Monday, March 20, 2017

inspire me tag

Coming to you from Liz @ Out of Coffee, Out of Mind is the inspire me tag. Thanks Liz!

1) What is one of the most inspiring things for you?

I've been inspired by various things and they don't fit into one particular category well. Sorry to be vague. But that's how it is. 


2) Where do you look for inspiration?

Inspiration comes to those who don't look for it.

Seriously though, I'm never looking for it when I get it. Like when I discovered Oddball, I was hanging up clothes in the backyard [obviously, my brain was five million miles away].

 Rocky and Oddball (pst, Rocky's the one in the plaid):

3) When and where does inspiration tend to hit you?

*cue the various kinds of inspiration mentioned in #1*

So the weird idea was first inspired by this tv series called The Cape. I really enjoyed it, but it died after the first season. The weird idea came from a single scene in one of the latter episodes [which is strangely unrelated to the plot and characters, but there's inspiration for you: impossibly irrelevant]. Also, I wanted to write in first person present tense. And I challenged myself to write scenes that most people would place italics but, of course, with no italics. [I see you rolling your eyes. Stop that.] I had a small fascination with photographic memories and wanted to experiment with writing a character who had one.


I got ideas for this character who loves coffee while drinking coffee and searching through pinterest.



On holidays, my family makes baked oysters, so while I was eating a lunch comprised solely of leftover oyster goodness, this amazing wonderful scene and a bunch of characters hit me in the face.

So the protagonist's name is Oyster. Ok, maybe that sounds lame. But it's not! It shall be awesome because now it actually has some semblance of plot. *ahem*


The Sighting of the Albinos comes from challenging myself to write a dragon story without saying the word "dragon." [In retrospect, this is not particularly difficult as any well-read fantasy lover will know that the words "reptile" and "wings" will likely indicate a dragon.]

Also, writing myself into corners always tends to inspire me to write my way out. I love writing myself into corners [not that I do it on purpose]. It gives me a problem to solve, and my whole world becomes writing.

To sum up, having a problem or challenge to solve keeps me more engaged or inspired to write. Also, food. Having food or coffee does the trick too.

4) What's the first thing you do when inspiration strikes?

Well, considering that I'm usually not expecting inspiration, sometimes I don't recognize it for what it is. I'm the idiot who'll awkwardly hold inspiration in my hands and oo and ah wondering what the heck it is. Usually, it grows and rages at me until I finally write the idea down. 


5) What is the most inspiring song/book/website/etc. that you've found?

Switchfoot is eternally inspirational.

 I recently read Grettir's Saga, and Norse humor rocks.

The Mentalist. Yeah.

Any book or show that has good banter.
Um, the dictionary can be wondrously inspirational.

 *cough* mischief:

6) What's one piece of advice you'd give to people who are struggling with inspiration?

So yeah, I'm totally going to steal Liz's answer. 

 I'm going farther:

Inspiration is not everything. Actually, it's hardly anything. When I read back on my writing, the best words came out of those hard places where I didn't want to write because I didn't have the words. But I wrote anyway [of course I never write stuff like "they did things and drank coffee and Oddball had a cold" haha, ha, stop looking at me like that].

Here's one of my favorite quotes that's sorta, but not really related. I'm not even going to interpret it. Just do with it whatever you will. It's by James Scott Bell: "Talent is overrated. The ability to get tough, stick with it, and produce words beats lazy literary giftedness every time."

Inspiration is such a fickle thing. It's not something that's meant to be sought or waited upon. It just happens, and if so, then that's great. But if not, we carry on and write relentlessly, yes?


Where do you get inspiration from? What do you do with it? And what is one of your favorite inspirational moments?

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Popcorn Reviews // The Stardrift Trilogy

So this author contacted me about reviewing her book on my blog. [To think! Me?! An author contacting! This blog doesn't get traffic to warrant that.]

And I was like *shrugs* Sure, man. [Guys, an author contacted me, what was I to say?]

This was about a year and half ago. *hides face* Because life / I'm forgetful / other reasonings that shall be revealed.

The Stardrift Trilogy is a space adventure book with planets that have crazy climates and weird creatures. The cast of characters are on a quest to save various planets from destruction at the hands of some mad villain.

So I didn't like this book. Which is the big reason why it took me forever to finish the whole trilogy before reviewing it. Plus, I have never reviewed a book that I don't like. But I made a promise.

Let's talk about the good stuff first. Because other people might like this trilogy. I haven't actually read many space books [a thing I intend to remedy]. So maybe it's just me? Maybe the genre comes with a certain atmosphere or feel that I'm unused to?

The good stuff.

1) The science is very specific and accurate. The MC, Dahskay, is an astronomer, so there's a lot of astronomical terms. Astronomy is usually one of the few sciences that I have little interest in, but the book made me a little curious.

2) The world-building is very intricate and in-depth. I could tell the author put a lot of work into the world-building. Every planet is different. The creatures on each planet are interesting.

3) Spaceships! So one of the things that I always love about space books and movies is the spaceships. They're just cool, ok. 

 The LEGO movie - Benny - Space Ship! This was the best part of the entire movie.

The Stardrift Trilogy has Lei's ship. Which is pretty awesome because she designed it herself, and other people have tried to mimic what she did but can't.

4) There's a glossary, thank God! I cannot pronounce any names.

5) The prologue is awesome.

The other stuff

1) The plot? It got lost somewhere? I still have trouble pinpointing what it was actually about. Sometimes it seemed really vague even though I do know that the main characters are trying to stop the villain from destroying a whole solar system. I think. The plot doesn't really kick into gear until the third book.

In the first book, Dahskay sees some discrepancies in a star's alignment. So she decides to check it out. Her dad freaks out then let's her go [her parents are bipolar like that], but only if she takes Trotha [he's awful in case you want to know] along so that he can lookout for her.

Then there's this mysterious, dangerous girl [Lei] with a dark past. If Leirrenist were in a George Lucas film, she'd have her own epic theme music. Anyhow, she decides to guide them. And they find trouble. Also, people are hunting them because everyone suspects that Dahskay and Co. are spies [which is absurd].

Second book? Dahskay and Trotha find a transmitted message that they can't translate. Everyone thinks it's nothing, but these two have a weird feeling. So they take the message to a planet that can decipher it. They run into Lei again and team up with her. The message is detrimental to the war in Lei's solar system.

In the third book, the two help Lei with the rebellion and with destroying stuff. And yeah, I probably shouldn't tell you the end.

2) The characters are flat and bipolar. Lei's bad-tempered, violent, and unpredictable. Trotha's pessimistic, annoying, and useless. Dahskay never knows what's going. And her dad rejects the idea of his baby daughter going out into a war zone and in the same breath changes his mind because HOW DANGEROUS CAN SPACE BE, right?

3) Until the third book, Dahskay's "in charge" of the mission. Even though the only thing she does is keep Trotha and Lei from killing each other [literally]. She never knows what's happening; she just goes along for the ride, but everyone insists that she's the leader.

Guardians of the Galaxy (GIF set)

4) I still have no idea why Trotha's part of the team. He causes most of the problems they got into.

5) I could never understand the power status between the characters. One minute the villain is intimidating his advisor. Then within the same scene, he's whining like a little kid to his advisor and accepting the advise given him.

The villain also places all his trust in this kid general who's supposed to be an awesome warrior but now is sick and hallucinates. Everyone thinks the general's going to die while the villain believes the general can single-handedly execute three prisoners.

The general dude, Zarrveck, is sometimes super weak, and other times he's stronger and faster than Dahskay [who is unfit, yeah, but at least she's not on the verge of dying].

6) Zarrveck is always described as "beautiful" and "corpse-like." Corpses are beautiful, guys!


I'm so confused.

7) BUT Zarrveck was the only character who's inconsistencies actually seemed like character development instead of just. . . I don't even know. Except for his fits of physical strength and weakness.

8) The writing takes the long way to explain everything.

9) The world-building is well developed but it's given in these long chunks of info-dumping. And despite the fact that everything was described in complete detail, I still had trouble visualizing it.

10) The dialogue is awful. [That alone can be a deal breaker for me.]

11) Typos and misspellings are everywhere. It's not so bad in the third book though.

And that's all I have to say.

 Raiders of the Lost Tumblr

 Have you ever read a book with bipolar characters? Do you have an good space, sci-fi recs? What was your biggest book disappointment?

Monday, January 23, 2017

Techincal Difficulties // your readers should need shock blankets

I live! So school has been eating my life away, more or less. I could give you all the normal, but unfortunately true, excuses for my absence.

 Did You Miss Me? #Moriarty #Sherlock Series three just ended and I already can't wait for series 4!!!!!!

 But let's not dwell on my absence and instead talk about writing.

Because writing rocks.

["Ashley, what the heck is your title doing?!"
What makes you think I know? I certainly didn't put that there. . .
Yeah, okay, I did. *Moriarty shrug*
Just go with it.]

Let's think about those scenes wherein the character is startled by something. A thing happens without forewarning. You know, suddenly. I often see the surprise given away through the wording.
Like this

Before Darcy could reach the door, it opened and slammed her in the face.

Or worse

Darcy was about to open the door when it opened of its own accord and slammed into her face. 

The words "Before Darcy could" clearly indicates that SOMETHING is going to stop her. And whenever you read a sentence worded with "[someone] was about to [do something]," you know that the character will not go through with what they are "about to do," or else the writer would've had the character "do it" instead of "about to do it." Something is going to interrupt the character, good or bad, small or big, funny or scary. The unexpected is going to happen.

"Ashley, why does that matter so much?"

Well, now we're expecting it. And if we're expecting it, it's not so unexpected anymore, is it? 

"Okay, yeah, but we don't want to jolt the readers."

 Darcy reached for the door. The knob turned by itself, and slam! Darcy staggered back and cried out. Tears blurred her vision and pain throbbed in her nose.

 Literally me. Between 26 seconds of new Sherlock last night, finding nearly naked Hiddleston pics from Only Lovers Left Alive, and the upcoming announcement tomorrow regarding the New Doctor, I'm a fangirl mess!

Why not shock or "jolt" the readers?
[I hate that word, "jolt." But it's commonly used by writers. Whyyyy?]

If you want to give the reader the POV character's experience, then why warn the reader? You're not going to warn the character. If the character is shocked, then shock the reader. Sure, they'll experience some confusion at first, but then so will the character. And as things clear for the character, things will, or should, clear for the reader too.

It's okay to jolt your reader, to take them off guard. If your intent is to have them experience the story firsthand like your characters, then do it. Especially if you're writing close POV. 

Just make the surprise happen like surprises always happen. Without preamble. 


Mildly related to this, be wary of using "suddenly" often. [It's a small pet peeve of mine. So I'm totally not biased.] If something happens suddenly, then there ought to be no time to say "suddenly." Using "suddenly" is a bit like telling us how it happened instead of showing us how it happened. You know?

But as always, there's two sides to this. Maybe you don't want to give the reader the POV character's immediate experience. Maybe you're writing in omniscient POV. Maybe you want to distance your reader from the character. Maybe you want the reader to observe the character's disorientation with full knowledge of what's going on. 


In such cases, giving the readers warning signals might work to your advantage. 

It's not about the right way to write, it's about the right way to write your story. [Which is how we should view most writing "rules." You know, if you ask my small opinion.]

In my last post, I considered writing about the advice I usually give when beta-reading. But instead of writing some post with an odd number of points on it, I could just break it up into multiple posts. You know, and have a writing tips series titled Technical Difficulties because I have no idea why other than it sounds cool. So yeah, this is that. Hope you liked it! Good day. 

I have this insane desire to get an orange blanket to wrap myself in while I watch The Empty Hearse for the first time. I think I will need it...:

What do you think? Is it okay to surprise the reader in some cases? What you do you regularly do to warn the reader or not warn the reader? Any tips?