Wordless Wednesday: Happy Halloween!

I have returned from vacation, but I am still catching up and think I need a vacation from my vacation, haha. I'll post pictures soon!

In the mean time, HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

This is my costume outfit. I'll reveal who I am on Friday.

Loki dressed up too.

Q4U: What did you dress up as for Halloween? OR Are you participating in NaNoWriMo?


Randomosity on Fridays: Poetry (Or At Least Rhyming) Version

Krispy has returned from her vacation abroad,
Jetlagged a bit for which I applaud--
After hours of travel I'd plow into bed
With my pillow drawn tight over my head.

But Krispy you see is really quite tough
And certainly made of much sterner stuff
Than ever the Alz could manage to be,
For Alz you may know is absurdly lazy.

Yet despite Krispy's astonishing wakefulness,
She declined to blog in a fit of forsakefulness
And so it falls upon me to fill this empty post.
Maybe it's genius or maybe it's just the most

Random thing ever, produced by the late hour
And the Thai tea with boba that has me under its power.
Though I doubt my success, I shall now attempt slumber,
Counting out sheep to infinite number.

How well do you handle changes in time?
I must also ask that you comment in rhyme.


Wordless Wednesday: Metaphysical Version

The following series of pictures were taken over the course of several days, alternating between me and my mom.


Okay, okay, so we had a lot of time on our hands.

In other news, WELCOME BACK, KRISPY!  If she's not too passed out, I'll make her blog on Friday so we can all find out about her shenanigans abroad.


Randomosity on Fridays

It's Friday!  Hooray!  I have done little this week other than slave-labor over jewelry (pictures forthcoming someday), suffer abuse at the paws of Loki, and read.  So here's the Friday Five!

Dreamhunter (The Dreamhunter Duet, #1)1. I finished Dreamhunter by Elizabeth Knox this week.  It was pretty good though it was a little slow and plateaued more than once.  Unfortunately, it is absolutely not standalone.  Fortunately, I borrowed the sequel from the library along with the first book.

2. I've been sampling assorted brands of canned milk tea.  On the whole they're not bad, although the ones with boba in them are a little strange because the boba is pretty small and more firm-tapioca-textured than chewy-soft.  Also, you can't really drink boba milk tea out of the can with a reasonable expectation of actually getting boba while you drink--unless you have a straw.  The boba is tiny enough to fit through a normal-sized straw, by the way.

3. I found this bag today which I don't really need but it was pretty and maybe I can store stuff in it since it's too small for typical daily usage because, well, I keep a lot of crap in my bag, like a little notebook, pens, a camera, colored pencils, flashlight, gum, mirror, mints, polished rocks (hematite and agate), mini screwdriver, etc.  I also found this cute fox mug that will probably end up holding pens or tools of some sort.

If only the leaves on the bag were metallic-shiny, I would experience
paroxysms of joy.
4. Not too long ago, Krispy's sister lured me into watching Adventure Time.  It has made me into a monster.  I can't stop watching.  I can't!

5. One my rats occasionally likes to sleep with her face mooshed up against the side of her cage.  It doesn't look very comfortable but the way she snoozes you'd think it was like slumbering upon a bed of unicorn silk stuffed with baby phoenix down.

Blurry pic but see! That's the bottom of her face.
On the left is her ickle paw wedged under her chin/against her throat.
And now, although it is late at the time of typing this, I may indulge in a boba pop and watch some more Adventure Time.  Because I'm an Adventure Time monster.

What's your favorite frozen treat and what's your favorite canned drink?


Worldbuilding Wednesday: Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar

Welcome to another edition of Worldbuilding Wednesday!  On the menu today is a fresh hot serving of discussion on how critical a good foundation is to any story-world, and the differences between acceptance, plausibility, and believability.

The main example on the dissection block is the Valdemar series by Mercedes Lackey.  And okay, yes, this post did have its origins as an essay about how creepy Valdemar actually is, until I realized that it's also a good example of worldbuilding and face value.

This post is all Alz, btw, since Krispy only read a few of the Valdemar books, whereas I read all of them many years ago, all the way up to Exile's Honor before I gave up.  Possibly I simply became more critical as time passed and I read more widely, but I'm also pretty sure that the later books started going downhill too.  I used to love love love Valdemar and while I still do, my love is now tempered by my ever-present Companions companions Judgment and Criticality.



Foundation (Valdemar: Collegium Chronicles, #1)
Didn't read this one and am afraid to
after what I heard about it.
Good worldbuilding often starts with a good foundation.  This is the world, this is how it works, and these are its rules--that sort of thing, albeit hopefully not so bald-statement info-dumpy as all that.

Let's take a look at Valdemar, a kingdom whose entire system of governance is bound up in the intelligent magical semi-divine horselike Companions who Choose certain estimable, honorable, good people to become the Heralds that serve in all manner of capacities from arbiter to police to messenger.  The King by law must also be a Chosen Herald. Companion and Chosen are bound together for the rest of their lives, and the various series typically follow this or that Herald in his/her efforts to save etc. good thing from etc. evil thing, or a newly-Chosen Trainee getting the hang of the Herald ropes and incidentally overcoming various obstacles in order to uphold truth and justice.

We are asked to believe that the Companions Choose true--that they only Choose inherently good people, so even if one Chooses a thief (such as the character Skif in Take a Thief) or someone on the way to the gallows (a random mention in one book, I forget which), it must mean that said person is still somehow good.  Questioning the Companion's Choice is brought up very briefly in Brightly Burning, in an instance where the King explains they have to hold a public trial in order to defend a Herald from an accusation of murder because the Valdemaran people absolutely must believe that the Companions always Choose true since their entire government revolves around this fact.

Brightly Burning (Valdemar)There's a Collegium adjoining the Palace where the newly-Chosen Trainees attend classes and graduate into the uniform Whites of a Herald.  Yes, the series does semi-gratuitously capitalize a good many things, but that's a gripe for another post.  Anyway!

We've got a premise: The Companions and their inherently good Heralds serve and protect the land of Valdemar.

We've got rules: The Companions Choose certain people and are bound to them as partners and advisors; the King/Queen must also be a Herald; Choosing is permanent; etc.

We've got a reasonable system: Heralds serve in a variety of governmental roles and are generally trusted by the population at large due to their reputation.

That's all a good basic foundation for worldbuilding.  Let's move on!



I buy the Companion-based government.  I mean, it's the concrete basis of the entire series.  It's laid out pretty simply and is easy to grasp.  I accept the Heraldic system.  I accept the land of Valdemar as it is presented.

This is typically a necessary qualification of enjoyment and, in this case, is dependent upon the taste of the reader rather than the skill of the author.  The world can have a good foundation, be totally plausible and believable, but maybe you just can't accept the premise that our society somehow devolves into the virtue-based dystopian society of Divergent, or that a "virus" is responsible for boys dying at 25 and girls dying at 20 in Wither, or that faeries are actually plants a la Wings.  If you can't accept it, maybe you can overlook it, but if you can't do that either then you'll probably start banging your head against the wall if you continue reading.



Since Valdemar is set in a magical world, the whole Companion/Herald thing is magically plausible.  The kingdom still has a judicial system, guard force, army, and other assorted governmental bodies that are separate from the Heraldic system; the Heralds are basically a multi-tasking quasi-military force answerable to the King and devoted specifically to protecting the people and fostering peace.

Magic's Pawn (Valdemar: Last Herald-Mage, #1)Magic's Promise (Valdemar: Last Herald-Mage, #2)Magic's Price (Valdemar: Last Herald-Mage, #3)

Despite how disgustingly helpful and happy-dappy people are in the very first Valdemar book, Arrows of the Queen, the world eventually develops enough to mention that not everyone loves Heralds--for instance, in other kingdoms and countries, Heralds are regarded as mystics or weirdos. The King (or Queen in some books) and others have remarked that Heralds are not perfect because they are as human as anyone else.  For instance, in Magic's Promise, there is a Herald who beats a Companion with a whip because he believes the Companion is a demon despite the fact that his own Companion was freaking out all the while.  As I recall, he didn't exactly feel bad after he was stopped because he was still convinced there was shady business going on.  See?  Not perfect.  But the guy was still a Herald.

The point here is that the worldbuilding is complex but also reasonable.  It makes sense, it follows its own rules, allows for imperfection, and it explains the inevitable anomalies and exceptions.  And that, my friends, is 90% of the plausibility rating.


Here's where you get two breakdowns of Believability: Young Innocent Past Alz and Jaded Curmudgeonly Current Alz.

Young Innocent Past Alz says: Yes!  I believe in Valdemar!  I accept it all, it's plausible, and I believe without question the storylines and characters and the world!

Jaded Curmudgeonly Current Alz says: Yes.  I believe in Valdemar.  But now I'm cynical and analytical enough to realize how damn creepy the entire system is, so although I believe the storylines and characters and world, it's only because I'm taking them the way they're meant to be taken: at face value.

Winds of Fate (Valdemar: Mage Winds, #1)Winds of Change (Valdemar: Mage Winds, #2) Winds of Fury (Valdemar: Mage Winds, #3)

To explain, we have to go back to the whole Companions thing.  The Companions are the ones who Choose people, and the pair are then bound together in a deep bond of love and companionship (harhar) for the rest of their lives.  As is mentioned and exemplified more than once throughout the various series, Companions and Heralds don't really outlive each other because of the depth of their mental/magical bond.

Companions serve Valdemar and Valdemar alone, and therefore their Chosen are bound to serve and live in Valdemar for the rest of their lives--regardless of what their lives were like before.  Without spoilers, there is one character in one book who wasn't of Valdemar but ended up Chosen, and therefore had two choices: stay and become a Herald, or leave and also leave the Companion behind.  The character couldn't bear the second choice because omg! the bond! the unconditional love and mental link!  And anyway, the character felt that Valdemar needed him/her, so staying was really the right choice after all.

Take a Thief (Heralds of Valdemar, #5)So--this is where the believability begins to fail me.  The Companions are essentially the creepiest-ass emotional manipulators/blackmailers in their entire world.  A person cannot (so far as is shown) refuse to be Chosen, though there is one instance in one of the Owl Mage books where a girl doesn't want to be Chosen because she's her village's only healer and thinks very hard at the approaching Companion that she does not want to be Chosen and the Companion appears to understand and Chooses someone else.  But this is the anomaly; the norm seems to be that Companions pop up and Choose whenever and wherever and whoever they damn well please.

In another instance, a character on the verge of suicide was Chosen.  The character wanted to die, but the Companion thwarted one attempt and roused help to prevent another.  I mean, I'm not saying that this character should have committed suicide or suggesting that the Companion is bad for stopping suicide, I'm just using this as an example of how the course of Heralds' lives are dictated by their Companions.

The Companions hold all the power, both to make and break their Heralds.  The Companions can also repudiate their Heralds and break their bond--something whispered about in Herald lore because it only ever happened once, after a Herald went mad and did something unforgiveable.  His Companion repudiated him and then promptly committed suicide, and the former Herald wasn't far behind.

By the Sword (Heralds of Valdemar, #4)So Companions Choose people to serve the country whether or not the person is willing, coerce them to stay through emotional manipulation (our bond! we love and understand each other!) and guilt-tripping disguised as an appeal to sense of duty and responsibility (the kingdom needs me!  these people need my help!), and if that person does something they deem unforgiveable, they essentially kill themselves and their Chosen.  (Mind you, the unforgiveable thing in the one instance of repudiation was pretty bad.  But still.)

Once Chosen, Heralds have no other choice of job.  Old Heralds can "retire" and teach Trainees and stuff, but now that I think about it there aren't really that many old Heralds mentioned in the series.  This would seem to indicate that being a Herald doesn't leave you with a long life expectancy.

Come on, I mean, look, the Companions even dictate who rules the freaking country!  The Regent, be it King or Queen, must be a Herald too, by law.  Not to mention the creepy fact that the sole exception to the Companions-don't-outlive-their-Heralds rule is the Companion Roland, who is always the Companion to the King's main advisor, the King's Own.  Also, Roland is a special snowflake because he's always male and always born out of the magical Grove that spawned the very first Companions ever during the Founding of Valdemar.

At face value, even the apparently unwilling/ambivalent Chosen are still so duty-bound and good that they don't mind being forced to become a Herald.  But the fact that any of them still have doubts is troubling.



Arrows of the Queen (Heralds of Valdemar, #1)Valdemar's first books started off a little shaky, especially considering the fact that the first trilogy features in large part a secret longstanding code Heralds use to communicate with each other by breaking certain bits out of the feathers fletching arrows, a code that is never mentioned or used again in subsequent books.

But it's probably a mark of good worldbuilding that the author ditched the arrow-code because it becomes obsolete in face of the fact that many Heralds can communicate mind-to-mind, not to mention the fact that the arrow-code itself seems kind of unreliable--for only one example, what if the arrows got banged around and a bit of fletching got knocked off?  That'd totally change the message.

The Companions and their Heralds remained though as the highlight and main factor in the world.  As the series goes on and becomes more detailed and complex, the relationship between Herald and Companion is explored, as well as between Heralds and non-Heralds.  Questions about the origins of the Companions and what they are arise and are eventually answered--and this falls into the realm of worldbuilding because finding out these things are not the focus--the focus is usually the characters and their personal journeys in relation to the plot.

Because the author had 25+ books to explore Valdemar and its concepts (and is still writing more), you can see the evolution of ideas and concepts as well as the abandonment  Although many of the books (especially the later ones) are lackluster and even the good ones have their issues, Valdemar's worldbuilding is both interesting and problematic due to its organic nature, developing as the books develop.

Is Valdemar unintentionally creepy?  Yes.  But it's still interesting.


I recently saw one of the new Valdemar books at the library.  The fact that I've read bad things about it and know that I'm way more judgmental now stayed my hand from borrowing it, but I must admit that I am morbidly curious. 

Should I borrow the book anyway?  What do you think about organic/evolving worldbuilding VS doing all the worldbuilding beforehand and having it concrete?  Have you read any Valdemar books?


Randomosity on Fridays: Loki Doodle Edition

Krispy is gone forever and so I've been looking after Loki, Overlord of Cuteness.

When I go to see him in the afternoon, he's a little whiny but pretty mellow.  He likes rubby-rubs and returns the favor in kind by rubbing all over my pants, back and forth, because in his previous life Loki was a cat.

Loki and Lokitty.
He'll lie down after a while and roll over.  As I pet him, a gingery-tan mist arises to envelope us with dreamy slowness...

... and this mist is his hair. 
He's shedding! Why is he shedding his undercoat when winter is coming? Has he learned nothing from the Starks? Or is it his Frost Giant heritage coming into play in defiance of this mortal concern known as weather?  Would he be okay if he were a magic dog with stretchy powers?  How many pop culture references can I cram into this paragraph?

I switch from petting to brushing and combing, and after a while, I depart and leave him forlorn.

In the evening, energized and ready for play and excited that my return has healed his broken heart, Loki is more openly enthusiastic about expressing his love for me.



I'm beginning to think that maybe I'm in an abusive relationship.

Have a happy and hopefully injury-free weekend, folks!  Have you ever pet-sat before?  Did you come away with battle scars?


Two Mini Book Reviews: A Confusion of Princes & Daughter of the Centaurs

Krispy is going far away to a place known as Vacation Land, leaving me piloting the blog solo.  WHAT MISCHIEF SHALL FOLLOW?  Only Alz knows.

In this case, I've waded through quite a few books in the past few weeks.  Here are a couple of mini-reviews (that ended up being longer than mini, oops) of books I picked up at random.


A Confusion of Princes by Garth Nix

Pros: Scifi with emphasis on the sci-; intriguing Empire setup; world-building is interesting and expansive.
Cons: Way too much told-not-shown summary; annoying first-person protagonist who repeatedly says he learned his lesson only to say a few pages later that he didn't learn it after all; rushed ending.

Intellectual Rating: 3.5 of 10 stars
Emotional Grade: D+

Book Blurb: (from Goodreads) You'd think being a Prince in a vast intergalactic empire would be about as good as it gets. Particularly when Princes are faster, smarter, and stronger than normal humans. Not to mention being mostly immortal.

But it isn't as great as it sounds. Princes need to be hard to kill--as Khemri learns the minute he becomes one--for they are always in danger. Their greatest threat? Other Princes. Every Prince wants to become Emperor, and the surest way to do so is to kill, dishonor, or sideline any potential competitor. There are rules, but as Khemri discovers, rules can be bent and even broken.

Soon Khemri is drawn into the hidden workings of the Empire and dispatched on a secret mission. In the ruins of space battle he meets a young woman called Raine, who challenges his view of the Empire, of Princes, and of himself.

But Khemri is a Prince, and even if he wanted to leave the Empire behind, there are forces that have very definite plans for his future. . . 

Alz's Mini-Take: This book should have been a trilogy or at least a duology because two thirds of the novel is hurried summary in order to get to an ending that has very little emotional impact because everything was rushed.  Prince Khemri narrates his life to the reader, but part of the problem is that there's no immediacy--the way the story is narrated makes it clear that it's the Khemri of the future telling us about his past self, so he summarizes weeks/months/years in a few paragraphs.

The first few chapters are about how he has to get to an academy, and then when he actually gets there, he's there for a whole year--which consists of only a chapter or two, most of which is summary punctuated by one or two remarkable events. The entire book proceeds similarly with long chapters of Khemri summarizing events with a couple of anecdotes tossed in and maybe a few pages spent on actual scenes, and then more summary. 

It's too bad that the blurb makes this sound like a pan-galactic gargle blaster Hunger Games because it's not. The relationships Khemri forms are barely there and largely superficial, which even he admits, and while there are some good action scenes (both terrestrial and in space) they are few and far between. There's even an attack by aliens! But it's solely a plot device since there had to be some kind of threat for Khemri to combat and make other plot stuff happen.

Thanks to a somewhat formal, distant, arrogant, and naive tone (quite a mix, I know), Khemri comes across as cold and unlikeable, especially since he spends a good chunk of the first half blithering on about everything he deserves and how he wants to get a really cool spaceship and cruise around the universe like the Prince in his favorite TV show.  Khemri read more like a spoiled 10-year-old to me than being a teen.

The world (or universe) of the book is very intriguing though and what kept me reading.  The Empire uses Bitek (biological technology), Mektek (mecha), and Psytek (yeah yeah), with the result that there's a good deal of organic matter intertwined with otherwise cold technology.  There are aliens and humans and colonies and rebels and wormholes and space and the Empire really did feel like a multi-galactic presence.  This book definitely falls under the harder end of the scifi spectrum as far as readability goes; no scifi lite here!

Thematically, the story deals with what it means to be human with regards to life/immortality/death, love versus intellect, superiority and inferiority, and all other sorts of big concepts that are never quite done justice because not enough time was spent on any of them.  Khemri's conclusions have all the impact of reading a fortune cookie without even the pleasure of eating the cookie afterward.

A Confusion of Princes left me wishing it had been done better and also left me wanting more but since it's standalone, there's nothing more forthcoming.  Try Garth Nix's Abhorsen series instead--it's much better.


Daughter of the Centaurs by Kate Klimo

Pros: Good beginning chapters.  And that's it.
Cons: Increidbly stupid and inconsistent heroine; lack of cohesive plot/conclusion; inconsistent shallow idiotic characters.

Intellectual Rating: 1 out of 10 stars
Emotional Grade: F

Book Blurb: (from Goodreads) Malora knows what she was born to be: a horse wrangler and a hunter, just like her father. But when her people are massacred by batlike monsters called Leatherwings, Malora will need her horse skills just to survive. The last living human, Malora roams the wilderness at the head of a band of magnificent horses, relying only on her own wits, strength, and courage. When she is captured by a group of centaurs and taken to their city, Malora must decide whether the comforts of her new home and family are worth the parts of herself she must sacrifice to keep them.

Alz's Mini-Take: I picked this book up at the library knowing nothing about it except that it looked new and kind of interesting.  I was also curious because of, hmm, the slant of the dust jacket blurb--Malora's the last human alive after a terrible accident, and she's all alone now with her stallion, and then there are centaurs involved, and okay, maybe it was an unwholesome curiosity upon my part, but hey!  It's the blurb's fault.

The story's told in third-person present tense, which isn't my favorite thing, but the first few pages read all right, about a little girl who wants to be a horseman like her father.

And the book played me for a fool.  The first few chapters are decent, as Malora's people are attacked by monstrous Leatherwings.  The book blurb is kind of misleading though because there are multiple attacks over a period of time, whereas the blurb makes it sound like there's one blitzkrieg that leaves Malora the last human alive.

It was all still good though!  Malora has to deal with people not believing her, then blaming her, then demanding things of her, etc.  But once Malora does become the last human, the book turns stupid.

Malora and her stallion Sky are alone on the plains.  Sky eventually mates with a wild mare, and from then on Malora acquires a herd of (rather incestuous, it seems) horses who are her sole companions for several years, and then she suddenly meets centaurs who want to steal her horses and maybe kill Malora, and she's totally chill with all of that because omg centaurs are so purty.  They can go ahead and take her horses, and she's fine with leaving them in the care of someone she hates and mistrusts.  Because omg, yay, centaur city even though centaurs are afraid of her!  Also, there are apparently rebel centaurs somewhere causing trouble maybe.  And there is going to be a horse race!  In the meantime, Malora is the "pet" of what is essentially a centaur prince perfumier whose perfumes smell so good they make Malora have visions of the past.

Did any of that make sense to you?  There's even more.  But I won't burden you with it because god, I loathed Malora by the end of the book.  The climax is an event that was brought up as an Important Plot Point early on and then almost completely dismissed for the rest of the book, and involves a good many Sudden Plot Devices and Changes of Heart, and then the end of the book is disgustingly pat without resolving anything.

Oh, and since you're probably as shamelessly curious as I was: Malora's love interest is only some random silver-haired wholly-human guy she sees in a dream a couple of times.  There is no centaur/human romance in this book, nor is there any hint of bestiality, although there is a rather offhand mention at one point of centaurs raping humans in the past, to which revelation Malora doesn't even so much as bat an eye.  Yup.  Nope.  Hated this boring, illogical, nonsensical book.

Read The Scorpio Races if you're looking for a good story that's about the bond between horses and riders, and riders and each other.


I was going to do more (and shorter) mini-reviews and have a couple of positive ones in there, but remembering how much I hated the two books above sapped my energy.  Maybe Friday or next week I'll have a couple more since my library raid yielded many more fruits, mostly bitter but some sweet.

How often is it that you pick up a random unknown book on a whim?  Got any good YA scifi recs?


Randomosity on Fridays: Books, Movies, Travel!

The first week of October has flown by! Most of you seem to be well into Fall mode, but you can try telling that to the Southern California weather. We were at triple digits earlier this week! Although, I hear it's finally cooling down; the dog walk tonight was a bit chilly.

Thanks for all your kind words and enthusiasm on Wednesday's WIP post! It's very motivating and much appreciated!

Anyway, many things to cover so onwards!

1) This past week was Banned Books Week.

I hope you read some good, juicy books in honor of it. I actually did read a banned book very recently, the new classic The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I enjoyed it, though not as much as I probably would have as an actual teen, but it does a very good job of capturing the feeling of being a teenager. (Here's my goodreads review for Perks.)  I also saw the movie for Perks, and it was excellent. Logan Lerman's the perfect Charlie (and goodness this kid can act), Emma Watson demonstrates that she's more than just Hermione, and Ezra Miller totally steals the show. :)

2) It's been a movie sort of weekend because I also saw Looper, which despite the weirdness of Joseph Gordon-Levitt being made to look like Bruce Willis was quite good. A light Sci-Fi that doesn't get too caught up in its high concept and actually explores its bigger themes.

3) The Sister, my friend, and I also saw the much buzzed about Pitch Perfect, which is basically the a capella version of Bring It On. Which is to say the movie was fun and hilarious with the bonus of having some great musical numbers. Here's a clip of one of my favorite scenes.

The Sister's favorite line of the movie was: "Leave it. It fuels my Hate Fire."

4) Speaking of fun music, I'm about to be reunited with one of my Great Musical Loves tonight, Mr. A to Z himself, Jason Mraz at the Hollywood Bowl! The Sister is actually the huge fangirl, but he is just one amazingly talented singer who is straight up brilliant live. His live performances are magical; he is basically always better live. AND not only are we seeing him tonight, we're also seeing him again Saturday night at a much smaller venue for his acoustic show (even better!).

We realized the last time we saw him was 4 years ago. As the Sister put it, "I'm ready to fall in love again."

5) Lastly, I'm going on vacation! Next week to be exact and I'll be gone for a while, so Alz will have full control of the blog then. Make sure she behaves, yes? I'll be traveling to the eastern side of Europe and hitting up a bunch of places with a tour group. I'm probably most excited about going to...

...Prague, which is a place I've been dreaming about since Laini Taylor enchanted me with her descriptions of it in Daughter of Smoke & Bone! We're starting in Germany, which means I should probably brush up on my German this weekend. 4+ years of taking it in school shouldn't be hard to recover, right?

Q4U: I'll be on planes, trains, and buses a lot. So do you have travel music suggestions? I need to fill up my iPod this weekend!


WIP Wednesday: Survey Thingy

Our bloggy friend Caroline Richmond tagged us for this WIP survey called The Next Big Thing, and you know how we're all for doing memes and the like. That and we love hearing what other people are working on. So we couldn't resist Caroline's siren call.


What is the working title of your book?
I suck at this title stuff. I always title things at the end, just like with every essay and term paper I've ever written. I've called this WIP "Asian NaNo" (because I started it as a NaNoWriMo) and "Luck."

Where did the idea come from for the book?
Weirdly enough, I was reading an article about the Kennedys (I forget what the article was about specifically) and thinking about the tragic and prominent deaths that have plagued the family.

This somehow led to the idea of a prominent family that was said to be cursed because their children always died young or at the cusp of their greatest achievement. And then I thought about how because this family was prominent, respected, and wealthy, people must also say that they're lucky. So I combined the two ideas and made them literal - the family was both literally blessed and literally cursed.

What genre does your book fall under?
Fantasy, my first and truest love! Uh, I guess YA?

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I'm declining to answer this question because I'm just not very good at picking Real People to be the people in my head. Also, if I tried to do this right now, I'd end up staying up all night. So let's save me some sleep and stress and say SKIP.

I will say that most of the characters are East Asian-looking since the world is based on ancient China.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Augh, I hate summarizing things. Why are these questions so hard?! Uh, I guess...

When the family curse rears its head, Cian and his sister Tae embark on separate journeys to break the curse and save their family - Cian, in search of the Luck Demon and Tae, in search of their missing oldest brother.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I'd love for it to be represented, but I'm nowhere near the querying stage. So we'll see...

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? May we see an intro?
Uh, can I plead the 5th on the first half of this question? This thing isn't finished, especially because it had to be restarted a few times. This is what I get for being a pantser who insists on complicated storylines. :P This is the original opening, which may or may not change:

Cian searched for treachery in his shadow, but the dark figure against the wall remained as motionless as he was. It mocked him with its innocent mimicry of his posture, the hovering poise of his brush. He lowered his hand and watched the shadow do the same. Perhaps he was being overly paranoid, but he could never be too careful. Better to err on the side of caution, especially when one’s family is cursed.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I suppose it's a little bit like Malinda Lo's Huntress in that there's a quest and it's set in an ancient East Asian kind of landscape and mixes Eastern and Western folklore. But otherwise, it's really not like it at all. Oh and there's a smidgeon of Mulan in here too, minus the awesome musical numbers (I know, bummer). Yeah, I'm terrible at this.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Like I said, I was thinking about the Kennedys, haha. But initial idea aside, I was fascinated by the the dichotomy of gift/blessing vs. curse, and I was thinking about Greek Mythology and gifts from gods (not always good; in fact, frequently not). I was also incredibly frustrated at the time by the presentation of an Asian-inspired fantasy land in a novel I had recently read, and so I thought I'd try my own hand at it (FYI, it's freaking hard to get it right). Beyond that, I love "family" as a theme.

Mix those things together and you get my WIP.

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
There are also sweeping vistas, a strange wild girl with red hair, a frozen glass sea, ancient secrets, the Luck Demon, and heart-eating beasties.

Source: viralblender.com



What is the working title of your book?
So far it's "Sanctuary", which is unoriginal but serviceable.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
I wanted to test myself with some first person POV since normally I prefer third person, and as long as I was doing that I wanted to try my hand at writing two different styles: a pragmatic, practical, cynical heroine and a starry-eyed deeply romantic love interest.

What genre does your book fall under?
Urban fantasy and I suppose YA, and I guess murdery mystery since there is a mysterious murder, and romance, possibly, yes, unconventional romance.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Like Krispy, I'm skipping this one since I rarely ever picture real live people as my characters.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A;kldsja;fjsa I hate writing synopses!  Er, I'll give it a try.

Lammy lives in a little town called Sanctuary, where nobody is what they seem, the least of all Lammy herself--and when an angel moves into town and dismembered corpses start showing up at school, Lammy is the number one suspect.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I'd love to be represented by an agency but I have to, you know, finish writing the book first before I can even start thinking about queries.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? May we see an intro?
I wrote a decent chunk for NaNoWriMo last year and then have sort of been working on it off and on, in between other projects.  This is the current first paragraph, subject to change:

When I was born, my mother abandoned me because I was a freak.  She'd only gone about ten feet before she thought better of it and decided that freak or not, I was her daughter.  She came back for me—and then started to worry that I'd never lead a normal life looking the way I did.  So she did what she thought was best and gave me away to people better able to give me the childhood I deserved.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Hmm. I guess it's a ltitle bit like Team Human by Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan in regards to playing with some YA tropes, and maybe a little Percy Jackson in the way that there's magic and monsters not readily seen by normal people.  It's probably like other books too but none of them readily spring to mind.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I'd say that at its furthest backest farthest roots, this story came about due to my frustration with reading crappy YA romance where it's Troo Luv at First Sight Because of Destiny, and also the way that stalker behavior and alpha male dominance is styled as hotness.  I also like it when characters lie to themselves or think one thing while acting differently.  All this gave me the basis for the main characters, and everything grew up around them.

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
Our down-to-earth heroine takes issue with the fact that the angel sent to spy upon her town is convinced that theirs is a destined meeting.  She also has a BFF with a curious aversion to sunlight, a loving and supportive mother who knows exactly what her adopted daughter is, and a serious sweet tooth.  Some say the way to a man's heart is between the ribs; the way to Lammy's heart might well be her stomach, but will our angel-in-disguise figure this out before Lammy permanently sends him back to Heaven?

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