Words, like nature, half reveal and half conceal the soul within- Alfred Lord Tennyson

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


I think the title says it all. I've been so busy I can't even find time to think of an interesting blog post unless anyone reading this honestly cares about my favorite TV show list (does not mean I will not resort to this in the future lol). Anyways I am swamped with homework and work. Next semester looks even more stressful as I am planning on taking 5 classes, work as a TA, and work in the school's Writing Center. Yep. I wonder if I am secretly trying to kill myself through work. On the bright side, I think I will have time tonight to edit my query letter which I will submit to a contest and then to agents. Trust me, if an agent so much as gives me a personalized rejection I will blog about it. I don't brag much but if I get a book deal I will make sure the whole world knows.

See you next week (whoever "you" is).

Monday, March 21, 2011

Killing the Light (One Band, 19 Questions)

So I was working on the "Impossible Romance Scale" so people could add up points and see who has the most unattainable romance but I accidently hit backspace and my schoolwork has been backing up so I'm doing this instead. I already did this with the band McFly so this time I'll do a different band.

Using only song names from ONE ARTIST, cleverly answer these questions. Do not repeat song titles

My Artist: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club 
Are you male of female: Ha Ha High Babe
Describe yourself: As Sure As the Sun
How do you feel about yourself: Too Real
Describe where you currently live: Berlin 
The first thing you think of when you wake up: I Know You're In There
If you could go anywhere, where would you go: River Styx 
Your favorite form of transportation: Shuffle Your Feet
Your best friend is: Aya
Your favourite colour is: White Palms 
What's the weather like: Cold Wind 
If your life were a TV show, what would it be called: And When Was Better
What is life to you: Complicated Situation 
What is the best advice you have to give: Take Them On, On Your Own
If you could change your name, what would it be: Promise
Your favourite food is: Bad Blood 
My soul's present condition: High/Low
The faults I can bare: All You Do Is Talk
How would you describe your love life: A Sad State
What are you going to post this as: Killing the Light (One Band, 19 Questions)

Monday, March 14, 2011

YA Reads

I must have read a million articles about "how to get published" or "how to write a query letter" by now. I haven't been real stellar about doing some of the things people have suggested but I have been REALLY good in one aspect: reading in the same genre that you wish to be published in. So hard right? I am practically being assigned to read the kinds of books I've always wanted to. One of the reasons I wanted to be a writer is I wanted to write the kinds of books I wanted to read because they weren't there. Well, they were, I just didn't know that. Then Twilight happened. Yeah, I know it has a bad rep right now but I like it.
Anyways, now I'm trying to find other books that are any type of fantasy/sci-fi YA. I've read The Mortal Instruments, The Infernal Devices, the Percy Jackson series, The Hunger Games, The Inheritance Cycle, I Am Number Four, and Incarceron. I'm working on the Vampire Academy and The Wolves of Mercy Falls Series right now. Anyone have any suggestions? What's your favorite YA novel?

And by the way, as far as my "literary crush" list goes, Christian Ozera and Sam Roth are definitely on that list. I was right in my prediction of the latter.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Sound of Music

What makes a story come alive, makes you forget where and when you are because you are in the story? I hope one day I know the answer. If there was only a magic formula, put the x here and the y there and hooray! You have written a best seller. And people think math is hard, they should try writing a novel. While there is no "magic formula" there are elements that every story should have, one of those is a well developed world.
I think non-fantasy writers would agree with me when I say that you have to develop normal worlds also. Basically, I do not think creating the world is limited to fantasy. However, fantasy authors are taking on a much bigger project by inventing their own world. I think in either case, music really helps.
It takes me FOREVER to start a new novel or even start coming up with anything but a basic idea for a novel or series because I spend FOREVER making the playlist for that world. There is no way to express how helpful a music playlist is for me. The music sets the tone of the world.
There are some bands in my iTunes that are always a "go to" when it comes to playlists because, 1. I'm in love with that band, 2. their lyrics frequently reflect ideas I desire to be in my stories, 3. they have some sort of other-worldly sound to them.
The bands I frequently use in my playlists are:

Anberlin- my sister said his voice sounds like a chime as the ring fades out, I could not describe this better. I always seem to find Anberlin on my playlists and "Inevitable" ends up on nearly every playlist. Why Anberlin find themselves on so many of my playlists is because of their varying tempos. It is quite difficult to find songs that sound like a fantasy world, are faster and suitable for fight scenes, and I actually like them.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club- their sound is what I'm looking for, I prefer to write some sort of urban fantasy, it's urban enough and fantasy enough. Their sound varies greatly, "Killing the Light" has a very fantasy feel to it while "Fault Line" has a folkish sound. Their lyrics deal with everything: death, romance, rebellion, questioning rebellion, and has lyrics that refer to the supernatural. Perfect.

Josiah Leming- beautiful lyrics and voice, "Theysay" is a must for every novel with romance. His EP has an ethereal quality to it while some of his other songs remind me of Iron and Wine (just his voice and an instrument, no other influences), and others like Coldplay. It's fairly easy to find songs from him that work on my playlists. Also, Josiah's lyrics are very real, I feel like he is putting his soul into song lyrics. If my character and his soul ever feel the same way, then you have a song and character match made in Heaven.

McFly- This is a case of pure obsession. Most McFly songs sound nothing like the worlds I am trying to create. However, it's actually a lot easier than it would seem (especially to those who are familiar with the band). "It's All About You" is one of the simplest love songs and finds its way onto many playlists of mine. Their sound has changed over the years and much of their later stuff does not sound out of place on my playlists. Also, their lyrics are simple and are easy to relate to. It almost seems as if some bands try too hard to make their lyrics complicated and other bands lyrics are just too simple. McFly seems to have this just right. Also, they are my favorite band ever.

Muse- I think they may be the only band on every playlist. Muse, like Anberlin, has a sound that fits within my worlds but has songs you can write a fight scene too. Lyrics also play a large role in why I always chose them. If the story has romance, the possible end of the world, an uprising (guess which song applies here), or conspiracies, Muse works.

Am I the only one that does this? Also curious, if you do make extensive playlists to help set the tone of the world in which you are writing, what bands do you usually use?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Dreaded "Mary Sue"

What is a "Mary Sue?" Depends on who you ask. A common belief is that this character is an "Author Avatar," or the author has placed an ideal version themselves in a story. One thing that is agreed on is that 1.) a "Mary Sue" is a character, and 2.) that the character is a "Mary Sue." Most "Mary Sues" live in the realm of fanfiction however multiple cannon characters have been labeled as a "Mary Sue" such as Bella Swann from Twilight, Lana Lang from Smallville, Eragon from well Eragon, Richard Rahl from The Sword of Truth series, and just about every superhero. For the record, I am not saying wether or not these character are "Mary Sues" or not and I purposefully picked examples from things I actually like. This is just what other people claim, I am just serving as a humble reporter.
As you may have noticed, two of these characters are male, in that case the character is either "John Doe," or "Marty Stu" depending on what article or blog you are reading. As a matter of fact, there seems to be many "Sue" categories that characters can fall into. Some involve when all the characters in the story are completely in love with the "Sue" for no apparent reason and if there are any characters who dare dislike this "Sue" then they are horrible for doing so. Another form is where this "Sue" has super-powers in a world where there are none, is a doctor for his/her day job, the most beautiful person in town, has no faults, and has modeled when they are not saving the world with their super-powers or lives using their medical training.
Here's something that really interests me. The label is "Mary Sue," thus meaning a female character. As a matter of fact, it seems that the majority of characters who are accused of being a "Sue" are females. Why is this interesting, the original "Mary Sue" was a male! The first character to receive the label "Mary Sue" was in fact a female character in an infamous piece of Star Trek fiction. However, many believe that this "Mary Sue" was written about to make fun of the male Star Trek character of Wesley Crusher.
So here's the question. How, as an author, do you avoid your character from being a "Mary Sue"? Easy, take a test! Okay, so it's not that easy and no "Mary Sue Litmus Tests" is the know and be all of "Mary Sues." Apparently, real people have gotten scores that qualify them as "Mary Sues." I don't remember where I read that, but I do remember that poor Bono is a "Mary Sue" according to these tests.
So, what else can you do? Ask the audience! Or not. I'm fairly certain, if you searched hard enough, you would fine at least one blogger who has labeled the characters you hold dearest to your heart as a "Mary Sue." I can vouch on that, I've seen people accuse every female character from every popular YA series as a "Mary Sue." Do I think Annabeth Chase from Percy Jackson or Clary Fray from The Mortal Instruments are "Mary Sues?" Not a chance, does someone else. Of course they do!
We are back to where we started. How do I avoid my character from being a "Sue"? Easy, give them depth, make the reader think they could call the character on their cell phone (if such a thing exists in that character's world) or hang out they seem so real. How does one give a character depth? Give your character faults, have them make mistakes. No one is perfect in real life so how fun would it be to read about a perfect character? Could you really relate to a "perfect" person? I know I wouldn't be able to. Still, this may not be enough. Having read Twilight and the Inheritance Cycle, I know for a fact that both Bella and Eragon have their faults and make mistakes yet they are both commonly labeled as "Sues." So I guess the real key here is to not get popular. In all reality, the more realistic your character is the less of a chance he or she is a "Sue."
Also, do not put yourself in a story. There are no inflexible rules to writing and I'm sure there are examples of an author putting themselves into their book and everything turned out fine. But it is just a good idea to resist the temptation and have the character be their own person, who is like you in ways, and unlike you in ways.

Here is a great link about "Mary Sues" which included categories and examples. Warning though, this site does use some bad language at times.


And just in case you want to give your character a "Mary Sue" test here are a few links to that. Remember, just because they score high on this does not mean that character is a waste. There are many claims that these test are biased against fantasy because of questions like "Does this character have an exotic name," or "Does this character have powers"? Only answer yes if this only applies to the character taking the test not all in the world this story takes place.