Thursday, December 6, 2012

Sing we of 19 Days till Christmas!

A French carol for today, "Noël nouvelet" which again I found through choir music. This one dates back to highschool, I think. The tune is lively to match the joyful lyrics. I present the original french lyrics because the English version "Sing we All of Christmas" has many variations on the lyrics (and I happened to find the below video which blew me away!). However, included below are the literal translations of each verse.

The picture today is of some of the music I'll be singing for my choir concert "Lully Lullay" though you can also see my blue marker "war wound" from babysitting an almost two year old this morning.

Noël nouvelet, Noël chantons ici,
Dévotes gens, crions à Dieu merci !

          New Christmas, Christmas we sing here,
          Devout people, let us shout our thanks to God!

Chorus :
Chantons Noël pour le Roi nouvelet ! (bis)
Noël nouvelet, Noël chantons ici !

          Let us sing Christmas for the new King! (repeat)
          New Christmas, Christmas we sing here.

L'ange disait! pasteurs partez d'ici!
En Bethléem trouverez l'angelet.

          The angel said! Shepherds leave this place!
          In Bethlehem you'll find the little angel.

En Bethléem, étant tous réunis,
Trouvèrent l'enfant, Joseph, Marie aussi.

          In Bethlehem, all united,
          Were found the child, Joseph, and Mary too.

Bientôt, les Rois, par l'étoile éclaircis,
A Bethléem vinrent une matinée.

          Soon, the Kings, by the bright star
          To Bethlehem came one morning.

L'un partait l'or; l'autre l'encens bem;
L'étable alors au Paradis semblait.

          One brought gold, the other priceless incense;
          The stable thus seemed like Heaven.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Rejoice for only 20 Days Remain till Christmas!

The for carol for today "Good Christian Men Rejoice" is far more well known than the last few I posted. However, most people don't know past the first verse. And it is a beautiful song. We're singing it in our choir concert on Sunday.

The picture for today is of our "joy men" decorations. I'm not sure if I've posted a picture of them before, but this year their home is on the piano. A fitting place because joy is oft expressed through singing.

1. Good Christian men, rejoice,
With heart and soul and voice!
Give ye heed to what we say:
Jesus Christ is born today;
Ox and ass before Him bow,
And He is in the manger now.
Christ is born today.
Christ is born today.

2. Good Christian men, rejoice,
With heart and soul and voice!
Now ye hear of endless bliss:
Jesus Christ was born for this;
He has opened heaven's door,
And man is blest for evermore.
Christ was born for this.
Christ was born for this.

3. Good Christian men, rejoice,
With heart and soul and voice!
Now ye need not fear the grave:
Jesus Christ was born to save;
Calls you one and calls you all,
To win His everlasting hall.
Christ was born to save.
Christ was born to save.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Lying Low for 21 more days till Christmas!

Only time for a quick post tonight before bed. The carol is "Infant Holy, Infant Lowly" which is slightly more known than the previous three I posted, but it's a gorgeous, Polish carol to sing. Again, my mom and I sang it last year as a duet for caroling.

The picture is of my dog, Sandy, doing her usual annual routine of sleeping on the tree skirt until we finally wrap it around the base of the tree. Funnily enough, she doesn't dare touch it then. What a scaredy-cat we have for a dog. But she's cute alright!

Infant holy, infant lowly,
For His bed a cattle stall;
Oxen lowing, little knowing
Christ, the babe, is Lord of all.
Swift are winging, angels singing,
Noels ringing, tidings bringing:
Christ the babe is Lord of all.

Flocks were sleeping, shepherds keeping
Vigil till the morning new
Saw the glory, heard the story,
Tidings of a gospel true.
Thus rejoicing, free from sorrow,
Praises voicing greet the morrow:
Christ the babe was born for you.

A beautiful arrangement of the carol:

Rest while waiting for the remaining 22 days till Christmas

Tonight I spent a few hours working at the local OCC distribution center. Towards the end of my four hour shift, our group uncovered four boxes wrapped in paper that was literally "hand" painted. Judging by the size of the hand prints, it was most likely done by the children of the family. Four very lucky children are going to receive these beautiful gifts.

The carol for today is "Jesus, Jesus Rest Your Head". It's a beautiful Appalachian song which my mom and I sung for caroling last year as a duet. I love the haunting melody in the minor key.

Jesus, Jesus, rest your head.
You has got a manger bed.
All the evil folk on earth
Sleep in feathers at their birth.
Jesus, Jesus, rest your head.
You has got a manger bed.

1. Have you heard about our Jesus?
Have you heard about his fate?
How his mammy went to the stable
On that Christmas Eve so late?
Winds were blowing, cows were lowing,
Stars were glowing, glowing, glowing. [Refrain]

2. To the manger came the Wise Men.
Bringing from hin and yon,
For the mother and the father,
And the blessed little Son.
Milkmaids left their fields and flocks
And sat beside the ass and ox. [Refrain]

(This is an old recording, so sorry for the bad quality of sound, but it was the most expressive version I could find even though the soloist is slightly flat and under pitch on the higher notes...)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

23 Days till Christmas! How Great Our Joy!

And the title of today's carol is in the post title - "How Great Our Joy". I was first introduced to this song back in high school when my choir went caroling. This traditional German carol was one of our staples during our events.

The picture today is of a decoration staple in my room. Aren't jingle bells joyful sounding?

1. While by the sheep we watched at night,
Glad tidings brought an angel bright.


How great our joy! Great our joy!
Joy, joy, joy! Joy, joy, joy!
Praise we the Lord in heaven on high!
Praise we the Lord in heaven on high!

2. There shall be born, so He did say,
In Bethlehem a Child today.


3. There shall the Child lie in a stall,
This Child who shall redeem us all.


4. This gift of God we’ll cherish well,
That ever joy our hearts shall fill.


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Masters, There are Only 24 Days till Christmas!

Upon this the first day of December I present to you the first of many pictures thusly proffered for your amusement. But enough with the speech from of old. It is time to announce my little twist on the countdown this year.

At the end of last year's countdown, I thought of the many Christmas carols which are beloved but highly obscured by crowd favorites like Jingle Bells and Joy to the World. So, I thought to explore the less widely known carols at a pace of one a day. The carol for today is "Masters in this Hall". I sang it years ago when I participated in a Madrigal dinner. We processed in on this song. I don't think we sang all twelve verses, but we did sing quite a few. This song sketches out the Christmas story from the point of view of a poor man who accompanies the shepherds to Bethlehem.

The picture today is of my first Christmas present which arrived earlier today. Presents feature largely in the Christmas season nowadays, but few remember that it started with the greatest gift of all: a baby.

1. Masters in this Hall,
    Hear ye news to-day
Brought from over sea,
    And ever I you pray:
Nowell! Nowell! Nowell!
    Nowell, sing we clear!
Holpen are all folk on earth,
    Born is God's son so dear:
Nowell! Nowell! Nowell!
    Nowell, sing we loud!
God to-day hath poor folk raised
    And cast a-down the proud.
2. Going o'er the hills,
    Through the milk-white snow,
Heard I ewes bleat
    While the wind did blow: Chorus
3. Shepherds many an one
    Sat among the sheep,
No man spake more word
    Than they had been asleep: Chorus
4. Quoth I, "Fellows mine,
    Why this guise sit ye?
Making but dull cheer,
    Shepherds though ye be? Chorus
5. "Shepherds should of right
    Leap and dance and sing,
Thus to see ye sit,
    Is a right strange thing": Chorus
6. Quoth these fellows then,
    "To Bethlem town we go,
To see a mighty lord
    Lie in manger low": Chorus
7. "How name ye this lord,
    Shepherds?' then said I,
"Very God," they said,
    "Come from Heaven high": Chorus
8. Then to Bethlem town
    We went two and two,
And in a sorry place
    Heard the oxen low: Chorus
9. Therein did we see
    A sweet and goodly may
And a fair old man,
    Upon the straw she lay: Chorus
10. And a little child
    On her arm had she,
"Wot ye who this is?"
    Said the hinds to me: Chorus
11. Ox and ass him know,
    Kneeling on their knee,
Wondrous joy had I
    This little babe to see: Chorus
12. This is Christ the Lord,
    Masters be ye glad!
Christmas is come in,
    And no folk should be sad: Chorus

And since you probably don't know the tune, you will by the end of this video!

NaNoWriMo 2012: Day 30

It is an odd feeling to sit quietly and watch the clock change from 11:59 to 12:00. No mad dash to update the word count last minute, but rather, a peaceful evening. In fact I played around in a different universe today while playing pathfinders. Out of the six NaNoWriMos I've done, this has been the first early finish of them all. I have enjoyed the break, to be sure. It gave me time to pause and get ready for the heavy posting in the blog this coming month.

However, it doesn't change the fact that the feeling is odd. Perhaps next year I'll be again madly typing away on the 30th except this time aiming for that elusive 60k which I have never hit in one month. This time, once I hit 50k the motivation to continue drained out of me.

But now I know that I can do it. I know that it is possible for me to finish early and force myself to sit down and write that much for that long. Now that I know this, it's time to raise the bar. 2.5k pace next year? In order to finish on the 20th? You bet that I am going to try for it!

Now I'm off to sleep and dream up the first post of the Picture Countdown and to figure out what picture to take. Sweet dreams and I'll see you next year NaNoWriMo!

Until next time.

Friday, November 30, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012: Linktastic Day 29

So, since I'm not reporting on my writing any more this month, I thought I'd make a stab at a normal post schedule, aka the Weekly Roundup! Here below lie all the links which have accumulated whilst I typed furiously for NaNo.

A few NaNoWriMo related posts to start us off:

Errol (of the NaNotoons and NaNomusical adventures) brags, I mean, explains how he wrote 50k in one day and didn't die. And then his equally interesting post on Quantity Begetting Quality explains the reasoning behind NaNoWriMo and why it works.

And once you've finished with your novel and are trying to make heads or tails of it in order to edit there are a few things you should check.

1) Is it told episodically? Anne R. Allen gives a few tips on how to avoid this problem while mooderino points out the difference between episodic and non-episodic on Moody Writing.

2) Is it told step by step where you tell every single detail? Amy Deardon outlines the advantages and disadvantages of this method and how to eliminate it safely.

3) Does your story have a voice? If it doesn't then the story will feel disconnected. Ash Krafton explains the importance of voice in her post on Query Tracker.

When finished editing, it's on to the agents! This is where you'll need to Learn to Love the Pitch (by Sarah Pinneo) and if that doesn't work, find out why you were rejected (by Mike Wells).

And then once it's time to start all over with a new novel, here are a few places you could start:

Dogs in Elk (the misadventures of a few dogs when introduced to an Elk carcass)

Murder or Suicide? (the curious case of a dead man)

Until next time!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Food Feature: Yakisoba

A new post is up on my food blog "Stovetop Exploration". And the topic this time is Yakisoba. Yum! (with recipe!). Click for recipe and post.

NaNoWriMo 2012: Days 27 and 28 and Announcements

I think I've pretty well resigned myself to not writing for the rest of November. I just can't muster the motivation to do so. On the upside, I have found my productivity in other areas to increase as a result of discontinuing my focus on NaNo. If I find myself with the opportunity to write tomorrow or Friday, then I will do so. However, I am content with the 50k I have already written and am enjoying the break before I begin again at my task of chipping away at the remaining plotline.

Two announcements. Firstly, you may have noticed that I did not write a review this month for CSFF's monthly blog tour. This is because there was a snarl up with the mailing of the review copies for the featured book "Angel Eyes" by Sharron Dittemore. The solution by the tour organizer was to postpone it until January so look forward to the review in slightly under two months. I will not be participating in the December tour due to time constraints. But you can probably count on me to at least post something about the book and links to people who are participating.

Secondly, I am going to continue my Christmas tradition of a Picture Countdown to Christmas. However, this year there will be a slight twist. Look forward to the first post this Saturday, December 1st!

Until next time!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012: Day 26 The Day After Winning

Today I took a break. I normally don't write much on Mondays because I am too tired so I decided to take it one step further and spend the day resting from writing. It's been nice to relax. However, it's back to the grindstone tomorrow. I've got 10k until that elusive 60k mark and I'd like to put in a good chunk tomorrow. That is, if I don't decide to detour to the local police station to get my fingerprints done for a criminal background check. I've been putting it off for weeks, but without it I can't apply for a visa which would put me in a tight bind where my next job is concerned.

Words written today: 0
Total words written: 50,044

Monday, November 26, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012: Day 25 and Winning!

Well I did it. After a nearly 7k sprint all day today, I made it past 50k and finished on time for a 2k pace. This is first time I've ever won early. Both other times I crossed the finish line on the last day, but not this time. Perhaps I can hit 60k? Perhaps I can do more than that and end November by finishing the entire first arc? Anything's possible at this point!

Word written today: 6,980
Total words written: 50,044

Excerpt (detailing the annoying love interesting my FMC acquired today):

A nearby crew member must have noticed how much I was straining because he came up to me and said,
“Need some help?”
“Ah, thanks, but I can manage. I’m just getting tired, that’s all. I don’t normally work in here so I’m not used to carrying heavy boxes.” I attempted a chuckle, but the strain of holding the box choked it.
“Let me help.” And without waiting for me to respond, he grabbed the box as easily as if it were twenty pounds lighter.
“Thanks…?” I raised an eyebrow and waited for him to introduce himself.
“(crew member #1).”
“(crew member #1),” I repeated. I smiled at him and then did an about face back into the shuttle.
Slightly distracted, I nearly walked right into (scientist #2). “Oh, sorry.”
She peered around me, and then giggled. “I saw that. Isn’t he handsome?” Smirking, she pushed past me to the outside.
I grimaced and picked up my next box.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012: Day 24

In a mad dash I attempted to get as close to 45k as possible, but I failed my goal of 6k by about 1.5k. Hey, I may not be able to finish on time for a 2k pace, but I'm going to come pretty close.

Words written today: 4,547
Total words written: 43,064


More than the original two techies gathered behind him. I made my exit quickly. My breathing and vision wasn't quite back to normal yet and I felt like sitting down until they resumed their normal level of functioning. I thought about Sensei's request that I stop by for a check-up and found myself outside the sickbay, not quite sure how I'd gotten there. He wasn't inside, though, when I entered. But the beds looked so comfortable that instead of sitting down to rest, I lay down on my side.
Blinking my eyes, I tried to clear away the blurriness of my vision, but it refused to resolved into clear sight. My hands were shaking slightly as well. "Must be from the exertion of running so fast for that length of time." I barely finished muttering before my vision disappeared entirely into blackness.
No, not another one.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012: Days 21 - 23 and Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy belated Thanksgiving! I spent the day hanging out with family and generally stuffing myself with delicious food. It was a good trip and I enjoyed seeing everyone (especially the cousins' four cats!). But, as anticipated, I wrote hardly anything.

However, I planned ahead for this, remember? So I'm still technically on schedule! I was able to write in the car on the way there and back, hence why I managed to stay on track and am ending the night slightly ahead.

Day 21: 593 words written

Day 22: 0 words written (but a fun photoshoot!)

Day 23: 880 words written

Total words written: 38,517


Clasping my hands behind my back I shifted my weight from one foot to the other. Be careful, Alice. “Since the tech department is so busy I’ve been trying to handle all the minor problems in MLab.”
 His left eyebrow twitched.
“However, I ran across an odd glitch that I can’t solve.”
I had his full attention now and I thought I could feel several more pairs of eyes and ears trying to listen in.
“What was the glitch?” he asked, switching from bored to full troubleshooting mode.
“I ran into it while checking the recordings we have. You remember the big fuss recently because we recorded signals which sounded like a language?”
“Of course. Please continue.”
“I went to pull up the first recording to analyze it once more and it wouldn’t play properly. The file kept jumping and skipping so much that the audio was garbled.”
“Isn’t that just a case of a corrupt file?” His interest was visibly draining.
“That’s what I thought at first as well. So, of course we keep multiple copies of our recordings. However, when I checked each of these files they also exhibited the same behavior. Even my own personal copy was damaged. I thought that perhaps the recording system was at fault. But every other recording before and since then is fine—except for the other two recordings we have on file in the same language.” I sketched quotation marks in the air around the word with my fingers.
“That is certainly odd.”
“But the oddest part is that each of the other two recordings exhibited less noticeable glitching with the most recent being the clearest. And when I checked every copy they all exhibited the same level of glitching as the original file.”

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012: Day 20

Today wasn't the sprint that I hoped it would be, but I still wrote more than I've ever written on a Tuesday for the entire month. (On a side note, I'll be leaving on our Thanksgiving trip tomorrow so I doubt I'll be able to post until we get back on Friday.)

Words written today: 1,970
Total words written: 37,045


I blinked in the strong light after the dimness of the lab. When I looked down, Kitty was rubbing her eyes and squinting.
"Here's your rock" I handed her the two pieces. "Aren't they pretty now?"
"Yes, they are." She caressed the smooth surface. "Now they don't look dirty and they're so shiny."
She turned first the large one, then the smaller one over in her hands, examining them while we walked. Before we entered her family's quarters she held out the smaller stone.
"For me?"
Kitty nodded. "I don't need two. I want you to have it."
"Thank you!" I took it and hugged her. The stone covered about half my palm and was crisscrossed by veins of different color. It was also roughly tear drop shaped. "I'll make sure to put this in a special place and keep it safe." I beamed down at her. "But it's time for you to go back to your Mommy. I have a lot of work to do." Struck by a desire to warn her, I knelt down to look her in the eye and whispered, "I might be able to talk your Mommy and Daddy into letting me take you down to Earth for a visit in a week or two. Why don't you pick out some things you'd want to take and some clothes and pack them? Just in case I can convince them."
Her eyes lit up. "Sure. I wanna come!"
"Okay, but don't tell your Mommy or Daddy about it. Pack your bag secretly. You can do that, right?"
"Mhmm." She nodded enthusiastically.
"Good girl. I'll tell you later whether I can take you or not. Be a good girl today!"

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012: Day 19

I pushed through my tiredness and pulled out enough to keep my two day lead intact. Here's to hoping I have enough time and energy to turn it into a three day lead tomorrow.

Words written today: 1,450
Total words written: 35,075


He nodded. The rest radioed in ready and he gave the order to move out. We traveled at a slow speed at first, adjusting our control to the terrain. But by the time we'd traveled a mile we were racing flat out as fast as the terrain would allow. The path there was well worn and fairly level but the occasional bumps and drops of levels would toss the vehicles high and, if we weren't careful, out of control. As we went airborne off of a semi-large bump, I felt (scientist #2) clinging onto me with all her might. I laughed quietly. She definitely wasn't the adventurous type. Thereafter I made sure to pick the largest bumps to jump just to tease her. I knew I would pay later, but I needed the laughter now. It distracted me from thinking about how badly the situation could turn out.

Monday, November 19, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012: Day 18

Another low count today for Sunday so no more catching up. But I'm lucky to even get 1k done and I maintained my two day lead. I'll try to hit it harder tomorrow and Tuesday.

Words written today: 1,075
Total words written: 33,625


"But you think your father will believe and help us?"
"Yes. He's enough of a believer to go out on limb for any chance to contact aliens even if there isn't much evidence. And the prospect of there being an alien homeworld at certain coordinates will be like the proverbial carrot dangling in front of a donkey. Nothing short of death will stop him from trying to confirm it."
"I hope so. He's going to have to pull out a miracle in order for the message to reach that far. But I have a back-up plan which might help if we can't send the message fast enough."
"A back-up plan?"
"Who says I’ve only met two alien races in my travels?"
I pressed the button to close the lift doors and we traveled down, heading for the airlocks to try to catch (kitty's father) before he and the others left.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012: Day 17

The villains have finally shown themselves and the pace of the story has accelerated into a gallop. That and the desire to get ahead for Thanksgiving is drove me onward to my highest words written in one day this month. My MC basically spent the whole time spilling her secrets so it was nice to finally get all that out on the page where the readers can see it.

Words written today: 4,180
Total words written: 32,550


"Good afternoon, (scientist #4). Everything running smoothly?"
He jumped slightly and his gaze traveled up until he saw my face. "Ah, good afternoon, Dr. Oglethorpe. Um, yes. It is going well.” He pushed his glasses up. "Can I help you with something?"
"Yes, you can pull up that recording of the transmission that just came in and let me listen to it. (signal scientist) wants me to listen to it.
"Oh, alright." He tapped on the console to reach the file folder with the recording. He clicked on the wrong one at first and had to backtrack to the right recording. "Here you are." He handed me a pair of headphones.
"Thanks." I slipped them over my ears. Static, then a soft half beep before the message began. "This is (alien freighter #2). Virus confirmed." Static. "Measures are being taken to prevent spread of virus, but the ship is beyond rescue. We are evacuating." Garbled static voice and which faded into normal background static.
The ice that had frozen my hands was now spreading up my arms to the rest of my body. Ship beyond rescue? Evacuating? That sounds like a very late stage 2 infestation. This is not good at all. I tapped (scientist #4) on the shoulder and asked him to replay it. I wasn't able to divine any more information, but the words were now memorized in my head.

Until next time!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012: Day 16

And my motivation streak continues! I scored my fourth day this month of 3k or more and I'm finally back to a one day ahead lead. I'm going to do my best to increase that even further tomorrow. My goal is 32k tomorrow or bust (and I wouldn't say no to somehow ending up near 34k).

Words written today: 3,066
Total words written: 28,370


"Mhmm, isn't that perfect? Why else would they have chosen orchids to grow up here? They don't use that much water and are easy to grow. All they had to do was make a new color and then the colony had a steady export other than moon rocks."
"And rocks aren't as pretty." Kitty scrunched her face up. "Daddy brought me back a rock which he thought was pretty, but it isn't."
"Well maybe you just need to polish it. Sometimes rocks look really dirty and yucky until you cut them in half or polish them until they're smooth. How would you like to take your rock to someone who could polish it today?"
"Will it really make it pretty?" Her tone was skeptical.
"I promise that polishing makes any rock pretty. It makes it smooth and shiny too."
She hummed and rocked from side to side before standing up. "Okay. Can we do it now?"
"Sure. Let's go get your rock."
I proffered my hand again and led her out of the room. The air outside felt dry and stale after breathing in the rich, moist air in the hydroponics room for so long. I could almost feel my skin drying into flakes. An application of lotion when I returned to my quarters would stop that feeling. Maybe a bath too, I thought before remembering that I'd used my bath quota for the month. Blast it all to Saturn and beyond. I hate having only one bath a month.  

Until next time!

Friday, November 16, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012: Day 15

I'm back on track and I crossed the halfway mark! Today I managed to recover my motivation for writing. I could have probably written even more if I'd had people to war with. And, the big question, am I half way through the novel? Not even close. I'm nearing the end of the first arc, but I'm only at the very beginning of the rise to the climax. I might get close to or past 40k with this arc.

Next goal? Catch up to the 2k per day pace. (On a side note, this is only the 3rd day this month that I've crossed the 3k in a day line.)

Words written today: 3,028
Total words written: 25,304


I slid my card in the access panel and the door whooshed open. The air smelled of earth and greenery with the sweet smells of flowers mingled in. I loved coming to this room because it helped keep me grounded. The smells and greenery reminded me that the sterilized chamber of a colony we lived in wasn't the only existence out there and that there was a whole planet of humans for whose sake I was working. I came close to forgetting the reason for which I was working often, but a trip to this room always brought back why I was up here. And reminded me that I was within a shuttle ride of home.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012: Day 13 and 14

These past two days have been pathetic! I'm at a very low point motivation wise and my word count reflects it. I wrote zero words on Tuesday and only a little bit today. The write-in went great tonight, but, no words written during it. And today marks my first day of being officially behind the daily word count goal. Eeep!

Words written today: 268
Total words written: 22,276
Words behind: 1,057

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012: Day 12

Barely anything written today. My word count is quite pathetic. But, I wrote something and my MC finally finished that story which I've now realized is going to require some major editing and splitting up across the novel to work. Bah. The editing comes later. Now onto the main plot again.

Words written today: 337
Total words written: 22,008


I wasn't able to sleep until four in the morning that night. And even then I couldn't stay asleep for more than an hour. The nightmares were back in full force with louder and louder swarms of clicking. I shrugged it off best I could in the morning though the dark bags under my eyes told of how tired I was.

Monday, November 12, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012: Day 11

Well, at least I was expecting not to get much written today. But I'm still proud of myself for getting this much done. My MC is still telling her story, but I think it will finish tomorrow.

Word written today: 1,118
Total words written: 21,671


"But, it was time to go back before the sun came up. They were almost back to the colony when the human girl noticed something that hadn't been there before. There was a long, glowing green line from the mines to the colony. She told the aliens and they were surprised. So the alien boy flew closer, and what do you think it was?
"It was a long, slithering line of the glowing creatures from the cave! And they were walking towards the colony. The alien boys were horrified that the creatures were out of the cave. The creatures were almost at the colony and none of them knew what would happen when the creatures reached it. Everyone was scared."

Sunday, November 11, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012: Day 10

I'm on a roll! For some reason, my MC just started telling a story (which is actually from her past) and she didn't stop for the whole time today. I end today with the end of the story within sight, but still not very close.

Words written today: 3,205
Total words written: 20,553


"Are you ready? I've got the perfect funny story for you."
She nodded and started shoveling her last few bites into her mouth.
I could barely keep from laughing. She looked like a chipmunk with her bulging cheeks.
"Once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away-"
She rolled her eyes. "I know that story."
"No, you don't. Now hush. Unless you don't want this story anymore?"
"No! I want one!"
"Then let me tell it." I leaned back and settled myself in my chair. "As I was saying; once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away there lived a girl. She loved to travel and see new things and was very talented at getting into trouble.
"One day she found herself in a spaceship that traveled between the stars and the people on it weren't human."
Kitty's eyes widened. "Did they hurt her?"
"No, not at all. They were nice people who liked talking to her to find out about humans. They were the good type of aliens who like to form alliances with humans instead of attacking them. But they were disappointed when she didn't know where her home was. She had traveled and ended up on their ship by accident. So, instead, they just had to talk. But they became very good friends.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012: Day 9

Today wasn't a day of heavy writing, but I wrote more than yesterday! My MC, Alice, has finally figured out that the villains are invading and so the plot's definitely thickening.

On a side note, I was looking at my stat page and was startled to see that I only had in the lower 30ks left to write. I really hadn't looked at it since I hit 10k.

Words written today: 2,257
Total words written: 17,348


"This is the (alien race #1 freighter), Captain (freighter captain) speaking. Who sent the message offering help? We did not transmit a distress call. However, your message is appreciate as we have recently had several secondary systems shut down and the main systems are starting to malfunction. Please send assistance if able."
The words were replaced again by static, but this time I thought I heard a secondary sound, similar to Morse code, extend beyond the message and then stop after a split second.
They didn't send the distress call? I frowned. But it originated from their vessel. And their systems are beginning to malfunction? Is it a coincidence? And what on earth was that sound?
I tapped (scientist #2) on the shoulder. "Can you play it again please? It sounded slightly different from the last signal that we recorded."
"Sure.” She brought the file back up. “How do you think it differs?"
"I'm...not sure.” I hesitated. "I'll see if I can pinpoint it further by replaying it as many times as necessary. I'll let you know if my suspicion is correct."

Friday, November 9, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012: Day 8

I'm finally back in the mood to write! Yay! I started to write rather late today, hence why I didn't get more done, but I'm slowly catching up to where I'd like to be. I'm counting on heavy writing days tomorrow and Saturday to finish catching up.

Words written today: 2,089
Total words written: 15,091


Unfortunately, I did not sleep well that night because the nightmares returned. However, the alien with the javelin was absent this time. Only the sounds of clicking and tapping and the flashes of light on metal disturbed my dreams. I found them even more disturbing, though, as if they were an enemy which lurked just out of my vision. I kept trying to turn and look, but I couldn't see what was making the noise, though I had the feeling that the sound was very familiar. I woke abruptly and then fell back to sleep while trying to place the noise.
I awoke the next morning with the nightmare lingering in the back of my mind like a shadow on a bright day that just wouldn't go away but kept following behind me just out of sight. It was annoying so I ate quickly and headed to sickbay as soon as I could to play with Kitty. She sat upright in her bed awaiting my arrival.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012: Day 7

On the upside, I was able to have a very good time at a write in. On the downside, I wrote barely anything today, again. I really need to get moving before I truly fall behind.

Words written today: 781
Total words written: 13,002


It'd been simmering in the back of my mind since I'd heard the distress call. The possibility of responding to the SOS, talking to them, making sure they were okay, had been growing stronger. But what would I say? I can't send help. And I don't think any message I could send would reach even their closest colony. What help could I offer? And yet I still the urge to reach out and talk to them remained. I wanted answers and that seemed to be the only option where I would be able to receive the information I wanted.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012: Day 6

At least I achieved some writing today. It was pathetically small, but it was something. The Election, ESL teaching and everything else I had going on today didn't leave much time for writing. And I've decided to give up writing more because my brain is crashing due to tiredness (and not in the good way that results in wacky/funny writing). But I did reach 12k. That's something.

Words written today: 832
Total words written: 12,221


I jerked straight before relaxing enough to smile. "Yes, this is a monumental find. Truly a historic moment for humankind." I adjusted the headphones. "Could I listen to it one more time?"
"Of course."
I listened carefully, anticipating the (alien race #1 language) this time but I didn't catch any more meaning than before. The coordinates weren't that far from our solar system. They were right in the area that the (alien race #1) inhabited. But then why are they sending out a distress signal? Surely they would have been found already before the signal would have been broadcasted this far away. I prevented myself from frowning. That I could understand it needed to be kept secret. I removed the headphones.
"What do you think?" (scientist #2) queried as she took back the headphones.
"It's definitely some sort of language and it doesn't sound like any language found on Earth."

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012: Day 4 and 5

Ok, I'll admit it. I completely failed on Sunday. Zero words written on that day. I don't know why, but I didn't feel like writing anything. Thank goodness I was ahead. But, I'm back on track for Day 5! And...*drum roll* the villain is upon the point of being introduced! I spent most of the day chronicling Alice Oglethorpe's mysterious illness though. I do wonder what could be wrong with her...(well, I don't, but you have to!)

Words written today: 2,763
Total words written: 11,389


I gave up and lay down on the bed, curled into a tight ball, fighting with all my willpower to keep my limbs still. The room slowly darkened in front of me. I clenched my fists and pulled my legs closer to my chest. Breathe. Just keep breathing. I repeated it over and over until I heard a noise from outside trying to break into my ears. I focused. The noise was a voice. Who...?
"Alice, breathe! I shall get the medicine. Hold on."
I jerked my head up and down the tiniest amount. I couldn't spare more concentration for any physical effort greater than that. I had to focus on taking my next breath and taking it in the proper place and time. A breath in the wrong dimension didn't help my body here. Stay in one place. Breathe. I'm on the moon. Breathe. In the colony. Breathe. Must stay here. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012: Day 3

Today progressed very smoothly and I've finally reached the beginnings of the first arc in the plot.

Words written today: 3,501
Total words written: 8,626

Excerpt (introducing a new character who, incidentally, doesn't have a name yet):

After a week of this, my scenarios had turned up nothing and the doubts were starting to creep back in. I couldn't understand what was going on. "According to my calculations we should be receiving a signal a week if not several times a week. This silence is odd." I was once again talking to my reflection in the mirror. The isolation in my travels had turned me into someone who sought comfort from the only familiar face aroundmy face in the mirror. I straightened up suddenly. "Perhaps a signal has come in and it just hasn't been recognized for what it really is."
I finished my preparations and hurried off to the MLab. Most people were at supper so the lab was quiet and empty save for two other people. I strode up to (scientist #2). "How's your evening going? Anything new?"
She spun her swivel chair around. "Good evening, Alice. No, nothing new." She sighed.
I sat down on the chair beside her. "What was all the excitement about the last few days then? I thought we surely had some positives come in."
"They turned out to be just static." She swiveled back around and began bringing up the audio samples. "Different forms of static but static all the same. It was quite the letdown."
"I'm sorry to hear that. This lab has been so criticized by the general public that we really do need to produce results or else our funding might be cut."
"Don't I know it. My parents think I'm wasting my time up here listening to static."
I leaned back in my chair. "I understand completely. That's why I like it better up here. Everyone up here is a believer and so we don't get so much flack."
"I'm with you there." She laughed. "You want to listen to the recordings from the past week? Maybe you'll hear something that the rest of missed. I think you're the only one who hasn't listened to them."
"I'd be happy to."
She leaned closer to me. "Sorry you've been getting the short end of the stick around here. We're all feeling the strain of (signal scientist)'s leadership. He's a good scientist..."
"Yes, he is. Which is why I turned this project over to him. He does need to work on his leadership skills though," I whispered back and winked. "I've gotten over it. In fact, not being on the schedule has given me time to work on a project of my own."
(scientist #2) patted me on the shoulder. "I'm glad to hear that. The recordings are all here. Would you mind watching the console for me? Mr. Leader forgot that I needed to eat sometime during my shift and so there's no one to replace me." She rose to her feet.
"I can do that easily." I pushed her towards the door. "I hear that there's some really good food on the menu tonight. Go before you miss it!"
"You don't have to tell me twice." A minute later she was gone.

Until next time!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012: Day 2

Day two has passed quite well word count wise. Plot wise I was able to reintroduce two characters from the old version. But I'm still fishtailing on plot. It's far too early for the main plot to start, though I'm starting to put some foreshadowing in.

Words written today: 2,583
Total words written: 5,125
Words ahead (calculated at my new goal of 2.5k per day): 125


I wasn't Dr. Ji-Ji's only visitor though. A small girl with auburn hair sat on the floor playing with a doll.
"Hello, Kitty!" I bent down to pat her head.
She twisted her head to grin up at me. "Alice!"
I squatted down. "Is that the doll you got for your birthday?"
She nodded vigorously.
"What's her name?"
"Kat. Like me."
"What a pretty name for a doll. And it does look just like you." I patted the doll's head.
Kitty beamed. "Mommy said she'll get me another one for Christmas," she announced. "And I'm gonna name her Ali. Like you!"
"Wow, I'll have a doll name after me. I can't wait to see her. Will you show her to me as soon as you get her? And then we could play together!"
Kitty bounced up and down and nodded. "I'll show her to you first," she paused, "After mommy and daddy and Ji-Ji."
"It's a promise then." I held out my pinkie and she twisted her own around mine.
"A promise." She let go, then turned back to playing with her doll.
"Kitty, can you tell me where Ji-Ji is? I wanted to ask him a question."
"He's back there." She waved her hand vaguely behind her.
"Thanks, Kitty." I stood up and patted her once more on the head. Back there probably meant his office. She sure is cute. I hid my smile so Kitty wouldn’t see it. Little kids were so adorable and innocent. Playing with them was always a relief from having to deal with conniving, deceitful adults.

 Until next time!

Friday, November 2, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012: Day 1

NaNoWriMo has begun! And here is my tally of the day's accomplishment.

Word written today: 2,542
Total words written: 2,542
Words behind: 0

I met my 2k daily goal and went beyond it! Yay! And here's the first few paragraphs (I'm going to try to remember to post an excerpt from the day's writing each day):

I, Alice Oglethorpe, had finally met my match in no less than a rusted pipe.
"Stupid, stupid, STUPID!"
I banged on the pipe with a wrench but it bounced back with a dull 'bong'. The nut on the joined pipe refused to move even after spending over a half hour on it.
"I am not a plumber. Why am I doing this?"
Crossing my arms, I glared at the pipe. The single plumber in the station was on sick leave back on Earth and his replacement was dying of something in the medical bay awaiting the next transport. Which left me to do it.
"Why on earth didn't I keep my mouth shut." I wedged the wrench back onto the pipe. "I just had to show off and say I knew how to fix plumbing." Straining, I pushed down on the wrench with all my body weight. It gave, ever so slightly. "Alice Oglethorpe, you are a scientist. You were hired as a scientist, not a plumber." The wrench jerked downward another inch. "Next time, keep," it moved another inch, "your," the pipe threads squealed, "mouth," the wrench dropped another two inches, "shut!" The wrench slipped out of my hands as the nut loosened and the wrench clanged loudly to the floor, narrowly missing my big toe. I jumped out of the way and rubbed my hands. They felt like they’d never uncurl from the shape of the wrench’s handle. 

Until next time!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Weekly Roundup

3 DAYS TILL NANOWRIMO! It seems like yesterday that I was logging onto the newly refreshed site at the beginning of October. Where has this month gone...

So, this will be my last regular "Weekly Roundup" until the end of December/new year. NaNo will take over this blog as usual during November and then I've got something interesting planned for my Christmas Picture Countdown in December. I'll still try to post links once in a while, but I can't promise anything.

The goal of NaNoWriMo is to teach writers to turn off their inner editors and allow themselves to write a really terrible first draft. Carolyn Kaufman over at Query Tracker gives her input about the first "Skeleton draft" in her article here.

But on the other hand, is NaNoWriMo for every writer? Jane Lebak thinks not and isn't doing it this year for herself. Hear her out and read her reasons though. You just might find yourself agreeing.

Once you have this novel done at the end of NaNo (or whenever you finish editing), what do you do with it? Pursue traditional publishing? Hang it all and self-publish? However, you might want to think ahead about the consequences of choosing the latter. Many agents, like Janet Reid (the famous query shark), aren't too happy about not having first bite at your novel. Janet explains why poor sales can sink any possibility of a second book.

Until Thursday and the beginning of NaNo!!

Monday, October 22, 2012

CSFF Blog Tour: The Spirit Well - The Mythology

In order to prepare for this tour I read not only "The Spirit Well" by Stephen Lawhead but also its two prequels - "The Skin Map" and "The Bone House". Perhaps if this series proceeded in a strictly linear fashion I would have been able to untangle the third book from its prequels, but that proved impossible. As such, consider this three part review to cover the whole Bright Empires Series with a special emphasis on "The Spirit Well" when I can manage it.

For today's topic I thought I would focus on the world building or mythology Lawhead has created for this series. (I shall post a spoiler warning here. Nothing sufficient to give away major plot points is written, but there are details from all three books so if you haven't read the first two, expect to be spoiled. You have been warned.)

On the surface it poses as a copy of the real world with the addition of alternate timelines, dimensions and time or "astral" travel. However, once examined closer one can see the intricate weaving of fact and fiction which Lawhead has presented us with. "Home World" as it is called is the part of the world which is a carbon copy of our own. It is supposed to be the original timeline and dimension from which all the others derive and also represents the boundary between time that can be traveled and "the absolute future" to which no one can travel. However this world is crisscrossed with ley lines which connect the dimensions. Kit's great-grandfather, Cosimos, explains it as the connecting points and lines formed by stacked soap bubbles.

This ley line idea comes from old Celtic beliefs. However, Lawhead has woven it into his world seamlessly and also into multiple cultures' mythology. In "The Spirit Well", Cassandra is introduced to the ley lines by a Native American who calls them "Ghost Roads" to the Spirit World. That it is almost impossible to distinguish where the ley lines of Lawheads's creation, Celtic myth, and the myths of Native Americans' each begin and end is a testament to Lawhead's skill as a writer.

He doesn't just restrict himself to borrowing ley lines and old myths. In book two, "The Bone House", Kit travels by accident to prehistoric times and meets cave men straight out of Evolutionary theory. Or perhaps not. Lawhead again has changed them to suit his world. He has given them back the humanity and intelligence that Evolution stripped from them and he even has introduced a key plot point through Kit's interaction with them.

In one of the flashbacks in "The Spirit Well" Lawhead takes Arthur and his son Benedict back to Ancient Egypt. Arthur is an Englishman born into the Christian tradition, however he studied with and became friends with a priest of the Egyptian god Amun. This particular flashback has Anen complaining about how the Pharaoh refuses to listen to the priests and is now promoting the worship of one new god. If you know your history, you'll recognize this new "god" as the one worshiped by the Jews and therefore Christians. However, Arthur keeps the fact that he believes in this God quiet, saying that his policy is to not impose his beliefs on the cultures he is visiting.

I think this approach can be applied to Lawhead's direction for "Bright Empires". He doesn't discard bits from other beliefs, mythologies or even "science", but chooses to embrace them and mold them to fit his world. However, though he takes this approach, one can tell the Christian undertones. I have full faith that the good guys will win and find some way to beat the bad guys, though I was quite disappointed to find that "Bright Empires" has two more books in the pipeline instead of being a trilogy. I wanted to read the end already!

But, I have reached the end of the available books and you the end of this post, unlike me, all you have to do is wait until tomorrow for part two of my review. I'll try to explain why "Bright Empires" is told in such a fragmented timeline and it works. (Versus the last book I reviewed.) So, tune in tomorrow! And while you're waiting, check out more below:

To buy the book, click here.
Or you can visit Stephen Lawhead's website or facebook page.

And don't forget to visit the other participants in the blog tour here!

Until then!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Weekly Roundup

17 DAYS TILL NANOWRIMO! (Yes, I'm going to keep doing this almost every post until NaNo starts. In fact, next week is the kick-off party for our little area! Which just might translate into more of the Kagerou's Journal serial being posted.)

So on the topic of NaNo, Matthew Wright is doing a countdown on his site with tips for NaNo novel writing. His first installment is all about plotting the hero journey.

I'm sure every writer has heard the "rule" "write what you know". However, isn't the intention behind this rule to encourage writers to write in areas they have emotional connections with? That emotion can drive a story as Stina Lindenblatt discusses in her post.

When writers can put emotion into a story it prompts a response from the reader. But how do you convey that emotion to the reader in the first place? In her post, Nanci Panuccio demonstrates how to create drama sentence by sentence.

In the publishing world, once again genre fiction is ignored at National Book Awards. This reality is something you, if you are a genre writer, will have to accept. Unless the top book awards stop turning up their noses at anything outside of the literary "genre".

Now for an interesting tidbit on the electronic ereader front. A german company, which produces a reading app for android OS phones, has announced an ereader which syncs with the app--for 9 euros (that's about $20). Now that is a low cost ereader!

Next week is the CSFF blog tour! I'll be reviewing The Spirit Well by Stephen Lawhead. Make sure to tune in here and check out the other participants' blogs during the tour as well!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Weekly Roundup


Yes, that's the big news of the day, or rather of the month. As soon as I saw NaNoWriMo's tweet about the site relaunch I headed over there to set everything up. And I'm still hyping myself up about it. But, I digress. If you do know what NaNoWriMo is, get yourself over there to sign up/login and begin your prep. If you don't, you can find more information on the event at the main site but basically it's when several hundred thousand writers go mad and decide to write 50k of a novel in one month on top of everything else in their life.

Ok, now for the links. There are just a few today, but the last one will take you a while to completely read through (thereby hooking you in the process [insert evil laugh]). I've been in an editing mindset ever since this summer when I started digging into Adventure at Anwar for the rewrite/revision during Camp NaNoWriMo (And I'm in full rewrite mode for NaNoWriMo this year for the Across Time series/idea) so here are a few more links in that vein.

The Art of the Complete Rewrite by Jane Lebak


Write Tighter, Write Smarter by Ash Krafton

As for the final link, Robin McKinley's running a blog serial on her blog. In fact, she's been running it for almost 6 months now. Interested? Well, you can catch up on it here while waiting the next installment.

Until next time! (And enjoy the story. I know I have!)

Friday, September 28, 2012

Kagerou's Journal 1

(I've gotten very, very behind on writing this, but, here's the first small bit I have written.)
Update: You can find all parts linked here.

Day 1

I arrived in Sandpoint the morning of the Swallowtail festival as ordered by the Magnamar Lodge. As a trainee I had no choice in the matter even though I was sure the main event of the festival, the consecration of the Cathedral would be dull and uninteresting. I thought perhaps, though, I might glean a few interesting scraps of information from the gossip in the taverns and inns and resolved to spend most of my time in those locations discreetly eavesdroping.

The square outside the Cathedral was packed with people. Some hawked their wares while others hungrily eyed the feast that was laid out on a long row of tables. In one corner a brightly dressed Varisian dancer swirled her scarf while she danced. I thought I saw more than one coin disppear from a watcher's pocket into hers and not all were willingly proferred. A tall man, possibly Shoanti by the look of him, strode closer to the Varisian dancer. I was sure that he had spotted her pickpocketing as well. However, a gray cat came flying out of nowhere and landed on his head. Mayhem ensued as it hissed, spit and clawed at the dancer's pet cat while the man swatted at the cat to get it off his head. In all commotion he seemed to forget the Varisian pickpocket.

At that moment another male voice called out drawing our attention to the Cathedral steps. He introduced himself as Father Zantus, the local priest. I started digging in my pack for pen, ink and paper to take notes with on the ceremony. It wasn't anything out of the ordinary but I felt that notes would help jog my memory later on when I was writing my report.

That when I heard a strange sound. It emanated from the wagon in the right hand corner near the cathedral. To me it sounded like a dog's yelp cut short.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

CSFF Blog Tour: The Telling - A Review

(Pardon for posting this a little late. A bout of sickness knocked me off my feet and computer for a few days.)

Welcome to this month's CSFF Blog tour! The book this time is "The Telling" by Mike Duran. I don't normally read supernatural suspense thrillers so this one was definitely in a genre I'm not too familiar with. But, here are my thoughts.

True to the horror/suspense genre Duran doles out the hints and clues in small doses. Even the details of the main character's, Zephaniah Walker's, face aren't totally revealed until several chapters in. I found this to be an interesting approach to take, with regard to details, because it was attempting to dangle a hook to lead readers along. True, the whole history behind the scar on Zeph's face is important to his backstory and the book's plot, however it wasn't quite the revelation that I thought it would be after being dragged along for that length of time.

The whole book was like this. Small details being trickled here or there, in a very obvious fashion I might add, leading up to an unsatisfactorily small reveal or climax. Not that the book wasn't interesting. It was a fun read and kept me reading, though I wouldn't describe it as a page turner. I'm not quite sure whether I, as the reader, should feel insulted by how obvious all the clues were or whether that was just a result of the author not being the most adept at hiding the clues. The ending was fairly easy to guess and many pieces were overly easy to connect. The fragmented nature of the book seemed to be the author's method of hiding the clues, but it didn't completely work.

If you like the genre, then I'd suggest you read it. It's fun, a fairly unique take on demons and hell, and something you can justify spending an afternoon on. However, it's not a masterpiece so don't expect masterful red herrings and twists and turns you don't see coming. To the astute reader, the ending is easily discernible from a ways off.

Want to read it? Buy here: The Telling.
Or, visit Mike Duran's website or Facebook page.

Other tour participants can be found my CSFF Blog Tour page as well as links to past tour related posts.

Disclaimer: As part of the CSFF Blog Tour I received a free copy of this book to review.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Weekly Roundup

A piece of good advice to start us off:
"Beware of clichés. Not just the ­clichés that Martin Amis is at war with. There are clichés of response as well as expression. There are clichés of observation and of thought – even of conception. Many novels, even quite a few adequately written ones, are ­clichés of form which conform to clichés of expectation." - Geoff Dyer

Now for the links:

One of the ever present questions in the publishing world is how long should your manuscript be? Arthur Plotnik gives his opinion on the matter over at Query Tracker.

Also at Query Tracker, Ash Krafton gives advice on how to craft well-rounded villains and the Zen of Backstory.

While writing, how do you keep all those bits and pieces organized? Michelle Rafter's advice is especially relevant for freelancers.

So now that you've written that perfect short story, how can you lengthen it into a longer piece without filling it with fluff? Guest blogger Liese Sherwood-Fabre gives a practical 4 step method.

But, before you send it out, name check! Do all your character's names sound like they belong in the same universe? Janice Hardy shares her experiences with the name game.

Once you've sent that manuscript out and it's been accepted (yay!) and you can't go five minutes without telling someone, how do you prevent yourself from being creepy on social media while trying to promote your book?

On a final note, Megan Bostic shares 7 things she's learned so far during her career as a writer.

Until next time!

Monday, August 20, 2012

CSFF Blog Tour: The Eye of the Sword - A Review

Welcome to the August CSFF Blog Tour! This time around, the featured book is Eye of the Sword by Karyn Henley. (Doesn't the cover look great at right? And it reflects the main character and turning point in the book too. More on that below.) I decided to jump into this, my first blog tour, head first thus I ended up reading the book and crafting a review. So, without ado, I present my review of Eye of the Sword.

First, I must make something clear. This book is book 2 in what looks to me will be a fantasy trilogy. I was not able to read book 1, Breath of Angel, beforehand so I made do with summaries online. Book 3 (which I'm assuming will be titled Blood of Man due to the advertisement in the back of Eye of Sword) has not been released yet and I have no idea when it will be published.

Plot and Universe

I shall focus first on the plotline and construction of the world. This book, in my opinion, is well written and well paced. The plot is engaging and just when you think you've figured out what's going to happen, Henley throws in a twist to keep you off balance. The outward plot is fairly straightforward though. It is constructed around a quest archetype where the lowly knight must prove his worth by seeking firstly an oracle (at the king's command) and secondly the two remaining harps (at the princess' request). However, the quest could be seen as having a deeper meaning because the main character, Comain Trevin, discovers more than an oracle or harps. He discovers himself. I won't say too much more because that would give away the biggest plot twist in the whole book.

The pacing of the plot kept me eagerly turning the pages to read what happened next. The first few pages were an excellent hook, not because of surprising characters or twists, but because the universe or storyworld was well painted in a few strokes with well chosen world specific words. I don't know whether this hook would have been as effective as if I'd read Breath of Angel because the term that intrigued me was, to my knowledge, explained in the first book. But coming into the second book with no previous introduction left me curious as to how the world was built and kept me reading. I wish, though, that the author had included some form of summary of book 1. It would have helped in establishing what events had preceded book 2 and also what had been "discovered" by the characters by that point in time.

This lack of summary led to my not quite being sure of many of the universe's constructions and systems. For example, the opening pages give a list of characters and, also, the ranks of angels in this world. However, the latter was only briefly touched upon in Eye of the Sword leading me to believe that the full description of the angels was found in book 1 and Henley assumed the readers would be familiar with it. I wasn't, so I ended the book with very little enlightening as to how the system worked or was constructed. This was also true of other things mentioned like the Draks.

The Christian Perspective

Good wins over evil and the lesson of forgiveness is well expounded in this book. Therefore you can tell it was written by someone who holds to the values of Christianity. However, the part with the angels bugged me. I hate to use the word, but the only one that comes to mind is 'heretical'. I've read several stories before where the concept of angels and demons are twisted into a fantasy which doesn't mirror reality, but I never expected to see it used in a book by a Christian. It read to me like a half-hearted attempt to insert God into a fantasy world and modify Him and his angels to fit the world. I didn't like it. I wouldn't have minded as much if the author hadn't used Biblical terms to suit her fancy. If, let's say, Henley had created a different term for the angels and not claimed that that they had any relation to the angels in the Bible then I would have been perfectly fine with it. However, the angels turned into an odd fantasy device which distorted reality. This was the one sour bit in the whole book. The rest I loved.

Overall, I liked this book. I would recommend it to anyone who's interested in YA fantasy that is based in a Christian worldview. The virtues taught are of forgiveness, bravery, courage, righteousness, and the consequences of actions which are good and useful for the teaching of children. Read it, read book 1 if you feel like it, and join me in waiting for book 3. I really want to know what happens!

Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this book by the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it.

Book sold here: Eye of the Sword (Angelaeon Circle Series #2)
Author’s Web site
Author's Blog
Author's Facebook page

CSFF Website
CSFF Blog Tour Participants

Until next time!
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