Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Tonight at 9:53pm...

Tonight at 9:53pm, I finished the first draft of my novel Heroes & Victims, the 3rd and final book in the Diluvians series.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Book Review: The Hunger Games Trilogy

People have raved to me about Suzanne Collins' the Hunger Games trilogy for the past four years. At first I stayed away from it because I was deep in trenches of The Wheel of Time series, a 15-novel epic that consumed 2 years of my literary life. Upon finishing WoT, I jumped immediately into A Song of Ice & Fire (Game of Thrones) and just last month I was finally able to see what all the fuss is about.

The Hunger Games is a three-novel dystopian fantasy series that follows teenage protagonist Katniss Everdeen as she is unintentionally drawn into a rebellion against her fascist government, a rebellion for which she becomes the poster child.

The first novel, The Hunger Games, opens the story with showing Katniss' life in District 12 (one of twelve districts), which borders on squaller. Citizens of District 12 are destined to work in coal mines, and many families go without food and adequate healthcare. Once per year, two teenagers (a boy and a girl) are reaped from each of the twelve districts to fight to the death in what are called the Hunger Games. The fascist government, lead by the villainous President Snow, and the citizens of the Capitol watch the games as a sort of reality television show. In the 74th Annual Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Malark are selected as tributes from District 12. The rest of the novel shows Katniss' battle against the other tributes from Districts 1-11. Only one tribute will survive.

I saw the movie before I read the book, so I knew what I was getting myself into. Though the book has a little more detail than the film, I have to say that I enjoyed the film more. The entire series is written just from Katniss' point of view. In the film, we get to see scenes that are only alluded to in the books (because Katniss can't be everywhere at once). About the point of view, it was really hard for me to swallow. Writing in the first person can be great for storytelling, but I had a hard time with the present tense. As a fan of sci-fi and fantasy, I've become accustomed to stories being told in the past tense. My mind just follows it better.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

From Darkness to the Light...

"Lead us from the unreal to the real
Lead us from the darkness to the light
Lead us from death to immortality
Om peace, peace, peace"
- "Asato Ma" mantra translation

The end of 2013 pushed me to my edge mentally and emotionally. On one hand, it seemed like everything that could go wrong did go wrong. There was a shake up at my job, shake ups in my personal life, and even a car crash that would be the proverbial cherry on top. It was a time of great uncertainty. I only wished for some glimpse of the future to give me solace that the tumult would indeed end. I did rise from these ashes, but I'll save that for the end of this post.

As you may have read in my post/short story "Finding Home," I can find solace in writing. Though I've jokingly mentioned this sentiment before, writing does allow me to temporarily forsake my reality and go into a realm or headspace where I can feel a sense of control. This trick helped me in France, and it also helped me in the last couple months of 2013. History, in fact, repeated itself in a way. During this mental darkness, I was able to find a level of focus that was clear enough for me to finish the outline for Heroes & Victims (as I finished the outline for Eyes in Atlantis while emotionally depressed in France). Writing was again a candle flame in the darkness of my mind (not to be too dramatic). 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Book Review: "Orange is the New Black"

Orange is the New Black
by Piper Kerman

Unlike many people, I did not find out about this book solely through the Netflix series. I first became aware of Piper Kerman and her year spent in a women's prison back in May 2013 while listening to NPR's radio show "The Moth." At some point before the show got picked up by Netflix, Ms. Kerman told part of her story during one of the Moth events and at the end, the announcer mentioned the show. I liked what I heard, so I gave the show a chance and quickly fell in love with the dramedy. The show is a loose interpretation of Ms. Kerman's experience.

In the book, Orange is the New Black, Kerman chronologically details her year of incarceration, highlighting the lessons she learned, the relationships she forged, and her distaste for the treatment of inmates in the American prison system.

Growing up as a privileged American, turned temporary drug-trafficker, Ms. Kerman is pulled away from her now-legal life 10 years after her trafficking infraction. She learns almost immediately after being locked up that she is in no way different from the women who are incarcerated alongside her. Against the advice of her lawyer and friends on the outside, she slowly learns who she can trust and establishes vital friendships with inmates. My favorite inmate is "Pop", hands down, followed closely by "Janet", the yoga teacher. Kerman also learns handy life skills, like electrical work, construction, and how to make prison cheesecake (of which she gives you the recipe). Every so often, she will get on her soapbox and highlight the many injustices within the justice system. Since her release, Kerman has worked to help bring awareness to said injustices.

Orange is the New Black is a quick and pleasant read, especially if you like the Netflix series. Kerman's story-telling is quick paced, and her writing style is professional, yet informal, as if she's writing very well to an old friend.

Have you read Orange is the New Black? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Happy reading!


Thursday, December 12, 2013

On Writing: "Heroes & Victims"...

I use Grammarly for proofreading online because it's way cheaper than a formal education on proper grammar usage!

I have been officially writing the third and final installment of The Diluvians for about two years and until a few weeks ago I thought I was nearly finished, but then BAM! Like a Mack truck, inspiration struck, and I'm left bleeding on the side of the road with sweet muse-nectar pouring from the gaping wound in my head. Aren't you glad I don't write with that much gore all of the time?

I have a system to writing novels, you see. I sit down with a general conception of the story and just write ideas in a somewhat chronological order until I have a couple dozen pages of weird notes to decipher. Then I actually decipher said notes, creating a more detailed, more chronological outline that makes sense of everything. From there, I actually write the novel. After two novels, this is what has worked.

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