ROW 80 ~ Wednesday Update, 4/15

Update

During my hiatus from writer discussions, I threw myself into book blogging. I do love reading and occasionally I like writing about reading. Hence, you know, the current blog title. One of my favorite book blogging activities is the readathon. They range in size from Dewey’s 24-hour Readathon (which is next Saturday!) to week long events like Bout of Books. Usually, readers set a goal, make a list of books they want to read, and go at it. A thing that I find perplexing about readathons is when readers start complain that they are “failing” the readathon just because they haven’t quite kept the pace they wanted. It’s supposed to be a fun event and, as long as you’re reading some pages, how is it failing? A few Bouts of Books ago, Amanda and Kelly came up with a warcry to counter this negativity: Flailing, not failing.

The only way I’m going to fail as a writer is by not writing. Sure, I want to have a good output, but not exactly hitting my goals all the time? That’s flailing, not failing. I flailed this past weekend. I played too much Minecraft. Eric and I (and our friend Chris) haven’t done anything fun together in a while. Monday was pretty meh as well. All together, I’ve written 2055 since last update.

I did, on Sunday, finish up my online Python course which I expected to last until the 28th. It’s nice to have one thing out of the way. I’m also going to cut back on blogging a little. My planned schedule is now Sun/Wed ROW 80 updates, review on Tuesday, Deal Me In on Saturday. Or something like that.

Goals

  • Writing
    • 1000 words/day average on In Need of Luck in April or until done. – Averaging 871, not including what I’ve done today.
    • Daily free write. – Wrote Tuesday and this morning. Added it to my Todoist, because it isn’t habit yet.
    • For May/June – Scene rewrites for PHYSICa.
    • For May/June – Transcribe free write bits that might be useful to Abbott project.
  • Reading, related to writing
    • Finish reading River City Empire (related to next possible writing project) by the end of April. – No movement, because I went to the library. I’m flaky when it comes to books.
    • For May/June – The Call of Stories by Robert Coles
  • Publishing
    • New descriptions/categories/tags for Weordan books. (April 15th) – No movement. Eric and I need to pow-wow about this today.
    • Brainstorm alternate tags for books already published. – I’ve made a spreadsheet of current categories and tags.
    • List of reviewer contacts. – No movement.

ROW80LogocopyROW 80 is a blog hop!

Please, check out how other Round of Words participants are doing with their goals.

Review ~ Who is Magic Babe Ning?

Who is Magic Babe Ning? by Ning Cai

Cover via Goodreads

Asia’s top female celebrity magician ‘Magic Babe’ Ning talks about her 10 years in the tough world of magic showbiz; an age-old industry traditionally dominated by men.

Experience the real life adventures of this multi award-winning, world magic record-breaking, jet-setting illusionist as she unmasks the Magic Babe. Ning reveals how the shy teenage girl transformed herself into magic’s wild child and became a 2-time FHM cover girl, embraced by international media and respected by professional peers worldwide.

Ning shares for the first time her journey of quirks and struggles, betrayals and disappointments, fears and personal demons. She speaks candidly of her cancer scare at 21, which physically scarred her face but also changed the entire course of her life. (via Goodreads)

The best memoirs are by people who have lived out-of-the-ordinary lives. Ning Cai would qualify. In her 20s, she became the most famous female magician in Singapore. She set records, started businesses, and even co-wrote a travel book. She and partner J C Sum specialized in mega-illusions and endurance tests. And at the undisclosed age of probably early 30s-ish, she retired from the world of magic.

Who is Magic Babe Ning? is very much Ning’s own exploration of who she is. In Robert-Houdin style, “Magic Babe” is a construct she created to play the part of Magic Babe Ning. “Magic Babe” is a sexy, risk-taker while Ning is the quiet nerd with a distinctly spiritual side. I would say that her want to emphasize how normal she is probably keeps this book from being a truly great memoir, though my expectations for the book might have been a little off. This isn’t a grand tale of magic or even the modern magic industry. Some of that’s there, but it take a backseat to the explorations of a young woman who has been given some extraordinary opportunities.

And that’s the best thing about Who Is Magic Babe Ning?. It takes a certain amount of courage to re-evaluate what’s happening in life and take a different course if needed. That’s a great lesson for anyone.

Publishing info, my copy: Marshall Cavendish, 2015, trade paperback
Acquired: Amazon
Genre: Memoir

ROW 80 ~ Sunday Update, 4/12

Update

Had a good Wednesday, followed by a brain-fog Thursday. Had a good Friday, followed by a goof-off Saturday. Brain fog sucks. Since the beginning of April, I’ve had two “goof-off” days and still wrote 500 words on those days. On Thursday, I managed 47 words. I’ve written 10K in April, which means I’m behind, but not yet unfixably behind.

After my update on Wednesday, I added a few more goals. Some of them are things that were in the “no due date” section of my Todoist and some were inspired by reading other ROWer’s goals. I’ve resisted adding reading/blogging/education/exercise goals mainly because I want ROW80 to help me focus on writing. Those other categories are pretty easy for me to keep up with.

Goals

  • Writing
    • 1000 words/day average on In Need of Luck in April or until done. – Averaging 922.
    • New! Daily free write. – Added on Wednesday; wrote Thus, Fri, and this morning.
    • New! For May/June – Scene rewrites for PHYSICa.
    • New! For May/June – Transcribe free write bits that might be useful to Abbott project.
  • Reading, related to writing
    • Finish reading River City Empire (related to next possible writing project) by the end of April. – Starting on 114/326.
    • New! For May/June – The Call of Stories by Robert Coles
  • Publishing
    • New descriptions/categories/tags for Weordan books. (April 15th) – Need to get this done Monday/Tuesday.
    • Brainstorm alternate tags for books already published. – No movement.
    • New! List of reviewer contacts. – No movement.

ROW80LogocopyROW 80 is a blog hop!

Please, check out how other Round of Words participants are doing with their goals.

Deal Me In, Week 15 ~ “Electrification”

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Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis

“Electrification” by Mikhail Zoshchenk

Card picked: King of Hearts

From: Online

Thoughts: One of the shortest pieces I’ve read for Deal Me In this year.

During the 1920s, there was a massive plan to “electrify” the newly formed Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic. Lenin believed that modernity could be brought to the whole of Russia through electricity for everyone. Zoshchenk’s little parable is about a couple whose building is recently hooked up. In the bright light, they see just how depressing their surroundings are:

In our room, for instance, we had a sofa. I’d always though it wasn’t a bad sofa – even quite a good sofa! In the evenings I used to sit on it. But now with this electricity – heavens above! Some sofa! Bits sticking up, bits hanging down, bits falling out. How can I sit on such a sofa? My soul protests.

The husband’s solution is to try and spruce the place up. He spends quite a bit of money on whitewash. His wife, she has a different solution.

This is a satire aimed at communism: “light” would bring dissatisfaction to the Russian people when they finally “see” their surroundings. Generally, I’m not a fan such, which often makes Russian literature a challenge for me, but Zoshchenk is quick and funny. This is might be the most charming satire of communism I’ve ever read.

Review ~ Rebecca

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Cover via Goodreads

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”
So the second Mrs. Maxim de Winter remembered the chilling events that led her down the turning drive past the beeched, white and naked, to the isolated gray stone manse on the windswept Cornish coast. With a husband she barely knew, the young bride arrived at this immense estate, only to be inexorably drawn into the life of the first Mrs. de Winter, the beautiful Rebecca, dead but never forgotten… her suite of rooms never touched, her clothes ready to be worn, her servant – the sinister Mrs. Danvers – still loyal. And as an eerie presentiment of the evil tightened around her heart, the second Mrs. de Winter began her search for the real fate of Rebecca… for the secrets of Manderley. (via Goodreads)

When I started reading Rebecca, Eric looked at the cover (the same edition as above) and stated, “That doesn’t look like the sort of book you read.” Despite its sort of romancy cover, I assured him that it was a classic of gothic fiction. Anytime I mentioned the book on Twitter or Reddit, it was greeted with positive responses; more replies than I’ve ever gotten about anything else. I went into Rebecca with no preconceived notions aside from it being one of those classics that I hadn’t gotten to. It came up as a part of the (now defunct) Gothic Challenge and Read-a-longs* and I jumped at the excuse to bump it up my to-be-read list.

Yet, this novel is not at all what I expected.

The narrator is very much what I’d consider a YA character. She is, of course, young. She’s still attempting to figure out where she belongs; asking those questions about who she is supposed to be, who might love her. This isn’t a terrible thing, but she is prone to flights of fancy. Constant flights of fancy. By the end of the book, it feels like every single scene had played out at least once in her head before the actual event. And I found that tedious. She’s also somewhat petty. I get annoyed with stories that are somewhat dependent on a character taking things the wrong way.

I’m also a little disturbed by the fact that our narrator actually seems to have an interest before marriage–sketching–which is inexplicably put aside for no good reason once she reaches Manderley. She’s fairly aimless until she’s called on to stand by her man at the end of the book. Is that horribly romantic? I…guess. I can understand that she’s thrown by her change in position and spends much of her time unsure of how to act, made worse by the circumstances, but she’s really sort of a non-person until the end. This is less a criticism of the book and more of a confession of confusion about why it’s so beloved.

I did like the gothic aspects of the book, although past the halfway point when nothing much had happened, I did go online and “spoiled” the twist for myself. (I’m generally unfazed by spoilers. For me, it’s the journey.) The secrets were nicely kept, with little hints here and there about what’s going on. There are issues of class and heredity throughout. Mrs. Danvers, a servant, proves to be the most powerful character. Manderley, in good gothic tradition, is a character itself. In fact, for me, it’s the best aspect of the book. If I wanted a fictional place to walk, Manderley would be it.

Publishing info, my copy: Avon Books, 1971, mass market paperback
Acquired: Paperback Swap, I believe.

* Books Under the Bed, the blog that was hosting the challenge, has been deleted. But I guess I’ll keep on reading from the list since I’ve become interested in the genre.

ROW 80 ~ Wednesday Update, 4/8

Update

I’m at 7202 for April (3052 since Sunday’s post) which means, at the moment, my numbers are good. There *is* a catch. Right now, the document includes some bits that are going to have to be deleted. Eric and I had a plot talk yesterday and it became evident that I needed to juggle my timeline and move an event to a point in time that won’t include one character. Some shifting and rewriting needs to be done. No biggie; this seems to be business-as-usual for my writing.

Goals

  • Writing
    • 1000 words/day average on In Need of Luck in April or until done. — Doing okay.
    • [Update, 4/9] Page a day free write.
    • [Update, 4/9] For May/June – Scene rewrites for PHYSICa
    • [Update, 4/9] For May/June – Transcribe free write bits that might be useful to Abbott project.
  • Reading, related to writing
    • Finish reading River City Empire (related to next possible writing project) by the end of April. — No movement. It will be my next nonfiction.
    • [Update, 4/9] For May/June – The Call of Stories by Robert Coles
  • Publishing
    • New descriptions/categories/tags for Weordan books. (April 15th) — No movement.
    • Brainstorm alternate tags for books already published. — No movement.
    • [Update, 4/9] List of reviewer contacts.

ROW80LogocopyROW 80 is a blog hop!

Please, check out how other Round of Words participants are doing with their goals.

Magic Monday ~ Review: Magic in Theory

MagicMonday

I like Mondays. On Monday, I am refreshed from the weekend and exhilarated by the possibilities of the week ahead. I also like magic. I like its history, its intersection with technology, and its crafty use of human nature.  I figured I’d combine the two and make a Monday feature that is truly me: a little bit of magic and a look at the week ahead.

Magic in Theory: An Introduction to the Theoretical and Psychological Elements of Conjuring by by Peter Lamont & Richard Wiseman

Cover via Goodreads

A useful manual for any magician or curious spectator who wonders why the tricks seem so real, this guide examines the psychological aspects of a magician’s work. Exploring the ways in which human psychology plays into the methods of conjuring rather than focusing on the individual tricks alone, this explanation of the general principles of magic includes chapters on the use of misdirection, sleight of hand, and reconstruction, provides a better understanding of this ancient art, and offers a section on psychics that warns of their deceptive magic skills. (via Goodreads)

A while back I reviewed Sleights of Mind, in which two neuroscientists take a look at what magic and magicians can teach science about how our brains work. In Magic in Theory, two psychologists provide a broader but more organized look at how many of the tried and true techniques in magic have some basis in psychology.

This book is the first attempt to draw together these different theoretical approaches and present them in a way that is accessible to a non-technical readership.

And non-technical means that it’s actually very light on the psychology and it can be read by non-magicians. There are no exposures, per se, but instead definitions of the broad categories of magic and the very basics of how a magician might go about performing those illusions. If you’re new to magic, this book would seem to provide a good introduction, and if you’ve been in magic for a while, I imagine that this is a nice refresher. Included is an extensive bibliography and a chapter on how pseudo-psychics (their term) differ in their methods from magicians.

Lamont and Wiseman know their stuff and aren’t afraid to reference their fellow magicians. I have Peter Lamont’s The Rise of the Indian Rope Trick on my shelf and the rest of his catalog on my wishlist. Richard Wiseman currently has two popular YouTube channels: Quirkology and In59Seconds.

SmallAce

What Am I Reading?

I finished Rebecca! It only took me a month… This week, I’ll be reading Who is Magic Babe Ning? by Ning Cai, with intent to review it next Monday. I’m also starting Tim Prasil’s Help for the Haunted. Another Russian author is on tap for Deal Me in with “Electrification” by Mikhail Zoshchenko.

On the Blog

  • Wednesday: ROW80 update
  • Thursday: Review of Rebecca
  • Saturday: Deal Me In
  • Sunday: ROW80 update