Wednesday, 29 June 2016

The Fantastic Dialog Tag

     It's time for a tag! The lovely Jeneca tagged me for the Fantastic Dialog Tag. It was started by Nate Philbrick and the aim is to share your favourite five snippets of dialog said completely out of context.

     All these snippets are from Golden Revenge (which I am half way through first drafting, yay!)




      Bit of context for the next one: moussaka is a type of food. Plus I kind of cheated here by putting in three lines, but you know...they relate!




     And that's it! Now to tag some people (if they want to do it XD)... 

     Victoria @ Wanderer's Pen

     Laura @ Boats Against the Current

      And YOU!!! If you want to do this tag, go ahead and share all your fantastic dialog!

What's your favorite snippet of dialog from your WIP? Do you have to keep reminding your characters that they don't have to stab things all the time? And if you've done the tag, link in the comments!

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Types of Love Triangles

     It's hard to read any YA without coming across some sort of love triangle. The more I read, the more I see patterns of the kinds of love triangles included. I thought it would be fun to break down the different types of the stereotypical one: two guys falling for one girl. Let's jump in!

    Note: this post involves sarcasm.



1) Brooding vs Optimistic

     This is the type I see most often in YA. The heroine will meet two guys at the same time who are completely different from each other. One is probably blonde, with a charming grin, and eyes like the sea. He's bright, bubbly, and falls madly in love with the heroine. 

     The other is most likely dark haired, who says little and is so mysterious the heroine is drawn to him. Dark-Haired is a rebel with a cause, and loves the heroine, but is afraid to say it. Oh, and they're both devastatingly attractive and make butterflies flutter around in her stomach.

      But she chooses the latter because every heroine is drawn to the tragically misunderstood rebel.



2) Perfect vs Perfect

     The two guys are both extremely muscular, make all the girls sigh as they walk past, and seem to have no flaws except maybe a past they can't control. The heroine is, of course, equally in love with both of them, and just can't choose! 

     But don't worry, one of them will probably betray her trust, so she'll won't have any problems choosing anymore!



3) New vs Past

     In this love triangle, the heroine is torn between an old friend she's grown up with and a dashing young man she's just met. Should she go with the guy she knows well, or throw all caution to the wind and be swept up by the new one? 



Bonus: Love Square/Pentagon/Decagon

     This heroine can never seem to find the right guy, and every man she sets her sights on loves her within hours. It seems by the end of each book her current guy betrays her, she doesn't like him anymore, and then finds someone else. Of course, since her exes never seem to get over her, it can make things a little more complicated...


I'm curious; do you enjoy love triangles if they're done right, or do you steer clear of them completely? Which of the above love triangles do you see a lot? Any types that I missed?

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

A Book's Genesis: In the Beginning there was an Idea...

     And...I'm back with another A Book's Genesis! This is a link-up hosted by Daniela and it gives writers an opportunity to share about their WIPs and how they came up with them, their writing process, and so on with the awesomeness. 

     This week is all about sparks and inspiration for my WIP, Draped in Deception. If you're not sure what it's about, you can check out the first A Book's Genesis post or head over to the My Writing page.

     Right, let's get the sparks flying!


What was the inspiration that sparked Draped in Deception?

     D.I.D. (as I call it) has changed quite dramatically from the first draft to what it is now. Its premise changed completely. Unfortunately I can't recall what sparked the original premise, but it just kind of jumped at me like this: "What if the royal wives couldn't have children, and so they had Bearers, or essentially surrogates to provide heirs?" I pantsed it from there, until my brain put the spin on it which was, "What if my MC wasn't there to become the prince's Bearer, but to kill him?"

     From there I developed the current premise of: 


     An assassin falls for her target.

Another Way D.I.D. was sparked into being...

The book is basically a combination of all different things I love to read about:

  • Forbidden love
  • Underground crime groups
  • Royalty
  • Awkward princes
  • Sass/sarcasm
  • Spies
  • Complicated cultures

What _____ inspired D.I.D?

Books

This is hard to pinpoint, but here are a couple that I loved around the time I started writing it, or relate to D.I.D in some way:


Throne of Glass



An Ember in the Ashes


Poison Study



Songs

Black Roses Red by Alana Grace - this song sums up a lot of the romance in D.I.D. I heard it and just had to add it to the book's playlist. 



Monster by Imagine Dragons - for me this conveys Lissaer's fear about her true identity being found out by Eric (she is undercover in the enemy city), especially the line: "If I told you what I was, would you turn your back on me?"



Safe and Sound ft. The Civil Wars by Taylor Swift - everything about this song is soft and ethereal, and has the kind of tune that I imagine Lissaer humming in a beginning scene.



This Thing Called Love by NF - the lyrics are almost identical to the way Eric feels about love; something that can build you up but also cuts you down.



Spiral by Rebecca Clements - reminds me of Lissaer's relationship with her mother, but I won't explain because of spoilers.



Main/Secondary Characters

     Here I'll talk about what I wanted the main characters to be like, and their key defining traits, since I don't have clear character inspirations.

Eric - I really wanted an awkward, yet kind, type of prince that was far from the normal stereotype of blond haired, muscular, and good at everything. 

Lissaer - I didn't understand her for a long time. I expected to write a tough, no-nonsense assassin, and what I got was a girl who just wanted to bead jewelry and was forced into the military by her mother. But, I'm glad it turned out that way. Lissaer was strong, but not just in her body. Her heart was strong and big.


(Image not mine)Meet Adam
Adam - This is the sassy, mysterious physician who seems to be everywhere, and takes in kids from the street. He's more arrogant than anything, but somehow I love him. Adam was never supposed to be in D.I.D, but I'm super happy he pushed in.


This is so Keira, with her blonde hair and headscarf
Keira - Confident, vague about her personal life, but fiercely loyal. She will do anything to secure what she wants.

     Next month I'll talk about how I pantsed the entire first draft, how I went about writing Draped in Deception, and lots more! 


What is your current WIP about? Do you have any songs that seem to fit in perfectly with a certain scene or character? Let me know in the comments; it's great hearing from all of you!

Saturday, 18 June 2016

How to Develop a Magic System (Part 3) - Limits

     A runner can't run forever. Eventually their well trained body will get tired, they'll thirst, they'll hunger, they'll need to rest. Every human being has limits; they can only push themselves so far. 

     It's the same with magic.

     From the tiniest snippet used, to a massive explosion that could wipe out the enemy army, there has to be a cost to magic. But before we dive into that, if you haven't caught up on this blog series yet, you can check out part 1 and part 2



     That brings us to the two essential questions this week:


What is the cost of magic? What are its limits?

     As Rumpelstilksin famously says in Once Upon a Time, "Magic always comes with a price, dearie."

1) What is the cost of magic?

     There are rules and consequences that apply to Earth. You don't eat = you get hungry. You drop something = gravity pulls it down. Likewise, your magic system should be full of consequences. This will not only make your story seem realistic, but could also escalate conflict if your character has to make sacrifices to use their magic.

     Examples of consequences of magic use include making characters hungry, draining their energy, or deteriorating their body. Using a lot could even end with their death! 

     The more extreme the cost, the higher the stakes.


You can also fulfill your fictional food dreams at the same time!
2) What are its limits?

     It wouldn't be great if every evil wizard ever could complete their evil plan in a blink, would it? There would be no realism in that (unless they obtained some otherworldly source, and even then they're pushing it). The limit of how much magic can be used at once ties in with the source; not enough source, not enough magic. Also, if the cost is great then your characters will have to fight to get to their magical goal.

     While developing your magic system, make sure that magic can do great and bold things, but keep it on a leash. We don't want worlds accidentally blown up in training, do we?
Think of limits as a wall separating what the magician can't reach, and can.
     So that wraps up the How to Develop a Magic System blog series. I had a blast writing this, and I hope all your magical systems are going along well. Keep telling your magical stories!


Did you find this series helpful? Any other blog topics you'd like me to talk about? Let me know in the comments; I love hearing from all of you!

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Nationality: World

     I love Thailand. I have been here most of my life (around thirteen and half years living here), despite being born in Sydney and living there for two and a half years. But I don't remember anything of those two years; my first memory is my family's apartment in Bangkok, the capital of Thailand. And then the memories switch to Chiang Mai.

     My only memories of Australia are being there as a stranger.



     Sometimes I struggle with knowing who I am; where I consider myself from. Because though I have pale skin and brown hair, my house is in Thailand. Because though I have an American/English/occasionally Australian accent, I've grown up on a Thai soi*. I might have Australian and Latvian blood in me, but both those places are foreign to me.

*a tiny narrow road winding between houses

     In my international school, one of the first questions you ask when getting to know someone is, "Where are you from?" I would usually reply "Australia" as the question meant what your passport country was.

     The next time someone asks me that, I'm going to say, "The world."



     The world is full of rich cultures, different kinds of people, amazing geography, and wonderful places. We usually define ourselves by a sliver of land cut into pieces and called a country.

     Most days I feel like I am from many places, but at the same time, I'm from nowhere.  In Thailand I'm still furang (foreigner), still have to go to immigration and have a visa. I'm a foreigner in the only place that doesn't feel foreign. In Australia my looks fit in, but my manners and perspective of the world do not.



     "How does it feel to be home?" People in Australia ask me.

     I'll be brutally honest right now: Australia is not my home. My perception of home is where my heart, family, and friends are. 

     A home should not be just a house.

     I believe it's a group of people who you love and love you back, and that no matter where you go, are always there to support you. To laugh with you. To cry with you.

     I might be stuck between worlds, from an entire globe but not a single country, but at least I know one thing:

     I've got a home.


Do you guys struggle with your identity in any way? Have you ever travelled? (Also, sorry to break away from my normal Wednesday writing posts, but I'll be back with the final Magic System post on Saturday). Share in the comments; I love hearing from all of you! :)

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Beautiful People: June Edition

     June means summer holidays for me, but also time for another Beautiful People!

     In case you're not sure what Beautiful People is about, it's a link-up hosted by the wonderful Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up and Further In, designed to help you get to know your characters better. 



     As last Beautiful People I talked about Taylan in my WIP 'Golden Revenge', I thought it only fair to talk more about another major character: Mida.

     Here's a super short summary for you if didn't catch it last Beautiful People:


Refugees + civil war + illegal magic + teenage mercenary who needs revenge + princess whose touch turns everything to gold + curses + trying to live in a country not your own + magic-hogging queens + depression trying to be treated with stimulated magic + furious yet cunning rebels + stormdancers = 
Golden Revenge

     This month's questions are about childhood, so let's dive into Mida's!

1) What are their first childhood memories?
     Mida's most vivid early childhood memory is a gold and orange butterfly landing on her chubby hand for a few seconds. This might not seem like a very significant one at first, but this is the only time Mida can remember touching something without turning it to gold. 


2) What were their best and worst childhood experiences?
     She didn't understand at first, why her hands were gold when she woke up. Part of her thought her brothers pranked her by dipping them in gold paint, so she ran out of her nursery. There was servant boy she liked to play tag with. His back was to her, and she grabbed his arm, about to ask him to play.

     Mida didn't realize the gold he turned into came from her hands until too late.

     That had to be Mida's worst experience, because then she understood that she could never touch anything without magical gloves, and that she was a murderer.

     But onto slightly more happy experiences. Mida has three brothers, and they liked nothing more than to egg her into horse racing. It was the wind rushing past her ears, her hair whipping behind her, and the rumble of hooves in the races that let her discover temporary freedom. She almost always won the races.


3) What was their childhood home like?
     Well, since she's third in line for the throne, she's always lived in the Kantan Palace. It's massive, perched on the edge of a cliff and over-looking the roaring green ocean. Since Mohetanians commune with their god through water, there are small streams which run through each room. Every floor is richly coloured tiles. 


4) What's something that scared them as a child?
     Though Mida won't let anyone know (she always tries to be brave and strong) she was and is terrified of storms. The ocean waves crash almost high enough to reach the edge of the palace, making her tremble that the water might one day sweep her away. She would hide in her wardrobe, pretending it was magically water proof.


5) Who did they look up to most?
     Her eldest brother, Kyron. Kyron is almost the opposite to Mida, never afraid to show his feelings and always sticking to the law. She admired (and still does) his compassion and ability to sort out truth from lies.

6) Favourite and least favourite childhood foods?
     If you dared to try and take away Mida's slices of potato cured in sea salt, then roasted in spices, you might have lost a limb. But if you wanted to, you know, spare her from those slices of banana on her plate, that would be fine.

7) If they had their childhood again, would they change anything?
     Yes; she wouldn't go to the servant boy to play tag. I don't think I need to elaborate why.


8) What kind of child were they? Curious? Wild? Devious?
     With three brothers Mida soon became a natural at detecting pranks, and then setting them up herself. She was definitely a mix between wild (running down palace hallways in nothing but her nightgown) and devious (planting fresh fish in her brothers' beds).

9) What was their relationship to their parents and siblings like?
      Mida was never close to her father, King Clain, until the curse was put on her. After that, sometimes they would just sit in his study and play hours of chess together. Someone focusing on the game and not her hands for once was a blessing. Mida and her mother were not close, as her mother was often in the city trying to help people. Her relationship with her brothers consisted of teasing, racing, sword-fights, pranks, but also looking out for each other.


10) What did they want to be when they grew up, and what did they actually become?
     She always liked the idea of caring for horses, or perhaps setting up a professional horse racing track in Kanta and competing. Part of her never expected it to happen, and she accepted her role as princess. Mida is very busy around the palace, helping with accounting, dealing with nobles, and assisting Kyron with paper-work. 

     And trying to figure out how to break her curse.


     So that's it for this month's Beautiful People! I can't wait until next month to share more about Golden Revenge and its characters with you. I definitely learnt a lot about Mida through this.

What early memories do your characters have? Did you have fun exploring the mini-versions of them? Let me know in the comments, and if you participated in Beautiful People, link below. I'd love to check them out! 


Wednesday, 8 June 2016

How to Develop a Magic System (Part 2) - Powers


     When I was younger, I used to play imaginary games where I was some kind of magical queen. I could wrap myself in shadows, send fire shooting from fingertips, and chat to giant dogs. Magic, or more, what I could do with magic, was the most fun part of it, because imagination was literally the limit.

     Today I'm going to be chatting about the powers magic gives characters. This is the second post in the blog series How to Develop a Magic System. You can find the first part here. (And don't forget to drop by next week for the final post: limits!)



     When building up my magic systems, a major problem I often hit is: what type of powers do they have? 

     There are dozens of different powers characters can have. Maybe even hundreds. If you want proof of that, GoTeenWriters covers an extensive list. I use this as a reference point to give me a general idea of the powers before I dive into specifics.

     So while you panic over the number of choices, refer to these questions:


What can these powers do/what effects do they have? How can they do this?

     Let's go through the questions one at a time.

What can these powers do/what effects do they have?

     This might seem like a pretty obvious question (fire=burns things, healing=heals wounds). But many people skip over this question, just going to the standard effects. The beauty of magic is that anything is possible, so long as you make it work within the rules of the world. Never be afraid to push the boundaries of magical powers. 

     Examples: if you are working with shadows (typically people jump from shadow to shadow in foction), what if instead of manipulating shadows, the magician can manipulate what causes the shadows, like the sun or a light source? Or if the powers include the elements, what if you use the oxymoron 'cold fire' and make the fire look like flames, but it's so hot...it feels cold?]

     Play around with it!



How can the powers do *effect*?

     This is slightly tied in with the source of magic. For example, if the source is the magician, the power comes from the magician's mind, body, etc. But once the magic is drawn out of the source, how does it manifest or do the desired effect? Many forms of fictional magical systems rely on touch to transfer the magic, or the magician's will.

     Another way to reword this question would be to ask: how is the magic transferred?

     Powers might rely on an unlimited supply of magic, or certain things within its proximity in order to take its path (ex: need oxygen in air, ground to be burnt, water source nearby to be manipulated).

     This question relies on the prior one, and while it's more logical, you can still bend your imagination and come up with a unique transferring method for your marvelous powers.




How is your magic system building going? What magical power would you like to have right now? Share in the comments; I love hearing from you!

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Book Review: "Rook" by Sharon Cameron


*Note: this post contains my honest opinions, and my opinions only. I never mean to hate or bash on an author or any work they do. I am simply putting how I viewed a book as a whole, and I encourage everyone to try every book I review if you believe you would enjoy it.*

"Rook" by Sharon Cameron was one of those books I bought more for the cover than anything else. The blurb sounded good, but the broken Eiffel Tower and the vibrant red-tipped feather just called to me. Can we just admire the brilliant cover for a moment? Can we?

Beautiful.


The blurb:

     History has a way of repeating itself. In the Sunken City that was once Paris, all who oppose the new revolution are being put to the blade. Except for those who disappear from their prison cells, a red-tipped rook feather left in their place. Is the mysterious Red Rook a savior of the innocent or a criminal?

     Meanwhile, across the sea in the Commonwealth, Sophia Bellamy’s arranged marriage to the wealthy René Hasard is the last chance to save her family from ruin. But when the search for the Red Rook comes straight to her doorstep, Sophia discovers that her fiancé is not all he seems. Which is only fair, because neither is she. 

     As the Red Rook grows bolder and the stakes grow higher, Sophia and René find themselves locked in a tantalizing game of cat and mouse.

What I Liked:

- This book started off really great for me, with lots of action and mystery. It really drew me in, but I was thrown off a bit when there was about two or three point-of-view changes within the space of a few pages. But I’ll excuse that because I love intense beginnings. So! Much! Action!

- The premise of a society that lost our technology intrigued me. It was fun to try and figure out what certain objects were that the characters described as ‘things from the Ancients.’ A character, Tom, even collected broken objects such as old gaming controls.

- The cover. I know I’m not supposed to judge a book by the cover, but I do.

- I was kept guessing in a lot about what the characters would do, which encouraged me to keep reading.

- The main POV, Sophia Bellamy, has many secrets and is not afraid to stand up for herself. She's wicked good with a sword, but often uses her intelligence as a weapon as well.

What I Didn’t Like:

I had two major issues with this book: characters and pacing.

- Even tough I liked Sophia, the characters all felt...the same. Or at least, the major ones. They were all intelligent, cold at times, witty, and secretive. I had trouble connecting with most of them, which could be a personality thing, but it might have been they felt flat because of their similarities. 
Another reason I didn’t connect was because there were comments dropped by characters like: "Tom. Good, sweet Tom, who did everything for me." This would be fine if I actually agreed with the statement/was shown it through that character’s actions.

- The pacing started off very fast, but then kind of dragged in the middle. I felt like I knew what the climax of the entire book would be a couple chapters in, and it took all the space in between planning for that. And more planning. This is why it took me several weeks to read through the book; I felt like I was creeping along the pages instead of sprinting.

Overall, it was an enjoyable book, but it still had flaws which were a problem for me. So, as a grand total I give it...


Have you read Rook before? If so, did you like it? If you haven't, do you think you'll add it to your enormous TBR? Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

How to Develop a Magic System (Part 1) - Source of Magic


     Magic. If someone was to ask you to think of the word 'fantasy', and then come up with several words immediately, magic is almost certain to be one of them. Magic, and the powers it gives characters for good or for bad, is often a key part of plots. But how do you make a magic system for your novel? How do you make sure it has depth and makes sense to the reader?

     In this blog series How to Develop a Magic System, I hope to help you answer those questions. This will be split into three blog posts: source of magic, powers, and limitations.



     This week I'll be talking about the most basic part of a magic system; the source. You could argue that it's the most important thing to consider while building the system, for it will affect every other part of it.

     There are two questions you should ask while brainstorming which source to use.


Where is it coming from? Why is it coming from there?

      Below are the basic options for magic sources.

From...

the World: 
Where it's coming from: In many fantasy novels, magicians can pull magic from the very core of the world itself. 
Why is it coming from there: The world is considered woven from magic itself, and so magicians can sense the world's magical make-up and make it into what they wish.



the Magician: 
Where it's coming from: From the magicians' mind or body, from imagination to emotions, from a single thought to doing a certain action, could be the source of magic.
Why is it coming from there: Oftentimes magic is passed down by bloodline in books, hinting it is in their DNA. This means that the magician is the source themselves, and they have to look no further to access magic.



an Object: 
Where it's coming from: This could be anything from a sword of a long dead king, to a necklace from another world. Usually some prized, treasure hidden for good (or bad) reason. 
Why is it coming from there: The object has magical properties or was once used by a magician. By having contact with this object, the magician can access the power of the object. 

Other People:
Where it's coming from: Another magician, or perhaps the magician is drawing energy or power out of people surrounding them.
Why is it coming from there: If from another magician, it could be a gift to boost the amount of power, or if from others, they could have untapped power that your magician can take.



Religion:
Where it's coming from: Some form of religious deity, or God, or multiple gods/goddesses, or spirits.
Why is it coming from there: They have great, all-mighty, and supernatural powers which they might grant a sliver of to the magician.


     So when trying to brainstorm your magic system, consider all your options. Try to skirt the typical sources unless they work perfectly with your story. All of these types of sources can be flipped upside down, meshed together, or ripped apart in order to find the source of magic that fits. Weigh your options. Push your creativity, and let that unique magic shine.

Which source is your favourite/least favourite? Have you used one of these a lot in your writing? Which ones do you wish to see more of in books? Share your thoughts in the comments; I'd love to hear from you!