02.24.13

A bit spooky…

Posted in Journal at 9:00 am by Natalie

Maybe there are some down sides to being a collector of end of the world predictions. Several of them coincided last week and there was just a part of me wondering if I would have to worry about finishing off all my novels after all.

Most of us heard about the near-miss asteroid long before it had its little fly-by with earth, but on the whole the media were pretty quiet about it. Some underground groups were saying the near-miss was going to be an extinction level event, but the world governments were keeping it quiet so our last days would not be spent in chaos.

It was easy to dismiss them as a bunch of crack-pots (while secretly working out the fastest way home should said chaos descend while I was at work). But then the other end of the world prediction clicked into place; the pope resigned.

It wasn’t so much the resigning bit that set up the portent (being the first time in over 600 years it would be hard to argue with that prediction) but in 1139, a man called St. Malachy predicted the list of popes between then and the end of the world. His predictions have been uncannily accurate and the second to last pope named was Benedict.

Fortunately the election of the new pope has been set for a date long after the asteroid near-miss. Had it occurred before I might have started sussing out where my closest crackpot group was hiding out in the hills and petitioned to become a new recruit!

Then the Russian meteorite happened, only when it was first reported, due to the vast numbers of videos, it was said to be a ‘meteorite shower’. That’s the beginning of the Mayan end of times, and let’s face it, that date wasn’t so long ago and our calendars are known to be inaccurate…

But it wasn’t a meteorite shower, the pope hasn’t left the Vatican yet and the asteroid has sailed pass without so much as a puff of smoke, but it has led me to think quite seriously about something; I need to turn my interests toward fluffy bunnies, doily making, or cup cakes, because last week was just a little too freaky for my liking!

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02.17.13

Reading writing

Posted in Writing at 9:00 am by Natalie

I’ve made a rather important discovery; I write more when I’m reading something I enjoy. If I’m reading something I love, I write even more.

Interestingly I also read more when I’m reading something I like, probably because I don’t want to put it down. One can only assume I do a lot more chocolate eating, TV watching and belly-button staring when I’m reading stuff I don’t enjoy, because I don’t seem to do anything else very productive instead of writing.

Maybe I need to get stricter with my reading rules? I introduced my 100 page rule quite a few years ago, where I evaluate a book at page 100 and if I don’t care what happens next I put it down. But there are too many good books out there to stick with a bad one, and now if you consider my apparent linkage between good reading and doing writing (I won’t say good writing, we all put out our fair share of crap), then I think I need to be more willing to let go.

I hate the idea of giving up on a book too soon, I have read books that started slowly which I ended up adoring, but aren’t we always told that if we don’t hook a publisher in the first paragraph we lose our chance? Could I be so harsh as to let the same rule apply?

I think I’m going to revise my reading rule to 50 pages, and if I’m really disliking it, I’ll let it go even if I’m only on the second page. Perhaps now I will get through my reading pile a little faster, and with luck will start to tick off my writing goals a little more regularly!

02.10.13

The Sequel

Posted in Writing at 2:09 pm by Natalie

Just recently I have read two rather disappointing sequels. Compounding the frustration was how long I waited for both books to get to me (one on a long waiting list at the library, the other from an overseas retailer). My appetite was well whetted and I ripped into them the moment I got my hands on them, so my disappointment was significant when I realised I wasn’t really enjoying them.

This, naturally, led to some introspection. Was the issue with the sequel, or was it actually with me? Had my expectations been raised too high by my love of the first books? Had I blown the first books out of proportion to what they really were? If I had encountered the first books instead at the time when I read the second, would I not have enjoyed them as much?

Or is it just that sequels are often not as good as the original books?

In movies it is often staggeringly obvious that the producers are just trying to cash in on a popular product for an eagerly waiting market. Could the same be true of novels? I wonder if the answer can be found in when the author decided to write the sequel?

Fantasy novels are often written in trilogies, and while I do find that sometimes the second book is filler, there is usually a good and justified place for the final book. So maybe if the sequel is conceived at the same time as the original idea, it has a greater chance of standing on its own?

If, however, the author misses the characters, has no other leads to follow, so heads back into familiar territory, or they get repeatedly begged by adoring readers to PLEASE write a sequel, then maybe that’s when they should step back from the computer?

It’s funny, because when I wrote my first novel, Paragon, I always had an idea for a novella prequel that I wanted to write. It was only after I finished writing the book that I wondered about what the characters would do next. I have since planned out the entire sequel, but have to admit, even with all the details mapped out in intricate detail, the story doesn’t seem as three-dimensional as the prequel I have always had in my head. I can’t help but think that is a sign that the sequel should never be written.

02.03.13

End of themes

Posted in Journal at 5:08 pm by Natalie

I didn’t like the theme month. While I did like talking about flash fiction, I didn’t like being obliged to do so. I read a great book in January that I wanted to tell you about, but I couldn’t because it wasn’t flash fiction. I had a really interesting conversation with a friend about sequels, which I wanted to share with you, but I couldn’t because it wasn’t flash fiction.

I know, I could have written the posts and then used them some time in the future when (if) they did fit into my theme, but what would happen if I had some amazing insight or piece of inside information about flash fiction given to me THIS month? I wouldn’t be able to share it with you because the flash fiction theme was done in January.

Besides, some ‘themes’ just didn’t warrant four blogs, a single post would be enough. So I won’t be going on with the theme months any more, it was an experiment, I’m glad I tried it, but let’s just put it behind us now and pretend it never happened.

In an effort to do something non-flash fiction related, I added a new page to my site to track the books I’m reading. I have always believed that a writer must always read and read widely. So now you can follow what I deem as reading widely, and please feel free to suggest books. I’m also going to add the books as soon as I pick them up, so you will also get to see what I don’t finish, when that happens I’ll try to explain why.

I hope you had a great first month of the year, and that you managed to stick to your resolutions if you made them.