Sunday, July 2, 2017

What I've Been Reading -- June 2017

Hey everybody!
I've been a bit quiet, and I'm not sure why.  My blogging mind has taken a nap, I suppose.  Plus, Blogger has been stubborn about saving posts, so a lovely thing I'd written up has entirely disappeared because I didn't realize it didn't save.  However, I've been tagged in a post so you should see something soon!  In the meantime, here are a few of the books I've been reading this month.




The Princess Bride
William Goldman

I grew up with the movie, but I didn't know there was a book until a friend of mine said she'd read it.  It's much better than the movie, with a lot more backstory and scenes the movie couldn't include, but I found that a lot of scenes in the movie were taken verbatim from the book, which made me happy.  The book begins a little oddly and I was confused at first, but after getting a few chapters in things began to make sense.  I loved it, and would recommend it to basically anyone.

“Inconceivable!"
"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” 

“I’ll tell you the truth and its up to you to live with it.” 

“When this is over we will see who is right, and who is dead.” 




Where the Woods Grow Wild
Nate Philbrick

I borrowed this book from Faith, and when I started reading I thought "well, there's some epic-fantasy style stuff in here, but it sounds like a sweet story about a boy and a girl".  And then it got intense.  There were character twists, all kinds of unreliability, and they were so close to finishing the story so many times, BUT NO, one of them takes the wrong path or follows the wrong clue and they're off again.  There was a delightfully happy ending, and although I was a little disappointed because my evil mind thought one of the characters could be A LOT darker than she was written, I was satisfied, and it was nice to read something light.  It actually reminded me a bit of The Princess Bride, although I wouldn't say they were the same book by any means.  I'd recommend this book to anyone, and to a very broad age range.




Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency
Douglas Adams

Douglas Adams is one of my favorite authors of all time, and The Hitchhiker's Guide series is fantastic, so I was looking forward to reading this book.  It started out a little slow, but Adams' signature weirdness was there the whole time, and the story picked up during the second half of the book.  The characters were quirky and strange, and the plot made about as much sense as I expected from one of his books.  I loved it, and might look into the rest of the series at some point.  I'd recommend it to someone who's familiar with his style, but I wouldn't call it the book to read to be introduced to him as an author.

“There is no point in using the word 'impossible' to describe something that has clearly happened.” 

“He turned slowly like a fridge door opening.” 

“I commend you on your skepticism, but even the skeptical mind must be prepared to accept the unacceptable when there is no alternative. If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we have at least to consider the possibility that we have a small aquatic bird of the family Anatidæ on our hands.”

 “Deep in the rain forest it was doing what it usually does in rain forests, which was raining: hence the name.” 

“The sky which had started out with such verve and spirit in the morning was beginning to lose its concentration and slip back into its normal English condition, that of a damp and rancid dish cloth.” 

“He put some more cold pizza into his face.” 



Ta-Da!  My books.  Sorry this is a day or two late, I had friends over this week so blogging didn't really happen.  The next few posts should be one I've been tagged in by the same Faith who let me borrow her book, and another installment of "You Want to Go Home and Rethink Your ______".  Not sure when exactly they'll be going up, but they will be at some point.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Problems Introverted Writers Have to Deal With

HELLOOOOOOO!!!!!
I get really excited every time I begin a post and have no idea why.
HELLO TO THE PEOPLE!

Anyway
I just got back from the ocean!  It was awesome and ocean-y.

So introverts.
We all know at least one.
I am one.
As an introverted writer, there are things that do not come easily for me.  I'm going to list them and cross my fingers and hope and pray that I'm not the only one who has these struggles.  FEEL MY PAIN WITH ME!  I DEMAND IT.

I don't.  Be happy and make some cupcakes.  Send me some, and I might be your friend forever.


1. Gathering character information.
Google is a gift to humanity, but it can only do so much.  There are times when you must speak to an actual human to gather information on a certain character.  And not only must you talk to them, you must initiate a conversation and not bore then to death or take up their precious time or bother them with your questions or put them to sleep with the story idea that you think is really interesting but they must be so bored by now.  Talking to people is HARD.  It's REALLY REALLY HARD.  And as a writer, YOU HAVE TO DO IT!

2. Sunlight and the outdoors in general.
My bedroom is in our finished basement.  It's my Hobbit-Hole, cave, den, whatever.  All you need to know is I only go up the stairs for food, a shower, and to see my family once and a while when I'm required to communicate with other life forms.  I mean, I suppose I could go write outside, but.......whyyyyyyyyyy......

In my defense, it is a REALLY AWESOME BEAR CAVE.  There are very few things which could bring me out of my bedroom.

It doesn't have to be a bedroom though.  Introverts are notorious for shutting themselves up in small, dark places.  Unless they're claustrophobic, but then they just shut themselves up in larger, lighter places.  This doesn't usually directly affect writing, but I have discovered that when I do go for a walk in the woods or spend time with friends, I feel more creative afterwards.

3. Writing workshops and conventions.
Don't get me wrong, there's something really magical about walking into a large room and seeing it filled with writers.  Knowing you're not the only person who struggles with plot development or internal conflict is fantastic.

But then there's the whole problem of it being a convention.  With other people.  Lots of other people.  And you're supposed to "hang out" with them.  And "mill about".  And "talk to them".  And "be social".  I don't know about you, but I'd much rather stay in my bed and read, even if I do end up missing out on conversations with other writers.

My mom is awesome and encourages my writing, but she's an extrovert, and her way of doing that is to tell me about all kinds of conventions and retreats I should go to.  They sound great in theory, but the more I think about them the more I realize I'd probably shut down on day two and just be trying really hard to fake excitement.

4. Writing extroverted characters.
Extroverts don't always find it easy to understand introverts, but the same is true the other way around.  Extroverts are confusing.  Are they social butterflies who are loud and outgoing at all times?  Or are they like us, just...more excited about social events?  Now I did a blog post about the care and keeping of extroverts a while back, but it's one thing to know one in real life and another thing entirely to create one.  I can understand the thought processes of an internal processing, introverted, and generally hedgehog-like character.  The bouncy, people-loving, life of the party?  Not so much.  It's hard to wrap my brain around the fact that being by yourself can drain your energy, and that someone might actually REALLY REALLY ENJOY the writing convention I decided not to attend.  They don't just to go parties because there's food, and they don't instantly make friends with the cat.  Although if you're like a certain extrovert I know, the second an animal comes into view they must talk to it for a few minutes...at least.

And when it comes to writing, well, lets just say that sending an extrovert on a solo trek across an empty desert may not go so well.  Neither would hiding out for long periods of time, or moving to a new location and not having many friends.  Although extroverts tend to remedy that pretty quickly....

SEE THIS IS WHY IT'S HARD!

5. Promoting yourself.
I don't know about you, but I'm rubbish at promoting my skills.  It involves talking to people, being the center of attention for a moment on at least a small scale, and coming up with reasons why people should focus on you.  All of which are absolute torture.  This can apply to writing, music, or anything that involves self-promotion, and it is the one thing about publishing a book that I am REALLY not looking forward to.

6. Telling people about your writing.
This kind of goes along with the last point.  While I love it when people want to hear about what I write, the fact that I actually have to tell them is...well, it's a bit intimidating.  Verbal communication has never been my strong point, which is partly why I have this blog, so when I try to talk to someone about what I've written, things go a bit pear-shaped.  I've mentioned this once or twice before in previous blog posts, but I feel like it's worth mentioning again and again.

And then, when you've been sitting there for two hours and you're only halfway through the story, you suddenly realize that you may in fact be really boring that person.  So you stop.  And then you think, but wait, should I stop?  or should I finish the story?  But that's got more to do with anxiety than introversion.




So there you have it.  I hope you can relate to this as much as I can (being as I made the list...it would be pretty sad if I made a list I couldn't actually relate to at all...).  Let me know in the comments if there's anything I missed!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Daily Quote Challenge (or: I'VE BEEN TAGGED IN A POST, GUYS!!!)

Hello!  It is the last day of May!  And I've been tagged in a post by the fabulous Maggie @ Maggie's Musings!  Aaaaaand I'm bending the rules.  Which is something I NEVER DO so watch out world here I come.

The Daily Quote Challenge -- What you're supposed to do.
1. Thank the person who nominated you.
2. Tag three new bloggers every day.
3. Post one quote on your blog every day for three consecutive days.

The Daily Quote Challenge -- What I'm doing.
1. Thanking the person who nominated me.
2. Tagging....some bloggers?
3. Posting a bunch of quotes here because why the heck not.


So first things first: Thank you Maggie, you amazing unicorn and generally cool person!

(this is the point in the story where Grace realizes that the steps are out of order and has a crisis because while she can completely rework the rules for the challenge she cannot follow a numbered list in the WRONG ORDER because that would be a crime to all of humanity.  THREE DOES NOT COME BEFORE TWO)

Have I ever mentioned that I'm weird?

Okay, so here are the quotes.  I'm combining this challenge with something Faith @ Genuine Perplexities did, where she described herself with various internet things.  So basically I'm posting a bunch of quotes that are important to me.





So there you have it!

Quotes that I like.  

Now to tag.

This is the problem with having a whopping total of four friends and only two of them blog.
Not only that but Maggie's already done the post, and tagged Faith.  So.  I highly doubt people will see this but here goes.  

Cait @ Paper Fury
Hannah @ Hannah Heath


And that's it.  Can I tag Faith and Maggie again? Nope.  So basically if you want to do this post, consider yourself tagged, say that I tagged you, and make the post. 

That's it!  Grace out.









Sunday, May 28, 2017

What I've Been Reading -- May 2017

YES!  IT IS HERE!  THE BOOK POST!
These will be happening at the end of each month.  It won't have ALL the books I've read each month, but two or three I pick out as either being my favorites, or the ones I'd like to talk about.  These books will probably not be current, I'm not doing anything like reviewing the hot new summer novels, or whatever.  This is just what I've been up to.  I'll put in my own opinions, and a quote or two from the book.  By all means use this list and my opinions when looking for something to read, or completely disregard it.  I don't care.

And that being said, let's get on with it!




East of Eden
John Steinbeck

I loved this book, and Steinbeck in general.  It follows the lives of a few families, and connects them all in an intricate web.  One of the reasons I like this author is because his characters are extremely true-to-life, and this book absolutely DOES NOT FAIL MY STANDARDS.  Forget Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath, this is my favorite Steinbeck book as of yet.  His wording and descriptions are beautiful, I never fail to get a perfect image of his world in my head, and every character has it's ups and downs.  In fact my favorite thing about this book is that it's often hard to tell which characters are "good" and which are "evil".  Seen through Steinbeck's starkly realist point of view, each one is well-developed, and each one makes good and bad decisions.  While it is on the longer side, I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone.

"Humans are caught -- in their lives, in their thoughts, in their hungers and ambitions, and in their kindness and generosity too -- in a net of good and evil.  I think this is the only story we have and that it occurs on all levels of feeling and intelligence.  Virtue and vice were warp and woof of our first consciousness, and they will be the fabric of our last, and this despite any chances we may impose of field and river and mountain, on economy and manners.  There is no other story.  A man, after he has brushed off the dust and chips of his life, will have left only the hard, clean questions: Was it good or was it evil?  Have I done well -- or ill?"




The Picture of Dorian Gray
Oscar Wilde

This book wasn't bad.  I was fairly hesitant starting out, the book doesn't open in a particularly exciting way, but once you get past the first chapter or so things begin to pick up.  While the book as a whole isn't something I would read again, the character development was EXCELLENT, and without a doubt the best part of the whole thing.  Dorian Gray's character in particular was very well done, but his good friend wasn't neglected by any means.  In fact, I think his friend, Lord Henry, was a more interesting character than Dorian, despite Dorian being the one going through the greatest changes.  While I wouldn't recommend this book to everyone, if you enjoy Jane Austen or the Bronte sisters, you will probably want to add this one to your list.

"All I want to do now is look at life.  You may come and look at it with me, if you care to."

"One has a right to judge of a man by the effect he has over his friends."




All the Light We Cannot See
Anthony Doerr

This is the first book I've read in a while that's given me a solid book hangover.  I have a slight weakness for books set during WWII, but after reading this book I'm almost afraid to read others like it, in case this one spoiled me.  The author added a lot of science to the story -- one of the characters is interested in radio, the other in seashells -- but instead of bogging it down, it made the characters and the events so much more interesting, and added meaning to things about those characters that I never would have thought of on my own.  The structure of the book is unique as well, and something I did not expect at all.  The story almost works backwards.  That's the best I can do, it's incredibly hard to explain the layout of this book.  All I can say is it's magnificent.  I would recommend it to anyone, but be warned, you will feel things.

"Stones are just stones and rain is just rain and misfortune is just bad luck."

"He is being loyal.  He is being what everybody agrees is good.  And yet every time he wakes and buttons his tunic, he feels he is betraying something."

"Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever."



So there you have it!  My three books from this month.  What have you been reading?  Let me know in the comments!  I'd also love your recommendations, if you want to give them to me.


Thursday, May 25, 2017

You Want to Go Home and Rethink Your Strong Female Lead

Welcome to the sixth "You Want to Go Home and Rethink Your ___________"!
Yes this is late.  I'm not terribly sorry.

Maggie at Maggie's Musings helped me brainstorm this post!  She's really awesome, you should check out her blog.

Strong female leads:  In all honesty, out of all the tropes I've done so far this one is the least bad, in my opinion.  Yeah, it's full of stereotypes and overused in the name of feminism, but the concept is good.  I'm all for women having as many great and glorious adventures as men.

So if they're not that bad at all (and even good), what is it about them that I don't like?

One: girl is an emotionless abyss.
See, people have this idea that if a girl is strong, SHE HAS NO EMOTIONS.  None.  Zero.  Zilch.  Nada.  This is either because things have happened to her which have made her try to cut them off, or because she doesn't understand them because that's just who she is as a person.  And if she does have emotions, they come in the form of ONE MASSIVE BREAKDOWN WHICH POSSIBLY RUINS EVERYTHING AND CONFUSES A LOT OF PEOPLE.
*cue ugly crying*
The problem with this cliche is it just isn't true.  While there are girls who don't have strong emotions and solve problems logically, there are lots of other girls who are on the other side of the picture and are extremely emotionally driven.  And then there's girls like me, who are in the middle, and let their heart and their head work together to solve problems.  Instead of girls being really mysterious and feeling nothing, LET THEM FEEL THINGS!  Make logical characters, but make emotional characters too!  And make characters who can never decide anything because their heart tells them one thing and their head tells them another and their intuition is telling everything else to just SHUT UP AND LISTEN ALREADY I AM HERE but yet they don't follow their gut and then everything goes haywire!

That was a run-on sentence about my brain.

Writing me as a main character would be an absolute nightmare.


Two: girl is good at everything but insecure.
I AM SICK AND TIRED OF THIS COMING UP EVERYWHERE!!!!!!!  
*stunningly gorgeous girl and stunningly handsome guy are talking*
Girl: I'm so uglyyyyy....
Boy: No!  You're beautiful!
Girl: No I'm not, I'm ugly!  Don't lie to me!

Girl: I can't shoot a bow and arrow!  I have such bad aim!
Boy: Here, try this one!
*girl hits every target ever and also an apple on the rooftop of a house in Spain despite her being in America*

Girl: I can't lead, I can't fight, I can't cook, I can't make speeches, I can't stand up for what I believe in.........
*girl leads entire army into battle and wins on the first try*

So yeah.  This is waaaaay too common and needs to stop.  Maybe it's true that there are people who have talents they don't know about or don't recognize, but REALLY?  EVERY SINGLE GIRL IN EVERY BOOK IS UNWITTINGLY GOOD AT EVERYTHING!  It's really getting on my nerves.  Can I shoot a bow and arrow on the first try?  No!  Can I lead an entire army into battle with terrible leadership skills?  No!  

(also about the bow and arrow: why is it that's all girl's ever use as weapons?  why can't I see a girl wielding a sword as big as she is, forged from the blood of her enemies?)


Three: girl is pretty (but not too pretty).
Lest we mistake her for a movie star or a toad, it must be specified that she is NOT UGLY, but she is NOT DROP DEAD GORGEOUS EITHER.  Nope.  Always the happy medium.  Always floating right in between, a happy cloud of not-too-prettiness.  I guess this is because we can't have ugly main characters, but we also can't have characters that look better than our readers because that's not normal.  Even though we know the actress that plays her in the film is going to be 839,294,000% better looking than all of us lowly worms.

Oh, and we always get this information while she's looking at a mirror contemplating her life and pitiful destiny.  You know, that scene in the first chapter of the book where she talks about her ordinary life and is thrown into a tumultuous plot immediately afterwards?  Yeah.  That scene.  


Four: girl is the one telling the story.
Now I've got nothing against first person present tense.  

BUT WHY ARE THEY ALL LIKE THAT???????

I'm not joking.  It feels like every book I've read with a "strong female lead" has the girl telling the story as it happens.  Why can't we have a different perspective some of the time?  WHYYYYY!??!?


Five: girl is caught in a love triangle.
This is just like, standard, factory-made stuff now.  Of course there's a love triangle.  Why wouldn't there be?  It's like making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with no jelly.  

And it makes me SO FRUSTRATED!  I don't care about her love life!  STOP KISSING ALREADY AND FIGHT YOUR STUPID REVOLUTION THAT YOU STARTED!  I DON'T CARE ABOUT YOUR BOYFRIENDS!  NOBODY ELSE DOES EITHER!

For a further rant on this topic please see a previous post.  There will be a link at the end of this one.


Six: girl wears fitting, figure-enhancing clothing.
Granted, this is much more prevalent in films than in novels.  It still frustrates me, though.  In my opinion, the only times it's okay to give a girl a form-fitting, skimpy outfit are:
1. If there are also men in tight-fitting outfits and it's for a purpose.
2. If her job has something specifically to do with wearing clothing like that.
3. If her character is the type of person who would enjoy wearing that kind of clothing.

Star Wars has done a FANTASTIC job with practical clothing:

Jynn Erso from Rogue One

Captain Phasma from The Force Awakens

You see that armor?  You see how it looks almost identical to the rest of the Stormtroopers' armor?  It's just on a woman.  That's it.  Everything else is the same.  It's not hard to figure out.  And it's much more practical.  Instead of a skintight leather suit, or armor that only covers the midsection, try FULL ARMOR, or try loose, flexible clothing.  


So there's my rant.
If you know of any YA books that throw away these cliches, PLEASE LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS!  I would love to read them. 


The Love Triangle Post (and the first one in this series):
You Want to Go Home and Rethink Your Love Triangle