Last week, my friend Jake taught me how to play the Pokémon Trading Card Game. I know, I know, how can a self-proclaimed obsessed fan of Pokémon not know how to play the TCG? Don’t get me wrong, I do have a decent collection of Pokémon cards in a binder on my bookshelf at home but it’s exactly that, a collection–meant to look at and feel nostalgic not meant for playing purposes. Fun fact about me, never get me started on collecting anything, I will lose all impulse control and it will be a problem. Case in point, my collection of more than 100 Funko Pop figures currently packed away in a box somewhere because there simply isn’t space for all of them in my room right now. Anyway, the point is that no, I’ve never played the actual trading card game–although my friend Vicki and I used to make up our own rules for the game in elementary school because we thought the real way was too complicated…but I guess that probably doesn’t count.
Turns out the real game wasn’t nearly as complicated as I remember but then again I’m not ten anymore either. That’s not to say the game went well, however. I lost. Badly. We played three or four games and I couldn’t even come sort of close to beating Jake in any of them. He obliterated me. It was embarrassing. Now, I don’t consider myself a competitive person because while I always try my best to win, losing almost never bothers me. But this? this irked me. Maybe it’s because I see myself as something of a Pokémon expert and losing so badly felt a little like being exposed as an imposter. But it’s not like I’m all that competitive in Pokémon either, I enjoy the games for the collecting aspect and for the story I don’t take part in the online competitive battles so while I consider myself an expert I have no illusions of being–as Ash Ketchum would call it–a Pokémon Master as far as battling or strategy go. Still, losing to Jake bothered me. So I went home and downloaded the TCG app onto my iPad in order to hone my skills and prepare myself for a rematch I refused to lose. I’m proud to say that my training–combined with an entirely different deck–paid off big time. I won each of the three rematch games. As silly as it sounds, it was a win I really needed. It felt good to be reminded that sometimes you just need to get up when you fall and make sure you come back stronger than you were.
When in doubt about what to write, go back to the basics right? Right. Ok so I stumbled upon this post on Tumblr that was 50 questions about your original character. It was meant to be an ask game where followers send the blogger that posted it a number corresponding to a question on the list for the blogger to answer. Well, no one’s asking but I think this could be a really fun exercise to help me with character development for Daphne. I’m not sure I can do all 50, but I guess I’ll just see how many I can get through in let’s say a couple of hours. I skimmed this post to make sure the questions were actually decent but I didn’t read every question so I’ll be doing this mostly on the fly. Should be fun. Credit for these questions goes to @lanqu-e on Tumblr.com. Check out the post here
Part 2: Miscellany
- What is your OC’s favorite color? Green.
- Does your OC collect anything? What do they collect? I’ve got this idea that people imprint little pieces of themselves-of their souls-onto the things they own. I mean say what you will about it, we tend to get emotionally attached to our possessions. Daphne can sometimes get readings off of items because of this–never as complete a reading as she can get off a living person, but she can get little snippets this way. Things like favorite childhood toys or that necklace a character’s mother gave them that they wear every single day give stronger readings but less personal items like pieces of clothing or less emotionally significant jewelry works as well. Anyway, I’m not sure I’ll ever address it in the books but I think Daphne collects these odds and ends of significant people she meets in her travels as a way of feeling close to them even when apart. She’s sentimental like that.
- What kind of things is your OC allergic to? Daphne isn’t allergic to anything. She does sometimes get readings that cause adverse physical reactions. Like migraines, nausea, etc.
- What kind of clothing does your OC wear? Casual clothing that is easy to move/fight in and can take a lot of wear and tear.
- What is your OC’s first memory? Ooh I don’t know that I can really get into this one without delving into some spoiler-y topics. Let’s just say her first memory is of the first time she got a soul-reading off of someone (or at least the first one she was old enough to remember) and the resulting confusion and fear and permanently damaged relationship with the person she got the reading from.
- What’s your OC’s favorite Animal? Least favorite? Daphne would never pass as a Disney Princess. Animals hate her, they seem to sense something not quite right with her. Frankly, the feeling is mutual. You only cry over so many cat scratches and dog bites as a child before you stop wanting to be friends with the furry little demons. She usually fares better with magical creatures.
- What element would your OC be? Are we sticking with Avatar the Last Airbender four elements here or are we including the infrequently mentioned fifth element of spirit? Because obviously she would be spirit. But if we’re only including the main four, I guess she would probably be earth. Strong, dependable, stubborn and enduring. Plus I can’t help but think Toph’s way of “seeing” through vibrations in the earth is comparable to Daphne’s own gift.
- What is your OC’s theme song? I don’t really have a theme song for Daphne but a couple of the songs I have in a playlist that remind me of Daphne are “Control” by Halsey, “On the Inside” by Daughtry, “Broken Angel” by Boyce Avenue, and “I’ll be Good” by Jaymes Young.
- Do you have a faceclaim/ voiceclaim for your OC? (AKA who would play your OC in a show/movie) I don’t really have a particular actress in mind for Daphne but I will say that Gypsy on The Flash–played by Jessica Camacho–always makes me think of Daphne for some reason.
- What deadly sin would best represent your OC? Pride. When you are omniscient-adjacent you can get a little arrogant at times. It happens. I just have to make sure she gets humbled from time to time.
- What are your OC’s hobbies? Running, Knife-throwing, hand-to-hand sparring…wait those are all job related you say? Um she tends to be a little work-obsessed but she enjoys TV as much as anyone, I wouldn’t necessarily call it a hobby per say but she spends a lot of downtime looking for answers about what, exactly, she is.
- How patient is your OC? How hot-headed are they? Daphne is generally a very patient person. She doesn’t get angry often but you do not want to be the person on the receiving end of her wrath.
- What food does your OC like to eat? What are their least favorite foods? Daphne is a burger and fries kind of gal, but she’s not a picky eater and will try pretty much anything. That being said, get that vegan fake meat crap away from her.
- If your OC could have any pet, what would they choose? Why? Like I said before, animals + Daphne is a recipe for disaster. Better stick with pet rocks.
- What does your OC smell like? Hah! That’s a hilarious question. What’s the often laughed at fanfiction formula for personal scents? Two obscure scents plus the phrase “and something uniquely (character name)”? Following that, because why not, I’m going to go with motel soap, the forest just after its rained, and something sharp and clear and uniquely Daphne.
And I think that’s a good place to stop for now. This was fun! I definitely want to do the rest of these questions at some point. For now, thanks for reading and I’ll try to post again later this week.
(Photo credit to my dad @kenhammond on Instagram)
It probably comes as no shock to you at this point that I am a major animal lover. Fuzzy, feathered, or scaly it doesn’t matter, I adore them all–to the point where for most of my childhood I wanted to be a vet or a dolphin trainer or a zookeeper–so the Nashville Zoo is something I’ve been wanting to do since we moved here in July but I haven’t had the chance until now. The past couple weeks my grandparents have been visiting from California which means we’ve been taking them on the usual Nashville tourist haunts: Civil War sites, Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, the Parthenon and, my favorite, the Nashville Zoo. Of course, being from SoCal, I’ve grown up with some pretty amazing zoos such as the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Wild Animal Park, and LA Zoo, and while the Nashville Zoo was nowhere near as big as those and didn’t have nearly as many different animals–big cats are my favorites so I was a little disappointed that all the Nashville Zoo had were clouded leopards that I didn’t get to see because they weren’t out when I was there, and a couple cougars–it was still a really neat little zoo. My favorite animal that they had there (that I actually got to see anyway) were the red pandas. They were so fluffy and adorable and I’ve never wanted to sneak into an exhibit and steal an animal (or at least play with them till security dragged me away kicking and screaming) more in my life…I resisted the urge, obviously, pretty sure you’d have seen me on the news if I hadn’t. Still, they were beyond cute. My favorite experience, however, was definitely the kangaroo exhibit. Any exhibit where I get to touch a fuzzy animal is going to be an instant favorite for me so the kangaroo exhibit at the Nashville Zoo where you’re allowed to touch the roo’s (so long as they’re within reach of the path you have to stay on) won me over pretty quick. I mean I can now say I’ve pet a kangaroo–which was so much softer than I expected btw–how cool is that! Now if I can just find a zoo that’ll let me pet a red panda…
Hey everyone, I hope you all had a good holiday weekend–assuming you’re in the US of course. My grandparents have been in town the last couple weeks so I haven’t had a chance to post anything for a while. I’ve also been struggling with a bit of writer’s block as far as this blog is concerned, particularly Town Line Tuesdays. It’s not because I’ve hit a roadblock with the novel–to the contrary, I feel like I’ve actually been moving forward with that pretty well lately–but as I feared when I started this segment on the blog, I’m having trouble coming up with topics that aren’t too spoiler-y which is why updates haven’t been as regular as I’d like. That being said, if anyone has any suggestions or requests for writing and/or novel related topics you’d like to see featured here please leave a comment, I’d greatly appreciate it. In the meantime, having family in town for two weeks means I’ve got material for at least one non-novel-related post later this week and, regardless of whether or not I get any replies I’ll hopefully have an actual post for next week’s Town Line Tuesday. Thanks for your patience and support, y’all are great.
Hey guys! Welcome to a very special Town Line Tuesday. As you may have guessed from the title, I’ve just hit the 100 page mark on the novel. In honor of this landmark I thought I’d share with you all the first page of The Demon of New Salem. Enjoy!
So last weekend my parents and I went to the Nashville Exotic Pet Expo because we wanted to look at hedgehogs. I’ve been to Pet Expos back when we lived in California but I’d never been to an exotic pet show before and it was so cool! There were so many different and amazing animals, some of them I got to touch and others I just got to look at, some were for sale and others were just being shown off by their proud pet parents. I tried to take a lot of pictures but I couldn’t get pictures of everything. There were a bunch of snakes and a ton of lizards including iguanas and chameleons and some amphibians like frogs and axolotls. On the more fuzzy and cuddly side of things there were the expected animals like bunnies and hedgehogs and sugar gliders but also some crazy things like a baby fennec fox, monkeys, baby ring-tailed lemurs, and cutest of all a baby coatimundi–a South American cousin of the raccoon that I’m glad wasn’t for sale because I’m pretty sure all three of us would’ve had a really hard time not buying it. We went in search of hedgehogs because I’ve wanted one for a while now–and I even got to hold a baby hedgehog it was so tiny and shy!–but as an animal lover the entire show was just a really cool experience and I wanted to take home pretty much every animal I saw. Although I went in thinking I wanted a hedgehog, my favorite animals at the show–other than the coati–actually ended up being the sugar gliders. They were so cute and soft and the ones at this one booth just wanted to climb all over their people and sleep in their shirts and pockets and while I definitely need to do some serious research first, the people at the booth made them seem like great, loving pets. I wonder what the cats would think.
Last night I went out with a friend of mine to an Avengers Trivia Night at a local soda and ice cream shop here in Nashville called the Soda Parlor. I’ve never done anything like this before so I wasn’t sure what to expect but I figured hey, I’ve seen all the Marvel movies, I know a lot about the Avengers, I’m sure I can ace this. So my friend and I checked ourselves in under the team name Captain Charizard and ordered our drinks–I got a root beer float and he got a cookies and cream milkshake–before taking our seats and waiting for the event to begin.
The trivia game consisted of three rounds of ten questions each, with the host reading the questions aloud and the teams of three–or two in our case–wrote their answers on the their team card. The cards were collected and the correct answers were revealed at the end of each round. Team Captain Charizard got a whopping twelve out of thirty (six in the first round and three in each subsequent round). There were a lot of really hard questions about small obscure details in the movies. Do you know what percentage Iron Man’s suit got super-charged to upon being struck with Thor’s lightning during their fight in the first Avengers movie? Or what band was on the shirt Tony was wearing in the infamous “We’ve got a Hulk” scene? There were some easy ones as well like finishing the quote: “Because if we can’t protect the earth you can be damn well sure we’ll ____.” One question I can’t believe I got wrong was what does S.H.I.E.L.D stand for. I got the consonants right (Strategic Homeland ___ ____ Logistics Division) but blanked on the “I” and the “E.” The question I was really proud that I got right was what is Hawkeye’s wife’s name, especially since I just went with my instinctual response and wasn’t even remotely sure I was right. Overall, the questions were a lot harder than I expected but I feel like it was still a pretty good mix of easy, medium, and hard questions.
At the end of the game, the winning team went home with a box of Marvel merch and some gift cards after they got twenty-five out of thirty questions right…more than twice our score but that’s alright I had a ton of fun playing anyway and would totally love to do something like this again.
Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement Logistics Division
Magic and technology, kingdoms and queendoms and distant planets, alternate universes and mysterious galaxies, magical creatures and alien races, to name but a few of all the little pieces that go into building elaborate fantasy and sci-fi worlds. World-building is a key part of writing fantasy and sci-fi, it’s a fun and creative process but also a necessary one—even magic worlds of make-believe need some sort of rules and structure, without them you’ve got nothing but chaos and your readers won’t be able to follow what’s going on let alone suspend disbelief the way they should. Still, while world-building is a lot of fun when it’s all in my head—seriously I could spend all day lost in imagining worlds of my own design—I’ve found that getting it onto the page is…less fun. The problem with putting the world-building on the page is that it, by very definition, needs to be done through exposition (the placement of often very wordy explanations of important background information into a story) and honestly, I don’t much like reading exposition let alone writing it. Don’t get me wrong, exposition, while annoying, is very important and I do actually find its contents interesting (most of the time anyway) it just has a way of completely bogging down the story.
I’m currently reading Ready Player One by Ernest Cline and let me tell you, the first six chapters were a pain to get through. The prologue explaining the contest was one thing, it set up the premise of the story nicely and it was all necessary information at that point in the narrative. The next six chapters however…well as interesting as I find the OASIS and I have to admit the background about Halliday is certainly necessary for Parzival’s solving of the puzzles but nothing happens in those six chapters. Parzival goes to school and does almost nothing there and the rest of the sixty-odd pages are nothing but exposition. Maybe it’s just me but personally I’d prefer the author trust the reader a little more to figure out what’s going on through context and small bits of exposition spaced out throughout the novel and interspersed with action rather than dumping everything on us all at once at the start of the story. Maybe you like your world-building all at once at the beginning of a book because when you’re finished, once you’ve earned the action after slogging through all the background muck, you at least know what’s going on and you can sit back and enjoy the ride. But I’ve got to say, I actually don’t mind being somewhat confused at the start of the book, I relish figuring things out on my own and the twists and turns in the plot that slowly reveal the secrets of the world I’m immersed in keep me coming back for more when pages upon pages of exposition exhaust me to the point of wanting to walk a way rather than keep trudging forward.
This reading preference really shows itself in my writing, I like to play things close to the vest, revealing things only when the plot demands it. Sometimes this dislike of heavy exposition and descriptive language works to my disadvantage as I sometimes struggle with making sure scenes are as descriptive as they need to be but it’s something I am constantly working on. As for world-building in The Demon of New Salem, since the novel takes place in our world—albeit our world with magic—the primary pieces I have to worry about building are my fictional town of New Salem, creating lore for the Supernaturals, and of course creating a system of magic and rules for how magic works and doesn’t work—which is what I am currently trying to work out during my writing sessions at my local coffee shop. It’s funny how given that magic is something that doesn’t exist, and can therefore theoretically operate any way I want it to, has me spending quite a bit of time researching… I’m sure my Google search history from my last writing session looks like that of a novice Wicca. Unfortunately, since magic isn’t real, it hasn’t been super helpful, but at least it helps to get some idea as to what plants and incantations supposedly do what so I have a place to jump off from when creating my system. Now to figure out how to put the pieces I have worked out to paper without falling into the trap of wordy and complicated exposition. It’s all about balance I suppose.
Hey guys, instead of a Town Line Tuesday this week I wanted to finally post something I’ve been struggling to finish for a while now about one of my all time favorite TV tropes—the musical episode (What’s not to love about watching your favorite characters spontaneously burst into song for seemingly no reason at all?)—I also want to try to post some flash fiction later this week and we’ll get back to our regularly scheduled Town Line Tuesday next week. Anyway, a few weeks ago one of my current TV show obsessions—SyFy’s The Magicians—came out with its version of the musical episode and it got me thinking about all of my favorite musical TV shenanigans. I thought about watching them all over again to see how The Magicians stacked up against them but including Magicians that’s seven hours I simply don’t have. Still, if I were to rate them from good to best, I think it would look something like this. (A/N: These are all the musical episodes I have seen—or at least all the ones I remember. Also, most of these are over a year old but since The Magicians is on this list I should warn you that this is in no way spoiler free so if you want to avoid spoilers stop reading now.)
Hey y’all! Here’s another little out of context line. From page 36 paragraph 7:
“Sulfur. You know what that means.”