Thursday, August 30, 2012

Feature and Follow Friday--Best Covers


Gain new followers and make new friends with the Book Blogger Feature & Follow! If this is your first time here, welcome! You are about to make some new friends and gain new followers -- but you have to know -- the point of this hop is to follow other bloggers also. I follow you, you follow me.

The Feature & Follow is hosted by TWO hosts, Parajunkee of Parajunkee's View and Alison of Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it'll allow us to show off more new blogs! 

How does this work? First you leave your name here on this post, (using the linky tools -- keep scrolling!) then you create a post on your own blog that links back to this post (easiest way is to just grab the code under the #FF picture and put it in your post) and then you visit as many blogs as you can and tell them "hi" in their comments (on the post that has the #FF image). You follow them, they follow you. Win. Win. Just make sure to follow back if someone follows you! 

Hop over to Alison Can Read for the feature!


Q: Best cover? What is the best cover of a book that you've read and loved?

I'm going to have to do a Wheel of Time plug here. A month before I began my sophmore year of high school, I went into Media Play (now defunct) and saw a huge display that had this book on it: *slide eyes to right*

The title is A Path of Daggers.

For some reason, I went back to that same store two or three times in two weeks. Each time, I picked up the book and just thought it looked awesome. I love high fantasy. Anything with kings, queens, armies, knights, swords...you get the picture. The only problem was that this was Book 8! Finally, two weeks before starting school, I bought book one. The rest is history: my love affair with Robert Jordan's world of The Wheel of Time had begun. When the final book comes out in January--sadly--it will end. So that's my best cover story for fantasy. 

Hop over to my other blog to see what it is for historical fiction! :D

Don't know what this is? Click here.

Again, I don't usually do these on Fridays, but I've been kind of remiss this week so I'm doing one today. Yesterday's RMQ was:  "What's he do? Nibble your bum?"

Alex Cavanaugh guessed the film. It was Monty Python and the Holy Grail! Good job, Alex! No one guessed the actor or character, but that's okay. One point for Alex. 






Now onto today's RMQ:


"Did you see that [name]? She stole that tie! It's the perfect crime--girls don't well ties!" "Yes, if she murdered the tie it would be a perfect crime."

So five points possible for this one: the character and actor for the first line, the character and actor for the second line, and the film.

Any guesses?

Thoughts for Thursday (3) and RMQ!

WELCOME TO THOUGHTS FOR THURSDAY!


Thoughts for Thursday is a new meme hosted by Musings on Fantasia and LKHill.  In this meme, we share thoughts or quotes that we know or have recently come across. Each week there is a specific subject or theme. These can be quotes from books, quotes by famous people, (quotes by YOU, perhaps ;D). Anything from anywhere is game, though we do ask that you keep your quote to a few sentences at most. Don't quote, for example, entire passages of a book or essay. These can be funny quips, cool sayings, hair-raising antidotes, movie lines, any kind of quote you can think of!

Readers may respond by either commenting on the quote I put forward or contributing a quote of their own. I'll include a linky list, or you can just respond in the comments.

Just have fun, collect awesome sayings by awesome people, and try to be inspired!

This week's theme is "writing fantasy."


All the works of man have their origin in creative fantasy. What right have we then to depreciate imagination.
                                                                                                                    --Carl Jung


Literature for me isn't a workaday job, but something which involves desires, dreams and fantasy.

                                                                                                                     --Antonia Tabucci

What do you think about these quotes? Which one do you like better? How do you apply it to your own writing? Do you have any interesting quotes about writing fantasy?


Random Movie Quotes (RMQ)

Don't know what this is? Click here.

I don't usually do RMQ on Thursdays, but I haven't done ANY this week! (Sorry, it's been kind of crazy), so here it is! :D

The last RMQ I did was last Wednesday. It's okay if no one remembers, because no one guessed it anyway. The quote was "There are no happy endings, because nothing ends."  That was said by Schmendrick the Magician in the timeless cartoon, The Last Unicorn. Our geeky magician was voiced by Alan Arkin.




Now for today's RMQ. Ready?


"What's he do? Nibble your bum?"

Who said it? What film, what character, what actor? Three possible points! Any guesses? 




Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Pushing the Limits Read-Along Week 5

I finally finished Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry. It was amazing! Here are my questions/answers for this, the final week of the read-along! I'll put a formal review on Goodreads and Amazon over the next few days so keep an eye out for them! :D

1. By finally returning to her art, Echo is working through her issues and taking control of her life. While she’s not ever going to return to her previous “normal”, she uses her art as a way to work her way to a place where she’s more comfortable with herself. How do you deal with the issues and stresses of your life?


A: Writing is definitely cathartic to me. I always feel more emotionally stable when I've spent some time with my characters, hashing out their problems and dealing with their emotions. :D

2. Once Noah gives his brothers and their soon-to-be adoptive parents a happy ending, he decides to get his own by winning Echo back. Why does he think stealing her file is the best way to do it? Any other (better) suggestions for the poor boy?


A: Um...just go talk to her. I know he wanted some major good will gesture, but talking to her, explaining how the situation has changed and telling her that he wants/loves her would probably be more than enough.


3. Echo finally uncovers the terrible truth of what her mother did to her. Now that we know the truth, do you think Echo’s father did the right thing by covering up the incident and keeping it from her? How do you think he should have handled it?


A: I think Echo's father did what he thought was best. Even if he didn't reveal the entire, awful truth, perhaps he could have just told her some of it--that there was an incident and she got hurt and what his part in it was. Even without the gory details, perhaps she would have been able to deal with it better if she thought her father was being honest about it. 


4. Mrs. Collins plays an integral role in helping Echo and Noah find a new normal and happiness in their lives. Tell us about someone in your life who helped you, someone who changed your life, was there for you, or offered help/comfort when you most needed it (or when you didn’t know you needed it).


A: I'm very close with my sisters and they are always there for me when I needed them. They are my closest friends and companions. There have been countless times when they've helped me through things.


5. Another major truth is revealed when Echo’s father finally opens up to his daughter and tells her about her mother and how his relationship with Ashley evolved. Knowing this, how do you feel about Ashley now? And what did you think when you learned the name of the baby?


A: I always thought Ashley was getting an "evil step mother" rap from Echo that she perhaps didn't entirely deserve but it's only to be expected from a child whose parents split up. After learning the truth, I like her a lot more than I did before and I think the baby's name is sweet and tasteful and a good way to bring the family closer together.


6. Echo and Noah ride off into the sunset together. *happy sigh* If you had the chance, who would you ride off with and where would you go?


A: Hmmm...since I'm still single I think I'd have to chose a hunk from one of my favorite fantasy novels. Not sure which one, thought. I'll have to give this some serious thought...:D

What did YOU think of the book? 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Five Things You Probably Don't Know About Dystopian Literature

When I explain to people that my debut novel will be a futuristic dystopian fantasy, their foreheads generally scrunch. They understand futuristic. Fantasy is pretty prevalent these days. But dystopian? Ninety percent of the population doesn't know the word. When I throw out phrases like 'post-apocalyptic,' the comprehension rate goes up to fifty percent or so. If I'm lucky.

Not many people outside the writing/publishing industry have the word dystopia in their working vocabulary (understand that I include those who write films). Yet, the more I learn about dystopian stories and their psychological effect on our modern society, the more important I realize they are. I've thought about this a lot lately but then I read a column by Steven Kalas  that really got me thinking about it.

Here are the conclusions I've drawn (so far) and that I think everyone should be aware of concerning dystopian stories of any kind:

1) The definition: a dystopia is a society characterized by human misery (i.e. squalor, oppression, disease, overcrowding, etc.) see source

2) Where to find more. Dystopian stories are all the hype right now. Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games, Christopher Nolan's movies at large (batman, Inception, etc.), Twilight, even our favorite boy wizard's world has elements of Dystopia in it. Every superhero movie is the same way (the main difference being that the story begins with an acceptable world that is threatened by evil the superhero has to overcome, where true dystopias start with the world already in the clutches of the evil). Zombie movies are quintessential dystopian stories, and they're pretty big these days as well.

But is this a new thing? Are audiences just catching on to this? Of course not! Dystopian literature has been prevalent all throughout history. H.G. Wells, George Orwell, and Ayn Rand, to name just a few were writing dystopian literature long before most of us were born. (Let's not get any snarky comments from the vampires or highlanders out there!) For a decent list of classic dystopian literature, see this article. Today, we have people like Elana Johnson, Dan Wells, Veronica Roth, and Cormac McCarthy still cranking it out. It's more prevalent than most people realize!

3) Depending on how you mold the definition to fit whatever aspect you are addressing, any story, specifically any conflict, can be characterized as a dystopia. Now don't get me wrong: if we're talking about a man vs. himself kind of conflict that has nothing to do with society, and you try to categorize that as a dystopia, lots of people in the industry will shake their heads in your general direction. But, if a character's main conflict is within himself, then his "society" is what's inside his own head. If he's miserable in some way, then your story is dystopic. (Kafka would be an expert at this. As much as I hated The Metamorphasis, it IS actually relevant here.) I don't say this to confuse the genre issue, but only to point out that dystopias are simply conflicts on a societal level. They deal with how the individual reacts to a society-level problem, but more on this in a minute.

4) Dystopias forecast/warn about the future. There are two films I've seen that have very similar elements in their stories, but are dealt with in very different ways. The first is The Island; the second is called Never Let Me Go. Both deal with clones that are raised for the sole purpose of being sacrificed so the individuals they were cloned from can live. The Island is the more hopeful of the two. It ends on an inspiring, reach-out-and-grab-your-freedom kind of note. Never Let Me Go is horrendously sad and just plain horrible. In it, the characters go willingly to their fate like lambs to the slaughter. It doesn't even occur to them to rebel or fight for their right to survive as human beings. The point here is to make people shocked and angry. Though the films are very different, their message is the same: LET'S NOT LET THIS HAPPEN, PEOPLE! It would be horrible and amoral and what would it say about our society if we let this happen?

This is what dystopian literature does: it points out the flaws in our society in a very extreme, terrifying way, as a means to keeping those horrors from actually happening. Kalas says he believes we are forecasting our own future; that everything will eventually "go to hell."

While I totally get that society is fast going into the toilet, I think it's important to point something out: we create these dystopian stories and the public eats them up, whether in book form or on the big screen, because we hunger for answers. Maybe we all do know that society won't be a utopia in the long run, so we crave these stories so that we can define ourselves in the face of what we believe society will become and keep ourselves from slipping into anarchy.

Granted, there were plenty of people prior to WWII that knew if the Nazis came to power, it would be a bad thing, and Hitler still made it to the top. But if some Joker-esque character showed up in NYC tomorrow, how many Americans would stand by idly and watch, much less follow him blindly? In my mind, not many. For us, it's a been-there-done-that situation, even if it was just in a film. My point, well it brings me to the fifth thing you should know about dystopias;

5) Dystopias help us work out our psychological issues. They become an outlet for how the individual reacts to society's problems. We watch them and we resolve within ourselves that we would be the one that was different; that we would stand up to the oppression (Christopher Nolan's Batman series) , find a way to feed our families (Hunger Games), keep the ones we love alive (every zombie move EVER!) or just all-out save the human race (I am Legend).

My point is that the entire reason we create dystopian art in any form is to keep it from happening in real life. It's the ultimate example of why we love to read stories about human beings in the midst of conflict: we want to educate ourselves, decide how we would react in that or a similar situation, and make ourselves better/stronger by it. If we can address our society's flaws and show why we must keep them at bay, we will be able to keep our society sane and ordered for that much longer. Hence, audiences drink up dystopian stories like people dying of thirst. After all, we can see aspects of society crumbling around us daily. So we read books and watch films about individuals banding together to reclaim their society and triumphing over all that is wrong with the world. Then we go back to our lives feeling a little stronger, a little more able to deal with our own problems.

 And we sleep peacefully at night knowing that when the zombie apocalypse hits, we'll totally be ready! :D

Persistence of Vision
Winter 2012

Saturday, August 25, 2012

August is Awesome! Strands of Pattern

Hi there everyone! Just a quick note. Today (Saturday 8/25) Strands of Pattern by Jeff Hargett is featuring a guest post that I wrote about relevance in characterization. Hop over there and check it out if you have a chance. Jeff has had TONZ of great guest posts this month all about different aspects of the writing process. Check a few of them out too. Bet you'll learn something! :D Have a great weekend everyone!

http://strandsofpattern.blogspot.com/2012/08/august-is-awesome-because-of-liesel-hill.html

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Follow Friday--Horrible Covers


Gain new followers and make new friends with the Book Blogger Feature & Follow! If this is your first time here, welcome! You are about to make some new friends and gain new followers -- but you have to know -- the point of this hop is to follow other bloggers also. I follow you, you follow me.

The Feature & Follow is hosted by TWO hosts, Parajunkee of Parajunkee's View and Alison of Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it'll allow us to show off more new blogs! 

How does this work? First you leave your name here on this post, (using the linky tools -- keep scrolling!) then you create a post on your own blog that links back to this post (easiest way is to just grab the code under the #FF picture and put it in your post) and then you visit as many blogs as you can and tell them "hi" in their comments (on the post that has the #FF image). You follow them, they follow you. Win. Win. Just make sure to follow back if someone follows you! 

Go to Alison Can Read for the Featured Blogger!


Q: Worst cover? What is the worst cover of a book that you've read and loved?


Okay, even though I love, love, LOVE the story, the original Song of Fire and Ice covers (below) aren't my favorite. They're simply too generic. This series has kings, queens, kingdoms, knights, tournaments, battles, romance, death, incest, dragons, monsters, and so much more! There are so many awesome characters and great story lines and epic conflicts but the covers feature...a chalice, a crown, or a sword against a solid background? Really?

Love the story, not so much the covers. Would still highly recommend the books, though! :D

How about you?

Thoughts for Thursday (2)

Happy Thursday everyone! I've been busy moving all week. I'm mostly moved now and just have to spend this afternoon/evening scrubbing my (old) apartment from top to bottom. (Not looking forward to that!)  By Friday morning I'll be totally moved in and (hopefully) by Friday night I'll be mostly unpacked. Wish me luck. Even though today will be long, I'm soooo glad it's almost Friday! :D

So, onto our meme!


Welcome to Thoughts for Thursday!


Thoughts for Thursday is a new meme hosted by Musings on Fantasia and LKHill.  .  In this meme, we share thoughts or quotes that we know or have recently come across. Each week there is a specific subject or theme. These can be quotes from books, quotes by famous people, (quotes by YOU, perhaps ;D). Anything from anywhere is game, though we do ask that you keep your quote to a few sentences at most. Don't quote, for example, entire passages of a book or essay. These can be funny quips, cool sayings, hair-raising antidotes, movie lines, any kind of quote you can think of!

Readers may respond by either commenting on the quote I put forward or contributing a quote of their own. I'll include a linky list, or you can just respond in the comments.

Just have fun, collect awesome sayings by awesome people, and try to be inspired!


This week's theme is the sea. I'm collecting mermaid novels for my TBR, so I thought it would be appropriate. If anyone has any suggestions, I'd love to hear them!

Today's quote is by one of my all-time favorite authors, Joseph Conrad. Conrad actually was a sailor and his immortal novella, Heart of Darkness (which I re-read at least once a year) is loosely based on his experiences.

"The sea has never been a friend to man. At most, it has been the accomplice of human restlessness."                     
                  --Joseph Conrad

What do you think Conrad meant? How can we apply this to our stories and/or characters? What does it make you think of? Does anyone have any other cool quotes about the sea/ocean to share?

                                                  

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Best Villains of All Time--Part 2

"Villainy that is vigilant will be an overmatch for virtue, if she slumber at her post."--Charles Caleb Colton


Hello everyone! So last week I did a post called Best Villains of All Time. Here, I'm doing part 2 of my villains series.

Today, we'll be talking about secondary villains and next week we'll address comedic villains. (My terms. You won't find them on wikipedia.)

A secondary villain, by my definition, is a villain that follows the primary villain around. In other words, storm troopers (star wars), orcs and goblins (LOTR), and various monsters and villains in other stories. Basically, secondary villains are the grunt guys or sidekicks to the main villain.

While your primary baddies need to be almost, if not entirely as well rounded as your heroes, your secondary villains really shouldn't be. In fact, you should make them pretty flat. By all  means make them evil, intimidating, etc., but if you go into a back story with them, it will take away from your primary villain.

Of course, depending on your story, it's perfectly acceptable to have more than one villain (especially in writing, all rules are made to be broken, right?) but if you have too many back stories and too much well-roundedness, it will clutter up your narrative. (Note: Robert Jordan fans, feel free to sniff and ignore me. We both know you'll do it anyway. I'm just giving you permission.)

So, make your secondary villains one-sided. In my story, Persistence of Vision, due out the end of this year, I have two types of secondary villains. They're called Arachnimen (so named for the spider's web tattoo on their face) and Trepids. They're more or less the same thing except that Trepids are higher in the hierarchy of evil.

These guys are basically just big stupid brutes. They take orders from the collectives and go around doing the rape, pillage and plunder thing. They rarely make their own decisions, and aren't at all independent. I do have main bad guy which the reader is only briefly introduced to in Book 1, but it's enough to know that, while the Arachnimen and Trepids are capable of doing some damage, they aren't the real threat. And they're definitely not the brains of the operation.

And your secondary characters don't have to be all evil either. Let's look at LeFou. (Who?) In Disney's Beauty and the Beast, he's Gaston's sidekick. Now, Gaston is the primary bad guy. Granted, he's good looking (or at least he thinks he is) rather than scary or intimidating, but he's also the one who tries to kill the beast, tries to get Belle for himself, storms the castle, yadda yadda. LeFou is his sidekick. Is LeFou all scary and intimidating? Uh, no. Is he well rounded with an awesome back story and great inner conflict? Not even remotely. So why do we love him? Well, rather than all-evil, he's kind of all-stupid. He doesn't seem to have anything better to do with his time than follow Gaston around and say painfully obvious things. Sometimes I want to politely suggest he be more independent. (*grabs LeFou by collar and shakes him* "Get your own life!") LeFou provides comic relief (always a plus) and he's a secondary baddie that can accomplish things in the plot (i.e. fill holes that would otherwise be there) and back up the primary bad guy without cluttering your story line.

As long as you have a well-rounded primary villain to pit against your hero/heroine, secondary villains, while not great characters themselves, can definitely be an asset to your story! Try one out sometime! :D

Random Movie Quotes

Don't know what this is? Click here.

So yesterday's RMQ was guessed by a few people. Great job! And kudos to all of you who remember such an old film. It was one of my favorite and most-watched films as a kid. Even today, I look back and think, Wow! No wonder I'm a writer. I grew up watching stuff like this! Though the acting and special effects don't hold up especially well (we ARE talking 1984 here!) the story is still phenomenal. The characters and conflicts and challenges faced are still very applicable today, especially as themes in literature.

The film is called The Neverending Story. The line (very tragic) was said by Rock Biter. Both of these were guessed first by The Housework Can Wait. So two points there! Great job! No one guessed the name of the actor that played him. His name was Alan Oppenheimer and he also did voices for Falcor, G'mork, and the Narrator. (Just a bit of totally useless trivia for you! :D) Thanks to everyone who participated! Great job!

Now, onto today's RMQ!

"There are no happy endings, because nothing ends."

Again, three points possible. One for the name of the film, one for the name of character who says the line, and one for the name of the actor. Good luck! :D

Monday, August 20, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday--Favorite Books--and RMQ


Here's Top Ten Tuesday! RMQ is below!

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Each week we will post a new Top Ten list  that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.


Top Ten Favorite Books You've Read During The Lifespan Of Your Blog 

To be honest, I don't get a lot of time for reading these days so I only read two or three books a month and I've only been blogging since May, so I've only read eight books in that time. Oh well. Here they are:

8) Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (Still reading this but started it about the time I started blogging and hope to finish in the next month or so.)
7) Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (Same thing applies for this as for AK. This book is awesome, but LONG.)
6) In Praise of Motherhood by Phil Jourdan
5) Possession by Elana Johnson
4) Sleepwalkers by Paul Grossman (just finished this one)
3) Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry (technically still reading because participating in read-along)
2) A Dance with Dragons (Fabulous Series)
1) Grave Mercy (Totally awesome!)

What can I say? Fantasy just tends to win out with me. :D What are your top ten books?

Random Movie Quotes

Don't know what this is? Click here.

So I totally forgot to add RMQs to my blogs the last part of last week. This is really the first one. :D (Yea!) Today's RMQ is from a very old children's movie:

"They look like good strong hands, don't they? I always thought that's what they were. The little man with his racing snail, the night hog, even the stupid bat. I couldn't hold on to them. The Nothing took them right out of my hands..."

What do you think? Any guesses? Three possible points here. One for the film, one for the character, one for the actor who played him (actually just his voice) though I'd be very impressed if anyone knew the name of the actor off the top of their head. It's just very obscure. Good luck! 

Five Reasons You WANT to Be Drugged in Vegas

1) Despite a year of agony, trying to figure out what went wrong and what happened to you during your lost time, a year later a hot guy may show up to tell you he's from the future and that he desperately needs your help.

2) You'll get to Travel through time and get a glimpse of the earth's future.

3) You'll get to learn the history of things to come and meet a team of individuals who are fighting for the freedom of humanity.

4) The team will teach you how to use your super-brain powers, including unparalleled Offensive energy.

5) You may fall in love with the brooding, serious team Healer, who remembers you and knows you personally, though you don't remember him at all. (Okay, maybe that would be less than pleasant, but still...)

Stand out or fade away...
Yeah, you definitely want to get drugged in Vegas...

Persistence of Vision--Slated for release winter 2012.



Thursday, August 16, 2012

Follow Friday--Blogger Inspiration


Gain new followers and make new friends with the Book Blogger Feature & Follow! If this is your first time here, welcome! You are about to make some new friends and gain new followers -- but you have to know -- the point of this hop is to follow other bloggers also. I follow you, you follow me.

The Feature & Follow is hosted by TWO hosts, Parajunkee of Parajunkee's View and Alison of Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it'll allow us to show off more new blogs! 

How does this work? First you leave your name here on this post, (using the linky tools -- keep scrolling!) then you create a post on your own blog that links back to this post (easiest way is to just grab the code under the #FF picture and put it in your post) and then you visit as many blogs as you can and tell them "hi" in their comments (on the post that has the #FF image). You follow them, they follow you. Win. Win. Just make sure to follow back if someone follows you! 


Q: What blogger inspires you? It can be any kind, it doesn't have to be a book blog.


I am most inspired by bloggers who 1) are funny and 2) have a lot of information to impart and have a creative way of doing it. The reason these two things inspire me is that they're things I struggle with on my blog, so when I see them in others, I am always in awe. A Beer for the Shower is pretty funny (though, fair warning, somewhat adult), but by far I think I am most inspired by Elana Johnson's blog. When I decided to become a serious blogger, I remembered her from Roundup (a conference for the League of Utah writers). I found her blog and searched it for all posts about blogging. I think it's pretty fair to say that most of what I know about blogging I learned from her. Thanks Elana! :D

How about you? What blogs or bloggers are you most inspired by?

New Meme: Thoughts for Thursday

Thoughts 4 Thursday!

Add caption



Hooray! My 50th post! For this, my golden (;D) post, I'm starting my own meme!

Thoughts for Thursday is a new meme hosted by Musings on Fantasia and LKHill. In this meme, we share thoughts or quotes that we know or have recently come across. Each week there is a specific subject or theme. These can be quotes from books, quotes by famous people, (quotes by YOU, perhaps ;D). Anything from anywhere is game, though we do ask that you keep your quote to a few sentences at most. Don't quote, for example, entire passages of a book or essay. These can be funny quips, cool sayings, hair-raising antidotes, movie lines, any kind of quote you can think of!

Readers may respond by either commenting on the quote I put forward or contributing a quote of their own. I'll include a linky list, or you can just respond in the comments.

Just have fun, collect awesome sayings by awesome people, and try to be inspired!

This week's Thoughts for Thursday quote is from our good buddy, Albert Einstein:

"Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited; imagination encircles the world."


As we are all in the business of reading/writing stories, I thought this was particularly relevant.  What do you think? Do you have any cool quotes from Einstein or quotes about imagination?


Image credit: devor / 123RF Stock Photo

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Best Villains of All Time?

"You look at the greatest villains in human history, the fascists, the autocrats, they all wanted people to kneel before them because they don't love themselves enough."
Tom Hiddleston


Let's talk villains!!! I'll do a series of posts on different types and classes of villains. Today, we're talking about Primary Evil Villains.
But aren't all villains evil, you ask? Well, yes. But there are different types of villains. Some are evil, some are kind of goofy/idiotic. And sometimes the rules for secondary villains aren't the same as for main ones. I'll address all this eventually, but for today I'm focusing on Primary, Evil Villains.
To define: These villains are the main antithesis to the hero/heroine. They are evil, ugly, intimidating, and always get booed by the audience.
What makes a great villain of this sort? Who are your favorites? How can we be certain our villains are popping off the page?
All right, one question at a time!
What makes a great villain? This is a loaded question, but the short of it is: the same things that make great heroes! That's right. Just as a perfect (i.e. flat), awesome, chivalrous, in-all-ways good hero will come off as cheesy, unrealistic, and forgettable, so all-bad villains will do the same. Why was Darth Vader so memorable? Because he "had good" in him, which Luke (his son, no less!) had to find, tease out, and convert. If you can make your villains every bit as rounded as your heroes, they're much more memorable.Let's talk about looks. Of course not all evil people look evil. (Pedophiles try to make themselves look pleasing in order to lure their prey, unfortunately.) Yet, even so, evil things in my experience just exude wrongness. It's hard to bring such an abstract feeling across in a story, so one great way to do it is through looks. Darth Vader's other major villain-advantage is his strange look, and (let's face it!) sound! Two breaths (hoe-puh!) and we know EXACTLY who we're supposed to be channeling. I'm sure there's something to be said about beautiful villains, and there are many examples of how well this can be done, but I'm more a fan of the intimidating villain. Looking scary is probably the best way to intimidate. Hence, my point.In Twilight, there's a child vampire named Jane. She is supposed to look very innocent, yet she can inflict massive amounts of pain and has no conscience about it. In the book, I thought she was a great villain, but I thought her big screen version lost something. Don't get me wrong: I'm a big Dakota Fanning fan, (?) but I just didn't feel the evil coming from her Jane performance. When I complained about it, my sister pointed out to me that in the book, that was why Jane was so creepy: because she seemed very innocent, but wasn't. I don't know, though. I still think there should have been something, anything, even something subtle that would make us afraid of her. For me, there wasn't. It came off as fake and pulled me right out of the story.
Maxwell Drake makes a good point about this. He says you can tell an awesome villain by how many kids go as them for Halloween. How many Darth Vader costumes get sold every year? It probably numbers in the hundreds of thousands. Lots of Darth Mals too. This year I'm sure we'll see plenty of Lokeys, Bains, Jokers, and various Hunger Games characters. Of course there's always Voldemort and Bellatrix Lestrange.What about what Drake calls, "Tolkien's stupid big red eye"? (His words, not mine.) His point is that not many kids dress up as the "stupid big red eye of Sauron." Nor do we see many of Robert Jordan's Dark One. Why? Because they aren't tangible. We can't picture them. Kids have no frame of reference for how to pretend to BE them.
Make your villains tangible. How? Give them a memorable look. Give them range and depth. How? By giving them history and a back story.
In my opinion, there was nothing at all redeeming about Voldemort. He didn't have "some good" in him anywhere. Not anymore. So why was he an awesome villain? Well, his look was definitely memorable for one. He also had a complex back story. How does this make our villain's relatable? Because it makes them human. Maybe they're nothing but big stupid red eyes now, but once they were human. Once they made the same mistakes we do. And their choices led to their fate. J.K.Rowling's decision to link Harry and Voldemort was ingenious because it made us all very aware that Harry could possibly BECOME Voldemort (Heart of Darkness-style) and in our minds that posed a great threat to our beloved boy wizard. Hence, we became very involved in the story and chanted just as hard against the villain (Rick 'em rack 'em rock 'em rake! Stick that sword into that snake!) as we did for Harry (Yea, Harry!)
One more thing before I end: anyone know what a FOIL is? No, it's not shiny aluminum food-preserver! Only the geekiest of English majors know that a foil is when the attributes of one character bring out the opposite attributes of another. So a villain's evilness can serve to emphasize a heroes goodness. If your villain and hero are both well-rounded and your conflict puts them sufficiently at odds, this happens naturally. In other words, if your villain is awesome, your hero and story as a whole will be awesome too, by default! (Score!) Go through all of your favorite stories and see if this isn't true!
Some of the most memorable villains I've seen come across (other than those listed above):
Silas, of The Davinci Code (Self-flagellating, homicidal albino monk? Yeah, definite creep factor!)
Bane, of The Dark Knight Rises (Darth Vader face apparatus? Check. Interesting back story? Check.)
Jamie & Cercei Lannister, of A Song of Fire and Ice series (beautiful, but twisted and deceitful. Human like Greek gods are human, and similarly, don't piss them off!)
Jagang, of The Sword of Truth series
This is just a few that came readily to mind. Who do you think are the best villains of all time?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday--Romance for the Real World


Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. 
Each week they post a new Top Ten list  that one of the bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.

TOP TEN BOOK ROMANCES THAT YOU THINK WOULD MAKE IT IN THE REAL WORLD (OUTSIDE THE BOOK).

Okay, so most of these will come (naturally) from Fantasy books I've read:

10. Bella and Edward (Twilight) -- I know, I know, I'll get some flack for this, but it's an obvious choice and at least I put it in the last spot, right?
9. Katniss and Peeta (Hunger Games) -- 'Nough said, right?
8. Ron and Hermione (Harry Potter)
7. Harry and Ginny (Harry Potter) -- Come on, you gotta include both these couples, right?
6. Ismae and Duval (Grave Mercy) -- LOVED them!
5. Echo Emersen and Noah Hutchins (Pushing the Limits) -- Okay, this one's contemporary, but it's what I'm currently reading, so I have it on the brain.
4. Richard Rahl and Kaylan Amnell (Sword of Truth) -- One of best high fantasy romances EVER!
3. Arya Stark and Ghendry Snow/Baratheon (Song of Fire and Ice) -- Okay so they haven't actually hooked up yet (details, details) but I really hope that's where Martin is going because this is my absolute favorite story line!
2. Egwene al'Vere and Gawyn Trakkand (Wheel of Time) -- Totally awesome!
1. Nynaeve al'Meara and al'Lan Mandragoran (Wheel of Time) -- Like my favorite couple of ALL TIME! As in, you should really read the book just for these two characters!

So there it is: my top ten romances that would make it in the real world because they're JUST that awesome! What are yours?

Keep reading for PART TWO:

Okay so I'm going to start something new on my blogs: (drum roll, please!) 

RANDOM MOVIE QUOTES!!!


Let me explain. No, is too much. Let me sum up. (*wink, wink*)

My entire family LOVES both TV and the movies. We all have Random-Movie-Quote-Terets. As in, we blurt out movie/tv show lines in random conversation. This is totally normal at my house. Others who witness is are all kinds of stupefied. And it's not always obvious quotes, mind you. Some of them are ridiculously obscure. Of course, WE all know what we're talking about, but no one else does.

So, starting tomorrow, I'm going to end my blog posts with a random movie quote. All my readers get to guess where it came from. You get 1 point for being the first to guess which movie the line is from; 2 points if you can identify the character and/or actor that said it. (I.e. If one person gets the movie but not the character or actor, someone else can pick up the second point for that, but not for the name of the film once it's been guessed.)

Keep track of your points! I'll endeavor to do the same, but I can't promise anything on my busier weeks. I haven't worked out all the prizes yet, but it will be something like 25 points = a bookmark. 100 points= ...um, something cooler. 250 points=free book, etc. Once I have all the prizes worked out, I'll post them!

Anyway, so be on the lookout starting tomorrow for Random Movie Quotes! Have fun! :D

Monday, August 13, 2012

Stand Out or Fade Away--What Would You Do?

Okay, so loaded question: stand out or fade away?

Let's say some kind of dire situation takes place in the world. You know, aliens invade, there's a nuclear holocaust, WWIII (with WMDs, EMPs, and lots of other fun, civilization-annihilating weapons, of course) or some other as yet unforeseen disaster takes place.

Then let's say, in the post-apocalyptic aftermath, with hundreds of vacant cities, millions of unburied bodies, and roving gangs as the only poor substitute for law and order, you stumble upon a way to keep yourself and your surviving loved ones safe. This thing would give you security, protection, and even help to push away the heartache of the world.

It would make living, moving forward, getting out of bed in the morning, easier. It would mean the hole in your chest and the ache in your gut, put there by the things and people you've lost and know you can never regain, will finally feel better. You're heart might even feel light again.

Would you do this thing?

Of course you would! Why not?

Well, there's a catch.

This thing you can do is to become part of a collective, to link your mind to hundreds of others, "like so many lines of needlework." And what is the down side?


Loss of individuality.


Your emotional hurts may be tempered, but that doesn't mean they'll heal. Your emotions will be greatly mediated, but at what cost?

So what, you say. I'll receive safety, security, a community of hundreds of minds working together. That can't be bad, right?

On it's own, no. But at the cost of original thought, speech, free enterprise, and human emotion? To loose the right to excel, expand your mind, or be beautiful? You tell me.

What would you choose? Security in a terrifying world, or individuality?

Stand out, or fade away...?
Persistence of Vision, Book 1 of Interchron. Winter, 2012.



Thursday, August 9, 2012

Friday Follow--Early Bloggmanship!


Gain new followers and make new friends with the Book Blogger Feature & Follow! If this is your first time here, welcome! You are about to make some new friends and gain new followers — but you have to know — the point of this hop is to follow other bloggers also. I follow you, you follow me.


How does this work? First you leave your name here on this post, (using the linky tools — keep scrolling!) then you create a post on your own blog that links back to this post (easiest way is to just grab the code under the #FF picture and put it in your post) and then you visit as many blogs as you can and tell them “hi” in their comments (on the post that has the #FF image). You follow them, they follow you. Win. Win. Just make sure to follow back if someone follows you!
What sets this Hop apart from others, is our Feature. Each week we will showcase a Featured Blogger, from all different genres and areas. Who is our Feature today? Find out below. Just remember it is required, if you participate, to follow our Features and you must follow the hosts (Parajunkee & Alison Can Read) as a courtesy. How do you follow someone? Well, if you have a preference, state it in your #FF post. A lot of blogs are transitioning to WordPress in which they do not have the luxury of GFC, so an RSS subscription is appreciated or if you choose an email subscription. If you don’t have GFC please state in your post how you would like to be followed.

Q: What would you do over if you were to start your blog again from scratch?


I don't have anything major I would do over again, but more like a few details. I would follow more blogs, network more, comment/reply more, and try to find more blog hops because they do seem to be the best way to gain followers! :D


RULES

To join the fun and make new book blogger friends, just follow these simple rules:
    • (Required) Follow the Follow My Book Blog Friday Hosts {Parajunkee & Alison Can Read}
    • (Required) Follow our Featured Bloggers
    • Put your Blog name & URL in the Linky thing. You can also grab the code if you would like to insert it into your posts.
    • Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say “hi” in your comments and that they are now following you.
    • If you are using WordPress or another CMS that doesn’t have GFC (Google Friends Connect) state in your posts how you would like to be followed
    • Follow Follow Follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Also, don’t just follow, comment and say hi. Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don’t say “HI”
    • If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the Love…and the followers
    • If you’re new to the follow friday hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog!

Pushing the Limits: Read-Along Week 2 Questions

So I'm participating in the Pushing the Limits read-along, hosted by several bloggers including Candace's Book Blog and Pages Turners. This is the second week's questions. To read my Week 1 answers, click here.

1. ­­­Noah and Echo create a plan to read their files. What do you think of this plan? Would you read your friends file first knowing you might not have time to read your own? Would you want to read your own file? 

I think the plan is very high school, but it's also very desperate. They're smart kids, knowing how to manipulate things, and I think the plan could possibly work. I also think they underestimate Mrs. Collins, but that's to be expected from kids that so obviously don't trust authority figures. In many ways, I might be more interested in what was in my friend's file--especially if it was a guy I was into. Then again, if I were in Echo's position--with no memories of a horrendous experience, I might give my own file first dibs.

2. Mrs. Collins starts to earn Noah’s trust by taking him to see his brother win a writing contest. What do you think of how she’s handling Noah? How would you feel if you were in Noah’s position, hearing that your brother sees you as his hero? 

I think Mrs. Collins is doing an excellent job. She's going above and beyond her eight-to-five job description. In order to know what she does about Noah, and know how to connect with him in a way that will work, she obviously does her homework (no pun intended) and she obviously cares. Nothing could have gotten Noah's attention the way that did. If I had been Noah in that scene, I would have sobbing hysterically (definitely had moist eyes just reading the scene!). It was really touching.

3. Echo is starting to draw and paint again. She’s starting to express the feelings and what she’s seeing as she’s starting to remember what happened that day. Art therapy seems to be a popular way for people to deal with their feelings, why do you think Echo’s dad didn’t want her to continue with art since it was such a big part of her and is part of so many people’s therapy in dealing with similar issues? 

There could be two reasons in my opinion: 1) Echo's dad seems like the no-nonsense sort. Especially considering how hard he is on her for already-above average grades/test scores, and the fact that he's already decided she'll be applying to business school, he may be the sort of guy that doesn't put much stock in art. He can't understand it's importance or relevance in his daughter's life, because it doesn't have any in his. More likely, though, 2) I think art must have something to do with the terrible thing that happened to her. She remembers inviting her Mom to her art exhibit, but nothing about what happened at the exhibit itself. She can't imagine why her mother would have missed it, but no one's seen fit to explain it to her. I guess I'll find out as more is revealed, but it seems to me that he doesn't want her dabbling in art anymore because it may lead to her remembering the truth of what happened that day.

4. We see how crazy Beth’s home life is and we start to understand why she is not as keen to be trusting with people in her life. At the same time, we get to see how fiercely loyal Noah is. What do you think of the way Noah reacted to Beth being beaten by her mother’s boyfriend? Do you think it’s showing bad behavior that could get Noah in more trouble or the act of a true friend? 

Unfortunately, I think it's both. This kind of behavior will DEFINITELY get him into more trouble with the system, but he showed true loyalty to his friend by reacting this way. As someone who has brothers who would react exactly this way to this situation, this was a very realistic depiction. And, uh, side note: if at any point charges were filed and he told his story to any judge that was a woman, a father, a brother, or a husband, let's just say he'd probably get off with a few hours' community service. I HAVE heard of just such a thing happening before. :D Unfortunately, Noah and his friends are too afraid of being screwed over by the system yet again to trust anyone to help them or fight for them.

5. Echo has an unusual name. What do you think of the story behind it? Is there a Greek Myth or other story that would inspire you to name a child after a character? 

Greek myths tend to be very tragic. That's why we all like them so much. I really like the story behind Echo's name, but I would be reluctant to name my child after one of them. Every kid, especially as a teen, will experience angst and probably some heart ache, and I would never want my kid looking at the origin of their name as some kind of destiny. Luckily, Echo doesn't seem to be taking that approach. She actually loves the Greek mythology because it was a gift her mother gave her, and that's sweet. :D

6. Echo’s big thing is trying to find “normal” again. She doesn’t want to be the scared girl or the girl who can’t remember what happened to her, she just wants to be normal. This goal impacts her relationships with her family, friends, Noah and her ex Luke. But at the end of this section, Echo is starting to figure out that there’s no going back to old normal and she’s going to have to find a new normal. How big of a step is it for Echo when she realizes she’s not “in” love with Luke and figures out that she does need to find a new normal?

In terms of anything she's actually DOING, this is just a baby step. Yet emotionally, and in terms of how it will effect her life, it's HUGE! I was so glad to see her recognize certain truths and changes that needed to be made. Recognizing them is the first step toward a happier life and a "new" normal. (Hopefully with Noah! :D)


I'm loving this book! If you haven't read it yet, I'd highly recommend it! :D