9.17.2014

Book Review: The Hob and the Deerman by Pat Walsh

A long time ago, I posted a review for The Crowfield Curse by Pat Walsh. Like, a really long time ago. Like, I think it was the first book review I ever posted. Wait, nope, it wasn't the first—but it was my first solo positive review for a book, all the way back in 2011.

So imagine my surprise and delight when recently the author herself contacted me asking if I'd review her newest book, which happens to be Crowfield-related. It was a lot of surprise. And a lot of delight. I may have looked a little something like this:


Of course I said A;SDKFAD;LFSJ YES OMG YES I WILL DO THIS (only, you know, more coherently) and she sent me the book and I'll say THANK YOU right here and everything else in the review down below.

~*~*~*~

22740115The Hob and the Deerman by Pat Walsh

Pros: Fey and ghosts and monsters; well-researched; has some really beautiful imagery and folkloric atmosphere.
Cons: The ruins and ruination of the ruins in the beginning was very ruinous; wasn't quite sure if the story was ever going to wrap up until the end; I can't really think of a third con to put here so I'm just going to write that I really want to eat some bread and cheese and hazelnuts because that's what the hob was eating all the time in this book.

Intellectual Rating: 8 out of 10 stars
Emotional Grade: A-

Book Blurb: (from Goodreads) In a place where the everyday world and the Otherworld meet, anything can happen...

Crowfield Abbey lies in ruins and a ghostly crawling man haunts the long abandoned rooms and cloisters.

When Brother Walter the hob returns to the abbey, he finds it a desolate, troubled place. The ghost of a young girl waits in vain for her father to come for her. A boggart lurks in the abbey drain, and the statues and wall paintings are disappearing, one by one...

And who is mysterious Deerman of the forest?

With the help of a young village boy and a stone hob brought to life, the hob desperately attempts to unravel old secrets and right an ancient wrong. Time is running out for the hob and it is not always easy to tell your friends from your enemies.

Alz's Take: Actually, now that I've read the blurb above, I have to say that while it isn't exactly misleading, it does make the book sound like an thrilling action-packed adventure. And to be sure, there is action, including but not limited to a creepy-ass ghost-monster thing that crawls around in gray tatters of rag and bone, a boggart that smells really really bad (I mean, he lives down inside the latrines pretty much), and assorted pursuit and escapes involving them.

But really, this isn't a story focused on action and solving mysteries—this is a ghost story about remembrance and the preservation (and sad decay/destruction) of the past, of moving on despite reluctance for what has been lost or left behind, of learning to embrace new things and friends, and above all else, not abandoning friends in need. Action and mystery-solving are aspects of The Hob and the Deerman, but are not the thematic focus. The atmosphere is one of wistfulness, mystery, and hope. It's really quite lovely.

Brother Walter (he's not a monk but was named by a monk, hence the whole Brother thing) is a hob, which is a little catlike/doglike furry fey creature that most people can't see. If you've read the Crowfield books, you'll recognize him; if not, no matter, this book functions well enough as a standalone. The book begins with him searching for a new home since winter is coming and all men must die.


Brother Walter remembers he once used to live by Crowfield Abbey and decides to seek shelter there for now. And then he finds the abbey is in ruins and everybody he knew there is dead or gone or both. He's shocked and saddened as he explores the ruins, and in doing so he comes across not only the ghost of a little girl still waiting for her father to come back for her, but living folk from the local village who have been hired by their (of course despotic and jerkfaced) lord to bring the carved stone blocks from the abbey so he can use them to prettify the fancy house he's building.

There is, of course, a young boy with them. His name is Ned Stark Swyfte.

Eddard Stark does not feature in The Hob and the Deerman.
I don't know why all these Game of Thrones references are popping up
but I swear that this is the last one.
Anyway, Ned can see the hob and isn't afraid of him; they become friends and the hob finds out that the stone carvings have been disappearing from the abbey, and by disappearing, I mean the carvings themselves are vanishing from the stone and leaving a blank surface behind.

Then there's the business of the abbey supposedly being haunted, and what do you know, it is (see earlier note about creepy-ass crawling tattered ghost thing). I have to admit that the mystery about the ghost thing was a little underwhelming in the end but I appreciate that it wasn't overly complicated. Also, I feel like I either missed something when reading or there was an editing error because on p. 84 there is a mention about the ghost girl telling the hob something that I don't remember her telling him, and when I skimmed through the book again, I still couldn't find any mention of this, but it would have given more foreshadowing/context to the crawly creeper ghost.

That one error aside though, the rest of the book is beautifully, sparely written. Descriptions are straightforward but when it really counts, there are some truly evocative lines, especially concerning the Deerman, who is a powerful and mysterious figure. Though about the ruinous ruination of ruins thing I mentioned as a con: the first couple of chapters deal with the hob returning to the abbey and exploring it, and while the passages describing the natural decay and willful destruction of the abbey were poignantly written, they were rather extensive. Fortunately everything smoothed out from there.

Our hero is Brother Walter is really a great character--at once an old soul and an innocent one, brave and fearful, desiring to live in peace and comfort but willing to sacrifice both if it means doing the right thing.  Despite descriptions indicating that hobs look something both doglike and catlike, for whatever reason I, uh, always vaguely pictured hobs to look like a mix of the Lorax and a pine marten.

+ =
 
Although inaccurate to the text, this is the hob that scurries about in my mind.

The book doesn't have a thrust so much as it does a flow, of Brother Walter discovering things and making connections and helping Ned and the ghost girl and even the ghost pig—yes, you read that right, there is a ghost pig, and she's a nice ghost pig named Mary Magdalene that Brother Walter knew in the past. And no, she's not a twee cutesy ghost sidekick (thank god) or anything or even a major player in this book, she really is just a pig.

Snoozing together.
Anyway, Brother Walter always ends up helping his new friends, because that is what friends do. And yet the narrative doesn't feel pushy or overly sentimental about this; Brother Walter himself doesn't dwell on these things for long, he simply does them, and is puzzled/deferential when people tell him he is brave. And really, he is one hell of a brave little hob. Most of his bravery stems from the fact that he is in fact terrified during assorted encounters but he pushes through to do the right thing without conscious thought—usually. When conscious thought is involved, he goes through some realistic doubts and unbidden thoughts, i.e. Well-crap-this-looks-extraordinarily-dangerous-what-if-I-just-nip-off-right-now-and-leave-these-guys-to-fend-for-themselves-types of thoughts.

The book is short, clocking in at 154 pages, but it's the perfect length. Any longer and things would have dragged on; any shorter and I would have felt cheated. As it is, I wasn't entirely sure if the book was going to wrap up or if there was going to be a direct sequel, because I was getting near the end and there were fewer and fewer pages left—but the buildup came to a satisfying climax, and the ending felt right. While I kind of wish there had been more explanation of certain supernatural elements, any more than what's there might have ruined the balance of mystery.

Alz's Conclusion: The Hob and the Deerman is a novella chock-full of folkloric, mythological, and historical elements, featuring a diminutive hob who befriends those in need and really is braver than he thinks he is. It's a great, charming read whether or not you've read the other Crowfield books. I hope there are more novellas forthcoming featuring Brother Walter.

9.10.2014

What's Up Wednesday (45)


What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme geared toward readers and writers, so we can check in with each other. To join, just check out Jaime Morrow or Erin Funk's blogs for the link widget and sign up!


WHAT I'M READING

Lots of reading since last I blogged. I finished HEIR OF FIRE and reviewed it here last week (but beware some spoilers if you haven't read any of Throne of Glass books), and the book is out now. I also finished the moving and uplifting A TIME TO DANCE and mini-reviewed it on goodreads.

As with the first book, ANTIGODDESS, I blasted through MORTAL GODS over the weekend. Kendare Blake's modern take on Greek gods and heroes is one of my favorites and the most fun. She also writes cruel, killer endings. My feels are still a mess from it. The book isn't out until October, so it means I have even longer to wait for the next! Aaahh!


I'm currently reading the lushly written, dark fairy-tale-esque THORN JACK, and my first Nina LaCour book with EVERYTHING LEADS TO YOU.



WHAT I'M WRITING

I've taken a break from the verse story, but I've been reading some poetry and verse for inspiration. Been tinkering with the Cinderella WIP as well.


WHAT ELSE I'VE BEEN UP TO

The Sis and I have recently gotten hooked on the reality TV show: THE QUEST. I'm not much for reality TV in general, but this show is kind of amazing. It puts contemporary contestants in a fantasy world, Everealm, on a mission to find the one "true hero" who will save the 12 kingdoms from darkness. It's great because it's basically a fantasy nerd's dream!

I also attended my 10 year high school reunion, and it was actually quite fun! It was great catching up with people but also reconnecting with old friends (the ones that I don't still hang out with). Props to my college roommate and HS senior class president for organizing most of the reunion from Paris. She's a boss.


Yesterday was the Sister's birthday! We tried to get Captain America: The Winter Soldier on BluRay, but alas, it was sold out! Hopefully, we'll be able to pick it up later in the week.


As part of her birthday gift, I have created a new Instagram account for her, one that we've discussed in the past. You see, the Sister has a knack for imitating things and it's about time that talent was celebrated. So check out @ImitationCat on Instagram and follow! It's still being built now, but here's a sample of what's to come.



CALL FOR YA BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

Instead of an Inspiration section this week, I wanted to use this space to help out my friend and fellow YA reader/writer/tweeter Sarah (@sarahgoldberg) with an academic project of hers. This is fitting for this section anyway because Sarah is inspiring!

Anyway, Sarah is doing all sorts of cool stuff in grad school, and she's thinking about participating in a YA Panel at a conference in the spring. But to do that, she needs to read up on YA books pertaining to her topic. Here's what she's looking for:

"I'm looking for YA, especially of the last 15 years or so, that deals (more than usual) with consumerism, capitalism, and critiques thereof. In other words, I'm interested in books that explore how teens are initiated into our (capitalist) consumer society, and points of tension in that process: examples where that initiation breaks down, because of exclusions or marginalization from the system; instances where characters question, reject, or rework its basic tenets, etc.

For example, books in which teens have jobs or books that take place in or feature identifiable consumerist settings (like the mall) might be likely to deal with these issues. Some of the books I already have in mind are THE BLONDE OF THE JOKE, CONFESSIONS OF THE SULLIVAN SISTERS, FANGIRL, and THE VAST FIELDS OF ORDINARY.

This list is very contemporary YA heavy and not very diverse, so I'd also be interested in ideas of books from other genres or representing a more diverse range of experiences."

So if you know of any books that might fit this criteria, please let me know or tweet them at Sarah! If you know anyone who might be able to help, please signal boost this request!

Many thanks!!

What's up with you?

9.03.2014

Book Review: HEIR OF FIRE by Sarah J. Maas

It's been a while since our last book review, and that's partly my fault because I'm lazy and reviews (for me) take a long time. Not that I don't enjoy doing them! I do. It just takes a considerable time commitment - what can I say, I'm long-winded and think too much about stuff.

ANYWAY, I was very lucky to have received an e-ARC of one of YA's most popular recent fantasies: HEIR OF FIRE, the 3rd book in the THRONE OF GLASS series. The book is out now (yay!), so you won't have to wait at all post-reading this review.

We did a joint mini-review of THRONE OF GLASS here in the past, and while we weren't particularly impressed with the first installment, we liked it enough to continue the series. I, for one, think it's an entertaining read, and I thought the follow-up CROWN OF MIDNIGHT was a marked improvement from ToG. I didn't review it here, but I did a mini-review of CROWN OF MIDNIGHT on goodreads. (You can also find what I thought of the novellas on goodreads.)

So, here's what I thought about this latest entry into the series!

HEIR OF FIRE by Sarah J. Maas



Disclaimer: I received an e-ARC through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I also sometimes interact with Sarah Maas on Twitter (she's a sweetheart).

PROS: Expansive world-building; growing cast of intriguing characters; epic plot starting to really happen; focus on non-romantic relationships; pretty good pacing, especially considering how separated the main cast is and that this is a transition novel

CONS: This being a transition kind of book, the pacing does sag a little at parts; unnecessary number of POVs; kind of meh romance; a diversity/trope issue I'll explain below

Intellectual Rating: 7 out of 10
Emotional Grade: B

Goodreads blurb:
Lost and broken, Celaena Sardothien’s only thought is to avenge the savage death of her dearest friend: as the King of Adarlan’s Assassin, she is bound to serve this tyrant, but he will pay for what he did. Any hope Celaena has of destroying the king lies in answers to be found in Wendlyn. Sacrificing his future, Chaol, the Captain of the King’s Guard, has sent Celaena there to protect her, but her darkest demons lay in that same place. If she can overcome them, she will be Adarlan’s biggest threat – and his own toughest enemy.

While Celaena learns of her true destiny, and the eyes of Erilea are on Wendlyn, a brutal and beastly force is preparing to take to the skies. Will Celaena find the strength not only to win her own battles, but to fight a war that could pit her loyalties to her own people against those she has grown to love?


**Warning: Spoilers for events through Crown of Midnight from here on out.**

REVIEW:

I think this might be my favorite of the Throne of Glass books so far, probably because it finally feels like we're getting into the real story. In many ways ToG was mostly an introduction to the world and characters, and if you look at it, structurally it has the most self-contained storyline - the King's Champion competition. Whereas both Crown of Midnight and now Heir of Fire are books that are driven by how they feed into the series plot.

World-building

Heir of Fire is different from the past two books because it takes us outside of Adarlan, though some of the story does still stay there. At the end of CoM, Celaena was sent to Wendlyn, across the sea where magic still exists. I'd been curious about what Wendlyn's attitude towards the brutal expansion of Adarlan was, and perhaps more importantly, I had wondered what the Fae thought about the banishment of magic in Adarlan and the slaughter of their kin in Terrasen. So it was great to get answers to these questions, as well as just see what life is like in a kingdom un-oppressed!

The other locale we're taken to is up into the mountains where the King has gathered the Ironteeth Witch covens. What we learn here is more about the bigger plot, essentially that the king has wyverns, and we meet a new set of players in the game. The witches and their culture are fascinating with its brutality, yet strict governing system. I loved Manon Blackbeak - a new character who is obviously going to be integral to the series plot in the future - and her Thirteen.

New Characters

The new characters introduced in this installment were very intriguing, and they add layers to the dangerous game that's being played. Although, I will say that I don’t think all the POVs we got in this volume were necessary. As I mentioned above, I loved Manon Blackbeak and her Thirteen. I think the Witch Clans will definitely be something of a wildcard element to the series arc that's being spooled out, and while I didn't find this POV superfluous, it is the most tangential of the main stories being played out.

Other new characters, Aedion and Ren play roles that are more straightforward, but they definitely upped the tension in regards to what is brewing in Adarlan and Rifthold. I enjoyed the addition of the Fae warrior prince Rowan. Not only did he give us a glimpse of what the Fae are like and what controlled magic looks like, he gave Celaena the kind of tough love that I think she needed. He also was one of the more intriguing new non-romantic relationships introduced in this book. I'm very curious as to how he will fit into the series plot moving forward.

Old Characters

There wasn't as much Dorian in this book, which was sad for me (since I love him), but it made sense considering how his role has been diverging from Chaol and Celaena’s since the last book. He has his own problems to deal with, and given what he doesn't know, it's hard for him to be involved with the bigger arc. That isn't to say he's been side-lined because where this book takes him is, well, it's not pretty and it certainly has me waiting with bated breath as to what will happen next.

Chaol too has a tough time in this book, more so than Dorian because he's a man torn between his loyalties to his friends, country, and family. I did not envy his position, but I was pleased with how he has been forced to really examine his beliefs and feelings. His world get shaken up in this one too.

Last but not least, our MC Celaena Sardothien! It was great to see Celaena explore the magical and Fae part of her heritage now that it's out in the open about who and what she is. I do wish (as I have in other books) that Celaena gave more indication of what was going on in her inner life. I understand that she's spent 10 years repressing her memories and that hiding her past is how she has survived - and I also understand the concept of unreliable narrators and having to keep plot information from the audience - but it still (even in this 3rd book) strikes me as odd the way Celaena doesn't seem to internally acknowledge or react to potentially triggering stimuli (other than in maybe the vaguest of terms) until the story calls for it.

The example I always come back to is her fear of the king. In one of the last novella prequels to ToG, she suddenly expresses knee-wobbling fear of the King of Adarlan. Yet the first time I am aware of any kind of visceral fear from her is this moment in the last novella, despite Celaena's having lived lived in the Capitol city within sight of the Glass Castle for the past decade and having to think about and/or talk about the king at least in passing. I guess, for me, when a character seems that afraid of someone/thing, it's weird when they give no indication of it... until the plot absolutely calls for it.

Anyway, that personal nitpicky feeling aside, I do appreciate that this book was about Celaena finally facing her inner demons and coming to terms with both her failures (perceived and otherwise) and her responsibilities. She frustrated me at many turns, but I also felt for her and understood why she didn't want to accept certain things and why she kept running away. In my mini-review of ToG, I said I felt like I knew Celaena only on a shallow level, but in this book, she's finally starting to feel more real to me.

I think Maas did a good job making Celaena believable, and though there were many times I wanted to shake her or yell at Celaena, I was still waiting and hoping for her to pull through. I didn't want her to fail, and I think keeping people on the side of frustrating characters is a feat in and of itself for authors.

Pacing

This book is very much a transition book, so there's not real driving plot. It's mostly character arcs and laying the groundwork for the series plot-line. That isn't to say there isn't a mystery and some action set-pieces. There is - with Celaena's story being rightfully the meatiest. I think the various threads we're given help keep the tension and the pacing up.

But it is a long book, so I think there are some sections that run a little slower than others. It also depends on what interests you as a reader. I've seen some people say the witch sections are the slow sections since they have the least to do with everything else, but I found the witch politics, Manon, and the wyverns captivating. On the other hand, I found the Sorscha (another new character) POV sections a bit pointless. Her role in the story is important, but I wasn't sure if she needed a point of view - though it did lend a bit of sweetness to an otherwise darker book.

One gripe: Trope

This gripe isn’t a deal-breaker and I obviously don't think it was a trope that was planned, but I do think it’s important to note. Given Nehemia’s fate in the last book, I was not happy with the way Sorscha’s story line went because taken together, these two characters fall into a very common trope that happens to characters of color in fiction. They can be great characters -beloved characters- but ultimately, the role they serve is to further the plot and/or character arcs of the white protagonists.

Sorscha is one of the new characters introduced in this book, and the only one who sounds like a non-white character (at the very least, she has darker skin). (Yes, I know, some of the new characters are witches and Fae and whatnot, but they’re all described as pale-skinned, pale-haired, and exotic-eye colored - which will be interpreted as white-looking first.) She has a POV and plays a pretty important role, but when it comes down to it, the only real purpose she serves is to further the story and character arc for Dorian, and on a smaller scale for Chaol and the series storyline.

(Picture references for Sorscha from Maas' ToG pinterest board.)

I get that all supporting characters are basically there to forward the story for the MCs, but Sorscha seriously is a love interest and a plot point and that's it - which is why I found her POV sections kind of unnecessary (short and infrequent as they were). Anything we learn from her POV could easily have been transmitted through other characters or methods. And it would be fine if supporting characters are just there to support, but it falls into problematic territory when it's only the non-white characters who occupy this category without becoming anything else (Nehemia seemed to have more going on, but Sorscha is firmly in the supporting character - and not really much else - category).

This isn’t to call out or condemn this book series or anything. It’s just to point out a common but problematic trope in story-telling media at large. To give you another good, recent example, the wildly popular Hunger Games does this too with Rue (specifically in the movie, where Katniss loses the racial ambiguity she had in the book). She was a memorable and well-liked character, but more importantly, Katniss liked her. In the end though, her role in the story was to help Katniss not only survive the Hunger Games but to start becoming a symbol for the rebellion. Her friendship with Katniss is what made Thresh save Katniss’ life later in the Games. Her death drives home the brutality of the Capitol and the Games to Katniss and to the reader. It inspires Katniss’ acts of defiance, which in turn stoke the fire of the rebellion. The most important thing about Rue is not even what she stood for (i.e. innocence) but what she does for Katniss.

And that’s what sucks about both Nehemia (who I think was a great character) and Sorscha. They are basically the two most important characters of color in this series to date (all other dark-skinned people mentioned are the nameless people of Adarlan conquered nations), and this is what they do for the story.

*Highlight the section below for Crown of Midnight and Heir of Fire spoiler*


And out of the growing cast of characters, the two named women of color are the ones who get fridged in service to the plot and angst of the protagonists (who are white). I mean, even typical “mean girl” Kaltain from Book 1 is alive and out in Erilea somewhere, likely to re-emerge in a big way in later books! And I don’t know if I find it ironic or just plain troubling that Nehemia herself thought -within the story!- that she would be of more use to the rebellion (and Celaena) dead than alive. That’s like the trope incarnate - plotted and executed by the character herself!



So that’s disappointing, especially since I think the ToG series does a lot of other cool things (e.g. focus on female relationships, platonic relationships, badass heroine who is also very feminine). There are 3 more books in this series though, so I only hope that we get more non-white looking people who actually, you know, stick around and get to be part of the story in the way I had hoped Nehemia would be part of it or in the way Manon is obviously going to be part of it.

CONCLUSION:

Overall though, I think Sarah Maas outdid herself in this installment. I think she improves with each book, and I love that the world keeps expanding and feeling more real as we see more of it. And again, I still think this series is a great, accessible way to get into the Fantasy genre for casual and new fantasy readers.

When Celaena's plot for this book came to a close, it had me wishing I had the next one. In fact, the place where Maas leaves the main characters has me so, so excited for the next book. Yes, this volume was more like a bridge to the real story, but it sets up so many intriguing things. Decisions have been made, people are in very different places from where they started. Very much looking forward to the next!

P.S. Chat me up for book discussions when you've finished reading this because oh my gooooooood.

8.27.2014

What's Up Wednesday (44)


What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme geared toward readers and writers, so we can check in with each other. To join, just check out Jaime Morrow or Erin Funk's blogs for the link widget and sign up!

WHAT I'M READING
Still reading Heir of Fire and A Time to Dance. Enjoying both immensely.

I also finally read WHERE SHE WENT, Gayle Forman's follow-up to IF I STAY. I really liked IF I STAY back when I first read it and thought it ended right where it should. Though most people I knew told me WHERE SHE WENT was great and that they even liked it more than IF I STAY, I was skeptical. But I finally read it and it was such a worthy sequel! And yes, I liked it more than the first!


WHAT I'M WRITING
The verse novel. Check out my last Ready.Set.Write! update. Sadly, it is the end of the RSW summer writing intensive. But the cool thing is the RSW ladies are hosting a CP/beta match-up for RSW participants on Thursday. Check out any of the host blogs (linked at the top of all the RSW posts) for more info!


WHAT INSPIRES ME RIGHT NOW
Kind words from friends.


WHAT ELSE I'VE BEEN UP TO
The sis and I saw the If I Stay movie a few days before it released, and we liked it a lot. It was very faithful to the book and gave us the feels. The sister finished the book the day before we were set to see the movie, and then she read Where She Went the day after we saw the movie. The movie was what prompted me to finally read the sequel too!

I'm enjoying the waning days of summer. Luckily for me, California seems to have a store of it left.


We're going to see Jason Mraz tomorrow night, and I am so excited! The Sis and I were lucky enough to see him for a special Artist's Den filming earlier this summer, and it got us so pumped for his new album with Raining Jane. Love him, and love him more when he does these acoustic shows.

Other thing of note is that my 10 year high school reunion is at the end of this week! I can't believe I've been out of high school for a decade now. I'm going because our HS senior year class president is putting it together, and she was my college roommate for all 4 years. I'm obligated, and I have full confidence she'll put something amazing together.

It was also National Dog Day yesterday, so here's a baby Loki + a happy/sleepy Loki!


What's up with you?

8.25.2014

Ready. Set. Write! (Week 12)


RSW is a summer writing intensive hosted by Jaime Morrow, Alison Miller, Katy Upperman, and Erin Funk. You can sign up on the linky at any of the host blogs every Monday. Remember to encourage other participants too! For more info on RSW and a link to the lovely buttons, go here.


1. How I did on last week’s goals

Good1 Like if I gave myself a grade, probably A- good! I did everything except the sleeping one! I wrote 5 stanzas, finished a regular book, started a verse novel, and went swimming 4 times this week!

2. My goal(s) for this week

  • Continue writing stanzas!
  • Finish reading the verse novel.
  • Get some more sleep.
  • Go swimming.

3. A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised.

...when she heard the muffled thunder of
their passing, hundreds of leathery wings beating the air.
She watched with wonder as they speckled the
orange dusk like tiny splatters of ink.

4. The biggest challenge I faced this week.
Just starting. I had some time open up this week, and instead of indulging my lazy, I actually opened up the doc and forced myself to just write.

5. Something I love about my WiP.
Every time I work on it, it is completely intimidating but also spurs me to keep trying.

So, is it seriously THE LAST WEEK of Ready. Set. Write! already? How did the summer go by so fast? In any case, this was a blast, and I'd like to thank the ladies listed above again for putting this fun intensive together! It has been seriously motivating and helpful to have these check-ins every week.

I suppose I might write one more RSW post after this to wrap things up since I didn't really do it with this one?

How did you do this week?

8.20.2014

What's Up Wednesday (43)


What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme geared toward readers and writers, so we can check in with each other. To join, just check out Jaime Morrow or Erin Funk's blogs for the link widget and sign up!


WHAT I'M READING

Lots of things at the moment. Mostly, I'm reading HEIR OF FIRE, but some nights, I'll read a little of MORTAL GODS.

For reading more pertaining to what I'm writing, I've started the verse novel, A TIME TO DANCE. It has a beautiful cover, and I've only been hearing good things about it. Read the prologue, and it is sumptuous.

WHAT I'M WRITING

A little bit of the verse novel. You can see my RSW Week 11 update for more details. I also wrote a poem.

Last year, when April Tucholke's BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA was released, I wrote a Twitter poem inspired by the prompt "devil," which I then expanded into a longer poem.

This year, when April's sequel BETWEEN THE SPARK AND THE BURN released, I wrote a long poem based on the title which I then shortened into a Twitter poem. Here's the Twitter poem (but there's an excerpt from the longer version in my RSW Week 11 post).

There is a void,
an unknowable space,
between
the spark & the burn.
& there in the
between
is where you’ll find
me.

WHAT INSPIRES ME RIGHT NOW

This also fits under the "reading" category, but I'm also flipping through Sylvia Plath's book of poems, ARIEL. Her metaphors, her way with words is so evocative and compelling. Definitely inspiring.


WHAT ELSE I'VE BEEN UP TO

Well, my birthday was this past weekend! So I did some fun things (hence why I didn't manage to post the Comic Con recap post on Friday).

1) The birthday gift I bought myself arrived just in time for me to wear for my birthday weekend! It's the Blackmilk dress I have long coveted: the Marauder's Map Reversible Skater Dress 2.0! (The Marauder's Map I got in the UK in February at the WB Harry Potter Studio Tour.)

Azkaban is my favorite book and best book! And I adore the Marauders and their map!

This side of the dress says "Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry."
2) I also hung out with minions and loitered in fake!London with the Sister. (I wore the dress the other way - the side that says "The Marauder's Map.")



3) Saw Guardians of the Galaxy again with friends, but this time in IMAX 3D!

4) Met the smart, funny, amazing Sarah Enni - the lady behind the First Draft podcast. We've been Twitter friends for a while, and she went to a Pac-10 school! So, it was so fun finally meeting her. We ate delicious dumplings, chatted about books and writing, and of course, pop culture geekery... like our love for Lee Pace. There was even a thrilling interlude involving a spider interrupting our lunch.

A pic from Sarah's epic road trip. From her instagram: @sarahenni
In all the excitement, we forgot to take a picture (boo!), but it's okay because I'm sure we will meet again!

5) The Sis got me a ridiculously adorable purse and a perfect ice cream cake. It was blue with swirlies, and I love both of those things.


6) For my birthday dinner, my besties, the Sister, and I went out for the most delicious lobster ever. It's this local Chinese seafood place that is always packed, but the lobster is so, so worth it. Om nom nom.

7) To end my birthday weekend, I received two glorious things on Monday. First, Tom Hiddleston did the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and posted the video in the morning - so THANK YOU, UNIVERSE. Second, when I got home, I found I'd received a birthday card in the mail. It was posted from Canada, which could really only mean that my dear Twitter friend Yahong had sent it to me. And not only was it super sweet, it included amazing bookmarks! LOL.


So yeah, good birthday weekend! :D

What's up with you?

8.18.2014

Ready. Set. Write! (Week 11)



RSW is a summer writing intensive hosted by Jaime Morrow, Alison Miller, Katy Upperman, and Erin Funk. You can sign up on the linky at any of the host blogs every Monday. Remember to encourage other participants too! For more info on RSW and a link to the lovely buttons, go here.

1. How I did on last week’s goals
I managed to write 1 stanza, get a little more sleep, and celebrate my birthday! But there wasn't any swimming and I still didn't start reading a new verse novel. However, I did write a new poem!

2. My goal(s) for this week
Same as last week's!
  • Write 2 more stanzas
  • Start reading a verse novel.
  • Get some more sleep.
  • Go swimming.

3. A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised.
From the new poem...

It is the liminal moment,
the razor’s edge,
the tip toe waltz.
Where the sky meets the sea
meets a line in the sand.

4. The biggest challenge I faced this week.
Finding time to write. It was my birthday week, so things were a little busier because of that and work is still kind of overwhelming. Hoping things chill out some more. I need the pressure to lift a bit.

5. Something I love about my WiP.
Same things I've said before - playing with voice and mood and poetry. Reading in a new genre/form, etc.


How did you do this week?