aquatic monster

Dear Internet,

ThePlague is still here and it’s making my life miserable in numerous ways. i.e. My new sleeping schedule is now bed between 04:00 – 05:00 and waking up between 12:00 – 13:00. If I’m lucky. Today I rolled out of bed at nearly 14:00.

With my sleep disjointed, my daily To-Dos are a fucking mess. I have a long list of things I need to get done for various things to keep myself up to date on a variety of projects but it ends with me just working on one or two. Count in things like eating, showering, and other human things, my working day is shot by 19:00. I’ve tried working while watching telly with TheExHusband (we’ve plowed through Key & Peele, Fresh Meat, and are now working our way through RuPaul’s Drag Race), which lends us to staying up late. He’s able to get up at a reasonable time and then there’s me, sleeping fucking beauty.

I’ve been inhaling short stories, swapping between Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of MaladiesCat Valente’s The Bread We Eat in Dreams, Chekhov’s The Witch and Other Stories, and LampLight magazine.  I’ve had Lahiri on the back burner since my days working at the bookstore; Valente I recently finished one of her new novels and I wanted to re-read her shorts; Chekhov as he’s the master of shorts, and LampLight magazine as I’ve recently submitted some work to them.

I’m most surprised, given my ADHD, I’ve not dipped into shorts before and it’s been fascinating to where my reading tastes are taking me. Some stories were like eating the most luscious of chocolate cakes (and I love some chocolate cake!) and others were burnt custard. The dropping in and out of various collections rather than reading them straight has kept my palette clean rather than getting getting overwrought over one particular author or theme.

But I’m learning a lot. Where I’ve been clutching to things that are secondary or even tertiary, so reading across a variety of authors has helped considerably.

Even complaining about ThePlague, I was finally able to leave the house for the first time in almost a week without feeling I was going to leave a lung somewhere along the road. I wore pants for a total 1.5 hours and that was 1.25 hours too long.

xoxo,
Lisa

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 1998

Collection of Cunning Curiosities – July 18, 2015

Johann Georg Hainz's Cabinet of Curiosities, circa 1666. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Johann Georg Hainz’s Cabinet of Curiosities, circa 1666. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

A weekly compendium of things that delight my fancy.

Dear Internet, You can follow all mentioned items here and past on the Pinterest board. x0x0, lisa

Reading

I’ve been plowing through my book list these last few weeks. I finished Goddess of Buttercups & Daisies, which was a fun read and The Devil’s Detective, which posits that terrible murders are happening in hell and Satan hires a detective to find out why. Yes, murders in hell, but go with it as the horror/mystery novel is able to pull it off quite well.

This last week I started research on a sekret project that involves learning as  much as humanly possible about SEO, however, the current titles that are regarded are so terrible, I’m embarrassed to list them here. You can check out the list on Pinterest.

To wash out the bad books, I picked up Jane Goes Batty which is the second in a series that presents the idea: What if Jane Austen never died, but became a vampire (turned by Lord Byron no less) and was living in contemporary America, owning a bookshop? I know, AGAIN, another book where the summary sounds implausible but the series is quite fun and a quick read.

Fanciful Delights

Did you know the word “awesome” has been in use since the late 16th century? Neither did I. The word usage in the 16th century was more along the lines of, “made you shiver in terror” rather than our current usage to mean, “things that fill you with awe.” This is why English language and it’s constant growth is awesome. (See what I did there?)
Exit, Pursued by a bear papyrus Digital Manuscripts Library at the British Library recently wrote an article about one of the oldest papyrus’ found, which they nicknamed “Exit, Pursued by a Bear.” Regular readers of this journal may remember this journal is named after a scene from Shakespear’s The Winter’s Tale, It seems natural enough, then, that the article on the oldest known papyrus nicknamed the same would delight my fancy.
To the delight of some, and annoyance to others, I refer to American soccer as football. But I have always wondered why we call it soccer when the rest of the world calls it football. Well wonder no more my friends, dictionary.com has the answer.
Map of the InternetHaving been a user of the Internet for a solid 20 years (!), I’ve always wondered what it look like mapped. The Optae Project answers that very question. “Since the Internet is basically a vast constellation of networks that somehow interconnect to provide the relatively seamless communication of data, it seemed logical one could draw lines from one point to another. The visualization is a collection of programs that collectively output an image of every relationship of every network on the Internet.” (Click on the image on the right to get a large image and other images created by this project.)
I did not get into Joy Division until I was in my late ’20s or early ’30s, which is surprising since I was a huge New Order fan in high school. No matter, Joy Division remain one of my top five bands for the last decade and that more than likely will not change. What’s interesting about this revelation is the band released only two full albums and the lead singer, Ian Curtis, committed suicide 35 years ago. Despite their small catalog, JoyDiv remains one of the most influential bands of the late 20th century. This even though the remaining members went on form New Order and other multi-album bands, and yet, yet, JoyDiv tops them all. Recently, The Guardian wrote up a piece on the 10 best Joy Division tracks, which prompted me to add them to to this weeks list. Below is the video for She’s Lost Control, one of my favorite Joy Division tracks, natch. Or you can open up Spotify to listen to their tracks.

This day in Lisa-Universe in: 2014, 2012, 2011, 2003, 1999, 1998

in which we have reading and writing adventures

Barker at the grounds at the Vermont state fair, Rutland (LOC)
Barker at the grounds at the Vermont state fair, circa 1941. Courtesy of The Commons, Flickr.

Dear Internet,

It’s a long, lovely holiday weekend and I’m digging into my stack of books, aided by hot tea, for entertainment. Since my own book has stalled, I thought it would be a good time to take notes on the books I’m reading to see what worked and what didn’t and apply it to, hopefully, jump start my own writing as well to see what makes me happy reading. (AKA, these notes are mainly more for me than you, but hey, if you get something out of it; Awesome!)

The number one rule you’ll see anywhere on writing is, “read more,” but is that all? Yes and no. Below are some of my notes from chewing through a few books this weekend.

If influenced by a particular era, do the research. In reading a book set during the Belle Époque (France’s version of the Edwardian era / American Gilded age), the book should have a feel for that period. This one did not and it felt what details were made available were slapped on from Wikipedia. Just no.
Alternating POV should move the story along, not show the same scene from different prescriptive.  Thus far, I’ve finished three books this weekend, of which two used alternating POV as a story device. One used it well to advance the story, spending less time on recreating the setting, while the other not so much. In the second, I felt as if the author was slapping my hand for not getting something right so they had to tell me again.
Chapters are not always necessary. Yes, they break up the scenes and action, but if done stealthy, the shift between could remain seamless without the use of chapters. Chapters may be like periods, pauses to break up the scenes, but are not necessary. Terry Pratchett was the king of lack of chapters. In one of the books I read this weekend, the switching happened with the alternating points of view and was so seamless, it took me half the book to realise there were no chapters.
The length of a book, by page number, does not necessitate how good it is. The ones on the longer side are more than likely just like to hear themselves read. Get it? (They all can’t be winners.) One book I’ve read recently, and was quite good, was a slim 150 pages. Another book that was pure dreck clocked in at 400. Length does not mean everything, as much as we like to believe.
Give the book an old college try and read the first 50 pages. I’ll go out on a limb and say this applies to writing as well; if you can’t make the story palatable within the first 50 pages, neither will your readers. And readers? There are too many good books for you to read terrible ones.
If heavily using phrases of a language that isn’t your primary language or the colloquialisms of a particular thing, include an appendix of sorts. It’s presumptuous to think your readers are going to have the same breadth of knowledge on the same topic you’re writing about. An aforementioned book set in the Belle Époque period heavily used ballet terms and dropped French like it was ice cream sprinkles. This makes sense because this was the subject matter, BUT if you aren’t familiar with ballet or spoke even rudimentary French, a lot of what was happening with the characters would be lost on you. Yes, I get it, we learn by reading outside our comfort zone but there is a difference between needing to look up “demagogue” and wondering what in the hell is “battement développé” and having translate.google.com by your side.

There were a few more main things I forgot to write down, but this is the gist of it. So it is true, the more you read, the more you learn. Hrm.

x0x0,
Lisa

P.S. Last winter I decided to put together a newsletter for those who read my stuff but can’t be arsed to check it out daily (no worries, I get it, I do!) so this is a monthly round up. I’ve decided to resurrect it again! Called Skaldic Press Presents, you can check out the archive here (http://tinyletter.com/amostunreliablenarrator/archive) and subscribe here (https://tinyletter.com/amostunreliablenarrator).
P.P.S. There are GIFs involved!

This day in Lisa-Universe: 2014, 2014, 2000, 1999