Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter

Since it's Easter, today I'm simply going to repost the most religious flash fiction I ever posted, way back in June of last year.

    The man wafted upward as if carried by a pillow of smoke. Roof no obstacle, he continued to rise high above the copse of redwood trees surrounding his home. A feeling of serenity spread over him, growing along with his altitude. The man’s crooked scowl morphed into a smile long past-due.

   A voice boomed from farther above, saying, “your time in this world is nearly spent. I have granted you bliss, recent years forgiven. You have one last hour here, although you alone know of it. Use it wisely.”

   The man stared at the clouds wide-eyed. His ascent had stopped when the speaker began, yet he wasn’t falling either. He looked down at the ground thousands of feet below him and flailed, the effort jetting him forward. “One last hour,” he said, and then added, “And I can fly.” The smile returned.

   Tumbling through the air, the man zoomed north-west. “I’ve always wanted to see the Aleutian Islands,” he remarked, although his choice of direction was more random than otherwise. The forest below bled to beach and then to sea with what seemed to be successive blinks.

   A puff of tephra alerted the man of his position a several minutes later. Stratovolcanoes were spread out in front of his tilted view. The water below him was an angelic shade of crystal blue. Descending, he reached his hand out to break the surface and awed at its warmth.

   The man shot into a climb, staggered by fits of laughter. “To the Great Wall,” he shouted against the consequential wind while veering south-west.

   A mix of humble villages and smoggy factories littered the ground once the new continent was reached. Not long after, a snake-like structure carving into mountains and woodlands emerged. The man matched every turn for many miles. “It’s magnificent,” the man said. He wiped his eyes with the back of one hand.

   The man made a conscious effort to slow. “Where next?” he pondered. Glancing up, he arrived at a decision. “Jerusalem.”

   Fertile land became arid and dusty. The sky changed tone as well. It was a soft orange when the Jordan broke into view. The man knew his time was running short. He high-tailed it to the largest settlement he could see, the place he realized was closest to his heart.

   The man didn’t know how he found it, he dropped and it was simply there, a little hill. He landed at the top and gasped. One moment­ there was nothing, the next—a cross. On the ruff wood frame was mounted by a bearded figure wearing a crown of thorns. The man dropped to his knees and wept. “Thank you,” he muttered. “Guide me to your house, my shepherd.”

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Where Dialects Go Wrong

I recently began Robert Jordan's third book in the WoT series, The Dragon Reborn.  I've had very few complaints.  The largest of those few was Uno's insistence on using "bloody" and "flaming" half a dozen times in each dialogue.  Sure it was funny the first time, but after a while it got annoying.  That is where dialects go wrong.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Factotum (Analysis)

It took me ten months to finish Factotum.  That explanation is far too long to be recounted.  So I won't.

Factotum is essentially a cross of Shakespeare and "Hobbit-Era" Tolkein.  The protagonist is so young that it's considered a young adult novel.  That's pretty much the only reason I can see for it not being adult.  My vocabulary is pretty large, but I couldn't make heads or tails of a good amount of words.  However, most of that is because they haven't been widely used since the eighteenth century...

D.M. Cornish's ability to reflect the equivalent time period language in his prose is extraordinary.  He had to have done a LOT of research.  Above all else, it all felt seemless.

Nothing bad can be said about any of the characters or the setting.  The plot had a few minor problems in pacing and felt a little erratic at times.

Overall, I give Factotum an 86/100.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Not Even Satan

            My eyes seared in pain.  I took a deep breath, gulped, and consented only when I couldn’t handle it any longer.  Blink.  I bit down on my lip to keep from screaming.
            “Miss Mingles?” said the blue-clad policeman.  He sat at my kitchen table with an empty mug in front of him and a notepad in one hand.  The teakettle started screaming and I almost snapped my eyes shut in surprise.
            “One moment, officer,” I said.  I took both mugs from the table and filled them up with my pungent blend of black teas.  The steam refreshed my eyes as I set the mugs back down on the table.  “Yes?”
            “Can you tell me a little more about what this man looked like?” the officer asked.
            “I could tell you how many hairs he had on his head if I wanted to.  But I’d kill myself before I did.”
            The officer flinched.  “Height, weight, eye color, any information you have will be more than helpful.
            I frowned and turned my eyes downward into the depths of my tea.  Blink.  This time I let a little whimper slip.  “Not a hair taller than five-eight, a hundred and sixty pounds, dark blue eyes, brown hair.  Oh, and he had a white scar on his left temple.  I think it was an inverted cross.  Yeah.”  Even with my eyes open I shuddered.
            The officer tore the page from his notepad, folded it, and stuffed it in his pocket.  “Thank you, ma’am.  I’ll sift through all the files I can get my hands on back at the station.”
            “One more thing, officer,” I said as he moved toward the door.  “Can you give him a message if you find him?”
            “It’s not exactly protocol…”
            “I know.”
            “What do you want me to tell him?”
            “Tell him not even Satan would take his soul.”

Thursday, March 21, 2013

5 Things You Can Get Away With When Writing Children's

1.   Crazy dialogue attribution
Ex.  "Whatever," Tom growled harshly.

2.   Lofty discriptions
I don't really know how to put it in words, but descriptions in (for example) The Ranger's Apprentice series often seem cheesy and like the author is trying too hard.  My first try at my current W.I.P. had lots of these. 
Ex.  "As soon as the King of Ivor, whose name was Devonian, finished saying this, he took the King of Kavimeras with him into the Benbran forest, which broke off right before the castle walls. As he left, he cued several cooks whom outlaid many types of food on a table several yards to Fredric’s left. The table this food was set on was massive and made of cherry, the surface must have been shined, for even when a cloud blocked out the bright sun, the wood still glinted zealously. The food itself was even better looking than the table, and the aroma with it followed suit. There was hot roasted bread, pies of all varieties, and tasty mutton dripping in juices and butter. There was also a boar, tusks sharp as an arrowhead, right beside many other foods such as stag and puddings. Light wine was placed at every seat of the table and there were barrels of more surrounding them. This food was all imported from the southern country of Fabien for a hefty price of four hundred Ivorian coins."

3.   Perfect tenses
In other words, overuse of past and present perfect tenses.

4.   Overly-realistic dialogue
Transcribing a conversation with your four-year-old for use in a story isn't a great idea.

5.   3rd Person Narrative POV
Writing in 3rd Person Narrative POV is possibly the easiest way to tell rather than show.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Xenocide (Full Analysis)

Xenocide really picked up in the last half.  There were a ton of things going on, but they were clear-cut enough to not get confusing.

Orson Scott Card's philosophical arc raised exponentially over the course of the first three books of the Ender Quartet.  Xenocide almost screamed its themes.  I really liked how it was done, although the endless dialogue was a little risky.  It didn't perturb me as much as it felt it should.  My general rule is no more than five lines of dialogue per character (and a max of twelve or so) before I need to get to the plot-moving description.  (Granted, I'm extremely brief.)

By the end I was perfectly fine with the mix of Chinese and Portugese societies.  I see now that the religious themes worked better from a character on Path than possibly anywhere else.

The oddities of the book started to pack on at the end.  The whole "faster-than-light travel" solution seemed a little like a deus ex machina (especially funny with Jane being said to be possibly a god), yet it was pretty brilliantly done, so I'll let it slide.  The book gets a 4/5.  The Child of the Mind will come eventually.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Top Ten Movie Countdown Blogfest

I've been negligent with my bloghops, but figured "why not do this one?"



So, here's my list of top ten favorite movies:

1.   Whisper of the Heart  
2.   Kiki's Delivery Service
3.   Princess Mononoke
Princess Mononoke (1997) Poster
4.   NausicaƤ of the Valley of the Wind
5.   The Cat Returns
6.   My Neighbor Totoro
A girl is near a bus stop on a rainy day holding her umbrella. Standing next to her is a large furry creature. Text above them reveals the film's title and below them is the film's credits.
7.   Castle in the Sky
8.   Rocky IV
9.   Gulliver's Travels
10.   The Eagle

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Marrowsucker

I apologize in advance for the short length and low quality of this flash fic, but nevertheless enjoy.   

     Martha dropped her bagette and screamed.  An oozing serpent slithered across her kitchen floor, drawn out of thin air.  She tried to turn and run, but her eyes were affixed to some jewel-like projection on the creature's face, or at least what should have been its face, and her body wouldn't cooperate.  A slit opened beneath the gem as it stuck out from it a long grey projection, dripping with red saliva.  Or blood.  It could have been either or both.
     The monster rammed right into Martha's leg, sending shooting pains up her abdomen as the tongue penetrated deep through her skin.  She felt her marrow being syphoned out.  The pain was so sharp she almost couldn't feel the bone splintering.  Martha fell to the side.
     The serpent plunged his tongue in and out of Martha's crippling form.  She hollered and cried until all sound and tears had faded.  Her final breath came at last, a plea for death fulfilled.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Knights of MicroFiction---Fitfully Serene

From Imagine Today: "Knights of MicroFiction are back for March.  If you want to join us, just sign up on the linky list [on Imagine Today] and post your piece by 11:59 p.m. [today].  This month's promt, in honor of the coming of Spring is: In around 100 words use the words "blossom" and "green" and describe a Spring scene from either the real world or a made up world.  If you want an additional challenge, include the title of Jess's newly released novel, From the Ashes."

Here's my take, written as a poem:


Fitfully Serene

Yellow darling daffodils

Mark the path to my stream

Bulging with newly melted ice

Pulsing

Fitfully serene

 

White bright blossoms

Dot the branches of my tree

Budding with annual glory

Captivating

Fitfully serene

 

Green show-stopping shrubs

Line up in my garden

Growing from the ashes of my late beloved

Mourning

Yet fitfully serene

Thursday, March 14, 2013

How I'm Going To Write My A to Z Challenge Posts

Yeah, it's a little bit of a cop out.  It's technically about writing, even if by a different definition than these posts usually go by.  I had to do it sometime, and I'm coming off of 154 minutes of trigonometry homework (twelve "establishing identities") and I still have another identity to establish, so I figure I have enough of an excuse.




My Monday posts are going to be standard flash fiction.  It could be from any genre and will always be a stand-alone.

Tuesday posts will remain literary criticism posts.

My Wednesday posts are to be flash fiction pieces from continuing thread-lines.  That means Troll Hunter, the last Fifteen post (hopefully I can finish that off at last), Snail Mail, and Zento adventures.  I may begin another one, although I'll try to wrap up the first three before I do so.

Thurday will remain "Writing Post Day".

Fridays will be "Fantasy Fridays".  Each post will be a fantasy flash fiction.

Finally, my Saturday posts will be speculative fiction.  Therefore, I shall call them "Specualtive Saturdays".  They'll probably be horror or sci-fi more than anything else.  Perhaps I'll throw in an alternate history or romance at some point.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Favorite Authors

I have a few mindblowing trigonometry identity problems that leaving me addled, so I'm just going to list some of my favorite authors today.

Middle Grade
  • Emily Rodda
  • John Flanagan
  • Rick Riordan
Young Adult
  • Suzanne Collins
  • Garth Nix
  • D.M. Cornish
In-Between
  • Orson Scott Card
  • J.R.R. Tolkein
  • J.K. Rowling
Adult
  • Robert Jordan

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Snail Mail (Part 1)

     Lombar drew his broadsword from its enamel sheath.  With one stroke he silenced his employer’s whimpering horse, its leg jutting out at an obscene angle, bone poking out through tangled tendons.  Lombar’s face was straight and cold.  He took a blood-stained cloth from a pocket on his sheath and wiped his sword clean.  While replacing it, he removed the small saddlebag from the dead horse’s middle and strapped it to his waist.  He took a few steps toward his employer, Master Ulrich, a limp form on the wet grass.  Ulrich’s chest pulsed despite two clearly broken ribs.  Light steam billowed from his mouth in a choppy stream.
     The metal tube containing the message Ulrich was delivering remained in his grasp.  Lombar’s brow furrowed.  He shrugged and attempted to pry it away to no avail.  “Master Ulrich?” he said, expecting no response.  Several moments passed without a sound.
     Lombar hoisted him over his shoulder.  He began marching forward, continuing along the dirt path they had been traveling on.  The weight caused him to sway, yet he didn’t falter.  His boots were highly worn and rugged, walking something natural for him.  Rarely had he been allowed a horse for his duties.  Over the years his legs had hardened into steel to compensate.
     He began to whistle a tune he had learned from a traveling minstrel he had guarded.  The solemnness of the song seemed to fit the occasion.  A few birds were singing a countering tone, but other than that it was silent.  A corn field sprung up to Lombar’s left as he walked.  His right was devoid of anything but boggy grassland.  This was practically nowhere to anyone who wasn’t a simple farmer or field hand.  “I suppose that I mayn’t be choosy,” Lombar mumbled with a mysteriously light and formal accent.
     The crisp blue sky was shifting to purple by the time the road bled into a sturdier village lane.  Buildings sprawled out over a surprisingly large tract of land.  A handful of people milled around working or playing on doorsteps outside, most of them refusing to give Lombar even a glance.  Lombar trounced around through the settlement, his eyes flitting.  They stopped when they had fallen upon a multi-floor building, a sign above the threshold proclaiming it as “The Lonely Dove”.
     Lombar entered the inn’s battered door and grimaced, the floor-boards squeaking like foul city rats.  It wasn’t difficult to tell who the innkeeper was, an apron and bulging middle as good as heraldry.  “How fair thee, mister?” Lombar called out.
     The innkeeper set down his tankard and turned, clearly taken aback.  “Doing well, I suppose.  I suspect you hail from afar?” he replied.
     “Aye, from Yorkshire.  My client, this here fellow,” he pointed to Ulrich, “was knocked a-leery off his mount an hour off.  Pray tellest me you hath an open room for the night?”
     “I do, rough gentleman.  A penny for a Yorkie, and chargeless if you have any stories to recount.  You seem the type, at least.”
     The innkeeper guided Lombar upstairs to a small room.  Two cots sat against the wall, an oil lamp the only other furnishing.  He placed Ulrich onto one of them, inspected his broken ribs, and returned downstairs, the smell of ale overpowering.
     “What part of Yorkshire are you from?” the innkeeper asked.
     “From York itself,” Lombar replied.
     The innkeeper nodded.  “And you were a bodyguard there?”
     Lombar turned his eyes down.  “I was the master guard of York Castle.”
     The innkeeper’s eyes bulged slightly.  “What brought you to this profession?” the innkeeper asked as they reentered the barroom.  He added, “Let me get you a drink,” and filled a tankard with amber-hued ale.
     Lombar took a long draw.  “The keep hath been turned to a prison.”
     “That’s unfortunate,” the innkeeper said.  “Did you find much excitement there, in its time?”
     “Aye, I found more than enough.”
     “Do continue, guardsman,” a man at the bar broke in.
     Lombar gave the man a slight scowl.  “It was the night of All Hallows, some ten years past…”

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Writing Briefly

Don't waste words.  Everything written should have two meanings.  Narrate and world or character-build at once.  Long dialogues must die.  Show don't tell, yet do it fast.  Replace adverbs even if it takes more words.  Adding description to dialogue tags saves a lot.  Sometimes "he blinked hard" is more valuable than "the slight shrug of his shoulders and widening of his eyes clearly protrayed his awe."  That is all.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

On Writing

I'll cut to the chase since I've already talked about Stephen King several times.  The last hundred pages of On Writing weren't too bad.  Most of his misfallings I pointed out already, ranging from disregard for the growth of writing abilities and slamming TV.  The only other thing Mr. King did to tick me off in his On Writing section was to diss Robert Jordan.  I suppose it's a taste thing, but it was still very off-putting.

From start to finish, the words themselves were masterful, even if the content wasn't 100% glam.  The memoir section is still my favorite, although I never caught why it was called C.V.  His life experiences definitely made it easy to see why he ended up a horror writer.

Mr. King's writing methods are odd.  Exclusively discovery written with situations in mind, it's crazy that he generally only has two or three drafts.  I'm not a particular fan of his "I live in Maine.  Therefore, most of my books will take place in Maine." approach.  Furthermore, he implanted himself into some of his books, most chiefly The Shining.  It's about an alcoholic author for (insert choice deity here)'s sake.  Edgar Allan Poe displayed the same habits.

On Writing gets an 8/10 in my book.  It was a nice, quick read, yet some of the ideas presented in it are despicable.  It would have gotten about a 19/20 if it weren't for about ten pages.  Was it worth my time?  Yeah.  Could it have been better?  Maybe, although the parts I didn't like were generally subjective anyway.  And the biggest question of all: Should you read it?  Put it midway on your list.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Fantasy Writing Yahoo Group 2-24-13 Prompt

Prompt: On an old atlas you find a continent that you never saw before.


            “How queer,” Roger mumbled.  He traced a finger around the non-fractal shoreline of some “Pinovya” object marring his nineteenth century atlas.  “That ad promised an untarnished 1868 atlas.  My gracious, if this is untarnished...”  Roger scowled.  “Where is that paper?”
            The room was a maze of artifacts.  A supposed replica of the Holy Grail lay sideways on a hand-carved French table.  Dusty tomes spread across nearly every surface.  Roger stumbled around, eyes darting.  There.
            Roger swiped his phone from a pocket of his corduroy blazer and dialed the number.  After three rings, a gruff voice emerged.  “Hello.”
            “Hi, this is Roger Derry.  I bought the atlas you advertised in the Post and find some inaccuracies in your description.”
            “And by that you mean what, my boy?”
            “It had an eighth continent marked in.  It’s clearly been tarnished, despite your promises of the converse.”
            “That’s no mistake.  Pinovya is quite real.”
            “A whole continent that no one’s heard of?  That’s absurd.”  Roger pulled his laptop from an Ottoman foot-rest and punched the word into Google.  Two results.
            “I’m sorry, my boy.  America’s Got Talent is coming on.  Trust me, that atlas is as original as my right hip.”  He added in a mumble, “although I can’t speak for the left one.”
            Roger dropped the phone beside him on his oddly ordinary loveseat.  Two results on Google?  Is it possible...?
            The first link opened up a dark home page.  The heading read: The Real Myth-Land of Pinovya.  Roger scrolled down, a bead of sweat dampening his mouse.  A few grainy, captioned photographs displayed a lush jungle.  The animals were like nothing Roger had ever seen before.  A few had two sets of wings, despite their feathered bodies.  One lay snug against a tree, its mane entangled around a horn.  Its hooves were cloven.
            Roger shook his head as he went backward to click the other link.  This time, a blog popped up on the screen.  On the right sidebar an old man was pictured.  Roger’s hometown blazed below it.
            The latest post was titled “My Last”.  Roger gulped hard.  The words seemed to dance around in his head.  “They’ve never believed me.”  “I’ve seen it.”  “A square island smack-dab in the middle of the Pacific.”  “I don’t know if I’d believe myself if I didn’t know.”  “And yet it’s true.”
            The last six sentences made Roger’s heart drop.  He read aloud, “It pains me to have to pass along with my secret.  I sold the atlas.  That’s the best I could do.  It’s beautiful.  The most beautiful place I’ve ever seen.  Such a pity.”
            Roger closed his laptop.  “Could it be…?” he murmured.