31 December 2012

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"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 28

This is the last readalong post for Little House on the Prairie, and also the last post of the year for Shredded Cheddar (!!!). After this, we'll be reading Farmer Boy. I hope you're looking forward to it as much as I am! =)

Now a great many Indians came riding along the Indian trail. Indians were everywhere. Their guns echoed in the creek bottoms where they were hunting. No one knew how many Indians were hidden in the prairie which seemed so level but wasn't. Often Laura saw an Indian where one hadn't been an instant before.

Indians often came to the house. Some were friendly, some were surly and cross. All of them wanted food and tobacco, and Ma gave them what they wanted. She was afraid not to . . .

Jack was cross all the time, even with Laura. He was never let off the chain, and all the time he lay and hated the Indians . . .

Ma may be the family's barometer of emotional health, but I think Jack gives us some worthwhile "readings," too. It's a huge red flag, for instance, when he has to be kept chained all the time. And his increasing loss of freedom parallels that of the Ingalls family. There's something very wrong when a good watchdog can't do his job . . . and when the fear of a massacre holds good people hostage to strangers.

So now, as promised, let's discuss the Indians.

29 December 2012

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Locus Focus: Take Eighty-Six!


Welcome to Dining Rooms Day: The Movie Edition!

December has been a good month for dining rooms. We've managed to look at one from a long-running Middle Grade series, one from an award winning literary novel, and one from an enduring Victorian classic. Today, I feature a dining room from one of the most memorable comedies of my childhood--one I look at with totally new eyes as an adult. Perhaps I'll pick it apart in a Twelve Things post soon; but until then, I'll only say as much as will fit my Top Secret December Theme.

As for January, which is coming up soon, I don't think we'll be doing Locus Focus then. I'd like to give the "Two or Three" Book Club a lot more time, especially since I have an idea for the next novel that I'd like to sell to everybody. So that will be the bulk of the book content next month. We'll do another room of the house in February. I'm already open to suggestions for that!


28 December 2012

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Friday Night Sitcom: Charles in Charge

Welcome to another Friday Night live blog! I don't have a movie for you, but I do have a great sitcom episode! I hope you brought the popcorn . . . =)


0:04 They kept this theme song and the facade of the house for all five seasons! It's too bad they couldn't have kept the cast, but let me not get into that rant right now.
1:11 I can't be the only one who applauded at that carol! =P And not just because I like how economically the script alone could have set up this episode's time setting.
2:11 "How can you be homesick when you're not going anywhere?" . . . "Because he's home and I'm sick!" As the Mythbusters would say: PLAUSIBLE! I once knew a guy in uni whose younger brother had become so attached to the nanny that their parents let her take him back to her own country for weeks at a time on her holidays.
2:18 "How about your brother?" One thing that did bother me about Season 1 was the way Charles was doing things that members of the family should have been doing for each other . . . but then I remembered that that is what friends are often for.
3:03 "Grandma Irene thinks I'm weird." Oh, Douglas, that's what family members are often for. =P
4:49 I loved the 80s pop culture reference from Douglas and the American literature allusion from Charles, but I had to look up Beany and Cecil. =P Good one, anyway, Buddy! LOL!
5:23 How 80s are those banana yellow socks?!?! I wish I could be fourteen again--but only if I get to be Lila Pembroke!
5:54 If I ever create a Charles in Charge Season 1 Marathon Drinking Game, one rule would be: "Drink whenever Lila mentions popular girl Sally Stephanato"! LOL!
6:36 I'm actually on Buddy's side because Charles deserves a break . . . but I know Charles is going to stay and I love him for it.
7:45 "He'll just call Sally Stephanato--" DRINK!
8:07 Yes, that's Rue McClanahan! But before she was a Golden Girl. =)
9:27 Note that while we think of Grandma Irene as taking over Charles's room, she isn't happy that Charles has taken over her room. LOL!

Well, what do you think so far? As I've said, there have been episodes that made me think that Charles is doing Mr. Pembroke's job of raising the children, and that it is, as Americans would say, "inappropriate." But then I balance it against Mr. Pembroke's own paternal interest in Charles's welfare and realise that quite a complicated dance is unfolding in the former's household. The Pembroke children get some necessary independence from their parents by getting to turn to Charles instead . . . but all the while, Charles is also being solicitously mentored by Mr. and Mrs. Pembroke.

Let me know what you think of this arrangement in the combox, and then come back for what Grandma Irene thinks! =)

27 December 2012

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Twelve Things about The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1

12. If you follow this blog religiously (and of course you do!), then you know that I watched Breaking Dawn, Part 2 before this one. See my Twelve Things post about the last Twilight Saga movie to know why it convinced me to give this one a chance . . . and while watching, also to give it a break

11. Part 1 begins with different characters' reactions to Bella and Edward's wedding invitations--and at first I thought it should have opened with Charlie. Not only is Billy Boyd the best actor in the entire franchise, but his character is the only one who senses that Bella is passing beyond our reach . . . because she is passing behind his reach . . . and not just because she is growing up.

10. But I soon figured out why director Billy Condon decided to open the story with Jacob. In his hands, what drives Breaking Dawn, Part 1 is not the development of Bella and Edward's relationship, but the development of Jacob's character! Interesting, aye? 

So let's talk about "imprinting" for a moment, because it's kind of important. 

26 December 2012

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Wednesday Night Theme Song: "New boy in the neighbourhood . . ."

You may be familiar with the syndicated 80s sitcom Charles in Charge, which is about a young man in uni who has a job as an au pair to three children, but you might not recognise most of the cast in the Season 1 opening . . .


Until this year, I had never seen any episodes from the first season, which was the only one to feature Charles's first family, the Pembrokes. And now that I have, I feel deprived and downright cheated, because they are so much better than his second family, the Powells.

Heck, the whole show was better in Season 1: the characters, the plots, the writing, the styling, the twist on the Top Secret December Theme . . . Charles in Charge became a completely new show after it switched families on set and switched producers behind the scenes.

25 December 2012

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"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 27

Mary Ingalls' wanting to be clean and neat and ladylike all the time was one thing in Little House in the Big Woods. She takes it to a whole new, frustrating level in Little House on the Prairie. That means that, yes, Shaz, I did want to smack her after I read the following passage. =P

Laura stirred her beads with her finger and watched them sparkle and shine. "These are mine," she said.

Then Mary said, "Carrie can have mine."

Ma waited to hear what Laura would say. Laura didn't want to say anything. She wanted to keep those pretty beads. Her chest felt all hot inside, and she wished with all her might that Mary wouldn't always be such a good little girl. But she couldn't let Mary be better than she was.

So she said, slowly, "Carrie can have mine, too."

"That's my unselfish, good little girls," said Ma.

After the covered wagon, it seems that the second most popular visual motif for this novel is the contrast between the conspicuously blonde Mary and the comfortably brunette Laura. It will be interesting to see how their relationship develops and how it will come to a head (later in the series?) when Laura finds more of her voice around Mary.

The more immediate conflict in this novel is that between the white settlers and the Indians. I've already written some notes down, but since I haven't read further than the Christmas chapter of this book, I will save that big political discussion for the next readalong post.

22 December 2012

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Locus Focus: Take Eighty-Five!


My favourite holiday dining room is not actually from today's featured novel. It is the Bjorkman Family's Dining Room, from The Unlikely Romance of Kate Bjorkman by Louise Plummer, and the only reason I'm not writing about it today is that I already wrote about it two years ago, in Take Thirty-Four! (Yes, click on the link. You know you want to read that post!)

This week (UPDATE: Yes, I know how late this is! I'm so sorry, but the holidays have kept me really busy and I can't even schedule posts in advance any longer!), I'm going with the most predictable dining room I could have chosen for this Locus Focus weekend. It sort of goes with the Top Secret December theme . . . but not as much as the others I've chosen. You probably already know what it is . . .

19 December 2012

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"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 26

Once more, Shaz joins the readalong with her first post on Little House on the Prairie. Check it out at Scattershot and collect another clue about the Top Secret December Theme!

Something she brings up is a bit of that resistance to the big move which I mentioned last week. Unlike me, however, she hit the bull's eye: the character with the real mixed feelings about life on the prairie isn't Laura, but Ma.

"Dear me, Laura, must you yell like an Indian? I declare," Ma said, "if you girls aren't getting to look like Indians! Can I never teach you to keep your sunbonnets on?"

Pa . . . looked down at them and laughed.

"One little Indian, two little Indians, three little Indians," he sang softly. "No, only two."

"You make three," Mary said to him. "You're brown, too."

"But you aren't little, Pa," said Laura. "Pa, when are we going to see a papoose?"

"Goodness!" Ma exclaimed. "What do you want to see an Indian baby for? Put on your sunbonnet now and forget such nonsense."

The Ingalls may spend less than a quarter of the novel in their covered wagon, but that image is clearly a favourite with cover designers. =P And we can say that covered wagons bore the American spirit not just across a continent, but through many years of history, making possible innumerable little houses on a seemingly endless prairie.

18 December 2012

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Reading Diary: Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee

They walk back along an irrigation furrow. Lucy's bare toes grip the red earth, leaving clean prints. A solid woman, embedded in her new life. Good! If this is to be what he leaves behind--this daughter, this woman--then he does not have to be ashamed . . .

"Are you working on something in particular?" she asks . . .

"I have plans. Something on the last years of Byron. Not a book . . . Something for the stage, rather. Words and music. Characters talking and singing . . . I thought I would indulge myself. But there is more to it than that. One wants to leave something behind . . ."

"Doesn't being a father count?"

"Being a father . . . I can't help feeling that, in comparison to being a mother, being a father is a rather abstract business . . ."

When I pulled my copy of J.M. Coetzee's Disgrace from my shelves last weekend, all I planned to read was a certain dining room scene, which I then wrote about in Locus Focus: Take Eighty-Four. Of course, I ended up rereading the whole thing, and getting so much more out of it than I did back in uni. It all but demanded a Reading Diary entry.

And I would have been happy to oblige even if it didn't fit the Top Secret December Theme--which it does! =P

15 December 2012

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Locus Focus: Take Eighty-Four!


We're still doing Dining Rooms today, in line with the Top Secret December Theme, and I wanted to share a bit more about my "method" of doing Locus Focus.

Although last week's dining room came from a book I was reading for the first time (See Take Eighty-Three!), I get most of my featured settings from books I read in the past. What I do is stand in front of one of my bookcases, do a general scan of book spines, and let the titles exercise my memory. Some of them have great settings that I wouldn't have remembered off the top of my head. Today's dining room is one of these. 

14 December 2012

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"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 25

First of all, if you haven't already read Shaz's second post for our readalong, then please do: Little House in the Big Woods (Part Two). It's got a really cool video of a "wonderful machine" from the same time period as Laura Ingalls Wilder's childhood.

Now I hope nobody minds too much on behalf of their schedules if I announce a slight change in the readalong timetable. When I finally opened my copy of Little House on the Prairie earlier this week, I was surprised to see that it was twice as long as Little House in the Big Woods--and you already know that I regretted giving that one only two discussion posts. So this second novel is going to have a whopping four. How about that? =)

Pa said there were too many people in the Big Woods now. Quite often Laura heard the ringing thud of an ax which was not Pa's ax, or the echo of a shot that did not come from his gun. The path that went by the little house had become a road. Almost every day Laura and Mary stopped their playing and stared in surprise at a wagon slowly creaking by on that road.

Wild animals would not stay in a country where there were so many people. Pa did not like to stay, either. He liked a country where the wild animals lived without being afraid. He liked to see little fawns and their mothers looking at him from the shadowy woods, and the fat, lazy bears eating berries in the wild-berry patches.

In the long winter evenings he talked to Ma about the Western country . . .

The first few chapters of Little House on a Prairie were seriously traumatic for me. I hadn't realised how attached I had become to the first little house in the Big Woods--and I was surprised at how much I resented Pa for moving his family out of it and basically guaranteeing that they'd never see it again.

And I thought I saw some resistance from Laura, too, in the subtext . . . but that could just be me projecting. =P

13 December 2012

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November/December

Letting go of a good thing can be hard. I'm still mourning the end of "Are You Afraid of November?" and all the FF I didn't manage to write in time.

When I started that project, it had been such a long time since I seriously sat down to write fiction, that I was surprised to remember how demanding it can be. An author must be "on call" all the time--and the story can call at the most inconvenient times.

The long and short of it is that I simply cannot hold down a full-time job, host a readalong (and a weekly meme) on this blog, and write FF of any literary merit, all at the same time. Not without one of them paying the price. Only two are allowed to tango at this dance.

But it still breaks my heart that the FF had to go. I'm already committing the whole of next Lent to finishing the second of my "Before Midnight" Chronicles. (Ahem!) A very polished (but only by me) edit of what I now think of as Part 1 is already on FanFiction.net, in case you'd like to review it there:


How did the members of the Midnight Society meet each other when they all went to different schools and had different friends? This is how I imagine Gary and Kiki met. David makes a small appearance. A one-shot divided into short chapters, because that was how I wrote it. Complete.
Rated: K+ - English - Chapters: 5 - Words: 2,922 - Published: 12-14-12 - Gary & Kiki


And if you liked it enough to be looking forward to Part 2, then I hope you check back after Ash Wednesday.

Now I return all of us to our regularly scheduled Top Secret December Theme.

12 December 2012

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Awaiting the Poems!

Foam rubber stamp letter w ampersand & Rubber Stamp Letter Q
Stencil Number 2 number 6

I gave myself until this morning to flesh out a really great idea I had for my prompts . . . and then didn't quite get there. =P

But I do know that someone else may already be done with his and raring to link it up, so I'm putting this post up now and hoping that the poem gets here soon, too!

UPDATE: My awaited poem is finally here . . . but a little different from what I started out with. But the world itself is a little different from what I started out with.

11 December 2012

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"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 24

Guess what?! Someone else wrote a post for our book club! Visit Shaz's blog Scattershot for READALONG: Little House in the Big Woods.

As you remember from the Pet Sematary readalong, I like featuring different covers whenever I write a new post. And it turns out that two posts per book was a good idea after all, because Laura Ingalls Wilder's novels don't undergo as many "makeovers" as other books. That kind of makes sense. What you see below is, as far as I can tell, the cover of the current UK edition.

Once Aunt Lotty came to spend the day. That morning Laura had to stand still a long time while Ma unwound her hair from the cloth strings and combed it into long curls. Mary was all ready, sitting primly on a chair, with her golden curls shining and her china blue dress fresh and crisp.

Laura liked her own red dress, but Ma pulled her hair dreadfully, and it was brown instead of golden, so that no one noticed it. Everyone noticed and admired Mary's.

"There!" Ma said at last. "Your hair is curled beautifully, and Lotty is coming. Run meet her, both of you, and ask her which she likes best, brown curls or golden curls."

Now why should I have been surprised that there was sibling rivalry in the Big Woods? It's not all Man vs. Nature all the time. We also get some Girl vs. Girl--though I suppose we all end up rooting for Laura over Mary, if only because we see everything through Laura's eyes . . . and her vision is beautiful.

Revenge is a dish best served cold, aye, little sister? ;-)

08 December 2012

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Locus Focus: Take Eighty-Three!


Welcome to Dining Rooms Day!

Why travel the world for great settings when some really good ones are already to be found at home? I'll be featuring the "basic" rooms of a "regular" house for the next few Locus Focus month-long challenges. We're starting with dining rooms because they're closest to the Top Secret December Theme. (I'm the only one still having fun with this joke, aye?)

You can find out more about Locus Focus on the Settings page. If you write your own post, I'll link it at the end of this one and at the start of the next one. =)

Laura Ingalls Wilder's novels aren't the only ones I've been reading this month. Last week, I also started going through the shorts in the latest book of popular children's series that I managed to find a copy of. It's probably the only series I don't mind reading out of order.

06 December 2012

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"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 23

If anyone is thinking that Little House in the Big Woods is a mad leap from our last Book Club pick, Stephen King's Pet Sematary, then he wasn't really paying attention the last time. As soon as I started reading Laura Ingalls Wilder's classic, I felt nothing but uncanny continuity.

Once upon a time, sixty years ago, a little girl lived in the Big Woods of Wisconsin, in a little grey house made of logs.

The great, dark trees of the Big Woods stood all around the house, and beyond them were other trees and beyond them were more trees. As far as a man could go to the north in a day, or a week, or a whole month, there was nothing but woods. There were no houses. There were no roads. There were no people. There were only trees and the wild animals who had their homes among them.

Wolves lived in the Big Woods, and bears, and huge wild cats. Muskrats and mink and otter lived by the streams. Foxes had dens in the hills and deer roamed everywhere . . .

As the list of wild creatures grew longer, I kept expecting it to include a wendigo. =P I'm not saying that just to be funny, either. I did check a map of North America to see how far apart Laura's Wisconsin and Louis's Maine are in geography and not just in time--but to be honest, it's all wendigo country to me at this point.

But just to be clear, the setting has nothing to do with the Top Secret December Theme.

05 December 2012

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All I Want for Christmas . . . Are Advent Poems

Brick Letter w ampersand Magnetic Letter Q
Magnetic 
Number 2 Magnetic number 6
Learn More about Word & Question!


For everyone who isn't the wonderful Shaz, the answer to last month's riddle is . . . the long-running British TV series Dr. Who. Well, wasn't that fun? ;-P

More seriously now, my one regret for November was dashing off another riddle instead of a proper poem. I feel that I still owe Dauvit a real return for his prompts, so a second poem, plus the December schedule, can be found after the jump.

Although I'm planning to make my official December poem fit the Top Secret December Theme, the one that follows doesn't.

04 December 2012

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Dear Father Christmas, I've Been Good

This Week's Theme:
Books You Wouldn't Mind Santa Bringing You


First of all, yes, this post kind of fits the Top Secret December Theme! But don't look too hard for clues or anything.

I remember the first Christmas I no longer believed in Santa but still pretended I did so that I could get extra presents. My family should have known something was up when instead of asking for toys, I asked for cassette copies of Beatles albums. (Yes, Enbrethiliel, Santa has a recording studio . . .)

It is the memory of that Christmas that has inspired the twist I've put on my latest Top Ten Tuesday contribution. Although the bulk of my reading has been made up of "children's books" for years, I thought it would be a more interesting challenge to pack this list with "adult" books.


A Tenner:
Books for My Oversized Stocking

02 December 2012

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Twelve Things about The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2

12. So that you don't make it all the way to the end and then get angry because you had hoped I was going to pan this, I'll lay everything out on the table right now.

I didn't hate it.

In fact, I even kind of liked it. =P

11. The opening credits won me over immediately. There was something about the imagery of a northern winter depicted in the Twilight palette of stark black, icy white and blood red that was just so arresting . . . and so stylishly done. I felt that the movie was going for real artistry--and the issue of whether or not Stephenie Meyer's source story deserved it seemed peripheral. 

10. But it's not peripheral, is it? It's important to be clear about what all this beauty is in the service of. Ironically, the answer is . . . not so pretty.

I can only call it the "rebranding" of vampirism as the perfect makeover that lasts forever. Or the ultimate superpower. Or a combination of both, really. And Breaking Dawn, Part 2 does it so well, that I find myself wanting to be a vampire, too.

9. So Bella turns and gets eternal beauty, enhanced physical and psychic abilities . . . and a ton of swag. It's really the swag I have an issue with.

01 December 2012

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"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 22

We have a winner! In line with Shredded Cheddar's Top Secret December Theme, behold our--and I do mean our--December/January read:


So are you surprised that the Little House books won? I confess that I am! =)

I really thought Percy Jackson and the Olympians would win by a landslide, and even worried that commenters would protest that Laura Ingalls Wilder didn't stand a chance against Rick Riordan. (Not necessarily because he's better but because his books are just "hotter" these days.) Which shows how much I know, right? =P 

My plan is to write two posts per book, and ideally, to read one book a week. The posts will go up on Monday and Thursday (or Tuesday and Friday, if I'm running late). If you are reading along, I would love to know your own impressions of these novels. Please feel free to comment!

And if you decide to write your own posts that link up to any "Two or Three" Book Club meetings, I will be happy to return the favour by linking back to you. =)

Image Source: Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

30 November 2012

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Bad Page 4

Do you have any idea how proud I am that I finished this post? It may be a few days late for the ShredChedFanFicWriMo deadline, but at least it's actually here!

While I still think that the ultimate Are You Afraid of the Dark? FF would be a plausible epic backstory on how all the members met, I've always known that the most logical FF challenge is to write something that would pass as an episode. And since I will not be able to cap this FF extravaganza with the tale of how the gang gets together, I'll settle for capping it with a tale that was never told around the bonfire only because I was too young in the 90s to be one of D.J. MacHale's writers.

Consider the following to be the "lost" Episode 14 from Season 2. The references are at a bare minimum, so you can "watch" this even if you know nothing about the show. (Hint! Hint!) I've even got the intro in here for you . . .

24 November 2012

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Bad Page 3


What I have today for all you excited legions of Are You Afraid of the Dark? fans is some more of that backstory!!! Unfortunately, it's still not the story of how Gary met David.

I did start writing more Bad Pages for the two boys I've boldly claimed are "best friends" . . . but I couldn't seem to get them to run into each other. And then during yet another scene in which David finds himself alone, who should walk in but . . . Well, I guess I should let you find out for yourself. =)

Oh, what am I talking about? The other character's name is in the bloody title. =P So much for the element of surprise . . .

23 November 2012

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"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 21

While I've been enjoying the break from reading and the focus on creative writing that has characterised ShredChedFanFicWriMo, also known as November, I'd love to get back into books for December. And I knew as early as October that I wanted my next challenge to be a series--preferably a Middle Grade series.

After I determined my Top Secret December Theme, I settled on these two contenders:

vs.
Vote for Our December/January Series!!!

If Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House series wins, I will commit to reading the first five books. If Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson and the Olympians series wins, I will read all five books.

My hope is to finish by the end of December, but in case I don't, the reading will take over part of January, too. I hope that's okay with everyone! =)

Votes will be accepted until I close the polls on 30 November, because I'd like to publish the announcement of the winner soon after midnight on 1 December. You may vote whether or not you are a "Two or Three" Book Club member. (What's that, anyway? LOL!)

By the way . . . if this all seems sort of random, don't worry. It will make sense soon. Like, in January. =P

Image Sources: a) The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan, b) Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

20 November 2012

18 November 2012

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Bad Page 2


You know what we need? What we really, really need? An Are You Afraid of the Dark? title generator: that's what.

The image you see above is the Midnight Society's bonfire right before the magic dust is thrown on it. As much as I wanted to use a magic-dusted fire that I could superimpose some purple and yellow text on, I couldn't find one that didn't already have its own title. (Well branded, D.J. MacHale. Well branded.)

When I started this writing project, I knew that the story I wanted to tell the most was the backstory. As Gary explains in the pilot, all the members of the Midnight Society go to different schools and have different (daytime) friends. So how did they ever get together in the first place? It will take me a lot longer than ShredChedFanFicWriMo to figure it all out, but I do have a few "chapters" to share tonight.

Warning: Contains Occult Elements. (Please see the "disclaimer" at the end.)

16 November 2012

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Writing Diary, Entry #31

This was almost a Blank Page entry for my ShredChedFanFicWriMo project . . . until I remembered that I have actually been writing a lot.

I have heaps of bad pages in the apple green notebook I currently carry around, and therefore nothing to make excuses for. The reason this isn't a Bad Page post is that my latest story hasn't been encoded yet. I've just been far too busy at work.

But the weekend is upon us, so I should have something to share very soon. =)

In the meantime, you want to check out a slightly edited version of last week's story on FanFiction.net, under its new title "The Tale of the Forgotten Wish". I had to change it up a bit so as not to violate FF.net guidelines. The original version turns director D.J. MacHale's daughter into a character--which isn't allowed because she is not only "non-fictional" but also "non-historical." I wanted to keep the last name MacHale because it's part of the twist, but I changed the girl's first name to "Katie." Let's hope that's a good enough compromise!

Of course, there is more to editing than glorified copyreading. Mrs. Darwin's comment on Bad Page 1 about a "super creepy educational fairytale" showed me that I did not quite play up the moral angle of my story. There's more than one good reason why Kevin was wrong to do what he does in my unofficial sequel: the obvious one about black magic being dangerous . . . and the not-so-obvious one about what friends share between them.

While I don't want to hit a reader over the head with too explicit a moral, I think I may want to revisit that FF someday, to make it clearer that the real price of Kevin's attempt to collect his last wish is the loss of an incredible (if harrowing) experience he once shared with his best friend in the world, and now shares with no one.

14 November 2012

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Poem or Riddle?

Foam brick letter W ampersand single letter Cardboard letter q
Clock Number 2 Cardboard Bingo Number 5

Last month's macabre party may have created a monster. Poems have always challenged me, but riddles are so much more fun! =P So I sacrificed artistry for allusion and wrote another one for this month. 

But this time, I promise that the riddle will be easier to crack. =)

13 November 2012

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Twelve Things about Friday the 13th, Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan

12. Let's have a show of hands, please. How many other people saw the subtitle "Jason Takes Manhattan" and thought that this movie would be one big, puffy cheeseball of a gorefest?

*Raises Own Hand*

So when I finally sat down to watch this a few weeks ago, I was amazed at its quality. I think it's now one of my Top 5 Slashers of all time. While not a "classic" example of the genre, I can think of few others that can beat this one in terms of thoughtfulness.

11. It's worth repeating that Jason Takes Manhattan is the eighth movie in the Friday the 13th franchise. And it's worth noting that when this installment opens the total body count between the Voorhees mother and son is 78 victims, in less than ten years. (If that number seems a little low, it's because I'm not counting the fodder of Part V: A New Beginning.) You'd think that the people living around Crystal Lake would have taken a hint by then, aye? I imagine the sensible ones did, moving away and continuing their lives elsewhere. And well, it turns out that screenwriter Rob Hedden is sensible in exactly that way.

10. And now you may be thinking, "Yes, Enbrethiliel, we see why the setting had to change . . . But why New York City???"

10 November 2012

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Bad Page 1


You remember this episode, right? Based on the story The Monkey's Paw by W.W. Jacobs, it's one of the scariest in the entire franchise.

There are actually two stories in this episode--or to be precise, one and a half. The show opens with a story already in progress, narrated by Eric (probably my second favourite cast member because I already knew Jacob Tierney from Dracula: The Series). But right when it gets really scary, Eric reveals that he doesn't actually have an ending. =P That's when David steps in to save the meeting with "The Tale of the Twisted Claw".

This week's FF was inspired not just by David's story, but also by Eric's character.

Now, as we say in the FF community, please read and review! =)

07 November 2012

+JMJ+

Silver Poems!


What has come to mind, thanks to the title I just typed, was the curious coincidence that Beverly Sills is Silvery Bells, if you rearrange the letters a little. But that's not the word game you care about right now, is it? You want to know the answer to last month's riddle.(That would be W&Q 24.)

While Christopher's guess (The Hunger Games--LOL!) was my personal favourite, it was The Mike who came the closest when he said it must be a game that is played with a pen . . . like Hangman. =P And if you now whip out your Secret Decoder Rings, you'll know that that game is . . . Exquisite Corpse. =)

When I said (repeatedly, Bat, and on Twitter) that the answer was embedded in the poem, I was referring to the last line. This game was a Surrealist invention--basically Madlibs taken too seriously. The name demanded some morbidity in the imagery, but I admit I complicated matters by imagining a game in which participants could only "play" words that had become obsolete. You know, dead words. =P No dead word, no chance to play, which makes it your toll.

What? Do you all hate me now? Can't you save it until after the next game? Won't you at least read the poem in this post?

05 November 2012

+JMJ+

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I once read a writing manual that suggested committing to a certain word count target each day. So if you have nothing to add to your actual writing project, you should write about why you have nothing to add to your actual writing project. LOL! The idea is to be so turned off by the alternative task that you force yourself to do the original assignment. And it seemed like a good enough discipline when I decided to try it . . . which was when it backfired.

The fact is that I was so turned off by having to do it that I dropped the entire project then and there. I haven't attempted another novel since--although I do pretty well with blog posts . . . and the occasional poem . . . and even a Fan Fic or two. =P

But I'm serious about doing some creative writing this month--and apparently, that means serious enough to subject myself to that discipline again. If I can't produce at least four "Bad Pages" this month (one for each week of November), then I will produce four "Blank Pages" that will explain why.

Aside from the fact that I can't figure out how to get a good idea I do have to work, I've been exacerbating the problem with some good old procrastination.


03 November 2012

+JMJ+

Twelve Things about Monte Carlo

12. Ever since my sixteenth year came and went without a single romantic song and dance in a moonlit garden's gazebo (Name that film!), I've become quite the Scrooge--or if you prefer, the Grinch--of the teenage romantic fantasy, as perfected by Hollywood.

But there's something about it that I just can't quit. And like a good heroin dealer, Hollywood always has some smack. Welcome to my latest trip . . . to Monte Carlo. =P

11. Whenever someone parrots that platitude about travel expanding and improving the mind, I feel like quoting Mike Brady, who said, "Wherever you go, there you are." It's a line that was played for laughs in The Brady Bunch Movie, but it also happens to be true.

Heck, even Mahatma Gandhi apparently thought so--although he put a different spin on it. As he is quoted (twice!) Monte Carlo: "You must be the change you want to see in the world."

It's almost enough to make you forget that this movie is less about changing the world than it is about being changed by the world. =P

10. Before we go any further, we should note that the original destination of dreams for our world travelers was not Monte Carlo, but Paris.

01 November 2012

+JMJ+

October/November

I can fix a bad page. I can't fix a blank page. -- Nora Roberts

Anything worth doing is worth doing badly. -- G.K. Chesterton

When I said that Stephen King's Pet Sematary would be this blog's "October/November novel," that was because I thought it would take me longer to read than it did. Having finished it in less than a month, I don't have another book lined up for November. Which is kind of good, because I'd like to do something a little different this time.

My first idea was to do a watchalong for a TV series. I even had the two options all lined up . . .

31 October 2012

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Thirteen Things about Return of the Living Dead Part II

13. Does anyone else look at the title and think that calling something "Part II" of the "Return" is redundant? . . . No one? . . . Wait, really? No one???

But it's also true that Return of the Living Dead Part II is the most accurate title for a movie that was compelled to be the sequel to another movie called Return of the Living Dead. The real debate is whether the first flick merits its own title when (as far as I can tell) its own zombies have no predecessors in their own canon. But that's not a question I'll be settling any time soon.

12. I don't like watching sequels out of chronological order, but when I saw this one was about to start on Cinemax, I made it an exception for two reasons: I didn't want Burial Grounds month to come and go without even one review of a Horror movie with a significant cemetery; and I was betting that this would be the kind of thoughtlessly produced sequel with only the most superficial connections to the original, anyway.

Well, yes and no . . .

30 October 2012

+JMJ+

"Two or Three" Book Club Meeting 20

Can you believe we're finally done?!?!?! The best novel I read in 2012 is still F. Sionil Jose's Ermita (See my Reading Diary entry!)--but Stephen King's Pet Sematary certainly gave it a run for its money.

. . . And the house stood empty in the May sunshine, as it had stood empty on that August day the year before, waiting for the new people to arrive . . . as it would wait for other new people to arrive at some future date. A young married couple, perhaps, with no children (but with hopes and plans). Bright young marrieds with a taste for Mondavi wine and Lowenbrau beer . . . They would congratulate themselves on their lack of superstition, on their hardheadedness in snaring the house in spite of its history--they would tell their friends that it had been fire-sale-priced and joked about the ghost in the attic, and all of them would have another Lowenbrau or another glass of Moldavi, and they would play backgammon or Mille Bourne.

And perhaps they would have a dog.

One thing I never considered was that the house was in cahoots with the Micmac burying ground!!! (So now we know why Church is able to get in all those times . . .) Perhaps it's a good thing to be superstitious. At least once in a while.

And now I realise that "superstitions" is the word I wanted last week, which is when I started saying "taboos." =P


27 October 2012

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Locus Focus: Take Eighty-Two!


Welcome to the Burial Grounds Challenge:
The Movie Edition!

Can you believe the month is almost over??? Let's look at where we've been . . .

I opened the Burial Grounds challenge with an ancient tomb, moved on to a newly filled grave, wandered into a cemetery where the dead are safe from sharks, and am now topping everything off with a graveyard where no one is safe from the dead.

There must have been a million movie burial grounds to choose from, even if I hadn't decided to limit myself to Horror films; but in the end, I knew I had to stay true to my roots. And I think I have the perfect cemetery.

26 October 2012

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"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 19

You know what really boggles my mind? The fact that I will have the exact number of of Pet Sematary covers that I need to have a different one in each discussion post until we're done with the novel!!! And I don't even have to look outside the English language to do it!


"You want to what?" Dory asked again. "Rachel . . . you're upset . . . a night's sleep . . ."

Rachel only shook her head. She could not explain to her mother why she had to go back. The feeling had risen in her the way a wind rises--an early stirring of the grasses, hardly noticed; then the air begins to move faster and harder, and there is no calm left; then the gusts become hard enough to make eerie screaming noises around the eaves; then they are shaking the house and you realise that this is something like a hurricane, and if the wind gets much higher, things are going to fall down . . .

And now the time has come . . . to talk about Rachel Creed.

25 October 2012

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Reading Diary: BSC #9: The Ghost at Dawn's House by Ann M. Martin

I picked up the phone in Mom's bedroom and called Mary Anne.

"Hi," I said. "Want to come over? I have this great idea. I want to invite the whole club to my house and we'll search for a hidden passage."

"Oooh," said Mary Anne. "Scary. I'd love to."

"Do you think the others are free?"

"I know they are. I was looking at the appointment calendar during the meeting yesterday. We all had jobs this morning and we're all free this afternoon. Stacey's mother can probably drive us over."

"Perfect," I said. "Listen, can you call Kristy? I'll call Stacey and Claudia."

Just to be nice, I waited until it was past 1:00 in the morning to start reading this ninth installment in Ann M. Martin's Baby-sitters Club series. The last time Martin tried to do scary, she kind of failed (See my Reading Diary entry on BSC #2: Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls for details)--so I thought I'd more than meet her halfway this time. Well, I guess she had the same idea because she came prepared with the spookiest weapon in the storytelling arsenal: a Ghost Story.

Ghost Stories and Adventures in Baby-sitting are actually very compatible genres. I like to call the overlap "Governess Gothic"--and if you've read Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre and Henry James's Turn of the Screw, then you know what I mean. Which is not to say that The Ghost at Dawn's House is worthy to be a bookend to them (ROFL!!!), but to explain why Martin doesn't do too badly this time around. Although I don't think this story is structured as seamlessly as it might have been--not when a second ghost story becomes necessary and the hidden passage they find doesn't get to freak them out during a baby-sitting job--I find I can forgive it.

But that's because I'd say that the highlight of the novel is neither the ghost stories nor the baby-sitting, but the development of the girls' friendship.

24 October 2012

+JMJ+

"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 18

What a great choice Pet Sematary has turned out to be for Burial Grounds month! There are as many final resting places here as in all the month's Locus Focus posts (so far) combined! More, if you count the tomb of Lazarus, which is featured in two epigraphs and the thoughts of a couple of characters.

"God can take it back if he wants to," Ellie said. "He can do anything He wants to."

"Ellie, God doesn't do things like that," Louis said uneasily, and in his mind's eye he saw Church squatting on the closed lid of the toilet, staring at him with those muddy eyes as Louis lay in the tub.

"He does so," she said. "In Sunday school, the teacher told us about this guy Lazarus. He was dead and Jesus brought him back to life. He said, 'Lazarus, come forth,' and the teacher said if he'd just said 'Come forth,' probably everyone in that graveyard, and Jesus only wanted Lazarus."

An absurdity popped out of his mouth . . . "That was a long time ago, Ellie."

I really love Ellie Creed. If I don't write about her that much in these readalong posts, it's because I'm saving my thoughts for a Character Connection special.

20 October 2012

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Locus Focus: Take Eighty-One!


As I explained on Twitter last weekend, this post is late because I forgot the novel I was supposed to be featuring in the office. (And for some reason, I feel more guilty saying that than I ever felt in school when turning something in late because I had forgotten it at home the day before.)

Now that I've written about a tomb in Ancient Egypt and a grave in modern America, I thought I'd feature a Burial Ground from a setting where nobody really expects to find one . . .

19 October 2012

+JMJ+

"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 17

Do you know the only thing that's creepier than Church the cat? The cover I share with you today. You're probably not even reading this introduction because your retinas have been damaged by all the pink that undoubtedly caught your eye as this page loaded . . .

"I believe that we go on," he told his daughter slowly. "But as to what it's like, I have no opinion. It may be that it's different for different people. It may be that you get what you believed all your life. But I believe we go on, and I believe that Mrs. Crandall is probably someplace where she can be happy."

"You have faith in that," Ellie said. It was not a question. She sounded awed . . . "Do you think animals go on?"

"Yes," he said without thinking. And for a moment, he almost added,
Especially cats . . .

. . . "I was really silly about Church that day, wasn't I? Crying like that . . . If he died now, I could take it."


I usually don't mind updated covers that emphasise style over sensationalism . . . but whoever thought this palette would be good for Pet Sematary probably never read the book.