Clockwork Princess

I must have bought the book whenever it came out, in 2013 or something. I swear, when I made my reading list last year, I thought I’d already read it. I had to double and triple check. It seemed that I’d bought a collecter’s first edition… but never opened it. Oops.

I finally got around to reading it last year, probably in December or so. I’d always enjoyed the shadowhunter books, even if they were very YA, there’s just something about them that appeals to me. That stands for this series as well, The Infernal Devices.

To be honest, I was lost for a little while when I started reading. It’d been a while since I read the first two books, and the opening, considering I couldn’t remember that much about the series of events that led up to the end of the second book, seemed completely unrelated to the story. Later of course, I caught on and went on my merry way to enjoyment.

Tessa, the protagonist, has always struck me as a strange character. A lot more about her history is explained in this book, which is good, but I’m finding it really difficult to pinpoint why I still feel this way, despite having finished the book. It’s not that I particularly think Tessa is a BAD character… I wouldn’t say that she’s ‘strong’, but there’s nothing wrong with that; not all females characters should be written to be feisty and independent because realistically not all women are that way.

It’s very possible that I missed something in the books, or that I just don’t remember things the right way, but I guess what I’m thinking is that I find it odd that she’s so afraid to use her powers. Sure, she might not really understand it and she was forced to learn how to use them against her will, but she’s also been with the shadowhunters for some time at this point, and she quite clearly wants to help them.

Well, that’s my two cents at least. I didn’t mind too much, in the end,  because she ended up pulling through in an unpredictable way, even if the ending itself was what I expected. A decent read overall, I’m glad to have that series at a close so I can move onto the next one.

Have any of you read Clockwork Princess? Have any thoughts of your own to share?

~Erynn

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Heir of Fire

I read the novellas that led up to this series a couple years ago before the first book came out (I believe this is the third book). I loved the characters and there were parts of the story that really made me feel. You have to admire an author when they can consistently do this. It fell a bit short in the second book and that’s why it took me so long to pick this one up– but I’m glad that special little touch was back in this book.

A couple new characters are added in this book and I found myself quite liking them. The only thing I really don’t like about this is that both of them are potential love interests for the main character. There already were two love interests! I guess it’s kind of unique, though, because how many books are there with a love X instead of a love triangle? Despite this, the characters were really strong in other ways, so I can’t complain too much.

Learning more about this world’s magic was quite the experience. In the first two books it was “blocked off” in the continent the characters lived in, but in this one, Celaena has gone on a quest somewhere else that still has some use of it. The story had an interesting take on magic, something I’ve never really seen before paired with some of your typical stuff. It was neat.

I really don’t think there’s much else I can say. It was a solid addition to the series, and after the major cliffhanger that was left at the end of the second, a fair amount of answers were given without the lack of new questions. I’m looking forward to reading the next, whenever that is. 🙂

Have you read Heir of Fire? What did you think?

~Erynn

The Starbucks Lady

About a month ago I left my house for the first time in a while– I had pretty much been hibernating and because I work from home, I didn’t have much reason to leave the house.

Anyway, I think I ended up going out because my boyfriend wanted to get ice cream or something. I didn’t really want to leave, but I knew I hadn’t been out in a while, so I hesitantly agreed.

We’re walking down to Dairy Queen and on the way we have to pass one of those plazas with a bunch of stores. There’s a pharmacy there, and since we needed something from there anyway, I was pretty happy to walk in and get it while we were out.

So we get what we need and are coming out… And we’re one or two stores down from the Starbucks, but I see the sign. I think to myself “you know, I wouldn’t mind some Starbucks right now” so I convince my boyfriend to get some with me instead of ice cream.

This is unusual for us because we’re the kind of people who would rather burn a $5 bill than go to Starbucks, but I don’t really have anything against the place. So we go in and I order a caramel something frapp and he gets some iced lemonade or whatever. Doesn’t really matter.

While we wait we’re making small talk with the cashier (who we later determined had to be Australian) and I offhandedly mentioned that it was the first time I’ve been outside in a month since I work from home. She asks what I do, and I of course respond by saying I’m a ghostwriter… I write books for people. She actually seemed pretty interested and asked a bit more.

I walked out of that Starbucks feeling very satisfied. It’s not often that a complete stranger takes an interest in the fact that I’m a writer, so it really made my day.

Has anything as small as this made your day before?

~Erynn

Different Types of Magic

Different stories call for magic to be used for different things. Because of its versatile nature, there isn’t really a limit to what magic can do. The limits are put in place by the writer of the world, who will have decided to do so for a variety of reasons.

If you’ve read several different fantasy novels, you’ll likely have noticed that no one really uses magic for the same reasons. Some authors will make magic purely an offensive entity, where it’s used for fighting or to fend off those using magic to attack. And while this is probably the most common type of magic, it’s far from all that’s possible.

Personally, I like it most when a story allows magic to be used for pretty much anything. This means that the magic isn’t really limited by the author’s desires, but more by the physical limitations of the user, the world, and the user’s strength. When magic is used to enrich a story like that as more of an everyday tool rather than a sacred ability that’s only used when absolutely necessary, it makes magic feel more real.

Anyway, onto what this post is actually about. What kinds of magic are there?

Honestly, I don’t think you can make a list of the different types because magic in fiction is just that, magic, and it’s not really limited to anything but what the writer tells it to be. You want magic that does the opposite of what you tell it to do? It’s possible. Or maybe you want magic that can’t do anything more than grow flowers from nothing– that’s possible too.

On the other hand, you can divide magic by its use though the list would still be extremely long. An example would be like I said somewhere above, combative magic. That’s an enormous category; there are so many ways that someone could use magic to benefit them in a fight. But there are still a couple thousand completely different things magic can be used for.

Let’s see… there’s also magic that you could use to help with everyday things, like brushing your teeth, cooking, and cleaning. Or… a little bit trickier would be magic that alters your physical capabilities, so things such as eyesight, strength, etc.

If you keep the possibilities relatively normal, I mean, more or less what you’d find in our world, magic wouldn’t be as versatile as we know it to be. But as soon as you start thinking of magic in a full-blown fantasy world, what you can do with it quadruples. You’ve got telepathy, healing, flying… Magic could be somehow attuned to different elements, and there’d be people around that could start fires with a simple touch, or talk plants into growing faster. Then you’ve got the people who can make it rain, snow, or grace the world with sunshine.

You know, I’ve read quite a few books and have always loved fantasy. But even after reading a dozen or so books in the genre, I’m fully aware that it’s only a taste of what’s possible and what people have already written. Saying that, I want more. I don’t think I’ve read anything yet with an incredibly unique magic system or someone who has used magic in a completely outlandish way. I’m dying to see something that’s different than what’s considered “normal”.

How about you– what do you think about magic and its many uses? Have you read any books with an amazing magic system or know someone who has given magic an entirely new use?

~Erynn

Writing About Real People

This isn’t something I think about often because I write fantasy, most often with a set of completely fictional characters. It’s not uncommon, however, for people to incorporate people in their lives into their writing in some way.

For example, writers often take traits from people they know (either desirable or undesirable depending on the character) and giving them to their characters. Doing this achieves several things, but most notably it gives fictional characters a touch of realism. Sure you can create a character with characteristics you’ve never seen or experienced firsthand, but like describing a location you’ve never been do, doing so can create some inaccuracies that the people who have are likely to catch.

I’m guilty of doing this because I know that it works. Taking one real trait you’ve experienced and slapping it onto a character that’s otherwise completely fictional can add some much-needed depth to a character that otherwise doesn’t have much going for them.

Some people write about characters completely based off of people they’ve met or heard of in real life. Personally, I don’t do this because in the world of fantasy, too much realism can ruin the experience (at least in my opinion). Don’t take me the wrong way– I just think there’s a huge difference between authentic experiences and realism. Anyway, especially when you’re just learning how to write, taking someone you know and throwing them into a fictional story can open your eyes to how story building and characterization really work. You might not run into issues deciding what your character would or wouldn’t do in a situation (if you know them well enough, the decision might even seem natural to you) but that only helps you spend more time writing and less time thinking. Not necessarily a bad thing, no?

Then we have writing about real people in real situations. I think you can do some really good stuff with this so long as you’re not writing in any genre that disallows “real situations” (I mean, your typical fantasy isn’t going to have a situation where a main character meets someone while working on their computer at Starbucks, so yeah). I don’t have too much to say about this because it’s not my cup of tea. But people do it and have found success in it– so why not?

Do you guys write about purely fictional people or do you try to take characteristics from people you know and add them to your characters?

~Erynn

I’m a Ghostwriter

I haven’t really talked much about my job here on my blog. Sure I’ve mentioned it here and there, and I do have a “hire me” page, but never have I really gone into much detail about what it’s like to be a ghostwriter. So, today, that’s what my post is about.

I’ve been a freelance writer/ ghostwriter for about a year now. In the beginning I didn’t really have any idea what I was doing– I even know what kind of freelance writer I wanted to be. I just wanted to write for a living.

Why did you become a freelance writer?

It actually goes a lot deeper than just me wanting to be a writer. If all I wanted to do was write, I could have done anything else and wrote my own stories in my spare time, but I wanted more than that.

There are two truths behind this that I haven’t really spoken about. The first is that I’m incredibly antisocial and have pretty bad anxiety. I worry about everything, even things I don’t need to or have no reason to worry about. Throughout high school, this made just the thought of having to hold a real job absolutely terrifying. Even now, when I consider myself mildly successful, I’m worried about failing and needing to pick up a “real job” in order to hold my own. So when grade 12 rolled around, I pretty much did everything in my power to find a way out of getting a day job. Somewhere along the lines I heard about freelancing, and I shouted to myself, “I’m saved!”

The other reason is that my writing actually really sucked when I started. I’d just finished the first draft of my novel, I knew it was crap, I knew my writing was crap, and I wanted to find ways to get better. By that point I’d done tons of research on how to improve my stories– “show, don’t tell”, “don’t use so many adverbs”, “give your characters flaws”, “keep things grey, not black and white”, etc., etc.. But I didn’t have any practical way to practice implementing these tactics into my writing, short of working on the second draft of my book, which I wasn’t ready to do.

That’s when I discovered that people were willing to pay for crappy fiction. So came up with a plan: I’d settle for low paying fiction writing jobs while I improved my craft, then once I got better, I’d seek out some more lucrative gigs and start working on the second draft of my novel. Essentially, that’s what happened.

What is ghostwriting?

Simply put, ghostwriting is where you’re paid to not receive any credit for your work. You write something and sell the story, as well as the rights to it. It’s no longer yours when the job is done.

Doesn’t it bother you that you don’t receive any rights or credit for the work you’ve done?

In the beginning, not at all. Most people who approached me had their own stories ready to be written, so I didn’t need to use any of the ideas that are sacred to me in order to make next month’s rent.

Now that I’m getting much better at writing, in some ways it actually is starting to bother me. It’s not always about the stories themselves, but it’s the fact that I’m getting paid to write harder and better. The reason I was okay with it before was that the stories were simple and mindless– but now that I’m actually challenging myself, I get attached to the work and want to make it as good as possible. In the end, however, it’s still the same. I need to sign everything away.

Are people really willing to pay for crappy fiction?

Yes, and they still are, even though I now try to stay away from it as much as possible. I mentioned above that when I first started, my writing sucked. It did. It sucked donkey balls, to put it mildly. But here’s the thing: there were and still are people who are much worse at writing than I am. Most of us know about the plethora of horrible self-published writing on the market, and there are a lot of people who are willing to pay for someone to write something slightly better than what’s out there already.

If anyone has any more questions about ghostwriting, I’ll gladly answer them. Ghostwriting is the closest I’ll get to my dream of being an author for a while, but I really enjoy it and if me talking about it can get anyone interested in getting started or clear up any misconceptions, I’d love to help!

~Erynn

Updated Reading List, and Some Other Things

Hey everyone, sorry for disappearing! I was really sick the last three weeks or so and am finally almost better. Today’s post is going to be an overview of my updated reading list for 2015. I used to aim to read 100+ books per year, but over the last while I’ve gotten increasingly more busy and have less time to read. In 2014, I read a grand total of 15 books! That’s actually pretty embarrassing since I have taken on reading as a form of pleasurable study and was supposed to be working in a lot of reading to improve my writing and my knowledge of Fantasy, as well as other genres.

This year my goal is 50 books, though my list is 51 books. I’m going to copy my list from my reading page to show you guys what I hope to read this year and share some thoughts on a few of the books I’ve chosen.

In addition, I’ll be writing brief posts about the books that I read as I finish them. You won’t need to worry about spoilers if you haven’t read them– I won’t share any. 🙂

1. The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien (b0)

2. The Fellowship of the Ring – J.R.R. Tolkien (b1)

3. The Two Towers – J.R.R. Tolkien (b2)

4. The Return of the King – J.R.R. Tolkien (b3)

Pretty much everyone has heard of J.R.R. Tolkien’s acclaimed Lord of the Rings series, and this is especially true amongst fantasy readers and writers. In my case, I’ve never really had much of an interest in reading it until recently– now hold on, before you grab your pitchforks, let me explain. The Lord of the Rings movies came out between 2001 and 2003, during which I wouldn’t have been older than eight years old. I watched the movies with my mom and sister when they came out, and though I loved them, I hadn’t quite accumulated an interest in reading and writing. Fast forward to 2014, I watched all three of the new Hobbit movies and decided that it might be time to read the books written by the so-called “father of fantasy”.

It’s strange to think about, but I’ve actually been warned against reading the books because they don’t at all reflect my style. I’ve been told that they’re too long, and the writing is boring. But oh well. I think I’d rather read the books to say that I’ve read them and get my own opinion on them.

5. Altered Perceptions – Various authors

I’ve talked about this book several times on my blog, and I intend to get around to reading it this year. It’s an anthology that was funded on indiegogo to help a fantasy author struggling with mental illness, as well as to raise awareness for mental illnesses. You can read my posts on it here and here.

6. The Maze Runner – James Dashner (b1)

7. The Scorch Trials – James Dashner (b2)

8. The Death Cure – James Dashner (b3)

9. The Kill Order – James Dashner (b3.1)

I actually hadn’t heard about this series until after the first movie came out of theaters. I ended up watching it, enjoying it (even though it was filled with annoying YA cliches) and bought the books to read shortly after.

10. Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand

I started reading this book in September of 2014 and have only read about half of it. The book isn’t obscenely long, though longer than most, at about 1000 pages of very small text. It’s not bad, definitely not bad, and I like the story… it’s just, well… I’ll explain it when I finish it and get around to writing a post on it.

11. Empress – Karen Miller (b1)

12. The Riven Kingdom – Karen Miller (b2)

13. Hammer of God – Karen Miller (b3)

I have two series by Karen Miller on my to-read list this year. Actually, they were on my to-read list last year, too, but I never got around to it. Karen Miller is one of the few female fantasy authors that I know of, and respect. It’s kind of strange to actually admit, because I haven’t read any of her books yet. But I’ve heard a lot about them from my boyfriend, who loves her books and has told me a million times to get reading them. They definitely sound like something I enjoy.

So, you might be wondering… why do I admire her if I haven’t even read her books? Well, as an aspiring female fantasy author, I’ve heard a lot about how it’s hard to get over the prejudice that female names are given in the publishing world. Because most fantasy is written by men, there seems to be a huge misconception that if the book is written by a female author, it’s full of romance and doesn’t hold true to a lot of loved fantasy aspects (such as blood and gore and death), which isn’t at all true. It makes me really happy that Karen has written these books under a female name (whether or not that’s her real name, I don’t know, but I assume it is) while also having lots of blood and death in her work. I really look forward to reading them.

15. The Crown Tower – Michael J. Sullivan (b1)

16. The Rose and Thorn – Michael J. Sullivan (b2)

17. Hollow World – Michael J. Sullivan

I bought the first two books last year, had them signed, even! and never got around to reading them. I loved Michael’s original series and recommend it to anyone who loves fantasy. I don’t have Hollow World yet, but I’ve heard that it’s very controversial and plan on reading it to see what that’s about and so I can say I’ve read all his books. 🙂

30. Alanna: First Adventure – Tamora Pierce (b1)

31. In the Hand of the Goddess – Tamora Pierce (b2)

32. The Woman Who Rides Like a Man – Tamora Pierce (b3)

33. Lioness Rampant – Tamora Pierce (b4)

I’ve heard a lot about Tamora Pierce from my boyfriend as well. Apparently he read them all when he was younger and was surprised to learn that I hadn’t heard of her before. All her books are children’s/ young adult, but I listened to the first one of this series as an audio book this January and find that the simpler language is really good for when I’m only half paying attention. The stories are good so far, too!

40. A Natural History of Dragons – Marie Brennan

I picked this book up in December when I was shopping around. I didn’t actually need any new books (the world knows I have enough unread ones already) but I really liked the idea behind it and couldn’t stop myself from buying it. As far as I understand, it’s a fictitious memoir of someone’s interactions and knowledge about dragons. I really think this will provide some useful information, since the series I’m working on has a lot to do with dragons.

There are lots of books I didn’t comment on, but you can find the list of them on my reading page. More comments like this will be available once I get around to reading them and writing posts about them!

~Erynn

Venturi

Hi everyone!

I mentioned some months ago that I was interested in getting into video games. Last summer I went out and landed a gig with some new, college start-up company that was planning on making some awesome fantasy games. But one thing led to another and that eventually flopped. Sort of. The people I was in touch with literally disappeared off the face of the Earth. Not sure what happened.

Anyway, that prompted me to keep looking. I didn’t have much of a clue where else to search, but I ended up scouring Reddit for something similar to the fantasy rpg I was all excited for. I had no luck in that regard, but I did find something else that caught my interest– a project referred to as Venturi, or the Venturi Effect.

Venturi is a dynamic science fiction rpg with a large focus on player choice, good story, and exciting combat. The project immediately caught my interest because of the key feature to travel back in time whenever you like. Luckily for me, my writing skills were enough to get hired as the newest writer on the team and get to work!

When I joined the Venturi team, I believe in late October, there were about four people on the team. Each of us were incredibly passionate about the game, but there was too much work to be done to have it completed in a reasonable amount of time without expanding. Since then we’ve grown into a legitimate company– Negative Zero Inc.– with three times as many team members, and ten times as much passion and dedication.

We’re still in the early phases of development, but you can read a lot about the game on the official website: http://www.theventurieffect.com/

Weekly blog posts are being written by me and some of the other writers about the game itself, but those alone won’t answer all your questions, I’m sure. If you have any, please leave a comment or send me an email at kisshuquiche@gmail.com and I’ll answer to the best of my ability, as well as refer your questions to the team to make sure you get the answers you deserve!

At last, if you’re interested in the project, please subscribe to the newsletter or follow on twitter/ facebook for regular updates.

Thanks so much!

~Erynn

Altered Perceptions

Last summer I mentioned that there was a campaign I was supporting that’s goal was to spread more information about mental illness and support authors with those disabilities. To do this, an indiegogo was created with the intention of putting together a science fiction/ fantasy anthology that displayed different authors’ work and their take on mental illness in fiction. Most notably, one of the authors is Brandon Sanderson– a respectable fantasy author.

The book was delivered in December, but I finally got a hold of it a couple days ago because it was sent to my old address.

20150108_203052 20150108_203120

As a bonus, you can see my cat sleeping under the book. 🙂

The cover is rather simplistic, but I like it. The colours are pleasant and the image of the house being torn apart can be considered an artistic take on mental illness itself.

I haven’t had the chance to read the book yet, but I do plan to take a look at it soon.

For those of you who are still interested in buying a copy or want to find more information about the books creation, cause, and what the proceeds currently support, you can take a look on Brandon Sanderson’s website (where you can also get an ebook version of the anthology): http://brandonsanderson.com/altered-perceptions/

Have any of you read the book, or plan to? What do you think of it? Has it changed your thoughts about mental illnesses?

~Erynn

New Year, New Goals

So, the new year has begun. Have you guys made any new years resolutions? I don’t really consider the changes I’m making to my blog resolutions, but still a change I want to uphold. Take it as you will.

Anyway, today is day one, and we’re going to talk a bit about my book; my progress through 2014, and my plan moving into 2015. A couple months ago before things went seriously downhill for me, I made a lot of goals for the completion of Taichiren’s and the other books of the series.

The plan was to finish the second draft of the book before January 2015. Of course there have been a few things that prevented this from happening, such as work and depression, among many other things. I think after I restarted the second draft (which was approximately 1/4th done at the time, early July I believe), I ended up having time to write out the first two chapters and that’s it. It’s a shame, really, because I’m super pumped to write out the new storyline I’ve built up. I don’t want to share too much about it, but the best way I can think of to describe the largest change would be that I’ve switched up the perspective at the beginning. As the story did before, it still starts out on Kristinn, the main character, but the focus doesn’t stay on her for long. In the first version, the first half of the book was focused mostly on Kristinn and Cysar. In the newest version, the plan is to have a bit of focus on Kristinn on the beginning, and then introduce the perspectives of other characters as time goes on (rather than all at once half way through).

Since this didn’t happen, the new plan is to complete the second draft by the end of May. Starting tomorrow I’ll be dedicating enough time every day to write at least 1,000 words toward this goal. Since I expect the book to reach 100,000 – 150,000, this gives me me about 140 days to reach 140,000 words. If everything goes as planned, the story will end much before then, and that leaves me with a couple days to play around with in case anything comes up that stops me from writing.

A thousand words really isn’t that much– I know I can easily write 5,000 or more per day and still get lots of other stuff done– but by keeping my goal lower, I know that I’ll have time to work on everything that needs to be done without getting too stressed about the bazillion things I’m expected to do every day. And, to make things even better, I don’t intend to shy away from getting those good days where I get more than 1k words in while still getting everything else done.

Alright, that leaves us with my plans for the proceeding books. I’m honestly not too sure what my original plan for them was, because I have all that info saved on my laptop, which I don’t really use anymore and am too lazy to dig through for the purpose of this post (sorry!). I believe the goal was to have the first drafts for the second and third books done by the end of 2015, which would have been entirely possible assuming I had as much free time as I did the previous year. This also would have left time to write the first draft of the fourth book, assuming I couldn’t end the story in just the three.

As it currently stands, this is no longer possible. Not really a big surprise there, eh? But I don’t focus as much time on the details for my first drafts, so I know that it will be possible to finish the second book this year.  Depending on where I am after that’s done, I should be able to get started on the third, though I doubt I’ll finish it by the end of the year. I think it would be great to be able to stick to this, but because I don’t want to guess how busy I’ll be at that point in time, I’m not going to make any solid goals in this regard until May comes around. Once the beginning of May hits, I should know whether or not I’ll finish the first book in time, and then that’s when I’ll start making plans for the second, third, and (maybe) fourth books.

What do you guys think about my new and improved goal? Have you guys set any new writing goals for yourself with the start of the new year?

~Erynn