readingredhead: (Reading)
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I don't know what books I'll read to them, but I know very well the books that I hope they will discover for themselves, and that we'll talk about later on down the road.

First and foremost, I hope they find Diane Duane and the Young Wizards books, because those books, more than any others, have changed the way I live my life -- and, I would say, changed it for the better. I hope that my children read novels that show them that parents and children don't need to be at odds, that kids can have mature and trusting relationships with adults in their lives, and most importantly, that magic is everywhere you look for it.

I used to think it would be inevitable that they would run into Harry Potter, but my sister (who just spent the summer teaching English to fourteen-year-olds) says that of the thirty-odd kids in her classes, only one of them had actually read the books, and only half of them had even seen the movies. Harry Potter will always play second string to Young Wizards in the Canon According to Candace, but these novels are also magical, and I don't know what my own childhood would have been like without it.

Whether I have girls or boys, I hope they'll find Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre, and read them with open and respectful minds. Not because they are "classics" (the Canon According to Candace does not really take this label into account), but because they are good, and because they were important parts of my journey -- and they continue to be. 

Most of all, I hope that my kids will someday start suggesting things for me to read, instead of the other way around. That's when I'll know that I've done my job right.
readingredhead: (London)
At some point in the next few days, I'll have a post up about what it means that the last Harry Potter movie is out, and that I don't have another good excuse to wear a cloak and a Gryffindor scarf, and why the books are so much more than just books. It will also involve lots of links to other things I've been writing about Harry Potter and other wizards who are not Harry Potter but actually better, and something about how weird it is to feel grown-up enough to have my own credit card without my parents having to co-sign.

For now I will just say, does anyone have recs for fic taking place at Hogwarts during Deathly Hallows? I was always said that we never got to see Neville and Ginny and McGonnagal kicking ass and keeping the castle safe during the school year, and seeing the movie has just reinforced this sadness. Also, would love to see any Neville- or McGonnagal-centric stuff, long or short, during or after the series. FLIST I AM COUNTING ON YOU.

Eventually there will also be some thoughts about what I use this journal for, and why I'm seriously considering making it friends-only despite the fear that this might make me even less of a presence in fandom than I already am (though, let's be honest, Young Wizards is pretty much my only fandom, and most of my really fandom-y stuff on LJ takes place on [ profile] youngwizards or [ profile] myriadwords or -- more recently -- the YW fic comm I'm somehow quite happily co-modding, [ profile] dai_stiho).

But right now, I really just want to get back to enjoying my summer afternoon, reading Red Glove and admiring how Holly Black refuses to pull her punches, and just keeps hitting her characters with blow after plot-propelling blow.

(Also, if anyone realized that the title of this post is actually a Young Wizards reference, please let me know so I can profess my undying love/propose marriage/bake you a cake.)


Jun. 22nd, 2011 09:36 am
readingredhead: (Reading)
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I'm a re-reader by nature, so if I like a book, chances are I have read it a LOT. It's also a habit I've picked up as a student of English literature -- you can't create a valid analysis out of a single reading.

The books I have read and/or heard the most are definitely Diane Duane's Young Wizards series, but this is because I own all of them as audiobooks in addition to having hard copies that I read every so often. For whatever reason, Jane Eyre is another book I find myself reading a whole hell of a lot (and Pride and Prejudice, though I like it better than Jane Eyre, is not something I find myself re-reading).
readingredhead: (Reading)
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As usual, this is a question that demands multiple answers, because it's me we're talking about, and I rarely read one good book per year. But this past year, I've done a lot of re-reading (both in school and out), so my new books intake has severely dropped. Thankfully, that's what next year is for...?

I feel that in order to appropriately answer this question, I have to give three answers. Maybe four. So stick with me.

When I first saw this question, the answer that immediately sprang to mind was Possession by A. S. Byatt, in which two modern academics discover the lost letters of two (fictional) Victorian poets, and follow the literary clues therein on a detective hunt through Great Britain and parts of France. Oh, and did I mention that they may or may not have something like a love story of their own throughout? I purchased Possession from a small used-and-new independent bookstore down the street from the hotel my grandmother stayed at in London this spring (right by the British Museum, where one of the characters actually works). I began reading it on the Eurostar train from London to Paris, and finished it in a small hotel room overlooking a tiny street between the Louvre and the Opera Garnier; I read with the kind of energy that a book hadn't evoked from me in far too long. Possession felt a little bit like the story of my life-as-it-could-be told back to me as a fiction: a collection of various texts (the novel includes third-person omniscient narration, snippets of poetry and academic prose, the discovered love letters, and various other ephemera) meandering over a wider ground than entirely necessary (it's been compared to a Victorian novel), questioning and testing but ultimately affirming the relationship between literature and love.

The other important books of this year (for very different reasons!) are ones I've talked about elsewhere: Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg and A Wizard of Mars by Diane Duane.

The rest of the texts I'm going to mention are very, very literary. But they're also very important. I think that Northanger Abbey, Pride and Prejudice, and Persuasion all belong on this list because the time I've spent with them, starting this summer with my SURF research, has really launched me into the thesis of a lifetime. Although Northanger Abbey is the only one out of these that I actually read for the first time this year, I've become increasingly close with the others, to the point where I have a bordering-on-brilliant fifteen-page Pride and Prejudice paper ready to be sent out to various graduate schools as we speak. My experience as a reader of Austen has changed so much since I was a freshman in high school disdainful of Emma, and I couldn't be happier about it. More and more, I feel like I've chosen (or been chosen by) the topic and the time period that are just right for me.
readingredhead: (Adventure)
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It depends if by "world" you mean a particular planet, or a particular universe. If I'm choosing between different planets/planet-like spaces/planar domains and dimensions, the first one that comes to mind is Narnia -- to live in a land where animals talk and children rule as kings and queens. Ever since The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe I've been longing for a meeting with Aslan.

But if we're talking about comprehensive fictional universes, I have to say that I'd most want to visit our mirror or neighbor universe (or is it really our universe and I haven't caught on yet?) as portrayed in Diane Duane's Young Wizards books and associated stories. Not because it has wizards, or at least, not just because it has wizards. In fact, I have a feeling that if I did go there, I wouldn't be one of those people who gets offered a chance to take the Wizard's Oath and take up a role in the great fight against entropy alongside Life Itself (because though I'm almost a "grown-up," a part of me believes or wants to believe that she's just describing the world as it really is, but as I can't see it -- and if this world really is her world, then I would have been offered the Wizard's Oath by now if there were any chance of that ever happening, because the world always needs more wizards...). But for whatever reason, Duane answers the questions of metaphysical cosmology for her universe in a way that appeals to me. Possibly this is because I first began reading her books in a moment when I was asking these same kinds of questions of my real universe, and failing to develop adequate answers. Possibly it's just another sign of the human dependency upon answers to fight off the darkness. Still, if I could head out to any of the strange and wonderful fictional worlds out there, I'd most like to find myself in a New York suburb eating dinner with the Rodriguezes and the Callahans (and perhaps, if I'm lucky, some alien visitors).
readingredhead: (Doctor What)
New Doctor Who. As I've only seen one episode it's totally possible that I will have to revoke this sentiment but something makes me doubt that, so here goes: Matt Smith has what it takes to make it. He's not David Tennant but he knows it and he's not trying to be. He's just being his own kind of Doctor and obviously having good fun with it. EDIT: Just watched second ep and while it doesn't make me like Matt Smith any more or less than I previously liked him, it does make me like Karen Gillan lots and lotses. I like that she's feisty and that it seems like, unlike previous companions, she's going to actually challenge the Doctor and argue with him and stuff. Not just sit there with puppy eyes when he's about to destroy the world and tell him to stop. I read an interview where Karen said Matt was like her annoying older brother, and I think that sort of shows in this ep, in a good way. Why do I have to be out of the country for the next one??

Torchwood. I have heard it is not on par with Doctor Who but seriously, John Barrowman. Need I say more? Also, awesome Welsh accents. I am seriously in love with the breadth and variety of British accents, and not just with that singular concept of "the British accent" (which almost always means the Oxford accent to Americans, including me before I lived here).

Changes by Jim Butcher. The most recent Dresden Files book, which just appeared in my mailbox and promises to be completely game-changing. I'm almost afraid to read it because I know I'll breeze through it in six hours and then be left waiting another year for the next one.

A Wizard of Mars by Diane Duane. The most recent Young Wizards book, which also just appeared in my mailbox in the same shipment from Amazon and is only the book I have been waiting for ALL MY LIFE. Seriously. It's been FIVE YEARS since the last YW release and I've waited oh so patiently. This is worse than waiting for Harry Potter because a) there are no movies and b) the fandom is much smaller, so there are fewer people to understand your pain (however, the small-but-dedicated fandom is generally one of the things I love about YW, so I shouldn't complain). I'm definitely afraid to read this one because I have no idea how long it'll be until the next one appears, and I do not know what I will do with myself in the meantime and with the waiting. This isn't like Jim Butcher where I know he'll pop out a book a year, no sweat (which allows me to read them so quickly when they come out). Diane Duane is meant to be savored, in slow but intense portions. I would almost say it has to be read casually, except there's nothing casual about it. In fact, I don't even remember what it's like to read one of her books for the first time anymore. The last time I had that experience, I had only just gotten a livejournal and certainly didn't blog about it. I just emphatically don't want it to be gone.

Preparation for spring break trip will probably take more time/effort/energy than I give it credit for. I mean, I'm gone for 16 days which I'm spending in 5 cities in 4 countries in 2 time zones (though only one continent this time). By the end of the month I'll have seen where the Thirty Years' War started, the Cold War (symbolically) ended, the great temple to Athena was built to command an entire city, a man named Freud revolutionized our perception of selfhood, and the small Greek island immortalized courtesy of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. It will be AMAZING. But try packing enough stuff for all of that in a small suitcase and you run into some issues (or at least I will...when I finally start packing the night before I leave).

Finally, it's sunny outside. Why in the world would I want to get things done when I could sit outside in the sunshine and just revel in the world being such a beautiful place?
readingredhead: (In the Book)
So my sister is coming to visit (yay yay yay!) in almost exactly two weeks and it is going to be absolutely the most epic and awesome week of our collective young lives. There will be theatre. There will be walks in parks. There will probably be bad weather for at least four days but that's a small price to pay for living in London. There will be lots of walking, lots of use of public transportation, lots of hanging out with large groups of friendly people, and of course, there will be dancing.

However, this means that my goal is to have finished with ALL schoolwork for the remainder of March before she arrives, seeing as how I do not intend to do anything while she is here other than gallivant around London (and perhaps even further afield -- I love you, National Rail) being awesome.

Of course, this also means that the only things I actually want to do are:

1) Watch Doctor Who. How have I been obsessed with most things British and lived in London for upwards of five months without seeing this show? I have heard so much about it that even without having watched it I was capable of picking up on references and jokes made by British people about the show. This is how culturally pervasive it is. (Also, how did I not go out and watch it immediately after I discovered that the strange man who saves Dairine in the Crossings during High Wizardry is actually meant to be the Doctor? Srsly, self, keep up!)

2) Return to Epic Novel of my Past. After getting back from reading week trip I had this sudden urge to reacquaint myself with the epic fantasy trilogy that I started writing way back when I was in fifth grade and haven't actively worked on since ninth grade. I looked back at it and liked a lot of what I saw and had about a week-long burst of energy in which I realized that I need more of Azuria in my life.

3) Write my first legitimately crossover fanfic? Oh dear god yes. I place blame upon a discussion over at [ profile] myriadwords about crossovers, and more specifically upon [ profile] araine and [ profile] odette_river for having linked me to fic that is, I kid you not, Artemis Fowl/Young Wizards. More specifically said fics involve shipping of two characters who are so obviously well matched that I am being drawn into severe violations of canon, something which I usually abhor in fic and ficcing. (Let's not even talk about the part where I rarely write fic anymore and never write anything over 1000 words or that takes more than one sitting to complete. Because apparently now I do?)

I think we'll just say that my next two weeks are going to be...quite interesting...and leave it at that.

WIP Meme

Feb. 26th, 2010 04:33 pm
readingredhead: (Library)
Post a sentence (or two) from as many of your WIPs as you want, with no explanation attached. Meme from [ profile] araine. Perhaps as expected, very few of these are actually one sentence.


“How did you two deal with going off to college?” Nita asked.

Tom and Carl shared a look that was one part nostalgia and one part “I told you this question was going to come up and that when it did, I didn’t want to be the one to answer it.”


“So let me get this straight,” he said. “You,” he pointed a finger at her, “want me,” he poked a finger into his own chest, “to help you learn how to act like a man. You want me to give you lessons in being a man, and then you want me to lend you a few sets of clothes and keep the secret that this mysterious man who’s just become engaged to your best friend is, in fact, you--dressed as a man, of course.”

Gil nodded. “Yeah. That pretty much explains it.” She paused for a second, then added, “And the sooner the better. We’d like to announce our engagement next week.”


Much has been said on the subject of universal truths, to the extent that a modern author, upon attempting to annex another aphorism to this collection, must be circumspect to say the least; but to the compendium of factual evidence thus sanctioned, I find it profitable to append one truth more: that is, that a man who does not know what it is like to be laughed at, cannot possibly have a wife, or cannot have had one for long.


For a moment, it’s all that Carl can do to look at Tom, wide-eyed and wondering which Power to thank. For safety’s sake, he decides to thank all of them. “You’re sure?” he asks breathlessly, in a voice so faint he can barely hear it.

“Carl,” Tom says, and there’s something new in his voice: impatience, and need. “Do you really think I’d have bothered with asking if I wasn’t?” He reaches up a hand to Carl’s face and traces the curve of his jaw with tentative fingers, his eyes never leaving Carl’s, not for a second.


It’s twilight when I open my eyes and find myself in the cemetery.


Everyone knew the witch’s house by its roses.


“Beautiful,” she heard him say, barely above a whisper. “Don’t you think?”

“Dangerous,” she returned.

“The fire warms as well as burns, you know.”

“It’s all a function of how close one gets,” she replied. “The closer you are, the greater the danger.”

“But the greater the warmth.”

“I don’t think I’m cold enough yet that I’d be willing to endure the pain of the burn for those few moments’ heat.”

Suddenly, he was looking right at her, his eyes cool and piercing. “Are you sure?”


Gah, going back through and looking for these quotes makes me really want to write the stories they belong to! Aaaaand now I have to stop procrastinating and actually get some work done. Less fun, but more productive than the alternative!
readingredhead: (In the Book)
Since Saturday, I have:

-had a snowball fight in the courtyard of a castle
-people-watched in a Dublin pub
-been caught in a snowstorm
-walked along cliffs overlooking the Irish Sea
-climbed Bray Head
-more or less relived key scenes from a Diane Duane novel (not my favorite, but how often do you get to visit an obscure Irish town you only knew about because of a kid's fantasy book?)
-eaten the most delicious scone of my life
-traveled by bus, train, ferry, and foot
-tried my first Guinness
-had my first drink bought for me
-listened to live music for free
-watched my first-ever episode of Friends
-discussed the Holyhead Harpies quidditch team while in Holyhead (Sidenote: Holyhead is ghetto and those lady quidditch players are either all on steroids or the wizardly solution to juvenile delinquency...)

And it's not over yet! Tomorrow morning I leave Dublin for Galway and the fun will only continue. Expect more complete update, with details, when I return on Friday/Saturday.
readingredhead: (Earth)
“Your people do have the idea of being ‘just good friends?’”

He gave her a sidewise look. “For so high and honorable an estate,” Roshaun said, “‘just’ seems a poor modifier to choose.”

--Wizards at War by Diane Duane
readingredhead: (Talk)
Day one • a song
Day two • a picture
Day three • a book
Day four • a site
Day five • a youtube clip
Day six • a quote
Day seven • whatever tickles your fancy

"In Life's name and for Life's sake, I assert I assert that I will employ the Art which is its gift in Life's service alone, rejecting all other usages. I will guard growth and ease pain. I will fight to preserve what grows and lives well in its own way; and I will change no object or creature unless its growth and life, or that of the system of which it is part, are threatened. To these ends, in the practice of my Art, I will put aside fear for courage, and death for life, when it is right to do so, looking always toward the Heart of Time, where all our sundered times are one, and all our myriad worlds lie whole, in That from Which They Proceeded..."

--The Wizard's Oath

This is why I love Diane Duane's Young Wizards. Summed up in this succinct but beautiful mission statement are many of the tenets I strove to follow unconsciously before I ever read these books. I will guard growth and ease pain. I will put aside fear for courage, and death for life. I've been thinking about tattoos lately because a couple of my friends have them, and while I would never get a tattoo (I'm a wimp), if I did, it would probably be the phrase "In Life's name and for Life's sake" written in a cursive script around my right wrist.

In the books, a prospective wizard begins his or her career by finding and taking the Oath. Perhaps even more than I wanted to get that owl sent from Hogwarts, I wanted one day to open up my copy of So You Want to Be a Wizard and have it transformed into a wizard's manual, so that when I read the Oath, it would mean more than just the words.
readingredhead: (Default)
Day one • a song
Day two • a picture
Day three • a book
Day four • a site
Day five • a youtube clip
Day six • a quote
Day seven • whatever tickles your fancy

Conveniently, I have come across another meme that allows me to sort of answer this one by providing a whole lot of stuff about books!

1) What author do you own the most books by?
Not having my bookshelf in front of me at this moment (it being in another country and all) it's hard to say, but probably Anne McCaffrey, simply because she is so prolific. I own all of her Dragonriders of Pern books (multiple copies of some of them) plus assorted others. She takes up a jam-packed half-shelf.

2) What book do you own the most copies of?
This is probably a toss-up between Jane Eyre and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. For Jane Eyre, I have the first copy I read (a falling-apart-at-the-seams $0.25 library bookstore purchase), the first critical copy I bought (because I really liked the introduction), two copies of the one with the killer engravings (yes, two, they were only $1 a piece), and the copy that I bought in London this semester to read for my Fiction and Narrative class. As for Sorcerer's Stone, I possess it in paperback, hardback, UK paperback, special edition (leather-bound and gold-edged pages), and the Latin translation. But I am the kind of person who thinks it's awesome to have multiple copies of the same book, particularly if they possess different cover art or have some interesting distinguishing feature, so there may well be some other book that I possess five copies of.

3) Did it bother you that both those questions ended with prepositions?
Considering I just ended my last response with a preposition, I'm going to say no.

4) What fictional character are you secretly in love with?
I can't give one answer. Remus Lupin is mostly an intellectual crush. I love Mr. Darcy but more because I identify strongly with Elizabeth. Same goes for Mr. Rochester -- I like him because I am so attuned to Jane. I feel guilty loving fictional characters who are already (fictionally) attached! Also, of course, I love Nik from Julie E. Czerneda's Species Imperative trilogy and Enris from the Stratification trilogy.

5) What book have you read the most times in your life?
I feel like it's probably one of the Harry Potter books or a Young Wizards book, simply because those books were my favorites long before I read any of the other books that are currently my favorites. I feel like I've read Jane Eyre a million times but the truth is that I've just listened to my audiobook a million times; I've only read it cover-to-cover maybe three or four times.

6) What was your favorite book when you were ten years old?
Probably Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban -- I know I read it before I turned eleven because once I turned eleven I kept waiting for my owl from Hogwarts to come...

7) What is the worst book you've read in the past year?
Breaking Dawn. Enough said.

8) What is the best book you've read in the past year?
Usually the answer to this would be a Julie E. Czerneda book, hands down, but Rift in the Sky was such a traumatic experience that I'm not sure I can say I liked it that much. I probably don't have a 'best' list, but I really came to like Neil Gaiman (mostly for The Graveyard Book and Neverwhere), George R. R. Martin redefined 'epic' for me with A Game of Thrones, and most recently Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca sent chills all up and down my spine.

9) If you could force everyone you tagged to read one book, what would it be?
So You Want to Be a Wizard by Diane Duane. Her books have changed my life and I can't imagine not having them in the world.

10) Who deserves to win the next Nobel Prize for literature?
J. K. Rowling. Her books have done more to unite the world under a banner of peace, love, and understanding than any author now alive.

11) What book would you most like to see made into a movie?
Probably Diane Duane's Young Wizards books. There was actually a project to do this a while back, and Duane herself was going to write the script (before becoming a fiction writer she wrote for film and television).

12) What book would you least like to see made into a movie?
Paradise Lost. Despite the fact that at one point last year there were two projects (one studio, one independent) attempting this. I don't know why.

13) Describe your weirdest dream involving a writer, book, or literary character.
I was talking with Julie E. Czerneda and she got mad at me for not having made Rebecca read her books. Another time Diane Duane told me that I was being cocky because she overheard me tell my dad that I really wanted to be published by a particular sff imprint.

14) What is the most lowbrow book you've read as an adult?
The more expensive variety of paperback romance...actually, the Twilight books are probably worse. And I read fanfic, so do with that what you like.

15) What is the most difficult book you've ever read?
Absalom, Absalom! by Faulkner is the first that comes to mind because it's difficult to get the story, much less something of the deeper meaning. But Paradise Lost might be the book where I've had to do the most digging for insight and meaning -- and where it has been most worthwhile.

16) What is the most obscure Shakespeare play you've seen?
Probably Love's Labours Lost -- I have read more obscure Shakespeare plays than I have seen.

17) Do you prefer the French or the Russians?
Oh man, my favorite revolutionaries. It's hard to pick (the Russians have Chekov!) but in the end I have to go with the French. As long as you understand that they're rarely meant to make sense, you'll be alright.

18) Roth or Updike?
No idea who these people are.

19) David Sedaris or Dave Eggers?
Managed to never read either of them.

20) Shakespeare, Milton, or Chaucer?
Milton, hands down. See the part where that man consumed last semester at Berkeley (in a rather painfully joyous way).

21) Austen or Eliot?
Um, since when is that a question? Austen. Definitely.

22) What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?
I have never read anything written before Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. For non-English majors this is not at all a gap, but for me it means I haven't read Homer, Virgil, or Dante, only some of the most alluded-to authors that I've never encountered.

23) What is your favorite novel?
The Wizard's Dilemma by Diane Duane

24) Play?
Twelfth Night by Shakespeare, The Last Five Years (score by Jason Robert Brown), Metamorphosis (not by Ovid!)

25) Poem?
"Let me not to the marriage of true minds" by Shakespeare; "When I consider how my light is spent" by Milton

26) Essay?
"Trickster in a Suit of Lights: Thoughts on the Modern Short Story" by Michael Chabon

27) Short story?
I don't really like short fiction -- either reading it or writing it. "Skin So Green and Fine" is an odd Beauty and the Beast retelling that makes the cut; "Attached Please Find my Novel" is a tale of intergalactic publishing escapades that's in it for the title alone.

28) Work of non-fiction?
Erm. I don't read those?

29) Graphic novel?
See above. Although I recently read Maus and thought it was fantastic.

30) Who is your favorite writer?
Aargh hatred for this question. But it's down to Diane Duane, Julie E. Czerneda, and J. K. Rowling.

31) Who is the most overrated writer alive today?
I wouldn't know, I haven't read him!

32) What is your desert island book?
Tough question, but probably A Thousand Words for Stranger or The Wizard's Dilemma. Both are narratives of hope and connection in the midst of a chaotic world. But Paradise Lost might make the list because I could use all that time I was stranded to get all my Milton ideas out of my system and onto some paper.

33) And ... what are you reading right now?
A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf
readingredhead: (Default)
I've got a lot of disjointed thoughts that I'm trying to manage in the hour before tutoring starts and I start earning money. In some kind of organization, then.

I heard back from the study abroad office, and I'm 99% guaranteed to be attending Queen Mary University of London. I'm incredibly looking forward to going abroad, and incredibly nervous, though not for the things that I should be nervous about -- mostly about how I'll deal with it snowing in the winter, and how my folks will handle an empty nest, and other unimportant details. Oh, and perhaps how I will eat. But that, too, is not such a big deal. All I know is, it's gonna be crazy and it's gonna be scary and it's gonna be good.

I don't have very much homework to do this weekend, which makes me feel very strange... There is nothing for me to be frantically working on, and that is not a common feeling! But I don't have any major due dates until after spring break, which is very nice and only slightly eerie.

In other news, we have yet another personal-soul-searching journal prompt from my creative writing professor: we're supposed to write about the one time we were totally and completely wrong. My response to this is summed up best by the response made by one of my classmates: "Professor Farber, anything I turn in will have to be fiction!" Not that I've never done anything wrong. But I can't believe I've ever been completely, one-hundred-percent, this-really-matters-and-you-screwed-up wrong. I take great pains not to be that kind of wrong. And if I had ever been that kind of wrong, I can promise you I wouldn't be telling Farber about it.

I'm really frustrated that we don't get to write about fictional characters in these journal entries; I kind of want to talk with him about it, but I don't think he likes me very much, and I think I've snarked my last snark (out loud, that is) about the journal topics.

If anyone knows of a time when I have been particularly wrong, please tell me. I am currently and honestly at a loss.

Also, I don't know what form he wants these "journals" to take. I write mine mostly as prose ramblings (much like this one) but all the other people I've seen write theirs as scenes in which they are characters. I don't know, that just doesn't do it for me. We're allowed to write about ourselves in the first person now, but even that doesn't alleviate my larger complain about these journals. This is a fiction class. Why aren't we allowed to write fiction??

In other news, we're starting to read Paradise Lost (Milton's epic poem about Genesis. Yes, you did just hear me right) in my Milton class and I'm pretty excited. It's part of what prompted me to write the story about the Satan that I'm still mulling over. Right now my problem is that I need to find the character that the Satan would not want to test -- the person who'd make the devil throw his hands up in the air and say, "Enough already! God, why do I have to keep testing this guy's faith? Isn't it pathetically obvious he believes?" I have this vague desire to set the story in New York City without ever having traveled there, and with very little knowledge about the place. Because I can see this Satan hanging out in NYC. Maybe the person that he's tempting is just a regular kid -- but in my head, when I picture that scenario the devil becomes the Lone Power and the kid becomes Kit Rodriguez from Diane Duane's Young Wizards books (which rock so many socks it's impossible to explain or describe).

(Over an hour later, after being distracted by a conversation and by having to go to work...)

So while walking to work I had this idea that chinchillas needed to end up in this story, but then I had this horrible idea that the boy that the Satan is trying to tempt has a chinchilla, and the Satan KILLS IT! And I almost have to die for thinking that. But now I have a strange image of the boy being a smaller boy (which I don't want to do, because not that I've read The Book of Joby, nor do I intend to before writing this story, but the kid in that story is younger I think) who looks like Kit but for some reason has Star Wars bedsheets and a pet chinchilla that gets killed by the Satan. GAH.

In other news, here are some pretty pictures of how I picture my Satan. Because he's a not-so-shameless rip-off of Diane Duane's Lone Power, except not really. I think my Satan looks kind of like if you could mix Satan from Paradise Lost and the Lone One from Young Wizards (come to think about it, on some days that's how I consider my ideal fictional religion -- a cross between Milton's and Duane's perceptions of their various fictional worlds...this does not make me more of a geek or anything, of course not).

I should probably go do my job now.
readingredhead: (Burning)
So, instead of eating my dinner or doing any one of the numerous homework assignments that are bound to crush me to a pulp between now and Thursday, I have been accosted by a short story. I am actually rather pleased by this -- I have been waiting for this particular story to make itself work for me ever since reading the Book of Job (yeah, the one from the bible) last semester for my biblical poetry class. And as a result, I'm writing a short story about Satan. Or rather, "the Satan" (long story that will get outlined elsewhere). It's set in the modern world, and thus far opens with the following line:

"The Satan had known coming into this job that it had a high turnover rate, but leaning back in his leather swivel chair and observing the view out the window of his 66th story corner office, he really didn’t understand why."

(For the record, this is currently the ONLY sentence. But the ideas are still in the process of accosting, so I figure I'll give it some time.)

What I require from you, dear readers, is further inspiration. I know I have my own personal favorite portrayals of Satan or the Devil in literature, from Satan in Paradise Lost to the Lone Power in Diane Duane's Young Wizards books, but I want to play around with figurations of the character of the devil and what his work actually entails. What does your favorite interpretation of the devil look or act like? What are some interesting names for the Devil, or for evil figures in general? (I'm looking for everything from Pluto to Prince of Darkness.) What can I do to make this awesome?

...yeah. Well. Now I should maybe go eat that dinner and work on that paper and problem sets and chapters worth of reading that are all due within the next two days. That seems like an intelligent idea.
readingredhead: (Default)
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Because I don't quite feel like getting back to writing a novel yet -- the top 10 books I read this year. DISCLAIMER: The exact rankings are a little sketchy, and NO ONE is allowed to judge me based upon them. :)

10. Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner
Okay, so I'm a little psycho. Somehow, I really liked this book. Maybe it's because I got into hours worth of conversations about it with my GSI and professor, and their discussions convinced me that it was a worthwhile book. But whether or not I actively enjoyed reading every page, I was actively reading, trying to figure out what was going on and attempting to unravel the mysteries of the Sutpen family... It was my favorite book of this fall's English class, that's for sure.

9. The Faerie Queene (Books 1 and 3) by Edmund Spenser
There are moments where this book was fun, and moments where it wasn't -- another book where analyzing it made it more interesting. I wrote what I felt was a pretty kickass paper about Spenser's allegorical method, and really enjoyed the way this book felt like Disney technicolor sometimes.

8. War for the Oaks by Emma Bull
You'd think that it wouldn't be the best idea to read a love story right after you've been broken up with. But Danica kept telling me this was a good book, and I needed something new, so I read it. It wasn't overall captivating, but there were moments of it that I really enjoyed, and it deserves to be on the list for its originality at the very least.

7. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin
This book probably belongs waaaay higher up on the list, but I can't make a definite decision about it because I've only read it once, and rather recently, thus biasing me. I read most of it in one or two sittings, and it was my first exposure to LeGuin. I still don't know entirely what to think, other than to be awed by her command of worldbuilding and to wonder at her sparse yet evocative writing style.

6. Sabriel by Garth Nix
Another book I'd been told to read forever and had never gotten around to until I got to review it for Teens Read Too. The premise and the style are so unique, somehow so clean, and there's something about the characters that makes me wish I could see a little more of them. I've already re-read it once.

5. Paradise Lost by John Milton
The language may seem as impenetrable as a brick wall, but it's also as beautiful as a work of art -- it is a work of art. I read this for an English class, as you might guess, but somewhere along the line, I fell in love with it. Possibly because of the analysis of it, but not to the same extent as with Faulkner and Spenser. This, I would enjoy even outside of the analytical context, whereas I have a feeling that if I encountered Faulkner or Spenser outside of the classroom I would have been too frightened to make anything of them. I'm beginning to realize how much I learn about life in the English classroom -- be it religion, individuality, feminism, you name it, Milton probably had something to say about it, and I'm glad to have read it. (Plus -- where else are you going to get a description of angels having sex in iambic pentameter??)

4. Small Favor by Jim Butcher
Harry Dresden will always make me laugh and sometimes also make me cry, or at least realize the tenderness and poignancy in the world around me. This book did more of the former than the latter, but was just what the doctor ordered. It left me, as they always do, waiting for the next one.

3. Slightly Married by Mary Balogh
I decided to put only one of the romance novels I've been reading on this list, because it was difficult to choose between them -- but this is the first in a series, and includes some of the characters that I enjoyed the most. Again, the mode in which I encountered this novel probably has a decent amount to do with why I enjoyed it so much. Rebecca and I read it out loud together! Skipping all the intensely smutty parts, of course. :) But seriously, I love being read to. It's one of my favorite things. We're now working our way through the series and are on the fourth book of six. (Rebecca, if you're reading this, I miss Gervase!)

2. Deep Wizardry by Diane Duane
So technically I'm not sure this book should count, since this was certainly not the first time I read it by any means. But as usual, Diane Duane played an important role in the process of my life, this time by providing me with something to fall asleep to so I wouldn't have to think about who I wouldn't be waking up to. More than that, she made me cry for all the right reasons and remember that men and women can have healthy relationships predicated entirely upon friendship, even if only in fiction.

1. Riders of the Storm by Julie E. Czerneda
As usual, Julie takes the cake for renewing my sense of awe and wonder at the universe. I think I've probably said enough about this book already, but I suppose a few more words won't hurt. I haven't re-read it yet, but I plan to do so in the new year. Then, I'll know how good it actually is -- first readings are occasionally inaccurate -- but for now I can just say that it's the first time in a long time that I've cried for joy.

...aaaaand now I officially can't procrastinate anymore, not if I really want to get this novel done, which I do, I do! I am so psyched about this!
readingredhead: (Stranger)
Ohmigod so I just finished the best book written in the English language (see previous post for more unnecessary squeeing). And seriously, Julie has outdone herself here. The end of the book had me crying because I was so happy. Now, I cry a lot for books, especially good ones. In fact, my current favorite book of all time, The Wizard's Dilemma, has earned that distinction at least in part because of its consistent ability to bring me to tears. But those are oh-my-god-the-main-character's-mother-is-dying-and-there's-nothing-she-can-do-about-it tears. Very different from nothing-could-possibly-be-so-joyful, true-love-requited, heart-so-full-to-bursting tears. The former are cathartic, it's true, but I am just now learning that the latter are absolutely delicious. It's like the feel of being so in love with someone that you can't help but shed tears of amazement and glory and wonder that the world has chosen to present you with something so perfect as this.

My friends aren't the only ones who remind me that true love exists. I get those reminders from fiction, especially Julie's fiction, on a regular basis. But there's nothing quite like the first read through a marvelous story. It is its own kind of first love--the intensity, the drama, the potential for deep heartache, the unfathomable reward awaiting those who triumph.

I am so brimming with words and with smiles, with unself-conscious giggles that escape me at the strangest moments, with an overflowing gratitude for the existence of love in this universe. I need to do, to be, to create. I need to sing a new song and dance like I actually know how (or like I don't know how and don't care). I need to spin around under the stars and absorb the wonder of the universe.

And, most of all, I need to write. Because if writing can do all of this, can there be any calling higher?
readingredhead: (Default)
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Favorites, in no particular order, include:
Hermione Granger
Remus Lupin
Nita Callahan
Kit Rodriguez
Dairine Callahan
Tom Swale
Carl Romeo
Harry Dresden
Karrin Murphy
Thomas Raith
Michael Carpenter
Artemis Fowl
Holly Short
Dana Scully
Fox Mulder
Luke Skywalker
Leia Skywalker
Han Solo
Jane Eyre
Edward Rochester
Elizabeth Bennet
Fitzwilliam Darcy
Anne Shirley
Joshua Lyman
Aryl Sarc
Sira Morgan
Jason Morgan
Rael di Sarc
Enris Mendolar
Mackenzie Elizabeth Winifred Wright Connor, aka Mac
Nikolai Trojanowski

It's a rather interesting list. I have characters by J. K. Rowling (2), Jim Butcher (4), Julie E. Czerneda (7), L. M. Montgomery (1), Jane Austen (2), Charlotte Bronte (2), George Lucas (3), Chris Carter (2), Diane Duane (6), Eoin Colfer (2), and Aaron Sorkin (1).

Of course I am more in love with some of them than I am with others. I think if I had to make a top five list, I would probably die first. But since I don't have to, if I think really hard about narrowing it down, it's not so difficult. I don't just like characters for their similarities to me, or their entirely kickass abilities, or anything like that. Sometimes it's more about their depth and complexity.

For instance, take Elizabeth Bennet and Jane Eyre. I would rather be Elizabeth, but as a character I have a deeper admiration for Jane. Elizabeth's story is fun and witty, but Jane's is soul-wrenching.

It's not surprising to me that Julie's characters make up most of the list, since the thing that I love about her writing is her characterization, but if I had to pick one I liked the best it would be a tough call...all her leading ladies have captured a different part of my heart. Aryl, Sira, and Mac would be strong contenders for a spot on my top five, though if it came to an out-and-out battle, Aryl would win.

Scully's possibly the only non-literary character who could make my top five. I love the X-Files because of the depth and complexity of these characters despite the limitations of the medium (I always feel more for books than for TV). I have felt for Scully enough that I think she might deserve a place on the list.

Harry Dresden might be the only man to make the top five, but he really deservese to be there, simply because he is so kickass. Also, his voice is beautiful. There's an example of creator and creation in a fantastic working relationship.

Hm. So I think perhaps my top five, in no particular order, comes down to Hermione, Aryl, Dresden, Jane, and Scully.

And now I'm just rambling. There are far more characters who annoy me than there are characters that I like, so I think I'll stop this entry right now before I go absolutely crazy.
readingredhead: (Talk)
I am again overcome by a great love of Diane Duane. I'm sure I've told you all a million times that you should read her books because they really will change your life, but I mean it. So much of who I am and who I want to be -- not just as a writer, but as a person -- is within the pages of her books, specifically the Young Wizards series that she began more than twenty years ago.

I just finished listening to the audiobook of Deep Wizardry, the second book in the series and one of my favorites. This is how good it is: even listening to the audiobook made me cry, in all the right places and for all the right reasons. Maybe that's more of a reflection of my current emotional state than it is of the book itself, but I don't like to think so. I'm really mad I don't have my own copy of it here, because if I did I'd fill this entry with quotes from it that make me feel more myself. Because there are so many of those...

I read Deep Wizardry for the first time the summer after sixth grade, when I was on vacation in the Caribbean for a week. I'd read the first book in the series, So You Want to Be A Wizard, sometime before, but whenever I read Deep Wizardry I'm brought back to that catamaran that I lived on with my family for a week, the feel of sailing and the ubiquity of the sea. I took it for granted that I had these beautiful warm waters to swim through, dive in, live off of. And then I got stung by a jellyfish pretty badly at Virgin Gorda, five or six days through the week, and I was belowdecks for a while trying to ignore the pain, and reading. I picked up Deep Wizardry and it couldn't have been more appropriate. It was all about the ocean, it turned out, featuring sharks and whales as important characters. But it was -- and is! -- about so much more than that. Whenever I look at the cover of my slightly-battered copy of Deep Wizardry, I'm transported back to Virgin Gorda and Marina Cay and Tortola, reading in beach chairs that had been pulled down into a few feet of water so that I reclined within the rolling-in of small waves.

But the book is so much bigger than that. There are questions from Deep Wizardry that the series still hasn't answered -- pretty impressive considering that it's now going into its ninth book (which I of course cannot wait to get my hands on). And it's not just the questions. It's the everything. Deep Wizardry is about how friendship grows and changes, how children interact with their parents, telling the truth, sacrifice and redemption, facing your death, making mistakes, defying evil, the environment, magic, love, loss, life. It's about people and wizards and whales and a shark or two. It's got a visit to the moon -- the one that I wrote my college entrance essay for Stanford about, the one that sticks with me today so that everything I think about space travel and wizardry is informed by it.

I don't know why I'm writing this. It's not particularly eloquent. But I just love how this book -- these books, really, anything she writes -- can always make me feel alright about the universe. Her explanation of life, death, and afterlife comforts me more than any other one that I've run into. And her idea of wizardry, the purpose of which is, pure and simple, to serve Life, and make sure it keeps on going, is fundamental to my understanding of creation and the world around me. I find it hard to believe that she's an atheist; I get a greater sense of spirituality from her writing than I do from a lot of other people. Not only is there a Creator, but there is an afterlife where "what's loved, survives." This principle seems like a pretty sound one to me.

Now I'm just rambling and I've got a bunch of things I should be doing, like getting ready to go to the book signing in San Francisco later this afternoon (yes, Katherine, I am getting Jim Butcher to sign something for you). I just needed to talk about this, for whatever reason, even if it's talking to no one.

And I lied. I'm gonna leave you with some quotes after all.


It hurt, she said.

We know, the answer came back. We sorrow. Do you?

For what happened?

No. For who you are now--the person you weren’t a week ago.



“It must be a crippled life your people live up there, without magic, without what can’t be understood, only accepted--”

--Ed (he's a shark!)


But Nita’s mother was looking up at the sky with a look of joy so great it was pain—the completely bearable anguish of an impossible dream that suddenly comes true after years of hopeless yearning. Tears were running down her mother’s face at the sight of that sky, so pure a velvet black that the eye insisted on finding light in it where light was not—a night sky set with thousands of stars, all blazing with a cold, fierce brilliance that only astronauts ever saw; a night sky that nonetheless had a ravening sun standing noonday high in it, pooling all their shadows black and razor-sharp about their feet.


What they saw was part of a disk four times the size of the moon as seen from Earth; and it seemed even bigger because of the Moon’s foreshortened horizon. It was not the full Earth so familiar from pictures, but a waning crescent, streaked with cloud swirls and burning with a fierce green-blue radiance—a light with a depth, like the fire held in the heart of an opal. That light banished the idea that blue and green were “cool” colors; one could have warmed one’s hands at that crescent. The blackness to which it shaded was ever so faintly touched with silver—a disk more hinted at than seen; the new Earth in the old Earth’s arms.
readingredhead: (Stranger)
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A writer, without a doubt, but which one? All of my favorites paint the world with such different strokes, and yet each of them is "full worthy" (oh my god, I just quoted Chaucer out of context) of the praise that they get.

J. K. Rowling's the most popular of my favorite artists, and I feel like she's probably the most mainstream now, although she wasn't always. She was the genre-maker, the one who defined an entirely new school of art and pioneered her way through it. And she did it well.

Diane Duane I would say is probably an oil painter, with vivid details standing out so greatly in her work that there isn't a single word put to waste. Every time I read something she's written I learn more about myself.

Julie E. Czerneda works almost like a watercolor artist, but her medium is the human (or alien) heart in all its complexities -- her books are written directly from their subjects' blood and tears and hopes.

Jim Butcher's got the feel of a nitty-gritty sketch artist, who works in black and white but mostly in the grays, whose pictures are always a little fuzzy, but whose sharp pencils delineate in bold strokes the extent of life, love, courage, danger, and mortality.

And now I really have to write a paper about the importance of "degree" in Chaucer, specifically the Wyf of Bath's Prologue and Tale, but I needed to do something to keep me from thinking about that and this seemed like a good idea.

(What kind of artist am I? Jane Austen once called herself a minaturist, whose canvas was but a piece of ivory an inch across, and upon which she wrought with exquisite details her stories. What of Charlotte Bronte? Now I'm rambling/procrastinating, but there are worse things to ramble/procrastinate about.)
readingredhead: (Pants)
So I have found t-shirts that I want, and I have found them in a very odd manner. You see, I have this friend who reads this webcomic and today he linked me to it in a comment, and after reading the comic I decided to browse around the site. Which led me to merchandise, which led me to the shirts.

I want them.

This one reminds me of a book I read (and loved) wherein a wizard really does turn people into whales (or more accurately, wizards turn themselves into whales with the help of other wizards who actually are wales). Deep Wizardry owns you all.

This one I want for more sentimental reasons. It's because it's so true for me. I wanted to be an astronaut (part of me still wants to), but I also want to be a writer, and that passion is stronger. Still...that doesn't mean that it's easy to give up on something you'd truly like to do...this shirt says a lot to me.

Only downside is that they cost real money (oops) and I'm a spendthrift. But I really want them!!!

Because I'm bored, there are a few other shirts I also want which I shall now post images of.

You can't see the text real clearly, but it's the Wizard's Oath from Diane Duane's Young Wizards books. I think it's a credo to live by, in many ways, and it would be awesome to have it on a shirt!

Also from Diane Duane's site. Shannen, I think we should get these.

And I'm going to stop being random now...though I must say, it's fun!

And Luke: I want a pants shirt when you make them.


readingredhead: (Default)

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