The Thief, by Megan Whalen Turner

The talented Megan Whalen Turner is the author of The Queen’s Thief series. Megan Whalen TurnerShe gives the following bio on her website. “I graduated from The University of Chicago with a BA in English Language and Literature with honors in 1987. I worked as a bookseller for seven or eight years before I started writing. My first book was a collection of short stories called Instead of Three Wishes. My first novel was The Thief, which was awarded a Newbery Honor in 1997.”

“A tantalizing, suspenseful, exceptionally clever novel.”–The Horn Book

This Newbery Honor Book has some fun twists and turns. The author, Megan Whalen Turner, takes her inspiration from Greece. While she has a pantheon similar to that of the Greek Gods, the story is woven with the myths and legends of their own world.

Here is the jacketflap description:

“I can steal anything.” After Gen’s bragging lands him in the king’s prison, the chances of escape look slim. Then the king’s scholar, the magus, needs the thief’s skill for a seemingly impossible task–to steal a hidden treasure from another land.
To the magus, Gen is just a tool. But Gen is a trickster and a survivor with a plan of his own.

The first half of this book was a bit slow for me. I had a hard time connecting with Gen because of his arrogant attitude. I did sympathize with his plight, but it wasn’t enough to keep me in suspense. The second half of this book was great! Engaging, unfolding, heroic, and unexpected. Overall, I liked it.

This book is the first in a series.

TheThiefAug05 QueenOfAttoliaAug05 Conspiracy of Kings KingOfAttoliaAug05

 

 

Advertisements

Intrinsic Value

After discussing writing fears with my daughter and husband, they shared nearly the same idea with me. Their separate but exact alignment on the subject forced me to recognize that I might actually be wrong.

I might be wrong . . .

tumblr_mdzw2gCvCg1ri5gz2o1_500

What was I wrong about? Writing and being an author has to make me money.

While both of them think that if I keep practicing and working hard to become a better writer, that someday my talent will be acknowledged and possibly make me some $$ cold hard cash, there is an intrinsic value to my writing that can’t be measured by money, by critique partners, an agent, an editor, or the entire publishing industry.

There is value in my writing for myself and those who see how happy it makes me. I hope that if writing makes you as happy as it makes me, you won’t let anyone take that away from you. Not even yourself.

#WriteMotivation Goal Check:

1) Write fifteen pages per week of new material.

See below.

2) Edit five hours per week.

Week 1: Edited 6 hours.

Week 2: Edited 10 hours.

Week 3: Edited 16 hours.

I’ve learned that I prefer not to edit and write new material at the same time. I tried, but my brain can’t switch very well on the same day, and while I can switch every other day, I would rather not.

Week 4: Edited 5 hours (My husband and I went on a weekend away for our birthdays, so no regrets.)

3) Read one book per week.

Week 1: The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexander Dumas

Week 2: Stardust, by Neil Gaiman

Week 3: The House of the Seven Gables, by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Week 4: Am reading The Thief, by Megan Whalen Turner

4) Critique SS for my critique partner.

DONE!

5) Read/crit L for my other critique partner.

About 2/3 done.

My Addiction Support Group: #WriteMotivation

You name it, and it’s probably an addiction for someone. But I propose that not all addictions are bad, like chocolate or writing–both of which are needed on a daily basis for me to be happy and sane.

truffles

Lindt Truffles in Every Flavor

Since I have definite goals about eating chocolate, tracked with the hips and scale method, I decided to do the same for my writing goals. #WriteMotivation is the group that helps me acknowledge the good I’m doing, and I get to cheer others on as well. For any addict-writer, here’s the place to join and get help. I can see things getting done! Here’s how I’m doing this month:

1) Write fifteen pages per week of new material.

See below.

2) Edit five hours per week.

Week 1: Edited 6 hours.

Week 2: Edited 10 hours.

Week 3: Edited 16 hours.

I’ve learned that I prefer not to edit and write new material at the same time. I tried, but my brain can’t switch very well on the same day, and while I can switch every other day, I would rather not.

3) Read one book per week.

Week 1: The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexander Dumas

Week 2: Stardust, by Neil Gaiman

Week 3: The House of the Seven Gables, by Nathaniel Hawthorne

4) Critique SS for my critique partner.

DONE!

5) Read/crit L for my other critique partner.

Somewhere in the middle.

For all my #WriteMotivation buddies, thanks for all the intervention! These cookies are for you.

Feel free to take one.

Feel free to take one.

House of the Seven Gabeles, by Nathaniel Hawthorn

Born in 1804 in Salem, Massachusetts, Nathaniel Hawthorne was an American novelist and short story writer. He died in May of 1864 and wrote many great works that include The Scarlet Letter, Young Goodman Brown, The Blithedale Romance, and Twice-Told Tales.

So . . .  What’s a gable?

If you’re not familiar with architecture, here’s what Wikipedia says: “A gable is the generally triangular portion of a wall between the edges of a sloping roof.”

gable

Nathaniel Hawthorn spends a lot of time describing the magnificent house, which is the sole setting of the entire novel. nathaniel hawthorneHis inspiration was a home owned by his cousin, Susanna. You can still visit the House of the Seven Gables in Salem, Massachusetts for a mere $7.00. If that might interest you, they have a website all about it right here.

The history of the house is interesting. “The House of the Seven Gables was built by a Salem sea captain and merchant named John Turner in 1668 and occupied by three generations of the Turner family before being sold to Captain Samuel Ingersoll in 1782. An active captain during the Great Age of Sail, Ingersoll died at sea leaving the property to his daughter Susanna, a cousin of famed author Nathaniel Hawthorne. Hawthorne’s visits to his cousin’s home are credited with inspiring the setting and title of his 1851 novel The House of the Seven Gables.

Caroline Emmerton, a philanthropist and preservationist, founded the present day museum to assist immigrant families who were settling in Salem. Inspired by Jane Addam’s Hull House, she purchased what was the old Turner Mansion in 1908 and worked with architect, Joseph Everett Chandler to restore it to its original seven gables. Chandler was a central figure in the early 20th century historic preservation movement and his philosophy influenced the way the house was preserved.” (http://www.7gables.org/history_property.shtml)

Cover House of the Seven Gables

As for the novel itself, it’s like wandering through each of the seven gables themselves, looking at every nook and cranny of not only the setting, but each and every character. For instance, he spends several pages to discuss the lineage and peculiarities of the chickens in the garden. The luxurious narrative has a purpose for Hawthorne’s many morals and commentaries on individuals and society, but as with all luxuries, must be purchased at the expense of one’s labor. This isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy the book. I loved the rich language and the masterful metaphors. Each character made me think of people I knew or ponder the similarities to my own character, and will stay with me for a very long time, if not forever.

Janus, God of Beginnings

A uniquely Roman god, Janus was the god of beginnings and passages.

janus gold statueWith two faces, he could always look to the future and to the past. The Romans named the month of January, the beginning of their year, after this god because it was not only a time for a new beginning, but also a time to reflect on the past year.

As I’ve looked on the past year, I feel good about what I accomplished. There is always that feeling of wishing I’d done more, but then I think of a phrase my husband often says:

“Everything has a cost.”janus coin

This coin of Janus illustrates my point. Like this coin can only be spent on one thing, you can spend time doing one thing at the expense of the thousands of other things you aren’t doing. And I had a great year! So I refuse to regret what I didn’t write. I refuse to regret what I didn’t clean or the nights we ate popcorn because I’d spent time with my kids instead of cooking. I don’t regret the time I spent with friends and family.

So here are my #WriteMotivation goals for January:

1) Write fifteen pages per week of new material.

2) Edit five hours per week.

3) Read one book per week.

4) Critique SS for my critique partner.

5) Read/crit L for my other critique partner.

Lastly, Janus held the key because he was the gateway to any passage: birth, death, travels, change, etc. This year, I hope his key unlocks some agent’s heart.janus picture

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Fun. Witty. Wry.

I love the first line, which we writers know is everything: “There was once a young man who wished to gain his Heart’s Desire.”

So simple. So telling. So perfect. As is the rest of the book. There is nothing left out, nothing extra.

stardust coverMy only wish was that I hadn’t already seen the movie. While not entirely the same, it would’ve been nice to start with a blank slate. Still, I loved the tale and the artful telling of it.

Thank you, Mr. Gaiman.

The Count of Monte Cristo

“On what slender threads do life and fortune hang.”

marseille Beginning in Marseille, France, Edmond Dantes finds out how true this statement really is.

After 1243 pages, one would think I was glad this was over. But far from it, I found myself quite put out when Edmond and Haydee sailed off into the sunset.

I doubt I could say more than what has already been said by poets and scholars and general readers such as myself.

My favorite part of this story was the justice, the desire to become the best person you can be despite your circumstance, and the character progression of the naive Dantes to the vengeful Count of Monte Cristo to the finally peaceful Edmond. I couldn’t recommend it enough.

And for those of you who get confused, here is a guide that will help connect the dots. I found this on the internet and do not take any credit for it, but thought it was the best, most easy to follow diagram.

character connection the count of monte cristo

 

Source: By Countofmontecristorelations.jpg:Sciguy2013 at en.wikipedia. Later version(s) were uploaded by Micromaster at en.wikipedia. derivative work: RicHard-59 (Countofmontecristorelations.jpg) [CC-BY-SA-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/1.0)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons.