Friday, April 29, 2011

The Now Starring... Blogfest WINNERS!! Happy Birthday to me!

It's my birthday! I'm 25 today so as a gift to the world (and two lucky people) here are the winners of the Now Starring Blogfest!

WOW! Thanks to everyone who participated in Lindz and I’s very first blogfest! We had an amazing amount of fun and we hope you did to; it was so great seeing everyone casting choices and learning more about your characters. There are some great story’s in the making out there that I can’t wait to read. But on to the moment you all have been waiting for: announcing the Winners!

Congratulation to Meika @ Waiting on the Muse!! You have won yourself a set of Magnetic Poetry for Book Lovers!
Congratulations to Jess @ Jest Kept Secret! You have won yourself something to Scribble on in the shower!

Thanks again everyone for taking part. Also I updated the look of my blog, do you like it?

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Now Starring... Blogfest!!!

FINALLY! It is here! The Now Starring... Blogfest! I’m so excited to show you my cast and to get to see all of your casts and get to know your characters better through the actors you chose!

For me, because I don’t draw, casting has always been an important part of writing for me. Because I need to be able to picture my characters as people, I never use the actor as my muse or write the character just for an actor. I just find that being able to visually have a physical body to attach to my characters helps me see how they move and act better. I think it is the director in me. If I could draw them, that would be awesome then I could just draw how they look, but unfortunately I cannot. So without much further ado, the cast for my WIP Born For This.

Small note, the drawing of my characters where part of an x-mas gift from the lovely Lindz who is helping me host this Blogfest, she gave me the line work and I half assed colored them in Photoshop just for you, I also Photoshoped the some of the actors badly to look a little more like some of the characters! Also Lindz made the table for me.

Click it! It gets bigger!(and readable!)

Anyways I hope you all had a lot of fun getting to know my characters a little better! Now I am off to look at all of yours! Also don’t forget to check back and see who the winners are of the box of Magnetic Poetry for Book Lovers, and a thing you can scribble on in the shower!

Monday, April 18, 2011

I gonna start doing book reviews...a little / The Horns of Ruin

OK, it has come to my attention that I read to many books not to be giving reviews of them. So I think I am going to start doing reviews on here. Now I am not going to review EVERYTHING I read because I don’t want book reviews to become the meat of my blog, but every once in a while I am going to post reviews on here. But also I want to review books are a writer not just a reader so hopefully my reviews will also be helpful to writers out there.

Anyway I am going to rate each book I read on two scales the 1-5 scale below and if you should buy or borrow the book.

Alexis’ 1-5 scale and what it means:
1: I couldn’t even finish it / just plain bad
2: I hope I didn’t pay for this / disappointing
3:  I didn’t hate it, but it was still missing something / forgettable but inoffensive
3.5: On the line between good and ok / like, not love
4: Solid mind candy / worth reading
4.5: So very close to perfection! / must read
5: I could not put it down and I’m still thinking about it! / a true treasure

I also plan to always write a section on what this book could teach or show to aspiring authors. I know one of the main reasons I love to read is because I find it one of the best ways to learn about my craft and I would love to share that with all of you. 

So let’s start this off with a BANG!

My I present you with The Horns of Ruin by Tim Akers 

My rating: 5 stars! I could not put it down and I’m still thinking about it! rating (and break down): 4 Stars (5 star:7/  4 star:3/ 3 star:0/ 2 star:2/  1 star:0)
Pages: 340 ages
Buy or Borrow: at $16 ($12 on the shelf price is a little high for how thin the book is but I think it is totally worth the cash, especially if you buy it online.
Description: (From Eva Forge is the last paladin of the dead God, Morgan.
Eva, forsaken by her parents and forgotten by her family, was the last child dedicated to the Cult of Morgan. Morgan, God of battle and champion of the Fraterdom, was assassinated by his jealous brother, Amon. Over time, the Cult of Morgan has been surpassed by other Gods, his blessings ignored in favor of brighter technologies and more mechanical miracles. Now, Eva watches as her new family, her Cult, crumbles around her.
When a series of kidnappings and murders makes it clear that someone is trying to hasten the death of the Cult of Morgan, Eva must seek out unexpected allies and unwelcome answers in the city of Ash. But will she be able to save the city from a growing conspiracy, one that reaches back to her childhood, even back to the murder of her God?

What I thought: It has been several weeks since I read this book and every time I think about it I am still blown away. While there are some flaws I felt that overall they were not big enough to really even matter in my final rating. What I love in this book was how beautifully Akers blends religion, sorcery and science, It felt effortless and completely real for his world. Akers describes himself as the only son of a theologian and that is where his book shines, the theology of the three brothers is really what makes this book work. But the theology is not so thick as to be confusing or daunting.

Eva is such an amazing character, I believe she might have been the first one to say “shoot first and ask questions later.”  She is so intensely honor-bound that you cannot help but side with her even when you think she should think a little more before she asks. But I loved her impatience with pretty much everyone else in the book, she is after all a woman of action and doses not idle well. Everything out of her mouth was entertaining. I loved that her character never wavered.

The Horns of Ruin is an amazingly fast paced adventure packed to the brim with sword fights, gun downs, arcane magic, witty dialog, sorcery, incantations. It is a wild ride that will leave you breathless and begging for more. I really hope there will be more books about Eva, I would follow her anywhere.

Here is one of my favorite (spoiler free) parts from Page 11-12:
“Names?” he asked over the clockgeist’s quiet howling clatter.  I stepped in front of Barnabas.

“Eva Forge, Paladin of Morgan and sister of the Fraterdom.  I demand entry to the house of my brother by my right as scion of Morgan.”

He looked up from my breasts, then down to my holster, then up again to the two-handed sword slung over my shoulder.

“You’ll have to leave your weapons at the gate.”

I sneered and snapped out the revolver, flipped it once in my hand, and spun the cylinder open.  I presented the clacking wheel of bullets to him and began to invoke.

“This is Felburn, heart of the hunter, spitting fire of the sky.  Morgan blessed the revolver as a weapon of his Cult at the towers of El-Ohah, when the storm cracked the stones of that place and the cannons of his army cracked the sky.  This weapon was beaten from the iron of the mountains of the Brothers, the land of their birth.  The bullets are engraved with my soul’s name, and blessed by the Fratriarch of Morgan on an alter of war.”  I snapped the cylinder shut, passed the barrel across the pale man’s heart, and slammed it into my holster.  ”I carry it, whether I live or die, through fire and fear and foes.  I leave it nowhere.”

“Well, I . . . uh.” The Alexian grimaced and shuffled his feet.  Barnabas leaned out from behind me.

“Don’t ask her for the sword,” he said, then banged his staff against the narrow stone walls all around.  ”It’s a much longer show, and there’s not really enough room for the full production.  If we step outside for a moment, though, I’m sure she’ll be happy to demonstrate.  Eva?”

What writers can learn from this book: I think number one is that theology matters, what your character believes in shapes them. I think your character has to believe in something, not necessarily a god or goddess but I find that if the character doesn’t believe in anything then I don’t care. I want them to believe in something, to feel that need in them. That is one of the only things that makes a character feel real to me.

The other thing is that even though Eva was a woman I really didn’t care, her sex was not a defining character trait, and I don’t think it should ever be.

So that wraps up my first ever book review I hope you enjoyed!


And don't forget, the Now Starring Blogfest being held on April 25th by Lindz and myself! It is gonna be a blast! And you have the chance to win some super fabulous prizes! 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Defining your world through language

Honestly, I am trying to get better at this whole blogging in regular intervals, but mostly I think I have to actually be saying something in order to blog and I don’t feel you all care or need to hear my every thought, so for right now I think it is better this way. I’m too scatter-brained to try to come up with any sort of blogging schedule.

But today I do feel like I have something to share! Something near and dear to my heart. The language of books. Now I’m not talking about the language you are writing in or how you are writing but I am talking about how your characters are talking. And I’ll be honest, I do not read a whole lot of contemporary literature, I am more of a fantasy/dystopia/steampunk king of girl, so this is more geared towards that (tough believe me I have read contemporary novels with this problem too). And actually this has become a point of focus for me. But I think how your characters talk to each other is just as important as anything else they do, and as important as any part of your world development. After all if JK Rowling had never written the word “Muggle” or “Mud-blood” how different would those books feel? My bet is very. 

Language is such an important part of our everyday lives we a lot of times do not think of all the words that are slag or particular to just us, and I think it is something that is overlooked often when writing. Because honestly if I am reading a book that take part in a fantasy word a random “oh my god!” really pulls me right out of it. I think there are masters at this, Scott Westerfeld for example has such a gift for making the language his characters speak in feel real and organic and it just flows. Tamora Pierce is another I feel is a good example. But just as often as the language is good it is also bad, James Dashner for example I feel really missed the mark in his Maze Runner books. It did not feel truthful and more like he just replaced the words he wanted to use with different words to make it seem different.  I really feel that this is what happens most often, that authors just replace the curse words or slang words they want to use with something else they made up to make the language stand out. But to me it always feels cheesy and forced and makes me stop cold.

But I think I have some tips to help you define the language in your world just a little bit better!

 I think this is usually a huge one for me when reading a fantasy work but a well-defined Parthenon of Gods can make or break a fantasy book. I think Tamora Peirce’s Tortall books are a fantastic illustration of this. Because if your book does not take place on earth then I do not feel like your characters should be calling on the same gods we do. And knowing what gods your characters worship can do a lot to help you develop not only the characters but the culture they live in as well. After all, a culture that worships a war god and one that worships a sea god are going to be vastly different. And they will have different types of speech as well.

Another thing you can pull from is a well-defined sub culture. This is something that can be very useful when writing a book that takes place on earth, but I think it really helps everyone. Is your character really into punk music? Tattoos? Dancing?  Knowing the kind of things and people your character deals with every day will go lengths to helping you know basic words in their everyday vocabulary. Personally being a person who  spends a lot of time playing with, cutting, styling and coloring hair I use a lot of words like foils, bonding , developer, brassy,  and tone,  I’m sure not ever one dose and likewise  I do not use the same words a dancer would.  Heck I can’t really even say I know very many. Another way is to create your own sub-culture; I think Cassandra Clair did this very well with her Shadow Hunters. Because she did not just say “Here are the shadow hunters…. Deal with it.” But instead she actually wrote them a complete history and blended it with real history so it feels more organic and real. And that seaways into my next point nicely…

But a good history will take you a long way, as will knowing your time period. Again I feel this is beneficial to all types of books but I feel it is especially useful for dystopian novels.  But you have this world, and I want to know and feel that the human (or not human as the case may be) has evolved  since point A to point F, after all the language used in the 70s is not entirely the same as the language we use now. So likewise if you are writing a book that takes place in the future your characters should not be using the same words as me. Scott Westerfeld excels at this, but for those of us not as gifted with words I have a few tips. Knowing your history is number one, if you have events you can riff on or people you can pull those names or events  into your slang/cussing. Also if it is a dystopian world, how have the world languages settled?  Could you pull slang from other languages into your world? Not a book, but I think Joss Whedon did this well in his show Firefly, deciding that English and Chinese are the only two surviving languages from earth and thusly everyone speaks a mixture of both.

Ultimately, in my opinion, language can make or break a book. And I think that it can do wonders to helping you define your world without having to actually say anything.  Because language just is. We need it, your characters need it, and I think it is one of the greatest tools in the constant battle of showing not telling. The way your character talks can show so much of the world to the reader that never has to be fully explained, I think everyone can benefit from thinking about their characters language just a bit more. 


And don't forget, the Now Starring Blogfest being held on April 25th by Lindz and myself.