readingredhead: (Reading)
Well, I'm back for my final semester at Berkeley (and still freaking out a little about that fact). Within a little more than three months, I'll have written my 40-60 pg. honors thesis, completed my last classes as an undergraduate, and possibly put an end to my career as a student at Berkeley (there's a small chance I could come back for grad school, but that's rather doubtful). Or, you know, I could have a mental breakdown and fail out of everything. But frankly, if that was going to happen to me, it would have happened last semester, and it didn't, so I think I'm doing fairly well so far. The plan is to do awesome things this semester, and hopefully check some things off of my Bay Area Bucket List, which I have now posted as a separate entry on this journal so I can keep track of what I've done.

I haven't been doing much since coming back, aside from re-reading Emma (which does not actually improve very much after seven-and-a-half years' absence, unfortunately), hanging out with friends, and finally updating my personal blog and the book blog I share with some friends. I seem to have aliens on the mind at the moment; in the past few days I've written one post about the book containing my favorite alien narrator (and possibly favorite alien character) of all time and another about why the 456 from Torchwood: Children of Earth are so damn terrifying. Now I just need to read some new science fiction and I'll be set.

My plans for the evening involve reading some of Castle Waiting (which [livejournal.com profile] cosmic_llin recommended and which my local public library happens to own), eating dinner and watching more of the Sarah Jane Adventures, and then settling down to spend a few hours attempting to read The Rules of Art by French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu before returning to SJA before bedtime. Frankly, this sounds like a good evening.

EDIT: So, I haven't had any SJA or Bourdieu fun yet, but I did just finish Castle Waiting and am sad there is not more of it!
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: (Stranger)
Oh man, I feel like someone just massacred my fictional children. Or like I just came home, only no one in my family or my hometown recognized me. THAT is how sledgehammer-y the ending of Julie E. Czerneda's Stratification trilogy is. I'm sitting here dazed and confused and with an odd aching emptiness that's all the more strange for the way that it's not supposed to be there. She's not supposed to leave me empty -- she's supposed to fill me. It's what I depend upon her fiction for. But this time, it didn't work. Maybe it wasn't supposed to work? I don't know. But I've never left one of her books feeling this low before.

*rants*

*exhales deep sigh*

*shakes self out of it*

Hm, probably I'll go on a run. It seems like the only viable solution.
readingredhead: (Stars)
Oh goodness...I'm finally home, after an eight-hour delay at Heathrow Airport. I've got a lot of unpacking and general kicking-back-into-gear to do, after which I will do things like post photos and actually journal about the trip (and about those eight hours, four of which we spent sitting on the runway in a plane!). As it is, I'm glad to be home, but as usual, it still feels a little weird to be here.

On the bright side, sometime today I will steal a car, drive to Borders, and FINALLY get Julie E. Czerneda's newest book, and some more as well.
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The point of reading and writing, for me, is finding myself in people and places that I wouldn't expect. Both the characters I read and the characters I write generally gain a great deal of their likability from the extent to which I can identify with them. There's really a long list in this question, but I'll try to narrow it down to the top five or so.

First, Hermione Granger, for always being the girl on a team full of guys and making that work to her advantage, for being smart and feeling like that was important, and for having a heart. It was always her intelligence and practicality that I identified with, but also the fact that she's sensitive and kind, always giving the boys lessons in how to be better people. And I like to think I could be like that.

Next, Elizabeth Bennet, for her spunk and spark and maybe for her too-quick judgments and for the fact that Mr. Darcy's just as attracted to her brains as he is to her looks (thank you, Professor Goldsmith, for an analysis of "intelligent eyes"). If I were any of Austen's heroines, it'd be her. She's the only one with enough energy to match me.

Finally, and most powerfully, the first time I read Reap the Wild Wind, Aryl Sarc stood out to me as a character that was so unlike me and yet so devastatingly similar. At the time I read that novel, Aryl and I were both on the edge of something huge and difficult to understand. We were both about to be thrown out of the worlds that we knew and into something more, and we weren't sure if we were ready for it, but we didn't have a choice and that didn't matter anyway, because we held our ground and made a life out of what we had, and it turned out to be beautiful. I also definitely identify with Aryl's craving curiosity for the unknown, even if sometimes it's scary.

Also: how is this question different from this question? (I like how I realized this after typing out these answers...might as well post this anyway! And then back to work!)
readingredhead: (Stranger)
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Heart-kin. Noun. Coined by Julie E. Czerneda, common term among Om'ray/M'hiray (also known as "the Clan"; these aliens appear in her Trade Pact Universe trilogy and in the ongoing prequel to that, the Stratification trilogy-in-progress). To be heart-kin with someone is to confer a bond as close as kinship without the physical/genetic ties of blood relationship. In Om'ray/M'hiray culture, this bond is considered to be on a level with those bonds of blood, in some cases surpassing them. I often use the term "heart-kin" when discussing the people to whom I feel most intimately and intricately bound, those with whom I share a deep and special understanding, so that our minds in meeting might discern each other. One can be kin and still be heart-kin, but not all relatives are automatically given the status of heart-kin; it must be earned.

In connection to this slightly:

Mountain troll theory of friendship. Inspired by J. K. Rowling, and the scene in Sorcerer's Stone in which Harry and Ron save Hermione from a mountain troll. The chapter ends with the sentence, "There are some things you can't share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them." This theory explains those friendships that spring up more quickly than expected, generally between people who are thrown together under highly stressful circumstances and must get to know each other quickly in order to depend upon each other for mental/physical/moral support and continued survival.
readingredhead: (Talk)
Sometimes I think that if I could be any one person in the world, aside from myself, I would be Julie E. Czerneda. And then other times, I think that even if I could be anyone, I'd be myself, because then I could continue to read and love Julie's work in the way that I do now, and she probably doesn't enjoy what she does the same way that I enjoy it.

So much of what I know about the emotional dynamics of the universe has been elucidated through literature. That's not to say that my experiences in the real world are so limited or unimportant as to result in my reliance upon the fictional; rather, it is to say that fiction provides an ideal training ground -- a practice universe, if you will -- to allow you to experience things outside of yourself as being nonetheless internal. Literature's power is generated by its ability to make the strange, the outside, the other, into a part of the self.

I could go on for ages about the purpose of literature being a reversal of the processes of human alienation, but right now I think I'll save that for the thesis I plan on writing, incorporating most of Julie's works and discussing her viewpoint on what it is that makes humans human, or special, or necessary in a future of alien species galore (or even in a not-so-distant future, where the sphere of explorable space is very large, and very empty).

At the end of the day, I feel simple amazement and wonder at the universe that has such writers, and such writing, in it.
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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: (Light)
"Writers are a curious species; the writing life even more so. We tell ourselves stories, not the way regular people do, but with word-by-word effort. Dreams become insufficient. We're compelled to lock them down, polish them, hoard them on hard drives and paper. We dare to compare them to the work of others. Worst of all, after months and years of labor, we hand our most treasured fantasies to strangers. And wait."

~Julie E. Czerneda, from her introduction to the 10th Anniversary Edition of her first novel, A Thousand Words for Stranger

I cannot agree more with this statement. My novel, for anyone interested, just underwent a 3,000-word digression about the creation of the world and the way that magic works, and the theological explanation of why it works this way (there are gods and goddesses involved--specifically, a god and a goddess, though I think they probably think of themselves as divinities instead of as gods). This was preceded by a 3,000-word theoretical discussion about the nature of magic, a "scientific" approach to its origin and a discussion of experiments to determine the difference in the texture of magic depending upon the part of the world you're in. I'm actually on track writing-wise.

The most annoying part of all this is that I've lost my voice, just when I have moderately interesting things to talk about.
readingredhead: (Default)
Found this while researching for Monday's decal course...from http://www.sff.net/people/Saswann/text/wb.htm

Aliens aren't human beings
Star Trek to the contrary, a good SF alien is not a neurotic human in makeup. An alien should be different, and different in a way that is consistent with its planetary environment, its evolutionary history, the culture it comes from, and its own personality. Each of those developmental factors feeds into the next in a descending hierarchy that results in the being's behavior, and each should be consistent to the prior. Even subtle differences in the evolutionary history (assuming all things being equal) will lead to wholesale changes in the culture an intelligent species develops. It is probable that we cannot truly write from an alien point of view, but we can develop our alternate people in a logical consistent manner. If you want to write an alien that is different in some specific manner from us, then work to find an evolutionary reason for its difference (why it would aid the species' survival, or the survival of its evolutionary progenitors) and create a homeworld where such developments make sense.
readingredhead: (Default)
Two strangers cross this dark, dark night
and somehow, without knowing why,
we cannot part and say goodbye
as other smarter strangers might.

Instead, we linger longingly
and circle 'round the empty street
and wonder at how we did meet.
He has no aim of wronging me,

nor have I aim of harming him.
We do not speak, as if by oath
we have been bound to keep our troth
and so we stay in streetlights dim.

Perhaps, had we two passed by day
our meet would not have been sustained,
our full contact indeed contained
in moments as we passed our way.

What chance of fate, what errant thought
has caused this passage in the night?
Shall we two stay here till the light
to wonder -- what have we forgot?

Two strangers on a darkened street
become a new thing in the light,
and we, who bonded in the night,
now face the day as comrades sweet.

(written during my biblical poetry class, while thinking of A Thousand Words for Stranger and the way in which the main characters find each other--a meditation on what it means to be a stranger)
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)
So...getting back in the swing of things here. Everyone just moved in today (as in all of the other people at Berkeley) and classes start Wednesday. That is not enough time for me to do all of the things that I need to do between now and then, of course. It's not a long list but it's rather meaty. Ugh.

Met the other people on my floor today, and as far as I can tell, almost every last one of them is a stereotypical jock. I'm not trying to make assumptions or be critical, but when all of the questions to the RA were about how lax she's going to be about drinking in the dorms, and when they all listed "partying" as one of their major hobbies, I stopped liking them. Well, not all. The student health worker who lives on our floor is a total sweetheart, and there are one or two other girls and guys who I don't know yet but who seem decent at least. The thing that annoys me is that all of the jocks already know each other, and for the most part are living with people they already know, and as a result the floor is going to be cliquey.

In other news, I'm having problems with my laptop touchpad. Yes, that would be the touchpad that I was having problems with before the laptop got sent in to be totally reconditioned. The touchpad that I told them to replace, but that they didn't. I'm hoping I can make things work by just reinstalling the driver, but I've had too many touchpad issues in the past, of the kind that make it impossible for me to use the computer without attaching a mouse, which I don't own.

In other other news, I still don't have pictures of my room. I really have been meaning to take some and get them up, I'm just lazy and it'll probably take me a while. Suffice it to say that it's big enough for all of you to come and visit!

Later I will post an entry that contains pictures as well as an awesome personality test thing that we did as part of my tutor training here that is rather accurate and very interesting, I think. But right now, I'm off to reinstall the driver that will (fingers crossed) solve Fitz's problems.

Oh, I lied: Riders of the Storm (Julie E. Czerneda's newest book) comes out September 2nd!!! I'm so excited I'm using multiple exclamation points, an offense that generally apalls the writer in me!!!
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Favorites, in no particular order, include:
Hermione Granger
Remus Lupin
Nita Callahan
Kit Rodriguez
Dairine Callahan
Roshaun
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: (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: (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: (Default)
Questions from the Clarion application.  The only things other than the stories that they plan to read.  (Just so we're clear, these are rough, freewriting answers.)

Describe highest education (school, dates, degree)
-graduated Mission Viejo High School in June 2007
-currently enrolled at the University of California at Berkeley (August 2007-present)

Describe your writing habits. (What exactly do they mean by this?  I'm honestly not sure.)
When things like school and work don't interfere, I write every day.  Not always on the same project, but I make sure I've written something.  When I fall in love with a project, I pursue it intensely.  I've done National Novel Writing Month three times and it's taught me how to write every day, unfailingly, and then go back to edit later.  I write best when I've got a deadline in sight and a group of supportive friends and fellow writers to cheer me on.  This doesn't mean that I need deadlines to write, or to think about writing, but there's something about the figure of a deadline--especially one shared by other friends and writers--that entices my ideas to coalesce in ways I never would have dreamed possible.  I think a lot before beginning a story.  I do research about any aspect that I don't have personal knowledge about.  I really like to get to know my characters, and they're usually where a story starts for me.  With short fiction I'm pretty good at planning things, but I also don't like to stick to tightly to plots when something better shows up.  I usually write with a laptop but I carry a journal and a pen with me in every purse I own and you'll never find me without the ability to write.  When I'm blocked on my laptop, I banish myself to someplace with nothing but pen and paper and just write.

What do you hope to accomplish through Clarion?
I hope to strengthen my prose style while working specifically within the genres--fantasy and science fiction--that I enjoy the most.  College creative writing courses, from my limited experience, tend to focus on "literary fiction," disdaining other forms, and as such I have not had many opportunities to hone my craft specific to these genres.  I also hope to find a supportive community of writers interested in similar topics who will be able to give better criticism of my works than those who are not acquainted with sci-fi and fantasy.  (Also, let's be honest, I hope to learn how to get something published--how to write something so damn good that a publisher can't say no--except I'm almost positive that such a thing can't be taught.)  As far as craft goes, I'd specifcally like to work on telling more compact stories; even my short stories tend to be long and rambling, and that's something I'd like to work on.

List professional writers or Clarion graduates you know.
(I actually like this list very much.  I'm rather proud of it.  I just want to know what they plan to do with it!)
Julie E. Czerneda
Vikram Chandra
Melanie Abrams
Matt Miller

*sigh* I'm not even sure how I want to answer these, or how much space I get to answer them in!  Time will tell, I suppose...I know things will work out, and I shouldn't stress over this crap nearly as much as I ought to stress about my stories.  Because if I wow them with a story, it won't matter if my writing habits involve setting fire to the bedsheets, they'll want me.  And I oh so very much want them to want me.
readingredhead: (Default)
I submitted my short story, "Potential Energy," to the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction about a week ago. Imagine my surprise when I found a response from them in my mailbox this afternoon: 

Dear Ms. Cunard:

Thank you for submitting "Potential Energy," but I'm going to pass on it.  This tale didn't grab my interest, I'm afraid.  Good luck to you with this one, and thanks again for sending it our way.

Sincerely,

John Joseph Adams
Assistant Editor

The only thing that bugs me about this is that the quick response time, combined with the wording of the response, suggests to me that my story might not even have been read -- that Mr. Adams might have glanced at the cover letter and made his judgment based upon its merits rather than the merits of the individual story.  

But although it's frustrating to think this might have been the case, I'm not particularly upset.  I mean, yeah, rejection stings and all that, but I'm beginning to realize that perhaps I've found the only kind of rejection in life that doesn't set me back or put me down.  I used to think that the only reason I put up with Julie's rejections was because of the kind and thoughtful way she worded them.  Now I know that can't have been it, because I sit here feeling no less determined to continue submitting my stories to different markets, despite the fact that Mr. Adams' rejection was not in any way couched in pleasant language or complements for the story itself.  I'm starting to realize that, maybe, I don't mind having stories rejected.

Granted, it's probably a little early in the game to talk about this.  After all, this is only rejection number three.  I'm sure there will be many more where it came from before this story ever sees print.  But still -- college rejections hurt like hell.  Story rejections don't hurt at all.  In the long run, how I write matters more to me than where I go to college.  So why is it that it's okay for me to be rejected by the one group of people that I feel the greatest need to join?

Probably, I shouldn't ask questions.  I should just be happy with my lot -- I certainly don't want these types of rejections to unhinge me.  I just think that it's strange that they don't.  Maybe college rejections hurt more because they're more final?  I know that my short stories that might not get published by one person might still have a chance in another market, but once a college says no, it means no.  Maybe that's why it's different.  Maybe also because kids my age get into Stanford, but kids my age don't get published in the New Yorker.  Maybe.

I guess I'll just wait and find out.
readingredhead: (Default)
1. Beauty by Robin McKinley
2. The Coelura by Anne McCaffrey
3. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
4. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
5. An Assembly Such As This by Pamela Aidan
6. Duty and Desire by Pamela Aidan
7. These Three Remain by Pamela Aidan
8. A Wizard Alone by Diane Duane
9. Hamlet by William Shakespeare
10. Cameo Diner by Matt Miller
11. A Wizard Abroad by Diane Duane
12. Talking in the Dark by Billy Merrill
13. A Streetcar Named Desire by Tenessee Williams
14. A Thousand Words for Stranger by Julie E. Czerneda
15. Blood Wedding by Frederico Garcia Lorca
16. Man and Superman by George Bernard Shaw
17. Ties of Power by Julie E. Czerneda
18. The Road to Mecca by Athol Fugard
19. To Trade the Stars by Julie E. Czerneda
20. The Unhandsome Prince by John Moore
21. A Nameless Witch by A. Lee Martinez
22. The Ship Who Searched by Anne McCaffrey
23. Seducing the Demon: Writing for My Life by Erica Jong
24. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
25. A Fate Worse than Dragons by John Moore
26. Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
27. The Mirror of Her Dreams by Stephen R. Donaldson
28. The Dragons of the Cuyahoga by S. Andrew Swann
29. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J. K. Rowling
30. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling
31. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling
32. Artemis Fowl and the Opal Deception by Eoin Colfer
33. Artemis Fowl and the Lost Colony by Eoin Colfer
34. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling
35. Quidditch Through the Ages by J. K. Rowling
36. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J. K. Rowling
37. The Wizard's Dilemma by Diane Duane
38. Urban Shaman by C. E. Murphy
39. The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler
40. San Francisco Poems by Lawrence Ferlenghetti
41. Cal Literary Arts Magazine Volume XI.I by Various Authors
42. Reap the Wild Wind by Julie E. Czerneda
43. A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
44. Survival by Julie E. Czerneda
45. Migration by Julie E. Czerneda
46. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin
47. Regeneration by Julie E. Czerneda
48. Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
49. Wieland by Charles Brockden Brown
50. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

Almost there!  I don't know why I was ever worried...  A few stats, since I'm procrastinating.

Top 3 most-read authors:
Julie E. Czerneda - 7 books
J. K. Rowling - 6 books
Diane Duane - 3 books
Pamela Aidan - 3 books

Number of books read for school: 8

Number of books read for fun: 42

Number of new reads: 29

Number of re-reads: 21

And now I really need to get to that short story that I'm supposed to have a first draft of by the end of today, otherwise I'll never get anything done.

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