Reading, Writing, and Good Old-Fashioned Book Learning

School is hard. Ok, not necessarily hard, but definitely time consuming. I’ve spent the better part of two hours doing French homework today. I still have about another hour’s worth to finish before work tomorrow. But, I enjoy it. At least so far. I have 15 pages to read for my English class, and then an introductory post, also due before I leave for work tomorrow.

But, I still found time to finish ‘The Wise Man’s Fear’, and you’ll see that my “What I’m Reading” page has been updated. The ending was WAY more of a cliff hanger than I was anticipating. Rothfuss basically threw a nugget of information at us, with no real explanation, and then ended the book. Now I have to wait for the third book to release, which hasn’t even been announced yet.

I finished reading the book about an hour ago, and I’m already antsy to decide on what to read next. So, in a fit of anxiety, I finally put together a list for the No-Name Book Club. I’m starting low, and with shorter titles.

  • Stupid and Contagious by Caprice Crane
  • Stardust by Neil Gaiman
  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
  • Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café by Fannie Flagg

We have our preliminary meeting this Wednesday, where we’ll discuss the book list, meeting dates, and decide which book we should start with. I’m pretty excited, and thanks to my English class, there’s no shortage of reading material in my future.

My writing, on the other hand, hasn’t fared too well. Chapter 5 is putting up a fight, and I’m not putting up much effort. But, I figured that school starting up would be a road block, just like any other change in my routine. And as important as my fiction is, I need to be focused on school. So, I’m going to take it easy on myself and get used to this new schedule, and then I’ll start peppering writing time back in.

Which reminds me. I volunteered to be a part of a really cool project called Caladria. It’s a fictional world with a group of writers telling its tales. That’s about all I know for now, but once I have more details, I’ll be chatting it up here.

Anyway, I need to get cracking on this remaining French homework before I crash for the night.

I’ll see you around, Blogland.

BZ

Home, Sweet Home.

I missed this. I missed sitting, staring at my computer, building worlds in my head and bringing them to life on paper. I missed the smell of coffee brewing, and the screech of milk steaming. I missed the smiling faces that greet me when I walk in, laptop bag hoisted on one shoulder.

And I missed the Pacific Northwest. I missed crisp, fresh air. I missed tap water that actually tastes good. I missed friendly and genuine people, who stop four lanes of traffic to let a jaywalker cross the street. I missed craft beer made by people who have become our friends.

While we were in the land of palm trees and littered freeways, the scenery in Salem changed. Trees that only hinted at the change in seasons are now vibrant shades of orange and red. They sky is still blue, but the color isn’t as saturated as it was during the summer. It’s paling, preparing to give way to the clouds and rain that cast every thing in shades of grey.

And I love it.

Disneyland was wonderful. And exhausting. We had a wonderful time, but by Saturday we were desperate to be back. To be home. Our trip to the Happiest Place on Earth showed us just how much we love our state, city, and home.
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Being home means that finally, life can go back to normal. No wedding to plan, no looming vacations. I can finally say I have free time. Although, we have no money to spend, thanks to an awesome vacation.

So, Tuesday found me sitting at Starbucks, and working. I wasn’t sure what to blog about, and actually felt good about writing, so I skipped my typical warm up and dove straight into fiction. I didn’t go crazy, but still wrote about 920 words. I’ll be finishing the chapter today.

I’m still reading ‘The Wise Man’s Fear’. It’s kind of slow towards the end, and I’m afraid to finish it, since there’s no word on the third installment. Trevor, who is an adamant non-reader, picked up a copy of the Mazerunner, and didn’t set it down until he finished it. He even stayed up into the wee hours on a work night in order to do so. We just went to Escape Fiction last night to get the next book in the series for him. Needless to say, I am thrilled.

Speaking of series, Sanderson sent his newsletter subscribers a sample chapter from the 3rd Stormlight Archive novel. It was AWESOME! And now I’m desperate for more, which is going to take forever! Drat.

There’s been progress with the Nameless Book Club, since I’ve come back. We’ve agreed on Wednesday evenings as our meeting time, and we’ll probably only meet once a month. I’m going to finalize the booklist, and then I’ll set a date for our first meeting.

School starts next week, which is nerve wracking. I’m feeling good about French, though I’m concerned about the amount of homework there’ll be. But, that’s to be expected from a 7 week online course. What I’m really excited about is my Short Story class. The text is amazing, filled with hundreds of stories from every imaginable author. I’m curious to see how the course is formatted. Will it be purely read, analyze, report? Or will there be discussion elements? I’ll find out soon enough.

I haven’t done much editing lately. I’ve got several people asking after the second draft of ‘Vessels’, and I’m starting to feel bad. I haven’t devoted nearly enough time to it. Pending my progress on ‘Jordinn’s Story’ today, tomorrow I’ll edit a couple chapters.

I’m pretty stoked about things in general right now. Life is calming down, and giving way to new adventures and lots of writing. Always a good thing.

It’s good to be back, Blogland. Now, enjoy these photos from our trip!
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My Handsome Man

My Handsome Man

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A Selfie with the 3D glasses, as is tradition.

A Selfie with the 3D glasses, as is tradition.

The Brent Weeks Book Signing

So, yesterday was a writing bust. But, I did get a bit of work done on the Book Club, which is good. Also, I read a ton yesterday. Over 100 pages, while I munched on a burrito from Chipotle. Today, I’ve left the book behind, in the hope that I’ll get some work done if Kvothe isn’t taunting me.

Also, I have to admit that I hit a wall. I wasn’t sure what Jordinn was really going to do next, or how to get him through the scene to move on to the point of the chapter. But, last night, at work, I had an epiphany. I’m ready today. I know what happens next. And I’m pretty excited to write.

I realized, as I thought about what I would blog about today, that I never mentioned how the Brent Weeks signing went.

I very nearly talked myself out of it.

I had time to kill, so I ate Five Guys and read on their patio, the bookstore looming over my shoulder. I’d planned on buying the second book in the Lightbringer series, in show of support for both the author and the Indie bookstore that brought him to Salem. So, I walked the familiar shelves, hunting for the right copy.
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Which they didn’t have. The only copy they had was a $17 trade paperback, and since I have the first book in Mass Paperback, I can’t buy a different printing. It’s wrong.

That was the moment that I walked back out to my car, and put the key in the ignition. I didn’t know anyone who was going to the signing, and no one was going with me. I was alone in a bookstore, waiting anxiously for someone to be friendly, or acknowledge me.

Instead, I’d made small talk with a girl, and found her a very haughty cosplayer. This is the hard part about book signings. There are two types of people that go to Fantasy book signings. There are your average readers, who are quiet and keep to themselves. They wear plain clothes, t-shirts, cargo shorts, and blend in.

And then there are the weird ones. The ones who are completely immersed in the ‘nerd’ counter-culture. They’re typically chatty, to the point of obnoxiousness. They engage others of their kind, and they usually partake in pretentious conversation and debates about Fantasy authors and how much they’ve read, or who they’ve seen.

One of these types boasted that he drove to Seattle to see Patrick Rothfuss. He drove up, attended the signing, and then drove back to Salem. That’s an eight hour round trip.

Now, Rothfuss is awesome. No doubt. But, to me, it’s a little unreasonable to go to all that trouble, when he’ll probably make a stop in Portland anyway.

Anyway, before any of this happened, I was sitting in my car, planning to go home and save myself the misery of batting off these ‘nerds’ with a stick. But, as I texted Trevor to see what his plans were, he already had his evening booked with a friend. And he encouraged me to stay, promising that I would have a good time.

So, I stayed. And you know what? I had a really great time.

Yes, I met the cosplay girl, and, while friendly, she was a bit uppity. We chatted briefly, but I was relieved when we sat a row apart. I nodded a ‘hello’ to a familiar face from Escape Fiction. I think she’s one of the owners, but she’s usually behind the counter, and always chatty about what book I’ve bought. But, she also is a touch weird, and looks like she’s probably done a little too much meth.

Not an uncommon look in Salem.

There were a few friendly faces. The quiet, ‘normal’ ones. We acknowledge each other, but we don’t engage. I’m good with that. And so I sat, with my lap-full of Brent’s books, waiting for the show to get on the proverbial road.
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I didn’t know what to expect. I’d only read half of Week’s first book, ‘The Way of Shadows’. I’d liked it, but I was reading it when we moved to Oregon, and life was a bit hectic then. I never finished it, but I purchased the rest of the Night Angel Trilogy, and the first book of the Lightbringer series, ‘The Black Prism’.

What I didn’t expect was Brent’s great sense of humor. He’s a large guy, in a teddy bear kind of way, and he reminds me a lot of my first Starbucks manager. And that’s a really good thing. Now, this is an author who creates concrete magic systems in completely new worlds, like Sanderson, but his writing style is very different. Weeks comes off as almost irreverent. His writing is quick paced, the learning curve for his magic is extreme, and his characters are bold and mouthy.

I like it.

And now that I’ve met him, I get it.

So, he introduces himself, the book he’s promoting, and overall is very warm, genuine, and happy to be there. He mentions that, most authors do a reading, usually from the book they’re promoting. But, he wasn’t going to do that. He’d come up with something better.

He took the characters from the Night Angel Trilogy, created a basic plot, and wrote his own Choose Your Own Adventure story. And by show of hands, the thirty or so of us present, decided our fate.

It was brilliant! It was engaging. He did voices for the characters, and mocked us when our decisions had less than ideal consequences, which was often. He even made a great joke at Salem’s expense, and we all booed him, good-naturedly, of course.

By the end of his ‘reading’ I was all smiles. If the event had ended there, if he’d packed up and said, “Smell ya later Salem!’, I would still be glad I went. But, there was a raffle for t-shirts, and then a Q&A. And then he sat down to get to signing.
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A friend of his manned photo duty, while his wife, who is lovely, took the books, and set them on the table for him. As seems to be the book signing custom, I sat, we said hello, and I introduced myself. He asked if I had any questions, and I said ‘no’.

In my defense, I hadn’t read enough of his work to have a good question, so I opted for no question at all. The ‘photographer’ was baffled at this. He looked at me and said, “I’ve got like five, if you want to ask him one. He won’t answer them for me!”

We laughed, and I said, “Well he won’t answer them now! He knows they’re from you.” Brent laughed. “Seriously, dude,” I continued. “Talk about missed opportunity. I was standing right over there!” I pointed to the line. Brent laughed more, and I smiled big.

And the above photo is the result. So, imagine my smile when I tweeted these photos, and he favorited them.

So, yes, I had a great time. And yes, I want to read more of his books. Author events attract a weird mix of people, but generally, we’re all well-intentioned. We just want our two minutes of exposure. Our small moment with someone we admire.

Now, if only I can be half as witty the next time Brandon Sanderson comes through…

All right, I’m off to get some work done. Wish me luck!

BZ

Progress for the Nameless Book Club

Starting a book club is a lot harder than I thought it’d be.

Of the five of us that have agreed to participate, only two have given me a list. And they’re not all that comforting. They couldn’t be farther from my own.

Emily’s List:

  • The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams
  • The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  • Anything written by Kurt Vonnegut
  • The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Longbourn by Jo Baker
  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
  • 1984 by George Orwell
  • Pride & Prejudice & Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith
  • The Colour Purple by Alice Walker
  • Paradise of the Blind by Duong Thu Huong
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Now, Emily was the first to get back to me, and her list is large and varied. But, it’s still worlds away from what I’d initially had in mind. It’s a bit more… Literary than I’d imagined. Also, I’ve read a lot of them already. The Silmarillion, The Catcher in the Rye, The Colour Purple. But, it’s a starting point, something to help me pick books she would like, even if they aren’t on her list.

Lily’s List:

  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

That’s it. That’s all she gave me. And she’s read it before! Although a long time ago. When I asked her for any other books, anything else she might want to read, she was blank. She’s open to reading other stuff, but that’s the only book she really wants to add to the list.

Now, I’ve never read it, but pretty much every other female our age has. I don’t want to make people reread things, but I also don’t want to exclude Lily’s only contribution to the Book List. Oy vey…

Bfree‘s list is non-existent so far, but I’m holding out hope. She’s just started a new job, and her sister just had a baby, so she’s a busy lady. But, she still wants to be a part of the book club, and I am waiting to see what she brings to the group. Because these lists so far aren’t very hopeful.

Then there’s Kayla. She’s a self-professed non-reader. But, she’s seen the movie! She’s always wanted to be a part of a book club, and when I mentioned it, her eyes lit up. I asked about what she has read, and suddenly she was naming multiple series, and what she likes and doesn’t like.

She’s a closet reader. She reads a lot of Paranormal Teen Romance, and YA, but she does read! And so she’s in the club, but refuses to craft a list. Now it’s on me to pick books she’ll find interesting enough to power through. So be it.

There’s John, who wants to join, but claims to be an incredibly slow reader. He likes the idea of books, but has a hard time finishing them. I told him that we’ll have to go slow. Bfree has two jobs, I’m going to school, and still writing. And still plan on reading something for my own pleasure. He seemed to warm up to the idea after that, but I don’t think he’ll actually join.

Then there’s My List:

  • Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
  • The Prestige by Christopher Priest
  • Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
  • Year Zero by Rob Reid
  • Stardust by Neil Gaiman
  • Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

I really like my list, but it is mine, so I’m bound to be biased. But, it’s a list of books that I’ve always wanted to read, but are fairly popular titles. Almost all of them have been, or will be, movies/TV shows. But, not super popular movies that might have been widely ingested by the Book Club.

And, we need a name for our Book Club. Any ideas?

Anyway, I’ve got about five hours to get some serious words into the computer. I’m not feeling terribly focused, but I’m hoping a little read through of the chapter before, and I’ll be settled and ready to finish chapter 5.

I’m going to leave you with this gem, that a friend texted first thing this morning.
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What do you think? Is it true?

BZ

The Long Week, and a Surprise!

It’s been a while Blogland. This past week has been full of work, school, and an unexpected visit to the Hospital. Don’t worry, I’m fine, and so’s Trevor. My best friend’s dad lives in Hillsboro, and had a seizure. I went to visit him, since his daughter couldn’t leave Arizona herself.

I had a lot of poetic thoughts about my visit, and wanted to write them down. It was definitely a moving experience for me, and I am beyond glad I could be there for my friend and her family. But, today isn’t the day to wax poetic about the importance of a moment. Perhaps later this week.

Destiny, a highly anticipated video game, is finally here. I’ve spent quite a bit of time playing, but will reserve official judgement until I finish the game. So far though, great gameplay, terrible story.

And so I’ve been busy. This is my first chance to sit down and write, and I’m glad for it. I miss clacking away at my aging macbook. I’m still reading through ‘The Wise Man’s Fear’. With everything going on, reading is one way I can keep connected to my writing, plus Kvothe’s story is really picking up.

I also wanted to mention that, some point in the last few weeks, my blog passed the 200 Followers mark! Now, considering that this month marks the three year anniversary of the blog, this isn’t many followers. But, that’s over 200 people that I have never met. The only contact I have with these folks is virtual.

And it’s mind blowing. I wanted to thank you all. Knowing you’re here, reading my ramblings and following my version of the journey to publishing, helps me remember that I can do this. That I should.

I woke today, my mind muddled with the heavy layer of sleep twisted through it, to a WordPress notification on my phone. I thought it odd, given my silence over the last week, but was excited.

Now, I don’t really know much about this whole blogging community thing. I blog to get thoughts out of my mind to make space for fiction. But, there are these Awards, apparently, which people get nominated for. I have no idea how one earns a nomination, nor if a winner is ever chosen, but I was nominated nonetheless.

Thanks to A.D. Martin, who tagged me at the bottom of his list, I have been nominated for the One Lovely Blog Award.

And thanks for the use of your logo mash-up!

And thanks for the use of your logo mash-up!

So, what does this mean?

I have no idea. Except that I must adhere to, and post the rules of the chain-letter nomination.

The Rules:

  • Thank and link to the person who nominated you
  • List the Rules, and display the award image
  • Include 7 facts about yourself
  • Nominate an additional 15 blogs, and notify them by leaving a comment on one of their posts
  • Follow the blogger who nominated you

So, I have thanked and linked my nominator, and I just happen to already follow his Lovely Blog, and now his twitter feed. I have listed the rules. Now come the facts, followed by my 15 nominees.

Fact: I have an insurmountable love of purple. If not for Trevor’s good sense, our entire house would be coated in a fluff-pile of purple pillows.

Fact: I am tattooed.
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Fact: I am a coffee drinker. It comes with the Starbucks territory.

Fact: I love music. I listen to all kinds, but my top listens right now are: anything Chris Cornell was involved with, AFI/Blaqk Audio, Ed Sheeran, and Snow Patrol.

Fact: I drive a 2003 Toyota Corolla. I’ve owned it since 2008, it has almost 120,000 miles on it, and is unstoppable.

Fact: I believe that DIsneyland truly is the Happiest Place on Earth. And I’ll be really damn happy come September 29th!
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Fact: Bookstores have an effect on me. I imagine it’s the same effect an alcoholic feels when they walk into a bar. The hairs on my arms and back of my neck lift, my breathing deepens, and I am filled with contentment. A sense that all is right with the world. I have been this way since I stepped into my Elementary school library for the first time. I don’t expect the wonder, respect, and deep emotion I feel when I step into a building full of books will ever leave me.

Now for my 15 nominations.

Ileandra Young, writer of Fantasy and Erotica, and a longtime reader of this blog. She’s involved with some pretty awesome writer-ly stuff. You should be reading her!

Terzah Cain, author, poet, and wordsmith, who constantly offers up thoughtful posts about writing.

Jodie Llewellyn, writer, reader. She constantly opens my eyes to new books, in genres I might ignore otherwise.

Lynette Noni, whose blog is a reminder that hard work and dedication can, and will, pay off.

D.M.W. Lewis, writer of YA Sci-Fi/Fantasy, and over all an extremely entertaining read.

John Guillen, who consistently writes entertaining, opinionated posts about all things books.

Andrew Knighton, writer of Alternate History Sci-Fi/Fantasy. He’s also a Whovian, and we’ve got to stick together! Plus, he draws my attention to genres I would normally leave on the shelf.

Trent P. McDonald, reader, commenter, and writer of Trent’s World. His blog features all kinds of things, including his writing, reading, artwork, and vacationing habits.

Artemis Lousie, who writes interesting pieces reflecting on her experiences in the counter culture. I identify with her posts, and enjoy reading them. Plus, she’s introduced me to new music, which makes us instant BFFs.

Brittany Foster, the genius over at Quoth the Wordsmith. And, no, I didn’t select her just because we spell our names the same. It did help, however.

Rachael Stanford, a hilarious blogger, whose journey through writing and life is always a great read.

Jennifer Bresnick, author and blogger, whose posts are generally full of good writing advice and commentary.

Benjamin H. Hebert, a sometimes writer I met through Write About Dragons. I’m always glad to see one of his posts in my feed.

Erynn Im-Sato, book blogger, with a refreshing and upbeat look at reading, working in the publishing industry, and life.

Thomas M. Watt, writer and blogger, his posts are in-depth looks at elements of writing. Always an interesting read.

Fifteen is a lot of people. I hope this chain letter award thing is considered a good thing, and not some irritating waste of time. I enjoyed it, and it allowed me to revisit blogs I may have skipped over recently. If one of my Fifteen happens to read this before I comment on their blog, I’m sorry. The comment is coming, I promise!

Now, my writing was limited last week, though I made good progress on my reading. This week I want to finish chapter 5, and edit two chapters from ‘Vessels’. That’s the goal. Today was a blog catch up day, and with a fairly early work start time, I didn’t plan on writing much. But, tomorrow and Wednesday are big writing days.

We leave for Disneyland on the 29th. By then I want to finish chapter 6, and edit through to chapter 15 of ‘Vessels’. That last bit’s a pretty lofty goal, but hey, shoot for the moon and all that, right?

Anywho, I’m off to work, and probably lunch. I’ll see you soon, Blogland!

BZ

Freezing in September

I’ve made a crucial mistake.

I didn’t bring a sweater with me into my Starbucks. Apparently the AC is cranked, and I’m about to die of hypothermia. I’ve sat here most of the day, working on school stuff. Orientation has officially begun, and I’m thrilled.

That’s not sarcasm.

My online orientation course is designed specifically for Sbux peeps, and I’m floored by all the awesome people taking advantage of this program.

So, I’ve been reading introductory posts from classmates, and responding in kind. I took one short quiz and learned the ins an outs of Blackboard. And now it’s time for lunch. Preferably something warm. Then I’m going to swing by Book Bin East and see if there’s a crowd for Brent Weeks yet. I honestly have no idea what to expect.

Then… Well, I don’t know how long the event will take, but after I’m going to the midnight release of Destiny, and I cannot wait! I’ve been anticipating this game for over a year, and so far it has not failed to impress those who had the chance to play it.

Now, the most important thing. Lunch. This is a big decision…

 

BZ

Green Light: Book Club

I really shouldn’t be back again already, but I find myself with a smidgen of time to myself, and have the inkling to write. Trevor’s still not home, though he finally texted to tell me he was leaving Eugene. Over 12 hours later. Suffice it to say, he’s not bringing any squirrels, dead or alive, home tonight.

But, that’s an adventure for another time.

Tonight I just want to chatter. I worked with the two girls who were talking about a book club, and we’re actually going through with it. I’ll be the moderator of sorts, and so the girls are building lists of what they’d like to read. I’ll compare the lists and build one for the club, as well as a timeline.

I’m going to look up questions to go with some of the books. That’s the whole point of a book club, right? To discuss? Well, there needs to be a prompt then. I’m hoping a couple others will join us, but so far it’s just the four of us. I’m curious to see the titles they come up with. 

Here’s my tentative list. Keep in mind that I’m trying to keep it from delving too deep into the Fantasy genre, at least until I see their lists.

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
The Prestige by Christopher Priest
Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
Year Zero by Robert Reid
Stardust by Neil Gaiman
Outlander by Diana Galbadon
The Giver by Lois Lowry

Anyway, I have to get up and work in the morning. I will talk at you on Monday!

 

BZ