Monthly Archives: September 2009

Publications of all sorts

I got another article published over at Friends of Lulu. If you’ve ever wanted to know the five most important things about creating graphic works, read it here.

Things are getting exciting around here! I’m checking out contests for a couple of my short stories, querying FLYNN, and a friend of mine just launched a small publishing company which is desperately seeking submissions. Just what every writer wants to hear. If any of you ever write short stories geared to the Christian market, visit her site at Written World Communications.

Meantime, I’m on my way to the Sirens conference in Vail, CO, a conference dedicated to women in fantasy literature (authors, characters, and readers alike). I’m writing this from Hays, KS, in a Motel 6 where I just paid a little under four dollars to access the Internet.

RHDavis

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Captivity: The Inevitable Turnoff

I’m about two-thirds through THE WARRIOR HEIR and enjoying it pretty well. The middle dragged a bit, and for awhile my attention flagged. In fact, I almost lost interest in the thing and stopped reading entirely. Here’s why.

*spoilers!*

Teenage warrior Jack is on the run from two wizarding Houses, the Reds and the Whites, both of whom wish to catch him and force him to participate in the dangerous Tournaments on behalf of their House. He must also avoid the Traders, who want to capture him and sell him to the highest bidding House. About midway through the book, it looked as though the Traders were going to get him. I expected the rest of the story to play out as follows: 1. Jack is shuffled through the grim slave trade world, and all escape attempts fail. 2. One of the Houses buys, trains and manipulates him, and all escape attempts fail. 3. Jack is forced into the tournament, and all last-minute escape attempts fail.

The bottom line is, I cannot stand stories that revolve around heroes in captivity.

Captivity is such a common theme that you really have to do something innovative to impress me.  A proud and patient hero suffering a thousand little indignities at the hands of gleefully cruel enemies sends me to sleepy land faster than tranquilizers.

Now, stories which begin with the hero in captivity and go on to chronicle their escape interest me. Think Maerad at the start of the PELLINOR series, or Harry living with his cruel relatives in HARRY POTTER. They go on to bigger and better things, making us think that maybe we can, too.

But when the hero’s capture and imprisonment interrupt the middle of the story, I begin to suspect the author of falling asleep at the wheel. First of all, nothing much happens plot-wise. Secondly, what does happen plot-wise is just a series of events constructed to prove to the audience just how trapped/humiliated/impotent the hero is. Such incidents pile up to ridiculous proportions, as if the author worried that he hadn’t accurately portrayed the utter hopelessness of the hero’s situation, and so added in “just one more” scene of failed escape/villain humiliating hero/hero being frustrated at own impotence. Think third season LOST (come on, writers, where were you?).

But I’m happy to say that THE WARRIOR HEIR did not disappoint. Thank the sweet heavens Jack escaped his would-be captors, and we actually got to see more action in the storyline–rather than a long exposition on how cruel the magical slave trade is.

I hope to be done with this book soon and post a full review.

RHDavis

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Sunday Blogging

It’s Sunday! Head over to http://www.smblooding.blogspot.com for today’s guest post by yours truly!

RHDavis

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And the winner is….

The winner of the Happy Endings Writing Contest is:

Fishy, for her beat-the-odds, did-lots-of-things-someone-in-my-economic-and-life-bracket-shouldn’t-be-able-to-do happy ending.

Congratulations Fishy! You can expect to see your  new YA book soon.

RHDavis

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Dead Characters

I’m reading a YA fantasy series (I won’t say which one to avoid spoilers) and one of the two main characters died suddenly in the middle of the second book (it’s a four-book series).

It’s a rather disorienting sensation. In the realm of fantasy and adventure, most main characters make it to the end, or at least until the final battle. I can’t tell if it’s upsetting or refreshing to have someone break that pattern.

I can’t help seeing it as a little random, though. It did ratchet up the tension for the main character (who is now alone on her journey), but other than that, the death served no purpose–except to go against the norm, which in and of itself isn’t always enough to make a plot twist fly.

However, the plot twist did work in terms of shock value. I found myself more attached to that character than I’d realized, and grieving his loss on behalf of the girl. It spiked the “heart-wrench” factor.

Of course, there’s always the chance that he’s not really dead. No dead body–he was buried under an avalanche. If he comes back, I would be happy for the characters but sad for the plot line. It would be too predictable and too derivative of Gandalf.

Wow. Here I am actually criticizing the possible return of a character from the dead. What’s gotten into me? Normally I’m all for everyone being alive. I stayed mad at George Lucas for about a week the first time I watched Return of the Jedi and saw Vader croak.

RHDavis

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Happy Endings Writing Contest

I recently got in a discussion at Science Fiction and Fantasy Novelists about happy endings–are they cheesy? Unrealistic? Do you like them or find them trite?

I won’t delve into that argument here. Maybe I’ll save it for a later post. But it did give me an idea for Up and Writing’s very first ever contest.Ooooh.

I want to hear your very best real-life happy ending. When did you fight the proverbial dragon and win? When did you find true love? When did everything look dark, only to end in a “eucatastrophe” (a term coined by Tolkien, meaning the opposite of catastrophe)?

The winner will receive a free YA fantasy/sci fi book. You can leave your stories as comments here, or e-mail them to me at rachel_heston_davis@yahoo.com. If you leave them as comments, please leave your e-mail so I can contact you if you win.

This contest runs for exactly one week–until Tuesday, Sept. 15 at the end of the day. On Wednesday morning, I’ll reveal the answers and e-mail the winner.

Can’t wait to hear your stories!

RHDavis

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Melting Stones Part II

Welcome to the second official meeting of the Up and Writing Book Club. As per my earlier announcements, we’re discussing part one and part two of MELTING STONES by Tamora Pierce today. Thus, today’s list of discussion topics is shorter than usual to accommodate the inclusion of last week’s topics.

I see two main points of interest in chapters seven through eleven. The first being Pierce’s envisioning of the magical/spiritual side of volcano activity, and the second being the exploration of Evvy’s views on humanity.

I like Pierce’s decision to personify the volcano, and I think she made a good choice in portraying its spirits as impulsive, childlike, and energetic. It would be difficult to buy into volcano spirits who were slow and thoughtful like Luvo, since real volcanoes don’t seem all that sedate. Flare and Carnelian’s childlike nature also makes sense because they have no experience in the world yet, having spent the whole of their existence in the confines of the pool.

These chapters also reveal a lot about Evvy. The book has already established her cynicism about human nature, but the volcano crisis brings it out even stronger. She pretty much feels that life is every man for himself, and if she’s done her part in warning the people, she’s no longer obligated to help them or care about their survival.

Particularly revealing is the line in which she defends her attitude by saying “It’s not like they’re people we care about” (i.e. their friends back at Winding Circle). I find this so interesting because it seems to mirror a very common attitude in our culture. People are more likely to care about injustice or tragedy if it happens to someone they know, but they’re not as quick to offer sympathy or help to strangers.

This part of the story also introduces Rosethorn’s concept of the choice to be a builder or a destroyer, a theme which will continue to run throughout the book. It made me take a critical look at my own life and ask the same question. I wonder how each of us could choose building over destroying in our everyday lives?

All right. Including last week’s topics, we have more than enough to think about already, so I’ll stop here. Thoughts?

RHDavis

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