Friday, August 30, 2013

08/30/2013 Fantastic Friday!

Greetings everyone and welcome back. I said I would be here if there weren't any horrible disasters, and well it seems like I narrowly avoided one. The kitty is getting better (at least I think) slowly, and he's looking at food again. He was just a bit stupid and over-did it last night. It's strange that I completely understand the way he's acting regarding food, in that it's similar to the way I do when I feel sick; why would I want to eat that? It makes me throw up. Followed by; OMG I'M SO HUNGRY ALL OF THE FOOD EVER GIVE ME NOW. Which then is another poor life choice. I have his food levels down, so hopefully he won't gorge himself like an idiot again. Anyway, you're not here to listen to me talk about my cats.

Today I bring you 'The Keystone' by Joe Curry. Aside from having a name that makes me want delicious food, this story is about an Oxford professor named Jared, who is given a message by a strange man one day pertaining to his father. Having not thought much about the man since he passed away, Jared starts looking to find that he may be in way over his head, and that his father may have had a life far outside their family.

I picked this story because it reminded me of a cross between 'The Da Vinci Code' and the 'American Treasure' movies, both of which are fun if you suspend your disbelief and let yourself enjoy them. The story is face-paced and does jump around a bit, but that also gives a sense of urgency to the situation. It also seems like this is a Part 1 or a preview to the rest of the story, which I suppose only time will see if that's correct.

'The Keystone' is available for free at Smashwords, and I do recommend you check it out. If for no other reason the hand-drawn cover is very nicely done. I've tried drawing my own and it never seems to work out. Which is why I generally bribe someone with food and stock images I bought the rights to use.

Thanks every for stopping by today. It's Pax Prime and Dragon-Con this weekend, so if you're stuck on a line ride somewhere, please check out this book and any of the others I've previewed before. Or even mine, 'The Light Rises' while I get everything in place for NaNoWriMo and the final leg of editing in December for 'Rending the Seal'. I hope you all have a great weekend though wherever you are, and if you are at one of those conventions, all of the jealousy in my heart is for you, and if you're specifically at Dragon-Con, please go say hello to Josh Gates and Erin Rider from Destination Truth for me, they're awesome people. See you next Wednesday!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

08/28/2013 Writing Wednesday!

Greetings everyone. I am hoping that my post today is at least somewhat coherent. I was up for a good portion of the night due to worry, nervousness, and stress over what to do about one of my cats. Also, because my brain is a jerk, it started going into the bad direction of what could possibly be wrong with him, which made sleeping all the less pleasant. So here's to hoping today is better overall.

Something we've only briefly talked about previously is cover images. Honestly they are likely the last thing on an authors' mind while they are trying to throw all the words on paper in a manner that makes sense. The thing is that when the time comes, cover images are going to be just as important as the title; something else that at times is close to the most difficult thing ever.

So let's talk about those things today. Since logically it will come first, let's look at the title. Some people refuse to give any of their works titles until they're finished, while others have titles picked out long before they even start working on the book. I am guilty of both of those things. For me, figuring out the title later is really good for short-stories or 'flash-fiction' since there's a chance you don't know 100% of what's going to happen in the story until it's finished. At that point you can decide on a title that fits appropriately for what happened that will also draw in the attention of a potential reader.

Now for longer things, like full-length novels or book series, picking out the titles beforehand might actually help the author stay focused on the task at hand. Sure place-holders can be used for things that might change slightly. For example, I am still going between calling the last book in my series either 'War of the Pantheons' or 'The Pantheon War', they're basically the same thing with words flipped around, but I can't decide, and luckily I have lots of time before I need to do that. The important thing though is that I know what's happening in that book, and tend to have a fairly good memory, it's nice to have that final lynch-pin to remind me later.

As for the cover image, again this is extremely important. I know there's that saying that you can't judge a book by its cover, and it's true because you super can't. However, a cover image is going to be the first deciding factor as to whether or not a potential reader even looks at your book. Let's say you write a book about meeting a long-lost love on a train (people do that, right?) and decide the call the story 'Lowering of the Crossbucks' because it's symbolic or something. Now you have that all picked out and you go to get your cover done, but rather than jump into the bowels of Photoshop or offer to pay a friend with food, you take a 6 x 8 picture of a railroad crossing you took with your old-school 8mm camera, scan that into your computer, and stretch it to fit the requirements for a book cover and throw that into the ether. If you haven't guessed what that will look like, I'll tell you; pixelated and awful. Now let's say you're looking for a book to read about love being lost, or destined, or set to only go in one direction forever, and you see that book. The title looks interesting, but the difficulty caused by looking at the image will immediately set your opinion of the quality of story lower. Don't feel bad, it's just what happens.

That situation above happening doesn't mean you're a bad person or anything, it's like when you go to a restaurant and they have pictures of what they serve, and while you may super want the salmon teriyaki (because it's delicious) if the picture has a yellow-hue to it and you can't quite tell that's fish in the picture, it's going to make you a little nervous about eating it. Now a lot of people would say to try it anyway and you might be surprised, but to them I say shut up I needed an example and I'm sleepy. The logic though is the same reason fast-food places use bright colors or movie posters use blue/orange mixtures with lens flare and awesomeness; we are a society are hard-wired to like things more if they are aesthetically pleasing. So even if you're trying to make a point to show the world that yes, when it comes to the cover of your book you don't care that you have no idea what you're doing, but the story is good, please consider making your case in your description or title or something, or just make the cover a blank slate with words on it. It'll work out better in the end.

I appreciate everyone stopping by today. I will be back on Friday, barring any sort of disasters. Also keep in mind that Monday is a holiday here in the States so I will be doing my patriotic part and sleeping in as much as the cats will let me. I hope the rest of the week treats you all well though, have a great couple days!

Monday, August 26, 2013

08/26/2013 Magnifcent Monday!

Hi everyone and welcome back. I hope you had a great weekend. I really do apologize for not having a post on Friday, but after baking until 10pm on Thursday, I knew I needed to spend a majority of my time in the morning getting the cupcakes frosted. They ended up getting finished about 5 minutes after the time I should have started getting ready for work, so I think, sadly that the right decision was made in the end. Luckily everyone seemed to like them, so that's exciting.

My off-time has been spent playing the new Shin Megami Tensei game, which is super fun if a little frustrating at times. Even if the characters are a little flat, and there are (several) points where I literally have no idea where I'm supposed to go, the game play is super fun, and that is making up for it. I thin I'm also done with it though, which is good because I'm fairly certain something comes out in September that I need to obsess over. If not I have some crafting I really should get caught up on.

Also this week, I am eagerly awaiting the announcement that tickets are going on sale for the next Rifftrax Live event. While I maynot get my name up on screen like with Starship Troopers, it'll still be lots of fun, since they're doing Night of the Living Dead toward the end of October. If you go to a theater and you see an announcement saying it's playing there, I do recommend going to at least one Rifftax Live show, because they are really fun and a nice couple hours of entertainment. I'm kind of hoping they do another Kickstarter event next year too, since the last one was so successful, but we'll see how things go in the end I suppose.

My experiment with lowering my pop intake is going well, I believe, so far. This week I am switching the days that I'm cutting it out so that I don't have it three days rather than two. I think going into this slowly will be for the best, not to mention the week after working my Saturday schedule is really difficult, and I wasn't going to not have something to wake me up that Monday. Today though, we'll see how things go.

Thanks everyone for stopping by. I know that PAX Prime is this weekend, so if you are going, I hope you have lots of fun. It's a big event and it's celebrating 15 years, which is pretty much nuts. I wish I could go, but the lack of available extra money makes that to be not a thing I can do. Also the fact the passes sold out so ridiculously quickly. I'll be back on Wednesday though, so please stop by. Until then, I hope you have a great start to your week!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

08/21/2013 Writing Wednesday!

Good day everyone and welcome back. I'm glad to see you all here and hope you're week is going well so far. My experiment day 1 went about as well as I expected with the added side-effect that everything felt like it was moving very slowly. Today should be normal though, so that's at least something. For those who are confused, I am cutting back on my pop consumption to try and lose some weight, and the lack of caffeine was very difficult.

So editing is still going well, but with September right around the corner I am knowing that with some other things it's going to be slowing-down-time. This is because NaNoWriMo is going to magically appear right after October like it does every year and it's also going to feel like it shows up sooner than I think it should. I think it's important for everyone to acknowledge their limits, especially with something as massive as NaNoWriMo so they can prepare accordingly.

I always try to emphasize how much your body will tell you what it can and can't do, and I'll likely do it again when we get closer to to date, but I seriously can't stress that enough. If you start feeling stiffness or pain at any time during your work it's time to take a break. This goes for anything you do in conjunction with writing, like say drawing, video games, writing other stuff, every day work, or whatever. If you start feeling there is a limit to what you're doing, please recognize that as your body begging you to stop being a jerk.

Every year about this time I start slowing down my production, at least getting to the starting stages of doing so. It's not a very significant slowing down, but I can feel it. I'll work on less ridiculously intensive pictures, I'll only do a specific type of editing, and (try to) cut down on the video games I'm playing in order to make sure I can last as long as possible during November. Now this year is proving to be a challenge simply by the fact a slew of games I DESPERATELY want to play have all decided to come out between October and November (Pokemon, Legend of Zelda, and XCom (the last two both coming out in November, possibly on the same day because the world hates me) with Disgaea either coming out in November or December as well) and that is making my life sad. Keep in mind if this is happening to you too, there is a way to have everything you want, you just need to be careful. Don't binge play the games. Play for a bit one day, then give yourself a break the next, or something similar. Just don't decide you're going to work, write more words than anyone thought was possible, and also play the game. It won't work and you'll just regret your life.

No matter what thought, make sure the writing is fun. Yes there are people like me who are using NaNoWriMo as a chance to get some large pieces of progress done on a major project, but that doesn't mean it isn't super enjoyable. If you are participating in the month because you feel you need to, and are miserable doing it, maybe it's time to take a step back and think about some things. This whole process should be fun, and I would love to hear about people's progress when it gets to that time. It'll be fun to all be part of it together.

Thanks so much for stopping by. I should be back on Friday, but with a big thing at work being planned for that day I don't want to make any promises, since there is a chance I'll need to finish up my end of preparations early in the morning. My plan/hope is to get everything done Thursday night though so that won't be an issue. I'll be sure to keep everyone up to date though just in case. Hope you all have a great rest of your week!

Monday, August 19, 2013

08/19/2013 Magnificent Monday!

Hello everyone and welcome back. I hope you all had a nice weekend. Mine was spent working and seeing friends and family, so not much in the way of the doing absolutely nothing that I would prefer a weekend to be sometimes, but still nice. Today I go back to the grindstone, so we'll see how things go from here.

My editing is going well, but is still in process. My hope is that this phase will be done by the end of the month, so here's hoping to that. I've mentioned before I try not to give myself specific deadlines mostly because I never seem to keep them, which does suck. It's not that I don't want to it's mostly that I either don't anticipate some aspect taking as long as it is, or I need to shift my focus to something else for one reason or another. Right now the plan is to get this phase completed by or before the end of the month and then have someone read things over to tell me what makes sense and what doesn't. Hopefully they'll be done before the end of September, but I don't honestly know if that would be the case.

With August getting ready to round itself out (that's so crazy, right?) I also need to start working on my other plans for the rest of the year. I've mentioned before my NaNoWriMo plans, which I'm sure will go about as smoothly as they ever do, but at the same time there is a craft fair to get ready for, which is going to end up occupying a lot of my time between September and October. I'm hoping it won't take up too much of it, but we'll see. It'll depend on whether or not the copies of the pictures can be made to a standard I prefer or not.

Speaking of, if anyone knows where I can make high-quality copies of things I drew in the South Seattle-ish area that would be awesome. I looked at Kinkos already and wasn't impressed with the quality. One copy had a yellow-ish tinge to everything and the other made a lot of my green hues disappear. My pictures are done with inking pens and Prismacolor pencils if that helps. I'd really appreciate any locations I can look into.

For now I will take my leave though. I'll be back on Wednesday so as always if there is a topic you'd like addressed please feel free to let me know right away. I hope the start of the week is nice to everyone and I will see you later!

Friday, August 16, 2013

08/16/2013 Fantastic Friday!

Greetings everyone and welcome to Friday! I'm hoping the week was nice to you. My work-week may not be over after today, but it was totally worth it because of how awesome last night was. I won't go into too much detail about it, since I know that's not why you're here. So I'll get right to the point.

Today I bring you 'Colossus' by Gary Mark Lee. A large mechanical man has been discovered along with the body of the man who built it. The mysteries that surround the two are numerous and the only thing that can be done is speculate over the rhyme and reason for its existence.

Imagine you live in the distant future and a discovery like this was made. People can make guesses all day and night over why and how something that's Iron Giant-esque was built, but that's really all that can be done; speculate. This story brings out more questions than just the ones you'd first come up with, since the body of the creator is there as well.

I picked this story because quite honestly if we made a discovery like this today I think it would be revolutionary and kind of neat. To see evidence of such technology and know that it was built so long ago would make everyone start questioning the limits of science. Those in the story that discover the Colossus are left to wonder who was it that built it and why, and then the moral implications of whether or not it could possibly be weaponized or if more could be made hang in the air above everyone's heads.

'Colossus' is available for free at Smashwords. Please go check it out and let the author know what you've though of it so far. It's also short, so like most of the reviews I post you should be able to read it during a break or your lunch.

Thanks everyone for stopping by today. I hope you all have a fun weekend. Mine is going to be busy so I just hope I make it to make it through Sunday without passing out all over the place. Monday is sure to be interesting that's for certain. For now I hope you all have a great day!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

08/14/2013 Writing Wednesday!

Good day everyone and welcome back. It's the half-way point for the week, so let's make it a good one for all of us. I'm mostly trying to push through today because tomorrow is going to be super awesome and worth having to work on Saturday for. It's Rifftrax Live time and this go around it'll be for Starship Troopers, and as a contributor to the Kickstarter campaign, I am ridiculously excited for it.

It's that feeling of satisfaction I wanted to talk about a bit today. It may seem like a strange segue right now, but trust me, it'll make sense in the end. Hopefully. It's a sense of accomplishment that you have whenever you complete something and you get to see the fruits of your labor in their final form. It's a great feeling, it just takes a bit of time to get there.

This is why, no matter how difficult writing gets, and trust me it does get tough, you should keep pushing forward. Sure there will be bouts of writers block that come up, or maybe you need to take a break to let your ideas come together or just to look at something else for a while, that's all perfectly fine. The important thing is that you come back to it and keep working. I've said it before that writing is not a quick process; it takes forever and you need to dedicate time to do it. Having a good understanding of what you're getting yourself into is part of it, actually experiencing it is something else.

I've heard so many people say they want to write a book and they have this outline in their heads for a story, but when they go to actually write it down they realize what a momentous task they are getting themselves into and give up shortly there after. They either realized they didn't have the time that would be needed or that their story wasn't as fully ready as they thought it needed to be. This is always a sad thing to watch, but the important thing you need to do is make sure you don't fall into the same pitfalls. Yes it's going to be overwhelming, but you need to go pressing forward.

It's that sense of accomplishment I mentioned up top that will make it all worth it. Even if it's just having a link to something you made, or just seeing the e-mail that congratulates you on the upload working, or a letter from your agent saying the books are there and will be shipping. It could even just be seeing a cover with your name on it. That makes every ounce of time you've given to the project worth it. Sure people liking it, telling you about it, and tell everyone else they know is great too, but don't forget that part of the reason you're writing is going to be to prove to yourself that you can do it.

Thanks everyone for stopping by today. I hope the week really is being nice to you all. If you'd like something to help you pass the time, 'The Light Rises' is available at Smashwords for $2.99, so you can always go take a look at that. For now I hope you all have a great rest of the week!

Monday, August 12, 2013

08/12/2013 Magnificent Monday!

Hi everyone and happy Monday! I hope the weekend saw you all well. Mine was relaxing at some points and work in others, but all in all I think it went well. I got to see friends I haven't seen in a long time, and helped that guy I live with get some work done so he didn't have to stress as much. This weekend coming up though is not one I'm looking forward too mostly because it won't feel like I get a day off. I do get to see Rifftrax Live: Starship Troopers though on Thursday, so that will be pretty fantastic.

Editing Phase 2 is almost to the half-way point. I do like how quickly this portion tends to go, however that doesn't mean I like doing it. Once this part is complete I will need to get someone to read 'Rending the Seal' over, I just need to figure out if I can continue to use my primary one (my mother) for this story, or if I need to find someone else. Luckily I have time, but it is something that's being processed in the back of my mind.

The thing about editing so much is that it takes away from actual writing, which does make me sad. I feel like I haven't written anything in forever, and that when November comes I won't know how to do it anymore. Logically I know this won't be the case, and that I shouldn't work, edit, play video games, and write because I will end up doing some kind of serious damage to my hands, but that doesn't mean the temptation hasn't been there.

On an unrelated note, I do need some opinions regarding my cat, because I seriously don't know what to do right now. He's a pure bred Siberian, which means he has a triple coat. He's going through a massive shed right now, so his coat is thinning a little, the problem is that he also over-grooms. He does have a pheromone collar on for separation anxieties, which is supposed to help with it, but lately it doesn't seem to be. I have recently replaced the collar too, so I know it's not a matter of needing to get a new one. Is there some magical way to get my cat to not groom so much? I'm not home during most of the day so it's no a matter of distracting him. I'd really appreciate any suggestions.

For now though, I'll be off and will see you again on Wednesday. I hope the start of the week sees you all well, and if you have any suggestions or requests about a topic for Wednesday I'd be happy to hear it. Have a good day!

Friday, August 9, 2013

08/09/2013 Fantastic Friday!

Greetings everyone and happy Friday! I'm glad you were all able to make it here today, as I am also happy I was able to as well. I am running a little short on time though, so I'll get right to the point!

Today I bring you 'There Are No Children in the Castle' by Hank Florentine McLoskey, and it follows the adventure of Cedric, a the youngest son in his royal family who has decided that taking up the knight and heroes sword is the best for him. The first cry for help he responds to is a village in distress over an ogre that reportedly eats children.

Cedric is young, idealistic, and honestly has the best intentions to save the people from their blight. However the more he listens to the stories, and also from the ogre himself, Cedric begins to cast suspicion on the royal family themselves, and he begins to wonder who the real monster might be.

I picked this story because it had a good message behind it, and also the tales of an adventurer just starting out are generally fun because you really get the sense of someone in way over their head. I also enjoyed watching how Cedric was able to break everything down in order to find the truth. Don't worry, there is no child-eating, at least none that is actually spelled out for the readership. We'd have some problems if there was.

'There Are No Children In the Castle' is available for free on Smashwords. Please check it out and tell everyone about it. It's a quick and fun little story to enjoy on your break or lunch. I'm sure the author would really appreciate it.

Thanks for stopping by today. I'm glad I was able to think long enough to actually get it down. I hope you all have a really fun weekend and that you get to do all the fun things you want. I will be back on Monday, hopefully at least a little awake. Have fun and I'll see you next week!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

08/07/2013 Writing Wednesday!

Greetings everyone! I hope the week is treating you well so far. I have felt kind of 'blah' so far, but here's to hoping today is better. I have some training I get to start today, so that'll be interesting considering that it's on a product that kind of raises my stress level simply by existing. Oh well, it'll be a nice change of pace so that'll be neat.

I've been talking a lot lately about writing about what you don't know, what you do know, and the dangers of both. So what happens if it's something you actually have to make up? I'm talking about magic or some kind of metaphysics that aren't actually something that exists in reality (to most people) or things like ridiculously hard science fictiony things. I believe I've touched base on this before, or at least something similar, but there's no harm in bringing it up again.

Rules! You need rules for everything to follow and those rules need to be consistent or else you will have the internet beating you to death with a board with a nail in it. I'm not talking about things like 'these are the rules you need to follow or your story will burst into flames' because frankly you can make up your own rules for your world, as long as the world keeps following them. Or, if there is something that changes or breaks them, make sure you have a reason for it. This is true if you're doing magic, psychic abilities, ridiculous technology, time travel, or something else that is ridiculously complicated like that.

Everyone by now should know my feelings on time travel (I'm not going to do it, so just don't ask) but I wanted to throw it into this mix because it needs to follow a similar internal guideline. If you are having people that can travel through time, make sure it's internally consistent; you can only go forward, never back, or only a limited distance or whatever. If you just have an 'anything goes' version of time travel your life, and your head, are going to get complicated and I'm sorry.

I'm not just talking about the idea of setting moral rules for the world, though they are fun as well. You know the type where there's two kinds of magic, light and dark, but no one uses dark because that's evil and bad. I'm talking about rules like nothing is permanent, or magic can't be used to break a bond of true love, or predicting the future isn't 100% accurate because the future is changing the second you see/know it. Those types of rules are what you need to establish and as long as everything remains within whatever bounds you decide (again, unless there is a very specific reason why something might work differently) you're good.

Science fiction needs to work on a similar basis, and while yes the whole idea about the high technology level is that it has some kind of logical basis in scientific fact, there should still be rules that are followed. Like teleporters exist, but they can only take one person at a time, and there's a weight limit, or they can't transport living matter so they're mostly used to transport goods and services and not people. This is also where the speed of space travel is going to fall, and how advanced weaponry works. While things with magic, psychics, and metaphysics have a bit more 'leeway' regarding having someone break the rules (that's Bob Deus ex Machinawitz, he's special because his brain works differently than everyone else who's ever used magic ever) you are going to have a much more difficult time if your villain picks up a Stun Laser Rifle and disintegrates a dude. There's going to be a lot of questions about how that happened, especially if it's a rifle unnamed goon was using two seconds before.

I don't mean to say the rules your fantasy setting is using aren't going to be as important, but they will likely not be as obvious as the ones in the hard sci-fi setting, since those rules are going to be followed by something very tangible. Magic kind of works in the background even in settings like Harry Potter. You're given rules about how magic works on a moral level, since the students are taught what you do and what you don't do with magic, however the way it actually works is a bit different and is something that's discovered throughout the story. The presentation is what's going to be important in whatever world you use, so make sure that you don't beat your readership over the head with the rules to whatever world you create and make the ride enjoyable for you and for them.

Thanks everyone for stopping by today! I'll be back on Friday, barring any other disasters. I really hope the week is nice to all of you in the meantime, and I'll be back. Until then!

Monday, August 5, 2013

08/05/2013 Magnificent Monday!

Greetings everyone! I hope you all had a fantastic weekend. I'm really sorry about the lack of post on Friday, but I had a serious inability to comprehend any sentences I was looking at, so any book I reviewed would end up likely being some kind of accidental insult, and I just didn't want to do that to anyone. Right now I feel...mostly awake-ish, so we'll see how things go today.

One thing that did happen to me on Friday though was that I ran into a teacher I had at the local Friday Night Magic thing at a card shop I frequent. It was the best piece of crazy random happenstance I think I could have ever experienced. I was so happy that when I think about it I still almost cry. This was the teacher that made me excited to come to school, ignore the people being jerks (because middle school students are seriously jerks), and also keep wanting to learn years later. To get an idea of something we did here is an article the Seattle Times wrote about the day we turned our entire classroom into a rainforest complete with real animals (one of my friends brought in his sun conure, the teacher had his umbrella cockatoo, and the tarantula was already there.) and how awesome it was.

I've been riding the happiness all weekend, and not just because I was able to beat the 'unbeatable' Games Club running teacher. It's given me a lot of time to reflect on the 'little things' and only motivates me more to get my book series completed. If for no other reason I need to show all of the people who have influenced me that I can accomplish something that big and that they are the reason I've been able to come this far.

So today is a huge thank you to everyone who is a part of my life and who supports me each and every day. From the individual readers of this blog to my friends and family who put up with all the crazy stuff I say and do sometimes. I know that I can be a weird piece of work at times, but remember that I am still able to do all of this because of your support and I couldn't do without it. Thanks so much and I hope you all have a great week, I will be back on Wednesday!