Diversity (A TCWT Prelude)

What kinds of published books would you like to see more of? 

Thus spake the Teens Can Write, Too! blog chain prompt this May.  My scheduled day is the 15th (Thursday), but I’ve got something else to say first.  I’ve read and commented on all the posts in the chain up until today, and I’ve seen a big similarity: diversity.  Diversity in race, worldview, and gender; diversity in worlds, magic, and society; diversity in conflicts, plot elements, and protagonists.  It’s all true.  But as you can see from just half this month’s responses, we as individuals aren’t the only people to have realized we need diversity.  Many people advocate it.

What does that mean?  Are we apathetic, trying to force others to write what we think should be written?  Is society restrictive, shooting down every diverse idea we have?  You might not agree, but it’s neither.  There are plenty of diverse books out there.  An astonishing number of writers are writing from all different backgrounds, writing about everything under the sun.  Diverse?  Yes.  Well-known?  Some, yes– others, no.  If that’s the case, why are we still crying for diversity? (more…)

Phil Phorce: Splatter Paint

The Phil Phorce is a fictional periodical featuring my favorite characters from my own writing.  It comes out in episodes, once every three months or so.  To find out more and to read previous episodes, please go to these two pages: About the Phils and the Phil Phorce.  Please enjoy and critique if possible.


Quirk fell, spinning as he went, the wind filling his ears with an emotionless roar, and all he could wonder was whether falling from clouds was a requirement for being Head Phil.

Then he realized he was falling to his death.  That was odd.  Perhaps he should scream.  Oh, but which scream should he use?  Battle cry roar?  Surprised in the alleyway shriek?  Full-blown girly squeal?

What the heck, he thought; I’m falling to my death and no one can hear me.  Might as well be indulgent.

He went for the girly squeal. (more…)

Seraphina, a Review

This spoiler-free review is for Seraphina, by Rachel Hartman.  I first heard of this book from its sparkling starred review by Kirkus (called the best of 2012), as well as its listing among the Top Debuts of 2012 on the Publisher’s Weekly website.  (Note: I glanced at both websites in passing– I’m not so much of a publishing nerd that I follow all the news.  Nevertheless, both are reliable sources for good books.)  In all the reviews I read, Seraphina was described as being an original YA fantasy about dragons– how could I resist?  A few more favorable reviews from trusted sources followed, prompting me to pick up the book as soon as I saw it on the shelves.  Here is the usual summary:

Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty’s anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen’s Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life. (more…)

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, A Review

Last night, I saw The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey for the first time.  I had heard a lot about it– from some sources, that it deviated from the book in bad ways; from others, that it was extremely good no matter what; from still others, that the entire Lord of the Rings and Hobbit story is a Harry Potter ripoff.  After shrugging to the first group, hmming at the second group, and not even bothering with the third group, I got the chance to see it myself.  This review will be as spoiler-free as I can make it without being vague. (more…)

Phil Phorce: Crisis Averted

After getting a few people who don’t really know what the Phils are about, I’d like to suggest that they check this page and this page.  Both give information on the characters of the Phils, as well as what exactly the Phils are.  The first Phil Phorce episode begins here, and this current one begins here.  Without further ado, the penultimate Phil Phorce scenes.

Steve felt like a hamster that had just swallowed an unlit bomb; there was explosive material just beneath the surface, and it was only a matter of time before someone threw a match in after it.  When that happened, things would get messy.

He knew he hadn’t helped Quirk help the Blanks.  He knew it.  He’d sooner call Quirk a—well, a very bad word—than help him in anything.  But Quirk’s accomplice had been a talking ping pong ball, of which there were only two in existence.

Steve, even though he would claim otherwise, liked Sam a lot.  They had a lot in common; they both were round, white, and sentient.  For this reason, he had tried to keep himself from thinking through the problem farther than this point.  It was no use.  His mind kept dwelling on the fact that if he hadn’t done it, Sam must have.  Sam seemed nice, but he obviously wasn’t nice enough to stand up and take the blame.  Sam and Quirk had been working with the Blanks.  Sam was an evil ping pong ball. (more…)

Phil Phorce: Invasion

It was only after the world turned upside-down that the ceiling grew legs.

Everything tumbled immediately.  The Phils were bounced around until they ended up on what had formerly been the ceiling, but everything else stayed put as the Castle’s Syngio (Synthetic Gravity for Inanimate Objects) stayed in control.  Steve and Sam were similarly unaffected, since they were essentially inanimate.

Percival, once he saw what happened, switched to normal gravity and fell to the floor.  “The Castle turned right-side-up again,” he said.

“Does that mean we’re no longer in the Castle Under the Cloud?” asked Sebase. (more…)

If It Ain’t Broke…

Today I’d like to introduce to you my favorite guest poster of all time, the only guest poster who has done so twice, the amazing and hilarious Charley R!  She was the author of our 5000th comment here on the blog– that’s right, 5000 comments.  At about the same time, I reached 200 followers.  That’s got to be enough qualification to get out of a few blog awards, right?  Anyway, on to her brilliant guest post– I hope you enjoy it.

There’s an overwhelming pressure in the writing world to be original. If you write something according to the hype of the time – be it vampires, twisted fairytales, or sentient geraniums – you’re more than likely to be confronted, at some time or another, with the accusation that you’re just jumping on the bandwagon. While on one of my frequent book-hunts on Amazon, I am forever running into reviews that say a book is “unoriginal”, “clichéd”, or “is really similar to . . .”

Sometimes these statements are true – I once complained to a school librarian for stocking a book that was pretty much a carbon copy of Lord of the Rings, complete with near identical Fellowship, semi-vanquished Dark Lord and malignant MacGuffin. These books are books no one wants to read because they, quite honestly, are simply washed out versions of something else. (more…)

Phil Phorce: Complications

Here are the next few scenes of the Phil Phorce.  I hope you enjoy it more than the last– in retrospect, I should have read it before posting.

“Well, I am the Aardvark, so it doesn’t matter how many toothpicks you can fit in your ears; you’ve still got to obey me!”

“I didn’t say toothpicks, I said pencils!  And it was behind my ears, because the more pencils you have behind your ears, the smarter you are!  Since you don’t have any pencils behind your ears, you aren’t smart!” (more…)

Why Christopher Paolini Succeeded, Sort Of

Christopher Paolini, after publishing the final book in the Inheritance Cycle last November, has dropped severely on the top-ten author lists of YA readers.  Though authors such as Rick Riordan and Veronica Roth have had books published in October or even May of 2011 high on bestselling lists until now, Inheritance is nowhere to be found in Google results for “best young adult books of 2011”.  A lot of people were disappointed with that book and the way the series turned out.  The beginning of one Amazon review reads, “Like a delicate soufflé, rises to an epic climax before collapsing into a tasteless pile of goop”.  And the sad thing is, that synopsis is spot-on.  I apologize to those reading this who haven’t read Inheritance, but I think it’s well-known by now that Inheritance just wasn’t what anyone expected, or what the series needed to finish off.

It’s a whole lot of fun to bash authors that people think are good.  I know I’ve done this on a couple of occasions, with the Hunger Games and Inheritance– but it isn’t really the right thing to do.  If a book is popular, you need to realize why.  You obviously aren’t any better than this author, or you’d be the one with all that fame– so you need to sit down and study the reasons why this author got to the place he did. (more…)

Guest Post: Miss Seana J. Vixen

The three-thousandth comment has come and gone.  And with Miss Vixen as the third most commented person in that last set of a thousand comments, is it any surprise that she had the 3001st comment?  (I was the 3000th, so we had to pick the nearest one.  You’ve had too many guest posts from me anyway.)  She was awarded a guest post for being awesome.

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When I heard that I was being asked to do a guest post for Liam at This Page Intentionally Left Blank, I had a moment of silent freaking out….fine. It was semi-silent. Many more people read his blog than mine, so I’d be blogging to a wider audience. Frightening, isn’t it? And there is the opportunity that I might be able to snag some more readers with some subtle hinting (verrrry subtle, mind you…nothing obvious about this…). After the freaking out moment, I had a moment of derp when my brain simply could not think of anything of which to type. So I scoured through the northern region of my brain (where the ideas are the coldest, sharpest and most polar bear-infested), and after 7.3 minutes, voila! There was my idea. Huzzah.

So.

Onward we go. (more…)