Sunday, 30 October 2011

Review of Small Gods by Terry Pratchett

Title: Small Gods
Author: Terry Pratchett
Rating: 5/5

Dense yet clever prophets, scary yet stupid inquisition, a god stuck as a tortoise and an eagle who really needs to find something else to eat. At the centre of this divine cyclone is the Great God Om. ^_^
I really like Om. He’s a guy who’s used to being large and in charge in his part of the world, then he wakes up in the middle of an attempt to be made into lunch (eagle, enter stage left) to find himself as a tortoise. Which is just plain crazy as it is. Forget about people trying to eat him - apparently, “there’s good eating on one of those” - but no one can hear him. Except for Brutha.
Poor, poor Brutha. This fellow, who only wants to be left alone, can’t seem to stop hearing Om. Both his amazing memory and the god put him in some rather sticky situations. The stickiest of all being trapped with Vorbis. The bad guy of this story.
And what a very bad man he is. His demise, which was inevitable really, could’ve happened any number of times and each time he lived, left me waiting for someone to do him in. The way it which he does die is quite laughable really. But satisfying. While I like bad guys to be bad, I love it even more when they get got.
Of course, Death pops up on occasion throughout the story before then. Though I’m a major fan of the black robed guy, it was the piece after a ship had sunk, that had me unable to stop laughing for a good few minutes. ^_^
But back to Om and Brutha. It was in the last few pages, between the banter of god and prophet and where what was to be a battle among human turned into a fight among the gods, that really had me liking this small god. Bit sad that there’ll be no more of him conversing with Brutha though, I’d been seeing them as pair right up until the end there.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Introducing ...

Name: Cesei
Story: The Rogue King Saga - The Rogue King
Status: Nomad

Cesei first popped up in a single sentence spoken by Honny. Something must have wriggled loose from the dark recesses of my mind that houses the oddities known as my stories, for that’s when her name sprouted again from the mouth of another.
Before I knew exactly how I was going to do it, I realised I had to type her up in the flesh, so to speak. So came the gal who would be Koral’s - the Main Character - “teen” crush. It was fun to write the exchanges between the pair and, what with having already done the rest of the story with a much older and more confident man (especially when it came to women), it was also an absolute delight to reduce him to a blushing, stuttering heap of a boy.
You won’t believe the amount of wicked giggling I did while editing that piece. Not the first time I've been glad I edit while alone.

I did this one while writing the scene with her in it, just to help me stay focused between the near-silent chuckling. Hence I attempted to capture the essence of what Koral, barely a teenager, saw when he looked upon Cesei, a far more mature young woman. (Think twelve-year-old boy ogling nineteen-year-old girl.)

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Introducing ...

Name: Erik
Story: The Unborn Trilogy - Silver Moon
Status: Demon Hunter

When I first imagined Erik, I pictured him as some stern hunter that kicked demon butt and didn’t care what happened. Slay and leave certainly seems to be the norm for paranormal exterminators. I mean, would they really care what happens to the immediate environment once what they’ve come to kill is dead?
Then his son sort of popped up and the image wavered somewhat, adding another layer.
Anyhow, a demon hunter hunts demons. It’s always been the right thing to do, after all. So what does a guy do when faced with a situation he’s not been trained to deal with?
Time to call on one higher up in the chain of command, methinks.

I actually picked the name based on the geographical location of his birth. But then the story doesn’t exactly hit you over the head with historic points and realism sort of flew out the window with the hodgepodge attire I imagined he’d have (no doubt accumulated from the various places he’s travelled to).

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Third Campaigner Challenge ...

I couldn't find the time to do the Second Campaigner Challenge. So I'm thrilled to be able to do the third one.

"Write a blog post in 300 words or less, excluding the title. The post can be in any format, whether flash fiction, non-fiction, humorous blog musings, poem, etc. The blog post should show:
  -          that it’s morning,
  -          that a man or a woman (or both) is at the beach  
  -          that the MC (main character) is bored  
  -          that something stinks behind where he/she is sitting
  -          that something surprising happens.
Just for fun, see if you can involve all five senses AND include these random words: "synbatec," "wastopaneer," and "tacise." (NB. these words are completely made up and are not intended to have any meaning other than the one you give them)."

Sarah stared out at the growing light hovering on the horizon; the rosy arc gone, overridden by a crescent of gold. Before her stretched the endless ocean, dark and tacise. An onshore breeze assisted the waves, bringing with it the pungent scent of brine and rotting seaweed.
Nearby, a lone seagull screeched. Yawning, she turned her gaze to watch the bird fly over the water, diving at the fish hidden beneath the waves. Each dip and climb brought it ever closer to the shore.
Alighting a few feet from her, it hopped across the sand on one leg. Its head tilted. Tiny, black eyes peered up at her. Expectant. Impatient. At times like this, with the world still, the screech it gave had a human-like quality. Feed me, it demanded. Feed me now.
Sarah dipped a hand into the paper beside her, drawing out a chip.
The seagull hopped forward. A second leg unfolded as she threw the chip at its feet. Despite being alone, the bird swallowed it in one gulp. Then, ever the wastopaneer, the seagull screeched at her for more.
She idly chewed a piece of cold fish, tossing a handful of chips at the bird.
The seagull raced to eat them, its actions synbatec as it scurried about.
The chill wind changed. Sarah held her nose, the smell of the sea infinitely preferable to the stench behind her.
The seagull continued pecking at its feast.
She tipped the paper’s contents of battered fish and chips on the sand. Standing up, brushing the salt from her jeans, she began the trek across the sand. Steadfastly refusing to acknowledge the ravaged the lands on her right. Death and chaos abound. The reasons to both meaningless now.
Behind her, once more alone, the seagull cried out. Its call answered.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Introducing ...

Name: Lady Aaluna
Story: Dragon
Status: Knight

Ah, foreign, pretty, honey-haired Aaluna.
I can sum up this girl with just two words. Dragon crazy.
They’ve a name for the kind of creature her dragon is too: human lover.
This woman somehow managed to usurp my world building for a time. So much so that I could’ve done a whole story (well, a short story at the very least) of how she got where she is. It was fun having her about and I do which there’d been more space for her in the plot, but she really wasn’t needed for much more than one chapter. 

Technically, seeing that she’s pregnant in the story, I should’ve made her so in the image. But, if I’m to be honest, it was hard enough getting it like this and, by the time I remembered her current state, I couldn’t be bothered redoing it.
Consider it as having been done before/after the pregnancy, that’s what I do. ^_^
Note: The little, purple feathers in her hair (yes they are purple, just dark) are from her dragon.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Award Number Two. ^_^

This here, as the writing says, is the Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award (ain't it cute? I think I'd be just as happy eating the real thing right now. ^_^).
It's been given to me by Jennifer at Jen's Bookself. I'm actually quite surprised to win this one (nix that, I'm surprised to win anything. Ever), though I love reading all the random things people put up.

It comes with rules, of course. And they are:
1. Link back and thank your givers.
2. Share 7 random things about yourself.
3.Choose some awesome people to pass the award to and leave a comment on their blog so they can claim them.

Seven random things about me ... hmm ...

1. When I was sixteen my car was rear-ended at 100km while stopped at a red light, the only piece of the vehicle not totalled was the area in which I was sitting.

2. I collect foreign coins and Blue Mountains Pottery. (You wanted random)

3. My house has five domestic cats. In order of age: Crumble, Mama, Charlie, Simba and FizzyWhip.

4. I can't stand most versions of cooked pig. Yet can eat ham and love bacon.

5. I always wanted to be a red head. Sadly dyes do not last long, so I went second-best: my other half is. ^_^

6. Despite watching the movies, I've never read a single Harry Potter book.

7. I cannot wear silver. My skin reacts to it something fierce.

Bonus: I've naturally got vamp fangs at the top and a set of even sharper teeth arranged in a semi-circle at the bottom. Due to the pulling of a incisor, there's only three teeth between the top fangs. (No, I don't sparkle ^_^)

Now then, I'm passing this award on to:
Jess at Write. Skate. Dream.
Laila at Untroubled Kingdom of Laila Knight
Kimberly at Meetings with My Muse

Synopsis - Write it First

Synopses, along with query letters, have to be some sort of exquisite torture invented by some masochistic person.
The countless times you'll find people claiming that, though they've easily written an entire story (a big 'yay!' to everyone who has ^_^), the synopsis eludes them.
Or they, like me on my first try, end up with something that tries to rival the story in size. Yes, some agents/publishers ask for a longer synopsis, but the average only wants one-two pages. But that monster eight-page-synopsis doesn't require at least the last four pages (I know, it's hard to believe, but true).

So why is so hard for some of us?
I've asked this on a number of occasions as I struggled with my first synopsis. My original (and its many variations) was five pages long. I was convinced that I could not condense a story of 186,000 words to fit onto one page. I did. Single-spaced, that is. It took a long time, much re-reading, editing and a lot of fretting that I was deleting an important bit (we are our own worse critics, after all).
The conclusion I reached was this: I was trying to put too much into it. Once the story is completed we (or at least I) seem to have this need to put in every teeny twist and each minor thought. As if by doing so, we'll convince the person at the other end why it simply had to happen that way. Somewhere along the line it's forgotten that the story is the important part. The synopsis, while has to be coherent and error free, needn't be quite as clever. It's there for one purpose: to summarise the story.
Now there are many ways to write a synopsis. Some recommend writing that eight page beast and snip out what's not required. Another suggestion is to break the story down into its chapters and then try to summarise each one in a sentence or three. Like a paragraph for each chapter. I adopted its cousin where those paragraphs were forced to do describe two chapters. Afterwards, I had one page and a bit. That's where the editing came in.
Not everyone can do it that same way as someone else (I surely couldn't the way most suggested), but there's a way for every person. As long as we remember that we're not trying to be clever. If your character has some special mark, mention it briefly. If you find yourself doing this: "insert name is marked with a insert mark which glows bright blue and they discover due to insert conflict that it gives them the power to do whatever" you're going to need some major redoing later.
It can be simple as saying that they 'fled' instead of 'ran away'. One word can be the difference between a new line or not, and if you can say it in one word, you should've been doing it in your story.

But I found another way that worked even better for me: I wrote the synopsis first. It was the easiest time I've ever had writing a synopsis. So easy, that I went and did it again for the next story.
You see, whenever I write, I know where my characters are heading, I know what'll happen. But, before I've written a single word towards the novel, I've a brief summary in my head. And we all know what that amounts to.
How disgusted I was with myself to find there was a synopsis already in my mind, just waiting for me to write it down. Sure, I found I had to tweak it once I'd finished writing the story as some things had been altered. But the larger portion was still intact and, because I hadn't all the little bits to worry about, it was free of all those tiny details that had originally clogged my first synopsis and made it so bothersome to do.

Why the heck did it take me fourteen years to find that out? -_-

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Review of Magic Kingdom for Sale - Sold! by Terry Brooks

Title: Magic Kingdom For Sale - Sold!
Author: Terry Brooks
Rating: 3/5
This starts off slower than the other stories I've been reading lately. Which wouldn’t have been so bad if it hadn’t taken a few chapters of umming and ahhing until we reached Landover. It’s not that I mind not being thrown into the action, in fact I like a good lead up. But when it takes two chapters for him to decide to buy the kingdom, then drags me halfway through third chapter before he get there ... I was literally screaming at the book for the first two chapters “It’s called ‘Magic Kingdom For Sale – Sold’, you nitwit! For goodness sake, buy it already!” Thankfully, I don’t read in public places. ^_^
Things sped up a little after he reached Landover, though there were a few dull patches, it’s an overall good balance between action and the internal doubt Ben has for his position. The struggles, both the mental and the physical, were interesting and, sometimes, very cleverly dealt with (other times, Ben’s a diggleberry who deserves a good slappin’, but that’s just my opinion).
There are a few things that happen that are just plain strange. Perhaps that’s because I’m not all for the “you’ve spotted me, I’ve fallen in love, now I’m yours, take me” idea of how he meets his ‘lover’. In fact, the whole scene feels a little odd to me.
The ending ... well, I always knew he was going to win; it’s the first in a series, after all, so I expected it. But the ending felt a little too predictable and easy.
That being said, I’m still looking forward to reading the next book.

Side note: It may just be my version (published year 1988), but I can’t recall having read a book with so many spelling mistakes as this one. Makes me feel a little better about my various, late-night misspells of ‘the’. ^_^

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Introducing ...

Name: Durel/Typhoon
Story: The Rogue King Saga - The Rogue King
Status: Rogue

Do you have one of those minor characters who, for whatever reason, you know their entire background? Well, Durel, or Typhoon as he’s called in the story, became one of those.
It started out with me simply trying to find the reason behind him being insane (yes, I know, more insanity. They aren’t all crazy, honest).
Once I had the reason for that (which is pretty messed up and would snap any mind), I then turned to how he got into that situation in the first place, which led to more background (and a revelation). Virtually zilch of that info went into the story, but then not all research needs to, just as long as you know the reasons and can whip’em out when needed.
Plus, the story isn’t about this particular messed up lizardman.

I’m actually quite pleased with how the image came out. Nevertheless, I’m a little miffed I couldn’t get the ‘killing claws’ on those feet quite how I wanted them, but I’d enough trouble getting these to work without trying to find (then buy) a decent Velociraptor model which may or may not co-operate.