Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Outside my Box Blogontest

Tessa of Blurb has challenged us to write something outside our comfort zone for her blog contest, and for NaNo, I'm definitely doing that. For one, it's a book set in the early 1900s, which is definitely not my area of expertise. For two, it's psychological thriller/horror-esque, which is also, absolutely not something I do. Until now, I guess. So in honor of Tessa's Blogontest, allow me to offer you this excerpt, and then please do go read the contributions of the other participants!

This is probably my third attempt to draft this part of the book-- I'm not quiiiiiite sure it's made it to the level of horror/psychological thriller I'm looking for yet, but it's better by far than what it was. Evelyn is locked in a mental ward (placed there by her husband), questioning her sanity for a number of reasons, including a doctor who seems bent on torturing her, and the fact that she's seeing people who really should be dead.


Freaky enough?

P.S. I won't be posting on Friday, November 26th because I'm fairly certain most of my readership will be engaged elsewhere what with the Thanksgiving holiday, so have a great weekend, one and all!

P.P.S. due to family stuff, I will also be taking November 30th off from the blog. Sorry for the missed post. I should have something for you December 3rd.

Friday, November 19, 2010

What I mean when I say GOOD.

William Hunt & Edward Hughes Lady of Shalott
I went to see Morning Glory with my parents and husband this weekend, and it was great. Harrison Ford makes a fabulous curmudgeon, and Rachel McAdams is a wonderfully naive and perky go-getter. And of course I can't say no to Jeff Goldblum. For a drama, Morning Glory was punctuated with the perfect number of laugh-out-loud moments (none of which depended upon a gratuitous pot-smoking scene thank goodness), and I walked out of the theater feeling like I wanted to go back in and see it again.

But I also walked out of the theater feeling like I needed to write, and wishing I'd remembered to bring my purse with its ever-ready notebook to dive back into my current project. All I could think about was getting back to my book. And in my opinion, this is the critical element of what makes any movie, any book, any song, GOOD. For me, it isn't about story, or plot, or the nit-picking of lyrics. It isn't about what actors are in the film. It's about walking out of the theater with the compulsion to create!

 Spring by Pierre August Cot
Tolkien talks about sub-creation in his essay "On Fairy Stories" where he suggests that sub-creation is a natural compulsion spawned of our own original creation. God created us in his image, and clearly a large part of his image was the compulsion to create, which we inherited and translated into art, writing, imagination, Fantasy. Let me quote you the quote*:
"Fantasy remains a human right: we make in our measure and in our derivative mode, because we are made: and not only made, but made in the image and likeness of a Maker" ( page 75).
So, the art, music, literature that draws this part of us out, puts us back in touch with that compulsion--there is nothing better than that. And certainly the fact that it reaches us there is the most important element, the most magical element. I'm not sure we can ask for anything more from any kind of art than that. I'm not sure that there is more to want.

So, what movies, books, songs, paintings inspire you? What is your definition of GOOD? I've included some of mine in this post. 

Drops of Jupiter by Train

I don't even dare to start listing books and movies, or I'll never stop, but I think it goes without saying how much I enjoy the original Star Wars trilogy in film, and Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold and The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley.

*Source: Tolkien, J.R.R. "On Fairy Stories." The Tolkien Reader. New York: Ballantine Books, 1966. 33-99.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Blogfest: Retold!

Sarah of The Wit and Wisdom is hosting today's blogfest in honor of her Blogiversary! The challenge was to retell a myth/legend/fairy tale, which I'll admit is kind of one of my favorite things to do. Head over to her blog and check out the other participants!

My offering is an excerpt from my retelling of the myth of Theseus and the Labyrinth, told from Ariadne's perspective. Theseus has just arrived in Crete with the other tributes from Athens, and Ariadne as high priestess has called him to an audience. I hope you enjoy it!

Ariadne sent the rest of the slaves away and rose, smoothing the tiered skirt over her hips. The fabric glittered with gold and silver threads, finely woven into cresting waves, leaping with dolphins. Scallop shells of deep blue marked the hem. Fitting that she would meet the son of Poseidon dressed in the sea.
She poured two cups of wine with her own hands, pleased to see they did not tremble. At last she raised her eyes to the Athenian. He stood still as stone, his hands tied together before him. Even bound, she saw Poseidon’s grace in the lines of his body, and a confidence that made her wonder if he could free himself any time he wished. When her eyes reached the golden collar fitted to his neck, her face flushed and her nails bit into her palms.
She unlatched the collar, flinging it from him before fumbling with the ropes. She tore at the knots, careless of her nails. Freed, he caught her by the wrists, his long fingers circling both in one hand. She raised her eyes to his, understanding too late her error. If Poseidon sought to punish Crete, the god had no reason to spare her.
His blue eyes filled her vision, an ocean dappled by sunlight and gulls laughing in the water. The sound of waves crashing against the shore whispered in her ears. How could Minos have doubted the name of his father?
“You called me here to free me?”
She stared at him a moment longer, unable to look away from his face. “A son of Poseidon should not be chained like a slave.”
His eyes narrowed and his gaze swept over her, lingering on her chest before rising again to her face. “But a prince of Athens should share the fate of his people. I am promised to the Labyrinth and the Minotaur within.”
“You’ll kill him.”
He let her go abruptly, throwing her from him, but she did not trip or stumble. The Goddess left her with at least that much dignity. He seemed to know the room in one glance, moving to the balcony that opened out over the maze. 
She let him look his fill, watching the way the muscles of his back and shoulders tensed beneath the bronze skin. His right hand closed as if it wrapped around a sword and a strangled noise escaped her throat. How many times had she seen Asterion make the same gesture, begging for death?
Theseus turned, his forehead creased. He opened his hand, jerking it behind his back as if she had caught him trying to steal bread from the kitchen before a meal. She stepped forward, taking his hand in hers and gently closing his fingers around the missing hilt.
“You must kill him,” she said, staring at his hand. “Please.”
With a finger beneath her chin, he raised her face to his, catching her eyes, searching them. No gulls sported in the waves of that ocean’s gaze now, but the whisper of the seashore came to her again. Water driven against the land, determined to wash it away with every stroke. As Crete would be washed away by the will of the gods.
“Even if I do.” He spoke so softly she almost did not hear him. “Even if I defeat the Minotaur, I will still be lost to the Labyrinth.”
She released his hand and stepped back. “I can show you the way out.”
He shook his head, his hand falling limp to his side. “You betray your people to help me.”
“I serve the gods,” she said. “As you do.”
“I will need a sword.”
“You will have it.”
He clenched his fist, turning back to the maze. Dusk had settled over the palace, turning the sky purple and framing him in the glow of the setting sun. It would be an honorable death for her brother, to be killed by Poseidon’s own blood. An honorable death, to make up for all that Asterion had suffered in the Labyrinth. A final blessing from the gods.
“So be it,” Theseus said.
Ariadne let out a breath she had not realized she was holding. 
For you, Asterion. For everything Minos has done to you. For every insult he has shown us both. For you, I will help Theseus destroy us.
Outside, the Minotaur howled and the great walls of the Labyrinth groaned in response.

Friday, November 12, 2010

50K! OR NaNo Update III

I made it to 50K Wednesday night around 11:15pm. Forty-five minutes to spare! I'll be honest, 50K in ten days was a pretty ridiculous marathon, and if I'd had to pull together one more 5K day, my brain would be mush right now. As it stands, I took Thursday off of my NaNo book to write blogposts for GeekaChicas and catch up on some Graphic Novel reading. SO mentally exhausting!

This weekend I'm going to be going through a bunch of my stuff from my parents' attic, which is part of why I did my best to make it to 50K by the 10th. I wanted to get my COMPETITIVE writing out of the way before facation! But, I'm definitely not done writing this month, and my draft is definitely not complete. Usually my drafts end up somewhere between 80-100K.

My original plan for NaNo was to come out the other side with a completed draft for this book, but from the beginning I've been kind of unhappy with how the draft is working. There's so much more that I want to weave in and work out that just isn't making it onto the page right now, which is making me wonder if I would be better served beginning the book again and starting the rewrites and reorganization instead of going any further. I know how the book is supposed to end (maybe) and I know what I want to happen next, but the beginning is just rubbing me the wrong way. The tone isn't anywhere near what I wanted. (And if you want to know what I was aiming for, please feel free to revisit my Bad Boy Blogfest post. The first scene is pretty much exactly what I want this book to be.)

What would you do? Continue on with a draft to see where it ends up, even though it isn't what you want it to be already, or stop and start over again?

Monday, November 08, 2010

NaNo Update II

I totally meant to write a real blogpost for today, but I am Whooped. Exhausted. Wiped Out. Mostly because I have written 40,000 words in 8 days, I think. Probably in part because this book is one of the hardest and most emotionally draining stories I have ever written. (I totally just deleted "told" and replaced it with "written" and cringed at the lost word. What does that tell you?)

Anyway. You will have to settle for my word count update and the knowledge that I am working hard to hit 50K by the 10th. Tomorrow is going to be a very, very long day, if I do not get started first thing writing.

In addition to writing 40K words, I've also been reading-- I finished up the third book in the Sharing Knife series by Lois McMaster Bujold, then read the fourth book (which really gave me the heebeejeebies with that crazy giant Bat Malice Creature. Seriously, I almost could not sleep because of it!). Then I conquered The Great Gatsby and reread Speak. Now I'm going to be finishing up my reread of A Dragonfly in Amber. Apparently I read a lot while I'm writing, which, when I think about it, is not any kind of surprise really. I've always made sure I had a book on tap to read while working on a project.

And now for a list of things I should have researched in October!

  • electroshock therapy
  • concussions
  • The Zipper
  • C-sections
  • Banana Wine (admittedly this had nothing to do with the actual book, just curiosity)
  • Old Norse for "your hair" and other small translations. 
  • Lots more Icelandic than I know right now.
Look, I know this is a lame post, but I promise you once I hit 50K things will improve! Just stay with me :) And while you're here, what have YOU read lately? And do you like to read while you write?

Friday, November 05, 2010

A Giveaway! AND Nano Update!

I had a fabulous day one, guys! 7300+ words, and over the course of the week I managed to make it up to 21,800 words. Finding the right way to tell this story, however, is a little bit trickier than the writing part. And the research! I got blindsided just on day one with a TON of stuff I should have looked up in October. Including:
  • Clothing and fashions of the 1910s
  • Senators in Connecticut in 1910-1911
  • Women's Suffrage movement
  • History of legislation against domestic violence in Connecticut

In the process of all that research I also found this fascinating quote in an old newspaper article scan of a Special Session of the Senate on Mar 22, 1875:

"[Mr. Bayard] feared that there was a feeling growing up in this country among those who had control of it for some time, that the success of their party is of more consequence than the form of government under which we live."

But All of this is unimportant, because Stephanie Thornton is hosting a giveaway for Gary Corby's The Pericles Commission! Those of you who have been around the blog should already know Gary Corby, and if you're not following him already you should get on that, because his posts are great and super informative! The Pericles Commission is his debut, a murder mystery set in Classical Athens. How awesome is that? SUPER awesome, is the answer to that question. So. Enter to win Stephanie's Giveaway, and then if you don't win, Order the book. At Once. Or you know, order the book anyway. Give the prize to a friend or something. Do it. Now. Right this minute. What are you waiting for?!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Last Minute Research Reveals: Horagalles

Horagalles, or Thora Galles,  according to wikipedia, is a late name for Thor in Sami mythology. (Yeah, I know, Wikipedia, check other sources, etc, but at least it's a CITED article.) Firstly, I have to admit I had never heard of the Sami, but I want to learn EVERYTHING about them now. Secondly, if anyone out in the lands of blogtacularity knows any good books on the Sami, please let me know! Wiki tells me that they're a people from up waaay north in the Scandinavian lands, which makes all of what I'm about to say make a lot more sense, maybe.

Here's the thing: To the Sami, Thor wasn't just a thunder god, and he had more than just a hammer for a weapon. To the Sami, Thor was also an archer. He used the rainbow as a bow to shoot down evil spirits and demons. THE RAINBOW. I don't know about you, but it seems to me it would take a tremendously strong being to turn a rainbow into a bow. And there's more!

The Sami, according to Wikipedia (and believe you-me, when NaNoWriMo is over I'll be going straight to the library and the bookstore looking for more information to do a blogpost that doesn't rely on wikipedia!), also consider Thor to be god of oceans, lakes, human life, Health, and well-being!

I don't know about you, but picturing Thor as any kind of Archer is kind of blowing my mind right now. The attributes and associations on the other hand, are not. This is what I've been saying for FOREVER to anyone who would listen. Thor isn't just a bruiser, he's a guardian, a protector, a friend. Connecting Thor to well-being, in addition to human life, tells us he isn't just about the beating enemies down. He's also about building people up. This culture and mythology is exactly what I have been looking for as a link to what I've discovered for myself as I explore Thor's character, and the traditional Norse myths.

I'm not going to lie, I am pretty darn excited. When NaNo is over, I'll be digging into this with both hands, and I just can't wait to see what turns up.