Sunday, July 23, 2017

Writing about the Ocean

While writing on my latest novel, I came across a scene where my characters crash-land their starship into the ocean. That’s when I got all excited about writing about the open water and started brainstorming all the different ways somebody could die in the ocean. Not a pleasant topic, I know.

Having lived in Hawaii for three years, I know a bit about the ocean. I’m no expert, but my dad used to be a SCUBA diving instructor and would take me and my family to the beach at least once a week, if not to go diving, at least to go swimming and snorkeling. So, if you’re thinking about including large bodies of water in your story (not including rivers), this post if for you!


The only thing to fear is fear itself everything.


Okay, so maybe not everything, but it’s pretty close. In fact, there’s more to fear in the ocean than drowning, shark attacks, and massive waves.

First, you have riptides. Did you know people swimming on the beach can actually get sucked out to the open ocean by currents? Even the strongest and the best of swimmers can’t fight it. The main mistake they make is swimming against the current. Swimming parallel to the shore is the only way to escape it.

Second, you have the bends (decompression sickness). This point is one that a lot of writers, particularly those of screenplays, get wrong (e.g. Star Wars, Star Trek). The only movie I’ve seen get it right, where applicable is The Abyss. If you swim further than ten feet underwater, you might notice a pressure in your ears. That’s because the pressure of the water is stronger than the pressure of the air.

The difference in pressures is why SCUBA divers equalize, by plugging their nose and blowing out. It may cause an awkward popping sensation whether you do it underwater or above water. If one were to surface too quickly (specifically faster than your smallest bubbles), one could end up with the bends. Yes, it can kill you and your characters.

Finally, you have open water, dehydration, jellyfish, the Bermuda Triangle, you get the picture.  


Blood and the ocean.


While blood can attract sharks, these creatures are not quite like the monsters you see in Jaws. But that doesn’t stop me from being paranoid. One time I went out with some friends in a kayak while I was wearing a bandage on my leg from a minor cut. I was so scared of getting attacked by sharks that I didn’t get out of the boat. As it turned out, the twelve-foot swells mounting close to the shore turned out to be our greatest challenge that day.

Yes, blood attracts sharks. My dad and my brother used to go spear hunting for fish, and they would stay in the water until the “tax collectors” showed up. They have a couple interesting stories to tell. Fortunately, none of them resulted in death or scars.

Aside from cuts and bloody fish, you have something else that nobody seems to talk about let alone include in YA fiction—periods. Girls, we all experience it. Guys, if you’re writing includes female characters and they go to the beach, they might have to wear a tampon at certain times of the month. That’s not to say that you must include such a detail, let alone describe it (please don’t), but at least be aware that it happens.


Rocks make great handholds, until they bite back.


Seriously though, I can’t count the times when I was swimming near shore and nearly stuck my hand on a sea urchin or in an eel’s mouth. Eels like to hide in clefts in the rocks, and they’re pretty territorial. Sea urchins are all over the rocks.

My dad once got bit by a sea urchin, and it left a little circular shape on his fingers. Apparently, it hurt. A lot. Then my brother got stuck by a sea urchin’s quills on two different occasions, and his hand swelled up so that he looked like Kirk when he had a reaction to a vaccine Bones gave him. Sea urchins look pretty, and while you can touch them without injuring yourself, you don’t want to get stabbed.

And let’s not forget rocks. According to my dad, ““Flesh versus rock, rock wins every time.” While you might encounter some friendly, slimy boulder in a lake, you’re more likely to encounter some not-so-friendly ones in the ocean. If you’re by a volcanic island, you’re also going to encounter lava rock with tends to be very sharp. I’d rather walk barefoot on wood chips or hot cement than lava rock.


Some people are terrified of the water.


One time in college, I was chatting with some of my friends about the ocean and how, like in Finding Nemo, the ocean bottom drops out into a black abyss. Then, one of my friends started shaking his head saying, “NO.” Suddenly, he was terrified of the ocean, even though he had never been.

Similarly, it’s possible to simultaneously be terrified of the water and fascinated by it. For example, I’m afraid of heights, so unlike a lot of people, seeing the bottom of a lake or the ocean scares me. But, I lived in Hawaii for three years. During that time, my family and I visited the beach on a weekly basis. I should be fine, right?

Wrong. Because I haven’t had consistent trips to the water, it has become like a distant friend. Like Moana, I am drawn to the sea. I enjoy staring out over endless water. I dream of sailing and swimming and plunging beneath the waves.

But unlike her, I may or may not have a panic attack before setting foot in three feet of water. Last time I went swimming in the Mediterranean Sea, I started hyperventilating. Once I got past the entrance (with a drop off; it wasn’t quite a beach), I was better. I was still a bit nervous, but at least I could breathe. One of the ways to deal with such panic attacks is continual exposure. Like anything else, the danger doesn’t evaporate, but my confidence grows.


Let’s not forget about sand!


It’s coarse and rough and gets everywhere. And it feels really weird when you end up with a mouthful. Don’t ask.

After reading this post, you may be dissuaded from approaching the ocean. But it’s a truly magnificent place, I assure you. There’s something about the way the water stretches to the horizon, the smell of the salt in the air, the feel of the water on your skin as you submerge beneath the waves, or the first time you spot a sea turtle or a sea lion that’s simply wonderful.

***

Film references: Star Wars, Star Trek, The Abyss, Finding Nemo, and Moana.



Let’s chat! What are some of the most interesting aspects about the ocean you have found? Do you have anything to add to the list of above tips? 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Author Interview: Lisa Nicodemus Lyons

Meet the author! Lisa Nicodemus Lyons is an indie author, editor, and collector of unicorn tapestries. She is the author of The Alliance series, its sequel the Allegiance series, and a standalone novel, The Hunt of the Unicorn. I was first given a copy of her the first book in her series, In the Palace of Rygia, in exchange for an honest review. Little did I know that a couple months later, I would get the chance to meet her! 

If I were to pick one of my inks to describe Lisas novels, it would be Drachenblut (German for dragon’s blood). 
While there are aren’t any actual dragons in her novels, the great beasts still play a large role.

Welcome, Lisa! It’s good to have you on my blog. I hope you’re having a fabulous summer. Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’ve been a writer/editor/designer for the national office of my denomination for the past 20 years. Prior to that, I worked as a writer and editor for a small-town newspaper. My kids are grown and have their own kids now, so I guess I’m an empty-nester. But my life is so busy, I don’t feel like it’s empty.


What does your writing space typically look like?

I sit on the couch with my feet up and a laptop. If I have music playing, it’s usually Enya. And my little dog Pippin is on the couch at my side. Yes, she’s named for a hobbit.


When it comes to writing, what is your drink of choice?

Vanilla latte or homemade chai. The lattes are homemade too. But they have to be decaf, because I work all day and can only write in the evenings.


Who are some of your favorite authors? How have they inspired you?

C.S. Lewis is at the top of my list. I was introduced to him while I was ill and bedridden many, many years ago. The Chronicles of Narnia got me through a tough time and took my mind to fun places. I remember thinking at the time, “I sure would like to write like him!”

Then came Tolkien, of course, but other favorites are Bodie Thoene, Stephen Lawhead, Carol Berg, and Terry Goodkind. They’ve inspired me through the fantastic worlds and characters they’ve created and the way they draw me into their stories. Ever since I was a kid, my mind has gone to imaginary places, and it was nice to visit such places created by others and escape from the real world for a time.

Thoene is an exception, since her works aren’t fantasy, but I very much loved learning more about real people in real history through her WWII fiction. Her books inspired me to pick up some actual history books and learn even more.


Can you tell us about your books? Where would you recommend readers start?

Definitely start with book 1 of “The Alliance” series, called In the Palace of Rygia. That’s the beginning of a very long, very intense epic. The series takes place mainly in two realms that have been at war for some time. One is a realm of righteous believers who follow the teachings of the God called Eloah. 

The main character throughout the series is a man named Justus Corden, general of the opposing realm, Rygia, and leader of the war against the righteous… that is, until he’s forgiven by a man who dies at his hands. Don’t worry, that’s not a spoiler. It happens in the very first chapter. 

From that point on, Justus must wrestle with everything he’s known and believed, and he finds himself trying futilely to reject a call that was placed on his life long ago. Of course, there’s a woman of the righteous realm whom he meets, and there are many other memorable characters that you’ll fall in love with. The main theme throughout the series is forgiveness—especially for an enemy.


If you could meet only one of your characters, who would you pick?

That’s a tough question. Every author’s characters are like his/her children. It’s hard to pick a favorite. One might think my main character, Justus, would be the one, but I believe I’d lean more toward Turek Enfield. Readers won’t meet him until the series that follows “The Alliance.” The series is called “Allegiance,” and it picks up where “The Alliance” left off. I made it a separate series because the main characters are mostly of the next generation, and the adventures take on a worldwide scope rather than focusing on just two or three realms.


Who has been the hardest character to write and why?

Definitely Turek. He’s a bit on the crazy side. Getting inside the head of a crazy person has been quite a ride. But he’s probably the most rounded of all my characters—you never know which way he’ll lean or what he’s going to do next.


What has been your favorite thing about the self-publishing journey so far?

The control I have over everything. And how quickly you can get your books out there. On the other hand, my least favorite thing about it is the lack of advertising and exposure. Most authors are great at writing and lousy at advertising. I’m like those people. But for brand-new, up-and-coming authors who might never get a chance with a publisher, it’s so great to see your work in print (whether digital or paper). These days, you have to be a known quantity before a publisher will give you a second glance. It’s a tough market, especially if your niche is tiny, like Christian speculative fiction.


What one piece of advice would you give to upcoming indie authors?

Don’t let anyone sway you one way or another when it comes to your stories. Keep true to your own convictions and write from your own heart. Don’t try to fit your square peg into the round holes of established publishing. Just because they’re the giants doesn’t mean they’re right. Their decisions are made for the bottom line—money. Or at least the money they think they’ll make. 

I believe the statistics show that only 1 out of 10 professionally published books make good money for the publishers. Others either break even or lose money. That one popular book then carries the others by keeping the publisher afloat. This means that most authors aren’t going to get rich from their work, whether professionally published or self-published, so just do what makes you happy.


And one final question, just for fun. Pick three random characters from any of your books. Got it? Okay, now imagine they are all stuck in a rowboat just offshore of Caledron. What happens?

Oh, it would be so much fun to put in a couple of mortal enemies, like Justus and Letah. Then throw in someone for comedic relief, like Paulus the Fox. Will they kill each other or come to terms? I think in the end, the rowboat bumps against Caledron’s shores with nothing but dead bodies in it. But then, that wouldn’t be picking them at random, would it? I guess I chose them purposefully.

For random characters, I opened my first book to random pages and put my finger down. My characters, thus, are General Rolland Longsword, King Medan, and Justus’ daughter Anna. I suppose if they’re just off the isle of Caledron, Medan would try to pull the boat toward the isle while Rolland tries to pull it away, toward Rygia. Meanwhile, Anna would have to fight against Medan’s advances and lewd comments. Eventually Rolland would knock Medan out, despite the fact that he’s king. So Rolland saves the day and takes them home to Rygia, but he’d be grumbling about their situation the whole time.


Wow! I really like your answers. Thanks again for coming!

You’re very welcome! Thank you for having me!

***

You can check out my book review for In the Palace or Rygia here, and you can grab a copy of her books on Amazon!

Say hello to Lisa, everybody! Have you read any of her books yet? If so, which one is your favorite? 

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Should Books Be Categorized?

I recently decided to sort my fiction by color. My sister took one look at the books and said, “You separated THE SERIES?!”

Yes, I did.

Thankfully, though my fiction collection is small enough that I can still find everything.
I don’t have to imagine what it’s like to set foot in a library and not be able to find anything. I have at almost every library I’ve been to. The first time I’d go in looking for a book I knew was on the shelf, hunt for at least an hour and a half, and leave disappointed. (Yes, I am an introvert. No, I DO NOT go to the library to talk to people, though I don’t mind talking to librarians I am already acquainted with.)

Despite most libraries following the Dewey Decimal System, it took me ages to figure it all out. Once I started volunteering at my local library in Vicenza, Italy, I finally started figuring out how everything worked. (You would think as a bookworm, that I would have figured it out before I turned 21. Haha! Nope.)

Perhaps my favorite thing about volunteering at the library was helping set up displays. Sometimes the head librarian would give me a topic or tell me to pick one, then give me free reign to find books throughout the library to put on display.

  
Note: This post is a satire and should not be taken 100% seriously.

First off, let’s examine some of the pros and cons of the Dewey Decimal System.


Pro: if you know the system, it’s easy to navigate.


You have nonfiction separated from fiction, young adult (YA) separated from adult separated from children’s, and so forth. If you’re looking for a cookbook, you probably won’t find it next to a novel about dragons.


Con: unspecific genres.


I can’t tell you how many times I’ve picked up a YA book expecting adventure and discovery and ended up with a romance. And who decided it was a great idea to lump the science fiction and the fantasy together? Sure, they may crossover sometimes (e.g., Thor, Dragonsdawn, Season of Wonder). But come on. What if I wanted to read a high fantasy and ended up with a space opera? (And don’t say “Read the blurb.” They spoil things!)


Solution: ultra-specific genres.


Why organize novels as sci-fi/fantasy when you can organize them as sci-fi: dystopian, sci-fi space opera, high fantasy, contemporary fantasy, sci-fi/fantasy crossover. It’s a bit more complicated, but it makes soooooo much more sense. Right?


Pro: you can find new books browsing in sections where you enjoyed old ones.


Some days, I like browsing YA and find another book on my list or grab one at random. Other days, I discover books by authors I enjoyed before in completely different sections. Discovering your next great read is sometimes five or six books over on the shelf.


Con: some books don’t get the exposure they deserve.


Some people will avoid certain sections because they sound uninteresting or they read one book from that genre that they didn’t like. (Or they’re a teenager embarrassed to walk into the children’s section because it has a book in the series they’re reading.) Personally, I don’t read nearly enough nonfiction as I should. Something about being in school for the past five years has got me on an extreme fiction kick.


Solution: book displays!


As I mentioned before, one of my favorite parts of volunteering at the library was setting up book displays. Whether it was fairy tales, winter themed books, or classics turned into movies, finding books and putting them on display was like a scavenger hunt. Sometimes you’d get two books sitting next to each other that wouldn’t otherwise be related, and it was rather interesting to see.

I’m also one of those readers who likes to pull books off the displays and check them out because I couldn’t resist the color. 
 
My books organized by color.
I have a small enough library that I can actually do this! 


Pro: you can actually find stuff!


In Patrick Rothfuss’s The Kingkiller Chronicles the Archives, the library at the magical University, is so chaotic in its organization that students have to search, sometimes for days on end, to find anything. The reason being—so many people had different ideas of how to organize the books, and they all died before the library could be completely organized. Talk about a lot of books! In the end, I’m pretty sure the Archives sounds like a librarian’s nightmare. At least we have a nation-wide accepted system.


Con: I don’t think in the Dewey Decimal System.


I think about how a book made me feel. Or how the cover caught my eye. I don’t necessarily think about where I found a book, though sometimes I might remember one book’s location if I have to shelve it often enough.


Solution: no categorization.


Let’s just walk into a library or a bookstore and pick books based on color or blurb or spontaneous discovery. Never mind the frustration that comes with not being able to find a book, that comes even with semi-organized shelves. After all, searching for a book is a treasure hunt anyway, right?

Then again, perhaps we should just stick with the system and set up certain book displays in the hopes that good books get the attention they deserve.

***

Film references: Marvel’s Thor

Literary references: Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonsdawn, Lisa T. Bergren’s Season of Wonder, and Patrick Rothfuss’ The Kingkiller Chronicles.

Let’s chat? Do you believe me? What’s your stance on organization? 

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Poem: Pile of Words

Do you know what today is? It’s the celebration of my 100th blog post! (Okay, maybe it’s not that exciting.)

*throws confetti* *scrambles for chocolate* *runs around singing opera*

Let’s celebrate!

And now, time for my monthly poem. This one is a bit darker than usual, unfortunately. But that’s the thing about language. It’s used not just to communicate the joys in our life but also the sorrows.

The following poem is one of the few that I’ve written that deals with depression. Some days I struggle with doubt and self-pity, which of course drives me crazy. Despite my enjoyment of books, there are some days I don’t want to read. Despite my appreciation for language, there are some days I don’t want to speak or to write.

Yet somehow, I managed to write the following poem on such a day.


Pile of Words

I’m buried under
            a pile of words…
Nothing but these words
                                    Words
                                                Words

Words of yesterday,
words of tomorrow,
ones of happiness,
ones of sorrow.

I cannot feel
            the tips
of my fingers
            under this mountain…

I’ve used up my word quota
            and
                        all
                                    that
                        is
            left
is this…

            nothingness


***


On a lighter note, as promised, I have compiled a book pyramid out of the all the books in my personal library. Yes, it was hard. No, I will probably never, ever do it again. Your welcome.

The Universe at the center of the book pyramid.
Photo credit: Valaria Klein
Building the book pyramid. My sister handed me books
and kept trying to run off with others while I assembled this mountain.
Photo credit: Valaria Klein

The final product! (In full color.) My sis' said it looks more like a cone than a pyramid. Thoughts?

***

Similar posts: Bury Me and Small Talk


Let’s chat! Sorry if I drove you crazy with the poem’s weird punctuation, but I think it accurately represents a certain level of apathy. What did you think of the poem? How about the book pyramid? What’s the craziest thing you’ve done for a good photo/video? 

Monday, June 26, 2017

Character Types: The Emotionless One

If you’re wondering why I haven’t posted the past two Sundays, you can read all about my reasons in my latest newsletter for last Sunday (River of Books; sign up for the Word Storm Newsletter here!). This Sunday, I was having technological problems. I couldn’t connect my computer to the internet at all.  Now, I’m back! *waves*

I hope you are having as much fun reading these character posts as I am writing them! They may be challenging thus far, but I really, really, really like character analysis. This week, I’m here to talk about yet another one of my favorite characters—The Emotionless One. They may not be the easier character to empathize with considering they tend to be absolute jerks, but they’re simultaneously fascinating.

Note: The Emotionless One is not to be confused with The Brooding Boyfriend or The Compulsive Liar, though they may overlap at times.


“‘It must be because you’re so approachable,’ I say flatly.
‘You know. Like a bed of nails.’”
(Tris, Divergent)

A few examples of The Emotionless One include but are not limited to Sherlock Holmes (Sherlock Holmes collection by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle), Spock (Star Trek, the original series and the latest movies), and Jahan, son of Elam (Last of the Memory Keepers by yours truly). Here are just a couple of the traits they tend to exhibit.



 They’re often misunderstood.


Okay, before you start telling me that’s just an excuse, here me out. A lot of times, people—even readers—jump to conclusions before they get to know a character. One of the main reasons Sherlock didn’t have a lot of friends (aside from the fact that he was a jerk) is that few people took the time to really listen. Mrs. Hudson needed boarders, and Lestrade needed Sherlock’s help, but it wasn’t until John took the time to listen that Sherlock found a best friend.

John: That… was amazing… It was quite extraordinary.
Sherlock: That’s not what people normally say.
John: What do people normally say?
Sherlock: “**** off”.
(Sherlock, “A Study in Pink”)

 They tend to lack social skills.


Sherlock can deduce a person’s occupation and personal habits but doesn’t always recognize when he’s being cruel. Jahan is perhaps the exception, as he can empathize well with other people.

Bones: You could at least act like it was a hard decision.
Spock: I intend to assist in the effort to reestablish communication with Starfleet. However, if crew morale is better served by my roaming the halls weeping, I will gladly defer to your medical expertise. Excuse me.
Bones: [as Spock leaves] Green-blooded hobgoblin.
(Star Trek)

Things that are obvious to everybody else are not obvious to them.


Sherlock doesn’t know the earth revolved around the sun or that England doesn’t currently have a king. Jahan can be incredibly naïve when it comes to his family and overly secretive when it comes to his friends.

John: But it’s the solar system!
Sherlock: Oh! How? What does that matter? So we go ’round the sun. If we went ’round the moon or round and round the garden like a teddy bear it wouldn’t make any difference. All that matters to me is the work. Without that my brain rots. Put that in your blog. Or better still, stop inflicting your opinions on the world.
(Sherlock, “The Blind Banker”)

They’re incredibly smart in some areas.


Sherlock can deduce a lot in one glance and only takes cases that are intellectually stimulating. Spock was accepted to the Vulcan Science Academy (yet declined admission), designed the Kobayashi Maru test, and even quotes Sherlock Holmes. And while Jahan may not express emotions, he is good at discerning them.

Sherlock: What is it like in your funny little brains? It must be so boring!
(Sherlock, “A Study in Pink”)

They’re not always emotionless. Sometimes they just process emotions differently.


A recent trend within the film industry has been to give The Emotionless One at least one instance when show some form of extreme emotion. Sherlock is often overprotective of John; Spock nearly strangles Kirk; et cetera. While many of these extreme displays of emotion from The Emotionless One are often criticized, that doesn’t mean these characters are completely unfeeling.

However, while Sherlock may have been overtly emotional in the BBC adaptation, there is only one instance that comes to my mind when he showed fear in the books after John got shot. Spock, on the other hand, is half-human, half-Vulcan, giving him some of the characteristics of both. Likewise, most of Jahan’s reactions are internal.

Sarek: Emotions run deep within our race. In many ways, more deeply than in Humans. Logic offers a serenity Humans seldom experience. The control of feelings, so that they do not control you.
Spock: You suggest that I should be completely Vulcan, and yet you married a Human. 
Sarek: As ambassador to Earth, it is my duty to observe and understand Human behavior. Marrying your mother was logical. Spock, you are fully capable of deciding your own destiny. The question you face is: which path will you choose? This is something only you can decide.
(Star Trek)

Anybody else notice what else I might have described in this post? And before you say a psychopath or even a high functioning sociopath, think really hard.

If you picked autism, you would be correct.

However, it’s important to differentiate between the terms and their characteristics. Personally, I would not label autistic characters as emotionless. They may process emotions differently, but they are far from unfeeling. If anything, they feel deeper than others.

Often times, the main issue with The Emotionless One is that they’re just labeled emotionless without the author really delving into why. When Doyle wrote the Sherlock Holmes stories, autism was relatively undiscovered, so we may never know if his famous detective was autistic or sociopathic. It doesn’t help that Doyle really didn’t care about accuracy either. While the modern BBC adaptation tries to explore the traits of a high functioning sociopath, it’s not entirely accurate. There’s even one point where John suggests Sherlock has autism. I’m sorry, but pick ONE. They are not the same.

When writing or examining The Emotionless One, there are generally different reasons for their lack of emotion:

1) Their mental processing is different.


·       E.g. Sociopaths.
·       E.g. Vulcans. As a nonhuman race, the Vulcans think in a very different manner from the humans. As a result, they often come across as being arrogant and emotionless. Their traits are also cultural (see below).

2) It’s cultural.


·       E.g. Germany. Believe it or not, the Germans often come across as very stoic. They’re seen as lacking in a sense of humor and being incredibly critical because they state things the way they are.
·       Lightning Wielders. In their culture, showing emotions to people outside of their immediate family and/or close friends is considered very rude. Hence, Jahan comes off having no emotions, until he befriends Rhona.

Rhona: “I am not emotional.” 
Jahan: “No. You’re passionate. There’s nothing shameful in it.”
(Last of the Memory Keepers)

3) It’s personal.


·       There are many different reasons for hiding emotions, the primary one in fiction being a survival technique. In some cases, showing emotion can be seen as a sign of weakness, so as a defense mechanism, the characters learn to adapt. Developing a poker face can also be a helpful trick for con artists and thieves.

Other examples of The Emotionless One not discussed in this post include Tempi (The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss) and Wong (Doctor Strange). Such characters are perhaps some of the most difficult to understand, which only makes them more fascinating.

***

Film references: Star Trek, 2009

Literary references: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes collection, Patrick Rothfuss’ The Wise Man’s Fear, Azelyn Klein’s Last of the Memory Keepers, and Veronica Roth’s Divergent.



Let’s chat! Who is your favorite emotionless character? Which do you think could have been written better? Which of the three reasons for a “lack of emotion” would you like to see more in fiction? 

Sunday, June 11, 2017

8 Obscure Books I Thoroughly Enjoyed


I’ve got a thing for obscure books. There are plenty of occasions when I tell a friend about the book I’m reading only to hear, “I’ve never heard of that one.” In some ways, it’s nice. Without the influence of my friends or of the masses, I can form my own opinions on the books. But in other ways, it’s annoying. If I really enjoy the book, I may feel like it’s not getting the attention it deserves. And how am I supposed to talk to anybody about it if nobody has read it?

The following books are organized by the authors’ last names.

Reading Flatland with a three-dimensional bookmark.

Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions by Edwin A. Abbott

I heard about this book as a kid, and the concepts fascinated me. But it took years before I discovered it again and was finally able to add it to my To Be Read (TBR) List. During a creative writing class in college, a local author came to discuss her own book (see below), and she talked about how she found this book to be an inspiration. Part discussion on mathematics and the dimensions, part social critique, Flatland is narrative that explores the life of a square, from the second dimension (i.e. Flatland), and what becomes of him when he discovers the presence of the other dimensions.



The Shifter by Chris T. Acadian


When Acadian came to talk to my creative writing class about her book, I became really excited. Not just about Flatland but also out The Shifter, a story about people who can slip into the fourth dimension. The writing style and the plot is quite unique, unlike any story I’ve read yet, and the concepts are fascinating! I’m still eagerly awaiting the release of the next book…



Season of Wonder (Remnants, book 1) by Lisa T. Bergren


I first discovered Bergren’s works when I first picked up Waterfall, and it didn’t take long for me to get sucked into the story. Unlike the River of Time series, however, Season of Wonder and the accompanying Remnants books focus less on an epic, whirlwind romance and more on what the spiritual realm might look like in a fantasy/dystopian society. This trilogy has to be my favorite of Bergren’s works.



The Naming (Books of Pellinor, book 1) by Alison Croggon


While I do have a couple friends who have read this book, I feel like the series as a whole is not talked about nearly enough. Croggon develops a unique world and magic system with a Tolkien-esque complexity, and I definitely wouldn’t mind doing more research to find out where her influence comes from. Once a fantasy quadrilogy, now a series of five with the release of the latest prequel, The Bone Queen, the Books of Pellinor contain beautiful scenery and epic adventures. I would recommend starting with The Naming (UK, The Gift).   



Methuselah’s Gift by Mary Elizabeth Edgren


When asked which book has influenced me most as a writer, I cannot give an accurate response. After all, every book has made me who I am as a reader and a writer, and that’s constantly changing considering how much I read. But if I were to pick one book from my childhood that first showed me the joys of reading and writing, it would be Methuselah’s Gift. A charming tale about talking racoons and their adjustment to life on the other side of the creek after a forest fire, this book was among the first that drew me to writing.



In the Palace of Rygia (The Alliance, book 1) by L. Nicodemus Lyons


I received the first book in this series in exchange for an honest review and knew I was hooked. So my mom bought me the rest of the series, and I read all seven in two weeks, part of which was during midterms. Not only are the books captivating, but they are full of good themes, a smidge of humor, and lots of research. I also had the privilege to meet the author, who has become one of my good writing friends.



Where the Woods Grow Wild by Nathan Philbrick


Another indie book with wonderful writing style, Philbrick creates a world with a familiar setting but with a unique twist. Full of well-developed characters, witty remarks, and seemingly impossible struggles, Where the Woods Grow Wild is a must read for fans of fantasy. It’s also a great story in that it addresses what it’s like to live with a physical disability and to know somebody with one.



By Darkness Hid (Blood of Kings, book 1) by Jill Williamson

If there is any series that I most associate with bookworm cramps from being immobile all day, it’s this one. Even though each book is nearly 500 pages long, I read the entire trilogy in four days. Part of it was because I had nothing else to do, and part of it was because the characters and their quest was so captivating, I couldn’t put the books down. This is perhaps one of the first books I’ve read on my e-reader, and considering I still prefer physical books, it speaks to the trilogy’s quality.

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Similar posts: Treasured Books and Book Reviews: The Shifter, In the Palace of Rygia, and Season of Wonder 

Let’s chat! Have you read any of the above books? Have any been added to your TBR List yet? What are some obscure books you enjoyed? 

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Poem: Cathedral

Over the past couple of years, since I’ve visited many cathedrals and written various poems, I wanted to write a poem that captured my emotions. But poetry doesn’t come for the asking. Sometimes it comes in spurts. If I force it, it sounds terrible.

So I waited, biding my time, until this poem came to me. I can’t say it embodies one particular building or experience, but a combination of them all. The two it most reminds me of are Notre Dame de Paris and Ulm Münster, two very different, gothic pieces of architecture. 



Cathedral

The people, like grains of sand
blow through the halls of stone,
like scattered dust amid solid,
gray rock. Sunlight streams
through the chinks of colored
windows, warming some grains
while others go untouched
in shadow, and others yet hide
amid the cracks of rock
ne’er to move despite where
the wind blows and seeps
through the halls, causing the sand
to dance across this ancient earth.

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Similar posts: Bury Me and The Muse


Let’s chat! What did you think of the poem? If you’ve ever set foot in a cathedral, what was your first experience like? What is one of your favorite cathedrals to visit?