Boozy Books: The Three Musketeers

Heyo, and welcome to the final Boozy Books of 2016.

Because 2016 is almost over.

Thank the gods.

In the spirit of unification, I thought I’d pull together the ultimate in “all for one, one for all”. Like, the book that started it all. I’m a believer in ‘e pluribus unum’ myself, and I think the ideas behind the Musketeers is something we need a bit more of. That brotherhood. The high ideals at work.

The big ass feathers in our hats.

Did I mention how much I love the menswear of this era? Clothes for women? Not so much. But the men, with their huge hats and boots and even, on occasion, an awesomely curly wig, high heels, and corsets… YES.

I think most of us know what The Three Musketeers is about. D’artagnan, a poor young noblemen, travels to Paris to join the Musketeers, an elite corps of fighters. On the way, however, his leader of recommendation is stolen and he cannot join immediately. He manages, despite not becoming a member, to befriend the three best, most formidable Musketeers of the age: Athos, Porthos, and Aramis. Together, they fight against the villainous Cardinal Richelieu and his henchman, the Comte de Rochefort, as well as the Milady de Winter. It doesn’t end as happily as most of the movies, of course, but that’s because there’s sequels!

Though I don’t much like how those end, either. Of course, that’s what happens when your least favorite character is actually the MAIN character.

Drink this with copious amounts of wine. French, of course, or Spanish if you’re a huge fan of Queen Anne. But don’t try to keep up with the Musketeers… you’ll fail. Badly.

That’s it from me! I hope everyone has an amazing new year and that 2017 isn’t such a nightmare!

C

Monday Muse: Be Willing to Change

Heyo! Welcome to today’s Monday Muse. Let’s get into it.

This year for NaNoWriMo, I started a project that began several months ago with a dream. It was just a couple of scenes from what was expanded to include ley lines, an entire magical AND scientific system called Metageophysics, elements of Brigadoon and Jane Eyre, and a character who insisted she was named Scheherazade but settled for Henrietta if I let her go by Hedy. (And boy did that argument take up weeks.)

I got my 50k done, but was never satisfied with what I was writing. It’s at once bloated and doesn’t begin to cover enough, barely manages to capture the depth of the adoration and devotion Hedy has toward Joel, and gets nothing of the small town politics of Leyton (which I worked SO HARD to research and plan, dammit) so important to the novel. For every word I know I have to cut, I have to add at least one, and there’s a couple of POVs I need to add, too. All in all, this novel is going to end up being somewhere in the 200k range, arguably a bit long for what amounts to a fantasy-light romance.

So, I was thinking… what if the story I’d always thought was meant to be a novel isn’t, in fact, meant to be one, at all? What if there’s another way this story was meant to be told? I mean, I did dream it, didn’t I? Dreams are a visual of sorts. And a camera can be used to show small town politics without devoting a bunch of time to it, letting it linger with a few visual clues playing in the background while the plot moves on. A couple of scenes here and there. No POV limitations to worry about without having to write in omniscient voice (which I very much dislike). More time to show Hedy learning how to manipulate ley energy, become a Meta, do experiments to learn what will save Leyton, etc.

So much more I can do. But also… less. Because I won’t be able to get into Hedy’s head the way I would in a novel. Or Joel’s, whose devastation in part two is very carefully hidden from everyone. Or, hell, even Bobbie’s, whose POV needs to be added because actions she takes and never shares are super important to the novel.

It’s a hard choice. But the mark of a good writer of any salt is being willing to change, to put the story first. I don’t know which way I’ll go — it’s a decision I’ve been pondering for a while now, to the point that I’ve started working on something else while I let the choice percolate away in the back of my head — but I do know it’ll be the right decision when I make it. One list of pros outweighs the other; I just don’t know which one it is, yet. And my story will come into the world the way it’s meant to be.

So, I guess that’s the point of this Muse. Tell your story the way it’s meant to be told. Don’t force it into a shape and keep pounding at it until it fits. And if something feels wrong about it, take the time to figure out what it is before you keep going in the wrong direction. Far too many people believe writing is just putting words on paper and editing them, and that’s just not true. Sometimes writing is thinking, pondering, planning… listening to what your story (and by extension, your brain) is trying to tell you.

Trust me, your story will end up being better if you listen.

C

Happy Chrismahanukwanzaakah!

Hey, guys! You might have noticed we didn’t have any blogs this week. This is definitely because we chose to take the week off for the holidays and not because the week of Christmas is typically pretty hectic for me and audition days are insane for A. Nope. We made the decision together. As one. Like a partnership.

We’re a good team.

Anyway. I wanted to wish all of our readers a happy holiday of choice. Whether it’s Christmas, Hanukkah, Natalis Soli, or Festivus, we here at Nerd Cactus sincerely hope it was a good one for you and yours.

We’ll be back to our regularly scheduled nonsense tomorrow.

Also, enjoy this Shakespeare Christmas Carol from the amazing mind behind Good Tickle Brain (who, I am excited to tell you, is hosting a forum up at Stratford this year).

C

Silly Sunday: Some Silly Shakes

Yeah… I know. Today’s not for Shakespeare. Today’s for silly. But… what if the Shakes itself is silly? WHAT IF?

OK… who cares, I guess. This is silly, so it belongs here. It’s also Shakespeare, so it belongs here. Let’s do it.

First up, some satire that I really, really, REALLY wish were real:

Shakespeare in a Plane

Second, since it’s the holiday season, let’s see what some of Shakespeare’s greatest characters asked Santa to bring them:

Dear Santa, please bring my worthless husband the courage to kill Duncan… or make me a man so I can do it myself. Thank you. -Lady Macbeth (Susan)

Well… I think you should enjoy that. I had a good laugh.

Seriously, though. If someone could maybe get in touch with Air Canada about those Shakespeare productions, that’d be great.

C

Shakespeare Saturday: Stratford 2017!!!

Ok, I know I’m late, but I’m here now and I want you to know I did NOT forget about you! I had two shows today and sang at the after-show cabaret which went right up til midnight. So I was busy, not forgetful. Anyhoo, I wanted to share the casting announcements for Stratford next season, because it just looks incredible. The shows are making it difficult to narrow down what to see and it looks like another incredible season is well in its way.

Follow the link below to find out what Stratford has to offer in the new year!

http://stratfordfestivalreviews.com/blog/2016/10/31/stratford-festival-2017-cast-with-photos/

-A

Boozy Books: The Stupidest Angel

Heyyyyy! Welcome to today’s Boozy Books. It’s me, C, standing in for A while she has amazing times singing like the amazing singer person she is. I’ll keep it brief because… well… I’m not done with my Christmas shopping and I’ve got to hype myself up.

mad-max-fury-road-nux-chroming
I live in SoFla. This is a normal Saturday.

So… let’s go.

Christopher Moore is one of my favorite novelists. To the point that I think I just chose books by him, like, last week. While Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal is my absolute favorite book of his ever written, I figure this time of the year is as good as any to feature Moore’s Christmas novel: The Stupidest Angel. Actually, fun fact: the eponymous angel appears in Lamb. And, yeah… he’s pretty damn stupid.

Have you ever wanted a Christmas zombie novel? Yes? Yes, of course you have. Why wouldn’t you want a Christmas zombie novel?

So. Raziel (the angel) is sent to earth to grant the wish of a child. He decides to help a boy who witnessed the death of a man dressed as Santa Claus. The town is getting ready for a big Christmas party near the cemetery. See where I’m going with this? Inept angel, cemetery, dead Santa… Oh yeah. ZOMBIE TIME!

It’s a funny novel. A bit of fluff for the holiday season, especially for those of you tired of all that feel-good nonsense. Christmas is brutal, man. You think I’m kidding about Mad Max. I am not. Someone tried to take a Christmas ornament out of my hand at Target. It was the last Finn (yes… Star Wars) and I wanted it, but apparently so did someone else. I won, though. It’s an adorable ornament.

So, if you want to drink something… go with a traditional Christmas punch. You know, the kind that’ll knock you on your ass after one cup and have you singing the Batman version of Jingle Bells at the top of your lungs while wearing mistletoe on your head. Or Egg Nog with a heavy dose of rum. Something Christmas-y.

C

Monday Muse: Under Pressure

That was to the tune of “Under Pressure”, as sung by the late, great David Bowie and Freddie Mercury. 

No, we aren’t doing musically themed titles on purpose, it just happened that way. Because, the universe.

Oh, by the way, it’s A today. I did Saturday so I just assumed I’d be doing Monday. So here I am. 😃

So anyway, as per today’s title, I’ll be discussing – or maybe venting about – the whole being under pressure thing. I don’t know about you, but my entire life seems to be in a time crunch lately. Christmas is coming up so fast and I’ve gotten, like, zero shopping done. My schedule is a nightmare that has effectively kept me from being productive on personal projects and goals, and 2016 is STILL doing its best to drive me to the madhouse. I feel like I’m taking crazy pills.

Today was my first true day off in weeks and I didn’t really get to enjoy it because I felt pressure to reevaluate the things I’d forgotten or neglected to do when I was busy. And then I felt even more pressure to move forward because there was just so much to do. And then I took a nap because I’ve had a touch of insomnia lately and my couch is very comfortable. And then I woke up and once again rewrote the opening paragraph of chapter two of Killing Mercutio. Talk about under pressure!

You see, we’ve been working on Killing Mercutio for a long time and it’s ready to see the light of day. We want it to be read. I’ve already told C and now I’ll tell you: Shark Query be damned, we have to make a list of agents, send our queries, and hope for the best. C and I have both had experiences chatting with our betas about their groups of friends who are dying to get their hands on Killing Mercutio. And, frankly, we’re dying to deliver.

So let’s just say that thinking about being under pressure has really lit a fire under my ass today. Here’s to the future, and moving forward, despite everything else!

-A

Silly Sunday: No Silly.

I sang that to the tune of “No Scrubs”. I just want everyone to know that.

OK. I’m Silly Sunday-ing today. Because of the weird scheduling lately, I’m not entirely sure who’s Musing tomorrow. Life is CHAOS.

CHAOS, I TELL YOU.

But it’s a mini chaos. A slight meandering from the path of the dictated into a realm of insanity. (INSANITY.) Or something. I don’t know what I’m saying, really. I’m not feeling very well today, so I’m pretty sure my body is directing power from my higher functions to reminding me that the ship is sinking, I’m dying, and the Communists are winning. And so, I think that even though what I’m sharing isn’t silly at all, the manner in which I have shared it (or will have shared it…?) is perfectly loopy.

It’s that time of the year where we come together, give gifts, pretend not to hate that one family member who voted for the other guy (have you noticed there’s always one person who voted the opposite of the rest of the family? Yeah, that guy’s the black sheep), and eat too much food. But while you’re out there fighting for gifts Mad Max-style, remember there are people out there who would give anything to be in your place. So if you’re looking for a gift, or even if you just want to share the spirit of giving and do something good in the world, make sure to check out Rescue Gifts and do something good.

I know that’s not the only way (although, please… maybe don’t give to the Salvation Army without taking a good look at their policies), but it’s one that’s helping those who are suffering the most this holiday season — the displaced and the dejected. Exactly the sort of people who could use the miracle of light or the compassion of Christ at this time of year, when we’re supposed to be celebrating it.

Of course… giving all year is encouraged. But what would you want most if you were without home, safety, and the prospect of everything we take for granted at this time of the year? The time of year we all seem to want it most.

Anyway. I know it’s not Silly. But, frankly, I think sometimes we need to set aside the silly in favor of the substantial. And times like this — the times, as Thomas Paine said, that try men’s souls — are definitely times where substance is needed.

Someone will be here tomorrow. You’ll find out probably not long after we do.

C

Shakespeare Saturday: Educate Yo’self

Hey, hey, Nerd Cactus-landia! Welcome to Shakespeare Saturday where we do our darnedest to keep you interested and informed about all things Shakespeare. But as much as we like to think we know all there is to know about dear Willy, we are (sadly) not experts. We’re always on the lookout for new information and opportunities to educate ourselves and our readers about the Bard, however, and in the age of the internet it’s easier than ever to access educational courses dedicated to any subject you can think of.

So here’s a course all about Shakespeare. And it’s FREE! So sign up and learn a little something.

https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/shakespeare-and-his-world
-A

Boozy Books: Fool & The Serpent of Venice

Heyo! Welcome to today’s Boozy Books. It’s me, C, again taking over for A by our mutual decision as she’s still at work being awesome and I’m at home playing with a kitten. OK, not so much playing as constantly having to keep him from getting into something THAT ISN’T FOR CATS.

Anyone noticed having a kitten is like having an inquisitive and highly acrobatic toddler who never, ever learns no matter how many times you tell him no?

Anyway… in between realizing I’m not cut out to be a parent and wishing it weren’t raining so I could take advantage of the first truly cool night of the year, I am now in charge of writing a Boozy Books. So… I decided to go with two of the most inappropriate twists on Shakespeare ever:

Fool and The Serpent of Venice. 

I was planning on just going with the second, but I realized you have to read the first to figure out what’s going on in the second since it’s… well, it’s not quite a sequel, but it does build on the events of the first. So reading the second without the first is just not as much fun. And, frankly, missing out on the hilarity of a comedic King Lear is just NOT WORTH IT.

Oh, yeah… a comedic King Lear, told from the POV of The Fool, who is grossly inappropriate and only slightly more raunchy than Shakespeare usually is (except written in modern parlance, so more obviously raunchy to the modern reader), and re-written to be a comedy. I mean, pretty much everyone still dies, but there’s a pretty awesome ghost involved and, yeah, it’s pretty funny. Warning, though… it is grossly inappropriate. I can’t tell you this enough: it is grossly inappropriate. A lot of the humor is in Christopher Moore just going as over the top as possible in the realm of language, sex, farts, etc. Again, just like Shakespeare.

The sequel-not-sequel is a mix of OthelloThe Merchant of Venice, and, funnily enough, The Cask of Amontillado. The Fool from the first book is now in, you guessed it, Venice and is getting involved (in oh-so-many ways) with all our favorites from Shakespeare’s two great Venetian plays (his only two Venetian plays). And, guess what? IT’S STILL A COMEDY! It’s overly sexual, overly scatological (I love that word), and has the Fool being inappropriate. And shut up inside a brick wall because, like I said, The Cask of Amontillado makes an appearance. There’s also a literal serpent and, you guessed it, ANOTHER GHOST. Because there’s always a fucking ghost.

As one half of the duo behind what will be the most amazing re-telling of Romeo and Juliet ever (yeah, I said it), I am always down for books that combine various Shakespeare plays, blur the lines between their respective eras (Lear definitely doesn’t take place at the same time as Othello, for example), and take what works for your storyline. It’s honoring the Bard, in my mind, and because he’s in the public domain, it doesn’t violate my dearly held beliefs regarding intellectual property. (Hint: I am not a fan of fan-fiction unless the author gives you permission to write it.) While Moore’s humor is sometimes a bit too raunchy even for my sensibilities, it typically manages to be downright Shakespearean. (Remember, Shakespeare’s the originator of the ‘yo mamma’ joke and could sometimes have lines that count as triple entendre.) And Moore is the writer of one of my favorite books of all time (Lamb, which I’ve mentioned before… a lot), so I give him some leeway.

What to drink? A cask of Amontillado! Duh!

I’ll see you Sunday… or Monday. Not sure which.

C