Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Why NOT to Number Your Revision List

So far there are ONE HUNDRED revision points on my list.

You heard that right....100.

photo by Gemma Bou/creative commons

And I thought this rewrite was going to be easier than the last one.  Ha ha.  HA.

Some of them are easy things, like "don't make character A react by laughing on page 123."  Then again, a lot of them are more along the order of, "Describe setting X a lot more" or "Revise the relationship between characters A and B."

The part that makes it scary:  I'm going to try to get through all this in the month of June.  We'll see how it goes. ;)

Now I know why I always used bullet points.  Bullet points protect you from the fear you should be feeling.  They keep you in the dark.  Like a good friend, they lie to you when you can't handle the truth.  (Is that good?  I'm not sure.) 

I'm not really that worked up.  But it is intimidating...  So I've been coping by listening to music from my childhood.  Mostly the Backstreet Boys hahaha.




Aaaaand that's really all I have time for because my computer keeps freezing on me. 

How do you plan for a revision/rewrite?  Has your computer been freezing on you?  Do you enjoy the Backstreet Boys?  Do you have any ambitious plans for June?

Happy writing, happy reading, happy living!

~Susan

Monday, May 28, 2012

Movie Review: The Three Musketeers (2011)

(I think I'm supposed to tell you there are spoilers ahead.  Well, there are, in case you're concerned about that.) 


Here is the short version of this review:  OMG AIRSHIPS WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY?


Here is the long version: : 

I had high hopes for this movie.  To say I love the author and the story is an understatement.  If I am a devotee of anything or anyone, it is Alexandre Dumas and his stories.  (almost all his books are free for Kindle read them NOW!)

The casting looked (and for the most part, was) really good… except I didn’t love Ray Stevenson as Porthos.  Maybe it was the hair, or the fact that he was never allowed to wear black like Athos, Aramis, and D’Artagnan.  Also, he was played (or written—I’m not sure which one was more to blame) more stupid and thuggish than Porthos is in the book.  And him always wearing BROWN instead of black like the “normal” musketeers came to symbolize this for me, as I sat on my friend’s couch, getting more and more allergic and becoming more and more confused as to why there were airships on the screen.  But anyway, Porthos:  it was as if they said, “Well, Porthos is dumb and brutish, unlike the rest of them.  So of course he can’t wear black like the others.  Instead, he will wear brown as a mark of his inferior mental capabilities and unimportance.” 
Porthos, why aren't you wearing black like the real men?  (For those of you who haven't read the book, the real Porthos
does not wear brown.  In the book, he's got flair.)

The only other bits of casting I was unsure about were Milla Jovovich as Milady (she’s married to the director so…yeah… She needed to be more blonde and MUCH LESS NINJA-LIKE.), along with Constance, who looked wayyyyy too 21st century.  (D’Artagnan had the modern look going on as well, but by the time I formed an opinion about him I was too busy gaping at airships to care.)  I thought Orlando Bloom’s performance was pretty good (I think he did what he could given that he was the villain in a version of 3 Musketeers that had AIRSHIPS in it.  I mean, what would you do?  Mayyybeee not sign up for the role.  But I forgive him.)  By the way, my friend told me he had an ugly kid.  *takes break to google Orlando Bloom’s baby*  Nah, it’s cute.  Or maybe that’s just because it’s with Orlando Bloom.  It’s hard for me to distinguish. 


AIRSHIPS.  I’m getting there.

Gah, they messed up the backstory with Milady.  Instead of putting her in Athos' dark, mysterious past, they started the movie with the two of them in a relationship, and then--all within the first 5 minutes of the movie--had her inexplicably run off with the Duke of Buckingham, who (for no apparent reason) fed the three musketeers a non-deadly poison that gave them blurry vision.  I suppose this was purely for dramatic effect, like most things in the movie.  All this happened while the characters were breaking into secret vaults to uncover "DaVinci's plans" for what really mattered:  the airships. 

Pardon me, I've lost focus.  Basically, the way they handled Milady and Athos made it like your average girl-dumps-guy lovestory.  WHICH CHANGES ATHOS’ CHARACTER AND DOES ABSOLUTELY NO JUSTICE TO THE ATHOS THAT DUMAS CREATED.  WHICH IS NOT OKAY!

And...they decided to start the movie in Venice???? Oh, so they could have a Sherlock Holmes-esque action sequence to open with, AND so the characters could find the plans for building the all-important airships.

I think it’s possible they A) just wanted to film in Venice or B) needed a way to justify putting Athos in a period-style diver suit and decided Venice could do that for them. 
This is so upsetting to me. 


Friday, May 25, 2012

Follow Friday

Huhhhh

Follow Friday is a blog hop hosted by Alison Can Read and Parajunkee's View.  This week's feature blogs are Underworld Love Addiction and Char + Marissa Book Reviews

Click HERE to see how you can join the fun! 

This week's question is more of an activity:  Dream cast your current read! 



I'm currently re-reading The Fellowship of the Ring...so....I'm *totally* cheating:
 
(source)
Really now, would you change any of this casting???

Happy Friday!

~Susan

Thursday, May 24, 2012

How I ended up with glitter on my shoulders and plot ideas in my head.

As part of my birthday present last year, one of my friends gave me a Disney Princess coloring book and glitter crayons.  Not becuase I'm actually three years old (Wow!  A three-year-old blogger/writer/college student.  That's serious talent.), but becuase it was kind of a joke and she finds coloring relaxing. 

I brought it to college becuase it reminded me of her, but didn't color at all.  I found it when I was unpacking, however, and something about the simple pictures waiting to be colored called to me. 

So when I was "supposed" to be writing one afternoon, I turned on some music and got out the coloring book instead. 

There may be a reason why my eyes went straight to THIS picture when I was choosing one to color...

What happened? 

Well, I ended up with glitter from the crayons all over me.  No idea how that happened.  I was wearing a strapless top, and it looked like I had taken a jar of glitter and sprinkled it all over my chest and shoulders.  I must have been really into my coloring, I guess. 

But also, there were plot revelationsHUGE plot revelations. 

And that's when I realized just how rare it is for me to let my mind unwind like that.  Sometimes life is so busy that it's not possible to set aside time like that, but I think I've been cutting myself short in terms of creativity... 

What do you like to do to refresh your creative brain and let ideas come to the surface?  Or are you like me, and don't do this enough? 


Monday, May 21, 2012

On the Streets of Paris . . .

My first impression of Paris was this:

Men in scarves.

Straight men in scarves.

Straight men in scarves hugging each other.

Now, give me a little slack. My mind was hazy with the jet lag and the hunger and the unexpected rain. Maybe its forgivable that my eyes somehow glazed over the brilliant, golden dome of the Hotel des Invalides and alighted instead upon a handsome, dark haired man in a long, drape-y, baby blue scarf.

However, be assured I've recovered from my initial impression and have even taken to wearing a scarf myself. It's hardly Paris if you're not wearing a scarf.

The flat where I am staying is charming. It is on the fifth floor of a building built in 1800s with a wrought-iron balcony and a view. There is a beautiful old piano and the wood floor creaks at the least provocation. The lady who owns the flat has a strange taste for goddess artwork, however. There are busty nudes basking in their feminine power all over the apartment. The goddess artwork may inspire its own post at a later date. I haven't decided yet.

I think the most amazing thing I have seen so far (besides this woman's impressive collection of nude
 statuettes) is the Louvre. If they took all the beautiful art work out of it and the building just stood by itself, empty as could be, it would still be utterly, completely amazing. I've never been so stunned by the beauty of ceilings in my life.

A ceiling painting of Icarus falling

What feels like miles and miles of palace, with every inch of ceiling as marvelous as the treasures it houses.

Besides the amazing ceilings, I also loved the sculpture, ancient and otherwise.

There's Spartacus looking studly.
I had to crop the picture, though.
He was looking a little too studly.
Winged Victory

Artemis
I've always loved this statue.
It was even more amazing in person.

My token picture of the Mona Lisa.
There were better things to look at
than a chick with no eyebrows and a mysterious smile.


My other favorite thing was the top of a pillar from Darius I's palace. Two huge bulls, carved from stone, kneeling to support even bigger wooden beams. It took up its own Louvre room all by itself and it was only the very top of a pillar maybe five times the height of the pillar decoration. And Darius had about twenty of these things.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

I WANT TO QUERY NOW (REPRISE)

Wasn't I JUST here 7 months ago, saying the SAME THING?  (Why yes, I was.)


So I got some beta readers (who have been EXCELLENT--there will be a post entirely dedicated to them later), and I got some distance, and I took a deep breath, and Tyler-Rose read the dang thing really thoroughly and gave me terrifically helpful feedback, and I've looked at it honestly and...

I HAVE TO DO ANOTHER FREAKING REVISION. 

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. 


I am a perfectionist.  BUT, as was addressed (again, ages ago) in this post, I do not believe I am tinkering into oblivion.  I'm just trying to make it as good as I can make it without an agent and without an editor.  Becuase that is the only way the thing will ever make it to the hands of an agent or editor. 

BUT I'M SO IMPATIENT.  I WANT TO SEND IT OFF NOW. 

But I CAN'T becuase I have a whole list of things that I already know I can improve.  Things that need a tweak (sometimes a big tweak) becuase that will make it a better book.  My estimated time frame for this revision is about three months. 

THREE MONTHS.  THREE FREAKING MONTHS. 


Right now the inside of my head sounds something like this: 


picture of the
end of the world
 courtesy of saavem
Three months?  Nooooo!  That's such a long time!  Might as well be a year!  Or a decade!  Heck, it might as well be a century!  And how am I POSSIBLY going to survive waiting to query for another century??????

Besides, so much happens in three months. By the time I can finally query, all the agents will be dead, no one will be reading books anymore, and the publishing houses will be full. (Becuase publishing houses definitely get full. Just like trash cans and water bottles.) And then the apocalypse will come. And as the meteors come crashing down upon me, all I'll be able to think is that if only I'd submitted while the romance in subplot #5 and the tension in subplot #2 were just mediocre, people would have read me, and then the meteors would have looked like swiftly descending butterflies instead of lethal balls of flaming rock.




So yes, I am far from content with the facts of my writing timeline...

But I am also so very determined.  I'M GOING TO DO THIS. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Follow Friday: Home Sweet Home

Follow Friday is a blog hop hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read
Gain New Blog Followers


Learn how to join the fun by clicking HERE.

And can I just say....I miss the Friday Feet?



Anyway, on to this week's question: 

Summer Break is upon us! What would be the perfect vacation spot for you to catch up on your reading & relax?


I thought about this, and I was having trouble thinking of a place I really wanted to go. 

Then I realized why:  I am so, so happy right where I am.  I got home last week from a year of college, and I love just existing here. 

This morning I walked around while it was still cool and dewy and the trees were sending shadows dancing across the lawn, and took pictures like this: 



And this: 



Because I could hardly believe how green it was.  Then I made myself a delicious flatbread pizza for lunch, and later I helped my mom weed a bed of flowers.  I never even knew I liked to weed, but I do.  It makes me feel like I'm getting in touch with my inner hobbit or something. 

So I'm happy right where I am for now.  Tyler-Rose is in Paris, so she would probably answer the same. ;) 

Happy Friday! 

~Susan

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Does blogging encourage bad writing?

SOURCE
 
A couple weeks ago, one of my professors (who, I must add, is an extremely intelligent, reasonable, and respectful human being) said this when someone mentioned blogging:


"Blogging encourages bad writing." 

Now, I was highly disconcerted for a moment.  Partly because he is SO smart and SO kind that I respect his opinion, but also becuase at first, it seemed like he was irrefutably correct. 

The evidence:
  • My blog posts are nowhere near as well-written as my college essays. 
  • They're not even as well-written as my fiction work. 
  • In blogging I use run-ons, I use slang, I tend not to worry about flawless structure, I may use more cliches than usual, and my diction is kind of...meh.  (<<Case and point.)

So, blogging encourages bad writing.  Right?  Seems true. 

I disagree with this statement.  Here is why: 

It comes down to a question of how we define "bad."  My professor seems to be operating under this definition: 

bad writing (bad wri-ting)  noun
1.  informal or casual writing; writing that does not adhere to post-secondary academic standards
2.  what people do on blogs

So really what he is saying is that blogging encourages casual writing. 

Which I believe is okay.  A college paper written casually is also written badly, but I think a blog post can be written casually and also well. 

Saying that blogs encourage bad writing is like saying that having conversations with people encourages lazy language.  I believe there is a valid place for using language informally.  And it is here. 

Right here.

Does your blog encourage bad writing?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Multiple writing projects at the same time? Yea or nay?



(source)
To multitask or not to multitask?  That is the question. 

After some excellent feedback from beta readers, I'm heading into another revision of THE MADMAN'S CROWN this summer.  Is it draft 6?  7?  8?  5?  I have no idea. 

I just know that I really, really, really hope it is the last revision I will do before I'm ready to query.  (More importantly, I suppose, I hope I am able to recognize whether or not that is the case, but hey--let a girl dream...)

So I'll be doing that^ this summer. 

But I feel like I should get working on a new project as well:  drafting/outlining book two.  I have two reasons for wanting to start this: 

1)  If you must pitch something with the suggestion that it be a series, I have heard it's good to have a solid idea of where the next book is going--or even a draft of the next book.  (I should probably do more research on this point.  I'll blog about my findings when I do.) 

2)  Though I'm actually excited to dive into draft 1,877 (oops, am I exaggerating?) of THE MADMAN'S CROWN, part of me is also DYING to forge ahead in the story! 


I'm going to try the dual-project system for a while at least, but I'm not sure how it will work for me.  I know a lot of people multitask in this way, so I guess I shouldn't be too worried. 

Opinions?  Horror stories?  Success stories?  Random anecdotes? 

Happy writing, happy reading, happy blogging!

~Susan

Monday, May 14, 2012

Best Author Names

Tyler-Rose is flying to Paris as I type! She may blog while she's there, and she may not. We'll see. Either way, I am at home (still unpacking from a year of college) and will have plenty of time to blog in the next two weeks.

I've been noticing that some authors have seriously cool names.  Some are puns on writing-related terms, but others sound just plain awesome.  For instance...

1.  Garth Nix

2.  Pittacus Lore

3.  Lemony Snicket

4.  James Dashner

5.  Jasper Fforde (Besides having a sweet name, he is a hilarous genius.  You want to read his Thursday Next series NOW.  Start here if you like B&N.  Or here if you like Amazon.)


Also, in my opinion... 

Dante Alighieri (He actually puns off his own name in the Divine Comedy, which, I think, deserves some sort of award...)


Did I miss any?

Also, I know at least some of these are pseudonyms.  Would you consider using a pen name for the sake of having a snappier, snazzier name on your books?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mothers' Day!

It's Mother's Day in the US, so Happy Mother's Day to all you moms out there! 

(I am the source for this one.  Whoohoo!)
Here's to the mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers, moms-to be, mother-in-laws, and mother-figures of the world. 

Here's also to doing justice to motherhood in fiction. 

My mom means more to me than I can say.  But what do you get for someone who's too wise to want silly things?  And what do you do for someone who's always doing things for other people? 

For those of you celebrating, how are you honoring the mothers in your life?  If you have any ideas for how I can make today special for my mom, please share!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Follow Friday



Feature and Follow Friday is hosted by Alison of Alison Can Read and Parajunkee of Parajunkee's View. Our lovely, lucky features this week are Books Galore and The Fake Steph Dot Com. Don't forget to follow the features!


This Sunday in the U.S. is Mother's Day. In celebration, what are some of your favorite books with strong mother/child relationships?


The one that come to mind first is The Well of Shades by Juliet Marillier. Eile's driving motivation is the preservation of herself and her daughter. She undergoes great hardship and overcomes great obstacles to protect and return to her child.

 I love this book. Juliet Marillier's development of Foalan's, Eile's and Squirrel's relationships from wary traveling companions to a family is a joy to read. It's one of my favorites, though I have to confess I skip one of the story lines entirely when rereading and only read the parts about Foalan, Eile and Squirrel. King Bridei already won his faery queen and happy ending in another book and I find I only care about him as he relates to Foalan and Eile.

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers in the world. I get to see my Mom in Paris next week. I'm so excited!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Oh Yeah

 This is how it felt anyway.
I'm the dude in the back.
(source)

I just spent the last three days on an epic, manic packing spree and I don't think I have ever hauled as many boxes in my life before as I hauled today. I think we only had four each, but it felt like I carried gazillions of boxes. Probably because of all of the flights of stairs in my dorm. If you count lifting a box, carrying it a certain (usually vast) distance, then putting it down again as "one Haul", my rough estimate of Boxes Hauled becomes nearly accurate. Luckily my wonderful roommate was there to hold the other end of all them.

Let me also add that these were not your garden variety moving boxes. Oh, no. They were plastic tubs of gigantic proportions.

You see, apparently you can't buy moving boxes in the Midwest they way you can on the West Coast. We, of course, went to Walmart first looking to get some of your average moving box and were told they could save cereal boxes for us if that is what we wanted. That was not what we wanted so we went to an actual hardware store. When we asked the man in the hardware store if he sold moving boxes he looked at us like we'd just asked him for a couple of sheets printer paper.

"Um . . . I guess I could check in the back . . . there might be some . . . somewhere. Someone might have some. Give me a second to ask."

The man returned with two small boxes suitable for mailing skimpy Christmas presents to relatives you don't like and never see in.

We returned to Walmart and bought four, huge thirty-five gallon plastic tubs each. My roommate and I rode back to the dorm in the back of a friend's car with twelve tubs jammed into our laps.

Then the other day we had to start filling them up with the stuff we wanted to store over the Summer. Our dorm allows you to store your stuff in the basement for free so long as you don't own more than four boxes worth of stuff. This was a problem, because I wanted to store basically everything and I own decidedly more than four thirty-five gallon tubs of stuff.

My personal motto became something along the lines of: "Throw it overboard."

After three continuous days of packing and hauling and pinched fingers and mild, stifled cursing we locked our dorm room door and now I ache.

Then it began to pour and my phone battery died.

And, oh yeah, now it's officially Summer.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

We're Back

All my finals, but one, are finished. Some with more success than others. I am fairly sure one of my teachers rewrote the exam to be long and difficult and horrible, especially for my class. *Sigh*

This sudden rush of freedom from not having homework due for another three months is almost too much to deal with. I haven't had to decide what to do in almost eight months.

Maybe I'll--

Maybe I'll-- *whisper it*--read a novel.

Wouldn't that be exiting! Especially if I were to read a novel that hasn't been deemed meritous by every English professor ever.

I think it would be amazing to read a book written by an author who hasn't won a Nobel Prize or otherwise revolutionized the English language. My Xenophon* hasn't arrived yet, and my English professor hasn't sent out the Summer homework, so for a brief period I am not obligated to read anything.


Hmm . . .

I think I will read this:




It has been sitting on my shelf since Christmas and I have recently begun to look at it longingly.


________________________



*I have to get Xenophon's Anabasis to read over the Summer. In Greek.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

We're still alive!

The week of frantic essay-writing is over (HAPPYDANCE), and now it's finals week. 
We will be back after we dig ourselves out from all these books.  


Actually, this is how our lives look all the time...


We have some fun plans for this summer, including a makeover of the blog appearance and some new kinds of posts. 

In the meantime, happy blogging, happy writing, happy reading!