Monday, May 6, 2013

Two Books I'm Reading and One Book I'm Writing (Or the Post Where I Talk About Williamsburg Before Even Getting to the Other Things That I'm Supposed to Be Writing About)

Writing and reading. Reading and writing. I bet you're thinking, "Is there anything else this girl does?"

Actually, I do do other things besides reading and writing . . . just maybe not as often. I get together with friends, I eat food, I go on field trips . . .

But how about rolling all of those things into one fantastical trip?!?!

Just yesterday, our family--as well as a few other families from our homeschool group--got back from a trip to Williamsburg, Virginia!!!! And, yes, our family ate quite a lot of food.

We're all about the food.

When we first got to Williamsburg, it was pretty late and we checked into our hotel . . . only to leave that same night and switch hotels.

Why? Well, I'm pretty sure my mom is going to do a post all about that, and I wouldn't want to give everything away. You're just going to have to wait. Don't worry. I won't torture you with hints about that disastrous night. (Hyperbole? Nope).

(Did I mention my brother and I were dripping wet when we left)?

We spent the first two days at Colonial Williamsburg. Some of my favorite things there were listening to Martha Washington talk about her life (and hearing my mom talk about her afterwards and accidentally calling her "Martha Stewart"), seeing everyone in character, and seeing a jail and hearing about all sorts of means of torture they used that gave me some ideas for my books. Yes, we were pretty gruesome back then. Some torture methods I heard about:

1. Cutting off feet or toes
2. Branding their hands (though they used this to let people know that they were criminals)
3. My personal favorite: Sticking a nail in their ear, leaving it there for four hours, then cutting their ear off

No joke.

The third day, we went to Yorktown Battlefield where we could drive around and look at the different places where the Revolutionary War was fought. This was really nice, because it was freezing cold that day and we could look out the windows of our heated car while a warm puppy sat on my blanketed lap. After Yorktown Battlefield, we went to Jamestown Settlement. This was one of my absolute favorites because we got to learn about the different people living there. I especially loved the Native American part of it, because I took a lot of the skills they used and fit it into a book I'm writing (more about that later). An interesting fact about the English that settled there: when the English were starving and couldn't leave because of the Native Americans surrounding them, they ate all sorts of things, including:

1. Dogs
2. Chickens
3. Horses
4. Their leather shoes
5. Dead bodies

Yes, there was cannibalism in Jamestown. After someone died, the others would eat their body for the protein. Well, not the ones who dug their own grave and let themselves starve to death in it. They weren't as desperate.

The fourth (and final) day, we started driving home, but stopped at Monticello (the cello part is pronounced like the musical instrument) to visit Thomas Jefferson's house. Our tour guide was excellent and told all sorts of interesting stories about the rooms we were in. Did you know that back then everyone made appointments on the hour rather than, say, two thirty or three forty-five? No one kept track of the minutes (except for Jefferson, apparently), so if you made an appointment for one o'clock and you got there at one thirty, you weren't late! You were still on time! That sounds like a much better system than what we're doing right now.

So now that I've rambled on about our trip, let me talk to you about the books I'm reading.

Unless you follow "Adventures In YA and Children's Publishing," you wouldn't know that I won a book giveaway! Two, actually. The second one I won is called Quintana of Charyn, but the one that I'm reading now is the first book in the Darkness Rising trilogy by Kelley Armstrong. It's called The Gathering.

A blurry and poorly taken picture that I was forced to take with my iPod rather than my camera due to lack of battery.

Admittedly, I didn't think I'd like this series very much. When I entered the giveaway, I was hoping to win one of the other bundles. This series sounded very much like one of those paranormal YA romance books that has crappy writing but everyone loves because two characters kiss and there's this love triangle that really doesn't even exist.

But the author surprised me. The writing is actually pretty decent compared to some other stuff I've read recently, the characters are likeable, the romance is minimal and hardly even matters in the story, there's no love triangle, and I read two thirds of the book on the way back from Williamsburg because I couldn't put it down! It's not post-apocalyptic, though the author could have made it that way if she wanted to, and it's a nice break from the post-apocalyptic books I've been reading. Books of that genre are all pretty predictable at this point, and I'm enjoying having no idea where this book is going.

Oh, and it's set in Canada! That's also a nice change of scenery, considering most of the books I've been reading are set in America.

Here's the book description:

Maya lives in a small medical-research town on Vancouver Island. How small? You can’t find it on the map. It has less than two-hundred people, and her school has only sixty-eight students–for every grade from kindergarten to twelve.
Now, strange things are happening in this claustrophobic town, and Maya’s determined to get to the bottom of them. First, the captain of the swim team drowns mysteriously in the middle of a calm lake. A year later, mountain lions start appearing around Maya’s home, and they won’t go away. Her best friend, Daniel, starts experiencing “bad vibes” about certain people and things. It does’t help that the new bad boy in town, Rafe, has a dangerous secret…and he’s interested in one special part of Maya’s anatomy: Her paw-print birthmark.

Another book I'm reading is called Wonder by R. J. Palacio. I'm reading this with my whole family, and we all love it. It's very easy to get into, it's funny, it's sad, and there are very few characters I don't like. We've laughed and cried too many times to count. Wonder is simple, but extremely enjoyable. The author makes the characters so alive, you're surprised to find out that they're fictional.

Here's the book description:

I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.
August Pullman was born with a facial deformity that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. WONDER, now a #1 New York Times bestseller and included on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.

Now for the book I'm writing.

I wasn't planning to start another book . . . not yet, anyway. But after completing a writing prompt to create a new character, the character sort of . . . took over. She forced me to open a new document and start writing a new book that--for now--is titled Perfect. I only have 3,400 words typed up, so I'm no where near finished with it. I do, however, have a book description:

Raven doesn't have a last name. Why? Because she has no idea who her parents are. Her father is most certainly dead, The Survivors informed her of that, but her mother is no where to be found. Raven doesn't know if she is alive or dead.

The Survivors are a group of homeless people driven out into the Wilderness. They aren't allowed a home because they are imperfect. The president is striving for perfection, and if you are imperfect you must be executed. The few that managed to escape formed The Survivors. The president and his Patrollers--or policemen--are hunting them down. Between trying to survive and keeping everyone else alive, Raven is trying to figure out her past.

Stay strong, stick together, and survive. The three S's of The Survivors and the rules Raven must follow. It's harder than it looks.

Questions? Suggestions? Comments? Concerns? Leave a comment! :D


Boquinha said...

Holy moly, that's quite a post! I love hearing about things we've done together - it's fun to hear your perspective and take on things. It was such a good trip - especially fun as a group! I love that you got story ideas, too. Awesome.

Thanks for sharing this. I guess I better get cracking on that hotel story (though I have a couple of letters to write to hotel chains first . . . )! I love you!

Anonymous said...

So that's why you were gone - sounds like fun! :D

Emily Foley said...

I loved Colonial Williamsburg. I went for the first time when I was nine and when my family moved to Maryland when I was 10 we went like 6 times in the next two years with various visitors. It's one of my favorite places.

And also, TELL ME THE HOTEL STORY! You know your mom will take forever! :P

Bethy said...

Wow! I have always wanted to visit those places!!

Those tortures sound horrible...especially the ear one! Ew ew ew.

Oh I love native american history! It's so interesting to learn about! :)

You should tell the hotel story here!! I would love to hear your side of the story! :) I bet it's at least a little bit different than your mom's version!

Zelia said...

I loved Willamsburg and Monticello. I am glad that you enoyed too. Its a nice way of learning history.

Hamlette said...

I LOVE Colonial Williamsburg! My family's favorite place to eat is Shield's Tavern, and the King's Arms is good too. Chowning's is okay, but we don't like it as well. Where did you eat??? Did you get anything that was especially tasty?

The Magic Violinist said...

Thanks, Mommy! :D Angry letters . . .? ;)

Ha ha, yeah I have a lot of catching up to do where your blog is concerned, nevillegirl! XD ;P

Wow! That's a lot of visits! You could probably become a tour guide there. ;)

Yeah, I was pretty grossed out, too. ;P

LOL, I might just write the hotel story on here because I've gotten so many requests for it. XD

Monticello was especially awesome! :D

We got a lot of food on our trip, but one of my favorite places that we went to was the King's Arms. We spoke with a lady in character and ate food from that time period, like some sort of creamy, chicken pie. We wanted to try something called Spoonbread that is some sort of Virginia specialty, but we couldn't find any anywhere. ;P

Boquinha said...

I loved what Daddy got there - it was a delicious beef/mushroom-based broth over noodles with meat and mushrooms and a dollop of sour cream, making it some kind of old fashioned stroganoff-type meal. Delicious!

The Magic Violinist said...

Ooh, yeah, Daddy's was awesome! :D