Archive for August, 2007

Chapter 34: Do you Hear?

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

After the drama of the tundra, David and crew find themselves in relative safety. Calemadestes’ horn gets another try, and they set off to retrieve his memories.
Last weekend Josh and I took part in Doughnuts and Art 2, and I’ve posted the art I showed there below:

I’m afraid I really can’t offer much explanation on these. I think the sheriff is a little weak, but Josh liked him a lot, so I kept him. The ladies were very fun, and I think I might do some pin-up style illustrations in the same round and simplified style.

I will say these made me wonder about doing some “western” style fantasy… I’ve never considered it before, but I’m sure the genre exists somewhere. I’ll have to see what’s out there.

Chapter 33: Break Free

Friday, August 24th, 2007

The Child loses his will with the appearance of Susan and the Matecai… and everything descends into chaos. Wonderful, dangerous chaos, especially if you’re the Child.

Podcamp Pittsburgh 2 was this weekend, and I hope I saw you there. We had an even bigger turnout this year than last (or at the halfway mark “Bootcamp” that was hosted at April. Everyone has had a positive reviews about the unConference, and our attendees were a wide range of age and expertise — I find getting positive feelings about an event from such a various demographic impressive. If you weren’t there, please visit their site for more information about the sessions covered (I think presenters are still posting their outlines), and for crying out loud: register for Podcamp 3, tentatively schedule for sometime in Sept ‘08.

This weekend’s Podcamp also saw the creation of the word “bacn”, which is loosely defined as “email you want, just not right now”. Basically, it’s all those notifications you get from myspace/twitter/Borders/etc that you did technically ask for, but don’t really need to attend to immediately. But it’s not spam, which is never wanted or voluntarily asked for.

The funny thing about “bacn” is how quickly it swept across the web, and how immediate the response — whether love or hate — to the spanking new web word. The boys set up a site to help define it, but it’s a topic of discussion all over. Let’s talk about it: lots and lots and lots of other places have.
I’m also participating in this weekend’s Doughnuts and Art2. There’s three bands playing that I’ve heard a lot of good things about, and there will of course be doughnuts and coffee. It’s also BYOB if you’re inclined (and of the appropriate age). Maybe I’ll see you there!

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Thursday, August 16th, 2007

Let me start by saying that there will be no spoilers in this post. I won’t go into any detail of the plot, since I know it was important to me to go into the final book completely blind. I wouldn’t want to be responsible for spoiling that experience for anyone else; instead, I will simply blather vaguely about it’s excellent structure points, how reading the series has affected me, and the general, over-all awe in which I regard the fantastic Ms. Rowling.

The series is complete. Some of my suspicions were confirmed and there were some surprises.

As I hoped, there will be no surprise 8th book. I find this finality comforting. In fact, I stopped reading Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series a few years ago for the specific reason that I am afraid that the author will die before wrapping up the massive series. And if I’m going to be that mentally and emotionally involved in a tale — as I have been with HP — I need closure.

I feel an overwhelming satisfaction, but also a distinct sense of sadness that has nothing to do with the plot. It’s over. I’m going to miss the adventures, characters, and fantastic settings — but the ending was, if I were British, spot on: exciting, intelligent, emotional, magical and right. I really feel there was no other way it could have ended.

And, to interject a little author worship, that’s the most extraordinary thing to me: there is no other way it could have ended. Why? Because Rowling laid the ground work for the final 150 pages six books ago, and built on that foundation impeccably through the thousands of pages in between.

And here’s another thing I found incredible: the fantasy world she built. Yes, there is a fantastic sense of imagination going on there — with the magic, muggles, spells — but she built solid and unbreakable rules that she did not once break for the sake of the plot. In a world that intricate and vivid, I would find it hard to keep all the rules straight, first of all, and even harder not to allow them to shape the ending into something either too easy or too unbelievable.

The point is that I’m pretty much in total admiration of Rowling and her amazing brain. I’m such a little fangirl.

I’m infinitely inspired by her. The fact that she didn’t really begin writing until later in life (not very late, granted, but out of her 20s), and that she created such an incredibly involved world for this wonderful, original story to take place in… that she handled her characters in such amazing ways — there were so many of them, and they never broke from their normal personalities… that her plot wrapped in the most logical, perfect way that it did… that her writing was so vivid and descriptive, without being overly so… and a dozen other things my feeble writing could never capture adequately. It makes me want to better what I do, to push it farther than I ever have before; to make my writing more than it ever has been.

I can’t compete. Even in the midst of my best, most confident self-pep talk, I can’t ever pretend to be half the story-teller she is. And that leaves me feeling discouraged and very inadequate.

Also, I won’t be reading anything else for a while. That was my plan anyway, since I begin on my next novel in Sept, but I have no desire to read anything else. I think I need time to mourn the end, and my brain refuses to accept that anything I might read would live up to the HP series. And, as an aspiring fantasy writer, I wonder how many other people out there will be feeling the same thing. I think HP revealed the fantasy genre to a whole demographic of people that wouldn’t have otherwise experienced it; does that mean they will return to other genres when nothing else lives up quite the way HP did? Not that there isn’t quality fantasy out there (I’m wishing to shortly be among those in the pool, after all), but there will never be anything like Harry Potter again.

But there’s beauty in that, too, and I for one feel blessed to have been a part of it all: waiting for the next book to come out (what’s the title? what’s the cover? what happened to so-and-so?); discussing theories with other readers; watching my husband — a savage reader of computer/coding manuals — become immersed and excited by the book and movies; dressing up as Hermione for Halloween. Of all the things that go into having kids, I can’t wait until I can read them this series as bed time stories, as my parents did for my brother. It’s been a great ride, and although I am genuinely sad it’s over, it’s been a pleasure to have been a participant.

And thus, I’ve completely exhausted my vocabulary for synonyms of “good”.

All was well.

Chapter 32: Dark Reflections

Sunday, August 12th, 2007

David and the Child finally uncover each other’s identities, while Susan finds two legs to stand on. And we face losses.

I don’t like stories where no one dies. One of my favorite television shows is 24, because no one is safe. We like to think Jack Bauer is safe because he’s the main character… but we’re never sure. And those secondary characters you begin to care about? Careful, because everyone is expendable.

Ironically, I tend to care greatly for lots of characters — secondary, tertiary, that extra in the grocery store or random dog-walker in the park, all of them. And I love all my characters like little children, so knocking any of them off is really hard. If you’re spinning a tale of possible world doom, however… I for one can’t take the story seriously without any real danger. That means putting your characters through some stuff. And that means they won’t always come out the other side of adversity unscathed — or at all.

In that same vein, I’ve finished editing David for the bazillionth time; and now, as a reward: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I really respected JK Rowling’s decisions concerning expendability in books 5 and 6; and although I am terrified of who will die in the final book of the series, it will be worth it. Big risks can mean big dividends. I have high expectations.

Chapter 31: The Puppet Show

Wednesday, August 8th, 2007

The Child offers David an education, while Charlie and Susan fend off a pesky Raker.

Once upon a time in the land of December 2006, Rachel sat down and made 30 chapter icons for her website. She could have made all 52, but thought 30 would do at the time… probably because she had some sort of fun holiday thing to do instead. Well, 30 put us at about…. oh, last week: which is the why the chapter update was late this week. It was a very complicated rigamarole, but it was also a good lesson on why you should could keep all your project files on a single computer; I jumped from Mac to PC, and in between 2 different generations of Photoshop and Illustrator which, needless to say, slowed the process down quite a bit. Excuses, excuses, blah-blah, woof-woof.

Interestingly (or at least I think so), this is the chapter I was was editing just yesterday in my great tSoD August Overhaul. And, in a genuinely interesting fashion, you can imagine those snowmen as the deranged mutant killer monster snow goons that Calvin likes to build. They actually looked differently in my head when I was writing it, but have since morphed in my mind’s eye to Bill Waterson’s works of wonderfully demented snow people. If you haven’t read any of C&H go and do so now. It is my favorite comic strip ever.

Chapter 30: Betrayal

Tuesday, August 7th, 2007

David and the Child continue to trade words. The Child discovers that David hides his identity, and that irritates him. I like his little tantrums, he’s such a whiner.

Usually I check each chapter as it comes up, but it seems I missed this one. I guess readers got an advance viewing of the first page of chapter 30 (because it’s totally missing from this week’s PDF). Ideally, one would read this scene as a nice chunk; in this form it is certainly a little drawn out. I know, because I’ve been writing “David and the Child trade words” or “David and the Child prepare for conflict” as the teasers/summaries for over a month. Some things will be revealed soon, I promise. Important things, meaningful things.

Although apparently this is not a case of sooner rather than later — I have been unable to post the next chapter this week, and here it is already Tuesday evening. There are plenty of excuses, and I will offer sufficient groveling tomorrow, I promise.

In the meantime, go here. I’ll be participating in Doughnuts and Art 2.0 again, so be sure to stop by and view some great art. I’ve got great plans for my pieces, great plans.

Also, in the super busy month of August: Podcamp Pittsburgh 2! If you’re at all interested in new media, come out and play. Josh and I will only be there until 3 on Saturday (alas), but it’s going to be awesome anyway.