Dec 2, 2018

A Short and Rather Useless Book Review - Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

You remember this room?

Of course you do. It has probably haunted your nightmares.

Those pictures don't even begin to do it justice, though. They were taken very soon after we finished remodeling. In the couple years since then, more and more stuff found its way into that room until it was stuffed full like a hoarders paradise. I didn't take a picture of that. Why would I take a picture of that? It was the room I liked to pretend didn't exist. Only problem: it is the first one you see when you walk in the front door.

But finally we decided to do something about it. So we got bought some used shelves, and got some cabinets from the Restore and made this:

I tell you what. Trim is kind of a magical thing.

Then we had to get all the stuff out of there and paint the shelves. Which brings us to this:

Yeah. We didn't quite manage to get all the stuff out of there. There is also a very large stack of (cough-Richard's!) stuff in the front hall. We've gotta finish the shed before that stuff has a home, so stop obsessing over it already.

So back to the shelves.

They are pretty.

They are also full of books, for those of you who have trouble interpreting things you see in pictures.

Most of our books had been in boxes for over 15 years. They've been in boxes ever since we moved into this house, just waiting for this day. When we built the shelf we worried that we wouldn't have enough books to fill it, but we ended up with way more books that space. We got rid of several boxes full. And now we are forced to really only keep the ones we love.

I'm not sure all of these books qualify, which actually brings me to my point.

I wanna talk about my books.

But over half of them I have never read. Well, at least half of them are Richard's, but even a large percentage of mine I have never read. But I'm gonna. How do I know if it is worthy of the bookshelf if I've never even read it?

So here is what I'm gonna do. Go through the shelf. One book at a time (or maybe a series at a time, cuz who cares?) and tell you how I feel about it. It's gonna be fun. For me. I don't know if it is going to be fun for you or not. That's not really up to me. 

We discussed several different organization options when we were stuffing the books up there, even tried out a few, but in the end we just shelved them alphabetically by author, with all the genres all mixed up together.  Which means the very first book on the very first shelf is The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

This is very fitting, because it is one of my favorite series of all time. 

For those of you who aren't familiar with it, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy started as a radio show. (feel free to correct me. I could go look it up to make sure what I'm telling you is true, but I'm way too lazy at the moment.) Then Douglas Adams wrote the book, and then it became a miniseries on the BBC. That is where I was first introduced to it as a kid. He kept writing until there was a trilogy, and then wrote a few more. They call it a trilogy in five parts.

I didn't read any of the books until I was in college. Most of the books have kind of blurred together in my mind, but here is what I remember:

I was reading one of the later books in the series on the couch in my parent's living room. Arthur Dent was trapped on some alien planet, where he had stuck a chicken bone in his beard.  Another alien landed on the planet whose soul purpose in life was to insult every being in existence. He walked up to Arthur Dent and said, "You're a jerk, Dent. A real knee-biter." And then he climbed back aboard his spaceship and sailed away.

The whole scene was so hilarious to me I was laughing my head off. I lay back on the couch, so overcome with mirth, that I kicked my feet in the air.

Have you ever read a book that made you laugh so hard you kicked your feet in the air? I may have forgotten lots of stuff about the story, but the joy of that moment is cemented in my head forever. 

So thank you, Douglas Adams. I guess that is all I've got to say. Elesa out.

Feb 20, 2018

Thoughts on Prologues and Epilogues

prologues epilogues

You might be thinking this title is strange. I might be thinking that you are strange. But I would never say so, because I have tact, so let's keep our opinions to ourselves, mmm?

Did you know I wrote a book? If you are my Mom, the answer is, yes, because I made you read it. If you are my aunt, I supposed it depends on whether my Mom told you or not. And if you are the one non-relative who is reading my blog, I'm going to guess that your answer is "I'm sorry, I was looking for the Doilies for Dummies blog?"

My book is unpublished, but it is complete. I am currently working on another book that is driving me slightly insane. (that is several degrees less insane than my children drive me, which is why I like writing so much.?

Wow, I suck at getting to the point. The point is, this completed book of mine contains a prologue.

So, are prologues okay?

Some people say no. They say to only include a prologue if you want to include a block of text that people don't read.

But what kind of a looney is skipping the prologue? I remember distinctly when I figured out I was supposed to read prologues. As a kid I read a book with a prologue and skipped it, thinking it was some kind of opening remarks. And then when I got to the end I read the epilogue. And it referenced stuff that was in the prologue and I was so confused and finally realized that the prologue contained relevant information! I've never skipped a prologue since. And I just have such a hard time believing that people pick up a book they want to read and then just skip the beginning??

Anyhoo.  It is a thing. Some people say to never include them.

I was at Life, the Universe, and Everything Symposium this weekend. (I'm not going to explain it. Click here if you want to know more.) And I went to a panel about Prologues and Epilogues. On the panel were Brandon Sanderson, Todd McCaffrey (Anne McCaffrey's son), Lisa Mangum, Myke Cole and Jason King.

They all agreed that prologues can be dangerous. Mostly because some people don't read them. But even so Brandon Sanderson always uses them. He pointed out that one of the main purposed for them is to set the stage for the story. Instead of beginning Star Wars with Luke walking around with Uncle Owen trying to buy droids, it starts with a battle taking place in space. That battle sets the tone for the story, and lets you know that this isn't only a story about a whiney teenager walking around in the dessert.

This is exactly what my prologue does, minus the spaceships. But Brandon Sanderson said it is so often used in this way, it is almost a cliche at this point.

So I asked a question. "If your story needs the prologue to properly set the tone, how do you do it without falling into the cliche?"

What I didn't anticipate was that by asking the question, the panelists would respond directly to me. Talking to ME, Looking ME in the eye. I had to try very hard to pretend like I was perfectly comfortable with that, and that my eyes weren't starting to itch like crazy for no reason at all, and like I didn't suddenly really needed to go to the bathroom. Cuz, yeah. I was having a conversation with Editors and Best Selling Authors all of the sudden.

The basic response to my question was, "You can get away with it if you do it well."

That was actually kind of the theme of the entire conference. YOU CAN DO ANYTHING YOU WANT IN YOUR WRITING IF YOU DO IT WELL.

Admittedly, it isn't the most helpful advice. Cuz how do you know if you are doing ANYTHING well? I don't. But I'm leaving the prologue in my story anyway.  Just FYI.

I do know that I haven't ended this well, but I'm ending it nonetheless.