Friday, September 23, 2011

Inspiration

I feel really lazy for not writing in over a week. I may have said this before, but my job is very tiring and so when I get home I don't feel like doing anything. Lately that means spending way too much time on video games.

However, just because I haven't written anything doesn't mean I haven't thought about writing. I've gotten all sorts of good ideas this week from people-watching, working, and trimming my mom's bushes... which brings me to the main point of this post.

Inspiration can come from anywhere.

It doesn't have to be from an intense brain-storming session, or even from being slightly productive. Going about work as usual can be just as inspiring as going on a soul-searching journey through the wilderness. And I would never rule out video games as a source of inspiration, either. I started up Minecraft again this week, and as I was making a map and exploring the randomly-generated world, this random thought popped into my head: what if I wrote a story centered around this world? Snow to the North, deserts to the West, mountains and caves to the South and East... that might make a neat setting for a novel.

Of course, inspiration can also come from others. I love having two writing groups--one of people I knew in school, one of people I met through the library system. Each group has a different feel, and so when one group is stumped by a problem, the other can solve it. This past Tuesday the Columbus writing group said something that really stuck with me, and I think I'll be incorporating that into Rael's character. So cool.

Well, I'd like for you, dear readers, to tell me what crazy things have inspired you.

Until next time!

-Tsira

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Warbreaker

WarbreakerWarbreaker by Brandon Sanderson

My rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars: ****^

Well, I'm finally getting around to doing this. I have to tell you, I loved this book. I loved the world, I loved the characters, and I definitely loved the writing style. There are no glaring flaws with the book. However, there were a few little things that bothered me, and so I'm going to explain what took me away from giving Warbreaker a five-star rating.

One thing that I always notice about writing, in any form, is that grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors are everywhere. And while I make mistakes of my own, I'm sad when I see it happen in a formally published place. On a sign, in magazines, newspapers, and especially books (which should be showing off the best writers). Anyway, I'm happy to say that this was generally not a problem in Warbreaker. There were a few sentences I stumbled over, but on the whole, the writing flowed beautifully. But the reason I bring up this point at all is this. On page 501, Vivenna is having a conversation with Vasher--when suddenly Lightsong replies to something Vivenna says. Since Vivenna has never met Lightsong, I assume Mr. Sanderson meant Vasher. But that, little as it is, has been coming back to me every time I think about this book.

The second problem with this book is a smaller form of what I didn't like about Elantris. It is this: when a book sticks to three or four characters for five hundred pages, it is jarring and frustrating to introduce a tiny, trivial character's POV. Here we are in the action--I want to know what is going to happen to the characters I have come to know and love--and there's a random two-page chunk from a guy sitting in his boat. And while this sort of explains the question of "What happened to this thing?" It isn't really even necessary. Because through Vivenna's POV shortly after, we could have filled in the details ourselves.

The last thing that annoys me when I think about it is Vivenna. She's pretty useless. Sure, she gets into a lot of trouble, but she's being led by the hand the entire time. And when no one is holding her hand, she drops off into oblivion until someone rescues her. Her actions (or rather inactions) make her by far the weakest character in the book. I could get into details here, but I don't want to put spoilers in this post.

Like I said at the start, I loved this book. I was even caught by two big surprises! That doesn't happen very often for me; I can usually figure out what's going to happen at least a little while before it does. That was part of why I loved it so much. The little mysteries like who Lightsong was before he Returned and why the God King, Susebron, acts so strangely at first really kept the story engaging. I was happy to ride along, even if I wasn't sure where the story was headed. I believe that anyone who likes fantasy should pick this up. My favorite thing, its original take on magic (the colors and Breath system), was executed in a brilliant way.

Now to see if I can pick up a copy of Mistborn...

-Tsira

View all my reviews

Friday, September 9, 2011

Query Letter Babylon

I should be writing the next part of my sequel right now.

I finally came up with a sample query letter. It says pretty much nothing about me. It's a hook and a few lines to show what Tsirash is about. I still have a lot of research to do agent-wise. Nikki from the Columbus Writing Group lent me a book called Your First Novel, by Ann Rittenberg and Laura Whitcomb. Half of the book is about writing, half is about publishing.

Since my book is already done (although I'm still open for revisions as little issues come up--my brother Andy and I have been trading feedback for the past few weeks) I kinda skimmed the first half of Your First Novel and went straight for the publishing part. It's been really useful and I'm so glad Nikki let me borrow it. I'm thinking about just purchasing another copy so I can have it on hand even after she wants it back. Anyway, there's a lot of work that goes into publishing. I knew that already, and I knew that there was a lot I will have to do to promote my own book. But getting to know what agents do/don't do and what I can expect in terms of waiting periods, questions I'll be asked, advances (money--sure I want to make a profit, but it's not the main reason I'm doing this... if it was, I'd be in major trouble) and contracts.

One great suggestion given in this book (and I'm sure I've seen it elsewhere too) is that I look for the agents of authors I admire, whose writing styles are similar to my own. My brain screams, "Brandon Sanderson!" I finished Warbreaker a week or so ago (a review is coming soon, I promise) and loved it. This may be pretentious, but... I do think we have similarities in style. The idea wasn't even brought up by me. Someone at our writing group brought it up several times a few months ago. "This reminds me of a Sanderson novel," he said. "Have you read anything of his?"

"No... but I will now!"

So far, I've digested two of them, and I definitely want to consume the Mistborn trilogy. Om nom nom.

Words are delicious.

-Tsira

PS. The title for this post comes from a chapter heading of Your First Novel.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

All Sorts of Things

A small box caught his attention. It was unadorned, unlike most of the other things on the table. He picked it up and brushed the dust off with his thumb. A simple carving, shaped like a dragon with a circle beside it, cut into the top. He blew the remaining dust from the marking and twisted the box around, looking for a way to open it, but none could be found.

Like a steel blade, Tsira’s voice cut through the musty air. “It doesn't open.”

--

I'm listening to some music I wrote for Jaron's game. I... really like it. And I don't want all that work to go away. Our new computer, one that needs a new motherboard, is being held by the store until the motherboard arrives. And they're saying "If we can't get it, we'll get you a replacement."

But there is no comfort in that. I don't want a new computer--I just got one, and I've done a ridiculous amount of work on it. A ton of my artwork, newer revisions of my book (luckily that one was backed up in several other places a few days before the final crash), and most of all, my musical compositions--they're all on that hard drive. There's no reason for them to wipe the hard drive, but I'm still terrified. My brain keeps telling me they're going to wipe it just because they can. And then I'll lose all of that work. Jaron told me to back up everything when the crashes first started happening, but as we were doing just that, black screen of death happened.

I feel really emotional about the work I've done the past couple of months. I don't think I can handle losing all of that. Sure, I have mp3s of about half the game music, and versions of my art all over dA, but I'm kinda paranoid. Makes me want to cry when I think about that happening. I've been saying stuff like "if that happens I'll shoot someone," and that's not at all like me.

Anyway... adding to my stress right now are all sorts of other things. I feel like the laziest person on the world for not having submitted queries to fifty agencies already, but the truth is I've already done the hard part. Tsirash is done. How many of the would-be writers in the world have actually gotten that far? I know a lot of people who want to write something and have never done it, because it's a ridiculous amount of work.

If you can call it that. For me it was happiness, and a lot of well-used time. Certainly not 'work' at all.

Although, I love my job... and it's a ton of work. It feels like a service that goes unrecognized. The pay is not that good for what I do every day. But it's because I didn't jump through the career hoops of professionals. I'm a teacher, without the degree. I'm a mom, without the childbirth. I'm a cop, without the training. I'm a psychologist, nurse, and babysitter. My job takes everything I have.

Even my skin.

-Tsira