Tag Archives: 11/22/63

A Belated Valentines To My Fangirls (and Boys): Book Crush Time!

Book Crush.

I recently discovered the term for this hormone-induced phenomenon thanks to a perfectly-timed article from The Huffington Post. I’ve linked the original post below, but it inspired my own ideas as to what a Book Crush really is. Unlike, the movie or tv show crushes that most fan girls experience, books are delectably intimate and communal. One fangirl can have a personal experience of her book crush without ruining the collective enjoyment of her friends about the very same character. It is one of the most fabulous and devious feelings in the world.
Naturally, I had to make a list of my own. I focused mainly on the fantasy and sci-fi books that have stood out for me and I didn’t separate for gender because sometimes you can’t help who your crush is—male/female, human/non-human, good/evil. Sometimes, a girl just needs to love her books.

Without further ado, I give you my list of Book Crushes because the Huffington Post list seemed to miss some of the most stellar examples in the book world today. P.S. these are in alphabetical order based on the book title or series title and there may be more than one if it’s a series.

11/22/63 by Stephen King- Jake Epping Although most people think of King’s MC’s as twisted or murderous, Jake is the exception to the rule. He is devoted, compassionate, and brave. Literally, the embodiment of chivalry, and he chooses to leave his life behind and change the world by saving one of the best U.S. presidents—JFK. I drooled for half the book at how easily he took care of a woman so damaged by her previous marriage she was afraid of going to sleep next to a man. If one man could heal a woman’s broken heart, it was Jake. Out of all of my book crushes, he’s the one I could easily marry and give children.

A Song of Fire and Ice by George R.R. Martin-Daenerys Targaryen/Tyrion Lannister-Mother of Dragons. Daenerys is by far the most interesting and fluid character in the entire series. That paired with a beautiful actress, who portrays her in the tv show flawlessly makes her a crush worthy character.

Plus—DRAGONS! She birthed dragons from the ashes of her beloved Drogo. So many fangirl love for Daenerys Targaryen called Stormborn, the Unburnt, Mother of Dragons, Khaleesi of the Dothraki, Trueborn Queen of the Andals, Rhoynar, and the First Men, and Lady of the Seven Kingdoms.

My runner up for book crush is Tyrion Lannister, Imp of Westeros. I would skip through most of the books (and have) just to read what happens to the Imp and what trouble he gets himself into. He may appear to be comedic relief in scenes, but I get all squirmy inside when I get to a Tyrion chapter or see Peter Dinklage on screen. I mean he’s one of the few honest and mostly good-hearted characters in the entire series. Look at the way he cares for Sansa. It’s just too bad that Martin doesn’t use two of his best characters more often.

Black Jewel Series by Anne Bishop- Jaenelle(Witch/Dreams Made Flesh)/Lucivar and Daemon-Besides the fact that this series is quickly becoming my most favorite fantasy of all time, Jaenelle or Witch is dreams made flesh for any avid fangirl. Even though she’s an 11-year-old, I became captivated with the presence Jaenelle brought to the page. If there is one person that I love as much as the other characters love—it’s Witch. The only relatable comparison that I can make is Harry Potter with a throne and 500% more power. But in reality, I love Jaenelle more than I’ve ever loved a singular character. She is fierce, dark, innocent, compassionate, animal lover, frustrated child, and one with the land. Gah! I can’t talk enough about her.

The very close runners up are the brother duo—Lucivar and Daemon. Now as bad as it would sound to have crushes on two pleasure slaves, there is a reason for my undying fangirl love. While they are powerful characters and warlord princes in their own right, they have an undying, unwavering love for Witch even before they meet her. No matter how much pain women have put them through, Lucivar and Daemon love Jaenelle with everything they have. How can I say no to that? And they happen to be the most fantastically sexy men in my mind.

Example: Charlie Hunnam as Lucivar (sans wings) and Aidan Turner as Daemon.

Example: Charlie Hunnam as Lucivar (sans wings) and Aidan Turner as Daemon.

Before I die of excitement, go buy Daughter of the Blood and fall in love with them too!

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury-Guy Montag-Although the reader gets very little description about him, he automatically enraptures the reader will his willingness to question what he has “known” all his life and in the end chooses knowledge over living just on what he’s been told. He may not have the brains of a professor, but the heart of the every man lives in Montag, and I would be hard pressed to find a book worm who wouldn’t swoon for a guy willing to leave a society that burns books. Could you resist?

Iron Druid Series by Kevin Hearne-Atticus O’Sullivan-What do you get when you add 2,000+ years of Druid training, mad fighting/magic skills, nerdy quips, and tattoos? The hottest MC on every plane of existence. Atticus (Siodhachan O Suileabhain) is the last Druid alive, and like every fan girl who has discovered him—I am in love. He is witty (partakes in Shakespearian insult battles with vampires), knowledgeable (has the secret to stop aging from ancient Celtic god/has plethora of geeky facts), and sufficiently ripped from all the demons and gods he’s slain to stay alive. Did I mention he taught his dog how to speak telepathically? Or how about his ability to keep a professional relationship, through five books, with his gorgeous apprentice before finally giving the fan girls what they want—BOW CHICKA WOW WOW! I leave you to scour the interwebs to get your Atticus fandom on, but not before I share one of many fabulous quotes:

“Druid log July 15: Dark elves are not only quick and efficient killers, but creative and pyrotechnically inclined ones.”
— Kevin Hearne (Trapped (The Iron Druid Chronicles, #5))

Mortal Instruments Series-Magnus Bane-This crush was a hard decision, but instead of going with Jace (the typical choice) I decided to pick character I crush on regardless of if he likes boys. Magnus Bane! Again I state how can I not love him. He has panache, power, and the knowledge to make him a formidable opponent. Ignoring the actor who was chosen for the movie, I always imagined a type of Adam Lambert/Freddy Mercury look for Magnus, and I gobbled scenes with Magnus (and Alex) like candy. It made the cliched scenes with Clary a little more bearable.

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory MaGuire-Elphaba-One of the greatest stories ever written was The Wizard of Oz, and then came Gregory MaGuire with his dark, sexual prequel that highlights what life in Oz is like before Dorothy comes bumbling along. I, for one, have to admit that although I love Jaenelle, Elphaba will always be my favorite witch. Cursed with green skin, the universe was bound to hand her the worst of life, but every page of this book just makes me adore her. She is the misfit I see in myself—the one that just doesn’t belong. And yet she manages a functioning friendship (several) throughout college before the corruption of society turns her against the world. I get goosebumps just thinking about how even at the end, Elphaba still gains the love of the Prince Charming a.k.a. Fiyero. The misfit can get the guy and the awesome magic power. Fangasm!

The Eyre Affair– Rochester-Let me preface this entry with the fact that I haven’t actually read Jane Eyre (on my list), but this science fiction novel gives me hope that it’s a classic well worth the read. He’s not only the gorgeous male lead in one book, but in TWO! Rochester manages to save the day for the main character, Thursday Next, who would have otherwise let a mass-murderer/lunatic run free through all of literature. He is sweet, gentlemanly, and always conscious of how much he loves Jane. Love, love love!

Weather Warden Series-David-My final, and probably most exotic book crush is a Djinn. Ancient, beautiful, fearsome creature that just happens to be pretty hunky. Did I mention the exceedingly limitless supernatural power with centuries of experience. I honestly don’t know if I have a normal expectation for men after David. He’s protective without crossing too many boundaries for a magical creature. Meaning, he’s not Edward Cullen status, but you don’t mind him being a little clingy, and he lets his main squeeze, Jo, take the reigns when she needs to. I could drone on about how he blossoms as a character over the nine book series, but I will let you find out.
Honorable mentions:
Blood Price by Tanya Huff-Henry Fitzroy-Vampire, graphic novelist, badass!

Faerie Tales by Fiona Skye-David Lo-Chinese version of a gollum only hotter and a great shot. Yes, I’ll have me one of him to take home. Plus he does dishes.

Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling-Draco Malfoy-Because he’s a complex, torn character and Tom Felton is hot.

Hollow Series by Kim Harrison-Kisten Phelps-gorgeous, blonde vampire with a complicated history.

Iron Druid Series-Granuaile-foxy redhead and newly made Druid. She can keep up with a 2,000-year-old Druid and his talking dog. She’s awesome!
All in all, I was throughly pleased with my choices, and the fun time I had writing this up. It’s just a shame I can’t poof all of  my enjoyable memories into your heads, dear readers, so that you could enjoy it with me. So, get reading! Pretty please? I do hate the feeling that you’ve found truly phenomenal characters with no one to share it with.

Who are your book crushes? Do you see any that should be on here? Please share. Happy Reading and Writing!

Also….Kitty picture!

Since it's Thursday, thought I'd throw in a Throwback Thursday photo

Since it’s Thursday, thought I’d throw in a Throwback Thursday photo

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A Halloween Homage to the King

As a belated Halloween post, I thought that paying homage to the Master of Horror, Stephen King, seemed fitting for one of his constant readers. Maybe not consistent in the amount of books I have read over time, but definitely in my dedication to his work.  It was only after reading this wonderful post What Stephen King Isn’t by Joshua Rothman from The New Yorker that I truly realized why I love Stephen King so fiercely.

He is not simply one of the best American horror writers to earn his way onto the shelves and into the Kindles of thousands of people. King is one of the best American authors of our time, and to the dismay of plenty of critics, I am not the only one to think so. Although book sales cannot always tell you the quality of an author’s writing,  how does one deny the 60 awards won over a forty year period and over 350 million books sold? With three bibliography pages on Wikipedia: one for novels and collections, one for his individual short stories, and one for his unpublished works, you can imagine how hard this amazing man has been burning the midnight oil to make his masterpieces.

So someone in the world has felt the good sense to keep publishing him to build a colossal fan base of what? Horror fans? Speculative fiction maybe to generalize? He gets the nick name Master of Horror, but to his constant readers he is so much more than the author of spine-tingling supernatural thrillers that defy the laws of the known universe.

In the recent interview with Parade magazine (which I fervently read through at my parent’s kitchen table), King reiterates my point, “I’ve been typed as a horror writer, and I’ve always said to people, “I don’t care what you call me as long as the checks don’t bounce and the family gets fed.” But I never saw myself that way. I just saw myself as a novelist” (A Rare Interview with Master Storyteller Stephen King). He doesn’t see himself as anything more than man with a story (or hundreds) that he hopes to share with people who will love them as much as he does.

As a “greenie” to the world of Stephen King, I feel in love with his ability to write anything and everything. He has earned the right to at this point in his career, which not many contemporary authors can claim because let’s face it- if  you get one good book that’s mildly popular that is a success. For King, he has made miracles come from the imagination that has inspired dozens of movie and television show adaptations including recent ones like Under the Dome and Haven.

Besides the horror elements that made his initial stories famous, King transcends all genre as you will read in Joshua Rothman’s post. I will let him describe the SK phenomena in his own way, but I will touch upon it in my short review of two of King’s recent books.

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Joyland is a refreshing breath of carnie air, complete with the lingering scent of salty sea air and stale popcorn. King, as if on cue, finds the perfect story to bring the best parts of summer bliss back into our lives. Who doesn’t want teenage romance, a forlorn female ghost, and a crew of lovable amusement park employees that treat the “greenies” or new employees with a little rough and tough love? I do! And after reading Joyland (and other pieces) I could never imagine King as JUST a horror writer. In some ways, it limits readers to view him only as a writer of killer clowns and raging, possessed cars. Joyland has some gruesome scenes, but nothing that screams horror.

Instead, I felt myself pining for the romance he was building slowly with the subtle actions of the characters and unique, direct style of his writing. And let me tell you, I did NOT anticipate or hope for romance in a book with murder, amusement parks, and ghosts, but King made me want it. The main character, Devin Jones, is 21, and like any young adult thinks of love even without trying. King  leaves the characters to do most of the work, and yet his ideas if tried by anyone else would turn out as a hodgepodge of genres that should never belong together.

Joyland is a blast from the past that combines the yearning of a romance, the deduction of a murder mystery, and the subtlety of a supernatural story that will leave any reader laughing or crying by the end. It is a quintessential King novel because it uses the supernatural to elevate the truth of the human psyche. He knows what we want to read, and writes the story we need to hear. Most importantly, King is in the business of selling fun!

I finished Joyland about a week ago, on audiobook, which is well worth the money, the reader is FANTASTIC! Afterwards, I was so inspired that I went back to 11/22/63 that had been out for two years, and I was about 50 pages from the end. It took me two years to read this monster of a book because it was characteristically long for King books, but even more so because I didn’t want to know the end.

King introduces an age old question of what would happen if someone could go back in time and CHANGE history. It’s difficult to understand time travel in a theoretical sense; add a lovable main character with a hero complex and presto you have the makings of a wonderfully adventurous. 11/22/63 is another of King’s recent works that succeeds with a believable love story-of an English teacher from 2011 and a librarian of the 50s. Is there boat loads of gore and supernatural elements? Well, sure. You can’t have time travel without the repercussions, but what is really comes down to is a well-written, well-researched historical novel that uses the best imagination in all of us to answer what would happen if someone went back in time and saved John F. Kennedy.

There’s hope, guilt, history, patriotism, and an overwhelming feeling that just once everyone lives (ten points for any blogger who points out where that phrase is from). In the end, King wraps up the story as though there is no other way it could have ended. The balance of the world is restored, and the reader, who has ridden on this whirlwind of a story, is faced with one honest, human reality. The past has a nasty way of happening no matter what you do to change it. Instead of trying to fix it, sometimes the best way to change the past is to learn why it happened.

In the collective ten hours over the past week that it took to research and write this post, I have fallen more in love with King and his writing than before. I spent all yesterday and today watching videos  of this ordinary man, and found a foul-mouthed, experienced writer that simply loves books.  I won’t try to place him on a pedestal, but the man deserves credit for everything he’s done. Not only that, he has stayed the same humble, book worm that picked up Lord of the Flies and landed in a fictional world that he has never left.

To me, Stephen King is more than a popular author, more than a very successful author. He is the hope that my ideas, my imagination can mean something to someone else if I work hard enough. He transcends genre by combining elements and characters that no one else could make work. He believes in his stories, in the ideas that come to him in the motel, the drive home, or in a dream. Stephen King represents the dreams of every writer to be more than the picture on the book jacket. A man that is willing to read 50 shades of gray and find something positive to say about it, has to be brilliant or a complete psycho. Either way, I suggest if you haven’t given the King a chance–try again. Ask me for suggestions, check out his website and find something that interests you. There are hundreds of stories to choose from, and King does not discriminate genre. He has a little bit of everything for the reader willing to open him/herself to be captivated by this everyday, extraordinary author.

P.S. There is a website that uses a statistical analysis tool to analyze your word choice, writing style and compares it to famous authors. Out of the five chapters I placed in this statistical tool, 3/5 came back as Stephen King. If that isn’t proof of how influential he is not only in my current manuscript, but my writing in general, I don’t know what is.

If you feel compelled to put each chapter of your current WIP, blog post, or journal–the link is below:

http://iwl.me/

I write like
Stephen King

I Write Like. Analyze your writing!

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November 7, 2013 · 12:20 am

Academic Update: The Fears of My First Residency

Isn't this the cutest piece of truth you ever did see?

Well, so far I have tackled the residency, and I am knee deep into the first practicum of the program. All in all, I am having a wonderful time learning about the craft. It’s not that I am unhappy with education I’m getting. Instead, I am frustrated with myself for not being “as smart as I need to be” while writing. I understand and respect the need for criticism. It is the most helpful tool for professors to give to their students.

On the positive note, I have passed the dreaded Integrative Essay, my first fiction submission, and my first critical essay. I should be ecstatic that I didn’t fail, considering there are only three options: fail, pass, pass with distinction. Somehow, I can’t get over the feeling that just passing is not enough. I know, it’s a Master’s program, it’s more difficult by design. I should be proud of my accomplishments, but I’m not. Maybe it’s the perfectionist inside, striving towards the pass with distinction. Maybe I’m afraid that my writing isn’t good enough. It’s a fluke and I managed to squeeze by until now. All of these concerns are racing through my head as I read my mentor’s criticisms.

However, it is making me feel considerable more helpless about my skills. I’m not as confident in my own writing anymore because I feel like I am losing my ability to write well. The one time I am shown how to vary sentence structure, and I become paranoid about it. Are these sentences fragments? Does this comma go here? Should I end this sentence in this? All of these questions are being answered, but not correctly by my own brain. Grammar and sentence structure should not be the criticisms I’m getting. I’m a native English speaker in addition to enjoying the language. So why is this so damn hard to accomplish?

Sometimes I feel like Jack from The Shining-crazy with nothing good to show for it

Then comes the ego, when I begin comparing my flaws with the others in my group. In my mind, I’m convinced they don’t have these problems. They can’t be suffering from the same ailments as I am. When we move up to more difficult mentors, what happens when I can’t provide the pass? Will I settle for pass rather than strive to get that “with distinction” or will my writing actually improve with practice?

With all of these questions, I barely have room in my head for my writing. Hopefully, after spilling the beans on here I will have the courage to try again. I want to work harder, make myself a better writer, and show the world the ideas I have to offer. I’m just praying that these fears are normal. I’m not crazy over critical because other students have suffered like this.

What are your fears about your writing? Do you struggle with imperfection or attempting to improve your writing? How do you cope?

I know that I may be afraid of what I can and can’t write at the moment, but I will force myself to start writing again. I might take a break, read for pleasure ( I still have the rest of Stephen King’s 11/22/63 to finish), and then come back to my writing with new confidence. I just hopes my confidence doesn’t take too long to find its way back.

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The Author Near and Dear to My Bleeding Heart

The inspiration for a writer can come from many places, but a sure fire way to know why a writer writes can come from his or her favorite author. Upon looking at me or some of my writing, you would never guess I am a huge fan of  Stephen King, a master of horror, fantasy, and science fiction. His career has astounded me and given me hope for my career. He spent most of his life writing and doing at least two unrelated jobs to support his family. His short stories were published in magazines until 1973 when his first novel, Carrie, was published. It was then that his writing career became an ongoing one. He would continue to write novels, short stories, and collections for decades.

I first read King in high school. We read his novella Apt Pupil and Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption.  I was immediately drawn to his ability to develop several main characters in extreme detail. From that point on, I vowed it would be my life’s goal to read everything he has written. So far, I have only made a small dent in the huge list of works he has written.

However, the books I have read encourage my own writing and keep my opinion of King positive. From his first, Carrie, to his most recent book, 11/22/63, King continues to surprise and horrify me.

For the haters, he doesn’t invoke shock and disgust lightly. There is a delicate nature that you must place horrifying terrible things. The fact remains that the readers of 2012 are not phased by gore and pain anymore. What would horrify and scare people 40 years ago when King was first publishing is not going to affect the readers of today. It’s sad that video games and action movies have made violence and killing more acceptable, but the horror King artfully places in his books is not appreciated by most of the public.

To me, there will always be a shock to what King writes because humans need to be shocked at what could possibly happen to them. Although his supernatural elements (time travel, magic, demons, ghosts) elevate the story to a different level, the underlying themes to his stories ring true in all of us. Kujo,  fighting for your life against a rabid animal. Under the Dome, minus the mysterious electrified dome, the fear of a town cut off from the rest of the world is a very real possibility. Those elements are what make King’s stories terrifying. They could in one way actually happen and that slice of reality neatly tucked in between vampires  scares the crap out of readers.

That’s what I love about him. He understand the human condition so well that he uses our worst fears or qualities against us. He reminds us that life is not all puppy dogs and rainbows. That bad things happen and only you can change the  outcome of a bad situation. Every story I read of his gives me the drive to create the world like in the Dark Tower series or focus on place as he does with his home state of Maine.

Although King has met criticism by many, he is revered and loved by more for his dedication to the craft. After reading his memoirs On Writing, I told myself I would be just like King. Writing every day until I die. The funny thing about writers is that we need to write to survive, and even in the face of almost death we still find a way to write. In 1999, King was hit by a van and subsequently decided he might retire. It was difficult for him to sit down to write and his energy wasn’t high.

Yet, a few months after finished physical therapy he was writing the memoirs I just previously mentioned. He has continued to grace the shelves virtual and physical with insightful stories of human life. I hope that he has many more ideas left to write because I don’t plan to stop reading him now. He has written over 50 novels under his name and Richard Bachman. He has published almost 10 collection and even some non-fiction.

King has and always will be my inspiration for writing. I will use him as encouragement, for advice, and a guide through the tough world of writing.

Have you read Stephen King? If so, what books? Did you like his stories, why or why not?

A collage of King's amazing works of art. Not my collection, but someone with a lot of money

Below is the list of books I have checked of my very long list:

Misery

Carrie

Black House

Cell

The Dark Half (most of it, had to return it to the library)

Gerald’s Game

Lisey’s Story (about half)

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Apt Pupil

Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption

Under the Dome

11/22/63


 

 

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