Sunday, 31 January 2010

Shakespeare's Sonnet Sunday: Sonnet 4

1) Unthrifty loveliness, why dost thou spend
Upon thy self thy beauty's legacy?
3) Nature's bequest gives nothing, but doth lend,
And being frank she lends to those are free:
5) Then, beauteous niggard, why dost thou abuse
The bounteous largess given thee to give?
7) Profitless usurer, why dost thou use
So great a sum of sums, yet canst not live?
9) For having traffic with thy self alone,
Thou of thy self thy sweet self dost deceive:
11)Then how when nature calls thee to be gone,
What acceptable audit canst thou leave?
13) Thy unused beauty must be tombed with thee,
Which, used, lives th' executor to be.

Line one and two:  You wasteful person that spends his wealth or time on yourself rather than on your children. 
Line three: The qualities given you are not yours, you need to repay.
Line four: Nature gives generously to those who are open-hearted, free spirited.
Line five: You beautiful bastard, why are you so wasteful.
Line six: The qualities given you.
Line seven and eight:  You unsuccessful silly-man, why do you use so much now and not be able to carry one in the future.
Line nine and ten: Spending on yourself alone, you rob both your offspring and deceive yourself.
Line eleven and twelve: When you die, what acceptable legacy will you be leaving behind?
Line thirteen: Your beauty will die with you because you never procreated.
Line fourteen: But if you pass on your beauty, it will live in the future as your children.

Amongst these legal and financial metaphors, there is possibly another, slyer, system of imagery. Since the poem’s subject is the beloved refusal to bring his undoubted sexual attractions into the service of reproduction, the contrast between “use” and “abuse” is open to another, cruder, interpretation. Certainly the cluster of terms like “spend/ Upon thyself”, “traffic with thyself” and “abuse” could be read as innuendo of a specifically sexual nature.

Picture: Who they suspect the first four sonnets are about - Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton

Read more at Suite101: Shakespeare's Sonnet No.4

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Elevate Awareness to Elevate Description Skills

T.ake Notes
E.xplore Possibilities

The picture is by: Escher (one of my favorites)

If you take notice of your surroundings, you will become a better writer. This sounds obvious. SO how do we go about doing this?

Use the 7 principles listed above:

  1. E.yeball - Open your eyes, we may see a setting hundreds of times but now, try and find three things in those settings you've not noticed before. Touch. Taste. Listen. Tone your awareness muscles by exercising them.
  2. L.isten - Be a better listener. You may be sitting in a quiet room but is it really? Listen for even the smallest noise. Is your computer fan running? Tap dripping? Dog breathing? Clock ticking? If you're in a loud room, try to distinguish sounds. Loud music - what instruments are playing? Tune in to specific voices and conversations.
  3. E.mbellish - Turn your mundane surroundings into prize-winning novels. Don't accept what happens around us as random and unmotivated. For instance, if you encounter a noise or occurrence that is not easily explained, don't dismiss it, try to find an explanation or create one. Noise in the attic? Perhaps a homeless person in the neighborhood has made the attic his home.
  4. V.isualize - Shut your eyes to see better. How cold is the air? How hard is the ground? What places on your body aches or itches? Try to locate them.
  5. A.bsorb - Look for shapes and patterns in everything. What do the clouds look like? Patterns in he stars, do you see them? Patterns in houses and pages and fields. Deviate from your routine for five minutes. Walk to the store instead of drive. Read a book in the rain. Eat breakfast for dinner.
  6. T.ake Notes - Write these ideas down.
  7. E.xplore Possibilities - Make the above actions a habit. Try it for three weeks. 
1) When watching television, look everywhere on the screen except where the director wants you to look. What do you notice? Do you notice furniture in the backgrounds? What books do they read? What time is it on their clock? How do commercials get you to focus on the products?
2) Keep an awareness journal for a week. Write your observations down.
3) Practice looking. How many tulips did you count this month? Roses? Red colored cars?
4) Make it your goal to be creative all day long.

Taken from the book: Fiction Writer's Brainstormer
Source: Brainstormer

Friday, 29 January 2010

Bildungsroman - Become Enlightened

A Room with a View and Howards End (Signet Classics)Of Human Bondage (Signet Classics) A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Case Studies in Contemporary Criticism)The Magic Mountain
In light of JD Salinger's death, I thought I would touch on the story he wrote - The Catcher In The Rye. It's a Bildungsroman. I had to look that here's what I found out.

A bildungsroman is a coming-of-age kind of novel. It arose during the German Enlightenment. In it, the author presents the psychological, moral and social shaping of the personality of a character, usually the protagonist. The term Bildungsroman was coined by Johann Carl Simon Morgenstern.

The bildungsroman generally takes the following course:
  • The protagonist grows from child to adult.
  • The protagonist has a reason to embark upon his or her journey. A loss or some discontent must, at an early stage, jar him or her away from the home or family setting.
  • The process of maturation is long, arduous and gradual, involving repeated clashes between the hero's (protagonist's) needs and desires and the views and judgments enforced by an unbending social order. This conflict bears some similarity to Sigmund Freud's concept of the pleasure principle versus the reality principle.
Within the broader genre, an entwicklungsroman is a story of general growth rather than self-culture; an erziehungsroman focuses on training and formal education; and a künstlerroman is about the development of an artist and shows a growth of the self.

Many genres other than the bildungsroman can include elements of it as prominent parts of their story lines. For example, a military story might show a raw recruit receiving a baptism by fire and becoming a battle-hardened soldier, while a high-fantasy quest story may show a transformation from an adolescent protagonist into an adult who is aware of his or her lineage or powers. Neither of those genres or stories, however, corresponds exactly to the bildungsroman.

This is an incomplete chronological list of Bildungsroman works that are widely acknowledged to be representative of the genre.
 Source: Wikipedia

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Magazine and Awards

Besides the wonderful poems and short stories in the February issue of Words Berth Literary Magazine, the editors have decided to add a monthly funny editorial column and a YA poetry section.

If anyone knows a YA that would like to showcase some work, click on the link in the left hand column and go to submissions.

February Issue comes out: Duh! February 1st.

Now, I also won a couple of awards...

First, the Super Scribbler Award, I received this award from this site: TCBOTBThank you, Emma.

Now, I think I have to give this award to five others...
I picked sites that were new, needed more recognition, and didn't have this award already.
1) Scribbled scraps - her blog is so cute.
2) Distracted Musician
3) Mental Marathon - A woman in the process of editing her book
4) Michele Cozzen's Blog
5) Renee's Reads

Also, I received the Honest Scrap Award...I posted my 7 honest items on the right hand column. I think you're suppose to have 10 but, I could only come up with 7. So...

Who gave me this wonderful award? The Artisan of the Human Spirit. Thank you!

Seven blogs to pass it on to:
1) The Writing Nag
2) Just One More Paragraph
3) From Aardvarks to Zinc
4) from the desk of a writer
5) Helen loves Books
6) Elegantly Bound Books
7) Susan's Site

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Think outside your creative box.

Are you stuck? Are you sitting 2/3s through your story, and don't know where to go? Maybe it's because you're bored or maybe you've dug yourself into a hole you can't climb out of. Maybe your creative merry-go-round has stopped spinning and you don't have the energy to run around and around to get your story started again. What can you do to get your creativity back?

I read in a book recently ways to be more creative in your stories. Brainstormer activities. Let's say you finished a chapter or scene and you've sat back and thought, 'it's crap' or you've thought, 'What can I do now?'.

What can you do?

Try this brainstomer activity. Here's how it works:

1) Read the story below - it's sort of an impossible situation you've got your character do you get them out? This is the point where your creative juices have run dry.
2) Fill in the blanks using the criteria beside it.

Story: Bad men have sabotaged your character's plane over an ocean. There's a bomb somewhere. If the plane crashes into the ocean, the frigid waters will kill her in four hours. What can you write next?

Fill in the blanks:
Automatic _________(this is probably what made you get stuck in the first place, you chose the automatic scenario...)
Obvious __________
Common Place __________
Interesting _____________
Unusual ____________
Odd ___________
Opposite _______________
Inventive __________
Creative ______________
Magical __________
Amusing ________________
Outrageous __________
Preposterous ________________

Here are my answers:

Automatic  - A writer should leave this one blank because automatic = boring.
Obvious  - She finds a raft on board and when the plane lands, saves herself.
Common Place  - She crashes into the ocean and a fishing boat saves her.
Interesting - She lands the plane, makes a raft out of luggage.
Unusual  - She creates her own bomb, and just before the plane explodes, she parachutes out.
Odd - Just in the nick of time, she 'flashes' and learns how to disarm a bomb and fly a plane. Oh wait, I've seen this somewhere...
Opposite - She dreaming, there's not really a plane or a bomb.
Inventive - She puts on all the clothing she can find, jumps in the ocean and stays warm long enough to get rescued.
Creative - She parachutes from the plane as it crashes into the ocean and somehow lands on an island where a soccer ball somehow just floats ashore. She and her new face-ball-friend survive on shellfish and coconuts and pretend they're on Survivor.
Magical - She jumps out of the plane. What!? She can fly!
Amusing - She jumps from the plane and lands on top of a hot air balloon.
Outrageous - She decides to commit suicide and crashes the plane. The end.
Preposterous - Just as the plane is about to land in the ocean, she get's beamed up to a space ship with a little green guy who tells her she has a better life in an alternate reality.

The key is, get your creative juices flowing and think outside the box.

Source: Brainstormer
Picture source: here

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

How important is writing style?

What is style? For us writers, it's language and for many of us, the English language. We can not tolerate writers who don't know how to use language.

A professor of language, who knew many foreign languages, was once asked, 'How many languages do you know?'
His answer: 'Half of English.'
The English language has over 500,000 words and the average person will know...maybe, 10,000. What is that? 2%? That's not much and those words have to be put together properly with something known as 'grammar'.

Grammar-shamammar! What difference does it make as long as I can get my ideas across? Okay... but how can you get your ideas across if you can't express them clearly.

In the Elements of Style, White writes: "Every writer, by the way he uses the language, reveals something of his spirit, his habits, his capacities, his bias. This is inevitable as well as enjoyable..."

So then, what should style be? Style is a function of plot, characters and theme. Style should be a balance.

Writers should:
1) know grammar rules
2) break grammar rules (you can't break rules if you don't know them...)
3) know words...I mean, really KNOW words
4) and then, love words... really LOVE words

Every writer should be a student of words. Keep adding words to your vocabulary. But above all, really know the words already in your vocabulary. Don't use DESENSITIZED words such as love or moon or rose. Words we hear over and over until they don't bring emotions to mind anymore.

1) The boy carefully squeezed himself through the fence. (He's a sausage)
2) The boy wriggled through the fence. (He's a worm)
3) The boy carefully pushed himself through the fence. (Boring!)
4) The boy insinuated himself between the bars of the fence. (Interesting, a different take on a word...which means gently, slowly or imperceptibly, to creep.)

So love words, live words, use words to their fullest meaning!

Source: Theme and Strategy 
Photo: here

Monday, 25 January 2010

Write for YOUR audience. Know who it is.

(Picture: From a party I was at yesterday night, the setting was gorgeous... thought I would share.)

(Also, I won the Honest Scrap Award, my 7 things are listed on my right sidebar. I will give the award to 7 others that haven't received one yet.)

Yesterday, I wrote a chapter about a woman who suffered for years with spousal rape and fed up, took a vacation to Mexico and killed her husband.

An odd thing occurred: six people reviewed the work, all three of the men hated it, all three of the women loved it. Even though the woman committed the horrible act of murder, they could relate to the character.

Now, I don't in any way condone killing. I don't agree with what my character has done, I think she, in her mind, felt she was justified, but, I thought it interesting that I had such different comments from women and men. So it made me think, writers know they can't please all readers. No matter how many times you edit your work to what you view is perfection, someone will not like it.

However, you should know who you're writing to, and write to them. When you figure out your demographic find out what they like. How? Ask readers of that genre to give feedback. Maybe your mom or dad isn't your demographic. I know my mom wouldn't like the chapter I wrote, in fact, if she read it, she might suggest I enter a mental institution. So... make sure you get feedback from those who would spend the money buying the book.

Just my thoughts.

Oh, and if you want to read the chapter, it's below. (Remember, it hasn't been edited. Warning: May contain disturbing content.)

I sat across the table from my husband as he suffocated. I’d never watched anyone die before; I’ve never seen him so completely helpless and scared. It felt oddly enthralling.

It’s difficult to recall in what order events happened because they mix up in your mind. He pushed his plate to the floor as he tried to stand, and a chunk of seasoned potato rolled under the bed. At the time, I debated whether to pick the piece up so it wouldn’t rot there but, in the end, I was glad I held back. How would I explain my actions to the police? Policia. In Mexico, they’re called Policia.

Your husband was dying and you searched under the bed for food?


At some time before he dropped to the floor, music registered in my mind – the twang from the Mariachi guitars. A band in black and white embroidered outfits walked along the beach, playing songs for the couples willing to throw a few Pesos their way, I could hear them singing words I could not understand.

I knelt beside him on the floor and he grabbed my hand. His lips moved but no words escaped. It didn’t matter; I knew what he asked for. I looked towards the bed, he pointed at the neatly piled suitcases. The key to his salvation sat below two shirts – in a tidy shaving kit.

I debated.

The curtains that covered the patio drifted into the room. The heat and the smell of salty ocean air blew across my face. The shadow of palm trees outlined on the sheer drapes. A paradisaic place if not for the stench of approaching death.

The helpless man begged me for his life. I looked down into his soft brown eyes, his pleading eyes. The happy moments flooded back to my mind... if only briefly. So long ago. Over time, hatred crowded out the kind. Where did my husband go, the one I married?

I stood from my chair and walked to the suitcases. I reached in the kit and pulled out the syringe of epinephrine. It wasn’t weakness; it was planning. I had to feign effort, I had to try to save his abusive ass. I counted to five and turned around. He lay on the floor now, his fingernails scratching at the tile floor.

With the needle in hand, I knelt beside him. His movements had lessened. I plunged the needle into his thigh, counted to three, and shot its contents into him.


After staring at his hollow eyes for a while, I walked to the phone, dialled the front desk and said one word, ‘Ambulencia.’Then I went and opened my hotel room door. The breeze entered full force and I kicked down the door stop.

As I knelt by him again, I thought I should feel something. Perhaps, guilt or sadness or horror or fear. I felt nothing. Not even relief or elation. Nothing. I picked up his hand and uncurled the fingers on his a tanned hands. I outlined the lines of his palm and whispered, 'I loved you once.'

I was surprised how quick the police and ambulance arrived. Perhaps, I wasn’t. I left the syringe in his leg, I left my vomit on the bathroom floor, I left my mind and heart in that hotel room.

Allergic to shrimp. Accidente, they declared, and turned my husband to ash.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Shakespeare's Sonnet Sunday: Sonnet 3

Look in thy glass and tell the face thou viewest
Now is the time that face should form another;
Whose fresh repair if now thou not renewest,
Thou dost beguile the world, unbless some mother.
For where is she so fair whose unear'd womb
Disdains the tillage of thy husbandry?
Or who is he so fond will be the tomb
Of his self-love, to stop posterity?
Thou art thy mother's glass and she in thee
Calls back the lovely April of her prime;
So thou through windows of thine age shalt see,
Despite of wrinkles this thy golden time.
But if thou live, remember'd not to be,
Die single and thine image dies with thee.

What do I get from this sonnet? Its a continuation of Sonnet1 and 2.

  1.  Look in the mirror, whose face do you see?
  2.  You should make offspring that look like you.
  3.  If you don't work at making yourself look beautiful,
  4.  You cheat the world and some mother that could give birth.
  5.  Where is this woman that won't have sex with you,
  6.  who hates the thought of being a wife?
  7.  Who is foolish to love death
  8.  or his selfishness to forget carrying on his lineage?
  9.  You look just like your mother...
  10.  when she was young.
  11.  You can see now with your eyes,
  12.  what she was like back then even though she has wrinkles - a beauty.
  13.  But if you live, determined not to be remembered,
  14. then you will die childless, and your beauty will die with you. 
Maybe not a literal translation. All I can say about it is: Good grief, man, have a child already, how hard can it be?

Shakespeare, William. Sonnet 3. Ed. Amanda Mabillard. Shakespeare Online. 20 Aug. 2000. (date when you accessed the information) < >.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Quotation Examinations - Are you like your main character?

Every author in some way portrays himself in his works, even if it be against his will.  ~Goethe


This quotation made me think, how am I like my character?

  1. I like neatness
  2. I love cracking codes (BTW, if you have a cool code you think I can crack, send me one.  You could always try and crack mine: *233231>23233232*3221*31<*33*31313223*11243131>)
  3. I'm smart (not necessarily humble though) 
  4. I drink a lot of coffee
  5. I don't drink a lot of alcohol (actually none, but we won't go into reasons why)
  6. I like my privacy... that being said, I've said too much already. Good-bye.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Most Memorable Characters: Marnie Elmer

What makes a memorable character? For me, it's someone so outlandishly out-there and yet, we can still relate.

One of those characters for me is Marnie Elmer from Winston Graham's book Marnie.

In his book, he describes a girl with so many issues:
1) Astraphobia - fear of thunderstorms
2) Erythrophobia- a fear of the color red
3) She's a girl desperate for her mother's approval
4) She's a kleptomaniac
5) And, she has intimacy issues

Why? Because something in her past is preventing her from dealing with life in a productive way. The book, like the Hitchcock film, looks at her life and why she acts the way she does.

We found out what the reason was behind it but her uniqueness makes her loved.

Who is a memorable character for you?

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Theme and Strategy: Part 5 - Pattern in Thought

We should always know why were telling the story were writing.

Maybe it's because we want to be rich and famous or maybe it's because we want to write literature to keep people talking for years to come. Knowing this will effect what you write and how you write it. Knowing this will help you find your theme.

The word theme may scare some but it really does help us know what path is right for our story and what is not. The idea of theme comes from what is called priority of techniques.

The major elements of storytelling is:
  • plot
  • character
  • style
  • idea
  • mood
Any one of these elements can dominate the work and that would be the novel's theme.

1) Plot as theme: this book is for action junkies and escapists. With plot as main theme, no serious attempt is made at social commentary or human condition. These books make money because it allows the readers to escape.

2) Mode as theme: the writer tries to make an emotional effect on the reader. Terror, suspense (like Hitchcock's The Birds), love, romance or comedy. With this, make sure you clearly understand the expectations of the audience before you write.

3) Style as theme: Not many stories are written with style as theme because it's more like reading poetry. The elements take a backseat to the style. The style will have a profound effect on every other element as scene through it. Like a colored lens in which everything is shot.

4) Character as theme: Often 'The Great American Novel' or 'Literary Masterpiece' is one that has a name in the title. Like David Copperfield or Anna Karenina. People like books about other people, they find it fascinating.

5) Idea as theme: The moral of the story is the theme...(fairy tales often have ideas as theme) and themes fall into 6 main categories.

  • The moral statement - the writer is often trying to preach or get across their ideas. The problem could be that the characters and plots often fall flat.
  • Human Dignity - The fight for human dignity. Ex. One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
  • Social Comment - I recently read a book with this as a theme, it was called The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. The author, Anne Bronte, preached about the woman's condition the whole time. She was trying to make comments on life at the time. She was often called the beginning in the woman's liberation movement.
  • Human Nature - In this category, the characters often represent universal human types.
  • Human Relations - The author is concerned with understanding who we are as people and the difficulties people have when it comes to getting along with others.
Source: Theme and Strategy by Ronald Tobias

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

oDesk - Test your writing/editing skills

Recently, my husband referred me to a website where you can find on-line work from editing or ghost-writing to data entry and accounting. He kept urging me to join for one reason - the fun.

Finding a job: FUN!?

Although I plan to use the site to find small editing and writing jobs, I love the TESTS. There are hundreds of qualifications test that you can take to test your skills (computer, writing, editing, grammar). They are 40 questions or so and they are hard. Why do I suggest you take these tests? It shows where you're lacking in editing skills. When you finish a test, it shows where you excelled and where you need work. Then you can study those subjects. Ex. On one test, I had issues with INDIRECT SPEECH and did well on PREPOSITIONAL PHRASES. So, I will work on indirect speech. Also, you can re-do the exams and the better you do, the more you get paid. So, check it out.

Source: Tech Crunch

Also, I would like to send a thanks out to Tirz from A Clever Whatever blog who gave me this lovely award. I don't think there are any rules but if there are, she'll let me know.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Grammar: Double Talk Over and Over Again

Each and every writer in the whole wide world, really truly have the problem of double talking over and over in their writing. The reason is because writers first start writing as beginners and the end result is double talk.

In conversation we double talk a lot, so if we write how we speak...

What are some common usages?

first time ever
return again
completely destroyed
revert back
usual customs
rock back and forth
month of June
advance warning
true fact
rarely ever
important essentials
tuna fish
free gift
small in size
red in color
few in number
regular routine

Sometimes it's difficult to catch these problems because we use them so often it becomes normal. But, when editing, look for these redundancies.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Blog Awards!

I received two awards and I wanted to share with you who gave them to me.

First award, the Creative Writer Award is from my friend Corra and this is her site: from the desk of a writer.

It's funny she gives me this award because her site is pretty fantastic.

Second award comes from the site: Reading on the beach. She's got some really cool blogs about everything from recipes to book reviews.

Okay now, to the award, this award comes with rules! The rules are pretty simple. Answer the following questions with Single Word answers then pass this along to 5 other bloggers.

Your Cell Phone? Mexico
Your Hair? Brown
Your Mother? Japanese
Your Father? Canadian
Your Favorite Food? Curry
Your Dream Last Night? Anger
Your Favorite Drink? Coffee
Your Dream/Goal? 66 Books
What Room Are You In? Bedroom
Your Hobby? Writing
Your Fear? Claustrophobia
Where Do You Want To Be In Six Years? London
Where Were You Last Night? Home
Something That You Aren’t? Rich
Muffins? Cranberry-orange
Wish List Item? Books
Where Did You Grow Up? Canada
Last Thing You Did? Euchre
What Are You Wearing? Clothes
Your TV? Computer
Your Pets? Boxer
Friends? Few
Your Life? Content
Your Mood? Content
Missing Someone? No
Vehicle? Chrysler
Something You Aren’t Wearing? Jade
Your Favorite Store?
Your Favorite Color? Yellow
When Was The Last Time You Laughed? Now
Last Time You Cried? Yesterday
Your Best Friend? *****
One Place You Go To Over And Over Again? Computer
Facebook? Yes
Favorite Place To Eat? Pho

I’m going to pass this on to the following blogs:
1) Back to you, Corra.
2) Writer on the go. That's you, Jayda.
3)Mystery Writing Is Murder One of my favorite blogs... buy her book!
4) A clever whatever. She's done so much work on the Words Berth Literary Magazine and her post are honest and funny and touching.
5) Bisi, I love the Ghana blogs. I learn so much!

I can think of  more I want to give it to, but perhaps, these kind folks will pass it on to you.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Shakespeare's Sonnet Sunday: Sonnet 2

When forty winters shall besiege thy brow,
And dig deep trenches in thy beauty's field,
Thy youth's proud livery so gazed on now,
Will be a totter'd weed of small worth held:
Then being asked, where all thy beauty lies,
Where all the treasure of thy lusty days;
To say, within thine own deep sunken eyes,
Were an all-eating shame, and thriftless praise.
How much more praise deserv'd thy beauty's use,
If thou couldst answer 'This fair child of mine
Shall sum my count, and make my old excuse,'
Proving his beauty by succession thine!
This were to be new made when thou art old,
And see thy blood warm when thou feel'st it cold.

What does the poem mean? Interestingly, it took until I read sonnet two to discover the poem rhymed. Why, oh why, am I discussing poetry, a subject I know so little about? I guess it's to get better at it.

The second sonnet is a continuation of the first, Shakespeare is talking a man that seems more interested in his looks than procreating. (I think something's wrong with him personally.) I read somewhere that the poet used his sonnets to make a point with his friends.

For example, this poem is meant for a specific man. Much debate has surrounded the true identity of Shakespeare young man, but many believe he was the Earl of Southampton(picture right), the poet's close friend and patron.

In my opinion, I don't see how he's good-looking at all but I guess the man thought he was 'all-that'. The Earl of Southampton did eventually pass on his good looks to his children and married... and caused a stir... and ended up in prison, but perhaps it was Shakespeare that gave him the push in that direction.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

YA Review: Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George

Julie of the Wolves (rack)Book Description: To her small Eskimo village, she is known as Miyax; to her friend in San Francisco, she is Julie. When her life in the village becomes dangerous, Miyax runs away, only to find herself lost in the Alaskan wilderness.
Without food and time running out, Miyax tries to survive by copying the ways of a pack of wolves. Accepted by their leader and befriended by a feisty pup named Kapu, she soon grows to love her new wolf family. Life in the wilderness is a struggle, but when she finds her way back to civilization, Miyax is torn between her old a new lives. Is she Miyax of the Eskimos -- or Julie of the wolves?

My first thoughts: When my friend's daughter handed me this book and said, 'You should read this, you'll love it,' I  politely smiled, took the book and thought I would pretend to read it. However, I soon realized it was a short book, with pictures, and finished it before I really started. George's descriptions are amazing and because I've experienced cold (in Canada) and because I've been to both Alaska and the NWT (North West Territories) where I've seen the Northern Lights and where windows were covered in tin foil so that we could sleep in the 24 hour sun, I related to the story.

What did I like about it?
1) Her understanding of animal behavior.
2) Her understanding of the Arctic.
3) And her understandng of human nature.

I was happy at the end, it had a realistic ending rather than a happy one.

My Rating: (5 out of 5)

Friday, 15 January 2010

I don't want to write it!

I have writer's block but I don't. I know what I'm going to write but my mind is preventing me from doing it.

Today, I have to write a scene where someone in my book dies, someone important to me and one of my main characters. I've known for sometime that I'd have to write the scene but I've kept putting it off, trying to find a way around writing the scene, but sadly, my characters are not leaving me many options here. (Do you hear me, Sophia? NO options!)

Anyway, I hate writing scenes like this, I know I'm probably going to cry, going to yell, going to feel the emotions my characters are feeling and I hate that.

Does anyone else go through this?

Source: psychology today

Thursday, 14 January 2010

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (Oxford World's Classics)

What is the book about:

The book is in three parts. The first and third are from the POV of Gilbert Markham, a yeoman farmer writing a letter to his friend. He, and the town, notice a quiet widow named Helen and her son, Arthur move into Wildfell Hall. Everyone is intrigued by her and curious about her past. Gossip soon spreads that she is having an affair with her landlord, Mr. Lawence. This makes Gilbert jealous because he is in love with her.

 The second part is from the POV of Helen, and the life she led before moving to Wildfell Hall. A married life filled with turmoil and adultery.

It's considered to be one of the world's first feminist novels and it was so controversial at the time of publication it was banned in many areas of Europe.

It then lays bare all of the shameful undercurrents of marriage in the Victorian age, particularly for a woman who was unwise or just unlucky enough to seriously misjudge the man she married. If you think it's a tough mistake to make now, only imagine its consequences in an age where divorce was rarely an option and you were almost always stuck with what you got, no matter how repugnant, immoral or tyrannical. Everything is here: adultery, alcoholism, abuse, alienation and humiliation.

Helen's character, a religiously devout woman but also a fighter who refused to accept the worst of the abuses or allow her son to be corrupted, was lambasted as an evil influence on women and girls.
But by such means,' said I, 'you will never render him virtuous. - What is it that constitutes virtue, Mrs. Graham?  Is it the circumstance of being able and willing to resist temptation; or that of having no temptations to resist? - Is he a strong man that overcomes great obstacles and performs surprising achievements, though by dint of great muscular exertion, and at the risk of some subsequent fatigue, or he that sits in his chair all day, with nothing to do more laborious than stirring the fire, and carrying his food to his mouth?  If you would have your son to walk honourably through the world, you must not attempt to clear the stones from his path, but teach him to walk firmly over them - not insist upon leading him by the hand, but let him learn to go alone.

My greatest source of uneasiness, in this time of trial, was my son, whom his father and his father's friends delighted to encourage in all the embryo vices a little child can show, and to instruct in all the evil habits he could acquire - in a word, to 'make a man of him' was one of their staple amusements; and I need say no more to justify my alarm on his account, and my determination to deliver him at any hazard from the hands of such instructors.  I first attempted to keep him always with me, or in the nursery, and gave Rachel particular injunctions never to let him come down to dessert as long as these 'gentlemen' stayed; but it was no use:  these orders were immediately countermanded and overruled by his father; he was not going to have the little fellow moped to death between an old nurse and a cursed fool of a mother. So the little fellow came down every evening in spite of his cross mamma, and learned to tipple wine like papa, to swear like Mr. Hattersley, and to have his own way like a man, and sent mamma to the devil when she tried to prevent him.  To see such things done with the roguish naivete of that pretty little child, and hear such things spoken by that small infantile voice, was as peculiarly piquant and irresistibly droll to them as it was inexpressibly distressing and painful to me; and when he had set the table in a roar he would look round delightedly upon them all, and add his shrill laugh to theirs.
First thoughts: What hit me were long paragraphs and a need for editing. (Grrrr... what has editing done to my enjoyment of reading?) However, when I finally got into the book I fell in love. After the long flowerly descriptions, the characters came alive through dialog.

Things that bothered me: Anne used this book to preach some of her ideas. It becomes clear that she's a daughter of a clergyman from all the scripture she quoted.
Favorite Description: Firstly, he is at least forty years old - considerably more, I should think - and I am but eighteen; secondly, he is narrow-minded and bigoted in the extreme; thirdly, his tastes and feelings are wholly dissimilar to mine; fourthly, his looks, voice, and manner are particularly displeasing to me; and, finally, I have an aversion to his whole person that I never can surmount.

Passages I loved:
She did not manifest her chagrin by keen reproaches, bitter sarcasms, or pouting sullen silence - any or all of these I could easily have endured, or lightly laughed away; but she showed it by a kind of gentle melancholy, a mild, reproachful sadness that cut me to the heart. (Gilbert's noticing his actions caused another woman's sadness)
Arthur is not what is commonly called a bad man:  he has many good qualities; but he is a man without self-restraint or lofty aspirations, a lover of pleasure, given up to animal enjoyments: he is not a bad husband, but his notions of matrimonial duties and comforts are not my notions.  Judging from appearances, his idea of a wife is a thing to love one devotedly, and to stay at home to wait upon her husband, and amuse him and minister to his comfort in every possible way, while he chooses to stay with her; and, when he is absent, to attend to his interests, domestic or otherwise, and patiently wait his return, no matter how he may be occupied in the meantime. (Helen's take on her lot in life.)
Quote I loved: (Helen's view of woman's conversation) 'Is it that they think it a duty to be continually talking,' pursued she:  'and so never pause to think, but fill up with aimless trifles and vain repetitions when subjects of real interest fail to present themselves, or do they really take a pleasure in such discourse?'

Word I loved: buffooneries

I decide to read this novel through because I had no access to it any other way.

Would I have rather just watched the movie? Yes. You can watch the movie on youtube.