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.


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: (Write)
Because they're almost over. And I hate them. And I want to die, and I'm never reading Jane Eyre again. (At least not for two years, and maybe not until I decide to use it as the set text for the coda to my PhD dissertation, which, yes, is taking shape in my mind at the moment and does need to end with a half-chapter on Jane Eyre in its current nebulous form. Yes, this means I am already thinking about the topic of my PhD dissertation/first published academic work. I'm a dork like that.)

ANYWAY, my actual point in this entry is to tell you about a really nifty online writing tool that someone else recommended to me and that I like thoroughly. It's called and it pretty much is what it sounds like: a site where you can go to write 750 words each day, every day. What they're about is totally up to you, but you're encouraged to write them on a daily basis. What you write is itself entirely private, although the site does have some cool features that analyze what you write in an attempt to determine your mood, your prevailing concerns, etc. and you can decide to share that information with the public if you like. I really rarely recommend techy stuff, or writerly stuff, but I really like this.

Mostly, I like it because I can write 750 words of more-or-less stream-of-consciousness venting in 10 minutes, and doing this every day for the past 10 days has been something to look forward to. In the future I want to challenge myself to use this site in new ways -- pick a month and select a different theme for every day, or spend one month writing an ongoing story in 750-word daily increments, or even try to write in French one day a week (though trying to add the accents would probably be hellish) -- but even without these specific challenges, it's been really neat as a tool.

Also, I just really like the site design. Very simple writing interface, which I am currently in love with (instead of your words working down the page, the page scrolls up as you a typewriter!), sleek design overall, and -- because no way would we be doing this without rewards of some kind -- there are BADGES! You get new badges depending upon how many days in a row you've managed to write, and for how many total words you've written once you get to a certain point. One of my friends and fellow interns at the Office of Letters and Light did a short blog post about it that gives you a preview of the nifty graphics (though, sadly, not very many badges -- she and I started at about the same time).
readingredhead: (Professor)
After a good deal of thinking, and the combination of just the right encouragement and motivation, I've decided to set up a separate blog where I can write in a moderately professional, moderately serious matter about the (often irreverent or "non-literary") topics that I find interesting as a student of English literature.

So, if you're as interested as I am in the intersection of classroom literature and popular literature, follow me over at Austen and Aliens. The blog's inaugural post -- about what I learned about Jane Eyre by reading a modern science-fiction adaptation of Bronte's famous novel -- is probably a decent indicator of the tone and subject matter I plan to take up in the following posts. I'm already making long lists of future topics to tackle (answering questions such as "What do Austen's Persuasion and Beyonce's 'Single Ladies' have in common?" and "Why is it academically acceptable for me to read 18th-century pornographic literature in the classroom, but not modern romance novels outside of the classroom?") and will likely use it as a fertile outlet for intelligent discussion and wild procrastination as I pursue the course of my thesis in following months.

Ultimately, though, I expect it'll help me develop a confident and conversational though still professional and analytical voice in which to discuss literature -- and who knows, maybe it'll actually help me win those arguments about the significance of genre fiction that I've been having with my father for all these years.
readingredhead: (Talk)
I spent the first two thirds of my day working on an essay for my Dickens class that I don't want to have to look at ever again, even though I have no choice but to do so. But then I went out to dinner with friends and went to see The Real Thing at the Old Vic and it was amazing and here I am thinking that it's going to be cool enough to meet Toby Stephens (aka Mr. Rochester from the 2007 BBC miniseries), AND THEN IT GETS BETTER. You know how? Because Christopher Eccleston -- the Ninth Doctor himself! -- walks out from backstage and smiles that goofy grin with those fabulous ears and I get up the guts to walk up to him, offer him a pen and paper, and tell him as he signs my program that he's my Doctor. And I'm thinking it's not just my imagination that that smile got just that much wider when I said it. After that, Toby Stephens was really just icing on the cake.

And then I came home, AND THERE WAS CAKE WAITING FOR ME. It's almost like there was no Dickens in my day at all.

(Also, how do I not have a Ninth Doctor icon? Perhaps after I have written three essays and died, I will have to find one.)
readingredhead: (Professor)
This post serves three rather scanty purposes:

1. To exude glee over my finally having figured out what I'm going to write about for the first of my final essays (which is due in a week), and on top of that having figured out that it is something I am actually really interested in.

2. To make legitimate use of the (rather amazing) Doctor Who quote that titles it, because yes, I feel that smart today.

3. To make (somewhat) legitimate use of my new icon, which, while it is technically also a quote from Doctor Who (though not from the Doctor), is also a decent expression of my attitude toward life as a whole, and could probably be used retroactively as an icon for many of my past posts to great effect.

4. I lied, there is a fourth purpose: procrastination! (And to tell you that now I feel the need to possess an icon with a Dalek saying "Procrastinaaaaaate!" Oh, the unnecessary things I would do with unlimited icons...)


5. To comment on how adorable it is that British people end texts/messages with x's on a regular basis -- even if they are your lecturers. xx
readingredhead: (Stars)
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

Illustration of Jane and Mr. Rochester after the proposal scene in Volume II, Chapter VIII. Engraved by Fritz Eichenberg. Reproduced from the 1943 Random House edition of Jane Eyre.

For those of you who have seen the film Definitely Maybe, this edition of Jane Eyre is the one that April's father has inscribed to her before his death, the one which she is constantly looking for. But before it had a starring role in this movie (which I really like and think you should probably watch if you haven't), it had a starring role on my bookshelf. I found it for $2 at the Mission Viejo Library bookstore and was so surprised with my good luck that I almost couldn't believe it.

I love black-and-white engravings. And the engravings in this edition of Jane Eyre so appropriately reproduce the intensity, the emotion, and the gothic character of the novel. When I think of this scene in the book, I inevitably think back to this illustration. You can't see their faces, their backs are turned, but they shelter in each other, and the curves of their bodies are echoed in the curves of the trees. This image foreshadows what is to come just as well as Bronte's narrative does. And it's just so beautiful. I feel like all illustrations should be like this.

If you want to see more illustrations, you can check out this short article about the book, posted by someone else who owned it and loved it before watching Definitely Maybe.
readingredhead: (Default)
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Well, this corresponds nicely with the following meme I was going to steal from [ profile] gienahclarette. The rules are:

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

I'm not the kind of person who tends to follow individual artists; usually I just stumble across individual songs that set my mind on fire a little. I've only ever been to concerts for Jason Mraz and Vienna Teng, and I do like them both very much...but then there are the musicals. And I feel bad picking a single song out of context -- I feel like knowing the full ten helps. (Really you'd need to see the contents of my entire iPod to figure this out; I'm leaving out so many great songs from musicals and Disney movies that I love and adore, just to make sure all the right ones get in!) So, here goes!

10. "You Make My Dreams" by Hall & Oates
--I first fell in love with this song thanks to the movie (500) Days of Summer. It's just an upbeat little ditty that always makes me want to sing (and dance) along whenever it's played. Over the summer it was the number one song on my workout playlist; I would start my runs every morning to the bouncy, upbeat beginning chords and smile because everything was right with the world.

9. "I Can Go the Distance" from Hercules
--The thing about this song is that I have often dreamed of a far-off place where a hero's welcome will be waiting for me. And on some days, when that welcome seems further off than others, I can listen to this song and take hope. And it also has the nagging ability to remind me that there are different kinds of welcome -- the shift in the final verse from finding the hero's welcome in a crowd of people who are impressed by fame and fortune to finding it in the arms of someone who loves you for who you are, hero or not, to that person you are the world.

8. "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey
--Although the first Journey song that I ever listened to was "Running Alone" (because Nita listens to it in High Wizardry and I wanted to know what it was about it that made it a good enough song for Diane Duane to actually include in her novel), "Don't Stop Believing" (for all its popularity) strikes a stronger chord in me. It's about anguish and despair and making meaning out of the nothingness, whether there is any intrinsic meaning or not. There are days when I think about taking the midnight train "going anywhere," and on these days this song seems to speak even more loudly to me.

7. "Come on Get Higher" by Matt Nathanson
--When I first heard this song I didn't like it that much because everyone else liked it. Then someone had it as the leading track in a fanmix for a specific Young Wizards pairing (expect to see much more of Diane Duane's Young Wizards in this seven-day meme) and listening it in that context made me realize how beautiful it is. "Everything works in your arms"? So perfect. So true. It's a song for many moods, and I never feel like I can't listen to it.

6. "City Hall" by Vienna Teng
--I couldn't believe this song the first time I heard it. It tackles the issue of gay marriage in a singular, individual manner that makes you listen: it's not general, it's specific. Again, the piano is beautiful, understated, with this great cheeriness to it, of the smile-in-the-face-of-darkness variety, that seems so appropriate given the circumstances. "You've never seen a sight so fine as the love that's gonna shine at City Hall," and "If they take it away again some day, this beautiful thing won't change."

5. "Vienna" by Billy Joel
--Sometime during junior year of high school, when everything seemed to be all too much, Stephanie Johnson told me that I needed to listen to this song, and I'm still indebted to her for the suggestion. From its first command to "slow down, you crazy child" to the sad but true injunction to "dream on, but don't imagine they'll all come true," this song provides a good breather to the person I am, a reminder that I "can't be everything [I] want to be before [my] time, although it's so romantic on the borderline tonight." It tells me that I need to slow down, to put things in perspective, but it also tells me that "only fools are satisfied," that the dreaming and the inability of ever achieving everything that I want to will hurt but will in the end be part of who I am.

4. "All That's Known" from Spring Awakening
--There are a lot of blockbuster songs in this musical, but this is the one that always gets me. Melchior's questing at the boundaries of the knowledge allowed to him by traditional institutions is something I've felt before: that, and the desire "to know the world's true yearning -- the hunger that a child feels for everything they're shown" -- to feel the world in such an immediate and unfiltered way.

3. "Beauty and the Beast" from Beauty and the Beast
--"Bittersweet and strange, finding you can change, learning you were wrong" -- I honestly think that this song charts the course of all of the great romances that I have come to know and love. And it's part of the best Disney movie in all existence, based on the best fairytale in all existence, etc. I love Angela Lansbury but I don't like the version she sings; I prefer the duet between Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson. Just the opening chords are enough to give me that feeling of warm-and-fuzzy happy.

2. "Harbor" by Vienna Teng
--I love Vienna Teng as a songwriter because she has lines like this: "Fear is the brightest of signs -- the shape of the boundary we leave behind." And she backs them up with gorgeous and emphatic piano. In this song it becomes dramatic, swelling, and yet still so personal. She takes a common metaphor -- the loved one as a safe harbor (for example, see "Wild Nights! Wild Nights!" by Emily Dickinson) -- and turns it into something unique and beautiful.

1."Brave Enough for Love" from Jane Eyre the Musical
(in a great irony, I can't listen to this track recording because I am in the UK and the service is US only -- but that means you all can listen!)
--Of course my love for Jane Eyre as a book contributes to my love of this song in the musical. Everything from the little interchanges between Jane and Rochester, taken almost verbatim from the book (R: "Am I hideous?" J: "Very, sir. (pause) You always were, you know."), to the final climactic sweep of the ending chorus, gives me hot and cold chills. And there's this idea that love is something that requires bravery -- that living in tandem with another life is difficult, a struggle -- and yet the most worthwhile struggle that mankind can engage in. The music is absolutely beautiful and backs this up wonderfully.
readingredhead: (Rain)

I spent three nights and two full days of this weekend in Rome. I was there for a week or so during July, and this was my fourth trip there in total (the first being six years ago, when I was just fourteen), but every time I visit, the city has something new to give me. This time, I met up with my friend Andy, who’s studying at Trinity College in Dublin for this school year and who had always wanted to go to Rome but had never even been to Europe until his trip to Dublin. With my more-than-average knowledge of the history, myth, legend, geography, and even language of Rome, I led us on a two-day whirlwind tour of all of the major sights and experiences, including:

the Vatican Museum + Sistine Chapel;

St. Peter’s Basilica + climb to the ‘cupola’ (the pinnacle atop the dome);

Piazza Navona;

the Pantheon;

Piazza di Spagna/Spanish Steps;

Trevi Fountain;

Piazza del Popolo and Via del Corso;

Borghese gardens;

Victor Emmanuel Monument;

Roman Forum;

Colosseum (properly known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, in case you were curious).

In fact, the best question is probably what we didn’t see. We didn’t cross the river and hang out in Trastevere, we didn’t go into the museum at the Villa Borghese, we didn’t rent Vespas…and really that’s about all that we didn’t manage that I have at some point done or wanted to do.

My favorite part was being in the Forum at sunset; I took more pictures in that one hour than I did at any other site we visited, I’m almost sure of it. There’s something beautiful about Rome at sunset, but the Forum at sunset in mid-October was totally breathtaking; I’ve never seen anything like it, in Italy or elsewhere (though Florence, near the Arno River, during a summer sunset comes to mind). I also really liked climbing to the top of the ‘Vittoriano,’ as the Victor Emmanuel Monument is called in Italian, and seeing the city from there, something my family and I had never done. The days were long, and there was a lot of walking, but I had a fantastic time — mostly because I’m slowly becoming more and more familiar with the city and its culture. I’m even getting confident enough in basic Italian to ask for directions, order a meal, and always say my pleases and thank-yous (not to mention read street signs and purchase train and metro tickets). Actually, it wasn’t until after I’d gone through the whole process in Italian that I realized the self-service metro ticket machines could be made to display their instructions in English.

This upcoming weekend will be spent reading Nicholas Nickleby and writing the first essay of the semester (a close textual analysis of a passage from Jane Eyre) because the weekend after that, I will be making my first ever trip to Paris! Then I have one more week of instruction before I get a whole week off for ‘Reading Week,’ in which technically you’re supposed to study and catch up with reading, but when I and my friends will be spending two and a half days in Barcelona followed by three and a half days in Marrakesh. I’m really excited to be doing so much traveling and experiencing so many different places while I’m here, but I’m equally excited to be able to call London ‘home.’

I had a few hours of crazy stress yesterday because the way that you turn in assignments here is so different, and teachers in general seem less concerned about reminding you when your assignments are due. In this case, I was pretty sure that an assignment for my Dickens class was due today by 4:30pm, but when I logged onto the VLE (think blackboard or bspace) it said that it was due yesterday (today at the time) by 4:30pm. It was 1pm when I read this and I had class starting at 3 that I couldn't miss. I ran around finishing up my assignment (thank god it was mostly done already) and then filling out the requisite coversheets (both in print and online) and submitting both a virtual copy via the VLE and a hard copy in person to the English Department office. This makes me miss Berkeley.

Also, my Representing London: the Eighteenth Century class was talking about coffeehouses today and the different kinds of sociability one finds there, and it made me miss my favorite cafe in Berkeley. Oh, Milano, how I pine for thee. There's good coffee here but the pub is the social locale du jour, so I'm stuck with convenient but uninspiring cafes. Still, I can't complain, because they're in London. Every so often I'll be doing something — whether it be reading Jane Eyre, or listening to a Beatles song, or just walking outside and breathing in the beautiful grass-and-wet-cement smell of early mornings post-rain — and then I'll realize that I'm not just reading this novel, or listening to this music, or capturing this moment. I'm doing it in a place that made it, in a sense. London is the genesis of so many things that are important to me. Maybe that's why coming here feels in its own way less like going away and more like coming home.
readingredhead: (Rain)
Because I should have been writing, but I wasn't.

What's the last thing you wrote?
...It's probably bad that I don't remember. I'm pretty sure that it was from The Printer's Daughter, my as-of-yet unfinished 2007 NaNovel.

Was it any good?
The fact that I can't remember it probably means that it wasn't. I've been planning two random stories that popped into my head, but I haven't really been writing on them (because I'm saving them up so I have options for NaNoWriMo 2008).

What's the first thing you ever wrote that you still have?
When I was four, I wrote a story about the cat who lived next door. His name was Frasier. It was illustrated and took up an entire front side of a piece of lined paper (each letter took up three lines, and there was a space between lines--the whole thing was possibly five sentences long). I spelled the cat's name "Frasher" because that made sense at the time. I still have this piece of paper, tucked away somewhere.

But if this question is more like, "what's the first thing you ever wrote that belonged to the time period when you were serious about being a writer?" then I'd have to admit to having several horrible first drafts of the first book of what was (and still is) intended as a fantasy trilogy, set alternately on Earth and on an earthlike planet called Azuria. These date from the beginning of seventh grade. In fact, I still have the handwritten first copies of those, too (in pencil, from my seventh grade writing portfolio). It was the first time I tried to write something that required worldbuilding and complex characters and was intended (eventually) for publication.

Write poetry?
Most definitely. Not as much as I write prose, and probably not as well. My goal with writing poetry is different from my goal with writing prose. Poetry is always much more personal, less about telling a story and more about capturing a specific feeling or atmosphere. My poetry doesn't usually have conflict or characters; it's more about ideas.

Angsty poetry?
Oh yes. Actually, not until recently (because, until recently, I had very little to angst about). Wait, I take that back--somewhere there exists an angsty poem I wrote in eighth grade about the boy I had a crush on then, in which I lamented that he never noticed me as more than a friend.

Most fun character you ever wrote?
Ooh, this is hard. Because it's a very different from asking who my favorite characters I've written are. I can't think of characters that are particularly "fun" to write, although I like Rhinn from my planned trilogy of fantasy novels a lot. Also, Mr. Robinson, a government agent in a sci-fi short story I wrote, is lots of fun because he's fantastically spy-like and knows everything. Also also, Ferdinand (aka Andy) from "The Free Way," because he starts out being so isolated and proper and ends up ruining an expensive Armani suit by frolicking through the garden in the pouring rain.

This is different from "fun," but a character I'm always really thrilled to write is Aleska from a short story called "Fire and Ice," because her view on everything is so unique and she's at such a crossroads in her life, and I love being inside her head as her world shatters and she pulls together the strength to rebuild it (does that sound a little sadistic?). When I wrote her story, everything just seemed so inevitable about it, like the ending was pulling me forward from the moment I started.

Most annoying character you ever wrote?
Charles Macaulay from "Predators and Editors" (even though I don't like the story much at all). My main character's little sister (I think her name's Megan) in the planned fantasy trilogy. Not sure I can think of others specifically.

Best plot you ever wrote?
It's hard for me to like the plots of my novels-in-progress, because they're not done yet. Also, for instance, I really like the plot for The Printer's Daughter, but seeing as how it's a mix between "Beauty and the Beast" and Jane Eyre, I don't feel quite like it's my plot.

I like a lot of my short story plots, but specifically "Fire and Ice" and "The Free Way."

Coolest plot twist you ever wrote?
ZOMG the mysterious master of the manor house is actually a werewolf!

How often do you get writer's block?
Not sure I believe in writer's block, just writer's laziness. But I get that all the time.

How do you fix it?

Do you type or write by hand?
Both. Usually, I plan by hand and write early drafts by hand (occasionally), but most of my final stuff and all of my editing is done on computer.

Do you save everything you write?
Yes, to the extent where my mother has given up asking me to get rid of old notes scribbled on the back of whatever was at hand and just asks me to organize them.

Do you ever go back to an old idea long after you abandoned it?
Very big yes. I'm still planning to someday write the fantasy trilogy that I began to plan out in fifth grade. Granted, I guess I've never abandoned it, but it's been on sabbatical for a long time. I have worked on it occasionally, in bouts of seriousness, but never gotten more than 40,000 words into the first book of the trilogy, with really minimal planning for what happens next. I do have a whole lot of worldbuilding for this place, though, and that more than anything tells me that I'll be coming back. I know too much about how things work on Azuria to abandon it. Also, Holly and Jasen, my main characters, were the first characters I really invested with my whole heart. I can't leave their story untold.

What's your favorite thing that you've written?
Favorite completed thing? "Fire and Ice," no question. Favorite incomplete thing? I have no idea. Since I've been working most seriously with The Printer's Daughter recently, it's close to the top of the list, at least for specific portions which I absolutely adore.

What's everyone else's favorite thing that you've written?
Depends on who you mean by "everyone else." Most people who've read "Fire and Ice" like it, but my dad likes the stories I've written for workshops at Berkeley best, since they're realistic. I don't actually think that "Flour Girl" or "Dead White Women" are all that bad--I surprised myself in writing them and liking them, and I suppose that other people probably like them too.

Do you ever show people your work?
Yes. Frankly, I wish that I had more readers to help me work on things!

Who's your favorite constructive critic?
Depends on the day. Sometimes, it's my dad, because he's not afraid to be honest with me and he holds me to very high standards. But at the same time, sometimes his criticism boils down to "Why did you insert a werewolf into what would have otherwise been a perfectly good real-life story?" and on those days I have to stay away from him, because it hurts still to know that that's what he thinks. The only other person who regularly reads and critiques my work is Rebecca, and she is also very good at keeping me honest. She laughs me out of bad ideas and talks me through the good ones.

Did you ever write a novel?
I don't think I can answer "yes" to this, because while I have begun no fewer than four separate novels, I have yet to complete a single one. I don't think I get to answer "yes" until I have a complete first draft. But I suppose it's not lying to answer "almost."

Have you ever written fantasy, sci-fi, or horror?
Yes, much to my father's shame and my delight.

Ever written romance or teen angsty drama?
The first real original fiction romance that I've written in an prolonged form is The Printer's Daughter, though most of my stories end up having romantic pairings that will work themselves out in the future, even if not during the timeline of the story.

However, long before this I was writing romance fanfiction, because while I am not an insane shipper, I am a shipper nonetheless, and one of the major draws of fanfiction is the ability to construct an alternate or extended saga in which the romance works out the way it's obviously supposed to.

What's one genre you have never written, and probably never will?
Horror. I don't think I'm good enough to write a really smart thriller, and horror seems like a cheaper version of that genre (thriller but without the smarts) and I don't want to write that.

How many writing projects are you working on right now?
Three is probably a safe number. The Printer's Daughter is the big one, but there's also two ideas kicking around in my head and jostling for the spot as my 2008 NaNovel. One's about a normal highschooler who finds out that her best friend's a wizard, and the other is an anti-Twilight manifesto presenting itself as a cross between Rent and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Do you want to write for a living?

Have you ever written something for a magazine or newspaper?
Erm...not really.

Have you ever won an award for your writing?
Probably? Nothing big enough that I remember.

Ever written something in script or play format?
Yes, for Script Frenzy.

What is your favorite word?
Eloquent, juxtaposition, coalesce

Do you ever write based on yourself?
Yes. I think all of my characters are facets of myself, or mirror images of me--but somehow or other, they start with a part of me, whether it's one that I am in tune with or one that I'm trying to run away from.

Which of your characters most resembles you?
Well, Holly and Jasen were written as splinters of my personality, very deliberately--Holly comes very close to self-insertion. But after her, Noelle is very close.

Where do you get ideas for your characters?
People I know. People I am, or could be, or desperately don't want to be, or wish I was. Anyone I feel some strong emotion for, be it pity or desire or camaraderie or pain.

Do you ever write based on your dreams?

Do you prefer happy endings, sad endings, or cliff-hangers?
I'd rather read a happy ending, or at least a fulfilling one, as long as it fits with the tone of the work. If the happy ending still comes as a result of great sacrifice and pain, I'm okay with it. It's happy endings no one has to work for that piss me off. Same goes for tragic endings that just seem to happen for no particular reason or with no significance. I mostly write happy endings, or at least uplifting ones, but I really admire people who can write sad stories that I keep reading.

Have you ever written anything based on an artwork you've seen?
No, but I have written things based off of music I've listened to.

Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?
Nope. Even in the editing, I'm rather loose with grammar. I think it should be a reflection of the way a thing is being said or thought or intended, and we rarely think in proper grammar.

Ever write something entirely in chatspeak?

Does music help you write?
No, not really. It usually just distracts me. I only use wordless music when writing, and then only as a way of drowning out something even more distracting (such as people talking loudly).

Are people surprised and confused when they find out you write well?
I like how this question presupposes that people will find out that I write well. I don't think I've surprised anyone with my fiction yet, or if I have, they haven't told me about it. But I have had a string of teachers and professors rather gratifyingly surprised by the quality of my essays.

Quote something you've written.
I don't have access to very much on this computer, but here's a few lines from a freewrite that I am in love with. "He" is Jasen and "she" is Holly (from the long-planned fantasy trilogy):

After the end, they go on. He's still the best friend she's ever had, maybe the only one, and she wouldn't trade that for anything in the world. She knows it in her heart and in her soul. People around her talk about what they'd do for their friends, and she knows she'd do it all and more--she knows that she has done it. She's given her life for him, and though it hasn't been taken, that's only a matter of luck, a simple miracle.

Everyone says it's more than friendship. She brushes that aside as best she can. "What's more than friendship?" she asks the doubters. "What's purer, truer, longer?" Frienship is safe because everything else ends.

Her heart has two settings--"don't care" and "forever"--and it's obvious which one is his. But how she gives it to him is her choice, and so she decides anew every morning, every afternoon, and every night that they're forever friends, and nothing else. There is nothing else that they need.
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: (Default)
So I'm watching Angel right now, and so far it's amusing (though mostly for the eye candy -- I'd forgotten how good-looking David Boreanaz is). Today was my first day of job training at Nordstrom's, and everything seems to be going well. I'm looking forward to working there still, which I would consider a good thing. I haven't been doing too much else lately, other than trying to get in a short run every evening and reading books for review. Oh, and I got a hold of the amazing Jane Eyre movie that makes my life so much better.

I still don't have a work schedule but I want to see people! So you should call me. Yes. This is the lesson. :)

(And somewhere in all of this I have been writing -- not as much as I should but more than I have on previous occasions.)
readingredhead: (Stars)
Beauty and the Beast (which I'm seeing in less than a week!)
Into the Woods (which I'm seeing in less than a month!)
Jane Eyre (which I would KILL to get tickets for -- seriously!)
Dirty Dancing (which is coming to the Pantages in a year!)
The Last Five Years (which I need to see again!)

Other than that, not much is happening in my life. Except for, you know, "finals" and "studying" and "papers" and "stress." I have a strong desire to spend a night in the library because it's open 24 hours during finals week.

Seriously though. I think I really need to see Jane Eyre the Musical right now. Why is it that my favorite musicals are the really obscure ones?
readingredhead: (Stars)
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First off, take note: this is discounting characters I've written. Invariably, I can relate to them best (although Holly, Jasen, and Noelle top the list right now).

If we're going chronologically from when I encountered these characters, the first on the list is undoubtedly Hermione. I was (and am) so happy that she was a girl, and smart, and skillful and perfectly capable of running with the boys, and necessary to them. She makes being the only girl in a group of guys seem effortless. I relate to her obsessive scholasticism, but also to her vulnerability. I'm Hermione in her moments of triumph, but also in the moment when she's sitting in the girl's bathroom and crying because Ron insulted her.

Next -- specifically for one line of beautiful prose -- I'd say I'm like Mac from Julie E. Czerneda's Species Imperative series. That one line, which I'm sure you've heard me quote over and over (though never exactly) is the one about a heart with two settings: "don't care" and "forever." More and more, I think this describes me. And that's not a bad thing.

The character who's felt the most like me since Hermione is Aryl Sarc of Julie's Reap the Wild Wind, because Aryl's just on the edge of growing up, and she's scared and apprehensive and faced with things too big for her, and her entire picture of what her life was supposed to be is fractured in the space of a moment, but despite all of this she's brave and strong and spirited and doesn't give up, and though she doesn't know it yet -- neither do I, for that matter -- she's going to be rewarded for it.

And of course must come Elizabeth Bennet, who I really feel is my Austen double. Ask any girl which Austen woman she'd be and I'll bet you good money she answers Elizabeth, but I'll also bet you good money she's lying. Not to sound conceited or anything, but I'm not. All I'm waiting for is a stand-in Darcy to tell me about the beauty of my intelligent eyes and proclaim that he most ardently admires and loves me.

To round the list out, there's Jane Eyre, who really is quieter than me, but other than that is a person I can deeply sympathize with. We both have moments where we gasp for liberty; we both have moments when we do things we wish we didn't have to; and in the end, I know we both will grow and change as individuals, defining ourselves as separate from men (the book's not called Jane Rochester for a reason) and happy in our own right. What more is there to ask for?

(And this is only including literary characters I relate to. If we broaden our approach to encompass TV, movies, and musicals, I have to add Scully, Princess Leia, and Elphaba to the list.)
readingredhead: (Stars)
The past month has really allowed me to realize why National Novel Writing Month works for me.  It's not just the deadline: it's the community of people who are running at full speed toward that deadline alongside me.

I've learned this as I try to continue writing the novel I began in November, again with a deadline (because I thought that was all that I would need).  Because while I've been keeping up pretty well, or so I suppose, I'm still behind by around 7k, and that's never happened before.  I know it's not a lot and if I wrote every day I'd be able to make it up no problem, but that's the thing -- there are a lot more days where I'm not writing.  During November, if I wanted to make my goal, I knew that I'd have to write every day, as much as I can.  But there was also the aspect of competition -- I was racing against Rebecca, trying to make it there before she did, and that kept me going much faster than I needed to, so that when I did take breaks, it was because I was far enough ahead that I could afford to.

Now, I'm not bored with the story -- I'm realizing, if anything, that this is a story I may never be bored with -- but I'm realizing that such an activity really benefits from a writing community.  During November, Rebecca and I would write together almost every night, without fail.  We'd sit and type and the only sound would be the laptop keys.  Things are easier when you have someone to do them with you, I guess.

Um...not really much else to say.  I just had that realization and thought it merited some reflection.  I'm still writing the story, and the main characters have recently realized that perhaps they are in love with each other.  That being said, there's some heartbreaking that's going to happen very soon, after which the plot will certainly become more interesting.  My story has become an amalgam of Beauty and the Beast and Jane Eyre, and I'm not sure which of those plots to take inspiration from regarding the progression of the storyline...but to figure that out, I just need to write and do something about it.

Head pain.

Jan. 9th, 2008 04:15 pm
readingredhead: (Default)
Is it a bad thing that I don't want to write right now?  Sure, I had a 5k day yesterday, but I'm not gonna have a chance tomorrow for most of the day, so shouldn't I write now?

And I'm so tired.  I'd forgotten what it was like to wake up early.  I got up at 6:30AM because I went with Corinne to school today.  Granted, usually when I wake up that early I've gotten to sleep early enough that I still get a decent sleep.

Last night, I really couldn't fall asleep.  I had this weird pain in my calves, almost like the growing pain sensations you get when you're younger.  And I was always either too hot or too cold.  And to top it all off, my bed here is shorter than my bed in Berkeley, so I'm used to having a larger matress to stretch out on, whereas here my toes are a bit cramped.

So at maybe 10:15PM last night I decided to go to sleep.  I've been falling asleep listening to the audiobook of Jane Eyre, because the voices are soothing.  So I got in bed and turned it on and was listening, but then it got to a boring part and I wasn't feeling tired at all and so I stopped the tape to fall asleep on my own.  That really didn't work.  There was lots of tossing and turning involved -- how much, I don't know, since I make a point of never looking at my watch because if I do it's impossible for me to fall asleep.

So I couldn't fall asleep, and I had maybe sixty pages left in the book I'd been reading.  Maybe a little more than that, actually.  So I decided I'd read until I felt tired and then fall asleep.

Finished the book (and it was a good one) without being tired.  Bully for me.  So I tried the tactic of listening to the audiobook again.  Again, didn't quite go the way I'd planned.  I stopped after five minutes and decided I'd read the next book in the series.  By this time I really didn't think I was going to fall asleep any time soon, so who cares?  So I read fifty or so pages into the next book, up until a point where it got a little boring, and then when I tried to fall asleep it worked.

Today was good because I got to see and talk with a bunch of teachers I'd missed.  But I got a headache around lunch and it's still here.  Sucks unbelievably.

Yeah, with all of this I think it's okay if I don't write, but that just means I'll have to catch up later, and I hate playing catch-up.
readingredhead: (Pants)
Oh goodness. The number of things I have to say. So many things. Too many for me to adequately get down in the next five minutes, which is the amount of time I'm allowing myself before I make myself start in on the homework.

1. I am happy NaNoWriMo's over, but at the same time disappointed. I always tell myself that I won't stop writing when the month stops, and then I always do stop writing when the month stops. I've told myself that this time will be different, but so far I haven't written anything since November 29th, and that bothers me. I don't want to fall out of love with another story.

2. I turned in that history essay I was complaining about and I get it back graded this Monday, so we'll see how much I needed to complain.

3. I turn in my paper on Pride and Prejudice Friday, and it's pretty glorious. I showed it to my professor, because I wanted his approval of it -- it was the first paper I'd shown him, the first time he's read my writing. The first words out of his mouth were, "You write very nicely!" in an amused, happy tone. He read the first part of my paper and talked it over with me and it was a great experience. He was gratified that I had taken a concept he had brought up in lecture and used it as the framework of my argument, but in a completely different manner than he had discussed it in class. He enjoyed the way that the draft flowed -- he found it hard to believe I'd been through so much revision of it, since usually revision makes papers choppy and disjointed. There was one phrase that he really liked, and he actually laughed, and congratulated me for making him laugh! So that was good.

4. Sadly, today was my last English lecture of the semester. I know I'll miss Goldsmith terribly, but seeing as how my plan is to stalk him throughout the rest of my career here at Berkeley, I know we'll be seeing more of each other soon enough. Just not next semester...

5. The thumb and pinky on my left hand have been aching since last night. I know why -- they're the only keys I use for the spacebar and shift keys -- but I'm kinda worried about, it actually hurt enough last night to discourage me from typing. And it didn't get better overnight like I'd hoped. It's better now but this morning it was painful, too.

6. The history class that I really wanted to get into filled up before I could register for it, so I'm on the wait list. This wouldn't annoy me so much if it weren't for the fact that, had my IB transcript been received by the school, I could have had my registration two days ago, when there were still 13 seats left in the class. I think it's all Dr. Chris's fault. Curse that man.

7. I'm re-watching the West Wing with Rebecca and remembering how much I love it. Also I'm realizing that Josh Lyman is another fictional character crush for me, which is pathetic because he's a ridiculous guy and not nearly as good looking as Sam. And yet I like him much more.

8. I'm excited because this Friday night Rebecca and I are going into San Francisco and having dinner with her aunt and going to Borders. Yes, folks, this is my idea of a night out on the town. And I know it will be awesome. I love hanging out with Rebecca, no matter what we do together.

9. I think I need to re-read Jane Eyre, or at least the good parts, fairly soon. I also think I need Krucli to lecture me about it again because that was probably my favorite part of all of last year. (Yes, I am a geek. You knew this already.)

10. I had my tae kwon do final on Tuesday and I'm pretty positive I passed the class. Like, I had better have passed the class. I did well enough. I'm considering taking the promotional test, to get the next belt up. I'll probably do it; my only thing against it is that it's early this Saturday morning and that means I can't stay out too late on my awesome book-buying girls' night out in the city.

And I think that's it because I really have to get something done before I go off to a club meeting, otherwise I will feel like I am getting absolutely nothing done. Period. Which is a sucky feeling.
readingredhead: (Stars)

I’m rather annoyingly bored.


One would think that something like this would be nigh on impossible, considering that I’m currently sitting in London, listening to cars going by and what I think is thunder out of the open window.  Maybe bored isn’t quite the right word.  But I feel like this time around, I haven’t been nearly as productive as before.  The last time I spent a week in London, I used it to produce a short story, one of my favorite ones I’ve written.  I wanted to use this time on vacation in order to start writing again, but I just haven’t been able to stick to a single idea that I want to develop.  Because there really isn’t a single idea that I want to write on right now.  I keep jumping from plot to plot with little motivation to make any headway with any of them.


And for some of the time here I’ve been reading good books and doing good things (like seeing a Shakespeare play in front row seats for under $10), and when I’m doing those things I’m not that bored.  But come on—it’s Friday the 13th and nothing interesting has happened yet.


And I’m going to be awake all hours of the night because I took a nap earlier today because I had nothing better to do than sleep!


(And I realize I’m ridiculous because I’m complaining while I’m in London.  I hate myself even more for that.)


I think the problem is that I need deadlines, and real incentive to meet them, in order to really go places with my writing.  I also occasionally need prompts, though in some cases deadlines spur me to continue or finish things that I’ve already thought up for other purposes.  That’s why I like NaNoWriMo, and writing for Julie.  I’m given a specific amount of time in which to do things, and a schedule to keep to (in the case of NaNo), and that’s comforting for me.  Which is interesting, because I originally started doing NaNo to move outside of my comfort zone (because my other discomfort comes from writing anything that’s not polished the first time around).


Another problem is that I see editing as work.  I don’t see it as nearly as joyful as the writing process.  What I think I need to realize is that rewriting is just as important as writing.  I think I need to remove the word “editing” from my vocabulary and replace it with “rewriting”—because it emphasizes the fact that it’s the writing that’s important.


For instance, I’ve been trying to edit—ahem, I mean, rewriteKes Running, the most recent November Novel, for some time.  I keep getting bored, or skipping ahead to the good parts.  I really need to take the time to notice which parts I’m skipping—because those are the ones that ought to be deleted from the final draft!  More than that...I feel that Kes’s story really needs to be finalized before I go to college.  It’s really a product of my pre-college anxieties, and I think it would sound false if I finished it at a much later date.  Hell, it’s about a girl who runs away because she doesn’t get into the college she wants to go to!  I don’t think I can honestly write that as a college student and make it sincere.  I don’t know for how long I’ll be able to draw upon those reserves of dejection that the initial rejections made me feel.  I should tap them while I still can.


(And yes, I realize I’m manipulating my own emotions in order to write.  It’s really the way to make it sound the most real.  And it doesn’t hurt all that much any more...)


Another issue I have with writing that I really need to fix is my problem with plotting.  Simply said, I cannot plot out an entire story before I start writing it.  Once I start writing it, I get bored with it because I haven’t plotted it.  See the dilemma?  Really, I ought to just be harsher with myself about plotting things out, but it seems like every time I try that, something comes up that I just have to write, and the voice in the back of my head assures me that I’ll be able to fit it into my plot outline at a later date...  I honestly think I have about six unfinished plot outlines for Azuria (because before I ever had time to finish one outline, I re-thought the story and so that plot actually changed).


Then there’s the problem that, while I do write for fun (or, more accurately, while I do enjoy writing), I also want to be published, and it’s really hard to stop thinking about that when I’m writing.  So I get into arguments with myself about whether or not something is “publishable.”  Kes Running would certainly be publishable by DAW (my publisher of choice) by the time I finish with it.  But Azuria, which has been my pet project before I even knew the girl who named Kes, was started when I was much younger and therefore the characters are much younger.  In fact, it was intended as young adult fiction.  DAW doesn’t publish young adult fiction.  Now, it wouldn’t be hard for me to remake Azuria so that the characters were a bit older and things were a bit more, well, adult.  But part of me wonders if I should have to do this.  Part of me wonders how true I ought to stay to my initial vision of the story.


And then there are the random short stories I write that don’t seem to fit anywhere.  They’re not easy to classify.  The ones that I’ve written for Julie have managed to fit into their required categories, but the stuff I write for fun frequently defies categorization.  The closest term I’ve coined is speculative fiction, but even that doesn’t cover everything—one of my favorite stories is about a Parisian college student who pays tuition by working late nights in a bar!  And the political romance I want to write certainly doesn’t fit the mold most people place me in. 


(I hate that, by the way.  I hate how, when my dad first read the aforementioned story involving the Parisian college student, he was so surprised that I had written it and obviously enjoyed it much more than anything I’ve written since.  I hate how mom assumes that I only write and read sci-fi.  I hate how Corinne snubs me for not reading “literature.”  I think the load of it is bullshit.)


And (I notice I start a lot of my sentences with “and”) the one story I might possibly want to plot out thoroughly before I write is starting to seem not so publishable.  Really, on the surface it seems very stereotypical, in the way a bad romance novel is stereotypical.  It’s really easy for me to describe it, but the description I most frequently give makes me realize just how shitty it sounds.  And I know that when I write it, it’ll be ten times better, but I can’t help but thinking that somewhere along the line, an editor will read it and say, “What the crap?  It’s just Jane Eyre with werewolves!”


At which point the only thing I’d be able to do to correct the editor would be to mention that there’s only one werewolf, and there’s a bit of Pride and Prejudice, too, if you look for it.


See what I mean about it sounding shitty?


The story behind this story actually starts around sophomore year, wherein a few great things happened in quick succession: I read Cyrano de Bergerac, Austin got me into musical theater, and the movie of “The Phantom of the Opera” came out.  The result of this was an epiphany of sorts that Cyrano, Phantom, and the other stories like them were all just twisted versions of the old tale of Beauty and the Beast (there was also an epiphany relating to the fact that all of these stories were of French origin, but we’ll get back to that later).  Project Gutenberg being the godsend that it is, it was only a short while before I had the e-text of the original Beauty and the Beast in front of me and had read that, too.  I began to rather idolize that particular plot—the idea that a person could see past the surface and grow to love another for something beyond appearances, the idea that a relationship of sorts between two people could develop the better qualities in both parties.  Add to this that Belle was always my favorite Disney Princess (because she was the only brunette and because she liked books almost as much as me) and it’s understandable that I became rather obsessed.  What was my response to such an obsession?  A rather logical one, actually.  I decided I would attempt my own rewriting of the classic tale.  But how, I wondered, would I keep it interesting?


The answer came to me in a single word while sitting in MUN during junior year.  And the word was werewolves.


Now, I’m not the type who’s particularly fond of this specific portion of supernatural lore.  Not that I have anything against werewolves—in fact, one of my favorite fictional characters happens to be one—but I don’t really have anything for them, either.  Which was why, initially, the idea was an odd one.  Surely, werewolves were something that other people wrote about.  But the idea was just such a good one.  It allowed my “beast” character to actually be a beast, but only for a small portion of each month, so that his human side could also be explored.  Hell, he could even hide his lycanthropy from my “beauty” for a while, if he wanted.  Let people think he just had attitude problems.  And the fact that he could hide his condition meant that I could make the story seem rather realistic from the start.  When I first thought up this idea, I cackled to myself at the look on my readers’ faces when they realized what I’d done.


Now, I’m starting to wonder if this is the best of ideas, and I’m wondering this for the stupidest of reasons, and that stupidest of reasons is: how do you write a back cover synopsis for a story that essentially hinges upon something that doesn’t get revealed until halfway through?  It’s no fun if the readers know that he’s a werewolf from the start, but if there’s nothing special about him, who’s going to read it to begin with?


Stupid reason, I know.  But nonetheless, I continue to stumble over it.  (You know what I want for Christmas?  A way to talk myself out of stupid reasons for not writing.  Also, the X-Files movie on DVD, but that’s for another day.)


And it bugs me, because I actually like the idea for the story.  I actually have a plot for it (almost) because I’m tentatively stitching together one that follows the typical hero’s journey.  Once I’ve laid that down as a skeleton, I plan on fleshing it out with more of the details that can add pacing to things...and the strangest part is, for possibly the first time, I’m actually looking forward to this part.  I usually hate planning.  But part of me thinks that, this time around, the planning could be fun.  At the very least, it could be interesting.  One of the things I like about this story is that it’s giving me a chance to pay homage to some of my favorite stories.  Beauty and the Beast, obviously, but also Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice, from which I’ll be pulling ideas about the interactions between my two principal characters.  Stop for a second and picture someone who combines the moodiness and quick temper of Mr. Rochester with the pride and arrogance of Mr. Darcy.  Then, imagine him hiring as a servant someone with Jane’s quiet determination and Elizabeth’s curiosity.  Throw in the fact that everyone in the village is sure the man is cursed, so he’s had barely any human contact...and I think things start to get rather interesting.


Really, I just ought to write this.  I ought to stop worrying and write this.  Or at least, I ought to stop worrying and plan this.


But at least writing about it incessantly has helped me to think it out a bit more.  Usually when I complain about myself, I’m not smart enough to get it in writing.  Lucky for me, this time I managed to.  Hopefully it helps me out in the future.


Until then, I think I’m going to read, because although my fingers are warmed up by the typing, my lap is overheated by the laptop’s fan and I’m in a good book anyway, so there.

readingredhead: (Default)
I am a bum who does nothing on time and frequently does nothing with the time I'm given.

But I'm thinking of books, the important ones, and that's something at least.

So You Want to Be A Wizard
Deep Wizardry
High Wizardry
The Wizard's Dilemma
Wizard's Holiday
Wizards at War
Jane Eyre
Pride and Prejudice
Fahrenheit 451
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The White Dragon
All the Weyrs of Pern
Grave Peril
Proven Guilty
A Thousand Words for Stranger
To Trade the Stars
Beholder's Eye
The Wings of Merlin
The Golden Compass

Now there's an odd meditation. But I've got chemistry to study for.


readingredhead: (Default)

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