Category Archives: Reading & Books

‘Hunger Gaming’

A few months ago, I heard some buzz about this crazy little trilogy by Suzanne Collins called The Hunger Games.” Friends, who I know don’t read anything other than their Facebook feeds, were reading the books {and raving about them!}. Continue reading

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Currently Reading…

Why: Living with a boyfriend means your library doubles in size in just one day! Among the graphic novels and super hero comics I found this fat little book. I knew the name, knew it was a classic and knew I needed something to read so I picked it up.

Thoughts: I’m reading chapter 4 now so I’m not far-page 70. To be honest, during the first three chapters I had no freaking idea what was going on or why Dostoevsky was writing about certain things. I’m starting to see the beginning of a plot.

Have you read C&P?

Is it a yay or nay, in your opinion?

Character: Casting Shadows

In the previous GWW posts I learned about the what, how and why of fiction. Chapter 2 Character: Casting Shadows by Brandi Reissenweber is about what makes fiction particularly captivating to readers. As Reissenweber learned from a young long-term hospital patient, people read “because they get to meet lots of different people.” Continue reading

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Fiction: The What, How & Why of it…

Chapter one of GWW Writing Fiction: The Practical Guide from New York’s Acclaimed Creative Writing School by Alexander Steele, as the title suggests, examines the what, how and why of fiction.

Fiction |ˈfik sh ən|(noun): literature in the form of prose, esp. short stories and novels, that describes imaginary events and people.

According to Steele, as humans we write stories for two reasons: entertainment and meaning. Entertainment is obvious. But what in the world does he mean when he says, “we seem to have a primal need for fiction, or really any kind of story, that is as deeply rooted as our need for food, shelter and companionship,”? Well, as humans we are curious and we are insecure. We are searching for the who, what, where, when and why in life. As Steele says, this lofty goal is the search for truth.

Think of the classics. Think:

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (1813)

“The Tell-Tale Heart” Edgar Allen Poe (1843)

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (1885)

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)

“The Lady with the Dog” by Anton Chekhob (1899)

What do these all have in common? They satisfy our primal needs. They are both entertaining and have great meaning.

I’ve come upon the first “Your Turn” of the book.

Choose a work of fiction that you cherish. In a single sentence,
try to state the major reason why you love reading this work.
Then list several ways with which you think the author achieved
this effect. The reasons don’t have to employ any fancy terms 
and they don’t have to make sense to anyone but you. You’re simply
trying to tune in to the source of the magic.

I can’t pick my favorite work of fiction. It simply isn’t possible. That is just as impossible as picking my favorite song. I cannot do it. I’ll do this exercise on my most recent read, The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson.

I love reading this book because Lisbeth Salander is so extraordinary, and yet she possessed qualities that resonate with readers.

The author achieved this because 1. He made Salander a loner who was beaten down by society and those she relied on. Who hasn’t felt this way before? 2. She was odd, someone not many people would give a second look to. But she was a capable and extremely moral person hellbent on doing what was right. Who doesn’t want to fight for what is right? 3. Though relatable, she is extreme, an extent  readers would think about going to but probably wouldn’t have the cajones to carry through.

What I am saying is she provoked my curiosity because she was a peculiar character and yet, she was like me. She fights for what she believes in. She is searching for justice and the truth just as I am. Salander was just one aspect of the book though. I think the book was phenomenal because it takes readers to a fantasy that still grasps at reality. Seemingly real people in extraordinary situations, I suppose. Makes you wonder, if I were in those situations would I do what these characters did?

Have you read The Girl Who series by Stieg Larsson?

What did you like and how did Larsson achieve that effect?

This post is part of my creative writing experiment that will get me writing more often and more creatively. All excerpts and “Your Turn” prompts are from the Gotham Writers’ WorkshopWriting Fiction: The Practical Guide From New York’s Acclaimed Creative Writing School. As I write my way through this book, I welcome all constructive criticism, suggestions, advice and comments. 

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& so it begins…

I’ve decided to go ahead with the write-my-way-through-a-creative-writing-book idea.

The book:

Gotham Writers’ Workshop

Writing Fiction: The Practical Guide From New York’s Acclaimed Creative Writing School

Last night, I got re-acquainted with the book {I’ve had it since high school}. I read the “From Gotham Writers’ Workshop Founders” first. I learned that the workshop has turned into a large operation with hundreds of instructors and thousands of students each year.

When I discussed my idea I met some heavy criticism, which I wasn’t expecting. I was told “you can’t teach talent. You can either write or you can’t,” and another said “The only way to write well is to read.”  I was thoroughly  shocked at both of these responses. Yes, you indeed can’t teach raw talent, but you can certainly foster, refine and improve your skills. Then, of course, reading absolutely makes you a stronger writer, however, I’ll have to argue that reading is the only way to be a good writer {calling BS on this one}. Though these responses to my {what I considered brilliant} idea were unexpected, they did make me realize these people were completely unfounded in their criticisms and just wanted to discourage me for some reason or another. Mission incomplete. Discourage me and I will do anything to prove you wrong {I’d like to thank those who didn’t believe in me or my idea. You were a marvelous inspiration and I couldn’t have done it without you}.

To my surprise the book agreed with me:

“Simply put, we believe anyone can write. We believe writing is a craft that can be taught. True, talent cannot be taught, only nurtured, but the craft of writing can be taught. We’re devoted to teaching the craft in a way that is so clear, direct, and applicable that our students begin growing as writers during their very first class.”
 

From “How to Use this Book”:

“You shouldn’t just read your way through this book, but write your way through it as well. After all, you’re reading this book because you want to write….You shouldn’t worry about turning these exercises into brilliant works of fiction. Rather you should simply focus on experimenting and having fun with the task at hand.”

{That I will!}

Now that I am confident my idea/experiment is on key and in harmony with the purpose of the book, I was ready to get started. Not so fast. Before diving into chapter one, I first had to read the short story Cathedral by Raymond Carver. The book references this short story quite often.

Cathedral is a great short story. As it turned out, I liked it a great deal. I won’t go into great detail in case you’re interested in checking it out yourself {recommended}. But, it is about a man who is visited by his wife’s blind friend. He is horribly uncomfortable with the idea and doesn’t know how to go about interacting with someone with a disability. You almost hate the guy from the beginning because he is so ignorant. As the story progresses, his point of view becomes more and more enlightened as he learns about the blind man’s abilities. The shift in the way you feel about the almost ignorant man is incredible. That is what I would like to achieve with my writing.

I’ll jump into chapter one as soon as possible.

Excited to move forward!

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Day Twenty-ish…TV Show

The prompt asked me to write about a TV show I’m currently obsessing over. There is only one show I have anxiously been awaiting for what has been much too long. True Blood.

True Blood is based on of Charlaine Harris‘ Sookie Stackhouse series of books (fun easy reads, I recommend you add them to your summer reading list!). With the creation of synthetic blood, vampires decide it is time to reveal themselves to the world. Unfortunately, their great reveal has not been the smoothest of transitions for some beings, humans, vampires and beyond, particularly in the small town of Bon Temps. Barmaid and telepath, Sookie Stackhouse, however finds the vampires to be a welcomed breath of fresh air. For once she doesn’t have to struggle to ignore the mental chatter she has to work so hard to block out when with her human companions. Able to find peace in the silence, Sookie falls in love with vampire Bill and is lured into the deep world of the supernatural.

The show’s star Anna Paquin plays Sookie to the tee as she is described in the books, at least in my opinion. She’s among great talent all around though. Stephen Moyer plays the conflicted Bill Compton. Sam Trammell as Sam Merlotte is right on as well when looking back to the shows novel origins. My personal favorite is Alexander Skarsgard as Eric Norhman though. He has the bad-boy vampire thing down. Pair that with his abs, his primal vampire lust and danger, you’ll find yourself  in the grasp of quite a bit of tension.

So yes, I am obsessed with a TV show and it is True Blood. I almost hate to admit it. Vampires have never interested me and with the recent explosion over Twilight, I grew to dislike them even more. Thankfully, True Blood isn’t for teeny-boppers. It is very much a show for mature audiences. So if you like just a bit of fantasy, mystery, plenty of suspense and some steamy sex scenes, I definitely recommend True Blood.

Season 4 begins this Sunday, June 26 at 9pm on HBO.

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Day One–This month’s goals

I’ve always had this obsession with trying to be a well-rounded human. My definition of a well-rounded person has, of course, changed and evolved as I have grown into who I am, but mostly it just never stop learning and improving.

That being said, this next month I am taking a break from both jobs that claim me 7 days a week and my graduate night classes. I’m going upstate to Western New York for an entire month, so I have set up a number of things I want to do. I’m really looking forward to take the time to work on me.

1.       Get back in shape. Working and being pretty busy has distracted me from my own well-being. I’m going to focus on eating the right things and working out on a regular basis. I need to get back into the habit of making my health a priority. I’ve stopped cooking and have resorted to take-out because of its convenience. That is going to change. I LOVE to cook. I’m taking all my cook books home with me. My father and I are going to enjoy home cooked meals!!!

2.       Read. Read. Read. There is nothing more frustrating than craving a good book but knowing you don’t have time to read the books assigned for class and the ones you crave. I have a list of books I want to read as long as Santa’s naughty list! I cannot wait!!

3.       Work on my career. I am pretty young for a graduate student. I love school, but it can only do so much in terms of real world experience, networking and social media. I’ve created a Twitter (@SarahRyck) a few weeks ago and I am working on building a PR network. I have met so many nice people who are willing to mentor a newbie. I want to be involved, start conversations, learn about PR and continue to meet wonderful people.

4.       Write. If I had to choose one thing as my passion I would say writing. I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was in first grade. My father used to have to take all the notebooks and pens out of my room when it was time for bed otherwise I would be up all night writing elaborate stories and diary entries.  Lately, I’ve fallen out of the practice of writing every day.

5.       Enjoy my friends and family. Being so far away, I haven’t spent nearly as much time as I’d like catching up with my friends and family back home. I’m really excited to take this opportunity to spend some time with them.

6.       Zen. I’m really interested in learning more about being Zen and Buddhism things like meditation. Being so busy can sometimes mix up my priorities. I’d love to learn to be more aware. Right now, I am completely clueless, but it is something that interests me.

Those are just a few examples. I am going to be busy back at home, just busy in a different way. I’m uber excited!

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True Blood is Back!!

Sundays at 9 p.m.

Well, unless you live under a rock somewhere, I am sure you have heard HBO is coming alive once again with two of the greatest shows on TV today, Entourage and of course, True Blood.

Entourage begins in just 10 days with the season 7 premiere on Sunday, June 27.

And DID YOU SEE THE TRUE BLOOD PREMIERE LAST SUNDAY???

Personally, though not exactly the best episode yet, it was still pretty damn awesome. I am not one to be big into the vampire scene generally, BUT I can’t get enough of Sookie’s virginal good girl gone bad role. Suddenly, this ‘lil blonde girl is commanding her small town’s attention and respect for her neighborhood vamps, saving 2,000 year old vampire sheriffs and, of course, diffusing the Maryanne situation (hypnotic Dionysian temptress/mind-possessing rapist corrupts the townsfolk), all while maintaining an intensely “healthy” relationship with her vampire beau, Bill Compton.

True Blood really has it all…violence, action, betrayal, love, lust…it’s like the greatest soft-core porno with a surprisingly intricate plot. I’m not going to lie though, there was one over the top oddly placed scene in this past Sunday’s episode that really just made me scratch my head…

I really did not see that coming at all nor do I fully understand exactly how it fit into the storyline. It did grab my attention, however it seemed a bit choppy and distracting from the other developing components.  I guess, just one instance where the lusty porno appeal took control.

{Update: I’ve since read the books…& I totally get it now. The blood bond they share makes them lust for one another! Don’t know why I didn’t understand that from the show.}

Date night

Nonetheless, I really love this show. For the first time my boyfriend and I don’t have to compromise on what we are going to watch. It is the ultimate addition to any date night. I definitely suggest you grab someone you’re not particularly shy around and make a memorable time staying in and devoting the night to all that is True Blood. 😉

Little side note–Interestingly enough, True Blood is actually based on The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris, which I was not aware of until I looked more into the show and its creation. If the books are as steamy as the show, I’m going to have to check them out.

Silly fangbangers. V is for Vampires.

 

 

Quotes:

Jason: What am I thinking about right now – like in my brain.

Arleen: Shit I’m pregnant again.

Lafayette: Hey, you forgot your rings.

Arleen: Fuck the rings.

Jason: I’m starting to believe that the truth is poison.

Bill: I’ll take a shower now, unless you care to join me.

Sam: You can have the shirt off my back if you want it.

Bill: I’ll take what I can get.

Sookie: Doing this? For the last six hours?!

Eric: You seemed surprised. Is Bill’s stamina not enough?

Sookie: I’m in no mood for lesbian weirdness tonight Pam.

Andy: Say it with me! Conscious off – dick on and everything’s gonna be alright.

Kidnapper 1: That’s gay.

Kidnapper 2: And playing with your titties in a car full of guys isn’t?

Sookie: I didn’t say yes.

Jessica: You rejected him?

Tara: I don’t know what I expect – trash is as trash does.

Kidnapper: (to Bill) How bout you just call us the fuck you crew.

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