Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Music Boxes

I love the plinky, metallic tones of a music box. It may be partly due to nostalgia; after all, I had a music box as a child, which played one of the songs I had learned for a recital. I often danced to the little music box waltz in The Forgotten Carols. And sometime in my late teens, I wrote a melancholy music box piece off a ditty my little brother played once. I still remember it. 

There's something hauntingly beautiful about that sound, about its repetitive but elegant loop, about it slowing down and finally stopping--sometimes in the middle of the piece it's playing. So when I find a good one, I'll wind it up and listen, then wind it up again...

...or in today's world, I set it to repeat on YouTube.

As we toyed with the idea of making a visual novel, my husband downloaded a "game" called Juniper's Knot. While I can't recommend it for language reasons, I did enjoy the story and the music, particularly the song that follows. (I'll give you a hint: it's a music box melody. See, no random tangents here.)


Tuesday, March 19, 2013


my heart was a tree
its branches interweaving
entangled, i could see
the chaos she was leaving
her wake broke off sticks
as she traveled right through
she made other trees sick
and ruined their hue
and trying in vain 
in confusion i sunk
i saw she was rain,

and her heart was a stump


(It's kind of an oldie, but I revised it today.)

Monday, March 11, 2013

Of Octras and Jake

I had a crisis at work two weeks ago, and while I was angry and hurt, there was something positive to come out of all of it. I was wasting so much time, I thought; I was letting her dominate me. So much stress led to so much slacking, and I truly was taking work home with me every day. Determined not to let this ruin my life, I set aside time immediately after work to write. And I've been writing every day since.

I would like to share some of that with you. 

Hopefully, this shouldn't need too much context... you can read under the tab Tsirash to find out who these people are, if you don't already know. This is shortly after Shenra and Jake are introduced, and they're at their atha (Ersjaran for house).

Octras wasn't sure how long he sat on the bed, leaning against the wall. He could feel the girls' voices on his back. Tsira's was a low hum and Shenra's had that boyish ring. What they were talking about, he could only assume, with the wall taking half the words and leaving only vowel sounds.
It reminded him of Tsira's reading lesson, how the vowels were also the senses. Her name had an ami and ah in it. With everything else that had happened, he hadn't dared ask for another lesson. And with her arm broken, she wouldn't be able to teach him anything, unless along with all her secrets she was also ambidextrous. He doubted it.
The voices stopped, breaking up his thoughts. But it didn't seem to be over. After a moment their sounds started again, mostly Tsira. He wished he could hear them, but they were probably conversing in Ersjaran, anyway. And there was another wish, to understand that stupid language. He'd known a few people who spoke it, and all he'd learned was yes and no, ta and ash, and a bunch of random, useless words. Things like yellow was karia and ten was onza.
Okai sju, Shenra,” he heard. Jake was home.
Octras expected a response from the other room, but Tsira and Shenra just kept talking.
There was a thump, and then footsteps coming toward him. The boy came in, his face lighting up at the sight of Octras. “What are you doing?”
“A whole lot of nothing.”
“Well, I know a game we can play,” Jake said, opening a drawer. “With these.” He held up a knitted bag.
“Not today, kit,” Octras said. “Maybe later.”
“All right. Are you bored? No? Then why are you sitting like that?”
He folded his arms. “Could you be quiet for a moment?”
“I can't. Londrea tells me so. She says I'm the tsie kio because I talk so much.”
“I see. Why do you call Shenra by your mother's name?”
“She hates it. Almost as much as I hate the obe in my name. If I do it enough she'll have to call me what I want. That'll show her.”
“And what if she calls you by your father's name?”
He puffed up his chest. “Then I still win.”
That was no surprise. If his father was a mercenary and he loved them, it made sense for Jake to want that title for himself.
“So you're from Calvador, Octras, sir? What's it like? Is it far away? What's your papa's name? Was he a mercenary, too? Is that normal for Calvador-orians?”
“Calvadians don't talk a tenth as much as you.”
“I told you. My sister said so.”
“I see.”
“But I shouldn't. I'm sorry. I know I'm being rude.”
Octras shrugged. “You know, there's a league here called the War Dancers. If you ever stop by there, I'm sure one of the readers would be happy to tell you whatever you want to know.”
Jake pressed his lips together, looking up at the window. “What league are you in?”
“I'm not.”
“But don't you have that black thing they wear?”
So the boy had seen it, too. “It's not mine.”
“Then whose is it?”
Octras took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “A friend's.” He pretended to yawn. “I think I need more rest. Yesterday was stressful. Would you mind closing the door on your way out?”
“But, but...” The boy's expression dimmed. “I can do that.”
He took his knitted bag with him when he left, leaving Octras alone with the hum of Tsira's voice.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

LTUE 2013

Two weeks ago, I loaded my car with writing buddies and drove to Provo for LTUE. Standing for Life, the Universe, and Everything, LTUE is a Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror writer's conference. It's a good refresher and a great motivator, since I got a ton of writing out after the conference was over. 

Through no fault of the panelists, the conference suffered this year. You see, last year it took place at a college campus, and this year it was in a hotel. The hotel had uncomfortable chairs, there weren't enough spaces to get into a couple of panels I was interested in, and at one point it got so stuffy and hot that I got anxious (claustrophobic) and had to step out.

But of course, there were some fantastic panels and lectures that made up for it. Some of my favorite notes from this year's LTUE:
  • Lies are all about truth. In order to lie effectively, you must understand the truth.
  • Respect your readers--if you call attention to something, it needs to have some significance--it needs to be seen again.
  • The reader should not see you.
  • Any time you give numbers, make sure they add up!
  • Author is short for Authority.
  • If you don't know something, don't try to cover it up. ("How does it work?" Don't pretend that you do. Say, "I dunno.")
  • Internal consistency is most obvious when you don't have it.
  • If you're pantsing, the first draft is your outline.
  • The prop in a fight has to be right for the time and person. (Teenage girl with a longsword? ...No.)
  • Too many details in an action scene slows the pace.
  •  Every fight has consequences.
  • Sometimes we get too close to our characters to see the problem. 
  • Let characters create themselves. Let them speak.
  • Every word in your book needs to have a job. If it doesn't have one, give it one or get rid of it.