Friday, June 28, 2013

Pintrest, but with words

I'm forever coming across things - bits of dialogue, story kernels, names, phrases - which I want to keep, thinking that one day they may make it into my writing. They pop into my head unbidden, or I overhear them on the subway/bus, or I read them in a book/newspaper/magazine/whatever and don't want to let them go.

It's like Pintrest, but with words instead of pictures.

I'm hardly the only writer who does this. Part of writing is being open to inspiration, and this is one way - a good way - to do it.

So I present to you some bits and pieces I've collected semi-recently.

Two lanterns burning and no ship at sea

What if everyone in the world had a fairy godmother except for you?

ASPCA investigator for aliens

Six-toed cats are lucky (like Flanders)

Cathedrals of sound

Dwindle, Peak, and Pine, Esquires
Personal Injury lawyers specializing in prophetic malpractice

And my personal favorite:

"Your shower smells like death."
"That's because there's a vampire roosting in it."

That one, by the way, comes from real life. My shower currently smells like something died in it, despite the fact that I haven't used it for 3-4 years, and I am not amused.

Friday, June 21, 2013

In which I am ambitious and likely set myself up for failure

Things to be done today, sort of in order.
  • Finish reading Bill's novel and give him my notes (Bill, you have the patience of a saint and I am horribly taking advantage).
  • Finish cleaning my room (Or at least take care of the stuff on the floor. Clearing off the bookshelf/dresser and going through the products in my bathroom can happen tomorrow)
  • Purchase a birthday present and a card for a ballet-mad little girl
  • Buy some work pants
  • Buy some fabric to make baby presents (I am planning to make a pillow shaped like a lamb and also a terrycloth ducky that can go in the bath)
I shall return later and let you know if I actually managed any of them.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Everything's Beautiful at the Ballet

So I took a half day today to take a little girl I babysit to the ballet.

She was so cute - extremely excited, all dressed up, perfectly behaved the whole time. She's about to turn five and not very big so we had to get a cushion for her to sit on. It was totally adorable.

I was actually really happy to be seeing Swan Lake. I got some last minute tickets in the fall from the Barnard dance department but I was way on the side and only had a partial view of the stage. This time we had amazing tickets - center orchestra, not too far back.

I'm not as familiar with ABT as I am with NYCB, as proved by a quick perusal of the program. I recognized only a handful of names. Hee Seo was dancing Odette/Odile, but I had never seen her before so I was interested to see how she did. Siegfried was being danced by Marcelo Gomes who is always perfect.

Hee Seo turned out to be gorgeous. She has beautiful legs and feet and extremely expressive arms (which is super necessary for Odette especially). Odette/Odile is a hard role - one because it's a marathon and two because they're basically polar opposites - but Hee did a wonderful job.

If I had to criticize, I'd say she's not really a turner. Her fouettes, the big showstopper moment in act III, were not great. There was a lot of movement and she never pulled in for multiples, not even at the end. Not that I should really be talking, my fouettes are atrocious, but there you are. She also seemed to be struggling a bit with the step overs in her act II variation.

(By the way, if you want to see a stellar coda check out Gillian Murphy. Her turns start at 0:30 if you're in a hurry although it's worth watching the whole thing because Angel Corella is also phenomenal. I don't love Gillian's arms but you can't argue with the bravura!)

Despite my nitpicks with her turns, Hee was absolutely stunning in all of the pas. She's definitely a lyrical dancer. And when she was with Marcello - as;dlfjwa;lf. No, seriously, that is how inarticulate they make me. It was beautiful. Marcello is a gorgeous partner. And his turns! In his act III variation he did a pirouette, finished in passe, then gave us a cheeky grin and pulled in for more! God.

I was pleasantly surprised by a few of the soloists. In particular, one of the pas de trois girls and the four little swans. Four little swans was totally fierce - although I have to admit that no matter how good it is I cringe a little bit inside while I'm watching because four swans is a bitch  to do. Not because it's that hard but it's disproportionately difficult to do anything when you're holding hands with three other girls. Anyway, I'll have to keep an eye out for them in the future. The corps, on the other hand, was rather messy. I know it's early in the run but some things were really obviously not together.

The production overall is very nice, with lavish sets and costumes. I much prefer it to the City Ballet version, which looks like it was designed and painted by a child. I understand they were going for a more modern look, which I don't object to in principle, but the execution failed spectacularly. Ah, well.

Swan Lake also has one of the most gorgeous scores ever composed for ballet (in my opinion at least). It's Tchaikovsky at his finest. And I'm always surprised, every time I go, how much of the music I know! I could probably hum 70% of the score from memory. Considering how beautiful and complex and tragic it is, it's very catchy.

Some people complain about the mitigation of the downer ending, but I don't mind it. Speaking of which, Marcello got some serious air time jumping into the lake.

So that was my day; it's interesting timing because I just started reading Mercedes Lackey's Black Swan (recommended by Tami). I'm curious to see what she does with the story and how she adapts it to novel form. I'm only a chapter in but I was pleased to see a nod to the four swans/cygnets in the first chapter, even as I cried a little inside, thinking about those echappe heads.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Ballet has its own language. If anyone is reading and wants a translation/elaboration/explanation just ask! Also some french words are probably spelled wrong (although I do try to get them right) and missing accents as I am not in the mood to figure out how to put them in on Blogger and no I do not want to copy-paste from Word right now.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Eclectic Reader Challenge

I read a lot. I always have.

What I don't always do is read in many different genres. Sure, occasionally there will be a book someone suggests or lends me which falls outside the parameters of fantasy and science fiction, and I'll give it a go. But those are few and far between. (Actually Lily/Rat has been force-feeding me Jodi Picoult books for a couple years now and I'm enjoying them just fine. As long as they have happy endings. I will not read the sad ones.)

So today, when I came across the "Eclectic Reader Challenge" while wasting time on the interwebs, it seemed like the perfect way to get me reading something new.

The challenge is to read one book in each specified genre. The categories are:
  • Translated fiction
  • Historical mystery
  • Romantic suspense
  • Made into a movie
  • New Adult
  • Urban Fantasy
  • Dystopian
  • Memoir
  • LGBT
  • Action Adventure
  • Humour
  • Published in 2013
 Join in, if you'd like and have the time. And suggestions are welcome, particularly in categories I don't usually read (LGBT, Action adventure, Romantic suspense) or anything I don't already have a book listed for.

I have some ideas already for what I will read, which I will share here. And I'll offer some comments, if not a full review, after each book.
  • Made into a movie - The Silver Linings Playbook, or Sense and Sensibility. Or both.
  • Dystopian
  • Action Adventure

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

From the Archives: Small Monkeys

Judging by the handwriting, dated somewhere around 7th or 8th grade.

Kira scrambled up the anchor-tree, her rope trailing behind her. She leaped from branch to branch, as nimble as a monkey. 

"Kira!" Jo'sun called from below. "Tie that up quick and get down here! We're due back soon - and don't break your neck doing monkey acrobatics, you're my lightest and smallest. I need you!"

Kira's laugh rang out. "Don't worry, jhan," she teased, lovingly insulting Jo'sun in her native Sha'ta, a desert language, "I'll come back unbroke!"

Jo'sun growled, cursing all small monkeys masquerading as humans with wicked humor. "Before I grow old, miss!"

Kira laughed again, tying the kite to a sturdy branch. "Done! And don't tell me I wasn't fast enough - I've seen Aktor try it." Kira dropped, landing in a crouch by Jo'sun's feet. "Besides, he can't do devil's tongue knots - he can't even tie a monkey's tail - and I can. So don't threaten me!"

"Oh no, I know better than that. But you don't pay for the food, so let's not use that high-and-mighty tone with- " He was interrupted by the clang of the great bell.

"Race you," called Kira, off and running. Jo'sun leaped astride her horse, and set off after her.

  • Kites tied to anchor-trees are somehow significant, with children used as climbers. I'm not certain if anchor-trees are real trees or just something tree-shaped. Also not sure what the kites are supposed to do - maybe some kind of wind magic?
  • The lack of information here means that this would not be a great opening - random unexplained jargon drop - unless a little more description was added. Mystery is fine, but the reader needs some grounding.
  • There are a lot of exclamation points - partially forgivable because Kira is excitable and, at least for the first part of the conversation, twenty feet up a tree (speaking of which, she got down that tree awfully fast). Got to indicate shouting somehow, I suppose...
  • Gratuitous apostrophes. Could be justified for either Jo'sun's name or the Sha'ta language, but probably not both because Jo'sun is implied to be a native of wherever they are now. My gut is telling me to leave it in Sha'ta.
  • Another Kira. Not sure why I repeat names so much.
  • I only skimmed this before typing it up. As I was transcribing, I was totally convinced Jo'sun was a guy until that last sentence. Not sure which version I like better. (Oh, and now I see I had "he" in the previous sentence...)
  • Conclusion: worth continuing when I get a chance. I'm curious about these kites. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Review: Hunting by Andrea Host

I'm still getting the hang of writing reviews, so this is less a proper review and more my ramblings on the book.

Also posted on Goodreads.

I would rate it 4.5 stars if I could, but I enjoyed myself so much reading this book that I'm rounding up instead of down.

I bought Hunting on sale ($0.99) and it was more than worth the money. The world is inventive and feels fresh, the characters are generally well written, and the dialogue is funny.

I have a few quibbles with the book, one being that the motivations of the antagonists feel a bit murky to me, even after finishing. I don't quite follow the logic - and that's even more frustrating because I feel like it could all make sense if there was just a little more book to explore it. The ultimate antagonist was never really defeated, and if that avenue was just explored a little more...

The romance between the two main characters felt a bit rushed, again, something that could easily have been fixed with just a couple more chapters of angst.

Because the world/political system/religion was complex and unique I wanted a little bit more explanation. I muddled through and mostly got it by the end, but I would have liked to be clearer from the beginning.

It also just felt too short to me.  I finished the book wanting more.

Having said all that, I thoroughly enjoyed Hunting and will certainly seek out more of Ms. Host's work

Monday, June 10, 2013

In which I venture slightly into publishing and purchase some empty boxes

Greetings. Gosh it's been a while, hasn't it? Thanks to Bill for the poking.

A lot is going on in my life right now, most of it terribly mundane. I am cleaning and reorganizing my room (hence the empty boxes - a trip to the Container Store is on the list for today). I am starting not one but two summer jobs, both of which require obscene amounts of paperwork to be completed. And blood tests. I am trying new things to get my skin to clear up (the great bane of my college years. Seriously, I made it through all of high school with no problems and now acne armageddon). I am walking the dog, and making my bed, and dusting the living room, and reading books.

And I am writing.

Not too long ago I joined one of the most lovely writing groups around. I am fortunate enough to get to participate in their latest short story anthology and we are currently coming up on the end of the first critiquing period. I'm gearing up for revisions, as it's looking like a pretty significant restructuring. Eventually the anthology will be self-pubbed and I'll put up a link when it is.

I haven't forgotten about Princess, either - I'm still hashing out plot points for the middle of the book and working up my courage to begin writing in earnest. This novel, I will finish.