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!

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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 – February 11, 2019

I’ve been binge watching Stargate Universe, again. It’s strange. I’ve even had a few people point it out to me; I write fantasy fiction, but I love watching sci-fi. I wonder why that is.

Usually I watch television while I’m doing something else. Like right now I’ve got Stargate Universe on and I’m working on this blog post. However, I’ve had large chunks of time this last week when I realized that I was watching the show and not doing anything else. Then I panic and have to get words done. The only way that happens is by me turning on Pandora and listening to music.

But I needed some time to veg out. It gave me some creative space.

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Progress – February 4, 2019

It was suggested to me last week that one of the reasons I might have been feeling so tired was because of the weather. I forget how cloudy days have such an effect. I made it a point to let more sunlight into my office and that certainly did help. I also reminded myself that I had to take better care of myself — I’d let that slip and I’m sure it also took it’s toll. As a result, I got a lot done even with my day job taking up extra time as it always does at the end of January.

So as soon as I started to get my energy back up, I got to work on the cover for Cirvel’s story, which I think will begin to run next week on my blog. It’s still in draft form, but I’ll have a cover reveal later this week. I also realized that I never finalized the cover for Walk the Path, the second part of Rivic’s story. So, I have that to be working on. Maybe getting it done will help invigorate me to get the edits done for Tangled Magic and Walk the Path. I’m about three quarters of the way through Tangled Magic, but I have found a big section that needs some help. Basically, I have Rivic leaving Cirvel’s chambers and having a fight with Nyree, chapter break, then Rivic is returning to Cirvel’s chambers. In rearranging scenes, I ended up butting these two up against each other. Something has to be fixed. I’m not sure what I want to do, if I just want to have a short transition or if I want to fill the space with another scene. The latter feels as if that’s the best option, but I worry about being able to balance the books. Yep, I’m glad that I’m writing them together.

I also had an experience were I looked out a window and saw something red hanging from a tree branch. It was merely a speck that I could barely see, but I wondered what it was. It was one of those moments when I felt a character invading. She told me it was a ribbon and now that it was red, she knew that her beloved was dead. Within 900 words, I suspected that I was writing the story about how the Plenelians came to hate magic. I’ve always wondered why. It’s been a question I’ve been pondering for nearly 30 years. Yes, a story I wrote that long ago featured the Plenelians, but I didn’t realize it at the time — it actually came in splitting the first draft of Rivic’s story (back when I’d been writing it for Nanowrimo) that I realized my character was a Plenelian. Yeah, if you’re confused, try being in my head for a while. *grin*

That story had now created over 3,000 words this week. Write it down while it flows.

I returned to work some on Elliot’s story when Cirvel’s slowed down. Since those two tie together, I have a feeling I’ve got to get them to work in conjunction. I found a huge hole in Elliot’s story — there’s a plot element from a long time ago when Elliot’s story was originally a romance (remember that time from 30 years ago I’d mentioned earlier — yeah, same dumb portion of my life, back when I believed in romance). Anyway, that aspect of the setting has got to go. I tried to keep it, but I find it interfering with the story I’m trying to tell now. I had to go have a chat with Cirvel about what he was trying to accomplish. That interview is going slowly; the man can be stubborn when he wants. However, I think I have what I need to know, but there’s going to be some rewriting on Elliot’s story to clean out the junk. And you know, I’m rewriting this whole damn book all because there is one scene I want to preserve from the defunct romance. One scene. I have almost the whole manuscript sitting in a drawer. How easy would it be to pull it out and just retype and publish that? Very. But I can’t get behind that story. I didn’t realize then that it was part of Cirvel’s story. I don’t want to tell it as a romance any more. I changed Elliot’s character completely. They really are no longer the same story.

Don’t worry, the original version of Quest for the Three Books was a romance too. That turned out much better because I took the awful romance out of it.

Okay, there is a part of me that misses the romance, back in that time of my life where I could believe in it. Why? For the sake of not running this blog too long, I will tell you tomorrow. How does that sound?

Great! Onward then.

I finished the edits for the audio for Oxygen and I got the audiobook cover done for that. I still need to make a correction before I upload the audio, but it’s a simple correction. I just need a moment to do that and start the upload.

Meanwhile, I’m back to recording Manifest the Magic and I’m hopeful I can salvage the voices I have already done. I merged in voices on the first chapter and I like the way it sounds.

I also finished another space painting this week. I hope to have more on that later this week too.

Well, I guess that’s all for now. Let’s look at the numbers, shall we?

Fiction words written last week:  5,093 words.

Blogs/Newsletter articles/non-fiction written:  2,333 words.

Daily word goal reached for 177 days! Weekly word goal reached for 28 weeks.

Writing month to date total:  25,164 words for January , 3,851 for February so far.

Writing year to date total: 29,015 words

Drawing/painting last week: Finished a 9″x12″ painting that I want to incorporate into a larger painting. Also still working on that larger piece I started last week.

Audio: I spent 6 hours editing and recording audio.

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 21, 2019

Boy did I make my inner artist-child angry last week!

She got so mad at me that she hijacked the ship. Every time I went to get my words in, I felt her sticking her tongue out at me. I will share more about this later in the week. Trust me, my artist-child is such a brat!

I went over the weekend to Boise to watch the Dragon Ball: Broly movie. Certainly not as good as Spider Man: Into the Spider-verse, but it was fun to spend time with the boys. They also let me pop into Guitar Center so that I could play with some microphones. I found one I really liked. Now I can’t wait to get it hooked into my booth and get to working with it. I still have the second half of Oxygen to record before I do that though. I might keep my AKG mic and do character voices on it, but this new mic will be great for narration. I’m so excited.

It has taken me a week to get through the audio on the first part of Oxygen which I recorded last week, but I’ve been happy with the editing speed. It’s much more reasonable. The channel strip I added works well.

I’ve also been working on the edit for Tangled Magic. I haven’t gotten in time every morning, but since it’s a new habit, it’s taking time to get into place. As I had figured it would.

That’s really all I have for this week. Let’s look at the numbers.

Fiction words written last week:  2,914 words.

Blogs/Newsletter articles/non-fiction written:  2,533 words.

Daily word goal reached for 163 days! Weekly word goal reached for 26 weeks.

Writing month to date total:  16,020 words

Writing year to date total: 16,020 words

Drawing/painting last week: I only got in a little 5″x7″ painting. Better than nothing.

Audio: I spent 3 and a half hours editing audio.