Fanfiction

How’s everyone’s new year starting off?

I wanted to post today, mostly to be honest because I’m procrastinating both work (my job I get paid for) and “work” (my novel writing). I already went to work today for 8 hours so I am not too keen to do MORE work off the clock (I love my job but honestly everyone needs an hour). I sat at my computer (my actual desktop from like 1975) to write and I have no distractions ignore Pandora playing and Trivia Crack Pinging and I still was drawing a blank of what to write.

So I thought maybe I would write a blog post instead; hey, at least it’s words.

I was up until about two in the morning reading a fanfiction last night (Destiel, Christmas fic, it was rather good). As I was finishing the story I realized how late it was (and subsequently how tired I would be in the morning) but it occured to me that I hadn’t read a book in quite a while that easily kept me up until two finishing it. I have been very busy (I actually have two jobs I physically go to keeping me busy 7 days a week, and my writing and painting have taken a far back-burner lately – in fact they’ve been in a completely different kitchen). So reading just hasn’t been a viable option. It’s work, work, sleep, work work, sleep, maybe eat?, sleep, socialize?, sleep, work… well, you get the idea.

So, for the first time since pffft, maybe Thanksgiving? I had some down time and I decided to read a (semi) lighthearted fanfiction rather than get into a book.

Anyway, what’s your opinion on fanfiction? I know a lot of people really dislike it (they call it “impure” to the fandom – even if it is mostly canon compliant.) Other people live for it (it’s the only way you can have LITERALLY ANYTHING YOU WANT happen to your favourite characters).  Some people just don’t like the way that the fans handle fanfiction in real life (I admit to a bit of squeamishness when fans ask the actors their opinions. I have a very strong level of secondhand embarrassment). Some people say it’s not “real reading” some say it’s awesome.

I am of the opinion that words are words. And to be honest I have read fanfictions that are better written than some published books. I don’t think the content or the medium matters so much when you’re expressing yourself. And a lot of times I will sit down with a fanfiction over a book.

Current poison is anything “Supernatural” or some Kock (“Star Trek”) fanfiction. But I am always a “Harry Potter” reader at heart.

Maybe I’ll make a fic-rec just for fun…

Care to weigh in?

Another year gone….

…And I must trouble you with an old man’s wheezing waffle before we sink our teeth into our delicious feast. What a year it has been!” – Dumbledore “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”

I generally reserve the right to talk about books here – I write reviews, talk about writing, etc., however, with 2014 over and 2015 still fresh in it’s dawn I want to just talk about life for a minute.

I feel like for the past few years life has been a struggle. I was homeless for a while, I started dating again (which believe you me I never thought would happen. Ever.), I made the courageous decision to quit a job at a company I’ve been with for 8 years, and thereby begin a new and exciting job opportunity! It’s been a roller coaster of a time. My twenties are ending, my life is progressing in a positive trajectory… I’m, for the first time in many years, genuinely excited to see where life goes!

I am a person who at one point in life, was truly optimistic. I was. I saw the good in everything, I saw the hope, the joy, the laughter, in every aspect of life. The years have hardened me (not toughened me, there is a difference. I still cry when people yell at me, I still feel pushed around and broken a majority of the time), but I’ve been hardened: I am cynical, sarcastic, distrusting, disbelieving and a lot of times negative. I’m not a nasty person by any means, and I’m not someone that has a morose aura that people avoid. But I’m not exactly one hundred percent myself either. I’ve had some hard times. I was genuinely – like sleeping in a tent – homeless much of 2013 (and really since long before that when my house burned down I couch hopped and jumped from hotel to hotel for years). In late 2013, early 2014 I finally finally got out of that funk. I moved into a great townhouse with some friends, and I’m finally on a good path. I have solid income, I have a great support system, I am paying all my bills on time (well, except student loans but really you want me to pay 120,000 dollars for a degree I DON’T USE? Yea, I’ll get on that…). But really, I’m doing pretty darn good at the moment (knock on wood). But I still feel like something terrible is going to happen. I have this nagging sensation in the back of my mind. “Oh, your life is awesome at the moment? Here’s a catastrophe!”

But, in 2015 I don’t want to feel that way any more! I don’t want to have the negativity that is associated with worrying! I’m over it. If I lose my job (god forbid) I’ll get a new one. If my car breaks I’ll fix it. If my house crumbles I’ll move. If I get the flu I’ll stay home and vomit. If zombies becomes a thing, I’ll get a crossbow. I mean. That’s it. That’s life. You deal with the things that happen. Jah will provide. You do your best. You take some chances now and then. You put some life into it. There’s no sense in worrying about every. little. thing. Because if it happens it happens if it doesn’t then you’ve wasted all the time you could have just.been.happy. being miserable and WORRYING.

I want 2015 to be the year of no regrets

I am saying “yes” a lot more. People invite me out (I am not a very social creature. I have work, I have my house, I have a select few friends houses, that is it), but now people invite me places, I’m going. I’m going on dates-ish-things. . . I’m trying to be more outgoing, experience new things, I’m cutting my hair in weird ways, buying new clothes, trying new foods (Quorn, it’s gonna be big). I’m probably gonna take up Yoga, and do belly dancing or something. Its 2015, anything could happen!

This gets me in to “New Years Resolutions” – this “live positive” spiel is not a “New Years Resolution”. I have heard so many people at my jobs (both of them) talking about how their Resolution is to lose weight, to go to the gym, to eat less – not necessarily healthier though I’ve heard that too. I have a terrible self-esteem. Terrible. I genuinely do not believe for one second that anyone (but me) could love me. Which confuses the fuck (excuse the language) out of people because they don’t understand how I love myself so much and yet think there is no way others could love me. My friend once said “You treat yourself like you’re your favourite book, but you never let anyone else read it”. I tried to explain to her that that is because it’s my favourite book, and if someone else read it and didn’t like it I would be crushed by that. It’s better if I just love it enough for everyone. . . and that’s my self esteem. I am essentially a Winchester. (If you don’t understand the reference just move on – actually go marathon Supernatural on Netflix, and then move on). But anyway, I’m so tired of people trying to say you have to look a certain way in order to “be happy” or to “fit in”. I think people should just be whoeverthefuck they want to be and that will help them find people who genuinely like them instead of finding a bunch of people who will ditch you the second you’re not what they want any more.

My sister actually wrote a lovely 2014/2015 post, you can read it here about dealing with positive life changes and it gets at what I’m saying pretty well. I want to be true to myself, I want to LOVE myself, and I want others to love who I am BECAUSE I am me, not because I’m trying to be who they want me to be. I mean, I never bought into the beauty magazines anyway (I’ll scan the tabloid covers in line at the checkout only because the drama amuses me) but the “lose twenty pounds in 2 days” things are not only a load of waffle, but just irritate the piss out of me.

I mean, do we really need to continue to tell people they’re terrible and not good enough? Haven’t we evolved yet in all the years there’s been humans? Come on guys. Let’s stop this stupidity. Get fit for health, fine. Eat right for health, perfect. Do whateverthefuck you want because it’s your life and it’s not hurting a dang thing? Hells yes. New Years Resolutions aren’t for pretending you’re going to do something and then feeling crappy about it all year because you didn’t do the thing. New Years Resolutions are actually kind of stupid, because every day is a new day to do something different. I can wake up tomorrow and never drink soda again, I can go jogging right.the.fuck now if I was so inclined. You don’t have to set up a resolution to do it. You just do it.

I rambled a bit. What was my point. Ah yes, I’m not looking at my positive life change as a resolution, just a thing I’m doing. This year is already off to a better start than a lot of years in the past, and I’m ready to greet it with a general capacity for adventure!

I also want to mention, in 2014 the world lost an amazing woman. My dear friends mother died just before Christmas, and she was an amazing woman. She was kind, compassionate, giving, caring, funny, smart, generous, warm, thoughtful, she was damn close to a perfect human being. She lit up the lives of everyone she touched, and raised two super-charged, amazing daughters in the process. The world is colder without her. But I want to take her memory and use it to better myself and the world. I want to live in a way that would honor her. I want to take charge of things I believe in, stand-up for causes that don’t have voices, I want to live positively and hopefully. So part of my 2015 mantra is “What Would Em Do” because if everyone could live with even a fraction of her capacity for optimism, love, and kindness I think the world will be better for it.

So. That’s my New Year Post. Expect there to be lots of books in 2015 also, but there might be a few more of these life updates.

Blessed be, and have a happy, safe, adventurous 2015!

NaNoWriMo Playlist

So I’m trying really hard to do NaNoWriMo this year.

I have actually tried every year since 2011. My dramatic novel “Downfall” about a young girl, MacKenzie, who’s life kind of crumbles and she has no one to rely on but herself… well, that kind of failed miserably.

Then in 2012 I did an “unofficial NaNoWriMo” in which I attempted to finish up a novel I had started in college – “Damned” about a young sorceress and her coven who battle evil. I actually did end up finishing this one! But I felt it was slightly cheating only because most of it had been written in college.

Last year in 2013 I worked on another sci-fi/fantasy novel called “Chasing Shadows” about a young alchemist’s daughter who struggles to find the truth about her father after his disappearance.

That one didn’t get finished either.

This year I am endeavoring to write a novel which has no official title yet – the working title is “Slice of Summer” but I feel like it’s really trite and a bit cliche. This project is about Levi and Leo, a pair of band-mate boyfriends who struggle with their careers, life, and love.

This novel is going… meh, fairly well. I have a lot of moments where I think I’m pretty brilliant, and then a lot of moments where I think I’m probably the most rubbish writer on the entire planet.

I tend to write a lot all at once (catching up on word goals) and then I don’t write for days and days. Then I binge write and slack… well, you get the idea. I am currently in a “slack off” phase. Well not entirely, I’ve been doing some research on topography and research on guitars. Both relevant to the novel but not necessarily each other. But I am now sitting at the computer with my “writing playlist” and limited distractions. I mean, if there was ever a time for me to watch 30 hours of cat videos it would be now. But no. I must resist.

Anyway, usually this blog is for my book reviews (Now and again I’ll share my work but I’m not about that life at the moment). I just wanted to share, instead, my playlist. When I write I’m almost always listening to music, even if it’s just hummed background when I get “in the zone”. For example, the other day I was “in a zone” and for four and a half hours I listened to the acoustic version of “Steal My Girl” by One Direction. Do you realize how many times that is? Approximately 72. 72 times I listened to the. same. song. simply because I was in a zone and didn’t even realize it had been on repeat so long.

But this novel, besides being about love, loss, life, depression, panic, and the struggle of following your heart and your dreams at the same time, it’s about music. I am… limited in my musical skills shall we say. I know a lot about music, I am very into music, but I cannot play a lick of it on any instrument in creation.. okay, I can play “Hot Cross Buns” on recorder. Champion of the world, I am. And clearly I am a Diva in my car, “do you believe in life after love!”. Ahem. Anyway. When I am writing I have music on, but with this novel it is slightly different because the characters are driven by music. They are driven by the way the words flow from their hearts into their instruments. If Levi is having a bad day he holds his guitar and releases his emotions. If he’s happy he composes cheesy rhymes while he’s dancing around the kitchen smiling like the Cheshire Cat – yes, that really did happen; and no I don’t always use such cliches, promise.

So. Because this novel deals with so many real elements and because it’s so deeply rooted in music as a form of expression, I have paid even closer attention to my “writing playlist” than I normally would have. Usually I chuck on some Muse and call it a day. Or I throw on Vivaldi and allow the music to float around my head with the words and imagery until I can regurgitate something I can call “a story”.  This time I’ve been more focused on what the lyrics are, how the tone feels, would this song make Levi happy, would this song make Leo want to jump around the apartment, would Levi have written this song in high school when he was crying over a girl, will this song foreshadow, how would Hunter react to any of these lyrics? There’s so much more I’m thinking about this time around.

So here is a working playlist for “Slice of Summer” – just felt the need to share it because honestly, I’m probably procrastinating (oh and I hyperlinked each song so you can listen if you like!)

1. Catalyst – The Gallery 

2. All I Need – Louden Swain

3. Little Fox – Justin Jones.

4. Black Widow – Iggy Azalea feat. Rita Ora

5. Dangerous – House of Heroes

6. Loose Ends – Damon Moon and the Whispering Drifters

7. Portraite of Maude – Ezra Furman and the Harpoons

8. Steal My Girl (Acoustic) – One Direction

9. Darkness Is Cheap – Gregg Swann

10. This mashup of “Centuries” and “Immortals” – Fall Out Boy

Probably the most essential song on the playlist though is:
11. The Wrecking Ball – Erick Baker

Does anyone else have a playlist for their novel this year? Do you stick to the same playlist or do you deviate?

Happy Writing!

“We Are Not Ourselves” – Matthew Thomas

17830123

“We Are Not Ourselves” follows the lifelong journey of Eileen Tumulty, raised by Irish Immigrant parents during a crucial turning point in America’s history. The novel chronicles Eileen’s journey through life, love, struggle, loss, gain, peace and turmoil.

On it’s surface “We Are Not Ourselves” the daunting 600 page bio-epic about a woman from impoverished Queens who struggles to find more in life than a third floor walk-up didn’t seem all that interesting to me to be perfectly honest. I read the novel because Misha Collins – a brilliant man whom I am quite fond of – suggested it get read by the world. So. I read it.

I had a hard time getting into the novel – I found that I very sorely disliked the protagonist. I thought she was needy, whiny, petulant at times. . . she wasn’t likable. But the more I read it the more I thought about the fact that she didn’t have to be likable because people aren’t all that likable. So I pressed on.

I have to say the introduction of Ed Leary kept my interest in the novel – Ed’s character was a lot like myself, very bare-bones and rather easy-going; whereas Eileen was very into materials and needing things to be perfect. Eileen’s character chases this elusive ideal of The American Dream whereas Ed isn’t so much like that.

I ended up becoming invested fully in the novel and finishing it rather quickly after my initial 300 pages of doubt. It had a very well done ending I believe, and unfortunately I can’t say much without essentially divulging the entire culmination of the book. I can say however that the more I think about the book in retrospect the more I grasp onto smaller parts, or even larger concepts and I think “It’s just like in that book” and I have to explain myself to whomever I am talking to.

Overall, the book just really wasn’t the genre of writing I prefer – if you’ve read my posts you know that I’m very much into Supernatural YA fiction – so for it to hold my attention at all speaks volumes as to Thomas’ ability to captivate. I do think it was well written, and I think it had a lot of honesty. There were many parts I feel were easy to identify with and there was a fair amount of heartbreaking truths.

It left me rather depressed… I’m not sure that’s the best word, but it sat heavy with me. I feel like the ending might have meant to be hopeful, but I didn’t comprehend it that way. It just made me feel…caged. It’s quite hard to explain without spoiling the entire novel. It wasn’t any darker or more poignant than any of the novels I normally read, but it was definitely more realistic and therefore harder to digest I think. But it was well written and it wasn’t a waste of time – just prepare yourself emotionally. I would recommend.

Happy reading.

The Spectacular Now – Tim Tharp

“The Spectacular Now” is the story of a young budding alcoholic who believes in letting life just happen and not worrying about much of anything. With his girlfriend Cassidy threatening their relationship if he doesn’t shape up, his best friend attempting to ease up on the partying, his family down his throat, Sutter takes the high road and ignores it all. Preferring to live life somewhere between buzzed and passed out. He meets Aimee one day, and things don’t so much change as evolve. He decides she’s a disaster and that it’s his duty to save her. 

Told in a spectacular narrative from Sutter Keely’s point of view this book moves. It is a beautiful collection of words into motion. It is told at a steady pace that keeps the pages turning, it is told with a dark humour and glorious realism. Sutter has just enough beauty in him to keep you feeling sympathetic, but just enough flaws to make him realistic. This book tugs on heart strings in all the best ways. It’s a true testament to literature and to human nature. I cannot properly express why you should read this book without simply saying: read this book. 

For more information about Tim Tharp or his other books visit his blog

As an aside I also did watch the movie. The movie was beautiful but terribly different. There was enough of the book in the movie that it was beautiful (direct book quotes!) and things that were cut seemed like good editing decisions. There were a few semi-trivial changes that didn’t seem to make much sense to me overall (his moms profession, the fact that he was taking algebra versus geometry etc). But the ending is completely different from the book. Both endings are great, but imply very, very different outcomes. I recommend reading the book then watching the movie and playing the “compare contrast” game. Just remember, they’re two separate mediums and deserve to be viewed and respected as such. 

The Land of Stories: The Enchantress Returns – Chris Colfer

Chris Colfer delivers an action-packed sequel to his original best selling series. (for my personal review on the first book go here). In this second novel in the series we rejoin Alex and Conner whose mother has been kidnapped by forces unknown! Conner and Alex fight to find their mother, meanwhile the evil Enchantress best known for her role as the Evil Queen in Sleeping Beauty, has plans for the Fairy Tale Kingdoms and she’s not playing nice. 

The recurring cast of characters meets many new fresh characters for an exciting roller-coaster of adventure, mischief, family, and heart. A beautifully scripted sequel. Colfer is a very talented human being and continues to amaze and delight.

For more on The Land of Stories series visit http://www.thelandofstoriesbook.com/ . Book three, A Grimm Warning, is also available! 

“The Sky is Everywhere” – Jandy Nelson

 

 

“The Sky is Everywhere” is the story of a girl, Lennie, whose sister Bailey has died. With her world destroyed and turned asunder Lennie must learn how to live in this new listless world without her sister. Turning to Toby – Bailey’s boyfriend – she finds a certain comfort in remembering Bailey with him. But then there’s Joe – the new boy – who makes her feel restless and alive and happy. Certain that she’s going to hell Lennie begins a dangerous path between a world without Bailey and never letting go.

This book is told in an inspiring narration that brings to light the truth of death, life, loss, and grief. Lennie is selfish, compulsive, and honest.

There were many things that I thought made this a good book – there are little notes littered through the pages – small scraps of pages, poems, comments – that break up the chapters and yet manage not to interrupt the flow of the narration. There are decisions in the book where you want to reach into the book and shake Lennie, and then you want to reach in and hold her because of her pain. It’s definitely a roller-coaster of a book.

Many critics have compared it to “If I Stay” and “Thirteen Reasons Why” I would agree with that assessment. I think that it has a lot of heart, a lot of morality, and most of all a lot of truth.

Lennie also explains how “The Sky Is Everywhere” and it’s a beautiful concept.

It’s Nelson’s first book and I think she got it right. I would recommend.