Top Ten Tues: Future Kids

Top Ten Tuesdays are hosted by The Broke and The Bookish, and feature lists related to all things bookish–characters, authors, titles, and favorites. They’re an excellent way to find new interesting books on a variety of topics, and to find bloggers that love the books you do.

Check out their blog for their top ten and lists by other bloggers!

November 14: Top Ten Books I Want My Future Children to Read (Or nieces and nephews, Godchildren, etc.)

I’m going big here. Top Ten Books Children Should Read.

1.Matilda; Roald Dahl. Everyone needs a little rebellion, a little love, and a little understanding that families aren’t perfect.

2. Harold and the Purple Crayon; Crockett Johnson. Have to encourage imagination.

3. The Story of Ferdinand; Munro Leaf. Be yourself.

4. A Wrinkle in Time; Madeline L’Engle. A big part of a lot of childhoods.

5. Ella Enchanted; Gail Levine. Sometimes you have the strength in you all along.

6. Harry Potter; J.K. Rowling. You know I had to.

7. Holes; Louis Sachar. You get what you give.

8. Where the Sidewalk Ends; Shel Silverstein. Where silly meet serious is a great place to be.

9. Mus of Kerbridge; Paul Kidd. This was my favorite book for a lot of my childhood. I read my copy to pieces.

10. Charlotte’s Web; E.B. White. Learning about loss is tough, but this book has some good things to say.

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Seasonal Creep

Image from WikiMedia by Lotus Head.

I was in a Starbucks yesterday, doing a NaNoWriMo write-in.  (Did my first and second ever word sprints. I need to work on fighting the impulse to correct typos, and maybe I can hit 700 words a sprint next time!) Guess what was playing over the speakers? Christmas music! And it’s been going on for at least a few days. In the second week of November.

This is madness!

Honestly, I’m fine with people getting in the holiday spirit whenever makes them happy. I think December first is plenty early, but I’m not forcing a limit on people. Still, music at a store is rather unavoidable. It’s not one person feeling the joy, it’s everyone being forced to listen to unseasonable jingles. You can put in headphones, but then how can you have random conversations about your pets when you’re supposed to be making your daily word count?

What do y’all think? When do you start decking the halls? Right after Halloween? After Thanksgiving? Sometime in December?

Top Ten Tues: Leaders

Top Ten Tuesdays are hosted by The Broke and The Bookish, and feature lists related to all things bookish–characters, authors, titles, and favorites. They’re an excellent way to find new interesting books on a variety of topics, and to find bloggers that love the books you do.

Check out their blog for their top ten and lists by other bloggers!

November 7: Ten Characters Who Would Make Great Leaders (Leaders of what? That’s your decision. Who could lead a country, an army, a book club, a classroom, etc. Or maybe characters that would be trendsetters?)

Here’s Top Ten Characters Who Would Make Great Leaders in an Apocalypse.

1.Jess Brightwell. Magic, and a ruthless ability to lie to get things done. Not a restful leader, but an effective one.

2. Beka Cooper. She’s tough, determined, smart, and athletic. And used to dealing with criminals, which would possibly be a thing at the end of the world.

3. Hitomi. Another athletic one, loyal, and she has magic. All helpful leadership skills.

4. Jeff & Hotaru. For different reasons, but both characters keep it together during a zombie apocalypse. Not easy.

5. Liv. She has the rare ability to make two opposite sides work together… mostly.

6. Nimona. So, she’s a monster, but she’s also very goal-oriented.

7. Hercule Poirot. He’s comfortable with taking charge without being domineering, and would be good a getting a disparate group to work together.

8. Nilanjana Sikdar. A scientist who keeps her cool, gathers evidence, and figures out how to solve problems.

9. Susan Sto Helit. I’ve talked about her before, but she’s a favorite of mine. Death’s granddaughter knows how to seize control, and apply a wrench where useful.

10. Xian Li-lin. In some apocalypse scenarios, having the ability to deal with ghosts would be really useful.

Ominous Statement Generator #2

A while back I found an ominous statement generator, and it caught my attention. Here’s a short story from a randomly generated combination, as I’ve already done the one that is technically ‘mine.’

Image from WikiMedia by Kürschner.

The crows are gone when you look away. Prepare: they can still see you.

It was dusk, and the birds swirled around in the air, calling out. Massive flocks of them perched along roof lines, telephone lines, and tree branches. Dark, feathered blobs everywhere. Their harsh caws echoed off buildings, creating a solid wall of sound.

Simon pulled out his phone to check the directions for the meeting he was headed for. Sudden silence. He glanced up, the calls washing over him again, confused.

Nothing seemed to have changed, and he shook his head, dropping his gaze again, and flicking through the directions. Sliding into his car, Simon closed the door, and started following the directions, listening to the smooth, mechanical female voice listing out each turn one by one. When he glanced out the windshield, he saw the birds everywhere, flickering out of the corner of his eyes. He glanced in his rear view mirror before making a lane change, attention fixed on the cars on the road, not the empty stretches of wires and roofs above the road.

Finally, his phone announced that he’d arrived, and he pulled onto a gravel road, parking next to two other cars on a grass and dirt clearing. Both cars were empty, so the others must have gone ahead to the meeting, even though he was still several minutes early.

He spotted the building half-hidden by the trees, off to the side, and started toward it, his eyes on his phone as he scanned the last minute messages of who was arriving at the meeting, who had made excuses, and who was running late. Immersed in the messages, he didn’t register the silence until the first talon creased his scalp.

When a car pulled in a few minutes later, all that remained was a few scattered black feathers, and a dark patch of dirt. Several people commented that Simon had said he was on his way, but hadn’t showed, but no one thought much of it until he didn’t show up at work on Monday. By that point, rain had washed away the signs that no one had noticed.

No one, but the murder of crows. But who pays attention to birds?

 

 

Book Riot Read Harder 2017: October

And the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge is here again! There’s 24 prompts to encourage you to read harder, and I urge you to check it out if you want to get outside your comfort zone. 🙂

(Click the link to see the challenge, and to download a PDF of the challenge list.)

book riot

To quote the article: “We encourage you to push yourself, to take advantage of this challenge as a way to explore topics or formats or genres that you otherwise wouldn’t try. But this isn’t a test. […] We like books because they allow us to see the world from a new perspective, and sometimes we all need help to even know which perspectives to try.

  • Read an all-ages comic.

Princeless; Jeremy Whitley, Mia Goodwin

It’s described as an “all-ages adventure.”

Adrienne was never a patient or traditional sort of princess, so when she finds herself in a tower with a dragon guardian (named Sparky), it’s no surprise she doesn’t stay put. Instead of waiting for rescue by a prince, she’s going to rescue herself–and her sisters, who are also locked up in towers of their own. Soon, she meets a dwarf named Bedelia, who joins her in her quest. Cute story, funny, without much violence shown (and no gore.) Perfect for a younger audience (hence the all-age label), but enough to entertain pretty much anyone. Though it is, as you might expect, a little simple. I read three volumes in one sitting, and it didn’t take long at all–nor did a whole bunch of story actually happen.

Without giving anything away, it’s a decent strong female lead story, though there are a couple of weak points later on. As there is definitely more story to go, these might be resolved, however.

Also includes a few funny extra stories.

  • Read a fantasy novel.

The Palace of Illusions; Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

A fantasy novel, specifically one focused on Indian mythology and history.

The story of Panchaali, the wife of the Pandavas brothers of legend–a retelling of an ancient tale from a new point of view. From her birth in a ritual fire as an unwanted daughter–her father asked for a son to get his vengeance, which he also received–Panchaali feels extraneous. She’s not even given a real name until later, and she’s kept isolated to make her a proper kind of wife. She chafes at these restrictions, and strives to grasp her destiny, hunting for prophecies, promises, blessings, love and later… vengeance.

This book contains elements I dislike, so despite some beautiful writing, a fascinating and well-developed world, and an epic plot, it failed to be a book I loved, but only one I liked.These are my reasons: 1) The protagonist is whiny, refuses to take responsibility for her actions, and thoughtless–she’s given so many warnings that she ignores! She’s so self-centered, I found her unlikable. And, as blindness to advice is a common flaw in characters, other characters similarly felt unlikable. 2) There is so much foreshadowing. The story is told as if it’s already happened, and the reader is constantly reminded about approaching failures, deaths, etc. Added with the prophecies, it’s a lot of reminders. I like a little surprise in my plots.

But, if those things don’t bother you… the story is full of epic battles, magic, myth, curses and blessings, complicated backstories, interweaving character histories… And plenty of appeals for compassion and understanding, even if they mostly fall on deaf ears. The characters are many and varied, and though some get bare bones development, more than a few have histories that are slowly revealed, and complex motivations. It’s a lovely story, rich and detailed.

 

 

 

Top Ten Tues: Halloween

Top Ten Tuesdays are hosted by The Broke and The Bookish, and feature lists related to all things bookish–characters, authors, titles, and favorites. They’re an excellent way to find new interesting books on a variety of topics, and to find bloggers that love the books you do.

Check out their blog for their top ten and lists by other bloggers!

October 31: Halloween Freebie! (Happy Halloween! Let your creativity run wild with a themed post to celebrate!)

Here’s my Top Ten Magical Books for Halloween. ‘Tis the season for some witches and wizards, spells and curses!

1.Storm Front; Jim Butcher. Wizard with plenty of magic, but less common sense.

2. The Witches; Roald Dahl. Classic children’s magic.

3. Coraline; Neil Gaiman. You need a little spooky for the season. Not all magic is nice…

4. A Discovery of Witches; Deborah Harkness. How about some magical research?

5. Johannes Cabal: Necromancer; Jonathan L Howard. Raising the dead is… not advised.

6. Summon the Keeper; Tanya Huff. Every Halloween needs a cat, and maybe a few portals to Hell.

7. Wyrd Sisters; Terry Pratchett. Not just about witches, but also with some Shakespeare references.

8. The Picture of Dorian Gray; Oscar Wilde. Magic comes with a price.

9. The Golem and the Jinni; Helene Wecker. Two magical creatures meet.

10. Mairelon the Magician; Patricia Wrede. A traveling magician who isn’t what he seems.

Weekend Writing Warriors: 10/28

~~~~~~~~~~I’m doing NaNoWriMo, so see y’all in December! Good luck if you’re writing. 🙂 ~~~~~~~~~

This 8-10 sentence blog hop is hosted by The Weekend Writing Warriors. (Click the link for the list of participants, or rules if you want to join!)

This is a WIP, NaNoWriMo 2016, currently called River, Tree, Mountain. It’s science fiction, set on a colony planet, six generations in–with 10% of the population born “marvels,” who have special abilities like dowsing, healing, or creating fire. The protagonist, Rekka Lang, is a spark (fire), signed a contract with Brenton to provide him a child (NOT married/permanently paired), moves in with him–4 months after she moved in, they go to a family dinner, where Rekka is talking to Acacia, Brenton’s 2 1/2 year old daughter, and has demonstrated her marvel, creating sparks to light candles.

(Relevant info: most children demonstrate powers around the age of two, Acacia hasn’t. Phoenix, Brenton’s older sister, has a child with no powers. Yulia is Brenton’s mom. Mitali is Rekka’s sister.)

weekend_writing_warriorsveteransbadge

 

 

“Want pretty!” Acacia grabbed at the spark, nearly toppling off her chair.

“Sorry, you can’t have my pretty,” Rekka said, realizing she’d made a mistake when Acacia repeated her demand, louder. She saw Yulia shoot Phoenix a meaningful stare, and then a head tip, and Phoenix leaned back in her seat, reaching around Mitali for her niece.

Rekka cupped her hands around the fire, flaring it brighter so it glowed through her fingers, “But you have one in you, too, Acacia. Why don’t you close your eyes, and picture the pretty little light?”

“My dear, that isn’t a good…” Brenton said, standing, his face set.

“Pretty!” Acacia squealed with glee, as in her cupped hands hovered a point of light, weak and flickering in and out, but still there.

Phoenix dropped her hand, and glared at Brenton, before swiveling to face forward, and paying determined attention to her food.

*    *    *

Life on the colony planet of Kaibou was going uneventfully until the second generation of colonists was born on the planet, at some, at a young age, began showing various psychic abilities. When those people, called marvels, grew up, many of them formed companies, building compounds to live in and raise their children.  Due to population diversity issues, many colonists have children using genetic bank material, or choose a succession of partners. Now on the seventh generation, marvels are born both within and without company walls, and all must work together to use their gifts and make a living on a still wild land. Some of these outsider marvels sign contracts with company marvels, agreeing to give them a child raised within the company, in return for a permanent home in the company compound, a stipend, and other concessions.

Where Ideas Come From

Image from WikiMedia by Simon Eugster.

With National Novel Writing Month fast approaching, I’ve been thinking about where ideas come from.

Not long ago, I was talking about how a writer might come up with ideas, because of a comment exchange I had with another blogger. One of the first things you need for NaNo, after all, is an idea. You can write a romance about star-crossed hamsters, a YA set in high school, or a classic knight’s quest–anything and everything, but you need the idea first.

Sometimes inspiration is that lucky bolt out of the blue, but usually it’s work. My method is simple, but effective. I like to write things down, so I’ll make a random list of ideas I like–characters, setting, events, etc. Just shake everything out of the brain and leave it on the page. Then, look at that pile, and pick something(s).

For example… for characters, you could do witches. Witches are fun. And seasonal! For setting, you could choose, say, the sea. I love the waves.

Then the fun bit–putting together the puzzle. Building the world. You ask yourself questions, and you answer them. You have the power!

So what would witches on ships do? Do they travel to distant lands? Do they cast navigation spells? Fill the sails with wind, or power engines? Maybe attack other ships? They could be pirates. Pirate witches, fighting other witches–casting spells across the water, sinking ships, and claiming loot.

…now I want to write a story about witch pirates’ battles.  (Maybe I will, though not next month!)

Does anyone use a similar method? If not, what works for you?

Top Ten Tues: Unique Titles

Top Ten Tuesdays are hosted by The Broke and The Bookish, and feature lists related to all things bookish–characters, authors, titles, and favorites. They’re an excellent way to find new interesting books on a variety of topics, and to find bloggers that love the books you do.

Check out their blog for their top ten and lists by other bloggers!

October 24: Top Ten Unique Book Titles.

1. S.; J.J. Abrahms. Naming a book after just a letter is tricky.

2. Life, the Universe, and Everything; Douglas Adams. All the Hithchiker’s Guide titles are weird, but this is a favorite.

3. Lulu Meets God and Doubts Him; Danielle Ganek. Spotted in a bookstore.

4. Gork, the Teenaged Dragon; Gabe Hudson. Teen dragon tries to find a queen.

5. The Princess Saves Herself in this One; Amanda Lovelace. Poetry about relationships–love, heartbreak, healing.

6. Island of the Sequined Love Nun; Christopher Moore. A pilot crashes on an island with a rather strange religion.

7. Strong Female Protagonist; Brennan Mulligan. She’s retired from fighting crime, but she’s still a hero.

8. Temporally Out of Order; Joshua Palmatier. If anyone else has used this pun about items unstuck in time, I haven’t seen it.

9. The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents; Terry Pratchett. What if the Pied Piper was working with the rats?

10. This Book is Full of Spiders; David Wong. The tag line “Seriously, dude. Don’t touch it.” pretty much says it, I think.

Weekend Writing Warriors: 10/21

This 8-10 sentence blog hop is hosted by The Weekend Writing Warriors. (Click the link for the list of participants, or rules if you want to join!)

This is a WIP, NaNoWriMo 2016, currently called River, Tree, Mountain. It’s science fiction, set on a colony planet, six generations in–with 10% of the population born “marvels,” who have special abilities like dowsing, healing, or creating fire. The protagonist, Rekka Lang, is a spark (fire), signed a contract with Brenton to provide him a child (NOT married/permanently paired), moves in with him–4 months after she moved in, they go to a family dinner, where Rekka is talking to Acacia, Brenton’s 2 1/2 year old daughter.

(Relevant info: most children demonstrate powers around the age of two, Acacia hasn’t. Phoenix, Brenton’s older sister, has a child with no powers.)

weekend_writing_warriorsveteransbadge

 

“They forgot to light the candles,” Brenton said from across the table, standing and reaching for the centerpiece closest to him.

“Let me get it, I can show Acacia,” Rekka said, and when he sat down, picked up the candle dish. “You know your daddy can make sparks, and your mommy? So can I.” She summoned a spark a little past the end of her finger, touching the three tea light candle wicks in turn.

Acacia giggled and clapped, “Again!”

After setting down the dish and restoring its cover, Rekka leaned toward Acacia, cupping her hands a safe distance to prevent any grabbing from tiny hands. She created another spark, and let it drift down to extinguish itself on her skin, and then a third. “Aren’t they pretty, like fireflies?”

“Liarfries?” Acacia repeated.

*    *    *

Life on the colony planet of Kaibou was going uneventfully until the second generation of colonists was born on the planet, at some, at a young age, began showing various psychic abilities. When those people, called marvels, grew up, many of them formed companies, building compounds to live in and raise their children.  Due to population diversity issues, many colonists have children using genetic bank material, or choose a succession of partners. Now on the seventh generation, marvels are born both within and without company walls, and all must work together to use their gifts and make a living on a still wild land. Some of these outsider marvels sign contracts with company marvels, agreeing to give them a child raised within the company, in return for a permanent home in the company compound, a stipend, and other concessions.