Book Review Tuesday – No Reviews/What I’m Reading Now

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Just call me the quadruple-fisted reader, my friends!

I’m still slowly making my way through Freya Aswynn’s Runes and Feminine Powers: Northern Mysteries and Magick. I’ve gotten to the part about using runes for magic-casting, but haven’t proceeded much further. It’s mainly because I don’t get back to my mother’s house until late, and I’m a bit too tired to read. Fun fact about me: Reading doesn’t put me to sleep. It actually winds me up and makes sleep difficult.

I’ve also taken to reading The Elder Futhark by Edred Thorsson.

Now you may ask why am I reading Pagan literature? Aside from the fact that I have declared myself as a Pagan (Lokean Odinist, to be precise), I have taken to writing heavily about the Norse pantheon. I’ve taken to looking over books and websites to learn more to spark the imagination. I’ve found that the Norse gods are an interesting lot, and I will be continuing to learn as much about them as I can.

I’m also delving into chakra healing. I know. Hippie dippie for some, peace and love and all that, but those are not bad messages to spread, either. I find my day runs much smoother when people are kind and smiling than aggravated and scowling.

Finally, well, Lovegrove won me over with The Age of Odin. I’ve purchased two more books in his Pantheon series, The Age of Zeus and The Age of Shiva. It’s wonderful to pick up a series and not feel totally lost as to what’s going on as he’s not connected any of them. Each aspect lives and thrives in its own little world.

Who can not like that?

Moving Forward Monday – An Announcement. Some Slight Displeasure (mini rant)

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Starting with the mini rant as I want to end this entry on a positive note.

I really should listen to Manic Monday by the Bangles some days. Today, the theme seems to fit in some ways. The bus ran late, which was a bit annoying (I could have walked to another location and gotten there faster in the time it took to wait for said bus). But it still worked out. By the time it got to the stop, I’d decided to have a bit of an adventure for the day so, instead of going with a one-way trip, I purchased a day pass and went to the mall.

I also had a bit of an emotional weekend, mostly on Saturday. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m moving out of Tulsa to a new location (yes, I know where I’m going; no, I’m not announcing the where until sometime over the weekend or next Monday). One of the places I was looking at was very ideal for me. Half a house, under $500 a month for rent (utilities not included) with the landlord, according to the girl who posted the ad, wanting a six month to one year lease contract. That I can live with, certainly. After a rough day at work on Saturday (I was caught between happy and irritated), I found I wasn’t chosen for the place. (I have obviously not mastered the art of making a pest of out myself when need be.)

Talk about a lesson in rejection over something I really wanted! I got the news on my way back to the house after leaving work and held it together . . . until I got into my basement bedroom. I had a hard time breathing for a bit, managed to calm myself to go back upstairs (my sister had a gift for me, if I liked it – by the way, I did) then lost it all over again once back in the basement. It was a rough go, a painful crescendo to a turbulent day.

As far as it goes, I handed this quite welll. Not the greatest, certainly, but I learned that I have two ways of actually dealing with rejection. One is the slight sniff and shrug of the shoulders with an added “I didn’t really want to work there anyway” or “I didn’t want to move there anyway”, what have you, and actually mean it as it was a token effort in the first place. This was something I actually, truly wanted because, hey, only one roommate, half a house to myself with no need to wait for a bathroom like you have to when you live with more than one person and only have one bathroom, who wouldn’t want such a thing, really?

So I cried. I slept, and I have goten over it. I’m not demanding to know why from the gal, I’m not throwing a temper tantrum at having been looked over, nothing. I tripped and stumbled and got a little dirt on me. I didn’t have a house fall on top of me, so to speak, and I had kept in mind that there was a chance I would not be chosen. So I kept looking and had actually found another.

And I’m turbulent over this one, too. Mainly, it’s because it’s a very short-term arrangement (two to three months), and I’d possibly have to move again after that time. Yeah, it could be longer, but the chances of that are kind of slim at this point. Right now, mentally, I’m not prepared for another move on the heels of this move. From a financial standpoint as well as a practical one, it also makes no sense to move itno this place just to have to turn around and look again.

I’m also kind of stuck and limited in what I can find. Because I played it safe for way too long, I have no renters’ history, nothing I can use as a back-up to say, hey, I’m an ideal tenent to an actual apartment complex.

Now, pissing and moaning aside, I can definitely make this particular arrangement in front of me work. Do I want to have to live out of a suitcase for a couple of months? No. I’ve been doing that for a year now. But I can carry on until I can get into the ideal place. It’s just going to be a bit of a mad scramble, finding work and starting the place-to-live hunt again, and it’s something I’m just not looking forward to doing. I would like some sense of stability after this.

Anyway, that’s the end of the rant. I know I can make any type of a situation work for me, I don’t always look forward to doing so, don’t always want to do so, but life isn’t always meant to be simple and easy. That said, well, I did have an adventure today. Not something grand, like what heroes undertake in epic fantasy novels, but it was certainly fun. Thanks to the day pass for the bus, I made my way to the Woodland Hills Mall, where I had lunch (primary reason for going – Nori Japan is simply awesome for Japanese fast food) and bought a gift for a friend of mine (he likes chocolate covered gummy bears – yes, it’s as weird as it sounds!). I’ve since meandered over to Barnes and Noble so I can continue looking for a place and to promote currently published stories and to, well, write this entry. Overall, thoughts on housing aside, I’m having a good day.

Which now brings me to my announcement. I’ll be publishing a short story sometime between the end of May and the end of June. Sigyn’s Flowers is nearing completion and will go through a few rounds of critique. Once I have it finished and polished, I’ll be seeking to send out some advance copies to people via email. I’m testing a mini launch team to help in promoting the story. It’ll be a small number, of course, so if anyone who reads this is interested, please let me know.

And that’s it for today. Until tomorrow, my friends!

Writing Tip Wednesday – Words of Encouragement

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This is going to be quite brief. I’ve got to run soon and pay my cell bill for next month. It isn’t due, but with a move coming up, I’m making sure I’ve got that at least another month!

Anyway, to all of my fellow writers, here are some words of encouragement.

Do something crazy every once in a while. Don’t play it safe. You’ll have nothing to write about if you do.
Don’t forget to laugh and to breathe. Writing is a crazy thing, one that makes even the most imaginative of us want to pull our hair out in frustration and tears.  Take a breather and just relax.
The blocks don’t last forever. The burnouts don’t last forever. They only do if you’re willing to give up on yourself.
Rejections are tools. How you use them is what matters.
Reviews are the opinons of others. Don’t let them create self-doubt within you.

It isn’t much, but it’s what I have to offer for today.

Now to go wander off and get that phone bill paid!

Book Review Tuesday – The Age of Odin by James Lovegrove. COMPLETE

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Last Tuesday, I gave a partial review of The Age of Odin by James Lovegrove. The partial review was sparked by what I’d read up to that point, especially in regards to the lore surrounding the death of Baldur and his admittance into the realm of Helheim.

 

These are some of the basics of the Norse lore as I have learned through my own research:

 

1 – Baldur not deserving to go to Valhalla (or, in Lovegrove’s case, Gimle) due to the manner of his death is one. He did not die a glorious death, as was wanted by all, including the likes of Thor, destined to die fighting Jörgmungandr, the son of Loki.

 

2 – Loki did not steal the Brisingamen from Freya without cause. He was actually ordered to do so by Odin himself for reasons the surviving lore has not stated (but can be surmised by those who follow the Northern traditions that it had something to do with the Brisingamen’s powers and forging; not the so-called debasing of Freya in order to obtain said jewelry). Lovegrove’s Odin omits that when recounting Loki’s mischief to MC Gid Coxall.

 

3 – One source I have found stated somewhat vaguely that Hod, twin brother to Baldur, was actually jealous of his sibling and over a woman, no less.

 

As I said, these are some of the basics. Due to the limitations of a first person PoV narrative, there actually wasn’t much opportunity for Lovegrove to flesh out the likes of the deities he used for this particular story. He did the best he could with the barest of basics and still managed to weave an intriguing and fun story to read.

 

Yes, I enjoyed the story a great deal. I love how he poked fun a bit at Bragi, a poet, and at creative people in general when Gid had asked Bragi (god of poetry amongst the Norse, for those who don’t know) about how the story for the Norse was going to end. Bragi didn’t admit to much, and the chapter ended with a “Bloody creative types”. It’s very tongue-in-cheek and hilarious because it’s also true at the same time. We creative types, we writers don’t always like to give away the endings to the stories we’re crafting.

 

I also give Lovegrove props and kudos for modernizing the lore. Gods with machine guns. A certain God of Mischief in a position of power no one would want him to be in and having said country’s military craft him devices as replicas of two of his children in order to take out certain members of the pantheon.

 

I won’t give the ending away for those who have not read the book just yet. Mainly, I want people who are interested in modern science-fiction blended with myths to give this a book a try and make their own decisions. The ending, for me, kind of falls into one of the so-called “don’t do this” rules people latch onto when it comes to storytelling – which “rule” he breaks, I won’t say. I will guarantee that he pulls it off due to the nature of the tradition he uses for this particular novel.

 

The Age of Odin is the third book in James Lovegrove’s The Pantheon Series. Don’t worry. One does not need to read The Age of Ra or The Age of Zeus in order to enjoy The Age of Odin. None of the stories are connected.

 

Now that I’ve finished The Age of Odin and The Ramayana, I’m eyeballing The Age of Zeus and The Age of Shiva by Lovegrove along with Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. Come May, I’m pondering getting Rick Riordan’s new series, The Trials of Apollo.

 

I would say I need to stop buying books until I’ve read everything I’ve already purchased, but, as most readers and book lovers know, it’s not going to happen. I just love books.

 

Up for tomorrow:

Writing Tip Wednesday – Words of Encouragement

Moving Forward Monday – Definitely Moving Forward!

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Yep. I went silent over the weekend. Weekends are not always good for blogging, but that’s okay. I’m definitely the one who can fix that!

Anyway, some updates and how I’m continuing to move forward.

I’ve put my two week notice in at Ihop. I’m moving out of Tulsa, Oklahoma, at the end of the month, and, due to an experience with Burger King, I don’t expect to actually transfer from one location to another without having to quit one and apply at another. It might seem like a major pain, but it’s what I’m expecting with work. What I explained to my sister’s boyfriend last night (and to my best friend sometime last week) was that working for a restaurant is not the same as working for a company like Wal-Mart or T.J. Maxx. Major chain restauarants, like Burger King and Ihop, are licensed out to franchises. Transfer is possible within the franchise itself but not outside. It’s kind of sucky, having to do the whole job-seeking thing again, but I’ve been smarter about this than I have the last five times I’ve moved. I have enough money saved up to cover a security deposit and two months of rent along with a rental car to take what I want with me. I’ll even have leftover money to help with utilities and to buy myself some groceries, especially if I can get into the location I’ve recently inquired about (and I’m hoping that I can! I have such good feels about the prospective roomie and location). If anything, that two months of rent will give me a nice cushion for job-seeking. And for more writing! I can’t ever forget that.

For those wondering why I’m not staying in Tulsa, it really is simple: I’ve never seen myself staying in this area long term. Quite honestly, I never wanted to move here in the first place. I came here when I did because the time was right, and it did provide me with a learning experience that I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else. Someone took a chance on me as a server/waitress that no one in the past had ever been willing to do, and it’s done some amazing things for my self-confidence.

It’s just time for me to move on. My current living arrangements aren’t the best, and I still have no transportation of my own. It’ll be a bit of a limitation for me when I get to my new location (yes, I know where I’m going. No. I’m not announcing it just yet, not until I’ve actually lined up a place to live). However, I have managed in Bremerton, Philadelphia, Cadillac, and here in Tulsa without owning a car or even getting a loan for a car. I can manage in my new home.

Spiritually, things are moving forward as well. (Yes, Posting a bit on the spiritual side of things.) I’m working towards “lightening” my spiritual load. I’m tired of the negative constantly dragging me down and adding extra weight to me that I can’t carry. And I do it to myself, too, a sign of being a Libra and interested in dispensing justice. Losing unnecessary and dead weight is an absolute must at this point. It’s been an absolute must for a long time, but I’ve kept ignoring it. (Which, by the way, is not good.)

Professionally, I’ve hit some stumbling blocks, mainly working five days a week and just not wanting to do much of anything, including something big and major that I hope will go over well upon the time to announce it. What is it? That little secret is mine for now. Know it won’t be hindering what I’ve already announced, but it certainly will be fun!

And that’s what I’m moving forward on. I’m happier than I can ever remember being. By the end of this month, my life is going to be even better! I am so looking forward to all of it!

Up for tomorrow:
Book Review Tuesday – Complete Review of The Age of Odin by James Lovegrove
What I’m Currently Reading

Throwback Thursday/Giving Thanks, Thorsday – The Homeless Experience

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Welcome to Thursday/Thors Day, my friends and fellow writers!

This is going to sound so odd to so many people.

In some ways, I miss being homeless and being in Philadelphia.

Yes. It’s odd.

Now, mind you, I don’t miss the not knowing what to do with my belongings at 5 am or the worry that someone’s going to find where I’ve hidden my belongings and steal stuff from me. I don’t miss going days on end without a shower and having security officers harass me because I have nowhere else to go and I’ve just sat down with a cup of coffee that was either free thanks to some group’s hospitality or because I managed to find enough change on the ground to buy one. (Or because I bought some instant with my food stamps and managed to get a cup of hot water for free.) I don’t miss having to work at saving up enough personal hygiene products, either. I don’t miss any of that. I don’t (usually) miss being unemployed and not having a steady income.

So why am I saying that I miss something about it? See, my current work schedule bringing back some very fond memories. As of this moment in time, I work for an Ihop restaurant that opened back in October. I’m scheduled 6 am to 2 pm, and I work every weekend. Some days I end up going over, due to the amount of business we get. And, when I lived in Philly, I was up before 5 am every single day. This past Saturday, as I was going about getting things ready for the shift, I was hit with the nostalgia for soup. I wanted some soup.

At 6 am.

From Saint Mark’s.

You see, some of the friends I made started to make sure I knew where I could go to get out of the cold and where I could get food without having to rely on my food stamps all of the time. Saint Mark’s offered a brief respite for the homeless and served soup at 6 am. It’s an odd choice for breakfast, but, when you’re cold and hungry, you will eat pretty much whatever is served to you. Soup on a cold winter’s morning actually hit the spot.

It’s been almost a year since I left Philadelphia and that life behind. I do kick myself for not sticking things out a little longer, that I’d misinterpreted some good intentions on a family member’s part, but I am also quite thankful for all that has happened in the last year. I can face leaving things behind now whereas last year, at this time, I couldn’t.

So a throwback to an old life and a time for thanks. I really am thankful for where my life has led me, the things I have learned. I’ve faced some pretty dark things as a homeless women but I’ve also faced some dark things, dark times living with family and coming to understand what it is that I do and don’t need. If not for heading to Seattle then to Philadelphia, if not for some ever present fear when I first published Portal to Gaming (wow, what a lifetime ago), I wouldn’t have uncovered the fact I was living a “safe” life due to someone else’s fears. This is an eye-opener for me.

For all that I’ve experienced as a homeless woman, I am grateful.

Writing Tip Wednesday – The Subjectivity of Rules

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On Monday, I’d written briefly about rules for writing and how, for me, the only ones any author really needs to follow are the ones for sentence structure, punctuation, and spelling. That got me to thinking about what I wanted to write for today and how there are exceptions even for these tried and true rules.

First and foremost, I want to explain this: Knowing how to properly spell words and write a sentence will go a very long way in crafting a compelling story for readers. I don’t care if it’s fanfiction or original fiction. Having these basics down will aid a writer far better than not. The likes of Stephen King, David Farland, J.K. Rowling, Anne Rice, and Anne McCaffrey are testaments to this. If they had not been able to craft a sentence or spell words correctly, we would not know who they are. (So keep that in mind if you want to publish a story that’s riddled with bad grammar and spelling. Not only does it annoy the avid, always hungering reader, but just flat out makes you look bad. Even the casual reader can be turned off by that.)

I can hear the counters for this now. “Only 2% of the population really notices such things” or “But it’s just for fun!” Really, I dare you people to come up with better arguments than excuses for laziness when it comes to the prose of your stories. And I did say that there are exceptions to some of these rules, and actually it’s just ONE exception. Here it is:

Character Dialogue/Characters Writing Notes

How is character important here? Well, let’s take a look.

Depending on the type of character you have created, these rules will become subjective. Is the character a five-year-old learning how to write for the first time? Does the character have a learning disability? Is the character from another country (or, for the sci-fi peeps, another planet)? How does the character talk in your head? Is it like a fluent English professor with perfect pronounciation and enunciation? Is there a dialect in the person’s speech patterns? Is the character a talker who doesn’t know how to take a breath while talking?

All of this will help you (the writer) to determine how to write for the character. A five-year-old doesn’t instantly know how to spell something like Avalokitesvara or even a word as simple as good. A foreigner learning English will speak in broken sentences, and to write an accent or dialect, well, can’t do that without a few intentionally misspelled words here and there.

These are things that will add flavor to a story.

Beyond that, the actual narrative needs those hard, tried and true rules in order to keep the story afloat.