27 February 2013

Power Outage

Our trailer has some funky wiring so now half of our trailer doesn't have power. This half includes the computer, tv, internet, kitchen light, and bathroom light. And sadly it isn't that half of the breakers are faulty. These are all connected to one breaker. My post today is short because I came a few minutes early to work. I hope to have something more, but the electrician who came yesterday doesn't know what is wrong. He gets to crawl around under our trailer today and see if he can figure it out.

At least our well, water heater, and furnace are in working order. It was 2 deg when I scraped my car this morning. (I can't wait until we can finally move. The stories I can tell about living where we do now.)

22 February 2013

The Wheel of Time

by Robert Jordan (Finished by Brandon Sanderson)

I am in the middle of the last THE WHEEL OF TIME book, A MEMORY OF LIGHT. Unlike many fans out there, I have only been reading the series for about 2 ½ years. This is because my family told me that I would probably be better off waiting until the end was in sight. For those of you who don’t know about the WHEEL OF TIME series it is 14 books long (more if you count the companion prequel novels) and each book is over 1,000 pages (or 200,000-300,000 words). I started reading them after the author Robert Jordan passed away. A Utah author, Brandon Sanderson, was chosen to finish them, and it was shortly after this that I decided it was time to begin the journey. Because that is what the books are about taking a journey with all of the characters. When I invest that much time reading or listening to something, I want to feel invested. I want to know what happens to the characters. I laugh. I cry. I yell. I tell Moose my hypothesis and then wait a few books to see if my thoughts were true. It is a journey in every sense of the word. Now on to the meat of the review.

Truthfully I am not going to talk much about plot. I mean with so many books and so much happening, you can always get that information from Wikipedia if you want the condensed version (and no I didn’t skip any of the books and read the wiki like I thought I might). There are things that Jordan does really well, and there are things that drive people crazy, myself included. And there is an obvious shift of writing when Sanderson takes over, which I will discuss in a bit.

The parts that draw me in:
Jordan creates the world. I can see it. I know he knows everything there is to know. The world is its own character and he gives vivid details so as a reader, I knew exactly what he was talking about. Also, I didn’t need the maps, which was good because I listened to the audio books for more than half of them. I found the maps useful at times to try and remember countries exact relation to one another, but they weren’t necessary.

I love the characters. They are unique. They are human. They are varied. It isn’t just one character who is the absolute favorite. Depending on who I talked to, depended on who was their favorite (as a side note, my favorite is Mat.) As the books progress, the characters grow and develop, though they stay true to themselves. It isn’t that the characters become completely new people, but rather we get to see what changes them.

And not least . . . the story is original. I get tired of reading LORD OF THE RING spin-offs. Jordan creates his own creatures, races, and magic system that may borrow from other fantasy tropes, but have their own unique touches. One of the best parts of listening to the audio books was hearing how the two voice actors did the accents of the various characters. I could picture various cultures they were emulating but it didn’t overwhelm what Jordan had done, rather it helped solidify who the people were.

The parts that kick me out:
When I said Jordan creates the world, he does it all, and then tells everything. At times the use of description for every character in the scene was a bit much. Sanderson does a good job of toning this down.

The characters grow and develop, some just don’t develop fast enough for my taste. My husband knows I give nicknames to all of the characters that annoy me. This book had a lot of nicknames because some of the characters have decided that they obviously know what is best and the other characters couldn’t possibly be right. I just wish they grew out of it faster. I got really tired of people (especially the women) who treated the men like idiots. Enough on that point.

And finally, the story is so in depth that it takes more than a dozen books to complete. Yes. You have to read all of the books in order to learn how it is going to end. (At least I hope there is an end. Since I haven’t as of yet finished it I don’t know. But no one better spoil it for me.) There are times when the plot doesn’t move forward, it more of plods. And with so many character viewpoints, at times I grew tired of multiple characters making the same observation regarding the same event.

Should you read the series? If you like epic fantasy, I believe it is worth the investment. A story well told. I also recommend the audio version, though I had a long commute for several years so I could actually get through them in about a month or two.

Should you purchase the series? See if you like it first, than invest the money. I am slowly collecting the books as I see them on sale.

20 February 2013

LTUE 2013 Recap

The good, the bad, the ugly. Okay, there wasn’t anything that was actually ugly but as with anything I attend, there are things that aren’t good.

Thursday. It went well. I enjoyed the panels I attended and got to reconnect with some friends. Some of my favorite panels include on one Lloyd Alexander as well as the differences between large publishing houses, small publishing houses, and self-publishing. In fact it was this panel that gave me the idea to post a story on Wattpad.com. I made it home in time to have a wonderful Valentine’s dinner with Moose. He was really sweet and had made reservations. Since there is only one nice restaurant in town it was really busy, but we were seated right away, much to the chagrin of someone who hadn’t made reservations.

Friday. What a busy day. I was on a panel at 10. It was the first panel I had ever been on. I had two goals. 1. To not talk too much. 2. And to make sure to answer the question. (On Saturday I actually had someone tell me they thought I did really well.) I didn’t agree with everything that was said, and I thought we got a little off topic once or twice, but overall, I was pleased with how I presented myself.

After the panel I hurried to the room where I was presenting the research paper with my Dad. We had an entourage. My brothers set up all of the equipment so I had a few minutes to breath. The presentation went well. We had about 20 people there and judging from their reactions, we did it well. (I had someone later that night say that he had enjoyed it.) Now we are trying to come up with what we should do for next year. I really want to keep this going. Every year will get better because hopefully I will be less nervous.

At noon I had an interview with a new group called Utah Book Scene. I was pretty nervous. The lady who interviewed me was really nice and I think the longer it went on, the more I relaxed. Though I can’t say “anonymity” (or spell it for that matter). I was able to talk about the Crimson Pact stories as well as the novel I have coming out with TM Publishing. I will let you all know when it is available.

The rest of the day I went to a variety of panels, one of which was on reviewing books. I am going to implement the information in my own reviews that I do on Friday. Hopefully it will make them more useful. That night there was the mass book signing. I almost stayed within my budget this year. This was the closest I’ve come yet.

Saturday. This day had one of the all-time best panels, and some of my least favorite. Next Monday, the 25th, the Wheel of Time fan film, FLIGHT FROM SHADOW, will premier. I will post the link to the Youtube video when I get it. I got to see the documentary of the making of it, and it looks amazing. They also had some of the costumes there. I wish I could sew like that. Someday maybe I will.

All-in-all, it was successful, but I am glad to have a little break until April when the League of Utah Writers has its annual Spring Workshop. (If any of you are interested in that, let me know.)

18 February 2013

Game Over

At LTUE I heard an author, Jenni James, suggest that we could not go wrong with utilizing the website of Wattpad.com. This website is for people to post their writings and have people read it, leave comments, share, like, and whatnot. I have finished several novels and many of them have just been taking up disc space. I decided that I would give this a try. So, for the next few weeks, possibly month or two, I will be posting my science fiction novel, GAME OVER, on Wattpad. I have a link in the left hand side of my blog. I hope you enjoy it.

15 February 2013

Brief Hiatus

I am busy with LTUE this weekend. The posts will resume next week when I have a little more breathing room.

13 February 2013

Preparing for LTUE

Yesterday I spent the evening at the Orem Public Library. I had some extra time so was running over the presentation for LTUE. I made lots of corrections. A whole lot. I kept thinking that it was a miracle that I was chosen to present. (My Dad's section is awesome, but mine is questionable.) The more edits I made, the more I wondered if I was going the right thing. But the fact I reminded myself that writing a research paper and preparing a presentation are different. Our paper is written in two sections. My Dad writes the first half and I do the second half. In the presentation we are doing a tag team. I cut apart the paper and tried to rearrange them so that we could play off of each other. By doing this the continuity of my section in particular was chopped. This is the order of my paragraphs

A, B, C, D, M, N, P, G, J, F, K, Q, U, O, H, R, S, E, K, T, V

That may seem really random, but I got it together. I am really happy with how it turned out. Now the trick will be not tripping over my words as I present. We practiced on Sunday, without my edits, and I did okay, staring at the computer screen that had my slides. I just have to remember to breathe.

If any of you are interested. Friday I am presenting on a panel at 10:00 and then I am presenting with my Dad at 11:00.

When I checked my blog this morning to write the place holder text I found spam comments. I've never had spam comments before. Apparently when you have a blog post entitled "House Cleaning" people like to spam you with comments about vacuums. I also got spam comments on my Bento Cookbook. I guess there are keywords that trigger them. Funny that this is the first time it has happened in the couple of years I've been doing this.

08 February 2013

The Just Bento Cookbook

by Makiko Itoh

Moose and I love ethnic foods. I guess I should have realized that by giving Moose ethnic cookbooks that I would be the one doing the ethnic cooking. I mean, I knew I would since I get home from work before Moose does, but it didn't really sink in. Every week Moose plans all the meals, comes up with the shopping list, and does the dishes. All I have to do is the cooking. Not a bad setup, really.

The cookbook I want to review is actually one of the ones I bought myself, and one that I plan from. It is THE JUST BENTO COOKBOOK: Everyday Lunches to Go. For those who don't know, bento is from Japan. It is a lunch packed into a box. It can be sandwiches, sushi, or stir-fry. This cookbook covers it all, including more American style meals. The idea is that they are healthy meals that you can make in fifteen minutes or less, with a little night before prepwork. Makiko Itoh explains how to make everything and all of the techniques. (The other week I make octopus cocktail sausages. Those who have watched anime may know what I am talking about.)

I bought this as a birthday present to myself. I also bought myself a really fancy rice cooker. The advantage is that I can set the timer so the rice is done in the morning when I make my bento. This cookbook is not for everyone, it is highly Japanese and has a different taste pallet. But if you are interested there is a website www.justbento.com that has a lot of the same information. I look forward to the days that I have bentos for lunch, and all of my co-workers are jealous.

06 February 2013

House Cleaning

You may have noticed that I redesigned my website. One of the big things, that some of you may not realize, is the fact that I had two websites. I had eayounker.com and eayounker.blogspot.com. My domain name was hand coded, which I always prided myself in, but I realized I was wasting time doing something that no one cared about. I was updating both sites and it was causing headaches. I like how my website was designed. I was proud of what I had done, but it was starting to look old and be more trouble than it was worth.

This new website is in preparation for some new things happening this year. First off I am going to present at LTUE, which has the possibility of driving up my readership. I wanted something that I don't mind pointing people to. The other reason is that I have a book coming out sometime this year and I wanted something that could apply to my book. EIDOLON deals a lot with trees.

And on that note, I have added a link to a blog you should all check out. It is my Father's blog. He is a economist and his blog is about applying economics and finance to worldbuilding and character development. He has great insights and is an awesome writer.

This last week was a time of reflection. I feel like I have been playing catch-up. Work has been busy, and I have been working extra hours. I realized how much I appreciate people saying thank you. I have tried to make an effort to say thank you more often, especially for things that people do often.

And the last piece of news. We had Stake Conference this weekend. (For those that don't know, Stake Conference is a special Mormon Sunday meeting that involves multiple congregations meeting together for two hours instead of the usual meeting. So Moose and I were sitting in the chapel waiting for the meeting to start when a friend of mine passed over a news article. Apparently 25 years ago someone bombed the church we were currently sitting in. I was so surprised. I mean it's not like we live in a well-known area with a lot of people. I hope never to hear of any church of any denomination ever being bombed. That would be awful.

01 February 2013

The Hobbit

By J. R. R. Tolkien

This last week, Moose and I saw Peter Jackson’s THE HOBBIT: An Unexpected Journey. I had been avoiding it for several reasons. I am one who believes that one book should equal one movie. I kept thinking if he could make THE LORD OF THE RINGS a trilogy, he could make THE HOBBIT one movie. Sitting down in the theater I told myself I was going to keep an open mind. I really wanted to like it. About halfway through I realized it would be doubtful that I would watch the other movies. When the movie ended, Moose and I had a long discussion about why we were disappointed. I will spare you all of the details, but the crux of it was that it is no longer J. R. R. Tolkien’s HOBBIT, but completely Peter Jackson’s. I wanted more Tolkien. I can see why some people like it, but it just wasn’t for me.

This is in fact a book review, not a movie review, so now I am going to talk about why I love the book so much. I heard this book for the first time when I was in third or fourth grade. My mother read it to me, and then in fourth grade, my teacher read it to the class. I have since read it to Moose, as well as re-read it many times over the years. For those that don’t know, THE HOBBIT is a prequel to the LORD OF THE RINGS. There are consistent characters, but the two are actually written differently. Just because you like THE HOBBIT does not mean you will enjoy LOTR.

THE HOBBIT follows Bilbo Baggins on his journey from Hobbiton to the Lonely Mountain. He travels in the company of thirteen dwarves and Gandalf. Bilbo, a hobbit who has spent his time enjoying a life of ease, is now the burglar of the group. As they travel to the Lonely Mountain, Bilbo encounters trolls, goblins, orcs, elves, giant spiders, giant eagles, and Smaug the Dragon. He is often getting into pickles, but always manages to get out of some way or another. As the story progresses we see Bilbo evolve into a burglar, but at the same time, his personality remains constant.

One of my favorite aspects of the book is the lighthearted nature. There are some dark portions but at the same time, it is well balanced by easy banter and humor without being over-the-top or out of place. Next to Bilbo, Balin is my favorite character and he is the only reason why I don’t completely hate THE HOBBIT movie. I thought the actor who played him did it splendidly.