Friday, February 28, 2014

'Fly Away Home' by Rachel Heffington

A few weeks ago, I was going about my usual business. There I was, innocently blog-hopping and procrastinating when I came across The Inkpen Authoress, Rachel Heffington's blog. Her debut novel had just been released and she was hosting a giveaway on her blog. I read about her novel, 'Fly Away Home', and though it was a romance (which is not my genre), I was still intrigued. The synopsis was interesting, her characters sounded fascinating, it took place in the 1950's, AND it was about a journalist. What's not to like?

Long story short, I downloaded the Kindle version, read it in two days, and I absolutely loved it!

Without more of my melodramatics, here is the more professional part of the review... (spoiler free!)

"Self Preservation has never looked more tempting. 1952 New York City: Callie Harper is a woman set to make it big in the world of journalism. Liberated from all but her buried and troubled past, Callie craves glamour and the satisfaction she knows it will bring. When one of America's most celebrated journalists, Wade Barnett, calls on Callie to help him with a revolutionary project, Callie finds herself co-pilot to a Christian man whose life and ideas of true greatness run noisily counter to hers on every point. The new friendship sparks, the project soars, and a faint suspicion that she is fall for this uncommon man grows in Callie's heart. 

When the secrets of Callie's past are exhumed and hung over her head as a threat, she is forced to scrutinize Wade Barnett and betray his dirtiest secrets or see her own spilled. Here there is space for only one love, one answer: betray Wade Barnett to save her reputation, or sacrifice everything for the sake of the man she loved and the God she fled. The consequences of either decision will define the rest of her life."

When I began reading it, the first thing that grabbed my notice was the brilliant and flowing prose. It read easily, yet it had interesting wordplay and descriptions that made the novel very vivid and real. Along those same lines, the dialogue was well-done and realistic without being choppy. It flowed just as easily as the rest of the prose. I liked how the author used varying degrees of the 1950's language and slang to subtly show characters. Callie, for instance, uses the slang quite a lot so that it almost sounds forced at times...which fits perfectly with her glamour-yearning, popularity-seeking personality. Wade uses it naturally and casually, thus showing that he is not trying to be someone he's not. Not only did this show Rachel Heffington's cleverness in portraying characters, but also how well she had researched the era. 

I don't know much about the 1950's, but even I could tell that the author had clearly done her research. Differences and nuances in the culture were deftly explained in such a way that I rarely noticed the exposition. In reading historical novels (and some spec fic too) I sometimes feel like the author is so proud of his or her research that the exposition is massive and really annoying. I can't recall ever feeling like that while reading this novel. Instead, the research was only used to add to the story, not give an information-dump on the reader. Funny, I feel like I learned more about the 1950's from this subtle, non-obtrusive technique of sharing information than I do after reading an extremely expository novel. 

The characters were very interesting too. Callie Harper could be irritating at times, but I still found myself liking her, almost against my will. (Like a certain guy character in the novel...hmmm....) Wade was completely fascinating. He seemed very open and honest, yet he was mysterious too. As an aside, one of the reasons I don't typically like romances is because I find POV switches very trite and, for lack of a better word, lame. I'm talking about when the POV shifts from the male and female leads just to get their "feelings" on the happenings. I just don't like it. However, the few shifts sporadically placed throughout 'Fly Away Home' were very well done and creative and they helped drive the mystery sub-plot forward, while subtly giving the reader peeks at Wade's character. It was very effective, and I looked forward to those scenes.

As for the romance itself, it was very sweet and real. It followed the normal romance formula but avoided cliches. I liked how they began as friends and how they had plenty of time to grow in their friendship. On the whole, I liked it. 

'Fly Away Home' is so versatile, there are several different types of people who would probably enjoy it. If you like well-written romance novels with a Christian message, if you are a fan of the 1950's, if you like witty and funny characters, or if you are simply looking for a novel that the prose is a delight to read, this is the book for you! I do think the novel would be better for those ages 15+ though, because of the depth and undertones. All in all, I give this book 5/5 stars! 

Don't forget to check it out on Amazon!: Fly Away Home

Monday, February 24, 2014

Calling all Peeps! I need help!

I don't usually do posts like these, but I really do have some issues I would like some outside input on.

I'm getting close to beginning the rough draft of Story D. I've outlined a lot more than usual because I don't want to have the problem I'm currently working on with 'Hail Frost' (jumbled story and plot twists due to NaNoWriMo deadlines), so it's taken me nearly a month to outline and plan everything nicely, while still giving me plenty of room for improvising.

I just have a few questions that I need answered by different people. I know what I believe about each of these questions (except number 5, as you'll see), but I'm interested in your opinion. If you have the time, I would really appreciate it if you could answer at least one of the questions in the comment section. :)

1. Where do you think racism comes from? How does it happen?

2. What do you think is the best way to try to get rid of racism? (Speeches, just waiting it out, politics, etc.)

3. What gives more liability to racism: Christianity, other religions, or evolution? (Like, which one makes it easier to rationalize being a racist)

4. My pastor made an interesting point in church the other day. He said that many white people say they want a multi-cultural church, but really all they want is people of different skin tones to act like white people. They want a multi-colored church, not multi-cultural. Do you think this is true of churches or not? (I don't know about entire churches, but I found myself convicted. I've NEVER been a racist, but I found that quietly thinking other people were "odd" because they worship a differently than I do is in itself a form of racism or pride.)

5. This one is for any Northern peeps reading this. The novel I am working on is a fantasy and one of the countries is based on the South. I'm quite Southern, so I've just infused that into the country and it is very dynamic and interesting. However, there is another country based on the North, but I ran into a slight problem....I know next to nothing about the North! So if y'all could tell me a bit about it, I would be happier than a ladybug taking a bath in the Mississippi on a hot summer day. Ahem.

In all seriousness, what are some quirks or mannerisms that you have? What type of food do you like in general? How is wording different? (e.g. "y'all" and "you guys") Do you think you dress differently than Southerners or about the same? How do you feel about Southern people? (Be honest, I promise I won't get offended! :P) What do you think of the weather? What would you say are some of the best and worst things about the North? Any other tidbits or info you could share would be awesome! I get frustrated when the South is portrayed inaccurately, and I would hate to be the cause of the same frustration to someone else.

Thank you so much! Y'all are awesome!

*And no, this is NOT a fantasy about the War Between the States. It's based on cowboy westerns which have a lot of different types of Americans because they were all moving west. The real reason I invented the Southern country was because Dacey-Ellis displayed very Southern tendencies and diction, so I thought I should be fair and make a Northern country too. :)

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Most Obnoxious Character in Fantasy

What do you think is the most obnoxious character trope or cliche...specifically in fantasies? Is it the half-elf, half-dwarf, half-dragon, half-whatever character who is so unique and one-of-a-kind that he inevitably becomes the hero of the novel? Or is is the maniacal, cackling Dark Lord who needs to brush his teeth and cut his nails? Or, perhaps, is it the quirky comic relief that for some reason is always a different race than the hero?

For me? It's the warrior princess.

Everyone seems surprised when I tell them this. "Oh! You seemed like the type of person to like a strong female character!"

Why yes. Yes, I do like strong female character. I don't like masculine female characters, especially if they are supposed to be the protagonist.

We all know what I'm talking about. The warrior princess is incredibly beautiful, but obviously in an intense, harsh way. And odds are, she hates being beautiful. Creates too much attention from those weakling, sappy men. She'd rather strap on her unrealistically form-fitting armor and go hack some mindless beast apart and then wear the bloodied pelt home while gnawing on the charred remains of its brain. Dresses and ribbons are beneath her and she sneers at the perky, helpless princess who enjoys such paltry wastes of cloth. If there is a man in her life, he is probably the fantasy equivalent of a nerd who stays at the castle and has political meetings while she defends her kingdom.

Okay, so this might be slightly exaggerated. But only slightly.

Sadly, this is becoming common in fiction literature. With all the feminist propaganda in the media now, I'm shocked this trope has not been eradicated as the offensive lie it is. I'm surprised men have not been more offended by it as well. Not only for the usually derogatory way a male character is portrayed when this type of character takes center-stage, but also for the false definitions on what true strength is.

Allow me to explain. First, where did this trope come from?

I think it grew out of the cultural movement that showed distaste for the damsel in distress well it should have. Not all females are weak and helpless and need to rely on a male hero to save them. But the pendulum swung the other direction, and writers began creating the warrior princess.

Simple enough to explain. But why should women be offended?

Women ought to be offended because it implies that the only way to be a strong female is to act like a stupid, violent jock. It implies that women cannot be both feminine and strong, sweet and firm, fun-loving and smart. If women are to be taken seriously, they must act like a man.

But then, this isn't even how men ought to act! Why should men be offended by this stereotype? They should be offended because this implies how, not only how "strong" women are, but how "strong" everybody is. It implies that all men ought to be brutish warriors who fear nothing and are cold and ruthless and mysterious. It completely misinterprets everything that makes a strong man. Courage is not the same as recklessness. Strength does not mean how large your biceps are. And kindness, humility, humor, friendliness, and truthfulness? They are nowhere to be seen, along with many, many other admirable character traits.

This trope is born from a lack of knowledge of what makes a strong woman, what it truly means to be a man, and zero imagination. This character isn't even realistic, I don't care how tragic the backstory!

I do have to thank this trope for one thing: it forced me to dig deeper into my character's background and personality. Ember originally was beginning to look like this, so I quickly had to reevaluate her.  I'm happy with where she is now: she's sassy, fiery, strong-willed, and bratty. She can throw an ax and she is athletic thanks to spending most of her life outside and in a harsh environment. Yet, she gets excited when her hair in tangle-less and she can run her hands through it (that's a Kaycee-ism I gave her...). She likes new clothes. And she respects and loves the strong men in her life. I don't mean strong in the warrior princess way, but in a Biblical way.

Coal is not super athletic, though he can certainly hold his own in a fight. He never wavers in his faith in Elethor, and his determination to lead Ember to Him. He's kind and friendly. But he has his flaws, like everyone. He constantly fights hatred towards his enemies. He forces himself to be patient with Ember. He's a real human being who is trying as hard as he can. That's a real man to me.

Hail is the strongest physically of the trio, being a warrior, it makes sense. He relies on force and cunning in battle more than he does argument and debate, like Coal. I wouldn't say he's as clever as Coal is, but he's sensible and smart in his own ways. He struggles to find his faith, and he also tries to hide his past behind a mask of good deeds. He's way more flawed than Coal, but in my opinion, he's just as strong a man.

I don't have an issue with women being warriors in stories. I have an issue with them acting ridiculously "masculine". Eowyn is one of my favorite characters because she didn't go to war so she could kill things. She went to war because she felt like she could protect and honor Rohan best by fighting. Eowyn wears dresses, has long hair, and fully accepts the role of a Daughter of Kings even though she does not particularly like it. In the end, she falls in love and gets married. They move to Fangorn forest where they care for the Ents and live happily ever after. I love that. She and Faramir no doubt had many awesome adventures together, and she never gave up her femininity to do them.

I write for middle-schoolers. I think it's awesome if people older than 11-14 enjoy 'Ember Flame', but they're not really my priority. I purposefully make my themes and personalities a little "obvious" so it's easy for middle-schoolers to grasp without treating them like children. I need them to see that they can be who they are and still be strong. Girls don't need to act like "men" to be taken seriously. Feminism is a trait God gave women and yes, some women are more feminine than others. But no matter how feminine you are, it's not something to hide or be ashamed of. And boys don't need to be athletic to be strong. They don't even need to be cocky, mysterious, or book-smart. All they need is to follow Christ with all their heart and strive to obey His will. That goes for girls too.

The warrior princess is a sad demonstration on how warped society's view of women and strength currently is. Hopefully, people will realize how wrong this thought is and will stop creating masculine females. Do y'all have any opinions on the 'warrior princess'? I'd love to hear 'em! :)

Monday, February 17, 2014

A Disney Spectacle

You know, Mondays aren't so bad when you have a chocolate milkshake...and an amazing new blog header and design! Both the milkshake and the remodel came from my mom, so she's awesome and y'all should all think she's awesome. Let's just take a moment to think she's awesome.

Okay! Now onto the post!

I'm plotting and outlining Story D right now, gearing up for the rough draft. I'm pretty excited about it, but I've run into some interesting roadblocks. Not bad necessarily, just...interesting.

In my head, Story D has a very different feel than my Leverage series. It's much more contained-almost the entirety of the story taking place in one little town whereas Ember and co. traveled everywhere- but it also feels much... larger. I couldn't decide what I meant by "larger" until I was re-reading a screenwriting book. In film and plays, there needs to be something filmmakers call spectacle. Spectacle is the "thing" in movies and books that dazzles our eyes. It's the extreme and exaggerated additions, like dramatic weather during a battle scene or the sinister shadows that seem to follow the villain everywhere. I like to think of it as the unneeded, yet completely needed, additions to a movie.

In novels, there ought to be some form of spectacle. The Hunger Games wouldn't be the Hunger Games if all Katniss did was hide in a tree and eat squirrel. A wall of fire comes barreling towards her, wolf muttations chase her around the Cornucopia, the weather conditions change at extreme rates. All of these were created by the Gamemakers so the repulsive Captiol audience would have spectacle. But spectacle is not just from external variables, it comes from the characters too. The Hunger Games does a very good job with this as well. Katniss singing to Rue and putting flowers around her body, along with the three-fingered salute. Katniss choosing to drop the tracker jacker nest on the Careers. Katniss firing an arrow at the Gamemakers during her private session.

I've noticed that books don't often have too much of either of these spectacles. The Hunger Games trilogy is a rare exception, and perhaps that's why (in my opinion) it makes for better movies than it did books. But then, books don't need as much spectacle as movies do. Books are internal; we picture the actions and characters in our head, and often we know the character(s) thoughts. The cogitation required in reading a book removes the need for over-the-top dazzlement.

Movies need it though, because you don't need to think while watching a movie. You need to keep your eyes entertained, so screenwriters create extreme reactions and exaggerations...sometimes to help portray a character's thoughts, which you can't get in a movie.

To get off my rambling, Story D has a LOT more physical spectacle than the Leverage series does. My characters seem to take way more extreme actions (especially Miss Dacey...sigh...) and the emotions and reactions are more exaggerated. I don't want Story D to be unrealistic, but I need to write it true to my "movie" in my head for it to turn out right. So the solution? Research spectacle. And what better place to do it than Disney, the definition of extreme!

I'm a Disnerd. Always have been, always will be. I love Disney. One of the things that makes Disney amazing is their extreme spectacle. So I started looking through all my favorite Disney scenes to see what I could find.

First off, my favorite Disney scene EVER!

The weather and light were used to show the characters, Ariel and Eric's, thoughts and feelings. From Eric's POV, the bright light surrounding Ariel as she sings shows that 1. He's been unconscious and is just coming too, so his light perception is wrong and 2. that he his perception of Ariel shows her as perfect and angelic. The extreme light helps make his obsessive search for the "singing girl" less creepy and more romantic.

And then my favorite part, Ariel on the rock, is just incredible. It seems to demonstrate so much: her determination to live on land, her desire to be "above" the ocean, her reluctance to let the water wash over's beautiful and incredible and I've always loved this scene.

So to me, this scene shows that spectacle can be used to show a) a characters thoughts without telling them b) emotions without telling them and c) symbolism. Not to mention it just adds to the overall drama of the scene.

Okay, onto the next scene!

Sorry. I didn't want to make anyone cry. :'(

This clip used the same things 'The Little Mermaid' did (weather, light, etc) but they did some different things too. I liked how they used big empty spaces to show how empty Anna's life is without Elsa, and I liked how they used closed-off, claustrophobic rooms to show Elsa's loneliness. This contrasts their personalities perfectly. Anna wants Elsa to come out of her room to fill her light with love and fun again, while Elsa desperately wants to let Anna in, but she can't because she has to protect her. I think it adds to the painfulness of the scene in general. Also, Anna's personality is very extreme (riding her bike with one foot, sliding across the halls, bouncing excitedly, giving big hugs, "tick tock, tick tock, tick tock") which contrasts Elsa's not-extreme personality (tight curtsy, tiny gasps, the quiet whimper at the end that always kills me...) perfectly.

I love so much about this scene. First, which you don't see in the clip, is how the same spectacle shifts to different meanings. Right before this, Simba is in an epic battle with Scar and the rain is pouring. The rain adds to the drama and the tension of the battle. But then, in this clip, the rain is no longer a threat, but a "cleansing". It is cleansing the pridelands of Scar's tyranny, preparing them for Simba's rule.

I love how Simba is mostly expressionless during this scene, except for a thoughtful pause, and then the very Simba-ish smirk. It is the expressions on Zazu, Timon, Pumbaa, and Rafiki that demonstrate the conflicting emotions Simba must be feeling at this point. And then of course, the "circle of life" ending is perfect and awesome.

It's also unlikely that the pridelands, after so much devastation, could be returned to their former glory so quickly, but that is just to demonstrate how great a king Simba turned out to be.

Some of my other favorite clips include the Beast's transformation scene in 'Beauty and the Beast', 'Mother Knows Best' from Tangled, and the scene in 'The Jungle Book' when Bagheera and Mowgli think Baloo is dead.

These clips and others have helped me determine what the "spectacle" in Story D needs to look like for it to work. If y'all have any thoughts about spectacle in these clips, other Disney films, or just in general, feel free to share them! :)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

And This Is Why Characters Have Taken Over My Brain

Ello everyone! Since I am snowed in and bored out of my mind, I thought I would share how the physical attributes of my characters typically evolve. Now, we all know physical attributes are the least important part of characterization, but accurately picturing a character always helps me further create his/her backstory, personality, quirks, etc.

Every writer I've spoken to creates characters differently. This post is simply what almost always seems to happen to me personally. Hopefully, it will be entertaining, but I don't expect it to help you picture your characters. If it does, awesome! If not, I hope you still enjoy! :)

The first spark of a character idea typically comes from other characters. There I admitted it! My characters are originally based off of other characters! But by the time I finish everything, they are usually VERY different. If they are not drastically different from the character that inspired them, I scrap them. End of story. I'm not going to steal another writer's character. Good writing or acting just tends to inspire me, that's all.

Doc as portrayed by Val Kilmer
The example I will be using throughout this post is from my new story idea, that I will call Story D until I decide to announce the title. This character was inspired by Doc Holliday as portrayed by Val Kilmer in 'Tombstone'. Basically, the thought that ran through my mind was, "What would a female version of Doc be like?"

I started to think about her. I researched the real Doc Holliday and read about him. I already knew that the character's backstory was very different from Doc's, but it had similarities too. They were both rich by inheritance. Both are dying from a disease. Both are the equivalent of Southern genteel gone vagabond. Both are gamblers. But they had differences too. Doc was described by his friend Wyatt Earp as being "the nerviest, speediest, deadliest man with a six-gun I ever knew". I knew almost immediately that she would be fairly worthless in a fight. Her world has guns, but I didn't see her being exceptionally good at them. I think she would rely more on blackmail and magic in a fight-even if it means betraying her friends. Doc would have never betrayed his friends. She is in her early twenties, Doc was in his thirties. She is antagonistic towards people she should probably respect, Doc is lackadaisical unless someone threatens his friends.

I continued to think about her backstory and personality until she was very different from Doc. Once I was sure that I could keep her because she was different enough, I decided to name her. (It's kinda like in Monster's Inc. "Once you name it, you start getting attached to it!" It hurts to scrap characters I've already named.)

I knew her name had an "El" in it somewhere. It just fit. Elise? Too girly. Elle? Too simple. Eleanor? Too sophisticated. I also knew that I wanted her name to be hyphenated because many Southern women and girls have hyphenated first names. Her fantasy country is based on the South, so I felt like she should have a classic name, but with a twist. And an "El" in it. I also knew she needed a middle name, because again, trying to stick with Southern naming techniques. And I wanted her to have a funky last name because she was turning out to be a rather quirky character.

That's a lot of stipulations, but barriers always help me narrow down my choices. After about half an hour on, I finally had her complete name. I'll spare you all the tedious details of narrowing it down, and searching name meanings. In the end, her name was...

(last name pronounced TAM-EE-SIS)

I know, it's a mouthful. But I like it. It fits her very nicely. It also leaves room for the other characters to shorten it and call her different things, thus showing their personality as well. One character might call her "Ms. Tamesis" while another might just call her "Dacey". Obviously I won't do too many variations because I don't want it to get confusing, but it will work if I keep it limited.

Now I needed to know what she looked like. It's funny, after thinking about characters for so long, I tend to have an image in my head that I can't describe. It's like a foggy photograph that a camera sees clearly, but the photographer can't decipher. That's the best way I can describe it. And I've found, sitting down and typing out physical attributes I think I see in the photograph, just doesn't work. It leads to confusion and...wrongness. I need to get it right.

I'm not an artist, by any means, but my mom is and she has taught art classes for years. Everything from watercolor to acrylic to sketching to cartoons to manga. Manga is my favorite. It's easy to learn and I find it the most useful. Whenever I have a foggy character image in my head, I turn to manga. I grab a pen so I can't erase and I just let my hands draw without thinking about it.

I didn't have a pen when I sat down to do Dacey-Ellis (I was babysitting) but I did find a pencil missing an eraser which is the next best thing. After about fifteen minutes, this was the result.

Not a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, but it REALLY helped me. Her sloped in cheeks caused by the sickness that is killing her. Low-cut neckline (don't worry, she's NOT the hero lol). Heavy jewelry and makeup (lips always represent makeup to me for some reason. I don't know why). Ridiculous amount of necklaces, almost as if she's...flaunting? To who? Why? Hair piled on top of her head haphazardly with jewels randomly stuck in it. Fashionable, but she doesn't really care anymore. Because she's dying? Or something else? Or both?

As you can see, drawing the character helps me further the backstory and personality even more. Traits I didn't know she had suddenly appeared. Coy. Sneaky. Smart. But I wasn't done yet. I could end here, I suppose, but I like seeing a real person, not a sketch, as I write. Sometimes the character's face just pops in my head, even if I've never seen a picture of the face. Like Ember. I know exactly what she looks like, but I've never found a picture or seen anyone with her face. But that just wasn't happening with Dacey-Ellis. So I took to Pinterest and started scouring character boards to find someone who resembled my manga picture. Usually, it's people I've never seen before who are posing for photoshoots or something of that nature. Only occasionally is it someone recognizable. (Hail Frost looks like Richard Armitage)

Well, Dacey-Ellis was one of those "occasionally's" because she looks EXACTLY like Helena Bonham-Carter. Which is totally awesome because she's an amazing and quirky actress.

Helena Bonham-Carter

Well, I certainly hope this was entertaining. Characters are always fun to discover. I can't wait to write Story D and get to know Miss Dacey-Ellis Azalea Tamesis even better! :)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

I wish I was a "together" author...

...but I think I'm more of the "completely discombobulated all-over-the-place brainless" type.

No seriously. November was three months ago, and I've written only about 6,000 more words on Flake Frost. It's not that I've not been writing. But every time I go to write, I spend precious time having to look back at 'Ember Flame' and 'Hail Frost' while struggling to remember all the things that I have planned to edit on 'Hail Frost'. I discovered early on that it is nearly impossible (for me) to edit plot and character in a novel without writing the sequel. That is probably why 'Ember Flame' took so long. I had to write 'Hail Frost' so I had a basic idea of what was going to happen next.

Even as I wrote 'Hail Frost', I knew the story had a lot of issues. Lots of good stuff, but lots of issues too. I was okay with it. I just kept a notebook of things that would have to change to make it a better story. I figured I would fix it all after I wrote 'Flake Frost' because it would be easier.

Well, writing 'Flake Frost' has certainly helped me know where the characters and story are going, but now I can't finish 'Flake Frost' without getting 'Hail Frost' completely straightened out.

When I say 'Hail Frost' needs a lot of work, I mean I'm about to cut characters, add characters, change complete plot points, adjust world-building, and possibly even change the climax. I've heard this is a typical rough-draft editing load, but it's still overwhelming to me.

or while editing...

To attempt to land my turbulent rant, basically, I'm not writing Flake Frost any more and I am instead focusing on editing 'Hail Frost'. I doubt I'll continue writing the rough draft of 'Flake Frost' until after 'Hail Frost' is published. It's not so bad. I think I only have about 20,000 more words on 'Flake Frost', and I'm about to write the 'Black Moment' which could also be called 'The beginning of the end' so that should be pretty high-energy and easy to write once I understand what actually happened in 'Hail Frost'.

But here's the problem. I like editing (sometimes), I really do. But I need to write something at the same time. I have trouble focusing on important things like schoolwork, time management, and not turning into an angry hermit with social issues when I am not writing anything. So I need to write something.

Short stories are over too soon. Fanfiction, while fun, does not motivate me as much and I quickly lose interest. So I need to write a novel.

'Flake Frost' is impossible, which instantly makes anything that comes after it impossible. So what then?

The other night we were watching 'Tombstone', a movie that has long been one of my dad's favorites, and is now one of mine. Suddenly, while watching it, a brand new world and story just popped into my head.

I was a bit wary at first. Ideas that come while watching movies usually cannot be trusted. But after some re-imagining and actually will work. And it's a standalone novel, so I don't have to worry about writing two series at once. I'm pretty excited.

So, to summarize this long and boring post: 'Flake Frost' is on hold, editing for 'Hail Frost' has begun, and the outlining for a brand new novel has also begun! Hurrah! I'll tell more about the new novel once I actually start writing it.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

In Which My Brother Creates An Analogy

Excerpts from the life of Me



English had finally finished. I wobbled out of the doors, my enormous book bag pulling all 5'3'' of me to the right. Stumbling down the stairs, I glanced up and saw the minivan parked directly in front of me. I noticed that my mom sat in the driver's seat, and, with a slight huff, I noticed my little brother claimed shotgun. The automatic door opened and I watched my reflection slide away, opening to the gray interior of the vehicle. 

My little brother chuckled as I catapulted the bag off my shoulder and onto the nearest seat. I maneuvered my way to the backseat on the right-the seat I only use when both parents are in the car, or when my little brother decides to forget his place (which, by the way, is supposed to be the backseat on the left. In the back. On the left. Staring out the window with the dachshund snot coating the glass. That's his place). 

Kyle, my little brother, seems to think that just because he's now 6 freaking feet tall, he suddenly gets new "rights" and "privileges" that I do not recall signing off on. Rights like making fun of my tastes just because they're more sophisticated than his. (If it weren't for me, he would not know the amazingness of shows like 'Sherlock' and 'Doctor Who'. He'd just sit there in his recliner watching 'Lost'...and he'd enjoy it! *shudder* Really, I've done that boy a favor and all he does is laugh.) Privileges like taking my self-designated spot in the car.

I cast a glare in his direction, when my gaze caught on the incredible sight of a large Chick-Fil-A Styrofoam cup, inevitably filled with sweet tea. I grinned. "Is it my birthday?" I said, in the nerdy whine of Iron Man 2's villain. Mom laughed and handed the drink to me, and my brother tossed back a chocolate-chip cookie. 

Fine. I suppose he could sit in my spot just this once.

I tore into the cookie, detailing the events of English between bites. Mom said her usual questions, and I said my usual answers ("Good. Good. Yeah. Interesting. Romeo's a moron. Yeah, it was fine. I think I prefer using gerunds to participial phrases. They're easier to spot because they look like verbs but they act as nouns, whereas participial phrases look like verbs but act like adjectives. I don't think they tend to add as much overall. And then we get to infinitives..." The questions seem to stop after about this point.)

The conversation moved on to the babysitting job I had had the night previous. I had babysat my cousins, and after my aunt returned, we had a nice, long conversation completely bashing 'The Desolation of Smaug' together. I love my aunt.

Anyway, I had begun to rant again, but my brother interrupted me. "You know," He said, taking a swig of his drink. "If the third one happens to be any good, Kara and Kristin are going to have to see the second one."

I snorted. "No, they won't have to." I didn't voice this opinion, but I am a firm believer in the 'book first' idea. My sisters could just read the book.

"Yeah, they kinda will," My brother replied evenly, taking another sip. 

I glared at the back of his curly head. He really shouldn't be in that seat... "Then we can just fast forward most of the movie, play it at the dragon part, and then fast-forward the utterly ridiculous action that follows."

Kyle shifted around to face me. He grinned. He knew I was irritated. "Why don't you let them see the movie and then form their own opinions about it?"

I glared until my eyes were nearly slits. Kyle simply smiled cheekily. He knew he had me trapped. If I continued to argue, he would accuse me of being a democrat. Not exactly a logical deduction given the argument, but I didn't want to open that tomb of doom. If I quit talking, I admitted defeat though. I don't get defeated, and in the moments I do, I don't admit it. 

However, there was no chance I could lose here. I knew Kara and Kristin had the good sense not to like the Desolation of Smaug... a good sense that, I knew, had been influenced by my constant ranting. 

"Yeah, I guess you're right," I replied, sighing for affect. "You'll have to find some chance to rent it and then watch it without me around. Although I might have tainted their opinions a bit." I attempted a sheepish smile, but I'm sure it looked more like a smirk. Acting has never been my strong suit. 

Kyle laughed ruefully. "Tainted? Are you serious?" Kyle held out both hands, his fingers curled so they looked vaguely like cups. "Imagine Kara and Kristin's opinions are two little glasses of pure, crystal water." Placing the glasses on an invisible table, he moved his arms, pantomiming carrying something huge and heavy on his shoulder. He pretended to pound the imaginary glasses with the enormous invisible object. "You have taken five gallons of black paint and dumped it over the glasses."

I stared at him for a long moment. He continued his demonstration. 

It was true. The whole thing was true. 

I burst into laughter, nearly coughing up the sweet tea I had just swallowed. I laughed and laughed, vaguely aware of Mom laughing too. 

Kyle knows me way too well. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Writing Tidbit #4- Dialogue

When writing dialogue, always try to keep in mind the character's educational background. Social status is a similar idea to remember. Those with more education generally tend to speak in more complex sentences and have a larger vocabulary. The following is from Shakespeare's 'Romeo and Juliet'. Juliet has faked her death and the Capulet household has just discovered her seemingly dead body.

Romeo and Juliet- Act 4, Scene 4, Lines 72- 84

Lady Capulet

Accursed, unhappy, wretched, hateful, day!
Most miserable hour that e'er time saw
In lasting labor of his pilgramage.
But one, poor one, one poor and loving child,
But one thing to rejoice and solace in,
And cruel death had catched it from my sight!


O woe! O woeful, woeful, woeful day!
Most lamentable day, most woeful day
That ever, ever, I did yet behold!
O day, O day, O day, O hateful day!
Never was seen so black a day as this.
O woeful, O woeful day!

I'm sure you can see the point I'm trying to make. The Nurse uses considerable lower vocabulary than Lady Capulet. And yes, the Nurse was closer to Juliet than Lady Capulet ever was, but their different words of mourning are still worth noting.