Books Of Change

it's all about the stories

Around the time I posted chapter 51 of A Study In Magic, I started writing an original novel. Numerous drafts, as many plot changes, and a few nervous breakdowns later, I finished “MEMORY CHASERS“. It’s about my original characters, Robert and Jacqueline’s (weird) children, particularly their son Erik, who, due to terrible circumstances, lived without knowing magic until they became adults. How much can Erik learn without a Hogwarts?

Memory Chasers

When Erik was a child, he played make-believe and wrote letters to J.K. Rowling, asking her how he can find Hogwarts. Then he grew up, became responsible … and discovered he is a wizard.

A Study In Magic, Chapter Twelve Postmortem

I write this at my parents place, on a tablet. So apologies in advance if the post looks wonky.

Chapter Twelve, of A Study In Magic: The Application is now available in FFNET. I’ve title it: Snape’s Uneasy Understanding. Writing from Snape’s POV is always fun, and this chapter had plenty of such moments. Especially when Snape and John started texting each other again.

Characterization and Plot
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Snape and Werewolves

Severus Snape; the most intriguing character of HP

Snape POV is back in A Study In Magic! High time, too. I missed writing from his perspective. I’ve read it somewhere Snape is one of the best characters J.K. Rowling created. I agree. I don’t like him; if I ever met him in Real Life™, I’d find him too similar to me and hate his guts. But as a character, he is the most interesting.

That said, it’s odd to write about werewolves from Snape’s perspective.

There are so many things I wish to cover for A Study In Magic. Werewolves weren’t one of them, actually, but my fondness for Remus Lupin steered the plot that way. And the more I thought about Lupin and his struggle over Lycanthropy, the more interesting turns did my thoughts take.

Werewolf Curse and the AIDS epidemic

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What I’m Reading Now: Two Fantasies and Particle Physics

“Two Fantasies and Particle Physics” is not the title of a real book, though it should be. You also shouldn’t listen to me because my titles suck.

I read this two months ago. A Biography of Cancer indeed!

I’ve put down 1600 usable words for ASIM, chapter 11. I’m looking forward to typing another 2000 words of John opening a werewolf treatment center in 221C and running the first international clinical trial for transfusion therapy. I giggle when I imagine John and Robert, both surgeons, grumbling about needing to dust off their oncology textbooks because they need a marker that shows the werewolf curse is gone-gone; something akin to the choriogonadotropin hormone levels (hcg) for choriocarcinoma, a cancer of the placenta.

You just never know what will inspire you when you write. The Emperor of All Maladies, case in point. I borrowed it two months ago and spent all my waking hours reading it for five days. Only now I connected choriocarcinoma with werewolf curses. It’s a beautifully written book, by the way. You shouldn’t let the subject or length stop you from reading it.  Continue reading

A Study In Magic, Chapter 10 Postmortem

Attention, Chapter Ten: Mr. Lestrade’s Most Productive Day of A Study In Magic: The Application is up! Yes, it took two months! I acknowledge the title could be better! I will also submit to any ear-boxing for taking so long!

At the risk of sounding like a creaky wheel, I want to state for the record writing this chapter was bloody agony. I never discarded so many drafts as this one. Last I checked, I had twenty plus drafts — for each scene! The only thing that survived from the first draft was the POV. It was Lestrade or bust. Continue reading

What I’m Reading Now: The Mistletoe Murder: And Other Stories

I have a thing for short detective stories. The Golden Era of detective fiction is rife with shorts stories. Greats like Sherlock Holmes, Father Brown, Arsene Lupin, Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple … I love them all. Detective fiction these days are full-length novels, and I enjoy them, but at the end of the day, I long for the old shorts. So I was delighted to find detective short stories from a more contemporary author.

an unexpected good find

P.D. James has Canon Doyles’ mastery of short story and vivid description. Her uncanny observation of humanity gripped me. The humor was great, too. Here is a paraphrase from The Twelve Clues of Christmas, starring Adam Dalgleish:

“You would think people regularly commit suicides over holidays.”

“East Anglians are a robust stock. They come close, but they resist somehow.”

The sly meta comments induced chuckles. For example: “The library, that most fatal room in popular British fiction.” Anyone who read Agatha Christie will enjoy that.

The mysteries themselves are simple, but not obvious — like all good mysteries should be. Seasoned mystery readers might find the length too short. The whole book is snack size, but it is delightful entertainment.

I’ve checked out two books by P.D. James since finishing The Mistletoe Murders because I wanted to read more Adam Dalgleish. I’m reading The Lighthouse at the moment. I approve the first chapter. The ones that follow are decent. I’m at the point where the victim is found dead — hanging on the titular lighthouse. So far, so good. I’m looking forward to reading the rest.

Taking Care of the Mind Through Exercise: Does Strength Training Help?

In a previous post, I said I wanted to test if physical exercise improves my mind, hence writing. My tests are by no means scientific. For starters, the subject is only me. Also, I haven’t settled on what measures indicate “writing improved”. But in the meantime, I figured I could get my body ready for exercise.

The Challenges

Self-experiments like these, you have to do it for at least a year to gather good data. Or better, multiple years. That takes grit. Have I mentioned that I’m physically lazy and yearn to be a disembodied brain? I’m not unhealthy, but I’m no athlete. The only thing I’ve got going is my curiosity and need to test things.

To make things easier for me, I concentrated on two areas: cardio and strength. In plainer English: I ran and lifted barbells. Yes, I ignored flexibility, except to always stretch after a workout. For running, I did a lot of 5ks and 10ks. For strength, I chose the stronglifts  program because,

  1. focuses on increasing max strength
  2. involves only five exercises
  3. I can get away with doing only two workouts a week.

Today I’m going to talk about the strength training results:
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