Friday, November 24, 2017

A Tale of Violence, Villain Backstories, and CAPS LOCK /// Humble Beginnings, Part 5

You were probably all wondering when another Humble Beginnings post would show up. I decided to do a Beautiful Books post instead last Friday, so today you finally get another dose of humor, cringe, and sarcasm. What more could you ask for?

Oh yeah, and I hope you guys brought your barf bags with ya, because we've got some disgusting violence coming up. (And you'll probably just wanna keep it with you, because it only occurs more often from here on out.)


Just in case you guys forgot, we last ended off with Mark, David, and Warren having to read a book about why this big ol' war is happening. We pick up here with the beginning of the story.

Once, a long time ago, good filled the land of Erador.

Wow. How cliché can we get here? I should've just added something about a dark and stormy night, a hole in the ground, and a galaxy far, far away while I was at it! At least then this might've been a more interesting opening sentence. (I don't remember if I've said this before, but Erador sounds too much like a blend between Erabor and Endor.)

Detrius spoke through [King] Eli and banished the proud [High General] Lurkum and his army to Darava, a continent consumed in lava and molten rock. It and the continent Zracs were the only continents no one lived on.

Lava . . . and . . . molten rock. Lava and molten rock. Lava. And. Molten. Rock.

THAT'S PRETTY MUCH THE EXACT SAME THING! What in the world was I thinking? I obviously didn't use the dictionary in this case. And for those of you who skipped history class, don't worry! The author of this story has decidedly to slip in a really important fact about two of the continents. (Again, I forget if I have said this in the past, but Detrius brings to mind the word "detriment," which probably shouldn't happen.)

 Later, one day, a band of raiders came and destroyed villages on continents, making room for the evil warriors to invade and take over them. When the raiders reached Ghrumet, the desert continent and the last one more Adiryulle, they ran full force into opposition. Part of Eli's army attacked them continuely, the prince leading the charge. But during one raid, the prince was captured. King Eli sent Generals Lucas and Bart, along with an elite group of knights, to rid the land of the raiders. The two decided to ambush them in a canyon in Ghrumet.

Okay, before we move on, I feel we really need to cover all the stuff wrong with this paragraph. First off, this feels disjointed from the first part of the story. Maybe it connects later, but right now it feels like I was jamming two puzzle pieces together that don't even match.

Secondly, for those who slept during the geography lessons in school.

Third, why the BLAZING BLUE BLAZES are the good guys waiting until the bad guys are one continent away before they make their move? It's like they're saying, "Oh, gosh golly gee, those ne'er-do-wells are right next door. We probably could've taken care of this problem, but we'll wait until the last minute just to raise the stakes."

Fourth point: "continually" is spelled wrong.

Fifth, if this is so important, why is the unnamed prince leading the charge and not the named King Eli? Hmm? Explain that to me, younger self.

Sixth and final complaint: Eli wants his generals to decimate the raiders, but there's no mention of saving his son. I guess his own child doesn't really matter too much in the grand scheme of things, huh?

Lucas stood near the entrance of a cave hidden by boulders.

Wait, we just switched from omniscient to third-person? Whoever authored this story within a story (story-caption!) has some deep insights, apparently.

The group rode their reptror down the slope leading into the canyon. Suddenly, arrows flew from the bows of unseen archers atop the canyon walls. Most hit their targets. Raiders and reptrors alike fell dead.

Hey, why the switch in the plural version of "reptror"? Back in part 3, I called them reptrors, but for some reason, adding the s sounds weird.

After several of their own were cut down, the raiders shook themselves free from their shock and met the charge.

So have these guys never been attacked before, and when they do, they go into "I'll just stop here like an idiot and let myself get killed" mode? How did they even get this far in their conquest?!

Archers fell from the walls and were sometimes shot by a raider's crossbow before they hit the ground. Soon, though, it was the raiders who fell from the great height. Bart was so close to one when it made contact with the canyon floor that he heard the crack of its spine snapping.

Pleasant little detail, that.

Bart turned around and saw a reptror pulling a prison carriage. Inside was . . .  the prince! Then he herd an evil voice whisper to him. It gave him an idea that would lead to the prince's demise. And for some reason, Bart wasn't appalled by the nasty idea.

No! *jumps up from where I'm sitting* No, no, ABSOLUTELY NO! There is no way that someone turns evil within in the space of ONE BRICKING PARAGRAPH. If that were the case, wouldn't this whole world be evil by now? And why the heck are the raiders parading the prince through the battlefield? That seems like a really stupid thing to do.

Bart grabbed the whip as it bit into his hand and ripped it in half.

Forgive me if I'm mistaken, but I feel as though ripping apart a whip isn't an everyday feat. Either Bart has got some real strength, or this whip is pathetically weak. And just so you guys know, I've skimmed over some battle sequences where a raider had its arm lopped off and a sword up its gut and the whip-wielding carriage driver had a dagger plunged into its wrist and said sword through its heart. This is just getting better and better.

The prince, whose name was Joshua, stumbled out.

Well, thank you for finally sharing this character's name, when it could've been done the first time he was mentioned.

"Head over to General Lucas. He's in that general direction," Bart gestured.

Um, how long has Joshua been captured? He could very well be dehydrated and underfed. I know he was at the front of the army earlier, but shouldn't Bart be escorting him right now? Speaking of Bart, he should be aware that "gestured" is not a word used like "said." I think he skipped out on English school.

Bart watched Joshua go when he felt a funny sensation on his hand. He looked and saw that the whip injury was gone. The sabre wound was also gone. 
"This is one of my many powers," the evil voice said. Bart recognized it as Lurkum. "Serve me, and get the power and riches you deserve."
Bart immediately decided to serve Lurkum. With that, he realized no matter how much Eli rewarded him, Lurkum could always give him more. Now, he didn't care about Adiryulle anymore. He would be more concerned about Darava, his new home, where the real power lay. 
A sinister grin seeped across Bart's face.

 *covers my face with my hands* Ugh . . . words escape me, just like any trace of good escaped Bart just now. This is not a good villain backstory! It sucks so bad!

The raider gasped as a spear head was thrust deep into the bottom of its chin. When the spear was removed, the raider collapsed. Lucas dropped the weapon, thinking, "Killed by its own spear. Ironic."

Aaand we're back to the violence, people! Just in case you were getting bored.

The chieftain swung its double-sided battle-axe. Lucas avoided the stroke and knocked the hilt of his sword into its temple. As the raider stood dazed, Lucas reached over and broke its wrist. The creature snarled and punched him hard, causing him to fall. The chieftain placed the battle-axe in its other hand and made a wide swipe at Lucas. He rolled between its legs, quickly got up, and kicked the chief's back. It fell, letting go of its axe. He ran to it and began to strangle it with his meaty hands. The raider struggled, but it was in vain. The general held it tight, until it was limp. To make sure it was dead, Lucas twisted its neck, hearing it snap. Then he pinned the chieftain down with its battle-axe.

This was legitimately one paragraph when it could've been two. Not to mention that Lucas went to extreme measures to make sure it was dead. He would've only needed to use of the three methods, not all of them. (Are you starting to believe me when I said I was a weird kid back then?)

Because it seemed like it was redundant, I decided to exclude Lucas's conversion to the dark side. Allow me to sum up. Essentially, Lurkum tells Lucas that he serves Detrius and Eli on the outside, but not the inside. He goes on to say that Eli doesn't really appreciate, and Detrius doesn't care about, Lucas. But he claims he will do both, so Lucas pledges his heart on the spot. Now, as a test of loyalty, Lurkum wants Lucas to kill the next person he sees. What a riveting scene and genuine backstory. I feel like I better understand that Lucas is a WEAK-KNEED JERKFACE.

Deep breaths, Josiah . . . deep breaths. Spoiler alert: we're coming up to what could be considered the most graphic part of this story!

Joshua neared him and called, "General Lucas! How may I help?"
"You can stand right over there, for starters," directed Lucas.
Joshua frowned. "Okay. Why?" 
"Funny thing is, I just asked the very same question. And the answer is: You're a worthless traitor!" Lucas coolly exposed the hidden crossbow and shot.

So says the worthless traitor.

The arrow struck a vein in the lower part of his sword arm. Joshua looked at the blood oozing out of the wound. He heard the click of the crossbow firing and felt the arrow digging into his right eye. He cried out and attempted to stagger away.

Are you telling me that no one, absolutely no one, is seeing or hearing this right now? Lucas and Joshua suddenly have the canyon all to themselves? And crossbows fire quarrels, not arrows. The devil is in the details.

He was suddenly shoved brusquely onto his back. "Going somewhere?" Bart asked rhetorically.

Well, thanks for specifying it was a rhetorical question! Y'know, I feel like I was using words like "brusquely" and "rhetorically" more of as a way to show off my vocabulary than anything else.

Lucas fired once more, arrow puncturing one of Joshua's lungs. Joshua gasped for air.
Lucas leaned close and said, "In case you're wondering, I'm doing this because I follow Lurkum."
The prince shook his head. "Then  . . . you follow . . . the grave. Don't you know . . . the name Lurkum . . . means, 'the shadowed consumer'?"

Not gonna lie, that isn't a half-bad meaning for Lurkum's name. And I forgot the word "the" before "arrow."

"So what?" Lucas retorted. He reached into his pouch and took out a bottle of a yellowish-gray liquid. "This," he stated, "is a poison called zyel. Perhaps you've heard of it?"
Joshua squirmed, but Bart held him down. "I see you have," Lucas said. "This poison eats all the bones inside of you. A lovely way to die." He opened the bottle and put a drop in Joshua's eye.

If you're really squeamish, you may want to skip this next portion.

At first, all the poison did was make everything hazy. He tried to refocus, but found he could not. Then came a hurricane of pain. Unbearable pain with the nightmarish effects of the poison. A banshee scream escape Joshua's lips. 
The poison swept through his body. As it passed bones, they began to dissolve. Joshua looked like a balloon starting to deflate. His mouth stayed open in a silent scream as his jaw disappeared. Other bones went, leaving him a mushy, shapeless human. The two generals literally saw his heart beat.
"Let's see how strong Joshua's heart is," Bart said, then jumped to where he had seen the pulse. This action caused the heart to explode, and Joshua finally died.

If this was the first thing someone read from any story of mine, they'd probably question my upbringing or something. How did I write this? I thought it was cool at the time, but now it's just weird . . . and kinda disturbing. I'd hate to see this in a movie. Also, how does whosever POV this is know what a balloon looks like?

Lucas saw that the remaining raiders were fleeing the way they came into the desert, leaving their reptrors behind. He then noticed a raider not far away and went to it. He held out the poison bottle, saying, "Hold this."
The raider obeyed, confused. Lucas whipped out his sword and beheaded the creature. He set the raider's body and head by the prince and laid the crossbow beside it.

This crime scene feels a little too convenient, if you know what I mean. And I'll ask this again: how in the world were the two generals not spotted by any of the other soldiers they were with? Those are some impossible odds, I tell ya. My younger self would probably respond with, "Never tell me the odds!" I'd also like to point that the good guys have not finished their job. The raiders are running away when they're supposed to be completely decimated.

While he was doing this, Bart had gotten an idea to kill the last of the raiders. He walked up to a reptror, gave a war cry, and slapped its rear end. The animal snorted and charged. He did this to a few more, and that started a reptror stampede. Their destination: the raiders.
The raiders looked back and saw the reptrors closing in. The band had obviously lost it, because of veering away, they tried to outrun the reptror. No luck in that department. The steeds caught up and trampled the raiders, leaving a gory mess.

Well, that settles the "raiders are still alive" issue. And inconsistent pluralization is inconsistent.

Because this post is getting long, I'll skip some other parts I could talk about, but I'll sum up again. Basically, the knights fall for the fake crime scene, even though both generals are standing there instead of being on the frontlines. They go back to Adiryulle, where everyone mourns Joshua's death. Eli holds a meeting about the battle, Lurkum compels Lucas to talk, and the two generals tell of how they killed Joshua and tricked everyone, to which Eli responds with weeping.

Lucas turned to face the others. "See, the king is over-emotional." He neared Eli and pulled out his sword. "He is no longer fit for the throne."
Guards rushed at him. He was about to bring the blade down when there was a flash of light. Lucas stumbled back and was surrounded by the guards. A voice said, "Lucas and Bart, you have remained outwardly loyal. However, your hearts truly belong to Lurkum. You are now banished to Darava." A large wind picked them up and rushed away.

These guards need to be replaced. They should've been closing in on Bart and Lucas when they were admitting to all the horrible things they did, not when the king is about to be executed. Thankfully, they are saved by literal deus ex machine and a large wind. *bursts out laughing* I'm sorry, but I've just got this hilarious image of a wind whisking them away in a cartoonish fashion. It's so ridiculous. I also feel like "large" is a weird descriptive word for wind.

Just then, a pop was heard, and Lucas grunted. He started to change, as did Bart. Their bodies morphed and stretched. When the process was finished, Lucas said, "Friend, you look like a big ox."
"You appear to be a large dragon," Bart replied.

Calling someone a big ox sounds like a strange insult.

As they were walking, Lurkum announced, "First of all, you need new names. Any ideas?"
Bart thought. "I'd like to have the name Behemoth." 
"I shall be Leviathan," Lucas said.

Yep, these two dumbbells are based on the creatures in Job. If I were to do this again today, I'd make them have a more logical backstory and just be cooler in general.

"Marvelous choices. The names suit. Well, Behemoth and Leviathan, welcome to Darava, the home of evil. Now, when we are inside my private chambers, I will tell of my plan to kill Detrius' Son, and with Him, the humans' hope."
Insert evil laughter.

We have finally reached the end of this chapter (which is number nine, for any of you who are interested), and this is where I'll finish the post. I knew today's was going to be longer, because I remembered a good deal from the chapter. It was just so cringey. *shivers* Thanks again for taking the time to read it, though!

Do tell me, have you ever written anything that just completely shocks you today? Any poorly-executed backstories, villain or otherwise? Content that makes you wince and wonder what you were thinking? If you have, I dare you to talk about it in a comment! I, for one, would be really interested in hearing what you have to say.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Ya Gotta Help Me /// Music Monday #11

All right, ladies and gentlemen! We have for you today another magnificent piece of music. But today's post is going to be a little bit different. You'll find out why in a moment.

And our song is . . .

"A Closer Understanding of the Past" from Ori and the Blind Forest
Composed by Gareth Coker

Yes, I have picked this soundtrack before. I can't help myself. The music for Ori and the Blind Forest is just so perfect. This actually comes from the additional soundtrack for the game, which is free to download, if I'm not mistaken. With this and the original soundtrack, you'd have virtually all the music made for the game.

I love the tone of this song. The only descriptive word that comes to mind is bittersweet. Well, that and absolutely gorgeous. I don't know how Gareth does it. He has created a score that I not only find memorable, but also very emotional and moving.

I mentioned in my other Music Monday post about this score that it's a very piano-based score, which is one of the main reasons why I adore it so much. There's just something about that instrument that I enjoy so much. It's probably used in most of the tracks for this game. It's even used in the final battle music! How often does that happen?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but this song also utilizes some type of flute and a marimba (or maybe a xylophone?). The combination of all the instruments in the song work well together to create a "forest" feel, if you know what I mean.

I know my thoughts are all over the place, but I'll just chalk that up to beautiful music turning my brain into mush. (Don't tell me that's never happened to you.) But one of the best things about this score is its use of leitmotifs. Gareth has managed to invent key themes that are easy to recognize and are simply fantastic in every sense of the word. In fact, this track uses Ori's theme very poignantly from 2:43 to about 3:21.

You might recall that in my tenth Music Monday post, I asked for a bit of help today, and here's why. I thought that I knew and recognized all the themes in this soundtrack. But now I'm a bit unsure, which is why I decided to see if any of you guys know music better than I do. To do that, I'm going to need to add two more songs to this post. Disclaimer: these tracks are not the "official" song for today, and therefore may be used in future Music Monday posts.

So this track (titled "Ori, Lost in the Storm") is where you can hear Ori's theme the best. It pops up from about 0:23 to about 0:46.

Somewhere along the line, I had the startling revelation of just how often this leitmotif appears in this soundtrack. I thought it was just the coolest thing! And it made sense, because the little guy is the main character. Of course his theme is going to be reiterated in the album to make it stronger.

But a few weeks ago, I suddenly became unsure. Pay attention to the theme that plays from 0:30 to about 1:18 of this song, "Restoring the Light, Facing the Dark."

This leitmotif is extremely recognizable when it shows up in other tracks, and it's one of my favorites. I love it to pieces. But here's where my confusion comes in. I thought this was the same as Ori's theme for the longest time, and now I'm not sure. In some ways, they sound different, and yet in other ways, this one feels like a fuller version of the leitmotif for Ori.

I know next to nothing about things like musical notes and such. I can't look at sheet music for these two songs and see if they're similar in any way. And this may sound totally ridiculous, but I really want to solve this conundrum. When something like this bothers me, I feel very compelled to solve it.

Now, on Gareth's website, there is a way to email him. But if I do, to ask him about this, how do I know if he'll even read it, much less respond? He's probably a busy guy, and no doubt someone screens his inbox. They might see my email and just delete it. So before I go down that road, I want you, the best blog readers in the world, to help me with this "problem" of mine. If you have taken music lessons, your ears are probably more musically inclined than mine. You would be able to tell the difference, wouldn't you?

Well, that's all I got. I figured there would be at least one person on here who knows music more than me. If you can help me, great! If not, that's fine. I would just try contacting the composer then.

Thanks for allowing me to ask for help with this! (Not that you really had much of a choice.) What did you think of the official song for today? Can you differentiate between the two leitmotifs? If you do play an instrument, which one is it? (I'd really love to play either piano or cello.)

Saturday, November 18, 2017

It's Finally Happening! /// Beautiful Books - Digital Pulse

Have you ever wanted something, but never knew you wanted it? And then when you do get it, you're like, "I've been wanting this my whole life without knowing it, yet feeling like something was missing in my life! Thanks for taking your jolly sweet time." (I have no clue what on earth makes time jolly or sweet, but those are unimportant details, so don't ask me about them.)

One of those things that you've wished for since the dawn of time my blog is . . .

A Beautiful People post!

*insert some stereotypical cricket chirping here*

Oh, c'mon! You know you have. Sadly, I've barely talked about any of my stories here, or even writing in general. Sure, it's one of my most-used labels, but I feel like I've barely scratched the surface of what I could post on the subject. That's why I have chosen today to share with you more juicy details on my Rooglewood contest entry, titled Digital Pulse. (Some credit goes to Tracey for helping me come up with that title.)

Though, there is a second reason why I decided to do this now, and it's not a good one. I've been feeling stumped with this story. Whereas I had loads of inspiration for Of Beauties and Beasts and even more for Darkened Slumber, Digital Pulse has been severely lacking ideas. Actually, let me correct myself. It's not necessarily a lack of ideas; it's more of a difficulty to get into the flow of the story. I can count on one hand how many times I've written, and what I have penned just feels so rough.

Now, I know you need to give yourself permission to have a cruddy first draft, but I still hate the feeling. At this point, it's not something I'd even want to turn in, because--in my mind--it looks like I'm still a novice writer. Which is probably true, but whatever. And time is running out. I have to attack this story with all the speed and fury I can muster if I even hope to send it in.

I'm getting sidetracked. For those of you who don't know what Beautiful People is, it's a blog series created by Cait from Paper Fury and Sky from Further Up and Further In where you get to share your stories and characters with other people. It's actually a great way for people to brainstorm and encourage one another, so kudos to them for starting it in the first place! Normally, you answer questions about a character of yours, but around this time of year, you get to talk about whatever project you're working on.

This is, like I said, my first entry in the post series, or whatever you wanna call it. I'ma just gonna copy Tracey's idea by answering the questions from last month as well as this month, just for hoots (and inspiration). So it's like I'm playing Twenty Questions, except not!

. . . I'll just stop the intro right about now.

October Questions

What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?

If you know me, you know that music--soundtrack music in particular--often inspires my story before I've even written the thing. Digital Pulse was no different. "Blackout" by Two Steps From Hell gave me an image of an epic battle between a superhero and a cyborg, and things just kind of took off from there. You may think that's totally random or weird, but that's how my brain works. I've had the idea for a while; I'm going to say it's been floating around in my brain at least a year, maybe two. Crazy, right? It shouldn't be hard for me to write this thing, but it is somehow. It doesn't make sense.

Describe what your novel is about!

You may recall I briefly shared a description of it back when I posted about my juggle of all my ongoing stories. Allow me to share with you a more detailed synopsis.

People have certain ideas about what the future and superheroes look like. But the future is bleak and unkind to most, and Ryder would not call himself a hero. He has no special powers, only the gear that is available to him in the world's capital of technology. Most days, he just feels like a garbage collector, hunting down rogue A.I. constantly.

The one person he can truly relate to is an android named Ceinwen, who is more human than the others. They are both products of a lab, and so their understanding of one another goes deep. Ryder knows if he lost his only true friend, he'd lose everything good in his life.

Then everything goes wrong. Ryder is called to deal with more rotten A.I., but what he discovers is a gang of crafty cyborgs and androids, led by a man who calls himself a figure of the past. And during the ensuing fight, Ceinwen is kidnapped. Ryder will stop at nothing to find her and get her back, but there's just one major problem.

He has what is called the bjorn strain, a disease that cripples him physically and emotionally. If he cannot bring it under control somehow, either it or his enemy will surely be the death of him.

Well, I may rambled a bit there, but that's basically it! Having this all here helps me to remember all the cool stuff I have planned for Digital Pulse. I really do think this post is going to help me get my fire back.

What is your book's aesthetic? Use words or photos or whatever you like!

I actually just started a Pinterest account so I could find pictures to use for this. Nothing fits perfectly, or at least how I'm envisioning things in my mind. But I'm finding better pictures than I would on Google Images. So here's just a few to give you an idea of what I'm going for.

Introduce us to each of your characters!

Ryder (the prince): A tough-as-nails, no-nonsense hero armed with gear from his home, Titanium Research Facilities. He is the first in their line of enhanced human warriors. He suffers under the horror of the bjorn strain, a side effect of the experiments performed on him. A bitter past lies underneath the surface, but he hides it away under his uncaring veneer.

Ceinwen (Snow White): An android created with a perfect body and powered by a unique source. She is more human than others, but speaks very matter-of-factly. She is Ryder's only friend and has loved him since she first saw him. She has to put up with many tests and experiments at Titanium.

Jasper (the huntsman): The leader of a gang of cyborgs and androids known as the Metal-Shadow Gang. He hails from a historical time period, and he serves the Master with the utmost loyalty. A brute before, his strength has only increased, and he is more machine than he is man. Time will tell just what he wants with Ceinwen, but by then, it might be too late.

Selah (the mirror): A sentient computer program with an added sense of humor. She is like a much more sophisticated version of Siri or Cortana. Under Ryder's use, it is her duty to help him locate Ceinwen as fast as possible.

Doctor Neville: The head of the seven scientists who created Ceinwen. He's one of the kindest facility members to both Ryder and Ceinwen, but is forced to perform tests everyday on the latter.

Director Colby: The leader of Titanium, who takes a high interest in Ryder, though not in a good way. He wants to continue developing enhanced warriors and sell them to other countries. He sees Ryder as a weak specimen for suffering under the bjorn strain.

It's not a huge cast of characters, but you can't afford one in a story with a 20,000 word limit. And also, thanks to this post, Selah is now an official character! That alone makes doing Beautiful Books worthwhile.

How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?)

I like going for walks and listening to music as a pre-writing ritual. It helps me clear my mind of other things, then focus solely on the story and all my ideas I have for it so far. Some of my best ideas come from my walks. After that? Well, I must reuse an old meme, because Shia LeBeouf sums it up well:


What are you most looking forward to about this novel?

I'd have to say simply writing Ryder and Ceinwen. They are so different from my other couples. Takeshi was an honor-bound samurai prince, and Emiko a sweet princess. Byron was a pirate scarred by the past; Bella was a headstrong young lady who broke down his walls. While Ryder could be most compared to Byron, this story isn't about a beast transformed by love. It's about a hardened man struggling with his demons and wanting to save the one good thing in his life. Ceinwen is A.I. for crying out loud! That alone makes her fun to write. And the fact that she's more human also makes her more relatable as a character.

I'm also looking forward to tying in this story with my previous two. If anyone's read Of Beauties and Beasts, they'll probably have recognized some references already. (You guys don't know how excited I am to extend all these retellings into a seven-book series. It's gonna be epic!)

List 3 things about your novel's setting.

1. I felt like not many stories take place in Canada, so I decided that the location would be Prince Edward Island, or PEI for short. #LifeLessonsForYouNon-Canadians

2. I also felt that if a story takes place in Canada, it's not necessarily an important place or anything. Therefore, PEI became the world's leading center for new technology.

3. While I wanted Digital Pulse to take place in the future, I didn't want to make it so extravagant that it seemed impossible. Thus, the year is 2107, but technology for most people is limited to autonomous cars. The government keeps the best A.I. and leaves the rest for various jobs. These units are much susceptible to going rogue, as they are of a poorer quality.

What's your character's goal and who (or what) stands in the way?

Ryder's main goal is to rescue Ceinwen. That much is obvious. But many things stand in his way. He has to actually hunt her down, for one thing, which is a big enough problem. There's also the minor issue of the Metal-Shadow Gang, who have some dastardly scheme up their metaphorical sleeves. And if that's not enough, he has to deal with the bjorn strain. It gives him a "high," if you will, causing him to go into berserker mode. But the hangover comes, and it leaves him unable to move and heightens emotional pain. So yeah, there are a lot of obstacles.

How does your protagonist change by the end of the book?

To be honest, this part isn't totally clear in my mind at this point. That may sound crazy, but it's true nevertheless. What I do know is that I don't want Ryder to become a softie by the end. He's still going to be no-nonsense most of the time. But I think he'll come to the realization that he has to accept the horrid things that happened to him in order to move on, hoping that those things will end in some kind of good somewhere along the line. Does that make sense? I think whatever transformation he goes through will feel more organic when I just write the story.

What are your book's themes? How do you want readers to feel when the story is over?

No life is without tragedy. We are all the same in that way. What makes some people different is that they come to terms with those hardships. They let themselves become refined and grow stronger in the storms, and they cling to the belief that all things will work together for good in the end. They may not see it in the present, but they can look back one day and know that they did not believe in vain.

So when the last chapter is finished, I want readers to be challenged to look at their own lives and recognize that maybe they've let past adversities get the best of them. They've become crippled to the emotional, or maybe even physical, pain and scars those tragedies left. I sincerely hope they can find a way to move on and not be held back by bitterness or resentment.

Dang! I'm actually starting to really like this theme!

November Questions

Overall, how is your mental state, and how is your novel going?

You know, before I started writing this post, I was just really not feeling Digital Pulse. But I think I'm getting my fire back. It had better be a pretty big fire, though, because my story is sitting at 1,181 words. Yeah, it's pretty sad. I've only got a little over a month to finish it, so here's to hoping! *raises a glass of chocolate milk*

What's your first sentence (or paragraph)?

I'm copying Tracey again and doing the first three paragraphs.

The world was cold and dark.
That was her initial perception. Light began to flood her corneas, and she sensed the temperature rising to twenty-three degrees Celsius. There were voices--four male and three female, all within a proximity of five and a half yards. What felt like a hanging frame kept her stiff, feet flat on the smooth floor.
It is though I have just been born. It was a peculiar thought, since newborns tended to not recognize the moment their life began. 

That's a little glimpse into Ceinwen's POV. Like I said, she's going to be fun to write.

Who's your current favorite character in your novel?

I can't just pick one! My four major characters--Ryder, Ceinwen, Jasper, and Selah--are all great because they're all so very different from each other, as well as many other characters I've written. That's my answer, and I'm sticking with it.

What do you love about your novel so far?

With the Rooglewood contests, I've always tried to use different genres, or even genre combinations, that I have never done before. So I love that this story is a sci-fi superhero mystery tale. I also love my unique main characters, and how I'm going to tie my fairy tale retellings together. So . . . I guess pretty much everything?

Have you made any hilarious typos or other mistakes?

Not that I'm aware of. If I do, you'll be the first to know. (No promises, though, so don't hold your breath.)

What is your favorite to write: beginning, middle, or end--and why?

I'd probably have to say the end. Tying everything together is just something I enjoy doing. Then there's the detail about having the final battle, which is always fun because you can go big and extravagant . . . if it fits the story, anyway. But one of my top reasons for liking the end the best is because that's usually where things get the most emotional. And I'm one of those cruel authors who likes to give his readers emotional pain. Anyone who's read my past two entries would most likely agree.

What are your writing habits? Is there a specific snack you eat? Do you listen to music? What time of day do you write best? Feel free to show us a picture of your writing space!

Well, this question is a mouthful and a half. Lemme see . . . I don't really eat snacks when writing. If I need brain food, I'll grab a candy, but that's it.

And of course I listen to music! I usually go for either a new album that I want to listen to in one sitting (if at all possible), or something that fits the mood of the story. Last time I wrote, I looked up a YouTube playlist of sci-fi battle music. But I've also found that listening to Antti Martikainen's album Synthesia is a really good choice.


I usually just write whenever, but I tend to write later in the day, especially in the evening. As for my writing space, it's not really anything to write home about. So I won't bother showing it.

How private are you about your novel while you're writing? Do you need a cheer squad or do you work alone (like, ahem, Batman)?

I need to work better at being like Batman, because you can't always rely on other people to give you a boost, if you know what I mean. I definitely love having a cheer squad to encourage. That's probably due to me doing the majority of my writing on the former LEGO Message Boards, where I often had users complimenting me. That, and words are one of my top two love languages, so . . . *shrugs*

What keeps you writing even when it's hard?

Multiple things, actually: a playlist for the story, other people encouraging me, the thought of someone being able to read and enjoy my story, long walks with just me, my music, and God . . . that sort of thing.

What are your top 3 pieces of writing advice?

Oh boy, that's a tough question. I don't know if I can say that these are my top three tips, but they're three tips nonetheless.

1. Give your characters conflicting values. If you have a guy who says, "My family is everything to me," but also says, "Power is everything to me," you're going to get some serious conflicts. He'll have to choose between the two at least once, and it won't be an easy decision. Doing this creates a lot of suspense of the readers, because they don't know which value will win out in the end. *suddenly wonders if any of my characters in this story have conflicting values*

2. Try your hand at writing different kinds of characters. It's what I have strived to in each of my stories. Kayne in The Tournament of Convicts is an over-exaggerated version of me that I relate to very well. Brixton in Maelstrom is more of an opposite of me, yet I still really like him. Verak from a co-authored project I'm working on called The Darkest Dawn is a good brother who gets really dark, so in some aspects, I relate to him and would fear being in his position. I could go on, but what I'm saying is never write just one type of character. Readers will get bored of that.

3. Don't be afraid to kill off your characters. I do that all the time, and I think it's one of the most effective methods to give your reader an emotional experience--so long as you do it right. There are things that need to be avoided when it comes to character deaths, but I won't go into it now. (I eventually want to do a post just about this topic.) Suffice it to say that you need to JUST DO IT! dispose of a character every now and again, even though it may hurt.

And that is finally it! No more questions to answer. Before I close off this post, I just want to give a big thanks to Cait and Sky for creating Beautiful Books. I came into this kinda despising my story, and came out wanting to write like a hardcore maniac . . . or something. Basically, you two have helped put the fire back in my writing spirit, and I cannot thank you enough.

Are any of you guys entering (or have entered) this last Rooglewood contest? If you're doing NaNo, how's that coming for ya? Have you participated in Beautiful Books? Should you need a second wind, you have to give it a whirl! I'm definitely doing this more often.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Honor the Fallen

Today's post is going to be both a bit shorter and more serious, but I feel like it's an important one. November 11th, known as Remembrance Day in Canada and Veteran's Day in the US, is where we honor the fallen. We take the time to remember those soldiers who entered the battlefield, the men who bore weapons against the enemy. Some of them, by some miracle, survived, while around them lay the bodies of comrades and friends.

Honestly, one day is not enough to be thankful for our soldiers. We should be grateful for them every day of every year, because if they had lost, our world would be so much different today. Just imagine what our lives would be like had the Allies lost World War II. That alone should be enough to make you appreciate the freedom fighters.

I think being a soldier is one of the most Christ-like occupations. The reason I say that is because of Jesus's words in John 15:13 (The Voice): "There is no greater way to love than to give your life for your friends." That's exactly what Jesus did. He sacrificed Himself on the cross as the greatest expression of the most powerful love. Men of the army follow His example, whether they acknowledge it or not, by sacrificing themselves for their country and the future generations, even when we don't even know them.

But why? Why do honorable people who serve in the armed forces have to die in order that others may live? Why did Jesus even die for us, when surely there could've been some other way?

It's because freedom has one currency, and that's blood.

Without the shedding of blood, true freedom is not bought. In order for someone to stand tomorrow, someone has to fall today. I hope that every soldier who died on the battlegrounds that war stained with blood caught a glimmer of what the future would be. I hope they knew that their efforts were not in pain, that they weren't just another tally in the KIA count. I pray that they saw a beautiful future of liberty, one where people don't have to cower in their houses and run from tyrants.

Obviously, our life now isn't perfect. There are still people in the world who cower and run. There are still tyrants who seek to squash freedom. In fact, we have squandered our freedom at times. But we can change. The world can change, but it starts with us. Just like it started with the soldiers charging into the maw of death.

I'd like to go on a bit of a side note here and venture to say that we as Christians have sometimes been a little comfortable with our lives. We've been okay with staying seated instead of taking a stand. Jesus wasn't always a "nice guy." While He told His disciples to be as wise as snakes and as gentle as doves (Matthew 10:16), He also said that He came to bring a sword rather than peace (Matthew 10:34). These statements, you'll notice, are made in the exact same chapter. He's the guy who caused a ruckus in the temple by overturning tables and driving the people out (Matthew 21:12-17, Mark 11:15-19, Luke 19:45-48, John 2:13-16). He's the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), but He also has a double-edged sword in Revelation 1:16.

What am I saying? Christians need to understand that there is a time to stand and fight rather than sit and wait it out. There is a time to make waves rather than go with the flow. There is a time when silence is yellow rather than golden. We have to spot those times when they arise so that we can follow suit.

I'm not saying you're going to be asked to die. But surely we can follow the examples of all the brave men and women who've gone before us and acted selflessly in the face of impossible circumstances. Our sacrifice may not be our lives, but if we love others, we'll be willing to sacrifice what we can: time, money, popularity, or whatever else it may be. Because that's what true love does.

So while today is a day of remembering our veterans, let it also forever be one where we choose to honor their lives by sacrificing something for someone. It's what they did.

It's what Jesus did.


Let's just take a moment of silence to honor the fallen.

Monday, November 06, 2017

THE DOUBLE WHAMMY /// Monthly HapPENings: October + Music Monday #10

Okay, guys, don't panic . . . but we have a real problem here. Either 2017 decided to skip October, or there's a thief out there who steals months. Or maybe October was struck by lightning and is now the fastest month alive. Whatever the case, I want my October back. It was here and gone faster than I thought possible.

Oh! You noticed the title, did ya? Well, allow me to explain myself. On Friday, I was having computer problems. By the time I got everything solved, I was too lazy to write my post. Saturday was another lazy day with zero motivation, and when Sunday rolled around, I thought to myself, "You know, rather than having a post two days in a row, why not just combine them?" I know, I'm incredibly smart, you don't have to tell me.

And for the third time in a row, I am without an official picture. So you know what that means?


In case you didn't infer it from the picture I aptly chose, winter has come to Canada. During the last few days of October, we got our first snow. This is a panorama of what my backyard looked like on the morning of the 26th.

As for life in general . . . you know that job I mentioned I got back in August? The one at the concrete factory? Well, they always have less work in the winter, so they lay people off. The 13th was my last day, and I've been on the job hunt ever since. While I sometimes feel discouraged about the whole ordeal, I'm believing that it simply means I've got a better job waiting for me.

I didn't really do anything else that was terribly interesting this month, aside from hanging out with my family more. So let's get on to the rest of the post!

Bookish HapPENings

*twiddles fingers nervously* So . . . books! Books are . . . great! Man, if you can't even finish one book in a month when you have all the time in the world, you must be a really weird person . . .

OKAY! I admit it! I finished no books this month, just like September. How is it I've been on the same book from, like, the middle of August until now? I swear, guys, if I don't finish the book I'm reading by the end of November, you all have permission to mock me to your hearts' content.

HapPENings on the Screen


I watched The LEGO Ninjago Movie when it came to my local theater, and lemme just tell you: BEST. LEGO. MOVIE. EVER! So far, of the three films, it's grossed the least amount of money . . . but sometimes the movies that are less popular in theaters are the best ones. (Like one might argue that Tangled is better than Frozen, even though the latter grossed more.) It was filled to the brim with more irreverent humor, epic action sequences, and a lot of heart (I almost cried at one scene). Plus, it referenced/playfully poked fun at the TV show, which made me love the movie more. And Lord Garmadon was my favorite character. Justin Theroux did such an excellent job of voicing his character; at times, he sounded almost exactly like Mark Oliver, the actor who played Garmadon on the show. (My thoughts are everywhere right now, so once I watch this movie on DVD, I just might have to give it a proper review.)


Kaitlyn, Chloe, and I watched this one together, and I still stand firm in my opinion that it's the best movie in the Pirates franchise. Besides all the stuff I've mentioned in the past about these movies, this one gave some more depth to the villains--at least, that's what I felt. I never thought I'd feel sorry for Davy Jones, and Lord Cutler Beckett's final moments were done perfectly. I also appreciated Norrington's character arc from the first movie to this one. Once again, what I had first thought was a convoluted plot actually made sense this time around. Now I just need to finish watching the fourth film (which I only got to see most of) and see the fifth.


So DC and I have a bit of a love/hate relationship. While Marvel consistently makes great movies, DC . . . doesn't. Don't get me wrong, I loved Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy and Man of Steel. I actually didn't hate Dawn of Justice, but I love making fun of its logic. ("Why did you say that name?!") Movies like Suicide Squad, however, are awful. So I wasn't expecting great things from Wonder Woman. Lo and behold, I was surprised. I actually enjoyed the movie! While it was easy to draw comparisons to Captain America: The First Avenger (a world war is going on, the hero uses a round shield, and there's a character named Steve), it still had its own distinctions. Cap, in his debut, was a hero to the soldiers and had a large special ops group, where we only get to really know Bucky. Diana, on the other hand, is a hero to civilians, and her band of mighty men is much smaller, consisting of four men who are all distinctly different from one another. The characters, action, plot, and score were all very well-done. If you're looking to watch a good DC movie, this one will satisfy your craving . . . aside from the fact that Diana could do with an outfit that has, shall we say, more material.


I already watched Spider-Man: Homecoming in summer, when it came to theaters. I loved re-watching it, though. Tom Holland is, in my mind, the perfect Spider-Man. He actually looks like he belongs in high school, and he's nerdy while not being overly so. It's also cool to see how Tony Stark has matured since the early days. And Vulture was an awesome villain with a suit that was just as awesome. Yeah, all the characters in here--even the ones you don't like--were great in their own ways. I give this movie the "Best Spider-Man Flick" award.


My sisters and I are still watching season three of Once Upon a Time. I'm still enjoying the change of scene, even though Neverland sometimes reminds me of the jungle in Gilligan's Island. I'm intrigued as to where the plot is going, what with Peter Pan's scheme and all. I'm also liking Hook even more, but I wonder how the love triangle between him, Neal, and Emma is going to end. Probably not well. And I've found out just how much I hate to see the Charmings fight.


Well, I can definitely say that The Flash is still my favorite TV show. This season has been excellent at creating conflict amongst Team Flash, and I've already been hit by a number of plot twists and jaw-droppers. In my last Monthly HapPENings post, I mentioned how I can't wait to see the main villain of this season. Well, he's shown up . . . and he's definitely looking devilishly epic. That's all I will say about him, because I don't wanna spoil anything for you guys who haven't seen this season yet. And as for the plot, things are not looking too good for the heroes. *rubs hands gleefully* Ah, I can't enough of this show!


My youngest two sisters and I are watching the Tournament of Elements season together. I recently bought the two newest seasons and the TV special, and we decided to re-watch the two seasons that came before them. It's one of my favorite Ninjago seasons, with suspense and intrigue abounding. I still love this show's humor and characters. You can tell there's some good chemistry between the actors.

Writerly HapPENings

Well, I think I beat my measly 32 words last month. For October, I wrote a whopping . . . 328 words! It's better than September's word count, but it's still not good enough.

At this rate, I'm not sure if I'll be submitting my Snow White story. I'm going to have to really buckle down if I want to. (By the way, my story's name is now Digital Pulse, for you curious bunch.)

And now, for the other part of this post!

Our track for today is . . .

"Cradle" from Spiral Knights
Composed by Harry Mack

I discovered the game Spiral Knights on Steam earlier this year. It's a free-to-play MMOG, so I figured I would check it out. I downloaded it, booted it up, and was greeted by this music. I instantly knew I would love this game.

I love the art style and gameplay, and the music just adds an extra oomph to it all. This song is so relaxing and peaceful. Actually, not many of the tracks--at least from the first of the two albums--can really be classified as intense.

I'm not sure how to describe this game's music. It's not full-on retro chiptune, but there's something kinda old-school about it. I honestly don't know what it is. I can tell the music is all synthesized, but I still really enjoy it.

Okay, my fingers are getting tired, and this post is getting long. I'm going to end it off here. Sorry for making the Music Monday side of things shorter this time around. I hope you still enjoyed the post! Oh yeah, and we hit 10 Music Mondays. Whoop whoop!

How were your Octobers? Did they speed past ya as well? Have you played Spiral Knights before? Would you guys like it if I added a video game heading to my Monthly HapPENings posts? And finally, if you happen to be knowledgeable about all things music (especially about leitmotifs), I'm gonna need your help on the 20th!