Getting Ready for NaNoWriMo

At the beginning of this month, it really hit me hard that NaNoWriMo starts soon. So in the true fashion of NaNoWriMo, (sarcasm, here), I really began stressing over plot and characters. There were a couple different stories floating around in my head, vying for the top spot. The problem was that I didn’t know the entire story yet. Of course, this isn’t a real problem, but with it being my first attempt at NaNoWriMo, I really want to have a plot summary, outline, character sketches, etc. so that I can really improve my chances of actually hitting that goal of 50,000 words and having a few sections of my story that don’t completely suck.

Anyway, one of my ideas is a historical romance, undecided if it will be more in the style of a regency romance or not. The second idea is young adult fantasy. I have to say, the romance seems like it would be easier to write, just because there are limitations and boundaries. It seems like it would be more straight forward to write. And no stressing about made up creatures and their appearance, characteristics, abilities, etc. Even so, initially the YA fantasy drew my attention. I wanted to be able to write something a bit edgy, scenes of which are already coming together in my head. The main problem? The plot. How does this happen? What happened in the past to make things the way they are now? I just haven’t had that great idea yet, or even that idea that seems “good enough” to put into a rough draft. But I’m still working on it.

In an attempt to help me decide which route to go, I put together some very vague plot summaries (and no, I don’t know a lot more information than those vague summaries myself), and let my mom and 2-3 others read them. One of my friends immediately liked the romance idea, as she is not really into reading fantasy. However, everyone else went for the fantasy idea. And so did I, until I started stressing about the plot. Then I thought that I’d go for the romance. And then the fantasy won out again. So, back and forth it goes.

I thought maybe reading a few more YA fantasy novels could give me more ideas, and put me in more of the right mood to think. That’s what I was referring to in a previous post, about “more on YA fantasy later.” I looked through my shelves last night, and didn’t see anything else that I could tackle in the spirit of “research,” so a trip to the library might be on the schedule today. But there are still those things like laundry, scrubbing the bathtub, and vacuuming, all screaming for my attention as well. But as I don’t have to go to work (my “real” job, that is) today, perhaps I can get my imagination and household chores to call a truce.

Just long enough to come up with an amazing plot. Ha.

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French Women Don’t Get Fat

A few years ago, I was channel surfing and ran across an episode of Oprah. Her guest on the show that day was Mireille (pronounced meer-ray) Giuliano, author of French Women Don’t Get Fat: The Secret of Eating for Pleasure. I remember one woman in the audience stood up and told her success story. She had lost some rather large amount of weight, her diet consisting of sensuous meals, full of pleasure, and two to three glasses of wine per day. Anyway, ever since that day, this book was on my mental to-read list, and recently I decided to move it up to first place on that list.

This isn’t a diet book, and it’s not a cookbook. It’s about eating, and living, for pleasure. It’s all about enjoyment and fulfillment, definitely not about sacrifice and deprivation, a way in which so many Americans view dieting, and food in general. In the introduction, Mireille refers to the “French Paradox,” or how to enjoy food (and wine) and stay trim, healthy, and yes, even content. The rest of the book includes so much common sense, yet presented with a charming new twist.

Mireille went to America as a slim French exchange student, and came back fat. At that time, her family doctor, whom she affectionately and gratefully refers to as “Dr. Miracle,” reiterated principles of French gastronomy and reintroduced her to the secrets of local women. Mireille then shares those secrets with her readers in a mixture of anecdotes, personal success stories, and even recipes. Secrets include portion control, and cutting out the offenders, (don’t stock things like candy or don’t take the route to work that leads you next to the bakery).

While not a proponent of going to the gym, (she says the machines look like weapon systems), Mireille does support being active and fit. Walk to work, and pay attention to everything around you. Stop and smell the flowers, and then continue on your walk. You’ll burn calories and take pleasure from life at the same time. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Try keeping your legs straight when drying your toes after bathing. Little things that one can incorporate into everyday life are the secrets of French women.

Even though she holds French women as the example, Mireille is quick to point out that they are not perfect. But when one ends up gaining an extra pound or two, she doesn’t call it quits and throw in the towel. Instead, there is reevaluation and compensation, and probably even the emergency remedy of a weekend of Magical Leek Soup.

There are no real secrets in this book, just traditional wisdom. We can all have a life of wine, bread, and chocolate. Let go of guilt and deprivation and learn to get the most out of what we enjoy in life, without sacrificing our figures.

As You Wish

I recently read about Jackson Pearce, a young new author who has already had two books published. I’m always excited to read books by new authors. Consider it inspiration. Her debut novel, As You Wish, sounded like something I would enjoy, so I promptly contacted Barnes & Noble and ordered a copy.

Viola spends her days wishing to belong. It seems as if everyone else in high school has a place except her, and these feelings have only gotten worse since she and her boyfriend, Lawrence, broke up due to the fact that he is actually gay. Sitting in class, wishing again, she manages to somehow summon a jinn, or genie. She now has three wishes.

Afraid that she will wish for the wrong thing, or something that won’t actually make her happy, Viola contemplates her choices. The jinn, who doesn’t have a name, but whom Viola simply calls “Jinn,” can feel himself aging and is eager to return to Caliban, where he will stop aging and be among other jinn. But, he must remain on Earth until Viola wishes. The two spend time together and the defining lines between master and servant and friend become very blurred. Soon, Jinn knows that he’s falling for Viola.

In an attempt to fit in, Viola attends a party when she’d much rather be doing anything else. She gives voice to her thoughts about “wishing” to belong like some others do, and Jinn has no choice but to grant her what she wants. “As you wish.” 

Viola comes to realize that she is falling in love with Jinn. She knows that two more wishes will send him home permanently, and not even a memory of him will linger, as “masters” forget their jinn after their third wish. Situations arise that force Viola to make her last two wishes, even though she and Jinn have agreed to put them off as long as possible.

I won’t tell anyone how the end goes, but it fits into the theme of “love conquers all.” This book wasn’t too serious, but there were definitely some wonderful moments in there. An unlike the last book I read, this was one that I could not put down. I read all of it in one sitting. And I definitely recommend this one. I think Jackson Pearce has a great future.

The Supernaturalist

I browsed my shelves last week for something to read. Eoin Colfer’s The Supernaturalist won because it looked like a short, quick read, and because I thought it fit into the young adult fantasy/science fiction genre. (More about YA fantasy later…) Oh, and I’ve read most of the Artemis Fowl series in the past and thought they were entertaining reads, so I thought I’d try something else by the same author.

The book is set in the future, in Satellite City, a place full of pollutants and harmful chemicals that is basically run by a giant satellite. Cosmo Hill is an orphan, and he is considered a “no-sponsor,” so he is a ward at the Clarissa Frayne Institute for Parentally Challenged Boys. Here, the no-sponsors are fair game for all sorts of drug and product trials, but ethics are of no concern. Cosmo knows that his only chance of survival is escape. Just such an opportunity presents itself, and he takes the chance.

A group of kids finds Cosmo in a near death situation and they take him in and take care of his injuries. They call themselves the Supernaturalists, because they hunt creatures that steal the life force from humans. They call these blue translucent creatures Parasites. Most people cannot see the creatures, but the Parasites become visible to most people if they have had a near death experience. However, the Supernaturalists are not the only ones interested in these creatures. A member of the Myishi Corporation, a very large and powerful company, is also interested in the Parasites as a possible resource, so the group is forced into a partnership of sorts.

Towards the end of the book, Cosmo and the other Supernaturalists discover that things aren’t as they seem and they must fight for their lives, as well as the lives of some of the innocent.

I’d recommend this book to elementary and middle school kids. I will say that it was not a quick read. It actually took me three or four days, just because it didn’t hold me enthralled. I could only take it in smaller doses. It’s not exactly what I had in mind when I was looking for something to read, but considering the intended audience, it was okay. I’m sure a 12-year-old would have a much better opinion, and that’s probably what matters.