A Little Dust on the Blog

16 10 2012

It’s been a few weeks shy of a year since I last updated this thing. It’s been a crazy year, I can tell you that much. I haven’t had much time for hobbies because of it, either. But this isn’t my personal diary, so let’s talk about the reason why I’ve blown the dust off this thing.

When I last updated, I’d been working on an original fiction that’s been in the making for 11+ years. I have since divorced said story and put it back into storage until further notice. Working on it, though, was good exercise for my brain. It gave me a little something to do to get ready for my current interest… fanfiction.

Last year, I started another blog dedicated to a TV show I’m obsessed with called “The Walking Dead,” particularly a couple I “ship” in said show. It’s a fairly popular blog at the moment. It doesn’t have thousands of followers (yet), but it does have a decent following with more people than I dared to dream in the beginning. Because of this blog, I’ve been privileged enough to meet some really gifted writers who write fanfiction based on our ship. I’ve read and reviewed countless stories over the last year, and I was inspired to hop aboard the bandwagon and give fanfic writing a try.

As it would turn out, fanfiction is far more challenging than most people realize. When writing original fiction, the author can create the characters as s/he sees fit. If they decide to make so-and-so do something, it is well within their right to do so. If someone questions this, the writer can simply say, “I’m the writer and what I say goes.”

This is not an option in fanfiction. When you write fanfiction, you have to keep in touch with an already established world and its characters. The people who read your story have high expectations when it comes to how the characters behave, speak, and go about their life. The readers range from casual fans to die-hard fanatics who will rip you a new one if you allow even the slightest toe out of their expectations. In a way, writing fanfiction is harder than original fiction simply because your critics will be judging you with higher standards than they would original fiction. Not only do you have to write well, you also must write within their character expectations.

With such high expectations, I’ve been forced to reevaluate everything I’ve written with the help of my beta/editor, Cate. I’ve been rather pleased with some of the things I’ve written, particularly parts that have given me the most trouble. For example, in one story, I summarize the events in an episode of the TV show. There is a transition moment that lasts mere seconds, yet it is critical to the story. Simply saying something along the lines of, “Daryl rode his motorcycle to the gate so Carol could hop on” just wouldn’t have done the moment justice… and yet the moment was so brief, a paragraph would have been overkill.

After a day and a half of writing, I came up with this line:

The light at the end of the tunnel took the form of a Triumph Bonneville, and the Angel of the Lord wore his wings on the back of a leather vest. “C’mon, I ain’t got all day!”

(From Between Two Brothers)

I was very pleased with this line, to say the least. It shows the reader Carol’s relief without being too wordy. It also reveals that Carol regards Daryl’s arrival as an answer to her prayers.

I’ve also dabbled a bit into foreshadowing. One thing that bothers me, though, is that most foreshadowing is so blatantly obvious, they may as well write out what is going to happen. Then again, I have always had this nasty habit of figuring things out well before the ending. My better half is still shocked that I figured out the surprise ending to “The Usual Suspects.”

All that aside, I wanted to put some foreshadowing into the first chapter of one of my fanfics. I have a scene in mind for this particular one that will happen later on, but it also goes hand-in-hand with my second story:

He stole a glance at Carol, who was fidgeting in place as she looked around at the others. She reminded him of a doe caught in the headlights of an oncoming car… scared, confused, unsure of where to turn for safety. The corner of his mouth twitched as he began loading an bolt into his crossbow. It wasn’t like him to let his mind wander, and yet in the last twenty four hours, it had strayed in the same direction more than he’d care to admit.

(From Between Two Brothers)

It’s not the greatest paragraph ever written, but it gets the job done. It sets up not just the scene I will later write for this story, but also foreshadows a scene from the unofficial sequel I’ve already completed.

Another difficulty in writing this particular fanfiction is conveying Southern accents. The characters currently reside in Georgia, meeting just outside of Atlanta and then moving in an undetermined direction at the end of Season One. Each character is from an undetermined location, though all of them are presumably from Georgia. For the most part, each character speaks with what I call a “basic Southern accent,” meaning they tend to shorten some of their words, but for the most part speak “normal English.” Carol is a good example:

“I’m not complainin’,” she said softly. “I thought it was really sweet, but… I just wonder what brought it on.”

(From The Doe and the Corn)

Daryl, on the other hand, has been an absolute nightmare to write dialogue for. His character is from a very rural area, presumably from the Appalachian region of Georgia. His dialect is very similar to the one from my own region of Appalachia, yet somewhat different in a way I have yet to pinpoint. His speech also relies heavily on his emotions. When he’s angry, he talks very fast as his accent becomes three time thicker than normal. When he’s talking quietly, his accent is still noticeable, yet becomes closer to “basic Southern.”

Here is an example of angry Daryl dialogue:

“The monkey suits went out when the dead started walkin’,” Daryl snapped. “An’ what goes on ‘tween me an’ Carol ain’t none’a your damn business… An’ I ain’t traipsin’ ’bout in no suit jus’ so the rest’a y’all can feel better about it!”

Now compare that to quiet Daryl:

“Last night, I had this dream… I was leavin’ the house to go huntin’, and when I got to the porch, I saw somethin’ in the garden. I thought it mighta been a geek, so I got ready to shoot it. But it wa’n’t no walker. It was this doe standing in the corn.”

(Both from The Doe and the Corn)

It took a lot of studying to get the dialogue perfected. I’m pretty sure I’ve watched “Cherokee Rose,” “Triggerfinger,” and “Beside the Dying Fire” more than anyone else just so I could study Daryl’s accent. If I had been writing an original character, I could have simply used the accent from my area. Because fanfiction uses borrowed characters, I have to try to stay as close to the character as possible.

Writing fanfiction is such an underrated challenge. So many “real” writers look down upon it as though it were an unworthy pastime. Considering some of the fanfiction I’ve read, I’m inclined to agree to a certain extent, but there are just as many bad fanfiction writers as there are writers of original fiction. What I have written will never bring me a paycheck, either, but I don’t see this as a bad thing. What I lack in revenue, I have made up for in experience and enjoyment. I’m having fun writing with these borrowed characters, and the joy it brings to others is greater than the joy of the positive reviews they leave behind.

The fact my stories have been read by about 400 people in 22 countries doesn’t hurt, either. ^_~

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“Deidra’s News”

11 09 2011

I’m in nursing school now. If I manage to update, it’s just gravy. In the meantime, here’s a tidbit from a novella-esque piece I’me working on. It tells about Deidra’s life before becoming a world-saving hero:

                “You’re sure?” Tobiah asked again.

                Instead of replying, Deidra took his hand and placed it on her stomach. Tobiah couldn’t deny the small swelling of her stomach. She looked up at him with a neutral expression, revealing nothing about her true feelings regarding this unexpected news.

                “How long has it been?”

                “Almost three months,” she replied.

                A slow smile spread across his face. A man of few words, he simply rubbed his hand against her stomach. “A rainy season baby,” he murmured. “Good chances of surviving the snowy season.”

              Deidra’s mask faded as she smiled at him. Several moments passed as they basked in the reality of the news. They had been husband and wife for three seasons now, and by some standards, this announcement would be long overdue. Deidra had yet to worry. She was still reveling in the joy of being the bride of the most eligible bachelor in Reju. To be his wife and the mother of his child only brightened her heart. Only one worry threatened to dampen her spirits.

                 “Do you think Ophilia will be pleased?”

                Tobiah’s smile broadened. “Mother will be very pleased.”





Baking Adventures

8 07 2011

My poor little hobby blog has been severely neglected. Pre-nursing classes will do that, though. When I do have free time, I spend it baking. I’ve found that I kind of rock at baking, especially muffins and other sweet breads. Today, I baked Pineapple Bread! However, the comments on this recipe had lots of different tips about making the bread better than the original. Here is my final recipe:

Ingrediants

2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 can (20 oz) of crushed pineapple (I used pineapple rings ran through a blender)
1 tsp vanilla  extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Because I lacked crushed pineapple, I drained one can of pineapple rings (save the juice!!!) and pureed them in a blender. Set aside until Step #4
  3. In a medium sized bowl, beat eggs. Add butter and sugar, then beat until smooth
  4. Mix in pineapple and vanilla extract.
  5. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt
  6. Stir wet ingredients into the large bowl
  7. Pour batter into a greased pan. I used a bread pan.
  8. Bake at 350 F for 55 minutes
  9. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan. Use a butter knife to loosen the sides.
  10. Cool and wrap
Pineapple bread unglazed(Click for larger image)
The bread is more cake-like than anything, but really good. I added some glaze to make it more interesting and it turned out amazingly well, in my opinion.
~*~
Highly Recommended Pineapple Glaze
1/2 cup butter
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
6+ tbs crushed pineapple (I opened a new can to do the glaze)
4+ tbs pineapple juice
  1. Because I lacked powdered sugar, I ran granulated sugar through the blender 1/2 cup at a time. I also combined the 1/2 cup brown sugar (I ran out of white and had to substitute) and 1/2 cup of white sugar in the blender.
  2. Cream butter and sugar until well blended
  3. Stir in pineapple and pineapple juice to taste
  4. Do not add to bread until it is out of the pan. Spread liberally all over the top of the bread.
  5. Wait about 5 minutes for it to cool.
  6. Slice bread and enjoy!
Pineapple bread glazed
~*~
Pineapple bread glazed
It’s okay to be jealous, but you could always make your own. This is a seriously easy recipe and I encourage everyone to give it a try. Feel free to pass along this recipe, too! Linking back here would be really awesome, though. I’m kind of an attention fiend like that. 😉
Eat up and enjoy!




Random Inspiration

12 06 2011

Whenever I’m bored with the internet and need new things to do online (read: ways to avoid writing), I usually turn to StumbleUpon. Usually, I look at recipes, read about religions, 100 little known facts about the human body, or play a webgame until I’m ready to punch my computer in the face with frustration. Totem Destroyer is a personal favorite.

Today, though, I came across a website that gives you random quotes. The first quote to come up was from Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.

One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. “Which road do I take?” she asked. “Where do you want to go?” was his response. “I don’t know,” Alice answered. “Then,” said the cat, “it doesn’t matter.”

I believe the same could be said for my story that I’ve been neglecting to write anything about the last several weeks. I’ve been so focused on deciding on plots and direction that I’ve forgotten to just write. At this stage of writing, direction doesn’t matter. I can always go back and revise my plot and figure out the kinks later. For now, I  need to stretch my writing muscles and get back into the habit.

Also, I’m on level 20 of Totem Destroyer.





“The Captain’s Speech”

10 04 2011

I’ve never written a story involving a military in it, let alone included a scene where a captain must urge his men into a dangerous situation. This was a difficult scene to write, but I think it turned out rather well.

In this scene, the Xenna Corporation has finally captured the elusive Dragon Summoner, Cailie. She is a powerful woman, believed to be something of a voodoo woman in the modern era. Her magical powers are the subject of many horror stories told to children and adults alike. The soldiers are afraid of coming face-to-face with this woman after a lifetime of hearing stories about her. Captain Donavan Wolfe gives his speech to prepare his men for the encounter:

The majority of the men saluted while others had yet to notice the commanding officer through their nervousness. “Gentlemen, these walls are lined with mytheril and reinforced steel,” Donavan continued. “There are eight gateways the truck must pass through in order to reach this room, each of those guarded by a small platoon of men like you. Yet do you fool yourselves into thinking that if all hell breaks loose, you can just shoot her?

“She is worth more than every life in this building. She is worth more than our lives, our laboratories, our research, and anything you can possibly place a monetary value upon. Even if by some prayer of a chance you DID manage to shoot her and bring the situation back under control, it will be every head in this docking bay that will be served to the President on a silver platter if she is harmed.

“It has taken decades to track down the last Summoner’s heir after some fool felt it necessary to put a bullet in her head while she slept. No one knew the whereabouts of her sister, or if she was even still alive. If it took us this long to find a known heir, you can only imagine how difficult it would be for us to find the next in line. We’re outta sisters and intelligence has yet to find any offspring. Kill this Summoner and we’re F.U.B.A.R., and I will personally see that the person who creates more paperwork for me finds him or herself on permanent sewer detail.”

Donavan turned to a very nervous looking lab technician stationed by the door. “I want tranquilizers, and I want them in abundance. Every man here will be armed with tranq-guns and a religious text of their choice. If we can’t sedate her, god is all we’ve got left.”





Sceneshot Sunday: Issue #1

27 03 2011

While many writers are taking place in the Sunday Six Challenge, I am once again going against the grain and blazing my own trail. I tried doing the Sunday Six, but it just wasn’t working out for me. I liked the challenge, but it felt too limiting, especially for someone like me who is just coming out of a *mumble* long writing hiatus.

Instead of the Sunday Six, I present to you a little thing I call “Sceneshot Sunday.” Every Sunday that I’m not distracted by something else, I will present to you a small scene from one of my works, usually no more than a few short paragraphs. I think some people do this for “Teaser Tuesday,” but like I said, I’m a writing rebel! Phooey on the already established norms!

Last week, I had mentioned sharing the full version of Dee and Jimmy’s kiss from my “Untitled Epic Book Series,” alias “The Jade Stories.” However, I haven’t gotten around to polishing that scene just yet. Instead, here’s a scene from a work I have been polishing a little. It’s from a work-in-progress I’ve entitled “All She Has Left.”

In this scene, Grant Banner attends the wake of the husband of his old friend, Julie Wright, with whom he’s lost contact with after grad school. After five years had passed, Grant finally sees Julie for the first time as she is hiding in her bedroom, trying to escape the family and friends who filled her house with good intentions, but little privacy.

“So, um… How are you?”

Well, that was original, Banner, he winced.

Julie sniffled faintly. “I’ve been better. Things have been pretty crazy around here and… and…”

When she hesitated, Grant began to worry he’d said something to trigger even more tears. Instead crying, however, Julie finally lifted her head as she turned to face her old friend. The corners of her mouth twitched upwards in the attempt of a smile. Her eyes were red–no doubt from the last two sleepless nights–while dark circles hung like crescents beneath her eyes. Her hair was pulled back into a single braid that missed her waist by mere centimeters. The black dress she wore made her face pale as milk. Make-up smeared from crying stained her cheeks, but her forest green eyes were strong and she was as beautiful as ever, but why did any of this surprise him?

“Do you want me to fix you something to eat?”

Grant couldn’t help but smile. She really hadn’t changed a bit.

Like what you’re reading? Want to stalk me? Visit me on Twitter and feel free to steal my idea for #sceneshotsunday if you’d like! Stroke my ego and let me know if you’re giving it a try. Until next time, folks!





Another Belated Sunday Six

21 03 2011

Let’s be honest here for a moment, folks… I suck at deadlines. If my life/grade doesn’t depend on it, I will probably be late when it comes to producing something. Whether it’s mailing something out on time or posting six sentences, chances are it will be late.

But enough about me. Let’s talk about this little paragraph from my story. This is a scene I’ve had bouncing around in my head for a long time. Dee and Jimmy are my favorite couple in all of the stories I’ve ever written. The love/hate tension between them builds and festers for a long time before Jimmy finally makes the first move. I know it might come off as Jimmy being a major jerk in this scene, but… well, he kind of is, but for “good” reasons I haven’t told anyone yet.

Also, this segment happens to be seven sentences, not six. No matter how I rephrased everything, the seventh sentence had to stay. I also refused to remove any of the others. I really like this little “sceneshot,” and I hope you do, too. It starts in the middle of a rant Dee is unloading on Jimmy for being “reckless, arrogant, self-absorbed” and the like when he suddenly cuts her off mid-sentence…

(It also helps to listen to “Hanging By a Moment” by Lifehouse when you read this. I wrote this while listening to it, just fyi.)

Without warning, Jimmy grabbed her arms and slammed her against the wall. Dee’s eyes grew wide as Jimmy’s lips crushed into her own, bringing her rage to an equally violent halt. He kissed her angrily, almost viciously, with a passion she had never known as his hands squeezed her until she would surely bruise. And yet somehow, her anger had vanished, and  she didn’t care what he did as long as he didn’t stop. Her breath was taken away while her heart pounded against her chest, engulfed in a firy rampage within her thoughts. She hadn’t felt such a surge of emotion since Tobiah—

Finding what was left of herself, Deidra shoved against his chest, cursing under her breath as she turned and hurried away from him. It was too late to hide her tears.

 

You like? I like. Well, sorta. I wish I could include more. As I’ve learned the last three Sundays, “the Sunday six” just isn’t really working for me, at least not on a regular basis. I like the challenge of making every word in every sentence count, but I don’t like cutting my scenes short. I cut this scene short and I’m not too happy about how it turned out.

After Tweeting back and forth with Lexcade a bit, I’ve decided that any writing I share here will be along the lines of “Teaser Tuesday,” or maybe make it my own by calling it “Sceneshot Sunday.” I don’t really know yet what I’ll call it or when I’ll post it, but I do know Mondays are better writing/blogging days for me than any other. I think for my first post, I’ll share the full sceneshot from above. This really doesn’t do it justice.

Tune in next time, folks.