Friday, July 30, 2010

Mr. Monster

What? A book review???

Yes. Because I love this book. It’s been a long time since I found a book I actually didn’t want to put down. A long time. For some reason I’ve recently become horrendously picky about everything I read to the point I throw even Jim Butcher across the room. (For good reason. But that’s another rant.)

Anyway, I’ll be brief. Here’s the book in question:


I don’t think it’s released in the U.S. yet, but Nathan got a copy and I borrowed it from him and I loved it and I wish I owned it now. Mr. Monster is the second book in Dan Wells’s Serial Killer trilogy (is that even what it’s called?) and it was gripping from page one to the last word in the BEST ENDING the book could have had. Really. The ending of this book was the best thing of my literature year. Beautiful.

The first book is called I Am NOT a Serial Killer, and the third, which isn’t released yet, will be titled, I Don’t Want to Kill You. The first book is really good, the second is even better. I have high hopes for the third.

For those of you who haven’t heard of the series, it’s about 15-year-old John Cleaver, a sociopath with all the indicators of becoming a serial killer.* Not only that, he’s obsessed with serial killers—he’s a freaking Wikipedia on them. However, he has strict rules he forces himself to follow so he doesn’t become like the killers he reads about.

However, this all changes when a serial killer comes to his home town. Then things get awesome.

Should you read it? Yes. Even if you’re squeamish. (Some of the detailing in the morgue scenes made my stomach churn.) It’s a classified YA, but it really pushes the boundaries. Which I like.

Liked so much that I actually stalked the author on Facebook so I could tell him. He doesn’t have a reader comment section on his site. (Disclaimer: I do not recommend stalking authors, even if they’re nice ones.)

Excerpt of the day:
“Just think about it,” she breathed. “What if you’re more than you think you are? What if you really have divine potential? Think of all the people you could save. . .”
“All the people I could damn,” Esrov whispered, barely hearing himself. “Heaven, hell, afterlife? I don’t understand any of it. None of this makes sense!” he withdrew his hand, but Father Alrith did not stand.

The Raimos, chapter 24

*Pyromania, cruelty to animals, and bed-wetting.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Chapter Titles

First, I want to point out how good I’ve been at updating this thing. Go me.

Second, I want to say that my last word count was more than 2x normal, which means I’m finally out of my “this part of the book sucks” slump.

Third, TR may actually be longer than TOS, which was 169k. That would be insane. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen.*

Okay, so here are my thoughts on chapter titles. They can be cool. I don’t use them.

Well, I did, but now I don’t. The Oracle Seals has chapter titles. CSH and TR don’t. I don’t think they’re really necessary. David Farland recently said that he supports them—they can pique the reader’s interest in the next chapter. And yes, they can. (Though honestly, sometimes his chapter titles spoil more than pique.)

It’s kind of fun to come up with titles for chapters, but I hope my prose will keep the reader going on its own. I don’t know—I’m actually on the fence on this one. Perhaps it just depends on what I’m writing.

What are your opinions on chapter titles?

Excerpt of the day:
“We’ve got to get out of here,” Todorov said, dropping the limp stem. “Goads, what do I do?”
“What—” Esrov whispered, but Todorov quickly hushed him.
The was a long pause before Todorov spoke again, dropping his head. “You spirited again, you fish-gutter. Idiot. They
saw you.”
The Raimos, chapter 24

*And, of course, I won’t count up my words until I’m finished.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I Find Character Names in Security Codes

As I’ve mentioned before, I keep a folder on my jump drive* called “Character Soup,” where I store bios and ideas on characters that cross my mind. The most prevalent document in this folder is the “1 Names I Like” folder (marked with a “1” so it always appears at the top of the list). Whenever I think of a name, hear of a name, or discover a name I really like, I add it to this document. It’s been very, very helpful. I think ¾ of my names for CSH came from that list.

Anyway, one of the best places, in my opinion, to get ideas for fantasy-esque names is in those security codes certain Web sites make you type in to protect users from spam. My favorite is blogger. Whenever I comment on someone’s post, I get to type in a security code, and sometimes those random bungle of letters turns out to be pretty swell.

Here, I’ll go comment on someone’s blog and see if anything good comes up.


Okay, there. The code word was “Okocoil.”

Not bad. I’ve actually used “Oko” as a name before. And you can play with it to make a name. Or toss it. But there you go.

Excerpt of the day:
“Th-Then it’s true. . .” whispered Son Fabian, sliding his back down the cold stone until he crouched. “The savior has come.”
The Raimos, chapter 23

*I really need to upgrade from a 4GB to an 8GB.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Art! Art! Art!

So my friends’ sister is an aspiring artist, and she’s getting really good.

So, you can imagine my giddiness when I saw this on her Deviantart page.

Too lazy to click on the link? Here, I’ll force it on you:


That, my friends, is Flad, one of the two protagonists from Circus Soul Heiress.* She “got bored” and just drew it for me. Oh my happy. I hope she gets bored more often.

Meanwhile me and TR got into a fight today, I did minimum word count, and the whole scene sucks egg.

Excerpt of the day:
“Maybe instead of telling me to hide my gifts, you should learn to utilize yours,” he said, firm and direct. “You’re strong, Ranny, but you couldn’t even fight Singe off—one person—because you don’t know how to focus.” He paused, looking over his shoulder, looking for the bounty hunter. Turning back and rubbing his eyes, he said, “I’ve thought about this, and you should, too. Unlike me, you were given your ability to use it. It wasn’t an accident. Maybe if you used your gift more instead of pretending it doesn’t exist, you could. . .I don’t know. Do more.”
The Raimos, chapter 23

*Which, in all honesty, is my favorite of my personal works. So far.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Non-Fantasy Novel?

So a few years ago I took a writing class at BYU for children’s literature—it was when I learned I never wanted to write children’s books. (Namely the 6-9 range. Ugh. This was also during the time when I wanted to be a YA writer.)

Anyway, during this class I did come up with an idea for a middle-grade story that I liked, which is amazing, since I can never come up with non-fantasy stories that I want to write, unless they’re short fiction. I wrote the first sample chapter for the class and put the book into my “Someday Potentials” folder so I could work on other things. (At that time I was still working on Where Lifa Was, I think.)

Anyway, I jotted down some outline notes for this story yesterday, though I bumped it up to a YA so I could have more fun with it. The story is called Fuchsia Stripes* and I think I’d actually be interested in writing it, despite the lack of a magic system/magic world/strange races/etc. Hmm.

The book wouldn’t be without research, though—namely I’d have to learn a lot about wrestling. I did the yearbook page for wrestling my senior year of high school, which is when I discovered how cool the sport really is. (This coming from someone who is not a sports-fan, mind you.) I may have actually tried out for the team had I discovered how neat it was in, say, 9th or 10th grade.

My protagonist would be in 8th. Fourteen-year-old. Like Sailor Moon. (But no talking cats, because this is NOT fantasy.**)

Anyway, I wouldn’t take on this project for a while. Like I’ve mentioned, after TR I’m redoing CSH, then going through my first revisions of TR, THEN I’ll either write Fuchsia Stripes or this other fantasy story idea I have that, for now, is classified.

Excerpt of the day:

“The savior will reunite Chellis,” Father Alrith said, reading the words straight from the page. “He will carry the weight of the world on his shoulders. He will be a young man, kind-hearted, generous, and free of malice. He will arrive unexpectedly and in a time of great need. That’s what this passage tells us.”
“Forgive me, Father Alrith,” Esrov said, “But why are you telling me this?”
“Honestly?” he replied, “To see your reaction.”

The Raimos, chapter 22

*I always spell Fuchsia wrong, mind you. EVERY TIME I WRITE IT I spell it “Fuschia” or “Fucshia.” I think “Fuschia” looks better than “Fuchsia.” Maybe I should contact the Merriam-Webster’s people about that. . . .

**I can see myself slipping and having the mat suddenly turn into a portal to another world or something stupid like that. Ha.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Re: Why Discovery Writing is the Best Writing Method Ever

Also titled, “Charlie PWNs Nathan. Maybe.”

Or, “In Defense of Outliners.”

Perhaps, “Nuh-uh, Outlining is Win, Fool.”

DISCLAIMER: I actually have nothing against discovery writing, I’m just defending outliners. One of my new favorite authors, Dan Wells, is a discovery writer. So there.

This is in response to this post. Comment for or against me below. :D


People don't usually plan what they say . . . . It isn't meticulous or plotted out. It just happens. Which is why discovery writing works better for this than outlining.

I don’t outline dialogue. There may be one of two places in a story outline where I have a great monologue idea and I type out a draft, but that’s it. Usually, if dialogue is necessary, I’ll write something like “Learn about Mary’s relationship with her father” and that’s that. I doubt anyone is anal enough to outline all the conversations in a book! I find this an invalid point.

However, if the author has planned out a scene for months down to every detail, it might show in their character actions. People might do something a little too well thought-out when the sudden plot twist appears, rather than react realistically.

By all means, characters are more natural when outlined because you already know what they’re generally like from the beginning of the story, you’re not trying to figure it out.

Brandon Sanderson once said that, when brainstorming, never keep the first idea that comes to your head, because that’s the obvious choice. The cliché answer. Discovery writing more often than not sticks with the first-idea, because that’s what spills out. There’s no planning. Therefore, discovery writing, on its first draft, at least, will be less original than a story that has been planned out.

Brandon Sanderson, by the way, is an outliner.

Which brings me to my blanket statement: Characters in outliners' books are robots, characters in discovery writers' books are real people. FACT.

False. When a writer takes time to plan his characters, they’re more likely to be different, original, and quirky—therefore more enjoyable to read about. Characters who go without planning have the potential to all sound the same. They’re just place-fillers until the author figures out what to do with them and where to throw them. Outliners start with a glass half-full. Discovery writers don’t even know which cup to use until act two.

You know what is boring? The Council of Elrond chapter in Lord of the Rings. Yes, I'm hating on what might be the greatest fantasy book ever, but every time I re-read that book I skip that chapter. You want to know why it's boring? Because it looks really good on paper or an outline, but in execution it is just a slogging infodump.


Due to overplanning and this need to follow an outline, all the life has been sucked away from a scene. Nothing seems spontaneous and new; it was all just a huge plan.

Disagree. Outlines aren’t as meticulous as you may think. They can be changed, added to, or subtracted from. David Farland even recommends this in his newsletter, David Farland’s Daily Kick in the Pants.

Outlining a scene forces you to consider it from all angles. When you reach it in a story, you already know its shape. You know all its sides and corners. You may discover a new one as you create it, but when you create it, you can show so much more because you took the time to think about it. Discovery writers haven’t taken this time—they’re scenes become two-dimensional and flat.

When you write as a discovery writer, you are bombarded with cool ideas all the time.

Many new writers who discovery write hit road blocks more frequently because they don’t know what to do next. Outliners already know where to take the story.

Anyway, people don't sit around in discovery written books.

Unless the writer doesn’t know what to do with him because he doesn’t know what’s happening in his story.

Lots of outliners sit at a desk with pages strewn everywhere, maps, pictures of various flora and fauna of their magical world, family trees, all that garbage.

Outliners also have less plot holes, less hanging storylines, and less inconsistencies. :D

People sit around a lot in books. I hate that. That's why I usually read YA, because the length constraint makes it so stuff is always going on. In most Epic Fantasy, people sit around all the time. And, hey, guess what? Most long-winded Epic Fantasy guys are planners, and YA authors are discovery writers. [. . .]

Planners have like four years of research to lean on. If they get stuck, they can just pull out chapter 34 and write that instead, because it's already planned ha ha. But you know what? You are just a wimp. Real men write with nothing.

What professional writer takes four years to research his story? Tolkien and Rothfuss aside. . .but they don’t publish yearly like others do.

Also, it sounds “wimpier” to publish short, YA fantasies than to take on the task of writing an actual epic. We go for 200,000 words. You settle for 75k.

Let's be honest here: everybody plans their first book. Nobody just sits down and starts writing. They write because they've had the BEST IDEA EVER (tm) for the past six years, and they are FINALLY WRITING THEIR MASTERPIECE (tm). They get pumped, tell all their relatives about their new career, and decide they are real authors now.

Then they write one chapter and never write any more. They just keep planning.

That is such an overgeneralization it’s ridiculous. A lot of new writers, discovery or no, don’t finish books. It’s because they’re amateurs. They’re new. All my first books I started I never finished. (I also discovery wrote them.)

I didn’t start finishing books until I could outline the whole thing on paper and knew I had a story.

POINT 6: Discovery Written Books are Shorter and Less Boring

Didn’t you already make this point? In point 3?

Anyway, that's the point: outliners can't just sit down and write whenever they want. They can't just pop out something super-fast.

On the contrary. I finished 1,000 words in about twenty minutes today. And I had an outline. :P I sit down and write daily without having to wonder what I’m supposed to do in the next scene . . . or the present one.

If they are given a writing prompt, they can't just "have an hour to write," they need more. They have to go over details, plans, characters, city names, distances, geography, language, religion, all this crap.

False. That’s already been done before we start, so we’re good to go.

As for your points as to why discovery writing sometimes doesn’t work—well, I’ll let them speak for themselves.

Excerpt of the day:

“You don’t hear them, do you?” he asked.
Singe listened, but only the sounds of crickets entered his ears. “What am I supposed to be hearing?”
Esrov shook his head, drawing his knees to his chest. “They cry, all the time, night and day.”
Singe raised an eyebrow. “Who?”
“I don’t know,” the ghost answered. “Spirits. I can only see them when I’m like this, but. . .they don’t see me.”

The Raimos, chapter 22

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Personality Tests, Part 2

Took the personality tests for Todorov and Ranny. Because I’m cool like that. They were both easy to answer for—this is a good sign.



>You are somewhat conventional.
>You probably have a messy desk!
>You are extremely outgoing, social, and energetic.
>You find it easy to criticize others.
>You probably remain calm, even in tense situations.

Accurate, though now that I think about it, I didn’t answer a few of his questions right. Todorov is the least likely to remain calm in a tense situation, assuming his need to protect is triggered.



>You typically don’t see out new experiences.
>You are well-organized and can be relied upon.
>You are extremely outgoing, social, and energetic.
>You are good-natured, courteous, and supportive.
>You probably remain calm, even in tense situations.

Okay, maybe answering for these two wasn’t as easy as I thought. This is accurate, minus the first one. In normal life Ranny’s experiences are pretty routine, but she’s done some crazy stuff in the past. Hmm . . .

Yeah, these posts are more for me than anyone else. But hey, it’s my blog. :D

Excerpt of the day:
“He told me he could fix it when he arrived,” he explained, narrating with his hands. “And the next morning it rings for the first time in centuries. There isn’t a lick of damage on its face, Father. I looked. And the bandits—”
“Rannine assured me he had no blessings,” Father Alrith said.
is a blessing!” Amadeus said. He reached out and clasped Father Alrith’s hands in his own. “Whatever his power, he healed Aster. I feel it in my heart, Father. I make no testimony of his divinity, but surely it is something to consider.”
The Raimos, chapter 21

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I Write Like . . .

This is stolen from Nathan . I steal a lot from him.

The Oracle Seals:


Circus Soul Heiress:


The Raimos:

And, the style of this blog is written like:


Huh. So my first novel is written in the same style as this blog. I don’t think that’s a good thing.

Excerpt of the day:

Esrov’s heart sunk in his chest. If I do nothing, is this my fault, too?
The Raimos, chapter 20

*I find this one really interesting, since he wrote detective novels.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Personality Tests, Part 1

Thanks for the comments on my last post! They were helpful. I especially want to remember this one: Badass=Competent.

Also thanks to reader comments, I decided to take a personality test on behalf of Singe, the character in question from my previous post. (Spoiler? Maybe. Meh.)

I took the Big Five personality test online. And, for kicks and giggles, I took it for Esrov, too.

Singe was harder to answer for—there were some questions I had to stop and think about. The results surprised me in a few areas.


>You are somewhat conventional.
>You are very well-organized and can be relied upon.
>You are relatively social and enjoy the company of others.
>You find it easy to criticize others.
>You probably remain calm, even in tense situations.

I will agree that Singe is an extrovert, though he works alone most of the time. I wouldn’t have thought him as conventional, which is something to think about.

Now, for comparison, Esrov (aka the protagonist.)


>You are relatively open to new experiences.
>You are very well-organized and can be relied upon.
>You probably enjoy spending quiet time alone.
>You are good-natured, courteous, and supportive.
>You are a generally anxious person and tend to worry about things.

Esrov’s is dead on—probably because I know his character better than anyone else’s. Next time I’ll do Ranny and Todorov, out of curiosity. Todorov’s will be interesting, methinks.

Except of the day:

Singe smiled. “You have them well-trained.”
“They’re friends,” Esrov said, looking the taller man in the eyes. “Friends listen to each other. They help each other.”
Singe scoffed, teeth rattling as he ran his barbell over them.
“Friends give to one another,” Esrov added, his heart beating loudly in his ears. “Consider that, Singe Selander. I don’t want to be your enemy.”
The bounty hunter’s countenance didn’t change, but Esrov could tell he was thinking. The man wasn’t stupid—he’d weigh all his options, even the ones that weren’t voiced.
“I have work to do,” Esrov said. “I’ll see you around.”

The Raimos, chapter 20

Friday, July 16, 2010

How to Round a Character

Or, rather, how does one show a softer side of a character meant to be bad-A without making him lose his bad-A-ness?

Answer: I’ll tell you when I figure it out. :O *

I think I can do this, but I’ll have to wait and see. I tend to give myself a lot of new, difficult challenges when writing new stories. Do I do this on purpose? I don’t think so. Is it bad? Surely not, unless I continually fail over and over again. But easy stories are boring and get passed up by reader and editor alike. Who wants to write a boring story?

But is it better to write a decent story airing on the side of boring, or a challenging story airing on the side of this-doesn’t-quite-work?

Alternative title for this post: Rhetorical Questions Galore.

Comments appreciated. :D

Excerpt of the day:

Dark colored blurred past him as he warped, and he found himself in a tiny cluster of trees at the corner of the mosaic wall, near the end of Miatowene’s dress.
“You are one freaky son of a moll, you know that?” Singe said, only ten feet away. He leaned against the mosaic, sword still hanging on his side, the shadow of his hook-topped staff looming behind him.

The Raimos, chapter 20

*Step 1: Must reread character sheet over and over and solidify character more firmly in brain.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


I recently finished alpha-reading a YA novel written by my friend Nathan, whose blog is linked in my sidebar to the right. So far, I’ve alpha-read four novels for three friends: one YA fantasy, one dark fantasy, and two sci-fis. Alpha-reading is always interesting, since it makes me reflect a lot on my own writing. It’s interesting to see the different characters, plots, and styles other wannabe authors incorporate into their works.

What is my writing style? I have no idea. Maybe one of my own alpha-readers can tell me.


TR is coming a little slow this week, partially because my schedule has gotten busier.* Still making my word count, but I’m not excelling it by much. I partially blame this on the fact that I’m on an awkward chapter. (That same one I mentioned restarting in a previous post. It’s better, but not great. I think only beatings by future alpha-readers will be able to sort it out. But the rough draft must carry on!)

Still don’t know how many chapters this sucker will be. We’ll see.

Excerpt of the day:

Ranny’s shoulders slumped. “Do you have any sort of moral code I can play to?” she asked. “Don’t you believe in anything?”
Singe smiled. “I told you what I believe in.”
“Power,” she said.
He nodded.
“No wonder you’re a sell-out mercenary,” she said quietly.
“He’s proof, you know,” said Todorov.
Both Ranny and Singe looked to him.
“That’s it more than power,” Todorov clarified. “God is more than an
idea, as you put it. Esrov is living proof.”
Singe chuckled, which made Todorov’s veins burn beneath his skin. “Yeah, I’ve heard of the Raymos-Rightmos whatever you call it. Thought it was a wives’ tale.”
“The proof is right in front of you!” Todorov spat. “It’s the whole reason you’re here!”
Singe rolled his eyes. “Just because something has powers don’t mean it’s a god, kid.”

*You know, because I’M GETTING MARRIED IN 24 DAYS!!!! WEEE!!!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Starting Over

I had a discussion with myself while I was driving home today about why chapter 19 wasn’t feeling good, despite my having barely started it and having a lot of good ideas for characterization. Then I figured it out—characterization. My POV character wouldn’t do what he was doing, not like that, not so easily. Singe is a bad-A-loner-bounty-hunter. Why the heck would he walk into a church, to begin with?

Anyway, I thought it through and decided to start over. Only scrapped about 1,000 words and a page of chapter outline, so it’s not so much of a loss. Decided on a different POV character and a new way to unravel the information that needs to surface. I feel pretty good about it. We’ll see where it goes.

Meanwhile, there’s some parallelism between a character in this story and Flad from CSH, so I’ve noticed. XD

Excerpt of the day:

He replayed his last moments with Esrov over and over in his mind. He could still feel the heat of the fire, the bruises the bandit had given him, the way his arm nearly shattered when he’d struck the black-haired Tagalian. Even without his strength, the blow should have had some effect, but it didn’t. It bothered him, not having answers.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Chapter 19

I think I'm going to fail this one. :O


Excerpt of the day:

Singe grinned and approached the church. I’m not letting you go, Kid. Not until you pay up.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

TR Battle Scenes

See also: Fight and Battle Scenes post from December. (Which I now realize should be Fighting and Battle Scenes . . .)

TR doesn’t have as many fights as CSH did, but it has some. I think technically I completed the biggest one yet over the weekend, though it doesn’t feel like it. There are a few reasons for this.

a.) I wrote it crappy [very likely]
b.) It’s told from the POV of someone who doesn’t really fight
c.) It’s less of a battle scene and more of a carnage-happenin’ shindig thinger.

Anyway, my four main characters have officially merged together—I didn’t even realize that was happening until I finished chapter 18, despite the fact that it says so blatantly (in orange, mind you) in my outline. Surprise for the author! This story just got more interesting. (And by interesting, I mean difficult.)

I think even Siper from TOS could fight more than Esrov, and she grew up in a monastery. Ha.

Excerpt of the day:

Jinx’s face had turned sour. He stepped forward, snatching the collar of Esrov’s shirt in his hand, pulling their faces together. “What good? This is balance. This is poor men taking back what is rightfully theirs, fighting against a world that brutally beat them again and again. Surely you can see that. After all, you’re the one who made it possible.”
“No, no . . .” he trailed, shaking his head. Jinx released him and Esrov fell to his knees, hands clutching his gray hair. He could still hear faint screams over the fire’s consumption. He could still see bodies in the street from where innocent men had fallen.
My fault. It’s all my fault.
Tears poured from the corners of his eyes, mixing with sweat and pattering to the hot cobblestone. “What have I done?” he whispered.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Writerly Update

I need to buy a stamp so I can mail this thing to Leading Edge. (Nothing fancy, don’t get excited.)

Noticed it’s taken a lot more words to say less lately. Good or bad? I’ll find out on revision #1.

What am I writing about this week? BANDITS.

Excited to start CSH revisions in the fall.

Excerpt of the day:

Most of the frames were just out of Esrov’s reach, so he had to retrieve a small ladder from the storage room to do the chore. It took longer than expected; by the time he’d finished, his shoulders ached and the sun had drifted further down in the sky. He paused before returning his supplies, studying a narrow picture of Nowaditt. This painter had depicted him with pale skin, pale eyes, and white hair. His clothes—a robe not too different from the priests’—was a deep maroon, almost black. Of all the pictures of the god of death, this one had the kindest feel to it.
Esrov watched the eyes: light blue orbs that stared skyward.
The Raimos had no eyes. No face, no features. When did men start believing that gods looked like us?
The Raimos, chapter 18