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Friday, April 16, 2010

Prompt Friday: "A Balm to Our Every Chagrin"

Prompt:
Take one or more of your characters, and explain one of their quirks.
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A Balm To Our Every Chagrin


Lawrence Snyder, aged 6. Three inches shorter than average; five pounds underweight. Blonde hair too short; eyes too big.

When Lawrence enters the first grade, he learns three things:
1. Simple addition.
2. Kids are mean.
3. If you hold your tongue long enough, those mean kids will finally ignore you.

He was sent home early from school after some girl who had close to a foot on him thwacked him good right in the eye socket. And it wasn’t fair that all the girls were that much taller than him, and it wasn’t fair that the school called him mom to come pick him up (because he was fine, REALLY, just embarrassed, and a little embarrassment isn’t worth almost getting his mom fired and then what are they going to do?), and it wasn’t fair that he had to go back to school the next day and the day after that and the day after that ad infinitum.

For all that his self-imposed silence protected him, it did nothing to help him make friends with the Amazonian girls and the gargantuan boys.

Larry Snyder, aged 16. Still three inches shorter than average; five pounds overweight in pure muscle. Hair too ‘flowy’; face and eyes finally reconciled.

Three things that Larry learns in high school:
1. Mean kids will always be mean.
2. He is much faster and much stronger than those mean kids.
3. Silence has been, and likely will always be, his best friend.

The trick behind learning to silently take a punch is practice. Lots and lots of practice. Larry wasn’t an angry kid, no matter how often the school psychologist prophesied that he was going to be that kid who brought a loaded semi-automatic to school and raged postal, but he was aware. He would silently watch and listen and observe, quietly padding around the social circles of the school – floating contentedly in the inbetween. And when he stepped in the boxing ring, he was no different: he would watch his opponent with a stony face, looking for weaknesses, searching for the single crack in their defense where he could methodically pick them apart.

And if he needed to take a few punches to win the war, then so be it. But he would never cry out in pain; never offer his attacker anything more than a muffled ‘hmph’ that was less in his control and more the action of his battered diaphragm pushing the air from his lungs against his will. As he worked his way through opponent after opponent, the silence in the ring grew and grew until it was practically the third man on the mats.

Larry, aged 26. Unconcerned about those missing three inches, has made them up with the three-inch above-average circumference of his biceps. Hair: long. Eyes: acceptable.

Three things Larry discovered about himself at the gym:
1. He was really, really good at hitting things.
2. He was really, really good at silence.
3. He was loyal almost to a fault.

He had met Karl at that gym: a scrawny 18 year old with a shock of brown hair and enough charisma for the both of them combined. They were the same age and so wonderfully opposite that they stuck together. And if Larry watched Karl’s back (which needed a surprising amount of watching for such a skinny kid), and Karl explained to cute girls that Larry wasn’t mentally challenged just “in the middle of a vow of silence” (or “searching for spiritual guidance through introspective contemplation” or whatever other extensive, yet charming, lie that Karl came up with), then their relationship was one that benefitted them both.

He should have known that Karl, with all his silver-tongued quick wit, would get himself --and by extension, him -- in trouble. But Larry couldn’t help but get swept up in his enthusiasm. And the fact that they never got caught was a plus. Well, except for that one time when a security guard caught them as they were about to pull this mini-heist on an ATM, but Karl just turned on the charm and by the end of the operation, they went home with Jessica’s phone number.

And if Karl took Jessica out on a date with the stolen money, it was okay because he secured Larry a date with Jessica’s best friend.

nt – 4/16/10
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Notes: If you remember my post from 3/26/10 (Our Lady of Salvation), I wrote a little back story for one of my characters from Harem, Riviera. Larry is also from Harem and needed a little fleshing out before I continued writing him. He was just as mysterious as Riviera, and, while I’m okay with expanding him later, he’s too quiet and I needed to know why he was pulling a Zen Master on me. Karl is also from Harem and somehow managed to sneak his way into this story. Scene-stealer.


Title taken from a Henry David Thoreau quote: “Silence is the universal refuge, the sequel to all dull discourses and all foolish acts, a balm to our every chagrin, as welcome after satiety as after disappointment.”

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Question Wednesday

Q: So what did you think of the new Dresden Files book?

A: (WARNING: HEAVY SPOILERS)

HIGHLIGHT TO READ

Of the many ways I think one can judge literature, I personally find the following the best way to determine if a book was good or not: If the author can simultaneously appear on your 'Best Person EVER' list and 'I Hate You With a Flaming Passion' list.

That being said, welcome to those two lists, Jim Butcher. Yeah, I'm talking to you.

First off, the title of this book is so appropriate that it may as well get up and whack you about the head. "Changes," indeed. So much happened in this book that I will probably need to go back and re-read the entire series just to see if I missed any of the subplots that were either 1. tied up or 2. blown up or 3. re-upped.

There is so much about this book that I enjoyed. First off, the writing style. Harry Dresden's unique voice is fantastic. Honestly, he sounds a lot like the voice in my head, and I find i difficult to sort out whether that happened before or after I started reading the series. Harry Dresden is the kind of guy I want to be friends with, taking names and kicking ass. His quiet desperation in this novel was well executed, even if the first few chapters seemed to need a little time to pick up the pace.

Also, the fact that Butcher paraded a ton of mythical beings out and around the novel (i.e. Odin, The Erlking, AMONG OTHERS) was kind of awesome. Tilly was kind of cool. The fight scenes, as always, are fun and awesome. The fact that my favorite minor human character (yes, that's a lot of qualifications, but Mouse and Mister kind of deserve their own 'favorite' category), Butters was there, also being awesome (POLKA WILL NEVER DIEEEE!) made me inordinately happy. And, Mouse, talking? His first 'words' being "That bitch"? WIN.

And while I understood why certain things needed to happen, and didn't even mind so much: Susan dying, Harry threatening Marcone, Murphy taking up the Sword, Harry's entire Chicago life burning to the ground, Harry becoming the Winter Knight... the one thing that I cannot deal with (and one of the reasons Butcher's currently number 3 on my Bitch List -- ratings change daily!) is the fact that we were |--|< THAT CLOSE to Harry and Murphy FINALLY hooking up and getting on with whatever sexual tension is there, etc etc and he goes and SHOOTS HARRY IN THE CHEST?!?! You'd better watch it, Butcher, I'm sure that fandom IS NOT PLEASED.

On that note, I have a few theories as to who shot Harry.
1. Marcone. It stands to reason that Marcone got pissed off that Harry was threatening to kill him, but at the same time, it seems unlikely to me. Harry is much too good at taking out Marcone's enemies. In other words, he's still too valuable to Marcone to take out... quite yet.

2. Mab. Now that Harry's Winter Knight, it stands to reason that she would want him in Faerie to do her bidding. If he is assumed dead, it would be less of a hassle to ...keep him, if you understand what I'm saying. Sort of like when bad guys fake their own death.

3. Summer Court. It seems too convenient that Harry was shot pretty much immediately after Lea's spell wore off. Plus, they haven't gotten any action lately. Not that I think guns are really the Fae's style, but hey, you never know.

4. The Black Council. We never really do get a satisfactory answer as to who was trying to shoot Dresden outside the FBI, and then burnt down his home. We assume it's the Eebs, but it's possible that it's not.

Finally, the last reason that I'm thoroughly upset with Jim Butcher is that I now need to wait approximately 2 years or so until the NEXT Dresden Files book, which is altogether too long. Damn you, and your addictive writing! *shakes fist*


All in all, highly recommended.

x-nic

Monday, April 12, 2010

Status Report Monday (the new new guy)

Look who's back.

So, after taking the second half of last week off in order to try to push through some major edits of Anomaly, I got less done than I wanted to, but still a significant amount. I'm currently in the process of squeezing in a sub-plot that I thought would be good for a sequel but, after consideration, didn't feel strong enough to carry an entire movie. Plus, this way, if managers actually get back to me, I'll have something fantastic to talk about.

On the manager front: still waiting. Not that I expect miracles or instantaneous replies. But waiting is frustrating no matter what, and I had thought we had gotten over the 'waiting' hurdle and moved into the 'making progress' straightaway (track reference, ahoy!), but apparently, this is the 800 hurdles instead of the 400 hurdles.

Also, my 't' button is acting up and I'm not sure why. *jabs*

Meanwhile, on the novel front...
Harem is plotted out to the end, so now I just need to sit down and write. I had to go back and change an entire pivotal scene/character introduction because it didn't fit with the later characterization that I was actually going for. Tricky little things, those characters. So Harem and I will be having a sit-down heart-to-heart as soon as I can focus my attention on it a little more.

And I say 'focus my attention' because Georgiana Never, fictional character from my as-yet unwritten novel, Awixa is gallivanting about my mind, demanding that I pay attention to her, immediately. UNcool, Georgiana, UNcool. Get in line.

I also plotted out (mostly in my mind) another screenplay that I want to write, tentatively titled The Pharm. It's going to be an action/thriller about big pharmaceuticals... That's all I'm giving away for now.

Other than that, the New new guy at work (yes, we burned through an original new guy who just did not cut it) starts tomorrow, so that will be an adventure. Of course, he starts on the day that I have plans and need to be somewhere at a certain time... GUH. I also just bought the new Dresden Files book by Jim Butcher and Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan.

Since I haven't had a chance to read in a really long time, I'm looking forward to these two books. I may be inspired to do a review here later (perhaps as a Question Wednesday? -- What did you think of THIS book?) Plus, my friend Chris Bov has been nagging me to read the new Dresden since it came out LAST WEEK so that he can discuss it with someone. I guess it's that good.

And now that you're all properly updated on the massive amounts of things piling up, I should go get started on them.

x-nic