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Friday, August 1, 2008

Friday Random

Random Chaos of the Week: The hot water heater broke! And it's school registration time. And it's tax free weekend at all the local stores.... And (surprise!) nothing is in stock. I love back to school week.

Random Personality Test of the Week: What's in your work area?
-> Look around the room by your computer? What does it say about you? Since my move I've set up my own study. I have pictures of books, seashores, flowers, a woman standing on a cliff, and a white rose on black. I have an overstuffed bookshelf, a table full of sewing stuff, and my favorite quote on the wall. I think the only thing you can tell from looking at my study is that I like bright colors and books. Actually, there is no where in the room that you can look and not see a book of some kind.... so I suppose you can tell I'm not very tidy either :o)

Random Food I Forgot To Mention Last Week: Fried pickles. Yeah... that's the face I made too. I tried them: hot, salty, pickle-y. Doused in ranch dressing so they taste like ranch dressing they aren't hideous. But I can live without them.

Random Bug of the Week: The large wolf spider that attacked DH when he walked in late from work one night. The wolf spider is slightly larger than my fist and lives on our front porch. His roommate is a tree frog that lives next to the door and jumps when you open it. I keep waiting to be woken by the sound of a cat burglars girly squeals....

Random Progress of the Week: I'm up to editing chapter 14 on DoJ. Chapter 13 was the chapter that Would Not End. Everytime I thought I'd wrapped it up I realized I needed to go back and add details. Just shot me now!

Random Blogs of the Week: I added several new sci-fi blogs to my reading list, Five Scribes, Karen Duvall, Six LDs Writers and a Frog, and I could have sworn there was another one.... Joan's blog.... but I can't seem to find my link on my side bar. Hmmm. I guess we know what I'm doing this evening: blog hunting!

Random Relatives: Did not arrive at random. They will arrive in August, at random.

Random Anti-cliche of the Week: I've seen several blogs discussing cliches. Everyone is very firm on what they don't want to see anymore (I'll give youa hint: vampires). And I agree, I can live without most cliches. But what I haven't seen is a solid discussion on what needs to be added (other than zombie pigeons). What I would like to see is fewer single heroes and more married family type heroes. Try to name one hero/heroine with a spouse that doesn't die quickly or that they don't meet in the course of the series..... it's hard. Okay, now try to name a book about a happily married couple and their children that is not some form of self-help book or Little House on the Praire. Up the ante, make it so the parents are the focus and the children are not magical/geniues/mysteriously ill and are well-rounded characters on top of that.

It's tough, isn't it?

The average fiction book does not detail the life of a normal person. what books show us are beginnings, catalysts, times of upheaval and change. That upheaval and change is the plot- the thing keeping the book going between step one and step last. Because 9 out of 10 authors are romantics at heart the easiest addition to political tension is a romance. So you start the MC off young and single and you evolve them into this loving and perfect person.... and the series ends.

Sometimes authors try to be clever and they start with a cynical and bitter person. Divorcees, single parents, and private eyes are the classic characters for the cynical MC. But it's really just a ploy to show you the bitter heart finding love and saving the day from _______________ fill in whatever disaster you care to name.

Even I do this. I fully admit that the MC in Demand of Justice is a young, single male without children or significant other. And, yes, eventually in the series he will meet a girl.

But I'm up for a challenge.

Last year I decided there were not enough kids in adult literature. Not real children. Prodigies like Ender Wiggens, yes. Harry Potter, yes. The whole Wrinkle in Time gang and the children from Narnia.... but none of them were normal, flawd, tantrum-throwing, diaper-wearing toddlers. My NaNo novel last year was about a single mom with seven children none of them who were geniuses or Chosen One's. I delighted in torturing my MC. Her kids threw up, stripped off their diapers, knocked over things, said mean things, fought, cried, threw food, and made her laugh.

Now I'm trying to develop a plot outline for a fantasy where a family unit with young children manages to stay together, fight the bad guys, rescue the people in trouble, and save the day. Science fiction was a little too easy to work that plot into (grab space ship and leave!) so I'm looking for a survivalist fantasy. Possibly with warring nations and dragons. And I think I'm going to make one of the characters a necromancer... one of the good guys... with a taboo on raising dead humans.... and then I'm going to cry a lot and kill a child because, for me, that would be incredibly difficult. As a necromancer you know you *could* bring the baby back to life but that doesn't mean you *should*.

This could go very baddly, of course. The trick will be to balance all the characters, give them all strengths and weaknesses, make sure they stay balanced and it isn't a single-hero-dragging-token-family-along book. There are a lot of interpersonal dynamics at play when you combine family and social groups, especially if you avoid sterotypes.

But- it will make a fun challenge for NaNo in November.

Meanwhile, let me know if you can think of a book where that's been done already. I always need new books to read!

So.........what's your random?


  1. I'll try to remember if I've read anything with the strong family unit. I actually have a plot for one to write, though it's going to be a long while until I get to it:

    A family that separately has no power, but together can travel to another world. The daughter is kidnapped, and the son becomes very sick. If he dies while they are in the other world, there will be no return.

    Still in the idea stages. In short, I agree that we need more fantasy with healthy family units. :-)

  2. Hooray! Let me know how it goes. I'm all in favor of books that break the standard cliches of uncaring parents and broken homes.

  3. Random bird of the week -- a water bird that greets me every day when I take my walk in the park. It's like a small sandpiper, but the pond it hangs out in is fresh water so I'm not sure. Anyway, she used to give me a hard time when I walked by, peeping at me and dive bombing me when I got too close to what I guess is her nest. She's grown used to me now and leaves me alone. I feel ignored.

    Random dental experience of the week -- The bitch cut my lip! I had my teeth cleaned yesterday and the hygienist cut my lip with her polishing contraption. It was like a belt sander in my mouth. Pissed me off. I didn't even get a discount on my $160 cleaning.

    The only family unit stories in novel form I can think of is The Swiss Family Robinson. If you go back and look at some of the old tv shows, you'll find quite a few. Lost in Space is one. How about that animated movie that was out recently? I never saw it but I think it was called The Incredibles. Right?

    Great idea, though. Speculative fiction tends to lean mostly toward the dark because I think that's what many SF readers expect. I'd enjoy reading a family-oriented SF story.

  4. Poor Karen! I'd had a fabulous dental hygentist before we moved. I actually looked forward to seeing her because she had the best stories.

    Thank you for reminding me of the Swiss Family Robinson and Lost in Space. I'd forgotten about those two. :o) I still think schlepping kids along on an adventure ups the ante. You have to worry about more than just yourself like so many heroes do. And with a spouse you have to balance the family dynamic with being the one saving the day.

  5. Hee, Meet the Robinsons was FUN :)

    Can't wait for November, now - not only because uni will be OVER, but because I will get to read yet another fun, shiny Nano from you :o)

    Oh yeah, and write one of my own... :S

    Totally agree about the family thing. Am now re-examining all my plots to see if such a thing will fit %-) :)

    Thanks, as always, for making me think ;)