Quote of the Moment

"Magic comes from what is inside you. It is part of you. You can't weave together a spell you don't believe in." - Jim Butcher

Saturday, July 28, 2012

SFFS Snippet - 7/28/12

The Shepherd sensed a shift in the nightmare, an undercurrent nonexistent the other times she'd been here.

She uncurled from her fetal position and rose up on her arms, the stones slick under her palms. The water dripped, and dark shadows of buildings surrounded her, but nothing else. She sniffed the air.

There it was, a soft scent of blooming flowers, with an edge of decay and death to the perfume. A vase of lilies that had sat out for too long, the stems rotting in the moisture.

Nothing had frozen her more than the sound of the whimpering babe, until now. Fear gripped her, and for a moment she thought she was awake instead of in a nightmare.

From Dead As Dreams, Chapter 2 (novel currently in the revision process)

About Dead As Dreams:

Dreams are in danger and souls are chained to the earth. Aysa, the Shepherd of Dreams, and Lazarus, a spirit seeker, join forces to restore the balance between dreams and nightmares and life and death. They face a rogue spirit seeker and a manipulator of nightmares--both intent on unhinging the world, but there is yet another pulling the strings.

Please visit Science Fiction Fantasy Saturday (SFFS) to read more great snippets!

NEXT UP: Monthly Update!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Archaic Observations - Voltron, Ep. 1 - Space Explorers Captured

Archaic Observations is a series that delves back into older media (and items, if it comes to that). The topics are nostalgic for me, and I'm sure many of my generation. However, when looking back at something you were fond of as a child, you may find it's not quite the same. In many cases some things you discover can just be plain silly. If there is any topic you would like me to touch on that you think would fit in this series, please leave a comment or send me an e-mail!

First up for Archaic Observations will be the classic cartoon Voltron: Defender of the Universe. This series began in 1984, and I will go episode by episode with my commentary, most of which will be poking fun at plot holes and some things that just don't make sense!

Today's post will look at Episode 1, "Space Explorers Captured".

I couldn't stop from smiling as I watched this episode--a lot of fond memories from when I was a child. However, with age comes a different perspective, as well as wisdom. Some of the stuff that I eagerly swallowed up and accepted as a child, I questioned as an adult. I poke fun not to be critical, but to show the silliness I gobbled up in the past.

My first reaction: the dialogue! I've learned as a writer to make sure dialogue sounds realistic, as well as not to constantly insert the name of characters being addressed in dialogue. Of course, Keith, Hunk, Pidge, Sven, and Lance use names in their dialogue constantly--too much! Not only that, much of the dialogue is unrealistic, most times making me laugh. Here's one of my favorite silly lines from Episode 1: "We're space explorers, and we need space!"

There are some plot holes I noticed throughout the episode, of course. At the beginning, the space explorers are heading to Planet Arus. But why? It seems that is never answered. We assume it's to find Voltron, but once the explorers are captured, we first hear of Voltron from the Galaxy Alliance, and they speak of it like it was never thought of before that point. And then when the explorers see the castle near the end of the episode, they regale us with the legend of Voltron, again making it sound like it wasn't their mission to begin with.

Speaking of the castle, why exactly is it still standing? If the legend is well-known about the Castle of Lions, and Zarkon (the bad guy) intentionally attacked Arus to get rid of that threat, why wouldn't he have made it his main goal to destroy the castle? Not to mention at the beginning of the episode, Arus seems like a more modern planet, the city they show being destroyed has skyscrapers after all, yet the castle is the medieval variety. True, it hides technology, but even further into the season this skyscrapered-city doesn't fit with the lower-tech villages we see.

Another small plot hole when the explorers first survey the damage Zarkon has done: "The streets are empty. Looks like all the people of Arus made it to their underground shelters." Really, ALL the people? You think maybe some of those people didn't make it and are likely dead? OK, maybe I'm being too harsh since this was a show made for kids. ;)

Finally I leave you with one more plot hole to ponder. What's with the Galaxy Garrison/Alliance? They seem like a bunch of politicians, not a military installment--all talk and no action. No help for their explorers? No help for the Planet Arus? This won't be the last time I vetch about their actions (or non-actions).

So, for those of you that have seen this episode of Voltron, what do you think? Did you find other things that bugged you? What do you love most about the episode?

Personally, I love that evil cat! Fun stuff. =)

NEXT UP: SFFS Snippet - 7/28/12

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Gamer's Lexicon - Entry 1

A Gamer's Lexicon series touches upon terms players use in video games. The terms here mostly come from my experiences in the MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) Everquest. This series will hopefully help the non-gamers understand some of the terms gamers use. And gamers may find it humorous as well! If you have any gaming terms (from any type of video game) you would like me to address in the future, or if you think I should add something to already defined terms, please post in the comments--I may ask you to define a term though, if it isn't one I've come across before. Happy hunting!

Welcome to the first entry of A Gamer's Lexicon series! The picture paired with this series is actually a screenshot of my wizard, Karriya, from Everquest (and her newest mount, Starglow). But that isn't what you want to know, is it? You want me to define some crazy gamer terms!

I'll start out with 5 terms this entry.

RNG - Random Number Generator - This term is used a lot in terms of luck. Different items drop from the mobs (term defined below), and its chance, luck, and the percentages that have been plugged into the system that determine what will drop.

RNG Gods - Associated with the term above, these gods come into play when either someone is begging hopelessly for a rare item to drop or when she is cursing said gods for not having dropped the item desired or having given her a bad roll when needing to "roll the dice or choose a random number" if rolling against someone else who wants the item dropped.

mob - In most cases, a mob is a creature that the player needs to kill to work on a quest or to obtain loot (term defined below).

loot - Noun: The items a mob drops that can be pilfered from its corpse. Verb: To actively pilfer the items off of a mob's corpse.

wipe - What a mob does to the player and her group so they cannot loot its items. In other words, total annihilation. The mob killed all of us! = We wiped!

Fun, no? Soon you'll be able to speak a whole new language. Watch for the next entry in the series!

NEXT UP: Classic Voltron: Defender of the Universe--Silly Stuff from Episode One!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Magic Is Reality, Reality Is Magic: The Element of Fire

Magic is Reality, Reality is Magic is a series that highlights aspects of religions, particularly Paganism. We pull things from everyday life to use in our fiction. Magic is one of the key attributes of fantasy. Why not explore the realm of magic that many people already have in their lives?


Graphic By Luigi Chiesa
Fire is one of the four classic elements. Its cardinal direction is south, and when a magic practitioner casts a circle, that is the direction they call to fire from. Red is the main color associated with this element. Fire also represents the astrological signs Leo, Sagittarius, and Aries. The element is usually associated with creativity and strength, but it also can have other representations depending on the person you ask--energy, purification, passion, change, and success are a few.

To learn more about the Element of Fire there are several websites that discuss it, including The White Goddess--The Element of Fire and Fire Folklore and Legends. If you do a Google search, you'll find tons of information. Just be careful for the game links, as using the elements in games, novels, and movies is a popular concept! The series Avatar: The Last Airbender and its sequel series The Legend of Korra use all four classic elements.

Further Reading Suggestions:

Cunningham, Scott. Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner. St. Paul: Llwellyn Publications, 1988.

I hope you found this tidbit interesting! If you would like me to touch on a particular topic that fits in this series, please don't hesitate to contact me with suggestions.

NEXT UP: Gamer's Lexicon, Entry 1 - Learn What the Gamer in YOUR Life is Talking About!

Saturday, July 07, 2012

SFFS Snippet - 7/7/12

A wave of dizziness interrupted the surge of excitement and desire he felt when he thought of the wench. He crawled back into bed and closed his eyes. The image of blue eyes flickered behind his lids, followed by feathers. And tinkling silver leaves.

Then Lazarus remembered her. A dream, he was sure, but the woman in it had seemed so real. If he reached out to grab her, he could pull her right out of the fantasy and into his room.

And the slight warmth that emanated from her--his dreams were always cold, like real life, like the souls he sent off. Everything was cold. Except sex and this strange woman.

From Dead As Dreams, Chapter 2 (novel currently in the revision process)

About Dead As Dreams:

Dreams are in danger and souls are chained to the earth. Aysa, the Shepherd of Dreams, and Lazarus, a spirit seeker, join forces to restore the balance between dreams and nightmares and life and death. They face a rogue spirit seeker and a manipulator of nightmares--both intent on unhinging the world, but there is yet another pulling the strings.

Please visit Science Fiction Fantasy Saturday (SFFS) to read more great snippets!

NEXT UP: Magic is Reality, Reality is Magic - The Element of Fire

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Happy 4th of July! (Belatedly)

My area has currently been under a heat advisory for almost a week now, and yesterday was crazy with no air conditioning by the computers, so I failed to deliver my blog post on time. Sorry about that. Today is supposed to be no better for the heat, but I'll see if I can get the post out I intended to yesterday!

For the 4th, I thought it would be nice to post some pictures my husband and I have taken recently around the United States. I don't like getting gushy, so let's just say I said something teary eyed for the reasons why we should appreciate all that surrounds us.

On our way back from residency, we accidentally went directly through Chicago (oops), so I managed to get a picture of the Sears Tower. It's a side shot, but honestly, it's the only picture from SHU and graduation that seems to have turned out!

This next one is a bit blurry, unfortunately, as aforementioned other pictures from the residency trip didn't turn out. It's a "View from the Hill", Seton Hill to be exact! It's a gorgeous view, and hopefully you can at least see some of that in this shot. We wanted to get a shot of SHU when it was dark out and all lit up, but we didn't get the chance. Maybe next year (maybe I'll have a better camera - sigh).

And finally, the pictures below are some awesome shots I took while hiking at Rocky Arbor State Park a few weeks ago. Got to love nature - so inspiring for writing!

NEXT UP: SFFS Snippet - 7/7/12

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Beat the Heat?

It's only the first of July and today's heat does not bode well for the writing days ahead this summer! Good thing I have a laptop and can sit in front of an air conditioner when needed, but trying to sit at my desktop (like right now) is a challenge indeed.

Anyway, as promised, here is my update post for the first of this month. Let's see what odds and ends I need to cover....

First, I'm happy to announce I now officially have my M.F.A. in Writing Popular fiction! I graduated last Sunday, and I am happy to have survived all the coursework, especially from the last six months. There were times I thought I wouldn't make it!

Graduating doesn't mean life will be any less hectic, though. I have tons of writing tasks on my to do list as well as plans to spend much of the summer with my family. At the beginning of August, my husband and I will actually be on our honeymoon (we've been married for over ten years...so we've waited a long time for this - last time we had intended to go, Katrina hit and there went our plans).

Last month I revised my short story "Bound", and it has already received two rejections. It'll be sent out again this week. ;) I revised the first 25 pages of Dead As Dreams again. For my reading at residency, I read part of Chapter 2 and all of Chapter 3 - it was well received!

July will consist of revising/editing one or two more short stories and consistent progress on revising Dead As Dreams. I actually intend to work on a map, timeline, and history for Dreams, along with answering some much needed questions to help me progress (see my last post concerning Donald Maass's presentation for more details on what I'm talking about). Those things may take up most of the month, but in the end they'll help me progress with revisions faster.

I also plan to send out more queries for The Mind Behind the Mind. I did send out four just last week!

Hm, I really should be talking about progress and not goals, no? It seems my brain is already starting to focus on July and forget about June. Oops!

Don't forget to join us at Writing Quest - July if you're interested in working on your monthly goals alongside fellow writers. Happy writing!

NEXT UP: Pictures! Of what? You'll have to come and see. =)