I Have a Tumblr! (But I Will Only Use This Power for Good)

So yeah, got some housekeeping news. And I’ve got a Tumblr page now! Though I’m surprised it took me this long. (Actually my biggest fear was that it would be too big of a time suck–swear though, that won’t be the case!) Though I’m just in it for the fandom posts and anime and manga goodies. And explaining to people why they’re wrong about the two characters they shipped, and that you are obviously right. Or entertaining myself in the grocery store line instead of picking at that latest Sudoku puzzle I haven’t finished solving.

I’ve also revisited my Goodreads page, and being that it’s spent years in disuse, I’ve been slowly working to update it (cause I’ve definitely read more than 37 books).

Additionally, I’ve added a link to my page on Pinterest, which I’m also rebuilding. And I’ve included some links to three different channels on YouTube (Overly Sarcastic Productions, Terrible Writing Advice, and one for Jenna Moreci, author of Eve the Awakening) that give some great writing and storytelling advice and info in rather amusing ways. So next time you’re tooling on YouTube, when you should be writing, you can totally say it’s for research! (No wait that’s bad advice.)

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I’ll also be putting up a link to an Anime Amino page possibly if it strikes my fancy. But for now, I think we’re good.

So check out the updated links page, and in the meantime, there’s a reconstruction of my articles page in the works, featuring articles I’ve written for The Bolde and MyAnimeList.

 

Stop and Think (PLEASE!!)

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Okay, I gotta vent again, even if it’s just a small point that’s been niggling at me. But it’s on my mind since we had Trump’ s 100 Day marker and the White House Correspondence Dinner (which Trump ducked out of to hold his own “pity party” rally, the narcissistic, insecure coward) reaffirming the fight to stand up for free speech and the first amendment.

And that’s what I keep hearing from his supporters and his base. “Why can’t Washington just let him do his job and get stuff done?”

Well, my friend, what you’re thinking of is NOT a democracy. What you’re thinking of is a dictatorship. Or an autocracy.

In a democracy (which is what WE have last I checked), there’s a little thing called compromise, so we don’t run into the authoritarian trap of letting one person have all the power of the government. We finally got the budget through because of this thing called compromise (more or less). But, like the child Trump is, he whined about it on Twitter. And, I might add, griped about wanting to “change the rules”-rules which are there in the first place as a safeguard against dictators and autocrats (who, last I checked, America’s foundations are not fundamentally a fan of-but hey, I guess it’s in vogue now to treat the Constitution like a napkin for your meaty BBQ sauce drenched baby back ribs).

And that’s thing about hypocrites, they’re like crazy people: totally unaware that they are what they are. They’re embracing the very dispicable values that go against those of the country they claim to love SOOOOO much. Which I guess is why it’s totally cool that the prez gets away with stuff like praising autocratic snakes. Cuz if you say you’re planning on changing things, you should be allowed to do anything you want even though you have the brain of a thirteen year old entitled brat.

So, you can say what you want (because you know, we have that first amendment that your precious Trump has so little respect for (but it’s all good as long as we can make it easier for mentally ill people to get guns, cause that’s smart! because obviously as long as everybody else has guns there’s no need to worry about insane people carrying guns!! adding more guns doesn’t complicate things at all!!! *tears hair*))–

BUT!

For heaven’s sake, YOU quit whining, if only to give yourself a chance to hear your own brain think! You can have your pity parties and your ridicule rallies all you want–I have no right to stop you–but quit telling other people to quit whining when YOU won’t quit whining!!!! You are ADULTS!!!!!!

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Oh, and thank you, so much, because you guys just screwed yourselves over for healthcare because you’re idiots, now that Trump’s F-U Care just passed the House. Speaking of which, by the way, I should mention that I have this thing called asthma, where like, if I don’t get the medication I need when something triggers it (which might as well be everything since we’re pumping poison into the air all the time), I either have to go to the ER, or die. And considering this new bill gives states the option of not having to cover the cost of an ambulance, I almost like to think I’d rather die. At least that way I wouldn’t be stuck paying an insane hospital bill just for them to stick a plastic tube in my mouth to inject medication.

Now, I’m quite while I’m ahead and cool off on this, if only because I know if I keep going, my words will just devolve into profanities. Bottom line, I may disagree with your opinion, but I respect your right to express it. And well…okay, I guess telling you the quit whining undermines that, so…can’t we just agree to disagree?

Gah! It’s the Anne Coulter Paradox all over again!!!

Ugh, yes it’s a free country, but you wanna know who uses that excuse to disrespect other people? Children. Definitely remember that one ALL the time from when I was young.

Or you could just quit being an idiot.

If for no other reason than for yourself so you can save yourself the regret later. Because I’m sorry, but very few people can pull of being an idiot and still be awesome.

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A Retrospective: Looking Forward to 2017 With A Clean Slate Ahead

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Ah, that dreaded “new year’s resolutions list”. I always hate those. The spirit is there on New Year’s Eve, and then it kinda…peters out.

Not to mention that I’m five months late getting this out!!!

Oh well. Better late than never.

To be fair though, I actually succeeded in mine this year. I got a new job. I’ll admit, I feel kinda good about that.

Bad news: this past year REALLY kinda sucked otherwise.

I mean…I guess it wasn’t horrible in the sense that I personally didn’t suffer any tragedies or get the news that I had some terminal illness or that I was gonna be evicted from my apartment or fired from either my old or my new job, but…guh. 2016 was more of a slog than I bargained for.

Started out with having to give up an arm and a leg to get my car fixed before my lease ran out so I wouldn’t have to give up my other arm and leg for the dealer to fix the car instead when I turned it in. Except now there’s an oil splat or something on my new car that a simple car wash doesn’t appear able to fix. So, meh, gotta figure that one out. :/

And that’s actually a highlight compared to everything else, which, now that I think of it, kind of went by in a bit of a blur. I think all us Americans came out of Election Day feeling like we’d just binge-watched the mother of all Netflix dramas. Like “House of Cards” on steroids and crystal meth. With rage-infected monkeys thrown in there.

And don’t even get me started on celebrity death after celebrity death. Not to say that I keep up with celebrities for the sake of being in the know about celebrities–I only care because a lot of these celebrities meant something to me somewhere on the road of life I’ve thus far traveled.

I think the first time I encountered Alan Rickman in my life was either in Galaxy Quest, or in Dogma. Can’t remember which. All I know now is that I will cry twice as hard when I watch Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (well, all the Harry Potter films really), and when I watch Love Actually every Christmas.

Labyrinth was introduced to me by a friend of mine from my early childhood, enraptured by all those dark, insane, beautiful kids films that only the 1980s seemed capable of producing. And incidentally, my first encounter with David Bowie.

When a friend of mine texted me that Carrie Fisher had died, I had just finished re-watching the original Star Wars trilogy for old times’ sake after having gone to see Rogue One, reliving again just how great those three films were. Better than I remembered them, all while thinking the romance between Leia and Han Solo was even better than I’d been able to appreciate when I’d been younger. Getting that text felt like a punch to the gut, and I’m still having trouble fathoming it, even while I’m writing this.

And well, Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka was basically a hallmark of childhood. More than that, but with everything I saw him in, from Young Frankenstein, to Blazing Saddles, he always brought a charisma to the screen that I don’t think we’ve seen since. It was like his own brand, no less that despite his Willy Wonka being a pioneer of the kind of wonder and imagination that’s boundless in childhood, he could still just sit back and let a stupid kid go be a stupid kid (you know, let themselves get blown up like a blueberry, or let themselves get zapped by a laser that breaks them down into a stream of particles and reassemble inside a TV) and still be likeable.

That’s just to name a few, but those in particular stick out in my mind, alongside Prince and Leonard Cohen.

With that in mind, I felt compelled to consider what I still had in my life to be grateful for, what still lay ahead that I’m hoping for. I guess if I were to put up a resolution list, it would simply be, “Get my novel finished for publishing.” As for the rest, I think it could be better described as a sum of everything that gives me joy in life, and keeps me going and getting out of bed every day (apart from the fact that I would most definitely get fired if I didn’t show up to work). Think of it as my own personal “Favorite Things” song a la The Sound of Music.

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J. K. Rowling

This year, I actually got a Christmas vacation, and believe me, I enjoyed it. One of the best things about it was I got more time to work on my book, but, I am one of those writers that at least needs something in my ears to get me going (once I do get going sometimes I don’t need it, or even notice that it’s gone cuz I’m just enraptured in my work). Something I always like to come back to to get me motivated when I can’t think of any good music to listen to instead is the Lifetime channel’s unauthorized biopic of J.K. Rowling, Magic Beyond Words. Corny in bits, but whatever, it’s Lifetime. I love watching it when I need that extra push. After it ended though I pulled a few documentaries and TV specials done on Rowling to keep up the momentum. And…yeah, it just made me think how awesome the world was for having her in it. (Though now I keep thinking about those unfinished Harry Potter fanfictions….).

Neil Gaiman

Now when I actually started this post, I didn’t know about this next bit, so I guess it’s good I’m writing this now, knowing what I know. I am of course referring to the American Gods TV show. It says something though that I can be excited about something for which I haven’t even read the book yet (I HAVE it, it’s still sitting on my TBR shelf, I’m savoring it, okay? Like a fine piece of chocolate.). But yeah, the premise alone was enough to suck me in, and the copy I have has the honor of being the last book I bought in England while I was studying abroad in the UK. Yep, bought it right in the airport magazine shop, with a note on the cover that reads “author’s preferred text”.

So I will be reading a book called American Gods which I bought in Britain (lolz).

Anyway, I did have a bigger point here. And that’s that I love Neil Gaiman, as much as, if not more than, J. K. Rowling. My favorite book of his to date is  Neverwhere, though that may change depending on my opinion of American Gods once I read it. And the what I’ve read of The Sandman comics has been golden, scratching that itch I always get for exploring old mythologies and mythoi and creating new ones. Either way, there’s always been something about everything I’ve read or seen by him or seen a work based on what he’s written that hasn’t enchanted me in some way, from The Graveyard Book to the book he wrote with Terry Pratchett (rest his soul), Good Omens. I just love the way he just takes the world and finds his own way to explain it, turning the reality we know inside out, and yet, at the same time, giving a better understanding of it. And it’s helped to set free the chains of logic and the concept of “this is how things are done” in my writing. I love it.

Anime and Manga

Yeah, gotta put this in there too. Just real quick. I won’t wax lyrical for a huge length of time–mostly I just wanted to touch on the fact that the breadth of storytelling these media offer is what draws me in, perhaps back since my first episode of Sailor Moon back in the 90s. And it’s an industry that’s always continuing to surprise and give me new wonderful things to latch onto in terms of emotional inspiration and entertainment value. Which is a nice anchor to have when your fandom tendencies were once restricted to YA book franchises that must all, regrettably, come to an end. I don’t like to think that anime and manga will end (at least not in my lifetime–but heaven forbid if it doesn’t last at least until the end of days!).

The TBR List

For my birthday recently, I had a book buying spree, and grabbed a bunch of titles I’ve really been looking forward to reading. Like…

The last two books in the Blood of Eden trilogy by Julie Kagawa

The Girl at Midnight trilogy (last book comes out later this year) by Melissa Grey

The Red Rising trilogy by Pierce Brown

Magonia and it’s sequel Aerie by Maria Dahvana Headley

And of course we’ve already discussed American Gods

Earthsea series by Ursula K. Leguin

Daughter of Smoke and Bone (maybe–first I have to make sure it ends happily romance-wise, otherwise I don’t know if I could bear it) by Laini Taylor

The Book of Joan by Lidia Yuknavitch

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

And the list just keeps growing!

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Music

I couldn’t write without this. I couldn’t live without this.

I basically love anything that’s got a good beat and melody to it, and well-written lyrics aren’t bad either (if the song’s not instrumental). But I wanna give some props to a few that really get me going creatively:

Anything that on YouTube that starts with “World’s Greatest (Insert Adjective Here) Music”. So a lot of epic, trailer-music sounding stuff–but it’s amazing how gloriously beautiful a lot of that stuff is. That and some Vangelis-y stuff to get my sci-fi/fantasy fix.

Almost anything by Yuki Kajiura goes without saying, but gotta give a shout-out to Yoko Kanno as well. She’s the epitome of what it means to compose rich and lovely music for an OST. And, well, there are any number of anime soundtracks I could get into, but that would probably be a whole post in and of itself.

Lately I’ve been on a Sia kick as far as pop stuff goes, but I’m very attached to Clean Bandit’s “Rockabye” too. And high-octane emotionally packed, screaming symphonic metal songs go without saying too. As do songs by Lindsey Stirling, and anything else with a moaning violin and the rich tones of a cello.

Neil deGrasse Tyson (And Other Celeb Nerds) 

Ha! Another Neal made this list. But seriously, I was never that into science per se until I watched “Cosmos” (which deGrasse Tyson hosted) on Netflix. And I’m a huge nerd, but I subscribed to his podcast, “Startalk” too. I mean, he’s like this one math teacher I had in seventh grade who was the only teacher who get me to get As in that subject because she was engagingly enthusiastic. He just makes facts about the world awesome, and a lot of those are facts are mind-blowing, which is a plus.

And OMG Bill Nye has a new show for adults on Netflix. Ugh, the childhood feels. Okay, so Bill was there before Neal, and he made science cool for me first, but Neil reminded me how awesome it could actually be to read about physics, whether astro or theoretical (unless you’re reading something REALLY dryly written, which I did once).

Here’s to hoping though that Michio Kaku has the same effect on me.

The Joy of Writing (Once I Can Get Myself Going)

Sticking in the ear buds now and gonna try and get some writing done. And editing. And re-reading. And re-drafting. But I love it I swear!

Seriously, apart from the books and the people I love, I can’t imagine my life without it. I love being in that place of my own making, taking the helm of a world I created and driving it for myself, if only to help me understand it better. It’s the same reason I love stories as much as making them up. I honestly can’t remember  a time in my life when I wasn’t making up stories.

And with the novel I’m writing in particular, I really hope I’ve created something sculpted from everything precious and meaningful to me.

Okay, okay. Enough with all the flowery prose. Real people don’t talk like this! (Lol) But in all honesty, no matter what I’m writing, it’s that breathing space I can find within myself that keeps me going the most through every day that passes. It’s…my one and only true, true love (until maybe that special someone comes my way *sigh*).

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The Kitchen Sink

I dunno. Because I probably forgot something, and that something is probably been thrown in with the kitchen sink.

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Ha! Story of my life. Well, not the ghost part. Just the crazed expression.

That’s that for now, and I’ve got quite a bit on my plate on things considered. Things like $$$ (the utter bane of my existence at the moment–that and idiot “politicians”). Long as no one is threatening to break my legs, I think I can still manage to count myself lucky. That and the friends I have in my life. (Which should probably go up on my list, but then, they’re so integral to my life that I figured that it went without saying.) Nonetheless, don’t let it be thought that I don’t appreciate my friends and family, because I would definitely be nothing without them (and that’s why you’ll get to be named in my acknowledgements page when my book(s) get published–you know who you are).

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Now let’s try to have an an awesome 2017 (or what’s left of it, anyway). I leave you with Sia, and I wish to all of you the very best! 😉

 

 

 

 

 

The Asterisk Principle

When I woke up on the morning of November 9, I’ll admit, I was a little surprised that the world was still moving along, same as always. But, I suppose you gotta do what you gotta do.

Thinking about it, we are a restless nation. We have been since day one of its birth. We’ve always been about change…and we always get dissatisfied very quickly. We like our shiny new toys, but we get bored with them soon enough.

Look, I get why it happened. I get why Trump won. I get what he tapped into, that it shouldn’t have been underestimated as it was, that there were a lot of people who were sorely out of touch with those who felt abandoned.

Live and learn.

And I’m not gonna act like I haven’t been frustrated with the status quo either. I just barely manage to get by month to month at my job, so I’m not a stranger to long nights lying awake wondering if I’m still gonna be able to keep on paying the bills and keep food in the kitchen and gas in my car and pray that nothing so horrible goes wrong that it puts me in the red.

But PLEASE–enough with the hypocrisy.

Here’s what gets under my skin.

When I hear the words, “Now is the time to reach out and come together,” I hear: “Time to fall in line and come to my way of thinking.”

When I hear the words, “Enough, let’s stop bashing Trump and give him the chance to lead,” I hear, “Sit down and shut up.”

Oh, I’m sorry: I thought we had a little thing called the First Amendment.

The right to free speech.*

*Unless you make fun of or slander Trump, or say things that don’t agree with his perception of the truth, then you get sued and apparently have no rights.

Outside of my day job, I am working to become a published writer, a novelist. But now I entertain fears that I’ll never get published because my writing addresses my concerns about the environment and global warming, never mind that it WILL get printed but have a big black marker taken to it to censor out anything that Trump doesn’t agree with. Or that I’ll just get straight up sued or jailed for it.

How many ridiculed and tore into President Obama? And he never childishly threatened to sue, or started a Twitter war. (Note the word, “childishly”.)

Now, I can’t say I’ve laid my eyes on the official Bill of Rights, but I don’t think there are any asterisks on it. But apparently there have been some added without most people’s notice.

I get it. Trump won. But please don’t deny me my right to express my grievances over it. When did it become okay to insult somebody and get away with it? Or shoot someone and get away with it, for that matter?

No, I’m sorry. He hurt a lot of people. He disgraced a lot of people. You can’t just brush that off. Because we might as well just throw up our hands right now and say that we are a nation of assholes. Because that’s basically what we’ve done.

You want me to give him a fair shot. And I like to think that over the years I’ve learned to have a more open mind about things, whether I agree or not. You try to assure me that he’ll stand by his vow to be a president for everyone, so why am I not just shutting my mouth?

Because he has yet to demonstrate that he IS a president for everyone.

You can’t say that you’re a president for everyone, when you’ve spent a campaign insulting half of them. No, he’s never held public office, so I can’t say that I know for sure how he’s going to govern. But I’m sorry, the evidence has done nothing to convince me otherwise. He has done NOTHING to convince me that he is a president that speaks for me.

And I’m not saying Hilary was a saint. But there it is again, that damn double-standard. Just like when a woman who gets a lot of guys is a slut, but a guy who gets a lot of women is a stud. Not saying gender is the whole picture, but it comes to the same thing. That double-standard.

That hypocrisy.

What she’s done to offend has to be answered for, but what Trump has done to offend doesn’t matter. The one child who always gets punished, the other who always gets rewarded, even though neither are perfect.

Since the dawn of our nation, we’ve prided ourselves on being able to break away from and declare ourselves independent from tyranny. From a bully. But now I’m thinking…all along, maybe it wasn’t so much that we were mad that we were being terrorized…but that we wanted to be the ones doing the terrorizing, the bullying.

So after years of telling our kids, “Bullying is wrong,” we’ve elected a bully into the highest office in the land.

You can be strong, without being an asshole to everyone. In fact, I’d say being an asshole is the weaker choice.

BUT–

I also know I can’t change everyone’s minds. Or anyone’s. And I’m not going to try to. But PLEASE, for goodness’ sake, everyone allowed for one side’s grievances to be heard, please do them the courtesy of respecting the other side’s right to voice theirs.

And to everyone who voted for and supported Trump: I sincerely hope you’re happy.

 

 

 

 

What Makes A Good Prequel?

Ah, the prequel. One of the strangest concepts in storytelling, one that backtracks on the timeline and yet is created after the original work comes out. If done right, it can make for more interesting insight into the world you create as an author. If done wrong, it can do nothing but undo all the work you put into the original work. But isn’t it just an excuse for an author to milk the success of a first novel or series in a story line? Well, perhaps, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, if there’s good entertainment value to be gained out of it.

So what makes a good prequel? Well, it has to be good, for one thing. But more importantly, it has to contain its own worthy resonance as a story, something that establishes itself as a tale that has value in its telling. If it can overcome this (as well as manage to avoid creating plot holes in the narrative of events that this story is meant to predate), then there can be meaning found in creating a prequel. In particular since you’re already fighting a battle against a degree of lost tension, being that if the reader or viewer has already experienced the original story this one it’s preceding, they already know what’s going to happen, thus removing the element of mystery. So the prequel, simply said, has to be compelling enough in some other way in its own right, since it can’t be compelling in terms of where the plot and characters (if they’re featured in the original narrative) end up. After all, that’s one of the number one arguments against prequels: “We already know what’s going to happen, so what’s the point?”

In the book world, I’d say, in my experience, that prequels aren’t nearly as brought up as they are in the movie world, but prequels exist in both media. There’s the Throne of Glass series prequel, Assassin’s Blade, and there’s the young adult prequel to the more adult Alexia Tarrabotti series. The Hobbit films I tentatively put on here, because even though the books those films are based on came before the Lord of the Rings, the films were made in the reverse, thus qualifying the films as prequels. While I can’t speak for the first two franchise prequels, I think the Hobbit films did very well for themselves, and with their being split up into three films served to give characters in that universe proper care and attention, in addition to a nice expansion to the world of Middle-Earth as portrayed on film.

The safest prequel plots are ones that don’t really have anything to do with the plot of the original storyline that was written first, but might involve one or two characters from that original work to ground it in the same universe. It could be argued that this doesn’t technically make it a prequel, but it does make it easier to create a plot with tension, since the story line is in fact new, it’s just taking place on an earlier period in a story’s universe’s timeline. But what can be as much a draw as a flaw in a prequel can be a fan-of-the-original-work’s curiosity in “how did this all come to be in the first place?”

It’s always interesting to explore the prior events that take place before those of a well-enjoyed, established narrative. In the event you’re ever reveling in the success of being published, and you find your churning mind conjuring up possibilities of exploring the precursor to the world you’ve created, I’d make a recommendation to just keep these prequel restrictions in mind so you don’t fall in the trap of making the prequel an uninteresting read: your audience is already going to know that any characters involved in the original work are going to make it and not die, that you already know what Fate has in store for them; it’s important to maintain character consistency between this new, “before” version and the one you and your readers came to know in the original work; that the arc those characters have to go through has to be interesting enough to overcome the fact that no matter what, the characters are going to end up in the place everyone already knows they’re going to end up in.

Another good way to test the effectiveness of a prequel is to view it in reverse to the source material: to see how it pans out if someone were to experience the prequel before the original source material, as if the source material were the sequel. Either way, as long as you take good planning and care, you can develop a good, compelling prequel that works to expand the universe of the world created.

While prequels are far from necessary, there’s something about them that feeds the same kind of satisfaction that fanfiction writers get from expanding on existing literary and media universes in their own way. It’s just in your own universe, and, you can further your media exposure and launch a franchise. No, money shouldn’t, in theory, be your sole reason for writing (the only way money ever becomes a thing is if you get as big as J. K. Rowling and Stephen King), but it doesn’t hurt to be ambitious with your work either, and that includes being monetarily ambitious. 🙂

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“Oh. My bad.”

The Kind of Books I Want to Read….

Here’s a question you may or may not have asked yourself in a while: “Why did I decide to become a writer? Why do I labor over page after page, pouring years of my life into a single book? Why do I work so hard towards my first big break as an author?” Okay, three questions, but still…they’re worth asking yourself now and then, especially when you find yourself lost in the mire of words and story structures and plot lines and character development, all while trying to squeeze it into the very narrow gaps of time you have in-between papers and schoolwork and work-work and bills and blah, blah, blah.

Flicking through the special features on the extended edition Lord of the Rings DVDs, my favorite bits will always be the background stuff on Tolkien himself. Not that I don’t enjoy all the behind-the-scenes stuff (all the work involved to make the Battle for Helm’s Deep is an epic unto itself), but the wide-eyed I-wanna-be-a-writer-just-like-you side of me gets a nice dose of motivation out of watching that kind of stuff. One of the blurbs I best remember is about how Tolkien and his friend C.S. Lewis came to realization that they were going to have to write the kinds of stories they wanted to read, seeing as how no one else appeared to be writing them. And from them we got The Lord of the Rings (of course), the Hobbit, and The Chronicles of Narnia (that last one being Lewis’ obviously).

For myself, I’d say that’s part of it. Actually, there’s almost a dark side to that kind of thinking. Or maybe a healthy envy: when you come across a book so freaking good you wish you’d written it yourself. I have a personal shelf of books that I’ve come across that I would say I love so much I’m almost jealous of them in that respect, in that I wish I’d written them myself. Chief among them is the Harry Potter series. In that case, I wouldn’t say for the wealth or the fame that resulted and fell into J.K. Rowling’s lap, so much as the profound effect it had on the world. Yeah, I know that sounds like the same thing as fame, but I mean it more as the fact that it reached the hearts of so many people and basically created a shift in the entire industry of literature and the printed page. Coupled with the fact that it stirred controversy on par with Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code, you know with the whole witchcraft thing and all. Yeah, it’s ridiculous to judge a book based on stuff like that, and it’s my disagreement with that thinking that makes me not feel so bad about having stuff like the Twilight saga on my shelf next my copies of Harry Potter and The Hunger Games.

Controversy aside though, at its core, Harry Potter is a beautiful story, simply put. And that’s what strikes me most. It’s full of heart and sincerity, and stands on its own as something wonderfully unique. This is what it is about all the other books on my personal shelf of books-I-wish-I’d-written. For my money and personal taste, that’s something I will never get tired of, and will always look for in a story, and so…that’s always the story I try to write. Another book that does this for me is Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, which is probably my most favorite book by him (though that may change once I get around to reading American Gods). It’s just one of those stories that somehow fits into the real world even though it’s so fantastical at the exact same time. Again, a kind of story I enjoy reading as well as writing. I would also put Melina Marchetta’s The Chronicles of Lumitere trilogy on that shelf too, if only because of the profound effect it had on my feels while reading it, and doing so far more than I expected. Let’s not forget the His Dark Materials trilogy either by Philip Pullman, one of the best science/magic crossover stories tapping into the ticking of the universe this side of Fullmetal Alchemist.

And right at this very moment, I’m reading a book that I’ve barely dented and already I can tell it’s gonna go on that shelf with those other books: V. E. Schwab’s Vicious (mentioned previously). I’ve FINALLY gotten to reading it and it looks like my anticipation will be generously rewarded. More than that, but it scratches an itch inside me I can’t describe, but it’s one that only a story like this can satisfy. Perhaps it’s something in my current state of mind, my recent mood, what I’ve gotten into and exposed myself to lately that influences my interests and tastes (including listening to songs like “Bad Blood” by Bastille). I guess I’d call the kind of itch I’ve got now a “wicked” itch, an itch to see wickedly badass characters who harbor a kind of bitterness towards something in the world, leaving me curious how things are going to turn out when two such characters become locked in a clash with each other. That and of course revenge is always a dish best served…well, anytime for me.

It’s the same reason every now and then I enjoy reading or watching something high on nightmare fuel masterfully combined with beautiful imagery, grim and yet alluding to the possibility of hope shining through all that darkness. There’s not one genre of story I enjoy reading or writing, but there is one thing that they all have in common to make it onto that personal bookshelf: they have such heart and soul that they feel like living entities, real and breathing worlds of their own.

Oh, there I go again, getting high on my own words.

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Following YA Book Reviews

This revelation is probably a long time coming, but better late than never on this. That and, all timing aside, I’ve been finding this a great inspirational tool, particularly with work on my manuscript (which has sucked up a lot of my time of late) coming ever closer to fruition. THAT, and I’m desperate to reflect on something apart from how much Donald Trump’s parade of idiocy wants to make me bash my head in while simultaneously keeping a daring escape to Canada as an option on the table.

I got in early to work one morning and decided while I played catch up on some tasking, I’d flick through videos on YouTube for something discussing topics in YA to listen to while I did this. I’d had YA romance tropes on my brain for a while, and after sifting through different videos throughout the day (thank you Selena Gomez’s “Same Old Love”), I came across a channel which featured a video on “The Most Hated Line in YA” followed by “Top 5 Most Hated YA Tropes”, and then “Top 5 Favorite YA Tropes”. From there I started thumbing through videos reviewing different books in YA, as well as rants on things like how copycat some YA books have become following certain popular trends within the genre. The practice triggered something in my brain that gave me new insight on tweaking and editing my own YA manuscript.

It was just little things really. I picked up on bits like what might make a character work or not work, what a reader might consider tired as to what one might consider fresh and new, and honestly agreeing with them based on the evidence they had to back it up in their critiques. It served to stir something in my imagination, including the idea of looking at book reviews as a writing and self-editing guide. I say it’s worth a try, even just following a couple of reviews and “Top 5” or “Top 10” lists.

Actually, I think this is probably pretty obvious, but I thought I’d mention it nonetheless. Moreover, it’s given me a few more things to add to my reading list for further enjoyment and study (not that my list wasn’t already large to begin with).

Here are a couple really good channels I’ve looked at that I recommend, but surf YouTube at your own leisure.

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Okay, now we can go back to getting wrapped up in untangling plot threads in the writing/editing process while trying not to think about the similarities between Donald Trump and President Snow.

Why Do I Waste Leisure Time When I Have More of It?

So, I’ve been on vacation for over the last week or so, and let me just say that at the beginning, I could only think of how I longed to have all sorts of time to catch up on work on my novel, catch up on blogging posts I’ve put on the back burner (like my Coriolanus post, though to be fair, like I said in a previous post, I’ve realized the truth of how boring and draggy Shakespeare’s histories are–maybe I’d do better with something notoriously violent, like Titus Andronicus?), and catch up on personal needs like picking out a new pair of glasses, pleasure reading, sleep, cleaning up/writing articles for my new gig on MyAnimeList.net, etc.

This isn’t to say that I did none of this, but as far as getting work on my novel done? Well…it doesn’t help that I’ve come to a point in the editorial process where I’ve felt I’ve needed to rewrite/rework an entire sequence, made all the more frustrating by the fact that I’m adding  to my word-count and creating what could only be described as a five-car pile-up in my narrative. So while I’ve picked at it, I haven’t had the beautiful writing-filled days I’d fantasized about.

I think part of it is the fact that with such unlimited free time, I’ve been more inclined to fritter a lot of it away. Free of the pressure of making the most of my leisure time, combined with the highs and lows that come with an artist being frustrated with a primary work (and a massive one at that, it being a novel and everything). I haven’t gotten as much done with nearly as much urgency as I’d have liked to have done otherwise, or even as I might’ve managed in a regular work week. And now that my vacation time is drawing to a close, it makes it all the more frustrating.

On the other hand, perhaps I’m being too hard on myself. After all, vacation time is meant to be wasted on frivolity, at least partly, right? That IS what a vacation is for, isn’t it? That, and I’ve always felt that if I ever get stuck in my writing, recharging with a read-a-thon tends to recharge the batteries, as it were.

Should I feel guilty? Well, maybe. But then maybe I shouldn’t, since we all need a little veg-out time, so long as it all amounts to a brilliant burst of creative ingenuity and industriousness. True, the most successful people will tell you that part of their success comes from “never wasting a day”. However, the exercise of imagination and churning the creative juices doesn’t always work on the same schedule as “normal time”. That’s why most successful people, writers in particular, will tell you to overcome this through sheer willpower. I’d like to think though that a large amount of free time, again, is detrimental to willpower, by its very nature of being there in such a large quantity. This combined with the fact that I put far too high expectations on myself as far as what I planned to get done, and, overwhelmed, picked at everything here and there with little sense of urgency, or too much of a sense of urgency perhaps–that and not knowing where to focus throughout the day.

It seems that the struggle to balance the double-life of a writer and a member of the day-to-day workforce marches onward, even when I’ve taken time off.

That and the unfortunate fact that I’m often possessed by a little demon of procrastination.

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But now with the most famous time-consuming season approaching with the coming of winter (my internal clock skewed by the time change notwithstanding), I can take my foot off the brakes and go in for the long haul and the home stretch with the goal of at least having my novel done by New Years’.

Now that I’ve gotten all this “time wasting” off my plate. ;D

The Grumbles of Disappointment

Like with anything we decide to pick up and read, a lot of that hinges on that little synopsis, either on the inside of the dust jacket or on the back. That and any blurbs that might have been sprinkled on the book too, a little boost to the book’s selling power. And that’s fine, how else are you going to know whether you want to take a crack at reading that book unless you’re given some idea as to the premise and plot?

But that doesn’t make a payoff that was anything less than what you were hoping for or expecting any less disappointing.

Sure, you can’t really come to an absolute final conclusion until you read the book, and nowadays if you’re reading through certain genres–like anything in YA for example–it might be the book you pick up is in fact the first book in a series, so in that case, of course you don’t bank on an all-conclusive climax.

But, there are still certain expectations to be met. And perhaps part of it has to do with my own preparation, since I’m working on breaking into YA fiction. Of course the industry is always changing, and with the hot machine of teen-novel-to-movie-franchise cooling off a little, the whole idea of guaranteeing a publishing deal for your YA novel being in part because you wrote it with the mindset of turning it into a trilogy, or quartet, or a series of any given number of books, probably doesn’t necessarily count for anything at this precise moment. Again, always just write what you want to write, not what the stats say you should write. With that said, if, like me, you are writing a YA book with the intention of building it into a series, there are certain things you have to do to sort of “safeguard” it, as it were.

For starters, the first book still has to be its own complete story, and stand strong on its own, with possible plot threads woven in. But not so that they feel like loose ends by the end of the story, more that the reader wouldn’t know they were woven-in threads at first glance, but then when they are revealed to be such in future books (remember, you haven’t even gotten a deal on the first one yet) it’s not jarring, but feels clever (that Hogwarts Whomping Willow, *wink, wink*). Experienced/previously published authors have a little more leeway with this, but that’s because they have the resume to back up their proposal to write a series and therefore agents and publishers have confidence in selling the fruits of their labor such that even if the first book does leave a little more dangling threads, they don’t have to worry about the book not selling well enough that they wouldn’t follow through on moving forward with getting the rest of the books in the series published. From what I gathered in my readings, anyway.

That said, that doesn’t mean readers can’t still be disappointed.

Like I just was.

I just finished reading a book (I won’t mention names, I’ve learned my lesson) that looks to be the first in a trilogy, and while technically it wasn’t bad…it didn’t quite meet my expectations either, and I spent most of the time reading frowning in frustration. I can’t justify that bad feeling you can get when a story isn’t going the way you want it to, and I can’t say that the twists and turns the story took with the logic in the world the author conceived weren’t creative, but even so…for me it somehow dragged the book down in the read.

Maybe it was because it was almost…too creative, to the point that I felt like a good chunk of the book was spent going over the different elements in an almost textbook fashion, and there were parts of the world itself that were rather disappointing to me how they worked and what their purpose was, but…I honestly couldn’t say why.

Again, I felt like so much time was spent going back and forth that…maybe it all just came across as needlessly complicated, and left little breathing room for character development, particularly where the romance was concerned. On the surface, it was perfectly serviceable, and I even enjoyed it at times. But it was also a bit paper-thin and clunky, where the two parties of the couple at first were in a damsel-and-distress situation, and then an I-hate-your-guts situation. Then, while it did give itself sometime to develop into a romance, I guess the story could have afforded to spend more time on its development and less time on the mechanics of the world, moments where the two of them could just be characters together rather than constantly going over battle strategy and building their relationship partly on the fact that they were working toward the goal of defeating an enemy. I mean, there were one or two moments where they were talking just like normal people, but I could’ve used more of those.

I don’t know.

Then again, maybe it was the climax that threw me off, which, while rife with action, somehow still felt anticlimactic somehow. Maybe because the main villain wasn’t built up as well as I’d have liked (so his last-minute introduction actually was just that to an extent, a last-minute introduction), and neither was the second-in-command who was vanquished. Again, this is the first in a series, so I understand not everything can be resolved. But now that I think of it, going back to how much explanation was put into the mechanics of this world, there wasn’t too much time spent in any of the many locations, for me personally anyway, to really feel any impact when the climax was unveiled in a place that I had never been in before. It was explained why, of course, and again, there was some buildup, but…it just was not doing it for me.

I think that last thought is the bottom line. I was really intrigued by the setup of the story, but the aftertaste of it was bitterer on the edge than I’d have liked.

But that’s life, isn’t it? It can happen with any story you try to get into, whether it be a book, a TV show, or a movie. You read the premise and it hooks you, but then it just leaves you disappointed for one reason or another. And I know too that stories can’t be what the audience wants them to be, but what the author wants them to be. Thankfully, we have message boards and sites like fanfiction.net to cope with things not going the way we’d have liked in the stories we read (Sirius Black somehow and for some reason not ending up dying, anyone?).

On the plus side, I can say that this at least was not a book super-hyped by the media. That would just leave room for throwing the book against the wall and wailing, “Why the hell is this so popular?” and then questioning the fate of the civilized world.

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But then, on the other hand, I think I remember reading somewhere that just because a book is popular is no sure indication of how technically good it is. So if this book I read wasn’t particularly popular, is technically good, and I still can’t like it as much as I want to….

Well, that’s just frustrating too.

Fritter Day

With all that’s been going on with work and novel-writing, it’s weird to come across a day off and have nothing really to work on at the moment. I just submitted another short story for the Writer’s of the Future Contest, and I have my novel set aside at the moment before I dive back into putting it through it’s final edits. Now I come across this day off, and the most pressing thing I have going on writing-wise is picking at a couple of fanfiction stories in the works and writing this blog post.

And reading.

I’ve been warned time and again that novel writers find little time for pleasure-reading unless they DON’T want their novel to get written. But now that I’ve come across this break, I find myself with an afternoon to do nothing but pleasure read right after I write this post. Indeed, I still have Coriolanus to read for review, (though at this point I can already say that I’m probably not going to be a fan of Shakespeare’s historical works, but we’ll see about that). But other than that, I’ve got nothing but books and books and books to read for the rest of the afternoon.

If you happen to come across a day like this, it’s almost like finding a twenty in your jeans you didn’t realize was there. Exciting, if only for an opportunity to recharge the batteries. So don’t feel bad if you take a writing vacay now and then and fritter an afternoon away. We all need that fritter day to get out of the writing head space, otherwise you’ll just crack. 🙂