More than just Volocio out here…

Opinions on Books

On ‘Song of the Lioness…’

Reading is just as important to writing as the actual act of writing. The goal is to read good writing because you can pick up some bad habits while reading badly written works. I decided to create this segment to talk about books that I have read that inspired me to write my current projects.

Occasionally I will also delve into a movie or tv show that also help inspire me.

So for this first segment I decided to start with the book series that really started it all: the “Song of the Lioness” quartet by Tamora Pierce.

I first read this series when I was twelve and I was absolutely hooked. The story follows Alanna of Trebond as she takes it upon herself to become the first female knight in several centuries in the world of Tortall. The four books in the series allows the reader to watch her grow from a young stubborn child to a grown woman.

I have read the series over and over again since I was twelve and the story does not get old. Pierce writes this coming of age story where our heroine not only accepts herself as a warrior, but as a woman, and a magical being. She learns to accept her faults and her imperfections while working with her strengths and weaknesses. Alanna was a great role model for me as a twelve year old.

But Pierce did not stop there.

After she wrote the “Song of the Lioness,” Pierce dove further into the world of Tortall to write the “Immortals” quartet, then the “Protector of the Small” quartet, and then the “Daughter of the Lioness” books. Each series took place later in the series and Alanna would return in each one even if she was not the main character.

I love those kind of books. It makes the world that much richer for me. I feel like I truly know Alanna because I watched her grow up and I grew up with her.

I wanted to write an opus like that. My Volocio books take place in the same world and the same characters may not play a main role but they are still around even if in spirit.

Pierce is a big reason why my world is so big.

What about you who are also familiar with Pierce’s work? If you like her works, what are your favorite books? If not, I would love to know your thoughts. All opinions are welcome.


On Reading…

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

-Stephen King

I’m alive!!!!!!!!!!!! I have been knee deep in writing and reading.  I have finished book 1!  I felt like I was sprinting to the end of the book.  I don’t even want to look at it for a while so I am working on book 2 which has been a great and fun change of pace.  I plan on working on it for a while and then I will go back to book 1 with fresh eyes.

Anyway, concerning my quote above.  When I haven’t been writing, I’ve been reading.  A lot.  Reading as many books as you can get your hands on is just as important as practicing your writing skills.

“A mind needs books like a sword needs a whetstone.”

Tyrion Lannister

I certainly have been using my whetstone 😛 This last year, I had been taking public transportation through the Windy City in order to get to work.  It’s about 45 minutes each way and I always carry a book with me.  As a result, I have been devouring book after book.  I think that every book helps in your writing.  It’s just as important as writing a blog to practice your style.

Sorry if this post reads a bit disjointed.  I am multitasking.  I wanted to at least reach out to wordpress and let everyone know that I am still alive and kicking.

And now I leave you with a question: what books do you like to read? How does reading help you in your writing?

On Writers not Being Your Bitch…

I found myself reminded of an article the author Neil Gaiman wrote.  I said in a previous post that I love George R. R. Martin’s work but I will have to wait years before the next book comes out.  I know a lot of people are griping about how GRRM livejournal is filled mostly with posts about the New York Giants and not about the upcoming The Winds of Winter.  I would write more but frankly Gaiman is more eloquent and more than covers it:

George R. R. Martin is Not Your Bitch



On Book Snobbery…

One of the most important things to do as a writer is to read.  Stephen King once put that “if you don’t have time to read then you don’t have time to write.”

Too friggin’ true.

Writers emulate authors they like…how? By reading them.  All of them.  The good, the bad and the ugly.

I want to write about the ugly.  The guilty pleasure for lack of a better word.  The stuff we don’t tell our fellow reader friends about…hell, we don’t even tell our non reader friends about.  The fluff piece.  The Twinkie.  The books that contain little to be deemed classics by the snobbiest of book readers but damnit they are entertaining!!!

I was originally going to write a piece solely on such a book (series).  The kind that make my intellectual friends roll their eyes if they knew I not only read them but reread parts.   I will get to which series I am referring to but I wanted to discuss why I felt the need to defend this series.

Reading has become dying past time.  I believe so  I have too many friends that don’t read for pleasure and that makes me sad.  Those that do read I hear the same complaint from them concerning our guilty pleasures.:

“Who would read this drivel?”  followed by an over exaggerated rolling of the eyes.  I honestly think we as readers are starting to get a bit too snobbish with our literature.

Now before you get all huffy and retort, let me make a comparison.  Today we easily forgive movies and TV shows as being both high brow and low.  There is nothing “intellectual” about The Hangover movies but they had me splitting my sides with laughter.  What about The Notebook?  Sure it’s considered a chick flick but it speaks truths!

I digress.

I think readers are quicker to condemn books for not being smart enough when sometimes you want to merely be entertained.  They get angry at the fact that the masses are reading such novels ignoring the more important fact that people are reading! Period.

My cases in point?

Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.

Now I have already written a plenty (14 pages worth) about Edward and Bella in one of my older blogs…found here but what I actually find myself wanting to do is defend Ana and Christian.  I know you’re probably rolling your eyes at me but why? Have you read the books? Chances are no, if you have such a disdainful opinion.  It’s a series people seem to love or hate….I do find myself somewhere in the grey (you see what I did there?)  Often I have friends who would condemn me for reading Fifty Shades all the while they are watching the newest episode of Jersey Shore.  I will admit I have read all the books of the aptly dubbed “soccer mom porn” and I didn’t completely hate it.  I had my problems with it: my own cynicism towards the plot as well as difficulty with the writer’s style.  But guess what? I dislike Tolkien’s writing style and yet I still hold him in reverence.

I know people complain that it’s just an unrealistic woman’s fantasy because they are nothing more than bored housewives.   However, the idea of women obsessing over stories of dangerous men who meet you and fall desperately in love with you, protect you, have crazy sex with you was not the invention of neither Stephanie Meyer nor E. L. James.  We can actually go as far back as medieval times when women fantasized about handsome knights (dangerous men) who fall for the ladies.  The kind of knight who is chivalrous and honorable who will pick a lady from the crowd to win her favor.

The reason why I bring this up because I am a huge HUGE huge fan of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire.  The character Sansa Stark at the beginning is often teased for loving stories involving handsome and courageous (and awesome) knights yet her reality was filled with such the likes as Sandor “The Hound” Clegane and his brother Gregor “The Mountain that Rides” Clegane both violent and with a queer sense of “honor.”  The only two who could come close in the handsome department are Jamie “The Kingslayer” Lannister who shoved her little brother out of a window for catching him porking his sister and Loras Tyrell “Knight of the Flowers” who was more flaming than the Great Chicago Fire.   And the only true knight of honor is the old Barristan Selmy or Barristan the Bold…or as I like to call him Barristan the Badass.

Anyway, my point in this little rant is that the written word should not always have to be profound…nor do you have to be sober to write so.  Stephen King was on coke when he wrote Cujo.  My point is just to enjoy reading and writing regardless of the tale.

The point is telling a story.  Tell that story.  Read that story.  Enjoy it, damnit!