Friday, June 29, 2012

06/29/2012 Fantastic Friday!

Hello everyone and welcome back for my Friday review. Everything is done at work, and while it's a sad day, I won't bother all of you with it. For now I have a nice little story for everyone that I hope you'll enjoy.

Today I bring you 'It's Just A Job' by Walter Lazo. The main character, who's only referenced as XX1X32887, is a photographer who's been hired to get to the bottom of what happened at a facility. The only problem is that the facility isn't supposed to exist, so he's going in without any idea of what he's getting himself into. The things he finds there quickly get him considering whether or not the money is worth it, no matter how good it is.

There were a few reasons why I picked this today, but the one that seems to stand out the most, and is most important is that there's been a lot of movement lately regarding the RPG Conspiracy X, and it has been on my mind a lot. This story seems like the setup for either something much bigger, or even like it could be a viral video someone put up to try and drum up publicity for something else. Either way it feels like it could be a mission in ConX and that has brightened my day a little.

'It's Just A Job' is available for free at Smashwords for those who wish to go look it up. It says it's part of a Short Story Collection, but this was the only story in the file, so I'm assuming there is more by the author. It's a short read that will make you wonder what else is really out there, or even what's going on behind closed doors.

Thanks everyone for stopping by and putting up with my odd post times this week. Next week should be back to normal, but keep in mind the 4th will be an off-day for the holiday. In the meantime, Smashwords is having it's Summer sale starting July 1st, so please check it out and you'll be able to get 'The Light Rises' for $1! Can you really say 'no' to $1? Please don't, dollars are nice. Anyway, I'll see you all back next week! Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

06/27/2012 Writing Wednesday!

Once again I thank everyone for your patience for this week. It's been emotionally and physically draining, but it's almost done, then the recovery time will happen. I think if I had some idea of what was going to happen after Monday it would be better, but right now all I can do is hope that everything will be fine.

Today I wanted to take a step back and look at something that I have run into several times during my quests to find stories to review on Friday. When I look for something to review, I of course read over descriptions, and if something catches my attention I will then proceed to look further into it. More often than not, I read a description and it seem like something I have heard/watched/read a billion times before. It's not that it's boring, but it's just nothing new. There are times also when the descriptions seem a bit dry, or are too short to get any actual idea of what's going to be happening in the story. I guess what I'm saying is that today I wanted to look at the brief descriptions you will have to make for your work once it's complete.

Descriptions are honestly one of the hardest things to write. They are (usually) short not-quite synopsizes of your story that you need to give enough information to make it interesting to your potential reader while not giving away so much of the plot that there's nothing to surprise them. I really think that everyone has some kind of trouble while writing one, but that doesn't mean they're impossible or that everyone's needs to sound exactly the same. The point of the description is to make the book stand out enough so that people want to read more into it, if everything said 'Jane Featherbane was just an ordinary high school student, until...' nothing would ever be read because the assumption would be that it's the same basic plot of the 50,000 young adult fiction works before it. Sure that basically be what happens in your story, but that doesn't mean you can't spice up the first impression.

The way I see it, your descriptions are like movie trailers. They are the narrator with that deep voice that tells you the world the characters are living in are harsh and desperate. Sure some movies are groan-worthy, but you wouldn't know if by watching the trailers. Think of the last movie you had epically high expectations for, my own example will be 'Brave' because I just saw it, every single trailer had something to bring to the table. It had a beautiful world, an interesting main character, and the scenes they were showing us told the audience that she was going through experiences that most of us had too. Then the plot-ness happens, and you are hooked. The images before already drew you in, but then as soon as magic starts happening, you need to know what happens next. That is exactly how your descriptions should be. Give hints that make the character relate-able, then drop something earth-shattering on them. I know they are supposed to be short, but this is honestly something that is possible.

A brief example I will give is one that I am working out in my head for 'Daughter of the Shackled King', this isn't by any means perfect, and will likely be changed later, but this is how I would begin the building process: Life in New York City for Lily Anderson was not nearly as glamorous as she'd hoped. Forced to juggle struggling math scores and a night job as a bartender at one of the the city's most specific clubs, there wasn't much time for anything else. Everything changed the day she opened a package and found the golden choker inside. Now the world is different; magic exists, she's the descendant of a God, and Lily finds herself thrown into the middle of an eons old war. Charged with being the savior of Chaos, she must decide for herself which side she's truly on.

Now I don't know what you all think of that, but my hope is that you're at least intrigued by the story. In my mind there are flashes of excitement and other such things, again playing off my movie trailer comparison, but you get the idea. My hope is that this has at least helped a little. Just remember your initial description is your book's first impression, and people will remember it no matter what.

Thanks everyone for stopping by again even though it's late. My next post will be on Friday, but I don't have an exact time yet. It will all depend on how things go since it's the center's last day. I appreciate all your patience and support this week. It's been tough, but I'll make it through. I hope to see you all back on Friday!

Monday, June 25, 2012

06/25/2012 Magnificent Monday

Hello everyone! I am mostly awake, caffeinated and currently enjoying my lunch. Getting up and to work before I'm supposed to was a challenge, but with it only being for this week, I'm hoping I'll make it through alright.

Yesterday I went and saw 'Brave' the new Disney/Pixar animated movie, and I feel that everyone should go see it. The movie was absolutely beautiful and as always, Pixar's attention to detail was superb. Of course I won't go into any spoilers/plot here, for the people that haven't seen it, but I will say it was a magnificent story and I wouldn't mind instantly seeing it again. My friends saw 'Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter' and apparently it was a 'horse chucking good time' so I don't know if that is an actual recommendation or not. Either way it sounds entertaining.

My boyfriend/roommate/GM has informed me that we are getting close to the end of the Iron Kingdoms game we've been working on for years. It's sad to think that it's almost over, but I plan on making it as dramatic and action-packed as possible. Still though, with so much change going on in my life right now, it would be nice if something would stay the same for at least a little bit longer. At least Mage is turning out to be some entertaining fun with some major tie-ins from our Hunter: the Vigil game from a few years back being brought up this last Saturday,

I appreciate everyone stopping by today, and I apologize for the post being so late. Wednesday will likely be around this time as well, though Friday I don't have a time yet. Rest assured it will be posted though, so it's not like it won't happen. I'm not looking forward to the end of this week, it's the end of a road that I thought would last much longer. My friends at Verizon are wonderful and I will miss them, and am already missing those that have moved on either to relocate or to a different job entirely. Anyway, I'll see everyone back here on Wednesday, until then I hope you all enjoy the start of your week.

Friday, June 22, 2012

06/22/2012 Fantastic Friday!

Welcome back everyone for this Friday's entry. This is my last Friday working my wonderful closing shift, and will be 8 - 5 next week. So for that I wanted to bring you something entertaining to help ease the time change a bit.

Today I bring you 'A Helluva Deal' by Frank Barvitch. It's about Harold, a man who has summoned the Devil to make a deal for his soul. However, the Devil doesn't want his soul, instead he would much rather Harold help him out by giving the world means to summon him and his minions correctly again. This is a fun little story that is sure to bring a laugh on a nice Friday afternoon.

The reason I picked it is rather simple; when you think about it, he's right. Now I'm not saying that I summon the devil, or think anyone should try, or any of that kind of nonsense. No, the main point the story is trying to get across is that we've become so dependent on things like technology and having things done for us that certain things that would be considered tradition have fallen by the wayside. There are things that we believe should work because they are cliche, or because we've seen it work in movies, and so on. Take the idea of shooting a locked door open; how many times have you seen it work in a movie? Does the fact that Mythbusters proved it doesn't work change your mind? What about a gun going off when it hits the ground? That's what this story is trying to get across, which is why I picked it.

'A Helluva Deal' is $.99 at Smashwords, and I do recommend giving it a read-through. It's entertaining and a quick read and I'm sure everyone will enjoy it. So please check it out and why not give the author a little review yourself if you have the time.

Thanks everyone for stopping by again this week. I really hope next week goes smoothly, as I am not looking forward to waking up before the sun. I hope your weekend sees you all well, and I'll be back on Monday with a full report!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

06/20/2012 Writing Wednesday!

Hello again everyone. Today will officially mark the beginning of summer, apparently at 4:09pm PST (I'm assuming it'll be at 4:09 whatever timezone you're in, but I want to be sure.) and my only wish is that the weather finally decides what it wants to do and is consistent for more than a couple days. Things going back and forth are not good for allergies and even if I'd rather it get to 72 degrees and stay that way, something that I know isn't going to happen, things staying the same for maybe a week would be nice too, just to get things to even out.

I wish I had a better topic to bring up today, but I with things winding down at the center, my focus has been elsewhere. So I have decided to simply talk about practicing today. Now, I know you're probably asking, "But if I'm writing a book, that's technically practicing, right?" The answer is that you are technically correct (which is the best kind of correct, so good job) however, if you use your book as your medium for practice, it's going to be fairly obvious that's what you did during your read through, which means editing is going to be an even more massive job than it already is. Though if you want to do that, be my guest!

My idea of practice is to just write small things, short stories or something similar. Use them to work on things that you find challenging so that when you go to put it into your actual book, it won't feel clunky and broken. For example, if writing action sequences are not your forte, but you want to put a lot of them in your novel because explosions are awesome (which they are), go work on a short story about some people needing to get out of a building in less than five minutes or else it will explode with them in it. This will help you work on building tension, action, maybe some fight scenes because there have to be minions trying to stop them, and also description because you want to make sure that them jumping out of the building just as it explodes is as dramatic and awesome as possible.

This really goes for anything that could possibly be in a novel; romantic scenes, dramatic, character interaction, action, what have you. If there's anything that you know you're struggling at, for one reason or anything, and yet you want to have those scenes happen in your book because they fit and you want things to feel that way, then you need to practice. For myself, I have been working on character interaction to make the times when people are together seem more fluid. I've been doing this by adding in more body language queues, some pauses if one of the people are particularly shy, and just taking examples from watching my friends interact. People don't all act the same, but and everyone has something different they do during different times of stress, so having your characters all act the same wouldn't make a whole lot of sense.

Thanks everyone for stopping by, I hope my advice will at least be a little helpful. Come back on Friday to see what I put up for the weekly review. Remember next week I will be working a normal person's schedule, 8 - 5, so the posts will either be later in the day or stupidly early in the morning. It will really depend on how awake I am in the end. Either way the posts will likely be entertaining because I'll either be half asleep or so wired on caffeine I should be institutionalized. Anyway, I'll see you all back here on Friday! Have a good rest of the week!

Monday, June 18, 2012

06/18/2012 Magnificent Monday

Good morning everyone! I hope the weekend saw you all well. Today continues my course of waiting only somewhat patiently as to whether or not my interview last Wednesday went well. I'm supposed to find out this week, but it was an undetermined day, so...yay!

With how close it's getting to the end of my current job, I have found my productivity levels dropping significantly. My hope is that once everything is over and done with I'll be able to relax and get a million things done, or begin the panic that comes with not having a job. I'm hoping really hard it's the first one, mostly because I would love to take a month off to relax, be productive, and not have to worry. Transition periods are difficult, I just hope that I'm handling mine well. It's kind of hard to tell if I am, though the daily migraines have gone away, so that's a good sign, right?

In other news, the game on Saturday went well and included some nice bouts of character drama/conflict. Next week will see how that all comes together, so that should be interesting. So far though I enjoy playing a Wizard, being able to roll lots of dice, and being able to work on sketching things I consider myself rather terrible at. All of the players have also been encouraged to plot/plan/contribute to the story, and so I have kind of taken that to a *slight* excessive level. I haven't sent the GM anything lately, but that was mostly because I realized how many e-mails I had sent and felt kind of bad.

Also, in gaming news, the 'Conspiracy X: Conspiracies Sourcebook' Kickstarter is up, and managed to get fully-funded in less than 8 hours. Now they're going for the 'Stretch Goals' which are nifty add-ons that happen after other goals are met. They've achieved their goal for $10,000, which is awesome, and the ones beyond that are still considered 'Classified', but I've added the link to it anyway. I love this game, I have been waiting for years for the new books to come out, and would love to get as many cool things along with it as possible. So please, help them out by giving them your money, even two dollars would help.

Thanks everyone for stopping by today. I hope I hear good news between today and Wednesday. I hope the start of the week is good for everyone. As always if you have any questions/concerns/comments/emotional outbursts don't hesitate to post them or contact me. I would love to hear from you guys. Until Wednesday, have a good week!

Friday, June 15, 2012

06/15/2012 Fantastic Friday!

Welcome back everyone, I hope your week has treated you well. Today marks exactly two weeks before the center closes, and I think it will be a rather hard day for many of us at work. So, for that let's concentrate on something completely different alright?

Today I bring you 'Phobos' by Tim Baer. It is the story of someone that has been plagued by a nightmare for most of their life; roughly 40 years. It's always the same each time it starts, and nothing they do to try and get it to stop has worked. Seeking out help has done nothing to stop the nightmare, and in fact has only made it much worse.

I picked this picture I'm sure we've all experienced some kind of reoccurring dream and this story takes that idea and expands on it. What if that dream happened every night for decades? What would that do to the person seeing them, what kind of effect would it have on their life? Those are the questions this story asks, and the answers may surprise you.

If you wish to see the answers for yourself, 'Phobos' is available on Smashwords for $.99, which is a great deal for anything. I hope you enjoy this short story as much as I did, so I do encourage you all to stop by and check it out. I'm sure the author would appreciate it.

Thanks everyone for stopping by again this week. I greatly appreciate your continued support, especially when things are so crazy in the real world right now. It's nice to know I can come and work on something that people enjoy. I will be back next week, continuing to fidget and wonder until I hear about how the interview went. I hope to see you all back here on Monday, until then, have a fun weekend!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

06/13/2012 Writing Wednesday!

Greetings everyone and welcome back! I hope your week has seen you well so far. I have an interview today, so I am full of nerves and hope that it will go well. The job I'm going for would be fantastically perfect for me, so my fingers are crossed!

Last week we talked about perspective a little bit, this week I would like to change gears a little bit again. We're going to go back a little and talk about consistency. I believe I've mentioned before how not being consistent in some aspect of your story will cause readers headaches and table-flipping, this is something that is true for whether you're just writing a stand-alone story, or a multiple book series. If things aren't consistent throughout for whatever rules you're having the world follow, people will catch it.

It's similar to my mention of making sure to do your research, since the Internet is a thing and people have instant access to information. Research should also include your own work as well. Going back and making sure names are correct is one thing (I'm sorry, but too many side characters gets confusing for all parties involved.) but you should also make sure that something isn't said/done that gets contradicted later on in the story. If that does happen, and it is done on purpose, just make sure to point that stuff out. (Don't even get me started on time travel. We've been over this, I am not going to write it. It causes a medical condition known as Spontaneous Brain Melting, and it's terrible.)

An example that I'm not looking forward to is that when it comes time for it, I'm going to have to reread 'The Light Rises' to make sure that I've a) Touched on everything that needs to be addressed for 'Rending the Seal' and b) That the world still makes sense. I'm not looking forward to it because to me 'The Light Rises' is done, and I'm terrified I'll open to the first page and find some glaring and terrible error and will fall into a despair that will be dramatic and eternal. I'm still going to do it though, because I know that things need to line up and be accurate. Especially since 'Rending the Seal' is a prequel; I don't want to say something happened one way in 'The Light Rises' only to have something completely happen in the prequel. I will not be that kind of person!

If you are writing a series and something drastic does change between books, again for my own example in the time (in story) before the sequel to 'The Light Rises' and 'Daughter of the Shackled King' the way magic works will have changed, make sure that you explain why. It doesn't have to be long, just that there was some kind of event or evolution in whatever changed that made it different now than it was back then. Maybe hint that something major and then go back to it later on in a super-secret last book that takes place in the middle of everything. That could be fun!

Thanks everyone for stopping by again. I hope the interview goes well and that soon I'll be all smiles for life after my work closes at the end of June. I look forward to seeing you all back here on Friday for the reviews. Until then, I hope you all have a good week and wish me luck!

Monday, June 11, 2012

06/11/2012 Magnificent Monday!

Hello everyone and good Monday to you. I survived the weekend and am now getting ready to survive work as well. This week we're having a cart come with roasted corn and a bunch of spices to put on it as a thanks from the mid-west region of my work. Right now they're my favorite because roasted corn is perfection.

This weekend my friends and I helped someone move. It was an interestingly little convoy, but we got everything over to her new place in one trip and also without any (known) casualties! It'll be nice to have her closer to everyone else, since where she lived before was almost an hour away. Now it's about 20 minutes and there's a plethora of food places/stores to go to!

The experience reminded me though of how much I dislike moving. Right now my plan is to move one more time, and that will be into a house, that I bought, that I won't have to move out of. It will be at least two stories, it has been brought to my attention we'll need a basement, and will have a beautiful kitchen, and I won't ever have to move ever again. For right now though, that is a dream, and I am focusing on making sure I have a job before I go into any more serious thinking about that kind of stuff.

This week's game went well, it involved breaking down order of events, making timelines, and having a white-board like on House M.D., but we made progress. Now we just need to get to this Saturday so I can jump right back into everything. That will take time progressing on a normal path, or going into a 4-day coma and magically waking up on Friday, you know, so I can get caught up and get some things done, then have fun on Saturday.

Either way, today is another day, and I will get through it as 'patiently' as possible. I will be back on Wednesday, so I hope to see everyone back at that time. I hope the start of your week goes well! Until then I hope you all have a good day!

Friday, June 8, 2012

06/08/2012 Fantastic Friday!

Hello everyone and welcome back! I hope this week has seen you all well. Today marks my last day watching my parent's pets, which is why my posts this week have been a little later than normal. It was fun though, my mom's bird did MUCH better than she normally does, and my cat seemed happy I stopped by to visit her. That's not what's important right now though, so let's get to business shall we?
Today I look at 'Grim Awakening' by Paul Johnson. As you can see from the cover, it's a book that asks the question of 'What if the Fountain of Youth was guarded by the Grim Reaper?' and the reason I picked this story was simply because, to me, that makes sense. Who else would be guarding the thing that gives eternal life than one who's super not ok with that? With things making sense being my first and eternal love, I decided this was the story for today!

Only one person has ever managed to drink from the waters of the Fountain, and that is a man named John Hope. He's been alive for a thousand years and up until now, has never told anyone how he managed to do it. His tale of one of caution, but also of possibility. After hearing his story, will others still try to reach the fountain, or will the consequences of living forever be enough for them to change their minds?

For me personally, the idea of immortality is not so much a gift but a curse. I can see why people would be drawn to it, but when you think of what exactly that means, it's probably the most depressing 'super power' anyone could get. I like this story because it makes you start thinking about whether or not what John Hope did was worth it or not. 'Grim Awakening' is available on Smashwords for $2.99, and since it was put up recently will likely be available in the Premium Catalog soon.

I appreciate you all for stopping by this week. Come back on Monday for the newest post. I will be helping a friend move this weekend, so hopefully if I haven't somehow managed to hurt myself (it has been implied that I may or may not have 'spindly T-Rex arms' by some) I should have at least some sort of entertaining story to tell. See everyone then, have a good weekend!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

06/06/2012 Writing Wednesday!

Hello again! Sorry about the delay in the posting, I am doing some favors this week for my parents, so while I promise the posts will happen, like I said on Monday they may be a little later than normal. Also the last week of June, my plan is to try really hard to get the posts up in the morning, but more than likely they will be in the later afternoon. With that being the last week the center's open, they've changed everyone's shifts to 8 - 5, and while I'm crying inside of that, it's something that must be accepted.

Today I wanted to look at the different perspectives you can use while writing. Now in general people are used to a third-person perspective, where you see the actions and events as told by someone who's watching the characters go through them. Usually this is told from the general point of view of one person, usually the main character. This is the most common that is used. It's one we're familiar with, and feel the most comfortable. There are two versions of this, the one we're all used to which is called Close Third-Person (Thanks Rae!), and third person omniscient. In general you don't see the Omniscient version at least I haven't in a very, very long time. It's a difficult way to write, but it also is hard to read because it forces the reader to suspend their disbelief more than they already have. If you're reading something and the 'narrator' keeps talking about the evil darkness looming over them and how awful it will be if they pick up the cursed gem, as the main character picks up the cursed gem anyway. Or if say there are continuous mentions of a villain and what they're doing at all times, when obviously the main protagonists have, and could never have, any idea of that at all.

Another perspective that I really like, and have been trying to work on more is first-person. For those that aren't familiar, it is when the story is told from the point of view of the main character directly. Instead of using 'he or him' used be using 'I' for exposition and description. I really do like this way of writing because it causes the reader to become instantly involved in the story. It makes them feel that they are directly tied to the actions that the character is going through, and that is probably one of the best feelings an author can get. As I've said before, having an emotional response should be any writer's goal. Now I won't get any actual examples of this here, mostly because as I said it is a format that I find rather difficult, so I am currently in the process of practicing with it. I don't want to put anything up that would be seen as incorrect/bad advice.

Thanks everyone for stopping by again. I will be back on Friday with a review for everyone to read through. I appreciate the continued support of this blog and wish you all nothing but the best. As I've said before, if there are any comments/questions/emotional outbursts, don't hesitate to post them or contact me. I would love to hear from anyone. Until Friday, have a good rest of your week!

Monday, June 4, 2012

06/04/2012 Magnificent Monday!

Good day everyone, I hope your weekend saw you all well. I got to spend time with friends and family, and also got a bit of rest in as well. I wish I could say the weekend was productive, but sadly I spent a good portion of yesterday fighting with my lunch, so I was a little preoccupied. Other than that though, I'd say it was a good couple days to rest.

One of the things I always enjoy about coming into a relatively new game (for those that don't remember, I'm part of a table-top gaming group that gets together on the weekend.) is the chance to think of possibilities and work on character development. I'm someone that will think of scenarios, and if they don't happen in game I will write them myself. I do this for a couple reasons: practice and also to see if my interpretation of the reactions other characters would have are accurate. It gives me insight into the way people, even fictional ones, think. I want anything I write to have some sort of feeling that what the people are saying and doing are natural, and the only way I'd be able to do that is from practicing.

It also helps if the game is in a setting I'm interested about, and while I think some aspects of the from of Mage: the Awakening are silly (pretty much all of the Atlantis stuff), it's not enough for me to say I don't think it's great. I like the magic, I like how it interacts with the other games in World of Darkness, and it makes you feel like you're actually fighting for your character's happiness. That means there's ample time to work on character development!

That's really all I have to say for today. I'll be back on Wednesday! There will be a post, but it may be a little bit later than normal, hopefully not though. I'll be going back and forth a bit throughout the week, but I will do everything in my power to get stuff up here. Until then I hope you all have a great start to your week, and I'll see you back on Wednesday!

Friday, June 1, 2012

06/01/2012 Fantastic Friday!

Welcome back everyone! I'm glad this week has seen you all well. My trip through the interview process is going rather smoothly, so I'm hoping that it will continue on that course. Aside from having absolutely no idea what I did to my right hand (I think I pulled something...maybe?) For now though, let's get down to business shall we?

Today I bring you 'Finding Feathergale' by Alfred Tinner. It's a sweet little story about a little girl desperately trying to find her only friend in the world, a little winged serpent named Feathergale. It shows loyalty and what it means to make friends in places you never knew existed. It's an adorable little short story that is currently available on Smashwords.

Meena has been sheltered most of her life. Her father is a merchant and she has been learning the ways of proper life since before she could remember. The only real friend she has is her pet, a small and rare winged serpent named Feathergale. When she wakes up one morning to find her companion missing, she goes on a quest to get it back, which will take her to places she never knew existed, and learn the value of true friendship.

Now if you haven't already guessed, I am a pet lover, so stories about people wanting to get their pets back always get to me. I know that if anything happened to any of my pets I would be devastated and the only thing I would want is for them to be safe at home. (Especially since one of my cats is a former show cat, and if he went outside he'd be confused and wouldn't know what to actually do.) If you're an animal lover, or just like quick and sweet stories I do recommend picking up 'Finding Feathergale'. It's available at Smashwords for $1.99, so please do check it out.

Thanks everyone again for coming by this week! Come back next week, which should be a normal week of posts. I don't see anything preventing it as of right now, since there aren't any magically appearing holidays. I appreciate your continued support and look forward to seeing you all back here again. Have a fun weekend!