Steampunk Revisited

Going to keep this kind of short if I can avoid going over the top with it. A lot of things I have seen lately have made me want to bring back my Steampunk story idea. I don’t know if I ever bothered to come on here and talk about it the last time. There isn’t much to tell right now. I plan to spend some time world-building while writing other things and reading. But there is this pinterest board I made for ideas and inspiration.

http://pinterest.com/ctk86/steampunk-fantasy-story-planning/

And speaking of reading. Here is the list of books I plan to read over the next few weeks:

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
Soulless by Gail Carriger
Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal

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Third Time’s a Charm

It is with deep regret that I inform you that I’ve started reading, for the third time now, Fifty Shades of Grey. This time it seems like the task is within my grasp. But only because I’m determined to learn the lessons of the book. People will say that there is nothing of value in bad books, but bad books that sell well can teach you a thing or two. People like something for a reason–no matter how much you might disagree with that reason and if I can harness some of that without compromising my writing’s integrity, more power to me.

Last week I managed a rough draft of a short story based on the characters from Keep Austin Safe. I was impressed with myself as it was both a somewhat recognizable short story and it was in first person. I need to do some more of these little pieces with the voice of my main character so that I become accustomed to her and how she thinks. A lot of the ideas about what I want to do with the book are changing. I read The Well of Ascension last week, it’s the second part of the Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson. I’m starting to see what romantic plot lines can do to a story when they’re not the full focus and made only to distract.

While I am reading two books that might be technically romantically focused (Fifty Shades and the much better Shades of Milk and Honey) I doubt I will ever see the appeal of the romantic plot as a centerpiece.

Death of a Lap Top

I regret to inform you that as of this past Wednesday I have lost the Windows Install on my lap top due to issues within Windows. Not sure what happened but it seemed to be something caused by an episode of Pretty Little Liars I was trying to watch…now if that’s not slightly embarrassing here is something else on the subject. Due to my own forgetfulness of how a shortcut works I managed to delete a lot of writing stuff, fortunately most of it was crap I had online already and easily replaceable.

Everything else was transferred over pretty much without issue. So that’s where I’ve been the last few days. Just remember kids, backups are good.  If you want to know what this looks like here’s a peek.
 

Sharp Objects

I finally picked up Gillian Flynn’s novel Sharp Objects the other night. Marathon read half of the thing before bed and polished the rest of it off today. After reading Gone Girl some weeks back and finding out how good it was, I had to give what was said to be the better of the two books a try.9780307341556_p0_v1_s260x420 It was an invigorating, fast paced read and I could see how a lot of the subjects in the book could dredge up past problems for many people. The reviews I had seen on Goodreads and Amazon made it sound like I was in for the shocker of a life time. People were calling it the darkest thing ever.

I was ready. I geared up for that gritty, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo-esque darkness that seems to breed high octane nightmare fuel. What I got was damaged people, mostly damaged in normal ways. People seem to ignore this in real life, but this kind of thing happens all around us. Meth, sex for attention, self-harm, drug use to feel alive, hurting others to feel alive…sure it’s not always in the open and not all of it. But some of it is and I think that the news and other places cover it quite nicely.

These things come together in an explosive cocktail in Sharp Objects, but that doesn’t make the individual parts of the solution any less real and prominent.

We have a really bad habit of closing our eyes to the things going on around us and writing things off as just juicy gossip pieces and harmless. This book shows a town that let all that poison curdle and sour the town. I think people are more scared to read something slightly real and with people with real problems, though. This could pass for horror for some when it’s really just a mystery story. 

Giving Up on ASOFAI

I’ve been reevaluating some of the books I have failed to read over the past few years. There’s a rather impressive list of them out there. Many of them I had no problem with; I just started them at a bad point when a lot of other things were going on. I have been debating picking them back up and one of the titles that I know I will not being continuing is the popular A Song of Fire And Ice series.

I first learned of the books years ago and never looked into them. High fantasy and I were never really a match. I was told the books were amazing a year before the HBO show A Game of Thrones hit. I started reading it then, but never got past the prologue. Weeks before the show I started it again and this time I read along and seemed to stay just steps ahead of the show. I hit the second book running and invigorated for where all of this was going.

But as the time stretched on in the book and so little happened so slowly, I felt like I wasn’t making any kind of headway and like a lot of the book could have been consolidated out. I really liked a few of the characters. But no one ever really seemed like a main character. I stopped reading again but continued to watch the show.

Internet searches for clarification on some things have turned up spoilers all over the web. That’s to be expected when you tangle with something like this. But the issue I have is that the spoilers seem to point to characters dying unnecessarily or just to say there have been deaths. I will avoid naming any names here, but the books seem to have no one taking the lead in them every since the end of the first one. They drift along picking up new characters here and there. Fresh point of view narrators seem to spring up, too. But all of this seems to be another way to drag things out.

What could have probably been three books is slated to be seven now, with the sixth due out sometime soon. Chapters from the book have been read at signings around the country.

The books delay things far too long. The concept of White Walkers has, in five books, barely been explained when they were introduced through the prologue of the first book. It’s worth saying that I like the idea of the books. The work that Martin put into them is amazing with all of the histories and family trees and different Lords and Ladies…even going as far as to pen songs sung about old conquests. These things might be common place in High Fantasy, but they’re amazing to me because those aren’t the kinds of things I am used to reading.

A friend of mine said I really don’t like the books when I discussed it with her. Well, yes. That’s true. But I really wanted to like them. I tried to read them and I did enjoy the first one to some degree. It just seems to me like all of this is going towards an unsatisfying ending, stretched out to drag the series out longer. If I’m going to invest all of that time and watch characters I love get replaced over and over—the incentive for me to read it should be that it has a great ending.

I will be continuing to read the book.