Friday, October 29, 2010

What makes a tradition?

All my life I have watched American movies and shows celebrate Halloween, but Australia has never celebrated it. This year seems to be something different. Every store has Halloween decorations (even selling carving pumpkins... I didn't even know there were such things as carving pumpkins), there's more costumes and they are even putting out candy purely for trick or treating.

I'm all for Halloween (I have secretly been envious that we didn't celebrate it so I could dress up and go trick or treating), but when Halloween night comes around I haven't been raised with the tradition of buying candy to hand out, and I wouldn't have any readily available.

Me, I don't think I have to worry about offending any one who's expecting candy at our place. I'm going to be out all day with either work or meeting up with the Brisbanites for our Nano Kick off Party, followed by a long night of fright at Movie World.

In any case, I wish everyone a Happy Halloween whether you celebrate it or not.

So, here's my question: how hard is it to bring in a new (but popular) tradition, and should everyone be expected to follow that tradition? And, especially for those that do celebrate Halloween, if you didn't grow up celebrating it, would you be obliged to stock up with candy just in case anyone does come knocking?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Allow Me to Geek out for a bit...

Tonight I was lucky enough to score tickets to a sneak preview of the new Tron movie (it was mean of them to show us 25 minutes and leave us dangling until the movie opens 16th December).

For those that don't know, here's the trailers for the original 1982 movie and the movie that's coming out this year (have a look at how much the technology has improved in the 2 decades since the first movie.

So, what's coming out that you're eagerly anticipating?

P.S. I got myself a new job, so now I'm not going to be sitting around procrastinating all day like I have been.

I am officially back

After a long 2 weeks of travelling and studying I can now say I'm back. It was a bit of a shock to the system to go from wearing shorts and t-shirts to rugging up in front of the fire (It's supposed to be Spring), it even snowed.

The bad weather made it interesting for my sister whose first exam had a black out so she could barely see what she was writing, lucky she said it was an easy English exam.

I didn't get as much done as Iwould have liked to with writing. I wrote about 6 chapters of Swayed and came up with probably 3 rough outlines for my Nano novel (ranging from contemporary to thriller... I'm still trying to stop myself from putting paranormal elements into it).

I did manage to finish the whole trilogy of the Hunger Games (via audio book). I know that's cheating, but sitting on a train with lights out it really does help.

Now, I'm back and eager to focus on my writing.

So, what has everyone else been up to?

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Never-Ending Scene Blogfest

Brenda Drake is hosting an intriguing blogfest called The Never-Ending Scene Blogfest. The challenge is to post a 500 word scene that ends with a cliff hanger.  So, I've chosen a scene from my WIP, Haven. Here is my entry to the blogfest, hope you enjoy:

* * *

Without waiting for the woman to pay any more attention to me, I push off the wall and charge toward the exit. I knock her to the ground as I bolt outside. A vast wilderness greets me. Aged trees with flaking bark tower over me.

I’m not going to stop to find out where I am. I keep heading in the only direction that makes sense, away from the deranged psychopath with the needle. Rain buckets down, but that’s not going to stop me. Branches claw me as I push through the foliage.

A twig snaps behind me. Whoever was at the door must be up and chasing after me.

A low inhuman growl wafts across the field. There's something else out here. The mud squelches as it approaches. I hate my life.

I force myself to my feet and run. There's only one thought in my head, and that's to get the hell out of here. The creature's roar echoes around me.

I turn my head. My feet catch on a twisted tree root and send me crashing to the muddy earth.

I strain my eyes trying to see whatever's out here stalking me. The rain obscures my vision. Briefly, I catch a glimpse of it between the trees. A warped, misshapen creature caught somewhere between a man and a wolf. Jagged silver quills protrude all over its body like a pincushion. Its glowing yellow eyes are smouldering beacons in the darkness.

It takes half a second for the terror to hit. I bolt.

Its warm breath brushes the back of my neck. I run faster, trying not to slip in the mud. No matter how quick I move, it's right there behind me. It's toying with me. This is how the poor girl in those horror movies must feel.

Every muscle aches. The icy air rushes painfully into my lungs. What's the worst that can happen if I just stop and play dead right here? The creature utters another bowel-shaking roar, but it doesn’t come from behind me.

A building comes into view. Out here in this wilderness I would have expected a small hut, but it looks like a decaying house, and the closer I get, the more buildings come into view. I skid to a stop and dart my gaze around, trying to find the creature.

Everywhere I look, things are ancient and withered. Nature has crept over man’s artifice, strangling some houses with foliage. Others have collapsed under the pressure of disuse.

The disturbing graveyard of a town pales in comparison to the massive stone edifice crouched behind it. A gothic structure built out of dark grey bricks. Vines claw their way up its sides as if trying to drag the towering megalith down into the very earth on which it rests. Tall spires erupt from the rooftop at bizarre angles, seemingly without reason. Even in the growing daylight, the building remains darkly ominous.

A tall fence constructed of the same dark bricks surrounds the massive structure, with iron spikes on top that stretches towards the heavens.

“Welcome to Haven,” a voice whispers in my ear just before I’m hit from behind and darkness takes me over once again.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Logging Off

Well, I'm definitely home (well, where I grew up) and I'm definitely feeling it. It's the middle of spring and I go from wearing shorts and t-shirts to rugging up with jumpers... it's even predicted to snow tomorrow, I'm certainly hoping that's not the case.

It's getting frantic around here because my sister starts the exams which will give her a number based on her whole high school experience. I would love to be able to do everything, but I promised to come home and help her prepare, so I'll have to say that I'll be offline for the next 1 1/2 weeks, and then I'll be back firing (hopefully with so many ideas for Nano).

So, see you all later.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Been a long day...

What does 22 hours of travel on a train/coach and 2 long days have in common? Only 2 hours sleep and a very numb butt.

I've spent the past 2 days travelling home (which makes it incredibly long day since I've lost an hour due to daylight savings). I promised to help my sister with her HSC preparations (they are a month long extensive examinations for year 12, at the end she will have a number that ranks her for university - out of 100).

It's rather hard to sleep on the train so I haven't had that much sleep, but I did get a lot done (unfortunately not with my writing which I could only stare at). I did read 1/2 a novel and nearly finished Hunger Games - the audio book version... it's best to listen when there's no light source.

Oh well, I'm going to try and get a lot of sleep so that I'm not tired and I can help her with her exam preps and also try and write some more since I've been neglecting it lately.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Getting ready for November

November's right around the corner and it's time to think of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Lucky I've had several story ideas this year that I'm going to be able to utilise, and spend the rest of the month to plot the idea.

For those that don't know, the object of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words in the month of November. Why would I do such a thing? It's a great challenge (actually forcing me to write every day) and it also gives me the opportunity to meet up with writers (which is always the best part of it).

Who out there are participating in NaNoWriMo?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

It's all in the twist

It's been said that there are no new stories, just the twist in which the author spins that makes something original. I always love reading something that has an original spin (especially if that spin keeps me guessing to the end), and I love trying to think "outside the box" when it comes to creating my stories, always looking for a way to tell my story in a different and hopefully unique way.

So, I'm tackling my new story "Swayed" like this. I've got two main characters, twins, who get a copy of an unreleased game and as they get to the higher levels of it, the game gives them super powers and the game is brought into reality.

This story is allowing me to try and twist something that is well known (superheroes/villains and super powers) into something that is different. Yeah, I could give all my heroes flight or strength, but I wanted to be different. I do, in fact, have a speedster who is super fast, but the difference with this power is that she builds up  light as she runs so she looks like a shooting star. But, for the rest of the powers I'm trying to find some of the under-used powers.

Jett (my main villain) is a technopath. He can understand how any mechanical object is assembled and works, and can build anything. The only problem is that when he builds he doesn't know what he's building (or what will happen once the device is switched on) until he tests it. His whole subconscious takes over when he starts building and he works more on instinct.

Jace (my hero) can open portals which she can travel through. The limitation is that she can only open portals to as far as she can see. They can also be dangerous if she can't control them and they become like a vacuum.

So, just for fun, what sort of super power would you like to have? And, would you be a hero or villain?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Review: The Karma Club

The Karma Club by Jessica Brody
Synopsis (From Goodreads): "Personally, I’m tired of waiting for the universe to get off its butt and start fixing stuff. I don’t want to wait around for Mason to get what’s coming to him. Or Heather Campbell, for that matter . . . I want to be there to see it happen."

Madison Kasparkova always thought she understood how Karma works. It’s that mysterious, powerful force that brings harmony to the universe. You know—do good things and you will be rewarded, do something bad and Karma will make sure you get what’s coming to you. A sort of cosmic balancing act.

But when Mason Brooks, Maddy’s boyfriend of two years, gets caught tongue-wrestling with Miss Perfect Body Heather Campbell, and absolutely nothing happens to either of them—except that they wind up the hot new couple of Colonial High School, it seems like Karma has officially left Maddy in the lurch. That’s why Maddy and her best friends, Angie and Jade, decide to start the Karma Club—a secret, members-only organization whose sole purpose is to clean up the messes that the universe has been leaving behind. Whether they’re modifying Heather Campbell’s acne cream as part of “Operation Butterface,” or righting a few wrongs when it comes to Angie and Jade’s own slimy exes, they know they’re just doing what Karma should have done in the first place. They’re taking care of one another.

Sometimes, though, it isn’t wise to meddle with the universe. Because it turns out, when you mess with Karma, Karma messes back. Now Maddy must find a way to balance her life for good, even as everything around her seems to be toppling to the ground.

Jessica Brody has created a light-hearted story about a group of friends who decide that the universe isn't quick enough to punish those who have wronged them. When Maddy walks in on her soon-to-be-ex boyfriend making out with the most popular girl at school she wants nothing more than to make him feel the same hurt and humiliation that she did, but when the universe takes too long in righting this wrong, she decides to take things into her own hands. She decides to form the Karma Club with her friends and get back at the cheating boyfriends who have hurt them.

What the friends soon learn is that every action has a consequence. Will they be able to handle all the consequences or will the universe be able to balance itself out again?

This was a light-hearted read with interesting characters. At times it felt like a self-help book as it explained the rules of karma and the butterfly effect. But, the actions and consequences that the characters run into made it an interesting read.

Cover:  This cover is definitely cheeky and suits the tone of the story perfectly.

Plot: 3/5 stars
Ending: 3/5 stars
Cover: 4/5 stars
Overall: 3/5 stars
Recommend: Meg Cabot, The Cinderella Society
Debut Author Challenge: #12 of 12 (Yay, I've completed the challenge)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Writing a "likeable" villain

Well, I've been toying around with a superhero/villain story for a while and (after catching up on some episodes of Heroes) I've decided to put all my other projects on hold and go back to writing this story. The challenge with this story is that there's 2 main characters, twins, who get powers. One becomes a hero, the other a villain.

So, here's the dillemma I'm facing: How am I going to write from a villain's perspective and still get the reader to like him?

I love watching sympathetic villains (you know, the ones you wished you could root for even though you know they're evil and will probably never win), but I've never read anything from a villains POV before. There are several stories out there that have kids placed in the villainous role, but still they end up being the hero (probably because everyone else around them are evil and they defeat them).

To be able to write a likeable villain, is the same to write any character:
  1. Readers need to be able to relate to them.
  2. All actions have to have a consequence.
  3. They have to have some morals and ideals - even though they are more twisted than the hero.
  4. They can't be 100% evil (just like heroes can't be 100% good) - that's just not realistic.
  5. They have to have a goal, and reasons behind the goal.
  So, have you ever written from a villains POV? What villains do you like and thought deserved to win?
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