Thoughts on House of Many Ways

Here I am again with another Diana Wynne Jones book.

This audiobook was much shorter than Castles in the Air. I also fell into the story much faster, probably because I knew it was another book where Howl would make an appearance. And he does come in much sooner. If you know Howl, you spot him right away. Yes, I laughed. I may have even clapped my hands in joy too. Absolutely delightful is the only way I can think to phrase his appearance. Anyone walking on the track with me at the moment probably thought I had gone a little mental. *grin* Howl has that affect on people.

I adored the main character in this story. I also started to get the feeling the Diana was just starting to really sink into this world. I enjoyed the surprises and how she unfolded the story.

It makes me sad that there won’t be any more Howl books (Diana passed away from cancer in 2011). At least I still have many books in the Chrestomanci series to captivate my attention now.

Jenny Sterlin did a fantastic job of narrating this one. So much so that I decided to go back and get Howl’s Moving Castle in audio even though I already own the book.

If you are interested in getting all three books to read on Kindle, I noticed that Amazon has them in a bundle for $19.99

Onto the next audiobook!

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Progress – March 2019

At first, it was a relief not to do the weekly progress blogs. I could put the words to my story instead. I was kind of glad that I had released myself from that self-imposed obligation.

Then, over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been missing them. Not doing them weekly, but the chat I had here. It was a time when I could talk to myself about what had gone on — granted, a very public chat, like talking to yourself while walking down the street. *grin*

I decided I would like to resume it, but on a monthly schedule. I hope you will like that too.

March has been busy. I’ve spent a lot of time at work, more than normal, which has taken me from my business. I can’t wait to get back to my usual routine there too. The weather has been good on a few weekends, so I’ve gotten some yard work done. Feels weird to be getting to it before May. Right now, I’m sitting outside in the sunlight with my dogs. It’s good as long as someone doesn’t come along walking their dog. Merlin doesn’t handle people or dogs (or anything not part of “the pack” very well). I’ve also been doing some work with vibration toned music in order to increase my energy (because I found that sunlight wasn’t doing enough as it usually does to brighten my spirits). I will say that I’m very glad I decided to give it a try. Normally I’d be all like, “Yes, everything is energy and vibration is nothing but a waveform energy. I don’t think different frequencies is going to help at all.” Let me just say that it does. I am feeling much better, much more relaxed and vibrant. I’ve also gotten back to meditation. All while getting words done.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been spending very much time with audio. I’m lucky if I get 10-15 minutes a day in, but I’ll take the baby steps.

I also haven’t gotten any painting or drawing done lately. Not for lack of trying here. I am back to arguing with myself about it. Long story short, I’d be better off if I’d just admit to myself that I don’t feel like drawing or painting at the moment and go and edit a story. Instead, I just waste time. Not minutes either. Like hours! It’s very frustrating. And I know the way out of it is action. Which only makes me angry at myself because I know just what needs to be done and I’m not doing any of it, or getting anything accomplished. The achiever in me hates that!

I need to take a moment and plan out my business for the next quarter, but that hasn’t happened yet. I’m wondering if I should go monthly with my planning as well. I haven’t made a decision about that yet either. This is one thing I know I need to do with thoughtfulness, not from the low-energy state where I’ve been. It’s best for me to wait for now.

Let’s look at the numbers, shall we?

Daily word goal reached for 233 days! Weekly word goal reached for 36 weeks.

Writing for the month of March: 24,635 words

Writing year to date total: 73,375 words

Drawing/painting for March: a few sketches – nothing to write home about.

Audio: About 8 and 1/2 hours recording and editing audio. I have lots of chapters started on editing, but I keep discovering lines that haven’t been recorded. Haven’t had time to get in the booth and get the missing lines recorded. Soon!

Thoughts on Castle in the Air

I’m a Diana Wynne Jones fan. Pure and simple.

When I was looking for a new book to listen to, I decided that I wanted another DWJ book. I had once heard that Castle in the Air was a sequel to Howl’s Moving Castle. On this particular day though, I couldn’t find any confirmation that it was. I decided to take the chance on the book because… well, Diana Wynne Jones. Need I say more?

And I started listening.

First, I imagine the narrator, Jenny Sterlin, as an older English woman. I enjoyed hearing her do mock Middle Eastern accents (like I could do any better!). Really, it made me laugh with enjoyment.

Now, there are some things I didn’t like about the narration, mostly the fact that the breaks in the tracks didn’t follow with the chapters. It sounded like it was the entire read from a day, but I also realize that it might have come from a recording originally meant for CD, so I give it.

About halfway through, I was getting a little tired of everything always going wrong for the main character. It seems like hardly anything goes right. I was beginning to wonder if this would be the first DWJ book that I didn’t like. Inconceivable! I certainly didn’t want to not like it. But, I also knew that sometimes Diana can take awhile to get things to come together, like Enchanted Glass or The Lives of Christopher Chant. So I waited, wondering how the heck she was going to have enough material for the hours that I had left.

I was certain that this was not related to Howl’s Moving Castle at all.

I finally took to analyzing why this book felt so long. I was no longer listening and enjoying (not that I wasn’t, but I was trying to figure out why this wasn’t rolling along as I wished). This was, after all, Diana Wynne Jones.

Then it happened.

I was listening along and a character names Sophie mentioned Howl’s name. I nearly dropped my phone. This was Howl’s Sophie! All of a sudden, the story looked bright, shiny, and new. I was so excited. Howl!

The pieces of the story suddenly started falling into place. The only thing that I missed was Calcifer. Dang little fire demon!

I really enjoyed how it all came together, as always. I don’t know why I ever lacked the faith with her story. DWJ is an amazing storyteller.

I do have to admit that when Jenny Sterlin got to doing Calcifer’s voice, I thought, “I want Billy Crystal.” My whining aside, she did an excellent job with Howl’s voice. I really want to get the audio for Howl’s Moving Castle just to listen to Jenny’s performance. I want to hear her take on the tale.

Now I’ve moved onto House of Many Ways, which is much easier to see is a continuation of the Howl series. Then I want to go back to the Chrestomanci series. Oh, so many DWJ books I still have to discover. I can’t wait for the adventures.

Happy reading!

Progress – February 18, 2019

Let me here a big “Woo-hoo!”

WOO-HOO!

Oh, yeah! That’s what I’m talking about. *grin*

I know, you want to know why you have to give a big congratulatory whoop. Here it is: I finished my read-though edits of Tangled Magic last week and got it to my reader. She, in turn, sent me back my story Alexander’s Den. Now I just have to edit up those corrections.

Books I ordered to restock my supply for Wizarding Dayz come in. I’ll be heading to Sandy, Utah, for that later this week. I hope the weather is good for driving there and back, as well as for my son who is coming home from Pocatello to help me with the show.

I finished the 18″x24″ painting I’ve been working on the last couple of weeks. I hope to have more on that later in the week — planning on doing the progression painting photos on the blog. We’ll see if I get there or if I’m too busy getting ready for the show.

Also spent some time in my booth getting audio recorded since I won’t be doing any for a couple of weeks.

Here are the numbers for this week:

Fiction words written last week:  4,206 words.

Blogs/Newsletter articles/non-fiction written:  1,228 words.

Daily word goal reached for 191 days! Weekly word goal reached for 30 weeks.

Writing month to date total:  14,938 words

Writing year to date total: 40,102 words

Drawing/painting last week: As I said above, I finished my 18″x24″ acrylic landscape painting. I posted a photo of it online and it seems like people are enjoying it.

Audio: I spent 2 hours editing and recording audio. It was very slow because as I was merging in the dialogue for a chapter, I kept discovering missing lines. I tried to go onto another chapter, but I wasn’t ready for that any other chapter later on down the line either. So, I had to wait until I could find time to get back to it. But now I should be good again, so I can get back to work on that. It did give me some time to, oh, sleep and work on the edits for Tangled Magic. I think that’s the reason I got through the edits. I guess that’s one of the good things about doing multiple things.




Progress – January 28, 2019

There are some weeks when I am just tired. Last week was one of them.

In trying to reboot my painting, I have several decisions to make. That lead me, of course, to research to find tools that will help me and that, obviously, leads me to testing several different tools to see which one(s) I like.

What frustrates me is that I had a tool I liked. It had years of data in it. I did want to clean it up some, maybe divide the database. But because of changes in technology, the program doesn’t work quite right any more. The company that developed it still has a website that for the last two years has asked for patience while they update their systems — they want to move to a cloud platform. However, I’m not sure they are serious about that any longer. I have exported the artwork data from the program, but it’s not easy to import without a lot of cleanup, mapping fields, and making it fit a new program.

With that experience, I don’t want to start something else that could potentially disappear or become obsolete. Which makes me think about paper files — good until a fire, or flood, etc.

So, it makes me leery to pull the trigger on anything. I don’t want something I will just end up rebuilding in seven to ten years. I realize that technology changes and that we have to have forward movement, but it seems like everything always needs constant updating and when a business no longer wishes to continue, they just close up. No one wants to build for a legacy, only for the current moment (and dollar, though I’ve read that the average lifespan of a solid business is about 30 years). It makes me tired.

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Progress – January 14, 2019

I’ve still been working on the story about Martias and Steigan heading to the Palin Wars which I referenced last Wednesday. I’m trying to slant it so that a reader could pick it up at any point in the story, even before reading Quest for the Three Books, without much in the way of spoilers. So far, so good.

It is a little strange because while I have known Martias’ motivations for quite some time, I hadn’t every really thought about where his head would be at when he and Steigan ran away to the Palin Mountains. We’ve “chatted” about how he felt when he first arrived at the Temple, and even how he felt when he was nominated for the position of Holy Sapere, but I hadn’t really needed to know how he felt along the way on that path. So, this provides me with interesting insights into his character.

I also love his view of Steigan. I’m so use to being in Steigan’s head, where he is always so noble and upstanding. Let’s face it, even when he had no memories, I knew who he was because I knew how he’d act on instinct alone. Admittedly, that might be why I’m having issues working on book 5 (The Missing Thread) because Steigan’s headspace is so messed up that he doesn’t know who he is anymore. That, and the fact that I have no idea about Keteria waking up. I know when I write the correct scene, I’ll know it. It just hasn’t happened yet. Anyway, that aside, it’s fun to see what Martias thinks about and what he withholds. Steigan is cut and dry. He speaks his mind. Marias, he refrains. Again, that’s not something new with Martias — I’ve known he doesn’t always tell Steigan everything, but I see how he is event the trickster character in his own mind. It’s fun.

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