Friday, August 31, 2012

Pub Crawl

Pub Crawl, short for Pub(lishing) Crawl, is a blog run by several women in the writing industry.  Someone posts nearly every day on a range of writing-related topics.  You can find Pub Crawl here.

Thursday, August 30, 2012


Whether in a lustrous castle by the sea or dotted across a swathe of fields and mountain chains, a story must take place somewhere.  That "somewhere" is part of the setting.

Whether at the dawn of civilization or the high-tech future, a story must take place at some time.  That time is the other part of the setting.

There are many options for story settings.  Your options are somewhat limited, however, by your genre.  Epic fantasy tends to have a setting that mirrors Medieval Europe.  Science-Fiction almost always takes place in the future.  Literary works have more lee-way, but are usually modern or close to it.

The setting of a story is important as it makes it engrossing for the reader.  It also defines technology in-world and can fuel conflict.  Books with boring settings tend to end up boring, whether the characters and plot are great or not.

Setting is a major element of story-telling.  It shares that distinction with characters and plot.  Those three elements meld together, creating a story in the end.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


It was a true miracle that I remembered to post.  I was in bed listening to my iPod and happened to select a podcast that was an update and included an old episode within it.  This led me to want to look up one of the people from the old episode.  Without being guided to pick that particular podcast, I can say with fair certainty that I would have forgotten about posting.  Big thanks to "The Man Upstairs".

Monday, August 27, 2012

Fifteen - The Weakener

I'm finally going to post another bit to my serial.  However, there's some bad news.  It's more of a teaser than flash fiction.  Sorry.  Soccer has been ruling my life for the last few weeks.  I promise an epic battle next week.

            Laughter filled the valley.  A dark face erupted from the ground.  The eyes were wholly white.  A smile came almost to their corners.
            “Back at last.”

Friday, August 24, 2012


Want a continuous radio of music to listen to during your bouts of writers' block?  Try Pandora.  Pandora takes a song, genre, or artist of your choosing and creates a radio station based upon it.  You can influence later songs by giving songs a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down.  Listening to Pandora is generally a great experience.  Just don't waste all of your writing time on it.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


Are you writing the tortured thoughts of a killer or the aspirations of a teen girl?  No?  Perhaps a complex magic system through the smudged spyglass of an exploring mage?  Either way, the story you write will have a POV (point of view).

The first two possibilities are examples of first-person.  The viewpoint-character is the center of focus.  The pronoun "I" is used extensively, along with "mine", "my", etc.  Young adult novels tend to be first-person, as the POV allows for compelling use of voice and feels less dry than third-person.

Third-person is the other main POV.  It can be further broken down into the categories of omniscient and limited (along with cinematic and narrative for certain sources).  Third-person is used widely in adult speculative fiction.

The "middle-ground" exists, of course, that is, second-person, however, it is incredibly rare in fiction.  Second-person is used in persuasive essays and little else, save some creative horror.  Its pronoun is "you".

Every story has a POV.  Which is your favorite?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


I had a pretty wicked skirmish on Age of Empires III.  I was playing the expansion, WarChiefs, as the Aztec nation.  I started out slow on Amazonia, but come the third age I had penetrated across the river and defeated one nation.  My allies defeated the second as I built up an army of archers to destroy the final enemy, crippling them quickly.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Serpent

Again, I'm holding off on my serial.  Sorry.  This week's flash fiction is one of my favorite.  I wrote it back in February.

     The gale whipped at the branches of a large oak tree.   Acorns thrashed out into open air smashing into the vast picket fence that surrounded a house and a small field.  The gate sputtered and creaked, brass hinges weakened after years of weathering.  Fences were common in these parts.  They separated the kindly commoners that lived within from dangerous creatures that stalked the land.  Ever since the militia of Melteria was sent west to combat invading giants, minor beasts had multiplied and become a major problem.  Most Melterians had always had a fence for protection, but poor farmers such as the owner of this small property could not improve it to account for the current conditions. 
     A sudden massive gust pried the latch away on the gate, forcing it open to slam against the inside of the fence.  The farmer, a slight, feeble man, heard the impact.  He ran for his spare sickle that was kept in his bedroom trunk.  Sickle in hand, the farmer unbolted his front door, wife aghast, and peered outside.  In the front yard slithered a thick green serpent with dual-tiered fangs.  It advanced toward the farmer’s dwelling, piercing red eyes ripping at the farmer’s morale.  Despite this, the farmer threw open the door and stumbled out, sickle raised.  It took most of his strength to simply keep the weapon in his grasp. 
     The serpent lashed out at the man, teeth imbedding into soft calf.  The farmer stepped backward and kicked.  The creature dislodged and reared his head slightly.  With a great amount of difficulty, the farmer swung his sickle down at the serpent with a hack and a sweeping motion.  The serpent recoiled and narrowly avoided his stroke.  It moved out and to the right in a slight arc.
     The farmer, wind blurring his vision as it pulled at his eyelids, didn’t see the motion and stood still for a moment, free hand grasping his injured leg.  The beast took another strike at the man’s opposite leg, forcing a virtually inaudible exclamation.  The farmer lifted his boot, shook off the serpent, and brought his foot down hard upon its head.  He sighed in joy for only a moment, then rushed to his gate and closed the door.  The farmer and his wife were safe, at least for today.

Friday, August 17, 2012


I'm running out of things to plug.  So, this week I am plugging the manufacturer of the laptop I use for most writing and blogging.  Most people already have a rough idea of what Acer is (and if you didn't my last sentence told you).  Not only are Acer computers good for basic computer functions, they also have good graphics cards for gaming.  That's all I have to say.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Novelette

I honestly can't think of a single novelette that I've read.  Are they really that rare?

A novelette is a piece of prose between 7,500 and 17,499 words.  The novelette should not be confused with the similar novella, which has a word-count between 17,500 and 39,999 words.

I've never completed a novelette before, although I am working on a piece that is likely to fall into the lower standards of novelette range.

Have you written or read any novelettes of note?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Knights of MicroFiction #6 - More Than A Spark

As my general post for today, I am participating in the Knights of MicroFiction bloghop.

It is (quoted from Jessica McKendry's blog) "a bloghop hosted by [Jessica McKendry] and Kathy at Imagine Today on the 15th of every month (except April, because the A-Z Challenge makes things crazy!). We came up with it as a way to meet new friends, help build the blogging community and (hopefully) spark your creativity!"

Here is my entry:

More Than A Spark

  My breathing was haggard.  The air poised to kill, it had to be.  That blasted candle.
            I held the lump of blue wax in my right hand, the one that wasn’t adorned with what felt like a million gashes.  Why did I have to steal it from the supermarket downtown?  There were plenty of reasonable things I could have swiped.  No, I shop-lift for candles, pay-as-you-go phones, and coffee mugs.  Forget the “klepto”, I’m just a maniac.
            They used to call me “Crazy Clumsy Cornelia” in high school.  Did they know then that I was destined to perish because of my flaws?  Worse than that, most of them didn’t even bother to learn my real name.
            Another wave of pain shot through my hand.  I ripped out a ceramic shard and tossed it in the corner.  The pain dulled and turned to a chill with a surge of fresh blood.  Wow, I might bleed out before I can asphyxiate.
            Heat radiating from the doorway made quick work of my bleed, thickening the maze of scabs.  I plucked out more shards.  It’s not like I had much to do but wait to die.
            I wept as I read the remains of my coffee mug: “…can prevent wild-fires.”  The first part should have said: “Only my two left feet…”  It only took a second for my candle to create a blaze fiercer than the best depiction of Satan’s realm.  Of course, I had to land on my coffee cup.  An empty, newly-purchased house with only my three most recent lifts and a tumble takes my hand, house, and life.
            What was that?
            It can’t be the phone; I already checked the battery.  A siren?
            Cough.  No!  Hack.  No!  Everything was fading.  I heard the pounding stream of water outside.  I smiled.  But it wasn’t hope that fueled my grin.  I laughed at the lustrous light that replaced the flames.  One step forward, two, three...

(The word count is 322.)

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Bill

I'm very tired, so I'm going to post two versions of one flash fiction piece I wrote a while ago rather than another part of my serial; sorry.

Second-Person Version

            You crouch behind fallen timber, faced pressed against the cold bark.  The moon casts faint illumination, the only light.  Your breath comes raggedly.  The last sprint was hard.  Fortunately, they seem to have lost you.  Or did they?
            You stretch weary hamstrings while keeping your body low.  With a groan, you arch slowly and rise to a stand.  Running feels natural now.  It feels as if you’ve run every day of your life.  Legs hungry for ground, you move forward, only stumbling slightly.  You can’t afford to trip.
            Wind tears at your face, yet no tears spring forth.  You ran out of tears hours ago.  Hope is one of few things you haven’t depleted.  Strength can be borrowed.  It can be bought for a price.  Eventually the total adds up to your life.  It makes a better death anyway.  The fate of weakness, of stopping for longer than a moment, is worse than a cool, moist grave.
            Safety feels near.  You spot a wall, the wall of a city.  Mouth feeling coarse, you vomit, last strips of energy harnessed to break into a dead sprint that rattles your whole being.  A dead sprint to salvage life.  How queer. 
            A man stands at the gate, stoic, bland.  He glances at you with steely eyes.  You smile madly.  What?  Pain erupts from your back as you collapse, clawing at the yellow grass in front of you to try to continue.  The man frowns.  “Sorry,” he utters, then rushes within the walls. 
            So close, yet so far away.  There seems no point in screaming.  You let out a cracking moan nonetheless.  Your lips contort into a smile.  The price, you must pay the price.  Even a scream has a cost now.  The toll is only half-pence perhaps, but you spent your last some time ago.   Black, white, you are weightless.  You see light, blessed light, with only a scar of darkness.  Light?  It seems that a bill has saved your soul.  

Third-Person Version

            Ivan crouches behind fallen timber, face pressed against the cold bark.  The moon casts faint illumination, the only light.  His breath comes raggedly.  The last sprint was hard.  I think I lost them.
            He stretches his weary hamstrings while keeping his body low.  With a groan, he arches slowly and rises to a stand.  Running feels natural now.  It feels as if he’s run every day of his life.  Legs hungry for ground, he moves forward, only stumbling slightly.  I can’t afford to trip.
            Wind tears at his face, yet no tears spring forth.  He ran out of tears hours ago.  Hope is one of few things yet to be depleted.  Strength can be borrowed.  It can be bought for a price.  The fate of weakness, of stopping for longer than a moment, is worse than a cool, moist grave.  They’ll steal it.
            Safety feels near.  Ivan spots a wall, the wall of a city.  Mouth feeling coarse, he vomits.  The last shred of remaining energy is harnessed to break into a dead sprint that rattles his whole being.  A dead sprint to salvage life.  How queer.  
            A man stands at the gate, stoic.  He glances at him with steely eyes.  Ivan smiles madly, then frowns.  What?  Pain erupts from his back as he collapses, clawing at the yellow grass in front of him to try to continue.  The man frowns.  “Sorry,” he utters, then rushes within the walls.  I suppose I shouldn’t blame him.
            The bushes directly behind Ivan rustle.  A sound from his nightmares comes to his ears.  I’m not going to make it.  So close, yet so far away. 
    He lets out a cracking moan.  Pain racks him.  The price, I must pay the price.  A weak smile forms on his face.  The toll is meager, yet more than he has left.   All turns black, then white.  He sees light, blessed light, with only a scar of darkness.  I’m weightless
    It seems that struggling isn’t futile after all.  A bill saved my soul.


Saturday, August 11, 2012


I forgot to post yesterday for the first time.  For that I apologize.  Due to this, there will be no plug for this week.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Deus Ex Machina

Your character was about to die.  Nay, he should have died, yet he didn't.  A metaphysical force saved him.  The writing world calls this action a deus ex machina.

Deus ex machina is a Latin [1] term meaning "god from the machine", as the action was often performed by an elaborate machine on stage in Greek dramas [2].

In the writing world of today, a deus ex machina does not have to be performed by a god, it can be simply a highly "convenient" happening, such as a previously unintroduced character showing up to save the day and dying on the next page.  There are far more examples to be found.

Using a deus ex machina cheapens your prose.  It is far from recommended.  The alternative is, of course, a properly foreshadowed, or at least completely rational, ending.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

New Novel

A few days ago I had two ideas that hit me within a few hours of one another.  I'd had each of them hit me before, but never that close.  I decided to combine them.

My new novel is going to "Hayao Miyazaki meets Fire Emblem."  Since some people probably don't know what/who those are, I'll explain briefly.

Hayao Miyazaki is a Japanese director.  He has directed and/or written the screenplay to many successful anime productions.

Fire Emblem is a turn-based strategy video game.  I plugged it a while back for more information.

Anyway, I wrote down the main things in Hayao Miyazaki's films and the main things in Fire Emblem games and rolled with it.  I also added some aspects of epic and urban fantasy.

The basic plot of my novel is this: Sophia, a recent teen, is thrown into a war when she follows a scruffy thief out of her Haven, a walled citadel she's never left.  Almost everyone, soldier and farmer alike, are fighting over the four metropolises spread across Maccia.  Sophia and the rogue, Biter, assemble a group of naves and pros to fight a brigand party large enough to topple Urbaater to the west before they can seize it.  During the final assault, Sophia learns an important lesson--everyone, even the lowliest thief, is worth fighting for.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Fifteen - Farewell

Simply put, here is part four of my serial, Fifteen.

            Amelia’s hair fell to her waist.  The dark locks were braided into three plaits, tied to one another by bands of golden linen twisted into triangles.
            Staring blankly, she said, “I can’t believe that it’s been a year already.”
            Mr. Wood replied, “Yes, miss, a short time in the full scheme of things.”
            “I’ll miss you,” Amelia stated, her voice low.
            “I won’t truly be gone, miss.  I shall be at your side always.”
            Amelia nodded and paced around the Strongroom.  She fiddled with her plaits.  “I know.”
            “I would like for you to learn one more thing before I transform.”
            “What is that?”
            “What you shall be up against.”
            Amelia gulped.  “You said that I have until I reach adulthood before I must fight.  Is that untrue?”
            “Her forces are beginning to assemble, if the times have not changed.  It is far from uncommon for fighting to break out early, although rarely at the fullest scale.”
            “Who is “her”?”
            “They call her the Princess of Darkness,” Mr. Wood began.  He shivered.  “Tovorchica, the Weakener.”
            Amelia’s face scrunched.  “She has come before?”
            “She rises from the Strength itself.  A part of it she tainted some three thousand years ago.”
            “How do I fight her?”
            “You must harness the whole Strength, including the taint.”  He paused.  “Both of us shall perish in the Unleashing.”
            Amelia’s eyes flew open.  “Both of us!”
            Mr. Wood frowned.  “I speak the truth.  I shall be consumed along with you.”  Bowing stiffly, he stated, “Farewell, miss.”

Friday, August 3, 2012


Do you want to keep a handy list of books that you've read (plus reviews), books to read, and/or books you're reading?  If so, Goodreads may be for you.  Goodreads, found here, allows you to stay connected with other prolific (or casual) readers and manage your reading.  Have fun on Goodreads today.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Age Groups

When you walk into the fiction section of a book store, how are the books separated initially?  The answer is usually--by age group.  There are three major age groups for marketing (only two for publisher's terms, as the first two are combined).

The first age group is children's.  For book store marketing, children's refers to anything under young adult.  Publishers consider young adult books to also be children's.  Children's books are further divided into picture books, early readers, chapter books, and middle-grade.  Most fiction books sold are children's books.

Young adult is the second age group.  Books in this group are geared toward teens and may contain content that is unsuitable for pre-teens, although that is somewhat rare.  Young adult books usually sell less than children's, but more than adults'.

The final age group is adults'.  Mature themes and high complexity abound in the category, yet they aren't necessary elements.  Thrillers and romance novels are the most popular adult books.

Which group are you most keen to browse?