Nanowrimo Tag

If it’s November, that means it’s NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month.  I love participating in NaNo even though I rarely “win” by writing 50,000 words; it’s just a good excuse to make writing a priority for a month.

This month I’m working toward finishing two drafts I have started, one a YA folklore retelling Ash and Team (read some excerpts here) and one a fantasy adventure The Gladiator and the Goddess that was my first NaNo win.

The tag was created by Seihren the Bookish Witch and I saw it on Darnell’s blog.

1. How many years have you participated in NaNo?

This is my 6th year.  I started in 2013, when I wrote not even 6,000 words.  I finally won in 2016!  I’ve also participated in Camp NaNo during April and July over the years (which I prefer because you have “cabins” and can set your own goals).

2. Are you a planner, pantser, or plantser?

A planner! I outline nearly everything I write, even blog posts. Of course, I don’t know everything ahead of time (there are always twists and surprises in the process), but I usually know what will happen in all the key scenes before I write. For me, the story comes first in my head, and then I interpret it onto the page in writing.

3. If you are a planner/plantser, what are the first story elements that you flesh out?

Whatever plot points happen to have come into my head.  I guess I don’t really do it intentionally at first, I just kind of daydream about the story until I see some scenes and conversations taking shape.

4. NaNo Forums? Do you use them?

Nope. Time spent on the forums is time not spent writing.

5. Writing Buddies? Do you prefer to write socially or alone?

I generally like to be alone but around people; I write in Panera and libraries a lot.  But I find being with other writers does help my productivity.

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6. Do you diligently write 1,667 words a day, or do you write in spurts?

Definitely spurts. I don’t have time to dedicate every day, and I hate having to stop and start.  Once I get going, I want to keep going.

7. Do you have a writing totem?

No, I didn’t know this was a thing. Maybe I’ll get one now!

8. Do you go to kick-off, write-in, or wrap-up parties?

Not typically. I did make an effort two years ago to break out of my comfort zone and attend some write-ins. It was really great for my productivity and word count, so hopefully I can find some near me again this year.

9. When writing, are you an analog (handwritten) or digital writer? Does the same apply to when you’re taking notes or brainstorming?

Almost all digital. Even my notes are in Google Docs files. I just like the ease of editing so much.

10. Share your NaNo username (if you feel comfortable doing so) so that others can connect with you on the NaNo site!

Meimei21 (feel free to add me as a writing buddy)

Anybody else writing this month?  How’s it going so far?  Feel free to participate in this tag!

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Fan Art Friday: Drizzt Do’Urden

Drizzt

Kiri and I will be back soon with our Star Wars coloring book.  In the meantime, have a picture of the most famous dark elf ever.

In college I went through a summer where I read every Forgotten Realms book by R.A. Salvatore featuring his most famous creation, the drow Drizzt Do’Urden.  I blame my husband for getting me hooked (he lent me all of them).  You can clearly tell this is Drizzt because he is dual-wielding scimitars.

I haven’t kept up with the Drizzt books from the past 10 years or so, though Salvatore is still writing about him.  I kind of lost interest after a dozen plus novels.  But Drizzt still has a special place in my heart.

 

The Frankenstein Chronicles

If you guys are looking for something spooky to watch this Halloween, check out The Frankenstein Chronicles on Netflix.

Image result for frankenstein chronicles

Sean Bean stars as John Marlott, a London investigator tracking down the origin of a disturbing creation: a corpse that is actually an amalgamation of multiple children.  Does it have something to do with the Anatomy Act that the Home Secretary, Sir Robert Peel, is trying to pass?  Or with Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein and theories of galvanism?  The show has wonderful atmosphere and suspense.  I really liked the twists in the first season, and I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes in the second season, which is now available.

The science of the show is pretty hand-wavey, but that’s forgivable given the show’s strengths.  It does incorporate several real historical figures and events, including Peel, Shelley, and William Blake.  It is set about ten years after the publication of Frankenstein, which was a great choice because not only can we see the impact of the novel on society, but it also gives the show a more steampunk vibes, being closer to the Victorian era than the Regency.

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The show is clearly inspired by Frankenstein itself, and I think this interpretation is preferable to another straight adaptation of the novel.  It gives a great perspective on the monster!  When Marlott reads the novel in the show, it inspired me to finally read the classic story, which is very different than the popular conception of it.

Here are some Frankenstein Facts:

  1. This year is the 200th anniversary of its publication.
  2. Mary Shelley was only 18 when she conceived of the idea for the novel, after a suggestion by the poet Byron that he, Mary, and her future husband poet Percy Bysshe Shelley each write a ghost story as a kind of party game.
  3. It is an epistolary novel, written as a series of letters and journal entries.
  4. Its subtitle is “The Modern Prometheus,” after the Titan that helped create man, then gave them fire in defiance of Zeus (only to be sentenced to an eternity of solitary torment).
  5. It was ranked #43 on the Great American Read list.
  6. Popular conception of the story comes from the Universal Pictures 1930s series of movies starring Boris Karloff as the monster, as well as the later Hammer Films series of movies starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.
  7. It is considered one of the progenitors of the science fiction genre.

As a novel, I found Frankenstein mildly underwhelming.  I’m not sold on the framing narrative involving an Arctic explorer writing letters home to his sister, and the prose lacks the wit of my Regency favorite Jane Austen.  However, as a forerunner to modern sci-fi, its importance cannot be overstated.  At its heart, science fiction is not about spaceships and plagues, but about society.  Frankenstein deals with scientific inquiry, or more specifically how far it should go.  Just because we are capable of doing something, should it be done?  Is it ever okay to “play God?”

In this way, the story is similar to another sci-fi favorite, Jurassic Park (#52 on the GAR list).  Holly at Nut Free Nerd has a great comparison of the two stories as part of her Classic Couples series.

 

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What are you reading and watching for Halloween?

 

Great American Read Wrap-Up

Have you all been participating in the Great American Read?  I first wrote about it back in May, and since then I’ve been reading some books from the Top 100 list, voting for my favorites every day, and watching the weekly specials on PBS that highlight some of these favorite novels of the American public.

It was all leading up to Tuesday night, when the winner of the voting was announced.  You can see the full list of results here. According to the GAR votes, here are the five best-loved novels in America:

5. The Lord of the Rings (series)

4. Pride and Prejudice

3. Harry Potter (series)

2. Outlander

1.To Kill a Mockingbird  

To Kill a Mockingbird

My guess prior to the announcement was that it would be To Kill a Mockingbird, but even I was a bit surprised how overwhelming it was: it started out at number one and never wavered once over the months.  TKAM is a wonderful book with broad appeal, but I think it remains so popular because it is quintessentially American.  It’s a coming-of-age story of a young Southern girl; it deals with race relations; it shows the merits and flaws of our justice system; it provides an enduring role model and hero in Atticus Finch.  And it doesn’t hurt that it’s taught so frequently in schools that probably most Americans have read it (certainly the ones voting on PBS programs).

I really enjoyed the GAR and hope PBS will do similar events in the future, perhaps for American authors or nonfiction, plays, or poetry.  I now have a whole lot more books on my to-read list as well! I had already read 32 of the 100 on the list, and I read three more during the course of the GAR.  Here are some brief thoughts on these three novels.

Rebecca coverRebecca by Daphne du Maurier

This novel had been on my to-read list for a while, so I picked it up to read over vacation…yeah, it’s not really a light beach read.  It’s a gothic suspense story featuring the new, young wife of a widower with many secrets, especially regarding his late wife, Rebecca. I loved the atmosphere and very much enjoyed the twists and the ending.  I’m looking forward to reading it again, because I think this is one that improves upon closer acquaintance. I also watched the TV adaptation of Jamaica Inn by the same author and loved it; you can find it on Netflix.

The Alchemist by Paulo CoelhoThe Alchemist cover

I’ve heard wonderful things about this inspiration novel, which tells the story of a Spanish shepard who journeys across Africa to find his Personal Legend.  I enjoyed reading it and it made me think, but in the end it didn’t strike me deeply. The plot and characters were too vague and archetypal for my taste; if I’m going to read allegory, I’d prefer it to have some more personality, like the Chronicles of Narnia. I also felt like it didn’t have much to say to women; I can only remember one named female character, and we aren’t very interested in her self-actualization.

Bless Me, Ultima coverBless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya

I don’t know how I missed this book all these years!  I had even mentioned it in a 2014 blog post for Banned Books Week, because it made the Top 10 Challenged list for the previous year.  Yet not only had I not read it, I knew nothing about it. It’s a wonderful coming of age story from a Chicano perspective in the southwestern US, where Antonio feels pulled between different family expectations as well as traditional and modern cultures as he tries to find his place in the world. I related to it very personally because I also come from a Catholic family, and I really enjoyed the meld of Christianity and the traditional practices of the curandera, or healer.

Have you guys read any of these?  Which of the 100 books did you vote for?  I voted mostly for Pride and Prejudice, but I voted for many others along the way, including those in the top 5.  I was really pleased with the choices for the top 5–how about you?

If you still want to get involved in the Great American Read, you can: