Thursday, July 26, 2012

Great News and Great Progress

Did I mention that my husband is the best?  I think I tweeted something like that.  If you'll recall, I didn't think I was going to get to attend any of the writing workshops at DragonCon because of the fact that I wouldn't have the money.  Well, as things turned out, as I voiced my concerns to my husband one evening when we were looking at the events at DragonCon, and he offered to pay for it.  He told me that he thought the writing workshop would be an opportunity that I shouldn't pass up, so if there were any spots left he would pay for me to go.  I was lucky.  Out of the twenty spots available there were a few left, so I'm going to go to a two day writing workshop being taught by Jody Lynn Nye, Todd McCaffrey, David Gerrold and Toni Weisskopf.  I'm so excited I could burst.  And, that's not all.  Jody Lynn Nye is going to critique the first 7,000 words of Blood Rain. 

I'm working very hard to try to network now.  I think I have a book that people will enjoy that is better than the others that I've written.  I can definitely tell that my style and grammar have improved as well.  I've decided that I'm going to also try to join my local NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) group and try to contact some local authors.  I definitely could use the support.  Sometimes, I feel like I'm on a little island by myself waving to passing ships that are too busy to look at me.  It seems, I need to make a little extra effort to swim out to them, so that's what I'm going to do.

Today, I also finished my notes for "Blood Moon," the second in the fantasy series that I'm working on right now.  I probably will start writing on it next Monday.  I have a feeling that this book will be better than the first.  When I'm done with this series, I think I might try my hand at some Urban Fantasy.  Many of the books I've read recently are Urban Fantasy, and it might be nice to give something like that a try.  Still, I'm trying to take things one day at a time, so I'll probably be working on "Blood Moon" for the next month or two and then finish off the trilogy with "Cold Blood" after a short break.  Wish me luck.  Keep reading and writing.


Friday, July 20, 2012


As promised, I'm reviewing Mistborn today.  This book is still pretty fresh in my mind.  For those of you who have never read my reviews, I try not to put spoilers in, so no worries.  I start with about the same sort of synopsis you would find on the back of the book (with a little more pertinent information) and go from there.  I will have to detail the magic system in this review though, since it's one of the things that sets this series apart.

This book is about a young girl named Vin who started life as a criminal on the streets of the city of Luthadel.  Vin never got a chance to improve her situation because she was one of the skaa, a race of people that once defied the "Lord Ruler."  The Lord Ruler is the ruler of the realm who is worshiped as a god.  Meanwhile, a thief named Kelsier is on his own mission to overthrow the Lord Ruler and to incite rebellion from the skaa that have been oppressed for so long. 

When their paths cross, Vin becomes involved with the rebellion and learns that she, like Kelsier, is a "Mistborn."  By swallowing metals she harnesses the power within them.  This is called "allomancy."  There are ten basic metals they can use, but they must be of a pure alloy.  Iron pulls on metals, Steel pushes on them, Tin enhances senses, Pewter enhances physical abilities, Brass soothes emotions, Zinc riots emotions, Copper hides allomancy, Bronze reveals allomancy, and Gold lets a person see what would have happened in the past if things had remained unchanged, while Atium (a rare, valuable metal) allows one to see a few seconds into the future.  There supposedly is also an eleventh metal with mysterious properties.  Still, Vin has to keep her abilities secret.  Nobles can be Mistborn and are considered valuable if they are, but skaa are hunted down and killed for that ability.  It means they have noble blood in their heritage, which is against the law.

Vin impersonates a noble to incite a riot among the noble houses, and becomes caught between the worlds of the skaa and the nobility.  She learns the dark secrets of the nobility, and secrets hidden about Lord Ruler himself, and eventually overcomes her distrust and learns what it's like to feel loyalty and love.

Character development was excellent.  This is one of the best examples of good character development that I've seen.  Each of the main characters undergoes a very drastic change throughout the course of the book.  Vin is entirely different by the end of the book than she was at the beginning, and the change is definitely for the better.  Each of the main characters are likeable in their own way and you do become attached to them.

There is an interesting use of religious symbolism in the book, which actually is mostly non-offensive.  It's not preachy about the points being made, but the symbolism is there.  I won't give away much about the plot, but you'll know what I'm talking about when you get to it.  Still, it wasn't a predictable element and I also liked the way it was executed.

The setting was interesting and felt very fleshed out.  (The book also included map at the beginning, which I liked.)  The creatures relevant to the plot, such as the mist wraiths, were very original and well described.  I really liked the concept behind mist wraiths because the creatures were scary but somehow seemed natural.  The setting is captivating because it feels as though each city and place has a history.  The different factions of the government, the nobles, obligaters, and inquisitors, are all very distinct and hold intriguing secrets.  City districts are described and very distinct from one another, as are the keeps of the nobles.  The description of the Lord Ruler's castle is very intriguing as well.  One thing that you'll notice as you read is that Sanderson is very descriptive and you can literally picture the places and things he describes perfectly.  

The magic system was original and very interesting.  I mentioned the way it works in the plot synopsis above, but it's a little more complex than that.  Most characters can only burn one of the various types of metals, only the most powerfully gifted can burn more than one.  The metals are related to one another (which you probably noticed from the description).  Some work externally by affecting the world around them, while some work internally by improving one's own abilities.  The characters can practically fly when they burn Steel and Iron, pushing and pulling themselves along windowsills, fire escapes, etc.  Also, when they burn Pewter, they can push their bodies well past their limits and run at super human speeds.  Still, tricking the opponent and using the abilities in creative ways is often what saves Vin throughout the book.  It's great that the magic system is simplistic enough to follow but there are other tricks to using it that allow a the characters to hold their own against obviously more powerful foes.

The only real drawback to this book is it was a very long novel at over six hundred pages.  Be sure to read it when you have the time because you won't want to put it down.  (It's killing me too, because I want to read the other two books of the series, but I don't have the money to buy them currently and I also don't have time to read them before the convention.  I was hoping to read them all in case I get to meet Brandon Sanderson, but I can still gush over this one.)  Anyway, this was an excellent read.  Pick it up if you like fantasy, intriguing political rebellions, or good, realistic characters.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Back from the Beach

Wow, that was a good trip.  It was a great Independence Day and I got to spend a good deal of time with my family.  Oddly, I even managed to finish "Blood Rain."  I also finished a great deal of notes for the second book in the series, "Blood Moon."  Even though I finished a great deal of work, it didn't feel like working.  I was also having a lot of fun and I got some much needed rest.

To sum the trip up, we stayed at my Aunt's beach house.  I took several boat rides down the inlet, though I didn't have time for any fishing--maybe next year.  I also got to spend a day at the beach body boarding on the waves and lying in the shallow water soaking up the sun.  We also saw the new "Spiderman" movie, which was very good, and saw a laser light show.  I also went bowling, and was as terrible at it as ever, but still had fun.  I have an issue where my wrist twists around when I try to let go of the ball.  I need to get over that.  (We did have some car trouble that required us to spend some money, and my stepdad got into a car accident, but thankfully he was okay.)

We watched a massive fireworks display on the fourth, attended a neighborhood party next door, and this time we got to see the boat parade.  We also went out to eat seafood one evening and hibachi another.  During the time we spent at the house, I mostly took naps in the sun, wrote my book, played video games, and watched movies.  The trip was just what I needed.

I'm looking very forward to DragonCon.  I just finished Brandon Sanderson's "Mistborn" and it was an excellent book.  I knew it was probably going to be good.  I've been doing lots of research and reading books so that I can utilize the chance to meet so many great authors all at once.  So far I've liked every book that I've read.

Still, this book really impressed me and I'm planning to write a review of it next week.  Please, read this book if you like fantasy.  The magic system is new and original, and the universe was very well developed and interesting.  After reading this, it makes me want to read some more of Robert Jordan since I never finished the whole series and Sanderson is writing the final book.

Yeah, I'm probably going to act like a fangirl a little when I meet Brandon Sanderson.  I just hope that I don't clam up and get too shy to give him a business card and talk to him about his writing.  I hope I'll even get to talk to him about his writing at all, but there's a chance he won't have the time to talk to me.  There are writing workshops offered at DragonCon being taught by good authors, but, sadly, I don't have the money to attend any of them.  I'm paying for the trip, and even that is financially straining.  I can only hope that maybe I'll run into him after the book signing is over.  Please, be praying for me.

Having very little money is one of the prices that I pay for staying home and trying to break into the writing industry.  Hopefully, one day, I'll be able to contribute to my home income, but in the meantime, I make up for it by keeping things clean, orderly, and making my house feel like a home.  I owe a great deal to my husband for letting me stay home to follow my dream.

He told me recently that he believes when I finally do attract an agent and my work gets published, that people will like my stories enough for them to become best sellers.  He also said that I tell good stories and have a good writing style.  That really meant something from him, because he's also my biggest critic and is very discerning about the books that he likes.  He tells me bluntly how he feels about my work, and that helps me to improve.

Well, I've made this a long blog post, but I had to make up for missing a week, didn't I?  Hopefully, I'll get to write that review next week.  Keep reading, writing, and (as I learned last week) always leave some time to take a break and relax.  It can be quite inspiring.