Friday, April 11, 2014

Art and Literature

I've written about the chasm that seems to divide commercial and literary fiction before.* It became especially relevant early last semester as I began to be more confident about telling people that I was a writer and that I write YA Fantasy. I had several rather unpleasant encounters with professors and other students where they seemed to think less of me once they learned the silly thing I did with my free time and hoped to do with the rest of my life.

While I know a lot of you will want to say something along the lines of "you shouldn't care what they think, just follow your writing heart,"** I do care what they think, and I really can't help myself. More accurately, I really just care about what a few of my professor think. Most of the rest of them I can shrug off. And all but a choice few of the students have pretty much lost their ability to make an impact.

But even when their disapproval has zero impact on my life plan, I still notice them disapproving of me. I also still manage to get into snits with people it would definitely be wiser not to argue with over this issue,*** and people who think reading shouldn't be 'fun' still make me worry about the state of the world.

So, of course I was interested when one of my art professors started talking about a similar theoretical division that currently exists in the art world.

Apparently, Post-Modernism that focuses solely on the artist's feelings about The Lack of Meaning in the World is currently in vogue and those who would like to focus on drawing as the foundation of art and follow in the footsteps of the Italian masters are left out in the cold. This is how we get big canvases of blankness with a single blob of chewed bubble gum stuck in the middle hung in art museums. 

As it is hard for writers of fantasy and commercial fiction of all sorts to get into writing workshops and MFA programs, so also do the Realists struggle.

I find this an intriguing parallel.

Completely unrelatedly, I found these on Etsy. Aren't they fab?

A picture of a pair of tights with a map of Middle Earth printed on them.
Don't you wish you had Middle Earth on your pants?


* If you haven't heard about the foolish thing our school library has done with the YA Fiction, then you need to click here.

** And I thank you for that. No doubt it's true. Perhaps I'll reach that level of confidence in myself and my craft at some blessed future date.

*** I usually walk away from these congratulating myself on not smacking my opponent for his or her pretentiousness.
Blogger Tricks

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

What's Up Wednesday

* Tyler-Rose momentarily commandeers the ship to let everyone know that this is our 300th blog post!!!! YAAAAY! Uh-hem. Carry on. *

Hosted by the lovely sisters Jaime Morrow and Erin L. Funk, What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme/blog hop in which writer-bloggers take a brief post to share what's going on in their lives, writing-related and otherwise.  Check it out here or here if you want the details! 

The What's Up Wednesday logo is set before a background of a flowering tree.


Still working through A Game of Thrones.  Still loving it. 

Also lots of lyric poetry for my Renaissance Lit class.  Here's one of my favorites--a song by Shakespeare that my professor made us memorize.  (By the way, Tyler-Rose, I misspoke yesterday--it does come from a play.) 


Almost done re-drafting the first 100 pages of THE MADMAN'S CROWN!  It looks like I'll be tackling it in four chunks, so nearing the 1/4 mark is good news!! 


The fact that the snow has FINALLY melted.  For a while there, I forgot what it was like to go outside without a parka. 


We're nearing the end of the semester, so mostly I've got the usual insane busy-ness with finishing papers and projects and wrapping up the year!  (Hence the general lack of blog in the past few weeks...) 

While doing some baking to relieve end-of-semester stress, I got one of THESE to make cupcakes with.  It worked amazingly well--super-efficient and fun to use!  And the result was delicious: 

This is a red velvet cupcake in the sun.

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Sad Songs

Some friends exchange gifts of this sort or that.  Tyler-Rose and I like to exchange sad songs.  Sad songs of a Scottish or Irish folk persuasion, mostly.  Often ballads. 

We've accumulated some favorites, so without further ado, I give you: 

Tyler-Rose and Susan's top 5 Sad Irish/Scottish/folk/English/Celtic Songs: 

(Well.........okay, I may have snuck one happy ending in here.  Can you find it? :P) 

Starting off strong with...  "Drowned Lovers" by Kate Rusby:

A variation on that theme:  "Step it out, Mary" by The High Kings:

Another Kate Rusby--a male-perspective ballad with the auspicious title, "I Am Stretched On Your Grave":
Of course, this list would be nothing without a love-gone-to-sea song--"There Was a Maid In Her Father's Garden" by Dervish: 
And last but not least, my hands-down absolute favorite and most weep-worthy, Loreena McKennit's rendition of "The Highwayman":

Did you find the happy one? 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

What's Up Wednesday

Hosted by the lovely sisters Jaime Morrow and Erin L. Funk, What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme/blog hop in which writer-bloggers take a brief post to share what's going on in their lives, writing-related and otherwise.  Check it out here or here if you want the details! 


I finished Cruel Beauty last week.  It's one of the best YA books I've read in a while!  Highly recommended to fans of YA fantasy, romance, sister relationships, and the whole Beauty and the Beast/Hades and Persephone story. 

cruel beauty rose

I'm now mostly focusing on A Game of Thrones (yes, I'm just starting it now...), which is beginning to get really, really good.  I was impressed with the writing pretty much from the beginning, but it's taken me about 100 pages to be totally hooked.  I am hooked now, though I believe my decision to not read it when I was younger was a good one. 


Did some reassessment last week and am heading back into my rewrite of THE MADMAN'S CROWN with renewed focus. 

I think (I hope) I'm finally at a point where I just have to get those words down.  (As opposed to planning and planning and straightening things out and revising the plan and learning lots of good things but not actually writing because the learning curve is steeeeeep sometimes...  At this point I just want to WRITE IT.) 


Tyrion Lannister. 


Well, I'm avoiding an English paper as I write this, so...better go! 
Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

What's Up Wednesday

I know I'm a late-comer today, but...

Hosted by the lovely sisters Jaime Morrow and Erin L. Funk, What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme/blog hop in which writer-bloggers take a brief post to share what's going on in their lives, writing-related and otherwise.  Check it out here or here if you want the details! 


Still vaguely rotating my seven fantasy novels, but have mostly been reading Cruel Beauty by Rosamond Hodge.  I'm enjoying it, and I know Tyler-Rose did because I lent it to her on a Friday evening and got it back that Saturday morning before we had our scones. 

Also Shakespeare's Henriad (so good--and now with awesome movie adaptation! <--yes, that is Tom Hiddleston; your eyes do not deceive you) and other things for class. 


I got a little off track with my rewrite over the weekend.  Re-assessed this morning and am looking to get back into the swing of things over...


...spring break!  I am going home, and I'm going to eat good food and sleep a lot and write stuff.  So pumped. 

Also--did I mention this yet?--Tom Hiddleston as Henry V.  I haven't even watched the movie yet and I'm inspired. 

Tom Hiddleston Henry V
If you're not feeling inspired too, now, we have a problem. 


Homework.  Papers, midterms...  But spring break is coming so it's all going to be okay even though it only lasts a week and will feel like two days but still.  Yay. 
Happy Wednesday, everyone! 

Friday, February 28, 2014

20 Very Cool Things from Harry Potter

Tyler-Rose and I have been talking lately about how we need more Cool Things in our fantasy novels.  As a fun exercise in contemplating cool stuff in novels, I bring you: 

20 Very Cool Things from Harry Potter

1.  Time-turners:  This is #1 because I WANT one. 

2.  Polyjuice potion:  Gross and miraculous at once. 

3.  The Sorting Hat:  It's like the Delphic Oracle and personality quizzes wrapped up in the same lovable, shabby, singing/talking hat. 

4.  The Whomping Willow. 

5.  Quidditch.  OMG QUIDDITCH. 

6.  The pensieve:  Definitely a Very Cool Thing, but as a writer I giggle because it is the most helpful backstory tool ever.  Teehee...  But really, did anyone ever object to getting backstory through the pensieve?  I didn't. 

7.  The Marauder's Map:  If this list were strictly in order of coolest to less cool, I might have to put this at the top.  All the coolness, PLUS it's connected to the backstory of some of the other characters, AND it insults Snape when he tries to read it. 

Guys.  Guys...  The Marauder's Map is so cool that someone made baby booties out of it.  Also everything else ever. 

8.  The invisibility cloak:  Do I really have to say anything about this one? 

9.  Patronuses. what????? 


Moving on. 

10.  Portkeys. 

11.  The Room of Requirement. 

12.  Howlers. 

13.  The Knight Bus. 

14.  Owl post.

15.  Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans. 



16.  Parseltongue. 

17.  Wizard's Chess. 

18.  The moving staircases. 

19.  Horcruxes. 

I DO NOT KNOW why this picture is malfunctioning. 
But I think it's kind of interesting so I'm leaving it this way.

20.  A dining hall that magically fills and refills with really good food. 

As I'm thinking about other stories I could do this for, it's a decision between Top 20 and Top 10. 

But the thing about the Harry Potter books is that I could EASILY do Top 100.  The wealth of invention is spellbinding.  (Hah hah hah I'm so punny.  I blame reading so much Shakespeare.) 

So how does one do that?  Well, probably no one except J. K. Rowling does that.  But I think another answer is that it simply takes time.  When you read the HP books, you can tell she hadn't thought of everything she was going to come up with when she published the first one.  And she worked for a long time before she even got that far.  It's probably also important to acknowledge that this kind of world-building isn't for everyone.  But man, is it cool... 

So, here's to the wonderfulness of Harry Potter--and filling our own novels with more Very Cool Things.  Since this list is woefully incomplete, chime in with your favorite things from the HP series!!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Questions from the Search Terms

I saw another blog I like do this recently and it seemed like an interesting idea since I'm always totally amused by the things that end up in there.

So, how this works is that if a Google (or Bing, or Yahoo, etc.) search brings you to our blog, the search terms are recorded in our blog stats. In this post I will respond personally to some of the search queries. I won't answer all of them (since not all of them are worth answering), but here are some that seemed worthy.

the feather and the rose
You found us! Yay!

gerard butler meme
As you wish.

Gerard Butler Phantom Hot

gerard butler young
Uhhh . . . See above?

young gerard butler
Really, guys?

does snow white marry the huntsman
Ah, finally a question I can answer.
NO. She bloody well does NOT marry the huntsman. Much to my eternal outrage. WHAT WERE THEY THINKING????? Snow White embracing her power and then sort of looking blankly at the unusually handsome and suddenly clean huntsman DOES NOT EQUAL A HAPPY ENDING. The rest of the rant can be found here.

gerard butler funny
Good heavens. You people are obsessed.

federalist papers
Written by Madison, Hamilton, and Jay in the late 1700s leading up to the signing of the American Constitution. They are some of the most influential documents in the formation of our country. Library of Congress has all of them online so you can read the complete collection and become a true American.

armitage destroyed my peace

Mine, too. Mine. Too.
If you want to see the best Richard Armitage themed get-well card ever click here.

Richard Armitage actor hot

I'm not entirely sure you've come to the right place, though I must admit, I am a fan. Walmart is this way.

cookies and cream dove chocolate
I can't recommend it personally, but I know Susan loves the stuff. She also finds them inspirational. Overall, I would say that any kind of chocolate is a good decision at any time. Go for it. As Dove would no doubt tell you, Indulge your senses.

gerard butler crying

But, sure. Because Gerard Butler.

Gerard Butler crying phantom

bad romance poems
I avoid them whenever possible. But they are also sort of my favorite thing.

This gem from the internet:

Baby I burned my hand on
The frying pan of our love
But still it feels better
Than the bubble gum that hold us together
Which you stepped on 

gerard butler long hair
I'm done. Seriously, we are more than a Gerard Butler picture factory. Mostly. Sometimes we are more than a Gerard Butler picture factory. Alright, I would love it if we were a Gerard Butler picture factory.


Mostly because I prefer him with short. So there.

susan francino
Yes, my epic brilliant blog partner also resides at this address. Follow her on Twitter for even more Susan awesomeness.   

Susan Francino writer epic