NaNoWriMo Absurdity

Post is late due to BUSY WEEKEND. Why short weeks due to university breaks some how so much more stressful than normal weeks? Over fall break I failed to do work, hung out with my brother who came to visit (we beat Arkham Horror!), and read.

Anyway, I’ve decided to do NaNoWriMo (aka National Novel Writing Month) this year. I’ve done it many times in the past, and I was musing nostalgically about the rush you get from doing something so literally absurd as writing a 50,000 word novel in one month, sad that I am much too busy to do so at the moment, when I thought…well, you can set your own word count goals. And thus I lured myself into something I will surely regret come mid-November: writing 500 words a day instead of the usual 1,667, and ending the month with a pretty solid novella.

I have a number of just-begun novellas that I’ve never taken the time to devote my attention to, and I’m determined that will change! It’s about time I learned to write something other than novels and flash fiction anyway (I’m a woman of extremes).

The story I’ll be working on literally came to me in a dream one day–it features a god, a disgraced warrior, and a demon army. Two years ago the protag, destined to defeat the demons before they ever reached this realm, absolutely beefed it, allowed the invasion to begin, and abandoned her comrades in disgrace. Now, the war is almost lost, and the god who chose her visits her after years of radio silence, urging her to take up her spear once again.

I’ll probably be posting snippets as we move into November, so stay tuned!

(p.s. my nano profile is evangelinegiaconia should you want to follow the project)

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Review: The Ship of the Dead

So on October 3rd I was walking through the bookstore, minding my own business, checking out the new arrivals, when I see Magnus Chase number 3, The Ship of the Dead, staring at me. My whole body went into low-level shock. My hand started shaking. I walked numbly to the cashier with a copy cradled in my arms. I knew it came out in October, but I most certainly did NOT know it came out that very day, October 3rd.

It’s the last book in the Magnus Chase trilogy, which is interesting because it did not feel like a conclusion. For one thing, it’s much shorter than the first two bricks. For another, it lack the energy of the rest of the series. The first two books literally had me glued to my seat, non-stop excitement, and The Ship of the Dead just didn’t have that.

It’s a much more character-driven book than the others as well, but, oddly, it’s not Magnus‘ character. The stars of this book are the side characters: Mallory Keen, Thomas Jefferson Junior, Halfborn Gundeson, Samirah al-Abbas, and Alex Fierro. Magnus is more the vehicle through which we appreciate their development. Plot threads that I thought would play a critical role in the finale, such as Hearthstone’s final return to his brother’s grave or Samirah’s struggle to overcome her father’s influence, felt more like episodic moments.

That said, Alex and Magnus’ relationship had me almost in tears. Perfection. Riordan’s nearly-effortless inclusion of queer characters and relationships while still providing thoughtful and poignant analysis via Magnus is inspiring. For that matter, his handling of all the diversity in Magnus Chase provides a standard we should all aspire to. And he doesn’t beat around the bush about it. Where he could have shied away from highlighting the diversity in this series, he instead embraced it. He didn’t take the easy way out and include romantic moments only when Alex identifies as a girl. There is constant positive discussion of Islam and Samirah’s practice, casual inclusion of nonbinary characters, frequent description of specific ASL signs, lipreading, and interpretation, and pertinent discussion of discrimination throughout the book.

While the conclusion to Magnus Case may not have been as non-stop and downright exceptional as the first two, it was still a hell of a book, if nothing else than for the wonderfully characterized, effortlessly diverse cast, and Riordan’s unflinching engagement with those characters’ identities.

5o Posts!

It’s my 50th post! Who knew back in January that I’d make it this far? Well, I suppose I didn’t really have any serious doubts that I would, but still. I’d like to thank my mom, the academy, and especially everyone who reads and likes and comments on my posts. Thank you all so much!

What can you expect from the future of this blog? Pretty much the exact same thing: book reviews, thoughts about writing, cool resources, and general goofiness as I try to make a writer out of myself.

Learning how to adapt to a different online forum and audience has been exciting;  Having never run a traditional blog before, it’s been a learning curve, but a fun one. Here’s to 50 more posts of hopefully better quality!

Wacky Writing Spaces

Feeling run down at the library and coffeeshop, need a new place to write? Here are some wacky places that just might make you more productive when you have to grind:

  • in a tree with a journal (NOT a laptop) (mind the squirrels)
  • in an airport (if you can get past security)
  • the roof of a building
  • voice record while running
  • while watching a movie at the movie theater (only with a laptop if you want popcorn in your hair)
  • in math class
  • like ambient noise? try a football game
  • go to sleep and lucid dream

If you’ve got more, share them in the comments! Let’s beat writer’s block together by hiding in places it won’t think to look for us.

 

Review: Vassa in the Night

“What did I borrow from myself, and how will I ever get it back?”–Sarah Porter, Vassa in the Night

I found this book at McKay’s Used Books, read it in two days, and foisted it onto my roommate the moment I got to school. She read it in one day–something I really should have done, because it does take fairly constant immersion/attention to hold on to all the strands of this story at once.

Vassa in the Night, by Sarah Porter, is an bizarre, whimsical, and [some other word that won’t do it justice] retelling of the Russian folktale Vassilissa the Beautiful. Only it takes place in Brooklyn, and Baba Yaga owns a murderous 24-hour chain store, and it’s one of the weirdest and most beautiful books I’ve ever read.

Any retelling of myths/folktales/fairy tales that haven’t been done a million times in the last few years immediately catch my eye, as does the striking cover. But more attention-grabbing that is the the surreal magical realism that Porter wields as if painting a watercolor.

Contained within this book is an eccentric cast of characters, even more eccentric events that will make you pause to ask if that really just happened, and a protagonist who must discover her ferocity, her history, and her missing piece, or be lost.

Writing Prompt: Secret Keeper

Here’s a short prompt I filled today in my writing group. It’s from Deep Water Prompts, which contains awesome and strange writing prompts. Anyway I’ve never posted any of my actual creative writing on here before so trying something new.


There was a girl on the corner who could lose something for you forever if you asked nicely and paid cash.  That’s what they say about me, anyway. The whisper that goes from ear to ear, between those eager to be rid of a secret. As if once I abscond with the evidence, I take their guilt as well as their cash. Relief in their eyes, as if I had purge the guilt from their souls. But guilt is tenacious. I bargain with those in the habit of lying to themselves.

I never speak when I make a deal. I wait, and they come to me. Maybe they expect a dark hooded figure, because it always unnerves them to see the tall woman in jeans and heels waiting under the lamppost. I never accept less than a hundred, and I never turn down an item. I’ve been given guns, knives, toys, photographs, phones, keys, laptops, anything you can imagine and more.

They wonder how I do it. She uses black magic, she melts it down, she opens her mouth and eats the evidence. It’s funny, really, when all I do is turn them into art and sell them to the highest bidding demon. I mostly do found object collages, but also sculptures and the odd painting. I live in the south side of town, and the little old lady I rent from is most appreciative of my watercolors.

I can never sell the pieces to anyone of this world, of course, but certain buyers down below pay out the horns for that unique aura my pieces bring to the room. Sultry guilt, greed, embarrassment–a prominent political figure from down there once paid an enormous sum for a multi-media piece fragrant with shame and dark excitement. It took me months of meeting on street corners, attempting to blend the scents just right. The piece contains a hairbrush with several long strands of auburn hair, sixty lottery tickets, an unopened gold locket, and several bloody leather bracelets, among other things.

My clients wouldn’t be happy if they knew what I did with their secrets, but really, they were only deluding themselves in the first place. Is one secret among a collage really so salacious anymore? I never promised them anything, after all. Never spoke a word.

Picking Up the Thread of the Story

It’s hard to jump back into a WIP cold-turkey. Even if it’s only been a day, the expectation of the blinking cursor just staring at you to pick up where you left off is intimidating. It’s like diving straight into the ocean without a chance to get used to the cold. While sometimes you’ve just got to swim for it, occasionally it’s more productive to ease yourself in.

I have different tricks to break myself into starting to write again for different projects. For the Book of the Dead (my current project), I either listen to part of my playlist for the book, flip through my notebook that contains all of my research, or re-read the last chapter or so to entrench myself back into the narrative. Three visual or auditory triggers that push my brain back into the mode. But other projects have different cues that I use. For one project that I’m titling World Tree for now, almost every time I begin research/writing, I draw out the diagram of the universe I’m working with, actively placing myself into the world I’m about to write about.

It can be as simple as stacking the right books and pens beside the computer or a stricter progression of events done in the right order. Anything to jolt my mind and fingers back into the right story mode. Especially the right story, instead of the one I really want to work on. Anyone else have similar tactics?

story threads

Pictured above: Multitudinous story threads. Make sure you pick the one you’re supposed to. No, not that one.