Sunday, November 24, 2013

MelbNano: 2013 Completed.

Many of you will remember that I was a fairly last minute joiner of this year's NaNo race. Yesterday, I finished the 50,000 words in 30 days, over two different novels and with two more novel ideas jumping up and ready to go. There's a part of me that is exhausted and done with writing (I wrote the 39,000 words in the lead up to the actual NaNo month...). That part of me is saying, 'Yeah, Nikki, just take the rest of the month off! Start writing again in December.'

I'll let you know how that goes ;)

I stopped actually "doing" NaNo for the last couple of years cause I hadn't managed to finish one for a while before that. I think the closest I managed recently was about 48,000 words. I hated that story by the end of it and couldn't pallet sitting down to pen even another 2k words. This year was different. Not only did I start the month halfway through a novel, and therefore get a refresher novel partway through, I loved what I was writing, almost the whole way through.

As well as that, I discovered this year all the write-in events happening around Melbourne, and attended many of them myself. I spent the better part of yesterday afternoon thinking back fondly particularly to the Night of Manuscripting Madly held in South Melbourne at Complete Post.

I remember explaining this night to my mum beforehand.

Me: I'm going to an all night writing sleepover.
Mum: Do you know the other people who are going?
Me: Some.
Mum: .... Is there going to be drinking?
Me: .... No? But there'll be more than enough sugar and caffeine to keep us going!

And there was :D

I also managed to score my very own poster from the raffle that happened at about midnight.

So, a great big thank you to our organiser of all things NaNo-y, @notalwaysthere, and all the new friends I made who motivated me and kept me writing madly this month. It's been fun.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

I just saw Hunger Games: Catching Fire last night. It was my favourite of all three books so, as you can imagine, I was incredibly excited to see it.

There we were, sitting there, eating popcorn and waiting for the movie to start when the most exciting thing happened.

"See the story in a way the movie doesn't show: From inside her head."

The movie ads before the movie proper were encouraging viewers to read the books after the movie..

Hot damn, I don't know who was in charge of that marketing campaign (I also don't know why this hasn't been implemented from the start of Harry Potter) but I want to see more of these guys' work!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Widening the Scope Pt. 1: The Strength in Our Characters.

"The problem with strong women is..."

There isn't one. Obviously.

And yet, isn't it strange that this keeps on being something that people ask? Why do people write such strong female characters. You don't hear a lot of people wandering around asking themselves why do people write strong men. Or just... strong "characters".

I can't even believe that it was seven years ago that Joss Whedon got up to accept an award from Equality Now (but YouTube assures me it is so) wherein he made one of his most famous, and one of my favourite, speeches on why he keeps on writing strong women characters.

(You have to skip to about 2 minutes in to get to Joss' appearance.)

It's still a subject that's raised today. From online polls on the "Best Strong Female Fantasy Novels" to writer's panels in the Melbourne Writer's Festival that analyse the same subject. It's pervasive. 

I was going to write up a blog post that listed my favourite books with strong women from the titles I have read this year, but I decided... no. Instead, I want to dedicate a quick post on the top bunch of novels I've read recently with strong characters of both genders.

Strength comes in a lot of different forms. Physical strength, of course, is often given over to men, but there are a couple of books I would like to point out where mental aptitude is shown to be as important. 

In these three novels, we see characters Harry Dresden, Atticus O'Sullivan and Emma Brannon tested with magical skills and mental fortitude that often taxes them. These are the heroes of fantasy novels, the good that fights against evil. 

But not all novels are fantasy. 

Both main characters in The Fault in Our Stars show remarkable strengths of characters against the hands that were dealt to them. Both dealing with cancer and also dealing with a loved one who has cancer, these characters are strong, often humorous and continually in search of their dreams. 

I read the conclusion to Cassandra Clare's Infernal Devices a couple of months ago and what struck me and stayed with me was the strength of integrity and love that the two main male characters of this series showed not only towards the female love interest, but to each other. A lot of the time, women in teen fiction get slammed for their doe eyed responses to the men in their lives, but what I think made the love triangle in these novels so compelling was the fact that Jem and Will loved each other. They had a pre-existing bond that they would not lightly place anyone else above, for all that they came to esteem and love Tessa highly. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

New Release - Rages & Bones, edited by Melissa Marr.

I have been watching the release of this anthology for what feels like Too Damn Long. I am very excited to say, two weeks ago, this book hit shelves.

Many people would have had advanced reader copies long before that.

But now it's free to the general public!!

Well... not free. I mean, you still have to pay for it...

And why wouldn't you, with the likes of Neil Gaiman, Melissa Marr, Holly Black and Kelley Armstrong filling the pages!

Excuse me while I run around in circles in excitement that this book has finally been released. :D:D

Rags & Bones: New Twists on Timeless TalesFor those people who may have been sleeping under a rock (or who are merely just not so excited about this bunch of authors as I seem to be), the novel drumming up this much excitement in me is Rags & Bones, a new anthology edited by Melissa Marr and Tim Pratt including a list of classic stories that have been revisioned and repackaged.

Let me pull out a line up for you:

Holly Black - Sheridan le Fanu wrote an early poem called Carmilla that is largely known for its lesbian vampire content. Oh, and it was originally written in the 19th century.

Neil Gaiman - After what Anne Rice did to the Sleeping Beauty fairytale in 1983-85, I can't wait to see what his magician of dark fantasy manages to put together.

Melissa Marr - I don't know much about Kate Chopin's The Awakening, which is what Melissa's own story in this anthology is based on, but I can't wait to find out!

Kelley Armstrong - W. W. Jacob's The Monkey's Paw sounds interesting.

Kami Garcia - I've read only a little from Kami before, but with the popularity that Once Upon a Time has shone on the character of Rumplestiltskin, I can't wait to see what this author has devised for us here.

Saladin Ahmed - This is an author I've heard absolutely nothing about before, but my love of Spenser's Faerie Queene won't allow me to let this revisioning go by unremarked.

There are 12 stories in the anthology in all. Well worth it for both favourite authors and for those you've never heard of before.If you're still unsure, io9 has published an excerpt from Tim Pratt's retelling of Henry James' The Jolly Corner:

The Cold Corner

by Tim Pratt
I left home five years ago, and haven’t been back since— so why do I still think of it as home at all?
After almost a week spent driving across the country on I‑40 East, I cut north on Highway 202, and within an hour reached the outskirts of my hometown, Cold Corners. The only corners are in the endless rectangular fields of soybeans and tobacco, and with triple-​digit heat and 90 percent humidity in summer, it’s hardly “cold,” so I don’t know where it got the name.  (read more)