Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A new Blog Title and other Minutiae

Well, it's been a while. So much for good habit-forming on the posting schedule front.
Not much has really changed between now and my last update, but it's time for a PSA.
  1. grainoftruthandhyperbole has been overhauled in favor of theworldwalkersdiaries. This is relevant to item two.
  2. I am hoping to do more work on my future website soon. More on that when it arrives. I hope to integrate this blog with that site, we will see what happens there. Either way, now this blog name matches my tumblr at least.
  3. The site will probably not be launched until the end of the year, but I would like it to be up and running by 2015.
  4. Until that time, this blog is considered UNDER CONSTRUCTION.
Thank you, this has been my PSA, everybody have a wonderful day.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Smallest Update Ever, a Day Late

  1. I have not read anything new or exciting this week, sorry about that.
  2. NaNoWriMo is coming. Way sooner than I hoped, as my new goal is to finish (or nearly finish) Codestone book 5 draft 1 BEFORE November. 
  3. Help me make #NovemberisComing the next big NaNo hashtag please and thank you.
  4. I might be doing some proof reading for a Seattle publishing house in the near future and just sent in my proof reading test. Please wish me luck!
  5. I have become addicted to the excellent podcast Welcome to Night Vale. My mind is consumed with Cthonic mysteries.
Cheers, happy weekend, and don't let the shoggoths bite.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Pretty Monsters, by Kelly Link

I first encountered this book of short stories in one of my fiction writing seminars at Western Washington University. My professor who assigned the book wasn't particularly in love with it, but it had been recommended by another professor, so she taught it. I am very grateful that she did. I am not normally very interested in short stories. I figure that's why I often find myself daunted by the idea of writing them; because I don't read them often enough to write one well. But I'm getting off track, and short story long, pun unintended, without this book being assigned to me, I might have never known it existed.

Pretty Monsters is perhaps best characterized as Slipstream (a nicer and more accurate name for the western-appropriated portion of Magical Realism). The worlds put forth by Link's stories range from ones that largely obey the rules of our world to full-on worldbuilt fantasies (three guesses which settings I prefer). Many of these characters are really solid. The concepts are intriguing, and the language is casual but masterfully crafted.

The only thing which put me off was the structure of some of these stories. One or two that I can think of off the top of my head introduced conflict, rose to a climax, and then stopped abruptly. I understand from my classwork that this is a somehow "fashionable" move in fiction, but Link's application of it seemed a little extreme. I could spout some existential defense of the cutoff ending, saying it mirrors life because we never know what will happen or what is to come, making the stories more relatable, relevant, resonant, whatever you please. However, I personally prefer a story that answers - or at least acknowledges - a few of the questions the body of that story raises.

SPOILERS FOR SAKE OF EXAMPLE FOLLOW. PLEASE HIGHLIGHT IN ORDER TO VIEW THEM. In the story "The Library," for instance, things get pretty strange toward the end. There is some indication that the main character has passed out of his reality and into a reality where the television show he and his friends are addicted to, called "The Library," is real. He arrives in a location where, as a reader, you have no idea whether the people he interacts with are human or not due to this potential reality shift. These characters, and whether or not reality has shifted at all, are not addressed in the end of the story. Every question raised by the story is left to hang. The same thing happens with "The Specialist's Hat."

In contrast, stories like "The Constable of Abal" and "The Faery Handbag" raise lots of questions in the body of the story, but each picks at least one and gives it a solid resolution before cutting off. I think the reason this is more effective for me as a reader is because the sense of resolution in the one answered question lends a sense of resolution to the whole story. "The Faery Handbag" doesn't answer its biggest or most important question - in fact, it answers its least important question - but that leaves the open ending much less frustrating because the story still feels complete. The fact that the main character has the majority of her adventure ahead of her by the story's conclusion, where the reader cannot see it, isn't relevant because the story feels as though it has come to a natural conclusion.

Perhaps this convention is just a part of short story-telling that I don't understand. I plan on reading several more collections in the future, so hopefully you'll see more analysis in the future. I'm open to changing my stance, depending on what I see. And even though I was frustrated by the endings, many of the stories in Pretty Monsters I strongly disliked right after reading them somehow grew on me. Perhaps they just need time to breathe.

If you like short stories, and even if you don't like them, Pretty Monsters is worth more than a gander. If you give it a look, let me know what you think! I would love to discuss it with you. Cheers everybody, happy Saturday, and have a great rest of your weekend.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Ticker Factory - Fertility Tracking turned Productivity Tool

Based on the website, Ticker Factory was originally designed to help women keep track of their fertility (don't ask me how that's supposed to work because I'm not actually sure). But either way, they've expanded their functionality and customization options so that you can use a ticker to track basically whatever you want. In my case, wordcount. I'll be participating in NaNoWriMo soon, which means that I'll be shooting for 50k words in 30 days. That's 1667 words a day. It'll be painful. It'll be brutal. But if I can make it, it'll be worth it. I might even finish the damn 5th book.

Either way I'll be participating in the spirit and writing as much as I can, and I've found that NaNo helps me generate content because I want to see my wordcount graph rise. After NaNo, I'm not nearly as motivated because I don't have graphs and trackers to interact with - maybe Ticker Factory's counters can be a placebo/replacement for the other eleven months of the year.

Happy writing, everybody.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Once-Majestic Cities that Sank Beneath the Ocean by VINCZE MIKLÓS via i09

A quick reblog of a stunning article with stunning photos and videos. The concept of sunken cities has always fascinated me, perhaps because of the threat of ocean levels substantially rising, perhaps within generation Y's lifetime, perhaps because there is a sort of romance involved with the concept of something being preserved in its destruction.

Pavlopetri, Greece

It's the same way with mummies, or artifacts found in peat bogs - carefully preserved, whether by accident or by design, but ruined. By no means does that necessitate that the ruination make the thing (or person) less beautiful - ruins can be gorgeous.


If you are equally interested in sunken forests (which I heard referred to as ghost forests once, which of course stuck in my head), there's also Best 7 Most Incredible Sunken Forests on Earth, which covers forests living and dead and has some lovely pictures. I'm of a mind to set some sort of fiction in a drowned forest, though not sure how.

Happy scuba-ing, everyone.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Epic Weekend, Part 1: Tegan and Sara and FUN at Edgefield

I am so lucky. My dad has always been a huge concert-goer, and because of that I tend to reap some pretty incredible benefits. One of them is that sometimes he buys extra tickets and I get to coast in on his metaphorical coattails and rock out. That will happen three times this magical, ear-rending, epic weekend. The first show was last night, where Tegan and Sara opened for Fun..

Now, I was excited for both bands at this show. When I walked in, Tegan and Sara were a band I knew about and liked, but didn't know well enough to remember many lyrics or be able to identify what album which song came off of, etc. So we were standing around on the lawn drinking alcoholic beverages and schmoozing with my aunt, who is just as much of a music fanatic as we are, when there they were. (Truth be told I was actually in line for the ATM when they physically came on, ugh, but I heard wonderful sounds coming from the stage and hurried back.)

After about half a song something magical happened that has happened to me before. I will have the incredible opportunity to attend a concert which features a band I like, and seeing them live transforms something in my brain. My synapses light up. Something clicks. Words and chords get branded into my neurons. And then I'm hooked. That is what happened with Tegan and Sara.

Needless to say, you should go listen to their newest album, Heartthrob, which I've been playing on loop all day. Their voices are very distinct, their harmonies and layering are great, and they're running heavy keyboard and a dance beat under several of their tracks. It's catchy as hell. Good luck getting it out of your head.

We were a little sad to see Tegan and Sara go, especially because we wanted an encore from them. But Fun. was the main event, and they definitely put on a good show. 

The first time I saw Fun. was when they were opening for Panic! at the Disco in what looked like an old warehouse in Seattle. Fun. hadn't hit the radio heavily yet and "Some Nights" was still largely an unknown (pushing up my invisible hipster glasses here). I distinctly remember laughing with my friend about the name - I mean come on, how many bands can you think of that use a single word, and an adjective at that, as their name? - and then being thoroughly put in my place by a ragtag bunch of talented people dressed like Hoods from the 1950s. I was never so happy to the put in my place, because honestly, Fun. is fun.

They're a little bit bigger now, if you hadn't noticed.

I mean, come on, you know you've made it big when you have a confetti blizzard and your backdrop plays live footage of your band like in a stadium show. At first I was a little offput by their stardom; they were hot shit and they knew it. But as the night went on, it was clear that they hadn't lost what had put me in my place that night in Seattle. They're talented, they're tight, they play well together, they banter a little but not too much, and they're obviously having the time of their lives. That, I think, earns them their name all over again.

Thanks for coming to Portland, everybody. I'll see you Saturday night on the lawn for Death Cab for Cutie.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Fire Bringer, by David Clement-Davies

Fire Bringer is one of those titles that sticks with you, one of the ones you heard all about at one time or another; it was the book that all the cool kids had read and that everyone knew about. For me, this was a middle school sentiment. It was with those memories in mind when I took it down off my shelf, where it has waited patiently for years.

It's also worth mentioning that I had read The Sight, also by Clement-Davies, when I still was in middle school. About the only things I can recall about it are that all of the characters who mattered were wolves, there was a prophecy and a chosen one, en epic adventure, and I loved the heck out of it.

Fire Bringer is exactly the same book, except with deer and minus the dazzlement.

To be fair, I've come a long way since then. I read things differently now, and to give credit where it is justly due, The Sight is almost certainly better crafted than Fire Bringer simply because it was not Clement-Davies' first book. This didn't necessarily make Fire Bringer any less painful of a read in terms of the prose. My biggest complaint was that the action in the novel was sorely lacking; there were many times where something was told where it should have been shown - left to summary when a scene would have been much more effective.

Despite this, I read all four hundred and ninety eight pages of it. Even though the presentation made me cringe and the story's conventions are (in essentials) exactly identical to The Sight, somewhere in there I found myself invested. If I figure out why I'll let you know. In the end I suppose it comes down to a good story. The prophecy convention is about as nuanced as a parlor trick, but like a parlor trick, it still, against all odds and my best intentions, works. Rannoch's quest, his denial of his role as the chosen one, his desire to learn who he is are all questions basic enough and yet resonant enough to carry the story on its circuitous journey around the high- and lowlands north of Hadrian's wall.

There is also one more point on which I ought to give credit: Clement-Davies is brutal with his characters. There are members of the cast I expected to have main character privileges who were brutally and abruptly murdered throughout the course of the novel. There was a cold sort of reality to his treatment of death (which was one of the themes anyway and probably the point of the whole book) that was due in large part to this abruptness. There are definitely kudos to be had there, because I didn't see most of these deaths coming, and that is definitely something to write home about.