Boys Just Wanna Not Be Lab Rats: The Maze Runner et al.


In the continuing theme of “Oh, shit, I meant to do that by now” I present to you my review of the Maze Runner trilogy. Although I read them in December during winter break, I was wise enough to take down a few notes to refresh what was lovely and what was … not so great about these books. Thar be spoilers below. Continue reading

Author Comes Up For Air From Law School To Say Hello

Well, shit.

I had such plans for the month of January, and here we are in February and, let’s just say, I was moderately distracted by starting my last semester of law school. (The light at the end of the tunnel is the blinding, searing sun known as “The Bar”, but shhhh, let’s ignore that for now.)

The last semester of law school is one of checking things off and completing obligations and a general sort of sloughing off of responsibilities. For instance, I am almost done with my journal duties (cross your fingers for me that the author currently editing her article is making minor, stylistic changes only that will be easy for me to implement). I am in classes that I enjoy, which makes the reading so much easier, especially my Law & Lit class where I get to read fiction for law school (double win!). My time belongs more and more to me as the weeks go by.

But for January these final tasks and obligations have been sucking up all of my time that isn’t spent eating or sleeping. So… the blogging and Tweeting has been less than I would like (apologies). It was going to be great. I had great plans for reviews of Billy Budd and Beloved. I wanted to discuss editing and such, since that is what I need to do on by book.

All of this time suckage has functioned to keep me from working on the book. Also, that part of my brain that is somewhat terrified of editing it is totally colluding with law school, because it thinks it is going to destroy it once I really get started. I feel a little like a person that has never held a baby being handed one for the first time and the running mental commentary is OMG I’M GOING TO DROP IT! WHO THOUGHT THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA, GIVING THIS TO ME! So, I’ve been working on that mental block (tips from my readers on how you’ve handled this issue are always appreciated; drop them in the comments).

But there are things I can do starting now. My passion planner arrived, so I’m going to use this to organize myself. I am going to attempt not hitting snooze and giving myself back that hour of writing everyday before school. And I’m going to accept that this editing process is going to be slow. Slower probably than I would like. And if I don’t make my goal to get a draft to my beta readers before I dive into studying for finals and The Bar, then that is just going to be what happens.

I am bad at being balanced with my time, but I am working at it. Okay, February, let’s get started.

The Writing and the Process: A Review of 2K to 10K

While I was on break, I wanted to spend some of the time that I got back reading a book about writing. I had seen a review of 2K to 10K (probably on Twitter, but honestly, if I haven’t made a note about it somewhere, I cannot be held accountable for remembering. #lawschoolbrain). I thought maybe I should dive into a style or craft book, but I really wanted to get the draft of my book done before the break was over (I did it!), and everything seemed to be moving much slower than I needed it to in order to get it done while also actually participating in the holidays. Even with just one tweak from the book (which I won’t spoil, since it is not mine to spoil), I doubled to triple my per hour word count and was able write even when I wasn’t really feeling it. Not feeling it is sort of death for me, because I have so much to do that excuses are easily found. But before I ramble into some other blog topic about that, join me for a brief argument about why you might want to pick up this book. Continue reading

Wanting More: The Gate to Women’s Country

I recently finished The Gate to Women’s Country by Sherri S. Tepper. I really wanted to like this book a lot. It is about a society where the women and men have created separate but seemingly symbiotic societies. This not just right up my alley; it’s practically the alley I live in. But something was missing. Come, readers. Let’s wind through my thoughts about this book and why, oh why, I was left wanting.

Spoilers abound after the break.

Continue reading

Book Recommendation: Flowers for Algernon

Perhaps one day I’ll read a book published in the last year. Today is not that day. Having just started back to (my last year of) law school, I need to read not-law things, but I want to get lost and hang out in a good story. I don’t want to get a few chapters in and sigh, setting aside the book because this one is just not getting me. Basically, I’m looking for a low risk read. Which makes this a good time to catch up on that pile of recommended books. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes called out to me from my list (plus it was 5 bucks at The Strand).

The Quick and Dirty Plot: A mentally handicapped man becomes part of a scientific experiment that turns him into a genius and just as quickly, but unexpectedly, turns him back.

A lot of friends read this book in high school as part of an English class I apparently did not take, which is how it ended up on my recommendation list (note: most of my friends don’t read these kinds of stories but they know I love them). Aside from the engaging, tragic, beautiful writing, Keyes captures so sharply the experience of wanting to be part of some inner circle and the complications that come if you are ever invited in, because you will never really be one of them. The story is completely told through the eyes of the protagonist (Charlie), and we watch him understand more about the world he wants to be part of, watch him reject it, watch him become a new version of it, and then watch him lose it all, clinging desperately to any piece of it he can. Charlie becomes us and then becomes himself again, and we both want and don’t want that for him.

Things to Note: The book uses the R-word when discussing Charlie and his handicap, but mostly (if not exclusively) as a factual word rather than a purely pejorative one. In addition, the treatment of the female characters is unsurprising for a book penned in the 1960s, but they mostly lack depth and complication and are picked up and used and dropped almost without thought.

If you haven’t read Flowers for Algernon, and the above warnings would not ruin the experience for you, definitely add it to your to-read list (which hopefully doesn’t also involve law school, because no one should wish that on anyone).

Vermillion and Musky: Day 3 of the Story A Day Challenge

Today’s prompt, by Mary Robinette Kowal, was to use the words “vermillion” and “musky” in the next 250 words of writing and to make this piece 640 words. I used this prompt to work through a section of the book I am writing that I had been avoiding, because I was not sure what I wanted to do with it. Now I have something with which to work!

The less traveled route was not so appealing anymore. Her feet blistered and ached. The grass she chewed was not keeping her hunger away. Low insistent rumbles demanded attention and added pain when she did not comply. She had to find food.

Setting a trap for an animal was 1) not something she was good at and 2) never a guarantee. Plus there was the whole cleaning and cooking part. Plants it was. The girl looked around the immediately area. Nothing here screamed, “I will not kill you if you eat me.” Why did she not pay attention on those hikes with her folks? They had been on so many, some knowledge had to have soaked into her stubborn skull.

She bent down to some vermillion berries growing on a vine sewn amongst the roots of the trees. Definitely not ripe, but probably not poison. Probably. The leaves around here were interesting and brilliant green shades, but when had she ever eaten leaf that grew off of a tree or a bush? Probably not a good idea to start now. Her stomach disagreed. Roots would need to be dug up and inspected. She did not have time (or the desire) to do that.

She was getting tired and impatient and really considering those berries. They would taste terrible if they weren’t good. No, they weren’t ripe, so they would taste terrible regardless. She took in a deep breath. A new smell mingled with the dirt and the trees, something musky. She stilled and listened to something padding over dried leaves. Something scratching the trees, maybe something growling.

Her heartbeat jumped and adrenaline shoved aside the concerns of her belly. She needed to be out of the way. Now. Her hands scraped the rough bark as she pulled herself up the nearest climbing tree. Six branches up would make her feel slightly safer. The leaves were thicker there and the boughs seemingly stronger.

The smell grew stronger and the sounds closer. No matter how slow she breathed her heartrate did not want to slow down. Palms sweating, she hooked her legs through some branches to make sure she was anchored. The animal finally came into sight. A buck. Not some predator. But that buck was definitely in rut. Looks like she could remember some things from the hikes.

She hadn’t lost enough of her city smell or her BO was unique in this woods, because the deer tensed and followed her scent from the berries through the leaves and up the tree. The buck saw her, reared back, and rammed its horns against the tree, piercing the bark and raking its hooves against the trunk. The bough shook but held. He did it again and then again. Leaves gave up and fell to the forest floor. She gripped the branch tighter and squeezed her eyes shut. Fear seeped out of her pores. If she was going to be mauled by an animal, at least it should be some badass carnivore. “How did she die?” “Bambi got her.”

The buck felt he had made his point and moved on with a last hind leg kick to her tree. The girl stayed stock still for a hundred breaths before she dared open her eyes. A spider crept across her fingers, and a butterfly fluttered against her ankle, flinching at both and sending them flying. She rubbed her face and looked around, decisions waiting to be made, but she just wanted to stay here, stay still, stay safe. The naiveté of taking this path too obvious now.

With the sun setting, the girl gave up on food. Maybe she could get to sleep before her stomach remembered to be hungry. She ripped a thick strand from her fraying skirt and tied herself securely to the tree. One quick prayer that the knot would hold, before she closed her eyes to fast forward to tomorrow.