Not related to writing, persay, but related to the world of the internet that most of us find ourselves in. While it specifies women especially, I believe the words there can hold true for anyone.
Monthly Archives: August 2011
In last week’s post on HG Wells‘ classic The War of the World, two commenters really made me stop and think. First was Mymatejoechip, who cautioned against feeling as though I had to read all of the classics. Then there was Joachim Boaz, who suggested that I try reading Wells other “classic” book, The Invisible Man.
Within these two comments, there are two different thoughts on the classics, I feel, and whether an author—or a reader—should feel pressed that he/she should read them.
There are some of the classics that I feel should be read by those wishing to pursue writing as a career, as these were the books that did it first. So, in no particular order, I give you Megan Hammer’s List of Classic Books Authors Should Read (or at least try):
Dracula, by Stoker, is first on this list. It really created the modern horror genre as we think of it today, not to mention that it began the vampire craze that has carried over to this day. It showcases three different writing styles—journalistic, narrative first person and narrative third on occasion—and truly reveals how it’s possible to have one story told from three or four different perspectives. The fact that Dracula is so rarely seen in the latter half makes him even more frightening, and truly puts forth the idea that horror is caused by the unknown, and that we, as readers, don’t need to know everything.
I also believe Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein should be on this list. While not as horrific in the traditional sense as Dracula, it is excellent for seeing the nuances of human behavior through the eyes of what society deems a monster. And how, by naming something, we can often bring about its existence, simply because we see it is there. Frankenstein was also one of the first books in the “modern” world written by a woman, which really helped to, I think, pave the way for the rest of us woman writers out there.
Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne, in fact, anything by Jules Verne, is well worth a read, I think. Each of his books are well written, and explore ideas that were so far-fetched in their days but are brought to a level that makes sense. Travel around the world in eighty days? Impossible in the 1800s to even imagine. Now we can do it in 80 hours. Journey is brilliant for the fact that most of it is fantastical, a rather revolutionary idea at the time of writing, when most books weren’t involving strange creatures and places.
Lord of the Rings might be cliché, but it really did cement the place of Fantasy in the hearts of many, and was one of the first main-stream fantasies to be out there. Yes, it’s long and drawn out, but think of the fact that Tolkien was writing it while in the trenches in order to keep everyone amused and away from the horrors of war. They are well written, and every last loose end is accounted for. In terms of setting creation, there is no better book to come to than Lord of the Rings to watch a master at work.
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller is one I suggest reading if you have time and are willing to read it several times in order to make sense of it. The name has become a catchprase in our modern culture, which really shows its lasting power. I did a 20 page research paper on it back in High School, and even after spending that much time on it, there were things I was still discovering about and laughing at. This book takes the cake for a study in narrative and character creation.
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is a good series, and I think mystery writers especially should read at least one of them in their lifetime. It’s an exercise in clue-gathering, and wondering why you didn’t see that the Maid was actually the victim the entire time you were reading! Most of the books are rather short, and easy to get through in one afternoon or so.
So there is my list of classics I think people should read. What ones are on your list? Are they classics, modern contempories, or that one book you found just last week on the bargain shelf at the bookstore that you fell in love with?
Another Friday, another chapter. Please feel free to give feedback on what you think of it!
CHAPTER FIVE- OF MASQUES AND MARTYRS
When Koios made it make to his home, he found that the sun was near rising. If he had been out even ten minutes more, he never would have made it back in time to reach the safety of his room before passing out. As it was though, he barely managed to tumble into his bed before he lost consciousness when the sun broke over the horizon. His dreams that morning were unlike those that he had been having for the past ten years. He did not dream of Bridgett and of that night. Nor did he dream that he was at the carnival and seeing the freak show again.
In this dream, he was surrounded by light and warmth and clouds. He had an idea of what he was dreaming of, naturally. When he saw a pair of golden gates in the distance though, he knew for sure that his dreams had taken him to Heaven. Almost under their own violation, he felt himself begin to walk towards the gates, where there was a figure waiting for him. It ended up being Anahita.
“Hello, angel,” he told her.
“Hello vampire,” came her reply.
“Might I come in?”
“Here? No. But I can come out to you.” And she proceeded to do just that. There was peace in Koios for a moment as he watched her come towards him. However, as soon as Anahita had walked past the gates, the scene transformed and the two of them were in the alleyway that the killings had occurred in. Anahita transformed to Diu before his eyes and leered at him. He seemed to be taller than Koios remembered him being and was defiantly darker looking. Clouds rolled over the full moon above them as Diu looked down at him. With a snarl, he turned away, disappearing in the night as he became one with it.
“Where are you going?” Koios called after him.
“To hunt. To kill. To turn.” The reply seemed to come from the dark that was threatening to close in on him. Just as the darkness reached his body and was beginning to enter into him, the scene shifted again and he was standing in the graveyard that he had talked with Anahita in. He walked through it, not really thinking of anything. At one point, he passed by a highly polished tombstone and caught sight of something that troubled him to no end: his reflection.
There was the hint of the creature that the strong man in the carnival had possessed completely. It was closer to being a true part of him, unlike the demon that he had seen in Emaline. He bit his lip and turned away; this was not something that he wanted to see. No matter where he turned though, he found himself looking at his visage in the tombstones again. As he moved onward though, eyes straight ahead, he found that the images he saw from the corner of his eye were changing. No longer did they show a man and a demon melded together. Instead, they showed what looked like a human body that was rotting away before him. Koios stopped before one of them to looked closer at it and felt his body seize up. It was his body.
He awoke with a start as the sun went down. He had forgotten that he had no need of breath and was currently breathing heavily like he had done when human after a nightmare. At least the nightmare had been helpful, he found himself thinking with a wry smile. He had been banned from entering Heaven and Anahita had disappeared to be replaced with Diu. It was obvious what was being told to him: there was no way he could be with an angel, even if she did look like Brigett. Diu was his creator and it was Diu who he would stay with.
It was time to tell Diu what was happening to him.
Koios rose late that night, long after the other members of the court had departed for their hunts. He felt that Diu was still at home though, which helped him to finally come out of his room. “Diu?” he called out softly. He knew that the older vampire would be able to hear his voice with no problem. It was all down to whether or not he cared to answer Koios that night.
“Yes?” The response came almost instantly as Diu seemed to appear out of the shadows that were behind Koios. “What’s wrong?”
“I have something to tell you.”
There was silence after Koios had finished his story of what had happened to him in the past few nights. “An angel, you say?” Diu finally asked him. There was a nod from the younger vampire. Diu sighed, looking more human than he ever had in the past. He rose from his place on the couch and began to pace back and forth as he talked. “I have not needed to deal with things such as this in the past. You are a strange one, Koios. You are sure that you have not imagined this entire thing?”
“Yes. It’s hard to say how I know, but I just…”
“You know. I understand perfectly. It’s how I knew that you were going to be in the alley ten years ago.” There was a pause. “No, eleven years ago tonight. Damn, has it really been that long…” There was silence once again as Diu stopped to think. He shook his head after a moment and resumed pacing. “I think that perhaps the best thing to do is to bring you out on a hunt with me. Reclaim your title as a creature of the night and forget about this angel. Heaven is a place of purity, yes? If you are covered in blood once again, the blood that you need to survive, then this angel should leave you be.”
“A hunt? With you?”
Diu smiled at him. “Why not. The night is still young enough.”
Koios nodded and stood. “Let’s go hunt then.” He didn’t bother to voice his next thought, of how perhaps hunting with his sire would finally let him be rid of this love that was holding him to earth, allowing him to decay, after all these years without it.
The two vampires left the building with hardly any noise. The moon was almost dark, but the sliver that was left was more than enough for them to see by where the street lights had gone out or where there weren’t any. Their search for the perfect prey that night hardly took any time at all. Not even five minutes after they left did Diu hold out his hand and point to a couple. “It’s time you learn how to make your own childe, Koios.”
“That’s your job. This is your Court.”
“You’re strong enough now to form a Court of your own.” Diu looked around and then smiled. “I’ll provide the distraction to get them parted from one another. Who do you want?”
“The girl,” Koios said at once.
The elder vampire nodded and then was gone in a flutter of wings and duster. Koios stood and watched from his place in the shadow of the building he was next to for the right moment to come and strike. He glanced up a moment as he waited and saw the stars above once again. Was Anahita up there watching him now? No, best not to dwell on such ideas. With a start, he came back to himself and focused on the hunt once more.
Seemingly out of nowhere, a street person appeared before the couple. A human would not have been able to hear the words that were being exchanged, and Koios barely could. There were some words and sentences here and there that stuck him, though he couldn’t place his finger on it. It was only when he saw the street person pull a gun and the man shout out “Run!” that Koios froze.
This was how his own death would have played out had he been an observer in it.
“Are you planning on going after her at any point in the future?” asked a voice from behind him. Koios spun around, seeing Diu standing there. “She’s getting away.”
“What the hell did you do.”
“A thrall on a person that dead inside isn’t that hard to pull off. I simply suggested to him that he might go and see if those two had any money on them.”
“You bastard. They’re both going to end up dead.”
“I didn’t hear you complaining before,” Diu spat at him.
“That was before I knew that you were the one responsible for killing me and Brigett.” Koios’ eyes were ice cold as the bore into Diu’s.
“Ah yes. Your precious Brigett. You know Koios, most vampires give up on their human lives and forget about them after a year. Those that don’t are considered weak and are taken to Greet the Mane. I kept you safe from the Elders of the vampires because you amused me. It was interesting to see how long a vampire could hold onto his humanity. Your times of amusement have come to an end, however.” Diu reached into the pocket of his duster and pulled out a piece of carved wood. It was ornate, the end whittled to look like a fang and the handle of it carved with different pictures that, on a closer look, showed human bodies twined around the vampires, either dead in their arms or just about dead. “It’s time for you to meet with death one last time. And I will not save you this time.”
Diu brought up the stake and started it on its downward descent in lightening fast speed. Koios somehow responded with speed that was near equal to Diu’s and dodged out of the way. The stake still came into contact with his body, but it was no where near his heart and was more of a graze that anything. Blood oozed out of the wound a bit, slow as the pressure was nowhere near what it would have been had he fed that night. “I would not ask you to,” he told his sire. Before the stake could come up and threaten his life again, he took off down the streets.
With a bit of the energy he had swimming around in him, he formed wings and rapidly took to air, flying until he was back near the cemetery that he had meet Anahita at last night. Landing, he fell to earth, energy depleted. He could barely walk, let alone attempt to go feed.
“Bridgett,” he called out. “Anahita, whoever you are…I need you. I believe you.”
He passed out soon afterwards, not knowing if his plea for help had been heard nor if he would be Greeting the Mane in a few hours time.
TRIVIA: It was this chapter here that I realized I had a rather awesome villain in Diu, and I really began to enjoy writing his scenes. Diu nearly killing Koios here was not something I had originally planned for, but the more I read it, the more it fits and drives the story in a way the original scene I had planned never would.
I have something to admit to all of you. I write Fanfic. I got into the world of Fanfic back when I was 16, and used it as a testing ground for my writing. Yes, what I wrote is still out there, no, I’m not going to post a link here. If you are really interested in reading it, send me an email J
But talking about fanfic brings me to a realization. Fanfic seems to have gotten a bad reputation when compared to the “original work authors” out there. With so many different ideas on what Fanfic is good or bad for, I thought I would open it up to discussion.
My thought on the subject is that fanfic is a great way to get your feet wet in the writing world. The world is already created, and the characters are ones that you know well, so you don’t need to worry about creating a Mary Sue. As a fanficcer, it’s possible to get almost instant feedback from readers in the form of reviews, and forces you to get better as a writer. It gives an opportunity to try out different styles, and to really connect with the audience of readers as well, thanking them “in person” at the beginning or end of each new chapter that is written.
There are some fanfic authors who are treated as Rockstars in the fic world. They have review counts that, were it an original work, would put them on the top of the Best Seller List at your local bookstore for the next six months. They gain fan following, and really work to keep in contact with their readers, answering reviews and questions on top of their other writing and life. It’s often only a matter of time before such wonderful authors take the lessons they have learned from fic, and the support from the writing community and use it as the needed push to begin writing their own original work.
I know that some authors hate it and don’t wish to allow fiction based on their works. Author A sees their book or story as their property and don’t want to see other people playing around in it. I can understand that. Author B, on the other hand, allows it, knows it exists, but refuses to read it, simply so they can say all of their ideas in their stories are original.
Author C, a beginning author, looks down on the Fanficcers as someone who doesn’t have the talent to make it on their own and relies on the creation of someone else in order to be creative.
And then there’s the Fanficcer, who doesn’t really give a whit what the other author thinks just as long as they are able to have fun writing.
I think the Fanficcer has the right idea of the writing, and it should serve as a reminder to the rest of us why we are really writing: because if we didn’t, we’d go insane.
I will say this though. I will consider myself having made it as a writer when I can go to Fanfiction.net and see fics based on my work.
What are your thoughts on fanfiction?
I realized the other day, that I could not truly call myself a Sci-Fi fan nor writer for one very specific reason: I had never read The War of the Worlds by HG Wells, a staple of the Sci-Fi community. Thankfully, I was able to solve this quickly, as I had found the book for twenty five cents at a rummage sale.
Considering it to have originally be written over one hundred years ago in 1898, I will admit that I expected to be bored. And, to be fair, some parts of the book did seem to be long and drawn out. The first two chapters especially suffered from an information dump in the exposition, and really had me dragging my feet in order to finish the book. However, once the Martians landed, the pace did indeed pick up and I rapidly read through the book in the course of an afternoon outside.
It is written in a journalistic style, which really lends itself to the credibility of the tale. I can understand now why people thought Mars truly was attacking during the Audio Drama of it in 1938. My only complaint is that the first part of the book–The Coming of the Martians–also told the story of his brother and two women who were trying to escape the attacks by fleeing off the coast of England. How would the narrator ever learn of this, especially since the ending of this section made it seem as though his brother died, never to be heard from again. This question, on if the brother is alive or not, is a sticking point with me even after finishing the book a few weeks ago.
While unremarkable in this day and age, it was completely revolutionary in its time, especially due to the fact that it included space travel, evolution, the threat of bacteria, as well as blood transfusions as a form of survival. These ideas might seem commonplace now, but in 1898, the thought of leaving Earth was something that was only dreamed about.
This book is said to have inspired Robert H. Goddard to his career choice of inventing rockets, rockets that eventually brought the Apollo project to the moon. Far-reaching results indeed.
Numerous audio dramas, film adaptations, and even a few comic books shows have come from this book that, in 1898 was said to be too brutal for the average reader.
While not the best book out there, it is one that I feel should be on every person’s reading list as a Book that Shaped Our World.
Five out of five stars for the lasting impression it has left, though only four out of five for the actual book itself.
Find it here
This marks my first attempt at satire, a writing form that I think should be more considered an art for the complexities involved with it. Please let me know what you think.
I didn’t know how it happened. Well, that’s not true, really. I know exactly how it happened. I wasn’t expecting it to happen though, you know? It’s one of those things you hear about in your senior year health class in high school, the horror stories about teens and unprotected sex. How they turn into failures. Which is why, obviously, not doing it is the right answer. Never mind teaching about how to be protected. That’s not as important. Which is probably why teen pregnancy rates are going up, now that I think about it. I mean, all we’re taught is the parts and not to do a damn thing. So when a guy brings out a condom and asks if you know how to use the thing, you shake your head, he says fine, tosses it to the side and off you go.
Not that it happened to me. I’m just saying that’s how it could’ve been. Luckily, my first (and now, only) time was with someone who knew what they were doing in terms of birth control. And I was on the Pill thanks to the migraines I had been having for the past two years. So, utilizing two forms of birth control should’ve made us safe, right?
I know we thought so.
Needless to say, something went wrong. The odds caught up with that whole one out of a thousand or so people. And it caught up with me.
So here I was, alone. Not having a period for the first time since I started back in high school. Unable to tell my parents, because I’d be screwed beyond belief. And not in the pleasant way that had started all this. No, this would be along the lines of being tossed out on my ear, or being banned from seeing, talking or otherwise acknowledging that my boyfriend of almost a year now ever existed.
I need to say this flat out here a moment. It wasn’t as if I just jumped into bed with him. We were going out for eleven months first, and I overheard him talking about getting a ring. Yes, that kind of ring. Not to mention the fact that before we did a damn thing, we made sure we talked about what was going to happen if the unthinkable happened. You know, the whole kit and caboodle about abortions, where we stood on them, family troubles that would come from it, adoption, marriage…the list went on and on. So, yeah. No bone jumping at first. We were responsible. See above with the whole using two kinds of protection when all you really need is one.
Anyway. Like I said, if I told my parents, there would be hell to pay. And I couldn’t tell Brogan (he would be the aforementioned boyfriend) as he was out of the country for a good week still. So, yeah. Alone in this.
So I did some research. Googled birth control and found out that I can still skip sometimes, especially when you haven’t been on it long. Well, two months ain’t that long, so I figure that’s what happened. So I wait. Wednesday comes and goes, and still no blood. It’s about now that I’m really starting to freak out. I call up one of my friends. He lives in Arizona. I’ve met him exactly once when I told him I was traveling to Phoenix for a school trip and if he showed up at this time on this day, we could actually meet outside of the internet. I know the horror stories there too, but I trusted him. Same way as I trusted everyone else that I had met on the site. They were closer to me that I was to my own family. Hell, I decided to adopt this guy as my older brother after we met, so yeah, he was pretty much family to me at this point.
So we talked, and I freaked out to him and he kept telling me to calm down, that it wasn’t the end of the world, ‘cause after all, did I really know for sure? Or was I just stressed out as that might be causing it as well. I told him that it might as well have been the end of the world, being late as I was, but yeah, maybe was just over reacting and I would go get a test the next day to be sure.
In retrospect, they really really need to make a new kind of test for those that don’t actually want to be carrying some sort of child inside of them. It gave me a happy face and I wanted to throw it across the room. There was no reason to be happy about it! Stupid stick didn’t know the amount of pain it had just decided to cause me by giving me a grin. I want ones made that have a frown on them if positive, maybe right next to the condoms. At least then when your mom finds the damn thing even though you think you bury it in the trash in the OUTSIDE can deep enough, you can go “nope, I’m not pregnant!” Plausible deniability folks, look into it.
There’s screaming, yelling, and by this point, Brogan is calling me on my cell. Of course, that has been taken away because I am clearly ‘irresponsible for allowing this to happen’ (if I had “allowed” it to happen, don’t you think I would be happier about it? Maybe I just wasn’t stubborn enough about it to make me NOT hefty for the next 9 months), so when family answered it, he got dragged into the whole mess too.
We both get dragged to confession the next day, though I didn’t really see the point. Wasn’t like saying “I had sex!” would change anything. At this point, most of the neighborhood knew just by looking at me, so it wasn’t like some grand secret. I always found it ironic that a religion that promoted abstinence and purity was founded on the belief that even virginity couldn’t stop pregnancy. Of course, when I pointed this out to those involved, Brogan only laughed. Everyone else was not amused.
And that all brings me to my current situation, when I have ‘time alone to think about my choices’. Because in the end, it’s all up to me. I know full well what my family expects me to do—go to college, get a degree, break up with Brogan and never talk to him again, maybe not completely in that order. Brogan says to do what I want and think is right. Because he’s helpful like that. Many says I just want to shake him until that version of helpfulness actually becomes something like “I would like blah”.
Everyone always expects the end of the world to come with something big, like stars falling from the sky, or oceans boiling and killing all the fish in them so that the world starves to death. That or Jesus riding a giant glowing horse, smiting people with his sword. Or is that Michael who does that? Whatever.
What they don’t expect is for it to end quietly, for just one person (maybe two or three, if I’m completely honest with myself).
I just really bloody wish that school had done more than gone “don’t do it, it’s bad” and had focused more on the “if it does happen, here’s for help”. They might have thought that more would have gone out and just jumped on the first person of the opposite sex—or same sex, no judging—if they hadn’t gone the fear route, but hey, far less useful than anything else they could have taught. Except maybe the parts of the reproduction system.
Unless I wanted to be a doctor, why the HELL would I need to ever know where the prostate was?!