Category Archives: fantasy

Friday Link Pack: 3/28/14

It has been two weeks too long for one of these. I am still super happy that K.M. Alexander asked me to fill in for him during February, and I hope to continue this tradition as well. I had a hard time remembering what posts I thought were outstanding this week, so the list below is only composed of those that I do recall being exceptional. I will do a better job bookmarking the links I need throughout the week.

Writing:

Terribleminds has a “Five Things I Learned Writing….” series that is awesome! Two that I read this week really resonated with me:

Adam Christopher writes about ensuring that you werite what you love and story concerning yourself with staying in-genre. If you’ve followed my blog at all, you will know that I struggle with this. I always want to write what I love, but I was trying to force everything into the Fantasy genre. Once I stopped that, a bit of magic happened and I am much happier with what I am writing. I know that I will get ‘back’ to the Fantasy genre that I know, love, and aspire to write in, but for now, I just need to write what inspires me.

Wendy Wagner teaches us that babies are not for eating. Also, that you need to leave room for characters, good or bad, to be hated but not abandoned to sheer hopelessness for being saved. If your character becomes a ‘zombie’, as she puts it, there will be no reason not to destroy every single part of it – there is no redeeming quality left. I love this idea, because not every villain is totally black-hearted and evil. Backstory can create sympathy and tension. To take it a step further, in the pilot for Walking Dead, there is the scene where the mom is a zombie, and Morgan Jones watches her through the scope of his hunting rifle. The wife is a zombie, there is no saving her. She must die. Do not let your villains or antagonists get to this point.

Four Secretes From My Writing Process

Lauren Sapala is a name that I bring up often. That will not change. You need to follow her. Anyways, she was asked to do a blog hop and reveal four hidden truths of her writing process. It was incredible insightful. More importantly, it motivated her to share even more of herself with us on this post.

Random:

Fireside Magazine Year 3 Kickstarter

I admit to never having subscribed to, or even heard about, this magazine until now. I am excited for what their mission is: “We have two goals: finding and publishing great storytelling regardless of genre, and fair pay for creators.” This is an endeavor every writer should back.

Aether Magic by Happy Mitten Games

This is an amazing game. I have play-tested it with Jeff, Lee, and Kyle. I am also intimately connected to the project, and am proud of what it has become. If you are into board games at all, you should listen to HMG’s podcast – the talent that they interview is pretty outstanding. Follow them @HappyMitten as well.

 

Farewell Gif of the Week:

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NaNoWriMo: Reflection of Longhand & Snippet

Today was a total shocker for me – a revelation. Although I did not write anything towards my novel today, I just finished estimating my word count thus far towards my NaNoWriMo goal of 50k words. I say that I estimated because I am doing quite a bit of my writing longhand. It is working out swimmingly for me, to be honest. My thoughts flow better. I am able to think two steps ahead due to the length in which it takes to physically write each word down. I am also completely free of my external editor. There are no squiggly red lines that appear under my typos when I write longhand. There more no rude green sirens that proclaim a dangling participle. There is just me, the designated color ink for each character (Sharpie pens are the greatest writing instrument alive), and the faint-lined grid of the paper in my journal. I am free to fragment. I am free to run on and on and on. I am free to discover my voice without a robot parsing me its rules.

What I am living most about he longhand process, though, is the surprise it grants me when I do an assessment of my word count. I am figuring a modest seven words per line in my writing, because it is compact and small. I am figuring roughly 38 lines of writing per page. That is a total of 266 words per page. I rounded down to 250 for ease of quick counting. With this completely off base calculation in which the odds will be forever in my favor, I have handwritten a total of 6,850 words thus far. Plus, I have typed 5,831. That gives me a total greater than 12k words, and I am so damn happy about it. NaNoWriMo says that I am still behind. Fine. I say that I am just building up steam, getting readying for my travels home. Four hours of hurtling through the atmosphere at 30k feet can do wonders for my word count. A few days back in my hometown, bellied up to one of my favorite pubs can do the same. I plan on winning NaNo while I am in Grand Rapids, if I don’t do so while inflight on my way there.

The trouble will be to get the words that are written longhand typed up for submission to NaNo. I thought, with some modicum of interest, that if I calculate a more precise word count for my written words, that I could just redundantly copy and paste what I have typed up already into the NaNo word count analyzer. Does that work? Wild you think it was cheating? Its not like I am doing it to boost my count, just delay the process in which I transfer the words from paper to pixel. What are your thoughts?

So I leave you with a snippet of my mentor character in reflection to days gone by.

November 8th

As her mouth opened to speak, a flush of liquid heat welled in Weald’s gut. It spread through his chest and cheeks. He had known what she was on the verge of saying – the commitment she was going to make. Weald was going to hate her for doing so.
“Weald, dear.” Her words were flacid and false.
His hand shot up, fingers outstretched and palm facing the two adults.
“Stop.” It wasn’t a plea. It was an order.

Weald remembered with fondness that this was the moment in which he became a man. His voice did not waiver, let alone crack with pubescent uncertainty.

“I am going to fix this.” His voice chased away any doubt like the wind through fallen leaves.
“Timmins.” His eyes were tight with determination.
“We do not need your help. You may go.”
Timmins’ eyebrows peaked in disbelief.
“Excuse yourself, boy.” The last word was nearly spat with contempt.
“You are not my master, nor the master of this house. You would do well to consider your words.”
He stuck a finger into Weald’s face. Daphne let out a squeak of shock. Without thought, Weald’s own hand danced out, snagging and twisting the finger until the crunching sound rippled through his hand.
“You stick anything of yours out around here again and I keep to Lloraya that you will lose it. Let Ellalyn wear a ring for it.”
His promise had been made with double gravity. He had evoked both Lloraya and Ellalyn. In Lamil, there was little else that could be done to ensure understanding.

NaNoWriMo: Day 6 – Breakthrough and Snippet

So Wednesday was a pretty great day for me, some of it’s greatness was even writing related. I spent the morning having breakfast (there was pumpkin pie involved) with the fantastic and NSFW (or virginal eyes) Author Claudia. We talked NaNo a lot. We talked through the progress made thus far.

Then she let me vent. She is a fantastic therapist. I talked about my frustrations – not even including how badly she is tanning my ass in word count thus far – and what I was getting hung up on. I acknowledged that my story arc was thin. Three of the major events are the MCs fleeing. That just isn’t good enough. I want depth. I want sinuous strands of intricacies woven tight like a survival bracelet. I want more than I am able to write, and that is the problem.

Claudia’s response? “Where’s the egg? You need to find your egg.”

I was puzzled. She could tell.

“You are making meatloaf.” [sidenote: this fatboy definitely loves meatloaf] “You have the meat. You have the breadcrumbs. You need the egg. The binder to hold everything together.”

::facepalm::

I never thought about it like that. I have heard people talk about writing as a formula – hell, I started writing a romance novel in college because the prescribed formula was just so ‘easy’ when it clung in dusty strokes on the chalkboard – yeah, you heard me right…chalkboard. However, I haven’t thought about it in terms of cooking, which is near and dear to my heart.

So, after some discussion, I realized that the group opposing the church that my MCs eventually defect to, in order to help defeat the church, was cardboard. So I thought in bigger terms, citing Rothfuss’s use of the Fae and Sanderson’s creation of the Parshendi. I needed another race. I have grappled with the idea of different races in my novel, mainly due to the fact that I am using the homebrew world that I built for my formerly long-standing D&D campaign. In that context, there are orcs, half-orcs, elves, gnomes, etc. that populate the land of Cildaire. I don;t seem to run into any of them while running this novel, and I am not sure if that is a good or bad thing.

Anyways, I have now been working on the group that I have started referring to as the Daear (Gaelic for Earth I believe) and they are one with nature. I hope to high hell that I do not write them into a stereotype. I would hate myself if they read as Native Americans I have a lot of work to do with them still, but I wanted to offer a snippet of my rough writings from yesterday – the day in which I got words on the page after a two day hiatus.

November 6th

As outsiders, Parl and Purl were forced to the back, behind the elongated skulls of the [Daear]. They could see the center of the ring, flickering with shadows that twirled and danced. The Elder, as she was known, was adorned with long strings of precious gems, bits of bone, twines of vine, and various clusters of natural materials. The necklaces hung heavily from her tanned neck to her dirty knees. They came together, forced into constriction between bare breasts elongated from lack of confining support.

It had taken Parl nearly two days to control his adolescent giggles at the sight of exposed breasts – he was still struggling with control over his untimely risings.

NaNoWriMo: Day Two – Update and Snippet

Today was a bit more flimsy than yesterday. I wasn’t as productive, yet I still exceeded the average daily amount factored for the entire month. I am not sure that will be enough though, what with my holiday travel plans. Here’s to hoping that tomorrow is better – even with the interruption of Endger’s Game in the IMAX at 2:00.

I have a snippet – this is the first time that I have explored my MC, Parl, losing his mind and unleashing his magic for the first time. The scene was intense, and I am sure that I am quite far away from it being as eloquent and terrifying as it needs to be. This paragraph came towards the end of today’s writing, and that is why I think it has stuck out as one of the better sections.

Katrissa’s face drained of all color as she watched Parl burn chunks of hair and flesh from his scalp. Bile rose in her throat. Behind Parl, the bushes were now igniting, spiderwebs of fire spreading out along tight, gnarled branches within the larger shapes of the pruned perimeter. His face was maniacal, twisted in a rage that bespoke heartbreak and terror. She remembered that face well. It was the face father wore when mother jumped on the back of a horse and rode away nearly twelve years ago. It was an expression that would fade into the recesses of the eyes, but never leave. It was the face that paced back and forth, waiting for some calling, little or not, to bring it back out of the den of calm and into the black night of rage.

Finally, a breakthrough!

This weekend was shot…or so I thought. Friday night was wasted in video games and such. TheWife wasn’t feeling well, so she laid down after we got home and I fired up the trusty, mind-numbing complete and utter distraction that is my PS3. Damn I love that thing. Friday night passed and I sort of felt guilty. The only reason that I felt guilty is that my writing group, as small in number and immeasurably great in awesomeness that they are, had a challenge on the table to write 2000 words by Sunday night. I was about 1700 words away from meeting that challenge because I did a little bit of writing on my flights to and from Seattle earlier in the week.

Saturday was another wasted day as my PS3, evil seductress that she is, beckoned me unto her almost as soon as I woke up. I played until TheWife and I headed out to Costco to take care of the Necessaries. Lunch was had, vitamin D was absorbed, and we came back home in time for me to head out and see a movie with my brother and father-in-law. I will not name the movie because you, if having seen it, will either love it or think that I am a total deviant for having watched it. Saturday was capped off with dinner and birthday party for my sister-in-law. Pizza and karaoke were had (and a beer or two) and I knocked the dust off of my karaoke boots with a spot on performance of Ice Ice Baby.

This morning was incredible, as TheWife and I headed downtown for the Utah Art Fest. It was a great time and really struck a chord with me to get my ass in gear. These artists were not only hawking the fruit of their loins, but they were making money at it as well. I saw some of them, even in 90+ degree heat, working on future works of art. We ate, I drank another beer, and then we rested under a tent where a delicate, squeaky voiced girl read four pages of her work aloud to an audience. She was twelve or thirteen tops, and sounded like she had already found her voice as a fledgling writer. I envied her. Then I had to leave because my frustration in myself was boiling over to the point where I could not enjoy listening to her any more.

I chalked this weekend up as a total failure. A loss. A disappointment. Then, at 7:58 pm I received and email from ShanShan toting her claim to 2040 words written this week. Then John Stamos replied and toted his 2400 words for the week. I do not have words for the emotion that I felt. It was a hodgepodge of fear, depression, excitement (genuine and completely for them), and motivation – it also came to me in the squeaky, high-pitched voice of a pubescent girl for some reason.

So, after watching MasterChef with TheWife – I know, it sounds like another distraction which is completely true, but one of my other unfulfilled dreams in life is to be a chef, so I chalk it up as research – I began transferring some of my writing from my Seattle trip to Scrivener. Things began to flow. I pulled a nugget of inspiration from a prompt that I created for a game, plucked it into my general idea for a prologue, and off I went. I had a breakthrough. And even though it took me almost three hours, I had 2189 words down in something that I think has potential and that I am proud of.

While writing this, it also occurred to me that I created my blog this week and that in the forty minutes that it took me to write this post, I have pounded out another 640+ words. Adding in my other blog posts for the week, I am looking at a grand total of 3494+ complete!

That makes me incredibly happy (note: this final sentence not counted towards final word count)!