Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Elantris/Guess Whose Mii #2

I finished Elantris by Brandon Sanderson. It's been a while now, but I should be able to give it a good review.

So, it started off slow, as most fantasies do--although it wasn't so much the beginning as what came immediately after. At first it was actually like most other books, starting off with some kind of hook. That is, it starts with Raoden, prince of Arelon, being taken by the Shaod. The Shaod is the force  that changes people into Elantrians, beings who used to be glorious and were sometimes worshiped as Gods. But for the past ten years, it's basically turned them into zombies. Their heart doesn't beat. Their hair falls out. Pain from a wound stays with them. And even if their body is bashed in (as we see in Raoden's first day in Elantris) they continue to live.

After this little gem, we go to Sarene, a clever princess from Teod who finds out her husband to be, Raoden, is "dead". She doesn't know Raoden has been taken to Elantris--it's been covered up. And then there's Hrathen, a gyorn (high priest) from Fjordell, a religious militaristic country bent on holy war with Arelon. And Hrathen thinks he's going to convert everybody to keep that from happening in three months time.

After the introduction of all three main characters is when the story lags. Raoden does his thing in Elantris, Sarene uses her political skill to worm her way into the system, and Hrathen starts preaching. And it pretty much goes on like this for a long time without any serious happenings. 

The most interesting part of the story is definitely Raoden's. Simultaneously trying to build a New Elantris and figure out what happened to the city and the Elantrians, this area of the story moves at a good pace, revealing little clues and introducing characters naturally. The mystery revolving around Elantris is fully realized near the end, and it left me satisfied. 

The part I had the hardest time with was actually the last hundred pages of the book. Although it remains faithful to Raoden, Sarene, and Hrathen as the POV characters for most of the book, it suddenly switches to several views not present earlier in the book. Lukel. Dilaf. (I'd name others, but I can't even remember who they were!) And it's this kind of change that threw me out of the world and back into my apartment. Along with the POV change, there were two places where action was occurring, and I got confused as to who was in what place for several pages.

But in the end, my liking for the beginning and later half of the book won, and I finished. Although there were definitely places where the book could have improved (what book couldn't improve? they're never done, just abandoned...) I definitely had fun staying up late to read it. It's been a while since I've been able to do that with a fantasy (since The Last Dragonlord, actually).

I rate it 3 1/2 out of 5 stars. ***^

--

So, Mii #1 was Tsira. I'm sure you were trying to let others guess, but I was hoping for you to answer in the comments so I can award points. :)

Anyway, here's the next one. Who is this?
-Tsira

Monday, June 27, 2011

Listing Agencies/Guess Whose Mii #1

So... I went to the library today to pick up Writer's Market(R) 2011. Even with the separated part I ended up with, Novel & Short Story Writer's Market(R), the book is huge. It's 650 pages. And I've got a lot to do.

So far, I've read a bunch of the articles and, except for having my own website, I actually feel like I'm doing pretty well. One of the most useful articles was actually a Q&A, "Advice from Agents", compiled by Chuck Sambuchino. (He's an editor for Writer's Digest Books.)

Anyway, with all of the advice in the beginning of the book, I haven't been shocked or discouraged, as I was expecting--which tells me that my book is ready.

I made a list of the agencies that might take me on as a client; next I guess is researching the individual agents to get a grasp for who would be most willing/best to represent my novel. After that, it's working out query guidelines. There's a lot of steps in this process, and I admit I'm scared to death. But this is what I've wanted since I was little, and... I'm going to make it happen.

Tsirash will be published.

--

In other news, I got a 3DS, and the remade, beautiful Ocarina of Time. I've beaten the game seven times over the past decade, and I found that I was just as excited to beat it again--actually, more so, because there's a Master Quest to play when I finish. And the 3D graphics are so awesome. Literally. I am in awe. Awestruck, astonished, astounded. But don't misunderstand; the gameplay has always been the real draw for me.

In my favorite video game list, OoT comes in at #3. Don't worry, though. Majora's Mask still takes the cake over Portal 2.

-Tsira

PS. So I have a 3DS, and Jaron's been playing with the AR cards quite a bit. But we also tried something new with the expanded options for making Miis. I made some of my characters. :) So just for fun, I'll post one with each post until they're all out, and you can guess who they are. :P

So let's start with a really obvious one. Who is this?

Monday, June 20, 2011

DONE.

I. am. freaking. done.

...With two things:

1. (The happy side) I finished my revisions. I may do a little more tweaking, but I am very pleased with myself.

2. (The not-so-happy side) My hip. Again.

I feel powerful and powerless.

-Tsira

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Noisy Neighbors

(What? Two posts in one day?)

I had the chance to go to Lagoon with some friends yesterday, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. All of the spinning rides make me sick, mostly because of the way they decelerate at the end. I generally don't have trouble with Roller Coasters, which sometimes start and stop very quickly. ...But it's having to stop at all the stoplights that makes me carsick, not simply driving. The same applies to thrill rides.

I obviously didn't have any time or energy left to work on my book last night. But while waiting for everyone to ride the Scrambler, I did have time to think about some new concepts. I'm not sure if I want to this for sure, but it might be fun to include Shosu as a POV character for my new story. It would help to balance it, too.

Also... I think I should tell you, as an addition to a previous post, that I do enjoy reading those long fantasy books. I don't have the talent for circumlocution, however, and I see it in every fantasy I read. Following after master Tolkien's example, no doubt. But I find myself thinking that I'd love to read a fantasy novel where there wasn't much of it. I have yet to see one--except for, hopefully, my own.

Okay, change of subject.

Do any of you have noisy neighbors? Because I sure do. The people who used to live next to us were very quiet, and I'd only hear their dog Maury (or something else that started with an M... can't remember anymore) barking like once a month.

But they moved out, and we now have neighbors that are... well, obnoxious, and a little bit scary. There's this little kid, a boy by the sound of him, who likes to run up and down the stairs, across the balcony, knock on our door, twist the doorknob, scream and shout... and cry. And his reason for crying is usually a big woman (I assume his mother) who yells at him for everything.

She's not very effective at getting him to behave, and by what I hear through the window everyday, I can only imagine that he has no respect for her. Because she obviously doesn't care about him. He's probably her accidental child from her last 'casual' relationship. And she's always telling him to "Shut the f*** up!" because she's talking very loudly to someone on the phone about her problems. Always.

And there's a teenage boy who has his friends over all the time and they all sit outside smoking and playing loud music and talking about sex and stupid boyfriends/girlfriends ninety-nine percent of the time. And when they're not over, he's still playing loud music. If it's not heavy metal, rap, or Gwen Stefani, it's Pirates of the Caribbean. I think I've heard Pirates at least forty times since they moved here.

And when they're outside, I'm afraid to leave my apartment. If I look at them, I worry that they're going to shout profanities at me, and if there's no one home, I'm afraid that they're going to break into our apartment and steal what little we have. They seriously freak me out.

Anyway... I just needed to vent. Ope, here we go. The kid is crying again after some harsh words by evil momma. Gah. I despise stupid people. Door slams. More crying.

...Jaron is home, finally. Yay.

-Tsira

Drawing/Writing Game

As promised, here are some highlights from the Somnambulist's game on Wednesday.


-Tsira

Monday, June 13, 2011

Map

I started on my revisions today, and may do more later, but for the moment I'm taking a break.

The first scene, already revised, can be found here.

I also made a map yesterday, and I'm pretty happy with the results. It's not the perfect map with the stylized font or anything, but all of the locations you hear about in my book (plus some others) can be found on it.



-Tsira

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Whee-yu

The road was indeed empty. Although he had to admit it would be easy to do so, no one was going to follow him. There was only one person who would want to know where he was taking this package. But she wasn't going to follow him, not tonight.

--

So Nintendo announced their Wii U console at E3. I finally got a good enough connection to watch their whole presentation (like 70 minutes). I've always been a big fan of Nintendo, for their innovation as well as the gameplay of their games. I'm sure you've heard me talk about The Legend of Zelda before (I beat Majora's Mask again last night), Metroid, Kirby, all the Mario games, Pokemon--they always bring something new to the table.

And they've done it again. While all the other systems (who are too busy loving their own graphics to focus on real gameplay) have been trying to catch up with the motion controls, Nintendo is now far ahead again--and this time with beautiful graphics and lame FPS (first-person shooters) games so that the so-called "hardcore gamers" will shut their stupid mouths. And I quote: "We need more mature games, not kiddi games. Sometimes you just need to shoot someone in the face."

...Sure, it's really mature to blow stuff up, guys (I guess that's why little boys love it so much). And that feeling of 'needing to shoot someone in the face'? I think you need to see a psychiatrist about that antisocial disorder.

Ahem. Next order of business.

Work has officially begun on my second novel, a sort of sequel to Tsirash. It will be a lot different than the first one, starting with the type of plot, cast of characters, and possibly switching POV (point of view) throughout the book.

I cranked out the opening scene yesterday, and Jaron said he's genuinely excited. I'll be sharing at our writing group next week, so I'll have a better grasp of reader response.

Another thing I'm hoping for with this new book is a deeper writing style. More details, little things that make the world richer (without being overbearing or dull), because this time, the story is bigger than just Octras. Sure, he'll be a major player in this new book, but his story is less than half of the big picture now.

-Tsira

P.S. As a side note of nerdiness about Elvish: The placement of ash (no) changes the exact meaning of a phrase. Ashja means "No fire" or "inflammable" while Jash means "Not fire" or "cold". You also may want to note that the Metan word for fire and the Elvish word for fire are the same--but the conjugations differ.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Fantasy is always so... long.

Well, no more work until August.

I've had some trouble with all of this free time. I've been feeling pretty bored, no matter what I'm doing. I have gotten some productish things done (yes, productish) but lately I've been restless.

I've put eight or so songs on the computer this week, and I've messed with some old art. I also started playing Mass Effect (I suck at shooting stuff--it's not my normal type of game, but it seems interesting so far). I've spent a good amount of time just staring off into space, too.

I passed my book off to another person...

...and I'm reading Elantris by Brandon Sanderson.

My biggest reason for doing so was that some of the people in my writing group said that I have a similar writing style to this guy. And I can see some similarities in the way that we put sentences together.

But honestly, Fantasy is killing me right now. I love the idea of Fantasy and Science Fiction novels, and I like exploring these worlds a little, but... I just don't have their verbose talents.

See, it takes a lot of investment to get into one of those huge novels, with sometimes little real gain. I'm on page 154 of this thing, and it's all so much fluff. It's this world where random people became 'gods' all the time, but something happened to that--instead of becoming 'gods' now, random people basically become zombies. They all get thrown into Elantris, the city where these 'gods' used to live. In this world, there's Raoden, who's trying to give hope back to all the dead people in Elantris, there's Hrathen, who's trying to convert all the people of Arelon to Shu-Dereth or they'll all be killed (supposedly), and there's Sarene, who is pretending to be stupid for the king but is actually a clever politician. Of course, they're all big players in the political world, being crown prince, gyorn (High Priest), and princess, respectively.

Plus everything has the same name. There's the Seons and the Aons and the Shaod and Shoar and Teod and the Reod and Raoden and Rao. It makes stuff hard to follow.

...and that's it. Nothing has really happened so far. I've got a nice description of the world, of dozens of people and their motives, of the religions, and of the government, but...

A similar thing happened when I read Eye of the World by Robert Jordan. They didn't even leave the first little town until after 150 pages, and Rand and all of his buddies conveniently didn't know anything about the world they were in, so it could all be explained to the reader. (They had the sheltered life in the little village. Cliche much?)

I'm bashing Fantasy today. Cruel of me to say stuff like this about one of my favorite things.

I guess what I've always tried to avoid is that unnecessary length--and so I set up my book to offer those things I wanted to see/change in Fantasy. Sure, my story is set in this awesome world, but I don't go poking around in every little subject that doesn't need to be explained for the sake of the story. I am a very character-driven writer who chooses concise words for my stories.

That's all for now; peace.

-Tsira

PS. I'm making the font bigger.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Thermal Discouragement Questions

I now have Tsirash in my possession again. And although I would like a few more people to look at it, I read all of the comments that have been added so far. I'm both encouraged and disheartened by what I read. I do always appreciate the helpful feedback, and doing this has given me a lot to work with. On the flip-side, I do like 'Congratulations, I like this a lot.' Though... that's not what this was about. But hearing, 'I love it, but...' makes me a little sad.

It would be crazy if I wasn't, I guess. I mean, this is my baby. This is the fruit of nearly ten years of changing ideas, characters, storylines, and scenes.

I realize that there are a lot of things that are not answered in this story alone. But I chose the limited 3rd person and intended to glue myself to it. There are no extra perspectives, no given motivations by the bad-guy, no hand-holding through the times where he is left in the dark. The reader knows only what Octras knows, because the story follows him only.

I have never known a book to be quite like this one.

That said, there's still a few things to be done to make the story satisfy the questions it raises. I did not intend for there to be as many questions as there were. A few, certainly. But many? No. So this is why I'm discouraged. I'm at a loss for aiding the reader--and especially because some stated that they had questions, but didn't tell me what they were.

And Valerie, Jakob is nine.

-Tsira