Of Eragon and Endings

Today’s post is dedicated to the final book in the Inheritance Cycle.  Guess what it’s called.

Inheritance.

A quick word about my Halloween costume first: the post about that is in the works, but I’m afraid it’s not the incredible spectacle I was hoping for.  Therefore, let me just say I was Katniss Everdeen during the 74th Hunger Games.  And it was GLORIOUS.  And if you, dear readers, really want to see it, let me know and I’ll put up that post.

My experience with the Cycle started back in private school.  I want to say third grade, but it could have been anywhere around there.  It was at my school’s book fair that I first saw Eragon: a paperback book with such a pretty blue cover, and with a dragon on it, no less.  The pages were deliberately made to be jagged and uneven, which was strange.  It was a thick book, too.  But it was the dragon that transfixed me.

I kept going back to that book, and so eventually I bought it.

At first it was slow, and I almost put the book down within the first two chapters.  But then Saphira’s egg hatched and I remember reading it in a rush, caught up by the story.  I remember reading it over and over again, and it quickly climbed the ranks of my favorite novels.

I remember when Eldest came out.  I did not buy it right away, so I managed to snag a limited edition, with extra artwork and a complete list of everything in the series thus far.  I remember loving the forest of Du Weldenvarden, as well as the POV shift to Roran.  I remember eagerly searching the Internet for signs of when the third- and final- book would come out.

I remember the release of the movie, and how intensely excited I was.  I remember loving it, only to re-watch it a few years later and finally notice how horribly the producers had mangled the plot, ruining any hope of a sequel (why, oh why, does Brom tell him straight out that he’s a Rider??).

I remember my shock and elation at the news that the trilogy was now a four-book cycle.  I remember waiting for the name of the book to come out: Brisingr.  I remember going to Borders (may it rest in peace) the day it came out.  I remember the cashier remarking that everyone was buying Brisingr that day.

I remember finishing the book one day in school, looking at the back page, and feeling my anticipation for the final volume rise.  I remember the long, dull years we waited for news, any news at all, of the fourth book, and having it not be forthcoming.  I remember two companion books, one by Paolini and one by a fan, that came out during this time.  I remember my frustration that Brisingr should be in paperback, and all these extra things be created, and still the fourth book be far off on the horizon.

Then I remember the news via a Barnes & Noble email that the fourth book would be coming in November.  To me, this marked the beginning of the culmination of something I had been following for much of my life.

And so now we come to this.  With the release only a few days away, it feels strange to me that this should be ending.  It is much like this summer and the release of the final Harry Potter movie.  In fact, the feeling is more so, for I have been following the Cycle longer than I have Harry Potter.

At last all the fandom’s theorizing and speculating (of which I’ve done my fair share) will come to an end, and we will know the answers to all those question that have yet to be addressed.  There will be no more eagerly waiting for news, no more years between books, and we’ll finally know what in Alagaesia the Rock of Kuthian is.

As the Cycle comes to a close, we should applaud Christopher Paolini for his work, and for having such a stunning start to what I am sure will be a spectacular career.  No matter what happens in this final book, the series has come immensely far, and I will always consider it one of my favorites.

Happy reading.

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Did I Mention He’s Cute?

A note: this is for the Teens Can Write, Too! blog chain.  Look at the bottom of the post to find the rest of the participants.  This month’s prompt was, “What is the first thing you can remember writing of your own free will?”

My mom, like many mothers, loves keeping scrapbooks of her children’s lives.  Every vacation, every award, every teensy insignificant detail of our lives is right there in plastic-covered pages, preserved for anyone who gets my parents reminiscing.  In one of those books is the first piece of writing I ever did on my own.

Before I get into what the writing was, you need a little background information.  When I was a wee youngster, climbing over everything and amusing my family to no end, what I wanted more than anything else was a cat.  A soft, adorable, frisky little kitty to play with and cuddle and keep me company.  For years, it felt like, I campaigned relentlessly for an animal to call my own.

Which brings me to the summer after kindergarten.  I was six, and we went up to Rochester, New York to visit my cousins.  It just so happened that they had a neighbor whose cat had just given birth, and the neighbor oh-so-kindly would bring those kittens over in a big plastic tub for us kids to look at.  A week went by, and long story short, I brought home one of the kittens as my own.  His name was Tiger.

My dreams had come true, and I loved him, loved him so much, to the point where I wrote a poem about my intense excitement.  It was called “My Cat,” fittingly enough, and it explained how much I LOVED him.  There was much repetition involved, short as it was.  These lines are a good indicator of how the whole thing went:

My cat is soft, cute, and furry.

It is so cute, I could go blurry.

Here he is today. Well, a couple of days ago.

Young as I was, and with very little writing experience (again, I was six- no one has much experience at that age), not all of it was perfect, or made perfect sense (hey, at least it rhymed.  Rhyming was ALL THAT MATTERED.  Even more than proper pronouns mattered).  But I didn’t care how it sounded.  At the time, all I was doing was celebrating an important thing in my life.  I just happened to use writing as a way of expressing it.  Now, though, I realize what that moment meant for me.

It meant the moment when I became a writer.  It was when I first picked up a pencil with the sole intention of contributing something to the literary world.  I wasn’t doing this for a teacher or my parents.  I was doing this for me.  Today, this feeling has grown.  That’s why this blog exists: for me to express myself through writing.  And to think that it all began with a tiny poem about my cat.

Sure, I wasn’t the best writer at the time.  Now that I’m older, though, I’ve gotten better.  I’m able to craft my words into more poems and stories and be proud of them.  This is who I’ve become, and this is who I am: a writer.  Yes, I’m a teenage writer.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t have something to contribute.  Even when I was six, I had something to say; why shouldn’t I have even more to say now?

It doesn’t matter how old I am.  It doesn’t matter how many writing awards I have or how many people follow this blog.  What matters is that I have something to share, and through writing, I have a way of sharing it.  I have a way of expressing myself that makes me happy, and that has always made me happy from the time I was six years old.  When I’m older and published, I’ll look back on this scrapbook poem and not be ashamed, because this was where it all began.

And because Tiger really is cute.

Want to follow our blog tour? Here are the participating parties, day by day:
October 15th — http://delorfinde.wordpress.com – A Farewell To Sanity
October 16th — http://eatsleepwriterepeat.wordpress.com – Eat, Sleep, Write, Repeat
October 17th — http://taystapeinc.wordpress.com – Tay’s Tape
October 18th — https://noveljourneys.wordpress.com/ – Novel Journeys
October 19th —- http://greatlakessocialist.wordpress.com/ – Red Herring Online
October 20th —http://kirstenwrites.wordpress.com/ – Kirsten Writes!
October 21st — http://incessantdroningofaboredwriter.wordpress.com – The Incessant Droning of a Bored Writer
October 22nd — http://herestous.wordpress.com – Here’s To Us
October 23rd — http://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com – Teens Can Write Too! (We will be announcing the topic for the next month’s chain)

Sock Drawers and Yard Sales

They say you can tell a lot about a person from the contents of their sock drawer.  To some extent, I suppose that’s true.  However, for getting a glimpse into another person’s life, I think one should always look on the bookshelf.

I went yard saling (let’s just pretend that’s a word) yesterday (which is part of the reason I didn’t post).  It’s always a fun time.  You should try it.  The goal is to hit up as many yard/garage sales as possible within your time frame.  I honestly can’t tell you how many I got to.  Yard sales are funny things; you walk around carrying another person’s stuff, and they stand there waiting for you to cart off the recently removed contents of their home.  Whenever someone invites you to essentially root through their private things like that, you’re bound to get a glimpse of what used to be important to them, what they collected, and what their life is like.

At least, the parts of their life that they don’t care about anymore.

I, of course, always head directly to the books at a yard sale.  That’s just the kind of person I am, and it shouldn’t surprise you if you’ve followed this blog for any amount of time.  At one house there were lots of books, at least proportional to the amount of stuff total for sale, so I could tell that particular family had book people.  There were tons of different books: novels, biographies, kid’s books.  I would guess that they were very well-rounded in the literature department.  I approved.

Another place also had a good selection, only this time most of the tomes for sale had to do with Christianity.  These, clearly, were deeply faithful people.  I respected them in that regard.  So they, at least at one point in their lives, had been affected with a curiosity to learn more about the Bible and about God.

One house (actually, it might have been the same one) had lots and lots of magazines lying out for free.  You could just take them.  Among those were maybe twenty copies of National Geographic from the late seventies and early eighties.  That was a really cool find for me.  I picked some up and I’m going to love finding out how the magazine was thirty years ago.  Not that I follow the magazine now, but still.  It’s pretty cool.  So I figured that this household had had someone with a hankering for learning about the world, at least for a while.  Then, who knows?  Maybe they got tired of it.  Maybe there were more copies that had been grabbed before I saw them.

The yard sales were profitable in more ways than one for me.  Sure, I got some awesome deals.  But I also learned just how much you can learn just from viewing what another person has (or once had) on their shelves.  I wonder what my personal shelf would say about me.  That I’m a big reader, sure.  I own more books than I know what to do with.  But other than that?  I own way more fiction than nonfiction, a lot of it YA.  So does that mean I’m immature?  Or that I’m just young (which I am)?  Would the high amount of fantasy and science fiction say that I’m not very down to earth?  Is all of this true of me?

Alas, I cannot make a good prediction, as I’m not another person.  But it’s fun to think about it.

Another thing about yard sale books: they have a separate story.  They’ve been read before.  Someone else once had them on their shelf, someone else may have loved it, treasured it.  Did they take it with them somewhere special?  Or did they buy it and simply forget about it, leaving it to sit in a room somewhere until the day the yard sale came around?  There might be whole stories I don’t even know about but I’m somehow connected to, just by owning a book.  It’s kind of strange, I suppose, to think that books have two kinds of stories in them.

In the end, though, the only one that matters is the one that’s written down, the one printed on the pages.  So no matter where the book came from or what it means about the owner, if you see a good book at a yard sale, go for it.  After all, they’re only a few dollars, and you usually can’t get a better deal.

Happy reading.

Oh, I got these too. Anyone out there read them?

Don’t Pretend You Never Wanted to Do This

To many readers, characters become real people over the course of a series.  Once the reader has laughed, cried, and gasped in terror alongside them for what is sometimes years on end, it can’t help but happen.  We have little fantasies in our heads in which we meet them.  They become good friends to us, people who understand what you’re going through because they went through it too.  They live in us as much as they live in the pages of the books they appear in.

Therefore, I think it’s awesome when fans come together to do something about these characters, to bring them to life in a new, fantastic way.  For instance, when I was younger the Disney Channel would make a different character available by email each week.  The characters would not be from their classic movies as much as their regular shows, but hey- I didn’t care.  I loved it.  It was so exciting to get letters from people I watched on TV.

Nowadays, yes, I realize they were probably pre-written emails and my fangirlish fan mail was sent and never seen again by human eyes.  But that made no difference to my younger self.

Now, one of my friends on Tumblr has found multiple different sites where eager fans of the Harry Potter series are orchestrating question-and-answer sort of sessions, posing as specific characters.  My friend was kind enough to give me the link to one such website.  All of the following photographs are taken from that site.  (I have to warn my more sensitive readers, though: some of the posts on that site are rather inappropriate.  Sorry.  I’ve been careful to re-post only clean ones, though.)

So, without further ado, look under the cut for my favorite responses from the Golden Trio Notes!

Continue reading

On Word Count, and Why It Bothers Me So

Once, during a test, the teacher handed mine back to me and told me that I was infamous for writing as little as possible.*

To which my reaction was:

That is to say, I was shocked.

At the time, I thought she was crazy.  After all, I wrote what needed to be written.  I had all the right points there.  I answered all the bullets.  If I had two sentences for a “paragraph,” so what?  I was on my way to being a BESTSELLING AUTHOR.  I did not need tips on how to “improve” my writing.

Oh, how conceited you were, little girl.

Turns out, my teacher was right.  I do write insanely short pieces.  Part of it is because I write small, but part is because I’ve somehow found a way to pack every single little bit of information into the least amount of sentences possible.  Did you know the average YA novel is AT LEAST (around) 75,000 words?  SEVENTY-FIVE THOUSAND.**

That’s pretty much impossible for someone like me.

Which brings me to the main point of this: as a writer, I need to be able to keep track of how long my book is, and therefore how much more I’ll need to write.  And if I end up with only 30,000 words, I can either sell it as a short story, or most likely I’ll need to suck it up and write some more.  Write some more and write some more until I have something vaguely reminiscent of an actual novel that someone would publish.

That means that either I need to just pack more plot in there (which would get confusing after a while- after all, that’s what sequels are for), or learn to write more in a scene.  Which will be hard.  But, if you think about it, that day in the classroom was probably the best thing that could happen to me.  It was less, “you’re terrible, go fix this,” and more, “you need to expand a bit.”

So that’s what I’ll learn to do.  I will expand.  I will expand if it kills me, and I WILL WRITE MY NOVEL.***

And when I do, the word count will be perfect.  The pacing will be superb.  And I will be laughing at my little girl self as the award nominations roll in.****

 

*Infamous, Teacher Who Shall Remain Nameless (And Is Not Snape)?  Really?  Do all the teachers gather at lunch and talk about my lack of prose?

**According to my favorite blogger author, Maggie Stiefvater.  Her site is in the sidebar, and I got that little nugget of information from this video.

***Sorry about all the footnotes, but this one’s important: Even if I don’t get the word count the first time, I can go back later.  After all, that’s not what really matters in the first draft.  Getting your story out there and all worked out is what counts (teehee, counts, get it?…Oh, never mind).

****Yes, I’m kidding about the nominations part.