I’ve been driving past this collection of equipment since December, wanting to take a picture. Finally here are a couple of images. Here are a bunch of boom lifts (I think) stored for winter at a local company.
And below, here they all are waiting for their chance to escape. 😉
“If you wrote this as fiction,” my husband said, “People wouldn’t believe it.”
After the beginning credits of Lion, there’s a caption telling the viewer the movie is based on a true story. That knowledge colors everything you see thereafter.
Five year old Saroo gets on a decommissioned train and falls asleep, ending up thousands of kilometers away from his family in the huge city of Kolkata, where he doesn’t even speak the language. He manages to survive on his own among Kolkata’s many street children until he’s placed in an orphanage and eventually adopted by a loving Australian couple.
Years later he becomes obsessed with finding the mother and brother he remembers from so long ago. Using modern technology (Google Earth) and scattered memories, he tries to find his birth family.
Lion is a feast for the eyes, beautifully photographed, showing us a glimpse into the lives led by Kolkata’s thousands of street children. I held my breath for Saroo several times as he narrowly escaped some of the terrifying dangers lying in wait for these children.
Lion shows us the love of both of Saroo’s mothers — the birth mother and the adoptive one. With strong performances that are full of heart, this movie makes us feel the incalculable depth of love in a true family.
The movie is based on “The Long Journey Home” by Saroo Brierley. It’s a fantastic movie, definitely award-worthy.
Here’s more about Lion on IMDb.
My short story, “Daughter of the Righ”, has been reprinted in the January-March issue of the web-based magazine Lorelei Signal. This online magazine is dedicated to publishing fantasy stories about complex female characters.
“Daughter of the Righ” is set in the same world as my Color Mage novels — but about 20 years earlier, so no spoilers! In the story, young Hira Noh must escape a betrothal to the Collared Lord who killed her best friend — an event in her early life that eventually led to her becoming the strong, unusual character she is in Sword of Jashan.
Here’s a link to Lorelei Signal. Enjoy!
Aisholpan, 13-year-old daughter of a nomadic Kazakh family, wants to be an eagle huntress. It’s against the traditions of her people for a woman to hunt with the eagles, but she’s determined to compete in the Golden Eagle Festival. She has the unswerving support of her father, who helps her find and train a bird of her own.
The Eagle Huntress is a beautifully-filmed documentary. It’s filled with stunning aerial views of the mountains Aisholpan’s family lives in, and dramatic footage of the eagle’s flight. (I could have watched that all day.) The documentary also gives us an outlook on how the family lives – their day-to-day routine, their home, how foreign yet familiar their lifestyle is. I understood and sympathized with their support for a beloved daughter.
Aisholpan herself is amazing, a strong young woman and a great hero for the girls-can-do-anything message the movie promotes.
Much of the story is devoted to the physical challenges Aisholpan had to face, from climbing down steep cliffs to retrieve her eaglet, to hunting in minus-40-degree temperatures. The film crew had to struggle with the same unforgiving environment. I found this interview with director Otto Bell that describes what they had to go through.
The Eagle Huntress has a simple message — “Girls Can Do Anything” — which seems to be directed at a younger audience. In spite of the tremendous challenges the movie shows us, the storyline lacks complexity, making this a light viewing experience. But it’s still well worth watching for adults, because it feels like a glimpse into another world.
Here’s a link to the movie’s website.
The Ohio Chinese Lantern Festival is an outdoor event with gorgeous handcrafted silk lanterns on steel frames, brilliantly lit. We were lucky enough to go on a (relatively) warm evening in December, so we were happy to wander around and not feel too cold.
Some of the figures were cartoonish animals I’m assuming were designed to appeal to kids. I didn’t care much for those, but there was quite a bit of variety, and several designs I really liked.
The pièce de résistance was this beautiful dragon. (Everyone knows I’m a fan of dragons.) In this interview in Columbus Underground, the event manager said the dragon was built in the park, taking six artisans almost a week to complete.
There was also a display of traditional dragons made out of little glass bottles filled with colored water:
Downtown Delaware, Ohio merchants will be having an Open House on Saturday, December 10 to promote local businesses during the Christmas season.
If you’re there, stop into local cheese-and-fine-food shop The Greater Gouda and say hi! Owner Terri-Lynne Smiles, who’s also an author, will be hosting a book signing with a half-dozen local authors, including me.
The Holiday Open House is December 10 from 11 am to 3 pm. The book signing will be from 1 pm to 3 pm at the Greater Gouda. I’ll have copies of both novels and two anthologies available for signing.
Last week I posted my Magna Carta I, a look at what elements I enjoy in a novel. Here’s my take on the Magna Carta II, a corresponding list of things that bore me in a novel. If they’re bad enough, these factors can make me roll my eyes, skip sections, or possibly even make me stop reading.
The lists are called “Magna Cartas” because they’re to be used as a sort of master list of Dos and Don’ts of novel-writing as I prepare for NaNoWriMo in a few days. Credit for this idea goes to Chris Baty, founder of NaNoWriMo, in his book No Plot? No Problem!.
My Magna Carta II:
- Openings that try to pull me into the book in a manipulative way. For example, a first sentence like: “Harry’s fingers slipped as he dangled from the cliff edge.”
- Long prologues, especially in italics.
- Bad grammar and spelling!
- Long passages of exposition or worldbuilding.
- Exhaustive character descriptions. I don’t want to hear about the planes of the face, the aquiline nose, the shape of the eyes, etc. At least, not at length.
- Ranting about real-world politics, religion, etc at the expense of story.
- Stereotypical villains that aren’t real.
- Main characters who don’t seem three-dimensional.
- Battle scenes that detail every troop movement and tactic. *closes book*
- Too much action at the expense of dialogue and characterization. Rushing around here and there.
- Starting the novel with a lengthy passage about the character’s ordinary day.
- Lack of relatable characters. (I want to like at least one of the characters.)
These are a lot of things, and a Nanowrimo novel by its nature might be prey to some of these. After all, the Nanowrimo novel is a rush product that hasn’t been rewritten or edited. Sometimes there hasn’t even been much in the way of prior planning for the novel. So, my first draft might end up with some of these problems. Still, they’re things for me to keep in mind and try to avoid as I write. A goal to strive for!
Here’s a link to my post on my Magna Carta I.
Good luck on Nanowrimo!
** Featured image is by Anastasia Zhenina on Unsplash **
Chris Baty, founder of NaNoWriMo, wrote a book called No Plot? No Problem!, in which he outlined his steps to writing a novel in 30 days. One of the very early steps is to make a couple of lists, which will serve as the writer’s “Magna Carta” during the frantic rush to write 50,000 words in one month. List One is a personalized list of What Makes a Good Novel; List Two, things that bore or depress you in novels. The idea is to hang these lists up and use them as your personal Dos and Don’ts.
Just for fun, here’s my own take on the Magna Carta I:
- Speculative fiction! (I love it best.)
- Complex main characters.
- Main characters that change.
- Not too many points of view.
- If there’s magic, it should require some cost or consequence.
- If there are aliens, they should be developed as carefully as the human characters.
- Excellent, in-depth worldbuilding that’s obvious in the story and dialogue, where there is a real reason for things in the world to be as they are — but not too much time “describing” it!
- Attention paid to diversity, BUT —
- Diversity that doesn’t hit me with a hammer.
- A touch of humor.
- An antagonist who’s real (more than a paper cut-out villain).
- Good, realistic interpersonal relationships shown in dialogue and action, not just sex.
- Good imagery.
- Some sort of religion/belief system/code that may vary by social/occupational class or culture — because that’s part of life.
- Well-described but short action/battle scenes.
That’s a long list. (It would’ve been even longer, but I forced myself to stop thinking of things.) Some novels I like quite a lot wouldn’t meet all these requirements. But still, these are the things that keep me reading, and things I can aim for in my next attempt at NaNoWriMo.
Note: I’ve done NaNoWriMo twice. (A third time I used the event to begin the process of finishing and polishing my previous NaNoWriMo novel.) Once I thought the event was useful, and one time I quit in frustration. My previous posts about NaNoWriMo are here and here.
Photo Credit: The header image is from a photograph by Anastasia Zhenina, from Unsplash.com.
These Bird of Paradise flowers are part of the California Summer Border at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena. They are so striking I couldn’t resist adding another flower picture to the blog.
Here’s a link to the museum’s page about the California Summer Border.
I had a wonderful time at the Yellow Springs Book Fair, until we got rained out pretty late in the day. Most of the booksellers had tables of used books (children’s, cookbooks, science fiction, even a Girl Scout Brownie handbook from a LONG TIME AGO that brought back memories), but there were a few authors there as well.
The event was held on the grounds of the Mills Lawn Elementary School. I loved their beautiful sign:
Before the end of the day, I left signed copies of Color Mage and Sword of Jashan at a local bookstore. They’re available at Epic Books on Xenia Street in Yellow Springs. Here’s a link to the store Facebook page for more information: https://www.facebook.com/epicbookshop/