ATP: Edinburgh

I’ve done a fair bit of traveling recently. Not as much as I would have liked to, but while Ryanair is a boon to poor students everywhere, traveling is still kinda expensive and I’m on a budget.

That said, I’ve gotten to see some interesting places. Florence, Athens, Istanbul; Dublin, Belfast, and soon Paris. But as much as I enjoyed seeing all those beautiful cities, there’s no place like home. However unfair it may be, deep down, I measure all those places against New York and find them a little bit wanting.

There’s only one city that’s managed to capture my heart in quite the same way, and that’s Edinburgh. Continue reading

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Kel’s Castle (Interior)

Interiors from Schloss Neuschwanstein. Some of the castle is a little too…excessive…for my taste, but I absolutely LOVE the intricate wood carving. So expect that to feature.

Also possibly the paintings, because I see lots of possibilities to hide clues in them for the rest of the series.

Kel’s Castle (Exterior)

I was fooling around on Pintrest, ostensibly looking for writing inspiration and really just procrastinating, when I found it.

The castle.

This is the setting for the beginning of Princess. It’s the castle where Kel and her siblings grew up, where the novel opens. And while the fictional version will have a slightly different surrounding landscape, the architecture is SPOT ON. I think I’ll probably also borrow heavily from the interior, although that’s still a bit up in the air.

So, without further ado, I present to you Schloss Neuschwanstein

     

Pintrest, but with words

I’m forever coming across things – bits of dialogue, story kernels, names, phrases – which I want to keep, thinking that one day they may make it into my writing. They pop into my head unbidden, or I overhear them on the subway/bus, or I read them in a book/newspaper/magazine/whatever and don’t want to let them go.

It’s like Pintrest, but with words instead of pictures.

I’m hardly the only writer who does this. Part of writing is being open to inspiration, and this is one way – a good way – to do it.

So I present to you some bits and pieces I’ve collected semi-recently.

Two lanterns burning and no ship at sea
What if everyone in the world had a fairy godmother except for you?
ASPCA investigator for aliens
Six-toed cats are lucky (like Flanders)
Cathedrals of sound
Dwindle, Peak, and Pine, Esquires
Personal Injury lawyers specializing in prophetic malpractice

And my personal favorite:
“Your shower smells like death.”
“That’s because there’s a vampire roosting in it.”
That one, by the way, comes from real life. My shower currently smells like something died in it, despite the fact that I haven’t used it for 3-4 years, and I am not amused.

Everything’s Beautiful at the Ballet

So I took a half day today to take a little girl I babysit to the ballet.

She was so cute – extremely excited, all dressed up, perfectly behaved the whole time. She’s about to turn five and not very big so we had to get a cushion for her to sit on. It was totally adorable.

I was actually really happy to be seeing Swan Lake. I got some last minute tickets in the fall from the Barnard dance department but I was way on the side and only had a partial view of the stage. This time we had amazing tickets – center orchestra, not too far back.

I’m not as familiar with ABT as I am with NYCB, as proved by a quick perusal of the program. I recognized only a handful of names. Hee Seo was dancing Odette/Odile, but I had never seen her before so I was interested to see how she did. Siegfried was being danced by Marcelo Gomes who is always perfect.

Hee Seo turned out to be gorgeous. She has beautiful legs and feet and extremely expressive arms (which is super necessary for Odette especially). Odette/Odile is a hard role – one because it’s a marathon and two because they’re basically polar opposites – but Hee did a wonderful job.

If I had to criticize, I’d say she’s not really a turner. Her fouettes, the big showstopper moment in act III, were not great. There was a lot of movement and she never pulled in for multiples, not even at the end. Not that I should really be talking, my fouettes are atrocious, but there you are. She also seemed to be struggling a bit with the step overs in her act II variation.

(By the way, if you want to see a stellar coda check out Gillian Murphy. Her turns start at 0:30 if you’re in a hurry although it’s worth watching the whole thing because Angel Corella is also phenomenal. I don’t love Gillian’s arms but you can’t argue with the bravura!)

Despite my nitpicks with her turns, Hee was absolutely stunning in all of the pas. She’s definitely a lyrical dancer. And when she was with Marcello – as;dlfjwa;lf. No, seriously, that is how inarticulate they make me. It was beautiful. Marcello is a gorgeous partner. And his turns! In his act III variation he did a pirouette, finished in passe, then gave us a cheeky grin and pulled in for more! God.

I was pleasantly surprised by a few of the soloists. In particular, one of the pas de trois girls and the four little swans. Four little swans was totally fierce – although I have to admit that no matter how good it is I cringe a little bit inside while I’m watching because four swans is a bitch  to do. Not because it’s that hard but it’s disproportionately difficult to do anything when you’re holding hands with three other girls. Anyway, I’ll have to keep an eye out for them in the future. The corps, on the other hand, was rather messy. I know it’s early in the run but some things were really obviously not together.

The production overall is very nice, with lavish sets and costumes. I much prefer it to the City Ballet version, which looks like it was designed and painted by a child. I understand they were going for a more modern look, which I don’t object to in principle, but the execution failed spectacularly. Ah, well.

Swan Lake also has one of the most gorgeous scores ever composed for ballet (in my opinion at least). It’s Tchaikovsky at his finest. And I’m always surprised, every time I go, how much of the music I know! I could probably hum 70% of the score from memory. Considering how beautiful and complex and tragic it is, it’s very catchy.

Some people complain about the mitigation of the downer ending, but I don’t mind it. Speaking of which, Marcello got some serious air time jumping into the lake.

So that was my day; it’s interesting timing because I just started reading Mercedes Lackey’s Black Swan (recommended by Tami). I’m curious to see what she does with the story and how she adapts it to novel form. I’m only a chapter in but I was pleased to see a nod to the four swans/cygnets in the first chapter, even as I cried a little inside, thinking about those echappe heads.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Ballet has its own language. If anyone is reading and wants a translation/elaboration/explanation just ask! Also some french words are probably spelled wrong (although I do try to get them right) and missing accents as I am not in the mood to figure out how to put them in on Blogger and no I do not want to copy-paste from Word right now.

Dangnabbit, Bria!

I’ve been away for a while, and it’s for two reasons, primarily.

1. I’ve been furiously outlining the novel.

Yes, outlining! Postit flags! Scribbles! Rearrangements! Reworkings of plot! It’s super exciting.

2. I’ve been furiously studying for midterms.

This one is not as fun. But unfortunately necessary in order to not fail at life.

So while outlining, I’ve discovered a couple of things. The most significant is that I have a whole bunch of characters who are in the first quarter of the book and the last quarter of the book and completely disappear in the middle.

Also, while there’s a lot that has to happen in Kel’s journey, there still is not enough to carry the entire center of the book on its own. There are two many slower-paced plot points, lots of internal conflict. and it would be good to have something a bit more actiony to contrast it. Also, I think if I show the effects of separation on the sisters from both sides it will make the [spoiler alert] eventual reunion more impactful. The readers will care about Bria just as much as they care about Kel…hopefully. Especially because eventually there will be a second book and Bria will have a much bigger part.

[I’m going to interrupt this blog post to make a note to myself because I just realized something – if I continue as planned I will have the girls apart for two books…I should probably then keep them together during the third book, maybe even a good chunk of the second. Ooh, and then I can show how all that time apart, especially for Bria, has changed them and they can fight and grow apart and have to repair their relationship…oh this is excellent]

Showing more of the Hound means we lose the shock of the “twist”, but he’s an interesting, complex character and I think the trade off is worth it.

Also Bria is quite insistent that she wants a bigger role. She’s a very vivacious little girl and refuses to disappear for half a book. I might add that originally she was supposed to have an even smaller role than she does not. She’s gone from very much a peripheral character to a viewpoint character!

The World is a Funny Place

The other day in Archeology class, the guest lecturer was presenting his research around Taos in the Rio Grande gorge. Many of the slides were pictures of students in cowboy hats but there were also lots of images of rock art.

One of  the rock art panels had an image on it: a small circle inside a larger circle, with squiggly lines radiating between them.

It looks exactly like something I sketched for Princess.

It gave me some ideas for how to reveal important magic-system information in the second book.

In the meantime, I should get back to the first book, since I haven’t written that one yet (but I’m starting soon!!)…