Posted in Miscelaneous Musings, Reviews, Uncategorized

Book Review: Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson

Hey guys, guess what?  I read a YA book and actually loved every page of it!

Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson had me riveted to the page, and I’m not just pulling a book reviewer phrase out of a hat here.  I read the entire book in a day, stopping only for meals and chores, and when I did stop, I got antsy.  I needed to know what happened next in the fictional world of Lee Westfall.  I can read quickly when I’m reading a physical book, but I haven’t been this transfixed by a one in ages.

Summary (as told by yours truly): It’s 1849, and our protagonist is a tomboyish girl from the state of Georgia named Leah “Lee” Westfall.  She’s an only child and her father’s ill, so she does most of the manly work on their farm, including hunting.  So among her peers, she’s already considered a bit weird.  What’s even weirder is that she has a secret ability to sense gold.  This ability has brought wealth to her family, though they can’t really cash in on it without raising suspicion.  Plus, there isn’t much of it anymore in her locale, but there’s talk of finding even more of it in California.  Her best friend Jefferson wants to go west in search of it, and wants Lee to join him.  As tempting as this sounds, Lee hesitates.  Then one day, Lee comes home to find her mother and father murdered, and their hidden supply of gold stolen; at the funeral, she identifies the culprit by the teeny traces of gold dust, imperceptible to the naked eye, that remain on his/her person.  He/she knows about Lee’s secret ability – as the culprit closes in on her, Lee prepares her escape.  Disguised as a boy, she heads West on her own, hoping to reunite with Jeff along the way.  The road is rough, and the company of travelers she joins faces a series of trials, from disease to theft to mysteries only a gold seer can solve.

I can’t get over how tastefully Ms. Carson dealt with so many different subjects and issues.  There’s a lot of underlying social commentary which gets conveyed super-subtly in the way the characters behave and interact.  In short, this book excels at being showy, not telly. Continue reading “Book Review: Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson”

Posted in Miscelaneous Musings, Uncategorized

Jane Eyre on the Page and Screen + In Defense of Mr. Rochester?

Disclaimer: My memories of Jane Eyre in book and film form are admittedly a bit sketchy, as it’s been a while since I viewed them.  That said, I feel everything I’ve written below, however well-intended, should be taken with a grain of salt.

Additionally, please be aware that Jane Eyre does deal with some mature subject matter along the lines of marital fidelity, and I’ve referenced some of it in this post.

A couple of years ago, I read the abridged version of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre.  I loved the story so much, especially all the parts about the creepy lady who haunted the Fairfax manor in the night, that I wanted to read the original.  There was much more to the story than creepy ladies, though, which drew me in even further.  Then, out of curiosity, I decided to watch one of the film adaptations – I chose the 1997 British TV movie version, starring Samantha Morton and Ciaran Hinds.

It was a cute, albeit condensed narrative.  We really don’t have much opportunity to see Jane shine as a character onscreen, in this version or (I’m assuming) others.  I understand, we’ve only got just under two hours to convey 178,404 flowery, drawn-out written words (which is approximately 356.808 pages).  And we all know movies can never stay 100% faithful to the books upon which they’re based.  Somewhere along the way, we’re going to be disappointed.

What I enjoyed so much in the original, unabridged Jane Eyre book was seeing the world through Jane’s eyes.  She witnesses so much injustice and hypocrisy: in her early childhood, where she’s neglected by her foster family; in school, with that hypocritical monster of a headmaster who abused religion as a basis for persecuting others of lesser means; in her childhood friendships, taken away from her by illnesses contracted in deplorable living conditions.  Even if Jane was held back by circumstance from doing anything significant about the injustices she witnessed, there was a beautiful intelligence to her perceptions.  I found that intelligence appealing, which is why I continued to read this long, classic novel with some romantic overtones.

I think Mr. Rochester found it appealing too, which is why he wanted to marry her and be with her for the rest of their lives.  All that gets glossed over in most movies – instead, the focus is on Jane’s seemingly bizarre romance with the much-older Mr. Rochester.  After all, who doesn’t love a nice, romantic movie where the gullible young woman marries a creepy old bigamist, and they all live happily ever after?

….Which brings me to the main point of this post: defending Mr. Rochester. Continue reading “Jane Eyre on the Page and Screen + In Defense of Mr. Rochester?”

Posted in Behind the Scenes, Miscelaneous Musings, The Writing Life

The Young Writer’s Life According to RWBY: Beta-Reading Edition

Mild content warning: post features pictures of a somewhat skimpily-dressed anime character.

I ran a poll on my Twitter page a few weeks ago for the theme of my next “Young Writer’s Life According To…” post.  It was a 50/50 tie between Tangled (which has a surprising variety of gifs) and my favorite anime, RWBY.  So, why not both?

This gifset in particular puts particular attention on beta-reading, an immense readerly kindness I’ve come to appreciate in my latest writerly project.  That said, I’d like to dedicate this post to Aerin and Lauren, the best beta-readers a young writer like me could ask for.

And now, if you are among the 50% who voted for a RWBY-themed post, this’ll be the day you’ve waited for!


Continue reading “The Young Writer’s Life According to RWBY: Beta-Reading Edition”

Posted in Miscelaneous Musings, The Writing Life

Clean Fiction for All?

A/N: I’d like to apologize in advance if this post offends any of my religious friends in the clean indie writing world with this post.  Additionally, I’d love to hear feedback and other perspectives on the issue I’ve raised.  Please feel free to leave a comment below!

When I browse the web for “clean” fiction, I usually find books that are both clean and faith-based, specifically in the Christian faith.  I don’t see much differentiation between faith-based clean fiction and … regular clean fiction.  I get that there’s a huge demand among certain religious Christian circles for books with minimal “offensive” content and an abundance of positive messages.  But I think I’m living proof that the desire for such books and for positive messages isn’t limited to Christian religious people, or religious people in general. Continue reading “Clean Fiction for All?”

Posted in Miscelaneous Musings, Uncategorized, Writer's Jukebox

Writer’s Jukebox: Haikyuu!! OST

I can never remember the name of this show, only its unique punctuation and the epicness of its soundtrack.  But I’ve been listening to its soundtrack fairly often – it’s very dramatic and upbeat, which is great for when your mind’s gone all sluggish and you’ve got five papers to hand in before Wednesday.

My favorite track in this set is “Kamiwaza Sokko,” which seems to be using strings in place of guitars – I like the sound of classical instruments used them to achieve that rock ‘n’ roll sound. 😀

Posted in Miscelaneous Musings, The Writing Life

Oh look, Al’s writing ANOTHER story

If you’ve been reading my Twitter page since around the 26th of January, you’ve probably seen me mention these five names with increasing frequency: Xander, Lyra, Ryan, Jen, and Morgan Freeman.  All those people (except of course Morgan Freeman) are fictional characters in a new project that I’m quite stoked to work on!

I played around with different titles for a bit, with a working title of “Xander,” then Thrilling Tales in the spirit of those weird old pulp fiction magazines, until I finally settled on Cliche.

Cliche started out as a snarky satire of my (admittedly limited) perception of romance novels.  Then, it expanded to include poking fun at chauvinist pulp fiction writers of the olden days.  And then, it developed deep, philosophical undertones, like whether the fictional characters have free will even in their own worlds.  At this point, I’m not even sure what it is anymore, but what I do know is that I enjoy writing it.

Why have I managed to keep at this story for this long without running out of steam?  There are two main reasons: Continue reading “Oh look, Al’s writing ANOTHER story”

Posted in Miscelaneous Musings

The Blue Sky Tag

I’ve been tagged by another young writer, Tessa Megan, to participate in the Blue Sky Tag!

The rules are pretty simple:

  • Thank the person who tagged you
  • Answer their 11 questions
  • Tag 11 people
  • Give them 11 questions to answer


Tessa’s Questions:

Do you have any imaginary friends?

Nope.  My real friends keep me busy enough. 😀


Have you ever been to the beach or would like to go?

I love going to the beach!  I have mostly been to man-made beaches, but would love to spend more time near the ocean. Continue reading “The Blue Sky Tag”