Posts Tagged: books

Writing and Reading

While I have been on my Big-Five-Oh birthday gift to myself writing retreat, I have also been reading. So far, I have worked my way through a re-read of the whole Ben Aaronvitch’s Rivers of London series and I am nearly finished with re-reading Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series (minus the more recent co-author or other author Pern books).

Why am I rereading books I have already read many times before, particularly in the case of the Pern books? I am reading them not just for the joy of the story but also to see and analyze how two authors who I admire have constructed their stories and series as a whole and from various writing perspectives.

What this past two months of reading and writing has shown or revealed to me is that I have a preference for multiple person point of view / main character stories or at least multiple threads of story interwoven over a single main character’s point of view with one story arc.

McCaffrey’s Pern books are almost always, with the exception of the YA books, multiple main characters with multiple threads of story. While Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series is from the POV of PC Peter Grant, each book weaves in multiple strands of story, including one series long story thread. One of the things that I also like about Jane Austen books is that by and large her stories are also ensemble stories, even if we see the story from the POV of one or two main characters.

The novel length story I wrote from 2015-2017, A Quiver Full, was a multiple character POV story. I started writing it as a short story for a writing challenge and it was originally written from the POV of two characters, after I expanded it to novel length – several more characters demanded their share of the conversation and stage time. After the fact, I got the feedback from a reader that it should have more of the romance of just two characters and not so much of the other stuff.

After finishing writing A Quiver Full, I printed it out, then I put it up on a shelf for a bit of aging before I reread it and started rewriting. It was six weeks on the shelf when I received the above feedback, which hit me enough of the wrong way that the first draft has stayed on the shelf and I started writing a whole new novel in December of 2017.

This second novel is from one character’s point of view. It is meant to be a humorous mildly unreliable narrator story wherein by the end the reader should be questioning if the main character really was all that and more or if we want our hero to be heroic rather than a mere man. Now more than seventy percent of the way through writing the story, I find myself longing for more strands of story – not in the novel I am writing now but in general.

Then it hit me about a week ago, as I was knee deep in my Pern reread that I prefer multiple characters with third person limited POVs in the plural to one or two main characters. I want more story, I want more points of view, and I want to be stretched. When I return back to California, I will be ready to take A Quiver Full off the shelf and start the rewrite.

But before I can do that, I have got to finish writing my one guy and his POV story.

Tidbits for Palm Sunday

The Snow, it is falling and falling this weekend in Mammoth
Sun. 04.09.17 – The Snow, it is falling and falling this weekend in Mammoth – photo by Ms. Jen with her Lumia 950

Tidbits for a Sunday afternoon’s reading:

The Art and Design of End Papers

The beautiful choral music of Suor Leonora d’Este

Thinker, tailor, soldier, spy: The extraordinary women of Ghiyas-ud-din Khalji’s harem

Erica Wilson, The Julia Child of Needlework

Which led to the Queen’s Coronation Gown and her Maids of Honor, then and now:
1. http://orderofsplendor.blogspot.com/2012/02/flashback-friday-queens-coronation-gown.html
2. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2089887/The-Pippas-day-aristocratic-beauties-stole-the-Coronation-60-years-ago-Now-share-scenes-stories.html
3. http://www.radiotimes.com/news/2013-04-21/the-queens-coronation-day-maids-of-honour-where-are-they-now

A book review that is a good read in and of itself:The Souls of China by Ian Johnson – the resurgence of religion after Mao

“Johnson spends weeks with Taoist musicians, whose ritual performances bring the deceased “over to the other side”. He attends an unregistered Christian church in western China that challenges the party’s claim to be moral arbiter of society. He dines with celebrity Zen Buddhists, who dispense wisdom to real estate developers, the offspring of party aristocracy, executives and bank managers. He practises qigong – religious breathing exercises and meditation – with a master in an apartment block reserved for once-persecuted party elders rehabilitated after Mao’s death. With nicely understated irony, Johnson weaves the political rituals of the self-proclaimed atheistic CCP through this calendar: its conferences held in the Great Hall of the People, a communist temple saturated with legitimising ritual symbols; the intensely ritualistic departures and ascensions of communist leaders. “Like a Taoist priest,” he observes of Hu Jintao anointing a successor at the 18th party congress in November 2012, “Hu emulated an immortal … dyeing his hair jet-black to make himself look ageless, and surrounding himself with propaganda banners conferring immortality on the Communist party.””

Note to Self: Go on one of these UK walks
It’s blooming spring! 22 great UK walks

After spending so much time in Arizona the past two years, this article on living in Arizona is spot on.
Mike Powell : Why I live Where I liveZonies: Part 7
with a link to Walter Percy’s Why I Live Where I Live

Unusually strong April storm headed for Northern California this week : This storm was fun. I spent it up at Mammoth. My Instagram documents: 1, 2, 3, 4

Oh, Lonely Planet, you are so near perfect…

When I first started traveling in college, I loved the “Let’s Go” series of travel guides as they led to one to the cheapest of the cheap all over Europe. Sometime in my mid-to-late twenties they failed to satisfy and I moved my travel guide book loyalty to the Lonely Planet series. Lonely Planet had a wider range of budget, moderate, and higher priced options for each town, as well as write ups on more of the history and points of interest, less of “Let’s Go”s nightlife and ultra-cheap focus.
I find Fodors guide books to be too stuffy, the DK guides to be very broad in terms of photos and visual diagrams but missing in actually moderate priced places to stay. So, I have kept my loyalty the last ten years to Lonely Planet. In 2004, I purchased the Lonely Planet Ireland guide and it was my faithful companion on Erika & I’s 2004 Thanksgiving trip to Ireland, as well as my year at Trinity College, Dublin. But most of the Lonely Planet guide books I have used are written mostly by locals, not travelers, thus big bits are left out, the bits that locals wouldn’t care about but travelers would.
Here is my list of things that I would love Lonely Planet to change, fix or cover in their otherwise excellent travel guide books:
1) No hotels near the major airports are ever listed. Not in the Ireland LP, not in the London LP, not in the Spain, nor Andalucia, nor Scotland, nor… Sometimes the most practical thing when you have an early departure or late arrival is stay within a mile or two of the airport. Lonely Planet, please put in a few airport hotels or B&Bs for each major airport. Thanks.
2) Area codes or Full Phone Numbers next to listings: The Lonely Planet guides list country phone codes in the back, and major area codes at the section head, but not next to the listing. While driving two nights ago, we were flipping to 3 separate section trying to get the full number to dial from my mobile to find a B&B to stay at. Very frustrating, esp. when one’ mobile’s sim chip is not from the same country as one is in.
3) Lonely Planet, please list wifi (wireless internet) locations, free wifi and for pay. This matters. Not just internet cafes or which places to stay have a stand alone computer, but please list wifi for every one of the listings in your books that has wifi. One of the hotels we stayed at in Ireland this last week had free wifi, one had none, and one had paid wifi. I would have booked my stay with preference for internet connection. All the better to blog with and finish up the client loose ends. kthnxbai.
4) Please list more neo-lithic, bronze age, and iron age or other non-major historical sites in the UK & Ireland. If you are a local writer for these guides, you probably think Americans or Germans or Italians are nuts for going to visit old hunks of rock out in muddy fields. These old sites are delightful and really worth exploring. Please list with some directions and explanations.
I am writing this from the Dublin airport where Mom and I are waiting to fly to London Heathrow to start our week in Southern England. I went to the big bookstore in the Dublin Airport mall to get a Lonely Planet England or UK guide so we can know where we are going and where we are going to stay. In an interesting twist, the whole section of travel guides at the airport had Mexico, California, Peru, Egypt, New Zealand, and many other smaller countries, but did not have a single travel guide for the UK, England or Wales. London (3 different publishers), Scotland (2 types) and Edinburgh, but no England or UK…
Hopefully, a bookstore at Heathrow will have a Lonely Planet England. ;o)