Sunday, February 19, 2006

Reading and Writing

Lookin' down on a tide of no return
Is a man not knowin' how he should feel
Mocked by the wave
That beats the water's edge
There for the Grace of God go I...
--"Grace of God Go I" by Flogging Molly

Hullo all,

So not much has happened lately. I did nothing for V-day save buy my mom a couple things. Otherwise my family's sick, and nothing real exciting is happening. School and work. Etc.

So I shall list what I'm currently reading and writing (currently in the broad sense, not at this moment, in case you were wondering). Read on if you like.

Writing projects (ones for which I have written actual text):

Shadow's Call (125,000 words, something over 2/3rds of the way done with the plot). Epic fantasy, meaning alt-world, sprawling storyline, lots of characters. But this one has guns in it, because I got tired of using medieval age weapons. (Also a hideously complicated system of magic which I am still trying to figure out). When I tell people it has guns, they tend to do the nose-wrinkle, but everyone who's read part of it likes it. Magic and technology are in conflict, as of course are good and evil. A major theme is reliance on the self vs. reliance on a higher power.

The Passing of the Anars (3,104 words). Also an epic fantasy, it's resurrected from a novel I started a couple years ago then abandoned because the writing was, well, awful. I was trying to write like Tolkien, and I'll leave you to imagine how that turned out. But I like the world, and some of the characters, and I think it deserves another go.

The Travels of the Sons of Adam, (4 stories written, a fifth started, total of 27,000 words or so). Short stories about two men traveling as mercenaries in North America in the 1870s. Except the Civil War ended twelve years after it started, and Europe got involved, and North America now consists of eight or ten seperate countries. Also there's magic involved. And there's a bunch of things I didn't tell, and won't, because we'd be here all night long.

The Literary Cycle (One story finished so far, three more started, probably half dozen others concieved of or outlined). That isn't actually it's name, just what I'm calling it till I come up with a proper name. It's about... well, teen subculture, at least those areas of it I've seen close up. A lot of it centers around an evangelical youth group, for several reasons-I know the setting well (having grown up close to it), but have been out of it long enough to have some perspective; also it's a great sort of cross section, because they welcome everybody so you tend to get a lot of interesting characters, saved, unsaved, and everything in between.

The one story I've completed here is about the most perfect I've ever done-- symmetry, disilisionment, symbolism, even poetic devices (like giving hard sounding words to obnoxious people, and soft, pleasant words to sympathetic characters). It even reaches an emotional(anti-) climax that the reader can see but the character can't, a technique borrowed from Dubliners.

Finally, a novel about a boy and a girl that is as yet titleless. It should hopefully be literary too, an experiment with structure, plot, symbolism etc. I'm trying to get away from the boy-meets-girl-they-kiss-and-can't-be-together-because-of-some-outside-gimmick that even good teen novels seem to like these days, and write realistically about relationships, both friendly and romantic. And of course, try to make it a good story too. We'll see how it goes.


The Last Continent, by Terry Pratchett. Hilarious book, one of the Discworld series of humorous fantasy. The hero, Rincewind, is the opposite of the archetypal "Hero with a thousand faces"--he's the "Hero with a thousand retreating backsides." Apart from said heroic fantasy spoofing, Pratchett makes fun of Australian stereotypes, evolution theory, time-travel stories, governments, ancient myths, and anything else in sight.

Dubliners, by James Joyce. This is an incredible book. Less than two hundred pages, but people have written libraries' worth on it. It's easy to read, that is, it's written simply, but Joyce packed in layers of meaning and symbolism and symmetry, and relationships between the stories... I swear that guy could do more in ten pages than many can in 400.

American Gods, by Neil Gaiman. Excellent fantasy book. Set in modern America, with fantastic creatures and "gods" lurking in the shadows. Gaiman is always interesting. Not necesarily Christian, but... interesting. Kind of hard to describe, really.

The Lord of Snows and Shadows, by Sarah Ash. Above-average epic fantasy that I haven't read much in since... um, Christmas.

The Fire and the Staff, by Klemet Preus. Wonderful book, an excellent defense of Lutheranism and Lutheran practices, and why we shouldn't be swayed by "mainstream" "Evangelical" influences.

Anyway, that's enough boring stuff from me.

(Exit, purued by some kind of horse-alligator hybrid)
(You see what happens when you wipe out the top of the food chain?)

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Snow Again!

Just a quickie...

Tonight after shelving at the library my Dad and I drove to meet his side of the family (my grandma, aunt and uncle) at Culver's in Verona, a town a few miles away, to celebrate my birthday. (The other half of my family is sick, and couldn't make it.) I drove.

So as we're leaving the snow starts coming down, not too hard. I drove Grandma home, which took about fifteen minutes, and as we pull out of her driveway the snow really starts coming down. By a third of the way home, we're going thirty on the highway, and you can't see the road, the only way to discern it being a general idea of where the ditches on either side are. And of course the snow hasn't the decency to come down in any certain direction, oh no, it blows about every which way. Pretty tense driving. Maybe halfway home my dad got nervous and took over. That was about as tense, acting as co-pilot, sort of thing. But we made it home alright. Now I'm kinda tired.

That's about it for the moment.



Monday, February 13, 2006

669 and Still Typing

Happy Monday! Well, one of the two, anyway.

Not much has happened of late. This weekend I drove (by myeself, thank you) into Madison and sold $27 worth of books at Frugal Muse, this great used bookstore on the West Side. Bought $25 worth of books and CDs, so it came out about even. Sunday I went to church and later served coffee, helped clean up, etc at a church-run spaghetti supper.

Filled out Aaron N.'s 669-question survey he sent me. He didn't think I would, but he underetimated me again! Mwahahahaha! Hilights below:

!!!!!! getting personal !!!!!!
31. What do you want to be when you grow up? Fiction writer. Possibly a pastor too.
33. What is your most embarrassing story? Um... It's too embarassing.
37. What are you most scared of? Sock puppets.
38. If you had an extra set of eyes were would you put them? In the back of my head. Take that, authority figures.
39. What do you usually think about before you go to bed? Song lyrics, real or imagined.
40. What do you regret the most? Actually, what Aaron said--hiding in a corner, not being social.
41. If you could be anything, what would you be? Me, only with more money.
*******Your Favorite***********
56. Color: Red. Like the blood of my enemies.
57. Magazine: Mad.
58. Name for a girl: Elspeth. It just sounds cool.
59. Name for a boy: Cliff.
60.Sports team: Green Bay Packers.
71. Saying: "The difference between the right word and almost the right word is like the difference between lightning and a lightning bug."
-Mark Twain
72. Word: Fundegelical.
88. Sound: Projectiles whistling through the air, just barely missing me. Metal clashing on metal, in a fight to the death. A Cape Breton Fiddle, played expertly at high speed. A hawk's cry over wild country.
93. Book: Lord Jim, by Joseph Conrad; A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, by James Joyce; The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain. Sin Boldly, by me ;-).
273. Are you a good speller? Yess. Ey kan spel reel guud.
*** what do you think when you hear this name ***
300. Jennifer: The name of a woman who works at a furniture store, is a driven professional, has little time for realtionships. She is rather shallow, and has no deep thoughts. (Sorry, writer...)
302. Megan: Pretty, sweet. This may be because of Megans I've known in the past or just the connotations my writer's mind draws up.
303. Brandon: Hyper, thinks alot, lots of energy (based on the only Brandon I know personally). Also a legendary Irish monk. 304.
Angela: Cheerleader.
306. Courtney: Love. Enough said.
308. Mike: Football player, broad-shouldered, no subtlety.
309. Nikki: Free-spirited. No idea why.
310. Ryan: I've known alot of Ryans, and most of them were annoying.
311. Lauren: Quiet, dignified, smart. Good dancer. Based Partly on a Lauren I once knew, partly on the name's connotations.
316. Holly: Her parents were probably hippies, if they named her that. ;-)
317. Jackie: Annoying girl, real into sports, wonders why she can't find a boyfriend. (Knew her a long time ago.)
319. Caroline: Makes me think of a girl from a Victorian household, sweet and eager to please her parents, but also independant and wanting to be free. Might be a good story, but it's been done.
323. Erin: Excellent name. Ireland's name in its native tongue! Erin go Bragh!
345. (Which of your friends is) Always negative: Me, which is complimented nicely by Elizabeth's "Always positive".
508. Last song stuck in your head: Actually, it's in there now--Flogging Molly's "Wanderlust"
509. What line/verse from the song? Ahem... Do you walk the streets at night/With that wanderlust you fight/Back to the corner where we went our seperate ways...
528. Kids names (girls): I think I'm just going to give them numbers. Odd numbers for girls, and
529. Kids names (boys): Even numbers for boys.
667. So, do you have any final words? Oh look, I'm bald. And wrinkled. You know what this means? I GAVE YOU THE BEST YEARS OF MY LIFE! And what did you give me back? NOTHING!
668. Say something great about the person who sent you this: Aaron's pretty cool. I in no way blame him for my idiocy in filling this out. And when we take over Canada, he can choose one person to save. ;-)
669. What time is it now? 3:53 PM, Central Standard Time. I finished the bloody thing in three sittings.

Yeah. And for anyone who actually read all that, I have a gold plated award of some kind.


(Exit, pursued by a bear)

Friday, February 10, 2006

Trying to Make This Quick, as I Should be Doing... Something Productive

The wind blow high and the wind blow low
Down the streets in my kilt I go
All the lassies say "Hello,
Donald where's your troosers?"
-old Scottish song

So last weekend I went to Bethany College, in Mankato, MN. Kind of a scouting/check-out trip for high school kids, so we could see what we thought of the place, etc. Left Thursday, returned Sunday.

So I got on the bus Thursday night at like 7, caught the end of Coach Carter on the in-bus TV (very dull movie), then Hitch (an ok rom-com). After a while, the trip leader announced that everybody must put all their things (coats, CD players, etc.) in the overhead compartments. This, of course was to strip us of all defenses. Then we played what someone called "speed-dating." You move around the bus, sit next to a person you don't know, and talk for three minutes. Then get up and repeat. Good way to get to know everyone. Everyone was real nice, tho I didn't seem to have much in common with alot of them.

So we arrive, and the group leader announces we have no bedtimes, just like in college. After settling in our cell-like dorms (we were sleeping three and four in two-person rooms) myself and three other guys ordered pizza and buffalo wings. Stayed up till 4 or so waiting for pizza, then eating it, and watching movies.

Friday we had a tour, talked to students and faculty, etc. I really liked the English prof I talked to. (He agreed with me that the fantasy genre is becoming more literate, and bears watching.) Actually, I liked all the faculty people I talked to. I'm seriously considering Bethany, I just wonder if it's too small. Friday night stayed up till 3 or so, hanging out in the student lounge, playing pool, cards, etc.

Saturday they took us to the mall. Saw Walk the Line--excellent, brilliant, brilliant movie. (Need more adjectives.) Went to bookstore, music store. Saturday night being last hurrah, myself and several others stayed up till 4 or 5 (waking up at 7); we played scattergories, golf, spoons, etc. I almost just made a night of it, but after going back up to the dorm to pack, i laid down and fell asleep.

Sunday was more than four hours worth of bus ride home. Myself and three other people were the only ones talking--others had either headphones or were asleep. Saw Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and Red Eye on the in-bus TV. Both good movies.

Sunday I got home about 3. Watched part of a movie, fell asleep. Woke up, went to room, fell asleep. Slept through the Super Bowl. Was glad to hear the Steelers won, for various reasons.

Not much of interest has happened since then. [Reviews post] So much for keeping this short.

(Exit, pursued by another bear)