Love-Hate Challenge: Part I

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Just the other day I was thinking how I never really saw blog challenges or chains anymore. Then this morning I find a little challenge treat in my inbox thanks to Paula Acton. Cool! The rules of the Love-Hate Challenge are simple:

  • Make a list of 10 things you love
  • Make a list of 10 things you hate
  • Nominate 10 bloggers

To complete this challenge, I decided to go with a theme – books! Seeing as I just had the time of my life at Powell’s Books this is a fitting answer to the Love-Hate Challenge. However, hate is a word I’d rather not apply to books, so I’m going to switch things up and do a Love List and a Not A Fan List.

10 Books I Love

1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

41DMQB+vWwL._SX317_BO1,204,203,200_I fell in love with this book at first read. A love story rooted in the gothic tradition, a plain governess falls for her mysterious boss. Add to that an unexpected secret hiding in the attic – the first time through I never saw it coming! While I love a good romance with a dark twist, Jane is the star for me. She isn’t the typical mousy woman, but rather a self-assured individual who stands up for herself. I’ve read Jane Eyre so many times and I never get tired of it! Juicy, juicy stuff!

 

2. Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer

41MLd2DZYwL._SX312_BO1,204,203,200_Vampires and Werewolves, oh my! I admit I fell under the spell of Twilight instantly, I read the first book in three sittings. And then I devoured the other three books in the series in under two weeks. Then, I turned into an even nuttier fangirl when the movies came out. What can I say, I was a total sucker for Bella (who I can relate to on so many levels) and the dreamy Edward (who is not as creepy and stalkerish as haters would proclaim). I just recently reread the first two books and was instantly reminded why Twilight is so much fun. It’s all about fantasy and the exhilaration of first love – Meyer captures these two concepts perfectly.

 

3. Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices Series by Cassandra Clare

51LLeAJAgqL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_I found this series in the throes of Twilight withdrawal. I had just finished Breaking Dawn and I needed something to get my mind off the ending of an era. I picked up City of Bones and fell happily into Clare’s incredible world of Shadowhunters and the ultimate fight against evil. Not to mention another really great couple, Clary and Jace. I’ve stuck with the Mortal Instruments through six books (all of which are phenomenal) and three books of the Infernal Devices series (also phenomenal). Clare is one of the best world-builders in YA fantasy and I’m always looking forward to more from her!

 

4. Persuasion by Jane Austen

411KbBtEyuL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Pretty much anything by Jane Austen falls into my love list, but I love Persuasion above all else. The story of Anne and Captain Wentworth melts my heart every time – I fall to pieces every time I read Wentworth’s letter to Anne at the end. Ahhhhhh! This is my ultimate romance novel as it is the epitome of how love always prevails.

 

 

5. Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

51MU5VilKpL._SX338_BO1,204,203,200_Seriously, what is not to love about this series?? My heart wrapped around Harry from the first page of Sorcerer’s Stone to the last page of Deathly Hallows. Never have I become so attached to a character in a book (except for maybe Jane Eyre). Throw in some magic, Dumbledore’s wisdom, and the clash of light and dark forces and you’ve got a tour-de-force of amazing fiction. The best part is, you don’t have to be a kid to love this stuff!

 

6. This is Water / A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again by David Foster Wallace

31iis44pawL._SX340_BO1,204,203,200_Like Austen, pretty much anything David Foster Wallace has written is on my love list. I love his quirky, yet highly intelligent style of writing. His observations make me laugh, consider things I hadn’t before and above all cause me to think deeply about myself and the world around me. He is in a category all by himself and no one can even come close to his genius, (musings of major fan, obviously).

 

7. Everything Matters by Ron Currie, Jr.

41LQyLs4UFL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_There are tear stains on the last few pages of my copy of Everything Matters. I cried in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, but I bawled at Currie, Jr’s heartfelt and gut wrenching novel. Currie plays with the question: If you knew when the world was going to end what would you do? Keep it to yourself? Try to change it? Tell the whole world? Would it change how you lived? Loved?

 

 

8. Q-Squared by Peter David

510s1XRP0sL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_I think I’ve read every Star Trek: The Next Generation novel (and they are so much fun), but this little masterpiece is easily my favorite. Q is a fan favorite from the TV series and Peter David brings him to life in this funny, thrilling, and fantastical tale. And who doesn’t love the banter between Q and Picard!?

 

 

9. Maisie Dobbs Series by Jacqueline Winspear

51LeP0LfWDL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_This series is near and dear to my heart. A close friend, (who recently passed) introduced me to this historical mystery series and I love it. Maisie is a smart, independent woman who survived the battlefront of WWI and several personal tragedies. Instead of giving up, she always picks herself up and pushes forward. While she’s at it she solves murder mysteries with her uncanny ability to read people and pick up minute details. The 11th book came out earlier this year and I plowed right through it. Awesome as always!

 

10. Haiku Anthologies

UnknownMy love of haiku knows no bounds. I’ve paged through traditional haiku anthologies of Basho, Issa, and Busson, while also embracing modern anthologies like Haiku in English: The First 100 Years and The Haiku Anthology. I can’t get enough of this poetic form!

 

 

 

This post is quite long, so I’ll post my Not A Fan list and nominees later this week!

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What books are your love list?

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c.b.w. 2015

The Haiku Debate

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As more and more haikus are scribbled into my journal, it’s entirely clear to me that my interest in the form has turned into nothing less than an obsession. Naturally, I set out to learn as much I could, which means I’ve been doing a lot of reading on the subject of haikus and collections of haikus.

Between backtracking to the classics and getting a sense of the modern aesthetic, my understanding of the form has changed significantly. All my life I’d been taught that haiku is essentially a rigid form: three lines with 17 syllables arranged in a 5-7-5 layout.  Imagine my surprise when I realized that this is almost completely wrong!

It’s true Japanese haiku is poetry consisting of 17 beats (technically not syllables), but that beat count applies to the Japanese language which naturally falls into that rhythm. The idea of a syllable count came about when haiku migrated to the English language and it was seen as a excellent way to teach children how to count syllables.

Even more surprising is that the concept of three lines is quite the myth. Most Japanese haiku is written in a single line, which is usually vertical. Once again, the idea of three lines in the 5-7-5 layout evolved from the translation into English. While a misnomer, the format stuck until English language poets began to experiment and break out of the three line division.

At it’s core, haiku is about capturing a single moment or experience. Nature usually serves as the backdrop, but modern poets are even pushing that traditional boundary, by mixing humanity with natural elements. Modern haiku ignores syllable counts and focuses instead on clean, crisp language that hones in a small detail. The resulting poem is often far less than 17 syllables with no set line count.

Polar opposite visions of haiku naturally lead to a debate. On one side, there’s the 17 syllable, 5-7-5, 3 line format and on the other there’s the modernist approach with few restrictions other than maintaining the essence of haiku. As a poet enthralled with the idea of haiku, I find myself stuck in the middle.

The so-called traditional 5-7-5 layout has been around for a long time.  Even though the connection between this format and the original Japanese haiku is shaky at best, it’s a form that everyone knows. It’s part of the poetic psyche and allows just about anyone to be a poet, (how cool is that?).

On this side of the argument, I feel my childhood holding tight to what I’ve been taught. I like the rigidity of the 5-7-5 layout. The finite quality of it forces me to work within certain parameters and choose my words carefully, but it also pushes my creativity to go to places I never would have considered.

Most modern haiku poets have dismissed the 5-7-5 layout as passé, given it’s disconnect to the traditional Japanese form. They certainly have a point as the whole idea of 17 syllables is an invention rather than a hardcore sentiment of tradition. Hence, there’s no point in counting syllables if they are kept to a minimum.

As for line counts, modern haikus are all over the place. Some poets prefer single lines, while others will employ three. There’s no steadfast rule, so words and/or subject matter dictate how lines are constructed. For modernists, line divisions can have meaning that goes beyond form.

I like the fact that modern haiku is sparse and poignant. Like the “traditional” 5-7-5, the challenge of operating with limited syllable and line counts pushes me to be particular about my words and focus on small details. However, the complete lack of a set syllable and line count creates a sense of uncertainty that can be a little daunting. In many ways, it’s that daunting element that reminds me to keep an open mind and embrace the freedom.

The verdict: There’s something beautiful about both. I find myself dabbling in the rigid form of the 5-7-5 haiku, while also wandering into the new waters of modern haiku. Despite the fact that the majority of modern haiku writers discredit the 5-7-5 form, I believe it still has a place on the poetic stage…

Birch bark peels; white curls
summer breeze, fluttering leaves
silver branches sway

Yet, one the same page I’ll happily write two lines with 4 syllables each …

Wind scattered leaves
life’s broken pieces

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Recommended Reading:

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c.b.w. 2014

“A Life” Faces The Truth

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128618A Life by Guy de Maupassant is the story of a woman who grasps the reality that life is rarely fair. While the premise is nothing new in terms of storytelling, the way in which Maupassant approaches it is revolutionary.

The story begins with a young woman who is full of dreams and bright imaginings of her future. Unfortunately, her innocent fairy tale mentality clouds her perspective. When real life begins to unfold she feels the pain of crumbling fantasies as life deals her a few cruel blows and her choices further entrap her into an existence she never imagined for herself. As she approaches midlife, she becomes jaded and full of self-pity. It’s only when old age sets in that she starts to sift through the memories of life with a new eye. Instead of tragedy, she finds herself remembering only the joys.

The beauty of the novel lies in how Maupassant contrasts different views of life. There is always something influencing the character’s point of view – whether it be the innocence of youth, scorn of adulthood, or impending death, never does she view life in an unbiased mindset. In the process, Maupassant unveils the universal emotions we feel when faced with our own mortality.

One of Maupassant’s strengths is his ability to transform a rather simple story into something beautiful with well-crafted imagery and flowing prose. Lengthy descriptions of nature are used to represent the feelings, emotions, and rites of passage for the main character. Rather than explore these realms the old fashioned way through the mind of the character, he creates magnificent and sometimes haunting images of emotion with landscapes, water, and plantlife. These passages are often long and sometimes drag, but I was swept into them as soon as I viewed them as part of the character and not just insanely long descriptions.

The last line is where Maupassant dazzles with subtlety. Never does he end a story with everything tied up into a neat little package. There is room to wonder what happens next, while saying goodbye to the characters. For a novel that depicts the often unfair attributes of life, he manages to put it all in perspective with a perfectly balanced dose of optimism and pessimism.

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c.b.w. 2014

Literary Lovers

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Valentine’s Day isn’t a holiday I usually pay much attention to, but I do like the idea of celebrating love. Last year, I celebrated by listing my favorite TV and movie couples (see My Favorite Meant To Be Couples), so I thought this Valentine’s Day should be dedicated to my favorite couples from the world of books.

book heart

Image from: ideachampions.com

Seeing as I read a number of different genres, this list is nothing if not eclectic!

1) Edward and Bella from Twilight

I can hear the groans now, but I remain a dedicated fan of this vampire/human couple. I love Edward’s old-fashioned sense of masculinity (without being a chauvinist) and Bella’s ability to challenge Edward. Despite the drama of teenage angst, through it all both are willing sacrifice everything for each other.

2) Christian and Ana from Fifty Shades of Grey

And the groans get louder. The Fifty Shades phenomenon gets a lot of attention for its erotic scenes, but my favorite elements of the book are rooted in the emotional evolution of both characters. Christian is damaged and broken, while Ana is on a journey to find her strength as a woman and individual. Together these two crackle with chemistry, but how they love one another is what sizzles.

3) Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice

I know, I know, this pair has been around forever. They are on everyone’s list, but it’s for a good reason. Their love story is timeless and beautiful. First impressions almost destroyed a perfect pair, but I love the idea that love can triumph over pride or prejudice if given a chance to breathe.

4) Mr. Rochester and Jane Eyre from Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre is my favorite book (ever), so naturally Jane and her love would make it onto my list. Mr. Rochester’s broken soul heals in the hands of an accepting and patient Jane. A plain girl finds her beauty thanks to the challenge of Mr. Rochester’s prickly personality.

5) Constance Chatterly and Oliver Mellors from Lady Chatterly’s Lover

A gruff groundskeeper and refined woman are an unexpected pair, but their need for one another is undeniable. In an interesting comparison, both suffer from inherent isolation and loneliness. While their backgrounds are world’s apart, they understand each other in a way no one else can. Constance and Oliver’s story is truly moving, not to mention very sensual. Fifty Shades could take a few lessons from D.H. Lawrence.

6) Clary and Jace from the The Mortal Instruments Series

They protect the world from demons, yet still find the time for a tender love affair. Clary is a strong-minded girl who doesn’t let anyone push her around, while Jace is a cocky, warm-hearted warrior. She’s got the backbone to stand up to him and he’s only got eyes for her.

7) Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth from Persuasion

With Wentworth for a pen name, it shouldn’t be a surprise that these two are on my list! Anne and Wentworth prove that true love can stand the test of time and separation. He loves her sensibility and compassion and she loves his kind heart whether he’s got money or not. And who doesn’t love a story of two star-crossed lovers defying social convention?

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Who are your favorite literary couples?

Happy Valentine’s Day! May your day be filled with love and joy!

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c.b.w. 2013

I’m A Guest Blogger!

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Today, I am lucky enough to be a guest blogger over on change it up editing. Follow the link below for an in-depth look at my logic and philosophy for writing in first person and present tense for both of my novels. You’ll even get a little peek at the opening lines of Novel #1!

How I Used First Person and Present Tense to Wake Up My Story

While you’re there, take a look around for some great posts about writing and editing!

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c.b.w. 2013