Monthly Archives: April 2012

Book 14: The Ultimate Vegan Guide by Erik Marcus

Just a bit of background on me first: the first time I became a vegetarian was the last month of my freshman year of college. I took a nutrition class that fulfilled my environmental science requirement, and I learned about how terrible meat production was for the environment. It takes 5 pounds of grain to produce 1 pound of meat, and 2,400 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of meat. There were many other facts that I knew back then, and I decided to stop eating meat. I lasted for a year before I met my boyfriend. His parents didn’t invite me over as much because I was a pain to cook for, so I stopped being a vegetarian.

Fast forward to the beginning of April. I was looking for ideas that my characters could fight about, and someone on the Script Frenzy forums mentioned that she was a vegetarian and gets made fun of for it. I realized that that was a great thing that my character could be, so I decided to make my main character, Adelyn, a vegetarian. I decided to look up some facts for Adelyn to mention when she gets made fun of, and that’s how I ended up on the PETA website. I ended up watching a terrible video on the de-horning of cows, and I almost cried. I looked up more facts (though no more videos – the horrible pictures were enough), and I decided to become a vegetarian. My plan is to become a full vegan, but I’m doing it in stages. Right now I’m focusing on making as many vegan meals as possible while I read as much as I can about the lifestyle. This was one of the first books I read:

Title: The Ultimate Vegan Guide: Compassionate Living without Sacrifice
Author: Erik Marcus
Page Count: 186
F/NF Non Fiction
Genre Health/

Rating: 10/10

Summary:
A short, easy-to-read guide to becoming a vegan. The book opens with several different reasons to become a vegan and then lists various tips and tricks to becoming and staying vegan. He lists places to go shopping, restaurants where you can get vegan-friendly food, and tips on how to get yourself in the right mindset to stick with your commitment to become vegan, even when it starts to seem too hard.

Opinion:
To be honest, I was a bit worried when I started this book. Marcus starts by talking about multiple reasons to become a vegan, though he points out that the “it’s healthy” and “it’s better for the environment” reasons aren’t as black and white as most people think. He acknowledges that you can be healthy and an environmentalist and still eat meat. While I think that makes him more credible to people who are reluctant about this lifestyle (like my boyfriend), it made me feel a little like he was trying to talk me out of being a vegan.

And then he started talking about the cruelty to animals reason, and I felt like I was justified in my decision again. I read this book quickly, and it definitely made me feel more excited about becoming a vegan. I thought the best part was that he didn’t try to make me feel guilty about the fact that I wasn’t ready to give up all animal products just yet. Instead, he provided tips on how to slowly wean yourself off of them. He also provides links to many other sites and lists many other books that provide interesting information. I highly recommend this book for everyone who has ever considered going vegetarian or vegan.

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Book 13: Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James

Title: Fifty Shades of Grey

Author: E. L. James

Page Count: 528

F/NF Fiction

Genre Romance/erotic

Rating: 7/10

Summary: When her best friend falls ill, Anastasia Steele agrees to take her place interviewing the extremely wealthy Christian Grey for their college paper. Soon, she is drawn to the myserious man, and despite his warnings to stay away, she finds herself entering into a strange relationship with the man, a sort of relationship that she never could have imagined. Will she be able to make the transition into a BDSM lifestyle, or will she find it all too much to bear?

Opinion: As someone who strives to please people and likes to be given clear instructions on what to do, I have always been intrigued by the BDSM lifestyle. The Story of Em, which I started writing for 50k weekend, follows a similar storyline to the one found in Fifty Shades, which is part of why I was so drawn to this story. I wanted to see how similar it was to my own story.

First, the positives of this novel: I found the overall plot intriguing. Ana is thrown into this world, and she doesn’t immediately give into what he wants her to do. She thinks things through and stands up for what she wants. I found her very relatable in certain aspects – although I’m way more submissive than she is, so I couldn’t really understand some of her decisions. The book was easy to read, and I think it did a good job of showing that BDSM isn’t about forcing people to do things; it’s all about consent, which is something that I think most people miss when they see the whips and chains that are often involved. I found myself not wanting to stop reading, and now that I’m done with the first book, I really want to continue the series.

That said, I don’t really want to pay $10 to read the second novel. As other reviewers have pointed out, Ana constantly refers to her “inner goddess,” and it gets to be quite annoying after the fiftieth mention. Also, I find the endearment “baby” to be quite nauseating, so the fact that that was his main term of endearment for her got to me. I realize that I’m probably alone in this opinion, but I thought I’d mention it anyway.

I have also learned that this novel started out as a Twilight fan fiction, and my opinion of it and the author has declined dramatically since then. I don’t really think Ana is a Bella substitute (since she has thoughts and voices her opinions and doesn’t let Christian get away with everything), but I definitely see some similaries. For instance, both Edward and Christian warn the women in their lives to stay away at first, but are drawn to them for reasons they can’t explain. Both Ana and Bella are incredibly clumsly, and both are asked to put their boyfriends’ feelings and needs before their own. Also, both are set primarily in Washington. That said, I feel Ana is more of a real character than Bella is, and I didn’t find the whole story as infuriating as I found the Twilight series.

That’s not to say that this novel was without its faults, though. My own novel focused on a young woman’s journey into the BDSM lifestyle, but it’s supposed to show that that’s a perfectly reasonable lifestyle to choose, and she eventually realizes that she can be a strong, independent woman and still make the choice to be a submissive. This novel, on the other hand, seems to focus on how this is a crazy lifestyle that only people with troubled pasts choose. We don’t fully understand what all has happened to Christian, but we know that he hates to be touched and had a very bad life the first few years of his life, and that he has always felt out of place with his “perfect” adoptive family. He turned to this lifestyle after having an affair with a married woman when he was 15 because this was the only type of “love” that he found “acceptable.”

I did a lot of reading for my feminist film class in college about these issues when we watched the movie Secretary. The readings all took issue with the idea that only sick individuals would choose such a lifestyle, and I imagine that they would take the same issue with this novel. While I have already said that the book makes it quite clear that this is a consenting relationship where the submissive holds the real power, Ana’s aversion to the entire lifestyle and her frequent references to him early on as a monster imply something else.

Overall, I found the book an interested read, and I would read the next two in the series if I found them for little to no money. For anyone who’s ever been at all interested in alternative lifestyles, this one might be a decent read. For someone looking for serious literature, though, I would look elsewhere.

“Something’s scratching its way out…”

It’s the first day of April, which means that it’s the first day of Script Frenzy! The minimum daily page count this month is 3.3. I’m already at 11 pages, and I still have almost nine hours left today to write. Granted, that’s only about 2,000 words, but that’s still more than I’ve written in about two weeks, so I’m going to be excited about this.

I think I just need to take a break from The Story of Em and Natalie. The latter was started on a whim (and was really just supposed to be a short story), and the former was meant to be my 50k-weekend novel. I never really thought it would take me this long to write it, and now that I’ve thought about it some more, I’m not really sure I’m qualified to write about that sort of relationship. Maybe I’ll return to those stories eventually, but for now I have too many other ideas that actually interest me, so I’m going to focus on them.

My screenplay this month is titled Degeneration. It follows 17-year-old Adelyn Carter as she tries to survive her favorite aunt’s wedding and decide which college she will attend the following fall. I wrote this story for my first Screnzy back in 2008, but I wasn’t happy with the draft at all. I’m hoping a complete rewrite will help me figure out where I want this story to go.

So far I’ve written the first scene, which was really all I had planned on writing today. I was hoping to hit the minimum word count last night and finish the scene at our write-in this afternoon, but I got lucky and got lost in the scene last night and ended up writing ten pages in the first hour of Screnzy. 1572 words an hour is terribly slow compared to my NaNo average (which I got up to 3k in 45 minutes once), but I’ll take it.

My new goal is to write 30,000 word in April, which comes to 1,000 words a day. I highly doubt my screenplay will be that long (at my current rate it will come to about 15,000 words), but I’m determined to keep writing. Maybe I’ll write a few short stories to make up the difference or something. I haven’t decided yet. All I know is that I’ve taken some time off from my writing goals, and now it’s time to get focused again. Work is going to start cutting back (in fact, aside from a 3 hour meeting tomorrow morning I’m off all week), and now I can finally concentrate on what really matters to me: writing. I’ve been thinking about different novel ideas a lot recently, and it’s time for me to start getting them down on paper.

In other semi-related news, the Script Frenzy kickoff party went well yesterday. We had 8 people total instead of the 12 that I expected, which means that I really didn’t need to make 15 goodie bags, but otherwise it was a lot of fun. The other ML, my boyfriend, and another participant we hang out with a lot got there early and tried to hold a few tables. We ended up playing a few plot games (including one that lead to several interesting plot ideas, such as “Babe meets Citizen Cane,” “Hunger Games meets Lifetime Original Movie” and “Arrested Development meets PBS Documentary”), and we got to know a few of the participants. One of those people is also at our first write-in of the month, which is exciting. We had absolutely zero regional events last Screnzy, and I’m hoping we can start building participation again. I know Screnzy will never be as big as NaNo, but hopefully we can still make it fun.

And now that I’ve finally updated this blog after a far too long absence, it’s time for me to get back to my screenplay. I’m hoping I can finish the next scene today, the one where Adelyn learns she has to go to her aunt’s wedding. There will be lots of screaming and protesting. I’m looking forward to it already. 😀