Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What I'm Reading (1)

First of all, I'd like to apologize for the lateness of this blog post, although technically it is still Wednesday. I haven't had a chance to write the post until now - which proves one of my earlier concerns, that Wednesdays are going to be way too busy for regular blog posts. Starting next week, my reading updates will be posted on Tuesdays. Now, onto the main event.

Right now, I'm reading The Adventures and Memoirs of Sherlock
Holmes. It's a collection of short stories about the famous detective, and I love it. Not only are the stories themselves phenomenal, but reading the stories has given me a new appreciation of the movies and how closely followed the original stories -
even including direct quotes from Holmes about Watson. (Sherlock Holmes was one of the few movies I've watched without reading the book first.) If I wasn't a Holmes fanatic before, I am now, and once I finish the short stories I'm definitely going to be reading the rest of the books.

Besides Sherlock Holmes, I'm also reading To Kill a Mockingbird again for English class; I read it before and loved it, and am immensely enjoying what we're doing in class (even if no one else is.) Rereading the book is giving me some new insight into the themes and subplots, and I already have pages of notes - I could probably spend the rest of my life analyzing this book and writing about it and be perfectly happy.

Although those are the only two books I'm in the middle of, my to-read list doesn't end there.
At the same time I checked out Sherlock Holmes from the school library, I also got Divergent. Yes, the book that's been on the front page of the Barnes and Noble website for months and fits in nicely with the other bestselling books for teens. Yes, that Divergent.

It's not like me to read something that's so - mainstream, I know, but I couldn't resist. The Hunger Games excepted, I think that dystopian thrillers are way overdone and on the verge of becoming a fad. I complain about how cliche they're becoming to anyone who will listen - but at the same time, I love anything dystopian so much. I'm a little skeptical about this - after all, I don't know that anything could quite measure up to the Hunger Games, and as with any popular genres (paranormal romance springs to mind) it's hit-and-miss. But we'll see.

I'm also planning to read Quatrain, by Sharon Shinn, which I checked out from the public library last week. I'll be honest and say that I'm not sure that I would have picked up the book if I'd never heard of the author before, but I've read Sharon Shinn's adult and young adult books, and so far I haven't been disappointed.

And finally, as if that weren't enough to keep me busy, my reading list also includes Snow Falling on Cedars. My English teacher recommended it to me after she found out that I'd already read To Kill a Mockingbird. She said that Snow Falling on Cedars has a similar theme of prejudice, and let me borrow one of her copies to read. I haven't had a chance to look at it much yet, but I have a feeling I'll like it - my teacher said it's about a Japanese character in World War II, which is my favorite setting for historical fiction.

So that's my update. It's definitely going to be enough to keep me busy for the rest of the week at least; hopefully I'll have some new books to write about Tuesday.

As an ending note, I haven't had any suggestions for more appealing titles than "What I'm Reading" and "What I'm Writing" for my reading and writing update features. Anyone have any ideas?

Off to read through my mountain of books,


Friday, October 21, 2011

What I'm Writing

So, I've discovered two problems with my new system of blog posts. The first is that I forget to post. I promised new features starting last week, and completely forgot. I'm lame, I know. I'll have to figure out some way to remind myself; maybe I'll set up weekly appointments in iCal.

The second problem is naming these features. "What I'm Writing" sounds so very dull and bland, and I dread the thought of weekly posts titled "What I'm Reading." I need something more exciting and snazzy. Ideas, anyone?

Moving on. Unfortunately, I haven't had a lot of time for writing lately; school and other activities have left me completely swamped. I have managed to make some progress with the short stories I said I was going to write way back in August; I wrote one a few weeks ago for an English assignment, and have the first few hundred words of another. It doesn't sound like much - well, it isn't - but I have been writing quite a bit, it's just all been papers for school. (I think my best work was the welcome page for a hypothetical website on Ancient Egypt, for my history class. Apparently, I did learn something from my eighth grade english class, because I was supposed to persuade people to visit Egypt.)

Besides short stories and essays, most of my creative mental energy has been focused on preparing for NaNoWriMo. As the countdown on the website excitedly proclaims, there's only ten days left until it starts. Not having much of an outline isn't worrying me as much as the fact that I have two ideas and no idea which one to write. Earlier in the month, when I didn't have any idea what I was going to do in November, I realized that I needed to pick the idea with the most "momentum." Whatever I chose, I needed to feel excited enough to get through an entire month writing at a breakneck speed.

I expected that would make the decision easier, but it hasn't. One idea is a fantasy with a fully developed world and concept, and I know the scale of the plot and what it needs to accomplish, but I don't have any conflict or an antagonist, and I'm not sure I'll be able to come up with something I'm happy with in the short amount of time that I have. The other idea, also fantasy, is very vague: the setting is vague, the plot is vague, the characters are vague; but I also have a vague conflict and a vague villain, which is better than none.

I'm still very undecided. I'll make some notes and hopefully reach a decision before the end of the month; if not, I suppose I'll just have to sit down on November 1 and start writing. Maybe my fingers will make the decision for me as I type, and I won't even have to think about it - muscle memory will write a brilliant novel for me. It could happen. Maybe. Possibly.

Probably not.

Oh well. Off to make a pro-con list for the novels, I suppose,


Monday, October 10, 2011

So here's what I'm thinking...

Remember the last post, where I said I wanted to add some more structure to my blog and have regular features? If you didn't get a chance to read it, just scroll down. I've put some thought into what I want those features to be, and here's what I've come up with so far.

Books: Frequent book reviews - whenever I finished a book that I think is worth reviewing, which will probably be every week or so. I'm also planned to add weekly updates on what I'm reading, what I've finished, and what I'm planning to read next, inspired by Ren's "On Myshelf" at the awesome blog All By Myshelf. The tentative day for posting these updates is Wednesday; if that doesn't work, I may have to move it to Tuesday or Thursday.

Writing: I hesitate to call what I'm planning to post advice, because it's going to be more like a discussion on a certain topic - I'll talk about what causes the problem, if there is one, what other people say about it, and weigh in with my own two cents. Hopefully it'll be more helpful if I'm not trying to solve all the writing problems of the world with my not-even-close-to-all-encompassing knowledge. If you have questions or subjects you'd like me to discuss, leave a comment and let me know. I'm planning to post this every other week on Fridays. The weeks I don't post writing advice/discussion, I'll post updates on what I've been writing recently.

Music: This is probably the area in which I have the least structure; I'll be posting album reviews when I can, and other posts about music will make an appearance. I'm also going to try to include more top ten/favorites lists (like this one) and might make this a regular feature at some point in the future. (It probably won't be restricted to just music, either - I'll include books, authors, and other things.)

Religion: I know this is something that I haven't talked about a lot in my blog, and it's not going to become the main focus or anything; however, I do feel like I need to bring it into my posts somewhat. So I've decided to have a Christian-themed post every Sunday. The reason for this isn't just because church is on Sunday, but because these posts will probably take a little longer to write and I'd like to have the weekend to work on them. The content of this will vary - sometimes it might be a few Bible verses and what I think of them, sometimes it'll be longer and more in-depth, sometimes it'll be short, sometimes even humorous, maybe it'll focus on a significant event in history. I hope you'll enjoy the posts - all four of you, my awesome followers. (I'm not being sarcastic. You really are awesome, even if there are only four of you.)

That's all for now. Having regular posts should improve this blog; if you have any other suggestions or improvements I could make, don't hesitate to leave a comment and let me know! The first of these new features will show up tomorrow, on Friday; I'll start with an update on what I've been writing, and post advice/discussion next week.

Off to start writing all these blog posts,