Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Random Inc.


           I must apologize for my absence.

           You see. . . something happened. Gravity lost its grip on me, and I just- fell off the face of the earth. Hard to believe I know. I was lucky a nice asteroid offered me a ride to the nearest satellite. And even more lucky it was an American satellite and was, at that moment, being repaired. I rode back on a spaceship. Best view of the moon ever. You should try it sometime. Although it wasn't much fun walking home of the space station. Rude people on the road.

           Okay. For real now. No fiction added. I've kind of been burned out. Maybe I should have figured that out a couple weeks ago after my car wreck. :P But I guess I have a hard head (it does come in handy sometimes).

           But I'm back to blogging. :) This post may be a bit rambling.

           Isn't it funny how some people are like, "You didn't say 'hi' to me." Or "You never talk to me." When, uh, those same people don't say 'hi' to you or verbally acknowledge you either? I suppose that little fact has escaped their notice.

           But I have been reading. A lot. Like three books! Okay, two books and perusing a poetry book. The Knight by Steven James, The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan, and some Robert Frost. I cannot wait to review The Knight for you guys!

           I've written too. Not as much as I'd like. And not as *rolls eyes looking for right words* well-thought out as I'd like. But that's what editing is for.

           My characters, Oddball and Rocky, are postal travelers. They deliver mail to different kingdoms. But they are also specialists. They go to dangerous and unknown places. Trailblaze. All the fun, impending doom stuff. But each time they go from one kingdom to another, I end up recreating a whole new cast of side characters.

           I've kind of wondered why this happens. There's travel in almost all fantasy books, but they don't all have a whole new group of characters emerge with each new kingdom the protagonist travels to. Like Finnikin of the Rock. They traveled to many different kingdoms, and in each new kingdom the readers probably met only one new indepth character. Maybe.

           But I think I've figured it out. Oddball and Rocky's boss, his name's Jaykin. And what does he say before they set out?

           "Now remember, " Jaykin said, "no dabbling in the kingdom's affairs. Don't do anything illegal. And whatever you do, don't get caught up in its idiot politics. We have enough fool-head people traipsing around this Post."

           Rocky nodded. "We know, Jaykin." This was probably the three millionth and forty-fifth time he'd heard Jaykin's 'don't list.' He opened the door.

           Jaykin yelled after them, "And no- you hear?- no breaking people out of jail or smuggling people or any such wild, impulsive. . ."

           "Yes sir, Mr. Boss Man." Rocky saluted and shut the door.

           Give or take a few lines, Jaykin says something of the like all the time. But of course Oddball and Rocky wouldn't ever think to do those things. It's like the last thing they would ever do. So. . . it's my job as the author to put them in a situation where they might compromise something they believe they would never do. It makes for an interesting internal conflict.

           But with the things Jaykin says, that means they need to get involved in the kingdom they are delivering mail to. And to do that they have to get to know the people. And to do that I need a new cast of characters with each kingdom. Eck. Why do they have to be some much work?

           On another random note, I'd like to watch August Rush again. That movie has some amazing music. My favorite scene is August and his father playing the guitar together though they don't even know who the other is. I was kind of disappointed that they never really found out on screen. I suppose the one scene can reconcile that though. :)

           And by the way, today is National Cheesecake Day in the US. Who comes up with this stuff anyways? Oh, well. How do you like your cheesecake? New York Style? Strawberries? Raspberries? I like mine baked with a ton of chocolate chips. :)

Monday, July 29, 2013

Quote

I don't believes you, you know! Nobody grows shorter and thinner!
Salt Peter

The Ranger's Apprentice, The Ruins of Gorlanby John Flanagan

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Fellowship of the Ring

           I finished The Fellowship of the Ring!

           Finally. I had borrowed it from the library twice. They wanted it back. So I took a break and read Inkheart. Then I began The Fellowship again at Elrond's Council.

           This group called Writers Write rated The Lord of the Rings as one of the top five classics that are on people's reading lists but are never finished. The Lord of the Rings gets shelved! I believe it. Tolkien's long description breaks in the middle of the action aren't suitable to today's audience. But still. To think that the great Tolkien gets shelved. . .  It's rather humbling.

           Moving along.

                                                                      

 

                                          A fair jaw-cracker dwarf-language must be!
                                                                       Sam Gamgee

           I loved all the different kingdoms and, uh, sorts of people I guess is how you might say it. The elves, the dwarfs, the men, the hobbits/halflings, orcs, the men of the west/ the rangers, the wizards, and I think Tom Bombadil was a sort of person all to himself.

           And elf runes are so interesting. I'm an English major. Why can't I take elf runes as my foreign language? It's relevant. . . in a way. It ought to be allowed.


                                                                              


                                                                  I liked white better.
                                                                           Gandalf

           The epic story of good and evil. That plot line never gets old. Sure, it was dragged down with some description and genealogies. Okay, a lot of description and history. It made me want to edit it into a 'the good parts' version. You know, like Goldman in The Princess Bride did to S. Morgenstern's masterpiece, and then all Morgenstern's relatives were riot anger with him.

           Yeah, maybe that's a bad idea.

           But he was so good at increasing suspense. That ominous part at the door of Moria. With the black water. Where is the door? The gurgling bubbles. Don't throw things in the lake like that! What is the puzzle? Wolves howl. Oo, chills really did run down my back. Such drear and dreaded air. The black water gurgles. Gandalf, the puzzle!


                                                                              
Poor Bill



                             "I will take the Ring," he said, "though I do not know the way."     
                                                                           Frodo

           I loved the characters. Frodo. He had such a heart for his friends. Tolkien really did create the best character to carry the burden of the Ring. Frodo has much discretion. And it's so fun when things surprise him.

           Gandalf. Who doesn't like Gandalf? He's so funny. He has the answer to everything. Well, that's what we like to think, and he's fine to let us believe that. He knows so much. And so wise to keep most of his doings on a need-to-know basis.

           Merry and Pippin. Always good fun. And Sam. I hope I can be as faithful a friend as he. Gimli, what an excellent dwarf. I liked him a lot. I really liked Legolas. You don't hear much of him at first. He's a bit quiet and let's his strengths and abilities take everyone by surprise when the time arises. I'm glad he got to see Lothlorien.

           Saruman is one of the worst villains. He scared me even more than Sauron at times. Mostly because he shows how someone who with such good integrity, who is widely looked up to for his wisdom and good counsel, that even someone who always seeks good and is known for it can so easily fall prey to evil. How easily wisdom can be clouded and looked at wrong. How power hunger one can become. And even though he proposed to defeat Sauron, he would only become a Sauron himself. It was sad. And yet scary and humbling to think how easily and hard we can fall. It didn't help though that I kept confusing them because their names were so similar.

           Sauron was just creepy. When Frodo saw the Eye in the mirror. Aaah! I begged him to look away. When he left the company at the end and could feel the evil under Mordor pulling at him, I begged him to take off the ring. Though I beg him to take off the ring whenever he puts it on. Saruman fell so badly. Not Frodo too, please. Besides one look at that Eye and the Ringwraiths and I'd fear to let that Ring touch my skin again. But hobbits are made of rather stout stuff.

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.


           But my favorite character was Aragorn. Or Strider. Or any of his other names by which you may know him. I liked Strider. But I suppose it isn't a very kingly name for a lost prince. All the same. His wanderings intrigue me. I wish Tolkien had written a book complied of all his wanderings as a Ranger. He's almost like Gandalf. He's wise. And he has a feel for things. For traveling. For what may be trailing behind or looming before. And Moria just gave him more depth. Aragorn. Afraid of something? Aragorn? Are we sure we're speaking of the same person? I wonder what did happen on his first journey through Moria. And then Lothlorien. That grabbed my curiosity too. But those things Tolkien cared not to go on for paragraphs about. Hm, maybe in the next books.

           All the same. If I lived in Middle Earth, I'd be a Ranger. I'd wander wide and far, know every ever corner of every kingdom, mountain, and doom, speak most all languages, battle endlessly against the evil under Mordor, and be a friend of Gandalf's.

           Farewell, and may the blessing of Elves and Men and all Free Folk go with you. May the stars shine upon you faces!               -Elrond


            Have you read the book? Seen the movie? What do you think? What was your favorite character?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

POV- Head-hopping. . . and other related things

          POV is the reader's door into the character's head. It's fun to read books with a deep level of POV. Strong POV:

-makes the story strong

-makes the POV characters' voices more memorable

-gives the reader a more personalized experience with the characters and of the story

           (I actually made a list!)

           Here's a few things that can stand in the way of strong POV.

           Head-hopping is when the reader begins in one characters head and in the same scene is transported to another character's head. Like this:

           The wolf drooled. She looked very tasty. But he couldn't eat her yet. He had to know who this Grandmother person was. If she was a person. Maybe a code name for something. Red's grip on the basket tightened. Hopefully this vagabond wasn't who she was supposed to meet in the woods. She wasn't going hand the battle plans over to just anyone.

           In this section I jumped from the wolf's thoughts to Red's thoughts in the middle of a paragraph. Usually if you want to change POV characters, you would begin a new scene or chapter. Throughout that whole scene or chapter the reader is in one character's head so he doesn't get confused when you change to another character's thoughts because you have a good transition in between.

           I've read some books that head-hop often. It can really get frustrating. Especially if I'm taken into many different characters' heads within the same scene. I once read a battle scene that followed the king. He was at the front of the retreat. Two paragraphs later 'he' was at the back of the battle somehow? Sentences later the author clarified that the 'he' was the king's right hand man and the king was still at the front. The confusion downplayed the fast action and adrenaline that the battle was supposed to create.

           A scene or chapter break is just a way to help transition the reader. It let's him know, "Hey, something's going to be different." Whether it's a change in whose eyes we see the story from, a change in the direction of the story, a change in the setting of the story, etc.

           Another thing, similar to head-hopping, is the POV character giving the reader information that the POV character has no way of knowing. Maybe there's something going on behind the character:

           Red walked down the path. Every noise seemed so much louder to her now. Where was the guy she was supposed to pass this message to? Every movement caught her attention. But she didn't see the wolf in bushes creep up behind her.

           We are looking through her eyes and if the wolf is behind her then . . . she can't see him.

           Extra: Something I learned from a workshop taught by Steven James: the difference between horror and suspense. In horror we would remain in Red's POV and we would feel her heart race with fear when she heard the wolf's voice. But if we wanted to generate suspense, we would cut to a scene in the wolf's POV, so that the readers know the wolf is there, but Red doesn't, and with every step Red takes the readers are willing her to run for her life, even though she couldn't possibly know of the danger she's in.

           There's also this thing:

           The wolf crept low in the bushes behind Red. Who was she meeting in the woods today?
           How does the wolf know Red's thoughts? If he had been spying on her earlier and heard she was meeting someone, that's fine. But if this is the first time he sees her? He can't even know her name.

           The wolf crept low in the bushes behind the girl. Who was she? One of the spies? She jumped at every sound. She was certainly scared. He could smell it. But more than scared. She looked about with some purpose in mind. Perhaps she was looking for someone. Someone she was supposed to meet. Or maybe she was just a foolish girl who'd lost her way. No matter. After he found out, he'd eat her anyways.

           And this:

           Red shoved the branches up. But she forgot to step higher and she tripped on the roots.

           We are in Red's head. This is her thought process. She's not going to think that she forgot to step higher, before she has to step higher.

           Red shoved the branches up. She tripped on the roots.

          And then we can omit the part about not picking her feet up high enough because, well . . . Isn't that why people usually fall? Besides readers are rather intelligent people. They'll know.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Impossible Bucket List

          After my car wrecked I decided I needed a bucket list. . .

           Joking. But really, The Book Chewers are having their weekly link-up. And this week's prompt is the Impossible Bucket list. The best idea ever!

The Book Chewers
Prompt: It's been said that a reader lives a thousand lives, and it's true. We have an advantage over the rest of the population. We sit on our beds, crack open a book, and we're whisked away to far-off lands where we meet fascinating characters and go on the finest adventures words can write. But this comes with disadvantages. Real life disappoints us. Other people just want to go on a cruise or ride in a hot-air-balloon. We'll always be looking for something slightly more ... magical. A reader's bucket list is an impossible bucket list. What's on your impossible list?


1. Sail on the Trophy Chase along side Smith Delaney

2. Travel to Rivendell

3. Storm the Castle with Wesley, Fezzik, and Inigo Montoya

4. Join Robin Hood and trick the Sheriff of Nottingham

5. Watch Dustfinger play with fire

6. Throw knives with Tris and Four

7. Live in Lothlorien

8. Be Divergent

9. Listen to Seraphina sing and play the flute

10. Survive through Moria with Frodo and the Fellowship

11. Go hunting with Katniss and listen to her sing and the mocking jays join her

12. Travel with Gandalf

13. Dance with the trees of Narnia

14. Ride on the back of an Eagle

15. Have conversation with Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy

16. Travel with Strider

17. Solve a mystery with Holmes and Watson

18. Visit Whoville

19. Visit the Swiss Robinson Family and their tree house

20. Walk the countryside with Emily Bryd Starr and sleep atop a haystack

21. Have tea with the Mad Hatter and the March Hare

22. Walk the Dauntless caverns

23. Jump a train

24. Be read into on of my own books like Fenoglio

25. Meet the Cheshire Cat

26. Spend a night with the Factionless

27. Meet Johanna and see the Tree

28. Ride a red wagon through the hills and reflect on the deep matters of life with Calvin and Hobbes

Thursday, July 4, 2013

A little excitment

           I'm sorry I haven't been posting regularly. School and work have me hopping around like crazy. And I'm trying to keep up with writing, guitar, and clogging. So I've slacked on posting in order to get some sleep, even though I haven't been getting much of that.

          Which hasn't proven to be a good thing. Monday after class, my friend and I went to an auto shop to renew the inspection on my car. I dropped her off at work and headed home.

           I fell asleep for a second. I must have. Because I opened my eyes and the car had veered off the road. I over corrected. It jerked into the other lane and lost traction. People had told me what your supposed to do if that happens, but I couldn't remember what it was. I over corrected again. I wasn't going to get control of it.

           My car flipped. It was loud. Everything spun in a blur. All I could think was what pastor had said that Jesus' name only can save. I screamed for Him. And then I couldn't stop. "Jesus!" It was all I could say over and over again. I didn't know I could sound that desperate. But I was.

           The car stopped. Upside down. I just wanted to get out of there. My keys were stuck in the ignition. I could've gotten them out. But what if the car was leaking gas and it exploded? I crawled out of the window instead. There was no one around. Just the green house with the black fence that I always pass on the way home.

           I told the 911 dispatcher what had happened. The fence had a sign on it. I was on 2555. Thank God my car stopped right in front of it, or I wouldn't have been able to tell her where I was. A guy in a black truck stopped and stayed with me while I was on the phone with the dispatcher.

           The guy asked the normal. Was I alright? What happened? Then he asked if there was anyone else in the car. My friend had been in the seat beside me only five minutes early. All I could see was my friend upside down, unconscious beside me. "No," I said. Thank God. "It was just me."

           I couldn't stop shaking. There was a little blood on my head, but it dried fast. I asked the guy if he had a cloth or something so I could apply pressure to it, but it never bled on the tissue paper he gave me. I had glass in me teeth. He got me some water to clean my mouth. I remembered not to drink it though.

           The fire rescue guy, I recognized him. He shops at the grocery store I work at. They said my head seemed fine. A small abrasion. And the cut on my elbow was actually worse even though it didn't look that bad. Maybe I didn't need to go to the hospital. He suggested I do so. But I didn't really want to and if the cut on my head was smaller than that scratch on my arm, I'd rather go home and sleep.

           But my dad called me and told me to go. Fine. I went. They knew I wasn't in bad condition. I had answered all their questions well. But they insisted that I'd be sore the next day. Very sore. It seemed they didn't think I believed them. They didn't have to tell me for me to know.

           That day my head hurt so bad. It felt like my head had hit a car and the pavement. But it had. It's the only way to describe it though. The next day I was sore. But not as much as I had expected. It was like the days I had slept wrong but instead of waking up with a stiff neck, stiff shoulder, or stiff back, I had all three. But it wasn't so bad. I actually had a clogging performance that evening. But I did skip school. Too early in the morning.

           I went to work yesterday and today I feel wonderful. There's a few delayed bruises. But what's a few bruises? I thank God so much that I'm alive. Thank God that I can stand and walk just fine. I'm not in the hospital. God still has things for me to do here. He has kept me safe and healthy. God is so amazing!

           My car though. . . well, Mortimer (my car) gave his life for me. Which I am very grateful for. I mourn his death. . . and am looking for a new car with equal loyalty.

Monday, July 1, 2013

POV- Oh, joy

          Warning: This post is riddled with run-on sentences, missing commas (despicable commas), and parenthetical elements, along with misspelled words and verb tense changes for extra flavor. The editor in me won't let me sleep unless I give you fair warning.
            I suspect this is fair enough?

   
           Point of view. Isn't it just great? My very first writer's conference was right after my high school graduation. Once I figured out what it stood for, I thought I knew what it was:
           Isn't it that third person, first person, omniscient thing?
           But everyone complained that POV was immensely confusing. Deciding on whether you write in third person or in I's doesn't seem that confusing. Perhaps I didn't know what it was after all. So I went to this class that Tim Shoemaker taught about POV (if you ever have an opportunity to hear him speak, GO. He is one of the best speakers I've heard.) And I found out-
           Wow, this is not what I thought it was. POV is rather frustrating.
           I'll try to stick to the basics and then we'll elaborate later. Point of view does begin with all that third person, first person stuff. Meaning, is your story written like this:
           Third person observer:  
       
            Tessa shuffled down the street. She kept her head down in the crowd. A man followed her. With every step he came closer. He grabbed her. Tessa fought back as he dragged her down an alley.

           Third person personal:

           Tessa shuffled down the street. She wished her brother would come to the theater with her. He'd really enjoy it. Her shoes scuffed the ground. A hand clamped around her mouth. She pulled back, but another hand grabbed her arm. Who? What was going on? She tried to kick free as the person dragged her down an alley.

           First person:

           The street is really crowded today. I wish Cameron would've come to the theater with me. He doesn't get out anymore. He'd really enjoy-
           A hand clamps around me mouth. I jerk away, but the hands are two strong. Who? What's going on? I kick and twist, but it doesn't matter. Whoever it is, is drags me down an alley.

           Okay, so maybe I changed verb tenses with you when we went into first person. Sorry about that. Very bad Ashley.
           But on with POV, heh. The third person observer is probably more like omniscient(which I will not get into because I don't fully understand it, if someone does I'd love to hear what you have to say). You are writing more from your own point of view. You can see everything happening, you can make witty author comments about what's happening, BUT you are you and not one of the characters so you don't know what any of them are thinking. You can speculate what they may be thinking, but, really, the readers only hear your thoughts.
           Third person personal. Very different. Still third person. But we get to see through the eyes of the point of view character. We see what she sees, we experience what she experiences, but nothing more. If she is surprised by a man grabbing her from behind, than so are the readers.
           First person is, well, first person. What can I say? It's as if the point of view character is actually narrating the story herself. And again, the readers can only know what she knows. It's more personal than third person.
           But who is the point of view character? Well, normally if it's third person observer, that would be you the writer. The others? Normally, it's thought to be the main character. But you can write from another characters' eyes, or point of view. The point of view character is who's eyes you are seeing the story through at that moment.
           When I got home from that first conference, I looked at the first scene of my WIP, and-
           Aaagh!!
           Absolute horror. POV mistakes galore.
           Tune in next time to learn about head-hopping and other commons POV mistakes.