Friday, February 19, 2010

Sorry, and a bit of an update

Sorry, I have totally been slacking lately on the blog updates. And I haven't cracked open my book in a week. So I am going to take a bit of time to explain why. Some of you may want to skip this post today, since it's not really related to the blog subject. :)

Anyway, so work has been rough lately, for multiple reasons. As you may know, I work for a Big 4 accounting firm as my "real job", and due to the soured economy, we've gone through rounds of layoffs and reorganizations over the last year-and-a-half. It’s been a challenging environment to work in, although thankfully, I have been spared in all 4-5 rounds of layoffs that have occurred so far.

Most recently, we’ve had a joining of regions in my firm, and with the reorganization, we have new leadership and new policies and procedures. It’s gotten to a point where we all feel like the new set of expectations are almost ludicrous. No, wait. They ARE ludicrous. And so, my whole team that I work with wants out—myself most definitely included.

Unfortunately, it becomes a bit of a race at this point. We all want to go, and we can’t time it perfectly so we leave at the same time, so the earlier you jump off the ship, the less you have to deal with the repercussions of having your team shrink. The last man holding the bag… well, he’s effed, is all I’ll say.

So in my spare time, what have I been doing? Scouring the internet for job postings, talking to recruiters, polishing and customizing my resumé, writing cover letters (ooh, there’s some writing!), and ranting with my co-workers about our intense desire to leave. In some ways, it’s uplifting, as we all have these delusions of grandeur about how awesome it will be to be gone by the end of next quarter. And I actually do believe that’s a “fantasy” that will come true. I’m crossing my fingers, at least.

So yeah, basically, that’s my big excuse for not posting much, not reading much, and not writing at all as far as my WIP goes in the last couple weeks. Even when I have downtime from my new job search, I’m not in a good mental state to write (i.e., I’m not motivated, for some reason).

I’m still here, I still follow you guys, and I still love hearing from you. I hope you’ll keep being patient with me, even if I’m not here as frequently as I would like for the next little while. Good thing is, I think I might have an in on a job very soon, so maybe life will be back to normal quickly after. (And Pig, it would still keep me local!)

Anyway, rant/whine/excuse off. TGIF!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Why fantasy?

First off, oops. Sorry for not posting yesterday. I need to do what Jon does and prep my post the night before to be published the next morning. But that requires so much planning! :)

I’m really good friends with the gal who cuts my hair. Like I’ve been going to her for almost 8 years now, and I worked for her husband’s company my last year of college. Anyway, she knows about my writing project and blog, so we chat about that sometimes when I come in.

Last night, Anya asked me, “Why fantasy?” A valid question, right? What is it about the genre that draws my interest? Why do I want to read it (almost exclusively)? Why do I want to write about it?

A more polished version of the response I stumbled through last night:

I love the realm of possibility and creativity that the fantasy genre opens up to readers and writers. Fantasy holds stories that take place in worlds where wizards and dragons and elves are commonplace, where men challenge the will and intentions of gods, where magic makes the impossible possible. It’s simplistically idealistic at times (or dystopian, if that’s your flavor), it’s got powerful and symbolic embodiments of good and evil, and it’s pretty damn epic in scope. It’s… well, fantasy. And we sometimes gravitate towards what lies beyond our reality, if nothing more than for the sheer entertainment that such a brief departure provides.

Oh, and a bit of a nerdier detail (to which my sister will wholeheartedly attest): I am (well used to be) a huge gamer. RPGs and MMOs were “my thang”. But is it the games that drew me to the genre or the other way around? Hmm…

So what is it about the fantasy genre that draws your interest? What do you like about reading that “made-up stuff”? And, if you write fantasy (as I intend to), why delve into that genre?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Percy Jackson #1 Movie: Thoughts?

So I meant to post this last Friday, but didn't find the time to do so.

Percy Jackson #1 debuted on the big screen last weekend. I loved the first book, and have been eagerly anticipating the movie's arrival in theaters. Unfortunately, I haven't seen it just yet (hopefully, this weekend!).

Now, reviews have been mixed and Rotten Tomatoes is at 49% at the time of this post), but I don't put much stock into critics' movie reviews. Well, other than for entertainment value. Some of those reviews are very cleverly composed.

From what I've gathered, the book has definitely gone through some "adaptations" to fit the big screen. Percy is 17, not 11, a choice consciously made to appeal to an older audience. I hear that Ares and Clarisse are also conspicuously missing from the cast of characters. Seems a bit of a shame, as they were some of the more memorable additions to the book.

This will likely be my first time watching a movie for which I've already read the book beforehand. (Don't laugh!) I'm not sure how I will react, knowing what the "real" story is. However, I'd like to think I am not so high maintenance that I would nitpick every single discrepancy between the book and film. They are, after all, different media and meant for different audiences. A strict, direct conversion would likely be less successful than an adaptation with the proper considerations and liberties. Of course, "proper" is subjective in this case, right?

Have you seen the new PJ movie? What did you think? Or do you have no intention of seeing it?

Oh, and please refrain from spoilers. I still haven't seen it yet!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Have a great weekend!

I'm not even gonna fight it.  Busy day at the office, and I'm leaving very early today.  Won't have much computer access after that until Monday, most likely.  Hope everyone has a great weekend!  Winter's end is drawing nigh!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

When life gives you lots of crap to do...

So in case you can’t tell, work/life has been imposing a little too much on my blogging, commenting, reading, and writing time these last few days. It really stinks. I feel almost guilty, like I should be staying up late to make up for the lost time. Even with mini-breakthroughs like I talked about yesterday, I’ve made very little headway this week. Little as in almost none.  And don’t even get me started about my current review book, which I’ve had on my nightstand for almost two weeks now, still with 60ish pages to go. Grr…

So I need a bit of advice/encouragement/e-hugs today. Do you guys experience dips in your writing productivity because of life? Do you have a good way to handle the extra demands on your time and still keep your writing goals within reach? Do you feel guilty? Stressed? Suicidal? (JK on that last one. I hope!)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Another reason to clock gym time

My story comes in bits and pieces. Very small ones--microscopic, perhaps. And apparently, there are a lot of them, because I still have way too much to write, let alone revise, edit, get critted, etc. Ugh, when I think about it like that, I get pretty frustrated...

But there are pockets of inspiration when a moment or a scene from my story-in-waiting just flows through my head. Sometimes, even the words seem to write themselves on the e-page. (First draft-level words, anyway. Not saying it's all that pretty.)

Take this morning, for example. Cardio time at the gym. I don't always think about my MS during those times, but today, my book decided to impose upon my thoughts while I was stairclimbing. And I was grateful it happened, because a key moment/scene/realization for my MC ended up figuring itself out in my head. Something heartfelt with some warm fuzzies, perhaps capable of eliciting a few tears from some readers (well, my mom, at least :P). Nicholas Sparks would be proud. Oh wait, he writes sad stuff... nevermind.

I rushed upstairs to put my thoughts in my laptop as soon as I got back home. Creatine and protein shake be damned! I had a story to write!

For you writers out there, what sort of fun/unexpected experiences have you had with writing breakthroughs?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Death becomes who? And how?

Okay, sorry for yesterday's slackin'. Today's post is a bit more cerebral... :)

In more modern and domestic genres/settings, death is not always a realistic part of the picture (terminal illnesses and accidents notwithstanding). In fantasy, though, the world is more cruel, the enemies more bloodthirsty, the perils more treacherous--at least, in a literal sense. If we’re being “realistic” in the genre, death is probably something that lingers in most characters’ minds in the story.

But authors are typically loathe to kill off important characters, and death is not nearly as frequent as may be realistic (there’s that word again!). Rightfully so, I’d argue, as the writer spends considerable time, effort, and word count crafting and sharing these personalities. We, as readers, also form a bond with these characters, and reading their deaths can be a shocking, perhaps even infuriating, experience if we are unprepared or if the death is poorly timed or handled.

Even the death of the “Big Bad” of the book/trilogy/saga is something that should be appropriately paced and preceded by the right amount of suspense and danger so that the reader doesn’t feel like the villain’s defeat is inevitable or too easy. And hopefully, prior to that culminating battle, the author has fleshed out the villain enough that we have plenty to hate/pity/empathize before the character is written into the ether.

Dipping this post a bit into the YA section (which is, after all, my WIP’s focus), it seems that death might need to be handled even more gingerly than with adult fantasy. Do we really want to thrust such a permanent, sometimes traumatic experience on a younger reader? Chima’s Heir series does not exactly shy away from death, although the story tends to flirt with the theme rather than commit to it (with a couple big exceptions, off the top of my head--no spoilers!). For Riordan’s Percy Jackson books, targeted at an even younger audience, the author cleverly explains that the ancient Greek monsters magically dissipate, rather than die, upon defeat, only to return another day to plague our lil’ hero. (Cheesy, some may say, but probably a wise move on the author’s part.)

So what is your stance on death in your stories (reading and writing!)?