28 September, 2012

If You Had To Avoid A Common Literary Technique, Which Would It Be?

By Jonathan Joseph Bondhus, CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
And what I mean by "common literary technique" can best be explained by examples: How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff, which has no dialogue; Gadsby, which has no letter "e"s; the multitude of books that don't have an actual main character/protagonist (per se); the many novels that have no chapter breaks or even scene divisions; the stories that never give the main character a name; books written in only dialogue with no explicit author voice.

Personally, I think it would be quite interesting to try writing a story without any references at all to the setting. I love setting--my favorite genre is (as you probably already know already) Science Fiction, with Fantasy very close behind--but working only with characters could be a worthwhile experiment. Haven't tried it yet, but who knows. I might.

What do you think? Would you ever try breaking the rules this way? Have you already tried, and if so, how did it work out?


Also: I know I've been relatively inactive in the blogosphere recently. A busier schedule--including, just this week, a stint of visits to the doctor, plus a cold (the latter of which is possibly related to visiting the hospital three days in a row despite getting a flu vaccine; or maybe my cold is because of the flu vaccine)--has confused my blogging time, but I'll try to stick to a better regimen so I can get back to reading your blogs on a regular basis.

And in case you're wondering, yes, test results were negative and I'm fine. Except for consuming too many cough drops.


-----The Golden Eagle

25 September, 2012

Teaser Tuesday (91)

Teaser Tuesday is a meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. It's weekly and bookish, and is great for finding new books for the never-ending TBR pile.

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 Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. I'd meant to finish reading it by the end of summer, but Don Quixote got in my way for a very long time.

There is lots and lots of drama in Anna Karenina, but 387 pages in, I keep expecting more. At least the plot of War and Peace was actually punctuated by something, even if that thing was war. Oh well. Maybe my opinion will change by the time I'm done with it.


They knew that he was afraid of everything, afraid of riding an army horse; but now, precisely because it was scary, because people broke their necks, and because by each obstacle there was a doctor, an ambulance wagon with a cross sewn on it and a sister of mercy, he had decided to ride. Their eyes met, and Vronsky winked at him gently and approvingly.
-p. 195

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What are you reading now?

Ever read Anna Karenina or War and Peace? If so, what did you think? If not, do you plan on reading them?


-----The Golden Eagle

18 September, 2012

Kismet Blog Tour: Guest Post: Why I Decided To Self Publish

Last Thursday I posted the cover for Beth Fred's Kismet. Today, I have a guest post by the author about why she decided to self publish.

Take it away, Beth!

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Eagle, thanks for having me today.

For me, deciding to self publish was a bit of a process. It’s something I always wanted to do, but never had the confidence for. Then I wrote a really cute "sweet romance." It got full requests and revision requests from multiple small presses. I vented about the revision requests as they came in, took a week to think, made the revisions and responded. But then I started getting round 2 requests for revisions, and at this point was un-changing things. True, it’s because each editor is looking for something different, so something one editor had me changed another liked, but still, it was maddening. And in addition to un-changing things, there were new changes that I didn’t agree with. Royalties have always been higher self publishing. Big publishers don’t buy short stories, and marketing budgets are about the same for a self published author and an author with a small press. And it allowed me greater controlled. I did un-change things, because I wanted to. I changed something no one told me to. And I didn’t change anything else. I wrote a beautiful story that could have perpetually changed or stayed dormant on my hard drive. Instead, I’m sharing it with the world, still intact. I hope people enjoy Kismet.


About Kismet:
When twenty-four-year-old Tiffany escapes her sister Kammy's too wild Cancun bachelorette party, she finds herself in a bar with the unwanted attention of a gorgeous local named Luke.
   Luke may be charming but Tiffany is leaving in two days and doesn't need any complications. But complications are exactly what she gets when the cops show up to raid Kammy's party. After Kammy is arrested, Tiffany agrees to have dinner with Luke, so he'll help her get Kammy out of jail. Kammy's arrest forces her to spend an extra day in Cancun, meaning she'll miss a crucial meeting, and as an accountant in tax season, she is already drowning in work. Not to mention, every second she spends with Luke makes it harder to leave. With Luke, Tiffany can forget about work.
   But will the airport be their final goodbye?

And for a limited time it includes an excerpt from best selling author Lizzy Ford! Available at amazon, B&N, and Smashwords.   

About Beth Fred:
Beth Fred lives in Wisconsin with her husband and their little ELF (Emily Lace Fred). She spends her time bringing her day dreams to life on paper, and blogging about bringing day dreams to life. You can find more about that at www.bethfred.com.

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Any of you considering self-publishing? Have you already self-published your work? If you're a writer who's gone the traditional route, would you ever try self-publishing?


-----The Golden Eagle

17 September, 2012

Genre Favorites Blogfest

The Genre Favorites Blogfest is hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh, and the rules are simple:
One blogfest, four favorites!
List your favorite genre of:

Movie
Music
Books
And a guilty pleasure genre from any of the three categories!

My favorites:


Movies: Fantasy
I was going to say Science Fiction for this category . . . but then I realized that a lot of my favorite movies (The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter) are Fantasy. I've seen more Fantasy than SF.

Music: Classical
I do like some contemporary music. But classical is the type I can listen to non-stop, and there are so many amazing composers/works that have emerged over hundreds of years.

Books: Science Fiction
Would you believe I used to somewhat avoid SF? I'm not really sure why . . . but most of my reading was Fantasy/Contemporary before I began writing my first novel, which was inspired by a Science Fiction book. And now I'm a bit obsessed with the genre.

Guilty Pleasure: Books: Young Adult Dystopian
I suppose you could put this under Science Fiction, but Dystopian (particularly YA Dystopian) has its own distinct traits. The genre can be very formulaic, predictable, and after reading too much of it I begin to feel like the future is a mire of hopeless politics and oppression (not to say that current events are full of sunshine and optimism, of course), but I do enjoy the character development that usually comes with the protagonist's refutation of their world's rules.


What's one of your favorite genres from the above categories?


-----The Golden Eagle

13 September, 2012

Kismet Cover Reveal + What's Your Favorite Book-to-Screen Adaptation?

First, a cover reveal. Last Tuesday, Beth Fred released the cover for her new book Kismet. I had actually meant to post about it on Tuesday, but managed to forget the date. *facepalm* But without further ado from me, here's the cover!

Blurb:
Tiffany is a hard-working accountant with no time for love. After escaping her sister's too wild Cancun bachelorette party, she meets a local guy, Luke, in the bar. When they're forced to spend time together, Tiffany lets her guard down, but she still has to return to the US in two days. Will the airport be their final goodbye?

Purchase links:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Smashwords

About Beth Fred:
Beth Fred lives in Wisconsin with her husband and their little ELF (Emily Lace Fred). She spends her time bringing her day dreams to life on paper, and blogging about bringing day dreams to life. You can find more about that at www.bethfred.com.

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And second, a question:

Out of all the thousands of screen adaptation of books, which interpretation(s) have you enjoyed the most?

After posting last week about the pros and cons of a recent Sherlock Holmes movie and a TV show, it got me thinking. Personally, I would have to say The Lord of the Rings and the Harry Potter movies are at the top of my list . . . but what about you? Any classics you could watch again and again?


-----The Golden Eagle

11 September, 2012

Teaser Tuesday (90)

But first, I'd like to take a moment to honor those who died on 9/11/01, 11 years ago.

9/11 memorial, public domain image, by Luigi Novi.


Never forget.


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And now, for the more trivial part of today's post. Teaser Tuesday is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading and is a weekly, bookish meme.

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, I'm actually still reading The Honourable Schoolboy (because my reading pace has tanked in the past few months . . . must work on that) but I'm posting a teaser from the next book on my TBR pile, Ports of Call by Jack Vance, since repeats are boring and THS has a particularly uninteresting cover; also, I've semi-started Ports of Call.

I don't usually hunt down people who've held particular positions (in his case, being a Grand Master of Science Fiction) but after watching this video, I thought, I have got to read a book by Jack Vance. The library system had Ports of Call.

(This cover reminds me very strongly of Star Trek: The Original Series, due to its overall quirkiness and the women. Dear Science Fiction, I love you, but must all your older stories have strange covers?)

Myron, using the full scope of his dignity, stated that, naturally, he would do his best to gratify her demands. However, said Myron, she should realize that they had now entered a relatively remote section of the Reach, and that the worlds of high sophistication and urbanized culture were for the most part far astern.
-p. 67

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What are you reading? Got a teaser? What's the weirdest book cover you've ever seen? (And was it Science Fiction?)


-----The Golden Eagle

06 September, 2012

Sherlock Holmes

You may or may not know this, but I am a huge fan of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories. Consequently, I find the recent spate of film adaptations of the series rather interesting; while there is, of course, plenty of room to mess up his character, a good adaptation of a favorite writer's work is always welcome.

The two versions that seem to be getting the most attention these days are the movie Sherlock Holmes with Robert Downey, Jr. and the BBC TV series Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch. So, curious, I went and watched the first movie and Season One. (Have yet to see the sequels A Game of Shadows or Season Two, mind.)

Note: This post contains ruminations on the details of both, so if you call character analyses spoilers, consider yourself warned.

Also: This post is over 1000 words long. I'd apologize, but I've been stewing over this for a while and have really wanted to blog about it. Here's a link to a video of the simulated evolution of the universe instead if you'd just like to move on to something more interesting than me rambling about mystery fiction. Or, you can just skip to the end questions. I welcome your comments both on Sherlock Holmes and/or the universe. :)

First, in case you don't know much about the adaptations, the movie is set in the Victorian era (as with the stories) and the TV series is set in the present-day--and the two different adaptations seem to have sparked an internet flame war over which was closer to the original. They did this wrong, that wrong, Doyle's Holmes would never have done such a thing, they've corrupted the Holmesian deduction, etc., etc.

I'm not a purist when it comes to taking a work to the screen, but there are some things about Holmes you can't change without turning him into a completely different detective: viz., his legendary deduction.

Both adaptations used the deduction differently. The movie presented a scene with Holmes deducting as slow-motion with a voice over, explaining what he saw and then replaying the scene in real-time, which I found fascinating to watch: There seems to be nothing remarkable happening as the blanks are filled out, until you realize he's predicting everything that's about to occur and processing it much, much faster than a normal person could. The TV series, on the other hand, used text instead, spelling out Holmes' thoughts. Most of time, he also explained everything to the people standing by in a rapid-fire summary of reasons why he'd made the conclusions he did.

Both, in my view, did a pretty good job with Holmes' thought process. It's the rest of his personality--and who they cast as Watson--that makes the difference.




Robert Downey, Jr.'s Sherlock Holmes is zany and brilliant, successfully bringing in the original's apparent randomness and dramatic flair. He's a bit too random and overly energetic, but he's also humorous and avoids being cold, distant, and inaccessible.

Furthermore, there was some great interplay between him and Watson (Jude Law), and Watson was a much more 3-dimensional character in his own right: Capable of deducing some things on his own and actually standing his ground in a conversation with Holmes. He's not really a bumbling sidekick, which I appreciated, because characters who stick around just to make the main figure look good get annoying pretty fast.




Benedict Cumberbatch's Holmes, on the other hand, is cold and cutting. He's closer to the original in his part as the indifferent, calculating genius who dominates everyone and hasn't a care in the world for other people's perceptions of him--or for other individuals, really. A self-proclaimed "high-functioning sociopath" (though check out this post for reasons why, precisely, he's not a sociopath) there's minimal or zero regard for the actual lives of the people involved with the cases he takes on. It's the chase, the game, the thrill of the intellectual challenge that keeps his interest. The series emphasizes the negatives of Holmes more than the positives, and makes him more uncaring.

Watson (Martin Freeman) is also more like the John Watson of Doyle's stories: Sticks to Holmes almost all the time, doesn't do very well on his own, and is easily shut up. Though there are some funny exchanges between the two characters, he doesn't have quite the spunk of the movie. (The last ten seconds of each of the above trailers illustrates this difference pretty well.)

The two adaptations are, basically, aiming for a different kind of Holmes. Both are brilliant detectives and both solve the case with unique reasoning--but the movie heads for an accessible, more lovable version, while the series goes for the darker, sharper take.

Then there's plot. The movie is almost completely unrelated to the original (except for some dialogue and deductions), following a plot that was certainly not one of Doyle's. The last two episodes of Season One of the TV series (there are three, total) also have a main storyline that's different from the source material, but overall, the series is much more strongly linked to the stories--and the first episode (A Study in Pink) follows a similar plot as A Study in Scarlet, from the pills down to Watson's first meeting with Holmes, and even the second and third have numerous references to various stories.

And, finally, setting. Of course, placing a Sherlock Holmes story in the time period when Doyle was living can certainly help the integrity of an adaptation, and I do think the movie pulled it off quite well. Seeing Holmes using modern-day technology, however, was novel, and changed the nature of his deductions in interesting ways--though, and I'm not the first person to say this, when it comes to a character like Holmes, it's more the man than the setting that matters.

Overall, the series made the greater impression on me. The movie was great, really, but it didn't seem quite as close to the original Holmes, and everything felt tighter and clearer in the series: The plot, the setting, and above all, the characters. I'd recommend watching both adaptations, but the series more so.

And one final point that I thought the movie actually handled better than the series: Women. Sherlock Holmes is a bit of a misogynist in the stories (not that this is the only problem with the stories; there are several points that don't translate well to today), but I was kind of hoping they'd make him a little more modern.

The movie, at least, gave Irene Adler the spotlight and had her doing some significant things. Oh, sure, she's another femme fatale, but she does have a brain, even if she usually uses it for crime. All the women in the TV series, however, were unimpressive (barring Mrs. Hudson, who is such an amusing landlady). In The Blind Banker I thought they were about to make a strong female character out of John's girlfriend, but no. Soon she was playing the damsel in distress with nothing particularly redeeming happening afterwards.

(I take that Irene Adler makes an appearance in Season Two, but, and though I shouldn't judge the episode before I actually see it, I can't say the trailers look promising. Sigh. The one woman Holmes ever respected, and they make her his stereotypical downfall (well, almost--no one gets the better of him in the end, of course).)


Seen any Sherlock Holmes adaptations? If so, which one(s), and what did you think? If you've seen the movie and the TV series, which do you think was the better adaptation?

(And in case this combines fandoms you're interested in, I had a great time laughing at this collection of Wholock (Sherlock and Doctor Who). Makes sense, too, since Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss have worked on both series.)


-----The Golden Eagle

05 September, 2012

Combating Outside Influences: An IWSG Post

The Insecure Writer's Support Group, founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh, is here again! This monthly event, in case you haven't heard of it before, is a day when writers across the blogosphere post about their insecurities, worries, problems, questions, and other things that quietly undermine their writing efforts.

You've probably guessed my issue from the title.

Sometimes, I think I should avoid everything like the plague and hide in a cave when I'm working on a project. It can be so easy for another person's style to influence what I'm trying to do, or for a concept from another work to slip itself into one of my projects, or for a plot twist to emerge in a slightly-different form. Not as a conscious decision, of course, but because my imagination liked the idea and thought "Hey! Let's do it again!" without proper authorization.

Problem is, I like to read (and watch things) when I'm writing a story. I feel more creative when I'm absorbing other fiction, finding out what other people are doing in their genres--you know, actually being a consumer. Hence, the conflict between wanting to experience the good ideas but not wanting to unwittingly copy them into my own projects. It's only on very rare occasions that I actually want someone else's style to leak through into my own.

Do you find outside influences to be a problem when you're writing? Developed any methods of avoiding them from getting into your own projects?


-----The Golden Eagle

04 September, 2012

Teaser Tuesday (89)

Teaser Tuesday is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading and is a weekly, bookish meme; and I'm afraid this time you're back to boring old me after C. Lee McKenzie posted her fabulous teasers last week.

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 Honourable Schoolboy by John le Carré, sequel to Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and part of the Karla Trilogy. Spy novels are not my typical reads of choice, but I really like le Carré's writing style: It's dense, complicated, and the wording is unusual, and I just love moving through it slowly, paying attention to the details. You really have to do that, too, because each sentence means something. I re-read a scene I'd sort of skimmed when I was in a hurry and got a completely different impression of what was going on.


Meanwhile, sometimes with Guillam for company, sometimes with silent Fawn to baby-sit, Smiley conducted his own dark peregrinations and marched till he was half dead with tiredness. And, still without reward, kept marching.
-p. 56

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What are you reading now? Got a teaser to share? Read anything lately that's unusual compared to the genres you normally check out?


-----The Golden Eagle