School Daze

All over the world, the kiddies are going back to school. My daughter just went back this past Monday, starting 2nd grade. Her excitement was contagious and, I have to admit, it makes my heart sing to hear her being so enthusiastic about going back.

I loved school, especially college. Every year, it seems strange that I’m not right there with all the students, new and old, going around, finding just the right notebooks, pens, a planner that I may or may not actually use. I was lucky because I went back to college later in life. I think I was able to appreciate the learning experience a whole lot more than the first time I went to college right after high school. I was there because I wanted to be there. Not because I felt like I had to be there. I loved the experience of walking into a new class and finding out just what we were going to be discovering that semester. It always seemed a bit magical to me, which might sound a bit silly, but I’ll bet there are a few of you out there who understand what I’m talking about.

My school days are at an end, but my school “daze” is far from over. It’s been a pretty hectic couple of weeks trying to get my seven year old ready. Between family issues and an unexpected trip for her to go visit her dad, we had very little time to prepare. Still, we managed to find the coolest backpack (it has pink and purple peace signs on it) and pack it full of all the things she will need. Her teachers this year are awesome and everyone seems really excited to get going on a brand new year.

Now that everything has finally started, I’m hoping that things will calm down a little. This doesn’t mean that I won’t continue to live vicariously through my daughter when she gets to discover new things, read new books, and go through that wonderful journey of learning that always meant so much to me. I am very grateful that she shares this love of learning. Here’s to hoping it only grows as the years go on.

Doesn’t she look excited? 🙂
Books I've Read

Controversial? You decide . . .

I love controversy. It makes life interesting.

One of the most controversial book series in the past decade is His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman. I had heard a lot of things about it, with a wide spectrum of opinions. Some said that it was one of the most engaging fantasy stories ever written. Others said that it was a hideous and insulting attack on Christianity.

Whenever there is a book out there that creates this kind of buzz, I know that it’s a book I have to read.

There are three books in the series: The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass. They follow the story of Lyra, a young girl who is unwittingly pulled into a battle between the church (the Magisterium) and those who want to be free of its tyranny. There are so many interesting aspects of these books, but the one that I love the most is the story world that Pullman creates. Lyra’s world at Jordan College is similar to our own in many ways, but there are some really amazing differences as well. For starters, each person has a daemon, a part of their spirit or soul that lives outside their bodies in an animal form. From the first page, I wanted a daemon! I wondered what mine would look like, what personality it would have. Another awesome thing? The armored bears of Svalbard. Yes. A kingdom of talking polar bears who wear armor and do battle. How cool is that!

As the series progresses, we are also introduced to Will, who is from our world. He and Lyra form a partnership that becomes an beautiful friendship. That was another thing that I loved about these books – the depth of the characters. With all the fantastical elements in them, the characters feel very real, from the heroes to the villains. No character is simple, not even the ones who seem to be the epitome of evil. You are left constantly guessing what their true motivations are, right until the end.

I can see why some people might have been offended by books with the premise of basically setting out to destroy the church and kill God. The thing is, I don’t think you have to read it like that. I think there are many ways to read books. For example, C.S. Lewis’ famous series The Chronicles of Narnia can easily be read as a fancy Christian allegory and nothing more, with Aslan being the Christ figure. But you don’t have to read it that way if you don’t want to. Allegory or not, Narnia is still a really fun story set in an exciting and mystical world. Pullman does the same thing. I think if you strip away all the controversy of the books and read it as a brilliant fantasy story, it is easy to become enchanted by them, regardless of your personal religious beliefs.

So go check them out! They are definitely worth the read.

Drabbles · Writing

The end of summer is near . . .

And with the end of summer comes change. Lots and lots of changes. For one, school will be starting and while I’m not a student anymore (sigh), I have two elementary school age children at home who need to get ready for the new year. Open houses, school supply lists, new clothes – the list of things to do before next Monday seems to keep growing.

Still, I am looking forward to getting back to a normal schedule. Writing group, which was mostly on hiatus for the summer, is starting back up this Saturday. I am trying so hard to get my head back into the writing game. Over the summer, I have gone through all the stages of psychological trauma which I have heard is normal, even for experienced published novelists. I have hated my characters. I have told myself that my story is the worst thing ever to be typed into Microsoft Word. I have sworn that I would never write again.

And then I go right back and start writing. I guess I’m a glutton for punishment.

I’ve also made a few changes around my blog, starting with a brand new, fancy name. “Life With No Plot” means several things to me. While my novel in progress does have a plot, often it is hard to remember it and stick to it while I’m writing. I foresee a lot of rewrites in my future. But it also means that for right now, my life has no specific plot. I have several goals, of course, but no major plans as to how to achieve them. I used to really work myself up and stress myself out because there were so many things I wanted to do and no real means with which to do them. For right now, I am trying to live life with no expectations. No long term plans. Seizing the day. So far it seems to be working, but it’s only been a few days. Give me a few weeks and then we’ll see where I’m at.

I’ve also decided to drop my pseudonym and go for realism. Pleased to meet you, my name is Denise.

So if you liked my blog before, don’t worry. I’m still going to be talking about books. A lot. But hopefully there will be a lot more than that, and much more frequent posts.