Blogiversary! July 28, 2020

Light the fireworks and bring in the Hobbit feast! BookmarkedOne has officially reached its one year birthday!

I don’t quite know what to do with myself now.

It doesn’t really seem like it can have been a year already. But it is–365 days, 88 posts, and here we are.

So how am I going to celebrate? Well, not with ice cream it seems, since I don’t have any in the house (I know, I know. Gotta fix that). And one book review doesn’t really encapsulate the madcap trip this has been so–

Yup. A few random happy facts about books and my odd little blog. Off we go.

  • I started blogging last year not because of books, but because of my voice acting life. Weird, I know. But after building that site (which frankly, I’ve all but ignored since), I did what I’d wanted to do for a long time and made my very own book blog.
  • My favorite book genre was, is, and most likely forever and always will be fantasy. Do not ever speak against Master Tolkien in my presence if you’re trying to make friends. If you’re trying to make enemies, I’m sure we can come up with some better dialogue that does not end with you reading the entire Silmarillion after losing a miserable debate. Cheers.
  • Why did I name the blog “Bookmarkedone?” Yay! I finally get to tell this story! As usual, it has its roots with masters Tolkien and Lewis (deep bow). I always loved the idea of their writer’s club “Inklings” (and if anybody has a time machine, please take me there), and failing any brilliance of my own, I decided to imitate the greats. I got my first pair of glasses at fifteen or sixteen. Nearsighted, after smuggling too many books to be read with dim flashlights under the covers at night. And between a bookish friend happily welcoming me to the ranks of the bespectacled and memories of Inklings, I realized my books had left their own mark on me. Not long after, “bookmarkedone” appeared. Same name on Goodreads. Feel free to look me up; you might recognize the signature wizard hat. Somehow I enjoy the enigma of not using my real name. Which, by the way, you’ll be lucky to find anywhere on the blog.
  • I have never read Great Expectations or Beowulf. Excuse me as I cringe under the disapproving stare of my own guilt.
  • If you type “a” into my search bar at the moment, the first past searches that pop up are “apple wand” and “average faces.” When we writers talk about erasing our internet history, we’re serious. We search things that on paper look like the world’s weirdest grocery list. “Yes, I’ll have a bundle of leeks, two largest world’s corporations, bar slang, magical properties, and the pop tarts.” Typing “e,” in case you were wondering, suggests “eclipse July 2020” and “egg bagel.” No comment on why I might have leeks and pop tarts on the same grocery list.
  • I hate introductions.
  • I judge books by the covers. And I have an artistic friend who tells me that this makes a world of designers very happy.
  • As a general rule, I hate writing advice. I’m going to stop there before this post is hijacked by a long-winded rant.
  • I think James Riley is a brilliant lunatic and loved his Story Thieves series more than I am willing to admit. Friends have become familiar that he is referred to casually in conversation as “the madman.” Not to be confused with Patrick Rothfuss, who is “the bearded madman.”
  • I’ve considered blogging about my favorite movies as well as books but haven’t done so (is it a good idea? Is it? Is it horrible?). The list would naturally include The Princess Bride. Anyone who says differently is selling something.
  • I’m terrible at icebreakers. It’s not a good combination to have a very cagey personality and be endlessly philosophical about pointless questions nobody else cares about anyway.
  • I don’t have healthy relationships with books. They come out of it okay; I don’t.
  • I write on the walls.
  • I did not forget my blogiversary. And if I hit publish within the next twenty minutes, it actually still will be on the day.

I’m sure there are more random things I could add. But they might just have to wait for another day. I’ve put this off long enough already.

So a last hurrah, a thank-you to everyone who stumbled across my corner of the world and kindly decided to stay–

And if you’ll excuse me, I need to go in search of a congratulatory pudding.

Writing Update: July 24, 2020

Was up until after two in the morning writing again. Don’t try that at home.

But the good news is that I’m beginning to shake off the writing fog that the last rejection seemed to put me under. I successfully redrafted a story from beginning to end before I crashed for the night. It’s a first.

I have no idea if it’s any better than the original. But there are several thousand words on the page where there was nothing before. Including fairies, trolls, and Tempestarii.

This little adventure had a lot to do with one of my creative writing teachers. She told all her students when we revise to put the original story aside. Create it anew from what you remember. Explore new possibilities. Tell the story over again.

It reminded me of Cornelia Funke, calling herself a “storyteller” instead of a writer. Of oral traditions, of the way I still tell stories to people, letting them grow and change and flow depending on who is there, how much (and often how little) they want to listen. Always the same story, but with different things present. Other things untold.

I save every draft like a hoarding dragon, of course, in case one of them might be the one. But I’m no longer so particular about which one it is. About whether any one of them is “the true, perfect version” at all.

I’m just telling stories. Hoping they sing.

Reading Update: July 19, 2020/ The Harry Potter Project, Continued

I imagine I’m not the only one who has finished reading a book and slammed into a very solid emotional fog, in need of some quiet in a large fluffy chair with a favorite forest green mug full of steaming raspberry tea.

Regrettably, I am unaware of the creator of this image. Otherwise I would be congratulating them here on their obvious brilliance.

Alright, maybe I’m alone with the tea. But around the last four chapters of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, I needed something to pull me back (at least remotely) to the land of the living. So I could seem vaguely conscious and present as other people were talking to me.

Book Five complete. And the adventure continues.

Through all of it, I keep hearing my grandmother’s voice in my head. We’d been talking about the series long before I ever seriously considered reading them. It’s what we do, talk about books. She taught high school English for years, is quite undeniably brilliant and equally good at devouring books.

I remember a conversation in her white, cozy kitchen, how she’d admitted yes, the books did get dark for young readers in her opinion. But she’d also mentioned the beginning, about the “Boy who Lived.” I still remember her voice perfectly as she bent over cooking something, hair hiding her face–

“…it’s really quite wonderful.” As if it was something she smiled about, but didn’t quite want to admit.

Well, I’ve read the wonderful. I’ve charged into the dark. I’ve read the fate of a favorite side character. And brewed a second giant mug of tea.

It’s good writing, if you can get your readers to feel something, no matter what it is they feel. On that count, I’m sure J.K. Rowling can be considered a good writer.

I only wonder what it is, just now, that I feel.

Rejection Slip

Got another one tonight. They say after a while, you get used to them. It doesn’t bother you that something you spent months writing gets a simple, unexplained “No.” Everyone gets them. Famous writers have giant stacks of them.

But they are still nasty, slimy little things.

I’m used to them by now. But somehow, I can’t help letting it bother me. Just a little bit. I find myself second-guessing everything. Deriding all my old work. It gets to me more than I’d like to admit.

I think I put on the brave face too much, really. I say things don’t bother me until I really don’t feel them anymore. Until I honestly don’t care. I’d like to tell the truth this time. Just to see what it feels like.

So here it is.

I, the bookmarkedone blogger, have received a rejection.

Again.

And I’m tired of picking apart all the little details of what could possibly have gone wrong, of emulating all the writers that did well when the stories that really burn inside me, want to be written, are my own.

Nobody will ever stop me writing them. But that is tomorrow’s war.

Today is the rejection slip. So I’m not going to think about other stories for the future, I’m just going to admit I feel like a limp piece of rubbish that didn’t quite make it into the bin. Because it doesn’t matter how I feel. It doesn’t matter how good or bad my writing is or how many rejections I get, it doesn’t even matter if I get my sugar-spun fairy words in print.

I write.

I breathe, I live, I write.

Tomorrow. I write.

Writing Update: July 13, 2020

I kind of hate writing the last draft of a short story. By this point, I’ve gone over everything so many times I know exactly where everything falls, I’ve got a fussy little pile of characters who didn’t make the word count cut, gorgeous analogies that took up too much time and space, and at least two or three scenes that definitely happened at some indeterminate time but have no place in the completed whole.

This is the point that I begin referring to my stories as a pile of garbage or a gigantic mess.

I might be a little frazzled.

There are a couple of reasons for this.

  • I finished an emotionally jarring book at about 1:00 a.m. Not advisable, but it happens to us all.
  • I am writing soft sci-fi. I don’t even know why. I am a fantasy person to my core, and somehow the story wound up being both. There have been several moments in this process that I have become uncomfortably aware of my lack of knowledge of technology and that someone will almost certainly see it through all the flowery words.
  • I naturally have very low writing self-esteem. To the point that I have personally totally rejected the “impostor syndrome” idea. I don’t have impostor syndrome. I am an impostor. That’s my identity, and I’m cool with it. Probably no amount of study, success, or awards will convince me otherwise.
  • I’ve reached that awkward lurch between finishing a book and needing another one and finishing a short story and missing all the characters that have kept me awake at 2:00 a.m. at the same time. I’m a little scared now.

My one hope at this point is that I’m dead wrong. I’ve written stories I thought were disastrous and had them well received. I get so terribly fond of wandering around in the world I’ve created, of enjoyably arguing with my characters, that I sometimes lose track of whether it’s a really beautiful story or a really boring one.

My solution? Let the story go where it wants and take me along for the ride. Worry about whether it was good or not 3 months after I’ve submitted it. Otherwise I never write much of anything.

I’m not saying it’s a good solution. But if my characters tell me one thing over and over again, it’s that you don’t find dragons, get into trouble, and have adventures without making at least a few of your own mistakes.

So I’m off to make a few more of mine.

Wish me luck!

Reading Update: July 6, 2020

If someone had told me there were secret passages and enchanted maps at Hogwarts, I imagine I would have read Harry Potter a long time ago. Now, I’m only equally delighted at the prospect as my little self would have been, slowly and surely, against all my curmudgeonly better judgement, being lured into the spell this book series has seemed to cast over the entire world.

If this keeps up, I imagine I’ll be quite lost in its charms by the time the week is out.

There are some things that will always win me over when I am reading. Good characters, a thrilling sense of suspense, magical elements combined in a fantastic way I’ve never seen before, believable fights (preferably among snarky thieves), and hidden treasures. And Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban has the last on the list.

It doesn’t really matter to me if there is fabulous wealth to be found at the end of the adventure. The exciting part is knowing the hidden passage exists. Some mysterious, exciting and fabulous thing existing in the face of our ordinary lives. In one of the handful of houses I lived in, there was one I was rather fond of, ladder and all. Each time I moved, the first order of business was to explore the house for a hidden room or attic space. Every good house, in my opinion, should have its secrets.

Of course most of those searches were fruitless. Like the excavation in Bilbo Baggins’ pantry after he disappeared at his birthday party. No treasure to be found.

But looking for it…it’s rather like fireworks exploding unexpectedly in the night sky. Something so purely, innocently wonderful, I forget all the stress and bother and simply laugh, like I did when I was young enough to go crawling in all the tight spaces just to see if I would fit.

Perhaps I can’t ever “solemnly swear I am up to no good,” not in perfect honesty. It doesn’t make the prospect any less thrilling.

Perhaps, after all, I could learn.

The Harry Potter Project…continued (Reading Update: July 3, 2020)

After knitting my way through Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone/und der Stein der Weisen (and winding up with a pair of fabulous blue socks), I happened to notice the English audiobook was two chapters longer than the German one.

Couldn’t leave it unheard, now could I?

It turned out to be another hour of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Perhaps it’s too early to say yet, what with just having a small taste of it, currently emerging from a cocoon of writer’s block and still emotionally ragged from 60 episodes of the deeply beautiful Ever Night

But there was a rickety flying car. And right there, you have four wizards, flying in a car, windows down, middle of the night, where they shouldn’t be. Exhilarating, don’t you think? And the suspense building up to it was quite perfect. J.K. Rowling has written her share of careless cliches…but this was quite something different. The kind of scene I read leaning forward a little bit, knowing that every word fits, every wrong turn is perfectly right. Just the way it should be.

And with that rickety car flying through the night, I had that familiar, fluttery lightness in my chest whisper to me that I might be starting to fall in love.

I was a little concerned something like this might happen.

Again.

Please understand, I fall in love with books on a remarkably regular basis. And have my heart crushed almost as often–Cornelia Funke’s claim in Inkheart that books “love anyone who opens them” is rather a beautiful lie. Still, I’m not sure there is anything that makes me so utterly happy as a good story, one I can carry with me wherever I go, and one that carries me away with it, whether I like it or not.

Of course I’ll still remain the stiff, reserved, and cold bookworm girl you could casually drop into the back of a Victorian teatime painting without anyone noticing the difference. I refuse to blindly accept a book as delicious until firmly proven that under no circumstances can I live without it. Harry Potter’s world has not yet done that.

But it might. By a narrow chance. And I think that quiet thrill, the possibility, like distant lightning, is what excites me even more.

Now, you see, I must keep reading.

I made it as far as the Weasley Burrow. That too, I loved at once. The gnomes, the old married couple arguing like an old married couple, the way it felt like anyone who walked through the door would feel as if someone said “Welcome home.” I think I could quite happily curl up in a sunny window there, scribbling in a notebook and just enjoying all of them go about their lives.

And of course there is also my first encounter with Dobby the House Elf. Of course I knew of his existence, what with nerdy graphic T-shirts and Mirkwood crossover memes (think about it, wonderful people, even I found it funny when I had no frame of reference), and a three-foot tall realistic statue on top of a shelf at a small comic con so Dobby could stare down at everyone casually shopping and casually scare me out of my skin with those freakish eyes.

Encountering him in the book is quite another matter. He’s not freakish, he’s charming! Seriously now, if I had the luck to meet an Elf with such good manners and an obviously tragic backstory? Put down the baseball bat clutched in self defense and ask him to stay for tea. An ugly little Elf who clearly broke into my house for unknown motive–

You know, this is strikingly like Hagrid, the almost-kidnapper. And a good many other things in this “wizarding world.” Things that under ordinary circumstances would be horrifying, horrible ideas that would turn out ever so very badly.

But that’s the way of it, isn’t it? Magic isn’t supposed to exist at all. And since we’ve broken that rule, it seems a good many others, sensible, good, sturdy, safe rules, essential for survival in ordinary life, have to go out the window with it.

And that, perhaps, is the reason I might be falling just a little in love most of all.

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

So here we are! After all this time, I have finally read Harry Potter!

Or the start of it, anyway.

And what did I, the diehard Tolkien reader think? Well, honestly, that it’s a bit odd people keep comparing the two. Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter are completely different. Saying they’re alike is the same as saying half the fantasy books written in the last thirty years have threads of Tolkien in them (and they do. I’ve found them without looking. Septimus Heap, The Magic Thief, Shannara, should I continue?). But the tone, the characters, the subject matter, the audience–even the sports, which Tolkien as a rule was never very interested in, from what I hear–comparing Rowling to C.S. Lewis, who happily threw any mythology he liked into his books would be far more accurate if you’re fishing for similar British authors, I think.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. By a lot. So let’s do this properly!

Book: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone/Harry Potter und der Stein der Weisen by J.K. Rowling

Series: Harry Potter, no. 1

Genre: Middle-grade high fantasy/magic school

Content for the Sensitive Reader: some very mild language, frequent references to mischievous curses/magic spells, vocabulary of “witches” and “wizards” (naturally), mild violence, implied half-possessed character, somewhat ineffective authority figures, should be appropriate for most middle-grade readers.

Format: Audiobook, read by Stephen Fry (English) and Rufus Beck (Deutsch)

Completion Date: June 29 and June 30, respectively.

BookmarkedOne Rating: is at the end. I want you to read the whole thing. Feel free to be grumpy with me.

No Plot-Related Spoilers

You know I read this because for one thing, I had to know what was behind all the hype. Why did everyone love this series? What made it work? What was it? What magic combination could I use in my own writing? Of course I was reading for pleasure, but that critical editor was always buzzing awake in the back of my head, ready to snap upon anything that felt significant.

Did I find it?

I’m honestly not quite sure.

To start with the good:
  • Hagrid. I completely adored Hagrid. Definitely Favorite Side Character. There were just too many times I wanted to reach into the pages and give him a hug. I too, have always wanted a dragon since I was a kid. And of course, Stephen Fry’s Cockney accent lifted Hagrid out of the pages and sent him romping about a wet garden somewhere in England, just the way he should be.
  • The Weasley Twins: I laughed aloud at a few of their antics and honestly wish the little troublemakers had gotten more time to themselves in the book. I was quite ready to ditch the plot of the Philosopher’s Stone and have them crawling through all the nooks and crannies of Hogwarts itching to be explored. I cannot even begin to tell them apart.
  • The Concept: Technically, the book is almost something of urban fantasy, isn’t it? Everything happens in the real world, if you don’t count Hogwarts as its own kind of fairyland. And that, I think, is the best part of what makes this book sing and soar. I’m quite past the target audience age, and yet even I could feel my feet float off the floor a little bit at the thought of an entire magical world, lying just beneath what I can see, as real as my fingerprints, waiting, waiting to be discovered. Waiting for me. All of my other favorite fantasies have either been self-contained, with no potential for world-wandering travelers (i.e. Lord of the Rings, the Silmarillion, the Name of the Wind), or they require a strong type of magic in themselves before you can even get to the place where the magic lives and the story can begin (i.e. The Chronicles of Narnia, Inkheart). This was…deeply refreshing in a way I hadn’t realized I needed. No need to take the second star to the right flying through the sky, if Rowling is honest, all one needs to do is wander through London, look for abandoned places, forgotten shops, to find the magic in the world. I find I quite like the idea.
  • Quidditch. We’re dreadfully unimaginative when it comes to fantasy sports. Jousting, of course, for those who write the medieval side of things, hunting, martial arts–nothing at all like Quidditch. Perhaps it’s because Tolkien didn’t write sports for most of us to blindly imitate. But after reading about Quidditch, and my brief adventure playing the Rat Puck last year…one must wonder. I’d heard rumor about it, of course, but expected it to be something like broom hockey in the air. It’s refreshingly complicated, and I begin to think I’d quite like trying to play the game, capable of flying a broomstick or not.
  • The worldbuilding details: I’ve actually had a wand-seller invite me to his booth and say “Feel free to swish and flick,” so I was looking forward to the wands. And this was actually one detail that didn’t disappoint me. And so many other things are quite inventive–Quidditch, the photographs, the candies, the Sorting Hat–these are the things that makes the little writer in me happily squeal, because I can feel and touch and taste every single detail as if I’m in a world every bit as real as my own. A writer, in this instance, being only an exceptionally practiced reader.
  • Rufus Beck singing: This has very little to do with the writing of the book, but it stubbornly remains a favorite part. In the German audiobook version, Beck performs all the voices of a chorus of little Hogwarts students singing that first night. If you’ve ever seen the animated version of the Hobbit or that one scene from Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol where the thieves are singing (just me again?), you’ll have an idea of the style. He had no music anybody had given him, he was just throwing himself into it. And the result was perfect. I missed it very much in the English edition. Pity Stephen Fry sounded perhaps too proper to sing. I suppose we can forgive him this one flaw…
  • The Ending: This was the only point I began to see similarities to The Lord of the Rings. But frankly, protagonists awake after being unconscious as often as they sneeze in fantasy books. It was charming, either way, in the sort of almost-cliche way I know I should oppose but can’t stop myself from smiling at. The kind that whether you approve of all this “magic” and “witchcraft” in books or not, you have to admit, it feels golden and good.
To admit to the bad…
  • Cliches. I cannot understand how Rowling managed to write a world so richly built and delightful and yet leave so many other things unexplained. Yes! We get it! The brooms and cauldrons and bats and ghosts are for ambiance! But why? What’s the story? Must we really fall into the trap that “magic is hidden because otherwise everyone would want their problems solved?” And why on earth do they have ghosts? Ghosts which can apparently interact with physical objects? And who frankly disappear after the first night except for the most irritating of them all?
  • The bullies. I get so sick of the school bully stories sometimes I just shut down and don’t want to read them at all. Seriously now, why does everyone have to have a rival? Why do you automatically have someone to fight and compete with? This isn’t orchestra chair auditions. And even in those, everybody goes back to being friends the next day. I still don’t understand why the splitting into houses was needed in the first place. Wasn’t for a major or different style of teaching or anything practical I could find. It’s as if it was just for the purpose of a fight. And I was rather disappointed the story seemed to be “Gryffindor and Slytherin: None of the others really matter.”
  • The plot. Okay, the plot was…odd. I appreciated all the time we had to build up, get comfortable with the world, take the train ride, taste the candy, drop little hints as things went along–but I still don’t understand it. Perhaps it came from switching back and forth between the two language editions, but it all felt so very unnecessary. Perhaps I’m thinking too hard. But if three eleven-year-olds are your best bet of saving the world, I have a feeling something has gone terribly wrong. Even if you’ve only mistaken them for Hobbits.
  • The characters: From the beginning, I was worried. The Dursleys were all so stiff and flat! I felt as if I were reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory all over again, or perhaps some stereotype I wasn’t aware of for “Evil Uncle Family” that should really make me uncomfortable. To be fair, I think the effect was to be over-the-top and a little humorous. So it’s as much my fault for always taking things so seriously. Still, the main three didn’t appeal to me much either, until near the end. Stephen Fry made Hermione’s voice rather irritating at the start, which didn’t help. I think it’s just something I’ll have to get used to, and hope for more depth later.
  • The Surprise: Maybe I should have seen it coming. I didn’t. And so I feel a little cheated…but perhaps I shouldn’t be. Perhaps I should appreciate that I underestimated the plot and followed the cliche trail that every other writer would have handed me…perhaps this belongs in the other column after all…
  • The Ending: Must the heroes always get everything they want? I know, I know, I know. There are loose ends. They really don’t. They went through enough. The book is intended for children. But I’ve spent too much time looking through all these different angles as I write, reading so many books where the heroes not only get nothing they want, but barely survive in the attempt of doing so, and suffer miserably because life rarely brings you all the happy endings at the same time, wrapped up with a bright red bow…I’m being a bit petty now, I think. Personal taste gives me the license for that.

The end result?

Well, I’m not much better at German than when I started. I’ve picked up a few good words that should prove useful–you’d be surprised how often “owl” and “cloak” and “wizard” come up in everyday conversation. The elusive secret to Rowling’s success remains as foreign to me as one of Hogwarts’ spells.

Oh, did you mean how I liked the book?

BookmarkedOne Rating: 8/10

Am I going to read another one?

Yes. As soon as possible. That’s not really a question at this point. Technically I already am.

Why the eight then, instead of higher? Because I wanted it to be better. Because I wanted more. Because I wanted good characters and a delicious world. Because I wanted a magic system with everything as fascinating and beautiful as building a wand. Because Tolkien has ruined my tastes. Because I want to have my cake and eat it too.

That all being said, it was easily ten times better than The Hound of Rowan, which was a awkward carbon copy in almost every way.

But that, of course, is a story for another day.

As is Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Which I’ll be digging my grubby little dragon-claws into quite soon enough.

And the Harry Potter Project,it seems, is to be continued…

Fantasy Rant: “Hidden Magic”

If the world knew about people with magic, they would want them to solve all their problems. And therefore magic only can exist in a beautiful, hidden world.

I’ve heard this excuse so many times I can’t even remember which book I first read it in. Did I think it was a good reason then, before it became dull?

Maybe. Maybe not.

But this time, muddling my way through Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, I can’t quite let it slide.

It feels cheap. Not just because everyone says it–everyone says the sky is blue, and that’s still as true as it ever was. No, I dislike this because it feels like cheating.

First off, if you have magic, why wouldn’t you want to solve all the world’s problems? The idea that the hidden wizard world exists just because of this means that all wizards are selfish cowards.

Ouch. Clearly not my favorite option.

So perhaps before we paint all magically-inclined individuals in such dark colors, we should pursue other options.

Suppose you want to keep the “hidden world” theme in your story. Sure. Great. We don’t see fairies flitting around our heads every day, so it’s fine if you want to explain that.

So why the split? Is it that magic can’t exist with the normal world? Or is it that it just doesn’t want to? Or does it, and we simply don’t notice? Endless options, right there.

In Rudyard Kipling’s opinion (Puck of Pook’s Hill, if you were wondering), fairies literally couldn’t survive in the presence of people with “ill-will” toward each other, and a great gathering of them created plague and drought so humans couldn’t survive with them. Brilliant, yes? Mutual impossibility.

Then of course there are all the books that take the “solve your problems” solution to the next level. Namely, magically-inclined individuals and ordinary peoples fight each other to the death over their differences. This one is a personal favorite as it has the potential for so much tension. If wizards really can solve everyone’s problems, they’re destined to be taken advantage of eventually, even if they lash out to protect themselves. Prejudice, forbidden arts, war, slavery–conflict. Stories that can come spilling out of themselves, all just because you refused to accept the simple “solve all their problems” solution.

This one is closely related to a third solution, best example I can think of being The Marvelwood Magicians (Diane Zahler). If we don’t have magic now, wouldn’t we want to know how it works? Wouldn’t we do everything in our scientific power to understand it, and if we can’t, to root it out? It makes an increasingly awkward situation for those few gifted people in an ordinary world. Pretend to be ordinary, or risk complete disruption of lifestyle and danger to survival? Voila. Hidden magic world, right under your nose.

And these are just a few of the obvious solutions that come without thinking hard! Think how many more fabulous stories are out there, waiting just beyond the realm of cliche!

Do I have a point to all this?

Other than screaming incoherently into the void? Maybe.

Don’t just say what everyone else says. Figure out what’s true in your world. Make it hurt. Make it sing. Make it worth the journey.

Please.

That’s what good writing is.

Reading Update: June 28, 2020

Summer is destined for books. That’s just the natural way of life.

So what am I reading?

That’s…not so simply answered this time around. At the moment:

  • East O’ the Sun and West O’ the Moon. Norwegian folk tales. Because, y’know, I already read the complete Grimm’s fairytales, the Arabian Nights, and the Longest Lay of Sigurd in summers past. These aren’t bad. Plenty of stories I’ve read before with a few little changes here and there. Apparently they are fonder of Trolls in Norway…
  • The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood. For like the fifth time. But to be fair! I have never read this version before. And the disgustingly watered “Great Illustrated Classics” version that my childhood grubby paws clutched so eagerly really shouldn’t count. So technically the final count is time and a half for the Creswick version and first time around for Pyle. It’s a lovely, utterly battered edition from the 1940s that used to be a school library copy and is held together with red repair tape. Green cover. All the letters on it worn off. I love it already. How couldn’t I?
  • The Harry Potter Project. In other words, listening to the Audible versions of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone read by Stephen Fry in English…and Rufus Beck in German. Because I never read them as a child and I need to be able to hold my head up in the fantasy writer world without fear of dodging eggs and tomatoes and pointy bookmarks. How do I like it? I won’t say yet, not until I’ve finished. But I will say I enjoyed Rufus Beck singing for Harry’s first night at Hogwarts…it’s something you don’t get in the English version, and I confess to the little musician in me being quite charmed.
  • Hamlet. Figured it was time. This will be my fourth adventure into the world of Shakespeare. Macbeth was good, The Merchant of Venice my favorite, A Midsummer Night’s Dream not at all to my taste. I hope Hamlet will be another good one.

What else have I been doing that makes my blogging so much more irregular these days?

Tottering through the Writers of the Future writing workshop and endlessly avoiding eye contact with my inbox as I wait for results from the last quarter contest. Experimenting with a half-size German chocolate cake recipe (with deliciously way too much chocolate glaze). Quietly sobbing my way through the last dozen episodes of Ever Night or so.

Ever Night was gorgeous. Characters, acting, out-of-this world magic system (which frankly, could be a total cliche and I don’t know because I haven’t seen or read much Chinese fantasy–magnificent either way), everything was good. I felt guilty for watching as many episodes in a row as I did–sixty episodes all told for a single season. But then I began to wonder. I’d never have felt guilty for spending that much time over a book as beautiful as Ever Night. So what was wrong about having the story in a different way?

We bookworms, I think, are often happy little snobs. We argue over the merit of format (Hardcover? Paperback? Ebook? Audio?) and how it influences our reaction, down to the dotting of the smallest i. Watching TV series and movies, well, that’s not in our league.

But why shouldn’t it be? Usually the snobbery is all in fun, but I wonder. Why do we argue about it at all? Book, audiobook, film–they’re all different forms of the same art. Telling stories. And if one form tells a story beautifully, are we really going to let where it came from stop us from loving it, heart and soul?

On the other hand, I did discover Ever Night is based on a book. So I am now tasked with either finding a copy in English or learning Chinese.

Both seem about equally plausible at this point. It’s a very good story. And it isn’t making itself easy to find.

But very little can stand in my way when there is a book waiting to be read.

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