30 September, 2010

Flood Watch, Writer Things, and Coffee

I can believe it. It's been raining, raining, raining, pouring, dripping, sopping, and splishing all day long.

I realize that the last word isn't actually a word. Except I'm a writer--I've got creative license, right? Well. I say, very splishingishly, that writer's have the creative license to create new words.

But there is a lot of water. The street's sort of flooded and the gutters on the neighbor's house are pouring water. It's been dark, gloomy, and wet all day, but I'm content. I'm usually in a content mood when it's raining, and also because I've been successful editing-wise.

*****

Have any of you seen THIS POST? Or, THIS POST?

Yes? No?

Well, the second makes me laugh. Actually, the first makes me laugh because seriously, folks? If you're going to date a writer you should expect a whole different can of beans.

I don't actively lock myself up in my room or anything and write like some people do, (do you?) but I do tend to get crabby/irritable/fussy when my writing's not going right. And "writer's will remind you that money doesn't matter so much"? Ahem. A lot of writers go into the business because they're broke. I'll let you decide for yourself whether the other points are true. :D

*****

NaBloWriMo starts tomorrow! Hooray! I'm excited about this. It just seems like it's going to be fun, you know? Well, maybe I'm just overexcited. I already post pretty often . . . maybe it's the fact I won't be alone this time. :)

If you haven't joined yet, my armies are still waiting around for the next victim. (AKA you.)

*ahem*

*****

I never really liked coffee. I am repelled by the scent of coffee, especially really strong stuff; I like the smell of Barnes & Noble (one of my favorite smells) but I don't like just coffee. How do people drink it? HOW?

But apparently people do. At least according to a recent survey done by Careerbuilder and Dunkin Donuts. (I've never been to Dunkin Donuts--or Starbucks, for that matter.)

Huh. Oh, well. I plan on being a scientist; I'll just have to be a non-coffee-drinker one.

*****

End of September everyone! Can you believe it? Another month has disappeared. I think this month has gone rather well for me, since I got some stuff done . . .

What about you?

-----The Golden Eagle

29 September, 2010

300th Post

Fascinating . . .


Kidding. I'm not doing anything this time, just writing a normal post.

If normal is what my posts are.

I'm here to talk about . . . eh, well, I'm not exactly sure. I could mention my writing. Like the fact that I'm in the middle of editing Part Two and more editing in Part Three while I still need to edit Part Four and Part Five is sitting patiently (or impatiently) while I try to get caught up with it. (I usually edit my posts right after I write them, since I write my books in parts . . .) I've almost finished rewriting a chapter, and then I can move on to Part Three and give it my whole attention.

Or I could chat about the weather. Like the fact that it's getting colder, (although it was rather warm yesterday) and there are bare trees already. BARE TREES. C'mon, leaves, hold on to the those branches a little longer. Snow's not in the forecast quite yet. It's not even October.

Or I could yammer about the fact I like this orchard place maybe 40 minutes away where they sell fruit for a lot less than Wal-Mart. We (my mom and I) got half a bushel of apples there . . . which means there is a lot of apple to eat in the next few weeks. :) They also had some vegetable for a really good price, but we bypassed that because we already had a lot of produce.

Or I could mention the fact that NaBloWriMo is just around the corner and that I still have not written up and scheduled posts for the month. Darn it. I really need to get going on that or else I'll fail this challenge which would not be pleasant . . . for me, anyway. I planned some things and I could type out at least a few titles, but I need to do something else right now.

Or I could tell you that I have four books to read before the 1st, otherwise I'm not going to finish by TBR pile before it has to go back the library, and I DESPISE doing that because I usually read fast. But seeing as I have over 30 (40?) books out (mostly YA, some Adult) I suppose I have an excuse. I'm reading She Thief  by Daniel Finn right now. Good book so far.

Or I could say that I still have no idea what to post about. ;)

-----The Golden Eagle

28 September, 2010

Teaser Tuesday (8)

How do I always manage to forget to write this post before I notice that it says "Tuesday" somewhere on someone else's blog?! Sigh. Maybe it's because I'm not hauling myself to school in the morning.


But anyway. Today IS Tuesday and that means *drumroll* that I have a Teaser

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser is from Going Bovine.



I love this book. I finished it yesterday, but I'm going to bend the rules and put in in a teaser.

   "There are several Dr. A**holes who come in here every day to scribble on my chart and poke me with sharp objects so they can collect points for their Sadism Scout Badges, but so far, no Dr. X."
   "You know, you are very funny!"
   "That's because I'm hallucinating."

p. 116

What have you got teaser-wise?

-----The Golden Eagle

27 September, 2010

NaBloWriMo

There are a lot of these "Na-something-Wri-Mos" aren't there? Most famous of all being the National Novel Writing Month in November. But I have decided to participate in NaBLOWriMo, the October event just for bloggers.






The objective? Post every day in the month of October with no breaks.

I thought about doing NaNoWriMo and trying to write 50,000 words in November since I met (and exceeded) the 30,000 words in 30 days challenge in June. I almost had 50,000 words that month, actually. But since my book needs a whole lot of work as it is, and I think editing, revising, and restructuring has got to take a bigger place than, it has right now, I've decided against trying for NaNoWriMo. Maybe next year. Also, for some reason, it feels like I'd be doing a disservice to my book if I tried to rush myself and came out with a lot of junk in the process. Junk doesn't do anything for anything.

Therefore, when I saw the NaBloWriMo icon on Alex's blog and also noticed that Cruella was participating, I thought: Well, I'll do this instead!

I suppose you have surmised by now that you're going to be reading a lot of me in the month of October. I will, however, try to make it more interesting than just "Yo." Because I could make every post in that month "Yo." since I believe that would fall inside the posting parameters. The only problem is that "Yo." would be, in a word, BOR-ING. And so I am thinking of things to post about to complete this challenge.

What have I come up with? I've thought of a tutorial I could do, (it's profile-related; you know, that issue where if someone clicks your follower icon but the link to your blog never loads?), I've got some book reviews I could do, (TBR pile: Get. Over. Here.), there are some other things happening, (like book release dates), and I've got an idea for Halloween. (Um, maybe you don't want to know the details of that last one.) And, of course, there is life. Life is unpredictable. There's always something cropping up that I could elaborate on and post about. Right?

But I WILL try to post in October. I will. I shall. I can. I'll schedule things and expand them as time goes by, just to make sure that something will pop up for every day of the month.

What about you? Are you going to participate in this NaBloWriMo?

-----The Golden Eagle

26 September, 2010

Book Review: Spindle's End



Title: Spindle's End
Author: Robin McKinley
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Genre: Fantasy
Page Count: 422
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Cover Rating: 2 out of 5. It would be good hanging in a museum, and I like it well enough, but it just isn't a cover, you know? It fits the book's plot, but it's not very dynamic.

Inside flap:

"We will keep her safe."
All the creatures of the forest and field and riverbank knew that the infant was special. She was the princess, spirited away from the evil fairy Pernicia on her name-day. But the curse was cast: some unknown time in the future Rosie would prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and fall into a poisoned sleep from which no one could rouse her.
   Katriona had whisked Rosie away from her lethal name-day and disappeared into the countryside with her. Katriona is a young fairy, apprenticed to her aunt, who is known to be the best fairy not only in their small home village of Foggy Bottom but in all the wild backland of the Gig. The two of them raise the princess as if she is their own in order to protect her. No other human, not even Rosie herself, knows her true identity.
   But Pernicia is looking for her, and Pernicia is formidably powerful and tirelessly intent on on revenge for a defeat four hundred years old. Two village fairies and all the animals in the realm may not be able to save Rosie.

My expectations: High. I loved Chalice and Dragonhaven so I was really looking forward to reading this book.

It did not let me down.

About the book: Robin McKinley is like the ultimate in Fantasy literature. Her writing is superb, and she manages to do it with long sentences; I much prefer long sentences as opposed to short ones. This book, Spindle's End, lives up to that reputation. The world that's created in this book, from the magic to the small town life, is very well set up, the characters are great for the book, and while the plot is based on Sleeping Beauty, it's not the usual overused idea--she's elaborated on it until it's much more original than any other retelling.


  • Plot:



We all know the story of Sleeping Beauty, right? Princess gets cursed, lives with fairies, finds handsome guy in the woods, (if I were her, I would have kicked him and told him to take a hike) falls in love with said handsome guy, finds out she's a princess and can't marry the man she met, sobs her heart out, goes to castle, she's cursed by the evil fairy, and back comes the handsome guy to--ta-da!--and he wakes her up with a kiss.


Spindle's End is nothing like that. First of all, while there is a good-looking boy who starts working around Rosie, nothing happens between them. Second of all, the way the curse is set and they way Rosie starts living with fairies is different than the Disney version. Third of all, the ending--


Right. Don't give it away! Although once Peony came into the picture I could guess what was going to happen. It's a bit in the open, but the action is a little distracting from it. There is a lot more action than in the typical Sleeping Beauty. The romance is also much better; there are all sorts of complications, mis-beliefs, the usual things, but it's all put together very well and quietly; it's important for the plot and certainly adds, except  it's not like LOVE TRIANGLE and I'LL DIE WITHOUT HIM.


  • Characters:



Rosie. One of the best female protagonists I've met up with, I've got to say. She's no Katsa or Fire, but she is tough underneath the curly head of hair, while at the same time she's not nasty or spiteful and enjoy to talk to poeple. And no, she's not the sweet, singing, dancing Beauty either--instead, she'd much rather hang around the smithy and work with the animals. She hates all those domestic duties that she'd been blessed with--sewing, knitting, etc., and a perfect complexion just makes her more irritable. (Girl, do you know how much some teenagers would give to be completely zit-free?)


Peony is the opposite of Rosie in all but appearance. She's sweet, she's tender, she's just the perfect image of what Rosie is not. She likes to sew, embroider, loves beautiful things, and doesn't have the gumption that Rosie has. However, she was an excellent character--the perfect foil against her best friend's temperament.


Katriona was strong when she had to be at the start. I liked Katriona; I missed her narrative when it shifted away from Rosie to her, but that was all right for the plot.


Narl was your typical strong and very, very silent type. He doesn't speak much at all and deals a lot with iron, that metal fairies hate and usually stay away from. He's no father for Rosie, but he takes her on and teaches her about animals. I really, really liked him as a character.


Aunt was strong, powerful, and smart when it came to what to do with Rosie when Katriona came home with her; a good character.


There are a lot of minor characters as well, but suffice it to say they're all about as good as the ones mentioned above.


  • Setting/Elements:

I love the world in this book. Magic! Fairies! Animals! Forests! It's all described very well. I have to say that occasionally the animals' names got me confused, since there are dogs and foxes and mice and other creatures all running around they've all got titles. That confused me sometimes, but I got it organized eventually.

Other: D-word and the the term "bloody". It's nothing serious, and while there is some romance it's not in your face and screeching.

Do I recommend this book? YES. Yes, yes, yes.


-----The Golden Eagle

25 September, 2010

107 Followers!

Wow. It's been a while since I did a follower dedication post, but I somehow managed to gain 36 followers since then! I linked to all of you when I had 71, but I never came close to having something divisible by ten. I still don't, but that's not going to stop me from posting because this is WAY overdue.

What is there to say except THANK YOU SO VERY, VERY MUCH! You guys rock! And don't let anyone tell you otherwise. I think I love blogfests--why? Because I got at least 20 more followers my linking up to the Top Ten TV Shows Blogfest and The Great Blogging Experiment. Let's give a hand for Alex, Elana, and Jen! (I've memorized those URLs, since I've been using them so much.)

Here are the links to you lovely follower people, and if I don't have your link or if you'd rather I'd link to another blog (I tried to link to main blogs) then could you leave a comment with it? Also, if I'm not following you, I'd be grateful if you commented and told me! :)

Len
Elizabeth Mueller
RaShelle
Misha Gericke
Pam Torres
Jen Chandler
Sharon K. Mayhew
Shannon O'Donnell
Lisa Potts
N.R. Williams
Sandra Ulbrich Almazan
Tere Kirland
Talei
Lola Sharp
Michelle McLean
Christine Fonesca
Renae Mercado
Jessica Carmen Bell
Elena Solodow
Lynda Young
Kelley
Anne Supuvelda
Deepali
Becca & Zippy
Clarissa Draper
Cruella Collett
Debbie Curran
Crystal Jigsaw
Theresa
Medeia Sharif
E.J. Stevens
Sammy Sleuth
Dahlia
Lauralofgreen
Alex J.
Arlee Bird
Brena Tate
Ant
Amy
Sunsinger
Bobbi Marie
Jenna B
Brian
Oceanwing
Kaya B
Julie
TJ

I think that's it. (I haven't forgotten anyone, have I?!) Strange as it is, there are actually 108 followers once I number the list in OneNote; I wonder why that is because even on by Dashboard there are only 107. But hey, I'm not complaining. :P

I'll try to comment as much as possible on the blogs I follow, but life also takes time; some days I've got more time than others, so if you don't see me comment every day, rest assured that I WILL get around to it. Just maybe not immediately. Once again: THANK YOU. :)

-----The Golden Eagle

24 September, 2010

How To Create Compelling Characters

This is a post I wrote about (as is obvious in the title) How To Write Compelling Characters as part of Elana Johnson, Alex Cavanaugh, and Jennifer Daiker's Great Blogging Experiment.

There is a lot more than the following information if you really want to cross-section the process of creating compelling characters, but that would mean an incredibly long post and lots of text. Therefore, I've narrowed it down to what I think are the most important things you should (and should not) do to create compelling characters.

What Is the Conflict?

What sort of conflict is the character going through? What sort of challenges face him/her? Strife is a good way of making the reader bond with the character, to feel something for the events that happen to your character. It can be physical, it can be psychological, it can be any sort of conflict, but there has to be some sort of predicament that the character has to face. If nothing is happening there's really no reason for the reader to stick around--the reader isn't compelled to find out what happens.

I would like to mention here a good example of this sort of thing: Incarceron by Catherine Fisher. Some people said that it was slow and dull, while others adored it. I'm in the "adored" category, because there is conflict in the start of the book. Finn is about to get run over, and afterwards the world in which he lives is revealed; the place is violent politically and is a dangerous world to exist in. It throws you straight into the action and into the lives of the people and there isn't any dilly-dallying over insignificant details.


Every Person Wants Something

It's true. Almost all of us want something out of life, whether it's freedom, true love, liberation, self-discovery, or any such thing as that. What does your character want? Make the reader discover it--but there are different ways of doing that. It can be said in the first chapter with a statement made by the character. Or you can draw out the moment that the reader learns the full scope of his/her desires through a sequence of events or by conversation with another character.

Make the want real. Make it realistic and believable. For example, if there's a man living in Chicago who has a desk job and pores over documents for a living, a realistic desire would be moving away and getting a better job doing something he enjoys. If your character is, say, the President of some country, (I actually do have a character who is the President of a planet) a believable want would be the health and prosperity of his/her people or achieving political goals.

3-Dimensionality

Everyone has their secrets. It's true. I know you do. You might say that one character has this want/need--but, underneath it all, does he/she really believe that's what they want? Withdraw from the character's thoughts for a moment and focus on their external appearances. A person's actions and body language can say a whole lot more than their words can. Do they shift here when someone mentions such-and-such? Do they cough or close their eyes when that person brings up a certain subject? What's really behind his/her attitude should be revealed to the reader and/or to the other characters around them in twists and turns of the plot.


Don't Overuse Ideas

There are a lot of characters out there that are built on the same idea, especially in series. Characters that, while in a different setting, have similar attitudes toward their experiences and follow the same paths as so many other characters before them. Therefore, one major thing you shouldn't do is repeat what others have already repeated. Be original! Take the initiative and build a new, different world with original characters. Keeping things fresh will draw the reader in and keep the interest, whereas if the plot and/or the characters resembles something else, there goes one of the major draws since the reader will be able to guess what's going to happen.

What's the Point?

What is the point of your main character(s)? Are they another facet to a bigger picture, and they're there to show different personalities? Do they add something to the diversity of the setting that your story takes place in? Do they affect others around them in significant ways? Do they have something that makes them stand out and make the reader actually feel something for the character? Love? Hate? Disgust? Adulation?

The character should say "Pay attention!" in some way. Whether it be to make the reader experience what the character is experiencing, to make the reader understand something, to get a point across, or to simply present the world and its different perspectives, you need to make sure that the particular character has a point to their existence. The role they play (for it to be worthwhile to read and write about) has to be influential enough on either the reader or the other character.


To me, those points are the main reasons I find a character compelling. Let's condense:

1. Your character must be going through some sort of significant conflict.
2. The character must want something. Money. Power. Freedom. Love. Security. Even (although this case has been a little overused in my opinion) normalcy. Something that relates to their situation believably.
3. 3-Dimensionality AKA what your character(s) is/are hiding.
4. Be original. Don't emulate, copy, or repeat.
5. Make sure that the character has a purpose in the grand scheme of things.


There you have it! Do you have anything to add? Comment on? Disagree with? Did you write your own post for this Blogging Experiment?

-----The Golden Eagle

23 September, 2010

The Great Blogging Experiment Blogfest begins tomorrow! There were 153 entries last time I checked--those are a lot of blogs to read, but I know I'm going to be visiting at least a few! I might have to do a lot of it on Saturday, but I'll at least be visiting the people I follow. :)

You can still join if you haven't yet! *gasps* Just go HERE.

*****

I have been invited to celebrate Icewolf's 200th Post Party! Thanks, Icewolf!


The rules are to pass it on to three people, then have them pass it on to three others. (If you're not familiar with Da Lovely World of What-Not, then here's the explanation: Icewolf sets up situations and you and your characters type out scenes; those scenes are built on by other readers and the story expands into what's usually full-blown action!)

Choosing only three is going to be difficult, but here are my picks:

Caroline
Katie/Popular Joker
and
Brena

-----The Golden Eagle

Book Review: Morpheus Road: The Light





Title: Morpheus Road: The Light
Author: D.J. MacHale
Publisher: Aladdin
Genre: Horror
Page Count: 341
Rating: 3.8 out of 5
Cover Rating: 3.5 out of 5. I like the image of Gravedigger. It's perfect for the book, but I do wish they'd made the red a little brighter just to contrast with his wings and his outline a little more. (It's really dark on the library copy for some reason.) It sort of morphs into black and can be hard to see.


Inside flap:

Marshall Seaver is being haunter. It begins with mysterious sounds, a fleeting face outside a window, a rogue breeze--all things that can be explained away. That is, until he comes face-to-face with a character who only exists on the pages of a sketchbook--a character Marshall himself created.
Marshall has no idea why he is being tormented by this forbidding creature, but he is quickly convinced it has something to do with his best friend, Cooper, who has gone missing. Together with Cooper's beautiful but aloof sister, Sydney, Marshall searches for the truth about his friend while ultimately uncovering a nightmare that is bigger and more frightening than he could ever have imagined.


My expectations: I really started to hate Pendragon after I had read more than five books in the series; they were full of cliches and stereotypes, and plot just kept repeating itself. Sure, the worlds were interesting, but that was it. Since I was getting tired with Pendragon I wasn't sure I'd like this book at all . . .

But it was surprisingly good.


About the book: I don't read much Horror--at all, actually, so the only reason I picked up this book was out of some hope that D.J. MacHale might have applied his writing skills (he isn't a bad writer) to this book and made something original. The feeling I got out of this book was of good writing, some creepiness, and a good plot.

I thought I'd be a little more scared after reading this book, but I wasn't it. Ghosts, Gravediggers, weird noises and breezes just don't terrify me, I guess. :P I don't know about you, but I wouldn't say that this is the creepiest book I've ever read, so I'm not saying "this thing is too scary!" or anything. (I'd have to think to come up with the creepiest book I've read . . .)


  • Plot:


It was a "missing-person" plot with ghosts thrown in. I liked the way the two were mixed, because if it had just been mystery it would have been dull; this way, there's fantasy and mystery. Cooper disappears, Marshall starts looking for him, magic and hauntings continue.

Overall, it was fairly solid, but I think the fantasy part of it helped to pull it up a little--there were some events I could guess were going to happen but the supernatural events distracted me from the mystery and helped keep the plot together.


  • Characters:


Marshall was an appealing protagonist. He's a geek (I love geeky characters) and a loner. (I love reading about loners.) He's quiet, pretty sensible, and although I thought his clingy attitude toward Cooper was a little naive, it worked for the story.

Sydney is . . . well, one thing I really hate is the image of "smart-girls-who-are-b****es" because it's not always true. Sydney's heading toward valedictorian, she's taken the SATs, she'd smart, she wants to got to Ivy League, and she's nasty to almost everyone she meets and has a really jerk-y boyfriend. There probably are girls who have that sort of attitude toward life, but not all do. It's just another stereotype and it drives me nuts.

Cooper is a natural troublemaker. He's fearless, reckless, and popular, and everyone knows that's a bad mix. But he is--most of the time--a good friend to Marshall. Not my favorite character ever, but his attitude is of a fairly common type of teenager.

Gravedigger is freaky. Looking like the product of Marshall's imagination doesn't help anything. (Check the cover of the book.) I wouldn't want that thing haunting me . . .


  • Setting/Elements:


As I said before, I like the mix of horror/fantasy/mystery. If you've read a lot of these genres, I suppose that the plot and elements might seem familiar, but for me it was a change of pace.

One thing I have to mention is that this book plays on stereotypes. A lot of stereotypes. I don't like things like that, but I'll grudgingly admit that they work for Morpheus Road. Unfortunately, that still doesn't change the fact they're stereotyped which is a drawback.

Other: If you scare really easily or don't like descriptions of blood, this book may not appeal. There are several instances where blood comes into play--and there's a lot of it. I thought it went a little overboard.

Do I recommend this book? Yes.

-----The Golden Eagle

22 September, 2010

The First Day of Fall!

Huzzah! 

(Image found online.)

I love autumn. It's cool, the trees are colorful around here, people are back to school, I love the way the air smells, I love brilliantly blue skies, and I also love the holidays that come with this time of the year. I also like this day in particular, because it means the days and the nights are exactly the same length. Isn't that an interesting thing? That the night and the day balance each other out?

Are you looking forward to fall? Hopeful about anything to come?

*****

I've also been tagged, so here are the questions, rules, my answers, and the list of people I'm tagging:

Your favorite thing about September:

Why September? By the time fall starts it's almost over. But I do like the sense of beginnings and endings.

What you wear in September:

Shirt, (long or short sleeved) pants, (capris or long pants, depending on the temperature) sweater/sweatshirt/sweatjacket, (light or heavy, again depending on the temp) sneakers, (preferably running or walking style) and I almost always have my hair in a ponytail. I don't like wearing by hair down.

Activity you do in September:

Write.

Your idea of how a fairy would dress:

Okay, this is probably from reading too much Fantasy/Paranormal, but I think of fairies as being tall, skinny, cruel-looking, and back-stabbing creatures that wear either tight jeans and sweaters or long gowns/medieval dress.

Your idea of how an elf would dress:

Ditto, although I usually associate them with a being a little less back-stabbing than a fairy, a little taller, and living in the trees or wearing lots of green clothes.

Your favorite tree:

Sumac!

Your favorite September color (orange, yellow, red, gold, brown, etc.):

Gold. That's one of the major things I like about autumn. I'm not obsessed with gold or anything! I just like it when leaves are that color. I don't like the metal.

Your favorite feeling in fall:

Breathing in cold air and crunching leaves. There's something satisfactory about crunching leaves.

And this tag involves adding another question, so . . .

Are you less or more cheerful in the fall as opposed to in the spring?

More, probably. :)


I tag everyone. Yes, this means YOU, but only if you want to do it.

*****

You know those things that aren't particularly funny but you find amusing despite it all? Well, severely bruising (possibly breaking) my second toe for 2010 did that for me. Especially since the irony of it all is the first toe I broke back in January just finished healing and I have a dance class later today. I was half-snorting half-grimacing after I banged it. :P

*****

My writing has been, for lack of a better word, flopping. I don't know why. I've tried plenty of stuff, closing my eyes, listening to music, arguing with the characters, revising my outline, but I think I'm just going to have to edit (I've got loads of editing to do) and see if anything strikes me while I'm doing it. Garrar. It's frustrating, since I've got ideas bouncing around (they're more like slogging around by now, though) in my head and I HATE writing ahead of where I left off. It throws everything out of balance for me, so I try and stick to writing everything out chronologically.

A final note: I have 87 followers! That is . . . very surprising and very gratifiying. Thank you, my lovely followers, readers, and whoever else is looking at this blog! I do appreciate it. :)

-----The Golden Eagle

21 September, 2010

Teaser Tuesday (7)

Another Teaser Tuesday has arrived! This meme is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading and here are the rules for participating:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser this week is from Morpheus Road: The Light by D.J. MacHale.

"Sydney, this is Britt. She saw Cooper the night he disappeared."

(I shut the book and forgot the page number. Oops!)


What are you teasing us with today? Leave a link so I can see what you're reading!

-----The Golden Eagle

20 September, 2010

Top Ten TV Shows Blogfest

Hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh over at the blog of the same name.

I highly suggest you go check it out. And follow. And link up. And also check out some of the other entries.

I actually don't watch TV beyond PBS. So you're probably going to think I'm a walking talking ad for the channel by the end of this.

But anyway.

On with the list!

1. NOVA

This is probably THE BEST science show out there. Really. It covers every topic and a some of it is about the new fields that are being explored as we speak. SETI. Microraptor. Evolution. Pluto. Green technology. However, it also looks into things like Darwin's history, scientists who have contributed to their field, the understanding of cold, and a lot of other things. Check out the site for everything else.


2. Nature

Second best science show out there. This is mostly animals, instead of science in general the way NOVA is, and I like its music better than I do NOVA's. And no, it's not just lions hauling zebras to the ground and cheetahs carrying dead deer, by the way. It's much more interesting than that, since it covers plenty of stuff beyond hunting.


3. NOVA scienceNOW

It's related to NOVA. Neil deGrasse Tyson (funny guy--have you ever heard of him before?) is the host of the series, which is almost as good as NOVA. It's geared more toward the younger generation--it's more new technology, innovation, instead of exploring key scientific topics. They should have made another series for last summer but they didn't. *sigh* I hope they do for 2011. I miss it.

4. The PBS NewsHour

It's balanced. It doesn't involve Glenn Beck shouting at Washington and the reporters are calm and usually reasonable. Sometimes their science reports are a little, um, weak (Jim Lehrer once asked if you could see bacteria) and not quite as good as they could be, (they should get someone who knows what they're actually talking about) but overall it's MUCH better than the other news outlets. Believe me, it is.

5. History Detectives

History isn't my top favorite subject, but I do enjoy this show a lot. It's focused on American History, although the artifacts can trace back to other countries. Seeing the museums, sites, etc. that they go to can be interesting and the results can be surprising. One or two segments were exaggerated a little, but it was still good.

6. Craft in America

Art, basically. All sorts of art. The people, the things they make, the methods they use, the tools, etc. One of the better art programs PBS has. One local art production isn't very good, (at least I think it's uninteresting) but this series explores a lot more stuff nationwide. Glass, pottery, beading, it's varied.

7. The National Parks: America's Best Idea

How about Ken Burns' Best Idea? Excellent job on this one. The sights, the images, even the music. John Muir, Teddy Roosevelt, and all the other people who influenced the Parks are in there and there are quotes and excerpts of what these people said. There are Rangers who worked in the park, authors, writers, people like that. I actually wrote four essays on this series--you'd think I'd be bored with this by now but I still think it's really good.

8. Nightly Business Report

Not as thorough about news beyond the business world, (for example, you're not going to see soldiers in Iraq in this show) NBR focuses mostly on what's happening in the markets and the economy. There aren't many long interviews and some things are compressed down to make it fit into the half-hour time frame, but it is informative when it comes to the economy. I'm not really interested in which ETFs to buy at the moment, but it's still interesting.

9. The Human Spark

Alan Alda did a good job on this (short) series. It looks into what makes us human, as opposed to just large bipedal apes, how evolution changed that, how we are changing now, human thoughts and instincts. The experiments they try and the scientists Alan Alda speaks to all have their opinions that make you think.

10. Antiques Roadshow

It's fascinating to see how much someone's "junk" can be worth. Some of the stuff they appraise doesn't particularly appeal to me, like beer mugs, but a few items here and there are like "Whoa now!" Sometimes it can get a little monotonous (then I start reading and only pay attention to the end of the appraisals) but overall it's a good show. (I love that commercial they have on the blanket that was appraised--have you ever seen it?)

There's my list. I did warn you . . . LOL. Anyway, do you recognize any of these titles? Comments on them? Thoughts? If you have your own Blogfest post, tell me! I want to see what your favorites are. :)

-----The Golden Eagle

19 September, 2010

Soap and Education Are Not as Sudden as a Massacre But are More Deadly in the Long Run*

I really don't like starting off posts that are more personal than book reviews and/or posts with a theme. Like, what do I start off the darned thing with--me, writing, stuff I'm doing 'round the blogosphere, or just some random fact? I usually go with the random fact option . . . but today I'm going to start off with the fact that my characters just turned a year old today!

You're probably thinking: HUH? but you see, I started writing my current story exactly a year ago. I think it was a year ago; for some reason this date reminds me of something. I know I started it in September sometime. Not all of my characters have reached a year yet; I only introduced some a few months ago when I was rewriting.

But Combat Chief Neodvisni (I didn't know his last name at the outset--I should have since that's what everyone calls him) and Esperanza, (no last name anyway), the two main characters in the story have been in my mind almost every day for the past year.

Question here: how often do YOU think about your characters? I do a lot. Like daily.

*****

Guess what? I signed up for Alex J. Cavanaugh's Top Ten TV Shows Blogfest set for September 20th. I don't watch any TV beyond PBS (I'm not kidding!) but I since I love a bunch that they show I decided to put my name up there. I only have tomorrow to write it though since I put it off--panic attack! I'm going to have to make up that list pretty fast. :P But I don't mind--go sign up yourself!

I'm also participating in Alex, Jennifer Daiker, and Elana Johnson's Great Blogging Experiment. I love that title. I'm really going to hit the blogging world on September 24th to see what everyone thinks is the best way to write compelling characters. Again--SIGN UP.

Watch out for my posts, too! :)

*****

The trees are starting to change here. They're turning orange, yellow, red, fading to brown . . . it's pretty, but it's also getting colder to point where I need a jacket. I don't like wearing jackets--anything bulky just gets on my nerves. The temperatures are dropping at night and in the day, 80s are unlikely and 60s are common, it's been in the 40s . . . but I love fall. It's my favorite season.

*****

I know I was going to say something else but I can't remember it now . . . hrrrmm. What was it? Eh. Never mind. I'll think of it tomorrow and probably forget it again . . . you know, it seems like whenever I start writing my posts the thoughts I had fly out the window. It's same with my story--the computer seems to dash everything I had in mind.

Ah well. I usually wing it successfully enough. Don't you think?

Here's a random fact I just noticed: I have a total of 458 tags.

458!? I don't use that many very often! I'm glad I don't have one of the lists of all the tags I have. It would take up the whole sidebar. I have such things as "Angels and Demons" "American Experience" "iPod" "Kenneth Feinberg" and all sorts of miscellany. Including "Zippidy-do-dah".

*****

Oh, hey, I just realized PBS is showing Victor Borge.

VICTOR BORGE. THAT GUY IS HILARIOUS. It's too bad he died. It's the Falling Leaves one--ever seen it? LOL.

*****




*Mark Twain quotation

-----The Golden Eagle

18 September, 2010

Book Review: White Cat



Title: The Curse Workers Book 1: White Cat
Author: Holly Black
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Genre: Fantasy
Page Count: 310
Rating: 2.7 out of 5
Cover Rating: 4 out of 5. It matches the book, the cat is perfect, and the black gloves/mafia-style psyche is all in accordance with the story. Also, I like the way the smoke/letters cover the boy's eyes. I do wonder why Holly Black's name is HOLLY BLACK and the actual title is White CatI don't like it when they do that to book titles, since I'm more for the story than for the author.

Inside flap:

CASSEL COMES FROM A FAMILY OF CURSE WORKERS--
people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they're all criminals. Many become mobsters and con artists. But not Cassel. He hasn't got magic, so he's an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to overlook one small detail--he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago.
Cassel has carefully built up a facade of normalcy, blending into the crows. But his facade starts to crumble when he finds himself sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He's noticing other disturbing things too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him. As Cassel begins to suspect he's part of a huge con game, he must unravel his past and his memories. To find out the truth, Cassel will have to outcon the conmen.

My expectations: High. I don't know why. Maybe it's because I read an anthology of SF/Fantasy short stories and liked Holly Blacks, or maybe it's just the cover, but I expected this to be really good.

It didn't quite meet those expectations.

About the book: You know what this reminded me of? The Rise of Renegade X. Really, it did. Cassel Sharpe (very cool name, by the way) and Damien Locke (also a very cool name) are both supposedly good boys with a bad history. They both have mothers who get into affairs and are willing to do whatever it takes to get their way. They both live in a world that's either shoot or get shot. Both of them like being bad. Their last names even end with "E".

Did Holly Black ever read The Rise of Renegade X? I wonder. But besides that, and more about White Cat.  You know, on the back of my hardcover edition there are a few famous authors giving high praise for this book. Libba Bray. Vandermeer. Scott Westerfeld. I've never read Vandermeer, but I do love Leviathan and The Gemma Doyle Trilogy. The authors say such things as "A stunning tour de force" "Just when you think you know where the story's going, it shifts and takes you somewhere even more surprising and fascinating" and "her most riveting work yet."

Okay. I rather disagree with all of those analyses. Why? Because I could guess every darn turn this book made. I mean, the whole mysterious transfiguration deal: I felt like going "It's right in front of you, Cassel! OPEN YOUR EYES" because it was just so obvious. Also, as soon as the white cat came into play and he mentioned his best friend Lila I knew what was going to happen. I just pieced it together, and was ahead of the (rather slowly) developing plot. It was a drag. Everything was out there and if this was called a mystery, the mystery part of it would be nonexistent.

  • Plot:


As mentioned above, it's transparent. There was some action, but it didn't attract me all that much. But ignoring those facts, I suppose it was okay. So-so. I didn't get some things about the curse workers and other stuff confused me, so while I guessed the general outline of the plot I was confused by the details that seemed to be in high relief due to lack of anything else to focus on.

The ending should have surprised me but it didn't. I sort of slammed the book shut and stared at it and decided that maybe I just wouldn't read the sequel. But I'll probably read it anyways, just to see if the plot gets better or if there's some "new" revelation.

  • Characters:


I am fond Cassel Sharpe. I thought that he might have hurried up a little with thinking about what was going on around him and pieced his life together a little more, but he didn't, and I thought that he got a little slow when it came to putting the clues that were all around him together. However, I liked his narrative.

Philip was okay. I wish that he had been fleshed out a little more and that the reader could have learned a bit more about the family in general, but there was no such thing.

Barron was also "okay". A little less dynamic than I would have liked.

I could mention a few other people . . . but that would give some of the story away. I really don't want to do that. I'll just say that most of the characters were interesting, but not engrossing.

  • Setting/Other Factors:


One thing that would have added a lot to the story was if the author had added more to what the curse workers are like as a whole. What's the government like? What's the structure of their underground con system? What's the political climate? Legal system? Workers rights were interesting--but it was only mentioned a little. I also wish that she'd said more about Cassel's family; some things relating to the Zacharovs and his family confused me.

Other: I'm a bit feminist, okay? So what I'm going to say here is that there should have been more female con-people. Women are smart, you know! They can con just as well as a man. And while Cassel's mother conned and worked her way through life, it's all money and sex. Cassel's female friend acted as a sort of distraction while he did the con. 

EXCUSE ME, but it seems that the guys are getting out and working and having more of an actual life while a girl's job is to stay home and do domestic things in this book. That frustrates me. Especially because it's written by a female author, and it seems like the society that these conpeople are living in is rather modern in other ways.

Do I recommend this book? Not really. But if you want to read about conmen and crime and curse working, go ahead. Just don't expect a plot that's going to surprise you and make you gasp.

-----The Golden Eagle

17 September, 2010

The X Prize

10 million bucks+Very Light Car+102mpg+Wave2+187mpg+E-Tracer+205mpg=the X Prize.

The Very Light Car created by the Edison2 team got the Mainstream Class award, or 5 million dollars. The miles per gallon is 102, and it only weighs 830 pounds. To learn more about the team go HERE.





The Wave2 created by Li-ion Motors received 2.5 million dollars. The miles per gallon is 187.




The E-Tracer created by X-Tracer also received 2.5 million dollars. The miles you can go on one charge is (whew!) 250.



I'm not a "car person". In fact, I really don't like engines, hate fussing with anything beyond the seats, and don't tend to get fond of vehicles in general. But there is something cool about energy-efficient, innovative cars, don't you think?

More links:
Enhanced by Zemanta

16 September, 2010

Random Levels of Verisimilitude

I always wondered why Mayday is the term people use when in danger. I just found out that it's actually the phonetic spelling of the French word m'aidez which means Help Me. It's the Englified version.

AHA! I had no idea that's what it came from before.

*****

I suppose knowing the origins of Mayday is rather irrelevant since I probably (hopefully) won't be using it anytime soon, but I like learning little random facts . . .

You know those phrases that sometimes get stuck in your head so bad they just. Won't. Go. Away? Currently I'm trying to wrangle with an earworm that goes like this: "When in danger or in doubt, run in circles scream and shout!"

And, consequently, I am spontaneously half-coughing half-snorting because that is just so ridiculous. Also, TANSTAAFL is starting to work its way into my head. (I'm reading The Cat Who Walks Through Walls--that's what those phrases are from. The whole book is cracking me up. If there's one thing I find funny it's people getting thrown into improbable situations and trying to act reasonable.)

*****

Why did I choose that title, you're wondering? Because I like the word "verisimilitude". It's a long, multi-syllable word and I love long, multi-syllable words. Perhaps the usage isn't quite right--well, ha! When it comes to blog titles, I'm open to occasionally bending the rules. Hey, it's not like the American Heritage Dictionary over there is going to attack me, right?

AHD: CHOMP.
Eagle: OUCH!
AHD: That's what you get for not properly analyzing my definitions!
Eagle: FYI I probably use Wikipedia more than I do you! I even linked to Wikipedia! *turns to computer*

*cue sad, sorrowful music*

AHD: *sniffle* No one lo-o-oves me a-n-n-ymo-o-o-re! *sob*
Eagle: Hey. I loves you, Dictionary. I just wish you had words that are . . . more modern. Then I'd use you more.
AHD: I can't help that!
Eagle: I know.
AHD: Then why are you picking on me?! I'm traditional. I have character, even if I'm missing my spine and front cover!
Eagle: There, there.

*****

Rain, rain, RAIN. I haven't gone outside today because of it. I don't mind rain or anything--it's just that I don't go outside just to soak it up . . . at least not when there is a huge, delicious, need-to-be-read TBR pile next to my bed. (Rhyme unintentional.) And 17 of them are due back on the 18th! I've barely read half! See what I've got to face here?!

Hehe. I'll get through 'em somehow. Even if I'm forced to speed-read and absorb less than I'd like to.

*****

Tax cuts. Very testy subject these days but I'm going to address them anyways. (Shoot me an email with complaints if you want to by the time I'm done.) In my opinion, they should just let the Bush Tax Cuts expire. It's only a 4% hike, you know. And even if you and your spouse are making over 250,000 dollars a year and 4% adds up to the original 35%, it's actually fairly little compared to the total income. It's 10,000 dollars if you are making exactly 250,000 (unlikely) but still, it's only 4% more. For the top 2% of Americans. (You can't deny that! Very few make that much.)

And, actually, we need this money.

Before you say "This is because we're spending so much!"--hold! The debt has to go up before it can go down, you know. We may try to fix it and patch it as much as we like, but stimuluses are needed. Reform is needed. That costs money, and there's really no better time to fix things then here and now. Because when times are good, no one wants to fix it. "Why mess with a good thing" comes into play--even if the system totally doesn't work at the time since it's perceived as functioning adequately due to the good times.

*****

My post is over. Have a good night!

-----The Golden Eagle