Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Review of Bullet Witch

So recently Russ and I bought an Xbox 360 because his old, original drive Xbox finally bit the dust. We also got a Blockbuster membership under my name so we could start renting things again, as he owes late fees to every movie rental place in town. Unfortunately, the Blockbuster closest to us has a pretty lame selection of games and movies, and in wanting to try to pick up more 360 games to try I snagged Bullet Witch.

It had a female character who seemed to kick butt, demons, magic, and a bigass gun, so it must be decent, right?

Wrong. Bullet Witch, to put it simply, is an awful game. Which is a bit sad, because the concept is kind of cool. The game play is a bit clunky at best, and the level layouts are awful and repetitive. I didn't even continue playing after the second level. Why, you ask? Because it took me one hour and forty five minutes to complete the second level. I would hazard that twenty or more of those minutes were spent just running around like a complete moron, totally unsure of where to go next. The level construction is really simplistic and repetitive as well; You run around and shoot demons, heal the occasional human, and kill the floating brains that are the source of the colored shields that keep you out of certain areas. Then you do the same thing over again to open up another area of the level, with the occasional tank you have to bomb with a lightning spell. That's really all it is.

Skip it, unless you're OCD and desperate for the gamer points. They're fairly easy to get (10 for completing a level, some number for completing the game on easy, hard, and chaos and maybe another setting or two) but it really wears thin fast enough to not be worth your time. Go pick up Dead Rising or something, there are plenty of amusing achievements to get and they're worth a bit more.

All in all, I'd say 2.5 out of 5.0 quills.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Long Absence

Many apologies for the very long absence; I'm afraid it won't get much better for the next couple of weeks, either. I am in the midst of preparing a house to sell and packing up everything in the house to move to Georgia by the end of May. I have been insanely busy, and barely had time to sleep or read, much less write. This should change soon.

The other reason I was gone was of course, my "March" novel. It was so time intensive that I dropped all other writing.

I am proud to say that I passed the 50,000 word mark two days before the deadline, and have an almost-finished first draft of Music of The Night. I've started tweaking it a bit, but I've mostly been too busy to work on that as well.

That's about all for now. My hiatus should end soon, perhaps with another short story called The Queen's Gate or a passage from Music of The Night that doesn't completely suck.


Monday, March 5, 2007

The Day When Dreaming Ends

I had a pretty strict rule for myself about not posting fan fiction here, but when I was puttering around in the garage I found an old box of printed out papers, mostly stories from my dead machine. I was quite happy, because I have hard copies of at least a couple of them to type back up, and that is just a little bit less than I have to worry about pulling from the old machine.

One of my old fan fictions, which was actually fairly close to being an original story other than a couple of the characters, was called The Day When Dreaming Ends. It was about the downfall of the Marauders from Harry Potter, starting from their graduation and ending with the death of the Potters. I used to write a lot of fan fiction because I was a bit lazy, it was fun, and it would actually get attention. I might go back to it a bit just to build a base of readers to pawn off my published books to. ;)

It never got very far, but I was pretty happy with some of the plot twists I had, and I've been building my own modern wizards and witches after a short story about werewolves and a fortune teller, I thought I would totally revamp the characters and the places, but turn a couple of my more original and better fan fictions into their own stories. Into A Deeper Darkness was one, and perhaps Shards Behind A Golden Frame, but The Day When Dreaming Ends was always one of those. I found one of the pivotal scenes of the writing in that box today, and I like it, and so I thought I would post it here in it's original form so when the new one comes out it can be compared.

Most of the characters are original characters I created to fill out the Marauder's world. Only three from JK Rowling's world appear. The spell names, places, and world setting will have to change obviously, and dramatically, because I don't want to copy her work, but I think there is a good base there. There is some cursing in the excerpt, and it's not the best I've ever done but I think the comparison later will be neat. It is also written in internet style (not netspeak!) to make it easier on the eyes for reading on the computer.


The Day When Dreaming Ends

Laena's eyes frantically scanned the crowd, trying to catch a familiar face, a familiar pair of eyes. Her mouth and throat were dry, and tears threatened to spill down her cheeks.

She had never felt despair like this--not when she'd almost died, not when she'd slept with Sirius and she knew in her heart that it was nothing more than a favor, and not when Lily had vanished. She had run headfirst into death and could not escape, but now it was not merely her death.

As her eyes flickered across the Death Eaters, they caught the gaze of a pair of dark grey eyes. Eyes that she had dreamt about and loved for years, but she could see the difference between these eyes and the ones she loved.

"Regulus!" she hissed, and the startled man pulled off his mask. She could see the distress etched across Sirius's brother's young, handsome face.

Taryn made a startled noise from behind Laena, taking careful steps so she was not standing behind her heavy oak desk.

Laena thoughts raced frantically; Regulus probably had no great love for her. Why would he risk anything for her?

"What the hell do you want?" Taryn spat with uncharacterisitic nastiness. The leader chuckled, a low, cold laugh.

"It's typical of you, Lucius, to hide behind a mask. Don't think I don't know who you are," Taryn shot back in response to the laugh, a smug look on her face.

Laena looked surprised, giving Taryn an astonished look. The woman's ability to read people was amazing.

"The Department of Mysteries, Briant, is what we want. The secrets of it, and the way in." Lucius said smoothly, his voice not revealing the surprise in his cold eyes.

"Secrets which I know only you know. I will get them from you, and then I will kill you. I thought I'd be frank, seeing how you know everything. You always have," his voice was taunting.

They would kill her. She did not have the incredible intelligence that Taryn did; she did not know the Department of Mysteries' secrets. And because of her personality, she had openly spited the Dark Lord more than Taryn ever had. Terror shook her body; she finally had all she wanted, or at least the illusion of it, and now she was going to die. But her son, she couldn't let him die. Sirius needed him more than he needed her-- and she needed her son's life more than her own.

Her hands nervously wrung around a section of her flaming curls, and Laena decided to do something she had never done, never even considered.

She launched herself forward, grasping the front of Regulus's robes. The Death Eaters responded instantly, but a small Death Eater who gave a vauge sense of familiarity shouted for her to left alone. The Death Eaters listened, and slowly backed off.

"Regulus, I beg of you, don't kill me," she whispered, and the young man's eyes grw wide. Was this the fiery girl who has brother had always spoken of?

Lucius laughed cruelly as the other Death Eaters snickered loudly.

"So the unbreakable Laena O'Shannen begs for mercy; this is a sight worth seeing." he railed. Laena ignored him.

"Not for my sake--for your brother's. I carry your brother's son. Let me live for him," she said, and the tears finally came. They splashed down her cheeks and ran down her neck. Little tear flecks splattered across Regulus's face as he stared at her in unabashed horror. He didn't want Laena's murder on his hands--he didn't want murder at all.

"Please," Laena pleaded, her voice choked with tears.

At Laena's words about Sirius, one of the Death Eaters made a strangled noise deep in his throat. Laena didn't notice--all her focus was on Regulus.

Lucius swooped over and pushed Laena backwards. She stumbled and hit Taryn's big oak desk. Papers and office supplies went flying. Laena leaned against it for support, trying to force her body to stop shaking. Her ire was rising; Taryn could tell by her pursed lips and the flush that was spreading from her neck to her face.

"Did Black finally take you to his bed?" Lucius sneered, and Laena's eyes narrowed and became raging cinnamon slits.

"Does your wife ever voluntarily go to yours?" she shot back, and Lucius froze. She'd obviously touched a nerve. He snarled and raised his want.

"If you kill me, Lucius Malfoy, I bring the curse of the Celts upon you," Laena warned, and slid down the oak desk in exhaustion, looking up at the wizard. Lucius laughed hollowly.

"I'll never understand the Irish and their ridiculous beliefs," he said calmly, and Taryn snorted.

"You won't be laughing when the next time you step into Ireland a tree falls on your head," Taryn said nastily.

"Although it would be quite an improvement, I think." she added as an afterthought, and Lucius's expression was an odd one behind his faceless mask.

"What would be an improvement, Briant?" he snarled. Pride and arrogance really were his downfalls, Taryn thought to herself. He couldn't ignore her obvious distraction because it was insulting his pride.

"Oh, that you'd be dead. That'd make the world a much better place, believe me," she explained nonchalantly. Lucius started to make another comment, but stopped himself. He had too many important things to accomplish to waste time trading insults with an annoying mudblood.

"Is it true, that you carry Black's child?" One of the Death Eaters asked, his voice pained and strangled. It was the small one, the one who reminded Taryn of someone every time she saw him. The voice struck a chord somewhere, and Taryn frantically shifted through her endless amount of memories on people, voices and faces to try and identify it.

"It is, you bastard," Laena spat at him, and the man's shoulder sagged and it sounded like he choked back a sob.

"Oh god..." Taryn suddenly shouted, but it was too late. The man's form and already drawn up in pain and anger, and he had raised his wand.

"Avada Kedavra!" he sobbed and Taryn rushed forward in what felt like slow motion.

It didn't kill Laena instantly. He was such a weak wizard; he always had been. She was sprawled out on the ratty carpet for several moments, her face still frozen in a last expression of anger. Her lips moved, but no sound came out, and then Laena O'Shannen passed from the world.

It took Taryn several moments to register that Laena was dead; that her friend through the long years had suddenly and unexpectedly died and left her alone.

Taryn's eyes rose from her friend's form and rested on the small Death Eater. Her dark eyes glittered with unshed tears and an anger that she should never had felt boiled up in her soul. Taryn was a scholar, Taryn was a lover of all things...Taryn was never meant to be angry like this.

In a rage, she leapt onto her desk and ran across it. Snarling viciously, she launched herself onto the man, scratching and biting and flailing in rage.

"You fucking bastard! I'll kill you, I swear to God, I will fucking kill you!" she roared, and the force of her anger was incredible. In some part of her heart, she hoped they'd kill her for attacking him and then they'd never find out the secrets that resided in her head. Kill her so she could run after Laena, as she'd always done, and calm her anger.

Her hands scrabbled at his mask, trying to rip it off his face. Countless hands tore at her, yanking her away, pulling at her hair and clawing at her private parts.

"Don't think I don't know who you are! I always know! You'd better hope I never escape, because the whole of Gryffindor will tear you apart!" Taryn snarled, hateful words pouring from her lips. She had never had the desire to murder anyone before, but if she could have, she would have murdered him. She would have found a time-turner and gone back in time and murdered him.

She screamed at the top of her lungs. The force of it tore at her throat, and still didn't begin to express her range and betrayal. She should have known, she could see into everyone's souls. Why hadn't she seen the darkness in his?

The muscles in her legs and arms burned with exhaustion, but still she fought, pulling against the power of a dozen men. They would not take her...she couldn't.

One well-placed blow shattered Taryn's kneecap, sending her tumbling to the ground. And still she fought, with tears of pain, both physical and emotional, pouring down her face. Never had she been so expressive. Never had she fought so hard in her entire life.

And she lost. Her hands could only grip the doorframe for so long...her uninjured leg could only do some much damage. The hands grasped around her, and she lost.

She looked up one last time, murder and hate shining in her once gentle eyes.

"You'd better hope you never put one finger into Ireland, Peter Pettigrew." She raged, and spit into the eyehole of his mask.

And that was the last that was ever seen or heard from Taryn Briant, one of the most brilliant minds to ever pass through Hogwarts and the Ministry of Magic.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Day 1

I think I could continue writing, but I have done well today and want to give things time to stew in my brain, so I have some faint idea of what to do tomorrow. Today has been a good day, I have been fairly productive. I can't say I'm happy with what I wrote, and I definitely can't say that it is good, but it is on paper. I still haven't found the style or voice for this novel yet, and that is more of the kind of writer's block I have been having. Not really the inability to write, although that has been prevalent as well, but the inability to write with a flow or a certain voice. Much of what I have written today has been awful, actually, with characters going off onto paragraphs long thought streams.

I dislike writing first person, but much of what I have done today seems to have been some odd first person-third person. It's also more telling than showing, and I don't know whether I want just the main character David to have chapters, or to spread it out. It is almost a mystery so having his younger brother, mother, or anyone else narrate at all or even be the focus of a chapter will probably ruin some of the intrigue. But to follow the No Plot? No Problem! book, I need to worry about none of that now. I am just supposed to write whatever comes into my head, and get the entire story on paper, and then I revise it and find it's voice and structure. In this exercise, it is the second step, while the first step is to mainly spew crappy writing onto the paper.

According to the book, these feelings diminish as the story takes shape, the longer you write, and it seems less haphazard and bad. I hope so.

Words Needed a Day to make 50,000: 1,667
Personal Goal: 2,000
Today's Word Count: 4, 152
Amount over Goal: 2, 152
Chapter: Still on Chapter 1
Characters Introduced: The main character, David, and one of the supporting females, Holly. Brief mention of Carolynn and Elijah, David's mother and brother. And Tramp the dog.
Stuff that happened: A whole lot of nothing, actually, other than David complaining about the weather, meeting Holly, and getting her to take him around the city so he knows some of the places to go.
Main Complaints: Listed above. A lot of internal monologuing and very little description. It flows very poorly and it makes me want to stab myself, but I must carry on. David is very slowly establishing himself, but I need to do that less with him "telling" the reader while thinking it and more through actions.
Good things: I like Holly. She exploded onto the page more fully formed than I thought she had been in my head. Hopefully she'll stay that way, because the part of the chapter with her in it moved very fast, even if I'm not too happy with it.
Quote (aka, the least bad):

“As long as you’re not some man-whore artist who just wants to add me to his list of lays, I can do that.” She shelved the last couple of books and stood up.

"No, no long list of lays for me. Unfortunately," he added as an afterthought.

Now I just need to get a vague idea of where I'm going, and figure out something to do for the rest of my night since this went fairly smoothly. I'm actually getting excited about editing it and fixing it, even though I think it will be a total mess and almost a complete rewrite. I just have to get there, though.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

30 Days

Something big is in the making here at the Doormat Writer. The other day, I picked up a book called No Plot? No Problem, a "high velocity guide to writing your first draft in 30 days" out of curiosity. Turns out it is written by the guy that founded National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), which takes place every November. I'm planning on doing NaNoWriMo in November, but starting tomorrow on the first I'm going to try out the ideas mentioned in the book.

So, in 30 days, I am going to attempt to write 50,000 words on my novel Music of The Night (because thats the one with the least amount of plot so far) by the 30th of March. I plan to keep daily updates on this massive undertaking, mainly just word count and such, as I think much of what I will be writing won't be fit for anyone's eyes. ;)

If I make the 50,000 word mark, I will have most of a novel, and Russell will take me to Luciano's (a very good, but expensive local Italian restaurant) for dinner. If I "lose", we'll still go to Luciano's but I'll have to pay (ouch).

Now I am going to go enjoy my new Sims game before I sell my soul to my keyboard.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Immortal Verses

Sorry for the lack of updates, but writers block continues and I don't have much good stuff to post, as I'm trying to keep most of my articles, stories and poems to where they are being published in a very polished form. It was also my birthday this week, so I was being lazy and spending time with my family and friends. :)

Several weeks ago, I received a letter from, where on a whim I had entered my poem Sea Song into their monthly poetry contest. It was chosen as a semi-finalist, and is set to be published in the poetry anthology Immortal Verses this spring. I don't think I won the 1,000 dollar prize, though. But that's okay!

Hopefully I'll be able to write well again soon, and my successes (though small at this point) will continue.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Review of "The Virgin's Lover"

I haven't been able to read much lately (at least books I haven't read before. I have made some progress through older books of mine in rereads) because of school, writing, and working on the house to get it ready to sell, but I did recently pick up Phillipa Gregory's The Virgin's Lover. It is not quite as dirty as it might sound; it is a historical novel about Queen Elizabeth I.

I have seen many of Gregory's books while browsing the isles of Barnes and Noble, but I've never picked up any of them. Her other books The Other Boleyn Girl and The Queen's Fool also look intriguing, but they all only come in the "big print" form which is roughly fifteen dollars per book, and although I am interested in them I don't really have the money to throw at the big print books, while paying 7 to 8 dollars for a regular paperback isn't so bad.

In 1558, Elizabeth I becomes the queen of England after her sister Mary's death. Sir Robert Dudley, of the powerful but disgraced Dudley family rushes to her side, eager to gain his place in society back. He leaves his wife Amy behind as he is wrapped up in the scandal, glamour and riches of the Tudor court, and soon his falls in love with his childhood friend Elizabeth. As their illicit affair spreads across the country, Elizabeth strings along several potential husbands while waiting for an invasion from France, who wishes to crown Mary Queen of Scots the Queen of England. Robert abuses Elizabeth's power, and begins to take hold of her, trying to convince her to allow him to set aside Amy and marry him. When Amy Dudley is found dead, the country is in an uproar.

This is based on history, as Elizabeth I was very close to Sir Robert Dudley, and Amy Dudley's death remains a mystery even now.

I'll have to say I had an odd reading experience with The Virgin's Lover. I can finish most books in a day or two if I read them straight through, or a week if I'm busy. In high school I read three or four books a week. Just another example of how engaging and educational even the higher level high school classes are. It took me a couple of weeks to read this book, because I stopped for a week or two, maybe longer, because I didn't like it. The beginning was good, but the more the book went on, the more disgusted I became with Robert Dudley, who is for much of the book is the main character. I had no sympathy for him, as he absolutely abuses poor Amy in his desperation to get back the power his family lost under Mary's catholic rule. I admit that I haven't read much history on Elizabeth, so I am not sure of her true nature, but the Elizabeth in this book is spoiled, petty, weak, and neurotic. I cannot see any of the woman remembered today as the proud, intelligent and brave ruler of England in the character in the book.

However, once you hit a certain point in the book, while Robert Dudley does not become anymore sympathetic (at least for me) Elizabeth grows closer to the vision of her I have in her head. When she realizes the hold Robert has over her after he goes too far, she begins to work behind his back to regain her respect and her power, and becomes a more stable and powerful character.

Amy Dudley is such a tragic character, and while she begins very meek despite her husband's constant grasps at power that fail horribly, she deepens in her religion and her convictions. The reader is rooting for her once she finally grows a spine to speak back to Robert.

All in all, a fairly enjoyable read if you can get past the conniving, adulterous, and power-obsessed Robert Dudley. 3.5 out of 5 quills.

"Grandeur! Are you still running after grandeur? Will you never learn your lesson? There was nothing very grand about you when you came out of the Tower, homeless and hungry; there was nothing very grand about your brother when he died of jail fever like a common criminal. When will you learn that your place is at home, where we might be happy? Why will you insist on running after disaster? You and your father lost the battle for Jane Grey, and it cost him his son and his own life. You lost Calais and came home without your brother and disgraced again! How low do you need to go before you learn your lesson? How base do you have to sink before you Dudleys learn your limits?"