Archive | February, 2015

Rejection Armor: Ready

16 Feb

At the end of January, a new writing friend read a piece of mine that has been sent out and rejected three times. She had some good feedback but overall she liked the piece. So I submitted it again. But this time, I’m taking a different approach. I submitted it nine times to magazines that accept simultaneous submissions. I used P&W’s Lit Mag database and found magazines that fit what I’m looking for: print copies, pays in contributor copies, accepts online submissions, and wants general fiction. I had to sort out those not in their submission period or those with a different focus from my piece, but I got through a good chunk and I’m happy with the ones I’ve chosen.

Surprisingly, I heard back from one the first week of February. I was surprised to have heard back so quickly but not surprised to hear another ‘no.’

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It’s probably bad that I’m not surprised by it, but I’m ready now. I know there’s a barrage of these on their way. My piece has a very strong voice and it’s not something that fits nicely into a lot of magazines. It’s a bit quirky, funny, and sad at the end. I haven’t found a lit mag asking for pieces like mine because it can be so many things. Maybe that’s a fault, but I think it makes for a good story. I’ve found magazines that are close, but none exactly like my piece. It’s been hard to place.

So my battle armor is ready. I’ve toughened up and targeted my attack. They’ll start coming back soon and in numbers higher than I’ve had before. But you know what? I’m not going to let them take me this year. I’m going to clean up some other pieces and submit them like crazy. Because there’s a magazine out there where I can find a fit. There’s an editor who will pick up my piece and think ‘This is great for our issue!’ Rejection is part of the process; no one is an over night success. And if they are, all other writers are allowed to hate them.

I print out each rejection letter. My husband says that by the time I’m famous, we’ll have enough to plaster the walls of the office. Then they’ll make me laugh, not cringe. As long as I think of that day, I can smile.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Friday Book Memes, 6-February-2015

13 Feb

Welcome to the ‘too much snow’ edition of Book Beginnings and The Friday 56 hosted by Rose City Reader and Freda on Freda’s Voice. Head on over there and check out the other participating blogs.

This week I’ll be featuring my new book club selection, Zeitoun by Dave Eggers. I only got it on Wednesday night and I’m really enjoying it so far. I’m a big Eggers fan.

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Book Beginnings is all about that very important opening sentence (or two) that us writers are always worrying about! Here’s the opening scene from Zeitoun:

On moonless nights the men and boys of Jableh, a dusty fishing town on the coast of Syria, would gather their lanterns and set out on their quiet boats.

I think it’s interesting Eggers chooses to open the book in Syria because besides this opening scene and one or two flashbacks, the book takes place in New Orleans. Perhaps I’ll figure it out as I go.

Friday 56

The way this meme works is pretty simple. If you want to join in, head over to Freda’s blog and add your link.

Rules:
*Grab a book, any book (I grab the one I’m currently reading)
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don’t spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.

I haven’t gotten to page 56 yet, so we’ll see what I learn from this quote.

Ten thousand cars, twenty thousand lights, she guessed, extending all the way to Baton Rouge.

Phew, didn’t learn anything new. This is a scene as Kathy, the main character’s wife, takes her family out of New Orleans as Hurricane Katrina approaches. I remember the images of this exodus and I think this sentence gives a great visual of what it would be like to be a part of that crowd.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Review: Doomsday Book by Connie Willis (4/5)

12 Feb

One of my coworkers recommended two books to me last year; Outlander by Diana Gabaldon and Doomsday Book by Connie Willis. I was hugely disappointed by Outlander so I was a bit nervous to pick up Willis’ book. But when something’s available in eBook, I don’t fight it. My library’s collection is limited. And I’m happy to say I was pleasantly surprised.

Cover image via Goodreads.com

Cover image via Goodreads.com

Doomsday Book by Connie Willis

Summary from Goodreads:

In the year 2054, students research the past by living in it. So when Kivrin Engle, a history student at Oxford, enters Brasenose College’s time machine for transport back to 1320s England, no one anticipates any problems.

But her two-week project takes a frightening turn. A mutant virus has been spreading through Oxford, and Kivrin arrives in the past delirious with fever. She is found and taken to a manor house, and when she recovers, she can no longer locate the time machine rendezvous point.

As Kivrin struggles to adjust to a past that’s not quite what she expected, a past where the Black Death is beginning to ravage a mystified, terrified population. With the only people who know where she’s gone seriously ill themselves, will Kivrin ever find her way back to the future? Or has she become a permanent exile in a deadly time?

I’m not normally one for time travel, but I loved the academic approach this book took to the process. It was research! That’s so cool. I also loved the parallel story lines between Kivrin and Mr. Dunworthy and how they discovered the sources of the problems they were living through. The side characters were great, too, especially Agnes, Collin, and Badri. For someone who’s skeptical when it comes to science fiction, this was a great way to get me interested in the subject. I love history and exploring the Middle Ages with Kivrin was wonderful. I looked up the second book in the series and it seems to have a very different focus so I’m not sure I’ll continue with the series, but I’m really glad I read this.

I thought the way the 2054 town reacted to a quarantine was highly accurate. There are those who are scared, who think it’s a joke, who will go with religious implication, and who are more worried about lavatory paper than anything else. Willis had a great collection of characters in both settings who showed a depth to the time periods. It was very well done.

Collin was my favorite. I adored his determination to help through the quarantine and his resilience toward the end. It was good to have a young character in the modern century to compare with the girls in the Middle Ages and I think Collin was a great choice. I liked how it first appeared like he was indifferent about the situation and didn’t really care about his aunt or mother and how they treated him but as Dunworthy got to know him, he was able to read the boy’s emotions. I think Collin will grow up to be a great historian.

He’s an odd person to relate to, but I think I would have reacted much like Mr. Finch in the situation. He was very logical in how he approached the problem of how to feed, house, and care for everyone. He didn’t say ‘no’ to helping people, just to giving them lavatory paper and feeding them vegetables. When I’m faced with a problem, I’ll take stock of the supplies and then see how I should proceed. I like to think he was a useful character.

I loved the process of discovering the source of the modern illness. It was a sort of mystery that I thought unraveled at a great pace. I liked that it kept the modern story line moving while the Middle Ages one was a bit slow and then the two switched places. Willis did a great job crafting this.

"ConnieWillisCW98 wb". Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

“ConnieWillisCW98 wb”. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

There’s not a part of the novel that sticks out to me as slow or uninteresting. There are not many books I can say this about and it’s a huge tribute to Willis’ pacing.

The book explored all the different ways humans deal with crisis. Mary used science and Mrs. Gaddson used God. We can also look at Lady Imeyne and Father Roche who both turned to God but in very different ways to deal with the crisis. Collin wanted to help in any way possible and Mr. Dunworthy was focused on helping one person beyond his reach. I don’t think I’m particularly good at dealing with a sudden and huge crisis like the characters in this book faced and it was really interesting to me to see how it was dealt with in the book.

Writer’s Takeaway: Pacing, pacing, pacing! What a great example of how plots and subplots can slow if only the other plots are racing ahead. It keeps the book moving in one way or another. I want to make sure my book is keeping such great pacing and I have a wonderful example in Willis’ book.

Great book and wonderful writing though not in a genre that’s right for me. Four out of Five stars.

This book fulfills the Pre 1500 time period in my When Are You Reading? Challenge.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
The Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis | the Little Red Reviewer
Doomsday Book by Connie Willis | For winter nights
The Doomsday Book, Connie Willis | Pretty Terrible
Review: Doomsday Book by Connie Willis | Alex in Leeds

WWW Wednesday, 11-February-2015

11 Feb

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading, and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading:  No movement on The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway. It’s hard being so close to the end but not moving forward. I hope I can keep pushing this one soon.
One of my resolutions this year was to read a book in Spanish and I’ve picked La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I was able to get through a bit this week, but nothing to be proud of. This one will be here for a while.
I started a new audiobook that I’m really enjoying, Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. I read another of Rowell’s books at the end of last year and really enjoyed it. She has such a natural flow with characters and this is no exception. I’m really liking it.
I got a new eBook, Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. This one is slow so far and that’s how I usually am with eBooks so no surprise. I saw that this was made into a Nick Cage movie recently so I’ll have to compare the two once I finish it.

Recently finished: The snowfall of finished books continues! I finished the audiobook of The Diviners by Libba Bray last Wednesday. I almost changed my post but decided to keep it for this week. Woo hoo!
Thursday night I finished The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera for Read Along #3. My post will probably go up next week to finish off the discussion. I’ll be starting up another Read Along soon so stay tuned for that! I’d love to have you all join in.
I finished Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat early this week. It was a lot faster of a read than I thought it would be and I enjoyed it a lot.

One review finished this week as well. You can read my review of California by Eden Lepucki but I’ll warn you, I wasn’t a fan.

Reading Next:  I’ll be going to my book club tonight and our next book is Zeitoun by Dave Eggers. I’ve read two Eggers books before and really enjoyed them so I’m excited to start this one tonight!

Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Spread the word, WWW Wednesday is back!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Writing Prompts: Character Development

10 Feb

It’s been a while since I’ve been to my prompt group. It was good to see everyone again and good to do some writing. I thought I’d share my prompts here for you to try for yourselves and give you a short look at what I wrote. The first two are a warm-up and the second two focused on developing a character through another character’s eyes. Happy writing!

The Prompts:
1. A soft ran (3 minutes)
2. A welcome interruption (4 minutes)
3. Two people meeting again for the first time after a long separation (7 minutes)
4. A person alone for the first time in ages (7 minutes)

My Answers

Prompt 1
The pitter patter of water on glass is almost deafening. There’s no such thing as a soft rain when the entire wall and ceiling above your bed is glass. I stare up into the grey sky, unfocusing in all ways a human can unfocus. This was romantic once when we’d lie here together, staring into the clouds and talking about little nothings. Keeping warm from the snowy ceiling above us in the winter. Letting the sun wake us up on lazy Saturday mornings.

Once before I’d liked the sound of rain on the glass. It was a reminder that I was dry but only because of a thin sheet of glass. A thin sheet that can shatter in a second. In a second called life when the car crashes into your leg but not before crushing through bone and tissue and life to your right.

The rain makes my leg ache as I swing it over the side of the bed and remember that it’s one rainstorm at a time; one day at a time; one breath at a time.

Prompt 2
Data entry could not be more mindless, tedious, boring, and awful. And I’m looking at a stack of it. The 100 most recent customer service surveys filled out by angry customers in the hope of winning at $50 gift card (side note, you’ll never win) and filled out in a hurry against the wall by the door with a pen running out of ink. Please withhold your jealousy. I’ve gone and gotten my morning coffee. I’ve done the recommended ergonomic stretches. I’ve even tried striking up a conversation with Tim, the quiet engineer that sits next to me, but there’s nothing else to do; it’s got to be done.

I pick up the first sheet and glance at the purple pen writing and frantic scribbles that are in the corner, willing the life of the pen to go on. I’m waiting for the universe to interrupt, waiting for something to distract me for another five minutes, but nothing does. I finally open up the tracking document and begin to enter data.

But suddently… yeah, there’s nothing. Back to purple pen misery.

Prompt 3
“Hey cousin!” Mary is waving from the driver’s window of her silver SUV. I’m staring blankly at this woman who I used to know so well and having trouble reconciling her with the grungy older cousin I knew in my youth. I walk over to the car slowly but she makes no move to get out.

“Grace will start wailing if I get out of the car. Hop in! We’re on our way to grab lunch.”

I walk to the driver’s side and hop in. My duffel bag is a little too big to fit on the floor so I hug my knees to my chest. I thought the smell of bus would permeate off of me like an old woman’s perfume but the even stronger scent of diapers and spilled milk masks me.

Mary reaches over the center console and wraps her arms around me as well as she can’t with a seat belt on. “I’m so glad you came to visit. I promise this will be a great little vacation for you. It will be so great to catch up. Gosh, I haven’t seen you since you were in middle school! And now you’re half-way through high school, this is crazy.” Mary gives my shoulder a squeeze and puts the SUV into drive.

I’m about to smile and admit to myself that this really could be fun. I’m optimistically thinking that two weeks with my cousin and her family in Georgia is the break I need to give myself space from my mother and her most recent obsessions (yoga and natural hair treatments) and see what’s been going on with the rest of the family. I’m about to be happy.

There’s a whining behind me and I turn around to see the source of the diapers and spoiled milk. Grace is 18 months old and huge. You’d think she’s three if she didn’t have a baby face and she takes up more of her booster seat than any child should. I smile and reach a hand back to greet her.

“Hi, Grace. I guess I’m your cousin once removed.” I’m thinking that somehow in her 18 months she learned how to shake hands or at least will reach out and touch mine. Instead, her face screws up in a mix of confusion and horror. She opens her mouth and instead of cute little toddler words, a white film comes out. Not a lot, but enough to get on my hand. Grace immediately starts bawling.

Mary turns around and sees my hand, held in the abyss, unable to do anything about it. “Oh gosh, I’m so sorry about that! She does that a lot. I’m sure there are some napkins somewhere around here.” She starts fumbling in the console but comes up with only an old magazine on parenting. “Here, this might help.”

I’m helpless, holding a parenting magazine and baby barf and aware I’m about to get a rude lesson in babysitting and about now I think I’d rather treat my roots with almond oil and wood shavings while doing a down dog pose.

Prompt 4
She closed the door behind her and the giggles, the friends, the late night crying over some social event, the make-up and the frat boys all went with her and for the first time in four weeks, I have the room to myself. Now, two weeks might not seem long to you but to someone who grew up in a quiet house with conservative parents and no pets, four weeks with a newly liberated newly Greek roommate was a long, long time. So long that it forces you to remember what quiet sounds like. The library, unfortunately, has been closed due to water damage and a spider infestation. The quietest place I can find is a coffee shop but it’s a twenty-minute walk and there’s been a deluge of rain the past week.

But this weekend is the pledge retreat in Ohio. Which means Kristen is gone for over 48 hours. All of her friends are going so they won’t be barging in here dying to tell her something and all of the boys know it’s pledge retreat weekend so they won’t knock at three am to see if she’s ‘still up.’

I’m so overwhelmed with possibilities that I’m not sure where to start. I’ll vacuum on Sunday and this will be my first opportunity to remove my things from Kristen’s desk (still not sure how she got my ruler and 3-hole punch). But these things only take me a few minutes. I have 47 hours and 50 minutes left to go.

I can take a nap. But I’m not tired; I really want to turn on some music and for once, I get to pick the music. None of that top 40 stuff that Kristen’s friend Mary insists on; I’m able to put on some nice mellow soft rock. It’s nice to have some noise around. I pull up my Facebook page, trolling for something to distract me.

Hi.

It’s my lab partner, Kaitlyn. We’ve become decently good friends over the past month. As good of friends as you can become in 30 days.

Hi

Is your roommate gone?

Yes! Finally.

Awesome. What are you doing to celebrate this weekend?

I’m not sure.

Want to watch a movie?

Sure

I’ve got Catching Fire. I can be there in 10 minutes.

Make it 15.

Cool, see ya.

 

It was nice while it lasted, but silence could only be sustained for so long.

 

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Review: California by Edan Lepucki (1/5)

9 Feb

Knowing my audience for this blog, I’m guessing a lot of you saw the Ford Audiobook Club grow on Goodreads late in 2014. At first, I was skeptical of the true ‘free-ness’ of the books. But I looked into it a bit more and decided to give it a go. When my credit card information was not requested, I was thrilled and happily downloaded the book for that month, California. I like having an audiobook on my phone to listen to while I cook or do house chores. I didn’t intend to get through it quickly. That became rough when this book dragged… and dragged… and didn’t go anywhere… So yeah, this will not be a positive review. Be warned.

Cover image via Goodreads.com

Cover image via Goodreads.com

California by Edan Lepucki

Summary from Goodreads:

The world Cal and Frida have always known is gone, and they’ve left the crumbling city of Los Angeles far behind them. They now live in a shack in the wilderness, working side-by-side to make their days tolerable despite the isolation and hardships they face. Consumed by fear of the future and mourning for a past they can’t reclaim, they seek comfort and solace in one other. But the tentative existence they’ve built for themselves is thrown into doubt when Frida finds out she’s pregnant.

Terrified of the unknown but unsure of their ability to raise a child alone, Cal and Frida set out for the nearest settlement, a guarded and paranoid community with dark secrets. These people can offer them security, but Cal and Frida soon realize this community poses its own dangers. In this unfamiliar world, where everything and everyone can be perceived as a threat, the couple must quickly decide whom to trust.

I liked the concept. So many dystopian novels published recently are aimed at the YA audience and Lepucki was trying to make it a bit more grown up. Cal and Frida have ‘adult’ problems. This is a great start. But I felt it fell apart in this book. The exposition was almost half of the book. Frida’s thoughts about the world ‘before’ and the deterioration of society took up way too much time and there was too much focus on Micah. (The rest of this paragraph contains spoilers. Proceed at your own risk.) I thought it made it way too obvious that Micah would come to play a role in the rest of the book so I wasn’t at all surprised when he showed up at the Land. Once we reached that point in the book, I thought something was going to happen; that the plot would accelerate. But no. It was slow and plodding again. I needed more action. I thought the end was disappointing as well. There wasn’t even a bomb to end the book with, it was just acceptance of a better life because there was no other choice. How is that an ending? Anyway, I guess you can see that I wasn’t a fan of this book.

I thought the secrets Cal and Frida kept from each other were very realistic. There are a lot of things I don’t tell my husband not because I want to hide them, but because he has his own worries and I don’t think they’re important. I felt that this came up a lot between the couple once they were on the Land. I liked their determination to protect themselves and thought it was believable that they seemed always on edge, never quite trusting. It was good that they didn’t trust the people at the Land because every five pages there was a new secret. I would have been angry if they did.

Sailor was my favorite character. He was so good-hearted and was being whisked along in a world where he didn’t understand what was going on a lot of the time. It was believable to me that he thought everything was for the best and going well while being kept in the dark about the true goals of the people around him. He reminded me of Luna Lovegood in Harry Potter; always blissful.

Frida’s desire to be accepted is a universal human need. I think we’re always hiding something about ourselves when we meet people and try to get them to like us before they find out about the thing we’re hiding. Then we hope they’ll still like and accept us when they find out about it. There’s a girl in my church group who had a child when she was 17. She didn’t tell us initially and we accepted her because of who she is. Now that we know, it doesn’t change how we feel about her because she’s not labeled as ‘the teen pregnancy’ in our heads; she is her own person. I don’t think there’s anything unusual in Frida’s situation but the stakes were a little higher.

I didn’t really have a favorite part of the book and that’s why I struggled with it so much. Everything seemed anticlimactic and slow. There were a lot of points where I thought it was going to start getting good and then would fall flat so Nothing really ‘favorite,’ just ‘better.’

The back story at the beginning was painful for me. I swear we heard the same parts of a story more than once without Frida finishing her thoughts. If this wasn’t such a mindless endeavor book for me, I might have given up on it.

Edan Lepucki Image via the author's website

Edan Lepucki
Image via the author’s website

The audiobook narration was a big part of why I disliked the book. My copy was from Audible and narrated by Emma Galvin. I’ve never heard her narrate anything before and I know this is harsh, but I might avoid things she narrates in the future. She was very monotone and her voice sounded whiny. She didn’t use inflections or voices for the different characters so during conversations it was hard to tell who was talking. My husband commented on how grating her voice was and then it was all I could think about. It sad that this was such an influence on my enjoyment of the book, but that goes to show how important a narrator is.

This is dark, but one of the biggest themes I got from this book is that sometimes love is a stronger bond than blood. (Again, spoilers the rest of this paragraph). Cal was always there for Frida and always had her best interests in mind while Micah didn’t. He was out for himself and you couldn’t trust him. He didn’t tell Frida a lot and many times deceived Cal for his own purposes. They never really knew him, but knew a lot of things about him, many of which were disturbing.

We’re stuck with our family but we can pick someone to love who might care for us more. You see this is adoptive families and close communities often so it’s not unusual to see unrelated ‘families.’ It’s just sad how Frida’s came about.

Writer’s Takeaway: When you hear the advice about back story, it’s always the same. “Don’t info dump!” “If you have an info dump, cut it and put it in Chapter 4.” “Start with action.” Did anyone tell Lepucki this? I see the merit in this advice very clearly after reading this book. I needed some action. This is a low-action book, which is fine, but the first bit of action can’t come half-way through the book. The pacing was way off and I think the book could have been improved with some crossing-out and re-ordering.

Really failed to excite me. One out of Five stars.

This book fulfills ‘The Future’ in my When Are You Reading? Challenge.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
Reading: “California” by Edan Lepucki | herewearegoing
Book Review: California by Edan Lepucki | Leeswammes’ Blog
Book Review: CALIFORNIA by Edan Lepucki | Adam Morgan
California by Edan Lepucki | Booking Rehab

Friday 56, 6-February-2015

6 Feb

Welcome to the ‘too much snow’ edition of The Friday 56 hosted by Freda on Freda’s Voice. Head on over there and check out the other participating blogs.

Friday 56

The way this meme works is pretty simple. If you want to join in, head over to Freda’s blog and add your link.

Rules:
*Grab a book, any book (I grab the one I’m currently reading)
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don’t spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.

I haven’t cracked a new physical book this week and I’m so early in my eBook that I don’t want to look at 56% and have anything ruined, so I grabbed a book off my shelf. This week it’s Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier. If you haven’t read this one, I recommend it, especially if you like historical fiction. Here’s page 56:

Catharina had little will to climb the stairs these days, but I wondered what Maria Thins, or Cornelia, or anyone would think if they saw us.

This is a great quote and comes during a turning point between Griet (the narrator) and her employer. There was always the undertone of a sexual relationship between the two but I think this quote shows that it’s all based in how Griet is afraid people will perceive them, not how they actually behave. Or maybe I’m not remembering right. Anyone who can correct me?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Read Along 3: The Unbearable Lightness of Being Parts 3 & 4

5 Feb

Read Along 3The second part of the Read-Along is now complete; we’re half-way there. I’m promising a new set-up for Read Along #4 so get ready for it. The anticipation is killing you, isn’t it? I know it is.

Questions from Nicole: The author tells the story of Sabina and Franz. While telling their story, he offers us “a short dictionary of misunderstood words.” He then breaks down these words as a means of how they tell the story. Do you think this lends a new speculative point to the story, where we are now questioning true meanings or is this style choice well used in the middle of the novel?

I don’t find myself questioning the meaning of things, but how I perceive things in my life. For example, Chapter 5 of Part 3 ends with the definition of a cemetery for the two characters. Franz sees them as a blight filled with stones and bones whereas Sabina them as a beautiful celebration of those we have lost. I’m sure there are things in my life that I perceive differently from those around me. For example, I think turtles are really cute and I don’t find many people who share my opinion. Maybe they’d find them majestic, but not cute. I had a friend once who was afraid of yarn because of an experience in his childhood so it reminds him of strangulation. It reminds me of knitting. We all see things differently because of how we’ve experienced them before.

Though abrupt, I like this style change here in the book. Sabina is a very complex character and I this style helps define what’s so different about her. I found myself with viewing things the same way Franz did and it helped me understand how different Sabina is from myself.

Also from Nicole: I gained the conclusion that Tereza was unfaithful. Which brought me full circle to earlier in the novel when Tomas had multiple partners and Tereza found it unsettling that he was able to have so many lovers and remain with her. Comparing the new Tereza to the past Tereza, how similar and different are they? Do you still think Tereza feels the same way as she did in the beginning? What changed and why?

 

I like how you started this question. Tereza had an affair with the engineer and is unfaithful whereas Tomas has been intimate with many woman yet we can consider him faithful to Tereza. What’s the difference? I would say it’s intent. Tereza seemed out to hurt Tomas whereas his infidelity was never out of anger or meant to hurt Tereza (even though it did). It’s also in how the person perceives his or her own actions. Tomas never considered himself unfaithful through his acts and Tereza does. A bit off topic, but a great point to make.

I don’t think Tereza has changed much now that they’re back in Prague. I think leaving him helped her become stronger, but I think she still holds the same ideals and desires that she did before. She still sees infidelity as wrong even though she has participated in it. She still does not understand Tomas’s need to be with other women. She’s trying to find a lightness of being but finds it unbearable.

And finally, here’s the musing topic Nicole wrote: These two sections look a lot at how symbols and words are viewed differently and construed differently. What are some things that are symbols or misunderstood words in your life? How have these things shaped your life?

It’s hard to think of one single thing that’s defined my life, but this comes up often in my relationship with my husband. He’ll say one thing and I’ll understand it differently than he meant it. If he says, “I’m hungry,” I might understand that as, “Go make dinner,” but he might mean it as, “Are you okay with me having a snack before dinner?” or “I’m going to make food for us.”

If I had to pick one thing, I would say gift giving. I’m not a big gift person. I see gifts as obligations more often than presents. My family has always been this way; we give gifts for birthdays, Christmas, and other holidays when it’s expected, but never spontaneously. When I started dating my husband, I realize that this isn’t the norm everywhere. His mother would give me things randomly if they made her think of me. His sister was the same way. I didn’t know how to react. Did I give them something back? Which times did I need to write a thank you note? Did this mean I wasn’t getting anything for my birthday? Why did I get a gift card to Target for Halloween? This wasn’t on my Christmas list; why did you spend money on something you don’t know I’ll like? etc.
It’s taken time, but I’ve gotten used to this now and I don’t see it as a diabolical plot to get me to spend all my disposable income on knickknacks for my brother-in-law. It’s his family’s way of saying, “I’m thinking about you” or sharing in their own good fortune. I’m not claiming that I do it back, but I’m getting there. Maybe someday I could pick something up on a whim, but it will never come naturally.

If you’re interested in joining us in the read-along, it’s never too late! Send me an email and let me know. We’d love to have you.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 4-February-2015

4 Feb

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading, and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading:  My husband and I got through a bit of The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway and we have two disks left. Yes, that’s still a lot. Stay tuned.
Audio for The Diviners by Libba Bray is almost over! This book has really wowed me, especially because I’m not normally into paranormal stories. But wow.
One of my resolutions this year was to read a book in Spanish and I’ve picked La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. No progress this week, sadly. Stay tuned.
Read-Along 3 has begun! The book is The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera and I’m in the middle of Part 5 (out of 6). I hope to finish this in the next week or so.
My book club book of the moment is Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat. It’s a really moving (sad) story but I’m loving it so far. It’s a fast read so it might be off this list soon.

Recently finished: Finally! Two books finished this past week. I knew it would catch up with me sooner or later. I finished California by Eden Lepucki last Friday in my determination to finish at least one book in January. I’ll be reviewing it soon but be warned, I was not a fan.
And after months and months I finished The Domesday Book by Connie Willis. This one was a winner for me. I’ll also be reviewing soon.

Reading Next:  I’ve picked my next eBook, which will be Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. A friend told me a while back that this was the only series he remembered reading while in school so I added it to the growing list. We’ll see how it goes.

Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Spread the word, WWW Wednesday is back!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Challenge Update, January 2015

3 Feb

I can’t believe that January is already over! It’s been a rush and I’m embarrassed at how few books I’ve read. I keep thinking that at least I’m in the middle of a lot, but that doesn’t really count when you’re doing a reading challenge, does it? You can look at my progress at any time on my challenge page.

Books finished in January:

California by Edan Lepucki (1/5)

Yep. That’s it.

When Are You Reading? Challenge

1/13
This is my challenge to read a book from 13 different time periods. You can read about it here. My timeline will track all of my books and show which time period they fall in. So far it’s a bit sparse, but it will start to fill in nicely as the year gods. If you want to join in, leave me a message and let me know! This is a great challenge for any historical fiction lover.

Goodreads Challenge

1/50

Yeah, a bit slow to start on this one. Goodreads is gently reminding me that I’m 3 books behind schedule. Thanks for that, Goodreads. I’ll hopefully be making steady progress on this in February.

How are your challenges going? I pray you’re farther along than I am! It’s going to be a bit of an uphill battle for now but I’m confident that I can catch up.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!