Aesthetic Sunday – “Flightless”

Hello all Aesthetic Sunday folks! Today I raided my Pinterest for everything related to Flightless and slammed them together for some aesthetic fun!

Enjoy! 

Kaitlin Harris
One of the two protagonists in Flightless, and definitely the most important, Kaitlin is an art history major who spends more time in libraries than she does in malls. After her sister’s kidnapped, she’s forced into a world she spent her whole life running from, and come to terms with not being entirely human. 

Christopher Bennet
My second protagonist, Christopher is a disabled winged character (avian), who’s trying to help Kaitlin better understand the avian world. While he too is more of an introverted character, he’s inspired by the way swans act in nature. Christopher knows he’ll never be able to fly, but he hopes he can still protect those who matter most.

 

 

Credit for pictures in the links on my pinterest. Should you see an image that belongs to you that you’d like removed from the post, please contact me and I’ll take it down immediately.

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5 Movies Without Happy Endings

I love movies, and as a writer, there’s nothing I love more than for another writer to surprise me with their plot. One of the biggest plot twists I enjoy are the ones where the hero doesn’t succeed in their end goal, or where they die all together.

Here are 5 great movies without a happy ending. Obviously, there’ll be some spoilers ahead.

Continue reading 5 Movies Without Happy Endings

Book Review #5 – The Scarlet Gospels

I never liked horror growing up, but back in 2012 my friend in Alaska convinced me to read more horror and less urban fantasy. Since then, I’ve been slowly dipping my toe in the genre one spine tingling book at a time. This Book Monday I’m going over the last horror book I read, The Scarlet Gospels by Clive Barker.

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The Scarlet Gospels was released in 2016, and follows the story of the Hell Priest (Pinhead), as he attempts to use magic against unseen enemies while being hunted by Henry D’Amour. D’Amour, a supernatural detective, has to find out what the cenobite is up to before it’s too late for our world, Heaven and Hell.

I’m coming at this review as someone who’s only ever seen the first Hell Raiser movie, so I’m leaving out how a couple of backstory points were lost on me since I hadn’t read the previous books in this universe. That being said, I could still read the book without feeling completely left in the dark, which I think is a great point about this novel. It’s enjoyable for its new audience while still playing to old plots.

The first thing I noticed about this book was that the over all feel of the novel wasn’t horror. Sure some of it was gory and had unsettling imagery, but as a reviewer on Amazon put it, it felt more like a Buffy the Vampire episode than something that was supposed to be a terrifying walk through Hell.

That’s not to say I agree with all of the points in that one star review. It was still enjoyable to see a demon rebel against Hell. Demons are constantly at war with angels, but when they butt heads with one another, it’s always more enjoyable to me. I also enjoyed the banter from the human characters and found it to be a good example of how some people use humor when faced with something they don’t feel like they can comprehend.

I was disappointed with the sudden drop in the Hell Priest’s character, however. For most of the book, he’s violent, but charismatic. While he enjoys pain, there’s something almost Hannibal Lector about him, but then there’s a sudden shift where he becomes so outraged that he lashes out like an indignant child. He doesn’t just take joy in pain, he rushes the abuse of several characters just because he’s mad. It happened so suddenly, I was completely pulled out of the narrative.

I also didn’t care for D’Amour’s character in the final act either. It feels like the first part of the book was written with one plot in mind, and the second was a completely different story. The character went from the cold hardened detective of all things damned. to just another noir inspired cop.

While the characters seemed to fall to the back burner, the plot was fantastic. Anything that reminds me of Dante’s Inferno gets a gold star in my book, and that’s exactly what the last half of the book was. I didn’t care what happened to the characters, I just wanted more descriptions about how Barker envisioned Hell.

That being said, there were a few ex machina points at the that seemed WAY too convenient for someone of Barker’s writing history to be guilty of. For example, they’re lost in the middle of a desert and a car happens to come out of nowhere to help them. Maybe I missed something, or maybe there was something in another book that had more to do with this, but I was left scratching my head going, what the heck? Many of the characters’ journey to get to the final climax point were just too convenient and it just felt like Barker was tired of telling their POV and only wanted to focus on The Hell Priest’s.

Over all, I was torn over what rating to give this book. On one hand, the characters were much more entertaining the first half of the book, but the plot was slow, but then on the other the second half was a great story with lack luster characters. I’d say buy it in paperback if you happen to see it, but don’t go out of your way to pick it up.

 

Did you enjoy The Scarlet Gospels? Have you read other works by Clive Barker? How does it hold up? Comment below and let me know!

Flightless Fan Art – Anthony Ortega

Before I started writing Flightless, I was obsessed with drawing the characters in my winged universe.

Because I spent a lot of time developing the world through art, I wound up getting quite a few pieces of artwork over the years, either as fan art, or in some cases commissions. While I’ve always been active with artists of other mediums, I don’t spend a lot of time talking about Flightless with the writing community.

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Anthony by Kennie

So to open up more about the world I’ve been building, I’m going back to art. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be showing off some of the art I’ve received over the years, in hopes of letting people get to know my universe, as well as my characters. This week’s feature character is Anthony “Tony” Ortega.

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13 y.o. Tony by Sarah Weinberg

Tony, my little Spanish songbird from Cádiz, Spain, and is the youngest character in Flightless. In this universe, humans coexist around winged humanoids called avians. Besides having wings, they’re just like you and me…except for the fact that they have some questionable instincts and strict rules on what’s appropriate and inappropriate behavior.

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I’ll Fly Away by Megan

Tony’s mother is an avian, and his father’s human, so sadly, his wings will never develop for him to fly. In fact they’re significantly smaller than other avian’s his age. His mother was supposed to have gotten rid of him at birth, because it’d be kinder to him in their culture in the long run, but instead, she gives him to an avian who lost his wings, William.

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Getting Ready by Allicyn

While he has his own story I hope to tell one day, he’s a representation of the childish hope my main character, Kaitlin, has in being able to have a happy ending. He’s a sweetie so I hope to do him some justice one day, and at the very least give him a short story of his own.

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Anthony Commission by MurphAinmire

Here’s some of my own artwork for him. Hope you enjoyed!

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7 Ways to Write an Introverted Protagonist

Thanks to a poll on Twitter, this week’s Writing Wednesday is going to be all about writing the introverted protagonist (MC).

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I’m not a psychologist, and I know the science behind this post isn’t exact. These are just my observations when it comes to writing an introverted main character. It’s not the “right” or only way, but it’s worked for me.

It’s important to first point out being introverted doesn’t always mean being shy or antisocial. While yes, some introverts have both these traits, this isn’t a be all end all way to describe them. Instead, the way I like to say they get energy from being alone vs. being around others.

Better yet, here’s what vocabulary.com had to say about introverts.

Introvert comes from Latin intro-, “inward,” and vertere, “turning.” It describes a person who tends to turn inward mentally. Introverts sometimes avoid large groups of people, feeling more energized by time alone.”

So how do you apply this to a character without making them come off as cold, distant, or friendless?

1. Master the art of internal conversation.
Because introverts are more likely to rely on personal experiences to make decisions, writers creating an introvert should learn how to write believable internal monologues. This shows the MC doesn’t voice their need for the opinions of others, but works through what they know to solve a problem. It’s easier said than done. You have to find a balance between the MC working out ideas, and talking to themselves way too much. If you need a place to start, however, look at times in your manuscript when your MC relies too heavily on the input of others, and instead let them look inward on how they’ve solved problems in the past.

2. Have other characters be understanding when your MC excuses themselves from the group.
One of my least favorite friend character trope in movies or books is the “Why don’t you get out more?” friend. This is the side character who’s only purpose is to encourage your MC to declare their feelings to the love interest, or punch their boss in the face, or something equally as outlandish to an introvert. They’re constantly trying to fix their friend, but in real life, when an introvert is friends with this type of person, it often times has a toxic effect. They’re not friends, the introvert is a project for the extrovert, instead of an equal.

Instead, have some of your side characters not see the MC as a pet, but as a human being who has different interests. This not only provides a healthy relationship between the two, but it shows the readers that your introvert is comfortable being alone and also having friends who understand them.

3. Avoid “longing looks” into crowds.
Most introverts will tell you they don’t want to be extroverts. I’ve never met an introverted person who went home and cried about how upset they were because they didn’t enjoy an overly populated outing. I’m sure they’re out there, I just haven’t found them yet. It would be better to have your MC celebrate their introversion. Show them relaxed and grateful when they get away from a situation they find draining. Maybe even have them be a little prideful about the fact that they like being alone. Hell, I know that’s how I get sometimes.

4. Write an introvert who takes charge.
Introverts can in fact be in charge, and some people even claim they’re better suited for the role than extroverts. That being said, leadership isn’t just being the boss, it’s guiding your team to success. Just because they prefer a small get together verses a huge party doesn’t mean they can’t also step up and take their coworkers, friends, and/or love interests on a wild ride to solve your novel’s crisis. Let your introvert lead, instead of being too timid to do so.

5. Learn more about the Myers Briggs introverts.
This shows the varying degrees of introverts. Some, like the INTJ are distant and often times come off as too calculating to befriend, while others like the INFP are eager to let their strong moral compass guide them in making decisions. You don’t have to base every character you have off this system, but it’s a good place to start to see the differences between introverts.

6. Show don’t tell. 
I know people have mixed opinions on this, but hear me out. If you only say “my character is an introvert”, or “they don’t like social situations”, but your character never actually acts on these things, it doesn’t make your character an introvert. Instead of saying, “She didn’t like people, but was forced to be around them everyday for work.” you could just show your audience how much she hates being surrounded by customers, or how she finds sanctuary in her home after a long busy day. That way, it’s not just talk, there’s some action there, too.

7. Show the downsides to being an introvert.
I know I started this by saying, “Don’t just make them shy or antisocial”, but the reason why this is often times the only way people write introverts is because people perceive them this way. Being uncomfortable in a crowded place, getting worn out with too much interaction, and getting stressed when they don’t get some alone time are all some downsides for your character to experience.

Here are some other negative sides to introverted characters
– They can get so caught up in their thoughts that they overthink situations and cause more problems than they originally had.
– Because it takes time for them to make friends, when they make one, they could put that friend on a pedestal, giving the side character a place to fall from.
– They’re misunderstood by others because they turn down people’s offers to hangout, which can lead to comical misunderstandings.
– Being shy, or “afraid of social judgement” as Susan Cain puts it at TED2012, but only because they never learned how to navigate in social situations, as opposed to just being afraid of people.
– Some introverts aren’t risk takers, because they judge experiences based off of past events. If they took a risk in the past, and it turned out poorly, they might be more hesitant in the future.

 

I’ll do another blog post later about my favorite introverted protagonists as part of my “Favorite Trope” series. I go over some that fall into common character archetypes and how you can use those types in your own writing. 

For now I hope this helps! If you have any tips please feel free to share them below.

 

2018 Reading List – Call for Books

Well it’s that time of the year again. Time to get my reading list stacked up.

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As you probably remember from my past posts, I stopped reading back in 2012. I was going through some stuff, and am finally feeling like myself again. Now I have years of not reading to make up for.

Here’s the start of my reading list. If you’ve written a book, or if you have any suggestions based off what’s on this list, please let me know. I can always use some help.

 

Listed Above

  1. And Then There Were None – Suggested by unknown person on instagram
  2. Imager – Picked up the first 3 in this series at a thrift store.
  3. A Court of Thorns and Roses – Everyone seems to like this, so why not try it?
  4. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell – Found in a free book bin
  5. The Third Twin – Found in a free book bin
  6. Dead Heat – I’m just a huge Patricia Briggs fan, so she was bound to be on here.
  7. Lexicon – Found in a free book bin
  8. Feast of Souls – Was supposed to be on my 2017 reading list but I never got around to it.

Needs to be Bought

  1. Borne – Suggested by esktasy on Twitter

 

That’s it for now! I’ll be adding more to this as I get more suggestions.

Sunday Aesthetic – Misery in Magic

Take Beauty and the Beast and add a bit of The Craft, with a dash of The Sopranos. Throw in a pinch of the His Dark Materials trilogy (and I mean a small pinch), and what do you get? Misery in Magic.

At least, I that’s the recipe I’m using.

My work in progress is coming along nicely, but I’m still in the plotting stages. To get a better idea of what I wanted, as far as the vibe of my novel went, I made an aesthetic to help me along.

Enjoy a small blurb from my first chapter below!

misery in magic

No one said a word as Isabelle stood. Her siblings stared as she walked to the oldest of the McKellen clan, her chin lifted to meet his cold grey eyes. The tattoos on his arms and neck all told stories of people he killed and demons he summoned. Could she ever love him? No, but she would still marry him if it meant peace between their families.

“I’ll do it,” she spoke more clearly than she thought she could. “I’ll take your hand.”

His family behind him murmured, but hers was silent. They didn’t care what happened. She was their sacrificial lamb, and her future husband before her was the wolf they were feeding her to.

“Did you kill my sister?” he asked, his voice so deep it vibrated down to her bones.

“No,” she answered, “but if I agree to the terms of the treaty, does it matter?”

“No. I guess it doesn’t.” He was emotionless as he stared into her, finally shaking his head. “I agree to take you as my wife.

Cole O’Bryne. Her new husband. The man she was sure who would kill her.

 

What do you think? Have any other modern magical books or movies to suggest? I’m definitely enjoying the direction this romance is going, but could always use some more inspiration!

Beginner Tips for Building Your Writer Platform

Ah, the writer platform. Something I didn’t think I needed until someone said to me, “I don’t know who you are, so why should I pick up your work?”. Since then, I’ve been on a mission. Take precious time away from my novel and put it toward making a name for myself.

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Since I’m in the “building your online presence” part in my writer platform journey, most of these tips have to do with social media. There are many other sides to being a writer, so if you’re looking for a more detailed read, I recommend checking out Create Your Writer Platform, by Chuck Sambuchino.

  1. At first you are going to fail.
    • I don’t mean this in a bad way, in fact failure is great! It gives you only one direction to go, up. You’re going to make grammar mistakes, embarrass yourself in online circles, and delete a few posts that you should’ve put more time into. But then eventually the tiny failures will come fewer and farther in between. You’ll start to get little victories, and over time, forget how you failed when you first started.
  2. Know that success doesn’t happen overnight.
    • I hate this. I’m the type of person who likes instant results, damn it! I expect to have some interaction with people online regardless of how long I’ve been here! Sadly, this isn’t the case. No, you don’t get famous overnight, or even put on the radar for that matter. You have to be patient, interactive, and above all, entertaining to your target audience. Just having a social media account doesn’t mean people will line up to follow you.
  3. Key word in “social media” is social.
    • I tried to interact in small doses at first. It didn’t work. Instead, I found actually talking to people helped build my platform in the writing community. Comment on other people’s works, share what you’re reading or working on, or just talk to people in general. You don’t have to jump up and down for attention, but actually being social helps boost your popularity as a writer.
  4. Be real.
    • Don’t follow someone just to get a follow back. When you comment on stuff, try to post more than an emoji. Show people who you are, not just a shadow of yourself. And above all things, do not, do NOT send automatic DMs (direct messages). This is so impersonal, and many people will just unfollow you.
  5. Diversify your platform, while still staying with your target audience.
    • I have an Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Deviant Art account. Why? Because that’s where my readers are. I draw my characters, and I have some fans of my sketches, so I post on DA as a way to reach out to other artists. Find out what makes your platform unique and add that to your foundation.
  6. Don’t take all the advice given to you.
    • Hannah Heath wrote a great article about this, and I highly recommend you read it. In a nutshell, don’t take all the advice you get from other writers, especially not when it comes to creating your platform. What works for one writer might not work for you. Try to go at your own pace, and don’t feel like you need to take all the advice out there.
  7. Play games.
    • This is a big one. I didn’t know how to jump in when I first started out online, but hashtag games were a great place to start. I was able to see what other people were working on, and could interact with them on a creative level. There are hashtag games on Twitter that I would definitely check out if you’ve never done them before.
  8. And finally schedule your posts out.
    • I know I already said don’t auto DM, but definitely do get an app that can schedule posts. You’re going to burn yourself out if you try to stay up to date on all your social media. It’s best to save some of it for later, and post things up a little at a time, instead of all at once. Facebook and WordPress has it’s own scheduling system, but I use Hootsuite for things like Twitter and Instagram.

There are other people who have great tips about this, and who are extremely knowledgeable on the subject. This is just what I learned as a novice in the writer platform potion of my writing journey. I’m still a beginner, but I hope what I learned over the past year helps you!

What part of your building process are you in? What tips can you give to the people who are just a step under you? Share below and let me know! 

Learning how to edit

I’ve been working on Flightless since July 2016. I did my own NaNoWriMo, and finished the first draft in a month at close to 100k words.

Over the next year, I cut it back to 85k, submitted it, got rejected multiple times, and finally got some interest after I rewrote my query. Two agents asked for the full manuscript, and one got back to me and said sadly, I needed to refocus and make major changes.

I edited again, taking my time, fixing plot holes they pointed out, and staying up late to figure out how to make my novel more enjoyable. It was a tough lesson in writing, but I learned the importance of a fine tooth comb edit.

I thought I was done, but because I was in the middle of a move, I set Flightless aside and focused my attention on traveling. Then a funny thing happened. I got another idea. It was one of those ideas that should’ve been common sense, but that didn’t hit me till I was reading The Scarlet Gospels.

Make my antagonist more relatable.

I love my antagonist, Abram, but the problem was I loved him for reasons that weren’t in the book. In Flightless, I painted him in two dimensions. He was evil for the sake of being evil, something I can’t stand when other people do it, and that I was ashamed of when I realized my mistake. Here was a character I spent hours developing, crying over his character arch, but then gave him next to nothing when it came time to let him shine.

I’m back at edits again, this time with a few books about editing in hand, and narrowing my focus on my characters. I’m convinced this is my final round, and I hope that now that I’m close to being done, I can have Flightless back in the querying pool soon.

Here’s hoping, cause damn, it’s not the writing that’s hard when it comes to creating a book. It’s the rewriting.

Author. Blogger. Traveler.