Pages of Awesome

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Covers, Pre-Readers, and Chick Flicks - A Random Post

So what do the following things have in common?
  • Book Covers
  • Pre-Readers
  • Chick-Flicks
Er...nothing. Which is why this is a random blog post! Woohoo!

If I had to say that there was something in common it'd be that these three things have all played a part in my past week. All three are pretty awesome lol.

First off, I'm sure most of you know who teen author Jacob Parker is. I talk about him quite a bit on my blog, creepy I know, and this past week his novel Kestrel's Midnight Song (due out December 2010 - Spring 2011) received its first bit of cover art!!

Head on over to The Yodeling Dwarf to see this awesome work of art.

I've read the first couple chapters of Kestrel's Midnight Song and Jacob writes exceptionally well. If that cover sketch doesn't grab you read the prologue and you'll be hooked.

But I'd like to focus on the cover today. Let me make one thing clear--that is only a sketch, and that alone would convince be to buy the book.

Cover art is extremely important in the writing world, especially for newbie authors. "Don't judge a book by its cover" sounds really nice and pretty, but everyone does it. Raise your hands if you have. I do it.

I typically judge first by title and then by cover/back summary. But here's what a cover has to do/be for it to interest me;
  • Nicely Drawn (duh)
  • Mysterious
  • Different
  • Set the book apart from others
I think Jacob's cover covers all of these things. And it's not even finished yet! The dragon/bird/griffin creature is called an Aegre Bird and is half bird/half dragon. When it is done it will likely be a reddish color. Pretty sweet right?

The sketch is drawn very well. So the finished product will likely be incredible. The Aegre bird is super mysterious, one of the coolest original creatures ever. And naturally, being an original creature, it is different and sets it apart.

So I really like it lol

How about you? What are your favorite covers? What makes a book have a good cover? What does "good cover" even mean? And are covers even important? Why or why not?

Some more big news. Do you all remember Scott Appleton? He visited my school not too long ago (see blog post) and there I bought his first book--Swords of the Six (also with an awesome cover).

Well the sequel, Offspring, will be coming out in the spring of 2011 and Scott asked me to pre-read it!

I am super excited! I've only ever pre-read one novel before and it was a blast. I expect a lot out of Offspring. Swords of the Six rocked my socks and, as my review says, I know it was only the beginning to a much larger and epic series.

Now with pre-reading comes reader reviews/endorsements. Whether or not Scott wants me to write one or not I'm not sure yet. But I'm curious, do you read endorsements? Do they mean anything to you?

And last night I went and saw that movie Leap Year with some friends of mine.

Yeah, it was a chick flick. But there was this really cool Irish guy.

How can you not like a movie where there are lots of people with Irish accents? I mean come on! It's awesome!

But yeah, the story was good too :)

So what do you guys think? Covers? Pre-readers? Chick flicks?

Bring it on.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

CCC Part One - Loyal Sidekick

Do you remember that old post called "Characteristics of Characters and Their Character?" I promised then that I'd do a series on the different types of characters and so now, drum roll please, we are ready to ......................... begin!

Aside from, of course. the main character, touched on in the original post, the loyal sidekick is perhaps the most important in my eyes. These characters are always my favorites--Samwise Gamgee, Walter Foley, R2D2 (kinda a stretch), etc--and being such I hope to write them well and enjoy when they are written well.

I know the Lord of the Rings story pretty well, and Tolkien wrote this character very good in my opinion, so let's go with Samwise Gamgee, gardener to the main character Frodo Baggins.

When he is first introduced into the story Sam is portrayed as a hilarious fat hobbit (as Gollum notices ;) ) without a care in the world. But it is made very clear that no matter what dangers lie ahead Sam will never leave Frodo and that he'd be there when all of Middle-Earth crashed around them.

"I made a promise Mr. Frodo. 'Don't you leave him Samwise Gamgee' and I don't mean to!"

Man, I love these kind of characters. This little gardener has no clue what is coming ahead. He can't even comprehend the little that Fordo knows, and yet he very clearly is committing to stay at his side--his servant and friend.

These characters are incredibly loyal.

This trait is shown pretty well in the movies when Fordo sends Sam away. Sam retreats for a bit but then chases after his master upon finding that he is in danger.

And that brings us to another important point.

Loyal Sidekicks are filled with courage when their friend comes into danger.

So you have a hobbit gardener. He's good for what? Trimming the bushes? But when a nazgul or an orc messes with his Master Frodo you'd better watch out--this fat hobbit is about to get feisty.

Good friend characters do that. They risk their lives blindly for the sake of their comrade.

Sam demonstrates this a number of times. Especially in ROTK when Frodo is taken by Shelob and then later the orcs of the Cirith Ungul. He's filled with courageous wrath and takes down the spider and the warriors. First for Frodo and then for his people.

The other good thing that they are for is comic relief.

Come on, who doesn't love a bit of humor? Regardless of how serious the story is, readers/viewers often need a good dosage of humor. The main characters do as well, and these best-friend-types are great for that kind of thing.

Say it with me--"PO-TA-TOES"

Now here comes the two most important things, in my opinion, that these characters can do.
  1. Remind the hero of what they're fighting for
  2. Carry the hero
Heroes often become distressed in their situations--who can blame them?--and, in many stories, are tempted to give up the quest all together. When all hope is lost there is only one person in all the story world that can give them hope, and that is their best friend--their Sam Gamgee.

This is VERY important to me. Hope is what drives people, even in the real world ;). And so when the hero looses faith, as they often do, they must recover their hope or else fail altogether.

Here's a good example, again from Sam;

Do you remember the Shire, Mr. Frodo? It'll be spring soon and the orchards will be in blossom, and the birds will be nesting in the hazel thicket. And the whistle in the summer barley in the Lower fields. And eating the first of the strawberries with cream. Do you remember the taste of strawberries?

They are standing on Mount Doom. The end of the world has come--all hope is lost. Their strength has run out and the Ring is bearing down on Frodo more than he can bear. There is only one thing now that can give him strength. Not the rescuing of Gondor, not the safety of Gandalf, Merry, Pippin, or anyone else. Not even the saving of his own life, for to him it is already lost. No...what he was willing to climb that mountain for only Sam knew.

The Shire.

And so that passion was ignited with his words.

But the ring bore down so hard. The pain of the quest, the sorrows the hero had faced, the misery, the lost, the darkness, and all things that are evil caused our hero to lose hope. He'd come to terms with reality--evil would win. Fear had taken over.

No, Sam. I can't recall the taste of food, nor the sound of water, nor the touch of grass. I'm naked in the dark. There's nothing--no veil between me and the wheel of fire. I can see him with my waking eyes.

And it is when the hero can no longer move himself, can no longer bear to stand, that the loyal friend must step in.

I can't carry It for you, Mr. Frodo, but I can carry you!
That is the purpose of these characters. And if you're like me, it makes you cry and draw swords when you read/hear those words.

These loyal "sidekicks" are the real heroes, without them the "heroes" wouldn't have made it as far as they did. These guys/girls are inspiring, to me. I want to be a Sam to my friends, and I long for friends like that.

I don't know about you...but I want to write characters like this. Loyal, courageous, encouraging, loving, characters.

So...what do you think? lol

Monday, January 4, 2010

New New Year Resolutions

Once upon a time a crazy lady thought up the idea of doing new year resolutions. If you do not know what these incredibly painful things are, I will explain them to you.

New Year's Resolutions typically fall in one of the following categories;

  • Starving yourself to death
  • Shutting out the joyous wonders of an Oreo McFlurry's
  • Sweating large amounts of liquids so that you can loose much of your natural body
  • And running in circle
As you can see (especially by the first one) these are horrible, horrible, ideals. Why would anyone on earth want to try and make something similar to them? You don't understand? I know, me either. They are EVIL.

So I thought that I would try and be different and actually make a resolution possible to follow through with and one that will not cause me any pain and misery at all (as sweating, starving, and resisting ice-cream would do). It is very plain, simple, boring perhaps. But it is definitely the better choice from among the options.

Finish my novel.

For me, this is a simple goal to reach. In fact, I go so far as to say that if it is NOT finished by the end of January. I will give myself two additional weeks, in which ALL I will do is write. Should I somehow fail, I will do nothing but type over Spring break.

That's the plan of action, and hopefully it will not go so far as Spring Break. I do plan to finish this month. It will be done :)

It's the start of the new decade, and so I thought maybe I'd make some decade-ial resolutions. Again, plain and simple.

Publish, and promote, Redemption's Journey. Ten years is a long while. There's not a doubt in my mind that it will happen. Hopefully more will be completed and published as well.

Yeah it is a big dream. But I do think it could happen. You have got to aim at the moon right?

That being said, what are YOUR resolutions? The start of a new decade. New year. New Month. New day. What's the plan? Let's hear it.

And no Anti-McFlurry cultists :P
"Stand tall now and proclaim what you have seen, speak in whispered roars..."