The Wild Blue Yonder

Tomorrow I embark on an adventure that I’ve been planning for years.

Lake Chelan sunset(Lake Chelan, Washington state)

I feel like Bilbo Baggins at the beginning of the first Hobbit movie, when he’s running through Hobbiton screaming, “I’m going on an adventure!”

Tomorrow, I’ll be up at the armpit of dawn to haul off to the west. I’m leaving from the northern part of Michigan’s lower peninsula to begin the trek out to Washington state, the first state on my list of places I want to see.

Most of you know I’m a physical therapist, and I’m blessed to be able to travel my job, and get paid pretty well doing it. I hope to see a majority of the country in the next few years.

In no particular order, the list of states I want to work in are:

Washington (duh, since I’m headed there, right?)

Texas

Massachusetts

South Carolina

Montana

Idaho

Maine

Arizona

Louisiana

North Carolina

Hawaii

Alaska

From these states, I will be able to see almost all of the country because most places will be within driving distance or a short flight if I want to visit another state I’m not working in. Even Canada or Mexico if I wanted.

And yes, I really could go to Hawaii and Alaska whenever I wanted. Awesome, right? I certainly think so.

If I’m ever in your area, I’m going to invite myself over to visit. You’ll just have to deal with it.

I’m looking forward to driving across this beautiful country of ours (for my American compatriots) almost as much as I’m looking forward to actually getting to my endpoint.

And I’m SO excited to see new natural grandeur. If there’s one thing that inspires my writing more than anything else, it’s being surrounded by nature. And a change of scenery gets me on writing rampages.

While I’m in Washington, I’ll be working and living in Cle Elum, which is just over an hour east of Seattle in the Cascade Mountains. Sounds faboo, right? I also plan on hitting Seattle quite a few times, as well as Puget Sound, the San Juan Islands, Vancouver, Snoqualmie Falls, Mt. Rainier, Oregon, maybe even northern California to see the redwoods.

Any other suggestions from my west coast bloggy buddies?

“Off I go, into the wild blue yonder, off I go, into the sea!” Well… you know what I mean.

Happy writing, friends!

“The world is a book, and those who don’t travel only read one page.”
― Augustine of Hippo

“All travel has its advantages. If the passenger visits better countries, he may learn to improve his own, and if fortune carries him to worse, he may learn to enjoy it.”
― Samuel JohnsonA Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland and The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides

“Everything I was I carry with me, everything I will be lies waiting on the road ahead.”
― Ma JianRed Dust: A Path Through China

Because I’m Lazy and Need to Update… A Questionnaire

Hey, yo!

Man, this updating stuff is something that’s been on my mind all week. I feel terrible that I haven’t updated more on here. I really miss interacting more with my WP buddies, but time is a nasty you-know-what.

I was over on bluechickenninja’s blog just now, and she posted a really cool questionnaire that she snagged from a fellow blogger, as well.

So, since my brain is mush from my new job and getting so much writing done (yay!), I’m going to do the questionnaire.

Not that anybody really cares to know this crap about me, but I like doing questionnaires, so you’re all going to suffer.

Here we go!

Reader (I’m adding writer) Questionnaire:

1. What is your favourite book?

My favorite book ever is not something that I can narrow down. There are too many amazing choices. I’ll include a few that just pop up continually: Lord of the Rings (obvious if you actually read my blog), Anne of Green Gables (also obvious), The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Flowers for Algernon, Persuasion, The Princess, Forevermore, umm… umm… I like so many others, too. Gah!

2. What are your goals? For the year? For your life?

My goal for the year is to finish the massive re-write of my first book and get an agent. Also, I need to finish the first draft of the second book in that series. My goals for life are vast. I have too many to list here, but I’ll say I want to be published, adopt a bunch of kids, and be happy.

3. Are you a writer? If so, tell me about your work. 
Yes. My work is varied, depending on what you’re talking about. The piece I’m working on right now is a series of books for the middle grade market (7-12 year-olds). It’s a fantasy based around a young girl and her friends who are part of an ancient race of beings who protect humans and the Earth. It follows them for a few years and we watch as they battle “the bad guy,” each other, and themselves.

4. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Everywhere. I want to see it all.

5. What was the last movie you saw in the theatre and was it worthwhile?
The last movie I saw in the theatre was The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. I’m sorry to say I was extremely disappointed in all three of those movies. The acting was good, and most of the digital effects, but I’m sorry. I am a HUGE fan of the book and all of J.R.R. Tolkien’s writing on Middle Earth and everything else. The amount of changes they made to the storyline was RIDICULOUS! I was so mad because Peter Jackson is an amazingly talented man. Why did he let this nonsense go on? Yes, they took information from the indices, but much of what was changed wasn’t even in those! Yagh! The Hobbit is an awesome story without all the added goop. The Lord of the Rings are my all-time favorite movies, so I had high expectations and hopes for The Hobbit movies. They didn’t come anywhere close to my expectations.

6. I’m curious, are there any books that you’ve tried to read and simply couldn’t finish? This is a no judgement zone.
Yes, I’m sure there are many. I can’t stand forcing myself to finish I book I despise, unless it’s for school. But honestly, I enjoyed pretty much all the books I was assigned for reading. There are too many other books out there to waste my time reading something that doesn’t hold my attention. Twilight was one of them. *Shudder* Blech. I rolled my eyes about a dozen times in the first two chapters. I never finished any of them.

I know there are more, but that’s the most memorable one that comes to mind.

7. Are you currently working on a new book/project right now? If it’s secret, you don’t have to tell me about it. If so, however, I hope it’s going well.
I already talked about my re-write for my first book. That’s the major project. I have about 12 other books in the making, all in various stages of completion, so occasionally my mind wanders to one of them and I get sidetracked from my main project. My other writing projects range from Christian fiction/romance, to children’s books (think under seven years old), to murder mystery, to non-fiction books on Christianity, to comedies, to historical fiction… It’s an awesome list of projects and I love them all, but it’s definitely overwhelming.

8. If you could live in any of your favourite books, which one would you choose?

This is difficult because there are so many books I love. Middle Earth is probably my first choice (LOTR), but it’s a close tie to Prince Edward island, where Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables) grew up. I’d also love to live for a time in Jane Austen’s England. Many people tell me I was born 200 years too late, so that would put me right about in the correct time period.

9. Are there any book-to-movie adaptations that you think are just incredible? That you absolutely hated?

I think LOTR was amazing. Yes, they changed things, but the story pretty much stayed on track. The cinematography and special effects were groundbreaking for the time. It won a million awards, and rightly so.

My least favorite adaptation is the third Anne of Green Gables movie. The man who owns the rights to the stories mucked it all up. The first two were good, a bit off, but nothing completely unforgivable. The last one was horrendously off-story. The writer/director basically made an entirely new story to suit himself. I love the characters and the acting was great, but I’m ashamed of Kevin Sullivan and his wanton abuse of the success of L.M. Montgomery’s magnificent books.

10. What do you look for in a book that you want to read? What’s the first thing to capture your attention?

Sometimes it’s the cover. Especially for kids books. I read a lot of them because that’s the age-range I write for, and if the cover is boring, kids won’t pick it up.

For other books, it’s the synopsis and the first page or two. If I roll my eyes even once during the synopsis, I put the book back. If I’m not hooked after two or three pages, I set the book down (assuming I’m in a bookstore). Sometimes I’ll read two or three chapters just to see if it gets better, but if not, I won’t finish it.

11. If you’re an author, what do you do when you first get an idea for a book?

I get ideas at the most inopportune times. Usually in the shower, while I’m driving, or when I’m at work. None of these times are conducive to writing something down, so if I can’t do that, I say the idea in my head over and over again. If I’m near my ever-present notebook, I’ll write down as much as I can on the topic. If I’m driving, I’ll pull out the dictation app on my phone and talk away until I’ve exhausted the creative juices.

I have waited too long and lost the idea for a book. That makes me nuts. Usually it’s a dream or some passing thought while I’m driving and I don’t get it down quick enough, thinking “Oh, I’ll remember on my own.” Pfft. Not.

12. How do you feel about different genres? Romance? YA? Sci-Fi? Poetry? Do you have any favorites? Any least-favourites?

I love many genres. Middle grade fiction (what I write), fantasy over sci-fi, fiction over non-fiction. Prose over poetry.

I’ve read a little of everything. I love the classics. And magical realism.

13. If you could meet any writer in the world, dead or alive, who would it be?

J.R.R. Tolkien. No question. The man was a genius. He created multiple FULL languages that people can actually learn and speak. He also crafted the most historically complex and detailed modern epic fantasy masterpiece. I’d love to pick his brain.

14. Do you prefer Fiction or Non-Fiction?
Fiction.

15. Are there any characters that everyone loves that you can’t stand? Or vice versa?

I despise Marianne Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility. I honestly don’t know how anyone could like her. Also, Bella Swan from Twilight. She is the epitome of what a main character ought NOT to be.

16. What do you like to do besides reading/writing?
I sing. I’m a die-hard Detroit Red Wings fan. I like movies. I love to travel. Having dinner with friends. Exploring someplace new.

17. If you could be remembered for one thing, what would it be?

I’d just like to have made a positive influence on someone’s life. I’d love it if someone told me, near the end of my life, that being friends/enemies/co-workers/neighbors with me changed their life for the better, I’d die the happiest person on Earth.

Does that sound too self-absorbed? Oh, well.

18. What is your favourite guilty pleasure book?
Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie

19. Do you have a reading goal set for this year?
I never make reading goals. I usually read well over 100 each year, so it seems pointless to make a goal for more than that.

20. Tell me anything about yourself that I haven’t asked. Random fact. Weird human trick. Whatever.

I have GPS fingers. Seriously. If you tell me something hurts, even a vague spot, I will be able to put my fingers exactly on the spot causing pain. Part of that is my career as a physical therapist, but I know other PTs who aren’t as good at that.

Listen to me boast. 🙂 GPS fingers. That’s an Amy-ism right there. It’s a thing.

Ergh! Enough about me. I’d like to hear about you! Feel free to steal away and let me read all these lovely things about you.

Happy writing!

Top Ten Tuesday – Books To Give Away

It’s that day again!

Top Ten Tuesday

This week’s Top Ten list by the lovely people at The Broke and the Bookish is a topic that took me some time to think about. It was Top Ten Books I’d Give to Readers Who Have Never Read X. Over at their blog, they picked historical fiction. In a similar fashion, I’m going to pick the Classics. Top Ten Books I’d Give to Readers Who Have Never Read the Classics.

1. Shakespeare. Shakespeare, Shakespeare, ANYTHING Shakespeare! I know this isn’t a book per se, but he is my top pick for anything classical. I especially love his sonnets, but I know poetry isn’t for everyone. My favorite play is Macbeth, which is much darker and brooding than my normal taste allows for. I’ve never read anything by Shakespeare I didn’t like. I understand the classics aren’t for everyone, but I think we all enjoy a good spooky story. Macbeth is a great place to start.

2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Many modern authors have criticizes Jane’s writing, but she was a female author in the early 1800s… of course she’d write about love and gossip and scandal and family. Although Pride and Prejudice isn’t my favorite Austen book, it is the favorite of the general population. What I think appeals more to people who may not like the classics is the stupidity of the Bennet women and their antics. I’m excluding Jane and Lizzie, of course. It’s hilarious to watch these women make fools of themselves. The humor in that book, alone, makes it worth the read. 

3. The Divine Comedy/Dante’s Inferno by Dante Alighieri. Instead of reading the actual work, which is quite difficult, I’d go ahead and pick up a modernized version of it so that it makes sense. When I first read it, I had to write down everything that didn’t make sense to me and look it up. Let’s just say it was a long read. But if you get, say, this version, it’ll be easier to read. Many current literary experts agree that the two most prominent writers of classical literature are Dante and Shakespeare. Dante’s work is dark and imaginative, and I always learn some tidbit about creativity and writing from it. 

4. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – I’m not really sure if he’s considered a classical author, but I consider him to be one. These books/stories are a lot easier for people who don’t like classical literature to swallow. They’re generally pretty short, and have a certain storytelling rhythm that’s repeated in each tale (the adventure/mystery happens, then the backstory is explained for the reason behind it). It’s fairly straightforward stuff, but fun to read and extraordinary in detail. If you know anything about Sherlock, it’s how smart he is and how much he notices every little detail. That comes through in the books in a subtle way, and it’s brilliant.

5. 1984 by George Orwell. I read this book in high school and was completely weirded out by it. I’m even more so now because of how much written in that book is now coming to fruition. Big Brother, indeed. He was spot on. It’s not a difficult read, nor is it overly long. One of my faves, for sure.

6. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. This was my favorite book in high school. I couldn’t even pinpoint why. It was depressing most of the time, but such an easy and interesting read. It was originally a short story, but then later turned into a novel. For those who haven’t heard of it, the story centers around Algernon, a laboratory mouse who has experimental surgery to make him more intelligent. His changes are recorded and observed by Charlie Gordon, who is mentally disabled, and the first human subject in the experiment. What happens to Algernon eventually happens to Charlie, and it’s a testimony to the human condition and the morality/ethics of human and animal experimentation. I consider it a bit satiric, which I like in the classics.

7. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. This is a must read for everyone, whether they like the classics or not. Atticus Finch imparts some crazy good philosophy and is a moral hero for many people. It’s a quote-worthy book unlike many others.

8. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. For those of you who’ve followed me for a while, you’ll know that he is one of my favorite authors and has influenced my writing the most (along with L.M. Montgomery). I wouldn’t recommend LOTR to people who haven’t read the classics because it’s much meatier and harder to get into. But The Hobbit is a fast read full of adventure, and it opens up the world of Middle Earth and all the wonder of Tolkien’s genius. 

9. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. She, along with Tolkien, are the writers I admire the most. However, the story of a young orphan girl who has a tendency to rant on and on in long soliloquies is not for the faint of heart. It’s set in Canada in the late 1800s, early 1900s, and follows the hilarious antics of an orphan who gets herself into a lot of trouble because she’s so curious and full of life. She’s my favorite literary heroine, and always will be.

10. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Another gritty, morally enlightening book that puts things into perspective on how we treat people who are different than us. It’s set in Puritanical Massachusetts in the mid 1600s, so you can imagine how people acted and how they talked. But it’s not a long book, and there are a lot of good lessons to be learned. 

 

Wow. That was hard. There are so many other classic books I would love to recommend: Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, The Secret Garden, Moby Dick, The Phantom of the Opera, Little Women, The Count of Monte Cristo… the list could go on for pages.

What do you think of my choices? Do you like the classics or would you ever consider reading them? Why or why not? I used to hate them, myself, but now I can’t get enough of them!

Happy writing!