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Thursday, April 28, 2011

The PlayList

The following is a list of all the songs you are bound to see in Halcyon House. They double as chapter titles. They are also used for helping me, the writer, figure what goes on plot-wise.

  1. Streets of Gold, by Needtobreathe--the Beginning and the Reveal
  2. Deal With It, by Last Tuesday--the Explanation
  3. Out of Control, by Capital Lights--the Turmoil and the Compromise
  4. Careful, by Paramore--the Departure
  5. Awakening, by Switchfoot--the Meeting (a rough draft of which you can see in the "So It Beings" entry.)
  6. Hanging on by a Thread, by the Letter Black--the Disclosure
  7. Crushcrushcrush, by Paramore--the Discussion and the Advice
  8. Dog Days are Over, by Florence + the Machine--the Deal and the Sister
  9. Abracadavers, by the Classic Crime--the Past and the Condition
  10.  Dearest (I'm so Sorry) by Picture Me Broken--the Talking and the Barriers Coming Down
  11. Caraphernelia by Pierce the Veil--the Catastrophe
  12.  Breathe You In by Thousand Foot Krutch--the Decision
  13. Girl Named Tennessee by Needtobreathe--the First Sight
  14. Take Me As I Am by FM Static--the Making of Friends
  15. A Hard Day's Night, by the Beatles--the Family Arrival
  16. The Outsiders by Needtobreathe--the Construction 
  17. My Brain Says Stop, but My Heart Says Go by FM Static--the Possibilities
  18. The Way I Loved You by Taylor Swift--the Other Boot Dropped
  19. Playing God by Paramore--the Fraying of the Threads
  20. Grave Digging by the Classic Crime--the Unexplained Conversation and What Happens to Eavesdroppers
  21. Death of Me by RED--the Desperation
  22. Won't Turn Back by Needtobreathe--the Past Resurrected
  23. Haunted by Taylor Swift--the Losing It
  24. White Blank Page by Mumford and Sons--the Shattering
  25. What Becomes of the Brokenhearted by Joan Osbourne--the Withdrawal
  26. The Call by Regina Spektor--the Return
  27. Love Song by Taylor Swift--the Declaration and the Lunacy Put At Last into Action
  28. The Only Exception by Paramore--the Return Home
  29. Epilogue: Roll Away Your Stone by Mumford and Sons--the Future and the Changes
As you can see, what comes after in Italics is so I can keep track of the plot. I also use a lot of Paramore, Needtobreathe and Taylor Swift, because that's what I had on my iPod and listened to when I first started writing it to begin with. You can find the vast majority of these songs on my iPod, should you ever see it, and each one of them caused an inspiration of the plot in it's own way. I'll leave it up to you to see if you can figure it out!

Over & Out,

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Containing of Multitudes

There is a line from Walt Whitman's poem Song of Myself that I have taken as my own.  It is fairly simple, straightforward and to the point, but it sums me up quite neatly:

I contain multitudes.

My brothers are quick to tell me that it makes me sound like I'm schizophrenic, but hear me out in this entry, and then you can concur with them--or not.

As some of you may have guessed by now, my tastes in books, music and movies are highly eclectic and considerably vast. I am reading constantly, whenever and wherever I can. I was raised on reading Lewis, Tolkien and Alexander, and when I got older, I read Tamora Pierce, Patricia C. Wrede, Lucy Maud Montgomery, Diana Wynne Jones and Brian Jacques. I enjoyed Little Women, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Secret Life of Bees (the book, though the movie was quite good too) and The Secret Life of Prince Charming, by Deb Caletti. I loved Maureen Johnson's Suite Scarlett, Scarlett Fever and Girl at Sea.  I am a fan of Meg Cabot's The Princess Diaries and 1-800-Where-R-You series, as well as her standalone novels, Teen Idol, Avalon High and Pants on Fire. I'm still trying to figure out how James Patterson's Maximum Ride series is going to end, because I'm wondering how more outlandish and over-the-top it can possibly get already. I have read The Twilight Saga, and I understand why it's so popular...though I am not blind to its faults. (That disclaimer to is keep anyone from hollering at me about it.) 

I made an attempt to read Pillars of the Earth a very long time ago, but there was too much soap-opera and not enough history or architecture for my tastes. Stephen R. Lawhead's the Pendragon Cycle is one of the best retelling of the Arthurian myths I have ever read. The Perelandra Series by C.S. Lewis is also a favorite. Sherlock Holmes is good for a rainy day, though I find I prefer other authors interpretation of the Great Detective; especially those who put useful female characters in them that are not solely limited to Irene Adler. Nancy Springer's Enola Holmes series is a fabulous version for young children and teens, and for a more adult frame of mind, Laurie R. King's The Beekeeper's Apprentice is one I highly recommend.

This is just my reading preferences. I have been known to watch The Lord of the Rings, How to Train Your Dragon, and Tangled all in one week. I've watched The King's Speech and Doctor Who only days apart, along with Fringe and Bones. Crime, drama and sci-fi are two things that stick with me. I haven't much use for reality shows (American Idol, Survivor, and The Biggest Loser come to mind) mostly because there don't seem to be many actual stories for the contestants--it's all drama and soap-opera. I did enjoy Extreme Makeover: Home Edition because it did tell actual stories about people and it was a nice dose of heartwarming to begin the week. I don't watch as much as I used to though; I need to fix that.

All of this to say, I've noticed a bit of a trend in female authors when I read their blogs and interviews and what-have-you: their characters talk to them. They become real people, at least to those who write about them. I've asked Aaron about this, and he says he doesn't have that problem. His characters seem to be able to bend to his will pretty easily. They aren't voices in his head, like I have. Lest anyone start wondering whether or not to ship me off to a mental institution, I mean to say that my characters become very real to me, as real as anything is that matters. I hold conversations with them and they do get out of hand sometimes--as some previous blog posts can attest to. I haven't perused that many male author's websites or blogs or what-have-you, but I'm not sure guys have this strange tendency to give life and free will to the characters they create. This is, of course, mostly pure conjecture on my part. You have only to read Shakespeare and Twain and Dickens to find characters that could very well be flesh and blood people. But then again, no doubt Shakespeare and Twain and Dickens and the like had friends of both genders, men and women. And no doubt they talked to women and had relationships with them. Virginia Woolf's essay What if Shakespeare had a Sister? comes to mind. Hemingway, for instance, never had this, I don't think. He was a well-known misogynist, and the female characters in his books are two-dimensional to the point of insult. Which is why I have no patience for him.

I may contain multitudes, but it's ever so much more fun.

Over & Out,

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Confessions of a History Geek

So I've been putting Halcyon House on the back burner for the next few weeks, since I have a 2000-3000 word research project to churn out for my history class. I've chosen to do mine on the Civil War, so I've been up to my eyeballs in history books all this week. I have a stack of them on my desk in my bedroom. Since there was a variety of ways I could've done the project, I decided to do it in historical fiction format, which is my home turf. But now I've run up against a burning question: Was General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson present at the Battle of Antietam???

Because if he wasn't, that kind of blows my whole project out of  the water. I'll have to make the switch from Stonewall to Robert E. Lee, and while both men were incredibly cool, I think I prefer Stonewall.

Why, you might ask? Well, Stonewall Jackson was odd, first and foremost. He wasn't perfect. He was shy, a hypochondriac, completely befuddled by the stirrings of romance, and tended to be a bit of a slob in his dress. But--he was an excellent soldier. There was no one to his equal on the battlefield. His men adored and worshiped him. Stonewall and Lee were also both devoted Christian men, especially Stonewall. He was known to give prayer services among his staff when on the march. Lee was almost a little too perfect, if you ask me. It gets to the point where a little boy once asked his mother, "Mother, I'm confused. Was General Lee in the Old or New Testament?" Stonewall proves to be the more interesting personality-wise, though both men were legendarily humble (if that's not a contradiction in terms).

While I was studying up on my Civil War Confederate generals, I also stumbled upon another book of Civil War history: Chasing Lincoln's Killer: The Twelve Day Hunt for John Wilkes Booth, by James L. Swanson, which is an adaptation of his book Manhunt: the 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer for younger readers. This is going to make me into a A-level history geek, but I love that kind of stuff. I love the depth, the nitty-gritty details, what people said or thought or acted during that time period. I love the idea of fully understanding why Booth wanted to kill Lincoln, who helped him, the aftermath of the assassination, and the frantic chase across the Eastern Seaboard. It's one of my goals in travel to visit Ford Theater and the boarding house where Lincoln breathed his last breath, and the Smithsonian Museum, where they keep the very bullets that the physicians dug out of Lincoln's brain and the tools they used. I love that kind of stuff. I really do, I can't say why. Maybe because it's history in its purest form, as opposed to reading about it in textbook.

I really am a history geek, now that I think of it. Favorite period to study about are World War II, the Civil Rights Movement and as previously mentioned, the Civil War. Top favorite is World War II. I think it's the writer and story-teller in me, because that time period specifically makes for such a terrific story. You have your villains, the worst of the worst in history's hall of rogues, Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini. You have the kind of heroes that make one be proud solely for being human--Oskar Schindler, the Bielski partisans, Dwight D. "Ike" Eisenhower, the thousands soldiers who stormed Normandy Beach on D-Day. You have the unimaginable tragedy and loss of six million lives, and those who survived.

It's a great story. One of the greatest in history. So now you all know why I love it learning about.

Getting off my soapbox, I am Over & Out,

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

How Do You Solve a Problem Like

...The somewhat depressing entry of last week. It's sad news and I kind of tear up whenever I see it, and I wanted a change. So now the blog background is different. Again. To a cute little bird in a bird cage tweeting and a very nice shrubbery in the background (and I didn't even have to cut down the mightiest tree in the forest with a herring to get it). To something suiting my current mood, since Spring has finally decided to start acting like it. February/March/the beginning of April in California is crazy, at least weather-wise, but I digress. Also, note the picture to the bottom left--daffodils, my favorite spring flower under a lovely blue sky with clouds. If that can't cheer anyone up, then there's no hope for them.

So, yes. Happy news. Why is it harder to think of good things as opposed to bad things? Good things are nicer to remember, but bad things come more quickly to mind. Why is that, do you think?

Happiness! So, Halcyon House is nearing the 100-page mark, which is always a milestone for a writer. Last time I checked, it's word count was 57,586. The only reason it's just reached the 100-page mark is because I prefer using Verdana font for my personal work. If it were something like Times New Roman, it would be over 120 pages by now. At the least. But it isn't. It's almost a 100 pages and all the better for us.  Apart from that, there isn't much to tell at the moment. 

Ayden's having a minor nervous breakdown because only some of her brothers (Silas, Dante, Matteo and Finn) are coming to Halcyon House to help her renovate it, and Sydney keeps having to give her speeches, much to his own dismay. Our boy hates having to give speeches. Silas is more than just a little apprehensive about having Katriona at the house, while Katriona is looking on with barely concealed interest, because she's been waiting for almost twenty pages to have Silas come back, and she hasn't been all that patient about it. Liam too, keeps piping up, insisting on having his say. "It's only fair," he told me, "that I get to say my piece in this tale. There's a lot of questions that still need answering."

Liam, like he is in most matters, is quite right. Violet is still skulking in the background. Ayden's promised violence and suffering if she tries to sneak in before her time, and Violet's taken her at her word. Sensible of her. Even I can hardly control Ayden when she promises violence and suffering. The girl keeps her promises.   

Over & Out,