Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Mad World

I've loved Gary Jules' version of the song Mad World for a long time. There's something beautiful about the despair in this song. As I'm sure I've told you before, I've struggled with depression since long before I could really understand how destructive it would eventually become. But there's a level of comfort in the darkness, and it fuels creativity like nothing else I know. Anyway... I shouldn't talk about it any more. Just... enjoy the song.


-Tsira

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Story Starters - A Walk in the Woods

(Reminder: Please vote on my poll! -->)

Because of my recent vacation, I've stumbled across some new stories. But because I have enough on my mind to last a century, I'd like to share those ideas with you. This post is for writers, for those looking to start a new story or perhaps elaborate on something you've just begun. Anything you get out of this is yours to keep!*

You're walking in the woods, the trail just wide enough for one person, leaves rattling in the breeze, the scents of trees and fresh flowers wafting toward you. Now, you don't have to do this in real life to benefit from it. As a writer, your mind is full of ideas. You just have to ask yourself some questions to tap into that creativity.

Who are you? Are you yourself, or are you a creature of the woods? Are you an adult or a child? For the purposes of this exercise, I'm going to say I'm a human child, a little boy with dark hair and blue eyes. Take a moment and think about it. Who are you?

Why are you here? Your answer can be as narrow or as broad as you want. Are you here because you're camping, or hunting, or live here? Are you here because your god sent you? What about those you left behind--perhaps you were kidnapped by trolls and left to die here. Or perhaps you were just hiking with some friends.

Okay, so you're here. You're walking, running, limping, or frolicking along this narrow path... and suddenly, you come across this.




Is this what you've been looking for? Perhaps not--it's a surprise to see this hole through the roots of the stump. But what could its purpose be?

What's so special about this tree stump? Did a squirrel hide its nuts in here, or is there a venomous snake living in that hole? Or... could it belong to fairy folk? The little boy I am decides to put his hand in the hole, searching for something he needs. A magic gem, or a rodent for roasting.

It may be a silly sidequest, or a waste of time. But maybe, just maybe, it might just be the beginning of the adventure you've been dreaming about.

Happy writing!

-Tsira


*Seriously. I don't even care if you credit me. :)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

On Vacations

First order of business! I have a new poll, asking if you'd be interested in an art giveaway. It would be the sort of stuff I sold at CONduit, meaning:


Now for the actual purpose of this post: I just got back from a short vacation at a cabin in the woods, 165 miles away from where I live. It was the sort of cabin that's like a glorified camp zone. The water came from a stream (clean and ice-cold) and there was no electricity. That kind of cabin. What this usually means is that I'm constantly swatting insects and checking for spiders (because I'm not sitting on that chair if there's a spider within ten feet). 

But this year, I got lucky. Not too many bugs, and almost no spiders (thank heavens). And while I was there, I had the opportunity to do some very fun things. So!

The 5 Best Parts of Vacation (in the middle of the woods):
  1. Stargazing - On Sunday night we drove a little ways out to a clearing where we had a clear view of the night sky. In the city, you don't get to see all the stars because of the light pollution, but there are infinite stars out there. And when you think about it, the light from those stars takes years to reach Earth. It's fun to point out any constellations you know and listen to people contemplate the universe and our place in it.
  2. Going on walks - You see a lot of interesting things and get a chance to notice details you normally don't think about when writing--the way you get sticky with sap if you touch a tree or certain rocks, the way the ground crunches under your feet, the scent of pine and the echo of nearby streams. It gives me a lot of good material. Not to mention you might see pretty flowers or animals.
  3. Cooking in a campfire - There aren't many restaurants that can compete with those fire-roasted and tin foil dinners. By the way, if you ever get the chance, try roasting a Starburst. It's amazing what the fire does to them. Mmm.
  4. Quiet time - You can't connect to the internet, and you're away from the distractions of work and friends. Perfect time for cuddling up with a good book, playing card games, drawing pictures, or writing.
  5. Spending time with people you love - I won't elaborate on this one. You know who those people are.
The worst part of the trip? Potty time ('cuz I'm a girl, okay?). Or bugs. Or worrying about bugs during potty time. Yeah.

What are the best parts of your vacations?

-Tsira

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Hookers and Hangers

I missed the first day of the bloghop over at Falling for Fiction, Hookers and Hangers, but I still wanted to participate. The basic idea is that you post some hookers (the first lines of your MS chapters) and some hangers (the last lines of your chapters). Since I'm still working on my rewrite, I'll only post a couple. But this should be fun.

Hookers
  1. The air was rancid with the stench of ale.
  2. A strange melody greeted the mercenary's ears as he shook himself awake.
  3. Crescent  was rightly named, as the high white walls curled around the city in a half-circle.
  4. "Vvelwe-is jash yimn, ni shenra wjero pana ero. Rijn nania ykakimn, ni aesj swin tana maomo."
  5. Octras had never seen so many spices on one piece of meat; he wasn't sure what animal it had come from.
  6. A distant scream pierced his thoughts.
We'll stop there.

Hangers
  1. He shook his head as he followed, wondering what in heaven or hells he had agreed to do.
  2. "Rest well, milady."
  3. Metal scraping stone, rhythmic hammering, and the great breath of giant bellows beat against his thoughts, and he forgot the hollow feeling in his chest.
  4. The man turned the corner and was gone, leaving Octras alone with his doubts.
  5. Cyreth traced the scar on his cheek, nudging Octras. "Ready?"
  6. He was not going to fail. Not again. Never again.
I'm excited to make the rounds and see what everyone else came up with! :)

-Tsira

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Twitter-tweet

You know, I just can't keep up with all the media that's out there. Books, movies, albums, articles, blogs, Facebook, Twitter... yes, tweet tweet. I tell myself I don't have time for these things... but the truth is, I'm always making time to absorb more. And I couldn't help myself. I finally caved and got a Twitter account. All of the fun comments my husband gets on his phone all the time, plus the challenge of the 140 character limit... resistance was futile.


But since I'm new to this tweeting thing, I need your help! Start by following @tsirachel then leave me a comment with your Twitter handle so I can follow you back. The more people there are in my feed, the more fun Twitter gets, so if you have any suggestions--like your favorite authors, etc. on the site--I'd appreciate those as well. 

Thanks!

-Tsira

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Leaving dA

I've been thinking about leaving deviantART. The truth is, I don't visit there often, and I know that basically no one visits anything of mine. I'm usually bored when I go there. Sure, I've followed some amazing artists, my favorite being *sandara. (If I had my pick of artist for my book covers, I'd commission her.)  And I've had some really interesting conversations with different types of people.

But you know, there's... a big gap built into dA, and it's become a problem. See, it's really hard to find the lesser-known but fantastic artists. Basically it's built into two sections--most popular and newest, which seems like an okay idea... in theory. You can sift through the newbie pile or go straight for the stuff that's "guaranteed to be good." But what actually happens is, the people with lots of followers continue to stay popular forever, regardless of the quality of the individual piece, while blooming artists can't even find their own work without going to their home page, which is hard to find without. You have what amounts to a one-second chance of snagging a viewer. So unless you're posting constantly, you slip between the cracks.

Despite what I feel is quality work on my part, I have all of twenty followers, sixteen of which were following me in the first month I joined. I've been on deviantArt for more than three years. And while I am saying now that I rarely visit, that wasn't always the case. I've done my share in entering competitions, following and commenting on others' art, and sharing stuff that I liked, and it's just not satisfying the way this blog is. Writing there goes basically unnoticed, because the visual art gives instant gratification, where writing has to be slowly digested. So I shifted from showing off poetry to showing off sketches and colored works.

But that meant little.

I won't rant about the details or the statistics of failure there, but I and dozens of other great artists are practically invisible. I'm just tired of trying to be noticed by a place that tries really hard to push those like me into the voids of the millionth page. I gave and gave and got nothing in return, and I'm just done. I need to move on and show my stuff to someone who cares. 

Because dA certainly doesn't.

-Tsira

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Mistwood


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

Well, I was disappointed with this one. For one thing, I was hoping for a book about a shape-shifter. Instead I got a heroine who is supposed to be a shape-shifter but pretty much isn't. The Mistwood, along with the “intrigues of the court” mentioned in the description, are glanced over, but never actually explored. I still kinda liked it, I guess, or I wouldn't have finished it... but at the end of the day, all this book ever made me feel was, “Eh.”

The first thing that tipped me off about this book was the use of the mirror trick. You know, as a writer they always tell you not to describe your character by having them look in the mirror. It's hard to describe your POV character, sure, and it works when writing rough drafts. But if you see it at the beginning of a book, it's usually a sign of laziness. Often throughout this book, days at a time are passed over in a few paragraphs, which basically tell us that Isabel is good at getting information from people and playing court. It doesn't show us how. And every time someone feels something, it's told to us. “Anger crossed his face,” or some such. People don't give cues, we're just told what they're feeling. Which makes all the emotional moments fall flat. Description=failure.

Dialogue was also not the author's strong suit. Everyone sounds the same, their conversations feel forced whenever something important comes up, and the people think they're so good at keeping all of these secrets and getting other people to do what they want. And good old Clarisse is master at this game, because the author says so. Not. Because Isabel is so sweet and trusting, counter to the Shifter's given personality, she falls for Clarisse's tricks, falls in love with Rokan and Kaer even as they spit obvious lies at her, and still somehow ends up with the truth. Probably thanks to Ven—the only character I liked (even though he was an eager cliché of a character).

My only real investment in the book was in the concept: inhuman creature somehow losing the ability that makes her unique, invulnerable creature able to feel pain and fear. I wanted to know what happened in that past of hers, what made her run away... while the basics were obvious, the details were fuzzy, and I was hoping for a nice flashback or realization that went beyond those basics. (Spoiler alert: there are no details. You'll never find out what spell was used on the Shifter—it gave the badguys five seconds. That's all you get.)

The world around that concept, though, fell flat. I had a hard time understanding the magic system—sorcerers take so much time to develop spells but anyone can buy those spells and use them, and there seem to be an infinite supply of teleports in the world. How is that supposed to work? It doesn't make sense. Also, there's mention of politics but they have no substance. I guess that comes back to the “intrigues of the court” that supposedly exist in Mistwood.

Eh. Disappointing.

-Tsira

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Procrastination/ME2

I've been rather lazy lately--really I just procrastinate too much. Sometimes I worry that I should be more formal here. More... professional. It keeps me from posting. And every day, the world says that I should. "If you want to be a professional, you have to act like one." Regular posting and good advice means professional blog. So they say. But I can't spout that stuff all the time. Eh, I don't know what I'm saying here. No great advice today, no professional thoughts to speak of. (Eww, I've said 'professional' four, er, five times in one paragraph.)

The week has been slow as I've settled into my summer freedom. 

After a month of creative explosions, I can only say that I finished painting the kobold minions I was working on, drew a bunch of characters that may or may not be included in Dungeonball, and wrote a little over fifty pages of my rewrite... meaning that I fell short of my goals. I still have a good twenty chapters ahead... and basically sixty days to write them. Still have lots of artwork ahead of me, still have lots of manuscript to pore over, still have to make "hay" figurines, still have, still have... blah.

Looking at all that I've done, though, I feel okay. The fact that I've completed four drafts of a novel... that's the biggest thing that makes me happy. I'm not a quitter. I don't leave work half-finished. One step at a time, things will get done.

Plus I just beat Mass Effect 2. This is what I do when I procrastinate... video games are great at eating away time I don't have. But hey, it was fun. Jaica Shepard brought her whole team (aside from the crew... sorry, Kelly...) back, and she's happy loving Thane for the rest of his life. 

She looks pretty dang evil, though, with the glowy scars. We thought it was a good contrast to my husband's beautiful, angelic Alyce, so we kept them... It's fun to see the differences built into the game between being a paragon and renegade.

My husband's character Alyce, Paragon, loves Liara.

My character Jaica, Renegade, loves Thane.

Well, okay, so I've been a little obsessed with playing it in my lazy state. But it's over now, right? Right? ...you mean there's another one...? Crap.

Until next time. Peace.

-Tsira