Book Corner: The Trials of Lance Eliot (+1)

Book Corner

Finished Reading: The Trials of Lance Eliot
by Adam Stück (under the pen name of M.L. Brown)

Did Not Finish: Wonderblood by Julia Whicker

Trials of LE

I am not going to give much of a review of this book, because the author has stated that he plans to rewrite it, whether he eventually publishes that new version or not (he stated this over 4 years ago, so who knows what progress he may or may not have made on it by now).

I knew about this book because the author is my sister’s brother-in-law. I followed his blog for part of the time it existed, from 2011 through 2016. The book was published in 2012. It is a fantasy tale of a college student who is accidentally summoned to another world in the hopes that he can help those who summoned him stave off war (they were attempting to summon Lancelot and got Lance Eliot). This regular, flawed man goes through a lot of hardship in his journey to return home, and that’s only 1/3 of his story. (The rest of the trilogy wasn’t written at the time that the author decided to re-write the first book.)

After finishing the book, I searched Adam’s blog for posts related to the book and found out that pretty much all of the downsides I saw in the book he had already identified and planned to change in his re-write (as well as other changes that he has planned). It is mostly for this reason that I do not intend to list any of these things, and instead will just link to his own post on the matter (MAJOR SPOILER ALERT). (I actually read this post when he first wrote it and made some comments, even though I hadn’t read the book at the time. I didn’t recall this at all until I saw my comment there today.)

Though the author intends to rewrite the book, you still may find the first version of interest, especially if you enjoy J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Dante’s Inferno, or mythology. (Don’t read the post about what he intends to change before reading it though. There are spoilers!)

Find out more about The Trials of Lance Eliot

Wonderblood

I read 1 chapter of Wonderblood and had to put it down. In my defense, it was quite a long chapter, so I gave it a decent chance. But in the end, it proved to be too dark, gritty, and disturbing for my taste. I’m sure that’s understandable for a post-apocalyptic, dystopian setting, but I couldn’t handle it. My main issues were the over-abundance of decapitated heads, excessive blood-shedding (“Wonderblood” refers to a belief that the world will be saved when the earth has been given enough human blood) and pedophilia/incest, and this was just in the 1st chapter.  I skimmed ahead to get an idea of whether or not all of this calmed down, and it may have to a degree, but what I saw when skimming didn’t interest me.

Find out more about Wonderblood

Up nextThe Curious Conspiracy on Gamma Ceti by Nemo West

If you’ve read either of these books, or read either in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!

A Monday Moment: (K)night

Monday Moment

It was about eight o’clock when I stumbled into the coffee shop on my way home. I wanted a drink and about a half an hour to work with fewer distractions than I knew I’d find at home. Sitting down with my drink, I walked by a booth with four people, all of whom were wearing costumes, some more extravagant than others. The one that stood out most was Batman. The guy had really gone all out.

Somewhere in the back of my mind, I recalled that the newest Batman movie was opening the next day. They were most likely dressed for a midnight showing. I’ve never understood people like that—did they really get more enjoyment out of the movie by wearing ridiculous outfits? And why would they stop in here first? Did they have no shame?

Though I would never do what they were doing, it didn’t stop me from sitting near them for the possible chance to observe them. They weren’t making it very hard to eavesdrop. “Batman” was forcing out a gravelly voice that had the others in uproarious laughter.

It wasn’t long before I grew bored of listening to their prattle and turned my attention back to my own work. I was almost done with my coffee when a man walked up to the counter. I wasn’t paying enough attention to give you a play-by-play of what happened, but it quickly became evident that he was there to rob the place. He waved a gun in the cashier’s face while the man opened the register.

Then the gunman glanced over his shoulder in my direction and nearly started laughing. He’d noticed Batman, and, worse yet, Batman looked to be getting up to confront him.

You fool! I thought. Wearing the costume does not make you a superhero! It’s not like your chest plate is bullet-proof!

As soon as the gunman turned his weapon on the Dark Knight, he sat back down. Apparently it had been enough to make the thief nervous though, as he motioned for Batman to exit the booth. As the man complied, the gunman caught sight of perhaps the reason for Batman’s courage—a gun of his own attached to his suit. The gunman relieved the hero of his weapon and insisted he sit on the floor on the other side of the room.

For good measure, he decided to send the other three over-dressed companions with him. As he turned to watch Batman go, the last one out of the booth—a woman in a green costume of some sort—grabbed him around the waist and slammed him to the ground while at the same time knocking the gun out of his hand. In the next instant, she pulled a gun of her own and held it on the man.

She produced a badge, which she held up for the rest of us to see. Batman came jogging over, holding up an identical badge. In the ensuing business of an arrest made and witness statements gathered, I realized that all four of the costumed patrons were cops. The man had really picked the wrong time and place for his petty heist.

I still wonder if they made it to their movie.


Prompt used: The night won’t save anyone.

Weekly Writing Update: August pt. 1

*See announcement about blog title at bottom of post.
Sunday: 1 hour, 21 minutes doing writing practice from 2 prompts
Monday: 1 hour, 5 minutes revising “Outcast
Tuesday: 43 minutes revising “Outcast”
Wednesday: 1 hour, 16 minutes revising “Outcast”
Thursday: 1 hour, 4 minutes revising “Outcast”
Friday: 30 minutes reviewing outlines for 2 other Pithea books
Saturday: 1 hours, 12 minutes revising “Outcast”

Friday I needed a break from “Outcast,” especially after some stresses from the day. I started thinking about NaNoWriMo and wondered what I might write in November. I have a few Pithea books that need redrafted and a few that need revised. But for NaNoWriMo, I prefer to go the traditional route of writing a brand new novel from scratch. That really only leaves me with one option right now–a book that I have a preliminary outline for that takes place after the 7 that are on the list in the above link. So instead of working on “Outcast,” I took some time to read over the outline for that book and refresh my mind on it, as well as the book that comes right before it and will have a lot of connection to it. It was a nice break from “Outcast” revision, while still keeping my mind in the same space.

I won Camp NaNoWriMo, on Tuesday, July 30th, which is just so much less exciting than winning NaNoWriMo proper. Oh well, it’s coming soon! Anyway, I finished the month with an average of 1 hour, 15 minutes worked per day, which makes sense, since the 1st half of the month, I worked 90 minutes per day, and the 2nd half of the month I worked 60 minutes per day (plus some extra to make up for getting behind in the 1st half).

2019-Apr Camp Winner-Facebook-Cover

*Now for an announcement! My blog has been titled “Keeping Procrastination at Bay” since I started it 5 years ago. The original purpose of the blog was to give myself a semi-public location to hold myself accountable to working on my writing. In the last year or so, and especially the last month, it has evolved to a point where I only post weekly updates on my writing work, because I’d rather post things that people can actually get some use out of. I realized this week that the blog title makes no sense anymore. I changed it to “A Journey of Words” because I’ve added reading posts to my writing posts, and overall, words are a big part of my life, and my blog, now.

Book Corner: Ready Player One

Book Corner

Finished Reading: Ready Player One
by Ernest Cline

My rating: 3.5 / 5
Genre: Science Fiction

RP1.png

Over 100 years in the future, mankind has been largely driven inside the virtual world. They work in the OASIS, go to school, hang out with friends, rely on it for entertainment, and even treasure hunt in the OASIS. The main storyline in the book is a treasure hunt that was created by the man who created the OASIS. The person who finds the Easter egg hidden in the virtual environment, by following all of the clues, will basically be the wealthiest person alive.

Ready Player One is my husband’s favorite book. He’s tried to get me to read the book or watch the movie here and there, but I told him that I didn’t think I’d enjoy it as much as him, because the 80s references would largely be lost on me. I was a teenager in the 90s, and a fairly sheltered one at that. I don’t even know much about pop culture in the 90s and know way, way less about pop culture in the 80s. But now that I’ve started to get back to my bookworm roots, I knew it was time to give this book a read.

Keep in mind when reading the rest of this post that I was correct about the heavy 80s references not providing much nostalgia for me. However, I don’t think that’s the only reason that the plethora of references fell flat for me. I came to a point pretty early on when I realized how shallow most of the references were. Movies, games, books, TV shows, comics, music–all of these things were briefly named, often in lists, but that’s about it. So I guess the people who get the references get to go, “Oh! That show!” and move on. Not much substance.

On the flip side, however, the times when the 80s pop culture was part of the challenges in The Hunt, even though I didn’t get the hit of nostalgia during those sections that others would get, I really enjoyed them! So not diving into spoilers too much, the Easter egg hunt involved finding 3 keys, which each opened a gate. So the hunters had to find the keys, find the gates, and “clear” the gates, all of which involved solving some sort of challenge, even if just a riddle. Those were my favorite parts of the book. Unfortunately, in between these sections, the book mostly dragged for me, especially when the main character, Parzival, pushed his friends away and was alone for a while.

Another thing I enjoyed about the book was the way the author described things inside the Oasis. I actually thought it would seem silly or weird to read about the mechanics in this virtual world, but Cline did a good job of explaining it. I’ve played a decent amount of games that allowed me to imagine how the interface worked, so that might have helped.

As the book ramped up to the end, I kept expecting a huge twist. A certain specific trope that I won’t mention so I don’t spoil that it doesn’t happen was especially on my mind, but it doesn’t happen. Not that there wasn’t any kind of twist near the end, but not what I was expecting, and not as big as I was expecting. I weirdly found the end of the book and the challenges the characters had to go through too easy and very difficult at the same time. It’s hard to explain without giving anything away though.

My husband tells me that the movie is different from the book, but good in its own right. He also says it focuses more on The Hunt (the parts I liked the most). I’m looking forward to watching it!

Find out more about Ernest Cline and Ready Player One

Up next: The Trials of Lance Eliot by M.L. Brown and Wonderblood by Julia Whicker (spoiler: one of these I did not finish)

If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!

Book Corner: July Review

Book Corner

At the beginning of this month, I decided to devote more time to reading. Of course, in my case, based on how much I’ve read over the last 10 years, more time meant…any time. Over the course of the month, I read 6 books, which surprised me. But even more importantly (and more excitingly), I quickly rediscovered how much I loved reading. Two days ago, my husband saw where the bookmark was in my 6th book for the month and said, “You really are getting back into reading, aren’t you?” My response: “Yes! This is what I used to do, and I’m loving it!”

So while in my first post announcing this new feature (and hobby re-kindling), I suggested that posting about what books I’m reading would be a way to hold myself accountable, I know that’s not necessary. Now I’m just posting what I’ve read to share it with others and make my recommendations. But while I planned for this feature to be weekly, and thought it might even sometimes have to be filled in with something besides a review of what I recently read because I wouldn’t read fast enough, my reading pace has made me realize I’m quickly going to get behind in posting reviews.

My plan going forward will be to post on a Tuesday now and then to catch back up, because I can’t guarantee this pace will be consistent. For example, The Novice (a YA book that I enjoyed), I read in 3 days. The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle (an adult murder-mystery with a complicated premise) took 7 days. I’ve also been lucky to have had a quiet month, but I know that at times I will be too busy to finish books this quickly. So I’m not ready to completely move to a twice a week schedule, but I’ll stick in some extra posts to stay caught up.

Here are the books I read in July, only half of which have been posted about:
Weave a Circle Round by Kari Maaren
The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
The Oath by Frank Peretti
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
The Novice by Taran Matharu (review pending)
The Trials of Lance Eliot by M.L. Brown, a.k.a. Adam Stück

The rest of these posts will go up in the next few weeks. My ever-changing list of to-be-reads, as well as a flag for the book I’m currently reading and an ongoing list of those I’ve read and posted about can be found here.

I’m also keeping my Goodreads page updated with a more extensive list of to-be-reads, if anyone is interested in that. (Note: The list of books I have read overall is not remotely complete there. When I created my Goodreads page 4 years ago, I added some of my favorite books over the years, but to add everything I’ve ever read would be very time-consuming, not to mention impossible to remember it all.)

Despite my almost too-long list of TBRs, I’m always looking for more to add. Feel free to offer suggestions of your favorites or just recent reads you enjoyed.

Writing Wednesday: Prompt

WW Prompt

Here’s today’s Writing Wednesday Prompt:

All traditions have to start somewhere.

If you write something from this prompt, by all means let me know! Feel free to share what you wrote, if you want!

**If you’re looking for more like this, you might want to check out the story seeds posts I wrote for NaNoPrep a few years ago. They are not specific to NaNoWriMo, and each contains a list of several different types of prompts or ways to generate story ideas. You can find them here: Story Seeds 1, Story Seeds 2, Story Seeds 3, Story Seeds 4**

A Monday Moment: Avoidance

Monday Moment

“Is this kamphas?” Nathan called.

Penny suppressed a sigh and walked over to where he was kneeling, holding a green plant. “No, remember, I said the leaves are more rounded. Would it help if I gave you some to hold onto, so you could compare it?”

“I doubt it,” he said with a frown. “All you have is dried up, so it wouldn’t look the same. The leaves on what you showed me didn’t look very round. They looked…well, sort of like this.”

“I told you that hunting for kamphas can be tedious, unrewarding work.”

He straightened up and looked at her curiously. “Did I complain?”

“Not yet.”

He nodded then. “I’m bothering you.”

“Not…bothering,” she said. “I just…don’t know why you wanted to come with me at all.”

He smiled. “You don’t understand why someone would want to spend time with you?”

“I don’t understand why you would want to spend time with me in this way,” she said, trying really hard not to blush.

He shrugged and started walking again. She followed him.

“You said you’d have lunch with me today,” he reminded her.

“I know, but—”

“But you ran out of kamphas and needed to procure more as soon as possible. You told me.” His tone led Penny to think that he didn’t believe her.

“I used more than I thought making the Substance K for my final examination, and still didn’t have enough K made, so it was vital that I…what?” He had stopped and was looking at her with an amused expression.

“You’re avoiding me.”

“What? Of course I’m not. I really did need more kamphas.”

“Then why are you so uncomfortable with me coming along?” He held up the basket he’d been carrying the entire time. “You said we’d have lunch; I’m just providing a way to do that and allow you to restock your kamphas supply at the same time.”

She finally softened a bit, feeling badly about how she’d been treating him. “I am hungry, and you know how much I always enjoy the food you bring me. But I didn’t lie about needing more kamphas…maybe about how vital it was that I get some as soon as possible…”

“Then can we stop and eat now? I promise to stay and help until we find as much kamphas as you need after that.”

She took a breath and held it in for a long moment, then exhaled and nodded. He began to lay out the food he’d brought and gestured his invitation for Penny to sit next to him on the blanket he’d hastily stuffed into the basket as soon as he caught wind of the location change for their lunch.

“I’m sorry I wasn’t completely truthful to you,” Penny said, eyeing the food, but unwilling yet to partake. “I…I don’t really know why it’s been so awkward to be around you.”

“I think I do,” he said. After a pause, he put forth his theory. “Ever since I told you about my past, there have been no more barriers between us. I think it scares you.”

“Doesn’t it scare you?” she asked quickly.

“Why would it scare me? You’ve become one of my best friends. I care…very deeply about you.” He looked her directly in the eyes, remembering the connection he’d felt with her right after he’d told her his story. Right before she’d hurried out of the room and spent the next few months deftly avoiding him. “In the interest of complete honesty—”

“Oh, don’t tell me there’s more,” she interrupted.

“What?”

“Nathan, I don’t know how to handle what you shared with me. I can’t begin to imagine what it must have been like to grow up the way that you did! I care about you too, but…well, like you said, it scares me.”

He put his hands on the blanket behind him and leaned back, stretching out his legs. “Why?”

She shook her head. She wasn’t sure how to put into words what she’d been feeling. “I guess I feel like you want me to fill some kind of role for you, something I don’t understand and don’t know that I can possibly do. I guess…I just don’t know what you want from me.”


Prompt used:

Weekly Writing Update: July pt. 4

Sunday: 1 hour, 23 minutes revising “Outcast
Monday: 1 hour, 12 minutes revising “Outcast”
Tuesday: 1 hour, 12 minutes revising “Outcast”
Wednesday: 1 hour, 4 minutes revising “Outcast”
Thursday: 1 hour revising “Outcast”
Friday: 1 hour, 14 minutes revising “Outcast”
Saturday: 1 hours, 2 minutes revising “Outcast”

I spent over half of this week putting changes from the first half of revisions into the computer, partly so I didn’t have to do the entire story’s worth later, and partly so I could get an idea of how many words I’d added. It wasn’t many, but a few thousand is better than going down in word count.

I then went back to revising and am now about 2/3-3/4 of the way through the draft. When this draft is done, I’ll likely go back through and read the entire thing at a quicker pace, since I added several new scenes, get my story structure and scenes straightened out, and then see if I can recruit the TCSTB to be my first beta-readers and get an idea of where the story stands and how much work it needs. It’s been quite a while since we revised “Pithea” together though, and we’re all in very different places in our lives, so I don’t have any illusions about the possibility of us working together intensively like we did then. But I still highly value their feedback.

I was able to get caught up to par for Camp NaNoWriMo, making up the deficit I had going into this week.  There are 4 days left now, so I’m confident of a win (maybe even a slightly early finish).

2019-camp

Book Corner: The Oath

Book Corner

Finished Reading: The Oath
by Frank Peretti

My rating: 5 / 5
Genre: Christian Thriller

The Oath

People are disappearing, possibly dying, in or around a small mining town in the Pacific northwest, and the the people in town seem to know what’s going on, but are unwilling or unable to talk about it. When an outsider dies, it opens up their small-town secrets to the rest of the world. The brother of the outsider who died starts to dig and uncovers a creature that he is determined to bring to light, but the town’s occupants won’t let go of their dragon without a fight.

The Oath has been my favorite book pretty much since I first read it, at least 20 years ago. Up until maybe 10 years ago, I re-read it just about every year. It used to scare me when I read it at night, despite how well I knew the story. Now that I’m getting back to reading regularly, I realized how much I wanted to read it again, and part of that was curiosity about whether or not its status as my favorite book would hold up. I’m happy to say it did!

I fully admit that the book could have been shorter, as there is a decent amount of description of old mining operations and mountain views that I generally skim, but overall, the book is a great example of a Christian thriller. It is also an allegory, which I think is important to realize while reading it.

Once again, by the time I was in the 2nd half of this book, I found myself caught up in the hunt and the excitement of what was happening. I did not have any issues reading at night though, so apparently I’ve either gotten used to it enough, or I’ve grown out of that problem. But I thoroughly enjoyed it, and in a way felt like I was coming home as I read this classic favorite.

Find out more about The Oath

Up next: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!

Writing Wednesday: Prompt

WW Prompt

Here’s today’s Writing Wednesday Prompt:

If only you hadn’t opened that door…

If you write something from this prompt, by all means let me know! Feel free to share what you wrote, if you want!

**If you’re looking for more like this, you might want to check out the story seeds posts I wrote for NaNoPrep a few years ago. They are not specific to NaNoWriMo, and each contains a list of several different types of prompts or ways to generate story ideas. You can find them here: Story Seeds 1, Story Seeds 2, Story Seeds 3, Story Seeds 4**