What’s Up Wednesday

I debated whether or not I’d do a WUW today, but decided to go ahead, just so you know I’m still here. What’s up with me?:

What I’m Reading

Despite the votes for THE DIVINERS last week, I decided to read THE SHERLOCKIAN by Graham Moore. My wife recommended this book to me a while ago, so I decided to go ahead and read it (I’ll get to THE DIVINERS soon–promise!). I haven’t finished THE SHERLOCKIAN yet, but I’ll say this much–it’s good. Very good. If you’re a Sherlock Holmes fan, I think you’ll enjoy it. If you’re not, but like a good mystery, you’ll probably enjoy it too. The novel consists of two stories running parallel to each other: one involving a murder among a group of Sherlock Holmes enthusiasts in 2010, and another that has Dr. Arthur Conan Doyle and Bram Stoker investigating a murder case in 1900. They are related to each other in at least one sense that I’m aware of at the moment–they may well end up being related more deeply as the story progresses. We’ll see. I’ll post a Goodreads review when I’m finished, but perhaps that’s enough to encourage you to check it out yourself…

By the way, I know I said I’ll post a review of ALLEGIANT soon, and I will. I just haven’t got around to it yet.

What I’m Writing

Not much aside from blog articles at the moment. With my Mum in town for the next month, I’m trying to make the most of spending time with her. I do need to find some time to make progress on the WIP edits, even if it’s just the odd 10 minutes here and there–just to keep up the momentum. That’s my challenge for this week.

What Inspires Me Right Now

I don’t remember the exact context of the comment–something to do with being able to afford things–but my Mum just casually mentioned the extra income I’ll make when I publish a novel. How can you not be inspired when your Mum a) considers becoming a published writer a reasonable goal, and b) believes it’s something you can (and will) achieve? This is not to say no-one else in my family believes I can and will be published–I know my wife shares my Mum’s conviction. But it’s very encouraging to hear these things from those closest to you.

What Else I’ve Been Up To

As you can guess, largely hanging out with Mum–shopping, catching up, lots of family time. I’m also trying (and not always succeeding) to convince Mum that she’s on vacation, which means she doesn’t have to help with the housework!

How’s your week been? Check out Jaime Morrow’s blog to find out how to join in with her What’s Up Wednesday meme.

What’s Up Wednesday: Book of the Month for October, 2013 Edition

I’m a little late posting this week’s WUW (see below for an explanation). As you probably know, What’s Up Wednesday is a blog meme started by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk to keep up with blog writer friends. To participate, we all answer four questions that cover what’s going on in our lives at the moment. See Jaime’s blog for details on how you can join in.

What I’m Reading

I just finished ALLEGIANT by Veronica Roth, and I’ve yet to select the next book to read. Possibly THE SHERLOCKIAN by Graham Moore, but I also have GIRL OF NIGHTMARES, THE DIVINERS, and a number of other books I could read. Choices choices! As to what I thought of ALLEGIANT… I’ll post a full review soon, either here or on Goodreads, but here are some brief thoughts. I was a little disappointed. I wondered about the dual perspective, though toward the end I understood better why she wrote it that way. But the voices of the two perspectives were too similar. When the only way you know who’s POV your reading is to check the chapter heading, something’s not right. Marie Lu scored points with me because even though she color-coded the two voices in LEGEND, I didn’t need the color coding to know who’s POV I was reading. Also, there was a bit too much knuckle-brushing/nose brushing-type romance in the first half of the book. Indeed, I thought the first 250 pages needed some serious editing. HOWEVER… the book got a lot better after that, and I gave Veronica big points for a very gutsy ending. I know people have complained about the ending, and though I haven’t read any of the complaints, I think I know why. And frankly, I thought it was bold, but totally true to character. Story-wise, I think it’s a good finale. Not the best-written of the three though; only four stars.

So, what’s my Book of the Month for October? Definitely… THE 5TH WAVE by Rick Yancey. I gushed about it a few weeks ago, and wrote a review on Goodreads, so I won’t go on about it now, except to say you really need to read that book! And I have the sequel on pre-order already.

What I’m Writing

Not much at the moment. Editing has slowed to a snail’s pace. I’ll try to get more done as time permits, though I’m not sure how much time I’ll have over the next month.

What Inspires Me Right Now

Another Janet Reid contest, and another shout-out. I didn’t win, but I didn’t expect to–partly because of the competition (97 entries–and the winner sooo deserved to win), and partly because I wrote a poem, and poetry’s not my thing. So why write a poem? BECAUSE poetry’s not my thing. Yes, when it comes to writing, I guess I’m Dauntless (har har). Seriously, I like a challenge, and the harder I can make it for myself, the better. However, I’m inspired because 1) I wrote a poem; 2) it was a story; 3) it was horror-themed (and I don’t write horror); and 4) Janet gave it a shout-out–she enjoyed it. Cool! More evidence that perhaps I might not be too bad at this writing thing…

What Else I’ve Been Up To

My mum’s visiting from the UK for the next month or so. This means I’ll be spending time with her, which explains why this is late, why my writing has slowed to a crawl, and why I’ll probably not be as blog-active for a while. But it’s worth it. I haven’t seen her in over two years, so it’ll be good to spend time with her.

What’s going on in your life?

What’s Up Wednesday

It’s time for my weekly What’s Up Wednesday check-in. What’s Up Wednesday is a blog meme hosted by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk (though Erin’s on a blog break at the moment), designed to help blog writer buddies keep in touch in the midst of our busy lives. If you want to join in, check out the details and the linky link widget on Jaime’s blog.

What I’m Reading

ALLEGIANT by Veronica Roth. The last installment of the DIVERGENT trilogy. I pre-ordered it, and Amazon delivered it yesterday. I’ve only just started, so no review… and I’m not sure I’d want to say too much about it anyway (spoilers!). I guess I can say that it’s written from Tris and Tobias’s POV–so far alternating chapters between them. Chapter FOUR is Tobias. I wonder if that was coincidental?

What I’m Writing

Still on the WIP revisions. October is waning, and I’m not at all near the end of my revision phase. In other words, I doubt very much I’ll be through with revisions by the end of the month. But I’m not giving up! Revisions will be done when they are done. I’m not going to rush them just to feel good about meeting a personal deadline. I want a revised manuscript that I’ll be proud to put in the hands of beta readers, no matter how long it takes to achieve that. Hopefully not too long, though!

What Inspires Me Right Now

This isn’t new, but working through my WIP while also reading other books actually gives me confidence (hopefully not misplaced) that I might actually be able to do this writing thing. I may not be the most talented writer in the world, but I don’t think I completely suck either. I suppose that’s a good place to be in.

What Else I’ve Been Up To

The usual stuff, and preparing for my Mum visiting in from the UK in a little less that a week. It’s been about three years since she last visited, so we’re all looking forward to seeing her.

So, what have you been up to?

What’s Up Wednesday

It’s time for me to post a weekly What’s Up Wednesday life update. If you’d like to join in with this blog meme, check out Jaime Morrow‘s blog for details.

What I’m Reading

THE 5TH WAVE by Rick Yancey. I’m still reading it, so I’m not sure how to sum up the premise. For now, let’s just say it involves an attack upon earth that comes in waves, and appears to destroy the entire population. At least, that’s how Cassie Sullivan feels: like she’s the only survivor of the human race. I figured, given my current reading pace, it would take me the rest of the month to get through this book. Then I got sucked in, and stayed up way past my bedtime reading the first 100 pages. What’s drawing me in right now isn’t so much character, description, or anything like that. It’s the story, and the way it’s told. The premise is full of interesting possibilities, and Yancey is not squandering a good idea. He’s telling the story well, in a way that keeps me turning pages.

What I’m Writing

Still working on the revisions, gradually moving along, sometimes reading ahead and enjoying it, which is a good sign. I also wrote my Walk the Plank challenge for the YA Buccaneers. I usually don’t get to this until the very end of the month, but I decided to get on and do it early this month. I also posted it late last night, which I don’t normally do. Strange behavior for me. Was it a full moon? Anyway, if you want to read my spooky piece of flash fiction, visit yesterday’s post.

What Inspires Me Right Now

Not really writing-related, but as a Doctor Who fan, I am both inspired and excited by the recent discovery of nine previously lost episodes of the classic series. Until last week, there were 106 episodes of Doctor Who from the 1960s missing from the BBC archive. Over the years, episodes have turned up, but it was beginning to look like the well of opportunities was running dry. A find like this stirs the hope that there may still be more out there, and one day we’ll be able to enjoy again some of these long-lost stories. What is particularly gratifying is the fact that, thanks to this find, the story “The Enemy of the World” is back in the archive. That was one of my top five missing Who stories I’d like to see recovered.

What Else I’ve Been Up To

Not so much what I’ve been doing, but my kids have been cleaning the house in preparation for my Mum coming in a few weeks. FirstBorn has a to-do checklist, and even Fourth- and FifthBorn have cleaned and vacuumed their room! Makes me wish my Mum came more often…

What have you been up to this week?

Walk the Spooky Plank!

Although I don’t participate in Hallowe’en, writing challenges are a different matter! This month’s Walk the Plank challenge from the YA Buccaneers has a “ghost story” theme. The challenge is to write a 200-word (or fewer) piece of flash fiction with some spooky, creepy, ghoulishness to it. As usual there’s a drawing for a prize, and you can earn bonus points by:

  • Writing exactly 200 words
  • Including the opening words “It was a cold Halloween night…”
  • Including the closing words “I screamed.”

So, without further ado…

It was a cold Halloween night, but I needed to get out of the house. The music was too loud, and there were too many people, like Jake invited half the school. I thought maybe Kaylee Cooper would turn up. Hoped. Not that she would be looking for me.

I sat on the front steps, wishing this Doctor Frankenstein lab coat was thicker. My phone buzzed. A text message:

jeremy. look right

I looked right. The street light picked out a girl in vampire costume at the edge of the house. My heart skipped.

“Hi, Kaylee—”

She turned and ran behind the house.

“Wait!” I said, running after her.

She headed toward a wooded area, then disappeared into the trees. I followed, hoping she wasn’t too far ahead. Soon I came to a clearing, with what looked like a stone altar in the middle. Kaylee lay on top, black cloak wrapped around her, eyes fixed on me in an icy stare, a line of blood drooling down her chin.

Then I saw the blood around her neck.

And the pool of blood under her head.

I reached into her cloak and pulled out her cold, lifeless hand.

I screamed.

Want to try the challenge? Visit the YA Buccaneers blog for details.

What’s Up Wednesday

Time for another round of What’s Up Wednesday, brought to you, as always, by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk. Check out their blogs to find out what it’s all about. After last week’s enormous post, this ones’ much shorter:

What I’m Reading

I’m still working my way through THE GOSPEL AND THE GREEKS (see last week). My reading has slowed a lot since I’ve been concentrating on trying to finish revisions to the WIP. I’m sure my writer friends understand. It’s a bit frustrating because I have a number of good books waiting in the wings. Patience, my friends, patience!

What I’m Writing

As I just mentioned, I’m still revising the WIP. I’m close to 60% through, so while there’s a ways to go yet, I’m making good progress, I think. Also, yesterday I posted a piece of flash fiction for Robin Moran’s Gruesome Giveaway. There are four ways to enter (flash fiction being one), and she’s offering a book to the winner of each category. Check out the contest page for details. Since my post this week is relatively short, take a moment to go to yesterday’s article and read my story. I’ll wait for you. Done? Thanks! Okay, moving on…

What Inspires Me Right Now

Those of you who left nice, encouraging comments regarding the snippet of my WIP that I posted last week. I didn’t post it to fish for compliments, or really to get any critiques, but the fact some of you seemed to genuinely like it spurs me on to finish it. Especially given the struggles you know I’ve been having over the voice, the comments really helped–so thank you, guys!!

What Else I’ve Been Up To

Nothing strange or startling. Just life, and life’s good, so I’m not complaining.

How about you–how’s your week been? Visit Jaime’s blog to find out how to join the blog hop!

What’s Up Wednesday: Book of the Month for September 2013 Edition

It’s Wednesday, and time for our weekly check-in on how things are going with me (and all the other What’s Up Wednesday participants), courtesy of Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk. This week, since it’s now October, I thought I’d take the opportunity to share with you the book that I consider my favorite read for the previous month. Without further ado…

What I’m Reading & My Book of the Month for September 2o13

First, I’m currently reading THE GOSPEL AND THE GREEKS by Ronald H. Nash. The book essentially evaluates the oft-cited claim that the New Testament writers borrowed from the thought and worldview of Greek philosophy and pagan religion. This used to be a popular argument against the Bible until some years ago, when experts in the fields of ancient history and theology pointed out that while the pagans and the Christians may sometimes sound alike, their worldviews were a million miles apart. Unfortunately, the message hasn’t got through to everyone, and many still recycle these old claims. Nash’s book revisits the arguments and reasserts the uniqueness of Christian theology over against Plato, Aristotle, Philo, and the Mystery Religions. There’ll be a Goodreads review when I’ve finished it.

Probably no surprise to anyone, but my pick of September is A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS by Khaled Hosseini. Though I read some really good books last month (all 5-star, I believe), Hosseini’s book just eclipsed the others. It’s well-written, easy to follow, absorbing, and full of atmosphere and well-defined characters–everything you want in a good novel. I’ve already said a lot about it, and I’ve said more on Goodreads, so I’ll leave it at that.

What I’m Writing

Still editing the WIP. Since I’m sure you’re getting bored of me whining about it, I’m going to share a brief excerpt. Pearl, my alien girl, is at a large manor house where she’s helping the servants in exchange for somewhere to stay. In this scene, Pearl is talking to Lucy, the scullery maid, while helping her with her chores. Their conversation turns to the daughter of the house, a rather stuck-up sixteen year old who is disliked by the entire serving staff:

“Why is she so snappy and hard? Earl Tregellis seems like a nice man. Did he not teach her how to be nice?”

“I don’ know,” said Lucy. “P’raps it’s ‘cos she’s been born into priv’lige and she always gets what she wants. P’raps it’s because she ain’t got no siblin’s to keep her ‘umble. Maybe she’s jus’ a bad’un.”

I listened to Lucy’s reasons, and understood very few of them. I worked out that “priv’lige” meant being part of a “family” that lives in a big house, has servants, and can buy whatever they need. But there was one word she used that really confused me.

“What do you mean by ‘siblin’s’?”

“You know, brothers and sisters,” she said.

“Brothers and sisters? What are those?”

Lucy stopped scrubbing for a moment. Then she laughed.

“I forgot; you don’ speak English naturally. Not sure what you would call ‘em in Swedish. You understand Mum and Dad, yes? Parents?” She was watching my face, and saw my look of I-don’t-know-what-the-spak-you-mean.

“Thems that raises you, looks after you?”

“Guardians?” I said.

“Yeah, I suppose that’ll do,” said Lucy. This was exciting because I was wanting to learn more about “parents,” but something about Lucy’s words told me this is something I should know if I’m from Earth, so I had to be careful about my questions. Now I knew that “parents” are like our Guardians—but the way Lucy said “that’ll do” told me that wasn’t all.

“Well, your guardians… you know,” she said, making her eyebrows wiggle like I should know, but I didn’t know. Her face turned a bit red. “Uhh—and then out comes little ‘uns. Boys are sons, girls are daughters, and sons and daughters together are siblin’s.”

You know?”

“Yes,” Lucy said. “You know.” She wiggled her eyebrows again.

“No, I don’t know,” I said. “What is this you know?”

“Jus’… you know—like when a man and a woman…” Lucy was becoming more red in the face. “Oh, it was hard enough ‘splainin’ it to me brother, let alone a foreigner!”

“Splainin’ what?”

“Never mind,” she said. “Just the guardians have sons and daughters, and these are siblin’s.”

“And Miss Caroline doesn’t have any siblin’s?”

“No,” said Lucy. “And I think it shows. All she does is sit in ’er room readin’ books an’ sendin’ for food. She don’t go out, she don’t play, she don’t see no boys—and that ain’t natr’al for a girl of her years. His lordship has tried to get her to go to balls and dos, but she won’t ‘ave it. She’s sixteen and all she does is sits and reads and talks bad to us—oh, and eats ‘erself fat.”

Okay, that’s enough. If you want to read more, I’m open to hear from people who want to be beta readers. Email me if you’re interested.

What Inspires Me Right Now

Nothing in particular, and everything in general. :)

What Else I’ve Been Up To

Since this post is already getting very long, I’ll just mention the fact that I won the YA Buccaneer’s September Giveaway! Woo Hoo! Thanks to the friendly pirates, there’ll be a book on its way to me. If you want to enter for October’s giveaway, check out the YA Buccaneers blog to find out how you can get your name in the pirate hat.

How’s your week been? To participate in What’s Up Wednesday, check out Jaime’s blog, and see the linky list to visit other WUW-ers.

 

Why Christians Must Write, and What They Must Write About

I came across this lecture by Pastor Doug Wilson, who has himself authored a fair few books and articles. He makes some interesting and useful points, so I thought I would share it. Hopefully you’ll find it beneficial, especially if you’re a Christian:

Here’s where the video originally came from: http://www.canonwired.com/featured/wordsmith/

What’s Up Wednesday

Welcome to the last What’s Up Wednesday of September! Can you believe it? September nearly done and dusted. Autumn well and truly here. Where has the year gone? Time for some cooler temps, autumnal colors, seasonal smells, and all the things that come with my favorite quarter of the year! And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that What’s Up Wednesday is a meme created and sponsored by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk. By answering four simple questions, meme participants catch each other up on their reading, writing, and life in general.

What I Am Reading

I finished A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS by Khaled Hosseini, and it totally lived up to the hype. You may be aware of the trouble Afghanistan has seen over the last 30-40 years, but through the eyes of Mariam and Lalia, these news events come alive. Hosseini’s skillful prose brought the sights, tastes, and atmosphere of this country home to me in a way that could only be improved by actually going there. But this is not a piece of journalism, nor is it a story of war; it’s the story of two women and their struggle to live and love despite their circumstances. I’ve given a full review over on Goodreads. It’s a thought-provoking, emotionally-charged novel. There’s some profanity, and some intense violence, so I don’t recommend it for anyone younger than upper YA and above. But it’s definitely worth reading.

What I’m Writing

I took some time to go back and re-read earlier in my WIP, and I realized that I have become more severe in my edits as I’ve progressed. Specifically, my alien girl’s English vocabulary has become more restricted the further I’ve gone on. What’s particularly telling, however, is the fact that the earlier parts are much easier and more entertaining to read. I think the part of me that strives for authenticity has to realize that while a 16-year-old alien girl’s English vocabulary may not be expansive, for the sake of the story, I’m going to have to exercise artistic license and broaden her linguistic range. After all, the novel has to be readable too. Finding that balance between alien and readable is just another one of the challenges this story presents. Hopefully I’m getting there.

What Inspires Me Right Now

I can’t think of anything that inspires me particularly right now.

What Else I’ve Been Up To

Yesterday I posted some flash fiction for the YA Buccaneers “Walk the Plank” challenge. It’s strange but when I read what they gave for an opening line, I thought “1966.” And no matter how hard I tried to change it to something else, it kept coming back to “1966.” So I went with it… and it went to a place I really didn’t expect. If you’re interested, you can read it here. Nothing else strange or startling going on.

How’s your week been? If you want to participate in the meme, go to Jaime’s blog for details and the linky link to add your blog, and/or visit other participating blogs.

m4s0n501

Walk the Plank: New Voyages Writing Challenge

Every month, the motley crew of pirates over at YA Buccaneers challenge writers to come up with some flash fiction based on the month’s theme. This month, the theme is “New Voyages,” and that’s what they want us to write about. To make the challenging that bit more challenging, there are extra points for:

  • Starting with the words “It was the first day of…”
  • Ending with the words “I feel _____ about the next day…”
  • Hitting the word count exactly

They’ve given us fifty more words this month. So, in 250 words, here’s my take on “New Voyages”:

It was the first day of 1966; so said the sign on the Allied Chemical building. Seconds before we were chanting the countdown, all eyes on the ball gliding down, its yellow lights glittering against the night sky. I held Lisa’s hand while around us the crowd erupted into euphoria. My ears rang with the noise, muting all other sound; blind to street signs, buildings, and neon lights. All I could see were people dancing, jostling, holding their loved ones.

I pulled Lisa into my arms and kissed her. I didn’t care about the crowds, or our parents only feet behind us. All that mattered was being here, now, with Lisa. Tears filled our eyes. We held each other, fighting the forces that would tear us apart. But even as I pulled Lisa closer to me than skin, I could feel the draft notice in my coat pocket come between us.

Here we were, beginning a new year, surrounded by thousands of people making resolutions, planning, hoping, wishing, full of expectation and excitement, and all we wanted was to live the moment. I tried to lock every second into my memory. The smell of Lisa’s hair, the warmth of her breath, the hopeless longing in her eyes, the grip of her hand.

In eight hours I’d report for induction. In twenty-four I could be shipping out. I didn’t want this day, this minute, this second to end. I felt so alive right then. I feel numb about the next day.

If you want to take part in the challenge, you have until the end of the month (next week) to join in. You’ll find details on the YA Buccaneers’ blog.

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