Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Tuesday Tales: New First 350



It's been ages (or at least 2 months) since I last did a Tuesday Tales. I've set the 2nd Tuesday after IWSG aside for Character Q&As, short stories, and conversations with my characters. This time around, I will share the new first 350 words of my manuscript Fractured Princess, which has had a big change to establish Ghuli's wants and needs. I hadn't really delved into them before, but I'm participating in a critique group over at Agent Query Connect, and they've really helped me think deeper about making Ghuli more active. It's a fun opening. Most drafts, Ghuli is just playing in the trees, but this time, she's doing something a little more serious.


So, without further ado, here we go.


-----------




I usually went to the Forest of Weeping Willows whenever I needed a moment of peace. Space would have also been nice. My adopted brother and Watchman Cyan only stood a couple hundred yards away on the Eastern Road, pretending to give me time to myself before we went to the market. Apparently, my turning seventeen meant nothing to him. I was old enough to know how far away from the manor to go, which engine sounds to listen for. I wasn’t going to let one of the Contagion catch me off guard.


I shuddered at the thought.


All right. Cyan could stay.


Howbeit, if a vicious stray elk happened by, I could fight it myself. I looked down at the pages of fighting techniques on the tree stump to my right, committed the moves to memory, and focused on the three knotted ropes of willow switches in front of me. Crystal Soldiers had been known for their graceful fighting techniques. As a Crystal Bearer, something in me had to be graceful, too.


I pushed the willow ropes in different directions so they would swing back and forth. Then, I unsheathed the branch I had tucked into my sleeve, advanced on the nearest rope as it swung back towards me, and thrust at the central knot. Its leaves rustled as it bounced against my makeshift sword. I pushed it again and pivoted around the second rope swinging back at me from the right. I slashed at its back then spun around to perform what the pages called an empty fade and attack--one leap back, guard, one larger leap forward, thrust--against the third rope. I was certain Crystal Soldiers leapt higher. I could work on it.


“Ghuli,” Cyan called.


“Still here,” I called back as I kicked the rope away.


I glimpsed the first switches returning and tried the jump spin I’d studied. Several leaves fluttered off their switches with my overhand slash. As I reveled in my successful attack, the second group of switches bumped into my back. I sighed.


“And now I’m dead.”



Friday, August 11, 2017

Final Fantasy Friday: I Finished FFXV

Me on Monday: I should schedule my post.
Me on Tuesday: I should start my post. Friday will be here before I know it.
Me on Wedensday: I should write my post tomorrow.
Me on Thursday: ....
Me on Friday: Oh, crap, my post!




So, I'm bad at this. haha This is usually the week I share what I'm reading with you, but I hadn't picked up The Handmaid's Tale for about two weeks, so I needed to finish that (thank God, I finished it. It was blah), BUT last Saturday, I took the time to finish Final Fantasy XV which, because I was Level 72, took me about an hour, less time than it took me to fight the adamantoise (which took me close to 3 hours).




As I explained in my post about the homages in this game (CLICK), Noctis is told he has to sacrifice himself to get light back into the world. That takes 10 years, so he comes out looking like a cleaner version of this. We had just fought Ifrit here, so he's a little covered in smoke and ash. He's telling his friends to walk tall (though they also don't make it, which I didn't realize until I read someone's explanation of the ending), and he goes inside to fight the darkness, Ardyn Izunia, formerly known as Ardyn Lucis Caelum, Noct's millions-great-grandfather or uncle, something close.

Long story short, Ardyn was supposed to be king thousands of years ago, but he was used to destroy daemons by sucking them into his soul, and he because he was corrupted, he was basically banished. So, obviously, he wants vengeance on the kingdom of Lucis, which he successfully starts at the beginning of the game by having King Regis killed.

I'm awesome, so I defeated Ardyn with no problems lol. But dear God, the end sequences. With a nod to FFVII's Knights of the Round, the past kings, Noct, Luna, Gladio, Prompto, and Ignis all band together in the afterlife to get rid of Ardyn for good, and the World of Ruin (another nod to FFVI) finally ends after 10 years. The credits roll, and we get a conversation around the campfire that brings me to tears. Of course, it's the first time Noct has seen his friends in 10 years, and then, they're on their last mission together before they all go off to die.



Even with the hundreds of side quests, I give this game a 10. Not an FFX 10, but a solid 10 nonetheless lol. The graphics were gorgeous, the music was awesome. I loved the bond the guys had (seeing them do special link attacks together made me so giddy), and because there are so many other things attached to this game (Kingsglaive, Carnival, Episodes), I love the versatility. I even liked the battle system, and I'm very pro-turn based fighting.

I could see a sequel coming from this, but God, I hope they don't do it. Maybe another movie, where we know what happens now that there is no king anymore. I want to know how the world can go on. I could see them worshiping Noct and Luna, and they have the ability to appear at will. Mainly because of the last video clip they gave us to send off the end of the game. Screenshot here:



They finally get to be together. My heart. Be still.

I can also see this being the last game of the franchise. They did so many homages and CDs we could listen to of the old games. It was epic, and I don't think they would be able to top this one with another game. It's the best one since X. I'll play again eventually. Not for a few years, though. It took a toll on my spirit. lol

Once you finish, you get an updated logo on the main screen, where it used to just be the girl, you realize after the above sequence, that it's Luna. Then, Noct's little sleepy body appears, and Fin. *sigh* Such a good game. I'm going to play the end again just because. :)



In my next Final Fantasy Friday, I should have played Episode Gladiolus and at least started Episode Prompto, so I'll let you know how those turned out.


Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

IWSG: Happy August!


I almost forgot it was time for IWSG! Last month went by so quickly.

I had a very chill birthday with a road trip to Tennessee before it and a trip to our state's only ramen shop after it. I didn't even have cake. But mochi ice cream is amazing.

We're at the halfway point of Agent Query Connect's Speculative Fiction Group's Summer Marathon, and I can't believe the things I've been able to change in my manuscript. It's inspiring. I hope this is my last draft before an agent says yes, though.

I hope everyone else enjoyed their July. I miss it already...but I don't miss the heat.

This month's optional question is: What are your pet peeves when reading/writing/editing?

I hate coming across something when editing that not only is a continuity error but that I have to do a huge overhaul on a portion of the story to fix. It makes me mad at myself. I had to take an entire scene out of my story because of a very obvious geographical error I made on a world I made up. Who does that?!

Feel free to join us in this blog hop at the IWSG Website and be sure to visit our lead Ninja Alex J. Cavanaugh and the co-hosts for the month. Hope to see some of you soon!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

See You In August!

Good morning! I'm taking a break from blogging g for the next few weeks, so I will see you all for IWSG in August! Happy Summer!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

IWSG: Lessons!



Happy Wednesday!

I keep thinking it's Monday because I didn't work yesterday, and though I said I'd schedule a post Tuesday, I forgot.

It is already the first Wednesday of July! On this day, we insecure writers throw our doubts into the wind and discuss our insecurities, give a little encouragement, etc. Visit Alex J. Cavanuagh, sensei, and stop by the official website to join the fun!

I'm currently participating in AgentQueryConnect's Summer Marathon for the Speculative Fiction group, so I have 3-4 eyes looking at my manuscript at the same time. I'm so glad for it. Hopefully, I can start querying again by the end of the year. I don't want to polish this thing raw, but I do want it presentable and agentable.

It is also my birthday month, yay! I will be in Tennessee for a couple of days of that week, and I look forward to all of my shows and the summer movies coming out that week: Game of Thrones, Insecure, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.

This month's optional IWSG question is: What is one valuable lesson you've learned since you started writing?

I learned to not be so stubborn when others critique my work. Not to say the "grow a thick skin bull" people always tell you, because some people can be mean and condescending when they look at your work, and you shouldn't have to put up with that. I'm talking about when people are giving good, honest feedback. I had to learn to handle that, and now I see others struggling with the same thing, so I try to let them know when they need to stop pushing back at critiques they receive. It makes things a lot easier, and reduces your amount of drafts, so LEARN EARLY.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Final Fantasy Friday: FFXV & Homages


It is the 5th Friday, but the 4th Friday after IWSG, so that means it is time for Final Fantasy Friday!

As you know, I've been playing Final Fantasy XV, a very intricate game for new and old fans. I'm finally at a point where I have no choice but to stop and do side quests to level up because I am on the final chapter of the game, which was actually the beginning of the game, so now I understand what the heck was happening.

So at this juncture, I have to stop and talk about a few of the homages to the other games that blew my mind. FFIX had homages, too (the crystal returned, skill-based mages designated by colors, etc.), but there was one in particular in FFXV that I didn't realize until I was saying it out loud (it's coming up in a few). So let's go through a few.

1) Light vs. Dark

I think a few of the early Final Fantasy games always dealt with a time where Warriors of the Light had to be called to battle away the overwhelming darkness. FFIII and FFIV are the ones that come to mind most. FFXV is a huge battle of light vs. dark. Noctis (night) from the kingdom of Lucis (light). lol Night Light. OOH, or Knight of Light! I just caught that play on words. Everything in this game revolves around keeping the lights on because if you don't, daemons emerge, and they're quite scary.

2) FFXV Prompto / FFVII Cloud



The top one is Prompto Argentum, super goofy friend of Noctis who has a dark creation story (he was genetically engineered like all of the imperial troopers we've been fighting the entire game, see Homage 4). The parallel is obvious if you know anything about FFVII. Cloud Strife (on the bottom) was a genetically enhanced trooper. Visually, they're that waify blue-eyed figure with the weird spiky blond hair and the permanent pout.

3) Keycard Access

Still looking at FFVII, as I said in the last Final Fantasy Friday, I was in this creepy dark town Gralea trying to save Prompto. I end up in a lab, Zegnatus Keep, where I need keycards to get to the next floor. In the first disc of FFVII (wow, anyone remember where you bought 3-4 disc video games? lol), I take Cloud through Shinra Lab, and I need to fight soldiers all through the place and find the one with the keycard to the next floor. It was very reminiscent of the first time I played FFVII. I really appreciated it.

4) The monsters are people.

In Zegnatus Keep, there are reports all over the lab where I learn that the daemons I fight whenever I'm out in the dark and while I was walking all through this God-forsaken place, I learned the empire was growing magitek (the imperial troopers) by infecting humans with a daemon pathogen (WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG). The side-effect was a lot of people turned into full out daemons. In FFVII, in a flashback with Cloud and Sephiroth, we go to Nibelheim to fix a leak in a reactor. The leak was causing monsters to sprout around town. Sephiroth tells Cloud to look into one of the pods sitting in the reactor. There's a monster in there. (Run-on alert) Not only is it a monster, it's a human injected with alien cells to make it a superhuman not knowing the result could be an alien, because it's actually Jenova alien juice that is coming through the reactor, because the stupid Shinra empire thought Jenova was an Ancient and wanted to create more Ancients and ended up with Sephiroth! So they thought they could make more.

5) Bahamut ruins your life.



I actually posted the first video somewhere, most likely last year's A-to-Z. In my favorite Final Fantasy game, FFX, the group reaches a wall filled with people, fayth, who the team thinks is being used to summon something huge. When Tidus touches it, he faints and meets the fayth who became Bahamut (top). He tells Tidus the fayth are actually people and summoners from the old machina war. They became fayth to keep the dream of Zanarkand alive. Now they're tired, and because Tidus is from the dream world and touched Sin, the monster created by the bad guy in the game, he will be able to defeat the whole thing so the fayth can all rest. Of course, that means, they'll stop dreaming, so Tidus, as part of that dream, will also disappear. FFX has the most heartbreaking game ending I've ever had to sit through (FFVII Crisis Core was the most traumatizing, if you're a fan who happened to stumble here via hashtag).

In FFXV, at the heart of the Zegnatus Keep is a crystal, which Noct gets sucks into. There he meets Bahamut, who tells a wonderful story about how one of my ancestors, who is currently roaming the world infected by daemon juice, can only be destroyed by Noct, and by doing so, Noct must gain "Providence" which entails giving up his life. So he must die to save the world. I'm pretty sure the devs did that as a nod to FFX. Bahamut, wielder of flare magic and bearer of bad news. Of course, I haven't gotten to the end yet, so I don't know how this plays out (and don't tell me!). But I will say this is also reminiscent of FFX in that both games have you take this journey to gain more power to defeat the enemy by way of sacrificing yourself! That's what the summoners did in FFX.

6) FFX "Suteki da Ne" / FFXV "Somnus"

This one you have to hear to understand, so just push play. ;)


Push it again.



The quintessential song from FFX is "Suteki da Ne" (Isn't it Wonderful). It's a beautiful song, and very light in its sound and singer. An instrumental version of "Somnus"(Sleep) is the first thing you hear when you turn on FFXV, and if you can't hear the similarity, I worry for you. But what you should also notice is the difference in the tone of the song. It's darker, much sadder. The singer is a rich alto vs. SDN's tinny soprano. I also like how FFXV is almost telling FFX to sleep, which is really what the fayth are doing in FFX!

All right, geek out over. I was very excited to see these nods to earlier Final Fantasy games, and I can't wait to finish and see if the ending wrecks my soul or makes me incredibly happy and excited to play the Gladio and Prompto DLCs. Be sure I'll let you know.

I won't see you before IWSG, so have a great weekend, and enjoy your 4th of July!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Liebster Award 2017

 
 
I usually set aside the third week of the month for Tuesday Tales, but I've been nominated for the Liebster Award!! Thank you so much to The Manic Writer Shannon. I was shocked to see that in the comments. It's good to know people actually stop by here lol.
 
Here are the rules for the Liebster:
 
  • Thank the person who nominated you for the award.
  • Answer the 11 questions the person asked you.
  • Nominate 11 people (comment on their blog to let them know)
  • Ask the people you have nominated 11 questions
  •  
    So, I won't waste anymore time. Let's get into these questions!
    1. How did you get started writing? Back in the 1st Grade, they handed out blank books for us all to tell a story in. I told a weird biography/fiction about my older sister lol. But after that, X-Men: The Animated Series came out, and I loved those characters and the stories so much that I tried to do a teenage version for about 7 years. I keep trying to revamp it, but we'll see what happens.
    2. What do you love most about being a writer/blogger? I love when fresh new ideas come into my head and I can actually execute them into something tangible on "paper." It's exciting.
    3. What do you hate most about it? When the well is dry. lol I don't know if it's because of my age, because I remember writing down countless ideas as a teenager, but now, maybe because the many directions adulthood pulls your mind, the ideas don't flow as well as they used to.
    4. If you don’t write full time, how do you manage your writing time and still feel productive? When I have down time at work, I try to sneak in some writing. Wherever or whenever the ideas come, I try to hold onto them long enough for me to write them out.
    5. What helps you organize your writing work the most? Organize? What is that word? Is it real? ;) I'm a pantser, so there's almost no organization when I write. Whatever comes comes, no matter where it falls in the plot.
    6. Name your inspiration. Another author you look up to? A teacher who encouraged you? Someone else? I discovered Octavia Butler in college, and just to read some of the things she said made me feel great to know it wasn't just me who was thought to be weird for writing speculative fiction. I also look up to N.K. Jemisin; her writing has changed my life and made me so hopeful!
    7. If you are having trouble settling down to write what is your go to so you can make it work? See question 4. lol
    8. Do you write at home or away from home? If away, where? I write wherever I can.
    9. Do you let family read your work? I used to. I'm not sure that they're all that interested anymore.
    10. What is your favorite book? Why should I read it? Read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. Read the whole trilogy! The Broken Kingdoms is my favorite of the three books, but sometimes you need context, so start at The Hundred.
    11. What one piece of advice would you offer to someone who just discovered they want to be a writer? Keep writing and start learning.
     
    Questions I have for my nominees:
     
    1. What was the first thing you remember writing?
    2. What was the first book you remember reading?
    3. What are you currently reading?
    4. Do you like movie adaptations of books? Why or why not?
    5. (Might be a trick question, but you never know) Was English your favorite subject in school?
    6. What was your very first blog post about?
    7. How has your writing evolved since your first story?
    8. Name an author you couldn't live without reading.
    9. Where is your favorite place to read?
    10. Where is your favorite place to write?
    11. When it comes to writing/blogging where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
     
    And now, my nominees...
    1. The Book Babe
    2. Stephen Tremp
    3. Dani @ Entertaining Interests
    4. Jackie @ Bouquet of Books
    5. Sarah @ The Faux Fountain Pen
    6. EdgyAuthor Heather Holden
    7. Diana Wilder
    8. Molly Blaisdell
    9. Joyce Alton
    10. Madeline @ The Shellshank Redemption 
    11. Donna McDine!