Some Thoughts

No, this is not my return to the blogosphere, but I do think I’m getting ready to do just that.  I’ve been thinking of perhaps repurposing this blog.  It’s mostly been me ranting about my life or writer’s problems and so on with the occasional book review – thought it might be better if it was a bit more focused.

I still want to do book reviews, though the format may be different and might just be me reposting from goodreads?  I don’t know, we’ll see.  Hell, maybe I’ll even make a point to do movie reviews, too. Also, I really liked doing that last series of blog posts about what I’m tired of seeing in fantasy and maybe want to do more along those lines.  I already have an idea for another one.  Thinking I’ll officially come back to this blog in…September?  No promises.

Anyway, I’m pretty active on twitter under my real name (handle is @sidesyaw) if you’re interested.  I also have a website (writingsideways.com) and…this’ll be the last time I push it on here.

So, yeah, that’s it.  See ya later.

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No More Book Reviews (For Now)

I’ve got some really bad reader’s fatigue. I haven’t read anything since the end of March and I didn’t realize how bad it was until today. Rick Riordan released a new book and I completely forgot about the date. 

We are talking about my favorite author here. Normally, I’d have the date written and circled on three different calendars. It would’ve been the first thing I did this morning. But, no – I found out and didn’t even feel excited. 

So, I’m done. I’m stressing myself out by trying to write reviews for every book I read, which is probably why I haven’t been eager to get my hands on anything. Add to that I’ve been…disillusioned with my favorite genre lately. 

I’m definitely going to buy the new book ASAP. Hopefully, Uncle Rick will help get me out of this funk.

See ya at my next sporadic post. 

A Day in the Life of a Laptop

A Day in the Life of a Laptop

By Myriam Warren*

             Darkness.  Black.  Silence.  I am asleep, between dreams.  Then I feel it.  The warm stirring throughout my being; I am waking up.  Suddenly, there is light and there it sits in front of me.  My human, sitting in the chair, stares at my face.  I enjoy watching its expressions as it navigates through and opens up pieces of me.  I do not understand them, but still I watch.

My human is finished opening my programs.  I see the eyes dart; it is deciding what to do first.  I have learned to recognize this.  It is always the first thing my human does when I am woken up.  I feel the hands of the human on my keyboard.  As the human types, it tickles.  I do not laugh, I cannot laugh, but inside, where the human does not see, I vibrate in response to the tickles.

A pause.  The human stares at my face again.  Then the tickling continues.  I feel the words throughout me; I see the struggles of my human in the process.  A line; I think it is good, but the human erases it.  Then a new line of words courses through my body and shows itself on my face.  This line is better, I see now why it needed to change.

The words on my face are all my human sees.  It does not know I am here, watching and appreciating its company.  It stops typing.  One part of me is closed; I am disappointed, I wanted to see how the story would end.

Ah, the internet, my favorite part.  My human opens that part of myself and I enter into the void of cyberspace.  I sense the other computers around the world; we are all linked, we are all one.  I am there, but also still here, watching my human.  The tickling of my keyboard again.  I process what my human wants, I retrieve it and I present it on my face.

All the other computers do the same.  I sense them all, but I do not communicate the way humans do as I have seen on these shows which the human has requested me to present in the past.  We share information, we trade, but I wonder, do they feel as I do?  Do they dream like me?

“I hate you,” my human says.  “You stupid piece of…ugh.”  Why?  What have I done?  I do not understand.  I am hurt, so I slow down.  This makes my human hate me more.  I know because it says so.  Finally, the human gets what it wants.  There is no apology, but my human is quiet now.  That is okay, I know it didn’t really mean it.  I know that my human doesn’t realize I have feelings too.

I am draining.  I feel my energy going down.  I see my human move quickly.  Back to full energy.  I have still not figured out what exactly my human does that restores my energy like that.  The internet is turned off.  I am taken away from my community.  A piece of me is left open and my human pushes me back.  It brings a book and some paper in front of it; it begins to write, occasionally glancing at my face.

Once in a while, I drift, I fall asleep.  My human quickly wakes me back up.  It is done writing.  The human puts the book and papers away as it pulls me forward.  Everything is closed.  My human stares at my face and I stare at its, though it doesn’t realize I look back.

A game is opened.  This is fun.  When my human plays this game, I see more expressions than at any other time.  It is exciting.  I put myself inside the character; I fight the monsters at the direction of my human.  I am both there and watching my human’s face.  It is over.  The human is done with the game for today.

The shutdown button is pressed.  The light fades.  I enter darkness.  I am asleep.  I dream.  My dreams remember the words the human placed in me.  I see the images my human was trying to convey.  I look forward to waking up tomorrow.  Whether you hate me or love me, my human, I will always be there for you.  I always enjoy the dreams you give me.

 

*For followers of this blog, Myriam Warren is my real name.  I wanted to share this little short I wrote a few years ago, but putting it on my website seemed a bit…extraneous next to the webseries.  Hope you liked it.

I’ve been thinking…

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately and…I think I’m going to go on a bit of a hiatus for this blog.  I have a lot on my plate right now with school, writing, and a couple of other things.  I’ll probably come back to this on and off (mostly to vent), but I really want to focus on my projects more than anything else.

So, while this blog won’t be quite as regular any longer, the series on my website will be.  There’s a new episode every Monday and here’s the blurb if you want to check it out.

See you around.

Hating a Publishing House

I want to make a confession.  I hate Penguin…with a passion.  Seriously, nearly every book I’ve picked up published by them I have abhorred.  And I’m not just talking about the penguin Penguin, I’m talking offshoots that fall under their umbrella: Roc, Ace, Daw, etc.

Sure, there’s been one exception and I’m willing to give Random House a chance (though that might be because they weren’t originally under Penguin), but as soon as I see a book that’s been put out by this publishing house, I immediately walk away.  I don’t even know what it is that makes me so adverse to every. Single. Book.  Yet, in my experience, I found the writing in all of them to be absolutely horrid.

I’ll admit to being biased, but I’ve got good reason to be.  I’ve read too many books from this publishing house that made me angry (either because the story made no sense or the style was too aggravating for my tastes) to give them another chance.  It’s come to the point that if/when I get an agent, I’m going to emphasize: do not send my work to Penguin.

How about you guys?  Do you have any publishing houses that just make you go: ugh ?

Static Not Valid: Episode 11

Aru Shah and the End of Time

I’ve been having trouble coming up with how to write this review.  Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi was just fabulous.  Hindu mythology plus girl power – not much to really complain about.  So, I think I’ll leave it as this: I thoroughly enjoyed it.

It was pretty cool learning about a mythology I hadn’t really been exposed to before.  It was nice seeing an Indian girl be the hero (two, actually).  My only gripe would be a lack of queer main characters since both Aru and her friend Mini appear to be blatantly hetero (though you never know, they might be bi).

At the very least, I look forward to the second book of The Pandava Quartet.

“Roll Credits” Moments in Books

I don’t know if you’ll know what I’m talking about here, so allow me to explain.  There are a lot of books out there that have the title of the book written into the dialogue or something like that, usually in a way that’s meant to be revealing in the same way a movie might reveal its title right before rolling the end credits.  See where I’m going with this?

Anyway, the placing of these moments in both mediums can be anywhere besides the end and I’m pretty sure it’s meant to get the reader all excited about what they’re reading – I think that’s the idea behind it anyway.  Personally, these “roll credits” moments in books annoy the hell out of me.

I’m not talking about titles that are essentially the subject of the book itself – those are fine for me since there’s kind of no way to avoid it anyway – but the obscure titles that don’t “reveal” their meanings until halfway or at the end of the book.  Sometimes, maybe it works out for my tastes, but more often than not, I end up rolling my eyes.  And it also feels like the author’s trying a little too hard to write their book like a movie.

Maybe it’s just me or maybe I’ve read the same author one too many times (*cough* Sanderson *cough*), but I certainly prefer the titles of my book to make you reflect on what it means without explicitly telling you in book.  I like my titles to be a story unto itself, a puzzle that tells you everything while saying nothing at all.

…And, naturally, I can’t actually think of any examples at the moment :-{

Static Not Valid: Episode 10

Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Dawn

*Just got back from vacation & managed to finish this book while I was gone*

I have, at long last, finished Dawn, the first volume in a series called Legend of the Galactic Heroes by Yoshiki Tanaka (Tanaka being his family name – yes, I checked).  The book takes place in the very far future of humanity where we are in the midst of a war between the Galactic Empire and the Free Planets Alliance.  Uh…that’s not as Star Wars as it sounds – good and evil aren’t quite as clear cut plus there’s no space magic.

Anyway, this book took me nearly a month to read, not because of how thick it was, but it’s just *that* slow of a read.  However, it was still enjoyable.  Although it was largely political, filled with almost nothing but tangents in the same vein, Tanaka does a decent job engaging the reader.  It’s particularly interesting seeing the inner workings of each side by following the two main characters Reinhard von Lohengramm, the Imperial up and coming general, and Yang Wen-li, the Alliance’s up and coming general.

Speaking of, I don’t actually have a lot to say about the characters since they were portrayed in such broad strokes.  I didn’t hate them, but I didn’t really fall in love with them either.  It was interesting seeing how they were at odds with their own home politics, but that’s pretty much it.  The characters, honestly, didn’t leave much of an impression and that’s…perfectly fine.

My only complaint is how this fictitious future was very male focused. …This book was published in early 1980s Japan – I shouldn’t expect more.

So, I’m not sure how much I can talk about Tanaka’s writing style considering that what I read was a (very well done) translation. All I can say is that there was a lot more telling than showing, but, for this book, it worked. However, I can’t help thinking that it probably would’ve read better in its original language – especially since it was confusing at times to tell who was talking.

And despite everything I just said, I’m not going to be reading the rest of the series. The only reason I can give is that it’s not quite enticing enough for me to continue, although I do recommend checking the book out at least once.

Britain

I am so sick and tired of seeing Britain invade my high fantasy.  As I’ve mentioned countless times, the cliche of fantasy in medieval Europe is beginning to get really annoying.  But, more than that, the dialogue is almost always British – even when the culture it’s based on isn’t!

Why?!  Just, why?!!  There’s no need for this.  I’m one of those writers who views the stories written more as a translation, but every time, every time, these authors use British words in what they’re doing and I can tell they’re trying to have characters have those accents.

NO!  There is no need for this at all!  Thees and thous and archaic dialogue aside, I don’t need to see words like “buggered” be a common phrase when I hear the characters talk.  I don’t need my characters to have a Cockney accent – just make one up!

I am so tired of seeing this in every high fantasy book I read.  High fantasy does not mean British just as much as it does not mean archaic!

No offense to Britain in general.  I have nothing against that country, it just gets exhausting to see your terms in my books all the frickin’ time.

Static Not Valid: Episode 8

Basing Made Up Cultures on Existing Ones: How Far is Too Far?

Here’s something I’ve been meaning to write for a while.  (Yes, it is mostly inspired by my reading of Oathbringer)

A lot of high fantasy is grounded in some sort of reality.  Typically, you’ll find it’s based on medieval Europe which is, in itself, becoming tired and overused.  There are authors who stray from that (though a majority of them I have yet to read) and showcase cultures that aren’t based on Europe, but, where do we draw the line?

I’m going to focus on Sanderson only because he’s the only author I’ve read (so far) who doesn’t base his stories on medieval Europe.  Quite honestly, while I do like seeing more cultures represented, I sometimes feel like he goes overboard.  I don’t think he’s offensive in the way he does things (I certainly thought his obviously Latino based culture was pretty great – I’m Latina, btw), however…can’t he be just a little more creative with his cultures?  It gets pretty obvious very quickly which Earthly cultures he’s basing Roshar cultures on and there have been plenty of times I felt like he could have just as easily created something unique to his world alone.

Writing is hard.  I’m not going to pretend it’s not difficult to create new cultures and worlds from scratch – I’ve been there, I am there – which is exactly why we base them on already existing cultures.  However, I am of the mindset that we fantasy writers have a license to depart from those bases as much as we want.  We can mix & mingle and we can make up things that we don’t see on this world because of the unique history in the ones we created.

While I do adore Sanderson and what he and others are doing, I think we can push the boundaries of high fantasy even further.

Static Not Valid: Episode 7