A Purposeful Haitus

Hello all! If you haven’t noticed, I haven’t been around much. I have a big post brewing, but I can’t seem to get it completely finished. It was originally a My Life’s Playlist piece, which turned into a flaming hell-rant, which I have lost the flames for at the moment. It will be posted some day, just not tonight.

On to the main point. I’m going on haitus for a while. I have a trip to the beach coming up, Otakon is on its way, and frankly, I’ve been wasting far too much time on here. I greatly enjoy my discussions with people on my blog on whatever subject (although sometimes those discussions turn into a circle of, “My logic is better than your logic. I win! Admit it!” and I grow very tired of re-explaining my views for the ump-teenth time). If you still wish to comment or put in a request for a post in the future when my little blog-cation is over, go for it! I’m still watching, don’t worry! 🙂

But I do need a break. My biggest reason isn’t even the vacations upcoming. It is my novel. My lovely, beautiful Elaseim have been neglected for far too long now. My blog has flourished at the expense of my book’s progress, and that needs to change. So for the next few weeks you may get a little poem here and there, and I will try to keep My Life’s Playlist going, but other than that you will see little of me, my friends. Keep in touch. I will try to at least browse your own posts as much as I can. I want to get at least to a halfway mark in my book before I return with a bang, and that bang will certainly include chapters for your enjoyment and hopefully your constructive criticism as well. Until then, I leave you with Rana and Taren, whom you will all come to love as much as I have as soon as I return.

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A commission of my two main characters, Rana the Elaseim and Taren the Mongolin, done by the incredibly talented c3rmen. You can see more of c3rmen’s work at c3rmen.deviantart.com, or just click the picture!

 

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My Life’s Playlist: The Misty Mountains Cold

This is the first installment of a new series I will be posting to once in a while, called My Life’s Playlist. As I shared the other day, my greatest muse is music. In honor of my muse, I will be featuring the songs highest on my inspiration list.

My first installment is a song/poem that has been near and dear to my heart since I was 3 years old. I actually remember being 3 or 4 and listening to my father read from The Hobbit and put his own little tune to The Misty Mountains Cold. It was one of my favorite songs of the book and of all Tolkien’s magnificent works while I was growing up with them. When the trilogy came out in theaters, everything about them mesmerized me, especially Howard Shore’s score. I didn’t even think about Peter Jackson taking on The Hobbit.

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Seriously handsome at that.

And then he did. And damn, did he! As most of you already know, I’ve always had a soft spot for Thorin Oakenshield. Even before he was this handsome. I can’t express enough how much I appreciate Peter Jackson’s interpretation of Thorin, as it so matches how I have always imagined he would be.  So when, for the first time, Thorin began to sing by the fireplace, I just about burst into tears. Most of the people around me had no idea what I was crying about, but it didn’t matter. This was the Thorin Oakenshield I had grown to love, and to see him as he is meant to be was just moving.

I now have this recording, as well as Neil Finn’s Song of the Lonely Mountain at the top of my list when I want to work on a love poem or a serious chapter of my Elaseim novel. It still brings me to a tear sometimes, and I believe it always will.

To my lovely followers: What do you want to see from me?

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The past month has been poems, poems, poems. The month before that was a lot of prose, short stories, novel updates, and a little bit of poetry laced in for flavor. With such a successful month behind me, I’d like to get more interactive and involved with you, my lovely followers and would-be followers! I want to know what you want from me, what you expect as a reader when you see my username come up in your reader queue.

So, below is a lovely little form (yes, I know, another one; I’m kind of getting obsessed a little) where I’d like to you to pester me. What content from me do you enjoy the most? What is your favorite post from me? Why do you think it was your favorite? What aspect of my work really catches your eye when you see my posts in your reader queue? Would you rather this blog be poetry focused? Do you enjoy my rants and raves on religion, society, and the like? Tell me what you don’t like to see. Give me ideas for new content that you’ve never seen from me before but would be interested in from me. What can I do for you to enjoy your visits to me site.

Let it all out! I want your honest opinion. And… GO!

Thank you to all my followers. I really want to become more dynamic with you all, and I hope this is a good first step. Thank you all for your support and interest in my work. Cheers!

 

~Rana

NaPoWriMo Day 16 – Choice

I stand before you,

shield against the swords

and storms that

dare to charge against

a brazen king.

Not so brazen as to be

unloved,

although you would beg to argue,

emphasize the moments of falter,

the short comings of a young warrior

indecisive,

dumbfounded to be found

alone.

But oh, how you forget

the rustic cry of defiance

that sent shudders through our bones

that day,

how demons ceased their glutony

and bowed deep into the dirt,

a homage to the vagabond king.

With no rally to your call,

still you threw yourself at the most grevious

of the horde,

its sins open and heavy, lingering in the

blood-seeped wind.

Beast against unleashed beast, the clash

of steel and bark,

above the despair you rose to claim

your people

and lead them to the victory

you had always been so sure they’d find.

And yes, you falter,

the bare ground beneath empty hands

and the enemy’s blow from above.

But this is not your fate come to carry you

home;

for there are those who would follow you,

take the blow only for you,

bring you to your feet

or watch you raise yourself

as you have always done.

Do not consider this obligation or dismiss

devotion for servitude.

Nothing is worth fighting for

if it is not worth dying for;

This barrier of flesh between your life and

your death

is love;

the choice, not of a warrior to shed

blood for his king, but

of a friend to die

for her friend.

 

 

I finally got to watch my Blu-Ray of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey last night. I saw it in theaters once, and it rekindled my original intrigue of Thorin Oakenshield, especially in his back story. I went right for the book after I saw it in theaters and realized why I had an odd foreboding feel about falling for Thorin during the movie. [no spoilers, go read the book if you don’t know what I mean]

As some of you know, my Elaseim story, and the Elaseim themselves, came originally from a fan fiction I developed for the Lord of the Rings trilogy, where Rana existed as the last of the Elaseim simply so that Boromir wouldn’t die. Well, I still do that all the time, either making new characters as OCs for fan fictions (all in my mind, of course, I’ve only dabbled in writing my fan fictions down a couple times [for Harry Potter and Avatar: The Last Airbender] and I just couldn’t keep it up) or inserting Rana into the story. The Hobbit was no exception; since she is an immortal, it works that she would be part of this story as well as the trilogy. As Rana has developed, however, her dynamic in the fan fiction has also changed, so much so that her interaction with Boromir moved away from the original love story to a strong friendship, bound by the want for Gondor to gain greatness through men once more.

I had never had Rana interact with the dwarves of The Hobbit, and once I started to act out this dynamic, she and Thorin became the perfect match. Her new character development of late melds with his flaws so well, so perfectly; they are the high school friends turned sweethearts of Middle Earth in my mind. This is a small aspect of the relationship between Rana and Thorin, spoken from Rana’s perspective. Hope you all like it!

 

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On a personal note, this is the hottest dwarf that has ever and will ever exist. Fili and Kili need a few more years before they can look this good… wait…

22 Rules for Storytelling as Suggested by Pixar

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So a friend of mine posted a link to this list of storytelling tips from the storyboard artists at Pixar. After reading through them, I thought I’d use it as a meme base and plug in my Elaseim story into them and see what I can come up with. This is all going to be stream-of-conscience writing, so hopefully I’ll make some discoveries. Give it a try if you like with your own story! Here we go!

  1. You admire a character for trying more than for their successes. I take this as a character’s drive must be for something outside of themselves. This is where the protagonist is separated from the antagonist; a protagonist makes things easier for those around them, even if it makes things harder for themselves, while the antagonist makes things easier for themselves, sometimes purposefully making things harder for those around them. I’ve never really deeply thought about this for my characters. Rana’s purpose in her journey is to eliminate the evil of Inan in the world, considering it her duty as the last Elaseim and guardian of Adalan Eu. She allows this sense of duty, however, to overpower her concern for the people around her, and comes close to making big mistakes in her personal life (and putting those closest to her in great danger) because of this mindset. Now THAT was a breakthrough! As for Inan, his purpose is simpler. I’m not going to get into the details too much, though. But his intent is certainly personal success in his goal, and he will force all around him into his plans to gain that success.
  2. You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be very different. I always view my stories as movies running in my head. I have a very hard time translating that movie-paced image into expanded chapters, especially because I also really enjoy the elaborate narrative of Tolkien, but don’t want to overdo it myself in my own story. Tolkien had a wonder, a perfection in language, to put imagery into long-winded words that still kept you interested and focused. I don’t know if I can do that or not, and just attempting such narrative gets me nervous. Number two is going to push me into the different styles I’ve been avoiding in order to avoid bad reactions. Considering I don’t get much reaction at all for my writing at this point, bad reaction to improve is better than the nothing I have now.
  3. Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite. Long story short, I need to get up off my ass and write the whole damn thing, THEN go back and edit and add and subtract. I need to get away from the planning. I’ve been planning for over 8 years, for Sedar’s sake! (wow, that was bad…)
  4. Once upon a time there was the last of the Elaseim. Every day, the world beyond her sanctuary fell farther away from the world she had known. One day a man brought her back to her nature. Because of that, she properly came into her age, and took up duty of her people (while also falling in love). Because of that, she and her new-found friend, the man, rallied the world against the evils suppressing it. Until finally… well you’ll find out whether she succeeds.character_sheet__rana_by_ranaelaseim-d3hdm2m
  5. Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free. I have found myself combining or switching characters from one story to another. I don’t think I’ve ever lost anything, per se, but I have set myself free in that way. I think I may do some experimentals with some of the characters and possibly post, see if I like some of the changes or not. I am adding a new character and a new set of chapters in Rana and Taren’s journey, so that will be fun to share.
  6. What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal? This is a unique aspect to Rana, because we really don’t know what she’s good at. When she was one of the original four Elaseim, she had a full development into her the aspects of her character. Now, with her not even in her teenage years before the world crashes in around her, she had not really developed into much of anything yet, and the time she lives with the Equepar, she is not given the chance to become anything but a protected little China doll. She is a blank slate. The closest thing you get to something that is only hers is when Taren is captured by the Equepar for tracking them to the western cliffs. That chapter is actually coming, so I won’t divulge much, but this is when the duty of her people erupts from her, a natural defense mechanism which she has always had itching within her, but never been put in the situation to utilize the feeling before. Because of all this, everything is her polar opposite, and yet everything has a hint of familiarity to it. Where she has her problem is where to the draw the line between Elaseim duty and personal empathy and love. Everything is a challenge, and we learn with her adjustments.
  7. Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front. I have miserably failed here. The ending has been hard, and to figure it out, I’ve been writing and planning and changing and expanding the middle. By now I ought to know it’s not going to make the ending any easier. One of my next jobs is the stop writing and plan the ending only. Those last scenes. Get it where I do not want it to change, where the ending will erupt the passion of all the emotions within my readers at once. If the middle brings changes to the ending later, that’s fine. But I need to know where I’m going first, and let the final destination change with the journey after it is an actual place to get to.
  8. Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time. My Elaseim story is the nearest and dearest thing to my heart in my writing, and has been for almost a decade now. But I need to let it grow up and make it something of my past. It will be harder than my kids moving out of the house (in about 25 years or so, when I have kids at all), but things must always come and go.
  9. When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up. A very good tip! I think I’ll use this when developing the ending!
  10. Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it. I’ve pulled Lord of the Rings apart in every way possible. The origin of the Elaseim, and specifically Rana, was the OC for my LotR fan fiction, and found every possible thing she could do to adjust and change the series of events within the LotR trilogy, as well as many of the back stories from The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales.
  11. Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone. I’m working on it, I swear…
  12. Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself. After 8 years, I’m pretty sure I’ve been going through into the dozens of ideas at this point. BUT, that doesn’t mean I don’t bother with making new ideas constantly, just to see what will come of it.
  13. Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience. Trust me, my personality is always as passive and malleable as possible, and so I always try my best to make my characters distant from the way I would end up going about their problems. If anybody wants to argue that, by all means go for it. That’s what the comments are for!
  14. Rana_by_RanaElaseimWhy must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.  Rana is part of me. There are shadows of me in her, but mostly she is the epitome of my old dog of the same name. She was the best thing of my childhood, and aside from my boyfriend, she was the best of my life. The character is her spirit reincarnate on paper, immortalized for the world to know and love as I loved. My story has evolved around her, and she in turn is evolving with the story, which I have just as much passion for as I do for Rana. It is my heart and soul live in this story, and even if someone else could tell it better, they would not feel the way I do as the words hit the paper from my pen, appear on the screen through my fingertips. This is my story, and that’s just that.
  15. If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.  This is one of the areas where I do the, “How many ways could this turn out?” kind of writing exercises. I work every possible response the characters could make at the situations I use in the storyline. That’s really it for that.
  16. What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.  The changes and additions I’ve been making to the story have mainly consisted of challenges for the main character(s). Sometimes it’s for the sake of the challenge, sometimes it’s just to find out little nooks and crannies of the characters’ personality I haven’t yet found. Thinking about it a little more, I realize that the changes I’ve made have actually made things harder, not on myself, but on my characters. I’m thinking I’ve been trying to keep them safe in a way over the years, and have finally moved into the acceptance of making my characters experience the difficult aspects of life without my lightened touch.
  17. No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on – it’ll come back around to be useful later. I couldn’t agree more. I keep every note I make I keep. If anything else, it shows the progress I’ve made, and allows me to compare ideas from then and now, to see which ideas were good or bad, and decide why (which isn’t the easiest thing, when the whole story and all the ideas to develop it are your own).
  18. You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best & fussing. Story is testing, not refining. This goes back to the last answer. Watching my development as a writer, as a storyline developer, etc. through my notes and my drafts really lets me get to know myself, pieces of myself that only comes out on the page. My poetry does the same, and allows me to put the worst of myself out in the open instead of bottled up inside. The work on my novel is the same, just more expansive.
  19. Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating. Haven’t really thought about this… Personally, I always find coincidence to be cliche in some way, especially when the characters know each other and just happen to show up in the same place at the same time to the detriment of one. Doubly especially when nothing actually comes of the coincidence at all.
  20. Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How do you rearrange them into what you DO like? I can’t tell you HOW many times I’ve done this… That would be another whole blog post SERIES to cover them all.
  21. You gotta identify with your situation/characters, can’t just write ‘cool’. What would make YOU act that way? The fear and confusion I’ve been putting Rana through, making her so young during the fall of the Elaseim, has brought no end to ‘uncool’ reactions. It was an experiment that went quite right, and this is precisely what it was about.
  22. What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there. The fantastical aspects of Tolkien’s genius is where the essence of my story originated. I’m still not completely convinced that the novel is the only way this story can be told (as I see this movie running in my mind every time I think of any scene), but I’m sure that it feels great to write, and when I write, it feels so right.

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A quick question, and back to writing…

Okay, so for my Elaseim readers, I’m working out a new chapter! The story of the fall of the Elaseim! Finally! I’m writing it up on Goodreads and will make a blog post on it as soon as I’m finished. It may not be until tomorrow, as it is getting late for me, but it will be posted by tomorrow night. I’m promising myself this time!

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If this movie doesn’t bring you to some kind of emotional or spiritual revelation, I don’t know what will.

In the meantime, I want a question discussed. Now you’ll remember my little post about my mother’s reaction to me not going to church anymore. I’m not re-reading to see if I mentioned this, so I’ll just mention it here. I managed to outline to my mother in those five minutes that I felt disrespectful when going to church. I have great respect to those who do feel a passion, a closeness with god when in church. I understand that feeling. But I do not get that feeling in a church, during a mass. In fact, I feel farther from that feeling when I’m sitting in for a mass. If I find no meaning in the actions during the mass, how rude is it to go through the motions blindly when there are people around me experiencing something heart felt? I feel as if I am insulting those around me. It is the same if I am enjoying a good movie, like Les Miserables for instance. I can lose myself in a wonderful place of awe and observation when watching a movie like that, or listening to some Bruce Hornsby in the car. That moment for me is that closer connection to the world around me, to the place where I find god in my life. When I’m watching that movie and someone is throwing popcorn, whispering and giggling to their friends, and texting on their phone in front of me, I feel upset that they can’t respect my enjoyment of the movie, even if they don’t understand what I’m experiencing while watching. It’s hard to make someone understand that feeling, but then again it’s hard for a religious person to explain how they feel when in a church when there are so many who just call it any other building, right?

Anyway, the point is I tried to explain to my mother that I’d rather not go to church and live a good life without that hour every Sunday than to be a disrespectful hypocrite and go to church and have no real connection to what was going on in there. My mother tried to create some odd excuse that going to church is not hypocritical. I don’t how she explained it, it didn’t come out in any amount of sense. The reason I bring this up is that on yet another one of my Yahoo escapades, I had someone post, “Better to sit among the hypocrites than to join them in hell.” (I believe it got so many downed views it is now unviewable.) You can see the response I made on the link.

My question is, what the hell is this argument anyway? Why is it better to LIE about your belief to everyone around you and secretly think it’s all bullshit, than to live a fulfilling and good life and not go to freaking church? Someone explain this to me in normal terms, please. Because I don’t know how to answer this anymore other than, “You’re argument is contradictory and therefore invalid. Have a nice day.” I want to understand this mindset. The contradiction just seems to blatant to me, I don’t get it.

Okay, religious talk over again. Next time, Elaseim chapter! 😀

A call for advice on character development: Rana

OKAY! So the religious babble is being put to the side, and it’s back to discussing writing!

I’ve been focusing on the Elaseim novel lately, although life has been keeping me from putting too much time into it. I have quite a few chapters partially finished, but no where near edited or refined to my liking. The biggest thing is this: I’m changing Rana’s story a bit. It figures that this change is going to force me to re-write a couple of the origin chapters, but a lot of that will likely just be name changes, with the plot staying put (for now).

So right now Rana is one of the original four Elaseim, alongside Salocar, Veroa, and Kido. She survives with Kido against Inan after he slaughters the rest of the Elaseim. Kido rallies an army from the free creatures of Adalan Eu, and together with Rana they go to war. Rana sees Kido killed by Inan and falls in the battle, overwhelmed by his death. She is found by the Equepar and taken away from the Inan’s reach. When Taren finds her, she is still held in that overwhelmed, dazed state by the Equepar, who are trying to brainwash her into fighting and purposefully losing to Inan, so as to reunite the souls of the Elaseim and re-create the Elaseim part of the Sedar. The Equepar believe the return of the Sedar is the only way to defeat Inan and bring the original balance that Salocar and Veroa held over Adalan Eu back to the world. Taren manages to convince Rana otherwise and she goes with him to bring an army against Inan once again.

My problem is, Rana’s character is far stronger than this. As a full-grown Elaseim, she should know better than to fall into a depressive state, especially for so long. So here’s the new plan. Rana and Kido are not the oldest Elaseim, but the youngest. Kido is Rana’s older brother, and she is not even a ‘teenager’ in Elaseim development when Inan comes and kills the Elaseim. She is left at the base camp of Kido’s army while he leads them to fight. She, not understanding all of this, goes after him, wanting to go back home to Ea Mornen, where the battle takes place. On the battlefield she sees Kido fall and is knocked out while mourning over him. The Equepar find her and take her in. They weave an elaborate lie about Inan and convince Rana to trust them. She does not realize their true intentions, which are not completely clear until later in the novel.

I want her to have more of a reason to trust the Equepar. It also gives a greater impact when her instincts as an Elaseim spur her to leave them behind and go with Taren. I’d like to know if people agree with this character development change or not. At least give me a little dialogue to get some back and forth going on it. I can give more insight later. I’m actually in a bit of a rush right now. Comment below please! Cheers!