Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Hooked on Classics

Sarah at Sarah Reads Too Much is hosting a “Back to the Classics”  reading challenge for 2011.  This challenge is open to anyone who would like to participate.  I’ve decided to take a stab at it.  This will be my first go at a reading challenge, but I think I can do it.  The Challenge is open from January - June 2011.  If I can write a book in one month (jury’s still out on that one), I think I can read eight in six months.  I actually have my selections for each category save one.  These are all books I’ve been wanting to read for years, but haven’t for one reason or another.  They all have the added virtue of being books I already own.
Click the link above or the picture in the sidebar to sign up yourself.
The goals to complete:
  1. A Banned BookSlaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut  
  2. A Book with a Wartime Setting (can be any war)Schindler’s List (originally published as Schindler’s Ark, but my copy’s called Schindler’s List, so I’m going with that) by Thomas Keneally
  3. A Pulitzer Prize (Fiction) Winner or Runner Up:  a list can be found hereThe Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
  4. A Children's/Young Adult ClassicAlice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  5. 19th Century ClassicMoby Dick by Hermann Melville
  6. 20th Century ClassicThe Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  7. A Book you think should be considered a 21st Century Classic – Open, see below
  8. Re-Read a book from your High School/College Classes – The Scarlett Letter by Nathanial Hawthorne
There are too many good options for number seven for me to decide.  Besides, I won’t know if it’s a classic until I read it, right?  Because of that, I’ve decided to let you, fearless readers, decide for me.  If I get enough feedback in the comments, I’ll pick the one that gets suggested the most. 

If you all gang up on me and pick Going Rogue, I’m going to be very upset.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

How Many Have You Read?

Thank You Rachel @ Rachel Morgan Writes for posting this.
The BBC apparently thinks the majority of people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here...
• Copy this list.
Bold those books you’ve read in their entirety.
Italicize the ones you started but didn’t finish or read only an excerpt.
I have read:
  1. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
  2.  The Lord of the Rings JRR Tolkien
  3.  Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
  4.  Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
  5.  To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
  6.  The Bible
  7.  Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
  8.  Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
  9. His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
  10. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
  11. Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
  12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
  13.  Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
  14.  Complete Works of Shakespeare
  15. Rebecca – Daphe Du Maurier
  16.  The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
  17. Birdsong – Sebastian Faulk
  18.  Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
  19. The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
  20. Middlemarch – George Eliot
  21. Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
  22.  The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
  23.  War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
  24.  The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
  25. Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
  26.  Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  27.  Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
  28.  Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carrol
  29. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
  30. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
  31. David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
  32.  Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
  33. Emma -Jane Austen
  34. Persuasion – Jane Austen
  35.  The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe – CS Lewis
  36. The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
  37. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
  38. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
  39.  Winne the Pooh - A. A. Milne
  40.  Animal Farm – George Orwell
  41.  The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
  42. One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  43. A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
  44. The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
  45. Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
  46. Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
  47.  The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
  48. Lord of the Flies – William Golding
  49. Atonement – Ian McEwan
  50.  Life of Pi – Yann Martel
  51.  Dune – Frank Herbert
  52. Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
  53. Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
  54. A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
  55. The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  56.  A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
  57.  Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
  58.  The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
  59. Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  60. Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
  61. Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
  62. The Secret History – Donna Tartt
  63. The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
  64.  Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
  65. On The Road – Jack Kerouac
  66. Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
  67. Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
  68. Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
  69.  Moby Dick – Herman Melville
  70. Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
  71.  Dracula – Bram Stoker
  72. The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
  73. Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
  74.  Ulysses – James Joyce
  75.  The Inferno – Dante
  76. Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
  77. Germinal – Emile Zola
  78. Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
  79. Possession – AS Byatt
  80.  Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
  81. Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
  82. The Color Purple – Alice Walker
  83. The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
  84. Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
  85. A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
  86.  Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White
  87. The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
  88.  Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  89. The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
  90. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
  91. The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
  92. The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
  93.  Watership Down – Richard Adams
  94.  A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
  95. A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
  96. The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
  97.  Hamlet – William Shakespeare
  98. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
  99. Les Miserables – Victor Hugo
  100. ??? (For you observant types, yes the list does appear to be missing book no. 100, and a couple of titles are double listed, as well)

I’m not sure what the significance of the list is – I couldn’t track it to the original source, but it’s got some great titles, a good mix of the old and the new.  There are books here I haven’t even thought about since childhood.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I‘ve got a lot of reading to do.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Revenant Evil

NaNo, you soul sucking bastard, oh how I love you so…

Word Count – 13,406.  “Suggested” Word Count – 18,334

rockyI feel like Rocky Balboa at the end of the first Rocky movie.  He wasn’t trying to beat Apollo Creed; he just wanted to go fifteen rounds (or however many it was; it’s been a while) with the champ. He just wanted to prove that he belonged there, to himself more than anyone (and Adrienne). He knew wasn’t the best, but he knew he could compete with the best. 

It’s NaNo day twelve as I stagger to my corner.  I’ve got the cauliflower ear, someone needs to slice open the puffy sack under my eye with a razor blade, and I’m spitting blood into a bucket.  But I’m in it.  Whatever happens, no matter how many times the blank page shouts up at me “It’s over!” or “Yer a bum!” in its best Burgess Meredith, I’m keeping on keeping on. 

I started slowly, barely crawled, in fact. Life got in the way in the wee hours of Monday morning, and I didn’t actually write a word that wasn’t part of the title until Day 2. But I’m kicking along pretty good. I actually like the story, and when the draft’s finished and I go back to revise, I think I might have something pretty good. Personally, I like the characters, and I’m eager to find out what happens next (even though I already know, mostly). If you can get engaging characters and an interesting plot, you about 90% there.

I had originally conceived of a zombie-takes-revenge-on-a-town tale, and became concerned when my undead refused to behave like traditional zombies. It’s one thing to have a fresh take on the genre, it’s another thing to throw beloved conventions and expectations out the window. Anyone who would go near a zombie book wants to read about zombies, and zombies are specific creatures with specific attributes. I was worried my “zombies” would be so far off the map that I’d annoy or bore the very audience I’d be seeking. Until I realized I wasn’t writing about zombies at all.

It turns my undead weren’t zombies but revenants, a term I’d heard before here and there but hadn’t given much thought to. A revenant (as most horror and comics fans know) is an undead (corporeal or ghost) with an individual personality and a specific motivation, usually revenge. Revenants are often brought back via magic or with the aid of some sort of necromancer. In some cases, there can be “good-guy” revenants like Spawn. There’s no zombie apocalypse or zombie virus. This description fits my undead perfectly. It was exactly what I needed to help shape my story and keep the plot from spewing out all over the place.

I just think it’s interesting how I tapped unconsciously into something that’s been a part of folklore and pop culture for centuries without even realizing. Somewhere down the road (when I’m not writing a novel in a month) there’s a blog about the collective subconscious.

Maybe that’s why people keep stealing my ideas two years before I have them.