Thursday, February 28, 2013

Lost in the Desert

Hey there! Not a ton going on this week, I just have some company from out of town over. So I'll keep this short. What's going on in your life?

I need more practice writing description, so that's what I'll focus on in today's scene.

She stared across the distance before her--gently-rolling hills of sand and loose dirt, dotted frequently with large rocks and scrub, the mesa still a mile or more away. Its shadow loomed over the land around it like a cloud. She shivered, then focused back on her current plight. Her throat felt like she'd been swallowing flour. Dry, but still somehow gunky. She shook her flask again out of habit. Nothing.

And perched halfway up one of the cacti was a nest of chicks. She put effort into blinking as she looked at them again, trying to force some moisture out so she could focus better. They were right at the age where they'd gotten their feathers, but their eyes were still too big for their heads. Adorable. How could she be considering what she was considering?

She didn't have any tools, so the cacti--the only plants in the area which would yield enough moisture--would tear up her hands, possibly poisoning her. But decent, modern human beings didn't kill baby birds. She looked to the mesa again.

She wouldn't make it. Unless...

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Maid of the Princess and the Pea

New background! You like?

I have a few pieces of news. First, I'll be hosting Sharon Bayliss as she goes on a blog tour to promote her book The Charge. She'll write a guest post on querying March 22nd.

Second, I'll be attending the OK Writing Conference May 3-4. It's only $150 for the two main days, which includes a one-on-one chat with an agent. I have three months to finish tidying up my book, The Complete Guide to Being Evil, before then. I'm really excited and impatient!

Third, my husband and I are building ourselves custom desks designed to fit our specific needs. I'll post pictures when this project is done.

And for our Friday vignette, I used the prompt "Rewrite a scene from a fairy tale from the perspective of a minor character." I apologize, it's a little longer than I like to post on my blog, but I think it's worth it.

“They say some woman arrived at the palace doors in the night, and she says she's a princess!”

“In all my years in Her Majesty's service, I've never before heard of a real princess wandering about in the middle of the night without an escort. Especially not in the rain.”

“It seems the queen was quite taken in, though. She had her set up in a room with twenty mattresses to sleep on!”

I wiped the sleep from my eyes and looked over at Henrietta and Margret, who were whispering in our dimly-lit room. “Twenty mattresses? How absurd,” I said, then rolled off of my pallet and began to dress for the day. “Not even the queen herself sleeps on more than five at once.”

Henrietta smiled wryly. “They say the prince finds her charming.”

I blushed. “That's excellent news. He's been searching for a princess to marry long enough.”

Friday, February 15, 2013

Valentine's and Selling Genetics

This past week has been pretty hectic for me. I even had to work (at my restaurant job) on Valentine's Day instead of going on a date with my husband. That's really not so bad, since we're both secure enough in our relationship that we know what we do for one another on this one day doesn't define how much we love each other. We get each other stuff the day after, when it's all cheaper.

But I haven't gotten a lot done this week that I actually wanted to do. For example, edit my book. Another example, read Warm Bodies. My husband and I are conducting an experiment where one of us (me) watches the movie first, and the other one reads the book first, and we compare how much we liked each of them. To complete the experiment I need to finish reading it, then we'll go see it together (I saw it two weeks ago with a friend). We wanted to watch it together on Valentine's, since it's a love story, but whatever. We'll get to it.

Part of this business I've experienced has been the sign-up process to become an egg donor. I'd like to be an egg donor for two reasons. One, it pays as much for the first time doing it as I would make at my restaurant job in eight months, and I would really like to take that money and make my family more stable. Two, I feel sorry for people who can't conceive on their own, and I want to help them have the baby they've always wanted. What do you think? Would you consider selling your genetics?

And finally, a sweet Friday vignette for those in a loving mood. Cookies for whoever guesses the movie that inspired it.

Odette blinked out at the people gathered in the throne room. Her father had told her these people would come, look at her, and bring her gifts. She hadn't expected there to be so many. So very many big people...

She ducked her head down and fiddled with her skirt. The woman who'd dressed her put her in the thickest skirt possible. It bunched between her legs and made it almost impossible to walk. She tried to take a step backwards now, to hide behind her father's legs, but the movement caused her to wobble dangerously, and she stopped. She put her chubby little fingers over her eyes, hoping that if she couldn't see these people, they wouldn't see her.

Odette heard footsteps approach her, and they weren't big, scary footsteps. They were quiet. She peeked out between her fingers to find herself looking at a boy, perhaps twice her age. His face was kind, and he held out something shiny toward her.

She took it, holding it up so she could see it better. It was a golden locket. She put it on, then realized the boy was still standing there. She smiled, pulled her skirt to either side, and dipped her head. He bent forward, putting one arm behind him, and smiled back at her.

He walked back to his seat, and Odette could see all the other people in the room again. But now that she saw the boy, the nice boy, it wasn't all that bad.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Super-Packed Friday

Today is an extremely busy day. I just bought a new(er) car, I'm going to try out a new gym, and I'm going to go play a role-playing game with some new people. On top of all this, I'm nearing the end of a really good book and would like to be reading in my free time, not writing a vignette. Sorry.

I'm reading The Well of Ascension, second in Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn series. He is appearing in Seattle pretty soon, details here. Have fun with those and spending more time doing other things this Friday!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Strong Female Lead

Something's been bothering me in recent years, and it has to do with the whole female rights push. Not that making sure both genders are on equal footing is a bad thing, it's good for us to balance one another instead of one dominating the other. But that's just it, I find there's a lot of over-correction various places. One of these is when authors intentionally set out to write strong female leads.

The problem is that when this is the goal or motivator for you when you're developing your characters, the male lead tends to end up weak. Which is not to say that I don't enjoy a weak man paired with a strong woman on occasion (see The Catbird Seat, my favorite short story), but I'm getting tired of how many forgettable, sidelined, sniveling wimps of male leads I've been reading about recently.

I saw a blurb for a book the other day that's the perfect example of this. It said the heroine has to save the male lead, then take over leading his side in a war because he's not doing it well enough himself. Which I find goofy, and here's why.

Just because men and women should be considered equal, we shouldn't be considered equal in all things.

Men are stronger (physically) and more prone to the "fight" side of "fight or flight," etc. And women are stronger (emotionally) and more prone to the "flight," etc.

That we are different in this way is good. It gives us natural roles that let us partner well together. And it's why reading a blurb that says the woman physically saves the man and goes on to lead a fight makes me look elsewhere when finding a new book to read.

I completely agree that not all stories should involve a princess sitting trapped in a castle, sighing for her prince to come. And not all stories should model Twilight, with the female lead completely emotionally crippled when her male lead is gone (and the male lead is the perfect, sculpture of a man, who's strong and amazing in every way). But just as unbelievable as these stories are the ones that--let's face it--belittle men. Let's not throw our male leads in those castles, sighing because they're impotent. No, men are not perfect or to-be-worshiped-like-gods. But neither are we.

And your characters, regardless of gender, shouldn't be either.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Worldbuilding: Excerpt

Today is the last day of the Worldbuilding Blogfest, with the contest-entering excerpt from my novel showing off my world-building. This is also my Friday Fantasy Scene. Enjoy.

How, you might wonder, had so many devils and demons gotten out of their prisons? Well every prison had a way out, though the way may be complicated and not make a lot of sense. See, Lucifer had bet God that he could corrupt mankind, and God had said he couldn't, and Lucifer had responded 'so prove it.' God opened the doors to Tartarus and said 'just try it.' And so the devils can walk right out of Tartarus, though Gehenna is not a pleasant place to go by any means, so they avoided it, and the place of the dead was effectively sealed against them, so that devils were only allowed to corrupt humans in life. But right next to the angel-guarded door of the place of the dead was a landing pad, and if a devil stood there a few seconds, generally making rude gestures at the angels while they waited, a portal would open for a soul to arrive. And if you hopped at the right moment you could slip through the portal as the soul came through and get out into the mortal world. 
The souls arriving were in no danger from the devils, since only willingly-bound souls were of any use to them. They had only necromancers to fear, and it was up to the humans left alive to protect their bodies from them, a job at which humanity had failed miserably. Which is why the estimated wait time was an estimation instead of a determined wait time. If lots of souls got stolen for necromancy it would go down as those people were temporarily skipped, and if they got free and back into the place of the dead, the wait time would jump up. Of course those who's souls had been judged were immune to being stolen, but practically no necromancer had private access to a mummy, and all other bodies from that time period are fully returned to dust, so that hadn't been much of an issue.

Now demons had to get out through jail-breaks, which they worked hard to do at all times, but always in a way that they get to keep all their Judged slaves to torment (and spawn new demons with) in their pit.

The pack in his pocket jingled, and Evander grimaced. He was going to have to fill out the paperwork to get his devilry kit refilled*. The stupid dog had bitten him in the rear, only to crunch down on the pack. He'd mangled the magnifying glass, the tea light candle, and a good portion of his paper (he'd used the inside-most sheet for his deal with Kalara, which had slight impressions of teeth, but wasn't actually punctured).

To prevent devils from asking for a new kit, or components for the kit, too often, the paperwork to get it was horrendous, just torture to get through. And this would be his third one this month.

Evander walked in the door of Tartarus, which looked an awful lot like an office. He nodded at the receptionist**, who ignored him. He went over to his father's cubicle.

“I see you decided to shape up and do something right, for once,” his father grunted, handing him the report. Evander scanned through it.

“Probationary period? But I made a deal with a mortal. Surely that's worth admittance.”

“Usually it would be, but you screwed up your final test, and all the ones before it, which means normally you would have been kicked to the mortal world for good already, no more chances. Didn't you notice your body hadn't changed? You still have a pathetic, weakling, human body. Be happy we actually provisionally gave you the powers you immediately lent out. And if I were you, I'd get to work securing the rest of your bargain. I can't imagine what devil would want to lend you their aid and get mixed up in your mess.”

“I you wouldn't be willing to--”

“God, no. When I made the deal for that idiot woman's firstborn son, I was expecting a winner. Not such a good guy.” He shot a glare at Evander. “You may be my son, but you've brought a lot of sneers and laughter my way, and I hate being laughed at. I can't wait for you to fail and be banished.”

Evander's father was a very typical devil, with the standard inability to stand mockery to himself due to excessive pride, only loving things when they're convenient or particularly loveable (even he could not resist petting a bunny rabbit if it wasn't in the middle of doing something to nullify its cuteness such as the activity all rabbits engaged in most frequently), being petty in his need to knock those around him down and prove them wrong, even if doing so didn't benefit himself, because he couldn't stand the thought of anyone being more successful than himself, and, of course, his inbred hatred of all demon-kind. Devils and demons had spent a thousand years in war with one another, which ended only a few centuries ago, though the animosity between them had remained. But they had mutually agreed that the war between them was taking away from their war on mankind, and isn't that what was really important?

*Every devil had one, including items such as pens, paper, a magnifying glass (for reading, or writing, super-fine print), a tea light candle, a lighter, chalk, a pocket knife, and a lock pick, all bundled up tightly for easy transportation.

**She was the most homely succubi to ever have been born, so they stuck her at the entrance to Tartarus with a computer that had access to all the records ever kept by devils since they'd upgraded from the paper filing system. Most succubi were assigned to seducing human men into producing more devil children with them, but they figured that'd never happen for her.

I hope you all enjoyed taking a closer peek into my book. What did you like best? What needs improvement?