Let’s Blog About it: May Blog of The Month

Between The Lines is an awesome book blogger you’ll want to check out!

Book

Cathy Rocks if you love all the fiction and want to get reviews on the best of the best across genres!

I’m always on the lookout for the next book to read, but I have to admit sometimes very genre specific blogs don’t fit me well. I’m not a specific kind of reader, I like many different genres, so it’s an issue for me. Cathy, thankfully, is here to help!

Cathy at Between The Lines

Cathy has a lot in common with me. She loves books, dogs, and the beach, and I just don’t think I need to say more with that kind of recommendation!

 

Book Blogger

Cathy covers different genres of fiction.

What Makes Her Rock

Many Genres

For those like me who want the best of the best from across fiction!

Short Reviews are Great for the Time Crunched

Her reviews are usually just one computer screen long, which is great if you want to figure out if a book is right for your TBR pile fast.

Not a professional- Which Can Be a Good Thing

I like that Cathy isn’t a professional book reviewer. You know she says good things about the books because she means it, not because it makes her money. (I haven’t reviewed anyone on this site who is willing to leave good reviews for books they don’t like, just so you know.)

Great All Around Book Blogger

Cathy is awesome, and if you like a lot of different books and have very little time I think she’s a great blogger. And her reviews are entertaining, without dragging on so long they become reviews themselves! I’m a fan.

Be sure to let me know in the comments who your favorite book reviewer is!

A Playlist to Revise By

I’ve shared my favorite songs to write books by before. It all started with my first Revising Playlist post, where I shared a few requirements from my revision music.

  1. It’s hard to stay focused when your soundtrack has words

  2. This includes even words in other languages you don’t understand, as that can still distract your writing

Last month I’d thrown out my previous rules completely and switched back to my listening to my current favorite songs. This month, however, I’ve moved into a sort of happy medium, to listen to lyricless songs that are still more song than ambient soundtrack.

A great way to accomplish that, I’ve found, is to turn to movie soundtracks. They are full of emotion and great for doing your English homework or writing for fun, and they help drown out the distracting noises of people that may be around you.

To add even more fun I’m sharing my favorite soundtracks for movies based off of books!

The Lord of the Rings

Of course I love the books. And the movies. I love great stories and this series fits the bill both in literature and cinematic editions. But I also love these soundtracks to play in the background for writing any genre of book because they just spark my imagination.

Pride and Prejudice

The 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice is my favorite on screen adaptation and I can and have argued with those who disagreed on this. Sure, there are screen editions that portrayed every single tiny detail that happened in the book, and that’s pretty cool. But the acting was completely flat to me in those versions so I won’t make myself sit through a painful performance just because it’s more detailed. Well, actually I can and will if the alternative is a flashy adaptation that really kills the source story (I’m looking at you Disney retelling of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. I still prefer the BBC version of the series because Disney completely missed the plot on this one.) But anyways, the music of this movie and the emotion of it is excellent, and I may or may not have watched this movie weekly in Middle school during 2007-08 and monthly at the beginning of High School.

Jurassic Park

A person doesn’t always need calm and soothing music to work by. The suspense of this soundtrack is really key for me when I’m doing work that I don’t want to do. It’s like the violence of the music soothes me when I want to put things off forever but know I can’t because I have a job to do and bills looming if I don’t. (Because that’s one of the joys of adulthood.) You may relate more to doing math homework you hate. Or some other homework that involves calculations if you are anything like me. It can be freeing to sort of vent your frustrations through the music.

Happy writing and studying adventures!

I hope my favorite songs can help you focus on whatever work you have on your plate, like they’ve helped me.

 

 

A Playlist to Revise By

I personally love music. I love listening to it. I love just going about the average every day parts of my life to a soundtrack. But just like I shared in my last Revising Playlist post, I have a few requirements from my revision music.

  1. It’s hard to stay focused when your soundtrack has words

  2. This includes even words in other languages you don’t understand, as that can still distract your writing

My solution then? Skip the actual music and use ambient soundtracks instead, either meant to be white noise like cafe sounds or meant to get you into the mood for a scene you are writing with genre ambient soundtracks meant to sound like fantasy world music. And that worked pretty well.

But I still love music and want to listen to the real deal. Lately I’ve thrown out my previous rules completely and switched back to my current favorite songs.

Wait- Maroon 5

This song is completely stuck in my head. I don’t think it’s a life changing song or anything grand like that, but it’s a great earworm that my brain can not just let go even after listening to it maybe a dozen times on a recent long car trip.

Denouement- Amusism

This song is amazing. And free on Google Play. And amazing. And now I need to buy all the rest of the band’s music.

Sadly no Youtube video of it so you can’t really get a feel for it before downloading, but seriously the song is great electropop.

Later a Dream- Grooms

This is a great song that lies on the genre spectrum somewhere between acoustic and the easy listening version of pop. (You know what I’m talking about.) It gives me soothing vibes, while also being cheery. I’m a fan of this at any rate.

Happy writing and studying adventures!

I hope my favorite songs can help you focus on whatever work you have on your plate, like they’ve helped me.

 

Love is a Kind of Magic

In honor of February, we are on our last installment of Romance classics. In the past few weeks we’ve visited English romance classics, and world romance classics.

Today we are diving into the category of Fantasy Romances! These are a little sparse to choose from the English canon (canon= what we call the collection of all classics), as there aren’t a ton of fantasy books written before the early 1900’s in general that are still well known today, let alone romantic ones. That said I’ve combed through all the lists of classic literature and found three that fit this theme perfectly AND are a good read. Win-win, amirite?

Ramayana

ramayanThis Central Asian classic (India, Bengal, Persia, and basically every culture in that whole region have their own versions of it) features a beloved wife who is kidnapped by a demon and held for basically a year. Then the hero rescues her, only to have their relationship fall apart at the question of whether she still loves her husband or has instead fallen for her once captor. This story could be described in Western literary terms as “The Tale of Everyman” meets “Hades and Persephone”.

The King of Elfland’s Daughter

51fp8xbgpblThis book by Lord Dunsany hails from the 1920’s. That means any similarities between it and JRR Tolkien’s character Lúthien Tinúviel and her love story can’t be because Elfland is a copy of that story- after all, it predates it.

This is a story of an elf maiden and a human man falling in love. Their love is NOT smooth sailing. I feel like I’ve already revealed too much of the plot by saying it has some similarities to Lúthien, so I won’t go any deeper into this. Suffice to say it has elves and magic and two lovers from different worlds who will not find it easy to be together.

Beren and Lúthien

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Now that I’ve mentioned them I have to include them again, huh? “Beren and Lúthien” is the first NEW book by J.R.R. Tolkien that has come out in years. Once again his son has combed through piles of old notes and done a bit of judicious editing to bring the story together into one novel for the benefit of the legions of fans of the deceased author.

The story of a human and elf falling in love, I am not so sure of the rest of what happens in this tale. I have read abbreviated references to this, of course, included in the footnotes and appendices of Tolkien’s previous books, but I have not gotten around to this particular full length novel version. I’m really looking forward to reading it, actually!

Which of these is your favorite?

Adventures in The Forest

The forest is a pretty magical place to me, but it’s not that way all the time. Any part of nature can be treacherous and threaten your life. Especially if you live in it all alone without the conveniences of modern life to show to you from danger. Today were going to dive in to some classic and some new adventure books based in the wild!

Hatchet

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Hatchet is an adventure classic, a straightforward tale of a boy who ventures into the world alone and must fight against the forces of nature which threaten to kill him even while his secret tries to tear him apart.

My Side of The Mountain

Sam is a 12-year-old boy who hates his family's cramped New York City apartment and decides to run away to his great-grandfather's abandoned farm in the Catskill Mountains. He reads a book about wilderness survival and uses his fledgling skills to stay alive: camping, hunting, and even making a peregrine falcon named Frightful his pet and hunting companion. Inspired an entire generation of kids including probably Richie Tenenbaum to be fascinated by falconry, and was named to the the Newbery Medal Honors list in 1960.

This was one of my dad’s favorite books growing up, but it took me a few chapters to warm up to it. Naturally, when I was forced to read it in school, I wasn’t a fan of it at first just because I was against the principal of assigned reading. once I really got into it though I was a big fan of this! It’s a classic survival book, yes, but it’s cool in the clever ideas he uses for said survival. I will definitely be reading this!

The Sign of the Beaver

It's 1769 and 12-year-old Matt is left on his own in the wilderness while his father resettles their family. He befriends a 14-year-old Native American chief's grandson named Attean and learns to hunt and fish, and is eventually invited to join the tribe and move north. Some of the descriptions of native culture in this book are dated, but the underlying message is of acceptance and understanding.

This book is a little different because it relies on teamwork for the hero to survive. it’s a pretty historical novel, not really because it’s old but because some of the cultural portrayals are. That said a story of a boy basically abandoned by his family coming to find his identity through friendship with someone who is supposedly his enemy by virtue of race alone is both interesting and encouraging. I flipped through it, but I definitely intend to sit down and read it front to back someday soon.

Have you tried these books? What adventure books are your favorites?

Adventures in The Snow

I recently completed a post on awesome classic adventure books based in the jungle. You guys seemed to be fans of it, so I will take this series further!

The Call of the Wild

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This classic tale is about a man, his dogs, and the struggle to survive. I’m particularly drawn to rereading this right now because I feel I struggle to survive with how the weather has been very gross this winter!

Balto, but the book

The Cruelest Miles: The Heroic Story of Dogs and Men in a Race Against an Epidemic by [Salisbury, Gay, Salisbury, Laney]

I think everyone has heard of the heroic dog named Balto. The story of a sled team racing to get medicine during a pandemic is still well known thanks to a 90s  animated movie. THIS version, however, is a little more grown-up and a lot more factual! I’m a major dog nut, some definitely reading this.

Winterkill

Winterkill

Something old, something new, right? I wanted to feature a more recent adventure book because it’s awesome. “Outside the gates of Emmeline’s village is a horror no one stupid enough to tempt. But facing the unknown might be the only way to escape the evil hiding among their own…” this is on my must read list for winter and I think it just might end up on yours too.

Have you read any of these books? Can you recommend your own favorite adventure novels?

Adventures in the Jungle

This month we are going to dive into action stories, starting with today’s scene: the jungle. A lot of interesting action stories are based on this setting, and today we are going to look at a few of them.

Tarzan of The Apes

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Edgar Rice Burrough wrote this classic tale of a child abandoned on foreign soil and orphaned by a wildcat’s attack who ended up being raised into a man by apes. A rather unlikely tale, indeed, despite the scattered stories throughout human history of feral children raised by various types of animals- sure, it can happen, but it usually doesn’t.

This combines a bit of the element of survival, plus exploring strange jungles (always an Action genre favorite), along with the question of finding your place in the world. And maybe a little bit of romance on the side with our heroine/damsel-in-distress Jane.

The Jungle Book

jungle_book-2What would a collection of jungle based action books be without Kipling’s most famous book? I’m personally not a huge fan of the author as a human, my impression of his personality when he was alive was of a fairly ethnocentric individual based on reading his work, but I’m not one to hold a questionable author against a good book.

This book features another feral child (Are all jungle themed action books based on feral children???) who doesn’t really go on a quest so much as he just lives his very colorful life, but then in the end a bad guy pops up so he has to leave his home and join the humans. It’s a little unusual as far as plot goes because leaving home to start an adventure is usually the beginning of the story and not the end, but this book breaks that standard and I kind of like that.

Ken Ward in the Jungle

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This book features a museum curator and his explorer brother, and their adventures together. Instead of Africa or India, this jungle is supposedly in Mexico. I kind of like that this is still a solid adventure novel, but unlike the others the star of the book is a giant nerd. There’s something appealing about that to me as a giant literary nerd.

You should definitely read this book, especially since you’ve probably never read it and none of your friends have- so this is basically the #1 Hipster choice of classical books. Even if you don’t care about being the first of your friends to know about something new, this is a fun read anyways. And, again, as is classic for adventure novels, there is no slow pacing so you won’t be bored at any point unless you respond to books very differently than I do.

Which of these have you read already or plan to read in the future?

 

 

A Playlist to Revise By

I personally love music. I love listening to it. I love just going about the average every day parts of my life to a soundtrack.

It’s hard to stay focused when your soundtrack has words

But writing is a little messy when I listen to my normal playlists. I’ve known since my student years that when I work in silence I can’t get anything done, but when I write to the pop music that I do the vacuuming by or use to survive commuting I end up writing snippets of the lyrics into my work. Sometimes that’s a pretty good thing, but other times… well, there aren’t many cases where the hero of an epic Fantasy needs to “Shake it Off”. It just doesn’t work for what I’m writing. More energetic music without words like Electro Pop makes me want to dance more than write, and that’s not really useful either!

Words in other languages can still distract your writing

One solution a lot of other creatives I know use, especially studio artists, is to listen to music in the same genre that they normally go for, but in a language they don’t understand. That’s helpful, but sometimes any words at all can be too distracting. Besides, even foreign music tends to have snippets of English thrown in just for kicks, and I also don’t need characters that are “ready to bingo”. (Don’t worry Super Junior, I can guarantee my lyrics would be much funnier or even plain incomprehensible if I ever attempted to write even one line in Korean.)

Maybe the solution for a distraction free soundtrack is not to use actual music at all

So the next thing I’ve tried was to use an ambient noise soundtrack instead of actual music. You can find hours long clips of nature sounds like rain or snow, or atmospheric sounds like a crackling fire or bird calls in a tropical paradise.

For me the best ambient noise for concentrating has definitely been sites that let you mix your own soundtrack with different volumes for different components. This cafe mix, for example, lets me adjust the sounds of clacking silverware, the low murmer of indistinct conversations, a quiet rain, and other little background noises.

Genre Theme Music

When ambient noise won’t cut it, genre themed music called useful titles like “Fantasy Ambient Playlist” or “Science Fiction Ambient noise” are pretty useful.

Of course, if all else fails, doing a quick Winnie The Pooh stretch usually gets my blood moving just enough that I can focus on sitting down and moving the magic of the Shadeworld series along 🙂

Vampires and Faeries and Mermaids, Oh My! Researching Politics to Write my Magical World.

Hi all. I’m the author that writes this blog. And the books you see on the main page. Actually I write  a lot of things to be honest.

But one thing that has made me waaay late on my deadline to finish writing PS The Dragon Fights, the second installment in the epic Shadeworld series, is that I challenged myself by writing something new I have little experience with. What does that mean?

Writing a Council Scene, or Why the Heck Did I Sign Myself Up For This Torture

Spoiler of First Book, also discussion of my next book (PS The Dragon Fights) ahead

If you’ve read PS The Dragon Bites (available on Amazon US here, or Amazon India or Amazon Australia or any other Amazon)  you’ll know that the wizards are leading the rebellion threatening to not only overthrow the Dragons that rule all of the Shadeworld, but to destroy their world itself.

In the next book the other leaders of the world come together to try to address this problem. It gets messy, of course, because even in a world full of magic politics is not going to be smooth sailing.

-End of Spoiler-

To write a battle council of magical creatures surprisingly involves some research into real world politics.

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Researching Politics

I’ve never really been a politician and never even ran to be the president of fourth grade, let alone run for any office more serious than that, so I don’t have a lot of personal experience to draw on. It was a little dry watching hours of Parlimentary and Congressional meetings on Youtube, but I got through it, and I came out the other end absolutely sure that I maybe hopefully understand how a political meeting of any sort would likely go down. Hopefully the scene reflects some of the flavor and verisimilitude I think I’ve gained through my efforts.

I hope you’ll read the book once it’s released live and tell me how well I did!

 

Books, Tea, and Blogs to Read

Did I just use my main page’s header image as the featured image for a blog post? Yes, yes I did. Isn’t that basically a crime against everything blogging? Maybe. I did it anyways though, so there you have it.

Today we are not here to talk about photography however. We are here to talk about the magic that is Maxxesbooktopia. I did a little bit of post stalking- that’s a normal thing other people do when they see a new face pop up as having liked one of their posts, right? It’s not just creepy me?- and I have copied like half of his December To Be Read list because there are a lot of great recent YA and speculative fiction (Fantasy, Horror, Sci Fi) books on there that I haven’t read yet, and many of them I hadn’t even heard of yet.

Maxxesbooktopia

I love the books Max puts up. Of course I love reading any book blogs because I am all about books, but I’m really into his posts specifically because they are just a good place to go when you’re in a re-reading rut you crave escape from. I’m so glad I found has blog and I think you’ll be happy if you follow him!