Book Review – Under the Dome by Stephen King

. . How I can finish this book, Under the Dome (1074 pages), before I can finish The Stand (1141 pages), when I started the Stand one year ago, and Under the Dome three weeks ago is beyond me, but it’s true. Under the Dome reads like a season of 24. The book opens with a series of tragedies that initially befall the residents of the small Maine town of Chester’s Mill, and lopes along, downing one domino of tragedy after the other, until… Whammo! What happens? Well, you’ll have to read the book for that. King populates this novel with many characters. So many, in fact, as a budding writer, I find it intimidating. I think the more I study writing, the more intimidated I get when I look at the minefield of cliche I must traverse in order to get to the inside of ONE character, much less twenty of them. King may not flush all the cliche from his population, but does he have to? In a town like Chester’s Mill? It’s believable that people would live by them. I wasn’t distracted by Big Jim’s H3, nor by Barbie’s military kick-ass a la Reese from the Terminator. The characters are fun. They fit the bill. They are reachable and understandable to everyone, and no one has to tread through a mound of rich metaphor to get the point. Sometimes that’s just what I need to read, and I am so happy King is there to provide. The Plot involves a fun thought experiment. (I personally LOVE thought experiments like this) What would happen if … a large indestructible dome suddenly enclosed an entire town, completely separating it from the rest of the world in every way (except, for some odd reason, sound and radio-waves pass through it with no problem, and air and water can trickle...

Eavesdropping and BananaFish….

. J.D. Salinger, God rest his soul, wrote more than just the incredible coming to age novel, The Catcher in the Rye. He wrote many short stories, and many related to a central group of characters. I’m taking a UCLA Extension class called Putting Dialogue to Work. The first assignment requires that we read the Salinger story, “A Perfect Day for Bananafish.” Although the story is in the American Realism genre, I LOVED it. I think it is because my grandfather was a WWII veteran, and from him, I came closer to understanding what a veteran might feel while trying to reinstitute himself into society. Here was my assessment of the story: * Muriel comes across as shallow and indifferent. She hadn’t been able to get her call through for 2.5 hours, but when the phone finally rings, she doesn’t bother to rush for it. Her call seems habitual rather than motivated by any sort of conscious desire or need to communicate. She paints her nails while she talks. I inferred that she probably spent more attention on that than the actual conversation. She takes her rings off, probably including her wedding ring, to hang around the hotel room. Despite her mother’s concern, Muriel behaves like any teenage girl. I can envision her rolling her eyes to look at her brain as her mother voices her concerns. Muriel is so far removed from reality that she feel invincible. She has, “It can’t happen to me syndrome.” I was taken by the following dialogue between Muriel and her mother: “When I think of how you waited for that boy all through the war-I mean when you think of all those crazy little wives who–” “Mother,” said the girl, “we’d better hang up. Seymour may come in any minute.” The fact that Muriel cuts her mother off in mid thought here...

Using Tarot Cards for Writing Inspiration – A writing exercise that’s worth it!

Alright. Sure. Maybe it sounds strange… of course it does. But Tarot DOES have its uses outside of predicting the future and personal insight. If you find yourself stuck, with no inspiration, in the dreaded state of Writer’s Block, get yourself a tarot deck. Here’s the exercise: If you want, you can light some candles and dim the lights. (LOL) No really. You can. Then… Shuffle the deck. Pick a card. If you are a tarot expert already you can skip the next step. Read the tarot book or look up the meaning of the card on the internet. (You can find the meaning of the cards for free on many websites, but most decks come with explanations.) Apply the aspect of this card to any aspect of your writing you are having troubles with… Character… plot… story idea… you name it… This is rich. Let me illustrate the process with my own experience: I did this tonight (YES TONIGHT!). No candles, but the light was dim. I shuffled my perfectly ordered deck (which my friend Jennifer informed me was a no-no in regards to Tarot. I was embarrassed about it and blamed it on my German blood. No really. I ordered my cards because I was worried I was missing a few. And because I am a little obsessive compulsive, but I digress…) I pulled the Queen of Cups. It turns out that the Queen of Cups is a mother figure. A nurturer. A great wife, a great mother, someone in balance with feminine home structure…. it goes on, and gets deeper, but this is not a Tarot lesson. I sat back and thought about it. An idea formed. What if there was a mother who loved so much, and was so nurturing and full of love, that she smothered all those she cared for. I mean literally...

Online Writing Courses (that are worth it!)

Hey folks! I’m a home school teacher and after school tutor by profession… so good courses mean a lot to me. I’ve been scrounging around the internet for three years trying to find good online courses and forums. So far, I would say only two programs were worth it. Here’s my 2¢: UCLA Extension Writers’ Program There’s not enough good I can say about these courses. UCLA offers live courses on their campus that generally meet once a week. I’ve never been to one of these. But what I love most about UCLA is their extensive online catalog of courses. They cover all genres of writing, including TV and movie scripts. They have accomplished authors on their team of instructors. The online format consists of Blackboard, a user friendly course and bulletin board system. They also have a very friendly team of counselors that will promptly reply to any questions or concerns you may have. Trust me, I’ve emailed them… A LOT. They offer a Certificate Program in Writing, which I have signed up for, and have almost completed. It will help me in my application for a Masters degree in Fine Arts when I apply in 2011. Sign up early! Enrollment is limited to about 14 or 15 students. I will leave it up to you to check out the catalog for a list of courses they offer (not only in writing, BTW!). For now, I’ll give a little summary of the courses I’m currently taking and have taken in the past. Past Courses Creative Writing: Short Story (Online) (Fall 2007) This course can be taken for UCLA college credit (a nice plus!). This class introduced me to one of my favorite books on writing fiction: Janet Burroway’s Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft. Each week, we read a chapter of the book, a story that illustrated...

Blood Rain

Blood Rain – by Adam Wilby I hated the rain. I hadn’t always felt this way. I vividly remember the day that I did. It was August 23rd 2008 when everything changed. I looked into the face of the man I had just punched. Blood was dripping from his nose, for his own part he was staring with an expression of disbelief at the claret puddle in the palm of his hand. The people stood closest to us had fallen silent, out of the corner of my eye I could see most of them were biting their lips; the odd few of course were clearly amused at what they saw at some impromptu entertainment. “Do I look like some cheap tart to you?” I asked the man rhetorically. If I hadn’t been so angry I might have been incredulous that he appeared so surprised. I had been sat at a table near the bar with one eye on the door while I waited for Stella to arrive. That evening the two of us had planned to meet here for a couple of drinks before moving on to a nightclub just down the road. Consequently I had gone out that morning and bought myself the red dress I had seen earlier that week when using the shopping centre as a shortcut to work. He’d walked over and asked if I wanted to dance. If Stella hadn’t once again kept me waiting I would probably have declined his offer with a smile and the false promise to catch him later. As it was I had grown bored of sitting by myself. In any case I didn’t see the harm, as the pub was less than a mile from my flat, while I wasn’t exactly one of the regulars, I was confident that if anything untoward happened someone who knew me would...

Tell me what to read!

There are sooooo many wonderful books to read. In fact, I have at least fifty novels on my list of books to read. Not that I really need it, but PLEASE, tell me what more I should read. If you add a reason why I should read it, that’s a plus… 😉

The Punch and Judy Show

THE PUNCH AND JUDY SHOW – by Adam Wilby Judy heard the keys rattle in the lock as Punch let himself into the flat they had shared together for the past two and a half years. She had never liked the flat much, situated as it was directly above the record shop where Punch worked during the day, it was also located near the two main nightclubs in the town centre. Judy had lost count of the number of times she had been woken up during the night by people who apparently couldn’t handle their drink as they staggered, shouted and swore loudly on the way home. It was small wonder that when Judy climbed out of bed at eight every morning she had bags under her eyes from lack of sleep. Even so she was never so tired as not to know that Punch would return to the flat almost precisely at noon every day for his hour long lunch break, in keeping with their established routine Judy always made sure there was a salad on the dining table waiting for him. Punch had made his feelings clear on this as he took his diet and fitness very seriously, just one of the examples being the five mile run he took every day after work meant he didn’t have an inch of fat on him. This being, if Judy was to be honest with herself, one of the reasons why she had felt an attraction to him so soon after a mutual friend had introduced them. As the shop closed at 6pm it meant that Punch would, almost as regular as clockwork, return home perhaps an hour afterward. While he was out Judy generally kept herself busy as there was usually something to occupy her attention. Indeed over the course of just over two years of living in...

The Stand

I am reading The Stand by Stephen King (Who, by the sheer number of his books I’ve read and enjoyed, I’ve decided is my favorite author). I started this novel in August of 2009. I hope to finish by August 2010. LOL. Well, the beginning rocked, but the exodus is trying for me. That’s when the momentum stopped. I would have been happy with just a horror novel about the superflu. Given that one piece of criticism, I’m still hanging in...

Italio Calvino

I am currently reading If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler by Italio Calvino. When I read the first pages, I didn’t like it. Then I read it again, altered my perspective a bit, and VOILA! It’s like what he was trying to do dawned on me. Anyone else have thoughts on...

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