Writing Wednesday: 7 Stories, 7 Days – #2

Last week I shared about my short story project, trying a different writing prompt each day and trying to complete a short story or flash fiction piece that day.  I planned to try it for seven days, and wound up writing eight short stories in nine days…one of them 9,000 words and split over two days as a consequence!

Today I’m sharing Story #2, from Day 2.  I call this one “The Once and Never King,” and it’s the only one that didn’t come from a writing prompt.  There’s a certain song that has fascinated me for years because it hints at a wonderful story–but it’s not based on a specific legend, piece of history, or anything else.  So I finally wrote the story myself.  I’d rather not tell you the song, to see if anyone can guess at it!

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They walked slowly together down one of the long boulevards branching out from the market, into the narrower, smaller streets that crowded together by the river.  One friend, then another, joined them as they went, falling into step as they all made their way towards home, done with whatever tasks they did in the bustling city to stay alive another day.

They were a kind of army, he thought sometimes.  An invisible, disregarded army, sweeping away dirt, digging ditches, chopping wood, performing a hundred, a thousand other tiny, menial tasks.  Each one insignificant, all together necessary to keep the life of the city going.

And sometimes he thought to himself that he shouldn’t put them in such terms, that he shouldn’t think of martial things anymore.  That he shouldn’t try to make his life now more important, more meaningful.  He swept the steps of a dozen people and lived from one day to the next.  That was all.

As they neared the river, the royal palace came into sight.  It was so big, so grand, with soaring towers and shining lights, marble arches and peaked roofs.  It was as beautiful and otherworldly and inaccessible as the moon.

“I lived there once,” he remarked, his eyes on the glowing windows of the palace.

He heard the soft chuckle of his friends, felt Alden pat his shoulder.  “Of course you did.”

He knew they thought him slightly mad, slightly touched, on this point at least.  He didn’t mind.  They were always kind to him, and he valued their kindness all the more, when they showed it to one they thought mad.

For a long, long time he would not have dared to say such things.  But it didn’t matter now.  The old king, the wicked king, had been killed a dozen times, was living in exile in a dozen places.  Everyone was sure that the wicked king that was had gone far, far away, in this life or into the next.  And after years of sweeping streets and living rough, with accumulated layers of rags and dust, with his hair faded and his back bending, he no longer looked like the imperious monarch who had once sat on the throne.

Book Review: The Golden Road

I never closed the loop on this one from the January L. M. Montgomery reading challenge.  I reviewed The Story Girl, then went on to reread its sequel, The Golden Road.  I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked the first book…and then got more clarity of my earlier impressions by rereading the second book.

The sequel picks up much where the last book ended, and continues in the same style.  The children of the King family ramble around their family farm and orchard: Dan, Felicity and Cecily, hired boy Peter Craig, neighbor Sara Ray, Toronto cousins Beverly (a boy, despite the name–also the narrator) and Felix, and cousin The Story Girl, so nicknamed because of her telling of stories.

On a surface level this book matches the previous one, but once you scratch said-surface it isn’t really the same after all.  It’s still a lot of light-hearted stories about a group of children in Prince Edward Island, and the stories still centered around Montgomery staples like family gossip, school trials, the local colorful character Peg Bowen (who the children are convinced must be a witch), and the raptures of nature.

Despite all that, I rather think the sequel has been letting its predecessor down.  I’ve always read these books as a unit before, never stopping to analyze them separately, which I think is why I never realized how good The Story Girl is…because The Golden Road doesn’t live up to it.

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Blog Hop: Paper or Pixels?

book-blogger-hop-finalToday’s Book Blogger Hop question is: Have you made the switch from print to e-books? Is either one exclusive?

I am still holding out with paper books.  Too much of my life involves a screen: professionally, in my personal projects (writing, blogging, and so on) and in my entertainment (TV).  I still like looking at paper when I read.

I get it, though.  I understand the appeal of carrying many, many books in a light-weight fashion.  Right now I’m reading an 1,100 page behemoth that even in paperback has some weight to it.  I find myself less likely to wax poetic about the joy of paper and the smell of old books (although it is a nice smell) than I might have done five or ten years ago.  I feel like the big ebook vs. paper book debate has actually settled down.

People got intense when ebooks first arrived.  Now it seems like people have settled into their preferences, and ebooks have not been the death of paper books.  Which is nice.  Because I still like reading on paper instead of looking at a screen.  And I still don’t trust that digital books I buy will remain accessible as long as my paper books.

I have gone over to digital audiobooks.  And that is nice, to just download books from the library onto my phone, instantly, and carry them around.  I may get into ebooks some day, especially borrowed from the library.  But for now?  I still like paper.

Writing Wednesday: 7 Stories, 7 Days – #1

I recently read The Creative Life by Julia Cameron, which is mostly not important to this post, except that her roommate tried a project of writing 90 songs in 90 days.  And that got me thinking.  I don’t write songs and I don’t have 90 days for a project, because I need to get back to revisions on Book 2 of the Phantom trilogy–but I could respond to seven flash fiction prompts in seven days and see what happened.

Today I’m on Day 6.  I haven’t written yet today, but so far I’ve written five short stories in five days.  None of them ended up being flash fiction (1000 words or less), mostly clocking in around 2,000, but aiming for flash fiction has still taken some pressure off, and helped me rein in my tendency to elaborate and convolute.  When I need to finish the story today, I have to figure out the ending almost as soon as I begin.

And I’ve been having a lot of fun with this.  I’ve written a few stories quite different from my usual style, explored some interesting ideas, and created some things I like.  In only five days!  I thought I’d share what I’ve been creating over the next several weeks. Continue reading “Writing Wednesday: 7 Stories, 7 Days – #1”

Movie Review: When We First Met

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/c/c7/When_We_First_Met.pngI was lately looking for something fun to watch on an afternoon, and decided after browsing Netflix to give When We First Met a chance.  Partially the premise was interesting, but also I wanted to see if I could repeat the magic of Netflix’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.  And while I think that was a better movie, I was pleasantly impressed by this one too.

A time-travel romantic comedy, I freely admit this premise had the potential to be a little bit skeevy.  Noah has been carrying a torch for his friend Avery for three years, and hits rock bottom at her engagement party to Ethan.  He’s convinced that if he could just go back to the night he and Avery met, a Halloween party where they shared an instant connection, he could get it right this time to start a romance instead of a friendship.  Thanks to a time-travel photo booth, he gets the chance to try, traveling back to that fateful night.  Repeatedly.

There’s a little bit of Groundhog Day here, in that Noah keeps reliving the same night and trying to do something different each time, but with a very cool twist.  After each Halloween party, Noah bounces back to the present, the morning of Avery’s engagement party, and gets to see the effects of the choices he made.  His life (and Avery’s life) becomes radically different each time depending on how that crucial night went.  Not too surprisingly, he makes everything worse the first time.  And the second time.  And…  You get the idea.  I loved seeing the (admittedly slightly exaggerated) effects of his choices as each possibility plays out.

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Friday Face-Off: An Old World

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Time again for the Friday Face-Off meme, created by Books by Proxy, with weekly topics hosted by Lynn’s Book Blog.  The idea is to put up different covers for one book, and select a favorite.

This week’s theme is: “Woe, destruction, ruin, and decay; the worst is death and death will have his day.” – A cover with abandoned building/s

I’m going to fudge a little bit here, because the book that immediately came to mind is The Magician’s Nephew by C. S. Lewis, with the fantastic and fascinating old world of the White Queen.  There’s something about the ancient ruins of the dying world that grabbed me–but apparently not cover artists!   By contrast, I don’t even remember the flying horse that shows up on a good half of the covers out there…

This is the only cover I could find with anything at all of the White Queen’s ruined palace, and frankly it doesn’t look remotely the way I pictured it.  I was seeing more marble and sandstone, and smoother, grander structures than this.  More ancient Rome, less Middle Ages.

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Book and Movie Review: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

As part of my goal to read more love stories in 2019, I decided to give To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han a chance.  I really enjoyed the movie version, so I figured it was worth trying the book–even though I wasn’t really a fan of The Summer I Turned Pretty, also by Jenny Han.  Well.  It turned out this was one of the rare times when the movie really was better than the book.

The fundamental premise of both the book and the movie is slightly absurd–teenager Lara Jean writes love letters to her crushes, not to send them, but just to put her feelings into words.  She writes them, addresses them, and then puts them away to save.  But then her letters get mailed by mistake–including the one to Josh, her sister’s (very recently) ex-boyfriend.  In a panic to hide her feelings for Josh, Lara Jean tries to convince him that she’s really in love with Peter, one of her other letter recipients.  Peter just broke up with his long-time girlfriend, and suggests that he and Lara Jean pretend to date, to make his ex jealous and to throw Josh off the track.

Like I said, it’s kind of absurd, but worth going along with.  At least in the movie, which had a lot I liked.  It’s a cute, funny teenage romantic comedy, with a silly premise but believable and likable characters.  I like that it has a lot of diversity–Lara Jean and her two sisters are biracial, Korean and Caucasian; besides their parents’ interracial relationship, none of the guys she crushes on are Asian.  Mostly white, one is African-American (and gay).  But what I liked best was that Lara Jean used her words, a lot.

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