A.D.M. Was Here: Benelux and Strasbourg (and a Mugging!)

Some building in Brussels.

Some building in Brussels.

On some weekends while studying in London, I made excursions out of the UK to go to other parts of Europe. Sometimes, I went on unofficial trips alone or with classmates and, other times, the class would go on a sort of field trip together. These class trips included Benelux (Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg) and Strasbourg.

King’s Cross and the Eurostar

As I mentioned in an older post, I was staying in a flat near King’s Cross (which I’d only heard of beforehand thanks to Harry Potter). It was about a ten minute walk away, across the street from the local Burger King and McDonald’s (and, I think, a Pret a Manger).

Nearly our entire class of law students were to take a train from London to continental Europe. I lazily assumed that meant we were leaving from King’s Cross and walked there dangerously close to the departure time only to learn that the Eurostar train didn’t leave from King’s Cross, but from St. Pancras. Though the two stations were literally across the street from one another, it feels super far when you’re late for your train.

Hustling over there, I got to the Eurostar security check and saw substantial lines of people waiting to get through. Talking to a Eurostar employee, I told her about my dilemma and she unexpectedly ushered me through security to get me to my train. I essentially cut in front of dozens of people who arrived to the station on time, making me feel both like a jerk and kind of like a boss at the same time (the theme for this post is me feeling like a jerk).

A glimpse of Brusels, then Luxembourg and the American Military Cemetary

Street in Brussels.

Street in Brussels.

An underwater train and a long bus ride later, we arrived in Brussels for a walking tour. The guide told us a bunch of stuff which I no longer remember, though she pointed out some nice places to get chocolate, restaurants specializing in mussels, and government buildings. Then, they packed us back into the bus and shipped us off to Luxembourg.

Judging from the fact that I have this photo of a Luxembourg hotel in the middle of the night, I think we stayed in Luxembourg. I don’t recall anything interesting happening that night, though I assume I drank with some classmates. Actually, this might have been the place where my classmate spilled red wine on the hotel couch.

Ho Hotel in Luxembourg

“Four Star Ho—” Yeah . . . sorry.

Luxembourg

Luxembourg is pretty.

The next day, we were given a tour of the city, and brought to the Luxembourg American Military Cemetary where many World War II U.S. soldiers were buried (if I recall correctly, many of the bodies were eventually moved to the U.S.). It’s always a little heartbreaking seeing the grave of an unknown soldier.

Unknown Soldier Luxembourg

“Here rests in honored glory / a Comrade in arms / known but to God.”

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Help Mah! Looking for Beta Readers for MS #1

Beta Readers Wanted - A.D. MartinUpdate 2/26: Not currently looking for any more beta readers at this time. Feel free to keep in touch, though. I’ll inevitably need more beta readers in the future.

Hello Dorks and Non-dorks (you know who you are),

I’m looking for more beta readers to give me feedback on my novel, Remnant of Us, and help me make draft fourteen as awesome as possible before I send out one last set of query letters. Yeah, I’m finally publicly revealing the title to my manuscript which I’ve had for months, and also releasing a little blurb about it over on my My Novels page (feel free to send me politely worded emails with feedback on the blurb).

Preferably, beta readers are those who: already enjoy the genre; can give me substantial feedback about the plot, pacing, and feasibility in my novel; and has enough free time or reads fast enough to get back to me within two weeks or less (but, I’m flexible on the time). If you’re interested in beta reading Remnant of Us, let me know by email through admartinwriting[at]gmail.com (replacing the [at] with @), or my twitter account @AD_Martin_ (in which case, you’d have to provide an email for me to correspond with). If you can, please provide a little background information about yourself and the kinds of books, TV shows, or films you enjoy, and how quickly you think you can read a 76,000 word manuscript.

Thanks,

A.D. Martin

Just earlier today, I noticed a writer whose blog I follow ask for beta reader volunteers from her blogging/Twitter network and it seemed like a great idea. So, here were are.

Symbolism in Novels . . . Sort of Accidental

Double Rainbow What Does This MeanA while ago, I came across across an article on Mental Floss (fairly old news now) about how a teenage Bruce McAllister sent letters to famous authors in 1963 to ask whether they consciously (or subconsciously) placed symbolism into their writing and other related questions. The answers varied a bit, some are pretty funny on their own and others are hilarious given the contrast between the authors’ responses. Then, there’s also some useful information.

Back in my K12 years, I had thoughts similar to McAllister’s about symbolism in my reading assignments at school. One recurring thought I had was, “This is horse crap” (well, not those exact words). It wasn’t that I thought authors never intended certain symbols, or that they never created symbols by accident. I assumed that happened quite often. However, I remember my teacher(s) trying to sell me very vague and unlikely symbols (I also recall pulling symbols out of my ass and my teacher(s) agreeing with me about it). So, like McAllister, I wondered about whether these authors intended all the symbols that academics draw from their work.

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Here Comes Draft Thirteen – Editing, Querying, and… Indie-ing

Editingso much editing.

Captain Hindsight on Editing Your Novel

Thank you, Captain Hindsight!

I began my blog seven months ago while working on draft six of my novel.

Since then, I’ve made so many major revisions to this manuscript that it’s nearly unrecognizable from its earlier versions. If not for the names of the protagonists, draft one and draft twelve might seem like they’re set in entirely different worlds. Place names and supporting character names have changed drastically, the structure of the plot has been broken down and pieced back together in so many different ways, and the overall pacing of the novel has (supposedly) been improved to read faster from beginning to end with a surge of adrenaline near the climax.

The process of editing this novel is already many times longer than writing the initial draft and that’s how it should be (I’ll say it again, a novel simply cannot be “finished” until it’s been edited, repeatedly—first, for plot structure, pacing, and feasibility; a focus on grammar, spelling, and typos comes later).

With every round of editing, it was clear that my MS was getting stronger and stronger. However, the feeling that the novel would never be perfect just does not go away. So, my current plan is to go for something “as close to perfect as possible, given a reasonable span of time and amount of effort” (don’t ask me how many years is too long, and how much effort is too much). Continue reading

Horns – Movie Review

Horns Promo Daniel RadcliffeDrugs, alcohol, sex, violence, overt biblical references, and Daniel Racliffe.

I watched Horns (2013) with absolutely no expectations. Somehow, I’d gone without hearing much about the film and didn’t bother checking others’ reviews. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised.

Coincidentally, I’d just watched Bruce Almighty (2003) before watching Horns, so there was a bit of a contrast between the two films: in one, God takes a rather direct hand in helping a protagonist figure out his problems, and in the other, He seemingly has delegated the job to Satan.

In Horns, Ig Perrish (Radcliffe) is suspected by nearly the entire town for the murder of his girlfriend (Juno Temple). Having been on a drunken bender at the time, he’s not quite sure himself whether he did it. Being treated like the devil incarnate, Ig eventually also looks the part when he sprouts horns on his head and finds people confessing their sinful desires to him because of it.

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Most Compelling Seth MacFarlane Thingies

While driving home and listening to “Majestic” by Wax Fang, I started thinking about how much I loved the episode of American Dad! that exposed me to the song. That is to say, I didn’t love it, but I liked it a lot (okay, maybe I loved it). That also led me to start thinking about what may be my favorite episode of Family Guy.

First off, I’ll say that my general assumption is that most people who come across my blog—people who can read—probably aren’t quite as into Seth MacFarlane created works as I am. Secondly, I want to warn people that this post includes some *SPOILERS* of relatively old episodes of American Dad! and Family Guy.

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A Good Hook or a Pile of Cheese?

Tilsit Cheese by John Sullivan - Public Domain Image

Hopping along the interwebs, I’ve seen a lot of agent query hooksthe one or two sentences that’re supposed to grab a literary agent’s attention. A few are good, some are horrible, but most are just okay (and being “just okay” generally won’t get you anywhere).

Keeping in mind that it’s in the nature of fiction to be subjective, I’ve noticed a lot of hooks deemed good by others aren’t particularly pleasing to me. If I were drinking my skinny caramel latte while reading these things, my computer would be in danger of being splattered with coffee, low-fat milk, and artificial flavoring. A lot of these so-called good hooks reek of cheesiness.

And, well, cheese seems to work. Continue reading