Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Crimson Peak is Bluebeard

I’ve been trying to rewrite Bluebeard for years. I tentatively titled my work in progress ‘Bluebeard’s last wife’. It was my Nanowrimo project back in 2013.
I have read every version of the fairy tale I could find: the original, the Anatole France one, Caroline Wesson’s play, Henry Curwen’s Lady Bluebeard, and Bluebeard's Keys by Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie, and more. I was annoyed by the moral of the story; a wife’s curiosity is enough to cause her death. It grated at my feminist principles.
I recently read Angela Carter’s two versions and that nearly derailed me but I wanted the last wife to save herself, and in no version I found does she do that. In most she hides on the roof and screams for help. Her brothers kill him, or her mother does, or he lets her off and goes into a monastery.
I wanted her to realise she loved him but know that he was still a monster and if she didn’t kill him first, she would be the next victim.
I saw Crimson Peak in 2015 and loved it. I bought a Funko Edith. She is my desk figurine as she was the only Funko writer I could find. [Fix that, Funko. Also spoilers for the movie, obviously.]
This morning I was doing some Bluebeard freewrites. I was riffing on moving it to a different time period. Carters’ is 20th century Paris, Ritchie’s 19th century Rome, mine was medieval. Could I move it to a Gothic house and meld it with my love of Gothic Romances? I thought about getting him to beg her for forgiveness. I thought about him realising what he has become and asking her to end his life.
Wait… this seems familiar.
Del Toro’s Crimson Peak is Bluebeard.
Sir Thomas Sharpe has multiple wives. He married them for their money and doesn’t love them. He ignored them and did not have sex with them. It is his sister who kills them but he is aware of their fate. Their bodies are buried in or near the scary house. [So maybe it’s Bluebeard plus Flowers in the Attic?]
But his last wife is different. He genuinely falls in love with Edith. He loves her and she saves herself, killing him AND his sister in the process, and bringing peace and eternal rest to the ghosts of the dead wives. The ghosts she sees weren’t haunting her, they were trying to warn her. The ghosts were not the real monsters. This is a common Del Toro theme.
She stabs him with a pen which is the most awesome weapon of choice for a writer and it’s a gift from her father so that ticks the retribution box.
She loves him and she kills him, anyway.
Crimson is even red; the opposite of blue. HOW did I miss it? *face palms*
And it’s so well done. I can’t compete with that.
I have to trunk another project.
Sighs heavily.
*thinks for a day or so while the Internet is down*
Or maybe, I can just leave it medieval and hope nobody notices? Yeah, that might work.

Friday, 1 February 2019

Tracking your Reading with a Spreadsheet

I do love a good stats sheet
I was reading Smart Bitches Trashy Books, and they had a 2019 update for a spreadsheet to track your reading. Now I use Goodreads to record my reviews and keep track of stuff I own or want to read. I also keep my reviews in a Scrivener file I recently amended to include meta-data for male or female authors but it doesn’t have the extras that this one does. So, I downloaded it and gave it a go.
After a month’s worth of entries I have a better idea of whether it will work.
Specifically, I wanted to record diverse authors and book characters; this sheet has it in a pie chart. *squees*
Look at that, isn’t it pretty?

I have assumed that having goblins and giants in your story doesn’t technically count as ‘diverse’ characters. I mean if they are goblins of colour [wait… what colour are goblins? never mind…] If they are gay or queer or trans then I count them. And they have to be more than just a token character. That’s how I intend to use it, your usage may differ.
Download it at the link below if you are interested.
Happy reading.


Tuesday, 15 January 2019

I watched ALL the Poirot

Early in 2018 I bought a complete DVD boxset of Agatha Christie’s Poirot with David Suchet.
It’s a beast. There are multiple disks on each spike.
See that? 5050 minutes… almost 85 hours.
And it has taken me a little while to watch them all. It revelatory to see how the production values changed over the series; and as always it’s a game of ‘spot the awesome English actor’.
It is singularly amazing that all the main character actors stuck it out for the entire series. It would not be the same if it wasn’t the right Hastings or Chief Inspector Japp or Miss Lemon in the last episodes. Expertly played by Hugh Fraser, Philip Jackson and Pauline Moran respectively.
But more and more I see just how clever Christie was. They are amazing stories. An absolute master class in mystery writing.
It’s as if she challenged herself. I’ll make the murderer the narrator. I’ll make the murderer one of the victims. I’ll make the murderer the doctor. I’ll make the murderer all the suspects. I’ll make the murderer the investigating police officer. And so on. I’m reading ‘Talking About Detective Fiction’ by P.D. James and she laughed that all you had to do with a Christie story was pick the person most unlikely to be the murderer and you had a good chance to get it right.
Some Christie expert will no doubt swear she repeated herself, but I’m struggling to think of an example.
They focus more on the story than the method. And the thing Christie was so good at was writing these utterly appalling but somehow so English families. Decades of building anger, resentment and guilt. Adult married children still living with their parents or step-parents and waiting patiently (or not) for the old tyrant to die and leave them the estate.
Personally, I want to be Ariadne Oliver, the self insert Christie character who hates her own fictional detective. ‘Why did I make him Norwegian?’ she moans in the same way I expect Christie did about making Poirot from Belgium.

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Small moments of joy

When the world is horrible we have to find small moments of joy. Read a great book, notice a pretty flower, leave a nice comment… whatever floats your boat, or better and better, someone else’s boat.
Last month I bought a stationery set at Kmart. Yes, I shop in the children’s section. It was a Llama pack and it cost me seven bucks. I mean LOOK at this pen!
How cute is that? It is also ridiculous. And it brings me joy. I am NOT going to apologise for that.

Friday, 4 January 2019

My reading in 2018

500 titles - total of 97,333 pages with an average length of 194 pages.
Bear in mind that doesn’t include pages for audiobooks. A few people don’t put in the number of pages when they post a title to Goodreads so often they show up as a zero, too. It can only use the data it was given.
I keep my own count of my star ratings as I post the reviews. I am not overgenerous. I can’t see the point of giving every book five stars, but it looks like I give 40% 4 stars. I will mark up for diversity; call it positive discrimination if you will. We need to push the balance until it comes naturally.
5 stars: 87
4 stars: 203
3 stars: 89
2 stars: 61
1 star: 21
dnf: 39
total: 500
I think I need to read less male authors, and more diverse authors but I don’t know the stats for that. Maybe I can count that, too? It is easier to do it as I go so I’ll try that and see. I went off and added those to my Scrivener keywords. I write and store GR reviews in Scrivener and it has meta data functions that I still underuse. That’s the issue with Scrivener; I always feel as if I am paddling in the shallow end with everything it can do. And yes, I’ve done courses. [sheesh as IF I’d miss an opportunity to do a course. *laughs at self*]
And I’ve hit my first snag with book one for 2019. Ilona Andrews is a husband and wife writing team that uses her name. *shrugs* close enough. Sorry, Gordon you now have a pink tag.
I also use a keyword to remind myself where the book is. Is it a physical book? On Kindle? Kobo? A pdf from the author? A free online read? This saves me time when I’m looking for it later. There’s no point looking for a book on my shelf if it was a library borrow. A super quick summary or note that reminds me what it’s about and if it is part of a series.
So my corkboard view with the colour-coded meta data looks like this:
In 2018 I tried to put things in my ‘currently reading’ file to make me read them. It didn’t work. I have things in there that have been there all year so I am taking them out again. There’s no point guilting myself into more guilt, if that makes sense. Things change. Moods change. I’m reading for pleasure and education, not work, so nothing has a deadline unless it’s a library book. Maybe at another time I’ll get into them. That’s fairer on the books, too.
So task one is clean up my ‘currently reading’ list.
Done… woot that was easy.
If I have another aim for 2019 reading it’s read the books I paid for. I keep buying Humble Bundles and forgetting I own them. They also show up on my Kindle App on my PC but not on my phone where I often read them. This is probably a knowledge issue of mine and may be fixed by simply buying a Kindle reader and learning how to import files. I don’t think I can use the app on a tablet or laptop as it relies on things imported into it on here. To explain, I save a mobi file from a book bundle onto my hard drive, click open and it automatically puts it into the Amazon App. It also doesn’t show up as bought by me in Amazon. Another reason to check Goodreads before I buy anything.
To the research, she shouts.
For 2019 I set my goal at 365.

Thursday, 6 December 2018

post nanowrimo

Often after Nanowrimo people just stop… but I have to say, I haven’t. So, yay!
And I am totally crediting 4theWords with that. And look at me after I won a few things… aren’t I cute?

Daily word count: 
4,957 Sunday
3,300 Monday
3,638 Tuesday
1,197 Wednesday
I will try to keep up with posting. If only for myself. Accountability.

Saturday, 1 December 2018

Nanowrimo 2018 - day 30

Daily word count:  3,946
I was searching through notebooks to find things to type up in 4theWords to keep defeating wordy monsters. And I saw a prompt. And four thousand words later…
I got distracted by the shiny new idea… I know, right?
Nanowrimo is officially over with the passing of the 30th day. My 4theWord count for the whole month is 81,499 words. It’s probably a bit skewed given the early hiccups, but I don’t have a better total.
And that doesn’t count blog posts, Goodreads reviews (I wrote 29 of those) or any other things.
In other blue streak news, I posted a blog post every day this month.
Some of which are shorter than others, but that’s not a bad streak to be proud of.
So, all in all, I guess I had a successful November?
That’ll do AM, that’ll do.
The question is, do I keep doing daily blog posts with my word count?