I realize I haven’t written anything on this blog for some time. I’ve tried a few times but never got to posting. Recently I’ve been trying to decide what would make this blog better and easier for me to use and others to read. I decided that I wanted to do a trial practice on Blogger.  I haven’t posted anything there yet but I have figured out how to add widgets from Goodreads which was one of my frustrations with WordPress. Basically, I think that my attempts on WordPress and Blogger are trials until I figure out the best way to post. For now check me out on Blogger at http://awriterlywight.blogspot.com/. For those that get their feeds through Facebook, I’ll try and figure out how to link the new site sometime later next week.



Alright folks!

In two days I’m embarking on an Amazing adventure. It’s called National November Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). This will be my first attempt and I’m really excited. I have a brand spanking new story I’m going to work on. It’s only a little sad because I know while I’m doing this I have to put my faery story on hold and not finish it this year like I had planned. But, I’m hoping that if I really settle down in to a writing regime then once November is over I will still be in hard core writing mode and be able to seriously work on Roren’s (the main character) story.

Since I have to do some major focusing I may not be able to do very much blog posting and reviews. I’ll have to cut back on reading and movie watching. Maybe up some workouts to get the brain flowing. I will however try to keep a weekly update of the word count and maybe post some links of interesting blogs or discoveries.

If you don’t know what NaNoWriMo is I suggest you check it out. Basically, you spend a month trying to reach a writing goal of 50,000 words. There is an online community to keep you going and give you helpful suggestions. Check out the webpage. NaNoWriMo was started by Chris Baty who also wrote a book to help with the process called No Plot, No Problem.

It looks like the Blood Red Pencil will be writing a couple of blogs about NaNo, http://bloodredpencil.blogspot.com/, and I’m sure there are lots of other excited bloggers gearing up for the month.

So for everyone else that is participating, good luck and see you on the other side!

And for those that will be checking in on this blog, stay tuned for some guest appearances of my friends!

This is Halloween!

Halloween is my favorite holiday. I love the decorations, I love dressing up, I love the food and the smells, I love the fall leaves and the smell of fall. It’s wonderful and unpredictable. I’ve actually been excited about Halloween since the beginning of September. I’ve got a few fun things planned, which include lots of festivities for the Law School. I’ve been looking up pumpkin recipes like pumpkin nog and fudge.

I’m trying to fit in two Halloween/scary novels this month. I finished Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein a week ago and my book club is reading The Heart-shaped Box.

I really enjoyed Frankenstein. It’s a great, dark Victorian novel and perfect for reading at this time of year. I was really surprised by how different this story was from the pop culture Frankenstein that I grew up with. For one thing, despite pop-culture references AND the cover on my book, there were no high tech mechanical devices and electricity from crazy lightening storms. I’ll let you find the other differences on your own 😉

Like Austen’s lead heroes, I thought Shelley’s main character was completely believable as a person with realistic desires and behaviors. That said, I also thought Victor Frankenstein was not that bright. I thought his desires to recreate life were believable; however, I was confused why, when the “creature” came to life Frankenstein was all of a sudden horrified.  He obviously had been looking at his creation the whole time he was working on it. I also was bothered that even though the monster told Frankenstein that he was coming after his bride on their wedding night, Frankenstein still thought that the monster was after him, not so much the bride, and instead of trying to protect the bride, he sent her up to her unchecked bedroom. What?! Still, I was pleasantly (or unpleasantly) surprised at the discoveries of the monster’s victims.

The monster in this novel, and the feel of the story, kind of reminded me of John Gardner’s Grendel, which I also recommend. Both characters were horrific yet relatable and interesting to follow.

What Halloween novels are you reading this month?

Jane Austen Lecture

I went to my very first Jane Austen lecture and I really enjoyed it. Sure, in my English class we were required to read Pride and Prejudice and I do recall my teacher talking about the switching of pride or prejudices between characters and then showing us a part of the BBC miniseries (with Colin Firth, of course) but I don’t think I was mentally ready to take it in at that time. I’m actually a late bloomer when it comes to literature. Yet, it makes the discoveries that much more exciting!

Just a couple quick confessions. I love, love, LOVE Jane Austen but sadly so far I have only read Persuasion (and loved it) and started a few of the others. I did, however shamefully, read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (I can get a little obsessive about zombies in comedy). I can honestly say I will probably not read another Jane Austen horror mash-up. It was an entertaining book and a fun idea at first but I quickly found myself wondering, “why don’t I just read the original” because it would be so much better. Don’t worry. I will read the original and love it!

Anyways, I digress. The lecture was given by Joan Klingel Ray PhD who wrote Jane Austen For Dummies. She was pretty fun to hear speak. Her slide show was a bit cartoonish but she got her points across. I’m hoping to pick up a copy sometime soon. The lecture was sponsored by the University of Wyoming Jane Austen Society, which I didn’t know existed, but they sent around a list to sign up for, I believe, the general Jane Austen Society of North America. There are regional J.A. Societies that you can get to from this site.

There were a lot of neat points that Klingel talked about regarding Jane Austen, her critics and her writing. There were, however, three key points about Austen’s writing that I took away – things I believe every writer should consider when writing.

  1. Every word that Austen uses is important. There are no throw aways in the dialogue or the narrative.
  2. All of Austen’s characters are normal everyday people who act in a normal everyday manner.
  3. Austen doesn’t really describe her characters physical attributes. But in her descriptions of how the characters behave and speak the reader is able to develop their own image of the characters.

I personally prefer at least a start of a description of the physical attributes of the characters but I agree with Klingel that Austen does an amazing job without it (in Persuasion) so it’s not something to overlook. What do you think regarding Austen and her style?

Banned Books Week

I spent Wednesday worrying about what I was going to write about this week and then it hit me, and I call myself a librarian? :\ So this week, or what’s left of it, is Banned Books Week. ALA, American Library Association, has a nice informative site about this week so I recommend checking it out for information on the Freedom to Read movement.

I could be more informative but it’s been a sick week for me. What I am going to do is provide ALA’s list of the top 100 banned and/or challenged novels of the 20th century, a slide show of top banned/challenged books for 2009 and a link to a post about an excellent book that is often challenged. I haven’t read near as many books on the banned books list as I should but I’m slowly going through it. The last one I read was The Great Gatsby, which I really enjoyed. I’m hoping to read Lady Chatterley’s Lover soon. Perhaps during Christmas break.

Here is a quick youtube clip of the Top Ten Banned and Challenged Books for 2009:

Here is a post I just discovered today about The Giver. I never read this book in school but after a couple of my coworkers at Coe Library raved about it I decided I had better read it. Whenever I hear this title brought up the people around me always comment on how this book was their favorite book growing up. I thought it was an excellent story but wouldn’t call it my favorite. The post provides a description of the book and the controversy behind it.

And just for fun, check out A Librarian’s Guide to Etiquite’s viewpoint and suggestions for banned books.

Feel free to comment on Banned books, books you loved or hated from this list or anything else you feel like chatting about.

ALA’s list of the top 100 banned/challenged novels:

1. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
2. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
3. The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
4. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
5. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
6. Ulysses, by James Joyce
7. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
8. The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
9. 1984, by George Orwell
10. The Sound and the Fury, by William Faulkner
11. Lolita, by Vladmir Nabokov
12. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
13. Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White
14. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, by James Joyce
15. Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
16. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
17. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
18. The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway
19. As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner
20. A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway
21. Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad
22. Winnie-the-Pooh, by A.A. Milne
23. Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
24. Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison
25. Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
26. Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
27. Native Son, by Richard Wright
28. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
29. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
30. For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway
31. On the Road, by Jack Kerouac
32. The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway
33. The Call of the Wild, by Jack London
34. To the Lighthouse, by Virginia Woolf
35. Portrait of a Lady, by Henry James
36. Go Tell it on the Mountain, by James Baldwin
37. The World According to Garp, by John Irving
38. All the King’s Men, by Robert Penn Warren
39. A Room with a View, by E.M. Forster
40. The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien
41. Schindler’s List, by Thomas Keneally
42. The Age of Innocence, by Edith Wharton
43. The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand
44. Finnegans Wake, by James Joyce
45. The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair
46. Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf
47. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum
48. Lady Chatterley’s Lover, by D.H. Lawrence
49. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
50. The Awakening, by Kate Chopin
51. My Antonia, by Willa Cather
52. Howards End, by E.M. Forster
53. In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote
54. Franny and Zooey, by J.D. Salinger
55. The Satanic Verses, by Salman Rushdie
56. Jazz, by Toni Morrison
57. Sophie’s Choice, by William Styron
58. Absalom, Absalom!, by William Faulkner
59. A Passage to India, by E.M. Forster
60. Ethan Frome, by Edith Wharton
61. A Good Man Is Hard to Find, by Flannery O’Connor
62. Tender Is the Night, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
63. Orlando, by Virginia Woolf
64. Sons and Lovers, by D.H. Lawrence
65. Bonfire of the Vanities, by Tom Wolfe
66. Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
67. A Separate Peace, by John Knowles
68. Light in August, by William Faulkner
69. The Wings of the Dove, by Henry James
70. Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe
71. Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier
72. A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
73. Naked Lunch, by William S. Burroughs
74. Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
75. Women in Love, by D.H. Lawrence
76. Look Homeward, Angel, by Thomas Wolfe
77. In Our Time, by Ernest Hemingway
78. The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, by Gertrude Stein
79. The Maltese Falcon, by Dashiell Hammett
80. The Naked and the Dead, by Norman Mailer
81. Wide Sargasso Sea, by Jean Rhys
82. White Noise, by Don DeLillo
83. O Pioneers!, by Willa Cather
84. Tropic of Cancer, by Henry Miller
85. The War of the Worlds, by H.G. Wells
86. Lord Jim, by Joseph Conrad
87. The Bostonians, by Henry James
88. An American Tragedy, by Theodore Dreiser
89. Death Comes for the Archbishop, by Willa Cather
90. The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame
91. This Side of Paradise, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
92. Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand
93. The French Lieutenant’s Woman, by John Fowles
94. Babbitt, by Sinclair Lewis
95. Kim, by Rudyard Kipling
96. The Beautiful and the Damned, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
97. Rabbit, Run, by John Updike
98. Where Angels Fear to Tread, by E.M. Forster
99. Main Street, by Sinclair Lewis
100. Midnight’s Children, by Salman Rushdie

Tread with Caution

A few weeks ago my friend Bryce from Only The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy proposed a book reading challenge. The challenge was to grab a random book in the bookstore and to read it. You were not to know anything about the author or the title but just pick randomly, if by the picture on the cover or if something struck you about the cover or the summary. Oh, and there is no research involved. So no looking up the author or book pre or during book reading.
This was kind of hard for me. I never realized how much I research a book before or during a reading. I know if I’m really interested in a book or series or if I’ve stopped reading a series and need to get back into it I will look up information on it. I think the fact that this option was taken away made me want to look up info even more. Now, as I’m trying to write this and look up background information, I can’t really seem to find too much on the book.

The book I chose was Shulamith Levey Oppenheim’s The World Invisible. I didn’t find it in the book store; this book has been haunting my father’s house for probably two decades. I’m betting that my sister brought it home one day from the bookstore she worked at in high school. I’ve always loved the cover of this book. It had a beautiful woman on the front and the grayish colors and the seals make it seem very mysterious. I tried to read it once before either in high school or during my undergrad years but couldn’t quite get into it. Now, I’m years older and can handle a tough read (coming soon…reading China Meiville’s The City and The City) so I thought this would be as good as any time to pick it up.
The story takes place primarily on an island near Scotland (I think…kinda foggy) in maybe the late 1800’s. It is mostly about a boy who grows up on the island and a teacher who is running away to the island to escape a difficult romance. It is kind of hard to say what the story is about from there because the plot isn’t very well developed. The characters didn’t really change and only the teacher had any sort of revelation or growth during the story.
I really wanted to like the book but I just couldn’t see where it was going. There were promises that the boy would be some great person and constant hints of mysterious magic that the reader would eventually learn the secret of but I didn’t. There were so many hints with no final explanation that I just got irritated with the book. Also, the boy didn’t grow into anything. He was intelligent and sweet as a boy and continued on that way as he found his love. The boy’s father was mopey until he died, the two servants were sweet and encouraging through the whole book, the island bum was a nefarious animal killer until he died and the teacher was a romantic coward until the very end when he decided that enough was enough, it was time to be a man. Something I found very odd was that although the boy and his father grew older, no one else did, including the animals and the nefarious bum. I could have sworn at the beginning of the book the man was 70 and yet 10 or so years later he was still 70 and a serious danger on the island. I also found it odd that after 10 years the teacher’s love interest waited for him even though they weren’t together that long and she believed he was a coward for not standing up to her father.
I couldn’t really recommend this book to anyone unless they just wanted to read a bit about the life of people during this time period. Even then I would have to say tread with caution.

Busy Bees

Do you know the saying that once you finish school you won’t know what to do with yourself because you’ll have so much free time? That doesn’t seem to be my case. It’s been non-stop running around and playing tag, it seems, with all of the events that I’ve been missing for the last two years. I’m finding that there are so many things to do that I’m planning weeks ahead of time how I’m going to spend my non-work hours. It’s amazing and I’m having so much fun. I’ve spent the last three weekends sleeping on couches as I bounce between Boulder and Story. I’ll be glad to spend the next couple weekends (at least) in my own bed but instead of state or city hopping I’ll be event hopping. For example, this week I’m taking my dog to agility class, attending a lecture on the best practices when investigating serial killers, a lecture by a Norwegian artist, a walk-through by the Norwegian artist, a law school chili cook-off, a public viewing of all the exhibitions in the UW Art Museum, a Cowboy’s vs Boise State football game and possibly a nature hike. I’m having so much fun! But in the middle of all this running around I’ve still had time to do some reading, movie/play viewing, quilting and writing. Below are a couple quick reviews.

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarks

I finally finished Jonathan Strange after a month. I have to say that it is a very long book. However, on the plus side it is totally worth reading. A one sentence summary for the book would be two men attempt to bring magic back to a nineteenth century England. The imagery is amazing and the story is great. The characters are well drawn out and interesting. I often found myself interested in what the antagonist was doing and irritated by one of the protagonist’s actions. If you like Austen and dark fiction you should probably read this book. If you just like dark fiction you should still read this book.

The Fall

This movie was a lucky find. I’m still not sure how I came upon it but I remember coming across it once or twice when I was checking IMDB for what movies a couple actors had been in. The more I think about The Fall the more I enjoy it. It takes place primarily in the 1920’s in a hospital. A stuntman after performing a jump ends up damaging his spine and can no longer walk. He is visited by a little girl with a broken arm and begins to tell her a fantastical story about a group of men who have all sworn to kill an evil Governor. The stuntman stops his story at cliff hangers so that he can convince the little girl to steal drugs for him. It was a gorgeous film made beautiful by the cinematography. If anything, check it out for the scenery and attention to detail in costumes and landscapes. Also, I was pleasantly surprised to see a Balinese chant sequence. The story is very sweet and sad. The actors were great, especially the adorable little girl. It kind of reminded me of Terry Gilliam but better. Click the picture for the trailer and enjoy.

Let me know if you have any questions about the movie, events or the book. There was a lot of content I just glossed over.