Tag Archives: literature
“I think there’s just one kind of folks. Folks.”
It was announced this morning that Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird and it’s long-awaited sequel over fifty years later Go Set a Watchman, had passed away in her sleep. She was 89 years old.
To Kill a Mockingbird was an instant classic when it was published in 1960 and has since remained a staple in literature classes. It was definitely one of my favorite novels that I read in high school, touching upon racial inequality, rape, and the destruction of innocence, all loosely based on an event in her hometown when she had been ten years old. The book is widely used as a lesson on tolerance and prejudice, and is a book that everyone should have a chance to read. It’s a timeless classic that can still share its lessons with the world today:
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”
Thank you, Harper Lee. May your stories and lessons continue to brighten the world.
Ever have those books that you can’t describe? One of those stories that just swallows you up, heart and soul, but for the life of you, you just cannot describe it properly enough to give it justice?
Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus is that book for me.
The book has already been out for a little over three years, but it still seems brand new. I had thought the premise was interesting when it had first been published, if only because the author had written it due to NaNoWriMo. It was exciting to know a fellow NaNoer had broken into the publishing industry and, although I don’t know her personally, I was proud of her success. After the book was published (like, months after, maybe a year later), one of my old friends had thrust her copy of the novel into my hands, demanding that I read it.
Come to think of it, she couldn’t really give me a good, proper description of it either.
I devoured the book. I could not – did not want – to put the novel down. I had other borrowed books, most of them from Rachel’s old boyfriend (who was very confused as to why it took me years to read his borrowed books, but mere days to read The Night Circus, and all Rachel could say was that, while his books were good, they were not as soul-sucking as The Night Circus was for me), but they were abandoned in favor the Morgenstern’s masterpiece.
Alas, I eventually had to return the book, and I had no idea what to do with my time for a while after finishing the story. Eventually, despite feeling as if I had lost a very dear friend, I had moved on with my life for the next two years. Until this past Christmas season, that is.
About half of my Christmas wish list consisted of books, and one of the latest additions to the list was The Night Circus. I don’t know what prompted me to think of the story again, but it wasn’t a thought I pondered about for long. It was a welcome present and, despite the other dozen or so books that I have unread on my bookshelf, The Night Circus was the first book I began to read after the holidays wound down.
My mother asked me recently what The Night Circus was about, and I was stumped. “Magic,” was the first word that popped into my head, then came the not-so-brilliant, “It’s about a circus that’s only opened at night.” Seriously, duh. I started to ramble. “There’s a love story beneath it all, it’s really about a competition between these two magicians, but they didn’t enter the competition themselves, and they use all sorts of magic to help create and maintain this circus. The circus isn’t a typical three-ring affair with lion tamers and acrobats, but filled with many sorts of tents, like one created entirely of ice and a pool where you throw stones to get rid of those weights of the world on your shoulder…”
That’s really all I remember. My mom began to just give me a smile, one of those amusing kinds of smiles that said she was humoring me and enjoying the fact that I loved the book so much.
The Night Circus is one of those stories where you have to read it several times. The first time you plow through the pages and chapters, eagerly getting to the end just to see what happens because you’ll die if you don’t find out right. Now. The second (and the third and the forth and so on) time you read it, you taste it slowly, relishing the small bites, the intricate details you missed on your first flight through the words. It’s an amazing bookshelf addition for everyone who enjoys a world with magic, a bit of romance, and just the fantastical blending beautifully with people.
I hope everyone out there has a book that they cannot properly describe.
Another scribble that I hope you folks will enjoy. Critique is always appreciated!
“It’s all fun and games until someone gets hit over the head with a frying pan.”
Cosmo blinked as he heard Murphy’s words when the other young man entered the dining area with a tray full of chocolate cake pieces. “Goofing off again?” he asked.
“No, I was legitimately asking Lydia if she would go out with me,” Murphy said. “If it wasn’t for my awesome reflexes, I would have been decapitated. The forearm strength of our gorgeous cook is amazing!”
“She’s going to file for sexual harassment one day,” Cosmo said, glancing around his host’s podium to be sure no customers were within earshot.
“Nah, she loves the attention,” Murphy called out as he went to deliver the desserts to table ten. Cosmo shook his head and plastered on a fake smile as a young couple approached him to ask for a private booth. Being a slow Tuesday night, he was able to offer the pair a wide variety of seats and decided to place them in Zoe’s section; if they were put in Murphy’s section, Murphy most likely would not have been able to resist flirting harmlessly with the woman.
“Your waitress will be with you shortly,” Cosmo told the pair after they had been seated. As he left to return to his station, he added, “Enjoy your meals.”
Cosmo fidgeted by his podium and kept glancing at his watch. He still had a few more hours before closing time, and the restaurant was almost deserted. Cosmo wondered how much trouble he would get into if he faked a plumbing or electrical problem and closed the place early.
“Hey, boss.” Murphy reappeared, his shirt covered in what appeared to be wine. “The lady at table twelve isn’t too happy.”
Cosmo groaned. “What happened?”
“The wine wasn’t red enough.”
Murphy was looking down at his shirt. “I disagree with her,” he said conversationally. “My white shirt is definitely red now. Anyway, sorry, but she wants to see a manager to complain.” Murphy clapped Cosmo on the back as he passed by to go back into the kitchen. “Good luck!”
Cosmo took a deep breath before calling over Zoe to watch the front, and made his way to table twelve. There a solitary woman sat, a long cigarette clutched precariously between her fingers as she stared at a newspaper. Her dark red hair was pulled up in a tight bun with blue and green feathers poking out of it. Her lips were drenched in crimson lipstick, matching the dress that looked as if its’ seams were about to burst. Cosmo didn’t remember seating the woman, and guessed that the previous host of the day had given her the private booth. He wondered if she would be offended if he reached over to open a window to get rid of the hazy smoke circling her head.
“Hello, ma’am,” Cosmo said. “I am Cosmo, one of the managers for the night. How can I be of assistance?”
“Your wine,” she muttered, “is inadequate. I require something more…red. Like blood.”
Cosmo tried to school his expression into remaining neutral, despite the fact that his mind was racing with the possibility of this woman being utterly crazy. How close were the police to the restaurant? Was a lady wanting blood-red wine enough of a reason to call them?
“I apologize if you did not like the wine that was brought to you,” he said. “I will personally go into the kitchen and find our reddest wine for you.”
She chuckled. “See that you do.”
Cosmo couldn’t walk fast enough away from the woman, and nearly ran into the kitchen.
“Jesus, that lady is scary…!”
“Aw, Cosmo, that’s not very nice.” Murphy was still there and leaning against one of the counters. “Lydia’s not scary.”
“Not Lydia,” Cosmo snapped as he went to the wine rack. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed Lydia shove Murphy away from her counter to start kneading dough for more bread. “I was talking about the woman at table twelve.”
“Ah, the Lady in Red,” Murphy said. He began to sing the Chris DeBurgh song, and even attempted to pull Lydia into a dance. Lydia threw some flour on his shirt to add to the wine as she ignored him and returned to her dough. “At least my shirt’s white again—”
“Lydia, is this our reddest wine?” Cosmo asked.
She glanced at him, clearly bemused, but looked at the title. “That’s it,” she said, and returned to her duties. Cosmo thanked her and left the kitchen, dragging Murphy with him to go clean up some empty tables while Murphy waited for the food for his occupied tables to be done. Cosmo ignored Murphy complaining about Cosmo interrupting his alone time with Lydia while making his way back to table twelve with the wine.
“Ma’am,” Cosmo said, and waited for her to look up from her newspaper. He held out the bottle for her inspection. “I’m afraid this wine is the reddest that we have. Will this do?”
She peered at it critically, looking at the bottle on all sides including the bottom. Her nose wrinkled, and Cosmo had a sudden fear that she would throw the bottle back at him, but she eventually shrugged and said, “I suppose. Pour me half a glass and leave the bottle here.”
Cosmo stole a glass from a nearby empty table and did as she said. “I hope you enjoy it.”
She just waved him away, her attention back on her newspaper. He glanced at the paper, curious as to what story she was so enthralled with, but soon hurried back to his station. Murphy was by the podium, apparently choosing to let Zoe return to her tables instead of cleaning like Cosmo said.
“Do you know what she’s reading?” Cosmo asked.
“I think she’s in the middle of one of those romance books,” Murphy said. “You know, the supernatural ones—”
Cosmo stared at Murphy, dumbfounded. “What?”
“Yeah, I saw the novel sticking out of Lydia’s bag—”
“Stop obsessing over the cook,” Cosmo said, lightly punching Murphy’s arm. Murphy rubbed the spot as Cosmo continued speaking. “That red lady’s newspaper is all in some sort of weird language with symbols instead of letters.”
“So, she has a Japanese newspaper,” Murphy said with a shrug. “I thought we already established that she’s a bit eccentric.”
“The title has little pictures of wings and sparkles decorating the letters,” Cosmo said.
The waiter stared at him. “Okay, so… I have no idea what to say to that. I’m not sure why you care—”
“Make sure you take good care of table twelve,” Cosmo said with a sigh. “I want that lady out of here as soon as possible.”
Murphy raised an eyebrow. “She seems to like you,” he said, glancing behind the manager at the table’s direction. “In fact, she’s beckoning to you right now.”
Cosmo turned around and noticed that the woman was indeed motioning with her index finger for him to return to her. He gave her a polite smile, had a ten-second whispered argument with Murphy about who should go, lost the sequential rock-paper-scissors game, and made his way over to the table.
“Hello,” he said. “How may I help you this time?”
“What is the best area to see the full moon around here?” she asked.
He paused. “In all honesty, there are not too many places within the town’s limits,” Cosmo said. “Perhaps you could try Green Park? There are some sections of it around the pond that don’t have too many tall trees or buildings to block out the sky.”
“Where is that?”
Cosmo tried not to cough from the cigarette smoke she had exhaled toward him when she spoke. “It’s right after the town’s center,” he said. “You take a right after leaving our parking lot and you go down Main Street. Keep going straight until you see Woods Lane on your right. Go down that road, it’ll curve a bit as it goes around the pond, and you’ll eventually find the parking lot for Green Park. Walk along the park’s sidewalk until you find a spot you like to watch the moon.”
She hummed in thought, and then nodded. “When does this restaurant close?”
“It closes at 11 o’clock, ma’am,” Cosmo said, glad for an easy question.
“Are you here until then?” was her next inquiry.
“Yes I am, ma’am.”
“Very well.” She turned her attention back to her newspaper. “I shall wait until you get off to take me to this Green Park.”
Cosmo’s stomach dropped. “E-excuse me?”
“I do not know this area,” she said. She turned a page of the newspaper, her eyes not leaving it. “I will require you to take me to Green Park.”
“Ma’am, I will be needed here past 11 o’clock to supervise the clean up routine,” Cosmo said, grasping at imaginary excuses for this woman to leave him alone.
“There are benches outside for me to wait,” she said. “I have lived a long time and am a very patient woman.”
Cosmo glanced at her, figuring that she didn’t look any older than her forties. “Um, ma’am—”
“Hey, boss.” Murphy clapped Cosmo on the shoulder, and gave the woman a polite, “Excuse me,” before directing his attention back to Cosmo. “Sorry for interrupting, but I wanted to tell you before I forgot. Your mechanic called and said that your car wouldn’t be ready for a couple of days. It looks like you’re stuck with the town bus for a bit.”
Cosmo raised an eyebrow at Murphy, whom flashed a grin at the red lady and apologized once more at interrupting before making his way to the kitchen.
“You do not have your vehicle?” the woman asked.
“No, ma’am,” Cosmo lied, thinking of his little truck in the employees’ parking area. “I was just about to mention that. The tire blew out this morning on my way to the bank.”
“It will take a few days to fix a tire?”
Cosmo inwardly cursed his stupidity, but settled for a polite shrug. “I guess my mechanic found something else wrong with it, in which case I was lucky the tire blew at this time. Better to get it all fixed now, I suppose.”
She stared at him before looking back at her paper. “Very well, I will find this Green Park myself. Good luck with your vehicle.”
“Thank you, ma’am.” He waited for half a second to see if she was going to say anything else before speed-walking back to his podium. Murphy was there and grinned at him.
“So, can I take your car for the night to help with the story?” he asked.
Cosmo sighed and gave the waiter a crooked smile. “Fine, but don’t scratch it or dent it or eat food in it—”
“Alright, alright, I’ll take good care of your baby,” Murphy said.
“Thank you, though, honestly,” Cosmo said.
“No problem,” Murphy said. “That lady sounded so sketchy, asking you to take her to the park.”
“Tell me about it,” Cosmo muttered. “I’ll trade you my car keys for your bus fare, if you don’t mind…?”
“It sounds like a deal,” Murphy said. He went back into the kitchen, and Cosmo shook his head as he heard Murphy say to Lydia, “Hey, I got a car tonight! Now can we go out?”
The rest of the night was fairly uneventful, and Cosmo was thankful that the lady in red walked out of the restaurant around quarter to 10. She didn’t pay for her wine or rare steak, but Cosmo wasn’t too concerned with it. The woman was bizarre, and he hoped that she wouldn’t return to the restaurant ever again, or at least not when he was working. After they closed up the restaurant and cleaned up at the end of the night, Cosmo watched forlornly as Murphy took his car for the night (Cosmo had even asked to call the deal off, but Murphy mentioned the possibility of the scary lady watching from the bushes to be sure that Cosmo really did take the bus, and Cosmo didn’t really argue with his friend), and went to the bus stop for the town bus.
The bus ride took about twenty minutes to get to his stop, and it took Cosmo another ten to walk home. During that time, he tried to forget about the lady, instead focusing his thoughts on what he was going to do on his day off tomorrow without a car. He made it to his front door, inserted his key into the lock, and looked up at the sky as he turned his doorknob in time to see the full moon blow up.
Hi everyone! This is just a quick post talking about random generators and how awesome they can be in helping to jump-start stories or ideas for those that love to write (or whatever… I’m sure the generators can be used for many other things as well).
I recently discovered this little gem of a site: Fantasy Name Generators. Not only does it have a plethora of generators for character names, there are also description and name generators for places, animals, spells, superpowers, book titles, and so many other categories. I took inspiration from the tavern description generator and the cafe name generator for my latest scribbles The Steelclouds and Common Grounds, respectively.
Another random story scribble. Enjoy!
From the outside, the tavern looked dull and dirty. It was difficult to see through the grime-caked windows, but there were flickers of candlelight fluttering from the inside to indicate someone was home. Porter went inside, the large wooden door creaking to announce his entrance. The bartender was using a rag to wipe a glass that was not getting cleaner did not even acknowledge Porter’s presence.
The tavern itself was nearly empty, and those few patrons scattered among the tables and chairs were silent, plotting. Not a one looked Porter’s way and he was okay with that. He paused, glancing around toward the low fireplace, and debated on whether or not he should order a drink from the bar. The bartender had yet to look Porter’s way, yet Porter figured he should buy something in exchange for having a meeting at the establishment.
A stranger in a hooded cloak puffing on a pipe beckoned to Porter from a table on the far wall, making Porter’s decision for him. Porter strode over to the table and took a seat, ignoring the dust and streaks of who-knows-what that were on the chair.
“Mr. Porter.” The hooded stranger breathed out the greeting with wisps of tobacco smoke.
“Mister…” Porter hesitated, acutely aware that he knew nothing of the stranger in front of him other than the fact that the stranger represented the Steelclouds. The stranger grinned, enjoying that fact as well.
The stranger lightly pushed a piece of parchment toward Porter. “Contract.”
Porter took the parchment in his hands and began to skim through the terms and agreements. He did not have too many options other than hiring the Steelclouds, to be honest, to get rid of certain problematic people in the court’s circle, but he wanted to be sure the job would be done.
“Your payment clause,” Porter said hesitantly. The Steelcloud took out his pipe and sat up straighter. He nodded as a gesture for Porter to continue speaking. “I don’t quite understand it. It’s not in monetary terms… Actually, it’s more like in terms of—“
“Years.” The Steelcloud leaned over the table and his voice dropped to a low whisper. “We take a life, and we get a life in return. Or rather roughly about thirty-five years, if the life lives that long.”
“Oh.” Porter’s mind attempted to grasp the concept. “Such as a servant or a slave, you mean.”
“Another body,” the Steelcloud said. “The body should be young enough to be trained well, depending on which job we wish for the body to do.”
“Like cooking or cleaning, then.”
The Steelcloud’s grin would make a snake proud. “Among other… tasks.”
“That should not be a problem,” Porter said. “I have several servants that I could use as payment—“
“I already know which body I want,” the Steelcloud said. “You want the royal family out of the way, as you put it when you first contacted us. The king and the queen we will kill as a package. The young princess, however, will be our payment.”
“That will still leave the bloodline alive—“
“No one will know who the princess is, least of all her once she’s ours,” the Steelcloud said, waving a hand as one would casually wave away a fly. “If you are truly paranoid, I may be able to find a suitable substitute to kill as the princess, but it would cost extra—“
“No, that’s quite alright.” Porter cleared his throat, not comfortable at all with the idea of the Steelclouds killing a random little girl just for the sake of pretending to off the princess. “I’m sure your skills and plans are more than adequate for the job. I accept your terms of payment.”
“Then sign.” The Steelcloud handed Porter an ink-dipped quill, and Porter only hesitated for a breath before signing away the lives of Opar’s royal family.