When Old Meets New

•March 26, 2013 • Leave a Comment

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I had to add a category ‘music’ to my already long list. The reason for this is a new album from my absolute favourite band Depeche Mode. Their thirteenth studio album called Delta Machine arrived in a post yesterday and I couldn’t wait to get back home from work. As usual, with this band, I was taken aback when I pressed play button and the first notes resonated the room. At first I wasn’t  sure what to make of it. I’ve listened to their music since I was thirteen and heard Black Celebration album for the first time. Since then a lot of water ran through the rivers and I cut my hair many times. However, this morning on my way to work I turned the CD on and the volume up. Suddenly I could hear all those notes and sounds so familiar and so different at the same time. The deep and distinct voice of Dave Gahan accompanied by a softer, more feminine one of Martin Gore did the trick and I was hooked again. How could I ever doubted them, especially after so many years and songs I know from my heart. Their music is a typical example a band can stay true to themselves and yet remain inventive in the creative potential is present.

The combination of melody and techno sounds combined with lyrics full of emotions is what makes them one of the best bands, although often neglected by media. Thanks to their faithful fan base their music won’t be forgotten. Well done guys once again.

 

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Andy ‘Fletch’ Fletcher, Martin Gore, Dave Gahan

Needless to say, I’m counting days to see them in concert on 29th May 2013 in O2 Arena!

Niina

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Inspiring books I read Part II.

•March 24, 2013 • 2 Comments

I’m back with some more inspiring books I read as I promised yesterday. And I am thrilled I’m sitting in front of the screen and typing away. The new writing routine seem to be working rather well for me. (We’ll see how long it’s going to last before the monster of self-doubt stick out its horns again.)

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I’ve mentioned two books that inspired me already. But there is more. I shall start with one I read when I was fifteen and it was on recommendation of my mother who’s been a great reader herself, although the genres she reads are not always my cup of tea. However, we shared an interest in historical fiction at some point and it happened I opened a book called Quo Vadis by Henryk Sienkiewitcz, a polish author who eventually got awarded Nobel Prize for literature. He must spent an enormous amount of time researching historical details and figures to portray Rome under the rule of Nero so precisely. Although I read the book only once I am still able to recall most of it; the characters as well as the feel of the book. It’s got a place in my heart. I can still picture the lions circling the Christians in the Colosseum to eventually attack them and tear at their limbs. The descriptions in this book are excellent and they’ll make your hair stand up in fear and despair for those poor people being sent to a cruel death. And of course there is a story of great love involved, too.

 

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Coming back to John Irving, I have to mention his latest book In One Person, published in 2012 as his thirteenth novel. It’s full of exciting and wonderfully colourful characters, struggling with themselves. It could be said it has kind of coming of age theme. The main character Billy Abbott is a bisexual man and we follow his journey of self-discovery full of meeting the ‘wrong’ people. It’s set in America and one of the serious issues discussed in this novel is the ‘boom’ of AIDS in 1980s and its effect on people’s lives. It seems Irving’s strength is in his ability to discuss serious issues and tabu with a great deal of humour. He’s not afraid to show humanity in every way possible while talking about touchy (still fo some) subjects of transgender, homosexuality, bisexuality and/or AIDS. As usual his characters are alive, they make mistakes, they all have emotions we readers are sometimes afraid of admitting ourselves. But what is more important is that one can get lost in his world of fiction and identify with it at the same time.

 

I wish you all a very happy and fulfilling reading

 

Niina

 

Inspiring books I read Part I.

•March 23, 2013 • 3 Comments

In my almost forty years on this planet I have read countless books. Some better than others, some inspiring and unforgettable, some less interesting and long forgotten. It happened only twice that I could not finish the book I started to read. First title was One Day, a novel by David Nicholls, and the other Host, a novel by Stephenie Meyer. I tried hard to get through the lines and pages. I swear I did my utmost to get to the end but something wouldn’t let me. Because I was a novice to this unfinished business (I like books too much to leave them half way through), I asked myself why. What was it that restrained me from reading till the end? I guess either story didn’t interest me enough. I couldn’t identify with characters. It felt fake and forced, written for the sake of it. I know many would disagree with this. I’m not trying to persuade anybody that’s how they should feel too. And it does not mean these books are not worth reading. They’re just not my cup of tea.

When I contemplated about the topic of today’s post, a subject of inspiration came to my mind again. And you all know I’m struggling with sticking to my daily writing routine. I thought about books that inspired me. Books that made me want to become a writer. Books that made me envious. And books I will cherish till the day I die. (Well, that’s a bit melodramatic, forgive me.)

There are many of those I’d like to mention but let me begin with two. I read The World According to Garp, a novel by John Irving that made him noticed in the world of big authors, for the first time when I was around nineteen; I cannot remember exactly. I can still feel the need of turning the pages till early hours, sleep deprived, but excited. Excited so much that right after I finished it  I had to start again. I loved the characters, their struggles and insecurities, their life long desires. The characters felt real, as if I could touch them if I wanted. Needless to say, since then I read the book countless times. I can open the book on any page and carry on reading and I can assure you I would always find something new and exciting I haven’t noticed before. And I’m jealous (but also happy) Mr Irving wrote such a treasure.

Second book I’d like to mention today is The House of the Spirits, a début novel by Isabel Allende. Completely different from the first one but as delightful and challenging. I read both books first in Czech translation and as my English improved, I bought English versions. The latter arrived in a post around two weeks ago and I started to indulge myself last night. Clara, the main character, reminds me a little of my grandmother. Her ability to see and speak to ghosts is unnerving. Her story takes us to Chile, in the post-colonial and political upheaval times, and the book incorporates elements of magical realism.

If there were only a few books allowed in the world to read, I would definitely vote for those two. And I hope I may have inspired you to read them, too.

More on this subject tomorrow. Happy reading

Niina

 

Near the End

•March 21, 2013 • Leave a Comment

As I’m waiting with anticipation for the latest assignment results I’ve started working on my next and last project in Advanced Creative Writing module. TMA04 was to write a proposal for TMA06 and EMA (end of module assignment). This level 3 module was meant to teach us (or try us) to work on a longer project. Therefore the advice when choosing what to write was that it should be exciting enough to keep attention and creative juices flowing. As always there were options to choose from regarding the form. Poetry, stage/radio/screen, fiction and life writing. It didn’t take me long to decide. As a part of last year’s A215 module I wrote a life writing piece about my grandmother and left off with a considerable cliffhanger.

Life writing can be painful and emotionally draining. However, I thought if I opt for life writing combined with fiction, I could achieve even better result than just interpreting what happened to my grandmother. Another reason for choosing a fiction based on real events was the fact that my grandmother died almost three years ago and I wouldn’t be able to find out all the details about the event. I would have to improvise anyway. So the choice presented itself.

The requirements for fiction/life writing are to write a complete short story or a beginning of a novel up to 4,000 words with 10% leeway. This is so far the longest project I’ve worked on outside of my own writing. For the same reasons I cannot post my other projects connected with this module I’m not able to give you any details until I get results. But I can assure you the story of my grandmother will be worth of your attention. So I’ll better go and work on it.

Niina

Staring at the screen…

•March 17, 2013 • 2 Comments

…could be a song title, with a little bit of imagination. Originally I intended to write a film review but kept staring at the screen and the title Little Ashes for far too long to carry on. Talking about being inspired, hmm. However, in attempt to being disciplined once more I might just write what comes to my mind while my daughter is watching Puss in Boots. I envy her carefree attitude to life. Although almost eighteen she doesn’t show the ‘usual’ signs of what being a teenager involves. She stays at home in the evenings, she watches Gray’s Anatomy with us, reads books and spends a few hours a day on internet. She’s quiet, and sometimes I doubt she does anything she’s required at college. And then she surprises me when an email from her awaits for me at work with essays and proposals and other stuff she’s done asking me to print it out for her.

I guess it’s a different world our children live in these days. Different in appearance, different in speed and technology. But on the other hand priorities stays the same. Our children wants to be loved and accepted just like we did. They want to feel and experience, some earlier than others, what the world has to offer. I’m grateful my daughter is in no hurry to enter this world where hurt and disillusion awaits first to help her become stronger. I’m happy for my daughter to stay at home and not to worry about her whereabouts. I’m happy she’s choosing well who she spends her time with. And I’m happy she has grown into such a mature young woman. I guess we did something right raising her up the way we did.

As I’m staring at the screen, I’m happy with the words that come to my mind, even though they have nothing to do with creative writing, or my novel. I’m happy I can be part of my daughter’s life and watch her grow and learn and share her world; just the way she’s seeing it. Thank you Stella 🙂 Love you xxx

Niina

Elemental Mysteries

•March 16, 2013 • 1 Comment

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OK, so it looks like the world of supernatural creatures such as vampires, witches and demons is about to stay popular for some times. After the boom of Twilight, I stumbled upon a series written by Elizabeth Hunter, an American author, called Elemental Mysteries. There are four books in this series and I must say I enjoyed reading them all. Main characters, Beatrice and Giovanni, are well portrayed and thought through. One can identify with their emotions and struggles, motivations and intentions. Beatrice is no longer a virgin, she’s a strong willed and intelligent, able to think for herself. Giovanni, five hundred years old vampire, is charming, complex character using not only his supernatural abilities but also his intellect.

In the first book we meet those two for the first time and we get to know another world of vampires. Unlike in Twilight, most of vampires in Elemental Mysteries do need human blood to keep up their strength and it’s only a matter of choice which way they decide to get it. There are some that choose to be ‘vegetarians’ and hunt animals. Another twist is that every vampire is assigned an element, depending on who sired them. So we get familiar with vampires who control elements of fire (Giovanni), earth, water and air.

Although Elemental Mysteries and the story of Beatrice and Giovanni is a love story, the books are packed with action, history and deceit. The deeper the relationship between those two is, the sexier the reading gets. The scenes are well written, they are believable and one can feel the love they share. I’m no teenager, but I have enjoyed reading these books and am glad I found them. If you like good love story, if you like supernatural and a bit of history, you cannot go wrong with Elemental Mysteries.

So get reading and let yourselves be transferred into a world where, despite vampires, everything seems real  🙂

Niina

In need of discipline II.

•March 13, 2013 • Leave a Comment

No matter how many time I can promise myself to stick to a writing routine, every single intention fails. It always starts with an influx of ideas, free writings and diary entries, and ends up with weeks or even months of nothing. The only thing that seem to be working is any kind of deadline. Doing a writing module with Open University has proved I can do deadline. Actually, I’m much better organized and motivated when I can see a finish line, a submission date.

I also find work too distracting. While I was on holiday last year, I spent whole two weeks writing. I got up every morning, wrote for a couple of hours, enjoyed time with my girls and animals, to carry on writing in the afternoon, sometimes till midnight. I managed to write up to 5,000 words a day, feeling happy and satisfied with what I’ve done. A resolution of carrying on after going back to work did not last long. Just like a new year’s resolutions; they are made and then slowly disappear in nowhere. Because my job is mentally demanding, I guess this is the reason for being drained before I even get to sit down at the computer and start writing. The constant need of improving my performance and coming up with new ideas is somewhat so tiring that all I want to do is to switch off and be transported into another world. That’s when the Kindle comes and I gladly turn it on to be lulled into a state of mind where I don’t have to think and I become a reader.

On the other hand, the nagging need of being a writer is still there. I do enjoy writing my assignments, although writing a script proved to be more difficult than I would have thought. But I have to say I’m looking forward to finishing this module and then take a break for almost a year before I’ll go back to studying. I fell I need to write something I really want; not something I have to do. So the plan of finishing a story about the boy who could not speak is pretty alive at the moment. And with it also my resolution to stick to a routine and write every day. I am in need of discipline once again. Any advice on how to do so would be more than welcome. How have you overcome this hurdle? Are you struggling like I do? Have you got a secret recipe you’d like to share with me?

Yours sincerely

Niina in need

 
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