Tag Archives: book

Review: House Of Cards Book

 

HouseofCardsUK-poster

“All members of Cabinet are referred to as Right Honorable Gentlemen. There are only three things wrong with such a title…” – Michael Dobbs, House of Cards

I must admit, like most Americans, I hadn’t heard of Michael Dobbs or his award winning book series until Netflix released their take on the trilogy starring Kevin Spacey. When I first picked up the book and opened to the very first page, I was hooked. After seeing Netflix’s House Of Cards, I was pleasantly surprised to find it different. Much of the same characters are there but with a different twist.

Unlike the TV show, the book opens with Mattie (or Zoe to those familiar with the show) and not Francis. The story is set in the UK and deals with a Chief Whip in the British government. After not receiving the deal he’d been promised by the current Prime Minister, he decides to abandon all loyalty and punish those who’d betrayed him. He blackmails the weak, manipulates those around him, uses the media and even resorts to murder. His personality is snobbery mixed with charm and several pounds of cunning intelligence. By the end, two key characters are killed off and a Prime Minister replaced with Francis himself.

If you’re thinking this might be like the TV show, you’ll be either surprised or disappointed.

Key Differences

American Politics vs. British
The British government is a whole different breed an the American establishment. If you have no idea how the British government works, you won’t need to worry because this book won’t confuse. At first, I was bit a lost but after a few chapters I found my way. In the TV show, Frank is terribly liberal but with no ideology whereas Francis is a conservative with high expectations of reward.

Mattie vs. Zoe
In the show, I thought Zoe was a bit stupid and very vane. Mattie possesses more of a conscious and stronger morals. Zoe, other on the hand, is willing to do what it takes to get what she needs. For example, using her body to manipulate Frank.

Claire Underwood vs Elizabeth
In the show, I absolutely loved Claire. I very much missed her absence in the book. Francis is married to a woman with almost the same personality and conspiratorial evilness as Claire but she doesn’t take much part in the story. It isn’t until the second book that we see more of her.

Then vs. Now
When the book was published in the 1980’s, politics and technology was different. Things vastly changed when the web connected everyone and the middle east became more a threat. In the book, the Soviet Union is mentioned whereas in the show education is a key part.

I could go on with the list but I believe most of you can see how the story varies from the show. Which of course it would. One is British and written in the 1980’s and the second is American and filmed today. I have started reading the second book and will report on it soon.

A Final Decision

PiperArrow

I’ve been quiet on here as of late. It’s been hectic in the life of me. Recently, I took some time to pause and reflect on my life. On the things I’d love to be doing and how to get to the point where I can do them.

My book as for now is on standby. I’m burnt out on it. I need some time to step back and take a deep breath. I’ve been pressuring myself to get it done. A few months ago, I approached a couple of editors who loved the idea of my book. They handed me their business cards and said to shoot them an email. I did. And I have waited. No reply yet. Which is typical considering they’re editors. I was told by one that I probably wouldn’t hear from them until November. Since I last spoke to them, I’ve been working my butt off trying to finish my book by November. I’ve come to realize how that is totally not going to happen. Apart from writers block, stressful stuff happening and other things, I’m burnt.

I won’t stop blogging or writing though. I’ve decided to fulfill one of my old dreams: to fly. I’d like to take off up into the blue atmosphere and buzz around the sun and clouds. I don’t usually mention my personal life on here but I happen to work at an airport. My boss just so happens to be giving me a crazy, once in a lifetime deal. He said he’d like to help me pursue my dream of flying. So pursue I will.

I’ve started another blog called Just A Plane Girl where I blog about my aviator adventures. I will still write on here about my misadventures as a writer and the progress on my book. I’m not, by all means, giving up on my book. I will still continue to write and work on it until it’s finished. I’ve been saying for the past year it feels like that my book is almost done or that the skeleton is there and it just needs filling in. There’s research that needs to be done. Details that need filling in. Dots needing to be connected. It’s coming along but very slowly. Hopefully one day… Scratch that. One day I will be sharing it with all of you. 🙂

The Fascination of Drying Paint

Staring Out A Window

I’m stuck on a scene… Or rather I should say I’m stuck on several scenes and probably the rest of my book.

The problem isn’t that I don’t where to take the scene. The problem is that I feel as if my engine has been used up. As though there is no gas left in the tank. This is a horrible, awful, terrible feeling if you happen to be on a deadline and constantly trying to push yourself to write more.

My book is due to be published… Well, the editors should be getting back to me by November-ish. At which time I have to send them my entire book in its completed state. It’s current state is about eight chapters out of thirty. I’ve a lot of material written from previous drafts. Some of it I’ve been using and it’s helped.

My favorite feeling in the world is that sense of fire you get from inspiration. The flame that burns and burns and propels you to write a really, really good piece. It’s as if the words themselves are coming from some celestial place in the universe. A place of divine inspiration. A place that happens… Not as often as we’d like.

The worst feeling is the moment you start writing and it’s like watching paint dry. Each sentence, description, everything sounds absolutely stark. Forced. I’ve tried everything to bring my words to life this morning. I was completely productive and cleaned. I showered. I did chores. I went for a jog. I came home feeling refreshed and ready to fight the world. But then, I get on here and start typing. The words won’t obey me. My creativity is kaput.

Sometimes, when I feel like this I’ll stick a really good soundtrack on that’s full of energy. A few times it has worked and vitalized my writing. This time however… I’m still watching paint dry.

Shooting Blanks

elmer1
I’m trying to finish up a chapter. I know what should be in the chapter but I can’t find the sentences at the moment to do so. I’m on a very tight deadline for my book. In two months, maybe less.. I need it done. Which is a scary thought considering how little I have actually done. Today was a long day at work and my eyelids feel droopy. Half of me is considering brewing some coffee and chugging a cup of dark espresso. While on the other hand, I really just want to crash.

It’s interesting how movies and books are so BS. In TV shows or films, the hero of the story will chug a cup of coffee while working hard on the project that will save the world. Even though he has work in the morning and most likely get no sleep… That doesn’t faze our hero. He runs on zero sleep and gallons of coffee. If only!

There are actually people in this world who only need 4 hours of sleep. These people astound me. I envy them. All the things I could do with the extra time. I once knew someone like that. She’d fall asleep around midnight and wake up at 4am refreshed. She didn’t have work until 8am and would use the free time to teach herself coding.

Lately, I’ve been drinking way too much coffee. It’s not healthy and I’m trying to lay off. I’d usually drink it to stimulate my mind which helps me to write. But then, I’d have difficulty sleeping and would wake up all groggy. Not fun. Coffee and Cigarettes. The addictions of the world.

Tonight, instead of writing. I’m on here shooting blanks. The idea of coffee is a deadly temptation.

Fake It Til You Make It

keenu

Recently, I went to a Writers Conference and pitched my book to 2 editors and 2 publishers. 3 of them liked my pitch so well they invited me to send them an email. That was two weeks ago and I still haven’t sent them a single email. You can look at me in shock and wonder why I haven’t jumped furiously at such an amazing opportunity. I mean, I have 3 people interested in publishing my book!

The reason for my procrastination is simple. My book isn’t done.

I’ve been telling people that, yes, my book is indeed finished. The editors didn’t ask if my book was finished. They’d just assumed. For if they’d asked, I would have looked them in the eye and said No. For months, I’ve been saying, “Yes, my book is done. I just need to retweak some things.” Well, I’ve been retweaking a lot. And recently I’ve made some startling discoveries.

I discovered my main character is really my secondary character and my second character is really my main. I’m redoing my book. Not rewriting the entire thing completely from scratch. HAHA. No. That’d be insane. But I’m pretty nearly doing that. I’m rewriting a shit load of it. I’d say 70%.

I know, this time, my book is perfect. The idea and plot are solid. I’ve pitched my book to many friends, people I don’t know, and colleagues and have gotten great feedback. Everyone likes the idea. I discovered my audience can better connect with my secondary character than my originally main character. I discovered a whole new world with my secondary character who is now my main.

But… I still need to send my stuff to the editors. I won’t finish my book in a week. That’s a ludicrous hope. The editors wanted the first three chapters of my book. Done. To perfection, I might add. They wanted a synopsis as well. Not done. To imperfection. Terrible. The Synopsis.

I have the main idea and bare bones of my book down. I know exactly what it’s about, who all the main playing characters, the in’s-and-out’s of the plot, and how it’s going to end. The part I don’t have are the holes in between. There some spots I’m still trying to sort through and figure out. Which makes writing a synopsis a little difficult. I can’t tell any editor about my book if I don’t know Everything about it.

I’ve sat down and plotted out main ideas and what I want to happen. But I know that I won’t figure everything out until I sit down and actually start writing. Because that’s how I figure things out. I usually outline my book very simply then fill in and connect the dots as I write. This time, though, I’m trying to write a synopsis before I even start writing. I have the damn synopsis started but then it reaches a certain point and stops. It’s as if I’ve come to a cliff. I can see just beyond the cliff to the other side but I can’t see how to cross the cliff.

Since I know I won’t be able to figure everything out in a week, I’ve decided to bullshit it. I’m going to write a synopsis and try to keep it somewhat close to what I want my book to be about. The rest… I’ll make up. The editors won’t see my stuff until three months later because they’re extremely busy. Meanwhile during that time, I’ll be writing and figuring out my book. When they finally do get back to me, I’ll hopefully have a concise and clear understanding of my story. I’ll write a new synopsis and send them it with a note saying I’ve changed my story a bit.

I’m sure others have been in the same predicament I’m currently in. I’ve been told countless times not to approach a publisher/editor unless my book is finished. But I did it anyways. Sometimes you’ve got to fake it until you make it. I’m going to cross my fingers and hope all goes well.

Crazy Storm and Then There’s the Book…

cat-on-typewriter

I haven’t blogged in a while because I’ve been quite busy. I didn’t want to get on here tonight and start writing because I don’t quite feel like I have much to say. My book is still in the works and will be for a long time. Long time as in between 6 months to a year. I was so hoping to be published by now, but there is so much I have to do to it. I know what you’re thinking… “Geez girl! Get your stuff together.” And you’re absolutely right.

I haven’t gotten much done this month. My life currently has plunged into a tornado obstacles. There’s been so much happening that I’ve found it hard to focus. I put an hour here and there for editing and rewriting but I don’t feel as accomplished as I’d like. Note to everyone: Don’t get a life.

Lately, I’ve been wishing I could take a week off from work and life and lock myself in a closet to finish this book. But that won’t work. I’ve going over the chapters again, deleting some things, adding some stuff. I’m hoping to be done in 6 months. That would be nice. I wanted to be done two months ago… but, pah! In the literary world, things are never for sure.

One reason for it taking so long to finish is the major changes I’ve made. For one, I’ve discovered my main character is really my secondary and my secondary character is actually my main. Think about that! I’ve discovered that some characters actually had relationships with each other. I’ve learned the plot does thicken and the game is afoot. If I could go back to the very beginning, I’d tell myself to OUTLINE. I really wish I’d done it.

At times, my book feels like it’s in shambles. At other times, I’m in need of a drink. And not a fruit juice. Something hard. Tonight, I’m retweeking a chapter and adding some more bacon to the plate. Most people like bacon, right? Anyways, I just wanted to give an update anybody who’s actually cares to read my crazy ramblings.

Pitch Writing Does Get Easier

literary-agents-slushpile

Writing pitches and summaries for your book does get easier the more you do it.

I just thought I should let you know that since nobody seems to be noticing.

I hate pitch writing. Every writer hates pitch writing. I’ve never heard anyone say “I LOVE IT”. There are probably one person out there. One crazy person out who gets excited when it’s time to write a pitch. If I knew them, I’d pay them to do mine.

WDCE-PitchSlam-small-575x373

But I have to say, writing pitches does get easier. I’m going to be attending a writers conference in less than a month and I will be presenting my book to publishers. All through June, ever since I bought the tickets, I knew I had to write that dreaded pitch. I was nail biting over it. I thought of so many excuses why I couldn’t at the moment sit down and work on it. The chair was too uncomfortable. I was too sleepy and there wasn’t any coffee. I was hungry. I didn’t feel like it. The room wasn’t too dark. Blah, blah.

I put it off until finally a few days ago when I realized the conference was slowly creeping up on me. I forced myself to sit down and just do it. And… To my surprise I found it not that difficult. I’ve written and struggled through pitches and summaries for my book in the past. I also had a clearer understanding of my book than I did before. I’d been outlining the chapters and reviewing my chapters.

I don’t believe practice makes perfect. I believe practice makes permanent. Whoever was the first to say that should get a gold star. Keep that in mind when you write your pitches and book summary. It’s hard to get it right if you’re always doing it wrong. I’m going to give you a guideline here or tell you how to do it. That’s what Google is for. I just wanted to share my experience and tell you everything will be okay. It does get easier.

A few tips I would give are:
1) Step back. You know everything about your book inside and out. You know it’s veins. The arteries. Organs. Heart. And that’s a major problem. Because now you can’t see the bigger picture. You need to zoom out. Step waaayy back and take another look.
2) Outline. I can’t stress how important this is. If you haven’t already done it. DO IT NOW. It’s the only way you’ll be able to see the bigger picture of your book.
3) Visualize. Map out your book on paper or in your head as images. Watch it as a movie or TV. Try getting a different angle or perspective on it.
4) And Just do it. Nike is right. Write. It doesn’t have to be good. It can be terrible, terrible shit. So bad it stinks from miles away. Just start writing and don’t stop. You’ll eventually get there.
5) Take a break and exercise. I find being active helps get your creative juices flowing and unblocks all that pressure and stress inside your mind.
6) Take a moment and reflect. You don’t have to meditate but just sit back and allow your mind to unwind. You’ll find that ideas will come easier to you. Even some that you’d never think of.
7) Read material that you want to write like. If you want to right a summary or pitch like the ones on the back of novels, start reading the summaries on the back of novels. Monkey see. Monkey do.