reileen: (writing - pen and notebook)
Hahaha, it's Week Three of NaNoEdMo and I am so behind - still stuck at only 14 hours and 10 minutes of logged editing time. Doing the math...if I picked things up again on Monday, I'd have to log 4 hours a day in order to reach 50 hours by the end of the month. Oops! I might able to cut that down a tiny bit if I can get my ART260 final project (which is, ironically enough, about NaNoWriMo) done by tonight, because that means I'd be able to do work on Sunday. Still, I gotta step up the game.

What's really bad is that I find myself also thinking about my NaNo2007 project, Glass Houses. I think this is more a result of me banging my head against the wall over Daemonsong than it is a loss of interest in Daemonsong, and possibly also just a general lack of ability to concentrate on my part. Whatever the case, it's really annoying, although it's probably good that I'm doing even a little bit of groundwork for Glass Houses, because I do plan to tackle it at some point, so any little bit helps. Even if that point is a couple of years in the future because I don't have the talent or knowledge yet to pull off what I want to do, which is to write Glass Houses in a similar way as to the Japanese light novel form. The prose style shouldn't give me issues, since it's typically simplified with short, direct paragraphs, but the format requires illustrations that I'm not sure I have the talent to pull off (and I refuse to delegate the task to someone else). Plus, of course, there's the plotting issue to deal with (how many volumes? IT'LL NEVER END, MWAHAHAHAHA), and figuring out what kind of story I want to tell. Ideally, I'd like Glass Houses to be my "fuck it, I am going to have lots of crazy nonsensical fun with this series and you can't fuckin' stop me motherfuckers" - the tone would be similar to most of my fanfiction. At any rate, I'd definitely prefer for it to be more humorous than Daemonsong.

Okay, gotta get going. This ART260 project won't finish itself...although that'd be pretty sweet.
reileen: (reading - books)
RE: NaNoWriMo 2009

Hear that in the distance? That looming, rumbling noise? That's not a thunderstorm* - that's the sound of countless writers pounding away at their keyboards, trying to vomit out as many words as possible in week one of NaNoWriMo before they black out temporarily in week two.

For once, I'm not going to have this problem - I'm revisiting my script from last year. Which I probably blabbed about at some point earlier in this LJ. Instead of doing 50,000 words in a month, I'm shooting for 50 hours of revision in a month. So far I've logged 3.5 hours, and I'm a little bit dlkjlakfjlakjdfa about having to deal with tangled plot threads and flat characters and paper-thin worldbuilding that makes no sense. But I console myself that at least Daemonsong is in hellah bettah shape than Glass Houses, hoo boy. I'm still excited, though - I think I have something potentially readable here. I don't think it'll become a bestseller, assuming that I manage to snag an agent and get this professionally published, but I think I can be proud of it.

It feels weird not to have a wordcount goal, not to be exulting in cracky-ass plot breakthroughs and bitching about how everything I'm writing is crap ('cause it is, particularly at that point). But I suppose I make up for my deviations by roping a meatspace friend of mine into his very first NaNo novel. I get to be his unofficial NaNo mentor - or NaNo nagger, probably. I also have a final project for my ART260 class in which I may take on the NaNoWriMo experience as my subject matter.

***

RE: Bibliophilia

Since logging Trick of the Light into my reading journal and writing up a review here, I've blown past a couple of other books. I wish I could do a more in-depth review of them, but since I'm running into my last few weeks of fall quarter, the projects and work are starting to pile on a bit and I can't concentrate as well as I'd like, and I don't want to put this off any longer. So, here's thoughts on some of the stuff I've read lately.

The Devil You Know by Mike Carey
Highly recommended. I picked this up because someone on fandom_lounge described it as a "more mature version of the Dresden Files". It lives up quite well to that particular description, although obviously it's a lot more complex than just SRS BSNS DRESDEN FILES. It's set in London, and centers around Felix Castor, an exorcist who returns to the trade after he quit because he majorly fucked up an exorcism for a friend. The wit and humor that one could expect to find in one of the Dresden Files books is a lot more toned down in The Devil You Know, but both take an irreverent, blackly humorous approach to the dark things in life and I enjoyed it greatly. In contrast to the Dresden Files, we see character change in Felix almost immediately, but I think that's a function of the fact that part of the emotional plotline is why he decides to ultimately return to the trade of exorcism. There's also a slightly out-of-left-field yet completely charming and loltastic twist right at the end, after the main plotline is tied up and done, which makes me want to pick up the rest of the series even more.


The Mermaid's Madness by Jim C. Hines ([livejournal.com profile] jimhines)
Highly recommended, though you should read the first book first. Takes place about a year after The Stepsister Scheme. In an annual diplomatic ceremony gone wrong, Queen Beatrice's soul is stolen from her when she's stabbed with a magical knife wielded by Lirea, a rather off-kilter mermaid princess who has killed her father, taken the throne, and is now looking for her sister Lannadae, intending on her killing her as well in order to cement her authority as queen of the merfolk (who prefer to be called undine). Danielle (Cinderella), Talia (Sleeping Beauty), and Snow (White) race against time to find the mermaid who created Lirea's knife, in the hopes that they can save Bea's soul before Bea's body dies. Of course, nothing is that simple, and they quickly find that things are a lot more complicated than they thought.

I'd been looking forward to this next installment of the Princess novels for months already, and I wasn't disappointed. As good as The Stepsister Scheme was, the plotting of The Mermaid's Madness is better focused, and it also has the added benefit of expanding POV characters to Talia, Snow, and even poor, battered Lirea. It makes me wonder, however, what The Stepsister Scheme would have been like if we'd seen Talia and Snow as POV characters there. I'm not sure it would have worked that well for me - I can lose patience with multiple viewpoints pretty fast (which is why I stopped reading GRRM's novels after the second one). But since I already knew and loved the characters from the previous novel, it was a lot easier for me to get inside their heads in the second novel. I think the effect of having Danielle as the POV character is similar to the "stranger in a strange land" trope, which in this case is Danielle the peasant girl suddenly having to navigate the world of royalty after marrying Prince Charming (who really is a genuinely nice guy, heroic without having to save Danielle or any of the other princesses). This carries over to the readers, and we're taken along, wide-eyed, with Danielle to explore this fantastical world, which is simultaneously familiar and foreign. It's not until we get acquainted and acclimated to the world and characters of The Stepsister Scheme that we can better appreciate the viewpoint shifts in The Mermaid's Madness.

Though The Mermaid's Madness is better than The Stepsister Scheme in some ways, I do think that much of its charm comes from already knowing the characters from the previous book. In particular, there's a particular subplot involving Talia's romantic aspirations that gets explored a bit further, and which ends sort of in a cliffhanger that leads readers to expect some sort of resolution in the next two books (Red Hood's Revenge and a yet untitled fourth novel). I also enjoyed the hints at the darker side of Snow's normally bubbly, flirty character, a dark side potentially inherited from her mother. And though Danielle can neither fight like Talia can, or do magic like Snow, she's strong in her own right, with an empathic, idealist streak that is prevented from becoming too sweet with moments of sarcasm (probably learned from hanging around Snow and Talia).

(Yeah, I know I said these reviews would be short, but this was taken from a Notepad document I'd had written up for a while.)


Boneshaker by Cherie Priest ([livejournal.com profile] cmpriest)
Recommended. Set in an alternate-history America where the gold rush was moved up by a couple of decades, resulting in a larger population up in Seattle and the continuation of the Civil War far past where it ended in the real world. Dr. Leviticus Blue built The Incredible Boneshaking Drill as a response to Russia trying to dig up oil in Alaska, but a test run gone awry devastated most of downtown Seattle and released a noxious gas that turns its victims into the living dead. Fifteen years later, most of the survivors now live on the outskirts of a walled-off Seattle, and Blue's widow Briar Wilkes just wants to forget the past and raise her son, Zeke, to be a respectable and outstanding citizen. But Zeke is convinced that his father i innocent, and sets out to prove it by sneaking out of his house and into the city, forcing Briar to chase after him.

If you're into the steampunk genre, you'll want to give this book a try. If you're not much of a steampunk fan, you may still want to give this book a try. Cherie's writing is sharp and clean, and she seamlessly weaves real and imagined history into the fabric of the story, which both is and is not what you think it is. Although I tend towards epic plots of good vs. evil, with lots of explosions and fights and action, I greatly enjoyed this microcosmic story of a mother trying reconnect, both literally and figuratively, with her son. True, there are explosions (and ZOMBIES!) and fights, but what really carries it along is the climax of Briar and Zeke's emotional story thread. The plot of Boneshaker is very family-centric, I think, and there's a nice parallel between Briar and Wilkes and two other characters who I'll refrain from mentioning here for spoiler reasons. Probably her best book yet, although I haven't read Fathom.


Dark Delicacies II ed. by Del Howison and Jeff Gelb
Generally apathetic. Assorted short stories in the horror genre. I picked this up from my library in preparation for revising The Struggle Within, and was surprised to find that the variety of stories contained within this anthology were mostly as unconventional as my own story. Unfortunately, I've already returned the book to the library, so I can't quite make as specific of references as I'd like, but let's see what I can do here.

So, you may ask, was I pleasantly surprised or unpleasantly surprised? I have to admit that I wasn't really impressed with the first crop of stories, though I'm still unsure whether it's just that I don't have a good eye, ear, or heart or any other part body for the genre, or that I don't possess the right disposition to truly enjoy short stories, or if it was something inherent in the particular stories themselves. Well, okay, I am quite sure all three play a part in how much I enjoyed or didn't enjoy this anthology; what I'm less certain on is the proportion of these sentiments to each other. I definitely got a morbid kick out of the last short story, called "The Ammonite Violin" by an author whose name I can't remember, which beautifully unreal and dreamy. There was also an entry from the author of World War Z that was rather interesting (and I want to check out World War Z eventually). Another one, called "Where There's a Will..." or something along those lines, had me doubling back and reading the story again to understand what the hell was going on in the ending. I like the idea of the ending, but am not convinced of its fictional veracity (if you catch what I mean).

There were at least three stories that bored me or didn't interest me at all, and a fourth one which confused the everloving hell out of me. One of them was the first one in the anthology, involving a vampire trapped on the Titanic trying to hide his true nature from the rising sun. I know, I know, what a potentially interesting premise, right? But the author didn't pull it off well at all. Another involved a man in a troubled marriage being inexplicably chased by a literal hellhound - not convincing either. Then there was a story involving the torture of what seems to be a political prisoner or a prisoner of war, a Mobius strip-type story where you seem to be getting somewhere but then you end up right back where you started (and thus I have now somewhat spoiled that short story for you). Using that sort of structure is a pretty gimmicky gamble. I wasn't impressed because I'd seen it before in the fantasy anthology Flights (ed. by Al Sarratonio), and I believe Neil Gaiman also wrote one such short story. Of the three, I'm not sure which one I'd rate as the best. The story that confused me was called "I Live Inside Your Mouth" or something like that, and it felt like this weird mishmash of Japanese horror and American horror. I had high hopes for it, because the author was great at establishing atmosphere, but ultimately I felt the plot wasn't clear enough.

If you're a horror genre fan, you might want to give this a look for at least the last short story.


Books on my current reading list include:

Liar by Justine Larbalestier
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
Skinwalker by Faith Hunter
Gothic Charm School by Jillian Venters ([livejournal.com profile] cupcake_goth)
The Art of Piano Playing by Heinrich Neuhaus

So that's contemporary YA, steampunk YA, urban fantasy, self-help pop culture non-fiction(???), and an academic primer/treatise. Yes, this is quite the bibliophilic salad at the moment.




*Well, maybe in Chicago it is, since it feels like it's been raining for the entire damn fall season.
reileen: (writing - pen and notebook)
I both know and don't know what I'm going to do for NaNoWriMo this year.

I know I'm not going to do the usual 50k novel draft like I've doing the past few years. Instead, I'm thinking of revisiting my old drafts, poring through them and seeing what I can revise or rewrite or expand on. This includes Glass Houses, Daemonsong, and Natural Fury and its AU short story The Struggle Within. Although the last two are technically fanfic, all I'd have to do is file off the serial numbers and do some other revising and I'd be good to go. Looking back on 'em, though, I find it interesting that the current plot of Natural Fury, divorced from its fandom origins, isn't normally the kind of story I'd want to pick up and read (that is, a coming-of-age story). I'm really thinking about abandoning Natural Fury and letting The Struggle Within (which needs a re-titling) be my chronicle of that particular 'verse. The Struggle Within, unfortunately, has a rather depressing ending for the main character, whereas in Natural Fury it was more of a bittersweet ending, but at this point I'm not confident enough about the idea or story of Natural Fury to give it the necessary attention. Maybe in a couple of years, but not now. I actually want to work with Kira and Luke - I keep thinking it might be nice to do a short story with those two, or a vignette, or something to explore their characters and world some more.

I don't know, however, how I'm going to quantify my progress for this sort of thing. Do I say, okay, every week I have to have spent at least such-and-such hours on original work (and original work only)? Can I pin down a wordcount? I'm leaning heavily towards a time-based goal, since I'm not entirely sure how I'm going to quantify something that may not be actual prose but, instead, notes or somesuch. But without a wordcount goal of some sort, I may end up just waffling around and spending all of my time on worldbuilding research.

***

Came up with a potential riff in G-minor. Very simple, no lyrics yet. I really enjoy the flatted minor keys, and G-minor is a particular favorite. I've already got two songs in G-minor, technically, but "Queen of Denial" is less of a performance piece and more of a milestone piece, and I haven't figured out a good enough arrangement for "Mirror" yet. Maybe I'll revisit them years in the future, when I'll (ostensibly) have made improvements in my composition skills, but for now I'll let them lie.
reileen: (Default)
The first version of this was written while bored in HAA115 one day - which was actually canceled today for whatever reason.

Lament to the Wordmaster

Wordmaster, hear me, pity me, grant me this chance:
Why does my pen refuse to behave in my hands?
Why are my words born dead from my throat?
Why am I unable to drink from the cosmic well
Of tales to be told, though I thirst more
Than a fool who wanders Saharan shores?

Wordmaster, I know I am an imperfect tool for You
To record the many events that never once happened true
But let my blood flow as Your ink
Let my crippled fingers dance once more
In honor of Your wisdom and wit without end
For it is upon You that my own talents depend.

***

So, y'all are familiar with Chuck Norris "facts", right? Like "Chuck Norris can kill two stones with one bird" and "Chuck Norris CAN believe it's not butter" and all those other things.

In light of Norris' most recent act of fail-fu (which he started training extensively in a couple of years back), I offer up, instead, substantially more awesome Bill Nye facts. Nope, no scare quotes this time. Because they're true.

Bill Nye can split atoms with his bare hands.

Bill Nye decides if Schroedinger's Cat is alive or dead.

Bill Nye can rhyme seven words with orange.

Bill Nye invented inventing.

When Chuck Norris has a problem, he asks Bill Nye.

Some people can recite the first few thousand digits of pi. Bill Nye can recite the last thousand digits of pi.

The reason light is so fast is because it's running away from Bill Nye.

Bill Nye drinks water with ice cubes that read at below 0 Kelvin.

***

Okay, time to figure out what to do for my ART227 and ART264 sketches. Mrr, I am so tired. Probably 'cause I've been drinking Dr. Pepper instead of Mountain Dew since we ran out of the Dew in the house.

-Reileen
you feed it once and now it stays
reileen: (art - paint jars)
Looks like I won't be getting my usual nap today. In addition to having to work on the final version of my poster for ART264 (which shouldn't really take that long, but just in case), I need to:

1) Continue doing the necessary research and sketches with regards to getting saleable goods for ACEN. (Which I just started during ART227 class this morning, lol.) MAN! It's even more expensive to get 500 custom Post-It books printed (that's the minimum number of pieces I have to order) at that one site I was looking at than it is to order 144 multi-color screened T-shirts (again, min. number of pieces). Le WTF?! Back to the drawing board again.
1a) I have to design my business card, some sign stuff (commission information + product pricing), and then a banner for our entire table. Will have to talk with Lauren about this. I still need to work on Selasphoria's logo. lkjelkranldkfmlakdmfadf WHY DID I PUT THIS OFF SO LOOOONNNG.

2) Attend a Visual Art and Design career workshop in the student center from 4pm-6pm. Well, okay, so I don't need to do this, but it would help. A lot. And I want to get there early so that I can get as much information as possible before I have to leave for Typography I at 5:45pm.
2a) Melissa forwarded me an e-mail she got from Tokyopop. They're apparently looking for design interns?! OMGYESPLZ. Alas, Tokyopop is located in L.A., which is decidedly far from me. However, I'm checking with them now through e-mail about when their winter and spring sessions are - I'm just wondering if I can just move to L.A. for my winter vacation next year and do the internship during that time. If I can (...which seems unlikely), then I have to check with my advisor to see if it'll actually count for credit (junior year experiential learning, hopefully), and with my family to make sure that they're actually willing to let me fly out to L.A.to do this internship. It seems unlikely, but it's for school, so maybe they'll relent. I wonder if Tokyopop also has available summer sessions...?

Am debating on whether it's possible for me to do most of my schoolwork in advance so that I'll have more time to cram (if needed...which is probably is) when it comes closer to ACEN time. I think it's feasible for JPN106 if I just sit my ass down for a couple of hours with my workbook pages, textbook, and a heavy dose of Japanese music blaring in the background. I'll definitely need to do research for HAA115 early on and turn that research paper in early (not that I have any idea what the fuck is going on in that class). I'm a little less certain on getting ahead for ART227 and ART264, but I should be able to stay current with those classes, at least.

***

Slowly rediscovering Metallica's Load album. I liked a lot of songs from this album already ("Hero of the Day", "The Outlaw Torn", "Until It Sleeps"), but there were other songs that didn't grab my attention from the outset, so I'm giving them a closer listen on my commutes on the train (well, when I can hear them over the roar of the El) and seeing what I make of them now. I really prefer the musical styles on Load, Reload, and the Black Album over Metallica's other work, such as from Death Magnetic, which is too thrashy for my tastes. I can't listen to the Black Album anymore, though - I think it wore out its welcome for me a couple of years back. (That album was, incidentally, my gateway drug into Metallica.) I still like the songs on it, and I still think it's a pretty solid album, it's just...I don't know, the thought of listening to the album now is like taking stale gum from the bottom of a chair and trying to chew it.

I have a similar problem with Evanescence's Fallen, which was my gateway drug into Evanescence's music and into gothic/symphonic rock in general. But at least with Fallen I can sometimes load it up for the sake of nostalgia. Despite discovering Metallica around the same time as Evanescence, I don't have that same sense of nostalgia for the Black Album.

(But I guess I should actually listen to the album now and see what it feels like, instead of just thinking about what it might feel like listening to it.)

I was also able to listen to Karl Sanders' latest solo installment, Saurian Exorcisms. Initial impressions were positive, but since I had it on as background music for something else I wasn't able to give it my full attention, so I'll try to give it a closer listen later and write up moar thotz.

Unfortunately, I was less thrilled with Lacuna Coil's Shallow Life, which should be out in the U.S. today but which I was able to listen to earlier. With Karmacode, Lacuna Coil's been moving away from the gothic stylings of Comalies, Unleashed Memories, and In a Reverie, which is disappointing to me. But Karmacode still felt lush and full to me when I listened to it years ago.

Shallow Life, on the other hand, feels...well...shallow. Again, I had this playing in the background while I was doing something, so maybe I'm just missing something, but I honestly wasn't very impressed with it. Then I went on Wikipedia and found out that it was produced by a Don Gilmore, who is well-known for producing Linkin Park's first two albums, Hybrid Theory and Meteora, along with some other work for Avril Lavigne, Good Charlotte, and others. Take that as you will.

On the other hand, I love the album cover for Shallow Life.

***

Am I the only person who can tell the difference in taste between bottled soda and canned soda, and prefers canned soda?

-Reileen
the higher you are, the farther you fall

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Reileen van Kaile

April 2010

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