Friday, December 12

Lots of Goings On...

Posted by Shelly Holder

Whew! Have these past couple of weeks been hectic or what? So much so that, unfortunately, lots of things... blog, website, writing, reading, etc etc etc. have fallen WAY behind. WAY, WAY, behind. Now, hopefully, I'm back to a place that encourages a return to routine, and all will be well again. (hahhahahaha, like I'm ever going to sucessfully post every single day, no matter what place I'm in)

Well, I have tragic news to report. My bags were lost in transit as I went on vacation last week, and still are yet to be found. Hope is growing dim for their recovery, and I'm mourning the loss of some of my favorite clothing and makeup items. But most especially, mourning the lost of all my journals!!! I can't believe it, can't believe how stupid I was to trust my journals to a checked bag instead my carry-on like normal! So I've lost my journal, my writing calender, my book release calender, and my notes journal. Argh! I think I might even have lost my regular ole school calender, but I'm not for sure. I'm so peeved!!!! Finally, finally I thought I had things under control and worked out, and boom!!! Loss of all hope. The airlines is giving me a hundred bucks compensation, but I don't care! I want my bags! (*tearsofrage*)


So, to focus on the positive. (No wait, there is none. Ok, yes there is. But I wish there wasn't.)
I found an older book of Lilith Saintcrow's in B&N the other day, which was way exciting. I also found a new release in a series that I had been following, as well as three new authors, giving me hope for the literary state of Barnes and Nobles. And it's December 12th, which means it's just that much closer to spring '09, when the new Ilona Andrews book comes out. (*drool*) Can't wait. And the next Lilith Saintcrow releace in August '09. Oh, yummy. 2009 is gonna be a great year.

Well, I think that covers most of the happenin's. See y'all tomorrow!

Right now:
What I'm listening to: The TV in the next room over. Indistinct, white noise.
What I want most: The sequel to Steelflower. Come on, Lilith Saintcrow, hurry up! lol.

Monday, November 24


Posted by Shelly Holder

Argh... I think I just hit a wall. Psychological, most likely, of course, but a wall nevertheless. I have seriously run out of topics to pursue, and my creative bug died unexpectedly today in the middle of some mental stretching. Quite sad. It was going so perfectly too. I've had a mental image of a young woman haunting me for a week or so, and I've been dying to get her drawn out on paper. A challenging task, when you realize that I've had no formal or informal training, and have sketched only a handful of times in my life. But today she finally convinced me, and I sat down to draw. I actually am very happy with the result- not exactly what I envisaged in my head, but definitely representational enough. I even paired her picture with a song that invokes the themes that went with my mental image. Very lucky. I have the themes for the entire book, already written out for inspiration! And then my play-list changed, and a new song came on, my mental image changed from a stationary pose to a one of mid-movement, and boom!- everything fled. My mental image gone, the inspiration from the song lack-luster, the drive to eke my creation out on paper disappeared... Maybe I'll take a bit of a break and do some stretches in the other direction. I have a couple of writing magazines that I haven't read yet, and sadly, I still haven't even started the research on my serial, much less actually start writing, so I think I'll dedicate tonight to the behind the scenes maintenance work. I have some contests coming up as well, and I have nothing written, and sadly nothing in storage available either, so that means starting from scratch, and I think I've been stressing about that. So I'll just take a step back, take a deep breath, and start again tomorrow.

In a magazine I read earlier today there was mention of this program, supposedly the Netflix of magazines. I think I'll check that out, maybe use it for tomorrow's post. Hopefully the funk I'm in will have disappeared before then.......

Right Now:
What I'm listening to: The news in on in the background, but all I'm hearing is the throb of my headache....
What I want most: Ooh. Tough one. Energy, I think. A re-boot and the download of an updated version of myself. lol

Sunday, November 23

To Book or Not to Book?

Posted by Shelly Holder

So as the resident English major spending a lot of time with her family around the holidays, I get asked a lot if I've heard about the Kindle, the product that downloads eBooks and magazines to handheld device. The Kindle has been getting a lot of praise lately due to a relatively recent endorsement by Oprah, which .... well, this post is about a different topic.

Now I actually own a different device, Sony's eReader. Before my purchase I researched both the Kindle and the eReader, and what I found was that the eReader dealt specifically with eBooks, while the Kindle was geared more towards the daily uploads of magazines, journals, and blogs. Some eBooks were available for the Kindle, but the device design was not geared towards that concept. I choose the eReader.

Which leads to the question that has been shuttling around literary circles for the past several years- will the trend of eBooks and handheld devices make books obsolete, like tape cassettes and VCRs?

Well, any literary afficiendo is going to immediately say no, nothing will destroy the love for actually holding a book, feeling the pages, smelling the paper and ink, bending the spine. But others have been recognizing the potential in eBooks.

I personally love my eReader, but in a surprising way. I have not actually uploaded my library contents to the handheld device, and I made the purchase over a year ago. I actually have really enjoyed being able to access the eBooks straight on my computer. The screen is bi-sected, to resemble the layout of a book, and can be adjusted to font size preference. The arrow key controls page turning. It was a little unusual at first, but I have really enjoyed the extreme accessability and the conveniance of having a virtual library on my computer. I have downloaded several favorites as well as some classics and new finds. I am currently carrying around 30 books in my laptop, and another 20 on the desktop. That's about 100 pounds, four boxfuls, and 10,000 pages that are not, completely portable and available to read spur of the moment. Going to school and living in a dorm room meant that I really have to downgrade in living amenities, but with the eReader I have access to all of my favorite books with out also needing the storage space.

I also really enjoy the opportunity to discover new books. Publication of eBooks is limited, and the choice of books in the eReader store is accordingly limited. Some authors are only partially represented, while others are not available at all. So it forces you to be creative. Bundle packages are also nice, bringing series to the forefront through discounted prices for the entire collection of titles. Because there is no labor and printing costs, the eBooks are also cheaper, usually by 2 to 3 dollars, so authors that would not be considered worth a risk in the full-priced bookstore are now viable options, and I've discovered many good names that way.

Of course there are downsides. The instant downloads are very bad for my pocketbook, enabling me to get caught up in impulse buys and bulk purchases. But really, is that truly a downside??? =)

So I would recommend that you check out the eBooks. Sony's program is available for download without the purchase of an eReader. I won't say anything corny like it's the way of the future, but it's definitely a modern convience, and I don't regret it's invention. Besides, I would never abandon my library. It's the convience of taking the entire library will me while I travel that holds the draw. Because is it really the act of reading a book, or the words of the book that constitutes the reading experience?

Thursday, November 20

Help for the Hopeful Literary Afficienado

Posted by Shelly Holder

First of all, I would like to mention that travel is not condusive towards anything other than travel itself, and especially not towards blogging. Perhaps because all original thought is stamped out early on, starting at the curb where "White zones are for immediate loading and unloading of passenders only" and only ending at the same curb however many miles or countries away. But I won't expand on that topic of "airtravel is like herding cows" however tempted I may be. It does nothing for my assumed personality of kindness and patience. Nor anything for my blood pressure, which might be the truth behind my avoidance. Apparently I am very good at discosing my true persoanlity. hahaha
I'll cover yesterday's topic in tomorrow's post. (Oh how journalistic I sound! As if this wasn't totally based on opinion and bias. Apparently I can create a fictional personae even for myself- oh no, wait, I do that all the time. lol)

So, today! Today let's talk about magazines. Specifically, Bookmarks, a magazine of true worth and appeal to book-lovers worldwide. The entire thing is about... books. Book summaries, book reviews, critic reviews, lists of books, author's favorite books, expert's books, books by genre, books by topic, books, books, books! The magazine's stated goal is to provide reviews for readers- no revealing endings or plot twists here! The coverage of the books I think are very thoughtful and indepth, providing a plot summary by the writer, a gathering of critic reviews from various newspapers and journals, and then a overall summary of impression by the writer. The books themselves are wide-ranging and varied, from biography, memoir, non-fiction and ficiton, to topic themselves, such as crime, science fiction, historical fiction. Some articles even deal with very very specific writings, like yoga, or sea voyages, or investing, or the Tudor period. Get the picture? It's over 50 pages of pure literary loveliness. I only have the one magazine (back issues are available) but I already have a mile-long list of books to check out and probably what will turn into a life-long loyalty to the magazine. Plus, I already know what I'm asking for this birthday. =)

Wednesday, November 19

"When the Paper tells the Pen What to Do..."

Posted by Shelly Holder

Wow! Look at me! Actually posting in a responsible manner, i.e. before 2 am, coherent, and sitting at a proper desk. Almost like is I was a real professional at this stuff. lol

Anyways. So today's topic-my obsessiveness. Or rather, a different aspect of my obsessiveness that previously discussed. Admittedly, there are many instances of my obsessiveness. haha.

Yesterday I mentioned that I had created a collection of varied notebooks, journals, and calenders for even more varied uses. One of the journals was to be memoir-esque in my entries, a diary for my future kids and grandkids to read. (A classic obsessiveness is my hyper-awareness of my need to have a legacy that I can pass on, but that's another post.) Anyways, because of the imposed importance I have placed on this single, $22 leather-bound, gilt-edged journal, I have also placed a great deal of superficial importance on the pen I use to write in it. Yes, you read correctly. The pen is important. I have a trend where I match the character of the notebook or journal or calender not only to it's purpose and subject matter but also the pens and pencils and highlighters that I use in it. The writing calender has a very studious fine point capped black pen with a bright pink highlighter. The daily chronology has a very cheap, thin black pen that is bought in boxes of 20. For the student calender I use a pencil, in case of mistakes, a red felt tip for exams, and a multitude of different highlighters for my color-coded activities. And today, happily, I found the perfect pen for my memoir journal- a retractable pen with gold accents that match the gilt edged pages, and a smokey metallic color that looks very attractive against the black leather cover. It's very professional, very elegant and very sophisticated with smooth writing. The perfect type of pen to write down my legacy.

Right Now:
What I'm listening to: Amy MacDonald's "Poison Prince"
What I what most: More time in the day. A frequent complaint. I have a 6:30 am flight in the morning and I still have packed for my month long trip. sigh. Oh vey.

Acknowledgement: The title is taken from Lope De Vega's play Feunte Ovejuna... I think. It's a long story. Someday I'll tell you all about it.

Tuesday, November 18

Peppee Le Pew, I Presume?

Posted by Shelly Holder

Oh boy. Has this been the day of all days. Apparently my dog decided to make friends with the wrong end of a skunk and consequently I spent all of my evening doing damage control. The house is terrible, the dog little better, and of course me tainted as well, so no wonder I had to knock back the literary equivalent of a few stiff ones. But I was good and avoided temptation in the form of Barnes and Nobles, mainly because I've gone two days in a row and certainly haven't finished all I've bought, although I am close. Sorta. Enough to rationalize going back tomorrow. And I definitely deserve to escape for a few hours from this den of ode du scunkque.

Part of my B&N purchases were the first and second seasons of House, which have put me in such an obsessive funk that I forgot the first night to write a blog, then stayed up all night the second night (ignoring the blog) so that I crashed so hard the third night is all groggy (unable to even comprehend what a blog might be) and only on the fourth night to recover my wits enough to guilty avoid the blog because I ignored a literary pursuit in favor of gasp! base, crass pandering to the ignorant masses and the equivalent of creating brain rot that leds to an early and ignoble creative death of all academia or intellisia ...the TV. lol.

Tomorrow's forray back into the wonderland that is A BOOKSTORE (any will serve, but B&N happens to be the only one in my hometown that carries an acceptably wide variety of genres. Apparently here second-hand bookstores are only required to stock paperback romances. Diverting and delightful, I'm sure, in the right quantity and at the right time, but for a girl that literally goes to the bookstore 3 times in a week more options are a neccessity) is stemmed by a determination to get, sigh, yet another calender. My zeal for seperating notebooks based on different purposes have become slightly ridiculous, even to myself. I have my school calender, all set up with highlighted classes and study periods. A small notebook for writing down in brief the events of the day, like lunch with my roommate or a special lecture I attended. A larger, gilt-edged leather bound notebook that is my journal of emotions and impressions, written sporadically instead of the daily chronology that is the events notebook previously mentioned. The new writing calender, with my daily activities like this blog and the weekly installations to my serializations, along with the writing contests and other deadlines I've taken on. There's the thick journal called the "Someday Book" which has all the advantages of the goals and dreams and magazines clippings of things I want someday as well as my planning to SOMEDAY actually get around to actually writing it. Next are the mini Moleskine journals for seperate novel ideas that I'm working on. And then there's this new calender I want, designated for the recording of book release dates. I'm determined that I'm to be a true bibliophile, a renaissance reader all across the board, and have at least one book release per month, and ideally one per week. Of course, that means that I need to discover a whole ton more writers that I like, who are all publishing in a timely manner. And, of course, this means more trips to Barnes and Nobles. And, of course, I certainly wouldn't be banking on that fact. Oh no. Never. =)

Right Now:
What I'm listening to: Nothing. Mssr Peppee le Pew has given me a monsterous headache.
What I want most: The smell to magically disappear from my carpet overnight, of course.

Friday, November 14

Hi-ho, Hi-ho, It's off to WORK we go

Posted by Shelly Holder

Perhaps some long-ago author decided to pull the big one over the rest of society and evented the myth that writers just sit down and splurt out words on the page. No pause, no hestiation, just a mystical sort of connection with some sort of Divine Muse that drives and burns and wastes the body while the soul rejoices in the utter trancendence of the entire creative process.
And here's my response to that: BUUULLLLLLLSHEET!
No joke, writing is an effort, an endeavor, an epic journey that does include a whirlpool, sirens, and an angry witch. Maybe even a couple of Cyclops. It took me a full 4 hours of cleaning just to work up to tackling this blog, and I was totally gonna skip it until I saw the computor was on and the internet connected, sitting, waiting, for me on my bed in the ultimate guilt trip. Unlucky coincidence- I certainly didn't plan it that way.
Of course, my reluctance certainly has something to do with the fact that I left my writing- again- to the last thing I do in a day, also namely being the easiest to ignore and the one most needing a fully-functioning brain. This only highlights the growing relevation I've had over the past few days that planning part of writing can be just as important as writing itself, and constitutes about 60% of the "job" part of writing. It's great to write when you're inspired, or to hole up in the house for a day of isolated literary splendor. But this doesn't get anything finished, and it doesn't get anything written fast.
I wrote a few days ago about wanting a calender to use strictly for writing issues. I've been slowly discovering all the uses of this calender, and believe that it really was one of the smartest ideas I've had about organizing and planning my writing career. There was the story idea form I created, a basic fill-in-the-blank kind that was easy to print, easy to grab, easy to write on, and easy to file away for future reference. There was my purchase of StoryView, an computer software program that centered around outlines, which kinda made the story idea form obsolete. Then came the 8 1/2 x 11 notebooks for character development, the organized notebooks of writer's magazines, and the Moleskine pocket notebooks for stream of consciousness background development. But the calender I think might prove to be the worthiest of them all. First it holds a type of accountability over me, to be able to check off at the end of the day "daily blog"; and encouragement, to see all the previous days that are also checked off. It also instills a sense of professionalism- "I am serious and responsible and doing my best to become a published, well-established writer." But most of all, it proves that the day to day, tedious, laborious, WORK of dragging myself to write a blog, or to write for 15 minutes a day, or to research publications, or to discover new writing contests, is the real backbone - taking a mere writer, who scribbles for the pleasure of himself, to an author, who enriches the world with his mystic connection to some sort of divine Muse.

Thursday, November 13


Posted by Shelly Holder

Hmmmmmm. In my pursuit of daily routine I didn't consider two very important things. 1) If I write a post around 2 am in the morning, which day does it count for? and 2) What happens on holidays?

Well yesterday I decided that a holiday for the banks and school and postman meant a holiday for me, and I cheerfully ignored my computer the whole of yesterday. Besides, I had a very trite topic idea that mentioned my laughable attempt at Veteran's Day poetry that somehow involved seagulls, and felt the world was, for once, better off if I didn't open my big mouth. Hopefully today's topic is slightly better. (No guarantees)

Well, in my enthusiasm about a new hair style and an extravagant hand with the eye makeup, set to the background of Katy Perry's song "Hot N Cold", I took it all too seriously and fell into my fantasy world of actually being a musician, with a trendy punkish style, a rocker attitude, and a gift for music. Then I actually sat down at the piano, and my dreams fell into shattered bits at my feet. I think my problem was that in imagining myself a musician for those few minutes, my overzealous creative side actually took the rest of me for a ride. I've always like the idea of being a songwriter, but never really managed the music half of it. The elaborate outfit allowed me to look past that little fact, much to my later embarrassment.

Well am I going with this anecdote? Well, although sometimes writing doesn't have the same visceral thrill as other jobs, being many times passive and isolating in nature without the immediate feedback or stimulation from co-workers, it does have the benefit of being utterly limitless. With reading, I can pretend to be a musician, for a poem's ten minutes or a novel's ten days. With writing, I can pretend to be a musician for the ten months of research, the second ten months of writing, and the third of revision and (hopefully) publication. But I'm not tied to music, or to medicine, or law, or politics or whatever else I choose to include in my works. I control the research- how much, how in-depth, for how long. With an official career in any of those other fields, I would have to obtain schooling, basic experience..... The investments would not equal the (ultimately) limited interest I have in that area. With writing, I can change jobs at a whim, maintain three at a time, or just coast with whatever inspires me. Writing is limitless. Writing IS the ultimate job, because it is all others, and none at all.

Tuesday, November 11

Take Two Cups of Coffee and a Magazine

Posted by Shelly Holder

So I have been lately obssesed with magazines. All kinds of magazines, from Vogue and Elle and Harper's Bazzaar to Newsweek and the New Yorker to National Geographic and Smithsonian to Bon Appetit to Ellery Queen and Rosebud. I'm regularly buying them all right now, especially because I've been on vacation and needed reading material for the plane rides. But I've realized my very real need for a daily stimulant. A reading checklist of sorts, for all the serial-esqe publications out there. This need started with an online manga site (haha yes I read it) that I would check back with about every other day. Then I progressed to the blogs of several professional authors, one of which was Lillith Saintcrow, who also on her website published her serial story "Selene" 3 times a week. Then came the fan-fiction site I found for a favorite TV show, which also because a regular oocurance. All these I could plan for, for I knew which day to anticipate something new and interesting. But now, Saintcrow's "Selene" has ended, along with the fan-fiction, and I have tired of (or over-indulged) in the manga, and I suddenly find myself lacking in all weekly treats. Of course, there are benefits, for I have come back to writing this blog, a reverse side of that missing daily routine. I'm starting my own serial story, again a reverse side to my dearth of daily stimulants. But while the creative side of this need is fulfilled, I'm stick lacking in the input section. So I've turned to magazines, which while not always weekly, are at least so numerous in topic and title, as well as providing greater girth, are generally succeding in getting me through each month. It's better than rotting in boredom. Who knows? Maybe I'll even break down, go political, and suscribe to a newspaper.

Right Now:
What I'm listening to: a new artist I literary just discovered (15 minutes ago) People in Planes. Supposedly they're indie rock, which seems contradictory. Isn't indie the definition of folksy, accostic type music? Anyways, check out songs "Mayday (M'iadez)" and "Pretty Buildings"
What I want most: A glass of water.... (but that means that I have to get out of bed and walk all the way to the kitchen.... sigh)

Sunday, November 9

Moleskine is the New Leather...

Posted by Shelly Holder

No, I'm not talking about the newest trend in Vogue. It's the literary love of my life and a product that any bestseller-destined dreamer should invest in. Moleskine is the creater of a line of journal, sketchbooks, and calenders for the artistically minded. Started way back when (I think the 1700s, but I lost the info sheet that comes with every purchase) it became the favorite of the famous like Hemingway, Van Gogh, Picasso, and Chatwin-recommendations to beat all others! Moleskine has a wide range of stuff to fit all eccentric starts and bursts- they even have nifty little books with composition sheets for the musical. And to state again, it is my current obsession.
The notebooks come in all different sizes and functions, hardback and softcolor, red, blue or black. I enjoy the pocket ones, which I literally pull out of my pocket to jot my inspirations. One journal to each novel that I'm "writing", and another with blank cartoon scene panels for unrelated lightbulbs. And it's great because the journal have a small pocket at the back to put loose leaf items in, and a stretch band that snaps the journal closed.
Moleskine also publishes a cool little item called CityNotebooks (or similar) that are essentially write- your-own-travel-guide. I got one for Boston when I visited, and thought it worked pretty good. Remeber that fabulous hole-in-the -wall restaurant or the back alley baragain shopping boutique. (Oh my! The alliteration. Too tired, not enough creativity. I applogize.)
Lately, I've been obsessing over getting of the weekly calenders, so that I can write down all my literary due dates in a single centralized location. I went today to B&N, but unfortunately didn't find what I wanted. I settled for a different calender that will work perfectly well, unable to wait another day and look at a different store, but I know my heart is still fixed on that red hardback Moleskine.

Right Now:
What I'm listening to: Taylor Swift's "Lucky You", the first song she wrote, at age 12! The jealousy is consumming me alive.
What I want most: To be able to write something like that someday....

Saturday, November 8

Back From...

Posted by Shelly Holder

Well, my AWOL notice has been flapping on my front door for quite some time now, but I promise, it was practically unavoidable. See Mark Wahlburg in the character of Bob Lee Swagger came to my front door needing help and a nice big hug....or more in the guise of that guy from the Italian Job, where he goes to Charlise Theron's office all out of the blue (because I'm a blonde, not a redhead, so I would probably choose the latter scenario). Haha. Ok, no, actually, I've been doing some wicked medical treatments, but I'm all better now (9 months later, with many AWOL notices) so the blog is hopefully (cross your fingers) back up and running. I admit to a noticable and lamentable lack of literary topics for future discussion, but I figure I can babble on about nothing if I need to; I usually do regardless. =)

But I HAVE figured a few things out, and the first thing that I 'm starting a serialization story on my website. I got the idea from author Lillith Saintcrow, who posted her serial "Selene" on her website thrice-weekly. (Go there. She's got a great blog, full of interesting things for everyone and tips for writers. Plus, she has like three years of daily postings; the woman has amazing self discipline and inspiration.) Ambitious as I am, I doubt that I'm that prolific, so I'm thinking just a once a week posting, but if it goes good, maybe I'll bump it up. I'm also thinking Mondays, because Mondays are usually bare of good things to look forward to.

Promise, promise I'll be back tomorrow- I actually have an idea of what to write, so I'm dying to write about it now. But I'm forcing myself to put it in a proper post tomorrow instead of just a P.S. to this one. (*pats back*) Alright, well then, tomorrow!

Right now:
What I'm listening to: Dido's new single "Don't Believe in Love" (can't wait for the release of her new ablum- ETA November 18th!)
What I want most: A red leather, hardbound Moleskine 2009 calender (and the subject of tomorrow's post!)

Thursday, May 1

Descriptive Deja Vu

Posted by Shelly Holder

Have you ever had the feeling that you've read an author before, even though you don't recognize the author name or the title or even the plot line? But somehow, the narrative tone, the characters and the descriptive style all feel familiar as breathing, like slipping back into bed or finding an old worn sweater? Initially it's a little weird, a little different, but a minimal bit of adjustment and it seems like time has ended, or turned back upon itself.

Anyways, last night I read a book that felt like this. It's a debut novel, so I haven't read him before. And it's a relatively new release (when I bought it that is, haha, but I haven't touched it since then) so I know I didn't read it in the library and then pick it up in Barnes and Nobles. I didn't start it and not finish. I didn't know the author's name from somewhere else, I didn't recognize the character names, I didn't remember the plot after twenty pages or so, but I felt like I knew these characters. I felt like I knew their world and everything about them and it. It was like deja vu, but stronger. It was the weirdest feeling. The genre isn't even particularly my thing, so I didn't read a copy-cat or get so inundated by genre stereotypes that the style felt familiar. And it only happened after I got a good way into the book, yet it wasn't "Hey, I'm halfway into this novel and I'm really getting into the setting." No it was more like recognition of an old friend that had gotten a haircut and a face lift. The outside was different but the inside, the structure, was the same.

It really was the oddest thing.

I'd write more, but my battery is dying. Sigh. The Agonies of a Young Author... or any lazy teenager that doesn't want to get outta bed to plug in her computer. Funny how similar those things are. =)

Right Now:
What I'm listening to: Nothing
What I want most in the world: To go to sleep.

Tuesday, April 29

Literary 911

Posted by Shelly Holder

I am bored. My bookshelves are unappealing and their selection unappetizing. And the thought of going to Barnes and Nobles to search for new treasures just fills me with a disappointed and discontented sense of blankness. I know what I will find when I go there, and I know what I'll walk outta there with. Nothing. In both cases.

I'm mourning the state of the publishing world.

A few years ago, I could walk into a Barnes and Nobles and within 15 minutes find at least 5 books that I was truly excited to read. And 9 times outta 10 I would like every single one. There are few books that I find lacking, and fewer that I truly dislike. Most of the average lacking ones I've read within the last year or so. I don't walk into Barnes and Nobles excited anymore. Mostly, I'm just blank with undertones of a calm disappointment. I no longer have expectations. In reality, I'm actually happy if I find just one book that semi-interests me. Too many times I leave Barnes and Nobles without a book because nothing catches my fancy.

So where's the vast literary genius that I used to be able to find so quickly and easily a few years ago??? Is the publishing market just so saturated with crappy works that it overwhelms the voices of the few? Surely my taste hasn't become so snobbish and elitest that everything seems second-rate. Is everyone else finding this books of literary excitement and genius, or am I the only one missing out? Surely I'm not blinded by prejudice, or genre dislike, or reluctance to branch out, or anything along those lines... right? Am I the only one who feels like the quality of works being published has decreased, and changed from art to mainstream pulp fiction? I feel as if I read the same story, in different forms that have only slightly been changed from author to author...

I re-read habitually, often hitting ridiculous highs of finishing a book and then immediately starting it again. But if I find a book I truly enjoy, I never really let it go....

Right Now:
What I'm listening to: Nothing.
What I want most in the world: A good book, one funny and that'll relieve the boredom. Or Ilona Andrews to publish the next book in her series tomorrow instead of next year. The two might be mutually inclusive...

Monday, April 28

Absence Makes the Heart.... Well...

Posted by Shelly Holder

I would apologize for the extreme lack of consistency in this blog, but I now realize that my case is hopeless, and I will certainly skip another day in the future, so all self-recriminations are useless and my apologies to the not-listening world a waste of time. Hence, no apologies.

So, the last month has seen me with an unexpected abundance of leisure time, something I know I haven't fully taken advantage of, my reading generally limited to the title credits in a movie or TV show. But I have discovered my fondness for (and inner identification with) snarky and sarcastic characters, specifically House from the self-titled show. Extremely intelligent characters with social awkwardness and naivete also top my list, ie. Dr. Temperance Brennan from the show Bones. I definitely have appreciation for the writers that create such shows as these. I didn't follow the strikes except to know when new episodes came back, but my enjoyment of these latest shows definitely gives me a tendency to side with the writers. Deserving doesn't begin to cover it.

But I probably shouldn't show my ignorance to the world. I merely am trying to articulate my new-found appreciation for the serial drama, today's adaptation of the serial novel. If Dickens could do it, why shouldn't I appreciate the splendor of cliff-hanger chapters in it's modern form of the weekly episode? We readers really should learn to branch out a little, lose a bit of the intellectual snobbery I know I hoard with secret glee and satisfaction.

This is the problem with writing without topic or purpose. You expose too much that is by definition unflattering, and reveal that under the enviable vocabulary and disguising grammatical structure there lurks the uninformed b.s.-er. Ah, sadness. Well, that is actually my goal for the rest of this summer and fall, as I continue with the unexpected leisure time. I don't necessarily mean that I am setting out to cure literary ignorance. (although this new book I have called 101 Most Influential People that Never Lived has some very interesting segments, including one on the continuation of the Nancy Drew series beyond the originals. Interestingly, there are different series for different age groups and interests, including one that is more geared towards the romantic aspect than the good, old-fashioned mystery solving crime aspect. I've not known about any these series, and I'm really quite amazed. I also really do think I need to brush up on my deductive and deducing skills as well...) More I am trying to expand my knowledge in other areas of interest. Like cooking. I really haven't got a grasp on the basics, yet I experiment as if I have years of practice and knowledge. Not the best arrangement for my digestion by any stretch of the imagination. And fashion as well. I'm considered myself reasonably well-dressed, but my unexpected leisure time has also called for the heavy utilization of scarfs in my wardrobe, and the ability to properly apply said scarves into an outfit frankly stumps me. Hence, an investigation into fashion and style. Lastly, taking another look at my old anthropology and archaeology textbooks, to brush up on the basics in hopes that I can get into an upper division anthro class when I go back to school. Of course, my school is giving me trouble about approval of transfer credits, but I'm not complaining. They can't help the underlying snobbish and elitist tendencies that plague and restrict true learning.

I should probably stop before my tongue gets me in trouble (it has that tendency). The last thing I am doing is armchair travel. I see a future full of lots and lots of Frommers. And some of those really cute pocket dictionaries that don't really help but look fabulous on your shelf once you get about 8 or so of them from the same publisher. You look intelligent if you have them all lined up, even if you can only say "My dog is having a heart attack. Where is the veterinarian?" in Turkish, Yiddish and Mandarin Chinese.

Of course, if you happen to enjoy traveling with your much beloved Yorkie or Jack Russel...

Right Now:
What I'm listening to: Nothing. I was going to bed but then got distracted.
What I want most in the world: Hmmmm. To stop being hungry. I ate a ton today, probably literally, and yet I really am considering a snack right now, which is beyond ridiculous.

Saturday, March 22

Fan Fiction 2

Posted by Shelly Holder

I lied. I like fan fiction.

After my last post I decided to scout out the experiences of my friends with fan fiction, and on their recommendation, read a few. And I really enjoyed them. True, to a degree, I think I like the personalities of the characters in new situations, not the transference of the actual characters themselves ( what I mean is, I like the idea of two mortal enemies having to deal with their parent's remarriage to each other, not necessarily that it was specifically Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy that had to deal with this issue. If the author had written the exact same story with different names I still would have enjoyed it as much as I did with J.K. Rowling's characters)
But I think my dislike of fan finction in general has lessened, and I think I am more open to the idea of fan ficiton in my own life. Not writing it, probably, but reading it I think I would be ok with.

Right Now:
What I'm listening to: Nothing. Got a headache.
What I want most in the world: To get over this cold thing.

Tuesday, March 18

Fan Fiction

Posted by Shelly Holder

Well, I'm back again. And this time I'm accompanied with profound respect for journalists and bloggers worldwide. The concept of creating new topics of discussion daily boggles my mind. I'm having a hard time thinking of subjects, and I've been around only for a grand total of 5 posts. Imagine the dedicated people on talk and radio shows that have been doing this for years! I mean, sure, they may have writers, but somewhere down the totem pole there are the poor people who have to come up with the ideas. It's really amazing.

Today I decided to talk about fan fiction, despite the potential nuclear bomb lurking underneath. For all those who do write fan fiction, any opinions expressed from here on out are my own, and not meant to offend.

I was browsing to find out when some of my favorite shows are coming back after the writers strike, and happened to come across a discussion board with fan fic. First of all, creating fan fic for a TV show had never occurred to me, and maybe took me a bit by surprise. Logically it shouldn't- I've know about fan fic for books for years. I've even come across short story versions of fan fiction for anime/manga series, which kinda surprised me in the difference of literary forms (Yes, I admit, I have read some manga, despite its generally looked-down-upon existence). Regardless, the fan fic for the TV show was a bit unusual for me (I guess I don't get out much). Second, that it was found on the official Fox website. Maybe they endorse the involvement in the show, maybe they just don't care to spend the energy to regulate the discussion posts. But the co-existence of the official and the un-official .....

I personally have never written a fan fic. I thought about it when I was younger, wishing to continue the Trixie Belden detective series. Soon though, I caught on to the potential problems with copyright, etc. and gave up the entire endeavor without having written more than a page or two. Now I don't really consider it. Realistically I'd be a fool if I denied that many of my works are influenced by other authors, many times ones whom I've just finished reading. And I'd be lying if I said I've never bought fan fiction (There's some good continuations of the Pride and Prejudice plot out there, and a really fabulous re-write of the story from Darcy's point of view, all of which reside on my shelf) or enjoyed books such as Laurie R King's twist upon the Sherlock Holmes series (The books are excellent, favorites of mine in fact- the detective ends up in a partnership with a 20 year old girl that has deductive reasoning skills and an intellect to match his). And as committed as I am to works of literature and the supreme superiority of the book over the film adaptation, I do really enjoy derivatives such as the TV show Bones (yes the one that I was looking at today) from Kathy Reich's novel series, which technically could be termed fan fiction (she's the producer though). But the actual act of sitting down to recreate a world that was first imagined by another....

I read some time ago on own of my favorite author's website that she was e-mailing back and forth with a fan of hers that wanted to write her stories from a different character's perspective. The fan consistently pumped her for background information and details, and the author responded back with perfect aplomb. But I have always wondered how that author felt about another person taking her work and changing it. And while she was alive too!!! Somehow taking the works of Jane Austen or L.M. Montgomery or Conan Doyle and writing fan fiction about them seems vastly different in my mind than writing fan fiction when the author is still alive. Even contacting the author for details and information not provided in the books!!!! Agh!

So is that to say when I become that world-famous author that I won't allow fan fiction? Well, I don't know. I can't say how I'll respond to emails asking to read fan fiction of my own work, or what I'll feel when some fan asks me to give up details that I used to construct my fictional world to furnish his own. I just don't know. I guess that's one bridge that I'll cross when I get there.

So what are your views on fan fiction? What has been your experience with this literary form? Comments? Questions? Scathing remarks on my insensitivity to the plight of fan fictioners everywhere? Leave a comment. Maybe I'll respond in my next blog. =)

Right Now:
What I'm listening to: alternating between Fergie's Big Girls Don't Cry and the remixed version featuring Sena Kingston (ha! it's the musical form of fan fiction! ha! ha!)
What I want most in the world: .... um- more time in the day. I have plenty of things to do tonight, but since all require a good solid chunk of time dedicate solely to that one activity, I haven't decided which task is of the greatest priority, and thus have accomplished nothing at all. Of course.

Sunday, March 16

Apology: Defense of a Writing Mediocrity

Posted by Shelly Holder

I freely confess. I will not deny it. This is my statement, my testimony, my guilty plea, my sentence.

I am a horrible person.

I missed writing a blog for two whole days, and I apologize. Not because I am deluding myself with the idea that someone out there is waiting eagerly everyday to hear my rambling and often juvenile opinions that have been said before in a much more elegant manner. And not because I think that ten years down the road when my name might finally be recognized and pursued to the level of reading this blog that someone will gasp and say "She missed two days of writing!" But more because ...... well, just because. I had no valid excuse. I even planned the topic for Friday's post: why i enjoyed the thought of a career in writing so much was because it allowed me to role-play in every other career that I had the tiniest spark of interest in without all the stress and draw-backs of actually practicing in that profession. Trouble is, I seem to have issues with the draw-backs of a writing career, namely procrastination and laziness. When you free-lance for a living, you have the opportunity to royally screw yourself without immediate reprocussions. So Friday spiralled into Saturday, and the only reason that I am here today on Sunday is that I have a paper due tomorrow that has yet to be written. Even with immediate reprocussions, my procrastination still gets the upper hand. So, I would love to stay and explicate upon my convulted mental processes that all deal with writing, but that Sherman Alexie book is glaring reproachfully at me from the neglected corner of my desk. Sigh. The agonies of a college student.

Right Now:
What I'm listening to: Nothing, but Natasha Bedingford's song "Love Like This" ft. Sean Kingston is cycling through my head
What I want most: Somehow magically to become organized in life (read: stop procrastinating)

Thursday, March 13

On Feeling Californian

Posted by Shelly Holder

Today for me was a deviation from the norm of my academia life squirrelled away in my dorm closet, and despite the sunburn currently itching it way along my back and arms, I'm quite happy with the four hours that I spent outside enjoying the uncommon sunny weather. After class I changed into my most summery skirt and the cutest cami I haven't touched in months, let down my hair, grabbed flip-flops and my books and headed outside to "play at being Californian". I deliberately aimed at the quintessential "California" look, the very typically beachy atmosphere- lying on my stomach, books all spread out and for the most part ignored, with the blonde hair everywhere and the iPod and the shoes discarded to one side while my feet stuck up in the air. And I think I achieved it really really well- my roommate didn't recognize me when I waved at her. =) And I just sat enjoying the mildness of the day. Of course, translated, that means I spent most of my time chatting with friends and obviously I wasn't terribly productive (and I'm paying for it now-this is a mental break from my agonizing paper that due 11 am tomorrow -sigh) but I'm ultimately happy with the insights I made and the melatonin that I soaked up. And with the very nice picnic-esqe dinner that reflected my California mood- sushi and pita bread with hummus, apples and cheese for dessert, sprinkled throughout with my iced coffee drink. And I realized that although I may wish for an atmosphere of European chic with the theater and multi-course dinner, but really California via Virginia with Alexander Pope's Rape of the Lock and a multi-course picnic really isn't a bad alternative.

Right Now:
What I'm listening to: Nothing, but Taylor Swift's "Teardrops On My Guitar" is runnning through my head
What I want most in the world: To go to bed (I don't even care about the paper, I just want sleep)

Wednesday, March 12

No Mere Writer's Block

Posted by Shelly Holder

Today unfortunately, I set out with no real topic in mind. In fact I feel I have nothing whatsoever to say. Probably because I have been straining every nook and crevice of my creative mind to come up with ideas for this paper of mine due Friday. Alas, both my paper and my blog are suffering. My mind seems to deal well with the stress. "Go ahead and surf Facebook for an hour and a half, you deserve it. Youtube all you want. Refill on that soda? Sure, you haven't been that hungry anyways. A Payday bar? Why not, you're gonna go back to the gym after this paper turned in..." The only thing that I seem to have avoided doing is my actual paper. Make bed (check). Organize desk (check). Write a lengthy blog with no real topic in mind when the original plan was to apologize briefly for my lack of creativity and self-discipline (check check). Ah, sigh.

So that was the plan. I was also going to declare that from now on, each blog will include two points of interest at the conclusion. One, what music I'm currently listening to (Finding Me by Vertical Horizon) because all my favorite authors do it now in their own blogs and heaven knows that I do not want to be considered "out" of the professional author circle. The second, what it is that I want most in the world right at the moment of blogging (Advil and a Payday bar, plus a really really good robotic paper writer that's guaranteed to get me an A. No, an A+. And a massage.) And I was going to declare my intention, in light of yesterday's post, that on my website, I would include a page that had really incredibly detailed summaries of books that haven't been considered "worthy" by SparkNotes and all the rest when they really should (read: when I really really regretted that I couldn't study for my Brit Lit midterm because I hadn't read Jospeh Andrews and it wasn't on SparkNotes, so I had to buy the movie version and watch it). SO! Sometime in the not to distant procrastinating future, you shall find book reviews of Joseph Andrews and Villette and Sherman Alexie and all my other "poor unfortunate souls" that have been neglected by SparkNotes unfairly. And my book reviews will kick butt, hardcore. Believe me. I'm a writer.

Tuesday, March 11

The 100 List

Posted by Shelly Holder

Remember those really annoying top 100 lists of the classics you should read in high school; before going to college; sometime in your lifetime? "These are the lasting influences of the ages": Moby Dick, Great Expectations, The Scarlet Letter, 1984, blah blah blah. But what about the other classics just floating around out there? The ones that you never hear of? I guess it was just subconsciously programmed into me that these top 100 were the ones you had to read, and the only ones you had to read. And then I got to college. Persuasion? Whadda mean, Persuasion? It's Pride and Prejudice that's on the list! Jospeh Andrews? Fielding isn't even mentioned! Villette.... wait, you mean Charlotte Bronte wrote something other that Jane Eyre??? It's really sad, but totally true. I was totally caught by surprise when I saw the reading syllabus for some of my classes. And yet, most of these books are really important to the literary world, and the populace at large doesn't know they exist, have never heard of the authors, because the stereotypical idea of "the classics" has been boiled down to a list of 100. So I start a strike, here and now, against established classics. And I will write about the works that may or may not be on the list and why everybody should read them (whether they like it or not). =p

First! Villette by Charlotte Bronte. In my opinion, much better written and way more interesting than Jane Eyre ever was. It's also highly based on autobiographical events, which makes everything so much more intriguing. And I guess I'll give a brief summary too (but don't expect to find Villette on SparkNotes or Cliffs or Pink Monkey or Anti-Study or any of the others- they seem to be limited to the list of 100 as well, a fact that supremely irritates me, and probably will be a subject for future rants). Lucy Snowe, having lost her family, seeks employment as a companion/governess in Victorian era England. After a brief time working in England, she decides to travel to the Continent to find work. A travel companion on the ship leads her to a school called Villette. She becomes a nanny for the school mistress's children, but is soon promoted to the status of an English teacher. And it is here at Villette that Lucy experiences love and loss. (And I won't tell you any more because it will spoil the story. haha So just go ahead and read the book. Do it! (* peer pressure peer pressure peer pressure*) It really is well-written; Bronte is of course, verbose and sometimes overly-lengthy, but... isn't most Victorian era pieces??? haha.

Second. Sherman Alexie's collection of short stories titled "Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist Fight in Heaven". This comes from the course listing from my Native American Literature class (this is what I am talking about. I didn't know there was such a thing as Native American literature. It wasn't on the list! Of course, the list deals mainly with novels in the British tradition; even the American novels tend that way as well, ie The Scarlet Letter and Moby Dick and Mark Twain. I guess Maya Angelou and Zora Neale Huston and Langston Hughes are all too "modern" or whatever to be considered classics for the 100 list.*snort of disdain for whoever was stupid enough to come up with the 100 list*) It's really good- I LOVE his introduction: "I'm a poet who can whine in meter" and "Hello, you've reached Sherman Alexie, one of the major lyric voices of our time. Please leave a message f you're not too intimidated and I'll get back to you, with my versatile and mellifluous voice, as soon as possible." (italics original) And his stories.... well, I haven't figured out how I feel about them yet, but I don't they'll ever fully leave me. I might forget some of the details, the title might slip my mind, the names might become a little fuzzy, but ultimately the stories will be there, riding like a forgotten passenger in the backseat of my mind. Same goes for the other titles of my Native American class: Ceremony by Leslie Silko, House Made of Dawn by Momaday, The Antelope Wife by Louise Eldrich. (Actually Antelope Wife so far really intrigues me. But I haven't finished it yet, so I dare not comment on it here- not quite yet.)

Of course, the opposite of what I have been "preaching" is pretty much true too. I see absolutely no reason why Kafka should ever appear on a list of 100, and hope to goodness that I never will. The Trial I find is pointless and repetitive, and as one girl in class said today "like a joke with no punchline". I'm sure Kafka wrote it for a reason, but WHAT REASON? Sigh. Thank goodness we finished him in class today. No more Kafka for me, thank you very much. I'm sure he speaks to someone, out there, just as I'm sure that not every will find the same poetry and inspiration in Villette, but really..... just... really?

Anyways, I have a paper that is glaring at me from my desk, reminding me that a Friday deadline doesn't include all the time in the world. Sigh. The life of a college girl. The life of an English major. The Agonies of a Young Author. haha

Monday, March 10

Opening Sequece!

Posted by Shelly Holder

Hello hello hello!!!

Well lookit this! I got a blog. May wonders never cease. And I thought I was so cool for getting my own website. Well, I guess I am just at the pinnacle of my technological prowess. Whatever that means. =)

So, since is the first post, I guess I need to do an intro? Sigh (Hark the memories of the first day of school....). I'm Shelly Holder, 19 years old, an only child born in California's Mojave Desert. Currently I am living in Virginia while attending college to get a BA in English/ Creative Writing. Hence I will have a degree that does nothing for me and a job that barely pays the rent to look forward to upon graduation. =) Go English majors. haha.

Obviously I wanna be a writer, if you couldn't tell from the blog title or from my website (which, iccidentally, you should really go check out. It's Do it- it's really cool, I designed it all by my lonesome.) So most of this blog will be me ranting about how difficult is it to get inspiration or a new story that I've started (and likely won't finish) or about a great book that I just read and really really wish I wrote first. But I might throw in a tidbit or too about my "real" life stuff. Who knows? This blog will probably just evolve as it goes....

Anyways, that's the deal! I write, you read, and neither of us is obliged to like what I wrote. =) Although it's a more serious problem if I don't like it....... haha.