Reading Enjoyment

I finally had a chance to read Lani Taylor’s Days of Blood & Starlight. I’ve had the book for a couple of months, but I wanted to re-read her first book in the trilogy, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, to refresh my memory of what had happened. Plus, I enjoyed the first book so much I wanted to savor the writing again. I’m glad I did that because I had forgotten some subtle clues from the first book that start to bear fruit in the second book. I had finished the first book last week and I was waiting for an opportunity to start the second one. I wanted more than five or ten minutes here or there, divided between bathroom breaks and meal times. I wanted a couple of hours where I could read a chunk. I didn’t want to nibble, I wanted to gorge myself on Lani’s beautiful writing. Mother Nature obliged to give me a snow day and I seized it with the joy of a fourth grader given a day off from school. The second book is haunting me. I know I’m going to be thinking about it for weeks. It’s a lot more grim than the first book. The writing doesn’t have as much of the lyrical beauty as the first book, but then the situation is darker. There are light moments, however, supplied by her friends, Zuzana and Mik. (I’m so glad they’re in book two.) But my heart ached for Karou. Several scenes brought me to tears. The end of the book, though, left me with hope. Hope that the chimaera and the Misbegotten...

Hidden Picture

These deer stopped by for breakfast this morning. At first glance, I only saw the obvious one. But as I watched I realized there was more than one. If you look carefully, there are actually three deer in the photo. Isn’t it amazing how perfectly they blend into the winter landscape? Normally there should be some snow on the ground at this time of year (global warming, anyone), but they would still blend perfectly with the bushes. It’s almost impossible to see the one to the left of the big bush. If you squint your eyes and focus mainly on the patches of darkness, you can just make out its body...

Prologues

When I was a kid I usually skipped reading the prologue and dove right into the first chapter. I thought prologues were a waste of time. As an adult I rarely read a prologue that works the way it should. A prologue should contain information that happened BEFORE the story starts (pro meaning before). And the information should be critical to understanding the story. But too often writers use the prologue to show part of a later scene that has a lot of action in it. When the writer does that he is saying my beginning is too weak to capture your interest so I’m showing you there is some good action coming up and you should stick with my story until you get to that part. The sad thing is they are usually right. Their beginning is weak. Often it’s because they started their story too soon. A prologue is not the way to fix it. You need to figure out where your story starts and make it compelling. Look for the point where inciting incident happens. What changes in your main character’s life? What happens to force them to take action? You may not find it until chapter three or even later. Look for it and start your story there. (If you can’t locate an inciting incidence then you’ve got more problems than just a weak beginning.) Use action and dialogue as a way to draw the reader into your first chatper. Make your main character dimensional right away to create reader empathy. We have to care about them if we’re going to be engaged in the...

Bingo

I think I need a night life when the highlight of my evening is playing State of the Union Bingo. You get a card containing squares marked with things like “Debt Ceiling” and “Gun Control.” Then you listen to the speech and whenever the President says one of these things you get to mark it off. None of us got Bingo but we all had about 10-12 squares marked off with key phrases. I have to say it made listening to the State of the Union fun. Overall I thought it was a good speech, but I’ve never jumped up and down in my seat before when the President said “Background Checks,” “Path to Citizenship,” and “Climate Change” in the past. Now if only he had said “Citizens United” I would have had...

Television

What is it with TV shows? Why do they start the show a minute or so before the hour so that if you set your DVR to record it, you miss the first part? Often that first minute or so has some vital information that it would be really helpful to know as it affects the rest of the episode. It would be like opening a book and finding the first three pages missing and you’re just supposed to figure out what you missed. It leaves you scrambling to understand what’s going on. I wish shows would go back to starting on the hour. And as long as I’m wishing, please get rid of the ads running along the bottom of the show. It’s really annoying. Whoever came up with the idea that it’s okay to use the bottom third (sometimes as much as half) of the screen area while the show is running to advertise upcoming shows should be exiled to a desert island with no...