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Surprise Midnight Dumpster Diving

  • Posted on January 22, 2015 at 3:04 am

I’m writing this as I sit in contented glow on my nice warm couch, gazing upon the red glint of my new vaccuum cleaner. It’s handle is snapped, wrapped in layers of duct tape and masking tape, as it to hold on by a single thread that last hope, and even that didn’t save it from the dumpster in which I found it. It sits next to my movies now, it’s permanent home, where it will clean my couches in peace.

This is but one of the joys I discovered tonight, during a round of Surprise Midnight Dumpster Diving. This is what I’ve come to name the odd event that happened to me. After bicycling home at 10:00pm, in 19 degrees farenheit, from my six hour shift (which I took in four inch heels, take that.), I had found myself in front of dumpster diving youtube videos. I honestly have no idea how I got there, maybe from a beauty tutorial, who knows. But the important thing is the next string of thought that entered my mind.

“I have friends who dumpster dive.” followed by “I know the Sally’s Beauty supply is closed right now.” quickly tucking into “I should text them and see if sometime this week we can go dumpster diving at Sally’s Beauty.”

Their reply was a little unexpected. “Do you want to go tonight?” Well, my next shift isn’t until 2pm tomorrow, so… WHY NOT.

So me and my friends, a married couple who have fallen on hard times recently, head out in the (rapidly falling) chill, to rifle through companies dumpsters in hopes of finding good things. I didn’t find that makeup I had hoped for, but I did find a nice milk crate, a few generous shoe boxes, of which my plants will be thankful for, they could use a boost towards the sun, and that lovely vaccuum.

Now all of this would be just another fun night on the town, had it not been for a conversation I found myself having. You see, recently, I’ve been suffering from a feeling of expiration. I’ve read somewhere that a woman is at her peak beauty at 25 years old. And after that, well? It all falls downhill. This has plagued me, tormented me, for quite a while. I don’t know why. I know I’m intelligent, and I know that I have so many more things to offer the world than my pretty face, but still! It really bugged me!

And while talking with my friends, they helped me realise this one, very, very important fact.

I am not milk, which sours on some predetermined date.

I am wine, which grows more rich and flavorful with every passing moment.

A day in the life of a saleswoman

  • Posted on December 20, 2014 at 1:52 am

As my schedule is varied and odd, I find my sleep schedule to be rather moot at this point. So while I sit awake at 1:14 am, I find myself contemplating my life choices. So therefore, I thought I would go through a day as myself. Perhaps this will help show some revelation or appearify some solution to my odd malaise.

Sleep has always been an odd thing for me. I remember when I was a young teen, I would go to bed, and lay there for hours on end, ‘elven dreaming’. I would later recognise this as a form of dissociation, but to me, it was simply a way of living a life inside my mind. Like reading a good fanfiction or reading a story I’d written myself, I became someone else in my mind, and that person lived a whole different life. Often, in the presence of my favorite characters, and in lives that I envied. It was often this that lulled me to sleep. Now, I don’t have this ability, and often I find myself sleepless.

When I wake up, it is usually at the start of what I call my “Get Ready Hour”. This is the hour I give myself before I have to leave my apartment in order to get ready for work. I don’t know when I started giving myself an hour, but I think it was perhaps in middle or high school. Every other day, I shower in the morning. When I shower, I brush my teeth before hand, and shave in the shower. I was my face on days like this, usually. Sometimes, I forget.  After my shower, I get dressed in clothes I prepared before my shower.

My work calls for me to be well dressed. My favorite outfit currently is a pencil skirt made of thick material, tights in a cable pattern, and a nice blouse. I usually put either a cardigan or a suit jacket over that. Jewelry goes on next, after I brush my wet hair into shape. I don’t do my makeup at home. I tend to think of this as a waste of time. After all, I have such a long commute.

Then, I check my computer. I usually end up replying to anyone who is on Skype, and to my roleplays. Then, I watch youtube videos, or surf tumblr. If I feel particularly self-defeating, I check the views on my site. Lately, I’ve been feeling as if I am horrible for not posting more, since there are people waiting patiently for new posts. I make promises to myself to post more. It doesn’t really work much, but I try.

When it hits the end of the “Get Ready Hour”, I put on my scarf and coat and set my headphones in my phone. I turn on an audiobook, via the OverDrive App, and start my commute. I get my bike out of the shed, the blue one with it’s little baskets on either side of the back wheel, and I bicycle the five blocks to the bus stop. Usually, I arrive just five or ten minutes before the bus I need. Sometimes, I am late, and have to wait twenty minutes for the next bus.

While I wait for my bus to arrive, I usually have time to curl my eyelashes, and apply mascara and eye liner. The audiobook I’ve chosen continues to play in the background. Once I see the bus coming down the block, I put away the makeup and set my purse on the ground. Putting my bike onto the bike rack of the bus, I then take my purse back, and get onto the bus. I have an old badge from an old job where they still provide free bus-passes via your badge for employees, so… I must admit I am stealing free bus rides every day to and from work.

On the bus ride to work, I usually finish my makeup, and then switch to music instead of the audiobook. I either surf the internet on my phone, or take one of the books I keep in my purse out and read them. I usually get through half a chapter. Maybe. Once the bus ride is over, I get off and bike around the mall-building to the bike-rack. Locking up my bike, I go inside, and wait around the time before my shift.

Work is difficult. Especially when I rarely seem to understand what I’m supposed to be doing at any time. I have a few routines I go through, which help a little. I clean the glass at the counters. I greet customers, and offer to show them something like our one carat diamond rings, or our Vera Wang collection. I try to talk them into buying something, and most of the time I succeed! During lull times, I talk with my coworkers, or I clean jewelry. I check in repairs and call guests. I straighten the jewels in their cases, or I try jewelry on, and dream.

Recently, I’ve found myself feeling jealous of the women who come into my jewelry store. Their perfect nails. Their perfect hair. Their perfect families, and husbands, who buy them things that I sell. I wonder if I will ever find something like that for myself. If I even want something like that for myself. Do I want a husband, who will work hard and allow me these jewels? Do I want to earn the jewels myself? Do I want what those women have, or do I just think so because I see it from the outside?

These are thoughts I have on bad days. On good days, I think about how much I’ve earned by selling them. One percent of my sales is my commission, and that, along with my hourly, makes for decent paychecks. I usually get a half hour paid lunch, although I always feel guilty for taking it. Me, my boss and one other full timer are the only ones who take lunches. The third full timer takes fifteen minute smoke breaks instead, and the part timers don’t take any breaks at all. You see why I feel guilty?

I don’t really ever make myself lunch. I started doing that for a while, and then… It became difficult. I couldn’t make myself get up early to make them, and making them the night before meant thinking about work the next day, and I just… I don’t know, it feels like something dangerous to do. Like if I think about that, it’ll make it come sooner. So I tend to forget breakfast. Lunch comes in the form of a cheap pizza meal at the mall food court. The girls know my order by heart now. I try to compliment them often. In fact, they know me so well they’re willing to loan me lunches on credit, if I need it. That’s a bit dangerous.

After work, I have two routines. If it’s after a night shift, and I’ve closed up, I bicycle home. It’s a four and a half mile bicycle ride in the cold, but I listen to an audiobook on the way home, and I get to see the city lights, which isn’t half bad. Plus most of it is downhill. If it’s an opening shift, and I get off before the buses stop running, I usually take one of them home. I sometimes stop and have dinner on the way home, at olive garden, or the rio grande, or some other restaurant around town on my way home. The food is good, but I always feel guilty about spending the money, because I know I should cook at home, and I know I should save money.

When I get home, I turn on my computer, and immediately continue what I was doing when I left. Watching youtube videos. Playing on Tumblr. Checking my stats. I don’t usually eat until I’m so hungry that I’ve passed into nausea. Then, I find the simplest meal I can make, and eat it. Sometimes, I write. Some nights I take a bath, or make a masque for my face, so that hopefully, I won’t lose much of my beauty. Sometimes I bake. But I haven’t recently.

I check a website called Sleepyti.me in order to find out when I should go to sleep to wake up on time. Until that time, I play on the internet. And then, I go to sleep. Sometimes, I masturbate. And then, I get up in the morning to do it all again. A day in the life of a saleswoman. My life is boring, I think. Although to be honest… I do love my life. I hate it but I love it at the same time.

Breaking Down Nemesis: Part Six

  • Posted on September 7, 2014 at 9:20 pm

Welcome to part six of Breaking Down Nemesis! Part Five ended at the end of Miss Marple’s first day of her tour, gifted by the dead Mr. Rafiel. She’d been vaguely introduced to fourteen people who would be sharing space with her, and confirmed another part of our Agatha Christie Code.  For those of you just joining us, Part One explains the Agatha Christie Code, and what we’re looking for to confirm it.

I’ve finally figured out what has been bothering me with the last few chapters. And to be honest, it’s what we’re looking for in the first place, so I’m not sure WHY I didn’t notice it before! You see, Homestuck had this same situation. The beginning was so boring, and lifeless, that I almost quit that too! In fact, I did, for several years! And then, I came back, reread it all, and got past the parts I thought were boring, and managed to delve into the meat of the story! I’m glad I did reread it too, because it had a lot of content that made future bits make more sense!

Now, often people compare Homestuck and Agatha Christie novels, because people believe that Homestuck follows the Agatha Christie Code. So, I stuck it out, and kept reading Nemesis. And it turns out that Nemesis is following the same key! The intro is long, descriptive, and can sometimes be considered boring, but is full of rich information that one needs in order to understand the later plot.

In fact, in this chapter, we begin to learn more about those around us, which is going to come in handy later, I’m sure. The chapter begins in a Queen Anne Manor House. For those who don’t know what those are, Queen Anne Manor Houses, are a type of architecture popular during Queen Anne’s reign in Britain (1702-1714). It’s a type of Baroque architecture,  noted for it’s grand, yet simple designs.

A Queen Anne Manor House

A Queen Anne Manor House

In fact, one of the guests on Miss Marple’s tour, Mr. Richard Jameson, is an architect who happens to be in love with the style. In fact, he’s hijacked the entire tour in order to go on and on about it, pointing out things like special moulding on fireplaces, and historical references similar to the ones I just gave you.

The tour-guide gets a little tired of it, and declares that in the next room, the White Parlour, was where they found the body. However, before you think that this is the murder that Miss Marple is to put to rights, he is quick to inform you that it was in the 1700s, and begins to tell the tale.

A young man, with a dagger through the heart, right on the hearthrug. The Lady Moffat of the day, had a lover, and when he came through a small side door and down a steep staircase, Sir Richard Moffat, her husband, caught them together.

Mrs. Butler, the american woman, declares it absolutely romantic, and her husband begins to inform everyone that she’s ‘sensitive to atmospheres’. I take this to be old-timey speak for psychic. Miss Marple, along with a few others, quickly make their escape, before Mrs. Butler and her husband can swindle them all out of their pocket cash.

Miss Cooke and Miss Barrow have followed her, and Miss Marple manages to explain that an old friend of hers had a nerve-racking experience with a dead body on her library floor one morning. While discussing it, Miss Marple recounts that the dead body had been a young woman in an evening dress. In fact, she’d dyed her hair as well.

And this triggers the memory of having met Miss Cooke! I knew that name was familiar! See? It pays to keep attention on previous bits. Now Miss Cooke has in fact dyed her hair! It was dark, but now she’s blonde! Maybe she did it because blondes have more fun? However, Miss Marple doesn’t bring it up. She doesn’t have time.

Mrs. Riseley-Porter interrupts, declaring she can’t go up or down any more stairs, and decides that everyone is going to take a tour around the garden instead. Since she was an authoritative old lady, she got her way, and Miss Marple, Miss Cooke, Miss Barrow, and Colonel Walker all headed to the garden, where Miss Marple took a seat.

Miss Elizabeth Temple followed her, and the two old ladies bond over how boring the lecture in the house was. Which of course, leads into a discussion about the tragedy of when people die young. Miss Marple argues that it is a tragedy, and that they miss so much. Miss Temple argues instead, that they miss nothing, for they are dead.

“What did T. S. Eliot say: The moment of the rose and the moment of the yew tree are of equal duration.”

I greatly like this quote, and I feel it would be something that people were forced to learn in school. It makes a very good argument towards Miss Temple’s side of things, of course. Which is, perhaps, the reason Miss Agatha chose it!

An awkward conversation leads to Miss Temple asking Miss Marple to guess why she is here. We discover that Miss Temple is on a self-imposed pilgrimage Whatever that means to her, of course. Luckily, this leads to a conversation about Mr. Rafiel, and we find out another interesting tidbit!

Miss Temple was acquainted with a girl who DATED Mr. Rafiel’s son! Again, I’m relatively sure that Miss Marple needs to find out what happened to Mr. Rafiel’s son. Also, I wish I had another name to call him besides Mr. Rafiel’s son, because that gets very tiresome. Anyway, it turns out that the girl was engaged to Mr. Rafiel’s son, but didn’t marry him.

She died. Of course she died, and it turns out she died of… Get this. LOVE. That’s all Miss Temple will say on the matter, too! How mysterious? Who was the girl, and why did she die? And what did Mr. Rafiel Jr. have to do with it? Oh. That’s it. I’m calling him Junior from now on. Anyway, what did Junior have to do with her death? Was this the reason he was considered taboo? And what is Miss Cooke doing? Why did she dye her hair?

As you can see, Miss Agatha has clearly mastered the art of leaving us with more questions than she answered! Not only that, but we’re getting even more insight into the other characters, as well. We now know Mrs. Butler, who’s nickname is Mamie, by the way, is ‘sensitive’. Why is she ‘sensitive’? What point was there in knowing that, other than to make that character mildly interesting for a few moments?

The lesson here? Leave more questions than answers. Especially at this early stage in the book. We are, after all, only six chapters into a twenty two chapter book! So, ladies and gents, tell me: How do you intend to leave your readers guessing? Leave a comment with some explanations, or maybe an excerpt or two!

Breaking Down Nemesis: Part Four

  • Posted on August 27, 2014 at 8:31 am

Welcome again, to another installment of Breaking Down Nemesis! Once again, we are here to learn and experience Miss Agatha Christie’s work, and perhaps find a link to the elusive Agatha Christie Code that I keep hearing about. Essentially, the idea is to break down and discover if an Agatha Christie novel really is addictive! For this experiment in literature, I’ve chosen a random novel from her Miss Marple series, titled Nemesis. 

If you’re lost already, please see Part One, Part Two, and Part Three for the previous installments, that way you can keep up with the mystery as it unravels! And don’t forget to subscribe to see future installments, as well!

In the beginning of this chapter, we are introduced to Miss Marple’s sneaky side. In chapter three, we get to see her be sneaky when she asks Cherry, her assistant, to phone Mrs. Anderson, in order to find out if she’s at home, or out and about. This plan included a caveat that was to have Cherry inform Miss Anderson that she, Cherry, was Mr. Broadribb (Mr. Rafiel’s lawyer)’s secretary, and that she was to meet him at his office, but only if Miss Anderson was out and not to be back today.

The brilliance of that plan still makes me giggle. Honestly, it sounds a little like something I’d have done when playing Dungeons and Dragons, and setting up a trap for someone! Unluckily for us, we don’t get to see how that might have played out. I’d like to point out that this sort of organic thinking is coming a bit more often now. Or maybe we’re beginning to understand Miss Marple’s thought process a lot clearer, now that we’re actually involved in her investigation? Miss Christie certainly has me by the ear.

It turns out that Mrs. Anderson was out shopping at the supermarket. And who should she collide with, but Miss Marple herself! And as if the old codger wasn’t planning the whole thing, the two of them talk as if they’ve just run into each other. Instead of having the conversation she wants to have right there, Miss Marple instead arranges to visit Mrs. Anderson at home, instead.

Now, this might seem odd, but if you think about it, honestly, Miss Marple has the right idea. Mrs. Anderson will be more comfortable at home, and we might get to see what it was that the two of them are so at-arms with each other about. I can’t wait to find out myself!

The two exchange pleasantries for a little bit, and then Miss Marple seems to try to slide small questions in there, to find out more about Mr. Rafiel’s supposed request. She also takes a moment to notice that the oppulence of Mrs. Anderson’s new home, and connected it with a possible inheritance by Mrs. Anderson from Mr. Rafiel. Miss Marple asks if he left anything to the Nurse-Attendant Jackson, and finds out no he did not, and Mrs. Anderson hasn’t even seen the gentleman since they worked together.

Another series of questions by Miss Marple, and I’m beginning to see that she has a bit of a built in camouflage.

“…I was thinking it only the other day, after I’d seen the notice of his death. I wished I could know a little more. Where he was born, you know, and his parents. What they were like. Whether he had any children, or nephews or cousins or any family. I would so like to know.”

Esther Anderson smiled slightly. She looked at Miss Marple and her expression seemed to say “Yes, I’m sure you always want to know everything of that kind about everyone you meet.”

We’re getting more hints as to how people see her. Mrs. Anderson clearly thinks of Miss Marple as someone who is overly curious. But it’s tempered by the old-woman camouflage I was talking about. Everyone expects her to be nosy, because that’s how old women are! Take this lesson to heart. Let your characters use their own camouflages. If a woman wears glasses, let her put her hair in a bun, and pretend seriousness, despite her real personality. If a man has a raspy voice, let him pretend that he is dark and dangerous, when necessary. And when a person looks younger than they really are, let them use that childishness to their advantage to make others underestimate them! Remind yourself constantly of who they appear to be to others, so that this can be turned one-eighty and used against them!

The two go on to discuss more information, specifically about how Mr. Rafiel lost his wife long ago, but had three living children. Two daughters, and a son. One of the daughters married, and now lives in america, and the other daughter died, very young. It turns out there was trouble between father and son!

Picture Courtesy of bildungblog.blogspot.com

Picture Courtesy of bildungblog.blogspot.com

Apparently, the son was a scandalous sort, and died a few years ago. Mr. Rafiel never spoke of him. Odd that a deceased son, who was involved in scandals shows up just as Miss Marple is looking for a mystery, don’t you think? However, the two of them quickly come to a derailment, as the events at St. Honore get brought up again! And it turns out that Mrs. Anderson is still upset with something Miss Marple did in the Caribbean, but instead of actually discussing it, Mrs. Anderson stares coldly at Miss Marple, who takes her leave.

After leaving Mrs. Anderson’s home, Miss Marple determines that maybe, just maybe she was wrong to visit Mrs. Anderson, and thinks that perhaps there’s nothing to do with her at all in this mystery. I’m not quite so sure, but I think Miss Christie wrote it that way. I still can’t tell if this is a red-herring, or if I’m honestly right when I think that Mrs. Anderson is going to have something to do with it.

Eventually, after doubting herself a little bit, she comes to the same conclusion I have, which is that her old-lady-camouflage is a wonderful trait to have, and that she comes to recognize what people are like, based on who they remind her of. After that, she goes to sleep, thinking that it is entirely up to Mr. Rafiel to give her some sort of sign as to what exactly she is supposed to be doing.

This chapter in general, I think, was to show us more of Miss Marple’s character. I’m not sure anything really got done, other than, perhaps, clearing Mrs. Anderson of suspicion, and refusing to hand us any real clues as to what it is that Miss Marple is really supposed to be doing. Another point towards the Agatha Christie Code, as I was told that there was to be a lot of description, and slowness getting to the main plot. Which this chapter seems to embody quite a bit.

I find myself, however, instead of growing intrigued, growing a little bit bored of it. I’m starting to wonder, just like Miss Marple, if there really is any mystery to be solving at all! Which, I’m not sure if that’s a good way for a mystery novel to begin. However, dear reader, I will slog on, in order to find out! Just for you!

Please, however, do me a favor! In the comments, give me an idea or two of what you think the mystery is going to be! Do you think it’s Mr. Rafiel’s deceased son? Do you think Mrs. Anderson perhaps murdered someone? Do you think something entirely different is going to happen? Let me know!

Breaking Down Nemesis: Part One

  • Posted on August 13, 2014 at 12:05 pm

Welcome to a new series of articles centered around breaking down, and understanding Nemesis, a Miss Marple Mystery, by Agatha Christie. If you’re curious, and wish to follow along, you can purchase the book here! (or make use of your public library, of course! <3) We’ll be breaking down several things, focusing on the Tension, the Characterization, and the Plot Threads, while searching out this mysterious Agatha Christie Code that I’ve heard so much about!

Nemesis is a story in the middle of the Miss Marple Mysteries, a series about an old woman, Miss Jane Marple, who happens to solve mysteries in between gardening, knitting, and enjoying her golden years. At twenty two chapters, we’re going to be breaking down each chapter and looking over it. At the end, I’ll give a final post about what I’ve learned from the intrepid Miss Agatha.

In the afternoons it was custom of Miss Jane Marple to unfold her second newspaper.

The cover for the copy I am reading. Clicking will take you to Miss Christie’s Wikipage.

This is the first line of the novel. Odd choice, honestly, but it works, because it shows off a certain oddness about Miss Marple in the first place. Then, odder still, Miss Marple goes off on a tangent about how often her paper is late because the boy delivering it is either late, or has handed off his route for a little while, or has been sacked.

Strangely enough, this drew me in immediately, if only because I really felt like I was listening to the mental ramblings of an old lady. But another part of it shows just how very AWARE Miss Marple is about EVERYTHING. She knows more than just ‘oh the paper’s late, I can’t read it with early morning tea.’ She knows WHY her paper is late, which is something few people even bother paying attention to.

The pacing so far is unbearably slow. I haven’t figured out anything other than what this old woman is doing with her afternoon. Which appears to be reading a newspaper she’s nicknamed “The Daily All-Sorts”. Then, we are treated to another rant, this time about being unable to find anything in the Times. This rant seems devoted to her lamenting how things have changed from when she was young.

A wonderful way to show us her age, and also an intriguingly clear indication that perhaps the so-called Agatha Christie Code is correct. She seems very intent on describing Miss Marple’s thought process in larger-than-life detail.  Here, we find out another odd detail about Miss Marple.

“It’s sad really, but nowadays one is only interested in the deaths!” – Miss Marple

Miss Marple discovers the Internet

She seems to be looking to see if anyone she knows has died, or perhaps given birth, or gotten married. An odd passtime, but when one has all the time on her hands that Miss Marple seems to, I can see why it would become interesting. Everything about Miss Marple at this point seems to be just this side of odd for an old woman. Miss Christie is leaving us hints as to just how odd Old Miss Marple is underneath. This is wonderful examples of characterization. But still, nothing has happened yet.

Finally, Miss Marple comes across a name that stirs some familiarity. Jason Rafiel, listed in the obituaries. She can’t seem to remember who it is, but she has no doubt it will come to her. In fact, we are treated to a long process of her figuring it out. She begins by looking out the window, lamenting that the doctors refuse to allow her to garden. Another hobby we find she enjoyed that now she is restricted. Poor Miss Marple, her old age is catching up to her. Turning away from the window, she picks up her knitting, which appears to be a pink jacket, just missing the sleeves.

Now pink wool, this triggers something of her memory. As we can see:

Pink wool. Now wait a minute, where did that fit in? Yes- yes- it fitted in with the name she’d just read in the paper. Pink wool. A blue sea. A Carribean sea. A sandy beach. Sunshine. Herself knitting and- why of course, Mr. Rafiel. That trip she had made to the caribbean. The Island of St. Honore. A treat from her nephew Raymond. And she remembered Joan, her niece-in-law, Raymond’s wife, saying: “Don’t get mixed up in any more murders, Aunt Jane. It isn’t good for you.”

Do you see what she did there? Miss Agatha Christie just took us through a perfect example of how the mind ACTUALLY works! After scent, touch is the closest sense to memory, followed by sight! Now, Miss Marple didn’t just remember this up, as if it were a scene, no, it’s broken down into actual recollections, actual thoughts. Instead of a flashback, we get a disjointed connection through various memories.

And like any of us, Miss Marple doesn’t just remember everything about that trip at once. No, she has to tease it together, starting with the names. She remembered the elderly Major, whose name continued escaping her. Then she remembers the kind of man Mr. Rafiel had been. Not perfectly, as some people are want to do. She remembers him being an obstinate man, as well as strong, as well as rich. Difficult, irritable and shockingly rude, she remembers. Clearly he made an impression on Miss Marple. And, not only has she remembered Mr. Rafiel, but others too.

Mrs. Walters, a widow and Mr. Rafiel’s secretary. Mr Rafiel’s Masseur-Attendant, Arthur Jackson, who she thought was a rather doubtful character. But instead of being sure of Jackson’s name, she continues to question it. This is a very organic process of tracking down what the thoughts and memories of this time were. And clearly she is remembering the people specifically, not the events. I assume this was Miss Christie’s way of not rehashing the entire events of the previous book, but instead teasing us along into remembering it as well.

Then comes Miss Knight, who was once Miss Marple’s own companion, a young woman she’s rather happy to get rid of. But for some reason, she keeps messing up her name, thinking of her as Miss Bishop. She even quips about it:

“Oh dear,” said Miss Marple again, “I always get all the names wrong. And of course, it was Miss Knight I was thinking of. Not Miss Bishop. Why do I think of her as Miss Bishop?” The answer came to her. Chess, of course. A Chess piece. A knight. A bishop.

I’ll admit, at this point, Miss Christie had me hooked as a writer, although perhaps not as a reader. Such an organic transition, and a clear definition of this character’s mind. Already I am aware that she notices things others don’t care about, and she puts together odd connections, forming them in her mind to remind herself of things. I haven’t even had to read the rest of the series, and I find myself feeling like Miss Marple is an old friend.

She gives us a rundown of how she and Mr. Rafiel had been partners, for a time, but she never gets around to explaining in what. This makes me want to track down the book previous and read it. Well played, Miss Christie. We find out that Miss Marple was quite excited about these events, and it makes us excited too. Already, we’ve found ourselves enthralled by the way Jane Marple sees the world.

Then, we get to meet Cherry, who is now Miss Marple’s Companion. It seems that Miss Marple uses Cherry as a bit of a sounding board. Also, the voices between Miss Marple and Cherry are quite different. I find myself seeing Cherry as perhaps african american, if only because of the vernacular she chooses.

“You did have it in for little Gary Hopkins I must say,” said Cherry. “When you caught him torturing his cat that day. Never knew you had it in you to go for anyone like that! Scared him stiff, you did. He’s never forgotten it.”

“I hope he hasn’t tortured anymore cats.”

“Well, he’s made sure you weren’t about if he did,” said Cherry. “In fact I’m not at all sure as there isn’t other boys as got scared. Seeing you with your wool and the pretty things you knits and all that- anyone would think you were gentle as a lamb. But there’s times I could say you’d behave like a lion if you was goaded into it.”

Also, a wonderful choice there, to show us Miss Marple’s sense of rough justice through the eyes of Cherry, her companion. At this point, I’m also hoping to see more of Cherry. Their interaction seems quite natural, that of a companion and someone of an age beyond adulthood.

Let’s pause for a moment and talk about the syntax of Miss Christie’s work. So far, I’m seeing quite a large number of ‘said’s, and very little added description. She was clearly a follower of the ‘no adjectives’ rule, as well as a detractor from the ‘said is dead’ forum of discussion. However, I don’t feel it takes away from her work. The dialogue itself is well written, as well as showing us little glimpses of what we need to know about Miss Marple. There isn’t a word wasted here. I can see why Agatha Christie is said to be the single best-selling author in the world.

There’s a small break away from the heavy thinking to have a conversation with Miss Bartlett, a companion-gardener to one Miss Hastings. Then, her mind turns back to Mr. Rafiel, and gives us a wonderful description of their relationship. Ships that pass in the night. After that, she resolves that she will probably never think of him again. She’d look out for an obituary, out of what seems an honor for his passing, but she isn’t very hopeful about it. As a final thought, she notes that he hadn’t been anyone of major importance in any industry.

He had just all his life made enormous amounts of money…

All the money. Obsene amounts of money.

What I wouldn’t give to make enormous amounts of money. But on another note, clearly, the foreshadowing here is pretty thick. On the second read through, I found things I hadn’t noticed, such as the Mrs. Hastings reference. Already we have so many characters to follow, and Miss Marple at the center of it all. Red herrings everywhere for a mystery that hasn’t even been introduced, and I’m excited about this book that literally NOTHING HAS HAPPENED IN. All Miss Marple has done is read her newspaper, think about old memories, and talk to two women for five minutes each!

Breaking it down, just a bit, we see already how Miss Christie built up the character for us, showing through thought and action just what sort of woman Miss Marple is. We know she has just a little lion inside her, and is the kind to beat a child senseless for torturing an innocent creature. We know that she has an impeccable memory for detail, although sometimes it takes her a minute and some odd associations to get there.

This entire first chapter was spent introducing the main character. But it wasn’t wasted at all. We weren’t bored to tears by a flashback of what happened in the Caribbean. We weren’t shown her beating the boy, we weren’t even shown her doing anything other than normal things. THIS is an introduction chapter. This is the type of first chapter that will get you published.

Here’s a challenge, then. Take the first chapter of your book, or first paragraph of your short story, or any beginning at all. And have the main character do nothing, but think. Explain who this character is, show it, by their thoughts and actions. Give us a snippet of your results in the comments! And don’t be afraid to tell me what you think about the article either!

Ascended Gods – A question of morals

  • Posted on July 26, 2014 at 12:05 am

Tonight I went to see a summer hit, Lucy. To summarize, it is a movie about a woman, who, through a bad drug-ring run-in, ends up able to open up her very brain, and strive past the normal ten percent that most humans can access it. The movie is entirely about her journey from ten to one hundred percent, and what happens at the end.

Lucy Trailer

Now this is not the first story of a human pushing past humanities limits. In fact, there was another such being in media, one Dr. Manhattan. Through a freak science incident, this particular case ended up becoming almost godlike, capable of manipulating not just matter, but time and space as well.

But both of these two have something in common.

Both lose touch with their humanity, over a period of time. At one point, Dr. Manhattan, instead of exercising his gifts to save a woman, ends up allowing her to be shot. Lucy, despite her gifts, and apparent omniscience at the end of the movie, chooses to give mankind knowledge, but no guidance. Both of them, in the end, ascend beyond humanity, and choose not to interfere any further.

Why is this? What is it about these ascended gods that marks them as amoral, beyond the human concept, beyond understanding humanity, despite knowing, and having control over just about everything? Why do these so called gods choose instead to give humanity knowledge, and no true guidance? What is it about this ascension that takes them beyond any and all morals or codes that they held during humanity?

I beleive these characters are designed this way to invoke exactly that. A Godhood, an ascension. The belief that all humankind’s worries and needs are inconsequential in the larger run of things. However, I ask you, why would the belief, the realization of this, make these beings choose instead to fuck off into the deep blue mysterious beyond?

Why instead, do they not choose to stay? To attempt to guide humanity towards some kind of peace? If they have an absolute understanding of everything trivial and horrid that humanity has done, and how to correct it… Why don’t they? Are we to believe that once someone has ascended beyond all the worry, all the strife, all the day-to-day rat-races, that they would just… forget or ignore or lose interest in all of those they once cared about?

Dr. Manhattan’s transformation was quite well done, over a period of many, many years, and to be honest, I understand why he began to lose touch. He became entrenched instead on all of the mysteries the world had now unlocked for him. As he said, “I am tired of this world, these people. I am tired of being caught in the tangle of their lives.”

I’m curious, dear readers, has there ever been a case of one of these ascended gods choosing instead, to guide humanity? Successfully? Please tell me in the comments about it, about what you think would happen, and about what you think humanity’s response would be.

CampNaNoWriMo July ’14

  • Posted on June 30, 2014 at 11:16 pm

And so it begins. My next journey into Nanowrimo, that is National Novel Writing Month is tied inexorably to Camp Nanowrimo, where writers get together for non-strenuous, less-extensive versions of the November rush that is the Nanowrimo phenomena. Camp is to the full thing what a retreat is to a vacation.

Basically, this month, we practice things we don’t normally do, or take it easy, while still reveling in the closeness and comfort of the writing community. Which is always lovely, because there’s nothing better when I get stuck than to talk it out with someone who knows what it’s like to be stuck.

This Camp, I’m aiming for 50,000 words, one third what I managed last November for my novel The Sorcerer and the Swordsman. This time, I’m attempting to write a Mystery novel, in the genre of Urban Fantasy.  I am trying my hand at writing the blue and orange morality of the Fae Folk, while also tying in a human protagonist who has to track down a missing child. Kaimi, my protagonist, is a twenty something college student, of Hawaiian descent, who happens to be Aromantic and a sugar-baby. So, this is going to be a blast.

I failed last Camp session, so I’m a bit nervous about this session. What if life gets in the way again, and I lose all will to write entirely? It has happened before. I’m trying to remember my patience, and remember to treat myself with respect, and that’s helping a bit. Reading about my new genre is also helping quite a bit too.

I found some very interesting articles about Mystery Writing that I find rather intriguing. But all of them are geared towards more deadly mysteries than mine. Most of them seem of the opinion that I would be better off killing the little girl in my novel, rather than having her be missing. Which… If you think about it, is kind of morbid. Not to give spoilers or anything, but I don’t want to kill children.

I think my next step will be researching Urban Fantasy, and see if there’s anything I can include that will make the book even better. My aim for this one is the type of popularity and enjoyment people get from the Anita Blake Series, or any of Neil Gaiman’s works. One day, people will read Seeker Born and fall in love with Kaimi Rowe.

Queens: Are They So Evil?

  • Posted on April 20, 2014 at 12:50 pm

Enjoy my minor attempts at Poetry. Keep in mind, I haven’t written anything poetic since highschool. You’ll quickly see why.

A precarious thing, a Queen becomes;

She’s known for beauty, for faith, for something

and that thing is what makes her so hated.

Too beautiful. Too faithful. Too loving.

Her downfall, that Queen, is that she cares.

She cares about her husband, perhaps,

or her people.

or herself, just a little too much.

And that leaves her lost, and alone, afraid and scared.

She isn’t prepared.

Sold to another kingdom for her ransom,

She marries, and she is not his favorite. He barely loves her.

She does everything she can.

Or he loves her, but he loves his old wife more.

Poor Queen, lost.

She takes up magic, takes up the old ways of lying and beauty and power.

She takes up new ways of passion and heart and anger.

The Evil Queen they call her.

Is she truly evil?

For wanting nothing more than stability, and hope?

Is she evil?

Or is she hurt? Lonely?

No one cares to ask, as they stab the sword into her dragon breast,

or throw her dashed down on rocks.

She is dead, poor Queen.

Poor evil Queen. She is dead.

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