Music Monday – Save Me by The Pierces

“Save Me” by The Pierces

Background: This song is all about being crushed under the weight of secrets you can’t share. It’s about deciding whether or not to put your trust in people, and knowing for some things that it’s not the best idea. Would you have the strength to keep a dangerous secret if letting it out would put people in danger, or would you find someone you can lean on to take the pressure off of you alone? What’s the trade-off? Is it worth it?

My song history: I first heard this song on the killer episode “The End of the World” from the 1999 TV show, Roswell. In case you don’t remember it, it’s about four teenagers who are actually aliens from the 1947 Roswell crash. If you’ve never seen it and you love YA paranormal (okay, technically it’s sci-fi, but it’s special-powers sci-fi, not that kind of sci-fi) then I encourage you to give it a watch… it was way before its time. Anyhow, this song was featured in one of the most heart-wrenching episodes, and I’ve loved it ever since.

What drew me in: Really it was the utter perfection of how it fit into the Roswell episode. That show had a savant for music—one that was sadly butchured when the show went to DVD and 95% of the music was replaced. I loved the theme of the song, too, though. The narrator’s secrets have piled up so much that she is the “only one” who can save herself. It’s that forced independence that really rings true in the song, and a theme that is so very important in YA fiction—and life, too.

For my writing: This is the song I turn to for secrets. The whole song shouts about secrets that can’t be told—which is just what a secret feels like sometimes when you’re dying to share it… like it’s the loudest thing in your head. I haven’t used this song a whole lot in my own writing yet, but I’m building up towards something that can justify its implied importance. I love the character in the song—someone who is all alone in a fight, basically—and my stories—Jethro in particular—will definitely be taking me to places like that in the future.

Friday Five: Five Things!

Good morning! I’m sure you’ve heard of it by now, but I was one of the nearly 3 million people out of power last night. My house lost power for about eleven hours yesterday afternoon and into the early hours of the morning, being woken up around 2:30 by our fan and our tv turning on. That was quite an experience… thankfully we had enough candles and flashlights for everybody! Just want to add to this post this morning to say that I’m grateful for the simple things in life! And if you’re in the Southwest, I know it’s hot, but please do everybody a fav0r and conserve your power!

And now for five things:

1. I’m starting to put holiday stuff up in my Etsy shop… some Halloween and some Christmas notebooks. I’m hoping to add more, but really I’d like to work on some more softcover journals. It’s been too long! I’d especially like to get some more minis in the shop, but the freedom of the larger journals is really tempting, too.

2. I’m finally sitting down to listen to Adele. I’d heard the radio singles of course, but I’m listening to 19 right now, and she is spectacular. You probably know this already—everybody does, and I’m just a slow-poke. She reminds me a bit of Roisín Murphy, but she’s more everyday-listenable. (I can only only listen to so many Roisín songs).

And Adele’s cover of “Chasing Pavements”? So. Much. Love. I’d forgotten what a fantastic song that is.

3. You may have noticed that I’ve posted a schedule in the sidebar that I plan on sticking to. I was reading a post on Weronika Janczuk’s blog about web presence, and decided that I just needed to grit my teeth and do it. Not let myself not do it, really. I’ve tried daily postings before, but I was always expecting too much from myself, and I had never been interested in keeping a schedule. Schedules had always looked kind of cheap to me. But without one, I had no aim for daily posts, and I’d wind up with one post a week, maybe.

I’m giving myself a lot of leeway with this schedule. I have a theme for each weekday, but I’m letting myself ignore that schedule whenever I want, so long as I get a post up for that day. (As you can see, I did not write a Booking Through Thursday post yesterday, I’m already ignoring myself!) I’m also deciding that I’m going to be pre-writing as many of these posts as I can…. that’s just good blogging practice!

4. I’m considering turning my last Hollow Tree Short, “The Night the Sky Split” into a series of shorts, really. It’s about a young man named Luke who fell from the sky, and I think there’s a lot more to tell there. We don’t really know anything about Luke yet, and I have this feeling there’s a whole lot to tell. And we need to get a chance to know our narrator, too, don’t you agree?

5. Speaking of our short fiction blog, Isabelle Santiago and I have some big news coming up about Tales From the Hollow Tree. Right now we’re figuring out the last details and we have some major planning to do, but keep an eye out! Be sure to be following the Hollow Tree on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with the latest news!

Happy weekend! Go forth and enjoy!

Book Review: All That Was Promised by Vickie Hall

All That Was Promised by Vickie Hall is a look at the life of Richard Kenyon, a young Welsh Methodist reverend, and the lives of those around him, as they are introduced to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or the Mormons, in the mid 1800s. Kenyon hears of the restored gospel through Elder Ben Lachlan, an LDS missionary, and through him his wife, her family, and a few of his Methodist congregation come to believe in the gospel.

Not all is easy, though. Quite the contrary—while Richard’s conversion comes swiftly, his wife Leah is hard-pressed to believe what she hears, even after her sister and brother-in-law join the Church as well. It’s not until after seeing a miraculous healing first-hand that she realizes she can’t deny the Church any longer. Persecution comes from all sides, though, and Richard’s own brother is eventually revealed to be involved in trying to get the Mormons out of Wales.

This book is very well researched, with language and details that really pull you into the 19th century Cardiff setting, and simultaneously raised and quelled the urge I’ve long had to explore Europe. The relationships between the characters are full of heart and feel very real throughout the book, which put the tenderest interactions between the characters close to my heart. The book is also very well structured, with loose ends tying themselves up in surprisingly fitting ways.

I will say, though, that there were many parts of this book that I think and wish could have been expanded on more thoroughly. The book carries along at a rapid speed—almost breakneck, I would say. Pacing is very important in writing, but it seems almost as if the author here has confused pacing for speed. Events happen quickly in this novel. So quickly, that it seemed like there was no time to celebrate triumphs or joyful moments, because they were always momentarily overwhelmed by more trials and persecution.  The lives of early Latter-Day Saints were indeed tumultuous and trying, but many of those burdens were balanced by great joy and triumphs, and I feel like those were largely missing from this book.

I also feel that a lot was taken for granted here. This is an LDS book for an LDS audience, but I feel that I still would have enjoyed learning about the gospel along with the characters, instead of having it glossed over. There were moments where we were able to see why various characters decide to join the Church, but we don’t really get to see them learning about what they’re joining, which seems almost as if they are making a big decision they don’t know any details about, and it’s mildly disconcerting as a reader.

I have to admit, also, that I found the villainous characters somewhat over exaggerated. Most of the non-member characters described in the book are maliciously trying to persecute the Church and all of its members, and this seems a little unfair to humanity in general. Of course the beginning of the LDS Church really was met with opposition on all sides, but as there are today, there were also good people—many very good people—who simply did not believe the gospel, or chose to continue to live their lives as they always had.

Not every person who was not a member hated the Church, and not all that persecuted the Church did so without remorse. Many who did persecute the Church were Christians by faith, and so understood that violence and hatred towards others is wrong and felt badly for what they did, even as they felt that they were duty-bound to do it.

So all in all, I come away from this book not feeling fully satisfied with it. I think it could have benefited greatly from some more rigorous editing and expansion. That said, though, I honestly enjoyed the book very much and left it wondering what kind of future was in store for many of these characters. We’re left with them preparing to emigrate to America to join the Saints in the Great Salt Lake valley, and I find my mind wandering over the journey I know is ahead of them, and hoping them well. For characters that I imagine will stay with me for some time, I say well done, Ms. Hall.

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All That Was Promised can be purchased here. Read more about Vickie Hall on her website.

I was provided with a copy of this book for honest review.

What I’m Reading Wednesday – Across the Universe by Beth Revis

I have to admit, sometimes when it comes to reading, I feel like I’m playing a never-ending catch-up game. I’m not a fast reader (yes, you may gasp) and I like to reread books… which only puts me further behind sometimes. Right now the other two books I’m reading are rereads, gearing me up for finishing up their respective series (Fablehaven, and The Wolves of Mercy Falls).

But I’m trying to put newer books that I own into my reading circulation. Because let’s face it, I like talking about new(ish) books just as much as anybody else.

So right now, my newer book that I’m reading is Across the Universe by Beth Revis. If you’re not familiar, it’s about a girl named Amy who gets cryogenically frozen so she can travel 300 years asleep with her parents to help inhabit a new world. Only she gets woken up fifty years early… and someone’s done it on purpose. Now she has to adjust to life on board a ship with its own unique civilization, where someone just may be a murderer…

Oh, and if she ever sees her parents again, she’ll be double their age. Awkward… And devastating, considering she’s given up her entire outside life to be with them.

Anyhow. I’m about a quarter of the way into the book now. If you’ve heard all the hype about this book? Believe it. I’ve loved every minute of it. Revis has a sharp, crisp voice, and Amy and Eldest (the other POV in the book) are both very unique. I love, love, LOVE Amy. She’s feisty and not afraid to say what she’s thinking (which is good, because she’s going to have to ask a LOT of questions here really soon).

I have to admit, I fell so in love with cryo-Amy’s voice that I was worried that I wouldn’t enjoy Amy’s chapters as much after she woke up. Well, she’s just woken up, and boy have I been proven wrong so far.

As to other reading… I’ve finally coordinated my Google Reader. Yes, I know I’m a jillion years behind. I had an account once, but it was full of blogs that I never really wanted to read… or at least that I don’t care to read anymore. Things that aren’t of interest to me anymore, but I thought might have been once upon a time.

Now I’ve cleaned those old blogs out and put in all of the blogs that I actually do want to keep up with. Personal friends, writers I respect and love, other writers that are struggling to get somewhere, just like me.

And I have the app on my droid, which I love more than I can say. Maybe for the first time since I was on Livejournal every day, I’ll actually be able to keep up with the blogs I care about!

What have you been reading lately?

Tuesday Talk – The Eleventh Doctor

For the first time since the inception of the Doctor Donna, I am actually caught up on Doctor Who. I have to admit, there was a long, long time that I thought I just might never watch the new doctor. I loved Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor, and I love, love, LOVED David Tennant. In fact, it took me nearly a year and a half just to watch the goodbye episodes with David Tennant, because the idea of him leaving as the Doctor just killed me.

What made me more hesitant about moving on to the Eleventh Doctor, though, was the fact that Russell T. Davies had also left the show. He was the executive producer for the first five series, the driving force behind a lot of the episodes and story arcs that I really loved, and it was his vision of Doctor Who that I’d originally fallen in love with. Stephen Moffat took over with the introduction of Matt Smith as the eleventh doctor. Now, I’d definitely loved some of Moffat’s previous episodes… in fact, his episodes had often listed among my favorites in the Doctor Who canon (the 2005 incarnation, I can’t claim a lot of knowledge of the older Doctors).

But still, I wasn’t ready to give up David Tennant. And so, I couldn’t help but see spoilers of what I was missing with the Eleventh Doctor. C’mon… many of my friends are or have been Whovians. And honestly, I didn’t like what I saw. The bits and pieces of what I’d seen were not the Doctor Who that I had come to know and love. When I rewatched the show from the beginning with my husband, though, we decided that we’d go ahead and give Matt Smith a try.

Guess what? I didn’t like him.

Now, I’d been assured from several people that he would “grow on me.” In fact, those were the exact words of three or four different people. Which was a little odd and disturbing in its own way. Like there had been some subliminal message played in the episodes: he’s growing on you… he’s growing on you… he’s growing on you…

Luckily, I did like the new companion, Amy. Most of the time. Tall, pretty redhead with a Scottish accent, what’s not to like, right?

But the show was so different. It felt—no offense meant by this—like a normal British show. It wasn’t the delightfully cheesy thing I had fallen in love with, with cartoonified plastic enemies and bad-guy aliens that blow up under a wash of vinegar. Lost with all of the cheese was, I felt, a lot of heart. The new episodes were darker. The Doctor didn’t seem like he was in love with the human race anymore—he was much more removed and superior to them. He also acted out of character a lot of the time—running and fighting before trying to talk, not getting upset when something that was the last of its kind was destroyed. These things irked me.

The show also did its best to not refer to anything that had happened in any of the previous Eccleston/Tennant episodes. The transformation from Nine to Ten made it clear that while he was a different man, he was the same Doctor. Here he was entirely changed… not even minor characters made it back into the storyline. I would have enjoyed at least seeing someone random… Sally Sparrow, or someone. I mean, I understand that Moffat wanted to separate his show from Davies’, but for me that meant a lot of hacking away at the continuity of it. People didn’t even remember the daleks? Really? That made me sad…

Now, my fiction-fixing brain wants to put reasons to all of this. Maybe the Doctor simply felt too much in his tenth incarnation. Maybe with these strong attachments to people like Rose and Martha and Donna, the Doctor simply wore himself out, and had to retreat into an incarnation that was much milder in his affections… and in his feelings in general. Maybe becoming someone more removed was a matter of self-preservation.

And I have to admit, I do like Matt Smith now. He has his own quirks and is fun to watch. I just don’t really feel like he’s the Doctor. Not my Doctor. I watch the show now, and I enjoy it, but not without a wistfulness for what it was. The show I loved, really loved, is gone. Now there’s a similar-ish show on that I like more or less. Maybe someday I’ll love it again. We’ll see.

Music Monday – Amazing by Blue October

Music Monday, an explanation: Most Mondays, I will be choosing a song and writing about it—my feelings about the song, my personal relationship with the song, if and how it relates to my writing, etc. Often this will be the first song that comes up on my music player, though I will randomize it for you—especially if I get on a single-artist kick or something. I do have favorites, though, so be warned. If I can, I will also embed the song somehow, so you can hear it.

“Amazing” by Blue October

Background: For my first Music Monday, I’ve picked “Amazing” by Blue October. This is a haunting song about someone with an aching to feel that they are the thing that they want to be—in a word, amazing. While the narrative in the song is about being with someone, it’s one of the loneliest songs I’ve ever heard, and illustrates how people can sometimes use their relationships to gauge their self-worth—but it’s also not really making that seem like a fake kind of love. It talks about how we idealize those we love: “You see, I’ve made you into something more delicious/my sweet ghost,” but that sometimes it wears through, anyhow.

Favorite line: “And now our history is for sale/and for that I apologize.” The title of the album is History for Sale, and I’ve always been fascinated by artists who acknowledge that their song is really a private, personal thing that they’ve now made public in the hope of being heard—Anna Nalick has a similar line in her song “2 AM,” and that’s one of my favorites, too.

My song history: I discovered this song when I was in college, when I was going through a kind of dark period myself… I didn’t think I was amazing. I wanted somebody to prove to me that I was. (Of course, that’s always something you have to decide and learn for yourself, which thankfully I did, but that’s a different story). To be honest, this song originally made me a little uncomfortable, because it spoke so clearly to what I was, unfortunately, feeling at the time. It admitted things that I couldn’t—that I didn’t really feel like the person I was trying to display all the time, someone who had it all together and didn’t need other people. (Who really thinks not needing other people makes you strong? I was a foolish kid). I don’t think you have to be in quite such a dark place to enjoy the song, though… we all have feelings of inadequacy here and there…

What drew me in: Honestly? Justin Furstenfeld’s voice. There’s a quality to Furstenfeld’s voice that makes it feel like an old ache in your heart, and for someone who uses music as a kind of catharsis, something that brings that up in me is something I really value. The pretty accompaniment doesn’t hurt, either.

For my writing: I haven’t really used this for my writing yet, though I have been editing to it a bit lately. Well, the whole