Friday, June 3, 2011

Tidbits: June Edition

Picture / Photo Find

Something I Did

May 30th was my twenty-third birthday. Hooray! Considering this post is supposed to represent June, this statement may be a little off. But I couldn't bring myself to post about my birthday on its own. It didn't seem right. So I waited for June. It's strange to be twenty-three. I don't feel much different, but I know that I've crossed a line of some sort. Twenty-three. How grown up am I supposed to be now?

Not much, by the looks of things. I celebrated by seeking out macrons. As I've said in previous posts, bakeries don't exist where I live. If they do, they close within months because of lack of patrons and high rent. And even if they do stay, they never carry macarons. They were mythical desserts. So the family and I took an hour's ride to track down some of those unicorn-rare treats, in a bakery far, far away. And I felt like a pirate when I opened the box and found them all smiling up at me like gold doubloons:

From left to right: chocolate, pistachio, raspberry, banana, and orange. Surprisingly, pistachio tasted the best. I'm happy to report that they were delicious.

A Quote from a Book I Love

Thanks to MJ over at The Woodland Library, I found out about a wonderful book called The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente. For anyone who loves a good fairy tale - complete with strange, heart-warming characters, exciting adventure, and a lot of mystery, this is the book for you. The voice of the book is witty and old-world sounding; this is the type of book you might discover hidden away in the back rooms of a secret bookstore. It actually started out online, so you can read the first few chapters and see if you like it (and don't forget to listen to the song).

I had the hardest time choosing just one excerpt, but here it is:

"The Leopard of Little Breezes yawned up and further off from the rooftops of Omaha, Nebraska, to which September did not even wave good-bye. One ought not to judge her: all children are Heartless. They have not grown a heart yet, which is why they can climb high trees and say shocking things and leap so very high grown-up hearts flutter in terror. Hearts weigh quite a lot. That is why it takes so long to grow one. But, as in their reading and arithmetic and drawing, different children proceed at different speeds. (It is well known that reading quickens the growth of a heart like nothing else.) Some small ones are terrible and fey, Utterly Heartless. Some are dear and sweet and Hardly Heartless At All. September stood very generally in the middle on the day the Green Wind took her, Somewhat Heartless, and Somewhat Grown."

Song I Can't Stop Repeating

"The Engine Driver" by The Decemberists

This song puts me in a quiet, pensive mood. With foot-tapping. And the lyrics are wonderful:

And I am a writer, writer of fictions
I am the heart that you call home
And I've written pages upon pages
Trying to rid you from my bones
My bones
My bones

A Writer Thing

Lately I've been writing like something is chasing me. I can't say that what's coming out onto my Word documents are lousy because of this speed, but I'm astonished at how fast the words flow. I made a promise to myself that I would finish my manuscript (for that is what it is) for Birdcage Girl by the end of the summer. So perhaps my fingers have caught up with my head. Chapters are pouring out of me like a flood.

Many writers feel sad to see a novel end, to reach that very last page and know - besides revisions - that they are done. You have to say goodbye to your characters and tip your hat to the world that you've been exploring through every late night, every snatched moment. I'm not near the end of Birdcage Girl - I think I'm almost at the middle of the book (experimentally short chapters means a novel will take a lot longer to finish than one would think, haha). It's strange, even in the middle, to think that it will end.

I attended another summer workshop yesterday, and this is what we talked about after finishing for the day. My two fellow writer-friends have already finished manuscripts; one has an agent and the other must begin revising his first draft. They know what it's like to finish. It was fun picking their brains and enjoying a nice mango smoothie while I was at it.

So I'm trying to ride the wave of writing while I can. I feel like I'm on a roller coaster with my characters strapped in next to me. They're ready to go. I just, somehow, need to send us all flying down the first drop.

Video I Watched Too Many Times

Because I love stop motion.

Food I'm Craving

I want marmalade! You know, I've never had it before.

What sparked this desire is that I'm working with a terribly annoying character who is still, to this day, withholding his true name. I think I've found-and-replaced his name numerous times already, and I'm still not happy with what's there. He started out as Ruari, and now he's Buell. But I don't really like either. And I don't have much trouble with character names in general. There's always a rebel.

So when I was reworking this character's description, I described his hair was being the color of bottled marmalade. And so I feel like, if I eat some marmalade, perhaps his real name will pop into my head. What do you think? And what's good to put marmalade on?

Marmalade photo found here
Photo finds from We Heart It


  1. And once again, you give me a new non-"nerdy" song for me to love. :)

    That book sounds awesome. I'm adding it to my list.

    About the Tough Guide To Fantasyland-- right now I'm reading another book by her that's actually set IN Fantasyland- Dark Lord of Derkholm. Derk's been chosen as this year's Dark Lord, but he gets injured by a dragon, so it's up to his six kids (two humans and four griffins he raised from eggs) to keep all of his Dark Lord duties running smoothly until he's better. It's hilarious, yet not a parody like the Tough Guide is.

  2. Aww, haha. I just discovered The Decemberists myself, and I feel a little late on that. Trust me, the book will blow your mind. It's fantastic :)

    Cool! I totally have Tough Guide to Fantasyland is my mental list of books to read. I will get to it eventually, and I can't wait :D

  3. Happy belated birthday, Kim!!!

    Ahhh! I still need to try macarons! Hm, I might have to start investigating and find somewhere to get them near here.

    Confession: I'm not sure I've ever listened to a Decemberists song all the way through. Not sure why. Just was never a priority, I guess. BUT! That situation is now rectified. I really enjoyed 'The Engine Driver'. :)

    That's so cool the words are surging out of your brain! I hope you don't get trampled by them. Ha... ha... Such a mental image there.

    Marmalade tastes good on toast! Actually, I can't remember if I've ever eaten it either... But Paddington Bear eats it on buns and toast and things and he's addicted to the stuff so he should know. Haha. (Yes, I follow the advice of fictional characters... :P)

    The video is so cool! I love videos that use that effect... not sure what it's called. It's kind of like the 'Her Morning Elegance' video.

    ANYHOW. This comment is getting absurdly long. It needs to end... NOW!

    No, wait.... now. Now it can end. ;)

  4. Oh my, where to start?

    1)Happy Birthday! I know the strange feeling that comes along with birthdays, I am turning twenty at the end of the month and am not sure how I feel about it. I almost feel like running into the forest on each upcoming birthday and avoiding it all together, I won't age past twenty :p I too love macarons and they are a rarety here as well, there is but one bakery that sells them and I fully plan on making a journey there quite soon.

    2)That book looks just lovely, I added it to my wishlist. I have a special place in my heart for fairytales, and the writing style of this particular one seems just lovely.

    3)I too am working on a novel, it is strange since I have only ever done short pieces and have had absolutely no professional writing training whatsoever (aside from the regular highschool english of course). I suppose I shall see what happens, but you are very talented and I have all the faith in the world for you.

    xx and hugs


  5. ooh, happy birthday! I hope it was a lovely day :)

  6. Gah, of course I had to comment because of the pretty pictures! *drools*

    Seriously though, I am so relieved to hear that a talented writer (such as yourself) struggles with character names as well! They are always the very first thing I try to figure out because I can never properly write/think until I unearth what their called.

    Names are so (annoyingly) important.

    P.S. Happy belated birthday!

  7. @Kristin Oh, names are definitely the hardest part.
    I called a character "Cool Male Name" for about half of the entire first draft of my novel before I decided on a name for him.

  8. @Melee Thank you! Yeah, I wish maracrons weren't so secret. At the very least, Food Network should start making them a regular. They're lettin' me down, haha.

    Yay, I'm glad to hear it. I'm so late on the whole Deccemberists thing, and I haven't gotten around to listening to any of their other songs - but I'm looking forward to it. I think they probably have some great songs and lyrics just waiting to be discovered.

    I think I'm learning what being trampled by words feels like. It's... so dizzying. And then I just want to crawl into bed and go to sleep because my fingers are tired from all the typing, haha.

    Paddington Bear! Ooooh, I haven't seen him in a long time. I totally forgot about his love for marmalade! So cute. And, well yeah, you know him. Don't be bashful :D I got a sweet orange marmalade from Smuckers and it is so SWEET. I thought I was eating candy!

    Yay, Her Morning Elegance!

  9. @Jhordyn

    Thank you! Ahhh, you'll have to make some kind of birthday post! It's surprisingly nice to be in my twenties; I feel like life's bit easier - at least, as far as confidence goes. I'm a lot less lost than I was in high school at least, haha. But you should go to the forest anyway. It's a valid excuse.

    Yes, make the macaron journey! And then take pictures :D

    Yay, you're going to love the book. I was blown away. Beagle, who wrote the awesome "The Last Unicorn," wrote a small blurb about it in the inside flap, saying how he loves it so much and wants to have all his children read it (his children are like in their forties, haha). But id Beagle approves, then we're all good.

    Ahhh, are you? That's SO exciting (I want to read it). Once you start writing a novel, short stories aren't as fun anymore. At least for now, haha. I just want to keep writing these long stories because they are, in some ways, so much freer than short stories. Thank you so much :D I think that everyone's writing journey is different; you don't need any professional experience in create a great story - some people find it helpful and others don't.

    The community of grad school is what powers me; think being around people who are working hard on their stories gives me strength to keep trying and improving. Ah, and a lot of practice. Keep writing and you will get better :)

  10. @Kristin

    Hi!!!!!! Thank you for following me on my blog :D

    Haha, thanks, but I think every writer has character naming problems. I firmly believe that it depends on the character. Some characters are born with a good sense of what they will be called; either you know right away or one session with a baby names book does it. That's how it usually works with me.

    But once in a while you'll have a character that just wants to make your life miserable - he or she just brushes off every name you give them. I don't think it's a matter of getting to know your character better. In the case of my marmalade boy, I know him quite well. But, man, he just wouldn't give.


    Hahaha, I love the "Cool Male Name" filler you used for your novel! I'm impressed; I can't move on without settling on a name.