Monday, April 14, 2014

Snippets, Cover Peeks, and Opera

War and Peace (2007)

I haven't done snippets in a really long time, but since I'm so close to publishing Hidden Pearls, I thought I might as well share a bit or two- something that's quite difficult, mainly because I don't want to give away all the best bits, so I'm tempted to share some more boring snippets...which isn't really going to encourage ya'll to read the book, is it?

     She had been aware of the tales about the captain of the Lady Cleopatra, one of the few pirate ships left on the seas. England had enough trouble with American and French privateers to worry about their own citizens turning against her. But English the Lady Cleopatra was indeed, though facts about her captain remained murky. The most anyone knew about the man- who called himself Marc Antony -was that he was an excellent swordsman, a merciless taskmaster, and a ruthless victor.
     Even those attributes were controversial, as some claimed him a misunderstood hero who hurt no one and gave away his riches. He wore a black mask at all times which intrigued the public about his identity but frustrated the authorities. In public, Constance thought the pirate was rather melodramatic and ridiculous; in private she admitted to herself his mysterious identity excited her imagination. 

However, because I'm so nice (*cheeky grin*), I thought I'd share a little peek into the making of the Hidden Pearls cover. I'm not sure when I'll be doing a cover reveal (I'm having an awful time writing a book synopsis for the back. No joke, it really is one of the most difficult tasks of any author. How am I supposed to explain my 400+ page novel in a paragraph without sounding boring, self-conscious, ocliché?) but here's a peek at one of the pictures I'm using for the front cover. The watermarked version, anyway, since I had to buy it from shutterstock and I don't think they'd care if I gave the internet at large access to a clear copy:



I'm currently writing this while listening to "The Classical Child at the Opera" which I found on itunes. Emily, Harrison, and I adored this cd as little kids but years of wear and tear and toddlers and stomping around to the "Children's March" scratched and bumped the cd into an unusable piece of plastic. :( Opera really is fun. I'm no expert on it, of course, and I rarely understand the foreign lyrics, but it's so expressive. (One of our favorite things to do was to act out "The Doll Song." It's one of my favorite childhood memories) So I'm off to more editing (Which also involves more opera and chocolate-snacking. I'm starting to feel positively glamorous now. Well, I would be if I was wearing any make-up...;)


  

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Classics Club: Wuthering Heights


Oh, Wuthering Heights. How do I hate thee? Let me count the ways…

All right, I will try to do this is a non-confrontational, respectful way. But honestly, I found this book extremely hard to like. In a nutshell, it was about unlikable people doing stupid things selfishly. Truthfully, Catherine and Heathcliff were two of the most unlikable, annoying, selfish, bratty and in Heathcliff’s case, cruel characters that I have ever had the misfortune to meet.

And as for Wuthering Heights being a legendary romance and love story? That though Cathy and Heathcliff were unlikable and flawed, their one redemption was their love for each other? Ummm….“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” I’m sorry, but whatever Cathy and Heathcliff had, love wasn't it.

Heathcliff was abusive, cruel and more than one point had me thinking he was slightly unhinged. How can there be people who consider him a romantic hero? If anything, he was the villain of the story (or at the very least, the antagonist)! And Cathy? Oh my word, what a spoiled, uncontrolled- uh! And it drove me crazy that anytime anyone would address her behavior, she would wail and cry and then get dangerously ill. Really guys? Really? Cathy II (the first one’s daughter) was only slightly better. She annoyed me too, but at least she had one or two good points to her personality.

That being said, were there any redeeming qualities to this novel? One thing I have to give to Emily Brontë is that she created such an intense story using so few characters- the entire book was literally about two households and no one else, which is a feat to be sure. Though a lot of people dislike the fact that it’s a story-within-a-story, I preferred it that way, though it could get confusing. And despite my hatred of the storyline- it was weird, disturbing, maddening- okay, I’ll hold off on my adjectives- I will admit that it kept my attention for most of the book. 

And to top the post off, here are my reactions to Wuthering Heights using gifs:


*Spoilers Ahead*

When Cathy is being a spoiled brat and yet the narrator portrays her sympathetically:


Sherlock Frustrated

Kat Dennings Whatever

When Cathy and Heathcliff are together:

Tense

When Cathy dies:

I almost Care

Heathcliff's reaction to Cathy's death:

Are you done?

The way Heathcliff treats his son:

Angry Joey

The way Heathcliff treats everyone in general:

Zooey GIF

Cathy II and Linton's relationship:

Conan Facepalm

When Heathcliff died:



the end:

Does not get it

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)


Well, to say I wanted to go see this movie is a bit of an understatement. Actually, I ended up being a third wheel and crashing my parents' date to get there. But my begging was worth it because I loved it. Actually, it may be my favorite solo Avengers movie to date.

This picture cracks me up, though. The knife kind of looks like a lizard that they're both freaking out over...
First of all, before you go any farther I'm going to tell you right here that the movie was pretty much non-stop action and there was quite a lot of violence. It wasn't bloody, gory violence so much as just a lot of physical, fist-punching stuff, so I give you fair warning. It was definitely different in feel (and darker) than the first Captain America movie. However, I thought the plot had some great twists and a good story, and so I really recommend it- but again I feel I need to warn you about that. (and when it comes out on DVD and thus available to watch on clearplay...well, I don't really have many qualms recommending it then at all)


Okay, my first worry about this movie is that I was afraid that they'd try to change Captain America now that he's in the modern world- maybe make him less red-white-blue-and-old-fashioned-heroic, I guess. But I was wrong- throughout the movie Captain America kept to his beliefs...and affected the people around him. oooh, I love this character so much :) AND HE SAW PEGGY. I wasn't expecting to have this movie affect me emotionally, but with the Peggy-and-Cap scene and the plot with the Winter Soldier, this movie did a number on my emotions, thankyouverymuch. (And that's not to mention the stress this movie put me under, either). However, you got to see the "soldier side" of Captain America as well...he did a lot of fighting.


And yay for Black Widow, too. She was definitely a prominent character, and a surprising amount of the comic relief rested on her, too. (The scene with her chewing the bubble gum...hahaha:) I do hope we get ourselves a Black Widow movie sometime. I don't normally go for the "tough girl" type of heroines, but she's just plain intriguing, and surprising sympathetic, too.


I wasn't familiar with Sam "The Falcon" much before I saw this movie, but he was a great character and it was nice to see Steve really begin to make friends and connections in the modern world. Looking forward to seeing him again as well.


Nick Fury is cool, like always. I think one of the most interesting points of the movie was watching how he and Natasha- the both of them rather morally ambiguous-  interacted with the Captain. It's really hard to say things now without giving stuff away...


Bucky....*sobs* Okay, I won't give much away. BUT STAY UNTIL THE END OF THE CREDITS. Just, DO IT. Okay?

A quick note about everybody else...I was excited to see Agent 13 and I'm sure she's going to have a larger part to play in upcoming movies...Alexander Pierce....um, I won't say anything about him because I don't trust myself to give away major plot points....and hey! Agent Maria Hill was in here, too. No Coulson, though. *looks down and sighs*


The only thing I really had a problem with, if I was to name a specific thing, was the fact that there was maybe too much action. Now, I'm an action loving girl, believe me, but I think if they had maybe just shaved that content down a little and replaced it with a bit more character development, it would have been a tad bit better. But I will say that for such a fast-paced movie they did get some important conversations and character development in there. And there were some really great twists, too. (There was one line from the trailer in particular that was really misleading....;) I came in thinking that I already knew a lot about where this movie was going to go, but I was wrong. And I really loved how so many things in this movie were still connected to the first Captain America movie, even if it did take place over 70 years before.

So overall, to all the Marvel fans out there: this was a good one. (and as always, you can find an in-depth review on the content at pluggedinonline)

Friday, March 21, 2014

Michelangelo

     So I had a bit of a situation this month in regards to my biography reading. As we are currently looking for a house and don't have a permanent address yet, my mom didn't want us checking out any books from the library...and all of our own books are packed up. So what was I to do about this month's biography?

     Well, we happened to be in town one day with time to kill, so we decided to hang out in the library, though we couldn't check anything out...so I decided I just needed to find a biography I could read in less than 30 minutes. I'm not sure if that's cheating or not since it wasn't a hard read, but I did learn some things when I found this book on Michelangelo:

317995

     I'm sure we're all pretty well aware that Michelangelo was a famous painter and sculptor, but he was also an architect and poet. I didn't know much about his life beyond his artistic accomplishments, so it was interesting to learn about his family and personal life. Michelangelo never married and was a bit of an antisocial grump, and though talented, I'm not sure if he was always the most pleasant person to be around ;)

     Anyway, I am sorry this is such a short post, but I have quite a bit of editing to do today! But at least I got to read a biography this month, however short it was :)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Slavery vs. Abortion

     One thing that has struck me recently is how many people become really angry when they read a classic novel that includes slavery in a matter-of-fact way as just a part of life. It’s one thing when a modern reader finds a book where the hero or heroine is crusading against the practice; then they find it okay to include such a disagreeable subject. But when slavery exists but is only on the sidelines- and especially if any likable characters (or heaven forbid the protagonist) own slaves- the book is seen as racist. It doesn’t matter that two or three hundred years ago the majority of people accepted slavery; the modern mind just can’t seem to grasp the fact that “good” people ever owned slaves.

Let’s look at some common beliefs about slavery from the 1800s, shall we?

Common Beliefs About Slavery
(circa 1814)

1. It is a legal and acceptable practice.
2. Proponents of the practice see its opponents as either religious fanatics or those accused of using the abolitionist movement for their own political gain.
3. Slaves are not considered “people.”
4. Outlaw of slavery would hinder men’s lifestyles to the point of major modification or total loss.
5. It is a man’s right to own slaves (technically only seen as his property) and treat them as he sees fit.

     So many people believed these things back then. And though we can say that those were the beliefs of the times, that doesn’t make them right. Right and wrong don’t change through the years. I think we can all agree that then and now slavery was wrong, whether or not “society” said it was okay.

And yet, let’s contrast this today with…

Common Beliefs About Abortion
(circa 2014)

1. It is a legal and acceptable practice.
2. Proponents of the practice see its opponents as either religious fanatics or those accused of using the pro-life movement for their own political gain.
3. A fetus is not considered a “person”
4. Outlaw of abortion would hinder women’s lifestyles to the point of major modification or total loss.
5. It is a woman’s right to do what she likes with her unborn child (technically only seen as her body) as she sees fit.

     Slavery is without a doubt wrong. But so is abortion. Just as it is beyond so many of us today to imagine how “good” people could do something so abominable as to own another person, it’s also beyond many of us to understand how “good” people can support the murder of millions and millions of unborn babies, even if it is seen as acceptable by society. Abortion isn’t a women’s right’s issue: it’s a human rights issue, just as slavery was. The question is: do unborn children have the right to live? Are they considered human beings? Do they have rights?

     The issues at hand during the 1700 and 1800s were: Are blacks considered people? Do they have rights? Oh my, we haven’t changed at all, have we? Except now we are asking the same questions about unborn children.

Don’t be like those two hundred years ago who bought into society’s flawed thinking that a despicable practice was okay. And it is my sincere hope that two hundred years from now we will look on the practice of abortion with as much shame and disgust as we now view slavery.

For it was You who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, and I know this full well. My bones were not hidden from You when I was made in secret, when I was formed in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began. Psalm 139:13-16

Just as the kidnapped African slaves were human beings, lovingly crafted by our Lord, so are the children today still in their mother’s wombs. 
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