Sunday, November 13, 2011

Oh my...


So I haven't posted in...almost four months. I am truly the worst blogger there is. See, I said it, I put it out there. Just the worst ever.

On that note, it's another weird night in Georgia, weather-wise anyway. I'm sitting here with a mug of tea and it's cold outside (hoo hoo, takes the prize on that one ladies and gentlemen, it's cold in November...who'd have thought it...). But it's supposed to be in the 70s again this week. Halfway through November.

Speaking of, where has the time gone!? I swear it hasn't been four months since I last wrote on this blog!! It's only been, what, four weeks? Maximum? Oh...wait. Nope, four months. We are almost finished with 2011, boys!

I would blame not writing in my blog on the three English/English-equivalent classes I took/am finishing this semester or on the internship that I had/have and am having a blast at or on the fact that I've actually had time this semester to finally start work on my sequel and am scheduled to have it finished by new years. I totally would blame my lack of diligence on all of that if I thought it would be believable. And while all of those things are very true, and I have been very busy, I've also been allowing myself, for the first time in a while, the time to just...chill. Relax. Paint. Not worry.

And it's been delicious.

But I have been doing some reading, don't worry. I finally finished book two in the Xanth novel I was working on but never managed to get around to book three. I've also been pouring through a few new Miles books, including "Miles, Mystery, and Mayhem", "Miles Errant", and "Memory". I'm only a few pages in to "Memory" at the moment, but it's going great so far! This woman can really write-- and I mean she can really write! Anne McCaffrey says the exact same thing.

In any case, I am still recovering from a cold and a general lack of sleep, so I'm going to be lazy and cop out with this post remaining as an 'I'm sorry I haven't been here for the past third of a year please forgive me if you can find it in your heart' explanation.

But go read Lois McMaster Bujold. Just do it!

Also check out these two authors' blogs-- Robin McKinley, author of my favorite book "Beauty" and Ursula K. LeGuin, author of "The Left Hand of Darkness" and the Earthsea series. Both are absolutely fantastic to read and their websites are well-maintained and fascinating to readers and writers alike.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Guess where I am...?

Hello everyone! I write this to you from the great city of London!! I have been here for about a day and I am already loving it-- for those of you who are world travelers, it's a bit like Paris with the exception that there is more vehicular traffic, including those famous double-decker buses. Oh, and as a note, pedestrians beware: in London, car, bike, bus, it doesn't matter, they *will not stop for you* or *even slow down*. So be sure you have plenty of room before you cross. Because they'll run you over. No joke.

Alright, well, what is this post about? I finished "The Road" a little while ago and it was brilliant. McCarthy did a brilliant job of engaging and entertaining, even through suffering, his audience to the bitter end. I felt so emotionally involved that I literally couldn't put the book down, and on the second day of reading I nearly polished off the rest of the book. A definite must-read, through and through. I give this book a 9.

I have since then started a book, one of three, called "A Spell for Chameleon" by Piers Anthony. I love Piers Anthony's work because he is so delightfully sarcastic without being sarcastic. He makes you think he's being serious, and yet underneath you can smell that something...something is no quite right. And it might even be humorous. His books are witty and colorful and well-planned; two of my personal favorites are "Double Exposure", a sci-fi/fantasy crossover that combines the two worlds in a fantastic and incredibly creative way, and "Bearing an Hourglass", a story about a normal man who becomes Chronos, the controller of Time. Both have their drama and action, and both are hilarious all the way through. "Bearing an Hourglass" is in particular hysterical by means of the problems the hero encounters while trying to learn how to use Chronos' powers...such as making humans unaware of the fact that he may be at one point or another turning time backwards. There is a particularly memorable scene where the new Chronos is running through the alleys after setting time backwards, watching all the bewildered and panicking creatures struggling with their suddenly reversed states, and he passes by a man being 'dragged' back into a lavatory accompanied by helpless screams of horrified "No!" as his biological processes go backwards to his full awareness.

You have to be there. Read there. You know.

In any case, I look forward to seeing more about what Piers Anthony has to offer me in this Xanth novel. I tried reading "Night Mare" once, and it failed to capture my attention. I'm not entirely sure why. I'll have to give it another go at some point. But this one so far is intriguing, about a young man named Bink who is threatened with exile because he is a non-magical human living in a magical world. He must find his talent or be thrust into the other-world, the mundane and non-magical normal-verse.

As soon as I'm not so jet-lagged, I'll be sure to read more. And I'm also going to see if I can find any intriguing manuscripts while I'm here in London. What a place to buy books, is it not?

See you on the other side, my friends!


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Road...

Hello everyone!!

How are you all enjoying the summer heat? Well, I suppose if you live somewhere that is perpetually cold you aren't. And if you live somewhere really hot (mid-Georgia right about now) you might not either. I for one can't complain-- I hate the cold with a burning (get it?) passion that consumes all my being. Everyone always says you can put more clothing on but there comes a time when you can't take any more off. Well, for me, I'd rather sweat, because one) sweating is good for you (as long as you bathe) and two) I don't warm up once I'm cold. I stay cold and I shiver and it's not fun. Because I shiver *really* hard.

Speaking of cold, here we go! I won the Sidney Lanier Prize for fiction this last semester for a short story I wrote called "The Scholar," and the reward was two books, one of which is "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy. I have never before read this book, and my professor, who not only picked me to be the receiver of the award, but also chose the books in question, decided on this title because she thought it would give me more grit in my own writing. Always a good thing, and I certainly can't claim to have too much-- I used to have the terrible habit of deleting anything I wrote that creeped me out too much. Terrible. I have since then quit of that habit, but unlike some writers I know I have never written something deliberately creepy or terrible just to see what would happen or how I would go about it. That is probably something I should attempt as well. I'm getting there.

In any case! "The Road" is about a father and son in a sort of post-apocalyptic America (the country has been entirely burned somehow) and their struggles to get to the warmer coast, all the while avoiding murderous bands of vagrants along the way. I haven't gotten very far in-- just a few pages on my break at work today-- but already the writing style is intriguing. A bit distracting in its simplicity, to me, but it's very much a part of the character (the father) and adds, in a weird way, a bit of depth. But what I really love is the vocabulary-- me and vocabulary!! Gorgeous stuff. I mean, in describing a nightmare cave creature McCarthy writes:

"Crouching there pale and naked and translucent, its alabaster bones cast up in shadow on the rocks behind it." 

The cold and silence of the night he describes as:

"Carried forth and scattered and carried forth again. Everything uncoupled from its shoring. Unsupported in the ashen air. Sustained by a breath, trembling and brief."

Wow. I haven't even gotten to most of the 'grit' in the story and already it's beautiful, if in a bare, desperate way. I mean really, I'm not even twenty pages in. I should get to work on that.

And so I shall! Keep reading, friends, and wiggle your toes-- just because it's hot doesn't mean the pages are too sticky to turn!


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Writer Encouragement

Hello everyone!

It's been a little while since my last post. I've been officially bumming it up for the summer-- well not really, I've actually been working part time to save up for next year's tuition and my trip to London at the end of the summer. Most exciting : ) I've also been dabbling in my reading and writing; working my way through The Lord of the Rings and various other things here and there, nothing too serious. I'm between new books at the moment, though I do have some on my floor beside my bed: The Gravedigger's Daughter and The Road...need to get to those at some point.

But as you all know, it can be very easy in the busy *and* lazy months to suffer from writer stagnation-- nothing seems inspiring, you just want to lie around and stare at the're recovering from the hard work you've put your brain through during the working months, or working life, and you don't feel like you have any energy left. This then leads to a sense of self-loathing at your weakness for not doing as you're supposed to (you *are* a writer aren't you? So why aren't you writing!?!?!?!) and a feeling of general worthlessness and lack of talent.

Yes. I know. I've been there.

The truth of the matter is-- writing is hard. I've mentioned this in a blog post before so you don't need to hear me rant about it. But something else we need to keep in mind is that it is all too easy to be sensitive, especially with our own nasty inner voices. You don't think you have any talent? Alright then, say you don't. What then? write anyway. Tell me, do you write for your audience or do you write for you? Well, some of you will say, I don't really have an audience at the moment other than family and friends, a spattering of caring people. And they all adore your work, but it's so easy to think they're just being biased or being nice. Alright then, so you're writing for yourself. Then *write* for yourself, and if you like it, then hey! What do you know? there's one person in the world whom you've pleased, and if writing isn't to some extent meant to please, then I don't know what it's for. Even intellectual and painful writing can be pleasurable in its own intellectual and painful way. And if you don't like it, move on, shrug it off. Everyone is going to write badly (ever read any of Harlan Ellison's old stuff? Yeeeaaaahhhhhh........terrible.) None of us are going to be the amazing writers we want to be now, as much as we'd love to be. I'd personally love to be great now-- why go through the pain of growing? But it has to happen, and like everything else in life, everyone goes through it.

But sometimes thinking logically doesn't help our sense of worth or talent. Here's a solution, and I haven't even put this one into practice yet myself, so we'll be doing it together. Another great writer friend of mine has suggested a book: Annie Dillard's "The Writing Life". Apparently it's full of personal anecdotes, analogies, and observations about the writing life meant to encourage writers in all of their duress. One analogy he brought to mind was that writing is like chopping wood-- when you try to aim directly for the log, you miss.

Interesting thought, that.

In any case-- give it a try! Don't give up, no matter how talentless you feel. Believe me, there is always someone worse out there. And there is always someone better. But just remember some of the truly *awful* books that get published. Yours one day can too (and I know, I heard this argument earlier and thought, but I don't *want* mine to be part of the rubbish! Don't worry-- if you love it, it won't! There will always be people who hate your stuff, and people who just go mad over it. I'm pretty sure you can handle both.)

And as a random closer, if you have a finished manuscript that you've been trying to get published or have just been sitting on, take a look at a place called They're a professional printer (not a publisher) that will take your digital manuscript and print it for you, as few or many copies as you want, and in many different sizes. Their printing is great quality, professional grade and their binding is superb, tight, and clean. It's all paperback at the moment, but they're thinking about adding hardcover soon. You get a full color cover, spine, and back, as well as beautiful clean printing on the inside in black and white. You format your manuscript into PDF on their easy to follow step by step guide, line up all the margins, fill in the info, and order away! Their prices are wonderful, and I was able to print 3 promos of my book in an 8.5x11" sizing for around $30, including shipping. Not bad, eh? I've already made a 5x9" size for once I've given the content a last looking over and they even have something called an eCommerce set up (kind of like a store?) where I think you can sell books to people. Not sure on that one, I have to still try it out, but for first time writers who don't want to try self-publishing but still want to share their work-- pretty good gig, if you ask me. And even if you just want a physical, professional copy for your own warm fuzzies or for information security, it's great quality for your price.

And besides...nothing is cooler than seeing your name on a gorgeously art-ed cover.

Anyway, that's enough from me for now! Keep your chins up, friends, and keep those feet bare! It's summer, you've got no excuse, your toes should be dirty with grass and happy dirt by now!


Friday, May 20, 2011


Hello! Everyone enjoying their summers? Georgia has had some pretty freaky weather recently. You know how those glorious storms always bring in cold fronts? Yeah, in Georgia that usually means something like 80 degree weather as opposed to 90. But this past week, in mid May, we had a cold front that was 60 degrees.


For a cold-blooded gal like me, it was frigid. Especially with the air-conditioning still set to go on in the house. And of course, you know me, when it was raining I just *had* to go stand in it for a bit and drink it in. So, soaked. Air-conditioning. 60 degree weather.


Anyway. I'm still working on Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, but I've taken a hiatus from Adams' peculiarosity to reread one of my absolute favorites as I've been promising myself I would for years. I'm still pretty fried from the end of the semester in every artistic way, so I'm trying to recall some of my muse and strength by re-delving into the series of books that, when I first discovered them, I literally read to pieces. Not even kidding-- they were my older sister's books, too, and I was mortified when the binding and pages fell apart in my hands because of how much I'd read them.

Yes, friends, it is "The Lord of the Rings" that I am currently pouring through. Now, I've heard lots of arguments and sighs against the books. Some say that Tolkien's writing style is terrible to nonexistent, that his works are unoriginal, that his structure is archaic or illegible...yeah yeah yeah. Well here's what I have to say about *that*!!

Tolkien's writing style is just fine. If you've ever read books from that time period by *any* author, they will all sound much the same. That's just the way people wrote back then, and it's difficult to get through on occasion. Ever read any C. S. Lewis or H. G. Wells? Wells, especially, is a headache to get through sometimes. But it's brilliant and vivid!! Every word is like a drop of blue ink on a pure white page, bleeding and spiraling out as water is dripped on it. You have to really be in an early 20th century mood to read them; you'd have to be in a different mood to read "Great Expectations" or "The Count of Monte Cristo" in exactly the same way. Both, by the way, are intriguing books. I'd suggest "Count" over GE any day, but have you ever seen the unabridged version of "Count"? It's about as thick as the length of your hand!!! But delicious, and you don't have to be a connoisseur of wine-like books to appreciate them.

Many people who I've heard complain about Tolkien's stories have also started with "The Silmarillion". Ok. Bad idea number one. "The Silmarillion" is really a book for already obsessed LOTR fans and geeks, much like "Unfinished Tales" is-- though "Unfinished Tales" is much easier to get through and even has a section from it featured in "The Silmarillion". I'm about as geeky about LOTR as any, and even *I* have not finished "The Silmarillion" in its entirety. The beginning is much about the creation of Middle Earth and the set up of the whole universe in which LOTR exists, and yes, it's a bit hard. Oh no, hard reading! (Did you hear the sarcasm?) But the brilliant thing about reading for fun is, if it's too difficult for your tastes, you can

a) slow down, or
b) not read it!

But don't knock it as bad just because you don't like it. There are plenty of great books out there that I don't like, but it doesn't make them bad. Certain novels however are bad in accordance with me not liking them. I won't mention names in case I offend. Sparkly vampires may or may not be included. *cough*

But as I was saying, LOTR is really a special set of books. I picked them up first around middle school, just as the movies were first coming out. Unfortunately I saw the first movie before I read any of the books, but that got me hooked and I speedily read the rest of the books before the next movie appeared, and again, and again, and again. I got "The Hobbit", "The Silmarillion", "Unfinished Tales," "The Middle Earth Dictionary", a Tolkien bibliography, and many more of his works that don't come to mind. I also have "The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun" sitting right next to me here in a large stack of books I'm supposed to read this summer (gleeful I am!!) which is an epic poem, as far as I can make out with the tiny glimpse I've had through it.

For those of you who have never read the books *or* watched the movies, the novels are really without compare. They're...magical. I know that's a cliche way to say it, but that's all there is for it. The movies do a bang-up job of portraying them, with only a few discrepancies that are so-so in their annoying-ness, some of which only true fanatics would notice or point out. But as an avid book-before-movie believer, I really enjoyed these films nonetheless.

LOTR is set in Middle Earth, a land of elves, dwarves, dragons (or at least there used to be), orcs, goblins, wolves, giants, trolls, wizards, Ents (tree-herders; imagine a great big walking tree), and hobbits, who are the primary characters. Hobbits are also called halflings because they are about half the size of a man, rotund due to their love of beer and food, furry-feeted little creatures who love peace and ordinariness. Some of them are less ordinary than others, and some downright adventurous, such as Bilbo Baggins and Frodo Baggins around whom the stories pivot. The One Ring of power which would give the Enemy, Sauron, power to enslave the whole world, has fallen into Bilbo's, and finally Frodo's, hands. They must find a way to destroy it before Sauron finds them and destroys or enslaves all of Middle Earth.

The deep, trenching seams of the story are incredible. You can see and feel mountains and valleys springing up in the great depth of the story-- every detail, every history is accounted for, and it all knits together beautifully. If you don't believe Tolkien ever did anything original, you can't ignore the fact that he sewed an entire world together from beginning to end in his mind-- the sheer amount of detail involved is staggering and beautiful. It can be so easy to get wrapped up in the now of a story and forget origins, but Tolkien never did so. And it really shows in his stories.

Anyway, I should wrap up and go to bed! I hope you all stay well, stay barefoot, and try reading (or re-reading) LOTR this summer! They really are books to be savored.


Friday, April 29, 2011


Hello everyone!

As you *may* have noticed (you did notice....right?.....right?) there is a new tab to the side there under the banner of "Maudlin's Shoes". Where before it was a blank, innocent patch of golden brown background, now there are the links called 'Home' and 'The Tower: 2011 Publications'. *That* my friends is the where the pieces for my portfolio, which can be found here and will be further updated as soon as I can get my hands on the records of my published works, will now reside.

Any suggestions any of you may have for how to make my portfolio better, or efficient, or more aesthetically pleasing, do feel free to drop a comment! Please feel free to show it to your friends, writing connections, or rising writers.

That is all for now! Today I engage in the terribly important act of de-stressing...and there will be puppies involved!


Friday, April 15, 2011


They can be dangerous, destructive, and scary, but I love thunder storms...and mid-Georgia is just the perfect place for them.

It's another reason I love spring and summer so much. So many people around here hate the summer because of the terrible pollen (rising around 9 to 11 in severity for weeks on end when spring hits) and the heat/humidity. I say, I'd rather be hot than cold any day. I love watching the green come back, the new flowers poke their blossoms from among budding leaves, feeling the wind and warmth regain their aromatic texture. Shorts and short sleeves!! And there's something about an oven-hot day...knowing that the heat above is causing boiling clouds to form as the air agitates, stirring up a storm whose frenzy can be measured by the fierceness of the temperature...

Can you tell I'm writing about this rather than about writing? Again, my apologies for not keeping up with you like I should. It's exam season, GA Renaissance Festival season (where I work during the 8-week run) and storm season. Right now we're under a Tornado Warning with rain drumming outside; the sky is pitch black with winds rushing through the tops of the newly greened trees, and apparently hail is on the way.

I'm currently in the middle of re-reading the complete "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams. I have only managed to pour through the first book and part of the second due to school (funny how getting a higher education can do that) but for those of you who have not encountered these books, they are a nerd/geek/sci-fi buff must-read. If you like Firefly, if you like Portal (the video game), if you like going to science fiction cons and fantasy cons, or any of that other awesome stuff, you will enjoy these books. Does that mean these books have anything remotely to do with Firefly or Portal? No. Not in the least. In fact they have *nothing* to do with Firefly or Portal other than that it's science fiction and takes place on a ship in space (some of the time) and is vastly sardonic in wit.

The humor can get on the nerves if you're not in the mood for ridiculous nonsense. The whole book is uproariously funny in its own random way-- and it *is* random. The ship that the main characters pilot, called Heart of Gold, is run by the Infinite Improbability Drive and thus is run by factors of improbability, like the improbability of a whale appearing out of nowhere a mile above the ground of an improbably unfindable planet-- yes, this happens, and you will find the thoughts of the whale prior to his unfortunate departure from the story rather starkly funny. And improbable. It's like Monty Python really. And you ask "What about a pointed stick?"


But like I said, sometimes the humor can get windy and you just wish Douglas Adams would hurry it up. He probably says that in there somewhere, come to think of it. And don't, don't, DON'T judge the books by the movie. The movie was...interesting, but it did very little to actually capture the true essence of the books. In fact the movie was just plain weird, and while the books are also just plain weird, they're weird in a rather distinctive way.

You follow Arthur Dent, human and friend to Ford Prefect, resident of somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse, as he travels about the Universe with no particular destination whatsoever (I'm sure it's in there somewhere but for the life of me *I* can't remember it, and even if I did, I wouldn't be telling you, now would I, you're supposed to go read the book, silly...). There are Bypasses, Vogons, a two-headed President of the Universe named Zaphod Beeblebrox who invented the most dangerous alcoholic drink in the universe, a great big book called The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy with "Don't Panic" written on it in large, friendly letters in which you can learn how to travel the stretches of the galaxy for less than thirty Alterian dollars a day, talking cows, a potted plant, mice who rule the world, a computer named Deep Thought, the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything...really, what isn't in this book? It did after all beat out the Encyclopedia Galactica as bestseller.

Mmmm the thunder is approaching. I suppose I'd better wrap this up now so I don't risk danger to my computer.

Till then, friends-- go take a walk in the rain, I highly recommend it...just so long as you don't do so during a thunderstorm, there's lightning you know, and it's very dangerous... ; )


Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Hey everyone!

It's been a little while since my last post! Boy where does the time go? I can't really give any good excuses because...well I can't.

And yet don't we all suffer from this? This horrible contradiction of joys and pains that causes us to spend the littlest time on the thing we love most to do? For me it's writing. I love, love, love to write. I used to spend hours non-stop writing, plugged into my music, chugging out image after image, working on characters, always amazed and delighted to see what came next. It earned me a typing speed of 98 words per minute. Well, and also some stories, you know, that too.

Yet these days it seems harder and harder to find the time. And not only the time, but the energy. I think you all know what I mean-- you work excruciatingly hard to give yourself a little free time later in the day (or in the week if your schedule is anything like mine!!) but by the time you get to that couple of hours of're completely and utterly wiped. You don't want to think about anything, not even the thing you love to do. Because writing is hard work! It takes brain cells and stuff! And where did those brain cells and stuff go? Straight into the project, assignment, work shift, moving muscles to stay standing business. We're so exhausted that after doing all of the things we have to do each day, at the end we just want to stare mindlessly at the TV/computer/fish tank or collapse straight into bed. We don't want to expend one more ounce of energy in the exercising of our minds.

A sad, true, and puzzling dilemma. I certainly don't have an answer for it yet. My answer is to wait until you have a long enough break that you can spend a good two to two and a half weeks completely vegging and then yank your detoxed brain out of the jacuzzi for some productivity that is creative and worth something to our muses (which, face it, bagging groceries for $8.00 an hour or solving probability equations don't quite cut it). I had this last week off-- except for one homework assignment that I didn't begin until a day before the break was over, I had nothing to do. Well, some chores and lists and to dos. Some emails, visits, future planning, studying...wait, what happened to that having nothing to do? Er....well anyway! Spent enough time vegging and reading and cooking that I felt, at the end of it all, marginally revitalized. It wasn't long enough though. One week out of the prior 9? Hmmm...something here seems uneven! But unfortunately that's the reality of life, and I'm told it only gets worse from here.

BUT when school has finally ended, even though my mind will be occupied with *new* highly stressful things, like a full-time job, paying bills, etc. and so forth and all that that implies...I will no longer be required to memorize probability equations, soliloquize on philosophical topics I really couldn't be less interested in, or memorize mounds of information to spit back on this essay or that exam. No more summer vacation? No more weeks and weeks of classes building up to one final explosion. I think it evens out a bit.

But we'll see, won't we? Me, I plan to be fully and thoroughly pleased when I graduate and get my first full-time job. And my spare time will not be engaged in searching for a job, working on my internship cover letters, hoping my GPA and volunteering is enough to get me a job, or studying for my classes forever and on end. I will be writing, for me. Me me me!!!

But until then, the majority of my writing will be at the whims of my tapioca brain. Should the spur come between now and the summer, then hoorah for the muse! If not, though, for now I've bowed down the to pressure of the student's life and will wait patiently to do some real literary damage over the long months I am given to recover.

One last thought....I find it odd and sinister that we have to have three months out of the year to 'recover' from school...............................recover, as in from damage...*eerie music* Spoooooooky.....and not at all surprising to any student past the high school level.

Next post I will be exploring the joys and hysteria (I meant hysterics! Really! Truly! Why are you laughing?) of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams. We will discuss the 42 ways to mix a Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster.

Yes. That makes sense.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Anne Rice-- Not What It Seemed...

Hello everyone!

Sorry it's been such a long time. Things have been crazy in multiple ways over here, but I'm taking this tiny break in my hectic-ness to sit down and take a deep breath. Hooray literature-- it keeps those air ways open!

Today's subject: vampires.

You know...I've never been *really* into vampires. As with my relationship with many mythical creatures, I prefer the ancient as opposed to the modern interpretations. No sparkling for me. For me, vampires burst into flame or char into ash when exposed to sunlight. Or they do something else equally life-ending; maybe their blood turns into stone or their bodies dissolve. Either way. They're certainly not always pretty boys, though we won't rule that option out. To me the ideal vampire is ethereal, strong, dark, quiet or flamboyant depending on how immortality has twisted him...but they aren't...they aren't Edward Cullen, ok? They live for eternity and they spend that eternity in darkness preying on what they once were: you'd be a bit messed up in the head too. In fact, I think the best vampires are a bit insane. I sure would be. Can you imagine drinking blood? Mmm...yummy....?

My favorite book where vampires make their cool mark is Wildwood Dancing by Patricia A. McKillip. They are dark, quiet, sultry, but calculating and incredibly emotionless beneath their alluring exterior, which, though very deep, is only slightly erotic. No ridiculous leather, my friends. I can understand wanting to look enticing in order to lure your prey, but that hook doesn't work for every kind of fish. And really, if you think about it, what immortal creature would spend that much time in such a ridiculous get up? If I were immortal, you can bet that after a while I just wouldn't care what I looked like anymore. I'd probably spend most of my time in loose fitting renaissance pants and a t-shirt. Anyway, I found the vampires in Wildwood Dancing to be mostly sardonic and softly fierce in nature. They were velvety, to be sure, and a bit seductive, but they kept themselves to themselves. In essence, they were believable, even for fantasy.

Another good example of excellently executed vampires is in the Japanese movie Moon Child, directed by Takahisa Zeze. The vampire Kei is found by Shou, a young street child trying to stave off death and starvation through theft, accompanied by his friend and brother. After being taken in by Shou, the vampire raises the children and teaches them how to survive in the violent, gang-filled world of Malepa. The bond between Kei and Shou is incredible, just like what you would expect of a muddled father-son, brother-brother, friend-friend relationship. In Moon Child the vampires remain real people despite their immortality and blood lust. They are the most realistic portayal of what vampires may be if they really existed: tired, sarcastic, weighed down with their own cares and worries, and subject to depression. I mean, if you were to watch all of your friends, family, and anyone you ever knew grow up and die time and time again, you'd be pretty depressed too.

Anyway, this all started with me because I had a dream during the winter holidays about vampires. A family member encouraged me to write it down into a story form, and so I did. Turned out to be a great hit. Who'd have known-- definitely not me! But after reading it, a good friend bestowed me with "Interview with the Vampire" by Anne Rice in order to give me another interpretation of vampires to add to my repertoire and just for the fun of it.

Anne Rice for me falls under the same category as Stephen King: they're recipe writers. They know what's good and they stick to it. Now that in and of itself isn't so bad-- it's a lot like type-casting with actors and actresses. Sometimes we mourn it and would like to see something new and different from our favorite artisans, but in the end what they're good at is essentially what they're good at. They just have to be careful of falling into those ever present 'self-cliches'. Stephen King I think does this more than Anne Rice, for I have found "Interview" to be a lot more entertaining than I thought it would have been.

It doesn't read like the world's best novel or like a piece of chocolate cake. But still I find myself flipping so slowly through the pages that it feels like a world has gone by when I come to the end of a chapter. And yet I cannot stop flipping those pages. Each one is weighted with the world of the vampires, filled with such description and meat that it takes some great strength to get through each page. And yet, still, it is 'easy' reading. I don't know how Rice does this. Perhaps that's why she's sold so many books. But this book is inexorably drawing me further and further into the story, and I found myself the other day even contemplating reading another one of her books once I'm done with my list of books to complete! Shocking!

There are some awkward parts, I think, that simply come from the challenge of writing in first person with transitions to third, as well as from the simplicity of the form. But the tale of Louis, Lestat, and Claudia is engaging from the first page to, I'm sure, the last. I have not yet finished it, but I'm pretty sure it will be.  The characters are believing and engaging: each has his or her own faults, banishing the horrible cliche of perfect, incorruptibly smooth creatures of the night. Louis has the tendency to being a worrier, a coward, and overly sensitive. Lestat is ridiculous and foppish at times, comes across as not very bright, and spends a lot of time convincing himself by convincing others of his power. Claudia is childish in agreement with her body, if not her age, quick to lose her temper, manipulative, and impatient. But don't you see? That adds *depth* to the characters. I wouldn't call them protagonists. They're not the antagonists of the story, but as they are I don't find myself rooting them on at any point. I am instead pulled without knowing it along the deep river that follows their story, for good or ill, just out of the burning curiosity of seeing what happens. And *that* is what makes a good tale.

So, my friends, the moral of this story is: don't judge a book by its cover. Or its author; or its content. A vampire story can still make great reading despite the rush and drivel of today's vampire-obsessed masses. Anne Rice, for all of her infamy and social cliche, is still a good writer. And "Interview with the Vampire" is an intensely deep, thought-provoking story.

Why don't you give it a try? Take a bite, as it were...(see what I did there? Yes, you may laugh or groan now...)

Until next time. Perhaps I will finish "Interview" before I write again. If so, we've got some legends and fairy tales on the way from other parts of the country...


Thursday, February 24, 2011

"Cordelia's Honor" by Lois McMaster Bujold

Hello again, everyone! Ready for book review number two? I promise I won't keep an obsessive count of all of these. Who would want to get three years into this and hear, "Ready for book review number three-hundred and fifty six?" Indeed. We'd all be tired of it by then.

I have recently just finished "Cordelia's Honor" by Lois McMaster Bujold, one anthology of many in The Vorkosigan series. It is comprised of two parts: "Shards of Honor" and "Barrayar", neatly and smoothly packaged up into one thick book. I was first introduced to these books by a friend and have been ravenous ever since. Though the anthology reaches 590 pages, this isn't a book that will take you three months to read. I think it took me about a week on top of all my other class work. It is one of those books that caught me thinking "Oh, I'll go to bed early tonight, I have a test tomorrow, yes, I'll be good and sleep.....but....I'm almost done....maybe just a little bit...."

And nearing one in the morning I realize that my eyes are crossing and I have to put the book down. Yes, people. One of *those* books! Sleep is for the weak in the face of this novel!!

This anthology is technically a science fiction novel (I know I know, I'm supposed to be reviewing *fantasy*). But, my friends, this is a book that even the most anti-science fiction among you will enjoy! Unlike some Asimov and Clark, you won't feel like you have to peel apart your brain in order to wrap it around some of the deeper physics of space travel and laser refraction, which has its own inherent attraction for those of us who like that sort of thing. In any case, for those of you who are straight up fantasy buffs, you simply have to try these books.

Following the family Vorkosigan and the inhabitants of the planet Barrayar, the novels are located in a post-colonization, space-travel era. Earth has long ago sent out its scientists and colonies, and interstellar travel as well as worm hole jumping is the main means of transportation between planets. Barrayar is one such planet, but here is where some of the fantastical humors come from. The society and customs of Barrayar are set back into a twist of futurism and an Earth-like Middle Ages. Due to a collapse of the worm hole that led the colonies to Barrayar, the planet experienced a Time of Isolation where they were forced, literally, to start from scratch, cut off from all the other planets in the systems-- Beta Colony, Cetaganda, Jackson's Whole, Athos, Escobar, among many others in between.

Lois McMaster Bujold is one of the most brilliant writers I have come upon in a long, long time. Her characterization and construction of identity, down to the last tidbit and hormone, is so incredibly flawless that you don't even realize she's doing it until you've become so incredibly invested, attached, and related to her characters that you literally can't put the book down. There is a beautiful flavor to her books-- you might hear me talk about books being like food often. A good, hard science fiction novel is for me like a rich, chocolate torte: decadent, but only truly enjoyable in small portions at a time. A really good fantasy is like a fragrant, full-bodied tea. And these books from Barrayar are very much like a savory, saucy meal...add in whatever sounds incredibly appetizing there, whether it be eggplant or tender chicken or both. And imagine you're starving. And imagine it's your birthday. And you just won a million dollars. Am I getting ridiculous yet? Good.

I have read one other anthology in the series, "Young Miles" which comes after "Cordelia's Honor". It doesn't matter what order you read these two in, I've found, but I really enjoyed reading "Young Miles" before its prelude. There are some delightful links between the two that I think are even more voraciously appreciated when the light bulb comes on after the fact. But by far, "Cordelia's Honor" is even better than the book that comes after it. Every page in this book is seeped with emotional power, whether it be charming warmth from the perfectly bizarre Lady and Lord Vorkosigan or hysterical misunderstanding between other lovers in the tale...or fierce, heart-wrenching fury, pain, action, and retribution. There is not a single main character in this book that is not either well-loved or well-hated by the end, but don't worry, there are plenty of side character to take the strain off your emotional well-being.

And each one of them is incredibly believable. Not one of the heroes is that overly perfect knight in shining armor, and the villains in their blackness are still incredibly human. Some people have mixed feelings about mixed characters, and in these books there is one who jumps to mind that may cause confusion: Sergeant Bothari. How you interpret his being is entirely up to each individual reader, but this strange character has got to be one of the tenderest, most thoughtful, ruthless madmen I have ever had the extreme pleasure to read about. See? You're interested already!! I'd go to a bookstore or check out about now if I were you.

I literally have nothing bad to say about this book. I only wish I could tell you more, but I dare not give away even one ounce of delicious plot. The length of each segment is neither too long nor too short, there are no page after page-long battle scenes with yawn-worthy descriptions of how metal twisted this or that way-- in fact they're realistically short. Death comes in an instant, and Bujold does a masterful job of describing a full battle in as much time as it would actually take while still packing in enough description and emotion to make it realistic. The characters are brilliantly sketched and fleshed out, each one hooking you deeper and deeper into the tale, and every word is a bead of water to thirsting lips.

I cannot wait to get my hands on another one of these anthologies. The next to come include "Miles, Mystery & Mayhem", "Miles Errant", "Miles, Mutants & Microbes", and "Miles in Love". As you can probably guess, the majority of these stories center around the being of Miles. Who is Miles?'ll just have to read and find out, now won't you?

Until next time, and next book. I believe on the horizon looms...vampires! And no, we're not talking Twilight here. Sheesh...


Sunday, February 13, 2011

In Memoriam

It was a very sad thing when I read that on February 5th, 2011, renowned author and storyteller Brian Jacques passed away. Upon reading the news, there were really no words. None whatsoever.

Brian Jacques has always been able to endear his readers, young and old, with his heroic, comical, and sinister characters. His baddies are bad, his victors are real, his descriptions vivid and textured. The red stones of the Abbey were something I imagined I could feel under my fingers, the great depths of Mossflower Wood a haven I often found myself wandering through, the vast oceans and plains and the great Badger Lords' mountain, Salamandastron, all new worlds that wide-eyes were never tired of looking upon. I cried when the heroes died, even when some of the more tragic villains died, like Veil. I bit my lips and cringed when the villains got too close to the heroes, or when they overcame them, and I bounced up and down in delight whenever the good guys triumphed. And who didn't drool whenever there was a great Redwall feast held? I wanted to eat Deeper'n'Ever Turnip'n'Tater'n'Beetroot Pie, strawberry fizz, Hot Root Soup, breads, cheeses, Skilly and Duff, scones, turnovers, Meadowcream, crystalized fruits, tarts, puddings, muffins, cordial, oat cakes...the list goes on and on, and even though I don't like some of the things in real life that were mentioned, I wanted to try them all nonetheless!

I first picked up a Jacques novel when I was in elementary school. Having exhausted the books at home-- including my father's massive, leather-bound "Complete Works of Jack London", which all of the other students thought I was mad to be lugging around, much less reading-- I was slowly working my way through my school library, from The Unicorn Chronicles to The Bobbsey Twins to The Arkadians to anything else that I could put my hands on (except, of course, for the huge, green-bound novel that I initially came upon in excitement at its size only to turn away in disdain when I discovered it was about baseball...) Finally I found the 'J' section, to the right of the entrance, at the very bottom, and there were the Redwall books. Not all of them, mind you, but some of the first few, including Redwall, Mariel of Redwall, Mattimeo, Mossflower, Marlfox, and The Legend of Luke. I don't remember which one I read first, but it didn't matter. I was hooked from there on out and began pouring through them, purchasing the books whenever I had the money or whenever a new novel was released.

I liked Mattimeo and The Legend of Luke extremely well, but Taggerung was always my favorite. I got the book just about as soon as it came out: sleek, hardcover, with its gorgeous cover art of Tag in full villainous splendor wielding his knife in the river. I don't know why, exactly, but the strange tragedy and power behind the story captivated me like none had yet. And the main character being an otter was even greater cause for my cheer-- the otters were always my favorite, other than the squirrels and the hares and the foxes.What makes this book so special to me even today, however, is a certain signature on the inside cover.

I don't even remember when-- if I was still in middle school or already in high school at the time-- but at one point before I moved up to Atlanta, Brian Jacques himself came to my little home town of Peachtree City and held a signing and storytelling at the local Books-A-Million. He had such a big, vivid personality, even while being so gentle, and his stories were hysterical and free-flowing. I remember he told us a childhood tale of his own when he and a friend sneaked a cat (and themselves) into a movie theater, only to have the cat go berserk in the middle of the film, revealing their hidden presence. Then we all stood and went in line for him to sign our books with a flourish and a cheerful joke that at the beginning of the day he had nine-dinitis, and at the end of the day he'd have eleven-dinitis (instead of tendinitis, you know? Get it, get it?) I remember he commented on the fact that my book already had a name signed in it-- I was still at that point in my life in the habit of writing my name at the top of all the inside covers of my books, seeing as how I lent them out so often and was adamant that I get them back. And even though I only met him once, he left a big impression on me.

Brian Jacques' books will always be a treasure to whoever read them. Their magic and marvel will be something that I will share with young people I know until I am no longer around, and if I have children, I will pass down my own, well-worn novels for them to enjoy. I was recently inspired to revamp my collection, to fill in the spots that were books my sister had and I did not, and to buy all the newer volumes that I never purchased or read since my interests turned around the time of Triss. It is definitely on my list of in-process to-dos, and I look forward to reading High Rhulain, the first 'new' book to come into my possession since beginning that project.

Rest in peace, Brian Jacques. You'll be sorely missed. But your voice and your lands and your stories will resonate long, long into the ages. Thank you for that.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

"The Bards of Bone Plain" by Patricia A. McKillip

Hello everyone! Ready for the first book review?

So...Patrica A. McKillilp is an acclaimed author of fantasy stories large and small. She's a World Fantasy Award winner and a pure chef with words. Try reading any of her books-- you can literally taste the vocabulary! (And no, it's not the same as tasting the rainbow, so put those Skittles down.) By far my favorite in her collection is "Winter Rose", a slender novel that I read every year. If you hate winter and spend the frigid season's days bemoaning the distance of spring, this is definitely a book you will enjoy. McKillip's descriptions of early spring's frothy scents, heady summer's plum storms, and darkest winter's stabbing cold are about as beautiful and accurate as you can get, filling every paragraph with such unique turns of phrase and uses of detail that I sigh with envy every time I read it. The main heroine roams the woods night and day, collecting whatever forest delicacies catch her fancy; but one day she stumbles across an open woodland doorway that she thought was closed. And someone has already come through. It's a riveting story that drags the breath and heart out of you-- a must read for any lover of fantasy. Besides, the heroine goes just about everywhere during the warm seasons in what I consider to be the best possible manner: barefoot.

Enough said.

Anyway. I have recently finished reading McKillip's newest book, "The Bards of Bone Plain." The Las Vegas Review-Journal describes it with: "McKillip creates a wonderful world...magical yet realistic, as if a door in any house could take readers into another realm created from the very best of their imaginations." The story follows a few different characters across many different realms of time and space, but the main focus remains with the young bard Phelan who is finishing up his studies at the ancient school on the hill for music. To graduate, every young bard must write a final paper. (The story of our scholarly lives, isn't it? Woe to us!) Attempting to find a topic that will be easy and short, Phelan chooses to research the mysterious legend of Bone Plain-- a magical series of trials that, should a bard attempt them, offer intense reward beyond all imagination...and crippling punishment beyond all nightmares. Along the way he will discover more about the Unforgiven bard Nairn-- one who attempted the trials and failed all three-- than he had ever imagined possible upon the beginning of his research. He will also tread on the truth in music beyond what he sees as notes and lyrics on a page-- what some students call passion and others label 'magic'.

Of course I won't tell you the ending. What would be the fun in that?

The story is surprising until the very end. If you're like me and can usually see a twist coming in a story from a mile away unless it is completely and utterly unhinted at, you might be able to tell a few things towards the middle. But don't worry-- you won't figure anything out at the very beginning unless you're either ridiculously brilliant or psychic. The characters are well developed and intriguing, some likable, some not. This is an odd novel in particular because, while I came away liking some of the heroes and definitely disliking the villains, I remained rather indifferent to our friend Phelan at the close. I think that in this case the indifference I felt was intentional, as Phelan's personality seemed to hint at that reception throughout the book. However I don't quite agree with the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "The Bards of Bone Plain" did not transport me or rivet me as some of McKillip's other books, such as "Winter Rose" and "Ombria in Shadow," did.

If you're wanting to read a book by McKillip, I would not suggest this as the first with which to whet your appetite. I found "The Bards of Bone Plain" to be an intriguing story but a bit weary in its layout and style. McKillip allowed herself to fall into personal cliches (remember, we'll talk about these more in depth later!), not only from her previous books but also within the pages of this particular story. Her description can be a double edged sword-- it's so brilliant that you never forget her more interesting combinations of adjective and noun, and as such every time she uses the same variables over and over again they are not missed. I thought if I read her describe music as 'melting her/his heart' one more time I might just scream; same with the notes resonating into the characters' bones. Unfortunately in some of her less brilliant stories McKillilp is prone to this quite a bit, and I found much of her descriptions over used and overly sappy in this particular tale. And while I love McKillip's stories and writing style, the plot of this novel did not engage me enough to probably add this to my re-read list.

Other books by McKillip include "The Book of Atrix Wolfe," "Ombria in Shadow," "Od Magic," "The Bell at Sealey Head," and the Riddle Master trilogy, among many others. In that list I can personally vouch for "Ombria in Shadow" and "Od Magic" as being good reads with "Ombria in Shadow" ranking a little higher in quality of story, character, and flow than "Od Magic."

That's all for now! Here's hoping to an early spring this year! *brrr!*


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Writer Frustration

Being a writer, just like being any kind of artist, is hard.

Now, I'm not saying that being a mathematician or a brain surgeon or a psychologist isn't hard.

But being an artist is hard.

To a certain degree, certain talents and jobs within the math or science realm can be quantified without belonging to a "fuzzy set" (See what I did there? Aren't you proud of me? I'm a bit proud of myself....) I should throw in the disclaimer that many of these observations are coming from someone who is not in the 'quantifiable' studies so feel free to pipe in at any time on this. But, usually, and I *really* mean usually here, (I managed to take AP Calculus, my friends)...math problems: there's a right answer, there's a wrong answer, yes? And if you get the answer right then you get an "A" on the test.

These are poor, very basic examples, but you get my drift.

Writing requires not only a thick skin, perseverance, stubbornness, and a little bit of insanity, but also self-confidence. Loads of it. Because unless we have that, all we're basing our "A's" on is what other people think of us and tell us about our writing. There is no 'correct' way to write beyond the general rules of grammar and syntax. So it's really all based on conjecture and opinion. And I don't know how many times people have told me, when I explained my future plans to them, to practice my lines: "Would you like fries with that?"

Advice like that, whether serious or not, infuriates me. Especially when it has come from people who call themselves my friends. Never let someone step on your dreams. They may be dreams that require the moon, they may be dreams that just require a book in your hands with your name on it: being able to hold that novel between your fingers and think, hey, look at that. That's me. I never did think my name would look good in print, but what do you know. It's kind of...catchy. To have people across the world read your work-- or just the people in your's a tiny miracle, isn't it? I imagine so. And even then, what people like that don't realize is that writers will *always* have work, one way or another. Who was it who wrote the application that allowed the waitress to get a job at the restaurant to ask if you'd like fries with that? Hm.

Here's something I've learned about the world: there will *always* be somebody better than you. Faster, stronger, smarter, better with words; whatever it may be that you are striving towards, driving as hard as you can towards being your best and your all, you are going to meet that person who just blows you out of the water. No contest, they're just *good*, and it always seems like they're just like that naturally. Almost like they're that good just to spite you (dramatization alert).

Well let me tell you. People work hard. I do believe in raw talent, but people work hard. Every single person I have ever been envious of in their art, or their writing, or their whatever, has worked day and night on it from that one moment they found that passion. They haven't given up, they haven't listened when someone tried to tell them to quit or try something else, they haven't let criticism get them down. Because admit it-- even the most constructive criticism can be hard to hear.

The main problem with writing that I have struggled with has actually been a recent development. I wrote for a good five years before I ever encountered it. Self-esteem. Self-worth. Talent. Where does it come from and how can it be defined? Do you have it just because you say you do, or is it dependent upon others? Or is it a mix of both?

It is *so* easy to brush off the compliments and encouragement given by family and friends. Oh, they're biased...they don't really mean it...they don't want to hurt your feelings. But when they give criticism, oh, they're being, if your family doesn't even like your stuff, you really have no talent...give up now, you're never going to make it into a career or even a hobby...find something else to do. And then when someone who you think 'should know' criticizes you, it feels like the end of the world.

And if they gave you praise, what then? Would you feel instantly better about yourself? Or just until the next critic came along?

You will never please everyone, my friends. Something I have learned today-- within the past few hours, actually-- is that your fans are your fans, no matter who they are. So what if your family and friends are the only ones who like your work? They're readers too, and their opinions matter just as much as the next person. And if they're the only ones who ever like your work, is that not still precious? Are they lessened because they don't have a horde of ecstatic fans backing them? I don't think so.

Today I was told I needed to 'practice writing'. At first it made me laugh a little, just at the irony of it. Then I became a bit depressed. I thought, I *have* been practicing. I've been practicing for eight years. If those years aren't showing through, then what in the world am I doing? I thought I was an OK writer. Maybe even a good one. And then the silliness of that hit me.

Eight years. That's not even a decade. In the writer's world, I am a child just learning to put words together like macaroni beads on a piece of dental floss. And many of us are so, so young. We look at young authors who got 'discovered' and we think-- that could be me. I should be able to do that. I can do that. And I've had family members tell me I should: why can't that be you, they say? Well, in all actuality, it *could* be me. I'm not saying it's impossible. But the chances of it are a lot like winning the lottery. The majority of Americans, at some point in their lives, say they want to write a book. The percentage of those who actually do is very small, and the percentage of those who actually get published is even less (don't quote me on this because I don't remember where I read this and I can't find the book at the moment, but I think it's something like 80% say they want to write a book, about 10% actually do, and then less than 1% actually get published, something like that...) Hence, the lottery.

But has that stopped me from trying? Has that stopped any of us?

But back to the point. I'm young. Sure I've been 'practicing' for eight years. But I've got about 70 years, give or take, of writing left in me, maybe, if my mind holds together. And if medicine continues to advance like it is, why not? That is a long time. And even then, even when I'm 40 or 50-- will I be done growing? Is there a magic age where, *ding!* you've reached your peak, you're now the writer you have been craving to be and from now on will always be?

No! I guarantee you that when I'm 40 I'm going to be looking at my work thinking-- that can be better, I wonder how I can rewrite that, and then ten years down the road I'll look at it again and think, oh my, I can't believe I ever wrote as poorly as that. We are always growing and changing, from day to day. We are always practicing writing, with everything we do, every scribble we put down on paper. So really, the advice to 'practice writing' is very good advice. It's encouragement. Keep doing what you're doing. Work more often, work harder. Don't give up.

So I'm going to practice writing. I'm going to keep on keeping on, as it were.

There are thorns on the road and rough stones. We can't wear our shoes because that would ruin them (the logic makes sense, don't question it). Our feet will get dirty, cracked; they will bleed; they will ache.

But I will dance nonetheless, searching out my story, down the gravel road towards the willow tree that awaits me. And I do hope that you will dance with me.

That's all for now friends. We'll talk again soon!


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Beginning

In the bright, sparkling world of today, almost everything is dependent upon some kind of technology. It makes a margin of sense, mostly: emails and Facebook save time and resources that would otherwise be spent sending a hand-written letter. Cellphones make it so you can call on the go rather than wait to get home or use a pay phone to contact the Otherverse (as in humans). The list goes on and on, and many despair over some uses technology has come to and how it has caused a kind of degeneration of the mind (chat and text speech, for example, showing up in high school essays, or the fact that students are no longer being taught to write in cursive because everything is typed these days and font settings can do that for you. I personally dislike the Kindle, or whatever it is they're calling it these days, because I am partial to the smell of books, new and old, and all the crisp secrets that they hide within their pages. Bookbinding is an altogether special kind of magic for me.)

Well. Everything in moderation, I say. I personally would rather send an email than give a phone call-- if I am talking to someone, I want it face to face so that I can see eyes, expressions, not just my wall as I try to hash through a bodiless conversation over a phone. But I digress...

Either way, the world revolves increasingly around the internet and electronic media. That means that classes are being held online, interviews are being held over Skype, and yes, potential employers could even be looking at your Facebook.

Or your blog.....*ding!*

Hello everyone! This is Maudlin's Shoes. It's going to be a bit of an experiment for me in many ways. First of all, we'll see if I can get any consistent readers with what I have to say-- that in and of itself, too, will be an adventure...what I have to say, I mean. But we'll get to that in a minute. The main purpose of this blog comes in a set of three: blogs can be useful for those in the writing world to prove workmanship, originality, scheduling, etc. That last can also be part two of the purpose: as a writer it is important to write every day, or, barring those of us still in school who have twenty essays a month to turn in (I exaggerate), at least once a week, as will be the chronology of this blog. The more you write, the more you want to write, and the better your skills become. I will be using this blog not only to explore my own opinions but also as a kite onto which I can tie my other projects, letting the breeze and updraft pull the rest out of the shlump they have been reduced to through work and priority.

No matter how busy we get, writers, our own work should *never* be reduced to the lowest priority.

So we now come to the last purpose of this blog: writing. My special love is fantasy and most of what I discuss will therefore follow in that genre's footsteps. From book and short story reviews, the pros and cons of fantasy creatures, personal cliches, writer versus writer, methods and theories, on entering the big, scary world of writing (as I am currently a student headed that way, it'll be rather fresh for all of us!) as well as fantasy across the cultures, from Ireland to Japan to China to Atlanta, GA...well, you get the idea. I'm sure we'll come up with much more as we go along.

But why is this blog called Maudlin's Shoes? The title is based off of a poem called "Tom o' Bedlam", a 17th century (at the latest) poem about wandering madmen-- or Bedlam Boys. The first stanza goes:
For to see Mad Tom of Bedlam,
Ten thousand miles I've traveled.
Mad Maudlin goes on dirty toes,
For to save her shoes from gravel.

You can read more about Tom of Bedlam under that first link there on the side. But Mad Maudlin is the character here that I'm interested in. There have been many times I've considered myself, from an outside eye, as a rather mad-looking character wandering the woods barefoot, and in my more Romantic, imaginative times I could see myself filling those footsteps: barefoot, following the wind, living by the air like the Bonny Mad Boys...

So save your shoes, my friends. There are many pebbles to consider between here and whatever destination it is we're headed towards. Tie them up with a sash around your waist and get your feet dirty. It's time to feel the bare stones, mud, and grass beneath your feet....

Until next time!