Friday, April 29, 2011

Books I Read This Month - April 2011

Please submit your entry for the character contest today! Today is the last day! I'll announce the winners on Monday.

Didn't read very much this month again! I'm falling behind on my 100 books in a year goal...

The Corrections - Jonathan Franzen
I read Freedom a couple months ago. It's amazing how this guy can say so much about the American way of family life and society while focusing only on one family and their struggles. Both of those books are like that, but they are drastically different at the same time. He's a great writer. I'll definitely have to read his other stuff some time.

The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde
I read this because (cough, cough) I saw the movie, and it reminded a bit about my current WIP. Plus it's a classic, and Oscar Wilde is awesome. "The Importance of Being Earnest" is one of the funniest things I've ever read. But this book was really good. It said lots of interesting things about art and karma and stuff. I would totally recommend it if you haven't read it yet.

Night Train - Martin Amis
Martin Amis is my new favorite author. I think this guy is a genius. I read Time's Arrow a while back, and I think it made me tack a #9 onto my top 8 favorite books. Night Train was a good book, easier to read than Time's Arrow, but it is about suicide, so...

Mangrove Squeeze - Laurence Shames
Personally, it wasn't for me. I felt like the Russian mafia thing had been done before. But there were some funny bits in there that made me laugh. And there were these two homeless guys that I think made the story. I'd recommend it if you want a funny detective story rather than a serious one.

The Information - Martin Amis
Another Martin Amis. Be prepared for more Martin Amis because I went to Borders the other day and bought some Martin Amis. He's cool. And really smart. And English. This book, The Information, proved to me even more how awesome this guy is. He's an amazing writer who can take the most complex human emotions, splatter them on the page, and create this epic monster of a story to explain the root of human behavior. (Both Night Train and Time's Arrow are novellas, less than 200 pages, but they are epic monsters, I'm telling you.) So yeah.

Peace, Aimee

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Why Write?

My sister recently won an award for a creative non-fiction piece and had to submit 100 words or less to our local newspaper to the prompt: why do you write? She came running to me (I was so flattered) begging me to help her answer this question, and then I (all jealous because I've never won anything for writing, and she never ever writes anything, but this was probably sibling rivalry more than writer's envy) asked her, well, why do you write?

And I started to think. Hmmm. Why do I write?

I kind of discussed it a little bit in my post a couple weeks ago, called Do You Have A Muse? but there's more to it. Perhaps I am risking my dignity here by sounding all new-agey, but here is why I write:

I write to reveal the contents of my soul and the soul of all human beings. They are like genies in bottles, yearning for a conduit to express their true nature. Everyone has something they love. Some people love sports. Some people love painting. Some people love children. When we are around the things we love or do the things we love to do, we are letting this genie out of its bottle, letting the transcendent magic out into the world, making the world a better place. If we can find the thing that we can use to reveal the truth of human existence, then anything can happen.

Why do you write? How do you express yourself?

On a completely different note, today is the last day for my character contest. It hasn't been a successful contest, so I'm ending it now to avoid embarrassment. Details are here.

But off the record, I'll still be accepting submissions until my post on Friday. On the record, the contest is closed, but off the record, I want you guys to have my little voice in your head going 'please, submissions, friends, send it to me at cheesepuff5292@yahoo.com before Friday 29 April 2011, I'll take anything, anything I tell you!'

But seriously, the contest is closed. (wink)

Peace, Aimee

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Surface and Deeper

I would like to remind you of my Character Contest that is going on! I'd really appreciate it if you participated! Take a look at the link!

Every story has a surface: plot, character, setting, storyline, etc. But every story (or every good story, that is) has a deeper meaning.

For example, Jack Kerouac's On the Road is about some guy following this wild crazy hobo around the country doing stuff just for kicks. It's fun and sometimes painful, an all around good story. But it's really about the search for inner happiness in a world suppressing individual freedom. Gene Brewer's K-PAX is about some nut claiming to be an alien who gets tossed into the loony bin and ends up making the psychiatrist and the other patients examine their own ridiculous situations. But it's really about how love and pain shake us to our very core, along with all sorts of messages about questioning government and family structure and societal rules. The television series LOST (rest in peace, my friend) is about a group of people who crash on a mysterious island with polar bears and electromagnetic fields and immortal beings and mystical healing powers and a giant smoke monster that eats people, and the peoples' journey of, well, getting off the island. But it's really about how everything in life is so complicated and stupid and really screwed up and nonsensical and useless, except for love, which is the only transcendent, interpersonal, um, thing, for the lack of a better word.

So, when you read (or watch TV or movies) do you look at the surface for entertainment or do you look deeper for enlightenment?

If you can't tell from this post, I fall under the latter category, which is probably why I'm so messed up in the head, insane in the membrane, or any other phrase that describes a crazy person.

Also, when you write, do you write the story first, or do you write with a specific message in mind?

Once again, I am the latter. But I'm not preachy... It's kind of a tricky thing to do.

Peace, Aimee

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Character Contest!

Hello everyone! Character is the most important part of any story, don't you think? Because I think character is the most important part of any story, I've decided to do a little contest about character just for fun. I will describe two characters and you shall write 1000 words or less and email it to me at cheesepuff5292@yahoo.com by 22 April 2011. That's next Friday, folks.

It can be anything: flash fiction, a poem, a short screenplay, stream of consciousness, whatever — hey, draw a picture! they are after all worth a thousand words! — as long as it is 1000 words or less and revolves around the two characters I will describe to you after these brief messages...

I will announce the winner(s) on the following Monday, 25 April 2011 and on the 27th I will post my own little character-oriented story. The winner(s) (the number of winners depends on the number of contestants and/or how good the stories are) will be rewarded for their artistry of character by having their little story posted on this here blog on the 25th, if they want it here anyway. They should probably get something else, too, like a 1000 word detailed critique from me, not the thing they wrote for this contest, but like a piece of their WIP or something along those lines. In addition to this, the winners will also receive via synapses in their brain the gratification of knowing that they are very good at developing interesting characters in such a small amount of space and creating an intriguing story that is driven by those characters and the conflicts between them. I know that is a prize I would love to receive!

There will be consolation prizes too. I will respond to everyone's email with a little blurb about what I think of your submission. Just a paragraph probably unless I am so intrigued that I ramble on and on, which happens to me sometimes. Everyone who submits something will get this, including the winners. I'll tell you what I like about it, I'll give constructive criticism, and maybe I'll ask a question or two if I have any. I know this is such a small snippet, not enough to portray your true skills in writing, but I hope you'll find my comments helpful and encouraging. :)

Anyway. Here are the characters you must convey in your 1000 words (or your picture worth a thousand words). Two brothers, Gabriel and Charles, both very headstrong and determined. Gabriel is a man of faith, you know, like the angel Gabriel, and Charles is a man of science, like Charles Darwin.

It's pretty vague; there are many ways you can take this. I've very curious to see what you guys do!

This is meant to be a character development exercise, so the plot and stuff is all up to you, as long as the characters stay true to their personalities, like any good character in fiction should!

Tweet about it! Mention it in your blog! Follow me! Etcetera! In no way will these things influence me in picking a winner, but I do very much, as an egotistical human blogger, appreciate propaganda promoting me!

Send me 1000 words or less to cheesepuff5292@yahoo.com by Friday 22 April 2011. Make the email headline CHARACTER CONTEST plus your name (but don't worry, it's anonymous, though I'm not biased as I love everybody equally). If you have a blog, please include a link to it, and I'll link to you if you win! :)

Good luck and have fun!

Peace, Aimee

Friday, April 8, 2011

Do You Have A Muse?

What inspires you?

Is it your boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse/someone you admire from afar? Is it someone or something you hate rather than love? Is it political, theological, mental? Is it the universe? The earth? The sea?

For me it is the connections between all living things and the oppression that we suffer through by those who believe we need governing and cannot handle ourselves in this beautiful and peaceful world we live in. It is the spiritual being inside each and everyone of us that experiences love and is connected to every soul and the universe as a whole, a transcendent, infinite entity shedding the light of love upon our transient, superficial, violent society perpetuated by the materialistic aspects, the violence and prejudice, and the self-absorbed nature of human beings. It is equality, redemption, peace, selflessness, and love.

What inspires you?

Peace, Aimee