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: (angry - Shinpachi)
I'm sick with allergies, which is probably the result (this year as it was last year) of me raking the leaves (well, my brother raked and I used the leaf-vacuum-thinger on the leaf piles) for the past two days. I tried taking precautions by downing some allergy medicine before I went out both times, but maybe I should've worn a face mask too. I'd better be able to sing in time for performing at Borders on the 5th, because otherwise I will be one unhappy Reileen.

On the other hand, being sick means that I can stay inside and beat away at NaNo until I collapse from exhaustion. Irony: In the last chapter, I decided that I might as well have Kira go berserk with daemonic rage after confirming that Luke, in fact, was the one who killed her mother. What card do I draw from the tarot deck for the next chapter? Justice reversed. I shit you not.

Does R. Kelly strike any of y'all as a Panera Bread person? To me he doesn't, but I met up with an old friend at a Flip-Am Thanksgiving party last night, and she said that she saw him at a local Panera Bread about two weeks ago. ("With four of his ho's," she says completely straightfaced.) What gets me even more is that this Panera Bread she was talking about is located in Orland Park. The OP! That's where rich white girls live! But apparently he's been sighted at the OP Portillo's and other restaurants in the area. The more you know...

-Reileen
mama, they try and break me
reileen: (TONIGHT WE BLOG IN HELL)
Ask-A-Ninja: You Got Questions, Ninja Got Answers.

From the Angry Asian Man comes news of the Stanford Laptop Orchestra, a.k.a. SLOrk.

From the Smart Bitches comes a musing on the value of bad books.

[livejournal.com profile] cleolinda does the Twilight movie in fifteen minutes. "I AM VAMPIRE. HEAR ME TWINKLE."

Can't seem to get yer werdz written? Check out Write or Die, a web app where you...well...write or die. Depending on how hard you tweak the settings, non-writing gets punished either with pop-up boxes or with the application actively un-writing what you've written. (Disclaimer: Despite being ridiculously behind in NaNo, I have not tried this out yet.)

I finally upgraded for Firefox 3 (because it became compatible with ljLogin, yay!) and I got this gorgeous steampunkish skin for it.

An article that discusses racial diversity in speculative fiction. Yes, people, it is okay for your main characters to be non-white, non-male, and non-Christian/non-non-theistic! You can still get good stories!

Joel Johnson completely pwns a Motorola astroturfer. I love the parody comments near the end of the article.

***

Meme:
Your rainbow is shaded gray and violet.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

What is says about you: You are a creative person. You appreciate tradition and wisdom that comes with age. You are patient and will keep trying to understand something until you've mastered it. You depend on modern technology and may feel uncomfortable without it.

Find the colors of your rainbow at spacefem.com.






***

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
32,296 / 50,000
(64.6%)


If I can just get to 35k...! I hope to be able to do a post here soon about the various characters, places, and things in Seera Kai, at least the way those things stand now in NaNo. (Most will probably get a huge-ass overhaul once I return in about a year for revisions...)

-Reileen
the Vengabus is coming
reileen: (Default)
Working title for NaNo2008 is "Daemonsong." No, it's not very creative considering what the novel is supposed to be about, but it's a title!

Tetris brownies! I need to make more 1-upcakes soon. Those extra lives are gonna come in handy once school comes around.

Patrick Nielsen-Hayden reports on Pandemic: The Game. Basically, it's a flash game where you can play as a disease (either a parasite, bacterium, or a virus - each class has its pluses and minuses), and your goal is to infect the entire world before people start wising up to what's happening. LOL.

-Reileen
she lost her voice, she had no choice
reileen: (writing - pen and notebook)
Here, has a meme I maded up myself.

Everyone has their favorite genres to listen to, but it's likely that their music collection in general has songs from all over the place. Take your mp3 player, hit shuffle, write down the 20 songs that come up, and try to classify those songs' genres as best as you can.

1. Emilie Autumn - "Gothic Lolita" - gothic/industrial
2. Yumi Matsuzawa - "You Get to Burning" - anime opening theme, j-pop
3. Linkin Park - "In the End" - pop/nu-metal (whatever the hell "nu-metal" is)
4. Yuki Kajiura - "Canta Per Me" - anime BGM
5. Vienna Teng - "Gravity" - piano folk (what Vienna refers to as chamber folk)
6. Shohei Bando - "Bomberman Generation Ending Theme" - video game theme
7. Buckethead - "I Can Only Carry 50 Chickens at a Time" - avant-garde (but I like describing this as "trippy rock guitar techno electronica")
8. Bump of Chicken - "Karma" - video game opening theme, j-rock
9. Artemis - "hypno" - downbeat electronica
10. L'arc en Ciel - "Coming Closer" - j-rock
11. Blink-182 - "There Is" - pop rock
12. Thrice - "Burn the Fleet" - punk rock
13. redballoon - "Utsuro no Ashita" - j-rock
14. Nana Kitade - "Kesenai Tsumi" - anime ending theme, j-pop/j-rock
15. Seira Kagami - "Kodoku no Hikari" - anime ending theme, j-pop
16. Poe - "Control" - folk rock/electronica
17. Sarah Marie Mullen - "The Carousel Waltz" - Celtic harp
18. Avenue Q - "The Internet Is For Porn" - musical OST
19. Susan Fuentes - "Rosas Pandan" etc. medley - Cebuano easy listening
20. Emilie Autumn - "I want my innocence back" - gothic/industrial

Ha, my iPod came around full circle on this one.

***

I think I've fixed the music for "birthday" - I changed the key to C major and partly based its chord patterns off a Filipino folk rock song that I heard playing in the van a few days ago. The result seems to fit better, since the song now sounds mildly melancholy without veering off into some weird quasi Spanish bombastic thing for the chorus. Admittedly, there was a certain charm to how I had the chorus before, but I've already done the whole "taking pride in my angst" thing with "Queen of Denial."

My headache now lies in fixing some of the lyric/melody clashes and finding a suitable riff...

***

There's still two months and a half to go before National Novel Writing Month, but I'm already futzing about with my novel idea. This particular baby is actually a prehistoric fanfic idea of mine stripped to its bare bones and then left out to be bleached senseless by a brutal desert sun.

MAIN CHARACTERS:

Kirali St. Rivers [name likely to change in some form]
A woman in her early 20's. A daemon-hybrid (half-daemon) of some sort, not exactly sure what her lineage is. Is looking for the person who killed her mother years ago.

Lukandis Cantor, a.k.a. Luke
A man in his late 20's or early 30's. A daemon blood (a person whose blood is less than 1/2 or 1/3 daemonic) descended from a line of incubi. Is the person who killed Kirali's mother years ago.


PLOT:

Plot? What plot? I have no idea what kind of story this will be. I've thrown out nearly everything I had of the original "plot" because quite frankly it stank worse than a three-day-old corpse soaked in effluvia and topped with rotten egg. At least with Glass Houses (my NaNo last year), I had the idea that it would be this odd hybrid of a coming-of-age story and espionage/conspiracy stuff. This one? No freakin' clue. I don't even know what kind of personalities Kirali and Luke have. Well, Kirali's a blank slate; Luke is kind of like Thomas Raith (from the Dresden Files) or an older Zelos Wilder (from Tales of Symphonia). It is possible, though, that this may end up being a character-driven story as opposed to event-based, which is the result of the last vestiges of the quasi fanfic idea rearing its head.


OTHER STUFF:

Will have to do some research on demonology and angelology. I'm planning to handle the mythos of demons and angels (daemons and saeraphs as they're called in the novel world) in a really strange way, though if I manage to fuck things up really spectacularly I may as well have to admit that I've just created two entirely new fantasy races.

I have the vague notion that Kirali and Luke's world is futuristic, a scientifically fantastic world. I'm not sure of anything beyond that. One route I might go is to set the story on one of many habitable moons orbiting a gas giant, but that involves science that I don't feel like thinking about at the moment, so I may just reserve it for Scar. Then again, I think the world of Scar may actually be more fantasy steampunk than fantasy sci-fi, but I'll worry about that later.

The other idea I had was to plop Kirali and Luke into an odd, amorphous place that's based on a dream I had a while back. This world was dubbed "jinxspace" by a friend of mine in honor of Jinx from the animated Teen Titans series. Why? Because the sky in jinxspace was this murky but deep pink color, and Jinx had pink hair. Yes, fear the logic. It is the invincible. If we go with the meaning of the word "jinx" as something involving bad luck, though, it probably would be a good (or at least interesting) sort of place for daemons to inhabit.

***

In addition to NaNoWriMo, I've been playing around with the faint threads of an urban fantasy short story involving the aswangs from Filipino folklore. No real plot yet, but I'm slowly but surely starting to pull together pieces for the heroine, who is either human with some faint aswang ancestry or (unknown to her) a full aswang herself, I haven't decided yet:

Anjelina ("Jelly") Gaudiano
Will probably be a teenager for her story, maybe 16 or 17. First-generation Filipino-American. A fairly religious Catholic, but with a healthy and morbid sense of humor about her faith, which makes her parents fear for the fate of her soul. Comes off as tomboyish, and doesn't have much interest in fashion or anything of that sort, being perfectly happy with the T-shirts and sweatpants hand-me-downs that she gets from her older brother. She does, however, harbor a fascination with faerie mythos, and secretly wants to be able to go to a Renaissance Faire with the most outlandish and glittery fairy costume she can find or make.

One of the main worries I had about Jelly was making her too similar to myself. Giving her a strong Catholic foundation was one way of distancing myself from her; another way was adding her tomboyishness in, which is based on a close friend of mine. I'm not sure where her fascination with faeries came from - I guess it's just for the lulz, and it's currently one of those things that I can take or leave. Jelly's last name is actually the real last name of one my cousins in the Philippines, who is two years older than I am but shares the same birthdate as me (August 7). Also, don't laugh too hard at her nickname: Filipinos have really weird logic about how they come up with nicknames. My brother, named Jeremy, is nicknamed Momoy; my sister, named Ashley, is nicknamed Ate Ate (pronounced "aht aht"). "Jelly", by comparison, is relatively normal.

What's my nickname, you ask? I have two, actually. No one uses the first one anymore (lulz), so I'm not telling you what it is. I usually get addressed as "Inday", which is a general term of affection for a female in Cebuano.

-Reileen
I bet you want my goodies

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Reileen van Kaile

April 2010

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