Tuesday, July 25, 2017

So Your Character Has a Broken Bone ... Featuring Hannah England, Morgan Richert, and Christian Johnson





In this special edition of So Your Character Is ... I've asked various people tell their stories about when they broke a bone. I've never broken a bone myself and many a time we want our character to break a bone, but we have some questions that firsthand experience answers best. There aren't any graphic images, but I have included x-rays for reference.

Please welcome Hannah, Morgan, and Christian!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Significance of Names in Stories




"We don't give them names. It's too empowering." 
~Dr. Shunzo Mamiya (Terror on Resonance)

There are many posts out there on the internet about how to name your characters, but this isn't going to be one of those. As Mamiya said in that quote, names are empowering. Names make us stand out among the crowd. Names are part of our identity. They're how we identify ourselves and how other people identify us. Names are personal, and often parents take the time to look up name meanings before giving them to their children. My name, pretty obviously, means "Victorious." That's a pretty strong meaning. Suzanne Collins gave Katniss her name because the katniss flower is also known as arrowroot. 



Beyond meanings though is the psychological impact of names or the lack of them. The Nazis in World War II tattooed numbers on concentration camp prisoner's arms to dehumanize them. It helped the Nazi's believe that these people aren't people; they're just numbers; they don't matter. It's one of the ways the guards justified doing all of the horrible things to Jews, Romany, disabled, and other people groups.

Thus I'm going to talk about seven ways that names were an impact for characters psychologically. 


1.) When Names are Forgotten - Think about that for a second. How sad would it be if no one remembered your name anymore? Or even sadder if you almost forgot your own name? It's losing part of yourself. This is what happened to poor Gollum in The Lord of the Rings. Once upon a time he was a regular riverfolk by the name of Smeagol, but over five hundred years of torment from the Ring, he became the creature Gollum. No one referred to him by his old name anymore. No one really remembered his name anymore. That's why when Frodo calls him Smeagol, Gollum is shocked, surprised, touched to hear his real name again for the first time in centuries. When Frodo called him that, some of his old self returned, the innocent child who loved fishing and sucking eggs like his Grandma taught him. 


2.) When Names are Changed - The change of a name can mean the transition of a phase of a characters' life into another one. This is how Beatrice Prior thought of it when she changed her name to Tris after joining Dauntless in Divergent. She no longer wanted to be the Abnegation stiff she was and taking on a new identity was one way, she helped herself change her mindset. She sees herself as two different people: Beatrice is who she was and Tris is who she is now. Beatrice was weak and scared; Tris is strong and brave.


3.) When Names are Stolen - Chihiro's name means "a thousand questions." It's a name of depth and meaning, of infinite curiosity and knowledge. However, in Spirited Away, when Chihiro signs a contract with the bath house owner Yubaba, she steals Chihiro's name and degrades it down to Sen, which is just a number. With stripping away the spelling of her name, she strips away part of Chihiro's identity.



In Terror on Resonance, Nine and Twelve once had names, but they forgot about them when they were very young when they were chosen from orphanages to become savants. The scientists took away their identities. Like the Nazi's, this helped them feel better about experimenting on five-year-olds with a fatal drug. 


4.) When Names are Secrets - In A Knight's Tale, William Thatcher has to change his named to Ulrik von Liechtenstein to be about to compete in jousting. He had to hide that he came from Cheapside, London, to pretend he was a nobleman. In doing this, he felt like he had to hide part of himself, he had to hide his origins, origins that the world wanted him to be ashamed of, but that William was deeply proud of. 

Eventually, when he is discovered to be of peasant birth, he is mocked for having a fake identity, but by the help of the Black Prince of Wales, he's able to compete again when the prince proclaims that William does indeed have royal blood. When William is jousting with Count Adhemar, a man who joined in the ridicule of William's origins, he shouts, "WILLIAM!" In this moment, he was embracing his name and his heritage and that he was no longer going to hide behind the helmet of a false identity. 


5.) When Names Protect - Sometimes names have to be hidden to protect both the bearer of the name and their loved ones. This is the reason why superheros choose different names. If a villain were to discover their true identities, then they could find where they live and hurt the people they love. It's why Bruce Banner takes on the name Batman and never reveals his true identity. It's why all of the X-Men take on code names that reflect their abilities. 


6.) When Names are Weapons - In Deathnote, if a name is written in the Deathnote that person will die. Normally the device is used by the Shinigami (Japanese Grimreapers), but this book falls into the hands of a mortal named Light Yagami. Light begins to think of himself like a god and begins killing people he believes shouldn't be in the world anymore, but he can only do this if he knows the persons' true name. Several characters in the story have false names and he searches voraciously to find their true identities.


7.) When Names are Proclaimed - Proclaiming a name proudly can be seen as acceptance of one's identity. For many years, Aragorn went by the name of Strider. He didn't want to be King of Gondor, he didn't feel worthy to be king primarily because he was afraid that he would fall to the same fate as his ancestor Isildur. It isn't until he is given Anduril and tasked with acquiring the Dead as part of his army does he finally proclaim that he is Isildur's Heir without shame. 


Moana has grown up her entire life proud of who she is, but she's never felt whole because she was forbidden from going into the sea. When she is ordering Maui to come with her to revive Te Fiti, she states, "I am Moana of Motunui. You will border my boat, sail across the sea, and restore the Heart of Te Fiti." Near the end of the film, when she loses her way but then finds it again, she proudly proclaims, "I am Moana!!"


Conclusion - Names can have so much impact on your story. These are just a few ways that they've hit home in various characters' lives. Think about the significance of names in your stories. It can add an extra depth to it. 

Have you thought the significance of names on your story? Have you thought of names as a theme in your story? Have you seen any of these shows and movies? Did you notice any of these points?

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Friday, July 21, 2017

A Book Review of Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray



Buy from Amazon!


She's a soldier -- Noemi Vidal is willing to risk anything to protect her planet, Genesis, including her own life. To their enemies on Earth, she's a rebel.

He's a machine -- Abandoned in space for years, utterly alone, Abel's advanced programming has begun to evolve. He wants only to protect his creator, and to be free. To the people of Genesis, he's an abomination.

Noemi and Abel are enemies in an interstellar war, forced by chance to work together as they embark on a daring journey through the stars. Their efforts would end the fighting for good, but they're not without sacrifice. The stakes are even higher than either of them first realized, and the more time they spend together, the more they're forced to question everything they'd been taught was true.


Series: Defy the Stars (Book 1)
Genre: YA Science Fiction
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (April 4, 2017)
Page Count: 512 pages

A few months ago I took the test for which planet from this book's storyworld I was from and I believe I got Genesis. Then my friends and I decided to read this book together thus I got it and started reading it and I really enjoyed it.

The Plot: The story held me through to the end. I didn't feel like it lagged in any part, and I loved all of the traveling to different planets. I really like how the story flowed so the readers could visit each one. 

The Characters: I really enjoyed the protagonists Noemi and Abel. By the end of the book I felt like I knew them as close as I would a friend. That really counts as good character development to me. Their details stuck with me. 

Both of them feel like they're alone in the world. Noemi feels alone because of her lost parents and her adopted parents never seeing her as their own, so she closed herself off. Abel is the only one of his kind therefore he feels alone. I really liked how they could relate to each other in that way. I also enjoyed Abel's simple love for the film Casablanca and how Noemi is devoted to her planet's beliefs. 

The story also featured a lot of side characters. None of them were developed quite to the extent as Noemi and Abel, but that's typical of side characters. The only closest one was the villain Mansfield, but that's typical for villains. ;)

The Setting: This is a space opera so there's a lot of travel from planet to planet. Each places is very distinct. Kismet is very tropical and crowded, Stronghold very harsh and stiff, Genesis peaceful and serene, Earth decaying and consumed with modern conveniences, and Cray secretive and elite. I enjoyed going to every planet and I felt like I was exploring them along with Noemi and Abel.

Epic Things: There a lot of epic things in this book. I loved having the POV of a mech. I love machine point of views. I think they're so interesting. A character was buried in a star, which I thought was so beautiful. 

The Theme: I really like how this book tackled loneliness. Abel is lonely because he was truly alone in a ship for thirty years, but Noemi was alone despite being surrounded by people and I really empathize for that. 


Content Cautions: This is a pretty clean book. There is mention of prostitution, brief nudity during a medical examination, and the worse gore was when a character digs out a memory chip out of their brain and there's mention of bone chips and well gore. There are ten usages of d***, ten usages of h***, two usages of a**, one of b**ch, and one of sh**.


What We Can Take Away For Our Writing:

1.) Portraying Religion Respectfully - On Genesis, just about everyone is a member of a faith whether that be Christianity, Catholicism, Islam, Buddhism, etc. Noemi is Catholic and she often prays, but she also struggles with having faith. I love her journey though with connecting with her faith throughout the story. It was very unusual to see in a secular book.

How this can be applied to writing:
This book really gave me more hope for humanity when it comes to religion portrayal, because I'm sick and tired of anyone religious turning out to be a crazy zealot. In most of what I watch or read that's what happened. I only know a handful that don't and most of them are because they're Christian literature. I may not agree with all of the theology stated in this book, but at least it was done respectfully.

2.) Featuring Unusual Injuries - A character actually breaks her pelvis and I thought this was an unusual and rarely shown wound. The injury ends up having fatal implications, but I found it interesting that the author chose to use this sort of wound as opposed to a more typical broken ribs or cracked skull.

How this can be applied to writing:
Try doing your research and having your character sustain more unusual injuries. The body can break in so many ways. ;)

Conclusion:  I actually really enjoyed this book. It held my interest and I found myself reading more than what I planned. Five stars!


About the Author:
Claudia Gray is not my real name. I didn't choose a pseudonym because my real name is unpleasant (it isn't), because I'd always dreamed of calling myself this (I haven't) or even because I'm hiding from the remnants of that international diamond-smuggling cartel I smashed in 2003 (Interpol has taken care of them). In short, I took a pseudonym for no real reason whatsoever. Sometimes this is actually the best reason to do things.

I live in New Orleans. So far, in life, I've been a disc jockey, a lawyer, a journalist and an extremely bad waitress, just to name a few. I especially like to spend time traveling, hiking, reading and listening to music. More than anything else, I enjoy writing. 
Blog//Twitter//Facebook//Goodreads//Instagram

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

So Your Character is From Taiwan ... Featuring Astrid Kaniele





It's time for this week's So Your Character is ... Post! This is a weekly segment where I interview lovely volunteers from around the world to give you a firsthand account of being a citizen of their respective country or having a disability. I'm hoping to encourage international diversity, break stereotypes, and give writers a crash course on how to write a character from these different places on our planet. If you haven't checked out last week's  So Your Character is from Japan ... be sure to hop on over there and give it a read!

I actually had a friend who taught English in Taiwan for over a year, so that immediately made me curious about the country. She brought me back a Lucky Cat key chain and I know the country was once part of China. I'm so happy I found Astrid so she could tell me more about this place!

Disclaimer: The content below may be culturally shocking to some. Each of these posts are as uncensored as possible to preserve the authenticity of the cultures of each of the interviewees.


(None of the Images are Mine)

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Writing Lessons from Movies: Once Upon a Forest




To compete against Disney, 20th Century Fox had an animation studio in the 90's that released films such as Fern Gully, The Pagemaster, Anastasia, and Once Upon a Forest. These films didn't gross too well in the boxoffice, so unfortunately the animation studio shut down, but that doesn't mean these films aren't remembered. These were a big part of my personal childhood, especially Once Upon a Forest. Recently, I rewatched Once Upon a Forest, just cause, and I realized it's actually a pretty well-written middle-grade audience movie. 

Once Upon a Forest is about three "furlings," a mouse named Abigail, a mole named Edgar, and a hedgehog named Russell. Because of a toxic gas spill, their forest is polluted, killing many of the woodland creatures and endangering the life of their badger friend, Michelle, who was also exposed to the chemicals. Since most of the forest is dead, the furlings have to travel to another forest far away to find the herbs they need to save their friends life.

Pretty intense for a kid's movie huh? Without further ado, let's get to the highlights. I believe this film has a lot of great things to point out, especially for writing middle-grade stories.

Warning: Spoilers.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Beautiful People #26 ~ Author Writing Process Edition






It's time for this month's Beautiful People! Yay! This is a link-up hosted by Paperfury and Further Up and Further In where you answer questions about your characters. I participated in Beautiful People for the last three years every month. Pretty crazy. XD This link-up has been just so helpful with character development. 

This month's edition isn't about characters, but about me. O_O So you guys get a little insight into my writing process! If you'd like to participate in this link-up yourself, check out either Paperfury or Further Up and Further In to see how. Here we go!

1.) How do you decide which project to work on?
Sometimes I work on a project because it looks like the market is tilting that way and some editors or agents are interested. Other times I do it because I really want to work on that project and finish it.

2.) How long does it usually take you to finish a project?
From beginning to end? Usually about a year. 

3.) Do you have any routines to put you in the writing mood?
Music usually puts me in a writing mood, but I don't usually have the luxury to get into a "writing mood" because if I only wrote in a writing mood I'd never get anything done. 

4.) What time of day do you write best?
Night owl here. I write best from 9 p.m. to 12 a.m.

5.) Are there any authors you think you have a similar style to?
I share similarities to Ryan Graudin, Marissa Meyer, Jill Williamson, and Bryan Davis.

6.) Why did you start writing, and why do you keep writing?
I've just always enjoyed creating stories ever since I was a little kid and I just feel like it's what I'm meant to do. I don't see myself doing anything else.

7.) What’s the hardest thing you’ve written?
I haven't finished it yet but the sequel to my steampunk fantasy Red Hood called Silver Hood. In the middle of writing it last year, I went through a really tough phase of my life between my grandfather passing away and getting into a car accident. I barely finished the first draft. I powered through but I really wanted to quit several times. 

8.) Is there a project you want to tackle someday but you don’t feel ready yet?
Yes. There's this one book I have in mind called Silhouette which is a first person adult fiction space opera steampunk romance. I've never been in love, so I just don't feel ready to write a book centered around a love story.

9.) What writing goals did you make for 2017 and how are they going?
I wrote out my goals at the beginning of the year and I'm staying mostly on track:

January:
Edit Red Hood for Language
Read over Starbloods

February:
Edit Red Hood for Language
Read over Starbloods

March:
Start Starbloods Rewrite

April:
Rewrite Starbloods

May:
Read Over Red Hood (Couldn't do)
Rewrite Starbloods

June:
Edit Starbloods

July:
Edit Starbloods

August:
Edit Starbloods

September:
Edit Starbloods
Plan for NaNo

October:
Plan for NaNo

November:
NaNo

December:

Finish up NaNo

10.) Describe your writing process in 3 words or a gif!

When I have bad days I look at this gif and feel better. XD This is what I think to myself while writing.

Does your writing process have any similarities to my writing process? Did you participate in the Beautiful People? Are you planning to? If so let me see your posts in the comments! Thanks for reading!



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