October 11, 2008

Fantastic Fantasy: Eragon

Eragon



by Christopher Paolini



Important Links:

Amazon.com: Eragon

Official Inheritance Site: Alagaesia.com

Recommended Age: 15+ (due to violence and gore)

Not a typical dragon story. Eragon, a farm boy, finds a brilliant blue stone, which is actually a dragon egg. When she hatches, Eragon discovers his connection with her runs deeper than the silvery marking that appears on the palm of his hand when he first touches her. Their telepathic communication helps nuture a life-long bond of friendship, love, and a mutual goal: taking down the evil ruler of Alagaesia, King Galbatorix.


What begins as a quest for revenge, carries Eragon and the town's mysterious story-teller, Brom, into a centuries-old struggle for the freedom of the people of Alagaesia. Eragon must choose. Will he fulfill Brom's wishes and become the first Dragon Rider in centuries to lead the rebel group, the Varden, or will he join the king who had put an end to the peace-keeping Riders of old? And who were Eragon's parents? Why was he left to be raised by an uncle and aunt? Will Eragon avenge his uncle's death by the strange creatures known as the Ra'zac? These questions and more plague Eragon as he trains to become a legendary Rider.


The first book in a series of four, Eragon, begins us on a quest of unkown origins and an even more mysterious endings. Along the way, Eragon will meet elves, dwarves, and creatures abound in a magical tale of epic proportions.

October 9, 2008

Fantastic Fantasy: Brisingr

Well - it's been a really long time since I posted my first book review, but now it's time for my second. I'd love to promise that these would be regularly posted, but that's just not realistic. The truth is that when I have the time, I'll review the book. As always, if you're interested, check out my Shelfari shelf either on the sidebar or through the link. So - here's review #2:


Brisingr


by Christopher Paolini




Important Links:

Amazon: Brisingr

Official Inheritance Site:
Alagaesia.com

Recommended Age: 15+ (due to violence and gore)


In book 3 of the Inheritance cycle of 4 books, Eragon and Saphira face more challenges and trials in their quest to take down the evil King Galbatorix. Full of action and new revelations, this book easily lived up to the previous two.


Around half-way through though, there is a section that just didn't quite do it for me. Roran, Eragon's cousin, is repeatedly in battle, which gets a bit monotonous. You can really only read about blood spattering and soldiers' guilt so many times. Also, Eragon must witness a clanmeet of dwarves in a very long drawn-out process to pick a new dwarf king. Unfortunately, Paolini chose to spend a bit too much time showing us just how long and boring this process was.


After this lull though, revelations come to light as Eragon's life is altered in new ways and his mission to kill the evil king seems more attainable than ever. The exciting conclusion makes up for the slow spot in the middle, and the whole book ends with you clambering for more.



October 7, 2008

Motiv8 Fantasy Fiction Tour

Well - it's tour time again and many of our favorite authors have finally made it over to the West Coast. Yes!


The Motiv8 Fantasy Fiction Tour is currently in progress and making a huge difference in the lives of Fantasy fans. It's running through October 11th, so you may still have time to catch them in a city near you.

I was blessed enough to be able to catch the tour in Portland, OR, (which is right across the river from where I live in Vancouver, WA) on Sunday, October 5th. It was raining and the spot the authors had to set up at, was an open-air gazebo in the midst of an outdoor mall. The roof of the gazebo was, thankfully, covered and rain-proof, however, it did make for an inconvenient place to gather. We, who call ourselves fans and Northwesterners though, didn't let that stop us from enjoying the authors we know and love, and even a few authors we hadn't known of until that day.

My husband, daughter, and I had a great time talking with Christopher Hopper, who is, well - there's no other way of putting it, a really cool guy. And Wayne Thomas Batson was even able to make a few minutes for us in the midst of a frenzy of teenage fans. We also had a nice chat with Eric Reinhold.

All in all, it was an awesome experience. I was inspired to keep writing, and my ten-year-old was inspired to keep reading. She actually said, "Mommy, you'll get to do that someday." I smiled and thanked God for giving me such a supportive family.

All eight of the authors will be touring for another four days. To see highlights of the tour and find out what's really been going on, check out the Motiv8 Fantasy Fiction Tour website as well as the authors' sites. Here's a quick list of links for you: Christopher Hopper, Wayne Thomas Batson, Eric Reinhold, Bryan Davis, Sharon Hinck, Donita K. Paul, Jonathan Rogers, and L.B. Graham.

August 5, 2008

Writing

Well - I've finally done it. Construction is well underway for my first book. I don't yet have a title, but I have lots of notes, note cards, and a completed first two chapters. Yay!

I'm learning so much as I write. I'm using notes, but only to a degree. I'm wide open to let the story take me where it will. For a while, I was stuck on the notion of having to have the whole book planned or mostly planned out in my head, but now am only planning major plot points and I don't even have most of those yet. However, writing is taking place and characters have been born, and the whole thing is really coming together.

Right now, the thing I'm trying to keep in mind is pacing. I don't want to get too caught up in description, or too worried about speeding the plot along. I'm finding that a balance between the two is a little easier than I originally thought.

It feels amazing to actually sit down and type out scenes that I've only outlined and watch them take shape. It's so cool to see a few scribbles on note cards turn into real scenes with action and dialogue. I've decided that even if I don't end up seeking publication for this first book, I'll keep on writing and value this first one as the best learning experience I've had in writing.

I've heard other authors say how important it is to write daily, and I'm finding that even on days when I don't feel inspired or think maybe nothing will come of it - that it's worth it to try. I finally decided that even if I scrap all I've written in a day (which I have yet to do), it's still so rewarding just to get something written.

My internal battle with the editor-me vs. the writer-me is actually working out quite well. I will do my best to get something out first - anything. Then I let myself obsessively edit and rewrite. The end product is a pretty smooth rough draft. I'm totally satisfied with that.

I've found too, that writing is very good for me. I can feel myself learning and changing and growing as a writer and a person. In spite of my health problems, I have a definite purpose. I only pray that God will guide me and use me as His instrument of grace. I want to tell stories that glorify Him, however directly or indirectly that may be. It's all in God's hands and I'm so excited about that.

Until next time...

May 5, 2008

Seasons

Since my last post, not only has the season changed, but many other life events have shaped the course of my days.

My health - ugh...

I'd love to have a good report, but don't. So - I'll at least keep this part short. Migraines now daily? Yes. Asthma as bad as ever? Yes, and now there may be a possible genetic link to cystic fibrosis and my grandmother and possibly myself as carriers.

Homeschooling...

Fine, yet we've fallen a little behind where I'd imagined we'd be at this time of year. We'll be working into the summer partially. Standardized testing will probably be held in July, or whenever we get around to it.

Family...

Great actually! My parents moved up here, somewhat temporarily, in February. They've got their own room at our house and share the upstairs bathroom with my brother, but that's just like old times for them. :)

My mom has been a huge help. She drives when my meds keep me from being able to. She drags me out of the house to the library with her and Kailee, even when I refuse at first. She cooks and keeps us all well fed and spoiled with her excellent fare. She picks up where I leave off and doesn't, even for a second, let me feel like less of a person, even when it would be easy to do. God sent my parents to me during a time that I needed them far more than I knew.

Work...

Jeff's been a busy guy lately. When he's not a his regular job, he's on a side job doing a remodel. When he's not doing side work, he's busy as can be around the house with all kinds of home improvement projects. This weekend he refurbished our ugly white ceiling fan, turning it into a thing of beauty. The metal is a gorgeous pitted brown and the blades are now a textured deep brown. He took $20 and turned the $30 fan into a $200 fan. He amazes me sometimes - well - all the time. His gifts are so useful.

Writing...

Well -I'm getting itchy again. I think that after our end of April snowfall, followed by early May high temps has finally flipped my creativity switch. Winter in the Northwest is a bit tough for most of us. All of us imports have to adjust to the grey and rainy weather for a solid three months, so it gets easy to procrastinate. However, as soon as the sun is shining, I'm in the zone all over again. It's like our own little human hibernation. I'm definitely feeling awake now though.

Other news...

We just celebrated Kailee's 10th birthday. Last weekend (end of April), Jeff and I went shopping at IKEA for a new bed for her. We'd decided to do a whole room makeover for her, and ended up doing an Extreme Makeover - Kailee Edition. :)

She was at Jeff's parents' house for the weekend and we'd been shopping and decided to keep her at her grandparents' for an extra day to give us time to paint, build, sort and organize, and decorate her brand new "tween" room.

It went from froo-froo pink to grape green in less than a day. We got home from IKEA and left again to Home Depot for some paint. We had to primer the pink on three walls, and left it alone on one wall. Two coats of primer and two coats of green later, it looked like a whole new room. Jeff even decided to give the pink wall a fresh coat of pink.

I'll see if I can get up some before and after pics soon. We took plenty, as proof of all our hard work.

After the green dried on that Sunday, we began our individual projects. My job was to sort through all of the endless clutter and toys that had previously littered our little girl's bedroom, that always kept it from being clean. Jeff was busy building the bed and desk. Whew - I hope I never have to do that again. It was unreal and seemed endless at times. We'd brought everything out of her room and downstairs to paint, so nothing went back into that room that didn't pass through my approval.

We donated massive quantities of toys and threw away almost as many. Now all her toys are in plastic bins and will stay organized for years to come. We also put some of it in our attic for her to pass on to her kids someday. It was the hugest purge in Browning history! Whew - done.

Well - after a teary phone call of misunderstood abandonment from Kailee on Sunday night, we felt terrible, but couldn't reveal our little project if it was going to be a surprise.

Finally - Monday evening around five pm, we headed out to get her and bring her home to her brand new room. We'd scored a desk chair for under her new loft bed that day, and a cool fuzzy pink lounging chair as well to go with the new desk, comforter, accent pillows, and matching sheer curtains. This room was made for hanging out, talking on the phone, and just chillin' in.

We got her home and upstairs. It was like an episode of Trading Spaces or While You Were Out. She was so excited! We even saw some happy tears. She was overwhelmed with joy. It was such hard work, but we just kept thinking about how much she'd love it, and she did. She's been calling down every so often the phrase, "I LOVE my room!" since Monday. Now it's been a whole week and the room has served its purpose beautifully. All the neighborhood kids have oo-ed and ahhh-ed over it now and over the weekend, we had her friend party with a sleepover with three of her best friends. It was awesome! They all wanted to sleep in Kailee's new room.

It was such a blessing that we were able to do this. I think it's been the best money we've spent in a really long time. Praise God for tax returns. :)

Birthday Business...

We also prepared quite a party for Kailee. We made our own pinata, wands, and signs. We ordered and picked up silver and black balloons, made a lightning bolt shaped cake, and hung oodles of spiral streamers and shiny silver stars around the house. The theme was Harry Potter. We had to make nearly everything, but it was SO much fun! I've never made a pinata before and it was messy and a total blast. All three of us got really into it and Jeff and I may have smeared each others' arms with gluey paper mache mix. Hee hee...

Conclusion...

I think the last couple of weeks have really pulled me back to reality. I've realized that even with more limitations now than ever, life is still worth working for. Our experiences with the people we love are worth any extra effort and personal consequences. It all matters. God's blessed me with love and support and so much more. It would be a travesty to waste all of it feeling sorry for myself or letting any of it get me down.

January 7, 2008

My New Project

Well - my very good friend, Eve - found at Quest Writer, and I are collaborating on a story! It was her idea, the very clever girl she is, and totally loved by me. I'll update here sometimes, but so far we're just tossing ideas around. It's such a neat opportunity and I feel blessed to have it.