Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Liebster Blog Award

I have been given the Liebster Blog Award by Diana from All's fair with pen and paper. Thanks Diana!

Now I am supposed to answer her questions, and post some of my own to ask fellow bloggers who have fewer than 200 followers.

What author inspired you to start writing?
I wasn't inspired to start writing by an author. I actually wanted to draw for cartoon shows when I was eight. I drew page after page after page...and then, after I had a stack of paper a foot tall that covered a few minutes of action and dialogue, I decided it was taking a while and I should write out what I was going to do beforehand, so I didn't forget before I got there. Then I realized it's way more fun for me to write, and fell in love with the craft.

If you could bring any one of your fictional boyfriends to life (I know you have one!) who would it be?
I don't have to, I'm married to him. :)

What's your favorite color and why?
Green. It's the color of life and vitality. It's so vibrant, and not in a violent way like red.

What came first, the chicken or the egg?

Where would your ideal writing spot be?
In front of a wide, open window, where there is a yard and a ton of trees.

What is your favorite type of pizza?
Canadian bacon and bacon on a real chicago-style pan crust.

You're up for karaoke, what song do you sing?
Something by the Beetles. 'Obla Di Obla Da' probably.

Which power ranger would you have been?
Didn't watch a ton of power rangers, so if it's based on my favorite color, then green.

What is your favorite book, movie, and tv show?
Book is either The Great Divorce or Till We Have Faces by CS Lewis (I really can't decide). Movie is The Lord of the Rings director's cut. TV show is hard because there are so many I really like, such as Frasier,  Parks and Recreation, Community, Modern Family, Big Bang Theory, etc. Basically I like sitcoms.

What is your favorite paranormal being to read about?
The word paranormal makes me groan inside because *surprise* I'm not a Twilight fan. If we're talking something that can be found in fantasy, then dragons. If it's supposed to be someone who could pass as human but really isn't...I don't know, I like them all equally based on who's writing them.

What book are you currently reading?
I just got done reading Mort by Terry Pratchett (to get me in a comedic fantasy mood for my book I'll be writing for NaNo!), and it was pretty good. I liked I Shall Wear Midnight better personally, but I love Pratchett either way.

And now for my Liebster Blog Awards:

My questions for you:
Who's your favorite author and what do you love most about their writing?
What book do you least like and why?
If you had the means to, what is the one thing you wish you could buy, right now?
What are your Halloween plans?
Favorite hot drink?
Favorite fall food?
Favorite season?
How do you spend your free time?
What must you do in your non-free time?
If you could have only one type of pet for the rest of your life, what would it be?
You have a day left to live. What do you do?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Character Concept: Kalara

This is it. Next Friday, I will show you raw, uncut, pulpy new words in my new novel. Until then, I have one more character to share with you all...the star of the show! Kalara, come on out and take a bow!

Kalara grew up in the lap of luxury. Her parents own a bridal store chain, and started taking her to formal parties when she was ten, deciding she was old enough to act like an adult. She got used to these formal parties, learning the etiquette and how to blend in almost naturally. When she went to school, she felt like she was too grown up for her classmates, so she stopped paying much attention to them.

When she was thirteen one of her teachers noticed her flicking clovers when her fingers were two feet away from them, and told her she could be a mage, and that he would teach her how. But she had to keep it secret, because if you told your average person you could do magic they would either think you were crazy or fear you, and who wants to be in that mess?

She moved to NYC at the age of nineteen to attend Columbia University and learn business management, leaving her mentor but taking her maid who is now her sole confidant. To school she wears business casual, never ever pajama pants. She keeps her hair in the latest trends, and, thanks to her magic, with minimal effort.

So what are your opinions of my star?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Alexa Rating

Hi all, just a quick update today. I've been reading I Shall Wear Midnight, and I think it's worth a perusal by anyone who likes comedic fantasy. I'm using it to get in the mood to write my novel during NaNo, but I think I'll finish reading it today or tomorrow, so I'll have to go through another Terry Pratchett book before November (the horror!).

In other news, my blog just broke the 1m mark in Alexa Rating today! I never expected so many readers so quickly (or before I got published). So thank you for being my valued readers. If I could treat you all to ice cream I would. I myself am going to go drink hot chocolate, because it's decided to be near freezing this morning and my feet are cold.

See you all Friday!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Character Concept: Evander

Here's some more of my planning material for the novel, Kalara's Guide to Being Evil, I will be writing come November. There will be one more Friday post where I show only planning material before November 2nd, where I will show you what my writing is like at its roughest. Because there's no place for editing during NaNo. Okay, my OCD might take over a little and correct spelling and grammar errors before I hit "publish." Anyway...

This time I'm going to show you what my actual page looks like when designing a character.

  • Personality type: ESFJ-Caregiver, wants to be loved and please others.
  • Occupation: Devil's son. Tries hard to be good at being a devil, but has failed so far.
  • Age: 18 or 19
  • Height: 5'8"
  • Looks: Scrawny. Brown hair and eyes. Hair short and scraggly. Not very attractive, but his personality shines through and catches Kalara's attention. Slumps with hands in pockets, trying to look cool. Occasionally gets bursts of energy and jumps around.
  • Style: Casual with clumsiness stains.
  • Family life: Single child, expected to be a devil. Grew up in Tartarus.
  • Passion: Tap-dancing. He notices the way people walk and move.
  • Secrets: He's a devil's son, which he hides from normal people (magical world kept secret from "normal" one). He's attracted to Kalara. He tap-dances.
Do you think he's an acceptable main player in a comedic Urban Fantasy? Writers, how do your character development pages differ?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

On Giving Up

My mom just told me "I hope someday you realize there's more [other than writing] you could be doing." What, because I'm 22 and working at a pizza place, so obviously I'll never be published? She also is under the impression that I became set on being an author at 16 or 17 instead of at age 8.

I started the conversation by telling her excitedly that I had finally decided to shelve my first novel (which I first conceived of when I was 14, and spent the whole summer typing on the computer, and my mom told me to stop and go play outside many times, telling me there was more to do on a bright, sunny day than write. Really. She got 16 or 17 from that? Super long sentence interruption!) and start a completely unrelated one. She basically told me that she wished me luck, but didn't believe I was going to be published. She said if I don't get published in the next two years, maybe I'll consider doing something more worthwhile.

She wants me to give up.

When I was in high school, I had the privilege of speaking with Rilla Askew, author or Fire in Beulah. She told me that throughout a writer's life (especially before being published) you have to grow a tough skin, because you'll get a lot of criticism. To make it you have to bear it and keep going. You have to be committed to never giving up.

Could I have gone to college, gotten a career, and still become an author? Sure. It would have taken a lot longer, and been a lot harder to write under those conditions. I'm perfectly happy working a "crappy" job (I actually like it. Low stress, nice people) and writing in my still-ample free time. And pretty soon my husband is going to get a degree and become a teacher, and I won't even need to work. Hopefully I beat him to starting my career (as an author), but if I don't, no worries.

Because I won't quit if things get a little difficult. I made my commitment to this long ago, and I'm going to see it through. I'll never give it up.

What depressing, hurtful thing has someone told you lately? How did you react?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Character Concept: Senona Merlo

So, I'm not supposed to write my comedic Urban Fantasy at all before November 1st (Oops! I'd forgotten NaNo was approaching before), so I'll be posting some of my planning material instead! Today's example is a character concept for Kalara Dahl's live-in maid (yes, she is very rich), Senona Merlo.

Senona knows that Kalara is a mage, and in exchange for never gossiping about it to anyone, Kalara uses magic to clean, allowing Senona to spend her time however she chooses. She chooses to party. Kalara, rich 19 year old who just moved to NYC, spends her time at home, at formal dinner parties, or lounging in high-class places around Columbia Circle. Her maid, who is 28, stays up late drinking with girlfriends like she's the one in college.

When Senona comes home late, Kalara greets her with a glass of water and the advice that she should go to bed. Kalara spends anywhere between five and thirty minutes on cleaning that would have taken Senona all day, commanding dirt to fly off the floor and into the trashcan, for clothes to shrug themselves clean, and for bathroom grime to crawl into the drains. Senona spends a little time each morning preparing meals, which go in the fridge and freezer for Kalara to eat when she's hungry, then she takes off to go shopping or to zumba, depending on the day.

On nights neither Kalara or Senona are out, they sit in their massive living room and talk like equals, describing to each other their polar-opposite lives.

Do you have any suggestions for personality quirks for Senona? What do you think of her and Kalara's role reversal?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

For Those About to NaNo

Rachel Aaron has just released a book on writing faster on Amazon, for $1. It's called 2k to 10k, and if you buy anything to prepare you for writing 50k in 30 days, it should be this. I'm going to.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Critique of The Rogue King

In response to my previous post, Aldrea Alien over at Thardrandian Thoughts submitted a page for review! So, here we go:

Koral looked up through the glass panel in the metal ceiling. The combined light of four moons made it difficult to see the stars. Only a scant few shone bright enough to punch through that pallid glow. Which one of those dots, out of the hundreds he knew were truly out there, belonged to the alien creatures raising him? They'd come from another world, somewhere beyond the moons and the twin suns. From a planet they called Earth. Nice nippet of world building in here. We already know it's another planet, with two suns and four moons, and humans have come to it.

He wished the same could be said about him. But then, he'd wished for countless things during the past twelve years of his life. None of them had come true either. I'm on the edge about this sentence. It's almost unnecessary, and slows the pace a little much.

"Excuse me."

Koral winced at the words. A weary sigh escaped his nostrils as he turned to face his birth-mother. Wait, why would his birth-mother be here if he's being raised by aliens? Or was his birth mother from earth?

Hands on hips, Amelia stood in the doorway of his tiny room aboard the spaceship. "Get your tail back to bed, mister." She was considered short by the men, who weren't much taller than her. Koral had recently surpassed all of them in height and their latest bio scans promised he would grow further still. Does he really have a tail? Have him flick it in irritation. Some people use "tail" as a synonym of "butt."

His gaze fell to her booted feet. How did she always manage to move so silently on the metal flooring? "Tell me another story," he said, giving her the smile that, usually, let him get his way. No commas necessary around the word usually.

"Very well," she said with a sigh, humour tweaking her lips. Amelia often indulged him. There were, however, times he felt certain he'd seen a flicker of unease in her dark-green eyes. "I suppose, seeing that it is your birthday, I can be lenient. Which one shall it be?" Are you from Europe, or the US? Using the "ou" spelling in words such as humour, colour, etc, is a European English thing. 

The battle won again, he dove under his bedcovers and waited while she tucked him in. "I want to hear about the space ship."

"Koral," she said, laughing. Loose strands of red hair bobbed about her pale face as she shook her head. "I've told that tale to death and you know it by heart." Thank you for using "laughing" responsibly!

"I want to hear you tell it."

Amelia smiled and sat on the edge of the bed. "A hundred years from now," she began, her voice taking on the steady tone of an expert storyteller, "fifty in Thardrandian time, there will be a ship in space as big as any city. Its sole purpose will be to discover whether time-travel is possible." If she's his birth mother, why would she use Earth time first? No dash necessary, just a space.

His gaze travelled (<typo) back to the glass panel as she continued talking. He'd never seen a city in his short life, only images on screens. Even then, most of what he'd seen was from photos or clips. His guardians never allowed him to venture outside for any reason. Out there was too dangerous. Now you say guardians. I am thoroughly confused about his living situation. Awkward wording in the highlighted sentence. Why not say "It was too dangerous out there"?

"Koral. If you want me to tell the story, you could at least listen."

"Sorry," he replied, the claws on his three-digit hands scraping lightly against the sheet as he drew it closer. He attempted to look as attentive as he could so she would continue. It's now obvious that the woman he's talking to is not the same race he is.

"Of course." One red eyebrow rose as parental indulgence replaced annoyance.

Overall thoughts: You said a couple from Earth was raising him, then said his birth-mother was there, then said his guardians wouldn't let him outside. Please clarify the situation. Other than that and a few spelling missteps, this looks great! I'm really interested in finding out more about your world, and why people have settled on it from Earth.

What do you think? Would you change anything else in this first page?

Announcement about Critiques

Only one person has ever submitted a page to be critiqued, and I didn't create this section of my blog to rip on published authors who don't submit (because really I'm jealous of all of them, if not for their skills then for their success). So from now on, I will do a critique post if someone submits something to be critiqued, and if not, I won't.

Having two jobs, a family, being a beta reader, and trying to write my own books doesn't leave a lot of time for other things. This is what I decided to cut. Sorry if you're disappointed, but my Friday Fantasy Scenes will remain on-schedule, and I'll keep you posted on other exciting things in my (mostly writer) life.

See you Friday!

Excerpt from Moon Dance

Remember that I am open to critiquing a page of prose if you send it to me. See my Critiques tab for more details. Here we have Moon Dance, and excerpt of which I found here. It was written by J.R. Rain, a fairly successful self-published author. Here we go:

I was folding laundry in the dark and watching Judge Judy rip this guy a new asshole when the doorbell rang. This is very crass. Personally I would avoid using the word "asshole" until I had established the voice of the narrator, so it doesn't feel like a slap in the face. I don't know, maybe that's what you were going for. Also, this sentence is very complex without any use of commas to organize it,  and could benefit from reorganization.

I flipped down a pair of Oakley wrap-around sunglasses and, still holding a pair of little Anthony’s cotton briefs in one hand, opened the front door. "Flipped down" doesn't mean anything to me, or if it does it means flipped them onto the ground. But after reading further, I find you mean "flipped a pair of Oakley wrap-around sunglasses down over my eyes." Which is not the most concise way of saying it, but it's more clear. "a pair of little Anthony's cotton briefs" is a lot of description for one pair of underwear. Try to be more concise while still capturing the picture, for example, "my child's cotton briefs." I would also use a long dash to interrupt the sentence instead of a comma here, since a comma after "and" and not before at first appears to be a mistake.

The light, still painfully bright, poured in from outside. I squinted behind my shades and could just made out the image of a UPS deliveryman.

And, oh, what an image it was.

As my eyes adjusted to the light, a hunky guy with tan legs and beefy arms materialized through the screen door before me. He grinned at me easily, showing off a perfect row of white teeth. Spiky yellow hair protruded from under his brown cap. The guy should have been a model, or at least my new best friend. "materialized through the screen door" makes it seem like he's moving through the screen like a ghost. Also, there wasn't a screen door there when we looked out the door a few paragraphs ago. Perhaps say "poured in through the screen door" there, and "materialized before me" here. Also, is his hair actually yellow (ew), or is it blond? This guy sounds like he's supposed to be perfect, but it comes off like a fake Ken doll, which makes me instantly dislike him.
“Mrs. Moon?” he asked. His eyes seemed particularly searching and hungry, and I wondered if I had stepped onto the set of a porno movie. Interestingly, a sort of warning bell sounded in my head. Warning bells are tricky to discern, and I automatically assumed this one was telling me to stay away from Mr. Beefy, or risk damaging my already rocky marriage. "His eyes seemed particularly searching and hungry" as in most people have searching, hungry eyes, but these are more so? Lose "particularly." Why is it interesting that warning bells sounded? It seems perfectly reasonable given this situation.

“You got her,” I said easily, ignoring the warning bells.

“I’ve got a package here for you.”

“You don’t say.”

“I’ll need for you to sign the delivery log.” He held up an electronic gizmo-thingy that must have been the aforementioned delivery log. Entirely unnecessary.

“I’m sure you do,” I said, and opened the screen door and stuck a hand out. He looked at my very pale hand, paused, and then placed the electronic thing-a-majig in it. As I signed it, using a plastic-tipped pen, my signature appeared in the display box as an arthritic mess. The deliveryman watched me intently through the screen door. I don’t like to be watched intently. In fact, I prefer to be ignored and forgotten. "and opened the screen door and stuck a hand out" there are better ways to word this. The sentence beginning "As I signed it" could also benefit from rewording and shortening. Here's where I hit a big stumbling block: your character flirted readily enough, but now says she prefers to be forgotten. If that were the case she would have been more reserved. It doesn't fit at all with the previous voice.

“Do you always wear sunglasses indoors?” he asked casually, but I sensed his hidden question: And what sort of freak are you?

“Only during the day. I find them redundant at night.” I opened the screen door again and exchanged the log doohickey for a small square package. “Thank you,” I said. “Have a good day.”

He nodded and left, and I watched his cute little buns for a moment longer, and then shut the solid oak door completely. Sweet darkness returned to my home. I pulled up the sunglasses and sat down in a particularly worn dining room chair. Again, "pulled up" makes no sense here, use "pushed my sunglasses to the top of my head" or just have her take them off.

Overall thoughts: Meh. You have a lot of wording issues that need to be more clear and concise, your voice seemed formed and then was broken entirely with a switch to an introverted thought, and I don't understand why a Ken-doll perfect guy would be a delivery man instead of in LA trying to be an actor, or being something else that takes advantage of his looks, at least a waiter. Delivery drivers don't take care of themselves. I haven't read the book, so it's totally possible that this guy shows up again and he was really a spy who was out to locate Mrs. Moon so he could take her down, in which case he would have tried to look like a delivery driver more instead of a body-builder/porno star.

What do you think? Anything to add, or that you disagree with? Have a great Tuesday!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Laura B Writer

I have a quick announcement. My blog was critiqued over at Laura B Writer! Thank you other Laura!

Announcement About NaNo and My Book

So, as many of you know (but perhaps a few don't) NaNoWriMo (or National Novel Writing Month) is coming up starting November 1st! I think it's a great time for me, because just yesterday I decided to shelf my first novel (finally) and write something in a different setting. It's an idea I had just recently for an urban fantasy, in a completely different setting than the one I've been obsessed with for I-won't-admit-how-many years. I'm shutting the pages on that one for now. I'm getting a fresh start, with all my skills I've built but haven't fully been able to utilize in all the rewrites of an old idea.

How about you? What are your plans for NaNo?

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Complete Guide to Being Evil

For once in my life I got a story idea from a dream that wasn't completely stupid! It's an urban fantasy. Here's a scene of it written out:

Kalara wiped the sweat off her forehead. She must have been more tired than she thought, to not be able to call a devil. Most of the time they jumped at the chance to make a deal with a mortal. Most mortals knew better, but she was desperate. She was losing the ongoing war with her rival.

She decided to call it quits for the night and went to her kitchen. She poured herself a glass of milk, or as she liked to think of it, liquid sustenance. Easier to digest after exhausting her abilities, but still full of nutritional goodness.

Someone knocked.

Kalara set down the jug on the counter and answered the door. On her porch stood a scrawny guy with dark hair, wearing jeans that had holes with some blood seeping through.

"My goodness, are you okay? Come in."

"Oh, I'm not here because of my leg. You called for a devil?"

She grabbed his shirt and yanked him inside, slamming the door shut. "Why would you say that out there? You want everyone to know I'm a mage?"


"You don't look like a devil. Why is your leg bleeding?"

"Well, I...I'm not really a devil yet. I'm a devil's son." Kalara clapped her hands over her eyes and sank into a chair. "My devilry test was to sneak into an old man's house a few doors down and influence his dreams, but his dog stopped me. Pretty pathetic, huh?"

She couldn't help it, she just started laughing.

"Yeah, yeah, it was. Anyway, I failed at that, but then you called for a devil. If you make the deal with me, if I make a deal with a mortal, they'll pretend that little incident never happened and welcome me with open arms."

It's a rough draft, but what do you think of the idea behind it?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Critique of The Last Wish Excerpt

I've joined Goodreads recently, and it recommended the book The Last Wish to me. So for today's Tuesday Critique, I have an excerpt from it, which can be found here.

The mare flattened her ears against her skull and snorted, throwing up earth with her hooves; she didn't want to go. Geralt didn't calm her with the Sign; he jumped from the saddle and threw the reins over the horse’s head. He no longer had his old sword in its lizard-skin sheath on his back; its place was filled with a shining, beautiful weapon with a cruciform and slender, well-weighted hilt, ending in a spherical pommel made of white metal. Saying "skull" makes me think of a death knight's horse, which is actually a skeleton  I would say head instead. Or just "flattened her ears." While I'm not one of the people out there who say semicolons have no place in fiction  I would not recommend using them three times in the first paragraph. And while description is important, it's better to use fewer, more powerful words instead of a vomit of words (for the sword).

This time the gate didn't open for him. It was already open, just as he had left it.

He heard singing. He didn't understand the words; he couldn't even identify the language. He didn't need to – the witcher felt and understood the very nature, the essence, of this quiet, piercing singing which flowed through the veins in a wave of nauseous, overpowering menace. I love this paragraph.

The singing broke off abruptly, and then he saw her.

She was clinging to the back of the dolphin in the dried-up fountain, embracing the moss-overgrown stone with her tiny hands, so pale they seemed transparent. Beneath her storm of tangled black hair shone huge, wide-open eyes the color of anthracite. Tangled needs a comma. I'm not sure how many people are going to get the reference to anthracite. When I use gem or rock names, I try to use well-known ones. What about black opal? It's a similar color, with the sparkle in it, even.

Geralt slowly drew closer, his step soft and springy, tracing a semi-circle from the wall and blue rosebush. The creature glued to the dolphin’s back followed him with her eyes, turning her petite face with an expression of longing, and full of charm. He could still hear her song, even though her tiny, pale lips were held tight and not the smallest sound emerged from them. I question your word choice for "emerged." Otherwise solid.

The witcher halted at a distance of ten paces. His sword, slowly drawn from its black enameled sheath, glistened and glowed above his head.

“It’s silver,” he said. “This blade is silver.”

The pale little face did not flinch; the anthracite eyes did not change expression. Pale needs a comma. There are too many semicolons on this page. What's wrong with periods?

“You’re so like a rusalka, “the witcher continued calmly, “that you could deceive anyone. All the more as you’re a rare bird, black-haired one. But horses are never mistaken. They recognize creatures like you instinctively and perfectly. What are you? I think you’re a moola, or an alpor. An ordinary vampire couldn’t come out in the sun.” You've got a space in the wrong place after rusalka.

The corners of the pale lips quivered and turned up a little. Nice and creepy.

Overall thoughts: It seems like you have a well-formed world here, but I'd like more character and hook. The semicolon thing is distracting. I think overall I would keep reading, since nothing truly turned me off, and the world seems interesting.

Would you read this book?

GUTGAA Small Press Contest

I've entered into the GUTGAA Small Press Contest, and my entry can be found here. See you at my normal time tomorrow!