Thursday, May 25, 2017

This is too good to be a Star Wars book

Once upon a time there was a young lady who amassed such library fines that she could not get ahold of the new Star Wars novel "Bloodline" when it first came out. Then, one day, her husband got a library card and a fine-free account, took her to the library, and lo and behold, the book was on the shelf...

I started "Bloodline" with low expectations and, truth be told, I almost don't want to give you any expectations at all, because I want you to be as blown away by this book as I was.

(Whoops. Expectations.)

I've read perhaps a dozen Star Wars books over the years. Although I enjoyed some (the Thrawn Trilogy, of course, and there was an Obi Wan novel I can never remember the name of...), others (notably "The Courtship of Princess Leia") burned me enough that I became very reluctant to invest time into novels in this universe. So when I heard positive reviews coming in for Claudia Gray's "Bloodline"I assumed it was good by Star Wars standards. I didn't expect it to be amazing by regular book standards. The whole way through I kept thinking "Oh man, I hope it finishes as well as it began! I'm so afraid it's going to wobble in the third act! It can't really be this good, can it?"

It could. You guys, this book is really, really good. This is, of course, a biased and personal opinion, but I feel as though this was the Princess Leia novel I've been waiting for my entire life. I'm about to gush all about it, but I'm going to keep this review spoiler-free.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

OUAT: The Final Battle

Photo: ABC, via TVFanatic
It's the end of the line if you want it to be, but it doesn't have to be. The final two episodes of "Once Upon a Time" season six provided a perfect capstone to the story they've told for the last six years...but if you want more fairy tale magic, you can hop along for a similar but different ride in season seven.


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Write Like a Job

Putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) is daunting. Even when you are brimming full of ideas, getting past the initial block of 'starting' is difficult. Unfortunately, if you want to get your novel published, you are going to have to push through this. If you want writing to be your job, you need to treat it like a job.

This means blocking out time for it every day. Maybe it is only a half hour, but get something down, day after day, and eventually you'll have a book. 

Sure, you aren't getting paid peanuts now, and you'll probably only get a little more than peanuts once you start publishing. Indeed, there are few jobs with so little immediate reward and equally low chance of future rewards as writing. But, if you want to have a chance of getting peanuts (and maybe jelly and bread too), you have to make the decision to treat writing like a job and put in the time, even when you don't feel like it.

With my headaches and fibromyalgia brain fog, it can often be really, really difficult for me to write. Rather than set a weekly goal for myself, I've set a monthly one. My minimum writing goal for each month is 4,000 words. As long as I'm achieving that, I know that I'm moving forward with my writing project. Since I can write 1000 words in an hour when I'm going good, this gives me plenty of wiggle room, even if 3/4th of my month is blacked out with health issues.

But that's just the minimum! I set a bare minimum so that I would have the psychological boost of knowing that I was moving forward. My actual 'strive for it' goal is to write 10k a month. Even that is a fairly modest goal by most standards, but it is sufficient to manage a complete draft of a novel a year, with the reasonable expectation of publishing a new book every two years. 

Of course, to succeed as an indie author, I do ideally need to be coming out with at least one novel a year. And this is still compatible with the 10k goal because of how drafts cycle out to readers and editors. I can get writing on the next book while the current book is being reviewed and polished. 

In the end the difference between a writer and a published writer is really the work. If you have even an ounce of talent, you can put in the effort and hone it into becoming a published creator. 

So here's my challenge for you. Set yourself a minimum writing goal for the week or month, and then set a higher goal as well. Secondly, make the time to write at least three days a week. Since it is my job, I always take Sundays off, and rarely write on Saturdays. I've actually found that giving myself the weekend off encourages me to be more proactive about writing M-F. 

More Writing Posts:

A look at my page "On Good Writing" reveals that I've written on this topic before--a lot. Apparently, I believe it is important...

Monday, May 8, 2017

OUAT: The Musical Episode

*HI HO HI HO it's off to SPOILERLAND we go!*

I realized today that not only is this show in its sixth season, but I have also been blogging about it for six years. There is no other show which I have written about so prolifically for so long.

Photo: ABC
That said, I am kind of sad that this episode was not the series finale. Going from the darkness of the beginning, to a musical episode with a wedding would have been the perfect narrative peak.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Problem of Arwen

Photo: New Line Cinema "The Return of the King"

Arwen is a difficult character. She stays in the shadows in the books, and her film adaptation is contested among fans (for both adaptive and storytelling reasons). However, there is a lot about her that I've come to appreciate over the years, and I thought it'd be worth a blog post.

First, let's go to the source. I've reread the books numerous times over the years, most recently in the past week. They've had a huge shaping effect on me as a writer, creator, and person, and there is very little about them that I don't love (or at least appreciate). Although the Fellowship itself contains no female characters, overall I have always felt that Tolkien's world boasts some of the strongest women and role models in fiction. Luthien is just the best, Galadriel rocks, Eowyn has a tremendously relatable story, and other characters like Idril, Gilraen, Melian, and Elwing are strong in the brief moments we see them .

 In fact, there's a hilarious but usually overlooked theme in Tolkien's work that men who don't listen to their wise wives end up regretting it. (*cough* Thingol *cough*).

However, Arwen...well, honestly there really isn't much about Arwen in the books. Although a huge point of inspiration and strength for Aragorn, she is seen doing almost nothing, even in the expanded backstory in the appendices.  Indeed, in the story proper we see her:
- look pretty,
- embroider a banner
- give a jewel to Frodo.*