June 22, 2010

So, readers, do you like free books?

’cause I sure as heck do. Turns out that not only can you download the Kindle app for your PC or iPhone/iPod Touch, thereby completely bypassing the need to spend $200 on a Kindle, you can also get bunches of books for the Kindle app free. These range from new books, often the first of their series, who are offered free for a limited time as a promotional deal, to bunches and bunches of public-domain classics which are free always.

Check it out. My current favorites from the promotional stack are His Majesty’s Dragon and Cry Sanctuary (be warned, Cry Sanctuary contains explicit sex).

Free books! That is all that you really needed to read. Go forth, readers, and take advantage!


Myself on Writing

May 28, 2010

I don’t think I’ve even mentioned it here that I myself write, outside of reviewing other people’s work, but I don’t think it’s uncommon for book bloggers. I’ve never been published outside of school newspapers and such, and I’ve never finished anything longer than a lengthy short story, so it’s understandable that no one has ever asked me about my creative process the way writers get all the time.

I guess I’ve always secretly wanted someone to, though, because when I got an email from someone in one of my Yahoo! Groups asking everyone to outline their creative process for a psychology project she’s working on, I was a little bit thrilled. I’m just going to indulge myself and post it here. Apologies if this whole deal is terribly vain of me.

What role does the creative process play in your writing?
That’s pretty much what my writing is, isn’t it? I write fiction, so I spend much more time crafting the characters, setting, and story than I do doing research. Most of what isn’t creative process is editing, really.
Do you think the creative process or the final product is more important?
Hard to say- I’ve never had a huge finished product. When it comes to short stories, though, I definitely enjoy writing them more than editing or being done with them. I’ve put getting published out of my head for the time being, because I feel that the writing is more important than chasing some unlikely goal which may or may not make me happier.
How has your creative process evolved, grown, or developed as you practice writing over the years?
My writing now is different from than when I started four/five years ago in that:
*my stories now contain elements like character development, descriptive language, and plot direction
*I’ve always essentially written about civil rights in a fantasy or sci-fi context, but now I’m actually involved in the LGBTQ rights movement and have learned a lot more about the history of this stuff as I’ve grown, which I feel makes me better able to portray bigotry and ignorance in a way that will resonate with people.
*My sentences are longer (haha), something which I try to limit. My vocabulary is also much better.
How do things usually play out in your mind while you’re trying to write a story?
I’ll come up with a picture of a character of some sort, maybe a whole scene, and it’ll either fascinate me or not. If it gets its hooks in, I’ll start asking myself- who is this person? Who are these other people in this situation with (usually) her? How did they get to this place and what’s really going on? I’ll develop a setting, a list of rules on which the world operates, a political and religious climate. I’ll dream up backstories and back-backstories and history of that world that involves obscure characters I’ll never even mention. I’ll come up with how their wildlife is different, what their culture is like, what stories they tell their children at night. I go into ridiculous detail with it all. And while I’m coming up with all of this stuff, parallel to it, I start with that first scene and go back to the beginning, what it was that started the chain of events. And I’ll move forward, too. I’ll build those world details in as I go and come up with a story, sometimes just a direction based on character relationships to each other, sometimes a whole plot outline. Often by the time I finish all this planning the original scene won’t even be part of the story anymore, but I’ll still have those characters and they’ll be like real people in my head. I read somewhere that many writers show signs of schizophrenia, and I’d be willing to believe it. I certainly have voices all the time.
Do you usually think of a place, plot, idea/ premise, or characters first when creating a story?
The characters first, almost always. Sometimes I’ll come up with characters and put them in a setting that I’ve used before, and which existed before them, but I never start with that setting– I just expand it to accommodate new stories.
Do you feel that writing is more so about creating, discovering, or revealing truths?
I love being able to create an alternate world that doesn’t have the same depressing limitations as ours, but it’s a bit of a paradox because I also feel that everything I unfold in my stories is true. Maybe not literally true- there’s never been a girl named Ella, for example, who was a werewolf and fell prey to the stigma associated to that. However, there have been countless people throughout history who have experienced hatred because what instead of who they were, and many of them triumphed over it, and many of them didn’t. It doesn’t matter that I haven’t quite decided which she’ll be because either path is true. That’s sort of how everything about my writing works, really– what it is, in time and space and material presence, is fantastical. But who these people are and their inner lives and their triumphs and their troubles, that’s based on reality and largely my own life.
Why do you write?
Escapism, because it makes me happy, because I have hopes that I hardly admit to myself of being a respected author someday.
Is the creative process the most rewarding part of writing for you?

Don’t Mess With Textbooks!

May 23, 2010


As a former Texan, I just have to say that I am disgusted. These people are indeed rewriting history. I fully intend to find a copy of this thing somewhere online and read it so that I can be sure I know what I’m talking about, but really. Really? Requiring that students be taught about the NRA isn’t “correcting a liberal slant,” it is most definitely adding a conservative one. Cutting out Thomas Jefferson from many mentions of influential philosophical figures? Downplaying religious freedom? The Founding Fathers may have primarily been talking about the right to be Catholic or Protestant, but that was centuries ago and even our precious Founding Fathers were capable of being wrong. Religious freedom is something that I’ve grown up learning as one of the primary tenets of the US as a nation, and not something that a few conservatives down South should be able to influence. Readers, you can be sure that you’ll be hearing more out of me as soon as I’ve found a link to the full alterations.


May 21, 2010

I had intended to post three new reviews today, but it seems that’s not to be. I just got back from the eye doctor, who tells me that what my regular doctor said was a stye is actually blephoritis, and it’s been getting worse because the stye medicine, besides not helping, has been irritating my eye (not the first time she has given me medicine that turns out to be worse than the original problem). This would explain why a minor, common problem for adults has evolved into something that frightens small children. Kind of like a zombie that has only just begun to rot on one part of her face.

I normally wouldn’t let a little thing like that keep me from my internets, but in addition to proscribing some sort of steroid drops, the eye doctor dilated my eyes, so the light from my computer screen hurts and I have trouble focusing on anything closer than arms’ length. Thus, please check back over the weekend. I’ll be writing those reviews as soon as I can see properly.

Holy what? Holy wow.

May 12, 2010

This is Greyson Michael Chance, a sixth-grader who has gained national attention by (in that teacher’s opinion and mine) beating Lady Gaga at her own game, though of course he lacks her sense of style. Regardless, he has been invited to perform on the Ellen DeGeneres Show tomorrow. Just watch this kid become the next great thing- he says his inspirations are Lady Gaga (even though she is a “freak”) and Augustana– an interesting mix. His Youtube channel includes two original compositions. Definitely not Justin Bieber.


March 23, 2010

I just got the pressure sensitivity on my tablet working with the GIMP! To celebrate, I have made a comic for your enjoyment.

Hurf.I am a comic genius.

Alice in Wonderland

March 7, 2010

Holy wow, guys.

It was glorious, absolutely glorious. I am, of course, a sucker for re-imaginings of Dodgson’s masterpiece (and women that put on armor and run around with swords) but still, glorious. If you haven’t seen it yet, you must intend to. If you don’t intend to, then I have only this to say:

Does that not look amazing? It is amazing, and it proves quite definitely that Avatar was no fluke. 3D is here to stay, my friends. It is here to stay and I am so glad to have it that I’m planning on going back to Alice once or twice more.

A note: as you can probably tell from the trailer, it’s nothing like the original book. This movie takes place thirteen years after Alice visited Wonderland (or, more accurately, Underland) as a child. She’s nineteen now and has since forgotten all about the place, dismissing it as a dream… but Underland hasn’t forgotten about her.

(EDIT: This isn’t finished yet, but it looks like it’s going to be a great music video, mixed by a dedicated amateur from clips from the movie and the song “Her Name is Alice” by Shinedown. Great song, great film, great maker- I would keep an eye on this.)