What’s Up Wednesday

It’s that time of the week when we all gather round Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk‘s blogs and talk about what we’ve been up to. If you want to join the conversation, go visit their blogs and find out how. You’ll also find a linky list of other participants. So go check them out–well, not yet… read my post first…

What I’m Reading

My read of the moment is IGNITE ME, the final book in Tahereh Mafi’s SHATTER ME trilogy. This is another really good series, and one of the main things that makes it so good is Tahereh’s prose. She conveys the MC’s thoughts so poetically, and powerfully–lots of feeling, lots of showing. It’s a good story too. Of course, I can’t share too much about this book since a) I haven’t finished it, and b) I don’t want to spoil it for those who haven’t read it, or any of the series. But the story centers around Juliette, and her ability to kill with a touch. SHATTER ME starts with 17-year-old Juliette locked away, having never known the embrace of another person. During her incarceration, she meets Adam, and eventually learns more about the dystopian world in which she lives, and the struggle to bring down the powers that be. If you haven’t read these books, they’re well worth your time.

What I’m Writing

Mostly flash fiction for the A-to-Z Blogging Challenge next month. The easiest stories to write are the ones where the day’s letter immediately makes me think of a word, which evokes an image that suggests a story. Unfortunately, for most of them I’ve spent a day, even a couple of days, trying to come up with words and stories. K was really hard. Really–how many “k” words can you think of? Open up the book next to you, turn to the first page, and count the number of words beginning with “k.” Unless you opened a dictionary at “k” I daresay you were as surprised as I was to find not many. If you have any word suggestions for q, u, x, or z that might make an interesting story, I’d like to hear them. Then check back toward the end of April to see if I used your word!

What Inspires Me Right Now

The Beta Reader feedback is beginning to trickle in, and while I’m getting some very good critiques, it’s not all negative. They have offered some kind words of encouragement, letting me know the story’s worth sticking with. Team Awesome’s awesome. But you figured that. I’ll introduce you to them formally when I have all their comments.

What Else I’ve Been Up To

Not much strange or startling, to be honest. I promised myself a reward for getting the novel to Beta Reading stage, and I finally had the money to make that purchase this past week: a set of recorders (as in the musical instruments). I’ve been playing piano and guitar for close to 30 years, but the recorder was the first instrument I ever learned. And it’s the only one I actually had lessons on! I learned to read music from recorder lessons. Needless to say, I have a bit of a soft spot for this particular wind instrument. Anyway, I’ve been playing again after a break of many years, and really enjoying it. So I decided I would like to get a full set: bass, tenor, alto, soprano (which is the one most school children learn to play), and sopranino. I’ve been having a lot of fun with them. Playing music is such a great way to relax. Maybe I’ll share some tunes with you one day…

That’s my week. How’s yours been?

43 Responses to What’s Up Wednesday

  1. I will be on the look-out for a story about a Zebra that performs X-rays in a Kitchen with the patient resting on a Quilt and the Zebra shielding himself/herself from the radiation with an Umbrella :)

  2. I remember learning to play the recorder! Now you’ve got me wanting to purchase (an inexpensive) one for my daughter. She’s learning to read sheet music in her guitar lessons and a recorder might be a fun way to reinforce that. You know, I haven’t read any books in the SHATTER ME trilogy, but I consistently hear good things. Perhaps I need to remedy that soon. Have a great week, Colin!

    • That’s not a bad plan, actually, Katy. Not only will the recorder help reinforce her music reading, but it’ll also help develop manual dexterity, which is useful for both guitar and recorder (and piano, for that matter). If you do some research on Amazon, you’ll see quite a price range for recorders. A cheap soprano can set you back a mere $5. A nice wooden, professional grade soprano could set you back several hundred. I suggest you go for the cheap option, and if she takes to it, consider investing in a better quality instrument. Not necessarily professional grade, but one in the $15-$20 range. The tone quality will be better, and that will only encourage her to keep playing. (And if you want to share with her how awesome a recorder can sound, check out some professional players on YouTube!)

      I know some people didn’t connect with the rather unique way Tahereh wrote Juliette’s voice in SHATTER ME. But the fact that it’s unique makes it worth reading, I think. I liked it a lot. I hope you do too. :)

  3. Glad Team Awesome is being awesome. :) Have fun playing the recorders!

  4. I really need to read the Shatter Me series! It’s been on my list for ages. I’m intrigued to see what you come up with for the A-Z series! It’s always nice to get good beta feedback which is really encouraging. :)

    Enjoy playing the recorder!

    • You should at least read the first, and then pick up the rest if you get into it. Juliette’s voice is so very unique. The A-Z challenge is fun, and the stories I’m coming up with certainly cover a range of styles. They’re not all literary masterpieces, but I’m happy with them so far. :)

      Thanks, Emma!

  5. I’ve been hearing a lot about the Shatter Me trilogy and I might pick it up at some point, but I think for the time being I’m going to continue to take a break from YA dystopia – it’s everywhere! :P

    Good luck with the A-Z challenge! I look forward to seeing what you write for it. :)

    • SHATTER ME is dystopian, but I recommend it for the style more than the genre. Sure, if you like dystopian, you’ll enjoy SHATTER ME. But if you’re looking for a voice that’s a bit different, it’s definitely worth checking out.

      Thanks, Jess! I’m having fun with A-Z–I hope you do too! :)

  6. As a recorder-player, I can’t resist your invitation to suggest words. Quarrel, Upset, Zenith and a title I used myself “Knock, knock”. Enjoy the challenge. I’m in the theme reveal and you may find mine of (a little) interest.

    • Oooo… more good word suggestions. Thanks, Sue! I’m intrigued as to what your theme might be. I’ll have to check out your theme reveal… :)

  7. I would love to learn to play the piano. I actually started teaching myself a couple of years ago, but then I moved and had to leave my piano behind. I’m hoping I’ll be able to get back into it sometime soon.
    As soon as you said ‘k’ word I thought Knight. Usurper jumped out at me for ‘U’. Apparently I’m in a fantasy frame of mind right now. Good luck!

    • Awww… I would hate if I had to leave my piano behind. Sure, I have my guitars and my recorders, but piano’s my first instrument and I’d be miserable if I didn’t have one around to play. I hope you get one soon–even a relatively inexpensive digital piano can satisfy the need. :)

      Thanks for the word suggestions, Laura. Good ones! :)

  8. I’m glad all is going well for you! My son just started piano lessons. I played as a child, but my Mom’s piano had just been taking up space in my house for years. I am having so much fun playing through all the lessons with him!

    • Thanks, Laurie! That’s a great way to get back into playing–working through your son’s lessons with him. I hope it brings you both a lot of joy. :)

  9. I read SHATTER ME years ago, but have never seriously considered reading the rest of the trilogy. I liked it, I just didn’t love it enough to still be thinking about it a year later when the second book came out. My WIP has a lot of stuff about human touch (there is an autistic character who doesn’t let anyone touch her). Reading the rest of the SHATTER ME trilogy might be a good form of “research”.

    Have a great week!

    • Opinions over SHATTER ME seem to be a lot more divided than over CINDER. It’s a fascinating concept, though: a 17-year-old girl who has never known the touch of another human, and is ostracized because of her “power.” The fractured, brittle voice of the first book really digs into the psyche of such a person which, to me, makes it very compelling. As for the rest of the series, seeing Juliette come out of her shell, and exploring how she handles other people after being locked away for so long is certainly interesting. It might well worth checking out for your WIP research.

      Thanks, Kate–you too! :)

  10. Little known fact: I can play the recorder with my nose. Not something you probably wanted to know about me, though, right? ;-) That’s pretty awesome that you got yourself some, especially given that it was because your story is in beta read form now!

    Well, I really liked SHATTER ME, but I didn’t love the other two books, sad to say. The first book was just so uniquely told, that it was hard to top that for me, especially once Juliette started to feel more okay with her surroundings. (The unique writing style from Book 1 started to fade away or feel forced a bit.) I also found the lack of world building and complete character 180s in Book 3 a bit problematic. Ah well. To each his/her own, right?

    Did you use ‘xenophobia’ for X last year? That would be an interesting word to work with. I’m all out of ideas besides that one, though. Have a good week, Colin!

    • Arlee Bird used xenophobia last year and so did I! http://suestrifles.wordpress.com

      • Two years ago, I went with “X Men”–i.e., historical people whose names begin with X. They were mostly Greek, as I recall. Last year I wrote a 500-word piece of flash fiction called “X Marks the Spot.” This year, I’m down to 100 words. Xenophobia is definitely in the running. :)

    • I think we need video evidence of this super power you have, Jaime. It could revolutionize centuries of recorder technique! ;)

      I’m seeing a lot of character development in the series, and character growth. Though I’m not sure I’m entirely happy with how Juliette’s character is growing. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Character growth is good; that we might not the way the character is growing is life. The second book recovered well from a wobbly start for me. I’ll let you all know what I think of book 3 when I’ve finished it.

      I didn’t use xenophobia last year… that is a good word. Thanks! :)

  11. Playing musical instruments is a skill I’ve always lacked but would love to learn one day. Maybe this summer or next I’m tempted to start learning guitar. I have the added bonus of youtube nowadays.

    • It’s amazing all the things you can learn to do on YouTube. I keep telling my kids, I wish I had all this technology when I was their age. The whole idea of turning on your computer and being able to watch how-to videos on just about anything. Or watch TV shows, or movies, or music videos… aye, I tell ya–you kids don’ know how good you got it! ;)

      If you have a guitar, then by all means pick it up and give it a try. The one disadvantage to starting out on the guitar is it takes time to develop the finger strength (and the hard skin on the fingertips) for sounding notes and chords clearly. Of course, with any instrument, your first attempts are not going to sound pleasant. But I know that can be off-putting to all but the most determined novice guitarists. Stick at it, though, and you’ll get there. :)

  12. I haven’t played the recorder in ages, not since early grade school. I’ve always wanted to be more musically-inclined than I am. I’ve been told my mouth structure isn’t right to play the flute, the clarinet was overwhelming, and I lost interest in the guitar (though I regret that now, years later).

    By the way, I’ll have my beta notes back to you on Friday. :) Have a great week!

    • And you need a full compliment of working fingers to play the guitar (tell that to Phil Keaggy or Django Reinhardt–look them up on YouTube). *sigh* If you want to learn the flute, then unless you don’t have a mouth at all, you can at least give it a try. If Terry Pratchett can write novels while incapacitated with Alzheimer’s, and Stephen Hawking can teach at Cambridge without the use of vocal chords, “your mouth structure isn’t right” seems a bit of a lame reason to discourage someone from a musical instrument. Okay, end of rant. :)

      If you really want to learn an instrument, go for it Rachael. Pick something you really want to learn, and that you know you’ll persist with even through the initial frustration of training your fingers, and have fun with it. If you have no aspirations to being a professional musician, that takes a lot of pressure off you. So enjoy! :D

      I look forward to the notes–have a great week yourself!

  13. Um, let me see… Question for q, maybe. Xylem is the most normal x-word I can think of…

    Getting beta reader feedback is so exciting! I hope Team Awesome is very helpful. :) Have a great week, Colin!

    • I should have guessed that one of the creators of “Save a Word Saturday” would think “xylem” is normal! ;) Thanks for the suggestions, though. Good ones. :)

      Team Awesome has been very helpful so far. Thanks, Susan! :)

  14. How about, Quest, Umbrella, X Marks the Spot, and Zit. :)

    • I used “X Marks the Spot” last year for a 500-word piece of flash fiction. My first ever pirate story, actually. That was fun. These are some good ideas. Thanks, Melanie! :)

  15. I used to love playing recorder in school. Wish I still remembered how! I’m glad to hear you’ve been getting some positive feedback from Team Awesome. That must be very encouraging! Hope all that flash fiction writing continues to go well! Have a great week!

    • When I first picked the recorder back up, I was amazed at how much I still remembered. But I was in the school orchestra, so I played fairly regularly for a few years. In fact, I still have the recorder I first learned on. It’s old, but still sounds good.

      The feedback from Team Awesome has been encouraging so far. And hopefully, all this flash fiction will help when I come to do the last round of edits/revisions on this novel. :)

      Thanks, Erin!

  16. Ugh, A-Z is right around the corner, isn’t it? I’ve done nothing to prepare for it. I really need to write up posts soon or else I’ll get overwhelmed. I really need to read Mafi’s books, I’ve heard nothing but good things too. And it’s great that you’re getting good feedback! That always feels good :)

    • I really wanted to be prepared for this years A-Z given my topic. I’d hate to be having to come up with flash fiction stories the day before, every day for a month. So far, so good…

      I’d especially recommend SHATTER ME, if for no other reason than the fact it’s such a different style, and very reflective of the MC’s frame of mind. Well worth checking out.

      I hope you find time for your A-Z posts this week, Kim! :)

  17. Here’s wishing you tons of success for A-Z. I’m unwillingly going to have to skip-out this year (which makes me even more awed at the people who pull it off). So good luck there! And congrats to the beta stage. It’s a great idea to buy yourself a treat – it’s hard to get that far, so you deserve it.

    • Thank you, Tonja! It’s going to be a fun A-Z, especially if I can get all these stories written in time. :)

      It’s good to recognize writing milestones. This novel has been in various stages of development for a couple of years, so finally having it Beta-ready was a big deal for me–worthy of a treat.

  18. Good luck with A-Z! I haven’t had the guts to tackle it again in a couple of years.

  19. I was a cellist myself (well, technically I can still play, though I don’t have a cello at the moment) And I learned guitar from a college boyfriend (of course). My brother played the cello, too, and our mom played the violin. I’m trying to find an instrument that my son has any interest in playing. So far, he likes the idea, but not the actual playing. Perhaps recorder is the way to get started :)

    • The recorder might be a good, cheap way of stimulating musical interest. My oldest daughter has taken up the cello, having found seemingly the only cello teacher in town. I’m not sure why there’s a scarcity of cellists in our area. It’s a nice instrument.

  20. How about Quest, as that is what it is! :)

  21. The recorders sound fun! I had brief lessons at a summer day camp back in elementary school and really enjoyed it. I didn’t even know there were more than one type, or pitch, or whatever. You should share some tunes some day!

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