Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: "By the way..."

"... Thank you. For saving my life."
"... You're welcome."

Yes, I watch Disney's Beauty and the Beast too often. Sorry. But that's what this scene is, in Rose and Avar's version of this story.

Also, it's only about a page and a half away from the last teaser. I've been trying to tease from different chapters all the time, but the writing has been slow of late. I hope to change that this weekend (huzzah Labor Day!).

In any case, enjoy!

Rose is being stared and whispered at by a circle of werewolves and she feels trapped (something she really doesn't like).



Sunday, August 29, 2010

Fantasy Please?

Hello, blogsphere! I'm back in Ithaca! *dances* Classes may very well drown me with homework this semester! *stops dancing and hides*

Anyway, I've been mulling this post over for a few days and I should finally just sit down and write it (before all that homework falls on me). I seem to have a habit of watching movies a LOT right before I go back to school. The summer before freshman year I watched half a dozen Disney movies on YouTube in a kind of "lalala I can't hear you I'm not leaving home what is this nonsense lalala" way.

This summer, however, I rewatched some of The Lord of the Rings trilogy (extended edition, of course) and some of the special features. I was reminded why I was so completely obsessed with LotR in middle school (seriously, I dressed up as a Ringwraith for Halloween in seventh grade), but it also made me think.

Why is fantasy never taught in school?

Okay, okay, I know one of the major reasons - fantasy is LONG. I mean, if you need twelve hours of movie time to cover the subject material of a book and there's significant stuff that got left out, that's a pretty long book and probably not good for an English class setting.

But... have you looked at how long Hamlet is? You can't get away with not teaching Hamlet, even if it is long!

When Ella and I went to the panel discussion hosted by Neil Gaiman in New York City, one of the writers, Kat Howard (who I believe is studying for her teaching degree?), mentioned to her colleagues that she wanted to teach a Shakespeare play as a fantasy. Her colleagues all looked at her as though she had three heads and said "but Shakespeare is good."

Implying, of course, that fantasy is inherently not good.

Don't get me wrong, I love Shakespeare and I think there's a lot to learn from it. But I also think there's a lot to be learned from fantasy. After all, there's no better genre to showcase the importance of symbolism, allegory, metaphor. Fantasies of all kinds are just chock full of that.

Again, take LotR. I know Tolkien did not intend for it to be an allegory of WWII, but it can be read that way, and I think that's a very interesting angle to consider. And if you look at the Scouring of the Shire segments, it's got an environmental twist to it - the old-style, natural beauty of the Shire is threatened by orcs and industry at once.

I suppose some people might ask about the relevance of teaching about books where people run around in armor casting magic spells at each other, but if I can bring up an environmental concern in a book published in 1954, then I think there is a lot of relevance in fantasy, no matter what the setting. I think there are a lot of ideals in fantasy worth teaching. Isn't Sam's big speech in The Two Towers all about the good in the world that is worth fighting for? I think that is a noble ideal - why is fantasy not even discussed when so often that is the central crux of the story?

To a lesser extent, sci-fi is also ignored in English classes, but you do get some of that, whereas fantasy isn't represented at all. People read 1984 and Brave New World in English class - I even had an English class last semester that was ALL sci-fi (but that's college, which is decidedly more awesome than high school). Why can't fantasy edge in? How cool would it be to read The Golden Compass for English class - doesn't that have just as many "coming of age" themes as some of the classics we read in high school?

The Golden Compass also has one thing that almost every book I read for class in high school lacks - a female protagonist. Now, I know that fantasy (unless it's YA fantasy, which often makes a deliberate point to put girls into the spotlight) also usually has male main characters, but unlike books like A Separate Peace and All Quiet on the Western Front, girls are actually, you know, present. Which is nice. Eowyn kills the Witchking - and does it because she is a woman and not a man. How awesome is that?

So, I think English classes should stop ignoring fantasy. I think English teachers should take on a book like The Golden Compass (which you could probably teach without needing to read the second two books in the trilogy) and see what happens. Maybe doing something different from the usual lineup of classics would actually get more kids interested in reading. Even if it doesn't, I think there is a lot to learn from fantasy and that it should not be relegated solely to the realm of nerds who read for fun (which is a good place, don't get me wrong). I think everyone could benefit from a healthy dose of fantasy.

What do you think?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: Desperation

Hi guys! *waves* I'm back in Ithaca! Yay! Classes start tomorrow... boo. But today I'm going to just be decorating my dorm room and catching up on some writing things, hopefully, before I get sucked into the world of homework and never have time ever again.

Maybe what I will do today is sit down and force myself to actually bloody outline this novel. Because I really need to do that if I want to keep working on it. I can't just flounder my way through it anymore.

I did finally get some work on it done the other day, though, which was exciting. Short bit today, in which Rose is desperate to the point of begging to go home. It doesn't quite work out as planned.

Oh, have I introduced Avar's older brother on the blog yet? Vartan's a creeper.




Thursday, August 19, 2010

Bad Caitlin

I apologize, blogsphere. I've been a bit of a failure when it comes to blogging lately.

I meant to write a review of I Am the Messenger and/or Thirteenth Child. I didn't.

I meant to actually sit down and power through my spot of "oh bother, what in the world comes next in this dratted story?!?!" and write something so I could tease. I didn't.

I believe that all of this is due to the case of back-to-school mopes that hit me pretty hard. Actually, I meant to write about that as well (sorry, Tahereh, that's what I meant about the you-esque post). About dealing with writerly and otherwise moping with lots of tea and mom-hugs (Mom, you're the best ever) and some really good Nerdfighter music.

But guess what? I didn't do that either.

What I DID do was watch an awful lot of YouTube videos, talk a lot to this girl here, receive several more form rejections in my querying inbox, and rewrite my query.

So, since said query is the only thing productive I've done in days, and because I quite like this version and would like to make sure it is brilliant and shiny and ready to send out, I shall post it here!

Get out your red pens, readers. :)

Dear Agent o' Awesome:

When Emily Bell is taken from school into London society, she is miserable. Leaving behind her life of books and magic to please her disapproving Mamma also means leaving charming Oliver Wycliffe, a boy she has known for some time and has come to love. She tries to hide her misery along with her magic, writing only portions of the truth to her best friend and her sister. It is only in her unsent letters to Oliver that she feels she can truly be herself, a self she is rapidly losing amidst the London fog.

Emily is jolted out of that fog when Oliver is turned into a white rabbit and disappears, and an untrustworthy magician by the name of Mr. Stanton asks for her assistance with a spell. She discovers that her spell is to be used for dark purposes, and she is the only one who can stop him. Desperate to find Oliver before she loses her love to a cat, and feeling guilty for her rash decision to help Mr. Stanton, Emily must disobey her mother and use her magic. But it also means leaving the safety of her books and risking everything – and Emily’s newfound strength might not be up to the task.

LETTERS TO OLIVER is a YA historical fantasy in epistolary form, complete at 60,000 words, which I hope will appeal to fans of A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY and SORCERY & CECELIA.

I am also working on another YA novel which involves the French Revolution and werewolves.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: The Beginning

So since productivity has not been my middle name of late, I thought I'd show you the opening paragraphs of A Bridge to War. After all, opening lines are important. Would these catch your eye if you were browsing in a bookstore?



Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Things for August

So, hallo blogsphere! (Apparently that's actually blogosphere, but I thing blogsphere sounds nicer, don't you?)

Guys, how did it get to be August already? Seriously, it seems like I was frantically pounding out the last pieces of Letters to Oliver only a few weeks ago - and that was in May! Time flies when it's summer...

I go back to school on the 23rd, and of course am excited to go back and have cool classes and be in the amazing place that is Ithaca and see all my friends. But I will miss home, and I am still enjoying summer very much, and I am taking two writing classes that I fear will grossly interfere with my personal writing time. Ah well. Such is life.

Anyway, a few random notes before returning to our normally scheduled programming.

The first is that the lovely and talented Vee of Ramblings of a Writer is having a contest! I have experienced her skill as a beta and would love one of those fifty-page critiques she's offering!

The second is regarding regularly scheduled programming. I have two more book reviews I might do (I Am the Messenger definitely; Starclimber maybe), as well as weekly teasers of course. I'm also feeling a post in the mode of Tahereh in the near future.

But I'm not making this blog for me (although comments are nice I love comments yaaaaay comments). I believe the whole point of putting content on the internet, whether it be Blogger or YouTube or what-have-you, is to start a discussion. To connect with people that don't live near you or share different views, people you would not ordinarily be able to talk to. To toss your ideas out and see what other people think.

So. My question to you is, what do you want to discuss?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: You Confuse Me

Hey guys!

So, remember that scene I kept promising you guys?


Just to clarify: Vartan, Avar's brother, is quite good with magic. To keep Rose from running away he put an invisible barrier that she can't pass through around the werewolf camp.