Monday, March 23, 2015

Fantasy Writing Focus: Bastion: Build That Wall Lyrics

As a video game enthusiast, I love spending my time immersed in that world as much as possible. The only thing I love more though? Music, particularly of the video game variety. Gaming soundtracks have come a long way since the blip-bloop-bleep of days gone by. That doesn't mean it wasn't awesome back then. Even with the hardware limitations of the time (thank you Yuzo Koshiro!), there was a lot to be said for the talent it took to truly capture a mood without the aid of realism in those days.

Music Sets the Mood of a World in Motion

Today's game soundtracks are much more lavish and will often feature lyrics, such as the opening track from Legend of Dragoon, titled If You Still Believe or the James Bond-esque Snake Eater from Metal Gear Solid 3. But there was one tune in particular that really captured my fancy:

I dig my hole, you build a wall...

Such simplistic lyrics yet so much behind them. This song is rather intriguing because it doesn't directly relate to the gameplay but the backstory. After hearing it on internet radio a few times, I assumed it was designed for a puzzle game that had to do with digging holes and building walls. Surprise! It's more of an in-world secret, a folk tune played by a lone girl as she strums her guitar. Each time I listened to it, I was drawn in more and more.

This is a really juicy bit for fantasy writers especially because this song goes right to the heart of worldbuilding. With no preface, Zia's singing lulls you in and makes you want to know more of the what and why of the environment in which you play. This deceptively calming tune is actually a war song of the Ura people in the world of Bastion. Should you ever pick up a controller and play, you can learn a lot more, but for now just enjoy this striking melody. I challenge you not to hum along.

Lyrics to Build That Wall

I dig my hole, you build a wall
I dig my hole, you build a wall
One day that wall is gonna fall

Gon' build that city on a hill
Gon' build that city on a hill
Someday those tears are gonna spill

So build that wall and build it strong
'Cause we'll be there before too long

Gon' build that wall up to the sky
Gon' build that wall up to the sky
Someday your bird is gonna fly

Gon' build that wall until it's done
Gon' build that wall until it's done
But now you've got nowhere to run

So build that wall and build it strong
'Cause we'll be there before too long

Some great fantasy writers have drafted folk tunes and incorporated them into their writing. Hans Bemman, J. R. R. Tolkien, and G. R. R. Martin are just a few. Can you think of any others to add to this list?

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Monday, February 23, 2015

Fiction Facts: Reader! Suspend Thy Disbelief!

What's awesome about the number of people visiting my blog is that I can assume they are readers. Not necessarily of my work, though an author can and will dream to her bloody heart's content! But since you are here, I hope you've made the time for a good book of late. As I traverse the web, I see lots of recurring themes among the commenting populace, but there is one particular group that is making my hairs stand on end. That group is the Y-4's.

You could be a Y-4 and just not know it

The Y-4's are a segment of readers who consistently report a difficulty in their ability to suspend disbelief in a fictitious world simply because said world contains a very visible group of people whose existence remains in direct opposition to happy joy-joy time. The short version of that sentence can be read as:

Majority of good people over here  {-                  -} Small amount of bad people over there 

Why are they called Y-4's? Because I always envision them deep in thought, speaking with a rich internal accent, and saying, "Why for you no erase these persons? They are bad people, no?"

Ultimately, what triggered this post was a question someone asked about the Harry Potter series that went something to the effect of,

"If the members of Slytherin House are such d-bags, then why are they allowed to exist?"

If this were an isolated question, I might not have thought much about it. But as I am seeing more and more of this type of inquiry on my trips through cyberspace, I thought I might take a crack at answering it.

Let dragons be slain while jerks remain bitter

The answer, my dear Y-4, lies in the simple fact that genocide is a nasty sort of business. It isn't the answer to your problems in reality, and it certainly won't fly in well-written fiction. As you go through life, you will meet people that you don't necessarily mesh with in any way. Some of them you might even be related to! However, we as human beings have decided that life is precious on any level, so we must do our best to compromise and work together to keep things moving along.

Magic users are people too...most of the time

And while I'm on the subject, for those who wonder why people with special powers don't just run around dominating non-magical persons and doing them in, the reason lies in morals and conscience. You don't have to have magic powers to harm someone, but most of don't because we make a choice as sane individuals NOT to hurt other people no matter what drives us.

It's okay to be angry, hurt, sad, or any other number of things, but once those feelings translate to pain for another person, then we have a problem. It wouldn't be too far-fetched to think characters in fiction have similar thoughts and feelings. Some do choose to hurt others. Usually those people are called villains though.

I will close with a final reminder. When you find yourself asking why the jerks get invited to the story, just remember that a book without conflict probably isn't much of an interesting read. It would be a pretty short tale, though it might still go for 99-cents on Amazon. "Conflict-Free Reading" I just may have to experiment with that sometime. Perhaps there truly is an audience for every genre.

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Monday, January 19, 2015

Kraft Goes Cheap: Murders Cadbury Creme Egg

cadbury creme eggs 5 in a box
Photo Credit: Anthony Devlin
It's a tale older than time itself or at least since the first corporation was formed. A business offers a product or service to the public. The public supports the concept by making purchases regularly. The business then rewards the public's loyalty by taking everything they love about the product and rending it to inedible, unpalatable ash with a higher markup.

This has become the expected norm over time, and for the most part we have become increasingly complacent. Naturally, businesses must make a profit to survive. Surely we cannot villainize them for adhering to the fundamental laws of economics and free trade in the name of pleasing shareholders.  We can choose to fight such brazen actions, not with physical violence, but with our dollars. The problem is that we won't win...

 Because candy is for children. And children don't care. 

How many times have you taken a trip down memory lane and swallowed a bite of your favorite childhood cereal or candy or other tasty treat only to go, "Ick! This doesn't taste as good as I remember." Feed it to a child nearby, and they're as happy as little larks in springtime.

You're not crazy. It really doesn't taste as good. They just have no reference point as you or I do, so they are happy all the same. And someday, they too will miss the taste of their favorite childhood yummies as they munch on soylent green or whatever it is that Monsanto has managed to replace food with by then.

It's because they WANT you to know, Jennifer. They're laughing at your pain.

So the major candy controversy at the moment (aside from the fact that Easter candy is out in January) is that in the UK, Mondelez, which used to be known publicly as good ol' Kraft Foods over there, has changed the Cadbury Crème Egg recipe. Uh oh! No more dairy milk! The company will start using some sort of "standard cocoa mix" recipe in its place.

Kraft could care less. America is Hershey's Problem

A lot of Americans breathed a sigh of relief as it was noted that the U.S. version would not be affected. That is until they discovered that their version has been made with powdered milk for quite some time now. The significance of this fact is currently in question, but L.V. Anderson does a delightful job of explaining just how much dairy milk has to do with the original British Cadbury Crème Egg.

cadbury creme egg smaller?
cheep cheep, little bird... cheap cheap indeed

In any case, the iconic candy has not been as good for some time now. It's just something we'll have to accept as companies continue to go on the cheap. Easter candy may be ruined for the grown-ups, but the children will still enjoy their high-fructose-chemical-laden-joy-joy-bombs this year. After all, precious memories are what matter most. How could we ever laugh about what they don't understand without them?


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Monday, December 15, 2014

Meet Carnival-Tycoon, My New Time-Suck!

Create long lines and watch profits soar! Bwahahahahahaha!
The biggest problem any author has is finding new ways to waste time instead of scribing their next big thing. Trust me, I know this. That is why I am writing today's post on awesome ways to waste
time. Since I am SUCH a big believer in efficiency, in this case, you only need one, and that is the wonder that is Carnival-Tycoon.

A Charming Theme Park Sim

There may be other more popular versions of this game available for purchase, but this specific version is different. It is completely web-based so there is nothing to download. It is also 100% free to play. I get absolutely nothing from the mention of this game other than the satisfaction of sharing the joy I have received from it as a fan of simulation games in general.

Even if you aren't a gamer, you might know someone who would enjoy building their own theme park, so share, share, share!

The Sights and Sounds of Carnival Life

What I enjoy most is the fact that while Carnival-Tycoon is a free app, it is very well done in terms of detail. Every attraction is animated in its own special way and comes complete with high-quality sound-bytes. It's like you are actually at a carnival!

There is a story-mode where you can attempt to complete pre-set goals and challenges. Or you can play in sandbox mode (my favorite) and build your own theme park from scratch. There are plenty of offerings which you can use to color your landscape and own the park of your dreams only to tear it down and start over again. Yes, it IS that fun!

If you do decide to play, I'd love to see what you've come up with for your own perfect park!

A grand aerial view of Wonky-Tonk Island!

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Monday, December 8, 2014

Birthdays, Book Trailers, and Other Things!

December is here...and it rocks. I give to you:

New YA Fantasy Book Trailer Launch: The Lost Remnant

My book-baby is growing up, and I am super-thrilled to share this moment with you. Book trailers are a ton of work. You wouldn't believe how much goes into preparing for a finished product of just over two minutes in length. Regardles, I can't stop watching the darn thing. If you love it too, please rate, comment, and share. Coming soon: The Lost Remnant in Audiobook format!!! Yeahhhhhhhh!

Birthday Bliss is Still Going Strong...

I had a great birthday! Chocolate-covered strawberry cake and fizzy cider were had. I also got a copy of Manga Studio EX 5, so I am preparing to do more damage in the coming months as I dive deeper into the world of comics and animation. I was also graced with the loveliest bouquet of roses! Today might mark the end of birthday week, but I refuse to stop smiling.

Spotlight: Tilted Tales - New Book Release...

If you are a lover of fairy tales and whimsy, I implore you to keep an eye out for Tilted Tales by A. L. Sant. I grew up on fable and folly, but I also love cheeky wit and humor. This title has it in spades, from the cleverest haiku poems to short stories and everything in between. If you've never fallen in love with a wimbie, then add this to your Amazon wishlist. You'll be glad you did.


YA Fantasy Novel The Lost Remnant

Friday, November 7, 2014

Black Friday Free eBook Giveaway

I am truly blessed. I say this because when I take the time to let everything around me sink in, I realize that I have accomplished most of what I set out to do. Most importantly, however, I published a book. I am by no means alone in this wish. My early marketing efforts have already shown me that I am drowning in a sea of masterworks written by my peers.

Should I give away my work for free?

Please do not mistake my words for marks of envy. On the contrary, I respect and admire anyone who goes after their dreams, no matter the field. Perseverance is not an easy thing to cling to, so I absolutely give kudos to anyone who has completed the journey of writing a novel from start to finish. It is an amazing, frustrating, and testing experience at best. So what is the answer to the question? Do I just give it away or hoard it like a dragon over her hard-won trove of gold?

Many self-pubbers struggle with this question daily as they venture into the gladiator's arena for the attention of what feels like a finite pool of readers. I have found value in both sides of the argument and still do. My conclusion is that there is no right answer. At the end of the day each must live with his own decision.

The Great Black Friday Giveaway...

Of course I wish to be compensated for my labor, but it is difficult to hold the finished product in my hands and deny the most simple fact: I wrote to be read, pure and simple. I do find joy in royalty checks, but there is something about a reader reaching out to me to share their excitement over Chapter X or how they "can so totally relate to Character Z." It warms my heart to no end. Dollars make sense, especially with the cost of living in the U.S., but you are so much more to me.

So with my birthday swiftly on the approach I have TWO giveaways going on.

  • Goodreads - 1 autographed paperback edition will be awarded by way of random drawing. Open to U.S. residents only at this time. Please visit the Goodreads site for details.

  • Kindle Free Days on Amazon - YES! The eBook version of The Lost Remnant will be available FREE FOR DOWNLOAD worldwide on the following dates: 11/27/14 through 12/1/14. (Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday!)

If you are the lucky recipient of a free book in any of its forms, and you enjoy the experience, you can repay me in several ways if you are so inclined. The first way is by leaving a review on Amazon or Goodreads, or anywhere really. You can send me an e-mail with questions or comments. You can definitely tell a friend, and last but not least you can make a donation to my tip jar or snag some awesome swag in the shop. Any of these actions say, "I salute you." and encourage me in my writing habit. Read on, readers, and best of luck in the upcoming giveaways!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Lost Remnant by J.N. Race

The Lost Remnant

by J.N. Race

Giveaway ends December 04, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Saturday, November 1, 2014

NaNoWriMo YA Fantasy Book Giveaway!

National Novel Writing Month is finally here! Most often affectionately referred to as #NaNoWriMo to those who know it best. Me and my love of Story go way back, so I am pleased to contribute to the festivities by hosting a giveaway of my 1st YA Fantasy novel: The Lost Remnant.

I like to think of it as a way of celebrating my published status and encouraging all those who are putting their noses to the grindstone for #NaNoWriMo. What are you working on at the moment? I'd love for you to post in the comments and share!

Having just released The Lost Remnant this July, I am not quite ready to start on the draft for book two. I am, however, cranking out the outline like crazy. To those who are working on their first novel, keep at it! You can probably already envision the finished product in your hands. I can promise you, it is TOTALLY worth the effort.

Here is what's up for grabs...

The Lost Remnant NaNoWriMo Giveaway

Entering is super simple. The giveaway is being hosted by the Book of the Month club on Facebook. 1 Like = 1 entry. 1 Share = 5 entries. The winner will receive an autographed copy of The Lost Remnant in addition to a personal message from myself. Best of luck and keep on writing!!!

YA Fantasy Novel The Lost Remnant