Wednesday, November 5, 2014

IWSG - NaNoWriMo 2014


This year, I am participating in National Novel Writing Month. I have tried before but never really made it past the first week. In truth, I don’t think I’ve ever written more than 15,000 words in a month before. Luckily for me, though, this year I have plenty of pressure from friends, family, and especially work. I will be blogging about my progress (as well as giving tips and advice) on Foreword Reviews’s website (where I work as Deputy Editor) and tweeting about it (probably too much) as well.

Good luck to everyone participating this year!

Peace, Aimee

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

IWSG - Opportunities to Achieve Goals and Reach Fulfillment


It’s that time again, and though I said in my last IWSG that I was determined to finish my first draft by the end of the year, I have not accomplished much in it. I am not on track to finish, at the rate I had intended, so I will really have to up my game to get it done on time.

The thing is, I didn’t honestly expect myself to be on track one month into my venture. I’m truly lacking some perseverance quality or something. Because of this, my biggest writing fear is that I will never finish a novel worth publishing, that I will not be able to accomplish the thing I knew when I first picked up a book as a toddler that I needed to do with my life. After watching John Green’s latest VlogBrothers video yesterday, in which he claimed to not know what to do with his life, I have been unable to decide if I am relieved or unnerved. If someone who has accomplished great things and achieved much of his life goals is still afraid that they aren’t doing enough, then what is it I need to do?

I must say, I am actually more relieved than unnerved by John Green’s words. I’m certain that, even if I achieve something even remotely close to his books’ popularity, I too would still feel like I haven’t achieved yet my life goal. It’s just the way humans work. It’s the way the world works. We don’t finish our big project and then be happy the rest of our life. Goals come ago, happiness comes and goes, and achieving something doesn’t mean you’re finished.

Let’s hope this knowledge helps me complete this draft by the end of the year. I know I will feel replete for a while when I’m done, but that feeling will fade, and soon I’ll have others opportunities to write and bring happiness to others—and myself.

Peace, Aimee

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

IWSG - What I'm Doing for the Rest of 2014


Over the summer, I attempted to write a piece of flash fiction each week, but I didn’t entirely succeed. I cheated a bit, and when I did not have something new, I posted an old flash fiction piece on that day. I do feel slightly guilty about that…

However, I am vowing to write regularly for the rest of the year, with the goal of finishing the first draft of a book by the end of December 2014. The projected word count is 120,000 words, which is obviously too long for a novel, but it’s a draft, so that’s okay. I’m sure the story will change a bit as I write and see how things work out concretized rather than in its current outline form. I already have about 30,000 words written, so I will have to write approximately 90,000 words (projected, according to my outline, of course) in the next four months. This will be the most I’ve ever written within a set time period before in my life, so I am bit frightened… But I will keep you updated in my Insecure Writer Support Group posts!

Thanks for reading and wishing me luck!
Aimee

Friday, August 29, 2014

Books I Read This Month - August 2014

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

A mentally challenged man undergoes surgery to improve his intelligence in this novel, but it does not quite turn out exactly how he or the scientists expected. This is one of those classic books that had been sitting on my shelf for a while and that I knew I would have to read eventually, but when I finally got to it, I didn’t realize that it was going to be so well written and moving. The author perfectly captures the main character’s voice and emotions as he goes through this experience, using the medium of a journal to describe the events over the course of several months and what he thinks about his mental development, relationships, and work life. His family history also plays an important part in his emotional development over the course of the novel. The book discusses some important themes of where intelligence comes from and what makes us happy in life, though I wouldn’t say I was satisfied with the ending. Overall, it was an engaging read that I would recommend for people who enjoy science and thoughtful books.

The Little Friend by Donna Tartt

In this book, a young girl named Harriet aims to solve the cold case of her older brother’s murder, which took place when she was only six months old. Harriet is very smart for her age but has trouble making friends and getting along with her family members because of her snarky, sarcastic, and smart-alecky personality. She constantly is asking why, which makes her annoying to the people around her but makes her a compelling protagonist, especially in the literary mystery genre. There is a pervasive To Kill a Mockingbird vibe here, which makes this a relatable read, as it follows the coming of age of a girl learning about the adult world a bit before she is ready for it. The first quarter or so of the book seems to consist of a lot more telling than showing, but it’s done in such a way that it come across as skilled storytelling. Tartt knows how to tell a great story with well developed characters. The writing style is clear and concise, not involving a lot of elegant, literary turns of phrase, which is sort of what I was expecting based on what I heard about the author and the fact that she has won big literary prizes. It's mostly the storytelling that makes this book a good read.

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami

This is Haruki Murakami’s latest book, which just came out this month. Of course, it was amazing, as to be expected from Murakami. Also, you should expect me to say it was amazing because he is one of my favorite writers. As a character, Tsukuru Tazaki is similar to many of Murakami’s protagonists in that he is a youngish loner who is in love with an independent woman but who is going through some sort of existential crisis. The plot of this book is easier to follow than some of Murakami’s other books, and it seems to have a bit fewer surrealist elements, even as it involves dreams and an exploration of the past. While I wouldn’t say it’s unique amongst Murakami’s books, it is certainly worth the read and has only reinforced my enjoyment of his work on the whole. Murakami has been and continues to be an important influence on my own writing.

Dune by Frank Herbert

I am not one to read soft science fiction or fantasy like this, but I felt the need to read this since it is considered a classic in the genre. I loved it, surprisingly, as the plot developed gradually and understandably, and the main characters were all well developed and empathetic. I can see why it’s such a popular and distinguished book. It takes place on a strange desert planet where a royal boy named Paul goes with his parents to learn the ways of a rare supernatural group of people to which his mother belongs (a bit like the Jedi). However, there is an evil man who wants to kill Paul's father, called the Duke---I'll be honest, I wasn't entirely clear on his intentions. Despite this latter fact, though, I found all the characters to be well rounded and entertaining to read about. I will continue reading the series, though probably not right away.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Proximity, Part 3 of 3 (A Summer of Flash Fiction #13)

“I said go,” Krane repeated. The muscles in her arms were beginning to loosen, to relax in uncertainty.

“I want to ask. I’d like to know,” Amma said, averting her gaze. She shifted her feet, as if she too wanted to leave, but something was stopping her. “Are you lost? Or are you sneaking around like me? You let me do what I came here to do, so I want to help you. Do you need to get back to the barracks?”

“No. Please leave before I change my mind and decide to report you.”

A smirk snuck across the girl’s face. “That doesn’t seem like something you are going to do. I bet you know as well as I do that even wardens aren’t allowed back here on their own.”

“I know the rules. Why won’t you just go?”

“Why won’t you loosen up? We’re both here without permission. You’re not in charge of me, you know. We can help each other.” She lifted her chin and raised her eyebrows. With her spine straight, she was taller than Krane, her long, thin limbs lifting her high above Krane’s five and a half feet.

“I don’t need your help,” Krane said.

“I don’t believe you. Now tell me your name. I told you mine.”

“Mariángel,” Krane spat out, submitting to Amma’s unrelenting pressure. It was her grandmother’s name, the first that came to her mind. “Now will you go, please?”

Amma’s eyes lit up, her smile shining briefly and smugly. “That wasn’t so hard, was it?”

With a slight, ambivalent shrug, Krane shook her head. “Are you going to leave now?” She said, sounding even to herself a broken record.

“If you really want me to.”

Krane paused, then let out a sigh. She lowered her head, looking down at her black boots, new and shining. In a few days, they would be covered in mud from training outside—if she could find her way out of here.

“You know, Marie,” Amma said with a smile, and Krane cringed at the name, spoken in such an Americanized, almost teasing way. “We’re both being secretive, which means that neither of us has to be, to each other, at least. Since we know we’re not going to tell anybody we were here.”

The girl’s optimism, her innocence, was starting to irritate Krane. When Amma took a few more steps closer, Krane stiffened and backed up against the wall. She could feel her cheeks going hot with frustration and fear.

“You’ve got me curious now,” said Amma, but before she could continue pestering Krane, the light above the door leading to the locks switched from red to amber, and the sound of air rushing in to destroy the vacuum boomed.

“Hide,” Krane yelped, lurching forward and pushing Amma into the storage cell opposite her. Krane ducked into room twenty-one, watching Amma across the hallway as her eyes grew wide with terror and she crouched behind the boxes. Only the top of her blonde head was visible over the crates of lost toys and trinkets.

The door hissed open. From her hiding place, Krane could see Clark enter the room but hold the door open with his bulky, muscular arm. His hard expression, his lips tight and his forehead creased, was betrayed by the shaking fingers of his free hand, his wrists shivering violently with fear.

Krane stepped out from behind the crates.

“Clark,” she said in a muted voice, using his name instead of his title, as was expected from a trainee. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry. You left me there.”

“Jesus, Decleric,” he blurted. The lines in his face fell into momentary relief. “We need to get out of here.”

He grabbed her arm and yanked her through the door, giving her only a brief moment to shoot her gaze toward Amma’s location. She was invisible, still hidden.

The door closed behind them, and they were safe in the locks.

“You breathe one breath in there,” Clark said, gripping Krane tightly by both shoulders, “and everyone in this fortress could be dead within days. Do you really want to have that on your conscience?” Clark’s eyes darted back and forth between Krane’s, and she could feel his own breath, heaving and Immune, warming her collar bones.

“No sir,” she said.“Then we need to get out of here.” He released his grip on her shoulders and began marching, which quickly morphed into a quiet run, down the dark hall. Shaking, Krane followed.