feeling a tad stressed over the holiday season. Life isn't any calmer over at her parents' home in the Burg, where Grandma Mazur is dating a new octogenarian stud muffin; sister Valerie is wailing over some unwelcome news; and Stephanie's mother is coping by belting back tumblers of Red Roses in the kitchen. Just where is the elusive Mr. Claws hiding, and why? What's causing the power blackouts all over Trenton? And what about the mysterious villain, Mr. Ring? Is all of this real, or is Stephanie just having a very bad dream?"

I like Steph, Diesel and granny with studmuffins and rainbowy teeth :-D

Jonathan Franzen: The Corrections.

I cam to page 71 of 568 when I realized that life indeed is too short to read bad books.

Yes, I find this a bad book.

"The novel won the 2001 National Book Award for Fiction and the 2002 James Tait Black Memorial Prize, was nominated for the 2001 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction and the 2002 PEN/Faulkner Award, and was shortlisted for the 2003 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. 
In 2005, The Corrections was included in Time magazine's list of the 100 best English-language novels.  
In 2006, Bret Easton Ellis declared the novel "one of the three great books of my generation." 
In 2009, website The Millions polled 48 writers, critics, and editors, including Joshua Ferris, Sam Anderson, and Lorin Stein.  The panel voted The Corrections the best novel of the first decade of the millennium "by a landslide"."
Wikipedia: The Corrections

Franzen himself was "ambivalent at his novel having been chosen by the club due to its inevitable association with the "schmaltzy" books selected in the past." You know, like Nobel Prize winners and other exaggeratingly sentimental, greasy books.

Jonathan likes words. The longer and more unusual, the better. In the first 70 pages I met four or five I've never even heard before. Like crepuscular and corpuscular.

He also likes grains.
"...not a pure tone but a granular sequence of percussions..."
" of the graininess of the high-speed film..."
Twice in the first 11 pages. 

He also uses a LOT of italics.

He uses way too many words to say practically nothing, but makes it LOOK very impressive and important.

I don't like any of the people I have met so far. I am not the least interested on how it goes for any of them. Let them rot and get involved in sex scandals and embarrass themselves, who cares!

I have read more than 10 percent of the book, and there's still no plot.

This is the plot summary:
"Alfred Lambert, the patriarch of a seemingly normal family living in the fictional town of St. Jude, suffers from Parkinson's disease and dementia. Enid, his longsuffering wife, suffers from Alfred's controlling, rigid behavior and her own embarrassment at what she perceives as her family's shortcomings. Their children all live in the Northeast. Gary, the eldest Lambert son, is a successful banker whose personal and family life is controlled by his beloved wife, a gifted manipulator and reader of pop-psychology books. Chip, the middle child, is a former academic whose disastrous affair with a student loses him a tenure-track job and lands him in the employ of a Lithuanian crime boss. Denise, the youngest of the family, is successful in her career as a chef but loses her job just at the peak of her career after interlocking romances with her boss and her boss's wife.

The separate plot-lines converge on Christmas morning back in St. Jude, when each child is forced to make a decision about what kind of responsibility to assume in helping their mother deal with their father's accelerating physical and mental decline."

After ten percent of the book we are not even in Christmas.

I don't get what is supposedly making this a "great novel". I think it's pure crap, and as life is too short reading crap, I won't read this book.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

John Grisham: Skipping Christmas

I looked forward to reading this book:

"Luther unfolded a spreadsheet and began pointing.
"Here, my dear, is what we spent last Christmas. Six thousand, one hundred dollars. And precious little to show for it. The vast majority of it down the drain. Wasted. And that, of course, does not include my time, your time, the traffic, stress, worry, bickering, ill-will, sleep-loss - all the wonderful things that we pour into the holiday season."
"Where is this going?"
Luther dropped the spreadsheets and, quick as a magician, presented the Island Princess brochure to his wife. "Where is this going, you ask, my dear? It's going to the Caribbean. Ten nights, ten nights of total luxury on the Island Princess, the fanciest cruise ship in the world..."

In their dreams.

The first half of the book is a nightmare... Then it gets worse... to end so lovely I cried :-)
I recommend this to everyone swearing over Christmas. A book about the true spirit of Christmas. :-)

Except that I would have let the daughter hear about it...

1/5 Christmas books read :-) One sock ready :-)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Who's Hal Clement?

Ellie was kind enough to thank me, so I visited her blog, again, and found this:

I am:
Hal Clement (Harry C. Stubbs)
A quiet and underrated master of "hard science" fiction who, among other things, foresaw integrated circuits back in the 1940s.

Which science fiction writer are you?

To my shame I have to admit I don't have the slightest idea of who this guy is. It might be because only one of his books was translated into Finnish, and I have read 99% of scifi in Finnish...

Then there was this short story challenge... it's international, but has entry fees... so... Have to think about that a little bit more :-D

Monday, December 6, 2010

Holiday Reading Challenge

All about {n} is hosting a Holiday Reading Challenge. It started already three weeks ago, but I am confident I'll manage :-D

This is my reading list:

The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
Skipping Christmas by John Grisham
The Christmas Train by David Baldacci
Visions of Sugar Plums by Janet Evanovich
Hercule Poirot's Christmas by Agatha Christie

All these I can get from Södertälje library, unless someone snatches them tomorrow in front of my nose. :-D
I should read these before 2011, which gives me 24 days, about 5 days for book.  I'll read them in that order, so if I don't have time to read them before New Year's Day, it won't be a big problem :-D
The reading challenge is all about reading 1-5 books somehow connected to Christmas.

Also The Christmas Spirit is hosting a reading challenge :-D

"cross overs with other challenges is totally permitted AND encouraged!" Okay!

Added 8/12 - I have added links to the books to the reviews :-) The review gets up when I have read the book, and the link gets up after the review is posted :-)
Also, I was lucky - I got all the books from the library! Yay!

December Blog Parties :-)

Harry Potter blog fest
Write 500 words Harry Potter fan fiction about the theme "holidays"
Use any characters from any of the 7 books, for example the house elves and post it in your blog on the 11th of December.

Midwinter Blogfest
Write about your main character's Midwinter celebrations (not more than 500 words) and post it in your blog on 11th of December :-D

Christmas Tales blog fest
write anything Christmassy (under 1000 words, preferably :-D) and post it in your blog on 12th of December

Twisted Christmas fairytale
Write 500-1000 words twisted fairytale and post it in your blog on 18th of December :-D

Be Jolly By Golly blog hop feast
Blog about your Christmas/Yule/Chanukkah/whatever on December 20th.

12 days of yule blog party
Post from 20th to 31st about the given themes

Sunday, December 5, 2010

36 dramatic situations

Now I have read Georges Polti's 36 Dramatic Situations... Interesting.

I have learned a new word: suzerainty.
"Suzerainty occurs where a region or people is a tributary to a more powerful entity which controls its foreign affairs while allowing the tributary vassal state some limited domestic autonomy."
Oh! Israel-Palestine!

His language is old-fashioned and not too well translated, and his ideas, values, attitudes, prejudices? are so... hmm...
26th dramatic situation: crimes of love; Sixth : Homosexuality:
"The tribadic or sapphic branch has not been used upon the stage; Mourey alone has attempted it, but in vain in his "Lawn Tennis." The objection which might be urged against it (and which probably explains why the drama, in the ages of its liberty, has made no use of it) is that this vice has not the horrible grandeur of its congener. Weak and colorless, the last evil habit of worn-out or unattractive women, it does not offer to the tragic poet that madness, brutal and preposterous, but springing from wild youth and strength, which we find in the criminal passion of the heroic ages."
 Lesbian love is "weak and colorless, the last evil habit of worn-out or unattractive women" :-D

It is what you make of it, dear Georges... But, poor Georges was born 1868. I find it interesting that he can at some level understand an attractive and powerful man's passion, love, desire, to a young and attractive man, and that the man "dared to express and gratify" these "unnatural" feelings, that his love was responded, and he calls the story "fine and moving"... But for a woman to feel passion, love and desire to another woman, they both must be either "worn-out" or "unattractive"...
This is all information of Gabriel Mourey's Lawn-Tennis I have managed to find:
"His explicitly lesbian one-act play Lawn-tennis, understandably turned down by Antoine for the Théathre Libre in May 1891, has similarities with Jeux but was never considered as a model. Camille and Elaine go much further than the three coy dancers in Nijinsky's supposedly daring scenarion twenty-two years later, and Mourey's 'mixed doubles' were extremely short-lived!"
Debussy and the theatre by Robert Orledge

"A group of young artists led by André Antoine had recently founded the cooperative Théâtre Libre to experiment with new forms and controversial themes. They had promised their friend Gabriel Mourey that they would produce his lesbian drama, Lawn-Tennis, but upon reading it, they considered it too risky and dropped the project."
French Theater by Louis Godbout

"This short piece is Lawn-tennis, by Gabriel Mourey, Antoine's friend. It seems that they associated tennis and lesbianism already then, because it is a love story of two women. One, Elaine, is feminine and has long been under the inluence of the other, Camille, who is rather masculine; it is therefore the model of fem-butch we are being served. The action takes place on a tennis court where Camille, back from a long journey, is desperate to see Elaine, who married in her absence, and does all she can to avoid the meeting. Camille's hope rises, when Georges, Elaine's new husband, confides to her that their love is crumbling. He believes Elaine loves another man, but Camille joyfully assures him that there has never been other men in her life.
Camille finally manages to see Elaine. She confesses to Elaine that she still loves her, confident and trustful, but in the moment of her victory Elaine tells her in disgust that she is pregnant and she wants to break up the relationship with Camille and go to her husband. Camille mad with rage then strangles Elaine, saying "yes, I'm here, it's me, Georges, your Georges whom you love..."while Elaine desperately cries for Georges"
- Le Rideau Rose, histoire du théâtre gai et lesbien jusqu'en 1969 by Louis Godbout
(my translation - consider that my French isn't that good.)

I think that is more "madness, brutal and preposterous, but springing from wild youth and strength, which we find in the criminal passion" than "last evil habit of worn-out and unattractive women"... And it was written 1891.

Well... what ever. We have come a LOOOOOOONG way in 100 years... Or most of us, at least :-D

"But it is not possible to detail in these pages, even if I so desired, the second part of the Art of Combination; that which we in France call by the somewhat feeble term (as Goethe remarked) "composition." All that I have here undertaken to show is, first, that a single study must create, at the same time, the episodes or actions of the characters, and the characters themselves : for upon the stage, what the latter are may be known only by what they do; next, how invention and composition, those two modes of the Art of Combination (not Imagination, empty word!) will, in our works to come, spring easily and naturally from the theory of the Thirty-Six Situations.

Thus, from the first edition of this little book, I might offer (speaking not ironically but seriously) to dramatic authors and theatrical managers, ten thousand scenarios, totally different from those used repeatedly upon our stage in the last fifty years- The scenarios will be, needless to say, of a realistic and effective character.
I will contract to deliver a thousand in eight days.
For the production of a single gross, but twenty-four hours are required.
Prices quoted on single dozens.
Write or call, No. 19, Passage de 1'Elysee des Beaux-Arts.
The Situations will be detailed act by act,  and, if desired, scene by scene"

But I hear myself accused, with much violence, of an intent to "kill imagination." "Enemy of fancy !" "Destroyer of wonders!" "Assassin of prodigy!"
These and similar titles cause me not a blush.

- Georges Polti
Such a pity he didn't write the Art of Composition as well :-D

What KIND of story - Alexandra Sokoloff

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Nothing much...

I found my NaNoWriMo 2008 novel. Some 3000 words. Ha.

I was also reading my blog, this blog, the earlier entries. I've read 2008 and 2009 now, and was reminded of Alexandra Sokoloff. I think I might want to try her index card method on my novels...
I also need to read the Process For Writing better, but it's 10 P.M. and I'm ready to sleep now... it has been a long day :-D

I'll leave you with Allison Winn Scotch and JUST WRITE!
Cheryl Klein's mid-line edit ramble on line-editing
and Joanna Paterson's the secret: 20 ways to attract more comments to your blog
P.S. Smart Bitches who read Trashy Books have Chanukkah give-away.

Thank you :-)

Helena was talking about how good it feels to get praise as a writer, especially when the praise is about the "right things" - you know, the ones one hopes to get praise for :-)

The she says: " Of course I should boast that I happily have INTELLIGENT readers who leave witty comments and several of whom have their own blogs (Hart, Ben and Ketutar, in particular)."

Thank you, Helena! *_* My husband can testify that I squealed when I read my name on the list :-) I love to hear someone thinks I'm an intelligent reader who leaves witty comments :-D
You made my day :-)

Then I followed her blog links, took the spelling test at Crystal Clear Proofing, (5/10 :-( I really need to work on my English, spelling, vocabulary and grammar), and found this: Nanonono!
Made me giggle.
And decide I want to take on the challenge... 60K words in 5 days... Hmm... My best result so far is 7K words in one day... That is, 7K original fiction. I can easily spout thousands of words, if I'm "expressing my opinion" on one of my pet peeves. Israel-Palestine and Indo-European religions, mainly Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity. I wrote a several thousand words blog entry yesterday in the subject of Eckhard Tolle and A New World. *yuk* (I am not being nice there, so if you love the book, think ego is a "bad thing" or don't want to read a negative critique, don't go there. 

Anyway, NaNoNoNo! took me to Emma Darwin's blog and "revising and editing"
Her books look interesting :-)

I like readin' Patricia's blog, and this time she was talking about the review war at
I do read the reviews at Amazon, and they do have some influence on me, in such a way that bad reviews might make me decide not to read a book, if I'm not sure I want to read it.
I use's recommendations, "frequently bought together" and "customers also bought..."

I am very interested in Catherine Fisher's Saphique and Incarceron, I think the books look promising and the excerpts and synopsis sound interesting, and then I like Cornelia Funke and Orson Scott Card, so this gives me enough reason to believe I would like these books.

Then I go and find out more information, usually the author's homepage, if there is one.

I haven't read the reviews on Catherine's books.
I read Pi's Journey because of the reviews and... I hated the book.
I read Da Vinci Code because of the reviews, and hated it.
I read Outlander because of the reviews - or started... I just cannot finish it, and life is too short to read books I don't like. There's plenty of books I like out there, so if my "general knowledge" is lacking due to the fact I haven't read some popular books, so be it. I hate Outlander too.
I didn't read Twilight because of the reviews... but then I decided to make up my own mind about it, and started reading it, and I cannot go on, because I hate Bella. I suppose Stephenie isn't that bad a writer, and she'll get better too, if she doesn't let the fame get to her, but keeps writing, and tries to stay popular even when she doesn't write YA vampire books. Good for her. But I sincerely hate Bella and cannot find any reason why both Edward and Jacob (and all the other guys as well) find her so attractive. She's full of herself, moody (usually moping) and doesn't treat people well. 

Then I think about my Dido, and how I hate her too. *sigh* For different reasons, though, but still... but if I made her so that I'd like her, I wouldn't have a story. She would have sold the amulet in the first place, how ever much she liked it, and how ever much she disliked Hallam. Nevertheless, that's one of the reasons I hate her. I was taught to say "yes" if I don't have a really, really, really good reason to say "no", and not liking someone is not a good reason. Saying "no", because you don't like the person asking is just mean.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Blog leaping and hopping...

JAM session: Writing mechanics

I don't know mine...

When I was about 15 I wrote my first novel. It was a fantasy story of a boy, red horse and blue paper doll. I saw it in my dream, started with the dream, and then continued. I explained to my sister what it was all about, and she said something... don't know exactly what, but what I remember is that I got the impression she thought it was a bad story, boring, repetitive and cementing patriarchal gender roles. Might be she didn't think that, that perhaps it was just a bad synopsis - she never read a word of what I had written - and I easily misunderstand, but... I didn't write one more word to the story.

Then I have learned a lot from different "rules" of writing. As I pointed out in an earlier blog entry, I have learned to "skip the unnecessary burden" - which practically means everything. You know, "don't drivel, don't describe, don't use passive voice and adverbs, kill your darlings, keep it short and simple is best." Now it makes it really hard for me to write novels. I mean, of course one could call a 50K novel a novel, but it really isn't. It should have at least 15K more words, and even then it would be considered a short novel. Preferably 75-90K. I had to "kill my darlings", that is, all the "rules of writing" I have gathered during my life. I had to throw out my -ly badge.

But - to other things: Steampunk Aesthethics

"The technological marvels of the Victorian period were rare and often unique, both historically and in 19th century literature. Individuals invented new technologies based on the latest scientific and engineering discoveries. Steampunk should embrace that diversity and rarity."
Yes! I want more steam and less punk :-D Jules Verne is supposed to be an idol. :-)

If a soccer mom took over Santa...
Though... aren't they called curling moms?

Found this "interesting" (creepy, actually) "coincident" when checking if they are called curling moms: straight after each other were these results:

That was NOT what you were supposed to do with your win! I'm pretty sure there are warning texts with the curling iron that tells you NOT to do that to a baby. Should be... I wonder if someone sues the company now, because the warning texts don't tell you not to curl your baby's fingers?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Drabble Day

Challenge from Aheila

It was the same old story, girl and boy meets, girl falls in love with the boy, perhaps he in her too, something happens and they depart. At least one heart is broken, the tears roll, words are uttered that can never be taken back again.

But while it lasted, it was wonderful. They used to walk by the canal, watching swallows write love poems on the sky. Her eyes were as blue as the sky, his were brown, and the kisses were like wine and honey.

He didn't like wine, she hated honey... perhaps it was better this way.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

About writing journals and writer's block

Anna at Anna's Obsession asked how people get over their writer's blocks. 
This is what I answered:

Writer's block is when you sit there in front of the computer or an empty paper and just stare at it. You come up with nothing to write. Absolutely nothing.

I thought it was just words, couldn't imagine it ever happening, but then came NaNoWriMo, and I was there. Staring at the empty screen.

I got over it.

1. I have a writing journal. It isn't very organized, it would be better if it was.

2. I write down my ideas. Where do I get the ideas?

Just like you, I too have interesting dreams. I remember my dreams when I don't try to remember them. I have written down several. Sometimes it's just words, or images, something associations.

I like to fantasize a lot. I fantasize when I walk the dog, when I take the bus, when I wait in line, when I do the dishes and especially when I try to fall asleep. I have written down some of these too.

I write fan fiction. I like taking existing story lines, characters, ideas, and play with them. Most often the fan fiction is unrecognizable, if you just change the most glaring bits, like names and descriptions.

I like reading. I read everything. From newspapers to books, contemporary novels, classics, children's books, any genre. I like watching television. I like movies. I like music. Every now and then I read, hear or see something, just a line, that makes me think. When I search for books at book store, I read the synopsis, and sometimes that makes me think.

The life itself is inspiring. Perhaps a couple of words heard in a bus, an usually beautiful day... things happen. Writers are artists painting with words.

Then there are those book, you know, that make you say "I could have written this better..."
Do it.

If nothing else works, there are several writing prompts around.

3. Then it's just to sit down and write. Even if it is "I am a writer. Writers write, so I write. I write mighty kingdoms and people of flesh and blood, and it is possible that somewhere, somehow, sometime, they live. In another galaxy, far far away from here... there was a little boy who dreamed about flying like his father. His father was an angel, but his mother was a mortal woman, prude and pious, and she was horrified to find out how an angel could desire what by the wicked, lusty people is called love, and she hated what became of this..."

And there you go.

Also, a habit of writing - every day, 2000 words or 10 pages (or what ever goal you have) - makes it hard for you not to write.
"If there's a book you really want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it."
-- Toni Morrison
Dean R. Koontz says in "Writing Popular Fiction" this: "A writer's block is most often caused by one of five things: overwork, boredom, self-doubt, financial worries, or emotional problems between the writer and those close to him.
If overwork is the cause, stop writing for a couple of days or weeks; when you're ready to start again, you'll know, because the typewriter will no longer appear to be a formidable opponent, but a delightful toy.
If boredom with the piece in progress has slowed you to a standstill, put it aside and begin something new, no matter how close to the end of the piece you may be; chances are, if it bores you, it will bore editors and readers also.
The simplest way to cure a case of self-doubt is to shame yourself without restraint for your lack of confidence and start something new which may, by its freshness, restore your confidence. Don't worry if you go through a dozen ideas before you hit something that gets you going again.
Financial worries must be solved before you can write again, even if that means you-the full-time freelancer-must take a job, temporarily, to keep above water, or you-the part-time writer-must take a part-time job and temporarily forsake writing until your financial position is less
If emotional entanglements occupy your mind and keep you from producing, sit down with your boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife, and talk out the things that are bothering you. Not only will such sessions improve your love life, they will improve your writing as well.
No writer's block need be more than a few days long if he is determined to break it."

Then I wrote this as base for an article to write, about Writer's Journal:

"A writer's notebook gives you a place to live like a writer, wherever you are, at any time of day."
-- From A Writer's Notebook, Unlocking the Writer Within You, by Ralph Fletcher
A writer's notebook is an idea storage and a resource bank.

You will need:

- a journal
  • Your journal should be such that you like to write in it. You have to like its looks. Choose covers that give you the feeling you are a professional writer, or inspirational covers.
  • I write on anything, but some people want their paper white, others prefer cream or pastels or other colors. Some prefer paper with lines, some unlined. The paper comes in different weights, surfaces and textures. Ordinary printer paper is white, light, smooth and dense. Choose the paper of your journal so that you enjoy writing on it.
  • Also, choose the size and bind so that you feel comfortable to write on it anywhere and carry it everywhere with you. A larger, spiral bound journal with soft covers might not be a good choice, but choose that, if you like writing in such. You can always get it loose hard covers.
  • Also, you should not feel afraid to tear off pages, draw lines over everything and get it dirty. It is supposed to follow with you until you have filled it, in every weather and environment, you are supposed to feel good to write in it in crowded places, in rain, in a coffee house - everywhere. Don't choose an expensive book you want to keep tidy. The writer's journal is not meant to be used with a ruler, nor is it meant to be graded. You are the only one who is supposed to see and read it.
- a pen
  •  Choose a pen that you like to write with, and that is easily used. I use a mechanic pencil with 0,5 mm HB lead. I like to both write and draw with it. Don't choose something romantic like a quill and ink. It is hard to take it up in a bus to jot down a conversation you happen to hear, that inspires you.
- if you have a pencil, you need an eraser too. If your pencil is not mechanical, you need a sharpener.
- scissors, tape, glue, stapler, paper clips
- post-its
- perhaps highlighters or markers

What to write in it?

It is a good idea to start with a table of contents. It helps you later to find what you are looking for.

- write down quotes you like
- write down passages from books you like
- write down poems you like
- write down words you like
- write down interesting names - for characters and novels
- write down interesting snippets of discussions you hear, from real life or television
- write down comparisons, parables, descriptions, everything like this you like
- write down how other writers have described sounds, smells, sensations, taste, in a way that you like
- paste articles and newspaper and magazine clippings in it
- paste inspiring images, pictures, artwork, doodles in it or draw straight into it
- paste interesting comics in it
- paste into it inspiring scraps you find, like discarded score boards, lists, tickets, flat things rescued from the street or garbage, ephemera, stickers, stamps...
- add pressed flowers or leaves
- add samplers to it
- put brochures and programs between the pages. Fasten with a piece of tape or a paper clip.
- save inspiring letters and post cards in it
- draw maps, charts, diagrams, templates, webs, tables, pedigrees etc. in it
- write down lists in it - places to visit, professions, likes and dislikes, phobias...
- write down interesting characters you have met, read about or seen in television or movies
- write down your dreams and fantasies in it
- write down your questions in it
- write down your ideas and thoughts in it
- write down interesting snippets of information
- add post-its and notes
- cut inspiring covers and synopsis from book magazines and catalogs and paste into your writing journal
- write the research notes in it
- write ideas for good leads and endings in it
- write down interesting writing prompts in it
- write down themes, plots, scenes and storylines in it
- write down single emotions, memories, happenings, but not as in a "normal" journal, in which you register your everyday life, feelings and thoughts. A Writer's journal or a notebook is an idea bank, not a diary.

- write down the ideas, thoughts, dreams these words inspire

And then I read this:
Keeping a journal or notebook fosters the journal-writing skill, not the fiction-writing skill.
-- Caro Clarke; the writer's notebook, or let's not really write

But then I remember the Renaissance method. Several authors manage to write fiction even though they have a writer's journal :-D Go ahead and do what ever you like. It's not that your ideas get stale or die because you write them down in a journal.

P.S. A note to female writers, age 13-22 - it's time for Cleopatra Award
The competition is open for all young women, who write in English. It's international, so not only for those living in USA, Canada and UK, like so many other possibilities.
You can submit a short story, an essay, a poem or an excerpt (not more than 2000 words) from a novel or novella (or novelet ;-)) and your entry should be about the themes explored in "The Lily of Nile", a historical novel about Cleopatra's daughter, written by Stephanie Dray, who established and sponsors this literary competition for young women.

My NaNovel

Dido Heaven is a witch who doesn't believe in magic. Not really. Until, one day magic starts messing up her tidy, normal life and forces her to believe in it.
Dido is fully happy with her life, a good book, cats, a cup of tea and apples, who would ask for more? Sure, it was nice when the handsome man walked into her store, but why is he so adamant about a necklace? And what made the windows shatter? Why are people dying around her? What is it with all these beautiful people forcing themselves into her life? Strange things happen, things that cannot happen, may not happen, shouldn't happen... why, how, who...?
There are only questions, questions, questions, but no answers, at least no rational ones. The only possible answers are impossible to believe. There is no magic... 
Is there?

Excerpt: Heart of Amber
“I’ve seen windows shot at. They don’t break like this.” Nasir said looking at the glass daggers embedded into the wooden desk. “Magic would explain this nicely”, he said.
Dido was speechless for a moment, then burst out saying: “Magic doesn’t explain anything!” She frowned in disbelief. “It’s for subtle influences, praying for peace, and angels, and... fairies... and global warming... and...”

Monday, November 29, 2010

Merit badges

The Merit Badger has created badges for writing and reading. Nice: I like badges :-)

I have paid my library fees, I sniff books (mmmm.... old books, new books, most books smell so good... except a smoker's books or books from a New Age shop where they burn incense all the time. Yuk.) And I read epic fantasy, and historical novels, and basically everything. My book shelves are a mess, and there are books everywhere, and I judge books by the cover, even though I read also books that don't look that nice on the cover. But I don't remember ever reading an ugly book believing it's crap and then found out it's not. It's usually the other way around. I read a book by the cover and it turns out to be everything but what is promised by the cover. *sigh* And I read banned books and communicate with other book lovers on-line, and OMG was I disappointed with His Dark Materials. *sigh* And I share my books, even when a couple never came back, and I like to talk about books I like and as far as I know I have converted a couple of people :-D

A lot more writing badges... I think I earned most of these at NaNoWriMo :-D It started with writer's block and ended with over 50K words. I have not written every day, but I have kept my butt on the chair and written, without knowing what is going to flow from my fingers, and I had a REALLY good day with over 7000 words. I have been distracted by all the amazing blogs and other sites on-line, and I have managed to drag me out of it, and sit down to write. I have created worlds and places, written High Fantasy, and my husband hates me, because I keep talking against -ing and -ly :-D Even though I use them, I do, a lot. Eagerly, willingly and with pleasure :-D I have written by hand, and when I eat, and when I watch the television. And, as I already said before, I need more padding! Oh, and I type like 60-70 wpm. And I am SOOOO envious at some people. Mostly all published authors :-D And all who have got a Nobel prize, and all who have become rich rich rich by writing, and especially those whom I don't like. *sigh* :-D

Now I'm a bit uncertain of if this is okay... is this "derivative work"?

Writing Blogs Written By Men

Why You Shouldn't Write Often

Okay, so perhaps I'm not a GOOD writer, but being a BAD writer is better than not being a writer at all.

No, you don't become a good writer by writing, you become good at writing - the mechanical process, the profession, the activity - which is something you need if you plan being a writer.
You become a good writer by reading.

I have been reading some blogs lately, trying to find writing blogs written by men, for my husband, who is trying to get his writing blog by a man fly.

I don't like Men with Pens, even when it is a blog - sort of - written by men, about writing.

My Literary Jam and Toast is a blog to my taste. It is written by a woman.
I also like Grab a Pen - also written by a woman.
I also like Fiction Groupie :-) By a woman.
and Becoming a Fiction Writer... yes, also by a woman.

I found:
Lee Goldberg's A Writer's Life 
Neil Gaiman I love, but he writes so seldom to the blog. Good, I say. I want him write many, many books :-D
Paulo Coelho's blog might be something for my husband... It is something for me :-) It's just not so much about writing.
Neither is Wil Wheaton's In Exile, but I like it nevertheless. And he is a man who writes.
Jurgen Wolff's Time to Write might be what he is looking for...
John Baker's blog is not for me, but perhaps it is for someone else.
There is the wordswimmer, written by a guy. Makes me realize I do NOT like blogs with only one entry showing. I don't care to push the "Older posts" all the time.
Cole Writing looks interesting.
There's Tom Conoboy's Writing Blog, Luc Reid's Reidwrite, Advanced Fiction Writing by Randy Ingemanson, "The Snowflake Guy", Crawford Kilian's Writing Fiction, Alex Cavanaugh's blog, Ted Cross' blog and Nathan Bransford's blog, which was the one I was thinking, when my husband complained about the lack of good writing blogs written by men. I like that one very much :-D
I also just have to mention Benny's Fluent in Three Months, even when it's not about writing... at least, most of it is not. He's working as a freelance translator, so there's something useful for writers too. ;-)

And then there are several multi-author blogs, with mixed gender authors, and I assume SF Novelists would be what he's after.

Clear with Mr. Clarity sounds interesting too... and I assume Mr.Clarity is a man :-D It's not the kind of a blog I assume my husband is talking about, but an interesting blog nevertheless.
I also suspect the Man Cave author is a man... I think he should be, if he isn't :-D
I am also under the impression that Just the Cheese is written by a man.

I don't know if Query Shark is written by a man or a woman, but it looks interesting.

Also, Ralph Fletcher's Tips for Young Writers looks interesting. I'm going to go and read it after I have written this blog entry :-D

100 recommended books

I am going to make a confession... I haven't read most of these (41 of 100) But I suppose I'm better off than most. Watery Tart says BBC says people in general have only read 6 of them...

I have read the bolded, the italialized I have started to read but haven't been able to finish for one reason or another. (Probably because at the moment I started to read it, I found the book so darn boring!)

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen

2 The Lord of the Rings- JRR Tolkien

3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte

4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling

5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee

6 The Bible
(I would like to say that there is no need to read the New Testament. There isn't much of a story there. Read the Old Testament with the apocrypha.)
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte

8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell

9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman

10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott

12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy

13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare

15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier

16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien

17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk

18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger

19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger

20 Middlemarch - George Eliot

21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell

22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald

23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens

24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy

25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams

26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh

27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck

29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll

30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame

31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy

32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens

33 Chronicles of Narnia - C.S. Lewis

34 Emma -Jane Austen

35 Persuasion - Jane Austen

36 The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - CS Lewis

37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres

39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden

40 Winnie the Pooh - A.A. Milne

41 Animal Farm - George Orwell

42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown

43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving

45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins

46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery

47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy

48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood

49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding

50 Atonement - Ian McEwan

51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel

52 Dune - Frank Herbert

53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons

54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen

55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth

56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Loved this one... why it is on the list... don't know.
57 A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens

58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon

60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck

62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov

63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt

64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold

65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas

66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac

67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy

68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding

69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie

70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville

71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens

72 Dracula - Bram Stoker

73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett

74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson

75 Ulysses - James Joyce

76 The Inferno - Dante

77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome

78 Germinal - Emile Zola

79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray

80 Possession - AS Byatt

81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens

82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell

83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker

84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro

85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert

86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry

87 Charlotte’s Web - E.B. White

88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton

91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad

92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery

93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks

94 Watership Down - Richard Adams

95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole

96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute

97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas

98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl

100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

I don't think the list is about GOOD books, more than "you should at least know the story, and the original story, so that you won't go telling people things like "The Little Mermaid marries the prince and lives happily ever after". Or that "Scarlett O'Hara had red hair" or that "Anne of Green Gables went to France to find Gilbert during WWI".

So - having seen the movie doesn't count, nor does some "fan fiction" (which sequels and prequels written by other than original authors are) and abridged versions.

Also, there are some new books on the list I don't think should be there. I strongly doubt anyone will read books like Da Vinci Code in just some decades. Right now it's still riding on the waves of the big publishing bang, but... Who noticed the publishing of the sequel?
The same goes with every book on the list published during the last 20 years.

But I don't know what this list actually is. Recommended? Best books? What?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Yay, Winner!!!

I didn't know it would feel like this... I actually cried :-D And then I laughed, and listened to the cheering people :-D You are amazing bunch of people, NaNoWriMo and Office of Letters and Light :-)

Yes, I am a NaNoWriMo winner :-)
I have written over 50.000 words in November.
I am not done yet :-D
I am also especially proud because from 4th until 13th I didn't write much at all, and then it took me a little to get back on track again, so I have written 30.000 words in 10 days.

I feel darn good right now :-)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Some 7000 words later...

I'm hopelessly in love with my male lead... Is that bad?

It should mean, that if I love him, so will others...

but if I am getting jealous at my female lead - and she is still stupid... or actually she isn't. [I made a MarySue to bash her a little. She had to be a MarySue, otherwise she wouldn't have had the right to bash the poor girl. Heroines may not be bashed... because people are supposed to identify themselves with her. Anyway, after the bashing and straightening up, she is now only extremely ignorant and full of weird prejudices, but not stupid. It's more believable now that the hero could fall in love with her. I just don't like it one bit :-D Perhaps, because she isn't me - the MarySue is, and she's already married to the villain, and even though he is all nice and that, I like the little brother better :-D Maybe I get my villain leave his wife for the heroine, so that I... er... MarySue can get the hero ;-> No, he would never do that. But, on the other hand, look at her. Who would? On the third hand (how many are there?) she might be a total bitch. Of course she isn't because she's MarySue, but because she is, why would her husband ever even think of cheating her?]

I'm starting to feel more and more that I'm writing a Twilight :-D The female leas is "normal, average, not too pretty" (but kind of pretty, anyway) and the male lead is like SOOOO gorgeous. :-D
Isn't that suppose to happen too? But I wanted to write a mystery, thriller, suspense... and now I'm writing a paranormal romance :-D Nothing wrong with that, but... *sigh* It's like when you WANT to write one thing, but the story decides it's something else.

Also, there is this Finnish author, Kaari Utrio, whose heroines are ALWAYS red-heads and heros ALWAYS blonde... so I'm writing a Kaari Utrio! And it was totally accidental. I wanted a red-haired heroine, but not one with amazing green eyes, no, she would have brown eyes.
Then I made the villain, and I wanted to make him a Nazi, so - behold, Lucius Malfoy. But he would have dark blue eyes, slate-blue eyes, warm eyes. (He looks actually quite a bit like my nephew... Interesting.)
So then he invented himself a wife, who had the same color hair as the heroine, but different color eyes. Well... she decided to become real, not stay an invention, and my MarySue was born.
Then I created the hero, who is villain's little brother, so he had to be blond too, but whereas his brother was silver-blond with dark eyes, he was to be like a spring day, with sky-blue eyes and light, golden hair.

*sigh* *sigh* *sigh*
Well... Wasn't I supposed to sueify my book and add purple?

Anyway... isn't it nice to be a writer, you can take every person and character and mix it up and take what you like and leave what you don't like, and then play make-believe? In a world where everything is just as you like it... except when the characters and the plot and the side plots and all the other bits and pieces decide to take the story to a whole different direction... but that's nice too, it's like one of those books, you know, written just for you. You get to be the first person to read this brand new story! 

P.S. I wrote over 7000 words today for NaNoWriMo... I was hopelessly behind after my 10 days in Finland, but now it's starting to look possible again :-) Wahoo, me!

P.P.S. From writer today: a 12 step program for writers who care

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Can you tell I'm procrastinating?

Book Covers, Appendix I

A little inspiration for Helena :-)

James Bond covers

These are first edition dust jackets by Richard Chopping.
As far as I know, he didn't do it in this style for all of the books, which is a pity.
Pan covers from the 60's - above - and the 70's - below.
The 60's covers are surprisingly modern... I would have said 80's. I also have to say I think they are the most serious of the James Bond covers, and gives a bit seriousness to the books... They don't look immediately like pulp fiction.
The 70's collage covers really funny and very typical for the time :-D Though I wouldn't have thought this as James Bond cover...If I had to guess, I'd have said they are hobby book covers :-D

Richie Fahey's charming collage covers from 2003

And last, Michael Gillette's centennial covers. I simply love these. So perfect, have the bond girls and pulp fiction feeling, but still so stylish and beautiful and... yeah, different colors ;-) I'm bound to like that in covers :-D

Modesty Blaise Covers
Again, simple is best. The first one is the first cover ever made for Modesty, the last on the first row are the newest covers, from 2007.
The middle row is covers for the cartoon books, but would work for novels too.
The last row is the first print, as far as I understand. I love #3 - the pin-up girl with the HUGE iron something and the little bow... oh so CUTE!!! ROTFLMAO

Actually... for an action novel to work, Artemis Fowl covers might do too...

Book Covers

I don't remember if I have talked about this issue before, but I was watching the "30 covers in 30 days" at NaNoWriMo, and I am reminded of the talent of the designers/artists making book covers...

I have a simple taste. I like the graphic covers, with the name of the book, the author and perhaps a picture.
I also like colors. I fell in love immediately with these new covers for Jean M. Untinen Auel's Ayla books... I love the cave paintings, and the simplicity of these covers is just... perfect :-) I hope the artists also makes the cover for the next book, that is supposed to come out next year.

 And then there's always the magical, mystical, mythical and medieval... ;-)
Just wanted to mention here that I love Pauline Baynes, especially her black-and-white illustrations. May she rest in peace :-)
Her miniatures are absolutely amazing... I wish I had the patience and endurance to keep working with my miniatures, so that one day I might be as good as she was :-)

Added a little later:
I would very much like covers like these for my books:
These are inspired by Swedish John Eyre
who made the covers for the Swedish prints of Dan Brown's books, 
and something similar to this for the Finnish author, Väinö Linna.
I don't like the colors, nor the daisies, but the idea made me cry.
Thank you, John, for understanding the Finnish folk soul and Väinö Linna :´)

 P.S. I found this about the Outlander covers. Oh, how I wish they had stayed with this cover! I would never have thought it was something for me... :-( I hate the book. :-D

P.P.S. These are the covers for my NaNoWriMo, designed by yours truly. :-)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Words are magical

"Movie makers have it easy, it seems. To convey an emotional tone they have sets, lighting, props, music and the ability to show the foreground action and the background action."
- Every Picture Has a Story, WOW 
And so do the writers. We have words to light the scene, to set the tone, to add music and props... we make the story move fast by using verbs, or slow it down, calm and gently, to a nice, slow pace by using the versatile and descriptive adjectives... Words have color, tone and pictures. War is a hard and red word, death final and dark... love is a soft and pink word, dog happy and blue and brown, like little boys, frogs and carpenter pants. You can see the freckles, old straw hat and fishing rod, even when today they seldom exist. The dog has brown spots and it jumps around the boy and laughs, with tongue hanging out.
As Stephen King says, we are magicians working with telepathy all the time...

The article about symbolism is very interesting and inspiring. It made me think about how I could use symbols in writing, the magic and power of words, and seeing my work a little more like the work of the director and editor of a movie. Thank you, Patricia, for leading me to it :-)

Among the things she posted were Jane Friedman's There Are No Rules about query letters
and The Dreaded Rewrite, which I suppose I should be doing with my NaNo. I have started writing the story, got to the middle, introduced all the characters and I have outlined the end, but I don't know how to lead the beginning to the end, because I hate my stupid (yeah, she's dumb as a boot) MC, and cannot find one reason why my male lead would find her in any way attractive. Except that she's not uglier than any other woman, but my male lead isn't stupid, so he isn't shallow either. *sigh*
So - I just need to brighten her up a bit and make her a little more likable... perhaps she could have a soft spot in her heart to alley cats and kids, or something. Stand by the soup kitchen once a week and feed children... like she has asked the local public school if she may borrow their kitchen at weekends so that the kids who have nothing could come and at least have one warm meal in their tummies every day, or something.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

I don't understand why I ever thought...

that I would be a writer :-D

Yes, it's that phase of NaNoWriMo going on with me. I have managed to write over 15.000 words in November, and we have passed the 2/3 line, so I'm only some 15.000 words behind the schedule.

In spite of all my good plans and preparations, I'm stuck. I don't like my characters, and if I don't, who will?

It's really annoying, because I would LIKE to write books about all the things everyone else writes books at the moment; mythology, supernatural, superstitions, paranormal thingies... but I don't WANT to write about what everyone else is writing. :-(
It kind of doesn't cut it to say that "well, isn't there tons of romance novels too, and tons of fantasy, why not tons of novels of the paranormal, supernatural, mythical, magical and mystical?", it doesn't help telling myself that "It doesn't matter what anyone else writes, I'm the only one who can write what I write". I would LIKE to write something a little bit more original than that.

BTW; did you know that 10 years ago I didn't know there were romance novels about witches and vampires :-D I thought it was a novel thought, and that I might be able to write that. Perhaps, if I HAD written what I wanted to, 10 years ago. *sigh*

What was the 1st Paranormal Romance?
Isn't Dark Shadows and everything it bred a good candidate for that? How many of today's paranormal romance authors have actually seen and been influenced by the series? I think many...

Also, the curse of Mary Sue. I mean, we all write Mary Stus all the time, because we want to read about things that make us think about something else than our normal, boring lives, and we want to have a heroine who is smarter, prettier, more talented, more capable than everyday woman - especially me, who is not... well... I can't say "especially smart, because as far as I know and intelligence can be measured, I AM especially smart :-D Not that it's much help to me. If I am that smart, writing a book shouldn't be a big problem, don't you think? But obviously it is. 

It really shouldn't, because I can whip up a character, interesting but not Mary Sue, at any moment, and create this character a whole family, and neighbors with families, inhabit whole villages with imaginary people.
I can write dialogue, and I think it sounds ok.
I have ideas about stories, histories, storylines, and what nots. I can invent ten things, give my characters goals, fears, hopes and needs, that lead from one point to another...
I can also easily write a synopsis. It might not be an interesting synopsis, but a synopsis that says with a couple of words what the story is all about. Maybe that's my problem...
I have read so many times "kill your darlings", "avoid Mary Sues", "avoid purple prose", "keep it simple, keep it short", "if you can say it with one word, why use two" and so on and so forth, so that I keep killing and simplifying and peeling and trying to say with one word everything, so in the end I have only a handful of words, that are enough to tell the whole story... but it's not a novel. It's a synopsis.

Maybe I should do the opposite... try to write purple prose, Mary Sues and revive my "darlings"...

It was a dark and stormy night...