Twilight Thursday: Twilight Chapter 5 or Are We There Yet?

…And we’re back! Did you miss me? I bet you did! Now that I think (*crosses fingers*), I have the draft / post issue resolved, this should go a bit more smoothly. Unlike the book.


 

Now that Bella is high on V (shit, wrong vampires), she waltzes into class late. But that’s totally cool because it’s English Lit and she already knows everything there is to know about that class. Duh.

Jessica babbled on and on about her dance plan – Lauren and Angela had asked the other boys and they were all going together – completely unaware of my inattention.

You know when your friend gets a new boy/girlfriend and they’re covered in new relationship smell? Bella has already hit that point and they aren’t even dating yet. Instead of making it look like Minor Characters You Really Aren’t Supposed To Care About 1-3 looking like the lovestruck ones, Bella comes across as the New Relationship Smell chick. No one likes *that* person. She keeps being *that* chick until Minor Character #1 (aka Jessica) slightly moves the plot along by observing that Edward is, once again, staring at her. Starting to get a little creepy there, buddy. As if we hadn’t hit a decent number on the Creep-O-Meter, he one ups himself:

Once he’d caught my eye, he raised one hand and motioned with his index finger for me to join him. As I stared in disbelief, he winked.

I have the mental image of him giving the really awkward over exaggerated wink that may or may not be followed by “Did it hurt when you fell from heaven?”. If only. Vampires are the sex gods of the supernatural world. However, Eddie here skipped seductive entirely and went straight to I’ll need to shower for days level of creepy. Less is more, Steph. Less is more.

“Does he mean you?” Jessica asked with insulting astonishment in her voice.

It’s already been determined that Edward may or may not have a thing for Bella. Bella has all the subtle grace of a shotgun blast in a SmartCar. How, exactly, is Bella inferring that Jessica (who we still aren’t supposed to care about, btw) is surprised to the point of being insulting? Because the world revolves around Bella. You’re welcome, readers, for the clarification.

She goes over to the table, they lack any kind of witty banter or plot advancement for 2 pages or so, then we hit that same tired old note.

“Well, we can try, I suppose. But I’m warning you now that I’m not a good friend for you.” Behind the smile, the warning was real.

“You say that a lot,” I noted…

One point for Bella’s keen observation. Yes, Edward, you’re dangerous. Can we move on please? Like how we’re 90 pages in and still no vampire reveal? Again, if you have to beat the reader over the head with it, you’re doing something wrong. Guess she slept through that class.

I do give points for the third superhero reference during the otherwise dull conversation. Though I’m reasonably certain the Biology teacher’s name wasn’t intentional.

He looked down and then glanced up at me through his long black lashes, his ocher eyes scorching. 

“Please,” he breathed, leaning toward me.

I blinked, my mind going blank. Holy crow, how did he do that?

I’m grateful I wasn’t drinking anything when I read the last line. It would have ended up going out my nose and / or choking me. The 1880s exclamation aside, how did he what? How did he lean? I would assume he leans just like everyone else. It would appear vampires lean differently. Must be all those years of squeezing into a coffin.

Also, boys and girls, “ocher” is the word of the day. Learn it, love it, use it.

It’s not even worth quoting the umpteenth time we’re reminded he’s dangerous. Blah, blah, dangerous, blah, blah, blah, can’t friendzone, blah, blah, what’s that smell?

Finally, things start to get a little interesting. It only took 95 pages. Bella heads to Biology after Edward informs her he’s ditching class again. I suppose one of the perks of being dead is you have this high school shit down pat. What are they doing in Biology, you might ask? Drawing blood! I literally yelled “What the fuck?” at the book. What the hell kind of high school allows students to prick their own fingers and try to blood type themselves? Allegedly, it’s for the upcoming blood drive because it’s super handy to know your blood type going in. Newsflash, the Red Cross does that for you! You don’t need a bunch of 17 year olds stabbing themselves to determine this. I’ll go along with her on the vampires. But I will not suspend my disbelief that any school district that doesn’t want to get sued into the next century would allow this.

Of course, our heroine swoons at the sight of blood. Oh wait, I *totally* get why Edward was ditching class. He knew there would be blood and that would make him a bit peckish. Getting the munchies in class is a bitch. After Bella almost barfs and Minor Character Number Two (aka Mike) half drags her to the nurse’s office, Edward swoops in.

“What’s wrong – is she hurt?” His voice was closer now, and he sounded upset. I wasn’t imagining it. I squeezed my eyes shut, hoping to die. Or, at the very least, not throw up.

Because vomiting and death are so closely related.

Suddenly, the sidewalk disappeared from beneath me. My eyes flew open in shock. Edward had scooped me up in his arms, as easily as if I weighed ten pounds instead of a hundred and ten.

And now it becomes clear why the Forks school district was bordering on negligent. It was so Edward could literally sweep Bella off her feet. ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?! Since she’s such a klutz, how is it that she even made it this far without slicing a body part? Nope, that’s conveniently ignored in favor of sweeping her off her goddamn feet. Now it’s my turn to vomit. Or die. Or both.

Edward arrives on his white steed to the nurse’s office carrying the fainting maiden. Bella explains that the smell of blood bothers her. Edward insists that people can’t smell blood. Yes, humans can, dickhead. Anyone who has ever popped an aggressive zit will attest to that one.

Mike comes back in with another fainter and they go back and forth about the beach trip. Edward smirks about how Mike hates him. Everyone hates you, Edward. Everyone. Bella suddenly remembers she has Gym after this more groaning ensues.

Fainting spells always exhausted me.

I find them strangely invigorating. Who knew?

Edward gets her out of Gym so they can have another asinine conversation while he drives her home. The only thing worth mentioning:

I began to realize we were driving very fast; the car moved so steadily, so evenly, though I didn’t feel the speed. Only the town flashing by gave it away.

Shiny Volvo go fast! Vroom! Vroom!

Then Meyer *has* to loop back around to the child raising the parent trope. Apparently, Bella’s mom is her best friend. Bella has to approve of her stepfather AND has to be the adult in the house. I refer back to Chapter 1 and my suggestion for the use of Forks.

“Do you think I could be scary?” He raised one eyebrow and the faint trace of a smile lightened his face.

I defer to this:

Okay, mostly just the “Ladies” part. You’re welcome.

Finally we hit the home stretch.

“Won’t I see you tomorrow?”

“No. Emmett and I are starting the weekend early.”

“What are you going to do?” A friend could ask that, right? I hoped the disappointment wasn’t too apparent in my voice.

“We’re going to be hiking in the Goat Rocks Wilderness, just south of Ranier.”

I remembered Charlie saying that the Cullens went camping frequently.

Eh, camping, getting takeout, same diff.

Final semicolon count: 9

Number of times I screamed at the book and terrified either Boy or the cat: 3 each

XOXO!

Twilight Thursday: Twilight Chapter 2 or Vampires Do Not Go Up to 11

I have to admit, this chapter was less painful than the first one. Kind of like how the second strip of a bikini wax hurts less than the first one because your brain has already shut down. My brain has probably gone into survival mode already. Positive signs. Anyway…


When we last left our heroes, Bella was driving and crying over how much she hates her life, the rain, and whatever else might make the poor life choice of coming within 10 feet of her. She opens Chapter 2 with this:

The next day was better…and worse.

Do tell, Ms. Swan, do tell. She regales sitting with a large group at lunch, some of whom, she’s deigned to remember their names. Okay, that’s a positive. Then that positive came to a screeching halt. She got called on in class, whacked some kid with a volleyball, and worst of all? Edward cuts school.

But when I walked into the cafeteria with Jessica – trying to keep my eyes from sweeping the place for him, and failing entirely – I saw that his four siblings of sorts were sitting together at the same table, and he was not with them.

Hold on, hold on, let’s back up a minute. She started out sitting with a big group at lunch. Now she’s back in the cafeteria? Or do they have two lunches? If that’s the case, hobbits must run the joint. Ms. Meyer’s prose is as clumsy as her heroine’s extremities. Flashbacks only work if they’re obvious. It wouldn’t have been a huge challenge to start at the beginning of the day. I’m not sure what she was trying to accomplish by establishing Edward and the hair were out gallivanting around town before Bella actually realizes it. And that’s just the content of the sentence.

The sentence construction makes me want to start a utensil fight. Or just stab Bella in the eye. It’s one thing to know the rules and then break them for the sake of character building or narration. This does not qualify. At least it wasn’t in passive voice. Then I really would have to get out the cutlery. Now that we have returned from our unnecessary flashback, it’s time for Biology!

I held my breath at the door, but Edward Cullen wasn’t there, either.

He wasn’t at the door? What is he, the Biology class butler? Though having him hide behind the door and scare the shit out of her would have been hysterical. Oh, wait, she meant he wasn’t in class. Maybe he did get that schedule change after all. The hair was pissed.

After more whining about how a boy may, gasp!, like her, she offers this nugget of exposition:

I had never been enormously tactful; I had no practice dealing with overly friendly boys.

Yeah, duh. You can put the stick down, Stephanie. We get it. She only has eyes for tall, dark, and dead over there. I can’t argue with the lack of tact. Girlfriend has all kinds of issues up in there. We *finally* make it to the end of the school day and Ms. Swan is off to the grocery store because her father can only cook “fried bacon and eggs”. It looks like we’ll make it out of the parking lot safely, right? Oh, no, no my children. Safety is merely an illusion.

I saw the two Cullens and the Hale twins getting into their car. It was the shiny new Volvo. Of course. I hadn’t noticed their clothes before – I’d been too mesmerized by their faces. Now that I looked, it was obvious that they dressed exceptionally well; simply, but in clothes that subtly hinted at designer origins…It seemed excessive for them to have both looks and money. But as far as I could tell, life worked that way most of the time.

Apparently, money buys you a shiny Volvo. Really? Couldn’t it at least be a Lexus? Maybe we could even spring for a Mercedes? Also, it’s implied that it’s a sedan. There are 5 of them. Who cares what they’re wearing. I want to know how they determine who gets shotgun and who gets the bitch (middle in the back) seat. That would be so much more entertaining.

The last sentence is where she really gets me. They’re so pretty! And rich! It’s all too much! I’m going to make wild assumptions about pretty people who dress simply and drive a shiny, moderately priced car! [insert eyeroll here]

When I got home, I unloaded all the groceries, stuffing them wherever I could find open space.

So, if there really isn’t any food in the house other than bacon & eggs, what’s taking up all the space? Dare I ask what’s in the cabinets? No, no, it’s all better if I don’t know. She gets dinner started, goes upstairs to check her email, and has no fewer than 3 messages from her mother. Of course, Mom is freaking out about everything from forgetting a top to Bella not replying to aforementioned emails.

In the spirit of full disclosure, the whole “child raising the parents” trope drives me insane. Mom makes scatterbrained look like a compliment. Dad can’t cook. Bella is responsible for remembering when to pick up dry cleaning from 3 states away and also whipping up a good steak & potatoes. It’s a cheap way to give the teenage protagonist some kind of autonomy. How about this instead? The parents function like actual adults who have raised their child in a where s/he has developed the agency on his/her own. Family dynamics are difficult to navigate when the main character is a child or teenager. Hell, family dynamics are difficult to navigate in real life. I’m much more willing to accept the parent(s) as minor characters. If you *have* to cut the parent(s) out of the picture, kill them in a car accident. If it ain’t broke…

Then, for funsies, she whips out Wuthering Heights as a little light reading. Again, the child makes so much more sense now. Nice to see you again, AnaBella. Over her perfectly cooked meal, her dad makes his positive thoughts known about the band of sexy vampire children. Her response? “They’re all very attractive”. Because that somehow will make the situation better? It’s not like he was ranting at you. Oy. She makes the point that she has to wash the dishes by hand. Perhaps scrubbing the floors or polishing the silver is on the docket for tomorrow night. I think a mouse or two might be looking for some work, too. At least we get a break from every inane detail for the rest of the school week. For the moment, I can put the fork down.

CinderBella spends her weekend cleaning, homework-ing, and talking shit about the local library. The first practical thing she concerns herself with is the gas mileage on the truck. I suppose practically had to butt in sooner or later. And then…

He’s baaaaaack!

I kept my head down and glanced up under my lashes.

As opposed to where? Your spleen?

Finally, he speaks:

“Hello,” said a quiet, musical voice…”My name is Edward Cullen”.

I imagine Edward sounding something like this:

With that in mind, he laughs soft enchanting laughs and we FINALLY get a reason why Bella’s whiny ass (and the rest of her) moved to Forks in the first place. Her mom got remarried. Really? That’s it? I was really hoping my mental institution theory was going to pan out. Bummer. However, the mental institution has an excellent curriculum because she’s “already done this lab” and her teacher infers she was in “advanced placement”. Only if it’s the kind that involves padded walls. A girl can dream.

Through the entire conversation, Edward never simply speaks. He murmurs and mutters through most of it. Of course, fangs can make enunciation a bit of a challenge. They’re also, apparently, a hindrance to speaking at a normal volume. There is also, clearly, no other way to communicate dark and sexy but by mumbling. If I can’t understand you, maybe I missed the fact you just used a really terrible pick up line.

Instead of drinking every time Bella flushes, blushes, or turns some other shade of red, we drink when a semi-colon appears. If you’re reading the source material along with me, I apologize to your liver in advance.


 

Hope everyone enjoyed this week’s commentary and maybe even had a good laugh. I live to serve, faithful readers. Have to start prepping myself for next week. Breathe in, breathe out…

XOXO!

 

Of books and writing good ones

Writing has always been one of my favorite hobbies. Even when I was a kid, I would write stories  based on my favorite books. I’m one of the American Girl generation. When the American Girl of Today dolls were released (now called “Just Like Me”), they came with blank books for you to write their stories. I was all over that. I think I still have it somewhere in my parents’ basement / uber expansive library. When we moved from Virginia to Georgia in the days when the Internet was still a luxury, I wrote a *ton* of poetry. I had no way to connect with my old friends except through physical letters and expensive long distance calls. Kids these days will never understand that *shakes cane*. Writing was the only way I could express my feelings. Going back and reading what my 12 year old self wrote, I was in a deep depression. I just didn’t understand what it was at the time. I met one of my closest friends through blogging *bows head for the passing of Teen Open Diary*. I still kept my creative writing close. I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo a few times. I took a playwriting class in college. I’ve dabbled in longer works. I love creating new characters and seeing what happens to them. Plot has always been a bit of a sticking point for me. I’ve got a whole bunch of characters, but I can’t make them do anything.

I’m a big fan of the Writing Excuses podcast. Across the board, they recommend reading A LOT, ideally in the genre you’re looking to write. Any series with the major architecture of the desired book is fine. After much throwing at the wall and seeing what stuck, I’m looking at a 5 novel collection with each book told from the POV of each major character. I love the idea of a major story arc. That said, I haven’t a clue how to go about it. I put together a list of series I’ve enjoyed with an overarching plot. I’ve also taken suggestions from the audience (Boy). They all have a fantasy element, either traditional or modern. My list currently includes:

1. Harry Potter (duh)

2. NewsFlesh triology by Mira Grant (reread).

3. Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson (new read).

4. Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer ( My “how to write a really crappy series” case study. I only made it halfway through the first one last time. Major Deities help me).

5. The Caster Chronicles by Margaret Stohl & Kami Garcia (reread-ish. I’ve read the first one, but not 2 & 3).

In the spirit of learning more, feel free to jump in with a series, regardless of genre, that’s worth a read. Ideally, it would be a series between 3 and 5 books. I would also prefer books with multiple POVs, but not rehashing the same story just from a different perspective. That said, I’m willing to try pretty much anything.

On that note, back to my coffee and Book 1 of the NewsFlesh trilogy (Feed, if you’re curious).

XOXO!