31 December, 2011

Here's To The New Year

The last day of 2011 has arrived, and out goes another year.

It feels like it was the beginning of 2011 just a few months ago . . . though in other ways it doesn't feel like it's gone that fast at all.

I've had a pretty good year. There were downs and there were ups, but some cool things happened and the bad could have been worse. There were a lot of unexpected things that I am grateful I got to experience; like finishing my first novel and writing two others, going to my first dance competition, passing a series of tests I had been worried about, getting to know some nice people.

And, of course, there's been the blogging. Blogfests (sometime I'd like to go back and count them all . . .), the A-Z Challenge (yup, I'm planning to do it next year as well), REN3 (let's give another shout-out to the great hosts), Terry Pratchett Month in September (glad to know there are other fans out there), going through NaNoWriMo with the other writers in the blogosphere, and just generally watching as people traverse their own ups and down, reach their goals, do interesting things. You people are amazing, and I'm honored to get the chance to know you, if even just through blog posts.

How was your year?

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Finally . . .

I hope you have an awesome 2012!


-----The Golden Eagle

29 December, 2011

The Great Comments Award

Back in early December, I was awarded by Jenna Quentin at Meandering in a Field of Words and Richard at Writing and Living with Richard P. Hughes with the Great Comments Award:


. . . and I figured it was time I got around to awarding the commenters here on my blog. Now, the rules are to pass it on to the most recent 20 commenters--but because I was awarded twice, I haven't awarded anyone else in a while, and hey, it's still the holiday season (kinda; to me it ends on New Year's Day) I've decided to list the 40 most recent commenters instead.

Here we go (in no particular order other than recent to oldest):

  1. Heather
  2. Jemi Fraser
  3. ....Petty Witter
  4. Paul Tobin
  5. Medeia Sharif
  6. Shelley
  7. Sun Singer
  8. Sarah Allen
  9. Jules
  10. Belle
  11. Shannon Lawrence
  12. Tricia J. O'Brien
  13. Charles Gramlich
  14. Sharon K. Mayhew
  15. Krispy
  16. farawayeyes
  17. Rebecca
  18. Old Kitty
  19. cherie
  20. Emily Rose
  21. C D Meetens
  22. Michael Offutt, Supra-Genius
  23. Vicki Newell
  24. J. A. Bennett
  25. Cherie Reich
  26. Lisa-Marie Jordan
  27. Brian
  28. Andrea Franco-Cook
  29. Christine Rains
  30. kelworthfiles
  31. Catherine M. Johnson
  32. Joshua
  33. Alyssa Kirk
  34. Melissa Bradley
  35. DeniseCovey_L'Aussie
  36. Rachel Morgan
  37. Misha Gericke
  38. Beth
  39. Murees Dupé
  40. Pearson Report


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And for everyone who's come by The Eagle's Aerial Perspective and read my posts: a big thank you!


-----The Golden Eagle

27 December, 2011

Teaser Tuesday (66)

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly, bookish meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.

Rules for participation:

  • 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!


This week my teaser is from The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I finished it yesterday, but it's quite good and I'm not reading anything else I haven't already given you a teaser from.

(I love the way it looks like a paper cut-out; though it would have fit the story better if there had been no red at all and just black and white. Not that I'm really complaining.)

Isobel sits in a rarely occupied chair in the corner of Marco's flat, a rainbow of silk ribbon twisted around her fingers as she attempts in vain to form it into a single elaborate braid.
   "This seems so silly," she remarks, frowning at the tangle of ribbon.
   "It's a simple charm," Marco says from his desk where he sits surrounded by open books. "A ribbon for each element, bound with knots and intent. It's like your cards, only influencing the subject instead of simply divining its meaning. But it won't work if you don't believe it will, you know that."
-p. 40

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Have a teaser, or thoughts on the book you're reading?


-----The Golden Eagle

23 December, 2011

I Finished My Novel! (And Other Random Stuff)

At 74,696 words, my NaNoWriMo novel is DONE.

It's my third completed project of the year, and that includes the first story I ever actually finished. I also made a new personal record: one full-length novel in 53 days, of which over 50k was for NaNoWriMo.

Right now, I'm just going to be relieved I finished the project, and I'll worry about rewrites and eliminating the word-vomit and so forth in 2012. Not just because I need some time for the novel to stew, but because I'm afraid I got a bit sick of the plot and characters by the end . . . not to mention the setting. The setting's a disaster.

But it's done, after all. Goodbye, novel, until next time!

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In other news, today is my birthday.

So, have I accomplished things in the last year? Yes. Have I done as much as I'd hoped to do? I met some of my goals, didn't meet others. Overall, though, I'd say it was a pretty good year.

And now another one's about to swing around . . .

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Have you seen The Hobbit trailer yet?


Sigh. I'd say I hope December 2012 comes fast, but then the year will rush by and I'll regret it. :P

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Finally, I'd like to wish all of you a Happy Holidays, whatever it may be that you celebrate. Have a wonderful end-of-December and a joyous new year, everyone!


-----The Golden Eagle

21 December, 2011

On YA Fiction: Political Messages

Recently, I've been noticing a trend in Young Adult, particularly in Science Fiction and its sub-genres Dystopian/Futuristic Fiction. There seem to be more and more books that revolve around a central political idea: over-reaching government.

Take Matched by Allie Condie, Possession by Elana Johnson, The Giver by Lois Lowry, The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness, Birthmarked by Caragh O'Brien, Delirium by Lauren Oliver, The Maze Runner by James Dashner, Gone by Michael Grant, Little Brother and For the Win by Cory Doctorow, The Tomorrow Code by Brian Falkner, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and I could come up with others if I had more time. I'd also mention Divergent by Veronica Roth and Wither by Lauren Destefano, since they seem to be political based on their blurbs, but I haven't read those yet so I can't say for sure.

As you may have noticed, many of those are quite popular (*cough*The Hunger Games*cough*), and in addition, many of them seem to be rather anti-government. The Giver by Lois Lowry seems to be the exception, though it could still be taken as anti-government, since POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT one of the central characters is influential in preventing pain within the city--this, of course, also leads to more control, but everyone besides a certain few are oblivious to suffering.


Another element that repeats itself is revolutionaries/the resistance. In almost all of the above books, the main character joins or helps an organization (whether paramilitary or not) that, in turn, has some kind of showdown with the omnipresent government.

Now, while I don't mind politics in books, the constant battering of "Government Is Evil!" is beginning to make me wonder why it's cropping up so often.

Is it the political climate today, with a bad economy, constant protests, the Arab Spring, the war in Afghanistan and very recently Iraq? Is it a response to the perceived "rise of China" and Communism, the nuclear capabilities of other countries that might not have the Western world's best interests in mind?

Or is that reading too much of it, and it's just an attempt to appeal to teenagers that feel oppressed by their peers, their parents, society in general? But then again, it's not just teenagers reading YA; it attracts a wide range of readers.


What do you think?

And do you mind politics in the books you read? Is it something you're attracted or repelled by, in general?


-----The Golden Eagle

20 December, 2011

Teaser Tuesday (65)

Hello, everyone! It's time for Teaser Tuesday, a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.

Rules:
  • 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!

This week, my teaser is from a non-fiction book. A.) Because I'm not really reading fiction at the moment and B.) The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee is an excellent book. Plus, it was either this or Information Architecture, and I thought this might be a little less . . . dry.


A patient, long before he becomes the subject of medical scrutiny, is, at first, simply a storyteller, a narrator of suffering--a traveler who has visited the kingdom of the ill. To relieve an illness, one must begin, then, by unburdening its story.

-p. 46

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Got a teaser, or thoughts on the book you're reading?


-----The Golden Eagle

16 December, 2011

Deja Vu Blogfest: Signs You May Have The Writing Syndrome

About this blogfest:
On December 16th all of those taking part will re-post their favorite blog offering, or one that never received the exposure it should have. Then as the day unfolds and everyone hops from one blog to another, what they will be reading is the best of the best (as determined by you). That day the blogosphere will be chock full of past writing brilliance!



It took me a while to decide on a good post to give you here. But I finally decided, so here it is--enjoy!

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Signs You May Have the Writing Syndrome:


1. You enjoy reading books beyond what is considered normal or socially acceptable.

2. You have conversations with imaginary people in imaginary situations and who, you imagine, talk back to you and among each other.

3. You scrutinize human behavior and wonder why people do the things they do.

4. You get the urge to write things down on anything in sight when a new idea pops into your head.

5. You often fluctuate between ecstatic--as the new idea arrives in your head--and as frustrated as heck as you try to figure out what to do with the new idea.

6. You can occasionally be found talking aloud when the nearest living being is a plant.

7. You sometimes drift out of conversations to ponder the reasons behind one of the imaginary people or that new idea.

8. You go online and look up the sites of authors because you want to read their FAQs about the writing process and getting published.

9. You start analyzing the books you read and wonder how you would have done it better.

10. In the most severe cases, you actually start pouring forth words in quantities greater than that of a shopping list and create something with what's known as a plot.

If you can say you do more than three of the above, you have the Writing Syndrome.

There is no known cure. Unfortunately, the only words available are:

Welcome to the club.


-----The Golden Eagle

14 December, 2011

Google, I'd Like To Have A Word. NOW.

I subscribe to a lot of blogs. Until quite recently, I had many feeds that weren't assigned to specific folders in Google Reader; I was slowly (but surely) organizing them, unsubscribing from blogs that weren't updating, etc., etc.; overall, getting things in order. It was going quite well.


Until Google Reader decided to eliminate all the unassigned subscriptions I hadn't gotten around to yet. Which means I've lost who knows how many blog feeds (certainly over one hundred) that I have no way of recovering, since Blogger's Dashboard stopped working for me and I don't keep track of which blogs I follow.

Because I'd depended on Google Reader's feature that automatically adds Blogger blogs when you follow them, unassigned or not.

ARGH.


I wouldn't be so irritated if I knew why it had happened. I thought perhaps the impending cut to Google Friend Connect for non-Blogger blogs was the cause, but that doesn't make sense, because I don't think all those lost subscriptions were for non-Blogger blogs.

So I don't know.

Has Google Reader kept your unassigned subscriptions? (And if you still have some, I'd suggest going through them and determining which ones you want to keep. Just so this doesn't happen to you as well.)


Have you ever had any problems with the service?


-----The Golden Eagle

13 December, 2011

Teaser Tuesday (64)

This weekly, bookish meme is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.

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!

This week my teaser is from The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness.

(I love the covers to the Chaos Walking Series. I used to think they were a bit strange (sloppy-looking, even) with words scattered across the front and the font of the title, but after having read them it makes much more sense.)

"Calm yourself, my girl."
   A voice--
   In the brightness--
   I blink open my eyes. Everything is a pure white so bright it's almost a sound and there's a voice out there in it and my head is groggy and there's a pain in my side and it's too bright and I can't think--
   Wait--
-p. 71

And yes, the entire book is written in that stream-of-consciousness way. It's a bit interesting to me, because the Chaos Walking series is the first I've read in this style . . . after I finished my own novel that's also stream-of-consciousness. Huh. I'm not sure if I should feel bolstered or irritated.

**********

Have a teaser, or thoughts on the book you're reading?


-----The Golden Eagle

10 December, 2011

Are You Watching The Eclipse?

It's happening right now. And if you don't happen to live where the lunar eclipse is visible (why oh why did the sun have to come up today? Okay, just kidding) I've got the live feed at the top of my blog. You can also go HERE to see it.

Sigh. I do wish I could see it in person . . . and it's the last lunar eclipse until 2014.


-----The Golden Eagle

07 December, 2011

Insecure Writer's Support Group: Reading What Came Before


For the last blogfest I participated in, I remembered a character I'd used in a previous flash fiction challenge. Since I thought there was potential in writing from her perspective again, I went back and opened the file for the story, just to refresh my memory.

Oh, horror.

There were typos, the plot was odd, and the overall tone was just ridiculous. The character sounded too young, parts of what she said didn't make sense, and I really should have cut to the chase a bit faster.

That's what usually happens when I read something I haven't thought about for long, or didn't spend a lot of time editing. Some of my writing I can look at without cringing, but the rest of it . . . well, the rest of it shouldn't see the light of day. In fact, I'd be happy if it tumbled into a deep underground abyss that I'd forgotten the location of.

I try to avoid running into this. That's why you'll find me pre-writing flash fiction posts a day or several days before the actual event--or at least trying to. (The above example was written on a bit of inspiration and posted the same day.) That's also why the idea of having a a critique partner read chapters as they come out (which, I gather, some people do) scares me. I rarely if ever write something good on the first try.

Does this happen to you? How do you make sure what you write one day won't seem completely out of whack the next? And do you ever read your own writing for fun?

**********

Also, I'm guest posting today at Stuart Nager's blog Born Storyteller, about creativity. I hope you'll stop by!

-----The Golden Eagle

06 December, 2011

Teaser Tuesday (63)

Teaser Tuesday is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.

Rules:
  • 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!

This week, my teaser is from The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson. I have mixed feelings about his book so far (which particularly saddens me because I'd really looked forward to it when I saw Tamora Pierce's review). While the main character's personality is quite different from that of most Fantasy leads, and I love that she's unique, I can't really get attached to the plot or the setting. Furthermore, the beginning seems to be moving very slowly . . . hopefully that will pick up later.


(Again, mixed feelings seems to be my mantra. I love the flowers/trees along the corners of the book, and the lettering is to die for, but I don't like the face within the gem.)
Cosmé gapes at me like I've swallowed a scorpion. I try not to look too smug. Not only will such a task take her all day in this empty, barren place, it will give her something harmless to blather passionately about.
-p. 67

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Have a teaser, or thoughts on the book you're reading?


-----The Golden Eagle

05 December, 2011

The Cool As Cucumber Blogfest

Madeleine at Scribble and Edit is hosting a blogfest today, based on the idea of using something writers are often told to avoid: cliches. I thought it was an intriguing idea, so I signed up.



About:

Liberally sprinkle your entries with well placed clichés or make them the twist to your tale.

Make it the twist on the punch line to your story. Or make it a witty observation: e.g. Rachel's Holiday by Marion Keyes (1997) He kept touching his hair, which, as well as being dyed to within an inch of its life, was blow dried flicked and rigid with spray.

You may choose whichever idiom you like, such as 'The cat that got the cream'; 'As cool as a cucumber'; 'As good as gold', 'Kick the bucket'. Max 400 words for Flash Fiction.

**********

I decided to go with "sprinkling" my entry with cliches instead of making mine the punch line.

Here it is:


“This ain’t worth the paper it’s written on.”
   The Lieutenant tossed the sheets at my feet. I just looked at him, fury and embarrassment turning my face red and hot.
   “Why’re you staring at me, girl? Get out. You’re useless,” he said.
   I bit down the snarl in my throat and snatched up the papers, clenching my hand and crumpling the smooth cream-colored sheets. The heading CLASSIFIED seemed to taunt me, a bold and black statement that embodied the stupid move I’d made.
   “Anyone ever told you not to look a gift horse in the mouth?” the man called, as my boots tapped on the floor of his office, carrying me away as fast as they could go without running. I didn’t reply as the steel doors to his office slammed shut behind me.
   “Well?” my buddy Roger asked, catching up as I charged away.
   “I was an idiot. The Lieutenant threw it in my face, and he’s right,” I said.
   I’d been wrong attempting to scare up evidence that the Captain of the ship—the only man the Empress trusted—was a traitor, a defector to the invaders at our borders.
   He’d been the one to take me on as crew aboard the starship, and I had him to thank for my position in the ranks. That’s what the Lieutenant had meant by “gift horse”.
   Did that mean the Captain was innocent? I hadn’t thought so. But the evidence—I couldn’t believe I’d been so naïve to judge a man like the Captain—was a desperate stringing together of events that would have been random. Unless you were someone like me, of course, searching for a conspiracy.
   I tossed away the paper.
   Roger shrugged. “Seemed pretty solid evidence to me.”
   “I was wrong.”
   “How do you know?”
   “I just do. Look, Roger, right now I don’t give a damn. I’ll be lucky if the Captain—”
   “What was that about me?”
   Roger and I froze.
   The Captain himself stood in the hallway, smiling strangely. He held up the paper I’d discarded and my stomach plummeted through the floor.
   “My my, Georgie,” he said, flipping through the sheets, “this is critical.”
   He met my gaze, his expression hard. I imagined it must be the look he gave his enemies in battle.
   “But let’s not beat around the bush, shall we? You are correct. I am a traitor to the Empire.”

(400 words)

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What do you think?

The winner of this blogfest will be determined by vote, so don't forget to head over to Madeleine's blog and vote for your favorite entry!


-----The Golden Eagle

04 December, 2011

When Reading A Good Book . . .

. . . the conversation in my head is liable to be something like this:

"You really should be doing something else."
"Like what? Something exciting just happened to the main character!"
"Like blogging. You haven't been blogging enough."
"Monday. I'll catch up on Monday. Besides, there's still plenty of time today to return comments."
"Or writing. When was the last time you wrote? A week ago?"
"I'll have you know it was a perfectly respectable . . . um, ah, six days ago."
"See? And you wanted to have this book done later this month! You've still got a lot of plot to go!"
"But I want to know what happens."
"And you have stuff to edit. And you wanted to start working on that new project about--"
"It's taboo to mention it now! The inspiration will die!"
"My point is, the book will still be there later. You got it at the library yesterday. You still have 20 days with it, and that's without renewing."
"Are you crazy? The character just . . .!"
"Just what?"
"Never mind."
"You're overexcited. Get off that bed and do something productive."
"Reading is productive."
"Possibly, and that's in the eyes of the party involved, not outside observers. Just get up, will you? Or I'll start spilling the beans on that new project idea--"
"NO. Don't mention it!"
"Then get up."
"Darn you. This is a suspenseful book!"
"In which we return to my original point, which is that it will not vanish if you set it down for a while."
"Sigh. I guess."
"Now write a blog post. You haven't done that in too long."
"I know, I know."
"And hammer out some more words, will you?"
"All right."

**********

Have you read any good books lately?


-----The Golden Eagle

01 December, 2011

Does A Lot Of Promotion In A Blurb Deter You?

Most books seem to follow this basic format when it comes to blurbs:

First line/the hook: distinguishes for the reader why this book is different, through tone/intriguing line/excerpt from the novel/etc.
First paragraph: introduces the characters, plot, and setting in a highly distilled form
Second/Third paragraph: tells a little about the consequences of the actions the MC(s) take(s)
Final Paragraph: promotional language about how excellent, riveting, and/or captivating the book is, plus some comments on the author's brilliant writing



That final paragraph is the one I'm wondering about. I have nothing against a bit of promotion, but for some books it's longer than the other contents of the blurb. In other cases the roles are reversed and the final paragraph becomes the first; the blurb starts out with promotion, and continues to go on and on about the author's talent and the book's significance.

It's in such cases as those when I become less and and less inclined to turn the page. I want to know what the book is about; who the character's are, what they're up against, whether I should look forward to hyperspace jumps or magic runes. In addition, while I find reviews by major reviewers such as The New York Times, Kirkus Reviews, Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) interesting in their own right, I don't really pay much attention to them when they're on the front flap; which is where they're placed for a lot of blurbs.

One exception to promotion is when I've read something by the author before. I wouldn't mind a paragraph about a writer I really liked in a blurb--though I still prefer it if they mention "NYT Bestselling Author" at the bottom, after the information about the story. A novel should stand on its own regardless of who wrote it.

What do you think? How much promotion is too much for you when you're browsing and looking for something to read?


-----The Golden Eagle