Thursday, August 30, 2012

There is no spoon

In the matrix, lack of a spoon was cool, good even.

In a book though, lack a plot is certainly not cool, and definitely not good.

So my editor gets back to me and basically tells me that 80,000/90,000 words in my first book is back-story. There is no plot. Even though my editor said the back-story was interesting, a series of interesting events in chronological order do not constitute a plot (though the second book in the best selling Kingkiller Chronicles would beg to differ).

Anyway, I am back to the drawing board. Looks like I am going to keep you all waiting for a little bit longer, but a much better book is going to come out of this process. No more eating with my hands.

Time to reach for that spoon again.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

24 Hours of Self-Loathing

We all have doubts sometime, but as long as we don't let them consume us there is nothing to worry about. Sometimes we fail. To err is human, wise men and women have said as much, right?

Doesn't mean we have to like it, but it does mean that we have to expect it and be ready for it. That was we can make its stay as brief as possible.

Time to suck up this little mess and move on.

Time to get back to writing.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Time to give up?

Sometimes you build things up so much in your own mind, so much so that you start you believe in yourself and what you can achieve.

Then someone comes and tears your castle of playing cards down. They show you the truth. They reveal just how feeble, weak, and pathetic your creation is.

At these times you cannot help but wonder it perhaps it might just be better to burn the deck.

Maybe cards just ain't for me.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Book Review: Elantris (Brandon Sanderson)

This book was solid. Besides the main concept of Elantris there was nothing about it that was truly mind blowing. There was never really a scene that made me go "wow" or a dialogue which really stuck in my mind, but throughout the whole thing the pacing, plot, characters, and dialogue were good, not amazing, but good none the less.

Strengths
- Stand alone fantasy, wrapped up nicely.
- The bad guys are not so black and white, and get a lot of attention. Often stories only focus on the heroes, which can be great, though seeing things through the bad guys eyes can be refreshing.
- Solid pacing, with a great build up of tension throughout the whole novel.
- The main character, the prince, is well done. I enjoyed every single one of his chapters.
- Low magic, and magic feels special. I like this because it makes the dangers that the characters face challenging, they cannot simply teleport out of danger.
- Smaller scope, it is nice to see a story that does not have the fate of the world hanging in the balance. The author creates tension without having to resort to nuclear weapons.
- Lots of small threads and foreshadowing, all of which seem to be wrapped up rather nicely by the end, giving a good sense of conclusion.

Weakness
- Fight scenes not done very well, nothing like some of the fights you get in a Robert Jordan novel, or Ian Irvine (lesser known but highly recommended fantasy author). The were not terrible, but they do not ring of someone who has had fighting experience. At one point someone takes a step back and kicks a sword out of someones hand, the someone who is supposed to be a renown warrior. This was kind of silly. The guy had a sword pointed at his throat, just getting reach and not losing a leg is hard enough, but actually hitting with enough force to dislodge the sword from someones grip is very, very difficult. In martial arts training I have seen people kick someones hand away if they carried a knife or something, but only moving their hand, not making them drop the weapon, not to mention the fact that a sword at your throat is going to be at least three foot of reach to get through. This might have been forgivable if the warrior was a newbie, but the author built the warrior up all through the book, only to have them disarmed so simply and easily. It was a little bit annoying.
- The strongest scenes were from the prince's POV. I feel like the novel might have been stronger overall written from his POV entirely. I got a little bored with some of the other people. Then again, the author only had one book to develop a lot of characters, so I do not consider this a big problem. Like I said in the strengths section, I liked the view from the bad guys perspective.
- The author "tells" instead of "shows" a little too much sometimes. Still, this was his first book.
- A little low on the action (explosions and blood etc.) until right at the end. This did not bother me, but some people might get bored.

Summary: The book is great, I feel warm and fuzzy writing about it, which is a good sign. The strengths easily outweigh the weaknesses, so I would recommend picking it up if you don't mind a story that takes a while to build. I am looking forward to reading more Sanderson. 4/5 stars.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Grey Worlds: Red Claws - Teaser Prose

Sorrow. Loss. Regret. Solitude. All these things were felt through the song, carried by a voice ancient, words both loud and soundless, as soft as water and as hard as diamond, filled with the kind of hope and loneliness that only the dying know.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Book Review: On Writing (Stephen King)

Stephen follows the K.I.S.S. principle here, Keep It Simple Stupid, and it serves the book well.

The first part of this book talks about how he became an author. This section was not only interesting, but also gives the reader an example of Stephen's writing in general as he explains his past.

The on writing and what writing is sections are fun to read and easy to understand. There is not a terrible amount of detail or examples, which may annoy some readers, but if you are just looking for general concepts it is more than adequate.

The On Writing / What Writing Is section of this book can be summarized pretty simply:
Being a drunk/addict does not help make you a better writer.
Art is a support system for life, not the other way around.
Writing is telepathy.
Read a lot and write a lot. This will help build a toolbox of skills, grammar, vocab, etc. Need to write a lot to be good.
Kill the passive voice.
Kill adverbs.
Situation trumps plot (i.e. stuck in a car, big crazy dog outside, what now?).
Don't force the plot, have the characters react and adapt the plot accordingly. Make it believable.
Use simple words and make the characters speak like real people, swearing etc.
Don't make strange connections for descriptions (google Fifty Shades Generator for examples)
Let the dialogue speak for itself, the old show don't tell.
Write with the door close, no distractions
Second draft = first draft - 10%
Take 6 weeks off between first and second draft, don't touch it. Everyone has their own editing process, but time away is a must.
Again, show don't tell.

I am sure there are many more, but that is a decent summary.

If you consider yourself a writer or a writer-to-be then read this. Even if you know it all hearing it again won't hurt.

Waiting

Waiting for the bus. 
The crickets are loud. 
The people silent. 
Cars roll by. 

Time to go.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Book Review: Wool Ombibus (Hugh Howey)


Wool (link) is one of the best works of fiction of recent times. I would recommend it to anyone, especially anyone who calls themselves a fan of science fiction.
Concept: 5/5. The idea of humans living underground to survive an end of the world scenario is not new (I immediately thought of the Fallout video games), but the idea behind the cleaning concept here is definitely one I have not seen before. I love how it delves into the psychology of the cleanings, why they do it, and how people deal emotionally with the cleaning. The scenario of the cleaning drives the plot and it is well justified and explained. I had no problem accepting what happened.
Plot: 4.5/5. After the initial concept, which is wrapped up in wool 1, wool 2-5 link together a very strong plot. I found wool 2 a little weak on the plot side as not much happened and there was little character continuity carrying on from wool 2 to wool 3-5 (except Juliette who they meet at the end of wool 2). That said the characters in wool 2 were great. I would treat wool 1 as an extended prologue to wool 2-5, and perhaps wool 2 could have been better connected to the main plot in wool 3-5. There were lots of twists throughout the series, and with the exception of wool 2 I did not see them coming, which made them very satisfying. Overall, I found the plot the strongest once the main character Juliette became the main focus, i.e. wool 3-5.
Character Decisions: 5/5. Often unbelievable character decisions let books down for me, not with Wool. As with the concept justifying the plot, I never felt like the actions of the characters were "out of character". The actions of the characters were always believable. What the characters did was well explained and justified.
Pacing: 4.5/5. I found the pacing on wool 2 a little slow, and wool 1 was set up as a short, so it is hard to gather much momentum in it (Wool 1 was all about the twist really). Wool 3-5 was fantastic however, and I flicked through the pages very quickly!
Voice: 5/5. I would give this more than five stars if I could. All on the primary characters in this book had very strong, distinct voices and thoughts throughout the entire omnibus. It was easy to get emotionally connected with these characters as they usually felt distinct and complex, with more than just one side to them.
Prose: 5/5. The quality of prose in this book is fantastic, as good as any book published by a traditional publisher (recently I reviewed The Name of the Wind, which has great prose, I would put this on par with that book).
Typos/Bad Grammar: 5/5. Non-existent (that I could find). Wool does the self-publishing world proud.
I really enjoyed reading Wool and I am very much looking forward to future works from the Author.

Silver and Jade Teaser Song


Euvaris signaled for the flute and harp to start, letting the crowd settle for a few moments before starting to sing once again.

Oh! I’ve been around the world once or twice, 

Kissed a fair lady and held her thrice, 

But in all my time, 

The one who makes my heart chime, 

It’s her… 

Euvaris pointed to the blonde barmaid and paused, letting the audience join in.

“THE EASY LASS!” roared the crowd.

Gars stepped up and began his solo, his rhythm light and easy, many a patron’s foot tapping along. He went on for nearly a half a minute, before stepping back to allow Euvaris to continue the next verse.

Oh there have been ones who speak sweetly, 

And ones who fill my stomach a completely, 

But in all my time, 

The one whose bed I’d like to climb, 

It’s her… 

Again Euvaris paused, this time pointing at the brunette - who couldn’t help but smile despite the crude lyrics. The crowd responded with vigour as he singled her out, clapping and singing along with him.

“THE EASY LASS!”

Euvaris leapt from the stage and spun on his boots, Gars and Kaes joining in a flute and harp duo behind him. Unlike his youngest brother he had no trouble dancing, and he quickly tapped his way over to the brown haired barmaid who was struggling to start her first day at work. To the cheers of the crowd he took her hand and pulled her to towards the stage, leading her through a routine with ease despite the fact that she had little feel for rhythm.

She certainly would not do. Euvaris could see she as pretty but there was no way he could marry a woman who couldn’t dance. He released the young woman and jumped back onto the stage, settling in for the final verse.

Oh they have come pretty and they have come lame, 

But to me they are all one and the same, 

For in the end, 

The only one who makes my heart bend, 

It’s her, it has to be her… 

He dragged the final note on, waiting for the crowd one last time.

“THE EASY LASS!” they finished as one, the music cutting off just as the crowd burst out in a thunderous round of applause, the sound only broken by the occasional soft thud as a few iron squares skidded along the stage.

Writing Progress


Oh you didn't know? I am writing novels!

Writing Progress as of July 31st, 2012.

Grey Worlds: Silver and Jade - Awaiting editorial analysis, found cover artist, found map artist (Est. October 1st 2012 Release)

Grey Worlds: Red Claws - Awaiting Editor (Est. December 1st 2012 Release)
Orc of Many Questions - 45% (Est. January 2013 Release)

Grey Worlds: Fading Memories - 20% (Est. February 2013 Release)

Monday, August 6, 2012

Blurb "Grey Worlds: Silver and Jade"


I had once believed that that the crusade was just. Only now do I begin to doubt, to wonder if I have been played the fool.

The war against the Suei, my war, shattered tenuous balance of power that had existed in the world. It was all for naught, even with the destruction of my enemies their curse remains, eating away at our borders, leaving death and madness in its wake.

The cost of the war was too high. In the years to come I doubt that we will have the strength to hold back the storm gathering in the Federated Kingdoms, lands that have fallen under the sway of wretched men and the golden god of the sun. Even the children of the moon have forsaken us, leaving only a pair of silver eyed babes behind, hands too tiny to hold the cloak of shadows that shields us from the light.

An end is approaching.

I am afraid.

The Diary of Emperor Delmaius Onstradii.
Winter, Day of Coins, Sixth Day of the First Month, 1128 A.E.

***

A fantasy epic set in the Grey World of Erenarc, a land born of light and shadow. Two princes, one striving for perfection, one just to survive, will begin a quest to uncover the mystery behind an ancient curse, a touch of violet crystal that threatens all.

Yet even more sinister threats lie waiting, masked in the guise of the faceless... and before long the princes shall learn that not even in their heart of power are they safe.

They shall learn that even the mighty can fall.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Music for Writing

I am an engineer by profession, and I approach it very logically, but writing is definitely one of those things that I do by feel. It I cannot engage my emotions in my writing it comes of dry, and even if someone might enjoy reading it I certainly get little satisfaction from writing it.

Music helps sometimes. Sometimes it gives you that shiver down your spine, enough to forget the real world and escape into the story that you want to tell.

Here is one of my favorite music channels:

Grey Worlds Book 1 Sent to the Editor

Grey Worlds: Silver and Jade has been sent to the editor. Scheduled for release October 1st!

More previews to come!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


The Grey Worlds

In the beginning there was nothing. No time, no darkness, no light, no sound, or air, or water or anything else. Nothing but nothingness.
Then, by chance or perhaps a hand divine, the nothingness began to break. From the wound came two eternal beings, one of pure light and one of pure darkness, their passage carried by the wings of time. They were the two halves of the nothingness that had been, opposites born only to destroy one another. For a millennium they fought, the battle raging like a tempestuous ocean, its aftermath etching out the cosmos.
Then, something odd and profoundly impossible occurred, the light and darkness began to merge, creating the first ‘Grey Worlds’, giving life to mortals and immortals.
Among the abundance of life one being rose up and laid claim to the power of light. Armed with this weapon the creature, Old Evil, destroyed the balance of the Grey Worlds and consumed the gods of all things great and small, forever stealing a part of all things. Never again shall we laugh or cry or love like we did in the days of old. Under the tyranny of Old Evil we were nothing but slaves, left to burn under the eternal sun, never to rest, bound by fear and chains of gold.
Then one day group of powerful beings came from beyond the stars to fight Old Evil, drawing on the power of darkness to balance the power of light. The called themselves the Alarest, and with their help we finally found back, a long war that drove us to the edge of extinction before we were able to banish Old Evil to the Cala’lae, The World Between Worlds.
The battle won, the Alarest created the moon to balance the sun, blessing us with the night as a ward against the ever encroaching light. With humanity safe the Alarest withdrew deep in the mountains of the Silver Peaks. They have watched over us ever since, forever vigilant.
However all things change, such is the way of grey things. Old Evil still remains, as cruel and powerful as it ever was, waiting for glimpse of light in the cloak of shadows that hides us. We are not yet free. We are still slaves to fear.
Be brave, children of the Grey Worlds.
- The Grey Book

Happy Birthday Shane

It is the first of August, my birthday. I am now 28 years old.

Wow...