Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I'm In AP Heaven

I officially love AP History.

I hate it, too--there's an awful lot of reading, and our textbook is about as exciting as watching snot congeal. Plus, I refuse to let myself skim over the chapters just to find the stuff to answer the question we have every day, unlike at least half my class. Anyway, that's not the point--sorry for the tangent.

So, today we were talking about the Revolutionary War (the American one). I don't quite remember what we were talking about at the moment of my breakthrough (though I still managed to write it down in my notes). Anyway, I got to daydreaming about the world I'm currently building, and discovered a new piece of history.

My world now includes--at one point in history, anyway--the vast Gora Empire.

I'd also gotten the idea for the Border Wars from that class.

So, however much I hate having 2+ hours of reading every night, it's totally worth it. My world is really fleshing out.

Ahh... I love history...

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Psychopathic Trends

In the past two months, I've started several stories featuring psychopaths. One story features two psychopaths, both of whom think they're vampires. One story technically features a sociopath, but for the purpose of this post, I'm lumping psychopaths and sociopaths into the same little category. I've gotten a few ideas for shorter works that also feature crazies in one form or another.

I'm also, apparently, cursed. My creative writing teacher gave us a prompt the other day wherein she effectively had us draw a character type out of a hat and try to flesh out a character that fits the type. Guess what I drew? A psychopath.

Oy, oy, oy.

It started with the guy who thought he was a vampire. Then another one joined the party. And they just kept stacking up.

Sometimes I worry about my state of mind.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Vampires and Hypocrisy

This is not another badly-disguised rant about vampires. I reallyreally promise.

Sometime last school year--maybe halfway through second semester--I created a story with a theatre troupe consisting (mostly) of "vampires". There's not a better word for them, just because they have a disease wherein they need to ingest large quantities of hemoglobin in order to live. Yeah, yeah, I'm a hypocrite. That's not the point, though.

So, what is my point?

Well, the two main characters--two of three, anyway--are Reg and Belinda, the leaders of the theatre troupe (Reg formed it at Belinda's insistence). They're also my favorite characters in the book--not that that says much, seeing as how I really only have three other characters in the story at the moment. Anyway, these two just *happened* to sidle into my thoughts the other day.

So, naturally, I walked up to them (in my head) and demanded to know if they were going to start pulling the same crap that certain *other* characters have pulled in the past. Namely, changing their storyline over and over until it doesn't resemble in any way, shape, or form the original storyline. This has happened with two certain characters in the past--manymany times. Perhaps it's a bit premature to worry about it now, considering nothing of the sort has really happened.

My paranoia knows no bounds. Dramatic sigh... Belinda, Reg, why do you incite my paranoia so? Why must you torture me? Melodramatic sigh...

Monday, August 24, 2009

Bouncing Back: The Week from Hell

Whew! This past week has been a nightmare.

My house has two working computers and assorted desktops that probably haven't worked since the Lithuania sank. One of those computers has Internet access; the other one--mine, and the better one, or it would be if it wasn't slow all the time--doesn't. My mom is currently working towards a degree so she can get a better job, etc.

This last week marked: A) the last week of the semester for one online college; B) the first (full) week of her work; and C) the first week of the semester at her new online college. The set of courses that ended last week included some major projects involving a lot of work time, such as a fifteen-page paper on a Shakespeare play of some sort.

Mom also took the computer with her (it's a laptop) to work so she could get school work done whenever possible (she works for the school district at the bus lot). So, even though I get home a few hours before she does, I couldn't sneak on before doing homework. Not that I could have wrenched it away from my brother, but...

Luckily, though, I managed to get a half-hour or so when my mom and brother went out to do errands, which was just enough to get my AW blog chain post up.

Hopefully I'll be on more regularly now. Whether or not I'll have much to blog about, writing-wise, is up for debate, but I'll at least have Internet access. This is a good thing for me; I practically live off of AW's writing resources.

Ahh... Hell hath no fury like a writer scorned...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Absolute Write: August Blog Chain

I'm sure I've mentioned Absolute Write before. If I haven't, shame on me. AW, as it's affectionately called, is a writer's forum and probably one of the best resources on the Internet. Some AWers have started up an August blog chain, in a sort of Q&A format.

The question I'm to blog about comes from JamieMT of The Variety Pages. Ahem: If you could see into the future, and found out that you would never be published, would you keep writing? How would it change the way you write, or would it?

Now, this is a fascinating question. Honestly, I don't think it would affect me so much at the moment. I write wholly for pleasure. If I were currently in the habit of writing more, and more often, I might cut down on the writing time.

My dream is to one day be able to live off my writing. Naturally, if I were to discover without a doubt that I would never publish, that would put a big damper on my plans. I don't have a clue what I'd decide to do instead. If I decided to do something that required a huge time commitment--like, say, theatre, not that I'm saying I'm a good actress or anything--I'd likely have to cut down my writing time. At the moment, that's a bad thing. I write little enough as it is. I don't need to give myself more excuses to procrastinate. Get that story written, dangit!

This discovery wouldn't change how I write at all. I write like I eat: I dive headfirst and don't sit there, planning out how I'm going to eat, what size bites I'll take, how fast I'll chew, how many times I'll chew before I swallow, et cetera. This has been causing plenty of problems for me with my current scifi project, because all the little details I *could* put in a notes folder tend to find their way, info-dump-like, into the exposition. Thank heaven for revision...

Anyway. Long story short: I might write less, but I'd still write. The way I write wouldn't change at all.

Huh. I'm suddenly struck by the way I seem to be able to write a long rant about something I can rephrase in just a few words... maybe that's why I get good grades in English. My teachers see a solid wall of text, and they think, I don't want to read this; let's just slap something on there and call it good. Where's my random letter generator?

I digress.

My question for the next poster, ealexis of Evie Alexis: The Obsessive Writer: What, in your opinion, makes your writing stand out? How?

I apologize if my question is very stupid (or, as people with my limited knowledge of Japanese might say, totemo baka). I apparently suck at trying to figure out what sorts of questions fit which people...

Here's the list of the other peeps involved in the blog chain, and in order:

Claire Crossdale http://theromanticqueryletter.blogspot.com
razibahmed http://www.blogging37.com/
aimeelaine http://www.aimeelaine.com/
bsolah http://benjaminsolah.com/blog
dnic http://four-lettered-words.blogspot.com/
JamieMT http://thevarietypages.blogspot.com
LiliCray http://mutteringsofascribe.blogspot.com
ealexis http://eviealextheobsessivewriter.blogspot.com/
errantruth http://www.sputnitsa.wordpress.com
Lady Cat http://randomwriterlythoughts.blogspot.com
Proach http://desinfocenter.blogspot.com/
Simran http://dark-horse-adaptations.blogspot.com
lostwanderer5 http://www.lostwanderer5.blogspot.com
Forbidden Snowflake http://www.alleslinks.com
coryleslie http://corrinejackson.wordpress.com/
Angyl78 http://jelyzabeth.wordpress.com/
Bookdragonette http://pannarrans.wordpress.com/
RavenCorinnCarluk http://ravencorinncarluk.blogspot.com

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Lives of Characters

So. Two things have inspired me to write this post.

One: This post by sputnitsa. 'Tis a fascinating read.

Two: I was fixing the grammar in an online article that I wanted to print out and put into my "Resources" binder, and Word 2007 kept wanting me to change "who" to "that" in the context where "character" was the subject. Now, I almost never listen to Word's grammatical advice anyway, but it sure got me thinking. Why can't you call a character a "who?" What's wrong with it? Characters are people, too. I mean, they may not physically exist, but... they don't know that! Hehe.


I have a tendency to find characters that feel very real to me. It's not uncommon for a character to get into fight with me about what they want to do versus what I think they should do. Of course, they always win (except in the case of two particular characters who have lost the privilege to win seeing as how their freaking storyline keeps changing all over the place...).

Characters generally "appear" to me fully-fleshed. I mean, as fleshed out as I get them before writing them. I don't do much to "discover" characters before writing--I prefer discovering them as I write. I feel like I can't get a true feel of who they are except through actually writing.

It's a rare day when I have to really think about the sort of character I need. I'm really lucky like that, I think. I just wish I had the skill to make my readers feel the same way I do about my characters... le sigh.

However, naming characters often throws me for a loop.

I have a really bad habit of not seriously delving into a project unless all the main characters have their "right" names. One story I'm working on hasn't progressed much for this reason--I have the name for the male protagonist, but the female protagonist hasn't yet given me her name. She's tentatively taken the name "River," but it doesn't feel right.

This is also an issue in a sci-fi thing I'm working on at the moment. I just started writing it yesterday. I've got three character names so far, all of which came without a problem (although, unfortunately, one of the characters dies in the first scene...). The main antagonist has no name yet. It's very frustrating. It doesn't help that the nameset so far is a bit difficult to fit other names into... I've got Adella, Thalisyn (nicknamed Thalli), and Teryn. Adella's got the last name Kessyn. And I'm having a heckuva time finding a good antagonist name to fit in with that set...

In case anyone's wondering, it's Adella who dies. I cried when it happened. I really liked her....

The Joys of Writing

I'm very proud of myself. I've managed to write at least 10k in the past month. I think it's more like 12 or 14k, but I haven't actually counted it up.

However, I'm only keeping about 4k of it so far. The other 6k+ went to the "Old Versions" folder.

Is this common? Do writers often find that they discard as much as they keep?

By the time I manage to finish a good-sized work, I have a feeling my discarded words will have increased dramatically. But, funnily enough, I don't really see it as a waste, either of time or effort. All writing helps a person increase their abilities. Besides that, most of what I've discarded so far is complete and utter drivel.

Although, at least half of what I've written for one particular story is info-dump, which I'll definitely have to cut before it's finalized. Oh, well.

Someone said, "I love writing. It's the paperwork I can't stand." I don't remember who. I'm not sure if the person meant, like, contracts or something, or if he/she meant the actual putting-words-on-paper part. I've always thought the latter. If so...

I can totally relate.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Wonderful World of Vampires

...sort of. I promise to keep this one short. (I apologize in advance for the rantiness. My next post won't be a rant--really.)

Now, we all know these modern super-hot vamps that've been floating around lately. The ones that regular humans fall in love with. The ones that angst! About! Their immoral! Situation! And maybe their lost soul!

Seemingly without fail, these beings are described as "perfect." Right. 'Cause no one would fall in love with them if they weren't, huh?

Now, when you take a look at the original vampire--and I don't mean Dracula, although at least he never "fell in love" with his human food--what do you see? Not super-sexy angsters. Scary things. Creatures that rose from the grave to return and suck blood from innocent villagers. Evil beings. Things that couldn't handle crosses and stuff like that.

Most modern vamps never even mention crosses. They'll mention mirrors. Sunlight, sometimes (Look, Ma! I glitter!). Stakes, ocassionally. Fire, usually. Some types of vamps are absolutely impossible to kill except with one certain method (Look, Ma! I can pull pieces of myself back together!). Remember the original vampires? Weaknesses: crosses, stakes, sunlight, fire. People--regular humans--could kill them if the stars aligned properly and they actually tried. Certain "modern" vamps? Weaknesses: Maybe fire. Maybe a stake or two. Or maybe they're practically invulnerable. Regular humans don't stand a chance against the "modern" vampire.

To be fair, Dracula had some sort of trance thing that pretty much made it impossible to fight against him. But, then again, he didn't like garlic, did he?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Ten Major Query Offenses

Someone posted about this on Absolute Write. It turned out to be so interesting that I couldn't resist doing a double-post today.

This blog post, by Tumblemoose from Tumblemoose Writing Services, is a list of querying offenses that, most likely, afflict every writer at one point or another. At least, some of them do. Sometimes unavoidably--even the best writers can't catch every typo.

Comical, a good read, and overall quite insightful.

Magic Bites

So, besides writing, my great passion is reading. Pretty much, if I'm not writing (which, unfortunately, happens more than I'd like it to), I'm reading. From time to time, I encounter one of those great page-turners that really leave an impression on me.

Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews is one of these books--for me, anyway. It's book I of the Kate Daniels series, which currently consists of three books and had better be coming out with a fourth soon... or else I'll cry. Horribly. For days and days and days. And then feel like an idiot...

Without further ado, I'd like to present a book review of Magic Bites. I tried not to include spoilers, but... (Oh, and here you can find Ilona Andrews' site.) Well, that was mostly a bit of ado about nothing (see what I did there?), but now, without any further ado (really!), I present Lilli's official Magic Bites review! (Hey... where'd those crickets come from?)

I have to admit that, at the moment, one of my favorite parts about this book is the vampire concept. I’m sick to death of those modern super-hot-sexy vampires with the smoldering eyes and the marble skin and the glittery stalker aspects, and Andrews’ take on the vampire is a refreshing break. Vamps in Kate Daniels’ alternate-universe Atlanta aren’t, by any stretch of the imagination, sexy. Nothing but skin, muscle, and bones, if they don’t have a necromancer telepathically controlling them, the vampires kill anything that bleeds, driven by pure bloodlust. No thinking for them, which also means no angsting or moaning about the immorality of their unfortunate situation. Not to mention, most if not all vamps are created voluntarily.

Of course, that’s not even really a huge deal at this point in the series. Whether or not vampires become one remains to be seen.

Kate Daniels is a wisecracking, blade-crazy mercenary with the talent to annoy everyone around her to either death or attempted homicide. The whole tough-Amazon thing might be a bit stereotypical nowadays, but Kate’s characterization is so masterfully done that one can’t help but forgive her for that. Every instance of dialogue is peppered with sarcastic asides that really bring the story to life. It helps that Andrews is a great writer in her own right.

Me being the grammar Nazi that I am, I couldn’t help but notice a few instances where someone failed to put a comma. The shapeshifter concept also threw me for a bit of a loop—shifters in the Daniels universe are exceedingly powerful and most end up being pretty good-looking, too. Normal humans don’t stand a chance against them unless they’re armed with silver. Lots and lots of silver. But, considering there’re a lot of other things lurking in AU Atlanta that could give the shifters a run for their money, the unnatural strength makes a bit more sense.

I read this book ages ago, and rereading it was quite an experience. For one thing, I’d forgotten quite a few things that happen—including the false climax. I say “false climax;” I mean that what you think should be the final showdown isn’t. Not that one could really expect it to be, considering it happens in the middle of the book, and very few books have resolutions that double the book’s size. Still, I was a bit surprised when the Big Battle came and it turned out there were still loose ends.

Not to mention that I’d forgotten who the bad guy ended up being. I went through almost the whole book thinking that one particular character was the ultimate evil mastermind, and ended up being completely disappointed. Well, not quite disappointed, since I kind of liked that character, but I digress. I actually felt guilty for thinking this guy was a criminal. A very minor, cameo character also appeared, and I didn’t feel guilty at all for hating him; he turns out to be quite the little *euphemism deleted for wimpiness; insert appropriately angry term here* in the second book of the series. Again, I digress. Alas. Woe is me. Or… digression is me. Meh. Whatever.

Ilona Andrews became one of my favorite writers within the first five pages, the first time I read Magic Bites. Kate Daniels became one of my favorite fictional characters at the same time. I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who likes fantasy, or anyone who wants to read something for the heck of it.

Finally, I apologize for opening this review with a not-so-subtle vampire rant. I’m being saturated with vamps of all shapes and sizes at the moment, and most of those shapes are so-called “perfect.” It’s driving me nuts.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Introductions are in Order

I'm one of those socially awkward people whose talent seems to be invisibility. But that's not my defining trait. My "defining trait" is writing.

I am a writer. Writing is my pride and joy, my future career, my life. I adore writing. I adore creating characters and worlds, I adore exploring worlds and stories. Sometimes the words flow somewhat easily; sometimes I have to drag them out of my brain, bucking and hollering. Sometimes I like my characters. Sometimes my characters are annoying pests who hands-down refuse to back off and leave me alone. Sometimes people think I'm completely insane.

I've been truly serious about writing for nigh on five years, now, but it's only been in the past year and a half or so that I've started to notice how much I'm improving. Starting around about fifth grade, I began writing an "epic" fantasy story; I finished it in seventh grade. Turns out, it's the most melodramatic, coincidental, contrived, plotless piece of drivel I've ever made. When I read it, I cringe so much my face gets stuck in that position for a week. But that's a good sign--I know I've improved.

This blog's purpose is mainly for writing about writing, and about books in general. I'll try very hard to keep the ranting to a minimum--editing's a great tool for this.

So, that's the lowdown. Me = writer. Blog = stuff about writing and books. Pretty simple, ne?