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Messages - Misty.Mikes

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1
Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: Fantasy Indiana Jones?
« on: July 08, 2015, 02:23:34 PM »
I think Lindsay Buroker has a series like this. I believe I'm thinking of the Rust & Relics series, and when I look at her website, she even references Indiana Jones in the book's blurb.

For that matter, though, the Emperor's Edge series definitely has elements of this, too. 

The former is (as I recall) urban fantasy and the latter is steampunk.  Both are worth checking out.  :) 

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Writers' Corner / Re: The efficacy of Wattpad
« on: July 02, 2015, 07:06:09 AM »
I have an account on Wattpad, but to be honest, I don't really use it.  But I kind of suck at social media... 

I'm interested to hear what authors who have "stuck it out" have to say! 

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Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: SF/F set in the Middle East
« on: July 02, 2015, 07:00:35 AM »
Not sure if this is the right vein or not, but isn't The Alchemist by Coelho largely set in the Middle East? 

Some of Mercedes Lackey's works have a distinctly Egyptian or Middle Eastern feel to them, in spite of being set in alternate worlds.  The Dragon Jousters series is what I thought of first, but then I also remembered that she did a similar thing in her Valdemar universe, though I honestly can't remember which books feature that particular country.  I want to say Karse?  Don't quote me on that.  :) 


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Writers' Corner / Re: Annoying Reading
« on: July 02, 2015, 06:50:51 AM »
Female characters who are described as "tough" or "strong", only to immediately qualify that with, "But not as strong as a guy.  Obviously." 

Apologies to anyone who might like this series, but the Mercy Thompson books come to mind as the worst offender I've seen. 

In the very first page, we are introduced to a woman running a garage (that she of course only owns because it was gifted to her by her male former employer). By the end of the page, all we know about Mercy is that she's totally strong and independent.... but not as strong as a Big Strong Man, and therefore is having trouble with this Very Important Engine Repair.  :P 

Give me a break. 

By the end of the book, all of the important plot events have been driven by the actions of male secondary characters.  In fact, there were several times where I was forced to endure sitting and listening to a scene that was all about Mercy's squishy girl feelings while there were far more interesting things being done off-screen by other characters. 

That is not a strong female character, if you ask me.  That is a fragile flower cosplaying as a biker chick. 

Needless to say, I did not pick up the next book!  XD

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Writers' Corner / Re: Personal spelling habits
« on: June 30, 2015, 05:36:39 AM »
I can't really get on board the train of "I don't like this rule and it doesn't make sense to me, therefore I'm not going to use it, and then it will become common usage." 

It's just too much of a risk for me, especially with something like dropping the apostrophe for a possessive.  Too many people will assume your work is sloppy if you do that. 

It goes back to the old golden rule of writing critique groups everywhere:  If you have to explain it, then you didn't do your job.  It doesn't matter what you intended if the audience didn't see it. 

The only way I could see this working would be if you preface your book with a note about possessives, explaining your reasoning for leaving it out (like I sometimes see with gendered language in some nonfiction books).  But for something like this, I think you run the risk of coming off as pretentious and condescending, unless the whole appeal of your book is the pretentiousness of it (hey, there are books like that out there, and they can do well when they find their audience!) 

Though to be honest, if I picked up a book with a preface like that, I might assume it was a very dry joke.  And I would be disappointed if the book wasn't a comedy.  :)  So it's probably best to stick with what most of your readers will understand and not be distracted by, and leave the grammar debates for the grammar textbooks.

Anyway, yeah, English is hard. 

PS: French diction isn't that hard to wrap your head around.  Not even close to English.  English speakers just freak out because in English, when there's a weird group of letters like "ough" or "ieau", it's an exception.  So to English speakers, French at first glance appears to be made up entirely of exceptions.  :)  Once you learn the rules, I feel like French behaves pretty consistently.

Then again, that may be because a lot of the borrowed words in common usage for French seem to be borrowed either from English, or the same place that English borrowed them from.  If you're learning French when your native language is Japanese, they might be equally difficult.  :P 

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Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: Books about the ranger
« on: June 30, 2015, 04:55:50 AM »
Quote
I think you point out one of the things that intrigues me about the kind of character I am talking about - the individualism, the ruggedness, and also the self-sufficiency. I enjoy spending time in the outdoors myself, so reading about characters in the premodern setting of so much fantasy and the skills they use to survive in the wilderness is particularly interesting.

Definitely check out The Martian, in that case.  :)  It's one of the most well-written books I've seen in awhile, and you don't get much more rugged, self-sufficient individual than "Astronaut explorer trapped on Mars with only the leftover supplies from a mission intended to only last 30 days." 

I know, it's scifi and this is a fantasy forum...  So if you're strictly a fantasy reader, you may not like it.  But for myself, I often find a lot of parallels between sci fi and fantasy, so I tend to read both equally, if they're well done. 

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I have to agree with most of the people here.... POV shifts can work, but they need to be planned out, and in most cases, brought in from the very beginning.  Normally, sudden shifts of style late in the book annoy me, too.

But like just about everything else, if you can pull it off, it can work.  The example that comes to mind is The Help.  (Not fantasy, I know, but I couldn't think of an example in the fantasy genre). Most of the book is in first-person, jumping between three different narrators.  Then, there's a climactic scene at the end that suddenly shifts to third-person omniscient.  Yes, it's jarring.... But that's kind of what makes it work for me, because of the context.  You need the third-person POV for that scene to "work". 

It probably also helps that in the case of The Help, the technique is used very sparingly.  There's nothing else particularly unusual about the way the book is structured, and it's only a one-chapter diversion before returning to the original style that the author had established.  For me, it was effective.

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Writers' Corner / Re: Looking for Cool Dragon Alternatives.
« on: June 28, 2015, 05:33:47 PM »
Quote
What about a shapeless cloud of gloom that crystallizes the Hero's fears and worst nightmares? Not in the Harry Potter sense of it, but in a more psychological dread feeling, a subconscious invasion, where your hero is almost powerless to overcome the monster physically.

This gave me goosebumps just reading the idea.  XD 

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Writers' Corner / Re: Are you an explorer or an architect?
« on: June 28, 2015, 05:31:25 PM »
The only thing that stays consistent from one project to the next is that my process is never exactly the same.  :)  But that's probably me.  I'm always trying to improve my approach! 

My most successful projects start with exploring.  Then, somewhere along the way I have to take the material that I've built through exploring, and start engineering it into something "pretty".  Once I have a framework designed, I explore my way to a final project.

So I guess I'm kind of like that guy who grows the chairs out of trees.  XD http://www.bbc.com/news/business-33161109

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If you're looking for a good vampire novel, I must recommend Those Who Hunt the Night by Barbara Hambly.  It's historical, but it's one of the few novels I've read where the vampires were depicted in a way that actually made sense to me.  They are most definitely villains, but they are treated with a subtlety that I've rarely seen.  (And I don't normally like vampire books!) 

As far as books where the magical elements are rare and mysterious and creepy, several come to mind:

Alice Hoffman's Turtle Moon
Jonathan Carroll's Land of Laughs
Martin Millar's Good Fairies of New York
Lindsay Buroker's Rust & Relics series  (as far as I can recall...I've only read the first, and it was awhile ago, but I like her steampunk series, so I know she's a good author!)
Dean Koontz's Life Expectancy


There are other well-written books I could think of, but after this they start edging into the "crowded" style that the OP was talking about. 

PS: Sometimes if you search 'magical realism', you get better results than searching for 'urban fantasy'.  Especially if you're not looking for vampires/werewolves/elves/etc...  You just end up having to filter through self-indulgent lit fic instead of sparkly vampires with rippling pecs.  ;) 

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Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: Books about the ranger
« on: June 27, 2015, 06:22:45 AM »
You might try the Farseer books by Robin Hobb, if you haven't already. It's been a few years since I read them, and I remember generally liking them.  The central character is an assassin, but I seem to remember him being a very outdoorsy type, with a magical power that allowed him to talk to animals.  (Though I always felt he paled in comparison to the Fool....  But that's just me!)  There are definitely parts of that series that involve traveling in the wilderness.

I also seem to remember that Mercedes Lackey had some books with scout/ranger types, if you like her work.  Certainly many of her books involve travel through the wilderness. I haven't read any of her work since high school, so I can't vouch for whether they held up over time, but I'd start by looking at the Owl Mage trilogy.  Darkwind is also a scout-like character, so you might like the Mage Winds trilogy (and any subsequent series that features Darkwind or the Tayledras).   

It occurs to me that what you're liking about the hunter/ranger type might be the rugged individualism aspect of it.  If that's the case and you're willing to venture outside of high fantasy, you might try the Iron Druid books, or even The Martian.  These both feature strong male protagonists, both with a pretty good sense of humor. 

Iron Druid features a lot of nature magic, and the main character functions much like a scout/ranger does, in terms of how he chooses to fight.  At least, it seems that way to me.  There are also parts of the series that take place in the wilderness (though I can't think off the top of my head if that's the first book or later books).

The Martian is scifi, but it's very much a "castaway" story.  Lone guy, stranded away from civilization, has to use his wits to survive using only the supplies he has on hand, in an environment that is hostile to human habitation.

I think that's all I can think of off the top of my head!  However, if you give more information about what aspect of the hunter/ranger trope is most appealing to you, I might think of more.  :) 

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Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: Slavery in fantasy
« on: June 27, 2015, 05:52:42 AM »
For my two cents, I think the problem with "slavery" is largely one of grammar, as madfox11 touched on in their comment.  The word has a lot of baggage for modern audiences because of the Civil War era, but the Civil War era notion of slavery doesn't necessarily match what slavery has looked like for other cultures in history.  Furthermore, there are plenty of cases where humans interact in a way that looks an awful lot like slavery, but the culture as a whole fails to acknowledge it as such.

Even in modern culture, I think you will find that we have plenty of cases where there is a huge power differential, with the subjugated person in the relationship having little or no choice to escape. What is that if not a type of slavery?  It appears to be an essential aspect of human society, since it appears wherever complex human societies develop.

Prostitutes vs. Pimps
Debtors vs. Creditors
Retail workers vs. CEOs
Abused spouses vs. their abusers
Addicts vs. Dealers
Etc....

Ever paid attention to what happens when workers try to unionize?  :)  It may be economic or psychological restraints rather than chains and whips, but it's no less effective. (Sometimes more so, if you can convince the weaker party that this system is right and good.) 

I think if you try to create a fictional society without these relationships, you risk creating a society that doesn't "feel" real. 

If the word has baggage that is going to interfere with the understanding of your story, you can always use something else.  :)  It's all about the reaction you want from your audience.  If you want them to associate it with Civil War era slavery, then call it slavery. Otherwise, find some other way to describe it. 

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Introductions / Re: Newbody Happy Dance
« on: June 27, 2015, 05:25:54 AM »
@Eclipse: Haha, I draw a lot of inspiration from Iron Druid and Dresden Chronicles (I love that quirky first-person style they have!).  I haven't read Alex Verus, so it sounds like I have something new to check out.  :)  I have to agree about female leads.  I'm always searching for a good UF with a female lead, but I've yet to find one that isn't secretly paranormal romance.  (Which.... no offense to anyone who likes it, but definitely not for me.   :P)  Writing a "real" UF with a female lead is on my list of future projects, but I have my doubts about how to market it, since everyone automatically assumes that an UF with a female lead is going to go in a certain direction. 

Anyway, I will definitely check out the UF forum!

@Henry Dale: Viva la revolution de magie!  ;D 

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Introductions / Re: Newbody Happy Dance
« on: June 26, 2015, 04:25:42 AM »
Thanks Eclipse!  :) 

It's urban fantasy!  It's about two brothers who belong to a secret organization dedicated to the eradication of magic from the world, and their various adventures. 

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Introductions / Re: Newbody Happy Dance
« on: June 25, 2015, 10:22:01 PM »
Haha, well.  Serious doesn't have to be boring.   ;D

Thanks for the welcome!  I'm putting a whole lot of effort into finishing the rewrite of this novel, since I really want to have it finished by the end of August.  Right now I'm actually writing this while waiting for my brain to cool down so that I can polish the last thing I wrote and move on to the next thing.

However, when I finally get ahead, I'll definitely look at the writing contest.  It sounds fun!

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