26 August 2011

A real page turner

My series of blog posts on literary villains has been put on hold since real life doesn't seem to want to slow down for me and it's difficult to write about specific villains when you don't have the literature in front of you. My books are all packed up right now, ready for me to get moved into my on campus apartment tomorrow. Today, I thought I would write about a different book that doesn't fall in with my preferred genre of fantasy. Of course, after the first few chapters, I hardly noticed. The night I finished book one of G.M. Dyrek's The Seer and the Scribe series, I stayed up late to do it. I couldn't stop turning the pages and had to know what happened next. Nothing turned out the way I expected, but I was smiling by the end.

Spear of Destiny is the first book in a series that "begins where recorded history is silent" introducing characters such as Hildegard of Bingen and Volmar, a monk and scribe at the monastery at Disibodenberg. The story is set in 12th century Germany, which is a period I know I've never studied. Despite that, I had no trouble at all keeping track of what was happening in the book. Everything starts fairly suddenly, with news of Hildegard's talents as a seer that allowed her to see a murder that had taken place generations ago at the monastery. Volmar listens to her story and helps her find proof that it was true, but before they can find a way to bring the old murderer to justice, Volmar is told of a holy relic with a powerful curse. When another body turns up at the monastery, it is up to Volmar's scientific mind to find out what really happened.

The book isn't very slow to start; it seems to be just the right amount between the opening scenes and the first subplot. Foot notes are provided at the bottom to explain details of monastic life that modern readers may not understand otherwise. I don't normally read historical fiction or murder mysteries, but I already want to get a copy of the next book in the series, Methuselah's Secret. Another cool detail: the author's son and niece are the models for Volmar and Hildegard, respectively. They appear on the cover and in the pencil illustrations inside. The illustrations added another cool angle when they appeared; the black and white style seemed very complementary of the setting and time period of the story. Thank you so much to my mom over at Crazed Mind for letting me review the book. I loved it!

No money was made off of this review. It's just my opinion. :)

08 August 2011

Literary Villains

I'm contemplating a series of posts revolving around villainous characters in literature and the root of their cruel tendencies. Asking what might make a character tick is a lot like asking what makes a person tick - there are very few brief answers. I'm not sure how many blog entries this may give me. A lot of it will honestly depend on how long the topic holds my interest.

Currently, I'm planning blog entries on Tom Riddle AKA Lord Voldemort from J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, Henry Bowers from Stephen King's It, Javert from Victor Hugo's Les Miserables, Bill Sikes and Fagin from Oliver Twist, Saruman and Sauron from J.R.R. Tolkein's Lord of the Rings series, and Xayde & Gmork from Michael Ende's The Neverending Story. Any villains you'd like to see added to the list?

For the purposes of these entries, I will be examining each villain on their own. These aren't compare and contrast pieces - that may come later, just because I'd love to see Voldemort own Xayde. Lol. In these blogs, I intend to look at each villain: what makes them bad, what might explain their particular brand of evil (if any back story was provided in the original work), and why the readers so love to hate them.

Writer Woes

My 50k work from July is currently hovering around the 55k mark on word count. No chapters yet, very little editing, and a 10k scene still waiting to be re-written after it got eaten up by human error. My main character is falling rather flat and seems to be humming the same old tune and many of my villains simply refuse to make a real appearance on the page. It's possible I've got too many villains running around and not enough heroes. Yeah, that's probably it. More heroes though... That means more characters which I'll have to introduce now and then remember to add in to earlier segments once the editing begins in full force.

It's true what they say - writing can be a very lonely profession. I spent the last month writing during almost every spare moment I had. Now, in August, I'm volunteering to do the same thing. Now to remember where I left my mind... My characters may have absconded with it weeks ago.

"There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." (Hamlet, Act II, scene 2)
"Though this be madness, yet there is method in't." (Hamlet, Act II, scene 2)
"This above all: to thine own self be true." (Hamlet, Act I, scene 3)
"When writing a novel, that's pretty much entirely what life turns into: 'House burned down. Car stolen. Cat exploded. Did 1500 easy words, so all in all it was a pretty good day.'" - Neil Gaiman