Writing

New Year, New Plans

I did a lot of thinking during the last month of the year and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m writing this blog about the wrong subject.  Or, I should say, writing about the books I read isn’t enough.  While I am always reading something, what I read does not always inspire me to write a full-blown blog entry.  Therefore I’ve made too few entries this past year.  And my heart wasn’t always in those I did post.  So I feel that I either must end this blog altogether or expand the subject matter beyond my bookshelves.

Now, I have many, many interests but I am an expert at none.  My first instinct was to expand my entries to books and movies.  Then I thought I might add TV shows and music to the list of subjects about which I write.  But like with reading, I feel that one’s taste in movies, shows, and especially music is very personal.  And maybe it’s the trauma of middle school talking but I don’t trust that I won’t be judged harshly for my tastes.  Nothing personal, but the internet hasn’t shown itself to be the safest place to pour one’s heart out.

I’ve also considered posting snippets of my own fiction writing.  Again my trusts issues come into play.  Even though the writing is probably mostly crap, I can’t trust that my ideas won’t be stolen.  I have issues.  We all do.  I know that but I’m only now beginning to realize that these trust issues of mine are holding me back not only in my blog but with my fiction.  Maybe, instead of the usual resolution to get fit or be more responsible with money, my 2017 resolution should be to work on my trust issues.  And not just my trust of strangers on the internet but also I need to learn to trust myself.  This, I believe, would greatly benefit my writing as well as other areas of my life.  Which I don’t trust you enough to talk about.  Still, if I’ve actually posted this, it is a step in the right direction.  Right?

Now, before the trust exercises begin I must post my annual Year in Review of the books I read in 2016.  I went well over my goal of 30 books with 46 but that’s because I didn’t do very well at my other resolution to focus more on my fiction writing.  I could blame a particularly tough year but the truth is I’m just really good at believing my own excuses.  Neither did I succeed in completing Reading Challenge I attempted.

mmd-2016-reading-challenge1
2016 Reading Challenge from modernmrsdarcy.com

I thought it would be simple with only 12 books but I’m still working on the book that intimidates me – James Michener’s Alaska – and I never got around to the book I should’ve read in school or the one I’d previously abandoned.  That’s not surprising considering that I didn’t want to read them the first time around.  Here are the books I read to complete the other challenges:

A Book Published This Year:

(Goodreads.com giveaways were quite helpful in completing this one)

A Book You Can Finish in a Day:

(I should write an entry on what this local children’s author has meant to me)

A Book You’ve Been Meaning to Read:

A Book Recommended by your Local Librarian:

A Book Chosen for You by Your BFF:

A Book Published Before You Were Born:

A Book that Has Been Banned at Some Point: 

A Book You Own But Have Never Read:

(To be fair this category is true of most of the books I read.)

A Book You’ve Read at Least Once:

And now for my top read of the year:

I chose Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart.

kopp
Amy Stewart’s wonderful Kopp Sisters series is based on the experiences of real-life sisters Constance, Norma, and Fleurette Kopp in the 1910s.

I know I didn’t give it a full 5-star rating but it was just such a fun surprise and I think many people would enjoy the tale based on actual events.  Don’t believe me?  Go to the author’s page dedicated to these three brave women.  I think it just proves that librarians really do know the best books.  Plus there’s a fantastic sequel for when you finish long before you want it to end.

Characters

Fictional Friends (and Boyfriends)

What makes an unforgettable character?  A hero you want to root for?  A villain you love to hate?  If I knew those answers, I’d probably be a better writer than I am.  All I know is that there are some characters that have, for one reason or another, stayed with me since I met them.  Some are like friends I visit often for some comfort and a good laugh, some just seem like they’d be fun to hang out with, some become book boyfriendsJ, and some are so wonderfully bad that I love to hate them.  Now that I’ve added Soulless’s Alexia Tarabotti to my list of favorite characters – yes, I have a list, doesn’t everyone? – I thought I would introduce you to a few of my other favorites:

  • Sherlock Holmes – No, I’m not on some bandwagon though I am obsessed with BBC’s “Sherlock”. I’ve loved the character of Sherlock Holmes since reading “The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle” and “The Speckled Band” in middle school (probably even longer thanks to The Great Mouse Detective, but discussion of that would be in another blog altogether).
    I couldn't resist! Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes complete with death frisbee.
    I couldn’t resist! Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes complete with death frisbee.

    Yes, he’s brilliant and solves impossible cases but what I like most about Sherlock is his snark.  In the books, he is excellent at insulting people without them realizing it.  And, most of the time, he only insults the characters that deserve it.  He’s actually pretty nice (by his standards) to the good people in the stories.  He just has an awesome bulls**t detector.

  • Augustus McCraeLonesome Dove could be unbearably heavy and dreary without someone to lighten the mood (just read Streets of Laredo and tell me it’s not a bit depressing). But Gus isn’t just a funny guy who likes to enjoy his life.  His quips and anecdotes are often full of wisdom and he really is a great leader of men.  Unfortunately, he’s also stubborn as hell in the end.  I’m still mad at him.

    Robert Duvall as Gus in the mini-series version of Lonesome Dove was perfection.
    Robert Duvall as Gus in the mini-series version of Lonesome Dove was perfection.
  • Ramona Quimby – In my younger days, I considered the star of Beverly Cleary’s delightful series one of my best friends. Like me, she is a little sister but she has the spunk I wish I had and the courage to get into all the trouble I wish I had been brave enough to get into.
    Ramona the Pest (Ramona #2) by Beverly Cleary
    Ramona the Pest (Ramona #2) by Beverly Cleary

    My favorite Ramona book is Ramona the Pest when she’s in kindergarten.  She chases a boy, pulls a classmate’s bouncy curls, draws her Qs into little cats, and gets into all sorts of scrapes at school and home.  As a shy quiet child, I wanted to be Ramona.

  • Atticus Finch – I hope it isn’t a crime these days to say Atticus Finch is one my favorite characters. I haven’t read Go Set a Watchman yet, so as far as I’m concerned, To Kill a Mockingbird is the only source for the character of Atticus or any of the Finches.  He is probably the noblest character in American literature, living by and standing by his values even when it is difficult and potentially dangerous.  Most importantly, though, he is the kind of father I would want for my children.

    Another reason to love Atticus Finch. It gives me an excuse to post a picture of Gregory Peck looking all noble.
    Another reason to love Atticus Finch. It gives me an excuse to post a picture of Gregory Peck looking all noble.
  • Sydney Carton – The main protagonist of Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities may seem like the polar opposite of Atticus Finch what with his drinking, laziness, and gloomy view of the world but he is every bit as noble. He finally finds a cause or purpose, whatever you want to call it, and then sacrifices himself (literally!) for it.  He dies so that the woman he loves can be happy with the man she loves.  And right before he loses his head, he says one of the most beautiful lines in all of literature:  “It is a far, far better thing that I do than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”
    Ronald Coleman as Sydney Carton in the 1935 film adaptation of A Tale of Two Cities.
    Ronald Coleman as Sydney Carton in the 1935 film adaptation of A Tale of Two Cities.

    I would’ve loved you, Sydney!

  • Elizabeth Bennett – If I can’t actually be Pride and Prejudice’s enviable heroine, Elizabeth Bennett, I would love to just hang out with her (and Jane, and Charlotte). Elizabeth is feisty, opinionated, intelligent, and has a wicked sense of humor.  And she got the dreamy Mr. Darcy just by being her feisty, opinionated, intelligent self.  And by learning to see beyond certain prejudices of course.

    Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennett from the 1995 BBC mini-series
    Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennett from the 1995 BBC mini-series

The mention of Mr. Darcy brings me to the subject of book boyfriends.  Mr. Darcy is definitely on that list as are a few other Austen heroes.  Mr. Tilney from Northanger Abbey runs a close second to Mr. Darcy thanks to his delightful sense of humor and Persuasion’s Captain Wentworth is a favorite because of the incredibly romantic declaration of his love for Anne (swoon!).  There are some fantastic fictional men not penned by Miss Austen.  If you’re looking for a good man, try Levi from Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, Colin Byrne from Ain’t She Sweet by Susan Elizabeth Phillips (he has kind of a Sherlock Holmes meets Mr. Darcy thing going on), Hugh of Harrowfield (also known as Red) from Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier, Matthew Clairmont from Deborah Harkness’s All Souls trilogy (or Gallowglass if you prefer your vampires a little rougher around the edges, or everyone’s current favorite Scotsman, Jamie Fraser from the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon.  There have been so many more literary men in my life; these are just a few of my favorites.

You'd didn't think I'd miss the opportunity to post a picture of Colin Firth did you?
You’d didn’t think I’d miss the opportunity to post a picture of Colin Firth, did you?

There are so many unforgettable characters out there, whether they are noble heroes, wicked villains, or scene-stealing secondary characters, that I can’t possibly go into detail about them all.  Here are a few of my Honorable Mentions:

As you’ve probably guessed, I could go on and on but for now, I’ve gone on and on long enough.  These are just a few of the memorable characters I’ve encountered in my lifetime of reading.  Who are your favorite characters?