Blog Wrap-Up

This has been my first time blogging. I wasn’t sure how I was going to like writing to a public audience but I think it’s been a good experience. Mostly my posts have been reviews about the books I’ve also been reading for class. As I know for sure that I’m pen-and-papergoing to keep reading, it’s likely that I’ll do a review on a book or two every now and again since I know that I have blogging as a resource to talk about them. One thing I found that was interesting about my experience blogging is that I’ve been getting a lot of views from people all over the world. I wasn’t even planning on trying to get any subscribers to my blog, but through my class assignments somehow I’ve picked up a few. It’s been an interesting experience having strangers read my works and I think it’s probably a good way, if I wanted to focus more on blogging in the future for advertising my fiction writing, to  get noticed. I’m trying to work on a few different stories right now but haven’t made a whole lot of progress other than what I’ve submitted for my class. I hope as it comes to an end that I’ll continue with my writing and try to make it a habit.

For future blog posts I’ll probably be reviewing more works of Stephen King, and of George R.R. Martin. I also think In the future if I do more reviews that I’ll try to analyze the review books more in depth. Because these reviews were for class I found that many times I wrote just enough to cover the word count or the required subject matter, this post included. If I do more reviews on my own, I think that I’ll take the reviews more seriously. Thanks to anyone who has been reading my posts or will read them in the future!

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Review of “The Tommyknockers,” by Stephen King

For this review I read the book “The Tommyknockers,” by Stephen King. The book is 558 pages long.

I chose to17660

read this book because of my class’s previous assignment to read Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. Maybe this was a clever marketing ploy by King: make a book on writing causing everyone who read it to want to read your other books to see your actual writing style and see if you stuck to your own advice. It sure had that effect on me. But in seriousness, this is exactly why I wanted to read The Tommyknockers. That and the fact that I thought I could learn a few more things by reading another work of his. In addition to this book, I also picked up another book of his, The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, which I have been reading as well.

As apparently

many of his novels do, this story takes place in rural Maine. We follow a woman named Anderson who, besides the company of her dog Peter, lives by herself. One day, while walking in the woods near her house, she literally stumbles over a piece of metal sticking out of the earth and stops to examine it.

The metal was dull grey- not the bright color of tin or iron at all. And it was thicker than a can, maybe  a quarter-inch at its top. Anderson placed the pad of her right index finder of this edge and felt a momentary odd tingling, like a vibration.

I liked

the depth of the characters in this book. The two main characters, Anderson and Gardner have a complicated past which comes up again as they are brought back together seemingly by the force of The Tommyknockers. Gardner is an alcoholic at the end of his rope who comes close to killing himself, and Anderson is a writer living by herself who dropped out of college right before she was to graduate. Because of the struggles of Gardner, through his alcoholism, and Anderson, because of the effects of the Tommyknockers on her mental and physical well-being, and the way that the characters responded to these struggles, I saw them as believable characters.

The Sci-Fi elements which King uses in this book are also believable and really interesting. Fairly on in the book Anderson decides that the piece of metal she tripped over in the woods must be part of an alien space craft. Later on, once she has become fully under the sway of the Tommyknockers, the devices which she creates for herself are believable in the sense that these are devices which she needs, like fixing her water heater and providing her home with a free source of power.

The world building of this story is also very believable and interesting. King basically created the entire town of Haven and at one point he spends a whole section of the book providing short stories of people who currently live there or have lived there in the past. We see almost every aspect of the town play out from where the town recieves its power from to the vet where Anderson takes her dog.

The only section

that was hard for me to read was some of the information on Gardner’s introduction. His backstory and his reason that lead to him hitting rock-bottom, as they say, were a bit dull of a read to be honest.

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It’s Monday! What are you Reading?

This week I’m reading The Tommyknockersby Stephen King, and I’m 56 pages into the book.

I chose to17660

read this book because of my class’s previous assignment to read Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. Maybe this was a clever marketing ploy by King: make a book on writing causing everyone who read it to want to read your other books to see your actual writing style and see if you stuck to your own advice. It sure had that effect on me. But in seriousness, this is exactly why I wanted to read The Tommyknockers. That and the fact that I thought I could learn a few more things by reading another work of his. In addition to this book, I also picked up another book of his, The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, which I have been reading as well.

As apparently

many of his novels do, this story takes place in rural Maine. We follow a woman named Anderson who, besides the company of her dog Peter, lives by herself. One day, while walking in the woods near her house, she literally stumbles over a piece of metal sticking out of the earth and stops to examine it.

The metal was dull grey- not the bright color of tin or iron at all. And it was thicker than a can, maybe  a quarter-inch at its top. Anderson placed the pad of her right index finder of this edge and felt a momentary odd tingling, like a vibration. 

It seems that the rest of the story will revolve around this piece of metal and what its significance means. I’m eager to read on to see how King will handle this significance.

One interesting

thing about this novel is that in his book on writing King admits he wrote this book while he was still under the sway of cocaine addiction. When King looked back on The Tommyknockers, he saw that some of the events the protagonist goes through in this book symbolize King’s own struggle with addiction. Because of this knowledge I can try to find these symbols, and only being 10% though the book, I feel that I’ve already found traces.

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Review of “Night of the Dragon,” by Richard A. Knaak

For this review, I read the book “Night of the Dragon,” by Richard A. Knaak. The book is 319 pages long.

The backstories of

games are typically referred to as “lore,”and this book covers a section of lore from the World of Warcraft universe. For a little history, the Warcraft universe first appeared as the real-time strategy game “Warcraft” which was then succeeded by II and III of the same title, and then the MMORPG “World of Warcraft” was released. The lore of this
franchise very broad and covers some twenty plus years of gaming and literal world building by Blizzard Entertainment. Much of the lore is 3137561presented in the game, and some of the lore was first presented in print as one of these books. One of the things which has always drawn me to this universe is the amazing imagination of the writers and the interesting characters they have developed. As someone who has played World of Warcraft extensively, I’ve always had an interest in the story behind the game, and It’s great fun being able interact in a 3D game environment with these legendary characters you’ve read about. Because of this interest, I’ve read many of the books concerning the lore behind the Warcraft universe and that interest also drew me to read this book for my review.

Typically in fantasy,

dragons are seen as a force of evil, but in Azeroth, the literal world of Warcraft, they are actually the world’s guardians. These “dragon flights” have the specific colors of red, blue, green, bronze, or black, and each “flight” represents and has power over a force of nature. These are life, magic, dreams, time, and earth, respectively, and they keep order over these forces. In this story we follow Krasus who, as member of the red dragon flight, has the duty of preserving life on Azeroth. Without going too much into more the story of this universe, Krasus’s goal in this novel is to investigate the mountain of Grim Batol vaelwhich was previously sealed after a group of evildoers was removed. The locals have reported strange occurrences around the mountain, and Krasus is afraid that some new malefactors have taken up residence.

The search must be done with stealth,  Krasus considered as he abandoned his seat. This is no mere happenstance. There is something going on that threatens us all; I feel it….

The story tells of his journey to Grim Batol, the familiar faces he sees along the way, and his discovery of what is really going on there.

As always,

the reading more about this world I enjoy was entertaining. Knaak has written about the character in this book before, and he was able to keep them true to the personalities he had previously established. In addition, the new character he created in this were believable and enjoyable. The ways in which these characters interact with one another and solve problems is reasonable and even surprising at times, and this lends to the believability of these characters. The world building and description of new places was also great; In addition to making enjoyable characters, Knaak places them in an environment that is easy to picture without having to give the reader too much information.

Even though Knaak

has made believable characters and generally does a good job of placing them in an environment, some of his wording left me a bit confused. At times, he would introduce an idea or description that should have been explained in the same thought, but was not explained until a few sentences later. In other words, sometimes he would plainly talk about an new idea as if it had already been established. This often lead me to believing that I had missed a bit of information explaining what he was talking about which then in turn caused me to re-read whole passages searching for what I thought I had missed. Finally, I would have to give up and suspend disbelief until I stumbled upon the answer a few sentences later. As someone who wants to understand everything as it is given to them, it made me a bit frustrated. It may sound a bit trivial, but this distraction broke up the flow of the reading at times and unfortunately made it feel a bit clunky.

I enjoyed this book and would recommend it not only to those who enjoy the lore of Warcraft, but to anyone who enjoys fantasy in general.

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Review of “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft,” by Stephen King

For this review, I read: On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, by Stephen King. The book is 291 pages long.

Because I was reading this book for class, of course 13486639
I procrastinated and waited to read this book until the last few days before its related assignment, this review, was due. In spite of this, I found that the amount of reading I had to undertake was not at all difficult. In fact, I found I had a hard time putting this book down; when I did read, I would read huge swaths of the book at a time before looking up at the clock and wondering where the time went. I found that King has a way of writing that is honest, concise, and interesting to boot. Also, he writes with such confidence that I as a reader had a hard time not being led where he wanted to lead me. Even though I sometimes doubted some of the advice he was trying to give the reader about writing, I was able to see, and he said so, that he himself believed it. If such a prolific writer believes and lives such techniques for writing, I found that I could probably do a lot worse than taking a few of his suggestions.

The section, “On Writing,”

where King provides most of these writing tips, I found extremely helpful. Especially the sub-section on publication which I have zero knowledge but a large interest in. He also covers the topics of dialogue and character development, theme, symbolism, and how to structure your reading and writing, to name a few. On writing specifically, he says that:

Stories are found things, like fossils in the ground (pg. 163)

and

The writer’s job is to use the tools in his or her toolbox to get as much of each one out of the ground intact as possible. Sometimes the fossil you uncover is small, a seashell. Sometimes it’s enormous, a Tyrannosaurus Rex with all those gigantic ribs and grinning teeth. Either way, short story or thousand-page whopper of a novel, the techniques of excavation remain basically the same. (pg. 164)

While just a metaphor for the writing process, I found it encouraging. Earlier, King states that he doesn’t believe that bad writers can be made into great writers; however, It makes me feel that I have at least the opportunity to excavate my stories fully intact. That I have the opportunity to write decently.

Because I’m reviewing this book for my fiction workshop class, I found it interesting that King actually had a view on whether or not they serve to benefit the fledgling writer. One of the things that stuck with me, and no offense to the workshop process, as I’ve found it extremely helpful so far, is that it makes writing something you have to do rather than something you want to do, and I’ve felt this myself in my own writing. It’s impossible for the instructor to say, “OK everyone, write what you want and I’ll make sure to grade everyone equally.” There has to be some assignment and grading structure. I just hope it doesn’t change how I view writing from an enjoyment standpoint.

The only part I felt I didn’t like about this book,

and it’s not a critique of the writing, just the way it made me feel, is that the auto-biography of his childhood made me feel that if I didn’t write a lot as growing up that I wasn’t meant to be an author. Perhaps it’s petty to think this way, but as someone who is still in the process of figuring out what they want to do after having been in college for a number of years, I’m a bit jealous that King seemingly always knew he wanted to be a writer.

On the whole, as said before, I really enjoyed this book. It’s chock-full of helpful suggestions from the perspective of a person who finds joy, and has been successful, in writing.  King had me laughing and shaking my head all the way through the book. I Cheered at his victories and was solemn at his misfortunes. Anyone who writes, or has the notion to write, should give this book a read.

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IMWAYR? – It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

Currently, I’m reading On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, by Stephen King, and I’m on 13486639page 60. I’ve never actually read one of his books before, and the only movie adaptation I’ve seen of his work is The ShiningDespite this, I know that he is a prolific author and probably knows a thing or two about writing. So far, I’ve enjoyed this book.

The Book So Far:

The beginning portion of this book had been entirely about his life growing up as a writer.
From very young, and creating stories for his mother to read, to the point I’ve gotten to now, when he’s just starting college, it seems like King always knew that he wanted to be a writer. As someone who’s recently switched out of my original major, and trying to find what I’d rather do with my life, I’m rather envious. As of now, one of the only nuggets of wisdom that King has provided about the actual craft of writing itself has been this, quoting his first editor:

“When you write a story, you’re telling yourself the story,” he said. “When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story.” (pg. 57)

and

“Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open. Your stuff starts out being just for you, in other words, but then it goes out. Once you know what the story is and get it right-as right as you can, anyway-it belongs to anyone who wants to read it.” (pg. 57)

On My Own Writing:

As I’ve been writing for my class, and working on a story revision, I’ve had a hard time just allowing myself to write and be creative without the worry of anyone being able to see my first thoughts. I think King’s handed down advice is good. As I took it: that when you write, the story you are writing is just for yourself, that you’re telling yourself the story. That you have to allow yourself to be creative and write freely, without thinking too much about it, and then go back and find the parts that need improving.

His past life has been an interesting read, but I’m looking forward to the rest of his book when hopefully he’ll give more specific suggestions on how to improve your writing. One of the things I have to constantly remind myself about in my writing is: “what is my goal for this scene, or this story for a whole?” and “How do I achieve this?” Something else that I’ve found interesting about writing is that I never really thought that you could teach it. That writing was some sort of innate skill that a person did or did not have. As I learn about writing through my class, I’m learning more and more that writing, as much as it’s an art, is also a science. When writing, you constantly have to be conscious of elements that have finally been given a name to me. Constantly thinking about how the audience should be feeling or what they should be thinking about. I’m hoping that King will provide some insight on how to make your story do what you want to do.

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Book Review: “A Clash of Kings,” by George R.R. Martin

“A Clash of Kings,” by George R.R. Martin. 969 pages.

Introduction:

For this book review, I chose to read “A Clash of Kings” by George R.R. Martin. I finished the first book in his series recently, and thought it would be appropriate to use my interest in his work for my school assignment. Because the book is 969 pages, a bit long, and I only have a limited time to read each book before I review it, I chose to read only half of the book for this review. Compared to the first book, “A Game of Thrones,” “A Clash of Kings” is much more political so far. At the end of the first book, things were picking up action wise with armies engaging in battle and ancient legends coming to life. Things have been much slower comparatively during the first half of this book. I can only assume, and sadly know because I’ve seen the TV series already, that things will eventually pick up and end much like the first book did: action packed. Tyrion Lannister, a character from the book, agrees that not much has been happening:

“There is sitting and there is sitting,” Tyrion suggested. “Each waits for the other to move, but the lion is still, poised, his tail twitching, while the fawn is frozen by fear, bowls turned to jelly. No matter which way he bounds, the lion will have him, and he knows it” (page 320).

The “lion” being Tywin of house Lannister, and the “fawn” represents Rob of house Stark. This brings me to what I didn’t like about the book: all of the political information. Having to keep track of each house, there are many of them, and who belongs to it, is very tiring for the reader.

What I did not like about the book:

I understand that this kind of thing comes with the territory of writing an epic novel, but Martin has a tendency to introduce a lot of information about the world he has created that is hard to keep track of. As a reader, I want to take to heart all of the information that an author gives me because I believe authors don’t just give extraneous information, as all of it will be important later on; however, it’s almost impossible to remember all of this information unless you keep a journal. Namely the characters, houses, and alliances he has created are all important because this information becomes relevant towards why the book progresses the way it does. “A Clash of Kings” in particular, so far, is comprised of very little action and is mainly based around these politics of these involved factions. One could read his books without taking time to study these aspects, but all of the posturing and strategy that characters use in these books, based on these alliances, lose their meaning if you don’t know the history behind them. Because of this, it feels as if you almost have to study his books, which is a bit more effort than I think reading a book for pleasure should demand, but is rewarding in the end. Martin has created a wonderfully realistic world, and as realistic worlds tend to do, this book has a lot of information; hardly any element of how people, from low to high status in this world, live is left out. The benefit of this, however, is that his works truly feel like you are being lead through a living and breathing world that has been captured between the pages of his books, which leads me to what I do like about the book so far.

What I liked about the book:

The characters that Martin has created are very life-like. They do things in a manner that is reasonable based on the situation they are in, and their emotions are very easy to see and relate to based on these challenging situations. The characters also often come up with solutions to these problems that you did not expect, but worked better than you might have hoped, and this creates a feeling these characters have a tangible intelligence, and are therefore tangible themselves. Most of these characters are either easy to like or easy to hate, and this makes us want to see them succeed or fail. We of course want to see Joffrey returned with the same cruelty that he has shown the Starks, and we want to see the Starks triumph over him. In spite of this, we root for both sides because each has likable characters even though we know one has to triumph over the other. This creates a very interesting narrative quality because we don’t know who to root for in a straight up confrontation. Also, because we are invested in both sides, it helps to keep the reader engaged in the story even when opposing forces have to be given narrative time.

On the narrative’s construction, this book was created with parallel plot lines; each chapter focuses on a different character. This type of plot is effective because it introduces suspense, which I enjoyed, that draws the reader through the story as we cycle through character perspectives. We leave each character at the end of a chapter when their situation has reached a climax and then start a new chapter by being reintroduced to a character the reader is invested in but who hasn’t been mentioned for some time.

Conclusion:

Overall, I love his books because of how alive the world he has created is, and as stated before, Martin has used many techniques to do this. Despite being set in a fantasy realm, his characters are relatable and it’s enjoyable to see their personalities in action and when they clash against one another. I’m excited to see how the book turns out, and my next report will be on the latter half of it.

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IMWAYR – It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

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Currently I’m reading “Clash of Kings” by George R.R. Martin, and I’m on page 83.

After having read the first book for pleasure due to my interest in the TV series, a process that probably should have been reversed, I’m reading this book for one of my class’s required book review s that are due every three weeks. Even though I read the first book after watching all six seasons of Game of Thrones, and knew who was going to die, I still enjoyed it. If you’ve read the first book, or watched the first season of the TV series, the second book, “Clash of Kings,” picks up immediately where “Game of Thrones” left off.

The Book so Far

The Comet’s tail spread across the dawn, a red slash that bled above the crags of Dragonstone like a wound in the pink and purple sky.

So far, I’ve enjoyed seeing how each opposing faction thinks that the sign of the comet is meant for themselves and how it is giving rise to greater boldness on their part, thinking that their ambition is blessed by the gods. Stannis and Joffrey both believe that the gods are sending them this sign as a blessing. Stanis belives it is the blessing of the Lord of Light, whereas Joffrey, the Lannisters’ primary color being red, believe it is meant to bless Joffrey’s reign. Due to the ending of the last book, we as the reader have a different and much more interesting assumption about what the comet could signify, and this suspicion is somewhat supported by Old Nan, and Osha, the wildling that Rob captured, when Bran asks them about the comet.

I’ve also found the relationship between Joffrey and Sansa to be an interesting one. If you know how the last book ended, then you know that the relationship between Sansa and Joffrey is strained. Martin does a fantastic job making these two characters seem like real people. Because of this, we feel for Sansa and despise Joffrey. Martin is able to make his reader feel such strong emotions about the characters he has created, and this is a testament to his skill as a writer.

So far I’m enjoying the book and look forward to how the books further provide a different, yet still pleasurable, telling of Martin’s series.

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Book Review of Robinson Crusoe

Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe. 241 Pages.

Robinson Crusoe is introduced as a young man from York, England, born in the year 1632 to a well-off family. His father wanted to see him become a lawyer, but Robinson yearned instead to become a sailor. In short, even after his father attempts to persuade him against it, Robinson runs away and secures passage on a ship. Soon after this, his troubles at sea begin, and after several mishaps he ends up shipwrecked on an island in the Caribbean “on the coast of [South] America, near the mouth of the Great River of Oroonoque” (Defoe, extended title of the book).

Thinking back on this time, Crusoe comments:

But my ill fate push’d me on now with an obstinacy that nothing could resist; and tho’ I had several times loud calls from my reason and my more composed judgement to go home, yet I had no power to do it. I know not what to call this, nor will I urge, that it is a secret over-ruling decree that hurries us on to be the instruments of our own destruction, even tho’ it be before us, and that we rush upon it with our eyes open (Defoe, pg. 13).

The things I liked about this book are as follows:

Firstly, I like how relatable Crusoe is because of the hopes and fears he has. We are privy to the very pensive nature of Crusoe. In reality, the book is Comprised almost entirely of Crusoe’s thoughts; Crusoe thinks deeply about any course of action before he undertakes it, even though this course of action might end up being fruitless. Because of this, it helps us to see Crusoe as a very real person because his thoughts and fears are laid out so plainly and recognizably. This helps the story become alive and real for the reader. This is something that I’m likely to try in my own writing.

Defoe also does a very good job of writing clearly and concisely that we might understand him better. Even though the language of this novel, being written in 1710, is 300 years old, I rarely found that I couldn’t understand what Defoe was trying to explain. Some of the subjects of Crusoe’s thoughts and feelings are a bit hard to put into words, but Defoe has a very clear way of writing that makes these things understandable, and through this, more powerful to the effect they are trying to achieve in the reader.

What I didn’t like about the book:

The only thing I didn’t like about the book is that after all of the hardship that Crusoe endures, I think some of the sources of help Crusoe comes into seemed a bit too convenient. It almost seemed as if the book had to be wrapped up quickly.

My overall impression of this book is that it is a story of ingenuity and perseverance in the face of adversity, and overall, I liked it quite a lot. As said before, the writing in this story is clear and concise, and situations and ideas are presented in an interesting and engaging way to keep the reader invested in the story.

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Introduction – Ten Random Facts About Me

1. I’m currently in the process of changing my major. I started going to Santa Fe in the Fall of 2012 with my major then being Engineering. I earned my AA in the spring of 2015 and transferred to UF with my declared major being Computer Engineering. After taking Summer B, and subsequently Fall classes there, I found that I really didn’t enjoy my major, so here I am back and Santa Fe just trying to find some classes around things that I have always truly loved. I’m hoping that writing might be a better fit.

2. I was born in Memphis, Tennessee, and I lived just West of Memphis across the Mississippi river in a town called, surprise, West Memphis, Arkansas. I lived there until I was 5 years old and then my family moved to Gainesville; however, my dad still owns my deceased grandparents’ house there. I have other family, on my dad’s side, in Tennessee.

3. I’ve lived in Gainesville, FL since 1999, and I have gone through all of my schooling here before moving on to Santa Fe.

4. In the Summer of 2013, through Santa Fe World Travelers, I went on a trip to China for two weeks where we saw many places of historical significance such as the Great Wall, the Terracotta Army, and the Forbidden City. After this trip, I took a semester of Mandarin language because my time in China increased my interest in its culture.

5. I work at Jimmy Johns, a sandwich shop, as a delivery driver and have done so since the spring of last year.

6. I own a two-handed sword and kilt that I bought at the local medieval fair a few years ago. Sometimes I’ll shamelessly put on this outfit, watch the movie Braveheart, and yell a battle cry at all of the appropriate times.

7. I like world building, such as drawing fantasy maps and creating cultures, and I also like reading fantasy lore that other authors have created.

8. My favorite video game is Kerbal Space program. I like it because of how realistic the challenges of creating a working rocket are, and the great feeling of accomplishment you obtain for overcoming these challenges.

9. I enjoy singing, and I consider myself a decent singer. Mostly I like to sing jazz, but I’ve also sung with the Santa Fe Singers group here at the school.

10. I like to sketch from time to time when the desire to takes me. I’d like to sketch more often though to improve my skill in this area.

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