Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A New Experiment: Rach's Platform-Building Campaign

So, I decided to join in the latest Campaign (organized by Rachael over at Rach Writes...). I've never done it before, and to be honest, I'm kind of intimidated. I've had trouble being a dedicated blogger in the past, and this campaign thing requires consistent blogging for TWO MONTHS!!! Suffice it to say, I'm challenging myself with this one.

Anyway, this is just a quick post to introduce myself to my Campaign groups (and if you're not participating, you can at least get to know me a little better):

I love stories. Ever since I was a kid, I've been a slave to a well-told tale. So, it was only a matter of time before my over-active imagination got tired of reading other peoples' stories and started spitting out its own. This is not to say, of course, that I don't read anymore. Actually, I read more than ever!

I completed my first novel a year or two ago and recently started working on my second. I'm still working out my methodology, but it's slow-going (a lot of trial-and-error). My work hovers somewhere between YA and adult, but always either sci-fi or fantasy—my first book was sci-fi, my current WIP is fantasy (I have seven or eight other ideas rolling around my head: 2 fantasy, 1.5 urban fantasy, and 3.5 sci-fi).

Anyway, I'm going to follow Cheryl's example (she's in one of my campaign groups) and try to sum up my WIP in a single sentence. I'll do the same for one of my Sc-Fi stories as well

Dathan the Sorcerer:
When a sudden resurgence of Arcane magic threatens to raze the kingdom of Amerin to the ground, Dathan Bahaar, recovering from a centuries-long enthrallment to the terrible powers of the Arcanum, discovers that his knowledge of the dark magic to be a deadly threat, as well as a potent weapon in the struggle to save his people from slavery and death.

Rask, Inc.:
After narrowly escaping the IED that killed her husband, young Vivian Rask finds herself in the cross-hairs of both the military and a vicious crime syndicate, her only allies a  ragtag crew of mercenaries, her only weapon a secret handed down by her family from generations untold.

That was a lot harder than it sounded! Kudos to Cheryl for doing a cleaner job than I did. Anyway, I hope they sound intriguing. Can't wait to start the Campaign.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Thoughts on why certain books are my favorites

Hi everyone! I've been thinking a lot about why I like certain books and not others. My favorite book, currently, is Sabriel, by Garth Nix. It's the first of three novels and a short story (there's another book slated to come out in 2013, and I CAN'T WAIT!!!) I love those books so much that I read them over and over (I first read Sabriel a little over 3 years ago, and I've probably read it at least 4 times since), but I never stopped to think about why until a few days ago. I'll have to go back and read it again before I can come up with a detailed analysis of why I like it so much, but for now, here's my first impression:

Sabriel is the first fantasy book I've read since Lord of the Rings that I felt was written by an intelligent, well-educated person for intelligent, well-educated people. Most fantasy books I've read fall into one of two categories: those that feel like they were written by an emotionally stunted adolescent, and those that feel like the author is talking down to me, mocking my intelligence. By far, the most fall in to the first category; most science fiction and fantasy books I read strike me as too cliche, too fanciful, or both.

Sabriel, however, is written in a way that feels both intelligent and believable. Nix's diction and syntax are more sophisticated than a lot of authors'. For the first time since middle school, I came across words I didn't know (outside of a text book, that is); but at the same time, I didn't feel stupid for not knowing them. Furthermore, Nix writes clearly and accurately, whether writing description, explanation, action, or dialogue. In my opinion, the language of a book should be transparent, a vehicle for the story, and not an obstacle.

Now, apart from Nix's technical ability, his world-building and plot-development skills are masterful. Nix somehow manages to present his ideas in a way that makes them easy to believe, even when discussing magic and fantastic creatures. This is a secret I must discover! The hardest thing for me, when writing sci-fi or fantasy, is writing so that the unrealistic elements feel plausible or even real.

Anyway, like I said, I'll have to go back and read it again before I can give you a more credible analysis. So, what is it about your favorite book that makes you love it so much?

Monday, August 1, 2011

How to Develop Your Characters

Hi everyone! As you recall, a couple of weeks ago I shared my dazzling new idea for becoming a more consistent blogger (writing down my ideas at work so I can blog when I get home). Unfortunately, ever since than I've been so swamped that I literally haven't come up with a single idea while at work. So, no success on that front yet.

However, I have some exciting news concerning my other idea (make each chapter a complete mini-story)! As I expected, it's been quite a challenge. But my efforts have produced an interesting side effect. I've noticed that, in an effort to complete my mini story arcs, I've forced myself to put in more character development. I'm really excited about this because characterization, in my opinion, is not my strongest area. (Incidentally, Tanya, I hope to have a revised chapter to you soon.) So, despite the difficulty of my undertaking, I'm having a lot of fun and making some good progress!

So, how's your writing and/or reading going?