Friday, November 25, 2016

NaNoWriMo 2016: FINAL Recap!

Summary: Well, that just about does it! 50K words, and I have successfully completed roughly half of the plot. Now I can rest up for the remainder of the holiday, and enjoy returning to old projects and releasing my first publication, Princess of Undersea! Thanks for joining me on this journey, and I hope you will stick around to watch the chapters show up on Wattpad! Sign up for your free account now, so you don’t miss a single moment of this epic adventure!

Tuesday: Phew! After starting the week at 40K, I still managed to hit the requisite 1,667 words for the day and maintain my profound lead! (even if it took a bit of finagling to do it!) I tell you what, it was almost hard to accomplish the build-up after the huge break-out between the characters. I mean, writing out Janet’s complaint and the whole disconnect between Ben, Justin, and Edith was just fine, but it was the aftermath, where everything still had to stay tense, but I needed to find closure for the chapter, and it was harder than my piddly little notes let on! But I made it, Chapter 5 is ALMOST DONE, and I only have 2 more chapters to go, and then it’s back to the fun part of the story!

Wednesday: First day of Thanksgiving vacation, and I manage to pull off ALMOST THREE THOUSAND WORDS in my first writing session! Hallelujah, and let’s get this over with. Chapter 5 is officially finished, weighing in at just over 5 thousand words, compared to the others which were more like 3 thousand or so… probably going to have to restructure to even things out a bit more, but also, I believe that I know exactly how it is. The main fact of the matter is, I successfully created a plausible emergency scenario, while at the same time created an opening for my headstrong and staunchly independent group (well, some more than others) to successfully escape the masses and the traditional emergency protocols, without actually disregarding said protocols. They exist, they are happening—it’s just that my characters in particular weren’t having any of it. At the second writing session, I managed to finish off Chapter 6, clear 45K words, AND I got myself all geared up to finish Chapter 7 without too much continuity errors (it was a little hairy there for about 30 seconds when I got everyone to the boat with virtually nothing in hand… then remembered that by Chapter 8 they at least have enough stuff to set up a small survivor camp… so of course they needed personal things to start with!) and for sure start a little bit of Chapter 11 just to fill out my 50K!

Thursday: DONE. DONE. DONE-DONEY-DONE-DONE!!! Holy mackerel, that last 2K was the HARDEST FOUGHT because I was kind of more focused on getting that tiny word count than “losing myself” in the story, the method I would use sometimes in the parts where it was easy to imagine all of the little details. I would picture myself inside the scenario, or mapping out a scene from a movie, and I would just feel like I was “free-writing” but everything was absolutely a detail of the story. Who knew it would be so difficult to get people down a tropical river where there really ought to be lots to see—but how much detail? And if I do put a lot of detail, how do I know if it’s the right details? Wouldn’t want to go rambling on and on about something, only to discover later that IT NEVER EVEN EXISTED IN THAT LOCATION! But I made it through, I FINISHED Chapter 7, and now I am DONE with NaNoWriMo!!! FIFTY. THOUSAND. WORDS. And I am immensely proud of every last one of them. There has been a HUGE difference this year than in years past, since this is essentially the FIRST time I have actually WON NaNo with only ONE novel. The last two years were my first times winning ever, but in 2014, if you remember, I did the “Clay Heroes” story, but that only ended up 28K, so mid-month I had to scramble to find something else—which was actually okay, because I was stuck in the middle of “The Last Inkweaver” at that time, so I was able to use the rest of my NaNo word count to add chapters to that, and I ended up winning. Last year, in 2015, I felt like adding to the ReBible series, since I had a whole bunch of new ideas that I wanted to try out, and I hadn’t touched it in a while. So I picked four ideas and ended up getting that fifty-thousand word count between them—but, again, that was more than just one idea. The other three years, when I did have just one idea, I never made it to 50K. (Well, 2011 and 2013 for sure—but 2012 was the year I wrote “A Writer’s Tale”… a month too early, so I really couldn’t know whether or not that would have been a win or not!) This time? This time is different. This time, my win is legitimate. Of everything I wrote, it all boils down to just the one novel, The Amazon Triangle, and I FREAKING DID IT. I’m going to go have my Thanksgiving dinner now, and I am going to really enjoy the rest of this month.

So What’s Next?
What’s “Further Upstream” for me? Well, releasing Princess of Undersea, for one thing, like I mentioned. As for writing projects, I know I only have a few more chapters to the end of “Commander’s Courage”, so there is finishing that up… Also I am going to get back to writing “The Water-Man” on Wattpad, while I’m posting the chapters of “The Amazon Triangle” for your enjoyment. (For those who are not aware, you’ll be able to see updates more frequently from me on the development of my new phase as a published author, and updates from other writings not on my blog if you go to Facebook and “Like” my Author Page, “Leslie Conzatti—The Upstream Writer”) And, coming in the new year, it looks like I’ll have to find something to do… Meanwhile, please could you, Person Reading This, follow this hyperlink to the Serial Saturday series I was doing in the months leading up to NaNoWriMo, called “Clan of Outcasts”, and if you could, just read it and PLEASE leave a comment to let me know if you want me to continue it? I can’t help feeling like maybe it just didn’t get very much notice when I was first posting it, but if it really isn’t interesting, I would very much like to know that feedback, too! I’ve only heard that one person enjoyed it… if there are any more, please let me know, and maybe I will post more, if not in December, then starting in January! Thanks a bunch for your continued support, and I hope you enjoy what you see here!

Catch you Further Upstream!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Reading Lists 2016: Ranked Reading List 5

Here we are at the fifth and (probably) final Ranked Reading List of 2016! Have you enjoyed having the books ranked like this? Would you like to see them like this next year, or more like I've done it in years past--Monthly lists, Seasonal lists... How frequently would you like to see the lists? Let me know in the comments! Meanwhile... On with the show!

#10. Ancillary Justice 
Ann Leckie

I had been looking to pick up this book since a friend recommended it to me on Goodreads. I had also seen it in the runnings for a Summer Indie Book Award competition a few months earlier, so I figured I would give it a go and see how it would fare. The blurb looked fascinating, so I started reading. Bottom line: I was confused by the time I started the second chapter. It starts out innocently enough: the narrator, a girl, finds a body frozen in the snow on a wintery planet. From there it goes to a flashback where I slowly began to realize that the “girl” was actually multiple people—multiple consciousnesses, each doing “her” own thing at any given moment. Additionally, the body—to which “she” had referred in feminine pronouns, was identified by another character as actually a “he”—but the more I read, the more this multi-personified narrator constantly used feminine pronouns for everyone, which made it hard for me to keep track of who precisely was speaking, as they didn’t really have a “voice” when I couldn’t figure out the difference of gender! I would have to say that this was the most distracting thing about the book, and it really kept me from enjoying an otherwise rich, deep, and intriguingly twisted plot. Not that I have anything against an author choosing to remove genders as a factor—but, as with Scott Westerfield’s Leviathan, the fact that the author chose to make such a big deal out of it, and constantly reiterate it over and over again, kind of made it hard to immerse myself in the story.

#9. The Maze Runner
James Dashner

This was one of several books on this list that I chose to read because of the movie—but in this particular case, I actually saw the movie first (the other two are recently-released movies, so of course I haven’t seen them yet.) I rather liked it, actually. I will say that the casting was very well done—I could easily imagine each actor in the roles from the book. It’s amazing how, actually, races are never really described in the book (since the narrator, Thomas, has little to no memory, and thus no basis to identify other nationalities), but it was the particular way each character spoke that makes the reader go “Ah, this is the country of origin for the character.” This information, then, must have played a part in the casting choices, which is why they fit so well with the accents they chose. (Of all the non-American actors, only one—the obviously-British character in the book—got to use his natural accent) As for the story, however… Meh. It was okay, it just kind of ruins the suspense, I guess, seeing the movie first, because I already know how it all turns out—and while normally, spoilers don’t bother me, I really can’t seem to shake the disappointment over the outcome of the series. Hence, it really lessened the propensity for sympathizing with the characters the book really wants the reader to sympathize with. Bummer.

#8. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children 
Ransom Riggs

For as much as I’m looking forward to the film, it’s really a surprise how low on the list this one ended up. It has all the hallmarks of a great adventure: the fact that Riggs took actual photos and crafted such a fantastic story around them kind of reminds me of my own endeavors in doing the exact same thing—but at the same time, it was also kind of a little bit less impactful than the others. No less enjoyable, and I’ll probably (most likely) end up reading more of the series—but it’s Number 8 so that’s a thing. I love the creativity, there were some very endearing character moments, and good development.

#7. Dream A Little Dream  (Silver Trilogy #1)
Kerstin Gier

I admit I was very surprised to find this one! I had no idea that she had other books besides the Ruby Red Trilogy (which I loved so much I bought the boxed set!) but there it was! And, despite being seventh on the list—don’t get me wrong, I really loved it! The characters were wonderful and flawed without making a too-huge deal about their flaws. The theme of “dreams” echoed throughout the entire narrative. Oh, and she also has a dog that was originally named Dr. Watson (good choice!) until they found out it was a girl, and so they changed the name to Princess Buttercup. (another excellent choice!) Now that I think about it, this story is kind of like an easy-read version of Raven Boys: not so dark, steeped in heady lore, and running with adult themes, but still: young girl has a remarkable ability she’s not sure of, but this ability unwittingly throws her in with the most popular and notorious boys in the school—and at once, the whole group is plunged into peril that none of them see coming. Well-played, intriguing, and funny by turns, this was a wonderful find, and I can’t wait to read the next one! (Apparently it still has to be translated, I think; at any rate, I could only find the original German version on Goodreads… so you can BET I went and entered the whole thing on Google Translate to find out what it’s going to be about!)

#6. The Girl on The Train 
Paula Hawkins

Yet another book I picked up because I saw the trailer for the film adaptation and was very intrigued by the premise. My feelings now that I’ve read it? Holy buckets, I don’t know whether I should be excited to see Emily Blunt do an amazing job at portraying the lead character… or terrified to actually see such a chilling book brought to vivid life. I think it might have been worse to see the film without having read the book… maybe I can actually enjoy the film now that I know the outcome… but, considering that the central characters are all very messed-up individuals, like the manipulative pathological liar, the alcohol addict, the floozy, the abusive husband… should I enjoy a film like that? Who knows? But the book was absolutely great and all the twists just kept coming at me with no warning. Definitely a mind-trip!

#5. The Whole Truth (A. Shaw #1) 
David Baldacci

On the one hand, I enjoy that Baldacci is so prolific, because I really enjoy his style and I love discovering his new characters. On the other hand—a prolific author means that the library closest to my house doesn’t always reliably have the first book in a series, and those who know me know that I always like to start a series on Book 1! But finally, I found at least one “series starter” that I hadn’t read yet—and man! It was a doozy! And, considering the State of the Union right now, very timely. The main protagonist is a contract hitman who is trying to grow a conscience and actually managed to find someone who makes surviving his suicide missions worthwhile—but his boss won’t let him quit. For the “antagonist” side of this story, Baldacci chose to delve into the concept of “perception management”—the “spin doctors” hired by politicians and government agencies to blow events out of proportion and control media attention, putting visuals and “virals” into place, to make the general public believe and “see” a certain way—when in fact the truth is that the whole thing is a sham, a hollow display of smoke and mirrors, a “public outcry” with no substance, a “protest” of a “tragedy” that never actually happened, though there are people in place who will swear up and down that it did—and most people would rather follow a new hashtagging trend or a blog post with a sensational headline than actually bother fact-checking just what the hashtag or blog is really saying. Sound familiar? Yeah, anyway, that’s all I will say on that. The book was really good and I really liked Shaw as a character, and YAY, I have a new Baldacci series to follow!

#4. Sabriel (Abhorsen Trilogy #1) 
Garth Nix

Another recommendation from a friend—and this one was quite the winner! Garth Nix is kind of like a combination of Gaiman (like Stardust, there is a magic realm, and a not-so-magic realm, separated by a capital-W Wall) and Sanderson (like Mistborn, a young girl inherits a terrible duty from her father, and she must see it through, even if it kills her). Since I really liked both of those concepts from those stories, I was already most of the way to liking this book as soon as I started—and Nix delivered a sound and wonderful story on every level. The “Charter” magic is more of the traditional sense, where the users are tracing symbols in the air and speaking words of power (kind of like the variety Doctor Strange uses) and it’s Sabriel’s job, as “the Abhorsen”, to not only find her father who has been wrongfully drawn into Death, but also find out who has been breaking the Charters and allowing the Dead to pass into Life. An intriguing mission that rings consistent throughout, and very much interesting all the way to a spectacular end. Definitely going to read the rest of this series!

#3. The Raven King (The Raven Boys Cycle #4) 
Maggie Stiefvater

For all the series I am starting in this batch, I also happen to be finishing one as well. And what a finish! Holy mackerel. From the very beginning, the narration (by Blue) has reminded us time and again about how kissing would result in death, so she’s always been afraid of falling in love (because falling in love means kissing, duh)…. But then she meets the Raven Boys and sparks fly so neatly, and then there’s also the Hunt for Glendower that kind of comes along and overtakes the whole objective of the story—and through it all, the reader becomes so closely acquainted with each and every one of these characters that we are invested in their lives… even though there hasn’t been much in the way of actual backstory until this, the final book. All I can say is: if this was a typical YA series, you would expect everything to begin and end with (of course) Blue and (of course) Gansey/Adam… BUT it’s Ronan. From beginning to end, it’s Ronan. And kisses are definitely things to treasure, and not to trifle with. And this series wrecked my feels again.

#2. The Last Dragonslayer  (Chronicles of Kazam #1)
Jasper Fforde

Okay, so this one wasn’t exactly recommended, but I have a few friends whom I saw reading Fforde’s books on Goodreads, and besides—there were dragons, and if I’m not gonna get anymore Mediochre Q. Seth (BOOHOO!!) by golly, I need to get my dragon-fix somewhere! So, the Chronicles of Kazam, it is! Jennifer Strange (HA!) is a foundling who runs an employment agency for magicians, but in a world where magic is rather a mundane thing, like a handyman skill more than a “mystical and awful art.” Plus, the agency is not doing so well currently because magic is actually fading away—and what is a magician without magic? The famed Last Dragon is the only beacon of hope for magic-users of the world—but at the same time, the Last Dragon is predicted to die at the hands of a Dragonslayer, and rumors are flying about some kind of Big Magic coming, but what it is and what it does is still unclear. All Jennifer cares about is keeping her job and keeping the magicians gainfully employed… Whose idea was it to add “Become a Dragonslayer and Slay The Dragon To Fulfill The Prophecy” on top of all that? It’s fun, it’s hilarious, it’s British, there’s dragons… I loved it! 

#1. The Last Mile (Amos Decker #2) 
David Baldacci

For how many books he already has out, I’m surprised (and pleased) Baldacci is still churning new ones out at this rate! It seems less than a year ago I saw Memory Man (the first Amos Decker book) hit the shelves at the local Barnes and Noble… and now here’s the second book already at my library! (For as long as I sometimes have to wait for a Mark Lawrence book… Oh well, I guess the library staff has different priorities! At least I haven’t missed a book!) And of course, for as many Baldacci books as I have read… one of them was bound to nab the Number 1 spot on a Ranked Reading List at some point, and this one definitely takes the cake! I really love Amos Decker as a character—he’s “cursed” with hyperthymesia, which means he can’t forget, and also synesthesia, which means sensory cues are associated with other senses, like emotions having a certain colored aura, or certain sounds or smells being associated with numbers. The “Last Mile” refers to an inmate on death row taking the last walk to the lethal injection—and in this case, Amos happens to believe that the inmate is innocent, because the “confession” is remarkably similar to the canned confession of the initial suspect in the murder of his family in the first book. But some very powerful people desperately want this conviction to go through—so Amos and his friends in the FBI need to work together to make sure that the right perpetrator receives the punishment. It was a very deep and moving narrative, with glimpses into Amos’ back-story with glimpses into his relationship with his own family. Like him, the convict is a football player—but the loving family this young man always thought he had may not have been as caring and honest as they appeared. I really loved it, and definitely this was my favorite out of these ten I read!

On to the next stack of books!

Previous Ranked Lists:
List #1
List #2 

Monday, November 21, 2016

NaNoWriMo2016: Week 3 Recap!

Summary: Holy buckets! I will be honest with you, I almost didn’t make it. Week 3 had a rough start of it—I hit so many of the difficult transitions all at once, PLUS work kind of ramped up on me, since we’re leading into the Thanksgiving holiday, coming up here soon. But, by jingo, I made it! I survived—and I AM STILL AHEAD!! For The Win, I’m not even kidding!

Tuesday: Grrr—Blah! Busy day, only about 500 words written, which is the smallest amount I’ve had all month! But, let me tell you, that 2-day lead is STILL in effect, and I’ve STILL got a bunch of time to make up for these rough days, and stay ahead so that I can STILL finish early! Today on the “Conflict Radar” is not only the difficulty between Ben and the Amazon Neyri—building up to when she reveals about the Japanese soldiers trapped in the space with them—but also earlier in the story, where I need to finally paint the picture of the brewing split between Ben and his dad—due to fictional schedules and timelines being what they are, I need to find some way to keep the characters from absolutely taking off at each others throats until the NEXT day, when reality surfaces—but how to take a phrase like “they avoid each other” and actually write it out so that the characters DO seem like they are passively (or actively) avoiding each other—how to do this? I mean, there are only so many places they can go. I do have an idea of how to make it work—now I just need to keep myself motivated enough to write it!

Wednesday: YESS. Successfully achieved tomorrow’s word par, so now all that remains is staying ONE day ahead, until the Write-in on Saturday, when I can really let loose and do my best to have a fantastic “make-up” day like I did last Saturday. Still gunning for being able to FINISH NaNoWriMo in the 5-day break I have around Thanksgiving! (Which will likely be more of manically writing on alternating days over that whole time, since I know for sure Thursday and Saturday I will very likely not have ANY time to write!)

Thursday: Still a day ahead! I made it to 30 thousand words by the skin of my teeth, let me tell you. I just feel like I need to get these chapters 4-7 DONE so that I can just move to the furthest point I’ve written and just continue on from there. The skipping around really worked back when I had a BUNCH of words to make up, but anymore it’s just making more tedious work, since I’m finding more and more places where references to previous events would really develop the characters in the conversation—but they are events and conversations they haven’t had yet, because I haven’t reached that point in the earlier chapters. Good grief! These characters are ending up wonderfully unique and very distinct, though, which helps a LOT in crafting a scenario with multiple perspectives. Ben is really inquisitive, but also obsessed with reconnecting with the rest of his group, Edith doesn’t entirely trust Justin, but at this point he’s the only familiar thing she has, so she’s kind of showing her “weaker” side by clinging to him more and constantly second-guessing herself. As for the parents, Hank is more interested in the wealth of exploration this (apparently) deserted corner of the world affords, while Frank is just mad that he’s so dependent on his two “inferior” friends, and Janet is just more irritated, the longer they wander. Of course, it won't be long now till the moment at which they won't have to wander--because the Amazons will take them captive and force them to march to whatever kind of area they use to keep prisoners in. (I still have to decide what it will be... On the one hand, a cage is always highly useful, and rather public so they might not like that very much; on the other hand, I'm also picturing kind of a deep pit... but how to get Frank and his wounded leg into a pit...)

Friday: Tee-hee… So this was not a very “productive” day, per se—but I was already a day ahead so in my opinion, any amount of progress I made on this day would still be contributing just as much to finishing early as ever. I reminded myself that the more I wrote today, the less I would have to write to get MASSIVELY ahead on Saturday! I’d planned on getting all my chores and stuff done in the morning, or at least soon enough that I would be able to actually arrive earlier than 2 o’clock, so that would give me plenty of time to just write for at least a minimum of two hours. My goal is to have chapters 4 through 7 DONE by the end of Saturday. As long as I can manage that, I’ll be good for the rest of the book. Here goes nothing! I am so excited to be so close to finishing!

Saturday: HALLELUJAH. I had seriously the BEST day of writing I’ve ever had this WHOLE month! THREE THOUSAND WORDS just in this day ALONE! I finally finished that bothersome Chapter 4, and while the middle got a little muddled, as far as finally getting Justin, Ben, and Edie all together while sending their parents off in separate directions, it all culminated in that one shell-shocking scene where Janet discovers exactly why Justin looks so familiar… PLUS in the later series of chapters, most notably Chapter 10, which was originally devoted to Ben being revived by Neyri and she would be very forthcoming about the Japanese platoon that is trapped along with the mermaids… You know, I tried stretching that scene out as long as I could, I tried coaching Ben with obvious leading lines and pressing questions, but Neyri didn’t bite. So then there was that part that was originally on Chapter 9, where my notes just said “adults are captured by another tribe”… but the way that chapter turned out, Edie and Justin kind of took up the whole word count with their own issues and whatnot, so I couldn’t exactly transition as well as I expected to… BUT turns out it fit so much better at the end of chapter 10 because Ben kept mentioning and wondering about the parents anyhow, so to then transition to focus on them after that whole thing made a lot more sense. Well, then, since I needed to finagle a reference to the Japanese anyway, and the tribe that’s going to capture them is by far the most aggressive… It just makes sense that an aggressive tribe trying to catch a group of adults unawares would decide to use a wounded soldier (whom they hate, anyway) as bait, right? So there is Chapter 10 finished, and I am SO READY TO BE DONE, IT’S NOT ALL THAT FUNNY ANYMORE!

Sunday: Another day… and I’m STILL two days ahead, and only now I have finished Chapter 10, instead of Saturday like I thought I would. (That’s the trouble with writing these updates “live”, is that sometimes I can assume too much about the strength of my motivation… oh well!) At least now I can say that it’s done for sure, and the three parents are well and truly captured, and everybody’s tucked away where they’re supposed to be. (Oh, and by the way, I went with a pit under a gently-sloping entrance; of course it knocked Frank out, but at least it didn't break his leg!) There was even some time today where I decided I wanted to use some Japanese phrases—but, Google Translate being what it is, I wasn’t getting the right translations (I thought) so I hopped on Facebook and asked the NaNo group, and somebody responded with almost the same replies I was getting from Google Translate (but when I would try to back-translate, take the Japanese text and feed it back through to English, the translation was all messed up, so that’s what scared me! Good to know I can still use it with impunity and hopefully it won’t confuse anybody!) PLUS this was the day that I started Chapter 5, so I think what I can do is pull back and focus on finishing up the big gap of chapters 5 through 7 over Monday and Tuesday (because, being the only two days I work this week, I am pretty sure I won’t have time to do much write, just like last week) and then when the holiday begins on Wednesday, I can resume on Chapter 11 and away we go! It feels so good to be so close to the end.

Monday (Today): Huzzah!! I made Wednesday’s word count, and I made it through Jan’s account of her and Frank’s relationship! That was a bit of a sticky conversation to have, so many details and emotions to deal with. Because Edith has always known Jan to be the “serial girlfriend” and she’s seen plenty of boyfriends who end up dumping her mom for stupid reasons, or she ends the relationship because the other guy is treating her unfairly—but in this case, the guy is Justin’s dad, and Edith has always considered Justin to be fairly harmless. Her mother’s reaction to the sudden reappearance of Frank seems to indicate otherwise, and Edith needs to figure out if her trust in the Dillards is misplaced. It took several unexpected turns, but I think it came out all right, and it definitely set the animosity in motion—I’m going to have fun writing that out tomorrow! Meanwhile, I am fairly certain that I will actually manage to successfully complete the 50K by the end of the week, and then it’s back to writing all the projects I’ve had to set aside to focus on this one! (Maybe after some other projects are finished, I will come back and finish this one off, but until then, I don’t mind taking a little break and revisiting some of my old characters!) 40K HERE I COME!!

So, coming up next week… It’s the home stretch! Join me for the helter-skelter race to the finish line, as I wrap up my LAST 10K right in the thick of the holidays, and revel in the joy of finishing off chapters 6 and 7 at long last!
Catch you Further Upstream!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Reader's Review: "Conner's Odyssey: Discovery" by Ian Bristow

Synopsis from Amazon:
When 14-year-old Conner finds himself on Rohwen—a world as dangerous as it is wondrous—he is forced to come to the hard realization that the only chance he has of finding his way home rests in the hands of a 15-year-old Rohwenite named Medwin. But Medwin has other plans for him. Lost in a world he knows nothing about, Conner has no choice but to follow Medwin on a journey that, unbeknownst to him, will uncover the truth of his destiny.

My Review: 

What’s more fun than making new author friends? Finding out that said author lives in one’s area! That’s right—yet another network connection via Jeffrey Cook, and a willing donor to the Upstream Writer Review List! It sounded like a fun adventure (and I am not one to resist a good, light-hearted fantasy!) so, after whittling down on my To-Read list a bit further, I finally got to take a crack at reading Conner’s Odyssey: Discovery! (Warning: this review isn’t as spoiler-free as most of my other reviews, but I try to gloss over specific events, and I don’t give away the ending… much… Sorry in advance!)
The beginning was mundane enough—young boy’s life is uprooted as his family moves to another state, and he’s feeling forlorn and left-behind as he has to start all over again. Life is so uncertain, he goes exploring in the woods behind his house… and discovers a magical portal that leads to another world—and that’s where the story really begins.
After the generic beginning, I kept waiting for it to take off and show me a breed of fantasy I hadn’t seen before—and, to my delight, it did! Turns out a very specific line of people in this world have a power called “cognition”, which means they can will things into existence, or manipulate matter with the mind. Conner has this ability, of course, but it’s a while yet before he receives any kind of training or explanation.
Unfortunately, the “cognition” aspect was the beginning and end of the originality in the plot. One of the first people he meets is a boy about his age, and his father—who inform Conner that he was a prophesied Chosen Hero to defeat the wicked and malicious mage who yearns for ultimate power to do whatever he wants, and uses his cognition for evil purposes. Of course, the father and son decide that the son should guide Conner on an epic journey across this fantasy world, to find the mysterious and reclusive good mage who will explain everything to Conner. There’s a sea voyage with all the perilous trappings you could want in a fantasy-world sea voyage, an epic battle between the forces of good and of evil, dramatic death scenes, and…
A talking wolf?? Yeah, I was a little thrown by that one, to say the least. No other non-human beings have the power of speech at any point, nor is it implied that there is a race of Talking Animals… To be quite frank, I wasn’t expecting this character to actually be an animal at all, so the effect was rather haphazard and it sort of lessened the impact a loquacious character like him would otherwise have had.

Bottom line, I loved the cognition, and any part of the story having to do with that: the villain and the mentor were both wonderful characters, and the way Conner and his in-world friend related through the fact that they both could use it (the difference being that the boy had been practicing cognition all his life, and Conner had only just learned of the possibilities it presented) and the ensuing friendship and character development that went on between the two—everything about it was absolutely wonderful! I could appreciate the quality a little better when I considered it more of a middle-grade novel, instead of YA like most of what I’d been reading. So if your reader is between the ages of 8 and 12, and they love fantasy and epic battles and sword-and-sorcery-and-sea-serpents type of books, then Conner’s Odyssey is definitely the series to read!

Conner’s Odyssey: Discovery earns itself a hearty ****4 STAR**** rating from The Upstream Writer, and I’ll throw in a Middle Grade Recommended rating as well! It’s clean, it’s wholesome, the characters make great points—from a "seasoned" reader’s standpoint, yeah, it’s got little “dings” and “scratches” and it’s not the most mind-bendingly awesome thing that I’ve read—but it’s a solid start to a great series for parents who want to give their kids something worthwhile to read, and that’s good enough for me!

Further Reading (YA/Young Reader/Fantasy Adventure)

The Alexander Legacy--Sophronia Belle Lyon
   -A Dodge, A Twist, and A Tobacconist
       -The Pinocchio Factor  
-Puck's Choice--Skye Hegyes

Monday, November 14, 2016

NaNoWriMo 2016: Week 2 Recap!

*For the recap of Week 1, Click >>HERE<<

Summary: Week 2 is in the BAG! A lot more writing time this week than the last one, and I am proud to report that I have successfully maintained the meeting of my word goals each day! A quick note about the promise of excerpts that I made… I was all excited to do that, I really was… And then the next day I promptly changed my mind. I do kind of want to save the actual story itself for the Wattpad edition, I think. So last week was all about “How To Get Writing Done Without Losing Your Job”, and this week, I think I’m going with a “Character Focus”!

Tuesday: Week 2 launches, and I really want to keep my lead, so what better way to do that than by just skipping ahead and writing the part that I’m excited about? That’s right, the “un-excerpt” that spawned this whole idea has now become part of the official Amazon Triangle narrative! Whereas the first time around all the action was in first person, with very little context, now I needed to go through and figure out how the actions of the story flow into and out of it. I decided early on that my poor victim would, of course, be Ben—as a matter of fact, right about the time I wrote this scene for my Suggestion Box series. (Which is also how I decided on his name, incidentally!) So Ben gets separated from Justin and Edie after they had already split up from their parents, because the three healthy, younger people had a better chance of reaching the shore quick enough to attract a rescue vehicle, than the older adults, what with Francis getting badly wounded in the cruise accident and all. (which I haven’t written… all in good time!) Anyway, he gets separated, the caiman goes after him, and—well, I guess you’ll have to read it when I post it on Wattpad if you want to find out what happens, right? It’s Chapter 8, just so you know.

Wednesday: And Chapter 8—the chapter with the caiman attack—is finished! Justin and Edith are off running in the jungle, while Hank, Janet, and Francis are making their slow and tedious way to another part of the coast, heading at an angle so that maybe they’ll reach it sooner. I also rambled my way to the end of Chapter 3, the chapter introducing Justin and his somewhat tenuous relationship with his father—and also the second mention of the cruise that is the central inciting moment to kick this story’s action level into high gear. Everything you know is about to change, and you’ll find yourself questioning reality, when the beginning had seemed so much like a straightforward romance—complete with ex-lovers and romantic intrigue, as Justin only recently figured out that Edith’s mom might have been a former girlfriend of his dad—which Edith herself didn’t know her connection to Justin, just that he was a good friend of the guy she happened to start dating, after they got along so well in a math tutoring scenario. Of course, once this information is out, the three friends decide not to tell their parents; out of the three of them, only Hank and Francis have ever met, and even then, Francis made a point of not keeping in touch, as a silent disapproval over the way Henry thinks and functions, and a preference to keep the friends that meet his approval. Neither of them know that Edith is Janet’s daughter, and Francis has all but forgotten about Janet in the ensuing years—but the cruise is coming in the very next chapter, and all the “status quo” is about to change very drastically!

Thursday: CHAPTER 3 IS FINALLY DONE!! Man, I was so hyped up with the caiman side and Ben’s whole “first contact” thing going on that it was almost a real struggle for me to then go back to the “introducing the characters” portion and try to deal with actually INTRODUCING Francis Dillard in the plot. But I did it, and that’s done. Know what else I got to do in Chapter 3? Write in a co-worker. That’s the risk of being friends with a writer, people! She told me she wanted to be in my novel—but she didn’t want to be somebody who died on the cruise ship crash. So I made her the PR manager for Francis Dillard and his company. It worked very well; made her British, gave her a Lincolnshire accent (because I’ve heard the difference and I think it would sound cool with the actual voice of my coworker!) and the same sort of professional-grade snark that my coworker has! She is the one person who dishes Francis’ pushy attitude right back at him, and he trusts her enough to let her boss him around, because she really has his best interest at heart, and she wouldn’t tell him to do things that wouldn’t be for his benefit. If he gets snippy with her, she gets snippy right back, and still manages to remain calm and professional about it. So much fun. (If any of my other coworkers are reading this… I guess you’ll just have to read it on Wattpad to find out who it is! You will know instantly when you read the name; I hope she likes the portrayal!) Forward to more words!

Friday: Grr, I feel like I just can’t move forward with Chapters 4 thru 6 (namely, “The Cruise”) because I just don’t have enough information on how a cruise actually works! What my characters could do, where they could actually go—I’d like to not have to BS my way through the WHOLE novel if I can, and actually have some fact-based stuff to work with when I formulate the context for all the relationship tension that is going to happen (two words: NUCLEAR FALLOUT) but it doesn’t look like I’ll get that luxury after all. Meanwhile, I went and pegged away today’s word count in the form of Chapter 9, a somewhat mundane “filler chapter” between Justin and Edith. I guess I wanted to give myself an opportunity to delve deeper into those two characters, after letting Ben have the spotlight in Chapter 8… But it isn’t quite going as smoothly as I planned. Bugger. I just feel like the whole chapter is the equivalent of “Words, Words; Lots of Words” just to get the word count. Speaking of word count… I TOTALLY NAILED 20K A DAY EARLY! Man, I knew Saturday was going to be fun because I finally got a full day ahead of schedule! And with as successful as I have been this week, the rest of this month is shaping up to go so smoothly, and for sure I will finish early!

Saturday: OH HOLY BUCKETS!! So first of all, a HUGE thank-you to Ryan Howard for pointing me to the Cruise Stories site, which is basically a travel blog that contains anything and everything I would ever need to know about cruises to be able to write this story! I now have a better idea of where my characters will be staying (for example, the tickets that Edith won with the writing contest will probably be the cheap ones, in a “porthole cabin”, whereas the Dillards would well be able to afford a nice, stately suite with a balcony) and more specifically the kinds of things they will be doing, and the sights they would see on the ship. (Since SPOILER they won’t necessarily get the opportunity to get off the boat before everything goes sideways!) and also to my new “assisfriends” (Dirk Gently reference… even though I didn’t find the pilot all that compelling IT’S DOUG ADAMS OKAY??) Julia, who happens to be ON a REAL CRUISE this week, and Wendy, who actually worked on a cruise ship some 30 years ago… They have been TREMENDOUSLY helpful in giving me LOTS of useful information that has done WONDERS for my ability to write these chapters!
PLUS, I was able to finish up Chapter 9 (woohoo! FIRST CONTACT actually goes to Justin and Edith! Even though, probably, it’s happening simultaneously with Ben’s experience—but as far as the plot goes… oh, this was fun!) which means a total of OVER 23K, and I have only finished 5 out of the 20 chapters planned! That’s some good writing, right there! The fact that I successfully cleared another word par a full day ahead in only one morning of writing, means that I will most likely be able to get TWO days ahead over this weekend… which bodes well because I know that the closer I get to Thanksgiving, the busier I will be! Whoopee! Writing on!!

Sunday: Great Googly-Moo! I did it! 25K achieved—and exceeded! It feels really good to be so far ahead, it does! Suddenly there isn’t so much pressure to get ALLOFTHEWORDS in for the day, and I know that whatever progress I make in a day will be just fine, and the rest can be left for the weekends, where I get super amounts of writing done! Wendy is now a character in my novel, a super-helpful cabin steward who does a great job at putting Janet and Edith at ease. So now everybody’s on the boat, though just now, the Morrisons are merely references, I haven’t actually honed in on their POV yet. I figured they would be the sort (especially with Ben coming along) to arrive at the docks earlier than all the rest, since it would be very important for Henry to be there, even if Ben doesn’t really want to. The trouble is, as soon as I finished the scene with Edie and Janet, motivation to continue the chapter immediately dropped—so instead, to continue to make up the word count, I just wrote out the notes for the rest of the chapter, instead of forcing myself to write the whole thing out when I really didn’t feel like I wanted to. It worked! So there we have it. I also did a little bit of Ben reviving in the company of an Amazon who is more sympathetic toward humans, by the name of Neyri. Carnossus is like her “cat”, even though Carnossus is a gigantic panther (like the size of a pony—big enough to ride on!) and also the one who rescued Ben from the caiman. Fun times!

Monday (Today): Okay, I don’t have much time to write today because we’re having company over this evening so I need to help my mom, but I at least got a little bit in, just trying to write out more of Chapter 4 from the notes I left myself, and proceeding on the scene between Ben and Neyri Fun times! The fact that I have 5 completed chapters and 2 half-chapters brings the total to around 6 chapters, and half the word count in the bag already—so this begs the question: how close am I going to be to finishing it all by the time 50K is completed? I know I’m probably not going to have much time to write after Thanksgiving, and there’s no telling just how excited people are going to be to see it on Wattpad—I mean, if I don’t get a lot of views or votes on the chapters I have already finished (at this rate, it could be as much as 12 chapters… incidentally, as many parts as the Clan of Outcasts, which very few people seemed willing to feedback about…) then what’s the point of pushing myself further? Especially when technically I should probably be getting back to the projects I put on “hold” to be able to work on this one: Commander’s Courage, Merely Meredith, The Water-Man… You know, I’m actually surprised that I’ve been able to write so much with the material I have for this particular project. All through the planning stages, I thought I was good with the 20 chapters in my plan, because if I allotted 2500 words for each, that would bring me to 50K words total—but then Chapter 1 ended up more like 3500 words, and that’s been the average for each of the chapters, so I guess that means I underestimated the average size of each chapter. That’s a good thing, right? Oh well—I guess my question would be: who wants to see me finish this? Would you rather see more of the other half-projects return? Lend me your opinion!

Hope you enjoyed this glimpse into the inner workings of some of my current scenes. I’m thinking next week, I’ll be mostly dealing with the scenes containing a lot of “Conflict Exposition”, so that, I think, will become the daily theme for my recap! Hope you enjoy it! (P.S. Interested in seeing some of these “older works” that I refer to in my recap for Monday? Just click the hyperlinked text, and it will bring you to the excerpts from each title! Hope you enjoy those as well!)

Monday, November 7, 2016

NaNoWriMo 2016: Week 1 Recap!

The first week of NaNoWriMo is officially at an end!

Summary: Boy-oh-boy, it's hard this time around! I don't know what it is... maybe because work is so much more involved (which is a REALLY GOOD thing, don't get me wrong) this year than in years past, I just feel like I'm not blasting through the plot on all 4 cylinders like I have in the past. Maybe that's a good thing, because it means I have so much material that I can produce these thick, beefy chapters, consistently over the minimum—it means I can reach the word goal of 50K words long before I reach the last chapters of the 20 I have planned. However, it also means that I am spending large amounts of time on these “boring” introductory chapters, and I just have to hope I won’t burn out before I finally reach the “good parts” of the story!

Daily Run-down:

Tuesday: Woo! Barely out of the gate… and already WAY behind… Didn’t exactly get any writing done during the day, and came home from work largely exhausted, so blah! Three hand-written pages in my notebook ended up only amounting to less than 750 words, and by the time I got them all copied down at the end of the day, I didn’t have very much energy to do more than double that… which is still less than the daily average should be. I don’t know, maybe I can make it up later?

Wednesday: Running at a deficit definitely bites—more so when I’m STILL in Chapter 1! Good grief, when I made these notes I don’t think I anticipated just how long I would be able to draw out a single conversation, nor how easily I would be able to transition between conversations with the characters. It just happens that way when I have “in the moment” reactions going for my characters. Maybe planning and thinking about them for so long ahead of time really helped me to be able to devise how each would naturally have a distinct reaction from each other. HELP ME I AM STILL BEHIND BY LIKE 800 WORDS!!

Thursday: My first write-in! I am proud of myself. Last year about the only “community participation” I ever did was the Kick-Off, one leg of the Write-in-Motion, and the TGIO party… So glad I met some socially proactive people at the Kick-Off this year! I could only stay an hour and a half, and I did it by hand, not on the computer, but I definitely filled two whole pages! So what if it only amounted to less than 1,600 words? Finishing Chapter 1 was totally worth it! Spending 3 days on a single chapter (well okay, one chapter and a prologue) may feel a little backward and depressing, but this next chapter is going to be fun, and I foresee more of a chance to see how far I get through it!

Friday: Cursing parrots. That’s what this has come to. I have taken the phrase “the parrots are swearing” from my notes and I have padded my narrative by including repeated phrases that you will never EVER hear me utter—but I typed them out for the sake of the word count. (For those interested in seeing the draft on Wattpad when I start posting it, I will be mincing the oaths and softening them considerably, so no worries!) It’s kind of fun—they’re adopted from the local animal shelter as a mated pair, so of course, Edie—being the romantic-nerd-girl at heart, names them Gomez and Morticia… but the swearing! It’s cathartic, to say the least—but it also feels a bit scandalous. AND I AM STILL FREAKING BEHIND BY LIKE 700 WORDS!! I need help. Oh, and also, I did a Very Dumb Thing—I went to the library. To pick up “one hold.” Of course, I came out with no less than SEVEN books… which I am (ostensibly) “NOT GOING TO READ” (or so I told myself) because I have SOOO many ebooks to work through and SOO much writing to catch up on. So that is a thing that happened, and this does not bode well for me!

Saturday: Help has arrived in the form of HELLO I AM SETTING UP MY OWN WRITE-IN! I posted it the night before, and by the next morning, a few people had responded! Totally doing this thing! I get to the (I thought) agreed upon location… who knew that Salmon Creek would be one of those places that had STARBUCKS LITERALLY LESS THAN A MINUTE APART??? It took a while but we were finally all together, three of us (and, for once, somebody from my “team”!) and WOOHOO I blasted through to the end of Chapter 2!! (Is it telling that I chose to write the bulk of this blog post on this day as a sneaky way of making up my deficit?) I am now officially ahead of “word par” and it feels so much better! Looking forward to another productive day of writing (in spite of all the goings-on that I have on Sunday) that will put me AHEAD going into the next work week!
Sunday: 10K in the bag! I actually managed to make up the difference quite quickly, on account of getting antsy for the “fun part” starting in Chapter 8, when they’re all in the Amazon Rainforest and about to get split up, some captured, and others attacked by a caiman. I blitzed out about a thousand words there, even though, chronologically speaking, I should be working on Chapter 3. The story is coming so much easier now, it’s kind of amazing. I have had a really productive weekend, and I couldn’t be happier!

Monday: (Today) Okay so… not much writing accomplished at work (of course not!) which puts me kind of behind the eight-ball for today, but with the weekend’s accomplishments, I am fairly certain that I will be able to make up the deficit. My hope is to be able to gain and overtake the daily word goal, now that I am no longer at SUCH a deficit like I was at the beginning. And knowing that I actually can make up the difference over a weekend is helpful! (Especially since not every weekend is going to be as busy as the one I just had! Yay for more writing time!)

On to Week 2! Once I finish Chapter 3, the real fun begins, as all the characters have been introduced, and it’s time to set events in motion to get the story moving! Keep an eye out for excerpts this coming week, and feel free to leave a comment on any previous post, to motivate me to keep writing! Thanks!
P.S. Oh, also, one small note, in case you were wanting to read the "Clan of Outcasts" series all in order, to get a real sense of the whole story going on, I’ve gone through and added “Next Post” links to every post, so you can start HERE for Part 1 and read all the way through to the end! I hope you enjoy it!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

NaNoWriMo 2016: Meet the Cast of "Amazon Triangle"!

Francis Dillard—Mid-forties. owner of Dillard, Incorporated, a real estate developer company responsible for acquiring land and designing and constructing buildings for large office firms and multiplexes all over the First World nations. Francis is a firm, shrewd businessman, absolutely fixated on being in complete control of every aspect of his business, and he wants nothing more than to see his son Justin become the same kind of leader in the business. He allows Justin to dabble in each field consolidated under the Dillard umbrella, so that he would use that knowledge to be able to place orders with adequate expectations as to what the various contractors are capable of.
Francis dated an American exchange student named Janet Alden, but they broke up after a year. When Justin got accepted into an exchange program at Columbia University in New York, Francis saw this as an opportunity for a firsthand visit to his American land holdings. He bought a penthouse in Manhattan and is there most of the time, conducting deals and negotiating with other business clients—only venturing out for in-person meetings over a meal.

Justin Dillard—mid-twenties; the son of a reputable business magnate, he might have been regarded as a "silver spoon" child, except that he never fought to be recognized by everyone around him. Justin prefers the background, takes more of a supporting role to others. He has had enough of his dad pushing and dragging him into the limelight, he capitalizes on his father's constant distraction and obsession with work, and uses his free time to pursue his own interests. He spends most of his time in the architectural division, chatting with the designers and contractors about their work, and even drawing up his own designs. There is one building in particular, under construction in London, that Justin himself designed, but because the architectural contractor presented the plans to Francis, then the father has no idea that his own son is responsible for the project. 
Justin got into the Columbia University exchange program on a business management degree to please his father, but he is also studying for an undergrad degree in architectural design. He met Ben in an Anthropology class taught by Ben's dad, Professor Henry Morrison, and the two became great friends because, while Justin found Ben to be a lot like Francis, he also found Ben's manner tempered by a lot more understanding of Justin's freedom to make his own choices.

Professor Henry "Hank" Morrison—mid-forties Professor of Anthropology at Columbia University. Ben, Justin, and Ben's girlfriend Edith Alden all take his class for the "Humanities/History/Sociology" credits, even though Edith, as an Education major, would be the only one who actually needs credits in those specific areas. Hank became fascinated with the effect of folklore on cultures during a two-year stint at Oxford University as a Sophomore/Junior, which is where he met Francis (whom he calls "Frank" even though literally no one else does) and the two hit it off well because of Hank's amiable and open demeanor, and the fact that Janet had only recently dumped Frank, and he was a bit depressed over it. Hank drew him out of his "post-girl funk" and the two became close friends for many years. When Frank managed to start the contracting company that would later become Dillard, Inc., he became so engrossed in his work that he all but forgot about his old college buddy, till Justin moved to New York and met Ben, and the two boys discovered the connection between their fathers. Henry's wife did not appreciate his impulsive, easily-distracted manner, as his fixation on the things he studies and his discoveries often caused him to forget important events or other tasks she wanted him to do. Henry's interest in folklore always tends to play a part in his lectures, as he seeks to prove that literally any kind of social value and practice will have some story or another to explain or reflect it. The real recognition comes, though, when he is invited on a tropical cruise through the Bahamas, to speak on the cultural connection and historical basis for the legends surrounding the Bermuda Triangle. The cruise, they say, will pass very near the Triangle (without crossing the nautical boundaries) on the day just after he is scheduled to give the lecture, to give a real-world backdrop to his talk. Little does he know that one single night is going to change his life forever.

Ben Morrison—mid-twenties, Business Finance major at Columbia University. Tends to have a more straight-laced personality, to off-set the impulsive, open personality of his father. His mother was the same way, and wound up turning to alcohol (drinking and "socializing" too much) and eventually separating from Hank, and moving all the way to Florida to commiserate with her family. Ben lives with his father while studying at Columbia University, and during his junior year, he met Edith Alden, a freshman in need of math tutoring. Ben obliged, and the two hit it off very well, as Edie proved receptive to Ben's attempt at starting a relationship, barely-romantic as it was. He was pleased to discover that Edie understood his rationality, and did not mind the absence of "traditional" levels of sentiment, as Ben's gifts to her tended to err on the practical side, and he bore no ill will if she decided to use the gift rather than save it, and he understood when she would decide to get rid of a gift that was no longer useful, for economy's sake. Neither Ben nor his father initially knew Edie's mother's connection to the Dillards--and even Edie herself didn't know that Ben's best friend Justin was the son of her mother's ex-boyfriend. Ben tends to be the schedule-keeper for his dad; whereas his own mother couldn't figure Henry out, and gave up trying to understand him, Ben always observed his father carefully, and learned to interpret his mannerisms and predict when his father would need someone like Ben to step in and assist him. He doesn't need the Anthropology credits, but he attends some of the lectures anyway, mostly for moral support of his father. He definitely appreciates the way Henry still makes time for and shows an interest in him, in contrast to the way Justin speaks of his father largely ignoring or overlooking him.

Janet Alden--Mid-forties. Janet has held multiple jobs over the course of her life, and none of them for very long, much to her daughter's chagrin. Originally from England, Janet met Frank in her first year at Oxford, but by the following year, they had a falling out and she dumped him. A group of American students came the next year as part of the student exchange program (Henry Morrison among them) but Janet, rather than remain in England, applied to be one of the students heading to America instead. There, she began a string of relationships that all started out well but ended up badly, and somewhere along the years (during which she quit school and tried to find jobs that could pay the rent, all while moving all around the state in search of affordable housing) she got pregnant, with little idea who the father actually was (but a fair amount of certainty that it wasn't her current boyfriend.) Not wanting to be saddled with a family just yet, her current boyfriend made her choose between continuing a relationship with him, or raising the baby on her own, so Janet entered a new phase of life as a single mother. Desperately wanting that simple, pleasant childhood that she remembered from her days in England, Janet worked hard to be able to provide for her young daughter, regularly browsing the classified ads in the newspaper for anything that she could reasonably handle. Fate seemed against her, though, as it happened with almost regular certainty that, no sooner would she start a job, than extraneous circumstances would remove her: a pizza kitchen burned down overnight, the family she nannied for moved away suddenly and without warning, the hotel went abruptly (and mysteriously) bankrupt--and so many others. Janet isn't fazed by much, and, circumstances notwithstanding, she has actually managed to stay in the same townhouse since Edith got the scholarship to begin attending Columbia University, and she still combs the newspapers every day for the two of them, eager to see her daughter succeed in the life she never quite had.

Edith Alden--mid-twenties. Born while her mother's life was in turmoil, Edith craves a steady job, steady life, and steady prospects, but never quite had it. She made it through high school largely fending for herself as her mother juggled several jobs to be able to afford rent. She learned to live simply, because no sooner would she become attached to something, than they would downsize and have to get rid of it. Instead, Edith turned to writing stories, because that was something she could own that didn't take up any space, didn't deteriorate, and she could bring with her wherever she went. Her dream has been to become a published novelist, but she has had to settle for being just a blogger with big dreams. She enjoys dating Ben Morrison because he is predictable and steady--everything she craves in her life. She loves her mom and does not hesitate to pick up the slack because she knows and appreciates how hard her mom works to make a life for them both--but at the same time, she longs for the day when they won't have to work so hard just to live. Between her and her mother, Edith is the only one who has ever managed to hold down a steady job on a consistent basis, so she regards herself as the principal breadwinner of the family, while Janet is terminally "between jobs." After extensive research of many colleges, Edith finally found a well-funded scholarship at Columbia University, where she could take a job at a local daycare to pay for each semester after her first year's tuition, which she earned by winning a writing contest. She is studying for a degree in Education because she has an interest in helping others understand the world around them. She tends to have a very rational view of the world--a quality she shares with Ben--and no room for joking or playing, since those were luxuries she couldn't really afford in her helter-skelter life. She tries to be lighthearted and cling to a positive outlook, but the rose-colored glasses are certainly more of a conscious effort than a natural perspective for her.

Let The Story Begin!!