Required Reading – The Rants: Dracula by Bram Stoker

Required Reading- The Rants - Dracula

Y’all, I was into vampires in high school and college. Well, into a lot of fantasy and paranormal stuff, really, but I really enjoyed vampires in particular. I ended up taking a class called Vampires and Voodoo when I was a freshman in college, which no one believes, but it actually ended up being a lot of fun.

Despite all that, I hadn’t ever read the granddaddy of vampire literature: Dracula by Bram Stoker. I’d seen the 1992 movie, which I rather like, but I’d never made the time to read the book.

Now that I have, I can honestly say I almost wish I hadn’t.

A Classic I Loathe:
Dracula by Bram Stoker

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Required Reading, Part Two: The Rants

required reading, rants, classic books we didn't enjoy, rabid rainbow ferret society

We’ve talked about the classic novels that we loved, the ones that made the “required reading” portion of our school careers not quite so bad (or the ones that we sought out before they had to be required).

Now it’s time for part two: the rants. These are the books we hated, the ones that it was torture to try and finish reading, the ones that made us all feel Dorothy Parker’s famous quote on a deep and spiritual level: “This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.”

We’ll also touch on the so-called classics that we haven’t read, but based on evidence and feedback from friends, we never, ever want to.

We’ll be flinging around some seriously uncontrolled rage for the next few weeks. And feel free to share with us some of the classics that you absolutely hated being forced into reading.

The Ferret Libraries – Michelle’s Collection

This particular Ferret series came at a fairly opportune time for me. I live with two other avid readers, and to say that we like to collect books is like saying the ocean’s a little wet on a good day.

This is what they used to look like:

The first one is our shared bookshelf in the living room, which was packed full of…well, just about everything. Most of the shelves were two stacks deep of books or DVDs, and really, the two in my room weren’t much better, as you can see. I had a method to the madness at one point, but between my grandmother giving me 13 bags (!!) of books, a visit to RT in 2015, and numerous book gifts, this was what I ended up with.

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required reading the raves, required reading, fictional ferrets, rabid rainbow ferret society, classic books, book recommendation, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen, Michelle Pierce

Required Reading – The Raves: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

I read Pride and Prejudice for the first time because of the 2005 movie. It was one of the classics I’d missed during high school, and I’d never bothered to pick it up because I figured it would be similar to Wuthering Heights (which, by all accounts, sounded like something that would drive me crazy to try and read) or Rebecca (which was good, but depressing).

However, I watched the movie because it had been nominated for an Oscar and I was trying to watch all the Oscar-nominated movies before the awards were given out. And I was stunned by how much I loved it. The next time I was at the used bookstore, I found a copy of Pride and Prejudice, and I immediately picked it up.

And I’m glad I did, because it made Jane Austen one of my favorite writers.

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Required Reading, Part One: The Raves

Required reading.

These two words struck fear in the hearts of students everywhere, even those who actually enjoyed reading. The surest way to make someone hate a book, of course, was to force them to read it. I imagine there are people who would hold a grudge against the Discworld series if it had been shoved down their throats like Shakespeare.

But not all the classics were bad. Some of us sought them out on our own out of curiosity, while others were surprised when the required reading was actually interesting and enjoyable. And for some of us, those literary classics became personal favorites as well.

In this series, we Ferrets will be talking about the classic books that we sought out, that surprised us, that made us fall in love with them. And we’ll also be talking about the ones we haven’t yet read, but really, really want to.

So come and join us for the next few weeks while we happily rave about some classic books that we absolutely adore, and share with us some of your own!

The Writer’s Pursuit of Health – Writing and Working Out

The Writer's Pursuit of Health, Writing and Working Out, Michelle Pierce, Rabid Rainbow Ferret Society, health, writing, exercise

About four years ago, I came to the conclusion that I really, really needed to start exercising. I’m a web developer, so I sit in front of a computer all day. And then I like to write, so I sit in front of my computer all night. I knew it wasn’t healthy for me to be stationary all day, I knew I wasn’t eating as well as I should’ve, and so finally I hit the moment that was “I have to do something about this.”

It wasn’t like something big or horrible happened. It was just the slow realization that if I continued as I was, in a few years, I wouldn’t be very happy with how I looked or how I felt, and my risks for a number of diseases that run in my family would skyrocket. And the longer it took me to get started on a healthier lifestyle, the harder it would be for me to stick with it when I finally got there.

For years I’d had a goal like “lose 10 pounds” or whatever as one of my New Year’s resolutions, and for years, I’d never hit it. That year, I switched it up to “work out at LEAST 3 days a week.” I figured I would see if I could stick to a 3-day-a-week plan, and if so, I’d bump it up to 5 days for the next year. Even if I didn’t lose any weight, at least I would be building the habit of being active on a regular basis, and that could only be good, right?

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Are You Going to Camp? (Camp NaNo, That Is!)

Have you wanted to try National Novel Writing Month, but honestly the idea of trying to write a novel in November just seems too overwhelming with all the holidays?

Or you’d like to try it, but the 50,000 word mark seems impossible to hit for someone who writes primarily short things?

Or do you just miss the word count goals, tracking, and overall productivity and encouragement from NaNo?

Then it might be time to give Camp NaNoWriMo a try.

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off-balancing act, creative balance, healthy boundaries, fictional ferrets, rabid rainbow ferret society, writing, writers, advice for writers

The Off-Balancing Act: All or Nothing

I think it’s somewhat appropriate that I’m writing this blog post from the backseat of my roommates’ car as we head out for a weeklong work trip. I could have written it this past weekend. I should have. Instead, I spent this weekend furiously finishing up a novel I’ve been working on since November 2014. I couldn’t do anything else until I typed “the end,” which I finally did Sunday afternoon.

This isn’t the first time other things have gotten pushed by the wayside when I work on writing. It probably isn’t even the hundredth.

When I’m writing, I’m writing, and I’m fairly terrible about doing anything else beyond what I absolutely have to. I tend to stay in rather than go out. I go longer between answering texts, I make even fewer calls than I normally do, and my email response time rapidly decreases. Basically, I become a writing hermit.

And then there are the times when I’m not writing, when I’m taking a break between projects or letting a draft cool off before I hop back into editing mode. This is when I take the time to bake bread and cookies, to read books, to write reviews, to critique stories for friends, to actually interact with people like a normal human being.

There isn’t any balance. There aren’t even baby steps. There’s just all or nothing.

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Dealbreakers: What Makes You Quit a Book?

I think we’ve all got those dealbreakers, those things that a story can do that will make us drop it like a hot potato. These vary from person to person, and what wrecks a story for one person will be something another can let slide. Some people will finish a book no matter how much they hate it; others won’t give it more than a few pages before they toss it into the “did not finish” pile and move on to something else.

I used to be in the camp of “finish the book no matter what,” but in the past 5 years or so, I’ve come to the conclusion that life’s too short to read books I don’t like.

Here’s what tends to throw me out of a story:

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New Fears – The Evolution of a Writer: The Middle Years

Being a writer—being in any kind of creative pursuit, honestly—is an exercise in dealing with fear and doubt. Constantly struggling against that little voice inside your head that says “You can’t do this. Why are you even trying?”

And the fears don’t end as you progress down your creative path. With every fear and doubt you face and overcome, there’s a new one waiting just around the corner, ready to rear its ugly head and set you right back to where you started.

For some reason, I thought getting past the early stages of my writing career would mean getting over my fears. I no longer worry about finishing stories; I know I have what it takes to complete multiple drafts of the same novel. I no longer fear my writing isn’t good enough; I’ve had too many people (both amateur and professional) tell me that I’m a strong writer.

But the middle years have brought a new set of fears, ones I didn’t think I’d have to deal with when I was starting out.

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